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Carpetbaggers Save ACC? 'Cuse and Pitt Appear to Be the Class of the League So Far

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Though Pitt's omission is an egregious error, the league has just two teams ranked in the top 25 and just two original members that seem safely slated for the NCAA tournament.

Someone's got that TOB swag.
Someone's got that TOB swag.
Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

With North Carolina's disgraceful fall from grace--the Heels lost at home to Miami last night and likely face an 0-3 start in conference play with a road trip to Syracuse looming--the ACC appears to only have four teams that are locks for the NCAA tournament this year, and two of those are Yankee newcomers Syracuse and Pitt. The Orange Persons and Panthers are a combined 29-1 (4-0 in league play) and appear to be the class of the league in a down year for the blues.

Duke and Virginia, barring a surprise collapse in league play, are also in excellent shape to get mad in March, but the Blue Devils are 16th in the latest AP poll and have a composite computer ranking (see below) of just 24th. For most programs that's super fantastic, but it's a step down from Duke's normal lofty place in the top 10 (hell, top three).

UNC pulled off surprise upsets of each team ranked in the preseason top three, but the fact that these days UNC wins are considered upsets says a lot in and of itself. The turmoil of never-ending scandals and player suspensions have seemed to take a toll on Roy Williams and the Heels, who have losses to Belmont, UAB, Texas, Wake Forest, and Miami. Texas and perhaps Wake Forest are bubble teams, but that's basically a list of teams that will probably need to win their conference tournament to go dancing. The Heels are just 3-3 in their last six games and needed overtime to beat a 4-10 Davidson team that lost by 30+ to Duke and Clemson. With much of the faculty growing tired of the scandals and Walmart Heel Nation growing tired of the mediocrity, Williams has to hear hot-seat whispers that could serve to fuel the program's collapse.

Florida State, which has marquee wins over VCU and UMass and "good losses" to Florida and Michigan, would probably be a pretty safe bet to get an at-large bid if the season ended today, but the Noles are 0-1 in league play with five of their next seven games on the road. They need to weather that storm to stay off the bubble (or to not sink entirely).

Here are the current ACC standings (with AP ranking in parentheses) and the composite computer rankings (average of Warren Nolan RPI, ESPN RPI, and Sagarin rankings) for each team in the ACC:

Team

Record

Ranking

Syracuse (2)

15-0, 2-0

7

Pittsburgh (ORV)

14-1, 2-0

17.7

Virginia

11-4, 2-0

28.3

Clemson

10-3, 1-0

83

Maryland

10-6, 2-1

85.3

Duke (16)

12-3, 1-1

24

N.C. State

11-4, 1-1

68

Wake Forest

11-4, 1-1

76

Notre Dame (ORV)

10-5, 1-1

70

Virginia Tech

8-6, 1-1

132.7

Miami

9-6, 1-2

82.3

Florida State

9-4, 0-1

42.3

North Carolina (ORV)

10-5, 0-2

55.3

Georgia Tech

9-6, 0-2

114.7

Boston College

4-11, 0-2

161.7

Three teams--Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech--are already playing out the string, but the good news for everyone else is that games against anyone but those sadsacks are top-100 RPI games. Everyone that is not an NCAA lock that can hover near .500 in the league should move up on the computers as conference play continues.

Locks: Cuse, Pitt, Duke, UVa

Lookin' Good: FSU

Sinkin' Fast: UNC

Solidly bubble: N.C. State, Notre Dame

Probably bubble: Wake Forest, Clemson, Maryland

Probably kind of technically on the bubble and we shouldn't count out Larranaga but c'mon: Miami

Haha: BC, Va. Tech, Ga. Tech

I'm smelling a regularish feature here as the season rolls on. Tell me where I've gone wrong in the comments and, as always, manipulate the poll vigorously.