The Pi-Rate Ratings

April 6, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game–April 6, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game–April 6, 2008

 

Game Time: Monday, April 7, 2008, 9:21 PM EDT, San Antonio, TX

Television: CBS Network

Radio: Westwood One Radio Affiliates, including (some cities may have two affiliates, but it will air on just one of them-check prior to tip-off):

New York City: WEPN 1050-AM

Los Angeles/San Diego/San Bernardino: XEPE 1700-AM

Chicago: WMVP 1000-AM

Dallas-Ft. Worth: KESM 103.3-FM

Philadelphia: WPEN 950-AM

Houston: KTRH 740-AM/ KBME 790-AM

Miami: WQAM 560-AM

Washington, D.C.: WTEM 980-AM

Atlanta: WCNN 680-AM

Boston: WEEI 850-AM

Detroit: WXYT 1270-AM/97.1-FM

San Francisco: KNBR 680-AM

Phoenix: KGME 910-AM

Seattle: KJR 950-AM

Minneapolis-St. Paul: KFAN 1130-AM/KFXN 950-AM

St. Louis: KMOX 1120-AM/KFNS 590-AM

Baltimore: WBAL 1090-AM

Denver: KKFN 950-AM/KEPN 1600-AM

Portland, OR: WFXX 1080-AM

Cincinnati: WCKY 1530-AM

Cleveland: WKNR 850-AM/WWGK 1540-AM

 

www.westwoodone.com has a live listen link as well

Teams

 

University of Memphis Tigers, Memphis, TN

Colors: Blue and Gray

Coach: John Calipari  182-63 in 8 years at Memphis 375-134 in 16 seasons overall

Assistant Coach: Derek Kellogg

Assistant Coach: John Robic

Assistant Coach: Jose “Chuck” Martin

 

2008 Record: 38-1

 

UT-Martin                 102-71

Richmond                    80-63

Oklahoma (n)               63-53

Connecticut (n)            81-70

Arkansas State            84-63

Austin Peay                104-82

Southern Cal (n)          62-58 ot

@ Middle Tennessee   65-41

@ Cincinnati                79-69

Georgetown                 85-71

Arizona                        76-63

Siena                           102-58

Pepperdine                   90-53

East Carolina               99-58

@ Marshall                  68-45

@ Rice                          77-50

Southern Miss.             83-47

@ Tulsa                        56-41

Gonzaga                       81-73

@ Houston                   89-77

UTEP                           70-64

SMU                             77-48

Central Florida            85-64

Houston                        68-59

@ UAB                         79-78

@ Tulane                     97-71

Tennessee                     62-66

Tulsa                             82-67

@ Southern Miss.        76-67

@ SMU                        72-55

UAB                             94-56

Tulane (cusa)               75-56

Southern Miss (cusa)  69-53

Tulsa (cusa)                  77-51

 

NCAA Tournament

UT-Arlington               87-63

Mississippi State          77-74

Michigan State             92-74

Texas                            85-67

UCLA                        78-63

 

PPG                            80.2

PPG allowed              61.6

FG %                          46.7

FG % Defense           38.7

3pt %                          35.1

3pt % Defense           30.3

FT %                          61.3

Rebound Avg.           40.8

Opp. Rebound           34.2

Turnovers                  11.7

Opp. Turnovers         15.8

Steals                            8.4

R + T (*)                     14.9

PiRate (^)                   19

SOS (#)                       57.49

 

(*): This is my special rating to determine extra scoring opportunities.  The formula for R+T is: R+T = R + ((.2*S) * (1.2*T)), where R = Rebound Margin, S = Avg. Steals per game, and T = Turnover Margin.  For Additional Info, see my articles of March 17 and March 18, 2008.

 

(^): The PiRate Score awards points based on scoring margin, field goal percentage difference, rebounding and turnover margins, and R+T.  A look at the last 200 Final Four teams showed more than 80% of them scoring 12 or above in this stat.  It is actually used to pick teams with the best chance of advancing to the Final Four from the original field, but it is included herein.

 

(#): SOS = strength of schedule.  For the last few years, I have been using the SOS from CBS.Sportsline.Com and multiplying by 100 to get this value.  I have surmised that these numbers can be used to gauge, by taking the difference, the average number of points per game one schedule is from another.  Thus a PiRate score of 15 versus one of 18 can be considered equal if PiRate 15 has a SOS that is 6 points better than PiRate 18.

 

Starting Lineup

 

Note: Positions given may differ from player’s recognized position.  Some teams consider their five starters to be different from the five historical positions, while I list them by the positions they play on the offensive end of the floor.

Center: #3 Joey Dorsey, 6-9 260 Sr.

6.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 64.0% FG, 0-1 3pt, 37.8% FT, 0.5 ast, 1.9 blk, 1.1 stl

Strengths:  Powerful inside player who can hit the offensive glass and get easy putbacks.  Excellent defender in the post. Can run the fast break and finish like a smaller player.

 

Weaknesses: Foul-prone. Has very little offensive game outside of 6 feet, and a terrible foul shooter.

 

Power Forward: #2 Robert Dozier, 6-9 215 Jr.

9.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 44.3% FG, 29.0% 3pt, 67.5% FT, 1.0 ast, 1.9 blk, 1.1 stl

Strengths: Aside from shot blocking, he alters shots with his long arms.  He can rebound on both ends of the floor and gets a lot of junk baskets with his offensive rebounding skills.  He can hit the jumper out to 15 feet.

 

Weaknesses:  Doesn’t move well away from the ball.  Can become foul-prone.  Shot selection can be suspect.

 

Small Forward: #14 Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-6 200 Jr.

