The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 13, 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament Play-in and Second Round Game Previews

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:35 am

All over the country, you can feel the symptoms coming on.  By Tuesday afternoon, millions of Americans will start to feel a little run down.  By Thursday morning, millions will call in sick with that mysterious illness that strikes every March.  Yes, March Madness Syndrome is about to hit epidemic proportions again.

 

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  If you are unfamiliar with PiRate Bracketnomics, refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

 

There is a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.

 

1. Which teams satisfy all the mechanical criteria?

A. Outscored their opponents by 8 or more points per game

B. FG% Differential of 7.5% or better

C. Outrebounded their opponents by 5 or more per game

D. Either a positive turnover margin if they outrebounded their opponents by 3 or more; a turnover margin of +3 or more, if they outrebounded their opponents by less than 3; or a turnover margin of +5 if they did not outrebound their opponents.

E. 7.5 or more steals per game

F. An R+T Rating of 5 or more

G. A strength of schedule better than .5500 (from CBS Sportsline)

H. A road+neutral court W-L% of 70% or better.

 

Answer—Five teams this year match all the criteria above, meaning they have statistical resumes similar to the average National Champions of the past 50 years. These five are (in alphabetical order): Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Wichita State.

 

2. Which teams fail to meet any of the mechanical criteria?

 

Answer—Eight teams fail to satisfy any of the minimal mechanical criteria.  It should come as no surprise that Western Kentucky, with a losing record, misses the boat.  Colorado State and Long Island are not powerhouses as well.  However, how about these five teams?  Michigan, Notre Dame, Temple, Vanderbilt, and Xavier fail to meet any of the minimum requirements in any of the criteria (not counting strength of schedule).

 

3. Which teams score the highest point totals?

 

Answer—Nine teams rate at 20 or more points, while a dozen scored 18.3 or higher.  All of the national champions since Kansas in 1988 have scored 18.3 or higher using the 2012 criteria.  Since 2000, the average score for the National Champion has been 27.7, as shown below.

 

2011 UConn—18.3

2010 Duke—29.2

2009 North Carolina—31.8

2008 Kansas—34.9

2007 Florida—29.2

2006 Florida—25.2

2005 North Carolina—31.7

2004 Connecticut—29.5

2003 Syracuse—18.8

2002 Maryland—24.6

2001 Duke—30.2

2000 Michigan State—29.4

12 Champion Avg. = 27.7

 

The nine teams with scores in excess of 20 are: Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse, and Wichita State.

 

The three teams between 18.3 and 20 are: Duke, Georgetown, and Missouri.

 

Three teams come in with ratings above the 12-year average.  Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio State are the top three.

 

We strongly believe that one of these 12 teams will be your 2012 National Champion, with the top three having the best chance of all.

 

Here is a list of all 68 teams with their PiRate technical scores:

 

Team

Pts

FG% Diff

Reb

TO

R+T

SOS

Rd W-L

Total

North Carolina

7.6

3.40

6.5

0.8

5.63

4.26

3

31.1

Kentucky

8.9

5.75

4.3

0.3

3.62

1.84

4.5

29.1

Ohio St.

7.9

3.85

4.4

1.7

5.17

3.45

1.5

28.0

Michigan St.

6.5

4.90

4.8

0.0

3.74

6.05

1.5

27.4

Kansas

6.6

5.10

3.5

0.4

3.29

3.69

1.5

24.0

Wichita St.

7.7

4.65

4.0

0.4

3.52

0.28

3

23.5

Syracuse

7.1

4.00

-0.8

3.1

3.14

2.43

4

22.9

Baylor

5.4

3.15

2.9

0.3

2.82

3.62

4

22.1

New Mexico

7.1

4.15

4.0

0.5

3.71

-1.19

3

21.2

Duke

4.7

1.35

1.6

0.4

1.96

5.38

4.5

19.9

Missouri

7.3

3.15

0.4

2.1

2.90

-0.76

4

19.1

Georgetown

5.0

3.80

3.4

0.2

2.97

3.10

0

18.4

Memphis

6.1

5.50

0.9

0.7

1.86

2.66

0.5

18.2

Wisconsin

5.5

2.05

1.4

1.0

2.30

2.95

2

17.2

Saint Mary’s

6.3

2.40

4.3

0.2

3.63

-2.33

2.5

17.0

BYU

5.8

2.80

2.6

1.3

3.65

-2.28

2.5

16.3

Gonzaga

5.4

2.95

3.9

-0.2

3.00

-1.06

2

16.0

New Mexico St.

5.3

2.35

5.2

0.0

3.98

-2.91

2

15.8

Louisville

3.8

2.30

1.1

0.6

2.06

3.83

2

15.7

Marquette

4.9

2.65

-0.2

1.7

2.22

2.76

1.5

15.5

Creighton

5.3

3.55

3.7

-1.0

1.91

-2.32

4

15.1

UNLV

5.4

2.65

2.0

0.9

2.81

1.13

0

14.8

Florida St.

3.7

3.85

2.0

-0.6

1.44

3.79

0.5

14.8

Indiana

5.9

3.30

1.4

0.4

1.82

1.90

0

14.7

St. Louis

5.9

2.05

1.0

1.9

2.98

-1.47

2

14.2

Murray St.

