The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 9, 2017

Conference Tournament Update–Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Dance Teams

Only one conference champion was decided Wednesday night, as Bucknell took care of business in the Patriot League with a home win over Lehigh.  The Bison have upset higher-seeded teams in the past, and they own a road win at Vanderbilt this year.  They cannot be overlooked.

There are no automatic bids up for grabs today.


Thursday Morning Mimosas

Break out the bubbly, or the Bubble teams.  Today, a host of Bubble teams will be in action.  Let’s look at what happened last night and what games affect the Bubble today.


Clemson played a sloppy game and lost to Duke, and the Tigers are now NIT-Bound.  Coach Brad Brownell could be skating on thin ice, as CU fans do not tolerate losing for long.  The football national championship may provide just enough Soma for the fans to forgive the basketball program for one more year.

Wake Forest lost to Virginia Tech, but the Demon Deacons should be okay for an at-large bid.  Wake plus Syracuse should join the eight quarterfinal teams to give the ACC 10 teams in the field, but there is no guarantee that either Wake Forest or Syracuse will get an at-large bid should other leagues start producing surprise winners.


Big 12

Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State are safely in the field.  Kansas State is on the Bubble and needs an additional win or more.  The Wildcats are in action tonight against Baylor, and an upset over the Bears would go a long way in getting the guys from the Little Apple in the field.  A loss would put K-State in serious jeopardy of missing the tournament


Big East

Xavier was almost safely in the field a month ago before injuries sent the Musketeers on a downward slide to the point where they began the Big East Tournament on the Bubble.  Last night, Xavier had to come from behind to defeat bottom-feeder DePaul, and the win should probably earn the Musketeers a bid, but an upset win over Butler tonight would definitely be their elixir.

At 2:30 PM Eastern Time today, Marquette and Seton Hall face off in what could almost be called a fifth First Four game.  The winner of this game will move to the highest shelf on the Bubble seed line, while the loser will have to sweat it out until Sunday afternoon hoping that teams like Nevada and Middle Tennessee win their tournaments.

Providence faces Creighton in the nightcap of today’s Big East action, and a Friar win most likely cinches their Dancing destination.  A loss would knock them down a few notches to where they too would have to do a little sweating for three days.


Big Ten

We are probably being a bit cautious here, but we feel the need to based on the preliminary 4-deep seeds issues a month ago that failed to include a single team from this league.  So, with the belief that the committee has discounted the success of the Big Ten this year, we are placing teams we would consider safe in other years as not-so-safe this year.

Michigan and Michigan State would be safe if we were the committee, but the Wolverines and Spartans may not be as safe as one might think.  This should be an interesting day in D.C. with the first three games on the slate directly affecting the Bubble.  At Noon Eastern, Michigan plays Illinois.  Illinois could still get into the at-large mix with a big run this weekend, while Michigan can wrap up a safe spot with a win today.

The next game features Michigan State playing Penn State.  The Spartans and Nittany Lions hooked up in January at the Palestra in Philadelphia, and Penn State played its best game of the season, beating Sparty by nine and leading for about 39 minutes.  A repeat performance in the nation’s capital would cause Coach Tom Izzo to open the Maalox bottle.

The 6:30 PM Eastern game pits Iowa and Indiana.  The Hawkeyes are much closer than the Hoosiers into becoming part of the Bubble mix, but both teams need multiple wins.  A loss by Indiana could be the last time you see Coach Tom Crean coaching IU in a meaningful game.


Conference USA

Middle Tennessee is the current top mid-major team if you do not count Gonzaga and Wichita State as mid-majors.  The Blue Raiders are better this year than they were last year when they upset Michigan State in the second round.  However, an early exit upset loss today would probably make MTSU the top seed in the NIT.  They face 9-seed UTSA in the quarterfinal round today at 12:30 PM Eastern.  If MTSU loses in the CUSA Championship Game, the Blue Raiders would be 29-5 and a strong at-large candidate.


Mountain West

Nevada is right there with Middle Tennessee in the mid-major Bubble group.  The Wolf Pack can ill afford to lose today to Utah State, and if the boys from Reno advance to the MWC Championship Game and lose to a good team (Boise State or Colorado State), Nevada would be in the conversation at Committee Central.



California and USC both looked like NIT teams yesterday, but the Bears and Trojans escaped with ugly wins over the bottom two teams in the league.  Both may have a little work to do to convince the Committee of their worthiness.  Cal could earn a lot of brownie points with a win over Utah today, while USC could virtually clinch a bid if they can beat UCLA tonight, giving the Trojans two out of three wins against the Bruins.



