The Pi-Rate Ratings

January 19, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 20-21, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — piratings @ 10:20 am

PiRate Rating Spreads for This Weekend

Games between teams from multiple bid conferences only

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut Villanova -18.4
Houston Wichita St. -1.9
Cincinnati East Carolina 30.0
South Florida Central Florida -13.6
SMU Tulane 13.1
Tulsa Memphis 4.9
Virginia Tech Florida St. 1.1
North Carolina Georgia Tech 18.0
Duke Pittsburgh 27.9
Clemson Notre Dame 4.8
Oklahoma St. Oklahoma -3.3
West Virginia Texas 8.5
Iowa St. Texas Tech -9.3
Kansas St. TCU 0.5
Kansas Baylor 11.1
Georgetown St. John’s 0.3
DePaul Butler -4.6
Seton Hall Xavier 0.4
Providence Creighton -3.1
Iowa Purdue -13.0
Minnesota Ohio St. -2.3
Northwestern Penn St. 0.9
Air Force Fresno St. -8.8
Colorado St. UNLV -5.7
New Mexico San Diego St. -2.8
Utah St. Wyoming 2.7
Nevada Boise St. 7.3
Stanford Arizona -6.4
Colorado Washington 4.5
Oregon St. USC -3.3
Oregon UCLA 4.1
California Arizona St. -13.3
Vanderbilt LSU -0.1
Arkansas Ole Miss 9.9
Texas A&M Missouri 3.7
Auburn Georgia 9.4
South Carolina Tennessee -3.7
Kentucky Florida 2.9
Alabama Mississippi St. 6.6
Santa Clara Gonzaga -22.3
BYU San Diego 9.5
Loyola Marymount Portland 6.6
Pacific Saint Mary’s -11.5
San Francisco Pepperdine 12.8
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
North Carolina St. Miami (Fla.) -1.1
Louisville Boston College 8.8
Wake Forest Virginia -9.3
Michigan Rutgers 12.3
Utah Washington St. 9.3

PiRate Ratings Top 25 For Friday, January 19, 2018

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.9 BIGE
2 Purdue 121.7 BTEN
3 Duke 119.9 ACC
4 Michigan St. 118.6 BTEN
5 Virginia 118.0 ACC
6 Kansas 117.7 B12
7 Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
8 North Carolina 116.6 ACC
9 Cincinnati 116.5 AAC
10 Texas Tech 116.2 B12
11 West Virginia 115.5 B12
12 Wichita St. 114.9 AAC
13 Creighton 114.7 BIGE
14 Xavier 114.5 BIGE
15 Oklahoma 113.5 B12
16 Ohio St. 113.5 BTEN
17 Tennessee 113.5 SEC
18 Arizona 113.3 PAC12
19 Clemson 113.2 ACC
20 TCU 113.0 B12
21 Florida 112.7 SEC
22 Auburn 112.7 SEC
23 Nevada 112.5 MWC
24 Saint Mary’s 112.4 WCC
25 Florida St. 112.2 ACC

Teams Ranked By Conference–Multi-bid Leagues Only

Team PiRate Conf.
Cincinnati 116.5 AAC
Wichita St. 114.9 AAC
SMU 110.9 AAC
Houston 109.5 AAC
UCF 105.2 AAC
Temple 104.4 AAC
Tulsa 101.7 AAC
Tulane 101.3 AAC
Memphis 100.3 AAC
Connecticut 100.0 AAC
East Carolina 90.5 AAC
South Florida 88.6 AAC
Duke 119.9 ACC
Virginia 118.0 ACC
North Carolina 116.6 ACC
Clemson 113.2 ACC
Florida St. 112.2 ACC
Notre Dame 111.9 ACC
Miami FL 111.6 ACC
Louisville 111.2 ACC
Virginia Tech 109.8 ACC
Syracuse 108.3 ACC
North Carolina St. 107.0 ACC
Boston College 105.9 ACC
Wake Forest 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.6 ACC
Pittsburgh 96.0 ACC
Kansas 117.7 B12
Texas Tech 116.2 B12
West Virginia 115.5 B12
Oklahoma 113.5 B12
TCU 113.0 B12
Texas 111.0 B12
Baylor 110.6 B12
Kansas St. 110.0 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.2 B12
Iowa St. 103.9 B12
Villanova 121.9 BIGE
Creighton 114.7 BIGE
Xavier 114.5 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.4 BIGE
Butler 110.4 BIGE
Marquette 110.0 BIGE
Providence 107.6 BIGE
St. John’s 106.2 BIGE
Georgetown 103.0 BIGE
DePaul 102.8 BIGE
Purdue 121.7 BTEN
Michigan St. 118.6 BTEN
Ohio St. 113.5 BTEN
Michigan 111.8 BTEN
Maryland 110.8 BTEN
Penn St. 108.5 BTEN
Minnesota 107.7 BTEN
Northwestern 106.4 BTEN
Nebraska 106.1 BTEN
Illinois 105.4 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.4 BTEN
Indiana 105.2 BTEN
Iowa 105.2 BTEN
Rutgers 103.0 BTEN
Nevada 112.5 MWC
Boise St. 108.7 MWC
San Diego St. 108.3 MWC
UNLV 105.4 MWC
Fresno St. 105.1 MWC
New Mexico 102.0 MWC
Wyoming 101.3 MWC
Utah St. 100.5 MWC
Colorado St. 96.7 MWC
Air Force 93.3 MWC
San Jose St. 89.5 MWC
Arizona 113.3 PAC12
Arizona St. 111.8 PAC12
USC 109.5 PAC12
Oregon 107.9 PAC12
UCLA 107.8 PAC12
Utah 105.6 PAC12
Stanford 103.4 PAC12
Colorado 103.2 PAC12
Oregon St. 102.7 PAC12
Washington 102.2 PAC12
Washington St. 99.8 PAC12
California 95.0 PAC12
Tennessee 113.5 SEC
Florida 112.7 SEC
Auburn 112.7 SEC
Kentucky 111.6 SEC
Arkansas 111.1 SEC
Texas A&M 111.1 SEC
Missouri 110.9 SEC
Alabama 109.0 SEC
LSU 107.6 SEC
Georgia 106.8 SEC
South Carolina 106.3 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.9 SEC
Mississippi 105.2 SEC
Vanderbilt 104.0 SEC
Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
Saint Mary’s 112.4 WCC
BYU 107.6 WCC
San Diego 101.6 WCC
San Francisco 100.2 WCC
Pacific 97.9 WCC
Loyola Marymount 95.0 WCC
Santa Clara 91.9 WCC
Portland 91.4 WCC
Pepperdine 90.4 WCC

This Week’s Features

1.Two Perennial Bridesmaids Have A Chance To Be Wed

The Purdue Boilermakers have won numerous Big Ten titles and appeared in dozens of NCAA Tournaments, but they have never won it all, and they have only been in the Final Four in 1969 and 1980.  When the great Gene Keady appeared on the scene in 1980-81, Purdue was actually coming off a Final Four appearance under former coach Lee Rose, who had guided UNC-Charlotte to the Final Four just three years earlier.

Keady had a bit of a rebuild to do in West Lafayette.  Joe Barry Carroll, the star of that 1980 team moved on to the NBA, and other key contributors had also used up their eligibility.  Keady had re-built Western Kentucky into a power in the Ohio Valley Conference before taking the Purdue job.  His teams were noted for playing excellent half-court offense, being good free throw shooting teams, and playing competent half-court defense.  His Boilermaker teams were strong, but sometimes multiple players lacked quickness.  In the Big Ten, most of the teams were noted for muscle over quickness.  There were exceptions.  Indiana had quickness and muscle and won two titles in the 1980s.  Michigan had quickness and won the title in 1989.

There were years where Purdue wore down their opponents in the Big Ten, and they entered the NCAA Tournament as favorites to make it to the Final Four.  Alas, under Keady, they never made it there, and they only made one Elite 8 appearance, the year they had their most spectacular and athletic player on the team, Glenn Robinson.

If you go back and look at all the Big Ten champion or co-champion Purdue teams in the Keady era, you will find that they lost in the NCAA Tournament to teams with quicker perimeter players that could cut off their outside shooting and get open against Purdue’s slower defenders.

If you look at the Keady coaching tree, you will find a similar path.  The top five branches of that tree, Matt Painter, Kevin Stallings, Cuonzo Martin, Steve Lavin, and Bruce Weber, have had success as coaches doing basically what Keady did at Purdue.  There was a little difference in each of these former assistants, but overall, none has had success past the first weekend in the NCAA Tournament, other than Weber when he inherited an incredible group of talent from Bill Self, when Self went to Kansas, and Lavin when he inherited a top 5 team from Jim Harrick at UCLA.

These coaches fielded teams that played brilliant halfcourt games and won a lot of games inside their conferences, but most of them fell in the Big Dance to teams with quicker perimeter players.

Painter seems to have remedied this issue in recent years.  This Purdue team is unlike any others since Rose coached the Boilermakers and took them to the Final Four.  Unlike past PU teams since 1981, this group of Boilermakers can dominate on the glass, force turnovers and pick up cheap baskets, and they can stuff the defensive perimeter.  This Purdue team is a legitimate force to be reckoned with come tournament time.

For different reasons, the Virginia Cavaliers have been dominant during the Tony Bennett era.  UVA has been to the NCAA Tournament in 5 of the last 6 years, and they have been ranked in the Top 10 every year during the past 5 seasons.  However, the Cavs had a definite weakness for being able to create instant offense.  Sure, Virginia had the best defense in the land for the past half-dozen seasons.  Their Pack Line defense, a refinement of the sinking-floating man to man defense by Bennett’s father Dick at UW-Steven’s Point, has been copied by many other teams, but none have replicated its effectiveness like Bennett.

At UVA in past seasons, the Bennett-coached Cavs have made an art form out of holding teams under 40% shooting and under 55 points per game, while scoring around 65 to 70 points per game.  Each year, the Cavs have lost to a team in the Big Dance that could force Virginia out of its offense and not be able to score consistently enough, and while also having one or two spurts of their own offense against the Pack Line defense.  Teams like Michigan State pulled down enough offensive rebounds and forced UVA to commit a few extra turnovers to defeat their great defense.

This year is different, and Virginia is a legitimate National Title contender.  Bennett has a team that can score offense in spurts of their own.  As CBS’s great commentator Clark Kellogg has stated it so expertly, teams with “spurtability” win in the NCAA Tournament.  By the Sweet 16, all the remaining teams play rather competently and do not falter against great defenses.  They all have rather good defenses and some amount of spectacular offense.  They can rebound and force turnovers while limiting turnovers, which is why our PiRate (R+T Rating)* has isolated the great teams from the pretenders.

This year’s Virginia team has the athletes that can drain the three, drive to the hoop with authority, and hit the mid-level jumper.  They can hold their own on the glass at both ends of the floor, and this may be the best Pack Line team at playing in the passing lanes and generating steals that lead to fast break points.  Just two or three easy cheap baskets by this team is enough to defeat most any other team.

Let’s look at the two losses by Purdue and one loss by Virginia to see how they lost.

Purdue lost to Tennessee and Western Kentucky in back-to-back neutral site games in the Bahamas.  The Vols were the more athletic team that afternoon, especially during a furious comeback in the second half to force overtime.  Tennessee won the hustle stats by +7 in a game where neither team could shoot the ball against the other’s pressure man-to-man defense.  Tennessee has an exceptional inside game with Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, and Kyle Alexander, and on this day, Purdue did not have the muscle inside to slow this trio down (the opposite of the Keady days).

