The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 2, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
Central FloridaTulsa3.4
South FloridaMemphis-8.4
PittsburghWake Forest8.6
Georgia TechDuke2.4
West VirginiaBaylor-4.2
Iowa St.Texas-11.4
Texas TechTCU12.3
GeorgetownXavier-2.1
DePaulMarquette-2.6
MichiganIllinois5.5
Michigan St.Indiana-0.1
PurdueWisconsin2.1
Cleveland St.Purdue Fort Wayne10.0
Northern KentuckyDetroit-0.9
Wright St.Milwaukee15.8
OaklandYoungstown St.3.0
BuffaloAkron5.7
Central MichiganToledo-15.6
Kent St.Ohio3.4
Eastern MichiganBall St.-4.7
Northern IllinoisWestern Michigan-2.5
Bowling GreenMiami (O)5.6
Boise St.Fresno St.14.8
WagnerMerrimack6.1
South CarolinaArkansas-7.5
AlabamaAuburn10.6
LSUVanderbilt9.8
Ole MissKentucky1.0
New Mexico St.UT Rio Grande Valley6.2

Tuesday Night Must Watch TV

If you were going to choose a weeknight to stay home and watch basketball, this is the penultimate Tuesday night of the regular season. You have multiple excellent games today and tonight.

It all starts with an afternoon game at 2 PM Eastern Time on ESPN3 when Akron visits Buffalo in a key MAC game that will directly affect MAC Tournament seedings.

At 5 PM, West Virginia hosts Baylor on ESPN. After losing at Kansas, the Bears could begin to face a little jeopardy on the 1-seed line with a loss to the Mountaineers, who could move up to a 1-seed if they win out.

The regular season game of the year should have been Gonzaga and Baylor back in December, but that game became a Covid casualty. Tonight’s Michigan-Illinois game in Ann Arbor, at 7 PM on ESPN, could easily be a Final Four preview, as the two Big Ten powers both have the talent and cohesiveness to win four games in March Madness. This game should be as exciting as some of the Duke-North Carolina March games in the past, maybe even more exciting.

The Big Ten festivities don’t end with the biggie in A2. At 8PM on the Big Ten Network, Michigan State hosts Indiana in a must-win game for the Spartans. The Hoosiers have played themselves out of at-large status with too many losses.

At the same time on the ACC Network, Georgia Tech hosts Duke in what in effect is an at-large qualifying game. This is the best Yellow Jacket team in a decade or more, while Duke cannot afford another conference loss and still harbor at-large hopes.

There’s one more really Big game from the Big Ten. At 9PM, Wisconsin visits Purdue in a crucial game for Big Ten Tournament seeding. This game will air on ESPN2.

Finally at 9PM, on ESPN, Ole Miss hosts Kentucky in a must-win game. The Rebels must win tonight, beat Vanderbilt on Saturday, and then advance to the SEC Tournament Championship Game to have an at-large bid possibility.

February 27, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 12:00 am

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Multiple Bid League Games

HomeVisitorSpread
DavidsonVCU-1.6
George MasonLa Salle5.0
DuquesneRhode Island-1.4
Georgia TechSyracuse4.4
Boston CollegeNotre Dame-3.9
North CarolinaFlorida St.-2.2
Virginia TechWake Forest10.2
DukeLouisville4.5
Central FloridaTemple4.9
Texas TechTexas1.0
OklahomaOklahoma St.2.6
West VirginiaKansas St.17.5
Iowa St.TCU-0.3
KansasBaylor-6.6
DePaulGeorgetown-0.6
ConnecticutMarquette6.1
XavierCreighton-4.2
IndianaMichigan-8.1
WisconsinIllinois-2.0
NebraskaMinnesota-3.7
Loyola (Chi.)Southern Illinois21.3
Illinois St.Northern Iowa1.4
ValparaisoIndiana St.-3.6
EvansvilleMissouri St.-7.2
BradleyDrake-7.0
San Diego St.Boise St.6.0
Colorado St.Air Force20.3
WyomingSan Jose St.10.9
ArizonaWashington14.7
CaliforniaOregon-8.7
StanfordOregon St.7.1
UtahUSC-6.7
Arizona St.Washington St.3.0
ColoradoUCLA5.8
AuburnTennessee-2.9
GeorgiaSouth Carolina4.4
ArkansasLSU4.2
VanderbiltOle Miss-2.9
KentuckyFlorida-1.0
Mississippi St.Alabama-7.7
San DiegoPepperdine-3.9
GonzagaLoyola Marymount24.9
BYUSaint Mary’s8.7
PacificSan Francisco-0.2

February 26, 2021

PiRate Ratings Bracketology

2/26/2021

SeedTeamTeamTeamTeamTeamTeam
1GonzagaBaylorMichiganOhio St.
2IllinoisAlabamaVillanovaIowa
3West VirginiaHoustonFlorida St.Oklahoma
4KansasCreightonTexasUSC
5VirginiaTennesseeWisconsinArkansas
6Texas TechPurdueColoradoClemson
7Oklahoma St.FloridaMissouriBYU
8RutgersVirginia TechLSULoyola (Chi.)
9UCLASan Diego St.OregonMaryland
10North CarolinaBoise St.LouisvilleDrake
11VCUSt. BonaventureColorado St.Connecticut
12ToledoWestern Ky.Seton HallXavierIndianaGeorgia Tech
13BelmontColgateWinthropUCSB
14Wright St.LibertyFurmanAbilene Christian
15IonaVermontE. WashingtonGrand Canyon
16James MadisonS. Dakota St.Texas St.Prairie ViewWagnerN.C. A&T

First 8 Out

69Michigan St.
70Wichita St.
71Stanford
72Duke
73Richmond
74Utah St.
75Minnesota
76Ole Miss

Conference Tournaments underway!

