The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 12, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For February 13-14, 2016

We have received some emails from some of our subscribers asking if we can explain a little about the Four Factors and how we use them to construct ratings.  While our algorithm is our secret recipe, and we obviously cannot reveal the numbers, we can show you a little about how it works, which is the basis of our Red Rating.

Pirate Red: An algorithm using the Four Factors adjusted to strength of schedule and home/neutral/road splits.

The Four Factors include:

Effective Field Goal Percentage by offense and defense: (FG+(3pt*0.5))/FGA

Example: Oklahoma Offense– (674+(252*0.5))/1426 = 56.1%

Oklahoma Defense– (605+(169*0.5))/1514 = 45.5%

Oklahoma Effective Field Goal % Difference 56.1-45.5 = 10.6%

Oklahoma EFG% Adjusted for SOS = 10.6% *1.076 = 11.4% better than average or about 13.2 raw points better than average based on our algorithm.  We adjust this rating for home and road games, as the Sooners enjoy a home court advantage while suffering a little road court disadvantage.

Offensive Rebounding Rate & Opponents’ Offensive Rebounding Rate: Off. Reb./(Off. Reb. + Opponents Def. Reb)

Example: Michigan State Offensive Rebounding Rate: 313/(313+528) = 37.2%

Michigan State Opponents Offensive Rebounding Rate: 234/(234+752) =23.7%

Michigan State Rebounding Rate Difference  37.2-23.7 = 13.5%

Michigan State Rebounding Rate % Adjusted for SOS = 13.5%*1.064 = 14.4% better than average or about 10.6 raw points better than average based on our algorithm.  We adjust this rating for home and road games, just like above with Oklahoma.

Turnover Rate for each team and their opponents: TO/Possessions

Example: Stephen F. Austin Turnover Rate: 279/1553 = 18.0%

Stephen F. Austin’s Opponents’ Turnover Rate: 413/1551 = 26.6%

Possessions differ by one or two per game depending on who wins the opening tip and who has the last possession of a half.

Stephen F. Austin Turnover Rate Difference 26.6-18.0 = 8.6%

Stephen F. Austin Turnover Rate Adjusted for SOS = 8.6*.924 = 7.9% better than average or about 5.2 raw points better than average based on our algorithm.  As you can see in this example, SFA’s schedule is considerably weaker than average, so some of their advantage has been removed.

We then adjust for home/road splits like above.

Free Throw Rate: FT/Possessions

This is where we differ from most of the other Four Factors followers.  The regular formula used by others is FTA/FGA.  We believe this formula overstates the actual rate due to many college games where teams are forced to foul at the end.  Thus a team might hold onto a 7 to 10 point lead with 5 minutes left in the game and then work the clock down to the last few seconds.  In that same game, the opponent might be forced to foul in the last 2 minutes.  Thus, field goal attempts would be down and free throw attempts would be up.  What if the leading team blows a lot of free throws, allowing the trailing team to come from behind to win?

The stats for the team that blew the lead would be inflated.  What if instead of taking 55 field goal attempts with 22 free throw attempts had they not slowed the pace down and not gone to the foul line almost every possession in the end of the game, they ended up taking just 49 field goal attempts and 32 free throw attempts, making just 4 of 10 of those foul shots under pressure when they blew the game?

Using the regular FT Rate, the team that blew the game had a 65.3 FT Rate but had the game been normal without the slowing down and multiple fouls, the team’s FT Rate would have been 40.0.  That’s a difference of more than 25%, which is huge, and it led you to believe that the eventual losing team was better off to slow the game down and force fouls.

We use Free throws made per possession.  Let’s look at that same game again.  First, instead of each team having 70 possessions in the game, the slowdown lowered that number to each having 68 possessions, not much, but still worth mentioning.

The team that ended up taking 32 free throw attempt made 20 in the 68 possessions.  Using our method, their FT Rate was 29.4%.  Going under the theory that they would have taken 10 fewer free throw attempt (the 4 of 10 they shot when the other team fouled at the end), they would have been 16 of 22 in a 70-possession game, which figures to 22.9%.  Instead of 25% difference, we now have just 6.5% difference, and that is about what the extra fouls by the opponent benefited this team.  Even though they hit just 4 of 10 of the extra foul shots, there were 5 extra fouls committed, and somebody on the other team probably fouled out, hurting the other team.

Once again, the PiRate Rating Formula for FT Rate is: FT Made/Possessions

Example: South Carolina: 480/1793 = 26.8%  as opposed to 50.4% the other way

South Carolina Opponents: 365/1793 = 20.4% as opposed to 39.1% the other way.

USC FT Rate Difference = 6.4% our way as opposed to 11.3% the other way, which overstates the Gamecocks’ advantage due to their numerous games in which they were fouled at the end of close games.  In their most recent game, USC went to the foul line five different times in the last 57 seconds of the game, due to LSU fouling.

South Carolina FT Rate adjusted for SOS = 6.4*1.038 = 6.6% better than average or about 2.8 points better than average before adjusting for home and road splits.  Had we used the standard FT Rates, USC’s adjusted points would have been inflated by 2.2 additional points, which is 2.2 points more than they deserve to have.

Putting It All Together

We plug each of the Four Factors’ results for the two teams playing and then we adjust by giving the home team their advantage based on their data while deducting from the road team based on their data.  In some cases, the home team might actually have an overall disadvantage in some cases, but it is rare.

We then come out with a base number for each team.  The difference is not the pointspread just yet.  We have to include a constant that we correlate based on back-testing to come up with the most accurate predictive model.

