The Pi-Rate Ratings

January 19, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 20-21, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — piratings @ 10:20 am

PiRate Rating Spreads for This Weekend

Games between teams from multiple bid conferences only

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut Villanova -18.4
Houston Wichita St. -1.9
Cincinnati East Carolina 30.0
South Florida Central Florida -13.6
SMU Tulane 13.1
Tulsa Memphis 4.9
Virginia Tech Florida St. 1.1
North Carolina Georgia Tech 18.0
Duke Pittsburgh 27.9
Clemson Notre Dame 4.8
Oklahoma St. Oklahoma -3.3
West Virginia Texas 8.5
Iowa St. Texas Tech -9.3
Kansas St. TCU 0.5
Kansas Baylor 11.1
Georgetown St. John’s 0.3
DePaul Butler -4.6
Seton Hall Xavier 0.4
Providence Creighton -3.1
Iowa Purdue -13.0
Minnesota Ohio St. -2.3
Northwestern Penn St. 0.9
Air Force Fresno St. -8.8
Colorado St. UNLV -5.7
New Mexico San Diego St. -2.8
Utah St. Wyoming 2.7
Nevada Boise St. 7.3
Stanford Arizona -6.4
Colorado Washington 4.5
Oregon St. USC -3.3
Oregon UCLA 4.1
California Arizona St. -13.3
Vanderbilt LSU -0.1
Arkansas Ole Miss 9.9
Texas A&M Missouri 3.7
Auburn Georgia 9.4
South Carolina Tennessee -3.7
Kentucky Florida 2.9
Alabama Mississippi St. 6.6
Santa Clara Gonzaga -22.3
BYU San Diego 9.5
Loyola Marymount Portland 6.6
Pacific Saint Mary’s -11.5
San Francisco Pepperdine 12.8
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
North Carolina St. Miami (Fla.) -1.1
Louisville Boston College 8.8
Wake Forest Virginia -9.3
Michigan Rutgers 12.3
Utah Washington St. 9.3

PiRate Ratings Top 25 For Friday, January 19, 2018

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.9 BIGE
2 Purdue 121.7 BTEN
3 Duke 119.9 ACC
4 Michigan St. 118.6 BTEN
5 Virginia 118.0 ACC
6 Kansas 117.7 B12
7 Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
8 North Carolina 116.6 ACC
9 Cincinnati 116.5 AAC
10 Texas Tech 116.2 B12
11 West Virginia 115.5 B12
12 Wichita St. 114.9 AAC
13 Creighton 114.7 BIGE
14 Xavier 114.5 BIGE
15 Oklahoma 113.5 B12
16 Ohio St. 113.5 BTEN
17 Tennessee 113.5 SEC
18 Arizona 113.3 PAC12
19 Clemson 113.2 ACC
20 TCU 113.0 B12
21 Florida 112.7 SEC
22 Auburn 112.7 SEC
23 Nevada 112.5 MWC
24 Saint Mary’s 112.4 WCC
25 Florida St. 112.2 ACC

Teams Ranked By Conference–Multi-bid Leagues Only

Team PiRate Conf.
Cincinnati 116.5 AAC
Wichita St. 114.9 AAC
SMU 110.9 AAC
Houston 109.5 AAC
UCF 105.2 AAC
Temple 104.4 AAC
Tulsa 101.7 AAC
Tulane 101.3 AAC
Memphis 100.3 AAC
Connecticut 100.0 AAC
East Carolina 90.5 AAC
South Florida 88.6 AAC
Duke 119.9 ACC
Virginia 118.0 ACC
North Carolina 116.6 ACC
Clemson 113.2 ACC
Florida St. 112.2 ACC
Notre Dame 111.9 ACC
Miami FL 111.6 ACC
Louisville 111.2 ACC
Virginia Tech 109.8 ACC
Syracuse 108.3 ACC
North Carolina St. 107.0 ACC
Boston College 105.9 ACC
Wake Forest 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.6 ACC
Pittsburgh 96.0 ACC
Kansas 117.7 B12
Texas Tech 116.2 B12
West Virginia 115.5 B12
Oklahoma 113.5 B12
TCU 113.0 B12
Texas 111.0 B12
Baylor 110.6 B12
Kansas St. 110.0 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.2 B12
Iowa St. 103.9 B12
Villanova 121.9 BIGE
Creighton 114.7 BIGE
Xavier 114.5 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.4 BIGE
Butler 110.4 BIGE
Marquette 110.0 BIGE
Providence 107.6 BIGE
St. John’s 106.2 BIGE
Georgetown 103.0 BIGE
DePaul 102.8 BIGE
Purdue 121.7 BTEN
Michigan St. 118.6 BTEN
Ohio St. 113.5 BTEN
Michigan 111.8 BTEN
Maryland 110.8 BTEN
Penn St. 108.5 BTEN
Minnesota 107.7 BTEN
Northwestern 106.4 BTEN
Nebraska 106.1 BTEN
Illinois 105.4 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.4 BTEN
Indiana 105.2 BTEN
Iowa 105.2 BTEN
Rutgers 103.0 BTEN
Nevada 112.5 MWC
Boise St. 108.7 MWC
San Diego St. 108.3 MWC
UNLV 105.4 MWC
Fresno St. 105.1 MWC
New Mexico 102.0 MWC
Wyoming 101.3 MWC
Utah St. 100.5 MWC
Colorado St. 96.7 MWC
Air Force 93.3 MWC
San Jose St. 89.5 MWC
Arizona 113.3 PAC12
Arizona St. 111.8 PAC12
USC 109.5 PAC12
Oregon 107.9 PAC12
UCLA 107.8 PAC12
Utah 105.6 PAC12
Stanford 103.4 PAC12
Colorado 103.2 PAC12
Oregon St. 102.7 PAC12
Washington 102.2 PAC12
Washington St. 99.8 PAC12
California 95.0 PAC12
Tennessee 113.5 SEC
Florida 112.7 SEC
Auburn 112.7 SEC
Kentucky 111.6 SEC
Arkansas 111.1 SEC
Texas A&M 111.1 SEC
Missouri 110.9 SEC
Alabama 109.0 SEC
LSU 107.6 SEC
Georgia 106.8 SEC
South Carolina 106.3 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.9 SEC
Mississippi 105.2 SEC
Vanderbilt 104.0 SEC
Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
Saint Mary’s 112.4 WCC
BYU 107.6 WCC
San Diego 101.6 WCC
San Francisco 100.2 WCC
Pacific 97.9 WCC
Loyola Marymount 95.0 WCC
Santa Clara 91.9 WCC
Portland 91.4 WCC
Pepperdine 90.4 WCC

This Week’s Features

1.Two Perennial Bridesmaids Have A Chance To Be Wed

The Purdue Boilermakers have won numerous Big Ten titles and appeared in dozens of NCAA Tournaments, but they have never won it all, and they have only been in the Final Four in 1969 and 1980.  When the great Gene Keady appeared on the scene in 1980-81, Purdue was actually coming off a Final Four appearance under former coach Lee Rose, who had guided UNC-Charlotte to the Final Four just three years earlier.

Keady had a bit of a rebuild to do in West Lafayette.  Joe Barry Carroll, the star of that 1980 team moved on to the NBA, and other key contributors had also used up their eligibility.  Keady had re-built Western Kentucky into a power in the Ohio Valley Conference before taking the Purdue job.  His teams were noted for playing excellent half-court offense, being good free throw shooting teams, and playing competent half-court defense.  His Boilermaker teams were strong, but sometimes multiple players lacked quickness.  In the Big Ten, most of the teams were noted for muscle over quickness.  There were exceptions.  Indiana had quickness and muscle and won two titles in the 1980s.  Michigan had quickness and won the title in 1989.

There were years where Purdue wore down their opponents in the Big Ten, and they entered the NCAA Tournament as favorites to make it to the Final Four.  Alas, under Keady, they never made it there, and they only made one Elite 8 appearance, the year they had their most spectacular and athletic player on the team, Glenn Robinson.

If you go back and look at all the Big Ten champion or co-champion Purdue teams in the Keady era, you will find that they lost in the NCAA Tournament to teams with quicker perimeter players that could cut off their outside shooting and get open against Purdue’s slower defenders.

If you look at the Keady coaching tree, you will find a similar path.  The top five branches of that tree, Matt Painter, Kevin Stallings, Cuonzo Martin, Steve Lavin, and Bruce Weber, have had success as coaches doing basically what Keady did at Purdue.  There was a little difference in each of these former assistants, but overall, none has had success past the first weekend in the NCAA Tournament, other than Weber when he inherited an incredible group of talent from Bill Self, when Self went to Kansas, and Lavin when he inherited a top 5 team from Jim Harrick at UCLA.

These coaches fielded teams that played brilliant halfcourt games and won a lot of games inside their conferences, but most of them fell in the Big Dance to teams with quicker perimeter players.

Painter seems to have remedied this issue in recent years.  This Purdue team is unlike any others since Rose coached the Boilermakers and took them to the Final Four.  Unlike past PU teams since 1981, this group of Boilermakers can dominate on the glass, force turnovers and pick up cheap baskets, and they can stuff the defensive perimeter.  This Purdue team is a legitimate force to be reckoned with come tournament time.

For different reasons, the Virginia Cavaliers have been dominant during the Tony Bennett era.  UVA has been to the NCAA Tournament in 5 of the last 6 years, and they have been ranked in the Top 10 every year during the past 5 seasons.  However, the Cavs had a definite weakness for being able to create instant offense.  Sure, Virginia had the best defense in the land for the past half-dozen seasons.  Their Pack Line defense, a refinement of the sinking-floating man to man defense by Bennett’s father Dick at UW-Steven’s Point, has been copied by many other teams, but none have replicated its effectiveness like Bennett.

