We've heard it before - sometimes conference champions are determined by which teams you don't play. In the ACC Coastal division race, one question is worth asking: who dodges the toughest Atlantic teams and who plays them? Let's look at the three Atlantic teams which are presumed to be the best in the ACC to see which Coastal teams will face them in 2014:
- Florida State: @Miami, Virginia
- Clemson: @Georgia Tech, North Carolina
- Louisville: Miami, @Virginia
In other words, Miami and Virginia have to play both Florida State and Louisville - two of the three toughest teams in the Atlantic Division! Georgia Tech and North Carolina avoid Florida State and Louisville, but still must play Clemson. This means that Virginia Tech, Duke and Pittsburgh all have a built-in advantage in the Coastal Division race this Fall.
To drive the point home, here is a table listing the two Atlantic division opponents for each Coastal division team, along with the combined 2013 wins for those 2 opponents:
|Coastal Team||Atlantic Team||Atlantic Rival||2013 wins|
|Georgia Tech||@NC State||Clemson||14|
|N. Carolina||@Clemson||N C State||14|
|Virginia Tech||@Wake Forest||Boston College||11|
Clearly, all schedules are not created equal! (Seriously - this needs fixing, but for now, we'll take it!).
Here are the Home / Away splits for the Coastal division as well:
- Duke Home: UVa, Va Tech, UNC; Away: Miami, Ga Tech, Pitt
- Ga Tech Home: Miami, Duke, UVa; Away: Va Tech, UNC, Pitt
- Miami Home: Duke, UNC, Pitt; Away: Ga Tech, Va Tech, UVa
- UNC Home: Va Tech, Ga Tech, Pitt; Away: UVa, Miami, Duke
- Pittsburgh Home: Va Tech, Ga Tech, Duke; Away: UVa, UNC, Miami
- Virginia Home: Pitt, UNC, Miami; Away: Duke, Ga Tech, Va Tech
- Va Tech Home: Ga Tech, Miami, UVa; Away: UNC, Pitt, Duke
I don't know that any team gets all of the toughest Coastal division games at home or on the road. Traditionally the Hokies play well at home against Georgia Tech and Miami, and they play well on the road in Chapel Hill.
- If Miami or UVa win the divison, they will have earned it!
- The two teams with the easiest roads are Duke and Va Tech (and they play each other in Durham, NC).
- UNC has a fairly easy path as well, and they face both of the Techs at home.
- Pitt is my dark horse, but the Panthers first have to prove to me that they can beat Ga Tech.
All things considered, I like the Hokies' chances - particularly if it comes down to the game between Virginia Tech and Duke!