The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 29, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

For the projected bowl matchups, as well as ratings and predicted spreads, go to our website at:

http://www.piratings.webs.com

The committee has anted up and thrown out its opening bid, and the public is ready to call its bluff. The three of a kind known as the SEC West will not be the ultimate winning hand in this revolving poker game.

If you haven’t seen the opening ratings for the college football playoffs, it goes like this:

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Auburn
4. Ole Miss
5. Oregon
6. Alabama
7. T C U
8. Michigan State
9. Kansas State
10. Notre Dame
11. Georgia
12. Arizona
13. Baylor
14. Arizona State
15. Nebraska
16. Ohio State
17. Utah
18. Oklahoma
19. L S U
20. West Virginia
21. Clemson
22. U C L A
23. East Carolina
24. Duke
25. Louisville

If the season ended today, there would be omelets served in New Orleans on New Year’s Day, as Ole Miss and Mississippi State would hook up to make the Sugar Bowl, the Egg Bowl, part deux. Florida State and Auburn would hook up in the Rose Bowl.

Of course, the season did not end Saturday, and these ratings are going to change, as these teams lose games. Ole Miss and Mississippi State will play in the real Egg Bowl, producing one loser. Ole Miss and Auburn play this week. Alabama still must play LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn. Auburn and Georgia must play. These teams will cannibalize each other, and it could end up with all the SEC teams suffering two losses.

Florida State has a trap game tomorrow night at Louisville, and the Seminoles may or may not have a legitimate running back able to play, while former Auburn star back Michael Dyer just emerged from a two year sabbatical to torch North Carolina State for 173 yards.

In the Big Ten, Michigan State and Ohio State must still face off in a couple weeks, and the winner of this game could face a one-loss Nebraska team in the Big Ten Championship Game, although we are not ready to say the Cornhuskers are headed to an 11-1 finish.

Oklahoma must still play Baylor in the Big 12, while Baylor must also still play Kansas State. TCU has games remaining against West Virginia and Kansas State. There could be no one-loss teams left here by December 7.

Out West, the Pac-12 is very competitive, and there are still one-loss teams in Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, and Utah. UCLA, USC, Stanford, Washington, and Oregon State could all play spoiler.

Notre Dame still has one loss, but the Irish have tough road games against Arizona State and USC.

For those fans that want an eight-team playoff, you really have a chance to consider the rest of the season a 16-team playoff, because any of the top 16 could possibly move up into the top four depending on how all these crucial games turn out.

Let’s take a look at how we see the rest of the season playing out. It is surely not going to be this way, but we want to make it interesting to read, while still looking possible.

All won-loss records shown are predicted final records and not current records.

The Group of Five

These five conferences are the leagues competing for one guaranteed spot in the New Year’s Eve/Day Big Four Bowls (Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Peach). As of today, East Carolina from the American Athletic Conference is the highest only rated team, but we believe the Pirates will stub their toe one more time this year and allow another team to pass them. Marshall, Central Florida, and Boise State appear to be the only two other teams capable of moving into the top spot.

American Athletic Conference
UCF lost two games early, but the Knights have run off five straight wins and look to be on a roll. Their season-ender at ECU will decide the league title, and we are going to stick with George O’Leary’s squad until somebody beats them.

East Carolina has a couple of tough games to play before hosting UCF on December 4. They venture to Temple this weekend and follow that up with a road game at Cincinnati after a bye week.

Cincinnati, Houston, and Memphis still hold feint hopes of backing into the crown, while Temple is looking for bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011, and the Owls have a tough closing schedule.

1. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (8-0/10-2)
2. Miami Beach Bowl: East Carolina (7-1/10-2)
3. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (6-2/8-4)
4. Military Bowl: Cincinnati (6-2/8-4)
5. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (6-2/8-4)

Also Bowl Eligible: Temple (4-4/6-6)

Conference USA
Marshall has a better than 50-50 chance of running the table, and we believe the Thundering Herd has the best chance of winning the big prize for the Group of 5 teams. A road game against mediocre UAB and the conference title game, most likely against Louisiana Tech, are the only two possible road blocks. Coach Doc Holliday figures to be a key player in the Power 5 coaching carousel, as he may be the best recruiter in the business. He could be a wildcard in the Florida coaching search.

It looks like as many as seven CUSA teams will become bowl eligible for five guaranteed bids, but three will be mired at 6-6. Geography may help the league place all their bowl eligible teams in bowls if Marshall garners the big prize.

1. Peach Bowl: Marshall (8-0/13-0)
2. Hawaii Bowl: Louisiana Tech (7-1/8-5)
3. Bahamas Bowl: U T E P (5-3/7-5)
4. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (5-3/7-5)
5. New Mexico Bowl: Rice (4-4/6-6)
6. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Western Kentucky (3-5/6-6)
7. Independence Bowl (at-large invitation): U A B (4-4/6-6)

Mid-American Conference
Toledo is the highest-rated team, but the Rockets are too far down in the pecking order to contend for a New Year’s Big Four Bowl. Until a MAC team beats Toledo, we are going to call for the Rockets to run the table in the regular season. But, like in more than half the seasons, we believe the upset could send the underdog team to the top bowl.

The parity among the rest of the league means that as many as eight teams could get to six wins this year. The MAC is only allotted five bowls, so three teams could be left jilted at the end of the year, unless a Midwestern or Northeastern Bowl needs an at-large team.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Bowling Green (6-2/9-4)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo (8-0/9-4)
3. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan (6-2/8-4)
4. Camellia Bowl: Central Michigan (6-2/8-4)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Northern Illinois (4-4/7-5)

Also Bowl Eligible
Akron (5-3/7-5)
Ball State (5-3/6-6)
Ohio (4-4/6-6)

Mountain West Conference
Boise State’s loss at Air Force on September 27 is the only reason the Broncos are not the leading candidate from the Group of 5 leagues to make a New Year’s bowl. Their other loss is to Ole Miss, which is much better than East Carolina’s lone loss to South Carolina. If ECU loses again, and Marshall loses at all, the Broncos can earn the big bowl by winning out. A season finale against Utah State and a conference championship game against a weaker opponent is all that stands in their way of going 11-2.

Colorado State has just one loss this year, but it was to Boise State. The Rams could easily run the table and finish 11-1, and even with a win at Boston College, CSU does not figure to pass Boise State if the Broncos do not lose. Backroom politics could provide the Rams or Boise a shot at moving up to a better bowl even though there are no real rules for such a thing to happen. It has happened in the past.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State (7-1/11-2)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado State (7-1/11-1)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah State (6-2/9-4)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force (4-4/8-4)
5. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (5-3/8-5)
6. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State (5-3/7-5)
7. Cactus Bowl (alternate affiliate): Fresno State (5-3/6-6)

Sunbelt Conference
The Sunbelt Conference is perpetually the weakest overall league, but it most frequently produces surplus bowl eligible teams that get selected to Southern bowls needing at-large teams. Look for more of the same this year, as there will be at least five bowl eligible SBC teams for just three bowl tie-ins. We believe four of the five bowl eligible teams will be playing late in December or early in January.

Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia Southern do not play each other this season, and chances are decent that they both will finish unbeaten in league play to split the title. ULL has been to the New Orleans Bowl three years running, and they might as well start putting this game on their regular schedule, because the folks in the Big Easy would like nothing more than to invite the Ragin’ Cajuns for a fourth straight year.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Georgia Southern (8-0/10-2)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (8-0/9-3)
3. Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State (6-2/8-4)
4. Independence Bowl (at-large invitation): South Alabama (5-3/6-6)

Also Bowl Eligible: Texas State (5-3/7-5)

Independents
Notre Dame is part of the Power 5 and not included in this section. Army, BYU, and Navy are all guaranteed specific bowls if they become bowl eligible. BYU is fading fast, but the Cougars should get that sixth win with UNLV and Savannah State still on the schedule. Navy might need an unbelievable 13th consecutive win over Army to get to six wins, but as of this week, we believe the Midshipmen will do it. Army will not get there this year, as the Black Knights have losses to Yale and Kent State. Navy will be their bowl game on December 13 in Baltimore.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (6-6)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (6-6)

The Power 5

Atlantic Coast Conference
Florida State can ill afford to drop an ACC game and expect to stay ahead of a host of other one-loss teams. The Seminoles have a lot of outside interference getting in their way at the present time, and a Thursday night nationally televised game at Louisville looks tricky at the moment. FSU must consider this game their “Sweet 16” round game in the playoffs, with their “Elite 8” game coming in the ACC Championship Game.

Duke is still technically alive for the Playoffs, but the Blue Devils would have to run the table and then handily defeat a 12-0 FSU team to have even a remote chance of finishing in the top four. A Duke team at 11-2 and as the highest ranked ACC team after Florida State, could force the Orange Bowl to invoke their clause, where they could invite Big Ten and SEC opponents, forcing Duke into the Buffalo Wild Wings (formerly Capital One) Bowl.

Notre Dame is included in the ACC grouping, and the Irish need to finish 11-1 or 10-2 to earn a Big Four New Year’s bowl. We believe they will.

Clemson is still in the mix for an Orange Bowl bid, but the Tigers must handle arch-rival South Carolina and still have a tricky game at Georgia Tech. We aren’t sure CU has the horses this year to win both games.

Louisville has a lot riding on their big game tomorrow night against Florida State. If the Cardinals win, they could possibly get on a roll, win at both Boston College and Notre Dame and finish 10-2 to get into the mix for the Orange Bowl. If they lose a heartbreaker, things could go the other way, and UL could be 6-5 when they host Kentucky on November 29.

The Coastal Division is looking more and more mixed up. Duke controls their own destiny, while the other six teams could all finish 6-6 or better. We believe one team will sink in the sunset while allowing the other teams to get bowl eligible. Virginia has suffered some disheartening losses this year, and we believe the Cavaliers will fall apart and fail to get to six wins.

Even with Notre Dame included in the bowl tie-ins, because both the Irish and Florida State appear to be headed to games outside the ACC contracts, this league will fall two teams shy in their obligations to bowls, opening up room for two other Southern bowl eligible teams to gain tickets to the waltz.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Florida State (8-0/13-0)
2. Cotton Bowl: Notre Dame (10-2)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Duke (7-1/11-2)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson (7-1/9-3)
5. Gator Bowl: Georgia Tech (5-3/8-4)
6. Belk Bowl: Louisville (4-4/7-5)
7. Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech (4-4/7-5)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (4-4/7-5)
9. Military Bowl: North Carolina (4-4/6-6)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Miami (5-3/8-4)

Big Ten Conference
The Michigan State and Ohio State winner should sneak up into the top four if that team wins the Big Ten Championship Game as well. We believe that will happen, and the loser of the OSU-MSU game will still earn a Big Four New Year’s bowl with two losses.

With two teams expected to play in part of the overall Big Six bowl games, the Big Ten may not have enough bowl eligible teams for all their allotted spots. Teams like Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois, and Northwestern still have work to do to get to six wins. Indiana and Purdue are not included as possible bowl eligible teams at this point. For sanity’s sake, and to provide a surplus of one team to become an a quality at-large bowl invitee, we will call for UM, RU, IU, and NU to all finish 6-6.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Michigan State (8-0/12-1)
2. Orange Bowl: Ohio State (7-1/10-2)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Nebraska (5-3/9-3)
4. Outback Bowl: Wisconsin (6-2/9-4)
5. Holiday Bowl: Iowa (5-3/8-4)
6. Music City Bowl: Penn State (3-5/7-5)
7. San Francisco Bowl: Minnesota (4-4/7-5)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (2-6/6-6)
9. Quick Lane Bowl: Illinois (3-5/6-6)
10. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Maryland (3-5/6-6)
11. St. Petersburg Bowl (at-large invitation): Northwestern (5-3/6-6)

Big 12 Conference
This is the league where a one-loss team has the unfortunate best chance to miss out on the playoffs to a one-loss Big Ten team. TCU and Baylor may not garner the same prestige as Michigan State and Ohio State, and thus the loser of this political game may have to settle for a Cotton Bowl bid, while a second Big 12 team winds up in the Fiesta Bowl, and a third team could go to Atlanta in the Peach Bowl against the Group of 5 invitee.

Texas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas are virtually out of contention for bowl eligibility. With three teams expected to play in New Year’s bowls and just six probably bowl eligible teams, this league will not meet its obligations to supply seven bowls with teams.

1. Cotton Bowl: T C U (8-1/11-1)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (7-2/10-2)
3. Peach Bowl: Baylor (7-2/10-2)
4. Alamo Bowl: Kansas State (6-3/8-4)
5. Russell Athletic Bowl: West Virginia (6-3/8-4)
6. Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma St. (4-5/6-6)

Pac-12 Conference
The Pac-12 still has four one-loss teams in both Arizona’s, Utah, and Oregon. We believe one team will emerge at 12-1, but because we are picking Arizona to be that team, the Wildcats would have to leapfrog Michigan State, after the Spartans beat Ohio State and either Wisconsin or Nebraska.

Oregon may find itself a victim of geographical circumstances if the Ducks do not win out and finish 12-1. At 11-2, Oregon might take a backseat to two-loss teams more than 1,000 miles closer to bowls available.

If no team from this league makes the playoffs, there will be surplus bowl eligible teams, and this league will be at the top in priority when other bowls start to look for at-large invitees.

1. Fiesta Bowl: Arizona (8-1/12-1)
2. Alamo Bowl: Oregon (7-1/11-2)
3. Holiday Bowl: Arizona St. (7-2/10-2)
4. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (6-3/9-3)
5. Sun Bowl: U S C (6-3/7-5)
6. Las Vegas Bowl: Washington (4-5/8-5)
7. Cactus Bowl: Stanford (5-4/7-5)
8. Texas Bowl (at-large invitation): Utah (4-5/7-5)
9. Armed Forces Bowl (at-large invitation): Oregon State (3-6/6-6)

Southeastern Conference
The league that perpetually wears the black hat or is like rooting for the Yankees once again appears to be the strongest of all, but cannibalization in November is going to remove at least one of the projected three playoff spots.

Mississippi State is number one and undefeated, but we do not believe the Bulldogs have a snowball’s chance of winning three incredibly tough games they would have to win to be 13-0 on December 7. With Alabama, Ole Miss, and a possible SEC Championship Game bout with Georgia lurking ahead in the next five weeks, nobody could be expected to win all three.

Alabama is the enigma. The Crimson Tide is not a juggernaut and cannot be expected to totally shut down opponents with their defense like in past years. However, their offense is capable of looking more like the Denver Broncos. Alabama has tough games left against LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn, and we believe they will stub their toe at least once and miss out on the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn also has three tough games in their way of making it to the SEC Championship Game, and it is too tough for the Tigers to beat Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama.

