PiRate Red-White-Blue Ratings
|Saturday, April 1|
|Saturday, April 1|
|6:09 PM||CBS||Gonzaga||vs.||South Carolina|
|8:49 PM||CBS||North Carolina||vs.||Oregon|
The Official Statistics
The Four Factors
FT* & DFT* use FT/100 Possessions as its metric formula
PiRate Ratings Criteria
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.