The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 18, 2022

Big Ten Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:00 am

Will the Big Ten Conference become the Big Billion? Rumors from multiple sources indicate that this league is on the precipice of signing a TV and media rights package that will be north of a billion dollars. This deal does not include Notre Dame. Should the Irish end up in this league, the Big Ten will dwarf even the SEC in money paid out per school.

USC and UCLA are set to join the league in two years. Whether other teams join as well is anybody’s guess.

Both divisions this year figure to have competitive races. Ohio State is the odds-on favorite to win the East and the league overall, but there are multiple teams capable of upsetting the Buckeyes. Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State are strong once again, and it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that at least one of these contenders upsets the Buckeyes.

Maryland has an easy out of conference schedule and has a good chance to gain bowl eligibility. Rutgers and Indiana will bring up the rear.

In the West, five different teams could contend for the division title. Purdue has the benefit of avoiding Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State from the East. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa are all about equal in talent this year, while Nebraska could finally return to the plus side of .500. Illinois and Northwestern are one or more excellent recruiting classes away from being contenders.

Big Ten Preseason PiRate Ratings

East Division
Ohio St.128.6126.6129.5128.2
Michigan St.118.9117.3116.7117.6
Penn St.115.0114.5114.0114.5

West Division

Big Ten112.7112.0111.4112.0

Preseason Official Big Ten Media Poll

#East1st PlaceOverall
1Ohio St.36252
3Penn St.0169
4Michigan St.0162

#West1st PlaceOverall

Ohio St.36

The PiRate Ratings are designed to look at just the next week’s schedule of games and not to use to look forward. Nevertheless, here are the predicted won-loss records for the league.

Predicted Won-Loss Records

Ohio St.9-013-0
Penn St.6-38-4
Michigan St.6-39-3


August 13, 2022

FBS Independents Preview

In 1971, there were 34 major college independents playing football. In 2022, there are seven independents, and the ranks are going to shrink soon. Liberty and New Mexico State will join Conference USA next year. BYU is headed to the Big 12. The question remains what will Notre Dame do?

Can the Irish afford to remain an independent? By the time the season starts, we may know the answer. With NBC rumored to be ready to pay big bucks to get a weekly Big Ten game in prime time, there may be little need to offer Notre Dame the vault the Irish desire. The Big Ten may be on the precipice of paying out 9-figures to its teams. If the Irish are only offered 30 to 40 million dollars, they may be willing to become Big Ten team number 17.

Of the seven indies this year, four figure to be good, and three will struggle to win three ball games apiece.

FBS Independents PiRate Ratings

Notre Dame119.0117.0118.9118.3
New Mexico St.74.877.174.075.3

There are no official Independent Media Polls like there are for conferences, but I have included the consensus of seven of my friends that produce computer ratings like the PiRate Ratings.

Computer Power Rating Poll

#West1st PlaceOverall
1Notre Dame648
5N. Mexico St.018
7U Mass09

The PiRate Rating are designed to be used for the next week of football games and not meant to be used to predict won-loss records. Nevertheless, here are the projected won-loss records.

Predicted Won-Loss Records

Notre Dame11-1
New Mexico St.3-9

August 8, 2022

The PiRates Are Leaving The Port For 2022-23

It’s Football Time In Tennessee! Actually it’s football time everywhere, but when you live in the Volunteer State and spent 30+ years listening to the radio play-by-play GOAT, John Ward, say that phrase 11 or 12 times a season, it becomes the adrenaline boosting tagline to put one in the mood for “THE SPORT” that matters.

College football as we know it has reached the dawn of evolutionary change. Massive restructuring of the game is forthcoming, and some of that change will be apparent this season, as the Sun Belt Conference has more teams at the expense of Conference USA. With Texas and Oklahoma possibly becoming SEC members as early as next season, and USC and UCLA making the move to the Big Ten, there are a couple more major dominoes that could fall and send the conventional football alignment falling en masse.

I have tried to stay in the loop with more than a dozen insider contacts developed from my years in sports journalism in radio, TV, and in print. There are many differing opinions about what could happen and what they have heard is in the works. However, nearly every one of them agree on one thing: everything is in a holding pattern concerning the move beyond 16 teams in the Big Ten and SEC, until Notre Dame learns what their potential media contract will be and what the Big Ten media contract will be.

Notre Dame is getting $22 million from NBC and $12 million from the ACC. Next year, the final year of that contract with NBC, it will rise by $2.5 million. The Big Ten is being rumored to distribute possibly $1.2 billion in media revenue share. Notre Dame is seeking $75 million a year from NBC to renew the contract. If the offer is not in that ballpark, the Irish are likely to bite the bullet and join the Big Ten. One or two Southern insiders believes Notre Dame has not completely eliminated the possibility of seeking SEC membership, but my Midwest contacts say that their fan base will demand Big Ten membership so that travel will be minimized.

Let me address something else that has come to my attention. In various ways, I receive comments from others asking what I think about the big conferences forcing the small private schools out of their leagues. It usually goes something like, “Why does the SEC allow Vanderbilt to remain in the conference, when they sponge millions of dollars and don’t contribute much to the total pot?”

