The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 9, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For March 9, 2020

Monday’s Games

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Appalachian St.

Coastal Carolina

3.5

Buffalo

Miami (O)

8.4

BYU

Saint Mary’s

4.3

East Tennessee St.

Wofford

7.0

Georgia Southern

Louisiana

8.9

Gonzaga

San Francisco

13.4

Hofstra

Delaware

3.9

Kent St.

Eastern Michigan

7.9

North Dakota

Purdue Fort Wayne

1.8

North Dakota St.

Oral Roberts

0.1

Northeastern

Elon

8.7

Northern Kentucky

Green Bay

4.1

Ohio

Central Michigan

4.9

Toledo

Western Michigan

9.3

Wright St.

Illinois Chicago

6.7

 

Monday’s Key Games On TV

 

Time (EDT)

Network

Team

Team

6:00 PM

CBSSN

Hofstra

Delaware

6:00 PM

ESPN+

North Dakota St.

Oral Roberts

7:00 PM

ESPN

Appalachian St.

Coastal Carolina

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Buffalo

Miami (O)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

East Tennessee St.

Wofford

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Georgia Southern

Louisiana

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Kent St.

Eastern Michigan

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Ohio

Central Michigan

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Toledo

Western Michigan

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Wright St.

Illinois Chicago

7:30 PM

CBSSN

Northeastern

Elon

8:30 PM

ESPN

Gonzaga

San Francisco

9:00 PM

ESPN+

North Dakota

Purdue Fort Wayne

9:30 PM

ESPN2

Northern Kentucky

Green Bay

11:30 PM

ESPN2

BYU

Saint Mary’s

 

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS UPDATE

 

Color Code

Blue–Tournament Begins Later This Week

Green–Tournament Concluded Yesterday

Red–Conference Tournament Champion Has Earned NCAA Automatic Bid

Purple–Yesterday’s Results of Tournaments Still Underway & Next Round Schedule

Brown–Tournament Action Scheduled Today

 

America East Tournament

Semifinals

March 10

at Higher Seed’s Home Court

Home

Visitor

Time (ET)

TV

1 Vermont (25-7)

4 UMBC (16-16)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

2 Stony Brook (20-12)

3 Hartford (17-15)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

 

 

 

American Athletic Tournament

1st Round

March 12

Forth Worth, TX (Dickies Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Central Florida (16-14)

9 South Florida (14-17)

1:00 PM

ESPNU

5 Connecticut (19-12)

12 Tulane (12-18)

3:00 PM

ESPNU

7 SMU (19-11)

10 Temple (14-17)

8:00 PM

ESPNU

6 Memphis (21-10)

11 East Carolina (11-20)

10:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

Atlantic 10 Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Brooklyn (Barclays Center)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

12 George Mason (16-15)

13 Saint Joseph’s (6-25)

1:00 PM

ESPN+

11 Geo. Washington (12-19)

14 Fordham (8-22)

3:30 PM

ESPN+

 

 

Atlantic Coast Tournament

1st Round

March 10

Greensboro, NC (Greensboro Coliseum)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

12 Wake Forest (13-17)

13 Pittsburgh (15-16)

4:30 PM

ACCN

11 Virginia Tech (16-15)

14 North Carolina (13-18)

7:00 PM

ACCN

 

 

 

Atlantic Sun Tournament Results

Championship

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Liberty

73

Lipscomb

57

 

 

 

Big 12 Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Kansas City (Sprint Center)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Oklahoma St. (17-14)

9 Iowa St. (12-19)

7:00 PM

ESPNU

7 TCU (16-15)

10 Kansas St. (10-21)

9:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

 

Big East Tournament

1st Round

March 11

New York (Madison Square Garden)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Georgetown (15-16)

9 St. John’s (16-15)

7:00 PM

FS1

7 Xavier (19-12)

10 DePaul (15-16)

9:30 PM

FS1

 

 

 

Big Sky Tournament

1st Round

March 9

Boise, ID (Century Link Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Weber St. (12-19)

9 Sacramento St. (15-14)

11:30 AM

watchbigsky.com

7 Southern Utah (16-15)

10 Idaho (8-23)

2:00 PM

watchbigsky.com

6 Northern Arizona (16-13)

11 Idaho St. (7-22)

4:30 PM

watchbigsky.com

The Big Sky Conference Network is also available on Pluto TV Channel 530

 

 

 

Big South Tournament Results

Championship

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Winthrop

76

Hampton

68

 

 

 

Big Ten Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Indianapolis (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

12 Minnesota (14-16)

13 Northwestern (8-22)

6:00 PM

Big Ten Network

11 Indiana (19-12)

14 Nebraska (7-24)

8:30 PM

Big Ten Network

 

 

Big West Tournament

Quarterfinals

March 12

Anaheim, CA (Honda Center)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

2 Cal St. Northridge (15-17)

7 Cal St. Fullerton (11-20)

3:00 PM

ESPN3

3 UC Santa Barbara (21-10)

6 UC Riverside (17-15)

5:30 PM

ESPN3

1 UC Irvine (21-11)

8 Long Beach St. (11-21)

9:00 PM

ESPN3

4 Hawaii (17-13)

5 UC Davis (14-18)

11:30 PM

ESPN3

 

 

Colonial Athletic Tournament

Quarterfinals

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Hofstra

61

Drexel

43

Delaware

79

Charleston

67

Elon

68

William & Mary

63

Northeastern

72

Towson

62

 

Semifinals

March 9

Washington, D.C. (Entertainment & Sports Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

1 Hofstra (24-8)

4 Delaware (22-10)

6:00 PM

CBSSN

2 William & Mary (22-10)

6 Northeastern (16-15)

8:30 PM

CBSSN

 

 

 

Conference USA Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Frisco, TX (Ford Center)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Old Dominion (13-18)

9 Florida Atlantic (16-15)

7:00 PM Court A

ESPN+

5 Florida Intl. (18-13)

12 Rice (15-16)

7:30 PM Court B

ESPN+

7 UAB (18-13)

10 UTSA (13-18)

9:30 PM Court A

ESPN+

6 Marshall (16-15)

11 UTEP (17-14)

10:00 PM Court B

ESPN+

 

 

 

Ivy League Tournament (Ivy Madness)

Semifinals

March 14

Boston (Lavietes Pavilion–Harvard)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

1 Yale (23-7)

4 Penn (16-11)

11:00 AM

ESPNU

2 Harvard (21-8)

3 Princeton (14-13)

2:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Tournament

1st Round

March 10

Atlantic City, NJ (Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Fairfield (12-19)

9 Manhattan (12-17)

5:00 PM

ESPN3

7 Iona (11-16)

10 Canisius (12-19)

7:00 PM

ESPN3

6 Niagara (11-20)

11 Marist (7-22)

9:00 PM

ESPN3

 

 

 

Mid-American Tournament (Get Some MACtion)

1st Round

March 9

at Higher Seed’s Home Court

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Ohio U (16-15)

9 Central Michigan (14-17)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

5 Buffalo (20-11)

12 Miami (O) (12-19)

7:30 PM

ESPN+

7 Toledo (16-15)

10 Western Michigan (13-18)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

6 Kent St. (19-12)

11 Eastern Michigan (16-15)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

 

 

 

Mid-Eastern Athletic Tournament

1st Round

March 10

Norfolk, VA (Scope Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Delaware St. (5-25)

9 MD Eastern Shore (5-26)

6:00 PM

Flohoops (pay)

7 South Carolina St. (11-17)

10 Howard (3-28)

8:00 PM

Flohoops (pay)

 

 

 

Missouri Valley Tournament (Arch Madness)