This is the toughest league to figure out, basically because the one true Bubble team is such an anomaly.  Vanderbilt enters tonight’s game with Texas A&M with a 10-8 league mark and 17-14 record overall.  The SEC is not a top 5 league this year, but it is still a power league.  Four teams know they will get invitations, and Vanderbilt beat three of the four, including a sweep over Florida.  The Commodores beat Iowa State out of the league, and their six non-conference losses came to teams that should all be in the Tournament (Marquette, Dayton, Bucknell, Middle Tennessee, Butler, and Minnesota.)

Vanderbilt swept both the Aggies and Gators, and they will have to make it three for three against both teams to advance to the semifinals, where at that point, the Commodores would be expected to be safe.  However, there is the issue of 15 losses, which VU would have if they do not win the automatic bid.  Seven of our 13 Gurus believe Vandy is on the good side of the Bubble starting today, while six say they are a #1 NIT Seed entering today.  Coach Bryce Drew’s club definitely needs to beat A&M again tonight.  A loss puts the Commodores probably a spot below Illinois State and Syracuse.

Georgia might still have an at-large hope if the Bulldogs can top Tennessee today and then pull off the big upset of Kentucky tomorrow.

Does Ole Miss still have a chance?  We are quite bearish on the Rebels’ chances, but if Andy Kennedy’s team can get on a run and make it to Sunday, and then lose a close game to Kentucky, at 22-13, they might have a slim chance.  We’ll believe it when we see it.


Tournaments Beginning Action Thursday


American Athletic Conference Tournament–Hartford,CT
First Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 Temple 16-15 vs. 9 East Carolina 14-17 3:30 PM ESPNU
2 7 Tulsa 14-16 vs. 10 Tulane 6-24 6:00 PM ESPNNews
3 6 Connecticut 14-16 vs. 11 South Florida 7-22 8:00 PM ESPNNews
Quarterfinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
4 1 SMU 27-4 vs.   Game 1 winner   12:00 PM ESPN2
5 4 Central Florida 20-10 vs. 5 Memphis 19-12 2:00 PM ESPN2
6 2 Cincinnati 27-4 vs.   Game 2 winner   7:00 PM ESPNU
7 3 Houston 21-9 vs.   Game 3 winner   9:00 PM ESPNU
Semifinal Round, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
8   Game 4 winner   vs.   Game 5 winner   3:00 PM ESPN2
9   Game 6 winner   vs.   Game 7 winner   5:00 PM ESPN2
Championship Game, Sunday, March 12
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
10   Game 8 winner   vs.   Game 9 winner   3:15 PM ESPN


Big West Conference Tournament–Anaheim
Quarterfinal Round–Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 2 UC-Davis 19-12 vs. 7 Cal Poly 11-19 3:00 PM FSW
2 3 Cal St. Fullerton 16-13 vs. 6 Cal St. Northridge 11-18 5:30 PM FSW
3 1 UC-Irvine 19-13 vs. 8 UC-Riverside 7-20 9:00 PM Prime
4 4 Long Beach St. 14-18 vs. 5 Hawaii 14-15 11:30 PM Prime
Semifinal Round–Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5   Game 1 winner   vs.   Game 2 winner   9:30 PM ESPN3
6   Game 3 winner   vs.   Game 4 winner   12:00 AM ESPN3
Championship Game–Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7   Game 5 winner   vs.   Game 6 winner   11:30 PM ESPN2


Western Athletic Conference Tournament–Las Vegas
Quarterfinal Round–Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 4 Utah Valley 14-15 vs. 5 Seattle 13-16 5:00 PM WAC Digital
2 2 New Mexico St. 25-5 vs. 7 Chicago St. 6-25 7:30 PM WAC Digital
3 3 Missouri-KC 16-15 vs. 6 UT Rio Grande Valley 10-21 10:00 PM WAC Digital
Semifinal Round–Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
4 1 Cal State Bakersfield 21-8 vs.   Game 1 winner   9:00 PM ESPN3
5   Game 2 winner   vs.   Game 3 winner   11:30 PM ESPN3
Championship Game–Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
6   Game 4 winner   vs.   Game 5 winner   11:00 PM ESPNU


