The Pi-Rate Ratings

April 4, 2019

PiRate Ratings 2019 Final Four Preview

PiRate Ratings

Home

Rating

HCA

Visitor

Rating

Spread

Virginia

120.3

0.0

Auburn

116.8

3.5

Michigan St.

121.2

0.0

Texas Tech

119.7

1.5

 

 

Schedule

All Times Eastern Daylight

Team

Team

TIME (EDT)

TV

LOCATION

Auburn

Virginia

6:09 PM

CBS

Minneapolis

Texas Tech

Michigan St.

8:49 PM

CBS

Minneapolis

 

Bracketnomics

Note–These comparisons are totally unrelated to the PiRate Ratings above.  This system is only used for the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia vs. Auburn

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Virginia

60.22

11.7

30.2

75.0

12.7

15.7

10.6

Auburn

60.67

2.2

31.9

67.8

14.4

21.5

2.3

Strength of schedule is even, so the remaining stats can be weighted equally without handicap.  Virginia has a large advantage in both true shooting % margin and R+T Rating.  The rebounding rates in this game should allow Virginia to overcome the extra turnovers they will commit against Auburn’s defense.  Virginia faced teams with similar defenses this year, committed more turnovers than their norm while not forcing many, and yet still won.  Their losses to Duke came about because the Blue Devils could neutralize their inside muscle.  Auburn cannot do this, especially one big man down.

Prediction: Virginia 66  Auburn 58

 

Michigan St. vs. Texas Tech

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Michigan St.

61.76

13.2

33.6

73.9

16.0

12.9

11.8

Texas Tech

59.64

10.1

27.0

72.3

16.0

20.0

3.6

Michigan State has a slightly stronger strength of schedule, but not so much that the Red Raiders cannot overcome it.  The Spartans’ true shooting % margin is also slightly better, but their R+T rating is considerably better.  Texas Tech would not be given much chance to win this game if it wasn’t for the fact that their biggest strength is Michigan State’s biggest weakness.

All year, the PiRate Ratings have been telling you that Michigan State’s biggest weakness was their ability to hold onto the ball.  Texas Tech made it this far by playing an aggressive defense that has forced turnovers almost as frequently as Auburn.  This gives TTU a chance to win this game.  However, Michigan State has a commanding advantage on the glass in this game.  While this wasn’t Sparty’s best rebounding team, in fact one of its worst under Tom Izzo, but it is still much better than Chris Beard’s club.  Rebounding, especially on the offensive glass was mediocre.

This will be an interesting game, and the team that can force their asset on the other’s liability will win.  While it may be close to a 50-50 tossup, due to these two extremes in the rebounding and turnovers, the winner might win by double digits.  The reason this edition has not been released until Thursday is that it has taken the PiRates a couple of days to determine which way the Bracketnomics point to in this game.  

Prediction:  Michigan State 71  Texas Tech 65

 

 

 

 

 

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March 19, 2019

Bracketnomics 2019: Picking The Bracket

Here it is!

I’ve always wanted to post those words.  As a fanatic of the old Mother Road, Route 66, those three words have a special meaning.  In the “good ole days,”  The Jack Rabbit Trading Post near Joseph City, Arizona, used those three words to advertise that after miles of driving and seeing numerous signs for this tourist stop, they had finally arrived.

Like those Mother Road drivers, it is my hope that I have finally arrived at a successful system, one that will pick a large percentage of winners in the Big Dance.

The PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics System has been successful in the past–very successful.  Then, again, there have been major bust years, where throwing a dart at a dartboard with team names would have been just as reliable.

Numerous revisions to the system have brought me to settle on what you might have read yesterday, the Bracketnomics Tutorial, which you can read here:

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/bracketnomics-2019-picking-your-brackets/

Today, I will attempt to interpret that data from the tutorial and select a bracket based on the statistics.  This is a 100% mechanical process with no objectivity.  If you believe in 100% mechanical stock investing, then this publication is totally for you.  If you are more of a hunch player, then you will need to alter this information to better fit your beliefs, but at least let our data be a dissenting view when you consider your choices.

This post will pick all 67 games, including the games in Dayton that 99% of the bracket pools do not include.  I will pick each round today.

After the conclusion of each round, I will then post an updated bracket to assist all of you that play in a pool that allows you to pick new winners after each round.

Remember, this is still a system in its infancy with growing pains.  What I have tried to do is isolate through back-tested methods similar statistical data that past Final Four and National Championship teams possessed.

For instance, almost every national champion has possessed a scoring margin of 8 points  or better, and a large majority had double-digit scoring margins.  Almost all national champions have come from one of the “Power Conferences” or in the past were one of the top 10 Independents when there were more than 30 teams not in a conference.

Very few teams have ever made the Final Four with a negative rebounding margin, but considerably more had negative turnover margins.  At the same time, a lot of these teams had high steals per game averages, even if their turnover margin was negative.

One final factor I like to look at is style of play.  Most National Champions have been up-tempo teams that run the fast break, play some form of pressure defense (not necessarily full-court), and moves the ball quicker than average in the scoring zone.  This is not 100% exclusive.  Some patient teams that play a non-gambling style of defense have made the Final Four and a couple even won the tournament, but the trend is to go with the team that has the better chance of going on a scoring run with a 10-point or better spurt.  History shows that teams that play like North Carolina and Duke tend to get these spurts more frequently than teams like Virginia and Kansas St.

Let’s take a look at the data, starting with the First Four games in Dayton.

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Prairie View A&M

43.07

-2.7

30.0

66.1

15.2

21.7

-3.8

Fairleigh-Dickinson

43.31

5.2

28.9

68.1

17.1

18.1

-2.4

This is an excellent example for the first game of the tournament.  SOS (Strength of Schedule) is dead even, so the rest of the stats are 100% comparable.  FDU will more than likely have the better shooting night.  Rebounding should be about even, and Prairie View will more than likely force FDU into a few more mistakes than they normally commit.  Because both teams possess R+T ratings below zero, these are two 16-seeds that are going nowhere for sure.  The winner will be a blowout victim Thursday.  This is about as tossup as you can get.  I’ll go with the team with the better, but terrible R+T Rating and select

Fairleigh-Dickinson

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Temple

54.13

0.5

26.0

71.1

13.8

18.1

-3.1

Belmont

48.60

9.7

25.6

76.4

13.8

14.8

6.0

Temple has the stronger schedule by about 5.7 points per game.  Thus, the system calls for Temple’s stats to carry stronger weight than Belmont’s stats.  Temple faced better defensive teams on average than Belmont, but not enough to counter a difference of 9.2%.  Temple will have marginal rebounding advantages on both sides of the floor, but the Owls have a negative R+T.  Belmont’s R+T rating is good enough to win early, and even though the Bruins are 0-7 in past NCAA Tournaments, their mechanical data show that they are the better team.  It could be one little spurt in the second half that wins this game.

Belmont

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

North Carolina Central

39.47

3.5

35.1

73.7

19.0

17.3

8.2

North Dakota St.

47.57

3.4

20.9

75.7

14.3

13.2

-6.1

UNC Central has the weakest SOS in the entire field, and there isn’t another one even close.  North Dakota State has an R+T rating that is near the bottom of the field, one that in the past has never won more than one game in a Dance.  Once again, these are two 16-seeds that have no chance against a 1-seed.  I’m not sure they could beat any of the 15-seeds.  This one is a difficult choice–the weakest schedule or the worst R+T score.  Because I expect very low shooting percentages in this game, I will take the team likely to get the most second chance points.

North Carolina Central

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

St. John’s

55.79

-0.2

21.3

70.3

12.8

18.3

-8.0

Arizona St.

55.20

2.3

32.4

73.6

15.9

16.7

6.8

Once again, we have teams with identical SOS, which makes the selection a lot easier.  St. John’s has the second worst R+T rating in the entire field.  Case closed right away.  Arizona State will enjoy at least one big run in this game, and the Sun Devils will put this game away at that point.  This has the looks of a potential blowout win.

Arizona State

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Louisville

61.61

6.1

29.2

74.2

15.5

14.3

2.9

Minnesota

59.44

1.8

31.7

72.2

15.0

14.5

1.1

Louisville’s schedule is marginally tougher, so they will get a slight upward adjustment  in their data.  The Cardinals have a clear advantage in true shooting margin and an ever so slight R+T advantage.  This makes it 3 for 3 in Louisville’s favor, but it’s three slim advantages.  The Cards are the slim favorite according to the data.

Louisville

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

LSU

58.56

3.2

37.3

69.6

15.3

18.0

10.1

Yale

49.95

8.8

26.0

75.9

16.1

13.5

3.6

Note:   Unless something changes, LSU Coach Will Wade is still suspended and will not coach this game.  My system has no contingency to adjust LSU’s stats.

LSU’s SOS is almost nine points stronger, so their numbers must be improved.  Thus, the Tigers have a slightly better TS%, a much better rebounding advantage, and a considerably better R+T rating.  Yale might keep it close for some time, but LSU will enjoy a killer scoring spurt to put this game away.

LSU

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Auburn

59.71

1.8

33.0

68.0

14.7

22.0

3.9

New Mexico St.

48.05

4.8

36.8

79.0

14.5

17.6

18.7

This is going to be a game you will want to watch, even if you have no dog in this fight.  I expect the teams to top 75 possessions in this game.  Two of the top 20 coaches in college basketball will face off, and Aggie head coach Chris Jans should be on the radar of some power conference teams looking for a new coach.

Auburn has a large SOS advantage of 11.66 points per game, which is prohibitive.  The TS margin, offensive rebounding advantage, and R+T numbers heavily favor NMSU, and the Aggies have the top R+T rating in the tournament.  However, with a SOS advantage of almost a dozen points, Auburn will win the turnover battle, and NMSU’s rebounding advantage will be heavily tempered.  Score one for the SEC, but it would not be a shock if New Mexico State makes this a close game and even has a chance to win.  The Aggies should be considered as one of your potential upset teams, but I think there are better upset chances in this round.

Auburn

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Vermont

46.62

6.5

27.8

78.8

14.4

17.8

8.8

Florida St.

59.87

3.5

33.1

73.1

16.5

18

8.3

It is rare to see a Round of 64 game where the SOS difference is 13+ points and it isn’t a 1 vs. 16 or 2 vs. 15 game.  Florida State’s superior schedule makes the relatively equal numbers in the other data inconsequential.  If you are into horse racing, you know doubt know how often a non-winner of two lifetime races enters a graded handicap and beats a classic champion horse.  Vermont is the three year old that won a race against other non-winners and then entered a Graded stakes race against four and five year old horses, some of which were contenders in the Derby when they were three.  Class wins horse races, and it wins NCAA Tournament games when the upstart isn’t the next Justify.  Vermont isn’t a Justify.

Florida State

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Michigan St.

61.44

13.8

33.9

73.4

16.2

12.8

11.7

Bradley

48.52

1.7

27.4

73.8

16.8

16.5

-0.5

This game has the same issue that the previous game has, but the data is even more biased in favor of the better team.  Michigan State could start its second five in this game and probably win.  Bradley will have to settle for being glad they got to Dance.  If Tom Izzo wanted to do so, he could run up the score to a 40-point victory.  Sparty has a chance to go deep into this Tournament with their superior numbers.  Only an inability to force turnovers might eventually end their run.

Michigan State

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Maryland

59.76

7.4

33.9

75.3

17.0

12.5

8.6

Temple

54.13

0.5

26.0

71.1

13.8

18.1

-3.1

Belmont

48.60

9.7

25.6

76.4

13.8

14.8

6.0

In most of your pools, you get a free pass on the play-in games, but some of you might actually have to select these games.  Thus, I am showing you both of the teams Maryland could face.

Against Temple, the Terps have a slight SOS advantage and a humongous R+T advantage.  This system’s rule of thumb is to play against teams with a negative R+T rating.

Against Belmont, the Terps have a large SOS advantage, while the remaining stats are rather close.  This system’s other rule of thumb is to play the team with the superior SOS in this case.  So, the outcome should be the same no matter which team Maryland plays.

Maryland

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Kansas

62.55

5.5

29.7

71.6

16.1

15.7

1.9

Northeastern

51.11

6.7

22.7

75.7

15.1

14.9

-1.9

Kansas is not destined for a long stay at this cotillion.  The Jayhawks do not have the spurtability needed to win in the later rounds, but for this round, KU will feast on second chance points and take advantage of a Northeastern defense incapable of stopping a Big 12 offense.  This has the makings of a 20-point win.

Kansas

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Marquette

57.57

8.9

29.1

73.7

17.0

14.5

2.4

Murray St.

47.53

10.6

32.0

70.7

14.7

17.2

7.8

The old system had an assumption that a team with one star and average teammates rarely advanced far in the tournaments.  Remember, Michael Jordan and Stephan Curry played for teams with very good talent.  Jordan had Sam Perkins and James Worthy for teammates.

Ja Morant qualifies as one fantastic star, while the rest of his team is slightly above average but not in the Davidson mold when Curry and crew went to the Elite 8.

Marquette’s stats are not great.  The Big East was a bit weaker than normal this season, so MU is not a team to advance very far in your bracket, and in Markus Howard, you have one big star.  The difference is that the Golden Eagles have four well-above average players rounding out their starting lineup and a very good sub.

Murray State has an upset chance in this game, but when you break it down closely, Marquette should have a little more in the tank in the final minutes.  If you are looking for upset possibilities, this could definitely be put in that category, but it looks like Marquette is just good enough to avoid an upset.

Marquette

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Nevada

52.55

9.0

26.5

75.4

12.7

17.1

7.0

Florida

59.80

1.2

31.1

68.3

15.5

19.4

-0.5

This is your first big upset possibility in the games previewed so far.  Florida has a seven-point SOS advantage, but is is not enough to overcome their deficiencies in the other statistics.  Nevada coach Eric Musselman is, in my opinion, the best college basketball coach in the nation today, better than Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Jay Wright.  If UCLA is not seriously looking at him for their vacancy, they are making a monumental mistake.

Let’s look at the data.  Nevada will take more intelligent shots than Florida, other than when the Gators get a couple of cheap baskets on offensive rebounds.  The Gators’s pressure defense will not be all that effective, and Florida has shown a propensity to make crucial mistakes in the final minutes of games.  This isn’t part of the criteria per se, but it shows in their turnover percentage, and their negative R+T rating,  and the criteria does say to play against a negative R+T.

Nevada

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Kentucky

60.54

9.5

36.5

74.2

15.9

16.1

15.4

Abilene Christian

42.42

4.3

29.4

73.3

15.5

21.7

5.9

Under John Calipari, Kentucky has shown a tendency to emulate their 1958 National Champions.  Adolph Rupp’s “Fiddlin’ Five” frequently allowed an opponent to enjoy a small lead, and then like a lightning flash make a big run to decide the outcome.  The Wildcats of 2019 have displayed this characteristic more times than not.

Abilene Christian isn’t a terrible team.  They earned their invitation by sweeping the regular season and conference tournament in the Southland Conference.  However, their data is not comparable when past Southland power Stephen F. Austin won in the Dance.  This game is a mismatch, and once the Wildcats stop fiddlin’, they will run away from the other Wildcats.

Kentucky

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Villanova

58.16

5.0

31.1

72.6

14.2

15.4

3.5

Saint Mary’s

55.33

5.1

31.2

76.8

14.1

14.7

9.6

In my opinion, this should be a great game to watch.  The teams are fairly evenly matched.  Villanova’s SOS is marginally better, while SMC has the better R+T Rating.  Both teams rely on offensive rebounding to score a good bit of their baskets, and Saint Mary’s has the ability to limit Villanova’s offensive rebounding.  It comes down to R+T rating.  The Gaels have a slight advantage over the defending national champions.  I consider this a 50-50 game, but the data says to take the Gaels.

Saint Mary’s

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Gonzaga

56.14

17.7

30.6

72.9

12.8

16.5

14.3

Prairie View A&M

43.07

-2.7

30.0

66.1

15.2

21.7

-3.8

Fairleigh-Dickinson

43.31

5.2

28.9

68.1

17.1

18.1

-2.4

There is no need to preview this.  Maybe, if the game was just five minutes long, Gonzaga would have a 2% chance of being upset.  However, over 40 minutes, the only upset will be if the Bulldogs fail to win this game by more than 30 points, no matter which of the two 16-seeds wins in Dayton.

Gonzaga

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Michigan

60.07

8.4

24.0

75.0

12.0

16.1

3.2

Montana

46.25

5.4

27.0

75.3

15.5

17.5

4.7

A lot of fans and so-called pundits believe Montana has a serious upset chance in this game.  The data here disagrees.  Michigan’s SOS is so much stronger, almost 14 points per game.  The Wolverines’ TS Margin is much better thanks to a superior defense, and the Maize and Blue limit mistakes.  I believe this game has more chance to be a blowout than to approach tossup status and look for the Wolverines to win by double digits.

Michigan

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Wofford

52.24

7.9

33.1

76.6

13.6

18.2

14.3

Seton Hall

58.56

0.5

29.5

70.6

15.2

17.4

-0.6

It’s always a bit scary to look at a Mid-major favorite and go with the chalk.  Is Wofford as good as advertised?  I have seen them play about five times this year, and they have an incredible inside-outside offensive game combined with an above-average defense.

Seton Hall’s advantage rests in their SOS superiority, but the Big East was not a beast this year.  The Hall only has a minor advantage here.  In every other data point, the Terriers look like pit bulls in this game, and Seton Hall has a negative R+T rating.

Wofford

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Purdue

60.84

2.3

34.9

73.5

13.5

17.2

11.4

Old Dominion

48.87

1.3

32.3

75.2

15.1

16.3

8.4

Purdue has been one of the biggest disappointments in NCAA Tournament history ever since Joe Barry Carroll led the Boilermakers to the 1980 Final Four.  Purdue has been upset numerous times in nearly 40 years.  This system doesn’t consider that to be a factor.  However, many of those Purdue teams lacked the R+T Rating advantage.  This one does.  Purdue has a strong SOS and a double-digit R+T.  Ironically, where the Boilermakers have been historically strong, TS% margin, they are rather mediocre there this year.

