The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 28, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–February 28, 2018

Conference Tournament Results From Last Night

Big South Conference Tournament
First Round–February 27
Longwood   68 High Point   55
Charleston Southern   68 Presbyterian   51

Big South Bracket Update

Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #2 Radford #10 Longwood ESPN3
3:30 PM #3 Winthrop #6 Gardner-Webb ESPN3
7:00 PM #1 UNC-Asheville #8 Charleston Southern ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 Campbell #5 Liberty ESPN3
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM Radford or Longwood Winthrop/G-Webb ESPN3
8:30 PM UNCA/Chas. Southern Campbell or Liberty ESPN3
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN


Patriot League Tournament
First Round–February 27
Lafayette   93 American   86
Loyola (MD)   82 Army   79

Patriot League Bracket Update

Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Bucknell #8 Loyola (MD) Stadium
7:00 PM #4 Lehigh #5 Boston U Stadium
7:00 PM #2 Colgate #7 Lafayette Stadium
7:00 PM #3 Navy #6 Holy Cross Stadium
Semifinals–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
12/2 Bucknell or Loyola Lehigh or Boston U CBSSN
12/2 Colgate or Lafayette Navy or Holy Cross CBSSN
Championship–March 7
Time Home Visitors TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

Conference Tournaments in Action Today

Big Ten Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #12 Iowa #13 Illinois Big Ten
7:45 PM #11 Minnesota #14 Rutgers Big Ten
Second Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 Maryland #9 Wisconsin Big Ten
2:15 PM #5 Michigan Iowa or Illinois Big Ten
6:30 PM #7 Penn St. #10 Northwestern Big Ten
8:45 PM #6 Indiana Minn. or Rutgers Big Ten
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 Michigan St. Mary or Wisc Big Ten
2:15 PM #4 Nebraska Mich/Iowa/Ill Big Ten
6:30 PM #2 Ohio St. PSU or N’Western Big Ten
8:45 PM #3 Purdue Ind/Minn/Rutg Big Ten
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM MSU/Mary/Wisc Neb/Mich/Iowa/Ill CBS
4:30 PM OSU/Purd/NW Purd/Ind/Minn/Rutg CBS
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:30 PM     CBS

The Big Ten Tournament was moved up a week so that it could be held at Madison Square Garden in New York.  The Big East has dibs on next week.  You won’t find one Big Ten coach happy with this decision, and Commissioner Jim Delany has stated that the Big Ten will not squeeze its schedule again to hold its tournament a week earlier than normal.

Two of the four coaches participating tonight have been reported to be on hot seats with their schools, but we tend to believe they will both be back next year despite poor seasons this year.  Minnesota’s Richard Pitino has had to deal with a suspension of his top player and injuries to multiple contributing players, so that the Gophers have not been able to practice 5 on 5 during conference tournament action. UM lost nine games in a row before winning on senior night over Iowa, and the Gophers enter tournament play below .500 at 15-16 after being ranked as high as 12th in the AP poll in November.

Speaking of Iowa, some media outlets report that Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffery is on the hot seat and could lose his job once Iowa has been eliminated from this tournament.  McCaffery received a lucrative extension last year, and we do not think the university would ante up such a large buyout.

As for this tournament, two teams are desperate to win multiple games to get into the NCAA Tournament.  Nebraska (13-5/22-9) is not even on the list of first 6 teams out.  The Cornhuskers must get to the Semifinals of this tournament just to get into the conversation, and they probably need to make it to the Championship Game to have any chance to make the field.

Penn State (9-9/19-12) has no chance other than to win the tournament.  In some years, a .500 record in the Big Ten would have been enough to get a team in the field, but with the new quadrant system in place and the fact that conference won-loss records no longer factor into the selection process, the Nittany Lions have no chance other than to win the automatic bid.

Michigan State has won 12 games in a row and looks like the clear favorite, but the top seed has not been all that successful in this tournament.  With the schedule bunched together, the four teams with double byes (MSU, Ohio St., Purdue, and Nebraska) have huge advantages.  A Nebraska-Michigan State semifinal game would be can’t miss for sure, with the Spartans vying for a #1 seed, and the Cornhuskers faced with a must-win to get in dilemma.  Michigan is the defending tournament champions.  The Wolverines won from back in the pack last year.

Northeast Conference Tournament
All Games at Higher Seed
Top 8 Teams Qualify and Tournament Re-seeds after Quarterfinals
All Times EST
Quarterfinals–February 28
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM #1 Wagner #8 Central Connecticut NEC *
7:00 PM #2 Mount St. Mary’s #7 Robert Morris NEC *
7:00 PM #3 St. Francis (PA) #6 Fairleigh-Dickinson NEC *
7:00 PM #4 Long Island #5 St. Francis (Bkn) NEC *
* NEC Front Row at
Semifinals–March 3
Time Home Team Visitors TV
12:00 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
2:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM Higher Seed Lower Seed ESPN2

This tournament is a toss-up with seven teams capable of winning it all.  The fact that the higher seeds host the games, and the tournament re-seeds after the quarterfinals really helps the top two seeds, but the next five teams are strong enough to win on the road.

Third-seeded St. Francis (Pa.) enters the tournament riding a five-game winning streak, but the Red Flash were wiped off the floor by top-seed Wagner twice this year.  Fourth-seed Long Island and Sixth-seed Fairleigh Dickinson match up quite well with Wagner and both beat the Seahawks on their home floors, while losing close games at Wagner.


Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Evansville, IN
Top 8 Teams Qualify, Southeast Missouri ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #5 Tennessee Tech #8 SIU-Edwardsville OVC
9:00 PM #6 Tennessee St. #7 Eastern Illinois OVC
OVC Network at
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 Jacksonville St. Tenn Tech or SIU-E OVC
9:00 PM #3 Austin Peay TSU or EIU OVC
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 Murray St. JSU/TTU/SIU-E ESPNU
9:30 PM #2 Belmont APSU/TSU/EIU ESPNU
Championship–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The OVC Tournament moves away from Nashville this year to Evansville, and with it goes Belmont’s home town advantage (the tournament was played downtown at the old Municpal Auditorium and not on Belmont’s campus).

The move up the road 125 miles should help top-seed Murray State, and in this league the top two seeds receive staggering advantages, getting byes to the semifinal round.

We’d be surprised if Belmont and Murray didn’t meet in the championship, but Austin Peay and Jacksonville State will have a lot to say about that.  We do not see any of the other four teams having much chance to make it all the way to the championship.  The OVC will be the first team to place a team into the field of 68.








October 26, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 26-28, 2017

Oh brother!  I leave my ladies in charge of the website for a few days, and when I return from a nice long weekend, they have rearranged all the e-furniture.  Worse, they exchanged the Money Line picks I had left with their own, and they actually enjoyed a winning week.  They issued four selections (totally different than what I had left to be published), and they won two of the four for a return on investment of 28%.

Believe me, I have not heard the end of this.  Mrs. Captain, of course, sided with her gender, and so this week, I must defer to the ladies to pick the parlays yet again.  All I have done is to organize their picks into the best possible parlay odds by sourcing the best odds from the available books.  What you have as a result are four more parlays, each returning greater than +120 odds (actually this week better than +150) while playing no more than three games per parlay.

Because the ladies selected to teams to win outright as underdogs, and to minimize risk, I have combined these two underdogs in one parlay that, if it wins, it would return an incredible payoff at +375 (a $100 investment would return $475).

One preface to this before you look at the parlays.  Two of the ladies here bleed scarlet and gray and believe that the Giant Horseshoe is a basilica, tabernacle, shrine, and temple.  They believe that script Ohio is akin to the holy scriptures.  Their key pick this week is Ohio State over Penn State, and to add to their partiality, they refer to the opponent at State Pen, and they believe James Franklin was set on Earth by Lucifer.

Personally, I see the Buckeyes ready to get their revenge, but I know Coach Franklin and have seen him work miracles at Vanderbilt.  If he could win at Georgia and Florida as a bigger underdog than his Nittany Lions will be tomorrow, then he can certainly channel his inner Tom Lasorda and get his team ready to run through the walls at said horseshoe.  I would not have selected this game as part of a parlay, but then I have ceded control of this submission to the lasses.

#1 @ +152  
Must Win Must Lose
Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Appalachian St. Marshall
Georgia Florida
#2 @ +162  
Must Win Must Lose
South Carolina Vanderbilt
Notre Dame NC State
Texas Baylor
#3 @ +152  
Must Win Must Lose
SMU Tulsa
Iowa Minnesota
Ohio St. Penn St.
#4 @ +375  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Michigan St.
Wyoming New Mexico

Money Line Parlay Tutorial for newcomers to this site

If you are new to Money Lines and Parlays, hopefully this will explain it well enough for you to understand what is going on above.

When two sports teams play, the more familiar way to provide options for wagering is a pointspread.  For instance, say that Notre Dame is playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Alabama might be favored to win by 6 1/2 points.  In order for Alabama to win the game for those that bet on the Crimson Tide, they would have to win by 7 or more points.  If Notre Dame won or lost by 6 points or less, then those that wagered on Notre Dame would win their bets.

There is another way to bet on this game.  It is called the “Money Line.”  Pointspreads are not used.  Instead, you simply pick either Alabama or Notre Dame to win the game.  If you can bet on Alabama to win this game, even by one point, it sounds too good to be true.  Yes, there is a catch here.  In order to bet on Alabama, you must put up more money than the sports book, but if you bet on the underdog Irish to win the game, the book puts up more money than you.  This is why the wager is called a “money line.”

When you look at money line odds, the favorite will have a minus number, and the underdog will have a plus number, although there are times when a tossup game will have two minus numbers.  The reason for this is that the sports books must get their cut or vigorish.

Let’s look at a couple games to be played tonight.  Northern Illinois hosts Eastern Michigan, and NIU is a modest favorite.  The Money Line is available at about 15 sports books where one could make a wager in one’s home via the Internet.  The line may vary from site to sire, so it is best to shop around to find the best odds.

For our purposes in this tutorial, we will use one famous online sports book, Five Dimes.  At the present time, the Money Line odds at 5D for the NIU-EMU game is listed at:   Northern Illinois -275, Eastern Michigan +235.

If you want to wager on NIU, you must put up $275 for every $100 5 Dimes puts up.  If you wager $100 on NIU to win, you will $36.36 profit and receive back $136.36 if NIU wins, and you will be out $100 if they lose.  If you wager $100 on EMU to win, you will receive $275 profit and receive back $375 if EMU wins, and you will be out $100 if they lose.

When you combine two or more games into one money line wager, your odds improve, but your chances of winning all the games in the one wager go down.  Let’s say you want to combine three favorites into one betting wager.  Let’s say you are going to play a parlay that includes Favorite #1 at -250, Favorite #2 at -225, and Favorite #3 at -180.

How do yo determine what the odds would be on this parlay of three favorites, all of whom would have to win their games for you to win your wager?  I won’t bore you with the mathematical formula.  There is an easy way to figure the odds, and it is called a parlay calculator.  You don’t have to buy this from a Las Vegas book store.  They are available for free in many places online.  In our opinion, the parlay calculator at is the easiest one to use.  You can find this calculator at:

First, we select $100 for the bet amount (you can put any other amount in this spot, but all of the PiRate Rating parlays are played at $100 per wager.  We simply input -250, -225-, and -180 adjacent to Team #1 Money Line, Team #2 Money Line, and Team #3 Money Line.  Then we click on “Calculate”, and we see the number $214.57 returned.  This means that if these three favorites we have selected all win their games, we will make a $214.57 profit and receive $314.57 in our account (The profit plus what we wagered).  If the three teams do not all win their games, we will be out the $100 we invested on this game.  It can be a headache to see two teams win their games, and then your final favored team loses in an upset due to a fourth quarter field goal, but it happens, and you have to live with it.

Our goal at the PiRate Ratings is to select parlays that return better than +120 odds, while betting mostly on favored teams.  We prefer to play no more than three games in a parlay, but there are times when we might play 6 or 7 prohibitive favorites when the odds look preferable.  We won a 7-team parlay once that returned +200 odds, and all 7 teams won by double-digits.  Of course, this is a rare event.  Every week, some big underdog will upset a favorite.  In recent weeks, we had some considerable underdogs pulling off big upsets.  Syracuse surprised Clemson.  Arizona State beat up on Washington, Arizona took out Washington State, Tulsa whipped Houston, Iowa State beat Oklahoma, and Troy beat LSU.  These sure things that could have been included on parlays destroyed the selections.

As usual, read this and understand it: The PiRates never wager real currency on our selections.  We enjoy the fun that mathematics married to athletics brings a group of math geeks.  We only wager imaginary money on these games, and thus we have no worries about issuing these picks.  They are strictly for the fun of it, and enjoying a winning week is a win for mathematics and not our bank accounts.

Enjoy the games, but be just as wealthy on Sunday morning as you are on Saturday morning.


September 28, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for September 28-October 2, 2017

After four weeks of the football season, our readers might just want to take a knee; then again, they might want to place that knee firmly in some PiRate groin!  Ouch!  1,000 apologies if you took our ill-adivsed advice!

Another losing week, and we are now in the hole to the tune of -25% return on our investment for the season.  We won only one of last week’s four selections, returning $245 on $400 invested.  The -25% return for the season comes from $899 returned on $1,200 invested, quite a hole to try to emerge from before the season runs out of dates.

