The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 13, 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament Play-in and Second Round Game Previews

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:35 am

All over the country, you can feel the symptoms coming on.  By Tuesday afternoon, millions of Americans will start to feel a little run down.  By Thursday morning, millions will call in sick with that mysterious illness that strikes every March.  Yes, March Madness Syndrome is about to hit epidemic proportions again.

 

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  If you are unfamiliar with PiRate Bracketnomics, refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

 

There is a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.

 

1. Which teams satisfy all the mechanical criteria?

A. Outscored their opponents by 8 or more points per game

B. FG% Differential of 7.5% or better

C. Outrebounded their opponents by 5 or more per game

D. Either a positive turnover margin if they outrebounded their opponents by 3 or more; a turnover margin of +3 or more, if they outrebounded their opponents by less than 3; or a turnover margin of +5 if they did not outrebound their opponents.

E. 7.5 or more steals per game

F. An R+T Rating of 5 or more

G. A strength of schedule better than .5500 (from CBS Sportsline)

H. A road+neutral court W-L% of 70% or better.

 

Answer—Five teams this year match all the criteria above, meaning they have statistical resumes similar to the average National Champions of the past 50 years. These five are (in alphabetical order): Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Wichita State.

 

2. Which teams fail to meet any of the mechanical criteria?

 

Answer—Eight teams fail to satisfy any of the minimal mechanical criteria.  It should come as no surprise that Western Kentucky, with a losing record, misses the boat.  Colorado State and Long Island are not powerhouses as well.  However, how about these five teams?  Michigan, Notre Dame, Temple, Vanderbilt, and Xavier fail to meet any of the minimum requirements in any of the criteria (not counting strength of schedule).

 

3. Which teams score the highest point totals?

 

Answer—Nine teams rate at 20 or more points, while a dozen scored 18.3 or higher.  All of the national champions since Kansas in 1988 have scored 18.3 or higher using the 2012 criteria.  Since 2000, the average score for the National Champion has been 27.7, as shown below.

 

2011 UConn—18.3

2010 Duke—29.2

2009 North Carolina—31.8

2008 Kansas—34.9

2007 Florida—29.2

2006 Florida—25.2

2005 North Carolina—31.7

2004 Connecticut—29.5

2003 Syracuse—18.8

2002 Maryland—24.6

2001 Duke—30.2

2000 Michigan State—29.4

12 Champion Avg. = 27.7

 

The nine teams with scores in excess of 20 are: Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse, and Wichita State.

 

The three teams between 18.3 and 20 are: Duke, Georgetown, and Missouri.

 

Three teams come in with ratings above the 12-year average.  Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio State are the top three.

 

We strongly believe that one of these 12 teams will be your 2012 National Champion, with the top three having the best chance of all.

 

Here is a list of all 68 teams with their PiRate technical scores:

 

Team

Pts

FG% Diff

Reb

TO

R+T

SOS

Rd W-L

Total

North Carolina

7.6

3.40

6.5

0.8

5.63

4.26

3

31.1

Kentucky

8.9

5.75

4.3

0.3

3.62

1.84

4.5

29.1

Ohio St.

7.9

3.85

4.4

1.7

5.17

3.45

1.5

28.0

Michigan St.

6.5

4.90

4.8

0.0

3.74

6.05

1.5

27.4

Kansas

6.6

5.10

3.5

0.4

3.29

3.69

1.5

24.0

Wichita St.

7.7

4.65

4.0

0.4

3.52

0.28

3

23.5

Syracuse

7.1

4.00

-0.8

3.1

3.14

2.43

4

22.9

Baylor

5.4

3.15

2.9

0.3

2.82

3.62

4

22.1

New Mexico

7.1

4.15

4.0

0.5

3.71

-1.19

3

21.2

Duke

4.7

1.35

1.6

0.4

1.96

5.38

4.5

19.9

Missouri

7.3

3.15

0.4

2.1

2.90

-0.76

4

19.1

Georgetown

5.0

3.80

3.4

0.2

2.97

3.10

0

18.4

Memphis

6.1

5.50

0.9

0.7

1.86

2.66

0.5

18.2

Wisconsin

5.5

2.05

1.4

1.0

2.30

2.95

2

17.2

Saint Mary’s

6.3

2.40

4.3

0.2

3.63

-2.33

2.5

17.0

BYU

5.8

2.80

2.6

1.3

3.65

-2.28

2.5

16.3

Gonzaga

5.4

2.95

3.9

-0.2

3.00

-1.06

2

16.0

New Mexico St.

5.3

2.35

5.2

0.0

3.98

-2.91

2

15.8

Louisville

3.8

2.30

1.1

0.6

2.06

3.83

2

15.7

Marquette

4.9

2.65

-0.2

1.7

2.22

2.76

1.5

15.5

Creighton

5.3

3.55

3.7

-1.0

1.91

-2.32

4

15.1

UNLV

5.4

2.65

2.0

0.9

2.81

1.13

0

14.8

Florida St.

3.7

3.85

2.0

-0.6

1.44

3.79

0.5

14.8

Indiana

5.9

3.30

1.4

0.4

1.82

1.90

0

14.7

St. Louis

5.9

2.05

1.0

1.9

2.98

-1.47

2

14.2

Murray St.

6.5

2.80

1.1

1.3

2.59

-5.12

5

14.1

San Diego St.

4.0

2.80

2.9

0.2

2.51

0.16

1.5

14.0

Kansas St.

3.9

1.75

2.9

0.9

3.27

0.33

1

14.0

Florida

5.2

1.40

1.3

1.1

2.37

2.37

0

13.6

West Va.

2.7

-0.25

4.1

0.3

3.53

2.74

0

13.1

Vanderbilt

4.0

2.05

0.7

-0.2

0.72

3.75

2

12.9

Virginia

4.7

3.20

1.9

0.8

2.52

-1.28

1

12.8

N. Car. St.

2.7

2.25

2.6

-0.2

2.13

2.21

1

12.7

Alabama

3.4

3.20

1.6

0.4

2.00

1.85

0

12.4

Belmont

7.1

3.00

1.8

1.1

2.80

-6.41

2.5

11.8

Southern Miss.

3.3

-1.30

2.8

1.7

3.90

0.63

0.5

11.5

Harvard

5.3

3.05

2.7

0.0

2.33

-6.07

4

11.4

Davidson

5.3

1.10

4.0

0.4

3.46

-5.53

2.5

11.2

Long Beach St.

5.2

2.50

1.7

1.1

2.79

-3.22

1

11.1

Iona

5.3

2.70

0.6

1.8

2.66

-4.55

2.5

11.0

Connecticut

2.4

3.55

1.9

-0.8

0.94

4.95

-2

10.8

California

5.0

3.40

2.6

0.4

2.48

-1.33

-2

10.5

Temple

3.1

1.75

0.7

0.5

1.45

0.39

2

9.7

Texas

3.2

1.10

1.8

0.6

2.27

2.74

-2

9.6

Cincinnati

3.7

0.40

0.1

1.8

2.41

-0.52

1.5

9.3

Purdue

3.1

-0.25

-0.4

2.1

2.25

1.98

0

8.8

Michigan

2.6

1.50

-0.6

0.9

0.82

3.36

0

8.5

Iowa St.

3.3

0.70

2.8

-0.3

2.02

1.13

-2

7.6

V C U

4.3

-0.65

-0.9

3.3

3.38

-5.02

3

7.4

S. Dakota St.

5.4

1.00

1.4

1.3

2.70

-5.95

1.5

7.3

Colorado

2.6

1.95

1.9

-0.1

1.62

-0.91

0

7.0

Ohio

4.2

0.85

0.1

2.3

2.99

-5.32

1.5

6.5

Lamar

4.3

0.80

3.1

1.2

3.85

-7.18

0.5

6.5

St. Bonaventure

2.9

2.10

3.3

-0.9

1.84

-3.03

0

6.2

Xavier

1.7

2.75

1.2

0.0

1.29

1.32

-2

6.2

Colorado St.

1.3

2.00

0.6

-0.2

0.64

3.76

-2

6.1

Lehigh

5.6

1.80

1.3

1.6

2.95

-9.91

2.5

5.7

S. Florida

1.2

2.40

2.2

-1.3

0.72

1.90

-2

5.1

UNC-Asheville

5.0

2.00

0.8

1.3

2.49

-6.95

0.5

5.1

Montana

4.5

3.05

-0.3

1.2

1.52

-6.93

2

5.0

Notre Dame

2.5

1.00

-0.3

0.4

0.60

1.14

-2

3.3

Detroit

2.6

0.75

1.3

1.3

2.69

-5.53

0

3.1

Loyola (MD)

1.9

0.00

2.2

0.4

2.44

-7.10

2.5

2.3

Vermont

3.4

1.75

2.2

0.2

2.17

-9.11

1.5

2.1

Norfolk St.

1.5

1.90

1.2

-0.6

0.82

-10.75

3

-2.9

Long Island

2.3

1.50

1.5

-1.2

0.34

-8.36

0.5

-3.4

Western Kentucky

-1.5

-1.70

-0.1

-0.2

0.14

-4.31

-2

-9.7

Miss. Valley

-0.2

-1.75

0.1

0.9

1.56

-10.96

0

-10.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the same list in Alphabetical Order:

Team

Pts

FG% Diff

Reb

TO

R+T

SOS

Rd W-L

Total

Alabama

3.4

3.20

1.6

0.4

2.00

1.85

0

12.4

Baylor

5.4

3.15

2.9

0.3

2.82

3.62

4

22.1

Belmont

7.1

3.00

1.8

1.1

2.80

-6.41

2.5

11.8

BYU

5.8

2.80

2.6

1.3

3.65

-2.28

2.5

16.3

California

5.0

3.40

2.6

0.4

2.48

-1.33

-2

10.5

Cincinnati

3.7

0.40

0.1

1.8

2.41

-0.52

1.5

9.3

Colorado

2.6

1.95

1.9

-0.1

1.62

-0.91

0

7.0

Colorado St.

1.3

2.00

0.6

-0.2

0.64

3.76

-2

6.1

Connecticut

2.4

3.55

1.9

-0.8

0.94

4.95

-2

10.8

Creighton

5.3

3.55

3.7

-1.0

1.91

-2.32

4

15.1

Davidson

5.3

1.10

4.0

0.4

3.46

-5.53

2.5

11.2

Detroit

2.6

0.75

1.3

1.3

2.69

-5.53

0

3.1

Duke

4.7

1.35

1.6

0.4

1.96

5.38

4.5

19.9

Florida

5.2

1.40

1.3

1.1

2.37

2.37

0

13.6

Florida St.

3.7

3.85

2.0

-0.6

1.44

3.79

0.5

14.8

Georgetown

5.0

3.80

3.4

0.2

2.97

3.10

0

18.4

Gonzaga

5.4

2.95

3.9

-0.2

3.00

-1.06

2

16.0

Harvard

5.3

3.05

2.7

0.0

2.33

-6.07

4

11.4

Indiana

5.9

3.30

1.4

0.4

1.82

1.90

0

14.7

Iona

5.3

2.70

0.6

1.8

2.66

-4.55

2.5

11.0

Iowa St.

3.3

0.70

2.8

-0.3

2.02

1.13

-2

7.6

Kansas

6.6

5.10

3.5

0.4

3.29

3.69

1.5

24.0

Kansas St.

3.9

1.75

2.9

0.9

3.27

0.33

1

14.0

Kentucky

8.9

5.75

4.3

0.3

3.62

1.84

4.5

29.1

Lamar

4.3

0.80

3.1

1.2

3.85

-7.18

0.5

6.5

Lehigh

5.6

1.80

1.3

1.6

2.95

-9.91

2.5

5.7

Long Beach St.

5.2

2.50

1.7

1.1

2.79

-3.22

1

11.1

Long Island

2.3

1.50

1.5

-1.2

0.34

-8.36

0.5

-3.4

Louisville

3.8

2.30

1.1

0.6

2.06

3.83

2

15.7

Loyola (MD)

1.9

0.00

2.2

0.4

2.44

-7.10

2.5

2.3

Marquette

4.9

2.65

-0.2

1.7

2.22

2.76

1.5

15.5

Memphis

6.1

5.50

0.9

0.7

1.86

2.66

0.5

18.2

Michigan

2.6

1.50

-0.6

0.9

0.82

3.36

0

8.5

Michigan St.

6.5

4.90

4.8

0.0

3.74

6.05

1.5

27.4

Miss. Valley

-0.2

-1.75

0.1

0.9

1.56

-10.96

0

-10.4

Missouri

7.3

3.15

0.4

2.1

2.90

-0.76

4

19.1

Montana

4.5

3.05

-0.3

1.2

1.52

-6.93

2

5.0

Murray St.

6.5

2.80

1.1

1.3

2.59

-5.12

5

14.1

N. Car. St.

2.7

2.25

2.6

-0.2

2.13

2.21

1

12.7

New Mexico

7.1

4.15

4.0

0.5

3.71

-1.19

3

21.2

New Mexico St.

5.3

2.35

5.2

0.0

3.98

-2.91

2

15.8

Norfolk St.

1.5

1.90

1.2

-0.6

0.82

-10.75

3

-2.9

North Carolina

7.6

3.40

6.5

0.8

5.63

4.26

3

31.1

Notre Dame

2.5

1.00

-0.3

0.4

0.60

1.14

-2

3.3

Ohio

4.2

0.85

0.1

2.3

2.99

-5.32

1.5

6.5

Ohio St.

7.9

3.85

4.4

1.7

5.17

3.45

1.5

28.0

Purdue

3.1

-0.25

-0.4

2.1

2.25

1.98

0

8.8

S. Dakota St.

5.4

1.00

1.4

1.3

2.70

-5.95

1.5

7.3

S. Florida

1.2

2.40

2.2

-1.3

0.72

1.90

-2

5.1

Saint Mary’s

6.3

2.40

4.3

0.2

3.63

-2.33

2.5

17.0

San Diego St.

4.0

2.80

2.9

0.2

2.51

0.16

1.5

14.0

Southern Miss.

3.3

-1.30

2.8

1.7

3.90

0.63

0.5

11.5

St. Bonaventure

2.9

2.10

3.3

-0.9

1.84

-3.03

0

6.2

St. Louis

5.9

2.05

1.0

1.9

2.98

-1.47

2

14.2

Syracuse

7.1

4.00

-0.8

3.1

3.14

2.43

4

22.9

Temple

3.1

1.75

0.7

0.5

1.45

0.39

2

9.7

Texas

3.2

1.10

1.8

0.6

2.27

2.74

-2

9.6

UNC-Asheville

5.0

2.00

0.8

1.3

2.49

-6.95

0.5

5.1

UNLV

5.4

2.65

2.0

0.9

2.81

1.13

0

14.8

V C U

4.3

-0.65

-0.9

3.3

3.38

-5.02

3

7.4

Vanderbilt

4.0

2.05

0.7

-0.2

0.72

3.75

2

12.9

Vermont

3.4

1.75

2.2

0.2

2.17

-9.11

1.5

2.1

Virginia

4.7

3.20

1.9

0.8

2.52

-1.28

1

12.8

West Va.

2.7

-0.25

4.1

0.3

3.53

2.74

0

13.1

Western Kentucky

-1.5

-1.70

-0.1

-0.2

0.14

-4.31

-2

-9.7

Wichita St.

7.7

4.65

4.0

0.4

3.52

0.28

3

23.5

Wisconsin

5.5

2.05

1.4

1.0

2.30

2.95

2

17.2

Xavier

1.7

2.75

1.2

0.0

1.29

1.32

-2

6.2

 

 

All Times Eastern Daylight Time

 

1st Round Preview (Play-in Games)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

6:40 PM truTV #16 Seeding

Mississippi Valley State (21-12) vs. Western Kentucky (15-18)

PiRate Criteria Score: MVSU -9.7  WKU -10.4

These are the two weakest teams in the Tournament, and they should not have been paired against each other.  Both teams were outscored by their opposition.  Both teams were less accurate from the field than their opponents.  Western Kentucky’s schedule was about six points more difficult.  So, we will go with the Hilltoppers to top MVSU in a close, low-scoring game.

 

Prediction: Western Kentucky 55  Mississippi Valley St. 50

 

9:00 PM truTV #14 Seeding

Brigham Young (25-8) vs. Iona (25-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: BYU 16.3  Iona 11.0

 

Following the two weakest teams in the tournament, these two do not deserve to be in the play-in.  Both are talented enough to advance to the third round, but one will be eliminated.

 

These two teams like to move the ball and push the tempo, so this game should be interesting for the average fan. 

 

Iona is one of three teams in the field that shot above 50% from the field, but BYU allowed just 41% against their opponents.

 

Prediction: BYU 82  Iona 75

 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

6:40 PM truTV #16 Seeding

Lamar (23-11) vs. Vermont (23-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: Lamar 6.5  Vermont 2.1

 

These teams match up well, and we see another defensive struggle in Dayton Wednesday evening.  Lamar is a little better defensively, but Vermont has the better offense.  Lamar has been hot in the last month, and we believe Coach Pat Knight’s troops will survive.

 

Prediction: Lamar 67  Vermont 60

 

9:00 PM truTV #12 Seeding

California (24-9) vs. South Florida (20-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: Cal 10.5  USF 5.1

 

The so-called experts did not give much credit to the Pac-12 this year, and some even predicted one bid.  Cal is not headed to the Elite Eight, but the Bears are talented enough to make the Sweet 16. 

 

South Florida ranks dead last among the 68 teams in the Big Dance.  The Bulls average just 59 points per game, but they give up just 57 points per game.

 

Prediction: California 64  S. Florida 58

 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

12:15 PM CBS—West Regional

#6 Murray State (30-1) vs. #11 Colorado State (20-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 14.1  CSU 6.1

 

Colorado State’s schedule on average was almost 10 points better than the schedule Murray State played, but 10 points is not enough to make up the difference between these two teams.  The Racers are the best low-major team in the tournament, and they are actually the Las Vegas favorite in this game.

 

The Rams are one of the handful of teams that fail to meet the minimum requirements in any of the PiRate Criteria.  Teams like that do not advance past the first weekend, and we do not see CSU bucking that trend.

 

Prediction: Murray State 74  Colorado State 65

 

12:40 PM truTV—East Regional

#8 Kansas State (21-10) vs. #9 Southern Mississippi (25-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: KSU 14.0  USM 11.5

 

Kansas State is a physical team that relies on muscle with just a touch of finesse to win.  When they play a team that is soft inside, they usually win.  When they play a team that can pound the ball inside, they do not fare so well.

 

Southern Mississippi is not physical enough inside to put a scare into the Wildcats.  The Golden Eagles have troubles getting open shots inside, and this will doom them to a quick exit in the tournament.

 

Prediction:  Kansas State 69  Southern Miss. 57

 

1:40 PM TBS—West Regional

#4 Louisville (26-9) vs. #13 Davidson (25-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: UL 15.7  Dav. 11.2

 

This game could be quite exciting.  Louisville plays tenacious defense, and they have to stop the opponent’s offense, because the Cardinals’ cannot score a lot of points. 

 

Davidson can score points—a lot of them.  The Wildcats defeated Kansas in the regular season and almost knocked off Vanderbilt.  Don’t be surprised if they take Pitino’s troops to the wire with a chance to win in the final minutes.

