The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 20, 2017

The Pirate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Report For February 20, 2017

Championship Fortnight starts in just one week! Can you believe it? It has been a quick season this year, and depending on where you live, the weather outside might make you feel like Major League Baseball opening day starts in just one week. However, the Spring-like temperatures and rain that has produced the early return of daffodils, honeysuckle, redbud tree blooms and the budding out of oak, hickory, and ash trees, and which has given the lawn services an early bonanza with grass-cutting galore, might fool some of the people into believing Spring has arrived a month early, but most of the people know the cold hard facts. Those poor little plants are going to be in for a rude awakening when the yet to arrive cold spell blankets them with a late snow or a hard freeze. It might be 75 degrees today, but by the 12th of March, there is sure to be a surprise or two or ten to the vegetation.

Just like the weather, the fortnight of conference championships in men’s college basketball will produce its own surprises by March 12, Selection Sunday. That low-major conference team that today has a three-game lead over its nearest rival may find itself becoming the recipient of not an automatic NCAA bid, but an automatic NIT bid, when the fourth place team gets hot for three days. That mid-major team that underachieved and struggled to finish fourth in its conference may be ready to put it all together and win three games in three days to save the coach’s job.

What about that team from the big conference that will go 7-11 or 5-13 or even 2-14 in league play and then get on a roll while the top teams enjoy byes? It has happened before. Connecticut got hot at the right time a few years back and won five games in five days. For good measure, the Huskies then won six more to take the national title back to Storrs.

Many of you readers were not yet born in 1976, but it was quite an interesting season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC had just seven teams then, as South Carolina had left the league and Georgia Tech had not yet joined. Of the seven teams, four were ranked in the top 20–North Carolina, Maryland, North Carolina St., and Wake Forest. It was a lean year in Durham, as Duke was the last place team. The Blue Devils would return to prominence in two more years.
Second to last place Virginia won just four ACC games during the regular season, but nobody, not even the ranked ACC teams, beat them by more than eight points. Top-seeded North Carolina, who has stayed in the Top 5 for the entire season, only beat UVA by two in Chapel Hill and by three in Charlottesville.
When the seven teams convened in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament, Virginia was faced with the task of having to beat the #3 seed and #15 nationally North Carolina St. in the quarterfinals, then most likely the #2 seed and #9 nationally Maryland in the semifinals, and then most likely top seed and #4 nationally North Carolina in the Championship Game. If the Cavs lost at all, not only would they not be in the NCAA Tournament in what was then just a 32-team field, but they would not make the NIT either.
Up to this point, no team with a conference record under .500 had ever won the ACC Tournament, and only one team had ever won it with a .500 mark in league play. In almost every season since the ACC formed in 1952-53, either the first or second place team had won the conference tournament.
On the opening night of the tournament, Virginia came out hustling on defense and controlling the boards. North Carolina State could not get uncontested shots and turned the ball over against the tough pressure man-to-man defense the Cavs played. It was a huge upset, as Virginia cruised to a 12-point victory to move into the semifinals. The other top teams relished the fact that the Wolf Pack had been put out, as State had recently been the dominant team in the league.
In the semfinals, Maryland was a prohibitive favorite over the Cavaliers, even though the Terps had needed to fight and claw their way to a three-point and eight-point victory. But, the Terps had played a tough overtime game over last place Duke the night before, and they came out a bit sluggish. Virginia, playing with nothing to lose, took command in the second half and pulled away to a double digit lead before Maryland cut it to eight points at the buzzer. Now UVA had made it to the finals, expected to be fodder for North Carolina and their cavalcade of star players, seven of whom would become future NBA players, including the entire starting five: Phil Ford, Walter Davis, Mitch Kupchak, Tom Lagarde, and John Kuester.
Virginia had a pair of future NBA players in Wally Walker and Marc Iavaroni, and on this afternoon, the Cavaliers got support from a host of players destined to work in the real world when they graduated. Coach Terry Holland kept possessions at a minimum, and Virginia once again played exceptional team defense, as the Cavaliers completed the sweep of top three teams, beating Carolina by five points to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a record of 16-11.

Lightning almost struck twice for the Cavs. In 1977, they finished just 2-10 in ACC play and once again faced a road where they would have to beat three ranked teams to win the ACC Tournament. They came really close, knocking off #2 seed Wake Forest and #3 seed Clemson before falling late to #1 seed North Carolina in the Championship Round.