Today’s Tournament Schedule

Time (ET) Network Conference Team vs. Team
3:30 PM ESPNU American Temple vs. East Carolina
6:00 PM ESPNNews American Tulsa vs. Tulane
8:00 PM ESPNNews American Connecticut vs. South Florida
12:00 PM ESPN ACC North Carolina vs. Miami (Fla.)
2:00 PM ESPN ACC Louisville vs. Duke
7:00 PM ESPN ACC Florida St. vs. Virginia Tech
9:00 PM ESPN ACC Notre Dame vs. Virginia
12:00 PM NBCSN A-10 LaSalle vs. Davidson
2:30 PM NBCSN A-10 St. Bonaventure vs. Massachusetts
6:00 PM NBCSN A-10 George Mason vs. Fordham
8:30 PM NBCSN A-10 George Washington vs. St. Louis
12:30 PM ESPN2 Big 12 Iowa St. vs. Oklahoma St.
2:30 PM ESPN2 Big 12 Kansas vs. TCU
7:00 PM ESPNU Big 12 West Virginia vs. Texas
9:00 PM ESPNU Big 12 Baylor vs. Kansas St.
12:00 PM FS1 Big East Villanova vs. St. John’s
2:30 PM FS1 Big East Marquette vs. Seton Hall
7:00 PM FS1 Big East Butler vs. Xavier
9:30 PM FS1 Big East Providence vs. Creighton
3:05 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky North Dakota vs. Portland St.
5:35 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky Idaho vs. Montana
8:35 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky Eastern Washington vs. Sacramento St.
11:05 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky Weber St. vs. Southern Utah
12:00 PM BTN Big Ten Michigan vs. Illinois
2:20 PM BTN Big Ten Michigan St. vs. Penn St.
6:30 PM ESPN2 Big Ten Iowa vs. Indiana
8:50 PM ESPN2 Big Ten Northwestern vs. Rutgers
3:00 PM FSW Big West UC-Davis vs. Cal Poly
5:30 PM FSW Big West Cal St. Fullerton vs. Cal St. Northridge
9:00 PM Prime Big West UC-Irvine vs. UC-Riverside
11:30 PM Prime Big West Long Beach St. vs. Hawaii
12:30 PM ASN CUSA Middle Tennessee vs. UTSA
3:00 PM ASN CUSA UTEP vs. Rice
6:30 PM ASN CUSA Louisiana Tech vs. UAB
9:00 PM ASN CUSA Old Dominion vs. Marshall
12:00 PM ESPN3 MAC Akron vs. Eastern Michigan
2:30 PM ESPN3 MAC Ball St. vs. Western Michigan
6:30 PM ESPN3 MAC Ohio U vs. Toledo
9:00 PM ESPN3 MAC Buffalo vs. Kent St.
6:00 PM ESPN3 MEAC Morgan St. vs. Howard
8:00 PM ESPN3 MEAC Hampton vs. Md.-Eastern Shore
3:00 PM CBSSN MWC Nevada vs. Utah St.
5:30 PM CBSSN MWC Fresno St. vs. New Mexico
9:00 PM CBSSN MWC Colorado St. vs. Air Force
11:30 PM CBSSN MWC Boise St. vs. San Diego St.
3:00 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 Oregon vs. Arizona St.
5:30 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 Utah vs. California
9:00 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Colorado
11:30 PM ESPN Pac-12 UCLA vs. USC
1:00 PM SECN SEC Georgia vs. Tennessee
3:20 PM SECN SEC Alabama vs. Mississippi St.
7:00 PM SECN SEC Vanderbilt vs. Texas A&M
9:20 PM SECN SEC Ole Miss vs. Missouri
6:00 PM ESPN3 Southland Houston Baptist vs. Sam Houston St.
8:30 PM ESPN3 Southland Stephen F. Austin vs. Lamar
5:00 PM WAC Digital WAC Utah Valley vs. Seattle
7:30 PM WAC Digital WAC New Mexico St. vs. Chicago St.
10:00 PM WAC Digital WAC Missouri-KC vs. UT Rio Grande Valley


Teams With Automatic Bids

Teams Earning Automatic Bids
Ohio Valley Conference: JACKSONVILLE ST. (20-14)
Big South Conference: WINTHROP (26-6)
Missouri Valley Conference: WICHITA ST. (30-4)
Atlantic Sun Conference: FLORIDA GULF COAST (26-7)
Colonial Athletic Association: UNC-WILMINGTON (29-5)
Southern Conference: EAST TENNESSEE ST. (27-7)
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: IONA (22-12)
Horizon League: NORTHERN KENTUCKY: (24-10)
Northeast Conference: MOUNT ST. MARY’S (19-15)
Summit League: SOUTH DAKOTA ST. (18-16)
West Coast Conference: GONZAGA (32-1)
Patriot League: BUCKNELL (26-8)




Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: