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Compu-Picks 2011 Preview: ACC

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jul 25, 2011


2011 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: the ACC

Below is the preview for the ACC, consisting of three tables.

The first table outlines the projected rankings for each ACC team, sorted in each division from best to worst, and then presents the following selected key stats:
Rank - Projected 2011 ranking, from 1 to 120
2010 Rank - 2010 ranking using the current compu-picks model
Prev 4 yr - ranking of the average rating from 2006-2009
Recruit Rank - ranking of past 4 years of recruiting (each year equally weighted), from scout.com
Recruit Trend - the difference between the past 3 years of recruiting and the previous 3, ranked from best to worst
Injuries - starts lost to injury during the 2010 season (from Phil Steele)
Turnovers - turnover margin during the 2010 season, from cfbstats.com
Draft Losses - based on the 2011 draft
Ch - new head coach, per collegefootballpoll.com (1 indicates a new coach, . indicates no new coach)
Starters - returning offensive / defensive starters, per Phil Steele magazine (* if the QB returns), with some edits due to subsequent news

The second table shows the expected number of total wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

The third table shows the odds of winning the league, the expected number of league wins for each team, as well as the odds for each potential number of league wins, based on 2500 season simulation runs (note: a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%).

Projected ranking and key statistics

Team Rank 2010 Rank Prev 4 yr Recruit Rank Recruit Trend Injuries Turnovers Draft Losses Ch Starters
Florida State 6 12 32 7 3 16 4 24 . 7/8
North Carolina State 33 19 75 47 67 7 7 0 . 5/8
Clemson 40 37 17 17 71 11 -3 37 . 9/5
Boston College 47 55 22 45 106 26 8 12 . 9*/5
Maryland 60 39 58 44 37 10 15 10 1 7*/7
Wake Forest 69 84 38 67 48 11 0 0 . 8*/9
Virginia Tech 20 7 8 33 112 20 19 15 . 7/5
North Carolina 30 43 54 20 21 89 1 54 0.5 6/7
Miami (Florida) 46 28 44 14 118 13 -8 41 1 7*/7
Georgia Tech 48 60 23 40 70 13 -6 1 . 7/5
Virginia 56 86 57 49 28 34 -7 9 . 8/10
Duke 61 88 81 62 45 15 -10 0 . 8*/6

Projected Results - All Games

Team Rank SOS E(wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Florida State 6 43 10.19 . 25% 27% 20% 13% 7% 4% 2% 1% 1% 0% 0% . .
North Carolina State 33 51 7.88 . 3% 9% 14% 16% 17% 14% 11% 9% 4% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Clemson 40 9 6.03 . 1% 3% 5% 9% 12% 13% 15% 14% 13% 8% 5% 2% 0%
Boston College 47 30 6.05 . 1% 2% 4% 7% 12% 15% 17% 14% 11% 8% 4% 2% 1%
Maryland 60 24 5.15 . 0% 1% 3% 5% 8% 10% 14% 17% 17% 12% 8% 3% 1%
Wake Forest 69 26 4.46 . 0% 1% 2% 3% 5% 8% 12% 16% 17% 16% 13% 7% 1%
Virginia Tech 20 78 9.45 . 16% 21% 20% 15% 11% 7% 5% 2% 1% 1% 1% 0% .
North Carolina 30 49 8.43 . 8% 13% 16% 17% 15% 11% 8% 5% 3% 1% 1% 0% 0%
Miami (Florida) 46 19 6.22 . 1% 3% 6% 9% 12% 14% 16% 15% 10% 8% 4% 2% 1%
Georgia Tech 48 46 6.86 . 4% 6% 8% 11% 13% 14% 13% 11% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0%
Virginia 56 41 6.11 . 1% 3% 5% 8% 11% 15% 15% 16% 13% 7% 4% 2% 1%
Duke 61 39 5.37 . 1% 1% 3% 5% 8% 12% 16% 17% 16% 11% 6% 3% 1%

Projected Results - League Games

Team Rank Division Odds Adj Div Odds E(wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Florida State 6 68.5% 6.90 . 43% 29% 16% 7% 3% 2% 1% 0% 0%
North Carolina State 33 11.3% 4.49 . 4% 12% 17% 18% 18% 14% 10% 5% 2%
Clemson 40 8.6% 3.79 . 3% 6% 12% 15% 18% 18% 15% 8% 5%
Boston College 47 6.9% 3.70 . 3% 5% 10% 16% 21% 19% 14% 9% 4%
Maryland 60 2.9% 2.90 . 1% 3% 7% 10% 16% 19% 20% 15% 10%
Wake Forest 69 1.8% 2.23 . 0% 1% 3% 6% 11% 17% 22% 22% 16%
Virginia Tech 20 41.7% 55.7% 5.68 . 17% 22% 20% 16% 11% 7% 4% 2% 1%
North Carolina 30 25.3% 4.96 . 9% 15% 19% 19% 15% 12% 7% 3% 2%
Miami (Florida) 46 10.3% 13.7% 3.81 . 2% 6% 11% 17% 19% 18% 14% 8% 3%
Georgia Tech 48 13.1% 17.6% 3.78 . 5% 7% 10% 16% 17% 15% 15% 10% 5%
Virginia 56 5.6% 7.5% 3.05 . 1% 3% 7% 11% 17% 19% 20% 15% 7%
Duke 61 4.1% 5.5% 2.70 . 1% 2% 5% 9% 14% 19% 21% 18% 11%

Some commentary about the projections:

1) The Coastal division is pretty much extreme parity. Everyone is rated as having at least a puncher's chance of taking the title (yes, even Duke, though around 5% is almost certainly an overstatement), and the range of expected league wins is pretty tight, only 3 different between top and bottom. Compared to even the Atlantic (where it ranges from not much more than 2.0 to nearly 7), it's just a really tightly bunched division. This is largely because there's no dominant favorite, as Virginia Tech is projected to be down in 2011.

