The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 6, 2019

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wednesday’s PiRate Ratings Spreads










Oklahoma St.


















St. Bonaventure






La Salle












Northern Kentucky



Eastern Illinois



UT Martin



Fairleigh Dickinson












Florida Atlantic



Louisiana Tech






George Washington









Houston Baptist



Incarnate Word



Long Beach St.



UC Riverside






Florida Int’l.









McNeese St.



Texas A&M CC



Morehead St.



SIU Edwardsville



New Mexico



Boise St.



Nicholls St.



Northwestern St.



North Carolina St.



Georgia Tech






Ohio St.



Notre Dame









Youngstown St.



Old Dominion



Southern Miss.



Robert Morris



St. Francis (Bklyn)






Penn St.



Sacred Heart



Long Island



Saint Louis






Sam Houston St.



Central Arkansas



San Diego St.



Fresno St.



San Jose St.






Seton Hall






Southeastern Louisiana



New Orleans



St. Francis (PA)









South Florida






Middle Tennessee












Oregon St.



Washington St.






West Virginia



Iowa St.



Western Kentucky







Conference Tournaments Update

Big South Conference

First Round–Tuesday, March 5 (at Higher Seeded Teams)





Charleston Sou.


USC Upstate







Quarterfinals–Thursday, March 7 (at Campbell)






Radford (20-10)


Presbyterian (18-14)


Winthrop (18-11)


Charleston Southern (16-14)


Campbell (19-11)


Hampton (15-15)


Gardner-Webb (20-11)


High Point (16-14)


Horizon League (Motor City Madness)

Quarterfinals–Tuesday, March 5 (at Higher Seed)

Wright St.




Green Bay





Quarterfinals–Wednesday, March 6 (at Higher Seed)


Home Team




Oakland (15-16)


Youngstown St. (12-19)


Northern Kentucky (23-8)


Detroit (11-19)


Northeast Conference

All games at home floor of higher seeds

Quarterfinals–Wednesday, March 6






St. Francis (PA) (16-13)


Bryant (10-19)


Fairleigh-Dickinson (17-13)


Wagner (13-16)


Sacred Heart (15-16)


Long Island (15-15)


Robert Morris (16-15)


St. Francis (Bklyn) (17-14)


Ohio Valley Conference

Site: Ford Center, Evansville, IN

First Round–Wednesday, March 6






Morehead St. (12-19)


SIU Edwardsville (10-20)


Eastern Illinois (14-17)


UT-Martin (11-18)


Patriot League

All games at home floor of higher seeds

Boston U


Loyola (MD)


Holy Cross





Quarterfinals–Thursday, March 7






Colgate (21-10)


Boston U (15-17)


Bucknell (19-10)


Holy Cross (16-16)


Lehigh (19-10)


Army (13-18)


American (15-14)


Navy (11-18)


Updated Bracketology Later Today
































January 25, 2019

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For Friday, January 25, 2019

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:56 am

January 25, 2019

Seed Line

Seed SCHOOL Conf.
1 Virginia ACC
1 Duke ACC
1 Michigan St. Big Ten
1 Gonzaga West Coast
2 Tennessee SEC
2 Michigan Big Ten
2 Houston American
2 Kentucky SEC
3 North Carolina ACC
3 Purdue Big Ten
3 Virginia Tech ACC
4 Louisville ACC
4 Kansas Big 12
4 Wisconsin Big Ten
4 Iowa St. Big 12
5 Texas Tech Big 12
5 Nevada Mountain West
5 Maryland Big Ten
5 Marquette Big East
6 Nebraska Big Ten
6 Iowa Big Ten
6 Buffalo MAC
6 Villanova Big East
7 Auburn SEC
7 Wofford Southern
7 NC State ACC
7 TCU Big 12
8 Oklahoma Big 12
8 Kansas St. Big 12
8 Mississippi St. SEC
8 Ole Miss SEC
9 Cincinnati American
9 Florida St. ACC
9 UCF American
9 Indiana Big Ten
10 Florida SEC
10 Utah St. Mountain West
10 Washington Pac-12
10 St. John’s (NY) Big East
11 Alabama SEC
11 San Francisco West Coast
11 Texas Big 12
11 Murray St. Ohio Valley
12 Lipscomb ASUN
12 Ohio St. Big Ten
12 Butler Big East
12 Syracuse ACC
12 Arizona Pac-12
12 Hofstra Colonial
13 VCU Atlantic 10
13 Yale Ivy
13 New Mexico St. WAC
13 North Texas CUSA
14 Radford Big South
14 Vermont America East
14 Texas St. Sun Belt
14 Northern Ky. Horizon
15 Montana Big Sky
15 South Dakota St. Summit
15 Loyola Chicago Missouri Valley
15 UC Irvine Big West
16 Colgate Patriot
16 Rider Metro Atlantic
16 Abilene Christian Southland
16 Texas Southern SWAC
16 St. Francis Brooklyn Northeast
16 N.C. A&T MEAC


First 4 Out
Seton Hall
Next 4 Out
UNC Greensboro
Last 4 In
Ohio St.
Last 4 Byes
St. John’s (NY)
San Francisco
First 4 #16 Seeds
Abilene Christian
Texas Southern
St. Francis Brooklyn
N.C. A&T
5 Potential At-large Mid-Majors
Saint Mary’s


Multiple Bid Leagues

Conference Bids
Big Ten 9
Big 12 7
Big East 4
Pac-12 2
West Coast 2


Coming Next Week

Monday: New Ratings and Bracketology

Tuesday: A closer look at the one-bid leagues and their top competitors

Friday: New Ratings and Bracketology


March 10, 2018

PiRate Ratings Bracketology Late Night Update–March 10-11 , 2018

The Bracket Gurus are burning the midnight oil and pouring more coffee as they try to determine who the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will invite into the Dance, and who will not hear the phone ring on Sunday.

At this point last year, most of the gurus were 100% in agreement on about 66 teams with only three teams really fighting for the final two spots.

There is a bit more dissension this season.  There are six teams seriously in the final discussion for three spots, but this will all change is Davidson beats Rhode Island on Sunday.  The Gurus are 100% in agreement in their belief that St. Bonaventure is in, so the Atlantic 10 could move from two to three teams if the Wildcats upset the Rams.

The teams that need to be worried about Davidson winning include Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Saint Mary’s, Louisville, and Middle Tennessee State.  The Gurus are close to eliminating Marquette, Baylor, and Syracuse, but these teams still appear on exactly one Guru list (three different Gurus have one each of the three).

Check back tomorrow after the conclusion of the Atlantic 10 Championship Game.  Within about 30 minutes of the outcome, we will publish our final Bracket Gurus report in full.  The pressure is on our Gurus.  Last year, they correctly picked all 68 teams in the field, and also correctly picked 61 teams on the correct seed line or just one seed off.

Teams In The Field as of Saturday Night, 11:59 PM EST

Team Bid Conf. W-L
Bucknell AUTO Patriot 25-9
Buffalo AUTO MAC 26-8
Charleston AUTO CAA 26-7
Gonzaga AUTO WCC 30-4
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13
Kansas AUTO B12 27-7
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9
Long Island AUTO NEC 18-16
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5
Marshall AUTO CUSA 24-10
MD-Baltimore Co. AUTO AE 24-10
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7
Montana AUTO BSky 26-7
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5
New Mexico St. AUTO WAC 28-5
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12
San Diego St. AUTO MWC 22-10
South Dakota St. AUTO Summit 28-6
Stephen F. Austin AUTO SLC 28-6
Texas Southern AUTO SWAC 15-19
UNC-Central AUTO MEAC 19-15
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7
Villanova AUTO BE 30-4
Virginia AUTO ACC 31-2
Wright St. AUTO Horizon 25-9

August 21, 2017

2017 Big 12 Conference Preview

The Big 12 Conference was supposed to be the first super league way back in the 1990’s when the best teams from the former very strong Southwest Conference merged with the Big 8 Conference. It was supposed to be superior to the Southeastern Conference, which had already expanded to 12 teams, and the Big Ten Conference, which had expanded to 11 teams. With Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado perenially among the top 10 in the nation, and with Texas A&M, Missouri, and Oklahoma State competing for a spot among the nation’s elite, the Big 12 looked poised to become the league that all others looked up to.

It didn’t last long. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M departed for the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, and SEC. The league added TCU and West Virginia to get back to 10 teams, but this conference is struggling to remain important. Rumors persist that schools still might bolt the league for one of the other four super conferences.

2017 promises to bring some interesting changes to the league without any teams bolting. There are three new coaches in the league. Matt Rhule takes over a Baylor team in transition, after Jim Grobe served as an emergency fill-in coach for a year. The Bears will play a combination of spread offense and the power offense Rhule used at Temple.

Tom Herman is the new head coach at Texas. Herman made Houston a semi-national power, even getting the Cougars into the Playoff hunt. Texas suffered three consecutive losing seasons under Charlie Strong, and the Longhorns have not been a national contender for eight seasons.

The biggest change of all comes in Norman, Oklahoma, where Bob Stoops made a decision this summer to retire. Lincoln Riley, the wonderboy of the offense is the new coach, and he inherits a Sooner squad that could easily average more than 45 points per game. Whether the defense can stop the top offenses that the Sooners will face will determine if OU can challenge for a playoff spot. A trip to the Giant Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, looms in week two,

The Big 12 Media and our PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings basically agree that this year’s Big 12 race will come down to the Bedlam game. Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma in that game this year, but unlike most years, it is not the last weekend on the schedule.

Here’s how the Media voted.

2016 Big 12 Conference Media Poll
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Oklahoma 19 303
2 Oklahoma St. 12 294
3 Kansas St. 1 231
4 Texas 0 213
5 TCU 0 202
6 West Virginia 0 183
7 Baylor 0 129
8 Texas Tech 0 85
9 Iowa St. 0 83
10 Kansas 0 37

Here are the PiRate, Mean, and Bias preseason ratings.

Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 123.8 121.8 124.8 123.5
Oklahoma St. 118.2 117.0 119.8 118.3
Kansas St. 113.9 113.4 114.3 113.9
Texas 112.2 113.0 112.4 112.6
T C U 111.4 108.6 111.1 110.3
West Virginia 107.7 108.8 107.5 108.0
Baylor 103.9 106.4 103.8 104.7
Iowa State 101.0 102.4 101.7 101.7
Texas Tech 101.3 101.0 100.1 100.8
Kansas 91.0 94.4 90.3 91.9
Big 12 Averages 108.4 108.7 108.6 108.6

And, here are out not-so-scientific preseason won-loss predictions and bowl projections.


Big 12 Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Oklahoma 8-1 11-2 Cotton
Oklahoma St. 8-1 11-2 Fiesta
Kansas St. 6-3 8-4 Camping World
Texas 6-3 8-4 Alamo
TCU 6-3 8-4 Texas
West Virginia 4-5 6-6 Cactus
Baylor 4-5 6-6 Liberty
Texas Tech 2-7 4-8  
Iowa St. 1-8 3-9  
Kansas 0-9 2-10  
No Big 12 team available for Heart of Dallas Bowl

Oklahoma to win the Big 12 Conference Championship Game in a rematch with Oklahoma State.  The Big 12’s top two teams in the standings will face off in Arlington, Texas, on December 2.