 

Prediction: Louisville 68  Davidson 65

 

2:10 PM TNT—East Regional

#4 Wisconsin (24-9) vs. #13 Montana (25-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: UW 17.2  Mont. 5.0

 

Wisconsin has the number one scoring defense in the nation at just under 53 points per game, while the Badgers average 11 points more per game.  Opponents hit only 38.3% from the field against UW.  Coach Bo Ryan employs a deliberate style of play, where his team may hold onto the ball for 30 seconds on many possessions.  Opponents get frustrated and tend to rush their offense, which plays right into Wisconsin’s gameplan.

 

Montana has the talent to keep this game close, but we do not believe the Grizzlies can maintain their composure for 40 minutes of tranquilizer ball.  UW will commit fewer than 10 turnovers and take no more than three or four ill-advised shots.  Montana will force their offense a few too many times, and that will be their downfall.

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 65  Montana 51

 

2:45 PM CBS—West Regional

#3 Marquette (25-7) vs. #14 BYU or Iona

PiRate Criteria Score: Marq 15.5  BYU 16.3 or Iona 11.0

 

This could be a trap game.  If BYU is the opponent, the Cougars have a better PiRate Criteria score than Marquette.  Iona is not that much weaker than the Golden Eagles, so Marquette would have a tough game if they have to play the Gaels.

 

Marquette’s one big weakness is rebounding, where opponents best them by a small amount. 

 

Prediction: BYU 74  Marquette 69 (or Marquette 69  Iona 63)

 

3:10 PM truTV—East Regional

#1 Syracuse (31-2) vs. #16 UNC-Asheville (24-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: Syr 22.9  UNCA 5.1

 

What we have here is a classic mismatch.  UNC-Asheville is an offense first team.  The Bulldogs surrendered 71.3 points per game and allowed 44.4% shooting from the field against teams that were on average nine points weaker than the opponents Syracuse played.

 

Syracuse will find little trouble scoring inside with Fab Melo being seven inches taller than the man that will guard him.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 84  UNCA 62

 

4:10 PM CBS—West Regional

#5 New Mexico (27-6) vs. #12 Long Beach State (25-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNM 21.2  LBSU 11.1

 

Long Beach State didn’t catch a break in their bracket.  New Mexico is a sleeper to make it past the first weekend. 

 

The Lobos have an excellent combination of size and speed, as well as quality depth and excellent coaching.  On the other hand, the 49ers have an excellent starting five that will not be intimidated by New Mexico.  LBSU played a tough schedule that included games against Kansas, Xavier, North Carolina, San Diego State, Louisville, and Kansas State.

 

The infamous #12 seed produced a lot of upsets in past years, and this looks like one that is possible.  However, New Mexico is capable of making a run to the Final Four, and we will call for a Lobo win.

 

Prediction: New Mexico 76  Long Beach State 70

 

4:40 PM TNT—East Regional

#5 Vanderbilt (24-10) vs. #12 Harvard (26-4)

PiRate Criteria Score: VU 12.9  Harv 11.4

 

In the early 1980’s DePaul was a number one or two seed for three consecutive years and lost in their first tournament game (before there were 64 teams and #16 seeds).  Each year, underdogs upset them in the final minutes.

 

Vanderbilt has endure the same history in the 21st Century, losing first round games three times in a row to Siena, Murray State, and Richmond.

 

Harvard may be better than the three teams that upset the Commodores in the first round.  The Crimson are another dubious 12-seed looking to pull off the upset, and Tommy Amaker’s crew has the talent to pull it off.

 

Vanderbilt failed to meet even one of the minimal PiRate Criteria stats, although they missed by a whisker on point differential (7.9).

 

Harvard has no weakness.  The only area where they are inferior to the Commodores is in schedule strength, where Vandy’s schedule was 10 points per game harder. 

 

Both teams have something going against them in this game.  Harvard will have not played for 12 days, while Vanderbilt will have to travel to Albuquerque three days after beating Kentucky in New Orleans, their third game in three days.

 

Prediction: Vanderbilt 62  Harvard 59

 

6:50 PM TBS—South Regional

#1 Kentucky (32-2) vs. #16 Mississippi Valley State or Western Kentucky

PiRate Criteria Score: UK 29.1  MVSU -9.7  or WKU -10.4

 

Kentucky’s players will begin the tournament with chips on their shoulders.  They will be out for blood, at least in the first 10 minutes of this game.

 

Regardless of the opponent, this game will be over by the under 12:00 minute media timeout.  Kentucky could double the score if Coach John Calipari left his starters in long enough. 

 

Prediction: Kentucky 89  Mississippi Valley 60  or Kentucky 83  Western Kentucky 52

 

7:15 PM CBS—South Regional

#5 Wichita State (27-5) vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth (28-6)

PiRate Criteria Score: Wich 23.5  VCU 7.4

 

This should be an interesting game.  Wichita State  has an excellent half-court game with expertise both inside and outside.  Virginia Commonwealth is a full-court terror, but they cannot compete on the boards.

 

VCU will force a lot of turnovers and pick up a lot of steals, but Wichita State will not wilt and fall apart.  The Shockers do not turn the ball over all that much, and they can dominate on the glass.

 

This game will come down to a test of shooting accuracy.  WSU has much better shooters, and they will end any chance of the Rams making another huge run.

 

Prediction: Wichita State 77  Virginia Commonwealth 72

 

7:20 PM TNT—East Regional

#7 Gonzaga (25-6) vs. #10 West Virginia (19-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: Gonz. 16.0  WVU 13.1

 

The field of 64 or second round has several interesting games this year, and this will definitely be one of them.  Gonzaga is the second best team from the West this year, but the Bulldogs have a few holes.  They can be stopped by physical inside teams or teams that play an excellent zone defense.

 

West Virginia has a rebuilding team this year, but Coach Bob Huggins has produced the maximum out of a young squad; defense has gotten the job done.

 

We saw two years ago that the Mountaineers could play an awesome zone defense to upset Kentucky.  Expect a combination of zone and sagging man-to-man, and WVU should control the inside game.

 

As for Gonzaga, the Bulldogs have a couple of outside shooters that can get hot and shoot an opponent out of the gym.  They can run the fast break and get a dozen “cheap points” in a game.

 

We believe this is close to a 50-50 toss-up game. 

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 72  West Virginia 70

 

7:27 PM truTV—South Regional

#3 Baylor (27-7) vs. #14 South Dakota State (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Bay 22.1  SDSU 7.3

 

The Bears are a dark horse team.  Three Big 12 teams could advance deep into the tournament, and Baylor is one of them.  This is a team capable of going on big runs, outscoring opponents 12-2 in a five-minute stretch.

 

South Dakota State is not a pushover.  The Jackrabbits can pass, shoot, and rebound.  Their weakness is on the defensive side, and Baylor will be able to exploit it for a couple of big runs.

 

Prediction: Baylor 74  South Dakota State 60

 

9:20 PM TBS—South Regional

#8 Iowa State (22-10) vs. Connecticut (20-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: ISU 7.6  UConn 10.8

 

Neither team is going to advance to the Sweet 16, as the winner will be fodder for Kentucky on Saturday.

 

Iowa State was the surprise of the Big 12 under first year coach Fred Hoiberg.  Royce White is a player to watch; he can do it all.

 

Connecticut has some rough edges, but the Huskies have the parts to compete with the Kentucky’s and Syracuse’s of the world.  However, this is not last year’s team, and nobody on the roster can carry them for six games.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 68  Iowa State 63

 

9:45 PM CBS—South Regional

#4 Indiana (25-8) vs. #13 New Mexico State (26-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: IU 14.7  NMSU 15.8

 

We smell an upset here.  New Mexico State dominates on the glass, and the Aggies should neutralize Indiana post man Cody Zeller.  NMSU has been turnover prone at times this year, but Indiana has not been a ball-hawking team this year. 

 

Both teams shoot the ball well, and both are fairly good on defense.  What concerns us is that Indiana relies too much on the three-point shot, and in unfamiliar gyms, outside shooting can be a problem in the first half. 

 

Prediction: New Mexico State 71  Indiana 66

 

9:50 PM TNT—East Regional

#2 Ohio State (27-7) vs. #15 Loyola (Md) (24-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: OSU 28.0  Loy 2.3

 

How can we entice you to watch this game?  How about this tidbit of information?  Loyola played Kentucky in Lexington in December.  They lost by 24 points, but until the end of the first half, the Greyhounds were within a couple of points.

 

Ohio State will eventually run the Greyhounds out of the gym, but we believe this game could be exciting for 10-15 minutes.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 76  Loyola (Md) 54

 

9:57 PM truTV—South Regional

#6 U N L V (26-8) vs. #11 Colorado (23-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNLV 14.8  CU 7.0

 

Here is another excellent study of contrasts.  UNLV passes the ball like a team from the 1980’s.  The Runnin’ Rebels are not that far away from being considered an Elite 8 contender.  They shoot, rebound, and play good defense. 

 

Colorado won the Pac-12 Tournament with a swarming defense and an ability to hit the glass.  The Buffs do not have enough offense to make a long stay this year. 

 

Prediction: UNLV 70  Colorado 59

 

Friday, March 16, 2012

12:15 PM CBS—East Regional

#6 Cincinnati (24-10) vs. #11 Texas (20-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: Cinti 9.3  UT 9.6

 

According to the PiRate Criteria score, this game should be close and could go to overtime.

 

Unlike Bearcat teams of yore, this Cincinnati squad is not an overpowering inside monster.  UC relies on tenacious defense and a strong perimeter game with one good inside presence in Yancy Gates.  Teams have difficulty matching the Bearcats’ 4-out, 1-in offense.

 

Texas just barely qualified as an at-large in what is a rebuilding process for Coach Rick Barnes.  The Longhorns are almost a one-man team.  If J’Covan Brown does not score 20 points, the burnt orange don’t win.

 

Flip a coin for this one; it could come down to the last shot of the game.

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 69  Texas 68

 

12:40 PM truTV—Midwest Regional

#6 San Diego State (26-7) vs. #11 North Carolina State (22-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: SDSU 14.0  NCSU 12.7

 

Here is yet another interesting game that should be close.  The Aztecs were not expected to return to the Dance for the second consecutive year, but Coach Steve Fisher reloaded rather than rebuilt.  SDSU’s starting five is high quality similar to the talent the Wolf Pack face in the ACC.  The Aztec bench is lacking, and teams can wear their starters down.

 

North Carolina State has better depth, but the starting five is not as strong as the Aztec starting five.  Defense can be a problem at times, and one spurt allowed in a close game can be fatal.

 

Because the timeouts are longer in the NCAA Tournament, we believe fatigue will not be a major problem in this game, and SDSU will benefit from one big spurt.

 

Prediction: San Diego State 75  North Carolina State 68

 

1:40 PM TBS—Midwest Regional

# 8 Creighton (28-5) vs. #9 Alabama (21-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: Crei. 15.1  Ala. 12.4

 

Here is another great study in contrasts.  Creighton is all about offense, while Alabama is all about defense.

 

The Blue Jays have the best offensive threat in the tournament in Doug McDermott, the 21st Century Larry Bird. 

 

Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant suspended four players in February, and eventually reinstated three of the quartet.  Since that time, ‘Bama lost four of their last 10 games, following a 15-7 start.  The Tide never fully recovered, and they enter this tournament playing more like a team that should be in the NIT.

 

Prediction: Creighton 70  Alabama 62

 

2:10 PM TNT—West Regional

#7 Florida (23-10) vs. #10 Virginia (22-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: Fla. 13.6  Virginia 12.8

Yet another “yin-yang” game, Florida has the shooters, and Virginia has the defenders.  Florida is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation, while Virginia is one of the best three-point defensive teams.

 

Both teams enter the tournament with injury issues.  Virginia may only be able to use two off the bench, but the Cavaliers will slow the game down and rely on the longer timeouts to keep from getting winded.

 

Florida coach Billy Donovan will try to speed up the pace and press.  If the Cavs can handle the Gator pressure, UVa will win.  If not, then the Gator chomp will be seen in Omaha around 3:00 PM local time.

 

Prediction: Florida 62  Virginia 56

 

2:45 PM CBS—East Regional

#3 Florida State (24-9) vs. #14 St. Bonaventure (20-11)

PiRate Criteria Score: FSU 14.8  SBU 6.2

 

Not many, if any, teams have defeated North Carolina and Duke two times each in a year where both powers were top 10 teams.  The Seminoles can defend and rebound.  They have a tendency to turn the ball over a bit too much, and they are not the most fluent team on offense.

 

St. Bonaventure is a smaller mirror of FSU.  They defend well, rebound tenaciously, and turn the ball over too much.  Their offense tends to stall at times.

 

We’ll go with the bigger fish in this game.

 

Prediction: Florida State 65  St. Bonaventure 55

 

3:10 PM truTV—Midwest Regional

#3 Georgetown (23-8) vs. #14 Belmont (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Rating: GU 18.4  BU 11.8

 

In recent years, Georgetown lacked the rebounding and ball-hawking ability to advance very far in the Tournament.  This year is completely different.  This Hoya team has the talent to make it to New Orleans.

 

This Hoya team can shoot the ball, and like all Georgetown teams, they can force off-target shots and can block shots.  GU can rebound like the old Alonzo Mourning-Dikembe Mutombo and Pat Ewing teams.  While they don’t force a lot of turnovers, they don’t commit many either.

 

Belmont has twice given Mike Krzyzewski a nervous stomach, losing by one in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago and by one in Durham this year.  The Bruins rely on a lot of three-point shots, and that style of play rarely works in the Big Dance.  Big men Scott Saunders and Mick Hedgepath will be neutralized by Georgetown’s deep inside presence, and this game will not be all that close.

 

Prediction: Georgetown 71  Belmont 51

 

4:10 TBS—Midwest Regional

#1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. #16 Lamar or Vermont

PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 31.1  Lam. 6.5  VT 2.1

 

The Tar Heels have the highest criteria score, but they do not meet the minimum requirements in every category.  They just miss on field goal percentage margin with a margin of 6.8%.  However, they are the most dominating rebounding team in the nation, and they can monopolize on those rebounds with a devastating fast break.

 

The injury to forward John Henson will not stop UNC in the first weekend.  If he recovers fully, this team could finish the season on a six-game winning streak.

 

The play-in winner will be overwhelmed and intimidated by the most explosive team in the Dance.  This game will be over within five to eight minutes.  UNC will have a comfortable lead by the second media timeout. 

 

Prediction: North Carolina 102  Lamar 67 or North Carolina 89  Vermont 50

 

4:40 TNT—West Regional

#2 Missouri (30-4) vs. #15 Norfolk State (25-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: MO 19.1  Norf. -2.9

 

Okay, there is nothing we can do to encourage you to watch this game.  It could be the biggest mismatch of the second round.  Missouri likes to run, and the Tigers can score a lot of points in a little time.  Even though the Tigers are up-tempo, they take care of the ball and do not turn it over.  Their one weakness comes inside against teams that can control the tempo and be physical in the paint.

 

Norfolk State actually has a huge size advantage, but the Spartans lack the talent to exploit Missouri’s liability.  NSU turns the ball over too much, and Missouri will take advantage of these miscues with several easy baskets.

 

Prediction: Missouri 92  Norfolk State 66

 

6:50 PM TBS—West Regional

#8 Memphis (26-8) vs. #9 St. Louis (25-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Mem 18.2 Stl 14.2

 

These former rivals once again feature dissimilar assets.  Coach Josh Pastner has Memphis playing much like his former mentor Lute Olsen’s Arizona teams.  The Tigers move the ball with meaning and get a lot of open shots.  MU’s field goal accuracy is a hair under 50%, and it has been improving as of late.  The Tigers grudgingly yield baskets, holding opponents to 38.4% from the field.

 

For the Billikens, it’s defense first, second, and third.  SLU holds opponents to 57.5 points a game, and they force a goodly amount of turnovers for the pace they play.  Coach Rick Majerus has enjoyed success against the “Arizona offense” in the past, but this is not the past.  SLU does not have the talent to go head-to-head with the Tigers for 40 minutes. 

 

Prediction: Memphis 67  St. Louis 58

 

7:15 PM CBS—South Regional

#2 Duke (27-6) vs. #15 Lehigh (26-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Duke 19.9  Leh. 5.7

 

In Durham, even when Duke is not up to its normal standards, the Blue Devils are still contenders to advance to the Final Four.  While we believe the Blue Devils will fall in the second weekend this year, the first weekend is no problem.  They have the horses to win the two claiming races they will play in Greensboro.

 

Lehigh is one of the better Patriot League representatives to come along in recent years, but this is not Bucknell vs. Kansas of a few years ago.

 

Prediction: Duke 82  Lehigh 58

 

7:20 TNT—Midwest Regional

#4 Michigan (24-9) vs. #13 Ohio U (27-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: Mich. 8.5  Ohio 6.5

 

It is our opinion that Michigan is ripe for the picking this weekend.  The Wolverines win games with the jump shot.  They lack any rebounding strength, yet they do not force enough turnovers to get extra scoring opportunities.  If their outside shooting is on target, they can compete with most of the teams in the tournament.  If their outside shooting is not on target, the Ohio’s of the tournament can beat them and even beat them handily.

 

The Bobcats are strong on defense, and they can limit the Wolverines’ outside shooting.  If they had any legitimate offensive threat, we would go with Ohio in this game.  However, this team may not have the offensive power to take advantage of a cold Wolverine shooting night.

 

Prediction: Michigan 66  Ohio 62

 

7:27 truTV—Midwest Regional

#7 Saint Mary’s (27-5) vs. #10 Purdue (21-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: SMU 17.0  PU 8.8

 

Saint Mary’s is the top team in the West, and the Gaels have a legitimate chance to advance to the Elite 8 if injured big guard Stephen Holt can return from an injury to his knee.

 

Purdue knows all about injuries to the knee.  Star forward Robbie Hummel missed two seasons.  Like Alabama, Purdue has suffered since a former starter was booted from the team.  The Boilermakers are not going to make it through the first weekend, and we see them being one and done.

 

Prediction: Saint Mary’s 75  Purdue 65

 

9:20 PM TBS—West Regional

#1 Michigan State (27-7) vs. #16 Long Island (25-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 27.4  LIU -3.4

 

Michigan State can be defeated by a team that can force turnovers and change the pace of the game.  Not many opponents that try to go head-to-head with them in an inside power game will come away happy.  The Spartans can hoist the big banner if they catch a break and avoid teams like Missouri and Syracuse.

 

Long Island might have been more competitive against MSU had this been last year, but the Blackbirds just don’t have the talent to pull off an upset or even keep this game close.

 

Look for Michigan State to gradually pull ahead and lengthen their lead until Coach Tom Izzo empties the bench.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 72  Long Island 50

 

9:45 PM CBS—South Regional

#7 Notre Dame (22-11) vs. #10 Xavier (21-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: ND 3.3  Xav. 6.2

 

Neither team is all that impressive, and the winner will be gone Sunday after losing to Duke.

 

Notre Dame is a poor shooting team overall, but the Irish defense is strong.  Coach Mike Brey wants a snail’s pace, half-court game, because his players cannot get into a running game and win. 

 

Xavier’s chances for a big year went down the drain in a melee against in-town rival Cincinnati.  The Musketeers have been a .500 team since that brawl, and they were undefeated when it happened.  Had performance in the last 10 games still counted, the Selection Committee would have selected someone else and left Xavier to the NIT.

