The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 19, 2018

PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus Report for February 19, 2018

An interesting weekend of basketball following an interesting mid-week schedule only could move the needle a little bit in our Gurus’ minds.  Only a couple teams moved into the field replacing a couple of others, while the seed lines saw minimal movement.

Some conferences will wrap up regular season play by the end of the week, and the first conference tournaments will commence next week.  Once the first conference tournaments conclude, we will begin to update our bracketology daily, as long as our 14 gurus continue to supply their picks to us daily.

Our gurus were the best in the nation last year, as they correctly picked the entire 68-team field on the morning of Selection Sunday.

Our Gurus are using the same data and statistics available to the Selection Committee.  Each of the 14 independently sends us his/her (12 his’s and 2 her’s) 68 teams with seeds.

We then calculate the average in a multiple step manner.

  1. For every at-large team that is not on one of the gurus’ rosters, we give them a seed of 20, as a punishment for not being included.  So, if 10 gurus list State U as the 12 seed, while four gurus do not include State U, then State U receives a score of 200 (12 x 10) + (4 x 20).
  2. Each team is given a score, and the lowest X number of scores get in the field.
  3. Many automatic qualifiers from one bid leagues have higher scores than some of the at-large teams.  Since one team must go from each league, we eliminate the highest qualifying scores to accommodate these automatic qualifiers.
  4. The gurus do not always agree on which automatic qualifier to put for the one-bid leagues.  We go with the majority.  For instance, this week 9 gurus listed Murray State to represent the Ohio Valley Conference, while 5 gurus listed Belmont.  We chose Murray St.  In the rare instance of a tie, like we had this week with Savannah State and North Carolina A&T in the MEAC, we went with Savannah State, because they have the higher PiRate Rating this week.
  5. The four at-large qualifiers with the highest scores (lower scores are better) become the First Four teams that are seeded to play in Dayton.  The four automatic qualifiers with the highest scores are the four #16-seed teams that get seeded to play in Dayton.
  6. In the event that we do not receive a report from one or two gurus, we will go with what we have.  If the number ever drops under 10, then the members of the PiRate Ratings substitute with our own picks.  Otherwise, the PiRates do not have a vote in this report.

Here are this week’s Bracketology Gurus’ Picks

Seed Team Conference
1 Villanova B-East
1 Virginia ACC
1 Xavier B-East
1 Kansas B12
2 Duke ACC
2 Auburn SEC
2 Purdue BTen
2 North Carolina ACC
3 Michigan St. BTen
3 Texas Tech B12
3 Cincinnati AAC
3 Clemson ACC
4 Arizona Pac12
4 Tennessee SEC
4 West Virginia B12
4 Wichita St. AAC
5 Ohio St. BTen
5 Gonzaga WCC
5 Rhode Island A-10
5 Texas A&M SEC
6 Kentucky SEC
6 Oklahoma B12
6 Arizona St. Pac12
6 Missouri SEC
7 Alabama SEC
7 Michigan BTen
7 Houston AAC
7 Creighton B-East
8 Arkansas SEC
8 Nevada MWC
8 Florida St. ACC
8 Seton Hall B-East
9 Florida SEC
9 TCU B12
9 Butler B-East
9 Miami (Fla.) ACC
10 Providence B-East
10 Saint Mary’s WCC
10 Texas B12
10 North Carolina St. ACC
11 Virginia Tech ACC
11 Baylor B12
11 Middle Tennessee CUSA
11 New Mexico St. WAC
12 Loyola (Chi.) MVC
12 Buffalo MAC
12 Kansas St. B12
12 UCLA Pac12
12 St. Bonaventure A-10
12 Syracuse ACC
13 South Dakota St. Summ
13 UL-Lafayette SBC
13 Vermont A-East
13 East Tennessee St. Socon
14 Murray St. OVC
14 Northeastern CAA
14 Rider MAAC
14 UCSB B-West
15 Bucknell Pat
15 Montana B-Sky
15 Northern Kentucky Horiz
15 Penn Ivy
16 Wagner NEC
16 Nicholls St. SLC
16 Florida Gulf Coast A-Sun
16 Winthrop B-Sth
16 Savannah St. MEAC
16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC

The Bubble

The Last 10 In with Byes–in order of better to worse.

Florida

TCU

Butler

Miami (Fla.)

Providence

Saint Mary’s

Texas

North Carolina St.

Virginia Tech

Baylor

The Last 4 In & Headed to Dayton

Kansas St.