Ole Miss could easily lose to Auburn this week and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to finish 9-3. They could also beat both teams to make it to the SEC Championship Game, but Georgia’s defense looks like it could stop the Rebels’ offense.

Somebody from the West must win the division flag and advance to the Championship Game, so we will go with Alabama for now, but we will also call for the Tide to lose to Georgia.

Georgia, the team from the East with little remaining resistance, looks to have a huge advantage to work out the kinks in their offense, get Todd Gurley back in November, and run the table, including winning the SEC Championship Game to sneak into the Playoffs. They will not be battered and bruised like the SEC West Champ.

In other bowl developments, look for Florida to miss out and finish 5-6. The Gators might try to arrange some type of backroom deal to get an invitation because they did not get to play Idaho, which would have been a for sure win to make them 6-6, but until the political stiffs come to that conclusion, we will leave the Gators out of the picture.

Kentucky and Tennessee are the two teams to watch. The Wildcats looked like a possible Buffalo Wild Wings or Outback Bowl contender two weeks ago, but consecutive losses to LSU and Mississippi State have put the Blue and White at the back of the pecking order. If the ‘Cats lose at Missouri this week, it is going to get iffy for the Blue Mist at 5-4. With games against Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisville, 5-7 is very possible.

As for Tennessee, the Volunteers are definitely the best 3-5 team in America with four top 20 losses. The schedule eases up quite a bit for the Big Orange in November, and it isn’t impossible that UT will win all four to finish 7-5. We believe 6-6 is almost assured, and Butch Jones will guide his squad into a bowl.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Georgia (7-1/12-1)
2. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Mississippi State (7-1/11-1)
3. Orange Bowl: Alabama (7-1/11-2)
4. Outback Bowl: Auburn (5-3/9-3)
5. Gator Bowl: Ole Miss (5-3/9-3)
6. Music City Bowl: L S U (5-3/9-3)
7. Belk Bowl: South Carolina (4-4/8-4)
8. Liberty Bowl: Tennessee (3-5/6-6)
9. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (3-5/7-5)
10. Birmingham Bowl: Missouri (4-4/7-5)

October 21, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowls Coverage

For October 21, 2014

Note: You can find our award-winning ratings at http://www.piratings.webs.com

You can find numerous bowl projection sights on the Internet, so we see no reason to just put forth our projections like 100 others. The PiRate Ratings have always been a little different than other ratings. Our computer ratings use a system other than the actual scores of the games, using unique statistical data to come up with a truer score of every game before adjusting the ratings. Likewise, our bowl projections do not use the same criteria as other projectors.
We try to use our ratings to look forward and determine what the standings will look like on December 7. Then, we try to surmise the “political” nature of the bowls. For instance, you know that the ACC bowls would prefer to invite anybody other than Miami if they have a chance. When you cannot put 5,000 fans in your stadium for a home game against Cincinnati, another likely bowl team, it is not going to give a bowl like the Sun Bowl much faith that the Hurricanes will bring 20,000 fans to El Paso. Likewise, a 10-2 Auburn team is going to garner one of the big Bowl games not in the playoffs (Fiesta, Orange, Peach, or Cotton this year) before a 10-2 Washington team.

What we will do here is cover the bowls by conference. If you want to see the projections like 100 other sites, go to our website at the link below.

http://piratings.webs.com/bowlprojections.htm

Here is where we see the conferences and bowl possibilities for October 21, 2014.
Note: An Asterisk (*) means this is an at-large selection because the conference cannot meet its bowl tie-in obligation due to lack of bowl eligible team.

The Playoffs as we see it today

Sugar Bowl: #1 Ole Miss vs. #4 Ohio St.

Rose Bowl: #2 Florida St. vs. #3 Alabama

Group of 5 Conferences

American Athletic Conference
East Carolina controls its own destiny to become the first Group of 5 conference member to play in one of the Four New Year’s Eve/Day Big Bowls. At 11-1, the Pirates would top a 13-0 Marshall team. ECU has three potential possible upset games yet to play, but the Pirates are clearly better than anybody left on their schedule. Those three tough games to come are against Temple in Philadelphia on November 1; at Cincinnati on Thursday night, November 13; and a Thursday night regular season finale at home against Central Florida.

Central Florida should be on a roll when the Knights roll into Greenville for that big December 4 game. UCF should win nine games, and the Knights figure to be the second bowl selection out of the AAC.

Houston started the season with some trouble, but the Cougars have begun to play their best football of the season in the last few weeks. UH does not face ECU, so chances are slim that Coach Tony Levine’s team can sneak up and take the conference crown.

Cincinnati, Memphis, and Temple all should be bowl eligible, and there will be enough conference bids for all three.

1. Peach Bowl: East Carolina (vs. Notre Dame)
2. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (vs. Kentucky)
3. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (vs. Miami)
4. Miami Beach Bowl: Cincinnati (vs. BYU)
5. Military Bowl: Temple (vs. Virginia)
6. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (vs. Rutgers)

Conference USA
Marshall has a clear path to a 13-0 season, but the Thundering Herd still must get past UAB on the road and a possible tough Louisiana Tech team in the C-USA Championship Game. Marshall needs an ECU loss to occur in order to sneak into a possible Peach Bowl invitation.

Louisiana Tech appears to be the class of the West Division, but Bulldogs are no cinch with games still remaining against UAB on the road and Rice at home.

Middle Tennessee is on pace to win seven games and a mild upset over a swooning BYU Cougars team could lift that number to eight and make the Blue Raiders the third choice in the conference bowl pecking order.

The rest of the bowl invitations will go out to the three teams that can get to 6-6. As of today, we predict Rice, UAB, and Florida Atlantic will be those three teams. Failure to get three to 6-6 will help the Sunbelt or MAC.

1. Hawaii Bowl: Marshall (vs. Utah St.)
2. Bahamas Bowl: Louisiana Tech (vs. Toledo)
3. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (vs. Northern Illinois)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Rice (vs. Air Force)
5. Heart of Dallas Bowl: U A B (vs. Arkansas St. *)
6. Independence Bowl: Florida Atlantic * (vs. Georgia Tech)

Mid-American Conference
Toledo appears to be the top team at this point, but the Rockets are not a for-sure selection to win the MAC Championship, as there is some parity in the league this year.

Because there is not dominant team like an undefeated Northern Illinois team, there will definitely be many more bowl eligible teams than bowl spots. We foresee eight bowl eligible MAC teams with three not receiving bowl bids.

Politics and financial priorities will allow a team like Ohio to beat out Buffalo or Central Michigan if they all finish 7-5. Choosing between Ohio and Bowling Green will be tough, but we will take the Bobcats.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (vs. Louisiana Tech)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (vs. Middle Tennessee)
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron (vs. Nevada)
4. Camellia Bowl: Western Michigan (vs. South Alabama)
5. Go Daddy Bowl: Ohio U (vs. Georgia Southern)

Mountain West Conference
Boise State’s upset loss to Air Force has kept the Broncos down at number three or four in the Group of 5 teams vying for the New Year’s Eve/Day bowl bid. The Broncos only other loss it to Ole Miss, which looks a lot better now than it did on August 28. BSU’s only bump in the road ahead is a home finale against Utah State on November 29.

Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force are certainly going bowling from the Mountain Division. In the West Division, it looks like three teams could finish tied at 5-3. One of the three, Fresno State as of this week, is likely not to receive a bowl bid.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (vs. Stanford)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. (vs. Oregon St. *)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah St. (vs. Marshall)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force (vs. Rice)
5. New Orleans Bowl: San Diego St. (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
6. Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada (vs. Akron)

Sunbelt Conference
This is the only Group of Five conference with zero chance of having a team play in a New Year’s Eve/Day bowl. Georgia Southern had their chances, blowing second half leads to North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. The Eagles appear to be the class of the league this year, with Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State just behind. GSU does not play either team this year and should run the table in league play.

UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State should receive some form of bowl invitation, be it from a conference tie-in or as an at-large. (Note—this was written before these two teams faced off Tuesday night.)

South Alabama may finish a game or even two behind Louisiana-Monroe and may finished tied with Texas State, but the Jaguars figure to earn the Camellia Bowl bid just up the road in Montgomery with six or more wins.

Texas State could luck into an at-large bowl invitation, since it appears there will be some Lone Star State bowl games needing an at-large team.

1. Go Daddy Bowl: Georgia Southern (vs. Ohio U)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (vs. San Diego St.)
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (vs. Western Michigan)
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Arkansas St. * (vs. U A B)
5. Texas Bowl: Texas St. * (vs. Texas A&M)

Independents
For Notre Dame, please see the Atlantic Coast Conference

The Army artillery has come up a mile short of its target this year, so the Black Knights will once again fail to achieve bowl eligibility. The Navy’s ship is taking on water quickly and appears headed to the bottom of the ocean floor. Look for the Armed Forces and Poinsettia Bowls to look elsewhere.

BYU is sinking in quicksand since the loss of their star quarterback, but the Cougars already had enough wins in the bank to see bowl eligibility.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (vs. Cincinnati)

Power 5 Conferences

Atlantic Coast Conference (& Notre Dame)
Florida State has two tiny hurdles left to cross before waltzing into the playoffs. The Seminoles play at Louisville a week from Thursday, and they will more than likely face Duke in the ACC Championship Game. FSU has the best chance of any FBS team of running the table this season.

Notre Dame might lose to USC, but we believe the Fighting Irish still earn a New Year’s Eve/Day bowl bid at 10-2. Clemson will not be so lucky if the Irish end up 10-2, for a 10-2 Tiger team would not get into one of the Big Six bowls.

Duke could repeat as Coastal Division champions, but the Blue Devils still appear to be a two to three touchdown underdog to FSU. Any of the six Coastal teams could finish bowl eligible, and we believe six of the seven will. The bowl representatives hope the one that doesn’t is Miami, but the Hurricanes have the look of a 6-6 team. This week, we select North Carolina to finish 5-7.

1. Rose Bowl: Florida St. (vs. Alabama)
2. Peach Bowl: Notre Dame (vs. East Carolina)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Capital One Bowl ^: Clemson (vs. Mississippi St.)
5. Gator Bowl: Louisville (vs. South Carolina)
6. Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (vs. Tennessee)
7. Sun Bowl: Pittsburgh (vs. Arizona St.)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (vs. Penn St.)
9. Military Bowl: Virginia (vs. Temple)
10. Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech (vs. Florida Atlantic *)
11. Quick Lane Bowl: North Carolina St. (vs. Maryland)
12. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (vs. Central Florida

^: If a Big Ten team plays in the Orange Bowl as the SEC opponent, the Capital One Bowl can issue a bid to an ACC Team

Big Ten Conference
Michigan State and Ohio State are headed to a major clash in East Lansing on November 8, and the winner can back into a playoff spot if they win out and finish 12-1. Nebraska has a minor chance to sneak in if the Cornhuskers run the table and beat the Michigan State-Ohio State winner in the conference title game.

We have removed one team from the total here this week, as we now believe that Northwestern could lose to Purdue, and neither team will win six games. Indiana and Illinois appear to have too much left to do to get to six wins. Michigan is not even among the possibilities.

1. Sugar Bowl: Ohio St. (vs. Ole Miss)
2. Orange Bowl: Michigan St. (vs. Georgia)
3. Outback Bowl: Nebraska (vs. Auburn)
4. Holiday Bowl: Wisconsin (vs. Arizona)
5. Music City Bowl: Minnesota (vs. L S U)
6. San Francisco Bowl: Iowa (vs. U C L A)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State (vs. Boston College)
8. Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (vs. North Carolina St.)
9. Armed Forces Bowl: Rutgers (vs. Houston)

Big 12 Conference
That hissing sound you heard the last two weeks was the sound of the Big 12 Conference balloon losing all its playoff air. TCU fell out of the picture when they blew a 21-point lead to Baylor. Then Baylor and Oklahoma fell out of the race with bad losses last week.

Kansas State could sneak into the picture if the Wildcats run the table, beating TCU and Baylor, both on the road. We don’t see that happening.

Because Texas and Texas Tech do not have favorable remaining schedules and appear to be headed to losing seasons, the Big 12 will only have six bowl eligible teams, and even though none will make the playoffs, two should earn Big Six bowl bids. That will leave two bowls Texas and Armed Forces) looking for at-large invitees.

1. Fiesta Bowl: T C U (vs. U S C)
2. Cotton Bowl: Baylor (vs. Oregon)
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma (vs. Washington)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. (vs. Duke)
5. Liberty Bowl: West Virginia (vs. Missouri)
6. Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma St. (vs. Utah)

Pac-12 Conference
It is going to be very tough for a Pac-12 team to make the playoffs this year. Oregon could do so by running the table, but the Ducks seem to have a defensive breakdown once a month, and we see one more loss in their future. Utah and Arizona still have just one loss, but we see multiple losses ahead for both.

USC may be the best team on the coast, but the Trojans have two losses and appear to have no chance to earn a spot in the playoffs. UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, and Oregon State should join the others mentioned in a bowl. One will have to receive an at-large invitation, but there will be one available for sure.

1. Fiesta Bowl: U S C (vs. T C U)
2. Cotton Bowl: Oregon (vs. Baylor)
3. Alamo Bowl: Washington (vs. Oklahoma)
4. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (vs. Wisconsin)
5. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (vs. Iowa)
6. Sun Bowl: Arizona St. (vs. Pittsburgh)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford (vs. Boise St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah (vs. Oklahoma St.)
9. Poinsettia Bowl: Oregon St. * (vs. Colorado St.)

Southeastern Conference
The league everybody else likes to hate can seriously stake a claim to having the top four teams in the nation and possibly top five teams. We do not believe Florida State could finish in the top half of the West Division standings this year.

In fact, our Mean ratings this week have Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, and Mississippi State as the top four teams. The SEC will get no more than two teams into the playoffs, because the rest of the FBS leagues would pick up their marbles and go home if more than two make it.

Our ratings show Ole Miss to be the hands-down best team in the nation at the present time, and Alabama is right there just behind. Auburn lost at Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs are still undefeated, but our ratings believe the Maroon and White will lose to both Alabama and Ole Miss.

Georgia is the wildcard in the hunt, as the Bulldogs need only beat Auburn to avoid another loss. At 7-1/11-1, UGA is one win away from a playoff spot.

Last week, Kentucky showed signs of a possible upcoming swoon, where the Wildcats could have to claw to that sixth win. Tennessee will be looking at a November where the Vols must go 3-1, but the schedule gives the Orange and White four winnable November games.

South Carolina and Missouri have shown numerous weaknesses but both teams will become bowl eligible. LSU and Texas A&M will join this group in the lower pecking order.