Championship

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Bradley

80

Valparaiso

66

 

 

 

Northeast Tournament

Championship

March 10

at Higher Seed’s Home Court

Home

Visitor

Time (ET)

TV

1 Robert Morris (19-14)

2 St. Francis (PA) (22-9)

7:00 PM

ESPN2

Pac-12 Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Las Vegas (T-Mobile Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

8 Oregon St. (17-13)

9 Utah (16-14)

3:00 PM

Pac-12 Network

5 Arizona (20-11)

12 Washington (15-16)

5:30 PM

Pac-12 Network

7 Stanford (20-11)

10 California (13-18)

9:00 PM

Pac-12 Network

6 Colorado (21-10)

11 Washington St. (15-16)

11:30 PM

Pac-12 Network

 

 

 

Patriot League Tournament

Semifinals

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Boston U

64

Bucknell

61

Colgate

89

Lafayette

64

Championship

March 11

at Higher Seed’s Home Court

Home

Visitor

Time (ET)

TV

1 Colgate (25-8)

3 Boston U (20-13)

7:30 PM

CBSSN

 

 

Southeastern Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Nashville (Bridgestone Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

12 Ole Miss (15-16)

13 Georgia (15-16)

7:00 PM

SEC Network

11 Arkansas (19-12)

14 Vanderbilt (11-20)

9:30 PM

SEC Network

 

 

 

Southern Tournament

Semifinals

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

East Tennessee St.

97

Western Carolina

75

Wofford

72

Chattanooga

70

Championship

March 9

Asheville, NC (Harrah’s Cherokee Center)

Team

Team

Time ET

TV

1 East Tennessee St. (29-4)

7 Wofford (19-15)

7:00 PM

ESPN

 

 

Southland Tournament

1st Round

March 11

Katy, TX (Leonard E. Merrell Center)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

5 Northwestern St. (14-15)

8 Texas A&M-CC (14-17)

6:00 PM

ESPN+

6 Lamar (16-15)

7 McNeese St. (15-16)

8:30 PM

ESPN+

 

 

 

 

Southwestern Athletic Tournament

Quarterfinals

March 10

at Higher Seed’s Home Court

Home

Visitor

Time (ET)

TV

1 Prairie View (18-13)

8 Alabama A&M (8-21)

8:30 PM

ESPN3

4 Jackson St. (14-17)

5 Grambling (17-14)

8:30 PM

ESPN3

2 Southern (16-15)

7 Alabama St. (8-23)

8:30 PM

ESPN3

3 Texas Southern (16-14)

6 Alcorn St. (14-14)

9:00 PM

ESPN3

 

 

 

Summit Tournament

Quarterfinals

Winner

Score

Loser

Score

Oral Roberts

79

Omaha

52

North Dakota

74

South Dakota

71

North Dakota St.

71

Denver

69

Purdue Fort Wayne

77

South Dakota St.

74

Summit Tournament

Semifinals

March 9

Sioux Falls, SD (Sanford Premier Center)

Home

Visitor

Time (ET)

TV

1 North Dakota St. (23-8)

4 Oral Roberts (17-13)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

7 Purdue Ft. Wayne (14-18)

6 North Dakota (14-17)

9:30 PM

ESPN+

 

 

Sun Belt Tournament

2nd Round

March 9

at Higher Seed’s Home Court

Home

Visitor

Time (ET)

TV

5 Georgia Southern (18-13)

8 Louisiana (14-18)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

6 Appalachian St. (17-14)

10 Coastal Carolna (16-16)

7:00 PM

ESPN+

 

 

 

Western Athletic Tournament

Quarterfinals

March 12

Las Vegas (Orleans Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

1 New Mexico St. (25-6)

8 Chicago St. (4-25)

3:00 PM

ESPN+

4 Grand Canyon (12-17)

5 Seattle (14-15)

5:30 PM

ESPN+

2 UT RGV (14-16)

7 Utah Valley (11-19)

9:00 PM

ESPN+

3 Kansas City (16-14)

6 Cal St. Bakersfield (12-18)

11:30 PM

ESPN+

 

 

 

West Coast Tournament

Semifinals

March 9

Las Vegas (Orleans Arena)

Team

Team

Time (ET)

TV

1 Gonzaga (29-2)

5 San Francisco (22-11)

9:00 PM

ESPN

2 BYU (24-7)

3 Saint Mary’s (25-7)

11:30 PM

ESPN2

 

Dance Tickets Punched

Automatic Bids Earned

Team

Conference

Record

Utah St.

Mountain West

26-8

Belmont

Ohio Valley

26-7

Winthrop

Big South

24-10

Bradley

Missouri Valley

23-11

Liberty

Atlantic Sun

29-4

 

Coming Later Today–Updated Bracketology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 28, 2020

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For February 28, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:12 am

Date

2/28/2020

Seed

Team

Team

Team

Team

Team

Team

1

Kansas

Gonzaga

Baylor

San Diego St.

2

Dayton

Maryland

Florida St.

Duke

3

Creighton

Villanova

Seton Hall

Kentucky

4

Oregon

Louisville

Penn St.

Auburn

5

Michigan St.

Ohio St.

Colorado

Iowa

6

Michigan

West Virginia

Butler

BYU

7

Wisconsin

Arizona

Marquette

Illinois

8

LSU

Houston

Arizona St.

Florida

9

Texas Tech

Saint Mary’s

Indiana

Virginia

10

Xavier

Utah St.

Oklahoma

USC

11

Rhode Island

Wichita St.

East Tennessee St.

Northern Iowa

12

Liberty

Stephen F. Austin

Rutgers

Cincinnati

N. C. State

Providence

13

Yale

Vermont

North Texas

New Mexico St.

14

Bowling Green

Hofstra

Colgate

South Dakota St.

15

Wright St.

UC-Irvine

Little Rock

Belmont

16

Montana

Radford

St. Francis (PA)

Prairie View

Siena

N. C. A&T

First Four Out

 

69

Richmond

70

UCLA

71

Stanford

72

Arkansas

 

Next Four Out

 

73

Mississippi St.

74

Memphis

75

South Carolina

76

Texas

 

 

February 20, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For February 20, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:11 am

Thursday’s Games

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Albany

UMBC

5.4

Appalachian St.

South Alabama

4.0

Arizona

Oregon St.

12.8

Arizona St.

Oregon

-0.6

Binghamton

UMass Lowell

-2.6

BYU

Santa Clara

16.4

Cal Poly

UC Davis

-2.7

Cal St. Fullerton

UC Santa Barbara

-2.9

Charleston Southern

Campbell

0.9

Cleveland St.

Northern Kentucky

-6.7

Coastal Carolina

Troy

7.9

Colorado

USC

8.6

Delaware

Northeastern

-0.3

Denver

Oral Roberts

-8.2

Drexel

Hofstra

-4.4

Eastern Illinois

Murray St.

-4.6

Eastern Kentucky

Tennessee St.

-0.4

Eastern Washington

Sacramento St.

7.0

Gonzaga

San Francisco

18.1

Hampton

Gardner-Webb

-4.5

High Point

Presbyterian

0.5

Idaho

Northern Arizona

-2.2

Indiana St.

Northern Iowa

-3.3

Iowa

Ohio St.

1.6

Jacksonville

Lipscomb

4.0

Jacksonville St.

Southeast Missouri

9.8

James Madison

Elon

3.1

Liberty

North Florida

9.6

Morehead St.

Belmont

-11.9

Nebraska

Michigan St.

-10.9

New Hampshire

Hartford

3.4

NJIT

Stetson

2.7

North Alabama

Kennesaw St.