 

Xavier’s Tu Holloway should guide his team to a victory, but that’s as far as Xavier is going.

 

Prediction: Xavier 60  Notre Dame 56

 

9:50 TNT—Midwest Regional

#5 Temple (24-7) vs. #12 California or South Florida

PiRate Criteria Score: TU 9.7  Cal 10.5  USF 5.1

 

If Coach Mike Montgomery’s Bears win the play-in game, a second round Temple-Cal match would be one of the best of the day.  Both teams feature excellent perimeter play with just enough inside presence to keep defenses honest.

 

If USF beats Cal, a second round game with Temple will be a different kettle of fish.  It will be more of a dull, grind-it-out affair.  We believe the Owls will have little trouble defeating this style of play.

 

Prediction: California 73  Temple 69 or Temple 64  South Florida 54

 

9:57 truTV—Midwest Regional

#2 Kansas (27-6) vs. #15 Detroit (22-13)

PiRate Criteria Score: KU 24.0 Det. 3.1

 

This will not be the basketball version of “Remember The Titans.”  These Titans from Detroit are just happy to be here.  They will be home Saturday morning. 

 

Kansas is liable to double up on the rebounding numbers in this game.  A two to one edge on the boards is a certain victory.  Thomas Robinson could outrebound Detroit’s starting five!

 

Look for a quick and easy blowout in this game, but make no mistake about this: Kansas is vulnerable after this weekend.

 

Prediction: Kansas 79  Detroit 55

 

 

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March 26, 2011

PiRate Ratings Elite Eight Preview For Saturday-Sunday, March 26-27, 2011

It hasn’t been pretty for our PiRate Criteria Ratings this year.  We are down to one team left in our Final Four bracket, but at least it is the team we picked to win it all.  Kansas is our last hope, but if the Jayhawks can get by Virginia Commonwealth, they will be two wins away from keeping our successful record of picking the national champion before the tournament begins intact.

 

We are shocked that a team with a negative PiRate Criteria score is still around, and even more surprised that the team has had to win one extra game to get to this point.  We are almost as shocked to see Arizona in the Elite Eight with a score of just four points, and we are semi-surprised to see Butler back in the Elite Eight with a rating of four.  The Bulldogs’ 2010 PiRate Criteria score was 10 points higher than it is today, and they were actually favored to beat Syracuse in the Sweet 16 by our ratings.

 

PiRate Criteria Rating in (parentheses)

All Games on CBS

 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

4:30 PM EDT—Southeast Regional Final @ New Orleans

#2 Florida 29-7 (15) vs. #8 Butler 26-9 (4)

Position Florida Butler
Coach Billy Donovan Brad Stevens
Center (32) Vernon Macklin 6-10 Sr.–11.2/5.4  58.4% FG (44) Andrew Smith 6-11 So.–8.9/5.4  62.2% FG ***Probable***
Forward (23) Alex Tyus 6-8 Sr.–8.9/6.1 (54) Matt Howard 6-8 Sr.–16.8/7.8  44.4%  3pt
Forward (25) Chandler Parsons 6-10 Sr.–11.5/7.8  3.8 ast (33) Chase Stigall 6-4 So.–4.0/1.8
Guard (1) Kenny Boynton 6-2 So.–14.1/1.4  82.1% FT (1) Shelvin Mack 6-3 Sr.–15.6/4.3  3.6 ast
Guard (11) Erving Walker  5-8 Jr.–14.8/3.0  3.4 ast (2) Shawn Vanzant 6-0 Sr.–8.1/3.1  42.3% 3 pt
6th (4) Patric Young 6-9 Fr. F/C–3.4/3.8  56.8% FG (23) Khyle Marshall 6-7 Fr. F–5.8/3.7
7th (5) Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Fr. G–2.5/1.5  1.7 ast (5) Ronald Nored 6-0 Jr.–5.3/3.0  2.5 ast

 

PiRate Criteria Stats

 

Team Florida Butler
Pts 9.1 7.8
FG% 4.2 1.5
Reb 6.0 2.9
TO 0.3 1.7
Stl 5.9 6.0
R+T 6.42 5.35
SOS 60 54
Road% 79 67
PiRate # 15 4

 

Can Butler do it again?  It does not appear highly probable, but then the Bulldogs have made a science out of making the improbable probable. 

 

If the Bulldogs are to have any chance in this game, big man Andrew Smith must be able to play at close to 100%.  Smith sprained his ankle in the Sweet 16 win over Wisconsin, and after he exited the game, Butler almost blew a 20-point lead.  It is the emergence of Smith as a key player that has fueled Butler’s long winning streak.  He has led the team in both steals and blocked shots in the winning streak.

 

When Smith is patrolling under the basket, Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack get more open looks.  The duo will need to combine for 40+ points in this game, and they will need to connect on better than 50% of their two-point shots and better than 40% of their three-point shots for Butler to advance to the Final Four for the second consecutive year.

 

When Florida won the National Championship in 2007, their toughest game may have been their Sweet 16 game against Butler.  That Gator team benefitted from having five starters that could score 20 points in a game.  Coach Donovan’s club moves the ball quickly and the players without the ball keep their defender occupied.  Not the most consistent team defensively, the Gators tend to play in spurts.  At times, they are tough on opponents, and at times, opponents get a lot of open looks. 

 

To beat Florida, the key is to penetrate the perimeter defense and take a lot of shots in the 5-10 foot range.  Butler may lack the quickness to get into that inside zone, especially if Smith is not able to occupy 1 ½ defenders.

 

The Southeastern Conference was supposed to be down again this year, and the early NCAA Tournament exits of Tennessee, Georgia, and Vanderbilt supposedly proved this point.  However, the SEC could very well place two teams in the Final Four this year.

 

Prediction: Florida 69  Butler 60

 

7:05 PM EDT—West Regional Final @ Anaheim

#3 Connecticut 29-9 (11)  vs. #5 Arizona 30-7 (4)

Position Connecticut Arizona
Coach Jim Calhoun Sean Miller
Center (35) Charles Okwandu 7-0 Sr.–2.9/2.8 (23) Derrick Williams 6-8 So.–19.5/8.4  60.2% FG/60.3% 3pt
Forward (34) Alex Oriakhi 6-9 So.–9.7/8.7  1.6 Blk (33) Jesse Perry 6-7 Jr.–6.4/4.4
Forward (22) Roscoe Smith 6-8 Fr.–6.5/5.2  1.2 Blk (44) Solomon Hill 6-6 So.–8.1/4.6  78.0% FT
Guard (3) Jeremy Lamb 6-5 Fr.–10.9/4.3  79.6% FT (21) Kyle Fogg 6-3 Jr.–8.1/1.8  2.6 Ast
Guard (15) Kemba Walker 6-1 Jr.–24.0/5.4  4.5 ast/1.9 stl (12) Lamont Jones 6-0 So.–9.7/1.6  2.5 Ast/82.8% FT
6th (13) Shabazz Napier 6-0 Fr. G–7.9/2.3  3.1 Ast (3) Kevin Parrom 6-6 So. G/F–7.8/3.4  2.0 Ast/42.2% 3pt
7th (4) Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 6-7 So. F–6.0/2.7  81.5% FT (42) Jamelle Horne 6-7 Sr. F–6.2/3.3  40.8% 3pt

PiRate Criteria Stats

 

Team Connecticut Arizona
Pts 7.7 8.7
FG% 3.5 2.5
Reb 4.8 3.6
TO 0.3 -0.1
Stl 6.5 5.2
R+T 5.27 4.52
SOS 60 55
Road% 76 67
PiRate # 11 4

 

Two teams with one dominant player and a host of above-average complimentary players should make for an interesting game.  Unfortunately, the teams’ key players will not face off against each other, as Walker is the play-maker for UConn, and Williams is the big man for ‘Zona.

 

On closer inspection, we took a look at Connecticut’s season in three parts.  The Huskies looked like a Final Four team in two of those three parts.  They began the season 10-0, including a blowout win over Kentucky in Hawaii.  They had a lackluster 11-9 middle.  Then, they caught lightning in a bottle, winning five games in five days to take the Big East Tournament title and won three games in the Big Dance to come into this game riding an eight-game winning streak.  Once again, they have looked like a Final Four team.

 

Arizona entered this tournament with a 4-3 mark in its final seven games.  The Wildcats narrowly escaped with wins over Memphis and Texas in the first week, but then they blew defending champion Duke off the floor Thursday night.  They dominated the Blue Devils inside and forced Duke to beat them from over the top.  Duke could not get enough good outside shots in the second half, and Arizona cruised to an easy win.

 

We believe that Connecticut’s backcourt is not that far from Duke’s in total talent, but the Huskies are much stronger inside where it counts.  Connecticut should win the battle of the boards in this game and pound on Derrick Williams enough to throw him off his game.  Arizona has overachieved getting to this point.  The Wildcats will be back in 2011-12 as a top contender for the Final Four, but they will have to settle for Elite Eight this year.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 74  Arizona 66

 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2:20 PM EDT—Southwest Regional Final @ San Antonio

#1 Kansas 35-2 (23) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth 27-11 (-1)

Position Kansas Virginia Commonwealth
Coach Bill Self Shaka Smart
Center (21) Markieff Morris 6-10 Jr.–13.6/8.2  59.6% FG/42.1% 3pt (21) Jamie Skeen 6-9 Sr.–15.1/7.3  1.1 Blk
Forward (22) Marcus Morris 6-9 Jr.–17.1/7.4  57.7% FG (20) Bradford Burgess 6-6 Jr.–14.4/6.2  42.3% 3pt
Forward (14) Tyrel Reed 6-3 Sr.–9.7/3.1  80.2% FT (50) Ed Nixon 6-4 Sr.–7.2/2.6  1.9 Ast
Guard (12) Brady Morningstar 6-4 Sr.–7.3/2.2  3.3 Ast/42.2% 3pt (32) Brandon Rozzell 6-2 Sr.–11.8/2.3  1.4 Stl
Guard (10) Tyshawn Taylor 6-3 Jr.–9.1/1.9  4.6 Ast (12) Joey Rodriguez 5-10 Sr.–10.6/3.2  5.1 Ast/81.8% FT
6th (32) Josh Selby 6-2 Fr. G–8.2/2.3  2.2 Ast (23) Rob Brandenburg 6-2 Fr. G–5.2/1.8
7th (00) Thomas Robinson 6-9 So.–7.8/6.6  60.1% FG (10) Darius Theus 6-3 So. G–3.1/1.6  2.1 Ast

PiRate Criteria Stats

 

Team Kansas V C U
Pts 17.1 3.9
FG% 11.8 2
Reb 7.9 2.1
TO 0.8 -0.6
Stl 7.8 8.3
R+T 9.4 0.9
SOS 59 54
Road% 95 66
PiRate # 23

-1

 

This looks like an even bigger mismatch than Kansas’s Sweet 16 game, but VCU plays a feisty brand of basketball and can pull games out at the end with their pressure and herky-jerky style of play.

 

We anointed Kansas as our pick for the National Champion when the brackets came out two weeks ago, and the Jayhawks are the final power team we have left in the tournament.  KU possesses the same criteria as most of the past national champions.  The last team not to meet our minimum criteria that eventually won the national championship was this very same Kansas team in 1988.  We believe that on Sunday, the Jayhawks will restore some normalcy to this season’s Big Dance and prove to be the one Fred Astaire among a bunch of wannabes.

 

Kansas will not wilt under the pressure defense applied by VCU.  In fact, it will lead to a bunch of easy looks and a high shooting percentage.  The Jayhawks pass the ball like teams from the past, and they know how to hit open shots.  With Josh Selby possibly coming out of his shooting slump, we just cannot see another team defeating them this season.

 

For VCU, their real challenge will begin after the season ends.  Shaka Smart is certain to be in the mix in a number of vacant coaching jobs.  Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, and others will be interested.

 

Prediction: Kansas 77  VCU 62

 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

5:05 PM EDT—East Regional Final @ Newark

#2 North Carolina 29-7 (16) vs. #4 Kentucky 28-8 (16)

Position North Carolina Kentucky
Coach Roy Williams John Calipari
Center (44) Tyler Zeller 7-0 Jr.–15.6/7.2  54.0% FG (55) Josh Harrellson 6-10 Sr.–7.5/8.8  1.6 Blk/61.2% FG
Forward (31) John Henson 6-10 So.–11.9/10.1  3.3 Blk (3) Terrence Jones 6-8 Fr.–15.9/8.7  1.9 Blk/1.6 Ast/1.1 Stl
Forward (40) Harrison Barnes 6-8 Fr.–15.6/5.8  1.4 Ast (34) DeAndre Liggins 6-6 Jr.–8.7/4.2  2.5 Ast/1.1 Stl
Guard (1) Dexter Strickland 6-3 So.–7.4/3.1  2.2 Ast (1) Darius Miller 6-7 Jr.–11.1/4.6  1.7 Ast
Guard (5) Kendall Marshall 6-3 Fr.–6.2/2.1  6.2 Ast (12) Brandon Knight 6-3 Fr.–17.2/3.8  4.2 Ast/79.9% FT
6th (2) Leslie McDonald 6-4 So. G–7.1/2.2  (20) Doron Lamb 6-4 Fr. G–12.4/2.0  1.7 Ast
7th (25) Justin Knox 6-9 Sr. F–4.5/3.2  (30) Eloy Vargas 6-10 Fr. F/C–1.6/2.0

 

PiRate Criteria Stats

Team N. Carolina Kentucky
Pts 9 12.2
FG% 4.7 6.9
Reb 6.5 4
TO 0.7 1.5
Stl 6.1 5.3
R+T 7.52 5.91
SOS 60 60
Road% 66 61
PiRate # 16 16

 

What we have here is the basketball equivalent of the Dodgers versus the Yankees.  Two of the top programs of all time face off for the second time this season.  In December, North Carolina edged the Wildcats by a deuce in Chapel Hill.

 

The Criteria score shows this game to be a tossup, but all five of us at the PiRate Ratings believe Kentucky is the clear-cut choice in this game.  John Calipari is on the verge of getting his third different school into the Final Four.  His teams always play better against an opponent once they have faced that opponent.  Against Florida, they learned after the first game how to slow down the Gators.  They learned how to stop them cold after the second game, and in the event they see them a fourth time, they will repeat it again.  That is getting a bit too far ahead.

 

North Carolina lacks the quickness to stop the Kentucky penetration, and if the Blue Mist hits at least 35% of their three-pointers in this game, they will advance to the Final Four.

 

North Carolina has a decided depth advantage, but the Tar Heels are not as deep as they once were.  With the longer time outs in this tournament, Kentucky can get by with six key players.

 

We see this game as one of spurts.  The Tar Heels will have two or three spurts, but Kentucky will have three or four.  We believe that UK will take the lead for good with five or six minutes left in the game.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 78  North Carolina 72

March 21, 2011

PiRate Ratings Sweet 16 Preview

Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

Team W – L Pts FG% Reb TO Stl R+T SOS Road% PiRate #
Arizona 29-7 8.7 2.5 3.6 -0.1 5.2 4.52 55 63 4
Brigham Young 32-4 14.1 4.0 3.0 3.5 8.0 9.72 58 86 18
Butler 25-9 7.8 1.5 2.9 1.7 6.0 5.35 54 65 4
Connecticut 28-9 7.7 3.5 4.8 0.3 6.5 5.27 60 75 11
Duke 32-4 17.1 7.1 3.1 2.7 7.3 7.83 58 79 17
Florida 28-7 9.1 4.2 6.0 0.3 5.9 6.42 60 78 15
Florida State 23-10 7.3 7.7 4.6 -0.8 8.5 5.34 54 61 5
Kansas 34-2 17.1 11.8 7.9 0.8 7.8 9.40 59 95 23
Kentucky 27-8 12.2 6.9 4.0 1.5 5.3 5.91 60 60 16
Marquette 22-14 7.0 2.9 2.7 2.1 7.3 6.38 57 44 3
North Carolina 28-7 9.0 4.7 6.5 0.7 6.1 7.52 60 65 16
Ohio State 34-2 18.0 7.6 4.9 4.8 7.1 13.08 58 88 23
Richmond 28-7 9.2 6.0 -1.9 2.1 6.0 1.12 52 81 3
San Diego State 34-2 13.2 7.1 6.9 1.6 6.2 9.28 58 95 19
V C U 25-11 3.9 2.0 2.1 -0.6 8.3 0.90 54 65 -1
Wisconsin 25-8 9.9 1.8 3.8 2.1 3.5 5.56 57 53 9

 All Times EDT

Number in (Parentheses) indicates PiRate Criteria Rating

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

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

PiRate Criteria Numbers Updated To Reflect 1st Three Round Results

Thursday, March 24, 2011

7:15 PM on CBS 

West Regional @ Anaheim

#2 San Diego State 34-2 (19) vs. #3 Connecticut 28-9 (11)

Connecticut faces the first team in the tournament that has the defensive capacity to slow down Kemba Walker.  If Walker has a below-average game, the Huskies’ shooting percentage will head too far south, because UConn does not shoot all that well.

 

The Aztecs can make life miserable on opposing shooters, so if they contain Walker, SDSU has the advantage at the other four positions on the floor.  Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas remind us somewhat of former UCLA greats Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe.

 

The Aztecs’ eventual downfall may come when they are exploited by a defense that forces them to beat them from outside.  Connecticut just may be able to pull that off, so this game cannot be considered a slam dunk for the #2 seed Aztecs.

 

Prediction: San Diego State 67  Connecticut 61

 

7:27 PM on TBS 

Southeast Regional @ New Orleans

#2 Florida 28-7 (15) vs. #3 Brigham Young 32-4 (18)

This one should be interesting, as Florida tries to get revenge for a first round overtime loss to BYU last year.

 

We did not have much faith in the Cougars after Brandon Davies was dismissed for the season.  BYU recovered in the second and third rounds, and the 22-point win over Gonzaga was quite impressive.

 

Still, we discount the Cougars by three points with the absence of Davies.  This makes this game a tossup in our eyes. 

 

Florida is playing inspired ball, but we still do not believe the Gators are on par with their prior two national champion teams.  Offensively, the Gators spread the ball around, and all five starters typically score double figure points.  Defensively, they are underneath, and they frequently find ways to pressure the ball out front.  However, the top defender, Kenny Boynton, may not be 100% in this game.  He has an important assignment.

 

That assignment happens to be guarding Jimmer Fredette.  If Fredette tops 30 points without taking 30 shots to do so, the Cougars could easily give the Mountain West Conference a second team in the Elite Eight.

 

We are split on this game, and we did not come to a conclusion which way to go.  So, we will stick with the higher-rated PiRate Criteria score and go with the Cougars.

 

Prediction: B Y U 82  Florida 78

 

9:45 PM on CBS

West Regional @ Anaheim

#1 Duke 32-4 (17) vs. #5 Arizona 29-7 (4)

With Kyrie Irving back in the fold, Duke has the best eight-deep roster in the nation.  We believe the Blue Devils are the third best team in the Sweet 16 with Irving back.  He scored 25 points in the two games in Charlotte in just 41 minutes, and he picked up some rebounds as well.

 

The Blue Devils’ only thing close to a liability is their defense at forward.  Kyle Singler, Miles Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly have trouble against sneaky fast opponents.

 

Arizona’s forwards have that quickness.  Derrick Williams is as important to the Wildcats as Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette are to their teams.  Jesse Perry only averages seven points per game, but he can take it to the basket against a slower defender.

