The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 14, 2021

Sunday Morning Bracketology

Preliminary to Final Prediction

The PiRates have been busy these last 12 hours rearranging the seed lines and replacing unfortunate at-large teams that were bumped twice yesterday, as Georgetown and Oregon State crashed the Dance party with impressive wins.

Five games remain to be played before the regular season comes to an end, and all five games could affect the final seed lines:

In the first game today, if Colgate beats Loyola of Maryland, the Raiders could move up one line, but the bigger possibility is the movement of more than a dozen seeds if Loyola pulls the upset. Colgate figures to be a 13 or 14 seed, but Loyola would be a 16 seed with a win. Colgate is somewhat of another issue, because the Raiders are a Top 10 team according to the NET Ratings, but they did so by facing no serious competition from top 100 teams. We believe the Committee will overrule their own criteria and send Colgate down the seed line.

In game two, St. Bonaventure faces VCU for the Atlantic 10 Championship. We believe both teams are locks to get into the Dance, but the winner and loser could be one seed apart. Or, the Committee might decide that this game doesn’t really matter and keep the two teams where they have them today. This is highly likely, and we are using that belief in our second to last seeding prediction. The Committee will be faced with an afternoon headache, where many teams will have to be shifted to accommodate a potential bid-thief. In fact, they will have two different brackets and keep one depending on what happens later in the day.

LSU and Alabama face off in what brings up memories of the Game of the Year in football, but this is the SEC Basketball Championship Game. Alabama has a sliver of hope to move to the 1-seed line with an impressive win and an Illinois loss in the Big Ten, but we believe they are probably locked in at the 2-seed line. However, should LSU pull off the upset, the Tigers might move up one line and knock somebody back a line.

The big mover and shaker game is the American Athletic Conference Championship Game this afternoon. Cincinnati could steal a bid away with an upset of Houston, and at the same time knock the Cougars down a spot in the seedings. If Houston wins, then everything is copacetic.

Because it will be the last game of the day, and both teams are rather secure in their destinies, we believe the Big Ten Conference Championship Game will be meaningless toward the final seedings. Illinois has done the work to earn a 1-seed, while Ohio State has worked their way back to a 2-seed. The Committee will not have time to alter their brackets at this point, so they will choose to ignore this game.

The important news then is who are the teams on the Bubble? Rather than announce 68 teams like in other years, the Committee will announce 72 teams, the regular 68 plus four alternates in case teams like Virginia and Kansas cannot field rosters for the tournament.

As we see it this morning, Drake is the last team in the field, currently an 11-seed looking at a First Four game against possibly UCLA. Should Cincinnati upset Houston today, the Bearcats would be looking at a 12 or 13-seed, and Drake would be dropped to the alternate pool, while Boise St. or Saint Louis would be dropped from the alternate pool to the NIT. Other teams just on the thin line include Utah State and Syracuse, two teams we show in the First Four, and Wichita State and Colorado State, two teams we show in the alternate list.

The First Four seedings moved from 12 to 11 last night when Georgetown and Oregon State kicked through the Dance hall door. The Hoyas and Beavers cannot be 11 seeds. We slotted them both on the 12-seed line, but we are not totally convinced yet that they will remain there. Doing a little research, the last time a power conference team with a similar record crashed the party like this, Georgia earned a 14-seed. Because teams like Colgate, Winthrop, UNCG, and UCSB are capable of moving up a line, there is a chance for chaos if Cincinnati wins today, because the Bearcats are not deserving of a 12-seed and maybe not even a 13-seed.

Here is how our field looks this morning with Cincinnati not in the Tournament.

Date3/14/2021Morning Edition
2Ohio St.AlabamaIowaHouston
3Oklahoma St.ArkansasKansasTexas
4West VirginiaPurdueFlorida St.Virginia
6ColoradoTexas TechLSUMissouri
8ClemsonSan Diego St.WisconsinFlorida
9Virginia TechLoyola (Chi.)RutgersNorth Carolina
10Georgia TechSt. BonaventureMarylandVCU
11LouisvilleMichigan St.UCLASyracuseUtah St.Drake
12Oregon St.GeorgetownUCSBWinthrop
13Ohio ULibertyUNCGNorth Texas
14ColgateMorehead St.Abilene ChristianE. Washington
15Cleveland St.DrexelGrand CanyonIona
16Oral RobertsHartfordNorfolk St.Mount St. Mary’sTexas SouthernAppalachian St.

Four Alternates

69Wichita St.
70Colorado St.
71Saint Louis
72Boise St.

Note: We have already begun putting our

Bracketnomics Data into a spreadsheet, and we will

have it completed late tonight. We will then spend

Monday looking at the data and be ready to reveal

our opinions on the field on Tuesday. Look for our

annually most read post to publish

Tuesday afternoon, approximately 3 PM Eastern

Daylight Time, giving you plenty of time to read and

then fill out the brackets in your competitions.

March 8, 2021

PiRate Ratings Bracketology

2Ohio St.AlabamaIowaWest Virginia
4PurdueTexasOklahoma St.Florida St.
5VirginiaTexas TechUSCTennessee
8BYULSUVirginia TechConnecticut
9RutgersSan Diego St.Loyola (Chi.)North Carolina
10MarylandSt. BonaventureUCLALouisville
11Georgia TechMichigan St.VCUColorado St.
12Western Ky.ToledoBoise St.DrakeWichita St.Xavier
14UNCGS. Dakota St.Morehead St.Abilene Chr.
15E. WashingtonGeorgia St.SienaCleveland St.
16NortheasternBryantGrand CanyonHartfordNorfolk St.Prairie View A&M

Teams in Bold have secured automatic bids

The Bad Side of the Bubble

69Ole Miss
71Utah St.
72Saint Louis
73Seton Hall
75St. John’s
76North Carolina St.

Bracketnomics Tutorial Release Coming This Week!

Until recently, when our breakthrough Sabertooth Baseball Game went viral due to a Facebook post that we still do not know who the benevolent benefactor of great news is, our most popular annual activity here on the PiRate Ratings has been “Bracketnomics.”

For years, we have used technical statistics and other data to isolate the real March Madness contenders from the pretenders and to eliminate certain higher seeds due to their possessing “uh-oh” stats that show them ripe for a quick upset.

We were all set to debut our latest evolution of Bracketnomics last year, until Covidnomics defeated all sports in March of 2020. It gave us extra time to scour our resources and to look for more trends, in addition to the tried and true methods we have used for years.

Coming Friday, we will release our Bracketnomics 2021 Tutorial, so you can have the weekend to look it over and use the information the best way you know how. Please let the best way you know how be a method that involves no financial risk.

The PiRate Ratings personal creation of “R+T” Rating, schedule strength, and the Four Factors still hold considerable importance, but the handicapping of each data point has changed. Other sets of data added to the mix should let you clearly see which teams have the look of past national champions, Final Four participants, and even Cinderella Mid-Majors that might be ready to wear the slipper until there are just eight teams remaining.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard about our advanced analytics tabletop baseball game that went viral over the weekend, you can check it out at our sister site: and order a game at , or click the link in the WordPress site.

March 7, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Sunday, March 7, 2021

East CarolinaCincinnati-0.5
LibertyNorth Alabama14.3
BaylorTexas Tech9.4
Michigan St.Michigan-10.3
MarylandPenn St.2.3
James MadisonElon6.2
NortheasternWilliam & Mary8.7
North Carolina CentralSouth Carolina St.8.6
Loyola (Chi.)Drake4.6
Oregon St.Oregon-4.2
Georgia St.Louisiana3.8
Appalachian St.Coastal Carolina-3.8
UNCGEast Tennessee St.2.2
Oral RobertsNorth Dakota8.0
North Dakota St.Missouri-Kansas City4.4

Today’s Conference Tournament Action


Jacksonville, 2PM EST, ESPN

1 Liberty vs. 5 North Alabama

Liberty has already clinched an automatic bid , as UNA is ineligible due to their transition phase to Division 1


12 PM , ESPN

3 Campbell at 1 Winthrop

Colonial Athletic Quarterfinals

At James Madison in Harrisonburg, VA

1 James Madison vs. 8 Elon

4 Hofstra vs. 5 Delaware

2 Northeastern vs. 7 William & Mary

3 College of Charleston vs. 6 Drexel


Saint Louis, 2 PM EST, CBS

1 Loyola (Chi.) vs. 2 Drake

Southern Conference Semifinals

Asheville, NC

1 UNC-Greensboro vs. 5 East Tennessee St.

6 VMI vs. 7 Mercer

Summit League 2nd Half of Quarterfinals

at Sioux Falls, SD

4 Oral Roberts vs. 5 North Dakota

3 North Dakota St. vs. 6 Missouri-Kansas City

Sun Belt Conference Semifinals

at Pensacola, FL

1E Georgia St. vs. 2W Louisiana

2E Coastal Carolina vs. 4E Appalachian St.