Against Western Kentucky, Purdue looked shell-shocked from the day before, and the WKU perimeter game shot lights out.  The Hilltoppers took an early double-digit lead and kept it into the second half, before Purdue woke up and made a comeback at the end that fell a bit short.  Purdue has not played a game like this since.  The team has come together and looked like a unit equipped to get to the third weekend of the tournament.  They followed up the WKU loss by drilling Arizona, cruising home from a 17-point halftime lead.  They shot lights out, hitting threes and getting easy crips inside, while dominating on the glass.

Virginia lost at West Virginia, and the Cavs handled the Mountaineers’ press that night.  It was WVU’s inside muscle that was the difference in the game, as they used offensive rebounding to get baskets after their initial shots against the great defense failed.  It was the one time this year where UVA played like the previous editions.  While North Carolina also dominated on the glass, Virginia’s defense totally shut the Tar Heels down, holding the reigning NCAA Champions under 30% shooting from the field, while taking advantage of an offensive spurt to put the game away.

2. The 20 Teams On The Bubble

Most of you who follow college basketball can easily come up with the obvious NCAA Tournament teams in any year.  For instance, this year, you know that Purdue, Virginia, Duke, Villanova, and North Carolina are for sure tournament teams.  Factoring out the 23 one-bid leagues, that leaves 9 other leagues to place 45 teams in the tourney.

You could probably pick the top 35 of these 45 remaining bids today.  Sure, there could be some odd things going on where a team that is 9-10 today might close the regular season 11-1 and then win a couple of conference tournament games to get in, and a team that is 15-4 today could go 3-9 from here and then lose in their conference tournament opener to fall to the NIT, but 98% of the teams that look like tournament locks today will still be locks in March.

It’s the final 10 teams that will change daily.  Then, every time a conference tournament produces an upset champion, one of those teams on the Bubble has its bubble burst.  This year, there are two teams from probably one-bid leagues that if they lose their conference tournament in the championship game could still garner an at-large bid–Middle Tennessee State and Rhode Island.

So, let’s look at these last 10 teams that we have in the Tournament if it started today, and let’s look at the top 10 challengers just waiting for a chance to move onto the good side of this bubble.  Reminder: This is not information coming from our Bracket Gurus.  They won’t chime in until February 5 or 6.

Good Bubble–The Last 10 At-large teams according to the PiRates

10. Georgia

9. Houston

8. Boise St.

7. Providence

6. UCLA

5. Syracuse

4. Notre Dame

3. Texas

2. Alabama

1. Saint Mary’s/Gonzaga

Georgia is in a precarious situation much like the last qualifier in the Indianapolis 500 as cars try to get in on the last day of qualifying.

Now, here are the top 10 teams currently on the outside looking in.

1.Western Kentucky

2. USC

3. Washington

4. St. Bonaventure

5. Maryland

6. SMU

7. LSU

8. North Carolina St.

9. Baylor

10. Kansas St.

Western Kentucky and St. Bonaventure could elevate Conference USA and the Atlantic 10 conferences into two-bid leagues if they continue to win and finish first or second in their leagues and then make it to their conference championship games.

* R+T Rating

The PiRate R+T Rating formula is: (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T ,

where R = Rebounding Margin; S=Average Steals per game; and T = Turnover Margin.

We add steals into this equation in addition to turnover margin, because steals are more important than all other types of turnovers, as they lead to a lot of fast break points and opponent fouls.

If a team has a rebounding margin of 5, forces 8 steals per game, their opponents only get 4 steals a game, and the team has a positive turnover margin, and this team comes from one of the major conferences, you have a serious championship contender.

Likewise, when you see a 4 or 5-seed in the tournament with a negative rebound margin, that doesn’t garner many steals, and has a slightly positive turnover margin (because they commit 10 and force 11 per game), and this team comes from a major conference, they are prime pickings to be upset by a 12 or 13-seed automatic qualifier from a mid-major conference.

We have used this  R+T rating for the last 17 years to isolate which teams will create extra scoring opportunities to win NCAA Tournament games, and which big teams look to be potential upset losers quickly in the tournament.  A team with a negative R+T rating never makes the Sweet 16 and frequently loses in their first game, even against double-digit seeds.  Teams with R+T ratings over 20 appear all over the past 17 Final Fours.  Last year, North Carolina had the best R+T by a large margin and won the title.

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January 12, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 13-14, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 1:20 pm

This Weekend’s PiRate Ratings Spreads of Major Conference Games

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Tulane Connecticut 3.8
Temple Memphis 10.2
South Florida Cincinnati -22.9
Tulsa Wichita St. -11.6
Duke Wake Forest 17.3
Florida St. Syracuse 7.6
Pittsburgh Georgia Tech -2.8
Clemson Miami (Fla.) 4.4
Louisville Virginia Tech 3.9
Notre Dame North Carolina 0.5
Kansas Kansas St. 12.0
Oklahoma TCU 5.6
Texas Tech West Virginia 4.8
Iowa St. Baylor -4.1
Oklahoma St. Texas 0.0
Seton Hall Georgetown 11.6
Xavier Creighton 2.2
St. John’s Villanova -12.5
Michigan St. Michigan 10.2
Minnesota Purdue -8.3
Wyoming Colorado St. 8.2
San Jose St. Air Force 0.8
Fresno St. New Mexico 5.9
Nevada Utah St. 14.6
Boise St. San Diego St. 3.3
Arizona Oregon 8.9
Washington St. California 5.6
Arizona St. Oregon St. 15.3
Washington Stanford 4.5
UCLA Colorado 10.5
Ole Miss Florida -5.0
Georgia South Carolina 4.9
Mississippi St. Auburn -3.3
Vanderbilt Kentucky -4.1
Tennessee Texas A&M 4.7
Arkansas Missouri 4.9
LSU Alabama 3.8
Pepperdine Saint Mary’s -17.3
San Francisco Gonzaga -13.5
Santa Clara BYU -10.4
San Diego Loyola Marymount 11.2
Portland Pacific -2.5
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
East Carolina Houston -17.2
Virginia North Carolina St. 14.7
Indiana Northwestern 0.6
Rutgers Ohio St. -6.0
USC Utah 5.6

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.1 BIGE
2 Purdue 120.0 BTEN
3 Duke 119.7 ACC
4 Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
5 Kansas 117.6 B12
6 Virginia 117.5 ACC
7 Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
8 Texas Tech 116.9 B12
9 North Carolina 116.2 ACC
10 Cincinnati 116.0 AAC
11 Wichita St. 116.0 AAC
12 West Virginia 115.6 B12
13 Creighton 115.0 BIGE
14 Oklahoma 114.8 B12
15 Xavier 113.7 BIGE
16 Tennessee 113.2 SEC
17 Arizona 113.2 PAC12
18 Arizona St. 113.2 PAC12
19 Clemson 112.9 ACC
20 Notre Dame 112.7 ACC
21 TCU 112.7 B12
22 Florida 112.7 SEC
23 Florida St. 112.5 ACC
24 Auburn 112.4 SEC
25 Michigan 112.1 BTEN

PiRate Ratings By Major Conference

Team PiRate Conf.
Cincinnati 116.0 AAC
Wichita St. 116.0 AAC
SMU 110.2 AAC
Houston 110.0 AAC
UCF 105.4 AAC
Temple 105.3 AAC
Tulsa 101.4 AAC
Tulane 101.3 AAC
Connecticut 100.5 AAC
Memphis 98.6 AAC
South Florida 90.1 AAC
East Carolina 89.8 AAC
Duke 119.7 ACC
Virginia 117.5 ACC
North Carolina 116.2 ACC
Clemson 112.9 ACC
Notre Dame 112.7 ACC
Florida St. 112.5 ACC
Miami FL 112.0 ACC
Louisville 110.5 ACC
Virginia Tech 110.1 ACC
Syracuse 108.4 ACC
North Carolina St. 106.8 ACC
Wake Forest 105.4 ACC
Boston College 105.4 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.3 ACC
Pittsburgh 96.5 ACC
Kansas 117.6 B12
Texas Tech 116.9 B12
West Virginia 115.6 B12
Oklahoma 114.8 B12
TCU 112.7 B12
Baylor 110.9 B12
Texas 110.8 B12
Kansas St. 108.6 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.8 B12
Iowa St. 103.8 B12
Villanova 121.1 BIGE
Creighton 115.0 BIGE
Xavier 113.7 BIGE
Seton Hall 112.0 BIGE
Butler 110.3 BIGE
Marquette 110.0 BIGE
Providence 106.8 BIGE
St. John’s 105.6 BIGE
Georgetown 103.9 BIGE
DePaul 103.6 BIGE
Purdue 120.0 BTEN
Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
Michigan 112.1 BTEN
Ohio St. 112.1 BTEN
Maryland 110.7 BTEN
Penn St. 109.8 BTEN
Minnesota 108.2 BTEN
Northwestern 107.6 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.9 BTEN
Iowa 105.4 BTEN
Illinois 105.4 BTEN
Indiana 104.7 BTEN
Nebraska 104.7 BTEN
Rutgers 103.1 BTEN
Nevada 111.8 MWC
San Diego St. 109.1 MWC
Boise St. 108.9 MWC
UNLV 105.9 MWC
Fresno St. 104.3 MWC
Wyoming 101.9 MWC
New Mexico 101.4 MWC
Utah St. 100.7 MWC
Colorado St. 96.7 MWC
Air Force 92.1 MWC
San Jose St. 89.9 MWC
Arizona 113.2 PAC12
Arizona St. 113.2 PAC12
UCLA 108.7 PAC12
USC 108.7 PAC12
Oregon 107.8 PAC12
Utah 106.6 PAC12
Washington 102.7 PAC12
Colorado 102.2 PAC12
Stanford 101.7 PAC12
Oregon St. 101.4 PAC12
Washington St. 99.0 PAC12
California 96.4 PAC12
Tennessee 113.2 SEC
Florida 112.7 SEC
Auburn 112.4 SEC
Texas A&M 112.0 SEC
Kentucky 112.0 SEC
Arkansas 111.8 SEC
Missouri 110.4 SEC
LSU 108.6 SEC
Alabama 108.3 SEC
Georgia 107.0 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.6 SEC
South Carolina 105.1 SEC
Vanderbilt 104.9 SEC
Mississippi 104.2 SEC
Gonzaga 117.2 WCC
Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
BYU 106.5 WCC
San Diego 102.6 WCC
San Francisco 100.7 WCC
Pacific 97.0 WCC
Loyola Marymount 94.4 WCC
Santa Clara 92.6 WCC
Portland 91.5 WCC
Pepperdine 91.0 WCC

10 Mid-Major Teams That Have The Talent And Coaching To Make The Sweet 16
(listed alphabetically)

East Tennessee St.
Conference–Southern
Current Won-Loss Records– 4-0/13-4
Head Coach–Steve Forbes
Family Tree–Bruce Pearl & Gregg Marshall

With the Buccaneers’ win over UNC-Greensboro last night, ETSU remains in a 1st place tie with Furman in the SoCon. ETSU stayed close in their NCAA Tournament game with Florida last year, and this year’s team is a bit better. The Bucs came close to pulling off the upset win at #10 Xavier earlier this season, and they didn’t get embarrassed against Kentucky at Rupp Arena. The Bucs have won 11 of their last 12 with an average scoring margin of 81-64. ETSU plays at Furman next Thursday night.