At UVA in past seasons, the Bennett-coached Cavs have made an art form out of holding teams under 40% shooting and under 55 points per game, while scoring around 65 to 70 points per game.  Each year, the Cavs have lost to a team in the Big Dance that could force Virginia out of its offense and not be able to score consistently enough, and while also having one or two spurts of their own offense against the Pack Line defense.  Teams like Michigan State pulled down enough offensive rebounds and forced UVA to commit a few extra turnovers to defeat their great defense.

This year is different, and Virginia is a legitimate National Title contender.  Bennett has a team that can score offense in spurts of their own.  As CBS’s great commentator Clark Kellogg has stated it so expertly, teams with “spurtability” win in the NCAA Tournament.  By the Sweet 16, all the remaining teams play rather competently and do not falter against great defenses.  They all have rather good defenses and some amount of spectacular offense.  They can rebound and force turnovers while limiting turnovers, which is why our PiRate (R+T Rating)* has isolated the great teams from the pretenders.

This year’s Virginia team has the athletes that can drain the three, drive to the hoop with authority, and hit the mid-level jumper.  They can hold their own on the glass at both ends of the floor, and this may be the best Pack Line team at playing in the passing lanes and generating steals that lead to fast break points.  Just two or three easy cheap baskets by this team is enough to defeat most any other team.

Let’s look at the two losses by Purdue and one loss by Virginia to see how they lost.

Purdue lost to Tennessee and Western Kentucky in back-to-back neutral site games in the Bahamas.  The Vols were the more athletic team that afternoon, especially during a furious comeback in the second half to force overtime.  Tennessee won the hustle stats by +7 in a game where neither team could shoot the ball against the other’s pressure man-to-man defense.  Tennessee has an exceptional inside game with Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, and Kyle Alexander, and on this day, Purdue did not have the muscle inside to slow this trio down (the opposite of the Keady days).

Against Western Kentucky, Purdue looked shell-shocked from the day before, and the WKU perimeter game shot lights out.  The Hilltoppers took an early double-digit lead and kept it into the second half, before Purdue woke up and made a comeback at the end that fell a bit short.  Purdue has not played a game like this since.  The team has come together and looked like a unit equipped to get to the third weekend of the tournament.  They followed up the WKU loss by drilling Arizona, cruising home from a 17-point halftime lead.  They shot lights out, hitting threes and getting easy crips inside, while dominating on the glass.

Virginia lost at West Virginia, and the Cavs handled the Mountaineers’ press that night.  It was WVU’s inside muscle that was the difference in the game, as they used offensive rebounding to get baskets after their initial shots against the great defense failed.  It was the one time this year where UVA played like the previous editions.  While North Carolina also dominated on the glass, Virginia’s defense totally shut the Tar Heels down, holding the reigning NCAA Champions under 30% shooting from the field, while taking advantage of an offensive spurt to put the game away.

2. The 20 Teams On The Bubble

Most of you who follow college basketball can easily come up with the obvious NCAA Tournament teams in any year.  For instance, this year, you know that Purdue, Virginia, Duke, Villanova, and North Carolina are for sure tournament teams.  Factoring out the 23 one-bid leagues, that leaves 9 other leagues to place 45 teams in the tourney.

You could probably pick the top 35 of these 45 remaining bids today.  Sure, there could be some odd things going on where a team that is 9-10 today might close the regular season 11-1 and then win a couple of conference tournament games to get in, and a team that is 15-4 today could go 3-9 from here and then lose in their conference tournament opener to fall to the NIT, but 98% of the teams that look like tournament locks today will still be locks in March.

It’s the final 10 teams that will change daily.  Then, every time a conference tournament produces an upset champion, one of those teams on the Bubble has its bubble burst.  This year, there are two teams from probably one-bid leagues that if they lose their conference tournament in the championship game could still garner an at-large bid–Middle Tennessee State and Rhode Island.

So, let’s look at these last 10 teams that we have in the Tournament if it started today, and let’s look at the top 10 challengers just waiting for a chance to move onto the good side of this bubble.  Reminder: This is not information coming from our Bracket Gurus.  They won’t chime in until February 5 or 6.

Good Bubble–The Last 10 At-large teams according to the PiRates

10. Georgia

9. Houston

8. Boise St.

7. Providence


5. Syracuse

4. Notre Dame

3. Texas

2. Alabama

1. Saint Mary’s/Gonzaga

Georgia is in a precarious situation much like the last qualifier in the Indianapolis 500 as cars try to get in on the last day of qualifying.

Now, here are the top 10 teams currently on the outside looking in.

1.Western Kentucky

2. USC

3. Washington

4. St. Bonaventure

5. Maryland

6. SMU

7. LSU

8. North Carolina St.

9. Baylor

10. Kansas St.

Western Kentucky and St. Bonaventure could elevate Conference USA and the Atlantic 10 conferences into two-bid leagues if they continue to win and finish first or second in their leagues and then make it to their conference championship games.

* R+T Rating

The PiRate R+T Rating formula is: (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T ,

where R = Rebounding Margin; S=Average Steals per game; and T = Turnover Margin.

We add steals into this equation in addition to turnover margin, because steals are more important than all other types of turnovers, as they lead to a lot of fast break points and opponent fouls.

If a team has a rebounding margin of 5, forces 8 steals per game, their opponents only get 4 steals a game, and the team has a positive turnover margin, and this team comes from one of the major conferences, you have a serious championship contender.

Likewise, when you see a 4 or 5-seed in the tournament with a negative rebound margin, that doesn’t garner many steals, and has a slightly positive turnover margin (because they commit 10 and force 11 per game), and this team comes from a major conference, they are prime pickings to be upset by a 12 or 13-seed automatic qualifier from a mid-major conference.

We have used this  R+T rating for the last 17 years to isolate which teams will create extra scoring opportunities to win NCAA Tournament games, and which big teams look to be potential upset losers quickly in the tournament.  A team with a negative R+T rating never makes the Sweet 16 and frequently loses in their first game, even against double-digit seeds.  Teams with R+T ratings over 20 appear all over the past 17 Final Fours.  Last year, North Carolina had the best R+T by a large margin and won the title.


January 15, 2018

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Conference Championship Games: January 21, 2018

All times given are Eastern Standard

Sunday, January 21, 2018

3:05 PM on CBS

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6-0) at New England Patriots (14-3-0)

PiRate: New England by 7.6

Mean: New England by 8.0

Bias: New England by 7.4

Total: 44

Estimated Realistic Score: New England 27  Jacksonville 17 


6:40 PM on Fox

Minnesota Vikings (14-3-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (14-3-0)

PiRate: Minnesota by 2.0

Mean: Minnesota by 1.2

Bias:  Minnesota by 2.1

Total: 37

Estimated Realistic Score: Minnesota 20  Philadelphia 17

January 12, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 13-14, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 1:20 pm

This Weekend’s PiRate Ratings Spreads of Major Conference Games

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Tulane Connecticut 3.8
Temple Memphis 10.2
South Florida Cincinnati -22.9
Tulsa Wichita St. -11.6
Duke Wake Forest 17.3
Florida St. Syracuse 7.6
Pittsburgh Georgia Tech -2.8
Clemson Miami (Fla.) 4.4
Louisville Virginia Tech 3.9
Notre Dame North Carolina 0.5
Kansas Kansas St. 12.0
Oklahoma TCU 5.6
Texas Tech West Virginia 4.8
Iowa St. Baylor -4.1
Oklahoma St. Texas 0.0
Seton Hall Georgetown 11.6
Xavier Creighton 2.2
St. John’s Villanova -12.5
Michigan St. Michigan 10.2
Minnesota Purdue -8.3
Wyoming Colorado St. 8.2
San Jose St. Air Force 0.8
Fresno St. New Mexico 5.9
Nevada Utah St. 14.6
Boise St. San Diego St. 3.3
Arizona Oregon 8.9
Washington St. California 5.6
Arizona St. Oregon St. 15.3
Washington Stanford 4.5
UCLA Colorado 10.5
Ole Miss Florida -5.0
Georgia South Carolina 4.9
Mississippi St. Auburn -3.3
Vanderbilt Kentucky -4.1
Tennessee Texas A&M 4.7
Arkansas Missouri 4.9
LSU Alabama 3.8
Pepperdine Saint Mary’s -17.3
San Francisco Gonzaga -13.5
Santa Clara BYU -10.4
San Diego Loyola Marymount 11.2
Portland Pacific -2.5
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
East Carolina Houston -17.2
Virginia North Carolina St. 14.7
Indiana Northwestern 0.6
Rutgers Ohio St. -6.0
USC Utah 5.6

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.1 BIGE
2 Purdue 120.0 BTEN
3 Duke 119.7 ACC
4 Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
5 Kansas 117.6 B12
6 Virginia 117.5 ACC
7 Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
8 Texas Tech 116.9 B12
9 North Carolina 116.2 ACC
10 Cincinnati 116.0 AAC
11 Wichita St. 116.0 AAC
12 West Virginia 115.6 B12
13 Creighton 115.0 BIGE
14 Oklahoma 114.8 B12
15 Xavier 113.7 BIGE
16 Tennessee 113.2 SEC
17 Arizona 113.2 PAC12
18 Arizona St. 113.2 PAC12
19 Clemson 112.9 ACC
20 Notre Dame 112.7 ACC
21 TCU 112.7 B12
22 Florida 112.7 SEC
23 Florida St. 112.5 ACC
24 Auburn 112.4 SEC
25 Michigan 112.1 BTEN