Trivia Answer: Not many people guessed at our trivia question, and none were correct. Here’s the question once again.
In 1918, Georgia Tech beat North Carolina State 118-0. For half a century no Division 1 team scored 100 points on another Division 1 team. In 1949 San Jose State beat New Mexico 103-0, but the Spartans would not become a major college participant until the following season, so this one doesn’t count. The last time a Division 1 team scored 100 points on another Division 1 team was in 1968, when current AAC West member Houston beat current AAC West member Tulsa 100-6.
A Houston wide receiver caught a 25-yard pass for a touchdown in that 100-6 game that made the score 93-6. He later went on to fame in the music business. A Tulsa lineman also became a famous celebrity on television and through his books.
Here are your three trivia questions:
1. Name the Houston Wide Receiver that would become a famous music celebrity.
2. Explain how this wide receiver once performed the National Anthem for a sporting event that was postponed soon after he performed, yet there was no rain, snow, or lightning.
3. Name the Tulsa lineman that became a famous TV celebrity and has used this game as a means to help advance his career.
The answers
1. Larry Gatlin
2. Gatlin and his brothers sang the National Anthem prior to the scheduled Game 3 of the 1989 World Series. Moments later, the great Earthquake hit the Bay, postponing the game for 10 days.
3. Dr. Phil

Coming Tomorrow. The Pac-12. Two teams have the talent to make it to Playoffville this year, but this league is rather balanced with some quality talent, and it could be difficult for any team to win enough games to get there.

March 22, 2017

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

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

Sweet 16

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


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


TV Schedule

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




March 18, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:02 pm

Sunday, March 18, 2017

Team Team Red White Blue
Louisville Michigan 4 3 6
Kentucky Wichita St. 1 1 8
Kansas Michigan St. 11 8 1
North Carolina Arkansas 14 10 8
Oregon Rhode Island 7 6 4
Baylor USC 17 9 8
Duke South Carolina 6 6 5
UCLA Cincinnati 1 1 -1

TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:10 PM CBS Louisville vs. Michigan
2:40 PM CBS Kentucky vs. Wichita St.
5:15 PM CBS Kansas vs. Michigan St.
6:10 PM TNT North Carolina vs. Arkansas
7:10 PM TBS Oregon vs. Rhode Island
7:45 PM truTV Baylor vs. USC
8:40 PM TNT Duke vs. South Carolina
9:40 PM TBS UCLA vs. Cincinnati

Morning & Afternoon: Swallow Return to Capistrano

Spring Equinox: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 6:29 AM EDT



January 16, 2017

The Best of the Best and Where They Might Be Vulnerable

Every year about this time, a group of anywhere from a half dozen to 30 college basketball teams rank as possible national title contenders.  In some years, only a handful of teams have reasonable title aspirations.  In some years, there are no clear cut favorites, and many teams could become Cinderella’s with the perfect fit for the glass slipper.

There has been a bit of a paradigm shift in college basketball the last two seasons.  It wasn’t much of a change, but lowering the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds has done a world of good for the game.  The 14% less time per possession has led to 8-12 more possessions per game for each team.  Teams that three years ago averaged 65 possessions per game are today pushing the ball to the tune of 80 possessions per game.

Contrary to what may have been predicted, offensive efficiency has not gone down.  It has gone up, because the layup and dunk off a fast break when the attacking team has a number’s advantage has led to more points per possession.  The offensive increase has once again made college basketball as exciting as it was in its hey days of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Also contrary to belief, the increased pace has not created a new UCLA dynasty in the men’s game like U Conn has done with the women’s side.  There are more than enough quality athletes throughout the nation and the world to make 100 teams competitive enough to win an NCAA Tournament game and 25 teams strong enough to reel off six consecutive wins after March 10.

We are not saying that the following 25 teams are the best 25 in the nation.  We have taken a sampling of the top teams from power conferences, the two or three current leaders from among the leagues just shy of being a power conference, as well as a couple of teams from mid-major conferences.

Today’s first look at the contenders will concentrate on showing you how the Four Factors and some of our own PiRate Ratings criteria can isolate where a contender might be vulnerable come NCAA Tournament time.  When it comes time for the teams to have one shining moment, the game changes a little.

In the past, teams that got to the Dance by beating opponents at the foul line sometimes floundered in the tournament, because officials let the players have a little more leeway before blowing their whistles.

Additionally, some teams that went 28-4 in the regular season but did so by running opponents out of the gym or holding onto the ball in a slower-paced offense found that quality opponents like they faced in the Dance did not succumb to their methods of operation.

Likewise, some full court pressure teams that entered the Dance with large scoring margin advantages (often padded by beating poor teams by 40 points), found that quality ball-control teams did not turn the ball over and allow these teams to score in transition.  These pressing teams had little half-court offense and quickly fell to teams that turned the ball over 10 times per game.

Today, we look at 25 chosen teams to tell you where they can exploit other quality teams, and also where they are vulnerable.  As you will see in this first look, there are no teams today that are not totally vulnerable in some way.  Thus, there is no clear-cut favorite to cut down the nets in Phoenix on April 3.  In point of fact, as we see it today, there are a couple dozen quality teams capable of making the Final Four, and yet all of these teams have an Achilles’ Heel and could lose before the Sweet 16 commences.

Before we get into the meat of this report, there could be a few readers not totally familiar with the Four Factors in basketball.  It is not rocket science.  The Four Factors (applies to both offense and defense) are:

  1. Field Goal Efficiency
  2. Turnover Rate
  3. Offensive Reboundin Rate
  4. Free Throw Rate

Field Goal Efficiency: [FGM+(3ptM * 0.5)]/FGA

Where FGM is field goals made; 3ptM is three-pointers made; and FGA is field goals attempted.  If your favorite team attempted 60 shots in a game and made 28 of these shots with 8 coming as three-pointers, then their FG Efficiency is [28+(8*0.5)]/60 which equals .533 or 53.3%

The difference between the offensive FG efficiency and the defensive FG efficiency is the FG efficiency margin.  This is by far the most important contributory part to winning in basketball, which is obvious, since the object of the game is to put the ball in the basket and score points, while limiting the opponents from putting the ball in the basket.

Turnover Rate:  TOV/100 Possessions figured as:  [TOV/(FGA+(FTA*0.475)+TOV]*100 and expressed as a percentage

This is a simple metric.  All it seeks to discover is how many turnovers does a team commit for every 1oo possessions.  There is a small adjustment in what qualifies as a possession for this metric as opposed to actual possessions.  Offensive rebounds are not factored into the possession counting here, as once a team secures an offensive rebound, they have already attempted a shot without committing a turnover.  The chance for a turnover after this is limited and can skew the real rate at which a team turns the ball over or forces their opponent to turn the ball over.

If your team committed 14 turnovers in a game in which they took 60 field goal attempts and 25 free throw attempts, their turnover rate for that game was: [14/(60+(25*.475)+14]*10o which comes to: 16.3%

Offensive Rebounding Rate: [OR/(OR+ Opponents’ DR)]*100, 

Where OR is offensive rebounds and DR is defensive rebounds.

If your team had 12 offensive rebounds, and their opponent had 32 defensive rebounds, your team’s offensive rebounding rate was: [12/(12+32)] * 100 which is 27.3%

Obviously, the compliment to this is defensive rebounding rate, which is the same formula applied to the opponents’ rebounding.

Free Throw Rate: FTM/100 Possessions or (FTM/[FGA+(FTA*0.475)-OR+TOV]) *100

There is a difference of opinion on how the expert analytics gurus figure this metric.  Some simple use FTA/FGA.  Some prefer FTM/FGA.  We have heard arguments in favor of both of these metrics, but we really liked a paper written by The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective’s John Ezekowitz, who argued for the metric we chose above in his February 21, 2011, paper entitled Re-examining The Four Factors: The Case For Free Throws Made Per 100 Possessions.

Putting It All Together

The key to the four factors is finding an algorithm in which the results of each team can be turned into some form of a rating or to produce a spread for a game between teams.  What good is it to know that Team A has X, Y, Z, and W rates in the four factors, and their opponent has a little better X and Z, and weaker Y and W rates.  So, where does that get us?  Only when the Four Factors can be turned into a rating of some sort is the data useful to the fan.

The PiRates tried for a few years to come up with an accurate rating from the Four Factors.  Our original mistake was assuming the different factors would not affect the college game any different than it does the NBA, where the numbers were determined to be 40% FG efficiency, 25% turnover rate, 20% offensive rebounding rate, and 15% free throw rate.

This did not make for an accurate rating when applied to college teams and uses to compare them in a point spread sort of way.  Whereas the NBA teams basically play equal schedules in terms of strengths of opponents (once enough games had been played), this cannot be said of the college game, where one team’s schedule could be as much as 20 points per game stronger than another team’s schedule.  Also, in the NBA, every team plays 41 home games and 41 road games.  The top college teams might schedule 19 home games, 3 neutral games, and just 9 road games.

We also realized that not all turnovers are the same.  A steal is worth more than any other type of turnover, because the ball remains live, and the defense frequently finds itself with a 2 on 1 or 3 on 2 fast break opportunity following a high percentage of their steals.  In the college game, more full court pressure can lead to steals that produce a lot of easy baskets, whereas in the NBA, this is a rare occurrence.

After much trial and error, we came up with three separate algorithms that when back-tested in past seasons produced acceptable predictive results.

Now, we can take a look at these 25 teams and make some assumptions based on their four factors data to date.  We can add some PiRate Rating data (like our unique R+T formula) to polish our beliefs.

The numbers you see below are our Blue Rating Scores for each of the Four Factors plus the Strength of Schedule score, the R+T rating, and the teams rating in true road and neutral games (neutral games when a team plays in another gym in their area against an out of town team does not count–like Kansas playing a Big East team in Kansas City).


Cincinnati: FG 6.4  TO 0.8  OR 0.6  FT 0.2  SOS 56.1  R+T 18.4 Rd W-L 4-2

The Bearcats do not excel in any one factor, but they are better than average in all factors.  Their SOS is good but not great, and their R+T rating is very good.  They will benefit from having extra scoring opportunities.  Cinti will run into trouble against big muscle teams from the power conferences, and they will struggle against teams that play choking man to man defense.  However, this team has enough talent to make it to the second weekend of the Big Dance.


Virginia: FG 12.0   TO 4.7   OR 4.3   FT -1.2   SOS 59.6   R+T 16.2   Rd W-L 6-1

The Cavaliers are going to be a tough out for any opponent in the NCAA Tournament.  Their style of defense will destroy teams that cannot shoot from the perimeter, and the Cavs will also exploit teams that do not have excellent passers.  To beat UVa, you must be able to pass the ball quick enough from the strong side to the weak side and then penetrate their interior defense for either an open look inside or a pass to a wide open three-point shooter.  Virginia will not beat itself.  Wisconsin and Arizona could be trouble for the Cavs, whereas Virginia could be a tough out for a team like Florida.

North Carolina: FG 6.4  TO 3.7   OR 17.4   FT 7.7   SOS 58.9   R+T 33.6   Rd W-L 7-3

The Tar Heels have the look of a Final Four team.  However, they have some small vulnerabilities.  First, they are not the best shooting team in Chapel Hill history, in fact far from it.  They do make up for this by being the best offensive rebounding team in college basketball.  They are not that shabby in the turnover department either, and thus, they have the best R+T rating in many years.  By the time the season moves into March, UNC will either be unbeatable and peaking at the right time or a major disappointment due to fatigue and injuries.  This is one team we cannot see losing prior to the Sweet 16, as they will be a 1 or 2 seed and no 15 or 16 seed can compete with them, with only a slim chance that a 7 or 8 seed can keep a game within single digits.