Florida appears to be headed to a 5-6 season, and the cancelled game with Idaho will not be made up, so Will Muschamp will go out with consecutive losing seasons in Gainesville, and the Gators will look hard at trying to lure Art Briles away from Baylor. And, it will mean that there will be one bowl (Independence) available to another team as an at-large selection.

1. Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss (vs. Ohio St.)
2. Rose Bowl: Alabama (vs. Florida St.)
3. Orange Bowl: Georgia (vs. Michigan St.)
4. Capital One Bowl: Mississippi St. (vs. Clemson)
5. Outback Bowl: Auburn (vs. Nebraska)
6. Gator Bowl: South Carolina (vs. Louisville)
7. Music City Bowl: L S U (vs. Minnesota)
8. Liberty Bowl: Missouri (vs. West Virginia)
9. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (vs. Texas St. *)
10. Belk Bowl: Tennessee (vs. Virginia Tech)
11. Birmingham Bowl: Kentucky (vs. Memphis)

Teams that should be bowl eligible but not invited to bowls: Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Fresno St., and Louisiana-Monroe

October 15, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowls Coverage

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , — piratings @ 5:09 am

Note: You can find our award-winning ratings at http://www.piratings.webs.com

You can find numerous bowl projection sights on the Internet, so we see no reason to just put forth our projections like 100 others. The PiRate Ratings have always been a little different than other ratings. Our computer ratings use a system other than the actual scores of the games, using unique statistical data to come up with a truer score of every game before adjusting the ratings. Likewise, our bowl projections do not use the same criteria as other projectors.

We try to use our ratings to look forward and determine what the standings will look like on December 7. Then, we try to surmise the “political” nature of the bowls. For instance, you know that the ACC bowls would prefer to invite anybody other than Miami if they have a chance. When you cannot put 5,000 fans in your stadium for a home game against Cincinnati, another likely bowl team, it is not going to give a bowl like the Sun Bowl much faith that the Hurricanes will bring 20,000 fans to El Paso. Likewise, a 10-2 Auburn team is going to garner one of the big Bowl games not in the playoffs (Fiesta, Orange, Peach, or Cotton this year) before a 10-2 Washington team.

What we will do here is cover the bowls by conference. If you want to see the projections like 100 other sites, go to our website at the link below.

http://piratings.webs.com/bowlprojections.htm

Here is where we see the conferences and bowl possibilities for October 15, 2014.

Note: An Asterisk (*) means this is an at-large selection because the conference cannot meet its bowl tie-in obligation due to lack of bowl eligible team.

Non Big 5 Conferences

American Athletic Conference
East Carolina is the leader in the pack to be the guaranteed Big Bowl invitee from a non Big 5 automatic qualifying conference. The four big bowls not involved in the playoffs this year are the Fiesta, Orange, Peach, and Cotton. It will not be easy, since there are tough road games left at Temple and Cincinnati, as well as a Thursday, December 4 game at home against Central Florida, who could also be undefeated in conference play when they face off in Greenville.

Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Temple should all gain bowl eligibility. If ECU earns the big bowl invitation, there will be six spots available. We believe there will be six bowl eligible teams, so if the Pirates do not earn this spot, one AAC team will not be guaranteed a bowl.

1. Peach Bowl: East Carolina (vs. Notre Dame)
2. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (vs. Kentucky)
3. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (vs. Miami)
4. Miami Beach Bowl: Houston (vs. B Y U)
5. Military Bowl: Temple (vs. Virginia)
6. Armed Forces Bowl: Cincinnati (vs. Northwestern *)

Conference USA
CUSA allows its champion to select its bowl destination from among the five tie-ins. It is a safe bet that the champion will choose either the Hawaii or Bahamas Bowl.

Marshall is undefeated at 6-0, and the Thundering Herd has a legitimate path to running the table and hoping that East Carolina will fall and drop below them in the rankings. However, we PiRates are a little different. At the moment, we are not even picking Marshall to win the division. A September 20 win at Akron has been their only impressive victory to date. We believe MU will stumble in a November 22 game at UAB, and the surprising Blazers will sneak through as division winners. UAB took current number one Mississippi State deep into the game before losing and has just one semi-tough conference road game yet to play.

The West Division looks like Louisiana Tech’s for the taking. The Bulldogs should take advantage of North Texas and UTSA having subpar seasons and outlast Rice for the division flag.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Louisiana Tech (vs. Toledo)
2. Hawaii Bowl: Marshall (vs. Air Force)
3. Boca Raton Bowl: U A B (vs. Northern Illinois)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Western Kentucky (vs. Utah St.)
5. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Rice (vs. Utah *)

Independents
We do not include Notre Dame in the Independents section, since they caucus with the ACC. The other three Indies all have bowl tie-ins, but only BYU figure to be bowl eligible, as neither Army nor Navy show promise to get to six wins.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (vs. Houston)

Mid-American
This is one year where the MAC will not have a highly-ranked team. Northern Illinois has already lost twice, and Toledo has fallen thrice in nonconference play. Still, five teams will receive invitations, and seven should be bowl eligible with a slim possibility that a sixth team earns an at-large spot.

Akron has the most impressive non-league win at Pittsburgh, but the Zips have lost to Penn State and Marshall.

The West should be decided this weekend when Central Michigan travels to Toledo.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (vs. Louisiana Tech)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (vs. UAB)
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron (vs. San Diego St.)
4. Camellia Bowl: Bowling Green (vs. South Alabama)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Central Michigan (vs. Georgia Southern)

Mountain West
It has been five seasons since Boise State played in a big bowl. It will be six, as the Broncos have two losses this year. The Broncos only chance is to run the table and hope both Marshall and East Carolina stub their toes. Boise finishes the regular season at home against Utah State, and the winner of that game should take the Mountain Division title, although Colorado State is still in the mix.

In the West Division, we believe 5-3 will get a team a share of the division flag, and we believe three teams will finish with that mark. San Diego State, Nevada, and Fresno State appear to be headed toward a three-way tie, but FSU will have just one non-league victory, while the other two will have two and seven total wins.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (vs. Stanford)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. (vs. Arizona St. *)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Air Force (vs. Marshall)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Utah St. (vs. Western Kentucky)
5. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
6. Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego St. (vs. Akron)

Sunbelt
This may be the weakest overall FBS conference, and many of its former better members have fled to Conference USA, but the SBC should produce six bowl eligible teams, and five should end up in bowls.

Georgia Southern may be in its first year as an official FBS member, but the Eagles look to be the top team in the league. They do not play Louisiana-Lafayette, and the only tough conference opponent left on their schedule is a home finale against Louisiana-Monroe.

Arkansas State continues to play well with yet another first-year coach, and we expect the Red Wolves to play in a bowl for the fourth consecutive season.

Louisiana-Lafayette did not look particularly strong in September, but losses to Ole Miss and Boise State look a little different in October. The blowout win at Texas State last night showed that the Ragin’ Cajuns are the top competitor to Georgia Southern. A road game at Louisiana-Monroe could be the deciding factor.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Georgia Southern (vs. Central Michigan)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (vs. Nevada)
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (vs. Bowling Green)
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Louisiana-Monroe * (vs. Rice)
5. Texas Bowl: Arkansas St. * (vs. Florida)

Big Five Conferences

Atlantic Coast
We might be able to see into the near future when it comes to the schedule, but we cannot do the same for the police blotter. Therefore, until there is news that might affect the outcome of this conference, we will assume that no Heisman Trophy quarterbacks will miss any games.

