The Pi-Rate Ratings

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!

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March 11, 2018

PiRate Ratings’ Bracket Gurus’ Final Predictions For the Field of 68

That Darn Davidson
Call it the Steph Curry Effect. It would happen that the one bid-stealing team in the Conference Tournament part of March Madness would be a team from a conference that played its championship game on Selection Sunday afternoon.

 
At least the Selection Committee had to deal with this contingency as well. If our Bracket Gurus know their stuff, they believe that bubble burst popping sound you just heard emanated from Moraga, California, and Saint Mary’s just became a number one seed in the NIT.

What about the other near miss teams?  Our gurus believe (but not unanimously) the bubbles had already burst on Louisville, Middle Tennessee State, Syracuse, Marquette, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma St.

Now, with Davidson getting in with the automatic bid, some non-guru bracketologists might simple place the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament and remove A-10 member St. Bonaventure. It doesn’t work like that. All of our Gurus already locked the Bonnies into the field. Saint Mary’s had the bottom score of the 68 teams, and with the Gaels sulking as they prepare to host an NIT game (or if our Gurus miss), now the #68 team is Arizona St. The Sun Devils are not really affected by the upset in D.C., if our Gurus have it right. They were already headed to Dayton as one of the Last Four in.

The team other than Saint Mary’s that suffered from Davidson’s win is the former last team in with a bye. USC was the number 64 team on the seed line, but after Davidson removed Saint Mary’s from the 11-seed line, it knocked the Trojans down to the fourth weakest Guru score. Thus, the Trojans are picked to join Arizona State, St. Bonaventure, and Texas in First Four games in Dayton.

Our Gurus had a difficult time narrowing the field of 68 from a field of 71. Word leaked out of the Selection Committee early Sunday morning, that all but one at-large spot had been determined prior to any games this afternoon. Our Gurus took that as a slap across 14 faces. If the Committee had it down to 69, then they could too. Between 8AM and Noon Eastern Time today, the Gurus agreed to vote Louisville, Middle Tennessee St., Marquette, and Syracuse off the Madness Island. Pending the outcome of the Davidson-Rhode Island game, the Gurus had the teams selected. A couple of late games might have affected a couple of seeds, as Cincinnati and Tennessee could swap with a Volunteer win and Bearcat loss. Tennessee lost to Kentucky in the SEC Championship, so Cincinnati should stay where they are, win or lose in the AAC Championship Game, which is about to tip off.
Since we are going to press before the American Athletic Conference Tournament ends, we told our Gurus to assume that Cincinnati wins the game and keeps their high seed.  There is a chance a Cinti loss could elevate another team from three to two seed, but we believe the Committee doesn’t want to mess with this contingency this late in the game.  We figured that time was more of the essence than waiting for the last game to finish.
So, with that in mind, here is the PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus’ Final Prediction. If we get 68 out of 68 again this year, it will be a minor miracle. It wasn’t easy for the Gurus to come close to a consensus. Middle Tennessee, Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, and Baylor all received at least one vote out of 14 Guru lists. Saint Mary’s, Arizona St., and Texas were left off at least 3 of the 14 ballots.

 

Seed Team Conference
1 Virginia ACC
1 Villanova B-EAST
1 Xavier B-EAST
1 Kansas B12
2 Duke ACC
2 Purdue B-TEN
2 North Carolina ACC
2 Cincinnati AAC
3 Michigan St. B-TEN
3 Tennessee SEC
3 Michigan B-TEN
3 Auburn SEC
4 West Virginia B12
4 Arizona PAC-12
4 Texas Tech B12
4 Wichita St. AAC
5 Clemson ACC
5 Gonzaga WCC
5 Kentucky SEC
5 Ohio St. B-TEN
6 Houston AAC
6 Florida SEC
6 Miami (Fla.) ACC
6 Arkansas SEC
7 Texas A&M SEC
7 TCU B12
7 Rhode Island A-10
7 Seton Hall B-EAST
8 Nevada MWC
8 Virginia Tech ACC
8 Missouri SEC
8 Providence B-EAST
9 Alabama SEC
9 Butler B-EAST
9 Florida St. ACC
9 Creighton B-EAST
10 North Carolina St. ACC
10 Kansas St. B12
10 UCLA PAC-12
10 Oklahoma B12
11 USC PAC-12
11 Texas B12
11 St. Bonaventure A-10
11 Arizona St. PAC-12
11 Loyola (Chi.) MVC
11 San Diego St. MWC
12 New Mexico St. WAC
12 South Dakota St. SUMMIT
12 Buffalo MAC
12 Davidson A-10
13 Murray St. OVC
13 UNC-Greensboro SOCON
13 Marshall CUSA
13 Charleston CAA
14 Bucknell PATRIOT
14 Montana B-SKY
14 Wright St. HORIZON
14 Georgia St./UT-Arlington SBC
15 Stephen F. Austin SLC
15 Lipscomb A-SUN
15 Iona MAAC
15 Penn IVY
16 MD-Baltimore Co. A-EAST
16 Cal St. Fullerton B-WEST
16 Long Island NEC
16 Radford B-SOUTH
16 UNC-Central MEAC
16 Texas Southern SWAC

Our Gurus’ Additional Picks

First Four Round in Dayton

11-seed line: Texas vs. Arizona St.

11-seed line: USC vs. St. Bonaventure

16-seed line: Long Island vs. Texas Southern

16-seed line: Radford vs. UNC-Central

 

Last 4 Byes

61. North Carolina St.

62. Kansas St.

63. UCLA

64. Oklahoma

 

First Four Out

69. Saint Mary’s

70. Middle Tennessee St.

71. Louisville

72. Syracuse

March 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 10 , 2018

Today’s PiRate Rating Spreads For Conference Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Vermont UMBC 12.4
Cincinnati Memphis 17.5
Wichita St. Houston 0.1
Rhode Island St. Joseph’s 6.7
St. Bonaventure Davidson -0.9
Virginia North Carolina 1.0
Kansas West Virginia 0.1
Villanova Providence 13.7
Montana Eastern Washington 4.2
UC-Irvine Cal. St. Fullerton 2.0
Western Kentucky Marshall 5.1
Harvard Cornell 6.6
Penn Yale 6.9
Buffalo Toledo 3.9
Hampton UNC-Central 3.8
New Mexico San Diego St. -4.9
Arizona USC 1.9
Kentucky Alabama 3.0
Tennessee Arkansas 3.0
SE Louisiana Stephen F. Austin -5.6
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Texas Southern -5.2
UL-Lafayette Texas-Arlington 5.8
Georgia St. Georgia Southern 3.1
New Mexico St. Grand Canyon 4.9

Games in Blue are Semifinal Contests

Games in Red are Championship Games

Today’s Schedules With Approximate Tip Times and TV

All Times are Eastern Standard (Remember Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday at 2 AM)

America East Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
11:00 AM #1 Vermont #2 UMBC ESPN2

Vermont is the home team in this tournament played on campus sites.  Because the rounds are spaced out, both teams had ample time to prepare for this game.  The Catamounts won handily in the two regularly-scheduled games.

UMBC’s only hope is to try to contain Vermont’s dominating power forward Payton Henson and be able to hit a lot of contested shots.  In the two previous games, Vermont held the Retrievers to well under 40% from the field.

Henson, the former Tulane bench warmer who became a star when he transferred to Vermont, controlled the boards in both games and led Vermont in scoring both times.

 

American Athletic Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #1 Cincinnati #5 Memphis CBS
3:30 PM #2 Wichita St. #3 Houston CBS
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM Cinti or Memphis Wichita or Houston CBS

Tubby Smith lives to see another day as head coach of Memphis.  Two nail-biting wins into the tournament, Memphis finds itself taking on the top seed for a chance to play for an automatic bid and steal a bid for the AAC.

Memphis failed to tally 50 points in either meeting with the Bearcats, and neither game was close.  If Cincinnati does not come out flat, and it is hard to imagine a team that hustles like the Bearcats coming out flat, there is little chance the Tigers will pull the upset.

