Let us, for a moment, pretend the future is now.
What would the ACC power rankings look like with Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville in, and Maryland out? One of you intrepid readers asked Heather something along these lines last week, and I figured I would take a crack at answering this question, considering I have followed both leagues this year.
Here is how I would rank 'em at the end of the 2012 regular season.
1. Florida State
4. North Carolina
7. NC State
9. Virginia Tech
10. Georgia Tech
12. Wake Forest
14. Boston College
You can see my rankings of current ACC programs differ from the final regular-season rankings Heather did last week. My measure of power rankings takes into account best wins, worst losses, head-to-head AND how a team is playing week in and week out. I tend to forgive a bad loss if a team gets really hot at the end of the season.
Now let's move on to how the current Big East/future ACC teams fit into this year. I don't think there's much dispute that 10-2 Louisville belongs in the No. 3 spot. The Cardinals are ranked and going to the BCS, and are a notch below Florida State and Clemson. They also beat North Carolina earlier in the season.
Pitt is an average team, and ranks ahead of Virginia Tech thanks to its head-to-head win.
The hardest selection was ranking Syracuse. The Orange, Miami and NC State are all 7-5. Miami does not have a win as impressive as Syracuse (over then-No. 9 Louisville) or NC State (over then-No. 3 Florida State). The Hurricanes do own the head-to-head over NC State, so that gives them the advantage over the Wolfpack.
That leaves Syracuse and Miami fighting for the No. 5 spot. Heather said last week she would have the Hurricanes above Syracuse. I disagree.
First, let's look at the schedule.
Worst loss: Syracuse's five losses all came to bowl teams. Miami had one bad loss, to Virginia (4-8). Advantage: Syracuse.
Best win: Syracuse over No. 9 Louisville, 45-26. Miami over NC State 44-37. Advantage: Syracuse.
Record vs. ranked teams: Syracuse 1-2; Miami 0-3. Advantage: Syracuse.
Average margin of defeat: Syracuse, 8 points; Miami, 19 points. Advantage: Syracuse.
Average margin of victory: Syracuse, 12 points; Miami, 15 points. Advantage: Miami.
Common opponent: Syracuse beat USF in Tampa 37-36; Miami beat USF at home 40-9. Advantage: Miami
Now let's look at the actual personnel.
Running back: Syracuse started to run the ball much better in the second half of the season, but Miami has the clear advantage with Duke Johnson. Advantage: Miami.
Receiver/tight end: Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales were one of the top receiving duos in the Big East, combining for 1,926 yards and 15 touchdowns. Miami has been really banged up at receiver all season. Advantage: Syracuse.
Offensive line: Syracuse had one of the better offensive lines in the league, and went on its winning streak to close the year after first-team All-Big East tackle Justin Pugh returned. Advantage: Syracuse.
Defensive line: Syracuse had 24 total sacks on the year; Miami 13. The Hurricanes were inexperienced at just about every single defensive position this year, and line is no exception. Advantage: Syracuse.
Linebacker: The Orange got solid linebacker play, while Miami shuffled its players in and out thanks to injury. Denzel Perryman just couldn't stay healthy. Advantage: Syracuse.
Special teams: Johnson is the best special teams player either team has. Advantage: Miami.
We can further look at NCAA stats.
Total offense: Syracuse No. 21; Miami No. 38.
Total defense: Syracuse No. 50; Miami No. 117.
So, this is all a very long-winded way of saying I think Syracuse is a better team this year and would win a head-to-head matchup. Therefore, the Orange get the No. 5 spot.
Next year, however, is a different story.