The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 22, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Games of Thursday, March 22

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Nevada Loyola (IL) 2.7
Michigan Texas A&M 2.5
Kentucky Kansas St. 4.4
Gonzaga Florida St. 5.0

Thursday Night’s TV Schedule

Thursday, Mar 22, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
7:07 PM 7 Nevada 11 Loyola (Chi.) Atlanta CBS
7:37 PM 3 Michigan 7 Texas A&M Los Angeles TBS
9:37 PM 5 Kentucky 9 Kansas St. Atlanta CBS
10:07 PM 4 Gonzaga 9 Florida St. Los Angeles TBS

We’ve All Busted

What a year to debut a new bracket-picking trial!  How can we tell if this criteria has any credibility when nobody in the world can show any formula or any human picking ability that would have worked in the first two rounds.

Tonight, there will be no one-seeds or two-seeds playing.  Michigan is the only three-seed playing tonight.  Instead, we will see a seven, two nines, and an 11-seed in action.  Then, on Saturday either Nevada or Loyola will be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

Things will get a tad less crazy tomorrow night when two ones and two twos play, but in only one case is a Sweet 16 game going to have the two teams the seeding process believed should be there.

All is not lost.  We still have three of our four predicted Final Four teams alive, including the team we believe would win the National Championship.

Here is a look at the PiRate Ratings 2018 Criteria for the Sweet 16.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Clemson Y 25-9 74-66 6.68 7.9 59.83
Duke Y 28-7 85-69 10.11 21.7 60.69
Florida St. Y 22-11 81-74 4.18 10.6 58.79
Gonzaga Y 32-4 84-68 9.37 22.6 53.89
Kansas Y 29-7 81-71 8.34 5.4 61.30
Kansas St. Y 24-11 72-67 3.69 0.9 59.08
Kentucky Y 26-10 77-71 5.38 12.3 60.66
Loyola (Chi.) Y 30-5 72-62 9.82 6.7 51.44
Michigan Y 30-7 74-63 5.43 10.0 59.52
Nevada Y 29-7 83-73 5.97 6.4 55.05
Purdue Y 30-6 81-65 11.43 10.5 59.31
Syracuse Y 22-13 67-64 1.55 11.3 58.92
Texas A&M Y 22-12 75-70 4.73 12.9 61.02
Texas Tech Y 26-9 75-65 5.15 14.5 59.89
Villanova Y 32-4 88-76 10.18 13.1 60.33
West Virginia Y 26-10 80-69 0.66 16.9 60.59

Immediately, we can see one very consistent pattern here.  All of the Sweet 16 teams come from what we call the “Power Conferences.”  A Power Conference is one in which the overall league RPI is one of the top 12.  The Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and West Coast Conferences rank in the top 12, so really, there are no completely surprise teams.  We just failed to hit on these regular season champions of these leagues.  We may have to add a caveat in the future that when the regular season champion of one of these leagues makes the tournament to watch out for them as an underdog, because in most cases, they have been seeded incorrectly.

Loyola, Nevada, and Gonzaga did not look like they were fluke wins in the two rounds.  Loyola’s defense and intelligent half-court offense looked a lot like Butler during their back-to-back runs to the Final Four.  Gonzaga should be no surprise by now.  They are to this generation what UNLV and Marquette were to the 1970’s.  Nevada should have been no surprise, as we have only lauded Coach Eric Musselman as the best men’s basketball coach since about December of 2016.  How he orchestrated a couple of wins this past weekend with a six-man roster is incredible, and he did it against Cincinnati with multiple players in early foul trouble.  We hear that he is on the radar for other jobs that could bring him quite a jump in salary, but we believe that he is more likely to return to the NBA before taking another college position.

Looking at the data above, 15 of the 16 teams look like they belong in the Sweet 16.  Kansas State is the lone outlier, but look at how they got here from the previous round.  They became the first team ever to face a 16-seed in the Round of 32, and the Wildcats almost didn’t beat UMBC.

We have delayed this report where we preview all eight games in the Sweet 16, as we feverishly try to discover if certain injured players will be able to contribute in any way.  Tops on that list is Purdue’s Isaac Haas.  Who says that sports cannot expand the minds of our youth today?  The entire Purdue University Engineering department, professors and students, have been hard at work trying to create an NCAA-approved sleeve to protect Hass’s shattered elbow, and they have a deadline fast approaching.  It isn’t exactly finding a way to bring home Apollo 13, but it’s still an honorable task that could help dozens of Millenials develop some confidence and resume-building gold.

Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt could conceivably play a few minutes here and there tonight against Kansas St., but it is more likely that he will be held out in order to possibly contribute a little more if the Wildcats make it to the Elite 8.

Then, there is Nevada.  How does a team get outrebounded by 15 boards, force just seven turnovers, and make just six, 3-pointers and win a Round of 32 game?  How does this same team get behind by 22 points, see three players on a roster of just six get in early foul trouble, and still come from behind to beat a top 10 team?

Maybe Mariah Musselman is just as powerful as Sister Jean.  Of course, one of these two will see the magic come to an end tonight.  This will be a game that looks more like a chess match between two geniuses than a racehorse up and down affair.  It should be tense for 40 minutes.

Out in Los Angeles, the Michigan-Texas A&M game is intriguing.  Michigan’s new inside presence on both sides of the floor has made the Wolverines better able to face the power teams, while their outside game is still strong.  Can the Aggies use a little superior quickness in this game to lead to a repeat performance of their Round of 32 dismantling of the Tar Heels?  Michigan’s defense will be a tad more difficult to solve than North Carolina’s, and this game should be exciting to the final few possessions.

On paper, the final game of the night looks like a potential mismatch, but in this wacky season, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the underdog wins.

It’s time to preview all eight Sweet 16 games.  We will talk more about Friday’s games on Friday morning.

Nevada vs. Loyola (Chi.)

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Nevada Y 29-7 83-73 5.97 6.4 55.05
Loyola (Chi.) Y 30-5 72-62 9.82 6.7 51.44
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Nevada -0.64 6.11 4.42 3.08 58.4 52.4
Loyola (Chi.) 1.49 6.51 6.43 0.94 60.2 50.4

Loyola does not force turnovers, but the Ramblers also do not commit many.  While being a decent rebounding team, they do not control the boards, which is Nevada’s Kryptonite.  So, neither team will really exploit the other’s weakness.This is an excellent chess game according to the criteria results.  Nevada needs to force turnovers or at least commit very few to be successful.  They beat Cincinnati by committing just two turnovers in the entire game in Nashville!

Looking at true shooting percentage margin and schedule strength, once again, these two factors cancel out each other.