 

Arizona’s weakness is their defense against power offense.  Duke’s slower forwards as well as center Mason Plumlee can take advantage of the Wildcats’ defensive deficiencies. 

 

Coach K deserves to be compared with John Wooden.  Wooden’s UCLA teams won four games in the NCAA Tournament to win the championship in a field of 22-25 teams.  Krzyzewski’s have been forced to win six in a field of 64, 65, and 68.  We believe he is worth an extra five to 10 points, and we will select Duke to make it to the Elite Eight.

 

Prediction: Duke 77  Arizona 68

 

9:57 PM on TBS

Southeast Regional @ New Orleans

#4 Wisconsin 25-8 (9) vs. #8 Butler 25-9 (4)

Pick against Butler at your own risk.  If the Bulldogs can beat Pittsburgh, there is no reason to believe they cannot return to the Final Four.

 

We did not believe Wisconsin could make it to the Sweet 16 either.  As many readers know, we have ties to U Dub, and this group of Badgers did not look strong enough to us to make it to the second week of the tournament.

 

The PiRate Criteria indicates that Wisconsin is the favorite, but with our internal numbers that we do not advertise, we rate this game as a 50-50 affair.

 

Butler has the experience in close games.  They keep finding a way to win.  However, Wisconsin is one of those tough teams that can neutralize what has been working for Coach Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs.

 

This game could very well come down to the final few possessions, and the winner may struggle to top 55 points.  We do not see any more than 100 field goal attempts, and as few as eight players could score points in this game.

 

Matt Howard can force Wisconsin to bring a big man outside, and that will allow Andrew Smith to work with a little more clearance inside.  If Shelvin Mack keeps his hot streak going, Butler can win this one.

 

If Howard is not on target, and the Badgers do not have to respect his outside shooting ability, Coach Bo Ryan’s team will pack it in, control the boards, and then work patiently to set up Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer.  The tandem could score 40 points with the rest of the team adding just 15, and it could be enough to win this game.

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 55  Butler 54

 

Friday, March 25, 2011

 

7:15 PM on CBS

East Regional @ Newark

#2 North Carolina 28-7 (16) vs. #11 Marquette 22-14 (3)

We do not believe the Tar Heels are Final Four candidates this season.  No matter which team wins the game in the adjacent bracket, we see the Tar Heels losing in the Elite Eight.  However, the margin should be slim.

 

This is the Sweet 16 game, and Coach Roy Williams’ team is more than talented enough to advance to Sunday.  With the outside shooting of Kendall Marshall and Leslie McDonald combined with the take-it-to-the-hoop skills of Harrison Barnes and John Henson and the mandatory doubling down on big center Tyler Zeller, North Carolina will score a lot of points in this game.

 

Marquette’s only hope is for three players to be hot from the field, because Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles will have to outscore North Carolina to win this game.

 

Marquette cannot go head-to-head inside and win this game.  They will have to hit 50% from the field to keep this game close.  From among Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder, and Dwight Buycks three of these players will need to score 15-25 points each.  We see the Golden Eagles coming up short in this one.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 82  Marquette 79

 

7:27 PM on TBS

Southwest Regional @ San Antonio

#1 Kansas 34-2 (23) vs. #12 Richmond 29-7 (3)

Richmond apparently was seeded a few spots to low.  The Spiders have shown that the Atlantic 10 Conference is just below the top six or seven conferences in the nation and well above the average mid-major league.

 

Chris Mooney’s team can shoot the ball and prevent the opponent from shooting the ball.  With an inside-outside punch in big forward Justin Harper and sharpshooting guard Kevin Anderson, Richmond can score points consistently, albeit at a slower pace. 

 

Two things will do the Spiders in Friday night.  They are vulnerable against power teams and teams that can get on the boards for offensive rebounds.  Xavier and Old Dominion showed the blueprint for beating Richmond.

 

Kansas can take that blueprint and build a super foundation.  The Jayhawks are the best passing team in the tournament, and Coach Bill Self’s big men know how to move and get open to receive those passes.  Marcus and Markieff Morris can hit the boards at both ends, and Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor know how to get the ball to them.  KU will advance to play for a spot in the Final Four on Sunday.

 

Prediction: Kansas 73  Richmond 62

 

9:45 PM on CBS

East Regional @ Newark

#1 Ohio State 34-2 (23) vs. #4 Kentucky 27-8 (16)

This is the first contest in the tournament where both teams are rated worthy of making the Elite Eight. 

 

Ohio State has actually moved a couple of percentage points ahead of Kansas for the top overall Criteria score.  The Buckeyes are strong where Kentucky is strong, but Coach Thad Matta’s team also has strength were Kentucky has been vulnerable.  Tough perimeter defense forced George Mason to wilt in the Round of 32, and in William Buford, Jon Diebler, and David Lighty, Ohio State can cut off the perimeter game of most teams. 

 

With the great Jared Sullinger roaming the low post and baseline areas, Kentucky has to dedicate a big man to roam with him.  That will be the Wildcats’ downfall Friday night.  If Terrence Jones is forced to guard Sullinger, expect Josh Harrellson to have a hard time defending the paint against Ohio State’s quicker forwards and slashing guards.  If Harrellson goes out to guard Sullinger, he will have a hard time guarding the nation’s top big man.  Coach John Calipari will have to pick his poison.

 

Kentucky will need a great night from Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb.  If the two players and Darius Miller do not combine for 50 points, Kentucky will be heading back to Lexington, and the sports fans in the Commonwealth can turn their attention to Uncle Mo and the first Saturday in May.

Prediction: Ohio State 76  Kentucky 69

 

9:57 PM on TBS

#10 Florida State 23-10 (5) vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth 25-11 (-1)

This game guarantees that one double-digit seed will make it to the Elite Eight, and Kansas fans must be quite happy about it.

 

We have two teams that have found a new gear in their engine at the most opportune time.  VCU was not even supposed to be in this tournament after failing to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.  Instead, the Rams just became the first team to win three NCAA Tournament games in less than a week since Texas Western in 1966.  Texas Western went on to upset Kentucky and win the National Championship.  VCU is not Texas Western.  That TWU (Now UTEP) team was rated in the top five in the nation.

 

Florida State has not been to the Final Four since Hugh Durham took the Seminoles to the 1972 National Title game.  This team is not in that FSU team’s league.

 

So, what do we have here?  Florida State is a team that in most years would have been fortunate to win one game.  VCU is a team that in most years would probably be playing this week for a trip to Madison Square Garden and the NIT semi-finals.

 

VCU has a negative PiRate Criteria score, but it is moving close to zero.  Still, we cannot recall a negative criteria score making it to the Elite Eight.

 

Note: Both FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton and VCU Coach Shaka Smart are being mentioned as possible candidates for the vacant Tennessee job.

 

Prediction: Florida State 65  Virginia Commonwealth 60

 

Coming Saturday Morning: We will preview the Southeast and West Regional Final games.

March 20, 2011

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

All Times EDT

Number in (Parentheses) indicates PiRate Criteria Rating

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

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

 

12:15 PM on CBS

North Carolina (15) vs. Washington (13)

CBS gives you the most exciting 3rd round game to start off your Sunday.  These teams can get up and down the floor and score quickly.  We expect it to be more like the late 1960’s when North Carolina and Davidson met in the NCAA Tournament for a couple of historic games.

 

The Tar Heels are the slight favorite, but this game could go either way.  When you have two teams capable of topping 85 points, it comes down to which team can control the boards and force more turnovers.  North Carolina should win the battle on the boards, but Washington should win the turnover battle and force more steals.

 

We thought about taking the Huskies, but Coach Roy Williams has a long history of getting to the Sweet 16, while Coach Lorenzo Romar has a shorter history of doing so.

 

We think this will still be undecided with five minutes to go, but the Tar Heels have three go-to guys that can win this game (Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, while UW has two (Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning).  Three to two odds makes for a 60% chance that nothing will be finer in Carolina today.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 83  Washington 76

 

2:45 PM on CBS

Duke (15) vs. Michigan (Elim)

Shortly after we released the 68-team preview last week, the news that Kyrie Irving was ready to play once again changed Duke’s criteria score.  We have not set way to add points in cases like this; we have to make a semi-educated guess.  Before Irving went down to injury, Duke was 8-0, outscoring opponents by a score of 89-66.  He returned to play against Hampton, so in the nine games in which he has contributed, Duke’s average scoring margin is 89-64.  We figure Irving’s presence makes Duke seven to 10 points better.  That would place their PiRate Criteria score right there with Kansas for the top spot.

 

Michigan caught the biggest break in this tournament.  They played a Tennessee team that completely quit once a six-point Volunteer lead was wiped away.  The Wolverines outscored Tennessee 52-16 the final 24 minutes of their game.

 

Duke will not wilt if Michigan erases a six-point Blue Devil lead.  This team is better than last year’s national champion with Irving teaming up with Nolan Smith.  Last year’s champion was a little stronger inside, but with Irving, Smith, Kyle Singler, Mason and Miles Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, and Andre Dawkins, Coach Mike Krzyzewski has too many weapons to completely stop.

 

Michigan relies on three-point shooting and great penetration.  Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway, Junior can take the maize and blue on their shoulders and make life miserable for opposing teams that are not overly aggressive defensively.  Duke is not one of those teams.

 

The Blue Devils will stifle the Michigan offense and score enough fast break points and second-chance points to win this one by double digits.

 

Prediction: Duke 76  Michigan 61

 

5:15 PM on CBS

Ohio State (21) vs. George Mason (8)

George Mason has done it before.  The Colonials knocked off Connecticut and North Carolina among others when they made their historic run to the Final Four in 2006.  This GMU team has more talent and almost as much experience, making the Colonials a legitimate contender to advance to the Sweet 16.

 

One problem for GMU: they are facing the team with the second best PiRate Criteria score.  Ohio State has too much firepower for Coach Jim Larranaga to pull magic out of a hat again.

 

Jared Sullinger is too strong and quick inside for the Colonials to stop, and Ryan Pearson will not be able to have a big game against the Buckeyes’ inside defense.  Jon Diebler and William Buford will see a lot of open looks from outside, and we cannot see both having an off day.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 74  George Mason 59

 

6:10 PM on TNT

Texas (18) vs. Arizona (3)

The Longhorns almost could not hold onto a big lead in their first game, while Arizona never could break away from Memphis in theirs.

 

We believe Texas will be more focused on this game and put together 40 minutes of total basketball.  The Longhorns present tough matchup problems with four starters that are great combo inside-outside players.  When they get their mind into the game, they can control a game at both ends of the floor.

 

Jordan Hamilton, Gary Johnson, Tristan Thompson, and Cory Joseph should be focused after watching a huge lead against Oakland almost evaporate entirely in the final minutes.

 

Arizona benefitted from playing a weak second-round opponent.  The Wildcats are not back to where they were in the Lute Olson days.  In Derrick Williams, they have an inside player that can dominate in the paint, but he can be neutralized by an opponent that gets the Wildcats into a running transition game.

 

Texas is not a pure running team, but the Longhorns can take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.  They will do so today.

 

Prediction: Texas 78  Arizona 65

 

7:10 PM on TBS

Purdue (16) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (-1)

Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart may be on the radar of two or three big-time coaching searches.  The second year coach has proven to be an excellent tournament tactician.

 

This Ram team does not figure to advance into the second week of the tournament, because in the past, teams with negative PiRate Critieria scores only made it to the Sweet 16 if their first two opponents had either negative scores or ELIM scores.

 

Purdue is only 11-6 since their 15-1 start.  If E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson do not combine for at least 35 points and 20 rebounds, the Boilermakers can be beaten.  We tend to believe that both stars will shine brightly today, and the lads from West Lafayette will be preparing for a mighty rivalry game later in the week.

 

Prediction: Purdue 73  V C U 64

 

7:45 PM on truTV

Syracuse (17) vs. Marquette (3)

When a conference places 11 teams in the Big Dance, it goes that there could be matchups of teams from that conference facing off in earlier rounds.  For the second time this weekend, the Big East has another “conference game” in the NCAA Tournament.

 

In the regular season, Marquette won a close game in Milwaukee, 76-70.  It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Orangemen following an 18-0 start.  Once the ‘Cuse got over their midseason swoon, they recovered to win six in a row before meeting the hot Huskies from Connecticut in the Big East Tournament.

 

Is a 14-loss team good enough to advance to the Sweet 16?  This is not your father’s Marquette teams.  Bo Ellis, Lloyd Walton, Dean Meminger, and Butch Lee are not walking through that door.  Al McGuire won’t be receiving a couple of technical fouls.

 

The Golden Eagles have one thing going for them; they know how to attack Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense.  They should get enough open looks to keep this game close, and if they can come close on the boards, they will be there at the end.

 

We expect a close game, but Syracuse will dictate the tempo.  Expect a lower-scoring game, with Syracuse’s Rick Jackson being just a little too much for Marquette’s interior defense to handle.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 68  Marquette 62

 

8:40 PM on TNT

Kansas (23) vs. Illinois (1)

Kansas remembers well what happened one year ago just down I-44 in OKC from where they are playing today.  The Jayhawks exited the tournament as one of the co-favorites to win it all, when Northern Iowa pulled off a major shocker.

 

We do not see KU meeting a similar fate in Tulsa today.  This team is loaded with talent, both inside and outside, and they have no major liabilities to be exploited.  Markieff and Marcus Morris are the best set of twins in college basketball since the Van Arsdale brothers (Dick and Tom) in the 1960’s. The two combine for 31 points and 15+ rebounds per game.  Off the bench, beefy Thomas Robinson provides extra inside punch.

 

The taller of the twins, Markieff can set up outside and bury the three-pointer or pass high-low to his brother.  It is hard to stop both, so opponents have to sell out to stop the inside threat first.

 

Illinois greatly underachieved this season.  The Illini should have contended for second place in the Big Ten and should have won five or six additional games.  A team talented enough to beat North Carolina by 12 points as well as Oakland, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Penn State handily also lost to Illinois-Chicago and Indiana.  For the Illini to have a chance in this game, they will have to penetrate the KU defense and force fouls.  For two reasons, we do not believe that will work today.  First, the officiating in this tournament has been very relaxed.  Second, we do not believe Illinois point guard Demetri McCamey can get through the front line of defense enough times to change the outcome of the game.

 

Prediction: Kansas 80  Illinois 68

 

9:45 PM on TBS

Notre Dame (11) vs. Florida State (2)

Too bad this one isn’t being played at the Fiesta Bowl.  These former football rivals will meet in Chicago where the St. Patrick’s Day celebrants should be back to normal today.  We consider Notre Dame to have a slight near-home court advantage, and the Irish really do not need anything extra to win this game.

 

Florida State gets extra points for Chris Singleton’s return from injury.  However, Singleton scored just five points and grabbed just two rebounds in 16 minutes of play in the win over Texas A&M; this was not very Kyrie Irving-like.  He is not ready to take the Seminoles on his shoulders and lead them into the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 65  Florida State 59

 

Coming Later This Week: We will update the PiRate Criteria Scores based on the two games each of the Sweet 16 teams playe

March 19, 2011

Saturday’s NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

All Times EDT

Number in (Parentheses) indicates PiRate Criteria Rating

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

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

 

12:15 PM on CBS

Kentucky (14) vs. West Virginia (6)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Kentucky 74  West Virginia 67

 

2:40 PM on CBS

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

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Florida 75  U C L A 62

 

5:15 PM on CBS

Morehead State (3) vs. Richmond (2)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Morehead State 64  Richmond 62

 

6:10 PM on TNT

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: San Diego State 72  Temple 62

 

7:10 PM on TBS

Pittsburgh (18) vs. Butler (7)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 71  Butler 59

 

7:45 PM on CBS

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 84  B Y U 75

 

8:40 PM on TNT

Kansas State (9) vs. Wisconsin (7)

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Kansas State 59  Wisconsin 55

 

9:40 PM on TBS

Connecticut (9) vs. Cincinnati (9)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Connecticut 69  Cincinnati 59

March 14, 2011

2011 PiRate NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:01 pm

1. Which teams meet the upper range criteria in every category?  That means they outscored their opponents by eight or more per game; their field goal percentage was greater than 7.5% better than their opponents; they outrebounded their opponents by five or more per game; they forced at least three more turnovers per game than they committed; and they stole the ball 7.5 or more times per game.

 

ANSWER—No teams this year meet all the perfect criteria described above.  Six teams come close to meeting the perfect criteria, but all fall short in at least one statistic.  This means there is no clear-cut favorite—only six teams that most closely resemble the great champions of the past.  Of the six, three come from power conferences.  These three are Kansas, Ohio State, and Syracuse.

 

Kansas fails to meet the turnover margin requirement, but the Jayhawks surpass all the other qualifications.  Ohio State comes up a tad bit short in field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and steals per game, but just misses in all three.  Syracuse misses in rebounding and turnover margin, but they Orangemen do not miss by much. 

 

2. Which teams can be immediately eliminated due to a negative R+T rating?  Which teams have an incredibly low R+T Rating (<2.0)?

 

ANSWER—Three teams can immediately be eliminated due to negative R+T Ratings.  It comes as no surprise that Alabama State and Texas-San Antonio, two teams facing off in the First Round in Dayton, have negative R+T ratings.  The third team is Michigan.  The Wolverines were outrebounded by 1.9 boards per game, and they only had a +1.4 turnover margin with just 4.7 steals per game.

 

Five other teams finished with R+T ratings less than 2.0.  This usually means one and done for these teams, unless they have outstanding FG% margins or cupcake opponents with worse criteria numbers.  Those five teams are: Penn State, Richmond, St. Peter’s, UCLA, and UCSB.

 

3. Which teams are capable of winning it all?

 

ANSWER—We separate the contenders from the pretenders by looking at the total PiRate Criteria score and then looking to see if the high criteria scoring teams receive merit on every individual statistic.

 

Last year, Duke was head and heels better than the other 64 teams.  The Blue Devils had the highest score overall, and they satisfactorily rated in every PiRate category.

 

No teams appear to be as strong this year as the Blue Devils were last year, but nine teams meet most of the minimum requirements to be considered Final Four contenders this year.

 

It should come as no surprise that the top two teams, Ohio State and Kansas, rank at the top in the Criteria.  Kansas actually has the highest score of the 68 teams, a score of 23.  The Jayhawks outscored their opposition by 17.2 points, shot 11.7% better from the field than their opponents, and outrebounded their opponents by 7.8 boards per game.  These stats are worthy of a powerhouse.  However, KU enjoyed just a 0.9 turnover margin and stole the ball 7.9 times per game, giving the Jayhawks an R+T Rating of 9.5.  We tend to look for teams with an R+T Rating in excess of 10, so KU is not a great favorite to go all the way. 

 

Ohio State’s total Criteria score is 21, good for second best.  However, the Buckeyes enjoy an R+T Rating of 13.2, which is a number we really like in a Final Four contender.  This number correlates to 13 extra scoring opportunities that their opposition does not receive.  OSU outscores their opponents by 17.3 points per game, shot 6.9% better from the field than they allows, outrebounded their opponents by 4.9 per game, had a turnover margin of +4.8, and stole the ball 7.2 times per game. 

 

San Diego State comes in third with 19 total criteria points.  BYU, Pittsburgh, and Texas come in next with 18 points; the Panthers have an R+T rating above 10.  The other three teams with PiRate Criteria scores showing themselves to be strong contenders for a Final Four berth are Syracuse, Purdue, and Duke

 

Florida, North Carolina, and UNLV are actually almost in a statistical tie with Duke, meaning those three are dark horse candidates for the Final Four.