With March getting ready to come in like a lion, here’s a look at each of the conferences heading into conference tournament play.

One-Bid Leagues

America East: Maryland-Baltimore Co. & Vermont are tied at 10-4 in the league. The teams split a weekend series in Maryland. Vermont is the team more likely to contend in a #15 vs. #2 seed game in the NCAA Tournament.

Atlantic Sun: Liberty is 10-2 in the league but not as strong as last year’s team. Bellarmine is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament but will play in the A-Sun tournament. If they win, then Liberty gets the automatic bid. Lipscomb is 9-5 in the league and the hottest team of the contenders.

Big Sky: There will be many mid-major and low-major tournaments this year that should be wide open. This is one. Eastern Washington at 11-2 in conference play currently leads for the top seed, with Southern Utah (9-2) and Weber St. (10-3) vying for second place. Weber St. is probably the best of the three, but we wouldn’t be shocked if Montana (just 6-9 in the league) sneaks into the semifinals with a chance to win it from well back in the field.

Big South: Winthrop ran way with the league title and has lapped the field. At 17-1/20-1, the Eagles are contending for a #12 seed. If anybody else wins, it’s 16-seed almost for sure. Winthrop will be the biggest favorite to win their conference tournament, even more than Gonzaga.

Big West: UCSB will end UC-Irvine’s reign as regular season champions. The Gauchos (12-2/16-3) will still likely have to face either UCI (9-4/12-8) or UC Riverside (7-4/10-6) in the Big West Championship Game.

Colonial: It’s a down year in the CAA. In past years, four or five teams had the talent to do damage in a Round of 64 game. This year, we don’t see a win in the cards for this league. James Madison (8-1/13-5) and Northeastern (8-2/9-8) are the leading contenders for the automatic bid.

Conference USA: This is a conference with at least five teams talented enough to upset a higher seeded team in the Big Dance. Western Kentucky (8-2/15-5) has been at the top of the league all year. North Texas (8-2/12-6) and UAB (10-4/18-5) have been right there with the Hilltoppers. Louisiana Tech (10-4/17-6) and Marshall (6-4/12-5) are the hot contenders late in the season. Marshall may be the best of the bunch.

Horizon: This has been a two-team race like Easy Goer and Sunday Silence in past Triple Crown horse racing. Wright St. and Cleveland St. share the conference lead at 16-4. The only other team in the picture is Detroit at 10-6. WSU or CSU could win an opening round game in the Dance.

Metro Atlantic: This looks like a three-team race for the MAAC automatic bid. Siena (9-3) has led the league most of the season, with Monmouth (10-6) trailing. But, Iona (6-3) has started playing again after a long Covid layoff. They have an experienced tournament coach in New Rochelle; if you didn’t know, Rick Pitino is in charge, and the Gaels are the team to beat in our opinion. For declaration purposes, Monmouth coach King Rice is a friend of the PiRate Captain, and he’s rooting for the Hawks to fly high.

Mid-American: Of all the conference tournaments, this one historically has been the most exciting, because rarely has there been a clear-cut favorite. More teams from back in the pack have won this tourney in our memories than any other league. Toledo (13-3/18-6) has led the West all year with no competition, but the East looks like the 1967 American League pennant race. Akron (12-4/14-5) leads Ohio (9-3/13-6) only because of more games played. Kent St. (11-5/14-6) and Buffalo (9-5/11-7) are right there. Any of these five could win the lone bid, and then again, someone from back in the pack could do it again. Toledo could be a #12 seed if they win out.

Mideastern: This league has been really hit by Covid issues, with two teams choosing not to play and a third opting out in mid-season. North Carolina A&T (6-1) has been in first place all year. Norfolk St. (8-4) may be a little better come March. But, Morgan St. (6-4) is coming on strong and might be the true favorite to take the MEAC Tournament. The winner is looking squarely at a 16-seed play-in game.

Northeast: The NEC usually places their automatic qualifier in the Dayton play-in game for a 16-seed. The only difference this year, is the game will be played in the Hoosier State. Wagner (11-4) leads Bryant (9-4) with the rest of the field out of the race. Bryant might be the better team.

Ohio Valley: Belmont looked unbeatable in this league, until the Bruins went up to Eastern Kentucky and found out how tough the Colonels are on their home, even with no fans. Belmont (18-1/24-2) now must face an even tougher Morehead St. team (16-3 in the OViC) tomorrow. This league tournament is no longer just a rubber stamp for Belmont. The Morehead/EKU winner in a likely semifinal game will have a 40% chance of knocking out the Bruins.

