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Who’s the Best Team in the ACC?

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Even though Tallahassee is the westernmost point of any ACC school, the Atlantic Coast Conference is the Wild West. In the metaphorical sense. The top four teams in the league right now are Pitt (4-0), Clemson (4-0), Miami (3-1) and Syracuse (3-1). Florida State is 4-11, and has a better conference record than 11-4 Virginia Tech. UVA just lost to Pitt. Miami’s blemish came last night at Georgia Tech. NC State ran Duke out of Raleigh in the first half last night. UNC is struggling with Wake Forest. There’s no clear number one.

As of January 3, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has five ACC teams in his field of 68.

The top two teams in the conference standings were just “considered” on Tuesday, but on Wednesday, took down two teams that are currently in the tourney. Because of the even playing field, tourney projections are really difficult to narrow down. Looking back on resumes and ahead two months at the same time with a tournament focus doesn’t give us a whole lot of clarity. Let’s go a different route.

According to, the data analytics king of college basketball, Virginia, Clemson and Pitt are all projected to finish 14-6 in conference play. The Cavaliers are currently 13th in the country in adjusted efficiency margin (The difference between a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency. Efficiency is the same thing as points per 100 possessions.), which is best in the conference. So given that, Kenpom thinks UVA is probably the best squad in the ACC as of right now.

Other interesting Kenpom metrics: North Carolina leads the conference in offensive efficiency, and Clemson, despite playing at a blistering 72 possessions per game (the average is around 68), is tops in the conference in defensive efficiency. In case you’re wondering, Syracuse is fifth on both sides of the ball.

At the end of the season, the ACC regular season title might come down to scheduling. Who avoids playing a gauntlet down the stretch of February? Who has a three-game homestand after Valentine’s Day? Who caught a more talented team on a down night in January, instead of in March, when that group full of high-level recruits is surging? Those are questions we can’t answer until tournament time.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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