 

Overall, this is the weakest field by far in the six tournaments where we have ranked the teams according to our criteria.  Looking back, this could be the weakest field since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. 

 

North Carolina State, Kansas, and Villanova won national titles in the past with less than stellar numbers.  We do not have all the statistics from those years, so we cannot really calculate criteria numbers for those three champions.  Could this be a season in which one team gets hot for six games and comes from out of the pack to win it all?  It could happen, but we are sticking with this mechanical system and going with its results.  Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Texas appear to be the best PiRate Criteria matches to past Final Four teams, and they are the quartet we officially pick to make it to Houston.  Syracuse becomes the wildcard team that could sneak into the mix.

 

Here is a look at the First Four Round One games and the 32 second round games.  The number in (parentheses) represents the PiRate Bracketnomics criteria number.

 

First Four Round

 

#16 Texas-San Antonio 19-13 (Elim) vs. #16 Alabama State 17-17 (Elim)

At first, we thought this was highly ironic, but upon further review, we consider it sort of a compliment.  These two teams both must be eliminated based on negative R+T ratings.  Of course, one of them must win this game so that they can advance to a 25-point or more loss in the next round.

 

Most of you filling out your brackets do not have to worry about these games in Dayton.  You get to turn in your choices after these games have been played.

 

UTSA has better criteria numbers after you factor out both teams’ R+T numbers. 

 

Prediction: Texas-San Antonio 64  Alabama State 55

 

 

#12 U A B 22-8 (2) vs. #12 Clemson 21-11 (1)

If you have been following the “experts” since the pairings were announced Sunday evening, then you know that these two teams do not belong in the tournament in their opinion.  It is not our mission statement to declare which teams should and should not have been included in the Big Dance, but we will tell you that Harvard and Saint Mary’s enjoyed Criteria scores several points better than these two teams, while Colorado and Virginia Tech had equal numbers to these two.

 

This game should be as close as the criteria scores show.  UAB has a one-point advantage in the criteria, but the Blazers just do not excel in any stage of the game.  Clemson’s strong point is forcing turnovers by way of steals, and that leads to a lot of cheap baskets.  Cheap baskets pay off big time in the NCAA Tournament, so we will take the Tigers in this one.

 

Prediction: Clemson 74  UAB 67

 

#11 Southern Cal 19-14 (-1) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth 23-11 (-1)

The winner of this game is going home two days later.  Neither team merits inclusion in the Big Dance this year. 

 

Southern Cal has no apparent weakness according to the PiRate Criteria.  In fact, they have a great resume—for an NIT team.

 

The Trojans outscore their opponents by four points per game, and they outshoot them by 3.3%.  They have a small rebounding margin of 1.2, and they have an even smaller turnover margin of 0.6.  They average six steals per game and have a R+T rating of 2.1.  On top of these modest numbers, their schedule was average.

 

VCU is much in the same boat as USC with two exceptions.  They have a negative turnover margin, but they also average 8.5 steals per game.

 

The only other difference in these teams is their records away from home.  USC won only 41% of their games, while VCU won 60%.

 

This one is quite tough to pick, but we will go with the Trojans due to their superior inside talent.  We expect USC to win the rebounding edge by at least five.

 

Prediction: Southern Cal  65  V C U  60

 

#16 UNC-Asheville 19-13 (-5) vs. #16 Arkansas-Little Rock 19-16 (-13)

Obviously, we have two teams that would not even merit NIT bids had they lost in the championship games of their conference tournaments.  UALR has one of the lowest Criteria Scores in the seven years we have been calculating this data.

 

UNC-Asheville actually has a couple of positive Criteria stats.  Their R+T is 5.5, which had it come against a more difficult schedule, would have made them worthy of becoming a possible team to watch in the Round of 64.

 

We will go with UNCA here, as schedule strength is about the same for both teams.

 

Prediction: UNC-Asheville 69  Arkansas-Little Rock 59

 

 

Second-Round Games

 

East Regional

 

#1 Ohio State 32-2 (21) vs. #16 UTSA (Elim)/Alabama State (Elim)

This game will be over quickly.  There will be no scare, not even for two TV timeouts.  The second highest Criteria score versus one of the teams with an R+T Rating of “Eliminate.”

 

The Buckeyes outscored their opponents by more than 17 points per game.  Their strength of schedule was 13 points better than UTSA and 16 points better than Alabama State. 

 

We will go under the theory that UTSA will be the opponent in this game.  Using our Criteria Rating, Ohio State figures to be 30-40 points better than UTSA.  Coach Thad Matta will definitely empty his bench early in this game, so the Buckeyes may “only win” by 25-30. 

 

Prediction: Ohio State 78  Texas-San Antonio 50

 

#8 George Mason 26-6 (8) vs. #9 Villanova 21-11 (5)

George Mason is the higher seed in this game, so if they win, it cannot really be considered an upset.

 

Villanova was on course to be a four-seed when the Wildcats were 16-5 and contending for the Big East Conference regular season title.  The Wildcats could not compete down low against the more physical teams in their league.

 

George Mason has a higher PiRate Criteria Score, but it is not an insurmountable advantage.  The key stat for this game is the R+T Rating.  For GMU, it is 6.8.  For VU, it is 4.9.  Considering that Villanova played a harder schedule, these numbers basically cancel each other out, thus making this a tossup game.

 

There are two variables to consider here.  George Mason performed much better on the road, and Villanova is banged up a bit.

 

Prediction: George Mason 66  Villanova 62

 

#5 West Virginia 20-11 (6) vs. #12 UAB (2)/Clemson (1)

We believe the Mountaineers will be facing Clemson in this game, but the prediction will hold up if they play UAB. 

 

West Virginia is not as good this season as last season, and the Mountaineers will not advance to the Final Four, or even the Elite Eight.  They are liable to be out by the end of the weekend.  However, they are strong enough to get into the Round of 32. 

 

The Mountaineers best attribute is that they put up decent numbers against one of the toughest schedules in the country.  Of the NCAA Tournament teams, only Georgetown played a tougher schedule.  They will have to limit turnovers, or else this game will be close and go down to the wire.  We believe Coach Bob Huggins will be able to keep the pace at a level he likes and not allow Clemson (or UAB) to force the Mountaineers into enough mistakes to turn the tide.

 

Prediction: West Virginia 69  Clemson 62 (Or UAB 58)

 

#4 Kentucky 25-8 (14) vs. #13 Princeton 25-6 (-2)

Princeton has pulled off the big upset in the past, and they came within a missed jumper at the buzzer of becoming the only #16 seed to beat a #1 seed.  However, that was two decades ago.  The Tigers have not been to the NCAA Tournament in seven years, and that big win over UCLA was 15 years ago. 

 

Kentucky is not the type of team that will allow Princeton’s style of play to affect their style of play.  The Wildcats should actually play better than their norm with fewer mistakes. 

 

We believe that Princeton will actually crumble under relentless man-to-man pressure and turn the ball over enough times in the opening minutes of the game to allow the Wildcats to open a quick double-digit lead.  This group of Cats tends to fiddle around a little once they get a quick double-digit lead and then play uninspired ball until the opponent makes a run.  Then, they go on the attack at the right time and put the game away.

 

Adolph Rupp had a team just like this in 1958.  They were called “The Fiddlin’ Five.”  They were also called National Champions.  We won’t go so far as to put UK into this category, but we will advance the Wildcats into the next round and then into the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 72  Princeton 59

 

#6 Xavier 24-7 (8) vs. #11 Marquette 20-14 (3)

If you are looking for a tough, hard-fought game with two Midwestern teams, then tune into this game Friday evening.

 

If the Musketeers were a little more competent at forcing turnovers, they could be a dark horse candidate to advance to the Elite Eight.  XU shoots the ball well and plays well on defense when it comes to preventing a lot of easy shots.  They do well on the boards, and against a team that cannot exploit their ball-handling and ball-hawking deficiencies, they will hold their own inside.  The only other possible problem for the Musketeers is a lack of depth, but in the NCAA Tournaments, TV timeouts are longer.  It is hard to wear a team down with such long breaks every four or so minutes.

 

Marquette does not have enough depth to take advantage of Xavier’s lack of depth, so this factor will become a non-factor.  The Golden Eagles got to this tournament due to their ability to put the ball into the basket.  Marquette needs to shoot better than 46% to win, while Xavier is adept at holding teams under 45% as a rule.

 

Prediction: Xavier 71  Marquette 65

 

#3 Syracuse 26-7 (17) vs. #14 Indiana State 20-13 (-4)

Syracuse has been getting very little national exposure since their 18-0 start ended with an 8-7 finish.  The Orangemen are a team to watch in this tournament.  If not for a pedestrian 71% winning percentage away from the Carrier Dome, we would have them as one of the top four teams in this tournament.

 

Coach Jim Boeheim’s team outscores their opposition by 10.3 points per game; they outshoot them by 7.6%, and they outrebound them by 3.6 boards per game.  Their turnover margin is +1.9, and they averaged almost nine steals per game.  Their R+T Rating is 7.6, and their Strength of Schedule is somewhere between above-average and very good.  This is the Criteria Score of a team that will advance to the Sweet 16 and compete for an Elite Eight and Final Four berth.

 

Indiana State needs the return of Larry Bird to win this game.  They are too perimeter-oriented.  The Sycamores do not have the beef down low to contend in the paint, and even though Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone, teams rarely beat the Orangemen by firing up 25 long-range bombs.

 

This one smells like a blowout.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 81  Indiana State 62

 

#7 Washington 23-10 (13) vs. #10 Georgia 21-11 (2)

Washington is one of those teams that can play with anybody in this tournament—when they are playing up to their potential.  The Huskies could also exit in the first round if they play like they did the weekend they went to Oregon and Oregon State.

 

Georgia is much more consistent, but their best effort will not defeat the Huskies’ best effort.

 

Washington lacked the seasoned experience this season, and it showed when they ventured away from Seattle.  The Huskies lost to weaker opponents because they lacked the composure to win on foreign courts.  That changed when they arrived in Los Angeles for the Pac-10 Tournament.  Isaiah Thomas took over command of the team and led them to the tournament title.  This makes UW a scary and dangerous team capable of returning to the Sweet 16.

 

Georgia must really dominate the glass in this game, because we believe they will turn the ball over too many times against UW’s pressure man-to-man defense.  It is our opinion that the Bulldogs will play a little timidly at the start of this game and find themselves in a hole.

 

The Bulldogs had trouble against Alabama’s defense, and Washington is similar but with a much better offense.

 

Prediction: Washington 78  Georgia 70

 

#2 North Carolina 26-7 (15) vs. #15 Long Island 27-5 (-1)

 

Long Island is just the type of team that can forget that their opponent is a dynasty program that chews up and spits out little programs like this.

 

Teams from Brooklyn don’t intimidate easily, especially when they are led by a trio of Texans.  So, LIU will not be intimidated, but will they be talented enough to make a game of this contest?

 

That’s the rub.  They lack the defensive ability to slow down the Tar Heels, while Coach Roy Williams’ team will be able to hold the Blackbirds under their scoring average.  The big problem for LIU will be holding onto the ball, and we could see North Carolina forcing 20 turnovers in this game.  When the Tar Heels force more turnovers than they commit, they are almost unbeatable.  This game could be interesting for a short time, but it will eventually get out of hand.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 88  Long Island 70

 

West Regional

 

#1 Duke 30-4 (15) vs. #16 Hampton 24-8 (-8)

Duke has nothing to worry about here.  This will be like one of their November/December home games where they quickly put the cupcake away with a barrage of power and speed.  You know the type: a 37-point win over Princeton; a 34-point win over Miami of Ohio; a 52-point win over Colgate.

 

Hampton got to the Dance using an aggressive defense and three-point shooting barrage on offense.  Duke will not be affected by the defensive pressure, and they will cut off the open shots from the outside.  It will be a mercy killing, and it will be quick.  Look for the Blue Devils to be up by more than 15 points before the halfway point of the first half.  By the time Coach K empties the bench, the Blue Devils should be up by 25-30 points.

 

Prediction: Duke 81  Hampton 61

 

#8 Michigan 20-13 (Elim) vs. #9 Tennessee 19-14 (10)

Michigan is the highest-rated team that fails to meet our R+T Rating requirement, so the Wolverines are automatically tabbed as a first-round loser.

 

Coach Jim Beilein has been in a similar position before.  He guided a West Virginia team with not-so-flashy Criteria numbers to the Elite Eight, where they forced Louisville to come from 20 points down to rally for the victory.  That WVU team had one of the worst negative rebounding numbers of any team in Elite Eight history, but that team made few mistakes and had a nice turnover margin.

 

This Michigan team was only outrebounded by two a game, but they do not create enough extra possessions with their miniscule turnover margin of 1.4 and their average of just 4.7 steals per game.

 

Tennessee has been up and down, and the Volunteers are not going to make a repeat run to the Elite Eight this year.  However, Coach Bruce Pearl’s troops will control the boards in this game and maybe force more turnovers than they commit.  We figure that Tennessee will have 10 more opportunities to score in this game, and that is too many for the Wolverines to make up with their three-point shooting.

 

Prediction: Tennessee 74  Michigan 69

 

#5 Arizona 27-7 (3) vs. #12 Memphis 25-9 (-1)

Memphis was not going to earn an at-large bid this season had they failed to win the Conference USA Tournament.  They received an ideal first round opponent, and the Tigers actually have a fighting chance to pull off yet another classic #12-seed over #5-seed upset.

 

Arizona needs to pound the ball inside and rely on numerous offensive rebounds to win this game.  Other teams might be able to exploit Memphis’s poor ball-handling skills, but the Wildcats do not have the defensive acumen to take advantage here.

 

Memphis will try to make this an up-tempo game where they can neutralize Arizona’s height advantage inside.  It has a chance of working, but Arizona probably has too much power inside and just enough quickness to stop the Tigers’ transition game.

 

Prediction: Arizona 76  Memphis 69

 

#4 Texas 27-7 (18) vs. #13 Oakland 25-9 (3)

This has become a popular upset pick in the media.  Oakland has generated a lot of positive press, and many “experts” are calling for the upset in this game.  We are not one of them.  Not only do we believe the Longhorns will take care of Oakland with relative ease in this game, we believe Texas is a force to be reckoned with in the next two or three rounds. 

 

Let’s look at Texas’ Criteria Rating.  At 18, the ‘Horns rate as our sixth best team in the tournament.  They have a 13.5 point scoring margin, a 7.1% field goal margin, a 6.6 rebounding margin, and a 1.2 turnover margin.  Their only Achilles Heel is a low amount of steals resulting in a R+T Rating of 8.3.  Had that number been above 10, we would be selecting Coach Rick Barnes’ team for the Final Four.

 

Oakland won this year with strong rebounding and an excellent ability to force their opponents into bad shots.  Center Keith Benson is a future NBA player, but he is not enough to propel the Golden Grizzlies into the next round.

 

Prediction: Texas 77  Oakland 65

 

#6 Cincinnati 25-8 (9) vs. #11 Missouri 23-9 (10)

On paper, this looks like the best game of this round between a team with contrasting styles.

 

Cincinnati is one of the top defensive teams in the tournament.  The Bearcats are tough inside, and they have quality depth to continue playing hard in the paint. 

 

Missouri uses the “40 minutes of Hell” approach that Coach Mike Anderson learned under his mentor Nolan Richardson.  The Tigers press full court and run the fast break as often as they get the chance.  They are perimeter-oriented and can score a lot of points in a hurry.

 

When we try to decide tossup games, we look to the all-important defense and rebounding stats, since that is what wins close games in the Big Dance. 

 

Missouri is vulnerable in both of these crucial areas.  They have given up a lot of cheap baskets this year when teams solved their press.  The Tigers were outrebounded by 1.7 boards per game.

 

Cincinnati owns a +2.7 rebounding margin, and the Bearcats held onto the ball quite competently.  We believe Coach Mick Cronin’s crew will advance.

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 68  Missouri 65

 

#3 Connecticut 26-9 (9) vs. #14 Bucknell 25-8 (-4)

Ask Kansas Coach Bill Self if it is wise to underestimate Bucknell.  The Bison know how to hold onto the ball and work for intelligent shots.  Give them an opening, and they can bury you with a high field goal percentage.

 

Connecticut did the unthinkable by winning five games in five days.  Their defense does not get the merit it deserves, because Kemba Walker gets more attention for his offensive antics.  The Huskies actually held teams under 40% from the field.

 

Coach Jim Calhoun knows how to prepare a team for tournament action.  He will have UConn ready for this game, and the Huskies will not overlook the Bison.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 73  Bucknell 58

 

#7 Temple 25-7 (5) vs. #10 Penn State 19-14 (-1)

Temple’s score must be tempered by the fact that they are a wounded team coming into this tournament.  Two starters suffered injuries late in the season, and one is out for the remainder of the year, while the other may or may not be ready to play.  We must throw out Temple’s score of “5” in the PiRate Criteria, because 40% of the key players that produced that number will either not play or be greatly less effective.

 

Penn State is a lot like Southern Cal in this tournament.  The Nittany Lions have the look of a strong NIT team.  Aside from a so-so record against a strong schedule, they really have little to offer outside of one star player. 

 

We believe this Keystone State rivalry game will be close, and it could come down to the last shot.  Because the Owls are limping, we will go with the Big Ten representative.

 

Prediction: Penn State 59  Temple 56

 

#2 San Diego State 32-2 (19) vs. #15 Northern Colorado 21-10 (-6)

Most of you reading this probably cannot remember Texas Western University, but you may have scene the movie where the Miners were too quick for Kentucky and pulled off the big upset to win the 1966 National Championship.  Maybe some of you remember the Long Beach State 49ers ascension into the top 10 under Jerry Tarkanian and then Lute Olson.  Still more can remember when Tark the Shark moved to UNLV and turned the Runnin’ Rebels into a national power.

 

San Diego State is the next Western team to fit this bill.  The Aztecs are legitimate contenders to advance deep into this tournament.  They have few exploitable weaknesses, and they are the best team West of the Rockies.  Coach Steve Fisher knows how to get teams ready for tournament play, as he has three Final Fours on his resume and one National Championship.

 

SDSU’s PiRate Criteria numbers are flashy.  Their scoring margin is 13.3 points per game.  Their FG% margin is 7.1%.  They outrebound their opposition by almost seven per game, and they force 1.6 more turnovers than they commit.  Their one weak spot is a pedestrian 6.2 steals average.  If they run up against a more powerful team inside, they could have trouble getting enough extra scoring opportunities.

 

Northern Colorado will not be one of those teams that can cause trouble for the Aztecs.  The Bears are a good rebounding team, but their rebounding prowess came against a schedule that rates 10 points weaker than San Diego State’s schedule.

 

Prediction: San Diego State 73  Northern Colorado 51

 

Southwest Regional

#1 Kansas 32-2 (23) vs. #16 Boston U 21-13 (-11)

Kansas is a team on a mission.  The Jayhawks will not allow a repeat of what happened last year, and that extra incentive should be enough to send KU to Houston.

 

Kansas has the top PiRate Criteria Score this year.  They meet the basic requirements that most prior National Champions have met—scoring margin: 17.2; FG% margin: 11.7; Rebounding margin: 7.8; Turnover Margin: 0.9; Steals per game: 7.9; R+T Ratings: 9.5.

