My original idea for this week's column got short-circuited when I realized: I no longer have any real idea how to tell the difference between a good ACC team and a bad one.
It started with this thought: wow, the rest of the teams on our schedule are some pretty mediocre-ass looking outfits. Yes, all of them. Yes, I know what that means. Actually, it's probably our whole division that's mediocre and we're taking full advantage right now. I mean, look at the Atlantic: it might just have the best three teams in the conference. And look around the country at the other divisions....
...and that's where I got screwed up. It turns out there's quite a few other P5 divisions that don't look so hot either. Like the Big Ten West - currently led by Northwestern. OK then, bang-up work there, Wisconsin. Or both Pac-12 divisions, but especially the South, which cannot be made heads or tails of. If you divided the Big 12 into North and South, the North would be an incomprehensible soup.
Bringing it full circle to the Coastal, maybe these teams are actually good? Before the Kool-Aid IV drip really kicks in, I could see any of the next three ACC games turning out badly. I could see them turning out well, yes, but also badly. But the thing is, I don't really even know. I'm not used to the view from up here. It's really screwing up my compass. A legitimately good UVA team, as best as I can tell, has made me think good teams are actually bad. They must be if they're below UVA in the standings, right? Wait, no, they're probably good and we might still be bad and lose to them. But if they're good, why are they down there? And so I'm just going around in a circle, trying to decide who's good and who isn't, and hoping like hell the answer is "us" and "them" respectively.
I'm used to feeling confident going into games, and I'm used to impending losses. What's new is having no idea whether I should be confident or not. Oh, don't get me wrong, I've been wanting that Pitt game to start RIGHT NOW ever since the clock hit zeroes against UNC. I like our chances. I love our chances. But I don't actually know if I should.