18.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 54.4% FG, 44.3% 3pt, 71.4% FT, 1.8 ast. 0.5 blk, 1.2 stl

Strengths: Excellent at creating offense by moving with and without the ball.  Good jump-shooter with a threat to drive to the hoop if being overplayed.  Good position defense.  Excellent on the fast break.

 

Weaknesses:  Can be taken to the basket by more powerful frontcourt players.  Can steal the ball from him when he drives to the basket.

 

Shooting Guard: #5 Antonio Anderson, 6-6 200 Jr.

8.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 41.0% FG, 33.6% 3pt, 57.7% FT, 3.5 ast, 0.3 blk, 1.2 stl

Strengths: Best defender on the team and one of the best in the nation.  Can play any of the three backcourt positions.  Good first step in drives to the basket.  Strong passer.

 

Weaknesses: Outside shooting is suspect.

 

Point Guard: #23 Derrick Rose, 6-4 195 Fr.

14.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 48.0% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 71.1% FT, 4.6 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.2 stl

Strengths: The entire package!  Rose is Magic Johnson minus four inches.  Outside shooing is good and improving; ability to drive to the hoop is outstanding.  Runs the offense as competently as any other collegian, and he’s just a freshman.

 

Weaknesses:  Can begin to hurry when opponents slow the tempo down.

 

Key Reserves

 

#20 Doneal Mack, 6-5 170 So. G/F

7.1 ppg. 1.7 rpg, 39.0% FG, 36.5% 3pt, 66.7% FT, 12.7 minutes/G

 

#0 Shawn Taggart, 6-3 230 So. F/C

6.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 50.9% FG, 37.0% 3pt, 64.6% FT, 16.9 minutes/G

 

#1 Willie Kemp, 6-2 165 So. G

5.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 38.3% FG, 36.7% 3pt, 64.0% FT, 14.1 minutes/G

University of Kansas Jayhawks, Lawrence, KS

Colors: Crimson and Blue

Coach: Bill Self 141-32 in 5 years at Kansas 348-137 in 15 years overall

Assistant Coach:  Danny Manning

Assistant Coach: Joe Dooley

Assistant Coach: Kurtis Townsend

 

2008 Record: 36-3

 

UL-Monroe                107-78

Missouri-KC                85-62

Washburn                    92-60

Northern Arizona       87-46

Arizona                        76-72 ot

Fla. Atlantic                 87-49

@ Southern Cal           59-55

Eastern Washington   85-47

DePaul                          84-66

Ohio U                          88-51

@ Georgia Tech          71-66

Miami (FL)                  78-54

Yale                              86-53

@ Boston College        85-60

Loyola (MD)                90-60

@ Nebraska                 79-58

Oklahoma                    85-55

@ Missouri                   76-70

Iowa State                    83-59

Nebraska                      84-49

@ Kansas State            75-84

@ Colorado                 72-59

Missouri                       90-71

Baylor                         100-90

@ Texas                       69-72

Colorado                      69-45

@ Oklahoma State      60-61

@ Iowa State               75-64

Kansas State                88-74

Texas Tech                 109-51

@ Texas A&M            72-55

Nebraska (B12)           64-54

Texas A&M (B12)       77-71

Texas (B12)                  84-74

 

NCAA Tournament

Portland State              85-61

UNLV                                      75-56

Villanova                      72-57

Davidson                      59-57

North Carolina            84-66

 

PPG                            80.7

PPG allowed              61.3

FG %                          50.8

FG % Defense           37.9

3pt %                          39.9

3pt % Defense           32.9

FT %                          69.8

Rebound Avg.           38.7

Opp. Rebound           30.9

Turnovers                  13.1

Opp. Turnovers         15.6

Steals                            8.8

R + T (*)                     13.1

PiRate (^)                   19

SOS (#)                       55.94

 

Starting Lineup

 

Center: #00 Darrell Arthur, 6-9 225 So.

12.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 53.8% FG, 16.7% 3pt, 69.6% FT, 0.8 ast, 1.4 blk, 0.5 stl

Strengths: Great leaper with speed and quickness.  Decent shooting range up to 15 feet.  Excellent low post moves and inside shooting touch.

 

Weaknesses: Major problem with committing fouls.  Good defenders can steal the ball from him when he drives to the basket.

 

Power Forward: #32 Darnell Jackson, 6-8, 250 Sr.

11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 62.5% FG, 2-6 3pt, 68.7% FT, 1.1 ast, 0.5 blk, 0.8 stl

Strengths: Tough inside player who can rebound the ball and get second-chance points.  Good post defender when it comes to preventing the ball from entering the post.  Doesn’t make silly mistakes.

 

Weaknesses: Not much quickness may allow Dozier to have a much better than normal game.  Defense is not great once opponent gets ball in the low post.

 

Small Forward: #25 Brandon Rush, 6-6 210 Jr.

13.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 43.2% FG, 42.3% 3pt, 78.3% FT, 2.1 ast, 0.8 blk, 0.8 stl

Strengths: Plays taller than 6-6.  Has excellent speed and quickness.  Excellent shooting range to the NBA 3-point line.  Very tough perimeter defender who can also guard a bigger opponent.

 

Weaknesses: Not much explosiveness to the hoop when he has the ball.  If forced to go to the left, he just about won’t shoot or drive.

 

Shooting Guard: #15 Mario Chalmers, 6-1 190 Jr.

12.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 52.1% FG, 47.3% 3pt, 73.4% FT, 4.4 ast, 0.6 blk, 2.4 stl

Strengths: Great shooting range.  Excellent passing skills, strong on the ball defender and has tricky quickness to jump in passing lanes.

 

Weaknesses: Not a great ball-handler for his position and could be prone into making turnovers against Memphis’s pressure defense.