It comes down to which team can handle a little adversity early in the second half and then make maybe one run.  Think of a classic horse race, where you have a bunch of horses that come from just off the pace and have one run in them.  Which horse will get the perfect trip and be in position to cross the line first?

We admit that we have no sure statistic to look at and say that our choice is solid.  Nevada surely cannot keep playing a rotation of six players and not suffer fatigue.  Loyola cannot expect to keep winning without being able to score a bevy of cheap baskets as the competition gets tougher by the round.

We are going to go with the PiRate Ratings chalk in this one, since we have no other data to rely on to make this pick.  The PiRate Ratings favors the Wolf Pack by 2.7 points, so our pick is: NEVADA

 

Michigan vs. Texas A&M

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Michigan Y 30-7 74-63 5.43 10.0 59.52
Texas A&M Y 22-12 75-70 4.73 12.9 61.02
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Michigan 0.73 6.14 4.11 3.54 56.5 51.1
Texas A&M 6.56 5.50 6.35 -2.65 53.9 49.2

We could almost copy and paste the information from the prior game into this section and just change the names.  Once again, we have a team (Michigan) that is excellent in turnover margin against a top-flight schedule, but that has at times been exploited on the boards, while Texas A&M dominates on the glass but suffers in turnover margin against a slightly stronger schedule.  The teams are about equal in true shooting percentage margin, with the exception that the Wolverine’s advantage tilts a little more toward superior offense, while the Aggies’ advantage tilts a little more toward superior defense.

We are going to make an unscientific assumption about this game, so please feel free to consider it a load of hooey.  We have looked through our mother of pearl shells and think we foresee a tense start of this game, where the team that can get in trouble with turnover margin will be a bit tight, and the Aggies will either turn the ball over a bit too much in the first half or play not to make mistakes and then shoot much lower than their normal percentage, even missing some close-in shots that they hardly ever miss.

Thus,  our wacky belief is that Michigan will get the early lead and then fight the rest of the night to keep it, once A&M starts to lose the tension.  We’ll go with Coach John Beilein to guide the Maize and Blue back to another Elite 8 appearance.  Our Pick: MICHIGAN

 

Kentucky vs. Kansas St.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kentucky Y 26-10 77-71 5.38 12.3 60.66
Kansas St. Y 24-11 72-67 3.69 0.9 59.08
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kentucky 5.06 5.64 5.56 -1.08 55.7 50.3
Kansas St. -3.00 7.86 5.77 2.71 56.7 53.0

This actually isn’t the most important Kentucky-Kansas State game in the schools’ histories.  These two Wildcats faced off 67 years ago, minus five days, for the 1951 National Championship on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky squad won his third national title in four years, but it was a close game until late.

Back to the present time.  This game looks on the surface to be rather one-sided.  Kentucky, even without Jarred Vanderbilt, looks a bit too strong for Kansas State.

Hey, did you notice that this makes three out of three games, where one team has the superior rebounding edge, and the other has an equally superior turnover edge?  The difference in this game and the other two is that Kansas State’s advantages are almost nil.  Their R+T Rating is just barely positive, and in our past years relying on R+T, we cannot remember any team with a rating as low as 0.9 ever making the Elite 8.  Because Kentucky’s R+T Rating is 12.3, Coach John Calipari’s Cats will be expected to receive about 11 more cheap scoring opportunities.  When you factor in that Kentucky also has a minor true shooting percentage margin edge, this leads us to forecast a double-digit Kentucky win tonight.  Our pick: KENTUCKY 

 

Gonzaga vs. Florida St.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Gonzaga Y 32-4 84-68 9.37 22.6 53.89
Florida St. Y 22-11 81-74 4.18 10.6 58.79
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Gonzaga 8.75 6.36 5.06 0.97 59.8 50.4
Florida St. 2.85 6.88 5.85 1.30 56.5 52.3

The underdog Seminoles look to have a fighting chance in this game due to their superior schedule strength.  Florida State does not have a serious exploitable flaw.  They just don’t have a major statistic that is a decisive asset.

Gonzaga has an incredible R+T rating that many Final Four teams in the past have possessed.  Their almost 10% true shooting percentage is also Final Fourish, as is their 16-point average margin of victory.  Teams seldom win by an average margin this high that cannot go on major runs at the right time.  It just isn’t easy to slowly pull away by a point here and there until the lead is past 15 points.  The number one event that usually leads a team deep into tournament play is the ability to have a big spurt at the right time, and Gonzaga is clearly the team that can do this tonight.

The way we see this game is that FSU will take an early lead in the first half, and then Gonzaga will go on its first of three or four scoring runs to grab the lead and then extend the lead to five or six by halftime.  Then, the Bulldogs will make their patented big run in the second half to put the game out of reach.  The Seminoles may make a valiant effort in the final minutes, but it will be too little, too late.  Our Pick: GONZAGA

 

Friday’s Games

Kansas vs. Clemson

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kansas Y 29-7 81-71 8.34 5.4 61.30
Clemson Y 25-9 74-66 6.68 7.9 59.83
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kansas 0.08 6.67 5.50 1.44 59.8 51.4
Clemson 2.44 5.65 5.74 -0.06 56.7 50.1

Most casual fans will look at this game and immediately dismiss it as a Jayhawk blowout win.  This is far from being the probable case.  This is a Kansas team with exploitable weaknesses not typical for a Bill Self production.  KU has an exceptional offense, but their defense is prone to lapses.  In a game where the action is fierce on the glass, the Jayhawks do not bring their usual centaurs to the fight.  Rebounding is a liability with this club.  KU doesn’t make up for this weakness with an exceptional turnover margin, but they do pick up a good number of steals that lead to fast break points.

Clemson and championships go hand-in-hand, just not in basketball.  This group of Tigers competed admirably in the ACC race this year, and they have an experienced backcourt.  While CU has an issue with turnovers, this liability will most likely not be used to KU’s advantage.  Clemson can rebound with competence, and the Tigers know how to stop their opponents from scoring just long enough to put a game away.

Only because of experience and a slightly more difficult schedule do we stick with the logical team in this one, but it will not be an easy victory, and it will almost assuredly be their last one of the season.  Our pick: KANSAS

Villanova vs. West Virginia

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Villanova Y 32-4 88-76 10.18 13.1 60.33
West Virginia Y 26-10 80-69 0.66 16.9 60.59
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Villanova 2.86 6.67 4.67 2.72 62.4 52.2
West Virginia 3.61 8.08 5.53 5.17 54.5 53.9

Finally, we get a game where the rebounding and turnover issue does not matter as much as in the other games.  Right away, that should tell you which way we think this game will go.  Press Virginia needs to score points off steals and stop the other team from scoring against the press by either forcing them to throw the ball away or by using up so much clock that they must shoot a low-percentage shot.