Three private schools have departed the SEC through the last eight decades. Sewanee, Georgia Tech, and Tulane left on their own account. Tech and Tulane would gladly return to the league today if they could. Vandy is not leaving the SEC, and the SEC is not kicking the Commodores out either. Even though all this realignment and expansion is 100% about football, and Vanderbilt football is basically a perpetual expansion team, their value to the conference comes in multiple essential ways. First, the league now considers Nashville their most essential city in their footprint. The 2023 Football Media Days will relocate from Atlanta to the Music City. The league’s annual postseason men’s basketball tournament is under contract for Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for many years to come. Yes, the Tennessee Vols are the top college team in the city, but Knoxville is 185 miles to the east.

There is another major reason that every conference wants to have a private school as a member. When every conference member is a public institution, then the entire league is subject to open records laws. With just one private school in the league, that school closes those records. The SEC isn’t going to give up their covert operating methods.

Now for the real reason that 99% of you come to this site to read. Beginning Tuesday, August 9, 2022, the annual PiRate Ratings’ Conference Previews will begin posting here one league at a time, debuting in order of lowest-ranked conference to highest-ranked conference.

Here is the schedule for each preview:

August 9: Conference USA

August 10: Mid-American Conference

August 11: Sun Belt Conference

August 12: Mountain West Conference

August 13: FBS Independents

August 14: American Athletic Conference

August 15: Pac-12 Conference

August 16: Atlantic Coast Conference

August 17: Big 12 Conference

August 18: Big Ten Conference

August 19: Southeastern Conference

March 13, 2022

Sunday Morning From The Hull

This early Sunday morning on the PiRate ship, we are hunkered down in the hull with a spreadsheet full of numbers. After New Mexico State, Arizona, and Cal St. Fullerton enjoyed late night trophy raisings in Las Vegas, we added the updated numbers to our Bracketology and narrowed the field of hopefuls down to 70 and then realized we had one more team that maybe should not have been sent to the SS NIT and one team that maybe shouldn’t be considered a lock for the Dance. So, we are sitting at 72 teams this morning. There are six teams at the bottom of the Bubble, and three of them will be happy around 6:30 PM EDT, while three will have to settle for a possible trip to the flowerless garden in the Big Apple rather than the Garden District in the Crescent City.

The six bubblers this morning (in alphabetical order) are: Rutgers, SMU, Texas A&M, Xavier, Wake Forest, and Wyoming. Let us add the last potential bid-stealer to this formula. If Richmond upsets Davidson today in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship Game, the Spiders will receive an automatic bid, while Davidson receives an at-large invitation. That will reduce one spot at the bottom of the Bubble. Additionally, if Texas A&M upsets Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, the Aggies will move ahead of the Last Four in, as they would be guaranteed immunity from going to Dayton early next week. That would then take a team that currently has a bye and drop them into First Four purgatory.

By 3:00 PM EDT, we will know whether Richmond secured a spot in the Field of 68 and if Texas A&M is either an automatic bid-earner or Bubble team in the last decisions to be made. One of our fine Buckaroo lasses then pointed out that the outcome of the American Athletic Conference Championship Game between Houston and Memphis could affect the resume of SMU. A Memphis win might drag the Mustangs along in the Tiger draft. Additionally, the Iowa-Purdue Big Ten Championship Game tips off after 3:00 PM EDT, and both teams’ seed line could move one spot from this game. A Purdue loss and a Tennessee win could see the Boilermakers and Vols switching spots on the seed line. Iowa could possibly jump up one spot with a win, especially if Houston loses today.

Therefore, our final Bracketology prediction will go live only once the outcomes of the last two games are known. If both games are blowouts, we will go ahead and publish the final prediction before the games end. If either game is undecided until the closing minutes, then expect our final Bracketology to go live within 10 minutes of the final horn.

Coming Monday afternoon (Eastern Time Zone), our first installment of Bracketnomics for the 2022 NCAA Tournament will post here. This will be the explanation for how to go about picking your brackets using analytics that have been back-tested for maximum accuracy. We cannot guarantee you will win your bracket-picking contests, but we have a history of many of our subscribers doing that over the two decades this page has existed. And, you cannot beat the price of this information–only the time it takes you to read it.

There is one small warning for this year: Using the criteria we rely on, there is way too much parity in this forthcoming tournament. Usually, five to eight teams have Final Four worthy resumes. As of this morning, only two teams have such wonders. That means that two teams that do not have Final Four resumes are guaranteed to make this year’s Final Four. It also means that a team like Connecticut in both 2011 and 2014 might be poised to make a run to the National Championship Game, and it is a much higher probability that a Mid-Major makes the Final Four like Loyola, Wichita State, Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, and George Mason have done in this Century and Indiana State and Penn did in 1979. If you are wondering when was the last time a team from outside of a power conference actually won the tournament, it was UNLV in 1990, 32 years ago. Gonzaga has come close twice, losing in the final game to North Carolina and to Baylor. Butler came within a final shot rolling on the rim and falling off of winning against Duke.

This shapes up to be a very exciting NCAA Tournament this year. There will be a lot of interesting story lines, so today, we are informing you that you probably feel a bit off. By Thursday morning, you just won’t be able to get up and going, and you will have to call in sick to work with a 48-hour bug, forcing you to take sick days on Thursday and Friday. Being self-employed or a member of sports media through the years, I was fortunate not to have to get Madness Fever.