The team that beats UNC will be the team that can muscle their way under the basket and make the rebounding part of the equation only a minor Tar Heel victory.  Said team will also have to force the Heels into a few more turnovers than normal and produce some quick points off those turnovers.  West Virginia and Kentucky are the teams that will give UNC fits, while a great shooting team like UCLA or Gonzaga will find that they must do more than shoot lights out to beat this team.

Florida St.: FG 11.2   TO 2.8   OR 2.5   FT 2.4   SOS 58.6   R+T 15.6   Rd W-L 4-2

The Seminoles are going to be a tough match-up for teams outside the ACC that have never played against them.  Their style of play will lead to large victories in the early rounds of the tournament, but once FSU faces stiff competition, their inconsistent style of play will hurt their chances.  There will be many teams with a resume similar to theirs from amongst the power leagues.  FSU will be more like a poor man’s Kentucky.  They might win by 20-30 in the opening game, and they might make it to the Sweet 16 by way of a double digit win in their next game, but once they get to the Sweet 16, the Seminoles should be a quick out against a quality opponent like Villanova, Kansas, or Oregon.

Louisville: FG 6.5   TO 4.8  OR 7.9   FT 1.7   SOS 62.9   R+T 20.3   Rd W-L 5-2

Don’t dismiss this edition of Cardinals.  Rick Pitino knows how to coach in March, and there is enough talent at the Yum Center to guide UL to the Final Four.  The Cards have played a tough schedule to date and pulling off numbers like their current Four Factors against the opposition they have faced is a sign of a top 10 team.  In most years, these numbers would be the best in the nation, and even in a year where there are many great teams, these numbers stick out as among the best.

To beat the Cards, it is going to take a team that can shut off their inside game and force UL to beat them from the perimeter.  Not many teams can do this, but there are some potential teams out there that can send the Cards home, such as Virginia from their own league, Oregon, and Purdue.

Notre Dame: FG 8.5   TO 4.0   OR 0.2   FT 3.8   SOS 56.3   R+T 11.2   Rd W-L 5-2

The Fighting Irish have been consistently good for several years but with also a consistent liability.  Notre Dame has not been a dominant rebounding team since Digger Phelps retired.  While, the Irish have numbers strong enough to indicate they are Sweet 16 worthy, they do not have the dominating inside game that will get them to Phoenix.  A host of quality teams are out there that can hit the glass and limit ND to one shot per possession, and the Irish are bound to face one of them if they make it to the Sweet 16.  Baylor, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Kentucky could send Mike Brey’s bunch home to Indiana.  On the other hand, Notre Dame could be a tough opponent for UCLA, Villanova, or Maryland.

Big 12

West Virginia: FG 7.2    TO 16.0   OR 5.8   FT 5.1   SOS 53.7   R+T 27.2   Rd W-L 5-2

The jury is still out on this team, even though our PiRate Blue metrics say that Coach Bob Huggins has the currently top team in the land.  Huggie Bear’s Mountaineers have to prove they can sustain these fat metric ratings against the top teams.  WVU’s SOS is rather low for a Power Conference team, and they have yet to face Kansas or any tough team on enemy hardwood.  Their toughest road game to date came against Texas Tech, and they flunked that exam.

If WVU can keep their TO rate at astronomically high numbers and also maintain their better than average rebound rate, they are capable of making it to Phoenix.  Whereas many pressing teams eventually run into a team that does not fret the pressure and actually exploits it for points, WVU is more than your typical on the line/up the line gimmick defense.  This team can win by dominating on the glass, getting the ball inside for easy baskets, hitting the three, and playing strong half-court defense.  Once again, until they play Kansas a couple times, Kansas State on the road, as well as road trips to Iowa State and Baylor, it is too early to make a logical call on this team.

Baylor: FG 11.1   TO -0.2   OR 9.5   FT 8.1   SOS 61.8   R+T 20.5   Rd W-L 6-1


Scott Drew has been to the Elite 8 before, and this Baylor team looks like his next Elite 8 club.  Until the Bears face a team that can force the issue and pressure the ball, they look like a favorite to advance in each round.  As West Virginia showed, Baylor is not equipped to handle crazy pressure.  Other teams that might exploit this weakness include Virginia, Butler, Kentucky, and Florida.  And, if a mid-major like UNC-Wilmington or Middle Tennessee meets the Bears in the round of 32, Baylor will have to bring their A-game to avoid a major upset loss.

Kansas: FG 11.2   TO 1.7   OR 6.2  FT 0.1   SOS 59.1   R+T 16.4   Rd W-L  4-1

The Jayhawks have been flying under the radar if that is possible, but now that KU has ascended to the top of the charts, they will be on the center stage every game they occupy the penthouse.  Bill Self always has a contender in Lawrence, so this should come as no surprise when we say that the Jayhawks have the right stuff to make it all the way to the Final Four.  They can shoot the ball with the best of them, and they can defend the ball with the best of them.  They are not world-beaters anywhere else, but their other metrics are quite strong.  And, they have produced these numbers against a very good schedule.  KU has another big bonus, something they had when they won the title back in 1988.  With a star like Frank Mason III, teams will have to concentrate and dedicate another defender to stop this star.  That might work against some teams, but KU has five or six other players that can carry the team, so it is impossible to really double up on Mason.  If you are old enough to remember 1988, this reminds us of Danny Manning.

Big East

Villanova: FG 12.1   TO 1.6   OR 4.1    FT 9.6   SOS 61.1    R+T 16.1    Rd W-L 8-1

The Wildcats have proven so far this year to be good enough to repeat as National Champions, and in point of fact, at this point in the season compared to last year, they are a better team.  The rub is that so are about 30 other dominating teams.  VU has been putting teams away by getting their regulars into foul trouble from making quick moves to the basket.  Unlike other teams with very high FT rates, they are less likely to suffer from how the game is called differently in the Big Dance, because officials will blow their whistles on drives to the basket that produce contact.

Considering ‘Nova has put up these gaudy numbers against A+ competition, and they have an 8-1 record away from Philly, they are more than capable of making it back to Phoenix.  But, as Alabama just found out in football, getting back to the title game and winning it, are in different universes.  Villanova wants no part of North Carolina in a rematch.

Creighton: FG 12.5   TO 2.7   OR -3.4   FT 2.7    SOS 58.8   R+T 7.3    Rd W-L 7-0

Every year, one or two highly-rated teams gets sent home from the Dance early by a mid-major team that can exploit the power team’s weakness.  Creighton has the resume of a power team that could be susceptible to an early round loss.  Their negative rebounding rate might be covered up by other assets during the regular season, but come tournament time, just about every opponent they might face will be able to exploit this poor metric.  If their TO rate was really good, they could overcome this liability, but this is not the case, as the Blue Jays are just average or a little below in this department as well.  Their R+T rating is too low to make it to the Elite 8, and the Sweet 16 is their ceiling.  If they make it to the Sweet 16, teams like Baylor, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Kentucky can beat them by double digits.

Butler: FG 6.5   TO 5.1   OR 0.1   FT 2.1   SOS 61.3  R+T 10.0   Rd W-L 5-3

When Butler made back-to-back appearances in the National Championship Game, their Four Factors numbers were consistently good but not outstanding in any category.  This Butler team has somewhat inconsistent numbers compared to those Bulldog teams, but at the same time, they are stronger in the turnover rates and have played a much tougher schedule to date than those teams that won five tournament games.

Butler is probably a little too inconsistent this year to win five games and make it to the championship.  They might be better equipped to beat a North Carolina or Kansas than the 2010 and 2011 teams, but this Bulldog edition could easily stub its toe right out of the gates and not get a chance to upset teams like the 2010 and 2011 teams did (Syracuse, Kansas State, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Florida).

Big Ten

The Big Ten has been able to make it to the Final Four multiple times in recent years, but no league team has cut down the nets since Michigan State in 2000 (Maryland was in the ACC when they won in 2002).  There are a couple teams this year capable of giving it a good try.

Wisconsin: FG 8.9  TO 3.9  OR 15.9   FT 2.6    SOS 52.7  R+T 28.8   Rd W-L 4-3

The Badgers have played a rather weak schedule to date, and that could send their current numbers much lower once the better Big Ten opponents have been faced away from Madison.  With Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, and Nigel Hayes, the Badgers have a trio of quality players good enough to carry them to the Final Four.  In past years, overall team speed was an issue with this team, but the Badgers have quickness, finesse, and power this year.  UW has been much, much better at home than away from home, and a lot of teams that go 18-0 at home and 9-6 away from home leave the Dance early.  A quality team that is headed to the Elite 8 usually wins 70% or more of its games away from home, and UW is just 4-3 at this point.  Of course, those three losses came to Creighton, North Carolina, and Purdue.  Recent road wins against Marquette and Indiana could be an indication that UW is on the verge of breaking out and becoming a serious contender.

Maryland: FG 6.1  TO 0.5   OR 3.4  FT 7.5  SOS 56.4   R+T 8.8  Rd W-L 6-0

An aside: Back in the days when only one team per conference went to the NCAA Tournament, Maryland had a team that was good enough to win the national championship but was just a couple points away from getting a chance to play in it.  The 1974 Terrapins went 23-5.  Their five losses represent the best five-loss team in history.  Loss number one came at the hands of #1 UCLA in Pauley Pavillion to open the season (Bruins had won more than 70 consecutive games), in a game in which the officiating was very generous to the Bruins and yet UM lost by just one point and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer.  Loss number two came at North Carolina State, who had won 35 of its previous 36 games (lone loss to UCLA) and who would be the eventual national champs.  This loss was a six-point loss, and the Terps led this game into the second half before a Wolf Pack rally won it for the home team.  Loss number three came on the road against #4 North Carolina, yet another contest where UM had a chance to win until late in the second half.  The Terps only home loss came against NC State, who by now would not lose again until the following season.  This loss to the Pack was another close affair with UM losing by six after leading in the second half.  You can probably guess where loss number five came.  Once again, NC State topped UM in the ACC Championship Game in what is probably the best every ACC Title game.  State won by a score of 103-100 in overtime.  Maryland’s 23 wins were mostly lopsided affairs.  Even the two other contests against North Carolina were not close, as the Terps won by 11 in College Park and by 20 in Greensboro in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

What has that got to do with this year’s Terp team?  Nothing, except this year’s UM team will be in the Big Dance even if they do not win the Big Ten Tournament or the regular season title.  However, this year’s UM team is primed to be an early round upset loser, because it is nowhere near as talented as that 1974 team that featured John Lucas, Tom McMillen, and Len Elmore.  That UM team out-shot quality opposition by 11%, out-rebounded them by 11 per game, and outscored them by 17 points per game.

Purdue: FG 10.1  TO -0.7  OR 10.5  FT 8.3   SOS 55.9  R+T 19.7   Rd W-L 5-2

We could give another history lesson on this Big Ten team.  Purdue has been to the Final Four twice before, but both times, it was with teams that played an entirely different style of basketball from this team and from all the teams during the Gene Keady era.

We have a lot of respect for Coach Keady and his successful disciples, including current Boilermaker coach Matt Painter.  However, history has not been kind to the “Keady system” in NCAA Tournament history.  Purdue never made it to the Final Four with all the highly-ranked teams of the 1980’s and 1990’s and seldom made it past the second game.  Case in point, last year, the Boilermakers left the Dance immediately, losing to Arkansas-Little Rock in their first game.