Old Dominion is a solid team from an average conference.  Their only liability is an equally mediocre TS% margin, and their SOS is a tad below average.  Look for the Big Ten to pick up a win, but at some point PU will stink in a game and fail once again to reach the Elysian Fields otherwise known as Minneapolis.

Purdue

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Syracuse

59.55

1.6

30.1

66.6

15.8

19.7

-3.7

Baylor

58.27

1.3

38.0

71.3

16.5

16.1

9.1

This should be another interesting game to watch, and it should be close.  Syracuse’s 2-3 matchup zone can be hard to attack without a lot of experience facing it, so the Orangemen frequently outperform their statistics in the Big Dance.  Baylor frequently plays better in the tournament than they do in the regular season with athletes that have free reign to shine.

The numbers show one glaring liability.  The ‘Cuse have a negative R+T rating, something rarely seen in a Jim Boeheim team.  Syracuse usually rebounds quite well out of their zone, but not so this year.  Baylor has one of the best offensive rebounding numbers in the field, so the Bears have the best chance to exploit a weakness in this game.

Baylor

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Cincinnati

55.48

2.9

37.2

70.9

13.4

18.2

12.9

Iowa

58.09

4.5

30.0

70.9

15.0

16.1

-0.4

In recent years, Cincinnati has owned criteria that yell Elite 8, even Final Four worthy, but the Bearcats never come through.  This isn’t their best team in recent years, so it figures that Cinti is prone for an early exit, even though the Bearcats are playing close to home.

Iowa peaked in the middle of the season and hasn’t been the same since January.  The Hawkeyes have a slight edge in SOS and TS% margin.  Cincinnati has such an incredible edge in R+T, and Iowa’s R+T is negative.  This is enough to advance the Bearcats to the Round of 32.  I expect Cinti to get double-digit offensive rebounds and force about 15 turnovers on the Hawkeyes.  That should lead to at least one big scoring spurt.

Cincinnati

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Ole Miss

58.28

3.2

30.4

70.5

16.0

18.2

2.8

Oklahoma

60.26

4.6

26.1

72.3

15.4

15.1

-2.5

What we have here are two swooning schools.  Both teams looked like sure Sweet 16 teams into mid-January.  Since then, both teams have struggled.  The winner is almost assuredly going home after the next round.  As far as this game goes, Oklahoma has that nasty negative R+T rating, and I just cannot pick a team with a negative R+T to win unless their SOS is far superior.  Two points is not that far.

Ole Miss

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Texas Tech

58.01

9.8

28.5

71.4

16.1

20.0

4.6

Northern Kentucky

46.39

6.6

31.0

74.1

15.4

16.8

7.1

This is Northern Kentucky’s second ever NCAA appearance.  Their original appearance resulted in a single-digit loss to big brother Kentucky.  This team is about as good as that team, while this Texas Tech teams is not as good as that Kentucky team.  Of course, the Norse were super fired up to face the Wildcats, and they got their moral victory.

This time, I expect the data to mean much more.  Texas Tech has a whopping SOS advantage of almost 12 points per game.  They have a much better TS% margin when the SOS is handicapped, and even though NKU has a higher R+T number, when you handicap it to SOS, the Red Raiders actually have the advantage here, and I expect TTU to force NKU into up to five more turnovers than they average.

Texas Tech

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Kansas St.

58.91

1.4

27.9

74.5

15.1

20.3

3.5

UC-Irvine

47.26

6.6

34.3

73.6

14.9

14.7

12.2

Kansas State is one of those teams on my radar to be a potential upset victim.  Having watched UC-Irvine’s Big West Conference Tournament games, I think they have a shot in this game.

The issue is the SOS numbers.  The Wildcats’ schedule was more than 11 1/2 points stronger per game.  UCI’s toughest opposition the entire season was at home against Utah State, and the Aggies slaughtered the Anteaters by 24 points.  UCI did win at Saint Mary’s.

Kansas State has one big asset–their ability to force turnovers.  The Wildcats are not particularly strong on offense.  There Wildcats play a very patient offense and try to limit possessions, but there are nights where this strategy plays into the oppositions’ hands.  Irvine plays patient, smart basketball and will feel right at home in a 60-65 possession game with less than 120 total points.  Kansas State might have the overall better athletes, but UC-Irvine has a hot coach in Russ Turner, a man tutored by Mike Montgomery with a little Don Nelson in his background.  Here’s a 13-seed that I believe can win an opening game.  It’s a tossup.  Go with the team you believe in your mind and heart should win, because I debated this one for 30 minutes before deciding and to be quite honest, I am not sure I can really determine the superior team according to my system.

UC-Irvine

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Tennessee

59.65

9.7

31.3

70.0

13.9

15.8

5.3

Colgate

47.05

5.7

29.6

73.9

16.7

15.6

3.2

There isn’t much need to discuss much in this game–it’s a mismatch.  Tennessee has slightly better criteria stats than Colgate, and when you add a better than 12 1/2 point superiority per game in SOS, you are looking at a potential 20-30 point win.

Tennessee

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Gardner-Webb

45.44

8.8

24.8

70.2

14.7

16.4

-1.8

Virginia

60.36

13.2

29.9

74.1

12.8

15.6

9.6

Gardner-Webb is not in Baltimore County.  Additionally, the Bulldogs do not have the criteria that UMBC had at this time last year.  GWU has a negative R+T rating, and against the Pack Line defense, they will not get the crucial second chance points on offensive rebounds.  Virginia will control the boards and commit few turnovers.  How do you beat the Cavaliers without winning the rebounding and/or the turnover margin?  UVA will wash that bad taste of 2018 out of their mouths with an ugly final score in the neighborhood of 75 to 50.

Virginia

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Buffalo

53.41

6.0

31.8

73.8

13.5

18.2

10.3

St. John’s

55.79

-0.2

21.3

70.3

12.8

18.3

-8.0

Arizona St.

55.20

2.3

32.4

73.6

15.9

16.7

6.8

Bully for Coach Nate Oats.  He signed a lengthy contract extension to stay in Buffalo, when a lot of other schools were ready to pound on his door.  It makes me wonder if Buffalo has designs on maybe campaigning for a spot in a future expanded American Athletic Conference, with excellent football and basketball programs more than ready to move up.

I expect the Bulls to be facing Arizona State in this game, but let’s for a moment look at the possibility that St. John’s wins in Dayton.  With an R+T rating of -8.0, the rules of this system is to continue to play against this team unless the opponent has an incredibly low SOS, well below 45.00.  Buffalo’s SOS is about where previous Mid-Major Final Four teams George Mason, Wichita State, and Virginia Commonwealth were.  So, if St. John’s advances out of Dayton, go with Buffalo to beat their in-state rival by double digits.

Against Arizona State, this is a much more even game.  Buffalo enjoys only a very slight advantage, making this basically a 50-50 game.  The Bulls have been a little more consistent all season, while ASU has been up and down.  The data says that Buffalo is maybe a 51% chance to be the winner.

There is one other factor in this potential game, and it is not part of the criteria, but the fabulous Buffalo senior class that put this team in the top 20 were recruited by current Sun Devil Coach Bobby Hurley.

Buffalo

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Wisconsin

60.91

6.5

24.0

73.5

12.8

15.0

-1.2

Oregon

55.13

3.8

29.6

71.9

15.5

18.3

4.6

When McDonald’s All-American Bol Bol went out for the season after nine games, it looked like it was Duck Season, and the Pac-12 was full of Elmer J. Fudd hunters on the hardwoods.  Give Coach Dana Altman the utmost respect for making the necessary adjustments when he lost his 5-star stud.  His number two 5-star player, Louis King, was not ready to star when the season began.  As the season progressed, King got better and better.

Wisconsin has a slightly better SOS and TS% Margin.  Rebounding is about equal.  However, The Badgers have a negative R+T rating.  Thus, we go against UW more than in favor of Oregon.

Oregon

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Utah St.

52.13

8.7

32.0

77.8

15.5

15.5

14.8

Washington

55.60

4.4

29.5

65.7

17.4

20.5

-3.6

Utah State might be a dangerous dark horse this year!  They have the criteria resume of a Gonzaga in previous years before Mark Few took the Bulldogs to the Championship Game.  I am not predicting USU to make the Final Four this year, but they might make the second weekend.

In this game, Washington is another one of those teams with a negative R+T rating.  While, I am a bit worried that so many teams made the field this year with sub-zero R+T ratings, until one of these non-spurtable teams get to the Elite 8, they will not have my support.

Utah State

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Duke

63.09

10.3

36.1

70.4

15.0

17.1

12.1

North Carolina Central

39.47

3.5

35.1

73.7

19.0

17.3

8.2

North Dakota St.

47.57

3.4

20.9

75.7

14.3

13.2

-6.1

Don’t even think for a second that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will lose a minute’s sleep thinking about this game, no matter which 16-seed wins in Dayton.  Duke could play this game without Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, or Cam Reddish suiting up.  Heck, Coach K could take his Gary Winton-led team from Army in the 1970’s and win this game.

Duke

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Houston

55.02

8.0

34.4

74.1

14.2

15.8

13.6

Georgia St.

51.14

5.1

23.5

66.2

14.7

18

-9.6

Here is another mismatch game.  Georgia State’s -9.6 R+T rating is dead last in this field, and Houston’s 13.6 R+T rating is seventh best in the field.  Add a better SOS and better TS% margin, and this leads to a major slaughter.  Houston has won some NCAA Tournament games by very large margins in the past.  There was a 35-point pasting of TCU in the Midwest Regional Final in 1968.  The Cougars have an outside chance to top that in this game.  Kelvin Sampson will unload the bench quicker than the way Guy Lewis did, so expect the margin to be in the 20’s.

Houston

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Mississippi St.

59.59

4.3

34.8

70.2

16.5

17.1

6.2

Liberty

46.27

9.2

25.9

74.9

15.0

18.5

5.2

I expect this game to stay somewhat close, at least for most of the game.  Mississippi State has good but not great criteria data.  Liberty’s data is slightly more impressive, but the Bulldogs’ SOS is much stronger, which will probably lead to the Maroon and White prevailing by wearing down and eventually extinguishing the Flames.

Mississippi State

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

North Carolina

62.61

5.5

34.4

76.9

14.6

16.5

17.4

Iona

45.43

3.1

25

70.6

15.4

16.1

-5.4

Roy Williams knows how to get his teams ready to play in the Big Dance, and the Tar Heels are heavy favorites to advance deep into this tournament.  Their R+T rating is second best in the field.  Their SOS is also number two.

Iona is fun to watch, as they like to run and gun.  However, this plays right into UNC’s hands.  The Gaels cannot possibly win this game, and it will be hard to keep it within 20 points.  Their -5.4 R+T rating would exclude them from being picked against 50 other teams in this tournament.

North Carolina

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Virginia Commonwealth

53.22

6.8

31.3

69.3

17.4

20.0

2.9

Central Florida

54.86

9.5

29.3

70.7

15.4

15.5

2.2

This will be another potentially close and exciting game, one worth watching.  The two teams are fairly evenly matched, but only if star Rams’ star guard Marcus Evans is playing at 100% after injuring his knee in an Atlantic 10 Tournament loss to Rhode Island.  When Evans went out, VCU was dominating the Rams.  Without him, they looked like a team that might not have beaten UMass that day.

Central Florida has the unique 7 foot 6 giant, Tacko Fall.  If you haven’t seen him play, do not mistake him for past titans that could barely walk and chew gum at the same time.  Fall is not a gentle giant.  He plays with an attitude, and he is coordinated.  He can play a one-man zone under the basket and change the opponents’ field goal percentage by 10%.  On offense, he is nearly unstoppable when the Knights can get him the ball within arms’ reach of the basket, where he can dunk flat-footed.

With a healthy Evans, VCU can still press full-court and take a lot of Fall’s ability to dominate out of the game.  Make no mistake though; this is not the same Havoc defense run by former coach Shaka Smart.  VCU won’t gamble and go full out for the steal or to force a turnover.  If I had to pick which game might have the best shot at going to overtime, this one might be the one.

Central Florida

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Iowa St.

59.42

7.6

28.7

70.0

13.9

15.9

1.7

Ohio St.

59.18

2.5

27.8

73.9

16.3

16.3

-0.4

Because the SOS’s are close to equal, the remaining stats are easy to compare.  Iowa State has a clear TS% margin, and even though the Cyclones’ R+T is weak, at least it is not negative, like the Buckeyes.

Iowa State

 

Team

SOS

TS Marg

OReb%

DReb%

TOV%

DTOV%

R+T

Virginia Tech

58.33

8.6

29.7

72.6

15.4

19.0

6.4

Saint Louis

51.40

-0.8

35.8

75.2

15.8

17.2

11.2

Only three teams enter this tournament with negative TS% margins, and it makes sense.  The object of the game is to put the ball into the hoop, while preventing the other team from doing so.  Add a healthy SOS advantage, and the Billiken’s R+T rating is neutralized.  SLU’s biggest asset is the ability to force their opponents into committing turnovers, but in this game, Virginia Tech is even better at that game.  While I have heard some people  on sports talk radio express the belief that Travis Ford’s team has a legitimate upset chance in this game, I tend to believe that chances are much stronger that the Hokies win by double-digits.

Virginia Tech

 

Here is how I fill out the remainder of the bracket

For the first time ever, the number one seeds have the top four criteria.  Could it be that the Selection Committee Members all have Bachelor of Madness Degrees in Bracketnomics?

Round of 32

Duke over Central Florida

Virginia Tech over Mississippi St.

Maryland over LSU

Michigan St. over Louisville

Gonzaga over Baylor

Florida St. over Marquette

Texas Tech over Buffalo

Michigan over Nevada

Virginia over Ole Miss

UC-Irvine over Oregon

Purdue over Saint Mary’s

Tennessee over Cincinnati

North Carolina over Utah St.

Auburn over Kansas

Houston over Iowa St.

Kentucky over Wofford

 

Sweet 16

Duke over Virginia Tech

Michigan St. over Maryland

Gonzaga over Florida St.

Texas Tech over Michigan

Virginia over UC-Irvine

Tennessee over Purdue

North Carolina over Auburn

Kentucky over Houston

 

Elite 8

Duke over Michigan St.

Gonzaga over Texas Tech

Virginia over Tennessee

North Carolina over Kentucky

 

Final Four

Gonzaga over Duke

North Carolina over Virginia

 

 

Championship Game

Gonzaga over North Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 18, 2019

Bracketnomics 2019: Picking Your Brackets

Welcome to Bracketnomics 2019, the class that will earn you the coveted BM Degree, the Bachelor of Madness.

Because, we have a ton of stats to reveal tonight, we will limit the prose. If you need a tutorial about what Bracketnomics is, then refer to the following link:

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/bracketnomics-2019/

We received a handful of well-thought comments to our sister page suggesting a few things that we agree with, so you will get the kitchen sink of stats this year. Because of Robert M in New Orleans, Joel S, in Orlando, and our good friend and numbers’ savant Brandon W in San Berdoo, California, we are bringing back the old Bracketnomics data combined with the new. For what it’s worth, this year, the old data and new data come to basically the same conclusions.

A Brief Primer on the Old Criteria have us look for teams meeting these criteria

1. A double-digit scoring margin, and a secondary reward to teams with a scoring margin of 8.0 to 9.99.

2. A field goal percentage margin (FG%-Def FG%) in excess of 8%

3. A combination of rebounding margin and turnover margin combined that exceed:
A. A rebound margin of 5.0 or better no matter what the turnover margin
B. A rebound margin of 3.0 to 4.9 with positive turnover margin
C. A rebound margin of 0.1 to 2.9 with with a turnover margin of 3.0 or better
D. A turnover margin of 5.0 or better no matter what the rebound margin

4. A team that averages 7.5 or more steals per game

5. An Old R+T Rating of 10.0 or better, 5.0 or better to get from 68 to 16.
The old R+T rating was (R + (0.2 * S) + (1.2 * T)
R is rebound margin
S is steals/game
T is turnover margin

6. A Strength of Schedule in excess of 0.5500 (back then using the CBS SOS)

The old method was quite accurate for many years, but the game changed when the 3-point shot became a lot more important. The Golden State Warrior effect, actually advanced basketball metrics, showed how important total shooting percentage was and not just field goal percentage. It is a no-brainer that a team that shoots 100% of its shots inside the arc and hits 53% is worse off than a team that shoots 100% of its shots from behind the arc and hits 36%. The 53% team will score .53 points per shot attempt, while the 36% team will score .54 points per shot attempt.

The Current Method uses this data
1. Strength of Schedule
2. True Shooting % Margin
3. R+T Rating

The Strength of Schedule is now calculated by our own metric, and the current R+T Rating is:
(R + (0.5 * S) + (6 – Opp S) + T

Both the old and the new method warned about any team with a negative R+T number as they were most prone to being upset very early in the tournament, and nobody with a negative R+T number ever made the Final Four, and only one ever made the Elite 8. R+T estimates extra scoring opportunities, and they lead to game-winning scoring spurts.

Now, let’s show you some stats. Here are the raw stats for all 68 teams.

Team

SOS

TSMarg

R+T

PPG Marg

FG% Marg

Abilene Christian

42.42

4.29%

5.9

11.4

4.4

Arizona St.

55.20

2.27%

6.8

4.7

3.4

Auburn

59.71

1.85%

3.9

11.5

1.5

Baylor

58.27

1.28%

9.1

4.5

1.8

Belmont

48.60

9.68%

6.0

13.5

7.4

Bradley

48.52

1.73%

-0.5

1.6

2.3

Buffalo

53.41

6.00%

10.3

14.4

4.5

Central Florida

54.86

9.52%

2.2

7.8

6.8

Cincinnati

55.48

2.94%

12.9

9.5

2.6

Colgate

47.05

5.65%

3.2

5.8

4.6

Duke

63.09

10.32%

12.1

15.9

8.2

Fairleigh-Dickinson

43.31

5.19%

-2.4

4.1

3.6

Florida

59.80

1.17%

-0.5

4.7

0.4

Florida St.

59.87

3.52%

8.3

7.8

3.4

Gardner-Webb

45.44

8.83%

-1.8

7.8

7.6

Georgia St.