Our one solace, and we hope this is yours as well, is that these are imaginary dollars.  We can continue to select a liberal amount of games and be a bit wild with our selections, because we are only out the time it takes to pick these games.

This week, you will notice that all of our selections are college football games.  There are no NFL picks.  Make of this what you want, and you will be partially correct.  For one, we just didn’t feel like looking at the NFL Money Lines.  None of us will attend any games this week, and as far as we know, none of us will be watching on TV or listening on the radio.  Another reason why we didn’t select any NFL games is that the league is extremely erratic this year.  The supposed sure-thing 0-16 Jets won big over a playoff contender, and the Texans with a rookie QB almost beat New England, so let’s just walk away from the NFL for now.  The politics can only make the outcomes more unpredictable.

That leaves us with college football, and there are a lot of good games this week.  By good, we mean games in which the favorite is in the 5 to 10 point range, which presents us excellent Money Line potentials.  We actually like one underdog winning outright on the road, and we are going to put that one out as a single entry.

Here are our 5 parlay selections for this week.  Remember this: The members of the PiRate Ratings are not foolish enough to wager real currency on these selections.  We are nervous enough with our value stock selections, which are real, so we don’t need the added stress.  You to should avoid the stress of worrying about losing $500 real dollars on these selections, so only wager imaginary money if you must.

#1 @ +155  
Must Win Must Lose
Georgia Tech North Carolina
Georgia Tennessee
Nebraska Illinois
#2 @ +150  
Must Win Must Lose
Iowa Michigan St.
#3 @ +146  
Must Win Must Lose
Central Florida Memphis
Cincinnati Marshall
#4 @ +128  
Must Win Must Lose
Kentucky Eastern Mich.
Western Mich. Ball St.
La. Tech South Alabama
Boston College Central Mich.
#5 @ +135  
Must Win Must Lose
UNLV San Jose St.
Florida Intl. Charlotte
San Diego St. N. Illinois
Florida Vanderbilt





September 28, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 29-October 3, 2016

First Big Payday (even if it wasn’t real)

After failing miserably in the opening two weeks, and then failing minimally in week three, the PiRates reaped quite an imaginary booty of riches last week when our money line parlays returned 75% on investment. Thanks to winning big on the NFL Parlay of Indianapolis, Oakland, and Dallas, and to the nice college parlay of Arizona State, Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Memphis, our imaginary $400 wagered returned us $699 for a profit of $299 and ROI of 75%.
For the season, we are still in the hole to the tune of $193 on $1,600 wagered and an ROI of -12%. Let’s hope that like last year, once we began to win, we won consistently every week. On the other hand, one winning week out of four, even if it was big, is not enough to convince us that we are on to something again this year.

In fact, this week’s games do not excite us very much. We had to peruse the odds carefully multiple times just to come up with three parlays. At least, these parlays go off at such odds that winning just one of any of these three would make our week profitable. The glass half-empty types, which represents 95% of the players, might say that the odds on these three games are so stacked against us that there is no way any of them could win. Since our wagers are imaginary, we can see that our glass is half-full with liquids about to be poured to fill it up. In other words, we don’t feel any stress going with these three parlays this week.

1. College Parlay at +218
Ohio U over Miami of Ohio
Louisiana-Lafayette over New Mexico State
Iowa over Northwestern

You may notice that a high percentage of our college plays is made in games involving teams outside the Power Five. It is our opinion that the odds can be off more in these Group of Five games than in games where the nations’ sports eyes are more focused. Whereas games like Michigan and Wisconsin are perused carefully by the betting public, games from the MAC or Sun Belt don’t see the same amount of action, and thus we feel like the odds are a little bit off. UL-Lafayette is properly favored over New Mexico State, but we think they should be favored by more than what the line says. We feel the same way about Ohio over Miami. The Iowa-Northwestern line is about where we feel it should be, but in this case, we think the Hawkeyes have a strong chance of winning and completing the triplet parlay for a $318 return on $100 invested.

2. College Parlay at +273
Tennessee over Georgia
Akron over Kent St.
Old Dominion over Charlotte
Florida over Vanderbilt

This parlay presents us with three separate psychologies, as well as the belief that the favorites are just plain better than the underdogs and should win without any added psychologies. The public expects Tennessee to venture between the hedges and come out flat, while Georgia rebounds in a big way after losing to Ole Miss by more than 30. We feel that Georgia is just much weaker than normal this year, and the loss in Oxford was not an anamoly. The talent in Athens is just not what it normally has been in typical years. Thus, we believe that the Volunteers will win by up to two touchdowns in this game.

The Akron and Old Dominion games are further examples of Group of Five game odds being off. We believe the two favorites should be more heavily favored and choose to take advantage of the odds being favored in our direction for higher potential payouts.

The Florida-Vanderbilt game is the polar opposite of the Tennessee-Georgia game in one way, and the exact same thing in the other way. Florida had the Tennessee game secured by halftime and then saw an orange tornado vanquish their Gator bite in the second half. They can ill afford to lose two games in a row in the Volunteer State. Vanderbilt won a hard-fought overtime game at Western Kentucky last week after the Hilltoppers squandered opportunities to put the game away.

Last year, a shanked punt allowed Florida to kick a field goal and win a sloppy game 9-7 in the Swamp. The public is looking at this game and believes this one could be similar with a possible upset. However, this Vanderbilt team lacks the defense that last year’s team had. In fact, it is one of the weakest among the Power Five teams, and Florida should play four quarters similar to how they played the first two in Knoxville last week.

3. NFL Parlay at +331
Cincinnati over Miami
Houston over Tennessee
Baltimore over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Kansas City

The Dolphins had to go to overtime to beat a lowly Browns’ team using a third string quarterback. Now, they must face Cincinnati on Thursday night on national television after the Bengals dropped back-to-back games against two tough teams. Cinti should win by 10 or more.

Houston can take a commanding lead in the AFC South this week by winning this game and hoping Jacksonville can dispense of Indianapolis. The Texans had an extra three days to prepare for a team they have owned in recent years. Tennessee has a potentially potent offense hiding behind an ineffective smashmouth offense. When Marcus Mariota is forced into a quick score situation, he guides the Titans like he did at Oregon. But, the Titans refuse to use this gameplan until all hope is lost or close to lost. Expect Houston to shoot out to a double-digit lead, and then when the Titans have to play catch-up, they will make the game closer but not close enough.

Baltimore looks to begin the season at 4-0 as they host Oakland. The Raiders are having to make a 2,000-mile trip for the second week in a row, and the Raiders may show signs of fatigue after having to play last week in the oppressive heat with temperatures in the 90’s. We believe the Raiders will be just a tad slow to react on defense and not quite as explosive on offense, leading to a Ravens’ win.

