The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 7, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 7, 2018

Today’s PiRate Ratings For Conference Tournament Games

Home Team Visitor  
or Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
LaSalle Massachusetts 4.1
George Washington Fordham 6.1
Florida St. Louisville 0.7
North Carolina St. Boston College 3.4
Virginia Tech Notre Dame -0.3
North Carolina Syracuse 7.9
Oklahoma St. Oklahoma -0.5
Texas Iowa St. 5.6
Georgetown St. John’s -3.1
Marquette DePaul 5.2
Florida Int’l. Southern Miss. 0.2
UTSA UTEP 2.7
North Texas Louisiana Tech -1.9
UAB Florida Atlantic 9.0
Hampton Florida A&M 9.4
Bethune-Cookman Morgan St. 1.8
UNLV Air Force 9.4
Utah St. Colorado St. 5.7
Wyoming San Jose St. 12.6
Colorado Arizona St. -7.8
Stanford California 10.8
Washington Oregon St. -0.7
Oregon Washington St. 9.7
Bucknell Colgate 9.3
Georgia Vanderbilt 1.9
South Carolina Ole Miss 2.8
New Orleans Texas A&M-CC 2.9
Lamar Central Arkansas 0.8
Coastal Carolina Texas St. 1.2
Appalachian St. Little Rock 3.9
UL-Monroe Arkansas St. 2.4
Troy South Alabama 3.9

Games in RED are Championship Games for Automatic NCAA Tournament Bids.

Last Night’s Conference Tournament Championship Games

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
Charleston 83 Northeastern 76 ot
Horizon League Tournament
Wright St. 74 Cleveland St. 57
Northeast Conference Tournament
Long Island 71 Wagner 61
Summit League Tournament
South Dakota St. 97 South Dakota 87
West Coast Conference Tournament
Gonzaga 74 BYU 54

Teams With Automatic Bids to the Dance

Team Bid Conf. W-L
Charleston AUTO CAA 26-7
Gonzaga AUTO WCC 30-4
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9
Long Island AUTO NEC 18-16
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12
South Dakota St. AUTO Summit 28-6
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7
Wright St. AUTO Horizon 25-9

Conference Championship Games Scheduled For Wednesday

Patriot League Tournament
Championship–March 7
Time Home Visitors TV
7:30 PM #1 Bucknell #2 Colgate CBSSN

 

Conference Tournaments Beginning Today

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Washington, DC
First 4 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 LaSalle #13 Massachusetts  
8:30 PM #11 George Washington #14 Fordham  
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 VCU #9 Dayton NBCSN
2:30 PM #5 George Mason LaSalle or UMass NBCSN
6:00 PM #7 Richmond #10 Duquesne NBCSN
8:30 PM #6 St. Louis GWU or Fordham NBCSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Rhode Island VCU or Dayton NBCSN
2:30 PM #4 St. Joseph’s GMU/LaSalle/UMass NBCSN
6:00 PM #2 St. Bonaventure Richmond or Duquesne NBCSN
8:30 PM #3 Davidson Stl/GWU/Fordham NBCSN
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM URI/VCU/Dayton StJo/GMU/LaSalle/UMass CBSSN
3:30 PM StBon/Rich/Duq Dav/Stl/GWU/Fordham CBSSN
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

Rhode Island is a lock to get into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team if the Rams do not win the conference tournament.  St. Bonaventure is most likely in as well, but the Bonnies could sure use a quarterfinal win to make it secure.  Davidson is a potential bid stealer.  The Wildcats are the hottest team in the league and sport the league’s top defense.  Davidson knocked off Rhode Island in the regular season finale.

A player to watch in this tournament is Justin Wilson of VCU.  Wilson has the talent and ability to carry his team to the semifinals, where the right matchup could produce a dark horse for the league title.

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Kansas City
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 Oklahoma St. #9 Oklahoma ESPNU
8:00 PM #7 Texas #10 Iowa St. ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #4 Kansas St. #5 TCU ESPN2
1:30 PM #1 Kansas Okla. St. or Oklahoma ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 Texas Tech Texas or Iowa St. ESPNU
8:00 PM #3 West Virginia #6 Baylor ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Kan/Okl St/Okla Kan St. or TCU ESPN2
8:00 PM TTU/Tex/Iowa St. WVU or Baylor ESPN2
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPN

Kansas is aiming to secure a number one seed in the Big Dance, but the Jayhawks have been a bit inconsistent this year.  West Virginia swooned in the middle of the season, but the Mountaineers began to put it all together late in the season.  Kansas State, TCU, and Texas Tech had their moments during the season, but none of the three looked like a champion as March came marching in.  Oklahoma has taken on water to the point where a first-round loss to rival Oklahoma St. could sink the Sooners.  Texas and Baylor might need one tournament win to earn tournament lock status, while Iowa St. is really the only team that must win the automatic bid to get into the field of 68.  This should be one of the most exciting Big 12 Tournaments ever.

Big East Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #8 Georgetown #9 St. John’s FS1
9:30 PM #7 Marquette #10 DePaul FS1
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Xavier G’Town or St. John’s FS1
2:30 PM #4 Creighton #5 Providence FS1
7:00 PM #2 Villanova Marq. or DePaul FS1
9:30 PM #3 Seton Hall #6 Butler FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Xavier/GTown/St. Johns Creighton or Providence FS1
9:00 PM Villa/Marq/DePaul S. Hall or Butler FS1
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM     Fox

Except for Georgetown and DePaul, any of the other eight teams in this league could win the conference tournament.  Villanova finished behind Xavier in the standings, but the Wildcats own the Musketeers.  St. John’s finished in a last place tie, but the Red Hawks beat Duke, Villanova, and Marquette in consecutive games.  So, it would not be all that shocking if SJU found the magic in MSG and make a run.

Conference USA Tournament
Frisco, TX
Top 12 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
Note: This facility splits into two separate courts until the semifinals
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 Florida Int’l. #9 Southern Miss. TBA
6:30 PM #5 UTSA #12 UTEP TBA
8:30 PM #7 North Texas #10 Louisiana Tech TBA
9:00 PM #6 UAB #11 Florida Atlantic TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Middle Tennessee FIU or Southern Miss Stadium
6:30 PM #4 Marshall UTSA or UTEP Stadium
8:30 PM #2 Old Dominion N Tex or La Tech Stadium
9:00 PM #3 Western Kentucky UAB or FAU Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM MTSU/FIU/USM Marsh/UTSA/UTEP CBSSN
3:00 PM ODU/UNT/LT WKU/UAB/FAU CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

This should be an interesting tournament just for the logistics.  If you have ever attended a giant AAU tournament, you most likely have seen multiple courts set up with a curtain dividing the action.  This tournament is going to face something similar.  The event will take place where the Dallas Cowboys practice.  There’s nothing new about staging the Final Four in a domed stadium meant for football.  However, there will be two courts facing parallel to each other with a thick black curtain separating the games.  There will be no worries about the basketball rolling from one court to the other interrupting a game, because the courts will be set in opposite end zones.  However, there is no guarantee that the sounds from one court might be heard on the other court, especially referee whistles and scoreboard horns.

The tournament itself should be quite interesting.  Middle Tennessee romped over the rest of the league with the exception of Marshall.  Marshall’s style of play is totally different than all the other teams in the league and all but a few teams nationally.  The Thundering Herd are one of the most exciting teams to watch in all levels of basketball.

Even though they are highly ranked, Middle Tennessee is far from a lock to make the NCAA Tournament if they do not win the automatic bid.  The Blue Raiders are 49th in the RPI, 48th in predictive metrics, 3-3 in Quadrant 1 games, and 2-1 in Quadrant 2 games.  They are certainly on the Bubble.

Western Kentucky and Old Dominion are fairly evenly matched with enough talent to win the tournament and represent the league well in an opening round NCAA Tournament game.  UAB is the  only dark horse with the horses to pull off a couple of upset wins, but anything other than the top four seeds advancing to the semifinals would be shocking.

 

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:00 AM #8 UNLV #9 Air Force Stadium
1:30 PM #7 Utah St. #10 Colorado St. Stadium
4:00 PM #6 Wyoming #11 San Jose St. Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Nevada UNLV or Air Force CBSSN
2:30 PM #4 Fresno St. #5 San Diego St. CBSSN
6:00 PM #2 Boise St. Utah St. or Color. St. CBSSN
8:30 PM #3 New Mexico Wyoming or San Jose CBSSN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Nev/UNLV/AFA FSU or SDSU CBSSN
8:30 PM BSU/USU/CSU UNM/Wyom/SJSU CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

If your favorite power conference team is in need of a new coach, then your school’s administration should keep a watch on this conference.  This is a league that features a lot of excellent coaches that could move on to big time schools and win big, much like the MAC in football.

At the top of this list are Nevada’s Eric Musselman, Boise State’s Leon Rice, Wyoming’s Allen Edwards, Fresno State’s Rodney Terry, and New Mexico’s Paul Weir.

Nevada has an NCAA bid locked up, but unless another team wins the MWC Tournament, this will be a one-bid league.  Boise State was on the Bubble at one time, but the Broncos’ resume, which includes a road win at Oregon  and home win over Loyola (Chi.) still might be a bit too thin.

San Diego State is like the snake in the grass that the mice cannot see.  The Aztecs can usually play great defense, but their offense is a bit too inconsistent.  This year, that is not the case, as their offense is rather strong, but their defense has not been up to recent standards.  However, SDSU enters this tournament riding a six-game winning streak with evidence that their defense is starting to come around.  Of all the dark horses in all the conferences, we believe the Aztecs are the most dangerous.

 

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Colorado #9 Arizona St. Pac12
2:30 PM #5 Stanford #12 California Pac12
6:00 PM #7 Washington #10 Oregon St. Pac12
8:30 PM #6 Oregon #11 Washington St. Pac12
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Arizona Colorado or Ariz. St. Pac12
2:30 PM #4 UCLA Stanford or Cal Pac12
6:00 PM #2 USC Wash or Oregon St. Pac12
8:30 PM #3 Utah Oregon or Wash St. FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Ariz/Color/Ariz St UCLA/Stanford/Cal Pac12
8:30 PM USC/Wash/OreSt Utah/Oreg/WSU FS1
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     FS1

Will the on-court action be as exciting as the off-court action in this league?  Arizona had to withstand a lot of negative press and speculation about Coach Sean Miller and star player DeAndre Ayton.

Then, there is the case of the hottest team in November and early December becoming an also-ran in conference play, yet remaining on the Bubble.  In other years prior to the current set-up where last 10 or 12 games meant a lot, this metric is not considered by the Selection Committee.  Thus, Arizona State, 8-10 in the Pac-12 and tied for eighth, is still very much in consideration for an at-large bid, while Utah and Stanford, both 11-7 in the league are not seriously being considered.  Stanford swept ASU, clearly showing the world that they are a superior team, while Utah split with the Sun Devils.  It just goes to show that this current system, while being easy to understand, is seriously flawed.

Imagine if the San Diego Padres won series over the Cubs, Nationals, and Astros early in the season and led the NL West through the end of May and then swooned to a 83-79 finish, while the Dodgers go 92-70 but end up with losing records to the Cubs and Nats and lose their interleague series with Cleveland.  Would it be right for the Padres to go to the playoffs based on those April and May wins, while the Dodgers stay home, even if the Dodgers owned the Padres in head-to-head games?  This would be a joke!  But, in college basketball, it is hailed as the new genius way to determine who belongs in the Dance.

It is our opinion that conference standings mean something, in fact a lot more than most of the other factors used to pick at-large teams.  The third place team in a league is obviously better than the eighth place team in the same league.

 

Southeastern Conference Tournament
St. Louis
First 4 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 Georgia #13 Vanderbilt SECTV
8:30 PM #11 South Carolina #14 Ole Miss SECTV
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Texas A&M #9 Alabama SECTV
2:30 PM #5 Missouri Georgia or Vandy SECTV
6:00 PM #7 Mississippi St. #10 LSU SECTV
8:30 PM #6 Arkansas S. Carolina or Ole Miss SECTV
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Auburn A&M or Alabama ESPN
2:30 PM #4 Kentucky Mizzou/UGa/Vandy ESPN
6:00 PM #2 Tennessee Miss St. or LSU SECTV
8:30 PM #3 Florida Ark/USC/Ole Miss SECTV
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM Aub/A&M/Alabama UK/MO/GA/VU ESPN
2:30 PM UT/MSU/LSU Fla/Ark/USC/OM ESPN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM     ESPN

Co-champion Auburn is a wounder Tiger.  Without their one legitimate star inside presence, Anfernee McLemore, we do not see the Tigers making it to the Championship Game, and they could fall short of the Semifinals.

Co-champion Tennessee really only goes seven deep, which is okay in the NCAA Tournament, but having to win three games in three days will be tough.

Florida and Kentucky can always be counted to put it all together starting the second week of March.  The Gators and Wildcats have enough vulnerabilities this year that either team winning the tournament would be a mild surprise.

It is the next six teams in this league that should make this an exciting tournament.  Alabama is like the 33rd car in Indy Qualifying, always worried that another car might run an exceptional qualifying run and bump them from the field.  The Crimson Tide absolutely must win Thursday over Texas A&M to have any chance to make the field.  A win over Auburn on Friday would do the trick.

Who do we like in this tournament?  It all hinges on one player who has been in action for all of two minutes all season.  Will Michael Porter, Jr. return to action for Missouri?  If so, will he be able to play considerable minutes?  If so, then Missouri becomes our favorite to run the table and win the Arch Madness encore.  The Tigers are already strong enough to compete for the championship, so if Porter can come close to looking like he did when Missouri played Kansas in that pre-season charity game, the Tigers might capitalize on the return and cut down the nets in their home state.

Texas A&M is a team to watch.  The Aggies will have to fight off a feisty Alabama team playing for its tournament life.  An A&M win on Thursday would set up a quarterfinal game with an Auburn team that A&M handled in Auburn.

 

Southland Conference Tournament
Katy, TX
Top 8 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #5 New Orleans #8 Texas A&M-CC ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 Lamar #7 Central Arkansas ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #4 Sam Houston St. UNO or TAMCC ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 Stephen F. Austin Lamar or Cent. Ark. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #1 SE Louisiana SHSU/UNO/TAMCC ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 Nicholls St. SFA/Lamar/Cent. Ark. ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

How many times have you watched a classic horse race where an all-time favorite horse like American Pharoah or Secretariat is in third place entering the top of the stretch?  The champion may be down 4 or 5 lengths, and the horses leading him may have decent past performances that show they close well.  Still, all eyes are on the all-time great, because you just know the heroic equine is going to run a 11.4 final furlong and pass the two horses in front.

