Compu-Picks 2012 Preview: ACC

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Aug 25, 2012


2012 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: Atlantic Coast Conference

Below is the preview for the ACC, consisting of five tables. The first shows projections for each ACC team, with the others showing key statistics and/or details behind the projections.

Projected ranking and expected results

Expected Wins Projected League Results
Team 2012 Rank 2011 Rank All Games League Games SOS Div Finish Division Odds Adj Div Odds
Florida State 5 22 10.59 7.15 51 1 68.0%
Clemson 15 27 8.81 5.89 26 2 20.4%
Boston College 30 88 7.74 4.67 40 3 7.7%
North Carolina State 62 63 5.92 3.30 63 4 2.1%
Wake Forest 68 62 4.89 3.00 46 5 1.3%
Maryland 100 104 3.42 1.87 39 6 0.5%
Georgia Tech 34 48 7.89 5.25 50 1 40.5% 42.9%
Virginia Tech 27 28 7.85 4.79 44 2 30.8% 32.6%
Miami (Florida) 52 45 5.23 3.43 35 3 10.3% 10.9%
Duke 56 90 5.76 3.12 48 4 6.5% 6.9%
Virginia 87 74 4.85 2.97 57 5 6.4% 6.7%
North Carolina 91 52 4.95 2.57 72 6 5.6%

Some notes and comments about the ACC and its teams:

1) The Coastal division looks like it could be fun, with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech projected to fight it out for the division crown. It's unfortunate that they face each other in week one (that'd be a nice late-season matchup), but since both teams play Clemson and BC (and Virginia Tech also gets the Noles), this could remain an interesting division race for the whole season, especially if the Hokies win the week one game (since FSU, Clemson and BC is just a truly nasty set of league games).

2) A lot of people like UNC; Phil Steele had them #1 in the Coastal, CFB Matrix had them tied for first, Football Outsiders had them 2nd, and plenty of others liked them quite a bit. Compu-Picks drastically disagrees with all of them, calling the Tar Heels the second worst team in the ACC and dropping them into the cellar of the Coastal, even with a very favorable league draw (no FSU, Clemson or BC). UNC recruiting has crashed and burned, they're breaking in a new coach, they lose a tremendous amount of production on defense, they lost a decent chunk to the NFL draft (tied with Clemson for most in the league, though a number of other teams are close), and there just aren't any meaningful positive indicators.
Overall, this has been a team that's used to underachieving with talent, and over the past couple years a lot of that talent has moved on to the NFL, and there just isn't nearly as much talent coming into replace them. Quite frankly, this team looks like a mess.

3) On the flip side, Duke has a pretty reasonable shot of sneaking into a bowl. There's still not much talent there, but they do return a lot of production, and they had terrible injury/fumble luck in 2011 (worst in the ACC for turnovers, tied for 2nd worst for fumbles). Drawing Florida St and Clemson from the Atlantic and having to travel to Stanford in non-conference play is pretty rough; with an easier draw I'd probably peg them to make a bowl instead of just giving them a decent shot at surprising at six wins.

4) The Atlantic division race is over early unless Clemson wins at Florida St. The Seminoles are simply too good to drop two other ACC games, even though they do draw three of the projected top four Atlantic teams. Compu-Picks isn't as high on FSU as Phil Steele (who picked them #1 in the nation!), but it sees this team as being very strong. Recruiting is great and has skyrocketed lately, there's tremendous production returning, last year's disapointing showing was at least in part due to injuries (and improvement on that front is likely), and overall this looks like a potential national elite. Clemson should be very good, but they're just not projected in the same ballpark, and everyone else in the Atlantic is an even bigger step behind.

5) A lot of people are high on NC St, but Compu-Picks is throwing its weight behind BC instead. The Eagles had atrocious luck last year, missing 55 starts due to injury, with terrible fumble luck as well. They also return just shy of 100% yards (a major outlier), and solid numbers on defense as well. Spaziani is deservedly in trouble, but he's got the talent to potentially have a very successful season.

The next two tables show key statistics and details underlying the projections, from prior history and performance to luck-related statistics to key indicators of incoming and outgoing talent. Below is a brief explanation of some of these items:


Rank - Projected 2012 ranking, from 1 to 124
2011 Rank - 2011 ranking using the current compu-picks model, from 1 to 120 (does NOT include the four 1-A newcomers)
Prev 4 yr - ranking of the average rating from 2007-2010, from 1 to 120 (does NOT include the four 1-A newcomers)
Injuries - starts lost to injury during the 2011 season, from Phil Steele
Fumble Luck - the number of net turnovers in 2011 due to fumble luck
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 4, ranked from best to worst
Starters - returning offensive / defensive / special teams (kicker and punter) starters, per Phil Steele magazine (* if the QB returns), with some edits due to subsequent news
Returning Yards, Tackles, Int, Sacks, Lettermen - returning production and roster depth; lettermen taken from philsteele.com, with the other stats calculated from cfbstats.com.
Draft Losses - based on the 2012 draft

Key Statistics - Performance, Luck and Coaching

Team 2012 Rank 2011 Rank Prev 4 yr Injuries Turnovers Fumble Luck New Coach
Florida State 5 22 18 46 4 0.5 .
Clemson 15 27 27 12 -1 -3 .
Boston College 30 88 41 55 -4 -5.5 .
North Carolina State 62 63 46 31 14 -4 .
Wake Forest 68 62 54 22 9 4 .
Maryland 100 104 56 59 4 7.5 .
Georgia Tech 34 48 31 9 2 0 .
Virginia Tech 27 28 8 25 5 3.5 .
Miami (Florida) 52 45 29 42 -4 -1.5 .
Duke 56 90 74 21 -9 -4 .
Virginia 87 74 69 4 -7 -1 .
North Carolina 91 52 30 26 -2 -1 1