 

Point Guard: #3 Russell Robinson, 6-1 205 Sr.

7.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 42.1% FG, 31.8% 3pt, 77.9% FT, 4.1 ast, 0.4 blk, 2.0 stl

Strengths: One of the best defensive players in college ball.  Can smother a high-scoring opponent.  Plays intelligently and won’t make many mistakes,

 

Weaknesses: Not a great shooter.  

Key Reserves

 

#4 Sherron Collins, 5-11 205 So. G

9.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 46.5% FG, 36.6% 3pt, 76.8% FT, 23.5 minutes/G

 

#24 Sasha Kaun, 6-11 250 Sr. C

7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 62.6% FG, 0 3pt, 54.1% FT, 17.6 minutes/G

 

#45 Cole Aldrich, 6-11 240 Fr. C

2.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 51.8% FG, 0 3pt, 68.4% FT, 8.4 minutes/G

Predictions

 

Las Vegas Spread: Memphis by 1 ½ points with Over/Under of 146.5 points.

PiRate System: About the same-Memphis by a tiny amount

 

My personal thoughts:  This game will be decided by the pace of the backcourts.  If Kansas’s outstanding perimeter defenders repeat their performance of the last game against North Carolina, they will slow Memphis down.

 

Depth could be a factor, but with the extra timeouts, Kansas won’t feel the effects of not having Rodrick Stewart, while Memphis won’t miss a beat without Andre Allen.

 

If I had to make a pick against the spread, I’d go with KU at +1.5 and Under 146.5.

 

I picked Kansas to win the National Championship before the season and before the start of March Madness, so I’m sticking with the Jayhawks to cut the nets.  Enjoy!

This is the last blog entry for a month.  Look for a Kentucky Derby Preview on Friday, May 2. 

April 4, 2008

A ONEderful Final Four–April 4, 2008

 

A ONEderful Final Four

Wow!  All four number one seeds have advanced to the Final Four for the first time since teams began to be seeded in the NCAA Tournament.  I did a little research and went back 60 years trying to find a year where the top team in each region advanced to the Final Four, and I couldn’t find another season where such a thing happened.  I found only one year where the four semifinalists were all ranked in the final regular season Top Five.  In 1970, UCLA, St. Bonaventure, Jacksonville, and New Mexico State finished the regular season ranked second, third, fourth, and fifth respectively.  Number one Kentucky fell to Jacksonville in the Mid-east Regional Finals.  The 1970 Final Four entered semifinal play with an incredible combined record of 103-6 (143-9 this year).  Jacksonville, led by twin towers Artis Gilmore and Pembrook Burroughs downed St. Bonaventure, who was missing superstar center Bob Lanier.  UCLA, a team that was not picked to win its conference after losing Kareem Abdul Jabbar to the Milwaukee Bucks, turned out to have the best frontline trio in the nation with Steve Patterson, Sidney Wicks, and Curtis Rowe, combined with fabulous guards Henry Bibby and John Vallely.  The Bruins dismissed New Mexico State.  In the title game, Wicks did the unbelievable by blocking shots by Gilmore multiple times, leading the Bruins to their fourth consecutive title and sixth in the last seven seasons.

This Final Four is the first one in many years where a good case could be made for any of the quartet to win all the marbles.  All four teams have unique features that other teams will have a tough time stopping or attacking, yet all four teams have Achilles’ heals that can be exploited.   If the semifinal matchups were best of seven series, I would expect both to go seven games.  This doesn’t mean that the three final games will be nail-biters; it means that any of this group could potentially blow out any of the other teams.

Here is a breakdown of the two Semi-final Games.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

6:07 PM EDT

UCLA 35-3  vs. Memphis 37-1

UCLA

Stat

Memphis

73.8

PPG

80.3

58.5

Def PPG

61.6

47.9

FG%

46.9

41.8

Def. FG%

38.8

35.1

3pt %

35.1

32.3

Def 3pt %

30.3

73.0

FT%

60.7

+8.6

Reb. Margin

+6.6

+1.8

TO Margin

+4.2

7.3

Stls/G

8.4

4.3

Blk/G

6.2

11.8

R+T

15.1

15

PiRate

19

57.71

SOS

57.49

 

For explanation of R+T, PiRate, and SOS, see Bracketnomics 505 from March 17, 2008, and the subsequent blog story of March 18, 2008.  I have adjusted SOS by already multiplying by 100.

Starters

Center

UCLA: #42 Kevin Love, 6-10 260 Fr.

17.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 56.5% FG, 36.3% 3pt, 76.4% FT, 1.9 ast, 1.4 blk, 0.7 stl

Memphis: #3 Joey Dorsey, 6-9 260 Sr. (plays this position as a forward)

7.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 65.2% FG, 0-1 3pt, 37.8% FT, 0.5 ast, 1.9 blk, 1.1 stl

Power Forward

UCLA: #23 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6-8 230 Jr.

8.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 48.3% FG, 20.0% 3pt, 68.1% FT, 1.6 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.1 stl

Memphis: #2 Robert Dozier, 6-9 215 Jr.

9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 44.4% FG, 29.0% 3pt, 67.5% FT, 1.0 ast, 1.8 blk, 1.1 stl

Small Forward

UCLA: #3 Josh Shipp, 6-5 220 Jr.

12.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 43.7% FG, 32.4% 3pt, 78.6% FT, 2.2 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.4 stl

Memphis: #14 Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-6 200 Jr.

17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 54.5% FG, 41.6% 3pt, 70.9% FT, 1.8 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.2 stl

Shooting Guard

UCLA: #0 Russell Westbrook, 6-3 187 So.