The Southland Conference has its Secretariat or Citation.  Stephen F. Austin enters the tournament as the number three seed, but the fans of top-seed Southeast Louisiana and second-seed Nicholls State will tell you that they fear the Lumberjacks.  SFA played the two co-champs in back-to-back games more than two months ago.  Since then, the Lumberjacks have improved by about 7-10 points.  SFA is the real favorite to win the tournament for the fourth time in five years.

 

Sun Belt Conference Tournament
New Orleans
First 3 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #8 Coastal Carolina #9 Texas St. ESPN3
2:00 PM #5 Appalachian St. #12 Little Rock ESPN3
5:00 PM #7 UL-Monroe #10 Arkansas St. ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 Troy #11 South Alabama ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #1 UL-Lafayette CCU or Tex St. ESPN3
2:00 PM #4 UT-Arlington Appy St. or Little Rock ESPN3
5:00 PM #2 Georgia St. ULM or Arky St. ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 Georgia Southern Troy or USA ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM ULL/CCU/Tex St UTA/Appy/Little Rock ESPN3
2:00 PM GSU/ULM/ASU GSU/Troy/USA ESPN3
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

Louisiana Lafayette (We know they now call themselves just Louisiana, but until it is the household name we will still add “Lafayette”) is the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament and be a formidable first-round opponent, but it is not a foregone conclusion that the Ragin’ Cajuns will slaughter three opponents and earn the one bid that will go to the league.

ULL has an incredible offense and can light up the scoreboard, but occasional defensive lapses have led to giving up too many points.  Georgia State hung 106 points on them two weeks ago.  Panthers’ coach Ron Hunter knows how to prepare his teams for tournament play, and Georgia State should be considered a co-favorite.

Texas-Arlington is a team to watch in this tourney.  The Mavericks usually win the hustle stats, and those extra opportunities mean even more in March.

 

Conference Tournaments Continuing Today

All times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Second Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Florida St. #9 Louisville ESPN
2:00 PM #5 North Carolina St. #12 Boston College ESPN
7:00 PM #7 Virginia Tech #10 Notre Dame ESPN2
9:00 PM #6 North Carolina #11 Syracuse ESPN2
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Virginia Fla. St. or Louis. ESPN
2:00 PM #4 Clemson NCSt/BC ESPN
7:00 PM #2 Duke VaT/N.Dame ESPN
9:00 PM #3 Miami (Fla.) North Carolina or Syracuse ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM UVa/FSU/Louis. Clem/NCSt/BC TBA
9:00 PM Duke/VaT/ND Mia.UNC/Syr TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Hampton #9 Florida A&M ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Bethune-Cookman #7 Morgan St. ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 Savannah St. #6 UNC-Central ESPN3
8:00 PM #4 North Carolina A&T #5 Norfolk St. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Hampton/FAMU NCAT/Norfolk St ESPN3
8:00 PM BCU/MSU Sav/UNCC ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February 15, 2018

2018 NCAA Division 1 Conference Tournament Schedule

Here is a look at the 32 Division 1 conferences’ tournament schedules.  A few league still have “to be announced starting times.”

America East Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
Tournament Re-seeded after quarterfinals
Top 8 Teams
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 ESPN3
TBA #4 #5 ESPN3
TBA #2 #7 ESPN3
TBA #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
TBA 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA Higher Lower ESPN2

Vermont (11-0/21-5) has won 14 games in a row and should be the overwhelming favorite to return to the NCAA Tournament.  The Catamounts are one of the better shooting teams from behind the arc, and they are sneaking good on the boards.  They will not be an easy out for a favored power conference team in the first round.

American Athletic Conference Tournament
Orlando, FL
First 3 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM # 8 #9 ESPNU
2:30 PM #5 #12 ESPNU
6:00 PM #7 #10 ESPNU
8:30 PM #6 #11 ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPNU
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBS
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBS
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

Cincinnati (12-0/23-2) faces three tough regular season  games on their schedule before the AAC Tournament begins.  The Bearcats play at Houston (9-3/19-5) tonight in a game you can see on CBSSN at 7 PM Eastern.  UC looks like a national championship contender.  The Bearcats are number one in the nation in field goal percentage defense and in scoring margin.  The team is one of the quickest teams we have seen in many years, and they plug defensive holes fast enough to give up many decent shots.  Coach Mick Cronin’s forces are better offensively this year, because they just may be the best passing team in college basketball.  The ball moves much quicker through the air than by the dribble, and combining fast player movement with crisp passing makes it hard to contain.  The only question is whether the Bearcats have played a tough enough schedule.  Road games at Houston and Wichita State will give us the answer.

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Washington, DC
First 4 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 #13  
8:30 PM #11 #14  
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 NBCSN
2:30 PM #5 12 or 13 NBCSN
6:00 PM #7 #10 NBCSN
8:30 PM #6 11 or 14 NBCSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 NBCSN
2:30 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 NBCSN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 NBCSN
8:30 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 NBCSN
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 CBSSN
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

Rhode Island (13-0/21-3) has secured a bid to the NCAA Tournament with or without the automatic bid.  Should somebody upset the Rams in the A-10 Tournament, there will be an extra A-10 team dancing, which means one bubble will pop.  URI has a 16-game winning streak, and Danny Hurley will become a hot commodity in the coaching wars in late March and April.

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Brooklyn
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #12 #13 ESPN2
2:00 PM #10 #15 ESPN2
7:00 PM #11 #14 ESPNU
       
Second Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN
2:00 PM #5 12 or 13 ESPN
7:00 PM #7 10 or 15 ESPN2
9:00 PM #6 11 or 14 ESPN2
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN
2:00 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
7:00 PM #2 7, 10, or 15 ESPN
9:00 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 TBA
9:00 PM 2, 7, 10, or 15 3, 6, 11, or 14 TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

Virginia (13-1/24-2) lost at home to rival Virginia Tech (7-6/18-8), placing the Hokies many places higher on the Bubble.  This tournament should be up for grabs, because there are many quality teams.  One will get hot and play its best basketball of the season, and that team will earn the automatic bid.  Keep an eye on North Carolina State (7-6/17-9).  First year coach Kevin Keatts proved to be one of the best tournament coaches when he was at UNCW, and his players have played well above their talent levels for him.  Just a tad more improvement, and the Wolf Pack could be dangerous in the Barclay’s Center.

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 26
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 Florida Gulf Coast #8 ESPN3
TBA #4 #5 ESPN3
TBA #2 #7 ESPN3
TBA #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA 1 or 8 4 or 5 ESPN3
TBA 2 or 7 3 or 6 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA     ESPN

Florida Gulf Coast (11-0/20-8) has already secured the top seed and will host every game it plays in the A-Sun Tournament.  This Eagles team is not as strong as the great dunking 2013 team that advanced to the Sweet 16, but it will be a major upset if FGCU loses.

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Kansas City
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 ESPNU
8:00 PM #7 #10 ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #4 #5 ESPN2
1:30 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPNU
8:00 PM #3 #6 ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN2
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPN

This will be one interesting and exciting tournament.  Except for Iowa State, any of the other nine teams has the ability to win this tournament.  It will be important to finish in the top six to avoid having to play an extra game to win the thing, but even the 7 through 9 seeds will have chances to win four games in four days.  Baylor (6-7/16-10) has won four straight games to move from the cellar to a fifth place tie.  The Bears are the hot team, and their wins at Oklahoma State and Texas plus a home win over Kansas proves that they are good enough to keep winning.  Saturday’s game against front-runner Texas Tech (10-3/22-4) should be one of the best of the weekend.

Big East Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #8 #9 FS1
9:30 PM #7 #10 FS1
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 FS1
2:30 PM #4 #5 FS1
7:00 PM #2 7 or 10 FS1
9:30 PM #3 #6 FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM 1, 8,or 9 4 or 5 FS1
9:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 FS1
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM     Fox

Villanova (10-3/23-3) dropped from the top of the polls and then dropped from the top of the conference.  Xavier (12-2/24-3) is the hot team, but the Musketeers have eeked out a lot of their wins this year.  Teams that pick up many close wins seldom advance to the Final Four, but it is not impossible.  Xavier pinned one of the losses on Cincinnati, and it is slightly possible that the Final Four could have two teams from the Queen City.

After losing 11 games in a row, St. John’s (3-11/14-13) has won four in a row, including two over top five teams (Duke and Villanova).  Seldom does the last place team look capable of winning a power conference tournament, but there is precedence.  Virginia won the ACC after finishing last in the standings one season in the 1970’s.

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Reno, NV
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 Pluto tv
2:30 PM #5 #12 Pluto tv
5:30 PM #7 #10 Pluto tv
8:00 PM #6 #11 Pluto tv
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Pluto tv
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Pluto tv
5:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Pluto tv
8:00 PM #3 6 or 11 Pluto tv
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 Pluto tv
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPNU

Three teams have put it together in the month of February, and one of the three should win the tournament.  Montana (13-0/20-5) has won 13 games in a row; Weber St. (10-2/17-7) has won 7 in a row; and Idaho (9-3/17-7) has won 4 in a row.  Montana plays at Idaho on Saturday.

Big South Conference Tournament
1st Round & Championship Game at Higher Seeds
Quarterfinals and Semfinals at #1 Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #7 #10 BSN
7:00 PM #8 #9 BSN
BSN TV at http://bigsouthsports.com    
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
3:30 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Home Visitors TV
6:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN3
8:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM     ESPN

UNC-Asheville (11-3/18-9) was the preseason pick to win the Big South, but the Bulldogs underachieved through early January.  Since then, UNCA has passed four teams to move to the top of the standings, riding a 7-game winning streak.  Keep an eye on eighth place Charleston Southern (6-8/11-14).  The Buccaneers have won four of five games, and they could easily be 9-9 by the time the tournament starts.  Many of CSU’s losses have been close, including road losses against the top part of the league.  The Bucs are peaking at the right time.

Big Ten Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #12 #13 Big Ten
7:45 PM #11 #14 Big Ten
       
Second Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 Big Ten
2:15 PM #5 12 or 13 Big Ten
6:30 PM #7 #10 Big Ten
8:45 PM #6 11 or 14 Big Ten
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Big Ten
2:15 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 Big Ten
6:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Big Ten
8:45 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 Big Ten
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 CBS
4:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 CBS
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:30 PM     CBS

The Big Ten season is ending early this year so the league can stage its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.  MSG also hosts the Big East Tournament.

The top three teams (Ohio St. 13-1/22-5), Michigan St. (13-2/25-3), and Purdue (12-2/23-4) have separated themselves from the rest of the field and are all safely in the Dance.  Michigan (10-5/21-7) is close to a lock.  There are three or four other teams that will begin the tournament needing multiple wins to have a chance to get into the field.  Nebraska (11-4/20-8) is a victim of the new way of picking at-large teams.  In past years, the Cornhuskers would be a near lock with an 11-4 record in the Big Ten.  With the new quadrant system being used, Nebraska does not have a Quadrant 1 win and not enough Quadrant 2 wins.  The Huskers have three winnable conference games and could be 14-4 in the league and still back on the Bubble, so NU will need to do some damage in the Big Apple.

Big West Conference Tournament
Anaheim, CA
Top 8 Teams Qualify & Tournament Re-seeds for Semifinals
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #2 #7 FSWest
2:30 PM #3 #6 FSWest
6:00 PM #1 #8 FSWest
8:30 PM #4 #5 FSWest
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining TBA
9:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

UC-Santa Barbara (8-2/19-5), UC-Irvine (8-3/13-14), UC-Davis (7-4/16-9), Cal State Fullerton (7-4/14-9), and Long Beach St. (7-4/13-14) have stayed bunched together all season, and no team has a great edge over any other.  With the game at the Honda Center in Anaheim, there are basically three home teams in UCI, CSF, and LBSU.  This one is up for grabs.

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
North Charleston, SC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 CAA TV
8:30 PM #7 #10 CAA TV
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Comcast
2:30 PM #4 #5 Comcast
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 Comcast
8:30 PM #3 #6 Comcast
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     CBSSN

In the late 1990’s John Kresse took College of Charleston to multiple NCAA Tournaments.  The Cougars (11-3/20-6) have not been to the Big Dance since, but this looks like the most promising year this century for C of C.  The Cougars are strong in the backcourt and have a beefy forward in Jarrell Brantley.

Conference USA Tournament
Frisco, TX
Top 12 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
Note: This facility splits into two separate courts until the semifinals
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 TBA
6:30 PM #5 #12 TBA
8:30 PM #7 #10 TBA
9:00 PM #6 #11 TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Stadium
6:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Stadium
8:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Stadium
9:00 PM #3 6 or 11 Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBSSN
3:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

Middle Tennessee (12-1/20-5) will be the favorite, but the Blue Raiders will not waltz to an easy three-peat in CUSA.  The tournament has been moved to the North Dallas suburbs, where it will be played on the Cowboys’ practice facility.  The football field will be split into two courts so that two games can be played at a time (women’s tournament will also be there simultaneously).

The next three best teams, Western Kentucky (10-2/18-7), Old Dominion (10-2/19-5), and Marshall (8-4/17-8) have very little chance of sniffing an at-large bid.  WKU may have a slight chance, but realistically the Hilltoppers need to win out in the regular season and make it to the finals before their at-large hopes would be legitimate.

It’s the tier below these top four that should concern Middle Tennessee the most.  North Texas (7-5/14-11) is virtually a home team in the conference tournament.  UTSA (7-5/14-11) has improved by 10 points since December.  UAB (7-6/16-10) has not yet played up to its talent level, which means the Blazers could peak at tournament time.

Horizon League Tournament
Detroit (Motor City Madness)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
8:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
5:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
8:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
       
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
7:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPNU
9:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPNU
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

Northern Kentucky (12-2/19-7) and Wright St. (11-3/19-8) have flip-flopped between first and second place all year.  Northern Kentucky is the defending conference champions, and the Norse were the overwhelming favorite to repeat this year.

There are a couple more teams to consider in this tournament.  UIC (10-4/15-12) has quietly moved into third following a 7-game winning streak, and the top two teams still must visit UIC Pavilion.  Oakland (8-6/16-11) has a powerful, up-tempo offense, which is not all that consistent.  When consistent, the Golden Grizzlies have the ability to beat any league opponent.  Oakland won by 13 at NKU.

Ivy League Tournament
Philadelphia (Ivy Madness)
Top 4 Teams Qualify
Semifinals EST Championship Game EDT
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM #1 #4 ESPNU
3:00 PM #2 #3 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

Penn (7-1/17-7) and Harvard (7-1/12-11) have secured half of the spots in the field of four that will square off at the Palestra.  The Quakers will have the home court advantage.

The other two spots are still very much up for grabs with five teams competing and six conference games remaining.  This is a down year for the Ivy, and the winner of the tournament will most likely face a #1 seed in the first round if not forced to go to Dayton for the First Four.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Albany, NY
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM # 8 #9 ESPN3
7:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
9:00 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
9:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
9:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

This is a league in transition, as its previous top teams have settled back in the pack.  The current top three in the standings are the three teams playing their best ball in February, and we would tend to believe that one of the trio will win the automatic bid.  Those three teams are: Rider (12-2/19-7), Canisius (12-2/18-9), and Niagara (10-4/17-10).  For Rider and Canisius, it was the mid 1990’s when they were in the NCAA Tournament, while Niagara went in 2007.