So, if your team won just four conference games or even two this season, there is still hope. It can happen.

By this time next week, the Atlantic Sun will be set to begin conference tournament play, with the Big South and Patriot League just one day away from commencing play. You do not have to go searching for the conference tournament schedules, as we will have it all here for you.

Today, we give you the schedules for every conference tournament, as well as the list of who is ineligible (due to transitioning to Division 1, low Academic Progress Rate, or Infractions), and the format each conference tournament will have. For instance, if you see a conference tournament format of “12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (The top 4 teams receive 1st round byes),” then you know that on the opening day of the tournament, seed 5 will play 12, 6 will play 11, 7 will play 10, and 8 will play 9. The winners of those four games will then join the 4 receiving byes to continue play in the quarterfinals.


Conference Site Dates Format
America East Higher Seeds March 1, 6, 11 UMass-Lowell Ineligible 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
American Athletic Hartford, CT March 9-12 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (Top 5 get 1st round byes)
Atlantic 10 Pittsburgh March 8-12 14 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-10 get 1st round byes)
Atlantic Coast Brooklyn March 7-11 15 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-9 get 1st round byes)
Atlantic Sun Higher Seeds Feb 27, March 2 & 5 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Big 12 Kansas City March 8-11 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Big East New York March 8-11 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Big Sky Reno March 7, 9-11 N. Colorado Ineligible 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 5 get 1st round byes)
Big South Campus Sites (1) Feb 28, March 2-3,5 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Big Ten Washington, D.C. March 8-12 14 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-10 get 1st round byes)
Big West Anaheim, CA March 9-11 CSU-Northridge & Hawaii are ineligible 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Colonial Athletic North Charleston, SC March 3-6 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Conference USA Birmingham March 8-11 Top 12 Qualify 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Horizon Detroit March 3-7 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Ivy Philadelphia March 11-12 Top 4 Qualify 4 to 2 to 1
Metro Atlantic Albany March 2-6 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 ((top 5 get 1st round byes)
Mid-American Cleveland (2) March 6, 9-11 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Mideastern Athletic Norfolk, VA March 6-11 Savannah St. Ineligible 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Missouri Valley St. Louis March 2-5 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Mountain West Las Vegas (@UNLV) March 8-11 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 ((top 5 get 1st round byes)
Northeast Higher Seeds March 1, 4, 7 Top 8 Qualify 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Ohio Valley Nashville March 1-4 Top 8 Qualify 8 to 6 to 4 to 2 to 1 (Top 2 seeds get double bye/#3 & 4 get byes)
Pac-12 Las Vegas March 8-11 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Patriot Higher Seeds Feb 28, Mar 2, 5, 8 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Southeastern Nashville March 8-12 14 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-10 get 1st round byes)
Southern Asheville, NC March 3-6 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Katy, TX
March 8-11
Abilene Chr. and Incarnate Word Ineligible Top 8 Qualify 8 to 6 to 4 to 2 to 1 (Top 2 seeds get double byes, #3 & 4 get 1st round bye)
Southwestern Athl. Houston (3) March 7, 10-11 Alcorn St. Ineligible 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Summit Sioux Falls, SD March 4-7 Top 8 Qualify 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Sun Belt New Orleans March 8, 10-12 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
West Coast Las Vegas March 3-7 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Western Athletic Las Vegas March 9-11 Grand Canyon Ineligible 7 to 4 to 2 to 1 (#1 seed gets bye to semifinals)
(1) Big South Tournament 1st round will be played at higher seeds. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played at #1 seed, and then the
championship game will be played on the home court of the higher seeded team
(2) The Mid-American 1st round will be played at higher seeds. The remaining 3 rounds will be played in Cleveland
(3) Southwestern Athletic Tournament 1st round will be played at higher seeds. Semifinals and Finals will be played in Houston


The Bracketology Gurus And Their Headaches
Our Gurus tell us this week that they are having a tough time with the Bubble. They tell us there is too much medicority this season, and that after the top 30 teams, there are about 120 others that differ by so little. You have teams with some nice talent but they have never put it all together. You have some teams like the 1976 Virginia team that have the potential to win, but they have lost a lot of close ones in conference play. Then, you had the committee putting out its list of top 16 teams last week, and it looked like they reverted to the old bracket-selection method where the RPI ratings mattered more than it should.

