The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 13, 2018

Bracketnomics 505: 2018 NCAA Tournament

Today’s PiRate Ratings for NCAA Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Radford Long Island 5.6
UCLA St. Bonaventure 2.3

 

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 course for 2018.  Please note that if you have seen past Bracketnomics posts on this forum, they are now obsolete.  Only the current 2018 version is up to date with our current philosophy and criteria for picking teams.

We are sure that the old method still has some merit, but we believe the game has evolved thanks to advanced statistical metrics changing the way the game is played and the reduction of the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds.  Although it will not be used in the NCAA Tournament, the NIT will experiment with the clock resetting only to 20 seconds when there is an offensive rebound off a missed shot.

If you did not read our Class 1 feature from Monday, you might wish to go back and read it before you begin to look at our data.  It will make it easier to understand.

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/bracketnomics-505-for-2018-first-class/

Let’s start looking at raw data.

This first list shows the True Shooting % Margins, R+T Ratings, and Schedule Strength Numbers.  Keep an eye on the following:

  1. A True Shooting % Margin of +5% or better
  2. An R+T Rating of 12 or better
  3. A Strength of Schedule Rating of 55.0 or better

 

Team W-L Avg Score TS% Diff R+T SOS
Alabama 19-15 72-70 3.92 2.3 60.27
Arizona 27-7 81-71 7.16 16.9 56.62
Arizona St. 20-11 84-75 3.74 5.6 55.90
Arkansas 23-11 81-76 2.27 5.2 59.78
Auburn 25-7 83-73 3.07 13.0 57.82
Bucknell 25-9 81-73 6.39 5.2 47.73
Buffalo 26-8 85-77 4.40 9.9 49.69
Butler 20-13 79-73 1.11 9.8 60.34
Cal St. Fullerton 20-11 73-72 4.49 6.2 48.16
Charleston 26-7 75-69 3.31 5.4 47.05
Cincinnati 30-4 75-57 8.51 23.1 55.59
Clemson 23-9 73-66 5.91 7.0 59.63
Creighton 21-11 84-75 8.21 5.6 59.32
Davidson 21-11 76-68 6.95 7.5 52.99
Duke 26-7 85-70 9.63 21.8 61.10
Florida 20-12 76-69 1.68 4.6 60.47
Florida St. 20-11 82-75 4.18 10.8 58.25
Georgia St. 24-10 75-67 5.06 2.4 47.91
Gonzaga 30-4 85-67 9.69 23.1 53.33
Houston 26-7 77-65 6.55 19.0 55.10
Iona 20-13 80-76 2.89 -1.2 48.61
Kansas 27-7 82-71 8.48 5.1 61.40
Kansas St. 22-11 72-68 3.19 0.9 59.25
Kentucky 24-10 77-70 4.87 11.6 60.74
Lipscomb 23-9 83-78 1.80 10.4 46.08
Long Island 18-16 78-77 3.11 3.4 42.66
Loyola (Chi.) 28-5 72-62 10.23 7.2 50.49
Marshall 24-10 84-79 6.45 -4.8 48.72
MD-Baltimore Co. 24-10 73-71 1.21 3.3 45.34
Miami (Fla.) 22-9 74-68 3.10 6.5 58.19
Michigan 28-7 75-64 5.38 10.3 59.49
Michigan St. 29-4 81-65 14.22 19.9 58.10
Missouri 20-12 74-68 7.35 8.1 59.05
Montana 26-7 78-69 2.09 17.5 47.91
Murray St. 26-5 77-66 9.07 16.4 47.26
Nevada 27-7 83-73 6.01 7.4 54.38
New Mexico St. 28-5 76-65 4.95 23.0 49.40
North Carolina 25-10 82-73 2.96 22.2 63.33
North Carolina St. 21-11 81-75 1.70 7.5 57.47
Ohio St. 24-8 76-67 5.83 13.6 58.53
Oklahoma 18-13 85-82 3.51 0.9 61.23
Penn 24-8 76-69 5.62 7.9 47.04
Providence 21-13 74-73 -0.23 3.6 59.66
Purdue 28-6 81-66 11.75 10.0 59.43
Radford 22-12 67-64 -0.25 10.7 45.99
Rhode Island 25-7 76-68 -0.01 10.6 53.75
San Diego St. 22-10 77-68 3.83 15.2 53.54
Seton Hall 21-11 79-73 2.51 12.0 59.54
South Dakota St. 28-6 85-74 7.08 11.7 50.20
St. Bonaventure 25-7 78-71 3.52 8.9 53.05
Stephen F. Austin 28-6 78-68 3.75 16.2 44.06
Syracuse 20-13 68-65 1.28 12.6 58.16
TCU 21-11 83-76 3.55 15.6 59.86
Tennessee 25-8 74-66 4.38 8.9 61.11
Texas 19-14 72-68 1.65 4.1 61.24
Texas A&M 20-12 75-70 4.13 12.1 60.77
Texas Southern 15-19 78-80 1.11 -1.3 44.18
Texas Tech 24-9 75-65 5.27 14.6 59.83
UCLA 21-11 82-76 4.65 6.7 56.96
UNC-Central 19-15 70-71 2.65 11.1 38.53
UNC-Greensboro 27-7 74-62 3.58 17.8 46.81
Villanova 30-4 87-71 9.78 13.3 60.47
Virginia 31-2 68-53 8.42 13.4 60.45
Virginia Tech 21-11 80-72 7.27 1.6 58.44
West Virginia 24-10 80-69 0.33 16.6 60.84
Wichita St. 25-7 83-71 5.57 22.2 56.78
Wright St. 25-9 72-66 1.88 11.6 46.41
Xavier 28-5 84-75 7.04 15.5 59.66

Did you notice that there are just 10 teams that qualified in all three categories and posted three red numbers?  In case you were wondering, the purple numbers under scoring margin represent an old metric from past years that deserves some carryover into our new plans.  Almost all Final Four teams in the last 20 years (and a large majority all time) had double digit scoring margins.

Schedule Strength is very important to us, just like class is important to thoroughbred horses about to make a run for the roses in Louisville in May.  An Allowance horse with an undefeated record running crazy fractions at lesser tracks doesn’t have a chance against the top competitors in the Blue Grass Stakes, Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, and Santa Anita Derby.  Likewise the teams from the bottom 15 conferences do not have a chance to make it to the Final Four even if they outscored their opponents by 20 points per game.

In case you were wondering about some of the Cinderella Final Four teams from the recent past (George Mason, Wichita State, Butler, and VCU), all these teams were members of conferences that finished in the top 13 in overall strength and strength of schedule.  To find the last Final Four participant that came from a conference that finished in the bottom half in strength and strength of schedule, you must go back to 1979 and Penn out of the Ivy League.

You have a great starting point.  The teams with the red numbers (and purple numbers) have the basics to get them through the early rounds.  Of course, it matters who they play in the early rounds.  We cannot just stop here and fill out our brackets with this information.

There are components of the R+T Ratings, namely rebounding margin, steals, and turnover margin.  When you combine this with true shooting percentage, and schedule strength, you begin to see a clearer picture.  Two teams can have identical r+t ratings but one could dominate on the glass and not pick up steals or force turnovers, while the other could be just a tad better than average on the glass but pick teams apart with ball-hawking defense.  Which team is better?  That is not an easy question to answer.  We have to look at each game by itself.  Will one team’s ability to rebound trump another team’s ability to force turnovers?  What if a team is playing an opponent that wins by steals and turnovers (from a full-court press defense) has played six games this year against teams that play this style of defense and is now competent against it and able to exploit it for easy points?  What if a team that does not turn the ball over much hasn’t played a full-court pressing team all year, and now in the first round, as a favorite playing a double-digit seed, the underdog is a competent pressing defensive team?

You get the picture now, so there is just a little bit left to reveal.  The champion that will emerge will have won six consecutive games.  Should we expect a team that has not already won six consecutive games this year to all of a sudden do so against the top competition?  In almost every case in the last 30 years, the eventual national champion enjoyed at least one seven-games or better winning streak, or they had two separate six-game winning streak.  The rare exceptions in 30 years failed by one game.

We will keep all this in mind as we play out the brackets.  We will start with the First Four Games in Dayton, but most bracket contests allow you to place the winners in your bracket and start when it’s down to 64.

We know that we won’t pick all the winners correctly, and as we said yesterday, you have a better chance of winning the Power Ball and Mega Millions Lotteries in the same week than you have picking a perfect bracket.  In other words, it may take centuries before it is done, if ever.  Most office pools and friendly bracket contests modify the rules and let the players pick entirely new winners after each round, so we will return with picks for Saturday and Sunday, as well as new Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four picks.

Here are some supplemental statistics that we will use to influence how we pick games after we have looked at the big data above.

W1 and W2 are the teams’ two longest winning streaks during the year.

L 12 is how the team fared in its final 12 games prior to the tournament.

Reb is rebounding margin.

Stl is average steals per game, and Opp Stl is average number of times per game the team had the ball stolen by the opponents.

TO is turnover margin.

Team W1 W2 L 12 Reb Stl Opp Stl TO
Alabama 5 4 5-7 0.32 6.41 6.59 -0.94
Arizona 9 7 9-3 7.62 4.94 6.15 -0.62
Arizona St. 12 3 5-7 -1.26 6.58 5.39 4.19
Arkansas 6 4 8-4 -1.06 6.24 4.76 3.00
Auburn 14 5 7-5 3.25 7.44 6.16 2.97
Bucknell 10 8 11-1 1.53 5.62 6.68 -0.03
Buffalo 9 6 10-2 2.53 6.38 5.79 1.41
Butler 5 4 6-6 1.33 6.73 5.15 2.97
Cal St. Fullerton 5 4 9-3 1.90 6.39 5.65 -1.10
Charleston 11 5 11-1 -0.73 5.18 3.94 2.21
Cincinnati 16 7 10-2 7.50 7.29 4.94 3.35
Clemson 10 4 7-5 2.09 5.69 5.88 -0.13
Creighton 5 4 6-6 1.13 5.66 6.06 0.56
Davidson 5 4 10-2 1.38 4.78 4.75 1.13
Duke 11 5 8-4 9.24 7.52 5.82 -0.61
Florida 6 5 6-6 -2.19 6.84 4.41 3.97
Florida St. 9 3 6-6 3.10 6.71 5.87 1.10
Georgia St. 10 4 8-4 -2.76 7.35 4.91 3.15
Gonzaga 14 6 14-0 9.00 6.44 5.06 0.97
Houston 7 5 10-2 6.88 6.42 5.06 1.12
Iona 5 4 7-5 -3.76 6.79 5.06 2.03
Kansas 7 5 9-3 0.06 6.62 5.62 1.32
Kansas St. 4 4 6-6 -3.09 7.76 5.61 2.85
Kentucky 7 4 7-5 4.76 5.62 5.71 -1.03
Lipscomb 8 4 9-3 3.91 6.47 7.03 0.41
Long Island 5 4 9-3 1.71 5.62 6.65 -2.15
Loyola (Chi.) 10 7 11-1 1.64 6.64 6.36 0.91
Marshall 5 4 10-2 -4.32 6.85 6.65 1.06
MD-Baltimore Co. 5 3 10-2 -1.41 7.53 6.38 2.74
Miami (Fla.) 10 4 7-5 0.65 6.55 5.68 1.65
Michigan 9 7 11-1 0.77 6.26 4.06 3.71
Michigan St. 14 13 11-1 10.55 4.09 6.03 -3.21
Missouri 5 5 7-5 4.53 5.16 6.50 -3.09
Montana 13 6 10-2 4.82 7.76 4.97 2.97
Murray St. 13 5 12-0 5.74 6.81 5.29 0.84
Nevada 8 7 9-3 -0.12 6.26 4.53 3.06
New Mexico St. 11 6 10-2 8.94 5.64 4.85 1.12
North Carolina 6 5 9-3 9.97 5.63 6.11 -0.46
N. Carolina St. 5 4 8-4 0.59 7.50 6.22 2.81
Ohio St. 8 5 8-4 4.63 6.03 5.16 0.47
Oklahoma 10 2 3-9 -0.71 6.58 6.81 -0.16
Penn 5 4 10-2 1.75 5.94 5.19 0.59
Providence 5 4 7-5 -0.06 6.85 6.62 0.91
Purdue 19 5 8-4 2.44 5.82 5.21 1.44
Radford 7 6 8-4 3.12 6.29 5.53 0.82
Rhode Island 16 2 8-4 0.63 7.50 5.56 5.16
San Diego St. 9 4 10-2 5.28 6.31 6.19 1.69
Seton Hall 5 5 6-6 4.38 6.28 5.94 0.00
South Dakota St. 11 8 11-1 3.68 4.97 4.76 0.65
St. Bonaventure 13 8 11-1 0.94 6.91 5.28 2.88
S.F. Austin 6 5 10-2 4.06 10.21 7.50 4.44
Syracuse 6 4 5-7 4.48 7.24 6.30 0.30
TCU 12 4 6-6 6.31 6.59 6.25 -0.10
Tennessee 6 6 9-3 1.79 6.30 5.64 1.76
Texas 4 3 5-7 -0.21 6.21 5.42 0.85
Texas A&M 7 4 7-5 5.97 5.63 6.38 -2.31
Texas Southern 7 3 9-3 -1.97 5.59 5.29 -0.88
Texas Tech 8 7 7-5 4.06 7.42 5.88 2.64
UCLA 4 4 8-4 2.44 5.72 5.94 -1.06
UNC-Central 6 5 7-5 4.88 5.12 5.12 -2.09
UNC-Greensboro 6 5 11-1 6.76 7.74 7.06 1.47
Villanova 13 9 9-3 2.88 6.68 4.56 2.74
Virginia 15 8 11-1 1.88 6.79 3.88 4.15
Virginia Tech 7 3 7-5 -1.50 5.75 5.34 1.09
West Virginia 15 3 8-4 3.44 8.03 5.47 5.18
Wichita St. 7 7 9-3 9.88 4.69 5.88 0.00
Wright St. 8 4 9-3 2.97 6.65 5.82 2.15
Xavier 10 9 10-2 7.12 5.85 6.61 -1.06

When we add all our major and supplemental criteria together, we get a raw score.  We have tested some basic data scoring that we will not attempt to explain here, as it would bore you to sleep, but here are the 14 teams that came out of the test with indications that they have the talent and class to win the national championship.  While they are in order of grade score, you cannot automatically assume that the top team is the very best; actually the top eight finished in a statistical dead heat.  Here is the list of 14 teams with national championship caliber statistics.  The top Eight are shown in Crimson.

Cincinnati
Gonzaga
Houston
Texas Tech
Duke
Villanova
Virginia
Ohio St.
Wichita St.
West Virginia
Michigan St.
Purdue
Kansas
Michigan

Here are the tip-off times and TV schedules for the First Four and Round of 64, followed by our bracket picks based on the new criteria.

The First Four Games In Dayton 

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:40 PM 16 Radford 16 Long Island Dayton, OH truTV
9:10 PM 11 UCLA 11 St. Bonaventure Dayton, OH truTV
         
Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:40 PM 16 UNC-Central 16 Texas Southern Dayton, OH truTV
9:10 PM 11 Arizona St. 11 Syracuse Dayton, OH truTV

Round of 64

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Rhode Island 10 Oklahoma Pittsburgh CBS
12:40 PM 3 Tennessee 14 Wright St. Dallas truTV
1:30 PM 4 Gonzaga 13 UNC-Greensboro Boise, ID TNT
2:00 PM 1 Kansas 16 Penn Wichita, KS TBS
2:45 PM 2 Duke 15 Iona Pittsburgh CBS
3:10 PM 6 Miami (Fla.) 11 Loyola (Chi.) Dallas truTV
4:00 PM 5 Ohio St. 12 South Dakota St. Boise, ID TNT
4:30 PM 8 Seton Hall 9 North Carolina St. Wichita, KS TBS
6:50 PM 1 Villanova 16 LIU/Radford Pittsburgh TNT
7:10 PM 5 Kentucky 12 Davidson Boise, ID CBS
7:20 PM 6 Houston 11 San Diego St Wichita, KS TBS
7:27 PM 3 Texas Tech 14 Stephen F. Austin Dallas truTV
9:20 PM 8 Virginia Tech 9 Alabama Pittsburgh TNT
9:40 PM 4 Arizona 13 Buffalo Boise, ID CBS
9:50 PM 3 Michigan 14 Montana Wichita, KS TBS
9:57 PM 6 Florida 11 St. Bon./UCLA Dallas truTV
Friday, Mar 16, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Texas A&M 10 Providence Charlotte CBS
12:40 PM 2 Purdue 15 Cal St. Fullerton Detroit truTV
1:30 PM 4 Wichita St. 13 Marshall San Diego TNT
2:00 PM 2 Cincinnati 15 Georgia St. Nashville TBS
2:45 PM 2 North Carolina 15 Lipscomb Charlotte CBS
3:10 PM 7 Arkansas 10 Butler Detroit truTV
4:00 PM 5 West Virginia 12 Murray St. San Diego TNT
4:30 PM 7 Nevada 10 Texas Nashville TBS
6:50 PM 8 Creighton 9 Kansas St. Charlotte TNT
7:10 PM 3 Michigan St. 14 Bucknell Detroit CBS
7:20 PM 1 Xavier 16 UNC-Central/Tx Sou. Nashville TBS
7:27 PM 4 Auburn 13 Charleston San Diego truTV
9:20 PM 1 Virginia 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TNT
9:40 PM 6 TCU 11 Ariz. St./Syracuse Detroit CBS
9:50 PM 8 Missouri 9 Florida St. Nashville TBS
9:57 PM 5 Clemson 12 New Mexico St. San Diego truTV

 

BRACKET FILLING TIME

Play-in Round

Radford vs. Long Island

There isn’t much difference here between the two teams, as the winner will quickly exit stage right after Thursday.

Radford has a slight rebounding edge and somewhat larger turnover and steals edge with a slightly better strength of schedule.  It isn’t an overwhelming edge in any case, but it is enough to list a favorite by about 60%

Our Pick: Radford

 

UCLA vs. St. Bonaventure

Games like this are supposed to be toss-ups, and in this case, we could see where the margin stays close throughout as the two teams struggle to get spurts that will put them in control.

St. Bonaventure enters this game riding a hot hand where a long winning streak ended in a semifinal round loss to Davidson in the A-10 Tournament.  UCLA almost didn’t make it in the tournament, and an end of season win over USC most likely put the Bruins in and Trojans out.

In almost every statistical category, the advantages one team has over the other are minimal.  The only game-swinging stat that could make this outcome predictable is the turnover margin.  UCLA has a negative turnover margin, while the Bonnies have a knack for stealing the ball.  It’s just enough to go with the team from Olean by a couple points.

Our Pick: St. Bonaventure

 

North Carolina Central vs. Texas Southern

This will be an exciting game for more than the obvious reason that it will allow the winner a chance to advance to Friday.  This game matches up the tournament champions from the two Historically Black Colleges and University conferences that play division 1 basketball.  Legendary Hall of Fame Coach John McLendon made UNC Central a small college basketball power similar to Kentucky and North Carolina in present times.  Texas Southern was an NAIA power in the 1970’s before moving to Division 1, and as a D1 school, the Tigers produced one of the most exciting and prolific combination scorers and rebounders in NCAA history.  Harry “Machine Gun” Kelly was the first player in NCAA Division 1 history to score more than 3,000 points in his career and gather more than 1,000 rebounds.

Now that we hope you are pumped up about this game, expect possibly the best game of the Dayton foursome.  UNC-Central has the better statistical resume, but TSU played a considerably harder schedule.  Neither team has a chance of knocking off the top-seed Xavier on Friday.  We are going to take UNC-Central in a close game for one reason only.  Texas Southern has a negative R+T rating, and our PiRate Rating rule is to always go against any team with a negative R+T rating as long as the opponent has a postivie R+T rating.  This means that Central will benefit from extra scoring opportunities in this game, in this case about six more.  TSU does not have a high enough true shooting percentage to make up for this probably seven-point swing.

Our Pick: UNC-Central

 

Arizona St. vs. Syracuse

Both teams must feel fortunate that they squeaked into the tournament.  According to actual selection, Arizona St. is the 66th team and Syracuse is the 68th team, but NCAA Tournament rules state that teams from the same conference cannot play against each other until the Elite 8, and Arizona St. moved up one spot as team 65, so that they would not play #67 UCLA, a conference rival.

When you talk about playing Syracuse with little time to prepare, you have to give the Orangemen a little bit of vigorish due to the difficulty preparing for their multiple 2-3 zone schemes.  Just when you think you have it figured out, they switch how they play the zone.  It is like preparing for a football game against Navy on very short notice.

Syracuse is going to control the boards in this game, so the Sun Devils will need to capitalize on hitting a high percentage of the few open shots that present themselves when ASU solves the zone and finds a hole.  The Sun Devils will need to ramp up the pressure man-to-man defense in hopes of forcing Syracuse into a couple extra turnovers.

There isn’t much to choose from when trying to separate these two teams, but the one glaring advantage in this game is schedule strength, and that is how we will select a winner in this one.

Our Pick: Syracuse 

 

Round of 64

Virginia vs. Maryland-Baltimore Co.

We could just issue the obvious pick, and you know which team that will be, but we want to include reasons in every game so you can begin to instinctively know how we do what we do.  It is our hope that by the Sweet 16 round that most of you will know before reading which teams we are going to select.

UMBC has struggled at times to get open looks against America East Conference opponents.  What do you think will happen when they go up against the best halfcourt defense in the country?  The Retrievers will see the Cavaliers retrieving all the missed shots, and then UVa will work the ball for high percentage shots.  It would not surprise us at all if the margin exceeded 30 points in this game.  Virginia has a huge R+T advantage and if the shooting percentage difference wasn’t enough, the Cavs will get about 10 extra scoring opportunities.  If the starters stay in the game long enough, the score could be doubled.  Even with the reserves seeing double digit minutes, a 75-40 score would not be surprising.

Our Pick: Virginia 

 

Creighton vs. Kansas St.

Eight-Nine games are supposed to be close, but in this case we believe it is a mismatch.  Using our criteria, the Blue Jays should dominate this game.  Let’s start with the strength of schedule for the teams–it is almost identical (less than .1 points per game).  This makes statistical analysis much easier.

Creighton enjoys considerable superiority in true shooting percentages and R+T rating, which makes this a simple open and shut case.  We expect a double-digit win.

Our Pick: Creighton

 

Kentucky vs. Davidson

Kentucky coach John Calipari is hopping mad.  His Wildcats won the SEC Tournament, and they got shipped to the Frozen potato fields of Boise.  It was obvious that their five-seed had already been bestowed upon the Blue Mist prior to the game with Tennessee on Sunday.

Davidson was the team that forced all Bracketologists to compile two final seed lists and wait until Sunday afternoon’s contest with Rhode Island concluded.  The Wildcats’ statistical metrics improved continually from early January until the present time.  If you throw out their November and December games and only include the stats from that point on, they look like a lively team capable of pulling off another one of those 12 versus 5 upsets.

This Kentucky team has not been all that consistent.  There isn’t really a point in the season where you can isolate many consecutive games where their statistical metrics say they have a chance to run the table.  Even the conference tournament showed they cannot play a 40-minute game.  This isn’t the Fiddling Five of 1958, where one big spurt leads the Wildcats to victory.  This group is more like the ADHD Five.  They hit long stretches where they don’t seem to be following Cal’s script.

It won’t matter much in this game.  Cal if angry, and his team will respond at least in this first game.  Kentucky has too much muscle inside for Davidson to put together a long string of successful possessions.  The K-Cats will block shots and limit Davidson to one shot per possession too many times for the D-Cats.  Davidson will have a difficult time stopping Kentucky’s inside game, and when they stuff the lane, Kentucky will hit enough three-pointers to force DC to extend their defense.

Our Pick: Kentucky 

 

Arizona vs. Buffalo

Buffalo might have been a trendy upset pick if the Bulls had pulled a more favorable first-round opponent.  The Wildcats have just a little too much inside power for the Bulls to stop enough times to challenge for the upset.  In our minds, Arizona was seeded a little lower than their resume shows.  They should have been at least a 3-seed if not a 2-seed.  The Pac-12 did not get much respect, and the FBI issue may have psychologically discounted the team a little in the Selection Committee room.

This is the only Pac-12 team with statistical metrics capable of moving to the Final Four.  Arizona’s stat sheet is one that shows staying power.  They meet our qualifications of a “Complete Team,” as they have favorable true shooting percentage, R+T rating, and schedule strength.

Our Pick: Arizona

 

Miami (Fla.) vs. Loyola (Chi.)

This is the first game in order of the released bracket where the decisive underdog has a legitimate chance to pull of the upset.  If Loyola’s strength of schedule was just a fraction stronger, we would make the Ramblers the definite favorite in this game.  As it is, we think it is a 50-50 toss-up, so keep that in mind when you see our pick for this game and feel free to go the other way if you have valid reasons.

Miami limped through the last month of the regular season.  The Hurricanes peaked in November and December and never could regain the consistency they had at the beginning of the season.

Loyola went the other way.  As the season continued, the Ramblers improved.  By mid-February, they had become what Wichita State once was in the Valley–the dominant team without a serious rival.

Loyola has superior true shooting percentage margin and R+T rating, better by enough to overcome Miami’s superior schedule strength.  The Hurricanes do not help themselves in rebounding or gaining possession by turnover, and their stay in the 2018 version of March Madness will end either here or in the next round.

As we try to pick this toss-up game we go with the team with the momentum and the excitement of returning to the field after a long time with players that are hungry and confident.

Our Pick: Loyola (Chi.) 

 

Tennessee vs. Wright St.

On the few occasions where a 14 or 15 seed pulls off the big first round upset, that team has players that are quick and dangerous ball-hawkers that can fast break and get cheap baskets.  Wright State does not meet this requirement.  They are a more patient, balanced team that takes advantage of the opponent’s miscues and slowly opens up a nice but not huge lead.

Tennessee is not going to give the Raiders much of a chance to slowly open up any lead.  The Volunteers have superiority over WSU in schedule strength by a large margin, as Tennessee’s opponents overall averaged more than 15 points per game stronger than those that played the Raiders.  Tennessee’s true shooting percentage margin will be more than enough to make this game a blow out, but the Vols also have the better R+T rating when weighted against their superior schedule.  Expect to see Rick Barnes go deep into his bench in the second half.

Our Pick: Tennessee

 

Nevada vs. Texas

If you know anything about barbecue contests, you know that brisket is the most difficult part of the contest to master.  It takes a long time to perfect the method.  There isn’t much room for temperature variation, and the rub and mop have to be just right.  You don’t get much wiggle room.  College basketball at the big time is similar to barbecuing a brisket.  Chef Eric Musselman of Team Nevada created perfect briskets all season long until last week.  His most recent brisket came out of the old Pitts and Spitts inedible.  The judges couldn’t even bite into the sample piece, as a new leader of the old successful barbecue team in San Diego took home all the trophies.

What do we make of this?  Will Team Wolf Pack recover and cook a tender, juicy flavorful brisket in the big Music City BBQ contest?

The other participant in this game used to create championship briskets with his mustard based sauce that he called “Havoc.”  Chef Shaka Smart didn’t have the essential ingredients in the Lone Star State this year, and he had to change his recipe to a vinegar base sauce.  It wasn’t as tasty or tender, but the brisket still got him placement on the stage.  Chef Smart may have done his best work considering the grade of beef he had at the start, but now all that matters is the final product.

Which brisket will be better?  Let’s look at the ingredients.  The quality of the beef, aka schedule strength, favors the Longhorns, and the advantage is healthy and something to give serious consideration.  Nevada still has a slight true shooting percentage edge when schedule strength is weighted into the equation, but Texas overcomes that with an even greater R+T advantage.  Most of this advantage comes from UT’s ability to maintain control of the ball, so it will not lead to excessive extra scoring opportunities.

With this data alone, the game looks to be rather close.  However, we are going to add one intangible into the fray, and that will lead us to picking a sure winner.  Coach Musselman’s briskets have developed quite the reputation in the barbecue world.  He almost left Reno for the large BBQ joint in Berkeley, CA, last year, and at the end of the season Nevada laid an egg in their first round tournament game with Iowa St.  This year, we believe Musselman will take another job, and we believe his players feel that way too.  He has been mentioned as a finalist for the Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgia, and Ole Miss jobs, and chances are better than 50-50 that he takes one of these four.  Once again, the Wolf Pack may be a bit flat, if only at the start of the game before they recover.  Spot Shaka Smart a ten-point lead, and his teams usually find a way to hold onto it.

Our Pick: Texas

 

Cincinnati vs. Georgia St.

The Bearcats should have been a number one seed in our opinion, but the Selection Committee is charged with looking at the entire season rather than the most recent part.  Coach Mick Cronin has a real national championship contender this year, as Cinti has its best team since Ed Jucker roamed the sidelines.  This Bearcat team is better than any of Bob Huggins’ teams in the Queen City.

Georgia State is a better team today than they were in December.  The Panthers showed how much they improved during the season when they clobbered Louisiana-Lafayette and put up 106 points in the game.

GSU could play two complete games against Cincinnati, and the Panthers would struggle to score 106 total points.  The Bearcats are in a different class of opponent compared to the opponents in the Sun Belt Conference.

The stats are ugly for this game and portend a possible 40 to 50-point win if Cincinnati doesn’t call off the dogs early.  The Bearcats should receive 25 extra scoring opportunities in this game, as Georgia State had trouble rebounding against SBC competition, and Cincinnati would be expected to win the battle of the boards against almost every other team in the tournament except maybe Michigan St.

Cincinnati’s defense will hold Georgia State under 40% shooting from the field, while the Bearcats have a good chance to connect on 50% or better.  Don’t even consider that this game could be any different, unless you believe we just jinxed it.  On paper, we could see a score in the neighborhood of 85-45.

Our Pick: Cincinnati

 

Xavier vs. UNC-Central or Texas Southern

We find it quite interesting that the Selection Committee placed bitter rivals Xavier and Cincinnati in the same location for a tournament that will be played around St. Patrick’s Day.  What could go wrong when enemies of two schools staying in the same block of another town get sufficient alcohol in their systems?  Why not schedule a soccer game between Manchester United and Liverpool at the Titans’ Coliseum across the river at the same time?

There isn’t much to say about this game.  Xavier should have little trouble winning, but take note of this: we believe the Musketeers are the most vulnerable of the one-seeds in this tournament.  They have glaring weaknesses that can be exploited down the road, maybe even as soon as the next round.  Xavier can gave some trouble holding onto the ball, and they do not force many turnovers on defense, so a really good pressuring defense with decent shooters will be nothing but trouble for the Musketeers.

Our Pick: Xavier

Missouri vs. Florida St.

This game is a hard one to pick.  How do you factor Michael Porter, Jr. into the statistical comparison?  He played 20+ minutes in his return for the Tigers in their opening game tournament loss to Georgia.  He was quite rusty and still enough out of shape to show fatigue quickly.  Of course, he was also nervous playing in St. Louis, and he pressed a bit.  However, there were moments where you could see some Lebronish moves.

Florida State is very similar to Missouri in all respects, and without Porter playing for the Tigers, we would tend to give the slight edge to the Seminoles.  Therein lies the rub.  Without sneaking into Missouri’s practices or speaking directly with Porter and Coach Cuonzo Martin, we cannot begin to know if Porter will be able to move the needle in favor of his Tigers.

The key statistical factors here are a wash.  Schedule strength is the same.  Missouri has a slightly better true shooting percentage, while FSU has a slightly better R+T advantage.  Missouri’s negative turnover margin is enough to cause a bit of concern, but then having Porter at maybe 70% of his normal self is enough to put the advantage back on Missouri’s side, if only by a point or two. We are making this pick under the correct or incorrect belief that Porter will play 20+ minutes again in this game and be slightly more effective in this one.

Our Pick: Missouri

 

Ohio St. vs. South Dakota St.

South Dakota State is another double-digit seed that might have pulled off a shocker in the first round had they not drawn an opponent that matches up against them perfectly.  Ohio State can be beaten by lower-seeded teams in this tournament, and we would have gone against the Buckeyes if they had drawn Murray State.

This will still be a tough one for the quintet from Columbus to win.  SDSU is slightly weaker in true shooting percenage margin and R+T rating, but not by much.  Ohio State’s advantage here on average is about six points, which can easily be overcome by the law of averages, especially when you consider that the Jackrabbits are peaking at the right time, while the Buckeyes appear to be taking on water.  Only because Coach Chris Holtman has an excellent NCAA Tournament resume do we feel good about this selection.

Our Pick: Ohio State in a squeaker

 

Gonzaga vs. UNC-Greensboro

Is it us, or has the national media forgotten which team came within 90 seconds of winning the national championship last year and then reloaded with another powerful team that got better and better each week?

Take a look at Gonzaga’s statistical data?  The Bulldogs are just as impressive this year as they were at this time last year.  Their true shooting percentage margin is 5th best in the field of 68.  Their R+T rating is tops in the field.  They enter the Dance waltzing with a 14-game winning streak, and they meet our qualifications for a complete team.

The only reason why the Zags may not make it back to the Final Four this year is their strength of schedule just misses qualifying for our magic number of five points better than average.  They just barely qualified last year, so Gonzaga could break through and crush our qualifications.

UNC-Greensboro is not chopped liver.  They are a potentially dangerous team that just happened to luck into playing Gonzaga.  The Spartans enter the tournament riding a six-game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents by 12.3 points per game.  Their statistical data is better than the average 13-seed.  They might be expected to beat more than half of the 6 through 12 seeds in this field, but they were quite unlucky drawing the most underrated of the top 16 teams.

Our Pick: Gonzaga

 

Houston vs. San Diego St.

This should be one of the most exciting and entertaining games in this round.  These two teams know how to claw and scratch on every possession.  While the game looks to be close to a toss-up, our PiRate Criteria statistical data shows a clear favorite.

Houston has better true shooting percentage numbers, better R+T numbers, and an ever so slightly superior schedule strength.  There are no other factors strong enough to turn this game the opposite way.  Watch out for the Cougars.  They are flying under the radar and could sneak up on future opponents.

Note: CUSA rivals Cincinnati and Houston were forced to play their home games on the floors of other D1 schools this year due to renovations to their gyms.  Cincinnati played their home games across the river at Northern Kentucky, while Houston played its home games almost next door at Texas Southern.  This no real home game issue may actually help both CUSA teams.

Our Pick: Houston

Michigan vs. Montana

Michigan under John Beilein always presents us some difficulty when prognosticating games in the NCAA Tournament, and in fact it was their past recent success that led us to make the major renovations to our criteria.  They led the change in how the game is now played on the offensive end, and their old-fashioned 1960’s-style 1-3-1 trapping zone defense also presents problems.

This year, the Wolverines appear to be even stronger than last year, when they narrowly lost to Oregon in the Sweet 16.  The Maize and Blue no longer have rebounding liabilities.  Rebounding is still no major strength, but they can compete against their upstate rival without worrying about being done in on the boards.

Michigan has shored up this liability without sacrificing their typical assets.  The Wolverines can still handle the ball better than all but one or two others in this field.  They know how to get the ball inside and score within a couple feet of the basket, and they can still hit their share of three-pointers.

Montana is actually a strong team for a Big Sky member.  The Big Sky has produced some surprise teams in the past, and the Grizzlies are a formidable first round foe.  They might even lead in this game for a short period of time, but in the end, they do not have the horsed to knock off the feisty Wolverines.

Our Pick: Michigan

 

Texas A&M vs. Providence

Neither of these teams has lasting potential in the 2018 Dance.  The winner will have to face North Carolina in Charlotte in the next round, and even thogh the Tar Heels have vulnerabilities, they will make it to the Sweet 16 again.

This game looks to us to be a surprise easy victory for the superior team.  Let’s look at which team that is.  Providence is one of just two teams in the field with a negative true shooting percentage margin (oddly the other is in-state rival Rhode Island).  In order for a team that has a negative TS% margin to win, they better have an outstanding R+T rating as well as a strong strength of schedule.  The Friars’s schedule is strong enough, but their R+T rating is almost as weak as their true shooting percentage margin.

Texas A&M enjoys decent numbers in the big three stats.  Their TS% margin is healthy, as it their R+T rating, and their strength of schedule is among the top 10 in this field.

Our Pick: Texas A&M

 

North Carolina vs. Lipscomb

Welcome to your first ever Division 1 NCAA Tournament bid Bisons.  Now, your first opponent is defending national champion North Carolina, and oh, you’re going to play them in Charlotte.

What a way to get a Baptism under fire!  There is only a tiny bit of solace in Lipscomb playing the Tar Heels.  Coach Casey Alexander came from Belmont, where coach Rick Byrd took his Bruin team into Chapel Hill a few years ago and beat North Carolina.  Byrd’s Belmont team came within a point of Duke in a past NCAA Tournament, and Alexander’s style of play is a carbon copy of his mentor.

The differences in schedule strength between these two games is immense and equates to about 24 points per game difference.  North Carolina will benefit from a huge advantage on the boards, but they can also take advantage of Lipscomb’s difficulty handling pressure defense.  The Bisons almost blew a 32-point lead in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship, when Florida Gulf Coast pressed full court and forced Lipscomb into one turnover after another, as the lead was cut to five points in about 12 minutes.

Our Pick: North Carolina

 

Villanova vs. Long Island or Radford

Villanova will have a slightly tougher time against Radford than against Long Island, and we selected Radford in the First Four, so we will compare VU to Radford.

‘Nova enjoys a strength of schedule close to 20 points per game better than Radford’s schedule.  The adjustment to the rest of the statistics based on schedule strength rating gives Villanova a prohibitive advantage in all respects.  The Wildcats once again have Final Four worthy statistics.

Our Pick: Villanova

 

Virginia Tech vs. Alabama

What we have here is a toss-up game between two rather mediocre NCAA Tournament teams.  We do not expect the winner to make it past the next round.

Virginia Tech has a decisive advantage in true shooting percentage margin.  The Hokies have little R+T strength, just barely avoiding automatic non-consideration at 1.6.  However, Alabama’s R+T is not much better at 2.3, which usually doesn’t bode well in the round of 64.  Neither team would most likely beat any of the 12-seeds this year, but because they lucked into facing each other, one team must advance to the round of 32.

Our Pick: Virginia Tech (but not with much confidence)

Note: A player like Alabama’s Colin Sexton can put a team on his back and produce a win over a team like Virginia Tech, so if you believe Sexton will shine, you might want to go against us here.

 

West Virginia vs. Murray St.

Wow!  This is going to be a game to watch for sure.  Usually, when Press Virginia plays its first game against an opponent that has not played the Mountaineers in the current era, Huggy Bear’s troops have a huge advantage.  Murray State is not one of those teams.  The Racers not only should handle the press much better than the average team, they will exploit it for points.

The problem is that the full-court press defense isn’t WVU’s only weapon.  The Mountaineers know how to crash the boards, and they know how to get the ball inside for high-percentage shots when the defense is not big time tough.

Murray State will challenge in this game until the Racers show signs of fatigue.  Eventually, the Mountaineers will go on a run with their “spurtability” and win by double digits, but it will still be a fun game to watch.

Our Pick: West Virginia

 

Wichita St. vs. Marshall

This game is an excellent study in contrast between old-school toughness and the new wave of basketball sabermetrics.

Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni is all about the new way of playing the game based on the way the currently accepted best operating metrics say the game should be played.  Marshall doesn’t try to get the ball into the low post where a pivot player then tries to make a move and take a high percentage shot.  The Thundering Herd force you to guard the perimeter sometimes placing all five offensive players behind the arc.  Then, if you drop your guard, they will drive to the basket trying to stuff the ball or getting a layup.

Defensively, if you want to play old school and set up a low post player in the pivot, the Herd will invite you to try to beat them with that strategy, because their data says they have the advantage.  Marshall tries to run the fast break at any opportunity where they have the number’s advantage, and they will pull up and take the three with a number’s advantage.  It is not out of the ordinary if they take 35 three-point shots in a game.  They will hit a baker’s dozen of them, so if your strategy is to take high-percentage shots inside with a dominant post player, you have to hit 20 of 35 to beat the 13 of 35 three-pointers.

Coach Gregg Marshall is somewhat of a non-believer.  Sure, his Wichita State team will take three-point shots and run the fast break trying to get easy baskets, but the Shockers believe in getting the ball inside and preventing the opponent from doing the same.

There is something entirely different from this synopsis that makes this an easy game to pick.  Marshall has a negative R+T rating, and any negative R+T rating means we always pick the other team if the other team has a positive R+T rating.  Wichita’s R+T is not just positive; it is one of the highest in the field.  The Shockers should get an incredible 24 more scoring opportunities in this game.  Marshall would have to hit something like 20 of 35 from behind the arc to win this game.

Our Pick:  Wichita St.

 

Florida vs. St. Bonaventure or UCLA

No matter which team wins the First Four game in Dayton, Florida is a strong upset victim in this game.  The Gators have so many vulnerabilities this year that just making the tournament should be considered a successful season.  This does not mean that the Gators have no chance in this game.  It means that the play-in winner has a better than 50-50 chance of getting a second win.

Florida’s barely positive true shooting percentage margin would require a strong R+T rating to advance into the second week of the tournament.  The Gators’ R+T is just 4.6, which places UF in the bottom quarter of the field and eighth weakest among power conference participants.

Our Pick: St. Bonaventure (or UCLA if they are the opponent)

 

Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin

We don’t usually get in-state rivals playing each other in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at a venue in their home state.  Texas Tech received the benefit of being kept close to home, but then all that benefit eroded when their opponent received an equal amount of home state help.

Texas Tech has to be treated a bit differently compare to most of the other teams in this field.  They have a key player that missed a large part of the regular season, and the Red Raiders were never the same after the injury.

Prior to beefy forward Zach Smith missing five weeks of the season, Tech was 14-1 and ranked in the top 10.  With Smith out, the Raiders went just 8-6, but then when he came back, Tech only won two of their last four.

Both of those two losses were at the hands of West Virginia, and even when Tech beat the Mountaineers in Lubbock, they struggled throughout the game.  It wasn’t the full-court press that hurt Tech as much as it was that WVU had better athletes.

Stephen F. Austin is similar to WVU but without the great athletes.  Texas Tech should win this game but not look flashy.  They will play more like a well-oiled machine and continually increase their control of the game.

Our Pick: Texas Tech

 

Arkansas vs. Butler

Just looking at this matchup, one might think that Arkansas has a major advantage in this game, but we’re here to tell you that is not the case.  Because the strength of schedules between the two are basically equal, comparing the other stats becomes much easier.

True Shooting % margin: Advantage Arkansas by a minute amount

R+T Rating: Advantage Butler by a bit more amount than Arkansas’s advantage above.

Arkansas is a weaker rebounding team than Butler is a weaker defensive team, so we go against the grain here and pick the Bulldogs over the flashy Razorbacks.  It doesn’t hurt that Butler finished just behind two, number one seeds in the Dance.

Our Pick: Butler

 

Purdue vs. Cal St. Fullerton

In past years, Purdue entered NCAA Tournament play as favorites to advance far only to suffer an upset loss to a team that most basketball fans believed the Boilermakers should have easily defeated.  We here on the PiRate ship understood why Purdue lost.  We called it the Keady Effect.  Teams with head coaches from the Gene Keady tree, and Keady as well, played a style of ball that worked during the regular season when PU could romp over most of their non-conference opponents and defend their home court with great success, but it did not work in neutral court tournament situations.

Matt Painter seems to have seen the light in recent years.  His teams no longer employ Keady Ball at Purdue.  They play more like prior coach Lee Rose, and because of that the Boilermakers are dangerous, maybe coming in a little under the radar.

Purdue has the second best overall true shooting percentage margin in this tournament, and their former bugaboo, the R+T rating is now a slight asset.  It is still not outstanding, but it is now strong enough to believe Purdue could make it to the second weekend of the Dance.

Cal State Fullerton lacks the quickness and the muscle to compete in this game.  Purdue will win by 15-25 points.

Our Pick: Purdue

 

Kansas vs. Penn

If there is any chance at all that one of the 1 versus 16 games will be close and still in doubt past halftime, this will be that game.  Kansas is due for a bounce after playing three tough Big 12 Tournament games, while Penn only had to hold serve on their home floor two times.

Although we think Xavier is the likely first 1-seed to lose this year, Kansas should be the second one, because we do not see this Jayhawk team making it to the Final Four, and they may not make it to the Elite 8.

It’s not that Penn is going to make a run in this tournament.  The Quakers will not make it past this game, but they will show the rest of the field that the Big 12 champions are beatable.

Our Pick: Kansas

 

Seton Hall vs. North Carolina St.

Give Kevin Keatts two more years, and he will have a Final Four contender in Raleigh.  When you combine talent evaluation, recruiting acumen, teaching, and game-time adjustments, Keatts rates as an A+ perfect 10 coach.  We expect a championship ring in his future.

Unfortunately for Wolf Pack fans, that ring will not come in 2018.  This State team was not expected to make it to the NCAA Tournament, as the NIT was the expectation.

Seton Hall is much like Butler.  The Pirates finished tied for third in a league where the top two teams claimed number one seeds.  The Big East is a tough league, and it is hard for a team to develop what looks like on paper as dominant statistics.

There isn’t much of an advantage in this game, but Seton Hall has that advantage, and it comes from being a hair better in all the key stats.

Our Pick: Seton Hall

 

Clemson vs. New Mexico St.

Could an upper division ACC team lose in the opening round of the tournament to a WAC team?  It most certainly is possible, because New Mexico State has the talent to pull off the upset.  Clemson has a nominal true shooting percentage margin advantage, while the Aggies enjoy an equally tiny R+T Rating advantage when weighted against schedule strength.  If New Mexico State can control the boards and out-rebound CU by four or more, they can win this game.  It’s a close call, but we have to go with the chalk in this one, but you can easily play it the other way.

Our Pick: Clemson

Auburn vs. Charleston

Be forewarned:  Auburn will not advance very far in this tournament, and they are weaker than your typical number four seed.  Because the Tigers saw their lone quality big man, Anfernee McLemore, go down to injury in late February, they are more like a double-digit seed now.  Their size liability is too much to overcome, and the Tigers will actually struggle to put College of Charleston away.

Only because Charleston is weak on the boards, do we have any faith in Auburn getting to the Round of 32.  It most likely will be an ugly win with a lower than expected final score.

Our Pick: Auburn

 

TCU vs. Arizona St. or Syracuse

If Syracuse wins the play-in game like we expect they will, then the Orangemen will be our favorite to advance to the Round of 32, because TCU will not match up well with Syracuse.  If Arizona State beats Syracuse, then TCU becomes our favorite to win this game.  So, wait until the ASU-Syracuse game finishes before making this pick.

Our Pick: Syracuse over TCU or

TCU over Arizona St.

 

Michigan St. vs. Bucknell

Coach Tom Izzo must have made a sigh of relief when he saw that his Spartans drew a finesse team in the first round rather than another sparkplug team like Middle Tennessee State.

The Spartans have nothing to worry about in this game.  Bucknell is a fundamentally-sound team that doesn’t have the roster to compete with the green behemoth.  MSU will play paddy-cake on the backboards getting more offensive rebounds than Bucknell will get defensive rebounds.

You beat Michigan State by forcing the Spartans into making more turnovers than normal, and Bucknell will force considerably less, which means Izzo and company cruise to the next round with a huge pointspread, maybe 25 or more.

Our Pick: Michigan St.

 

Rhode Island vs. Oklahoma

Woe is Oklahoma.  In the first half of the season, they deserved a high seed in this tournament.  But, a team must play both halves of its season, and in the second half, the Sooners did not deserve to earn an NIT bid.  Oklahoma is the weakest Power Conference team in the field at the present time.

Rhode Island has certain big-time assets, but the Rams also have one large liability, which means their stay in this field will be short-lived, either one or two games.

We basically must go with the team that is less mediocre than the opponent, and it is hard to choose here, since both teams wear tournament mediocrity well.

Rhode Island has a negative true shooting percentage margin.  We believe that it takes a positive shooting percentage margin to have a chance to advance in this field.  However, Oklahoma just barely has a positive R+T rating.  It is so low, that we would always pick against a team with an R+T rating of 0.9 with negative rebounding and turnover margins.

Rhode Island should capitalize more on Oklahoma’s R+T weakness than Oklahoma will capitalize on URI’s true shooting percentage margin, but Oklahoma has a superior strength of schedule.  They also have the superstar player that has been known to carry a team from one or two games in tournament play, but seldom any farther.

That takes us back to where we started–this game is a push.  We here on the PiRate ship could not come to a conclusion with a 3-3 vote.  The Captain had to break the tie, and we had to wait for his text saying to go with Oklahoma, because the Sooners have played nothing but tough opponents for two months in the Big 12, while URI has faltered against Power conference teams like Alabama and Nevada.

Our Pick: Oklahoma

 

Duke vs. Iona

This isn’t your father’s Duke team.  Heck, it isn’t even Coach K’s Duke team.  The man that came from the Bob Knight coaching tree where the word “Zone” is the worst four letter word, while the other expletive is a common adjective has been forced to employ that curse word defense in Durham.

Hey, it’s working, and this is why Duke is a serious contender to go all the way to the title!  Coach K has had to carefully find the proper pieces to make the puzzle complete, and Duke could be expected to begin tournament play a bit off.

The Selection Committee gave the Blue Devils a true gift.  Iona should have been a 16-seed, but the bottom of this field is really weak this year.  Somebody had to be a 15-seed, and the Gaels lucked out into avoiding the cursed 16-seed.

It won’t matter much.  The Boys from Durham will be able to work the kinks out while experimenting with new strategies in what amounts to almost a practice game.  Duke has one of the top five R+T ratings in the field, while Iona has a negative R+T rating.  We’d go with most of the 16-seeds over Iona if they played in this round.

Our Pick: Duke

 

There you have our first round picks.  Now, here is how we filled out the rest of our brackets.  Remember, we will preview the games anew in each round.

Round of 32

Virginia over Creighton

Arizona over Kentucky

Tennessee over Loyola (Chi.)

Cincinnati over Texas

Xavier over Missouri

Gonzaga over Ohio St.

Michigan over Houston

North Carolina over Texas A&M

Villanova over Virginia Tech

West Virginia over Wichita St.

Texas Tech over St. Bonaventure

Purdue over Butler

Kansas over Seton Hall

Clemson over Auburn

Michigan St. over Syracuse

Duke over Oklahoma

 

Sweet 16

Virginia over Arizona

Cincinnati over Tennessee

Gonzaga over Xavier

North Carolina over Michigan

Villanova over West Virginia

Purdue over Texas Tech

Kansas over Clemson

Duke over Michigan St.

 

Elite 8

Cincinnati over Virginia

North Carolina over Gonzaga

Villanova over Purdue

Duke over Kansas

 

Final Four

Cincinnati over North Carolina

Duke over Villanova

 

Championship

Duke over Cincinnati

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March 12, 2018

Bracketnomics 505 for 2018: First Class

NOTE:  DO NOT REFER TO PAST YEARS’ BRACKETNOMICS REPORTS–THEY ARE OBSOLETE!!!!!

Welcome to the 2018 edition of the PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 Course.  Our course is accredited, and when you complete it, you will earn your Bachelor of Madness Degree.  Just remember that it may not be a BS degree, but it is a BM degree, so you may want to think twice before telling others you received it from PiRate U.

Most universities have some type of history that potential enrollees can examine.  That’s to make the school look worthy of consideration.  Our PiRate School of Bracketnomics has been a bit up and down throughout our history.  When we first debuted as an online course, our selections and predictions put us into Ivy League/Cal Tech/MIT status.  We isolated some key points from back-tested data that worked.  Some of the early pointers that helped us pick brackets were things that would appear obvious to most people–scoring margin, rebounding margin, field goal percetage margin, turnover margin, schedule strength, and the ability to win away from one’s home court.

Our big breakthrough that helped us devise our first advanced metric came about when CBS’s Clark Kellogg mentioned that teams with “spurtability” tended to do best in the NCAA Tournament.  What is spurtability?  It is exactly what it sounds like, the ability for a team to go on a scoring spurt.  What we are talking about here is something like 10-0 or 15-4 or 20-8 run.  Next, in the evolution of PiRate Bracketnomics, our Captain began to research what factors contributed the most to big scoring spurts.  He discovered that half-court offenses and half-court defenses that led to one team connecting on a very high percentage of shots while the other team missed a high percentage of shots seldom led to these spurts by themselves.  It was rare for Team A to hit eight out of 10 shots, while Team B hit only one out of ten shots and led to a 16-2 run.  So, what caused the great spurtabilities of the teams?  The Captain discovered that in a large majority of the cases where a team went on a big scoring run in the NCAA Tournament, it was due to dominating rebounding at both ends of the court, forcing turnovers (especially steals) and then getting easy fast break baskets or forcing the opponent to foul.

From this point, the Captain devised what has come to be the most important factor in picking NCAA Tournament winners–the R+T Rating.  After trial and error using different data points, the Captain created a formula that doubled rebounding margin, added turnover margin, and then gave additional weight to steals and the prevention of steals.  The result was an approximation for how many extra scoring chances and points a team might be expected to receive versus the average college team.  If Team A had a R+T rating of 20, and Team B had a R+T rating of 10, then Team A would be expected to score 10 extra points against Team B just from extra scoring opportunities.  Team B could still win if they outshot Team A by a high enough percentage to make up for those 10 points.

A little success swelled the heads of all the PiRates.  We became too big for our tiny ship.  We began to try to perfect our rating by adding additional information.  We thought for a few years that teams that relied on the three-point shot were at a disadvantage against teams that pounded the ball inside, because so many of the tournament games were held in giant stadiums, even domes, and it affected depth perception and made it hard to aim on outside shots.

There was a time when we discounted teams that won games by shooting a lot of foul shots, because the officials did not call as many fouls in the tournament.

The success of the PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics led to some mainstream media sources linking to us, and we saw our readership go up by large multiples, especially between the second week of March and the first week of April.  And, then what happened?  After correctly picking the national champion during Bracket Picking day for three consecutive years; and after picking tiny George Mason to contend for a Final Four spot when Jim Larranaga guided the Patriots to the Final Four; and after picking Duke, Connecticut, and Kentucky to win and hit on another three in a row, the bottom fell out.

Just like the Dosage Index for the Kentucky Derby, the criteria began to lose its effectiveness.  Too many basketball equivalents of Strike The Gold and Real Quiet began winning when the profile predicted they had little or no chance.    While R+T ratings still remained effective, other criteria not used by us began to be more predictive.

The better three-point shooting teams started to win more and more. Watching the Golden State Warriors dominate the NBA and then seeing how almost every NBA team tried to copy them in some way, it became apparent that advanced metrics were changing the game, just like Sabermetrics changed the way general managers built their baseball teams.  The name of the game became three-point shooting and very high percentage two-point shooting.  Defenses that forced opponents to take lower percentage two-point shots became the new basis for determining effectiveness.

There was one other change that greatly affected the college game.  When the shot clock moved from 35 to 30 seconds, it appeared on the surface that it would minimally affect the game by maybe two or three possessions per game.  This was not the case.  Defenses discovered that they could pressure the offense more and more in hopes that they would force a turnover or force the offense to escape the pressure to find a good shot.  Many times, the pressure defense led to a hurried shot by the offense.  Thus, teams that were patient all of a sudden saw their shooting percentages fall when good pressure defenses forced too many hurried shots.  There was also the case where a defense that could keep the ball out of the close two-point range and force three-point shots to be taken a few feet farther back, could stop the patient offenses.  What was the solution to these defenses?  Up-tempo basketball came back in vogue.  Offenses began to try to hurry up their tempo to beat these gambling defenses or to get the preferred close in two-pointer or right behind the line three-pointer before defenses could organize.  The newer up-tempo style of play brought back basketball from 40 years ago.

Once again, the teams that can get up and down the court in a hurry and do so without becoming sloppy in execution have begun to dominate the game.  The patient offenses and non-pressuring defenses have found out that it is really hard to win consistently when the opponent is now finding a way to score 10 more points per game due to their new style of play.

What did we do at the PiRate Ratings to combat our decline in effectiveness?  The PiRates stripped our criteria down back to the basics.  We felt like we were missing the obvious.  Here is what matters when the NCAA Tournament begins play.

1. True Shooting Percentage Margin

2. R+T Rating

3. Schedule Strength

These three basic principles make up an overwhelming majority of how we will select our brackets when we release them Tuesday afternoon.
1. True Shooting Percentage Margin:  this is the difference between a team’s offensive true shooting percentage and defensive true shooting percentage.For college basketball, true shooting percentage is:

(100*Pts)/[2*(fga+{.475*fta})]. 

Don’t let this stat look intimidating.  We would never force you our patron that we love so much to have to figure the offensive and defensive percentages for 68 teams.  Do you know how long it takes to go to 68 different official athletic sites to get this information?  We do!  We have already calculated this informaton.

 

2. R+T Rating:  We hope most of you reading this today have some familiarity with our R+T Rating.

The formula for R+T is:

(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp. S) + T

R = rebounding margin; S = Steals per game; and T= Turnover margin

3. Schedule Strength:  It is obvious that a team could compile some very lofty True Shooting Percentages and R+T ratings playing the weakest 30 teams in the nation, while another team could compile some really awful stats playing the top 30 teams in the nation.  The first two data points must be weighted with the strength of schedule, and there is the rub.  How much do we adjust the data from True Shooting Percentage Margin and R+T Rating to factor in schedule strength?  We think we have the answer.  Based on the fact that a certain schedule strength number has held consistent as the floor among past Final Four teams, we believe we know the cut-off points that will allow us to interpolate the winners of each round.  Obviously, it is not an exact science, but hey, nobody has ever picked a perfect bracket, and we hear that the chances are better than somebody can win the Power Ball and Mega Millions jackpots in the same week than picking a perfect bracket.
The PiRates will reveal our entire bracket Tuesday afternoon.  And, after each round, we will then post an updated bracket for those people that play in contests where you can pick the winners round-by-round.

Additionally, we will issue our regular PiRate Ratings spreads for each tournament game.
We hope you return Tuesday after 12 Noon EDT to see what we believe will be an exciting and informative Bracketnomics 505 course.  Yes, you can earn your BM degree!

March 16, 2014

Bracketnomics–PiRate Style

Bracketnomics 505—2014 Edition

The best way to describe our PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament Bracket-Picking formula is to call it the Past Performances of the teams.  If you are familiar with the Daily Racing Form or other thoroughbred horse racing publications, you probably know how to read the PPS of the horses in each race.

Think of the criteria in this tutorial as the equivalent of those past performances.  The R+T rating is akin to the Beyer Speed Figure Rating.  If a team has a negative R+T rating, they are like a horse with a 60 Speed Fig in a race where the other horses all have multiple 100+ Figs.

Here is a general explanation of our past performance criteria.  Don’t worry about compiling all these statistics yourself.  All you need to do is check back with the PiRate Ratings Tuesday morning for an in-depth look at the Field of 68.

 1. Scoring Margin

For general bracket picking, look for teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game.  Over 85% of the Final Four teams since the 1950’s outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game. 

More than 80% of the final four teams in the last 50 years outscored their opponents by double digit points per game.  When you find a team with an average scoring margin in excess of 15 points per game, and said team is in one of the six power conferences, then you have a team that will advance deep into the tournament.

This is an obvious statistic here.  If team A outscores opponents by an average of 85-70 and their team B opponent outscores similar opposition by an average of 75-70, team A figures to be better than team B before you look at any other statistics. 

In the days of the 64-68-team field, this statistic has become even more valuable.  It’s very difficult and close to impossible for a team accustomed to winning games by one to seven points to win four times in a row, much less six consecutive games. 

This statistic gives the same significance and weighting to a team that outscores its opposition 100-90 as it does to a team that outscores its opposition 60-50.

2. Field Goal Percentage Differential

Take each team’s field goal percentage minus their defensive field goal percentage to calculate this statistic.  Look for teams that have a +7.5% or better showing.  50% to 42% is no better or no worse than 45% to 37%.  A difference of 7.5% or better is all that matters.  Teams that have a large field goal percentage margin are consistently good teams.  Sure, a team can win a game with a negative field goal percentage difference, but in the Big Dance, they certainly are not going to win six games, and they have no real chance to win four games. Two games are about the maximum for these teams. 

This statistic holds strong in back-tests of 50 years.  Even when teams won the tournament with less than 7.5% field goal percentage margins, for the most part, these teams just barely missed (usually in the 5.5 to 7.5% range).  In the years of the 64-68-team tournament, this stat has become a more accurate predictor.  In the 21st Century, the teams with field goal percentage margins in the double digits have dominated the field.  For example, if you see a team that shoots better than 48% and allows 38% or less, that team is going to be very hard to beat in large arenas with weird sight lines.

3. Rebound Margin

This statistic holds up all the way back to the early days of basketball, in fact as far back to the days when rebounds were first recorded.  The teams that consistently control the boards are the ones that advance past the first week in the tournament.  What we’re looking for here are teams that out-rebound their opposition by five or more per game.  In the opening two rounds, a difference of three or more is just as important.

The reason this statistic becomes even more important in mid-March is that teams do not always shoot as well in the NCAA Tournament for a variety of reasons (better defense, abnormal sight lines and unfamiliar gymnasiums, nerves, new rims and nets, more physical play with the refs allowing it, etc.).  The teams that can consistently get offensive put-backs are the teams that go on scoring runs in these games.  The teams that prevent the opposition from getting offensive rebounds, holding them to one shot per possession, have a huge advantage.  Again, there will be some teams that advance that were beaten on the boards, but as the number of teams drop from 64 to 32 to 16 to eight, it is rare for one of these teams to continue to advance.  West Virginia in 2005 made it to the Elite Eight without being able to rebound, but not many other teams have been able to do so.  There have been years where all four Final Four participants were in the top 20 in rebounding margin, and there have been many years where the champion was in the top 5 in rebounding margin.

4. Turnover Margin & Steals Per Game

Turnover margin can give a weaker rebounding team a chance to advance.  Any positive turnover margin is good here.  If a team cannot meet the rebounding margin listed above, they can get by if they have an excellent turnover margin.  Not all turnover margins are the same though.  A team that forces a high number of turnovers by way of steals is better than a team that forces the same amount of turnovers without steals.  A steal is better than a defensive rebound, because most of the time, a steal leads to a fast-break basket or foul.  When a team steals the ball, they are already facing their basket, and the defense must turn around and chase.  Many steals occur on the perimeter where the ball-hawking team has a numbers advantage.  So, this system counts a steal as being worth 1.33 defensive rebounds.   

The criteria to look for here is a positive turnover margin if the team out-rebounds its opposition by three or more; a turnover margin of three or better if the team out-rebounds its opposition by less than three; and a turnover margin of five or more if the team does not out-rebound its opponents.  Give more weight to teams that average 7.5 or more steals per game, and give much more weight to teams that average double figure steals per game.  A team that averages more than 10 steals per game will get a lot of fast-break baskets and foul shots.  In NCAA Tournament play, one quick spurt can be like a three-run homer in the World Series, and teams that either steal the ball or control the boards are the ones who will get that spurt.

5. The All-Important R+T Margin: Consider this the basketball equivalent of baseball’s OPS (On Base % + Slugging %) or even better, the “Moneyball Formula.”  The formula has undergone a couple of changes in recent years, including this season, and we think it will be slightly adjusted in the future based on changes in how the game is played.

The current R+T Formula for 2014 uses an advanced metric that involves multiple factors that give extra weight to an ability to get offensive rebounds and steals over other turnovers, while preventing the other team from getting offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers.

In 2014 terms, look for teams with R+T ratings at 6.5 or above.  These are the teams that will get several additional opportunities to score points and go on scoring runs that put opponents away.

When this stat is 3.5 to 6.5, you have a team that can overcome a few other liabilities to win. 

When this stat is negative, you have a team that will be eliminated quickly, even if they are playing a lower seed.  We have isolated many early round upsets due to this statistic, and we have eliminated many teams expected to perform well that bombed in the opening round.

A few years ago, Georgetown had a negative R+T rating but was a prohibitive favorite against Ohio U.  The Bobcats had a positive R+T rating and decent numbers in the other PiRate factors.  We called for Ohio to upset Georgetown in the first round, and Ohio won by double digits.

6. Power Conference Plus Schedule Strength

Up to this point you might have been thinking that it is much easier for Stephen F. Austin or North Dakota St. to own these gaudy statistics than it is for Iowa St. or Ohio State.  And, of course, that is correct.  We have to adjust this procedure so that teams that play tougher schedules get rewarded and teams that play softer schedules get punished.  We use three different SOS ratings to come up with an average, and then we plug it into a formula that gives extra points for teams with tough schedules, while taking away points from teams with easy schedules.

 7. Won-Loss percentage Away From Home Floor

This should be obvious.  Except in the rarest of instances, all NCAA Tournament games are played on neutral courts.  Some teams play like titans on their home floor but become pansies when playing away from home.  It is one thing to accumulate great statistics by scheduling 19 home games, three neutral site games, and eight away games and then going 18-1 at home, 1-2 on the neutral site, and 3-5 on the road to finish 22-8.  However, we need to locate the teams that continue to dominate away from home.  Combine the road and neutral games played and look at that percentage.  When you find a team with a 75% or better win percentage away from home, this team is a legitimate contender in the Big Dance.  When this number tops 85%, you have a tough team capable of winning four consecutive games and advancing to the Final Four.

These are the seven basic PiRate criteria.  You might be shocked to see that there are some key statistics that are not included.  Let’s look at some of these stats not to rely upon.

1. Assists and Assists to Turnover Ratio

While assists can reveal an excellent passing team (and we love great passing teams), they also can hide a problem.  Let’s say a team gets 28 field goals and has 21 assists.  That may very well indicate this team can pass better than most others. However, it may also mean two other things.  First, this team may not have players who can create their own offense and must get by on exceptional passing.  That may not work against the best defensive teams in the nation (like the type that get into the Dance).  Second, and even more importantly, it may indicate that this team cannot get offensive put-backs.  As explained earlier, the offensive rebound is about as important as any stat can be.  So, consider this stat only if you must decide on a toss-up after looking at the big seven stats.

2. Free Throw Shooting

Of course, free throw shooting in the clutch decides many ball games.  However, history shows a long line of teams making it deep into the tournament with poor free throw shooting percentages, and teams that overly rely on free throws may find it tough getting to the line with the liberalized officiating in the tournament.

Let’s say a team shoots a paltry 60% at the foul line while their opponent hits a great 75% of their foul shots.  Let’s say each team gets to the foul line 15 times in the game, with five of those chances being 1&1, three being one shot after made baskets, and seven being two shot fouls.  For the 60% shooting team, they can be expected to hit 3 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 1.8 of the 3 bonus shots; they can be expected to hit 1.8 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to hit 8.4 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 15 out of 25.  The 75% shooting team can be expected to connect on 3.75 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 2.8 of 3.75 on the bonus shot; they can be expected to hit 2.3 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to connect on 10.5 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 19.35 out of 25.75. 

A team with one of the top FT% only scores 4.35 more points at the foul line than a team with one of the worst.  That is not a lot of points to make up, and when you consider that this is about the maximum possible difference, this stat is not all that important.  Also consider that teams that shoot 60% of their foul shots and make the NCAA Tournament are almost always the teams that have the top R+T ratings, which is vitally important after the Ides of March. 

Teams that make the NCAA Tournament with gaudy free throw percentages frequently get there by winning close games at the line.  In the NCAA Tournament, fouls just don’t get called as frequently as in the regular season.  The referees let the teams play.  So, looking at superior free throw percentage can almost lead you down the wrong path. 

Ponder this:  The 1973 UCLA Bruins are considered to be the best college basketball team ever.  That team connected on just 63% of its free throws.  They had a rebounding margin of 15.2, and they forced many turnovers via steals thanks to their vaunted 2-2-1 zone press.  In the great UCLA dynasty from 1964 through 1973 when the Bruins won nine titles in 10 years, they never once connected on 70% of their free throws and averaged just 66% during that stretch.

3. 3-point shooting

You have to look at this statistic two different ways and consider that it is already part of field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not count the difference in made three-pointers and multiply by three to see the difference in points scored.  If Team A hits eight treys, while their Team B opponents hit three, that is not a difference of 15 points; it’s a difference of five points.  Consider made three-pointers as one extra point because they are already figured as made field goals.  A team with 26 made field goals and eight treys has only one more point than a team with 26 made field goals and seven treys.

The only time to give three-point shots any weight in this criteria is when you are looking at a toss-up game, and when you do look at this stat, look for the team that does not rely on them to win, but instead uses a credible percentage that prevents defenses from sagging into the 10-12-foot area around the basket.  If a team cannot throw it in the ocean from behind the arc, defenses can sag inside and take away the inside game.  It doesn’t play much of a role in the NCAA Tournament.  A team that must hit 10 threes per game in order to win is not going to be around after the first weekend.

4. One Big Star or Two Really Good Players

Teams that get to the Dance by riding one big star or a majority of scoring from two players are not solid enough to advance very far.  Now, this does not apply to a team with one big star and four really good players.  I’m referring to a team with one big star and four lemons or two big scorers with three guys who are allergic to the ball.  Many times a team may have one big scorer or two guys who score 85% of the points, but the other three starters are capable of scoring 20 points if they are called on to do so.  If you have a team with five double figure scorers, they will be harder to defend and will be more consistent on the attack side.  It is hard for all five players to slump at once.

We hope this primer will help you when you fill out your brackets this year. 

 

Putting It All Together

If you know us here at the PiRate Ratings, we are all about putting stats into a mathematical formula to try to pick winners.  That is what we have done for the last decade, and we have isolated the top teams in the tournament more than half the time.  In the last 13 years, our top-rated team has won the championship eight times,  our second highest-rated team won the title three times, and our third-highest rated team won it once.  The only miss was with Connecticut in 2011.

 

Check back at this site Monday night, March 17, after 11:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and we will have our ratings for all 68 teams in the Dance.

 

Enjoy!

March 18, 2013

Bracketnomics 2013: NCAA First and Second Rounds

We hope you read our informational posting about Bracketnomics.  In that post, we explained how we have back-tested certain data to find best fits for past national champions and Final Four participants.

 

We have all the data we need going back to the first year of the 64-team field.  We have sufficient data going back to the days of the 22 to 25-team fields of the 1960’s, and we have nominal data going back to the beginning of the NCAA Tournament 74 years ago.

 

In a nutshell, there are certain statistical trends that point to a team advancing deeper and deeper in the tournament.  As statistical information has become more easily obtainable, and the field has expanded to 64, 65, and now 68, this information has become much more accurate.

 

First and foremost, we look for teams that played better than average schedules.  It is obvious that a team can play 20 patsies and run up some really gaudy stats.

 

Second, we look for teams that can win away from home.  If a team goes 22-8, with a home record of 18-1 and a record away from home (away and neutral games) of 4-7, this team is not ready to win six consecutive games, or even four, away from home.

 

Once we have isolated the teams that have played an above average schedule and have enjoyed some success away from home, we look at these vital statistics:

 

1. Scoring Margin—anything that is 8 or more is important.  We really like a scoring margin at 10 or more, as all but one of the 21st Century champions have entered the Big Dance with a double digit scoring margin.  If a team has a 15-point or better scoring margin, and they satisfy the strength of schedule and road won-loss criteria, then watch out!

 

2. Field Goal Percentage Margin—this is a team’s offensive field goal percentage minus their defensive field goal percentage times 100.  The key stat here is +7.5% or better.

 

3. Rebounding Margin—a team with a rebounding margin of 5.0 or more has a chance to overcome a bad shooting game or a turnover-prone game.

 

4. Turnover Margin—similar to rebounding margin, but we have a weighted scale here.  If a team out-rebounds its opponents by 3.0 or more, then any positive turnover margin is sufficient.  If a team out-rebounds is opponents by 0.1 to 2.9, then a turnover margin of 3.0 or better is required.  And, if a team does not out-rebound its opponents, they must have a turnover margin of 5.0 or more.

 

5. Average Steals Per Game—if the rebound is gold, the steal is platinum.  We consider a steal to be worth 1.3 rebounds (reasons given in Bracketnomics 2013 posted on Sunday, March 17, 2013).  Any team that averages 7.5 or more steals per game will have several cheap basket opportunities.  Any team with double digit steals per game will be monsters in the tournament.

 

6. The PiRate R+T Rating—if rebound margin is gold, and steals per game are platinum, then our R+T rating is rhodium.  This rating combines rebounding margin, turnover margin, and steals per game into one sabrmetric-type rating, similar to any of several baseball ratings (like Wins Above Replacement).  The current formula is in Sunday’s post, but you don’t have to bother with trying to figure these out for all 68 teams.  We have done that for you.  What we isolate are the teams with an R+T rating of 5.0 or better, paying extra attention to 10.0 or better.  If a team has a negative R+T rating, they are going home quickly even if they are a number 3 seed playing a number 14 seed, which is exactly what happened in 2010, when Georgetown had a negative R+T rating and not only was upset by Ohio U in the opening round, they were blown out of the gym.

 

The 2013 Field of 68

1. Which teams qualify on all stat requirements?

 

None of the 68 teams qualify on all eight statistical requirements.  Two teams came close with seven of eight.

 

Gonzaga qualifies in all statistical categories, except schedule strength, and that is a killer.  The Bulldogs may advance to the Elite Eight, but with their lower than average SOS, we do not see this as their breakthrough season, even as a one-seed.

 

Indiana qualifies in all statistical categories except won-loss percentage away from Assembly Hall.  The Hoosiers’ won-loss percentage away from home is 71.4%, which misses qualifying by one game.

 

2. Which teams failed to qualify in even one statistical category?

 

We almost broke a record this year in “nullsville.”  11 teams failed to meet at least one of the statistical criteria and will not need reservations past the second round (what used to be the first round).

 

Albany, Florida Gulf-Coast, Harvard, Iona, Liberty, Long Island, Montana, North Carolina A&T, Pacific, and Western Kentucky come as no surprise to most.  These teams are not expected to win in this tournament, although either North Carolina A&T or Liberty must win one game, because they face off in the First Four in Dayton.

 

However, one major conference team is going to surprise you.  That team is: Notre Dame!  The Fighting Irish just missed out in scoring margin, rebounding margin, and strength of schedule, while their turnover margin and average steals missed by a long shot.  Keep this in mind when looking at upsets in the second round.

 

3. Which teams have a negative R+T rating and can be immediately eliminated from consideration?

 

Only one team has a negative R+T rating, and that is Liberty.  However, several teams have R+T ratings just above zero, and you should look at these teams as the type that will not get enough extra scoring opportunities to win.

 

4. Which of the teams expected to win or be competitive in a tossup game have these low R+T numbers?

 

California is a “sexy 12-seed” that many feel got the shaft in the seeding process.  A lot of experts are calling for the Golden Bears to benefit from playing in San Jose and upset 5-seed UNLV.  However, Cal has an R+T rating of 2.68, while the Runnin’ Rebels’ R+T rating is 6.88.  If you considered a game to be a tossup and then gave one team four additional possessions, which team would you expect to win?

 

La Salle is a 13-seed playing 4-seed KansasState.  The Explorers’ R+T rating is 2.46, while the Wildcats have a 7.86 rating.  Don’t count on the lads from Philly beating the lads from the other Manhattan.

 

5. Who will advance to the Final Four?

We’re glad you asked, because we have an opinion to proffer.

 

Normally, we find just one or at most two number one seeds worthy of making it to the final weekend.  The only year where we saw three 1-seeds advancing to the tournament was 2008, when we selected Kansas, Memphis, and North Carolina to advance to the Final Four as one-seeds.  That indeed happened, but we missed out on one-seed UCLA making it the one and only time that all four one-seeds won their respective regions.

 

This year, we are going with the chalk in three regions once again.  We believe Louisville, Indiana, and Kansas will win their regions.  We do not believe Gonzaga will make it four for four.  In fact, we have a dark horse candidate as our West Regional winner.  We believe six-seed Arizona will upset 2-seed OhioState in the Sweet 16 and then win again in the Elite Eight to be the surprise winner of the Regional.

 

6. So, who do we pick for the National Champion?

This is a very close call.  The top two teams, Indiana and Louisville are separated by just a hair the way we rate the teams.  It is a tossup, so we have to go to extracurricular information to figure out a winner.

 

Remember what we said were the rhodium, platinum, and gold ratings?  Both teams are in the top grouping in R+T rating.  Indiana dominates in rebounding margin, while Louisville is on the top rung in steals per game.  We have to go outside our formula to come up with a winner, and we are going with experience.  Rick Pitino has been to six Final Fours as a head coach.  Our official pick for NCAA Champion is Louisville.

 

Here are our picks for the first two rounds.  Of course, we will update the ratings and pick anew after round two with picks for Saturday on Friday night and picks for Sunday on Saturday night.

 

Opening Round (First 4 @ Dayton)

North Carolina A&T over Liberty

Middle Tennessee over St. Mary’s

Long Island over James Madison

BoiseState over La Salle

 

Second Round

Midwest

Louisville over North Carolina A&T

ColoradoState over Missouri

Oregon over OklahomaState

St. Louis over New MexicoState

Memphis over Middle Tennessee

MichiganState over Valparaiso

Cincinnati over Creighton

Duke over Albany

 

West

Gonzaga over Southern

Pittsburgh over WichitaState

Wisconsin over Ole Miss

KansasState over BoiseState

Arizona over Belmont

New Mexico over Harvard

IowaState over Notre Dame

OhioState over Iona

 

South

Kansas over Western Kentucky

North Carolina over Villanova

VirginiaCommonwealth over Akron

Michigan over South DakotaState

Minnesota over UCLA

Florida over Northwestern State

San DiegoState over Oklahoma

Georgetown over FloridaGulfCoast

 

East

Indiana over Long Island

North CarolinaState over Temple

UNLV over California

Syracuse over Montana

Bucknell over Butler (big upset pick)

Marquette over Davidson (closest game in this round according to our ratings)

Colorado over Illinois

Miami over Pacific

 

Third Round (Will be updated on Friday and Saturday for those that get to pick every round)

 

Midwest

Louisville over ColoradoState

Oregon over St. Louis

MichiganState over Memphis

Duke over Cincinnati

 

West

Gonzaga over Pittsburgh

Wisconsin over KansasState

Arizona over New Mexico

OhioState over IowaState

 

South

Kansas over North Carolina

Michigan over VirginiaCommonwealth (very close)

Florida over Minnesota

Georgetown over San DiegoState

 

East

Indiana over North CarolinaState

Syracuse over UNLV

Bucknell over Marquette (our Cinderella team in the Sweet 16)

Miami over Colorado

 

Sweet 16

Midwest

Louisville over Oregon

MichiganState over Duke

 

West

Gonzaga over Wisconsin

Arizona over OhioState

 

South

Kansas over Michigan

Florida over Georgetown

 

East

Indiana over Syracuse

Miami over Bucknell

 

Elite 8

Midwest

Louisville over MichiganState

 

West

Arizona over Gonzaga

 

South

Kansas over Florida

 

East

Indiana over Miami

 

Final 4

Louisville over Arizona

Indiana over Kansas

 

Championship

Louisville over Indiana

 

Here is a look at our raw stats:

Team

PPG

Opp

Diff

FG%

D FG%

Diff

Reb

Opp

Diff

TO

Opp TO

Diff

Stl

R+T

SOS

RW-L

Akron

72.7

62.0

10.7

.457

.390

6.7

37.9

32.0

5.9

13.6

13.8

0.2

7.2

7.58

51.34

68.8

Albany

64.8

60.6

4.2

.436

.422

1.4

34.0

30.4

3.6

13.5

12.5

-1.0

5.3

3.46

45.63

64.7

Arizona

73.3

63.7

9.6

.450

.415

3.5

36.2

30.3

5.9

13.1

13.8

0.7

6.9

8.12

57.27

68.8

Belmont

77.2

64.0

13.2

.494

.410

8.4

32.2

33.0

-0.8

13.5

17.4

3.9

9.8

5.84

54.17

68.4

Boise St.

73.3

65.0

8.3

.459

.431

2.8

33.9

29.7

4.2

12.1

13.5

1.4

6.7

7.22

55.64

43.8

Bucknell

67.3

57.5

9.8

.456

.378

7.8

36.2

30.3

5.9

9.5

9.2

-0.3

3.6

6.26

48.45

77.8

Butler

69.7

63.7

6.0

.455

.417

3.8

36.6

28.9

7.7

13.2

11.2

-2.0

5.7

6.44

56.61

70.6

California

67.5

64.4

3.1

.446

.396

5.0

37.2

34.0

3.2

12.5

11.1

-1.4

5.8

2.68

56.35

60.0

Cincinnati

66.6

58.8

7.8

.402

.385

1.7

40.0

33.5

6.5

12.8

13.2

0.4

7.0

8.38

57.16

60.0

Colorado

68.2

63.8

4.4

.436

.404

3.2

37.2

33.8

3.4

13.3

12.9

-0.4

7.0

4.32

57.40

52.9

Colorado St.

73.1

62.9

10.2

.448

.409

3.9

40.4

28.4

12.0

10.8

11.1

0.3

4.9

13.34

56.44

56.3

Creighton

75.4

63.1

12.3

.508

.407

10.1

35.2

30.3

4.9

12.3

10.6

-1.7

5.0

3.86

54.46

70.6

Davidson

73.7

62.2

11.5

.463

.412

5.1

33.8

31.4

2.4

10.9

12.3

1.4

5.7

5.22

48.49

70.0

Duke

78.3

65.4

12.9

.476

.418

5.8

33.8

35.0

-1.2

10.7

14.4

3.7

6.5

4.54

60.79

68.8

Florida

71.6

53.7

17.9

.481

.377

10.4

35.1

30.3

4.8

11.1

14.0

2.9

7.0

9.68

57.28

61.1

FloridaGulfCoast

73.1

66.7

6.4

.460

.406

5.4

36.6

35.4

1.2

14.7

15.9

1.2

9.0

4.44

47.87

50.0

Georgetown

64.6

55.7

8.9

.456

.376

8.0

32.9

31.7

1.2

12.7

14.2

1.5

7.5

4.50

57.95

64.3

Gonzaga

78.0

59.7

18.3

.503

.382

12.1

37.4

30.0

7.4

11.3

13.9

2.6

8.0

12.12

54.72

93.8

Harvard

68.9

63.9

5.0

.482

.440

4.2

29.4

30.4

-1.0

13.5

13.8

0.3

7.4

0.84

48.79

42.9

Illinois

69.1

65.3

3.8

.416

.427

-1.1

33.5

34.9

-1.4

11.5

14.4

2.9

6.9

3.46

58.79

55.6

Indiana

80.0

62.5

17.5

.486

.390

9.6

38.6

30.9

7.7

13.0

14.4

1.4

7.5

10.88

58.69

71.4

Iona

80.7

75.8

4.9

.457

.449

0.8

36.0

35.9

0.1

12.2

14.1

1.9

6.6

3.70

50.69

42.9

Iowa St.

