Posted by Chip Patterson
Sitting down this morning, I figured I might start the week off by trying to sort through the ever-muddled ACC Atlantic Division. With Florida State having dropped two in a row, the division has turned into a complete toss-up between the Seminoles, N.C. State , Maryland , and to a lesser extent, Clemson . Quickly running out of room in the legal pad, it became quickly obvious that the free-for-all in the ACC was going to be a difficult puzzle to solve. Thankfully, we have people like Patrick Stevens at D1scourse.com . Stevens has gone through and charted all 128 possible scenarios in the ACC Atlantic Division race. Of the 128 scenarios, Florida State wins in the 38 of them, N.C. State in 33, Maryland takes the division in 31, and Clemson gets the nod for the ACC Championship Game in 25 of the scenarios. Which leaves one scenario, one which Stevens has dubbed the "trainwreck" scenario :
Suppose Florida State loses to Clemson but beats Maryland. And the Terrapins upend Virginia and N.C. State. Oh, and the Wolfpack has to beat Wake Forest and North Carolina. Finally --- and perhaps least likely --- Clemson has to lose at Wake Forest. Then again, it's Clemson, so nothing should be counted out. That creates a three-way tie at 5-3 between Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State. The group would be 1-1 against each other, and all three teams would have the same division record, losses to Clemson, wins against Boston College and Wake Forest and no common games against non-division teams.
That takes things down to step No. 7 on the eight-step tiebreaker list, which is the team with the highest ranking in the BCS standings at the end of the conference regular season --- unless the teams are within five spots of each other. Seeing as how none of the three are in the top 25 of this week's BCS standings, hilarity could ensue.
Step No. 8, by the way, is "the representative shall be chosen by a draw." Fun times.
Click here for a full chart of each scenario and the division winner. Clemson's 25 division-winning scenarios can be wiped off the board quickly with a loss at Florida State on Saturday night, but the rest of the contenders still have at least a long-shot chance regardless of the outcome of their next contest. How Maryland fares against Florida State and in the season-finale against N.C. State will likely determine the division winner. Of course having those games left on the schedule is what makes a headache like the aforementioned "trainwreck" scenario possible, but it also is adding some much-needed excitement to a conference that has not had most impressive season. ACC fans may have been disappointed with the lack of elite competition in 2010, but at least they will get a photo finish.