With Jameis Winston under center, Florida State has a clear path to 13-0 and a spot in the playoffs. Without Winston, games at Louisville and at home with Virginia and Boston College are going to be losable. Of course, a home game this weekend against Notre Dame could be tough with Winston at QB. Clemson, Louisville, and Boston College will join the Seminoles in bowls, while North Carolina State and Syracuse appear to be just a little short in talent.

The Coastal Division can be taken once again with a 6-2 conference record, and after last week, we believe Duke is capable of being that team once again. Six of the seven Coastal representatives should be bowl eligible.

Notre Dame is included in the ACC when bowl bids are handed out, and the Fighting Irish are looking at 10-2, 11-1, or even 12-0. We believe at 10-2, the Irish will jump over many other teams to get a Big Bowl bid.

1. Playoff (Sugar Bowl): Florida St. (vs. Baylor)
2. Peach Bowl: Notre Dame (vs. East Carolina)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Gator Bowl: Clemson (vs. Texas A&M)
5. Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (vs. South Carolina)
6. Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech (vs. Oregon St.)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (vs. Rutgers)
8. Military Bowl: Virginia (vs. Temple)
9. Independence Bowl: Pittsburgh (vs. Missouri)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Louisville (vs. Maryland)
11. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (vs. Central Florida)

Big Ten
The Big Ten was given up for dead by October 4 when by then Ohio State had lost to Virginia Tech, Michigan State had lost to Oregon, Nebraska had lost to Michigan State, and Wisconsin had lost twice. However, we are not ready to give up on this league. Ohio State and Michigan State face off in East Lansing on November 8, and the winner of that game should win out to end the regular season at 12-1. With the SEC cannibalizing itself and with the Pac-12 looking to be the odd conference out, a 12-1 Big Ten champion should sneak into the playoff.

With 14 members and nine bowls, we believe 10 league teams will be bowl eligible. This will not be a problem, because we believe that the Big Ten will place one team in the playoffs and one team in a Big Bowl, allowing all 10 bowl eligible teams to play in a bowl.

1. Playoff (Rose Bowl): Ohio St. (vs. Ole Miss)
2. Orange Bowl: Michigan St. (vs. Auburn)
3. Capital One Bowl: Iowa (vs. Alabama)
4. Outback Bowl: Wisconsin (vs. Georgia)
5. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (vs. Arizona)
6. Music City Bowl: Minnesota (vs. Tennessee)
7. San Francisco Bowl: Penn St. (vs. UCLA)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (vs. Boston College)
9. Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (vs. Louisville)
10. Armed Forces Bowl: Northwestern (vs. Cincinnati)

Big 12
The possibility is there for Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU finishing 8-1/11-1. Baylor faces Oklahoma in Norman on November 8. For now, we are going to take the Bears all the way to the finish line, but that is not a solid choice.

Even if both Oklahoma and TCU lose a second game, it is close to a lock that a second Big 12 team will get one of the other four Big Bowl games. Because both Texas and Texas Tech look like they are headed to losing records, and Kansas and Iowa State are virtual locks to do the same, there will be just six bowl eligible teams here. Figuring that the league will send a second team to one of the Big Bowls, there will be six teams for eight spots, meaning the Texas and Heart of Dallas Bowls will have to find at-large invitees.

1. Playoff (Sugar Bowl): Baylor (vs. Florida St.)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (vs. U S C)
3. Alamo Bowl: T C U (vs. Washington)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. (vs. Duke)
5. Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma St. (vs. LSU)
6. Cactus Bowl: West Virginia (vs. Utah)

Pac-12
Arizona’s loss to USC puts the Pac-12 in a position where no team will finish 12-1, as the league is too balanced this year. USC’s loss at Boston College will prevent the Trojans from getting in. Oregon still has tough road games against Utah and Oregon State, and we believe the Ducks will drop one of these games. Washington has just one loss, but the Huskies still face Oregon at Autzen Stadium. We believe of the four Big 5 conferences, this league will be the odd man out in the playoffs in year one.

Nine teams should become bowl eligible, and the Pac-12 only receives seven guaranteed bowl bids. We believe the Pac-12 will place two teams in the Big Bowls of December 31/January 1. While losing out in the playoff chase, the conference will definitely trump all others and supply two at-large bowl bids and still come up one team short in their allotments.

1. Fiesta Bowl: U S C (vs. Oklahoma)
2. Cotton Bowl: Oregon (vs. Mississippi St.)
3. Alamo Bowl: Washington (vs. TCU)
4. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (vs. Nebraska)
5. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (vs. Penn St.)
6. Sun Bowl: Oregon St. (vs. Georgia Tech)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford (vs. Boise St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah (vs. West Virginia)
9. Poinsettia Bowl: Arizona St. * (vs. Colorado St.)

Southeastern
It has been repeated ad nauseum that the SEC West could supply all four playoff teams this year. Mississippi State and Ole Miss currently rank one and three nationally, and these two undefeated teams could both still lose twice! We don’t see that happening, as we believe one team will run the table and be the top-seeded school in the Playoff.

Alabama, the consensus choice to be the SEC’s first playoff representative has one loss and is still in the hunt, but we don’t see the Crimson Tide running the table from here. ‘Bama faces Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn in the weeks to come, and a second and possible third loss await the boys from Tuscaloosa.

The East is considerably weaker again, and Georgia benefits here. There is a chance the Bulldogs can run the table, if their defense can continue to play like it did at Missouri last week. There is also a chance UGA could lose at Arkansas this week and prove that the bottom team in the West is still better than the top team in the East.

Kentucky is one missed referee’s call from being 6-0, but we are not yet ready to buy in on the Wildcats being a Top 10 team. The Blue Mist is not even ranked at 5-1, so Coach Mark Stoops’ troops will have to earn respect by defeating a ranked team. UK gets that opportunity, because three of their next four games come against LSU, Mississippi State, and Georgia. Road contests against Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisville are not sure things, so there is still a remote possibility that Kentucky can drop six games in a row to finish out of the bowl picture. We do not see that happening.

Missouri and Tennessee still need to complete some unfinished business. Neither team has shown a propensity for playing tough on both sides of the ball in the same game. Missouri has four winnable games left and should get to six wins. Tennessee will need one upset in their final six. Ole Miss and Alabama look like sure losses, so the Vols will have to take care of South Carolina or Kentucky and defeat both Missouri and Vanderbilt to become bowl eligible. We are picking the orange and white to get that sixth win for now.

1. Playoff (Rose Bowl): Ole Miss (vs. Ohio St.)
2. Orange Bowl: Auburn (vs. Michigan St.)
3. Cotton Bowl: Mississippi St. (vs. Oregon)
4. Capital One Bowl: Alabama (vs. Iowa)
5. Outback Bowl: Georgia (vs. Wisconsin)
6. Gator Bowl: Texas A&M (vs. Clemson)
7. Music City Bowl: Tennessee (vs. Minnesota)
8. Liberty Bowl: L S U (vs. Oklahoma St.)
9. Texas Bowl: Florida (vs. Arkansas St. *)
10. Belk Bowl: South Carolina (vs. Virginia Tech)
11. Birmingham Bowl: Kentucky (vs. Memphis)
12. Independence Bowl: Missouri (vs. Pittsburgh)

The following six teams figure to be bowl eligible but jilted this season: Buffalo, Florida International, Fresno St., Middle Tennessee, Texas St., and Western Michigan

August 26, 2014

Special Bulletin!