Today’s Conference Tournament Schedule

All Times Eastern Daylight

12:00 PM on ESPN2: Ivy League Championship Game

Princeton vs. Yale

1:00 PM on ESPN: Southeastern Conference Championship Game

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M

1:00 PM on CBS: Atlantic 10 Conference Championship Game

Davidson vs. Richmond

3:15 PM on ESPN: Conference USA Championship Game

Houston vs. Memphis

3:30 PM on CBS: Big Ten Conference Championship Game

Iowa vs. Purdue

6:00 PM on CBS: Selection Sunday Show

March 12, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Saturday, March 12, 2022

Saturday’s Conference Tournaments
America East Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Higher Seed at Home
VermontMaryland Baltimore Co.14.3
American Athletic Conference–Semifinals
Fort Worth, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Atlantic 10 Conference–Semifinals
Washington, D.C.
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
DavidsonSaint Louis0.2
Atlantic Coast Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
DukeVirginia Tech5.6
Big 12 Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Kansas City
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
KansasTexas Tech1.1
Big East Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
New York
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Big Sky Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Boise, ID
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Montana St.Northern Colorado3.4
Big Ten Conference–Semifinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
PurdueMichigan St.5.4
Big West Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Henderson, NV
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Long Beach St.Cal St. Fullerton-0.5
Frisco, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
UABLouisiana Tech4.8
Ivy League–Semifinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Atlantic City, NJ
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Saint Peter’sMonmouth1.8
Mid-American Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Kent St.Akron0.4
Mideastern Athletic Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Norfolk, VA
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Norfolk St.Coppin St.8.1
Mountain West Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Boise St.San Diego St.-1.4
Pac-12 Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Southeastern Conference–Semifinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
ArkansasTexas A&M5.3
Southland Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Katy, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Southeast LouisianaTexas A&M-CC-1.6
Southwestern Athletic Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Texas SouthernAlcorn St.4.5
Western Athletic Conference–CHAMPIONSHIP
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
New Mexico St.Abilene Christian3.1

Dance Tickets Punched
1Murray St.Ohio Valley27-2
2LongwoodBig South26-6
3Loyola (Chi.)Missouri Valley25-7
5Georgia St.Sun Belt18-10
6Jacksonville St.Atlantic Sun21-10
8DelawareColonial Athletic22-12
9Wright St.Horizon21-13
10South Dakota St.Summit30-4
11GonzagaWest Coast26-3

Hunkered Down In The Hull

The PiRates have had their tea and bickies and swabbed the deck. It’s time to head down to the hull and hunker down with typical PiRate ship tools. We have no torpedos and no swords. Our weapons are power ratings, strengths of schedule, quad ratings, and strengths of record. We will be carefully perusing the field to see which team to pillage and which team to let pass into the Dancing waters.

The Florida Gators have been scuttled and sunk to the bottom where they have met the sandy silt known as NIT. Texas A&M just might pass through if the Aggies can fire more shots at the SS Razorback today then they take on.

With a late Winter storm plunging most of the Eastern half of the nation back into January-like weather, this is a good day to stay indoors and watch teams qualify for the Big Dance. We will be looking at a lot of Bubble teams as well as teams that can greatly alter our Bracketology.

Our final Bracketology prediction will be published here tomorrow afternoon. Depending on the games to be played after 1 PM EDT (yes, remember it will be D and not S tomorrow), we may have to have two different brackets prepared and waiting to use one over the other depending on the outcome of the final games. Fortunately, almost all the Cinderella teams that could only get into the Field of 68 by qualifying automatically lost yesterday. Colorado, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Cincinnati, and Central Florida helped teams like Wake Forest, BYU, and Xavier feel a little better when they bowed out of their tournaments. Indiana probably worked their way into the field by topping Michigan and Illinois, so the Hoosiers can win or lose today and tomorrow and not change the teams getting bids.

There are still some potential bid-stealers where the top seed could lose and still get an at-large bid, but if the top seed wins, the conference in question will not receive the extra bid. In the Atlantic 10, Davidson is now a lock to make the field without winning their tournament. If Saint Louis wins today, or if today’s Richmond-Dayton winner beats Davidson tomorrow, the A-10 will get one extra team in the field, and one bubble will burst. In the American Athletic, should Tulane upset Houston today and then beat the winner of today’s SMU-Memphis game, the AAC will receive an extra bid, and another bubble will burst. If Tulane is put out of the tournament today, then the only game that will affect the 68 teams tomorrow would be the A-10 Championship Game. That game should end between 2:45 and 3:00 PM EDT, so our final projections should publish soon after the conclusion of that game and possibly earlier if this game is a blowout.

March 11, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Friday, March 11, 2022