79.6

71.2

8.4

.455

.427

2.8

38.7

34.0

4.7

13.3

13.2

-0.1

6.5

5.88

56.13

37.5

James Madison

65.2

64.4

0.8

.420

.427

-0.7

32.7

34.2

-1.5

11.2

13.8

2.6

7.9

3.20

45.92

50.0

Kansas

75.4

61.5

13.9

.480

.360

12.0

39.1

32.5

6.6

13.7

12.9

-0.8

7.2

7.08

57.80

75.0

Kansas St.

69.2

60.4

8.8

.436

.418

1.8

35.3

32.1

3.2

11.6

14.3

2.7

7.1

7.86

56.31

62.5

La Salle

72.4

66.0

6.4

.448

.456

-0.8

31.7

34.7

-3.0

11.7

14.9

3.2

8.1

2.46

54.70

53.3

Liberty

69.1

69.9

-0.8

.429

.419

1.0

35.7

36.3

-0.6

13.4

10.8

-2.6

5.5

-2.62

44.38

35.0

Long Island

79.5

76.4

3.1

.484

.468

1.6

35.4

33.6

1.8

14.4

13.0

-1.4

6.8

1.48

45.45

43.8

Louisville

73.6

58.0

15.6

.445

.388

5.7

37.5

33.9

3.6

12.7

18.7

6.0

10.7

12.94

59.42

77.8

Marquette

69.0

62.7

6.3

.467

.405

6.2

35.0

30.6

4.4

13.6

12.9

-0.7

6.7

4.90

58.24

46.7

Memphis

75.9

65.1

10.8

.479

.405

7.4

37.8

32.9

4.9

14.6

15.5

0.9

9.0

7.78

54.81

81.3

Miami

69.9

60.7

9.2

.460

.399

6.1

35.8

32.5

3.3

10.9

11.9

1.0

6.3

5.76

59.20

72.2

Michigan

75.2

62.9

12.3

.484

.419

6.5

35.1

32.2

2.9

9.2

12.1

2.9

6.0

7.58

56.00

60.0

Michigan St.

68.2

59.3

8.9

.460

.394

6.6

37.3

30.5

6.8

13.4

12.8

-0.6

8.1

7.70

59.69

53.3

Middle Tennessee

71.2

57.8

13.4

.463

.394

6.9

36.8

30.8

6.0

13.8

15.8

2.0

7.1

9.82

51.62

70.6

Minnesota

68.4

61.7

6.7

.442

.396

4.6

38.8

30.6

8.2

13.8

12.8

-1.0

7.6

8.52

59.67

33.3

Missouri

76.2

66.2

10.0

.460

.401

5.9

41.4

31.8

9.6

13.2

12.0

-1.2

6.8

9.52

56.00

37.5

Montana

71.1

65.0

6.1

.474

.427

4.7

31.2

32.4

-1.2

12.1

12.2

0.1

5.9

0.10

46.85

66.7

N.C.State

77.5

70.1

7.4

.494

.418

7.6

36.8

33.9

2.9

12.4

11.6

-0.8

6.6

3.26

56.64

47.1

New Mexico

67.4

60.4

7.0

.425

.388

3.7

35.2

33.1

2.1

11.5

12.7

1.2

6.1

4.76

60.31

77.8

New Mexico St.

68.0

62.1

5.9

.461

.398

6.3

37.6

31.1

6.5

14.4

12.4

-2.0

5.6

5.22

52.46

50.0

North Carolina

77.2

69.1

8.1

.444

.422

2.2

38.9

36.5

2.4

12.2

15.3

3.1

8.2

7.76

58.63

55.6

North Carolina A&T

62.4

61.4

1.0

.398

.383

1.5

35.4

36.6

-1.2

15.1

16.1

1.0

7.1

1.42

43.39

40.9

Northwestern St.

81.0

71.2

9.8

.461

.424

3.7

39.3

38.9

0.4

14.0

17.0

3.0

9.8

5.96

48.32

58.8

Notre Dame

70.4

63.1

7.3

.463

.418

4.5

36.2

32.1

4.1

11.1

10.4

-0.7

5.1

4.28

55.83

53.3

Ohio St.

69.2

57.9

11.3

.454

.395

5.9

35.5

31.8

3.7

10.6

13.2

2.6

6.8

8.18

58.31

66.7

Oklahoma

71.1

66.2

4.9

.436

.417

1.9

36.7

34.9

1.8

11.8

13.3

1.5

6.5

4.90

57.40

47.1

Oklahoma St.

72.4

62.8

9.6

.440

.390

5.0

36.4

34.6

1.8

12.4

14.8

2.4

7.5

6.18

56.26

64.3

Ole Miss

77.9

67.3

10.6

.438

.410

2.8

38.7

37.7

1.0

11.4

15.6

4.2

8.4

7.72

51.73

58.8

Oregon

72.5

62.9

9.6

.451

.406

4.5

37.9

30.9

7.0

15.1

15.7

0.6

8.8

9.48

53.29

60.0

Pacific

67.5

68.1

-0.6

.452

.444

0.8

32.3

31.9

0.4

11.1

11.3

0.2

5.6

1.76

50.38

47.4

Pittsburgh

69.6

55.4

14.2

.475

.393

8.2

35.3

28.3

7.0

10.9

13.5

2.6

6.7

11.46

54.91

64.3

San Diego St.

69.2

60.7

8.5

.438

.388

5.0

36.8

33.4

3.4

11.9

12.7

0.8

6.9

5.74

57.98

47.1

South Dakota St.

73.9

65.5

8.4

.470

.442

2.8

34.9

30.7

4.2

10.5

11.2

0.7

5.0

6.04

48.89

55.0

Southern

67.7

57.1

10.6

.434

.365

6.9

35.2

35.3

-0.1

10.9

13.7

2.8

7.5

4.76

40.21

55.0

St. Louis

68.7

58.1

10.6

.448

.412

3.6

32.8

32.5

0.3

11.5

15.2

3.7

7.5

6.24

55.73

69.2

St. Mary’s

75.5

63.5

12.0

.474

.419

5.5

37.1

28.4

8.7

12.0

11.7

-0.3

6.3

9.60

53.70

68.8

Syracuse

71.3

60.1

11.2

.440

.377

6.3

38.7

34.6

4.1

12.6

15.5

2.9

8.9

9.36

59.30

56.3

Temple

72.8

68.1

4.7

.430

.434

-0.4

34.5

35.8

-1.3

11.0

13.7

2.7

8.0

3.54

55.35

60.0

U C L A

74.7

68.9

5.8

.455

.422

3.3

36.3

38.1

-1.8

11.1

14.1

3.0

8.2

3.44

57.71

62.5

U N L V

71.7

63.0

8.7

.439

.388

5.1

40.1

33.5

6.6

14.0

13.0

-1.0

7.4

6.88

57.99

50.0

V C U

77.3

64.8

12.5

.449

.444

0.5

34.8

34.8

0.0

11.8

19.9

8.1

11.8

12.08

55.72

64.7

Valparaiso

71.7

62.2

9.5

.489

.414

7.5

32.9

28.5

4.4

14.5

12.8

-1.7

6.7

3.70

49.76

66.7

Villanova

67.8

64.7

3.1

.415

.402

1.3

36.3

33.2

3.1

15.7

15.2

-0.5

7.7

4.04

57.43

47.1

Western Kentucky

67.2

65.7

1.5

.431

.422

0.9

36.2

33.0

3.2

15.1

13.9

-1.2

6.1

2.98

49.50

45.0

Wichita St.

69.4

60.7

8.7

.443

.400

4.3

38.4

30.0

8.4

12.8

13.2

0.4

7.5

10.38

53.84

64.7

Wisconsin

65.5

55.9

9.6

.425

.394

3.1

36.7

32.9

3.8

9.7

11.2

1.5

5.7

6.74

58.11

50.0

 

Here is a look at the stats of the NCAA Champions since 2000:

Team

PPG

Opp

Diff

FG%

D FG%

Diff

Reb

Opp

Diff

TO

Opp TO

Diff

Stl

R+T

SOS

RW-L

12 Kentucky

76.7

59.0

17.7

.483

.368

11.5

39.1

31.9

7.2

11.4

11.9

0.5

6.3

9.06

56.84

87.5

11 Uconn

72.4

64.9

7.5

.434

.393

4.1

39.7

35.3

4.4

11.4

11.5

0.1

6.3

5.78

72.2

10 Duke

77.0

61.0

16.0

.440

.401

3.9

39.0

32.8

6.2

11.1

14.2

3.1

6.7

11.26

70.6

09 North Carolina

89.8

72.0

17.8

.480

.410

7.0

42.0

35.7

6.3

12.4

15.9

3.5

8.6

12.22

82.4

08 Kansas

80.5

61.5

19.0

.508

.379

12.9

38.7

30.8

7.9

13.2

15.6

2.4

8.9

12.56

78.6

07 Florida

79.6

62.6

17.0

.526

.407

11.9

37.6

29.1

8.5

14.1

12.8

-1.3

6.7

8.28

68.8

06 Florida

78.3

63.5

14.8

.500

.399

10.1

35.9

32.3

3.6

14.4

15.5

1.1

7.6

6.44

73.3

05 North Carolina

88.0

70.3

17.7

.499

.401

9.8

40.5

33.0

7.5

16.1

17.8

1.7

9.8

11.50

75.0

04 Connecticut

78.8

63.9

14.9

.480

.369

11.1

44.7

34.9

9.8

13.6

12.2

-1.4

6.0

9.32

66.7

03 Syracuse

79.6

69.6

10.0

.475

.390

8.5

40.7

38.1

2.6

14.1

14.9

0.8

8.5

5.26

58.3

02 Maryland

85.0

70.9

14.1

.482

.399

8.3

41.1

37.4

3.7

13.8

15.4

1.6

8.4

7.30

73.3

01 Duke

90.7

70.5

20.2

.481

.416

6.5

38.6

37.5

1.1

13.6

19.1

5.5

10.5

9.80

88.9

00 Michigan St.

74.1

58.9

15.2

.474

.394

8.0

39.0

27.3

11.7

14.6

13.7

-0.9

6.6

11.94

63.2

 

March 17, 2013

Bracketnomics 2013–A statistical look at bracket selection

Bracketnomics 505—2013 Edition

The best way to describe our PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament Bracket-Picking formula is to call it the Past Performances of the teams.  If you are familiar with the Daily Racing Form or other thoroughbred horse racing publications, you probably know how to read the PPS of the horses in each race.

Think of the criteria in this tutorial as the equivalent of those past performances.  The R+T rating is akin to the Beyer Speed Figure Rating.  If a team has a negative R+T rating, they are like a horse with a 60 Speed Fig in a race where the other horses all have multiple 100+ Figs.

Here is a general explanation of our past performance criteria.  Don’t worry about compiling all these statistics yourself.  All you need to do is check back with the PiRate Ratings Tuesday morning for an in-depth look at the Field of 68.

 1. Scoring Margin

For general bracket picking, look for teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game.  Over 85% of the Final Four teams since the 1950’s outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game. 

Make a separate list of teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 10 or more points per game and a third list of teams that outscored opponents by an average of 15 or more points per game.  More than 80% of the final four teams in the last 50 years outscored their opponents by double digit points per game.  When you find a team with an average scoring margin in excess of 15 points per game, and said team is in one of the six power conferences, then you have a team that will advance deep into the tournament.

This is an obvious statistic here.  If team A outscores opponents by an average of 85-70 and their team B opponent outscores similar opposition by an average of 75-70, team A figures to be better than team B before you look at any other statistics. 

In the days of the 64-68-team field, this statistic has become even more valuable.  It’s very difficult and close to impossible for a team accustomed to winning games by one to seven points to win four times in a row, much less six consecutive games. 

This statistic gives the same significance and weighting to a team that outscores its opposition 100-90 as it does to a team that outscores its opposition 60-50.

2. Field Goal Percentage Differential

Take each team’s field goal percentage minus their defensive field goal percentage to calculate this statistic.  Look for teams that have a +7.5% or better showing.  50% to 42% is no better or no worse than 45% to 37%.  A difference of 7.5% or better is all that matters.  Teams that have a large field goal percentage margin are consistently good teams.  Sure, a team can win a game with a negative field goal percentage difference, but in the Big Dance, they certainly are not going to win six games, and they have no real chance to win four games. Two games are about the maximum for these teams. 

This statistic holds strong in back-tests of 50 years.  Even when teams won the tournament with less than 7.5% field goal percentage margins, for the most part, these teams just barely missed (usually in the 5.5 to 7.5% range).  In the years of the 64-68-team tournament, this stat has become a more accurate predictor.  In the 21st Century, the teams with field goal percentage margins in the double digits have dominated the field.  For example, if you see a team that shoots better than 48% and allows 38% or less, that team is going to be very hard to beat in large arenas with weird sight lines.

3. Rebound Margin

This statistic holds up all the way back to the early days of basketball, in fact as far back to the days when rebounds were first recorded.  The teams that consistently control the boards are the ones that advance past the first week in the tournament.  What we’re looking for here are teams that out-rebound their opposition by five or more per game.  In the opening two rounds, a difference of three or more is just as important.

The reason this statistic becomes even more important in mid-March is that teams do not always shoot as well in the NCAA Tournament for a variety of reasons (better defense, abnormal sight lines and unfamiliar gymnasiums, nerves, new rims and nets, more physical play with the refs allowing it, etc.).  The teams that can consistently get offensive put-backs are the teams that go on scoring runs in these games.  The teams that prevent the opposition from getting offensive rebounds, holding them to one shot per possession, have a huge advantage.  Again, there will be some teams that advance that were beaten on the boards, but as the number of teams drop from 64 to 32 to 16 to eight, it is rare for one of these teams to continue to advance.  West Virginia in 2005 made it to the Elite Eight without being able to rebound, but not many other teams have been able to do so.  There have been years where all four Final Four participants were in the top 20 in rebounding margin, and there have been many years where the champion was in the top 5 in rebounding margin.

4. Turnover Margin & Steals Per Game

Turnover margin can give a weaker rebounding team a chance to advance.  Any positive turnover margin is good here.  If a team cannot meet the rebounding margin listed above, they can get by if they have an excellent turnover margin.  Not all turnover margins are the same though.  A team that forces a high number of turnovers by way of steals is better than a team that forces the same amount of turnovers without steals.  A steal is better than a defensive rebound, because most of the time, a steal leads to a fast-break basket or foul.  When a team steals the ball, they are already facing their basket, and the defense must turn around and chase.  Many steals occur on the perimeter where the ball-hawking team has a numbers advantage.  So, this system counts a steal as being worth 1.33 rebounds.

The criteria to look for here is a positive turnover margin if the team out-rebounds its opposition by three or more; a turnover margin of three or better if the team out-rebounds its opposition by less than three; and a turnover margin of five or more if the team does not out-rebound its opponents.  Give more weight to teams that average 7.5 or more steals per game, and give much more weight to teams that average double figure steals per game.  A team that averages more than 10 steals per game will get a lot of fast-break baskets and foul shots.  In NCAA Tournament play, one quick spurt can be like a three-run homer in the World Series, and teams that either steal the ball or control the boards are the ones who will get that spurt.

5. The All-Important R+T Margin: Consider this the basketball equivalent of baseball’s OPS (On Base % + Slugging %) or even better, the “Moneyball Formula.”  The formula has undergone a couple of changes in recent years, including this season, and we think it will be slightly adjusted in the future based on changes in how the game is played.

The current R+T Formula for 2013 is: (R * 1.5) + (6.0 – S) + (0.2 * S) + (1.8 * T), where R is rebounding margin, S is average steals per game, and T is turnover margin.  The numbers are all rounded to one digit.

 

Look for teams with R+T ratings at 10 or above.  These are the teams that will get several additional opportunities to score points and go on scoring runs that put opponents away.

When this stat is 5 to 9, you have a team that can overcome a few other liabilities to win. 

When this stat is 3 to 5, you have a team good enough to win early and get to the Sweet 16 but not advance past that round, unless said team has a large field goal percentage difference margin. 

When this stat is 0 to 3, you have a team that better enjoy a large field goal margin advantage, or they will be one and done or two and out.

When this stat is negative, you have a team that will be eliminated quickly, even if they are playing a lower seed.  We have isolated many early round upsets due to this statistic, and we have eliminated many teams expected to perform well that bombed in the opening round.

A few years ago, Georgetown had a negative R+T rating but was a prohibitive favorite against Ohio U.  The Bobcats had a positive R+T rating and decent numbers in the other PiRate factors.  We called for Ohio to upset Georgetown in the first round, and Ohio won by double digits.

6. Power Conference Plus Schedule Strength

Up to this point you might have been thinking that it is much easier for Albany or Northwestern State to own these gaudy statistics than it is for Louisville or Ohio State.  And, of course, that is correct.  We have to adjust this procedure so that teams that play tougher schedules get rewarded and teams that play softer schedules get punished.  Here is how we do it.  Look at the Strength of schedule for every team in the Field.  You can find SOS on many websites, such as the RPI at CBS Sports.  Take the decimal difference for each team in the Field and multiply that by 100.  For example, if Team A’s SOS is .6044 and Team B’s is .5777, the difference times 100 is 2.67.  So, Team A’s schedule was 2.67 points (or round it to 3) per game tougher than Team B’s.  Use this in head-to-head contests for every game in your bracket.

7. Won-Loss percentage Away From Home Floor

This should be obvious.  Except in the rarest of instances, all NCAA Tournament games are played on neutral courts.  Some teams play like titans on their home floor but become pansies when playing away from home.  It is one thing to accumulate great statistics by scheduling 19 home games, three neutral site games, and eight away games and then going 18-1 at home, 1-2 on the neutral site, and 3-5 on the road to finish 22-8.  However, we need to locate the teams that continue to dominate away from home.  Combine the road and neutral games played and look at that percentage.  When you find a team with a 75% or better win percentage away from home, this team is a legitimate contender in the Big Dance.  When this number tops 85%, you have a tough team capable of winning four consecutive games and advancing to the Final Four.

These are the seven basic PiRate criteria.  You might be shocked to see that there are some key statistics that are not included.  Let’s look at some of these stats not to rely upon.

1. Assists and Assists to Turnover Ratio

While assists can reveal an excellent passing team (and we love great passing teams), they also can hide a problem.  Let’s say a team gets 28 field goals and has 21 assists.  That may very well indicate this team can pass better than most others. However, it may also mean two other things.  First, this team may not have players who can create their own offense and must get by on exceptional passing.  That may not work against the best defensive teams in the nation (like the type that get into the Dance).  Second, and even more importantly, it may indicate that this team cannot get offensive put-backs.  As explained earlier, the offensive rebound is about as important as any stat can be.  So, consider this stat only if you must decide on a toss-up after looking at the big seven stats.

2. Free Throw Shooting

Of course, free throw shooting in the clutch decides many ball games.  However, history shows a long line of teams making it deep into the tournament with poor free throw shooting percentages, and teams that overly rely on free throws may find it tough getting to the line with the liberalized officiating in the tournament.

Let’s say a team shoots a paltry 60% at the foul line while their opponent hits a great 75% of their foul shots.  Let’s say each team gets to the foul line 15 times in the game, with five of those chances being 1&1, three being one shot after made baskets, and seven being two shot fouls.  For the 60% shooting team, they can be expected to hit 3 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 1.8 of the 3 bonus shots; they can be expected to hit 1.8 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to hit 8.4 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 15 out of 25.  The 75% shooting team can be expected to connect on 3.75 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 2.8 of 3.75 on the bonus shot; they can be expected to hit 2.3 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to connect on 10.5 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 19.35 out of 25.75. 

A team with one of the top FT% only scores 4.35 more points at the foul line than a team with one of the worst.  That is not a lot of points to make up, and when you consider that this is about the maximum possible difference, this stat is not all that important.  Also consider that teams that shoot 60% of their foul shots and make the NCAA Tournament are almost always the teams that have the top R+T ratings, which is vitally important after the Ides of March. 

Teams that make the NCAA Tournament with gaudy free throw percentages frequently get there by winning close games at the line.  In the NCAA Tournament, fouls just don’t get called as frequently as in the regular season.  The referees let the teams play.  So, looking at superior free throw percentage can almost lead you down the wrong path. 

Ponder this:  The 1973 UCLA Bruins are considered to be the best college basketball team ever.  That team connected on just 63% of its free throws.  They had a rebounding margin of 15.2, and they forced many turnovers via steals thanks to their vaunted 2-2-1 zone press.  In the great UCLA dynasty from 1964 through 1973 when the Bruins won nine titles in 10 years, they never once connected on 70% of their free throws and averaged just 66% during that stretch.