Patriot: Colgate is in the top 20 of the NET ratings, the one data point that the NCAA Selection Committee places as the primary seeding factor. At 11-1 overall, all their games were played in the league. Four of those games came against Army, where the Raiders won three but lost once at home to the Black Knights. Colgate is an enigma. We don’t understand why they are rated so highly with no non-conference games, because the Patriot League is not highly-rated. Navy at 10-1/13-2 looks like a better team, and Army 6-6/10-7 already knows they can beat the heavy favorite. Colgate could be a 12-seed if they win out, and in this case, their 5-seed opponent will not be on upset alert.

Southern: This league has produced multiple bids in the past, but it won’t happen this year. There are five good but not great teams in contention, and the eventual winner will not be highly regarded as an upset special possibility. Furman (10-4/16-7) is methodically better than average but not flashy. They stay on an even keel with talent not quite as deep as the other contenders, but with more consistency. UNCG (12-5/17-8) plays a style of play that opponents don’t like to face, but when a team is solid handling the ball, the Spartans are not that hard to beat. Wofford (11-5/14-8) has been a snake in the tall grass, sneaking into the top of the league. East Tennessee St. (8-6/12-10) is a mere shell of its former self left by Steve Forbes, while Chattanooga (9-7/18-7) has been a major underperformer since New Year’s Day.

Southland: The potential seeding of this league took a big turn last week, when Stephen F. Austin decided to become ineligible this year rather than next year. What would have been an incredible 4-team scramble has lost one of its scramblers. Abilene Christian (11-1/19-3) is a team no Power Conference opponent wants to see in their bracket. The Wildcats are really tough on the defensive side of the ball, and a poor passing team can turn ACU into an efficient offensive puncher, because the Wildcats can intercept passes like the 1963 Chicago Bears! Sam Houston (11-2/17-7) and Nicholls (11-2/14-6) are the top contenders without SFA.

Summit: This should be another wide open conference tournament with four co-favorites. South Dakota (10-3/12-9), North Dakota St. (10-4/12-10), South Dakota St. (7-3/13-6) and Oral Roberts (8-5/11-10) are on close to equal terms at the end of February. We think SDSU is the favorite to win the tournament.

Sun Belt: This league is slowly falling in overall strength, and it is in danger of joining the NEC, MEAC, and SWAC in the annual play-in round for a 16-seed. Texas St. (10-3/16-6) has held the SBC lead for several weeks, but South Alabama (10-5/16-8), Louisiana (9-6/15-7), and Georgia St. (6-4/12-5) are lurking close behind. We like GSU from this group to win the conference tournament.

Southwestern: Covid may have helped this league a tad. The co-leaders, Prairie View (9-0/10-4) and Jackson St. (7-0/7-5) don’t play each other in the regular season. It could lead to a SWAC title game between two undefeated teams in conference play, making it one of the most exciting of the postseason. Texas Southern (6-3/9-8) is the dark horse.

Western: After the MEAC, the WAC has been next most affected by Covid issues. Technically, UT Rio Grande Valley leads the league today at 2-0 in the WAC and 9-4 overall. But, Grand Canyon (7-1/13-4) is two games ahead in the won-loss, even if UTRGV is 1.000 in percentage. Utah Valley is third at 6-3 in the WAC, but we wouldn’t rule out New Mexico St. (3-5/6-6). The Aggies not only couldn’t play home games, they couldn’t even return home during the shutdown of the Land of Enchantment. Chris Jans is the type of coach that can motivate and use the right strategy to win this tournament.

Multi-Bid Leagues

American: Houston is a lock, but the Cougars are in second place in the AAC to a Wichita St. team that beat them. WSU is likely to earn the top seed in the AAC Tournament, and the Shockers are on the Bubble and need a little more to add to their resume. Memphis has more than enough talent to win the tournament, but the Tigers don’t play cohesively.

Atlantic Coast: In the past, any team with a winning record in conference play was close to assured of earning a bid. Syracuse went 10-8 in 2017 and didn’t get a bid. This year, Florida St., Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Louisville, and Clemson are Dancing. Duke, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina St., in that order, are still in contention. We think the Seminoles are strong enough to advance past the Sweet 16.

Atlantic 10: St. Bonaventure and VCU share the lead at 10-3, and the Bonnies and Rams are close to becoming locks for the Big Dance. Richmond, at 6-3, has been on the Bubble for most of the season. Saint Louis (4-4) has suffered the same fate as New Mexico State, missing weeks of scheduled games. The Billikens may be the best team in the league if they have completely dusted off the cobwebs in March.

Big 12: Undefeated Baylor probably won’t enter the Big 12 Tournament without a blemish. The Bears could even have two league losses. BU is still rusty from a long layoff, and they must play at Kansas, at West Virginia, and at home against Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech. This league is probably set in tournament teams. Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma St. should be in the field. TCU is too far back to sneak into the field without earning the automatic bid.