6.5

2.80

1.1

1.3

2.59

-5.12

5

14.1

San Diego St.

4.0

2.80

2.9

0.2

2.51

0.16

1.5

14.0

Kansas St.

3.9

1.75

2.9

0.9

3.27

0.33

1

14.0

Florida

5.2

1.40

1.3

1.1

2.37

2.37

0

13.6

West Va.

2.7

-0.25

4.1

0.3

3.53

2.74

0

13.1

Vanderbilt

4.0

2.05

0.7

-0.2

0.72

3.75

2

12.9

Virginia

4.7

3.20

1.9

0.8

2.52

-1.28

1

12.8

N. Car. St.

2.7

2.25

2.6

-0.2

2.13

2.21

1

12.7

Alabama

3.4

3.20

1.6

0.4

2.00

1.85

0

12.4

Belmont

7.1

3.00

1.8

1.1

2.80

-6.41

2.5

11.8

Southern Miss.

3.3

-1.30

2.8

1.7

3.90

0.63

0.5

11.5

Harvard

5.3

3.05

2.7

0.0

2.33

-6.07

4

11.4

Davidson

5.3

1.10

4.0

0.4

3.46

-5.53

2.5

11.2

Long Beach St.

5.2

2.50

1.7

1.1

2.79

-3.22

1

11.1

Iona

5.3

2.70

0.6

1.8

2.66

-4.55

2.5

11.0

Connecticut

2.4

3.55

1.9

-0.8

0.94

4.95

-2

10.8

California

5.0

3.40

2.6

0.4

2.48

-1.33

-2

10.5

Temple

3.1

1.75

0.7

0.5

1.45

0.39

2

9.7

Texas

3.2

1.10

1.8

0.6

2.27

2.74

-2

9.6

Cincinnati

3.7

0.40

0.1

1.8

2.41

-0.52

1.5

9.3

Purdue

3.1

-0.25

-0.4

2.1

2.25

1.98

0

8.8

Michigan

2.6

1.50

-0.6

0.9

0.82

3.36

0

8.5

Iowa St.

3.3

0.70

2.8

-0.3

2.02

1.13

-2

7.6

V C U

4.3

-0.65

-0.9

3.3

3.38

-5.02

3

7.4

S. Dakota St.

5.4

1.00

1.4

1.3

2.70

-5.95

1.5

7.3

Colorado

2.6

1.95

1.9

-0.1

1.62

-0.91

0

7.0

Ohio

4.2

0.85

0.1

2.3

2.99

-5.32

1.5

6.5

Lamar

4.3

0.80

3.1

1.2

3.85

-7.18

0.5

6.5

St. Bonaventure

2.9

2.10

3.3

-0.9

1.84

-3.03

0

6.2

Xavier

1.7

2.75

1.2

0.0

1.29

1.32

-2

6.2

Colorado St.

1.3

2.00

0.6

-0.2

0.64

3.76

-2

6.1

Lehigh

5.6

1.80

1.3

1.6

2.95

-9.91

2.5

5.7

S. Florida

1.2

2.40

2.2

-1.3

0.72

1.90

-2

5.1

UNC-Asheville

5.0

2.00

0.8

1.3

2.49

-6.95

0.5

5.1

Montana

4.5

3.05

-0.3

1.2

1.52

-6.93

2

5.0

Notre Dame

2.5

1.00

-0.3

0.4

0.60

1.14

-2

3.3

Detroit

2.6

0.75

1.3

1.3

2.69

-5.53

0

3.1

Loyola (MD)

1.9

0.00

2.2

0.4

2.44

-7.10

2.5

2.3

Vermont

3.4

1.75

2.2

0.2

2.17

-9.11

1.5

2.1

Norfolk St.

1.5

1.90

1.2

-0.6

0.82

-10.75

3

-2.9

Long Island

2.3

1.50

1.5

-1.2

0.34

-8.36

0.5

-3.4

Western Kentucky

-1.5

-1.70

-0.1

-0.2

0.14

-4.31

-2

-9.7

Miss. Valley

-0.2

-1.75

0.1

0.9

1.56

-10.96

0

-10.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the same list in Alphabetical Order:

Team

Pts

FG% Diff

Reb

TO

R+T

SOS

Rd W-L

Total

Alabama

3.4

3.20

1.6

0.4

2.00

1.85

0

12.4

Baylor

5.4

3.15

2.9

0.3

2.82

3.62

4

22.1

Belmont

7.1

3.00

1.8

1.1

2.80

-6.41

2.5

11.8

BYU

5.8

2.80

2.6

1.3

3.65

-2.28

2.5

16.3

California

5.0

3.40

2.6

0.4

2.48

-1.33

-2

10.5

Cincinnati

3.7

0.40

0.1

1.8

2.41

-0.52

1.5

9.3

Colorado

2.6

1.95

1.9

-0.1

1.62

-0.91

0

7.0

Colorado St.