Our Conference Breakdown
It is our personal opinion that conference records should matter for something. If the 6th place team in one conference gets an at-large bid because they played a tough non-league schedule, while the 3rd place team in the same conference does not get a bid, this just seems foolish to us. The third place team played the same conference schedule as the 6th place team and finished three places ahead in the standings. For example, there are some bracketologists (not our gurus) that have Michigan seeded higher than Maryland due to having such a tough schedule. The Terps are 10-4 in the Big Ten, while Michigan is 7-7. And, Maryland won at Michigan! Worse, Michigan gets rewarded for playing a tougher Maryland than Maryland gets for playing a weaker Michigan. It is nonsense! Conference action should mean a lot more than it does, especially when you look at the power conferences. If a team finishes 3 games ahead of another team in one of these conferences, there should be no discussion about which team is better. The number three team in a power conference is always better than the number seven team, no matter what the RPI or any other rating says.

Now that our rant is over, let’s look at each conference.


American East
Vermont 14-0/24-5
Stony Brook 12-2/17-10
Albany 9-5/18-11
UMBC 8-6/17-10
New Hampshire 8-6/17-11

Vermont’s 16-game winning streak has not come without some bumps in the road. The Catamounts close out the regular season with home games against Albany and Stony Brook, and just one more win or one Stony Brook loss will give Vermont home court advantage for the tournament. The Catamounts have outscored their conference foes in Burlington by an average of 17.2 points per game, so it is going to be quite a challenge for another team to keep the Catamounts out of the Dance. At 29-5, Vermont could move up to as high as a 10-seed and probably not lower than a 13-seed.

Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast 11-2/22-7
Lipscomb 10-3/18-12
South Carolina Upstate 7-6/17-13
Kennesaw St. 7-6/13-16
North Florida 7-6/12-18

The A-Sun is another league where all conference tournament games are played on the home floor of the higher-seeded team. FGCU split with Lipscomb, but each team won on the other team’s home floor. Both the Eagles and Bisons have played well on the road this year, so home court advantage may not be all that pertinent if these two teams advance like they should.

Big Sky
North Dakota 12-3/17-8
Weber St. 11-3/16-9
Eastern Washington 10-4/18-9
Montana 9-6/14-14
Montana St. 9-6/14-14
Idaho 8-6/13-12

With 12 wins in their last 14, including a sweep of Weber State, North Dakota looks like a tough out, but the FIghting Hawks are not prohibitive favorites to grab the Big Sky Conference Tournament Title, just slight favorites. This league has some balance, and there are five or six rivals capable of beating UND. 10th place Northern Arizona at 4-10/7-20 beat North Dakota in Flagstaff after earlier in the season leading the Hawks in the second half in Grand Forks.

Big South
UNC-Asheville 14-2/22-7
Winthrop 13-3/21-6
Liberty 13-3/18-11
Gardner-Webb 9-7/16-13

This league may be just a small pond in the scheme of things, but there are a couple of potential piranhas swimming around in UNCA and Winthrop. If the top two teams meet in the championship game of the tournament, expect an exciting must-watch affair. They had to go to two overtimes when they played 11 days ago in Asheville, with UNCA winning 104-101.

Big West
UC Irvine 9-3/16-12
UC Davis 8-4/16-11
Long Beach St. 8-5/13-16
Cal St. Fullerton 7-5/13-12

UC-Irvine has not secured the top seed just yet, as the Anteaters close with three losable games in their last four. Long Beach and Fullerton are two teams of notice, as they have the talent to win the conference tournament and appear to be starting to gel at the right time.

Colonial Athletic
UNC Wilmington 13-3/24-5
College of Charleston 12-4/21-8
Towson St. 11-5/19-10
Elon 9-7/17-12
William & Mary 9-7/15-12

A month ago, it was a foregone conclusion that UNCW would waltz back to the NCAA Tournament, but the Seahawks hit a spell where they looked very vulnerable. They lost to three of the top contenders in William & Mary, Charleston, and Elon, and the William & Mary defeat was by 18 points. UNCW faces Towson State in Wilmington Thursday night, and a win will most likely secure the top-seed, but this conference tournament has become an interesting one to watch, as the Seahawks do not look like a sure thing now. Another thing that could distract UNCW is the fact that Coach Kevin Keatts is considered a strong candidate in the North Carolina State opening. That won’t be the only school that shows an interest in the former Louisville assistant with a proven record in recruiting.

