How The Atlantic Division Was Lost

Last week, it seemed as if no one wanted to win the ACC Atlantic Division. This week, the three Atlantic Division front runners all won their conference games, setting up a three-team race for the Division crown that will play out over the final two weeks of the season.

Here's a look at the top of this week's ACC Atlantic Division Standings: 

Florida State 5-2
N.C. State 4-2
Maryland 4-2

Maryland gets to host both Florida State and N.C. State in the season's final two weeks, while N.C. State has two road games at North Carolina and Maryland. Florida State has just one ACC game remaining: at Maryland this Saturday night.

With the Eagles having won their last three ACC games after starting the season 0-4 in conference, I can't help but wonder how the Atlantic Division race could have been different with just one more W for BC. With the three leading Atlantic Division teams each with two losses already, it's easy to think of what could have been.

Let's examine which conference loss hurt the Eagles chances at another Division title the most.


L 19-0 Virginia Tech

While a win over the Hokies would have been nice, a win over our permanent Coastal Division rivals wouldn't have done much to help BC's chances in the Division. After this week's results, BC would have been 4-3, looking up at Florida State, N.C. State and Maryland. Even with a win over Virginia combined with a FSU loss to Maryland this week, BC would have lost the head-to-head tiebreakers with both FSU 5-3 and Maryland 5-2.

L 44-17 at N.C. State

If the Eagles pulled out the W in Raleigh, things would be a little more interesting this week. BC would be 4-3 and would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over N.C. State (3-3). The best the Eagles could finish would be 5-3, but that still wouldn't be good enough to overtake Florida State, whose worst case is a 5-3 record, or Maryland, who would end up with a 5-3 record as a worst case after knocking off the Seminoles. Under this scenario, BC would finish in a three-way tie for first place, but would have lost the tiebreaker to FSU and Maryland as they would have a combined 0-2 record against those two teams.  

L 24-19 at Florida State

If the Eagles knock off the Noles back in week 7, BC -- at 4-3 in ACC play -- would be just a half-game back of both Maryland and N.C. State heading into this weekend's action. Again, the problem is that Maryland and N.C. State have yet to play, meaning someone will get to the five win mark in conference play. BC wouldn't be able to overtake the Maryland-N.C. State winner by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.

However, things would get very interesting if BC, Florida State, N.C. State and Maryland all finished at 5-3. In order for that to happen in this scenario, BC would beat Virginia this weekend, Florida State would lose to Maryland, Maryland would lose to N.C. State and N.C. State would lose to North Carolina. In a four-way tie atop the division, the title would have went to the Wolfpack with a record of 3-0 against the other three teams atop the division.  

L 24-21 Maryland

Again, here the best BC could do if they came from behind to beat the Terps is a 5-3 record. The two team tiebreaker would go to either FSU or N.C. State by virtue of the head-to-head since both still beat BC. The only chance the Eagles would have at winning the division in this scenario is to finish in a three-way tie with Maryland and Florida State (N.C. State loses their final two in this scenario and Maryland wins its final two). The three programs would have identical 1-1 records against each other, so the next tiebreaker is record of the tied teams within the division. Under this scenario, BC, Florida State and Maryland would be all be 3-2, so that tiebreaker isn't much help either. After that, the next tiebreaker is stated as follows: "Head-to-head competition versus the team within the division with the best overall (divisional or conference) record, and proceeding through the division."

Would the Eagles have a chance under this tiebreaker? I don't know. This is where my head starts to hurt thinking about the different permutations. 

 

From this, basically I conclude that the Maryland loss hurt the Eagles Division title chances the most of any of the four losses in conference. BC still would have needed a lot of things to break their way to even have a shot at heading to Charlotte, but at least it's something. 

Convert two of these losses into wins (say Maryland and Florida State), however, and BC is likely the favorite to win the division heading into this weekend's ACC finale against Virginia.

Oh, what could have been.

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