Difficult to figure out jumbled mess at middle of the ACC
The Pac-10 and SEC were expected to be somewhat down this year, but at least the pecking orders and possibilities in those two leagues are moderately clear. This year's ACC? Not so much.
Thankfully, we still have almost nine weeks until Selection Sunday, because sorting out the current mess in the middle of the ACC is utterly impossible. After you get past Duke, Boston College and North Carolina, you have a collection of undistinguished (and fairly undistinguishable) profiles.
Judging subjectively, Maryland and N.C. State (when healthy) appear to be the two best teams in the pack (and could ultimately end up better than BC and UNC, too). Of course, neither team has done a thing that will help an at-large profile and both currently sit outside the RPI top 100.
Should they be ahead of Florida State, which has no top-100 wins (thanks, Baylor) and a sub-300 loss to Auburn? What about Miami, which has a couple of solid wins but also has two sub-100 defeats and started 0-2 in the league? Virginia Tech, with its crippled roster and win over FSU? Sub-100 Clemson??
Ultimately, I kept Maryland in
In the bigger picture, the ACC actually has more teams outside the top 100 right now than the SEC. So don't be surprised if you see a 10-6 ACC team sitting on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday. The record very well won't mean nearly as much as it normally does.
Remember, records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) and SOS (Strength of Schedule) data are from Sunday's collegerpi.com RPI report.
GW = good wins
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Duke survived a test from Maryland Sunday night. It's still unlikely that the Blue Devils will make it to the NCAA tournament unbeaten, but this league below them is a mess. You'd imagine a couple of teams will emerge from the middle of the pack, but very few are showing great signs at this point.
Kansas escaped Michigan in overtime to remain perfect. The Jayhawks have the potential to reach the level of Duke and Ohio State, but they're not there yet. They'll also be much more heavily tested in league play than the Blue Devils, if you're thinking about relative NCAA seeding.
UConn got another high-quality nonleague win, this time a true road game at Texas. The rest of the top of the league continues to rumble on and could provide another sticky seeding situation come March.
The Buckeyes are having a bit of an issue with taking their feet off the gas early, but they're still one of the two best teams in the nation and are barreling toward a No. 1 seed, even without a ton of nonleague schedule heft. Illinois and Purdue are looking to separate and move to lock, although it seems extremely likely that the top six in this league all will be dancing in March.
Washington's the best team in the league. After that, I still think it's Arizona, but who knows.
Kentucky will be fine despite struggling for a half against Penn and then losing at Georgia. Florida is still second in the pecking order and Vanderbilt also remains strong, despite a league-opening loss. These upsets may also help others propel themselves into contention.
Sunday was an aesthetics nightmare as the top of the league continues to shuffle around.
After a slow start, BYU hit a gear at UNLV that the Rebels couldn't match and earned a very impressive road win. Now the Aztecs get their first shot at the Rebels, this one in San Diego. The two meet for the first time on Jan. 26 in Provo.
This is about as weak a pool of non-BCS "others" as I can remember at this stage of the year. Practically every team on this list needs to really dominate its league to have a reasonable chance. Cleveland State and Drexel dropped off the list after varying levels of suffering in league play.