How has it performed so far?  This is just the second season we have done this, and because it is quite labor intensive, as we have to plug in new stats for each team for each game, we can only do this for the power conferences–ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC, plus the occasional big game, like SMU vs. Gonzaga this weekend.

Last year, in Todd Beck’s Prediction Tracker, our Red and White Ratings finished 1-2 overall.  To date this season, the White-Red Ratings are currently 1-2 overall.


Here are this week’s selections.

Games Schedule for: Saturday, February 13, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Notre Dame Louisville 2 1 -3
North Carolina St. Wake Forest 8 8 4
Clemson Georgia Tech 4 3 6
Duke Virginia 4 4 5
West Virginia TCU 18 19 24
Oklahoma St. Kansas St. 2 1 3
Oklahoma Kansas 5 6 8
Baylor Texas Tech 8 6 7
Iowa St. Texas 7 6 3
Providence Georgetown 4 5 8
Butler Xavier 2 2 -1
Marquette Creighton -2 -1 -4
Villanova St. John’s 26 27 25
Michigan Purdue -1 -1 -3
Rutgers Ohio St. -10 -13 -11
Nebraska Penn St. 8 8 10
Maryland Wisconsin 11 9 7
Northwestern Illinois 6 7 5
Colorado Washington 4 5 7
Stanford Oregon -7 -4 -6
California Oregon St. 8 8 10
South Carolina Kentucky 1 2 3
LSU Texas A&M 1 1 1
Ole Miss Arkansas 2 1 3
Missouri Tennessee -5 -4 -4
Florida Alabama 10 11 8
Auburn Vanderbilt -8 -9 -3
Mississippi St. Georgia 5 1 3
SMU Gonzaga 5 6 -2


Games Schedule for: Sunday, February 14, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
North Carolina Pittsburgh 13 11 12
Boston College Syracuse -10 -13 -12
Florida St. Miami (Fl.) -1 -1 -1
Michigan St. Indiana 8 7 8
Iowa Minnesota 24 22 28
Utah Washington St. 13 14 14
Arizona USC 7 6 8
Arizona St. UCLA 4 4 2


February 5, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Picks For February 6-7, 2016

Breaking News: The University of Louisville has self-imposed a ban on the postseason for this year.  This means one extra bubble team just benefitted greatly.


Here are this weekend’s picks from the top 6 conferences.



Red= An algorithm based 100% on the Four Factors

White= An algorithm combining the Four Factors and a Least Squares formula on who beat who where and when

Blue= A 100% ratings’ based algorithm concentrating on scoring margin and strength of schedule

All ratings rounded to nearest whole number except when that number is 0.  Then, even if the rating is 1/1000 of a point different, the team 1/1000 of a point better is listed as a 1-point favorite.

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, February 6, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Pittsburgh Virginia -2 1 1
Wake Forest Florida St. -4 -5 -3
Louisville Boston College 24 26 19
Duke North Carolina St. 12 12 10
Virginia Tech Clemson 1 1 -1
Notre Dame North Carolina -3 -1 -5
TCU Kansas -10 -10 -12
Oklahoma St. Iowa St. -4 -4 1
Texas Texas Tech 7 6 8
Kansas St. Oklahoma -7 -3 -7
West Virginia Baylor 8 8 10
Xavier Marquette 15 14 12
Creighton Depaul 12 15 17
Providence Villanova -4 -2 -5
St. John’s Butler -11 -14 -8
Seton Hall Georgetown 6 16 9
Michigan Michigan St. -3 -3 -5
Nebraska Rutgers 16 17 14
Maryland Purdue 5 5 6
Penn St. Indiana -10 -24 -15
California Stanford 8 8 7
Washington Arizona -3 -2 -9
Washington St. Arizona St. -3 -5 -3
Oregon St. Colorado 2 -1 -1
Alabama Missouri 11 10 10
Kentucky Florida 6 4 7
Texas A&M South Carolina 9 7 10
Georgia Auburn 10 13 7
LSU Mississippi St. 8 9 14
Arkansas Tennessee 7 7 8
Ole Miss Vanderbilt -2 -3 2


Games Schedule for: Sunday, February 7 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Georgia Tech Miami (Fl.) -3 -2 -5
Illinois Iowa -13 -11 -16
Oregon Utah 11 9 12


February 1, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—February 1, 2016

As Ground Hog’s Day approaches, the numbers of potential at-large teams drops into a more manageable number.  Conference tournament action kicks off in less than four weeks, and four dozens of teams, their only chance to make the Big Dance will be to win their conference tournament.

In the past week, a couple of conferences on the verge of having a second team guaranteed to make the Field of 68 became clearer to the 32 Bracketologists that we consider A-1.  The West Coast Conference now looks like a two-bid league for sure with both Gonzaga and St. Mary’s on pace to become locks.  The American Conference is close to being assured of at least two teams with Cincinnati coming on strong and Connecticut looking like they have just enough positives on their resume to get in the Dance.

In the case of the Missouri Valley, Wichita State opened up a three-game lead over rivals Evansville and Southern Illinois, as the Shockers now look like a Sweet 16 team with the entire roster healthy.  San Diego State has lapped the field in the Mountain West, and it looks like the Aztecs will be the lone team to earn a spot in the field if they win the conference tournament as well.

The bubble has been reduced to just 15 teams this week, with the top five on the bubble in the field, and the bottom 10 on the outside, looking in.

Here is this week’s One-bid Conference Review.