3. 3-point shooting

You have to look at this statistic two different ways and consider that it is already part of field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not count the difference in made three-pointers and multiply by three to see the difference in points scored.  If Team A hits eight treys, while their Team B opponents hit three, that is not a difference of 15 points; it’s a difference of five points.  Consider made three-pointers as one extra point because they are already figured as made field goals.  A team with 26 made field goals and eight treys has only one more point than a team with 26 made field goals and seven treys.

The only time to give three-point shots any weight in this criteria is when you are looking at a toss-up game, and when you do look at this stat, look for the team that does not rely on them to win, but instead uses a credible percentage that prevents defenses from sagging into the 10-12-foot area around the basket.  If a team cannot throw it in the ocean from behind the arc, defenses can sag inside and take away the inside game.  It doesn’t play much of a role in the NCAA Tournament.  A team that must hit 10 threes per game in order to win is not going to be around after the first weekend.

4. One Big Star or Two Really Good Players

Teams that get to the Dance by riding one big star or a majority of scoring from two players are not solid enough to advance very far.  Now, this does not apply to a team with one big star and four really good players.  I’m referring to a team with one big star and four lemons or two big scorers with three guys who are allergic to the ball.  Many times a team may have one big scorer or two guys who score 85% of the points, but the other three starters are capable of scoring 20 points if they are called on to do so.  If you have a team with five double figure scorers, they will be harder to defend and will be more consistent on the attack side.  It is hard for all five players to slump at once.

We hope this primer will help you when you fill out your brackets this year. 

 

Putting It All Together

If you know us here at the PiRate Ratings, we are all about putting stats into a mathematical formula to try to pick winners.  That is what we have done for the last decade, and we have isolated the top teams in the tournament more than half the time.  In the last 12 years, our top-rated team has won the championship seven times,  our second highest-rated team won the title three times, and our third-highest rated team won it once.  The only miss was with Connecticut in 2011.

 

Check back at this site Monday night, March 18, after 10 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and we will have our ratings for all 68 teams in the Dance.

 

Enjoy!

March 29, 2012

NCAA Tournament–Final Four Preview

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  A quick tutorial about Bracketnomics:  We have studied numerous statistical factors of all Final Four Teams from the 1950’s until 2011.  We isolated the statistical similarities of those teams and found certain shared statistical characteristics.  For the last eight years, we have been applying it to the NCAA teams trying to discover which ones shared these same statistics as the Final Four teams of yesteryear.  In five of the last seven years, we were pretty spot on with our selections.  For instance, in 2009, whenKentucky,Kansas, andOhioStatewere listed as the heavy tri-favorites, our system showed Duke to be the top-rated team.  We went with Duke even though the Blue Devils were not being highly considered.  Now admittedly, we did not seeButlercoming through to the Finals that year, or last year either, but we did rateButleras one to watch to get to the Elite 8.

If you want all the details behind our PiRate Criteria Score, please refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

 

2012 PiRate Ratings Final Four Preview—Semifinal Round

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Superdome—New Orleans

CBS Television—Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Steve Kerr

 

Game 1: Kentucky vs. Louisville – 6:09 PM EDT

Game 2: Kansas vs. Ohio State – Approximately 8:49 PM EDT

 

Game Previews

 

#1S Kentucky (36-2) vs. #4W Louisville (30-9)

 

Kentucky Wildcats

 

No.

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown (Last School)

1

Darius Miller

G

6-08

235

SR

Maysville,Ky.(MasonCounty)

3

Terrence Jones

F

6-09

252

SO

Portland,Ore.(Jefferson)

4

Jon Hood

G

6-07

215

JR

Madisonville,Ky.(North Hopkins)

5

Jarrod Polson

G

6-02

185

SO

Nicholasville,Ky.(West Jessamine)

10

Twany Beckham

G

6-05

205

JR

Louisville,Ky.(MississippiState)

12

Ryan Harrow

G

6-02

175

SO

Marietta, Ga. (N.C. State)

13

Sam Malone

G

5-11

190

FR

Scituate,Mass.(Scituate)

14

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

F

6-07

232

FR

Somerdale,N.J.(St. Patrick)

20

Doron Lamb

G

6-04

210

SO

Queens,N.Y.(OakHillAcademy)

23

Anthony Davis

F

6-10

220

FR

Chicago,Ill.(Perspectives Charter)

25

Marquis Teague

G

6-02

189

FR

Indianapolis,Ind.(Pike)

30

Eloy Vargas

F

6-11

244

SR

Moca,Dominican Republic(Miami-Dade CC)

32

Brian Long

G

5-09

150

FR

Dumont,N.J.(River Dell)

33

Kyle Wiltjer

F

6-09

239

FR

Portland,Ore.(Jesuit)
 

Coaches and Staff

 

 
 

John Calipari – Head Coach

 

 

Orlando Antigua- Assistant Coach

 

Kenny Payne – Assistant Coach

 

John Robic – Assistant Coach

 

 

Results

 

Opponent

UK

Opp

Marist

108

58

(n)Kansas

75

65

(n)Penn State

85

47

(n) Old Dominion

62

52

Radford

88

40

Portland

87

63

St. John’s

81

59

North Carolina

73

72

at Indiana

72

73

Chattanooga

87

62

Samford

82

50

Loyola (Md.)

87

63

Lamar

86

64

Louisville

69

62

(n) Arkansas-Little Rock

73

51

South Carolina

79

64

at Auburn

68

53

at Tennessee

65

62

Arkansas

86

63

Alabama

77

71

at Georgia

57

44

at L S U

74

50

Tennessee

69

44

at South Carolina

86

52

Florida

78

58

at Vanderbilt

69

63

Ole Miss

77

62

at Mississippi State

73

64

Vanderbilt

83

74

Georgia

79

49

at Florida

74

59

(n) L S U

60

51

(n) Florida

74

71

(n) Vanderbilt

64

71

ncaa Western Kentucky

81

66

ncaa Iowa State

87

71

ncaa Indiana

102

90

ncaa Baylor

82

70

 

Statistics

Player

G-GS

Min

Avg

FG-Att

Fg%

3 FG-Att

3Pt %

Ft-Att

Ft%

Anthony Davis

38-38

1206

31.7

202-319

.633

3-20

.150

136-191

.712

Doron Lamb

38-33

1179

31.0

164-348

.471

73-155

.471

116-140

.829

Terrence Jones

36-32

1052

29.2

170-339

.501

16-48

.333

98-153

.641

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

38-37

1187

31.2

152-313

.486

13-50

.260

139-184

.755

Marquis Teague

38-38

1236

32.5

136-330

.412

24-77

.312

83-116

.716

Darius Miller

38-11

989

26.0

137-290

.472

54-143

.378

51-65

.785

Kyle Wiltjer

38-0

451

11.9

69-158

.437

34-79

.430

22-27

.815

Sam Malone

6-0

13

2.2

3-6

.500

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

Eloy Vargas

31-1

195

6.3

12-36

.333

0-1

.000

4-13

.308

Brian Long

12-0

17

1.4

0-1

.000

0-0

.000

2-4

.500

Jarrod Polson

11-0

31

2.8

0-2

.000

0-1

.000

1-4

.250

Twany Beckham

16-0

44

2.8

0-1

.000

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

 

 

               
Kentucky

38

7600

200.0

1045-2143

.488

217-574

.378

652-897

.727

Opponents

38

7600

200.0

843-2248

.375

210-667

.315

407-586

.695

 

 

               
Player

Reb O

Reb D

Tot

F-DQ

Ast

TO

Blk

Stl

Pts

Anthony Davis

113

272

385

74-1

43

35

175

50

543

Doron Lamb

14

91

105

69-0

56

39

2

19

517

Terrence Jones

93

165

258

85-3

51

60

64

46

454

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

101

186

287

92-5

73

82

36

39

456

Marquis Teague

16

81

97

85-1

183

105

11

36

379

Darius Miller

35

66

101

83-0

82

55

11

31

379

Kyle Wiltjer

25

44

69

44-0

16

27

17

4

194

Sam Malone

0

2

2

0-0

1

4

0

0

6

Eloy Vargas

20

36

56

25-0

2

6

10

3

28

Brian Long

1

1

2

0-0

0

0

0

0

2

Jarrod Polson

0

4

4

4-0

1

5

0

2

1

Twany Beckham

2

6

8

0-0

2

1

0

1

0

Team

49

57

106

9

         
Kentucky

469

1011

1480

564-10

510

428

326

231

2959

Opponents

457

754

1211

718-x

404

445

124

207

2303

 

 

               
Player

Scoring

Rebounding

         
Anthony Davis

14.3

10.1

         
Doron Lamb

13.6

2.8

         
Terrence Jones

12.6

7.2

         
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

12.0

7.6

         
Marquis Teague

10.0

2.6

         
Darius Miller

10.0

2.7

         
Kyle Wiltjer

5.1

1.8

         
Sam Malone

1.0

0.3

         
Eloy Vargas

0.9

1.8

         
Brian Long

0.2

0.2

         
Jarrod Polson

0.1

0.4

         
Twany Beckham

0.0

0.5

         
Team    

2.8

         
Kentucky

77.9

38.9

         
Opponents

60.6

31.9

         

 

Louisville Cardinals

#

NAME

POS

HT

WT

Yr

HOMETOWN (PREVIOUS SCHOOL)

1

Angel Nunez

F

6-07

190

Fr

Washington Heights,N.Y.(Notre Dame Prep)

2

Russ Smith

G

6-00

160

So

Brooklyn,N.Y.(Archbishop Molloy/South Kent)

3

Peyton Siva

G

6-00

180

Jr

Seattle,Wash.(Franklin)

4

Rakeem Buckles

F

6-07

215

Jr

Miami,Fla.(Monsignor Pace)

5

Chris Smith

G

6-02

195

 Sr

Millstone, N.J. (Manhattan)

10

Gorgui Dieng

C

6-11

235

So

Kebemer,Senegal(Covenant/Huntington Prep)

11

Luke Hancock

F

6-06

200

Jr

Roanoke,Va.(George Mason)

12

Zach Price

C

6-10

235

Fr

Louisville,Ky.(Jeffersontown)

14

Kyle Kuric

G/F

6-04

195

Sr

Evansville,Ind.(Memorial)

15

Tim Henderson

G

6-02

185

So

Louisville,Ky.(ChristianAcademy)

21

Jared Swopshire

F

6-08

200

Jr

St. Louis,Mo.(IMGAcademy)

22

Elisha Justice

G

5-10

175

So

Dorton,Ky.(ShelbyValley)

23

Kevin Ware

G

6-04

185

Fr

Conyers,Ga.(RockdaleCounty)

24

Chane Behanan

F

6-06

245

Fr

Cincinnati,Ohio(Bowling Green)
 

 

 25

Wayne Blackshear

G/F

6-05

225

Fr

Chicago,Ill.(Morgan Park)
 

 33

Mike Marra

G

6-05

200

Jr

Smithfield,R.I.(NorthfieldMt.HermonSchool)

44

Stephan Van Treese

F

6-08

235

Jr

Indianapolis,Ind.(LawrenceNorth)

 

Coaches

 

 

 

Rick Pitino – Head Coach

 

 

 

Richard Pitino – Associate Coach

 

 

Wyking Jones – Assistant Coach

 

 

 

Kevin Keatts – Assistant Coach

 

 

Results

Opponent

UL

Opp

UT MARTIN  

83

48

LAMAR  

68

48

at BUTLER 

69

53

ARKANSAS STATE 

54

27

OHIO 

59

54

LONG BEACH STATE 

79

66

VANDERBILT  

62

60

IUPUI  

90

60

FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 

80

58

MEMPHIS 

95

87

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 

69

62

WESTERN KENTUCKY 

70

60

GEORGETOWN  

68

71

at KENTUCKY  

62

69

at ST. JOHN’S  

73

58

NOTRE DAME  

65

67

at Providence College  

59

90

DEPAUL  

76

59

at MARQUETTE  

63

74

at PITT  

73

62

VILLANOVA  

84

74

at SETON HALL  

60

51

RUTGERS 

78

66

CONNECTICUT 

80

59

at WEST VIRGINIA 

77

74

SYRACUSE  

51

52

at DEPAUL  

90

82

at CINCINNATI  

56

60

PITTSBURGH 

57

54

SOUTH FLORIDA  

51

58

at SYRACUSE  

49

58

(n) SETON HALL  

61

55

(n) MARQUETTE 

84

71

(n) NOTRE DAME  

64

50

(n) CINCINNATI 

50

44

ncaa DAVIDSON  

69

62

ncaa NEW MEXICO 

59

56

ncaa MICHIGAN STATE 

57

44

ncaa FLORIDA 

72

68

 

Statistics

Player 

GP 

Min.

Avg 

FG-Att

Pct 

3FG-Att

Pct.

FT-Att

Pct.

Kyle Kuric

37-35

1341 

36.2 

162-383

.423 

75-229

.328 

72-90

.800 

Russ Smith

38-7

811 

21.3 

145-404

.359 

41-133

.308 

109-142

.768 

Chris Smith

39-37

1076 

27.6 

119-291

.409 

66-166

.398 

74-100

.740 

Chane Behanan   

39-36

1005 

25.8 

142-277

.513 

6-34

.176 

80-136

.588 

Gorgui Dieng  

39-39

1272 

32.6 

142-266

.534 

1-2

.500 

72-107

.673 

Peyton Siva

37-37

1172 

31.7 

117-290

.403 

16-67

.239 

86-117

.735 

Mike Marra

2-0

25 

12.5 

5-8

.625 

1-4

.250 

1-2

.500 

Rakeem Buckles

11-1

149 

13.5 

16-37

.432 

2-5

.400 

10-18

.556 

Jared Swopshire

38-2

505 

13.3 

45-115

.391 

5-24

.208 

33-48

.688 

Wayne Blackshear   

14-1

91 

6.5 

9-36

.250 

5-18

.278 

5-9

.556 

Angel Nunez

12-0

55 

4.6 

8-21

.381 

6-16

.375 

2-4

.500 

Mark Jackson

3-0

12 

4.0 

2-4

.500 

1-1

1.000 

0-0

.000 

Stephan Van Treese   

3-0

20 

6.7 

1-3

.333 

0-0

.000 

2-4

.500 

Tim Henderson

11-0

57 

5.2 

4-11

.364 

3-7

.429 

3-6

.500 

Kevin Ware

20-0

105 

5.3 

8-27

.296 

0-5

.000 

4-12

.333 

Elisha Justice

24-0

122 

5.1 

10-26

.385 

1-11

.091 

2-3

.667 

Zach Price

19-0

82 

4.3 

4-13

.308 

0-0

.000 

4-15

.267 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total………. 

39 

7900 

202.6

939-2212

.425 

229-722

.317 

559-813

.688 

Opponents…… 

39 

7900 

202.6

829-2184

.380 

216-713

.303 

497-746

.666 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player 

Reb O

Reb D

Reb Tot

Fl-DQ

Ast

TO

Blk

Stl

Pts

Kyle Kuric

41 

113 

154 

78-0

45 

38 

19 

46 

471 

Russ Smith

26 

69 

95 

108-3

75 

87 

85 

440 

Chris Smith

40 

102 

142 

56-0

75 

43 

34 

378 

Chane Behanan   

115 

174 

289 

75-2

32 

70 

18 

32 

370 

Gorgui Dieng  

130 

221 

351 

130-5

40 

77 

124 

45 

357 

Peyton Siva

19 

99 

118 

112-5

208 

128 

64 

336 

Mike Marra

0-0

12 

Rakeem Buckles

18 

24 

42 

20-0

15 

44 

Jared Swopshire

30 

79 

109 

41-0

17 

22 

13 

128 

Wayne Blackshear   

11 

17 

8-0

28 

Angel Nunez

1-0

24 

Mark Jackson

1-0

Stephan Van Treese   

5-0

Tim Henderson

7-0

14 

Kevin Ware

10 

14 

12-0

21 

20 

Elisha Justice

15-0

12 

23 

Zach Price

15 

18-1

12 

 

53 

33 

86 

 

10 

 

 

 

Total………. 

499 

973 

1472 

690-16

525 

550 

189 

348 

2666 

Opponents…… 

503 

908 

1411 

731-x

444 

607 

137 

277 

2371 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player 

Scoring

Rebounding

 

 

 

 

 

Kyle Kuric

12.7 

4.2 

 

 

 

 

 

Russ Smith

11.6 

2.5 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Smith

9.7 

3.6 

 

 

 

 

 

Chane Behanan   

9.5 

7.4 

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgui Dieng  

9.2 

9.0 

 

 

 

 

 

Peyton Siva

9.1 

3.2 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Marra

6.0 

2.5 

 

 

 

 

 

Rakeem Buckles

4.0 

3.8 

 

 

 

 

 

Jared Swopshire

3.4 

2.9 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne Blackshear   

2.0 

1.2 

 

 

 

 

 

Angel Nunez

2.0 

0.7 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Jackson

1.7 

1.0 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephan Van Treese   

1.3 

2.0 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Henderson

1.3 

0.8 

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Ware

1.0 

0.7 

 

 

 

 

 

Elisha Justice

1.0 

0.4 

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Price

0.6 

0.8 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total………. 

68.4 

37.7 

 

 

 

 

 

Opponents…… 

60.8 

36.2 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PiRate Criteria

UK

Pts

UL

Pts

Scoring Margin

17.3

8.7

7.6

3.8

Field Goal % Margin

11.3

5.7

4.5

2.3

Rebounding Margin

7.0

4.2

1.5

0.9

Turnover Margin

0.4

0.2

1.5

0.8

Steals

6.1

 

8.9

 

R + T *

8.70

3.5

5.08

2.0

Strength of Schedule ^

.5716

2.2

.5880

3.8

Road W-L #

90.0

4.5

73.7

2.5

TOTAL

UK:

29.0

UL:

16.1

 

Prediction: Kentucky 73  Louisville 66

Kentucky will take advantage of the size difference and force Louisville to take too many shots outside of their comfort zone.  The Wildcats will hold Louisville under 40% from the field, and they will control the boards to keep the Cardinals from getting many second chance shots.

 

Louisville must try to force Kentucky to turn the ball over, and the Cardinals will have to apply pressure while at the same time trying to force the ball out of the paint.  While the Cats may turn the ball over a little more than they normally do, Kentucky will get some easy stuff shots and close-in crips to counter.

 

 

#2MW Kansas (31-6) vs. #2E Ohio State (31-7)

 

Kansas Jayhawks

 

No.       Player                           Pos      Ht         Wt        Yr        HomeTown(Last Team)

 

0          Thomas Robinson          F          6-10      237       JR       Washington, D.C./Brewster [N.H.] Academy

 

1          Naadir Tharpe                G          5-11      170       FR       Worcester, Mass./Brewster [N.H.] Academy

 

2          Conner Teahan              G          6-06      212       SR       Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst HS

 

4          Justin Wesley                F          6-09      220       SO      Fort Worth,Texas/North CrowleyHS/Lamar

 

5          Jeff Withey                    C          7-00      235       JR       San Diego, Calif./Horizon HS

 

10         Tyshawn Taylor             G          6-03      185       SR      Hoboken, N.J./St. Anthony HS

 

15         Elijah Johnson               G          6-04      195       JR       Las Vegas,Nev./CheyenneHS

 

20         Niko Roberts                 G          5-11      175       SO       Huntington, N.Y./Saint Anthony’s HS

 

21         Christian Garrett            G          6-03      170       FR       Los Angeles,Calif./IMGAcademy

 

22         Merv Lindsay                 G          6-07      195       FR       MorenoValley,Calif./CanyonSpringsHigh School

 

23         Ben McLemore              G         6-05      185       FR        St. Louis,Mo./ChristianLifeCenter[Texas]

 

24         Travis Releford              G          6-06      207       JR       Kansas City,Mo./Bishop Miege HS

 

25         Jordan Juenemann         G          6-03      195       SR       Hays, Kan./Hays HS

 

31         Jamari Traylor               F          6-08      215       FR       Chicago,Ill./IMGAcademy[Fla.]

 

40         Kevin Young                  F          6-08      185       JR       Perris,Calif./Perris High School/Loyola Marymount

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches

 

 

 

Bill Self – Head Coach

 

Joe Dooley – Assistant Coach

 

Kurtis Townsend – Assistant Coach

 

Danny Manning – Assistant Coach

Results

Opponent

KU

Att.

Towson

100

54

(n) Kentucky

65

75

(n) Georgetown

67

63

(n) UCLA

72

56

(n) Duke

61

68

Florida Atlantic

77

54

South Florida

70

42

Long Beach St.