14.7

Northern Colorado

Southern Utah

7.2

Portland

Pepperdine

-5.3

Portland St.

Montana St.

3.7

Purdue Fort Wayne

Omaha

-0.5

Radford

UNC Asheville

11.3

Saint Mary’s

Loyola Marymount

16.1

Seattle

Grand Canyon

4.1

SIU-Edwardsville

Austin Peay

-9.9

South Carolina Upstate

Longwood

1.5

Southern Illinois

Evansville

9.4

Stony Brook

Vermont

-3.7

Temple

Connecticut

0.2

Tennessee Tech

UT Martin

0.7

Texas St.

Georgia Southern

6.1

Towson

William & Mary

5.2

UC Riverside

Hawaii

2.0

UT Arlington

Georgia St.

1.8

Utah

UCLA

2.3

Utah Valley

Cal St. Bakersfield

1.7

Washington

Stanford

2.7

Wichita St.

South Florida

11.1

Youngstown St.

Wright St.

-5.8

 

Thursday’s Key Games

Maybe the best top games of the week

 

Time (EST)

Network

Home

Visitor

7:00 PM

ESPN

Iowa

Ohio St.

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Liberty

North Florida

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Stony Brook

Vermont

8:00 PM

ESPN+

Texas St.

Georgia Southern

9:00 PM

ESPN

Arizona St.

Oregon

9:00 PM

ESPN2

Colorado

USC

 

The Big Three Mid-Major Conference Games on TV Tonight

Liberty vs. North Florida–The winner most likely will end up with the number one seed in the Atlantic Sun Conference.  North Florida won the first contest 71-70 in a tight game that stayed close for 40 minutes.  At the time, Liberty was 19-1 and on the cusp of becoming ranked in the top 25.

North Florida’s starting lineup all average double figure points per game.  The Ospreys are by far the best shooting team in the A-Sun, both inside and outside the 3-point line and at the foul line.

Liberty has the best defense in the A-Sun, and the Flames go seven deep with little drop in talent.  With the A-Sun Tournament played on the home courts of the higher seeds, and with these two teams being the two powers of the league, the NCAA Tournament bid will be decided when these two probably play for a third time.  Home court advantage will probably decide it.  Liberty has the edge tonight, which should give the Flames the edge when they play again in a couple weeks.

 

Stony Brook vs. Vermont–Vermont has a 2 1/2 game lead over second place Stony Brook, so this is a must win for Stony Brook as far as the regular season conference race goes.  The conference tournament is played on the home courts of the higher seeds, so getting the #1 seed means home court advantage all the way to the Championship.

These are the top two programs in the league.  Vermont has won 14 of their last 15 games, and they have a conference scoring margin of +15.8 points per game.  The Catamounts dominate every important analytic statistic in the America East Conference.  

On paper, Stony Brook doesn’t have the resume of a team that looks capable of beating Vermont.  The Seawolves barely hold control of the number two spot in the league, but they have done something no other A-East team has done–they beat Vermont, and they did it in Burlington no less.

 

Texas St. vs. Georgia Southern–These two teams are still in contention for the regular season Sun Belt Conference Championship, as they are tied for third with 10-6 SBC records, just two games behind league leader Little Rock and one game behind second place Georgia St.  

Texas St. has one of the top players in the league in senior guard Nijel Pearson.  Pearson combines excellent long range shooting with the ability to get inside and score on the offensive side and fight for rebounds on the defensive end.  Earlier this season, he almost single-handily kept Texas St. in the game at Baylor, and the Bobcats scared the top-ranked team in Waco before finally losing by nine points.

Georgia Southern has a small but quick lineup, and the Eagles are fun to watch play.  This could be the most exciting game of the night.

 

 

January 16, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 16, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 6:30 am

Power Conference & Top 25 Teams Playing Thursday

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Memphis

Cincinnati

4.7

Arizona

Utah

14.3

Arizona St.

Colorado

-1.7

BYU

San Diego

18.1

USC

California

11.0

Gonzaga

Santa Clara

18.4

Washington

Oregon St.

4.1

 

 

August 12, 2019

2019 FBS Independents Preview

Note: There isn’t much to preview about the 2019 FBS Independents, so today you get a little incite about how these ratings began and how the Independents of football began to see the light about the weaknesses of not having conference affiliation.

This is the 150th year anniversary for college football.  Yours truly vividly remembers the 100th year anniversary in 1969.  That’s the year these ratings were born.  At the time, I was sort of enamored with Ohio State University and Coach Woody Hayes.  He was dedicated to perfecting what he thought was the way to win football.  Having watched the Buckeyes defeat O.J. Simpson and the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl the season before, I expected Ohio State to challenge the 1944 and 1945 Army teams for best in the history of the game.

On October 11, 1969, Ohio State faced a ranked Michigan State team that had just lost a close game to Notre Dame.  The Buckeyes had begun the season with slaughters over TCU and Washington.  This was the fateful Saturday that led to the creation of the PiRate Ratings.

On that Saturday, Ohio State took care of business by running the Spartans into the ground and winning by more than 30 points.  Then, something incredible happened that night.  My hometown team, the school where multiple family members attended, Vanderbilt hosted Alabama at Dudley Field.  Vanderbilt was 0-3, and ‘Bama was 3-0.  Led by sophomore phenom and future head coach Watson Brown, Vanderbilt beat Alabama 14-10 in the greatest upset of the season.

The following Monday, I went to school and a teacher asked me what I thought about the weekend’s games.  On the playground, when we played touch football, we chose teams.  We called my team “Ohio State,” while the other team called themselves “Penn State,” because Alabama was no longer worthy of being good enough.

There was an argument that day.  Which team was better–Ohio State or Penn State?  Both teams won every game the year before.  Both teams had won every game so far this year, and both teams had just easily defeated ranked teams on that Saturday.

I went home the following day to read the old Nashville Banner newspaper, an afternoon publication.  The AP and UPI top 20 rankings were in the sports pages of that day’s paper.  The entire top 10 featured undefeated teams.  Among the teams besides Ohio State and Penn State were Texas and Arkansas from the Southwest Conference, UCLA and USC from the Pac-8 Conference, and Tennessee, LSU, and Florida from the SEC.  The other team was Missouri, a team that had just creamed Michigan and Nebraska.

I looked at the rankings and then glanced over at the “Litratings.”  The Litratings were a ratings system compiled by Dr. Edward Litkenhous, a famed Vanderbilt engineering professor.  In the days before computers, there were three alternatives to the AP and UPI rankings.  They were Dunkel, Carr, and Litkenhous.  The Nashville Banner carried the Litratings, as Dr. Litkenhous personally delivered his ratings to the paper every week.

I began comparing scores and opponents of the top 10 teams.  It was crude, but I basically started this to show my friends why Ohio State was the best team in college football, and that Penn State was not even as good as any of those undefeated conference teams.

The rest of the season, I happily compiled new top 10 rankings based on my crude mathematical knowledge, and each week through the middle of November, Ohio State was still the best team.  There were just four teams remaining that were unbeaten and untied–Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, and Arkansas.  On that next Saturday, Michigan gave Ohio State a spanking in Ann Arbor.  Seeking revenge for a 50-14 defeat in Columbus the year before, the Wolverines’ defense was superb, and the Buckeyes’  season ended at 8-1 and no chance for a national championship.

Meanwhile, Texas and Penn State slaughtered and shut out their opponents, while Arkansas beat a better quality opponent in SMU.  So, who was the top team in the nation?  My personal ratings said that Penn State was a tad better than Texas and Arkansas.  Once tied USC and once beaten LSU were just a tad behind.