The other semifinal game should be very interesting, and there is a possibility that this game could come down to the 40th, or maybe the 45th minute before a winner is assured.  Houston’s defense has been improving all year long, while Wichita State’s defense is still somewhat of a work in progress.  The Cougars have not been this good in 25 years, and they look poised to make another step forward, maybe even to the Sweet 16.

 

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #1 Rhode Island #4 St. Joseph’s CBSSN
3:30 PM #2 St. Bonaventure #3 Davidson CBSSN
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM Rhode Island or St. Joe’s St. Bona. or Davidson CBS

The two lower seeded teams move into serious bid-stealer territory.  Of the two, we believe Davidson has a rather good chance of pulling off back-to-back upsets of the top two seeds and steal a bid from a Louisville, Oklahoma, or Arizona St.

When Davidson ventured up to Olean, NY, to face St.  Bonaventure less than two weeks ago, it produced one of the most exciting games of the NCAA season.  The Bonnies eventually won in triple overtime 117-113, and the stat sheet was a masterpiece.  Three St. Bonaventure players topped 30 points, combining for 14 made three-pointers, while Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge had 45 points, and Kellian Grady had 39.  Today’s game may be decided by the three-point shot.  Both teams are strong defensively inside the paint.

Rhode Island is the class of this league, but the Rams are beatable, and St. Joe’s knows how to beat them.  How about a 30-point pasting by the Hawks over the Rams in Kingstown?  If they could win at URI, then St. Joe’s should surely be able to win on a neutral court in the nation’s capital.  Something tells us that Rhode Island will play with multiple chips on multiple shoulders today and get revenge.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM #1 Virginia #6 North Carolina ESPN

There seldom is need to give a lot of PR to the ACC Tournament.  The ACC Tournament is like football’s Rose Bowl.  It is the grandaddy of conference tournaments (aplogies to the Southern Conference Tournament, but the ACC is a bit more prestigious).

This should be a fantastic game tonight.  North Carolina didn’t fare all that well against the top-seeded and nationally top-ranked team this year.  The Tar Heels thought they had the Cavaliers Pack-line defense figured out in the first half, and it looked like this game would go down to the buzzer.  Then, a couple of fine-tuning adjustments totally stopped North Carolina for about 10 minutes, while Virginia’s offense slowly extended the lead out to double-digits.  The Tar Heels missed all of their shots in the second half of the second half.  UVa won by a dozen points, holding UNC under 50.

The mandatory statement that North Carolina is a much better team since that loss is required to be inserted here.  However, equal time forces us to state additionally that Virginia’s offense has improved almost as much in that time frame.

In other words, this game has the potential to be rivoting entertainment for you.  We expect the score to be around 60-60 with three minutes to play.  Then, who knows what might happen.  Past ACC Tournament history could help us predict something well worth watching.  We are excited about this game just writing these words!

 

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Kansas #3 West Virginia ESPN

Do we even need to hype this game?  In our opinion, the rivalry between KU and WVU is approaching that of the Yankees and Red Sox.  The contrast in styles between two A-1 coaches, and the talent level on the floor tonight will make this a game full of movement and spurts.  Kansas handled the Mountaineers press rather easily in both games, and WVU did not get many transition points.  In a half-court game, the Jayhawks are about 10 points better than the Mountaineers, so the question is, can Coach Bob Huggins find a new wrinkle that will force Kansas to commit an extra five turnovers tonight?  If so, then this game is a toss-up.  If not, then the Jayhawks cut down the nets yet again.

 

Big East Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #2 Villanova #5 Providence Fox

Usually, there is a tendency for the average generic sports fan to develop a temporary rooting interest for one generic team against another generic team–a game in which he or she has no ties to either team.  When a fan in Florida watches Oregon play USC, he or she might temporarily become a fan of one of the schools.  For instance, a typical guy in Orlando might cheer for USC solely because Trojan coach Andy Enfield married a former supermodel.

If you are one of the generic superfans, like all of us here on the PiRate ship, you are in a quandary tonight with these two teams.  Why is that?  It is because Villanova coach Jay Wright and Providence coach Ed Cooley are two of the best gentlemen in the game.  They are more than coaches to their players; they are second fathers, the type that dote over their children.

As for the game tonight, Villanova better not feel any overconfidence, because Providence has put all of its pieces together and has seen the finished puzzle of success.  The Friars are possibly still sitting on their best game of the season, and for that reason, we believe that at the least, Providence will cover in this game, and quite possibly win outright.  However, and this is a big however, the Friars have had to go to overtime the last two nights to get to this point.  Their legs may be a tad fatigued in the second half, while Villanova has won by comfortable margins and has rested their starters.  So, for that reason, the rest of the PiRates say the Wildcats are going to come out and be a bit too much for the underdog Friars.

What does this tell you?  Lay off this game if you like to invest in college basketball and just watch it for fun.

 

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM #1 Montana #3 Eastern Washington ESPNU

This is one of those tricky games.  Montana would appear to be the favorite, but in our opinion, the Grizzlies will have to play at the top of their talent level tonight to have a chance to win this game.  EWU lost a game at Idaho in early February that they should have won.  Since then, they have played like the king of the league, reeling off eight victories in a row by an average margin of more than 10 points per game.  The Eagles roster is a United Nations of basketball with players from Australia, Serbia, Lithuania, The Ukraine, and the Dominican Republic on the roster.

Montana has the best guard duo in the league, and in tournament play, strong guards lead to championships as long as there is adequate support in the front-court players, just enough to force defenses to stay honest.  Montana’s hopes for the NCAA Tournament rest on the shoulders of Ahmaad Rorie and Michael Oguine.  They were a combined 8 of 21 in the regular season loss to EWU.  Expect a 70-75 possession game tonight, and we believe Eastern Washington will send Montana to an automatic NIT berth.

 

Big West Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:59 PM #3 UC-Irvine #4 Cal St. Fullerton ESPN2

What did we tell you about this league?  The top four seeds were basically dead even in talent, and we believed that any of the four could advance and win the dancing invitation.  So, what happened late last night?  The two lower seeds advanced to the championship game.

If you live on the East Coast, you better get the coffee pot brewing after supper tonight if you want to see the last automatic bid of the day be handed out.  Tonight’s game is a great contrast in playing styles.  UC-Irvine wins by playing tough defense and controlling the boards, while Fullerton has a great passing offense that leads to taking open shots and not rushing the offense.

The two teams split the season series with both winning on the other team’s home floor.  This looks like a game where one team will jump for joy in the final few seconds of a closely contested game.  You may have to stay awake until after 2 AM on the East Coast if you want to know who got the bid.

 

Conference USA Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM #3 Western Kentucky #4 Marshall CBSSN

If you don’t have a dog left in the fight today, and you just want to watch a potentially incredible game in the evening, you might want to tune into this one.  All we have to say about Marshall is mention the coach’s name.  He is Dan D’Antoni, the brother of Houston Rocket coach Mike D’Antoni.  Houston is 51-14 in the NBA using the same type of playing style that Marshall uses.  The D’Antoni brothers are the Billy Beane’s of basketball.  They are high on analytics, and they believe that the offense has the best chance of scoring quickly before the defense can force a bad shot as the clock winds down.  It’s all about three-pointers and high percentage two-point shots, and the belief is that if your guards get the ball up the floor quickly, an open opportunity will develop in one of those two locations.

Of course, this works a lot better when one of your guards is James Harden.  Marshall has two guards that play at the collegiate level like Harden does in the NBA.  Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks can fill it up, and they both average in excess of 20 points per game.  Keeping defenses honest, the Thundering Herd have Ajdin Penava inside, but the offense itself creates close open shots for a host of average players, and any average player at this level can hit from three feet away.

What about Western Kentucky?  The Hilltoppers are notorious for playing their best ball in March.  This goes back for decades and decades through a who’ who of great coaches and players.  WKU is much like their big brother up in Lexington.  They go into tournament championship games with the prestige of the New York Yankees.  They expect to win, but they do not consider it a foregone conclusion, and the red uniform makes them put out an effort like every player is Enos Slaughter.  Both the good news and the not-so-good news about WKU is that they are a very balanced team with any of the five starters capable of scoring 20-25 points in a game.  However, sometimes, none of the five will take over and will the team to a victory.

Western swept the season series with Marshall, but we do not particularly love the Hilltoppers chance to get a three-peat in today’s championship game.  Marshall will come out loose and ready to play 75-possession basketball.  Western better be ready and not only come expecting to play 65-possession basketball.

 

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

The final conference tournament begins play today.  The Ivy League only sends its top four to the Palestra, so in theory the winner should usually be able to avoid a trip to Dayton.  If Penn or Harvard win Ivy Madness, they should be 16-seeds but avoid Dayton.  If Cornell wins, they are almost assuredly headed to Dayton, and if Yale wins, it would be a 50-50 guess.

Penn has the advantage of playing on their home floor, and the Quakers went 7-0 at home in Ivy League play.  Their two conference losses came at Harvard and at Yale, so the championship game should provide a bit of excitement.  Of course, Penn has to get past a Cornell team that gave the Quakers two close games in the regular season.

 

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Buffalo #2 Toledo ESPN2

The top two seeds found their way to the championship game, and we are returning to becoming confident in the Bulls.  Buffalo has the talent that if they can play with confidence and not become deer in the headlights, they could sneak past an opening round favorite in the NCAA Tournament.  We do not believe Toledo can do the same, but in the conference tournament, the Rockets could easily blast their way to victory.

These two teams played only once in the regular season, and it seems like it was a year ago.  Buffalo won on their home floor in an offensive shootout 104-94.  The difference in the game was the Buffalo ball-hawking defense.  The Bulls gave up a few easy baskets when their gambling defense did not force a turnover, but they forced Toledo into numerous turnovers that led to easy Buffalo scores.

This won’ be an 81-possession game like the first time, and if Toledo can take care of the basketball, they have the backcourt advantage with a couple of tall, sharp-shooting perimeter players in Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Jaelen Sanford.

If Buffalo is to hold serve and claim both the regular season and conference tournament titles, we believe that forward Nick Perkins needs to have a 20-point, 8-rebound game, and the Bulls need to force the tempo and not let Toledo slow the game down.

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #1 Hampton #6 UNC-Central ESPN2

Two teams with recent success in the MEAC will face off for the automatic bid.  Hampton has won the tournament title three of the last seven seasons under Coach Edward Joyner, while UNC-Central has claimed two of the last four under Coach LeVelle Moton.

Once again, this game presents an excellent study in different styles of play.  Hampton is more of a finesse team with better shooters, while UNC-Central has the superior power game and can control the action inside.  Finesse won out in the lone regular season game between the two teams, as Hampton shot lights out in a blowout win.

 

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 New Mexico #5 San Diego St. CBS

The two defensive behemoths easily advanced to the championship game, giving the Mountain West a second bid that came at the expense of a Louisville, Notre Dame, or Arizona St.

Either of these two teams will become a fierce, pesty opponent to a favored team in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.  New Mexico faced a major transition this year.  They raided in-state rival New Mexico State to hire Coach Paul Weir away from las Cruces.  Weir brought his tenacious, full-court press defense to Albuquerque, and the Lobos had growing pains for the first half of the season.

Since a rough start at 8-11, the Lobos improved by going 11-3 since mid-January.  The press began to pay dividends as the players obtained the needed live experience to see it work.  A much-improved up-tempo offense took off about the same time, as the Lobos gained confidence and went from a passive to a very aggressive team.

San Diego State basketball is all about outstanding pressure man-to-man defense and an inside power offense.  It’s much like the same offense that Aztec coach Steve Fisher used with the Fabulous Five at Michigan in the 1990’s.  Like New Mexico, SDSU had a slow start to the season, but they closed in a rush with eight consecutive wins by an average score of 78-64.  What they did to regular season champ Nevada last night should put a scare into any potential four or five seed team from a power conference.  The Aztecs looked like the UCLA team of 1970 in the semifinal trouncing of Nevada.  They controlled the boards like they had Sydney Wicks, Steve Patterson, and Curtis Rowe pounding the glass, as the former top team in the league trailed by 30 points in the first half!

Don’t expect New Mexico to be intimidated.  This game is going to be rough and tumble for 40 minutes, and if we had to pick one game where the referees may have to step in and separate the combatants in this war, this would be the game.

 

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
10:00 PM #1 Arizona #2 USC FS1

Usually, the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game is the key college basketball game on the West Coast, but it won’t even be the best game in the host city.  It won’t even be the second best game in that city.  Las Vegas hosts both the Mountain West and Western Athletic championships tonight, and unfortunately for the “League of Champions,” this will be the third best game in sin city tonight.

The outcome of the game will matter very little, as both teams have now secured spots in the field of 68, and neither will move much by winning or losing.  We do not particularly feel like either the Wildcats or Trojans will make much of a dent in the NCAA Tournament, as the Pac-12 needs a transfusion, with an infusion of better talent.  Sorry Pac-12 fans, but your league is suffering somewhat of a malaise.

 

Southeastern Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #4 Kentucky #9 Alabama ESPN
3:30 PM #2 Tennessee #6 Arkansas ESPN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM Kentucky or Alabama Tennessee or Arkansas ESPN

Once Missouri fell, we called this tournament the Kentucky Invitational, as that is what we knew it would look like once the Blue Mist fans bought up all the Mizzou fans tickets.

Arkansas bested Florida, and that made Kentucky’s path to the title all that easier.  Today the Wildcats basically need to put an extra half-body on Colin Sexton and then control the boards like they should to advance to the title game tomorrow for the umpteenth time in their history.

The other game should be much more interesting, as Arkansas and Tennessee match up evenly well.  Arkansas won the regular season game in Fayetteville 95-93 in overtime in a game before New Year’s Day.  The Razorbacks then went 9-8 the rest of the regular season, while the Vols went on to share the conference title with Auburn.

This tournament is screaming for a game between bitter rivals in blue and orange.  Tennessee has always been the principle rival for Kentucky in all sports, while Tennessee considers Kentucky its chief basketball rival.

 

Southland Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
10:00 PM #1 SE Louisiana #3 Stephen F. Austin ESPN2

We hope you read our preview of this conference tournament the last two days.  If not, we referred to #3 Stephen F. Austin as the champion thoroughbred horse that stumbled and lost the 2017 race but still figured to be the great champion of the past, while Southeast Louisiana and Nicholls State were the two currently sexy horses vying for the finish line.

The crowd at the race track watches the two new hot contenders sharing a four furlong lead over the champion horse, and all in attendance feverishly focus their eyes on the champion waiting for him to make that patented closing move to win the race from three-wide.

Last night, Stephen F. Austin began to move, and when they did, they looked like Whirlaway at the Kentucky Derby.  The Lumberjacks just ran past Nicholls State, putting the game away handily in the first half.  Now, they have Southeast Louisiana in their sights, and the Lions better be ready to roar in the Championship Game, because SFA doesn’t look to be losing any speed at the finish line.

 

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff #3 Texas Southern ESPN2

Our heart says Texas Southern tonight, because our leader has a past friendly relationship with TSU coach Mike Davis, but our brain says that Arkansas-Pine Bluff will become the first team ever to begin a season 0-14 and make the NCAA Tournament.

These two teams could play 100 times, and we would pick UAPB to win about 55-60 of those games.  The Golden Lions won two very close games over the Tigers in the regular season, and they seem to have their number.

The winner of this game is already put in the First Four in Dayton in permanent marker.  There is no need to pencil the winner this year.  Either a 19-loss or 20-loss team will earn an automatic bid.

 

Sun Belt Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM #1 UL-Lafayette #4 UT-Arlington ESPN3
3:00 PM #2 Georgia St. #3 Georgia Southern ESPN3
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM ULL or UTA Ga St. or Ga. Sou. ESPN2

Louisiana-Lafayette may be the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament with a coach (Bob Marlin) that has taken the Ragin’ Cajuns and formerly Sam Houston to the NCAA Tournament, but Georgia State also has the tournament experience coach on their sideline, as Ron Hunter has taken GSU and IUPUI to the Dance in the past.