The Steelers are in the same boat as the Texans this week. Following an embarrassing loss in which they were manhandled by Philly, look for Pittsburgh to bounce back with their best performance of the season.

September 8, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 8-12, 2016

Did you heed our biggest piece of advice given here last week? If so, then you were smart and lost none of your hard-earned money by following our selections. Our two picks both lost in the opening week. Army did not upset Temple. The Black Knights won impressively enough to prove that their win was no fluke. It wasn’t Davis and Blanchard running over opponents, but this has the look of a bowl-bound team. The Cadets entertain Rice at Michie Stadium this week, and chances for a 2-0 start are strong.

The other loss came about when LSU got Lambeau Leapt by Wisconsin. One late fumble sent our mythological winning week down the tubes.

We start out the season down 200 imaginary dollars in our fake bankroll.

Oh well, a new week brings new fun only picks, and with the NFL season beginning in a matter of hours from the time this is written, we have more opportunities to wager our fake bankroll. These days, a fake bankroll is what so many of us tend to have.

We are going with five parlay picks this week, two with college games, and three with NFL games. Usually, we like to be overly conservative at the start of the NFL season, because there is enough parity that a 4-12 team from the year before could become a playoff team this year, while a playoff team last year could swoon to 4-12 this year. However, we are going with three NFL parlays because we were able to get better than even money odds by parlaying just two teams in each selection.

Our two college parlays both contain rivalry games within each selection. It is not the norm for rivals to play so soon in the season, but it happens when said rivals are not members of the same conference. Thus, in week two, New Mexico plays New Mexico State, and Iowa plays Iowa State. We believe these are almost free games, as the favorites are overwhelmingly superior to their rival. Of course, this can bite us on the fanny, because weaker rivals can play well over their heads, especially early in the year before injury and other attrition has decimated their already thin-talented rosters.

There is also an issue with taking a slow-starting team against a quick-starting team, because sometimes, the quick-starting underdog might score so many points early that the slow-starting favorite cannot come back from the deficit. However, we are still going with two slow-starting Sunshine State schools. South Florida, and their smashmouth style of play, hosts Northern Illinois, and the Bulls were a bit sluggish on the defensive side in their season opening win over FCS member Towson State. However, NIU lost at Wyoming last week, and USF is considerably more talented than the Cowboys. Also, playing in muggy Tampa might give the Bulls an extra couple points of home field advantage.

Florida has not been the offensive juggernaut under Coach Jim McElwain that they were under Steve Spurrier or Urban Meyer, but the Gators won the SEC East Division by taking care of business with strong defense. The Gators gave up just 73 points in their seven SEC wins last year. Meanwhile, Kentucky scored 35 points quickly against Southern Miss last week, before watching like a deer in the headlights as the Eagles stormed back and scored on the porous Wildcat defense like it was just a skeleton unit. We believe the Gators will win this game by 7-17 points, as McElwain knows that he only needs his offense to play it safe and avoid turnovers, while the defense and special teams sets up the offense for low-risk scoring drives.

Now to the NFL. We begin tonight by taking the Super Bowl loser from last year. You no doubt are familiar with the recent trend of Super Bowl losers performing considerably worse the following year. However, this on the surface looks like a gift tonight. Both teams lost some key talent since the last time they played, but Denver clearly lost more. Even though Peyton Manning was like Babe Ruth with the Boston Braves in 1935, the Broncos will have a totally untested quarterback and rookie backup trying to face the NFC’s best defense. Peyton might have guided Denver to 17 points. Trevor and/or Paxton will be lucky to score 17 and might give the Panthers a score with costly mistakes. Also, we have seen Wade Phillips’ defenses regress the year after they dominate, and we feel that Cam Newton is going to play this game like it is the Super Bowl again. We believe Carolina wins an ugly game tonight.

Miami could be a surprise team this year, but they still have a lot to prove. New Coach Adam Gase is already considered to be the top new coach in the league, and he has been tagged as a potential superstar in the business. However, even superstar coaches must have decent talent to succeed, and the Dolphins still have a lot of questions. Having to travel as far away as they can without playing at a neutral site, and having that game come against the team with the best home field advantage in the NFL makes us believe that Seattle is a gift choice. Of course, we could be wrong, but when there are just 16 NFL games, you have to isolate the couple that look the most promising and offer a good rate of return on your investment, even if said investment is as real as the Man in the Moon.

The second game of the Monday Night doubleheader looks to us to be a gift as well, but what do we know? The Los Angeles Rams (doesn’t that sound so wonderful again) go up the coast to take on their former and future arch-rival San Francisco 49ers, and the 49ers look like a train wreck. However, Chip Kelly can coach offense, and Jeff Fisher-coached teams have a history of starting out slow. In this game featuring recycled quarterbacks, we believe that Case Keenum has more weapons at his disposal than Blaine Gabbert, and the Rams’ defense is worth an extra touchdown saved over the 49ers’ defense, so in our possibly deluded mind, we think the Rams at low odds offer us an excellent base for a parlay.

Now to the turnaround game in our minds. We think that Baltimore is ready to rebound to at least a better than mediocre season, while Buffalo takes a small step backward this year. The Ravens have enough offense to score on Rob Ryan’s defense, while brother Rex’s offense does not offer very much.

Once again, when you see the odds, you will notice that all 5 games present better than even money.

When you see that money line at +X, add $100 to the X, and this would show you how much money you would receive if the parlay wins, and you invested $100, because when you win, you get back your initial investment plus your winnings, just like with paramutuel wagering at the horse track.

For instance, if you play a money line game or money line parlay at +120, and you invest $100 in this selection, if you win, you will receive $220 ($120 profit plus your $100 investment). If you lose, you are out your $100 investment.

Here are our parlays for the week.

#1–College Parlay at +118
Navy over Connecticut
New Mexico over New Mexico State
Florida over Kentucky

#2–College Parlay at +134
Duke over Wake Forest
Louisville over Syracuse
South Florida over Northern Illinois
Iowa over Iowa State

#3–NFL Parlay at +106
Los Angeles Rams over San Francisco
Seattle over Miami

#4–NFL Parlay at +121
Carolina over Denver
Kansas City over San Diego

#5–NFL Parlay at +131
Baltimore over Buffalo
Green Bay over Jacksonville

August 20, 2016

2016 Big Ten Conference Football Preview

The Power 5 Conference previews begin today, and in the unusual spot of lowest ranked of the Big 5 stands the 14-member Big Ten. In actuality, just three points separates the fifth best conference from the second best this year, so the Big Ten is basically in a four-way tie for second best conference this year.

Being the fifth best league does not mean the Big Ten will not have a team in the third FBS College Football Playoffs. In fact, three teams have the talent to run the table and earn one of the four coveted spots. And overall, the PiRates believe 11 teams could be bowl eligible this year. This means that at least one and probably two teams will fill vacant spots as at-large candidates.

