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Clinching the ACC's Coastal Division

By Mark Giannotto

Compared with all the wacky scenarios that could happen in the ACC's Atlantic Division -- there are 128 to be exact, according to a blog post by my colleague Eric Prisbell -- crowning a Coastal Division champion seems rather mundane.

Virginia Tech controls its own destiny, and has for a few weeks now. Since the Hokies are currently undefeated in conference play and Miami and North Carolina trail with two losses apiece, a Virginia Tech victory over the Tar Heels Saturday combined with a Miami loss at Georgia Tech would clinch another Hokies division title and guarantee a spot in the ACC championship game.

That, though, is the easy scenario. What if the Hokies win and Miami wins as well? Or what if Virginia Tech loses to North Carolina and Miami loses as well? Or even worse, what if the Hokies lose to the Tar Heels and Miami beats Georgia Tech? Hopefully I'll be able to take you through every possible outcome in this post, and I'll do so from a Virginia Tech perspective.

Here are the relevant conference standings heading into this weekend's games:

Virginia Tech: 5-0. Games left: at North Carolina, at Miami, vs. Virginia
Miami: 4-2. Games left: at Georgia Tech, vs. Virginia Tech
North Carolina: 3-2. Games left: vs. Virginia Tech, vs. North Carolina State, at Duke

*Miami plays South Florida to end the season, but for the sake of this argument, that nonconference game is meaningless.

Scenario 1: Virginia Tech goes 3-0

As I stated earlier, simply one win could clinch the division for the Hokies. So if they don't lose the rest of the way, they'll win the Coastal Division for the fourth time since joining the ACC.

Scenario 2: Virginia Tech goes 2-1

Again, this is a relatively easy one. Because both teams that can pass the Hokies already have two losses, Virginia Tech has the cushion of being able to lose any of its final three games and still head to Charlotte for the ACC championship game. Where it gets tricky is if the Hokies lose more than one game to finish the season.

Scenario 3: Virginia Tech goes 1-2, with the losses to UNC and Miami

So if the Hokies only manage a victory against Virginia to close the year, they'd end up with a 6-2 conference record. In this scenario, if both North Carolina and Miami won out and finished with identical 6-2 records, the three-way tie would go to Miami based on its win over the Tar Heels on Oct. 23 and a presumed win over the Hokies.

If Miami loses to Georgia Tech and only North Carolina won out, the division would go to the Tar Heels based on their victory over Virginia Tech. If Miami lost to Georgia Tech and North Carolina loses to either North Carolina State or Duke, the division would go to the Hokies.

Scenario 4: Virginia Tech goes 1-2, with losses to UNC and U-Va.

In this scenario, Miami would be eliminated from the equation based on its three conference losses. If North Carolina beat both North Carolina State and Duke, it would win the Coastal Division because the Tar Heels would own the tiebreaker over Virginia Tech. If North Carolina lost to either the Wolfpack or Duke, the Hokies would still capture the division.

Scenario 5: Virginia Tech goes 1-2, with losses to Miami and U-Va.

In this scenario, North Carolina would be eliminated from contention based on its three conference losses. If Miami defeats Georgia Tech this weekend, combined with a presumed win over Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes would win the Coastal Division. And as I said earlier, if Virginia Tech beats North Carolina this weekend and Miami loses to Georgia Tech, the Hokies clinch the Coastal Division.

Scenario 6: Virginia Tech goes 0-3, with losses to UNC, Miami and UVA

As you can imagine, if the Hokies collapse to close the season, the conference standings would become an utter mess. In this scenario, if both North Carolina and Miami won their remaining conference games, Miami would win the tiebreaker for the division based off its earlier win over the Tar Heels.

But say Miami loses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina is defeated by either North Carolina State or Duke; that would create a three-way tie atop the standings. But again, Miami would win the division based off its wins over the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech. So obviously, if Miami beats Georgia Tech and North Carolina lost either of its remaining games, the Hurricanes would also win the division.

If Miami lost to Georgia Tech and North Carolina lost both of its final two games, in this scenario the Hurricanes would still win the division in a tiebreaker over Virginia Tech.

So what do I think will happen? My guess is Virginia Tech goes 2-1 down the stretch and makes all these scenarios a moot point. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the entire race is over this weekend with Miami having to win in Atlanta and the Hokies riding a seven-game winning streak into Chapel Hill. Regardless, no matter what occurs, it's far less confusing than the five-team mess atop the Atlantic Division standings.

By Mark Giannotto  | November 11, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
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You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble by not going beyond Scenario 2. VT will go at LEAST 2-1.

Posted by: charley42 | November 11, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Another overrated Va Tech team in another overrated ACC conference.

Wash, rinse, repeat.......

Posted by: RobInVaBeach | November 11, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Virginia Tech will win against UNC and Miami, making the hand-wringing unnecessary.

Posted by: postfan1 | November 12, 2010 3:47 AM | Report abuse

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