Villanova is built for press-breaking and scoring easy baskets once the press is broken.  We believe Coach Bob Huggins might have to call the press off if VU scores too many times on crips.

West Virginia just cannot win a finesse game against this team.  Villanova enjoys a commanding true shooting percentage margin advantage in this game, and we have seen WVU players throw up their share of bricks.  This game should eventually get out of hand, as the team that won the title two years ago makes it look like they could return to the Final Four this year.  Our pick: VILLANOVA

Duke vs. Syracuse

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Duke Y 28-7 85-69 10.11 21.7 60.69
Syracuse Y 22-13 67-64 1.55 11.3 58.92
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Duke 9.20 7.37 5.77 -0.66 59.0 48.9
Syracuse 3.69 7.08 6.11 0.50 51.8 50.2

If you are a Baby Boomer, you know doubt know that the campy TV version of Batman is the only real, legitimate production.  Those movies just capitalized on the great reputation of Adam West of blessed memory.

There was a double episode where Batman faced the Joker, where the going was tough, because the Joker created his own utility belt.  He hand sneezing powder in there.  He had hand-shocking buzzers in there.  He had a bevy of evil tricks to combat the Caped Crusaders.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?  The villainous Blue Devils have their own utility belt.  It is called the 2-3 zone, and early in its employment, it is beating the original one created by Bruce Wayne, aka Jim Boeheim.

The element of surprise disappears for the Cinderella Orangemen Friday.  The Duke Blue Devils know how to attack Syracuse’s defense, and they know how to employ their own utility belt 2-3 zone that for now is proving to be superior to Batman’s, er Syracuse’s.

Here’s the rub.  Duke can penetrate and score inside against Syracuse, something that Arizona State, TCU, and Michigan State could not do.  The Blue Devils have excellent perimeter shooters, and Syracuse will not be able to pack their defense in the paint.  Duke will get open three-pointers and also be able to initiate enough penetration to the point where the Orangemen will either have to give up easy 10-12 foot shots or challenge and become overly vulnerable to a very athletic and very big front line.

On the other side of the ball, Duke’s new 2-3 zone is much more athletic than the Syracuse zone.  At times, Duke makes this look more like a 3-2 drop zone, and we have seen the back line move up into an almost 4-1 look while still protecting the basket.

If you have been reading this site this year, then you know that we are sticking with the Blue Devils to cut down the nets in San Antonio.  The PiRate criteria says this game is a mismatch, and there is nothing we see that makes us think there is a reason not to expect a win by 15-20 points for Coach K’s Army.  Our pick: DUKE

Purdue vs. Texas Tech

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Purdue Y 30-6 81-65 11.43 10.5 59.31
Texas Tech Y 26-9 75-65 5.15 14.5 59.89
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Purdue 2.64 5.72 5.14 1.53 60.8 49.4
Texas Tech 4.11 7.26 5.97 2.57 55.8 50.6

This game would be an easy one to forecast if Isaac Haas were available and at least 80% of his usual self.  Purdue finally had the talent and playing style to make it to the Final Four, but losing Haas’s top-quality offensive efficiency really hurts the Boilermakers.

Texas Tech is a solid but not spectacular team. The Red Raiders are not the same team they were prior to Zach Smith’s injury.  TTU was 14-1 when Smith was lost for almost eight weeks.  They went 8-6 without him, and they only went 2-2 to close out the regular season once he returned nowhere near as effective as he had been.

Smith began to resemble his old self in the Stephen F. Austin game, and maybe he is coming back into form, where he can supplement his team by coming off the bench.  It is hard to recover that quickly from a broken foot, so it’s uncertain how many minutes he can play and stay effective.

At least Smith can play, which is more than we can say about Haas.  Purdue played courageously in their win over Butler.  Freshman giant Matt Haarms, took over for Haas at center, but there was a huge drop in talent between 7 foot 2 inch giants.  Haarms connected on just one shot from the field and seemed a bit stiff trying to play defense in the paint or pulling down rebounds.  It took a monumental outside shooting effort for the Boilermakers to win.

Texas Tech is a bigger force to beat without a principle weapon.  The Red Raiders will neutralize Purdue’s outside game with four competent perimeter defenders that will keep man-to-man pressure outside.

There may be one more win inside the Boilermaker Express, even if they have one less engine on the track.  Texas Tech doesn’t really have the fantastic inside presence to exploit Purdue’s loss of Haas, and Haarms just might come up with a better performance Friday night after having the first start jitters melted away.  He is going to play 30 minutes in this game, and he just might surprise some folks.  We think this game is a complete toss-up.  Our Pick: PURDUE

The NIT

The National Invitation Tournament used to be on equal footing with the NCAA Tournament.  There were some years where the NIT champion was decisively better than the NCAA Tournament champion.

Alas, those days are gone.  However, the NIT has proven to have a new usefulness.  Many experimental rules have been experimented with in this tournament, and this year, it has produced excellent results with rules that we believe should be implemented next year.

  1. The NIT is using four, 10-minute quarters rather than two, 20-minute halves.  This is not the first time that college basketball used quarters instead of halves.  It was tried in the 1950s.  We think that playing quarters and with the change in foul rules, it allows defenses to play more aggressively, knowing that they get a clean slate at the end of the first and third quarters.  Also, it doubles the amount of last possessions in the game, which leads to two more buzzer-beater opportunities, something great for the fans.
  2. The shot clock does not reset to 30 seconds on an offensive rebound.  It reset to just 20 seconds, which means teams cannot just throw the ball back to the outside and slowly run the offense again.  They must try to put the ball back up and score without resetting their offense.  This should lead in theory to about three or four more possessions in the game.

We here on the PiRate ship believe that fans do not want to pay exorbitant ticket prices to see dribbling exhibitions.  Action involves passing and moving, and anything that reduces dribbling can only be good for the game.  We’d like to see the closely guarded dribbling rule re-instated, where a player cannot dribble for five seconds while being guarded man-to-man without advancing toward the goal.  If this rule returned, it would force ball hogs to give up the ball within four seconds, and it would lead to more passing and more movement.  It might push average possessions back up to 75+ per game like it was when college basketball was its most exciting in the period between 1965 and 1975.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 16, 2018

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

Saturday’s PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games

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

PINCH US!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Schedule

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

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

Villanova vs. Alabama

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

PiRate Pick: Villanova

 

Duke vs. Rhode Island

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

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

PiRate Pick: Duke

 

Kentucky vs. Buffalo

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

PiRate Pick: Kentucky

 

Tennessee vs. Loyola (Chi.)

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

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

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

PiRate Pick: Tennessee

 

Kansas vs. Seton Hall

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

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

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

PiRate Pick: Kansas

 

Gonzaga vs. Ohio St.

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

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

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

PiRate Pick: Gonzaga

 

Texas Tech vs. Florida

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

PiRate Pick: Texas Tech

 

Michigan vs. Houston

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

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

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

PiRate Pick: Houston

 

Sunday’s Schedule

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

 

 

 

 

March 6, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 6, 2018

PiRate Rating Spreads for Tuesday’s Conference Tournament Games

Home Team Visitor  
or Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Vermont Stony Brook 14.1
UMBC Hartford 4.7
Boston College Georgia Tech 3.5
Notre Dame Pittsburgh 16.4
Syracuse Wake Forest 3.3
North Dakota Montana St. 0.7
Northern Colorado Northern Arizona 14.8
Idaho St. Southern Utah 2.9
Portland St. Sacramento St. 9.1
Charleston Northeastern -0.5
Wright St. Cleveland St. 9.8
Howard Florida A&M 2.3
UNC-Central Coppin St. 7.8
Morgan St. South Carolina St. 5.2
Wagner Long Island 8.7
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Mississippi Valley St. 9.3
Southern Jackson St. 5.9
Texas Southern Alabama St. 12.0
Prairie View A&M Alcorn St. 9.6
South Dakota St. South Dakota -1.4
Gonzaga BYU 9.4

Games in RED are Championship Games for NCAA Tournament Bids

Teams That Won Conference Championships Last Night

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Iona 83 Fairfield 71
Southern Conference Tournament
UNC-Greensboro 62 East Tennessee St. 47

List of Teams In the Field as of Tuesday Morning

Team Bid Conf. W-L
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7

 

NCAA Bids Up For Grabs Tonight

All Times EST

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
Championship–March 6  
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Charleston #2 Northeastern CBSSN

 

Horizon League Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #2 Wright St. #8 Cleveland St. ESPN

Note: Cleveland State comes into this game tonight sporting a 12-22 record.  If they upset Wright State (24-9), the Vikings will most likely become one of the 16-seeds that must play a First Four game in Dayton.

Northeast Conference Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Wagner #4 Long Island ESPN2

 

Summit League Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM #1 South Dakota St. #2 South Dakota ESPN2

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Gonzaga #3 BYU ESPN

Note:  BYU is a potential Bid Stealer.  If the Cougars upset the Bulldogs tonight at Orleans Arena, then the West Coast Conference would most likely send three teams instead of two to the NCAA Tournament, bursting the bubble of one of the teams on the fence, such as Alabama, Kansas St., USC, or UCLA.

Conference Tournaments Beginning Today

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Brooklyn
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #12 Boston College #13 Georgia Tech ESPN2
2:00 PM #10 Notre Dame #15 Pittsburgh ESPN2
7:00 PM #11 Syracuse #14 Wake Forest ESPNU
       
Second Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Florida St. #9 Louisville ESPN
2:00 PM #5 North Carolina St. Boston Coll. or Ga. Tech ESPN
7:00 PM #7 Virginia Tech N.Dame or Pitt ESPN2
9:00 PM #6 North Carolina Syracuse or Wake Forest ESPN2
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Virginia Fla. St. or Louis. ESPN
2:00 PM #4 Clemson NCSt/BC/GaT ESPN
7:00 PM #2 Duke VaT/N.Dame/Pitt ESPN
9:00 PM #3 Miami (Fla.) UNC/Syr/Wake For ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM UVa/FSU/Louis. Clem/NCSt/BC/GaT TBA
9:00 PM Duke/VaT/ND/Pitt Mia.UNC/Syr/WF TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

Note: #10 Seed Notre Dame is a team to monitor in this tournament.  With star forward Bonzie Colson returning to the lineup after missing 15 games, the Irish could sneak into the semifinals of this tournament.  They should quickly dismiss hapless Pittsburgh today.  The game with Virginia Tech tomorrow would most likely be a must-win for Notre Dame’s at-large hopes.  If the Irish win that game, they would face Duke in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

 

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Reno, NV
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 North Dakota #9 Montana St. Pluto tv
2:30 PM #5 Northern Colorado #12 Northern Arizona Pluto tv
5:30 PM #7 Idaho St. #10 Southern Utah Pluto tv
8:00 PM #6 Portland St. #11 Sacramento St. Pluto tv
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Montana UND or MSU Pluto tv
2:30 PM #4 Weber St. UNC or NAU Pluto tv
5:30 PM #2 Idaho ISU or S. Utah Pluto tv
8:00 PM #3 Eastern Washington PSU or Sac St. Pluto tv
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM Mont/UND/MSU Web/UNC/NAU Pluto tv
8:00 PM Ida/ISU/S.Utah EWU/PSU/Sac. St. Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPNU

Note: Montana comes into the tournament riding a 16-2 record in conference play.  The Grizzlies sport the best defense in the league, including the top ball-hawking perimeter players.

 

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round at Higher Seed, Semifinal and Final Round in Houston
Grambling and Alabama A&M are ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
7:30 PM #1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff #8 Mississippi Valley St. TBA
7:30 PM #4 Southern U #5 Jackson St. TBA
8:00 PM #3 Texas Southern #6 Alabama St. TBA
8:30 PM #2 Prairie View A&M #7 Alcorn St. TBA
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM UAPB or MVSU Southern or JSU TBA
8:30 PM PVAM or Alcorn TSU or ASU TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     ESPN2

Note:  There is no complete team in this tournament.  The best team in the league, Grambling, is ineligible due to low APR Scores.  Prairie View is the only team with a chance of getting its record over .500 by winning the tournament, and then the won-loss record would be 18-17.  Unless 4, 20-loss mid-major teams win conference tournaments, the automatic bid will go to a team that must quickly head to Dayton for a First Four game.