The power once again rests in the East Division, where six of the seven members have a chance to get to six wins. In recent years, it has come down to the Ohio State-Michigan State game, but this year we believe a third team will crash the party. Second year head coach Jim Harbaugh has quickly rebuilt the Michigan Wolverines to a point where the Maize and Blue are ready to return to greatness not seen in a decade. The Wolverines improved immediately in year one, becoming tougher on both sides of the ball and doubling their wins from the year before from five to ten.

The same improvement in year two could make Michigan a national title contender. The offense loses a good quarterback in Jake Rudock, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but unlike recent years, there is a competition among multiple quality quarterbacks, and whoever wins the battle will be a talented and competent leader. Expect Michigan’s passing game to remain as strong as last year, whether former Houston QB John O’Korn or Wilton Speight wins the job.

Whoever winst that job will have a bevy of highly-talented receivers catching the passes. Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh combined for 108 catches and 14 touchdowns as the starting wideouts last year, while tight end Jake Butt added 51 catches.

Running back De’Veon Smith is another pass-catching weapon, but his main goal is continuing to improve as a multi-talented runner who can plunge forward up the middle for an extra yard or two and break a long run to the outside. Backup Ty Isaac is capable of taking over a game if he can become more consistent.

Where Michigan should win most games this year is up front, as their offensive line has no peers inside the league. There is talent throughout the two-deep, led by center Mason Cole, guard Kyle Kalis, and tackle Erik Magnuson.

The other side of the ball is strong and potentially dominating up front, as the defensive line has a quartet of brick walls. Opponents will run away from the side end Chris Wormly lines up on, and quarterbacks will worry about his rushing when dropping back to pass. Taco Charlton will see improved stats this year, as he faces more plays to his end of the line.

The pass defense was a little vulnerable at times, but the back seven should be better this year, led by potential All-American cornerback Jabrill Peppers.

If it wasn’t for a schedule that includes road games with Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State, the media and other experts might be calling for a 12-0 regular season. Maybe, just the Pirates believe it is possible this year.

Ohio State looks to be in a rebuild season, but in Columbus, rebuilding means a possible 9-3 season. The Buckeyes lost so much from last year’s 12-1 season on both sides of the ball. Sure, there is still a ton of talent left on this squad, but we believe OSU will be about a touchdown weaker overall.

J.T. Barrett returns at quarterback after splitting the job with Cardale Jones, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Barrett is a better fit in Coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense, but defenses might be able to sneak defenders toward the line without worrying as much about being beaten deep by the arm of Jones.

The biggest replacement Meyer must make is at running back, where Ezekiel Elliott might be the leading candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year in Dallas. Finding capable receivers to replace Michael Thomas, Jalen Marshall, and Braxton Miller will be nearly as difficult.

The offensive line must replace three starters, but there was a lot of talented depth here last year, and we don’t see this becoming much of a problem this year.

Defensively, the Buckeyes return one starter to the line, one at linebacker, and one in the secondary. Middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan and end Tyquan Lewis could both become All-Americans, while end Sam Hubbard has all-league potential.

Road games with Oklahoma and Michigan State should be too much for the inexperienced Buckeyes to handle this year, so it could be a bowl other than the New Year’s 6 this year.

Michigan State faces a similar but less rebuilding effort this year after making the NCAA Playoffs in 2015. Coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans won a lot of close games last year in their road to the Big Ten title, and a small rebuild should mean that some of those close wins last year could become close losses this year. Replacing quarterback Connor Cook may be the toughest replacement in the entire league, and number two might be finding one or more players to replace the production of defensive star Shilique Calhoun.

Penn State coach James Franklin is 14-12 in his first two seasons in Happy Valley, and another 7-6 year will leave Nittany Lion fans very unhappy. Although most of the offense returns this year, one player missing is quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Although Hackenberg had issues with the Franklin offense, he still was good enough to become an NFL Draft pick, and nobody on the current roster has his skills.

The Defense loses a lot of talent, but possibly more important is the loss of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who will be directing the defense at Tennessee this year. September 10 could be an important Saturday for Franklin’s future in State College. A loss at Pittsburgh could get the alumni moving to find a replacement.

Indiana and Maryland don’t figure to contend for an upper division spot this year, but both teams have enough talent to go 3-0 outside of league play and find three more wins to get to 6-6. Rutgers is not in that same boat. The Scarlet Knights will be fortunate to avoid double digit losses.

Although the West Division is not as strong, the competition might be fiercer. Four teams have the potential to end up in the Big Ten Championship Game, while a fifth should be bowl eligible.

Iowa is the slight favorite to repeat as division champions, but Nebraska might be the most improved team in the division. The two rivals meet in Iowa City on Black Friday.

Wisconsin has the talent to win double digit games in most years, but not this year with a schedule that only a masochist could design. The Badgers face the two Michigan schools on the road and must face Ohio State at home, and then add a game at Lambeau Stadium against national title contender LSU. They also play at Iowa, and all of these games occur by October 22.

Northwestern is a mystery team this year to some extent. The Wildcats return a lot of talent from a 10-3 team, but overall that talent is not as strong as the other contenders. Coach Pat Fitzgerald finds a way to squeeze every yard and point out of his offense, while the defense always plays better on the whole than the sum of its parts.

Minnesota begins its first full season under Coach Tracy Claeys, who took over after Jerry Kill retired after the season began last year. The Gophers should be about as good this year as last, which means a probable lower-tier bowl.

Illinois and Purdue do not have the talent to compete for bowl eligibility, but both teams are capable of pulling off an upset. Last year, they both upset Nebraska and could have knocked the Cornhuskers out of a bowl.

The Big Ten does not sanction an official media preseason poll, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer does the job for the league in an unofficial capacity. Here is that poll.

Big Ten–East Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Ohio St. 31 260.5 27
2 Michigan 14 241 11
3 Michigan St. 1 195.5  
4 Penn St. 0 155.5  
5 Indiana 0 110  
6 Maryland 0 81.5  
7 Rutgers 0 52  
Big Ten–West Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Iowa 33 265 1
2 Nebraska 3 206  
3 Wisconsin 2 194.5  
4 Northwestern 1 171.5  
5 Minnesota 1 132  
6 Illinois 0 76.5  
7 Purdue 0 46.5  


Here are our initial PiRate Ratings for the league.

Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan 120.0 118.0 120.4 119.5
Ohio St. 113.3 113.5 113.5 113.4
Michigan St. 113.1 112.4 111.1 112.2
Penn St. 109.5 111.3 108.0 109.6
Indiana 101.5 106.0 100.9 102.8
Maryland 100.9 104.2 98.1 101.1
Rutgers 99.0 96.2 97.3 97.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Iowa 114.6 110.9 114.2 113.2
Nebraska 110.4 105.9 110.5 108.9
Wisconsin 109.1 105.9 109.5 108.2
Northwestern 109.7 103.5 108.1 107.1
Minnesota 104.8 102.8 104.7 104.1
Illinois 100.6 97.2 99.8 99.2
Purdue 99.4 96.6 98.3 98.1


The PiRate Ratings are meant to be used only to predict the outcomes of the next week of games, and are not best used to predict beyond that point. Because we use algorithms that include automatic adjustments by each team based on depth and experience, two different teams can win by the exact score we predict, and their new ratings might change differently.

Thus, using our ratings to predict won-loss records and bowl projections is a bit comical, but then we all need some laughs every now and then. So, laugh away at our projected standings and bowls.

Big Ten Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
East Division      
Michigan 9-0 13-0 * Playoffs–Fiesta
Ohio St. 7-2 9-3 Citrus
Michigan St. 7-2 9-3 Outback
Penn St. 6-3 8-4 Music City
Indiana 3-6 6-6 [Cactus] *
Maryland 3-6 6-6 [Birmingham] *
Rutgers 1-8 3-9  
Team Conference Overall Bowl
West Division      
Iowa 7-2 10-3 Holiday
Nebraska 5-4 8-4 Pinstripe
Northwestern 5-4 8-4 Foster Farms
Wisconsin 5-4 7-5 Quick Lane
Minnesota 4-5 7-5 Heart of Dallas
Illinois 1-8 3-9  
Purdue 0-9 3-9  
* Indiana’s Cactus Bowl Bid is an at-large selection
* Maryland’s Birmingham Bowl Bid is an at-lerge selection

Coming up tomorrow: The Big 12 Conference was close to going on life support until Oklahoma made the playoffs last year.  Now, with the possibility of new blood coming soon, and the likelihood that the Sooners could be better this year, there’s hope for the league.  Find out which teams are contenders, which are pretenders, and what team could surprise a lot of people this season.


March 19, 2016

NCAA 3rd Round Picks–Sunday, March 20, 2016

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:04 pm
Higher Seed Lower Seed Red White Blue
Villanova Iowa 5 4 8
Notre Dame Stephen F. Austin -1 4 -3
Oklahoma VCU 6 4 -1
Syracuse Middle Tennessee 6 10 5
Maryland Hawaii 3 6 7
Texas A&M Northern Iowa 7 9 10
Xavier Wisconsin 6 4 8
Oregon St. Joseph’s 5 4 8



Time (EDT) Network Higher Seed Lower Seed
12:10 PM CBS Villanova Iowa
2:40 PM CBS Notre Dame Stephen F. Austin
5:10 PM CBS Oklahoma VCU
6:10 PM TNT Syracuse Middle Tennessee
6:45 PM TBS Maryland Hawaii
7:45 PM TruTV Texas A&M Northern Iowa
8:40 PM TNT Xavier Wisconsin
9:40 PM TBS Oregon St. Joseph’s



February 8, 2016

America’s Most Accurate Bracketology Composite—February 8, 2016

With each passing week, one near fact emerges in this college basketball season.  No one team is dominant this year.  The eventual national champion might be a middle of the pack team in its own conference today.  A mid-major team or two might be poised to make it to the Final Four.  A good dozen at-large teams that will be awarded will probably be weaker than NIT teams of recent years.  Of the 46 or 47 at-large bids that will be awarded, probably no more than 25 to 30 will really deserve that invitation this year.

Let’s take a look at how our 32 geniuses bracketed the teams this week.  Most agreed on 63 of the 68 participants, not counting any disagreements in which teams will represent the one-bid leagues.


One-Bid Leagues
America East
Stony Brook’s (10-0/19-4) winning streak has now extended to 15 games. The Seawolves followed up their win at Vermont (6-4/14-11) the previous week with consecutive blowouts over two bottom-division conference foes. The league faces a three-game week, and Stony Brook’s contest at New Hampshire (6-3/13-9) on Sunday figures to be the key game.

Albany (8-2/19-6) plays at New Hampshire Thursday night, and the Great Danes still have a home game with Stony Brook, but it may be a little too late to overtake the Seawolves for the top seed. Albany edged SBU by a point in last year’s conference tournament championship, and the two teams may be headed to a rematch on the Seawolves’ home floor this year.

Atlantic Sun
This race got interesting last week. North Florida (7-2/18-8) fell twice, once at home to a Stetson team that is just one game ahead of last place. Meanwhile, Jacksonville (7-2/15-11) ran its winning streak to five games including a second win over Florida Gulf Coast (5-4/14-11). Don’t overlook NJIT (5-4/14-11). The Highlanders, in their first year in the league, could be a tough out in Newark, where all conference tournament games are played on campus sites of the better seeds.

Big Sky
The top two teams both suffered losses last week, and now the rest of the field is closing in. Montana (9-2/14-8) and Weber State (8-2/16-7) were picked one-two in most preseason polls, and Eastern Washington (7-4/13-10) was the consensus third place choice, so this league is holding to form. The one surprise is the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota (7-4/12-10). There is no clear-cut leader as the race enters its final weeks.

Big South
Six of the 11 schools in this league are still in contention for the top seed, and it promises to lead to an exciting conference tournament in Buies Creek, North Carolina, home to current last place team Campbell. Until somebody dethrones them, defending champion Coastal Carolina (9-4/15-8) is our favorite to repeat as conference tournament champion. Coach Cliff Ellis tends to produce teams that pound the ball inside and control the boards, beating teams with physical dominance. In their current seven-game winning streak, the Chanticleers are keeping opponents out of the lane with tough defense, dominating on the glass, and getting the ball inside for cheap baskets.

UNC-Asheville (10-3/17-8) still leads the loop, but the Bulldogs have a tough closing schedule, that includes a chance to get some revenge on CCU after losing to them in overtime.

Winthrop (8-4/16-7) made it to the championship game of the Big South Tournament last year, and the Eagles had won seven games in a row before falling to Liberty (8-5/11-15) Saturday. Gardner-Webb (8-5/13-12) faced a killer pre-conference schedule, and it appeared to wear the Bulldogs down some in January, but GWU is a definite contender. The Bulldogs beat Coastal Carolina and had a big lead at UNCA before falling at the end. GWU would be the clear front-runner if Jerome Hill had not decided to become a pro in Iceland.

Big West
Both of the co-leaders recovered from unexpected losses the prior week to return to their winning ways. Hawaii (7-1/18-3) won twice by double digits on the mainland to run their league road record to 4-0. The Rainbow Warriors have been a major surprise under first-year coach Even Ganot, a former St. Mary’s assistant. Hawaii has a +5 rebounding edge and +3 turnover margin, and they are consistent. It took five three-pointers and eight for eight foul shooting from All-American Buddy Hield for Oklahoma to hang on and edge the Warriors in Norman earlier this year.

