ACC Power Rankings: Duke comes back to the field

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 (4th fastest tempo in the nation) with a grinder like Virginia (344th). 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:

Where has the offense gone in the ACC? NC State (No. 8) and Duke (No. 9) have elite offenses (though, it remains to be seen what happens to Duke without Ryan Kelly) and then you drop all the way to 57th before you find North Carolina. UNC is in a bunch which runs from No. 57 to Virginia Tech at 79. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, is bad and getting worse. In conference play they're the worst 2-point shooting team in the ACC as well as the worst 3-point shooting team.

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

Defensively, the conference is a bit more stalwart. Half the teams are ranked at No. 36 or better. NC State is erasing their awesomeness on one end of the court by being bad on the other. In the light-version of NC State, Georgia Tech is erasing a solid defense by being just awful on offense.

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:

For now, Duke is still solidly ahead of Miami and NC State. That will change the longer Ryan Kelly stays out. After NC State it is a grab bag down to Florida State or maybe Georgia Tech. Those six teams will be jostling to get that final first day bye in the conference tourney.