Friday’s Conference Tournament Games
American Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals
Fort Worth, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
MemphisCentral Florida7.1
Atlantic 10 Conference–Quarterfinals
Washington, D.C.
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
St. BonaventureSaint Louis-1.9
Atlantic Coast Conference–Semfinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
DukeMiami (Fla.)9.0
North CarolinaVirginia Tech0.9
Big 12 Conference Semifinals
Kansas City
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Texas TechOklahoma6.2
Big East Conference–Semifinals
New York
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Big Sky Conference–Semifinals
Boise, ID
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Montana St.Weber St.1.0
Northern ColoradoPortland St.2.4
Big Ten Conference–Quarterfinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
WisconsinMichigan St.0.2
PurduePenn St.9.4
Big West Conference–Semifinals
Henderson, NV
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Long Beach St.UCSB-2.8
HawaiiCal St. Fullerton0.4
Conference USA–Semifinals
Frisco, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
North TexasLouisiana Tech3.4
Middle TennesseeUAB-6.6
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference–Semifinals
Atlantic City, NJ
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
St. Peter’sQuinnipiac6.4
Mid-American Conference–Semifinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Kent St.Ohio-1.5
Mideastern Athletic Conference–Semifinals
Norfolk, VA
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Norfolk St.Morgan St.6.9
UNC CentralCoppin St.1.9
Mountain West Conference–Semifinals
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Boise St.Wyoming2.2
Colorado St.San Diego St.-1.4
Pac-12 Conference–Semifinals
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Southeastern Conference–Quarterfinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
AuburnTexas A&M9.2
TennesseeMississippi St.6.8
Southland Conference–Semifinals
Katy, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Nicholls St.Texas A&M–CC3.8
Southeast LouisianaNew Orleans-1.6
Southwestern Athletic Conference–Semifinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Alcorn St.Alabama A&M4.6
Texas SouthernGrambling6.9
Western Athletic Conference–Semifinals
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
New Mexico St.Grand Canyon0.5
SeattleAbilene Christian-0.9

Dance Tickets Punched
1Murray St.Ohio Valley27-2
2LongwoodBig South26-6
3Loyola (Chi.)Missouri Valley25-7
5Georgia St.Sun Belt18-10
6Jacksonville St.Atlantic Sun21-10
8DelawareColonial Athletic22-12
9Wright St.Horizon21-13
10South Dakota St.Summit30-4
11GonzagaWest Coast26-3

March 10, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Thursday, March 10, 2022

Thursday’s Conference Tournaments
American Athletic Conference–1st Round
Fort Worth, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
CincinnatiEast Carolina6.1
Wichita St.Tulsa5.9
Central FloridaSouth Florida10.1
Atlantic 10 Conference–2nd Round
Washington, D.C.
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
FordhamGeorge Mason-4.6
Saint LouisLa Salle12.0
George WashingtonMassachusetts-2.3
RichmondRhode Island3.9
Atlantic Coast Conference–Quarterfinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Miami (Fla.)Boston College6.5
Notre DameVirginia Tech-1.6
North CarolinaVirginia4.2
Big 12 Conference–Quarterfinals
Kansas City
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
KansasWest Virginia9.1
Texas TechIowa St.7.1
Big East Conference–Quarterfinals
New York
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
VillanovaSt. John’s7.1
ConnecticutSeton Hall2.2
Big Sky Conference–Quarterfinals
Boise, ID
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Montana St.Sacramento St.9.9
Weber St.Montana3.3
Southern UtahPortland St.5.7
Northern ColoradoEastern Washington0.8
Big Ten Conference–2nd Round
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Michigan St.Maryland3.1
Ohio St.Penn St.5.0
Big West Conference–Quarterfinals
Henderson, NV
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Long Beach St.Cal St. Bakersfield5.2
UC-IrvineUC Santa Barbara0.9
HawaiiUC Riverside0.6
Cal St. FullertonUC Davis2.0
Conference USA–Quarterfinals
Frisco, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
North TexasRice10.4
Western KentuckyLouisiana Tech-1.2
Middle TennesseeUTEP3.6
UABFlorida Atlantic7.3
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals Continue
Atlantic City, NJ
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Mid-American Conference–Quarterfinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
ToledoCentral Michigan18.1
Kent St.Miami (O)6.3
OhioBall St.8.9
Mideastern Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals Continue
Norfolk, VA
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Morgan St.South Carolina St.2.5
UNC CentralMaryland Eastern Shore2.0
Mountain West Conference–Quarterfinals
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Boise St.Nevada6.9
Colorado St.Utah St.0.9
San DIego St.Fresno St.4.9
Pac-12 Conference–Quarterfinals
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
UCLAWashington St.7.8
Southeastern Conference–2nd Round
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Texas A&MFlorida-1.4
South CarolinaMississippi St.-3.7
Southland Conference–Quarterfinals
Katy, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Texas A&M–CCHouston Baptist6.4
New OrleansMcNeese3.5
Southwestern Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals Continue
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Florida A&MAlabama A&M1.9
Western Athletic Conference–2nd Round
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Grand CanyonSam Houston4.0
Stephen F. AustinAbilene Christian1.0

Dance Tickets Punched
1Murray St.Ohio Valley27-2
2LongwoodBig South26-6
3Loyola (Chi.)Missouri Valley25-7
5Georgia St.Sun Belt18-10
6Jacksonville St.Atlantic Sun21-10
8DelawareColonial Athletic22-12
9Wright St.Horizon21-13
10South Dakota St.Summit30-4
11GonzagaWest Coast26-3