51.14

5.06%

-9.6

4.2

4.2

Gonzaga

56.14

17.68%

14.3

23.7

14.3

Houston

55.02

8.04%

13.6

14.4

7.7

Iona

45.43

3.14%

-5.4

1.2

0.8

Iowa

58.09

4.52%

-0.4

4.7

0.7

Iowa St.

59.42

7.64%

1.7

9.1

5.8

Kansas

62.55

5.52%

1.9

5.3

5.4

Kansas St.

58.91

1.35%

3.5

6.6

1.7

Kentucky

60.54

9.48%

15.4

11.3

7.5

Liberty

46.27

9.22%

5.2

13.2

7.6

Louisville

61.61

6.10%

2.9

6.7

2.9

LSU

58.56

3.18%

10.1

8.4

2.6

Marquette

57.57

8.85%

2.4

8.6

5.7

Maryland

59.76

7.39%

8.6

6.2

5.7

Michigan

60.07

8.41%

3.2

11.8

5.1

Michigan St.

61.44

13.83%

11.7

13.3

10.8

Minnesota

59.44

1.81%

1.1

1.6

0.3

Mississippi St.

59.59

4.34%

6.2

7.2

3.5

Montana

46.25

5.41%

4.7

8.5

6.6

Murray St.

47.53

10.65%

7.8

15.5

8.6

Nevada

52.55

9.02%

7.0

14.0

5.7

New Mexico St.

48.05

4.78%

18.7

14.0

4.1

North Carolina

62.61

5.49%

17.4

13.2

5.1

North Carolina Central

39.47

3.50%

8.2

5.1

2.2

North Dakota St.

47.57

3.42%

-6.1

1.0

-0.5

Northeastern

51.11

6.69%

-1.9

5.8

2.5

Northern Kentucky

46.39

6.56%

7.1

10.3

6.4

Ohio St.

59.18

2.47%

-0.4

3.4

1.7

Oklahoma

60.26

4.64%

-2.5

3.0

4.3

Old Dominion

48.87

1.33%

8.4

5.4

2

Ole Miss

58.28

3.18%

2.8

5.0

1.8

Oregon

55.13

3.77%

4.6

7.6

4.8

Prairie View

43.07

-2.66%

-3.8

2.5

-1.7

Purdue

60.84

2.31%

11.4

9.4

2.5

Saint Louis

51.40

-0.81%

11.2

3.4

0.9

Saint Mary’s

55.33

5.13%

9.6

8.5

3.8

Seton Hall

58.56

0.50%

-0.6

2.4

1.4

St. John’s

55.79

-0.20%

-8.0

2.7

1.9

Syracuse

59.55

1.59%

-3.7

4.0

2.6

Temple

54.13

0.46%

-3.1

3.6

-0.2

Tennessee

59.65

9.73%

5.3

13.2

9.8

Texas Tech

58.01

9.81%

4.6

13.8

10.4

UC-Irvine

47.26

6.58%

12.2

9.6

7.9

Utah St.

52.13

8.73%

14.8

12.4

8.3

Vermont

46.62

6.53%

8.8

11.3

3.9

Villanova

58.16

4.98%

3.5

7.4

0.5

Virginia

60.36

13.19%

9.6

16.7

9.8

Virginia Commonwealth

53.22

6.84%

2.9

9.8

5.8

Virginia Tech

58.33

8.65%

6.4

11.9

7

Washington

55.60

4.43%

-3.6

5.4

3.9

Wisconsin

60.91

6.47%

-1.2

7.7

6

Wofford

52.24

7.87%

14.3

17.4

6.6

Yale

49.95

8.75%

3.6

7.9

8.7

Team

Reb Marg

TO Marg

Stl/G

Def Stl/G

Old R+T

Abilene Christian

1.2

4.6

8.7

5.6

8.4

Arizona St.

4.8

0.3

6.2

6.3

6.4

Auburn

-0.3

5.5

9.4

5.8

8.1

Baylor

6.3

-0.8

6.1

6.0

6.6

Belmont

3.8

0.9

6.8

6.1

6.3

Bradley

1.2

-0.2

5.4

5.7

2.1

Buffalo

3.9

3.7

7.3

5.1

9.9

Central Florida

2.2

0.4

5.7

5.6

3.8

Cincinnati

5.2

3.1

6.2

3.9

10.1

Colgate

4.0

-0.9

6.2

7.1

4.2

Duke

6.1

1.5

9.5

6.5

9.8

Fairleigh-Dickinson

-0.8

1.3

7.7

6.1

2.2

Florida

-0.6

3.0

7.2

6.1

4.5

Florida St.

4.7

0.8

7.0

5.5

7.0

Gardner-Webb

-0.7

1.8

6.9

5.8

2.8

Georgia St.

-6.1

3.5

8.0

5.0

-0.3

Gonzaga

6.2

3.2

7.5

5.2

11.5

Houston

7.3

0.9

6.4

5.3

9.7

Iona

-2.2

1.0

6.8

5.5

0.3

Iowa

1.0

1.0

6.2

6.7

3.4

Iowa St.

0.7

1.8

7.0

5.2

4.3

Kansas

2.5

-0.2

6.9

6.5

3.6

Kansas St.

1.1

3.6

7.6

6.2

6.9

Kentucky

9.0

-0.1

6.0

5.7

10.1

Liberty

2.2

2.6

6.4

5.2

6.7

Louisville

3.7

-1.0

4.5

5.8

3.4

LSU

5.1

1.8

9.1

6.5

9.1

Marquette

4.4

-2.0

4.8

7.0

3.0

Maryland

8.5

-3.7

4.3

7.1

5.0

Michigan

0.2

3.2

6.1

3.7

5.3

Michigan St.

8.9

-2.6

5.2

6.4

6.9

Minnesota

2.6

-0.6

4.8

6.0

2.8

Mississippi St.

3.8

0.3

8.1

5.9

5.7

Montana

2.6

1.6

6.5

5.6

5.8

Murray St.

3.7

2.1

7.6

5.8

7.7

Nevada

2.4

3.4

6.2

4.5

7.7

New Mexico St.

9.6

1.4

5.6

4.8

12.3

North Carolina

9.7

1.0

7.2

6.7

12.3

North Carolina Central

6.4

-1.9

6.3

6.0

5.4

North Dakota St.

-1.4

-0.6

4.8

5.3

-1.2

Northeastern

0.1

0.0

6.2

5.4

1.4

Northern Kentucky

4.4

0.9

6.2

5.9

6.7

Ohio St.

1.3

-0.2

5.9

5.9

2.3

Oklahoma

0.6

0.0

5.9

6.8

1.8

Old Dominion

4.9

0.4

5.6

4.9

6.6

Ole Miss

1.5

1.9

7.3

6.0

5.3

Oregon

1.8

2.1

7.8

5.2

6.0

Prairie View

-4.4

5.5

8.8

5.1

4.0

Purdue

5.2

2.4

6.5

4.8

9.4

Saint Louis

6.6

0.3

7.1

5.9

8.3

Saint Mary’s

5.6

0.1

6.0

5.0

7.0

Seton Hall

-0.1

1.8

7.0

5.8

3.4

St. John’s

-6.2

5.1

8.8

5.2

1.6

Syracuse

-2.3

3.2

8.3

6.6

3.2

Temple

-2.9

3.7

8.7

5.5

3.2

Tennessee

3.4

1.7

6.0

6.4

6.7

Texas Tech

1.9

3.3

7.3

6.4

7.3

UC-Irvine

7.4

-0.4

5.7

5.2

8.1

Utah St.

8.9

-0.3

6.2

6.1

9.8

Vermont

4.5

2.2

5.6

5.4

8.3

Villanova

2.6

0.7

5.4

5.4

4.5

Virginia

4.9

1.9

5.6

5.2

8.4

Virginia Commonwealth

1.4

2.3

8.0

6.4

5.8

Virginia Tech

2.6

2.7

6.7

5.1

7.2

Washington

-2.5

2.9

9.0

6.1

2.8

Wisconsin

-0.3

1.8

5.1

5.2

2.9

Wofford

6.5

3.1

6.9

5.5

11.6

Yale

4.7

-1.9

5.9

7.0

3.6

What you see above is the entire 68 teams field in alphabetical order.  Let’s break it down by ranking the teams according to the data.

Let’s start with the all-important class ranking.  Here is how the teams rank according to strength of schedule.  Remember that no national champion has had an SOS below 55, and only a small handful in all the years have made the Final Four.  In the years where a team with a sub-55 SOS made the Final Four, they played an opponent in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 that also had a sub-55 SOS.

Team

SOS

Duke

63.09

North Carolina

62.61

Kansas

62.55

Louisville

61.61

Michigan St.

61.44

Wisconsin

60.91

Purdue

60.84

Kentucky

60.54

Virginia

60.36

Oklahoma

60.26

Michigan

60.07

Florida St.

59.87

Florida

59.80

Maryland

59.76

Auburn

59.71

Tennessee

59.65

Mississippi St.

59.59

Syracuse

59.55

Minnesota

59.44

Iowa St.

59.42

Ohio St.

59.18

Kansas St.

58.91

Seton Hall

58.56

LSU

58.56

Virginia Tech

58.33

Ole Miss

58.28

Baylor

58.27

Villanova

58.16

Iowa

58.09

Texas Tech

58.01

Marquette

57.57

Gonzaga

56.14

St. John’s

55.79

Washington

55.60

Cincinnati

55.48

Saint Mary’s

55.33

Arizona St.

55.20

Oregon

55.13

Houston

55.02

Central Florida

54.86

Temple

54.13

Buffalo

53.41

Virginia Commonwealth

53.22

Nevada

52.55

Wofford

52.24

Utah St.

52.13

Saint Louis

51.40

Georgia St.

51.14

Northeastern

51.11

Yale

49.95

Old Dominion

48.87

Belmont

48.60

Bradley

48.52

New Mexico St.

48.05

North Dakota St.

47.57

Murray St.

47.53

UC-Irvine

47.26

Colgate

47.05

Vermont

46.62

Northern Kentucky

46.39

Liberty

46.27

Montana

46.25

Gardner-Webb

45.44

Iona

45.43

Fairleigh-Dickinson

43.31

Prairie View

43.07

Abilene Christian

42.42

North Carolina Central

39.47

39 of the 68 teams meet the minimum requirement, including Gonzaga and Houston.  Of note, Buffalo, Nevada, Wofford, and Utah State have an SOS in the range where past Cinderella teams have snuck into the Final Four.

Now, let’s look at True Shooting percentage margins.  TS% is calculated thusly:

Points / (2 * FGA + (0.475 * FTA))

True Shooting Percentage Margin is the offensive TS% minus the defensive TS%.

Team

TSMarg

Gonzaga

17.68%

Michigan St.

13.83%

Virginia

13.19%

Murray St.

10.65%

Duke

10.32%

Texas Tech

9.81%

Tennessee

9.73%

Belmont

9.68%

Central Florida

9.52%

Kentucky

9.48%

Liberty

9.22%

Nevada

9.02%

Marquette

8.85%

Gardner-Webb

8.83%

Yale

8.75%

Utah St.

8.73%

Virginia Tech

8.65%

Michigan

8.41%

Houston

8.04%

Wofford

7.87%

Iowa St.

7.64%

Maryland

7.39%

Virginia Commonwealth

6.84%

Northeastern

6.69%

UC-Irvine

6.58%

Northern Kentucky

6.56%

Vermont

6.53%

Wisconsin

6.47%

Louisville

6.10%

Buffalo

6.00%

Colgate

5.65%

Kansas

5.52%

North Carolina

5.49%

Montana

5.41%

Fairleigh-Dickinson

5.19%

Saint Mary’s

5.13%

Georgia St.

5.06%

Villanova

4.98%

New Mexico St.

4.78%

Oklahoma

4.64%

Iowa

4.52%

Washington

4.43%

Mississippi St.

4.34%

Abilene Christian

4.29%

Oregon

3.77%

Florida St.

3.52%

North Carolina Central

3.50%

North Dakota St.

3.42%

Ole Miss

3.18%

LSU

3.18%

Iona

3.14%

Cincinnati

2.94%

Ohio St.

2.47%

Purdue

2.31%

Arizona St.

2.27%

Auburn

1.85%

Minnesota

1.81%

Bradley

1.73%

Syracuse

1.59%

Kansas St.

1.35%

Old Dominion

1.33%

Baylor

1.28%

Florida

1.17%

Seton Hall

0.50%

Temple

0.46%

St. John’s

-0.20%

Saint Louis

-0.81%

Prairie View

-2.66%

Did you notice that some of the teams with the best strength of schedule are high up in the TS% margin too, and vice versa?  Think about this.  If a team played tough competition and consistently shot better overall in these games, they have to be great teams.  The object of the game is to put the ball through the goal and stop the other team from doing this.  If a team consistently did this against other teams on par with what they must face in the Big Dance in order to cut the nets on April 8, they must be the ones to consider.

Now, let’s look at the R+T rating.  This is our secret sauce at the PiRate Ratings, even though it has been revealed in other national media.  However, unless somebody at CBS or ESPN links to this site, no more than 18,000 people will read this post today, so you stand a good chance of being the only person in your pool that has this information.

Team

R+T

New Mexico St.

18.7

North Carolina

17.4

Kentucky

15.4

Utah St.

14.8

Gonzaga

14.3

Wofford

14.3

Houston

13.6

Cincinnati

12.9

UC-Irvine

12.2

Duke

12.1

Michigan St.

11.7

Purdue

11.4

Saint Louis

11.2

Buffalo

10.3

LSU

10.1

Virginia

9.6

Saint Mary’s

9.6

Baylor

9.1

Vermont

8.8

Maryland

8.6

Old Dominion

8.4

Florida St.

8.3

North Carolina Central

8.2

Murray St.

7.8

Northern Kentucky

7.1

Nevada

7.0

Arizona St.

6.8

Virginia Tech

6.4

Mississippi St.

6.2

Belmont

6.0

Abilene Christian

5.9

Tennessee

5.3

Liberty

5.2

Montana

4.7

Oregon

4.6

Texas Tech

4.6

Auburn

3.9

Yale

3.6

Kansas St.

3.5

Villanova

3.5

Michigan

3.2

Colgate

3.2

Louisville

2.9

Virginia Commonwealth

2.9

Ole Miss

2.8

Marquette

2.4

Central Florida

2.2

Kansas

1.9

Iowa St.

1.7

Minnesota

1.1

Iowa

-0.4

Ohio St.

-0.4

Florida

-0.5

Bradley

-0.5

Seton Hall

-0.6

Wisconsin

-1.2

Gardner-Webb

-1.8

Northeastern

-1.9

Fairleigh-Dickinson

-2.4

Oklahoma

-2.5

Temple

-3.1

Washington

-3.6

Syracuse

-3.7

Prairie View

-3.8

Iona

-5.4

North Dakota St.

-6.1

St. John’s

-8.0

Georgia St.

-9.6

Wow!  Look at how many mid-major teams have great R+T Ratings this year.  New Mexico State leads the pack, but their SOS is too low to make them a humongous upset team to make the Final Four.  They are dangerous still.

North Carolina is the top power conference team in this rating, just like the Tar Heels have been twice before when they won the tournament.  Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Houston are up near the top.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have a record number of teams with negative R+T numbers in the 2019 field.  That concerns us a bit.  Normally, 5 or 6 teams will enter the Dance with a negative R+T, and we will pick against all of them.  18 of the 68 teams have negative R+T ratings this year.  What that means is that it is likely that somebody with a negative R+T rating will sneak into the Sweet 16 and then get blown off the floor against a quality team that can go on scoring spurts.  Still, the bottom eight in this rating figure to have a difficult time winning just once in this Dance.

 

Here are how the teams rank in the old criteria data.

Scoring Margin

Team

PPG Marg

Gonzaga

23.7

Wofford

17.4

Virginia

16.7

Duke

15.9

Murray St.

15.5

Buffalo

14.4

Houston

14.4

Nevada

14.0

New Mexico St.

14.0

Texas Tech

13.8

Belmont

13.5

Michigan St.

13.3

Liberty

13.2

Tennessee

13.2

North Carolina

13.2

Utah St.

12.4

Virginia Tech

11.9

Michigan

11.8

Auburn

11.5

Abilene Christian

11.4

Vermont

11.3

Kentucky

11.3

Northern Kentucky

10.3

Virginia Commonwealth

9.8

UC-Irvine

9.6

Cincinnati

9.5

Purdue

9.4

Iowa St.

9.1

Marquette

8.6

Montana

8.5

Saint Mary’s

8.5

LSU

8.4

Yale

7.9

Florida St.

7.8

Central Florida

7.8

Gardner-Webb

7.8

Wisconsin

7.7

Oregon

7.6

Villanova

7.4

Mississippi St.

7.2

Louisville

6.7

Kansas St.

6.6

Maryland

6.2

Colgate

5.8

Northeastern

5.8

Old Dominion

5.4

Washington

5.4

Kansas

5.3

North Carolina Central

5.1

Ole Miss

5.0

Arizona St.

4.7

Iowa

4.7

Florida

4.7

Baylor

4.5

Georgia St.

4.2

Fairleigh-Dickinson

4.1

Syracuse

4.0

Temple

3.6

Ohio St.

3.4

Saint Louis

3.4

Oklahoma

3.0

St. John’s

2.7

Prairie View

2.5

Seton Hall

2.4

Bradley

1.6

Minnesota

1.6

Iona

1.2

North Dakota St.

1.0

FG% Margin

Team

FG% Marg

Gonzaga

14.3

Michigan St.

10.8

Texas Tech

10.4

Tennessee

9.8

Virginia

9.8

Yale

8.7

Murray St.

8.6

Utah St.

8.3

Duke

8.2

UC-Irvine

7.9

Houston

7.7

Gardner-Webb

7.6

Liberty

7.6

Kentucky

7.5

Belmont

7.4

Virginia Tech

7.0

Central Florida

6.8

Montana

6.6

Wofford

6.6

Northern Kentucky

6.4

Wisconsin

6.0

Iowa St.

5.8

Virginia Commonwealth

5.8

Nevada

5.7

Marquette

5.7

Maryland

5.7

Kansas

5.4

North Carolina

5.1

Michigan

5.1

Oregon

4.8

Colgate

4.6

Buffalo

4.5

Abilene Christian

4.4

Oklahoma

4.3

Georgia St.