America East

Stony Brook (8-0/17-4) made it 13 wins in a row with a 27-point win over contender Maine and a road win against Vermont by double digits.  The Seawolves have enough talent to pull off a Round of 64 upset and cannot be overlooked.  SBU should be no worse than 14-2/23-6 entering the AmEast Conference Tournament.  Only Albany (6-2/17-6) still has a chance to take away the top seed, and we don’t see it happening.  It will be a monumental upset if any team other than the Seawolves win this bid.


Atlantic Sun

North Florida (7-0/18-6) has begun to distance themselves from the rest of the league.  Florida Gulf Coast (4-3/13-10) has dropped three games in a row, while Jacksonville (5-2/13-11) has moved into second place.  UNF looks like a 12-2/23-8 team at worst entering A-Sun Tourney play.  The Ospreys have a pair of guards that can shoot opponents out of the game when they get on a hot streak.  Dallas Moore and Beau Beech can knock it in from downtown and get inside the arc for open shorter looks.  They both scored 31 points at LSU earlier in the season and might have upset the Tigers had Ben Simmons not gone for 43 points.


Big Sky

Montana (8-1/13-7)  maintained the lead in the Big Sky with a road win over middle-of-the-pack rival Montana State, while top contender Weber State (7-1/15-6) swept the league’s two bottom-feeders.  The top two teams meet Saturday, February 27, in Ogden, with the winner most likely to earn the top-seed.  Unlike in years past, when only the top four, six, or eight teams qualified for the conference tournament, and the top-seed hosted it, the league has switched to a new format where all 12 teams qualify for the tournament, and it will be played in Reno.


Big South

This league is one of the most interesting of the low major conferences.  Seven teams are still in contention for the conference tournament.  Winthrop (8-3/16-6) is the hot team, having won eight consecutive games.  The Eagles are tied for first with UNC-Asheville (8-3/15-8).  Five other teams are within two games of first.  The conference tournament is at last place Campbell.


Big West

The top two teams both suffered setbacks last week but still remain the teams to beat.  Defending champion UC-Irvine (6-1/17-6) still has the best roster for scaring an #2 or #3 seed, but Hawaii (5-1/16-3) may have the better overall talent.  As usual for the league, the conference tournament is in Anaheim, and that should help Irvine a little.



This is a five-team race to the conference championship, and any of the five could compete in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament.  Presently, UNC-Wilmington (8-2/16-5) and Hofstra (8-2/16-6) are both enjoying healthy winning streaks, but February presents both schools tough finishing schedules.  The co-leaders face off for the first of two times Thursday night in Hempstead.  The out-of-conference schedules were not strong enough to merit an extra bid from this league, but there are two or even three teams talented enough to compete in the Field of 68.


Conference USA

UAB (8-1/18-4) is in the catbird’s seat in C-USA.  The Blazers are close to locking up the top-seed in the conference tournament, and the league has made it easier for them by putting the conference tournament in Birmingham.  Middle Tennessee (7-2/15-6) is firmly in control of the important second spot, where the top two seeds receive byes to the third day of the tournament.  UAB must still visit MTSU on Sunday, February 21.



Valparaiso (9-1/19-4) is running away with this race.  Wright State (7-3/13-10) defeated Valpo earlier this year, but the Crusaders will have the chance to get revenge at home later this month.  The top two seeds receive byes to the conference tournament semifinal round.  Valpo could earn a 10-seed if they win out, but they will not receive an at-large bid if they are upset in the conference tourney.



The one holdout when it comes to conference tournaments, the Ivy League still may be faced with a playoff of two or even three teams.  Currently, two teams remained unbeaten in league play.  Yale (4-0/13-5) knocked off previously unbeaten in Ivy play Princeton Saturday night, while Columbia (4-0/15-6) won at Harvard.  The Bulldogs and Lions face off Friday night in New Haven, with a return game in the Big Apple on March 5.  There is a good chance that the two might be forced to play a rubber game on March 12.


Metro Atlantic

The top three teams have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the league.  Monmouth (9-2/17-5) has won eight of nine games, including wins over the other two contenders, Siena (8-3/15-7) and Iona (8-3/11-9).  The three contenders each face the other two one more time this year, starting with Monmouth facing Siena in Albany tonight.  The MAAC Tournament will be in Albany again.



The MAC returns to its old conference tournament format with the four first round games played on campus sites and the winners joining the four teams receiving byes in Cleveland for the final three rounds.  Even though the league is still divided into divisions, the teams will be seeded one to 12 in the postseason.  In a showdown of division leaders last Tuesday, Akron (6-2/17-4) bested Northern Illinois (5-3/16-5).  Kent State (6-2/15-6) and Central Michigan (5-3/12-9) currently hold on to the other two of the top four seeds, but there are teams behind these four capable of winning the lone automatic bid.


Mideastern Athletic

This race tightened since we last reported, as South Carolina State (7-2/12-11) won at league-leader Hampton (8-1/12-8) Saturday.  It was the only regular season meeting between the top two teams, so Hampton does not have to go to Orangeburg.


Missouri Valley

Wichita State (10-0/16-5) has opened up a three-game lead over Evansville (7-3/18-5) and Southern Illinois (7-3/18-5), and short of SIU winning out in the regular season, which would include a Wednesday night win over the Shockers, this league will be reduced to one bid if WSU wins the automatic berth.


Mountain West

San Diego State (9-0/16-6) is on the verge of doing in the MWC what Wichita State has done in the MVC.  The Aztecs are now 2 1/2 games ahead of number two New Mexico (6-2/13-8).  The conference tournament is in Vegas, but the home team UNLV Rebels are mired in a distant seventh place and in utter disarray, so do not expect the home team to win the tournament or even make it to the semifinals.



