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Sample Size Is Important

Caulton Tudor has proclaimed the ACC a football league, his argument being that you can make a wicked awesome NFL all-star team out of ACC alumni, while the one for basketball isn't as cool.

This is wrong. To explain why, I turn to the mystical arts of, well, math.

There are 119 teams in DI-A football, and DI-A football is pretty much the only way into the NFL. Sure, the occasional DII or DIII guy slips in, and once a decade or so some foreign soccer player slips into a kicker's slot, but that's within the noise. We'll call it 120 teams to account for that.

Let's pretend that talent is evenly distributed among all 120 teams. Florida State players have the exact same odds of making the NFL as Buffalo. So as there are 12 ACC teams, and 120 total teams, 10% of our egaltarian NFL should come from the ACC.

Now let's build an all-star team. It will have to come from NFL starters, obviously. We'll number the "starters" on each team as 24 - 11 on either side of the ball, a kicker and a punter. So the NFL has 24 times 32 "starters" - 768 players. The ACC portion of that (10%) is 76.8. Of which you have to pick 24 to create your wicked awesome all-star team. So a little less than one out of every three ACC NFL "starter" has to be impressive enough to make your all-star team. And that's with a completely random player distribution in college. Assume that Florida State has slightly more NFL talent than Buffalo, and the numbers begin to skew to the ACC pretty quickly.

(If you're having trouble believing those numbers, just look at quarterbacks. At the start of the season the ACC contriibuted four starting QBs (counting Michael Vick) to the NFL, exactly 1 player above 10%. And two of them are even remotely deserving of the label "all-star".)

Compare to the NBA. 30 teams and 15-man rosters leave 450 active players. Only 79.6% of them played college ball - that's about 358 players. There are 336 DI basketball schools - the ACC is only 3.6%. Even if we up that to 10%, a pretty impressive number, that's 35.8 NBA players, and 11.9 starters.

Tudor came up with an all-star list of twelve.

The ACC is still a basketball conference. Yes, last year they only had 7 1st and 2nd round NBA draft picks, compared to 9 in 1986. Of course, in 2005, they sent nine, and two others - Shavlik Randolph and Luke Schenscher - both made it to the NBA by other means. ACC basketball abides. ACC football still has a way to go. Use better data.