12.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 46.2 FG%, 32.4% 3pt, 71.3% FT, 4.3 ast, 0.2 blk, 1.6 stl

Memphis: #5 Antonio Anderson, 6-6 200 Jr.

8.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 40.9% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 57.7% FT, 3.5 ast, 0.3 blk, 1.2 stl

Point Guard

UCLA: #2 Darren Collison, 6-1 165 Jr.

14.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 49.1% FG, 53.0% 3pt, 87.2% FT, 3.8 ast, 0.1 blk, 1.8 stl

Memphis: #23 Derrick Rose, 6-4 195 Fr.

14.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 48.1% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 69.8% FT, 4.7 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.2 stl

Key Reserves

UCLA

#14 Lorenzo Mata-Real, 6-9 240 Sr. C

3.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg

#12 Alfred Aboya, 6-8 235 Jr. F/C

2.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg

#13 James Keefe, 6-8 220 So. F

2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Memphis

#20 Doneal Mack, 6-5 170 So. G/F

7.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg

#0 Shawn Taggart, 6-3 230 So. F/C

6.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg

#1 Willie Kemp, 6-2 165 So. G

5.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg

Note: Backup point guard Andre Allen has been suspended for the Final Four.

My Guess at the Game

UCLA will slow the tempo down in this game and force Memphis to beat them in a half-court game.  The Bruins talented backcourt should not have too much difficulty avoiding the costly turnovers that lead to cheap baskets for Memphis.  The Tigers will need a half-dozen cheap baskets to win this one.

UCLA will isolate Love and/or Mbah a Moute down low with the hopes of forcing Dorsey to foul.  Dorsey has a problem with fouling in the paint, and he will have to log at least 30 minutes for the Tigers to compete.

If the game becomes an issue of depth, the sons of Westwood have superior inside reserves, while the bullies from the Bluff have superior perimeter reserves.

Basically, when two outstanding teams face off on a neutral court, you look at which team will get more scoring chances by way of rebounding and turnover margin, and you look at which team is likely to get more high percentage shot opportunities.

When I look at all the statistics and talent, I definitely see evidence that UCLA will win the battle of the boards by a moderate amount, while Memphis forces the Bruins into a few extra turnovers.  It comes down to who gets the open shots.  I don’t think the Bruins will give up more than a handful of easy shots, while Memphis will gamble for steals and give up some open looks.   I look for Darren Collison to burn the Tigers from outside and open up the lane for Love about 12 minutes into the game.  It will lead to Dorsey committing some fouls and having to go to the bench.  When that happens, UCLA will get some offensive rebounds and putbacks.  Look for UCLA to advance to the title game.

Prediction: UCLA 67  Memphis 59

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Approximately 8:47 PM EDT

Kansas 35-3  vs. North Carolina 36-2

Kansas

Stat

N. Carolina

80.6

PPG

89.2

61.2

Def PPG

72.2

50.7

FG%

49.1

37.9

Def. FG%

42.3

40.1

3pt %

37.9

33.3

Def 3pt %

32.6

69.6

FT%

75.5

+7.7

Reb. Margin

+11.5

+2.6

TO Margin

+1.8

8.8

Stls/G

8.2

5.9

Blk/G

4.5

13.2

R+T

15.0

19

PiRate

15

55.94

SOS

59.21

Starters

Center

Kansas: #00 Darrell Arthur, 6-9 225 So.

12.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 54.3% FG, 16.7% 3pt, 69.6% FT, 0.8 ast, 1.3 blk, 0.5 stl

North Carolina: #50 Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9 250 Jr.

22.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 54.2% FG, 0% 3pt, 80.6% FT, 0.9 ast, 0.3 blk, 1.5 stl

Power Forward

Kansas: #32 Darnell Jackson, 6-8, 250 Sr.

11.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 62.0% FG, 2-6 3pt, 68.3% FT, 1.1 ast, 0.5 blk, 0.7 stl

North Carolina: #21 Deon Thompson, 6-8 240 So.

8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 48.1% FG, 0% 3pt, 58.6% FT, 1.1 ast, 1.3 blk, 0.7 stl

Small Forward

Kansas: #25 Brandon Rush, 6-6 210 Jr.

13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 42.3% FG, 42.9% 3pt, 79.0% FT, 2.1 ast, 0.8 blk, 0.9 stl

North Carolina: #1 Marcus Ginyard, 6-5 218 Jr.

7.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 44.7% FG, 42.9% 3pt, 64.9% FT, 2.2 ast, 0.1 blk, 1.1 stl

Shooting Guard

Kansas: #15 Mario Chalmers, 6-1 190 Jr.

12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 52.2% FG, 47.6% 3pt, 74.6% FT, 4.4 ast, 0.6 blk, 2.4 stl

North Carolina: #22 Wayne Ellington, 6-4 200 So.

16.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 47.1% FG, 41.4% 3pt, 82.5% FT, 2.1 ast, 0.2 blk, 1.1 stl

Point Guard

Kansas: #3 Russell Robinson, 6-1 205 Sr.

7.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 42.2% FG, 32.1% 3pt, 77.5% FT, 4.1 ast, 0.4 blk, 2.0 stl

North Carolina: #5 Ty Lawson, 5-11 195 So.

12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 52.3% FG, 35.8% 3pt, 82.9% FT, 5.3 ast, 0.0 blk (1), 1.6 stl

Key Reserves

Kansas

#4 Sherron Collins, 5-11 205 So. G

9.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg

#24 Sasha Kaun, 6-11 250 Sr. C

7.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg

#5 Rodrick Stewart, 6-4, 200 Sr. G

2.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg

North Carolina

#14 Danny Green, 6-6 210 Jr. F/G

11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg

#32 Alex Stepheson, 6-9 235 So. F/C

4.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg

#11 Quentin Thomas, 6-3 190 Sr. G

3.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg

My Guess at the Game

This has the potential to rank among the best semifinal games in the last 50 years (a list of some great ones follows this preview).