Why is it that Purdue has under-performed so consistently for so many years?  Coach Keady and his disciples strongly advocate an intelligent offensive half-court set and tough man-to-man defense to prevent good shots.  That works well in the regular season, as teams like this routinely play smart ball and beat all the teams they are supposed to beat, and even upset some better teams.  But, when you get into the second week of March, the opposition is usually as good as you at shooting and preventing good shots.  Games are more frequently decided by which team gets more opportunities to shoot.  Thus rebounding and turnover margin play significantly more important roles than they do in the regular season.  Purdue has not been a consistently tough team on the boards, and they do not pressure the passing lanes.

This year’s Boilermaker squad is one of the best rebounding teams in Mackey Arena in a long time, but once again, PU is stinking it up in the turnover rate metric.  The rebounding strength could get Painter’s squad past the first game and maybe even into the Sweet 16, but when the Boilermakers run into a team like Butler, Kentucky, or Florida, or even a Mid-major like UNC-Wilmington or Middle Tennessee, they are going to have a tough time advancing.  And, should they find West Virginia in their bracket…..


UCLA: FG 14.2   TO 0.3   OR -1.0   FT 3.2   SOS 53.4   R+T 10.0   Rd W-L 8-1

This might be the most exciting team to watch, but this UCLA team suffers from the same issues that Purdue suffers from as stated above.  When the Bruins are hot, they can put any team away, and their win at Kentucky showed this.  However, they will run into defenses that can slow them down when they get to March, and the Bruins do not have what it takes to get additional scoring chances through rebounding and turnover margin.  Additionally, the Bruins have played a lot of cupcakes this year, and a lot of their shooting stats have been aided by playing weak defensive teams.  Until they are ousted thought, Lonzo Ball and company promise to give the fan his or her money’s worth.

Oregon: FG 10.2   TO 3.0   OR 7.5   FT 6.5   SOS 57.1   R+T 19.5   Rd W-L 5-2

The Ducks could be a contender for the Final Four.  After a slow start, Oregon has now won 14 consecutive games and looks like the team the pundits expected they would be this season.  The Ducks have a really tough closing stretch in the regular season with seven consecutive tough games between February 4 and 25.  Included in this slate is a three-game stretch against Arizona, UCLA, and USC, with the latter two on the road.  If Oregon can come through this three-week stretch without injuries or undue fatigue, this team can repeat its performance of last year and maybe make it one round past what it did last year.  That would mean they make it to Phoenix.

Arizona: FG  8.3  TO 0.6   OR 7.3   FT 10.4   SOS 58.1   R+T 20.2   Rd W-L 5-2

At first glance, Arizona’s numbers don’t look much different than Oregon’s above.  Look a little closer.  This is a team that relies a bit too much on free throw rate and is vulnerable against a team that can pressure the ball and force turnovers.  Arizona wants no part of West Virginia, but they could fall prey to a lesser pressure team or a team that turns the ball over less than 10 times a game like Virginia.  In their loss to Gonzaga, the Wildcats turned the ball over nine times in the first half and didn’t shoot well, and Gonzaga pulled out to a double digit lead.  Arizona did get to the foul line several times, but they missed too many foul shots to get back in the game.  This is likely to happen to them in an NCAA Sweet 16 game if UA makes it that far.


Kentucky: FG  9.1  TO 6.7   OR 7.4   FT 4.7   SOS 61.1   R+T 22.3   Rd W-L 6-1

This is always a tough team to figure out.  Annually, John Calipari recruits the top talent in the nation to Lexington, and Kentucky has better talent than every team on its schedule.  However, that talent is almost always freshmen, and even five McDonald’s All-Americans as college freshmen are bound to play a bit inconsistently.  On any given night, these future NBA stars are liable to blow out an average team by 30 to 40 points.  On any given night, these future NBA stars are liable to fiddle around and allow a mediocre team to stay in contention.

In Kentucky’s favor, these freshmen will have 33 to 35 games of experience by the time the NCAA Tournament begins, and the Wildcats will have a 1 or 2 seed, able to get to the Sweet 16 just by showing up.  Once at the Sweet 16, this team will have the talent and tools to keep winning, but they will still be just raw enough to lay an egg and go home with a disappointing loss.

It will take a muscle team to beat Kentucky, one that can throw its weight around on the glass, make their fouls count more like unnecessary roughness penalties in football, and has the ability to outscore the Wildcats from behind the arc.

Florida: FG 3.1  TO 6.6  OR 1.7   FT 8.9   SOS 63.0   R+T 11.4   Rd W-L 8-3

Here is a really interesting team.  At first glance, this Florida team looks like many of the Florida teams under former coach Billy Donovan.  The Gators’ ball-hawking defense tends to lead to more scoring opportunities for the orange and blue than for their opponents.  However, the really good Gator teams under Donovan played incredible half-court defense.  This Gator team is a bit weak defending inside, and that will be their downfall in March.  The Gators are adequate but not great shooting the ball, and when they don’t force a turnover, they are not great at stopping the ball from going through the opponents’ basket.

One thing in UF’s favor is their schedule has prepared them to play top-flight teams.  Outside of the league Florida played Seton Hall, Miami, Gonzaga, Florida State, and Duke.

South Carolina: FG 7.8   TO 4.9   OR 4.6   FT -5.4   SOS 56.2   R+T 13.9   Rd W-L 4-2

You have to look at South Carolina’s statistics a bit differently than just viewing their numbers.  This is a tale of two teams.  There is the USC team that is 11-0 when its best player, Sindarius Thornwell has been healthy enough to play, and there is the USC team that is 3-3 when Thornwell has not played.

The bad news for SEC teams is that Thornwell is close to 100% well again, and the Gamecocks are 4-0 in the league because of it.  A healthy Thornwell is a threat to record a triple double or score 20 points and pull down a dozen boards, while playing exemplary defense.

If the Gamecocks stay healthy this year, they look like a near lock to make the Dance, and once they get there, we have faith in Coach Frank Martin that they will play multiple games.  USC’s defense is tournament worthy, and they have just enough offense to pull away in the second half.  Their major liability is at the foul line, where they commit more than an average number of fouls.  However, this stat suffered considerably during Thornwell’s absence.  Since his return, the Gamecocks have a much better showing.

The Rest

Gonzaga: FG 15.6  TO 1.6   OR  2.6  FT 5.6   SOS 55.9  R+T 16.9   Rd W-L 7-0

Gonzaga faces a similar task that Wichita State faced in 2014, when they went 34-0 in the regular season.  The Bulldogs are the last undefeated team standing at 17-0, and the way they dominated St. Mary’s Saturday night, many sports professionals are calling for an undefeated regular season.  They still have to go to St. Mary’s, and they have to play at BYU, so they could still lose one or two regular season games this year.

Gonzaga has been a number one seed before as well as the top-ranked team in the nation, and things did not go all that well for the Bulldogs.  In 2013, the Zags entered NCAA Tournament play with a 31-2 record.  They almost became the first number one seed to lose to a 16-seed, when they had to hold on to narrowly edge Southern University in the Round of 64.  Then, GU fell in the Round of 32 to Wichita State, and the Shockers rolled to the Final Four from there.

Might things be different this year for Mark Few’s squad?  Gonzaga looks a lot like UCLA.  They are not quite as good shooting the ball, but they are a tad better defending the ball.  They are considerably better on the boards, but by the time the Dance begins to tap, their strength of schedule will have dropped to a point where they may not be ready to face a quality team in the Sweet 16.  The Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga team that made it to the Elite 8 was more equipped for the tournament than this year’s squad, so we believe Gonzaga will fall in the Sweet 16 round.

Nevada: FG 5.4   TO -1.8   OR 3.5   FT 9.8   SOS 52.3   R+T 8.0   Rd W-L 8-3

If you consider Gonzaga not to be a mid-major, then Nevada is the best non Power Conference team in the West this year, but the Wolfpack are a paper tiger.  They do not have the numbers to be a serious contender like some former Mountain West Conference teams in the past.  Their low R+T number coming from a below average schedule strength means Nevada is likely to exit the Dance quickly and by double digits.  We wanted to include them here today so you can compare them to the two mid-majors most likely to advance to the second weekend this year.

UNC-Wilmington: FG 3.8   TO 7.1   OR 3.7   FT -2.0  SOS 51.2   R+T 12.9  Rd W-L 9-2

UNCW gave Duke a big scare last year in the Round of 64, and this year’s team is better, capable of making a run to the Sweet 16.  Coach Kevin Keatts is a Rick Pitino disciple, and we would not be shocked to see Keatts taking over a big time program sooner rather than later.  He has all the tools to be a star on the big stage, and his team plays like it deserves a shot on basketball’s Broadway.

UNCW’s biggest liability is their negative FT rate.  This has come about because the Seahawks commit a lot of fouls with their pressure defense.  We tend to believe that some of this has been because they have played a lot of games on the road, where the officials whistled them for more fouls than they would have received had they been at home.  When the NCAA Tournament begins, a lot of the plays in which they might have been whistled for a foul in the regular season will no longer draw a foul call.

UNCW is the poor man’s West Virginia, and they could easily be this year’s Stephen F. Austin.  Beware if your favorite big time program makes the Tournament and they draw this team, and your team is like Purdue, Baylor, UCLA, Arizona, or Creighton.  The Seahawk press can produce a quick burst of points and put your team behind the eight ball.

Middle Tennessee: FG 3.7  TO 5.0  OR 7.4  FT -2.5  SOS 56.3  R+T 17.5  Rd W-L 8-1

If you like UNCW’s chances, then you’ll love Middle Tennessee’s chances this year.  This is the CUSA team that upset Michigan State in last year’s tournament, and this year’s Blue Raider squad is maybe 10 points better than last year’s group.  Middle Tennessee actually played UNCW over the Thanksgiving holiday and beat the Seahawks by five.  The Blue Raiders went on the road to Ole Miss and destroyed the Rebels in the first half with a 29-point halftime lead before coasting to a 15-point win.  They repeated the performance against SEC neighbor Vanderbilt winning by 23 and never being challenged.

The Blue Raiders could have 30 wins when the NCAA Tournament begins, and it would not surprise us if they receive a seed as high as 9 or 10.  Of course, this would mean they would play a 1 or 2 seed in the Round of 32 should they win their first game.  The Blue Raiders’ fans should root for your team to draw a team like Purdue, Notre Dame, Creighton, Butler, or Maryland in the first game and not someone like West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Oregon, or Kentucky.  Of course, these teams are most likely to be encountered after the opening game, which means the Blue Raiders should be a hot pick in the Round of 64.

We did not include the 25 best teams in this presentation.  There are many other quality teams like Indiana, Duke, Miami, TCU, Xavier, Akron, Illinois State, California, Utah, USC, and New Mexico State.

We hope you enjoyed this piece and learned a little about how the Four Factors has been part of the new analytical study of basketball.

Coming Friday: We take our next stab at the Field of 68, and if we can get our gurus to send us the information in time, we will debut our annual Bracketology Guru report.  Shout out to the Gurus that have not done so–please return the email we sent you to tell us if you plan to participate this year.  If we do not have enough information to debut our guru composite, we will attempt to select 68 teams ourselves.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
10. Virginia

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

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.

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

August 21, 2016

2016 Big 12 Conference Football Preview

The Big 12 has been teetering on the brink of unplanned obsolescence for the last couple of years. As the only Power 5 Conference without a postseason Conference Championship Game, the league powers have been a little paranoid that other predators from the West Coast, the Deep South, and the Upper Midwest, might pillage them and leave them without a job. The Pac-12 is anxious to change its name to the Pac-16. The SEC and Big Ten realize that it is easier to work with 16 rather than 14 teams. The ACC has 15 in all sports except football, but even in football, Notre Dame plays basically five conference games per year.