Conference USA
Middle Tennessee 14-1/24-4
Louisiana Tech 12-3/20-8
Old Dominion 9-5/16-10
UTEP 9-5/11-15
Rice 8-6/18-9
Marshall 8-6/15-12

After a 14-1 run in their last 15 games, and with wins at Ole Miss and Belmont as well as a neutral site win in Nashville over UNC-Wilmington and a slaughter at home over Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee could almost be considered a legitimate at-large team should they fail to win the CUSA Tournament, but the Blue Raiders probably needed to add a road win over VCU, and they came up short. If they do win out to enter the Dance at 30-4, they could very well be the higher seed in their first tournament game. After losing by 10 at Middle, Louisiana Tech has quietly reeled off six consecutive wins to sew up second place in the league.

Valparaiso 12-3/22-6
Oakland 11-4/21-7
Wright St. 10-5/19-9
Green Bay 10-5/16-11
Northern Kentucky 9-6/18-10

Oakland swept Valpo, winning both games by double digits, and the Grizzlies now own a six-game winning streak after yesterday’s victory over UIC. Wright St. is the other hot team with a four game winning streak and an 8-2 record in their last 10. Green Bay can go on big scoring spurts, and if they are hot for three days, they can put the rest of the field away. It should be an interesting semifinals and finals in the Horizon.

Princeton 10-0/17-6
Harvard 8-2/16-7
Yale 6-4/14-9
Penn 4-6/11-12
Columbia 4-6/10-13
Cornell 3-7/7-18
Dartmouth 3-7/6-17
Brown 2-8/11-15

Why have we included all eight teams in this write-up? The inaugural Ivy League Tournament will be a four-team event. At the present time, Princeton and Harvard have wrapped up half the spots. Yale was almost safe until the Bulldogs stumbled against Princeton and Penn at home to fall out of race for the top. They are still a good bet to get to the Palestra. The fight for spot number four is up for grabs, and even last place Brown is still very much alive, since Columbia has taken a dive with four consecutive losses, while Penn has won four straight to pull into a tie for the fourth spot. This coming weekend is a big one, as Yale visits Harvard and Princeton visits Columbia Friday Night. Penn is on the road for games with Cornell and Columbia. Dartmouth gets two big home games, and by next Monday, a 3-7 team could be 5-7 with the number four spot in sight.

Metro Atlantic
Monmouth 15-2/23-5
Saint Peter’s 12-6/16-12
Iona 11-7/18-11
Siena 11-7/14-15
Canisius 10-8/17-12
Fairfield 9-8/14-12

With a 13-game winning streak, Monmouth has already clinched the regular season title for the second consecutive year. Last year, the Hawks looked like a team that could do a little damage in the NCAA Tournament. They beat UCLA USC, Notre Dame, and Georgetown on the way to a 25-6 regular season record, but Iona beat them in the MAAC Tournament Championship Game, and Monmouth had to settle for an NIT berth, where they lost to George Washington in the second round. This year, the biggest wins the Hawks own are over Memphis and Princeton. Monmouth might win the MAAC Tournament, but this does not look like a team capable of winning in the NCAA Tournament. And, there are five other teams in the MAAC that could send the Hawks back to the NIT.

Akron 12-2/22-5
Ohio 9-5/17-8
Buffalo 9-5/15-12
Kent St. 7-7/15-12

Ball St. 8-6/17-10
Toledo 7-7/14-13

Akron looked invincible in league play until recently, and now the Zips have dropped two games, including a home game against Kent St. that ended Akron’s 30-game winning streak. The team that beat Akron last year in the MAC Championship Game is the hot team in the league. Buffalo has won six games in a row and eight out of ten with both of the losses coming on the road by one point. The Bulls might be the team to beat at this moment. The West Division is all aflutter. At one point in the season, Eastern Michigan was number one and Western Michigan was in last place. Now, EMU is in last, and WMU is in second just a game behind Ball St.