Middle Tennessee St.
Conference–Conference USA
Current Won-Loss Records–4-0/12-4
Head Coach–Kermit Davis, Jr.
Family Tree–Bob Boyd & Tim Floyd

It should come as no surprise to most basketball fans, especially those in the Big Ten, that the Blue Raiders are a force to be reckoned with. MTSU has won back-to-back second round NCAA Tournament games over Michigan State and Minnesota, before falling in the Round of 32 to strong teams. The Blue Raiders have at times this year played like a top 20 team. In December, they swept Florida Gulf Coast in a rare, back-to-back home and home series; then they won at neighborhood SEC rival Vanderbilt; then they blew Ole Miss off the floor in a home game; before losing close to Auburn in Birmingham in a game where they made a furious comeback to have a chance to win. Then, in Hawaii, they lost close games to USC and Miami. Star forward Nick King has five double-doubles so far, while Giddy Potts is the glue that keeps this team together. His defensive pressure can take opponents out of their offensive game plans.

Next week, MTSU plays on the road at the two toughest venues outside of their own Murphy Athletic Center. On Thursday night, the Blue Raiders visit Marshall, and on Saturday, they face off against chief rival Western Kentucky. If MTSU splits those two games, then they should secure another CUSA regular season title.

Missouri St.
Conference–Missouri Valley
Current Won-Loss Records–3-2/13-5
Head Coach–Paul Lusk
Family Tree–Gene Keady & Matt Painter

With Wichita State moving up to the American Athletic Conference, Missouri State becomes one of multiple contenders for the top spot in the Valley. Under Coach Paul Lusk, a former Purdue assistant, MSU has become a defensive force, especially inside, where the Bears have the best frontcourt in the league, led by top big man Alize Johnson. Johnson currently averages 15.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. This team can go eight deep with talented depth, and when their supporting cast is knocking down threes, this team can compete against anybody. MSU has a key game coming up at Drake a week from tomorrow. The winner of that game should be looking down at the rest of the league in the standings into February.

New Mexico St.
Conference–Western Athletic
Current Won-Loss Records–2-0/14-3
Head Coach–Chris Jans
Family Tree–Gregg Marshall

The Aggies might be strong enough to make a Cinderella run into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, and even consider themselves a possible Final Four contender. If you think this is impossible, it actually would not be a first in Las Cruces. NMSU has been in the Final Four, and it was no fluke back in 1970 when then coach Lou Henson guided the Aggies to a number three ranking in the polls.

This NMSU team has already made a name for itself with wins over Illinois in a not-so-neutral site game in Chicago and against Miami of Florida in Hawaii. After besting conference rival Grand Canyon by 11 last night, NMSU could run the table in the WAC this year and enter the NCAA Tournament as high as an 11th seed.

The Aggies are undersized and need to rely on pressure man-to-man defense with the occasional full-court press, but they play taller than they are and usually win the rebounding war, where they have a plus 8.7 margin presently.

Northern Kentucky
Conference–Horizon
Current Won-Loss Records–4-1/11-6
Head Coach–John Brannen
Family Tree–John Kresse & Anthony Grant

Until losing at home to Wright State last night, NKU looked like an almost sure thing to return to the NCAA Tournament this year after making their first appearance last year.

The Norse return the three stars that kept the team in the game against Kentucky in the Second Round last year, and it figures that NKU could win a second and even third round game this year, but they have to get there first. With Wright State looking like they could soon make this list, who knows if they will get another shot?

Old Dominion
Conference–Conference USA
Current Won-Loss Records–3-1/12-4
Head Coach–Jeff Jones
Family Tree–Terry Holland

With an ACC championship at Virginia and four Colonial Athletic championships at American, Jeff Jones knows how to win. Old Dominion is one of four talented contenders for the CUSA crown, and most likely just one CUSA will get an invitation. So, it figures that ODU has about a 25% chance of going dancing this year. If they do get there, the Monarchs have the talent to stay around awhile.

ODU wins with its defense, where the Monarchs hold opponents to under 40% shooting from the field and then have a 5.6 rebounding margin and 3.9 turnover margin. At +9.5 in the hustle points, the opponent must shoot lights out or force ODU to shoot around 35% or worse to beat the Monarchs. Keep an eye on 6-10 post man Trey Porter, who appears to be on the cusp of breaking out into a star. In the last 5 games, he has averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 62% from the field.

If you are a fan of seeing a great offense go up against a great defense, you may want to tune into tomorrow’s ODU-Marshall game to see how the Monarchs’ defend the D’Antoni seven-second offense.

Rhode Island
Conference–Atlantic 10
Current Won-Loss Records–4-0/12-3
Head Coach–Dan Hurley
Family Tree–Bob Wenzel (student of former Duke coach Bill Foster)

Before Rams’ fans get on our case that URI should be considered a Major and not Mid-Major team, and that they should move up into an at-large proability, we actually agree with you. And, if the Rams continue to win and make it obvious that they are a definite at-large team, we will move the A-10 up into the Major Conference grouping and rank the teams in this league like we are doing for the Mountain West and West Coast Conferences.

Dan Hurley is not getting all the publicity that his little brother has been getting at Arizona State, but the older of the two brothers is doing a smashup job at Rhode Island.
The Rams’ three losses have come to Nevada in Reno, Virginia in Brooklyn, and Alabama in Tuscaloosa. They have wins against Seton Hall, Providence, and Florida Gulf Coast, and they get a chance to pick up another key win tomorrow when they host St. Bonaventure.

URI came close to making the Sweet 16 last year, beating Creighton before losing a heartbreaker to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament.

St. Bonaventure
Conference–Atlantic 10
Current Won-Loss Records–2-2/12-4
Head Coach–Mark Schmidt
Family Tree–Bruce Parkhill and Skip Prosser

The Bonnies have been close to making the Big Dance the last two years, coming up a game or two short. This may be their best team since 1978. With wins over over Maryland and Syracuse, St. Bonaventure has already shown that big time teams do not intimidate this group. A couple of senior leaders, Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams, make a great one-two punch for the Bonnies, as the two combine to average 35.5 points per game. Earlier this season against UMass, the two combined for 60 points and 9 of 16 from behind the arc. If a dance opponent or two catches the pair this hot, SBU can get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Of course, they still must earn their way into the dance, and losing back-to-back road games against Dayton and St. Joe’s damaged their at-large chances.

Their game with Rhode Island tomorrow morning is a real test to see if they are tournament worthy.

Vermont
Conference–America East
Current Won-Loss Records–2-0/12-5
Head Coach–John Becker
Family Tree–Mike Lonergan (who was a Gary Williams disciple)

Vermont has become the Villanova of the America East Conference. The Catamounts were overwhelming favorites to win the league this year after returning most of the team that won the league last year and led Purdue for a bit in their NCAA Tournament loss to the Boilermakers.

VU’s most impressive game this year was its opener at Kentucky, where the Catamounts made a furious comeback before falling by four points. Expect the Catamounts to extend their current five-game winning streak well into double digits, and it would not surprise us if VU wins out from here to enter the NCAA Tournament at 29-5.

Forward Anthony Lamb has averaged 22.5 points per game since New Year’s Day, and if guard Ernie Duncan can become more consistent, the Catamounts can make it to the Sweet 16.

Western Kentucky
Conference–Conference USA
Current Won-Loss Records–4-0/12-5
Head Coach–Rick Stansbury
Family Tree–Lake Kelly and Richard Williams

It should be no surprise to long-time basketball fans that Western Kentucky has a team capable of becoming a Sweet 16 entrant in the NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers have been there before multiple times, even earning a Final Four berth in 1971, where WKU fell in overtime to Villanova.

This Hilltopper team is not going to remind the old-timers of the Clem Haskins or Jim McDaniel days. However, if you saw this team play in the Battle for Atlantis, they narrowly lost to top-ranked Villanova and then bested Purdue and SMU.
More importantly, WKU went on the road this past week and topped two of the three rivals they must defeat to win the CUSA Championship. The Hilltoppers beat Marshall 112-87 and Old Dominion 75-68, which leaves them currently tied for first with their arch-rival, Middle Tennessee.

In other years, CUSA might qualify two teams for the NCAA Tournament coming from the four teams that on any given night, could knock off a Big Ten or SEC opponent. However, unless one team runs the table in the regular season and then finished runner-up in the CUSA Tournament, it isn’t likely that the league will get an at-large bid.
WKU wins games because they have an incredible number of accurate shooters who know how to get open. All 5 starters average double figure scoring, and Coach Stansbury has a trio of competent rebounders and a duo of great playmakers.

Saturday, January 20, and Thursday, March 1 are the dates when WKU and Middle face off. The first game will be in Bowling Green, so WKU should be a slight favorite.

 

 

 

 

January 5, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 6-7, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:02 am

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads (multi-bid leagues only)

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut East Carolina 14.7
Memphis Tulsa -0.9
Clemson Louisville 6.7
Virginia Tech Pittsburgh 15.1
Virginia North Carolina 4.3
Syracuse Notre Dame 0.2
Boston College Wake Forest 3.1
North Carolina St. Duke -11.4
Baylor Texas 2.8
Texas Tech Kansas St. 10.1
Oklahoma St. Iowa St. 8.0
West Virginia Oklahoma 4.4
TCU Kansas -1.3
Providence Xavier -4.7
Georgetown Creighton -5.9
St. John’s DePaul 7.6
Butler Seton Hall 2.2
Villanova Marquette 14.6
Michigan Illinois 9.7
Purdue Nebraska 18.2
Minnesota Indiana 11.4
Air Force Nevada -15.5
Colorado St. Fresno St. -4.5
Wyoming Boise St. -2.4
New Mexico San Jose St. 11.3
UNLV Utah St. 9.7
Colorado Arizona -8.3
Washington St. Washington -0.1
California UCLA -6.6
Georgia Alabama 0.7
Missouri Florida 2.6
Texas A&M LSU 8.6
Ole Miss Mississippi St. 1.3
Auburn Arkansas 1.6
South Carolina Vanderbilt 2.5
Tennessee Kentucky 4.1
Pepperdine San Francisco -3.7
Loyola Marymount Gonzaga -17.2
Pacific BYU -6.0
Santa Clara Portland 4.4
Saint Mary’s San Diego 13.9
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Central Florida Temple 1.5
Wichita St. South Florida 27.0
Cincinnati SMU 6.6
Miami (Fla.) Florida St. 0.5
Ohio St. Michigan St. -6.7
Maryland Iowa 8.2
Utah Arizona St. -2.4
Stanford USC -5.0

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
2 Duke 119.1 ACC
3 Villanova 119.0 BIGE
4 Purdue 118.2 BTEN
5 Kansas 116.7 B12
6 Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
7 Texas Tech 114.8 B12
8 Virginia 114.7 ACC
9 North Carolina 114.4 ACC
10 Oklahoma 114.0 B12
11 Xavier 113.9 BIGE
12 West Virginia 113.9 B12
13 Wichita St. 113.8 AAC
14 Arizona 113.5 P12
15 Arkansas 112.9 SEC
16 Cincinnati 112.8 AAC
17 Arizona St. 112.8 P12
18 Creighton 112.7 BIGE
19 Notre Dame 112.1 ACC
20 TCU 111.9 B12
21 Florida St. 111.9 ACC
22 Seton Hall 111.5 BIGE
23 Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
24 Clemson 111.2 ACC
25 Florida 111.2 SEC

PiRate Ratings By Conference (multi-bid conferences only)

