Canes Chances of Winning the ACC Coastal are Slim

Despite a 2-game winning streak, the Canes likely dug themselves too big of a hole.

Note: Photo courtesy of Tony Capobianco.

Two weeks ago, when Miami fell to Georgia Tech, ACC Coastal dreams were a distant memory. A win over Pitt and a dominant destruction of Florida State has Canes fans getting out their abaci to try and calculate their ACC Coastal odds.

Unfortunately, the Canes winning the ACC Coastal will take a minor miracle. The reason? There are essentially 4 teams (excluding Miami), in the mix (or of concern to Miami. Duke is hanging around but the Canes still have to play them): North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. And while the Canes have gone 2-2 against those teams, they have a big problem, which is their ACC Coastal record.

North Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech are guaranteed to finish with better ACC Coastal records in a situation where they end up tied with the Canes, and Pitt at best would tie Miami. The Canes minimized their ACC Coastal record.

This is important because after head-to-head, ACC Coastal record is the tiebreaker. The Canes poor ACC Coastal record eliminates all 3-team tiebreaker scenarios involving North Carolina or Virginia Tech. There are some really wacky 4-team ties where Miami ends up tied with Pittsburgh, Virginia, and one of North Carolina or Virginia Tech where they could win on head-to-head, but those are really outlandish. Not only would there need to be a 4-way tie, but the specific losses would have to be such that North Carolina/Virginia Tech are eliminated on head-to-head 4-way record prior to ACC Coastal record coming into play.

There is a 3-team tiebreaker which Miami would win, and that is a tiebreaker where the Canes end up tied with Pittsburgh and Virginia. And while that doesn't seem too far-fetched, the following would have to occur:

  • Virginia loses one game.
  • Pittsburgh loses one game.
  • North Carolina loses one game.
  • Virginia Tech loses two games.
  • Miami beats Louisville and Duke.

Even that doesn't tell the full story, which is only apparent when looking at schedules:

  • UVA: Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech
  • UNC: at Pittsburgh, at NC State
  • Pitt: North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, Boston College
  • VT: Wake Forest, at Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, at Virginia

With so many games between the contenders, it's hard to have them collectively lose the requisite games.

Perhaps the most realistic scenario would be Pittsburgh beating North Carolina and Virginia Tech, and Virginia Tech losing to Wake Forest but beating Virginia. That would tick all the boxes and seems realistic. If that were to happen and the Canes beat Louisville and Duke, they win a 3-team tiebreaker over Pitt and Virginia. You want a cold does of reality? There is a 0.496% chance of that "realistic" scenario happening according to ESPN's FPI.

Miami blew it in the Georgia Tech game. Not only did they throw that game away, but they lost an ACC Coastal game to the field, with Georgia Tech looking like finishing 1-7 in the ACC. If Miami had won that game, they'd simply need one Virginia Tech loss to control their own destiny. Instead, they need 5 combined losses across 4 teams. The Canes can still have a decent season, and finish with a nice winning streak to carry some momentum into recruiting and 2020. But the ACC Coastal will take a series of results breaking their way that are extremely low probability.