Mideastern Athletic
UNC-Central 11-1/20-6
Norfolk St. 11-2/14-13
Hampton 8-4/11-14
Morgan St. 8-4/11-14

UNC-Central gives the MEAC a fighting chance to avoid a first-four game in Dayton if the Eagles win the MEAC Tournament. If UNCC gets there, they will be quite a headache for their opening game opponent, because Coach LeVelle Moton’s teams play defense like the players are magnetized to their opponents. Central almost always finishes among the national leaders in points allowed and defensive FG%, and this year is no different. Norfolk State has made the 2017 MEAC race a two-team runaway, but they did not challenge Central in their only meeting this year.

Mountain West
Nevada 10-4/21-6
Boise St. 10-4/17-8
Colorado St. 10-4/18-9
New Mexico 9-6/16-11
San Diego St. 8-6/16-10
Fresno St. 8-7/16-11
San Jose St. 7-7/14-11

This will be a very interesting conference tournament, and there will be all kinds of gossip going on backstage and at official events. Colorado State is currently in a three-way tie for first in the MWC, but they could be forced into making a head coaching change. Larry Eustachy, the former Iowa State head coach who lost his job to do fraternizing with college coeds, has seen his name splattered throughout the news for allegations that he berated and belittled players, calling them all sorts of names. He already had a zero-tolerance policy in place in Fort Collins, so it could be reason to terminate his contract just as he has a team on the cusp of taking the top seed in the conference tournament.

There’s more to this league than just the controversy. Boise State coach Leon Rice is beginning to draw notice from bigger conference teams. There are rumors he could be in the mix at North Carolina State, but there will be other openings in March, and the former Gonzaga assistant will get serious consideration, after making the Broncos a perennial contender in the MWC. Another coach that could draw consideration for a higher-profile job is Nevada’s Eric Musselman, who also has experience coaching the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in the NBA.

Then, there is the old man by the sea. San Diego State’s Steve Fisher has a national title and two other Final Fours in his past experience, and his Aztecs are starting to play like the defensive powerhouses in recent years that saw SDSU make it to the Elite 8. In their recent 14-point victory over Nevada, they held the Wolfpack under 30% shooting from the field.

Mount St. Mary’s 13-3/15-14
Long Island 11-5/18-11
Wagner 10-6/14-12
St Francis (PA) 9-7/12-15
Fairleigh Dickinson 9-7/11-16

Mount St. Mary’s is up two games with two games to play, but one of those two games comes against second place LIU, so the Mountaineers still have a little bit of work to do to wrap up home court advantage throughout the tournament (All NEC Tournament games are played on the home floor of the higher seeds. Wagner has won six of their last seven, including a four-point win over MSM. The Seahawks beat Connectictut earlier this year, and they only lost at MSM by a point.

Ohio Valley
Belmont 14-1/20-5
Jacksonville St. 9-5/17-12
Morehead St. 9-5/13-14
Tennessee St. 8-7/17-11
Tennessee Tech 7-7/11-18

UT Martin 8-6/18-11
Murray St. 8-6/14-14
SE Missouri St. 8-6/13-16

Only the top eight teams qualify for the tournament, and as of this morning, the eight teams we have shown above seem to have their berths secured. Belmont’s lone loss came at Tennessee Tech. The Bruins have been in the Dance seven times in the last 11 years, but they are 0-7 in those seven trips. Jacksonville St. has played better away from home than at home, so this could be a plus for the Gamecocks. They did lose at Belmont by 17 points.

Bucknell 13-3/21-8
Boston U. 11-5/16-12
Lehigh 10-6/16-11
Navy 10-6/15-13

Bucknell has impressive non-conference road wins against Vanderbilt and Richmond, but the Bison were swept by Lehigh. Although they will have home court advantage as long as they stay alive in the Patriot League Tournament, they are still vulnerable against teams that can dominate on the glass.

Furman 13-3/20-9
East Tennessee St. 12-3 /22-6
UNC-Greensboro 11-4/20-8
Chattanooga 10-5/19-8

It was a rude awakening as Furman’s 10-game winning streak ended with a 21-point home loss to UNCG Saturday. The Paladins must get over that one quickly, because they must travel to Johnson City to take on ETSU Wednesday night with first place up for grabs. Any of the top four could win this tournament, and the SoCon tends to come up with champions that were not the top seed.