 

How do you beat this year’s KU team?  Kansas State and Texas pulled it off by matching up well inside and going head-to-head with them in the paint.

 

Boston U has the second lowest PiRate Criteria score of the 65 teams that have positive R+T Ratings.  The Terriers are way overmatched in this game, and they will have to be glad they just made it here.

 

Prediction: Kansas 90  Boston U 62

 

#8 U N L V 24-8 (15) vs. #9 Illinois 19-13 (1)

If our ratings are worth their salt, then this game should not be all that close.  UNLV may be just the third best team in the Mountain West, but the MWC was better overall this year than the Pac-10.  Third best in the MWC makes the Runnin’ Rebels one of the dozen or so teams capable of making a two weekend run.

 

Coach Lon Kruger has taken two different teams to the Elite Eight (Kansas State and Florida).  His teams play intelligently without being flashy.

 

UNLV went 24-3 against teams not named Brigham Young or San Diego State.  They are not particularly strong on the boards, and this will eventually be their downfall.  The Rebels shoot the ball brilliantly, and they alter enough opponent shots to force a lower field goal percentage.  They also take care of the ball and do not make a lot of floor mistakes.

 

Illinois is an inconsistent, underachieving team.  This can be dangerous for the prognosticator, because it is difficult if not impossible to predict which schizophrenic state will appear for each game.

 

The Illini are not particularly strong on the glass or at taking care of the ball, and that is a recipe for disaster when the opponent is as good as UNLV.  Even if Illinois comes out playing their best basketball, it may not be enough to beat UNLV playing their typical game.

 

Prediction: U N L V  72  Illinois 64

 

#5 Vanderbilt 23-10 (5) vs. #12 Richmond 26-7 (2)

Here is another game getting a lot of attention due to its upset potential.  Historically, the #12 seed produces the a lot of great upsets.

 

This game could go either way.  Both teams have exploitable weaknesses, and it just so happens that both teams’ have the assets capable of exploiting the other’s weaknesses.

 

Let’s start with Vanderbilt.  The Commodores are not particularly strong on the defensive perimeter.  Worthy opponents have been able to beat them off the drive and get a lot of open inside shots.  This weak perimeter defense has also led to frontcourt players having to help, thus leaving open holes near the basket.

 

Richmond’s offense is a modified version of the Princeton Offense.  The Spiders have the talent to get open shots inside and in the five to ten-foot range.

 

Richmond cannot rebound against more physical teams.  The Spiders make up for their rebounding liabilities by seldom throwing the ball away.

 

Vanderbilt has an excellent physical presence inside with three beefy players that can rebound the ball on offense and defense.

 

So, which team gets the edge in our PiRate Ratings?  We always look to defense in rebounding in tossup games.  Vanderbilt holds the rebounding edge, while Richmond holds the defensive edge.  It is basically a wash, so we have to look elsewhere.  While Richmond has been much better away from home, Vanderbilt’s schedule is seven points more difficult.  We’ll go with the power conference team, but not by much

 

Prediction: Vanderbilt 70  Richmond 67

 

#4 Louisville 25-9 (12) vs. #13 Morehead State 24-9 (3)

This should be an interesting game, but in the end the big brothers are going to defeat their little brothers in this battle of two Bluegrass State teams.

 

40 years ago this week, another little brother upset a big brother on their way to a surprise appearance in the Final Four (later vacated).  In 1971, Western Kentucky did not just upset Kentucky, the Hilltoppers ran the Wildcats off the floor.  Can there be a repeat two score later?  No!

 

Coach Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are vulnerable on the boards, and Morehead State has the nation’s best rebounder in the nation in Kenneth Faried.  However, the Eagles do not have enough talent or depth to keep up with Louisville.  They may emerge with a slight rebounding edge in this game, but it will not be enough to make up for all the open shots the Cardinals will get.

 

Louisville is going to run into trouble when they meet up with a team that can rebound and play credible defense.  That would be Kansas in the Sweet 16.  Until then, they have a relatively easy route to the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Louisville 78  Morehead State 62

 

#6 Georgetown 21-10 (8) vs. #11 Southern Cal (-1)/Va. Commonwealth (-1)

Last year, we discussed Georgetown’s vulnerabilities and the probability that they would fail to make it past the first weekend.  We expected the Hoyas to fall as a favorite in their second game, but they were a one and done team.

 

This year’s team is not much better than last year’s Hoya team, but they received a much more favorable draw.

 

Coach John Thompson III’s Hoyas once again have a rather low R+T Rating thanks to a turnover margin of -1.9 and a low amount of steals per game.  They will exit from the tournament in the next round unless there is a monumental upset in their pairing.

 

Neither USC nor VCU has the talent to take advantage of Georgetown’s deficiencies.  The three teams combined have a R+T rating below Purdue’s.

 

One additional note: The Hoyas will be a tad bit better than their Criteria Score in the tournament.  Chris Wright suffered a hand fracture in the middle of the schedule, and he is expected to be near 100% for the tournament.  You have to add maybe one point to their Criteria Score, but that is not enough to put them over the top in their second game.

 

Prediction: Georgetown 69  Southern Cal 61 (or VCU 60)

 

#3 Purdue 25-7 (16) vs. #14 St. Peter’s 20-13 (-7)

If only… Purdue fans will never know just how good their team might have been with Robbie Hummel joining JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore playing together.  This would have been the best Boilermaker team since Rick Mount led Purdue to the Championship Game against UCLA in 1969.

 

The Boilermakers no longer have that one glaring weakness that Gene Keady’s teams had and thus prevented Purdue from getting past the second round.  This team does well on the boards like most of those past Purdue teams, but they are particularly strong when it comes to forcing turnovers and taking advantage by converting steals into points.  It is the way many teams go on runs that put opponents out of commission.

 

St. Peter’s just barely avoided being immediately eliminated with a negative R+T Rating.  They squeaked by at 0.1.  It might as well be a negative number, as the Peacocks were outrebounded by 0.4 per game and had a turnover margin of -0.9 against a schedule that was four points below average and seven points weaker than the schedule Purdue faced.

 

Prediction: Purdue 73  St. Peter’s 56

 

#7 Texas A&M 24-8 (8) vs. #10 Florida State 21-10 (2)

The Big 12’s third best team has enough talent to challenge for a Sweet 16 berth.  We’ll leave the next round for another time and talk about this game.

 

The Aggies have no glaring weakness, and they have a few strengths, namely rebounding and defense (which wins games in the NCAA Tournament).  They are much like Kansas Lite.  A&M was not a team of surprises during the regular season.  They beat the teams they were supposed to beat and failed to upset the teams better than they were.  We expect the trend to continue.  They are better than the Seminoles.

 

Florida State does not take good care of the ball, and that costs them in confrontations against good opponents.  The Seminoles do not play particularly well away from Tallahassee, and they should be making a quick exit from the Dance.

 

Prediction: Texas A&M 73  Florida State 65

 

#2 Notre Dame 26-6 (11) vs. #15 Akron 23-12 (-9)

This is the best Irish team since Digger Phelps led Notre Dame in the late 1980’s.  Throw in the fact that this team has a chip on its shoulders following a first round exit last year, and the Irish have to be considered the Sweet 16 favorite in their four-team pairing this weekend.

 

The Irish finished the regular season with a scoring margin of 10.4 points per game.  Down the stretch, they went 7-2 against teams in this tournament.  The Selection Committee placed Notre Dame in a bracket that should provide a very memorable Sweet 16 contest against one of their most bitter arch-rivals.

 

Akron has a big seven-foot center, but the Zips do not rebound the ball all that well.  Zeke Marshall, the aforementioned big man, concentrates his efforts on blocking shots, and he frequently is not in position to rebound the ball.  So, the blocked shot frequently turns into a made basket off an offensive rebound.  The Zips did not fare well on the road this year, and with a considerably weaker schedule than average, this does not bode well.

 

Prediction:  Notre Dame 81  Akron 57

 

Southeast Regional

#1 Pittsburgh 27-5 (18) vs. #16 UNC-Asheville (-5)/U A L R (-13)

One of us here at the PiRate Ratings might be dating himself, but he sees a lot of the 1962 Cincinnati Bearcats in this year’s Pitt team.  The Panthers have a dominating inside power game that will pulverize any finesse team that cannot hit 10 three-pointers.  Neither UNCA nor UALR has a remote chance to make this game a close contest.

 

Pitt outscored their opposition by 13.1 points per game.  This stat looks even better when you factor in that they compiled this gaudy stat playing in a league that produced 11 NCAA Tournament teams.  The Panthers outshot their opponents by 7.6%, and they totally dominated the glass with a 10.4 rebounding advantage.  If you are thinking the way to beat them is to play a packed in zone, think again.  Ashton Gibbs can bury you from outside with his near 50% three-point accuracy, and Brad Wannamaker can still get the ball inside to one of the bruisers waiting to punish you with a thunder dunk.

 

Only a negative turnover margin prevents the Panthers from being there with Kansas as a co-favorite for winning all the marbles.

 

Pitt’s cupcake opponent will have to be happy with winning their First Four game, because they will be humiliated in this game.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 78  UNC-Asheville 54 (or UALR 48)

 

#8 Butler 23-9 (7) vs. #9 Old Dominion 27-6 (10)

This is the second best matchup in this round, and the winner will put a scare into Pittsburgh in the next round and even have a decent shot at the upset.

 

Butler is now the hunted rather than the hunter.  The Bulldogs will not sneak up on anybody this year.  More importantly, they are not as talented as they were last year.  The Bulldogs fared much better on the road last year than this season.  However, down the stretch, Butler started to look like a team proficient enough to get past the first weekend once again.

 

Old Dominion has the talent to advance past the first weekend as well.  The Monarchs are a miniature version of Pittsburgh, the team they would face in the next round should they win this game.

 

ODU is the nation’s number one rebounding team with a +12.2 margin.  The Monarchs’ schedule was not outstanding, but it was on par with several teams from the so-called power conferences, and they finished 6-4 against teams in this tournament.  This is a better ODU team than the one that upset Notre Dame in the first round last year, and this game should be one you do not want to miss.

 

 

Prediction: Old Dominion 72  Butler 70 in overtime

 

#5 Kansas State 22-10 (9) vs. #12 Utah State 30-3 (14)

This is the one game where a number 12 seed winning would not really be all that much of an upset.  Utah State should have been a top eight seed in this tournament.  If we were conspiracy buffs, we would say that the Selection Committee searched for a team that the Aggies do not match up with all that well and placed them in this spot to verify their actions.

 

Kansas State does not take care of the ball well enough to advance very deep into this tournament, but their first game opponent cannot take advantage of that weakness.

 

Utah State has dominated their opponents by forcing them to play a patient half-court game with very little scoring in transition.  They prefer to work the ball patiently for a good shot and then force opponents to take a low-percentage shot.  Thus, the Aggies outrebound their opponents, but they do so by forcing more bad shots than by out-leaping their opponents.

 

Kansas State has the talent to force Utah State to play at a quicker tempo and force them to defend one-on-one.  Jacob Pullen is a poor man’s (and smaller) Derrick Rose.  He can break down most opponents off the dribble, and he should be able to force USU to resort to some type of combination defense to keep him from going wild.

 

What scares us most about Utah State is that they had two opportunities to show they are deserving of their lofty ranking.  They lost to BYU and to Georgetown, and they never really threatened to pull of the upset in either game.

 

This is one game where we are going to go against our own chalk.  Kansas State’s schedule was seven points tougher, and the Wildcats can exploit the Aggies’ weaknesses.

 

Prediction: Kansas State 70  Utah State 63

 

#4 Wisconsin 23-8 (7) vs. #13 Belmont 30-4 (9)

This game has become the most-picked upset special around the nation.  Belmont is being compared with Butler of last year.  The Bruins are lofty of all this attention-gathering admiration, but Wisconsin is not the Washington Generals.

 

Belmont has the highest scoring margin in the nation at 18.4 points per game.  The Bruins outshot their opposition by 5.7% per game, and they took a lot of three-point attempts.  They outrebounded their opponents by 3.9, and they had an eye-popping 5.3 turnover margin.  They share the top steals per game average in this tournament with Missouri at 9.7, and their R+T Rating is the best in the tournament at 16.2 (three better than number two Ohio State).

 

Of course, these statistics were compiled against inferior competition.  Belmont’s schedule strength is nine points below the national average and a dozen below their first round opponent.  Against the opponents that made it to this tournament, they were 1-3.  They beat Alabama State by 13.  The three losses were on the road to in-state rivals Tennessee (twice) and Vanderbilt, but they led in the second half of those games.

 

The last time Belmont was in the Big Dance, the Bruins came within a missed last shot of sending Duke home.   

 

Wisconsin was not expected to be this good in 2011.  This was supposed to be a minor rebuilding season for the Badgers.  The Badgers usually run Coach Bo Ryan’s Swing Offense with great efficiency, rarely turning the ball over.  They outscored their opponents by 9.9 points per game, and they outshot they outrebounded them by 3.8 boards per game. 

 

The Badgers have been a hot and cold team this year.  When they have been hot, they have been nearly unbeatable, because Ryan’s teams always limit possessions.  When they have been cold, they have been easily beatable, because Ryan’s teams always limit possessions.  They finished the season as cold as ice, so the Badgers must be considered a slight underdog in this game.

 

Prediction: Belmont 74  Wisconsin 70

 

#6 St. John’s 21-11 (9) vs. #11 Gonzaga 24-9 (13)

Here is a game where we believe the seedings should be switched.  Gonzaga has been here enough times to be considered a regular in the NCAA Tournament, like Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, and Connecticut.  This makes a baker’s dozen consecutive appearances in the Big Dance for the Bulldogs. 

 

In past years, Gonzaga had a big scorer that could take over games.  Adam Morrison comes to mind.  This year, the Zags are more difficult to prepare for, because they are more team-oriented.  There is not a big star on the roster, but all five starters are capable of taking the team on his shoulders with a hot night.

 

In their nine-game winning streak to close the season, Gonzaga eliminated Saint Mary’s from the Dance party with two victories.  The Bulldogs scoring margin in those nine games was 76-58.  This is a good team playing its best ball of the year, and we expect Coach Mark Few to win yet another NCAA Tournament game.

 

St. John’s comes into the tournament minus one of its stars.  Starting forward D. J. Kennedy went down for the season with a knee injury in the Big East Tournament, and the Red Storm is now suspect in the paint.  Their Criteria Score of nine should be discounted by two to three points.  It is enough to take this contest from tossup status to near-comfortable status for Gonzaga.

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 74  St. John’s 66

 

#3 Brigham Young 30-4 (18) vs. #14 Wofford 21-12 (-1)

So, you didn’t get a chance to see Pete Maravich play at LSU in 1968, 1969, or 1970, eh?  We must admit that nobody will ever be the collegiate equal for Maravich, but Jimmer Fredette may be the closest thing to him.

 

Throw out the floppy socks and floppy Beatles haircut and throw out some of the most unbelievable passes in the history of the game (so unbelievable that Maravich’s teammates frequently could not see them coming), and Fredette is not that far behind Maravich.

 

The sports nation will be turning its eyes to this game just to see if Fredette can make a run at a single game scoring mark.  If we remember correctly, Notre Dame’s Austin Carr set the mark back in 1970 with 61 points against Ohio U in a regional qualifier game.

 

BYU may have been a strong Final Four contender had Brandon Davies not loved his girlfriend so much.  The Cougars averaged 8.7 fewer points per game once Davies was suspended. 

 

Wofford will not be able to take much advantage of Davies’ absence.  The Terriers fared well in all PiRate Criteria categories, but they did not meet even the minimum “numbers to look for” in any category, and their schedule strength was five points below the norm. 

 

Prediction: Brigham Young 75  Wofford 63

 

#7 U C L A 22-10 (-3) vs. #10 Michigan State 19-14 (1)

If only this were a few years ago.  Neither of these historically dominating teams is going to make waves in this year’s tournament, and the winner will be around for just one more game.

 

UCLA would be a national title contender if Kevin Love had stuck around for four years.  Imagine Love as a senior on this team.  Can you say Bill Walton-like numbers?  Alas, the Bruins must get by with a couple of well above-average forwards instead of the best three-man tandem in the nation.

 

The Bruins have the worst turnover margin of any team in this tournament.  At -3.4, UCLA would need to dominate on the boards, and while they usually win that battle, it is anything but dominating.

 

Michigan State’s one asset year in and year out under Coach Tom Izzo has been their rebounding acumen.  For most teams, a +4.3 edge on the boards would be considered outstanding, but in East Lansing, this is considered a down year. 

 

Neither team has done all that well away from their home court this season, and there really is only one stat where one team stands out ahead of the other.  MSU’s schedule was four points tougher than UCLA’s schedule.  That’s our spread for this game.  

 

Prediction: Michigan State 64  UCLA 60

 

#2 Florida 26-7 (15) vs. #15 UC-Santa Barbara 18-13 (-10)

The Gators looked like a potential Final Four team in the last month, at least when they were not playing Kentucky.  UCSB is not Kentucky. 

 

Florida tends to commit too many floor mistakes to win four games in this year’s tournament.  They have enough talent to get through the first weekend, but we do not see the Gators extending their stay after that.

 

UCSB upset Long Beach State to get here, and the Gauchos are one of the weakest teams in the tournament according to our Criteria Score.  With negative rebounding and turnover margins, they just barely escape automatic elimination with a R+T rating of 0.3. 

 

Prediction: Florida 76  U C S B  54

 

 

 

Our Bracket

 

You have seen the 32 teams that we believe will win the second round games.  Here is how we fill out the rest of our bracket.

 

Third Round Winners

Ohio State over George Mason

Kentucky over West Virginia

Syracuse over Xavier

North Carolina over Washington

Duke over Tennessee

Texas over Arizona

Connecticut over Cincinnati

San Diego State over Penn State

Kansas over UNLV

Louisville over Vanderbilt

Purdue over Georgetown

Notre Dame over Texas A&M

Pittsburgh over Old Dominion

Kansas State over Belmont

Gonzaga over Brigham Young

Florida over Michigan State

 

Sweet 16 Winners

Ohio State over Kentucky

Syracuse over North Carolina

Texas over Duke

San Diego State over Connecticut

Kansas over Louisville

Purdue over Notre Dame

Pittsburgh over Kansas State

Florida over Gonzaga

 

Elite 8 Winners

Ohio State over Syracuse

Texas over San Diego State

Kansas over Purdue

Pittsburgh over Florida

 

Semifinal Winners

Ohio State over Texas

Kansas over Pittsburgh

 

National Championship

Kansas over Ohio State

December 29, 2010

PiRate Ratings For NFL Football: Week 17–January 2, 2011

Did You Enjoy Your Christmas Gift?

Last week as our Christmas gift to you, we gave all our readers a free 13-point teaser parlay for you to play.  It was a winner!  Let’s take a look at it once again.

 

Pittsburgh – ½ vs. Carolina

Jacksonville +6 vs. Washington

Baltimore +9 ½ vs. Cleveland

Oakland +13 vs. Indianapolis

Thanks to an excellent QB draw by David Garrard, the Jaguars force overtime with Washington and lost on a field goal, which was okay for this parlay.  Oakland scored a late TD to prevent the Colts from threatening to ruin the parlay at the end of the day.  Pittsburgh and Baltimore were never in doubt.  Did you use this and win?