Team PiRate Conf.
Wichita St. 113.8 AAC
Cincinnati 112.8 AAC
SMU 110.2 AAC
Houston 108.8 AAC
Temple 105.4 AAC
UCF 103.4 AAC
Tulsa 102.1 AAC
Tulane 101.2 AAC
Connecticut 100.5 AAC
Memphis 97.7 AAC
South Florida 90.8 AAC
East Carolina 89.8 AAC
Duke 119.1 ACC
Virginia 114.7 ACC
North Carolina 114.4 ACC
Notre Dame 112.1 ACC
Florida St. 111.9 ACC
Clemson 111.2 ACC
Miami FL 109.9 ACC
Virginia Tech 108.9 ACC
Louisville 108.5 ACC
Syracuse 108.3 ACC
Wake Forest 106.3 ACC
Boston College 105.4 ACC
North Carolina St. 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 100.1 ACC
Pittsburgh 97.3 ACC
Kansas 116.7 B12
Texas Tech 114.8 B12
Oklahoma 114.0 B12
West Virginia 113.9 B12
TCU 111.9 B12
Baylor 109.5 B12
Texas 109.2 B12
Kansas St. 108.2 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.1 B12
Iowa St. 103.1 B12
Villanova 119.0 BIGE
Xavier 113.9 BIGE
Creighton 112.7 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.5 BIGE
Butler 109.7 BIGE
Marquette 108.4 BIGE
St. John’s 106.1 BIGE
Providence 105.7 BIGE
Georgetown 103.3 BIGE
DePaul 102.0 BIGE
Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
Purdue 118.2 BTEN
Michigan 110.3 BTEN
Maryland 109.4 BTEN
Ohio St. 109.1 BTEN
Minnesota 108.9 BTEN
Penn St. 108.0 BTEN
Northwestern 106.3 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.2 BTEN
Iowa 105.2 BTEN
Illinois 104.6 BTEN
Nebraska 104.0 BTEN
Indiana 101.5 BTEN
Rutgers 100.8 BTEN
Nevada 110.9 MWC
Boise St. 107.4 MWC
San Diego St. 107.2 MWC
UNLV 106.9 MWC
Fresno St. 104.6 MWC
Wyoming 101.5 MWC
Utah St. 100.7 MWC
New Mexico 99.6 MWC
Colorado St. 96.6 MWC
Air Force 92.4 MWC
San Jose St. 91.8 MWC
Arizona 113.5 P12
Arizona St. 112.8 P12
USC 108.8 P12
Oregon 107.7 P12
UCLA 107.3 P12
Utah 106.4 P12
Washington 102.3 P12
Colorado 101.2 P12
Stanford 100.8 P12
Oregon St. 100.6 P12
Washington St. 99.8 P12
California 97.7 P12
Arkansas 112.9 SEC
Florida 111.2 SEC
Tennessee 111.0 SEC
Auburn 111.0 SEC
Kentucky 110.9 SEC
Texas A&M 110.8 SEC
Missouri 109.8 SEC
Alabama 107.9 SEC
LSU 106.2 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.3 SEC
Georgia 105.1 SEC
Vanderbilt 105.1 SEC
Mississippi 104.1 SEC
South Carolina 104.1 SEC
Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
BYU 105.9 WCC
San Diego 101.4 WCC
San Francisco 99.7 WCC
Pacific 96.9 WCC
Loyola Marymount 95.2 WCC
Santa Clara 94.0 WCC
Pepperdine 93.0 WCC
Portland 92.6 WCC

This Week’s Estimate of Who’s In The Big Dance

Note–This is not our Bracketology Gurus report.  We expect that our gurus will begin sending us this data by the first of February.  Until then, this is our best guess as to who would be in the field if it began today.

America East

Vermont 1-0/10-5

American

Cincinnati 2-0/13-2

Wichita St. 2-0/12-2

SMU 2-1/12-4

Atlantic 10

Rhode Island 2-0/10-3

Atlantic Coast

Duke 1-1/13-1

North Carolina 1-1/12-3

Virginia  2-0/13-1

Miami (Fla.) 1-1/12-2

Clemson 2-0/13-1

Florida St. 1-1/12-2

Notre Dame 2-0/12-3

Louisville 1-0/11-3

Syracuse 1-1/12-3

Atlantic Sun

Florida Gulf Coast 0-0/9-8

Big 12

West Virginia 2-0/13-1

Oklahoma 2-0/12-1

Kansas 1-1/11-3

TCU 1-1/13-1

Texas Tech 2-0/13-1

Texas 1-1/10-4

Baylor 0-2/10-4

Big East

Xavier 3-0/15-1

Seton Hall 2-0/13-2

Villanova 1-1/13-1

Creighton 2-1/12-3

Butler 2-1/12-4

Big Sky

Montana 3-0/10-5

Big South

Radford 2-0/9-6

Big Ten

Michigan St. 3-0/15-1

Purdue 3-0/14-2

Ohio St. 3-0/12-4

Michigan 2-1/13-3

Minnesota 2-1/13-3

Maryland 2-2/13-4

Big West

UC-Davis 1-0/10-5

Colonial

Charleston 2-0/11-3

Conference USA

Middle Tennessee 2-0/10-4

Horizon

Northern Kentucky 2-0/9-5

Ivy

Pennsylvania 0-0/9-5

Metro Atlantic

Canisius 2-0/8-7

Mid-American

Central Michigan 1-0/12-2

Mideastern Athletic

UNC-Central 1-0/7-8

Missouri Valley

Missouri St. 3-0/13-3

Mountain West

Nevada 3-0/14-3

Boise St. 3-0/13-2

Northeast

Robert Morris 3-0/9-7

Ohio Valley

Belmont 3-0/11-5

Pac-12

Arizona 2-0/12-3

Arizona St. 0-2/12-2

UCLA 2-1/11-4

USC 2-1/11-5

Patriot

Navy 1-1/10-5

Southeastern

Kentucky 2-0/12-2

Florida 2-0/10-4

Auburn 1-0/13-1

Texas A&M 0-2/11-3

Arkansas 1-1/11-3

Missouri 1-0/11-3

Mississippi St. 1-0/13-1

Southern

UNC-Greensboro 1-0/10-4

Southland

Stephen F. Austin 1-1/12-3

Southwestern Athletic

Jackson St. 2-0/5-10

Summit

South Dakota 2-0/14-4

Sun Belt

Louisiana-Lafayette 3-0/13-3

West Coast

Gonzaga 3-0/13-3

Saint Mary’s 3-0/14-2

Western Athletic

New Mexico St. 0-0/12-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 29, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads For December 30-31, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:56 am
Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut Wichita St. -10.0
Houston Temple 8.6
North Carolina Wake Forest 14.0
Duke Florida St. 10.6
Virginia Boston College 16.2
Notre Dame Georgia Tech 16.5
Pittsburgh Miami (Fla.) -11.8
Clemson N. C. State 8.5
TCU Oklahoma 1.4
Xavier DePaul 16.1
Butler Villanova -7.9
Marquette Georgetown 8.3
Nevada New Mexico 15.7
San Diego St. Utah St. 10.1
UNLV Boise St. 4.0
Arizona Arizona St. 2.5
Stanford California 7.1
Arkansas Tennessee 5.2
Florida Vanderbilt 9.1
Alabama Texas A&M -4.1
BYU Saint Mary’s 0.2
Gonzaga Santa Clara 25.2
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Tulane Tulsa 2.0
Cincinnati Memphis 20.1
East Carolina Central Florida -10.9
SMU South Florida 22.3
Syracuse Virginia Tech 0.1
Creighton Providence 10.2
Seton Hall St. John’s 8.1
Oregon St. Utah -4.0
UCLA Washington 9.0
USC Washington St. 14.1
Oregon Colorado 11.4
Kentucky Georgia 9.8
Ole Miss South Carolina 2.0

 

 

December 27, 2017

PiRate Ratings–College Basketball Issue 1 2017-18

Normally, we do not commence with our basketball coverage until after New Year’s Day, but this year all 351 Division 1 teams have reached the 10-game plateau before the turn of the year.  It takes our PiRate Ratings 10 games into everybody’s schedule before the average statistics calm down enough to make our ratings worth a grain of salt.

We have made a couple of changes this season.  First, our Red, White, and Blue ratings have been sent to the scrap pile.  They were just minor variations in the algorithm of the stats we use to determine power ratings.  Instead, beginning this season, we have put all three algorithms together into one conglomerate rating, simply “The PiRate Rating.”

We have been in contact with most of our Bracketology Gurus from last year, and we hope to have this function up and running soon.  We are still efforting to contact two of our past contributors, and we hope they will soon return to the ship.  As some of our loyal followers remember last season, our Gurus were 100% accurate, 68 for 68, in picking the NCAA Tournament teams on the morning of Selection Sunday.  As far as we can tell, no national bracketologist matched this feat.

The lineup this year is for a bracketology composite to be released on Monday or Tuesday (depends on when all our Gurus get their data to us), and for a preview of the weekend games of the top conferences to be issued on Friday afternoons.  Unfortunately, since we are not automated, we cannot release selections for all 351 teams nor for weekday games.  We will limit our selections to Saturday and Sunday conference games and games between NCAA contenders of the power leagues.  We will also release our ratings of the power conferences.  For those that want more information on mid-major and low-major conferences, we will periodically report on these conference races, beginning with our first one today.

The PiRate Ratings Top 25 for December 27, 2017

A rating of 100 is the national average.  115 or above is a final four caliber team.

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.4 BE
2 Duke 120.0 ACC
3 Michigan St. 119.8 B10
4 Purdue 119.7 B10
5 Kansas 119.4 B12
6 Virginia 117.4 ACC
7 North Carolina 116.8 ACC
8 Xavier 115.9 BE
9 Texas A&M 115.9 SEC
10 West Virginia 115.8 B12
11 Wichita St. 115.4 AAC
12 Gonzaga 115.2 WCC
13 Arizona St. 115.0 P12
14 Texas Tech 115.0 B12
15 Cincinnati 114.9 AAC
16 Oklahoma 114.7 B12
17 Arkansas 114.6 SEC
18 Arizona 114.5 P12
19 Creighton 114.1 BE
20 Florida St. 113.4 ACC
21 Tennessee 113.4 SEC
22 Miami FL 113.2 ACC
23 Seton Hall 113.1 BE
24 TCU 113.1 B12
25 Clemson 112.8 ACC