This remains an exciting race, as six teams remain in contention for the conference championship.  Seeding is very important in the NEC, because all conference tournament games are played on the superior-seed home courts.  Saturday, Wagner (7-3/14-7) won at Mount St. Mary’s (7-3/10-13) to become the hot team.  Fairleigh Dickinson (7-3/11-10) will make the 30-mile trek to Staten Island Thursday night to face Wagner.


Ohio Valley

Belmont (8-1/16-7) lost its first league game of the season, when the Bruins lost at Tennessee Tech (8-2/16-7).  The Golden Eagles also bested Tennessee State (6-2/15-6) earlier in the week.  TTU must still face the other two contenders on enemy turf this month.  Morehead State (6-3/12-9) is in fourth place in the East Division, but that record would be good for first in the West Division.  The top two seeds earn byes to the semifinal round.



Bucknell (9-1/12-9) has won nine of their last 10 games, and the Bison hold a 2 1/2 game lead over Navy (6-3/15-7), after the Midshipmen lost twice to bottom division opponents last week.  All conference tournament games are played at the home courts of the higher seeds, and it will be very difficult for anybody to beat Bucknell at Sojka Pavilion.



With non-conference wins over Georgia, Dayton, and Illinois, and a loss at Iowa State, Chattanooga (7-1/18-3) might be capable of advancing past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, if star big guard Casey Jones can return from his ankle injury and play at the same pace prior to the injury.  This team is solid and capable of winning 30 games.  Any other team earning the bid from this league will be a great disappointment, because the Mocs are 10 points better than anybody else when Jones is healthy.



Brad Underwood should be coaching in a Power 5 conference.  The head man of Stephen F. Austin (8-0/15-5), even in his early 50’s, is talented enough to get a big time job and lead a major conference team to a Final Four.  The Lumberjacks face their sternest test of the conference season this Saturday, when they venture to co-leader Houston Baptist (8-0/14-7).  Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (7-1/16-4) is close behind but lost at home to SFA over the weekend.


Southwestern Athletic

Three teams appear to be above the rest in the league, but it looks like an almost certainty that the winner of the automatic bid will have to turn around on just two or three days off to play a First Four game in Dayton.  Texas Southern (8-0/9-11), Southern (7-2/15-7), and Jackson State (6-2/11-10) are the top three, while Alcorn State (6-3/8-12) is eligible to play in the SWAC Tournament, but ineligible to play in any postseason tournament.  If the Braves were to win the Conference Tournament, the league will then choose the representative.



How about a race with four teams tied for first as they round the final turn and head for home?  Locked in a tight race are South Dakota State (7-2/18-5), IPFW (7-2/18-6), Omaha (7-2/15-8), and IUPUI (7-2/11-13).  The conference tournament remains in Sioux Falls, so the Jackrabbits have the advantage over the other three co-leaders.  For Omaha, this is the Mavericks’ first year as an eligible member of Division 1.  Omaha may actually be the best of the quartet, and they still must face SDSU twice.


Sun Belt

Arkansas-Little Rock (9-1/19-2) probably has no chance at an at-large bid, even if they were to win out through the conference tournament semifinals before losing in the championship game.  Even at 29-3, the Trojans would likely be headed to the NIT.  UALR’s chief competition is Louisiana-Lafayette (7-3/11-8).


This leaves 46 teams from multiple bid leagues.  Here is a rundown on each conference.




Okay for Now

Cincinnati (6-3/16-6)


Connecticut (5-3/15-6)


Tulsa (6-3/14-7)

Temple (6-3/12-8)


Atlantic Coast


North Carolina (8-0/19-2)

Louisville (6-2/17-4)

Virginia (6-3/17-4)

Miami (5-3/16-4)

Okay for Now

Duke (4-4/15-6)

Pittsburgh (6-3/17-4)

Notre Dame (6-3/15-6)


Syracuse (5-5/15-8)

Florida State (4-5/14-7)


Clemson (6-3/13-8)


Atlantic 10


Dayton (8-1/18-3)

Okay for Now

Virginia Commonwealth (8-0/16-5)


St. Joseph’s (7-1/18-3)


George Washington (5-3/16-5)


Big 12


Oklahoma (6-2/18-2)

Baylor (6-2/17-4)

West Virginia (6-2/17-4)

Kansas (5-3/17-4)

Iowa St. (5-3/16-5)

Okay for Now

Texas (5-3/14-7)


Texas Tech (2-6/12-8)


Kansas St. (2-6/13-8)


Big East


Villanova (8-1/18-3)

Xavier (7-2/19-2)

Providence (6-3/18-4)

Okay for Now

Seton Hall (5-4/15-6)


Butler (3-6/14-7)


Creighton (5-4/14-8)


Big Ten


Iowa (8-1/17-4)

Maryland (8-2/19-3)

Michigan St. (6-4/19-4)

Purdue (7-3/19-4)

Okay for Now

Michigan (7-2/17-5)

Indiana (8-1/18-4)




Wisconsin (5-4/13-9)




Oregon (7-2/18-4)

Arizona (5-4/17-5)

Utah (6-3/17-5)

USC (6-3/17-5)

Okay for Now

Colorado (6-3/17-5)


California (4-5/14-8)

Washington (6-3/14-7)


UCLA (4-5/13-9)

Oregon St. (3-6/12-8)




Texas A&M (7-1/18-3)

Kentucky (6-2/16-5)

Okay for Now

Florida (5-3/14-7)