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Cleveland (First Round at Higher Seeds)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #8 #9 TBA
TBA #5 #12 TBA
TBA #7 #10 TBA
TBA #6 #11 TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
9:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBSSN
9:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 See *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

Buffalo (11-2/19-7) looked like the clear-cut favorite until the last week or so, and now the Bulls have stiff competition from Toledo (11-2/19-7).  However, historically, the MAC Tournament has seen an abnormally large number of surprises.  We don’t expect it to be any different this year.  Central Michigan (5-8/16-10) has disappointed this year, as their talent level is better than their results so far.  The Chippewas are a very longshot to win the tournament, but it would not surprise us if CMU looks much stronger in Cleveland–if they get there.

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Norfolk, VA
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 #13 ESPN3
9:00 PM #5 #12 ESPN3
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
8:00 PM 4 or 13 5 or 12 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 ESPN3
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

The winner of this conference may be forced to go to the First Four round in Dayton, but there is one team from this league that no other 16-seed wants to see in Dayton.  Savannah State (10-1/13-13) is the most up-tempo team in Division 1.  Watching the Tigers play is the closest thing to watching UNLV play in the 1970’s (not like Loyola Marymount under Paul Westhead.)  Former Georgetown great Horace Broadnax has had a total change in coaching paradigm in the last two years.  He used to coach like his mentor John Thompson, emphasizing defense and patient offense.  Now, Broadnax’s Tigers play like a Mike D’Antoni-coached team.  There is little need for a shot-clock in SSU games.  The Tigers average better than 84 possessions per game.  They take more than 73 field goal attempts per game.  They force more than 18 turnovers per game and average close to 10 steals per game, and they score 86.5 points per game.  If it weren’t for an inability to rebound, we would have SSU on our list of low majors with a legitimate chance to upset a power team in the Round of 64.  If they get to the NCAA Tournament and advance past the First Four, they will be forced to play somebody like Virginia, Villanova, or Cincinnati, and they don’t have the muscle to pull off the biggest upset in the history of the Dance.  However, if they get there, you will want to watch them play.

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
St. Louis (Arch Madness)
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 MVC TV
8:30 PM #7 #10 MVC TV
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 MVC TV
2:30 PM #4 #5 MVC TV
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 MVC TV
8:30 PM #3 #6 MVC TV
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
5:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

With Wichita State now in the AAC, it figured that the Valley race would be wide open.  While it still may be so, it sure looks like Loyola (Chi.) (12-3/22-5) is doing its best to return to glory.  The Ramblers won it all in 1963, and they have only been back to the NCAA Tournament one time since legendary coach George Ireland retired in the late 1960’s.  Southern Illinois (10-5/18-10) was a national joke a few years ago when Coach Barry Hinson went on one of the most famous rants in coaching history, and ESPN featured it for two days.  Hinson has never taken a team to the NCAA Tournament in 17 years as a head coach.

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:00 AM # 8 #9 Stadium
1:30 PM #7 #10 Stadium
4:00 PM #6 #11 Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 CBSSN
2:30 PM #4 #5 CBSSN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 CBSSN
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 CBSSN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

In our opinion, Eric Musselman should be the National Coach of the Year.  His Nevada Wolfpack (11-2/22-5) has 10 transfers on the roster.  Musselman inherited a 22-game loser in Reno when he arrived three years ago and immediately turned the program around, going 24-14 and winning the CBI Tournament.  He won both the regular season and conference tournament last year, but Nevada quickly got behind by double digits against Iowa State in the first round and went home after one game.

This year, Nevada has the tools to do some damage in the tournament.  They are most likely going back as an at-large team if they do not win the automatic bid.

Boise State (10-4/20-6) is worthy of making the tournament even if the Broncos cannot top Nevada for the conference tournament title.  Former Mark Few assistant Leon Rice has built the BSU program up to where it is now on par with the football program.  Rice could be in line for a pay raise and a relocation to a power conference school.

Northeast Conference Tournament
All Games at Higher Seed
Top 8 Teams Qualify and Tournament Re-seeds after Quarterfinals
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 28
Time Home Team Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 NEC *
TBA #2 #7 NEC *
TBA #3 #6 NEC *
TBA #4 #5 NEC *
* NEC Front Row at http://necfrontrow.com/
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Home Team Visitors TV
12:00 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
2:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The NEC is a candidate for placing its automatic qualifier in a First Four game.  No league team this year has enough force to do any damage in the NCAA Tournament.  First place Wagner (11-3/18-7) is not much of a favorite to win the NEC Tournament.  The Seahawks’ three conference losses came to teams in the lower half of the standings.

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Evansville, IN
Top 8 Teams Qualify, Southeast Missouri ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #5 #8 OVC
8:30 PM #6 #7 OVC
OVC Network at http://www.ovcdigitalnetwork.com/watch
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 5 or 8 OVC
8:30 PM #3 6 or 7 OVC
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 4, 5, or 8 ESPNU
9:00 PM #2 3, 6, or 7 ESPNU
       
Championship–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament is set up so that the top two seeds have large advantages over the rest of the field.  The top two start in the semifinals and only have to win twice to earn the automatic bid.

It also severely handicaps the rest of the field when the top two are considerably better than the rest of the field.  Murray State (12-2/20-5) and Belmont (12-2/20-7) have dominated the league for years, and both are capable of knocking off a favored opponent in the opening round.

The tournament has moved away from Nashville to Evansville, Indiana, so Belmont will not have a home town advantage.  Murray, Kentucky, is an easy drive from Evansville, but then so is Nashville.  It should make for a grand finale if the Racers and Bruins meet for all the marbles.

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM # 8 #9 Pac12
2:30 PM #5 #12 Pac12
6:00 PM #7 #10 Pac12
8:30 PM #6 #11 Pac12
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Pac12
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Pac12
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 Pac12
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 Pac12
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 FS1
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     FS1

The Pac-12 may not be the best conference in the West this year.  The best four teams, maybe five teams, out West are not from the Pac-12.  Arizona (10-3/20-6) may not be as strong as Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Nevada, Boise State, and maybe New Mexico State.  So, it figures that the league will send a minimum number of teams to the Big Dance, maybe just two or three.

Arizona State (7-6/19-6) was once a lock for the NCAA Tournament, and the Sun Devils will most likely make it into the field because of the new criteria, where the way a team ends the season is not considered at all.  Wins over Kansas, Kansas State, and Xavier should be enough to get Bobby Hurley’s team into the field, where you can bet they will be placed in position to play Rhode Island in the first or second game, and the Committee will claim it was purely coincidental.

The Arizona rivals face off in Tempe tonight, and it should be one worth watching.  Tune in to ESPN at 9:00 PM Eastern.

USC, Oregon, and Washington still have work to do to make it into the field, while Utah, Colorado, and Stanford are probably looking at only an automatic bid as a means of Dancing.

Patriot League Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #7 #10 Stadium
TBA #8 #9 Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 Bucknell 8 or 9 Stadium
TBA #4 #5 Stadium
TBA #2 7 or 10 Stadium
TBA #3 #6 Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA 1 or 8 4 or 5 CBSSN
TBA 2 or 7 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA     CBSSN

Bucknell (13-2/19-9) secured the top seed this past weekend, so the Bison will host any game they play in the Pat Tourney.  One of their two league defeats came at home, so it is possible that they could be upset, but not very likely.

Southeastern Conference Tournament
St. Louis
First 4 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 #13 SECTV
8:30 PM #11 #14 SECTV
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 SECTV
2:30 PM #5 12 or 13 SECTV
6:00 PM #7 #10 SECTV
8:30 PM #6 11 or 14 SECTV
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN
2:30 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 SECTV
8:30 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 SECTV
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
2:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 ESPN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM     ESPN

There will be a double dose of Arch Madness this year, as the SEC moves its tournament to St. Louis.  It happens to coincide with the return to power of Missouri (8-5/18-8), and the Tigers’ fans may rival those from the Bluegrass.  Coach Cuonzo Martin was born just across the river, and he will have a loyal following as Mizzou has to be considered a co-favorite to win the conference tournament.  Now, if Michael Porter can suit up and play any amount of meaningful minutes, Missouri will become the odds-on favorite to win the tournament.

Auburn (11-2/23-3) will win the regular season title, while Tennessee (9-4/19-6) will most likely finish second, but the PiRates do not believe either team’s style of play and talent can win three games in three days.  If Missouri doesn’t win the tournament, it could be Alabama (8-5/17-9), a team with tough defense and enough offense to win three times in three days.

Of course, there are Florida (8-5/17-9) and Kentucky (6-7/17-9).  Who would ever count out either team with the incredible talent on both rosters?  It would not be a surprise if one or both peaked at the right time.

Southern Conference Tournament
Asheville, NC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
7:30 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
6:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

This looks like a two-team race.  East Tennessee (13-1/22-5) was cruising along with the nation’s best winning streak at 16, before they crashed and burned at UNC-Greensboro (11-2/20-6).  If anybody else wins the automatic bid, it is going to be a quick one and done.  Both ETSU and UNCG have the talent to win an opening round game.  ETSU has the strong front court, while UNCG has a fantastic press defense.

Southland Conference Tournament
Katy, TX
Top 8 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #5 #8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 #7 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #4 5 or 8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 6 or 7 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #1 4, 5, or 8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 3, 6, or 7 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

This is no longer Stephen F. Austin (10-3/21-5) and the 7 Dwarfs.  The Lumberjacks may very well win the conference tournament again this year, but they won’t just show up and receive the trophy.

Nicholls State (11-2/17-9) and Southeast Louisiana (11-3/17-10) rank ahead of SFA at the moment, and Sam Houston State (10-4/16-11) and New Orleans (10-4/13-12) are bunched up in a tight race.  None of the contenders have exceptionally strong resumes, so this league could be staring at a 16-seed in the tourney.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round at Higher Seed, Semifinal and Final Round in Houston
Grambling and Alabama A&M are ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 TBA
TBA #4 #5 TBA
TBA #2 #7 TBA
TBA #3 #6 TBA
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 TBA
8:30 PM 2 or 7 3 or 6 TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     ESPN2

It hurts that the best team, Grambling (10-3/14-12) in the league is ineligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.  The other nine teams have losing records, so the winner of this conference tournament will almost assuredly be playing in Dayton in the First Four round.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-4/9-18) went 0-14 outside of the SWAC, yet the Lions could be the favorite to win the tournament.  Southern (8-5/12-14) and Alabama St. (6-6/6-18) are actually the two hottest teams at the moment.

Summit League Tournament
Sioux Falls, MS
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 #8 MidcoSN
8:30 PM #2 #7 MidcoSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #4 #5 MidcoSN
8:30 PM #3 #6 MidcoSN
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 MidcoSN
8:30 PM 2 or 7 3 or 6 MidcoSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

The top two teams will send a lot of fans to Sioux Falls to make their games feel like home games.  South Dakota State (10-1/22-6) and South Dakota (10-2/23-6) have to be considered prohibitive co-favorites, but we will keep a careful eye on Fort Wayne (6-6/17-12).  The Mastodons are like the Boston Red Sox during the Ted Williams days.  You know they are going to score, score, score with a powerful offense, but you never know if they are going to give up too many to the opponent.  If you saw the second half of Fort Wayne’s two-point loss at SDSU, you know that when this team puts it all together, they can beat any team in the Summit.  Indiana coach Archie Miller will tell you how talented these guys are.  The question is, will they ever put it all together for three consecutive days?

Sun Belt Conference Tournament
New Orleans
First 3 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM # 8 #9 ESPN3
2:00 PM #5 #12 ESPN3
5:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:00 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN3
5:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 ESPN3
2:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

A month ago, this tournament looked like a mere formality where the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (11-1/21-4) would party in New Orleans.  As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friends.”  From almost out of nowhere, Georgia State (10-3/19-7).  A recent 10-game winning streak, which included a 14-point trouncing of ULL, brought GSU to within a game of first place.

West Coast Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 The W
8:00 PM #7 #10 The W
The W at: http://www.wccsports.com/ot/upcoming-events.html
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #3 #6 The W
3:00 PM #4 #5 The W
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
9:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN2
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM     ESPN

We know about the top two teams, as they are always in contention for an NCAA bid every year.  Gonzaga (13-1/23-4) is no longer a mid-major team.  Once you make it to within a couple minutes of a national championship, you deserve the ranks to join teams from the past like UNLV, Marquette, Jacksonville, and UTEP that came to national prominence from out of nowhere.

Saint Mary’s (13-1/24-3) is not that far behind Gonzaga.  With Jock Londale in the post, they may have the top center in the nation.  SMU should get into the Dance as an at-large if they do not win the automatic bid.

Now, the question is can a third team earn a bubble-busting spot by beating both of the league powers?  BYU (9-5/20-7) certainly has the talent to get hot and run the table at Orleans Arena.  The Cougars can be tough to match up with, especially when they get their running game going.

Western Athletic Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Home Visitors TV
12:00 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
2:30 PM #2 #7 ESPN3
6:00 PM #1 #8 ESPN3
8:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 3 or 6 2 or 7 ESPN3
8:30 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPNU

This is a league with one really good team and three or four average teams that have the capability to sneak into the tournament title.  It would be ashamed for this league if New Mexico State (9-0/22-3) were to be upset in the tournament and end up as a 1-seed in the NIT.  The Aggies may have their best team in Las Cruces since Lou Henson took the 1970 team to the Final Four.  Coach Chris Jans has been rebuilding his reputation, and after a stint as Gregg Marshall’s assistant at Wichita State, he has made a strong comeback in his first year at NMSU.  He may be able to set up a long dynasty in the WAC.

Before you think that the Aggies will go through the motions and win the league title, there are four other decent teams that can beat them.  Seattle (6-3/17-9) and Utah Valley (6-3/17-8) are tied for second, but we believe that Grand Canyon (6-4/17-9) may be the team that best has the tools to upset NMSU.  The Antelopes are coached by former NBA tough man, Dan Majerle, and his teams are an extension of his hustle.

 

November 30, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for December 1-2, 2017 (with 10-point teasers)

For those of you still following this weekly feature, we’ll buy and read your book you will write dealing with masochism.  This has been a lousy year for the PiRate Picks.  This week, there are not enough college games to put together many Money Line parlays, so we are dusting off and bringing out of mothballs our former claim to fame to give us 4 plays–10-point teasers.

For those of you who are not wise to a 10-point teaser, this type of play allows the player to move the point spread or totals number by 10 points in either direction and then play a parlay at certain odds.  We like to combine either 3 teams at -110 or 4 teams at +136 odds, and this week, we have two 4-game parlays at +136.

