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Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll And ACC Strength Of Schedule

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I don't place too too much stock in the Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, largely because 1) Boston College is annually underappreciated by coaches grad assistants and 2) the preseason poll largely skews in favor of the big-time, name brand college programs. With little information to go on in the preseason, it's basically one big guessing game once you get beyond the top 5-10 teams.

But the Coaches Poll is mildly useful in gauging strength of schedule for the ACC. Taking the number of total votes for each of the teams in the preseason poll, we can get a strength of schedule for the conference.

For instance, here is what BC's 2010 schedule looks like:

-- Weber State 0
-- Kent State 0
-- Virginia Tech 1,052
-- Notre Dame 38
-- N.C. State 0
-- Florida State 374
-- Maryland 0
-- Clemson 44
-- Wake Forest 0
-- Duke 0 
-- Virginia 0
-- Syracuse 0

The four teams that BC faces that received votes in the preseason poll -- Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Florida State and Clemson -- total 1,508 votes. The other eight teams on the schedule didn't receive any votes.

So how does the Eagles schedule stack up to the rest of the ACC?

Take a look at the total votes of each ACC teams 12 opponents (with number of opponents receiving votes in parenthesis):

ACC Atlantic

Florida State 3,573 (7)
N.C. State 2,515 (7)
Clemson 2,310 (7)
Wake Forest 1,998 (7)
Boston College 1,508 (4)
Maryland 1,337 (6)

ACC Coastal

Miami 4,258 (8)
Duke 4,171 (7)
North Carolina 3,129 (6)
Virginia 3,064 (6)
Virginia Tech 2,854 (6)
Georgia Tech 2,581 (5)


BC plays a conference low 4 teams receiving votes in the preseason Coaches Poll, but Maryland -- by virtue of missing Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina from the Coastal -- will play the 12 opponents with the lowest number of votes in the poll (1,337).

In the Atlantic, Florida State, Clemson, N.C. State and Wake Forest all play seven teams receiving votes in the poll, while Miami leads the Coastal, and the entire ACC, with 8 teams receiving votes and a conference high 4,258 points (although close to 2,000 votes are from a brutal non-conference schedule of Ohio State, Pittsburgh and South Florida).

This is certainly a crude measure of strength of schedule (as an example, Virginia's SOS gets penalized by the fact that USC is excluded from this year's Coaches Poll). But at the same time, it's just another illustration of the scheduling advantage that BC has over its closest ACC Atlantic competitors this season. It should also show those calling for a "dream" Florida State-Miami ACC Championship Game just how hard it will be for both programs to win their respective divisions and face each other a second time in Charlotte.