UCLA

St. Bonaventure

Syracuse

The Next 6 in Contention (or the only other teams that received votes)

Washington

Louisville

USC

LSU

Marquette

Utah

9 Teams That Could Still Play Themselves Into An At-Large Spot

*** Alphabetically ***

Boise St.

Georgia

Maryland

Mississippi St.

Nebraska

Old Dominion

Penn St.

Temple

Western Kentucky

 

An Update on PiRate Ratings Criteria in the Big Dance

If you have followed us this year, you might have read where we have done a remodel on our PiRate Rating Criteria in grading teams for their Big Dance talents.  We have simplified a great deal of the data to where a few things make up a majority of our criteria.

A. Our own Pirate Ratings R+T Rating, which is a measure of a teams ability to obtain extra scoring opportunities and prevent the opponent from getting extra scoring opportunities.  The higher the R+T rating, the more likely a team will get crucial points when the game is on the line or to put a game out of reach.  The formula for R+T Rating is:

(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T, where

R = Rebounding Margin

S = Average Steals per Game

T  = Turnover Margin

Steals are worth more than other turnovers, so they get extra weight in this formula, basically being counted twice since every time a defense steals the ball, it creates a turnover for the other team.

B. Strength of Schedule, as it is obvious that a team playing a schedule of Quadrant 4 games will easily put up incredible numbers versus a team playing a schedule of Quadrant 1 and 2 games.

C. Field Goal Percentage Margin, as the goal of the game is to put the ball in the basket and prevent the other team from doing the same.

Any game can basically be broken down into shooting percentages and scoring opportunities.  The strength of schedule comes in handy when trying to handicap the stats between two teams.  If Team A has a FG% margin of 7.2%, an R+T Rating of 15.4, and has a strength of schedule of 59.3 (50 is average, 60 is tough), and Team B has a FG% margin of 9.8%, an R+T Rating of 16.8, and a strength of schedule of 48.3, then Team A would be expected to win by a decent amount, even though Team B’s stats are a little better.

Aside from the actual numbers in the Data for FG% Margin and the components of the R+T, we also look for consistency.

Let’s look at two teams: Michigan State and Cincinnati

Michigan State has a FG% margin of 15.3%, which ranks as the best in the nation.  Cincinnati’s FG% margin is in the top 10% in the NCAA at  8.3%.

Michigan State has a rebound margin of 10.8, which is in the top 10 nationally, while Cincinnati’s rebound margin is in the top 20 nationally at 8.2%.

Michigan State averages just 4.2 steals per game versus 6.2 for their opponents, while Cincinnati averages 7.7 steals per game versus 5.1 for their opponents.

Michigan State’s turnover margin is -3.1, which is the Spartans’ weakness.  Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s turnover margin is 3.5, which is in the top 50 nationally.

Michigan State’s R+T Rating is 20.3, and their strength of schedule is 57.7, a tough one.  Cincinnati’s R+T Rating is 24.7, and their strength of schedule is 54.9, 2.8 points per game weaker than the Spartans.

The stats are indicative of a toss-up game in the NCAA Tournament.  This would most likely be a Regional Final Game for a trip to the Final Four.  This is how we’d look at this game.

Michigan State would win the battle on the boards, but nothing like how they normally do.  The advantage would minimal.

Cincinnati would force some turnovers on MSU and convert these into points, but Michigan State would have the better half-court offense against Cincinnati’s half-court defense as opposed to Cinti’s offense vs. Sparty’s defense.

The game would probably come down to the last two minutes, where the team with the better clutch players would be expected to win.

It is better to have consistency in all numbers than to be extremely high in most but with one glaring weakness, so for now Michigan State would not be expected to get to the Final Four (that could change based on their bracket).  We look for what we call “Complete Teams.”  A complete team may not be the top in any category, but they are among the top 15% in every category.  We are looking for Willie Mays and not Mark McGwire.

To be a complete team, a team needs to meet this criteria:

  1. A FG% margin of 7.5%  or better
  2. A Rebounding margin of 3.5 or better
  3. Better than 7.5 steals per game
  4. Less than 6.0 opponent steals per game
  5. A positive turnover margin
  6. An R+T Rating over 15.0
  7. A strength of schedule better than 55.5 (almost always a power conference)

When you spot a team with all six characteristics, this team is going to be tough in the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s look at the leading power conference teams as well as some of the top mid-majors.