4.2

New Mexico St.

4.1

Vermont

3.9

Washington

3.9

Saint Mary’s

3.8

Fairleigh-Dickinson

3.6

Mississippi St.

3.5

Arizona St.

3.4

Florida St.

3.4

Louisville

2.9

LSU

2.6

Cincinnati

2.6

Syracuse

2.6

Purdue

2.5

Northeastern

2.5

Bradley

2.3

North Carolina Central

2.2

Old Dominion

2.0

St. John’s

1.9

Baylor

1.8

Ole Miss

1.8

Kansas St.

1.7

Ohio St.

1.7

Auburn

1.5

Seton Hall

1.4

Saint Louis

0.9

Iona

0.8

Iowa

0.7

Villanova

0.5

Florida

0.4

Minnesota

0.3

Temple

-0.2

North Dakota St.

-0.5

Prairie View

-1.7

 

Rebounds/Steals/Old R+T

Team

Reb Marg

North Carolina

9.7

New Mexico St.

9.6

Kentucky

9.0

Michigan St.

8.9

Utah St.

8.9

Maryland

8.5

UC-Irvine

7.4

Houston

7.3

Saint Louis

6.6

Wofford

6.5

North Carolina Central

6.4

Baylor

6.3

Gonzaga

6.2

Duke

6.1

Saint Mary’s

5.6

Purdue

5.2

Cincinnati

5.2

LSU

5.1

Old Dominion

4.9

Virginia

4.9

Arizona St.

4.8

Yale

4.7

Florida St.

4.7

Vermont

4.5

Northern Kentucky

4.4

Marquette

4.4

Colgate

4.0

Buffalo

3.9

Belmont

3.8

Mississippi St.

3.8

Murray St.

3.7

Louisville

3.7

Tennessee

3.4

Villanova

2.6

Virginia Tech

2.6

Montana

2.6

Minnesota

2.6

Kansas

2.5

Nevada

2.4

Liberty

2.2

Central Florida

2.2

Texas Tech

1.9

Oregon

1.8

Ole Miss

1.5

Virginia Commonwealth

1.4

Ohio St.

1.3

Bradley

1.2

Abilene Christian

1.2

Kansas St.

1.1

Iowa

1.0

Iowa St.

0.7

Oklahoma

0.6

Michigan

0.2

Northeastern

0.1

Seton Hall

-0.1

Wisconsin

-0.3

Auburn

-0.3

Florida

-0.6

Gardner-Webb

-0.7

Fairleigh-Dickinson

-0.8

North Dakota St.

-1.4

Iona

-2.2

Syracuse

-2.3

Washington

-2.5

Temple

-2.9

Prairie View

-4.4

Georgia St.

-6.1

St. John’s

-6.2

Team

TO Marg

Prairie View

5.5

Auburn

5.5

St. John’s

5.1

Abilene Christian

4.6

Buffalo

3.7

Temple

3.7

Kansas St.

3.6

Georgia St.

3.5

Nevada

3.4

Texas Tech

3.3

Syracuse

3.2

Michigan

3.2

Gonzaga

3.2

Wofford

3.1

Cincinnati

3.1

Florida

3.0

Washington

2.9

Virginia Tech

2.7

Liberty

2.6

Purdue

2.4

Virginia Commonwealth

2.3

Vermont

2.2

Oregon

2.1

Murray St.

2.1

Ole Miss

1.9

Virginia

1.9

Wisconsin

1.8

Gardner-Webb

1.8

Iowa St.

1.8

LSU

1.8

Seton Hall

1.8

Tennessee

1.7

Montana

1.6

Duke

1.5

New Mexico St.

1.4

Fairleigh-Dickinson

1.3

North Carolina

1.0

Iowa

1.0

Iona

1.0

Houston

0.9

Northern Kentucky

0.9

Belmont

0.9

Florida St.

0.8

Villanova

0.7

Central Florida

0.4

Old Dominion

0.4

Arizona St.

0.3

Mississippi St.

0.3

Saint Louis

0.3

Saint Mary’s

0.1

Oklahoma

0.0

Northeastern

0.0

Kentucky

-0.1

Bradley

-0.2

Kansas

-0.2

Ohio St.

-0.2

Utah St.

-0.3

UC-Irvine

-0.4

North Dakota St.

-0.6

Minnesota

-0.6

Baylor

-0.8

Colgate

-0.9

Louisville

-1.0

North Carolina Central

-1.9

Yale

-1.9

Marquette

-2.0

Michigan St.

-2.6

Maryland

-3.7

Team

Stl/G

Duke

9.5

Auburn

9.4

LSU

9.1

Washington

9.0

Prairie View

8.8

St. John’s

8.8

Abilene Christian

8.7

Temple

8.7

Syracuse

8.3

Mississippi St.

8.1

Georgia St.

8.0

Virginia Commonwealth

8.0

Oregon

7.8

Fairleigh-Dickinson

7.7

Kansas St.

7.6

Murray St.

7.6

Gonzaga

7.5

Buffalo

7.3

Ole Miss

7.3

Texas Tech

7.3

North Carolina

7.2

Florida

7.2

Saint Louis

7.1

Iowa St.

7.0

Seton Hall

7.0

Florida St.

7.0

Wofford

6.9

Gardner-Webb

6.9

Kansas

6.9

Belmont

6.8

Iona

6.8

Virginia Tech

6.7

Montana

6.5

Purdue

6.5

Houston

6.4

Liberty

6.4

North Carolina Central

6.3

Northern Kentucky

6.2

Arizona St.

6.2

Utah St.

6.2

Iowa

6.2

Nevada

6.2

Cincinnati

6.2

Colgate

6.2

Northeastern

6.2

Michigan

6.1

Baylor

6.1

Kentucky

6.0

Saint Mary’s

6.0

Tennessee

6.0

Oklahoma

5.9

Yale

5.9

Ohio St.

5.9

Central Florida

5.7

UC-Irvine

5.7

Vermont

5.6

Virginia

5.6

New Mexico St.

5.6

Old Dominion

5.6

Villanova

5.4

Bradley

5.4

Michigan St.

5.2

Wisconsin

5.1

Marquette

4.8

North Dakota St.

4.8

Minnesota

4.8

Louisville

4.5

Maryland

4.3

Team

Def Stl/G

Michigan

3.7

Cincinnati

3.9

Nevada

4.5

Purdue

4.8

New Mexico St.

4.8

Old Dominion

4.9

Saint Mary’s

5.0

Georgia St.

5.0

Virginia Tech

5.1

Prairie View

5.1

Buffalo

5.1

Gonzaga

5.2

Wisconsin

5.2

Iowa St.

5.2

St. John’s

5.2

Virginia

5.2

UC-Irvine

5.2

Liberty

5.2

Oregon

5.2

North Dakota St.

5.3

Houston

5.3

Villanova

5.4

Vermont

5.4

Northeastern

5.4

Wofford

5.5

Iona

5.5

Florida St.

5.5

Temple

5.5

Montana

5.6

Central Florida

5.6

Abilene Christian

5.6

Kentucky

5.7

Bradley

5.7

Gardner-Webb

5.8

Murray St.

5.8

Auburn

5.8

Seton Hall

5.8

Louisville

5.8

Northern Kentucky

5.9

Mississippi St.

5.9

Saint Louis

5.9

Ohio St.

5.9

Baylor

6.0

Minnesota

6.0

North Carolina Central

6.0

Ole Miss

6.0

Fairleigh-Dickinson

6.1

Utah St.

6.1

Belmont

6.1

Florida

6.1

Washington

6.1

Kansas St.

6.2

Arizona St.

6.3

Texas Tech

6.4

Tennessee

6.4

Michigan St.

6.4

Virginia Commonwealth

6.4

Kansas

6.5

Duke

6.5

LSU

6.5

Syracuse

6.6

Iowa

6.7

North Carolina

6.7

Oklahoma

6.8

Marquette

7.0

Yale

7.0

Maryland

7.1

Colgate

7.1

Team

Old R+T

New Mexico St.

12.34

North Carolina

12.34

Wofford

11.56

Gonzaga

11.48

Cincinnati

10.11

Kentucky

10.07

Buffalo

9.85

Duke

9.85

Utah St.

9.79

Houston

9.71

Purdue

9.37

LSU

9.06

Abilene Christian

8.45

Virginia

8.39

Saint Louis

8.30

Vermont

8.25

Auburn

8.09

UC-Irvine

8.06

Murray St.

7.74

Nevada

7.73

Texas Tech

7.33

Virginia Tech

7.22

Florida St.

7.02

Saint Mary’s

6.98

Michigan St.

6.88

Kansas St.

6.87

Northern Kentucky

6.72

Tennessee

6.66

Liberty

6.66

Baylor

6.56

Old Dominion

6.55

Arizona St.

6.41

Belmont

6.25

Oregon

5.95

Montana

5.83

Virginia Commonwealth

5.78

Mississippi St.

5.73

North Carolina Central

5.39

Ole Miss

5.32

Michigan

5.31

Maryland

5.01

Villanova

4.54

Florida

4.51

Iowa St.

4.29

Colgate

4.18

Prairie View

3.98

Central Florida

3.81

Kansas

3.63

Yale

3.56

Iowa

3.43

Louisville

3.39

Seton Hall

3.39

Temple

3.24

Syracuse

3.21

Marquette

2.96

Wisconsin

2.91

Gardner-Webb

2.82

Minnesota

2.77

Washington

2.76

Ohio St.

2.27

Fairleigh-Dickinson

2.24

Bradley

2.10

Oklahoma

1.79

St. John’s

1.62

Northeastern

1.35

Iona

0.30

Georgia St.

-0.27

North Dakota St.

-1.19

 

Criteria Darlings

Which teams have criteria that most look like a Final Four participant?

These 10 teams have that look this year (in alphabetical order):

  1. Cincinnati Bearcats

  2. Duke Blue Devils

  3. Gonzaga Bulldogs

  4. Houston Cougars

  5. Kentucky Wildcats

  6. Michigan State Spartans

  7. North Carolina Tar Heels

  8. Utah St. Aggies

  9. Virginia Cavaliers

  10. Wofford Terriers 

You will notice that Utah State and Wofford make this list with SOS beneath the level to win the national title.  These two teams possess criteria similar to past Cinderella Final Four teams like George Mason, Wichita State, and Virginia Commonwealth.

 

You now have the information to earn your BM in Bracketnomics.  However, there will be a special Bracketnomicist here Tuesday afternoon who will show you how to use this data to pick winners of each round.  The Captain will reveal his bracket selection on Tuesday prior to 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time.  He told us to tell you that if any buccaneer or lass dare criticize his selections, they will walk the plank.  Actually, they will probably have a better bracket than him.

 

Note: Many thanks to all the PiRate members who stayed up late Sunday night/Monday morning visiting 68 different schools’ athletics’ sites to get the raw data we need to put this statistical bonanza together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 30, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Final Four Games, Saturday, March 31

PiRate Rating  Picks–Final Four

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Michigan Loyola-IL 4.8
Villanova Kansas 6.0

The PiRate March Madness Team Criteria

This has been an interesting NCAA Tournament, much different than many recent ones.  Yet, as we look on the eve of the Final Four, we look at our original criteria that we posted almost three weeks ago and look at our results.

We only correctly picked one of the Final Four teams, but this is not a real criticism of the system.  We just did a lousy job picking four of the 14 teams that this system showed having national title caliber analytics.

We looked the original stats of the 68 teams and stated that 14 shared the type of statistical resumes that showed them to be good enough to cut the nets in San Antonio.  Three of those 14 have made the Final Four–Villanova, Michigan, and Kansas.

What about Loyola?  We said that they were now the new Wichita State of this tournament.  We did not pick the Ramblers to make the Final Four, but we basically labelled them as the best of the Mid-major teams capable of repeating what Wichita State had done when the Shockers were in the Missouri Valley.

So, we give the new criteria a passing grade, and we give our human evaluation team of those analytics a D-grade for not properly selecting the correct three of the 14 teams that advanced to San Antonio.

For those of you that may have arrived at this page and did not see our previous March Madness posts, here is a brief tutorial.

Our criteria is based on a combination of analytic data and back-tested statistics that past Final Four and National Champion teams have produced.  We look for correlations that can separate the great from the good.

We came up with the following stats and data sets:

True Shooting Percentage Margin

There has been an evolution in shooting efficiency in recent seasons.  With the 30-second shot clock and the better use of analytics, teams know they should take certain three-point shots and certain high two-point shots without having to force low percentage shots at the end of the shot clock.  Whereas field goal% offense and defense used to be vital, in the current philosophy of college basketball teams, true shooting percentage matters most.

True Shooting Percentage tells you how efficient a team is at shooting the ball.  How many points do they get per shot taken, be it a two-point shot, a three-point shot, or shots from the foul line?

Our formula for college basketball true shooting percentage is: (100*Pts)/(2*(fga+(.475*fta))).  We say “our formula” not because we created it, which we did not, but because there are arbitrary differences in the calculations of different metrics specialists.  Some use .44 for free throws attempted, which is more accurate for the NBA, but there are different free throw shooting rules in the NBA, so we use .475, which is more accurate for college basketball.

The TS% margin is simply a team’s offensive TS% minus their defensive TS%.

 

R+T Rating

This is our created statistic.  R+T attempts to estimate additional scoring opportunities that a team may receive based on rebounding, steals, avoiding opponent steals, and additional turnovers not involving steals.  Since a steal is worth more than a dead-ball turnover, we give it more weight than all other turnovers.  A steal is precious because the stealing team is able to run the fast break much easier than any other type of gained possession.

The formula for R+T is: (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T,  where R is rebounding margin, S is steals, and T is turnover margin.

If one team has an R+T of 15.5, and the other team has an R+T of 5.5, then the 15.5 team should create 10 additional scoring opportunities in a game between the two teams.  That might be enough extra chances to overcome a significant disadvantage in true shooting perecentage.

Strength of Schedule

Obviously, it is easier to pad your team’s statistics if they have played a bunch of cup cakes rather than play 20 games against other teams in the NCAA Tournament.  So, strength of schedule is vitally important.  Through SOS, we normalize the TS% and R+T ratings to make the numbers on par with each other.  If a team has a TS% margin of 10% and an R+T of 15 with a SOS of 50 (exactly average of 351 Division 1 teams), and their opponents has a TS% of 5% and an R+T of 5 with a SOS of 60 (10 points better than average per game), the team with a SOS of 60 would be the better team based on the analytics.  The exact algorithm for determining par values is a bit too difficult to explain, and we do not care to share this proprietary information, as it is all that separates our formula from others.

Other Contributing Factors

We look at how a team has performed in its most recent dozen games.  Obviously, at this point, every team has a minimum of a four-game winning streak.  We look at each team’s two longest winning streaks of the season.  We don’t expect a team with a longest winning streak of three or four games being able to win six in a row against top-flight competition, while if we see a team with a double-digit winning streak or two in excess of six games, then this team has what it takes to win six in a row after March 15.

In addition to Strength of Schedule, we look to those teams that come from a “power conference.”  In our definition, a power conference is one with a league RPI in the Top 12.  For what it’s worth, all four teams remaining in the field come from power conferences, as did all Elite 8 teams and all Sweet 16 teams.

Scoring margin is also important to us.  The minimum scoring margin of a national champion in the last 30 years is eight points per game, while the majority of champions having double-digit scoring margins.  It is next-to-impossible to win the title with a scoring margin under 8.  When Villanova upset Georgetown in 1985, their scoring margin was just 4.8 points per game.  North Carolina State’s scoring margin was 4.6 points per game in 1983.  In fact in the last 65 seasons where we have complete stats (1943 to 2017), the eventual national champion had a double-digit scoring margin 62 times!

Okay, so there you have our criteria.  Basically, we look for teams that can shoot better than their opponents, create more scoring opportunities than their opponents, and do so against a difficult schedule.  It’s obvious, isn’t it?  It might be, but then so many people overlook the obvious in favor of emotional factors.  And, then there is the case of trying to choose four teams from among 14 of the 68 teams that possessed the qualities necessary to win the title.

We have one party-crasher in the Final Four.  Loyola has earned their trip to San Antonio by playing excellent team ball and limiting mistakes, but they have also had a perfect route with little interference, getting weaker than typical Nevada and Kansas State teams to make it here.  Because the Ramblers do not share the approved criteria numbers to win the title, we are predicting Loyola to end their Cinderella bid Saturday afternoon.  Of course, if Loyola wins, they buck a trend and completely re-write the analytic philosophy.

In case you were wondering, when Loyola won the title back in 1963, the Ramblers were more like Villanova today.  That 1963 team led the nation in scoring margin at 24 points per game.  That team was an offense first team that played at supersonic speed.  They averaged in excess of 90 possessions per game.  The Ramblers defeated a two-time defending champion Cincinnati squad that was more of a patient, defense first team that averaged around 65 possessions per game.  There was a 2018 Loyola type team in that 1963 Final Four, and that was Oregon State.  That Beaver team played patient basketball, relied on defense to stop opponents, because they were not able to score points in spurts, and they only had to beat one ranked team to earn a trip to Louisville for the Final Four.

What happened to that Oregon State team in the semifinals?  They lost to Cincinnati by 34 points.  Another big Cinderella team lost by 34 points in the 1979 Final Four when Penn fell to eventual champion Michigan State.  George Mason lost by 11 points to eventual champion Florida in 2006.  VCU lost by eight to Butler in 2011.  Wichita State lost by just four to Louisville in 2013.

In fact, if you go back all the way to the beginning of the NCAA Tournament in 1939, in the 79 prior tournaments, only one real Cinderella won the national title.  In 1947, Holy Cross had a relatively perfect draw to win an eight-team tournament.  The Crusaders edged Navy and City College of New York to make the title game against Oklahoma, where they dismissed the Sooners by 11 points.  Of course that HCU team had the best guard in the history of the game up to that point in Bob Cousy and an All-American pivot man in George Kaftan, who disproved the theory that brought you the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump.”

Let us now look at the numbers for the remaining four teams now that we have done what we can to convince you that three of the four teams can cut the nets, and it will take a hire authority than Sister Jean to pull off a miracle of this proportion for Loyola to win.