1.3

2.00

0.6

-0.2

0.64

3.76

-2

6.1

Connecticut

2.4

3.55

1.9

-0.8

0.94

4.95

-2

10.8

Creighton

5.3

3.55

3.7

-1.0

1.91

-2.32

4

15.1

Davidson

5.3

1.10

4.0

0.4

3.46

-5.53

2.5

11.2

Detroit

2.6

0.75

1.3

1.3

2.69

-5.53

0

3.1

Duke

4.7

1.35

1.6

0.4

1.96

5.38

4.5

19.9

Florida

5.2

1.40

1.3

1.1

2.37

2.37

0

13.6

Florida St.

3.7

3.85

2.0

-0.6

1.44

3.79

0.5

14.8

Georgetown

5.0

3.80

3.4

0.2

2.97

3.10

0

18.4

Gonzaga

5.4

2.95

3.9

-0.2

3.00

-1.06

2

16.0

Harvard

5.3

3.05

2.7

0.0

2.33

-6.07

4

11.4

Indiana

5.9

3.30

1.4

0.4

1.82

1.90

0

14.7

Iona

5.3

2.70

0.6

1.8

2.66

-4.55

2.5

11.0

Iowa St.

3.3

0.70

2.8

-0.3

2.02

1.13

-2

7.6

Kansas

6.6

5.10

3.5

0.4

3.29

3.69

1.5

24.0

Kansas St.

3.9

1.75

2.9

0.9

3.27

0.33

1

14.0

Kentucky

8.9

5.75

4.3

0.3

3.62

1.84

4.5

29.1

Lamar

4.3

0.80

3.1

1.2

3.85

-7.18

0.5

6.5

Lehigh

5.6

1.80

1.3

1.6

2.95

-9.91

2.5

5.7

Long Beach St.

5.2

2.50

1.7

1.1

2.79

-3.22

1

11.1

Long Island

2.3

1.50

1.5

-1.2

0.34

-8.36

0.5

-3.4

Louisville

3.8

2.30

1.1

0.6

2.06

3.83

2

15.7

Loyola (MD)

1.9

0.00

2.2

0.4

2.44

-7.10

2.5

2.3

Marquette

4.9

2.65

-0.2

1.7

2.22

2.76

1.5

15.5

Memphis

6.1

5.50

0.9

0.7

1.86

2.66

0.5

18.2

Michigan

2.6

1.50

-0.6

0.9

0.82

3.36

0

8.5

Michigan St.

6.5

4.90

4.8

0.0

3.74

6.05

1.5

27.4

Miss. Valley

-0.2

-1.75

0.1

0.9

1.56

-10.96

0

-10.4

Missouri

7.3

3.15

0.4

2.1

2.90

-0.76

4

19.1

Montana

4.5

3.05

-0.3

1.2

1.52

-6.93

2

5.0

Murray St.

6.5

2.80

1.1

1.3

2.59

-5.12

5

14.1

N. Car. St.

2.7

2.25

2.6

-0.2

2.13

2.21

1

12.7

New Mexico

7.1

4.15

4.0

0.5

3.71

-1.19

3

21.2

New Mexico St.

5.3

2.35

5.2

0.0

3.98

-2.91

2

15.8

Norfolk St.

1.5

1.90

1.2

-0.6

0.82

-10.75

3

-2.9

North Carolina

7.6

3.40

6.5

0.8

5.63

4.26

3

31.1

Notre Dame

2.5

1.00

-0.3

0.4

0.60

1.14

-2

3.3

Ohio

4.2

0.85

0.1

2.3

2.99

-5.32

1.5

6.5

Ohio St.

7.9

3.85

4.4

1.7

5.17

3.45

1.5

28.0

Purdue

3.1

-0.25

-0.4

2.1

2.25

1.98

0

8.8

S. Dakota St.

5.4

1.00

1.4

1.3

2.70

-5.95

1.5

7.3

S. Florida

1.2

2.40

2.2

-1.3

0.72

1.90

-2

5.1

Saint Mary’s

6.3

2.40

4.3

0.2

3.63

-2.33

2.5

17.0

San Diego St.

4.0

2.80

2.9

0.2

2.51

0.16

1.5

14.0

Southern Miss.

3.3

-1.30

2.8

1.7

3.90

0.63

0.5

11.5

St. Bonaventure

2.9

2.10

3.3

-0.9

1.84

-3.03

0

6.2

St. Louis

5.9

2.05

1.0

1.9

2.98

-1.47

2

14.2

Syracuse

7.1

4.00

-0.8

3.1

3.14

2.43

4

22.9

Temple

3.1

1.75

0.7

0.5

1.45

0.39

2

9.7

Texas

3.2

1.10

1.8

0.6

2.27

2.74

-2

9.6

UNC-Asheville

5.0

2.00

0.8

1.3

2.49

-6.95

0.5

5.1

UNLV

5.4

2.65

2.0

0.9

2.81

1.13

0

14.8

V C U

4.3

-0.65

-0.9

3.3

3.38

-5.02

3

7.4

Vanderbilt

4.0

2.05

0.7

-0.2

0.72

3.75

2

12.9

Vermont

3.4

1.75

2.2

0.2

2.17

-9.11

1.5

2.1

Virginia

4.7

3.20

1.9

0.8

2.52

-1.28

1

12.8

West Va.

2.7

-0.25

4.1

0.3

3.53

2.74

0

13.1

Western Kentucky

-1.5

-1.70

-0.1

-0.2

0.14

-4.31

-2

-9.7

Wichita St.

7.7

4.65

4.0

0.4

3.52

0.28

3

23.5

Wisconsin

5.5

2.05

1.4

1.0

2.30

2.95

2

17.2

Xavier

1.7

2.75

1.2

0.0

1.29

1.32

-2

6.2

 

 

All Times Eastern Daylight Time

 

1st Round Preview (Play-in Games)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

6:40 PM truTV #16 Seeding

Mississippi Valley State (21-12) vs. Western Kentucky (15-18)

PiRate Criteria Score: MVSU -9.7  WKU -10.4

These are the two weakest teams in the Tournament, and they should not have been paired against each other.  Both teams were outscored by their opposition.  Both teams were less accurate from the field than their opponents.  Western Kentucky’s schedule was about six points more difficult.  So, we will go with the Hilltoppers to top MVSU in a close, low-scoring game.

 

Prediction: Western Kentucky 55  Mississippi Valley St. 50

 

9:00 PM truTV #14 Seeding

Brigham Young (25-8) vs. Iona (25-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: BYU 16.3  Iona 11.0

 

Following the two weakest teams in the tournament, these two do not deserve to be in the play-in.  Both are talented enough to advance to the third round, but one will be eliminated.

 

These two teams like to move the ball and push the tempo, so this game should be interesting for the average fan. 

 

Iona is one of three teams in the field that shot above 50% from the field, but BYU allowed just 41% against their opponents.

 

Prediction: BYU 82  Iona 75

 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

6:40 PM truTV #16 Seeding

Lamar (23-11) vs. Vermont (23-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: Lamar 6.5  Vermont 2.1

 

These teams match up well, and we see another defensive struggle in Dayton Wednesday evening.  Lamar is a little better defensively, but Vermont has the better offense.  Lamar has been hot in the last month, and we believe Coach Pat Knight’s troops will survive.

 

Prediction: Lamar 67  Vermont 60

 

9:00 PM truTV #12 Seeding

California (24-9) vs. South Florida (20-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: Cal 10.5  USF 5.1

 

The so-called experts did not give much credit to the Pac-12 this year, and some even predicted one bid.  Cal is not headed to the Elite Eight, but the Bears are talented enough to make the Sweet 16. 

 

South Florida ranks dead last among the 68 teams in the Big Dance.  The Bulls average just 59 points per game, but they give up just 57 points per game.

 

Prediction: California 64  S. Florida 58

 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

12:15 PM CBS—West Regional

#6 Murray State (30-1) vs. #11 Colorado State (20-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 14.1  CSU 6.1

 

Colorado State’s schedule on average was almost 10 points better than the schedule Murray State played, but 10 points is not enough to make up the difference between these two teams.  The Racers are the best low-major team in the tournament, and they are actually the Las Vegas favorite in this game.

 

The Rams are one of the handful of teams that fail to meet the minimum requirements in any of the PiRate Criteria.  Teams like that do not advance past the first weekend, and we do not see CSU bucking that trend.

 

Prediction: Murray State 74  Colorado State 65

 

12:40 PM truTV—East Regional

#8 Kansas State (21-10) vs. #9 Southern Mississippi (25-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: KSU 14.0  USM 11.5

 

Kansas State is a physical team that relies on muscle with just a touch of finesse to win.  When they play a team that is soft inside, they usually win.  When they play a team that can pound the ball inside, they do not fare so well.

 

Southern Mississippi is not physical enough inside to put a scare into the Wildcats.  The Golden Eagles have troubles getting open shots inside, and this will doom them to a quick exit in the tournament.

 

Prediction:  Kansas State 69  Southern Miss. 57

 

1:40 PM TBS—West Regional

#4 Louisville (26-9) vs. #13 Davidson (25-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: UL 15.7  Dav. 11.2

 

This game could be quite exciting.  Louisville plays tenacious defense, and they have to stop the opponent’s offense, because the Cardinals’ cannot score a lot of points. 

 

Davidson can score points—a lot of them.  The Wildcats defeated Kansas in the regular season and almost knocked off Vanderbilt.  Don’t be surprised if they take Pitino’s troops to the wire with a chance to win in the final minutes.

 

Prediction: Louisville 68  Davidson 65

 

2:10 PM TNT—East Regional

#4 Wisconsin (24-9) vs. #13 Montana (25-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: UW 17.2  Mont. 5.0

 

Wisconsin has the number one scoring defense in the nation at just under 53 points per game, while the Badgers average 11 points more per game.  Opponents hit only 38.3% from the field against UW.  Coach Bo Ryan employs a deliberate style of play, where his team may hold onto the ball for 30 seconds on many possessions.  Opponents get frustrated and tend to rush their offense, which plays right into Wisconsin’s gameplan.

 

Montana has the talent to keep this game close, but we do not believe the Grizzlies can maintain their composure for 40 minutes of tranquilizer ball.  UW will commit fewer than 10 turnovers and take no more than three or four ill-advised shots.  Montana will force their offense a few too many times, and that will be their downfall.

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 65  Montana 51

 

2:45 PM CBS—West Regional

#3 Marquette (25-7) vs. #14 BYU or Iona

PiRate Criteria Score: Marq 15.5  BYU 16.3 or Iona 11.0

 

This could be a trap game.  If BYU is the opponent, the Cougars have a better PiRate Criteria score than Marquette.  Iona is not that much weaker than the Golden Eagles, so Marquette would have a tough game if they have to play the Gaels.

 

Marquette’s one big weakness is rebounding, where opponents best them by a small amount. 

 

Prediction: BYU 74  Marquette 69 (or Marquette 69  Iona 63)

 

3:10 PM truTV—East Regional

#1 Syracuse (31-2) vs. #16 UNC-Asheville (24-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: Syr 22.9  UNCA 5.1

 

What we have here is a classic mismatch.  UNC-Asheville is an offense first team.  The Bulldogs surrendered 71.3 points per game and allowed 44.4% shooting from the field against teams that were on average nine points weaker than the opponents Syracuse played.

 

Syracuse will find little trouble scoring inside with Fab Melo being seven inches taller than the man that will guard him.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 84  UNCA 62

 

4:10 PM CBS—West Regional

#5 New Mexico (27-6) vs. #12 Long Beach State (25-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNM 21.2  LBSU 11.1

 

Long Beach State didn’t catch a break in their bracket.  New Mexico is a sleeper to make it past the first weekend. 

 

The Lobos have an excellent combination of size and speed, as well as quality depth and excellent coaching.  On the other hand, the 49ers have an excellent starting five that will not be intimidated by New Mexico.  LBSU played a tough schedule that included games against Kansas, Xavier, North Carolina, San Diego State, Louisville, and Kansas State.

 

The infamous #12 seed produced a lot of upsets in past years, and this looks like one that is possible.  However, New Mexico is capable of making a run to the Final Four, and we will call for a Lobo win.

 

Prediction: New Mexico 76  Long Beach State 70

 

4:40 PM TNT—East Regional

#5 Vanderbilt (24-10) vs. #12 Harvard (26-4)

PiRate Criteria Score: VU 12.9  Harv 11.4

 

In the early 1980’s DePaul was a number one or two seed for three consecutive years and lost in their first tournament game (before there were 64 teams and #16 seeds).  Each year, underdogs upset them in the final minutes.

 

Vanderbilt has endure the same history in the 21st Century, losing first round games three times in a row to Siena, Murray State, and Richmond.

 

Harvard may be better than the three teams that upset the Commodores in the first round.  The Crimson are another dubious 12-seed looking to pull off the upset, and Tommy Amaker’s crew has the talent to pull it off.

 

Vanderbilt failed to meet even one of the minimal PiRate Criteria stats, although they missed by a whisker on point differential (7.9).

 

Harvard has no weakness.  The only area where they are inferior to the Commodores is in schedule strength, where Vandy’s schedule was 10 points per game harder. 

 

Both teams have something going against them in this game.  Harvard will have not played for 12 days, while Vanderbilt will have to travel to Albuquerque three days after beating Kentucky in New Orleans, their third game in three days.

 

Prediction: Vanderbilt 62  Harvard 59

 

6:50 PM TBS—South Regional

#1 Kentucky (32-2) vs. #16 Mississippi Valley State or Western Kentucky

PiRate Criteria Score: UK 29.1  MVSU -9.7  or WKU -10.4

 

Kentucky’s players will begin the tournament with chips on their shoulders.  They will be out for blood, at least in the first 10 minutes of this game.

 

Regardless of the opponent, this game will be over by the under 12:00 minute media timeout.  Kentucky could double the score if Coach John Calipari left his starters in long enough. 

 

Prediction: Kentucky 89  Mississippi Valley 60  or Kentucky 83  Western Kentucky 52

 

7:15 PM CBS—South Regional

#5 Wichita State (27-5) vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth (28-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: Wich 23.5  VCU 7.4

 

This should be an interesting game.  Wichita State  has an excellent half-court game with expertise both inside and outside.  Virginia Commonwealth is a full-court terror, but they cannot compete on the boards.

 

VCU will force a lot of turnovers and pick up a lot of steals, but Wichita State will not wilt and fall apart.  The Shockers do not turn the ball over all that much, and they can dominate on the glass.

 

This game will come down to a test of shooting accuracy.  WSU has much better shooters, and they will end any chance of the Rams making another huge run.

 

Prediction: Wichita State 77  Virginia Commonwealth 72

 

7:20 PM TNT—East Regional

#7 Gonzaga (25-6) vs. #10 West Virginia (19-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: Gonz. 16.0  WVU 13.1

 

The field of 64 or second round has several interesting games this year, and this will definitely be one of them.  Gonzaga is the second best team from the West this year, but the Bulldogs have a few holes.  They can be stopped by physical inside teams or teams that play an excellent zone defense.

 

West Virginia has a rebuilding team this year, but Coach Bob Huggins has produced the maximum out of a young squad; defense has gotten the job done.

 

We saw two years ago that the Mountaineers could play an awesome zone defense to upset Kentucky.  Expect a combination of zone and sagging man-to-man, and WVU should control the inside game.

 

As for Gonzaga, the Bulldogs have a couple of outside shooters that can get hot and shoot an opponent out of the gym.  They can run the fast break and get a dozen “cheap points” in a game.

 

We believe this is close to a 50-50 toss-up game. 

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 72  West Virginia 70

 

7:27 PM truTV—South Regional

#3 Baylor (27-7) vs. #14 South Dakota State (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Bay 22.1  SDSU 7.3

 

The Bears are a dark horse team.  Three Big 12 teams could advance deep into the tournament, and Baylor is one of them.  This is a team capable of going on big runs, outscoring opponents 12-2 in a five-minute stretch.

 

South Dakota State is not a pushover.  The Jackrabbits can pass, shoot, and rebound.  Their weakness is on the defensive side, and Baylor will be able to exploit it for a couple of big runs.

 

Prediction: Baylor 74  South Dakota State 60

 

9:20 PM TBS—South Regional

#8 Iowa State (22-10) vs. Connecticut (20-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: ISU 7.6  UConn 10.8

 

Neither team is going to advance to the Sweet 16, as the winner will be fodder for Kentucky on Saturday.

 

Iowa State was the surprise of the Big 12 under first year coach Fred Hoiberg.  Royce White is a player to watch; he can do it all.

 

Connecticut has some rough edges, but the Huskies have the parts to compete with the Kentucky’s and Syracuse’s of the world.  However, this is not last year’s team, and nobody on the roster can carry them for six games.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 68  Iowa State 63

 

9:45 PM CBS—South Regional

#4 Indiana (25-8) vs. #13 New Mexico State (26-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: IU 14.7  NMSU 15.8

 

We smell an upset here.  New Mexico State dominates on the glass, and the Aggies should neutralize Indiana post man Cody Zeller.  NMSU has been turnover prone at times this year, but Indiana has not been a ball-hawking team this year. 

 

Both teams shoot the ball well, and both are fairly good on defense.  What concerns us is that Indiana relies too much on the three-point shot, and in unfamiliar gyms, outside shooting can be a problem in the first half. 

 

Prediction: New Mexico State 71  Indiana 66

 

9:50 PM TNT—East Regional

#2 Ohio State (27-7) vs. #15 Loyola (Md) (24-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: OSU 28.0  Loy 2.3

 

How can we entice you to watch this game?  How about this tidbit of information?  Loyola played Kentucky in Lexington in December.  They lost by 24 points, but until the end of the first half, the Greyhounds were within a couple of points.

 

Ohio State will eventually run the Greyhounds out of the gym, but we believe this game could be exciting for 10-15 minutes.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 76  Loyola (Md) 54

 

9:57 PM truTV—South Regional

#6 U N L V (26-8) vs. #11 Colorado (23-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNLV 14.8  CU 7.0

 

Here is another excellent study of contrasts.  UNLV passes the ball like a team from the 1980’s.  The Runnin’ Rebels are not that far away from being considered an Elite 8 contender.  They shoot, rebound, and play good defense. 

 

Colorado won the Pac-12 Tournament with a swarming defense and an ability to hit the glass.  The Buffs do not have enough offense to make a long stay this year. 

 

Prediction: UNLV 70  Colorado 59

 

Friday, March 16, 2012

12:15 PM CBS—East Regional

#6 Cincinnati (24-10) vs. #11 Texas (20-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: Cinti 9.3  UT 9.6

 

According to the PiRate Criteria score, this game should be close and could go to overtime.

 

Unlike Bearcat teams of yore, this Cincinnati squad is not an overpowering inside monster.  UC relies on tenacious defense and a strong perimeter game with one good inside presence in Yancy Gates.  Teams have difficulty matching the Bearcats’ 4-out, 1-in offense.

 

Texas just barely qualified as an at-large in what is a rebuilding process for Coach Rick Barnes.  The Longhorns are almost a one-man team.  If J’Covan Brown does not score 20 points, the burnt orange don’t win.

 

Flip a coin for this one; it could come down to the last shot of the game.

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 69  Texas 68

 

12:40 PM truTV—Midwest Regional

#6 San Diego State (26-7) vs. #11 North Carolina State (22-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: SDSU 14.0  NCSU 12.7

 

Here is yet another interesting game that should be close.  The Aztecs were not expected to return to the Dance for the second consecutive year, but Coach Steve Fisher reloaded rather than rebuilt.  SDSU’s starting five is high quality similar to the talent the Wolf Pack face in the ACC.  The Aztec bench is lacking, and teams can wear their starters down.

 

North Carolina State has better depth, but the starting five is not as strong as the Aztec starting five.  Defense can be a problem at times, and one spurt allowed in a close game can be fatal.

 

Because the timeouts are longer in the NCAA Tournament, we believe fatigue will not be a major problem in this game, and SDSU will benefit from one big spurt.

 

Prediction: San Diego State 75  North Carolina State 68

 

1:40 PM TBS—Midwest Regional

# 8 Creighton (28-5) vs. #9 Alabama (21-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: Crei. 15.1  Ala. 12.4

 

Here is another great study in contrasts.  Creighton is all about offense, while Alabama is all about defense.

 

The Blue Jays have the best offensive threat in the tournament in Doug McDermott, the 21st Century Larry Bird. 

 

Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant suspended four players in February, and eventually reinstated three of the quartet.  Since that time, ‘Bama lost four of their last 10 games, following a 15-7 start.  The Tide never fully recovered, and they enter this tournament playing more like a team that should be in the NIT.

 

Prediction: Creighton 70  Alabama 62

 

2:10 PM TNT—West Regional

#7 Florida (23-10) vs. #10 Virginia (22-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: Fla. 13.6  Virginia 12.8

Yet another “yin-yang” game, Florida has the shooters, and Virginia has the defenders.  Florida is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, while Virginia is one of the best three-point defensive teams.

 

Both teams enter the tournament with injury issues.  Virginia may only be able to use two off the bench, but the Cavaliers will slow the game down and rely on the longer timeouts to keep from getting winded.

 

Florida coach Billy Donovan will try to speed up the pace and press.  If the Cavs can handle the Gator pressure, UVa will win.  If not, then the Gator chomp will be seen in Omaha around 3:00 PM local time.

 

Prediction: Florida 62  Virginia 56

 

2:45 PM CBS—East Regional

#3 Florida State (24-9) vs. #14 St. Bonaventure (20-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: FSU 14.8  SBU 6.2

 

Not many, if any, teams have defeated North Carolina and Duke two times each in a year where both powers were top 10 teams.  The Seminoles can defend and rebound.  They have a tendency to turn the ball over a bit too much, and they are not the most fluent team on offense.

 

St. Bonaventure is a smaller mirror of FSU.  They defend well, rebound tenaciously, and turn the ball over too much.  Their offense tends to stall at times.

 

We’ll go with the bigger fish in this game.

 

Prediction: Florida State 65  St. Bonaventure 55

 

3:10 PM truTV—Midwest Regional

#3 Georgetown (23-8) vs. #14 Belmont (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Rating: GU 18.4  BU 11.8

 

In recent years, Georgetown lacked the rebounding and ball-hawking ability to advance very far in the Tournament.  This year is completely different.  This Hoya team has the talent to make it to New Orleans.

 

This Hoya team can shoot the ball, and like all Georgetown teams, they can force off-target shots and can block shots.  GU can rebound like the old Alonzo Mourning-Dikembe Mutombo and Pat Ewing teams.  While they don’t force a lot of turnovers, they don’t commit many either.

 

Belmont has twice given Mike Krzyzewski a nervous stomach, losing by one in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago and by one in Durham this year.  The Bruins rely on a lot of three-point shots, and that style of play rarely works in the Big Dance.  Big men Scott Saunders and Mick Hedgepath will be neutralized by Georgetown’s deep inside presence, and this game will not be all that close.

 

Prediction: Georgetown 71  Belmont 51

 

4:10 TBS—Midwest Regional

#1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. #16 Lamar or Vermont

PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 31.1  Lam. 6.5  VT 2.1

 

The Tar Heels have the highest criteria score, but they do not meet the minimum requirements in every category.  They just miss on field goal percentage margin with a margin of 6.8%.  However, they are the most dominating rebounding team in the nation, and they can monopolize on those rebounds with a devastating fast break.

 

The injury to forward John Henson will not stop UNC in the first weekend.  If he recovers fully, this team could finish the season on a six-game winning streak.

 

The play-in winner will be overwhelmed and intimidated by the most explosive team in the Dance.  This game will be over within five to eight minutes.  UNC will have a comfortable lead by the second media timeout. 

 

Prediction: North Carolina 102  Lamar 67 or North Carolina 89  Vermont 50

 

4:40 TNT—West Regional

#2 Missouri (30-4) vs. #15 Norfolk State (25-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: MO 19.1  Norf. -2.9

 

Okay, there is nothing we can do to encourage you to watch this game.  It could be the biggest mismatch of the second round.  Missouri likes to run, and the Tigers can score a lot of points in a little time.  Even though the Tigers are up-tempo, they take care of the ball and do not turn it over.  Their one weakness comes inside against teams that can control the tempo and be physical in the paint.

 

Norfolk State actually has a huge size advantage, but the Spartans lack the talent to exploit Missouri’s liability.  NSU turns the ball over too much, and Missouri will take advantage of these miscues with several easy baskets.

 

Prediction: Missouri 92  Norfolk State 66

 

6:50 PM TBS—West Regional

#8 Memphis (26-8) vs. #9 St. Louis (25-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Mem 18.2 Stl 14.2

 

These former rivals once again feature dissimilar assets.  Coach Josh Pastner has Memphis playing much like his former mentor Lute Olsen’s Arizona teams.  The Tigers move the ball with meaning and get a lot of open shots.  MU’s field goal accuracy is a hair under 50%, and it has been improving as of late.  The Tigers grudgingly yield baskets, holding opponents to 38.4% from the field.

 

For the Billikens, it’s defense first, second, and third.  SLU holds opponents to 57.5 points a game, and they force a goodly amount of turnovers for the pace they play.  Coach Rick Majerus has enjoyed success against the “Arizona offense” in the past, but this is not the past.  SLU does not have the talent to go head-to-head with the Tigers for 40 minutes. 

 

Prediction: Memphis 67  St. Louis 58

 

7:15 PM CBS—South Regional

#2 Duke (27-6) vs. #15 Lehigh (26-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Duke 19.9  Leh. 5.7

 

In Durham, even when Duke is not up to its normal standards, the Blue Devils are still contenders to advance to the Final Four.  While we believe the Blue Devils will fall in the second weekend this year, the first weekend is no problem.  They have the horses to win the two claiming races they will play in Greensboro.

 

Lehigh is one of the better Patriot League representatives to come along in recent years, but this is not Bucknell vs. Kansas of a few years ago.

 

Prediction: Duke 82  Lehigh 58

 

7:20 TNT—Midwest Regional

#4 Michigan (24-9) vs. #13 Ohio U (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Mich. 8.5  Ohio 6.5

 

It is our opinion that Michigan is ripe for the picking this weekend.  The Wolverines win games with the jump shot.  They lack any rebounding strength, yet they do not force enough turnovers to get extra scoring opportunities.  If their outside shooting is on target, they can compete with most of the teams in the tournament.  If their outside shooting is not on target, the Ohio’s of the tournament can beat them and even beat them handily.

 

The Bobcats are strong on defense, and they can limit the Wolverines’ outside shooting.  If they had any legitimate offensive threat, we would go with Ohio in this game.  However, this team may not have the offensive power to take advantage of a cold Wolverine shooting night.

 

Prediction: Michigan 66  Ohio 62

 

7:27 truTV—Midwest Regional

#7 Saint Mary’s (27-5) vs. #10 Purdue (21-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: SMU 17.0  PU 8.8

 

Saint Mary’s is the top team in the West, and the Gaels have a legitimate chance to advance to the Elite 8 if injured big guard Stephen Holt can return from an injury to his knee.

 

Purdue knows all about injuries to the knee.  Star forward Robbie Hummel missed two seasons.  Like Alabama, Purdue has suffered since a former starter was booted from the team.  The Boilermakers are not going to make it through the first weekend, and we see them being one and done.

 

Prediction: Saint Mary’s 75  Purdue 65

 

9:20 PM TBS—West Regional

#1 Michigan State (27-7) vs. #16 Long Island (25-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 27.4  LIU -3.4

 

Michigan State can be defeated by a team that can force turnovers and change the pace of the game.  Not many opponents that try to go head-to-head with them in an inside power game will come away happy.  The Spartans can hoist the big banner if they catch a break and avoid teams like Missouri and Syracuse.

 

Long Island might have been more competitive against MSU had this been last year, but the Blackbirds just don’t have the talent to pull off an upset or even keep this game close.

 

Look for Michigan State to gradually pull ahead and lengthen their lead until Coach Tom Izzo empties the bench.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 72  Long Island 50

 

9:45 PM CBS—South Regional

#7 Notre Dame (22-11) vs. #10 Xavier (21-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: ND 3.3  Xav. 6.2

 

Neither team is all that impressive, and the winner will be gone Sunday after losing to Duke.

 

Notre Dame is a poor shooting team overall, but the Irish defense is strong.  Coach Mike Brey wants a snail’s pace, half-court game, because his players cannot get into a running game and win. 

 

Xavier’s chances for a big year went down the drain in a melee against in-town rival Cincinnati.  The Musketeers have been a .500 team since that brawl, and they were undefeated when it happened.  Had performance in the last 10 games still counted, the Selection Committee would have selected someone else and left Xavier to the NIT.

 

Xavier’s Tu Holloway should guide his team to a victory, but that’s as far as Xavier is going.

 

Prediction: Xavier 60  Notre Dame 56

 

9:50 TNT—Midwest Regional

#5 Temple (24-7) vs. #12 California or South Florida

PiRate Criteria Score: TU 9.7  Cal 10.5  USF 5.1

 

If Coach Mike Montgomery’s Bears win the play-in game, a second round Temple-Cal match would be one of the best of the day.  Both teams feature excellent perimeter play with just enough inside presence to keep defenses honest.

 

If USF beats Cal, a second round game with Temple will be a different kettle of fish.  It will be more of a dull, grind-it-out affair.  We believe the Owls will have little trouble defeating this style of play.

 

Prediction: California 73  Temple 69 or Temple 64  South Florida 54

 

9:57 truTV—Midwest Regional

#2 Kansas (27-6) vs. #15 Detroit (22-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: KU 24.0 Det. 3.1

 

This will not be the basketball version of “Remember The Titans.”  These Titans from Detroit are just happy to be here.  They will be home Saturday morning. 

 

Kansas is liable to double up on the rebounding numbers in this game.  A two to one edge on the boards is a certain victory.  Thomas Robinson could outrebound Detroit’s starting five!

 

Look for a quick and easy blowout in this game, but make no mistake about this: Kansas is vulnerable after this weekend.

 

Prediction: Kansas 79  Detroit 55

 

 

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