2) There isn't a whole lot interesting to say about Florida State. They're expected to be a top team, they're expected to have around 10 wins, etc. It'd be a notable surprise if someone else took the Atlantic division.

3) Of the potential Atlantic competitors, NC St seems like they should have the best chance. They were very competitive in 2010, they lost nothing to the draft, and they return a decent amount of starters. On the other hand, 2010 was a major outlier compared to where they were in 2006-2009, their recruiting isn't even close to Clemson (much less Florida St), Russel Wilson is gone, and they enjoyed pretty good luck for both turnovers and injuries last year. So there are plenty of good reasons why they're projected to decline, though if Florida St does slip, they'll have a shot to take the Atlantic.

4) Clemson is usually a serious competitor in the Atlantic, but they took a big step back in 2010. Strong recruiting helps their projection, as does bad turnover luck and a good number of returning starters. On the other hand, they lost a lot to the draft, and there still is that poor 2010 to account for. Overall, they have a shot of making noise, but they're a division underdog for good reason, and a very tough schedule means that it's very possible that they might not even make a bowl in 2011.

5) Maryland seems like a popular "maybe they'll be good this year" pick, but Compu-Picks isn't buying the hype. The Terps got very lucky with a +15 turnover margin in 2010, don't recruit well, are dealing with a coaching transition, were dead middle of 1-A from 2006-2009, and in their "good" year of 2010, still weren't all that good. That's just not the resume of a fringe top 25 candidate. With a fairly tough schedule, that may not even the resume of a bowl team, as Compu-Picks projects them to probably end up missing a bowl game.

6) Compu-picks is projecting an unusually poor year for Virginia Tech. The biggest thing is how much turnover luck the Hokies enjoyed in 2010, though it's worth noting that Virginia Tech tends to be positive in turnover margin; if there will be a correction in 2011, it'll probably be less than some of the other teams who enjoyed big turnover margins. Another thing dragging down their rating is recruiting; their 4-year rank is just 33rd, which is actually only 3rd in their own division, and their recruiting trend is in very serious decline (three straight classes around 40th is far worse than what they're used to). Throw in only 12 returning starters (no QB), and you get what looks like a down year for the Hokies. That said, they've been such a solid program that it's hard to believe they'll slip too far, and with a pretty cushy projected schedule they still have a solid shot at hitting 10 wins and winning their division.

7) Other than the "50% coaching change" adjustment discussed in the notes at the bottom of the article, UNC has the interesting situation of suffering huge draft losses along with a huge number of "injury" starts lost (most of those were due to the off-field scandals as opposed to actual injuries). Overall, UNC should end up with a fairly decent to good season, thanks largely to a fairly easy schedule, though if things blow up with the NCAA, that could change substantially for the worse.

8) Lots of people seem to believe "The U" is going to be back... but it's hard to see it in 2011. Miami has the second toughest schedule in the ACC, hasn't really been a clear top 25 team for a while, is dealing with coaching transition, suffered fairly substantial draft losses, and their recruiting trend is downright abysmal, with a huge step back in the 2011 class (their first non-top 25 class in a very long time). On the other hand, even with declining recruiting the overall level is still pretty good, they had horrible luck with turnovers, and they return a good number of starters. So while it seems likely that they take a couple steps back in 2011, you never know.

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

3) This preseason model is primarily based on the main compu-picks model. Essentially, it attempts to predict how well a team will rate given its rating history, as well as a number of other data points, such as returning starters, draft talent lost, turnovers, recruiting, etc. This means, among other things, that the rankings are power rankings based on how good a team projects to be, as opposed to a more cynical (though accurate) model that attempts to project how the BCS will rank a team by making adjustments to favor those with easy schedules and punish those with tough schedules.

4) For three teams (Auburn, Oregon, UNC), you can see that they're projected to half a new coach. This was a manual adjustment I made to the data based on the off-field issues that each program is dealing with. A new coach is a negative predictive factor, so estimating a 50% chance of having a new coach makes an impact. For UNC, it's more that there's a pretty reasonable chance that they'll replace Butch Davis (or be forced to) before the season. For the other two, it's more a reflection of the possibility that the ongoing investigations will unearth more trouble, possibly leading to a coach replacement and/or current players being declared ineligible. For those two, estimating a 50% chance of a new coach is mainly a proxy for that possibility. It's admittedly arbitrary, but I believe that it's reasonable given the current climate.
I have also provided adjusted division (or league) odds in a number of instances. For the Pac-12 South, it shows the odds of each team winning adjusting for the fact that USC will be ineligible (the original calculation does not account for this). For various other instances, it would only be relevant if the team in question does in fact become ineligible for the division/league title. Should that not happen, you can ignore the adjusted odds.

5) There is a substantial amount of noise in these projections, which is to be expected given the large number of unknowns (who will have good and bad luck with injuries, which young players will improve and which won't, how specific matchups will come into play, etc.). Right now the standard error is a bit over 0.2 on a scale of about -1 to +1. It's important to look at the projections with this in mind to get a sense of how material the projected differences are. Given a standard error around 0.2, it is safe to project Alabama to be a much better team than Mississippi St, but it is not safe to project Arkansas to be any better than LSU, much less a lot better.

6) At this point, there are a number of model features that need to be investigated further. Chief among these is the distribution of extreme events. It appears that the model may be overstating the probabilities of extreme events, such as 12-0 or 0-12 records, or major underdogs winning their division/league. Please keep this in mind when looking at the distribution of win probabilities.

2011 Compu-Picks Blog

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