Conference Tournaments Continuing Today

America East Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 6  All Times EST
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Vermont #5 Stony Brook ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 UMBC #3 Hartford ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
11:00 AM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN2

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 Howard #9 Florida A&M ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 UNC-Central #11 Coppin St. ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 Morgan St. #10 South Carolina St. ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Hampton Howard or FAMU ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Bethune-Cookman MSU or SCSU ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 Savannah St. UNCC or Coppin ESPN3
8:00 PM #4 North Carolina A&T #5 Norfolk St. ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Hampton/Howard/FAMU NCAT/Norfolk St ESPN3
8:00 PM BCU/MSU/SCSU Sav/UNCC/Coppin ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 5, 2018

Today’s PiRate Rating Spreads for Conference Tournament Games 

Home Team Visitor  
or Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Charleston William & Mary 4.1
Northeastern UNC-Wilmington 9.6
Oakland Cleveland St. 8.4
Wright St. Milwaukee 4.0
Iona Fairfield 4.7
Central Michigan Bowling Green 7.6
Kent St. Northern Illinois 5.5
Miami (O) Ohio 2.7
Western Michigan Akron 7.8
North Carolina A&T Delaware St. 10.4
Norfolk St. Md. Eastern Shore 12.2
UNC-Greensboro East Tennessee St. -0.3
South Dakota St. North Dakota St. 6.4
South Dakota Denver 10.5
Gonzaga San Francisco 14.5
Saint Mary’s BYU 4.5

Yesterday’s Championship Games

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
Lipscomb 108 Florida Gulf Coast 96
Big South Conference Tournament
Radford 55 Liberty 52
Big Ten Conference Tournament
Michigan 75 Purdue 66
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Loyola (Chi.) 65 Illinois St. 49

Teams Already In The Field

Team Conf. W-L
Murray St. OVC 26-5
Radford B-South 22-12
Loyola (Chi.) MVC 28-5
Lipscomb A-SUN 23-9
Michigan BTen 28-7

Conference Tournament Championship Games Today

All Times EST

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #4 Iona #6 Fairfield ESPN
Southern Conference Tournament
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #1 UNC-Greensboro #2 East Tennessee St. ESPN2

 

Other Conference Tournaments In Action Today

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Charleston #4 William & Mary CBSSN
8:30 PM #2 Northeastern #6 UNC-Wilmington CBSSN
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Chas/W&M NE/UNCW CBSSN

 

Horizon League Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #4 Oakland #8 Cleveland St. ESPNU
9:30 PM #2 Wright St. #6 Milwaukee ESPNU
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Oak/CSU WSU/Milw ESPN

 

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Cleveland (First Round at Higher Seeds)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #8 Central Michigan #9 Bowling Green ESPN3
7:00 PM #5 Kent St. #12 Northern Illinois ESPN3
7:00 PM #7 Miami (O) #10 Ohio U ESPN3
7:45 PM #6 Western Michigan #11 Akron ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Buffalo CMU or BGU ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 Ball St. Kent or NIU ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 Toledo Mia or Ohio ESPN3
9:00 PM #3 Eastern Michigan WMU or Akron ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Buff/CMU/BGU Ball/Kent/NIU CBSSN
9:00 PM Tol/Mia/Ohio EMU/WMU/Akron CBSSN *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Norfolk, VA
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 North Carolina A&T #13 Delaware St. ESPN3
9:00 PM #5 Norfolk St. #12 Md-Eastern Shore ESPN3
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 Howard #9 Florida A&M ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 UNC-Central #11 Coppin St. ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 Morgan St. #10 South Carolina St. ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Hampton Howard or FAMU ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 Bethune-Cookman MSU or SCSU ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 Savannah St. UNCC or Coppin ESPN3
8:00 PM NCAT or Dela St. Norf St or UMES ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Hampton/Howard/FAMU NCAT/DelSt/NorfSt/UMES ESPN3
8:00 PM BCU/MSU/SCSU Sav/UNCC/Coppin ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

 

Summit League Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 South Dakota St. #5 North Dakota St. ESPN3
9:30 PM #2 South Dakota #3 Denver ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM SDSU/NDSU USD/Denver ESPN2

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM #1 Gonzaga #4 San Francisco ESPN
11:00 PM #2 Saint Mary’s #3 BYU ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM  Gonzaga/USF SMU/BYU  ESPN

PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus Report Coming Later Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 4, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 4, 2018

Spreads For Sunday’s Games

Home Team Visitor Spread
Wichita St. Cincinnati -0.9
South Florida SMU -11.0
Tulsa Temple 1.0
Memphis East Carolina 11.0
Houston Connecticut 15.2
Central Florida Tulane 8.3
Florida Gulf Coast Lipscomb 6.5
Radford Liberty 3.8
Purdue Michigan 3.9
Charleston Drexel 9.8
William & Mary Towson -1.6
Northeastern Delaware 8.9
Hofstra UNC-Wilmington 6.4
Illinois-Chicago Milwaukee 0.1
Oakland IUPUI 7.3
Iona St. Peter’s 5.1
Fairfield Quinnipiac 3.7
Loyola (Chi.) Illinois St. 7.9
Colgate Holy Cross 4.8
Bucknell Boston U 9.2
UNC-Greensboro Wofford 4.9
East Tennessee St. Furman -0.3
Fort Wayne North Dakota St. 0.9
Denver Oral Roberts 1.5
Gonzaga San Francisco 14.5
Saint Mary’s BYU 4.5

Note:  Games in Bright Red are for Automatic NCAA Tournament Bids

Automatic NCAA Tournament Bids Awarded to Date

Murray State (26-5) 

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Murray St. 68 Belmont 51

Conference Tournaments Scores From Saturday with Updated Brackets

America East Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 3
UMBC 89 UMass-Lowell 77
Hartford 71 New Hampshire 60
Vermont 75 Maine 60
Stony Brook 69 Albany 60
Semifinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Vermont #5 Stony Brook ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 UMBC #3 Hartford ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
11:00 AM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN2

 

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Michigan 75 Michigan St. 64
Purdue 78 Penn St. 70
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:30 PM #3 Purdue #5 Michigan CBS

 

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
First Round–March 3
Drexel 70 James Madison 62
Delaware 86 Elon 79
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 College of Charleston #8 Drexel CAA TV
2:30 PM #4 William & Mary #5 Towson CAA TV
6:00 PM #2 Northeastern #7 Delaware CAA TV
8:30 PM #3 Hofstra #6 UNC-Wilmington CAA TV
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM CofC/Drex/JMU W&M or Towson CBSSN
8:30 PM NE/Del/Elon Hofstra or UNCW CBSSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     CBSSN
Horizon League Tournament
Wright St. 87 Green Bay 72
Cleveland St. 89 Northern Kentucky 80
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #3 UIC #6 Milwaukee ESPN3
7:30 PM #4 Oakland #5 IUPUI ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM Oakland or IUPUI #8 Cleveland St. ESPNU
9:30 PM #2 Wright St. UIC or Milwaukee ESPNU
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Fairfield 90 Niagara 77
Iona 72 Manhattan 60
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #4 Iona #9 St. Peter’s ESPN3
9:30 PM #6 Fairfield #7 Quinnipiac ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN

 

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Loyola (Chi.) 62 Bradley 54
Illinois St. 76 Southern Illinois 68
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #1 Loyola (Chi.) #3 Illinois St. CBS

 

Northeast Conference Tournament
Wagner 75 Robert Morris 64
Long Island 78 Fairleigh-Dickinson 77
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Wagner #4 Long Island ESPN2

 