What does this mean for UT-Arlington and Georgia Southern?    Ten years ago, Scott Cross guided UTA to a conference tournament title, while Georgia Southern coach Mark Byington has been slowly upgrading the program at Hanner Fieldhouse.

Don’t expect the two favorite to easily coast to the finals tomorrow, but the chances are better than 50-50 that both teams win tonight.

 

Western Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
10:00 PM #1 New Mexico St. #3 Grand Canyon ESPNU

There’s nothing more to say about this tournament than what we previously stated.  This just might be the best Championship Game of the entire lot this weekend.  New Mexico State has been tournament savvy since November, when the Aggies beat Davidson and Miami (Fla.) in Hawaii and almost knocked off USC for the championship.  After NMSU completed the regular season sweep of GCU, their record stood at 22-3, and the Aggies were on the verge of cracking the top 25.  But, playing an overly physical team like GCU can take its toll, and NMSU suffered by losing consecutive road games against the other top two teams of the four in this league.  The team recovered and since then has won five games in a row by an average of 16.8 points per game.

Grand Canyon has made great strides moving into Division 1.  The only for-profit university playing Division 1 basketball, the Antelopes have a student base from all over the country, as they have both a real campus and an online presence.  Of course, John Doe, a GCU online-only student in Augusta, Maine, is not eligible to play on the team, but his tuition might help the school fund the athletic program a little bit.  This could be the start of something big if the Antelopes make the Dance.  Imagine the University of Phoenix or Devry University trying this out.   And, what happens when Penn State or Alabama discover that they must begin to have an online university in addition to a real campus?  The NCAA might have to eventually establish some ground rules, when Dunkin’ Bill Duncan and Henry Hoopshot decide to attend classes at home but play on the basketball team, because they both live just 10 miles away.  Who will really be doing the homework???

 

 

 

March 9, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 9 , 2018

Today’s PiRate Ratings Spreads For Conference Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Cincinnati SMU 12.5
Tulsa Memphis 4.3
Wichita St. Temple 8.4
Houston Central Florida 7.3
Rhode Island VCU 8.5
St. Joseph’s George Mason 6.2
St. Bonaventure Richmond 8.9
Davidson St. Louis 7.1
Virginia Clemson 5.8
Duke North Carolina 3.1
Kansas Kansas St. 5.3
Texas Tech West Virginia -0.6
Xavier Providence 8.0
Villanova Butler 8.9
Montana Northern Colorado 2.6
Southern Utah Eastern Washington -7.8
UC-Davis Cal St. Fullerton 2.6
UCSB UC-Irvine 1.1
Marshall Southern Miss. 6.8
Old Dominion Western Kentucky -1.1
Buffalo Kent St. 10.3
Toledo Eastern Michigan 2.3
Hampton North Carolina A&T 3.5
UNC-Central Morgan St. 0.7
Nevada San Diego St. 4.4
New Mexico Utah St. 2.2
Arizona UCLA 1.9
USC Oregon 2.6
Auburn Alabama 6.4
Kentucky Georgia 4.9
Tennessee Mississippi St. 6.4
Florida Arkansas 1.7
SE Louisiana Sam Houston St. 0.8
Nicholls St. Stephen F. Austin -4.8
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Southern -0.7
Prairie View A&M Texas Southern 0.1
UL-Lafayette Texas St. 11.2
UT-Arlington Appalachian St. 4.7
Georgia St. UL-Monroe 7.3
Georgia Southern Troy 0.9
Utah Valley Grand Canyon 2.4
New Mexico St. Seattle 10.9

No Automatic Bids Handed Out Last Night and None Will Be Handed Out Tonight

Teams Already In The Field of 68

Team Bid Conf. W-L Avg Score
Bucknell AUTO Patriot 25-9 81-73
Charleston AUTO CAA 26-7 75-69
Gonzaga AUTO WCC 30-4 85-67
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13 80-76
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9 83-78
Long Island AUTO NEC 18-16 78-77
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5 72-62
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7 75-64
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5 77-66
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12 67-64
South Dakota St. AUTO Summit 28-6 85-74
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7 74-62
Wright St. AUTO Horizon 25-9 72-66

Conference Tournaments In Action On Friday

All Times are Eastern Standard

American Athletic Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Cincinnati #9 SMU ESPN2
2:30 PM #4 Tulsa #5 Memphis ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 Wichita St. #7 Temple ESPNU
8:30 PM #3 Houston #6 Central Florida ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM Cinti or SMU Tulsa or Memphis CBS
3:30 PM Wichita St. or Temple Houston or Central Fla. CBS
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

There are still a couple of potential bid-stealers in this tournament.  Tulsa and Temple are certainly capable of winning the tournament.  A complete defensive gem by the Owls could easily allow TU to pull off the mild upset of Wichita State, while Tulsa can flex its muscle with Cincinnati.  Those matchups are not guaranteed though, and Memphis, SMU, and Central Florida will not lay down and play dead.

 

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Rhode Island #8 VCU NBCSN
2:30 PM #4 St. Joseph’s #5 George Mason NBCSN
6:00 PM #2 St. Bonaventure #7 Richmond NBCSN
8:30 PM #3 Davidson #6 St. Louis NBCSN
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM URI or VCU St. Joes or G. Mason CBSSN
3:30 PM St. Bon. or Richmond Davidson or STL CBSSN
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

We are keeping a sharp eye on Davidson, as long as the Wildcats remain in the tournament.  The top two seeds are not so superior to the rest of the league that a team from the back of the pack couldn’t win this tournament.  Davidson is not only capable, they are peaking at the right time.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Virginia #4 Clemson TBA
9:00 PM #2 Duke #6 North Carolina TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM  Virginia or Clemson Duke or North Carolina  ESPN

What could be better than Duke and Carolina on a neutral court in March?  Only if this was two weeks later in March.  Virginia is merely the top team in the nation with an incredible defense to go with an underrated offense.  This Cavs team certainly has the look of a Final Four team, and if they cut down the nets in Brooklyn, they will most likely be the overall number one seed.

 

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Kansas #4 Kansas St. ESPN2
9:00 PM #2 Texas Tech #3 West Virginia ESPN2
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Kansas or Kansas St. Texas Tech or West Va. ESPN

The top four seeds advanced, which in this conference is a minor miracle.  Kansas State is now most likely safely in the field of 68, but the Wildcats might still be looking at a First Four game in Dayton.  An upset win today, would send KSU’s seed line soaring, and it could drop KU to a 2-seed.

The other semifinal game should be quite interesting.  Texas Tech handles pressure well, but West Virginia’s pressure is another story, especially this late in the season.

 

Big East Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #1 Xavier #5 Providence FS1
9:00 PM #2 Villanova #6 Butler FS1
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Xavier or Prov. Villanova or Butler Fox

All four semifinalists are safely in the NCAA Tournament field, and Xavier and Villanova have most likely secured number one seeds.  This should still be an interesting couple of rounds, especially if Xavier and Villanova meet for a third time.

 

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM #1 Montana #5 Northern Colorado Pluto tv
11:00 PM #10 Southern Utah #3 Eastern Washington Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM Montana or N. Color. S. Utah or E. Wash. ESPNU

Montana’s path to the automatic bid got a bit easier with 2-seed Idaho losing yesterday, but the Grizzlies still have work to do in this one-bid league.  Eastern Washington is blistering hot with a seven-game winning streak, which includes a win over Montana.  At this point , the Eagles are a better team than the Grizzlies.

 

Big West Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:30 PM #1 UC-Davis #4 Cal St. Fullerton ESPN3
11:55 PM #2 UCSB #3 UC-Irvine ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:55 PM UC-Davis or CS Fullerton UCSB or UC-Irvine ESPN2

The top four seeds advanced to the semifinals, and this one is a complete toss-up.  If they staged this tournament 40 times, each of the four might win it 10 times.  Cal State Fullerton swept top-seed UC-Davis, but our money is on Davis and Irvine advancing.

 

Conference USA Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:30 PM #4 Marshall #9 Southern Miss. CBSSN
4:00 PM #2 Old Dominion #3 Western Kentucky CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM Marshall or Southern Miss ODU or WKU CBSSN

There might be a bid stolen here.  Top-seed Middle Tennessee was hit by the upset bug last night, as Southern Mississippi looked like the better team for most of the night.  The Blue Raiders have now dropped their last two games, and their resume is iffy.  In years prior to the new selection committee criteria, Middle wouldn’t even be in contention.  Road wins over Murray State and Western Kentucky still make for a thin resume.

The one sure thing is that somebody other than Middle will win an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Old Dominion and Western Kentucky should have a fantastic semifinal game tonight, but we are more interested in Marshall.  The Thundering Herd might be the toughest matchup out of this league for a team that has not seen Marshall play.

By the way, if you were wondering about the two court setup for this tournament, you could definitely hear the bands and public address system from court B during court A games.  On the other hand, you could position yourself in such a way in the football stands that you could watch both games at the same time.

 

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #1 Buffalo #5 Kent St. CBSSN
9:00 PM #2 Toledo #3 Eastern Michigan See *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Buffalo or Kent St. Toledo or EMU ESPN2

At one point this season, we thought that Buffalo was a possible Sweet 16 team, but the Bulls peaked in late January and have sort of coasted home with the top seed.  Toledo looked like a better team in early February.  Then, just as quick as a person could notice the change, things reversed.  Buffalo regained their composure and reached another peak, while Toledo stagnated.

Have you ever watched a horse race where the top two horses fought hard down the backstretch, fighting for the lead, and then from out of nowhere another horse comes from off the pace to put the two co-leaders away?  Well, we are sort of getting that feeling like Buffalo and Toledo are those two co-leading horses, and while few are noticing, Eastern Michigan is making a gallant effort for the lead in a 3-wide bid at the turn.

EMU has quietly won seven games in a row and nine of 10.  In that time, they have won by having outstanding shooting nights, coming up with incredible defensive efforts, and many ways in between.  Coach Rob Murphy has a reputation for developing small forwards and power forwards,  and he has the league’s best tandem in Elijah Minnie and James Thompson.  Throw in a competent backcourt general in Paul Jackson, and EMU may be the real team to beat in Cleveland.

 

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #1 Nevada #5 San Diego St. CBSSN
11:30 PM #3 New Mexico #7 Utah St. CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Nevada or SDSU New Mexico or Utah St. CBS

Nevada is one of those teams that many college basketball experts believed had Sweet 16 potential.  The Wolf Pack certainly looked capable of winning twice in the NCAA Tournament, and maybe even challenging to become another Butler or VCU, but in the last two weeks, Nevada has not looked as sharp as they did earlier in the year.

Boise State laid an egg yesterday, falling to Utah State, while San Diego State and New Mexico played stellar defense and advanced.  We can make a case where SDSU or New Mexico could win the tournament and steal a bid, but we also believe that Coach Eric Musselman will figure out a way to guide his Wolf Pack to the tournament title and keep Nevada in contention for a single-digit seed.

It might be ugly and a bit sloppy, but the New Mexico-San Diego State game might be one you want to watch.  The Lobos’ press defense is looking as strong as Press Virginia’s, while SDSU’s half-court pressure defense is starting to look like the 2014 team that led Arizona late in the second half in the Elite 8.

 

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #1 Arizona #4 UCLA Pac12
11:30 PM #2 USC #6 Oregon FS1
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
10:00 PM Arizona or UCLA USC or Oregon FS1

The Pac-12 brass is feeling a little better this morning than this time yesterday, as UCLA and USC won to most likely secure NCAA Tournament berths.  At this time yesterday, there was a possibility that this could become a one-bid league.  With Oregon coming from behind to edge Utah, the Ducks are still in the running for the automatic bid and capable of winning it tomorrow night.  So, this could go from a possible one-bid league to a four-bid league in 48 hours!

Southeastern Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #1 Auburn #9 Alabama ESPN
3:30 PM #4 Kentucky #12 Georgia ESPN
7:00 PM #2 Tennessee #7 Mississippi St. SECTV
9:30 PM #3 Florida #6 Arkansas SECTV
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM Auburn or Alabama Kentucky or Georgia ESPN
3:30 PM Tennessee or Mississippi St. Florida or Arkansas ESPN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN

The quasi-home team Missouri was dismissed from the tournament by Georgia yesterday, and now we think this could turn into the UKIT like many past SEC Tournaments.  St. Louis will be painted royal blue while Kentucky continues to remain in the tournament, and the path to the trophy has split open like the parting of the Red Sea.  The Wildcats get a fatigued Georgia team that does not match up all that well with Kentucky’s size.  Then, if the Wildcats win, they would face either a wounded Auburn team lacking any big man talent or an Alabama team that we cannot see beating Kentucky.  It would place the Wildcats in the Championship Game on Sunday.

The other side of the bracket is more exciting.  Mississippi State is fighting for some respect and needs two more wins just to get into the Bubble discussion.  They lost at home to Tennessee last week by 20 points.  Arkansas and Florida are similar in talent and playing style.  Whichever team can sink the threes will most likely win.

A Kentucky-Tennessee final would be quite interesting and very possible.

Southland Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 SE Louisiana #4 Sam Houston St. ESPN3
8:30 PM #2 Nicholls St. #3 Stephen F. Austin ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM SE La. or SHSU Nicholls or SF Austin ESPN2

We talked about it yesterday.  Stephen F. Austin is like a champion race horse that lost its previous race and is no longer the favorite.  Two other horses, Southeast Louisiana and Nicholls State, have led this 10-furlong race through the first mile and do not appear to be slowing down as they entire the stretch.  Will SFA make its vaunted stretch run like it has in so many other races in the past, or is this horse going to putter out and watch the two new studs battle it out for supremacy?

What do we think?  We think Stephen F. Austin still has one incredible run left in this race, and we believe the Lumberjacks will cross the line ahead of the two co-favorites.

 

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:30 PM #1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff #4 Southern TBA
9:30 PM #2 Prairie View A&M #3 Texas Southern TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM  UAPB or Southern PVAM or TSU  ESPN2

The top four seeds advanced to the semifinals, and there is now a remote chance that this league could avoid a trip to Dayton if a couple of long shots win the remaining low-major tournaments.  If Prairie View wins the tournament, they will be 18-17, but the other three teams would have losing records (Pine Bluff has 20 losses), so it would be a given that any of the three would be forced to play in Dayton.

 

Sun Belt Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM #1 UL-Lafayette #9 Texas St. ESPN3
3:00 PM #4 UT-Arlington #5 Appalachian St. ESPN3
6:00 PM #2 Georgia St. #7 UL-Monroe ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 Georgia Southern #6 Troy ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM UL-Lafayette or Texas St. UT-Arlington or Appy St. ESPN3
3:00 PM Ga. St. or UL-Monroe Geo. Southern or Troy ESPN3
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM     ESPN2

Louisiana Lafayette faces some stiff competition against three or four possible upset-minded foes.  The Ragin’ Cajuns will only earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament field if it is automatic, but they will not coast to the bid.  Georgia State and Georgia Southern are almost as talented as ULL.

Texas State had lost nine games in a row prior to yesterday’s mild upset over Coastal Carolina.  Louisiana should romp today to make the semifinals, but things will get much tougher tomorrow if UT-Arlington also wins today.

 

Western Athletic Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #2 Utah Valley #3 Grand Canyon ESPN3
11:30 PM #1 New Mexico St. #4 Seattle ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
10:00 PM UVU or GCU NMSU or Seattle ESPNU

We watched the WAC games yesterday and came away impressed with the four winners.  New Mexico State looked to be clicking on all cylinders again, and maybe the Aggies are primed to peak at the right time.  On paper, Seattle should not compete with NMSU, but the Redhawks split with the Aggies during the regular season and will not be intimidated.

The Utah Valley-Grand Canyon game will be ugly to watch but exciting at the same time.  60 points will most likely win this game, and the 60 will not be due to slow pace.  Two hustling defenses with blood and guts being spilled on the backboard and floor should make this game a war of attrition.  The only issue will be whether or not the winner has anything left in the tank to face New Mexico State or Seattle tomorrow.  You might can tell that we will be watching this tournament again tonight.

March 8, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 8 , 2018

Thursday’s PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament Spreads

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Connecticut SMU -5.7
Memphis South Florida 7.4
Temple Tulane 5.7
Central Florida East Carolina 13.2
VCU Dayton 1.3
George Mason Massachusetts -0.8
Richmond Duquesne 0.9
St. Louis George Washington 3.3
Virginia Louisville 6.9
Clemson Boston College 5.6
Duke Notre Dame 9.3
Miami (Fla.) North Carolina -6.4
Kansas St. TCU -3.4
Kansas Oklahoma St. 5.4
Texas Tech Texas 4.7
West Virginia Baylor 4.0
Xavier St. John’s 7.4
Creighton Providence 5.2
Villanova Marquette 11.1
Seton Hall Butler -0.4
Montana North Dakota 11.5
Weber St. Northern Colorado -2.0
Idaho Southern Utah 9.4
Eastern Washington Portland St. 1.6
UC-Davis UC-Riverside 9.0
Cal St. Fullerton Long Beach St. 1.6
UC-Irvine Hawaii 4.5
UCSB Cal Poly 12.4
Middle Tennessee Southern Miss. 13.5
Marshall UTSA 3.2
Old Dominion Louisiana Tech 7.0
Western Kentucky UAB 3.5
Buffalo Central Michigan 7.1
Ball St. Kent St. 3.2
Toledo Miami (O) 5.6
Eastern Michigan Akron 6.8
Savannah St. UNC-Central -1.8
North Carolina A&T Norfolk St. -0.1
Nevada UNLV 8.8
Fresno St. San Diego St. -1.4
Boise St. Utah St. 7.4
New Mexico Wyoming 0.1
Arizona Colorado 8.3
UCLA Stanford 3.9
USC Oregon St. 4.7
Utah Oregon 0.4
Texas A&M Alabama 2.3
Missouri Georgia 2.4
Mississippi St. LSU -0.5
Arkansas South Carolina 4.2
Sam Houston St. New Orleans 2.0
Stephen F. Austin Central Arkansas 5.3
Grand Canyon UMKC 11.1
Utah Valley Cal St. Bakersfield 10.2
New Mexico St. Chicago St. 25.4
Seattle Texas-Rio Grande Valley 3.4

One Team Earned An Automatic NCAA Tournament Bid on Wednesday

Patriot League Tournament
Bucknell 83 Colgate 54

No Automatic NCAA Tournament Bids Will Be Issued on Thursday

Teams That Have Earned An Automatic NCAA Tournament Bid

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

Conference Tournaments Beginning Today

American Athletic Conference Tournament
Orlando, FL
First 3 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Connecticut #9 SMU ESPNU
2:30 PM #5 Memphis #12 South Florida ESPNU
6:00 PM #7 Temple #10 Tulane ESPNU
8:30 PM #6 Central Florida #11 East Carolina ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Cincinnati UConn or SMU ESPN2
2:30 PM #4 Tulsa Memphis or USF ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 Wichita St. Temple or Tulane ESPNU
8:30 PM #3 Houston UCF or ECU ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM Cin/UConn/SMU Tulsa/Mem/USF CBS
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 Hou/UCF/ECU CBS
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

The top three seeds have NCAA bids guaranteed at this point, so it will take a 4-seed or lower for a bid to be stolen from this league.  Tulsa has promise.  On a given day, they can compete with the top three.  However, in order to win the conference tournament, Tulsa will have to have three solid given days and wins most likely over Memphis, Cincinnati, and Wichita St.  It isn’t very likely to happen.

On a neutral floor, Cincinnati’s great defense and Wichita State’s great offense should be adequate in stopping the rest of the league, and a rubber game between the top two teams is highly likely.

 

 

Big West Conference Tournament
Anaheim, CA
Top 8 Teams Qualify & Tournament Re-seeds for Semifinals
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 UC-Davis #8 UC-Riverside FSWest
2:30 PM #4 Cal St. Fullerton #5 Long Beach St. FSWest
6:00 PM #3 UC-Irvine #6 Hawaii FSWest
8:30 PM #2 UCSB #7 Cal Poly FSWest
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
9:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

In a one-bid league, the action is always exciting, as one slip up means curtains for any team.  In the Big West this year, no team has stepped up to become dominant over the rest of the league, and that should mean this tournament will be extremely exciting.

UC-Davis won its final five games of the regular season, but the Aggies won two of those games in overtime and another by just a point.  They were swept by 4th-seed Cal State Fullerton, a team that UCD would probably face again in the semifinals.

UCSB may have the best overall talent.  The Gauchos handle the ball better than any other team in the league, but they seldom force their opponents into mistakes.  They would need to be hot from the field to win the tournament.

 

Western Athletic Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Home Visitors TV
12:00 PM #3 Grand Canyon #6 UMKC ESPN3
2:30 PM #2 Utah Valley #7 Cal St. Bakersfield ESPN3
6:00 PM #1 New Mexico St. #8 Chicago St. ESPN3
8:30 PM #4 Seattle #5 Texas-Rio Grande Valley ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM GCU or UMKC UVU or CSUB ESPN3
8:30 PM NMSU or CSU Seattle or TRGV ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPNU

Sometimes, it’s the little known conference tournaments that provide both the most intrigue and excitement.  We here on the PiRate ship may be a little loopy from recent rough waters, but in our opinion, this might be the best conference tournament of all!

Start with New Mexico St.  The Aggies looked unbeatable in conference action earlier in the season.  Easy double digit wins over the top three contenders made the WAC race look insignificant after January.  Then, something changed.  Seattle, Grand Canyon, and Utah Valley started to hit their stride.  The race tightened in February, and NMSU lost back-to-back games against Utah Valley and Seattle, after narrowly beating Grand Canyon at home.

NMSU beat Miami and almost beat USC in Hawaii in November.  They still enter this tournament as the team to beat with exceptional offensive and defensive competence.  However, one cold shooting streak or maybe a hot perimeter streak by an opponent could be enough to turn one game around.

Grand Canyon is the hot team entering the conference tournament.  The Antelopes are an extension of Coach Dan Majerle.  Thunder Dan saved his best for the NBA Playoffs, and GCU will most likely be ready to play from the get-go.

If you are looking for a league tourney other than your favorite team’s league tourney, or just want to have some great late night entertainment, tune into the WAC Tournament.

Conference Tournaments Continuing Today

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

 

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8  EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Virginia #9 Louisville ESPN
2:00 PM #4 Clemson #12 Boston College ESPN
7:00 PM #2 Duke #10 Notre Dame ESPN
9:00 PM #3 Miami (Fla.) #6 North Carolina ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9   EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Virginia or Louisville Clemson or Boston Coll. TBA
9:00 PM Duke or Notre Dame Miami or North Carolina TBA
       
Championship–March 10   EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

 

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

 

Big East Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8  EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Xavier #9 St. John’s FS1
2:30 PM #4 Creighton #5 Providence FS1
7:00 PM #2 Villanova #7 Marquette FS1
9:30 PM #3 Seton Hall #6 Butler FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9   EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Xavier or St. John’s Creighton or Providence FS1
9:00 PM Villanova or Marquette S. Hall or Butler FS1
       
Championship–March 10  EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM     Fox

 

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8  PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Montana #8 North Dakota Pluto tv
2:30 PM #4 Weber St. #5 Northern Colorado Pluto tv
5:30 PM #2 Idaho #10 Southern Utah Pluto tv
8:00 PM #3 Eastern Washington #6 Portland St. Pluto tv
       
Semifinals–March 9   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM Mont/UND Weber/N. Colorado Pluto tv
8:00 PM Idaho/S.Utah E.Washington/Portland St. Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPNU

 

