The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 24, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Games of Sat-Sun, March 24-25

Elite 8 Round

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Kansas St. Loyola-IL -0.1
Michigan Florida St. 3.0
Villanova Texas Tech 6.9
Kansas Duke -4.1

Elite 8 TV Schedule

Saturday, Mar 24, 2018
Time (EDT) Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:09 PM 9 Kansas St. 11 Loyola (Chi.) Atlanta TBS
8:49 PM 3 Michigan 9 Florida St. Los Angeles TBS
         
Sunday, Mar 25, 2018
Time (EDT) Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
2:20 PM 1 Villanova 3 Texas Tech Boston CBS
5:05 PM 1 Kansas 2 Duke Omaha CBS

Elite 8 Criteria Preview

Cinderella still remains in this tournament, even when there are just eight teams remaining.  Actually, there are two Cinderellas remaining, and one of them is now guaranteed to make the Final Four, as the two face off in Atlanta this evening.

The ninth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats keep defying the odds of 50+ years of past NCAA Tournament results.  Teams with terrible rebounding margins (Kansas State’s is -3.17 and with an R+T Rating [(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T,  where R is rebounding margin, S is steals per game, and T is turnover margin] just barely above zero just don’t dance this far into the marathon.

Loyola is bucking the trend only minimally.  While they participate in one of the top 12 conferences, thus a Power Conference, the Ramblers’ overall strength of schedule is below the par of Final Four teams.  Even past Final Four Cinderellas like Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, and George Mason had higher strengths of schedule, and former Missouri Valley Conference Final Four member Wichita State had a considerably higher strength of schedule when the Shockers made the national semifinals.

Florida State has tried on that slipper, but it is a tight fit.  The Seminoles are also a ninth seed, but it looks like the ACC teams were seeded a spot or two low this year.  The Seminoles have a brief history in the Final Four, getting to the title game, where they gave one of the best teams ever a real shock in the final, before losing to UCLA by five.  That was a Bruin team that outscored its opponents by a record 30+ points per game.

The Sunday schedule looks sane compared to the Saturday schedule.  Of the four teams playing on Sunday, the PiRate Rating Criteria correctly predicted three of the four to make it this far, and who knows what might have happened had Purdue’s Isaac Haas been able to play–it could have been a perfect four for four.

Nevertheless, Texas Tech is no slouch.  The Red Raiders play a difficult style of ball that is tough to match up against.  Coach Chris Beard takes from his past mentors, having been an assistant to Coach Bob Knight and Coach Tom Penders.  The Red Raiders play intelligently, and while they don’t run up and down the floor, they find ways to get open shots and to keep the opponent from getting too many on their side of the floor.

Villanova looks to be just as strong as the 2016 team that won the tournament.  The Wildcats have defeated teams playing different styles of ball, and they appear to be the most prepared to face whatever comes their way.  Looking at the criteria stats, there are three teams that we consider “complete teams,” in that they enjoy positive rebounding margins, turnover margins, average scoring margins, and they average more than 6 steals per game while giving up less than 6 steals per game.  Villanova is one of those three teams, and the Wildcats look to be the most complete of the three.

The Duke-Kansas match is the only one that the seed line got correct.  It is the only Elite 8 game that the PiRate Criteria also got correct.  The winner of this game will be crowned as the favorite to win it all, but if Villanova is there, it will set up a fantastic semifinal match, where the other side of the bracket will be overlooked.

Here are the Criteria Stats for the eight teams

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Duke Y 29-7 84-69 9.72 21.2 60.69
Florida St. Y 23-11 81-73 4.42 10.3 59.07
Kansas Y 30-7 81-71 8.26 5.3 61.50
Kansas St. Y 25-11 71-67 3.54 0.7 59.38
Loyola (Chi.) Y 31-5 72-62 9.80 6.8 51.89
Michigan Y 31-7 75-63 5.93 9.8 59.74
Texas Tech Y 27-9 75-65 5.13 14.5 60.35
Villanova Y 33-4 87-71 10.44 12.3 60.56

 

Here are the Detailed Criteria Matchups for the teams

Kansas St.  vs.  Loyola of Chicago

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kansas St. Y 25-11 71-67 3.54 0.7 59.38
Loyola (Chi.) Y 31-5 72-62 9.80 6.8 51.89
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kansas St. -3.17 7.94 5.75 2.78 56.4 52.9
Loyola (Chi.) 1.67 6.50 6.53 0.75 60.2 50.4

This is an interesting game, because history shows Kansas St. with criteria like this should come around as often as Halley’s Comet, while Loyola has a criteria that looks more like a Sweet 16 at best team.

Looking at the head-to-head stats, Loyola is superior in more of the key stats, but Kansas State has the big schedule strength advantage.  The outcome of this game will come down to whether the Wildcats can force the Ramblers into turnovers that they have not been committing so far in the Dance.  Loyola is playing confidently, and they have not been affected by the bright lights.  Assistant Coach Sister Jean may be the reason for that.

We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but our criteria will not allow us to pick a team with an R+T Rating barely above 0.  Kansas State cannot continue to get out-rebounded by large amounts (double digits against Kentucky) and rely on steals and three-point shots to win.  It might work two or three times, but asking to make the Final Four without being able to rebound or really shoot well is asking way too much.   They have a puncher’s chance to win this game and become the weakest rebounding team in Final Four history, but we are going to favor the team that is closer to complete.

PiRate Pick: LOYOLA of CHICAGO

 

Michigan vs.  Florida St.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Michigan Y 31-7 75-63 5.93 9.8 59.74
Florida St. Y 23-11 81-73 4.42 10.3 59.07
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Michigan 0.58 6.29 4.11 3.63 57.0 51.0
Florida St. 2.71 6.91 5.82 1.26 56.4 52.0

This looks like a complete toss-up game according to the statistics.  Both teams have favorable scoring margins, although Michigan’s is a bit better.  Both teams have decent true shooting percentage margins, R+T ratings, and Strengths of Schedule.  Florida State has the rebounding edge, but Michigan gets the turnover margin edge.

There is one secondary edge that the Wolverines have that the Seminoles lack.  The Maize and Blue have won 12 games in a row, and in that time, their rebounding has made a major leap forward.

PiRate Pick: MICHIGAN

 

Villanova vs. Texas Tech

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Villanova Y 33-4 87-71 10.44 12.3 60.56
Texas Tech Y 27-9 75-65 5.13 14.5 60.35
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Villanova 2.70 6.62 4.81 2.38 62.5 52.1
Texas Tech 4.11 7.19 5.94 2.67 55.8 50.7

Texas Tech has done an admirable job to get this far, and they will not go down without a fight, but their opponent has the criteria look of a Final Four team.  In fact, of the eight remaining teams, Villanova’s criteria best fits that of a Final Four team.

The Wildcats may eventually meet a team that is too strong on the boards for them to dominate on the scoreboard, but Texas Tech is most likely not that team.  The Red Raiders might win the rebounding numbers by a little, but we don’t think they can clean the glass, which is what it is going to take to stop VU.

PiRate Pick: VILLANOVA

 

Kansas  vs.  Duke

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kansas Y 30-7 81-71 8.26 5.3 61.50
Duke Y 29-7 84-69 9.72 21.2 60.69
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kansas 0.05 6.59 5.51 1.38 59.7 51.4
Duke 8.80 7.39 5.69 -0.39 58.8 49.1

What looks like the game of the Elite 8 Round may be exactly what has been advertised.  This should be an interesting game, because both teams have small Achilles’ Heels that a genius coaching staff and highly-skilled players can exploit.  Both teams have genius coaching staffs and highly-skilled players.

The glaring difference in this game is that Kansas’s liability is Duke’s biggest asset, whereas Duke’s liability is only a minor asset for KU.

PiRate Pick: DUKE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 23, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Games of Friday, March 23

Sweet 16–Friday, March 23

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Kansas Clemson 1.7
Villanova West Virginia 6.4
Duke Syracuse 5.1
Purdue Texas Tech 3.3

Friday Night’s Schedule

Friday, Mar 23, 2018
TIME (EDT) Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
7:07 PM 1 Kansas 5 Clemson Omaha CBS
7:27 PM 1 Villanova 5 West Virginia Boston TBS
9:37 PM 2 Duke 11 Syracuse Omaha CBS
9:57 PM 2 Purdue 3 Texas Tech Boston TBS

 

 

 

 

March 16, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games of Saturday, March 17

Saturday’s PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Kentucky Buffalo 5.3
Tennessee Loyola (Chi.) 5.1
Gonzaga Ohio St. 2.8
Michigan Houston 1.2
Villanova Alabama 11.9
Texas Tech Florida 1.9
Kansas Seton Hall 3.8
Duke Rhode Island 10.3

PINCH US!

This is the only green you will see on a basketball PiRate today.  None of us buckaroos can possibly wear green on this fine Saturday.  You see, we all need to be pinched all day.

Can we really be awake?  Did it really happen?  Surely, we must have fallen asleep early last night and just thought we heard a mouse roar.  Yes, the Duchy of Grand Baltimore County declared war on Virginia, but the Cavaliers did not notice for 20 minutes.  Then, just like the tiny nation of Grand Fenwick, the Retrievers Roared and won the war.

Back to reality for a moment.  Most definitely, this is an incredible, historical moment in the world of sports.  It has no equal in upsets since maybe a horse called “Upset” beat Man O’ War at Saratoga Race Course in 1919.

There is precedent for the top overall seed losing in its first game, and it happened to the same school more than one time.  However, when DePaul lost in 1980 to UCLA, there were just 32 teams in field, and the Bruins were an 8-seed.  When DePaul lost in 1981 to St. Joseph’s, there were just 40 teams in the field, and the Hawks were a 9-seed.

There are obviously no perfect brackets left in the Universe.  What would the odds be that somebody picked Montana to beat Arizona and UMBC to beat Virginia and then not pick any other crazy upsets that did not happen?  Why do you think it is called, “Madness?”

The PiRate Ratings new Criteria for Bracket Picking went a mediocre 11-5 yesterday to bring the total record to 26-10 or 72.2%.  Our only solace is that the rest of the world did about the same.  In this crazy year, there apparently is no great mechanical method to pick winners.

Nevertheless, we still have our Final Four picks alive (Cincinnati, Duke, North Carolina, and Villanova).  Three of our Elite 8 remain, although we now believe that one of those teams, Purdue, may be doomed now following the unfortunate season-ending injury loss to star center Isaac Haas.

Here is Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Schedule

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:10 PM 1 Villanova 9 Alabama Pittsburgh CBS
2:40 PM 2 Duke 7 Rhode Island Pittsburgh CBS
5:15 PM 5 Kentucky 13 Buffalo Boise, ID CBS
6:10 PM 3 Tennessee 11 Loyola (Chi.) Dallas TNT
7:10 PM 1 Kansas 8 Seton Hall Wichita, KS TBS
7:45 PM 4 Gonzaga 5 Ohio St. Boise, ID CBS
8:40 PM 3 Texas Tech 6 Florida Dallas TNT
9:40 PM 3 Michigan 6 Houston Wichita, KS TBS

Here is our bracket-picking criteria for this next round of games for those of you that get to pick new teams after each round.  The picks in this round do not necessarily match the original picks, because statistics have now changed from the first round, as well as expected opponents.

Villanova vs. Alabama

Both True Shooting Percentage margin and R+T margin indicate that this game could get out of hand rather quickly.  Alabama will not be able to capitalize with their quickness in this game, because Villanova can match the Tide in this respect.  After what happened to Virginia, you can bet that the remaining number one seeds will be ready to play like their opponent is another number one seed.  We expect the Wildcats to look like their 2016 championship team.

PiRate Pick: Villanova

 

Duke vs. Rhode Island

A lot of the media think this game should be close, with URI having a strong upset chance.  Our criteria says this is a blowout game in the making.  The true shooting percentage margins in this game are not close, as the Rams have a negative margin, while Duke has one of the best in the entire field.  Duke’s R+T Rating is in the top 5, while the Rams’ R+T Rating is mediocre among the field.  Add the fact that Duke’s schedule strength is also among the top in the field, while URI’s is mediocre once again.

Obviously, we are sticking with Coach K as long as the Blue Devils remain in the field.  They have the best criteria resume, and even though they are vulnerable to great passing teams, there are not a lot of good passing teams in this tournament.  We can see the Blue Devils winning by 15 or more.

PiRate Pick: Duke

 

Kentucky vs. Buffalo

Kentucky’s schedule strength forecasts a game in which the Wildcats will control the boards and prevent the Bulls from shooting a high enough percentage to catch lightning in the bottle twice in three days.  The Wildcats may not be nearly as good as past teams that made it to the Final Four, but with the top two teams in their side of the bracket gone, they have an open front door to the Elite 8.  Will they go through it?  Coach John Calipari will make sure the young players know the way through that door.

PiRate Pick: Kentucky

 

Tennessee vs. Loyola (Chi.)

Here’s a game where the criteria suggests that this should be a close game with the underdog having a fighting chance to pull off the upset.  Loyola plays team basketball.  The Ramblers’ offense usually works because they take what the defense gives it and rarely forces a bad shot attempt.  Their defense is more than able to put the Ramblers in the Sweet 16.

Tennessee has the inside power and the ability to pound the ball in the paint.  The Volunteers methodically pounded Wright State into submission Thursday, and they will attempt to do the same thing to Loyola.

If Loyola was an up-tempo, pressuring defensive team, we would be inclined to pick the upset.  The Ramblers have the true shooting percentage margin advantage in this game, but Tennessee gets the nod in R+T Ratings and Schedule Strength.

PiRate Pick: Tennessee

 

Kansas vs. Seton Hall

In our opinion, we believe there will be three incredibly exciting games today that could go down to the final horn.  In our criteria, this is a toss-up game.  To start with, Kansas has a minimal schedule strength advantage.  The Big 12 had the toughest overall schedule strength, but the Big East had two number one seeds.

Kansas has a decisive true shooting percentage margin advantage, while Seton Hall has just as much advantage in R+T Ratings.  The Pirate should win the battle on the boards, while turnovers should be a wash.

There isn’t much remaining to try to pick a winner here, and it actually went through several layers before Kansas’s near proximity to home became the deciding factor by the slimmest of margins.

PiRate Pick: Kansas

 

Gonzaga vs. Ohio St.

This game should be the second of the three great games of the day, and the lower seed may have the better shot at the upset in this game compared to all others.