Automatic Qualifiers

Liberty 22-5

Morehead St. 23-7

March 6, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Saturday, March 6, 2021

St. BonaventureSaint Louis0.3
Notre DameFlorida St.-6.7
North CarolinaDuke3.1
Wichita St.South Florida10.0
West VirginiaOklahoma St.4.3
Kansas St.Iowa St.1.4
St. John’sSeton Hall0.9
Montana St.Sacramento St.3.8
Weber St.Northern Colorado10.0
Portland St.Southern Utah-2.8
Ohio St.Illinois-1.7
UC DavisHawaii0.3
Cal St. NorthridgeUC-Riverside-10.2
Long Beach St.UC-Irvine-9.8
UC San DiegoCal St. Fullerton3.2
UCSBCal Poly22.6
Western KentuckyOld Dominion8.3
North TexasUAB6.4
William & MaryUNC-Wilmington-2.9
Delaware St.Morgan St.-11.3
Loyola (Chi.)Indiana St.10.8
DrakeMissouri St.3.9
Fresno St.Utah St.-10.5
BryantSacred Heart9.7
WagnerMount St. Mary’s3.4
BelmontMorehead St.4.8
UtahArizona St.2.8
NavyLoyola (MD)7.1
ColgateBoston U14.3
KentuckySouth Carolina6.4
AuburnMississippi St.2.8
ArkansasTexas A&M16.1
Ole MissVanderbilt5.8
Prairie ViewAlcorn St.9.9
Jackson St.Alabama St.12.6
Texas SouthernSouthern4.9
GramblingAlabama A&M5.7
UNCGThe Citadel9.7
ChattanoogaEast Tennessee St.-1.7
Northwestern St.Central Arkansas2.9
Abilene ChristianIncarnate Word19.5
McNeese St.Lamar-0.2
Houston BaptistTexas A&M-CC4.2
Sam Houston St.Stephen F. Austin1.6
New OrleansSoutheast Louisiana6.2
South Dakota St.Omaha16.2
South DakotaWestern Illinois10.3
LouisianaSouth Alabama2.6
Georgia St.Arkansas St.8.5
Coastal CarolinaTroy10.3
Texas St.Appalachian St.5.8
UT Rio Grande ValleyTarleton St.5.3
Dixie St.New Mexico St.-10.4
Grand CanyonUtah Valley8.3
California BaptistSeattle2.3
Saint Mary’sLoyola Marymount0.1
PepperdineSanta Clara3.2

Conference Tournament Update

Today’s Conference Tournament Games

America East Semifinals

6 U Mass-Lowell at 1 Maryland-Baltimore Co.

4 Hartford at 2 Vermont

Atlantic 10 Semifinals (Richmond)

1 St. Bonaventure vs. 4 Saint Louis

2 VCU vs. 3 Davidson

Colonial Athletic 1st Round (@ James Madison)

8 Elon vs. 9 Towson

7 William & Mary vs. 10 UNC-Wilmington

Missouri Valley Semifinals at Saint Louis

1 Loyola (Chi.) vs. 4 Indiana St.

2 Drake vs. 3 Missouri St.

Northeast Semifinals

4 Mount St. Mary’s at 1 Wagner

3 Sacred Heart at 2 Bryant

Ohio Valley Championship Game at Evansville

1 Belmont vs. 2 Morehead St. — 8 PM EST on ESPN2

Southern Quarterfinals at Asheville

1 UNC-Greensboro vs. 8 The Citadel

4 Chattanooga vs. 5 East Tennessee St.

2 Wofford vs. 7 Mercer

3 Furman vs. 6 VMI

Summit Quarterfinals 1st 2 Games at Sioux Falls

1 South Dakota St. vs. 8 Omaha

2 South Dakota vs. 7 Western Illinois

Sun Belt Quarterfinals at Pensacola

1E Georgia St. vs. 4W Arkansas St.

2W Louisiana vs. 3E South Alabama

1W Texas St. vs. 4E Appalachian St.

2E Coastal Carolina vs. 6E Troy

West Coast Quarterfinals at Las Vegas

4 Saint Mary’s vs. 5 Loyola Marymount

3 Pepperdine vs. 7 Santa Clara

Automatic Qualifiers

Liberty — Atlantic Sun 22-5

March 5, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Tournament Update

Friday, March 5, 2021 (Prior to start of A-10 Games today)

Atlantic Sun

Semifinals, Today

1 Liberty vs. 7 Stetson

5 North Alabama vs. 6 Florida Gulf Coast

Note: If North Alabama wins the tournament, Liberty is the automatic NCAA Tournament qualifier.