Conference USA Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8   CST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Middle Tennessee #9 Southern Miss. Stadium
6:30 PM #4 Marshall #5 UTSA Stadium
8:30 PM #2 Old Dominion #10 Louisiana Tech Stadium
9:00 PM #3 Western Kentucky #6 UAB Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 9   CST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM MTSU or Southern Miss Marshall or UTSA CBSSN
3:00 PM ODU or La. Tech Western Ky. or UAB CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10   CST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

 

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8   EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Buffalo #8 Central Michigan ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 Ball St. #5 Kent St. ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 Toledo #7 Miami (O) ESPN3
9:00 PM #3 Eastern Michigan #11 Akron ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9   EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Buff/CMU Ball/Kent CBSSN
9:00 PM Tol/Mia EMU/Akron See *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10   EST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

 

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

 

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Nevada #8 UNLV CBSSN
2:30 PM #4 Fresno St. #5 San Diego St. CBSSN
6:00 PM #2 Boise St. #7 Utah St. CBSSN
8:30 PM #3 New Mexico #6 Wyoming CBSSN
       
Semifinals–March 9   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Nevada or UNLV FSU or SDSU CBSSN
8:30 PM Boise St. or Utah St. New Mexico or Wyoming CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

 

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Arizona #8 Colorado Pac12
2:30 PM #4 UCLA #5 Stanford Pac12
6:00 PM #2 USC #10 Oregon St. Pac12
8:30 PM #3 Utah #6 Oregon FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9   PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Arizona or Colorado UCLA or Stanford Pac12
8:30 PM USC or Oregon St. Utah or Oregon FS1
       
Championship–March 10  PST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     FS1

 

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

 

Southland Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 8   CST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #4 Sam Houston St. #5 New Orleans ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 Stephen F. Austin #7 Central Arkansas ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9   CST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #1 SE Louisiana Sam Houston or UNO ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 Nicholls St. SF Austin or Cent. Ark. ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10   CST
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 7, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 7, 2018

Today’s PiRate Ratings For Conference Tournament Games

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

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

Last Night’s Conference Tournament Championship Games

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

Teams With Automatic Bids to the Dance

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

Conference Championship Games Scheduled For Wednesday

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

 

Conference Tournaments Beginning Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Conference Tournaments Continuing Today

All times EST

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 6, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 6, 2018

PiRate Rating Spreads for Tuesday’s Conference Tournament Games

Home Team Visitor  
or Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Vermont Stony Brook 14.1
UMBC Hartford 4.7
Boston College Georgia Tech 3.5
Notre Dame Pittsburgh 16.4
Syracuse Wake Forest 3.3
North Dakota Montana St. 0.7
Northern Colorado Northern Arizona 14.8
Idaho St. Southern Utah 2.9
Portland St. Sacramento St. 9.1
Charleston Northeastern -0.5
Wright St. Cleveland St. 9.8
Howard Florida A&M 2.3
UNC-Central Coppin St. 7.8
Morgan St. South Carolina St. 5.2
Wagner Long Island 8.7
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Mississippi Valley St. 9.3
Southern Jackson St. 5.9
Texas Southern Alabama St. 12.0
Prairie View A&M Alcorn St. 9.6
South Dakota St. South Dakota -1.4
Gonzaga BYU 9.4

Games in RED are Championship Games for NCAA Tournament Bids

Teams That Won Conference Championships Last Night

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Iona 83 Fairfield 71
Southern Conference Tournament
UNC-Greensboro 62 East Tennessee St. 47

List of Teams In the Field as of Tuesday Morning

Team Bid Conf. W-L
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7

 

NCAA Bids Up For Grabs Tonight

All Times EST

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
Championship–March 6  
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Charleston #2 Northeastern CBSSN

 

Horizon League Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #2 Wright St. #8 Cleveland St. ESPN

Note: Cleveland State comes into this game tonight sporting a 12-22 record.  If they upset Wright State (24-9), the Vikings will most likely become one of the 16-seeds that must play a First Four game in Dayton.

Northeast Conference Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Wagner #4 Long Island ESPN2

 

Summit League Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM #1 South Dakota St. #2 South Dakota ESPN2

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Gonzaga #3 BYU ESPN

Note:  BYU is a potential Bid Stealer.  If the Cougars upset the Bulldogs tonight at Orleans Arena, then the West Coast Conference would most likely send three teams instead of two to the NCAA Tournament, bursting the bubble of one of the teams on the fence, such as Alabama, Kansas St., USC, or UCLA.

Conference Tournaments Beginning Today

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Brooklyn
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #12 Boston College #13 Georgia Tech ESPN2
2:00 PM #10 Notre Dame #15 Pittsburgh ESPN2
7:00 PM #11 Syracuse #14 Wake Forest ESPNU
       
Second Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Florida St. #9 Louisville ESPN
2:00 PM #5 North Carolina St. Boston Coll. or Ga. Tech ESPN
7:00 PM #7 Virginia Tech N.Dame or Pitt ESPN2
9:00 PM #6 North Carolina Syracuse or Wake Forest ESPN2
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Virginia Fla. St. or Louis. ESPN
2:00 PM #4 Clemson NCSt/BC/GaT ESPN
7:00 PM #2 Duke VaT/N.Dame/Pitt ESPN
9:00 PM #3 Miami (Fla.) UNC/Syr/Wake For ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM UVa/FSU/Louis. Clem/NCSt/BC/GaT TBA
9:00 PM Duke/VaT/ND/Pitt Mia.UNC/Syr/WF TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

Note: #10 Seed Notre Dame is a team to monitor in this tournament.  With star forward Bonzie Colson returning to the lineup after missing 15 games, the Irish could sneak into the semifinals of this tournament.  They should quickly dismiss hapless Pittsburgh today.  The game with Virginia Tech tomorrow would most likely be a must-win for Notre Dame’s at-large hopes.  If the Irish win that game, they would face Duke in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

 

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Reno, NV
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 North Dakota #9 Montana St. Pluto tv
2:30 PM #5 Northern Colorado #12 Northern Arizona Pluto tv
5:30 PM #7 Idaho St. #10 Southern Utah Pluto tv
8:00 PM #6 Portland St. #11 Sacramento St. Pluto tv
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Montana UND or MSU Pluto tv
2:30 PM #4 Weber St. UNC or NAU Pluto tv
5:30 PM #2 Idaho ISU or S. Utah Pluto tv
8:00 PM #3 Eastern Washington PSU or Sac St. Pluto tv
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM Mont/UND/MSU Web/UNC/NAU Pluto tv
8:00 PM Ida/ISU/S.Utah EWU/PSU/Sac. St. Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPNU

Note: Montana comes into the tournament riding a 16-2 record in conference play.  The Grizzlies sport the best defense in the league, including the top ball-hawking perimeter players.

 

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round at Higher Seed, Semifinal and Final Round in Houston
Grambling and Alabama A&M are ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
7:30 PM #1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff #8 Mississippi Valley St. TBA
7:30 PM #4 Southern U #5 Jackson St. TBA
8:00 PM #3 Texas Southern #6 Alabama St. TBA
8:30 PM #2 Prairie View A&M #7 Alcorn St. TBA
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM UAPB or MVSU Southern or JSU TBA
8:30 PM PVAM or Alcorn TSU or ASU TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     ESPN2

Note:  There is no complete team in this tournament.  The best team in the league, Grambling, is ineligible due to low APR Scores.  Prairie View is the only team with a chance of getting its record over .500 by winning the tournament, and then the won-loss record would be 18-17.  Unless 4, 20-loss mid-major teams win conference tournaments, the automatic bid will go to a team that must quickly head to Dayton for a First Four game.

Conference Tournaments Continuing Today

America East Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 6  All Times EST
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Vermont #5 Stony Brook ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 UMBC #3 Hartford ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
11:00 AM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN2

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 Howard #9 Florida A&M ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 UNC-Central #11 Coppin St. ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 Morgan St. #10 South Carolina St. ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Hampton Howard or FAMU ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Bethune-Cookman MSU or SCSU ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 Savannah St. UNCC or Coppin ESPN3
8:00 PM #4 North Carolina A&T #5 Norfolk St. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Hampton/Howard/FAMU NCAT/Norfolk St ESPN3
8:00 PM BCU/MSU/SCSU Sav/UNCC/Coppin ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2018

PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus Report for March 5, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:32 am

The Bracket Gurus are doing double duty this week having to keep up with the conference tournaments every day as well as the bracketology.

