Once again, Phil Steele has released his preseason strength of schedule rankings. And once again, the ACC hasn’t performed so well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — an elite team should be able to run through an easy schedule without much issue. But it also serves as a black eye on the conference for the relative lack of strength the teams possess in Steele’s eyes.
First, a look at Steele’s rankings. These are determined by looking at his nine sets of power ratings, plus the number of home and away games. The NCAA does a strict opponent W-L record method, which we’ll take a look at below as well.
Phil Steele’s 2013 ACC Strength of Schedule Rankings (numbers are national rankings)
46. Syracuse Orange
55. Clemson Tigers
60. Miami Hurricanes
77. Duke Blue Devils
- The two weakest schedules — Duke’s and Louisville’s — should provide great opportunity for both teams. I see the Blue Devils getting back to the postseason this year, and this certainly aids that. The Cardinals are aiming for an undefeated season in 2013, and having a weak schedule (thanks, American Athletic Conference!) like that certainly helps matters.
- Most of the teams finish around the middle of the pack, largely due to where most of the conference finished last year (in the 5-7 to 7-5 range).
- I’m shocked to see Clemson that low, considering they have South Carolina and Georgia on the schedule, but when your division’s just two-deep, I guess that’ll happen.
- Shocked to see Pitt that high, especially with a weak non-conference schedule outside of Notre Dame. The inverse could be said of Miami, who’s facing Florida (but at home), yet still comes in around 60th.
The NCAA method, which we touched on above, is just a simple W-L record. It’s not indicative of overall strength, so much as previous season’s success, without accounting for opponent strength whatsoever. These look very different from Steele’s.
NCAA 2013 Strength of Schedule Rankings (numbers are national rankings)
16. NC State
24. Georgia Tech
47. North Carolina
63. Boston College
70. Florida State
72. Wake Forest
99. Virginia Tech
- Stark difference above, as you’ll see a lot more “weak” schedules than Steele’s methodology gives us. A lot of that is from the increasingly cupcake-driven non-conference schedules of several ACC teams, plus the league’s weakness overall last year.
- FSU and Clemson both get dinged a bit since they don’t have to play themselves. The rest of the Atlantic gets a boost from playing both.
- Really shocked to see Virginia Tech that far down, considering they play Alabama to start the year. Beyond that though, not a whole lot of competition.
- Again, Miami’s ranking also surprises, since they’ve got FSU and Florida on there. Inversely, Pitt… how are you up that high?
Your thoughts? Any other surprises you see there? Discuss in the comments below.