Atlantic 10

Quarterfinals, Today, Richmond, VA

1 St. Bonaventure vs. 9 Duquesne

4 Saint Louis vs. 5 Massachusetts

2 VCU vs. 7 Dayton

3 Davidson vs. George Mason

Big South

Championship Game, Sunday at Winthrop

1 Winthrop vs. 3 Campbell

Colonial Athletic

1st Round, Saturday at James Madison

8 Elon vs. 9 Towson

7 William & Mary vs. 10 UNC-Wilmington


Semifinals, Monday at Indianapolis

1 Cleveland St. vs. 8 Milwaukee

3 Oakland vs. 4 Northern Kentucky

Missouri Valley (Arch Madness)

Quarterfinals, Today, at Saint Louis

1 Loyola (Chi.) vs. 9 Southern Illinois

4 Indiana St. vs. 5 Evansville

2 Drake vs. 7 Northern Iowa

3 Missouri St. vs. 6 Valparaiso


Semifinals, Saturday at Higher Seed

1 Wagner vs. 4 Mount St. Mary’s

2 Bryant vs. 3 Sacred Heart

Ohio Valley

Semifinals, Friday at Evansville

1 Belmont vs. 4 Jacksonville St.

2 Morehead St. vs. 3 Eastern Kentucky


Quarterfinals, Saturday at Higher Seeds

1 Navy vs. Loyola (MD)

4 Army vs. 5 American

2 Colgate vs. 7 Boston U

3 Lafayette vs. 6 Bucknell


1st Round, Today at Asheville, NC

8 The Citadel vs. 9 Western Carolina

7 Mercer vs. 10 Samford


Quarterfinals, Saturday & Sunday, Sioux Falls, SD

1 South Dakota St. vs. 8 Omaha

4 Oral Roberts vs. 5 North Dakota

2 South Dakota vs. 7 Western Illinois

3 North Dakota St. vs. Kansas City

Sun Belt

1st Round, Today at Pensacola, FL

4W Arkansas St. vs. 5E Georgia Southern

3E South Alabama vs. 6W Louisiana-Monroe

4E Appalachian St. vs. 5W Little Rock

3W UT-Arlington vs. 6E Troy

West Coast

2nd Round, Today at Las Vegas

5 Loyola Marymount vs. 8 San Francisco

6 Pacific vs. 7 Santa Clara

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Friday, March 5, 2021

St. BonaventureDuquesne7.3
Saint LouisMassachusetts6.2
DavidsonGeorge Mason4.4
Miami (Fla.)Boston College0.4
Wake ForestGeorgia Tech-10.3
North AlabamaFlorida Gulf Coast-1.4
Montana St.Sacramento St.3.8
Eastern WashingtonIdaho State11.8
UC DavisHawaii0.3
Cal St. NorthridgeUC Riverside-10.2
Long Beach St.UC Irvine-9.8
UC San DiegoCal St. Fullerton3.2
UC Santa BarbaraCal Poly22.6
Florida AtlanticMiddle Tennessee9.1
Western KentuckyOld Dominion8.3
North TexasUAB6.4
QuinnipiacSaint Peter’s-2.0
Central MichiganNorthern Illinois7.1
BuffaloKent St.4.3
AkronMiami (O)5.8
ToledoBall St.9.7
Western MichiganEastern Michigan3.2
Delaware St.Morgan St-11.3
Loyola (Chi.)Southern Illinois16.3
Indiana St.Evansville6.1
DrakeNorthern Iowa9.7
Missouri St.Valparaiso7.8
NevadaColorado St.-2.0
BelmontJacksonville St.6.2
Morehead St.Eastern Kentucky1.9
Arkansas St.Georgia Southern1.5
South AlabamaLouisiana Monroe4.6
Appalachian St.Little Rock-0.1
UT ArlingtonTroy3.9
The CitadelWestern Carolina-0.5
Mississippi Valley St.Arkansas-Pine Bluff-10.3
UT Rio Grande ValleyTarleton5.3
Dixie St.New Mexico St.-10.4
Grand CanyonUtah Valley8.3
California BaptistSeattle2.3
Loyola MarymountSan Francisco-0.5
PacificSanta Clara2.9

February 21, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 12:00 am

Sunday, February 21, 2021

George WashingtonRhode Island-8.7
St. BonaventureDavidson4.1
TempleSouth Florida1.1
Ohio St.Michigan0.7
IowaPenn St.11.0
Southern IllinoisValparaiso0.3
San Jose St.UNLV-9.2
WagnerSt. Francis (Pa)6.6
ColgateBoston U14.1

Note: Big Announcement Coming Later Today!

