I figured I'd punch this out while watching Tech struggle with East Carolina, but with emphasis on the weeks rather than the individual games. It's amazing how the schedule goes downhill in the final month.
A rest for a third of the league before the closing weeks of November, this is supposed to be a slow week in conference. It won't be though, since I'm still subscribing to my "Georgia Tech with the upsets" and think they'll beat FSU. The teams with winning records will win the other two games, and you might as well just flip a coin to see who wins amongst the dregs of the Coastal Division.
The Games: Clemson at Boston College, Florida State at Georgia Tech, Duke at Wake Forest, and Miami at Virginia.
Two games this week will go a long way towards sorting out the conference races; I'm just not sure I've picked the right two. Clemson and FSU is obviously the big game, most likely deciding the Atlantic Division. The other? I think UNC and GT will both enter the game as one-conference-loss teams in a three-way tie for the Coastal; your mileage just might vary. In that case, lean towards the D.C. rivalry of Maryland-VaTech for your Saturday watching.
The Games: Clemson at Florida State, Maryland at Virginia Tech, N.C. State at Duke, Georgia Tech at North Carolina, and Virginia at Wake Forest. Oh, and Notre Dame at Boston College in the battle of the Catholics.
Here's where the scheduling gods dropped the ball - in the thick of the conference races, we get four of five games where the only danger is lapsed concentration. The favorites should easiy win. The most balanced matchup of the week is where I'l be at least, as UNC meets Maryland. This could be a game of two teams climbing their way to conference prominence (like I hope) or one (like I expect) or none (like I fear). No matter what the way, I naturally favor the Heels.
The Games: Boston College at Florida State, Duke at Clemson, North Carolina at Maryland, Virginia Tech at Miami, and Wake Forest at N.C. State
And here's where the realization sets in - all the games that would have decided the conference happened weeks ago, and now it's all coasting until the end. Might as well have Maryland upset FSU, so something interesting happens this year.
The Games: Boston College at Wake Forest, Clemson at Virginia, Florida State at Maryland, N.C. State at North Carolina, Duke at Virginia Tech, and Miami at Georgia Tech.
Rivalry Week! (Almost certainly TM ABC/ESPN/Disney who are already launching their fleet of attack-ninja pod-lawyers from Bristol.) Three ACC teams are tied up with their SEC state brethren, UNC naturally has Duke, and Virginia's Classic and Tech continue their epic romance. Which leaves a pool of five teams to finish off the year in less than cable channel marketable fashion.
There's only going to be so many ways going forward you can arrange BC, Maryland, Miami, NCSU and Wake, and in a year where Wake drew the OOC opponent - and I've got to say, there could be some mileage in a Wake Forest / Vanderbit rivalry if they stick with it - it results in a couple of very boring football games. Not that UNC and VaTech's matchups look too exciting, either.
The Games: Maryland at Boston College, Miami at N.C. State, North Carolina at Duke, Virginia at Virginia Tech, South Carolina at Clemson, Florida at Florida State, Vanderbilt at Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech at Georgia.
As much as I'd like to pick Tech to beat the Bulldogs just to annoy Kyle, GT is a year or two away from that. It'll be a much closer game than people are expecting in August, however.
The final predicted standings:
Now I'm wildly overoptimistic about UNC (10-2? Pfft.) but that' nothing new. I'm also overweighting Virginia Tech and probably missing a couple of BC wins - if I had the energy I'd go back and have the Eagles beat Clemson just to mess everything up.
The interesting thing though is the top three in each division: Clemson, FSU and Wake and VT, GT and UNC. These six teams play a mere nine games amongst themselves - if everybody played everybody else that number would be fifteen - and al of them finish by Nov. 8th. The Hokies finish this slate of games in the last week of October, and Wake is done by October 11th. The football season looks to be over well before basketball season.