The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 19, 2011

Saturday’s NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

All Times EDT

Number in (Parentheses) indicates PiRate Criteria Rating

For a detailed explanation of the PiRate Criteria Rating, click on the following link:

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/bracketnomics-505-2011-edition/

 

12:15 PM on CBS

Kentucky (14) vs. West Virginia (6)

The Wildcats seek revenge today for their regional final exit of last year.  This Kentucky team has what last year’s team lacked—consistent outside shooting to complement their more than decent dribble-drive.  While not as talented, Coach John Calipari’s squad is more complete this year.  The Blue Misters are jelling at the right time, and we believe they will advance to the Sweet 16.

 

West Virginia is not as dominating inside as they were last year, and they might be a little to slow and methodical to compete against the quicker Wildcats.  Coach Bob Huggins will have a great gameplan ready, and we believe the Mountaineers will keep it close.

 

We see this as a game of spurts.  Kentucky will enjoy one spurt in both halves, and WVU will attempt to creep back in the game both times.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 74  West Virginia 67

 

2:40 PM on CBS

Florida (15) vs. U C L A (-3)

The PiRate Criteria rates this game a giant mismatch, and we see no reason why not to agree. This would be a great game if all the former Bruins now playing in the NBA would have used their four years of eligibility.  However, this is more like the old Brubabes when schools fielded Freshmen and later Junior Varsity teams.  This UCLA team is better than Florida’s second team.  The Gators’ best players are still around, while UCLA’s best senior is the star of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

 

Florida has a large quickness advantage, and they will win the hustle points.  This one should be out of hand by halftime or five minutes into the second half.

 

Prediction: Florida 75  U C L A 62

 

5:15 PM on CBS

Morehead State (3) vs. Richmond (2)

This game will be one of the more interesting contests in the Round of 32.  Morehead State is an aggressive take-it-to-the-hoop and score or pass back for a three team.  The Racers have the closest thing to Elvin Hayes on their roster.  Kenneth Faried is much better than Dennis Rodman, but he is much thinner than Wes Unseld, and he has a better offensive game than both of those historically fantastic rebounders.  Faried can take it to the hoop, and he can pull up and fire from the foul line area, much like the great Hayes used to do with Houston and in the NBA.

 

Richmond will try to make this a game of the smart beating the strong, because the Spiders do not have much of an answer for Faried inside.  However, they enjoy a huge advantage on the perimeter.

 

This game will come down to this easy pointer: whichever team performs better at their strength and defends the other’s strength will win.  We think this one could end on a buzzer beater or go to overtime, but we will go with the chalk and take the higher PiRate score.

 

By the way, the last time an Ohio Valley Conference team advanced to the Sweet 16, it was Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers left the OVC more than two decades ago.

 

Prediction: Morehead State 64  Richmond 62

 

6:10 PM on TNT

San Diego State (19) vs. Temple (5)

If our criteria rating is going to be accurate this season, then we need to see the Aztecs play much better today than they did in a lackluster opening round win over Northern Colorado.  If San Diego State is firing on all cylinders, Temple has little or no chance in this game.

 

This Owl team is not quick enough or strong enough to battle this Aztec team if SDSU is playing just an average game.  If the Aztecs come out flat, Coach Fran Dunphy’s Owls could keep it close for 40 minutes and even be in striking distance.

 

Steve Fisher has been to the Final Four three times, and he knows how to prepare a team in tournament play.  He has enough talent to get there again, and we believe SDSU will play much better today against a much better opponent than Northern Colorado.  Remember this: Temple ran Duke of the Palestra floor less a month ago.  They have enough talent to win this game, but we do not see it happening.

 

Prediction: San Diego State 72  Temple 62

 

7:10 PM on TBS

Pittsburgh (18) vs. Butler (7)

We know better than to count out a team coached by Brad Stevens.  However, Butler’s bubble is going to burst today.

 

Pittsburgh is just too talented to lose this game, even if Coach Jamie Dixon sometimes loses control of that talent.  The Panthers know what Butler can do, and they will be fired up for this game just as much as if they were playing Ohio State, Duke, or Kansas.

 

Butler is playing its best ball at the right time, but they are plainly outmanned against a superior team.  We expect the Bulldogs to keep it close and still have a chance with 10 minutes to go, but the Panthers will wear them down and pull away to what looks like an easier win than it was.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 71  Butler 59

 

7:45 PM on CBS

B Y U (18) vs. Gonzaga (13)

When you penalize BYU for the loss of Brandon Davies, their criteria score drops by about five points.  This ironically makes this game a complete tossup.

 

Jimmer Fredette may be able to score 40-50 points in this game, but Gonzaga could place five players in double figures.  We tend to like the odds of five scorers outscoring one.

 

Coach Mark Few deserves high accolades for turning this Bulldog team around in midseason.  The Zags appeared to be NIT-bound, before they turned it up a notch and began playing the best basketball seen in Spokane since the days of Adam Morrison.

 

We believe Gonzaga is Sweet 16-bound, and we would not be surprised if they give Florida a great game in a potential matchup.

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 84  B Y U 75

 

8:40 PM on TNT

Kansas State (9) vs. Wisconsin (7)

This one is the other great game of the day.  How about Jacob Pullen versus Jordan Taylor, and Jon Leuer versus Curtis Kelly?  If you like great player matchups, then this is the game of the day for you.

 

Kansas State is a tad stronger on the perimeter and a tad quicker, while Wisconsin is a tad stronger inside.  We expect the tempo to be controlled by the Badgers, so the score will be one of the lowest of the day, if not the lowest.