Gonzaga did not look ready to play at the outset of the first round.  The Bulldogs finally put it all together long enough to pull away for a victory, but this first round win reminded us of the 2013 team that struggled with Southern in the first round before losing to Wichita State in the next.  The Bulldogs could not rebound against UNC-Greensboro, and now they face a better inside team in the Buckeyes.

Ohio State’s schedule strength is stronger by enough points to equalize Gonzaga’s true shooting percentage margin and R+T margin.  We expect this game to be decided late.  Gonzaga is vulnerable here, but we will stick with the criteria without letting our personal opinions change our minds.

PiRate Pick: Gonzaga

 

Texas Tech vs. Florida

This game should be decided on the boards, and it is our belief that the Red Raiders have the advantage here.  Florida might be able to counter it with turnover margin, but Texas Tech has faced West Virginia for enough possessions this season to face the Florida man-to-man pressure without much difficulty.

PiRate Pick: Texas Tech

 

Michigan vs. Houston

Upset Alert Here!  Michigan, be aware.  From out of nowhere, Houston looks like a potential Final Four team.  We believe that having no real home games this year may have actually toughened this Cougar team up, and it just may be that they are waiting to ambush the Big Ten opponent today.

Michigan’s schedule strength advantage is not all that strong in this game.  Houston’s true shooting percentage margin advantage is lost due to schedule strength, but their R+T Rating advantage is strong enough to withstand the schedule strength advantage.

Michigan has faced Michigan State enough times without getting killed on the boards, so even though the Wolverines are so-so in rebounding, while Houston is quite competent, we do not see the Cougars winning the battle on the boards by much, maybe just two or three.  However, we like Houston being able to get just enough fast break points, while they quickness eventually wears the Wolverines down just enough to lower their shooting percentage.  This will be the third close game of the day, and it could be the game with the overall best chance that the lower seed wins.

PiRate Pick: Houston

 

Sunday’s Schedule

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:10 PM 2 Purdue 10 Butler Detroit CBS
2:40 PM 3 Michigan St. 11 Syracuse Detroit CBS
5:15 PM 2 North Carolina 7 Texas A&M Charlotte CBS
6:10 PM 2 Cincinnati 7 Nevada Nashville TNT
7:10 PM 4 Auburn 5 Clemson San Diego TBS
7:45 PM 9 Kansas St. 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TruTV
8:40 PM 1 Xavier 9 Florida St. Nashville TNT
9:40 PM 5 West Virginia 13 Marshall San Diego TBS

 

 

 

 

March 13, 2018

Bracketnomics 505: 2018 NCAA Tournament

Today’s PiRate Ratings for NCAA Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Radford Long Island 5.6
UCLA St. Bonaventure 2.3

 

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 course for 2018.  Please note that if you have seen past Bracketnomics posts on this forum, they are now obsolete.  Only the current 2018 version is up to date with our current philosophy and criteria for picking teams.

We are sure that the old method still has some merit, but we believe the game has evolved thanks to advanced statistical metrics changing the way the game is played and the reduction of the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds.  Although it will not be used in the NCAA Tournament, the NIT will experiment with the clock resetting only to 20 seconds when there is an offensive rebound off a missed shot.

If you did not read our Class 1 feature from Monday, you might wish to go back and read it before you begin to look at our data.  It will make it easier to understand.

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/bracketnomics-505-for-2018-first-class/

Let’s start looking at raw data.

This first list shows the True Shooting % Margins, R+T Ratings, and Schedule Strength Numbers.  Keep an eye on the following:

  1. A True Shooting % Margin of +5% or better
  2. An R+T Rating of 12 or better
  3. A Strength of Schedule Rating of 55.0 or better

 

Team W-L Avg Score TS% Diff R+T SOS
Alabama 19-15 72-70 3.92 2.3 60.27
Arizona 27-7 81-71 7.16 16.9 56.62
Arizona St. 20-11 84-75 3.74 5.6 55.90
Arkansas 23-11 81-76 2.27 5.2 59.78
Auburn 25-7 83-73 3.07 13.0 57.82
Bucknell 25-9 81-73 6.39 5.2 47.73
Buffalo 26-8 85-77 4.40 9.9 49.69
Butler 20-13 79-73 1.11 9.8 60.34
Cal St. Fullerton 20-11 73-72 4.49 6.2 48.16
Charleston 26-7 75-69 3.31 5.4 47.05
Cincinnati 30-4 75-57 8.51 23.1 55.59
Clemson 23-9 73-66 5.91 7.0 59.63
Creighton 21-11 84-75 8.21 5.6 59.32
Davidson 21-11 76-68 6.95 7.5 52.99
Duke 26-7 85-70 9.63 21.8 61.10
Florida 20-12 76-69 1.68 4.6 60.47
Florida St. 20-11 82-75 4.18 10.8 58.25
Georgia St. 24-10 75-67 5.06 2.4 47.91
Gonzaga 30-4 85-67 9.69 23.1 53.33
Houston 26-7 77-65 6.55 19.0 55.10
Iona 20-13 80-76 2.89 -1.2 48.61
Kansas 27-7 82-71 8.48 5.1 61.40
Kansas St. 22-11 72-68 3.19 0.9 59.25
Kentucky 24-10 77-70 4.87 11.6 60.74
Lipscomb 23-9 83-78 1.80 10.4 46.08
Long Island 18-16 78-77 3.11 3.4 42.66
Loyola (Chi.) 28-5 72-62 10.23 7.2 50.49
Marshall 24-10 84-79 6.45 -4.8 48.72
MD-Baltimore Co. 24-10 73-71 1.21 3.3 45.34
Miami (Fla.) 22-9 74-68 3.10 6.5 58.19
Michigan 28-7 75-64 5.38 10.3 59.49
Michigan St. 29-4 81-65 14.22 19.9 58.10
Missouri 20-12 74-68 7.35 8.1 59.05
Montana 26-7 78-69 2.09 17.5 47.91
Murray St. 26-5 77-66 9.07 16.4 47.26
Nevada 27-7 83-73 6.01 7.4 54.38
New Mexico St. 28-5 76-65 4.95 23.0 49.40
North Carolina 25-10 82-73 2.96 22.2 63.33
North Carolina St. 21-11 81-75 1.70 7.5 57.47
Ohio St. 24-8 76-67 5.83 13.6 58.53
Oklahoma 18-13 85-82 3.51 0.9 61.23
Penn 24-8 76-69 5.62 7.9 47.04
Providence 21-13 74-73 -0.23 3.6 59.66
Purdue 28-6 81-66 11.75 10.0 59.43
Radford 22-12 67-64 -0.25 10.7 45.99
Rhode Island 25-7 76-68 -0.01 10.6 53.75
San Diego St. 22-10 77-68 3.83 15.2 53.54
Seton Hall 21-11 79-73 2.51 12.0 59.54
South Dakota St. 28-6 85-74 7.08 11.7 50.20
St. Bonaventure 25-7 78-71 3.52 8.9 53.05
Stephen F. Austin 28-6 78-68 3.75 16.2 44.06
Syracuse 20-13 68-65 1.28 12.6 58.16
TCU 21-11 83-76 3.55 15.6 59.86
Tennessee 25-8 74-66 4.38 8.9 61.11
Texas 19-14 72-68 1.65 4.1 61.24
Texas A&M 20-12 75-70 4.13 12.1 60.77
Texas Southern 15-19 78-80 1.11 -1.3 44.18
Texas Tech 24-9 75-65 5.27 14.6 59.83
UCLA 21-11 82-76 4.65 6.7 56.96
UNC-Central 19-15 70-71 2.65 11.1 38.53
UNC-Greensboro 27-7 74-62 3.58 17.8 46.81
Villanova 30-4 87-71 9.78 13.3 60.47
Virginia 31-2 68-53 8.42 13.4 60.45
Virginia Tech 21-11 80-72 7.27 1.6 58.44
West Virginia 24-10 80-69 0.33 16.6 60.84
Wichita St. 25-7 83-71 5.57 22.2 56.78
Wright St. 25-9 72-66 1.88 11.6 46.41
Xavier 28-5 84-75 7.04 15.5 59.66

Did you notice that there are just 10 teams that qualified in all three categories and posted three red numbers?  In case you were wondering, the purple numbers under scoring margin represent an old metric from past years that deserves some carryover into our new plans.  Almost all Final Four teams in the last 20 years (and a large majority all time) had double digit scoring margins.

Schedule Strength is very important to us, just like class is important to thoroughbred horses about to make a run for the roses in Louisville in May.  An Allowance horse with an undefeated record running crazy fractions at lesser tracks doesn’t have a chance against the top competitors in the Blue Grass Stakes, Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, and Santa Anita Derby.  Likewise the teams from the bottom 15 conferences do not have a chance to make it to the Final Four even if they outscored their opponents by 20 points per game.

In case you were wondering about some of the Cinderella Final Four teams from the recent past (George Mason, Wichita State, Butler, and VCU), all these teams were members of conferences that finished in the top 13 in overall strength and strength of schedule.  To find the last Final Four participant that came from a conference that finished in the bottom half in strength and strength of schedule, you must go back to 1979 and Penn out of the Ivy League.

You have a great starting point.  The teams with the red numbers (and purple numbers) have the basics to get them through the early rounds.  Of course, it matters who they play in the early rounds.  We cannot just stop here and fill out our brackets with this information.

There are components of the R+T Ratings, namely rebounding margin, steals, and turnover margin.  When you combine this with true shooting percentage, and schedule strength, you begin to see a clearer picture.  Two teams can have identical r+t ratings but one could dominate on the glass and not pick up steals or force turnovers, while the other could be just a tad better than average on the glass but pick teams apart with ball-hawking defense.  Which team is better?  That is not an easy question to answer.  We have to look at each game by itself.  Will one team’s ability to rebound trump another team’s ability to force turnovers?  What if a team is playing an opponent that wins by steals and turnovers (from a full-court press defense) has played six games this year against teams that play this style of defense and is now competent against it and able to exploit it for easy points?  What if a team that does not turn the ball over much hasn’t played a full-court pressing team all year, and now in the first round, as a favorite playing a double-digit seed, the underdog is a competent pressing defensive team?

You get the picture now, so there is just a little bit left to reveal.  The champion that will emerge will have won six consecutive games.  Should we expect a team that has not already won six consecutive games this year to all of a sudden do so against the top competition?  In almost every case in the last 30 years, the eventual national champion enjoyed at least one seven-games or better winning streak, or they had two separate six-game winning streak.  The rare exceptions in 30 years failed by one game.

We will keep all this in mind as we play out the brackets.  We will start with the First Four Games in Dayton, but most bracket contests allow you to place the winners in your bracket and start when it’s down to 64.

We know that we won’t pick all the winners correctly, and as we said yesterday, you have a better chance of winning the Power Ball and Mega Millions Lotteries in the same week than you have picking a perfect bracket.  In other words, it may take centuries before it is done, if ever.  Most office pools and friendly bracket contests modify the rules and let the players pick entirely new winners after each round, so we will return with picks for Saturday and Sunday, as well as new Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four picks.

Here are some supplemental statistics that we will use to influence how we pick games after we have looked at the big data above.

W1 and W2 are the teams’ two longest winning streaks during the year.

L 12 is how the team fared in its final 12 games prior to the tournament.

Reb is rebounding margin.

Stl is average steals per game, and Opp Stl is average number of times per game the team had the ball stolen by the opponents.

TO is turnover margin.

Team W1 W2 L 12 Reb Stl Opp Stl TO
Alabama 5 4 5-7 0.32 6.41 6.59 -0.94
Arizona 9 7 9-3 7.62 4.94 6.15 -0.62
Arizona St. 12 3 5-7 -1.26 6.58 5.39 4.19
Arkansas 6 4 8-4 -1.06 6.24 4.76 3.00
Auburn 14 5 7-5 3.25 7.44 6.16 2.97
Bucknell 10 8 11-1 1.53 5.62 6.68 -0.03
Buffalo 9 6 10-2 2.53 6.38 5.79 1.41
Butler 5 4 6-6 1.33 6.73 5.15 2.97
Cal St. Fullerton 5 4 9-3 1.90 6.39 5.65 -1.10
Charleston 11 5 11-1 -0.73 5.18 3.94 2.21
Cincinnati 16 7 10-2 7.50 7.29 4.94 3.35
Clemson 10 4 7-5 2.09 5.69 5.88 -0.13
Creighton 5 4 6-6 1.13 5.66 6.06 0.56
Davidson 5 4 10-2 1.38 4.78 4.75 1.13
Duke 11 5 8-4 9.24 7.52 5.82 -0.61
Florida 6 5 6-6 -2.19 6.84 4.41 3.97
Florida St. 9 3 6-6 3.10 6.71 5.87 1.10
Georgia St. 10 4 8-4 -2.76 7.35 4.91 3.15
Gonzaga 14 6 14-0 9.00 6.44 5.06 0.97
Houston 7 5 10-2 6.88 6.42 5.06 1.12
Iona 5 4 7-5 -3.76 6.79 5.06 2.03
Kansas 7 5 9-3 0.06 6.62 5.62 1.32
Kansas St. 4 4 6-6 -3.09 7.76 5.61 2.85
Kentucky 7 4 7-5 4.76 5.62 5.71 -1.03
Lipscomb 8 4 9-3 3.91 6.47 7.03 0.41
Long Island 5 4 9-3 1.71 5.62 6.65 -2.15
Loyola (Chi.) 10 7 11-1 1.64 6.64 6.36 0.91
Marshall 5 4 10-2 -4.32 6.85 6.65 1.06
MD-Baltimore Co. 5 3 10-2 -1.41 7.53 6.38 2.74
Miami (Fla.) 10 4 7-5 0.65 6.55 5.68 1.65
Michigan 9 7 11-1 0.77 6.26 4.06 3.71
Michigan St. 14 13 11-1 10.55 4.09 6.03 -3.21
Missouri 5 5 7-5 4.53 5.16 6.50 -3.09
Montana 13 6 10-2 4.82 7.76 4.97 2.97
Murray St. 13 5 12-0 5.74 6.81 5.29 0.84
Nevada 8 7 9-3 -0.12 6.26 4.53 3.06
New Mexico St. 11 6 10-2 8.94 5.64 4.85 1.12
North Carolina 6 5 9-3 9.97 5.63 6.11 -0.46
N. Carolina St. 5 4 8-4 0.59 7.50 6.22 2.81
Ohio St. 8 5 8-4 4.63 6.03 5.16 0.47
Oklahoma 10 2 3-9 -0.71 6.58 6.81 -0.16
Penn 5 4 10-2 1.75 5.94 5.19 0.59
Providence 5 4 7-5 -0.06 6.85 6.62 0.91
Purdue 19 5 8-4 2.44 5.82 5.21 1.44
Radford 7 6 8-4 3.12 6.29 5.53 0.82
Rhode Island 16 2 8-4 0.63 7.50 5.56 5.16
San Diego St. 9 4 10-2 5.28 6.31 6.19 1.69
Seton Hall 5 5 6-6 4.38 6.28 5.94 0.00
South Dakota St. 11 8 11-1 3.68 4.97 4.76 0.65
St. Bonaventure 13 8 11-1 0.94 6.91 5.28 2.88
S.F. Austin 6 5 10-2 4.06 10.21 7.50 4.44
Syracuse 6 4 5-7 4.48 7.24 6.30 0.30
TCU 12 4 6-6 6.31 6.59 6.25 -0.10
Tennessee 6 6 9-3 1.79 6.30 5.64 1.76
Texas 4 3 5-7 -0.21 6.21 5.42 0.85
Texas A&M 7 4 7-5 5.97 5.63 6.38 -2.31
Texas Southern 7 3 9-3 -1.97 5.59 5.29 -0.88
Texas Tech 8 7 7-5 4.06 7.42 5.88 2.64
UCLA 4 4 8-4 2.44 5.72 5.94 -1.06
UNC-Central 6 5 7-5 4.88 5.12 5.12 -2.09
UNC-Greensboro 6 5 11-1 6.76 7.74 7.06 1.47
Villanova 13 9 9-3 2.88 6.68 4.56 2.74
Virginia 15 8 11-1 1.88 6.79 3.88 4.15
Virginia Tech 7 3 7-5 -1.50 5.75 5.34 1.09
West Virginia 15 3 8-4 3.44 8.03 5.47 5.18
Wichita St. 7 7 9-3 9.88 4.69 5.88 0.00
Wright St. 8 4 9-3 2.97 6.65 5.82 2.15
Xavier 10 9 10-2 7.12 5.85 6.61 -1.06