Southern Conference Tournament
UNC-Greensboro 72 The Citadel 58
Wofford 73 Mercer 53
East Tennessee St. 77 Chattanooga 59
Furman 97 Western Carolina 73
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #1 UNC-Greensboro #5 Wofford ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 East Tennessee St. #3 Furman ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

 

Summit League Tournament
Quarterfinals–March 3
South Dakota St. 66 Western Illiois 60
South Dakota 87 Omaha 73
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #4 Fort Wayne #5 North Dakota St. ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 Denver #6 Oral Roberts ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 South Dakota St. Ft.Wayne or NDSU ESPN3
8:30 PM #2 South Dakota Denver or ORU ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

 

West Coast Conference Tournament
BYU 85 San Diego 79
San Francisco 71 Pacific 70 ot
Gonzaga 83 Loyola Marymount 69
Saint Mary’s 69 Pepperdine 66
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 Gonzaga #4 San Francisco ESPN
8:00 PM #2 Saint Mary’s #3 BYU ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM     ESPN

Other Conference Tournaments Resuming Today

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
3:00 PM #1 Florida Gulf Coast #2 Lipscomb ESPN
Big South Conference Tournament
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM #2 Radford #5 Liberty ESPN
Semifinals–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
12:00 PM #2 Colgate #6 Holy Cross CBSSN
2:00 PM #1 Bucknell #5 Boston U CBSSN
       
Championship–March 7
Time Home Visitors TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

Bids That Will Be Awarded on Sunday

Big South Conference:  Radford or Liberty   1:00 PM EST on ESPN

Even with 2-seed Radford’s home court advantage, this game should be considered close to a toss-up.   Earlier in the season, these two teams had to play an extra five minutes to determine the outcome, as Radford won by a bucket 59-57.  Of the 20 players that appeared in that game, only one could find the basket consistently that night, as Radford’s Ed Polite, Jr. finished a perfect 7 for 7 from the field in that game.  It was no fluke, as in the return game at Liberty, Polite, Jr. went 7 for 10 from the field with a three-pointer and a perfect 8 for 8 at the line for 23 points, as Radford cruised to an easy win.  Any chance Liberty has of winning will come from limiting Radford’s ability to get second chance baskets and getting to the foul line, where they lead the Big South with a 78.5% accuracy rate.

Missouri Valley Conference:  Loyola (Chi.) or Illinois St.  2:00 PM EST on CBS

Loyola is the top seed, while Illinois State is the 3-seed.  During the regular season, Loyola won by identical 68-61 scores in a season sweep.  The Ramblers have won nine consecutive games and would be a formidable foe as an underdog in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  They rank third nationally in field goal percentage at 51% per game, and they play competent defense without fouling.

Atlantic Sun Conference:  Florida Gulf Coast or Lipscomb   3:00 PM EST on ESPN

These are the top two seeds, and they split the season series, winning on the other team’s home floor.  This game will be played at FGCU, where Lipscomb beat the Eagles 90-87, despite being forced into 23 turnovers at the hands of 19 FGCU steals.  Lipscomb has won seven games in a row and 11 out of 12, but FGCU is tournament tough and has been there before.  The Eagles have owned this league since Belmont left for the OVC, while Lipscomb has never been to the NCAA Tournament and only appeared in one previous A-Sun Tournament Championship Game.  This game should be exciting.

Big Ten: Purdue or Michigan  4:30 PM EST on CBS

Obviously, both teams are going to the NCAA Tournament, as will be Michigan State and Ohio State.  Nebraska has little or no chance, while Penn State’s chances of getting in are only marginally better.

 

 

 

December 29, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads For December 30-31, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:56 am
Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut Wichita St. -10.0
Houston Temple 8.6
North Carolina Wake Forest 14.0
Duke Florida St. 10.6
Virginia Boston College 16.2
Notre Dame Georgia Tech 16.5
Pittsburgh Miami (Fla.) -11.8
Clemson N. C. State 8.5
TCU Oklahoma 1.4
Xavier DePaul 16.1
Butler Villanova -7.9
Marquette Georgetown 8.3
Nevada New Mexico 15.7
San Diego St. Utah St. 10.1
UNLV Boise St. 4.0
Arizona Arizona St. 2.5
Stanford California 7.1
Arkansas Tennessee 5.2
Florida Vanderbilt 9.1
Alabama Texas A&M -4.1
BYU Saint Mary’s 0.2
Gonzaga Santa Clara 25.2
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Tulane Tulsa 2.0
Cincinnati Memphis 20.1
East Carolina Central Florida -10.9
SMU South Florida 22.3
Syracuse Virginia Tech 0.1
Creighton Providence 10.2
Seton Hall St. John’s 8.1
Oregon St. Utah -4.0
UCLA Washington 9.0
USC Washington St. 14.1
Oregon Colorado 11.4
Kentucky Georgia 9.8
Ole Miss South Carolina 2.0

 

 

April 3, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball National Championship Game Preview

Red-White-Blue Ratings

Monday, April 3
Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Gonzaga -3 -1 2

Team Stats Comparison

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 38 1129 2222 278 730 621 864 366 1172 1538 434 263 3157
North Carolina 39 1200 2560 279 771 627 890 615 1088 1703 469 276 3306

 

Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 38 849 2326 219 743 410 620 414 851 1265 468 202 2327
North Carolina 39 962 2318 311 920 524 720 355 853 1208 530 247 2759

 

Team PPG Def PPG Mar. FG-Marg Rb-Marg TO-Marg R+T WLRd SOS Poss/G W L
Gonzaga 83.1 61.2 21.8 14.3 7.2 0.9 19.4 22-0 54.36 70.7 37 1
North Carolina 84.8 70.7 14.0 5.4 12.7 1.6 30.2 12-7 60.29 72.7 32 7

 

Four Factors Comparison

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.1 14.2 15.2 23.0 15.3
North Carolina 52.3 48.2 41.9 24.6 13.6 16.6 22.1 18.5

 

PiRate Ratings Criteria Breakdown

Power Conference: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina is a member of the ACC, while Gonzaga is a member of the WCC.  The Tar Heels’ conference affiliation gives them an 8-point advantage over Gonzaga.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina’s schedule has been 10.3 points better than average through 39 games.  Gonzaga’s schedule has been 4.4 points better than average through 38 games.  This gives the Tar Heels the advantage by 6 points.

R+T Rating*: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina’s R+T of 30.2 is the best by far in all of Division 1 College Basketball, and it came shining through in their semifinal win over Oregon, where the Tar Heels forced a lot of early turnovers on the Ducks, and they cleaned the glass, especially when the game was on the line.