Rankings By Top Conferences

Team PiRate Conf.
Wichita St. 115.4 AAC
Cincinnati 114.9 AAC
SMU 112.0 AAC
Houston 110.6 AAC
Temple 106.7 AAC
UCF 104.5 AAC
Tulsa 102.2 AAC
Connecticut 101.3 AAC
Tulane 100.6 AAC
Memphis 99.0 AAC
South Florida 92.9 AAC
East Carolina 91.7 AAC
Duke 120.0 ACC
Virginia 117.4 ACC
North Carolina 116.8 ACC
Florida St. 113.4 ACC
Miami FL 113.2 ACC
Clemson 112.8 ACC
Virginia Tech 112.6 ACC
Notre Dame 112.5 ACC
Louisville 111.3 ACC
Syracuse 108.2 ACC
North Carolina St. 107.4 ACC
Wake Forest 105.8 ACC
Boston College 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 100.6 ACC
Pittsburgh 98.4 ACC
Michigan St. 119.8 B10
Purdue 119.7 B10
Michigan 111.9 B10
Maryland 111.8 B10
Minnesota 110.5 B10
Ohio St. 110.1 B10
Penn St. 109.5 B10
Northwestern 108.4 B10
Wisconsin 106.7 B10
Iowa 106.4 B10
Illinois 106.3 B10
Indiana 104.6 B10
Rutgers 104.4 B10
Nebraska 104.2 B10
Kansas 119.4 B12
West Virginia 115.8 B12
Texas Tech 115.0 B12
Oklahoma 114.7 B12
TCU 113.1 B12
Baylor 112.1 B12
Texas 111.6 B12
Kansas St. 109.3 B12
Oklahoma St. 109.0 B12
Iowa St. 105.1 B12
Villanova 121.4 BE
Xavier 115.9 BE
Creighton 114.1 BE
Seton Hall 113.1 BE
Butler 110.3 BE
St. John’s 108.8 BE
Marquette 108.4 BE
Providence 106.3 BE
Georgetown 103.4 BE
DePaul 103.0 BE
Nevada 112.3 MWC
San Diego St. 109.0 MWC
UNLV 108.9 MWC
Boise St. 107.6 MWC
Fresno St. 106.3 MWC
Utah St. 101.3 MWC
Wyoming 101.0 MWC
New Mexico 99.4 MWC
Colorado St. 96.5 MWC
Air Force 92.7 MWC
San Jose St. 92.4 MWC
Arizona St. 115.0 P12
Arizona 114.5 P12
USC 110.4 P12
Oregon 109.8 P12
UCLA 107.9 P12
Utah 107.4 P12
Colorado 102.3 P12
Stanford 101.7 P12
Washington 101.7 P12
Oregon St. 100.4 P12
Washington St. 100.4 P12
California 97.6 P12
Texas A&M 115.9 SEC
Arkansas 114.6 SEC
Tennessee 113.4 SEC
Kentucky 111.8 SEC
Florida 111.4 SEC
Auburn 111.0 SEC
Missouri 110.0 SEC
Alabama 108.3 SEC
South Carolina 106.9 SEC
Vanderbilt 106.2 SEC
Georgia 106.1 SEC
LSU 106.0 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.8 SEC
Mississippi 105.3 SEC
Gonzaga 115.2 WCC
Saint Mary’s 110.9 WCC
BYU 107.2 WCC
San Diego 102.5 WCC
San Francisco 100.4 WCC
Pacific 97.0 WCC
Loyola Marymount 96.7 WCC
Santa Clara 93.8 WCC
Portland 93.1 WCC
Pepperdine 92.3 WCC

A Look at the 22, One Bid Leagues

America East
Albany has the best record at 11-3, and one of their three losses was by just two points against Louisville, while Vermont at 8-5 has played a slightly tougher schedule and has narrow misses at Kentucky, Marquette, and St. Bonaventure. Vermont ran the table in the AmEast last year, and the Catamounts are the team to beat.

Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast (7-7) was supposed to be the class of the A-Sun this year with a team similar to their great past squads under former coach Andy Enfield. However, they look like the third best team as conference play begins. Lipscomb (9-4) swept rival and perennial NCAA Tournament team Belmont in a home and home series, and they stayed close with a ranked Tennessee team. NJIT (7-6) appears to be the other team capable of winning the conference race. Of course, this league could easily see a middle of the pack team win the conference tournament. The tournament is played on campus, so the top seed will have home court advantage throughout. Lipscomb is currently 5-0 at home, so this is something to keep an eye on for the next several weeks.

Big Sky
Portland State (10-3) is the cream of the class as the year ends, but this league has some talented teams, and the Vikings will not run the table and easily earn the lone NCAA bid. Challenges will come from Idaho (8-4), Northern Colorado (9-5), Weber State (7-5), and Montana (7-5). Portland State averages over 90 points per game and led Duke at the half earlier this year. They have an outstanding pair of tall guard in Deontae North and Bryce Canda, and this is a team that could be a #13 seed that can beat a #4 seed in the Round of 64.

Big South
The conference race starts with three teams appearing to be above the rest of the league, but this looks like a bit of a down year in the Big South. Liberty (9-4) has a win at Wake Forest, but they also lost at home to Mercer. The Flames have the best defense in the league, led by Bradley transfer Scottie James at power forward. Winthrop (6-5) has the superior offense in the league, thrice exceeding 100 points so far. However, all three of those centennial-topping games came against non-Division I teams. Against a decent team like Auburn, the Eagles gave up 119 points and lost by 34. UNC-Asheville (7-6) has underachieved in November and December, but with three quality starters in Macio Teague, Ahmad Thomas, and Kevin Vannatta, the Bulldogs can still put it together and win the league again.

Big West
UCSB (10-3) has the highest power rating so far, but the three co-favorites to win the conference are just behind and not by much. UC-Davis (8-5), Cal State Fullerton (7-4), and UC-Irvine (5-10) will be there in March. UC-Irvine’s poor record is a bit misleading, as the Anteaters have played a gruesome schedule that includes losses to South Dakota State, Kansas State, Arizona State, UCLA, Nevada, and Saint Mary’s, all who could be in the NCAA Tournament.

Colonial
Towson (10-3) has the best overall record, but their 10 wins have come against nobody special. Charleston (9-3) is in a similar boat with no significant wins. Northeastern (7-5), Hofstra (7-5), and William & Mary (7-4) play much better on their home floors than when away from home, and this group of five teams should contend for top honors. William & Mary may be the team with the potential to improve the most in the next two months and emerge as the favorite. With just a little defensive improvement, the Tribe could be scary in an opening round game.

Conference USA
We will have to monitor this league a bit closer, because there is a small possibility that this league could move up into the multiple bid leagues. Middle Tennessee (8-4) is trying to emerge as the Gonzaga of the South. The Blue Raiders have won back-to-back opening round NCAA Tournament games over Big Ten teams the last two seasons, and they beat Vanderbilt and Ole Miss so far. Their four losses have been to teams that should be in the NCAA Tournament (Belmont, Auburn, USC, and Miami), and they nearly beat USC and Miami in Honolulu. Five other teams could contend with the heavily favored Blue Raiders, and that is where CUSA could eventually get a second team in the Dance. Old Dominion (9-3) has an excellent controlled offense and quality defense, the type that can win conference tournaments in March. Western Kentucky (8-5) has the talent to pull off three conference tournament wins. The Hilltoppers beat Purdue and SMU and lost a narrow game to Villanova, so they will be tough in conference play. Louisiana Tech (9-4), UAB (9-4), and Marshall (9-4) all have stellar offensive games, and in this league, any of this trio could get hot in March and win the conference tournament. If MTSU wins the regular season title with only one or two losses and then loses in the CUSA Tournament Championship Game, the league could get that second bid. For now, we leave this as a one-bid league.

Horizon
Northern Kentucky (7-5) was supposed to win this conference with ease this year after earning its first ever NCAA Tournament bid last year. Oakland (8-5) and Wright State (8-5) look like serious challengers this year. Oakland can score 100 points or give up 100 points on a random night, while Wright State can hold an opponent under 50 points or struggle to score 50 points on a random night. Neither team is complete enough to win a game in the Round of 64.

Ivy
Now that there is a four-team post-season tournament in this league, determining the upper division is more important than ever. This year, it looks rather easy to determine which four teams will make the tournament, as there is quite a division between number four and number five. Penn (8-4), Princeton (7-7), Yale (6-8), and Harvard (5-7) should be the top four in some order or another. Princeton has the best win, besting USC in Los Angeles.

Metro Atlantic
This looks like an off year for Monmouth (4-8). The Hawks could not pull off any signature wins in the pre-conference schedule, and it leaves Iona (6-6) as the only team capable of winning an opening round game in the NCAA Tournament. If any other MAAC team wins the automatic bid, chances are high they will play an early game in Dayton.

Mid-American
This is possibly the most balanced league this year, but then this isn’t anything new. The MAC has several good but not great teams. As many as eight teams have the talent to win the conference tournament, but chances are rather strong that whoever that team is, they will make a quick departure in the Big Dance, losing by a modest amount to their favored opponent. Central Michigan (10-2) has no special wins with a seven point loss at Michigan being their top resume opponent. Eastern Michigan (8-3) can score points quickly in their up-tempo offense, but the Eagles lack the defense to become scary. Ball State (8-4) has a seven-game winning streak, which includes the best win in the league, a win at Notre Dame, and the Cardinals need to be watched a little closer to see if this may develop into something impressive. Other teams to watch include Buffalo (7-5), Ohio (6-5), Toledo (7-5), Western Michigan (7-5), and Kent State (6-6). You can pick one of these eight teams out of a hat and have as good a chance at predicting the NCAA recipient with the same accuracy as the top prognosticators.

Mideastern Athletic
This league has been known to produce some surprise upset winners in the past, including a 15-seed knocking off a 2-seed. Even though no MEAC teams have impressive pre-conference records, the top members are competitive and tend to improve in February and March as they gain confidence from a lot of league wins. Keep an eye on UNC-Central (5-8). While the Eagles have no signature wins, they have lost some close games to good teams. If UNCC doesn’t win the conference, then it will most likely go to either North Carolina A&T (7-7) or Morgan State (4-7).

Missouri Valley
Don’t be confused by the Valley becoming a one-bid league. You may not have realized that Wichita State no longer is a member. The Shockers moved to the American Athletic Conference, leaving the MVC without a major power. Thus, the winner at Arch Madness in St. Louis will get the one bid available to this league. As of now, Missouri State (11-3) and Loyola (Chi.) (10-3) look like the class of the league. The two teams squared off at MSU to begin conference play, and the Bears pulled off a narrow home victory. Other teams to keep an eye on include Bradley (10-3), new member Valparaiso (9-4), and Northern Iowa (8-4).

Northeast
This looks like a First Four Game league with the winner going to Dayton. As of this writing, seven of the league’s ten members are bunched rather closely, although not as much so as the MAC. St. Francis (Pa.) (6-5) has the most impressive resume to date, but the Red Flash have very little to show. They played toe-to-toe on the road against Saint Mary’s for 14 minutes, before they fell far behind early in the second half. They stayed within a few points at Louisville for 17 minutes and even went on a 24-10 run in the second half, but they still lost by double digits. But, they also trailed Duke by 30 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. So, this is still a team that nobody will fear, even in the opening round in Dayton. Wagner (7-4) and Robert Morris (6-7) look like the top two contenders, but the talent in this league is not strong enough to say that these three are surely the best three in the league. It will take 5 or 6 conference games before the true contenders are known.

Ohio Valley
The OVC looks to be an improved league in 2018, but they still have a long way to go before it threatens to be a two-bid league. Perennial favorite Belmont (8-5) has been hot and cold so far, beating Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky, and narrowly losing to Providence and unbeaten TCU, but they also were swept by neighborhood rival Lipscomb in their annual home and home series. Former dominant league member Murray State (8-3) is on the rise once again, and the Racers have a balanced offense, capable of scoring inside and from behind the arc. Jacksonville State (9-4) is an up and comer, and the led deep into the second half at Mississippi State and missed on two good looks in the final 5 seconds in a one point loss at Oregon State.

Patriot
Navy (9-4) and Army (7-4) have the two best records in the league in the preseason, but Bucknell (6-7) appears to be the class of the league like usual. The Bison began 0-4 with a tough three-game stretch that saw them play at Arkansas, North Carolina, and Maryland in the same week, losing close games in the latter two. Bucknell actually led the Terps by 15 at the half. This will be a team that could give a favorite fits in a Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game.

Southern
This league is better than most national media give it credit. In fact, there are four teams this year that have the talent to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, and maybe one team has Sweet 16 potential. That team is East Tennessee State (8-4). The Buccaneers lost by just two at Xavier and led at Kentucky by 10 points in the first half, so they have the potential to pull off an upset in the Dance. Furman (9-4), UNC-Greensboro (9-4), and Mercer (6-6) look to be the other top contenders.