Thus, a winning week can be had with a 2-2 record, and at 3-1, it can be a very profitable week.  At 4-0, we get out of the red and into the black.  At 1-3 or 0-4, we take more Maalox.

Remember this most important aspect to this weekly feature–all our picks are just for fun, and we never wager real coin or currency or Bitcoins on these picks. We suggest you do the same as well.

#1 @ +273  
Must Win Must Lose
USC Stanford
New Mexico St. South Alabama
Clemson Miami
Oklahoma TCU

 

#2 @ +230  
Must Win Must Lose
Wisconsin Ohio St.

 

#3 10-point teaser +136  
Clemson Miami Under 57
Wisconsin Ohio St. Under 62
Florida St. UL-Monroe Under 75
Oklahoma TCU Under 73.5

 

#4 10-point teaser +136  
Stanford USC Under 69
Florida Atlantic North Texas Under 84
Central Florida Memphis Under 92
Auburn Georgia Under 58

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 17, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Football Forecast for September 21-23, 2017

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:15 pm

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
South Florida Temple 18.3 15.9 19.4
Boise St. Virginia 5.1 3.0 3.2
Arizona Utah -3.6 -6.7 -5.6
Appalachian St. Wake Forest -6.1 -7.6 -5.5
North Carolina Duke 2.7 2.8 2.6
Purdue Michigan -11.7 -9.6 -10.2
Georgia Tech Pittsburgh 10.8 8.0 9.5
Iowa Penn St. -14.3 -12.2 -15.6
Clemson Boston College 36.5 31.9 36.8
Florida St. North Carolina St. 16.5 14.8 16.1
Georgia Mississippi St. 7.7 8.2 7.3
South Carolina Louisiana Tech 22.1 20.1 20.2
Tennessee Massachusetts 31.5 30.3 29.8
Kansas West Virginia -18.4 -15.9 -19.0
Kentucky Florida 0.5 -0.1 1.0
Maryland Central Florida 5.9 6.0 5.1
Louisville Kent St. 37.5 34.8 36.7
Eastern Michigan Ohio U 6.9 4.7 6.0
Central Michigan Miami (O) 1.3 -0.8 -0.4
Virginia Tech Old Dominion 31.1 27.6 31.1
Charlotte Georgia St. -6.7 -3.4 -6.1
Indiana Georgia Southern 28.1 26.8 28.9
Buffalo Florida Atlantic 2.1 1.5 3.0
Nebraska Rutgers 6.9 8.6 6.4
Miami (Fla.) Toledo 22.0 19.7 19.5
Colorado Washington -12.3 -10.9 -15.2
New Mexico St. UTEP 18.0 11.4 16.8
Navy Cincinnati 11.2 9.9 9.4
Ohio St. UNLV 44.7 39.0 43.5
Michigan St. Notre Dame -11.7 -6.4 -11.1
Wyoming Hawaii 11.2 7.5 9.8
Tulsa New Mexico 14.0 13.2 13.6
LSU Syracuse 11.2 11.2 12.7
Troy Akron 14.1 10.5 13.6
Middle Tennessee Bowling Green 14.3 14.4 14.0
Missouri Auburn -21.3 -21.8 -22.2
Houston Texas Tech 4.6 3.7 5.6
SMU Arkansas St. 10.8 9.4 9.4
Vanderbilt Alabama -18.3 -15.4 -17.8
Tulane Army 0.7 1.5 0.1
Oklahoma St. TCU 14.2 15.1 15.7
Western Kentucky Ball St. 17.8 14.3 17.4
North Texas UAB 20.3 17.0 18.3
Texas St. UTSA -19.2 -18.0 -22.4
Air Force San Diego St. -6.3 -6.0 -7.2
Texas A&M Arkansas 1.1 -0.5 -0.1
Rice Florida Int’l. 0.1 0.9 -0.7
South Alabama Idaho 4.9 5.6 4.1
UL-Lafayette UL-Monroe 5.4 6.3 6.7
Baylor Oklahoma -25.9 -21.3 -27.2
California USC -16.4 -18.4 -18.2
Washington St. Nevada 36.0 30.2 33.2
Arizona St. Oregon -11.0 -7.1 -11.2
Stanford UCLA 9.8 9.2 9.3
San Jose St. Utah St. 0.3 0.8 0.5
Connecticut East Carolina 6.6 7.9 7.5
This Week’s FBS vs. FCS Games
Home Visitor PiRate
Coastal Carolina Western Illinois 5
Western Michigan Wagner 40
Memphis Southern Illinois 26

Same Two Again?
With Clemson’s dominating win at Louisville, our ratings now show the top two teams from last year resuming the top two spots again this season. For now, Alabama stays ahead of Clemson in our ratings, but internally, our Retrodictive Ratings show that Clemson is less than .2 point behind the Tide and just .5 point behind ‘Bama in the Predictive Ratings.

Who at this point looks like the best contenders for the other two Playoff spots? Oklahoma figures in as a high contender, but then so does Oklahoma State. If either runs the table, they are in. Out west, Washington and USC hold the top two spots, but Washington State, Utah, and Colorado are still in contention, as is a Dark Horse Cal Bears team.

In the Big Ten, Penn State has the look of a team that can go into the Horseshoe and do the same thing to Ohio State that Oklahoma did. Michigan is chugging along but looks to be missing something and probably cannot run the table. Ohio State is still in the Big Ten race, but to make the Playoffs now, the Buckeyes must start winning consistently and take out all Big Ten foes. In the West, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota are in contention but any of these teams will have to run the table to make it to the Final Four.

Aside from the Crimson Tide, Georgia and Mississippi State have chances to earn a playoff spot. The two Bulldogs face off in what has become a very important contest on Saturday.

Top Group of 5 Teams
Two teams appear to be at the top of the list for the Group of 5 Automatic New Year’s 6 Bowl Bid, but there are plenty of contenders, and it is much too early to call any one team convincingly ahead of the rest.

South Florida has had a little difficulty early in their games, but once the Bulls get on track, they play competently enough to run the table and earn that NY6 Bowl. San Diego State actually has a bigger win, having just knocked off Stanford, but the Aztecs still have a difficult couple of games to take the bid. Memphis, Houston, Central Florida, Toledo, and Navy are the top contenders for now.

PiRate Retrodictive Ratings

(like a poll based on what they have done to date)

PiRate Retrodictive
# Team
1 Alabama
2 Clemson
3 Washington
4 Oklahoma
5 USC
6 Penn St.
7 LSU
8 Ohio St.
9 Oklahoma St.
10 Wisconsin
11 Michigan
12 Miami (Fla)
13 Georgia
14 Louisville
15 Florida St.
16 Virginia Tech
17 Mississippi St.
18 TCU
19 Auburn
20 Stanford
21 Utah
22 Washington St.
23 Iowa
24 Florida
25 Colorado
26 Kansas St.
27 Tennessee
28 Minnesota
29 Houston
30 San Diego St.
31 South Florida
32 Georgia Tech
33 Wake Forest
34 Oregon
35 Notre Dame
36 Vanderbilt
37 West Virginia
38 Boise St.
39 Toledo
40 Duke
41 Kentucky
42 Michigan St.
43 South Carolina
44 UCLA
45 Maryland
46 California
47 Texas A&M
48 North Carolina St.
49 Memphis
50 Northwestern
51 Navy
52 Texas
53 Western Michigan
54 Texas Tech
55 Tulsa
56 Arkansas
57 North Carolina
58 Air Force
59 Ole Miss
60 Pittsburgh
61 Nebraska
62 Colorado St.
63 Appalachian St.
64 Central Florida
65 Temple
66 Purdue
67 UTSA
68 Iowa St.
69 Indiana
70 Arizona
71 Northern Illinois
72 Army
73 Troy
74 Louisiana Tech
75 Arkansas St.
76 Western Kentucky
77 SMU
78 BYU
79 Eastern Michigan
80 Syracuse
81 Southern Miss.
82 Boston College
83 Old Dominion
84 Illinois
85 Tulane
86 Cincinnati
87 Virginia
88 Ohio
89 Middle Tennessee
90 Arizona St.
91 Wyoming
92 New Mexico
93 Baylor
94 Central Michigan
95 Marshall
96 Missouri
97 Oregon St.
98 Rutgers
99 Miami (O)
100 Hawaii
101 Ball St.
102 Idaho
103 UL-Lafayette
104 Coastal Carolina
105 Utah St.
106 New Mexico St.
107 Akron
108 South Alabama
109 North Texas
110 Fresno St.
111 Buffalo
112 Connecticut
113 Nevada
114 UAB
115 Georgia Southern
116 UL-Monroe
117 San Jose St.
118 Kansas
119 Rice
120 UNLV
121 East Carolina
122 Kent St.
123 Florida Atlantic
124 Florida Int’l.
125 Bowling Green
126 Georgia St.
127 UTEP
128 Texas St.
129 Massachusetts
130 Charlotte

PiRate Predictive Ratings

(tries to predict the outcome of the next game on each team’s schedule)

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 132.2 127.6 131.0 130.3
2 Clemson 131.2 127.6 130.7 129.8
3 Ohio St. 129.2 126.5 128.5 128.1
4 Oklahoma 128.1 125.9 129.1 127.7
5 Washington 128.4 125.0 129.1 127.5
6 Penn St. 127.7 125.5 128.5 127.2
7 Oklahoma St. 126.1 124.4 127.6 126.0
8 Florida St. 126.9 124.9 126.2 126.0
9 Auburn 122.7 120.6 122.5 121.9
10 Wisconsin 122.8 118.6 121.0 120.8
11 U S C 120.8 120.3 120.9 120.7
12 Virginia Tech 118.3 117.5 118.9 118.2
13 Miami 118.7 116.3 117.8 117.6
14 Georgia 116.7 117.9 116.8 117.1
15 Stanford 116.6 115.2 115.8 115.9
16 Washington St. 117.0 114.3 116.1 115.8
17 Michigan 116.2 115.8 115.4 115.8
18 Louisville 116.0 114.7 116.0 115.6
19 L S U 115.5 113.7 116.2 115.1
20 Florida 115.4 114.7 114.7 114.9
21 Kansas St. 114.1 113.8 114.3 114.1
22 T C U 114.9 112.3 114.9 114.0
23 Texas 113.2 114.0 113.4 113.6
24 N. Carolina St. 113.4 113.1 113.1 113.2
25 Oregon 114.3 110.8 113.6 112.9
26 Notre Dame 113.3 111.5 113.6 112.8
27 Mississippi St. 112.1 112.7 112.5 112.4
28 Kentucky 113.0 111.5 112.7 112.4
29 Colorado 113.1 111.1 110.9 111.7
30 Georgia Tech 113.1 110.6 111.1 111.6
31 Tennessee 112.0 110.0 110.2 110.7
32 Iowa 110.4 110.3 109.9 110.2
33 Vanderbilt 110.9 109.2 110.2 110.1
34 N. Carolina 110.8 109.7 109.3 109.9
35 South Florida 109.9 108.2 110.9 109.7
36 Northwestern 110.2 108.4 110.3 109.6
37 U C L A 109.8 109.0 109.5 109.4
38 West Virginia 109.1 109.9 109.1 109.4
39 Minnesota 109.5 109.3 109.3 109.4
40 Duke 109.6 108.4 108.2 108.7
41 Utah 106.6 108.7 107.0 107.4
42 S. Carolina 107.6 106.8 106.6 107.0
43 Arkansas 106.7 106.2 106.5 106.5
44 Syracuse 107.2 105.6 106.5 106.4
45 Maryland 105.6 107.7 105.7 106.3
46 Wake Forest 106.7 105.8 106.3 106.2
47 Indiana 105.0 105.1 105.4 105.2
48 Pittsburgh 105.3 105.6 104.6 105.2
49 Memphis 105.3 104.1 105.5 104.9
50 Ole Miss 105.9 104.4 104.1 104.8
51 Houston 105.0 103.9 104.9 104.6
52 Colo. State 105.0 103.4 105.1 104.5
53 Texas A&M 104.8 102.7 103.4 103.6
54 Iowa State 102.9 104.1 103.8 103.6
55 Central Florida 102.6 104.7 103.5 103.6
56 San Diego St. 103.1 103.0 104.2 103.4
57 Texas Tech 102.9 102.7 101.8 102.5
58 Tulsa 102.6 102.0 102.7 102.4
59 Purdue 101.5 103.2 102.2 102.3
60 Nebraska 100.6 102.3 99.6 100.8
61 Virginia 100.2 100.3 101.6 100.7
62 Boise St. 101.4 99.3 100.8 100.5
63 Arizona St. 100.4 100.7 99.4 100.2
64 Toledo 99.6 99.6 101.3 100.2
65 Michigan St. 98.6 102.0 99.5 100.0
66 California 101.4 98.9 99.6 100.0
67 Baylor 99.2 101.6 98.9 99.9
68 Navy 99.0 100.0 98.9 99.3
69 Arizona 100.0 99.0 98.4 99.1
70 Western Michigan 99.2 97.4 100.5 99.0
71 BYU 98.9 98.1 99.4 98.8
72 Boston College 97.7 98.7 96.9 97.8
73 Appalachian St. 98.0 95.7 98.3 97.3
74 SMU 97.1 97.3 97.4 97.3
75 Missouri 98.4 95.9 97.2 97.2
76 Army 96.5 96.0 97.4 96.6
77 Rutgers 96.7 96.7 96.2 96.5
78 U T S A 94.4 96.1 96.6 95.7
79 Temple 94.6 95.3 94.5 94.8
80 Wyoming 95.8 93.7 94.4 94.6
81 Eastern Michigan 94.6 94.2 94.5 94.4
82 Tulane 94.2 94.5 94.5 94.4
83 W. Kentucky 94.1 93.0 95.3 94.1
84 Air Force 93.7 94.1 94.0 93.9
85 Miami (O) 92.1 94.6 94.0 93.6
86 Troy 93.7 93.8 92.9 93.5
87 Middle Tennessee 92.2 92.7 92.7 92.5
88 Cincinnati 90.7 93.1 92.5 92.1
89 Oregon St. 92.6 92.6 91.1 92.1
90 New Mexico 91.6 91.8 92.1 91.8
91 Illinois 91.6 92.9 90.6 91.7
92 Central Michigan 90.9 91.3 91.1 91.1
93 Ohio U 90.2 92.0 91.0 91.1
94 Arkansas St. 89.3 90.9 91.0 90.4
95 Old Dominion 89.2 91.9 89.7 90.3
96 Northern Illinois 89.4 89.3 89.8 89.5
97 Louisiana Tech 88.5 89.7 89.4 89.2
98 Hawaii 88.6 90.2 88.6 89.1
99 Kansas 87.7 91.0 87.1 88.6
100 U N L V 87.5 90.4 87.9 88.6
101 Fresno St. 88.6 87.0 88.8 88.2
102 Southern Miss. 87.7 88.9 87.7 88.1
103 Connecticut 86.4 89.5 87.0 87.6
104 Marshall 85.9 87.1 87.2 86.8
105 N. Mexico St. 87.1 84.7 86.6 86.1
106 Nevada 84.0 87.1 86.0 85.7
107 Florida Atlantic 84.1 87.4 85.2 85.6
108 S. Alabama 84.5 87.4 84.7 85.5
109 Utah St. 86.0 85.1 85.0 85.4
110 Buffalo 83.2 85.9 85.2 84.8
111 UL-Lafayette 84.2 85.5 84.0 84.6
112 Idaho 83.2 85.3 84.1 84.2
113 Akron 82.6 86.3 82.4 83.8
114 N. Texas 82.7 84.1 82.8 83.2
115 Massachusetts 83.5 82.7 83.4 83.2
116 San Jose St. 83.3 82.9 82.5 82.9
117 East Carolina 82.3 84.2 82.0 82.8
118 Georgia St. 83.0 82.2 82.8 82.7
119 Kent St. 81.5 82.9 82.3 82.2
120 Florida Int’l. 81.2 81.4 82.2 81.6
121 UL-Monroe 81.2 81.7 79.8 80.9
122 Bowling Green 80.4 80.9 81.1 80.8
123 Georgia Southern 79.9 81.2 79.5 80.2
124 Ball St. 78.8 81.2 80.4 80.1
125 Rice 78.8 79.8 79.0 79.2
126 Charlotte 74.3 76.9 74.7 75.3
127 Coastal Carolina 73.5 74.9 75.2 74.6
128 Texas St. 73.2 76.0 72.2 73.8
129 U T E P 71.6 75.8 72.2 73.2
130 UAB 65.4 70.1 67.5 67.7