88

80

Ohio State

78

67

(n) Davidson

74

80

at Southern Cal

63

47

Howard

89

34

North Dakota

84

58

Kansas State

67

49

at Oklahoma

72

61

at Texas Tech

81

46

Iowa State

82

73

Baylor

92

74

at Texas

69

66

Texas A&M

64

54

at Iowa State

64

72

Oklahoma

84

62

at Missouri

71

74

at Baylor

68

54

Oklahoma State

81

66

at Kansas State

59

53

Texas Tech

83

50

at Texas A&M

66

58

Missouri

87

86

at Oklahoma State

70

58

Texas

73

63

vs.Texas A&M

83

66

vs. Baylor

72

81

ncaaDetroit

65

50

ncaa Purdue

63

60

ncaa North Carolina State

60

57

ncaa North Carolina

80

67

 

Statistics

Player

gp-gs

min

avg

fg-fga

fg%

3fg-fga

3fg%

ft-fta

ft%

Thomas Robinson

37-37

1169

31.6

247-482

.512

7-14

.500

154-226

.681

Tyshawn Taylor

37-36

1230

33.2

215-446

.482

57-148

.385

131-192

.682

Elijah Johnson

37-36

1190

32.2

137-322

.425

65-194

.335

32-46

.696

Jeff Withey

37-37

902

24.4

109-199

.548

0-0

.000

123-155

.794

Travis Releford

37-36

1138

30.8

113-226

.500

24-77

.312

63-98

.643

Conner Teahan

37-2

784

21.2

67-181

.370

50-147

.340

26-31

.839

Kevin Young

36-0

410

11.4

47-96

.490

3-9

.333

33-49

.673

Jordan Juenemann

15-1

47

3.1

8-18

.444

1-6

.167

2-6

.333

Justin Wesley

37-0

324

8.8

17-30

.567

0-0

.000

11-26

.423

Merv Lindsay

12-0

26

2.2

5-9

.556

1-3

.333

0-1

.000

Naadir Tharpe

32-0

175

5.5

11-38

.289

6-22

.273

1-2

.500

Niko Roberts

7-0

14

2.0

0-4

.000

0-1

.000

0-2

.000

Christian Garrett

7-0

15

2.1

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

Anthony West

1-0

1

1.0

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total……….

37

7425

200.7

976-2051

.476

214-621

.345

576-834

.691

Opponents……

37

7425

200.7

783-2061

.380

222-658

.337

490-685

.715

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Reb-O

Reb-D

Reb-Tot

Fl-DQ

a

to

blk

stl

pts

Thomas Robinson

105

333

438

104-2

71

101

34

41

655

Tyshawn Taylor

7

77

84

75-0

174

128

6

50

618

Elijah Johnson

14

100

114

87-2

134

65

2

54

371

Jeff Withey

77

153

230

93-1

28

44

129

22

341

Travis Releford

60

97

157

77-0

67

37

7

43

313

Conner Teahan

24

55

79

62-1

38

36

1

27

210

Kevin Young

48

58

106

57-0

23

27

14

20

130

Jordan Juenemann

1

7

8

4-0

2

2

1

1

19

Justin Wesley

26

33

59

69-1

1

11

14

6

45

Merv Lindsay

0

3

3

3-0

1

0

1

1

11

Naadir Tharpe

3

7

10

12-0

21

22

0

7

29

Niko Roberts

0

2

2

4-0

3

2

0

2

0

Christian Garrett

1

1

2

0-0

1

1

0

0

0

Anthony West

0

0

0

0-0

0

0

0

0

0

Team

60

40

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total……….

426

966

1392

647-7

564

480

209

274

2744

Opponents……

397

786

1183

686-x

413

510

119

242

2278

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Scoring

Rebounding

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Robinson

17.7

11.8

 

 

 

 

 

Tyshawn Taylor

16.7

2.3

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah Johnson

10.0

3.1

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Withey

9.2

6.2

 

 

 

 

 

Travis Releford

8.5

4.2

 

 

 

 

 

Conner Teahan

5.7

2.1

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Young

3.6

2.9

 

 

 

 

 

Jordan Juenemann

1.3

0.5

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Wesley

1.2

1.6

 

 

 

 

 

Merv Lindsay

0.9

0.3

 

 

 

 

 

Naadir Tharpe

0.9

0.3

 

 

 

 

 

Niko Roberts

0.0

0.3

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Garrett

0.0

0.3

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony West

0.0

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

Team

 

2.7

 

 

 

 

 

Total……….

74.2

37.6

 

 

 

 

 

Opponents……

61.6

32.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State Buckeyes

NO

NAME

POS

HT

WT

CLASS

HOMETOWN

0

Jared Sullinger

F

6-9

265

SO

Columbus,OH

1

Deshaun Thomas

F

6-7

225

SO

Fort Wayne,IN

2

Jordan Sibert

G

6-4

185

SO

Cincinnati,OH

3

Shannon Scott

G

6-1

180

FR

Alpharetta,GA

4

Aaron Craft

G

6-2

190

SO

Findlay,OH

10

LaQuinton Ross

F

6-8

225

FR

Jackson,MS

12

Sam Thompson

F

6-7

190

FR

Chicago,IL

14

Alex Rogers

G

6-2

195

JR

Cincinnati,OH

15

J.D. Weatherspoon

F

6-6

215

SO

Columbus,OH

23

Amir Williams

C

6-11

220

FR

Birmingham,MI

30

Evan Ravenel

F

6-8

260

JR

Tampa,FL

32

Lenzelle Smith, Jr.

G

6-4

205

SO

Zion,IL

44

William Buford

G

6-6

220

SR

Toledo,OH

55

Trey McDonald

C

6-8

225

FR

Battle Creek,MI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Coaches  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Thad Matta – Head Coach  
 

Dave Dickerson – Associate Head Coach

 

 
Jeff Boals – Assistant Coach  
Chris Jent – Assistant Coach  
                       

 

Results

Date

OSU

Opp

Wright State

73

42

Florida

81

74

Jackson State

85

41

North Florida

85

50

VMI

107

74

Valparaiso

80

47

Duke

85

63

Texas-Pan American

64

35

at Kansas

67

78

USC-Upstate

82

58

at South Carolina

74

66

Lamar

70

50

Miami (O)

69

40

Northwestern

87

54

at Indiana

70

74

Nebraska

71

40

at Iowa

76

47

at Illinois

74

79

Indiana

80

63

at Nebraska

79

45

Penn State

78

54

Michigan

64

49

at Wisconsin

58

52

Purdue

87

84

Michigan State

48

58

at Minnesota

78

68

at Michigan

51

56

Illinois

83

67

Wisconsin

60

63

at Northwestern

75

73

at Michigan State

72

70

Purdue

88

71

(n) Michigan

77

55

(n) Michigan State

64

68

ncaa Loyola (Md.)

78

59

ncaa Gonzaga

73

66

ncaa Cincinnati

81

66

ncaa Syracuse

77

70

 

Statistics

Player

gp-gs

min

avg

fg-fga

fg%

3fg-fga

3fg%

ft-fta

ft%

Jared Sullinger

36-35

1084

30.1

223-420

.531

16-38

.421

172-224

.768

Deshaun Thomas

38-38

1201

31.6

240-453

.530

49-138

.355

81-109

.743

William Buford

38-38

1285

33.8

199-479

.415

59-168

.351

90-109

.826

Aaron Craft

38-38

1215

32.0

111-219

.507

21-61

.344

91-128

.711

Lenzelle Smith, Jr

38-38

958

25.2

86-181

.470

29-77

.377

53-87

.609

Evan Ravenel

38-3

383

10.1

46-85

.541

0-0

.000

41-59

.695

J.D. Weatherspoon

25-0

157

6.3

29-47

.617

0-2

.000

18-31

.581

Jordan Sibert

24-0

273

11.4

24-79

.304

13-50

.260

10-18

.556

Sam Thompson

38-0

401

10.6

34-69

.493

1-14

.071

12-22

.545

LaQuinton Ross

9-0

35

3.9

5-15

.333

2-8

.250

6-7

.857

Amir Williams

28-0

188

6.7

19-36

.528

0-0

.000

10-28

.357

Shannon Scott

36-0

382

10.6

20-71

.282

1-18

.056

2-9

.222

Trey McDonald

13-0

38

2.9

1-6

.167

0-0

.000

0-0

.000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total……….

38

7600

200.0

1037-2160

.480

191-574

.333

586-831

.705

Opponents……

38

7600

200.0

815-2006

.406

231-710

.325

408-585

.697

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Reb-O

Reb-D

Reb-Tot

Fl-DQ

a

to

blk

stl

pts

Jared Sullinger

110

219

329

106-1

44

69

36

42

634

Deshaun Thomas

98

107

205

61-0

34

46

9

15

610

William Buford

33

154

187

68-0

103

81

9

32

547

Aaron Craft

22

104

126

94-2

178

82

7

95

334

Lenzelle Smith, Jr

51

125

176

74-0

76

46

5

34

254

Evan Ravenel

31

51

82

69-1

9

28

8

10

133

J.D. Weatherspoon

16

11

27

8-0

4

8

4

6

76

Jordan Sibert

5

28

33

21-0

18

14

1

11

71

Sam Thompson

10

30

40

34-0

27

19

14

7

81

LaQuinton Ross

0

4

4

5-0

1

3

0

0

18

Amir Williams

27

35

62

23-0

2

8

23

4

48

Shannon Scott

4

34

38

47-0

60

36

2

18

43

Trey McDonald

3

3

6

3-0

1

4

0

0

2

Team

45

50

95

3

 

3

 

 

 

Total……….

455

955

1410

613-4

557

447

118

274

2851

Opponents……

315

802

1117

717-16

383

562

109

187

2269

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Scoring

Rebounding

 

 

 

 

 

Jared Sullinger

17.6

9.1

 

 

 

 

 

Deshaun Thomas

16.1

5.4

 

 

 

 

 

William Buford

14.4

4.9

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Craft

8.8

3.3

 

 

 

 

 

Lenzelle Smith, Jr

6.7

4.6

 

 

 

 

 

Evan Ravenel

3.5

2.2

 

 

 

 

 

J.D. Weatherspoon

3.0

1.1

 

 

 

 

 

Jordan Sibert

3.0

1.4

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Thompson

2.1

1.1

 

 

 

 

 

LaQuinton Ross

2.0

0.4

 

 

 

 

 

Amir Williams

1.7

2.2

 

 

 

 

 

Shannon Scott

1.2

1.1

 

 

 

 

 

Trey McDonald

0.2

0.5

 

 

 

 

 

Team

 

2.5

 

 

 

 

 

Total……….

75.0

37.1

 

 

 

 

 

Opponents……

59.7

29.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

PiRate Criteria Scores

PiRate Criteria

KU

Pts

OSU

Pts

Scoring Margin

12.6

6.3

15.3

7.7

Field Goal % Margin

9.6

4.8

7.4

3.7

Rebounding Margin

5.6

3.4

7.7

4.6

Turnover Margin

0.8

0.4

3.0

1.5

Steals

7.4

 

7.2

 

R + T *

8.04

3.2

12.74

5.1

Strength of Schedule ^

.5858

3.6

.5890

3.9

Road W-L #

71.4

2.0

72.2

2.0

TOTAL

KU:

23.7

OSU:

28.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prediction: Ohio State 75  Kansas 69

We expect this game to stay close for most of the 40 minutes.  These teams are evenly matched, and Ohio State enjoys only subtle advantages in this game.  The Buckeyes are a tad better at rebounding and turnover margin, and we show OSU with about five extra scoring opportunities in this game

 

 

 

* R+T is the PiRate Ratings’ estimate of the margin of extra scoring opportunities per game for each team.  The formula is: (Rebounding Margin) + (0.2 *  Avg. Steals Per Game) + (1.2 * Turnover Margin).  The result shows how many more scoring opportunities the team gets than its opponents.  If the R+T is 10, that means a team averages 10 more scoring opportunities per game over its opponents.

 

^ Strength of Schedule is taken from the RPI ratings from CBS Sports.

 

# Road W-L% includes true road games and neutral site games.

March 24, 2012

NCAA Men’s Tournament Elite 8 Preview

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:23 am

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  A quick tutorial about Bracketnomics:  We have studied numerous statistical factors of all Final Four Teams from the 1950’s until 2011.  We isolated the statistical similarities of those teams and found certain shared statistical characteristics.  For the last eight years, we have been applying it to the NCAA teams trying to discover which ones shared these same statistics as the Final Four teams of yesteryear.  In five of the last seven years, we were pretty spot on with our selections.  For instance, in 2009, when Kentucky, Kansas, and Ohio State were listed as the heavy tri-favorites, our system showed Duke to be the top-rated team.  We went with Duke even though the Blue Devils were not being highly considered.  Now admittedly, we did not see Butler coming through to the Finals that year, or last year either, but we did rate Butler as one to watch to get to the Elite 8.

 

 

If you want all the details behind our PiRate Criteria Score, please refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

————————————————————————————————————

 

Six of the eight remaining teams in the Big Dance own 30 or more wins.  All of the sleepers are gone, and this is one of the strongest quarterfinals in years.

 

Here are the PiRate Criteria Scores for each of the Elite 8

 

 

 

Team

Pts

FG% Diff

Reb

TO

R+T

SOS

Rd W-L

Total

Baylor

5.0

2.70

3.3

0.2

3.0

3.6

4.0

21.8

Florida

5.7

1.90

1.7

0.9

2.5

2.2

0.5

15.4

Kansas

6.5

4.95

3.4

0.4

3.2

3.6

2.0

24.0

Kentucky

8.8

5.85

4.4

0.2

3.6

2.2

4.5

29.5

Louisville

3.8

2.30

1.0

0.6

1.9

3.8

2.5

15.8

North Carolina

7.6

3.35

6.2

0.9

5.5

4.5

4.0

32.0

Ohio St.

7.8

4.00

4.6

1.5

5.0

3.9

2.0

28.8

Syracuse

7.0

4.15

-0.9

2.9

2.9

2.4

4.5

23.0

 

 

All times Eastern Daylight Time

 

Saturday, March 24

 

East Regional: Boston

Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill “Man-to-Man” Raftery, and Lesley Visser

Network: CBS

 

4:30 PM

#1 Syracuse (34-2) vs. #2 Ohio State (30-7)

PiRate Criteria Score:  Syr 20.5  OSU 28.8

Syracuse criteria score now includes the loss of Fab Melo

 

Syracuse will feel the effect of not having Melo for this game.  Ohio State will enjoy a decisive advantage on the boards, and the Buckeyes will be able to take care of the ball, thus thwarting Syracuse’s number one asset.

 

We do not see this game getting out of hand, and we believe the Orangemen will stay within contention.  However, the Buckeyes are too strong inside, and this game will be decided in the paint.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 74  Syracuse 69

 

West Regional: Phoenix

Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Len Elmore, and Marty Snider

Network: TBS

 

7:05 PM

#4 Louisville (29-9) vs. #7 Florida (26-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: UL 15.8  Florida 15.4

 

It’s teacher vs. student in this pure tossup game.  The PiRate Criteria scores differ by just 0.4, which means we believe this game to be a 50-50 proposition.  The only reason we are going with the Cardinals is that they are the team with the 0.4 point advantage.

 

Both teams share minor advantages in different Criteria areas.  Florida has a small advantage in scoring margin, rebounding margin, and turnover margin.  Louisville has a small advantage in field goal margin, steals, strength of schedule, and record away from home.

 

Prediction: Louisville 65  Florida 64 OT

 

Friday, March 23, 2012

 

South Regional: Atlanta

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Tracy Wolfson

Network: CBS

 

2:20 PM

#1 Kentucky (35-2) vs. #3 Baylor (30-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: UK 29.5  BU 21.8 

 

Baylor actually matches up quite well with Kentucky, but with North Carolina not at 100%, the Wildcats are the class of the remaining octet.

 

Both teams own double-digit scoring margins, but Kentucky has the highest in the field at 17.6.  The Wildcats’ field goal margin difference is +11.7, which is very indicative of a Final Four team.  The Blue Misters’ rebounding margin is 7.3, to 5.5 for Baylor.  Turnover margin is the same for both teams, while Baylor owns a slight advantage in the steals department and a slightly tougher strength of schedule.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 80  Baylor 71   

 

Midwest Regional: St. Louis

Announcers: Marv “Yessss” Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager

Network: TBS

 

5:05 PM

#1 North Carolina (32-5) vs. #2 Kansas (30-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 32.0 *  KU 24.0

* Without Kendall Marshall, the Tar Heels’ score drops by 12.5 points to 19.5; this assumes that John Henson has no ill effects left from his injury.

 

As of this writing on late Friday night, it does not look like Kendall Marshall will be able to play in this game, and even if he plays, he will not dish for 10 assists, and he will commit a couple of extra turnovers.

 

Even if Marshall plays, we are going with the Jayhawks to beat the team we picked to win it all before the tournament started.  Missing a 100% Marshall is like the New York Giants playing in the Super Bowl without Eli Manning.

 

Prediction: Kansas 69  North Carolina 62

March 21, 2012

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  A quick tutorial about Bracketnomics:  We have studied numerous statistical factors of all Final Four Teams from the 1950’s until 2011.  We isolated the statistical similarities of those teams and found certain shared statistical characteristics.  For the last eight years, we have been applying it to the NCAA teams trying to discover which ones shared these same statistics as the Final Four teams of yesteryear.  In five of the last seven years, we were pretty spot on with our selections.  For instance, in 2009, when Kentucky, Kansas, and Ohio State were listed as the heavy tri-favorites, our system showed Duke to be the top-rated team.  We went with Duke even though the Blue Devils were not being highly considered.  Now admittedly, we did not see Butler coming through to the Finals that year, or last year either, but we did rate Butler as one to watch to get to the Elite 8.

 

 

If you want all the details behind our PiRate Criteria Score, please refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

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Four teams from Ohio and 10 teams from the Industrial Midwest in the Sweet 16, draw similarities between the 2012 NCAA Tournament and the 2012 Presidential Election.  The road to the White House will run through the Industrial Midwest with Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin more than likely being the decisive states.  The road to New Orleans will also run through these same states.

 

Let’s take a look at the eight games to be played Thursday and Friday in the regional semifinals.

 

All times Eastern Daylight Time

 

Thursday, March 22

 

East Regional: Boston

Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill “Man-to-Man” Raftery, and Lesley Visser

Network: CBS

 

7:15 PM

#1 Syracuse (33-2) vs. # 4 Wisconsin Badgers (26-9)

PiRate Criteria Score:  Syr 20.5  UW 17.7

Syracuse criteria score includes the loss of Fab Melo

 

We really like the chess match that this game should present Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.  The Orangemen will throw their 2-3 zone defense at the Badgers, and Wisconsin will need to have their X-zone continuity offense ready to counter it.  UW is a lot more comfortable with the swing offense, and their zone offense showed a lot of liabilities in the few minutes that Vanderbilt used a 2-3 zone at the end of the game.

 

The loss of Fab Melo still hurts Syracuse, but his replacements have taken up a good deal of the slack.  Syracuse had depth, and in the NCAA Tournament with all the extra-long media timeouts, depth is not as much of a concern.

 

The PiRate Criteria show Syracuse to have advantages in shooting percentage differential and turnover margin (plus steals), while Wisconsin has the rebounding advantage.  Because we do not believe the Badgers will be exploited via turnover margin, this game comes down to which team has the hotter shooting hand when they get open looks.  Syracuse is our answer to that question.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 66  Wisconsin 59

 

9:45 PM

#2 Ohio State (29-7) vs. #6 Cincinnati (26-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: OSU 28.8   UC 9.9

 

If you are 60 years or older, you may remember the last time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament.  In fact, you may remember the last two times.  For those under 60, here is a brief history of the NCAA Tournament in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

 

Possibly the best all-around basketball played in American history was Oscar Robertson.  He was the Willie Mays of basketball.  He could shoot from the outside, drive to the hoop, rebound, pass better than any current living player, play great defense, and pick up more steals than almost every team does today.

 

Official steals and assists were not kept as statistics in those days, but from a few unofficial statistics, Robertson probably enjoyed multiple games in college where he recorded a quadruple double—double figures in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.  Imagine Michael Jordan, LeBron James, John Stockton, and Dwayne Wade made into one player.

 

The Big “O” played college basketball at Cincinnati as a varsity player in the 1958, 59, and 60 seasons.  In 1959 and 1960, the Bearcats made it to the Final Four but lose both times in the semifinals to a great California team.

 

After Robertson left UC, the Bearcats were predicted to become a .500 team.  However, under new coach Ed Jucker, Cinti became the top defensive and rebounding team in the nation and proceeded to go to the Final Four in 1961, 62, and 63, becoming the first team to ever make it to five consecutive Final Fours.

 

Back to 1960, the Ohio State Buckeyes had enjoyed many great offensive teams, but poor defense had kept OSU from winning the Big Ten.  Coach Fred Taylor had recruited a fantastic class of players.  In fact, all five starters would play as regulars in the NBA after they graduated; two became all-pros and hall of famers; and one other would help lead his pro team to multiple NBA titles as a key guard.