Southland
Stephen F. Austin (11-2) has become the Kansas of this league, and any talk of picking a league champion starts here. The Lumberjacks’ two losses came by slim margins on the road against SEC teams, while they also won at LSU. SFA’s top rivals this year include Abilene Christian (8-5), Lamar (8-5), and Central Arkansas (6-7).

Southwestern Athletic
This is the league that always puts its conference champion in Dayton for an opening round game. It is continually the last-place team in power ratings every year, and this year is no different. How weak is the SWAC? Consider that five teams (Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Mississippi Valley St., Texas Southern, and Arkanas-Pine Bluff are a combined 0-65! Yes, the best record among this quintet is ASU’s 0-12 record. Yet, it would not be surprising if one of these teams eventually wins the conference tournament and gets an automatic bid with 20 losses. Texas Southern (0-13) actually possesses the best PiRate Rating as of today. The best records in the pre-season belong to Grambling (4-8) and Alcorn State (4-9). While Alcorn’s four wins came against non-Division I teams, at least Grambling owns a win over Georgia Tech.

Summitt
Like CUSA, this league is close to moving into potential two-bid status. That’s because South Dakota (12-4) is on the cusp of contending for an at-large bid. The Coyotes have come the closest to knocking off unbeaten TCU, losing by just 5 (it was a 1-point game in the final minute). Two of their other three losses came against Duke and UCLA on the road, and they were very competitive in both contests. Rival South Dakota State (11-5) won at Ole Miss and defeated Iowa on a neutral floor, and they dropped close games to Colorado and Wichita State. Fort Wayne (9-6) is one of the most inconsistent teams in the nation, but if they ever get their act together for three consecutive games, the Mastodons could earn the automatic bid. For the second year in a row, FW clobbered Indiana, winning by 20 at Assembly Hall. They led at Kentucky until just before halftime. But, you never know what Mastodon team will show up.

Sun Belt
Most people think of this as a football conference, but the SBC is a tough mid-major basketball league as well. While there is no chance that more than one team will make it to the NCAA Tournament this year, there are three quality teams that have the talent to make it to the Round of 32. Louisiana-Lafayette (10-3) is one of the most exciting teams to watch. The Ragin’ Cajuns can press the action on both ends of the floor, and they can pound it inside with a couple of talented forwards in Bryce Washington and JaKeenan Grant. Georgia Southern (9-4), Texas-Arlington (9-4), and Georgia State (9-4) look to be the top contenders. All four of these conference foes are talented enough to win in the Round of 64. Keep an eye on UTA’s multi-talented big man Kevin Hervey. He can score inside and outside like a mini-LeBron.

Western Athletic
There are two WAC teams that nobody will want to face in a Round of 64 game, and chances are high that one of the dynamic duo will make the Dance. New Mexico State (11-3) sneaked into the Championship game of the Hawaii Diamondhead Classic after beating previously undefeated Miami. It took a deep three by USC’s Bennie Boatwright to keep the Aggies from winning the tournament. NMSU also owns an impressive double-digit win over Illinois. This is Grand Canyon’s (9-4) first year as an eligible NCAA Tournament team and former NBA great Dan Majerle has a team made up of tough competitors. GCU goes 10-deep without much drop in talent, and this team plays together with no real star. If not for some weak shooting nights, the Antelopes would be the overwhelming favorite, but for now, they remain a co-favorite.

By our count, that leaves 46 bids to be doled out to the remaining 10 conferences. We think as of today that the West Coast, Mountain West and Atlantic 10 conferences will receive just two bids. That will then leave 40 bids for the top seven leagues, or an average of 5.7 teams per power conference.

Predictions for Saturday-Sunday power conference games coming Friday afternoon

 

 

April 3, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball National Championship Game Preview

Red-White-Blue Ratings

Monday, April 3
Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Gonzaga -3 -1 2

Team Stats Comparison

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 38 1129 2222 278 730 621 864 366 1172 1538 434 263 3157
North Carolina 39 1200 2560 279 771 627 890 615 1088 1703 469 276 3306

 

Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 38 849 2326 219 743 410 620 414 851 1265 468 202 2327
North Carolina 39 962 2318 311 920 524 720 355 853 1208 530 247 2759

 

Team PPG Def PPG Mar. FG-Marg Rb-Marg TO-Marg R+T WLRd SOS Poss/G W L
Gonzaga 83.1 61.2 21.8 14.3 7.2 0.9 19.4 22-0 54.36 70.7 37 1
North Carolina 84.8 70.7 14.0 5.4 12.7 1.6 30.2 12-7 60.29 72.7 32 7

 

Four Factors Comparison

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.1 14.2 15.2 23.0 15.3
North Carolina 52.3 48.2 41.9 24.6 13.6 16.6 22.1 18.5

 

PiRate Ratings Criteria Breakdown

Power Conference: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina is a member of the ACC, while Gonzaga is a member of the WCC.  The Tar Heels’ conference affiliation gives them an 8-point advantage over Gonzaga.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina’s schedule has been 10.3 points better than average through 39 games.  Gonzaga’s schedule has been 4.4 points better than average through 38 games.  This gives the Tar Heels the advantage by 6 points.

R+T Rating*: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina’s R+T of 30.2 is the best by far in all of Division 1 College Basketball, and it came shining through in their semifinal win over Oregon, where the Tar Heels forced a lot of early turnovers on the Ducks, and they cleaned the glass, especially when the game was on the line.

Gonzaga’s R+T of 19.4 earns an A+ grade, but when facing a team with an A+++ grade, the extra scoring opportunities the Bulldogs normally receive through rebounding prowess, turnover avoidance, and the ability to steal the ball and avoid having it stolen disappears.  The Tar Heels should receive the opportunity to score about 11 more points than Gonzaga through hustle stats.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s FG% margin of 14.3% is at the top of the charts.  It is why the Bulldogs have made it to this game.  North Carolina’s margin of 5.4% is just average for an NCAA Tournament team and below average for a Final Four team.  This is the stat that gives the Zags a fighting chance.

Expected Possessions Per Team: 72

North Carolina will do everything it can to speed up the pace of this game.  Even though Gonzaga’s pace is considerably above average, the Bulldogs can ill afford to get into a race horse pace in this game.  For every possession above 70 in this game, the Tar Heels will receive more and more benefit.

Summary

Gonzaga has a chance to win this game, but the Bulldogs will have to keep the ball out of the paint when North Carolina has the ball.  Having two quality post players gives the Zags a chance to do just that, but Carolina could get both Karnowski and Collins in foul trouble, and that would spell doom for the challenger.

If Jackson and Berry can knock down three-pointers at a rate above 37.5% (3 out of every 8), it will force Gonzaga to stretch their man-to-man defense just enough to open the inside for Meeks, Hicks, and Bradley, and Gonzaga’s inside defense may be strong, but it is not quick enough to handle the Tar Heel inside game.

North Carolina came within a second of winning the title last year.  Our PiRates here believe that Roy Williams will be cutting down the nets for his third time, passing his mentor in bringing title banners to Chapel Hill.

PiRate Prediction: North Carolina 89  Gonzaga 81

 

Note: This ends our sports coverage for Spring.  The PiRates will return to our ship and head out to sea once again, and we will return to land in August in time to begin previewing the 2017-18 college and NFL football seasons.

In our absence, some of our merry lasses may decide to post a story or two dealing with whatever floats their boats.

Enjoy a wonderful Spring and Summer, and we will be back for the football season.

March 31, 2017

PiRate Ratings Final Four Preview

PiRate Red-White-Blue Ratings

Saturday, April 1
Team Team Red White Blue
Gonzaga South Carolina 9 9 5
North Carolina Oregon 3 3 2

Tipoff Times

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Saturday, April 1
6:09 PM CBS Gonzaga vs. South Carolina
8:49 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Oregon

The Official Statistics 

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 1100 2162 269 711 611 851 356 1141 1497 422 260 3080
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 824 2260 212 723 394 598 401 828 1229 463 195 2254
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 898 2132 241 715 595 853 451 857 1308 475 281 2632
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 760 1909 199 668 618 855 391 873 1264 620 219 2337
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 1175 2492 271 750 608 863 598 1062 1660 458 269 3229
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 940 2260 304 894 499 692 343 822 1165 514 242 2683
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 1069 2212 327 854 535 759 400 985 1385 438 248 3000
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 907 2243 265 852 409 568 399 824 1223 504 179 2488

The Four Factors

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.0 14.1 15.4 23.2 15.1
South Carolina 47.8 45.0 34.1 31.3 15.8 21.1 23.2 24.3
North Carolina 52.6 48.3 42.1 24.4 13.6 16.6 22.0 18.1
Oregon 55.7 46.3 32.7 28.8 14.5 16.7 20.5 15.6

FT* & DFT* use FT/100 Possessions as its metric formula

 

PiRate Ratings Criteria

Team PPG Def Mar. FG-Marg Reb-Marg TO-Marg R+T* WLRd SOS OPoss DPoss Poss/G
Gonzaga 83.2 60.9 22.3 14.4 7.2 1.1 19.8 21-0 54.36 2632 2606 70.8
South Carolina 73.1 64.9 8.2 2.3 1.2 4.0 10.3 11-7 56.96 2561 2544 70.9
North Carolina 85.0 70.6 14.4 5.6 13.0 1.5 30.7 15-7 59.00 2762 2760 72.7
Oregon 78.9 65.5 13.5 7.9 4.3 1.7 14.8 16-5 56.83 2611 2618 68.8

R+T*: For those of you new to the PiRate Ratings, the R+T rating is our own invention.  It is an attempt to estimate the potential number of points above or below average that a team is capable of scoring due to superior rebounding, forcing and avoiding turnover, and especially getting and avoiding steals, the most punishing of turnovers, as it almost always leads to points and/or fouls.  The number represents the potential points scored against an average team just from the hustle stats.  Thus, at 19.8, Gonzaga could be expected to score 20 points per game against an average team just from their rebounding margin and turnover margin, with an emphasis on steals margin.  The 20 points is figured based on extra scoring opportunities and includes the possibility that fast break shots might be missed and the team might turn the ball over with this added opportunity.

Anything over 15.0 is outstanding, while anything over 25.0 is super and a major contributor to winning a lot of games.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Comparisons

Gonzaga vs. South Carolina

Power Conference: Reason–Since 1985 with the 64 or 68-team tournament, there have been 64 teams in the 32 National Championship Games.  60 of the 64 came from Power Conferences

 

Advantage–South Carolina, as the WCC is not a power conference, while the SEC is

 

Strength of Schedule: Reason–All National Champions since SOS records have been kept had SOS’s of 4 points better than average.  

Advantage–Slight to South Carolina.  Both teams qualify here, but USC’s SOS is about 2 1/2 points stronger per game on average.

R+T Rating: Reason–All Champions in since 2000 have had R+T above 10.0

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial advantage here, but South Carolina barely qualifies.  The Bulldogs should expect to have the chance to score 10 extra points from R+T Rating, meaning USC will have to make up for this with Field Goal margin.

Scoring Margin: Reason–Almost every team in the NCAA Championship Game throughout the history of the tournament have had scoring margins in excess of 8 points per game, and most had double-digit margins.

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial edge here, but USC also qualifies by the skin of their teeth.  Gonzaga’s 20+ scoring margin must be discounted a little due to their schedule, but we can adjust this to about 12 points if the Zags had played in the Pac-12.

 

Field Goal % Margin: Reason–Over 90% of all title participants have had FG% Margins in excess of 5% and a majority have had margins over 8%.  Teams with double digit margins have dominated title games when the opponent had margins under 5%.  There are exceptions, like 1985 when Villanova upset Georgetown.