Penn State closed out the regular season with two convincing road victories over mediocre teams, one over rival Pittsburgh and one over North Carolina St.  Arkansas and Texas both easily handled mediocre Southwest Conference teams.

Penn State accepted the Orange Bowl bid for the second year in a row.  They could have accepted a bid to the Cotton Bowl to play the Arkansas-Texas winner, but at the time they had to vote, Ohio State was still undefeated and a win over Michigan would clinch the national title.  The Buckeyes could not play in the Rose Bowl that year, because the Big Ten still did not allow teams to play in Rose Bowls in consecutive seasons.  They would be 9-0 and undisputed national champions with a win over Michigan.

Additionally, this was just six years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and a lot of people from outside the South and Southwest thought of Dallas as an outlaw town where the 1960s were not that much different than the 1860s.  Some of the African-American players on the Penn State team did not want to go to Dallas, so the team voted to return to Miami on New Year’s Day.  Their opponent would be 9-1 Missouri, the team that slaughtered Michigan earlier that season.

Did Penn State have a legitimate claim to the national title?  I thought they did.  Their offense was solid but not spectacular, even though they had three running backs that would play in the NFL, including future all-pros Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell.  It was the Nittany Lions defense and special teams that made this team so special.  The defense gave up fewer points than the defense and special teams scored or set up.

It wasn’t the Associated Press, United Press International, Dunkel, Carr, or Litkenhous that made the decision on which team would win the national championship.  President Richard Nixon proclaimed that the winner of the December game between Arkansas and Texas in Fayetteville, Arkansas, would be the national champion.  He even planned to be there in person to present the trophy to the winner.

Until the early 1970’s, it was the norm for the national championship to be awarded before the bowl games.  The bowl games were considered rewards for great seasons and not like postseason play.  So, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for the national champion to be crowned after the conclusion of the regular season.

That first Saturday in December of 1969, the home team Razorbacks quickly scored two touchdowns to lead 14-0.  It looked like Arkansas was going to win its third national title of the 1960s, as they won a piece of the 1964 and 1965 titles in split decisions.  This would be their first consensus championship, and Coach Frank Broyles would probably take over the title of greatest current college coach.

Texas was on the verge of being defeated.  The Longhorns had an 18-game winning streak on the line as well as the national championship.  The fourth quarter started with Arkansas still ahead 14-0, and the Razorback defense had solved the triple option that no other opponents could stop.  Texas quarterback James Street was not your typical wishbone quarterback.  He was a decent passer, and Royal decided that the Longhorns would have to start passing the ball, something the wishbone offense was not meant to do other than the occasional surprise play-action pass.

Street dropped back to pass, while the Arkansas pass rush forced him to scramble to avoid a 10-yard sack.  Somehow, a small pocket opened, and Street took off down the right sideline for a touchdown.  Royal decided to go for two, and a counter option run was successful to make the score 14-8.

With less than five minutes left in the game, and the score still 14-8 in favor of the Razorbacks, Texas was in deep trouble.  Facing a fourth down and three on their side of the 50 yard line, Coach Darrel Royal decided to gamble and go for the first down.  They came out in their wishbone offense, and Arkansas bunched up with nine defenders near the line of scrimmage.  Not only was Royal ready to gamble, he figured that even if the Longhorns powered for the three yards and a first down, they could not keep the ball on  the ground and score the winning touchdown with so little time left.

Royal called for the play-action long bomb off the option fake.  Street faked to his fullback running into the line and continued to option the Arkansas defensive end–for two steps.  Then, he quickly dropped back three steps and fired the ball long and high into the air.  At the other end of the play, receiver Randy Peschel had maybe a half-step on two Arkansas defenders.  The ball came out of the sky into Peschel’s arms inside the Razorback 15 yard line.  Arkansas was stunned.  They were in place to stop all three phases of the triple option and then run the clock out to play LSU in the Cotton Bowl, the team that had upset them in the Cotton Bowl just four years before.  Alas, neither team would spend New Year’s in Dallas.

Texas ran two plays and scored a touchdown on a counter dive.  The extra point put the Longhorns up 15-14 with just over three minutes to play.

The game wasn’t over.  Unlike Texas, Arkansas ran a pro-style offense, and Quarterback Bill Montgomery had a dangerous receiver in Chuck Dicus.  The Razorbacks quickly drove into Longhorn territory.  They needed one more first down to get into legitimate field goal range with a chance to win the game in the final seconds.  Montgomery rolled out to throw toward Dicus, but the toss was a little off target, and Texas intercepted the pass to clinch the game.

The Longhorns were given the trophy by President Nixon.  It appeared that they would now play 9-1 LSU in the Cotton Bowl, and my ratings would actually make LSU a small favorite.

Except it didn’t happen.  After decades of not permitting the football team to play in bowl games, the elders at Notre Dame decided that it was now okay.  LSU was in essence uninvited to the Cotton Bowl, and a weaker Notre Dame team was invited in their place.  Meanwhile, LSU was now shut out of a bowl, as Ole Miss had already accepted the Sugar Bowl bid when it appeared that LSU was Dallas-bound.

In the bowl games, Texas struggled to beat Notre Dame in what was basically a Longhorn home game.  Irish quarterback Joe Theismann shredded the Texas secondary for well over 200 passing yards, and Texas had to come from behind to win.

At the same time, Ole Miss, led by Archie Manning, beat Arkansas in a mild upset in the Sugar Bowl.  The Rebels had ended the season on a hot streak, having also giving Tennessee and LSU their only regular season losses.  Still, the Southwest Conference teams did not look to be as strong as the poll-voters believed.

That evening, Penn State played a Missouri team that averaged over 40 points per game and held the Tigers to one field goal.  They won only 10-3, but the defense intercepted Missouri quarterback Terry McMillan seven times (he threw just six interceptions in the 10 regular season games).

So, who was the best team in 1969?  Was it Penn State or Texas or maybe even another team?  My ratings said that Penn State was the best team, but I also had LSU number two and USC and Texas tied at number three.

Penn State would enjoy undefeated seasons in 1968, 1969, and 1973 and not win the national championship in any of those years.  The 1973 team finished at the top of my ratings.  The poll voters favored conference teams, and except for Notre Dame, an Independent had to win every game convincingly to win a national title.  Syracuse in 1959 dominated all 11 opponents to win only a split decision, as once-beaten Ole Miss from the SEC received more #1 honors that year.

In 1969, the centennial year for college football, 27 major college teams played as independents.  West Virginia finished 10-1 losing only to Penn State, the Mountaineers just barely made the final top 20.  Houston finished 8-2 in the regular season and also just barely made the top 20 prior to bowl season.  The Cougars then totally thrashed Auburn in the Bluebonnet Bowl to earn some respect.

50 years later, there are just six independent football schools left.  Notre Dame can remain an independent and thrive.  The Irish have their exclusive NBC TV contract.  They can steal a bowl bid from the ACC in a sweetheart arrangement, where they can finish leap over any ACC team that has one more win than they have.

BYU left the Mountain West Conference with aspirations of joining the Pac-12 or Big 12, but they were left at the altar.  The Cougar football program has contracted in recent years.  It won’t be a surprise if they try to return to the Mountain West in three or four years.

Army does not need to join a football conference.  Although their two military rivals belong to conferences, the Black Knights can remain independent and survive by doing what they have been doing for the last few years.  Navy actually has regressed since joining the American Athletic Conference.

