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Studying how much experience means in the ACC

I took a look at how experience plays into success in ACC play.  Click through for my observations..

KenPom started tracking experience stats in the 2006-2007 season. For those of you who don't know how this stat is measured, let me explain. Each full year a player has played is given one year of experience. So a sophomore has one year of experience up to a senior who has three. Then, the ratio of minutes played per years of experienced is calculated. So a team with an experience level of 3.0 plays only seniors and so on down to a team on 0.0 which plays only freshmen.

How much does experience mean in the ACC in terms of team success? Since the measure was implemented, I tracked total ACC regular season wins and measured it against experience level. The following charts show each season (with the current season up to date as of games completed on February 9). It shows ACC finish (standings according to espn), ACC rank of experience level (national rank) and the experience measurement. Take a minute to browse through the charts.


2006-2007 Season Experience Rank Experience Measure
First North Carolina 11th (329) 0.87
Second Virginia 4th (163) 1.8
Third Maryland 2nd (99) 1.98
Fourth Virginia Tech First (72) 2.09
Fifth Boston College 5th (168) 1.78
Sixth Duke 12th (331) 0.79
Seventh Georgia Tech 9th (313) 1.09
Eighth Clemson 6th (235) 1.51
Ninth Florida State 3rd (151) 1.82
Tenth North Carolina State 8th (289) 1.26
Eleventh Wake Forest 10th (321) 0.99
Twelfth Miami (FL) 7th (275) 1.33
2007-2008 Season
First North Carolina 6th (205) 1.58
Second Duke 9th (295) 1.22
Third Clemson 5th (185) 1.65
Fourth Virginia Tech 11th (319) 1.02
Fifth Miami (FL) 3rd (117) 1.82
Sixth Maryland 7th (251) 1.44
Seventh Florida State First (39) 2.16
Eighth Wake Forest 12th (331) 0.81
Ninth Georgia Tech 2nd (109) 1.86
Tenth Virginia 4th (138) 1.77
Eleventh North Carolina State 8th (286) 1.3
Twelfth Boston College 10th (297) 1.21
First North Carolina 2nd (60) 2.05
Second Duke 4th (162) 1.69
Third Wake Forest 9th (280) 1.3
Fourth Florida State 11th (294) 1.25
Fifth Clemson 5th (179) 1.64
Sixth Boston College 10th (292) 1.26
Seventh Maryland 6th (184) 1.62
Eighth Miami (FL) First (19) 2.3
Ninth Virginia Tech 7th (224) 1.5
Tenth North Carolina State 3rd (110) 1.87
Eleventh Virginia 12th (315) 1.12
Twelfth Georgia Tech 8th (245) 1.44
2009-2010 Season
First Duke 2nd (86) 1.97
Second Maryland First (76) 2
Third Wake Forest 3rd (123) 1.86
Fourth Virginia Tech 7th (217) 1.57
Fifth Virginia 5th (190) 1.66
Sixth Florida State 11th (299) 1.31
Seventh Georgia Tech 12th (301) 1.28
Eighth Clemson 8th (226) 1.54
Ninth Boston College 4th (140) 1.82
Tenth North Carolina 10th (290) 1.33
Eleventh Miami (FL) 6th (214) 1.58
Twelfth North Carolina State 9th (275) 1.4


So with the exception of this year, there is little correlation between experience and ACC success. The highest that the most experienced team has finished is 4th. We did see UNC's experience pay off last season as it ended in a national title.

Let's now look at the total wins in ACC play by each team in this study and their average experience level for each season.

As of February 9, 2010
Total Wins Average experience
North Carolina 40 1.46 T-8th
Duke 39 1.42 10th
Maryland 31 1.76 T-1st
Virginia Tech 31 1.55 6th
Wake Forest 30 1.24 11th
Clemson 30 1.59 5th
Florida State 29 1.64 3rd
Boston College 26 1.52 7th
Virginia 25 1.59 4th
Georgia Tech 22 1.09 12th
Miami (FL) 21 1.76 T-1st
North Carolina State 17 1.46 T-8th

We see very little correlation in terms of experience. Maryland has finished with the third most wins but look at Miami way down in 11th place in terms of wins. Experience did not help them very much in ACC play. Wake Forest has put up a very good showing of ACC wins despite having the 11th lowest experience level out of ACC teams.

In this day and age, experience is often a non-factor in terms of regular season success. Most of the success is driven by freshmen and sophomores on the path to the NBA. This is evidenced in the chart above as many teams have had success despite lower levels of experience.

However, there is some correlation between experience and tournament success. While less experienced teams may have more regular season success, they sometimes fall apart in the postseason. The last 3 title teams had experience levels of 2.05 (60), 2.10 (50) and 1.97 (103). So while it may have little correlation in the regular season, there is a small relationship between experience levels and title runs.

I can't say I am that surprised by the results due to the nature of college basketball today where the best players leave their mark on a team and bolt for the NBA. What I have seen in title contenders is a mixture of upperclassmen and impact freshmen.

 It will be interesting to see how the standings end up this season. Right now, we see for the first time that experience is playing a role in ACC success. Will this stay the same throughout the season or will things be mixed up a little?

What do you see from these results? Anything pop out at you or surprise you?