PiRate Ratings by Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division            
Team AAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 0-0 3-0 109.9 108.2 110.9 109.7
Central Florida 0-0 1-0 102.6 104.7 103.5 103.6
Temple 0-0 2-1 94.6 95.3 94.5 94.8
Cincinnati 0-0 2-1 90.7 93.1 92.5 92.1
Connecticut 0-0 1-1 86.4 89.5 87.0 87.6
East Carolina 0-0 0-3 82.3 84.2 82.0 82.8
             
West Division            
Team AAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Memphis 0-0 2-0 105.3 104.1 105.5 104.9
Houston 0-0 2-0 105.0 103.9 104.9 104.6
Tulsa 0-0 1-2 102.6 102.0 102.7 102.4
Navy 1-0 2-0 99.0 100.0 98.9 99.3
SMU 0-0 2-1 97.1 97.3 97.4 97.3
Tulane 0-1 1-2 94.2 94.5 94.5 94.4
             
AAC Averages     97.5 98.1 97.9 97.8
             
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division            
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 1-0 3-0 131.2 127.6 130.7 129.8
Florida St. 0-0 0-1 126.9 124.9 126.2 126.0
Louisville 1-1 2-2 116.0 114.7 116.0 115.6
N. Carolina St. 0-0 2-1 113.4 113.1 113.1 113.2
Syracuse 0-0 2-1 107.2 105.6 106.5 106.4
Wake Forest 1-0 3-0 106.7 105.8 106.3 106.2
Boston College 0-1 1-2 97.7 98.7 96.9 97.8
             
Coastal Division            
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Virginia Tech 0-0 3-0 118.3 117.5 118.9 118.2
Miami 0-0 1-0 118.7 116.3 117.8 117.6
Georgia Tech 0-0 1-1 113.1 110.6 111.1 111.6
N. Carolina 0-1 1-2 110.8 109.7 109.3 109.9
Duke 0-0 3-0 109.6 108.4 108.2 108.7
Pittsburgh 0-0 1-2 105.3 105.6 104.6 105.2
Virginia 0-0 2-1 100.2 100.3 101.6 100.7
             
ACC Averages     112.5 111.3 111.9 111.9
             
Big 12 Conference
Team B12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 0-0 3-0 128.1 125.9 129.1 127.7
Oklahoma St. 0-0 3-0 126.1 124.4 127.6 126.0
Kansas St. 0-0 2-1 114.1 113.8 114.3 114.1
T C U 0-0 3-0 114.9 112.3 114.9 114.0
Texas 0-0 1-2 113.2 114.0 113.4 113.6
West Virginia 0-0 2-1 109.1 109.9 109.1 109.4
Iowa State 0-0 2-1 102.9 104.1 103.8 103.6
Texas Tech 0-0 2-0 102.9 102.7 101.8 102.5
Baylor 0-0 0-3 99.2 101.6 98.9 99.9
Kansas 0-0 1-2 87.7 91.0 87.1 88.6
             
Big 12 Averages     109.8 110.0 110.0 109.9
             
Big Ten Conference
East Division            
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 1-0 2-1 129.2 126.5 128.5 128.1
Penn St. 0-0 3-0 127.7 125.5 128.5 127.2
Michigan 0-0 3-0 116.2 115.8 115.4 115.8
Maryland 0-0 2-0 105.6 107.7 105.7 106.3
Indiana 0-1 1-1 105.0 105.1 105.4 105.2
Michigan St. 0-0 2-0 98.6 102.0 99.5 100.0
Rutgers 0-0 1-2 96.7 96.7 96.2 96.5
             
West Division            
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 0-0 3-0 122.8 118.6 121.0 120.8
Iowa 0-0 3-0 110.4 110.3 109.9 110.2
Northwestern 0-0 2-1 110.2 108.4 110.3 109.6
Minnesota 0-0 3-0 109.5 109.3 109.3 109.4
Purdue 0-0 2-1 101.5 103.2 102.2 102.3
Nebraska 0-0 1-2 100.6 102.3 99.6 100.8
Illinois 0-0 2-1 91.6 92.9 90.6 91.7
             
Big Ten Averages     109.0 108.9 108.7 108.9
             
Conference USA
East Division            
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
W. Kentucky 0-1 1-2 94.1 93.0 95.3 94.1
Middle Tennessee 0-0 1-2 92.2 92.7 92.7 92.5
Old Dominion 0-0 2-1 89.2 91.9 89.7 90.3
Marshall 0-0 2-1 85.9 87.1 87.2 86.8
Florida Atlantic 0-0 1-2 84.1 87.4 85.2 85.6
Florida Int’l. 0-0 1-1 81.2 81.4 82.2 81.6
Charlotte 0-0 0-3 74.3 76.9 74.7 75.3
             
West Division            
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U T S A 0-0 2-0 94.4 96.1 96.6 95.7
Louisiana Tech 1-0 2-1 88.5 89.7 89.4 89.2
Southern Miss. 0-0 2-1 87.7 88.9 87.7 88.1
N. Texas 0-0 1-2 82.7 84.1 82.8 83.2
Rice 1-0 1-2 78.8 79.8 79.0 79.2
U T E P 0-1 0-3 71.6 75.8 72.2 73.2
UAB 0-0 2-1 65.4 70.1 67.5 67.7
             
CUSA Averages     83.6 85.4 84.4 84.5
             
FBS Independents
Team   Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame   2-1 113.3 111.5 113.6 112.8
BYU   1-3 98.9 98.1 99.4 98.8
Army   2-1 96.5 96.0 97.4 96.6
Massachusetts   0-4 83.5 82.7 83.4 83.2
             
Indep. Averages     98.0 97.1 98.4 97.8
             
Mid-American Conference
East Division            
Team MAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami (O) 0-0 1-2 92.1 94.6 94.0 93.6
Ohio U 0-0 2-1 90.2 92.0 91.0 91.1
Buffalo 0-0 1-2 83.2 85.9 85.2 84.8
Akron 0-0 1-2 82.6 86.3 82.4 83.8
Kent St. 0-0 1-2 81.5 82.9 82.3 82.2
Bowling Green 0-0 0-3 80.4 80.9 81.1 80.8
             
West Division            
Team MAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Toledo 0-0 3-0 99.6 99.6 101.3 100.2
Western Michigan 0-0 1-2 99.2 97.4 100.5 99.0
Eastern Michigan 0-0 2-0 94.6 94.2 94.5 94.4
Central Michigan 0-0 2-1 90.9 91.3 91.1 91.1
Northern Illinois 0-0 2-1 89.4 89.3 89.8 89.5
Ball St. 0-0 2-1 78.8 81.2 80.4 80.1
             
MAC Averages     88.5 89.6 89.5 89.2
             
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division            
Team MWC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colo. State 0-0 2-2 105.0 103.4 105.1 104.5
Boise St. 1-0 2-1 101.4 99.3 100.8 100.5
Wyoming 0-0 1-2 95.8 93.7 94.4 94.6
Air Force 0-0 1-1 93.7 94.1 94.0 93.9
New Mexico 0-1 1-2 91.6 91.8 92.1 91.8
Utah St. 0-0 1-2 86.0 85.1 85.0 85.4
             
West Division            
Team MWC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 0-0 3-0 103.1 103.0 104.2 103.4
Hawaii 0-0 2-1 88.6 90.2 88.6 89.1
U N L V 0-0 1-1 87.5 90.4 87.9 88.6
Fresno St. 0-0 1-2 88.6 87.0 88.8 88.2
Nevada 0-0 0-3 84.0 87.1 86.0 85.7
San Jose St. 0-0 1-3 83.3 82.9 82.5 82.9
             
MWC Averages     92.4 92.3 92.4 92.4
             
Pac-12 Conference
North Division            
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 0-0 3-0 128.4 125.0 129.1 127.5
Stanford 0-1 1-2 116.6 115.2 115.8 115.9
Washington St. 1-0 3-0 117.0 114.3 116.1 115.8
Oregon 0-0 3-0 114.3 110.8 113.6 112.9
California 0-0 3-0 101.4 98.9 99.6 100.0
Oregon St. 0-1 1-3 92.6 92.6 91.1 92.1
             
South Division            
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U S C 1-0 3-0 120.8 120.3 120.9 120.7
Colorado 0-0 3-0 113.1 111.1 110.9 111.7
U C L A 0-0 2-1 109.8 109.0 109.5 109.4
Utah 0-0 3-0 106.6 108.7 107.0 107.4
Arizona St. 0-0 1-2 100.4 100.7 99.4 100.2
Arizona 0-0 2-1 100.0 99.0 98.4 99.1
             
Pac-12 Averages     110.1 108.8 109.3 109.4
             
Southeastern Conference
East Division            
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 0-0 3-0 116.7 117.9 116.8 117.1
Florida 1-0 1-1 115.4 114.7 114.7 114.9
Kentucky 1-0 3-0 113.0 111.5 112.7 112.4
Tennessee 0-1 2-1 112.0 110.0 110.2 110.7
Vanderbilt 0-0 3-0 110.9 109.2 110.2 110.1
S. Carolina 1-1 2-1 107.6 106.8 106.6 107.0
Missouri 0-1 1-2 98.4 95.9 97.2 97.2
             
West Division            
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 0-0 3-0 132.2 127.6 131.0 130.3
Auburn 0-0 2-1 122.7 120.6 122.5 121.9
L S U 0-1 2-1 115.5 113.7 116.2 115.1
Mississippi St. 1-0 3-0 112.1 112.7 112.5 112.4
Arkansas 0-0 1-1 106.7 106.2 106.5 106.5
Ole Miss 0-0 2-1 105.9 104.4 104.1 104.8
Texas A&M 0-0 2-1 104.8 102.7 103.4 103.6
             
SEC Averages     112.4 111.0 111.8 111.7
             
Sunbelt Conference
Team SBC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 1-0 2-1 98.0 95.7 98.3 97.3
Troy 1-0 2-1 93.7 93.8 92.9 93.5
Arkansas St. 0-0 1-1 89.3 90.9 91.0 90.4
N. Mexico St. 0-1 1-2 87.1 84.7 86.6 86.1
S. Alabama 0-0 1-2 84.5 87.4 84.7 85.5
UL-Lafayette 0-0 1-2 84.2 85.5 84.0 84.6
Idaho 0-0 1-2 83.2 85.3 84.1 84.2
Georgia St. 0-0 0-2 83.0 82.2 82.8 82.7
UL-Monroe 0-0 0-2 81.2 81.7 79.8 80.9
Georgia Southern 0-0 0-2 79.9 81.2 79.5 80.2
Coastal Carolina 0-0 1-1 73.5 74.9 75.2 74.6
Texas St. 0-1 1-2 73.2 76.0 72.2 73.8
             
Sun Belt Averages     84.2 85.0 84.3 84.5

Conference Ratings
Thanks to Wake Forest, Virgnia Tech, Syracuse, and North Carolina State improving with non-conference wins, while Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Missouri sunk after so-so non-conference performances, the ACC overtook the SEC by a tiny bit for top conference. There are only three points separating the Power 5 conferences after three weeks of the season.

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 ACC 112.5 111.3 111.9 111.9
2 SEC 112.4 111.0 111.8 111.7
3 BIG 12 109.8 110.0 110.0 109.9
4 PAC-12 110.1 108.8 109.3 109.4
5 BIG TEN 109.0 108.9 108.7 108.9
6 INDEP. 98.0 97.1 98.4 97.8
7 AAC 97.5 98.1 97.9 97.8
8 MWC 92.4 92.3 92.4 92.4
9 MAC 88.5 89.6 89.5 89.2
10 Sun Belt 84.2 85.0 84.3 84.5
11 CUSA 83.6 85.4 84.4 84.5

Bowl Projections Debut in October

August 23, 2017

2017 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

The folks around the Atlantic Coast Conference have a decent case to support in the statement that their league, and not the Southeastern Conference, is the supreme college football conference in the land.  Clemson bested Alabama in the National Championship Game.  The ACC went 4-1 against the SEC in bowl games, and the ACC won 10 of 14 games overall against the SEC in 2016.  Five ACC teams finished the season in the top 25.

The 2017 season begins with the SEC just a tiny hair above the ACC in PiRate Ratings averages.  Early games between Alabama and Florida State, Tennessee and Georgia Tech, and Clemson and Auburn will go a long way in determining conference supremacy, and season ending games between Florida and Florida St. Georgia and Georgia Tech, and Louisville and Kentucky will seal the deal if one conference dominates the other.

This league has a little more depth this year.  It may be tougher for any team to go undefeated, as the team with the best quarterback, Louisville with Lamar Jackson, has an average at best defense.  Florida State has the next best quarterback in Deondre Francois, and the Seminoles have a nice stable of running backs.  However, there are some questions at wide receiver, and there could be depth issues in the offensive line.  Clemson still has the overall best combination of offensive and defensive lines, but the defending national champions must replace Deshaun Watson, Wayne Gallman, and Mike Williams on the attack side.  Figure CU to average about 10-14 fewer points per game.

While the top three in the Atlantic Division have exceptional talent but with some questions, the other four teams could all be better than last year, especially North Carolina State and Syracuse.