When we add all our major and supplemental criteria together, we get a raw score.  We have tested some basic data scoring that we will not attempt to explain here, as it would bore you to sleep, but here are the 14 teams that came out of the test with indications that they have the talent and class to win the national championship.  While they are in order of grade score, you cannot automatically assume that the top team is the very best; actually the top eight finished in a statistical dead heat.  Here is the list of 14 teams with national championship caliber statistics.  The top Eight are shown in Crimson.

Cincinnati
Gonzaga
Houston
Texas Tech
Duke
Villanova
Virginia
Ohio St.
Wichita St.
West Virginia
Michigan St.
Purdue
Kansas
Michigan

Here are the tip-off times and TV schedules for the First Four and Round of 64, followed by our bracket picks based on the new criteria.

The First Four Games In Dayton 

Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:40 PM 16 Radford 16 Long Island Dayton, OH truTV
9:10 PM 11 UCLA 11 St. Bonaventure Dayton, OH truTV
         
Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:40 PM 16 UNC-Central 16 Texas Southern Dayton, OH truTV
9:10 PM 11 Arizona St. 11 Syracuse Dayton, OH truTV

Round of 64

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Rhode Island 10 Oklahoma Pittsburgh CBS
12:40 PM 3 Tennessee 14 Wright St. Dallas truTV
1:30 PM 4 Gonzaga 13 UNC-Greensboro Boise, ID TNT
2:00 PM 1 Kansas 16 Penn Wichita, KS TBS
2:45 PM 2 Duke 15 Iona Pittsburgh CBS
3:10 PM 6 Miami (Fla.) 11 Loyola (Chi.) Dallas truTV
4:00 PM 5 Ohio St. 12 South Dakota St. Boise, ID TNT
4:30 PM 8 Seton Hall 9 North Carolina St. Wichita, KS TBS
6:50 PM 1 Villanova 16 LIU/Radford Pittsburgh TNT
7:10 PM 5 Kentucky 12 Davidson Boise, ID CBS
7:20 PM 6 Houston 11 San Diego St Wichita, KS TBS
7:27 PM 3 Texas Tech 14 Stephen F. Austin Dallas truTV
9:20 PM 8 Virginia Tech 9 Alabama Pittsburgh TNT
9:40 PM 4 Arizona 13 Buffalo Boise, ID CBS
9:50 PM 3 Michigan 14 Montana Wichita, KS TBS
9:57 PM 6 Florida 11 St. Bon./UCLA Dallas truTV
Friday, Mar 16, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Texas A&M 10 Providence Charlotte CBS
12:40 PM 2 Purdue 15 Cal St. Fullerton Detroit truTV
1:30 PM 4 Wichita St. 13 Marshall San Diego TNT
2:00 PM 2 Cincinnati 15 Georgia St. Nashville TBS
2:45 PM 2 North Carolina 15 Lipscomb Charlotte CBS
3:10 PM 7 Arkansas 10 Butler Detroit truTV
4:00 PM 5 West Virginia 12 Murray St. San Diego TNT
4:30 PM 7 Nevada 10 Texas Nashville TBS
6:50 PM 8 Creighton 9 Kansas St. Charlotte TNT
7:10 PM 3 Michigan St. 14 Bucknell Detroit CBS
7:20 PM 1 Xavier 16 UNC-Central/Tx Sou. Nashville TBS
7:27 PM 4 Auburn 13 Charleston San Diego truTV
9:20 PM 1 Virginia 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TNT
9:40 PM 6 TCU 11 Ariz. St./Syracuse Detroit CBS
9:50 PM 8 Missouri 9 Florida St. Nashville TBS
9:57 PM 5 Clemson 12 New Mexico St. San Diego truTV

 

BRACKET FILLING TIME

Play-in Round

Radford vs. Long Island

There isn’t much difference here between the two teams, as the winner will quickly exit stage right after Thursday.

Radford has a slight rebounding edge and somewhat larger turnover and steals edge with a slightly better strength of schedule.  It isn’t an overwhelming edge in any case, but it is enough to list a favorite by about 60%

Our Pick: Radford

 

UCLA vs. St. Bonaventure

Games like this are supposed to be toss-ups, and in this case, we could see where the margin stays close throughout as the two teams struggle to get spurts that will put them in control.

St. Bonaventure enters this game riding a hot hand where a long winning streak ended in a semifinal round loss to Davidson in the A-10 Tournament.  UCLA almost didn’t make it in the tournament, and an end of season win over USC most likely put the Bruins in and Trojans out.

In almost every statistical category, the advantages one team has over the other are minimal.  The only game-swinging stat that could make this outcome predictable is the turnover margin.  UCLA has a negative turnover margin, while the Bonnies have a knack for stealing the ball.  It’s just enough to go with the team from Olean by a couple points.

Our Pick: St. Bonaventure

 

North Carolina Central vs. Texas Southern

This will be an exciting game for more than the obvious reason that it will allow the winner a chance to advance to Friday.  This game matches up the tournament champions from the two Historically Black Colleges and University conferences that play division 1 basketball.  Legendary Hall of Fame Coach John McLendon made UNC Central a small college basketball power similar to Kentucky and North Carolina in present times.  Texas Southern was an NAIA power in the 1970’s before moving to Division 1, and as a D1 school, the Tigers produced one of the most exciting and prolific combination scorers and rebounders in NCAA history.  Harry “Machine Gun” Kelly was the first player in NCAA Division 1 history to score more than 3,000 points in his career and gather more than 1,000 rebounds.

Now that we hope you are pumped up about this game, expect possibly the best game of the Dayton foursome.  UNC-Central has the better statistical resume, but TSU played a considerably harder schedule.  Neither team has a chance of knocking off the top-seed Xavier on Friday.  We are going to take UNC-Central in a close game for one reason only.  Texas Southern has a negative R+T rating, and our PiRate Rating rule is to always go against any team with a negative R+T rating as long as the opponent has a postivie R+T rating.  This means that Central will benefit from extra scoring opportunities in this game, in this case about six more.  TSU does not have a high enough true shooting percentage to make up for this probably seven-point swing.

Our Pick: UNC-Central

 

Arizona St. vs. Syracuse

Both teams must feel fortunate that they squeaked into the tournament.  According to actual selection, Arizona St. is the 66th team and Syracuse is the 68th team, but NCAA Tournament rules state that teams from the same conference cannot play against each other until the Elite 8, and Arizona St. moved up one spot as team 65, so that they would not play #67 UCLA, a conference rival.

When you talk about playing Syracuse with little time to prepare, you have to give the Orangemen a little bit of vigorish due to the difficulty preparing for their multiple 2-3 zone schemes.  Just when you think you have it figured out, they switch how they play the zone.  It is like preparing for a football game against Navy on very short notice.

Syracuse is going to control the boards in this game, so the Sun Devils will need to capitalize on hitting a high percentage of the few open shots that present themselves when ASU solves the zone and finds a hole.  The Sun Devils will need to ramp up the pressure man-to-man defense in hopes of forcing Syracuse into a couple extra turnovers.

There isn’t much to choose from when trying to separate these two teams, but the one glaring advantage in this game is schedule strength, and that is how we will select a winner in this one.

Our Pick: Syracuse 

 

Round of 64

Virginia vs. Maryland-Baltimore Co.

We could just issue the obvious pick, and you know which team that will be, but we want to include reasons in every game so you can begin to instinctively know how we do what we do.  It is our hope that by the Sweet 16 round that most of you will know before reading which teams we are going to select.

UMBC has struggled at times to get open looks against America East Conference opponents.  What do you think will happen when they go up against the best halfcourt defense in the country?  The Retrievers will see the Cavaliers retrieving all the missed shots, and then UVa will work the ball for high percentage shots.  It would not surprise us at all if the margin exceeded 30 points in this game.  Virginia has a huge R+T advantage and if the shooting percentage difference wasn’t enough, the Cavs will get about 10 extra scoring opportunities.  If the starters stay in the game long enough, the score could be doubled.  Even with the reserves seeing double digit minutes, a 75-40 score would not be surprising.

Our Pick: Virginia 

 

Creighton vs. Kansas St.

Eight-Nine games are supposed to be close, but in this case we believe it is a mismatch.  Using our criteria, the Blue Jays should dominate this game.  Let’s start with the strength of schedule for the teams–it is almost identical (less than .1 points per game).  This makes statistical analysis much easier.

Creighton enjoys considerable superiority in true shooting percentages and R+T rating, which makes this a simple open and shut case.  We expect a double-digit win.

Our Pick: Creighton

 

Kentucky vs. Davidson

Kentucky coach John Calipari is hopping mad.  His Wildcats won the SEC Tournament, and they got shipped to the Frozen potato fields of Boise.  It was obvious that their five-seed had already been bestowed upon the Blue Mist prior to the game with Tennessee on Sunday.

Davidson was the team that forced all Bracketologists to compile two final seed lists and wait until Sunday afternoon’s contest with Rhode Island concluded.  The Wildcats’ statistical metrics improved continually from early January until the present time.  If you throw out their November and December games and only include the stats from that point on, they look like a lively team capable of pulling off another one of those 12 versus 5 upsets.

This Kentucky team has not been all that consistent.  There isn’t really a point in the season where you can isolate many consecutive games where their statistical metrics say they have a chance to run the table.  Even the conference tournament showed they cannot play a 40-minute game.  This isn’t the Fiddling Five of 1958, where one big spurt leads the Wildcats to victory.  This group is more like the ADHD Five.  They hit long stretches where they don’t seem to be following Cal’s script.

It won’t matter much in this game.  Cal if angry, and his team will respond at least in this first game.  Kentucky has too much muscle inside for Davidson to put together a long string of successful possessions.  The K-Cats will block shots and limit Davidson to one shot per possession too many times for the D-Cats.  Davidson will have a difficult time stopping Kentucky’s inside game, and when they stuff the lane, Kentucky will hit enough three-pointers to force DC to extend their defense.

Our Pick: Kentucky 

 

Arizona vs. Buffalo

Buffalo might have been a trendy upset pick if the Bulls had pulled a more favorable first-round opponent.  The Wildcats have just a little too much inside power for the Bulls to stop enough times to challenge for the upset.  In our minds, Arizona was seeded a little lower than their resume shows.  They should have been at least a 3-seed if not a 2-seed.  The Pac-12 did not get much respect, and the FBI issue may have psychologically discounted the team a little in the Selection Committee room.

This is the only Pac-12 team with statistical metrics capable of moving to the Final Four.  Arizona’s stat sheet is one that shows staying power.  They meet our qualifications of a “Complete Team,” as they have favorable true shooting percentage, R+T rating, and schedule strength.

Our Pick: Arizona

 

Miami (Fla.) vs. Loyola (Chi.)

This is the first game in order of the released bracket where the decisive underdog has a legitimate chance to pull of the upset.  If Loyola’s strength of schedule was just a fraction stronger, we would make the Ramblers the definite favorite in this game.  As it is, we think it is a 50-50 toss-up, so keep that in mind when you see our pick for this game and feel free to go the other way if you have valid reasons.

Miami limped through the last month of the regular season.  The Hurricanes peaked in November and December and never could regain the consistency they had at the beginning of the season.

Loyola went the other way.  As the season continued, the Ramblers improved.  By mid-February, they had become what Wichita State once was in the Valley–the dominant team without a serious rival.

Loyola has superior true shooting percentage margin and R+T rating, better by enough to overcome Miami’s superior schedule strength.  The Hurricanes do not help themselves in rebounding or gaining possession by turnover, and their stay in the 2018 version of March Madness will end either here or in the next round.

As we try to pick this toss-up game we go with the team with the momentum and the excitement of returning to the field after a long time with players that are hungry and confident.

Our Pick: Loyola (Chi.) 

 

Tennessee vs. Wright St.

On the few occasions where a 14 or 15 seed pulls off the big first round upset, that team has players that are quick and dangerous ball-hawkers that can fast break and get cheap baskets.  Wright State does not meet this requirement.  They are a more patient, balanced team that takes advantage of the opponent’s miscues and slowly opens up a nice but not huge lead.

Tennessee is not going to give the Raiders much of a chance to slowly open up any lead.  The Volunteers have superiority over WSU in schedule strength by a large margin, as Tennessee’s opponents overall averaged more than 15 points per game stronger than those that played the Raiders.  Tennessee’s true shooting percentage margin will be more than enough to make this game a blow out, but the Vols also have the better R+T rating when weighted against their superior schedule.  Expect to see Rick Barnes go deep into his bench in the second half.

