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ACC Coastal standings: Virginia Tech’s in the best shape by far, thanks to tiebreakers

Nothing gets decided this week, but the Hokies only need to beat Virginia to meet either Clemson or Louisville in Orlando.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The ACC Coastal is the lesser of the conferences’ two divisions, but it’s also the one set up for the most interesting finish. (Let’s assume Wake Forest doesn’t upset Clemson this weekend to throw the Atlantic to Louisville.)

ACC teams play eight conference games. Virginia Tech and North Carolina are tied atop the division at 5-2, with Miami and Pitt next at 3-3. While a three- or four-way tie at 5-3 isn’t technically impossible, it’s highly unlikely.

Virginia Tech holds tiebreakers over Miami, North Carolina, and Pitt, having beaten them all head-to-head.

Neither the Hokies nor Tar Heels play in conference this weekend, but their Week 13 games are against Virginia and NC State, respectively. One of them, barring some real chaos, will win the division.


What happens this weekend is irrelevant to the Coastal race. The Hokies play Notre Dame, and the Heels play the Citadel. Both should win, but even if they don’t, the Coastal situation will stay the same.

A Virginia Tech win against UVA will put the Hokies in Orlando for the conference title game, while a Tech loss and UNC win would send the Heels to that game. (Barring a surprise, Clemson will represent the ACC Atlantic.)

Virginia Tech also wins the division in any kind of multi-team tie.

If Virginia Tech and North Carolina both lose on the last weekend, that presents a chance for Miami or Pitt to tie them at the top. Both still have two league games to play, and they’re all winnable: Pitt at home against Duke and Syracuse, and Miami at NC State and home against Duke.

If either Tech or UNC wins its last game, this is moot. But if both lose that game, and either Pitt or Miami (or both) finishes 2-0, that’ll leave the division with three or four teams tied at 5-3.

The potential tiebreakers are complex, but we wouldn’t need to look past the first one: “Combined head-to-head winning percentage among the tied teams.”

That round-robin tiebreaker would look like this, in practice:

Virginia Tech: Beat Miami, beat Pitt, beat North Carolina (3-0)
North Carolina: Beat Pitt, lost to VT, beat Miami (2-1)
Miami: Lost to UNC, lost to VT, beat Pitt (1-2)
Pitt: Lost to UNC, lost to VT, lost to Miami (0-3)

Virginia Tech is covered if there’s any kind of two-team, three-team, or four-team tie. The only way the Hokies don’t win the division is if they lose their last game and UNC wins its last.

Miami and Pitt could catch up at 5-3, but they couldn’t win on a tiebreaker.