Note: In response to Lexie89’s question to us earlier in the season, the colors shown for each team are the official colors of each team.  We have a list of all team official Pantone colors and then convert from Pantone to Hex Color.  If you are not seeing what looks like the authentic colors, it is your monitor.

Team Power W-L Score TS% Diff R+T * SOS
Kansas Y 31-7 81-71 8.15 5.7 61.78
Loyola (Chi.) Y 32-5 72-62 10.27 6.8 52.35
Michigan Y 32-7 74-63 5.86 9.6 59.94
Villanova Y 34-4 87-70 10.29 13.1 60.82
Team W1 W2 L12 Reb Stl Opp Stl TO
Kansas 7 7 11-1 0.45 6.55 5.61 1.16
Loyola (Chi.) 14 7 12-0 1.84 6.38 6.54 0.49
Michigan 13 7 12-0 0.49 6.28 4.15 3.67
Villanova 13 9 11-1 3.11 6.61 4.79 2.34
Offense Defense
Team Pts FGA FTA TS%  Pts FGA FTA TS% 
Kansas 3095 2304 619 59.6 2708 2354 588 51.4
Loyola (Chi.) 2664 1912 612 60.5 2308 2059 505 50.2
Michigan 2888 2221 681 56.8 2460 2118 629 50.9
Villanova 3289 2318 691 62.1 2666 2284 603 51.9

Times listed are Eastern Daylight

Both Games on TBS

The Semifinal Games

Michigan vs. Loyola of Chicago

Tip Time: 6:09 PM

Strength of Schedule

Michigan has a considerable advantage here by an average of 7.59 points per game.

True Shooting % Margin

Due to schedule strength, Michigan has a decided advantage here.

R+T Rating

Michigan has a considerable advantage and should obtain 5 or 6 extra scoring opportunities in this game, which should allow the Wolverines to enjoy at least one scoring spurt of better than 8 points.

Other

Michigan will win the rebounding war as Loyola will not crash the offensive boards.  The Ramblers will look to stop Wolverine fast breaks, so if Michigan can guard well enough to limit open shots, especially from the outside, Loyola will have little chance to score enough points to win this game.  The Ramblers will have to be very hot from outside and hope that Cameron Krutwig can play longer than 22 minutes.

We expect Michigan to commit single-digit turnovers in this game, as Loyola will have to concentrate its efforts on limiting high-percentage shots inside and open three-point shots against quicker players.  The Wolverines have been a much better rebounding team in the second half of the season, and their overall defense has been improving for the last month.

Conclusion

We see this game having two possible outcomes, neither of which is good for the Cinderella team.  In the first scenario, Michigan will open up a comfortable lead in the first five to eight minutes of the game and then keep the lead safe for the duration of the game, winning by double digits.

In the second possibility, Loyola might keep the game close for a half, but Michigan will go on a scoring spurt at some point in the second half to gain a double-digit lead and hang on to win by six to 15 points.

Either way, we see the Maize and Blue of Coach John Beilein earning the school’s sixth National Championship Game appearance, and Beilein’s second in Ann Arbor.

MICHIGAN 73  LOYOLA 62

 

Villanova vs. Kansas

Tip Time: Approximately 8:49 PM

Strength of Schedule

This is basically a wash with both teams having a top 5% SOS.  Kansas has a minimal advantage of less than one point per game.

True Shooting % Margin

Villanova has a miniscule advantage here that reveals very little due to the standard deviation of shooting percentages per game.  All this says is that Villanova has maybe a 52 to 53% chance of having the better true shooting percentage in this game.

R+T Rating

Villanova has a decided advantage here of 7.4, and when you combine it with the SOS of the two teams, the Wildcats are expected to receive about six to seven additional scoring opportunities in this game.  Villanova has the best ability of the four remaining teams to capitalize on extra scoring opportunities with game-deciding scoring spurts.

Other

This game has the potential to turn into a 75-possession game per team, and it is possible that the loser could top 80 points.  The team that gets better open looks from behind the arc should win this game, as long as that team doesn’t come out so flat that they cannot hit at least 35% from behind the arc.

This game is not necessarily a toss-up, but the advantage of our favorite is not insurmountable.

However, the overall most dangerous player in this entire tournament of 68 teams is still alive and leading the team that is now the odds-on favorite to win the national title for the second time in three years.  Jay Wright has given the City of Brotherly Love a possible second champion of the season.

CONCLUSION

Villanova has the near perfect statistical resume of past national champions.  Their 17 point scoring margin is on par with 80% of past national champions and typical of about 90% of all past champions.

Of the four teams remaining, the Wildcats are most apt to enjoy a 10-point scoring spurt more than once in a game.  Wright’s team reminds us of Denny Crum’s 1980 Louisville team and in some ways like the 1970 and 1971 UCLA teams that won titles.  The perimeter players can score inside, and the inside players can score from the outside.  Six players are capable of carrying the team for a half, and if you attempt to concentrate on stopping one or two players, the other four or five will exploit your defense and burn you.

VILLANOVA 84  KANSAS 77

 

March 31, 2017

PiRate Ratings Final Four Preview

PiRate Red-White-Blue Ratings

Saturday, April 1
Team Team Red White Blue
Gonzaga South Carolina 9 9 5
North Carolina Oregon 3 3 2

Tipoff Times

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Saturday, April 1
6:09 PM CBS Gonzaga vs. South Carolina
8:49 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Oregon

The Official Statistics 

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 1100 2162 269 711 611 851 356 1141 1497 422 260 3080
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 824 2260 212 723 394 598 401 828 1229 463 195 2254
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 898 2132 241 715 595 853 451 857 1308 475 281 2632
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 760 1909 199 668 618 855 391 873 1264 620 219 2337
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 1175 2492 271 750 608 863 598 1062 1660 458 269 3229
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 940 2260 304 894 499 692 343 822 1165 514 242 2683
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 1069 2212 327 854 535 759 400 985 1385 438 248 3000
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 907 2243 265 852 409 568 399 824 1223 504 179 2488

The Four Factors

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.0 14.1 15.4 23.2 15.1
South Carolina 47.8 45.0 34.1 31.3 15.8 21.1 23.2 24.3
North Carolina 52.6 48.3 42.1 24.4 13.6 16.6 22.0 18.1
Oregon 55.7 46.3 32.7 28.8 14.5 16.7 20.5 15.6

FT* & DFT* use FT/100 Possessions as its metric formula

 

PiRate Ratings Criteria

Team PPG Def Mar. FG-Marg Reb-Marg TO-Marg R+T* WLRd SOS OPoss DPoss Poss/G
Gonzaga 83.2 60.9 22.3 14.4 7.2 1.1 19.8 21-0 54.36 2632 2606 70.8
South Carolina 73.1 64.9 8.2 2.3 1.2 4.0 10.3 11-7 56.96 2561 2544 70.9
North Carolina 85.0 70.6 14.4 5.6 13.0 1.5 30.7 15-7 59.00 2762 2760 72.7
Oregon 78.9 65.5 13.5 7.9 4.3 1.7 14.8 16-5 56.83 2611 2618 68.8

R+T*: For those of you new to the PiRate Ratings, the R+T rating is our own invention.  It is an attempt to estimate the potential number of points above or below average that a team is capable of scoring due to superior rebounding, forcing and avoiding turnover, and especially getting and avoiding steals, the most punishing of turnovers, as it almost always leads to points and/or fouls.  The number represents the potential points scored against an average team just from the hustle stats.  Thus, at 19.8, Gonzaga could be expected to score 20 points per game against an average team just from their rebounding margin and turnover margin, with an emphasis on steals margin.  The 20 points is figured based on extra scoring opportunities and includes the possibility that fast break shots might be missed and the team might turn the ball over with this added opportunity.

Anything over 15.0 is outstanding, while anything over 25.0 is super and a major contributor to winning a lot of games.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Comparisons

Gonzaga vs. South Carolina

Power Conference: Reason–Since 1985 with the 64 or 68-team tournament, there have been 64 teams in the 32 National Championship Games.  60 of the 64 came from Power Conferences

 

Advantage–South Carolina, as the WCC is not a power conference, while the SEC is

 

Strength of Schedule: Reason–All National Champions since SOS records have been kept had SOS’s of 4 points better than average.  

Advantage–Slight to South Carolina.  Both teams qualify here, but USC’s SOS is about 2 1/2 points stronger per game on average.

R+T Rating: Reason–All Champions in since 2000 have had R+T above 10.0

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial advantage here, but South Carolina barely qualifies.  The Bulldogs should expect to have the chance to score 10 extra points from R+T Rating, meaning USC will have to make up for this with Field Goal margin.

Scoring Margin: Reason–Almost every team in the NCAA Championship Game throughout the history of the tournament have had scoring margins in excess of 8 points per game, and most had double-digit margins.

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial edge here, but USC also qualifies by the skin of their teeth.  Gonzaga’s 20+ scoring margin must be discounted a little due to their schedule, but we can adjust this to about 12 points if the Zags had played in the Pac-12.

 

Field Goal % Margin: Reason–Over 90% of all title participants have had FG% Margins in excess of 5% and a majority have had margins over 8%.  Teams with double digit margins have dominated title games when the opponent had margins under 5%.  There are exceptions, like 1985 when Villanova upset Georgetown.

Advantage: Major advantage to Gonzaga, as their FG% margin has the look of many of John Wooden’s UCLA teams.  USC does not qualify here with a FG% margin of just 2%.

PiRate Criteria Analysis: Except for conference class, Gonzaga has the look of a dominant national championship team.  However, class is just as important in college basketball as it is in horse racing.  A great horse from a small track that has several smaller stakes wins might have better numbers than the horses that run at Aqueduct and Santa Anita, and most of the time, these horses fail when running in a Grade 1 race.

Gonzaga is not your normal mid-major team.  They are more like Butler when the Bulldogs went to back-to-back title games and UNLV from 1990.  Gonzaga has the talent to win it all.  They have a dominant inside game and an underrated perimeter game.

South Carolina has a lot of heart, and their defense has stepped it up in the tournament.  The Gamecocks looked like this at the start of the season before injuries began to affect the perimeter defense.  Now, USC is fully healthy again, and the players remind us of the Gashouse Gang (The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Champions).  Opponents feel like they have gone 12 rounds with Joe Louis after 40 minutes of playing against them.

We expect South Carolina to keep this game close for the first 32 minutes or so, but after that Gonzaga’s superior inside strength will take its toll, as both teams tire late and begin to misfire from outside.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: Gonzaga 69  South Carolina 61

 

North Carolina vs. Oregon

Power Conference: Advantage–Very slight advantage to North Carolina, as the ACC is the equivalent of the AL East in Major League Baseball.  No Pac-12 team has won the title since Arizona 20 years ago.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–Slight edge to North Carolina by an average of about 2.2 points per game

R+T Rating: Advantage–North Carolina has the largest R+T Rating in all of Division 1, as they did last year when they came within a second of winning the title.  Oregon’s rating is almost 15, which means the Ducks are exceptional as well, just not as exceptional as UNC.  Also missing 6-10 Chris Boucher in this game should be somewhat important, and the  Tar Heels will have a decided rebounding advantage, a major component of R+T.

Scoring Margin: Advantage–A Push, as both teams have similar numbers.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage–Oregon has a minor but definite advantage with numbers that look a little more like a Championship Game participant, but teams have won the title with the same margin as the Tar Heels.  

PiRate Criteria Analysis: All during this tournament, we have been concerned about Oregon missing Boucher, thinking that eventually the Duck frontcourt would wear down in the second games of the two previous weekends.  That did not happen, as the Ducks rallied and found another gear.  We are now ready to admit to this mistake.  Oregon can win all the marbles without Boucher.  However, this is the first game where their opponent has the scary frontcourt.  Oregon needs Boucher not because of depth, but because they need a 6-10 bruiser to bang it with Carolina’s titans.

North Carolina’s perimeter play has had the look of a national champion.  The guards stepped up on both sides of the ball late in the games with Arkansas and Kentucky, refusing to end the season.  Remember too that UNC feels slighted for last year.  They had the national championship trophy in grasp until a last second shot moved that trophy over to Villanova’s locker room.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: North Carolina 85  Oregon 75

 

4 Interesting Possible National Title Games

You the typical college basketball fan is guaranteed to have a great title game Monday night no matter who wins tomorrow.  Let’s look at each of the four possibilities.

 

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina:  These are the two teams that looked like the most dominant throughout most of the season.  Earlier in the season, when these teams were playing in tournaments against quality opposition, they won handily, dominating in all facets of the game.  Also, this represents the old guard of UNC against the upstart that has been threatening to get this far for years in Gonzaga.  

Gonzaga vs. Oregon: There has not been an all West Coast National Championship Game before.  Of course, until the age when more than one team per conference going to the Big Dance, it was not possible, as these two teams would have both been in the West Regional.  Still, it would be interesting to have two teams from the Pacific Northwest facing off in the title game.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina: Many of you have not experienced a Dodgers-Yankees or Giants–Yankees World Series.  In our opinion, nothing can beat a Dodgers-Yankees World Series.  This would be an equivalent.  These two teams were both in the ACC for many years until the Gamecocks became an Independent following the 1971 season (when they were the ACC Champions).  Two former South Carolina head coaches, Frank McGuire and Eddie Fogler, had North Carolina ties, and Fogler has been BFFs with Roy Williams for decades.

South Carolina vs. Oregon: A lot of people would find it very interesting if the Seattle Mariners played the Washington Nationals in the World Series.  Not having the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, or Giants would be a great change of pace.  The Cleveland-Chicago World Series last year did more for Major League Baseball than American Pharoh’s winning the Triple Crown in 2015.  A Gamecock-Duck National Championship Game could make fans of all Division 1 teams from Power Conferences believe their team could do it too.

 

 

March 25, 2017

PiRate Ratings Elite 8 Preview

RED-WHITE-BLUE RATINGS

Saturday, March 25
Team Team Red White Blue
Gonzaga Xavier 11 8 3
Kansas Oregon 6 3 3

 

Sunday, March 26
Team Team Red White Blue
Kentucky North Carolina 1 -2 -1
Florida South Carolina 6 7 5

 

PiRate Ratings National Championship Criteria Breakdown of the Elite 8

Gonzaga vs. Xavier

Power Conference: Xavier-Yes, Gonzaga-No    Favors Xavier

Strength of Schedule: Xavier 58.70, Gonzaga 54.02  Favors Xavier by a little

R+T Rating: Gonzaga 20.3, Xavier 14.4  Favors Gonzaga by a little

Scoring Margin: Gonzaga 22.3, Xavier 4.0  Favors Gonzaga by a good amount

FG% Differential: Gonzaga 14.5, Xavier 1.1  Favors Gonzaga by a lot

Road W-L: Gonzaga 20-0, Xavier 12-9   Favors Gonzaga by a good amount

Winning Streaks: Gonzaga 29 & 6, Xavier 7 & 6  Favors Gonzaga by a little

Expected Possessions in this Game: 69 per team  Favors neither team

Outcome: Gonzaga has everything going for it except conference strength and schedule.  If the Bulldogs had the same numbers and played in the Big East, they would have the perfect resume for a national champion.  However, there hasn’t been a national champion from outside a power conference since UNLV won in 1990, and before that, it was Texas Western in 1966.  Of course, non power conference teams have made it to the Final Four numerous times in the past decade.

Criteria Selection: GONZAGA 75  Xavier 70

 

Kansas vs. Oregon

Power Conference: Yes for Both   Favors neither team

Strength of Schedule: Kansas 58.11, Oregon 56.83  Only slightly favors Kansas

R+T Rating: Oregon 14.8,  Kansas 12.6  Only slightly favors Oregon

Scoring Margin: Oregon 13.5, Kansas 12.0  Not much difference

FG% Differential: Oregon 7.7, Kansas 7.5  A Push

Road W-L: Kansas 16-3, Oregon 15-5  This favors Kansas, but it is almost a home game for KU

Winning Streaks: Kansas 18 & 8, Oregon 17 & 8  A Push

Expected Possessions in this Game: 71  Slightly favors Kansas

Outcome: We have to include two extra criteria here.  Oregon’s stats must be slightly discounted due to the loss of Boucher, and Kansas is playing this game in their favorite venue not named Phog Allen Fieldhouse, earning about two points of home court advantage.   Otherwise, this game would be a tossup, and it still might be rather close.  However, watching what KU did to a quality Purdue team on this court Thursday night, it makes us wonder if any college team can beat Kansas in KC.  Oops!  That happened in the Big 12 Tournament, so think again–except not today.

Criteria Selection: KANSAS 83  Oregon 75

 

Florida vs. South Carolina

Power Conference: Yes for both and both in the SEC so this is a third game between these teams.  Both teams won the game on their home floor.

Strength of Schedule: Florida 59.34, South Carolina 56.23  A slight edge to the Gators

R+T Rating: Florida 11.1, South Carolina 10.4  About the same

Scoring Margin: Florida 11.9, South Carolina 8.3  A small edge to the Gators

FG% Differential: Florida 4.3, South Carolina 2.3  A small edge to the Gators

Road W-L: Florida 18-7, South Carolina 10-7, actually about the same as UF played a lot of early neutral site games in their own backyard while their gym was being refurbished

Winning Streaks: Florida 9 & 7, South Carolina 8 & 5

Expected Possessions in this Game: 71  Favors neither team

Outcome: South Carolina’s defense in their Sweet 16 game against Baylor was the best we have seen in a game this late into the Big Dance since Georgetown manhandled Kentucky in 1984, which comes on top of one of the best offensive performances in their win over Duke.  Can the Gamecocks do this to a team that is not just a conference foe, but a rather strong rival?  Florida might also be a tad fatigued coming off the overtime win over Wisconsin, but it helps that the Gators are facing a team they know about without having to look at the film for a long time.  This will be the most exciting game of this round, even more exciting than the big UK-UNC match, because this will have the feel of the 7th game of an NBA playoff series.