 

That stellar starting quintet included Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Larry Siegfired, Mel Nowell, and Joe Roberts.  Some guy named Bobby Knight came off the bench.

 

In 1960, Ohio State lost a couple of close games prior to the Big Ten schedule and went through the conference like a hot knife through butter.  Once, the Buckeyes reached the NCAA Tournament, they recorded four blowout wins to take the title.

 

In 1961, Ohio State had an even better team than the 1960 champions, with almost the entire roster returning.  The Buckeyes ran the table in the regular season, finishing 24-0.  Cincinnati, of course, lost the Big O and their coach.  Lo and behold, the Bearcats lost three early games and then finished with a long winning streak, moving up to number two in the nation at 23-3.

 

Both teams continued to win in the tournament, making it to the Championship Game, where Cincinnati pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever pulled by the nation’s number two team.

 

The following year, the Bearcats were even better.  They lost twice during the regular season, but they played a very difficult schedule.

 

Ohio State was not as strong as 1961, but with Havlicek and Lucas now seniors, the Buckeyes were the class of the Big Ten once again, finishing with a 23-1 record.

 

It was almost a foregone conclusion that there would be a rematch in the Championship, and the two Ohio teams did not disappoint.  Cincinnati won again in another mild upset.

 

The Bearcats were supposed to have their best team in 1963.  They went 25-1 during the regular season.  They were the odds-on favorite to become the first team to win the NCAA Championship three years running.

 

A team from Chicago came out of nowhere to upset the apple cart.  Loyola, a team filled with a roster of African-American players from the South, where they could not play in the SEC or ACC, proved to be the Bearcats’ equal.  They took the title game to overtime and then pulled off the big upset in what would be the last Final Four before the dawn of the UCLA dynasty.

 

Now, back to 2012.  The hype for this game should come close to equaling the hype of your typical Ohio State-Michigan football game.  These teams will be fired up more than your average Sweet 16 team, and it will be extremely hard-fought and physical.  After the game settles down, Ohio State will prove to be the superior team.  The Buckeyes come out on top in field goal differential and rebounding margin, while they are equal to the Bearcats in turnover margin.  Cincinnati enjoys a better steals rating, but Ohio State has played a schedule that is on average about 4.5 points tougher.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 75  Cincinnati 66

 

West Regional: Phoenix

Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Len Elmore, and Marty Snider

Network: TBS

 

7:47 PM

#1 Michigan State (29-7) vs. #4 Louisville (28-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 28.9  UL 15.8

 

Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino know what it takes to get a team to the Final Four and win the national title.  Izzo has the better roster this year, so the Spartans have the advantage.

 

Looking at the Criteria scores, Michigan State wins in field goal percentage margin, wins big in rebounding margin, and enjoys a slight advantage in strength of schedule.  Louisville has the advantage in turnover margin and steals, and enjoys a very slightly better winning percentage away from home.

 

This will be an interesting game, and it is close to a tossup.  The key will be how Michigan State handles the Cardinal pressure and whether UL can keep the ball out of Draymond Green’s hands as the shot clock winds down.  We believe Louisville will come up short.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 69  Louisville 61

 

10:17 PM

#3 Marquette (27-7) vs. #7 Florida (25-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: MU 16.4  UF 15.4

 

Florida had the easiest path of any of the 16 teams still around.  The Gators won two blowout games to get to the Sweet 16, but neither opponent could exploit their inside weakness.

 

Marquette is not flashy, but Coach Buzz Williams gets the maximum effort out of his squad.  MU does not have an overly muscular team, but they can get the job done inside.  They were outrebounded by a tiny amount against a slate of some of the best rebounding teams in the nation.

 

Additionally, the Marquette backcourt matches up well with the Gator backcourt.  Florida will still win the battle of three-pointers, but our criteria actually discounts that rating in favor of locating teams that can score cheap baskets and second-chance points by controlling the boards.  The Marquette backcourt plays better defense and generates a lot of steals that lead to cheap baskets.

 

This game has the smallest criteria difference in the Sweet 16, and it could easily go either way.  It is basically a 51% to 49% advantage for Marquette. 

 

Prediction: Marquette 64  Florida 62

 

Friday, March 23, 2012

 

South Regional: Atlanta

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Tracy Wolfson

Network: CBS

 

7:15 PM

#3 Baylor (29-7) vs. #10 Xavier (23-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: BU 21.8  XU 8.6

 

A lot of other pundits are starting to jump on the Baylor Bearwagon.  Coach Scott Drew has built a team that has Final Four statistical qualities. 

 

Of the 16 teams remaining, Xavier’s Criteria Score ranks number 15.  The Musketeers have reached the end of the line.

 

Baylor bests XU in scoring margin, rebounding margin, turnover margin (Xavier has a negative margin), strength of schedule, and record away from home.  This game could get out of hand, but we believe Xavier has Tu advantages.  Tu Holloway should keep the Musketeers within striking distance.

 

Prediction: Baylor 73  Xavier 66

 

9:45 PM

#1 Kentucky (34-2) vs. #4 Indiana (27-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: UK 29.5  IU 16.9

 

Kentucky lost their only regular season game on a last second jumper in Bloomington.  This game does not need extra pressure added on, but it will.

 

These teams do not like each other.  They have been rivals for decades; each school believes their state plays the best basketball in the nation (neither are correct).

 

Adolph Rupp did not like Bob Knight.  Knight did not like Joe B. Hall.  Indiana fans today hate John Calipari.  Tom Crean once coached as an assistant in the Commonwealth. 

 

We believe this game will be close for the first eight to 12 minutes, before the Wildcats begin to go on a run and put it out of reach just before halftime.

 

With uncertainties in the roster at North Carolina, Kentucky assumes the top spot in the PiRate Criteria Score.  The Wildcats have considerable advantages over Indiana in scoring margin, field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and winning percentage away from home.  Blue Mist gets its revenge and heads to the Elite 8, as they paint Atlanta blue and make this almost a home game.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 80  Indiana 68

 

Midwest Regional: St. Louis

Announcers: Marv “Yessss” Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager

Network: TBS

 

7:47 PM

#1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. #13 Ohio U (29-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 32.0 *  OU 6.5

* Without Kendall Marshall, the Tar Heels’ score drops by 12.5 points to 19.5; this assumes that John Henson has no ill effects left from his injury.

 

All is not lost in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels are losing a lot with Kendall Marshall unable to go in this game.  Let’s take a look at some stats.

 

Marshall averages 33 minutes of playing time per game.  His likely replacement, Stilman White, averages 4.3 minutes per game.

 

Marshall connects on 46.7% of his field goal attempts.  White connects on only 23.8%.  Marshall’s three-point shooting accuracy is a tad over 35%, which is not exceptional, but White shoots only 20% from behind the arc.  Marshall averages nearly 10 assists per game, while White has 19 assists all season!  What’s worse is that there is no true point guard to back up White.  Justin Watts can move from forward to guard, but he is not a perimeter player that a Final Four team needs to have on the floor in the backcourt.

 

The Tar Heels are not in dire straits here.  They benefit from playing the weakest team left in the field.  North Carolina’s second five could compete with Ohio and have a 50-50 chance of winning this game. 

 

The Tar Heels’ strength of schedule is 10 points per game better than the Bobcats.  Yet, they enjoy a 2 to 1 advantage in scoring margin.  UNC has considerable advantages in field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and winning percentage away from home.

 

We have to discount the Tar Heels by 12.5 Criteria points without the top point guard in the tournament.  If Marshall can play Sunday and be anywhere close to 75% effective, he can lead his team to New Orleans.  If not, this could be Roy Williams’ last win of the season.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 77  Ohio U 62

 

10:17 PM

#2 Kansas (29-6) vs. #11 North Carolina St. (24-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: KU 24.0  NCSU 13.4

 

We have to make an admission here.  Coach Mark Gottfried is a former friend of our founder.  However, we strictly go by Criteria scores when we make our predictions, even though some of us will be rooting for the Wolf Pack.

 

Kansas now enjoys the best PiRate Criteria Score in the Midwest Regional, as long as North Carolina does not have Marshall.  The Jayhawks almost qualify for a point of home-court advantage, as they will come in droves across the state of Missouri to St. Louis.

 

Kansas actually comes out ahead in every criteria category in this game.  When that happens, it almost always leads to a double-digit win for the team with the better Criteria Score.

 

North Carolina State has given North Carolina fits, and we believe Gottfried will have his players charged and ready to go.  We do not see this game getting out of hand, but we do not see KU losing.  There will be plenty of Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU echoing through the rafters.

 

Prediction: Kansas 73  North Carolina State 64

March 17, 2012

NCAA Tournament Third Round Preview–Sunday, March 18, 2012

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  If you are unfamiliar with PiRate Bracketnomics, refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

 

On Friday, in the 16 games played, our system went a lousy 9-7, but then the higher ranked team went 8-8, so we did one better than the chalk. 

 

Here is our 3rd Round Preview for games to be played Sunday, March 18, 2012.

 

All times Eastern Daylight Time

 

12:15 PM  CBS 

Midwest Regional

#3 Georgetown (24-8) vs. #11 North Carolina St. (23-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: GU 18.4  NCSU 12.7

Georgetown has a little bit too much strength inside and excellent defense both inside and outside for the Wolf Pack in this game.  The Hoyas match up with NCSU about the same way Florida State did a few weeks back.  FSU controlled the game in Raleigh, and the Hoyas will control this one.  However, they will never really pull away, and it should be within striking distance until the last couple of minutes.

 

Prediction: Georgetown 68  North Carolina St. 60

 

2:45 PM  CBS

West Regional

#1 Michigan St. (28-7) vs. #9 St. Louis (26-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 27.4  STL 14.2

Rick Majerus has taken teams with this much talent deep into the NCAA Tournament.  He did it at Ball State more than two decades ago.  He did it at Utah more than a decade ago.  Can he repeat it a third time with the Billikens?

 

We say not this year.  Beating Memphis was nice, but SLU will not knock off this number one seed.  Michigan State has what it takes to make it to New Orleans, and with Missouri out of the bracket, the Spartans have a relatively easy road to the Final Four.

 

Prediction: Michigan St. 65  St. Louis 51

 

5:15 PM  CBS

Midwest Regional

#1 North Carolina (30-5) vs. #8 Creighton (29-5)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 31.1*  CU 15.1

* Without John Henson, subtract 4.6 points from UNC

Without Henson, the Tar Heels are beatable, but Creighton is not the team that will do it.  Kansas and Georgetown have what it takes to knock off a Henson-less Carolina team, but Coach Roy Williams has enough McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster to win this game.

 

Dylan McDermott cannot score 35 points against the Tar Heels, and he will have to top that for the Blue Jays to be in this one at the end. 

 

Prediction: North Carolina 85  Creighton 69

 

6:10 PM  TNT

West Regional

#7 Florida (24-10) vs. #15 Norfolk St. (26-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: UF 13.6  NSU -2.9

Norfolk State’s big upset over Missouri made headlines for just an hour or so, as the Spartans were pushed aside by Lehigh.  The way NSU beat Missouri shows that they must be respected, even with a negative PiRate Criteria score, mostly due to a weaker schedule than most NCAA Tournament teams.

 

Florida looked more like the team that started 19-4 than the team that finished 4-6 in the blowout win over Virginia.  We would have believed that the Gators would have been too quick for the Spartans, but Norfolk proved that they could handle the lightning quick Missouri team.  Florida can play halfcourt defense a little better than Missouri, and the Gators can shoot the outside shot better.  Additionally, Florida will hold its own on the boards in this game, and we believe Coach Billy Donovan has righted the Gator ship, and the orange and blue will continue to play like they did in the 19-4 start.

 

Prediction: Florida 84  Norfolk St. 72

 

7:10 PM   TBS

Midwest Regional

#12 South Florida (22-13) vs. #13 Ohio U (28-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: USF 5.1  OU 6.5

This is the first of two Cinderella game.  It is one of two third round games between double-digit seeds, and it should be a fantastic one to watch.

 

These teams know how to play patient, deliberate ball and tough defense.  One spurt could be enough to turn this game in the spurting team’s favor.  In the end, we will go with the team that we think has the better inside game, and that is the Bobcats.

 

Prediction: Ohio U 62  South Florida 59

 

7:45 PM  truTV

South Regional

#10 Xavier (22-12) vs. #15 Lehigh (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: XU 6.2  LU 5.7

This is the second of the Cinderella games mathcing teams that are double-digit seeds.  Lehigh pulled off the biggest upset in NCAA play in 20 plus years, and the Mountain Hawks have a decent shot at pulling off a second upset in this almost tossup game.

 

Xavier is as physical as Duke, but the Musketeers are not as refined in the finer points of the game.  However, they play much rougher than the Blue Devils, and Lehigh may have a tough time countering that.

 

Lehigh’s big star C. J. McCollum may be tough to defend, because Xavier’s guards are either too small (Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons), or Coach Chris Mack will have to put a forward (Dezmine Wells) on him.  It should make for a close game.

 

Prediction: Xavier 67  Lehigh 61

 

8:40 PM  TNT

Midwest Regional

#2 Kansas (28-6) vs. #10 Purdue (22-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: KU 24.0  PU 8.8

Purdue does not have the defensive acumen to slow the Jayhawks down.  Kansas has enough defense to slow down Purdue, and the Jayhawks’ offense is competent enough to score consistently.

 

KU will eventually have trouble with a team that can wear the Jayhawks down due to KU’s bench liabilities.  Purdue is not the team that can exploit that weakness.

 

Prediction: Kansas 77  Purdue 64

 

9:40 PM  TBS

East Regional

#3 Florida St. (25-9) vs. #6 Cincinnati (25-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: FSU 14.8  UC 9.3

 

This used to be a nice little rivalry in the old Metro Conference days.  On Sunday, the rivalry will rekindle, and basketball fans will be treated to a rough and tumble game.

 

We expect a defensive struggle with low shooting percentages and low scoring.  Rebounding will be the decisive statistic in this game, and Cinti cannot go head-to-head with the Seminoles.

 

Prediction: Florida St. 64  Cincinnati 58

March 16, 2012

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Round of 32–Games of Saturday, March 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:06 pm

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  If you are unfamiliar with PiRate Bracketnomics, refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

 

On Thursday, in the 16 games played, our system went 11-5, not bad but not good either.  In past years, our system has improved as the field is whittled down.  Let’s hope that trend continues. 

 

This preview is being written on Friday morning, before Friday’s games were played.  Check back tomorrow for previews of Sunday’s games.

 

Here is our 3rd Round Preview for games to be played Saturday, March 17, 2012.

 

12:15 PM  CBS—East Regional

#1 Syracuse (32-2) vs. #8 Kansas St. (22-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: Syr 22.9 *  KSU 14.0

* This figure does not include the loss of Fab Melo.  Syracuse’s true number without Melo is 10.4.

 

Without Fab Melo, Syracuse is about as talented as a #8 or #9 seed.  Kansas State is a #8 seed, but the Wildcats deserve to be a higher seed.  Coach Frank Martin will design a game plan to get the ball inside the Orange zone defense, and once there, Jamar Samuels will have one of his better days this year.

 

Syracuse will have to force 17-20 turnovers to win this game without Melo, and we do not believe they will pull off that feat.  Because Kansas State does not shoot well at the foul line, the final score may be closer than it should be.  We believe the first number one seed will fall.

 

Prediction:  Kansas State 72  Syracuse 66

 

2:45 PM  CBS—East Regional

#2 Ohio St. (28-7) vs. #7 Gonzaga (26-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: OSU 28.0  Gonz 16.0

 

Ohio State is a bigger and better version of Saint Mary’s, and Gonzaga did not match up all that well against Saint Mary’s this year.

 

This game will be one of spurts on both sides, because neither team is all that consistent.  When they are hot, both can score 20 points in six minutes.  When they are cold, both can be held scoreless for three or four minutes.

 

Gonzaga played lights out Thursday night against West Virginia, while Ohio State had a typical game.  The Buckeyes’ typical game should be repeated, while the Bulldogs bounce, just like a horse that won a big race four weeks earlier.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 73  Gonzaga 62

 

5:15 PM  CBS—West Regional

#3 Marquette (26-7) vs. #6 Murray St. (31-1)

PiRate Criteria Score: Marq 15.5  Murr 14.1

 

In 1966, tiny Texas Western entered the NCAA Tournament with just one loss.  Nobody gave the Miners any chance to win the National Championship, let alone make it to the Final Four.  Of course, we know what happened; TWU won the national title and forced many changes in Southern basketball.

 

Murray State is no Texas Western.  It is going to strike midnight on this Cinderella on Saturday.  Marquette is too strong and quick outside for the Racers to repeat their Thursday feat.  Murray will need to dominate inside to have a fighting chance, and still Marquette should aggravate the Racers’ guards and keep the ball out of the low post all evening.

 

Prediction: Marquette 67  Murray St. 59 

 

6:10 PM  TNT—East Regional

#4 Wisconsin (25-9) vs. #5 Vanderbilt (25-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: Wis 17.2  Van 12.9

 

This will be an interesting game.  Wisconsin will not turn the ball over, and the Badgers will play tenacious defense, especially on the perimeter.  UW will not get many if any fast break points and will be patient on offense, taking mostly high percentage shots.

 

Vanderbilt will try to run and keep the game more up-tempo.  The Commodores will get their fast break points, but they will commit 14-17 turnovers.  Defensively, Vanderbilt can guard inside and on the wings, but they can be exploited our front.

 

This should be a close game that is not decided until the last two or three minutes and maybe in the final minute.  When the going gets tough and the pressure is on, we will go with the team least likely to make a mistake.

 

Prediction:  Wisconsin 65  Vanderbilt 61

 

7:10 PM  TBS—South Regional

#4 Indiana (26-8) vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth (29-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: Ind 14.7  VCU 7.4

 

Can Virginia Commonwealth repeat what Butler did?  Can the Rams make it two consecutive Final Fours as an underdog all the way?

 

Indiana is not a guarantee in this game, but we can find nothing in our ratings to see how VCU will pull off the upset.  Indiana can handle pressure defense, and they can exploit presses with fast break points.  VCU will need to force a lot of turnovers and pick up double digit steals to win this game, and the Hoosiers are not a team that will cough it up enough times.

 

This game will come down to shot selection.  Indiana will play intelligently and shoot wisely, taking their time in the half-court and using their fast break opportunities.  The big difference is in the pivot, where VCU has difficulties matching up against Cody Zeller.  We tend to believe this game will be over before halftime.

 

Prediction: Indiana 73  VCU 59

 

7:45 PM  CBS—South Regional

#1 Kentucky (33-2) vs. #8 Iowa St. (23-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: Kent 29.1  ISU 7.6

 

This game should be fun to watch just for the two great matchups.  Anthony Davis versus Royce White and Scott Christopherson versus Doron Lamb will make this game worth watching.  As for the final score, there is no doubt in our minds that the Wildcats will advance to the Sweet 16.  Coach Cal got the players’ attention when they failed to show up against Vanderbilt. 

 

The 1996 ‘Cats lost in the conference tournament to Mississippi State and ran off six relatively easy victories to win the National Championship.  This team is more than capable of repeating that feat, although we believe there are a couple of teams better equipped to go all the way.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 74  Iowa St. 63

 

8:40 PM  TNT—South Regional

#3 Baylor (28-7) vs. #11 Colorado (24-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: Bay 22.1  Col 7.0

 

The stars may be lining up perfectly for Baylor.  The Bears could have a clear path to the Elite 8 and a date with Kentucky if they can play just up to their capabilities.  Without having to come up with a Herculean effort, BU is capable of getting by Colorado and winning their Sweet 16 game against any of the possibilities.

 

Colorado won the Pac-12 Tournament with a defense that looked more like Alabama’s football defense in the National Championship Game.  The Buffs pulled out an exciting thriller over UNLV, and we believe they have advanced as far as they can for this season.

 

Prediction: Baylor 67  Colorado 58

 

9:40 PM  TBS—West Regional

#4 Louisville (27-9) vs. #5 New Mexico (28-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: Lou 15.7  NM 21.2

 

This is where we are picking a big upset.  The seedings show it to be a #4-5 game, but in the minds of most basketball fans, a Lobo win would be a big upset.

 

Louisville has gotten by this year with really good defense and mediocre offense.  That will only get a team so far, and rarely will a team with inconsistent offense make it to the Sweet 16.

 

New Mexico is capable of making a run to the Final Four.  The Lobos play defense just as competently as UL, but they are much more consistent on offense.  Additionally, UNM can battle inside with the Cardinals and neutralize any perceived advantage in the paint.

 

This game should be close, and in the final minutes, we will go with the team that has better shooters and more depth.

 

Prediction: New Mexico 62  Louisville 57

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