Our Pick: Tennessee

 

Nevada vs. Texas

If you know anything about barbecue contests, you know that brisket is the most difficult part of the contest to master.  It takes a long time to perfect the method.  There isn’t much room for temperature variation, and the rub and mop have to be just right.  You don’t get much wiggle room.  College basketball at the big time is similar to barbecuing a brisket.  Chef Eric Musselman of Team Nevada created perfect briskets all season long until last week.  His most recent brisket came out of the old Pitts and Spitts inedible.  The judges couldn’t even bite into the sample piece, as a new leader of the old successful barbecue team in San Diego took home all the trophies.

What do we make of this?  Will Team Wolf Pack recover and cook a tender, juicy flavorful brisket in the big Music City BBQ contest?

The other participant in this game used to create championship briskets with his mustard based sauce that he called “Havoc.”  Chef Shaka Smart didn’t have the essential ingredients in the Lone Star State this year, and he had to change his recipe to a vinegar base sauce.  It wasn’t as tasty or tender, but the brisket still got him placement on the stage.  Chef Smart may have done his best work considering the grade of beef he had at the start, but now all that matters is the final product.

Which brisket will be better?  Let’s look at the ingredients.  The quality of the beef, aka schedule strength, favors the Longhorns, and the advantage is healthy and something to give serious consideration.  Nevada still has a slight true shooting percentage edge when schedule strength is weighted into the equation, but Texas overcomes that with an even greater R+T advantage.  Most of this advantage comes from UT’s ability to maintain control of the ball, so it will not lead to excessive extra scoring opportunities.

With this data alone, the game looks to be rather close.  However, we are going to add one intangible into the fray, and that will lead us to picking a sure winner.  Coach Musselman’s briskets have developed quite the reputation in the barbecue world.  He almost left Reno for the large BBQ joint in Berkeley, CA, last year, and at the end of the season Nevada laid an egg in their first round tournament game with Iowa St.  This year, we believe Musselman will take another job, and we believe his players feel that way too.  He has been mentioned as a finalist for the Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Georgia, and Ole Miss jobs, and chances are better than 50-50 that he takes one of these four.  Once again, the Wolf Pack may be a bit flat, if only at the start of the game before they recover.  Spot Shaka Smart a ten-point lead, and his teams usually find a way to hold onto it.

Our Pick: Texas

 

Cincinnati vs. Georgia St.

The Bearcats should have been a number one seed in our opinion, but the Selection Committee is charged with looking at the entire season rather than the most recent part.  Coach Mick Cronin has a real national championship contender this year, as Cinti has its best team since Ed Jucker roamed the sidelines.  This Bearcat team is better than any of Bob Huggins’ teams in the Queen City.

Georgia State is a better team today than they were in December.  The Panthers showed how much they improved during the season when they clobbered Louisiana-Lafayette and put up 106 points in the game.

GSU could play two complete games against Cincinnati, and the Panthers would struggle to score 106 total points.  The Bearcats are in a different class of opponent compared to the opponents in the Sun Belt Conference.

The stats are ugly for this game and portend a possible 40 to 50-point win if Cincinnati doesn’t call off the dogs early.  The Bearcats should receive 25 extra scoring opportunities in this game, as Georgia State had trouble rebounding against SBC competition, and Cincinnati would be expected to win the battle of the boards against almost every other team in the tournament except maybe Michigan St.

Cincinnati’s defense will hold Georgia State under 40% shooting from the field, while the Bearcats have a good chance to connect on 50% or better.  Don’t even consider that this game could be any different, unless you believe we just jinxed it.  On paper, we could see a score in the neighborhood of 85-45.

Our Pick: Cincinnati

 

Xavier vs. UNC-Central or Texas Southern

We find it quite interesting that the Selection Committee placed bitter rivals Xavier and Cincinnati in the same location for a tournament that will be played around St. Patrick’s Day.  What could go wrong when enemies of two schools staying in the same block of another town get sufficient alcohol in their systems?  Why not schedule a soccer game between Manchester United and Liverpool at the Titans’ Coliseum across the river at the same time?

There isn’t much to say about this game.  Xavier should have little trouble winning, but take note of this: we believe the Musketeers are the most vulnerable of the one-seeds in this tournament.  They have glaring weaknesses that can be exploited down the road, maybe even as soon as the next round.  Xavier can gave some trouble holding onto the ball, and they do not force many turnovers on defense, so a really good pressuring defense with decent shooters will be nothing but trouble for the Musketeers.

Our Pick: Xavier

Missouri vs. Florida St.

This game is a hard one to pick.  How do you factor Michael Porter, Jr. into the statistical comparison?  He played 20+ minutes in his return for the Tigers in their opening game tournament loss to Georgia.  He was quite rusty and still enough out of shape to show fatigue quickly.  Of course, he was also nervous playing in St. Louis, and he pressed a bit.  However, there were moments where you could see some Lebronish moves.

Florida State is very similar to Missouri in all respects, and without Porter playing for the Tigers, we would tend to give the slight edge to the Seminoles.  Therein lies the rub.  Without sneaking into Missouri’s practices or speaking directly with Porter and Coach Cuonzo Martin, we cannot begin to know if Porter will be able to move the needle in favor of his Tigers.

The key statistical factors here are a wash.  Schedule strength is the same.  Missouri has a slightly better true shooting percentage, while FSU has a slightly better R+T advantage.  Missouri’s negative turnover margin is enough to cause a bit of concern, but then having Porter at maybe 70% of his normal self is enough to put the advantage back on Missouri’s side, if only by a point or two. We are making this pick under the correct or incorrect belief that Porter will play 20+ minutes again in this game and be slightly more effective in this one.

Our Pick: Missouri

 

Ohio St. vs. South Dakota St.

South Dakota State is another double-digit seed that might have pulled off a shocker in the first round had they not drawn an opponent that matches up against them perfectly.  Ohio State can be beaten by lower-seeded teams in this tournament, and we would have gone against the Buckeyes if they had drawn Murray State.

This will still be a tough one for the quintet from Columbus to win.  SDSU is slightly weaker in true shooting percenage margin and R+T rating, but not by much.  Ohio State’s advantage here on average is about six points, which can easily be overcome by the law of averages, especially when you consider that the Jackrabbits are peaking at the right time, while the Buckeyes appear to be taking on water.  Only because Coach Chris Holtman has an excellent NCAA Tournament resume do we feel good about this selection.

Our Pick: Ohio State in a squeaker

 

Gonzaga vs. UNC-Greensboro

Is it us, or has the national media forgotten which team came within 90 seconds of winning the national championship last year and then reloaded with another powerful team that got better and better each week?

Take a look at Gonzaga’s statistical data?  The Bulldogs are just as impressive this year as they were at this time last year.  Their true shooting percentage margin is 5th best in the field of 68.  Their R+T rating is tops in the field.  They enter the Dance waltzing with a 14-game winning streak, and they meet our qualifications for a complete team.

The only reason why the Zags may not make it back to the Final Four this year is their strength of schedule just misses qualifying for our magic number of five points better than average.  They just barely qualified last year, so Gonzaga could break through and crush our qualifications.

UNC-Greensboro is not chopped liver.  They are a potentially dangerous team that just happened to luck into playing Gonzaga.  The Spartans enter the tournament riding a six-game winning streak that has seen them outscore opponents by 12.3 points per game.  Their statistical data is better than the average 13-seed.  They might be expected to beat more than half of the 6 through 12 seeds in this field, but they were quite unlucky drawing the most underrated of the top 16 teams.

Our Pick: Gonzaga

 

Houston vs. San Diego St.

This should be one of the most exciting and entertaining games in this round.  These two teams know how to claw and scratch on every possession.  While the game looks to be close to a toss-up, our PiRate Criteria statistical data shows a clear favorite.

Houston has better true shooting percentage numbers, better R+T numbers, and an ever so slightly superior schedule strength.  There are no other factors strong enough to turn this game the opposite way.  Watch out for the Cougars.  They are flying under the radar and could sneak up on future opponents.

Note: CUSA rivals Cincinnati and Houston were forced to play their home games on the floors of other D1 schools this year due to renovations to their gyms.  Cincinnati played their home games across the river at Northern Kentucky, while Houston played its home games almost next door at Texas Southern.  This no real home game issue may actually help both CUSA teams.

Our Pick: Houston

Michigan vs. Montana

Michigan under John Beilein always presents us some difficulty when prognosticating games in the NCAA Tournament, and in fact it was their past recent success that led us to make the major renovations to our criteria.  They led the change in how the game is now played on the offensive end, and their old-fashioned 1960’s-style 1-3-1 trapping zone defense also presents problems.

This year, the Wolverines appear to be even stronger than last year, when they narrowly lost to Oregon in the Sweet 16.  The Maize and Blue no longer have rebounding liabilities.  Rebounding is still no major strength, but they can compete against their upstate rival without worrying about being done in on the boards.

Michigan has shored up this liability without sacrificing their typical assets.  The Wolverines can still handle the ball better than all but one or two others in this field.  They know how to get the ball inside and score within a couple feet of the basket, and they can still hit their share of three-pointers.

Montana is actually a strong team for a Big Sky member.  The Big Sky has produced some surprise teams in the past, and the Grizzlies are a formidable first round foe.  They might even lead in this game for a short period of time, but in the end, they do not have the horsed to knock off the feisty Wolverines.

Our Pick: Michigan

 

Texas A&M vs. Providence

Neither of these teams has lasting potential in the 2018 Dance.  The winner will have to face North Carolina in Charlotte in the next round, and even thogh the Tar Heels have vulnerabilities, they will make it to the Sweet 16 again.

This game looks to us to be a surprise easy victory for the superior team.  Let’s look at which team that is.  Providence is one of just two teams in the field with a negative true shooting percentage margin (oddly the other is in-state rival Rhode Island).  In order for a team that has a negative TS% margin to win, they better have an outstanding R+T rating as well as a strong strength of schedule.  The Friars’s schedule is strong enough, but their R+T rating is almost as weak as their true shooting percentage margin.

Texas A&M enjoys decent numbers in the big three stats.  Their TS% margin is healthy, as it their R+T rating, and their strength of schedule is among the top 10 in this field.

Our Pick: Texas A&M

 

North Carolina vs. Lipscomb

Welcome to your first ever Division 1 NCAA Tournament bid Bisons.  Now, your first opponent is defending national champion North Carolina, and oh, you’re going to play them in Charlotte.

What a way to get a Baptism under fire!  There is only a tiny bit of solace in Lipscomb playing the Tar Heels.  Coach Casey Alexander came from Belmont, where coach Rick Byrd took his Bruin team into Chapel Hill a few years ago and beat North Carolina.  Byrd’s Belmont team came within a point of Duke in a past NCAA Tournament, and Alexander’s style of play is a carbon copy of his mentor.

The differences in schedule strength between these two games is immense and equates to about 24 points per game difference.  North Carolina will benefit from a huge advantage on the boards, but they can also take advantage of Lipscomb’s difficulty handling pressure defense.  The Bisons almost blew a 32-point lead in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship, when Florida Gulf Coast pressed full court and forced Lipscomb into one turnover after another, as the lead was cut to five points in about 12 minutes.

Our Pick: North Carolina

 

Villanova vs. Long Island or Radford

Villanova will have a slightly tougher time against Radford than against Long Island, and we selected Radford in the First Four, so we will compare VU to Radford.

‘Nova enjoys a strength of schedule close to 20 points per game better than Radford’s schedule.  The adjustment to the rest of the statistics based on schedule strength rating gives Villanova a prohibitive advantage in all respects.  The Wildcats once again have Final Four worthy statistics.

Our Pick: Villanova

 

Virginia Tech vs. Alabama

What we have here is a toss-up game between two rather mediocre NCAA Tournament teams.  We do not expect the winner to make it past the next round.

Virginia Tech has a decisive advantage in true shooting percentage margin.  The Hokies have little R+T strength, just barely avoiding automatic non-consideration at 1.6.  However, Alabama’s R+T is not much better at 2.3, which usually doesn’t bode well in the round of 64.  Neither team would most likely beat any of the 12-seeds this year, but because they lucked into facing each other, one team must advance to the round of 32.

Our Pick: Virginia Tech (but not with much confidence)

Note: A player like Alabama’s Colin Sexton can put a team on his back and produce a win over a team like Virginia Tech, so if you believe Sexton will shine, you might want to go against us here.

 

West Virginia vs. Murray St.

Wow!  This is going to be a game to watch for sure.  Usually, when Press Virginia plays its first game against an opponent that has not played the Mountaineers in the current era, Huggy Bear’s troops have a huge advantage.  Murray State is not one of those teams.  The Racers not only should handle the press much better than the average team, they will exploit it for points.

The problem is that the full-court press defense isn’t WVU’s only weapon.  The Mountaineers know how to crash the boards, and they know how to get the ball inside for high-percentage shots when the defense is not big time tough.

Murray State will challenge in this game until the Racers show signs of fatigue.  Eventually, the Mountaineers will go on a run with their “spurtability” and win by double digits, but it will still be a fun game to watch.

Our Pick: West Virginia

 

Wichita St. vs. Marshall

This game is an excellent study in contrast between old-school toughness and the new wave of basketball sabermetrics.

Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni is all about the new way of playing the game based on the way the currently accepted best operating metrics say the game should be played.  Marshall doesn’t try to get the ball into the low post where a pivot player then tries to make a move and take a high percentage shot.  The Thundering Herd force you to guard the perimeter sometimes placing all five offensive players behind the arc.  Then, if you drop your guard, they will drive to the basket trying to stuff the ball or getting a layup.

Defensively, if you want to play old school and set up a low post player in the pivot, the Herd will invite you to try to beat them with that strategy, because their data says they have the advantage.  Marshall tries to run the fast break at any opportunity where they have the number’s advantage, and they will pull up and take the three with a number’s advantage.  It is not out of the ordinary if they take 35 three-point shots in a game.  They will hit a baker’s dozen of them, so if your strategy is to take high-percentage shots inside with a dominant post player, you have to hit 20 of 35 to beat the 13 of 35 three-pointers.

Coach Gregg Marshall is somewhat of a non-believer.  Sure, his Wichita State team will take three-point shots and run the fast break trying to get easy baskets, but the Shockers believe in getting the ball inside and preventing the opponent from doing the same.