What does a league do with just 10 members? It cannot play a conference title game until it has 12. Obviously, the league must expand by two to six teams, or else, their members will be searching for greener futures and high payouts.

In the meantime, the Big 12 continues to provide some of the most exciting football on the planet. The quasi-renegade league provides the alternative to the SEC’s and Big Ten’s blood and guts play, just like the old American Football League of the 1960’s sold itself as the more entertaining league to the NFL. The AFL had all the razzle dazzle stars like Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Daryle Lamonica, John Hadl, Cookie Gilchrist, Lance Alworth, and others, while the NFL was all about bruising fullbacks running between the tackles and halfbacks running power sweeps behind pulling guards.

The Big 12 is the pass-happy league with wide open offenses, blitzing and gambling defenses, and no game secure even if a team has scored over 50 points. Who can forget the day in 2014 when undefeated TCU led undefeated Baylor by 18 points in the fourth quarter and lost 61-58? You could have watched Alabama beat Arkansas 14-13 that day. Michigan beat Penn State 18-13.

2016 promises to be an interesting season in the Southwest. Oklahoma represented the league in the NCAA Playoffs, after two 11-1 teams failed to earn a spot the year before. The Sooners quickly bowed out in a semifinal loss to Clemson, but OU is loaded this season and in contention for the top overall spot.

The Sooners will not receive a free pass to the playoffs this year. Their schedule is tricky with a pre-conference matchups with Houston at NRG Stadium to start the season and Ohio State on September 17. Then following a bye week, OU has a road game with TCU, and the annual Red River Shootout with Texas the following Saturday. If Coach Bob Stoops can guide his squad to a 5-0 start, a 7-0 finish is very likely.

A group of four teams figure to be the main challengers to the Sooners, or in a probable case, a quartet fighting for a Sugar Bowl berth as the league runnerup. Oklahoma State, TCU, and Baylor figure to be on most pundits’ lists, but the PiRates believe that Coach Charlie Strong will bring the Texas Longhorns back to near the top of the standings this year and even give Oklahoma a run for its money. If he doesn’t, the UT alumni may be advertising for a new coach in 2017.

For the Longhorns, the season kicks off with a Sunday tilt at home against Notre Dame, and a win in the opener could give the burnt orange a shot in the arm. A road game against Oklahoma State precedes the fight with the Sooners at the Texas State Fair the following week, and pulling off back-to-back wins over their rivals to the north is most unlikely. Thus, we believe that Texas can win 10 games and vie for the Sugar Bowl bid, but they cannot win 11 or 12 and contend for a playoff spot.

TCU begins the season ranked ahead of Texas in our ratings and actually within shouting distance of Oklahoma, but the Horned Frogs have to rebuild on offense due to heavy losses, including their star quarterback, running back, and wideout. The defense is still solid, but they may be on the field for too many plays in crucial games. Road games at Baylor and Texas could eliminate any gain made by possibly upsetting Oklahoma ar Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Oklahoma State is flying a little under the radar to begin the season. The Cowboys were 10-0 last year, before losing to Baylor, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss to end the year at 10-3. Their offense could top 42 points per game this year with experience and depth returning, while the defense should be on par with last year’s defense. OSU wins games by outscoring opponents, so scores like 45-31 are frequent happenings, and this team can win double digit games again while giving up 30+ points per game.

Baylor faced a minor rebuilding project heading into this season, but off the field events have wounded the Bears enough to where second half of the season depth issues could cause a minor fold. We do not expect BU to contend for the Big 12 crown, and we would not be shocked if the losses began to mount beginning with a trip to Austin on October 29.

Kansas State, West Virginia, and Texas Tech represent the next wave. In most years, KSU plays one of the softest non-conference slates, guaranteeing themselves of three wins before taking the field, and thus needing just a 3-6 conference mark to earn a bowl bid. However, the Wildcats will begin the season 0-1 with a Friday night game at the Farm against Stanford. The likely 3-6 conference record will leave the guys from the Little Apple home for the holidays.

Texas Tech faces a similar situation. The Red Raiders are looking at 3-6 or even 2-7 in league play, as they must play Kansas State and Iowa State on the road. Playing at Arizona State in September could prevent TTU from going bowling as well.

West Virginia may actually be a tad weaker than the previous two teams, but the Mountaineers have the favorable schedule that could give them the three wins they need to pair with a 3-6 conference mark and finish 6-6.

Iowa State is not ready to compete for bowl eligibility this year, but the Cyclones are moving upwards slowly. They could even sneak into a tie for 7th if the ball bounces their way, but they should win more than one conference game this year.

Kansas still has basketball season to await. The Jayhawks are likely destined for yet another last place finish, but this year KU should at least win a game after finishing 0-12 in 2015. The season opener with Rhode Island is the only for sure winnable game, but the Jayhawks might be confident enough to pull off the mild upset over Ohio the following week. It looks like another 0-9 league mark for the Jayhawks, but then by the time they host Texas on November 19, all will be okay with the Rock Chalkers at Allen Fieldhouse.

Here is how the Big 12 Media predicted the 2016 order of finish.

2016 Big 12 Conference Media Poll
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Oklahoma 24 258
2 TCU 2 222
3 Oklahoma St. 0 202
4 Baylor 0 156
5 Texas 0 151
6 Texas Tech 0 141
7 West Virginia 0 126
8 Kansas St. 0 88
9 Iowa St. 0 59
10 Kansas 0 27

Here are the initial 2016 PiRate Ratings for the league.

Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 125.6 122.1 125.6 124.4
Oklahoma St. 117.5 118.8 117.5 117.9
Texas 114.4 118.0 114.4 115.6
TCU 113.3 115.6 113.2 114.0
Baylor 109.4 109.7 110.6 109.9
West Virginia 106.6 106.1 106.0 106.2
Kansas St. 103.1 107.5 102.5 104.4
Texas Tech 104.9 102.3 102.7 103.3
Iowa St. 99.8 99.2 98.7 99.2
Kansas 88.3 96.1 85.9 90.1

The PiRate Ratings are meant to be used only to predict the outcomes of the next week of games, and are not best used to predict beyond that point. Because we use algorithms that include automatic adjustments by each team based on depth and experience, two different teams can win by the exact score we predict, and their new ratings might change differently.

Thus, using our ratings to predict won-loss records and bowl projections is a bit comical, but then we all need some laughs every now and then. So, laugh away at our projected standings and bowls, and notice that this league will not provide the needed number to fill all of its obligations, thus benefiting other leagues like the Big Ten and Pac-12, who both may have extra bowl eligible teams this year.

Big 12 Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Oklahoma 9-0 12-0 Playoffs/Fiesta
Oklahoma St. 7-2 10-2 Alamo
Texas 7-2 10-2 Sugar
TCU 6-3 9-3 Russell Athletic
Baylor 6-3 9-3 Texas
West Virginia 3-6 6-6 Liberty
Kansas St. 3-6 5-7  
Texas Tech 2-7 4-8  
Iowa St. 2-7 4-8  
Kansas 0-9 2-10

Coming Monday, August 22: The Pac-12 Conference with wide open races in both divisions.  Is there a surprise team ready to emerge as the new league beast, or is it more of the same old fare?

November 8, 2015

College Football Preview: November 10-14, 2015

The Week That Was–The Big Skakedown
It started last Tuesday with Northern Illinois knocking off unbeaten Toledo. Memphis, Michigan State, TCU, and LSU followed suit, and now it’s down to Clemson, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Ohio State, and Iowa. Five unbeaten teams remain, but at least two of the quintet must lose, because Ohio State and Iowa would meet in the Big Ten Championship Game if they won out, and Baylor and Oklahoma State must play in the regular season.

Does this mean that #1 Clemson’s path is clear and easy? No, because the Tigers may not be the best team in the ACC at the present time. North Carolina had a bump in the road in the opening week of the season, blowing a lead and losing to South Carolina to open the season. Since then, the Tar Heels have dominated on both sides of the ball. The most recent win, a blowout of rival Duke, moves UNC into the driver’s seat in the Coastal Division.

The schedule does not have as many great games this week, but there are many important ones. Not only are conference races still up for grabs, there are about 20 teams competing for the final six to eight bowl bids. As we believed last week, we continue to believe this week that only 79 teams will reach bowl eligibility. That means one 5-7 team will back into a bowl game. The rule states that if it comes down to 5-7 teams, the tiebreaker is the last football APR (academic progress rate) score. In case you were wondering, Nebraska is number one in line with a 985 score, followed by Vanderbilt (983), Army (981), Rutgers (980), Boston College (980), Georgia Tech (978), Virginia Tech (977), Washington (977), and Kansas St. (976) (teams already bowl eligible were not included in the APR rankings.)

Let’s break the conference races down and show you just how dysfunctional the race to the Playoffs could be.

Power Five Conferences

Atlantic Coast
Clemson sits pretty at 6-0/9-0 with little competition in their site in the regular season. However, North Carolina looks to be headed to an 8-0 finish. We believe that the Tar Heels have a better than 50-50 chance of beating Clemson and securing the automatic New Year’s Six Bowl Bid.

Notre Dame is included in the ACC write-up, since the Irish can receive an ACC bowl bid and even jump over an ACC team with one additional win. The Irish must close out the season at Stanford, and as of now, we believe the Cardinal will win a close one. At 10-2, Notre Dame would jump over everybody else in the ACC that isn’t automatically in a NY6 Bowl.

Florida State will look much better if the Seminoles edge Florida in three weeks, while Duke and Pittsburgh will decide who rates ahead of the other when they face off in Durham this week.

Miami, North Carolina State, and Louisville will go somewhere, while Virginia Tech still has a strong chance of getting a sixth win. Syracuse, Wake Forest, Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Virginia are out for now.

Big Ten
Ohio State and Iowa look like they are headed to an epic 12-0 vs. 12-0 battle in the Big Ten Championship Game, but those sneaky PiRates believe there is going to be a little fly in the Buckeye ointment. All season long, we have been looking at the upstart rival up north. Michigan may be repeating history from 1969. If you didn’t read our analogy from October, we compared this season to 1969, when defending national champion Ohio State entered the final game undefeated and ranked number one, while Michigan came into the game with two losses, one to a conference champion from another power conference, and one to Michigan State. In 1969, Michigan’s defense shut down Ohio State in the second half and pulled off a big upset at the Big House to win the Big Ten title. The PiRates believe history can and will repeat itself, and Michigan will win the East by upsetting Ohio State again.

Iowa must lost twice for Wisconsin to pass them in the standings, and the Hawkeyes close with Minnesota and Purdue at home and Nebraska on the road. The Hawkeyes might run the table, but we believe Michigan or Ohio State would beat them in the Big Ten Championship Game. Should Michigan State upset Ohio State and take the East Division flag, then Iowa might take the conference title and advance to the playoffs at 13-0. For now, we say Michigan over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. That would leave an Ohio State team at 11-1 probably as the number four seed in the playoffs.

Besides the five teams previously mentioned, Penn State and Northwestern are sure things for bowls. Indiana and Rutgers have the next two best chances to get to 6-6, while Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska have minor chances.

Big 12
TCU can still win the Big 12 Championship, but the Horned Frogs are out of the playoff picture. Oklahoma State and Baylor, remain undefeated, while Oklahoma sits a game back with one loss. Baylor still must play all three of the contenders consecutively, and we believe the Bears are going to lose at least one game and more likely two of the three.