As for Massachusetts, Liberty, and New Mexico State, they have to wait until the next round of cannibalism from the Power 5 conferences.  If the AAC loses a team or two, UMass and Liberty could be in line to replace them.  If the Mountain West loses a team to Pac-12 or Big 12 expansion, maybe NMSU could get in as a replacement, or maybe if BYU returns to the MWC, the Aggies can be the 14th members.

There is no such entity as a media poll for the FBS Independents.  Therefore, we will show you how 10 of the most reputable computer forecasters believe.  We are not vain enough to include ourselves in these 10 ratings, plus you will see our ratings below as well.

 

10 Computer Gurus Poll of FBS Independents
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Notre Dame 9 59
2 Army 1 51
3 BYU 0 38
4 Liberty 0 32
5 New Mexico St. 0 17
6 Massachusetts 0 13

 

Here are the preseason  PiRate Ratings for the FBS Independents.

 

Preseason PiRate Ratings–FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 121.4 119.1 121.9 120.8
Army 102.6 102.7 102.4 102.6
BYU 101.8 101.7 102.0 101.8
Liberty 87.9 89.6 88.4 88.6
New Mexico St. 77.8 81.2 77.6 78.8
Massachusetts 73.5 76.8 73.1 74.5
 

 

Indep. Averages 94.2 95.2 94.2 94.5

Note:  These preseason ratings are accurate as of August 1, 2019, and subject to change before the first week of the season due to personnel changes prior to the first week of the season.

 

Predicted Won-Loss Records

The PiRate Ratings were not created to forecast won-loss records like other ratings might attempt.  Our ratings are valid for just the next game on the teams’ schedules, and we have pre-set adjustments built into our ratings on many teams.  For instance, if a team has exceptional starting talent but little depth, their rating has a pre-set reduction per week of the season, so that even if they win or lose a game by the exact expected margin, they will lose some of their power rating due to their depth issues.

If a team has exceptional, but inexperienced talent, their rating will have a pre-set addition per week of the season, and even if their performance may be exactly what was expected, their power rating will rise.

What you see in these predicted won-loss records are our opinion and not calculated from the ratings.  These are the estimated records based on a vote, with the Captain having 50% of the vote and the crew having the other 50%.  The Captain then rounded up or down those teams picked to have an average wins that were not whole numbers.

 

PiRate Members Predicted Won-Loss
Pos Team Won-Loss
1 Army 11-2
2 Notre Dame 10-2
3 BYU 8-4
4 Liberty 7-5
5 New Mexico St. 2-10
6 Massachusetts 2-10

 

 

Bowl Predictions

Hawaii BYU
Orange Notre Dame
Cotton Army (top G5 team)
 

 

Also Bowl Eligible
Liberty

 

 

Coaches That Could Move to Power 5 Conferences

Jeff Monken, Army

Hugh Freeze, Liberty

 

Coaches On The Hot Seat

Kelani Sitake, BYU

Doug Martin, New Mexico St.

 

Top Quarterbacks

Ian Book, Notre Dame

Zach Wilson, BYU

Kelvin Hopkins, Army

 

Best Offense

Army

Notre Dame

Liberty

 

Best Defense

Notre Dame

Army

BYU

Coming Tomorrow: The American Athletic Conference–still the #1 Group of 5 conference

August 14, 2018

2018 FBS Independents Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.

Some of our Group of 5 Conference won-loss predictions were figured before the beginning of August preseason practices. Thus, it could be that a player or players on some teams have already suffered season-ending or multiple game injuries or have left their teams, and these won-loss predictions no longer accurately reflect our ratings. We hope that by the time we preview the Power 5 conferences, we will know who is not going to be available (players and head coaches).

The number of FBS Independents has ballooned by 50% as Liberty moves up to FBS football and New Mexico State returns to this group after spending four years in the Sun Belt Conference.

There is no real affiliation between the six teams in the independent ranks. The top program, Notre Dame, is all but a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Irish play five ACC teams every year. In the past, Notre Dame may have been hurt by not being affiliated with a conference. That is no longer the case. Notre Dame has an easier path to the FBS Playoffs now that the top 4 teams qualify. With no conference championship game to play and the ability to arrange their schedule in the most convenient way, Notre Dame is a serious contender this year to make their first appearance in the playoffs.
If the Irish run the table or finish a strong 11-1, it will be the defense that carries them to the promised land. After surrendering 21.5 points per game and 369 yards per game in 2017, the outlook for 2018 looks better. A solid linebacking corps ranks among the nation’s elite. Middle linebacker Te’von Coney and outside linebacker Drue Tranquill may be the best duo in the nation in ruining enemy drives. Julian Love has a chance to be named an All-American from his cornerback position. The Irish are deep and talented on the back line of defense. The front four is the weakness of the defense, but in this case, the weakness means they are maybe the 30th best defensive line in the nation.

Look for an improved pass rush this year. Road games against Northwestern and Southern Cal are the two toughest on the schedule, and the Irish are strong enough this year to win both and should at least split these two games.

Brigham Young was one of the perennial best passing teams for decades during the Lavell Edwards days. A who’s who of quarterbacks including Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, and Virgil Carter gave the Cougars the necessary tools to make the offense click. In recent years, not only has BYU not had a dangerous passer, passing has become a liability in Provo. Coach Kalani Sitake may have just one more year to turn things around before finding himself on another mission. The season may depend on whether the offensive line can keep senior Tanner Mangum upright and out of the hospital, something it has failed doing the previous two seasons. He is recovering from an Achilles’ injury and will lack a lot of mobility.

Speaking of passing, that word is not in the dictionary in West Point, NY. Army attempted just five passes per game last year, and completed just over 1 1/2 of those attempts per game. Still, with only 28 passing yards per game, the Black Knights averaged almost 31 points per game by leading the nation in rushing yardage. The 10-3 season was the best at West Point since 1996. The Cadets will take a small backward step this year with a decimated offense needing to rebuild, but the defense could limit opponents to 330 yards and 20 points per game this year.

Mark Whipple is a quarterback whisperer. He has a long history of getting the most out of his passers. Throughout his career, Whipple has helped tutor Greg Landry during his USFL stint, Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers (including a Super Bowl Championship season), and Donovan McNabb when he threw for the most yards in his career and led the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game. As offensive coordinator at Miami in 2009, he got the most out of Jacory Harris. So, it should be no surprise that the man that took Massachusetts to a I-AA championship his first go around in Amherst, is on the verge of making the FBS version of the Minutemen into a bowl-eligible team. UMass finished 4-8 last year with enough near misses to make a bowl game if they had gone the other way. This year, with experienced quarterback Andrew Ford, we expect the Minutemen to crash through the barrier and enjoy a won-loss record on the plus side of .500. If Ford stays healthy for 12 games, he should crash through the 3,500 passing yard barrier and make a run at 4,000. He has talented and experienced receivers returning as well as the most experienced and talented offensive line protecting him since he arrived on campus. UMass should score around 35-38 points per game, and while the defense is still quite suspect, the Minutemen should win seven games and receive their first bowl bid since they played in the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl.

New Mexico State left the Sun Belt on good footing, as the Aggies finished with a bowl win and winning season in their SBC swan song. The Sun Belt was never a good fit for this team; this school would be an excellent addition to the Mountain West, where rival New Mexico already plays, or Conference USA, where rival UTEP plays. Coach Doug Martin has enough key talent returning on both sides of the ball to return to a bowl in 2018, but they will have to stay healthy in the back half of their schedule after facing a brutal beginning. NMSU will play on August 25 against Wyoming and a short five days later, play at Minnesota. Then, on September 8, the Aggies have another tough road game at Utah State.  They could 0-3 to start the season.