PiRate Ratings By Major Conference

Team PiRate Conf.
Cincinnati 116.0 AAC
Wichita St. 116.0 AAC
SMU 110.2 AAC
Houston 110.0 AAC
UCF 105.4 AAC
Temple 105.3 AAC
Tulsa 101.4 AAC
Tulane 101.3 AAC
Connecticut 100.5 AAC
Memphis 98.6 AAC
South Florida 90.1 AAC
East Carolina 89.8 AAC
Duke 119.7 ACC
Virginia 117.5 ACC
North Carolina 116.2 ACC
Clemson 112.9 ACC
Notre Dame 112.7 ACC
Florida St. 112.5 ACC
Miami FL 112.0 ACC
Louisville 110.5 ACC
Virginia Tech 110.1 ACC
Syracuse 108.4 ACC
North Carolina St. 106.8 ACC
Wake Forest 105.4 ACC
Boston College 105.4 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.3 ACC
Pittsburgh 96.5 ACC
Kansas 117.6 B12
Texas Tech 116.9 B12
West Virginia 115.6 B12
Oklahoma 114.8 B12
TCU 112.7 B12
Baylor 110.9 B12
Texas 110.8 B12
Kansas St. 108.6 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.8 B12
Iowa St. 103.8 B12
Villanova 121.1 BIGE
Creighton 115.0 BIGE
Xavier 113.7 BIGE
Seton Hall 112.0 BIGE
Butler 110.3 BIGE
Marquette 110.0 BIGE
Providence 106.8 BIGE
St. John’s 105.6 BIGE
Georgetown 103.9 BIGE
DePaul 103.6 BIGE
Purdue 120.0 BTEN
Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
Michigan 112.1 BTEN
Ohio St. 112.1 BTEN
Maryland 110.7 BTEN
Penn St. 109.8 BTEN
Minnesota 108.2 BTEN
Northwestern 107.6 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.9 BTEN
Iowa 105.4 BTEN
Illinois 105.4 BTEN
Indiana 104.7 BTEN
Nebraska 104.7 BTEN
Rutgers 103.1 BTEN
Nevada 111.8 MWC
San Diego St. 109.1 MWC
Boise St. 108.9 MWC
UNLV 105.9 MWC
Fresno St. 104.3 MWC
Wyoming 101.9 MWC
New Mexico 101.4 MWC
Utah St. 100.7 MWC
Colorado St. 96.7 MWC
Air Force 92.1 MWC
San Jose St. 89.9 MWC
Arizona 113.2 PAC12
Arizona St. 113.2 PAC12
UCLA 108.7 PAC12
USC 108.7 PAC12
Oregon 107.8 PAC12
Utah 106.6 PAC12
Washington 102.7 PAC12
Colorado 102.2 PAC12
Stanford 101.7 PAC12
Oregon St. 101.4 PAC12
Washington St. 99.0 PAC12
California 96.4 PAC12
Tennessee 113.2 SEC
Florida 112.7 SEC
Auburn 112.4 SEC
Texas A&M 112.0 SEC
Kentucky 112.0 SEC
Arkansas 111.8 SEC
Missouri 110.4 SEC
LSU 108.6 SEC
Alabama 108.3 SEC
Georgia 107.0 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.6 SEC
South Carolina 105.1 SEC
Vanderbilt 104.9 SEC
Mississippi 104.2 SEC
Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
BYU 106.5 WCC
San Diego 102.6 WCC
San Francisco 100.7 WCC
Pacific 97.0 WCC
Loyola Marymount 94.4 WCC
Santa Clara 92.6 WCC
Portland 91.5 WCC
Pepperdine 91.0 WCC

10 Mid-Major Teams That Have The Talent And Coaching To Make The Sweet 16
(listed alphabetically)

East Tennessee St.
Current Won-Loss Records– 4-0/13-4
Head Coach–Steve Forbes
Family Tree–Bruce Pearl & Gregg Marshall

With the Buccaneers’ win over UNC-Greensboro last night, ETSU remains in a 1st place tie with Furman in the SoCon. ETSU stayed close in their NCAA Tournament game with Florida last year, and this year’s team is a bit better. The Bucs came close to pulling off the upset win at #10 Xavier earlier this season, and they didn’t get embarrassed against Kentucky at Rupp Arena. The Bucs have won 11 of their last 12 with an average scoring margin of 81-64. ETSU plays at Furman next Thursday night.

Middle Tennessee St.
Conference–Conference USA
Current Won-Loss Records–4-0/12-4
Head Coach–Kermit Davis, Jr.
Family Tree–Bob Boyd & Tim Floyd

It should come as no surprise to most basketball fans, especially those in the Big Ten, that the Blue Raiders are a force to be reckoned with. MTSU has won back-to-back second round NCAA Tournament games over Michigan State and Minnesota, before falling in the Round of 32 to strong teams. The Blue Raiders have at times this year played like a top 20 team. In December, they swept Florida Gulf Coast in a rare, back-to-back home and home series; then they won at neighborhood SEC rival Vanderbilt; then they blew Ole Miss off the floor in a home game; before losing close to Auburn in Birmingham in a game where they made a furious comeback to have a chance to win. Then, in Hawaii, they lost close games to USC and Miami. Star forward Nick King has five double-doubles so far, while Giddy Potts is the glue that keeps this team together. His defensive pressure can take opponents out of their offensive game plans.

Next week, MTSU plays on the road at the two toughest venues outside of their own Murphy Athletic Center. On Thursday night, the Blue Raiders visit Marshall, and on Saturday, they face off against chief rival Western Kentucky. If MTSU splits those two games, then they should secure another CUSA regular season title.

Missouri St.
Conference–Missouri Valley
Current Won-Loss Records–3-2/13-5
Head Coach–Paul Lusk
Family Tree–Gene Keady & Matt Painter

With Wichita State moving up to the American Athletic Conference, Missouri State becomes one of multiple contenders for the top spot in the Valley. Under Coach Paul Lusk, a former Purdue assistant, MSU has become a defensive force, especially inside, where the Bears have the best frontcourt in the league, led by top big man Alize Johnson. Johnson currently averages 15.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. This team can go eight deep with talented depth, and when their supporting cast is knocking down threes, this team can compete against anybody. MSU has a key game coming up at Drake a week from tomorrow. The winner of that game should be looking down at the rest of the league in the standings into February.

New Mexico St.
Conference–Western Athletic
Current Won-Loss Records–2-0/14-3
Head Coach–Chris Jans
Family Tree–Gregg Marshall

The Aggies might be strong enough to make a Cinderella run into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, and even consider themselves a possible Final Four contender. If you think this is impossible, it actually would not be a first in Las Cruces. NMSU has been in the Final Four, and it was no fluke back in 1970 when then coach Lou Henson guided the Aggies to a number three ranking in the polls.

This NMSU team has already made a name for itself with wins over Illinois in a not-so-neutral site game in Chicago and against Miami of Florida in Hawaii. After besting conference rival Grand Canyon by 11 last night, NMSU could run the table in the WAC this year and enter the NCAA Tournament as high as an 11th seed.

The Aggies are undersized and need to rely on pressure man-to-man defense with the occasional full-court press, but they play taller than they are and usually win the rebounding war, where they have a plus 8.7 margin presently.

Northern Kentucky
Current Won-Loss Records–4-1/11-6
Head Coach–John Brannen
Family Tree–John Kresse & Anthony Grant

Until losing at home to Wright State last night, NKU looked like an almost sure thing to return to the NCAA Tournament this year after making their first appearance last year.

The Norse return the three stars that kept the team in the game against Kentucky in the Second Round last year, and it figures that NKU could win a second and even third round game this year, but they have to get there first. With Wright State looking like they could soon make this list, who knows if they will get another shot?

Old Dominion
Conference–Conference USA
Current Won-Loss Records–3-1/12-4
Head Coach–Jeff Jones
Family Tree–Terry Holland

With an ACC championship at Virginia and four Colonial Athletic championships at American, Jeff Jones knows how to win. Old Dominion is one of four talented contenders for the CUSA crown, and most likely just one CUSA will get an invitation. So, it figures that ODU has about a 25% chance of going dancing this year. If they do get there, the Monarchs have the talent to stay around awhile.

ODU wins with its defense, where the Monarchs hold opponents to under 40% shooting from the field and then have a 5.6 rebounding margin and 3.9 turnover margin. At +9.5 in the hustle points, the opponent must shoot lights out or force ODU to shoot around 35% or worse to beat the Monarchs. Keep an eye on 6-10 post man Trey Porter, who appears to be on the cusp of breaking out into a star. In the last 5 games, he has averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 62% from the field.

If you are a fan of seeing a great offense go up against a great defense, you may want to tune into tomorrow’s ODU-Marshall game to see how the Monarchs’ defend the D’Antoni seven-second offense.

Rhode Island
Conference–Atlantic 10
Current Won-Loss Records–4-0/12-3
Head Coach–Dan Hurley
Family Tree–Bob Wenzel (student of former Duke coach Bill Foster)

Before Rams’ fans get on our case that URI should be considered a Major and not Mid-Major team, and that they should move up into an at-large proability, we actually agree with you. And, if the Rams continue to win and make it obvious that they are a definite at-large team, we will move the A-10 up into the Major Conference grouping and rank the teams in this league like we are doing for the Mountain West and West Coast Conferences.

Dan Hurley is not getting all the publicity that his little brother has been getting at Arizona State, but the older of the two brothers is doing a smashup job at Rhode Island.
The Rams’ three losses have come to Nevada in Reno, Virginia in Brooklyn, and Alabama in Tuscaloosa. They have wins against Seton Hall, Providence, and Florida Gulf Coast, and they get a chance to pick up another key win tomorrow when they host St. Bonaventure.

