The ACC Tournament officially starts with two single elimination games on Tuesday, May 24th. On that day, the 10th seed plays the seventh seed, while the teams finishing eighth and ninth draw each other in a second game. The winners advance to pool play, where round robins determine who plays for the right to be crowned ACC champion.
For all intents and purposes, though, the playoffs start this weekend. 13 of the conference's 14 teams are eligible for 10 postseason spots with only Virginia Tech's fate sealed (they'll finish in last place). Tiebreaker scenarios are on tap, and how things shake down on Saturday will be every bit as intense as it is on Thursday and Friday.
As it stands right now, Miami and Louisville draw the top two seeds in the conference as division champions. Florida State, Virginia, NC State, and Clemson escape the single elimination game by receiving byes into pool play, with Clemson earning the right via a head-to-head tiebreaker over Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons join Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Duke in those first games, while Notre Dame, Boston College, and Pittsburgh are on the outside looking in.
That's not how things are going to finish. Duke, for example, plays Pittsburgh, and Georgia Tech plays Boston College. More than likely, the winner of those series will have a good shot at being two of the 10 teams, though it remains to be seen if that's what will actually happen.
Because every team has a shot to go 3-0, 2-1, 1-2, or 0-3 this weekend, we can easily figure out the math to determine what everyone can have for a potential winning percentage. Then we can figure out who could seed ahead of whom as the weekend goes on. Since the ACC uses winning percentage, it minimizes the number of tiebreakers needed, though teams could still wind up equal to one another (see also: Boston College, Notre Dame, Duke, and and North Carolina).
Without further ado, here's what everyone's winning percentages could be over the course of the season. The table breaks down their current winning percentage and how it will fluctuate depending on how their weekend record, if they sweep with a win, win one or two games, or lose a sweep. It does not factor in any potential rainouts since we're assuming everyone is going to play three games.
|Team||Current Record||Current Pct.||Pct. if 3-0||Pct. if 2-1||Pct. if 1-2||Pct. if 0-3|
Here's who everyone holds head-to-head tiebreakers over:
Miami: VT, Louisville, Clemson, UNC, ND, Duke, GT, Pitt
L'ville: ND, UVa, VT, Clemson, UNC, NC State
FSU: GT, Pitt, NC State, BC, Louisville, ND
UVa: Duke, Wake, UNC, Miami, Pitt, GT
NC State: ND, UVa, Wake, GT, Duke
Clemson: Wake, BC, Pitt, FSU, NC State
Wake: Duke, FSU, UNC, VT
GT: VT, UNC, Clemson
UNC: Pitt, Duke, VT, ND
Duke: GT, Clemson, VT, FSU
ND: VT, Wake, BC
BC: NC State, UVa, Louisville, VT, Wake
Pitt: BC, VT, ND
Based on what's possible, BC most likely needs two wins to ensure themselves of a spot in the ACC Tournament. They can make it with one win, but they would need some help from NC State, who plays North Carolina. In that scenario, BC would need the Wolfpack to sweep the Tar Heels, thereby keeping UNC out of the conference championship. BC would still be able to mathematically pass Duke, but since the Blue Devils play Pittsburgh, a Panther sweep would vault the 13th place team over the Eagles into ninth place.
It should be noted that the only way BC and Notre Dame can tie North Carolina and Duke is with sweep victories this weekend. The Tobacco Road schools have a couple more games played than the Catholic schools of the north. That means that anything less than a .500 average will put the Tar Heels and Blue Devils into the ACC Tournament by virtue of winning percentage - a case of where not playing games actually hurts teams against teams with more games played.
It should be noted that Boston College cannot place directly into pool play without some weird math. Clemson and Wake Forest are tied for the final pool spot, with the Tigers holding the tiebreaker over the Demon Deacons. While BC mathematically can finish ahead of both schools, it would require the Tigers to lose all three games to Notre Dame, who holds the head-to-head over the Eagles. That means the Fighting Irish would finish sixth. In that case, they would likely need a third team, such as Duke or UNC, to help break the math.