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Overachievers and underachievers in the 2014 ACC football season

Hold on to your calculators!

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Over at Football Study Hall,  Bill Connelly had a look at which teams were overachievers or underachievers in 2014, based on second-order wins. There's some potential bad news for FSU and UNC in these numbers, and good news for Pitt, Miami, and BC.

If you think of pythagorean expectation--that is, deriving an expected win percentage based on points scored and points allowed--as first-order, I think it helps to understand the additional steps Bill is taking. The concept is similar with second-order wins (and similar to an approach that's been used in baseball for quite a while), it's just delving a bit deeper to get a bit closer to estimating a team's true expected win percentage. Or get a little closer to knowing their true quality, if you prefer.

Anyway, there are plenty more details at Football Study Hall. Here's what Bill found for each ACC team, ordered from luckiest to least fortunate.

Year Team Record Second-order wins
2014 Florida State 13-1 9.5 -3.5
2014 North Carolina 6-7 4.9 -1.1
2014 Georgia Tech 11-3 10.1 -0.9
2014 Clemson 10-3 9.4 -0.6
2014 Duke 9-4 8.4 -0.6
2014 Wake Forest 3-9 2.4 -0.6
2014 NC State 8-5 7.5 -0.5
2014 Virginia Tech 7-6 7.0 0.0
2014 Syracuse 3-9 3.4 0.4
2014 Louisville 9-4 9.5 0.5
2014 Virginia 5-7 6.0 1.0
2014 Miami-FL 6-7 7.1 1.1
2014 Boston College 7-6 8.2 1.2
2014 Pittsburgh 6-7 8.3 2.3

Florida State was actually the biggest overachiever in the country by this measure, which I doubt shocks anybody. Based on the last decade of history, teams that overachieve to such a significant degree--finishing 3+ wins ahead of expectation is kinda nuts--are very likely to regress the following season. Florida State is DOOMED, DOOMED I tell you. Okay, probably not, unless Jameis Winston is replaced by a blind guy. But we can hope!

NC State overachieved by 0.5 wins, which doesn't suggest much about 2015, at least not nearly as much as an extreme case like FSU (or, at the other end, Pittsburgh). The notion here is that NC State's underlying performance wasn't quite as good as its win total implies. (On a side note, interesting that even at six wins, UNC was an overachiever. Yikes, Larry!)

While this says State was a wee bit lucky in 2014, it also reinforces the fact that this was a significantly improved team. A pretty good, bowl-caliber team, and not a bunch of boobs fluking their way into a prestigious Bitcoin Bowl appearance.