New Orleans 11-3/16-9
Stephen F. Austin 10-4/15-11
Texas A&M-CC 9-5/16-9
Sam Houston St. 9-6/18-10
Houston Bapt. 8-6/13-12

Sam Houston had the lead in the SLC before losing four of their last five games. Meanwhile, the other contenders above have all enjoyed some nice winning streaks as the race heads into its final week. UNO and SFA have won four consecutive games. HBU has won five in a row, and TACC has a seven-game streak.

Southwestern Athletic
Texas Southern 11-2/15-11
Southern 9-5/13-14
Grambling 7-7/12-15
Jackson St. 7-7/11-16

The SWAC Champion is going to be in the First Four in Dayton unless multiple upset winners from other low-major conferences force them into the second round. The hottest team in the league is Alcorn State, as the Braves have a nine-game winning streak. Alas, they are ineligible for postseason play this season.

North Dakota St. 10-4/18-9
South Dakota 10-4/19-10
Denver 8-6/16-11
Fort Wayne 7-7/18-10
Omaha 7-7/14-13

South Dakota is peaking at the right time. The Coyotes look like the best team in the league in February, and the tournament will be played up the road in Sioux Falls, but USD will have a lot of competition in this competitive league.

Sun Belt
UT Arlington 10-3/20-6
Arkansas St. 10-4/19-8
Georgia Southern 10-4/17-10
Georgia St. 9-5/16-10
Texas St. 8-5/15-10

With a four-game winning streak and eight wins in the last nine outings, UTA has vaulted past its rivals into first place. The Mavericks have the signature win among the SBC teams this year, as they are the only team besides Gonzaga to have beaten Saint Mary’s. The last two conference tournament champions (UALR and Georgia State) went on to upset power conference teams in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Western Athletic
Cal St. Bakersfield 10-1/19-7
New Mexico St. 9-2/23-4
UM-Kansas City 7-4/15-13

In their current eight-game winning streak, CSUB has limited its opponents to just 59.3 points per game. Not only do the Roadrunners hold opponents to 38% shooting from the field, they win the battle of the boards and the turnover margin with consistency. It’s hard to beat a team when they only let you shoot one time per possession and keep you under 40% from the field. Bakersfield went on a 17-0 run to almost win at Arizona, and they led SMU in Dallas, before the Mustangs went on a run to win by six, so if the Roadrunners make the Dance, they will go down fighting, if they go down at all in their first game.


American Athletic
In: SMU 14-1/24-4, Cincinnati 13-1/24-3
Bubble: None

Houston’s chance to move into consideration fell when they could not pull off the upset of SMU.

Atlantic 10
In: Dayton 12-2/21-5, VCU 12-2/22-5
Bubble: Rhode Island 9-5/17-9

URI won at George Mason over the weekend, and the Rams have a big game against VCU on Saturday.

Atlantic Coast
In: North Carolina 11-3/23-5, Louisville 10-4/22-5, Duke 10-4/22-5, Notre Dame 10-5/21-7, Florida St. 9-5/21-6, Virginia 8-6/18-8
Bubble: Miami 8-6/18-8, Virginia Tech 7-7/18-8, Georgia Tech 7-7/16-11, Syracuse 8-7/16-12, Wake Forest 6-9/15-12, Pittsburgh 4-10/15-12

The ACC figures to send nine teams to the Dance, and at the moment Miami and Virginia Tech are in as Bubble teams, while Georgia Tech is right there on the cut-off line with a few others. Check the seeding below to see if the Gurus agree.
Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Pitt look like strong NIT candidates at this time. The ‘Cuse has a strenuous closing schedule that includes games with Duke and Louisville, and the Orangemen will have to upset one of the two to have a chance.