The Coastal Division race should be quite interesting.  Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and even Duke could challenge for the divisional flag.  The league could be just balanced enough so that no ACC team earns a Playoff bid.

Here is how the ACC Media voted in the preseason:

ACC Atlantic Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Florida St. 121 1,108 118
2 Clemson 37 1,007 35
3 Louisville 9 843 7
4 North Carolina St. 0 658 0
5 Wake Forest 0 415 0
6 Syracuse 0 362 0
7 Boston College 0 283 0
         
ACC Coastal Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Miami (Fla) 103 1,065 3
2 Virginia Tech 40 932 3
3 Georgia Tech 9 708 0
4 Pittsburgh 7 673 0
5 North Carolina 4 606 0
6 Duke 4 473 1
7 Virginia 0 219 0

The PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings still show Clemson to be slightly better than Florida State in the initial ratings of the season.  However, the margin is razor thin, and we expect a lot of shuffling early in the season due to heavy schedules.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 128.4 124.6 127.5 126.8
Florida St. 126.8 124.8 126.1 125.9
Louisville 116.6 115.7 117.0 116.4
N. Carolina St. 115.2 114.5 114.9 114.9
Syracuse 110.3 108.1 109.3 109.2
Wake Forest 102.7 102.2 102.0 102.3
Boston College 102.0 102.9 101.5 102.1
         
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 118.6 116.2 117.7 117.5
Virginia Tech 116.6 116.2 117.0 116.6
Georgia Tech 113.2 110.5 111.3 111.7
N. Carolina 109.9 108.4 108.3 108.9
Pittsburgh 108.8 108.8 108.0 108.5
Duke 106.3 105.1 104.9 105.4
Virginia 98.7 98.8 99.7 99.1
         
ACC Averages 112.4 111.2 111.8 111.8

Here are our unscientific won-loss predictions and bowl projections for the league.

Atlantic Coast Conference Projected Standings
Atlantic Division
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Florida St. 7-1 11-2 Peach
Clemson 6-2 10-2 Orange
Louisville 6-2 9-3 Belk
North Carolina St. 5-3 8-4 Sun
Syracuse 3-5 6-6 [Heart of Dallas]
Boston College 1-7 4-8  
Wake Forest 1-7 3-9  
       
Coastal Division
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Miami (Fla) 6-2 10-3 Music City
Virginia Tech 6-2 10-2 Camping World
Georgia Tech 5-3 8-4 Independence
North Carolina 3-5 7-5 Military
Duke 3-5 6-6 Quick Lane
Pittsburgh 3-5 5-7  
Virginia 1-7 3-9  
Florida St. to win the ACC Championship Game
Notre Dame predicted to take ACC’s bid to the Pinstripe Bowl
Syracuse’s bid to Heart of Dallas Bowl is an at-large bid

Notre Dame qualifies for any ACC Bowl other than the Orange Bowl, if the Irish are within one win of the next available ACC team.  For instance, if Notre Dame goes 8-4, the Irish can leapfrog any 9-3 ACC team in an ACC Bowl.

Notre Dame can also qualify for the Orange Bowl as the replacement for the Big Ten or SEC team.

Later today: We will preview the Southeastern Conference in the afternoon (Eastern Time).  Can a West Division team dethrone Alabama?  Can any team from the West challenge for the SEC Championship?  Can more than one SEC team make this season’s playoffs?  Check back later today.

Coming Tomorrow: It is game week!  There are only five total games involving FBS teams, but it is real, and it counts.  So, we will debut our 2017 PiRate College Football Forecast.  We will show you all 130 teams ranked predictively and retrodictively, give you the spreads for the five games, and give you all of our bowl projections.

There will be no Money Line Parlay suggestions this week with so few games, but when we debut this feature next week, look for it on Friday morning.

 

March 9, 2017

Conference Tournament Update–Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Dance Teams

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

There are no automatic bids up for grabs today.

 

Thursday Morning Mimosas

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

ACC

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

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

 

Big 12

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

 

Big East

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

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

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

 

Big Ten

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

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

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

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

 

Conference USA

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

 

Mountain West

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

 

Pac-12

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

 

SEC

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

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

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

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

 

Tournaments Beginning Action Thursday

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Today’s Tournament Schedule

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

 

Teams With Automatic Bids

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

 

 

 

March 8, 2017

Conference Tournament Update–Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Good Wednesday to all.  Today, the PiRates are hunkered down in our own version of our war room, preparing for Selection Sunday and the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

We have received a heavy load of contacts from you ladies and gentlemen, and a lot of you want to know about our Red-White-Blue Ratings.

  1. We do not know why the Prediction Tracker has not posted our ratings the last two weeks, because we sent them in.  They use a system that takes them off our page, and maybe it is not working properly or it was something we did to make them invisible.
  2. We will attempt to publish ratings for all 67 NCAA Tournament games.
  3. We will publish all the Four Factor and PiRate Bracketnomics information for every team in the Field and update it for every round.

This marks the peak of conference tournament action, as more games will be played in the next two days than any other time during Conference Championship Fortnight.

Teams That Clinched Automatic Bids Tuesday

Making The Field 100% of the Time???

Here’s a trivia question you can use to fool your sports teams?  Name the only school that has made the NCAA Tournament every year since it has been an eligible Division I team.

The answer is simple if you watched the Horizon League Tournament Championship Game last night.  Northern Kentucky, in its first year of D1 eligibility won the automatic bid by holding on against 23-loss Milwaukee.  The Norse closes the season on a rush, winning nine of their last 10 games, but it looks like they will be a heavily over-matched opponent as a 15-seed or at best a 14-seed.

 

Top of the Mountain Again

Our congratulations go out for a fifth time to Mount St. Mary’s, winner of the Northeast Conference Tournament Championship.  This may be the best MSM team to make it to the NCAA Tournament.  The Mountaineers have been fodder for some major #1 seeds through the years, losing to Kentucky by 46, North Carolina by 39, and to Michigan State by 23.  The Mountaineers have been sent to Dayton twice before, beating Coppin State and losing to Albany.  Short of some additional upsets where sub .500 teams receive automatic bids, Mount St. Mary’s is most likely looking at a third trip to Dayton.

 

Reaching the Summit

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits were not expected to compete for the Summit League title this year after former coach Scott Nagy left for the Wright State job, and prospects were not great when SDSU finished the regular season at just 8-8 in the league.  New coach  T.J. Otzelberger may be a star in the making, as he has a slew of national supporters from his days as an assistant at Washington and Iowa St.  His Jackrabbits won the Summit League Championship last night, which means SDSU (18-16) is going to be a 16-seed with a possible visit to Dayton.

 

Bulldog Tough Again

Gonzaga looked like a Final Four team again last night after a week of malaise.  The Bulldogs punished rival Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference Championship Game, looking more like a power team from the 1960’s and 1970’s from the Big Ten.  And, star guard Nigel Williams-Goss looked more like Oscar Robertson last night, basically destroying the Gaels’ with his shooting, passing, and ball-hawking defense.

 

Other Conference Tournament Games

The Bubble burst for one team, while two others strengthened their resumes in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.  Clemson stayed alive by dismissing North Carolina State with relative ease.  Wake Forest withstood a valiant effort from an undermanned Boston College team, and Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons may have secured their at-large spot with the win.  However, another win today over Virginia Tech should definitely get them in.  Georgia Tech fell to Pittsburgh in an ugly game, which was made uglier by an open microphone that caught Panther Head Coach Kevin Stallings saying some very nasty things to one of his players, making it two years with two teams where an open mic caught the fiery Gene Keady disciple cursing one of his players.

 

Last Place Team Watch

99% of you reading this probably saw none of the Big Sky Tournament opening round games, but to the 1% that did, you were quite entertained Tuesday.  Portland State and Sacramento State won their first games in high-octane fashion, but the nightcap between last place Southern Utah and 6-seed Montana State proved to be the game of the day.  At the end of regulation, the game was tied at 78.  Five minutes later after overtime, the score was knotted at 93-93.  Five minutes later, it was 101-101.  It took three extra sessions, but the last place team with a 5-26 record entering the night emerged victorious.  Southern Utah won 109-105 to advance to the quarterfinals against 3-seed Weber State.  The Thunderbirds were led by former Texas Tech Red Raider Randy Onwuasor, who broke the tournament record with 43 points.  Onwuasor played 53 out of the 55 minutes, and he had a rather poor shooting night, hitting just 11-33 from the field, but he drew fouls like a cheap diner draws flies.  The bulky guard connected on 20 foul shots, something that is rarely done when your last name isn’t Maravich or Chamberlain.

 

SWAC’s Best Advance

In recent years, the Southwestern Athletic Conference representative in the NCAA Tournament has been a 16-seed and frequently forced to play in the Opening Round (First Four) in Dayton.  Texas Southern has a chance to move up to a 15-seed if they win the conference tournament in Houston.  The Tigers began tournament play with an 87-72 win over 8-seed Alabama State.  TSU has a surrogate team playing for their NCAA Tournament hopes.  Alcorn State also advanced yesterday with a win over Mississippi Valley.  If the 2-seed Braves win the SWAC Tournament title, it is just as if Texas Southern wins it.  Alcorn State is on probation for low APR scores, and they are ineligible for postseason play.  If ASU wins, then TSU gets the bid as the regular season champion.

 

Big Conference Action Today

The ACC started conference play yesterday and continues with Round 2 today.  Six other multiple bid leagues commence action today–The Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC.  Here is a look at each of these multiple bid league brackets.

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament–Brooklyn
First Round, Tuesday, March 7
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Score  
1 12 Clemson 16-14 vs. 13 North Carolina St. 15-16 75-61  
2 10 Wake Forest 18-12 vs. 15 Boston College 9-22 92-78  
3 11 Georgia Tech 17-14 vs. 14 Pittsburgh 15-16 59-61  
                   
Second Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
4 8 Syracuse 18-13 vs. 9 Miami (Fla.) 20-10 12:00 PM ESPN
5 5 Duke 23-8 vs. 12 Clemson 17-14 2:00 PM ESPN
6 7 Virginia Tech 21-9 vs. 10 Wake Forest 19-12 7:00 PM ESPN2
7 6 Virginia 21-9 vs. 14 Pittsburgh 16-16 9:00 PM ESPN2
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
8 1 North Carolina   vs.   Game 4 winner   12:00 PM ESPN
9 4 Louisville   vs.   Game 5 winner   2:00 PM ESPN
10 2 Florida St.   vs.   Game 6 winner   7:00 PM ESPN
11 3 Notre Dame   vs.   Game 7 winner   9:00 PM ESPN
                   
Semfinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
12   Game 8 winner   vs.   Game 9 winner   7:00 PM ESPN or 2
13   Game 10 winner   vs.   Game 11 winner   9:00 PM ESPN or 2
                   
Championship Game, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
14   Game 12 winner   vs.   Game 13 winner   9:00 PM ESPN

 

 

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament–Pittsburgh (Duquense)
1st Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 12 Massachusetts 14-17 vs. 13 St. Joseph’s 11-19 6:00 PM ASN
2 11 St. Louis 11-20 vs. 14 Duquesne 10-21 8:30 PM ASN
                   
2nd Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 8 LaSalle 15-14 vs. 9 Davidson 15-14 12:00 PM NBCSN
4 5 St. Bonaventure 19-11 vs.   Game 1 winner   2:30 PM NBCSN
5 7 George Mason   vs. 10 Fordham   6:00 PM NBCSN
6 6 George Washington 18-13 vs.   Game 2 winner   8:30 PM NBCSN
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 1 Dayton 24-6 vs.   Game 3 winner   12:00 PM NBCSN
8 4 Rhode Island 21-9 vs.   Game 4 winner   2:30 PM NBCSN
9 2 VCU 24-7 vs.   Game 5 winner   6:00 PM NBCSN
10 3 Richmond 19-11 vs.   Game 6 winner   8:30 PM NBCSN
                   
Semifinal Round, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
11   Game 7 winner   vs.   Game 8 winner   1:00 PM CBSSN
12   Game 9 winner   vs.   Game 10 winner   3:30 PM CBSSN
                   
Championship Game, Sunday, March 12
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
13   Game 11 winner   vs.   Game 12 winner   12:30 PM CBS

 

 

Big 12 Conference Tournament–Kansas City
1st Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 TCU 17-14 vs. 9 Oklahoma 11-19 7:00 PM ESPNU
2 7 Texas Tech 18-13 vs. 10 Texas 10-21 9:00 PM ESPNU
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 4 Iowa St. 20-10 vs. 5 Oklahoma St. 20-11 12:30 PM ESPN2
4 1 Kansas 28-3 vs.   Game 1 winner   2:30 PM ESPN2
5 2 West Virginia 24-7 vs.   Game 2 winner   7:00 PM ESPNU
6 3 Baylor 25-6 vs. 6 Kansas St. 19-12 9:00 PM ESPNU
                   
Semifinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7   Game 4 winner   vs.   Game 3 winner   7:00 PM ESPN or 2
8   Game 5 winner   vs.   Game 6 winner   9:00 PM ESPN or 2
                   
Championship Game, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9   Game 7 winner   vs.   Game 8 winner   6:00 PM ESPN

 

 

Big East Conference Tournament–New York City
1st Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 St. John’s 13-18 vs. 9 Georgetown 14-17 7:00 PM FS1
2 7 Xavier 19-12 vs. 10 DePaul 9-21 9:30 PM FS1
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 1 Villanova 28-3 vs.       12:00 PM FS1
4 4 Marquette 19-11 vs. 5 Seton Hall 20-10 2:30 PM FS1
5 2 Butler 23-7 vs.       7:00 PM FS1
6 3 Providence 20-11 vs. 6 Creighton 23-8 9:30 PM FS1
                   
Semifinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7   Game 1 winner   vs.   Game 2 winner   6:30 PM FS1
8   Game 3 winner   vs.   Game 4 winner   9:00 PM FS1
                   
Championship Game, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9   Game 7 winner   vs.   Game 8 winner   5:30 PM Fox

 

 

Big Ten Conference Tournament–Washington, DC
1st Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 12 Nebraska 12-18 vs. 13 Penn St. 14-17 4:30 PM ESPN
2 11 Ohio St. 17-14 vs. 14 Rutgers 14-17 7:00 PM BTN
                   
2nd Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 8 Michigan 20-11 vs. 9 Illinois 18-13 12:00 PM BTN
4 5 Michigan St. 18-13 vs.   Game 1 winner   2:20 PM BTN
5 7 Iowa 18-13 vs. 10 Indiana 17-14 6:30 PM ESPN2
6 6 Northwestern 21-10 vs.   Game 2 winner   8:50 PM ESPN2
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 1 Purdue 25-6 vs.   Game 3 winner   12:00 PM ESPN
8 4 Minnesota 23-8 vs.   Game 4 winner   2:20 PM ESPN
9 2 Wisconsin 23-8 vs.   Game 5 winner   6:30 PM BTN
10 3 Maryland 24-7 vs.   Game 6 winner   8:50 PM BTN
                   