Advantage: Major advantage to Gonzaga, as their FG% margin has the look of many of John Wooden’s UCLA teams.  USC does not qualify here with a FG% margin of just 2%.

PiRate Criteria Analysis: Except for conference class, Gonzaga has the look of a dominant national championship team.  However, class is just as important in college basketball as it is in horse racing.  A great horse from a small track that has several smaller stakes wins might have better numbers than the horses that run at Aqueduct and Santa Anita, and most of the time, these horses fail when running in a Grade 1 race.

Gonzaga is not your normal mid-major team.  They are more like Butler when the Bulldogs went to back-to-back title games and UNLV from 1990.  Gonzaga has the talent to win it all.  They have a dominant inside game and an underrated perimeter game.

South Carolina has a lot of heart, and their defense has stepped it up in the tournament.  The Gamecocks looked like this at the start of the season before injuries began to affect the perimeter defense.  Now, USC is fully healthy again, and the players remind us of the Gashouse Gang (The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Champions).  Opponents feel like they have gone 12 rounds with Joe Louis after 40 minutes of playing against them.

We expect South Carolina to keep this game close for the first 32 minutes or so, but after that Gonzaga’s superior inside strength will take its toll, as both teams tire late and begin to misfire from outside.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: Gonzaga 69  South Carolina 61

 

North Carolina vs. Oregon

Power Conference: Advantage–Very slight advantage to North Carolina, as the ACC is the equivalent of the AL East in Major League Baseball.  No Pac-12 team has won the title since Arizona 20 years ago.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–Slight edge to North Carolina by an average of about 2.2 points per game

R+T Rating: Advantage–North Carolina has the largest R+T Rating in all of Division 1, as they did last year when they came within a second of winning the title.  Oregon’s rating is almost 15, which means the Ducks are exceptional as well, just not as exceptional as UNC.  Also missing 6-10 Chris Boucher in this game should be somewhat important, and the  Tar Heels will have a decided rebounding advantage, a major component of R+T.

Scoring Margin: Advantage–A Push, as both teams have similar numbers.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage–Oregon has a minor but definite advantage with numbers that look a little more like a Championship Game participant, but teams have won the title with the same margin as the Tar Heels.  

PiRate Criteria Analysis: All during this tournament, we have been concerned about Oregon missing Boucher, thinking that eventually the Duck frontcourt would wear down in the second games of the two previous weekends.  That did not happen, as the Ducks rallied and found another gear.  We are now ready to admit to this mistake.  Oregon can win all the marbles without Boucher.  However, this is the first game where their opponent has the scary frontcourt.  Oregon needs Boucher not because of depth, but because they need a 6-10 bruiser to bang it with Carolina’s titans.

North Carolina’s perimeter play has had the look of a national champion.  The guards stepped up on both sides of the ball late in the games with Arkansas and Kentucky, refusing to end the season.  Remember too that UNC feels slighted for last year.  They had the national championship trophy in grasp until a last second shot moved that trophy over to Villanova’s locker room.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: North Carolina 85  Oregon 75

 

4 Interesting Possible National Title Games

You the typical college basketball fan is guaranteed to have a great title game Monday night no matter who wins tomorrow.  Let’s look at each of the four possibilities.

 

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina:  These are the two teams that looked like the most dominant throughout most of the season.  Earlier in the season, when these teams were playing in tournaments against quality opposition, they won handily, dominating in all facets of the game.  Also, this represents the old guard of UNC against the upstart that has been threatening to get this far for years in Gonzaga.  

Gonzaga vs. Oregon: There has not been an all West Coast National Championship Game before.  Of course, until the age when more than one team per conference going to the Big Dance, it was not possible, as these two teams would have both been in the West Regional.  Still, it would be interesting to have two teams from the Pacific Northwest facing off in the title game.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina: Many of you have not experienced a Dodgers-Yankees or Giants–Yankees World Series.  In our opinion, nothing can beat a Dodgers-Yankees World Series.  This would be an equivalent.  These two teams were both in the ACC for many years until the Gamecocks became an Independent following the 1971 season (when they were the ACC Champions).  Two former South Carolina head coaches, Frank McGuire and Eddie Fogler, had North Carolina ties, and Fogler has been BFFs with Roy Williams for decades.

South Carolina vs. Oregon: A lot of people would find it very interesting if the Seattle Mariners played the Washington Nationals in the World Series.  Not having the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, or Giants would be a great change of pace.  The Cleveland-Chicago World Series last year did more for Major League Baseball than American Pharoh’s winning the Triple Crown in 2015.  A Gamecock-Duck National Championship Game could make fans of all Division 1 teams from Power Conferences believe their team could do it too.

 

 

March 25, 2017

PiRate Ratings Elite 8 Preview

RED-WHITE-BLUE RATINGS

Saturday, March 25
Team Team Red White Blue
Gonzaga Xavier 11 8 3
Kansas Oregon 6 3 3

 

Sunday, March 26
Team Team Red White Blue
Kentucky North Carolina 1 -2 -1
Florida South Carolina 6 7 5

 

PiRate Ratings National Championship Criteria Breakdown of the Elite 8

Gonzaga vs. Xavier

Power Conference: Xavier-Yes, Gonzaga-No    Favors Xavier

Strength of Schedule: Xavier 58.70, Gonzaga 54.02  Favors Xavier by a little

R+T Rating: Gonzaga 20.3, Xavier 14.4  Favors Gonzaga by a little

Scoring Margin: Gonzaga 22.3, Xavier 4.0  Favors Gonzaga by a good amount

FG% Differential: Gonzaga 14.5, Xavier 1.1  Favors Gonzaga by a lot

Road W-L: Gonzaga 20-0, Xavier 12-9   Favors Gonzaga by a good amount

Winning Streaks: Gonzaga 29 & 6, Xavier 7 & 6  Favors Gonzaga by a little

Expected Possessions in this Game: 69 per team  Favors neither team

Outcome: Gonzaga has everything going for it except conference strength and schedule.  If the Bulldogs had the same numbers and played in the Big East, they would have the perfect resume for a national champion.  However, there hasn’t been a national champion from outside a power conference since UNLV won in 1990, and before that, it was Texas Western in 1966.  Of course, non power conference teams have made it to the Final Four numerous times in the past decade.

Criteria Selection: GONZAGA 75  Xavier 70

 

Kansas vs. Oregon

Power Conference: Yes for Both   Favors neither team

Strength of Schedule: Kansas 58.11, Oregon 56.83  Only slightly favors Kansas

R+T Rating: Oregon 14.8,  Kansas 12.6  Only slightly favors Oregon

Scoring Margin: Oregon 13.5, Kansas 12.0  Not much difference

FG% Differential: Oregon 7.7, Kansas 7.5  A Push

Road W-L: Kansas 16-3, Oregon 15-5  This favors Kansas, but it is almost a home game for KU

Winning Streaks: Kansas 18 & 8, Oregon 17 & 8  A Push

Expected Possessions in this Game: 71  Slightly favors Kansas

Outcome: We have to include two extra criteria here.  Oregon’s stats must be slightly discounted due to the loss of Boucher, and Kansas is playing this game in their favorite venue not named Phog Allen Fieldhouse, earning about two points of home court advantage.   Otherwise, this game would be a tossup, and it still might be rather close.  However, watching what KU did to a quality Purdue team on this court Thursday night, it makes us wonder if any college team can beat Kansas in KC.  Oops!  That happened in the Big 12 Tournament, so think again–except not today.

Criteria Selection: KANSAS 83  Oregon 75

 

Florida vs. South Carolina

Power Conference: Yes for both and both in the SEC so this is a third game between these teams.  Both teams won the game on their home floor.

Strength of Schedule: Florida 59.34, South Carolina 56.23  A slight edge to the Gators

R+T Rating: Florida 11.1, South Carolina 10.4  About the same

Scoring Margin: Florida 11.9, South Carolina 8.3  A small edge to the Gators

FG% Differential: Florida 4.3, South Carolina 2.3  A small edge to the Gators

Road W-L: Florida 18-7, South Carolina 10-7, actually about the same as UF played a lot of early neutral site games in their own backyard while their gym was being refurbished

Winning Streaks: Florida 9 & 7, South Carolina 8 & 5

Expected Possessions in this Game: 71  Favors neither team

Outcome: South Carolina’s defense in their Sweet 16 game against Baylor was the best we have seen in a game this late into the Big Dance since Georgetown manhandled Kentucky in 1984, which comes on top of one of the best offensive performances in their win over Duke.  Can the Gamecocks do this to a team that is not just a conference foe, but a rather strong rival?  Florida might also be a tad fatigued coming off the overtime win over Wisconsin, but it helps that the Gators are facing a team they know about without having to look at the film for a long time.  This will be the most exciting game of this round, even more exciting than the big UK-UNC match, because this will have the feel of the 7th game of an NBA playoff series.

Criteria Selection: FLORIDA 67  South Carolina 64

 

Kentucky vs. North Carolina

Power Conference: Yes for both  Before the tourney started, the ACC might have gotten a little extra over the SEC, but with 3 of the Elite 8 from the SEC, it almost makes us think about the opposite

Strength of Schedule: North Carolina 59.00, Kentucky 58.63   A Push

R+T Rating: North Carolina 31.0,  Kentucky 17.1  UNC has the best R+T in NCAA basketball, but Kentucky’s is rather high as well, and in the course of this game, it will not give the Tar Heels a lot of advantage

Scoring Margin: North Carolina 14.7, Kentucky 13.8  Not enough difference to matter

FG% Differential: North Carolina 5.6,  Kentucky 5.2  A Push

Road W-L: Kentucky 17-3, North Carolina 14-7,  A slight edge to the Wildcats

Winning Streaks: Kentucky 14 & 7, North Carolina 13 & 7, While this looks like another push, Kentucky’s 14-game winning streak is ongoing, and there is a definite difference in the Wildcats’ performance in this streak, while Carolina played its best basketball in November and December

Expected Possessions in this Game: 74,  which favors Kentucky just like it did in December

Outcome: We selected Kentucky to run the table and win the National Championship before the NCAA Tournament started, and nothing has changed our beliefs that the Wildcats are the best team in the nation when they want to play up to their potential.  It can be difficult to motivate a stable full of future NBA Lottery picks, but Coach John Calipari is a master psychologist with an ability to coerce through his many talks with his players.  When any of the starters and a couple reserves can go off and score 25 points in a game, it is hard to prepare in advance.  Stop Monk, and someone else has a career night.

Criteria Selection: KENTUCKY 85  North Carolina 73

March 23, 2017

PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 Sweet 16 Criteria Reveal

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:00 am

If you get to start anew with your brackets in whatever pool you are playing in as a participant, we have updated our PiRate Ratings Criteria for the Sweet 16.
If you played along with us, you should have 10 teams left in your Sweet 16, having 26 of the 32 first round winners. If you are in a league where you get one point for each winner that goes from 64 to 32, and two points for every correct Sweet 16 team, then you should be sitting pretty with 46 points. Hopefully, we will help you score some 3-point winners the next two nights, whether you must stick with your original picks, or you get to start over with the 16 remaining teams.

To understand our methods if you don’t already know, refer to this primer: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/bracketnomics-505-the-advanced-level-course-in-bracket-selection/

Here is a breakdown of each game for the next two nights, followed by an update at how the Elite 8 and Final Four look using our criteria.

