The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 21, 2015

NCAA 3rd Round Preview, March 21, 2015

A couple of 14-seeds have not spoiled our brackets for the most part as 14 of our 16 teams picked to make it to the Sweet 16 are still around in the Round of 32, and all 8 of our Elite 8 teams are playing today or tomorrow.  Without further adieu, here is our look at the 3rd Round.

All times given are Eastern Daylight

Saturday, March 21

12:10 PM on CBS

#11 UCLA vs. #14 UAB

Four Factors+ PiRate Criteria: UCLA has decided R+T and Strength of Schedule advantages as well as advantages in rebounding and turnovers.

PiRate Red: UCLA by 10

PiRate White: UCLA by 6

PiRate Blue: UCLA by 4

Prediction: UCLA 71  UAB 65

2:40 PM on CBS

#1 Kentucky vs. #8 Cincinnati

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Kentucky has the advantage in every category except schedule strength, but the Bearcats’ advantage here is slim.

PiRate Red: Kentucky by 14

PiRate White: Kentucky by 14

PiRate Blue: Kentucky by 14

Prediction: Kentucky 68  Cincinnati 54

5:15 PM on CBS

#2 Arizona vs. #10 Ohio St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Arizona has a considerable rebounding advantage in this game, leading to a better R+T rating, but all other factors are close enough to be considered a wash.

PiRate Red: Arizona by 7

PiRate White: Arizona by 9

PiRate Blue: Arizona by 12

Prediction: Arizona 74  Ohio St. 65

6:10 PM on TNT

#6 Xavier vs. #14 Georgia St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria:The biggest discrepancy between these two teams is schedule strength, where the Musketeers’ schedule is about 13 points per game more difficult.  Georgia State’s only real advantage and where the Panthers can exploit XU is in turnover rate.  GSU must try to force Xavier into mistakes and then capitalize on points off turnovers, or Coach Ron Hunter will be wheeling himself home for his postponed surgery.

PiRate Red: Xavier by 8

PiRate White: Xavier by 5

PiRate Blue: Xavier by 9

Prediction: Xavier 68  Georga St. 61

7:10 PM on TBS

#1 Villanova vs. #8 North Carolina St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: This game could be closer than expected for longer than expected.  Villanova’s E FG%, TO Rate, and R+T ratings are plainly better than the Wolf Pack’s, but NC State’s schedule strength neutralizes a lot of these advantages.  This is the shakiest of the #1 seeds for the weekend, even though we expect the Wildcats to eventually win by double digits.

PiRate Red: Villanova by 11

PiRate White: Villanova by 10

PiRate Blue: Villanova by 13

Prediction: Villanova 76  North Carolina St. 65

7:45 PM on CBS

#4 Georgetown vs. #5 Utah

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: The criteria forecasts a tight game with Utah having a 52% chance of winning this game.  Georgetown’s schedule strength advantage makes Utah’s statistical advantages disappear, so this one comes down to R+T rating, which the Utes have a small advantage

PiRate Red: Utah by 3

PiRate White: Utah by 3

PiRate Blue: Utah by 4

Prediction: Utah 60  Georgetown 57

8:40 PM on TNT

#4 North Carolina vs. #5 Arkansas

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: The key stats here are that UNC should fare quite well against the Arkansas pressure defense, and the Tar Heels will dominate on the glass.  Sure, there will be a couple extra turnovers, but the Tar Heels will also benefit with extra layup opportunities.

PiRate Red: North Carolina by 2

PiRate White: North Carolina by 3

PiRate Blue: North Carolina by 7

Prediction: North Carolina 75  Arkansas 71

9:40 PM on TBS

#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 Butler

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Remember that our criteria does not factor into the equation any possible intangibles such as in-state rivalries (same will go for KU-Wichita).  So, adjust your personal predictions as you see fit.  Notre Dame has the most efficient field goal shooting team in the tournament, but their defense is not in the upper half, so the Irish can become vulnerable if their shots don’t fall.  It hasn’t happened in several weeks.  Butler has the clear rebounding advantage in this game, so once again the key is whether or not Notre Dame will give the Bulldogs many opportunities to rebound missed shots.

PiRate Red: Notre Dame by 2

PiRate White: Notre Dame by 3

PiRate Blue: Notre Dame by 5

Prediction: Notre Dame 74  Butler 71

Sunday, March 22, 2015

12:10 PM on CBS

#2 Virginia vs. #7 Michigan St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Michigan State’s perpetual rebounding dominance will face a stern test from an almost equally competent rebounding squad in the Cavaliers.  This is going to be an exciting, albeit slow-paced game.  UVA’s only clear advantage here is in TO rate, so Sparty has a fighting chance at an upset.

PiRate Red: Virginia by 7

PiRate White: Virginia by 4

PiRate Blue: Virginia by 6

Prediction: Virginia 66  Michigan St. 60

2:40 PM on CBS

#1 Duke vs. #8 San Diego St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Duke can hold the Aztecs under 40% shooting and then retrieve a majority of the missed shots, and SDSU cannot really force the Blue Devils out of their comfort zone, so this game looks like an easy victory for Coach K and co.

PiRate Red: Duke by 9

PiRate White: Duke by 8

PiRate Blue: Duke by 12

Prediction: Duke 71  San Diego St. 61

5:15 PM on CBS

#2 Kansas vs. #7 Wichita St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Unfortunately, neither team is as strong as they once were, but this should still be the most exciting game of the round.  The most glaring statistic for this game is that KU has the toughest schedule strength in the Dance, while Wichita’s is near the bottom of the remaining teams.  Thus, the Jayhawks’ stats were compiled against teams that were on average about a dozen points per game better than the opponents the Shockers played.  If Wichita State is to pull off the upset, they will have to win the turnover battle by 3 or more, and Ron Baker will have to rediscover his shooting accuracy in a hurry.

PiRate Red: Kansas by 1

PiRate White: Kansas by 1

PiRate Blue: Kansas by 5

Prediction: Kansas 70  Wichita St. 68

6:10 PM on TNT

#3 Oklahoma vs. #11 Dayton

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria:  An aside to the criteria for a moment.  This is a great example of how the pace of the college game has slowed and become dull compared to how the game was played in the past.  Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has been leading college teams since the 1980’s, when he started at Pan American.  Kruger’s philosophy of the game was handed to him by his college coach Jack Hartman, who demanded tough man-to-man defense and deliberate patterned offense.  Kruger’s teams have played the same consistent style of ball throughout his 30+ year career.  When he started out, his teams were considered slow-paced compared to the rest of college basketball, but now this same style of play is near the top in pace!  68 possessions per game represented the bottom 10% then, and it now represents the top 10%.

As for this game, both teams are similar with similar positives and negatives.  For instance, both teams are rather strong on the boards and not so strong forcing turnovers.  Only the Sooners’ superior strength of schedule gives them an overall advantage, and we are a little leery of the Big 12 after Baylor, Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma State all lost with superior schedule strengths.  And, it is hard to discount a Miller brother in the Big Dance.

PiRate Red: Oklahoma by 3

PiRate White: Oklahoma by 5

PiRate Blue: Oklahoma by 3

Prediction: Oklahoma 79  Dayton 76

7:10 PM on TBS

#2 Gonzaga vs. #7 Iowa

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: The so-called experts believe that Gonzaga is a “paper lion” and very vulnerable to exiting the tournament in the opening weekend once again.  We do not buy into that argument this season, as the Bulldogs are solid and deep, much deserving of their seed.  Yes, the Hawkeyes dismantled Davidson like they were Kentucky, but consistency has not been a descriptive term for this year’s team.  Gonzaga holds a decisive E FG% advantage in this game, and Iowa does not have enough R+T (cheap basket opportunities) to counter this superiority.

PiRate Red: Gonzaga by 10

PiRate White: Gonzaga by 5

PiRate Blue: Gonzaga by 10

Prediction: Gonzaga 78  Iowa 70

7:45 PM on truTV

#1 Wisconsin vs. #8 Oregon

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: If you watched the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game between Oregon and Arizona, then you saw the Ducks’ main liability.  Arizona was too strong inside for Oregon to stop, while the Ducks did not get too many easy looks at their basket.  Wisconsin is similar to Arizona, and the same advantages apply here.  The Badgers should have little trouble advancing to the Sweet 16, but the Pac-12 did go 4-0 in the second round.

PiRate Red: Wisconsin by 12

PiRate White: Wisconsin by 9

PiRate Blue: Wisconsin by 8

Prediction: Wisconsin 73  Oregon 63

8:40 PM on TNT

#4 Maryland vs. #5 West Virginia

Note: This is a rivalry game so intangibles should be considered when you select your winner.  These teams have not played each other in more than 10 years, but they have a long history.  The players might not feel it, but the fans certainly will.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: It’s all about the press for the Mountaineers.  If the opponent has difficulty getting into their offense or turns the ball over, then WVU exploits the miscue for points.  When the opponent defeats the press for either an easy score or to the point where they can run their offense, then Huggy Bear’s team does not fare well.  Maryland appears to be the type of team that can withstand the pressure and get decent shots thanks to a couple of stars.  However, the criteria here shows a split decision.

PiRate Red: West Virginia by 1

PiRate White: West Virginia by 2

PiRate Blue: Maryland by 2

Prediction: West Virginia 74  Maryland 73 ot

9:40 PM on TBS

#4 Louisville vs. #5 Northern Iowa

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Louisville is going to have up to a half dozen extra scoring opportunities in this game thanks to rebounding and turnover rate edges, but the Cardinals are not all that accurate shooting, while NIU is rather competent here.  The Panthers will not be intimidated by the Cardinals, and UL is missing key parts of their machinery.  Again, this is a split decision in the criteria and ratings.

PiRate Red: Northern Iowa by 1

PiRate White: Northern Iowa by 2

PiRate Blue: Louisville by 3

Prediction: Northern Iowa 55  Louisville 54

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