Big East: Villanova and Creighton are locks, while Seton Hall, Connecticut, and Xavier still have work to do before they are safely in the field. Xavier faces a must-win game at home against Creighton tomorrow.

Big Ten: This league is still in a state of flux. The teams that were close to being safe at the back of the field have done everything they could to play themselves out, while Michigan St., once given up for dead, has done everything to play themselves in.

As of today, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio St., Iowa, Wisconsin, and Purdue are locks. The Big Ten will probably get nine teams in the field. Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan St., Indiana, and Minnesota are competing for three bids. If Indiana or Minnesota fall short, there could be a coaching availability or two in the Big Ten in March.

Missouri Valley: With Wichita State relocated to the AAC, one would think the days of the venerable Valley earning multiple bids was over. Guess again. Drake and Loyola are close to sure things before Arch Madness starts in Saint Louis. There is even a scenario where if one of the two co-leaders loses in the semifinals of the conference tournament, and the other loses in the finals, that three teams could earn spots in the Field of 68.

Mountain West: How about four MWC teams in the Big Dance? San Diego St. is one of the hottest teams in the nation at the end of February. They’ve made a move like Whirlaway, swatting their long tail at the rest of the field as the Aztecs head to the finish line gaining distance from the place and show teams.

Boise St. and Colorado St. have tournament-worthy resumes, while Utah St. is now well back on the bad side of the Bubble. The Aggies need to win the conference tournament. Watch out for Steve Alford’s Nevada Wolfpack! Nevada has won four consecutive ga,es to move into fifth place.

Pac-12: What looked like a five-bid league has lessened to four bids and a prayer. USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Colorado have done enough to win bids. Stanford has lost five of nine games, including two in a row to teams they needed to beat. The Cardinal need to win at USC next Wednesday, or they may be forced to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get in.

Southeastern: Don’t count out Kentucky just yet! The Wildcats (7-7/8-13) look like the team they were supposed to be. UK cannot earn an at-large bid with just three regular season games remaining, but once they get to Nashville, The Music City turns into the Bluegrass City. Calipari’s Cats can win four games in four days.

Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Florida, and Tennessee are in the field. Missouri was in for sure, but losses in four of their last five has created a shadow of doubt. Ole Miss has moved a half-game ahead of Mizzou in the league. The Tigers must close with Florida and LSU, while Ole Miss gets two games against last place Vanderbilt and a home game with Kentucky.

If there is a dark horse possibility in the SEC, then Georgia and Mississippi St. can stake claims to it. If Ole Miss and Missouri falter at the finish, the two Bulldogs can get into contention by winning out headed to Nashville.

West Coast: Gonzaga has yet to face any real competition. The Bulldogs look like the 1991 UNLV team that ran the table to the Final Four without opposition. Then, the Runnin’ Rebels ran into a Duke team that had not forgotten the 30+-point loss dealt to them in 1990’s Championship. The Bulldogs look like a potential run-the-table team, more like John Wooden’s UCLA teams than the 1991 UNLV team. Outside of the WCC, Gonzaga easily dismissed Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa, and Virginia. Normally, this would have been enough to show the nation that the Zags were without a doubt the best team in the nation. Had Baylor not cancelled their scheduled game, Gonzaga might be sitting with the appropriate strength of schedule typical of a national champion in our Bracketnomics criteria.

BYU is the other team with an NCAA Tournament guarantee. The Cougars have been distant number two to Gonzaga, but at 9-3/18-5, BYU has a win at San Diego St.

February 24, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
DavidsonSt. Bonaventure-1.0
George MasonGeorge Washington6.5
Saint Joseph’sDayton-8.8
La SalleDuquesne-4.3
South FloridaTemple3.8
MemphisTulane11.7
TulsaCincinnati1.2
Wake ForestClemson-6.0
VirginiaNC St.8.7
Miami (Fla.)Florida St.-12.5
North CarolinaMarquette8.9
ButlerSeton Hall-6.7
CreightonDePaul13.6
ProvidenceXavier-0.8
Southern UtahNorthern Arizona11.8
LongwoodHampton8.8
RutgersIndiana3.1
Ball St.Kent St.-4.6
UNC CentralNorth Carolina A&T2.8
Norfolk StDelaware St.14.2
Air ForceNew Mexico0.1
UNLVFresno St.5.8
Boston UniversityHoly Cross5.4
Loyola (MD)American3.6
Mississippi St.South Carolina3.5
ArkansasAlabama-2.0
VanderbiltTennessee-6.8
FurmanThe Citadel12.8
MercerChattanooga2.5
UNCGWestern Carolina11.9
Northwestern St.Stephen F. Austin-7.4
SE LouisianaMcNeese4.2
Texas A&M-CCNew Orleans-0.4
NichollsHouston Baptist10.5
Incarnate WordLamar4.5
Abilene ChristianSam Houston St.8.1
SouthernAlabama A&M6.4
Alcorn St.Alabama St.5.7

February 22, 2021

PiRate Ratings Bracketology

Date2/22/2021
SeedTeamTeamTeamTeamTeamTeam
1GonzagaBaylorMichiganOhio St.
2IllinoisAlabamaVillanovaHouston
3IowaOklahomaWest VirginiaVirginia
4Florida St.KansasTexasTexas Tech
5TennesseeUSCCreightonPurdue
6WisconsinMissouriVirginia TechArkansas
7ClemsonOklahoma St.FloridaBYU
8RutgersColoradoLSUOregon
9UCLALoyola (Chi.)LouisvilleSan Diego St.
10Boise St.North CarolinaMarylandDrake
11Colorado St.IndianaSt. BonaventureSeton Hall
12Western Ky.BelmontVCUXavierGa. TechSyracuse
13UCSBWinthropToledoColgate
14UNCGStephen F. AustinLibertyWright St.
15South DakotaGrand CanyonIonaVermont
16E. WashingtonWagnerTexas St.James MadisonPrairie ViewN. C. A&T

February 20, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 12:00 am

Saturday, February 20, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
St. Joseph’sLa Salle-1.5
VCUGeorge Mason12.0
RichmondDuquesne7.4
Miami (Fla.)Georgia Tech-5.0
SyracuseNotre Dame2.2
Wake ForestNC St.-2.2
PittsburghFlorida St.-6.6
North CarolinaLouisville2.0
DukeVirginia0.3
TulaneCentral Florida-2.0
KansasTexas Tech2.0
TexasWest Virginia1.8
TCUKansas St.8.5
Iowa St.Oklahoma-11.1
VillanovaConnecticut6.0
GeorgetownSeton Hall-4.2
St. John’sDePaul8.4
IndianaMichigan St.6.3
MinnesotaIllinois-5.1
NebraskaPurdue-7.6
Fresno St.San Diego St.-13.9
Washington St.Stanford-2.9
USCArizona7.4
Oregon St.Colorado-8.0
OregonUtah6.7
WashingtonCalifornia0.6
UCLAArizona St.6.8
AlabamaVanderbilt17.1
TennesseeKentucky7.2
South CarolinaMissouri-1.8
FloridaGeorgia8.0
LSUAuburn4.8
Ole MissMississippi St.5.5
Loyola MarymountBYU-6.6
PortlandPacific-12.6
Santa ClaraPepperdine-1.1
GonzagaSan Diego32.2

February 19, 2021

PiRate Ratings Bracketology

2/19/2021

SeedTeamTeamTeamTeamTeamTeam
1GonzagaBaylorMichiganOhio St.
2IllinoisAlabamaVillanovaIowa
3OklahomaVirginiaWest VirginiaHouston
4Florida St.USCTexasTexas Tech
5KansasVirginia TechTennesseeCreighton
6PurdueWisconsinArkansasMissouri
7RutgersColoradoBYUOklahoma St.
8ClemsonFloridaLouisvilleLSU
9OregonUCLASan Diego St.Indiana
10Boise St.Loyola (Chi.)North CarolinaSeton Hall
11MinnesotaColorado St.DrakeVCU
12BelmontWestern Ky.StanfordSt. BonaventureConnecticutSaint Louis
13ToledoWinthropColgateUCSB
14Wright St.S.F. AustinLibertyUNCG
15VermontS. Dakota St.SienaGrand Canyon
16James MadisonE. WashingtonTexas St.WagnerPrairie ViewN.C. A&T

Last 4 Byes: Seton Hall, Minnesota, Colorado St., Drake

Last 4 In: Stanford, St. Bonaventure, Connecticut, Saint Louis

First 4 Out: Xavier, Maryland, Wichita St., St. John’s

Next 4 Out: Utah St., Ole Miss, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Note: After careful perusal of the mock top four seeds released a week ago, we have discovered some new tendencies that the Committee gave more weight to than they usually do when there is a lot more interconference play. Thus, expect our bracketology to change a little next week showing seeds in somewhat different order from what they are this week. For instance, we believe that a team like Colgate may be drastically underrated, while a team like 23-1 Belmont may be overrated a bit even after winning their 20th consecutive game last night.

February 18, 2021

The Sure Thing/The Contenders/The Still Alives

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:25 am

Who’s in the Big Dance? Who’s still in contention?

Today, we break down the projected NCAA Tournament field by conference.  The format will be teams that are locks to make the tournament; teams that would be safely in if the season ended today but a losing streak could jeopardize their safety; teams that would be on the good side of the bubble if the season ended today; teams that would be on the bad side of that bubble; and teams that are not in the conversation now but with a big winning streak could play their way into an at-large bid.

We won’t include the automatic bids, because the conference tournaments will do that for us.  Of course, this season, there could be some cancellations of these tournaments.  We’ll have to wait and see.

First, let’s look at the one-bid leagues.  As of today, we foresee 20 conferences receiving just one bid, but an upset in the conference tournament in one or two could lead to an extra bid from that league.

AMERICA EAST

The perpetual top contenders share the conference lead.  UMBC and Vermont are tied at 9-3 in conference play.  The two rivals face off in back-to-back games in Maryland tonight and tomorrow.  If one of these two teams earn the bid, they are probably looking at a #15 seed.

ATLANTIC SUN

Bellarmine has a one-game lead in the league race at 10-2, but the Knights are not yet eligible as a transitioning team to D1.  Liberty is in second place at 8-2, but this Flames team is not as strong as the last two editions.  The rest of the league is mediocre for a low-major conference.  Current sixth place Florida Gulf Coast is starting to put it together and could sneak up to the #2 seed by conference tournament time.

BIG SKY

This year’s race is as wide open as the real estate in the Near West.  Eastern Washington leads Southern Utah by 1 ½ games, but that is a Covid-scheduling issue, as SUU at 6-2 has played three fewer conference games.  The teams split back-to-back games at EWU a month ago.  This conference will hope to avoid a 16-seed play-in game.

BIG SOUTH

Winthrop has lapped the field.  The 15-1 Eagles lead second place Radford by 3 ½ games and most recently swept the Highlanders.  Winthrop is 18-1 overall and has a chance to earn an at-large bid should they not earn the automatic one.

BIG WEST

This has in recent years been the UC-Irvine show, as the Anteaters have dominated this league.  This year, UCI looks up at rival UCSB, as the 8-2 Gauchos have reeled off 10 consecutive victories.  Cal State Bakersfield is in a statistical tie with UC-Irvine for second place.  The Roadrunners venture to Santa Barbara to face UCSB twice this weekend.

COLONIAL

James Madison has risen from fourth place to first at 8-1, while the top contenders have all lost in recent games.  Fifth place Delaware and sixth place William & Mary are the other two conference teams with hot hands, but when the CAA holds its conference tournament, any of the top six could win the event.

CONFERENCE USA

With wins over Memphis and Alabama, one might think that Western Kentucky could earn an at-large bid if they could take the regular season CUSA title.  It is possible, but the 8-2 Hilltoppers may find it tough to get a lot of support this year with so few quality out of conference games.

WKU faces a tough doubleheader this weekend with 8-2 North Texas in Denton.  If either team sweeps, they become the sizable favorite to cop the league crown.  If they split, then Old Dominion, UAB, and Marshall all remain in contention to win the race in the final lap.

HORIZON LEAGUE

Wright St. and Cleveland St. are tied at 15-3 in the league and own four game leads over the next contender, Northern Kentucky.  Wright State has won nine games in a row since losing to CSU.  One of the top three should take the tournament title and the automatic bid.

METRO ATLANTIC

Covid has done a number on this league this year.  Monmouth has played 14 conference games and is 10-4.  Siena has played 10 conference games and is 8-2 to lead by percentage points over the Hawks.  Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels have played just seven conference games and they have lost two in a row to fall back to fifth place at 4-3.  Iona gets both of the two co-leaders in doubleheader games on their home floor in New Rochelle, including two with Monmouth this weekend, weather permitting.

MID-AMERICAN

Year in and year out, the MAC postseason tournament in Cleveland is one of the most exciting and unpredictable as any other.  We expect the same results this year.  Toledo has been leading the league race most of the season, and the Rockets are in first at 12-3, but 11-3 Akron and 10-4 Kent St. are coming on strong in February.  It doesn’t end there.  Ohio U and Buffalo, both at 7-4, and Bowling Green at 8-7 have played well enough in recent weeks to contend for the automatic bid.  If the MAC Tournament plays as scheduled, this is one that you will want to watch.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC

With three league teams opting out, scheduling has been an issue this year in the MEAC.  Usually, this league struggles to avoid the #16-seed play-in game, but more than once, the MEAC has produced an upset winner in the Round of 64.  North Carolina A&T leads the South Division with a perfect 4-0 conference record, but the Aggies have only played two conference games since January 3.  They had five games postponed.  

In the north, Norfolk St. 7-4, leads Morgan St. and Coppin St., both 6-4, by a half game.  NSU swept Morgan and split with Coppin, but their remaining regular season games have been cancelled.  If the MEAC Tournament is cancelled, N.C. A&T will almost assuredly be awarded the automatic bid and express trip to a 16-seed play-in game.

NORTHEAST

Merrimack sits in a first place tie with Wagner at 8-4, but the Warriors are still in the transition phase to D1 and not yet eligible for the Dance.  Wagner leads 6-4 Bryant by a game.  The Seahawks have won seven games in a row.  There are seven teams within two games of first in the NEC, so this should be an interesting conference tournament.

OHIO VALLEY

Belmont is 16-0 in the league and 22-1 overall, but the Bruins did not play any power conference teams like they usually do.  Still, because Belmont has been winning games by lopsided scores, they have a shot at an at-large bid should somebody shock them in the OVC Tournament.  Second place Morehead St., 13-3, lost at Belmont by 15, but they get the Bruins to close out the regular season in Morehead.

PATRIOT LEAGUE

The league was split into thirds this year to lessen travel.  Army and Navy are the only two teams to play out of conference games, so it will be close to impossible for the automatic winner to receive anything other than a 16-seed.  Navy is 8-1 in the league and 11-2 overall.  Their out of conference wins include a sweep of the DC teams, George Washington and Georgetown.  Should the Midshipmen run the table, they could move up to a 15-seed.