Semifinal Round, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
11   Game 7 winner   vs.   Game 8 winner   1:00 PM CBS
12   Game 9 winner   vs.   Game 10 winner   3:30 PM CBS
                   
Championship Game, Sunday, March 12
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
13   Game 11 winner   vs.   Game 12 winner   3:00 PM CBS

 

 

Pac-12 Conference Tournament–Las Vegas
1st Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 Arizona St. 14-17 vs. 9 Stanford 14-16 3:00 PM P12 Net.
2 5 California 19-11 vs. 12 Oregon St. 5-26 5:30 PM P12 Net.
3 7 Colorado 18-13 vs. 10 Washington St. 13-17 9:00 PM P12 Net.
4 6 USC 23-8 vs. 11 Washington 9-21 11:30 PM P12 Net.
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 1 Oregon 27-4 vs.   Game 1 winner   3:00 PM P12 Net.
6 4 Utah 20-10 vs.   Game 2 winner   5:30 PM P12 Net.
7 2 Arizona 27-4 vs.   Game 3 winner   9:00 PM P12 Net.
8 3 UCLA 28-3 vs.   Game 4 winner   11:30 PM ESPN
                   
Semifinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9   Game 5 winner   vs.   Game 6 winner   9:00 PM P12 Net.
10   Game 7 winner   vs.   Game 8 winner   11:30 PM ESPN
                   
Championship Game, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
11   Game 9 winner   vs.   Game 10 winner   11:00 PM ESPN

 

 

Southeastern Conference Tournament–Nashville
1st Round, Wednesday, March 8
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 12 Mississippi St. 15-15 vs. 13 LSU 10-20 7:00 PM SECN
2 11 Auburn 18-13 vs. 14 MIssouri 7-23 9:00 PM SECN
                   
2nd Round, Thursday, March 9
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 8 Georgia 18-13 vs. 9 Tennessee 16-15 1:00 PM SECN
4 5 Alabama 17-13 vs.   Game 1 winner   3:20 PM SECN
5 7 Vanderbilt 17-14 vs. 10 Texas A&M 16-14 7:00 PM SECN
6 6 Ole Miss 19-12 vs.   Game 2 winner   9:20 PM SECN
                   
Quarterfinal Round, Friday, March 10
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 1 Kentucky 26-5 vs.   Game 3 winner   1:00 PM SECN
8 4 South Carolina 22-9 vs.   Game 4 winner   3:20 PM SECN
9 2 Florida 24-7 vs.   Game 5 winner   7:00 PM SECN
10 3 Arkansas 23-8 vs.   Game 6 winner   9:20 PM SECN
                   
Semifinal Round, Saturday, March 11
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
11   Game 7 winner   vs.   Game 8 winner   1:00 PM ESPN
12   Game 9 winner   vs.   Game 10 winner   3:20 PM ESPN
                   
Championship Game, Sunday, March 12
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
13   Game 11 winner   vs.   Game 12 winner   1:00 PM ESPN

Today’s TV Schedule

You can have a lot of fun watching a slew of games today and tonight, even if just one bid goes out.  That one automatic addition will come from the Patriot League, where the top seed Bucknell Bison host Lehigh.  Time and TV follow.

Championship Games
Time (ET) Network Conference Team vs. Team
7:30 PM CBSSN Patriot Bucknell vs. Lehigh

 

 

Ongoing Tournament Games
Time (ET) Network Conference Team vs. Team
12:00 PM ESPN ACC Syracuse vs. Miami (Fla.)
2:00 PM ESPN ACC Duke vs. Clemson
7:00 PM ESPN2 ACC Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest
9:00 PM ESPN2 ACC Virginia vs. Pittsburgh
           
6:00 PM ASN A-10 Massachusetts vs. St. Joseph’s
8:30 PM ASN A-10 St. Louis vs. Duquesne
           
7:00 PM ESPNU Big 12 TCU vs. Oklahoma
9:00 PM ESPNU Big 12 Texas Tech vs. Texas
           
7:00 PM FS1 Big East St. John’s vs. Georgetown
9:30 PM FS1 Big East Xavier vs. DePaul
           
4:30 PM ESPN Big Ten Nebraska vs. Penn St.
7:00 PM BTN Big Ten Ohio St. vs. Rutgers
           
12:30 PM Campus Insiders CUSA Western Kentucky vs. UTSA
3:00 PM Campus Insiders CUSA Rice vs. Southern Miss.
6:30 PM Campus Insiders CUSA UAB vs. Charlotte
9:00 PM Campus Insiders CUSA Marshall vs. Florida Atlantic
           
6:00 PM ESPN3 MEAC UNC-Central vs. Delaware St.
8:00 PM ESPN3 MEAC Norfolk St. vs. South Carolina St.
           
2:00 PM MWN MWC Utah St. vs. San Jose St.
4:30 PM MWN MWC Wyoming vs. Air Force
7:00 PM MWN MWC San Diego St. vs. UNLV
           
3:00 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 Arizona St. vs. Stanford
5:30 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 California vs. Oregon St.
9:00 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 Colorado vs. Washington St.
11:30 PM P12 Net. Pac-12 USC vs. Washington
           
7:00 PM SECN SEC Mississippi St. vs. LSU
9:00 PM SECN SEC Auburn vs. MIssouri
           
6:00 PM ESPN3 Southland Sam Houston St. vs. Central Arkansas
8:30 PM ESPN3 Southland Lamar vs. Southeastern Louisiana
           
1:30 PM ESPN3 Sun Belt Coastal Carolina vs. South Alabama
3:00 PM ESPN3 Sun Belt Arkansas St. vs. Louisiana-Monroe
6:00 PM ESPN3 Sun Belt Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
8:30 PM ESPN3 Sun Belt Troy vs. Appalachian St.

 

 

 

March 7, 2017

Conference Tournament Update–Sunday, March 7, 2017

New Dance Partners

UNC-Wilmington won the Colonial Athletic Association once again, and the Seahawks seem to have recovered from their February swoon that saw them lose four times.  UNCW will be a formidable seed, be it from the 11, 12, or 13 hole.  Coach Kevin Keatts has established himself as a future star in the business, destined to end up at a power conference school.

 

Steve Forbes is quickly developing into a top-flight coach as well.  The former assistant at Tennessee under Bruce Pearl guided his East Tennessee State Buccaneers to the Southern Conference title last night, and this ETSU team has a lot of the traits that the Volunteers possessed when Pearl and Forbes were in Knoxville.  The Bucs will be a hard team for a 3 or 4-seed to get past in the second round.

 

Iona repeats as conference champions, as the Gaels fought off Siena in a close game to win the MAAC title on the loser’s home court.  The Gaels will be a 14 or 15-seed, but they look like a one and done team this year.

Tickets Punched So Far

Ohio Valley Conference: JACKSONVILLE ST. (20-14)
Big South Conference: WINTHROP (26-6)
Missouri Valley Conference: WICHITA ST. (30-4)
Atlantic Sun Conference: FLORIDA GULF COAST (26-7)
Colonial Athletic Association: UNC-WILMINGTON (29-5)
Southern Conference: EAST TENNESSEE ST. (27-7)
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: IONA (22-12)

 

Surprise Surprise–Last Place Team One Win Away From Dancing

The Horizon League had a couple of worthy teams this year that could have won an opening game in the NCAA Tournament.  Valparaiso looked like a Sweet 16 dark horse in early February, but the Crusaders lost a couple of games and then lost their version of Lebron and quickly exited the tournament in the opening game.  Oakland appeared to have an easy road to the Horizon championship, but the Grizzlies fell to a feisty Youngstown State team in their first game.

What’s left for the title game tonight?  Last-place and 23-loss Milwaukee has advanced to the championship game to face a Northern Kentucky team that picked the right time to play its best ball of the year.  The Norse ended the regular season on a roll and have parlayed that into where they are now one win away from making their first ever NCAA Tournament berth at the Division 1 level.  They were a dominant Division II team for more than a dozen years before moving up to the big time.

 

Today’s Tournament Schedule

Championship Games–NCAA Bid on the Line

Time (ET) Network Conference Team vs. Team
7:00 PM ESPN Horizon Northern Kentucky vs. Milwaukee
7:00 PM ESPN2 Northeast Mount St. Mary’s vs. St. Francis (PA)
9:00 PM ESPN2 Summit South Dakota St. vs. Omaha
9:00 PM ESPN West Coast Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s

Other Tournament Games

Time (ET) Network Conference Team vs. Team
12:00 PM ESPN2 ACC Clemson vs. North Carolina St.
2:00 PM ESPN2 ACC Wake Forest vs. Boston College
4:00 PM ESPN3 MEAC Delaware St. vs. Bethune-Cookman
5:35 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky Portland St. vs. Northern Arizona
6:00 PM ESPN3 MEAC South Carolina St. vs. Florida A&M
7:00 PM ESPNU ACC Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh
7:00 PM Radio Only SWAC Alcorn St. * vs. Mississippi Valley
8:30 PM Radio Only SWAC Texas Southern vs. Alabama St.
8:30 PM Radio Only SWAC Southern vs. Jackson St.
8:35 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky Sacramento St. vs. Idaho St.
9:00 PM Radio Only SWAC Prairie View A&M vs. Grambling
11:05 PM Watch Big Sky Big Sky Montana St. vs. Southern Utah

* Alcorn State is ineligible for postseason play, and if the Braves win the SWAC Tournament, regular season champion Texas Southern will get the automatic bid.

 

The Bubble

Keep an eye on the ACC Tournament opening round in Brooklyn.  All three games involve teams on the Bubble–Clemson plays in the first game, Wake Forest plays in the second game, and Georgia Tech plays in the third game.  All three must win today to stay on the Bubble, but a win will not get any of the three into the field.  They all need multiple wins to earn at-large bids.

 

Game of the Night

Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s face off for a third time tonight, when the two Pacific powers meet in the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship Game yet again.  Gonzaga has not looked like a Final Four team since losing to BYU in their regular season finale, while SMC looks like a team ready to make a long run in the NCAA Tournament with a stifling defense and improving offense.  If SMC pulls the upset tonight, Gonzaga could fall to a 2-seed, allowing Kentucky or Oregon to move up to a 1-seed.  SMC could move up to a 5 or even 4-seed with a win tongiht.

 

 

 

January 13, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For January 14-15, 2017

PiRate Red-White-Blue Spreads For The Weekend

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, January 14, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Clemson Virginia -1 -4 -6
Louisville Duke 4 1 4
Pittsburgh Miami (Fla.) 5 1 7
North Carolina Florida St. 9 8 3
Virginia Tech Notre Dame 6 -1 -1
Syracuse Boston College 8 14 9
Kansas Oklahoma St. 10 13 14
Texas West Virginia -16 -15 -6
Kansas St. Baylor 1 -4 -9
TCU Iowa St. 2 -1 3
Oklahoma Texas Tech 6 -4 -2
Georgetown Connecticut 15 8 9
Providence Seton Hall -3 -1 -1
St. John’s Villanova -4 -15 -16
Butler Xavier 3 4 8
Marquette DePaul 19 17 13
Penn St. Minnesota 2 -4 -4
Michigan Nebraska 1 9 1
Illinois Maryland 1 1 6
California Washington St. 13 17 19
Utah UCLA -11 -8 -1
Stanford Washington 2 4 10
Oregon Oregon St. 27 26 26
Florida Georgia 11 12 10
Mississippi St. Texas A&M 3 -1 -6
LSU Alabama 7 -2 -3
Kentucky Auburn 23 24 23
Arkansas Missouri 15 16 15
South Carolina Ole Miss 9 8 6
Vanderbilt Tennessee -1 2 6
         
Games Scheduled for: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
North Carolina St. Georgia Tech 14 11 14
Indiana Rutgers 16 18 19
Ohio St. Michigan St. 4 2 -4
Northwestern Iowa 1 6 8
Colorado USC 1 -1 4

 

The PiRate Top 25 For January 13, 2017

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kansas
  3. Kentucky
  4. Villanova
  5. Virginia
  6. North Carolina
  7. Gonzaga
  8. UCLA
  9. Florida St.
  10. Baylor
  11. St. Mary’s
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Louisville
  14. Duke
  15. Butler
  16. Arizona
  17. Florida
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Creighton
  20. Oregon
  21. Notre Dame
  22. Purdue
  23. Xavier
  24. Wichita St.
  25. Iowa St.

ACC

  1. Virginia
  2. North Carolina
  3. Florida St.
  4. Louisville
  5. Duke
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Clemson
  8. Virginia Tech
  9. Miami (Fla)
  10. Wake Forest
  11. Pittsburgh
  12. Syracuse
  13. North Carolina St.
  14. Georgia Tech
  15. Boston College

Big East

  1. Villanova
  2. Butler
  3. Creighton
  4. Xavier
  5. Seton Hall
  6. Marquette
  7. Providence
  8. Georgetown
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul

Big Ten

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Purdue
  3. Minnesota
  4. Michigan St.
  5. Indiana
  6. Northwestern
  7. Michigan
  8. Maryland
  9. Ohio St.
  10. Iowa
  11. Illinois
  12. Penn St.
  13. Nebraska
  14. Rutgers

Big 12

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kansas
  3. Baylor
  4. Iowa St.
  5. Kansas St.
  6. Texas Tech
  7. Oklahoma St.
  8. TCU
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas

Pac-12

  1. UCLA
  2. Arizona
  3. Oregon
  4. California
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Colorado
  8. Stanford
  9. Washington
  10. Arizona St.
  11. Washington St.
  12. Oregon St.

SEC

  1. Kentucky
  2. Florida
  3. South Carolina
  4. Georgia
  5. Arkansas
  6. Alabama
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Vanderbilt
  9. Tennessee
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Mississippi St.
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Missouri

Games To Watch This Weekend Because They Will Be Fun To Watch

Best 3 Saturday

Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s   (ESPN2 at 10 PM EST)

Butler vs. Xavier   (Fox Sports 1 at 2 PM EST)

Clemson vs. Virginia  (WatchESPN at 12:00 PM EST)

Best of The Rest

Louisville vs. Duke   (ESPN at 12:00 PM EST)

North Carolina vs. Florida St.  (ESPN at 2 PM EST)

Kansas St. vs. Baylor   (ESPNU at 4:30 PM EST)

Utah vs. UCLA   (Pac-12 Network at 6 PM EST)

Princeton vs. Yale   (ESPN3 at 8 PM EST)

Coming Next Week–We take the top national contenders and break down what area of the game an opponent must master in order to beat each one.  We’ll use our Four Factors Algorithms to analyze where each of the top teams might have an Achilles Heel, and maybe which teams have no apparent weakness.