Much like the first game, this game will be won by the team that gets the combination of the most extra scoring opportunities and best looks at the basket.  Can any team playing North Carolina keep the rebounding margin at a stand-off?  Kansas can probably keep the Tar Heel advantage at a minimum and then offset that advantage by winning the turnover margin battle.  That means this game will be decided by shot selection and prevention of good shots.  If that is the case, Kansas is one of the best, if not the best, teams at winning the battle for high percentage shots.

North Carolina still has the ace in the hole in Hansbrough.  He can neutralize the perceived Jayhawk advantage by matching the entire Arthur and Jackson combined in scoring and rebounding.  Again, I think the frontcourts of both teams are basically even.

In the backcourt, I see a decided advantage that I think will eventually tilt the game in the winner’s advantage.  North Carolina has a terrific trio in Ellington, Lawson, and Green.  The Tar Heel guards can destroy an opponent in a matter of two minutes with a fast-break outburst.  One momentary lapse can lead to a 10-0 Carolina run.

So, you see me picking the Tar Heels, yes?  No!  I see Kansas with the advantage in the backcourt.  The Jayhawks perimeter players, Rush, Chalmers, Robinson, Collins, and Stewart, are the best combined quintet of guards in the nation.  As a whole, this group has superior scoring ability from the outside (Chalmers & Rush), the best penetrator to the hoop (Rush), excellent passing (Chalmers, Robinson, Collins), excellent ball hawks (Chalmers & Robinson), excellent defenders on the ball (all five, especially Rush), and even some added rebounding strength (Rush & Chalmers).  Collins could not only start on most of the other NCAA Tournament teams, he could be an all-conference player on most of them!

I see Kansas controlling the tempo for most of the game and preventing North Carolina from making any great, extended scoring runs.  Kansas had its shock game against Davidson, and the Jayhawks have yet to play their best game in this tournament.  I think they will Saturday, and I think it will put them in the Title Game on Monday Night.

Prediction: Kansas 77  North Carolina 73

My List of the 20 Best Semifinal Games in Last 50 Seasons

1959: California 64  Cincinnati 58

1962: Cincinnati 72  UCLA 70

1968: UCLA 101  Houston 69

1969: UCLA 85  Drake 82

1971: Villanova 92   Western Kentucky 89 2ot

1973: UCLA 70  Indiana 59

1974: North Carolina State 80  UCLA 77 2ot

1975: UCLA 75  Louisville 74 ot

1977: North Carolina 84  UNLV 83

          Marquette 51  UNCC 49

1978: Duke 90  Notre Dame 86

1983: Houston 94  Louisville 81

1987: Indiana 97  UNLV 93

1989: Michigan 83  Illinois 81

1991: Duke 79  UNLV 77

          Kansas 79  North Carolina 73

1992: Duke 81  Indiana 78

1996: Kentucky 81  U Mass. 74

1998: Kentucky 86  Stanford 85 ot

2004: Connecticut 79  Duke 78

March 28, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Finals–March 29, 2008

The Elitist of the Elite

A PiRate Preview of The Regional Final Games-March 29, 2008

Eight teams are left, and only Davidson, a team with a 25-game winning streak can be considered a surprise.  Xavier and Louisville may not have been expected to get this far, but both the Musketeers and Cardinals are no big surprises.

All four number one seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight.  Can all four make it to the Final Four for the first time since the current 64/65-team format has been in effect?  It’s possible, but it’s also possible that two of the four top-seeded teams could lose.

Of the eight Sweet 16 round games, seven of them were dull games.  Only the Xavier-West Virginia game was worth watching from start to finish.  Let’s hope the Regional Final games are a little more exciting.

In the statistics shown below, the records are up to date, but the stats do not include the Regional Semifinal games.  Those will be included in next week’s Final Four Previews.

Note:  In the statistics below, you will see a column marked other.  “B” means the player is an exceptional shot blocker.  “S” means the player is exceptional at stealing the ball.  “A” means the player is an excellent passer for assists.  “F” means the player is foul-prone.

West Regional-Phoenix

Saturday, March 29, 2008

6:40 PM EDT

#3 Xavier vs. #1 UCLA

Xavier Musketeers

Record: 30-6

Head Coach: Sean Miller

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

31

Jason Love

F/C

6-09

255

So.

6.1

5.4

57.4

0.0

60.4

B

5

Derrick Brown

F

6-08

225

So.

10.9

6.7

60.2

34.5

72.1

20

C.J. Anderson

F/G

6-06

220

Jr.

10.7

5.9

52.3

0.0

67.3

34

Stanley Burrell

G

6-03

210

Sr.

9.8

2.1

39.1

38.9

83.1

A

24

Drew Lavender

G

5-07

153

Sr.

11.0

2.6

43.6

40.4

86.8

A

KEY RESERVES %

1

Josh Duncan

F

6-09

235

Sr.

12.1

4.7

50.4

41.8

85.4

F

11

B.J. Raymond

G/F

6-06

225

Jr.

10.1

3.1

44.9

41.1

86.1

25

Dante’ Jackson

G

6-05

205

Fr.