South Carolina (6-2/19-2)


LSU (6-2/13-8)


Vanderbilt (4-4/12-9)

Alabama (2-6/11-9)

West Coast



Okay for Now

St. Mary’s (9-1/18-2)


Gonzaga (9-2/17-5)


BYU (7-3/16-7)


The 68 Teams Seeded

1 Oklahoma
1 Villanova
1 North Carolina
1 Xavier
2 Iowa
2 Kansas
2 Virginia
2 Texas A&M
3 Maryland
3 Oregon
3 Michigan St.
3 Iowa St.
4 West Virginia
4 Miami (FL.)
4 Louisville
4 Purdue
5 Kentucky
5 Dayton
5 Providence
5 Baylor
6 Arizona
6 Utah
6 Duke
7 Texas
7 Michigan
7 Indiana
7 Florida
8 Pittsburgh
8 South Carolina
8 Wichita St.
8 Notre Dame
9 Colorado
9 Virginia Commonwealth
9 St. Mary’s 
9 Cincinnati
10 Valparaiso
10 St. Joseph’s
10 Syracuse
10 California
11 Florida St.
11 Seton Hall
11 Connecticut
11 Washington
11 Gonzaga
12 Butler
12 LSU
12 Texas Tech
12 Monmouth
12 San Diego St.
13 Chattanooga
13 South Dakota St.
13 Stony Brook
14 Akron
14 UNC-Wilmington
14 UC-Irvine
14 UAB
15 Yale
15 Belmont
15 North Florida
15 Stephen F. Austin
16 Winthrop
16 Montana
16 Hampton
16 Wagner
16 Bucknell
16 Texas Southern

Last Four IN:Gonzaga, Butler, LSU, Texas Tech

First Four OUT: Wisconsin, UCLA, George Washington, Clemson

Next Four OUT: Vanderbilt, Kansas St., Oregon St., Creighton



January 29, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Picks For January 30-31, 2016

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:05 pm
Games Schedule for: Saturday, January 30, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Syracuse Georgia Tech 6 5 9
Florida St. Clemson 6 5 8
Louisville Virginia 8 7 5
North Carolina St. Miami (Fl.) -5 -5 -3
North Carolina Boston College 28 28 30
Florida West Virginia -1 2 -1
Texas Vanderbilt 5 3 6
Kansas St. Ole Miss 9 10 12
TCU Tennessee -2 -4 -1
Texas A&M Iowa St. 2 4 5
Arkansas Texas Tech 4 3 10
LSU Oklahoma -7 -5 -4
Baylor Georgia 11 6 15
Kansas Kentucky 6 4 8
Auburn Oklahoma St. -3 -1 2
Marquette Butler 1 1 -1
Depaul Xavier -12 -14 -15
Creighton Seton Hall 5 5 2
Georgetown Providence 3 2 1
Penn St. Michigan -6 1 -5
Indiana Minnesota 19 19 23
Purdue Nebraska 13 13 10
USC Washington 9 9 4
Utah Stanford 8 1 6
UCLA Washington St. 10 11 12
Arizona Oregon St. 12 12 14
South Carolina Alabama 8 10 8
Missouri Mississippi St. 1 -1 -2
Games Schedule for: Sunday, January 31, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
St. John’s Villanova -18 -20 -25
Notre Dame Wake Forest 11 11 10
Ohio St. Maryland -4 -3 -5
Iowa Northwestern 18 14 19
Colorado California 3 3 5
Michigan St. Rutgers 26 27 22
Pittsburgh Virginia Tech 8 9 7
Illinois Wisconsin -1 -2 -5
Arizona St. Oregon -2 1 2


January 15, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Picks for January 16-17, 2016

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:55 am

This week, we expand our selections to include both Saturday and Sunday games of games from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC.

Beginning next week, we will commence with our 32 Bracketologists consensus as there have now been enough games to actually put some weight behind the teams in the field, on the bubble, and out of the field.

The Red Rating uses an algorithm based on the Four Factors of basketball.

The White Rating incorporates a “least squares” principle to the Four Factors.

The Blue Rating is a separate statistics and strength of schedule approach similar to our PiRate Bias Ratings in football.

Games Schedule for: Saturday, January 16, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Georgia Tech Virginia Tech 9 9 4
Wake Forest Syracuse 1 1 3
North Carolina North Carolina St. 18 15 21
Pittsburgh Boston College 19 23 19
Duke Notre Dame 10 9 10
Clemson Miami (Fla.) -5 -5 3
Kansas TCU 23 20 26
Texas Tech Baylor -1 5 2
Oklahoma West Virginia 7 6 -2
Kansas St. Iowa St. -1 2 2
Texas Oklahoma St. 6 8 5
Maryland Ohio St. 12 11 8
Minnesota Indiana -13 -13 -9
Illinois Nebraska 3 3 5
Northwestern Penn St. 10 11 9
Arizona St. Washington 6 6 2
Arizona Washington St. 16 16 17
South Carolina Missouri 15 15 11
Georgia Texas A&M -1 -1 -4
Mississippi St. Tennessee 1 -1 3
Auburn Kentucky -10 -10 -14
Vanderbilt Alabama 9 12 5
Ole Miss Florida 1 -3 3
LSU Arkansas 3 3 6
Games Schedule for: Sunday, January 17, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Florida St. Virginia -2 -3 -3
Wisconsin Michigan St. -6 -4 -9
Iowa Michigan 12 10 8
Colorado Oregon -1 2 4
Utah Oregon St. 4 3 6


January 9, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Picks for January 9, 2016

Here are this week’s PiRate Ratings College Basketball picks with our experimental ratings, 2.0.