There is something entirely different from this synopsis that makes this an easy game to pick.  Marshall has a negative R+T rating, and any negative R+T rating means we always pick the other team if the other team has a positive R+T rating.  Wichita’s R+T is not just positive; it is one of the highest in the field.  The Shockers should get an incredible 24 more scoring opportunities in this game.  Marshall would have to hit something like 20 of 35 from behind the arc to win this game.

Our Pick:  Wichita St.

 

Florida vs. St. Bonaventure or UCLA

No matter which team wins the First Four game in Dayton, Florida is a strong upset victim in this game.  The Gators have so many vulnerabilities this year that just making the tournament should be considered a successful season.  This does not mean that the Gators have no chance in this game.  It means that the play-in winner has a better than 50-50 chance of getting a second win.

Florida’s barely positive true shooting percentage margin would require a strong R+T rating to advance into the second week of the tournament.  The Gators’ R+T is just 4.6, which places UF in the bottom quarter of the field and eighth weakest among power conference participants.

Our Pick: St. Bonaventure (or UCLA if they are the opponent)

 

Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin

We don’t usually get in-state rivals playing each other in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at a venue in their home state.  Texas Tech received the benefit of being kept close to home, but then all that benefit eroded when their opponent received an equal amount of home state help.

Texas Tech has to be treated a bit differently compare to most of the other teams in this field.  They have a key player that missed a large part of the regular season, and the Red Raiders were never the same after the injury.

Prior to beefy forward Zach Smith missing five weeks of the season, Tech was 14-1 and ranked in the top 10.  With Smith out, the Raiders went just 8-6, but then when he came back, Tech only won two of their last four.

Both of those two losses were at the hands of West Virginia, and even when Tech beat the Mountaineers in Lubbock, they struggled throughout the game.  It wasn’t the full-court press that hurt Tech as much as it was that WVU had better athletes.

Stephen F. Austin is similar to WVU but without the great athletes.  Texas Tech should win this game but not look flashy.  They will play more like a well-oiled machine and continually increase their control of the game.

Our Pick: Texas Tech

 

Arkansas vs. Butler

Just looking at this matchup, one might think that Arkansas has a major advantage in this game, but we’re here to tell you that is not the case.  Because the strength of schedules between the two are basically equal, comparing the other stats becomes much easier.

True Shooting % margin: Advantage Arkansas by a minute amount

R+T Rating: Advantage Butler by a bit more amount than Arkansas’s advantage above.

Arkansas is a weaker rebounding team than Butler is a weaker defensive team, so we go against the grain here and pick the Bulldogs over the flashy Razorbacks.  It doesn’t hurt that Butler finished just behind two, number one seeds in the Dance.

Our Pick: Butler

 

Purdue vs. Cal St. Fullerton

In past years, Purdue entered NCAA Tournament play as favorites to advance far only to suffer an upset loss to a team that most basketball fans believed the Boilermakers should have easily defeated.  We here on the PiRate ship understood why Purdue lost.  We called it the Keady Effect.  Teams with head coaches from the Gene Keady tree, and Keady as well, played a style of ball that worked during the regular season when PU could romp over most of their non-conference opponents and defend their home court with great success, but it did not work in neutral court tournament situations.

Matt Painter seems to have seen the light in recent years.  His teams no longer employ Keady Ball at Purdue.  They play more like prior coach Lee Rose, and because of that the Boilermakers are dangerous, maybe coming in a little under the radar.

Purdue has the second best overall true shooting percentage margin in this tournament, and their former bugaboo, the R+T rating is now a slight asset.  It is still not outstanding, but it is now strong enough to believe Purdue could make it to the second weekend of the Dance.

Cal State Fullerton lacks the quickness and the muscle to compete in this game.  Purdue will win by 15-25 points.

Our Pick: Purdue

 

Kansas vs. Penn

If there is any chance at all that one of the 1 versus 16 games will be close and still in doubt past halftime, this will be that game.  Kansas is due for a bounce after playing three tough Big 12 Tournament games, while Penn only had to hold serve on their home floor two times.

Although we think Xavier is the likely first 1-seed to lose this year, Kansas should be the second one, because we do not see this Jayhawk team making it to the Final Four, and they may not make it to the Elite 8.

It’s not that Penn is going to make a run in this tournament.  The Quakers will not make it past this game, but they will show the rest of the field that the Big 12 champions are beatable.

Our Pick: Kansas

 

Seton Hall vs. North Carolina St.

Give Kevin Keatts two more years, and he will have a Final Four contender in Raleigh.  When you combine talent evaluation, recruiting acumen, teaching, and game-time adjustments, Keatts rates as an A+ perfect 10 coach.  We expect a championship ring in his future.

Unfortunately for Wolf Pack fans, that ring will not come in 2018.  This State team was not expected to make it to the NCAA Tournament, as the NIT was the expectation.

Seton Hall is much like Butler.  The Pirates finished tied for third in a league where the top two teams claimed number one seeds.  The Big East is a tough league, and it is hard for a team to develop what looks like on paper as dominant statistics.

There isn’t much of an advantage in this game, but Seton Hall has that advantage, and it comes from being a hair better in all the key stats.

Our Pick: Seton Hall

 

Clemson vs. New Mexico St.

Could an upper division ACC team lose in the opening round of the tournament to a WAC team?  It most certainly is possible, because New Mexico State has the talent to pull off the upset.  Clemson has a nominal true shooting percentage margin advantage, while the Aggies enjoy an equally tiny R+T Rating advantage when weighted against schedule strength.  If New Mexico State can control the boards and out-rebound CU by four or more, they can win this game.  It’s a close call, but we have to go with the chalk in this one, but you can easily play it the other way.

Our Pick: Clemson

Auburn vs. Charleston

Be forewarned:  Auburn will not advance very far in this tournament, and they are weaker than your typical number four seed.  Because the Tigers saw their lone quality big man, Anfernee McLemore, go down to injury in late February, they are more like a double-digit seed now.  Their size liability is too much to overcome, and the Tigers will actually struggle to put College of Charleston away.

Only because Charleston is weak on the boards, do we have any faith in Auburn getting to the Round of 32.  It most likely will be an ugly win with a lower than expected final score.

Our Pick: Auburn

 

TCU vs. Arizona St. or Syracuse

If Syracuse wins the play-in game like we expect they will, then the Orangemen will be our favorite to advance to the Round of 32, because TCU will not match up well with Syracuse.  If Arizona State beats Syracuse, then TCU becomes our favorite to win this game.  So, wait until the ASU-Syracuse game finishes before making this pick.

Our Pick: Syracuse over TCU or

TCU over Arizona St.

 

Michigan St. vs. Bucknell

Coach Tom Izzo must have made a sigh of relief when he saw that his Spartans drew a finesse team in the first round rather than another sparkplug team like Middle Tennessee State.

The Spartans have nothing to worry about in this game.  Bucknell is a fundamentally-sound team that doesn’t have the roster to compete with the green behemoth.  MSU will play paddy-cake on the backboards getting more offensive rebounds than Bucknell will get defensive rebounds.

You beat Michigan State by forcing the Spartans into making more turnovers than normal, and Bucknell will force considerably less, which means Izzo and company cruise to the next round with a huge pointspread, maybe 25 or more.

Our Pick: Michigan St.

 

Rhode Island vs. Oklahoma

Woe is Oklahoma.  In the first half of the season, they deserved a high seed in this tournament.  But, a team must play both halves of its season, and in the second half, the Sooners did not deserve to earn an NIT bid.  Oklahoma is the weakest Power Conference team in the field at the present time.

Rhode Island has certain big-time assets, but the Rams also have one large liability, which means their stay in this field will be short-lived, either one or two games.

We basically must go with the team that is less mediocre than the opponent, and it is hard to choose here, since both teams wear tournament mediocrity well.

Rhode Island has a negative true shooting percentage margin.  We believe that it takes a positive shooting percentage margin to have a chance to advance in this field.  However, Oklahoma just barely has a positive R+T rating.  It is so low, that we would always pick against a team with an R+T rating of 0.9 with negative rebounding and turnover margins.

Rhode Island should capitalize more on Oklahoma’s R+T weakness than Oklahoma will capitalize on URI’s true shooting percentage margin, but Oklahoma has a superior strength of schedule.  They also have the superstar player that has been known to carry a team from one or two games in tournament play, but seldom any farther.

That takes us back to where we started–this game is a push.  We here on the PiRate ship could not come to a conclusion with a 3-3 vote.  The Captain had to break the tie, and we had to wait for his text saying to go with Oklahoma, because the Sooners have played nothing but tough opponents for two months in the Big 12, while URI has faltered against Power conference teams like Alabama and Nevada.

Our Pick: Oklahoma

 

Duke vs. Iona

This isn’t your father’s Duke team.  Heck, it isn’t even Coach K’s Duke team.  The man that came from the Bob Knight coaching tree where the word “Zone” is the worst four letter word, while the other expletive is a common adjective has been forced to employ that curse word defense in Durham.

Hey, it’s working, and this is why Duke is a serious contender to go all the way to the title!  Coach K has had to carefully find the proper pieces to make the puzzle complete, and Duke could be expected to begin tournament play a bit off.

The Selection Committee gave the Blue Devils a true gift.  Iona should have been a 16-seed, but the bottom of this field is really weak this year.  Somebody had to be a 15-seed, and the Gaels lucked out into avoiding the cursed 16-seed.

It won’t matter much.  The Boys from Durham will be able to work the kinks out while experimenting with new strategies in what amounts to almost a practice game.  Duke has one of the top five R+T ratings in the field, while Iona has a negative R+T rating.  We’d go with most of the 16-seeds over Iona if they played in this round.

Our Pick: Duke

 

There you have our first round picks.  Now, here is how we filled out the rest of our brackets.  Remember, we will preview the games anew in each round.

Round of 32

Virginia over Creighton

Arizona over Kentucky

Tennessee over Loyola (Chi.)

Cincinnati over Texas

Xavier over Missouri

Gonzaga over Ohio St.

Michigan over Houston

North Carolina over Texas A&M

Villanova over Virginia Tech

West Virginia over Wichita St.

Texas Tech over St. Bonaventure

Purdue over Butler

Kansas over Seton Hall

Clemson over Auburn

Michigan St. over Syracuse

Duke over Oklahoma

 

Sweet 16

Virginia over Arizona

Cincinnati over Tennessee

Gonzaga over Xavier

North Carolina over Michigan

Villanova over West Virginia

Purdue over Texas Tech

Kansas over Clemson

Duke over Michigan St.

 

Elite 8

Cincinnati over Virginia

North Carolina over Gonzaga

Villanova over Purdue

Duke over Kansas

 

Final Four

Cincinnati over North Carolina

Duke over Villanova

 

Championship

Duke over Cincinnati

March 9, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 9 , 2018

Today’s PiRate Ratings Spreads For Conference Tournament Games

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

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

Teams Already In The Field of 68

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

Conference Tournaments In Action On Friday

All Times are Eastern Standard

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

March 8, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 8 , 2018

Thursday’s PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament Spreads

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

One Team Earned An Automatic NCAA Tournament Bid on Wednesday

Patriot League Tournament
Bucknell 83 Colgate 54

No Automatic NCAA Tournament Bids Will Be Issued on Thursday

Teams That Have Earned An Automatic NCAA Tournament Bid

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

Conference Tournaments Beginning Today

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conference Tournaments Continuing Today

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 26, 2018

PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus Report for February 26, 2018 & Conference Tourneys

A lot has changed in the week since the Gurus released their bracketology seedings.  However, as of this moment, the Gurus are sticking with normalcy.  Whereas some teams might eventually be declared ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, until it happens, the Gurus are going to keep seeding the teams where their resumes show they should be seeded.  To be more precise, the Gurus are not actually seeding the teams where THEY think they should be seed, but instead they are seeding the teams where they believe THE SELECTION COMMITTEE will seed the teams.  Please make a note of this:  The Gurus are not to blame if your favorite team (hear that Nebraska fans) is not included in the field.  It is plain and simple–The Committee has a set of criteria to select its teams and place them in proper seed lines.  Where a team finishes in its conference and conference record is not even in the criteria.  So, a Cornhusker team that is 13-5 in the Big Ten and tied for fourth with Michigan is not even among the last six teams in the Dance.  Nebraska only scheduled two non-conference opponents this year that could have helped their resume.  Losing at Creighton and losing at home to Kansas is not enough to put the Cornhuskers on the Bubble.  The KU loss was by a single point, but a miss is as good as a mile.  The only win that really helps them is the home win over Michigan.  Thus, if you are a Cornhusker fan, you better hope your team is still playing this Sunday, which would be the Big Ten Championship Game.  It will take wins over Michigan and Michigan State to even put Nebraska on the Bubble, and if Nebraska makes it to the title game without facing both Michigan teams, then they must win the automatic bid with no chance to make the field any other way.  So, Nebraska fans must cheer for Michigan to win Thursday and Michigan State to win Friday, just so your team can have a chance to pick up two Quadrant One wins.

A couple of teams made major moves forward in the Bracketology Gurus seed line this week.  Tennessee moved up to the 3-line with a win over Florida and another at Ole Miss.  The Volunteers now have a chance to win the SEC regular season championship if Auburn falters and loses its final two games (at Arkansas and vs. South Carolina), while the Vols win at Mississippi State and at home against Georgia.  Auburn has lost three of its last six games and has been moderately affected by the injury loss of Anfernee McLemore, who was one of the Tigers’ few talented big men.

Mississippi State is in a similar boat as Nebraska, but the Bulldogs are in better shape.  The Bulldogs are in a third place tie in the SEC and have won 21 games overall, but unless they upset Tennessee in Starkville and then close with a win at LSU, they will have to make it to the Championship Game of the SEC Tournament to have a chance.  Even if MSU finishes with two wins, at 11-7/23-8, they will still need to do some damage in the SEC Tournament.

In the Pac-12, UCLA has collapsed, and the Bruins are now on the outside, looking in.  Utah failed to win a crucial home game against USC after knocking UCLA to the Bubble.  Washington split on the road in the Bay Area, losing at Stanford and winning at Cal, but the Huskies have that win over Kansas at Phog Allen, plus wins against Arizona, Arizona State, and USC, so they are in contention for a bid.  USC made a slight upward move with road wins over Colorado and Utah, giving the Trojans four consecutive victories.  Arizona, most likely with Lorenzo Romar as interim head coach, closes at home with Stanford and Cal, so the Wildcats are likely to edge the Trojans for the top seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, but this is a team that has been wounded and may falter early.