URI came close to making the Sweet 16 last year, beating Creighton before losing a heartbreaker to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament.

St. Bonaventure
Conference–Atlantic 10
Current Won-Loss Records–2-2/12-4
Head Coach–Mark Schmidt
Family Tree–Bruce Parkhill and Skip Prosser

The Bonnies have been close to making the Big Dance the last two years, coming up a game or two short. This may be their best team since 1978. With wins over over Maryland and Syracuse, St. Bonaventure has already shown that big time teams do not intimidate this group. A couple of senior leaders, Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams, make a great one-two punch for the Bonnies, as the two combine to average 35.5 points per game. Earlier this season against UMass, the two combined for 60 points and 9 of 16 from behind the arc. If a dance opponent or two catches the pair this hot, SBU can get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Of course, they still must earn their way into the dance, and losing back-to-back road games against Dayton and St. Joe’s damaged their at-large chances.

Their game with Rhode Island tomorrow morning is a real test to see if they are tournament worthy.

Conference–America East
Current Won-Loss Records–2-0/12-5
Head Coach–John Becker
Family Tree–Mike Lonergan (who was a Gary Williams disciple)

Vermont has become the Villanova of the America East Conference. The Catamounts were overwhelming favorites to win the league this year after returning most of the team that won the league last year and led Purdue for a bit in their NCAA Tournament loss to the Boilermakers.

VU’s most impressive game this year was its opener at Kentucky, where the Catamounts made a furious comeback before falling by four points. Expect the Catamounts to extend their current five-game winning streak well into double digits, and it would not surprise us if VU wins out from here to enter the NCAA Tournament at 29-5.

Forward Anthony Lamb has averaged 22.5 points per game since New Year’s Day, and if guard Ernie Duncan can become more consistent, the Catamounts can make it to the Sweet 16.

Western Kentucky
Conference–Conference USA
Current Won-Loss Records–4-0/12-5
Head Coach–Rick Stansbury
Family Tree–Lake Kelly and Richard Williams

It should be no surprise to long-time basketball fans that Western Kentucky has a team capable of becoming a Sweet 16 entrant in the NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers have been there before multiple times, even earning a Final Four berth in 1971, where WKU fell in overtime to Villanova.

This Hilltopper team is not going to remind the old-timers of the Clem Haskins or Jim McDaniel days. However, if you saw this team play in the Battle for Atlantis, they narrowly lost to top-ranked Villanova and then bested Purdue and SMU.
More importantly, WKU went on the road this past week and topped two of the three rivals they must defeat to win the CUSA Championship. The Hilltoppers beat Marshall 112-87 and Old Dominion 75-68, which leaves them currently tied for first with their arch-rival, Middle Tennessee.

In other years, CUSA might qualify two teams for the NCAA Tournament coming from the four teams that on any given night, could knock off a Big Ten or SEC opponent. However, unless one team runs the table in the regular season and then finished runner-up in the CUSA Tournament, it isn’t likely that the league will get an at-large bid.
WKU wins games because they have an incredible number of accurate shooters who know how to get open. All 5 starters average double figure scoring, and Coach Stansbury has a trio of competent rebounders and a duo of great playmakers.

Saturday, January 20, and Thursday, March 1 are the dates when WKU and Middle face off. The first game will be in Bowling Green, so WKU should be a slight favorite.





January 9, 2018

PiRate Ratings 2017-18 College Football Final Polls

Congratulations go to Coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide for winning the National Championship in a thrilling overtime victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.  Alabama wins the top spot in all three ratings, plus the retro rankings.  Here’s how the final numbers crunched.

Retrodictive Rankings

PiRate Retrodictive
# Team
1 Alabama
2 Georgia
3 Ohio St.
4 Wisconsin
5 Central Florida
6 Penn St.
7 Clemson
8 Oklahoma
9 Notre Dame
10 Auburn
11 TCU
12 Michigan St.
13 Miami (Fla)
14 USC
15 Washington
16 Oklahoma St.
17 Northwestern
18 North Carolina St.
19 Iowa
20 Stanford
21 Virginia Tech
22 Mississippi St.
23 LSU
24 Memphis
25 Boise St.
26 Michigan
27 Iowa St.
28 Wake Forest
29 South Florida
30 Louisville
31 South Carolina
32 Washington St.
33 Toledo
34 Florida Atlantic
35 Boston College
36 Florida St.
37 Texas
38 Purdue
39 Kansas St.
40 San Diego St.
41 Fresno St.
42 Troy
43 Army
44 Navy
45 Texas A&M
46 Duke
47 Georgia Tech
48 Oregon
49 Utah
50 West Virginia
51 Missouri
52 Arizona St.
53 Houston
54 Texas Tech
55 Kentucky
56 Arizona
58 Appalachian St.
59 Ohio
60 Indiana
61 Ole Miss
62 Pittsburgh
63 California
64 Northern Illinois
65 Temple
66 SMU
67 Minnesota
68 Marshall
69 North Texas
70 Virginia
71 Wyoming
72 Florida
73 Syracuse
74 Maryland
75 Central Michigan
76 Colorado
77 Colorado St.
78 Nebraska
79 Western Michigan
80 Louisiana Tech
81 Tulane
82 Vanderbilt
83 Arkansas St.
84 Southern Miss.
85 Florida Int’l.
86 Arkansas
87 Akron
88 Buffalo
89 Middle Tennessee
90 Utah St.
91 Tennessee
92 North Carolina
93 UAB
94 Eastern Michigan
95 Rutgers
96 Air Force
97 New Mexico St.
99 Miami (O)
100 Cincinnati
101 Tulsa
102 UNLV
103 Western Kentucky
104 Baylor
105 BYU
106 East Carolina
107 Nevada
108 Georgia St.
109 Massachusetts
110 Connecticut
111 Illinois
112 Old Dominion
113 UL-Monroe
114 Bowling Green
115 New Mexico
116 Idaho
117 South Alabama
118 UL-Lafayette
119 Oregon St.
120 Hawaii
121 Coastal Carolina
122 Georgia Southern
123 Kansas
124 Kent St.
125 Ball St.
126 Rice
127 Charlotte
128 Texas St.
129 San Jose St.
130 UTEP

The PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 136.9 133.5 135.8 135.4
2 Ohio St. 132.3 130.2 132.6 131.7
3 Georgia 130.8 130.0 131.4 130.7
4 Clemson 131.3 128.6 130.9 130.3
5 Penn St. 129.4 128.1 129.8 129.1
6 Oklahoma 128.2 126.7 129.4 128.1
7 Auburn 127.0 125.2 127.2 126.5
8 Washington 126.2 124.2 126.1 125.5
9 Wisconsin 126.4 123.9 125.5 125.3
10 Oklahoma St. 121.2 120.4 121.6 121.1
11 Stanford 120.6 119.0 119.9 119.8
12 U S C 120.1 119.2 119.8 119.7
13 L S U 118.5 116.3 118.8 117.9
14 Virginia Tech 118.1 117.6 117.9 117.8
15 Miami 118.6 117.4 117.5 117.8
16 T C U 118.0 116.5 118.2 117.6
17 N. Carolina St. 117.1 116.2 117.0 116.8
18 Central Florida 116.0 116.9 117.2 116.7
19 Louisville 116.8 116.0 116.5 116.4
20 Notre Dame 116.6 115.4 116.8 116.2
21 Florida St. 116.9 116.0 115.7 116.2
22 Northwestern 115.4 114.2 115.5 115.0
23 Iowa 114.3 114.5 113.6 114.2
24 Michigan 114.2 114.0 113.4 113.9
25 Mississippi St. 113.5 113.3 113.3 113.4
26 Memphis 113.2 112.5 114.0 113.2
27 Iowa State 112.8 112.8 113.9 113.2
28 Texas 112.9 112.9 113.5 113.1
29 Kansas St. 112.9 112.7 113.0 112.9
30 Boston College 112.6 112.3 112.6 112.5
31 Michigan St. 111.0 111.6 112.1 111.6
32 Wake Forest 112.1 110.4 112.2 111.6
33 Duke 111.1 110.0 110.4 110.5
34 Utah 109.9 109.9 110.1 110.0
35 Oregon 110.5 108.6 109.9 109.7
36 Georgia Tech 110.2 108.4 108.7 109.1
37 Washington St. 109.8 107.7 109.3 108.9
38 South Florida 109.0 108.2 109.3 108.8
39 S. Carolina 109.1 108.3 108.2 108.5
40 Pittsburgh 108.8 108.1 108.7 108.5
41 Missouri 108.5 107.1 107.8 107.8
42 Boise St. 107.5 106.1 107.6 107.1
43 Texas A&M 107.9 106.0 107.0 107.0
44 West Virginia 106.7 107.4 106.7 106.9
45 Arizona St. 106.4 105.3 106.0 105.9
46 Kentucky 106.4 105.7 105.0 105.7
47 Purdue 105.6 105.4 106.1 105.7
48 Indiana 105.5 105.6 105.9 105.7
49 Ole Miss 106.3 105.0 105.4 105.6
50 Florida 105.7 105.4 105.1 105.4
51 Arizona 106.0 104.9 104.9 105.3
52 Texas Tech 105.2 104.9 104.8 105.0
53 Florida Atlantic 103.4 104.9 105.3 104.5
54 California 105.3 103.2 103.8 104.1
55 Navy 103.5 104.1 103.7 103.8
56 Colorado 104.5 103.4 102.4 103.4
57 U C L A 103.0 102.4 102.3 102.6
58 N. Carolina 102.9 102.0 102.0 102.3
59 San Diego St. 101.5 101.5 102.5 101.8
60 Houston 101.4 101.1 101.5 101.3
61 Syracuse 102.0 100.8 101.1 101.3
62 Army 100.9 100.8 101.3 101.0
63 Appalachian St. 101.2 100.0 101.4 100.9
64 Toledo 100.1 100.1 102.1 100.8
65 Minnesota 100.3 101.2 99.2 100.2
66 Vanderbilt 100.8 99.8 99.7 100.1
67 Troy 99.7 99.8 99.9 99.8
68 Fresno St. 99.9 98.6 100.8 99.8
69 Colo. State 99.8 99.1 99.7 99.5
70 Virginia 99.6 98.6 99.9 99.4
71 Ohio U 98.3 99.6 99.3 99.1
72 Arkansas 99.4 98.5 99.2 99.1
73 Baylor 98.1 99.4 98.2 98.6
74 Temple 98.2 98.5 98.8 98.5
75 Wyoming 97.8 96.9 97.2 97.3
76 Tennessee 97.3 95.9 95.3 96.2
77 Western Michigan 95.8 95.2 96.5 95.8
78 Northern Illinois 95.0 95.0 95.8 95.2
79 Nebraska 94.9 95.4 94.4 94.9
80 Eastern Michigan 94.7 94.8 95.1 94.9
81 Maryland 94.5 95.8 93.9 94.7
82 Arkansas St. 93.8 95.0 94.7 94.5
83 Tulane 94.2 94.4 94.6 94.4
84 SMU 94.0 94.5 94.3 94.3
85 Utah St. 94.0 93.3 93.7 93.7
86 Marshall 92.4 93.5 93.8 93.3
87 Central Michigan 92.8 93.1 93.4 93.1
88 Tulsa 93.1 92.8 92.7 92.9
89 Air Force 92.2 92.5 92.2 92.3
90 Louisiana Tech 90.8 92.4 91.6 91.6
91 Middle Tennessee 90.4 91.4 91.6 91.1
92 Rutgers 91.1 91.1 90.7 91.0
93 BYU 90.0 89.9 89.9 89.9
94 Nevada 88.9 90.5 90.0 89.8
95 Miami (O) 88.7 90.7 89.9 89.8
96 Oregon St. 90.0 89.9 88.4 89.4
97 Massachusetts 88.9 88.4 89.0 88.8
98 U T S A 87.6 90.0 88.4 88.6
99 Buffalo 87.3 89.3 89.3 88.6
100 Florida Int’l. 87.6 88.0 88.4 88.0
101 Illinois 87.9 89.0 86.8 87.9
102 Southern Miss. 87.5 88.4 87.8 87.9
103 N. Texas 86.4 87.8 86.9 87.0
104 U N L V 86.2 87.7 86.3 86.8
105 N. Mexico St. 86.8 85.7 86.9 86.5
106 W. Kentucky 85.7 86.2 86.1 86.0
107 Connecticut 84.5 86.3 84.8 85.2
108 Akron 84.2 86.1 84.9 85.1
109 Cincinnati 83.9 85.7 84.6 84.7
110 New Mexico 84.4 84.4 84.9 84.6
111 East Carolina 83.2 84.5 83.3 83.7
112 Georgia St. 82.7 82.7 82.5 82.7
113 Kansas 81.8 85.1 80.5 82.5
114 Bowling Green 81.5 82.6 81.8 82.0
115 Hawaii 81.8 82.9 81.1 81.9
116 UL-Monroe 81.9 82.8 81.0 81.9
117 S. Alabama 81.1 83.0 81.3 81.8
118 Idaho 80.8 81.6 81.7 81.3
119 Old Dominion 80.3 82.7 80.5 81.2
120 UAB 79.6 79.9 81.3 80.3
121 UL-Lafayette 79.3 80.5 79.0 79.6
122 Georgia Southern 79.1 80.4 78.5 79.3
123 Coastal Carolina 74.5 75.7 75.3 75.2
124 Kent St. 73.9 75.4 74.2 74.5
125 Rice 72.6 74.1 73.0 73.2
126 San Jose St. 72.3 72.4 71.6 72.1
127 Texas St. 70.3 72.5 69.4 70.7
128 Charlotte 69.5 71.8 69.7 70.3
129 U T E P 67.9 70.7 67.9 68.9
130 Ball St. 65.7 67.7 66.4 66.6
PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 ACC 112.7 111.6 112.2 112.2
2 SEC 112.0 110.7 111.4 111.4
3 B12 109.8 109.9 110.0 109.9
4 P-12 109.4 108.1 108.6 108.7
5 BTEN 108.8 108.6 108.5 108.6
6 IND 99.1 98.6 99.2 99.0
7 AAC 97.9 98.3 98.2 98.1
8 MWC 92.2 92.2 92.3 92.2
9 MAC 88.2 89.1 89.0 88.8
10 CUSA 84.4 85.8 85.2 85.1
11 SBC 84.3 85.0 84.3 84.5




January 8, 2018

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Divisional Playoff Round: January 13-14, 2018

All times given are Eastern Standard

Saturday, January 13, 2018

4:35 PM on NBC

Atlanta Falcons (11-6-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3-0)

PiRate: Philadelphia by 5.2

Mean: Philadelphia by 5.6

Bias: Philadelphia by 5.1

Total: 46

Estimated Realistic Score: Philadelphia 26  Atlanta 20


8:15 PM on CBS

Tennessee Titans (10-7-0) at New England Patriots (13-3-0)

PiRate: New England by 11.5

Mean: New England by  11.5

Bias: New England by 11.7

Total: 44

Estimated Realistic Score: New England 28  Tennessee 16


Sunday, January 14, 2018

1:05 PM on CBS

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3-0)

PiRate: Pittsburgh by 6.1

Mean: Pittsburgh by 6.4

Bias: Pittsburgh by 5.9

Total: 43

Estimated Realistic Score: Pittsburgh 24 Jacksonville 17


4:40 PM on Fox Sports

New Orleans Saints (12-5-0) at Minnesota Vikings (13-3-0)

PiRate: Minnesota by 4.7

Mean: Minnesota by 4.8

Bias: Minnesota by 4.8

Total: 46

Estimated Realistic Score: Minnesota 24  New Orleans 20

January 5, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 6-7, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:02 am

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads (multi-bid leagues only)

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut East Carolina 14.7
Memphis Tulsa -0.9
Clemson Louisville 6.7
Virginia Tech Pittsburgh 15.1
Virginia North Carolina 4.3
Syracuse Notre Dame 0.2
Boston College Wake Forest 3.1
North Carolina St. Duke -11.4
Baylor Texas 2.8
Texas Tech Kansas St. 10.1
Oklahoma St. Iowa St. 8.0
West Virginia Oklahoma 4.4
TCU Kansas -1.3
Providence Xavier -4.7
Georgetown Creighton -5.9
St. John’s DePaul 7.6
Butler Seton Hall 2.2
Villanova Marquette 14.6
Michigan Illinois 9.7
Purdue Nebraska 18.2
Minnesota Indiana 11.4
Air Force Nevada -15.5
Colorado St. Fresno St. -4.5
Wyoming Boise St. -2.4
New Mexico San Jose St. 11.3
UNLV Utah St. 9.7
Colorado Arizona -8.3
Washington St. Washington -0.1
California UCLA -6.6
Georgia Alabama 0.7
Missouri Florida 2.6
Texas A&M LSU 8.6
Ole Miss Mississippi St. 1.3
Auburn Arkansas 1.6
South Carolina Vanderbilt 2.5
Tennessee Kentucky 4.1
Pepperdine San Francisco -3.7
Loyola Marymount Gonzaga -17.2
Pacific BYU -6.0
Santa Clara Portland 4.4
Saint Mary’s San Diego 13.9
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Central Florida Temple 1.5
Wichita St. South Florida 27.0
Cincinnati SMU 6.6
Miami (Fla.) Florida St. 0.5
Ohio St. Michigan St. -6.7
Maryland Iowa 8.2
Utah Arizona St. -2.4
Stanford USC -5.0

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
2 Duke 119.1 ACC
3 Villanova 119.0 BIGE
4 Purdue 118.2 BTEN
5 Kansas 116.7 B12
6 Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
7 Texas Tech 114.8 B12
8 Virginia 114.7 ACC
9 North Carolina 114.4 ACC
10 Oklahoma 114.0 B12
11 Xavier 113.9 BIGE
12 West Virginia 113.9 B12
13 Wichita St. 113.8 AAC
14 Arizona 113.5 P12
15 Arkansas 112.9 SEC
16 Cincinnati 112.8 AAC
17 Arizona St. 112.8 P12
18 Creighton 112.7 BIGE
19 Notre Dame 112.1 ACC
20 TCU 111.9 B12
21 Florida St. 111.9 ACC
22 Seton Hall 111.5 BIGE
23 Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
24 Clemson 111.2 ACC
25 Florida 111.2 SEC

PiRate Ratings By Conference (multi-bid conferences only)