Oklahoma cannot lose another game and win the league, and the Sooners close with the other three contenders, with Baylor and Oklahoma State coming on the road.

Oklahoma State has a winnable road game against Iowa State, and then the Cowboys close with home games against Baylor and Oklahoma. After OSU dismissed TCU, it looks like the boys from Stillwater have the best chance of running the table and entering the playoffs at 12-0.

There is quite a drop after the top four. We see three additional bowl eligible teams in West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Kansas State. As for Texas, the Longhorns are 4-5 with games at West Virginia, home against Texas Tech, and a finale at Baylor. It looks like 5-7 for the Longhorns, and 5-7 may not allow Coach Charlie Strong to keep his job.

This is an interesting race, and it may be so balanced at this point that no team emerges with just one loss. In the North, Stanford needs one more conference win to clinch the division. The Cardinal can do that this week against Oregon, but if the Ducks win, the race is still alive. The Ducks could then win the division by knocking off USC and Oregon State, if California beats Stanford.

Washington State can still tie for the division crown by winning at UCLA, home against Colorado, and at Washington, if Stanford loses to Oregon and Cal, and Oregon wins out. However, the Cougars have been eliminated from the Pac-12 Championship Game, because Oregon would edge WSU with a better intradivisional record.

California needs one more win to become bowl eligible, and the Bears should get that against Oregon State this week. Washington might finish 5-7 with losses at Arizona State and against Washington State, but the Huskies might be the one lucky 5-7 team to make it to a bowl thanks to their APR score.

The South Division title is still undecided with Utah holding a one game lead over USC and UCLA. The Trojans beat the Utes earlier this year, while Utah and UCLA have yet to play, and of course USC and UCLA have yet to play. Utah is not getting much respect, and the Utes are not totally out of the playoff race themselves. If they beat UCLA and then knock off Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game, a 12-1 Utah team could make a case, especially if USC continues to win.

Arizona State is a wounded team coming in with just one engine, but the Seminoles have the best shot of the rest of getting to 6-6.

Who is going to beat Alabama the rest of the way? The Crimson Tide are supposed to be headed for a trap game at Mississippi State this week, but the Bulldogs do not have enough talent to upset the Tide, unless ‘Bama gives them 14 points in turnovers like they did against Ole Miss.

Ole Miss played themselves out of the conference championship picture with the loss to Arkansas. Facemask penalties can be big. LSU could only win the West if they win out and Alabama loses. It may be even harder for the Tigers to win out than for someone else to beat Alabama.

The rest of this division will also be bowl eligible, an incredible seven out of seven. Because of this, a 12-1 Alabama team might deserve to be the overal number one seed regardless of who else goes undefeated.

Florida has already clinched the East Division, but the Gators might still lose two more games. A team that scores just nine points at home on Vanderbilt could easily lose at South Carolina or at home to Florida State, and they will lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

Tennessee was 3-4 two weeks ago, but the Volunteers should win out to finish 8-4 and take second in the division. Georgia has a tough finishing conference game at Auburn, but the Bulldogs finish with two sure things out of conference against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. If they lose either one, then Mark Richt becomed unemployed.

Kentucky has now lost four games in a row to fall to 4-5, but the Wildcats’ next two games are winnable. This week’s game at Vanderbilt could be tough, but the Commodores’ offense is as weak as any Power Six Conference team, and a couple of scores could be all the Wildcats need to secure a win. The following week’s game against Charlotte should get the ‘Cats bowl eligible if they knock off the Commodores this week.

South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Missouri are out of the bowl race, and Missouri’s team could be looking at one or more forfeit losses to close the season due to racial tensions on the campus leading to a team walkout. Missouri’s proposed finishing schedule includes a game against BYU in Kansas City this weekend, followed by a home game against Tennessee and a road game against Arkansas.

Group of Five Conferences

American Athletic
Navy’s upset of Memphis ruined the big game for this week, when the Tigers go to Houston. Houston is still in control of the New Year’s Six Bowl that goes to the best Group of Five team, but the Cougars have three tough games to go. Besides needing to beat Memphis, they have to beat Navy and then Temple in the AAC Championship Game.

Don’t count out Navy just yet. The Midshipmen’s lone loss is to Notre Dame, and they did not look like the underdog pulling off a surprise in the win at Memphis. Navy could do the same thing to Houston and take the West Division flag.

Tulsa is not in contention in the West, but the Golden Hurricane needs just one more win to become bowl eligible. The season-ended against Tulane ought to give UT that win.

Temple has a two-game lead in the East Division, but they have a tough closing schedule. The Owls play at the hot South Florida Bulls this week, and USF is still alive in the division race. TU then finishes with home games against Memphis and Connecticut. We believe TU will win out and then win the Conference Championship Game to earn the New Year’s Six Bowl bid.

Besides USF, Cincinnati appears to be the only other team headed to bowl eligibility, as Connecticut and East Carolina don’t appear to have enough winnable games left.

Conference USA
Any chance that a C-USA team could make it to the New Year’s Six Bowl was lost when Marshall lost at Middle Tennessee this past weekend. Western Kentucky already had two losses, and even if the Hilltoppers win out, they will not jump over every AAC team.

The Middle Tennessee win virtually locked up a bowl bid for the Blue Raiders, while Old Dominion and Florida International still hold slim chances of making it to six wins.

In the West, Louisiana Tech looks invincible at this point, but Southern Miss. still has a shot. We believe the winner of that game will eventually emerge as the overall conference champion and have first dibs on which of seven contracted bowls they wish to accept, or in other words accepts the Bahamas Bowl.

Rice and UTEP still have even money odds’ chances of finishing 6-6.

BYU has already clinched a bowl, and they will be invited to either the Las Vegas or Hawaii Bowl.

Army already has seven losses, but if the Black Knights beat Tulane, Rutgers, and Navy, they could still earn a bowl bid with a superior APR score. We think West Point will lose an eighth, ninth, and tenth game, so it is a moot point.

Bowling Green is up two games with three to play in the East, and the Falcons would have to lose all three for Buffalo to surpass them. The Bulls need just one more win to become bowl eligible, and that should happen with a game against UMass on November 27, if not at Akron the week before.

Akron needs two more wins, and the Zips still have Miami of Ohio and Kent State on their schedule. Call it 6-6 for Terry Bowden’s crew, as Akron makes it to a bowl for the second time ever.

Ohio needs one more win to earn a bowl bid. The Bobcats were once a leading contender to win the division, but the season soured at the halfway point. Weak opponents in consecutive weeks against Kent State and Ball State should get Ohio to 7-5.

The West Division is a mess thanks to last week’s results. Western Michigan is now alone in first place at 5-0, but the Broncos have a killer finishing schedule against Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, and Toledo, the latter two on the road.

Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Central Michigan are in a three-way tie at 4-1. TU has a schedule the equal of WMU with games at CMU, at BGU, and at home against WMU. NIU has it a little easier with games at Buffalo, and home against WMU and Ohio. CMU closes with Toledo at home but their final two games are easy wins against Kent State and Eastern Michigan. The Chippewas were a consensus 5th place choice in the preseason, and first year coach John Bonamego will draw a lot of attention from bigger schools after spending most of his career coaching in the NFL.

Mountain West
It was supposed to be a slam dunk 13-0 season for Boise State, but the Broncos stumbled early against BYU and lost at Utah State. Still, BSU can win the Mountain Division with a closing schedule of New Mexico, Air Force, and San Jose State. The Broncos will not be the favored team in the conference championship game if they win the division title.

Air Force still controls its own destiny in the Mountain Division, and hiding in the bushes, New Mexico also controls its own destiny. Bob Davie’s Lobos may not win out and take the division flag, but UNM needs just one more win to earn their first bowl bid since 2007. Utah State needs help to win the division and appears headed to a 6-6 finish.

Colorado State must win two more games to get to six wins, and the Rams should do it by defeating UNLV and Fresno State. That would mean five of the six Mountain teams would earn a bowl bid.

The West Division is not so fortunate. Only San Diego State is assured of earning a bowl bid at this point, and the Aztecs appear to be the class of the entire league this year.

Nevada should finish 6-6, but there is no guarantee that the Wolfpack will win another game with San Jose State, Utah State, and San Diego State left to play. As for San Jose State, the Spartans are 4-5 after a close loss to BYU, and they close with Nevada, Hawaii, and Boise State. The winner of the Nevada-San Jose State game should finish 6-6, but that is not for sure.

Sun Belt
In a weeknight surprise, Arkansas State upset Appalachian State to take command in the SBC. The Red Wolves have three easy marks in their way to the SBC title in Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Texas State. The fans in Jonesboro might be getting nervous, not because ASU could be upset, but because someone may come calling for Coach Blake Anderson.