February 19, 2021

PiRate Ratings Bracketology


1GonzagaBaylorMichiganOhio St.
3OklahomaVirginiaWest VirginiaHouston
4Florida St.USCTexasTexas Tech
5KansasVirginia TechTennesseeCreighton
7RutgersColoradoBYUOklahoma St.
9OregonUCLASan Diego St.Indiana
10Boise St.Loyola (Chi.)North CarolinaSeton Hall
11MinnesotaColorado St.DrakeVCU
12BelmontWestern Ky.StanfordSt. BonaventureConnecticutSaint Louis
14Wright St.S.F. AustinLibertyUNCG
15VermontS. Dakota St.SienaGrand Canyon
16James MadisonE. WashingtonTexas St.WagnerPrairie ViewN.C. A&T

Last 4 Byes: Seton Hall, Minnesota, Colorado St., Drake

Last 4 In: Stanford, St. Bonaventure, Connecticut, Saint Louis

First 4 Out: Xavier, Maryland, Wichita St., St. John’s

Next 4 Out: Utah St., Ole Miss, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Note: After careful perusal of the mock top four seeds released a week ago, we have discovered some new tendencies that the Committee gave more weight to than they usually do when there is a lot more interconference play. Thus, expect our bracketology to change a little next week showing seeds in somewhat different order from what they are this week. For instance, we believe that a team like Colgate may be drastically underrated, while a team like 23-1 Belmont may be overrated a bit even after winning their 20th consecutive game last night.

January 19, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 19, 2020

Division 1 Basketball Games on Sunday








Chicago State

Cal St. Bakersfield



East Carolina





Illinois State

Loyola (Chi.)











North Dakota State

North Dakota





South Dakota

South Dakota State


Southern Illinois







Grand Canyon


Wake Forest

Boston College


March 21, 2008

A PiRate Look At The 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament–March 22, 2008 (3rd Update)


A PiRate Look At The 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament

March 22, 2008 (3rd Update)

Thursday almost brought one major surprise when Duke escaped with a one-point win over Belmont.  Most of the other Thursday games were a little ho-hum.  The PiRate Criteria Rating was 15-1 on the day, losing only on the Texas A&M and BYU game, a game I said was the most competitive of the day.  Additionally, I predicted that UCLA would set a record for fewest points allowed in the modern day NCAA Tournament; they did just that by holding the weakest team in the tournament, Mississippi Valley State, to just 29 points.

Friday was the day that ruined brackets all over America.  The four lower seeds in Tampa all upset the four higher seeds.  While I didn’t do as well Friday (9-7) as I did Thursday, my big teams all advanced and are still alive.  That’s what this criteria looks to accomplish-find the teams that have what it takes to get to San Antonio.

Now, we’re down to 32 and by Sunday night, the Sweet 16 will be all that’s left.  Let’s take a look at the PiRate Criteria as it applied to the second round.  Due to time constraints, I will be using statistics that do not reflect the first round tournament games.

East Region

#1 North Carolina (33-2)

Scoring Margin: 16.9

FG% Margin: 6.2

Rebound Margin: 11.6

TO Margin: 1.9

Steals: 8.5

R + T: 15.48

PiRate: 15

SOS: .5921

#9 Arkansas (23-11)

Scoring Margin: 6.6

FG% Margin: 4.9

Rebound Margin: 4.5

TO Margin: -0.3

Steals: 7.0

R + T: 4.0

PiRate: 0

SOS: .5701

North Carolina has too much inside game for Steve Hill to stop and too much outside game for the Razorbacks to sag in the lane.  The Tar Heels will be on cruise control as they waltz to the Sweet 16.  Adding an extra few points for home state (cross town) advantage, you come up with another double digit win for the Tar Heels.

Prediction: North Carolina by 14

#5 Notre Dame (25-7)

Scoring Margin: 10.1

FG% Margin: 4.7

Rebound Margin: 5.8

TO Margin: -0.4

Steals: 6.4

R + T: 5.19

PiRate: 7

SOS: .5414

#4 Washington State (25-8)

Scoring Margin: 10.0

FG% Margin: 5.6

Rebound Margin: 0.1

TO Margin: 3.0

Steals: 6.3

R + T: 4.64

PiRate: 9

SOS: .5613

The best of the rest in the Big East meets the best of the rest in the Pac-10.  This game is obviously a tossup, as the criteria indicates.  Washington State has a slight edge in the final numbers, and they have extra impetus here to make up for what they thought was a blown chance in the second round last year.

While something in my gut says the Irish are going to win, my criteria forces me to go with Washington State in a close ball game.

Prediction: Washington State by 4

#6 Oklahoma (23-11)

Scoring Margin: 5.0

FG% Margin: 3.6

Rebound Margin: 3.0

TO Margin: 0.4

Steals: 6.6

R + T: 3.63

PiRate: 2

SOS: .5753

#3 Louisville (25-8)

Scoring Margin: 10.6

FG% Margin: 7.0

Rebound Margin: 3.0

TO Margin: 1.2

Steals: 8.1

R + T: 5.33

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5852

The Big 12 and the Big East have enjoyed early success in the Big Dance this year, and now representatives from both conferences face off in this game.

Oklahoma was quite impressive in their win over St. Joe’s, while Louisville had little more than a workout against Boise State.  Rick Pitino certainly knows how to prepare his team in the NCAA Tournament, and I expect his Cardinals to move on to the Sweet 16.