Liberty finished 6-5 in their final year in FCS football last season. The Flames beat Baylor, so they will not be intimidated this year when they line up against teams like Old Dominion, North Texas, and New Mexico. Coach Turner Gill’s team won last year with a brilliant passing attack, as they frequently outscored their opponents in their wins. They gave up more than 40 points in two of those wins! In Liberty’s favor, most of their brilliant offense returns in 2018, but the schedule is about 20 points stronger per game this year than last. Don’t expect Liberty to contend for a winning season in year one in the FBS.

There is no FBS Independents media group that meets and hears speeches from the coaches and then interviews players before voting in a preseason poll. Rather than leave this section empty, I will show you how a conglomerate of 10 of my peers believe the teams will finish.

Independents 1st Place Votes
1. Notre Dame 10 60
2. Army 0 47
3. BYU 0 43
4. New Mexico State 0 26
5. Massachusetts 0 24
6. Liberty 0 10

The PiRate Ratings mostly agree with these other 10 very successful computer geniuses, and where we don’t it is probably because they are correct, and we are not.

FBS Independents
Team Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 0-0 125.6 121.5 123.7 123.6
BYU 0-0 95.9 97.0 96.3 96.4
Army 0-0 95.6 96.4 95.5 95.9
Massachusetts 0-0 89.8 92.4 92.0 91.4
N. Mexico St. 0-0 82.0 85.3 82.5 83.3
Liberty 0-0 75.2 73.9 74.2 74.5
Independents Averages 94.0 94.4 94.0 94.2

New Coaches
There are no new coaches among the six independents. Sitake is most definitely on the hot seat at BYU, and if something were to happen in South Bend, and the Irish terribly under-perform, Brian Kelly might be in trouble. However, we cannot see a scenario happening with Notre Dame this year, and the Irish have a better chance of going 12-0 than 6-6.

Predicted Won-Loss Records

Independents Record
Notre Dame 12-0
Army 8-4
New Mexico State 7-5
Massachusetts 7-5
BYU 6-6
Liberty 2-10

Bowl Tie-ins
This year, no Independents have a definite bowl contract. Notre Dame counts toward the ACC when bowls pick representative, and they can be selected ahead of any ACC rival if they have at least one win fewer than the ACC alternative. In other words, if Duke is 9-3 and the Irish are 8-4, bowls can take Notre Dame ahead of Wake Forest. If Duke is 10-2 and Notre Dame is 8-4, then Duke must be selected before Notre Dame.
BYU has an agreement with ESPN that if the Cougars become bowl eligible, ESPN will place them in one of their televised bowls as an at-large opponent.

Liberty is not eligible for a bowl this season, but there are technicalities involved that could send the Flames to the Cure Bowl.
New Mexico State has a secondary bowl tie-in with the New Mexico Bowl.

Coming Tomorrow–The American Athletic Conference

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2017

2017 Independents Preview

At one point in the 1960’s and 1970’s there were in excess of 30 college football teams not affiliated with a conference. Schools did not need a conference affiliation to succeed. Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami, and other big name schools were power teams that frequently competed for national titles. Michigan State was actually an independent that won a national title prior to becoming the final member of the original Big Ten. There was even a five-year period where Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State left the Pacific Coast Conference and played as independents, as the forerunner to today’s Pac-12 almost dissolved.

Today, the independent ranks are close to dissolving, but they are hanging on by a thread, or should we say four threads. Army, BYU, Massachusetts, and Notre Dame are what’s left, althought New Mexico State will join this group next year, more because they are being evicted from the Sun Belt. and the MWC has no vacancies for them at this time.

Notre Dame is only a quasi-independent. They belong to the ACC in many ways–they play a five-game schedule of ACC teams, and they can qualify for any ACC Bowl, as long as they are within one win of the next available team.

BYU is a tough fit as a full member in any conference, because the Cougars will not play any athletic competition on Sunday. In basketball, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee seeds them in brackets that keep them away from a Friday-Sunday schedule. They would be a perfect fit with New Mexico State in the Mountain West or even with New Mexico or Utah State in the Big 12, with New Mexico State replacing whichever school left.

Army is okay as an independent, although the West Pointers could fit right into the American Athletic with rival Navy. Massachusetts could easily fit in this league as well, and the independents would be history.

Since there are no preseason media polls, we will start by showing you our own PiRate Retrodictive Ratings for the four schools. You might ask how there could be retrodictive ratings, when no games have been played yet. How can we rate them on their results thus far? Obviously, this is not possible, but we begin each season adjusting the previous season’s final retrodictive ratings just like we do our regular PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings. By the fourth week of the season, the retrodictive ratings are 100% based on the current year’s results.

PiRate Retrodictive Ratings (Independents)

Independents
# Team
PiRate Retrodictive
1 Notre Dame
2 BYU
3 Army
4 Massachusetts

 

Here are our regular predictive PiRate, Mean, and Bias preseason ratings.

Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 109.7 107.8 109.6 109.0
B Y U 103.0 101.9 103.6 102.8
Army 94.6 94.2 95.5 94.8
Massachusetts 86.0 84.4 86.0 85.5
         
Independents Averages 98.3 97.1 98.7 98.0

And, here are our not-so-scientific predictions for won-loss and bowl projections.

Independents Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
BYU x 9-4 [Military]
Notre Dame x 8-4 Pinstripe
Army x 8-4 Armed Forces
Massachusetts x 3-9  

BYU’s bowl bid is an at-large bid.

 

Trivia: Nobody could come up with the answer to yesterday’s trivia question. Rather than show all the incorrect replies, since we don’t want to embarrass anybody, we erased them from the responses.
Here it is again: Who are these two legendary coaches? Coach number one was a college head coach who won 70% of his games at his first Division 1 school, a team that played in a now defunct conference. He moved on to be a college head coach at two additional schools, the second of which he was replaced by a second coaching legend who won more than 200 games at the college level and more than 250 when his NFL wins were added. Four decades after winning 70% of his games at the first school, Coach number one was still coaching, now the head coach of an NFL team which he guided to the playoffs multiple times. Coach number two was still coaching four decades later after he replaced coach number one. Coach number two won a national championship during his career.
Name the two coaches. If nobody gets the answer by the time we go to press with tomorrow’s preview, we will give the answer, but we know that our readers tend to be among the most knowledgeable football fans and analytical geniuses, so we expect somebody to come up with the correct answer.

We had several guesses, and some of you actually guessed coach number two as coach number one. Nobody guessed correctly on coach number one. He is Marv Levy, who coached at New Mexico in 1958 and 1959, going 7-3 both years. New Mexico played in the defunct Border Conference, a pre-WAC establishment. Levy moved on to an unsuccessful stint at UC-Berkeley, and then to William & Mary. Levy led the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls four decades later.

Coach number two, who succeeded Levy at William & Mary was Lou Holtz. Holtz won 249 games at the collegiate level and another three in the NFL with the Jets.

Coming later today–The American Athletic Conference

August 19, 2016

2016 FBS Independents Football Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:40 am

At one time, there were 30 college football teams at the highest level playing as independents not affiliated with any conference. There was a veritable who’s who of college football members that lived a nomadic existence. Notre Dame, Penn State, Miami, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Air Force, Houston, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and others once made hay in the sunshine of the independent ranks.

In 2016, one new team has been added to the independent ranks, bringing the total to just four. With conferences scrambling to add conference games to their schedules (Big Ten moved up to 9 this year, while Big 12 and Pac-12 already play 9), it could be tough for these teams to make future schedules, or at least schedules strong enough to sell tickets.