Appalachian State will still go bowling this year, as will Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Lafayette.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 129.6 127.4 129.5 128.8
2 Ohio St. 128.5 123.1 129.3 127.0
3 Baylor 127.8 124.0 128.1 126.6
4 Oklahoma 127.0 123.7 127.6 126.1
5 Stanford 124.2 122.3 124.6 123.7
6 Clemson 122.9 124.1 123.6 123.5
7 TCU 126.0 117.7 126.4 123.4
8 LSU 123.6 120.8 123.7 122.7
9 Notre Dame 123.1 120.2 123.1 122.1
10 USC 122.0 118.1 122.0 120.7
11 North Carolina 120.3 120.8 120.6 120.6
12 Utah 121.9 116.8 121.4 120.0
13 UCLA 122.2 116.2 120.8 119.7
14 Ole Miss 122.2 116.9 120.1 119.7
15 Tennessee 120.6 116.5 120.4 119.2
16 Oklahoma St. 119.2 116.6 119.8 118.5
17 Florida 119.4 116.0 119.4 118.3
18 Michigan 119.0 116.2 119.1 118.1
19 Arkansas 118.8 113.6 118.0 116.8
20 Mississippi St. 116.7 113.4 117.2 115.8
21 Auburn 116.0 113.6 115.4 115.0
22 Oregon 117.1 110.8 116.7 114.9
23 Georgia 117.2 110.7 116.1 114.7
24 Michigan St. 115.5 112.3 114.8 114.2
25 Florida St. 114.1 114.8 113.4 114.1
26 Texas A&M 115.6 112.1 113.4 113.7
27 California 115.1 109.4 114.2 112.9
28 Houston 109.9 115.9 112.1 112.6
29 Wisconsin 112.7 112.3 111.8 112.3
30 Iowa 110.7 112.9 111.3 111.6
31 Georgia Tech 112.7 110.3 111.3 111.4
32 Arizona St. 113.6 108.1 112.1 111.3
33 Boise St. 112.4 109.0 112.1 111.2
34 North Carolina St. 110.4 112.2 109.4 110.7
35 West Virginia 112.9 106.9 111.9 110.6
36 Bowling Green 107.8 112.8 110.9 110.5
37 Virginia Tech 110.2 109.9 110.0 110.0
38 Temple 108.8 110.9 109.5 109.7
39 Washington 110.1 107.1 110.4 109.2
40 Louisville 107.5 110.2 107.3 108.3
41 Nebraska 108.4 106.6 107.6 107.5
42 Pittsburgh 106.8 107.3 107.4 107.2
43 Memphis 106.5 107.4 107.1 107.0
44 Missouri 108.4 104.8 107.3 106.8
45 South Carolina 108.3 104.8 106.8 106.6
46 Cincinnati 105.3 107.2 107.1 106.5
47 Penn St. 106.5 106.7 106.3 106.5
48 Washington St. 107.4 103.8 107.7 106.3
49 Duke 106.1 106.3 106.2 106.2
50 BYU 106.2 105.6 106.8 106.2
51 Navy 104.6 108.1 105.4 106.0
52 Western Kentucky 105.6 105.7 106.6 106.0
53 San Diego St. 104.0 108.4 105.5 106.0
54 Arizona 107.3 101.9 106.5 105.2
55 Miami 104.2 104.7 105.1 104.7
56 Illinois 105.4 103.9 104.5 104.6
57 Minnesota 105.2 103.5 104.5 104.4
58 Texas Tech 107.1 98.9 106.7 104.2
59 Northwestern 104.1 104.3 103.9 104.1
60 Toledo 103.2 104.2 104.7 104.0
61 Texas 105.0 101.7 105.0 103.9
62 Louisiana Tech 103.4 103.6 104.5 103.8
63 Western Michigan 102.3 103.2 103.7 103.1
64 Kansas St. 106.1 96.3 105.3 102.6
65 Colorado 104.7 99.6 102.4 102.2
66 Virginia 101.6 99.7 101.3 100.9
67 Kentucky 102.5 98.0 100.7 100.4
68 Vanderbilt 101.5 97.7 101.7 100.3
69 Utah St. 99.5 99.8 99.5 99.6
70 Boston College 99.2 102.0 97.6 99.6
71 Northern Illinois 97.0 100.9 97.9 98.6
72 Iowa St. 99.6 95.9 99.4 98.3
73 Appalachian St. 96.4 99.3 98.2 98.0
74 Air Force 96.6 100.8 96.0 97.8
75 Georgia Southern 95.9 98.7 96.8 97.1
76 Indiana 96.5 96.5 95.8 96.3
77 Wake Forest 95.2 98.5 94.5 96.1
78 Marshall 95.4 96.3 95.6 95.8
79 South Florida 93.3 99.1 94.4 95.6
80 Purdue 96.4 95.3 94.9 95.5
81 Maryland 95.0 94.1 94.9 94.7
82 East Carolina 92.6 96.2 93.1 94.0
83 Syracuse 93.3 95.7 92.2 93.7
84 Rutgers 94.7 91.4 92.7 92.9
85 Arkansas St. 92.1 93.2 93.3 92.9
86 Middle Tennessee 93.3 92.3 92.9 92.8
87 Central Michigan 90.7 95.0 92.8 92.8
88 Southern Mississippi 91.7 93.8 92.5 92.7
89 San Jose St. 91.7 94.4 91.9 92.7
90 Colorado St. 92.7 92.0 91.9 92.2
91 Tulsa 90.2 94.5 91.2 92.0
92 Connecticut 88.8 93.7 90.0 90.8
93 Florida International 89.8 92.2 89.9 90.6
94 Nevada 89.1 93.0 88.9 90.3
95 New Mexico 89.0 90.0 88.2 89.1
96 Oregon St. 90.4 87.1 88.2 88.6
97 Ohio 85.7 89.8 87.0 87.5
98 Buffalo 83.2 89.3 85.0 85.8
99 Tulane 85.2 87.4 84.4 85.7
100 Akron 83.2 88.9 84.7 85.6
101 UNLV 84.0 86.5 85.4 85.3
102 Massachusetts 84.1 86.9 84.8 85.3
103 SMU 83.9 87.8 83.5 85.1
104 Troy 83.7 85.1 85.2 84.7
105 UL-Lafayette 83.5 86.2 83.8 84.5
106 Rice 82.8 85.9 82.7 83.8
107 Florida Atlantic 82.3 85.4 83.1 83.6
108 Hawaii 82.0 83.7 80.9 82.2
109 Army 77.9 86.7 79.4 81.3
110 Ball St. 80.4 82.6 81.0 81.3
111 Fresno St. 80.1 83.6 78.1 80.6
112 Kent St. 79.5 82.2 80.1 80.6
113 Wyoming 80.1 81.6 78.9 80.2
114 Central Florida 79.1 82.1 79.4 80.2
115 UT-San Antonio 78.8 81.3 79.2 79.8
116 UTEP 77.1 79.8 77.0 78.0
117 Georgia St. 77.3 77.5 78.0 77.6
118 Old Dominion 76.3 80.7 75.7 77.6
119 Texas St. 76.6 79.8 76.2 77.5
120 South Alabama 74.8 80.9 75.9 77.2
121 Miami (O) 74.1 79.0 74.7 75.9
122 Idaho 73.0 78.3 74.1 75.1
123 North Texas 72.6 76.6 72.7 74.0
124 Kansas 75.7 69.3 73.4 72.8
125 UL-Monroe 73.2 72.1 73.2 72.8
126 Eastern Michigan 70.7 76.9 70.0 72.5
127 New Mexico St. 71.6 73.3 71.7 72.2
128 Charlotte 68.4 70.6 68.5 69.2

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

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 115.7 111.9 115.0 114.2
2 Pac-12 113.0 108.4 112.3 111.2
3 Big 12 110.6 105.1 110.4 108.7
4 ACC 107.5 108.3 107.1 107.6
5 Big Ten 107.0 105.7 106.5 106.4
6 Indep. 102.4 104.2 103.1 103.2
7 AAC 95.7 99.2 96.4 97.1
8 MWC 91.8 93.6 91.4 92.3
9 MAC 87.8 91.7 89.0 89.5
10 CUSA 86.0 88.0 86.2 86.7
11 SBC 81.6 84.0 82.4 82.7

American Athletic Conference
East Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Temple 5-0 8-1 108.8 110.9 109.5 109.7
Cincinnati 2-3 5-4 105.3 107.2 107.1 106.5
South Florida 3-2 5-4 93.3 99.1 94.4 95.6
East Carolina 2-4 4-6 92.6 96.2 93.1 94.0
Connecticut 3-3 5-5 88.8 93.7 90.0 90.8
Central Florida 0-6 0-10 79.1 82.1 79.4 80.2
West Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 5-0 9-0 109.9 115.9 112.1 112.6
Memphis 4-1 8-1 106.5 107.4 107.1 107.0
Navy 5-0 7-1 104.6 108.1 105.4 106.0
Tulsa 2-3 5-4 90.2 94.5 91.2 92.0
Tulane 1-5 2-7 85.2 87.4 84.4 85.7
SMU 0-5 1-8 83.9 87.8 83.5 85.1
AAC Averages     95.7 99.2 96.4 97.1
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 6-0 9-0 122.9 124.1 123.6 123.5
Florida St. 5-2 7-2 114.1 114.8 113.4 114.1
North Carolina St. 2-3 6-3 110.4 112.2 109.4 110.7
Louisville 4-2 5-4 107.5 110.2 107.3 108.3
Boston College 0-7 3-7 99.2 102.0 97.6 99.6
Wake Forest 1-5 3-6 95.2 98.5 94.5 96.1
Syracuse 1-4 3-6 93.3 95.7 92.2 93.7
Coastal Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
North Carolina 5-0 8-1 120.3 120.8 120.6 120.6
Georgia Tech 1-5 3-6 112.7 110.3 111.3 111.4
Virginia Tech 2-3 4-5 110.2 109.9 110.0 110.0
Pittsburgh 4-1 6-3 106.8 107.3 107.4 107.2
Duke 3-2 6-3 106.1 106.3 106.2 106.2
Miami 3-2 6-3 104.2 104.7 105.1 104.7
Virginia 2-3 3-6 101.6 99.7 101.3 100.9
ACC Averages     107.5 108.3 107.1 107.6
Big 12 Conference
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Baylor 5-0 8-0 127.8 124.0 128.1 126.6
Oklahoma 5-1 8-1 127.0 123.7 127.6 126.1
TCU 5-1 8-1 126.0 117.7 126.4 123.4
Oklahoma St. 6-0 9-0 119.2 116.6 119.8 118.5
West Virginia 1-4 4-4 112.9 106.9 111.9 110.6
Texas Tech 2-5 5-5 107.1 98.9 106.7 104.2
Texas 3-3 4-5 105.0 101.7 105.0 103.9
Kansas St. 0-5 3-5 106.1 96.3 105.3 102.6
Iowa St. 2-4 3-6 99.6 95.9 99.4 98.3
Kansas 0-6 0-9 75.7 69.3 73.4 72.8
Big 12 Averages     110.6 105.1 110.4 108.7
Big Ten Conference
East Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 5-0 9-0 128.5 123.1 129.3 127.0
Michigan 4-1 7-2 119.0 116.2 119.1 118.1
Michigan St. 4-1 8-1 115.5 112.3 114.8 114.2
Penn St. 4-2 7-3 106.5 106.7 106.3 106.5
Indiana 0-5 4-5 96.5 96.5 95.8 96.3
Maryland 0-5 2-7 95.0 94.1 94.9 94.7
Rutgers 1-5 3-6 94.7 91.4 92.7 92.9
West Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 5-1 8-2 112.7 112.3 111.8 112.3
Iowa 5-0 9-0 110.7 112.9 111.3 111.6
Nebraska 2-4 4-6 108.4 106.6 107.6 107.5
Illinois 2-3 5-4 105.4 103.9 104.5 104.6
Minnesota 1-4 4-5 105.2 103.5 104.5 104.4
Northwestern 3-2 7-2 104.1 104.3 103.9 104.1
Purdue 1-4 2-7 96.4 95.3 94.9 95.5
Big Ten Averages     107.0 105.7 106.5 106.4
Conference USA
East Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 6-0 8-2 105.6 105.7 106.6 106.0
Marshall 5-1 8-2 95.4 96.3 95.6 95.8
Middle Tennessee 3-2 4-5 93.3 92.3 92.9 92.8
Florida International 3-3 5-5 89.8 92.2 89.9 90.6
Florida Atlantic 2-4 2-7 82.3 85.4 83.1 83.6
Old Dominion 2-3 4-5 76.3 80.7 75.7 77.6
Charlotte 0-6 2-7 68.4 70.6 68.5 69.2
West Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisiana Tech 5-1 7-3 103.4 103.6 104.5 103.8
Southern Mississippi 4-1 6-3 91.7 93.8 92.5 92.7
Rice 2-3 4-5 82.8 85.9 82.7 83.8
UT-San Antonio 1-4 1-8 78.8 81.3 79.2 79.8
UTEP 2-3 4-5 77.1 79.8 77.0 78.0
North Texas 1-5 1-8 72.6 76.6 72.7 74.0
CUSA Averages     86.0 88.0 86.2 86.7
FBS Independents
Team   Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame   8-1 123.1 120.2 123.1 122.1
BYU   7-2 106.2 105.6 106.8 106.2
Army   2-7 77.9 86.7 79.4 81.3
Independents Averages     102.4 104.2 103.1 103.2
Mid-American Conference
East Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Bowling Green 5-0 7-2 107.8 112.8 110.9 110.5
Ohio 2-3 5-4 85.7 89.8 87.0 87.5
Buffalo 3-2 5-4 83.2 89.3 85.0 85.8
Akron 2-3 4-5 83.2 88.9 84.7 85.6
Massachusetts 0-5 1-8 84.1 86.9 84.8 85.3
Kent St. 2-3 3-6 79.5 82.2 80.1 80.6
Miami (O) 1-5 2-8 74.1 79.0 74.7 75.9
West Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Toledo 4-1 7-1 103.2 104.2 104.7 104.0
Western Michigan 5-0 6-3 102.3 103.2 103.7 103.1
Northern Illinois 4-1 6-3 97.0 100.9 97.9 98.6
Central Michigan 4-1 5-4 90.7 95.0 92.8 92.8
Ball St. 2-4 3-7 80.4 82.6 81.0 81.3
Eastern Michigan 0-6 1-9 70.7 76.9 70.0 72.5
MAC Averages     87.8 91.7 89.0 89.5
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 4-1 7-2 112.4 109.0 112.1 111.2
Utah St. 4-2 5-4 99.5 99.8 99.5 99.6
Air Force 4-1 6-3 96.6 100.8 96.0 97.8
Colorado St. 2-3 4-5 92.7 92.0 91.9 92.2
New Mexico 3-2 5-4 89.0 90.0 88.2 89.1
Wyoming 1-5 1-9 80.1 81.6 78.9 80.2
West Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 5-0 6-3 104.0 108.4 105.5 106.0
San Jose St. 3-2 4-5 91.7 94.4 91.9 92.7
Nevada 3-2 5-4 89.1 93.0 88.9 90.3
UNLV 2-3 3-6 84.0 86.5 85.4 85.3
Hawaii 0-6 2-8 82.0 83.7 80.9 82.2
Fresno St. 1-5 2-7 80.1 83.6 78.1 80.6
MWC Averages     91.8 93.6 91.4 92.3
Pac-12 Conference
North Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Stanford 7-0 8-1 124.2 122.3 124.6 123.7
Oregon 4-2 6-3 117.1 110.8 116.7 114.9
California 2-4 5-4 115.1 109.4 114.2 112.9
Washington 2-4 4-5 110.1 107.1 110.4 109.2
Washington St. 4-2 6-3 107.4 103.8 107.7 106.3
Oregon St. 0-6 2-7 90.4 87.1 88.2 88.6
South Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
USC 4-2 6-3 122.0 118.1 122.0 120.7
Utah 5-1 8-1 121.9 116.8 121.4 120.0
UCLA 4-2 7-2 122.2 116.2 120.8 119.7
Arizona St. 2-4 4-5 113.6 108.1 112.1 111.3
Arizona 2-5 5-5 107.3 101.9 106.5 105.2
Colorado 1-5 4-6 104.7 99.6 102.4 102.2
Pac-12 Averages     113.0 108.4 112.3 111.2
Southeastern Conference
East Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 3-3 5-4 120.6 116.5 120.4 119.2
Florida 6-1 8-1 119.4 116.0 119.4 118.3
Georgia 4-3 6-3 117.2 110.7 116.1 114.7
Missouri 1-5 4-5 108.4 104.8 107.3 106.8
South Carolina 1-6 3-6 108.3 104.8 106.8 106.6
Kentucky 2-5 4-5 102.5 98.0 100.7 100.4
Vanderbilt 1-4 3-6 101.5 97.7 101.7 100.3
West Division            
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 5-1 8-1 129.6 127.4 129.5 128.8
LSU 4-1 7-1 123.6 120.8 123.7 122.7
Ole Miss 4-2 7-3 122.2 116.9 120.1 119.7
Arkansas 3-2 5-4 118.8 113.6 118.0 116.8
Mississippi St. 3-2 7-2 116.7 113.4 117.2 115.8
Auburn 2-4 5-4 116.0 113.6 115.4 115.0
Texas A&M 3-3 6-3 115.6 112.1 113.4 113.7
SEC Averages     115.7 111.9 115.0 114.2
Sunbelt Conference
Team Conference Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 4-1 7-2 96.4 99.3 98.2 98.0
Georgia Southern 4-1 6-2 95.9 98.7 96.8 97.1
Arkansas St. 5-0 6-3 92.1 93.2 93.3 92.9
Troy 2-3 3-6 83.7 85.1 85.2 84.7
UL-Lafayette 3-1 4-4 83.5 86.2 83.8 84.5
Georgia St. 1-3 2-6 77.3 77.5 78.0 77.6
Texas St. 1-3 2-6 76.6 79.8 76.2 77.5
South Alabama 2-2 4-4 74.8 80.9 75.9 77.2
Idaho 2-4 3-6 73.0 78.3 74.1 75.1
UL-Monroe 0-5 1-8 73.2 72.1 73.2 72.8
New Mexico St. 2-3 2-7 71.6 73.3 71.7 72.2
Sun Belt Averages     81.6 84.0 82.4 82.7