March 9, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 5:56 am
Wednesday’s Conference Tournaments
America East Conference–Semifinals
Higher Seed at Home
Maryland Baltimore Co.Hartford6.3
Atlantic 10 Conference–1st Round
Washington, D.C.
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
La SalleSt. Joseph’s-3.2
Rhode IslandDuquesne8.9
Atlantic Coast Conference–2nd Round
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Florida St.Syracuse0.7
Wake ForestBoston College9.3
Virginia TechClemson5.1
Big 12 Conference–1st Round
Kansas City
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Kansas St.West Virginia1.2
Big East Conference–1st Round
New York
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
St. John’sDePaul6.4
Seton HallGeorgetown12.4
Big Sky Conference–1st Round
Boise, ID
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Sacramento St.Idaho3.3
Portland St.Idaho St.6.5
Eastern WashingtonNorthern Arizona8.9
Big Ten Conference–1st Round
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Penn St.Minnesota3.2
Conference USA–2nd Round
Frisco, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Louisiana TechMarshall9.2
UTEPOld Dominion3.0
Florida AtlanticSouthern Miss.12.9
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
St. Peter’sFairfield4.7
Mideastern Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals
Norfolk, VA
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Norfolk St.Delaware St.12.1
HowardCoppin St.5.8
Mountain West Conference–1st Round
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
NevadaNew Mexico4.0
Utah St.Air Force13.6
Fresno St.San Jose St.10.7
Pac-12 Conference–1st Round
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Arizona St.Stanford3.5
OregonOregon St.11.6
Washington St.California7.2
Higher Seed at Home
Southeastern Conference–1st Round
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Southland Conference–1st Round
Katy, TX
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Incarnate WordHouston Baptist-3.8
Northwestern St.McNeese-1.1
Southwestern Athletic Conference–Quarterfinals
Birmingham, AL
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Texas SouthernJackson St.5.9
Alcorn St.Prairie View2.6
Western Athletic Conference–1st Round
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Sam HoustonCalifornia Baptist3.3
Abilene ChristianUtah Valley0.4

Dance Tickets Punched
1Murray St.Ohio Valley27-2
2LongwoodBig South26-6
3Loyola (Chi.)Missouri Valley25-7
5Georgia St.Sun Belt18-10
6Jacksonville St.Atlantic Sun21-10
8DelawareColonial Athletic22-12
9Wright St.Horizon21-13
10South Dakota St.Summit30-4
11GonzagaWest Coast26-3

February 17, 2022

February Madness

This is the time of year where college basketball starts to get really interesting.  2022 is more interesting than normal.  Teams that were almost locks to be at-large tournament teams have lost multiple games and have moved down into Bubbleville.  Teams that were on the Bubble for the NIT two weeks ago have played themselves into at-large contention in just a couple weeks.  Then, there are a plethora of Mid-Major conferences where the best team has moved into contention for an at-large possibility if they do not win their conference tournament, and there are a few mid-major leagues where two or more teams have resumes worthy of consideration.  The first conference tournaments tip off in 12 days.  Here’s a quick look at the leagues for basketball fans that haven’t had the time to follow as closely as this maniac does.

Power Conferences


North Carolina lost against lowly Pittsburgh this week, and the Tar Heels are now fighting for a last 4 in spot with a dozen other teams.

Notre Dame has won 9 out of 10 games, basically against the lower half of the league but with wins over Miami and Virginia, to move to the good side of the Bubble.  The Irish have two critical road games left that can move their resume into safe territory with wins.  If they beat Wake Forest and Florida State, they will break through the Bubble and enter safe territory.

Virginia and Virginia Tech have considerable work to do to get into consideration.  UVa is 10-6/16-10, which in most years in the ACC would be enough, but not this year.

Big 12

Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Texas are safe, while TCU is close to being safe.  Kansas State is making a late charge in the league, moving from last place in January to 5th place today.  Their final 5 games are tough, and a 3-2 finish might give them enough resume boost to get the Wildcats into the field.  

Oklahoma and Iowa State are both 4-9 in the league.  I cannot remember any team 5 games under .500 in a power conference that ever got into the field of 68.  It looks like 7-11 is the ceiling for both teams.  Yet, their team sheets, as seen by the Selection Committee, still show them in strong contention for an at-large bid.

Big East

Providence, Villanova, and UConn are safe at this point, but there is a logjam after that.  Creighton, Marquette, and Xavier are on the good side of the Bubble today, but Seton Hall is 3-4 in their last 7 games and now has work to do to secure an at-large spot.

Big Ten

Rutgers is the hottest team in the nation other than Gonzaga.  From being hopeful to sneak into the NIT three weeks ago, the Scarlet Knights have knocked off Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Illinois in succession combined with prior wins over Purdue, Iowa, and Michigan.  RU is now 10-5 in the Big Ten and facing a really tough 4-game stretch, where if they split these games, they have to be moved into the at-large field and high enough to avoid having to go to Dayton for a First Four game.

Indiana has fallen off the mat with four consecutive losses to drop to 7-8 in the league.  They are now in the danger field.


This is an interesting process.  First-year Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd might be the national Coach of the Year, and he makes the Mark Few coaching tree look sturdy.  The Wildcats are vying for a #1 seed,  UCLA, Oregon, and USC should also be in the field, but they still need to win some games.  Unless another team wins the automatic bid, it doesn’t appear like the Pac-12 will go beyond four teams, and it could fall to three if Oregon drops some games in the final fortnight.  Washington, Washington State, Colorado, and Stanford sit just below the threshold of contention.  If one of these teams were to win out in the regular season, they could get into contention with a couple of conference tournament wins.


The big news here is that Florida has played itself out of the field for now after losing at home to Texas A&M.  The Gators are now 6-7 in the league and have a tricky closing schedule and just one big win all season.  Michael White’s job security is getting thinner and thinner as his teams tend to underachieve again and again.  Following Billy Donovan has been tough, and this could be the year the Gators decide to move on to another situation.

The rest of the league is pretty well set.  Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU, and Alabama are safe.  None of the rest of the league can work themselves into an at-large situation and can only get into the field as an automatic bid.