Prediction: Louisville by 8

#7 Butler (30-3)

Scoring Margin: 10.5

FG% Margin: 2.1

Rebound Margin: -1.1

TO Margin: 3.6

Steals: 6.3

R + T: 4.34

PiRate: 6

SOS: .5181

# 2 Tennessee (30-4)

Scoring Margin: 12.9

FG% Margin: 2.9

Rebound Margin: 1.2

TO Margin: 5.4

Steals: 9.3

R + T: 13.25

PiRate: 13

SOS: .6063

Butler will not be intimidated by the Vols.  The Bulldogs clobbered Tennessee last year in the semifinals of the Pre-season NIT.

Tennessee has not played its best ball in the last couple of weeks.  It could be the Vols have players hitting the wall as they prepare to play their full-court pressing, fast breaking style of play in game 35.

Butler cannot really take advantage of Tennessee’s lone weakness.  The Bulldogs don’t rebound the ball with enough authority to dominate the glass in this game, and I think second chance points could be a major factor in this game.

Prediction: Tennessee by 7

Midwest Region

#1 Kansas (32-3)

Scoring Margin: 19.9

FG% Margin: 12.3

Rebound Margin: 7.9

TO Margin: 3.0

Steals: 9.0

R + T: 14.38

PiRate: 21

SOS: .5594

#8 UNLV (27-7)

Scoring Margin: 8.0

FG% Margin: 1.6

Rebound Margin: -1.6

TO Margin: 4.3

Steals: 7.9

R + T: 6.55

PiRate: 5

SOS: .5496

The Jayhawks are solid at every position and in every phase of the game.  UNLV will not be able to keep the rebounding statistics close to even.  I expect KU to win the battle of the boards by five to 10.  The Runnin’ Rebels will have a hard time scoring consistently without some form of transition game, while Kansas should pick up 10-15 points thanks to their fast break and early offense.  The Big 12 is showing itself to be maybe the best conference so far, and I am selecting the Jayhawks to win with relative ease.

Prediction: Kansas by 15

#12 Villanova (21-12)

Scoring Margin: 3.5

FG% Margin: -0.9

Rebound Margin: 2.7

TO Margin: 2.4

Steals: 8.1

R + T: 7.37

PiRate: -1

SOS: .5586

#13 Siena (23-10)

Scoring Margin: 5.7

FG% Margin: 0.0

Rebound Margin: -4.5

TO Margin: 6.3

Steals: 9.4

R + T: 9.71

PiRate: 5

SOS: .5218

Villanova may have been the final at-large team in the field, but they proved their worth by coming back from an 18-point deficit to beat the team that took North Carolina to the wire last weekend.  Now, the Wildcats find themselves as the sole remaining team from the City of Brotherly Love.  Their win gave the Big East a 7-1 mark in the first round.

Siena did not upset Vanderbilt; they won by 21, and that’s no upset.  It’s plain to see that experts all over the nation, including Seth Davis, called this one correctly.  The Saints went marching all over the Commodores.  Now, they aim for a berth in the Sweet 16, and they match up well with Villanova.  The Wildcats extended themselves in their come-from-behind win, and they should bounce a little on Sunday.

Siena’s quickness just may be enough to advance the Saints into the third round.  I expect an even better scoring performance by Siena’s big three scorers, and I expect Coach Fran McCaffery’s cagers to steal the ball enough times to get some cheap baskets in the stretch.

Prediction: Siena by 4

#11 Kansas State (21-11)

Scoring Margin: 9.8

FG% Margin: 2.1

Rebound Margin: 8.1

TO Margin: 1.3

Steals: 7.7

R + T: 10.5

PiRate: 11

SOS: .5697

#3 Wisconsin (30-4)

Scoring Margin: 13.5

FG% Margin: 7.0

Rebound Margin: 5.7

TO Margin: 4.8

Steals: 6.3

R + T: 12.96

PiRate: 17

SOS: .5518

This should be an interesting game worth watching.  Kansas State didn’t have its best effort and still looked amazing against Southern Cal.  The Wildcats can play even better than that, especially when Michael Beasley doesn’t get in quick foul trouble.  I don’t expect the men from the Little Apple to commit as many fouls in this game.

Wisconsin keeps winning like they are a push-button, mechanical team.  They play at a rather consistent pace and just don’t lose because of their actions; you have to beat them with superior talent and strategy, because this team is as fundamentally sound as a team can be.

I believe Coach Ryan will devise a game plan that slows down Beasley and forces Bill Walker out of his comfort zone.  At the same time, I expect K-State’s defense to shut down Wisconsin for long stretches and make the Badgers look human.  In the end, I’ll go with the Badgers to recover and score just enough points to win.  Look for a score in the neighborhood of 60-55.  If Wisconsin goes into a long drought in the second half, then KSU will take a commanding lead and hold on for the upset.  It wouldn’t be that much of an upset, because the Wildcats should have been seeded in the upper half of the brackets.