Talent Inflows and Outflows

Team Recruit Rank Recruit Trend Starters Ret. Yards Ret. Tackles Ret. Int Ret. Sacks Ret. Lettermen Draft Losses
Florida State 8 2 8*/8/1 90% 70% 63% 93% 77% 10
Clemson 22 19 7*/7/1 90% 64% 79% 23% 67% 23
Boston College 58 49 9*/7/1 94% 57% 42% 63% 73% 15
North Carolina State 55 112 7*/6/2 70% 60% 89% 55% 60% 11
Wake Forest 68 76 4*/7/2 61% 64% 46% 64% 72% 14
Maryland 39 73 6/9/2 46% 65% 45% 48% 66% 0
Georgia Tech 42 117 7*/6/2 65% 63% 93% 82% 77% 9
Virginia Tech 37 97 3*/9/1 54% 73% 56% 98% 65% 20
Miami (Florida) 18 108 4/6/2 24% 43% 50% 35% 63% 22
Duke 63 85 8*/9/0 81% 71% 67% 88% 67% 0
Virginia 38 18 7*/5/0 82% 55% 25% 42% 63% 1
North Carolina 23 115 7*/6/2 77% 51% 43% 34% 65% 23

The next two tables show probability distributions for the projections, based on 5,001 season simulation runs. Please note that a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%. The first table breaks down results across all games, while the second breaks down results across league games only.

Projected Results - All Games

Odds of Winning _ Games
Team E(wins) Stdev (wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Florida State 10.59 1.47 . 32% 30% 20% 10% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% . .
Clemson 8.81 1.96 . 6% 14% 20% 20% 17% 10% 6% 3% 2% 1% 0% 0% .
Boston College 7.74 2.28 . 3% 7% 13% 17% 18% 15% 11% 7% 5% 3% 1% 1% 0%
North Carolina State 5.92 2.27 . 1% 1% 4% 7% 11% 15% 17% 16% 13% 8% 4% 2% 1%
Wake Forest 4.89 2.28 . 0% 1% 1% 4% 6% 10% 15% 17% 17% 14% 9% 5% 1%
Maryland 3.42 2.04 . 0% 0% 0% 1% 2% 4% 7% 13% 17% 20% 18% 12% 5%
Georgia Tech 7.89 2.14 . 3% 8% 12% 17% 21% 16% 10% 7% 3% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Virginia Tech 7.85 2.20 . 3% 8% 12% 17% 17% 15% 12% 8% 4% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Miami (Florida) 5.23 2.30 . 0% 1% 3% 4% 8% 11% 16% 17% 16% 12% 7% 3% 1%
Duke 5.76 1.99 . 0% 1% 2% 5% 10% 16% 21% 18% 13% 7% 4% 1% 0%
Virginia 4.85 2.37 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 7% 10% 13% 17% 15% 14% 8% 5% 3%
North Carolina 4.95 2.35 . 1% 1% 2% 4% 7% 10% 14% 17% 17% 14% 8% 4% 2%

Projected Results - League Games

Odds of Winning _ League Games
Team E(wins) Stdev (wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Florida State 7.15 1.11 . 49% 30% 13% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0%
Clemson 5.89 1.47 . 11% 27% 28% 18% 9% 4% 2% 1% 0%
Boston College 4.67 1.72 . 4% 11% 19% 23% 20% 12% 7% 3% 1%
North Carolina State 3.30 1.73 . 1% 2% 7% 15% 20% 22% 17% 11% 5%
Wake Forest 3.00 1.74 . 0% 2% 6% 12% 18% 21% 20% 14% 7%
Maryland 1.87 1.49 . 0% 1% 1% 3% 9% 16% 25% 26% 20%
Georgia Tech 5.25 1.72 . 8% 16% 23% 22% 15% 9% 4% 2% 1%
Virginia Tech 4.79 1.70 . 5% 12% 19% 22% 20% 13% 6% 3% 1%
Miami (Florida) 3.43 1.75 . 1% 4% 7% 14% 21% 21% 17% 10% 4%
Duke 3.12 1.63 . 1% 2% 5% 12% 20% 25% 19% 12% 5%
Virginia 2.97 1.79 . 1% 2% 6% 10% 18% 21% 20% 15% 8%
North Carolina 2.57 1.79 . 1% 2% 4% 7% 14% 19% 22% 19% 12%

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) I have provided adjusted division (or league) odds in a couple of instances. For the Big Ten Leaders, it shows the odds of each team winning adjusting for the fact that Ohio St and Penn St will both be ineligible. The same is true for the ACC Coastal and North Carolina.

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 Mississippi St to be any better than Arkansas, 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. This overstatement has been reduced compared to last year's projections, but still likely exists to some degree. Please keep this in mind when looking at the distribution of win probabilities.

7) Since there is much less data available for the four 1-A newcomers, the power rating methodology has been more manual and arbitrary. As a consequence, I am somewhat less confident of the projections for those four teams than I am for the other 120 1-A members. Please keep this in mind when looking at the newcomers' projections.

2012 Compu-Picks Blog

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