Colgate at 9-1 is the overall leader in the league, while Lafayette at 7-5 leads the three-team Central Division.  Bucknell has won four in a row to improve from 0-4 to 4-4, but all four games came at the expense of Lehigh.

SOUTHERN

The Socon has been worthy of multiple bids in past years, and there are four rather good teams this year, but this is not the year for two league teams to get bids.

UNC-Greensboro has been near the top for the last five years, but the Spartans have won the SoCon Tournament just once.  UNCG leads the league at 10-4 by a half-game over 10-5 Wofford.  Two years ago, Wofford destroyed Seton Hall in the opening round and scared Kentucky in the Round of 32 at the Big Dance.

Furman (8-4) and Chattanooga (9-5) have begun to play like legitimate contenders in the last two weeks.

SOUTHLAND

Five teams have taken over in February, and any of the five could win the conference tournament.  Even though Stephen F. Austin is in third place at the moment, their conference record is 9-1, and their one loss came at 10-1 Abilene Christian.  Sam Houston is also 10-1, and their lone loss came at SFA.  Nicholls is 9-2, which would lead most leagues, but in this one, it’s only good enough for fourth place.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC

The SWAC rates last in conference power, so the winner of this league will be in the 16-seed play-in round.  Prairie View and Jackson St. sport 6-0 league marks, with Texas Southern at 4-2.  The two co-leaders had both of their scheduled games against each other postponed, and they could both remain undefeated in conference play.

SUMMIT

It’s a good bet that the team representing the Summit League in the Big Dance will have the word “Dakota” in its name.  South Dakota St. (6-2), South Dakota (9-3), and North Dakota St. (9-3) are the top three in the league.  SDSU has a neutral site win over Utah St. and a narrow loss to West Virginia, so the Jackrabbits probably give this league its best chance to win a game in the Big Dance.

SUN BELT

This league has a lot of better than average but not great teams.  Texas St. leads the West Division at 9-3 with 7-5 Arkansas St. in second.  Both teams have four game winning streaks.  South Alabama leads the East Division at 8-5, and the Jags have reeled off six in a row.

WESTERN ATHLETIC

New Mexico St. has dominated this conference in recent years, but Covid has really done a number on the Aggies this year, and they have fallen to sixth place.  Perennial also-ran Grand Canyon has ascended to the top at 6-0 in the league and 12-3 overall.  The Antelopes own an eight-game winning streak with a 22.8 point scoring margin in that streak.

Multiple Bid Leagues

AMERICAN ATHLETIC

Lock: Houston 11-2/17-2

Safe: —–

Good Bubble: —–

Bad Bubble: Wichita St. 8-2/12-4

In Contention: Memphis 8-3/12-6, SMU 7-4/11-4

Wichita St. could move to the Good Bubble with a win over Houston tonight.

ATLANTIC 10

Lock: —–

Safe: —–

Good Bubble:  VCU 9-2/16-4

Bad Bubble: St. Bonaventure 8-3/10-3, Saint Louis 4-2/11-3

In Contention: Davidson 6-2/10-5, Richmond 4-3/11-5

Wins over St. Bonaventure and Richmond have moved VCU into the field for now.

ATLANTIC COAST

Lock: Virginia 11-2/15-4, Florida St. 8-2/12-3

Safe: Virginia Tech 8-3/14-4, Louisville 6-3/11-4

Good Bubble: North Carolina 7-5/13-7, Clemson 7-5/13-5

Bad Bubble: Syracuse 6-5/12-6

In Contention: Duke 7-6/9-8, Georgia Tech 6-6/10-8

Duke was given up for dead in January, but the Blue Devils are far from dead.  Look out UVA!  You’re headed to an ambush as Cameron Indoor this weekend.

BIG 12

Lock: Baylor 9-0/17-0

Safe: Kansas 10-5/16-7, Oklahoma 8-4/13-5, Texas 7-4/13-5, West Virginia 7-4/14-6, Texas Tech 6-5/14-6, Oklahoma St. 7-6/14-6

Good Bubble: —–

Bad Bubble: —–

In Contention: TCU 4-6/11-8

This league is pretty much set in stone barring some unusual circumstance.  The top seven teams should receive bids, and even 7th place Oklahoma St. should be an 8 or 9-seed and safely in the field.

BIG EAST

Lock: Villanova 8-2/13-3, Creighton 12-4/16-5

Safe: —–

Good Bubble: Xavier 4-4/11-4, Seton Hall 10-5/13-8

Bad Bubble: Connecticut 7-5/10-5

In Contention: St. John’s 8-7/14-8

Madison Square Garden should be exciting if the Big East gets to hold their tournament this year.  St. John’s really needs three additional good wins in addition to not losing to a bad team.