Mid-Majors (and Low-Majors)

American Athletic

Houston has been safely in the field for weeks.  Their seed line has dropped from a 2 to maybe a 5 or 6.  SMU is on the Bubble but likely looking at a high NIT seed unless the Mustangs can beat Memphis at home and then knock off Houston on the road.  Memphis has worked themselves back into contention after suffering through a horrific January.

America East

This is a one-bid leage (OBL), and if anybody other than Vermont wins the conference tournament, it will be a big shame.  Stony Brook has been banned from the post-season tournament for announcing its move out of the league.  If the Catamounts don’t win the bid, whoever does is likely looking at a #16 play-in game in Dayton.

Atlantic 10

Davidson has not done enough to guarantee themselves an at-large spot should they not win the automatic bid.  Dayton, VCU, Saint Louis, and St. Bonaventure are co-contenders with the Wildcats for the possible one bid.  Keep an eye on the Billikens; they probably have the most complete team in the A-10.

Atlantic Sun

If you are a basketball maniac like me, you should cheer for Bellarmine to win the automatic bid in this OBL.  The Knights, with long-time coach Scott Davenport.  I know Scott from the past.  He was Allan Houston’s high school coach at Louisville Ballard, and I think he is the last former Denny Crum assistant to be in college basketball.  He also worked for Rick Pitino at UL.  He took over the Bellarmine program when the Knights were still Division 2, and he won a national championship.  The Knights have a unique playing style, a five-out motion offense similar to the old Princeton offense under Pete Caril.  They put a big scare in close losses to Saint Mary’s and UCLA and are battle-tested with other games against Gonzaga, Murray State, and Purdue.  

Liberty was leading the A-Sun for most of the year until a couple losses moved the Flames down to third place.  Jacksonville State (from Alabama not Florida) is currently in first in the league.  Their coach, Ray Harper, has had a controversial career, where he was accused of verbal and other abuse during his tenure at Western Kentucky, but he won big there.  He’s stayed out of the headlines at JSU, and the Gamecocks are the team to beat in the league tournament.

Keep an eye on Jacksonville (The one in Florida where Artis Gilmore played).  First-year coach Jordan Mincy has done an admirable job with the Dolphins.  He’s just 35 years old and has a rep for being a great recruiter.  He probably has an long and successful career ahead. and JU has to be considered the Dark Horse to win the league tournament.

Florida Gulf Coast is playing their best ball at the present, and they have sneaked into the upper division.  

Big Sky

The league has five teams that are rather evenly matched and all talented enough to play a high-seeded favorite close enough to put a scare in them.  Montana State is 16-1 since early December, but the Bobcats begin a rough three-game road trip tonight.  Weber State and Southern Utah could sneak past MSU if the road trip proves to be trouble.

Big South

This is a two-team race between Longwood and perpetual contender Winthrop.  The best the Big South can hope for this year is a #16 seed that avoids a play-in game in Dayton.  Winthrop has a road win against Washington, but the Huskies were not in great shape at the time of that game.

Big West

Covid affected this league more than most other leagues, and thus the conference standings have been overly skewed.  This is an OBL, so it will be all about the conference tournament.  Defending champion UCSB is in 7th place with a 4-5 league mark, but they have won three games in a row.  Perpetual contender UC-Irvine started 1-3 but has reeled off six consecutive wins to move to 7-3 and 4th place.  I’d put my money on the Anteaters as the top contender for the bid.  The three teams ahead of UCI in the standings, Long Beach State, Cal St. Fullerton, and Hawaii have decent talent, but UCI is the superior team.

Colonial Athletic

Considering this is another OBL, it has been an interesting race to this point with four equally talented teams emerging as the co-favorites.  Towson looked like a potential runaway winner in the conference race into late January, but in the last three weeks, UNC-Wilmington has been the hot team, and the Seahawks have won 15 of their last 17 games.  They are a small team, mostly guards and a tough matchup for bigger teams that cannot match UCW’s quickness.

Speedy Claxton is one incredible gentleman.  He was a big star at Hofstra, playing for a conference championship team under coach Jay Wright before Wright went to Villanova.  After having a semi-successful NBA career, Claxton returned to his alma mater as head coach.  When the Pride needed a better arena, Claxton wrote a sizable check to make it happen.  When longtime coach Joe Mihalich retired last year, Claxton took over the Hofstra program and has the Pride in 3rd place in the CAA.

Conference USA

North Texas and UAB are both potential Bubble teams at this point.  UNT has won 10 games in a row and sits at 11-1/18-4.  The Mean Green has a tough man-to-man defense that forces opponents to use all of the shot clock on many possessions.  The Blazers are the better offensive team but not as consistent at UNT.  There are at least four other CUSA teams strong enough to win the automatic bid. 

Middle Tennessee State has a nice history of upsetting big teams in the Dance, and current Coach Nick McDevitt took UNC-Asheville to a Big Dance from about the same spot the Blue Raiders sit today.

Sixth place UTEP and seventh place Western Kentucky cannot be ignored in the conference tournament.  The Miners, under first year coach Joe Golding, are a team nobody wants to play.  Their pressing defense has become stronger and stronger as the players gain the experience playing it.  Golding made Abilene Christian a tough out.


Oakland appeared to be running away with the league championship in January, but they came back to the rest of the pack.  This is another OBL, and the conference tournament should be quite exciting, because there are at least six teams that can win it.  Third place Northern Kentucky has won 9 of their last 10, and I think they are the team to beat in March.