Team PiRate Conf.
Wichita St. 113.8 AAC
Cincinnati 112.8 AAC
SMU 110.2 AAC
Houston 108.8 AAC
Temple 105.4 AAC
UCF 103.4 AAC
Tulsa 102.1 AAC
Tulane 101.2 AAC
Connecticut 100.5 AAC
Memphis 97.7 AAC
South Florida 90.8 AAC
East Carolina 89.8 AAC
Duke 119.1 ACC
Virginia 114.7 ACC
North Carolina 114.4 ACC
Notre Dame 112.1 ACC
Florida St. 111.9 ACC
Clemson 111.2 ACC
Miami FL 109.9 ACC
Virginia Tech 108.9 ACC
Louisville 108.5 ACC
Syracuse 108.3 ACC
Wake Forest 106.3 ACC
Boston College 105.4 ACC
North Carolina St. 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 100.1 ACC
Pittsburgh 97.3 ACC
Kansas 116.7 B12
Texas Tech 114.8 B12
Oklahoma 114.0 B12
West Virginia 113.9 B12
TCU 111.9 B12
Baylor 109.5 B12
Texas 109.2 B12
Kansas St. 108.2 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.1 B12
Iowa St. 103.1 B12
Villanova 119.0 BIGE
Xavier 113.9 BIGE
Creighton 112.7 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.5 BIGE
Butler 109.7 BIGE
Marquette 108.4 BIGE
St. John’s 106.1 BIGE
Providence 105.7 BIGE
Georgetown 103.3 BIGE
DePaul 102.0 BIGE
Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
Purdue 118.2 BTEN
Michigan 110.3 BTEN
Maryland 109.4 BTEN
Ohio St. 109.1 BTEN
Minnesota 108.9 BTEN
Penn St. 108.0 BTEN
Northwestern 106.3 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.2 BTEN
Iowa 105.2 BTEN
Illinois 104.6 BTEN
Nebraska 104.0 BTEN
Indiana 101.5 BTEN
Rutgers 100.8 BTEN
Nevada 110.9 MWC
Boise St. 107.4 MWC
San Diego St. 107.2 MWC
UNLV 106.9 MWC
Fresno St. 104.6 MWC
Wyoming 101.5 MWC
Utah St. 100.7 MWC
New Mexico 99.6 MWC
Colorado St. 96.6 MWC
Air Force 92.4 MWC
San Jose St. 91.8 MWC
Arizona 113.5 P12
Arizona St. 112.8 P12
USC 108.8 P12
Oregon 107.7 P12
UCLA 107.3 P12
Utah 106.4 P12
Washington 102.3 P12
Colorado 101.2 P12
Stanford 100.8 P12
Oregon St. 100.6 P12
Washington St. 99.8 P12
California 97.7 P12
Arkansas 112.9 SEC
Florida 111.2 SEC
Tennessee 111.0 SEC
Auburn 111.0 SEC
Kentucky 110.9 SEC
Texas A&M 110.8 SEC
Missouri 109.8 SEC
Alabama 107.9 SEC
LSU 106.2 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.3 SEC
Georgia 105.1 SEC
Vanderbilt 105.1 SEC
Mississippi 104.1 SEC
South Carolina 104.1 SEC
Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
BYU 105.9 WCC
San Diego 101.4 WCC
San Francisco 99.7 WCC
Pacific 96.9 WCC
Loyola Marymount 95.2 WCC
Santa Clara 94.0 WCC
Pepperdine 93.0 WCC
Portland 92.6 WCC

This Week’s Estimate of Who’s In The Big Dance

Note–This is not our Bracketology Gurus report.  We expect that our gurus will begin sending us this data by the first of February.  Until then, this is our best guess as to who would be in the field if it began today.

America East

Vermont 1-0/10-5


Cincinnati 2-0/13-2

Wichita St. 2-0/12-2

SMU 2-1/12-4

Atlantic 10

Rhode Island 2-0/10-3

Atlantic Coast

Duke 1-1/13-1

North Carolina 1-1/12-3

Virginia  2-0/13-1

Miami (Fla.) 1-1/12-2

Clemson 2-0/13-1

Florida St. 1-1/12-2

Notre Dame 2-0/12-3

Louisville 1-0/11-3

Syracuse 1-1/12-3

Atlantic Sun

Florida Gulf Coast 0-0/9-8

Big 12

West Virginia 2-0/13-1

Oklahoma 2-0/12-1

Kansas 1-1/11-3

TCU 1-1/13-1

Texas Tech 2-0/13-1

Texas 1-1/10-4

Baylor 0-2/10-4

Big East

Xavier 3-0/15-1

Seton Hall 2-0/13-2

Villanova 1-1/13-1

Creighton 2-1/12-3

Butler 2-1/12-4

Big Sky

Montana 3-0/10-5

Big South

Radford 2-0/9-6

Big Ten

Michigan St. 3-0/15-1

Purdue 3-0/14-2

Ohio St. 3-0/12-4

Michigan 2-1/13-3

Minnesota 2-1/13-3

Maryland 2-2/13-4

Big West

UC-Davis 1-0/10-5


Charleston 2-0/11-3

Conference USA

Middle Tennessee 2-0/10-4


Northern Kentucky 2-0/9-5


Pennsylvania 0-0/9-5

Metro Atlantic

Canisius 2-0/8-7


Central Michigan 1-0/12-2

Mideastern Athletic

UNC-Central 1-0/7-8

Missouri Valley

Missouri St. 3-0/13-3

Mountain West

Nevada 3-0/14-3

Boise St. 3-0/13-2


Robert Morris 3-0/9-7

Ohio Valley

Belmont 3-0/11-5


Arizona 2-0/12-3

Arizona St. 0-2/12-2

UCLA 2-1/11-4

USC 2-1/11-5


Navy 1-1/10-5


Kentucky 2-0/12-2

Florida 2-0/10-4

Auburn 1-0/13-1

Texas A&M 0-2/11-3

Arkansas 1-1/11-3

Missouri 1-0/11-3

Mississippi St. 1-0/13-1


UNC-Greensboro 1-0/10-4


Stephen F. Austin 1-1/12-3

Southwestern Athletic

Jackson St. 2-0/5-10


South Dakota 2-0/14-4

Sun Belt

Louisiana-Lafayette 3-0/13-3

West Coast

Gonzaga 3-0/13-3

Saint Mary’s 3-0/14-2

Western Athletic

New Mexico St. 0-0/12-3







January 2, 2018

PiRate Ratings 2017-18 College Football National Championship Game Preview

2017-18 College Football National Championship Game

#3 Georgia Bulldogs (13-1) vs. #4 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)

Date: Monday, January 8, 2018

Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Standard

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta


Announcers: Chris Fowler–Play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit–Color commentary, Maria Taylor–Sideline, Tom Rinaldi–Sideline

Radio: ESPN

Announcers: Sean McDonough–Play-by-play, Todd Blackledge–Color commentary, Holly Rowe–Sideline, Ian Fitzsimmons–Sideline

Officiating: Big Ten Staff

Las Vegas Line (as of Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 4:00 PM EST

Spread: Alabama by 4 1/2

Money line: Alabama -200,  Georgia +170

Total: 45 1/2

PiRate Ratings

PiRate: Alabama by 6.5

Mean: Alabama by 3.7

Bias: Alabama by 4.8

Reasonable Expected Score: Alabama 31  Georgia 26

100 Computer Simulations

Wins: Alabama 68  Georgia 32

Average Score: Alabama 33  Georgia 27

Outlier ALA: Alabama 38  Georgia 9

Outlier GA: Georgia 27  Alabama 16 



January 1, 2018

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Wildcard Playoff Round: January 6-7, 2018

All times given are Eastern Standard Time

Saturday, January 6, 2018

4:20 PM on ESPN

Tennessee Titans (9-7-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-6-0)

PiRate: Kansas City by 8.1

Mean: Kansas City by 8.0

Bias: Kansas City by 8.7

Total: 45

Estimated Realistic Score: Kansas City 27  Tennessee 17


8:15 PM on NBC

Atlanta Falcons (10-6-0) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5-0)

PiRate: Los Angeles by 5.4

Mean: Los Angeles by 5.0

Bias: Los Angeles by 5.7

Total: 48

Estimated Realistic Score: Los Angeles 27  Atlanta 21


Sunday, January 7, 2018

1:05 PM on CBS

Buffalo Bills (9-7-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6-0)

PiRate: Jacksonville by 9.4

Mean: Jacksonville by 8.9

Bias: Jacksonville by 9.5

Total: 42

Estimated Realistic Score: Jacksonville 26  Buffalo 16


4:40 PM on Fox

Carolina Panthers (11-5-0) at New Orleans Saints (11-5-0)

PiRate: New Orleans by 5.8

Mean: New Orleans by 5.9

Bias: New Orleans by 6.0

Total: 53

Estimated Realistic Score: New Orleans 28  Carolina 24



December 29, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads For December 30-31, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:56 am
Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut Wichita St. -10.0
Houston Temple 8.6
North Carolina Wake Forest 14.0
Duke Florida St. 10.6
Virginia Boston College 16.2
Notre Dame Georgia Tech 16.5
Pittsburgh Miami (Fla.) -11.8
Clemson N. C. State 8.5
TCU Oklahoma 1.4
Xavier DePaul 16.1
Butler Villanova -7.9
Marquette Georgetown 8.3
Nevada New Mexico 15.7
San Diego St. Utah St. 10.1
UNLV Boise St. 4.0
Arizona Arizona St. 2.5
Stanford California 7.1
Arkansas Tennessee 5.2
Florida Vanderbilt 9.1
Alabama Texas A&M -4.1
BYU Saint Mary’s 0.2
Gonzaga Santa Clara 25.2
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Tulane Tulsa 2.0
Cincinnati Memphis 20.1
East Carolina Central Florida -10.9
SMU South Florida 22.3
Syracuse Virginia Tech 0.1
Creighton Providence 10.2
Seton Hall St. John’s 8.1
Oregon St. Utah -4.0
UCLA Washington 9.0
USC Washington St. 14.1
Oregon Colorado 11.4
Kentucky Georgia 9.8
Ole Miss South Carolina 2.0



December 27, 2017

PiRate Ratings–College Basketball Issue 1 2017-18

Normally, we do not commence with our basketball coverage until after New Year’s Day, but this year all 351 Division 1 teams have reached the 10-game plateau before the turn of the year.  It takes our PiRate Ratings 10 games into everybody’s schedule before the average statistics calm down enough to make our ratings worth a grain of salt.