The Red Rating uses an algorithm based on the Four Factors of basketball.

The White Rating incorporates a “least squares” principle to the Four Factors.

The Blue Rating is a separate statistics and strength of schedule approach similar to our PiRate Bias Ratings in football.


Games Schedule for: Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016      
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Duke Virginia Tech 18 16 19
Georgia Tech Virginia -5 -3 -6
Notre Dame Pittsburgh 5 2 3
Miami Florida St. 11 12 9
Syracuse North Carolina -7 -5 -7
West Virginia Oklahoma St. 16 16 15
Iowa St. Baylor 8 10 4
Oklahoma Kansas St. 16 11 12
TCU Texas -3 -6 -7
Texas Tech Kansas -7 -1 -8
Wisconsin Maryland -3 -2 -5
Minnesota Northwestern -2 -5 1
Rutgers Nebraska -3 -6 -2
Washington St. Washington 2 -1 1
UCLA Arizona St. 5 4 6
USC Arizona 3 5 -1
Oregon St. California 1 1 -2
Tennessee Texas A&M -1 -1 1
Florida LSU 7 10 6
South Carolina Vanderbilt 6 5 8
Arkansas Mississippi St. 7 8 8
Alabama Kentucky -4 -5 -3
Ole Miss Georgia 3 -1 1
Missouri Auburn 2 1 -2


December 31, 2015

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Picks for January 2, 2016

Welcome to year two of the experimental PiRate College Basketball Ratings.  In year one, our three ratings performed remarkably well with the Red and White ratings hitting around 77% accuracy and the Blue rating coming in at 72%.


Because of time constraints, we will be issuing picks of games played on Saturdays from the Atlantic Coast, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Southeastern conferences, plus some additional key games involving other teams highly-ranked.  For instance, this week, we will include the Butler-Xavier game, which just might be the game of the week.


Our college basketball ratings are not fluid like our football ratings.  We have to recalculate them every game as if it is a brand new rating, so to calculate every game in Division 1, we would have to recalculate upwards of 350 teams a day, and that my friends is just not possible for the small staff we have here.


Here is a brief explanation of how we calculate these ratings.

RED: Our Red Rating uses an algorithm based solely on basketball’s “Four Factors,” popularized by basketball metric genius Dean Oliver.  The Four Factors are: effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, rebounding percentage, and free throw rates.  Oliver stated that the outcomes of games are decided by the offensive and defensive rates of these four factors with shooting counting for 40%, turnovers 25%, rebounding 20%, and free throw rates 15%.  We have tweaked his formulas just a tad, especially the philosophy of how to count free throw rates, and we have also separated turnovers into two sub-categories: steals and all others.  We then used the great back-testing tool to find an algorithm that made a “best fit” for the data into actual point spreads.


WHITE: Our White Rating uses all the data from the Red Rating and then adds a “least squares” approach to fit the teams into an order of best to worst.  Because we do not plan on rating all 351 D1 teams, we only perform this for the five conferences previously mentioned plus any other teams in our weekly report.   For instance, this week, we rated the 65 teams in the ACC, B12, B10, P12, and SEC plus the 3 extra teams that we have included in this report, ranking them from #1 Kansas to #68 Boston College  We then take the Red Rating and adjust it up or down by a formula based on how much higher or lower each team is in our least squares rating.


BLUE: This is another statistics’- based formula relying a lot more on scoring margins and strength of schedule.  The Four Factors do not come into play in this rating.  Who you beat or lost to, and by how much is the base for this rating, but we break it down into a unique manner.  Some teams will win games by large margins when they are superior but may not be as superior overall as other teams that win more consistently buy by smaller margins.  For instance, let’s take three conference teams in a good league: Team A, Team B, and Team C.  A is the best of the three and will eventually win the conference title, while C is a rebuilding team that will finish last in the league.  B will finish in 4th place in this mythical 12-team league.  A is good enough to sweep both B and C, while B will sweep C.  You would normally expect A to beat C by more points than B beats C, but B may be that sort of team that runs the score up on teams like C, while A wins by fewer points.  If A beats C by 12 points, while B beats C by 24 points, you might get the impression that B is better than A.  This Blue rating does not automatically believe that to be the case.


One drawback with these formulas is that it cannot account for injuries or other personnel changes.  That is why it is still experimental.  We will not remove the experimental tag until we have a way to account for injuries.  For instance, earlier today, Xavier lost its star point guard Edmund Sumner to an injury that required his removal from the arena by a stretcher.  It is undetermined when he can return to action, and in his absence, XU goes from a Final Four contender to possibly an NIT participant if he is lost for the season.  However, in the Butler game for Saturday, his absence will not be factored into the ratings.


Okay, now that we have either confused you or put you to sleep, here are our opening ratings for Saturday, January 2, 2016.  Yes, get used to “2016.”  If it’s 2016, there will be a little national election, and we will supply our metric analysis to this pennant race as well.