This league only invites the top 4 teams to its fledgling postseason tournament.  Yale, Penn, and Princeton are rather secure at this point, but the fourth spot is still up for grabs between Cornell, Brown, and Harvard.  If any team other than Yale wins the tournament, they are looking at a #16 seed.  Yale is probably a #15 seed.  Princeton has the most talent.

Metro Atlantic

Rick Pitino is doing it again.  He has taken Iona back to the heights it enjoyed under Jim Valvano 40+ years ago.  The Gaels looked to possibly run the table in the MAAC until they fell in consecutive road games to Niagara and Siena.  Iona still has a multi-game lead over the rest of the league and will be the #1 seed in the MAAC Tournament.  If you are looking for a potential upset team, it has to be Monmouth, where Coach King Rice tends to have his undermanned team playing in peak form in March.


Toledo and Ohio will be the number one seeds out of the two divisions, and one of the two should win MACtion in Cleveland.  Both teams have just enough talent to pull off a first round upset in the Big Dance.

Mid-Eastern Athletic

The MEAC has been wounded by defections to other conferences and now has just eight teams left.  Norfolk State has quietly dominated this league the last 11 years, winning more than 78% of their conference games, but the Spartans have only won two conference tournaments in that time.  They did once beat Missouri in the NCAA Tournament.  Usually, the MEAC champion automatically goes to Dayton to play a first four game as a #16 seed, but Norfolk has the potential to work up to one of the top two 16-seeds this year if they can keep winning.  Of course, that means instead of having a chance to win a tourney game against another 16-seed, they will get blasted against a #1 seed in their only game.

Missouri Valley

Arch Madness in St. Louis is always fun, and the league championship game is always the first big one televised by CBS on the first Sunday of Championship Fortnight.  Loyola (Chi.) is ending their membership in the league at the end of this season, but the folks in the MVC, led by a long-time acquaintance in Commissioner Jeff Jackson, didn’t ban the Ramblers from Arch Madness.  Loyola is firmly an at-large candidate if they do not win Arch Madness, and this year, the tournament will be loaded with good teams capable of cutting down the nets.  

Drake, Missouri State, and Bradley have already defeated the Ramblers, while Northern Iowa has beaten those same three teams and still gets Loyola at home to conclude the regular season.  These five teams will make Arch Madness Madnificent.

Mountain West

Might the MWC get more teams in the Big Dance than the Pac-12?  The answer is most likely “no,” but this league will put three teams in the field with the possibility of a fourth getting in.  Boise State, Wyoming, Colorado State, and San Diego State are within one game in the loss column of each other.  If the Aztecs can finish the regular season 5-1 in their six games in two weeks dash, then all four could be in line for a bid if there aren’t many Power Conference upset winners. All four of these teams have Sweet 16 talent.


Wagner has been rated highly in the NET Rankings this year, as they have a signature road win against VCU, but this is another OBL.  The Seahawks beat second place Bryant at home in overtime and still have to play the Bulldogs in Rhode Island.  One of these two should win the automatic bid.

Ohio Valley

Could the OVC be a two-bid league this year, as they have been multiple times in the past?  Murray State has the best overall record in D1 basketball at 24-2 and is 14-0 in the league.  Should the Racers be upset in the OVC Tournament, then yes, this is definitely a two-bid league.  Additionally, if Murray State wins the league tourney, and they beat Belmont in the Championship Game, and Belmont has a record of 26-7 or 27-6, then the Bruins might sneak into the field as an 11 or 12-seed playing in a First Four game.  Belmont has wins over Drake, Iona, and Saint Louis, all away from Nashville, plus a win at home over Chattanooga.  The Bruins still must play at Murray.

Patriot League

Colgate is 12-1 in their last 13 games, and the Raiders look to have returned to their lofty elite position they enjoyed last year in the PL.  They do have one nice road win, topping Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, but this is most likely a one and done team if they win the automatic bid, even if the Raiders are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation.  They will get manhandled in the paint by a bigger opponent.

Navy and Boston U have enough talent to win the automatic bid.  If either does win, they will most likely be a 16-seed or at best, the weakest 15-seed.


The SoCon has frequently been overlooked in the past, especially once Davidson left the league.  Chattanooga is definitely a team that must be shown respect, as the Mocs have an above average offense and defense.  UC has swept second place Furman in the regular season, and there is the old saying that it is hard to beat a good team three times in one season.  The Mocs might have to do just that to get a Dance ticket.


This poor league was decimated by the loss of its best teams to the WAC, and now, this may be the weakest of the D1 conferences.  New Orleans, Nicholls State, and Southeast Louisiana are the only three teams with winning conference records, but 6th place Texas A&M-Corpus Christi may actually be the best team.  Regardless of the eventual winner, they will play in Dayton in a First Four game.

Summit League

Do you remember last year?  Fourth place Oral Roberts finished the regular season at 10-6 in the league and just 13-10 overall.  The Golden Eagles then upset South Dakota State in the Summit Semis and topped North Dakota State in the Summit Championship Game to sneak into the field as a 15-seed.  They then upset 2-seed Ohio State and 7-seed Florida to make the Sweet 16, where they faced a heavily favored Arkansas team and took the Razorbacks to the buzzer, losing by two.