UC-Irvine (7-1/18-6) doesn’t have as impressive stats as Hawaii, but they have the headache matchup problem for opponents. He isn’t nearly as talented as an A.J. Hammons or Jakob Poeltl, but Mamadou Ndiaye is a 7 foot 6 fly-swatter. Backing him up is a Greek monolith in seven foot, two inch Ioannis Dimakopoulous. The two titans combine to score 17.8 points, pull down 9.8 rebounds, and block 3.5 shots per game. These stats are more impressive when you consider that UCI runs a slower-paced game.

The two contenders face off twice in eight days, beginning on the island late Thursday night/early Friday morning. We believe these teams will split and more than likely finished tied for first, with the rubber game coming in the conference championship at Disneyland in Anaheim.

Long Beach State (6-3/12-12) cannot be overlooked. The 49ers’ pre-conference schedule was brutal with games against BYU, Seton Hall, and New Mexico State, which they won, and two games against Oklahoma State plus games against Virginia, San Diego State, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, and Duke.

Colonial Athletic
This continues to be a race with a lot of contenders. Six teams look talented enough to get hot for three days in March in Baltimore. Up in Louisville, the Cardinal fans are sadly disappointed for their team’s fate, but many of them will now route for UNC-Wilmington (10-2/18-5), led by former UL assistant Kevin Keatts. In just his second season in Wilmington, Keatts has shown that the Rick Pitino coaching tree is still fruitful, as it looks like the Seahawks could finish first in the CAA for the second consecutive season after suffering through seven losing years in a row prior to Keatts’ arrival.

The leading contender to UNCW has a coach from a famous tree as well. William & Mary (9-3/17-6) head coach Tony Shaver comes directly from the Dean Smith coaching tree, having played for the maestro at North Carolina while Roy Williams was an assistant on that staff. Shaver made Hampden-Sydney a major power at the Division III level, and he has done a very good job building up the Tribe program to where they have a legitimate shot at getting to the Big Dance for the first time in school history.

Other teams firmly in contention in the CAA include Hofstra (8-4/16-8), Towson (8-4/17-8) , James Madison (8-4/18-7), and Charleston (7-5/15-8). The CAA will not produce an at-large team and can probably expect a 14-seed, but whoever represents the league is going to make it hard on the three-seed that draws a team from this league. JMU defeated Hofstra in an overtime thriller yesterday.

Conference USA
This league has two teams that are too far behind the other bubble teams to receive serious consideration as an at-large candidate, but the top two teams in C-USA might defeat most of the bubble teams on a neutral floor. UAB (10-1/20-4) and Middle Tennessee (9-2/17-6) go on the road this week as a pair, both playing Louisiana Tech (6-4/17-6) and Southern Miss. Then, they face off against each other in Murfreesboro, on the Blue Raiders’ home floor on Sunday, February 21, in a nationally televised contest.

UAB pulled off the big NCAA Tournament upset over Iowa State last year, and this Blazer squad is considerably better under fourth year coach Jeron Haase, a former North Carolina assistant and former teammate of Jason Kidd. Haase is sure to get a lot of attention after this season by power conference teams looking for a bright and energetic coach to turn around a beleagured program.

Middle Tennessee has won nine of their last ten games, and they feature a powerful quartet of players that make it hard to consistently slow the Blue Raiders down. Middle doesn’t excel in anything, but they don’t have any major weaknesses either, and they have a deep bench. Guard Giddy Potts has been lighting it up from outside in recent games, where he has connected on 58.6% of his three-point attempts over the last six games.

Three teams have separated themselves from the rest of the league, but two others could be contenders in the conference tournament in Detroit. Valparaiso (10-1/20-4) is among the national leaders in scoring margin, rebounding margin, and field goal percentage defense. This is a Valpo team that returned all five of its starters from a team that took third-seeded Maryland to the wire in the NCAA Tournament last year, losing by three.

Oakland (9-3/17-8) and Wright State (9-3/15-10) are the chief competition to Valpo for the conference title, and Wright State penned the lone conference loss on the Crusaders. Oakland blew Wright State off the floor in a home contest, but the Grizzlies lost big at home to Valpo, and they still must play the other two on the road this month.

Keep an eye on three other teams. Green Bay (6-5/14-10) and Detroit (6-6/12-11) can both light up the scoreboard, and both teams rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring (Oakland is number two nationally). Milwaukee (6-6/15-9) has lost four of seven games after having defeated Wisconsin and Minnesota earlier in the season.

For now, Yale (6-0/15-5) is the leader after dusting Columbia (5-1/16-7) by 14 points Friday night on national television. The Bulldogs were blistering hot from the field, hitting better than 60% of their shots and then running time off the clock, forcing the Lions to foul numerous times, and then connecting on 28 out of 36 foul shots. Princeton (4-1/14-5) makes this a three-team race, and this race will get much more interesting the rest of the way.

Yale finishes with six road contests in their last eight games, including trips to Columbia and Princeton. One of these three teams will win the Ivy, and two or even all three could end up tied and force a playoff.

A couple of notes about the contenders; they are not your typical Ivy League teams. Yale currently rates number two in the nation in rebounding margin at +12.4. Princeton, long-noted as a team that slowed the pace of games down to win 60-50, now is one of the quicker-paced teams in the nation and tops in the Ivy.

Akron (8-2/19-4) is the class of the league this year as well as the hottest as they ride a six-game winning streak, but the Zips are not a sure thing to receive the one bid from this league. It might help that the conference tournament is just up the road in Cleveland, but even the class of the league is not head and heels better than three to five other teams in what is usually a very competitive tournament.

Buffalo (7-3/14-9) fell at home to Akron, but the Bulls recently went on the road to first-division Toledo (5-5/14-9) and Northern Illinois (5-5/16-7), winning both games. Ball State (6-4/15-8) has the league’s top defense.

Look out for NIU in the conference tournament. The Huskies have positive rebounding and turnover margins, and well as the top field goal percentage defense, and they have a balanced lineup with seven players contributing positive minutes.

Mideastern Athletic
Three teams have pulled away from the field, and their closing schedules set them up to finish in a three-way tie if they continue to play at their current paces.

Hampton (8-2/13-9) fell at Maryland-Eastern Shore Saturday to fall into a tie with South Carolina State (8-2/13-11). SCSU won at Hampton, so they would be the top-seed if the conference tournament began today. Norfolk State (7-2/11-13) is just a half-game behind the co-leaders, and the Spartans downed SC State by 13 in their lone meeting. Norfolk hosts Hampton to close out the regular season on March 3, and that game could decide which team gets the top seed. The MEAC Tournament will be in Norfolk, so the Spartans must be considered the favorite.
Keep an eye on Howard (4-4/10-13). The Bison have the nation’s top scorer in James Daniel (27.8 ppg), who is also one of the top thiefs in D1 with better than 2 1/2 steals per game. With big man Marcel Boyd, Howard could sneak through to the championship game of the MEAC Tournament and be a tough out for any of the top contenders.