In the ACC, North Carolina State has now won four consecutive games to move to 10-6 in the league.  The Wolf Pack have two winnable games to close out the season, and they could sneak up to the third seed in the ACC Tournament if they get to 12-6.  First year coach Kevin Keatts, who worked the same magic at UNC-Wilmington may be the best overall coach in college basketball, and he should compete with Tony Bennett for ACC COY and National COY.

In the Big East, Butler moved up thanks to home wins over Providence and Creighton, while Seton Hall won twice to earn a three-game winning streak after suffering a four-game losing streak prior.  After a 1-4 slide in conference play, Creighton rebounded with a big win over Villanova.

Middle Tennesse State and Western Kentucky continued winning big in CUSA play, and the two mid-major powers and arch-rivals could be headed to a momentous CUSA Tournament Championship Game where only the winner will be safely in the Dance.  Old Dominion and Marshall cannot be overlooked, but it would be ashamed if neither Middle or Western get in the tournament.  Both have Sweet 16 talent.

Out West, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Nevada, and New Mexico State continued to win, and the first three on this list are locks for the NCAA Tournament.  NMSU might still have an outside chance to get in if they lost in the WAC Tournament, but the Aggies most likely must win the WAC automatic bid.  Grand Canyon, Utah Valley, and Seattle all have enough talent to pull off an upset.

Here is this week’s Bracket Gurus Bracketology Report

Seed Team Conference
1 Villanova B-East
1 Virginia ACC
1 Xavier B-East
1 Kansas B12
2 Duke ACC
2 Auburn SEC
2 North Carolina ACC
2 Michigan St. BTen
3 Purdue BTen
3 Cincinnati AAC
3 Tennessee SEC
3 Texas Tech B12
4 Wichita St. AAC
4 Clemson ACC
4 West Virginia B12
4 Arizona Pac12
5 Ohio St. BTen
5 Kentucky SEC
5 Gonzaga WCC
5 Rhode Island A-10
6 Michigan BTen
6 Houston AAC
6 Seton Hall B-East
6 TCU B12
7 Nevada MWC
7 Texas A&M SEC
7 Arkansas SEC
7 Florida SEC
8 Oklahoma B12
8 Arizona St. Pac12
8 Butler B-East
8 Creighton B-East
9 Florida St. ACC
9 Alabama SEC
9 Missouri SEC
9 Miami (Fla.) ACC
10 North Carolina St. ACC
10 Providence B-East
10 Virginia Tech ACC
10 Saint Mary’s WCC
11 St. Bonaventure A-10
11 Texas B12
11 Middle Tennessee CUSA
11 New Mexico St. WAC
12 Kansas St. B12
12 USC Pac12
12 Washington Pac12
12 Louisville ACC
12 Loyola (Chi.) MVC
12 UL-Lafayette SBC
13 Buffalo MAC
13 South Dakota St. Summ
13 Vermont A-East
13 Murray St. OVC
14 UNC-Greensboro Socon
14 College of Charleston CAA
14 Rider MAAC
14 Bucknell Pat
15 Montana B-Sky
15 UC-Davis B-West
15 Northern Kentucky Horiz
15 Wagner NEC
16 Penn Ivy
16 UNC-Asheville B-Sth
16 Nicholls St. SLC
16 Florida Gulf Coast A-Sun
16 Bethune-Cookman MEAC
16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC

 

Top 6 Out  Conf.
Baylor B12
UCLA Pac12
Syracuse ACC
Utah Pac12
Mississippi St. SEC
Marquette B-East

 

Last 10 Byes (highest to lowest)
Florida St.
Alabama
Missouri
Miami (Fla.)
North Carolina St.
Providence
Virginia Tech
Saint Mary’s
St. Bonaventure
Texas

 

First Four Round
Kansas St. vs. Washington
USC vs. Louisville
 
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Bethune-Cookman
Nicholls St. vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

 

Conference Tournament Action Tips Off Tonight

Championship Fortnight begins tonight, as the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament begins on campus sites.  The A-Sun holds its tournament on the home floors of the higher seeds, so tonight’s quarterfinal round finds four games playing simultaneously.  ESPN3 will carry all four games.

Here is the bracket and schedule for the A-Sun.

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 26
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Florida Gulf Coast #8 USC Upstate ESPN3
7:30 PM #4 NJIT #5 North Florida ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Lipscomb #7 Stetson ESPN3
7:00 PM #3 Jacksonville #6 Kennesaw St. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA FGCU/USCU NJIT/N.Fla. ESPN3
TBA Lipsc./Stetson Jville/Kenn ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
3:00 PM Higher Remaining Seed Lower Remaining Seed ESPN

Florida Gulf Coast (12-2/21-10) is the sexy team in this league, but the Lipscomb Bisons (10-4/20-9) are the hot team.  Lipscomb closed out the regular season on a five-game winning streak, which included a win at FGCU.  Lipscomb’s non-conference schedule was considerably stronger than FGCU, so the Bisons might be able to move up to a 15-seed if they win the automatic bid, while the Eagles and anybody else in the league would be a 16-seed.  If somebody other than the top two wins the tournament, they can book reservations in Dayton for a First Four game.

Eight other leagues begin their conference tournaments between today and Friday.  Here is a look at the brackets and schedules for these conferences.

Big South Conference Tournament
1st Round & Championship Game at Higher Seeds
Quarterfinals and Semfinals at #1 Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #7 High Point #10 Longwood BSN
7:00 PM #8 Charleston Southern #9 Presbyterian BSN
BSN TV at http://bigsouthsports.com    

 

Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #2 Radford High Point or Longwood ESPN3
3:30 PM #3 Winthrop #6 Gardner-Webb ESPN3
7:00 PM #1 UNC-Asheville Presbyterian or Chas Sou. ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 Campbell #5 Liberty ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Rad/HP/Longwood Winthrop/G-Webb ESPN3
8:30 PM UNCA/Presby/Chas Sou Campbell or Liberty ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN

 

Big Ten Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #12 Iowa #13 Illinois Big Ten
7:45 PM #11 Minnesota #14 Rutgers Big Ten
       
Second Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Maryland #9 Wisconsin Big Ten
2:15 PM #5 Michigan Iowa or Illinois Big Ten
6:30 PM #7 Penn St. #10 Northwestern Big Ten
8:45 PM #6 Indiana Minn. or Rutgers Big Ten
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Michigan St. Mary or Wisc Big Ten
2:15 PM #4 Nebraska Mich/Iowa/Ill Big Ten
6:30 PM #2 Ohio St. PSU or N’Western Big Ten
8:45 PM #3 Purdue Ind/Minn/Rutg Big Ten
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM MSU/Mary/Wisc Neb/Mich/Iowa/Ill CBS
4:30 PM OSU/Purd/NW Purd/Ind/Minn/Rutg CBS
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:30 PM     CBS

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Albany, NY
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #8 Monmouth #9 St. Peter’s ESPN3
7:30 PM #7 Quinnipiac #10 Siena ESPN3
10:00 PM #6 Fairfield #11 Marist ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Rider Monmouth or St. Peter’s ESPN3
9:30 PM #2 Canisius Quinn. or Siena ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #3 Niagara Fair. or Marist ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 Iona #5 Manhattan ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Rider/Monm/St. P Iona or Manhattan ESPN3
9:30 PM Can/Quinn/Siena Niag/Fair/Marist ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

 

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
St. Louis (Arch Madness)
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 Evansville #9 Northern Iowa ESPN3
8:30 PM #7 Missouri St. #10 Valparaiso ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Loyola (Chi.) Evansville or UNI ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 Drake #5 Bradley ESPN3
6:00 PM #2 Southern Illinois MSU or Valpo ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 Illinois St. #6 Indiana St. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM Loyola/Evans/UNI Drake or Bradley CBSSN
5:00 PM SIU/MSU/Valpo Ill St. or Ind St. CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

 

Northeast Conference Tournament
All Games at Higher Seed
Top 8 Teams Qualify and Tournament Re-seeds after Quarterfinals
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 28
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Wagner #8 Central Connecticut NEC *
7:00 PM #2 Mount St. Mary’s #7 Robert Morris NEC *
7:00 PM #3 St. Francis (PA) #6 Fairleigh-Dickinson NEC *
7:00 PM #4 Long Island #5 St. Francis (Bkn) NEC *
* NEC Front Row at http://necfrontrow.com/
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Home Team Visitors TV
12:00 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
2:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN2

 

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Evansville, IN
Top 8 Teams Qualify, Southeast Missouri ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #5 Tennessee Tech #8 SIU-Edwardsville OVC
9:00 PM #6 Tennessee St. #7 Eastern Illinois OVC
OVC Network at http://www.ovcdigitalnetwork.com/watch
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 Jacksonville St. Tenn Tech or SIU-E OVC
9:00 PM #3 Austin Peay TSU or EIU OVC
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Murray St. JSU/TTU/SIU-E ESPNU
9:30 PM #2 Belmont APSU/TSU/EIU ESPNU
       
Championship–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

 

Patriot League Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #7 Lafayette #10 American Stadium
7:00 PM #8 Loyola (MD) #9 Army Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Bucknell Loyola or Army Stadium
7:00 PM #4 Lehigh #5 Boston U Stadium
7:00 PM #2 Colgate Lafayette or American Stadium
7:00 PM #3 Navy #6 Holy Cross Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
12/2 Bucknell/Loyola/Army Lehigh or Boston U CBSSN
12/2 Colgate/Lafayette/American Navy or Holy Cross CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

 

Southern Conference Tournament
Asheville, NC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #8 The Citadel #9 VMI ESPN3
7:30 PM #7 Samford #10 Chattanooga ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 UNC-Greensboro Citadel or VMI ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 Mercer #5 Wofford ESPN3
6:00 PM #2 East Tennessee St. Samford or Chatt. ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 Furman #6 Western Carolina ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM UNCG/Cit/VMI Mercer or Wofford ESPN3
6:30 PM ETSU/Sam/Chatt Furman or WCU ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 Loyola Marymount #9 Portland NBCSN
8:00 PM #7 Santa Clara #10 Pepperdine NBCSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #3 BYU #6 San Diego NBCSN
3:00 PM #4 San Francisco #5 Pacific NBCSN
7:00 PM #1 Gonzaga LMU or Portland ESPN2
9:00 PM #2 Saint Mary’s Santa Clara or Pepperdine ESPN2
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Gonz/LMU/Portland USF or Pacific ESPN
8:00 PM SMU/SCU/Pepperdine BYU or USD ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM     ESPN

All conference tournament brackets will be updated the morning after any conference games have been played. Check back here for up-to-date schedules and tip times.

 

 

 

 

 

February 23, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for February 23-25, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:36 am

Note: In case you haven’t heard, Yahoo Sports has released information concerning the FBI’s probe of college basketball, naming names and teams.  Go to Yahoo Sports to read the article.

The article casts a shadow over the impending March Madness and whether players and even teams may be declared ineligible or run the risk of having the entire Final Four vacated if four implicated teams make the semifinals.

Until there is definite news on who will and will not be allowed to participate in the NCAA Tournament, the PiRate Ratings will continue to rate the teams as if nothing has affected the tournament.  Our Bracket Gurus report that runs on Monday afternoons will continue to include all teams that are eligible of this moment.  Our ratings will remain the same until players are removed from rosters.

 

In the PiRate Rating’s world, we have made a bit of a change this week.  The Mountain West Conference has reverted back to a one bid league for now as Boise State has fallen back in the Bubble race.  At the same time, St. Bonaventure has now moved into the projected field, giving the Atlantic 10 Conference multiple projected bids.  Thus, we have added the A-10 to our ratings list of power conferences and removed the MWC and returned it to mid-major.

We have retained Nevada and Boise State in the ratings of top mid-majors.

Also note that the first postseason conference tournament bracket has been decided.  The Atlantic Sun Conference begins tournament action Monday night, and you can see the bracket for this game at the conclusion of the spreads and ratings.

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads for Power Conferences and top Mid-Majors

Friday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Rhode Island Dayton 13.8
Indiana Ohio St. 3.0
Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
South Florida Tulane -6.5
SMU Wichita St. -3.7
VCU St. Bonaventure -2.6
Duquesne Davidson -7.1
Fordham LaSalle -3.8
George Mason Massachusetts 2.0
Richmond St. Joseph’s -0.3
St. Louis George Washington 6.8
Virginia Tech Louisville 3.8
Miami (Fla.) Boston College 8.8
Clemson Georgia Tech 14.2
Wake Forest Notre Dame -2.8
Pittsburgh Virginia -21.1
Duke Syracuse 15.8
TCU Baylor 4.8
Texas Oklahoma St. 6.3
Texas Tech Kansas 2.1
West Virginia Iowa St. 14.9
Oklahoma Kansas St. 4.9
DePaul Marquette -3.2
Georgetown Providence 1.2
St. John’s Seton Hall -1.4
Creighton Villanova -6.0
Maryland Michigan 1.7
Utah USC 1.9
California Washington -5.2
Stanford Washington St. 10.6
Oregon St. Arizona St. -4.2
Oregon Arizona -1.5
Ole Miss Tennessee -5.8
Georgia LSU 2.2
Mississippi St. South Carolina 6.4
Vanderbilt Texas A&M -1.9
Alabama Arkansas 2.4
Kentucky Missouri 5.3
Florida Auburn 0.1
Loyola Marymount Pacific -1.4
Saint Mary’s Santa Clara 21.6
BYU Gonzaga -5.0
Pepperdine Portland 1.1
San Francisco San Diego 2.3
Austin Peay Murray St. -6.0
Buffalo Ohio 11.3
East Tennessee St. Wofford 9.3
Loyola (Chi.) Illinois St. 11.7
Middle Tennessee UAB 9.6
New Mexico St. UMKC 17.0
South Alabama Louisiana-Lafayette -9.6
Stony Brook Vermont -9.5
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Cincinnati Tulsa 19.1
Temple Central Florida 4.7
Houston East Carolina 23.8
Connecticut Memphis 2.0
North Carolina St. Florida St. 0.5
Wisconsin Michigan St. -9.5
Rutgers Illinois -0.1
Purdue Minnesota 18.5
Nebraska Penn St. -0.2
Iowa Northwestern 1.6
Nevada Colorado St. 20.6
Colorado UCLA -3.2