Gonzaga’s R+T of 19.4 earns an A+ grade, but when facing a team with an A+++ grade, the extra scoring opportunities the Bulldogs normally receive through rebounding prowess, turnover avoidance, and the ability to steal the ball and avoid having it stolen disappears.  The Tar Heels should receive the opportunity to score about 11 more points than Gonzaga through hustle stats.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s FG% margin of 14.3% is at the top of the charts.  It is why the Bulldogs have made it to this game.  North Carolina’s margin of 5.4% is just average for an NCAA Tournament team and below average for a Final Four team.  This is the stat that gives the Zags a fighting chance.

Expected Possessions Per Team: 72

North Carolina will do everything it can to speed up the pace of this game.  Even though Gonzaga’s pace is considerably above average, the Bulldogs can ill afford to get into a race horse pace in this game.  For every possession above 70 in this game, the Tar Heels will receive more and more benefit.

Summary

Gonzaga has a chance to win this game, but the Bulldogs will have to keep the ball out of the paint when North Carolina has the ball.  Having two quality post players gives the Zags a chance to do just that, but Carolina could get both Karnowski and Collins in foul trouble, and that would spell doom for the challenger.

If Jackson and Berry can knock down three-pointers at a rate above 37.5% (3 out of every 8), it will force Gonzaga to stretch their man-to-man defense just enough to open the inside for Meeks, Hicks, and Bradley, and Gonzaga’s inside defense may be strong, but it is not quick enough to handle the Tar Heel inside game.

North Carolina came within a second of winning the title last year.  Our PiRates here believe that Roy Williams will be cutting down the nets for his third time, passing his mentor in bringing title banners to Chapel Hill.

PiRate Prediction: North Carolina 89  Gonzaga 81

 

Note: This ends our sports coverage for Spring.  The PiRates will return to our ship and head out to sea once again, and we will return to land in August in time to begin previewing the 2017-18 college and NFL football seasons.

In our absence, some of our merry lasses may decide to post a story or two dealing with whatever floats their boats.

Enjoy a wonderful Spring and Summer, and we will be back for the football season.

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

March 23, 2017

PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 Sweet 16 Criteria Reveal

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:00 am

If you get to start anew with your brackets in whatever pool you are playing in as a participant, we have updated our PiRate Ratings Criteria for the Sweet 16.
If you played along with us, you should have 10 teams left in your Sweet 16, having 26 of the 32 first round winners. If you are in a league where you get one point for each winner that goes from 64 to 32, and two points for every correct Sweet 16 team, then you should be sitting pretty with 46 points. Hopefully, we will help you score some 3-point winners the next two nights, whether you must stick with your original picks, or you get to start over with the 16 remaining teams.

To understand our methods if you don’t already know, refer to this primer: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/bracketnomics-505-the-advanced-level-course-in-bracket-selection/

Here is a breakdown of each game for the next two nights, followed by an update at how the Elite 8 and Final Four look using our criteria.

Oregon vs. Michigan
Power Conference: Both teams

Strength of Schedule: Very slight edge to Michigan, but not enough to matter much

R+T Rating: Large edge to Oregon, as the Ducks’ R+T is 14.7 to the Wolverines’ 3.2. This means that on average, Oregon will have an opportunity through superior rebounding, ball-steals, and overall turnover differential to outscore Michigan by 11.5 points. There is a caveat, as the Ducks are missing a key component in Chris Boucher.
Ability to Win Away from Home: Oregon 14-5/Michigan 11-8. The Ducks have a decent advantage here, but not enough to move this game to the win column.

Winning Streak(s): The Ducks won 17 games in a row at one point this season and eight in a row another time, while Michigan had two, five-game winning streaks. Once again, Oregon has the advantage here, but we cannot annoint the Ducks winners just yet. Not having Boucher removes a lot of these advantages three rounds into the Big Dance.

Since the strengths of schedule are similar, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: Michigan = 8.9, Oregon = 13.8, Ducks look better here
FG% Differential: Michigan = 1.9, Oregon = 7.8, Ducks look much better here, as UM fails to qualify
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 68

This is a tough game to figure out, because Boucher’s absence makes Oregon less than what the stats say. Still, the Ducks come out as the superior team based on how we use the criteria. In our original picks, we had Louisville knocking Oregon out of the tournament in this round, but the Cardinals were sent packing last weekend.

PiRate Criteria Pick: OREGON

 

Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Power Conference: West Virginia is, Gonzaga is not. A slight edge to the Mountaineers

Strength of Schedule: WVU 55.55. Gonzaga 54.02, a slight edge to the Mountaineers

R+T Rating: WVU 19.1, Gonzaga 21.2, a push when SOS is applied

Ability to Win Away from Home: WVU 11-6, Gonzaga 19-0, even with SOS factored into the equation, Gonzaga has the advantage here.

Winning Streak(s): WVU 8 & 4, Gonzaga 29 & 5, Gonzaga enjoys a small advantage

We must handicap these stats with Gonzaga playing in a weaker conference and a slightly weaker schedule
Scoring Margin: WVU 15.3, Gonzaga 22.8, a push
FG% Differential: WVU 3.4, Gonzaga 14.5
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 71

This is where we see another #1 seed going down. Gonzaga’s main Achilles Heel is their conference, where the WCC has two other quality teams. Of course, teams like Butler, George Mason, VCU, and Wichita State have advanced to the Final Four, but the percentages say that these are exceptions and not the norm. When you are trying to win a contest by going with the percentages, you go with the norm unless you have a major reason not to do so. When looking at the obvious way this game will deviate from the norm, it comes from the vaunted WVU full-court press, something that Gonzaga has not faced from a quality team this year. It is our belief that GU will commit very few turnovers against the press and even capitalize with a couple of easy baskets, making it look like to the casual fan that the press is not working. However, we believe it will take the Bulldogs out of their offense just enough to cause them to rush and make poor shot selections, and it will also begin to wear their bigger, bulkier players down in the second half. A fatigued team is only a shell of itself, and once GU is fatigued, WVU will pull away and win this game.

PiRate Criteria Pick: WEST VIRGINIA

Kansas vs. Purdue
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: KU 58.11, PU 55.83, a decided advantage for the Jayhawks

R+T Rating: KU 12.3, PU 15.5, a credible advantage for the Boilermakers

Ability to Win Away from Home: KU 16-3, PU 12-5, a tiny advantage for KU

Winning Streak(s): KU 18 & 8, PU 7 & 6, KU has the advantage, but this isn’t overwhelming since PU has two 6+ streaks, and that is all we are looking for in this criterion

Since the strengths of schedule favor KU enough to matter, we must handicap the following stats.
Scoring Margin: KU 11.4, PU 12.6, with the handicap, KU has a minor advantage here
FG% Differential: KU 7.3, PU 6.4, a slight edge to the Jayhawks
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 72 which will favor KU in the 2nd half

In previous years where Purdue was very good, we would call for Kansas to easily win this game because in the past, Purdue did not own good R+T numbers. In fact, they were downright awful. However, this year is very different up in West Lafayatte, where Purdue has an R+T number strong enough to reach the Final Four. Unfortunately, Kansas has the criteria strong enough to win the National Championship, and thus we must go with the team that is only a tad better in this game. A Boilermaker win would not be a surprise at all, but we must go with the percentages.