We have made a couple of changes this season.  First, our Red, White, and Blue ratings have been sent to the scrap pile.  They were just minor variations in the algorithm of the stats we use to determine power ratings.  Instead, beginning this season, we have put all three algorithms together into one conglomerate rating, simply “The PiRate Rating.”

We have been in contact with most of our Bracketology Gurus from last year, and we hope to have this function up and running soon.  We are still efforting to contact two of our past contributors, and we hope they will soon return to the ship.  As some of our loyal followers remember last season, our Gurus were 100% accurate, 68 for 68, in picking the NCAA Tournament teams on the morning of Selection Sunday.  As far as we can tell, no national bracketologist matched this feat.

The lineup this year is for a bracketology composite to be released on Monday or Tuesday (depends on when all our Gurus get their data to us), and for a preview of the weekend games of the top conferences to be issued on Friday afternoons.  Unfortunately, since we are not automated, we cannot release selections for all 351 teams nor for weekday games.  We will limit our selections to Saturday and Sunday conference games and games between NCAA contenders of the power leagues.  We will also release our ratings of the power conferences.  For those that want more information on mid-major and low-major conferences, we will periodically report on these conference races, beginning with our first one today.

The PiRate Ratings Top 25 for December 27, 2017

A rating of 100 is the national average.  115 or above is a final four caliber team.

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.4 BE
2 Duke 120.0 ACC
3 Michigan St. 119.8 B10
4 Purdue 119.7 B10
5 Kansas 119.4 B12
6 Virginia 117.4 ACC
7 North Carolina 116.8 ACC
8 Xavier 115.9 BE
9 Texas A&M 115.9 SEC
10 West Virginia 115.8 B12
11 Wichita St. 115.4 AAC
12 Gonzaga 115.2 WCC
13 Arizona St. 115.0 P12
14 Texas Tech 115.0 B12
15 Cincinnati 114.9 AAC
16 Oklahoma 114.7 B12
17 Arkansas 114.6 SEC
18 Arizona 114.5 P12
19 Creighton 114.1 BE
20 Florida St. 113.4 ACC
21 Tennessee 113.4 SEC
22 Miami FL 113.2 ACC
23 Seton Hall 113.1 BE
24 TCU 113.1 B12
25 Clemson 112.8 ACC

Rankings By Top Conferences

Team PiRate Conf.
Wichita St. 115.4 AAC
Cincinnati 114.9 AAC
SMU 112.0 AAC
Houston 110.6 AAC
Temple 106.7 AAC
UCF 104.5 AAC
Tulsa 102.2 AAC
Connecticut 101.3 AAC
Tulane 100.6 AAC
Memphis 99.0 AAC
South Florida 92.9 AAC
East Carolina 91.7 AAC
Duke 120.0 ACC
Virginia 117.4 ACC
North Carolina 116.8 ACC
Florida St. 113.4 ACC
Miami FL 113.2 ACC
Clemson 112.8 ACC
Virginia Tech 112.6 ACC
Notre Dame 112.5 ACC
Louisville 111.3 ACC
Syracuse 108.2 ACC
North Carolina St. 107.4 ACC
Wake Forest 105.8 ACC
Boston College 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 100.6 ACC
Pittsburgh 98.4 ACC
Michigan St. 119.8 B10
Purdue 119.7 B10
Michigan 111.9 B10
Maryland 111.8 B10
Minnesota 110.5 B10
Ohio St. 110.1 B10
Penn St. 109.5 B10
Northwestern 108.4 B10
Wisconsin 106.7 B10
Iowa 106.4 B10
Illinois 106.3 B10
Indiana 104.6 B10
Rutgers 104.4 B10
Nebraska 104.2 B10
Kansas 119.4 B12
West Virginia 115.8 B12
Texas Tech 115.0 B12
Oklahoma 114.7 B12
TCU 113.1 B12
Baylor 112.1 B12
Texas 111.6 B12
Kansas St. 109.3 B12
Oklahoma St. 109.0 B12
Iowa St. 105.1 B12
Villanova 121.4 BE
Xavier 115.9 BE
Creighton 114.1 BE
Seton Hall 113.1 BE
Butler 110.3 BE
St. John’s 108.8 BE
Marquette 108.4 BE
Providence 106.3 BE
Georgetown 103.4 BE
DePaul 103.0 BE
Nevada 112.3 MWC
San Diego St. 109.0 MWC
UNLV 108.9 MWC
Boise St. 107.6 MWC
Fresno St. 106.3 MWC
Utah St. 101.3 MWC
Wyoming 101.0 MWC
New Mexico 99.4 MWC
Colorado St. 96.5 MWC
Air Force 92.7 MWC
San Jose St. 92.4 MWC
Arizona St. 115.0 P12
Arizona 114.5 P12
USC 110.4 P12
Oregon 109.8 P12
UCLA 107.9 P12
Utah 107.4 P12
Colorado 102.3 P12
Stanford 101.7 P12
Washington 101.7 P12
Oregon St. 100.4 P12
Washington St. 100.4 P12
California 97.6 P12
Texas A&M 115.9 SEC
Arkansas 114.6 SEC
Tennessee 113.4 SEC
Kentucky 111.8 SEC
Florida 111.4 SEC
Auburn 111.0 SEC
Missouri 110.0 SEC
Alabama 108.3 SEC
South Carolina 106.9 SEC
Vanderbilt 106.2 SEC
Georgia 106.1 SEC
LSU 106.0 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.8 SEC
Mississippi 105.3 SEC
Gonzaga 115.2 WCC
Saint Mary’s 110.9 WCC
BYU 107.2 WCC
San Diego 102.5 WCC
San Francisco 100.4 WCC
Pacific 97.0 WCC
Loyola Marymount 96.7 WCC
Santa Clara 93.8 WCC
Portland 93.1 WCC
Pepperdine 92.3 WCC

A Look at the 22, One Bid Leagues

America East
Albany has the best record at 11-3, and one of their three losses was by just two points against Louisville, while Vermont at 8-5 has played a slightly tougher schedule and has narrow misses at Kentucky, Marquette, and St. Bonaventure. Vermont ran the table in the AmEast last year, and the Catamounts are the team to beat.

Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast (7-7) was supposed to be the class of the A-Sun this year with a team similar to their great past squads under former coach Andy Enfield. However, they look like the third best team as conference play begins. Lipscomb (9-4) swept rival and perennial NCAA Tournament team Belmont in a home and home series, and they stayed close with a ranked Tennessee team. NJIT (7-6) appears to be the other team capable of winning the conference race. Of course, this league could easily see a middle of the pack team win the conference tournament. The tournament is played on campus, so the top seed will have home court advantage throughout. Lipscomb is currently 5-0 at home, so this is something to keep an eye on for the next several weeks.

Big Sky
Portland State (10-3) is the cream of the class as the year ends, but this league has some talented teams, and the Vikings will not run the table and easily earn the lone NCAA bid. Challenges will come from Idaho (8-4), Northern Colorado (9-5), Weber State (7-5), and Montana (7-5). Portland State averages over 90 points per game and led Duke at the half earlier this year. They have an outstanding pair of tall guard in Deontae North and Bryce Canda, and this is a team that could be a #13 seed that can beat a #4 seed in the Round of 64.

Big South
The conference race starts with three teams appearing to be above the rest of the league, but this looks like a bit of a down year in the Big South. Liberty (9-4) has a win at Wake Forest, but they also lost at home to Mercer. The Flames have the best defense in the league, led by Bradley transfer Scottie James at power forward. Winthrop (6-5) has the superior offense in the league, thrice exceeding 100 points so far. However, all three of those centennial-topping games came against non-Division I teams. Against a decent team like Auburn, the Eagles gave up 119 points and lost by 34. UNC-Asheville (7-6) has underachieved in November and December, but with three quality starters in Macio Teague, Ahmad Thomas, and Kevin Vannatta, the Bulldogs can still put it together and win the league again.

Big West
UCSB (10-3) has the highest power rating so far, but the three co-favorites to win the conference are just behind and not by much. UC-Davis (8-5), Cal State Fullerton (7-4), and UC-Irvine (5-10) will be there in March. UC-Irvine’s poor record is a bit misleading, as the Anteaters have played a gruesome schedule that includes losses to South Dakota State, Kansas State, Arizona State, UCLA, Nevada, and Saint Mary’s, all who could be in the NCAA Tournament.

Towson (10-3) has the best overall record, but their 10 wins have come against nobody special. Charleston (9-3) is in a similar boat with no significant wins. Northeastern (7-5), Hofstra (7-5), and William & Mary (7-4) play much better on their home floors than when away from home, and this group of five teams should contend for top honors. William & Mary may be the team with the potential to improve the most in the next two months and emerge as the favorite. With just a little defensive improvement, the Tribe could be scary in an opening round game.

Conference USA
We will have to monitor this league a bit closer, because there is a small possibility that this league could move up into the multiple bid leagues. Middle Tennessee (8-4) is trying to emerge as the Gonzaga of the South. The Blue Raiders have won back-to-back opening round NCAA Tournament games over Big Ten teams the last two seasons, and they beat Vanderbilt and Ole Miss so far. Their four losses have been to teams that should be in the NCAA Tournament (Belmont, Auburn, USC, and Miami), and they nearly beat USC and Miami in Honolulu. Five other teams could contend with the heavily favored Blue Raiders, and that is where CUSA could eventually get a second team in the Dance. Old Dominion (9-3) has an excellent controlled offense and quality defense, the type that can win conference tournaments in March. Western Kentucky (8-5) has the talent to pull off three conference tournament wins. The Hilltoppers beat Purdue and SMU and lost a narrow game to Villanova, so they will be tough in conference play. Louisiana Tech (9-4), UAB (9-4), and Marshall (9-4) all have stellar offensive games, and in this league, any of this trio could get hot in March and win the conference tournament. If MTSU wins the regular season title with only one or two losses and then loses in the CUSA Tournament Championship Game, the league could get that second bid. For now, we leave this as a one-bid league.

Northern Kentucky (7-5) was supposed to win this conference with ease this year after earning its first ever NCAA Tournament bid last year. Oakland (8-5) and Wright State (8-5) look like serious challengers this year. Oakland can score 100 points or give up 100 points on a random night, while Wright State can hold an opponent under 50 points or struggle to score 50 points on a random night. Neither team is complete enough to win a game in the Round of 64.

Now that there is a four-team post-season tournament in this league, determining the upper division is more important than ever. This year, it looks rather easy to determine which four teams will make the tournament, as there is quite a division between number four and number five. Penn (8-4), Princeton (7-7), Yale (6-8), and Harvard (5-7) should be the top four in some order or another. Princeton has the best win, besting USC in Los Angeles.

Metro Atlantic
This looks like an off year for Monmouth (4-8). The Hawks could not pull off any signature wins in the pre-conference schedule, and it leaves Iona (6-6) as the only team capable of winning an opening round game in the NCAA Tournament. If any other MAAC team wins the automatic bid, chances are high they will play an early game in Dayton.

This is possibly the most balanced league this year, but then this isn’t anything new. The MAC has several good but not great teams. As many as eight teams have the talent to win the conference tournament, but chances are rather strong that whoever that team is, they will make a quick departure in the Big Dance, losing by a modest amount to their favored opponent. Central Michigan (10-2) has no special wins with a seven point loss at Michigan being their top resume opponent. Eastern Michigan (8-3) can score points quickly in their up-tempo offense, but the Eagles lack the defense to become scary. Ball State (8-4) has a seven-game winning streak, which includes the best win in the league, a win at Notre Dame, and the Cardinals need to be watched a little closer to see if this may develop into something impressive. Other teams to watch include Buffalo (7-5), Ohio (6-5), Toledo (7-5), Western Michigan (7-5), and Kent State (6-6). You can pick one of these eight teams out of a hat and have as good a chance at predicting the NCAA recipient with the same accuracy as the top prognosticators.

Mideastern Athletic
This league has been known to produce some surprise upset winners in the past, including a 15-seed knocking off a 2-seed. Even though no MEAC teams have impressive pre-conference records, the top members are competitive and tend to improve in February and March as they gain confidence from a lot of league wins. Keep an eye on UNC-Central (5-8). While the Eagles have no signature wins, they have lost some close games to good teams. If UNCC doesn’t win the conference, then it will most likely go to either North Carolina A&T (7-7) or Morgan State (4-7).

Missouri Valley
Don’t be confused by the Valley becoming a one-bid league. You may not have realized that Wichita State no longer is a member. The Shockers moved to the American Athletic Conference, leaving the MVC without a major power. Thus, the winner at Arch Madness in St. Louis will get the one bid available to this league. As of now, Missouri State (11-3) and Loyola (Chi.) (10-3) look like the class of the league. The two teams squared off at MSU to begin conference play, and the Bears pulled off a narrow home victory. Other teams to keep an eye on include Bradley (10-3), new member Valparaiso (9-4), and Northern Iowa (8-4).

This looks like a First Four Game league with the winner going to Dayton. As of this writing, seven of the league’s ten members are bunched rather closely, although not as much so as the MAC. St. Francis (Pa.) (6-5) has the most impressive resume to date, but the Red Flash have very little to show. They played toe-to-toe on the road against Saint Mary’s for 14 minutes, before they fell far behind early in the second half. They stayed within a few points at Louisville for 17 minutes and even went on a 24-10 run in the second half, but they still lost by double digits. But, they also trailed Duke by 30 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. So, this is still a team that nobody will fear, even in the opening round in Dayton. Wagner (7-4) and Robert Morris (6-7) look like the top two contenders, but the talent in this league is not strong enough to say that these three are surely the best three in the league. It will take 5 or 6 conference games before the true contenders are known.

Ohio Valley
The OVC looks to be an improved league in 2018, but they still have a long way to go before it threatens to be a two-bid league. Perennial favorite Belmont (8-5) has been hot and cold so far, beating Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky, and narrowly losing to Providence and unbeaten TCU, but they also were swept by neighborhood rival Lipscomb in their annual home and home series. Former dominant league member Murray State (8-3) is on the rise once again, and the Racers have a balanced offense, capable of scoring inside and from behind the arc. Jacksonville State (9-4) is an up and comer, and the led deep into the second half at Mississippi State and missed on two good looks in the final 5 seconds in a one point loss at Oregon State.

Navy (9-4) and Army (7-4) have the two best records in the league in the preseason, but Bucknell (6-7) appears to be the class of the league like usual. The Bison began 0-4 with a tough three-game stretch that saw them play at Arkansas, North Carolina, and Maryland in the same week, losing close games in the latter two. Bucknell actually led the Terps by 15 at the half. This will be a team that could give a favorite fits in a Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game.

This league is better than most national media give it credit. In fact, there are four teams this year that have the talent to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, and maybe one team has Sweet 16 potential. That team is East Tennessee State (8-4). The Buccaneers lost by just two at Xavier and led at Kentucky by 10 points in the first half, so they have the potential to pull off an upset in the Dance. Furman (9-4), UNC-Greensboro (9-4), and Mercer (6-6) look to be the other top contenders.

Stephen F. Austin (11-2) has become the Kansas of this league, and any talk of picking a league champion starts here. The Lumberjacks’ two losses came by slim margins on the road against SEC teams, while they also won at LSU. SFA’s top rivals this year include Abilene Christian (8-5), Lamar (8-5), and Central Arkansas (6-7).

Southwestern Athletic
This is the league that always puts its conference champion in Dayton for an opening round game. It is continually the last-place team in power ratings every year, and this year is no different. How weak is the SWAC? Consider that five teams (Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley St., Texas Southern, and Arkanas-Pine Bluff are a combined 0-65! Yes, the best record among this quintet is ASU’s 0-12 record. Yet, it would not be surprising if one of these teams eventually wins the conference tournament and gets an automatic bid with 20 losses. Texas Southern (0-13) actually possesses the best PiRate Rating as of today. The best records in the pre-season belong to Grambling (4-8) and Alcorn State (4-9). While Alcorn’s four wins came against non-Division I teams, at least Grambling owns a win over Georgia Tech.

Like CUSA, this league is close to moving into potential two-bid status. That’s because South Dakota (12-4) is on the cusp of contending for an at-large bid. The Coyotes have come the closest to knocking off unbeaten TCU, losing by just 5 (it was a 1-point game in the final minute). Two of their other three losses came against Duke and UCLA on the road, and they were very competitive in both contests. Rival South Dakota State (11-5) won at Ole Miss and defeated Iowa on a neutral floor, and they dropped close games to Colorado and Wichita State. Fort Wayne (9-6) is one of the most inconsistent teams in the nation, but if they ever get their act together for three consecutive games, the Mastodons could earn the automatic bid. For the second year in a row, FW clobbered Indiana, winning by 20 at Assembly Hall. They led at Kentucky until just before halftime. But, you never know what Mastodon team will show up.

Sun Belt
Most people think of this as a football conference, but the SBC is a tough mid-major basketball league as well. While there is no chance that more than one team will make it to the NCAA Tournament this year, there are three quality teams that have the talent to make it to the Round of 32. Louisiana-Lafayette (10-3) is one of the most exciting teams to watch. The Ragin’ Cajuns can press the action on both ends of the floor, and they can pound it inside with a couple of talented forwards in Bryce Washington and JaKeenan Grant. Georgia Southern (9-4), Texas-Arlington (9-4), and Georgia State (9-4) look to be the top contenders. All four of these conference foes are talented enough to win in the Round of 64. Keep an eye on UTA’s multi-talented big man Kevin Hervey. He can score inside and outside like a mini-LeBron.

Western Athletic
There are two WAC teams that nobody will want to face in a Round of 64 game, and chances are high that one of the dynamic duo will make the Dance. New Mexico State (11-3) sneaked into the Championship game of the Hawaii Diamondhead Classic after beating previously undefeated Miami. It took a deep three by USC’s Bennie Boatwright to keep the Aggies from winning the tournament. NMSU also owns an impressive double-digit win over Illinois. This is Grand Canyon’s (9-4) first year as an eligible NCAA Tournament team and former NBA great Dan Majerle has a team made up of tough competitors. GCU goes 10-deep without much drop in talent, and this team plays together with no real star. If not for some weak shooting nights, the Antelopes would be the overwhelming favorite, but for now, they remain a co-favorite.

By our count, that leaves 46 bids to be doled out to the remaining 10 conferences. We think as of today that the West Coast, Mountain West and Atlantic 10 conferences will receive just two bids. That will then leave 40 bids for the top seven leagues, or an average of 5.7 teams per power conference.

Predictions for Saturday-Sunday power conference games coming Friday afternoon



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