Prediction: Wisconsin by an iffy 5

#10 Davidson (27-6)

Scoring Margin: 15.8

FG% Margin: 5.8

Rebound Margin: 4.3

TO Margin: 4.6

Steals: 8.1

R + T: 13.24

PiRate: 15

SOS: .5252

#2 Georgetown (28-5)

Scoring Margin: 11.7

FG% Margin: 11.9

Rebound Margin: 2.6

TO Margin: -0.4

Steals: 7.1

R + T: 1.92

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5670

The criteria shows that Davidson has a real chance in this game.  The Wildcats came from behind in a hard-fought game to knock off Gonzaga, while Georgetown played a so-so game against a team that is virtually the same as an in-state opponent.

I expect Stephen Curry’s shooting percentage to go south, while Georgetown performs up to standards.  I just don’t see the Wildcats having enough inside to win, but they had stretches this year in their games against North Carolina and UCLA where they handled themselves on the boards against even better inside teams.

I won’t totally discount Davidson, especially since the criteria says they will win.  I’ll stick with the #2-seed to get by on defense and rebounding to pull out a win in a rough game.

Prediction: Georgetown by 8

South Region

#1 Memphis (34-1)

Scoring Margin: 19.1

FG% Margin: 8.3

Rebound Margin: 6.5

TO Margin: 4.4

Steals: 8.7

R + T: 15.69

PiRate: 19

SOS: .5749

#8 Mississippi State (23-10)

Scoring Margin: 8.0

FG% Margin: 9.3

Rebound Margin: 5.1

TO Margin: -2.6

Steals: 6.0

R + T: 1.36

PiRate: 7

SOS: .5523

This game will be physical and could get ugly.  This is a backyard brawl between two schools that have rivalries in more than one sport.  Mississippi State doesn’t have the ball handlers to break Memphis’s press and score in transition.  That will allow the Tigers to gamble a little on their press and force a few more turnovers.

Mississippi State will intimidate the Tigers in the paint and force Memphis’s big men to alter their shots.  It will give the Bulldogs a fighting chance in this game.

All year, I have wondered if Memphis has been seasoned enough.  However, upon looking at their strength of schedule, those fears have been unfounded.  Look for the top seed to advance.

Prediction: Memphis by 9

#5 Michigan State (26-8)

Scoring Margin: 9.3

FG% Margin: 7.9

Rebound Margin: 7.1

TO Margin: -1.2

Steals: 6.1

R + T: 5.34

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5636

#4 Pittsburgh (27-9)

Scoring Margin: 8.9

FG% Margin: 3.8

Rebound Margin: 4.4

TO Margin: 1.9

Steals: 6.8

R + T: 7.50

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5723

This will be the equivalent of the Bears and Packers playing football in the 1930’s.  Both of these teams can play muscle basketball with the best of them.  The criteria calls this one a 50-50 proposition, so I have to vote to break the tie.  I’m going with Pittsburgh for two reasons.  First, they are playing their best ball of the season and are riding a nice winning streak.  Second, Michigan State has a habit of occasionally going into a funk on offense. 

The Panthers will make it hard for Drew Neitzel to get many open looks from outside, and it will take an epic performance by Raymar Morgan to counter it.  I expect Pitt’s great depth in the frontcourt will eventually wear down the Spartans inside.

Prediction: Pittsburgh by 7

#6 Marquette (25-9)

Scoring Margin:  11.5

FG% Margin: 3.5

Rebound Margin: 2.4

TO Margin: 3.8

Steals: 9.6

R + T: 11.16

PiRate: 13

SOS: .5753

#3 Stanford (27-7)

Scoring Margin:  10.1

FG% Margin: 5.5

Rebound Margin: 8.0

TO Margin: -0.5

Steals: 4.4

R + T: 7.47

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5547

Marquette has the better criteria here by a healthy margin.  The Golden Eagles looked a little off in their opening round game with Kentucky, but that may have been more Kentucky’s doing.  Stanford’s defense will look ordinary compared to the Wildcats. 

At the other end of the floor, Stanford’s hope is to dominate the boards and get multiple offensive rebounds and second chance points.  I think the Cardinal will lose the turnover battle by at least three or four, so a decided rebounding margin will be a must.  I’m guessing that won’t happen.

