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Hokies dominate ACC, not first round

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The ACC has produced 35 first-round picks since expansion.

Virginia Tech has won 32 ACC games since expansion and three conference titles — nobody has won more in either category.

Do you know how many Virginia Tech players have been drafted in the first round since 2004?


That's one more than Duke and less than nine other teams (and the same as Georgia Tech). What does that tell you?

You need a smart coach. You might also conclude talent is slightly overrated. Given the narrow prism we're looking through — just the first round — put an emphasis on slightly.

You need talent, but more importantly, you need the right coach. Good coaches can win without elite talent. Average coaches can lose, or not win enough, with elite talent.

Pick your own comparison to Beamer's model at Virginia Tech: Virginia, Florida State or N.C. State.

While Virginia Tech tears up the ACC, Virginia tears up the draft. Al Groh has produced five first-round picks since expansion, only the Florida schools have had more.

Groh has won 21 ACC games (with 19 losses) since expansion and had two losing conference seasons.

Florida State can match Virginia Tech's conference title count this decade (three) but with the benefit of four extra years and the Noles have won only one title since expansion.

The Noles have had an ACC-best 12 first-round picks this decade (20 of Miami's 26 first-rounders this decade were before the Canes joined the ACC).

Actually, FSU's problem is it can't buy an offense. Of the 12 first-rounders, only two were on the offensive side of the ball and only one was a skill player (receiver Peter Warrick in 2000).

Former N.C. State coach Chuck Amato produced five first-rounders this decade and four in the expansion era. State had three first-rounders in the 2006 draft, including the No. 1 overall pick (Mario Williams).

With all that defensive talent, Amato went 3-5 in the ACC in 2005 — one first-rounder per conference win.

How the teams break down since expansion on the field and in the first round of the draft:

FSU 7 23-17 (4) 1 1
Miami 6 20-20 (7) 0 0
Virginia 5 21-19 (6) 0 0
BC 4 21-11 (2) 2 0
Maryland 3 18-22 (T9) 0 0
N.C. State 3 15-25 (11) 0 0
Clemson 2 22-18 (5) 0 0
UNC 2 18-22 (T9) 0 0
Georgia Tech 1 25-15 (3) 1 0
Virginia Tech 1 32-8 (1) 3 3
Wake Forest 1 19-21 (8) 1 1
Duke 0 2-38 (12) 0 0

Notes: 1st=1st round picks since joining the ACC; ACC=Conference record since joining the ACC (conference rank by winning percentage in parenthesis); Div=Division titles; Conf=Conference titles. Miami and Virginia Tech joined the ACC in 2004 and Boston College in 2005.


A sad by-product (for the Big Four) of crunching the post-expansion numbers is where the four ACC teams in this state rank in the "new" ACC.

Of the five ACC teams with a losing conference record since expansion, four are in this state. The bottom three teams are Duke (12), N.C. State (11) and UNC (tied with Maryland for ninth).

To look at the winning percentage in sobering chart form:

   W-L Pct.
Virginia Tech 32-8 .800
Boston College 21-11 .656
Georgia Tech 25-15 .625
Florida State 23-17 .575
Clemson 22-18 .550
Virginia 21-19 .525
Miami 20-20 .500
Wake Forest 19-21 .475
Maryland 18-22 .450
UNC 18-22 .450
N.C. State 15-25 .375
Duke 2-38 .050



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I think it would be more interesting to see winning percentage versus # of draft picks overall. I would strongly suspect that you'd see more correlation between teams that win a lot and teams that have a lot of players drafted. Being a first-round pick versus being a second round pick is kind of a crap shoot.

Do have to admit I've wondered more than once about all those guys drafted in the first round from crummy teams, though.

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.