Assuming Miami decides to stay out of the pokey, Georgia Tech’s chances for winning the ACC Coastal Division soared from unlikely to slightly less unlikely Thursday night with Florida State’s defeat of Virginia Tech.
The Seminoles beat the Hokies 26-22 in Blacksburg, Va., to give Virginia Tech its fourth conference loss. Georgia Tech, with three conference defeats (3-3), now only has Miami to worry about if it can beat both North Carolina and Duke.
Miami is 4-2 and would need to drop its last two against Virginia Saturday and Duke in two weeks. Or, of course, self-impose a bowl ban as part of its penalties for alleged NCAA rules violations. There has been plenty of speculation about whether Miami will decide on a ban, and I think at this point it’s merely that.
Consider this, though – USC was hit with a two-year bowl ban (among other penalties) for infractions that largely centered around one player, Reggie Bush. If the details in the Yahoo report are accurate, Miami’s infractions are far more widespread, sustained and institutional. The 2011 report alleged eight years of rule breaking, “some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs.”
Predicting an NCAA penalty based on past rulings is probably a fool’s errand, but a two-year bowl ban hardly seems out of line, and Miami might do well to take its medicine.
That said, a chance to win an ACC title is hard to pass up. The Hurricanes have yet to win one since joining the ACC. At least as part of the ongoing investigation, it wouldn’t be vacated, like Georgia Tech’s was, since the NCAA’s investigation isn’t into violations committed this season.
At any rate, let’s say Miami is out. Then what?
Tech would secure the ACC Coastal title by beating North Carolina and Duke.
If Tech were to lose to North Carolina, then it would have four league losses and Virginia Tech would regain its tiebreaker over the Jackets. Then Tech would need to beat Duke next Saturday and have the Hokies lose to either Boston College or Virginia. Either is unlikely, but so is Virginia Tech having lost five of its last six.
(As an aside, this has been an unusually unpredictable season in the ACC, but I’d say that the collapse of the Hokies is probably the strangest development of the season. Remember that Virginia Tech had won 10 or more games eight years in a row coming into 2012 and was talking about how this year’s defense could be the best in school history.)
So, anyway, if the Hokies were to lose to B.C. or Virginia and Tech lost to North Carolina and beat Duke, Tech would go to Charlotte with a 5-7 record and Mike Slive would likely skip the SEC championship game in order to attend the ACC championship game and administer an atomic wedgie to John Swofford.
Duke is 3-3. Its last two games are against Tech next Saturday and Miami the following week. The Blue Devils would go to Charlotte by winning those two in a Miami bowl-ban scenario. Or, if Virginia Tech were to take a fifth conference loss, the Blue Devils could lose to Miami and still gain the division title by beating Tech.
What are Tech’s chances? I found a website you might find interesting. Atomic Football gives Tech a 27.3 percent chance of beating North Carolina Saturday and an 80.3 percent chance of beating Duke. That means a 21.9 percent chance of beating both. It gave Miami a 54.4 percent chance of beating Virginia (surprisingly low, but it’s a road game for the Hurricanes) and a 63.6 percent chance of beating Duke. So the probability of Miami losing both is 16.6 percent.
The chance of both happening (Tech going 2-0 and Miami going 0-2), then, according to Atomic Football, is 3.6 percent.
Atomic Football has picked games straight up at a .757 rate this year. Here’s another site for the mathematically inclined – predictiontracker.com. It rates the accuracy of various algorithm-based prediction models. (I got into sports writing so I could write sentences like that last one.)
That’s all I’ve got.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog