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/
On Friday, in the 16 games played, our system went a lousy 9-7, but then the higher ranked team went 8-8, so we did one better than the chalk.
Here is our 3rd Round Preview for games to be played Sunday, March 18, 2012.
All times Eastern Daylight Time
12:15 PM CBS
#3 Georgetown (24-8) vs. #11 North Carolina St. (23-12)
PiRate Criteria Score: GU 18.4 NCSU 12.7
Georgetown has a little bit too much strength inside and excellent defense both inside and outside for the Wolf Pack in this game. The Hoyas match up with NCSU about the same way Florida State did a few weeks back. FSU controlled the game in Raleigh, and the Hoyas will control this one. However, they will never really pull away, and it should be within striking distance until the last couple of minutes.
Prediction: Georgetown 68 North Carolina St. 60
2:45 PM CBS
#1 Michigan St. (28-7) vs. #9 St. Louis (26-7)
PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 27.4 STL 14.2
Rick Majerus has taken teams with this much talent deep into the NCAA Tournament. He did it at Ball State more than two decades ago. He did it at Utah more than a decade ago. Can he repeat it a third time with the Billikens?
We say not this year. Beating Memphis was nice, but SLU will not knock off this number one seed. Michigan State has what it takes to make it to New Orleans, and with Missouri out of the bracket, the Spartans have a relatively easy road to the Final Four.
Prediction: Michigan St. 65 St. Louis 51
5:15 PM CBS
#1 North Carolina (30-5) vs. #8 Creighton (29-5)
PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 31.1* CU 15.1
* Without John Henson, subtract 4.6 points from UNC
Without Henson, the Tar Heels are beatable, but Creighton is not the team that will do it. Kansas and Georgetown have what it takes to knock off a Henson-less Carolina team, but Coach Roy Williams has enough McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster to win this game.
Dylan McDermott cannot score 35 points against the Tar Heels, and he will have to top that for the Blue Jays to be in this one at the end.
Prediction: North Carolina 85 Creighton 69
6:10 PM TNT
#7 Florida (24-10) vs. #15 Norfolk St. (26-9)
PiRate Criteria Score: UF 13.6 NSU -2.9
Norfolk State’s big upset over Missouri made headlines for just an hour or so, as the Spartans were pushed aside by Lehigh. The way NSU beat Missouri shows that they must be respected, even with a negative PiRate Criteria score, mostly due to a weaker schedule than most NCAA Tournament teams.
Florida looked more like the team that started 19-4 than the team that finished 4-6 in the blowout win over Virginia. We would have believed that the Gators would have been too quick for the Spartans, but Norfolk proved that they could handle the lightning quick Missouri team. Florida can play halfcourt defense a little better than Missouri, and the Gators can shoot the outside shot better. Additionally, Florida will hold its own on the boards in this game, and we believe Coach Billy Donovan has righted the Gator ship, and the orange and blue will continue to play like they did in the 19-4 start.
Prediction: Florida 84 Norfolk St. 72
7:10 PM TBS
#12 South Florida (22-13) vs. #13 Ohio U (28-7)
PiRate Criteria Score: USF 5.1 OU 6.5
This is the first of two Cinderella game. It is one of two third round games between double-digit seeds, and it should be a fantastic one to watch.
These teams know how to play patient, deliberate ball and tough defense. One spurt could be enough to turn this game in the spurting team’s favor. In the end, we will go with the team that we think has the better inside game, and that is the Bobcats.
Prediction: Ohio U 62 South Florida 59
7:45 PM truTV
#10 Xavier (22-12) vs. #15 Lehigh (27-7)
PiRate Criteria Score: XU 6.2 LU 5.7
This is the second of the Cinderella games mathcing teams that are double-digit seeds. Lehigh pulled off the biggest upset in NCAA play in 20 plus years, and the Mountain Hawks have a decent shot at pulling off a second upset in this almost tossup game.
Xavier is as physical as Duke, but the Musketeers are not as refined in the finer points of the game. However, they play much rougher than the Blue Devils, and Lehigh may have a tough time countering that.
Lehigh’s big star C. J. McCollum may be tough to defend, because Xavier’s guards are either too small (Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons), or Coach Chris Mack will have to put a forward (Dezmine Wells) on him. It should make for a close game.
Prediction: Xavier 67 Lehigh 61
8:40 PM TNT
#2 Kansas (28-6) vs. #10 Purdue (22-12)
PiRate Criteria Score: KU 24.0 PU 8.8
Purdue does not have the defensive acumen to slow the Jayhawks down. Kansas has enough defense to slow down Purdue, and the Jayhawks’ offense is competent enough to score consistently.
KU will eventually have trouble with a team that can wear the Jayhawks down due to KU’s bench liabilities. Purdue is not the team that can exploit that weakness.
Prediction: Kansas 77 Purdue 64
9:40 PM TBS
#3 Florida St. (25-9) vs. #6 Cincinnati (25-10)
PiRate Criteria Score: FSU 14.8 UC 9.3
This used to be a nice little rivalry in the old Metro Conference days. On Sunday, the rivalry will rekindle, and basketball fans will be treated to a rough and tumble game.
We expect a defensive struggle with low shooting percentages and low scoring. Rebounding will be the decisive statistic in this game, and Cinti cannot go head-to-head with the Seminoles.
Prediction: Florida St. 64 Cincinnati 58