Criteria Selection: FLORIDA 67  South Carolina 64

 

Kentucky vs. North Carolina

Power Conference: Yes for both  Before the tourney started, the ACC might have gotten a little extra over the SEC, but with 3 of the Elite 8 from the SEC, it almost makes us think about the opposite

Strength of Schedule: North Carolina 59.00, Kentucky 58.63   A Push

R+T Rating: North Carolina 31.0,  Kentucky 17.1  UNC has the best R+T in NCAA basketball, but Kentucky’s is rather high as well, and in the course of this game, it will not give the Tar Heels a lot of advantage

Scoring Margin: North Carolina 14.7, Kentucky 13.8  Not enough difference to matter

FG% Differential: North Carolina 5.6,  Kentucky 5.2  A Push

Road W-L: Kentucky 17-3, North Carolina 14-7,  A slight edge to the Wildcats

Winning Streaks: Kentucky 14 & 7, North Carolina 13 & 7, While this looks like another push, Kentucky’s 14-game winning streak is ongoing, and there is a definite difference in the Wildcats’ performance in this streak, while Carolina played its best basketball in November and December

Expected Possessions in this Game: 74,  which favors Kentucky just like it did in December

Outcome: We selected Kentucky to run the table and win the National Championship before the NCAA Tournament started, and nothing has changed our beliefs that the Wildcats are the best team in the nation when they want to play up to their potential.  It can be difficult to motivate a stable full of future NBA Lottery picks, but Coach John Calipari is a master psychologist with an ability to coerce through his many talks with his players.  When any of the starters and a couple reserves can go off and score 25 points in a game, it is hard to prepare in advance.  Stop Monk, and someone else has a career night.

Criteria Selection: KENTUCKY 85  North Carolina 73

February 15, 2017

The Best of the Best and Where They Might Be Vulnerable–2nd Edition

A month ago, we showed you a couple dozen top college basketball teams’ advanced statistics and then tried to examine through those stats where each team might be vulnerable.  We found vulnerability with every team to some extent, so it is obvious that there is no clear-cut favorite to win the NCAA Championship.  The days of UCLA having a 95% chance of winning the title have come and gone.  The team with the most chance of winning it all this year might have something like a 7-8% chance of winning it all, while up to 20 teams may have 4% chances of cutting down the nets at University of Phoenix Stadium in The Valley of the Sun.

In our second edition of the Best of the Best, we see only minor changes from before.  While we hope all of you regularly read our little project, we know this is not so.  Therefore, we will bring the newcomers up to speed on how we operate here on the PiRate ship.

First, we are math geeks.  We have linear and boolean algebra experts helping us out, and our founder is an amateur mathlete and a professional in baseball analytics.  Fret not; you do not have to know algebra to enjoy this site.  We have done all the calculations.  We will show you some of the formulas that we use to come to our conclusions, but it won’t be on the test.  You get an A+ if you just show up (maybe that’s why we don’t teach at Cal Tech or M.I.T.).

The PiRates are proponents of the Four Factors in basketball.  We have found that with a little different emphasis in each of the factors, this set of data can be applied to the NBA, College, High School, Middle School, and even the kids’ youth leagues (although if somebody is using Four Factors’ data to coach a 5th and 6th grade team, they need to reconsider why they are coaching at all).

The Four Factors can really be considered Eight Factors, because they can be used to rate teams’ offense and defense.  When you subtract the defensive factor from the offensive factor in each of the four stats, you get a Four Factors margin (just like when you subtract points per game allowed from points per game scored, you get scoring margin).

Here are the Four Factors.  If you just want this week’s results, skip down to “BEST OF THE BEST”

  1. Effective Shooting Percentage
  2. Turnover Rate
  3. Offensive Rebounding Rate
  4. Free Throw Rate

1. Effective Shooting Percentage: (FG+(0.5*3pt))/FGA

The difference between regular field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage is that you count all made three-pointers as 1.5 made field goals.  So, if a team hits 25 of 55 shots and makes 6 three-pointers, their EFG% is: (25+(6*.05))/55 which equals 50.9%.

The defensive equivalent uses the same formula, and the difference between the offensive and defensive EFG% is the EFG% margin.

2. Turnover Rate (TOV/100 Possessions not including offensive rebounds)

The TOV Rate is the number of turnovers committed per every 100 possessions (and forced per 100 possessions for the defensive factor).  You can accurately measure possessions in college basketball by using the following formula.

FGA+(.475*FTA)+TO-Off. Rebounds

However for TOV Rate, we remove the offensive rebounds because it skews the rate.  When a team gets an offensive rebound, they almost always get another shot attempt and do not hold the ball long enough to commit additional turnovers at the same rate that they do in a possession not involving an offensive rebound.

If a team commits 14 turnovers in a game in which they had 69 possessions but with 8 offensive rebounds, their TOV Rate for the game is: 14/61, which comes to 23%

3. Offensive Rebound Rate: (Off. Rebounds/(Off. Rebounds + Opponents’ Def. Rebounds)

This is basically the percentage of offensive rebounds a team retrieves off its own missed shots.  If a team has 35 total missed shots in a game where a rebound is then retrieved by one team or the other, and they finish with 8 offensive rebounds, their Offensive Rebound Rate is: 8/35, which comes to 22.9%.

The defensive counterpart to this is Defensive Rebound Rate.  If a team’s opponent has 38 total missed shots in a game where there were rebounds retrieved by one team or the other, and the opponent finished with 6 offensive rebounds, then the team’s defensive rebound rate is: 6/38, which comes to 15.8%.  The rebound rate margin would be: 22.9-15.8 or 7.1%.

If you count the two examples, in standard parlance the better rebounding team won the battle of the boards 40-33.

4. Free Throw Rate 

The basketball math experts disagree on how to calculate this rating.  Some believe that just getting fouled is all that matters, since each foul makes it one foul closer to an opposing player becoming disqualified.  Others believe that this rate should be the percentage of free throw attempts to field goal attempts.  Others say, it should be made free throws per field goal attempts.

We disagree with these beliefs.  These numbers can easily become skewed when a team plays enough close games with the lead in the final minutes.  Said team may not attempt another field goal, while the opponent fouls them on purpose to stop the clock and hope this team misses foul shots.

Let’s say Florida leads South Carolina, Alabama. Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Tennessee by a few points in every game as the clock reaches 2 minutes.  These other teams foul the Gators’ players on purpose in hopes that the shots will be missed, and they can come down the floor and hit buckets to win the game or force overtime.

At the same time, Kentucky plays these same five teams and leads by 20 with 2 minutes to play.  These opponents do not need to foul at this point, as the reserves are ready to come in and try to get in the scorebook.  Are we to believe that Florida is a more effective free throw shooting team, simply because their opponents can still win in the final 2 minutes, so they will purposely foul, while there would be no use in fouling Kentucky with the Wildcats up 20.

So, what is the answer?  We must admit that there is no way to fully eliminate the intentional fouling in multiple close games, but at least we reduce it as much as possible.  And, we use made free throws to at least show that it is important to make them, especially in those close games.

We go with: (FT/100 Possessionsand this time we include offensive rebounds, because defenses frequently foul following an offensive rebound.

If a team makes 17 foul shots in a game in which they had 71 possessions, their Free Throw Rate is 17/71, which is 23.9%.

 

Now What

We take the stats (offense and defense) for each team we evaluate.  We have an algorithm (formula) that we use that gives different weight to each of the factors.  The weights differ depending on whether it is NBA, NCAA, High School, Middle School, or Youth.  Turnover margin matters less in the NBA than it does in college, and it matters more the lower you go down, until by the time you reach the 5th and 6th grade, it is the most important factor of all (so if you coach 5th and 6th grade basketball, you should do what you can to force as many turnovers as possible and then create the fastest offense you can have so as not to commit too many turnovers–think about a 10-second offense).

Now, you should have picked up on the apparent weaknesses of the Four Factors for college basketball.  By now, you have probably thought that Gonzaga’s stats might look a lot better than Wisconsin’s stats, because the Bulldogs play a much weaker conference schedule than the Badgers.  We use the strengths of schedule for every team to adjust their factors to a point where we hope we have found a happy midpoint to show what each teams’ stats might be against average competition.

Also, think about a team that plays 18 home games, 4 neutral site games, and 9 road games, versus another team that plays 14  home games, 3 neutral site games, and 14 road games.  We adjust for this as well.

As a point of fact, we treat schedule strength and ability to win away from home (nobody plays at home in the Big Dance) as importantly as a good horse handicapper treats class in a horse race.  The mid-major and low-major teams are like claiming and allowance horses, while the power leagues are like stakes-racing horses.  North Carolina is the horse that runs in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, while Cal State Bakersfield is still a maiden until it wins its small track maiden claiming race at WAC Downs.  We know which horse is going to finish ahead of the other as long as it does not throw his jockey.  The stakes horse finishes 20 lengths ahead.

R+T

The last component in our best of the best look is something we trademarked at the PiRate Ratings.  R+T is a combination of rebounding, turnovers, and steals.  It reveals how many extra shooting opportunities a team might have against any type of opponent.  To have a really good R+T number, a team must be equally competent in rebounding, forcing turnovers while not committing many, and by getting steals.

The formula is: (Rebound Margin * 2) + (Steals per Game * 0.5) + (6 – Opponents’ Steals per Game) + (Turnover Margin)

If a team has an R+T rating better than 20, then they can overcome a cold shooting night and still win an NCAA Tournament game over a team with an R+T rating below 10.  If a team has an R+T rating in the 28-35 range, they will be very difficult to beat if they also come from a power conference and wins consistently away from home.  If you find a team from one of the top leagues with an R+T over 28 and said team wins 75% of its games away from home, you have a team that frequently wins four games and makes the Final Four.

To the contrary, if you find a team that looks really good on paper, and they have a gaudy won-loss record, but their R+T rating is under 8, watch out.  All it takes is one cold shooting night or one hot shooting night from the opponent. and this team can go home.

And, if you find a power league team with a negative R+T rating, give great consideration toward picking the Cinderella underdog to pull off the upset in the Big Dance.  A majority of the higher seed power conference teams with negative R+T ratings actually lose in their first tournament game.  It does not happen that often, but ask Georgetown fans about Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia Commonwealth.  Ask Vanderbilt fans about Siena, Richmond, and Murray State.  Ask Purdue fans about Arkansas-Little Rock.  In all these cases, the favorite had a lousy R+T rating, while the underdog had decent or even very good R+T ratings.  The low R+T teams can win in the regular season against lesser-quality teams, but in the Big Dance, that stuff doesn’t cut it.  It is vital to get extra scoring opportunities while limiting them to your opponents.

Now it’s time for the reveal.

BEST OF THE BEST

We look at 28 teams this week.  As before, we have selected three mid-major teams as possible upset winners in an opening game if they get the right draw.  We do not include #1 Gonzaga as a mid-major.

We are listing these teams alphabetically.  The first four columns have already been adjusted using our algorithm.

Team FG TO OR FT SOS R+T Road  W-L% Poss/G
Arizona 3.3 0.1 1.1 1.0 57.8 18.3 75.00 66.9
Baylor 4.7 -0.4 1.4 0.3 61.7 17.3 72.73 65.6
Butler 1.8 1.0 0.1 0.2 60.4 9.4 66.67 67.7
Cincinnati 5.0 1.0 0.7 0.0 54.9 18.0 70.00 67.1
Creighton 5.6 0.5 -0.7 0.2 57.3 4.2 90.91 72.9
Duke 4.1 0.4 0.7 0.7 58.5 15.1 63.64 70.7
Florida 3.3 1.1 0.5 0.8 59.4 13.3 77.78 71.5
Florida St. 4.4 0.8 0.3 0.1 58.8 13.4 50.00 73.4
Gonzaga 8.5 0.5 0.6 0.7 54.3 20.1 100.00 70.9
Kansas 4.2 0.2 0.7 0.1 59.9 12.1 83.33 72.6
Kentucky 3.2 1.1 0.9 0.4 60.2 17.7 72.73 76.6
Louisville 3.7 1.0 1.2 0.1 61.0 19.9 66.67 69.6
Middle Tenn. 3.1 1.0 0.9 -0.3 50.9 16.3 84.62 66.3
North Carolina 2.1 0.8 2.6 0.6 59.1 31.6 61.54 74.2
Notre Dame 3.2 0.7 -0.4 0.3 58.1 5.2 54.55 68.7
Oklahoma St. 0.7 0.8 0.9 0.1 59.6 13.4 58.33 73.9
Oregon 5.2 0.6 0.7 0.5 58.4 15.6 63.64 69.6
Purdue 5.5 -0.3 1.3 0.8 56.6 18.0 72.73 71.2
SMU 3.9 0.5 2.2 0.7 54.0 26.7 63.64 63.7
South Carolina 2.4 1.3 0.5 -0.2 56.8 11.4 70.00 71.4
St. Mary’s 5.8 -0.2 2.0 0.3 54.0 20.7 90.00 60.4
UCLA 6.7 0.0 0.0 0.3 52.5 10.3 83.33 75.2
UNC-Wilm. 2.0 1.3 0.6 -0.3 50.2 12.4 73.33 72.7
Villanova 5.2 0.4 0.4 0.9 57.9 13.9 85.71 65.8
Virginia 5.3 1.1 0.9 -0.2 59.8 17.0 66.67 61.8
West Virginia 2.6 2.7 0.7 0.2 55.4 20.9 63.64 73.9
Wichita St. 5.5 1.0 1.5 0.5 49.8 23.6 75.00 70.5
Wisconsin 3.3 0.8 1.8 0.4 54.1 22.4 72.73 65.9

Vulnerabilities

Arizona: The Wildcats do not have the look of a Final Four contender at this point.  They do not have a glaring weakness, but their strengths lack muscle.  Their TO and OR numbers would be adequate if they had a better EFG% margin, but teams with their resume seldom win four games in the NCAA Tournament.  They do have a decent road win-loss record, and it includes a win at Pauley Pavilion.

Baylor: The Bears are very vulnerable to pressure defenses, as their game against West Virginia showed.  BU turns the ball over just a little too much and then does not force many turnovers on their defensive end.  A strong schedule predicts that they should slide through to the Sweet 16, but after that point, any pressure defense from a quality team is going to make the going tough for BU.

Butler: In December and early January, it looked like this Bulldog edition could contend for a deep run in the Dance.  Now, it looks more like Butler could be a team to watch out for an opening game upset.  They might handle pressure defenses better than most other tournament teams, but the Bulldogs lack enough rebounding strength and do not shine in the EFG% department.  It may be a stretch for this team to make the Sweet 16, and it is 50-50 as of now whether they can get to the Round of 32 if they fall to a 5-seed.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats are somewhat of a mystery.  They looked like an Elite 8 team and Final Four contender until they took a trip to Dallas, where SMU stopped the UC offense and won an ugly contest.  It’s a good bet that the Bearcats and Mustangs will meet again in the AAC Championship Game.  If Cinti enters the Big Dance playing at their peak, then the Bearcats should move on to the Sweet 16 with a chance to advance past that if they get a good draw and do not have to face a North Carolina, Villanova, Florida, or Oregon, teams with the right type of offense to hurt the Bearcats.

Creighton: This one is cut and dry.  The Blue Jays look like a team that will lose its first game in the NCAA Tournament.  They do not rebound the ball well enough to advance, and their R+T is the lowest of the 28 teams we have featured today.  We expect Creighton to go home quickly in the Dance, and a team like Monmouth, Wichita State, Middle Tennessee, or Bucknell could possibly dominate them in the Round of 64.

Duke: Coach K is back on the sideline, and there is going to be some silent gossip going around that he might be thinking about retiring.  So, his players might pick up on this and play the best they can play.  It won’t take much for this team to move into the Final Four discussion.  Duke is a better version of Arizona this season.  The Blue Devils’ numbers are just enough better to move from a Sweet 16 to an Elite 8 and better team.  The one thing that bothers us is that Duke has not always been sharp away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Florida: A month ago, we considered Florida a two and out team at best.  The Gators have started to turn things around this year, and their numbers are improving as the season continues.  They are not West Virginia when it comes to pressure defense, but they are better than most of the rest in that regard.  A dominant rebounding team may give the Gators fits.  An exceptional record away from home and a tough schedule indicates that the Gators are a force to be reckoned with and a Final Four contender this year.

Florida St: The Seminoles have begun to swoon a bit, and with every successive road game in the ACC, they look more vulnerable than the previous game.  Winning big at home and then losing on the road does not lead to a lot of success in the NCAA Tournament.  However, a few well-timed ACC road wins and a run in the ACC Tournament could give FSU a resume not that different than that of Duke..

Gonzaga: In case you didn’t know, technically a West Coast Conference team has won the NCAA Championship before.  When San Francisco won back-to-back championships in 1955 and 1956, they were a member of the California Basketball Association, which would be renamed the West Coast Athletic Conference in 1957.  This Bulldog team is different from others that did not make the Final Four, namely they are quite strong defending in the paint and then preventing offensive rebounds.  Opponents do not shoot the ball with much success against the GU defense, while the Bulldogs have a strong shooting offense.  However, they have yet to face a really quality pressure defense, and they could be somewhat vulnerable to a West Virginia, Florida, or even a South Carolina.

Kansas: This is not Bill Self’s best Kansas team, but if you watch this Jayhawk team play, you can see a winning attitude, where KU seems to find a way to win games.  A strong schedule and very successful road record tells us that Self definitely has a Final Four contender.  We think that the Jayhawks will meet their match in an Elite 8 matchup, because teams with this resume seldom get lucky more than once, and KU may need a little luck against other power teams.

Kentucky:  Don’t underestimate John Calipari’s ability to get a bunch of 5-star players to play cohesively as a team.  It isn’t easy.  The Wildcats could easily become a group of future first round picks that do not hustle, and even let up so as not to suffer an injury just before the draft.  Then again, this team has had bouts of inconsistency.  When the players are on their game, there are few teams (maybe no other teams) that can match up with them on talent alone.  When they are acting like they have ADHD, they are vulnerable even to mediocre .500 teams.  We won’t dismiss, Cal’s kids, because their resume says they have Final Four numbers.  They also have the fastest pace of any team that will be in the Dance, and they could wear opponents down.

Louisville: A little dissension can become a lot of dissension in a hurry, and recent troubles involving players on this team could come back to hurt the Cardinals.  UL looked like a team headed to Spring Break in their loss to Virginia when not at full strength.  When they are on their game, they are the best team in the Commonwealth, and that says they are a Final Four contender.