Oregon vs. Michigan
Power Conference: Both teams

Strength of Schedule: Very slight edge to Michigan, but not enough to matter much

R+T Rating: Large edge to Oregon, as the Ducks’ R+T is 14.7 to the Wolverines’ 3.2. This means that on average, Oregon will have an opportunity through superior rebounding, ball-steals, and overall turnover differential to outscore Michigan by 11.5 points. There is a caveat, as the Ducks are missing a key component in Chris Boucher.
Ability to Win Away from Home: Oregon 14-5/Michigan 11-8. The Ducks have a decent advantage here, but not enough to move this game to the win column.

Winning Streak(s): The Ducks won 17 games in a row at one point this season and eight in a row another time, while Michigan had two, five-game winning streaks. Once again, Oregon has the advantage here, but we cannot annoint the Ducks winners just yet. Not having Boucher removes a lot of these advantages three rounds into the Big Dance.

Since the strengths of schedule are similar, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: Michigan = 8.9, Oregon = 13.8, Ducks look better here
FG% Differential: Michigan = 1.9, Oregon = 7.8, Ducks look much better here, as UM fails to qualify
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 68

This is a tough game to figure out, because Boucher’s absence makes Oregon less than what the stats say. Still, the Ducks come out as the superior team based on how we use the criteria. In our original picks, we had Louisville knocking Oregon out of the tournament in this round, but the Cardinals were sent packing last weekend.

PiRate Criteria Pick: OREGON

 

Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Power Conference: West Virginia is, Gonzaga is not. A slight edge to the Mountaineers

Strength of Schedule: WVU 55.55. Gonzaga 54.02, a slight edge to the Mountaineers

R+T Rating: WVU 19.1, Gonzaga 21.2, a push when SOS is applied

Ability to Win Away from Home: WVU 11-6, Gonzaga 19-0, even with SOS factored into the equation, Gonzaga has the advantage here.

Winning Streak(s): WVU 8 & 4, Gonzaga 29 & 5, Gonzaga enjoys a small advantage

We must handicap these stats with Gonzaga playing in a weaker conference and a slightly weaker schedule
Scoring Margin: WVU 15.3, Gonzaga 22.8, a push
FG% Differential: WVU 3.4, Gonzaga 14.5
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 71

This is where we see another #1 seed going down. Gonzaga’s main Achilles Heel is their conference, where the WCC has two other quality teams. Of course, teams like Butler, George Mason, VCU, and Wichita State have advanced to the Final Four, but the percentages say that these are exceptions and not the norm. When you are trying to win a contest by going with the percentages, you go with the norm unless you have a major reason not to do so. When looking at the obvious way this game will deviate from the norm, it comes from the vaunted WVU full-court press, something that Gonzaga has not faced from a quality team this year. It is our belief that GU will commit very few turnovers against the press and even capitalize with a couple of easy baskets, making it look like to the casual fan that the press is not working. However, we believe it will take the Bulldogs out of their offense just enough to cause them to rush and make poor shot selections, and it will also begin to wear their bigger, bulkier players down in the second half. A fatigued team is only a shell of itself, and once GU is fatigued, WVU will pull away and win this game.

PiRate Criteria Pick: WEST VIRGINIA

Kansas vs. Purdue
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: KU 58.11, PU 55.83, a decided advantage for the Jayhawks

R+T Rating: KU 12.3, PU 15.5, a credible advantage for the Boilermakers

Ability to Win Away from Home: KU 16-3, PU 12-5, a tiny advantage for KU

Winning Streak(s): KU 18 & 8, PU 7 & 6, KU has the advantage, but this isn’t overwhelming since PU has two 6+ streaks, and that is all we are looking for in this criterion

Since the strengths of schedule favor KU enough to matter, we must handicap the following stats.
Scoring Margin: KU 11.4, PU 12.6, with the handicap, KU has a minor advantage here
FG% Differential: KU 7.3, PU 6.4, a slight edge to the Jayhawks
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 72 which will favor KU in the 2nd half

In previous years where Purdue was very good, we would call for Kansas to easily win this game because in the past, Purdue did not own good R+T numbers. In fact, they were downright awful. However, this year is very different up in West Lafayatte, where Purdue has an R+T number strong enough to reach the Final Four. Unfortunately, Kansas has the criteria strong enough to win the National Championship, and thus we must go with the team that is only a tad better in this game. A Boilermaker win would not be a surprise at all, but we must go with the percentages.

PiRate Criteria Pick: KANSAS (but this should be an outstanding game)

Arizona vs. Xavier
Power Conference: Both (in recent years, we would discount the Pac-12 some, but not this year. Three league teams made the Sweet 16.

Strength of Schedule: Arizona 58.17, Xavier 58.70, a wash

R+T Rating: Arizona 18.0, Xavier 15.2, the Wildcats with an ever so slight advantage that is not enough to mean much

Ability to Win Away from Home: Arizona 17-3, Xavier 11-9, this is a big advantage for ‘Zona

Winning Streak(s): Arizona 15 & 6, Xavier 7 & 6, Another tiny advantage to the Wildcats

Since the strengths of schedule are almost identical, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: Arizona 11.0, Xavier 4.1, the Wildcats have a major advantage here, as XU’s scoring margin is well beneath the threshold of a Final Four contender.
FG% Differential: Arizona 6.0, Xavier 0.9, another big edge for Arizona
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 67

This one appears to be headed to a double-digit win for the higher-seeded team. Add on to the criteria the fact that Xavier has not been the same since Edmund Sumner was lost for the year at the end of January, and this game looks like a potential breeze for Arizona.
PiRate Criteria Pick: ARIZONA (by double digits)

 

North Carolina vs. Butler
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: UNC 59.00, BU 59.04, a total push

R+T Rating: UNC 31.1, BU 9.5, do we really need to go on after this criterion shows the Tar Heels with a chance on average to score 20 more points on rebounds, steals, and turnovers?

Ability to Win Away from Home: UNC 13-7, BU 12-5, pretty much even here

Winning Streak(s): UNC 13 & 7, BU 12 & 5, another push

Since the strengths of schedule are identical, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: UNC 14.8, BU 7.8, Give the Heels a little more advantage here
FG% Differential: UNC 5.5, BU 3.7, more props for the Heels
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 70 (Butler will want to slow the pace, but they will have to play catchup)

Pirate Criteria Pick: NORTH CAROLINA

Baylor vs. South Carolina
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: BU 59.40, USC 56.23, the Bears have a little advantage here

R+T Rating: BU 19.3, USC 10.4, Baylor with decent advantage in this one

Ability to Win Away from Home: BU 12-5, USC 11-7, another tilt to the Bears

Winning Streak(s): BU 15 & 5, USC 8 & 5, BU with yet another advantage

Since the strengths of schedule favors Baylor, the following stats must be handicapped a little
Scoring Margin: BU 10.1, USC 7.9, the criteria keeps tilting green
FG% Differential: BU 7.2, USC 1.9, this continues the trend
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 67, Baylor will conrol the pace.

PiRate Criteria Pick: BAYLOR

 

Kentucky vs. UCLA
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: UK 58.63, UCLA 54.00, a nice advantage for the Wildcats, but UCLA still meets the minimum number for Final Four consideration, and remember UCLA won at Kentucky earlier this season

R+T Rating: UK 17.2, UCLA 10.9

Ability to Win Away from Home: UK 16-3, UCLA 14-3, nothing to learn here

Winning Streak(s): UK 13 & 7, UCLA 13 & 10, not much here either

We must handicap the following stats in UK’s favor fde to the strengths of schedule
Scoring Margin: UK 13.9, UCLA 15.0, basically a wash
FG% Differential: UK 5.4, UCLA 10.2, The Bruins pick up a big advantage here with Championship-caliber differential
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 74, expect the most up-tempo game of the Sweet 16, and it could even top 75.

Face it: this is the game that is going to make this round. The winner most likely plays North Carolina in the Elite 8, making for a fantastic 48-hours in Memphis, where they could move these games to the Liberty Bowl and still not have enough seats for the fans that want to get in. Think of this game like the second Ali-Frazier fight. Or, if you are a Bruin fan over the age of 55, be forewarned and remember that Houston beat your Bruins in the 1967-68 regular season before meeting up with the worst ever whipping by a number one team in the history of the game.

PiRate Criteria Pick: KENTUCKY — Until the Wildcats are knocked out of the tournament, they have the best resume when comparing it to past National Champions.

 

Florida vs. Wisconsin
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: Fla 59.34, UW 54.79, The Gators have a decided advantage

R+T Rating: Fla 3.3, UW 3.3 This is a dirty wash, as neither team can expect to be a Championship team with these R+T ratings.

Ability to Win Away from Home: Fla 17-7, UW 12-7, Florida played a lot of neutral site games near home when their arena was not ready following remodeling. This becomes a wash

Winning Streak(s): Fla. 9 & 7, UW 9 & 8, a wash

Since the strengths of schedule favor the Gators, the following stats must be handicapped in UF’s favor. Scoring Margin: UF 6.2, UW 9.2, a wash
FG% Differential: UF 4.6, UW 4.2, a small edge for the Gators
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 69 We look for the Badgers to slow the tempo a little

When Florida isn’t playing Vanderbilt, they look like Final Four contenders. Actually, two of the three losses to the Commodores came after the Gators lost John Egbunu for the season due to injury, and UF went from 23-5 to 24-8 after that loss. This discounts the Gators’ results enough to make up for the schedule strength favor. In other words, this is a game where you flip a coin. We do not use the Four Factors in this criteria selection process, but if we were to use them for this game, it would just add a bunch of balance, as the teams would come out dead even. We must select somebody to go on and lose to Baylor Sunday, and just because they have a little more recent NCAA Tournament success, we will go with the Badgers.

PiRate Criteria Pick: WISCONSIN –but this is really a tie

Elite 8 to Final Four
Baylor over Wisconsin
Arizona over West Virginia
Kentucky over North Carolina
Kansas over Oregon

Semifinals
Baylor over Arizona
Kentucky over Kansas

Championship
Kentucky over Baylor

Note: When we first revealed the criteria for all 68 teams in the dance, we listed the top 10 teams with the best matching criteria to past champions. The top 6 teams in this list, and 8 of the 10 made the Sweet 16. Here is that top 10 again.
1. Kentucky
2. North Carolina
3. Baylor
4. Arizona
5. West Virginia
6. Gonzaga
7. Louisville
8. Villanova
9. Kansas
10. Purdue

 

March 22, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:33 pm

Sweet 16

Thursday, March 23
Team Team Red White Blue
Oregon Michigan -1 -1 -1
Gonzaga West Virginia 4 2 9
Kansas Purdue 4 4 1
Arizona Xavier 4 4 4

 

Friday, March 24
Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Butler 6 6 12
Baylor South Carolina 3 5 7
Kentucky UCLA 2 -1 1
Florida Wisconsin 5 4 -2

 

TV Schedule

Region Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Thursday, March 23
Midwest 7:09 PM CBS Oregon vs. Michigan
West 7:39 PM TBS Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Midwest 9:39 PM CBS Kansas vs. Purdue
West 10:09 PM TBS Arizona vs. Xavier
Friday, March 24
South 7:09 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Butler
East 7:29 PM TBS Baylor vs. South Carolina
South 9:39 PM CBS Kentucky vs. UCLA
East 9:59 PM TBS Florida vs. Wisconsin
           
Saturday, March 25
Midwest TBA TBA Oregon/Michigan vs. Kansas/Purdue
West TBA TBA Gonzaga/WVU vs. Arizona/Xavier
           
Sunday, March 26
South TBA TBA UNC/Butler vs. Kentucky/UCLA
East TBA TBA Baylor/S Car vs. Florida/Wisconsin

 

 

 

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