Notre Dame is fortunate. The Irish can participate in the ACC in all other sports, plus they get the benefit of having five guaranteed games against ACC football members, and they can also take one of the ACC’s automatic bowl bids, even with one-fewer win than the ACC regular team. Let’s see: A 6-6 Notre Dame team or a 7-5 Wake Forest team: which one would the next bowl in the pecking order take?

BYU is almost as fortunate as Notre Dame. The Cougars still have enough prestige based on a gloried past to sell seats on the road, while their home base is very loyal. BYU could be a future member of the Big 12, but the Cougars do not want to play Sunday games, and it could be a problem for some sports like baseball. Our guess is that the Big 12 will find a way to play Thursday-Saturday games against BYU.

Army West Point remains the lone service academy not in a conference. The Black Knights are no longer a power player like they once were in the days of Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik, who went 121-33-10 in 18 years at West Point, including three national championships and three more seasons where Army kept a goose egg in the loss column.

Today, Army must rely on scheduling games against FCS schools, MAC teams, and the two service academy rivals. Still, the Cadets cannot manage a winning record and bowl eligibility. Worse, their losing streak to Navy has now reached 14, and the chances for that number hitting 15 are better than 50%.

Army fans should cheer up some, because the PiRates believe the Black Knights have a decent shot at getting to six wins and taking an at-large bowl bid this year, even if Navy is not one of those wins. Coach Jeff Monken has two experienced quarterbacks, and enough talent returning to make the offense add a few points per game to the average, while the defense should see major improvement this year, shedding at least a field goal off the generosity of last year. Nine of their 12 games are winnable, so getting to 6-6 is quite possible this year.

Massachusetts was not a great fit in the Mid-American Conference. The Minutemen may be a better option one day in the AAC, but UMass must first become respectable on the gridiron. Their record for the last four seasons is just 8-40, and it’s not like they have been playing a difficult schedule. The biggest loss for this school is not having Eastern Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and Kent State on their schedule. Other than weak FCS member Wagner, there are no other guaranteed wins on the Minutemen’s 2016 slate.

There is no pre-season media polls for the four independents. Therefore, here is the consensus of computer ratings (including the three PiRate Ratings) for the teams to start the season. There are no surprises.

Independents
# Team
Includes PiRate Retrodictive
1 Notre Dame
2 BYU
3 Army
4 Massachusetts

Here are the initial PiRate Ratings for the quartet.

Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 116.0 110.8 114.6 113.8
BYU 110.4 102.7 110.1 107.7
Army 84.7 93.7 87.1 88.5
Massachusetts 74.9 84.4 76.1 78.5
         
Independents Averages 96.5 97.9 97.0 97.1

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

Thus, using our ratings to predict won-loss records and bowl projections is a bit comical, but then we all need some laughs every now and then. So, laugh away at our projected standings and bowls.

Independents Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Notre Dame x 9-3 Orange
BYU x 6-6 Poinsettia
Army x 6-6 [Cure]*
Massachusetts x 1-11  
       
* Army fills in as an at-large team in the Cure Bowl

Starting Saturday, August 20: The PiRates begin previewing the Power 5 Conferences.  First up–The Big Ten.  Can a new team emerge as the team to beat in 2016, or will it be a repeat?

 

August 14, 2015

2015 FBS Independents Preview (including in-depth Notre Dame coverage)

At one time, there were more than 30 major college football teams playing as independents not affiliated with a conference.  45 years ago, a look at the top-ranked teams found independents dominating the polls with teams like Penn State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Air Force, Houston, Florida State, and Boston College competing at the top level of the NCAA.
With Navy joining the American Athletic Conference this year, the number of independents has dwindled to just three.  Notre Dame, BYU, and Army (West Point) are all that remain.  There is a rising trend amongst the coaches and athletics directors of the other schools to mandate that all teams that wish to be eligible for the postseason playoff must be a member of a conference.  This is a direct stab at Notre Dame and their plum TV deal with NBC.
The only other news item among the Indies this year involves a name change.  Army is now to be called “Army West Point.”

Because there is no official media poll or All-Independent team, and because it is obvious that Notre Dame is the top of the trio and Army West Point is at the bottom, we will dispense with these parts of the preview and give you an in-depth look at the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame
Coach Brian Kelly is in an advantageous position this year.  Notre Dame is sitting on a potentially big season with the return of 10 defensive starters and seven offensive starters.  A team that went 8-5 with three close losses last year is considerably more talented in 2015.  The schedule is more favorable than last year’s as the Irish host Texas and USC.  Road games against Clemson and Stanford are the only roadblocks between a 12-0 slate that would put this team in the playoffs.

New starting quarterback Malik Zaire auditioned for the job last year by making his first start in the Music City Bowl.  Against a tough LSU defense, he guided the Irish offense on a 15-play touchdown drive that consumed nearly eight minutes off the clock, capping it off with a 12-yard scoring pass to William Fuller.  The drive looked similar to how the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers frequently started games.  Removing the sacks, Zaire topped 100 yards rushing in that game, and he completed 12 of 15 pass attempts for 96 yards and a score.  Look for the sophomore to have a break out season this year.  If Zaire suffers and injury, there is no experienced depth behind him, but Kelly has recruited this position well.  Two former 5-star recruits will vie for the backup spot.
The running game is talented but not that deep but with a wildcard.  Tarean Folston led the team with 889 yards last year, and it looked as if he would split time with Greg Bryant until academic ineligibility sent him to junior college in Florida.  The wildcard here is slot receiver C. J. Prosise.  Prosise was the star of Spring Practice as both a receiver and a ball carrier.  True freshman Dexter Williams may now see appreciable playing time.  With Zaire’s ability to excell in the zone read, the running game is going to be much better this year, and the Irish could top 200 rushing yards per game.

The passing game may not be as fruitful as last year, but it could be just as effective, albeit less utilized.  Fuller is back after leading the team with 76 catches and 1,094 yards.  Prosise will get his reps in the slot.  Chris Brown is almost as talented as Fuller.  Corey Robinson would start for at least half of the Big Ten teams.  Additionally, there are four or five other players capable of contributing to this deeply talented unit.  Kelly was pleased in the Spring with new starting tight end Durham Smythe.  Smythe will not replicate the numbers put up by last year’s star tight end Ben Koyack, who now plays in the NFL.

The offensive line returns four players with significant starting experience, and this unit is strong and agile.  Notre Dame will control the line of scrimmage in most of its games, and Kelly will pound the ball between the tackles more like he did in 2012.  Center NIck Martin and tackle Ronnie Stanley both have NFL potential.  The Irish can go two deep here and not see much of a drop in production.

The Irish defense was not up to par for Notre Dame standards last year, but with most of the starting lineup returning, things promise to improve in 2015.  It won’t be a repeat of 2012, but if Notre Dame can give up just 20 points per game this year, they stand to be quite successful.

Defensive tackle Sheldon Day decided to forego an early admission to the NFL and come back for his senior year.  He will team with Jarron Jones to give the Irish possibly the best tackle tandem in the nation.  Opponents will not exploit Notre Dame with inside running plays.  Both of last year’s starting ends return as well.  Isaac Rochell and Romeo Okwara provided an excellent outside pass rush last year.  Look for Notre Dame to surrender 30 to 40 fewer rushing yards per game this year as well as giving up less than four yards per attempt.  Also, look for the sack total to go up by more than 50% from 26 to more than 40.