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 121.7 BIGE
2 Duke 120.5 ACC
3 Purdue 119.6 BTEN
4 Virginia 119.4 ACC
5 Michigan St. 119.4 BTEN
6 Cincinnati 118.0 AAC
7 North Carolina 116.7 ACC
8 Kansas 116.7 B12
9 West Virginia 115.8 B12
10 Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
11 Texas Tech 115.3 B12
12 Xavier 115.1 BIGE
13 Auburn 115.1 SEC
14 Wichita St. 114.7 AAC
15 Tennessee 113.6 SEC
16 Ohio St. 113.5 BTEN
17 TCU 112.9 B12
18 Clemson 112.9 ACC
19 Butler 112.8 BIGE
20 Arizona 112.8 PAC12
21 Michigan 112.7 BTEN
22 Creighton 112.2 BIGE
23 Kentucky 112.2 SEC
24 Nevada 112.1 MWC
25 Florida St. 112.0 ACC

PiRate Ratings By Power Conference

Team PiRate Conf.
Rhode Island 111.1 A10
Davidson 108.6 A10
St. Bonaventure 107.4 A10
VCU 101.3 A10
St. Louis 100.8 A10
Dayton 100.8 A10
St. Joseph’s 100.5 A10
LaSalle 99.8 A10
Duquesne 98.0 A10
George Washington 97.5 A10
Massachusetts 97.3 A10
Richmond 97.2 A10
George Mason 96.3 A10
Fordham 93.0 A10
Cincinnati 118.0 AAC
Wichita St. 114.7 AAC
Houston 111.8 AAC
SMU 107.5 AAC
Temple 105.4 AAC
UCF 104.2 AAC
Tulsa 102.4 AAC
Memphis 100.3 AAC
Tulane 99.5 AAC
Connecticut 99.3 AAC
East Carolina 91.5 AAC
South Florida 90.0 AAC
Duke 120.5 ACC
Virginia 119.4 ACC
North Carolina 116.7 ACC
Clemson 112.9 ACC
Florida St. 112.0 ACC
Virginia Tech 111.4 ACC
Notre Dame 111.1 ACC
Louisville 111.1 ACC
Miami FL 110.8 ACC
North Carolina St. 109.0 ACC
Syracuse 108.7 ACC
Boston College 105.5 ACC
Wake Forest 105.3 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.2 ACC
Pittsburgh 95.3 ACC
Kansas 116.7 B12
West Virginia 115.8 B12
Texas Tech 115.3 B12
TCU 112.9 B12
Baylor 111.1 B12
Oklahoma 111.0 B12
Texas 110.3 B12
Kansas St. 109.6 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.5 B12
Iowa St. 104.9 B12
Villanova 121.7 BIGE
Xavier 115.1 BIGE
Butler 112.8 BIGE
Creighton 112.2 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.3 BIGE
Marquette 109.6 BIGE
Providence 106.9 BIGE
St. John’s 106.9 BIGE
Georgetown 104.6 BIGE
DePaul 103.4 BIGE
Purdue 119.6 BTEN
Michigan St. 119.4 BTEN
Ohio St. 113.5 BTEN
Michigan 112.7 BTEN
Penn St. 111.5 BTEN
Maryland 110.9 BTEN
Nebraska 107.8 BTEN
Indiana 107.0 BTEN
Wisconsin 106.4 BTEN
Northwestern 106.4 BTEN
Iowa 105.0 BTEN
Minnesota 104.6 BTEN
Illinois 104.4 BTEN
Rutgers 101.3 BTEN
Arizona 112.8 PAC12
Arizona St. 110.7 PAC12
USC 109.4 PAC12
UCLA 108.7 PAC12
Oregon 107.8 PAC12
Utah 107.8 PAC12
Stanford 104.4 PAC12
Washington 103.5 PAC12
Oregon St. 103.0 PAC12
Colorado 102.0 PAC12
Washington St. 97.3 PAC12
California 94.8 PAC12
Auburn 115.1 SEC
Tennessee 113.6 SEC
Kentucky 112.2 SEC
Florida 111.7 SEC
Texas A&M 111.2 SEC
Arkansas 111.0 SEC
Missouri 110.4 SEC
Alabama 109.9 SEC
Mississippi St. 108.8 SEC
LSU 107.8 SEC
Georgia 106.5 SEC
South Carolina 105.9 SEC
Vanderbilt 105.8 SEC
Mississippi 104.8 SEC
Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
Saint Mary’s 111.5 WCC
BYU 106.4 WCC
San Diego 101.0 WCC
San Francisco 100.3 WCC
Pacific 98.6 WCC
Loyola Marymount 94.2 WCC
Santa Clara 92.9 WCC
Portland 92.9 WCC
Pepperdine 91.0 WCC

PiRate Ratings For Key Mid-Majors

Nevada 112.1 MWC
Boise St. 108.8 MWC
Middle Tennessee 108.6 CUSA
Louisiana Lafayette 108.5 SBC
Loyola (Chi.) 108.3 MVC
Western Kentucky 107.3 CUSA
New Mexico St. 107.2 WAC
Murray St. 106.4 OVC

Conference Tournament Bracket

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 26
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Florida Gulf Coast #8 USC Upstate ESPN3
7:30 PM #4 NJIT #5 North Florida ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Lipscomb #7 Stetson ESPN3
7:00 PM #3 Jacksonville #6 Kennesaw St. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA FGCU/USCU NJIT/N.Fla. ESPN3
TBA Lipsc./Stetson Jville/Kenn ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
3:00 PM Higher Remaining Seed Lower Remaining Seed ESPN

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 19, 2018

PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus Report for February 19, 2018

An interesting weekend of basketball following an interesting mid-week schedule only could move the needle a little bit in our Gurus’ minds.  Only a couple teams moved into the field replacing a couple of others, while the seed lines saw minimal movement.

Some conferences will wrap up regular season play by the end of the week, and the first conference tournaments will commence next week.  Once the first conference tournaments conclude, we will begin to update our bracketology daily, as long as our 14 gurus continue to supply their picks to us daily.

Our gurus were the best in the nation last year, as they correctly picked the entire 68-team field on the morning of Selection Sunday.

Our Gurus are using the same data and statistics available to the Selection Committee.  Each of the 14 independently sends us his/her (12 his’s and 2 her’s) 68 teams with seeds.

We then calculate the average in a multiple step manner.

  1. For every at-large team that is not on one of the gurus’ rosters, we give them a seed of 20, as a punishment for not being included.  So, if 10 gurus list State U as the 12 seed, while four gurus do not include State U, then State U receives a score of 200 (12 x 10) + (4 x 20).
  2. Each team is given a score, and the lowest X number of scores get in the field.
  3. Many automatic qualifiers from one bid leagues have higher scores than some of the at-large teams.  Since one team must go from each league, we eliminate the highest qualifying scores to accommodate these automatic qualifiers.
  4. The gurus do not always agree on which automatic qualifier to put for the one-bid leagues.  We go with the majority.  For instance, this week 9 gurus listed Murray State to represent the Ohio Valley Conference, while 5 gurus listed Belmont.  We chose Murray St.  In the rare instance of a tie, like we had this week with Savannah State and North Carolina A&T in the MEAC, we went with Savannah State, because they have the higher PiRate Rating this week.
  5. The four at-large qualifiers with the highest scores (lower scores are better) become the First Four teams that are seeded to play in Dayton.  The four automatic qualifiers with the highest scores are the four #16-seed teams that get seeded to play in Dayton.
  6. In the event that we do not receive a report from one or two gurus, we will go with what we have.  If the number ever drops under 10, then the members of the PiRate Ratings substitute with our own picks.  Otherwise, the PiRates do not have a vote in this report.

Here are this week’s Bracketology Gurus’ Picks

Seed Team Conference
1 Villanova B-East
1 Virginia ACC
1 Xavier B-East
1 Kansas B12
2 Duke ACC
2 Auburn SEC
2 Purdue BTen
2 North Carolina ACC
3 Michigan St. BTen
3 Texas Tech B12
3 Cincinnati AAC
3 Clemson ACC
4 Arizona Pac12
4 Tennessee SEC
4 West Virginia B12
4 Wichita St. AAC
5 Ohio St. BTen
5 Gonzaga WCC
5 Rhode Island A-10
5 Texas A&M SEC
6 Kentucky SEC
6 Oklahoma B12
6 Arizona St. Pac12
6 Missouri SEC
7 Alabama SEC
7 Michigan BTen
7 Houston AAC
7 Creighton B-East
8 Arkansas SEC
8 Nevada MWC
8 Florida St. ACC
8 Seton Hall B-East
9 Florida SEC
9 TCU B12
9 Butler B-East
9 Miami (Fla.) ACC
10 Providence B-East
10 Saint Mary’s WCC
10 Texas B12
10 North Carolina St. ACC
11 Virginia Tech ACC
11 Baylor B12
11 Middle Tennessee CUSA
11 New Mexico St. WAC
12 Loyola (Chi.) MVC
12 Buffalo MAC
12 Kansas St. B12
12 UCLA Pac12
12 St. Bonaventure A-10
12 Syracuse ACC
13 South Dakota St. Summ
13 UL-Lafayette SBC
13 Vermont A-East
13 East Tennessee St. Socon
14 Murray St. OVC
14 Northeastern CAA
14 Rider MAAC
14 UCSB B-West
15 Bucknell Pat
15 Montana B-Sky
15 Northern Kentucky Horiz
15 Penn Ivy
16 Wagner NEC
16 Nicholls St. SLC
16 Florida Gulf Coast A-Sun
16 Winthrop B-Sth
16 Savannah St. MEAC
16 Arkansas-Pine Bluff SWAC

The Bubble

The Last 10 In with Byes–in order of better to worse.

Florida

TCU

Butler

Miami (Fla.)

Providence

Saint Mary’s

Texas

North Carolina St.

Virginia Tech

Baylor

The Last 4 In & Headed to Dayton

Kansas St.

UCLA

St. Bonaventure

Syracuse

The Next 6 in Contention (or the only other teams that received votes)

Washington

Louisville

USC

LSU

Marquette

Utah

9 Teams That Could Still Play Themselves Into An At-Large Spot

*** Alphabetically ***

Boise St.

Georgia

Maryland

Mississippi St.

Nebraska

Old Dominion

Penn St.

Temple

Western Kentucky

 

An Update on PiRate Ratings Criteria in the Big Dance

If you have followed us this year, you might have read where we have done a remodel on our PiRate Rating Criteria in grading teams for their Big Dance talents.  We have simplified a great deal of the data to where a few things make up a majority of our criteria.

A. Our own Pirate Ratings R+T Rating, which is a measure of a teams ability to obtain extra scoring opportunities and prevent the opponent from getting extra scoring opportunities.  The higher the R+T rating, the more likely a team will get crucial points when the game is on the line or to put a game out of reach.  The formula for R+T Rating is:

(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T, where

R = Rebounding Margin

S = Average Steals per Game

T  = Turnover Margin

Steals are worth more than other turnovers, so they get extra weight in this formula, basically being counted twice since every time a defense steals the ball, it creates a turnover for the other team.

B. Strength of Schedule, as it is obvious that a team playing a schedule of Quadrant 4 games will easily put up incredible numbers versus a team playing a schedule of Quadrant 1 and 2 games.

C. Field Goal Percentage Margin, as the goal of the game is to put the ball in the basket and prevent the other team from doing the same.

Any game can basically be broken down into shooting percentages and scoring opportunities.  The strength of schedule comes in handy when trying to handicap the stats between two teams.  If Team A has a FG% margin of 7.2%, an R+T Rating of 15.4, and has a strength of schedule of 59.3 (50 is average, 60 is tough), and Team B has a FG% margin of 9.8%, an R+T Rating of 16.8, and a strength of schedule of 48.3, then Team A would be expected to win by a decent amount, even though Team B’s stats are a little better.

Aside from the actual numbers in the Data for FG% Margin and the components of the R+T, we also look for consistency.

Let’s look at two teams: Michigan State and Cincinnati

Michigan State has a FG% margin of 15.3%, which ranks as the best in the nation.  Cincinnati’s FG% margin is in the top 10% in the NCAA at  8.3%.

Michigan State has a rebound margin of 10.8, which is in the top 10 nationally, while Cincinnati’s rebound margin is in the top 20 nationally at 8.2%.

Michigan State averages just 4.2 steals per game versus 6.2 for their opponents, while Cincinnati averages 7.7 steals per game versus 5.1 for their opponents.

Michigan State’s turnover margin is -3.1, which is the Spartans’ weakness.  Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s turnover margin is 3.5, which is in the top 50 nationally.

Michigan State’s R+T Rating is 20.3, and their strength of schedule is 57.7, a tough one.  Cincinnati’s R+T Rating is 24.7, and their strength of schedule is 54.9, 2.8 points per game weaker than the Spartans.

The stats are indicative of a toss-up game in the NCAA Tournament.  This would most likely be a Regional Final Game for a trip to the Final Four.  This is how we’d look at this game.

Michigan State would win the battle on the boards, but nothing like how they normally do.  The advantage would minimal.

Cincinnati would force some turnovers on MSU and convert these into points, but Michigan State would have the better half-court offense against Cincinnati’s half-court defense as opposed to Cinti’s offense vs. Sparty’s defense.

The game would probably come down to the last two minutes, where the team with the better clutch players would be expected to win.

It is better to have consistency in all numbers than to be extremely high in most but with one glaring weakness, so for now Michigan State would not be expected to get to the Final Four (that could change based on their bracket).  We look for what we call “Complete Teams.”  A complete team may not be the top in any category, but they are among the top 15% in every category.  We are looking for Willie Mays and not Mark McGwire.

To be a complete team, a team needs to meet this criteria:

  1. A FG% margin of 7.5%  or better
  2. A Rebounding margin of 3.5 or better
  3. Better than 7.5 steals per game
  4. Less than 6.0 opponent steals per game
  5. A positive turnover margin
  6. An R+T Rating over 15.0
  7. A strength of schedule better than 55.5 (almost always a power conference)

When you spot a team with all six characteristics, this team is going to be tough in the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s look at the leading power conference teams as well as some of the top mid-majors.