2.4

1.2

35.4

38.1

61.5

S/F

Statistical Analysis

XAV

Stat

Opp

Difference

47.8

FG%

40.6

7.2

39.1

3pt%

33.7

5.4

75.5

FT%

67.6

7.9

35.8

Reb

30.2

5.6

13.1

TO

13.0

-0.1

3.4

BK

3.6

-0.2

5.6

STL

6.6

-1.0

15.3

AST

13.1

2.2

R+T  #

5.47

75.5

PPG

62.7

12.8

PiRate Score

8 *

Schedule Strength

.5720

(*) Missed being 10 by very little

(#) For an explanation of R+T, PiRate Score, and Schedule

Strength, see “Bracketnomics 505” posted on 3/17/08

& how point values are assigned posted on 3/18/08

NCAA Tournament Results

Georgia

73-61

Purdue

85-78

West Virginia

79-75 ot

U C L A  Bruins

Record: 34-3

Head Coach: Ben Howland

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

42

Kevin Love

C

6-10

271

Fr.

17.3

10.6

55.7

36.5

76.5

B

23

Luc Rich. Mbah a Moute

F

6-08

232

Jr.

8.6

5.5

47.9

20.0

69.4

3

Josh Shipp

F/G

6-05

220

Jr.

12.4

3.2

44.0

32.5

79.2

S

2

Darren Collison

G

6-00

160

Jr.

15.1

2.6

49.4

51.6

87.6

S/A

0

Russell Westbrook

G

6-03

185

So.

12.3

3.8

46.8

31.9

70.5

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

14

Mata-Real, Lorenzo

C

6-09

235

Sr.

3.3

3.7

50.0

0.0

45.2

B/F

12

Alfred Aboya

F/C

6-09

245

Jr.

3.1

2.3

50.0

33.3

52.8

F

41

Dragovic, Nikola

F

6-09

215

So.

2.6

1.4

33.9

23.8

12-12

13

James Keefe

G

6-08

225

So.

2.1

2.4

44.2

28.6

35.7

F

Statistical Analysis

UCLA

Stat

Opp

Difference

47.6

FG%

42.2

5.4

34.6

3pt%

32.5

2.1

73.0

FT%

67.0

6.0

36.3

Reb

27.9

8.4

12.4

TO

14.7

2.3

4.1

BK

2.6

1.5

7.4

STL

4.7

2.7

14.4

AST

11.3

3.1

R+T  #

12.48

73.3

PPG

58.0

15.3

PiRate Score

15

Schedule Strength

.5751

NCAA Tournament Results

Mississippi Valley

70-29

Texas A&M

51-49

Western Kentucky

88-78

UCLA is looking to become the first team since Duke to make it to three consecutive Final Fours.  Of Course the Bruins went to the Final Four every year from 1967 through 1975, so three in a row is now big deal in Westwood.

Xavier is looking to become the first team from the Queen City to make the Final Four since Cincinnati did so in 1992 (The Bearcats also own a five consecutive streak from 1959-1963).

UCLA has a huge intangible in its favor.  The Bruins keep getting the benefit of several officials’ mistakes.  Going back to the end of the regular season when they won back-to-back games over Stanford and California, both ending in controversy, to the Pac-10 Tournament where they won a close game over Southern Cal, to the Texas A&M game in the second round of the Big Dance where the Bruins players were allowed to hold and push with no fouls being called, where the Aggies’ players were whistled for entering the same Zip Code, and it is a pattern that cannot be ignored.  I’m not saying this is a conspiracy.  I’m saying its probably human nature taking its course.  UCLA always got the benefit of the doubt during their great dynasty years.  I remember watching them foul Maryland all over the gym in December of 1973, while Maryland couldn’t get within an arm’s length without being whistled.  Somehow, the Terps had a chance to win at the end that night, but fell short by one basket.

UCLA probably doesn’t need any help to win this game, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them benefit from a few calls or non-calls by the zebras.  While Xavier has the talent to keep this game close, I’m expecting the sons of Westwood to march to the Final Four with a victory.  The matchup between UCLA’s Kevin Love and Xavier’s Jason Love will be what decides this game, and we can make an educated guess which player will win.

Prediction: UCLA 73  Xavier 64

East Regional-Charlotte

Saturday, March 29, 2008

9:05 PM EDT

#3 Louisville vs. #1 North Carolina

 

Louisville Cardinals

Record: 27-8

Head Coach: Rick Pitino

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

4

David Padgett

F/C

6-11

245

Sr.

11.4

4.5

67.7

0.0

65.2

F

1

Terrence Williams

F

6-06

210

Jr.

11.0

7.3

40.5

34.3

56.7

S/A

5

Earl Clark

F/G

6-08

220

So.

10.9

8.0

46.2

23.1

65.5

B

34

Jerry Smith

G

6-01

200

So.

10.5

3.6

44.8

37.7

77.6

S

33

Andre McGee

G

5-10

180

Jr.

6.4

1.6

40.4

40.3

69.8

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

32

Derrick Caracter

F/C

6-09

265

So.

8.5

4.5

55.7

1 of 1

63.1

B/F

10

Edgar Sosa

G

6-01

175

So.

7.6

1.7

38.5

37.4

63.6

3

Juan Palacios

F/C

6-08

250

Sr.

6.4

4.0

44.5

31.3

70.5

S

Statistical Analysis

U of L

Stat

Opp

Difference

46.0

FG%

38.4

7.6

35.2

3pt%

30.6

4.6

64.4

FT%

67.7

-3.3

37.3

Reb

34.5

2.8

13.3

TO

14.6

1.3

4.9

BK

2.7

2.2

8.1

STL

5.7

2.4

15.1

AST

12.2

2.9

R+T  #

5.33

72.3

PPG

60.9

11.4

PiRate Score

9

Schedule Strength

.5852

NCAA Tournament Results

Boise State

79-61

Oklahoma

78-48

Tennessee

79-60

North Carolina Tar Heels

Record: 35-2

Head Coach: Roy Williams

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

50

Tyler Hansbrough

F

6-09

250

Jr.