NCAA Playoff Projections
1 Clemson
2 Alabama
3 Ohio St.
4 Notre Dame

Group of 5 Contenders For Automatic New Year’s Six Bowl Bid
# Team      
1 Houston      
2 Navy      
3 Temple      
4 Memphis      
5 Boise St.      

Power 5 Conferences Bottom 10
# Team  
10 Boston College  
9 Iowa St.  
8 Indiana  
7 Wake Forest  
6 Purdue  
5 Maryland  
4 Syracuse  
3 Rutgers  
2 Oregon St.  
1 Kansas  

FCS Top 10
# Team PiRate
1 Jacksonville St. 96.9
2 Harvard 94.2
3 North Dakota St. 91.9
4 McNeese St. 91.7
5 Dartmouth 91.5
6 Dayton 91.3
7 Charleston Southern 90.2
8 South Dakota St. 90.0
9 Illinois St. 89.6
10 Coastal Carolina 89.6

This Week’s Games
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Tuesday, November 10        
Ohio Kent St. 8.7 10.1 9.4
Central Michigan Toledo -10.0 -6.7 9.4
Wednesday, November 11        
Buffalo Northern Illinois -10.8 -8.6 -9.9
Western Michigan Bowling Green -2.5 -6.6 -4.2
Thursday, November 12        
South Alabama Louisiana-Lafayette -6.2 -2.8 -5.4
Georgia Tech Virginia Tech 5.5 3.4 4.3
Friday, November 13        
Colorado USC -14.3 -15.5 -16.6
Saturday, November 14        
Duke Pittsburgh 1.8 1.5 1.3
Auburn Georgia 1.8 5.9 2.3
South Carolina Florida -8.1 -8.2 -9.6
Tennessee North Texas 51.0 42.9 50.7
Army Tulane -4.3 2.3 -2.0
West Virginia Texas 10.9 8.2 9.9
Illinois Ohio St. -20.1 -16.2 -21.8
TCU Kansas 53.3 51.4 56.0
Michigan St. Maryland 23.5 21.2 22.9
Northwestern Purdue 10.2 11.5 11.5
Florida Atlantic Middle Tennessee -8.5 -4.4 -7.3
Miami (O) Akron -7.1 -7.9 -8.0
Old Dominion UTEP 2.2 3.9 1.7
Florida St. North Carolina St. 6.7 5.6 7.0
Louisville Virginia 8.9 13.5 9.0
Charlotte UTSA -7.9 -8.2 -8.2
Air Force Utah St. 0.1 4.0 -0.5
Eastern Michigan Massachusetts -11.4 -8.0 -12.8
Louisana-Monroe Arkansas St. -16.4 -18.6 -17.6
Arizona St. Washington 6.5 4.0 4.7
North Carolina Miami (Fla.) 19.1 19.1 18.5
Notre Dame Wake Forest 30.9 24.7 31.6
Syracuse Clemson -26.6 -25.4 -28.4
Mississippi St. Alabama -9.9 -11 -9.3
Iowa St. Oklahoma St. -16.6 -17.7 -17.4
Marshall Florida Int’l. 8.6 7.1 8.7
Rutgers Nebraska -11.2 -12.7 -12.4
Texas Tech Kansas St. 4.0 5.6 4.4
Indiana Michigan -19.5 -16.7 -20.3
Troy Georgia Southern -9.7 -11.1 -9.1
Rice Southern Miss. -6.4 -5.4 -7.3
Navy SMU 23.7 23.3 24.9
Nevada San Jose St. -0.1 1.1 -0.5
Texas St. Georgia St. 1.8 4.8 0.7
Vanderbilt Kentucky 1.0 1.7 3.0
Idaho Appalachian St. -20.4 -18.0 -21.1
South Florida Temple -12.5 -8.8 -12.1
Colorado St. UNLV 11.7 8.5 9.5
Houston Memphis 6.4 11.5 8.0
LSU Arkansas 7.8 10.2 8.7
Stanford Oregon 10.1 14.5 10.9
Missouri * BYU [3.2] [0.2] [1.5]
Cincinnati Tulsa 18.1 15.7 18.9
Baylor Oklahoma 3.8 3.3 3.5
Iowa Minnesota 8.5 12.4 9.8
Arizona Utah -11.6 -11.9 -11.9
Boise St. New Mexico 26.4 22.0 26.9
San Diego St. Wyoming 26.9 29.8 29.6
California Oregon St. 27.7 25.3 29.0
UCLA Washington St. 17.8 15.4 16.1
Hawaii Fresno St. 5.9 4.1 6.8
FBS vs. FCS Week 11 PiRate    
Texas A&M Western Carolina 29    
* Ongoing Strike of Missouri Football Team May Force Forfeiture Of This Game In Kansas City

Bowl Conferences Team vs. Team
Cure AAC SBC Cincinnati vs. Appalachian St.
New Mexico MWC CUSA New Mexico vs. Rice
Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC/BYU Washington St. vs. San Diego St.
Camellia MAC SBC Western Michigan vs. Georgia Southern
New Orleans CUSA SBC Southern Miss. vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Miami Beach AAC CUSA South Florida vs. Western Kentucky
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Central Michigan vs. Utah St.
Boca Raton AAC MAC Washington * ^ vs. Northern Illinois
Poinsettia MWC Army Boise St. vs. California *
GoDaddy MAC SBC Bowling Green vs. Arkansas St.
Bahamas CUSA MAC Louisiana Tech vs. Toledo
Hawaii AAC MWC/BYU Tulsa vs. BYU
St. Petersburg AAC CUSA Houston vs. Marshall
Sun ACC Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. Oregon
Heart of Dallas Big 12 CUSA Akron * vs. UTEP
Pinstripe ACC Big Ten North Carolina St. vs. Rutgers
Independence SEC ACC Arkansas vs. Miami (Fla)
Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 Indiana vs. UCLA
Military ACC AAC Navy vs. Virginia Tech
Quick Lane ACC Big Ten Ohio * vs. Nevada *
Armed Forces Big Ten MWC Buffalo * vs. Air Force
Russell Athletic ACC Big 12 Florida St. vs. Oklahoma
Arizona CUSA MWC Middle Tennessee vs. Colorado St.
Texas Big 12 SEC Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M
Birmingham AAC SEC Memphis vs. Kentucky
Belk ACC SEC Duke vs. Auburn
Music City ACC/Big Ten SEC Penn St. vs. Georgia
Peach N. Y. 6 N. Y. 6 North Carolina vs. Michigan
Cotton Playoff Playoff Oklahoma St. vs. Stanford
Orange Playoff Playoff Alabama vs. Ohio St.
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Northwestern vs. USC
Ouback Big Ten SEC Wisconsin vs. Tennessee
Citrus Big Ten SEC Michigan St. vs. Florida
Sugar Big 12 SEC Baylor vs. LSU
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Iowa vs. Notre Dame
Fiesta N. Y. 6 N. Y. 6 Clemson vs. Temple
TaxSlayer ACC/Big Ten SEC Louisville vs. Mississippi St.
Liberty Big 12 SEC West Virginia vs. Ole Miss
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 TCU vs. Utah
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 Kansas St. vs. Arizona St.
Nat’l Champ. Semifinal Winners Stanford vs. Alabama
* = At-large selection due to contracted conference not having an eligible team for this slot
^ = Washington qualifies for a bowl at 5-7 with highest APR score of 5-7 teams

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