Team Reb. Stl. Opp Stl. TO R+T FG% DIff SOS
Alabama 0.4 6.7 6.4 -0.3 3.5 6.3 59.0
Arizona 6.9 5.0 6.0 0.3 16.6 7.5 56.5
Arizona St. 0.1 6.8 5.2 4.1 8.5 3.3 56.0
Arkansas -0.6 6.6 4.8 3.2 6.5 5.7 58.4
Auburn 2.2 4.0 7.4 6.4 11.4 3.0 57.0
Cincinnati 8.2 7.7 5.1 3.5 24.7 8.3 54.9
Clemson 2.4 6.1 5.9 0.2 8.2 4.6 58.6
Creighton 3.7 5.4 6.1 0.5 10.5 7.0 58.4
Duke 9.5 7.2 5.4 -0.4 22.8 9.7 60.1
Florida -1.1 6.9 4.7 4.0 6.6 0.2 59.4
Florida St. 4.1 6.8 6.0 1.6 13.2 5.9 57.2
Gonzaga 9.2 6.8 5.1 1.2 23.9 9.2 52.7
Houston 7.4 6.5 5.3 0.9 19.7 7.2 54.2
Kansas -0.5 6.7 5.5 2.0 4.9 7.1 60.5
Kentucky 5.2 5.6 6.0 -1.5 11.7 5.4 60.0
Miami (Fla.) 1.5 6.7 5.7 1.8 8.5 4.5 56.5
Michigan 1.1 6.3 4.2 4.1 11.3 3.4 57.2
Michigan St. 10.8 4.2 6.3 -3.1 20.3 15.3 57.7
Missouri 4.8 5.3 6.5 -3.0 8.8 5.9 58.8
Nevada 1.0 6.3 4.5 2.6 9.3 4.6 54.5
North Carolina 11.7 5.3 6.1 -0.6 25.4 4.5 61.5
Ohio St. 5.6 6.1 5.0 0.6 15.9 6.9 58.1
Oklahoma 1.3 6.7 6.8 -0.4 4.8 2.9 61.2
Purdue 2.4 6.1 5.2 1.9 10.6 8.9 59.1
Rhode Island 1.3 7.6 5.6 5.2 12.0 1.8 53.6
Saint Mary’s 5.4 4.6 5.4 0.2 13.9 7.5 50.8
Seton Hall 4.3 6.6 6.0 0.2 12.1 3.0 58.6
TCU 6.4 6.8 6.0 0.3 16.5 4.2 59.3
Tennessee 1.7 6.7 5.7 2.0 9.1 2.7 60.7
Texas A&M 6.9 5.9 6.5 -2.7 13.6 5.8 60.7
Texas Tech 4.4 8.1 5.9 3.4 16.4 7.6 58.2
Villanova 2.4 6.6 4.6 3.0 12.5 7.4 59.9
Virginia 2.7 7.2 4.0 4.8 15.8 8.3 59.8
West Virginia 3.9 8.4 5.6 5.7 18.1 1.7 59.4
Wichita St. 10.3 4.7 6.0 0.3 23.3 7.0 55.8
Xavier 6.6 5.7 6.7 -1.2 14.2 6.8 59.8
Buffalo 1.6 6.4 5.7 1.3 8.0 3.8 50.4
East Tennessee St. 5.2 7.7 6.2 1.3 15.4 7.4 48.1
Louisiana-Lafayette 7.2 7.7 6.0 1.4 19.7 4.5 49.2
Loyola (Chi.) 1.9 6.4 6.5 0.4 6.9 10.0 50.2
Middle Tennessee 6.3 6.3 5.5 1.0 17.3 3.6 53.4
Nevada 1.0 6.3 4.5 2.6 9.3 4.2 54.5
New Mexico St. 8.1 5.6 4.6 1.4 21.8 6.0 50.8
South Dakota St. 3.6 5.3 5.0 0.6 11.5 4.2 49.8
Vermont 4.5 3.9 5.4 0.2 11.8 5.0 49.9

Did you notice that Texas Tech is listed in Bold Font?  At the present time, the Red Raiders are the only Division 1 team that qualifies as a “Complete Team.”  If they can keep this rating by Selection Sunday, they might be a sleeper to make the Final Four.  TTU plays Kansas on Saturday.

Cincinnati misses out on complete team status by the thinnest of margins.  Their strength of schedule is 54.9, just a tenth of a point off the minimum criteria.

Virginia is another team that just misses complete team status.  The Cavs fall three-tenths of a steal shy.

Remember–The Atlantic Sun Tournament begins play one week from tonight.  Florida Gulf Coast has secured the top seed and is guaranteed to be the home team in any game it plays, but Lipscomb is now almost a co-favorite to win the A-Sun Tournament.  The Bisons beat FGCU in Fort Myers this weekend, and they are the hottest team in the league.

February 16, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for February 16-18, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:25 am

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads

Spreads For Multi-Bid Conferences and Top Mid & Low Majors

Friday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
St. Bonaventure Rhode Island 0.6
Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Central Florida SMU -0.7
Tulane Memphis 2.7
Miami (Fla.) Syracuse 6.2
Georgia Tech Virginia Tech -5.1
Boston College Notre Dame -0.9
Wake Forest North Carolina St. 0.3
Louisville North Carolina 0.0
Oklahoma Texas 5.7
Kansas St. Iowa St. 7.5
Kansas West Virginia 3.9
Baylor Texas Tech -1.1
TCU Oklahoma St. 8.3
Butler Providence 8.0
Xavier Villanova -4.0
Creighton Marquette 8.0
Northwestern Michigan St. -9.4
Iowa Indiana 0.9
Maryland Rutgers 12.6
Boise St. Air Force 17.8
San Diego St. UNLV 3.9
Wyoming San Jose St. 15.1
Utah St. Nevada -8.1
Fresno St. Colorado St. 13.9
Washington Colorado 3.7
Washington St. Utah -7.5
UCLA Oregon 4.9
USC Oregon St. 9.5
LSU Missouri 0.4
Kentucky Alabama 4.4
South Carolina Auburn -6.4
Arkansas Texas A&M 2.7
Vanderbilt Florida -3.2
Georgia Tennessee -4.4
Mississippi St. Ole Miss 6.3
San Diego BYU -3.4
San Francisco Loyola Marymount 8.8
Gonzaga Pepperdine 29.2
Portland Saint Mary’s -16.1
Pacific Santa Clara 10.0
Louisiana Tech Middle Tennessee -3.8
Rice Western Kentucky -12.2
Murray St. Tennessee Tech 14.1
Louisiana-Lafayette Texas-Arlington 10.3
Seattle New Mexico St. -8.0
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
East Carolina Connecticut -4.7
Tulsa South Florida 15.9
Cincinnati Wichita St. 7.3
Temple Houston -2.2
Clemson Duke -3.1
Florida St. Pittsburgh 20.7
Seton Hall DePaul 11.4
Michigan Ohio St. 2.0
Illinois Nebraska -0.7
Purdue Penn St. 11.9
California Stanford -6.4
Evansville Loyola (Chi.) -5.9

PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 120.5 BIGE
2 Purdue 119.9 BTEN
3 Duke 119.8 ACC
4 Virginia 119.6 ACC
5 Michigan St. 119.4 BTEN
6 Cincinnati 118.5 AAC
7 North Carolina 116.1 ACC
8 Gonzaga 116.0 WCC
9 Kansas 116.0 B12
10 Texas Tech 116.0 B12
11 West Virginia 115.6 B12
12 Auburn 115.2 SEC
13 Wichita St. 114.7 AAC
14 Tennessee 114.1 SEC
15 Creighton 113.4 BIGE
16 Ohio St. 113.4 BTEN
17 Clemson 113.2 ACC
18 Xavier 113.0 BIGE
19 Arizona 112.8 PAC12
20 Nevada 112.5 MWC
21 TCU 112.4 B12
22 Texas A&M 112.4 SEC
23 Florida St. 112.3 ACC
24 Oklahoma 112.2 B12
25 Louisville 112.1 ACC

PiRate Ratings By Power Conferences

Team PiRate Conf.
Cincinnati 118.5 AAC
Wichita St. 114.7 AAC
Houston 111.5 AAC
SMU 107.6 AAC
Temple 105.8 AAC
UCF 103.9 AAC
Tulsa 102.3 AAC
Memphis 99.7 AAC
Tulane 99.4 AAC
Connecticut 99.4 AAC
East Carolina 91.7 AAC
South Florida 89.9 AAC
Duke 119.8 ACC
Virginia 119.6 ACC
North Carolina 116.1 ACC
Clemson 113.2 ACC
Florida St. 112.3 ACC
Louisville 112.1 ACC
Miami FL 111.0 ACC
Notre Dame 110.7 ACC
Virginia Tech 110.6 ACC
North Carolina St. 108.3 ACC
Syracuse 108.3 ACC
Boston College 106.3 ACC
Wake Forest 105.6 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.5 ACC
Pittsburgh 95.1 ACC
Kansas 116.0 B12
Texas Tech 116.0 B12
West Virginia 115.6 B12
TCU 112.4 B12
Oklahoma 112.2 B12
Baylor 111.4 B12
Texas 110.0 B12
Kansas St. 109.1 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.6 B12
Iowa St. 105.1 B12
Villanova 120.5 BIGE
Creighton 113.4 BIGE
Xavier 113.0 BIGE
Butler 112.0 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.3 BIGE
Marquette 108.9 BIGE
Providence 107.5 BIGE
St. John’s 107.1 BIGE
Georgetown 104.9 BIGE
DePaul 103.4 BIGE
Purdue 119.9 BTEN
Michigan St. 119.4 BTEN
Ohio St. 113.4 BTEN
Michigan 111.9 BTEN
Penn St. 111.5 BTEN
Maryland 110.7 BTEN
Nebraska 107.8 BTEN
Indiana 107.1 BTEN
Northwestern 107.0 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.9 BTEN
Iowa 105.0 BTEN
Minnesota 104.8 BTEN
Illinois 104.1 BTEN
Rutgers 101.6 BTEN
Nevada 112.5 MWC
Boise St. 108.0 MWC
San Diego St. 106.8 MWC
Fresno St. 106.5 MWC
UNLV 106.4 MWC
New Mexico 102.1 MWC
Wyoming 101.9 MWC
Utah St. 100.9 MWC
Colorado St. 96.1 MWC
Air Force 93.7 MWC
San Jose St. 90.3 MWC
Arizona 112.8 PAC12
Arizona St. 110.8 PAC12
USC 109.2 PAC12
UCLA 108.7 PAC12
Oregon 107.8 PAC12
Utah 107.7 PAC12
Stanford 104.2 PAC12
Oregon St. 103.2 PAC12
Washington 103.1 PAC12
Colorado 102.9 PAC12
Washington St. 97.2 PAC12
California 94.8 PAC12
Auburn 115.2 SEC
Tennessee 114.1 SEC
Texas A&M 112.4 SEC
Florida 111.8 SEC
Kentucky 111.3 SEC
Arkansas 111.1 SEC
Missouri 110.7 SEC
Alabama 110.4 SEC
Mississippi St. 107.8 SEC
LSU 107.6 SEC
Georgia 106.2 SEC
Vanderbilt 105.6 SEC
South Carolina 105.3 SEC
Mississippi 104.5 SEC
Gonzaga 116.0 WCC
Saint Mary’s 112.0 WCC
BYU 106.9 WCC
San Diego 100.5 WCC
San Francisco 100.0 WCC
Pacific 99.4 WCC
Loyola Marymount 94.2 WCC
Portland 92.9 WCC
Santa Clara 92.4 WCC
Pepperdine 90.3 WCC

Top Mid-Major and Low-Major Teams

Rhode Island 111.5 A10
Middle Tennessee 108.2 CUSA
Western Kentucky 106.7 CUSA
Loyola Chicago 107.4 MVC
Murray St. 106.4 OVC
Louisiana Lafayette 108.3 SB
South Dakota 106.8 Sum
New Mexico St. 108.4 WAC

Great TV Watching Options This Weekend

Once again, another great schedule of games allows college basketball fans some excellent viewing options.  Beginning tonight (Friday) at 7:00 PM Eastern Time, St. Bonaventure hosts Rhode Island.  The game will air on ESPN2.  The Bonnies (9-4/19-6) are tied for second place in the Atlantic 10 still have a remote chance to receive an at-large bid, and any chance would necessitate a win over URI.

Saturday’s great slate of games begins at 12 Noon Eastern Time.  Oklahoma hosts Texas on ESPN; Butler hosts Providence on Fox; and Miami hosts Syracuse on CBS.

At 4 PM EST, one of the best games of the day could be Arkansas hosting Texas A&M on ESPN.  At 4:30 PM EST, the Big East regular season title could be decided when Xavier hosts Villanova on Fox.  The winner should remain a number one seed on Monday.

At 6 PM EST, Kansas hosts West Virginia on ESPN.  The loser of this game will probably be eliminated from the Big 12 regular season race, while the winner will become Texas Tech’s key rival.

At 7 PM EST, Florida Gulf Coast hosts Lipscomb on ESPN3.  FGCU has already clinched the top seed in the Atlantic Sun, while Lipscomb is currently number two.  The significance here is that FGCU will host the A-Sun Tournament, so it will be interesting to see if the second best team in the league can compete with them on the same floor.

At 7:30 PM EST on ESPNU, Baylor hosts Texas Tech.  TTU has a chance to gain a game on one of the two nearest contenders (KU-WVU), but if the Red Raiders lose, then they will lose a game to the winner of that other game.  Baylor is actually the hottest team in the Big 12, and a win here would give the Bears a great upward move in the Bubble.

At 8:15 PM EST, Louisville host North Carolina on ESPN.  The winner has a chance to move up to number two in the ACC by the end of the weekend, while the loser could fall down in the standings as far as ninth place.

At 10:15 PM EST on ESPN, UCLA hosts Oregon.  Both teams are currently Bubble teams, so the winner will start the new week in good shape, while the loser will be facing some must win games.

Sunday presents additional excellent viewing options.  It starts at 1 PM EST, with two excellent Power Conference games.  Rivals Michigan and Ohio State square off in Ann Arbor in a game televised by CBS.  At the same time, Clemson hosts Duke on the ACC Network.

At 2 PM EST on ESPN3, it might not sound like a big game, but the Vermont-Hartford game in Burlington might be one to consider watching.  UVA is 12-0 in the America East Conference and will most likely host the conference tournament.  Hartford is one of three teams with enough talent to pull off an upset.

The top game of the day tips off at 4 PM EST, when Cincinnati hosts Wichita State.  This will be a battle of two aggressive, defense-dominant teams.  Cinti fell at Houston Thursday night, while the Shockers had to come from behind to beat Temple.  Seeding will be on the line in this one.

Finally, at 8 PM EST on the Big Ten Network, Penn State visits Purdue.  The Nittany Lions roared big time in a Thursday night blowout against Ohio State.  If Penn State pulls off the upset Sunday, that will give them two Quadrant 1 wins in a row, and that will certainly place Penn State in the heat of the discussion.  Purdue must win this game to remain in contention for a number one seed.

 

 

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