January 6, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For January 7-8, 2017

Early Look At Mid and Low Major Conferences
As we take our first look at the conferences that should receive just one NCAA Tournament bid, we are in total agreement among the lot of us that 22 leagues will definitely produce just one tournament team–the winner of their conference tournament, or in the case of the Ivy League, the regular season conference championship, and it is likely that a 23rd league will receive just one bid.

Let’s take a look at the 23 probable one-bid leagues.

America East
Vermont, MD.-Baltimore Co., UMass-Lowell, and Stony Brook are tied for first, but only with 1-0 conference marks. Vermont is 11-5 overall, with two losses to top 25 teams.

Atlantic Sun
Conference play has yet to begun, but Florida Gulf Coast and Jacksonville look strong in the pre-conference. FGCU lost at Michigan State by just one point, while Jacksonville sports the top won-loss record at 12-5. We believe overall that this league is stronger than it has been in recent years, but no at-large bid is possible this year.

Big Sky
Eastern Washington, Southern Utah, and Weber State have begun the conference race at 2-0, with Montana a half-game back at 2-1. EWU owns a hot home court advantage, and they already have four overtime wins in their 15 games played.

Big South
With losses by 55 to Creighton, 37 to George Mason, and 31 to Texas Tech, you would not expect Longwood to be on top in the conference race at 3-0, but the Lancers from tiny Farmville, Virginia, own first place by themselves by a game over Radford, UNC-Asheville, Winthrop, Campbell, and Liberty. UNCA lost at Ohio State by a bucket.

Big West
It’s a down year in this league, as no team looks capable of avoiding a 15 or 16-seed. Most of the members in this league perform poorly away from home, and we expect this year’s race to be won with a record as low as 10-6. UC-Irvine, Long Beach State, and UC-Davis appear to be the top teams, but there is not much separating the teams at this point. While somewhat mediocre, this league could put on one of the most exciting conference tournament’s this season.

Colonial Athletic
UNC-Wilmington is on the cusp of competing for a spot on the bubble, but at this point, it looks like they would have to win the CAA Tournament to get into the Big Dance. The Seahawks join Charleston, Northeastern, and James Madison at 3-0 in league play. Northeastern is the hot team at this point. The Huskies have won six games in a row, including four on the road, with one of those coming at Michigan State.

Conference USA
Middle Tennessee is 2-0 in the league and 12-3 overall, as well as 2-0 against SEC teams, but the Blue Raiders would be a long shot in the at-large sweepstakes this year. If Middle wins the automatic bid with a record in the vicinity of 29-5, they could receive an 11 seed and possibly a 10 seed. Chief challengers to the Blue Raiders this year are Marshall, Louisiana Tech, and Western Kentucky. Keep an eye on Marshall, as their unique fast-paced philosophy can give the Thundering Herd a big advantage against teams lacking depth, especially at conference tournament time.

Horizon
No, it’s not a Super Bowl preview, but Oakland and Green Bay look like the top two teams in this league. Actually, both of these teams are close runners-up to Valparaiso at this point. The Crusaders are 1-0 in the conference and 11-3 overall, with wins over Alabama, BYU, and Rhode Island. Northern Kentucky and Wright State have shown signs of moving up into the top tier with the big three.

Ivy
This is still the one holdout league that does not sanction a post-season conference tournament. Thus, one hot team can become the first official invitee to the Big Dance, but in recent years, this has not happened. There is no clear-cut favorite to win the crown as the first conference games commence next weekend. Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Penn look to be the leading contenders at this point, but this group is not setting the woods on fire.

Metro Atlantic
After a sluggish first month of the season, Canisius has found its groove. The Golden Griffins have reeled off seven consecutive wins, averaging 88.6 points per game. With approaching road games with Iona and Fairfield, if Canisius wins both, they will be in the driver’s seat in the MAAC. Pre-season favorite Monmouth has not been as strong as expected and just lost three games in a row. Still, you cannot dismiss the Hawks, as they have non-conference win over Memphis and an overtime loss to South Carolina. Monmouth beat Canisius and can gain command by pulling off the sweep when they face them in Buffalo on January 16.

Mid-American
The MAC once was worthy of multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament, but in recent years, this league has been down some. Akron, Ohio, and Eastern Michigan have separated a bit from the rest of the pack in this league, and these three top contenders are just talented enough to compete in the Round of 64. Home court advantanges are rather strong in this league, so expect the teams to beat up on each other, leaving no team with a conference mark better than 14-4.

Mideastern Athletic
The MEAC has frequently been given #15 and #16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, but this league consistently produces teams capable of pulling off huge upsets. The league does not get the credit it deserves, because the teams tend to begin the season slowly and develop as the year progresses. We like what UNC-Central has done to this point, and it would not surprise us if the Eagles make a run to 20 regular season wins. UNCC won at Missouri and led at LSU by as much as 13, before the Tigers came back to win in the final minute.

Missouri Valley
This is a caveat one-bid league. Wichita State would be on the bubble if the Shockers won 25 games but not the MVC Tournament title. However, at this point, we do not see a serious contender to knock WSU off the perch at Arch Madness. Illinois State currently shares first with the Shockers with a 3-0 league mark, but WSU looks to be double digits better than any league opponent. Sure, some team is liable to upset the Shockers, but we don’t see WSU losing more than two conference games, and they have as good a chance at running the table in the league as the do at losing twice.

Mountain West
The MWC has taken quite a tumble this year, as this looks like a sure one-bid league. Nevada and Boise State are this year’s quality clubs, but they do not have at-large approved resumes. Normal power San Diego State has begun league play at 0-2, so this does not look like the Aztecs’ year.

Northeast
It looks like a strong possibility that the conference tournament champion in this league will be headed to the opening round (first four) in Dayton. The NEC is rather weak this year, even though second division Wagner has a win at Connecticut. Fairleigh Dickinson has a game and a half lead in the race with a perfect 3-0 mark, but the Knights tumbled off their horses outside of league play. Keep an eye on Long Island. The Blackbirds are just 9-7 and 2-1 in the league, but most of their losses have been close, and they did beat St. John’s.

Ohio Valley
In past years, both Murray State and Belmont have done quite well in NCAA Tournament play. The two contenders already have moved to the top of the standings in their respective divisions, and it looks like they might square off when the bid is on the line in March.

Patriot
Bucknell and Boston U are tied at 3-0 in league play with Loyola (MD), Holy Cross, and Lafayette a game back at 2-1. Lehigh looked like a top contender in the preseason, taking Xavier to the final gun before losing by 3 and winning at Mississippi State, but the Mountain Hawks lost at home to Loyola to fall to 1-2 in league play.

Southern
This will be an exciting conference race with five teams competing for the regular season title. Furman, East Tennessee, Chattanooga, Samford, and UNC-Greensboro are about equal, and the five could stay within two games of each other all season. A multiple tie in the 14-4 and 13-5 range is quite possible.

Southland
Stephen F. Austin has lost the magic, as it left town for Stillwater, Oklahoma. Now, this league is wide open. New Orleans, and Nicholls State, two teams not expected to contend for league honors, currently are unbeaten in league play.

Southwestern Athletic
In recent years, the SWAC champion has known it would be headed to Dayton, and chances are strong that could happen again this year. In recent years, multiple league members have been ineligible for postseason play due to low APR scores, but that number has been reduced to just Alcorn State this year, and the Braves are an also-ran in the SWAC this year. Jackson State and Texas Southern have begun league play at 2-0, with Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 1-0. Grambling and Southern are 1-1, and most of their out of conference losses have been closer than normal for this league. We believe Southern might be the best representative for this league this year.

Summit
Bigger schools better keep an eye on this league. Whoever draws the conference tournament champion better not overlook their opponent, because their is quality in numbers in the Summit League this season. North Dakota State got hot at the right time, and the Bison are 3-0 in league play. Fort Wayne can play quality defense, bang the boards, and run the fast break like a team from the 1970’s. The Mastodons beat Indiana and gave a good game against Notre Dame. They can score points in spurts, and they average close to 90 points per game.

Sun Belt
UT-Arlington is off to a 12-3 start with a 2-0 mark in conference play. Included in those dozen wins is a big upset of Saint Mary’s, but as each day passes, that win does not look so much like an upset, just more like one really good team beating another really good team. Still, the Mavericks do not have enough on their resume to contend for a bubble spot. Arkansas State is also 2-0 in the league, but the Red Wolves do not have a signature win that gives them a shot at the bubble. Their win at Georgetown could look better in March than it does now, but still we see only one team making the dance from this league.

Western Athletic
New Mexico State is 1-0/14-2, but the Aggies’ best win is only against Arizona State. This is not enough to merit bubble consideration, so if NMSU runs the table in the league and then loses in the WAC Finals, they could be NIT bound at 30-3. UT Rio Grande Valley is a hot team with seven wins in eight games, and the Vaqueros can fill the nets with buckets, but they don’t play enough defense to do damage in the Dance.

Multiple Bid Leagues
45 bids remain after the 23 one bid leagues are accounted for. Those 45 bids will go to nine conferences, an average of five per league. Of course, some of the nine leagues will receive just two or three bids, unless an upset winner earns the automatic bid. Let’s look at those now.

American Athletic
Cincinnati and SMU appear to be in good shape for now. The Bearcats (2-0/12-2) are ranked in the top 25 and have a win at Iowa State. Cinti can strengthen their hold on an at-large bid with a win at Houston (3-0/12-3) tomorrow. SMU (3-0/13-3) currently owns a nine-game winning streak, but they have yet to record a win over a top 25 team (they have yet to play one). They do own a win over Pittsburgh as well as losses to Michigan and USC. Central Florida is in the mix at 3-0/12-3. They present a monster matchup problem with 7 foot 6 inch center Tacko Fall hitting 80% of his shots (95% are within a foot of the basket or dunks) and pulling down double digit rebounds while playing a one-man zone in the low post.

Atlantic 10
Dayton and Rhode Island look like the class of the league at this point, but both teams have a watchful eye on VCU. Two of the three should make the Dance, and it is possible that this league will send a third team there as well, but for now, we are sticking with two for sure.

West Coast
Gonzaga and St. Mary’s should both get bids, but SMC cannot afford to slip and lose more than two conference games. A win at Dayton is not enough to guarantee the Gaels an at-large bid. They will have to go 12-2 in league play or beat Gonzaga one time out of three.

39 Bids Left for 6 Power Leagues
Of the remaining six power leagues, we will give only 3 bids to the SEC. Kentucky, Florida, and one other team from among South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama should receive bids.
The Pac-12 will send 3 or 4 teams. UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon look good at this point, while USC and California vying for a possible fourth bid.

We are going with 5 Big East bids: Villanova, Xavier, Butler, Creighton, and Marquette.

6 bids go to the Big Ten: Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, and either Northwestern, Ohio State, or Michigan State.

The Big 12 could send 8 teams dancing: Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, and Oklahoma State would all be in the tournament if the season ended today.

The ACC will reign supreme in this year’s Dance Party. As of this moment, we have an incredible 10 teams in the tournament: Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest all have tourney-worthy resumes.

This brings us to 65 bids. The remaining three bids are reserved for three possible conference tournament surprise winners. If the three do not emerge, then the at-large possibles to secure the bids would come from a pool of these teams: an additional SEC team from the group of Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama; yet another ACC team from among Syracuse, North Carolina State, and Pittsburgh; Houston from the AAC; an additional Big Ten team from the group of Northwestern, Michigan State, and Ohio State; an additional Pac-12 team from the USC/Cal pairing; and Wichita State, should the Shockers finish highly-ranked but fail to win the MVC Tournament.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 10
1. West Virginia
2. Villanova
3. Kentucky
4. Baylor
5. Kansas
6. Duke
7. North Carolina
8. Gonzaga
9. UCLA
10. Virginia

ACC
1. Duke
2. North Carolina
3. Virginia
4. Louisville
5. Florida State
6. Clemson
7. Notre Dame
8. Miami (FL)
9. Virginia Tech
10. Wake Forest
11. Pittsburgh
12. Syracuse
13. North Carolina St.
14. Georgia Tech
15. Boston College

Big 12
1. West Virginia
2. Baylor
3. Kansas
4. Texas Tech
5. Iowa St.
6. Kansas St.
7. Oklahoma St.
8. TCU
9. Oklahoma
10. Texas

Big East
1. Villanova
2. Xavier
3. Butler
4. Creighton
5. Marquette
6. Seton Hall
7. Georgetown
8. Providence
9. St. John’s
10. DePaul

Big Ten
1. Purdue
2. Wisconsin
3. Michigan
4. Indiana
5. Minnesota
6. Northwestern
7. Michigan St.
8. Ohio St.
9. Maryland
10. Illinois
11. Iowa
12. Nebraska
13. Penn St.
14. Rutgers

Pac-12
1. UCLA
2. Arizona
3. Oregon
4. USC
5. California
6. Utah
7. Colorado
8. Stanford
9. Arizona St.
10. Washington
11. Washington St.
12. Oregon St.

SEC
1. Kentucky
2. Florida
3. South Carolina
4. Arkansas
5. Georgia
6. Alabama
7. Tennessee
8. Vanderbilt
9. Texas A&M
10. Ole Miss
11. LSU
12. Auburn
13. Mississippi St.
14. Missouri

This Weekend’s Spreads

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, January 7, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Syracuse Pittsburgh 4 4 -4
Duke Boston College 24 28 24
Florida St. Virginia Tech 8 10 13
Georgia Tech Louisville -12 -16 -19
Notre Dame Clemson 3 5 5
North Carolina North Carolina St. 14 15 9
West Virginia TCU 13 15 6
Kansas St. Oklahoma 9 8 9
Baylor Oklahoma St. 10 11 21
Kansas Texas Tech 11 11 13
Iowa St. Texas 11 11 8
Georgetown Butler -3 -4 -1
Seton Hall DePaul 14 15 16
Providence Dayton -1 1 -4
Xavier St. John’s 14 16 15
Villanova Marquette 11 13 19
Penn St. Michigan St. -1 -3 -4
Michigan Maryland 6 7 -1
Indiana Illinois 10 11 2
Washington Oregon St. 10 12 10
Arizona St. Utah -1 -2 -2
Washington St. Oregon -11 -16 -19
Arizona Colorado 12 11 15
Georgia Missouri 14 14 17
South Carolina Texas A&M 7 5 8
LSU Mississippi St. 6 4 11
Florida Tennessee 12 12 15
Auburn Ole Miss 3 1 -6
Alabama Vanderbilt 3 3 1
Kentucky Arkansas 16 17 17

 

Games Scheduled for: Sunday, January 8, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Nebraska Northwestern 1 -2 4
Purdue Wisconsin 4 3 7
Iowa Rutgers 9 10 8
Minnesota Ohio St. 6 6 13
Virginia Wake Forest 10 15 12
UCLA Stanford 19 18 8
USC California 4 2 1
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