Seldom can a team go three-deep at a defensive unit, but the Irish have 10 linebackers good enough to play in the top level of college football.  The key player is middle linebacker Joe Schmidt.  When Schmidt was in the lineup, the Irish looked like a typical defense in their storied history.  With Schmidt injured, Notre Dame played defense more like a matador.  Jaulon Smith is a tackling machine, but without Schmidt, those tackles occur too far downfield.  Who the third starter will be is still to be determined, but Kelly can choose from four or five experienced players and sleep peacefully at night.  Nyles Morgan and James Onwualu are the leading contenders.

There was a vulnerability in the secondary last year, but injuries and suspensions were the cause.  Look for things to get a lot better this year.  KeiVarae Russell returns to the club after missing all of last year due to the academic scandal of 2013.  Russell is a game changer at cornerback, and he will team with Cole Luke to make it rather hard for opponents to succeed on the outer perimeter.  Safeties Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield are not as talented as the cornerback duo, but they are competent and intelligent and should show improved play this year.

The Irish Achilles’ Heel this year is their special teams.  Gone is supertoe Kyle Brindza, who hit 51-52 PATs and 14-24 field goals last year, while punting for an average of 41.5 yards per attempt.  Two freshmen will replace him.  True freshman Justin Yoon had thoughts of becoming an NHL hockey star.  Years of playing hockey strengthened his kicking leg, and Yoon may turn out to be a better scorer than Brindza was.  However, as a freshman, Yoon may not replicate what Brindza produced last year.

The schedule begins with a visit from the Texas Longhorns.  Notre Dame should win this game by a touchdown or more.  A week two trip to Virginia could be a trap game, but the Cavaliers don’t have the talent to upset the Irish this year.  Week three brings an interesting match against Georgia Tech, and you should mark this one down on your calendar to tune into NBC for this one.  The Irish should be favored by about 4 or 5 points in this game, a if they come out of this one at 3-0, they should move into the top 5 in the polls.

After a breather home game against an improving UMass, the Irish have a tough assignment at Clemson on October 3.  The Tigers will have a bye week to prepare for this game, and CU is 26-2 at home in the last four years.  Navy comes to South Bend on October 10, and because the Irish will have already played Georgia Tech, they should fare rather well against the spread option.

The following week is the big game against rival USC.  It is possible that these teams will both still be undefeated and ranked in the top five for the first time since 1988.  Notre Dame will be out for revenge against the Trojans after losing by 35 points in the regular season finale last year.

After a welcome week off, the Irish play Temple in Philadelphia, and while the Owls will be flying with a possible 5-2 record by then, this game should not be much of a contest.  The Irish stay in the Keystone State the following week against Pittsburgh, and the Panthers don’t have the horses to pull off the upset this year.  After a home visit from Wake Forest that should not be much trouble for Kelly’s troops, Notre Dame plays Boston College in what should be a very memorable game.  The contest will be played at Fenway Park, and this is one game you won’t want to miss if you are a real football fan.

The regular season concludes on the Left Coast with a visit to The Farm against Stanford.  If Notre Dame comes out of this game with at least 11 wins, they very well could be in the FBS Playoffs.  10 wins will still guarnatee them a Big Six bowl bid.

BYU
Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall welcomes back enough talent from his 8-5 team last year to guarantee that the Cougars will once again be bowl eligible and earn a bid to the Las Vegas (or Hawaii) Bowl.  Quarterback Taysom Hill was off to a spectacular year last season until an gruesome injury ended his season early in the fifth game (when BYU was 4-0).  Hill returns to take his QB spot back, but there is no way he can be as effective as he was prior to the devastating knee injury that was worse than anything Joe Namath experienced.

The loss of expected running back starter Jamaal Williams is going to hurt, and BYU doesn’t have a back that can replace him.  With Hill not expected to use his legs like he did before the injury, the Cougar offense may become more one dimentional.  There are talented receivers, so BYU may still succeed on this side of the ball.  Mitch Mathews, Terenn Houk, Colby Pearson, and Mitchell Juergens provide Hill with four quality targets.

An offensive line that averages 310 pounds per man should provide Hill with enough pass protection to allow him to top 300 passing yards per game, and if this is so, then BYU should top 35 points per game for the second consecutive season.

The defense is not strong enough to allow BYU to compete for the one allotted Big Six bowl bid, as there are a lot of holes to plug.  The secondary will be vulnerable with the loss of three starters including star defender Robertson Daniel.

BYU is also thin at linebacker where three of four 2014 starters are missing.  Only up front, where all three 2014 starters return is above average for a FBS team.  End Bronson Kaufusi could play in the NFL next year.
The schedule is tricky this year, and the Cougars could have to play catchup in the second half of the schedule to gain bowl eligibility.  Among the first six games, BYU plays at Nebraska, UCLA, and Michigan, and they host Boise St.  A 2-4 start is not out of the question.  In the second half of the season, BYU plays Missouri in Kansas City and closes the season out against Utah State in Logan, so there is very little wiggle room for the Cougars this year.

Army West Point
To those fans of the Black Knights on the Hudson, it has been a long time since their team has been good enough to compete against teams from big conferences.  To all other football fans, it is somewhat of a blessing that this school has not fielded exceptional teams.  Why?  Because throughout its history, The Academy becomes a juggenaut when the world, or a large segment of the world, is at war.  A record of 30-4-1 during World War I included two undefeated seasons.  During World War II, Army 31-5-1 with what many believe was the best team ever.  During the Korean Conflict, the team had 8-1 and 7-1-1 seasons.  Even during the Vietnam years, Army enjoyed its last dominant years against big time opposition, going 8-2, 8-2, and 7-3 over a three-year period that included wins over Penn State, Pittsburgh, California, and Stanford.

2015 does not find the country involved in a World War, and the Black Knights do not figure to contend for a bowl bid.  Just beating Navy after losing 13 in a row in the rivalry would be considered a major success.
Second year coach Jeff Monken uses the very familiar spread option offense that the other service academies rely on, as well as Georgia Tech.  A. J. Schurr has the potential to run this offense with some success, but injuries have kept him off the field.  The senior has the experience to make the offense go, but he did not participare in Spring drills.  He is a question as the season begins, and there is little experience behind him.

The entire running back corps is raw and inexperienced.  Fullbacks Aaron Kemper and Matt Giachinta combined for just 71 rushing attempts and 310 yards, while no other back on the roster ran the ball at least 20 times.  While there is more returning experience in the receiver unit, this team seldom passes the ball with a run-pass ratio of close to 9 to 1.

The offensive line is the stong point of the offense, but in the spread option, the linemen are not the key.  Reading and reacting with quickness is what makes this offense go, and it is questionable whether this edition of Cadets can do that consistently.

The defense has some promise with the return of the top five tacklers, including linebacker Jeremy Timpf, who made close to 10 tackles per game last year and registered 14 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage.  A weak pass defense made it hard for Army to get its defense off the field last year.  Three starters return, which may or may not be a plus.
The Schedule offers a few weak opponents, a few opponents that are beatable but better than this team, and the rest of the slate comes against teams that will easily defeat the Black Knights.

PiRate, Mean, Bias, and Average Ratings For The Independents

FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 121.7 117.7 121.6 120.3
BYU 103.8 102.4 105.1 103.8
Army (West Point) 77.0 88.1 78.4 81.2

Here are our predicted Won-Loss records and bowl projections for the trio.

PiRate Ratings Predicted Records
Pos Team Conf. Overall Bowl
1 Notre Dame 6-0 * 11-1 Big Six
2 BYU 0-0 7-5 Las Vegas
3 Army (West Point) 0-0 3-9 None
* 6-0 Represents Notre Dame’s slate against the ACC

Coming Next: We begin our coverage of the five major conferences with our preview of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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