 

NFL Playoff Possibilities

NFC

East

Philadelphia

Clinched the division and will be the number three seed no matter what happens this week

 

New York Giants

Can get in as a Wildcard two ways

1. A win over Washington and Green Bay loses or ties

2. A tie with Washington and a both a Green Bay loss and Tampa Bay loss or tie

 

North

Chicago

Clinched the division and has earned a first round bye regardless of what happens this week

They can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win plus an Atlanta loss and a New Orleans loss or tie

 

Green Bay 

Can earn a Wildcard spot three different ways

1. A win over the Bears automatically gives them a Wildcard

2. If they lose to the Bears, they still qualify if both the Giants and Tampa Bay also lose

3. If they tie the Bears, they qualify as a Wildcard if both the Giants and Tampa Bay lose or tie

 

South

Atlanta

Has not clinched the division, but a win or tie over Carolina clinches it 

They also would clinch with a New Orleans loss or tie 

If they win the division, they will also clinch a first-round bye. 

Can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs if they win or tie or if Chicago and New Orleans both lose or tie

 

New Orleans

Has clinched a playoff spot 

If the Saints win and Atlanta loses, they would become division champions and earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs

 

Tampa Bay

Can still earn a Wildcard spot with a win over the Saints plus a Green Bay loss or tie and a Giants loss or tie

 

West

The winner of the St. Louis—Seattle game will clinch the division and earn the number four seed 

If they tie, the Rams win the division

 

AFC

East

New England

Has already clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs

 

New York Jets

Have clinched a Wildcard spot.

 

North

Pittsburgh and Baltimore have already clinched playoff spots

 

Pittsburgh

Can clinch the division and earn the other first-round bye three different ways

1. A win over Cleveland

2. A tie with Cleveland coupled with a loss or tie by Baltimore

3. A loss to Cleveland, coupled with a loss by Baltimore

 

Pittsburgh can be a #2 seed with a win, but they could fall all the way to #6 if they lose and both Baltimore and the Jets win.

 

Baltimore 

Can clinch the division and earn a first-round bye two ways

1. A win over Cincinnati coupled by a Pittsburgh loss or tie

2. A tie with Cincinnati and a Pittsburgh loss.

 

South

This division has not yet been decided 

The division winner will play in the opening week in the Wildcard Playoff round

 

Indianapolis

Clinches the division with a win or tie or a Jacksonville loss or tie 

 

The Colts would be the number three seed if they win and Kansas City loses and the number four seed if they win the division and Kansas City wins or ties

 

Jacksonville

Can clinch the division with a win over Houston and  Indianapolis loss to Tennessee 

The Jaguars would be the number four seed.

 

West

Kansas City

Has already clinched the division title and will play in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs 

If they win or tie or if Indianapolis loses or ties, the Chiefs would be the third seed 

If they lose and Indianapolis wins, the Chiefs will be the fourth seed

 

 Here is our projected Playoff bracket

NFC

#6 Green Bay at #3 Philadelphia

#5 New Orleans at #4 St. Louis

 

#2 Chicago hosts the better remaining seed that wins in the Wildcard round

 

#1 Atlanta hosts the worse remaining seed that wins in the Wildcard round

 

AFC

#6 Pittsburgh at #3 Kansas City

#5 New York Jets at #4 Indianapolis

 

#2 Baltimore hosts the better remaining seed that wins in the Wildcard round

 

#1 New England hosts the worse remaining seed that wins in the Wildcard round

 

Current NFL Standings, PiRate, Mean, and Biased Ratings
Listed By PiRate Rating                  
NFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Philadelphia  10 5 0 426 363 105.9 104.0 104.7
NY Giants 9 6 0 377 333 103.6 102.5 102.2
Dallas  5 10 0 380 423 97.9 98.4 96.6
Washington  6 9 0 288 360 94.3 97.0 97.4
 

 

                   
NFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Green Bay  9 6 0 378 237 111.2 109.2 106.8
Chicago  11 4 0 331 276 103.9 104.4 105.0
Detroit 5 10 0 342 356 98.4 100.5 100.1
Minnesota 6 9 0 268 328 97.4 98.1 99.4
                     
NFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
New Orleans 11 4 0 371 284 107.0 105.3 107.0
Atlanta 12 3 0 383 278 106.6 105.7 105.8
Tampa Bay 9 6 0 318 305 100.0 100.2 101.0
Carolina 2 13 0 186 377 90.2 88.4 88.3
                     
NFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Francisco 5 10 0 267 339 96.2 94.5 96.7
St. Louis 7 8 0 283 312 95.6 94.9 99.0
Seattle 6 9 0 294 401 92.0 91.6 94.1
Arizona 5 10 0 282 396 89.0 91.4 91.0
                     
AFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
New England 13 2 0 480 306 115.3 113.2 112.0
NY Jets 10 5 0 329 297 102.7 102.9 103.9
Miami 7 8 0 266 295 99.1 99.2 98.2
Buffalo 4 11 0 276 387 95.8 96.3 95.8
                     
AFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Baltimore 11 4 0 344 263 107.0 106.2 106.0
Pittsburgh 11 4 0 334 223 105.5 105.7 106.2
Cleveland 5 10 0 262 291 99.3 98.2 94.4
Cincinnati 4 11 0 315 382 97.9 97.9 95.3
                     
AFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Indianapolis 9 6 0 412 368 102.2 102.5 103.1
Jacksonville 8 7 0 336 385 98.7 97.7 98.4
Houston 5 10 0 356 410 98.0 97.7 96.5
Tennessee 6 9 0 336 316 93.9 98.3 95.8
                     
AFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Diego 8 7 0 408 294 104.3 105.0 102.2
Kansas City 10 5 0 356 295 100.9 101.8 102.7
Oakland 7 8 0 379 361 98.9 99.0 100.5
Denver 4 11 0 316 438 91.7 92.3 94.1

 

PiRate, Mean, and Bias Spreads
Home Team in CAPS          
Ratings Do Not Reflect Resting of Regulars by Teams That Have Nothing to Play for
Week 17: January 2, 2011          
Vegas Line as of 12:00 PM EST Wednesday          
             
Favorite Underdog PiRate Mean Bias Vegas Totals
KANSAS CITY Oakland 6.0 6.8 6.2 3 1/2 43 ½
NEW ENGLAND Miami 19.2 17.0 16.8 3    43   
INDIANAPOLIS Tennessee 11.3 7.2 10.3 9 1/2 48   
Jacksonville HOUSTON 2.7 2.0 3.9 2 1/2 49 ½
Pittsburgh CLEVELAND 2.2 3.5 7.8 6    37   
BALTIMORE Cincinnati 12.1 11.3 13.7 9 1/2 43   
DETROIT Minnesota 5.0 6.4 4.7 NL NL
WASHINGTON New York Giants 6.3 2.5 1.8 4    44 ½
GREEN BAY Chicago 10.3 7.8 4.8 NL NL
PHILADELPHIA Dallas 10.0 7.6 10.1 NL NL
NEW YORK JETS Buffalo 9.9 9.6 11.1 3    35 ½
ATLANTA Carolina 19.4 20.3 20.5 14 1/2 41   
NEW ORLEANS Tampa Bay 9.0 7.1 8.0 7 1/2 47   
SEATTLE

St. Louis 0.4 0.7 -0.9 3    41 1/2
SAN FRANCISCO Arizona 11.2 7.1 9.7 6    38 ½
San Diego DENVER 8.6 8.7 4.1 3 1/2 47   
             

 

Note to our subscription clients:  We will not issue an “official” pick for this week’s games because we do not like any of the possible parlays; too many teams have nothing to play for, but at the same time, this does not mean they will not use their regulars for four quarters.

 

 We will only issue three unofficial picks.  We advise you to take everything off the table unless you want to speculate with profits.

December 21, 2010

PiRate Ratings For NFL Football: Week 16–December 23-27, 2010

Merry Christmas to all of our PiRate readers.  We wanted to send all of you a gift this year, but we didn’t have enough boxes here on the PiRate Ship.

So, instead, we are going to issue a communal gift today.

2010 has been a very successful season for our picks, and our subscribers have pocketed a lot of PiRate booty thanks to a 69% record against the spread.

We realize that several readers to this blog are not subscribers and thus can only see our picks from the previous week after the fact.

For instance, we made just one selection last week.  It was a 3-game, 10-point teaser parlay, and it won.  We issued to our subscribers last week a bowl pick.  We took the three favorites (BYU, Northern Illinois, and Troy) and moved the spread by 10 points in our favor, making BYU a 2-point favorite, NIU a 9-point ‘dog, and Troy a 7-point ‘dog.  All three won outright and covered, making this a winning selection.

We are only playing one 13-point teaser this week as our official pick, but we had two good picks to select from.  We always make an odd number of selections, because if we play an even amount and win half, it is a losing proposition.

We are issuing our top choice to our subscribers, and they will receive this pick Thursday afternoon.  Today, we would like to issue our second choice pick to all of you as our gift.  We hope it is a winning one.  Additionally, we will show you a little behind our strategy.

Here it is:

We are going with a 4-game, 13-point teaser.  For those not familiar with this type of selection, you get to move the pointspreads 13 points in either direction, but you must win four different games.  If all four games win, you win the parlay.  If anything else happens, including three wins and a push, you lose.

There are two key statistics to look at when playing a 13-point teaser.  Number one, you need to let the numbers play in your favor by picking a game that might give you an extra point or two.  Let’s say a team is a ½-point underdog.  If you like the underdog to cover, then you get them at 13 ½ points.  That is not in your favor.  Winning teams often win games by 14 points.  

Now, let’s take another team that is a 4 ½-point underdog.  Adding 13 points in their favor makes them a 17 ½-point underdog.  Many games are decided by 17 points, while many fewer are decided by 18.

Another key point is to take a favorite that you feel has a great chance to win and move the spread to make them an underdog.  A 5 ½-point favorite becomes a 7 ½-point underdog.

Another great way to play teasers is to look at totals.  If the total for a game is 36 points, moving it 13 points lower and playing the OVER means you win if the final score is 14-10.

The other key statistic is to look for games where your own personal beliefs indicate you are getting extra points in the selection.  Let’s say that you believe one team is six points better than their opponent, and they are a 4 ½-point favorite.  Giving the 4 ½ points in a straight selection is much too close to your six points difference.  One simple botched field goal or one long field goal made by the weaker team would kill your selection.  However, if you move the spread by 13 points in your favor, this part of the parlay now makes your favorite an 8 ½-point underdog.  The team you think can win by six can now lose by more than a touchdown and still win this part of the parlay.

If you think two teams can play 10 times, and all 10 games will be within a narrow point range, you can even play both sides of a game.  For instance if Team A is favored by two points over Team B, and you believe that no matter which team wins, it will be by less than 10 points, you can take Team A at +11 and Team B at +15.

Here is our Christmas gift to you.

1. 13-point teaser parlay

Pittsburgh – ½ vs. Carolina

Jacksonville +6 vs. Washington

Baltimore +9 ½ vs. Cleveland

Oakland +13 vs. Indianapolis

 

Here is our reasoning for these four games.  Pittsburgh is in a must-win situation at home, and the Steelers will be mad after losing to the Jets Sunday.  Carolina won at home on Sunday and must turn around and play on Thursday night in possible snowy conditions with temperatures in the upper 20’s.  This is a perfect setup for the Steelers.  Carolina has nothing to play for in this game.  This is basically a pick when you lower the spread to a half point, as you win even if the Steelers win by one.

Jacksonville has everything to play for, while the Redskins have nothing.  Washington’s big game was last Sunday against their rival.  They will not have much left in the tank this week.  Coach Mike Shanahan has lost the respect of a handful of players, and they are not going to go all out.  The Jags lost a tough game to Indianapolis, and they must now win out to have a legitimate shot at the AFC South title.  You get six points as a bonus, but we see the Jags winning this one outright.

Baltimore is back in the race for the NFC North title.  The Steelers still hold the tiebreaker edge, but Pittsburgh has to play at Cleveland in week 17.  The Browns will be up for their rival, which means they may not be so up this week, especially after they just lost to their other big rival last week.  We believe Baltimore should win this outright, and we get 9 ½ points by taking the Ravens in this part of the parlay.  We have a slight problem with 9 ½, but we do not think Cleveland can win this by a touchdown if they play 10 times.

We love the Raiders in this West Coast game.  Indianapolis will not have the services of Austin Collie, and the Raiders will hold Peyton Manning to two TD passes.  Indy will have a hard time stopping the Raiders’ offense, and we see a high-scoring game.  Remember, Oakland is still in the AFC West race, and they finish with the Chiefs in Kansas City.  They already hold the tiebreaker over San Diego, and a win in week 17 would give them the tiebreaker over the Chiefs.  They have to win in week 16 for week 17 to matter, and then they have to hope the Chargers lose once.  We believe Oakland will win this game, but even if they lose, it should not be by more than three to seven points.

Current NFL Standings, PiRate, Mean, and Biased Ratings
                     
NFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Philadelphia 10 4 0 412 339 108.2 105.9 106.6
NY Giants 9 5 0 360 288 105.9 104.3 103.5
Dallas 5 9 0 354 396 98.7 99.2 99.8
Washington 5 9 0 268 343 93.9 96.9 95.4
Bitmap

 
                   
NFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Green Bay 8 6 0 333 220 108.9 107.2 105.2
Chicago 10 4 0 293 242 103.8 104.4 104.9
Detroit 4 10 0 308 329 97.3 99.7 97.8
Minnesota 5 9 0 244 314 95.1 95.9 94.2
                     
NFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Atlanta 12 2 0 369 261 107.7 106.1 107.2
New Orleans 10 4 0 354 270 105.9 103.8 105.2
Tampa Bay 8 6 0 280 290 98.6 98.9 100.3
Carolina 2 12 0 183 350 90.5 88.7 90.1
                     
NFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Francisco 5 9 0 250 314 96.6 95.3 98.0
St. Louis 6 8 0 258 295 95.2 94.9 96.4
Seattle 6 8 0 279 363 93.4 93.1 95.1
Arizona 4 10 0 255 370 88.2 90.6 88.2
                     
AFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
New England 12 2 0 446 303 112.8 110.6 110.9
NY Jets 10 4 0 295 259 102.8 103.3 103.8
Miami 7 7 0 239 261 100.2 100.0 99.7
Buffalo 4 10 0 273 353 98.3 98.0 97.7
                     
AFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Baltimore 10 4 0 324 253 106.7 105.4 106.2
Pittsburgh 10 4 0 307 220 105.2 105.4 106.5
Cleveland 5 9 0 252 271 99.6 98.3 95.0
Cincinnati 3 11 0 281 362 95.3 95.9 94.3
                     
AFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Indianapolis 8 6 0 381 342 101.2 102.2 101.5
Jacksonville 8 6 0 319 365 99.1 99.0 101.0
Houston 5 9 0 333 386 98.7 98.0 97.2
Tennessee 6 8 0 322 282 95.4 100.3 98.2
                     
AFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Diego 8 6 0 388 260 106.9 106.3 105.9
Oakland 7 7 0 353 330 99.9 99.7 101.3
Kansas City 9 5 0 322 281 99.4 100.7 99.6
Denver 3 11 0 292 415 91.0 91.8 93.2

PiRate, Mean, and Bias Spreads

Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site        
       
Week 15: December 16-20, 2010
Vegas Line as of 12:00 PM EDT Tuesday
Favorite Underdog PiRate Mean Bias Vegas Totals
PITTSBURGH Carolina 18.7 20.7 20.4 13.5 37
Dallas ARIZONA 7.5 5.6 8.6 6.5 45
MIAMI Detroit 4.9 2.3 3.9 3.5 41.5
PHILADELPHIA Minnesota 16.1 13 15.4 NL NL
JACKSONVILLE Washington 8.2 5.1 8.6 7 45.5
ST. LOUIS San Francisco 1.6 2.6 1.4 2.5 39.5
TAMPA BAY Seattle 7.2 7.8 7.2 6 44
New England BUFFALO 12.5 10.6 13.2 7.5 44
CHICAGO New York Jets 4 4.1 4.1 2.5 36
Baltimore CLEVELAND 4.1 4.1 8.2 3.5 38.5
KANSAS CITY Tennessee 8 4.4 5.4 5 42
OAKLAND Indianapolis 1.7 0.5 2.8 -3 47
Houston DENVER 4.7 3.2 1 3 48.5
GREEN BAY
New York Giants 6 5.9 4.7 NL NL
San Diego CINCINNATI 8.6 7.4 8.6 7.5 44
ATLANTA New Orleans 5.8 6.3 6 2.5 48.5

 

PiRate Playoff Projection

N F C

1. Atlanta 13-3

2. Philadelphia 12-4

3. Chicago 11-5

4. San Francisco 7-9

5. New Orleans 12-4

6. Green Bay 10-6

 

A F C

1. New England 14-2

2. Baltimore 12-4

3. San Diego 10-6

4. Jacksonville 10-6

5. New York Jets 11-5

6. Pittsburgh 11-5

 

Wildcard Playoff Round

Chicago over Green Bay

New Orleans over San Francisco

 

Pittsburgh over San Diego

New York Jets over Jacksonville

 

Divisional Playoff Round

Philadelphia over Chicago

Atlanta over New Orleans

 

New England over Pittsburgh

Baltimore over New York Jets

 

Conference Championships

Philadelphia over Atlanta

 

New England over Baltimore

 

Super Bowl

New England over Philadelphia

PiRate QB Passer Rating 


Player Team G AYPA Int % PiRate
Tom Brady NE 14 6.8 0.89 114.2
Michael Vick PHI 11 6.6 1.52 107.6
Matt Cassel KC 13 5.8 1.31 105.0
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 10 6 1.49 104.5
Josh Freeman TB 14 5.7 1.42 103.4
Phillip Rivers SD 14 7 2.37 102.3
Vince Young TEN 9 6.2 1.92 101.8
Joe Flacco BAL 14 5.7 1.77 100.3
Kyle Orton DEN 13 5.6 1.81 99.5
Colt McCoy CLE 6 5.7 1.97 98.6
Matt Ryan ATL 14 5.2 1.76 97.6
Matt Schaub HOU 14 5.6 2.12 96.7
Aaron Rodgers GB 13 6.1 2.44 96.7
Peyton Manning IND 14 5.6 2.46 93.7
Kevin Kolb PHI 6 4.9 2.61 88.4
Mark Sanchez NYJ 14 4.6 2.55 87.3
Tony Romo DAL 6 5.7 3.29 87.0
Jason Campbell OAK 11 5.1 3.05 85.7
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 12 4.9 2.97 85.3
Jon Kitna DAL 9 5.4 3.36 84.7
Drew Brees NO 14 5.2 3.33 83.8
Sam Bradford STL 14 4.1 2.71 83.1
Kerry Collins TEN 8 4.5 2.97 83.1
Donovan McNabb WAS 13 4.8 3.18 82.9
Shaun Hill DET 9 4.4 3.13 81.1
Jay Cutler CHI 13 4.9 3.53 80.4
Derek Anderson ARI 12 4.1 3.06 80.0
Chad Henne MIA 13 4.7 3.48 79.7
Alex Smith SF 9 4.4 3.36 79.1
Carson Palmer CIN 14 4.4 3.46 78.2
Jimmie Clausen CAR 11 3.1 2.88 76.0
Eli Manning NYG 14 5 4.19 75.1
David Garrard JAX 13 4.6 3.96 74.9
Matt Hasselbeck SEA 13 4.3 3.86 74.1
Bruce Gradkowski OAK 6 4 4.43 67.4
Jake Delhomme CLE 5 3.3 4.70 61.1
Brett Favre MIN 13 4 5.31 59.7
Matt Moore CAR 6 2 6.99 33.7
           