Middle Tennessee: The top mid-major team will not be overlooked this year, when they trounced Michigan State in the opening game last year.  The Blue Raiders are a better team in 2017 than they were in 2016, so it is not unthinkable to say they are a sweet 16 contender.  Their pressure man-to-man defense creates a lot of turnovers with easy scoring opportunities thanks to some quick perimeter players.  Their big liability is their schedule strength, as it is too low for a team to think about advancing past the sweet 16.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels looked like the best team by far back before New Year’s.  They still look like one of the best, but their EFG% margin has fallen a bit too much, while their incredible rebounding prowess has weakened a little.  We are not saying that UNC is doomed to lose in a big upset, but we are saying they could fall in a mild upset, but not until the Elite 8 round.  If we had to choose one team with the absolute best resume of a national champion, North Carolina would be surely be one of those teams in the discussion thanks to the Heels owning the best R+T rating; they are the only team with an R+T in excess of 28.  It will take a team that can shoot lights out from outside and put up a good fight inside to beat UNC, but there are a half-dozen or so teams this year that can do it.

Notre Dame: For the same reason as Creighton, we do not see a deep run for the Fighting Irish this year.  They cannot hold their own on the backboards, and they do not dominate teams in the field goal department.  and, they are not a team capable of forcing a lot of turnovers.  Their current R+T is the second worst in this field.  They do not look like a sweet 16 team.

Oklahoma St.: Brad Underwood was not supposed to get the Cowboys to the Dance in year one in Stillwater.  We’re not sure this OSU team could beat Underwood’s Stephen F. Austin team from last year, but the Cowboys have improved their resume the most in the last month.  If they continue to improve, then they will be a dangerous team in mid-March.  When Underwood gets his type of player on campus, watch out!

Oregon: Which Oregon team will show up in March–The team that beat Arizona by a million points, or the team that blew a 19-point lead to UCLA?   If basketball were all about shooting and defending the shot with no rebounding or turnovers, the Ducks would be a national title contender.  Still, this team would not surprise us if they cruise to the sweet 16 and survive to the elite 8 like last year.

Purdue: In past years, Gene Keady coaching tree members have under-performed in the NCAA Tournament, and they all share something in common.  These coaches stress half-court defense and prefer not to pressure the ball and play in the passing lanes.  They train their players to play smart and not take many chances, trying to win a game one possession at a time.  These coaches should have become football coaches.  In the NCAA Tournament, a team needs to have a way to get extra shooting opportunities, when they run up against an opponent that can shoot better than they can.  Purdue has its best chance in a long time to break that bad streak this year, not because the Boilermakers can force a lot of turnovers (which they cannot).  PU is such a dominating rebounding team that they can get those extra chances by taking multiple shots per possession.  We think PU has its best shot to get past the first weekend to the sweet 16 and maybe elite 8.  Still, the Boilermakers are not in the same class with the final four contenders.

SMU: Tim Jankovich served as an assistant under multiple NCAA Tournament coaches including two that have championship rings–Bill Self and Larry Brown.  Jankovich has a sleeper in Dallas this year.  SMU excels in all four phases of the game.  A schedule that is on the lower side of strength when compared to ACC, Big 12, and SEC teams, and a road record that is not indicative of winning 4 NCAA Tournament games probably foretells an exit in the Sweet 16 or round of 32.

South Carolina: Just getting to the NCAA Tournament after a long drought should be enough for Gamecock fans this year.  USC does not possess a Final Four resume, and it is debatable if what they have is strong enough to predict a sweet 16 appearance.  Their R+T is 11.0, which is okay in the first game and better than average for a second game, but the entire range of data puts them in the same boat as Arizona.

St. Mary’s: In a typical year, the Gaels might be considered the darling of the best of the rest conferences.  SMC has advanced to the sweet 16 before, and it would not be a major shock if they do so again this year with an incredible defense, a decent group of rebounders, and a tough road team.  Like Gonzaga, they do not have an overwhelmingly strong schedule.

UCLA: The Bruins can shoot an opponent out of a gym in two minutes, but other than that, they do not shine in the other departments.  They play better on the road than they do at home, and they play at a pace that can cause a lot of problems for teams that do not have a lot of depth or conditioning.  However, in the Big Dance, most teams have ample supplies of both as well as competent defenses.  Because UCLA cannot rebound or force turnovers well enough, this does not look like their year.  A run to the sweet 16 could be bumpy, and if they sons of Westwood make it that far, they should be an underdog in that game.

UNC-Wilmington: The Seahawks are starting to fade, and now it is only a 50-50 chance they will win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA field.  A month ago, they were on par with Middle Tennessee as the top mid-Major threat.  This is the one team in this field that is hurt by fouling too much, and it comes because the players are getting hurt when opponents break their pressure defense.  Still, UNCW could recover and be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.  They have the confidence.

Villanova: The last team to repeat as National Champions was Duke in 1992 and 1993.  Before that, you have to go back to UCLA in 1967-68-69-70-71-72-and 73.  The Wildcats could be the next one to do it, because this team is even better than last year’s champion.  VU wins on the road against quality competition, and while they are not exceptionally strong in the R+T department, they are adequate.  The Wildcats will have trouble with a Kentucky, West Virginia, or even against a Middle Tennessee or Wichita St.  However, we expect VU to be in the elite 8 with a chance to make it back to the Final Four.

Virginia: Teams that play like Virginia seldom win the NCAA Tournament.  They always seem to run up against a team that can score on a couple of cheap baskets, and they cannot make up the difference in the remaining amount of time.  UVA has good numbers in all but their free throw rate.  The Cavaliers have played a tough schedule, but we do not believe they can win four games against NCAA Tournament-caliber teams.  We expect the Cavs to be put out as early as the second game and most likely in the sweet 16.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers are going to embarrass their early round opponents, possibly winning their first two games by a combined 50 points.  Then, they are going to run into trouble in either the sweet 16 or elite 8, when they face a team that does not wilt to their defensive pressure and one that can dominate them on the glass.  WVU’s biggest liability is that they don’t shoot the ball all that well.  They can still beat an average team while having an awful shooting night, because they can get 10 extra good shooting opportunities.  A team like Kentucky or North Carolina will turn the tables and embarrass the Mountaineers.

Wichita St.: The Shockers shocked the world with a Final Four trip and then shocked the world the following year by going undefeated in the regular season with a team that looked like it could contend for the title.  WSU ran up against an underrated Kentucky team that advanced to the national title game.  This year’s team is somewhere in between those two teams from their past.  Coach Greg Marshall has a team with no apparent weakness.  The only fly in the ointment is that this team has played a weak slate, and it is going to come back to haunt them when they face a power conference opponent like Duke or Baylor.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are the Midwest version of Arizona this year.  They have decent numbers in all respects, and they have played well on the road.  However, the Big Ten is definitely down this year.  We do not see a repeat of a couple years ago for the Badgers.  UW is no better than a sweet 16 team for now.

 

 

April 4, 2016

NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship By The Numbers

PiRate Ratings For National Championship Game

Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Villanova 1 1 4

Red Rating–Uses an algorithm based on the Four Factors statistics adjusted to strength of schedule

White Rating–The Red Rating with comparative scores added to the algorithm

Blue Rating–An independent rating using an algorithm that does not include any of the Four Factors.

 

Four Factor Statistics

Four Factors    
North Carolina Offense vs. Villanova Defense    
Stat UNC-O Vill-D
EFG% 52.6 46.5
Reb Rate 40.6 29.0
TO Rate 15.3 20.7
FT * 22.1 16.6

 

Villanova Offense vs. North Carolina Defense    
Stat Vill-O UNC-D
EFG% 55.8 47.7
Reb Rate 28.6 30.2
TO Rate 16.3 18.4
FT * 22.2 18.1

 

Explanation of 4-Factors

EFG% = Effective Field Goal %.   [FG+(3pt * 1.5)]/FGA

Reb Rate = Percentage of offensive rebounds off missed shots.  (100* off. reb)/(off. reb + opp def. reb)

TO Rate=Turnovers committed (or forced for defense) per 100 Possessions

FT * = Free Throws Made per 100 Possessions

 

PiRate Criteria

PiRate Criteria UNC Vill.
Scoring Margin 13.2 14.7
FG% Diff 7.1 7.9
Reb Marg. 8.5 1.9
TO Marg. 2.1 2.9
R + T 22.8 10.5
Road W-L 18-5 19-4
SOS 57.74 58.54
Poss/G 70.2 67.5
Win Strk 1 12 9
Win Strk 2 10 7

Scoring Margin = Offense points per game minus opponents points per game

FG% Diff =Difference in offensive FG% and opponents FG%

Reb. Margin = Team rebounds per game minus opponents rebounds per game

TO Margin = Opponents turnovers per game minus team’s turnovers per game

R + T = PiRate Rating’s own invention to estimate additional scoring chances per game over the average team.  The formula is: (Rebound Margin * 2) + (Steals per Game * 0.5) + (6 – Opponents’ Steals per Game) + (Turnover Margin)

An R+T over 20.0 is dominating.  15.0-19.9 is excellent.  10.0-14.9 is very good.  7.0-9.9 is good. 5.0-6.9 is fair.  0-4.9 is not good. Any negative R+T is bad.  These ratings apply to the NCAA Tournament.  Negative R+T rated teams almost always lose in the first game of the Tournament.

Road W-L is the teams record in Away and Neutral Games

SOS is strength of schedule as determined by CBS Sports Ratings and multiplied by 100

Poss/G is number of possessions per game

Win Strk 1 & 2 are the teams’ two best winning streaks

 

Player Comparisons By Position

Point Guard PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3pt% FT% Ast/TO
UNC–Berry II 12.6 3.4 3.8 1.5 44.2 36.8 86.4 2.49
VU–Arcidiacono 12.4 2.9 4.3 1.4 43.9 38.9 83.3 2.83
                 
Shooting Guard PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3pt% FT% Ast/TO
UNC–Paige 12.3 2.5 3.7 1.2 39.8 34.8 77.5 2.98
VU–Brunson 9.7 1.8 2.6 0.7 45.5 38.1 77.9 1.39
                 
Small Forward PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3pt% FT% TO/MP
UNC–Jackson 12.3 3.9 2.8 0.6 46.8 27.6 68.1 3.63%
VU–Hart 15.5 6.7 1.9 1.2 51.5 35.8 75.2 5.26%
                 
Power Forward PPG RPG APG BPG FG% 3pt% FT% TO/MP
UNC–Meeks 9.4 5.9 1.1 1.1 56.3 0.0 67.8 6.69%
VU–Jenkins 13.6 3.9 2.2 0.4 45.6 38.4 85.3 4.40%
                 
Center PPG RPG APG BPG FG% 3pt% FT% TO/MP
UNC–Johnson 17.0 10.5 1.5 1.5 61.4 0.0 78.5 6.42%
VU–Ochefu 10.1 7.6 1.7 1.5 62.3 0.0 68.8 5.76%
                 
Bench Big PPG RPG APG BPG FG% 3pt% FT% TO/MP
UNC–Hicks 9.1 4.6 0.7 0.6 61.6 0.0 75.6 6.54%
VU–Reynolds 3.7 4.6 0.4 0.5 64.9 0.0 72.3 4.15%
                 
Bench Swing PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3pt% FT% TO/MP
UNC–Pinson 4.6 3.3 2.9 0.6 40.4 29.0 67.2 6.67%
VU–Bridges 6.5 3.2 0.9 1.1 51.8 29.9 78.7 3.01%
                 
Bench Guard PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3pt% FT% Ast/TO
UNC–Britt 5.5 1.5 1.8 0.7 38.7 32.9 80.0 2.06
VU–Booth 6.7 2.1 2.2 0.7 35.3 30.6 86.6 1.52

April 1, 2016

PiRate Ratings Final Four Statistical Preview

Team Team Red White Blue
Villanova Oklahoma 2 1 2
North Carolina Syracuse 9 7 11

 

Four Factors

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTU% FT* DFT*
Villanova 55.2 46.8 28.4 28.6 16.3 20.5 22.2 16.8
Oklahoma 54.8 46.4 30.8 30.4 18.0 17.7 20.2 16.6
Syracuse 50.1 47.0 33.4 34.8 18.2 20.4 21.3 16.4
North Carolina 52.5 47.7 40.3 30.0 15.2 18.5 22.3 18.4

 

PiRate Criteria

Team PPG DPPG Mar. FG-M Rb-M TO-M R+T WLRd SOS
Villanova 77.5 63.6 13.9 7.1 1.9 2.8 10.3 18-4 58.54
Oklahoma 80.5 70.4 10.1 5.6 2.3 -0.3 6.5 15-6 58.74
Syracuse 70.1 64.6 5.5 1.7 -0.7 1.5 3.9 10-9 56.21
North Carolina 83.0 69.9 13.1 6.9 8.4 2.2 22.8 17-5 57.74

 

March 15, 2016

2016 NCAA Tournament Bracket Selection

The PiRate Ratings have been in existence for more than 40 years.  Only in the last 14, have we included college basketball in our menu, and only in the last 11 years, have we presented this website to the public.  In that time, there is one day each year where more people congregate to this site than on any other day.  It’s not the Super Bowl week, or the eve of the New Year’s Day Bowl games.  For many years running, it is this day and this entry that has brought more people here than any other.  Bracket picking has become part of the American and even international culture to the point where people that do not normally follow basketball can be found filling out brackets like they are scratching the $2 lottery cards.

 

One day more than a decade ago, our founder had some time on his hands, and he started researching the past statistics of the NCAA Basketball Champions.  Then, he began copying their statistics to a spreadsheet.  It then expanded to include all the Final Four teams, and eventually included the top teams in the nation that lost unexpectedly.

 

What he discovered was that there were specific statistical similarities in the Final Four teams and National Champions of past years.  Looking at that year’s NCAA Field, he isolated three of the Final Four teams by examining each team’s statistics and comparing them to Final Four teams of the past.

 

In 2006, this system found George Mason as a dark horse contender and in another medium, our founder wrote that the Patriots were a team to watch out for as a legitimate Final Four contender.  Overnight, the system was “discovered” by other media outlets that brought our founder a lot of notoriety, and when he started this site, many that had followed him, or had seen his system reported on by Yahoo and Fox, came here.

 

Now that the history lesson is over, let’s get into the meat of this system.  You can read about it more in depth in Monday’s submission:  https://piratings.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/bracketnomics-505-the-advanced-level-course-in-bracket-picking-2/

 

These are our criteria points.

  1. A scoring margin of 8 or more points, with special credit going to 10 or more points
  2. A field goal % margin of 7.5% or more  with special credit going to 10% or more
  3. A rebound margin of 5 or more
  4. A positive turnover margin (meaning they force more than they commit)
  5. An average of 7 or more steals per game
  6. An R+T Rating of 15 or more (the Bracketnomics 505 post for an explanation of R+T
  7. A member of a Power Conference and a Strength of Schedule of 54.00 or more
  8. A Won-Loss percentage in away and neutral games of 75% or more
  9. A 10-game winning streak or 2, 6-game winning streaks during the season

Let’s get to it.  Here are the teams that qualify under each criterion.  Remember, as you look at these statistical criteria, that there is a large caveat.  The Stephen F. Austin’s and Stony Brook’s had schedules on average that were 10-15 points weaker than the Michigan State’s and Kansas’s.  Do not look at this data and make conclusions that are not meant to be made.  We will put the data into a bracket-picker for you at the conclusion.

Scoring Margin

Team PPG D PPG Mar.
Stephen F. Austin 80.7 63.2 17.6
Michigan St. 79.8 63.4 16.4
Wichita St. 73.2 59.3 14.0
Kansas 81.6 67.6 13.9
Gonzaga 79.7 66.2 13.5
Indiana 82.3 68.9 13.4
Stony Brook 76.8 63.4 13.4
Villanova 77.0 63.7 13.3
Purdue 77.7 64.6 13.1
North Carolina 82.3 69.5 12.8
West Virginia 79.2 66.6 12.6
Arizona 81.2 68.9 12.3
Yale 75.2 63.1 12.0
Kentucky 79.7 68.3 11.4
UALR 70.9 59.6 11.3
Hawaii 77.6 66.5 11.1
Virginia 70.4 59.7 10.7
Texas A&M 75.9 65.5 10.4
Connecticut 73.4 63.1 10.3
Cincinnati 73.2 62.9 10.3
Xavier 81.3 71.0 10.3
Duke 79.1 68.8 10.3
Oklahoma 80.4 70.4 10.0
VCU 77.2 67.3 9.9
Weber St. 76.7 66.9 9.9
Cal State Bakersfield 73.0 63.2 9.8
Maryland 76.1 66.3 9.8
Oregon 78.8 69.1 9.7
Butler 80.6 71.2 9.4
Vanderbilt 76.8 67.3 9.4
Iowa 78.1 68.7 9.4
Chattanooga 75.8 66.6 9.2
Miami 75.6 66.8 8.8
South Dakota St. 76.3 67.8 8.5
Utah 77.6 69.1 8.5
UNC-Asheville 75.6 67.5 8.2
Pittsburgh 76.0 67.9 8.1
California 75.1 67.0 8.1

 

Field Goal % Margin

Team FG-M
Michigan St. 10.7
Kansas 9.8
Gonzaga 8.7
Purdue 8.0
Maryland 8.0
Kentucky 7.8
Connecticut 7.8
Utah 7.6
Vanderbilt 7.5

 

Rebound Margin

Team Rb-M
Michigan St. 11.7
Yale 11.1
Purdue 10.6
Arizona 9.2
Colorado 8.9
West Virginia 8.4
North Carolina 8.3
Baylor 7.9
Stony Brook 7.8
Xavier 7.5
Pittsburgh 7.4
Gonzaga 7.3
Indiana 7.3
California 6.7
Kentucky 5.4
South Dakota St. 5.4
Dayton 5.3
Kansas 5.2
Hampton 5.1
Florida Gulf Coast 5.0

 

Turnover Margin

Team TO-M
Stephen F. Austin 6.2
Wichita St. 5.5
Green Bay 4.8
Fresno St. 4.3
West Virginia 4.1
VCU 4.0
UNC-Wilmington 3.8
Tulsa 3.5
UALR 3.5
Cal State Bakersfield 3.1
Providence 3.1
Butler 2.9
Cincinnati 2.8
Oregon 2.8
Villanova 2.7
Iowa 2.7
UNC-Asheville 2.7
Virginia 2.7
Southern 2.6
Texas A&M 2.6
Fairleigh Dickinson 2.4
Duke 2.4
North Carolina 2.2
Holy Cross 2.2
Michigan 2.1
Texas 2.1
Oregon St. 2.1
Northern Iowa 2.0
Temple 1.9
Chattanooga 1.8
Hawaii 1.5
Syracuse 1.4
Middle Tennessee 1.4
Stony Brook 1.4
Xavier 1.4
St. Joseph’s 1.3
Iona 1.3
Kentucky 1.3
Wisconsin 1.2
Connecticut 1.1
Miami 1.0
Kansas 0.9
Iowa St. 0.8
Baylor 0.8
Texas Tech 0.8
South Dakota St. 0.3
USC 0.2

 

Steals

Team Avg. 
West Virginia 9.9
Green Bay 9.5
UNC-Asheville 9.3
Stephen F. Austin 9.1
VCU 8.8
Fresno St. 8.2
Syracuse 8.1
Cal State Bakersfield 8.0
Cincinnati 7.9
Baylor 7.9
Hawaii 7.9
Chattanooga 7.8
Oregon 7.6
Fairleigh Dickinson 7.6
Iona 7.6
UNC-Wilmington 7.5
Southern 7.5
Oregon St. 7.5
Xavier 7.3
Seton Hall 7.3
Wichita St. 7.2

 

R+T

If you read our post yesterday, you  must know by now that the R+T rating is as valuable in the NCAA Tournament as raw meat at the tiger’s exhibit at the zoo.  No team wins the national title with low R+T ratings, and teams with negative and very low R+T ratings exit the tournament quickly.