Games Schedule for: Saturday, January 2, 2016      
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Clemson Florida St. -3 -4 -7
North Carolina Georgia Tech 16 12 16
Virginia Tech North Carolina St. -1 1 -2
Miami (Fla.) Syracuse 12 13 11
Boston College Duke -14 -16 -15
Virginia Notre Dame 10 10 9
Kansas St. West Virginia -4 -1 -1
Texas Tech Texas 4 7 3
Oklahoma St. TCU 6 8 7
Kansas Baylor 13 11 10
Oklahoma Iowa St. 10 7 8
Michigan Penn St. 12 10 14
Minnesota Michigan St. -11 -12 -16
Nebraska Indiana -7 -5 -3
Purdue Iowa 7 7 4
Northwestern Maryland -1 -1 -3
Auburn Tennessee 1 -1 4
Texas A&M Arkansas 10 9 12
Kentucky Ole Miss 12 14 9
Florida Georgia 9 8 4
Vanderbilt LSU 11 13 10
South Carolina Memphis 9 8 4
Xavier Butler 5 4 2

March 31, 2015

Final Four Preview–Semifinals

Team Team Tip Time Network
Kentucky (38-0) Wisconsin (35-3) 6:09 PM EDT TBS
Duke (33-4) Michigan St. (27-11) 8:49 PM EDT TBS

Indianapolis will be rocking Saturday night as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four promises to be exciting with the potential for two close games.

The four teams share similar statistical competence where past National Champions have dominated, namely in rebounding.  As we told you a couple weeks ago, the one statistic that has 100% correlation with the National Champion is positive rebounding margin.  Since 1954, when complete rebounding statistics were archived, every National Champion has finished the season with positive rebounding margin.  This is not true for the other statistics, as we have crowned champions with negative field goal margin, negative turnover margin, and negative free throw margin.

This year is no different; the four combatants are all dominant rebounding teams, each outrebounding their opposition by more than five per game.

Looking back at the remaining Pirate Ratings Final Four Criteria, we have four teams that fit our mold like a glove.  All four have scoring margins greater than 8.0 per game, with three holding double-digit socring margins.  Two of the four hold 8% or greater field goal percentage margins, with one pushing that number into double digits.  Three of the four have better than 75% winning percentage away from their home floor, and all four have fat R+T ratings.

Final Four Offensive Statistics

Team FG FGA 3pt 3pta FT FTa OR DR TO Stl
Duke 1049 2090 277 711 567 816 432 935 408 265
Kentucky  980 2096 200 577 676 933 485 975 402 248
Michigan St. 992 2126 287 743 441 698 427 998 427 199
Wisconsin 966 2006 274 752 560 733 360 909 281 170

Final Four Defensive Statistics

Team FG FGA 3pt 3pta FT FTa OR DR TO Stl
Duke 915 2165 185 592 363 522 408 751 462 209
Kentucky  727 2068 168 629 425 650 451 730 523 181
Michigan St. 807 2054 222 702 565 783 371 840 409 208
Wisconsin 846 1987 195 522 308 439 285 766 367 154

Four Factors Statistics

Duke 56.8 46.5 36.5 30.4 16.6 18.7 23.1 14.7
Kentucky  51.5 39.2 39.9 31.6 16.4 21.4 27.5 17.4
Michigan St. 53.4 44.7 33.7 27.1 17.4 16.6 17.9 22.9
Wisconsin 55.0 47.5 32.0 23.9 12.4 16.1 24.6 13.5

PiRate Ratings Criteria Statistics for Final Four

Team PPG D PPG Mar. FG-M Rb-M TO-M R+T WLRd W-L SOS Poss.
Duke 79.5 64.3 15.2 7.9 5.6 1.5 16.6 14-2 33-4 61.8 66.3
Kentucky  74.6 53.9 20.8 11.6 7.3 3.2 22.4 18-0 38-0 58.7 64.6
Michigan St. 71.4 63.2 8.2 7.4 5.6 -0.5 13.9 13-6 27-11 67.0 64.7
Wisconsin 72.8 57.8 15.0 5.6 5.7 2.3 17.9 20-2 35-3 61.1 59.9

PiRate Ratings For Semifinal Round

Team Team Red White Blue
Kentucky Wisconsin 3 3 6
Duke Michigan St. 6 5 8

100 Computer Simulations For Semifinal Round

Kentucky vs. Wisconsin

Kentucky Wins: 94

Wisconsin Wins: 6

Average Score: Kentucky 71  Wisconsin 62

Outlier A: Kentucky 78  Wisconsin 62

Outlier B: Wisconsin 64  Kentucky 59

Duke vs. Michigan St.

Duke Wins: 84

Michigan St. Wins: 16

Average Score: Duke 77  Michigan St. 70

Outlier A: Duke 84  Michigan St. 62

Outlier B: Michigan St. 73  Duke 64

March 13, 2015

NCAA Men’s Basketball Update–Friday, March 13, 2015

The PiRates have been attacked by enemy vessels, so we are operating on auxiliary buccaneer power this week.  We are sorry for any inconveniences, and we hope to be back to normal in time for Monday’s big reveal of bracketnomics.

Until then, here are the updated ratings of the Major Conference Teams still alive in their respective tournaments.

Team           Red      White      Blue
Arizona        118        120        119
Arkansas     109        110        110
Auburn          91        101          94
Baylor          110       113         114
Duke           117        118         118
Florida        106        108         107
G’town        110        112         111
Georgia      108        109         108
Indiana       105        108         104
Iowa St.      111        116         111
Kansas       114        114         112
Kentucky    123        121         125
LSU            105        109         106
Maryland    110        109         111
Michigan    100        105         101
Mich. St.     112        111         114
N.Carolina  112        114         114
N. Dame     111        113         110
Ohio St.      113        112         113
Oklahoma  112         115         113
Oregon      107         109         109
Penn St.      98         104           99
Providence 106        110         105
Purdue       106        107         107
S. Carolina 102        106         103
Tennessee  98         104           99
UCLA         106        108         107
Utah          114         114         113
Villanova   118         119         116
Virginia     119         116          117
Wisconsin 119         117         118
Xavier       108         111         107

Bracketology Update

Yesterday, the bubble was re-arranged with Texas, Texas A&M, Old Dominion, Miami, Ole Miss, Illinois, and Stanford winning.  Luckily, for these teams making quick exits from their conference tournaments, very few surprise teams have emerged to possibly steal bids away from the bubblers.

Of the remaining teams in the Power conferences, only four teams really pose a threat to the bubble  In the Big Ten, Penn State is in the quarterfinals after posting an upset over Iowa.  In the SEC, Auburn, Tennessee, and South Carolina are still alive.  Realistically, we see no chance that any of these four will pull off major surprises with Wisconsin and Kentucky in their way.

Let’s take a look at how our two dozen plus experts see the bubble teams.

Last 4 In with Byes

Boise St. Purdue, Davidson, and Indiana

Last 4 In and must play in Dayton

Colorado St., Ole Miss, BYU, and Tulsa

First 4 Out looking at #1 Seeds in the NIT

Temple, UCLA, Miami, and Illinois

NIT for sure

Richmond, Texas A&M, Old Dominion, and Stanford

Note–Temple, Tulsa, Richmond, Boise St., Colorado St., Purdue, Davidson, UCLA, and Temple are still alive in their conference tournaments, so this bubble will change shape again in the next few days.  Due to computer issues, we will not be able to update again until Monday after the field is announced.

For the NCAA Tournament, we will have the Red, White, and Blue Ratings in addition to the tried and true PiRate Bracketnomics Report with the exclusive R+T ratings that have weeded out pretenders and isolated dark horses in the past 12 seasons.

Can anybody upend Kentucky?  If so, we will tell you which teams have the resume to do it.

February 27, 2015

Experimental Basketball Ratings for February 28 & March 1, 2015

As the college basketball regular season enters its final two weeks, the marathon NCAA Tournament dash enters its final miles.  In this race, the winner has basically lapped the field, as Kentucky appears to be headed to an undefeated regular season.

In this 5-month competition, it’s the teams that finish between number 58 and number 78 that create all the excitement.  For 20 conferences, there is no guessing to be made.  The winners of their conference tournaments will be the only teams receiving dance invitations.  The Ivy League champion will receive a the conference’s lone bid as well, making it 21 guaranteed teams.

When you add teams like Kentucky, Virginia, Duke, Wisconsin, and all the other teams that already have resumes worthy of dancing, it really leaves about 15 spots at most to be filled by at-large teams.  This amount will drop some as unexpected teams win conference tournaments in leagues where more than one team will receive a bid.  For instance, if somebody other than Northern Iowa or Wichita St. wins Arch Madness in the Missouri Valley Conference, the league will receive three bids instead of two.

Here are the Bubble teams as of today.  They are listed in order of strongest to weakest according to our bracketology experts.  The dandy two dozen plus experts will submit their formal new list to me late Sunday night, and I will post the updated bracketology on Monday afternoon.

Last 16 In the Field
53 Ole Miss
54 Iowa
55 St. John’s
56 Dayton
57 Georgia
58 LSU
59 N. C. St.
60 Texas A&M
61 Colorado St.
62 Temple
63 Cincinnati
64 Texas
65 Stanford
66 Purdue
67 Oregon
68 Illinois
Out For Now
69 Tulsa
71 Pittsburgh
72 Davidson
73 Boise St.
74 BYU
75 Miami (FL.)
76 Old Dominion
77 U Mass
78 Rhode Island

Now for this weekend’s key games involving top 25 teams as well as teams from the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC.

Our PiRate Red and White Ratings continue to top 76% accuracy, while our Blue Ratings are lagging behind at 71%+.   For those not aware of how we computer our experimental ratings, we use the “Four Factors” popularized by Dean Oliver and others and then create three separate algorithms to come up with raw ratings.  We then adjust these ratings for home and road teams as well as for strength of schedule to come up with a margin.  The actual margins are Figured to 4 decimal places, but we round it to the nearest whole number.  If the nearest whole number is 0, we round it to 1 in the favored teams’ direction, even if the margin is .0001.

Home Visitor Red White Blue
Louisville Florida St. 16 13 10
Michigan Maryland -5 -1 2
Dayton VCU 1 2 1
Butler DePaul 19 14 13
Villanova Xavier 13 11 10
Miami (FL) North Carolina -5 -4 1
Oklahoma TCU 12 11 13
Wichita St. Northern Iowa 4 5 5
Kentucky Arkansas 18 16 14
Baylor West Virginia 5 6 5
Kansas St. Iowa St. -9 -6 -5
Virginia Virginia Tech 29 21 24
Kansas Texas 11 9 10
Duke Syracuse 16 15 14
San Diego St. Boise St. 8 5 6
Utah Arizona -3 1 1
Gonzaga BYU 15 11 12
Boston College N. C. St. -11 -5 -6
Clemson Georgia Tech -1 2 2
Penn St. Iowa -9 -4 -3
Illinois Northwestern 8 6 9
Georgia Missouri 21 14 19
LSU Ole Miss 2 4 -1
Vanderbilt Alabama 3 4 3
South Carolina Mississippi St. 8 9 7
Florida Tennessee 7 8 4
Texas A&M Auburn 15 12 14
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Connecticut SMU -5 -1 -2
Providence Marquette 12 10 10
Wisconsin Michigan St. 9 9 7
Wake Forest Pittsburgh -1 1 3
Ohio St. Purdue 8 9 10
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