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ACC Tournament Probabilities

Who has the best chance of cutting down the nets in Brooklyn?

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Virginia vs North Carolina Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC Tournament bracket is set, and the action will begin on Tuesday in Brooklyn. Part of the beauty of college basketball in March is the “madness” that can occur. Which teams have the best chance to make a run in the ACC Tournament and boost their NCAA Tournament stock? What does Wake Forest’s path look like? We answer those questions and more.

We first used this fantastic GamePredict site using Ken Pomeroy data in order to generate win probabilities on a neutral floor. We can argue that teams with New York fan bases like Syracuse or even Duke will have some home court advantage, but for simplification purposes we made all games neutral.

As a reminder, here is the bracket with times/channels:

ACC Tournament Bracket

Without further ado, here is our win probability chart:

ACC Tournament Probabilities

The chart is in order of seed, with Carolina being the 1 seed and Boston College being the 15 seed. This chart can be read as the odds that a particular team wins in a given round. The 100%’s indicate a BYE in that particular round. These probabilities are conditional. For example, Virginia Tech currently has approximately a 47% chance to make it to the quarterfinals, but that’s because there is a 12% chance that they face Boston College. If they face Wake Forest, then Ken Pom gives them just a 42% chance.

Wake Forest Implications

As we briefly mentioned in another piece, this bracket sets up about as well as Wake Forest could have hoped. Wake Forest will be a significant (88%) favorite over Boston College on Tuesday afternoon. It’s widely assumed that Wake Forest will make it to the NCAA Tournament with a win on Tuesday. It’s still possible that they make it with a loss against BC, but that will definitely make for a stressful Selection Sunday.

If Wake can get past the Eagles, then they will take on Virginia Tech, where they will be favored. They are the better team, but will have played a game the day before. That game would be more about improving Wake Forest’s NCAA Tournament seed. If they win that one, it’s reasonable to think that they could avoid playing in the First Four games in Dayton. The Deacs would then take on Florida State, who they were beating with 9 minutes remaining in Tallahassee. The Noles ended up with a very strong finish in that game, but Wake would have nothing to lose in this one. Overall, Wake has about a 1 in 6 chance of making the ACC Semi’s and about a 2% chance of winning the ACC Tournament.

Big Picture Implications

The top half of the bracket is where the strongest teams are. North Carolina is the favorite, but the league is so difficult that they only have a roughly 1 in 4 chance of winning it all. The next most likely team is Louisville, who is expected to win it roughly 1 in 5 tries. Virginia, despite being the 6 seed and only having 1 bye, actually has a better chance (19%) than FSU does (14%) of winning the tournament. Those two teams have the best chance on the bottom half of the bracket. For the best teams, it’s not just about winning the conference tournament, but also earning quality wins along the way (plenty of opportunities for that) can improve NCAA Tournament seeds.

Syracuse is in a difficult situation, as it’s possible they still need to beat Miami in order to make the NCAA Tournament. It clearly wouldn’t be a bad loss, but other bubble teams are capable of making conference tournament runs and earning bids. Syracuse is actually an underdog in this game, but this is an example where the crowd should give them a slight boost.

Georgia Tech definitely needs to beat Pittsburgh to make the NCAA Tournament, and will be a slight underdog in this game, despite being the higher seed. Even if they beat Virginia, it still wouldn’t be a certainty.

Do you all have any other takeaways?