ORU is in second place in the league at the present time at 11-3, but three games behind what looks like a potential Sweet 16 team in South Dakota State.  Even with the 2021 success, this league is an OBL, because neither team has the strength of schedule or strength of record to get an at-large bid.  

From deep in the pack, keep an eye on Western Illinois.  The Leathernecks’ style of play will keep them loose in tournament action, and if they can pull off a quarterfinal upset, they will get the confidence and have the momentum to do more.

Sun Belt

Of the Low-major leagues, this one has the most parity, and it will be a crap shoot to predict the automatic bid winner in this OBL.  Nine of the 12 teams can make it to the SBC Championship Game.  If I had to choose one team in the bottom half of any conference to win their league’s conference tournament, it would be here in the SBC.  Coastal Carolina is in 8th place at 5-7 in the league and 13-11 overall, but this is the deep dark horse in my opinion.  Aged veteran coach Cliff Ellis has been coaching college basketball for 50 years, and I was there watching his tiny Cumberland College in Lebanon, TN, in the early 1970’s.   He’s been the head coach at South Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, and CCU and has taken all four schools to the NCAA Tournament, a combined 10 times.  

The actual co-favorites for this conference are Texas State, Appy State, and Troy.  Texas State has won a lot of close games, and the Bobcats lead the race at the moment.  Appy State has the best backcourt, but they lack inside muscle.  Troy has the best inside muscle but is lacking in the backcourt.

Southwestern Athletic

The SWAC teams must schedule a lot of paycheck games to fund their basketball programs, so their records are never great.  In fact, some past NCAA Tournament teams have lost 10 more games than they won out of conference.  With the addition of two former MEAC teams and the expansion in the number of conference games, the SWAC overall records are a little better this year.  15-10 Southern could actually avoid Dayton if they win out.  Texas Southern is 11-11, but in their numerous paycheck games, they own a 15-point win at Florida.  The Tigers kept it close in road games against Oregon, Saint Mary’s, Washington, BYU, and North Carolina State.  Coach Johnny Jones has taken three different schools to the Dance and has the favorite to do so again this year.

Western Athletic

If I was offered a free tournament pass to see all the games in a Mid-Major league this year, the WAC would be the one I chose.  Of course, the tournament is in Las Vegas, but there is another reason to make this one my choice.

The WAC gained a bunch of quality teams when they raided the Southland, and now this 13-team league has seven rather strong teams competing for the league’s one bid.  There are interesting little stories to each of the teams.

Seattle is leading the league today with a record of 11-2 in the WAC and 20-6 overall.  The Redhawks are playing under an interim head coach, Chris Victor, after their former coach was forced to resign after making racist statements.  Seattle has actually made it to the National Championship in the distant past, as one of the 10 greatest players in the game’s history, Elgin Baylor, took the school to the finals, where they fell to Adolph Rupp’s “Fiddlin’ Five” last national champions at Kentucky.

New Mexico State is a year removed from being a travel squad, as the Aggies had to leave New Mexico and hole up in a motel in Arizona for months just to play a handful of games.  NMSU is 10-2/21-4 led by my #1 Mid-Major head coach in Chris Jans, and the Aggies present significant matchup problems with their size and quickness.

Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin dominated the Southland Conference for many years, and the two Lone Star State teams are doing just fine playing in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, even better playing their new rivals at home.  Ask Kansas and Bill Self about playing SFA.  He wants nothing more of them after watching the Lumberjacks come into Allen Fieldhouse and take KU to the final minutes.

Grand Canyon, Abilene Christian, and Utah Valley might be leading five or six other Mid-Major/Low-Major leagues this year.  ACU still has the great pressure defense they had under former coach Joe Golding when they won last year’s Southland Tourney.  GCU may be a tad stronger this year than last year, after they won both the regular season and conference tournament.  Utah Valley has the top big man in the league in Fardaws Aimaq, who averages 19.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game.

West Coast

Should this league still be considered a Mid-Major?  Along with the AAC, the WCC is one of the top eight leagues and should be considered a power conference.  Gonzaga is number one in the nation, looking at another 1-seed.  Saint Mary’s and San Francisco are also at-large worthy, while Santa Clara and BYU both have the potential to get back into the at-large discussion.  

Look out for USF in the NCAA Tournament.  Todd Golden’s Dons have senior leadership along with a team that knows how to take care of the ball and play cohesively as a team.  USF played Gonzaga tough in Spokane and gets a rematch with the Bulldogs a week from today.  Golden might be on an expedited path to a big time job.  With his past ties to Bruce Pearl, he could easily coach east of the Mississippi River as well as west.

January 3, 2022

PiRate Ratings Bracketology

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:27 am
4TexasIllinoisMichigan St.USC
5Ohio St.AlabamaUCLAConnecticut
6Texas TechLoyola (Chi.)IowaXavier
7Iowa St.ProvidenceSeton HallColorado St.
8Virginia TechBYUNorth CarolinaFlorida
9MichiganWisconsinSan FranciscoMississippi St.
10OklahomaSaint Mary’sIndianaClemson
11West VirginiaMemphisNorthwesternMinnesotaArkansasFlorida St.
13IonaNew Mexico St.OhioTowson
14WagnerOaklandNavySouth Dakota St.
16Georgia St.Nicholls St.Southern UtahTexas SouthernCampbellHoward

First Four Out

San Diego St.
Central Florida

Next Four Out

Wake Forest
Boise St.
Washington St.
Texas A&M
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