The Gurus are starting to come to a consensus, as there were only 72 teams that received votes this week, meaning we only have a Top 4 out and not Next 4, since our geniuses feel there are no other teams that as of now have any shot at receiving an at-large invitation.

Consider this: as of today, there have been no teams that have gone from out to in based on their showing in their conference tournaments.  Nebraska failed to show up in the Big Ten Conference Tournament, while Penn State fell one round short of mattering.

Of course, except for the Big Ten Conference, all the power leagues that could possibly produce a team that might win enough to move into consideration have yet to begin conference tournament play.  There are a few teams remaining that still have remote at-large life.  These are:

ACC: Syracuse and Louisville

Big East: Marquette

Big 12: Oklahoma St.

Mountain West: Boise St.

Pac-12: Utah and Washington

SEC: LSU, Georgia, and Mississippi St.

There is the opposite to this discussion.  There are a host of teams that if they lose on the first day or even second day of their tournament, they could fall from in to out.  Another factor that could push these teams out is if upset winners claim automatic bids.  These are the teams that are hanging on by a thread at the current time.

Big 12: Baylor, Kansas St., and Texas

Big East: Providence

Pac-12: USC, Arizona St., and UCLA

SEC: Alabama

West Coast: Saint Mary’s

Which dark horse teams could make a run to an upset championship in each power conference?  (Does not include teams currently on the Bubble)

American: Tulsa

Atlantic 10: Davidson

ACC: Notre Dame

Big 12: None, because all that’s left is Iowa St. and we do not see the Cyclones winning.

Big East: St. John’s

Pac-12: Stanford

SEC: South Carolina

West Coast: BYU

Here are the seeds as our Bracket Gurus predict.  Teams in RED have clinched an automatic bid.

Seed Team Conference
1 Virginia ACC
1 Villanova B-EAST
1 Xavier B-EAST
1 Kansas B12
2 Duke ACC
2 Purdue B-TEN
2 Michigan St. B-TEN
2 Auburn SEC
3 North Carolina ACC
3 Cincinnati AAC
3 Tennessee SEC
3 Texas Tech B12
4 Wichita St. AAC
4 Michigan B-TEN
4 West Virginia B12
4 Arizona PAC-12
5 Clemson ACC
5 Gonzaga WCC
5 Ohio St. B-TEN
5 Kentucky SEC
6 Florida SEC
6 Houston AAC
6 Texas A&M SEC
6 TCU B12
7 Miami (Fla.) ACC
7 Arkansas SEC
7 Seton Hall B-EAST
7 Nevada MWC
8 Rhode Island A-10
8 Virginia Tech ACC
8 Missouri SEC
8 Oklahoma B12
9 Creighton B-EAST
9 Florida St. ACC
9 North Carolina St. ACC
9 Butler B-EAST
10 St. Bonaventure A-10
10 UCLA PAC-12
10 Middle Tennessee CUSA
10 Texas B12
11 Arizona St. PAC-12
11 Saint Mary’s WCC
11 Providence B-EAST
11 USC PAC-12
11 Alabama SEC
12 New Mexico St. WAC
12 Buffalo MAC
12 Murray St. OVC
12 Kansas St. B12
12 Baylor B12
13 UL-Lafayette SBC
13 South Dakota St. SUMMIT
13 Vermont A-EAST
13 Charleston CAA
14 UNC-Greensboro SOCON
14 Bucknell PATRIOT
14 Loyola (Chi.) MVC
14 Montana B-SKY
15 UC Davis B-WEST
15 Wright St. HORIZON
15 Wagner NEC
15 Lipscomb A-SUN
16 Penn IVY
16 Iona MAAC
16 Radford B-SOUTH
16 Hampton MEAC
16 Nicholls St. SLC
16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC

The First Four in Dayton

USC vs. Baylor

Alabama vs. Kansas St.

Radford vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff

Hampton vs. Nicholls St.

 

Top 4 Out 

Marquette B-EAST
Syracuse ACC
Louisville ACC
Utah PAC-12

Multiple Bid Leagues

Conference #
ACC 8
Big 12 8
SEC 8
Big East 6
Big Ten 4
Pac-12 4
American 3
Atlantic 10 2
West Coast 2

There are currently 23, one-bid leagues.

 

 

 

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 5, 2018

Today’s PiRate Rating Spreads for Conference Tournament Games 

Home Team Visitor  
or Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Charleston William & Mary 4.1
Northeastern UNC-Wilmington 9.6
Oakland Cleveland St. 8.4
Wright St. Milwaukee 4.0
Iona Fairfield 4.7
Central Michigan Bowling Green 7.6
Kent St. Northern Illinois 5.5
Miami (O) Ohio 2.7
Western Michigan Akron 7.8
North Carolina A&T Delaware St. 10.4
Norfolk St. Md. Eastern Shore 12.2
UNC-Greensboro East Tennessee St. -0.3
South Dakota St. North Dakota St. 6.4
South Dakota Denver 10.5
Gonzaga San Francisco 14.5
Saint Mary’s BYU 4.5

Yesterday’s Championship Games

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
Lipscomb 108 Florida Gulf Coast 96
Big South Conference Tournament
Radford 55 Liberty 52
Big Ten Conference Tournament
Michigan 75 Purdue 66
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Loyola (Chi.) 65 Illinois St. 49

Teams Already In The Field

Team Conf. W-L
Murray St. OVC 26-5
Radford B-South 22-12
Loyola (Chi.) MVC 28-5
Lipscomb A-SUN 23-9
Michigan BTen 28-7

Conference Tournament Championship Games Today

All Times EST

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #4 Iona #6 Fairfield ESPN
Southern Conference Tournament
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #1 UNC-Greensboro #2 East Tennessee St. ESPN2

 

Other Conference Tournaments In Action Today

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Charleston #4 William & Mary CBSSN
8:30 PM #2 Northeastern #6 UNC-Wilmington CBSSN
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Chas/W&M NE/UNCW CBSSN

 

Horizon League Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #4 Oakland #8 Cleveland St. ESPNU
9:30 PM #2 Wright St. #6 Milwaukee ESPNU
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Oak/CSU WSU/Milw ESPN

 

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Cleveland (First Round at Higher Seeds)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #8 Central Michigan #9 Bowling Green ESPN3
7:00 PM #5 Kent St. #12 Northern Illinois ESPN3
7:00 PM #7 Miami (O) #10 Ohio U ESPN3
7:45 PM #6 Western Michigan #11 Akron ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Buffalo CMU or BGU ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 Ball St. Kent or NIU ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 Toledo Mia or Ohio ESPN3
9:00 PM #3 Eastern Michigan WMU or Akron ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Buff/CMU/BGU Ball/Kent/NIU CBSSN
9:00 PM Tol/Mia/Ohio EMU/WMU/Akron CBSSN *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Norfolk, VA
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 North Carolina A&T #13 Delaware St. ESPN3
9:00 PM #5 Norfolk St. #12 Md-Eastern Shore ESPN3
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 Howard #9 Florida A&M ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 UNC-Central #11 Coppin St. ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 Morgan St. #10 South Carolina St. ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Hampton Howard or FAMU ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Bethune-Cookman MSU or SCSU ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 Savannah St. UNCC or Coppin ESPN3
8:00 PM NCAT or Dela St. Norf St or UMES ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Hampton/Howard/FAMU NCAT/DelSt/NorfSt/UMES ESPN3
8:00 PM BCU/MSU/SCSU Sav/UNCC/Coppin ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

 

Summit League Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 South Dakota St. #5 North Dakota St. ESPN3
9:30 PM #2 South Dakota #3 Denver ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM SDSU/NDSU USD/Denver ESPN2

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #1 Gonzaga #4 San Francisco ESPN
11:00 PM #2 Saint Mary’s #3 BYU ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM  Gonzaga/USF SMU/BYU  ESPN

PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus Report Coming Later Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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