BIG TEN

Lock: Michigan 9-1/14-1, Illinois 11-3/13-5, Ohio St. 11-4/17-4, Iowa 9-5/15-6

Safe: Wisconsin 9-6/15-7, Purdue 9-6/14-8

Good Bubble: Rutgers 8-7/12-7, Indiana 7-7/12-9

In Contention: Maryland 7-9/13-10, Minnesota 6-9/13-9, Michigan St. 4-9/10-9

Any Big Ten team that plays .500 ball in conference play will receive a bid this year, and we believe there is one more bid for the team that goes 9-11 (or 9-10 or 8-9 depending on missed games).  A couple of Big Ten coaches are on hot seats and on the Bubble.  Penn State will definitely have a new coach next year, but Indiana, Maryland, and Minnesota could also be forced to make moves if they don’t get into the field.

MISSOURI VALLEY

Lock: —–

Safe: Loyola (Chi.) 14-2/19-4

Good Bubble: Drake 12-2/21-2

Bad Bubble: —–

In Contention: —–

After Wichita St. fled the Valley for the AAC, it was thought that the days of this league receiving two bids to the tournament were over.  Guess again.  Loyola of Chicago and Drake would both have to collapse to miss out on the Dance this year.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Lock: —–

Safe: San Diego St. 9-3/15-4

Good Bubble: Boise St. 13-3/17-4, Colorado St. 11-3/14-4, Utah St. 11-3/14-6

In Contention: Nevada  9-5/14-7

A win over UCLA makes SDSU safer than the other four contenders.  Boise St. finishes with Utah St. and two games against San Diego St.  A 3-0 finish would propel the Broncos into the Safe category.

PAC-12

Lock: USC 12-2/18-3

Safe: UCLA 10-3/14-5, Oregon 7-3/12-4

Good Bubble: —–

Bad Bubble: Colorado 10-5/16-6, Stanford 9-6/13-8

In Contention: Utah 6-7/9-8, Oregon St. 6-8/10-10

The former Conference of Champions has not earned one since Arizona cut the nets in 1997!  Only UCLA twice and Oregon once have made the Final Four since then (Utah made it before they joined the league).

SOUTHEASTERN

Lock: Alabama 12-1/17-5, Arkansas 9-4/17-5

Safe: Tennessee 8-5/15-5, LSU 8-4/13-6, Florida 6-5/10-6

Good Bubble: Missouri 6-6/13-6

Bad Bubble: Ole Miss 7-6/12-8

In Contention: Georgia 6-8/13-8

You don’t see Kentucky on this list.  They are out of contention for an at-large bid, but that doesn’t mean the Wildcats cannot win the conference tournament.  The two hot teams in this league are Arkansas and Ole Miss.  The Razorbacks probably have the best chance to make it past the Sweet 16 from this league.  Ole Miss needs a few more big wins to get into the field.

WEST COAST

Lock: Gonzaga 11-0/20-0

Safe: —–

Good Bubble: BYU 6-3/15-5

Bad Bubble: —–

In Contention: Saint Mary’s 2-4/11-6

We placed SMC in the “In Contention” section, because in theory, they could finish 6-4/15-6 in the regular season, which would include an upset of Gonzaga.  Short of that, the Gaels will be staying home this year.

Coming tomorrow–Updated ratings, updated bracketology, and our annual mid-major coaches ready for the big time list in three separate posts.

Coming soon–The PiRate Ratings have created a tabletop baseball strategy game more advanced than anything on the market.  It’s called “Sabertooth Baseball,” and look for more information about this next week!

February 17, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

February 17, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
RichmondVCU-0.1
Central FloridaSouth Florida2.2
PittsburghNC St.2.3
LouisvileSyracuse2.7
North CarolinaNortheastern13.5
Wake ForestDuke-6.8
Kansas St.Kansas-15.4
ButlerMarquette-0.6
Seton HallDePaul10.2
MarylandNebraska8.9
IndianaMinnesota1.9
Loyola (Chi.)Valparaiso20.7
New MexicoWyoming-2.7
Boise St.Utah St.0.1
USCArizona St.10.7
VanderbiltKentucky-3.8
TennesseeSouth Carolina8.6

February 15, 2021

PiRate Ratings Bracketology

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:36 pm

2/15/2021

SeedTeamTeamTeamTeamTeamTeam
1GonzagaBaylorMichiganOhio St.
2IllinoisHoustonAlabamaVillanova
3VirginiaOklahomaIowaWest Virginia
4TennesseeTexas TechTexasFlorida St.
5USCKansasMissouriVirginia Tech
6WisconsinCreightonRutgersClemson
7FloridaOklahoma St.PurdueArkansas
8ColoradoUCLALouisvilleXavier
9MinnesotaBYUSan Diego St.LSU
10Loyola (Chi.)North CarolinaBoise St.Oregon
11Seton HallDrakeSt. BonaventureUtah St.
12BelmontWinthropColorado St.IndianaStanfordConnecticut
13ToledoWestern Ky.UCSBWright St.
14LibertyUNCGS.F. AustinColgate
15VermontSienaTexas St.Grand Canyon
16James MadisonS. Dakota St.E. WashingtonPrairie ViewMt. St. Mary’sN. C. A&T

First 8 Teams Out

69VCU
70Saint Louis
71Richmond
72SMU
73Maryland
74Wichita St.
75Georgia Tech
76Pittsburgh
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