ACC Power Rankings: Duke and 11 other teams

Typically, power rankings are one person’s opinion on where the teams are in relation to one another. But I’m not big on that. I like data. And the best (re: highest predictive power) data is tempo free, so that is what I use.

For starters, let’s look at the offenses. The reason it’s necessary to control for tempo is that it is otherwise impossible to compare an uptempo offense like UNC (2nd fastest tempo in the nation) with a grinder like Virginia (343rd). Of course UNC is going to score more points. Their games feature 15 more possessions than the typical Hoos game.

Instead, I use points per possession. And luckily, Ken Pomeroy’s site not only has that data, but it’s corrected for strength of schedule. NC State drops 97 on Miami of Ohio? Impressive, but is it more impressive than Duke scoring 89 against Minnesota? Tempo free data can provide those answers.

So here is how the ACC offenses stack up so far:

Duke (No. 3 nationally) and NC State (No. 8 nationally) have both ben elite on offense. After those two you have to drop all the way to 38th (Miami) before another ACC teams shows up. The dashed line is the national average (0.993 ppp). That's how many points per possession an average offense scores against an average defense every time they get the ball. Thankfully, every ACC offense is at least average with the exception of Georgia Tech.

How about the defense? Here's how that looks.

Here's where we see the separation between Duke and NC State. The Blue Devils combine an elite offense with an elite defense (No. 7), while NC State's defense is ranked 149th. That's not good. Georgia Tech (No. 14) and Virginia (No. 17) have also been very solid. Three teams – Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Boston College – are below the national average. It's no surprise that those team have combined for 14 losses.

How does this become a power ranking? It’s simple – we just look to efficiency margins. Offense minus defense. If you are a good team you score more than your opponent, right? How much more is the question. Here's the chart:

I prefer this method because it provides a visual for the separation between teams. Duke is so much better than every other ACC team right now it's ridiculous. After Duke it's a four team grouping (Miami, NC State, Virginia and UNC) followed by Maryland, and then another grouping (Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State). For Hokies, Boston College and Wake fans – strap in, because it looks like a bumpy ride ahead.