Prediction: Marquette by 6

#7 Miami (Fla.) (23-10)

Scoring Margin: 7.0 

FG% Margin: 3.1

Rebound Margin: 2.1

TO Margin: 1.2

Steals: 6.1

R + T: 3.86

PiRate: 1

SOS: .5599

#2 Texas (29-6)

Scoring Margin: 11.1 

FG% Margin: 6.3

Rebound Margin: 2.5

TO Margin: 2.9

Steals: 6.2

R + T: 6.82

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5950

The ACC only put four teams into the Dance, and three of them won in the first round.  The Big 12 saw five of its six entrants survive to the second round.  Something has to give Sunday.

Miami’s second half against St. Mary’s showed a Hurricane team that was capable of competing with any team in the tournament.  Texas blew Austin Peay off the floor before the first TV timeout, and the Longhorns will come into this game fresh and ready to give the Big 12 another victory.

Prediction: Texas by 10

West Region

#1 U C L A (32-3)

Scoring Margin: 15.0 

FG% Margin: 4.8

Rebound Margin: 8.4

TO Margin: 2.5

Steals: 7.4

R + T: 12.84

PiRate: 14

SOS: .5771

#9 Texas A&M (25-10)

Scoring Margin: 9.6  

FG% Margin: 7.3

Rebound Margin: 7.1

TO Margin: -1.5

Steals: 4.5

R + T: 5.48

PiRate: 6

SOS: .5561

UCLA’s defensive effort in the opening round was nothing short of spectacular, even against lowly Mississippi Valley.  Texas A&M played a complete game against BYU.  I expect the Aggies to be pests in this game and keep it close for most of the day.

The match-ups only slightly favor the Bruins, but the venue favors the sky blue and gold even more.  Look for Ben Howland’s squad to move on to the Sweet 16, but it won’t be another repeat of Thursday night.

Prediction: UCLA by 9

#12 Western Kentucky (28-6)

Scoring Margin: 11.6  

FG% Margin: 5.1

Rebound Margin: 3.3

TO Margin: 3.8

Steals: 7.8

R + T: 10.41

PiRate: 15

SOS: .5123

#13 San Diego (22-13)

Scoring Margin: 2.2 

FG% Margin: 1.0

Rebound Margin: 1.8

TO Margin: 0.3

Steals: 6.8

R + T: 2.29

PiRate: 0

SOS: .5283

As former New York Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen used to say, “How about that?”  The number 12 and number 13 seed advanced twice in Tampa.  According to the PiRate criteria, Western Kentucky is a hidden gem.  The Hilltoppers made it to the Final Four in 1971, only to have their appearance forfeited.  Might WKU be on a course to get there again?  I think they will come up short by at least one and possibly two games, but I think they will be one of the final 16 teams with a chance to do just that.

I don’t give San Diego much chance in this game, because I’m not sure they can come back down to Earth after knocking off Connecticut Friday.  Two years ago, George Mason was able to stay up after winning big game after big game, but that team had a double digit criteria number-just like WKU.

Prediction: Western Kentucky by 7

#6 Purdue (25-8)

Scoring Margin: 7.5 

FG% Margin: -1.1

Rebound Margin: -0.1

TO Margin: 4.8

Steals: 8.5

R + T: 9.69

PiRate: 2

SOS: .5204

#3 Xavier (28-6)

Scoring Margin: 13.0 

FG% Margin: 7.4

Rebound Margin: 6.2

TO Margin: -0.2

Steals: 5.6

R + T: 5.93

PiRate: 8

SOS: .5720

Xavier fiddled for 32 minutes Thursday before wearing down Georgia.  The Musketeers should play more consistently in this second round game, and it should be enough to send their Big 10 bully back to Indiana.

Xavier should control the boards and shoot a higher percentage from the field than the Boilermakers.  Unless they commit 18 or more turnovers, with a good eight being PU steals or they shoot below 35%, they will get too many additional chances to score to possibly lose.

Prediction: Xavier by 7

#7 West Virginia (25-10)

Scoring Margin: 11.9 

FG% Margin: 3.5

Rebound Margin: 2.0

TO Margin: 4.8

Steals: 7.2

R + T: 10.29

PiRate: 13

SOS: .5616

#2 Duke (28-5)

Scoring Margin: 14.8 

FG% Margin: 3.1

Rebound Margin: 0.5

TO Margin: 5.0

Steals: 8.7

R + T: 10.94

PiRate: 13

SOS: .5857

Here is my upset pick for Saturday.  West Virginia has the horses to exploit Duke’s weakness in the paint.  These two teams’ criteria couldn’t be much closer, and Duke’s schedule strength advantage of 2.4 isn’t going to tilt the game in their favor.

West Virginia is improving every week, whereas Duke appears to be hitting a valley.  The win over Belmont was not the result of overlooking their #15-seeded opponents.  The Blue Devils just didn’t look like they were capable of putting Belmont away at any point in the game.

Prediction: West Virginia by 6

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