 

We have no real favorite in this game, so we will stick with the PiRate Criteria scores.  Two points is not much; it equates to about a 55% chance of the favorite winning.

 

Prediction: Kansas State 59  Wisconsin 55

 

9:40 PM on TBS

Connecticut (9) vs. Cincinnati (9)

Here we have our first game between teams from the same conference and teams that have already played against each other.  In their lone regular season contest in Cincinnati, the Huskies won on the road by eight points. 

 

Both teams play tenacious defense and rely on just a couple of players to lead on offense.  They know each other well, so it should be a high-spirited, tightly-fought game with a lot of excellent defensive possessions sprinkled with the occasional great offensive play.

 

Cincinnati will concentrate their efforts on stopping Kemba Walker, while the Huskies will try to keep the ball away from Yancy Gates and Dion Dixon.

 

This is the other game that could come down to a buzzer-beater, but we have a sneaky suspicion that Connecticut is about to explode and play like Husky teams of the past.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 69  Cincinnati 59

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March 26, 2010

A PiRate Preview of Saturday’s Regional Final Games

 

Saturday’s Regional Finals

Advanced Level Bracketnomics

 

Thursday night’s regional semifinal games proved that the PiRate NCAA Tournament formula is based on sound principles.  The teams that earned the most scoring opportunities won the games, even though they didn’t all shoot better from the field or at the charity stripe.

By more scoring opportunities, we refer to the team that fares better in controlling the boards and in turnovers.  As we have previously stated, a turnover created is worth a little more than a rebound, and a steal is worth more than any other turnover.

Butler stole the ball 13 times and ended with a +11 turnover margin against Syracuse.  The Orangemen won the battle of the boards by six, but that left the Bulldogs with a huge R+T advantage.

West Virginia dominated Washington on the glass, winning the rebounding margin by 16.  They won the turnover battle in almost a wash, and when a team has a +16 rebounding advantage with equalization in turnovers, they win about 98% of the time.

Kansas State and Xavier played possibly the best game in the entire tournament so far.  The Wildcats were outrebounded by two but had a +4 turnover margin.  They only picked up four steals, so they enjoyed only a marginal scoring opportunity advantage.  Thus, you had a terrific, nail-biter.

Kentucky dominated Cornell in the R+T rating, and the Wildcats proved that 3-point and free throw shooting isn’t as important as number of scoring opportunities when you make it this far.  UK made just 2 of 16 from behind the arc and hit just 16 of 26 from the foul line.

Here is the PiRate preview for Saturday’s two regional final games.  We will preview Sunday’s games tomorrow.

East Regional

 

#1 Kentucky (29.22) vs. #2 West Virginia (29.08)

Look at those criteria scores.  14/100’s of a point converts to less than a one-point edge for the Wildcats.

Yes friends, this is going to be a great game between teams that should be playing each other every year. 

We see three keys to this game.  First, will West Virginia be able to get the ball inside against Kentucky’s inside defenders and force fouls from DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton?  Second, will Kentucky’s perimeter shooters, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and even big man Patrick Patterson, be able to force WVU to play honest defense and lesson their ability to cheat inside?  Third, and maybe most importantly, will West Virginia’s forwards, Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, and Devin Ebanks be able to match Cousins, Orton, and Patterson on the glass?

Kentucky had been hitting well from outside prior to the Cornell game.  They got the open shots and couldn’t sink them.  If they repeat that performance, Wall, Cousins, Patterson, and Bledsoe may be multi-millionaires before they take another shot in an official game.

West Virginia is used to winning games where they shoot around 40%.  Kentucky has done it too.  This game is going to come down to the inside muscle game.  The team with the most offensive put backs is going to win.  If Cousins stays out of foul trouble, he will see to it that the blue and white win that battle.

We expect WVU to slow down the pace and attack inside-out.  60 points could be enough to win it; we believe the Blue Mist will have one second-half spurt to sew this game up.

Prediction: Kentucky 62  West Virginia 55

 

 

West Regional

 

#2 Kansas State (31.21) vs. #5 Butler (19.35)

Kansas State just barely survived and advanced Thursday night, and they could be in line to bounce somewhat.  Butler is in the same situation; they had a draining game with Syracuse.  We look for this one to be sloppy and low-scoring with defense being at a premium.

It’s hard to pick against a team that last lost prior to Christmas and plays about as well as a team as the best Indiana teams under Bob Knight.

There are a couple of important keys in this game.  The only way Butler can win is to force more turnovers again like they did against Syracuse.  Kansas State will make their share of mistakes, but they make a lot of them in the commission of trying to run and get easy baskets.  We don’t think the Bulldogs will get to exploit this part of the game.

The other key is the Kansas State inside game.  KSU has too many horses inside for BU.  The Bulldogs will wear down inside against the Wildcats quartet of big men.  Jamar Samuels, Curtis Kelly, Dominique Sutton, and Luis Colon will combine for about 100 minutes of playing time in this game, and they will combine for 25 rebounds or more.  Butler just doesn’t have enough inside to match that.  Post man Matt Howard is foul prone, and he is likely to miss a good chunk of this game trying to prevent KSU’s big men from getting offensive rebounds and second chance points.

What’s tough here is that Kansas State’s top scorers are their two perimeter stars.  Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente usually combine for 35 points per game, and if they top 30 in this game, the Wildcats will be headed to the Final Four for the first time since Tex Winter and his triple post (since renamed triangle) offense knocked off defending national champion Texas Western and Wichita State to advance against undefeated UCLA in 1964.

Prediction: Kansas State 64  Butler 54

 

Check back with us Saturday afternoon for a preview of Sunday’s Elite 8 South and Midwest Regional Final games.

 

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