Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where are we now? - ACC Coastal Standings & Bowl Chances

The ACC Coastal Division is a total cluster right now, with only Duke mathematically out of the race to Tampa. Heather Dinich has a great post describing everyone's possible road to the ACC Championship Game; here I'll summarize GT's could-be road. (Dinich writes ESPN's new-ish ACC blog, which I highly recommend. The WWL (World Wide Leader) is finally "getting" new media, slowly but surely.)

Georgia Tech (4-3 ACC) can win the Division only one way: UNC (3-3), VPI (3-3), and Virginia (3-3) all lose one more, and Tech beats Miami Thursday night. Because GT has lost to all three, a tied conference record would not cut it.

Here's my guess at the chances of each of those schools losing another conf. game, based on the remaing schedule:

Remaing Games: vs. NCSU, @ Duke
Chances of a loss: 25%
This is a longshot. Three weeks ago, I would have said Duke had a shot at beating Carolina, but not NC State. Now, I'd say they both have a realistic--albeit unlikely--chance.

The Wolfpack started the season pretty weak, with a win over East Carolina in OT the only decent victory before November. Now, the 'Pack is on a hot streak with wins at Duke and over Wake at home. That momentum, combined with NC State's bitter hatred of haughty Carolina, could push the 'Pack over the Heels.

Duke is coming off an embarassing loss at Clemson (31-7) and will probably see more of the same when they visit Blacksburg this weekend. They hate UNC probably as much as NC State does, and because this is a home game for the Blue Devils (and the only game likely to actually fill Wallace Wade Stadium with Duke fans), this may actually be a tough game for the Tar Heels.

Remaining Games: vs. Duke, vs. UVa
Chances of a loss: 15%
This is the least likely team to lose another game. Despite Duke's obvious improvement under Coach Cut, there is very little chance they can go into Lane Stadium and beat a 6-4 Hokie squad... although VPI did lose to ECU. (Note: I hate VPI.)

Virginia Tech's last game is against Virginia, same as every year. The Cavs are the most bipolar team in the ACC this year, with inexplicable bad losses at UConn and Duke paired with big wins over GT and rival Maryland. Virginia's on a two-game losing skid, and unless they get the home win over Clemson this weekend for a momentum boost, I doubt they pull it over the Gobblers.

Remaining Games: vs. Clemson, @ VPI
Chances of a loss: 85%
Clemson has a decent chance of beating the Cavaliers, more because of Virginia's inconsistency than because of their own decent play. The Tigers have been nearly as up-and-down as the Cavs, but there's not doubt they have talent on the roster.

The game I truly anticipate Virginia losing is down I-81 in Blacksburg. Lane Stadium really is a tough place for opposing teams, and the Hokies have the good fortune of ending the season at home.

Bottom Line
Georgia Tech's chances of making it to the ACC Championship Game are really slim. The most realistic scenario that puts us there Virginia beating VPI and Clemson beating Virginia. And even then, we depend on the mediocre Devils or Wolfpack beating UNC.

I encourage everyone to be realistic, and admit that we are not going to the ACCCG. Pre-season, knowing we'd be in the mix at all would have sounded spectacular if not absurd (especially if you watched the spring game).

Dinich has a post on ACC bowl predictions, and calls GT possible for the Meineke, Emerald, and Music City Bowls. (Reminder, the ACC bowl pecking order is: 1) Orange, 2) Chick-Fil-A, 3) Gator, 4) Champs Sports, 5) Music City, 6) Meineke, 7) Emerald, 8) Humanitarian, 9) Eagle Bank Bowl.)

I've been calling GT for the Music City Bowl since the UVa loss, and I'm sticking with that prediction. If we beat both Miami and Georgia, I will say the Peach Bowl or Champs Sports Bowl becomes likely.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Where do you think we'll go? Where, as a fan, would you like to see Tech?