Team Reb. Stl. Opp Stl. TO R+T FG% DIff SOS
Alabama 0.4 6.7 6.4 -0.3 3.5 6.3 59.0
Arizona 6.9 5.0 6.0 0.3 16.6 7.5 56.5
Arizona St. 0.1 6.8 5.2 4.1 8.5 3.3 56.0
Arkansas -0.6 6.6 4.8 3.2 6.5 5.7 58.4
Auburn 2.2 4.0 7.4 6.4 11.4 3.0 57.0
Cincinnati 8.2 7.7 5.1 3.5 24.7 8.3 54.9
Clemson 2.4 6.1 5.9 0.2 8.2 4.6 58.6
Creighton 3.7 5.4 6.1 0.5 10.5 7.0 58.4
Duke 9.5 7.2 5.4 -0.4 22.8 9.7 60.1
Florida -1.1 6.9 4.7 4.0 6.6 0.2 59.4
Florida St. 4.1 6.8 6.0 1.6 13.2 5.9 57.2
Gonzaga 9.2 6.8 5.1 1.2 23.9 9.2 52.7
Houston 7.4 6.5 5.3 0.9 19.7 7.2 54.2
Kansas -0.5 6.7 5.5 2.0 4.9 7.1 60.5
Kentucky 5.2 5.6 6.0 -1.5 11.7 5.4 60.0
Miami (Fla.) 1.5 6.7 5.7 1.8 8.5 4.5 56.5
Michigan 1.1 6.3 4.2 4.1 11.3 3.4 57.2
Michigan St. 10.8 4.2 6.3 -3.1 20.3 15.3 57.7
Missouri 4.8 5.3 6.5 -3.0 8.8 5.9 58.8
Nevada 1.0 6.3 4.5 2.6 9.3 4.6 54.5
North Carolina 11.7 5.3 6.1 -0.6 25.4 4.5 61.5
Ohio St. 5.6 6.1 5.0 0.6 15.9 6.9 58.1
Oklahoma 1.3 6.7 6.8 -0.4 4.8 2.9 61.2
Purdue 2.4 6.1 5.2 1.9 10.6 8.9 59.1
Rhode Island 1.3 7.6 5.6 5.2 12.0 1.8 53.6
Saint Mary’s 5.4 4.6 5.4 0.2 13.9 7.5 50.8
Seton Hall 4.3 6.6 6.0 0.2 12.1 3.0 58.6
TCU 6.4 6.8 6.0 0.3 16.5 4.2 59.3
Tennessee 1.7 6.7 5.7 2.0 9.1 2.7 60.7
Texas A&M 6.9 5.9 6.5 -2.7 13.6 5.8 60.7
Texas Tech 4.4 8.1 5.9 3.4 16.4 7.6 58.2
Villanova 2.4 6.6 4.6 3.0 12.5 7.4 59.9
Virginia 2.7 7.2 4.0 4.8 15.8 8.3 59.8
West Virginia 3.9 8.4 5.6 5.7 18.1 1.7 59.4
Wichita St. 10.3 4.7 6.0 0.3 23.3 7.0 55.8
Xavier 6.6 5.7 6.7 -1.2 14.2 6.8 59.8
Buffalo 1.6 6.4 5.7 1.3 8.0 3.8 50.4
East Tennessee St. 5.2 7.7 6.2 1.3 15.4 7.4 48.1
Louisiana-Lafayette 7.2 7.7 6.0 1.4 19.7 4.5 49.2
Loyola (Chi.) 1.9 6.4 6.5 0.4 6.9 10.0 50.2
Middle Tennessee 6.3 6.3 5.5 1.0 17.3 3.6 53.4
Nevada 1.0 6.3 4.5 2.6 9.3 4.2 54.5
New Mexico St. 8.1 5.6 4.6 1.4 21.8 6.0 50.8
South Dakota St. 3.6 5.3 5.0 0.6 11.5 4.2 49.8
Vermont 4.5 3.9 5.4 0.2 11.8 5.0 49.9

Did you notice that Texas Tech is listed in Bold Font?  At the present time, the Red Raiders are the only Division 1 team that qualifies as a “Complete Team.”  If they can keep this rating by Selection Sunday, they might be a sleeper to make the Final Four.  TTU plays Kansas on Saturday.

Cincinnati misses out on complete team status by the thinnest of margins.  Their strength of schedule is 54.9, just a tenth of a point off the minimum criteria.

Virginia is another team that just misses complete team status.  The Cavs fall three-tenths of a steal shy.

Remember–The Atlantic Sun Tournament begins play one week from tonight.  Florida Gulf Coast has secured the top seed and is guaranteed to be the home team in any game it plays, but Lipscomb is now almost a co-favorite to win the A-Sun Tournament.  The Bisons beat FGCU in Fort Myers this weekend, and they are the hottest team in the league.

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