ACC basketball schedule rotation set: Winners and losers

Posted by Andrew Carter on April 22, 2014 

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Virginia coach Tony Bennett cuts down the net following the Cavaliers 72-63 victory over Duke in the ACC Tournament Championship on Sunday, March 16, 2014 in Greensboro, N.C.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

It used to be simple enough, the ACC basketball schedule. Every team in the league played every other conference team twice during the regular season, home and away.

There was symmetry to the schedule in those days. Balance. But not anymore.

The ACC on Tuesday released a list of the league’s men’s basketball opponents and game sites for the next two seasons. Dates for the schedule will come later, but now we know which teams will play each other twice – and which teams will play where, home and away in the ACC, during the next seasons.

Scheduling imbalance has become a reality in the ACC, which once took pride in its round robin. As the conference has expanded, first to 11 teams, then to 12 and then to 15, last season, its basketball schedule has become more and more unbalanced.

Some teams play the league’s best teams twice, others once. Some teams play in the league’s most difficult road environments – Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, for instance – once, other teams not at all. A team’s finish in the league standings isn’t only about how it plays these days but about where it plays and who it plays. And who it doesn’t.

Virginia took advantage of its schedule last season during its run to the league’s regular season championship. The Cavaliers proved they were the conference’s best team – they won the ACC tournament, after all – but their schedule undoubtedly helped them to a 16-2 regular season finish in conference play.

Virginia a season ago played Syracuse, Duke and North Carolina – the three teams that finished directly behind the Cavaliers in the league standings – just once. The four teams the Cavaliers played twice – Florida State, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech – finished a combined 31-41 in the ACC.

So now, more than ever before in the ACC, scheduling matters. The scheduling breaks a team receives – or doesn’t receive – could be the difference in seeding for the ACC tournament, or the difference in receiving an NCAA tournament bid on Selection Sunday.

That said, here’s a quick look at where each ACC team ranks next season in conference strength of schedule, based on how their opponents fared last season in league play (Louisville, which will begin ACC play next season, was not included in the opponents’ records). Which team has the easiest road-only schedule? The most difficult home-and-home schedule?

We won’t start to know the complete answers to those questions until next February. This, though, provides an early indication of which teams received scheduling breaks, and which ones didn’t.

HOME AND HOME

Louisville, 47-25, .653

Virginia Tech, 46-26, .639

N.C. State, 45-27, .625

Wake Forest, 44-28, .611

Duke, 39-33, .542

Boston College, 38-34, .528

UNC*, 28-26, .519

Pittsburgh*, 27-27, .500

Georgia Tech, 35-37, .486

Notre Dame, 33-39, .458

Clemson, 30-42, .417

Florida State, 30-42, .417

Syracuse, 30-42, .417

Virginia*, 17-37, .315

Miami*, 15-39, .278

* - team plays against Louisville in this scenario.

Thoughts:

--Welcome to the ACC, Louisville. Becuase of the ACC’s desire to showcase its newest member you knew the Cardinals were going to have a difficult slate of home-and-homes, and they do. Louisville slides into the permanent partner spot with Virginia that Maryland vacated, and Pittsburgh is the Cardinals’ other permanent partner. Add in a home-and-home with UNC (either Duke or UNC was a near lock to have a home-and-home with Louisville), and three of the four teams Louisville plays twice went to the NCAA tournament last season. The other, Miami, will be improved.

--Once again, Virginia receives a break with its home-and-homes. The Cavaliers do play Louisville twice, but Virginia still will reap the benefits of playing Virginia Tech twice, and the Cavaliers also have a home-and-home against Wake Forest.

HOME ONLY

Boston College*, 44-28, .611

Miami, 54-36, .600

Notre Dame, 52-38, .578

Virginia, 49-41, .544

Syracuse*, 38-34, .528

UNC, 47-43, .522

N.C. State, 46-44, .511

Georgia Tech*, 36-36, .500

Pittsburgh, 42-48, .467

Wake Forest*, 33-39, .458

Florida State*, 32-40, .444

Louisville, 40-50, .444

Virginia Tech, 40-50, .444

Clemson, 39-51, .433

Duke, 38-52, .422

* - teams plays against Louisville in this scenario.

Thoughts:

--You want to play the most difficult teams on your schedule at home so, in that regard, good for Boston College, which appears to have the most difficult home-only games in the league. Four of the Eagles’ five home-only opponents - UNC, N.C. State, Virginia and Louisville - went the NCAA tournament last season. The bad news for Boston College, of course, is that it’s still a long ways from being competitive in the league.

--Duke probably has the most formidable homecourt advantage in the conference, but the Blue Devils aren’t likely to need it against its home-only schedule. Just one of Duke’s five home-only opponents made the NCAA tournament last season (Pitt).

ROAD ONLY

Clemson*, 47-25, .653

Florida State, 55-35, .611

Miami, 50-40, .556

Georgia Tech, 49-41, .544

Virginia Tech, 38-34, .528

Pittsburgh, 46-44, .511

Duke*, 36-36, .500

Syracuse, 44-46, .489

Virginia, 44-46, .489

Notre Dame*, 35-37, .486

Wake Forest, 43-47, .478

Boston College, 40-50, .444

Louisville, 39-51, .433

UNC, 38-52, .422

N.C. State*, 26-46, .361

* - team plays against Louisville in this scenario.

Thoughts:

--Clemson could well find itself on the NCAA tournament margin - just like the Tigers were last season - and its road-only ACC schedule does the Tigers no favors. Or maybe it does. Clemson’s road-only conference schedule includes Duke, Louisville, Virginia and Pitt. The bad news there is that’s extremely difficult. The good? A victory or two amid that stretch would enhance the Tigers’ postseason resume.

--At the bottom of the standings, UNC probably has the least difficult road-only schedule in the ACC. At least that’s how it looks now. There are no real gimmies in conference play - as the old cliche goes - but just one of UNC’s road-only opponents (Pitt) made the NCAA tournament last season. N.C. State’s road-only opponents have the worst combined record of any team in the conference, but the Wolfpack’s road-only schedule does include Louisville.

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