22.8

10.2

54.1

0.0

81.2

S

21

Deon Thompson

F

6-08

240

So.

8.5

4.8

47.7

0.0

58.6

B/F

1

Marcus Ginyard

G-F

6-05

218

Jr.

7.4

4.5

44.6

42.9

66.3

S

22

Wayne Ellington

G

6-04

200

So.

16.8

4.3

47.9

42.1

81.5

5

Ty Lawson

G

5-11

195

So.

12.9

2.7

52.8

36.0

82.5

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

14

Danny Green

G-F

6-05

210

Jr.

11.3

5.0

46.8

37.1

86.3

BSAF

32

Alex Stepheson

F

6-09

235

So.

4.4

4.8

53.2

0.0

43.2

B/F

11

Quentin Thomas

G

6-03

190

Sr.

3.4

1.5

57.3

25.0

78.1

A

4

Bobby Frasor

G

6-03

208

Jr.

3.2

1.8

34.2

30.0

50.0

S/A

Statistical Analysis

UNC

Stat

Opp

Difference

49.1

FG%

42.4

6.7

38.3

3pt%

33.0

5.3

75.4

FT%

66.9

8.5

44.0

Reb

32.4

11.6

14.3

TO

16.1

1.8

4.6

BK

4.9

-0.3

8.3

STL

7.9

0.4

17.3

AST

13.7

3.6

R+T  #

15.19

89.9

PPG

72.9

17.0

PiRate Score

17

Schedule Strength

.5921

NCAA Tournament Results

Mount St. Mary’s

113-74

Arkansas

108-77

Washington State

68-47

Louisville Coach Rick Pitino has his Cardinals playing the best half-court defense of any team he has ever coached, including his 1996 national champs at Kentucky.  What UL did to Tennessee was amazing Thursday night.  However, for the Cards to have any chance of getting to the Final Four, they will have to play even better defensively tonight.

North Carolina is an unstoppable force right now.  Sure, Washington State held them to 67 points, but the Cougars didn’t do it with great defense.  They slowed the game down, making it a low possession game.  UNC still had a fantastic points per possession stat in the game.

I expect the Tar Heels to get their first taste of playing in an NCAA Tournament game that isn’t decided by the under 12 timeout in the first half.  The Heels may even get extended into the second half before they put this one away.

Prediction: North Carolina 78  Louisville 69

South Regional-Houston

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2:20 PM EDT

#2 Texas vs. #1 Memphis

Texas Longhorns

Record: 31-6

Head Coach: Rick Barnes

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

32

Connor Atchley

F/C

6-10

225

Jr.

19.2

2.9

44.3

38.0

77.9

B

5

Damion James

F/G

6-07

227

Jr.

13.2

10.7

46.4

44.6

56.3

B

24

Justin Mason

G

6-02

185

So.

7.1

4.3

42.2

34.2

66.2

A

3

A.J. Abrams

G

5-10

155

Jr.

16.6

2.8

42.8

38.1

80.9

14

D.J. Augustin

G

5-11

175

So.

19.2

2.9

44.3

38.0

77.9

A

KEY RESERVES %

1

Gary Johnson

F

6-07

235

Fr.

5.7

4.0

41.6

0.0

55.6

F

34

Dexter Pittman

C

6-10

293

So.

2.7

2.3

54.8

0.0

60.5

B/F

15

Alexis Wangmene

F/C

6-08

240

Fr.

2.2

2.4

42.3

0.0

66.0

B/F

Statistical Analysis

UT

Stat

Opp

Difference

45.3

FG%

38.8

6.5

39.1

3pt%

32.6

6.5

68.2

FT%

67.9

0.3

38.1

Reb

35.1

3.0

9.6

TO

12.1

2.5

5.3

BK

2.8

2.5

6.0

STL

4.6

1.4

13.1

AST

12.4

0.7

R+T  #

6.60

75.5

PPG

64.4

11.1

PiRate Score

9

Schedule Strength

.5950

NCAA Tournament Results

Austin Peay

74-54

Miami (Fla.)

75-72

Stanford

82-62

Memphis Tigers

Record: 36-1

Head Coach: John Calipari

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

3

Joey Dorsey

F/C

6-09

265

Jr.

7.0

9.7

64.7

0.0

37.9

B/F

2

Robert Dozier

F

6-09

215

Jr.

9.4

6.7

45.1

29.0

68.5

B

14

Chris Douglas-Roberts

G/F

6-07

200

Jr.

17.3

4.2

54.7

42.7

68.4

5

Antonio Anderson

G

6-06

210

Jr.

8.4

3.7

40.9

32.8

56.6

A

23

Derrick Rose

G

6-03

205

Fr.

14.1

4.3

46.9

35.1

68.4

A

KEY RESERVES %

20

Doneal Mack

G

6-05

175

So.

7.7

1.8

39.7

37.1

66.7

F

0

Shawn Taggart

F/C

6-10

230

So.

5.8

4.2

51.0

37.5

63.9

B/F

1

Willie Kemp

G

6-02

175

So.

5.3

1.1

38.2

36.6

57.1

F

15

Andre Allen

G

5-10

205

Sr.