This season, no major conference teams enter the Dance with negative R+T ratings.   However, there are a handful with low positive R+T ratings.

Unlike the other criteria, we include every team in this criterion.  It is PiRate Gold.  Basically, the higher the number, the more this team is likely to score easy baskets during the game and prevent the opponent from scoring.  When players tend to be tight at the beginning of the tournament, R+T ratings can tell you which are most likely to get dunks and layups, two shots that stay true when outside jumpers and even close-in jumpers tend to be off.  Also, when two excellent defensive teams face off against each other, and baskets are hard to come by, the high R+T teams will score some “cheap” points and most likely be the winner.

Remember, like in all other criteria here, schedule strength and power conference membership are as equally important at R+T rating and must be considered as the co-primary factor.

Team R+T
Michigan St. 26.7
West Virginia 25.3
Yale 23.4
North Carolina 22.4
Purdue 20.9
Stony Brook 20.7
Arizona 20.3
Baylor 20.0
Xavier 19.9
Wichita St. 19.7
Stephen F. Austin 18.2
Pittsburgh 17.5
Indiana 17.3
Cincinnati 17.2
Kentucky 16.7
Colorado 16.6
Gonzaga 16.5
Cal State Bakersfield 15.9
   
Near Qualifiers  
Hawaii 14.8
Texas A&M 14.7
Butler 14.6
Kansas 14.6
Oregon 14.4
Dayton 14.1
VCU 14.0
   
Good R+T  
South Dakota St. 13.9
California 13.9
Virginia 13.2
Florida Gulf Coast 12.8
Fresno St. 12.4
Chattanooga 12.3
Hampton 11.7
St. Joseph’s 11.2
UNC-Asheville 11.2
Wisconsin 11.1
UNC-Wilmington 10.6
Seton Hall 10.5
Villanova 10.0
   
Best of the Rest  
Miami 9.5
Iowa 9.5
Utah 9.4
Connecticut 9.4
Buffalo 9.3
Middle Tennessee 9.1
UALR 9.1
Weber St. 9.0
Notre Dame 8.1
Maryland 7.8
Duke 7.3
Austin Peay 7.3
Oklahoma 7.1
   
Okay in Early Rounds  
USC 6.8
Green Bay 6.8
Providence 6.0
   
In Danger  
Michigan 4.9
Texas Tech 4.3
Iona 4.2
Iowa St. 4.1
Tulsa 3.8
Southern 3.6
Vanderbilt 3.4
Temple 3.3
Texas 3.3
Oregon St. 2.4
Syracuse 2.2
   
Quick Losers  
Northern Iowa -1.9
Fairleigh Dickinson -4.1
Holy Cross -5.2

 

Strength of Schedule

These are the teams from Power Conferences with SOS of 54.00 or better.  No National Champion has ever had a SOS under 54.00, and all but a small number of Final Four teams in the 64 to 68-team field have possessed SOS under 54.00.

Team SOS
Kansas 60.22
Virginia 60.05
Oregon 60.01
Texas 59.88
Baylor 59.49
Utah 59.33
Duke 58.97
Iowa St. 58.96
Texas Tech 58.94
Oregon St. 58.77
Oklahoma 58.74
West Virginia 58.59
Villanova 58.54
California 58.52
Miami 58.22
Wisconsin 58.14
North Carolina 57.74
Kentucky 57.45
Notre Dame 57.25
Pittsburgh 56.86
Xavier 56.82
USC 56.79
Maryland 56.77
Iowa 56.69
Purdue 56.54
Colorado 56.45
Vanderbilt 56.44
Seton Hall 56.24
Syracuse 56.21
Michigan 55.96
Michigan St. 55.75
Dayton 55.73
Providence 55.71
Connecticut 55.70
Texas A&M 55.70
St. Joseph’s 55.49
VCU 55.24
Tulsa 54.97
Cincinnati 54.70
Arizona 54.69
Butler 54.61
Temple 54.61

 

10-Game Winning Streak or 2, 6-Game Winning Streaks

Team Win Streaks
Stephen F. Austin 20 5
Stony Brook 18 3
Kansas 13 13
Michigan St. 13 9
Wichita St. 12 6
Indiana 12 5
North Carolina 12 5
Xavier 12 5
Yale 12 5
Oklahoma 12 4
California 12 3
VCU 12 3
Virginia 11 7
Purdue 11 5
UNC-Wilmington 11 5
Colorado 11 3
Texas A&M 10 8
UALR 10 6
Texas Tech 10 5
Pittsburgh 10 4
Chattanooga 9 8
Villanova 9 7
West Virginia 8 7
Arizona 8 6
Hawaii 8 6
Oregon 8 6
Providence 8 6
Weber St. 8 6
St. Joseph’s 7 7
Gonzaga 7 6
Cal State Bakersfield 6 6
Middle Tennessee 6 6
Northern Iowa 6 6
South Dakota St. 6 6

 

Won-Loss Record Away From Home Floor

Team Won Lost Pct
Gonzaga 15 3 83.3
Hawaii 10 2 83.3
Michigan St. 15 3 83.3
St. Joseph’s 15 3 83.3
Chattanooga 16 4 80.0
UALR 15 4 78.9
Villanova 14 4 77.8
Kansas 12 4 75.0
Xavier 12 4 75.0
       
Near Miss      
Dayton 11 4 73.3
North Carolina 13 5 72.2
Stephen F. Austin 13 5 72.2
UNC-Wilmington 13 5 72.2
Seton Hall 12 5 70.6
       
Okay in Early Rounds      
Stony Brook 11 5 68.8
Middle Tennessee 13 6 68.4
West Virginia 13 6 68.4
South Dakota St. 14 7 66.7
Weber St. 13 7 65.0
Oklahoma 11 6 64.7
Miami 10 6 62.5
Oregon 10 6 62.5
Providence 10 6 62.5
Yale 10 6 62.5
Virginia 11 7 61.1
Hampton 12 8 60.0
Cal State Bakersfield 10 7 58.8
Utah 10 7 58.8
Wichita St. 10 7 58.8
Iona 11 8 57.9
UNC-Asheville 11 8 57.9
Baylor 8 6 57.1
Green Bay 12 9 57.1
Connecticut 9 7 56.3
Fresno St. 9 7 56.3
Maryland 9 7 56.3
Purdue 9 7 56.3
Texas A&M 9 7 56.3
Temple 10 8 55.6
Northern Iowa 11 9 55.0
Duke 7 6 53.8
Arizona 8 7 53.3
Butler 8 7 53.3
Cincinnati 8 7 53.3
Indiana 8 7 53.3
Fairleigh Dickinson 9 8 52.9
Kentucky 9 8 52.9
Michigan 9 8 52.9
VCU 9 8 52.9
Buffalo 10 9 52.6
Austin Peay 11 10 52.4
Iowa 8 8 50.0
Tulsa 8 8 50.0
Wisconsin 7 7 50.0
       
Homers      
Southern 10 11 47.6
Pittsburgh 6 7 46.2
Iowa St. 7 9 43.8
Notre Dame 7 9 43.8
Syracuse 6 9 40.0
Texas 6 9 40.0
Colorado 6 10 37.5
Oregon St. 5 9 35.7
Texas Tech 5 9 35.7
California 5 10 33.3
USC 5 10 33.3
Holy Cross 6 13 31.6
Vanderbilt 5 11 31.3
Florida Gulf Coast 4 9 30.8

 

Ranked by Criteria Met

After the number of criteria met, we have included “Alpha Dog” and repeated R+T ratings.  Alpha Dog refers to whether this team has played a difficult enough schedule and is a member of a power conference.  While there are cases where George Mason and Wichita State make the Final Four, the cases are very rare, and we go with the tendencies that have worked so well in the past.

 

The teams that qualify with 5 criteria and are also Alpha Dogs with qualifying R+T ratings have been highlighted in blue.  These are the top contenders this year.

Team Criteria Met Alpha Dog R+T
Xavier 8 Yes Yes
Kansas 7 Yes No
Michigan St. 7 Yes Yes
West Virginia 7 Yes Yes
Gonzaga 6 Yes Yes
Kentucky 6 Yes Yes
North Carolina 6 Yes Yes
Purdue 6 Yes Yes
Arizona 5 Yes Yes
Pittsburgh 5 Yes Yes
Stony Brook 5 No Yes
Villanova 5 Yes No
Baylor 5 Yes Yes
Chattanooga 5 No No
Cincinnati 5 Yes Yes
Hawaii 5 No No
Oregon 5 Yes No
Stephen F. Austin 5 No Yes
VCU 5 Yes No
California 4 Yes No
Colorado 4 Yes Yes
Connecticut 4 Yes No
Indiana 4 Yes Yes
South Dakota St. 4 No No
St. Joseph’s 4 Yes No
Texas A&M 4 Yes No
UALR 4 No No
Virginia 4 Yes No
Wichita St. 4 No Yes
Yale 4 No Yes
Cal State Bakersfield 4 No Yes
Butler 3 Yes No
Duke 3 Yes No
Iowa 3 Yes No
Maryland 3 Yes No
Miami 3 Yes No
Oklahoma 3 Yes No
Providence 3 Yes No
Texas Tech 3 Yes No
Utah 3 Yes No
Vanderbilt 3 Yes No
Oregon St. 3 Yes No
Syracuse 3 Yes No
UNC-Asheville 3 No No
UNC-Wilmington 3 No No
Iowa St. 2 Yes No
Michigan 2 Yes No
Middle Tennessee 2 No No
Temple 2 Yes No
Texas 2 Yes No
Tulsa 2 Yes No
USC 2 Yes No
Weber St. 2 No No
Wisconsin 2 Yes No
Fairleigh Dickinson 2 No No
Fresno St. 2 No No
Green Bay 2 No No
Iona 2 No No
Seton Hall 2 Yes No
Southern 2 No No
Dayton 1 Yes No
Florida Gulf Coast 1 No No
Hampton 1 No No
Holy Cross 1 No No
Northern Iowa 1 No No
Notre Dame 1 Yes No
Austin Peay 0 No No
Buffalo 0 No No

 

Xavier rates as the top contender, but we are a bit concerned about the Big East Conference remaining as a Power Conference.  While three other Big East teams made the tournament, this league has not fared well since the break-up of the teams that formed the American Conference.

Last year, five Big East Teams made the NCAA Tournament.  St. John’s lost in the second round (round of 64) to San Diego State; Providence lost handily in their first game to Dayton; Butler lost in the third round to Notre Dame (round of 32); and 1-seed Villanova lost in the third round to North Carolina State.  Only Xavier made it to the Sweet 16, and the Musketeers had a relatively easy trip to the West Regional second weekend by defeating an Ole Miss team that just barely made the tournament as a play-in team from Dayton and then Georgia State after GSU upset Baylor.

We are not eliminating Xavier from consideration, but we are knocking them down a few notches.  Thus, our actual top-ranked team according to our Criteria ratings is Michigan State.

Now, before we drive you crazy, ponder this.  No Big Ten team has won the national title, since the Spartans pulled the trick in 2000.  Coach Tom Izzo has taken MSU to five subsequent Final Fours, and Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin have made it to the Final Four in recent years.

Concerning the Big 12, overall number one seed Kansas does not qualify under the R+T rating.  However, the Jayhawks just barely miss out with an R+T of 14.6, and after a first game breeze, KU’s R+T rating could easily hit 15.  We are not going to dismiss Kansas because they come up short by a hair of having a great Final Four resume.

Bob Huggins has guided two teams to the Final Four, one at Cincinnati and one at West Virginia.  This year’s Mountaineer squad is better than the one he took to the Final Four and about on par with the great Bearcat team with Nick Van Exel, Corey Blount, Anthony Buford, and Herb Jones in 1992, where Cinti led Michigan in the second half before falling late by a couple points in the National Semifinals.

The shorter shot clock combined with Huggie Bear’s incredible full-court press makes the Mountaineers awfully dangerous against teams that have not previously played WVU.  There was a time when a long string of pressing teams won the national championship, but with slower paces, that style of play stopped being as effective.  Now, with the pace increased by about 7.5% thanks to the shorter shot clock, the press is a more potent weapon.  Even when a team breaks the press, they have less time to set up their offense and find a good shot.  The liability of pressing is that it can wear a team down, but WVU goes deep off the bench, and in the NCAA Tournament, media time outs are longer, allowing players more time to recover from fatigue.

Gonzaga made it to the Elite 8 last year, the zenith of the Mark Few era.  The Bulldogs did not win any big games this year until they finally bested Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament Championship.  The Zags have a very formidable frontcourt, but they fall well short in schedule strength, where there 52.35 reduces their criteria score down to Sweet 16 or worse status.

Kentucky and North Carolina are sitting pretty in the Criteria Ratings, as both meet 6 of the criteria, come from Big Conferences with high schedule strength, and most importantly, both merit recognition based on R+T ratings.  Being two of the most elite programs is not part of our criteria, but we also don’t totally exclude that fact.  They are the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals of college basketball.

Let’s look at how the PiRate Criteria see the brackets.  Wednesday night, after the last game in Dayton concludes, we will post our Red-White-Blue Picks for each game.  These are our everyday ratings and do not include the criteria listed herein.  These ratings use an algorithm incorporating the Four Factors.

As you will notice, while this season was tabbed a unique one with a lot of parity, we actually believe the top programs are more ready to dominate this tournament than in recent years.

First Four

Fairleigh Dickinson over Florida Gulf Coast

Wichita State over Vanderbilt

Southern over Holy Cross

Michigan over Tulsa

 

Round of 64

Kansas over Austin Peay

Colorado over Connecticut

Maryland over South Dakota St.

California over Hawaii (very close–almost a tossup)

Arizona over Wichita St. (or Vanderbilt)

Miami over Buffalo

Iowa over Temple

Villanova over UNC-Asheville

Oregon over Southern (or Holy Cross)

Cincinnati over St. Joseph’s [Lower Seed Picked]

Baylor over Yale

Duke over UNC-Wilmington (Criteria says this is closer than you might think)

Texas over Northern Iowa (very close)

Texas A&M over Green Bay

VCU over Oregon St. [Lower Seed Picked]

Oklahoma over Cal State Bakersfield (but watch out, CSUB has upset-worthy data)

North Carolina over Fairleigh Dickinson (or Florida Gulf Coast)

Providence over USC [Lower Seed Picked] (a weak game by criteria)

Indiana over Chattanooga (If UC still had Casey Jones, the Mocs would actually be favored)

Kentucky over Stony Brook (we do not see any chance that SBU will contend)

Michigan (or Tulsa) over Notre Dame [Lower Seed Picked] (Irish have lousy criteria numbers)

West Virginia over Stephen F. Austin (SFA got a lousy seed, as they are Sweet 16 worthy)

Pittsburgh over Wisconsin

Xavier over Weber St. (should be very ugly and possibly a 35+ point win)

Virginia over Hampton

Butler over Texas Tech [Lower Seed Picked]

Purdue over UALR

Iowa St. over Iona (expect a 90-80 type game)

Gonzaga over Seton Hall [Lower Seed Picked]

Utah over Fresno St. (could be close)

Syracuse over Dayton [Lower Seed Picked]

Michigan St. over Middle Tennessee

 

Round of 32

Kansas over Colorado (closer than expected)

California over Maryland

Arizona over Miami

Villanova over Iowa

Oregon over Cincinnati (almost dead even)

Baylor over Duke (Blue Devils missing defense in the paint)

Texas A&M over Texas

VCU over Oklahoma (big upset sends jump-shooting team home)

North Carolina over Providence

Kentucky over Indiana

West Virginia over Michigan

Xavier over Pittsburgh (should be excitingly close)

Virginia over Butler (should be close for 40 minutes)

Purdue over Iowa St.

Gonzaga over Utah (lowest seed in Sweet 16)

Michigan St. over Syracuse

 

Sweet 16

Kansas over California

Arizona over Villanova 

Baylor over Oregon (1 of 2 #1 seeds going out in this round)

VCU over Texas A&M

North Carolina over Kentucky (should be Final Four game)

West Virginia over Xavier (total toss-up and expected best game of the round)

Purdue over Virginia (2nd #1 seed going home in this round)

Michigan St. over Gonzaga

 

Elite 8

Kansas over Arizona

Baylor over VCU

West Virginia over North Carolina (3rd #1 seed departs)

Michigan St. over Purdue

 

Semifinals

Kansas over Baylor

Michigan St. over West Virginia

 

National Championship

Michigan St. over Kansas

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