Formula: (((7 * AYPA) – (11 * Int%)) + 105) *0.8
AYPA = Air Yards Per Pass Attempt or Yards Per Attempt – Yards After Catch
AYPA can be found at advancednflstats.com

December 14, 2010

PiRate Ratings For NFL Football: Week 15–December 16-20, 2010

Current NFL Standings, PiRate, Mean, and Biased Ratings
                     
NFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
NY Giants 9 4 0 329 250 107.1 105.4 105.6
Philadelphia  9 4 0 374 308 107.0 105.4 105.6
Dallas  4 9 0 321 366 99.0 99.8 99.9
Washington  5 8 0 238 310 93.6 95.8 92.6
 NFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Green Bay 8 5 0 306 189 108.6 106.7 105.0
Chicago 9 4 0 253 228 101.6 101.7 103.2
Minnesota 5 8 0 230 274 97.3 98.4 97.5
Detroit 3 10 0 285 309 96.5 98.1 94.8
                     
NFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Atlanta 11 2 0 335 243 106.9 106.1 107.5
New Orleans 10 3 0 330 240 106.3 105.0 106.6
Tampa Bay 8 5 0 260 267 99.4 99.9 101.2
Carolina 1 12 0 164 338 90.3 88.9 89.4
                     
NFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Francisco 5 8 0 243 280 98.2 97.1 99.8
St. Louis 6 7 0 245 268 96.5 95.7 98.0
Seattle 6 7 0 261 329 94.2 93.7 96.5
Arizona 4 9 0 243 351 88.4 91.3 92.5
                     
AFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
New England 11 2 0 415 276 113.1 111.8 111.1
NY Jets 9 4 0 273 242 101.6 101.1 102.5
Miami 7 6 0 225 244 101.2 101.4 101.9
Buffalo 3 10 0 256 339 97.3 97.1 96.0
                     
AFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Pittsburgh 10 3 0 290 198 106.4 106.2 107.4
Baltimore 9 4 0 294 229 106.3 104.8 105.4
Cleveland 5 8 0 235 252 99.9 99.1 96.9
Cincinnati 2 11 0 262 345 95.0 95.1 93.9
                     
AFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Indianapolis 7 6 0 347 318 100.7 101.3 101.7
Houston 5 8 0 316 355 100.2 100.0 99.0
Jacksonville 8 5 0 295 331 99.6 99.8 101.8
Tennessee 5 8 0 291 265 93.9 97.8 93.7
                     
AFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Diego 7 6 0 354 253 105.3 105.9 104.2
Oakland 6 7 0 314 307 99.2 99.1 99.8
Kansas City 8 5 0 295 268 98.1 98.6 99.5
Denver 3 10 0 269 376 91.7 92.3 89.7

 

 

PiRate, Mean, and Bias Spreads  
Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site          
               
Week 15: December 16-20, 2010            
Vegas Line as of 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday            
               
Favorite Underdog PiRate Mean Bias Vegas Totals  
SAN DIEGO San Francisco 11.1 12.8 8.4 8 1/2 44 1/2  
ST. LOUIS Kansas City 1.4 0.1 2.5 NL NL  
Houston TENNESSEE 3.3 -0.8 2.3 -1 1/2 47     
INDIANAPOLIS Jacksonville 4.1 4.5 2.9 5    48 1/2  
CAROLINA Arizona 4.9 0.6 -0.1 2 1/2 37 1/2  
Cleveland CINCINNATI 1.9 1.0 3.0 -2    40     
MIAMI Buffalo 5.9 6.3 7.9 5 1/2 41     
NEW YORK GIANTS Philadelphia 3.1 3.0 3.0 2 1/2 46     
DALLAS Washington 8.4 7.0 10.3 6    45     
TAMPA BAY Detroit 4.9 3.8 8.4 6    43     
BALTIMORE New Orleans 3.0 2.8 1.8 2    43 1/2  
Atlanta SEATTLE 8.7 8.4 7.0 6    45     
PITTSBURGH New York Jets 8.8 9.1 8.9 6    35 1/2  
OAKLAND   Denver 10.5 9.8 13.1 6 1/2 44     
NEW ENGLAND Green Bay 7.5 8.1 9.1 NL NL  
Chicago MINNESOTA 1.3 0.3 2.7 NL NL  
               
PiRate Passer # 

Player

Team G AYPA Int% PiRate #    
Tom Brady NE 13 6.9 0.94 114.4    
Michael Vick PHI 10 6.8 1.36 110.1    
Matt Cassel KC 12 5.9 1.13 107.1    
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 9 6.2 1.72 103.6    
Josh Freeman TB 13 5.6 1.54 101.8    
Vince Young TEN 9 6.2 1.92 101.8    
Phillip Rivers SD 13 6.8 2.51 100.0    
Joe Flacco BAL 13 5.7 1.86 99.6    
Kyle Orton DEN 13 5.6 1.81 99.5    
Matt Ryan ATL 13 5.3 1.68 98.9    
Matt Schaub HOU 13 5.8 2.15 97.6    
Aaron Rodgers GB 13 6.1 2.44 96.7    
Troy Smith SF 5 5.6 2.38 94.4    
Colt McCoy CLE 5 5.4 2.36 93.5    
Peyton Manning IND 13 5.6 2.63 92.2    
Jason Campbell OAK 10 5 2.54 89.6    
Kevin Kolb PHI 6 4.9 2.61 88.4    
Tony Romo DAL 6 5.7 3.29 87.0    
Mark Sanchez NYJ 13 4.6 2.72 85.8    
Sam Bradford STL 13 4.3 2.53 85.8    
Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF 11 4.8 2.91 85.3    
Drew Brees NO 13 5.3 3.43 83.5    
Kerry Collins TEN 7 4.3 2.81 83.4    
Donovan McNabb WAS 13 4.8 3.18 82.9    
Shaun Hill DET 9 4.4 3.13 81.1    
Jay Cutler CHI 12 4.9 3.49 80.7    
Alex Smith SF 8 4.6 3.35 80.3    
Derek Anderson ARI 12 4.1 3.06 80.0    
Jon Kitna DAL 8 5.1 3.83 78.8    
Matt Hasselbeck SEA 12 4.6 3.55 78.6    
Chad Henne MIA 12 4.7 3.63 78.4    
Carson Palmer CIN 13 4.2 3.62 75.6    
Eli Manning NYG 13 4.9 4.34 73.3    
David Garrard JAX 12 4.4 4.14 72.2    
Jimmie Clausen CAR 10 2.8 3.13 72.2    
Bruce Gradkowski OAK 6 4 4.43 67.4    
Brett Favre MIN 12 4.1 5.13 61.8    
Jake Delhomme CLE 5 3.3 4.70 61.1    
Matt Moore CAR 6 2 6.99 33.7    
Formula: (((7 * AYPA) – (11 * Int%) + 105) *0.8    
   
   
                           

AYPA = Air Yards Per Pass Attempt (yards per attempt minus yards after catch)

AYPA can be found at advancednflstats.com

 

NFL Playoff Projections

 

N F C

1. New Orleans

2. Philadelphia

3. Chicago

4. Seattle

5. Atlanta

6. New York Giants

 

A F C

1. New England

2. Pittsburgh

3. Jacksonville

4. San Diego

5. Baltimore

6. New York Jets

 

Wildcard Round

Chicago over New York Giants

Atlanta over Seattle

 

Jacksonville over New York Jets

San Diego over Baltimore

 

Divisional Round

New Orleans over Atlanta

Philadelphia over Chicago

 

New England over San Diego

Pittsburgh over Jacksonville

 

Conference Championships

New Orleans over Philadelphia

 

New England over Pittsburgh

 

Super Bowl

New Orleans over New England

December 7, 2010

PiRate Ratings For NFL Football: Week 14–December 9-13, 2010

PiRate Picks Against The Spread For Last Week

We had to wait a day to post our results of last week’s picks against the spread because we wanted to go with the Patriots on Monday Night Football.  Thanks to that game completing a successful parlay, our picks finished 2-1 for the week.

 

Before we review our picks, let us take this brief moment to send an advanced warning to our subscribers.  We will only make one selection this week, but this is not to infer that we consider it an iron-clad lock of the year.  With the college season over except for the Army-Navy game (which we will lay off), it leaves just NFL games until the start of the bowls.  We have five or six games we like, but we can only make one, 13-point teaser parlay.  Consider this game like all others we give to you—on equal footing. 

 

Okay, let us now review our three selections from last week.

 

1. 13-point Teaser Parlay

Minnesota +7 ½ vs. Buffalo, Cleveland +18 ½ vs. Miami, Tennessee +9 ½ vs. Jacksonville, and Denver +20 ½ vs. Kansas City

Loss

The Tennessee Titans, and their lack of offense, did us in on this parlay.  We liked all four underdogs covering against these big numbers, but the Titans lost by 11 after extending their streak of not scoring an offensive touchdown for almost 3 ½ games.

 

2. 13-point Teaser Parlay

New York Giants +5 ½ vs. Washington, Chicago +8 vs. Detroit, Green Bay +4 ½ vs. San Francisco, New Orleans +6 ½ vs. Cincinnati

WON

This is more of the same.  We went with four favorites by small amounts and moved the spread so that they were now all underdogs.

 

3. 13-point Teaser Parlay

Oakland +26 vs. San Diego, St. Louis +10 vs. Arizona, Baltimore +16 vs. Pittsburgh, and New England +9 ½ vs. New York Jets

WON

We figured San Diego could not win by more than three touchdowns, so we took the Raiders, not expecting them to pull off the upset.  We felt as if Arizona would have a tough time beating Carolina or Detroit by 10, so it was safe taking the Rams at that number.  We believed the Steelers would score less than 17 points, so we loved the Ravens in this pick.  And, we held on until Monday night so we could take the Patriots at home as almost double-digit ‘dogs. 

 

 

Current NFL Standings, PiRate, Mean, and Biased Ratings
                     
NFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Philadelphia  8 4 0 344 281 106.9 104.9 105.6
NY Giants 8 4 0 308 247 105.9 103.7 105.2
Dallas  4 8 0 294 336 99.1 99.5 100.0
Washington 5 7 0 222 293 93.7 96.5 95.3
  

NFC North

Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Green Bay 8 4 0 303 182 110.2 108.5 106.4
Chicago 9 3 0 246 192 103.4 104.1 104.2
Minnesota 5 7 0 227 253 98.5 99.4 99.3
Detroit 2 10 0 278 306 94.9 97.0 92.7
                     
NFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Atlanta 10 2 0 304 233 106.1 105.1 106.7
New Orleans 9 3 0 299 227 105.6 103.3 105.7
Tampa Bay 7 5 0 243 251 99.3 100.1 101.4
Carolina 1 11 0 154 307 91.1 88.6 89.0
                     
NFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
St. Louis 6 6 0 232 237 97.2 97.2 97.4
San Francisco 4 8 0 203 259 96.9 95.3 95.1
Seattle 6 6 0 240 289 95.5 95.4 96.7
Arizona 3 9 0 200 338 86.0 89.1 89.9
                     
AFC East Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
New England 10 2 0 379 269 111.3 108.6 110.9
NY Jets 9 3 0 267 232 102.8 102.7 104.4
Miami 6 6 0 215 238 100.0 100.3 99.1
Buffalo 2 10 0 243 333 96.3 96.0 95.1
                     
AFC North Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Pittsburgh 9 3 0 267 191 106.2 105.6 107.4
Baltimore 8 4 0 260 201 106.2 104.8 106.1
Cleveland 5 7 0 229 239 100.9 99.7 101.6
Cincinnati 2 10 0 255 322 95.2 95.6 92.4
                     
AFC South Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
Indianapolis 6 6 0 317 290 100.6 101.3 100.1
Houston 5 7 0 288 321 100.3 99.3 99.0
Jacksonville 7 5 0 257 300 99.3 99.4 101.2
Tennessee 5 7 0 263 235 94.0 99.1 96.5
                     
AFC West Won   Lost   Tied Pts Opp PiRate Mean Biased
San Diego 6 6 0 323 353 103.7 103.5 101.1
Kansas City 8 4 0 295 237 99.7 101.8 101.2
Oakland 6 6 0 283 269 99.5 99.1 100.0
Denver 3 9 0 256 333 94.1 95.1 93.3
                     

 

 

PiRate, Mean, and Bias Spreads
Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site        
             
Week 14: December 9-13, 2010          
Vegas Line as of 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday          
             
Favorite Underdog PiRate Mean Bias Vegas Totals
Indianapolis TENNESSEE 3.6 -0.8 -0.6 3    46 1/2
JACKSONVILLE Oakland 2.8 3.3 4.2 4 1/2 43   
PITTSBURGH Cincinnati 15.0 14.0 19.0 9    39 1/2
New England CHICAGO 4.9 1.5 3.7 3    41   
Cleveland BUFFALO 2.6 1.7 4.5 -1 1/2 40   
New York Giants MINNESOTA 4.4 1.3 2.9 2 1/2 44   
Green Bay DETROIT 11.3 7.5 9.7 6 1/2 47 1/2
Atlanta CAROLINA 12.0 13.5 14.7 7 1/2 42   
Tampa Bay WASHINGTON 2.6 0.6 3.1 2    41   
NEW ORLEANS St. Louis 11.4 9.1 11.3 9    47   
SAN FRANCISCO Seattle 5.4 3.9 2.4 4 1/2 41   
NEW YORK JETS Miami 6.8 6.4 9.3 5 1/2 41   
Denver ARIZONA 5.1 3.0 0.4 4    43    
SAN DIEGO  

 

Kansas City

8.0 5.7 3.9 7    46 1/2
Philadelphia DALLAS 4.8 2.4 2.6 3 1/2 50 1/2
Baltimore HOUSTON 2.9 2.5 4.1 3    45 1/2

 

 

NFL Playoff Projections

 

NFC East

When the New York Giants bring their A-game, they are the best team in the NFC.  When they don’t, they are not playoff worthy.

 

The Eagles have continued to play at an even keel for most of the season.  We believe Philadelphia will edge the Giants for the Division title, while the Giants have to sweat it out in week 17 to see if they qualify for a Wildcard berth. 

 

Division Winner: Philadelphia

Wildcard: None

 

NFC North

The Chicago Bears have come on strong as the weather turned cold.  They have a tough closing schedule, and we believe they will fall a couple of times.

 

Green Bay has been the most consistent NFC team from week one to week 13.  We believe the Packers will catch and pass the Bears in the final five games.

 

Minnesota has virtually no chance of getting into the playoffs, even if they run the table to finish 9-7.  However, they could be a big spoiler.

 

Division Winner: Green Bay

Wildcard: Chicago

 

NFC South

Atlanta is in the cat-bird seat.  The Falcons host New Orleans, and they own a three-point overtime win over the Saints at the Superdome.  They have two games remaining with Carolina and a visit to Seattle.  They could run the table, but at the worst, they should finish 13-3 and earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

 

The New Orleans offense is beginning to pick up the pace.  The Saints have scored at least 30 points in each of their last four games.  Their final three games are tough, having to play at Baltimore, at Atlanta, and hosting Tampa Bay.  We cannot see them running the table.

 

Tampa Bay is still alive, but we believe the Buccaneers will finish no better than 9-7.  11-5 could be the necessary record to qualify as a wildcard this year.

 

Division Winner: Atlanta

Wildcard: New Orleans

 

NFC West

8-8 could very well be all that is needed to win this division.  On the other hand, we could see two teams finishing 8-8.  St. Louis and Seattle remained tied at 6-6.  The Seahawks have a tougher final four games.  They host Atlanta and St. Louis, and they play at San Francisco and Tampa Bay.  They may be eliminated by the time the Rams come to Seattle in the final week.

 

Division Winner: St. Louis

Wildcard: None

 

AFC East

New England probably secured home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with their six-touchdown win over the Jets last night.  The Patriots are ripe for an upset loss this weekend at Chicago, but we believe they have a better than 50% chance of winning.  They host the Packers the following week, and then close at Buffalo and at home against Miami.  They could run the table, but they will win at least 13 games.

 

The Jets have had trouble scoring against the playoff caliber defenses.  They still must play at Pittsburgh and at Chicago, and we believe they could lose both games.  Home games with Buffalo and Miami should allow the Jets to hang on for a playoff spot.

 

Division Winner: New England

Wildcard: New York Jets

 

AFC North

Pittsburgh holds a one game lead over Baltimore.  Both teams’ defenses are getting ready for that final drive to the finish.  Baltimore has given up 36 points in their last three games, while Pittsburgh has yielded just 29.  Both teams could run the table, but we believe Cleveland could upset Pittsburgh in a meaningless finale for the Steelers, while Baltimore could meet the same fate the week before.

 

Division Winner: Pittsburgh

Wildcard: Baltimore

 

AFC South

This division fell to pieces in a hurry.  It is now a little weaker than the AFC West.  Houston and Tennessee are headed to losing records, so it leaves Indianapolis and Jacksonville for the league crown.  Jacksonville leads by a game, but the two teams must square off again at Indy in two weeks.  This week’s contests could decide whether that game will be for all the marbles.  The Colts play at Tennessee Thursday night, while Jacksonville hosts Oakland.  Both should win those games, so a Colt win the following week could produce a tie at 8-6.  The last two games favor the Jaguars, as they host Washington and close at Houston.  Indianapolis must play at Oakland, and host Tennessee.

 

Division Winner: Jacksonville

Wildcard: None

 

AFC West

This just may be the most interesting race of all.  Kansas City leads Oakland and San Diego by two games.  The Chiefs must play at San Diego this week and then follow that up with a trip across the state to St. Louis.  It would not surprise us if they were 8-6 after week 15.  They close with Tennessee and Oakland at home.

 

San Diego’s season is done if they lost to Kansas City this week.  If they get past the Chiefs, they have a great chance to win out with games against San Francisco at home and Cincinnati and Denver on the road.  They have to run the table because they are currently 1-3 in the division and have already been swept by Oakland.

 

Oakland is still in this race at 6-6.  They swept the Chargers and hold a win over Kansas City.  Even if they lose at Jacksonville this week, wins over Denver and Indianapolis at home could make the finale at Kansas City for all the marbles.

 

Denver, with a new coach, could be a big spoiler.  The Broncos get both San Diego and Oakland.  They did split with Kansas City.

 

Division Winner: Kansas City

Wildcard: None

 

Projected Playoff Seedings

N F C

1. Atlanta

2. Green Bay

3. Philadelphia

4. St. Louis

5. New Orleans

6. Chicago

 

A F C

1. New England

2. Pittsburgh

3. Kansas City

4. Jacksonville

5. New York Jets

6. Baltimore

 

Projected Playoffs

Wildcard Round

Chicago over Philadelphia

New Orleans over St. Louis

Baltimore over Kansas City

New York Jets over Jacksonville

 

Divisional Round

Atlanta over Chicago

Green Bay over New Orleans

New England over Baltimore

Pittsburgh over New York Jets

 

Conference Championships

Green Bay over Atlanta

New England over Pittsburgh

 

Super Bowl

Green Bay over New England

 

 

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