Big 12
In: Kansas 12-2/24-3, Baylor 9-5/22-5, West Virginia 9-5/21-6, Iowa St. 9-5/17-9
Bubble: Oklahoma St. 7-7/18-9, TCU 6-8/17-10, Kansas St. 6-8/17-10, Texas Tech 5-9/17-10

Oklahoma State started the year in conference play at 0-6, and now the Cowboys look like Sweet 16 material. Coach Brad Underwood should receive consideration for National Coach of the Year in his first season in Stillwater. With a mediocre Bubble to say the least, it figures that the Big 12 will be a conference that can send a team with a losing league record to the Tournament. Texas Tech had a golden opportunity to move onto the good side of the Bubble after upsetting Baylor, but the Red Raiders could not complete the deal at West Virginia, following previous one-point losses the week before to TCU and Kansas. TTU must finish 3-1 in the league and then win at least a game in the B12 Tournament.

Big East
In: Villanova 13-2/26-2, Butler 10-5/21-6, Creighton 9-5/22-5
Bubble: Xavier 8-6/18-9, Marquette 7-7/16-10, Seton Hall 6-8/16-10

Injuries have hit this conference hard. Xavier looked like a Final Four contender before injuries to their top two players weakened the Musketeers to the point where they may have to sneak into the field. One of those injuries, to top player Trevon Bluiett, is not season-ending, so when (if) he returns to 100% health, Xavier should recover somewhat.

Marquette is right there in the final tier of teams hovering on the last in line. Coach Steve Wojciechowski has become the top former Coach K assistant, and when he finally lands a couple of aircraft carriers that can attack the glass, Marquette is going to return to its glory it acheived under Al McGuire–if another school doesn’t steal him away (like Duke if Coach K retires).

Big Ten
In: Wisconsin 11-3/22-5, Purdue 11-3/22-5, Maryland 10-4/22-5, Northwestern 9-5/20-7, Minnesota 8-6/20-7
Bubble: Michigan St. 8-6/16-11, Michigan 7-7/17-10

The Selection Committee did not think much of this league last week, and we have to believe that their feelings go deeper than just the top of the conference. If Wisconsin and Purdue did not garner four-seeds, it stands to reason that the Michigan teams are not in as of now. We do not think Michigan State is going to make it now after losing Eron Harris to a season-ending knee injury that looked gruesome in the Spartans’ loss to Purdue. Michigan hurt their chances in their overtime loss to Minnesota, and the Wolverines are going to have to win a couple of road games (close with 3 of 4 on the road) to get back in the good graces of the Dance judges.

Missouri Valley
Wichita St. 15-1/25-4
Illinois St. 15-1/23-5
In: Whichever team wins Arch Madness
Bubble: Whichever team does not win Arch Madness

If you put the top teams not in the Power Conferences and put them in a super Mid-Major league (Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Wichita State, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee, Monmouth, UNC-Wilmington, Boise St., and others), the two Valley teams would finish in the upper half of the standings and probably beat Gonzaga on their home floors. Both the Shockers and Redbirds are good enough to advance to the second weekend of the tournament, and the only reason they both won’t be in the NCAA Tournament would be political. The Committee will not be able to explain excluding one of the MVC powers over a 12 or 13-loss team from a power league. It would be a lot easier if both teams won out until the Championship Game of the MVC Tournament.

In: Arizona 14-1/25-3, Oregon 13-2/24-4, UCLA 11-3/24-3
Bubble: California 9-5/18-8, USC 8-6/21-6, Utah 8-7/17-10

When you live east of the Mississippi River, you sometimes discount the teams on the West Coast because you don’t always see these teams play. However, the Buckaroos on the PiRate Ship have tuned in enough games to hear Bill Walton in our sleep. The “Conference of Champions” has three really good teams, but all three must take a back seat to that team up in the Inland Empire of Northeast Washington. UCLA just abused rival USC over the weekend. While the City of Angels flooded from the heavy rains, UCLA clouded up and rained all over the Trojans in a 102-70 pasting.

The Trojans were not the only team to take a beating and hurt their at-large chances. Cal travelled across the Bay and lost to rival Stanford, while Utah most likely received a lethal dagger in their upset loss to an Oregon State team that entered the game with a record of 0-14/4-23.

In: Florida 12-2/22-5, Kentucky 12-2/22-5, South Carolina 10-4/20-7, Arkansas 9-5/20-7
Bubble: Alabama 9-5/16-10, Tennessee 7-7/15-12

We removed a couple teams from the Bubble list, as Georgia and Auburn failed to pick up victories they had to have. Alabama is not on a lot of other folks’ bubble, but the Crimson Tide has a favorable schedule that could find them 12-5/19-10 before their regular season finale at Tennessee. If Alabama wins out and then makes it to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, we feel that the Selection Committee would have to give Avery Johnson’s club serious consideration for one of the final spots in the Dance, especially if there are no big upset champions in other power leagues. Half of their losses came to teams that will be in the Tournament (Dayton, Oregon, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas).