PiRate Criteria Pick: KANSAS (but this should be an outstanding game)

Arizona vs. Xavier
Power Conference: Both (in recent years, we would discount the Pac-12 some, but not this year. Three league teams made the Sweet 16.

Strength of Schedule: Arizona 58.17, Xavier 58.70, a wash

R+T Rating: Arizona 18.0, Xavier 15.2, the Wildcats with an ever so slight advantage that is not enough to mean much

Ability to Win Away from Home: Arizona 17-3, Xavier 11-9, this is a big advantage for ‘Zona

Winning Streak(s): Arizona 15 & 6, Xavier 7 & 6, Another tiny advantage to the Wildcats

Since the strengths of schedule are almost identical, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: Arizona 11.0, Xavier 4.1, the Wildcats have a major advantage here, as XU’s scoring margin is well beneath the threshold of a Final Four contender.
FG% Differential: Arizona 6.0, Xavier 0.9, another big edge for Arizona
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 67

This one appears to be headed to a double-digit win for the higher-seeded team. Add on to the criteria the fact that Xavier has not been the same since Edmund Sumner was lost for the year at the end of January, and this game looks like a potential breeze for Arizona.
PiRate Criteria Pick: ARIZONA (by double digits)

 

North Carolina vs. Butler
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: UNC 59.00, BU 59.04, a total push

R+T Rating: UNC 31.1, BU 9.5, do we really need to go on after this criterion shows the Tar Heels with a chance on average to score 20 more points on rebounds, steals, and turnovers?

Ability to Win Away from Home: UNC 13-7, BU 12-5, pretty much even here

Winning Streak(s): UNC 13 & 7, BU 12 & 5, another push

Since the strengths of schedule are identical, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: UNC 14.8, BU 7.8, Give the Heels a little more advantage here
FG% Differential: UNC 5.5, BU 3.7, more props for the Heels
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 70 (Butler will want to slow the pace, but they will have to play catchup)

Pirate Criteria Pick: NORTH CAROLINA

Baylor vs. South Carolina
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: BU 59.40, USC 56.23, the Bears have a little advantage here

R+T Rating: BU 19.3, USC 10.4, Baylor with decent advantage in this one

Ability to Win Away from Home: BU 12-5, USC 11-7, another tilt to the Bears

Winning Streak(s): BU 15 & 5, USC 8 & 5, BU with yet another advantage

Since the strengths of schedule favors Baylor, the following stats must be handicapped a little
Scoring Margin: BU 10.1, USC 7.9, the criteria keeps tilting green
FG% Differential: BU 7.2, USC 1.9, this continues the trend
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 67, Baylor will conrol the pace.

PiRate Criteria Pick: BAYLOR

 

Kentucky vs. UCLA
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: UK 58.63, UCLA 54.00, a nice advantage for the Wildcats, but UCLA still meets the minimum number for Final Four consideration, and remember UCLA won at Kentucky earlier this season

R+T Rating: UK 17.2, UCLA 10.9

Ability to Win Away from Home: UK 16-3, UCLA 14-3, nothing to learn here

Winning Streak(s): UK 13 & 7, UCLA 13 & 10, not much here either

We must handicap the following stats in UK’s favor fde to the strengths of schedule
Scoring Margin: UK 13.9, UCLA 15.0, basically a wash
FG% Differential: UK 5.4, UCLA 10.2, The Bruins pick up a big advantage here with Championship-caliber differential
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 74, expect the most up-tempo game of the Sweet 16, and it could even top 75.

Face it: this is the game that is going to make this round. The winner most likely plays North Carolina in the Elite 8, making for a fantastic 48-hours in Memphis, where they could move these games to the Liberty Bowl and still not have enough seats for the fans that want to get in. Think of this game like the second Ali-Frazier fight. Or, if you are a Bruin fan over the age of 55, be forewarned and remember that Houston beat your Bruins in the 1967-68 regular season before meeting up with the worst ever whipping by a number one team in the history of the game.

PiRate Criteria Pick: KENTUCKY — Until the Wildcats are knocked out of the tournament, they have the best resume when comparing it to past National Champions.

 

Florida vs. Wisconsin
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: Fla 59.34, UW 54.79, The Gators have a decided advantage

R+T Rating: Fla 3.3, UW 3.3 This is a dirty wash, as neither team can expect to be a Championship team with these R+T ratings.

Ability to Win Away from Home: Fla 17-7, UW 12-7, Florida played a lot of neutral site games near home when their arena was not ready following remodeling. This becomes a wash

Winning Streak(s): Fla. 9 & 7, UW 9 & 8, a wash

Since the strengths of schedule favor the Gators, the following stats must be handicapped in UF’s favor. Scoring Margin: UF 6.2, UW 9.2, a wash
FG% Differential: UF 4.6, UW 4.2, a small edge for the Gators
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 69 We look for the Badgers to slow the tempo a little

When Florida isn’t playing Vanderbilt, they look like Final Four contenders. Actually, two of the three losses to the Commodores came after the Gators lost John Egbunu for the season due to injury, and UF went from 23-5 to 24-8 after that loss. This discounts the Gators’ results enough to make up for the schedule strength favor. In other words, this is a game where you flip a coin. We do not use the Four Factors in this criteria selection process, but if we were to use them for this game, it would just add a bunch of balance, as the teams would come out dead even. We must select somebody to go on and lose to Baylor Sunday, and just because they have a little more recent NCAA Tournament success, we will go with the Badgers.

PiRate Criteria Pick: WISCONSIN –but this is really a tie

Elite 8 to Final Four
Baylor over Wisconsin
Arizona over West Virginia
Kentucky over North Carolina
Kansas over Oregon

Semifinals
Baylor over Arizona
Kentucky over Kansas

Championship
Kentucky over Baylor

Note: When we first revealed the criteria for all 68 teams in the dance, we listed the top 10 teams with the best matching criteria to past champions. The top 6 teams in this list, and 8 of the 10 made the Sweet 16. Here is that top 10 again.
1. Kentucky
2. North Carolina
3. Baylor
4. Arizona
5. West Virginia
6. Gonzaga
7. Louisville
8. Villanova
9. Kansas
10. Purdue

 

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