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:36 am

Due to issues beyond our control, namely WordPress choosing to make it difficult to paste tabular data from Microsoft Excel, the PiRate Ratings will no longer publish their weekly ratings to this site.

 

Please visit our webpage at:  http://www.piratings.webs.com

 

June 1, 2014

PiRate College and Pro Football Coverage for 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — piratings @ 6:02 am

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings.  We have enjoyed our little respite from rating college and pro football and NCAA basketball, and we are ready to start up again for the 2014-15 season.

Due to heavy workloads, we will streamline our coverage some this year.  The August previews will basically just be statistical looks at the preseason without long-winded previews.

During the regular season, we will issue ratings and other tidbits, but we will no longer select games against the spread, since we do not have the 20-30 hours a week it takes to find our selections.

Look for our first conference reviews to run around Saturday, August 16, and our first NFL review to run around Wednesday, August 27.

We are considering adding a new twist this year.  Since we are members of both the Massey Comparison Rankings and The Prediction Tracker (links available to the side), we might create a new rating based on the most successful computer ratings, as sort of the Dow Jones Industrials of football ratings.

 

 

 

April 6, 2014

PiRate Ratings Preview of NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

This has been one of the most interesting NCAA Tournaments in many years.  Never have both title game participants both enter the game with eight or more losses.  Kentucky with 10 and Connecticut with 8 make for the most total losses by title contenders at 18.  The same goes for highest combined seeds (UK-8/UConn-7).  Both teams failed to play in the NCAA Tournament at all last year, although Connecticut was ineligible due to academic progress issues.

 

The most interesting part of this equation for us involves the Huskies.  Connecticut has become the first team ever to make the Championship Game with a negative R+T rating.  R+T is a statistic that we invented.  It is similar to park-adjusted On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage in baseball.  It is a one-for-one adjustment to the number of extra scoring opportunities a team should expect to obtain in a game due to rebounds and turnovers, but with a higher emphasis on offensive rebounds and steals, which most frequently lead to easy scoring chances.

 

These schools squared off in the Final Four in 2011, which just so happened to be played in the Lone Star State.  Connecticut edged Kentucky by one point at Reliant Stadium in Houston.  No current Kentucky player was on the 2011 roster, while three Husky players saw action in that game.

 

Here is our look at the starting lineups.

 

Point Guard:

Kentucky—Andrew Harrison   #5        6-6, 215 Fr.

Connecticut—Shabazz Napier #13      6-1, 180 Sr.

Shooting Guard:

Kentucky—Aaron Harrison   #2        6-6, 218 Fr.

Connecticut—Ryan Boatright  #11      6-0, 168 Jr.

Small Forward:

Kentucky—James Young  #1        6-6, 215 Fr.

Connecticut—Niels Giffey #5        6-7, 205 Sr.

 

Power Forward:

Kentucky—Julius Randle    #30      6-9, 250 Fr.

Connecticut—DeAndre Daniels  #2    6-9, 195 Jr.

 

Center:

Kentucky—Dakari Johnson  #44      7-0, 265 Fr.

Connecticut—Phillip Nolan   #0        6-10, 212 So.

 

Reserves

Kentucky—Alex Poythress    #22      6-8, 239 So.

Kentucky—Marcus Lee     #00      6-9, 215 Fr.

Kentucky—Jarrod Polson  #3        6-2, 182 Sr.

Kentucky-Dominique Hawkins  #25      6-0, 193 Fr.

 

Connecticut—Lasan Kromah #20      6-6, 201 Jr.

Connecticut—Amida Brimah #35      7-0, 217 Fr.

Connecticut—Tyler Olander   #10      6-10, 230 Sr.

Connecticut—Terrence Samuel  #3        6-4, 190 Fr.

 

Here is our special statistical look at the game.

 

Stat Kentucky Connecticut
FG 986 949
FG-Att 2168 2109
3-Pt 198 281
Effective FG% 50.0 51.7
Def FG 911 860
Def FG-Att 2218 2195
Def 3-pt 216 236
Def Effective FG% 45.9 44.6
Offensive Reb 564 379
Opp. Def. Reb 768 863
Reb Rate 42.3 30.5
Opp. Off. Reb 429 482
Defensive Reb 1011 983
Opp. Reb Rate 29.8 32.9
Turnovers 468 447
Free Throw Attempts 1122 819
Turnover Rate 14.8 15.2
Opp. Turnovers 418 505
Opp. FT-Attempts 826 777
Opp. Turnover Rate 13.8 16.5
Free Throws Made 768 634
Free Throw Rate 29.5 24.7
Opp. FT-Made 567 519
Opp. FT Rate 21.8 20.1
Possessions/Game 66.8 65.8
R + T Rating 14.3 -1.1
Road/Neutral W-L 13-8 16-5
Strength of Schedule .5825 .5735
FG% Margin Score 3.54 6.13
Reb Rate Score 3.12 -0.59
TO Margin Score -0.37 0.49
FT Rate Score 1.27 0.77
PiRate Criteria Score 7.57 6.80
Predicted Score 69 67

 

April 4, 2014

PiRate Ratings Final Four Criteria Preview

We only made it to North Texas with one of our Final Four participants, and we did not pick Florida to win the National Championship, so this year is a bust. Nevertheless, we will go ahead and preview the remaining games.

Overall, we are 43-17 (72%) in the prediction of tournament games to this point.

Here is our preview of the National Semifinal round.

Time (ET) Team vs. Team
6:09 PM #1 Florida (36-2) vs. #7 Connecticut (30-8)
8:49 PM #2 Wisconsin (30-7) vs. #8 Kentucky (28-10)

Florida vs. Connecticut–Criteria Components
Strength of Schedule: Tie
Field Goal % Margin: Florida by 0.7
Rebound Margin: Florida by 13.6
Turnover Margin: Florida by 2.3
Steal Margin: Florida by 0.1
R+T Rating: Florida by 12.4

PiRate Criteria: Florida by 7 criteria points
Estimated Spread: Florida by 17
Predicted Score: Florida 75 Connecticut 58

Kentucky vs. Wisconsin—Criteria Components
Strength of Schedule: Wisconsin by 0.9
Field Goal % Margin: Wisconsin by 2.0
Rebound Margin: Kentucky by 11.5
Turnover Margin: Wisconsin by 3.4
Steal Margin: Wisconsin by 0.1
R+T Rating: Kentucky by 13.2

PiRate Criteria: Kentucky by 2 criteria points
Estimated Spread: Kentucky by 4
Predicted Score: Kentucky 71 Wisconsin 67

 

March 29, 2014

PiRate Ratings Elite 8 Preview–March 29-30, 2014

Here are the matchups for The Elite 8 games with our criteria comparisons. Remember, the criteria spread is not the predicted spread for each game. We have commenced with adding a predicted score from the interpretation of the criteria spread.

The four Elite 8 games are not going to be as exciting as a whole as the Sweet 16 games were, but there are still a couple of really good ones in our opinion. We believe all four games are close to tossups, which means the TV viewer should have one fantastic night of entertainment.