Tennessee is in a position where they most likely must win out to finish 11-7/19-12, and then the Vols will have to win at least one SEC Tournament game. This means that only one of the two Bubble teams from the SEC actually has a chance to make the Tournament.

West Coast
In: Gonzaga 16-0/28-0, Saint Mary’s 14-2/24-3
Bubble: None

Saint Mary’s wrapped up their at-large bid with an impressive weekend win at BYU. The only possible fly in the ointment would be if BYU, San Francisco, or Santa Clara played lights out and made a run to the WCC Tournament title, but at this point we think the San Diego Padres have a better chance of winning 110 games and then sweeping through to the World Series title than any team other than Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s has of winning the WCC Tournament.

The Bracketology Gurus Seeding For February 20, 2017
1. Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina
2. Baylor, Arizona, Oregon, Louisville
3. Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Florida St.
4. UCLA, West Virginia, Butler, Purdue
5. Virginia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Wisconsin
6. Creighton, SMU, Saint Mary’s, Maryland
7. Minnesota, South Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma St.
8. Dayton, VCU, Xavier, USC
9. Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Iowa St., Arkansas
10. Wichita St., Michigan, Michigan St., Kansas St.
11. Middle Tennessee, Marquette, California, Seton Hall, Syracuse
12. Illinois St., TCU, Boise St., UNC-Wilmington, UT-Arlington
13. Vermont, Monmouth, Florida Gulf Coast, Oakland
14. Belmont, UNC-Asheville, Princeton, Akron
15. Bucknell, Cal St. Bakersfield, South Dakota, East Tennessee St.
16. UC-Irvine, North Dakota, UNC-Central, Stephen F. Austin, Texas Southern, Mount St. Mary’s

First Four in Dayton
11: Seton Hall vs. Syracuse
12: TCU vs. Illinois St.
16: North Dakota vs. Mount St. Mary’s
16: Stephen F. Austin vs. Texas Southern

Last Four Byes
California, Marquette, Kansas St., Michigan St.

First Four Out
Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Rhode Island

Next Four Out
Providence, Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee

Note: Georgia Tech, TCU, Syracuse, Seton Hall, and Illinois St. all finished within two points of each other in our Guru tabulation. We would call this a very close Bubble. Texas Tech and Wake Forest are only four and five points back. Now, you see why our baker’s dozen of Gurus have headaches. Maybe, the fact that all the flowers are blooming and the trees are budding as the temperature challenges 80 degrees has something to do with it as well, since the Guru that just texted said he has a runny nose, watery eyes, and needs a new box of tissues.



  1. Hi,

    I signed up through over a week ago but my account is still pending approval. Is that site working? I was hoping to see NCAA game ratings/predictions throughout the week instead of just weekend games that get posted on Fridays or whatever you do. Do you post only the weekend games or do you track other days as well?


    Comment by KG — February 21, 2017 @ 10:07 am

    • Hello KG. If you will notice on the Webs address, all pages there have a notice and link sending you to this site. We began to have serious uploading issues at that site and plan to eventually cancel it unless it can be rectified. Everything we release to the public is at this site.

      We would love to be able to post ratings and spreads for all 351 teams and for every college game, but the process for compiling our basketball ratings must be done from scratch after every game played. It allows us to rate any team any time without rating that team all the time, because the ratings are not adjusted by game scores like most ratings you will see. Our ratings are based on the “Four Factors” and other PiRate exclusive components. Just figuring 35 games a week is already taxing us, as five of us handle seven games each most weeks. Our founder is a professional baseball metric specialist and gets quite busy with the Cactus League this time of year, so we have to cover for his being too lazy to work 7-days and 85-hour weeks instead of 70-hour weeks at his fossilized age.

      The good news is that we will cover all the NCAA Tournament games and have extended coverage for the Conference Tournaments with additional Bracketology Gurus reports.

      Thank You for your patronage and enjoy the rest of the season.

      Comment by piratings — February 21, 2017 @ 10:57 am

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