3.4

1.2

31.5

29.6

40.6

F

Statistical Analysis

Mem

Stat

Opp

Difference

46.6

FG%

38.5

8.1

35.3

3pt%

30.3

5.0

59.2

FT%

66.9

-7.7

40.9

Reb

34.2

6.7

12.0

TO

16.3

4.3

6.2

BK

3.3

2.9

8.5

STL

5.8

2.7

16.2

AST

10.7

5.5

R+T  #

15.47

79.8

PPG

61.1

18.7

PiRate Score

19

Schedule Strength

.5749

NCAA Tournament Results

Texas-Arlington

87-63

Mississippi State

77-74

Michigan State

92-74

Memphis looked every bit as talented as the UNLV 1990-91 team Friday Night against Michigan State.  Sure, they surrendered some easy baskets, but they out-rebounded a Tom Izzo-coached team by nine boards!  That doesn’t happen often, if ever.  When you have a player like Derrick Rose, who can come off the bench and score 27 points and Robert Dozier who can almost record a double double while playing just half the game, and you see how complete this team really is.  Who says the Tigers cannot hit free throws?  26-35 is going to win a lot of close games.

Texas isn’t just horse fodder.  The Longhorns are talented enough to advance to the title game.  Just imagine how great this team would be if Kevin Durant had decided to play just one more season.  D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams won’t be intimidated by the Tigers’ defense, and the deadly duo can force Memphis to become lax in the paint.  Then, Connor Atchley and Damion James will take over inside. 

Give Texas some home court advantage for playing in Houston, but give Memphis that little extra to get over the hump and avoid falling in the Elite Eight round for the third consecutive year.  They won’t be denied a third straight time-not with this much talent.

Prediction: Memphis 78  Texas 75

Midwest Regional-Detroit

Sunday, March 30, 2008

5:05 PM EDT

#10 Davidson vs. #1 Kansas

Davidson Wildcats

Record: 29-6

Head Coach: Bob McKillop

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

15

Thomas Sander

F

6-08

220

Sr.

7.6

4.9

57.9

23.1

53.3

F

41

Andrew Lovedale

F

6-08

215

Jr.

6.7

5.4

53.6

0.0

66.7

F

14

Max Paulhus Gosselin

G/F

6-06

205

Jr.

3.6

3.5

36.7

12.5

65.5

S

30

Stephen Curry

G

6-03

185

So.

25.7

4.6

48.8

44.4

88.8

S/A

2

Jason Richards

G

6-02

185

Sr.

12.9

3.1

41.8

32.4

74.8

A

KEY RESERVES %

5

Boris Meno

F

6-08

230

Sr.

7.3

5.6

49.5

5.6

66.7

22

Will Archambault

G/F

6-06

210

So.

5.2

1.9

39.1

27.8

69.0

F

24

Bryant Barr

G

6-04

195

So.

5.1

1.0

38.9

40.5

64.7

23

Stephen Rossiter

F

6-07

230

So.

3.1

3.4

60.3

0.0

67.6

S/F

Statistical Analysis

DC

Stat

Opp

Difference

47.1

FG%

42.3

4.8

36.2

3pt%

35.6

0.6

72.3

FT%

63.1

9.2

36.6

Reb

32.7

3.9

12.1

TO

16.9

4.8

3.3

BK

2.4

0.9

8.1

STL

5.6

2.5

17.1

AST

13.5

3.6

R+T  #

13.23

78.6

PPG

63.5

15.1

PiRate Score

14

Schedule Strength

.5252

NCAA Tournament Results

Gonzaga

82-76

Georgetown

74-70

Wisconsin

73-56

Kansas Jayhawks

Record: 34-3

Head Coach: Bill Self

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

32

Darnell Jackson

F

6-08

250

Sr.

11.5

6.7

62.3

33.3

69.5

0

Darrell Arthur

F

6-09

225

So.

13.1

6.2

54.0

16.7

70.4

B/F

25

Brandon Rush

G/F

6-06

210

Jr.

13.0

5.0

42.5

43.9

77.6

15

Mario Chalmers

G

6-01

195

Jr.

12.6

3.1

52.5

47.1

73.3

S/A

3

Russell Robinson

G

6-01

205

Sr.

7.4

2.8

42.3

31.3

76.6

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

4

Sherron Collins

G

5-11

205

So.

9.5

2.0

47.9

36.8

76.5

S/A

24

Sasha Kaun

C

6-11

250

Sr.

7.1

3.9

61.1

0.0

54.4

B/F

45

Cole Aldrich

C

6-11

240

Fr.

2.9

3.1

51.9

0.0

64.7

B/F

5

Rodrick Stewart

G

6-04

200

Sr.

2.9

2.3

49.3

31.3

60.7

Statistical Analysis

KU

Stat

Opp

Difference

50.8

FG%

38.0

12.8

40.1

3pt%

33.7

6.4

69.6

FT%

68.4

1.2

38.8

Reb

30.9

7.9

12.8

TO

15.8

3.0

6.0

BK

2.6

3.4

8.9

STL

6.2

2.7

18.4

AST

11.3

7.1

R+T  #

14.31

81.4

PPG

61.4

20.0

PiRate Score

21

Schedule Strength

.5594

NCAA Tournament Results

Portland State

85-61

UNLV

75-56

Villanova

72-57

I have to admit that Stephen Curry and company did something I didn’t think they could do-they blew Wisconsin off the floor Friday night.  I underestimated just how fluid the Wildcats play.  This is actually their third trip to the Elite 8, with the other two coming in 1968 and 1969 (they lost both times to North Carolina by one possession).

Kansas is the team to beat.  The Jayhawks can dominate the game at both ends of the floor and in the stat book,  as they showed against ‘Nova Friday night.  I believe the Jayhawk defense will be able to combat the numerous perimeter screens set and keep Curry from putting up numbers reminiscent of Austin Carr when he played in the NCAA Tournament for Notre Dame.

I’m going with the Jayhawks, because I think they are as good as any National Champion in the last quarter century.  Davidson won’t lose because they are a small school from the Southern Conference.  In my opinion any other team in the field would also lose if they played Kansas in the Elite 8.

Prediction: Kansas 75  Davidson 60

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