Elite 8 Schedule

SATURDAY
6:09 PM EDT on TBS
South Region (MEMPHIS)—#1 Florida vs. #11 Dayton
Florida has significant advantages almost across the board, and this game looks like a mismatch for the top-seeded Gators. The FG% margins tilts strongly in UF’s favor, as well as the turnover margin difference. Rebounding gives a tiny edge to the Gators, and the R+T rating is basically a wash. Dayton would have to shoot lights out or Florida would have to be ice cold for this game to be close

PiRate Criteria: Florida by 7      Predicted Score: Florida 71 Dayton 51

8:49 PM EDT on TBS
West Region (ANAHEIM)—#1 Arizona vs. #2 Wisconsin
Arizona has considerable advantages over the Badgers, but not as much as Florida’s advantages over Dayton. The Wildcats’ biggest advantage is in the R+T rating, where our formula states that ‘Zona will get nine extra scoring opportunities. The important note here as that we consider scoring opportunities to be different than possessions. By scoring opportunities, we refer to the high-percentage opportunity from offensive rebounds and steals where the offense has a considerable advantage over the defense.

Arizona also owns slight criteria advantages in FG% margin and rebounding, while turnover margin is a wash. The Badgers get a little advantage for schedule strength, but not enough to turn the tide in their favor.

PiRate Criteria: Arizona by 2      Predicted Score: Arizona 75 Wisconsin 68

SUNDAY
2:20 PM EDT on CBS
East Region (NEW YORK CITY)—#4 Michigan St. vs. #7 Connecticut
Michigan State holds a decisive R+T rating in this game, and we figure the Spartans will get an extra eight scoring opportunities. MSU has a very slight advantage in FG% margin and a stronger rebounding margin advantage, while turnover margin is about even. Throw in a slight Spartan advantage in strength of schedule, and it adds up to Sparty cutting down the nets at Madison Square Garden. Even a mild home court advantage does not tilt the game in UConn’s favor.

PiRate Criteria: Michigan St. by 3      Predicted Score: Michigan St. 68 Connecticut 59

5:05 PM EDT on CBS
Midwest Region (INDIANAPOLIS)—#2 Michigan vs. #8 Kentucky
This is the biggest contrast game of the Elite 8, and it should be the most exciting of the four games. Michigan owns the FG% margin advantage, as well as the turnover margin advantage. In fact, Kentucky is the only team left with an effective FG% less than 50% and the only team with a negative turnover margin. These are usually indications that a team will lose in this round.

However, Michigan is the only team left in the field with a negative rebounding margin, while Kentucky has the best rebounding margin of the eight remaining teams. Kentucky’s unbelievable 14 extra scoring opportunities forecasted in this game is an eye-popping statistic reminiscent of the old UCLA teams during the Wooden dynasty, or in other words, an insurmountable advantage.

Michigan has a slight strength of schedule advantage in this game. Now, add one more little thing. Unlike most of the other victors in the tournament as a whole, Michigan has continued to maintain and even surpass their three-point shooting acumen. They have actually exceeded their regular season FG% criteria in the postseason. This is reminiscent of Butler during their back-to-back trips to the Championship Game. Could Michigan repeat this? That’s why this game is extremely close, and it should be the best of the weekend.

PiRate Criteria: Tie (to 2 decimals)      Predicted Score: Michigan 85 Kentucky 84 2ot

March 27, 2014

PiRate Ratings Sweet 16 Preview for Friday, March 28, 2014

Here are the matchups for Friday’s Sweet 16 games with our criteria comparisons. Remember, the criteria spread is not the predicted spread for each game. We have commenced with adding a predicted score from the interpretation of the criteria spread.

The four games on Friday constitute the best four Sweet 16 games in one night in several years. We believe all four games are close to tossups, which means the TV viewer should have one fantastic night of entertainment.

Sweet 16 Friday Schedule

7:15 PM EDT on CBS
Midwest Region—Michigan vs. Tennessee
Take your pick. Michigan has slight edges in field goal margin and turnover margin, but Tennessee has a decided edge on the glass. The strength of schedule makes the Wolverines an ever so slight favorite

PiRate Criteria: Michigan by less than 1    Predicted Score: Michigan 72  Tennessee 70

7:27 PM EDT on TBS
East Region—Connecticut vs. Iowa St.
The teams are dead even in shooting margin. Neither can rebound the ball all that well, so this is a push as well. Turnover margin is no different, and the R+T ratings are exceptionally low for Sweet 16 teams. Rarely does a team with a low R+T make the Elite 8, but one must this year, and it will be the winner of this game.

PiRate Criteria: Iowa St. by less than 1   Predicted Score: Iowa St. 67  Connecticut 66

Approx. 9:45 PM EDT on CBS
Midwest Region—Louisville vs. Kentucky
Louisville has the best field goal margin ratings of any team remaining in the tournament, while Kentucky ranks near the bottom of Sweet 16 teams. The Wildcats are without a doubt the best rebounding team left in the tournament, but Louisville has the best turnover margin in the remaining field. Kentucky has considerably better R+T and schedule strength, which brings us back to square one—almost.

PiRate Criteria: Louisville by 1 Predicted Score: Louisville 74  Kentucky 71

Approx. 9:57 PM EDT on TBS
East Region—Virginia vs. Michigan St.
When you think of a Tom Izzo team, rebounding prowess immediately comes to mind. However, in this game, Virginia actually holds a slight edge. Michigan St., never the finesse team, actually has better shooting margin ratings than the Cavaliers. This game will be decided in the turnover margin, and UVA has the slight edge there.

PiRate Criteria: Virginia by 1 Predicted Score: Virginia 58  Michigan St. 56

PiRate Ratings–Sweet 16 Preview for Thursday, March 27, 2014

Here are the matchups for Thursday’s Sweet 16 games with our criteria comparisons. Remember, the criteria spread is not the predicted spread for each game. We have commenced with adding a predicted score from the interpretation of the criteria spread.
Sweet 16 Thursday Schedule

7:15 PM EDT on CBS
South Region—Stanford vs. Dayton

Stanford will have a decided advantage on the boards, while almost all other criteria are about equal. Look for a close game, but the Cardinal will take advantage of a few extra opportunities in second chance points to pull it out in the end.

PiRate Criteria: Stanford by 1 Predicted Score: Stanford 72 Dayton 68

7:47 PM EDT on TBS
West Region—Wisconsin vs. Baylor

Baylor has the rebounding advantage, but Wisconsin has the turnover margin advantage. Shooting is about equal, but Wisconsin’s range of shooting is a little better. Baylor has the R+T advantage, so this game is a real tossup. The criteria score shows it to be a possible overtime game.

PiRate Criteria: Wisconsin by less than 1 Predicted Score: Wisconsin 64 Baylor 63

Approx. 9:30 PM EDT on CBS
South Region—Florida vs. U C L A

Florida has slightly superior numbers in shooting, defense, and rebounding, while UCLA has a little turnover margin advantage. The Gators have the R+T advantage as well, and this game looks to be the biggest mismatch of the night, even though it may not show that in the final score.

PiRate Criteria: Florida by 4 Predicted Score: Florida 69 UCLA 58

Approx. 10:17 PM EDT on TBS
West Region—Arizona vs. San Diego St.

This is an excellent contrast game. Arizona is a lot more physical, but San Diego St. is quite a bit quicker. If the game becomes a volleyball match inside, the Wildcats will be too strong for the Aztecs; but, if the game becomes a quicker-pace, running game, SDSU has the talent to actually run Arizona off the floor. The criteria tilt in favor of the number one seed advancing, and we will go with Arizona as the individual game pick tonight, but remember that we actually selected San Diego St. to be the surprise Final Four team in our original bracket selection.

PiRate Criteria: Arizona by 2 Predicted Score: Arizona 75 San Diego St. 70

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