Metro Atlantic
Monmouth (11-2/19-5) might have done enough this year to earn an at-large tournament bid if they do not earn the automatic bid. For that to happen, the Hawks would have to win out until the finals of the MAAC Tournament and lose to Siena (9-5/16-9) on the Saints’ home floor. Monmouth would then be 28-6 with wins over USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and two out of three against Siena with losses to USC and Dayton. It is a long shot, but it could happen.

Iona (11-3/14-9) was supposed to race through the league and repeat as regular season champions after returning four starters from last year’s title run, but the Gaels lost guard Kelvin Amayo early in the season and did not recover for a month en route to a 4-6 start. Iona’s win over Niagara was its fourth consecutive victory, the last three of which came on the road. The Gaels still must face Siena twice and Monmouth on the road.

Mountain West
San Diego State (11-0/18-6) is the class of the MWC, but the Aztecs appear to be in a different situation than Wichita State in the MVC. SDSU’s schedule and results are not enough to merit an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. The Aztecs shouldn’t even be undefeated in the MWC, as the officials made a grievous error that cost New Mexico (7-3/14-9) a victory over SDSU Saturday night in San Diego.

Boise State (7-4/16-8) and Fresno State (6-4/15-8) are capable of doing damage in the conference tournament in Las Vegas. San Diego State is still the overwhelming favorite, and the Aztecs currently lead the nation in field goal percentage defense at 36.3%.

This continues to be one of the most interesting conference races in college basketball. Eight of the ten teams qualify for the conference tournament, with all games played at the better seed. So, finishing in the top four is the key, and as of today, six teams are fighting it out for those top four seeds.

Wagner (8-4/15-8), Fairleigh Dickinson (8-4/12-11), and St. Francis (Pa.) (8-4/12-11) lead Mount St. Mary’s (7-5/10-15) and Sacred Heart (7-5/8-15) by one game and St. Francis (Brkn) (6-6/10-15) by two games. St. Francis (Pa.) and Sacred Heart are the current hot teams, but none of the teams look capable of avoiding a 16-seed, and the automatic participant might be faced with an opening round game in Dayton.

Ohio Valley
Until the last 10 days, Belmont (9-2/17-8) looked unstoppable in the OVC. Now, they don’t even look like the frontrunner after losing to Tennessee Tech (9-2/17-7) and bottom division Eastern Kentucky. Tennessee State (7-3/16-7) leads a group of three other contenders in what should be a fantastic conference tournament in Nashville.

Keep an eye on Morehead St. (6-5/12-11). The Eagles have lost a lot of close games, and they are starting to look like a cohesive team under former Kentucky Wildcat Sean Woods’ coaching style. Woods plays 10 players extensive minutes in every game, and the Eagles are a vastly improved team since the year began.

This league plays its conference tournament on campus sites of the better seeds. So, finishing first guarantees home court advantage all the way through the tournament. Bucknell (10-2/13-10) has opened up a three-game lead over four others with a fifth team another half-game back. The Bison lost at home to Colgate (7-5/11-12).

Navy (7-5/16-9) must not be overlooked. The Midshipmen combine strong rebounding with excellent ball handling and could go on a late season run to earn the number two seed.

Chattanooga (10-1/21-3) won three home games by an average score of 95.3 to 67.3 to run their winning streak to eight games. The Mocs don’t exactly excel at any one thing, but they are good at every facet of the game. The Mocs are +6.1 in rebounding plus turnover margin, and they shoot 5% better from the field than their opposition. It’s hard to lose many games when you get more scoring opportunities thanks to your superior rebounding and turnover margins, while shooting better than your opponents.

Mercer (8-3/18-6) lost by 12 at Chattanooga last month, and the Bears host the Mocs in Macon tonight in a game you can see on ESPN3. A Mercer win would throw this race wide open with East Tennessee (8-3/15-9), Furman (8-4/14-11), and Wofford (7-4/11-13) within striking distance if Mercer can pull off the upset.

The conference tournament is in Asheville, where the league has no team.

What team is outscoring its conference rivals by 20.7 points per game? It isn’t Oklahoma, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, or Arizona. It’s not Wichita State either, although the Shockers were in that range until losing Saturday. The answer is Stephen F. Austin (9-0/16-5). On consecutive Saturdays, the Lumberjacks went on the road to the top two contenders, Texas A&M Corpus Christi (8-2/17-5) and Houston Baptist (8-2/14-9), and won both games to put this race away.

Road games against Incarnate Word (7-2/12-8) and Sam Houston (7-4/12-12) are the only possible stumbling blocks in SFA’s way of running the table in conference play in the regular season. Coach Brad Underwood will get multiple chances to move up the ladder after this season, as the Lumberjacks are now 77-13 under his direction. They lead the nation in turnover margin, and if they draw a team that is not an exceptional rebounding squad, SFA could scare a possible two-seed for much of 40 minutes.

Southwestern Athletic
After beginning the season 1-11, Texas Southern (9-1/10-12) began conference play by upsetting Southern U (8-2/16-7) and continued until their streak reached nine wins in a row. The Tigers fell Saturday to a Prairie View team that entered the game 1-20. TSU and Southern met in the SWAC Conference Tournament Championship Game last year, and there could be a rematch in Houston in a month.

South Dakota State (8-2/19-5) has won five in a row, the latest a 22-point win over IUPUI (7-4/11-15). IPFW (8-3/19-7) lost by 16 at SDSU in January, but the two teams play again in Fort Wayne on February 18. Omaha (7-4/15-10) and North Dakota State (6-4/16-8) give this league five competitive teams, but the conference tournament is Sioux Falls, less than an hour’s drive from Brookings, where SDSU is located.

Sun Belt
Chris Beard is the last of the Bob Knight assistant coaches to obtain a head coaching position at the Division 1 level. In his first year at UALR (11-1/21-2), Beard has the Trojans two games ahead of second place Louisiana-Lafayette (9-3/13-8). UALR is among the national leaders in field goal percentage defense (37.0%) and points allowed per game (57.2). The Trojans lead the league in turnover margin, and they are above average in shooting and rebounding. Senior guard Josh Hagins is one of the most consistent players in college basketball. He’s good for 12 points a night for three year’s running as well as the best assist to turnover ratio in the league among regulars.

UT-Arlington (6-5/15-7) at one time looked like a top contender for the regular season championship, but the Mavericks have dropped four straight games and five of six to fall out of the race. Arkansas State (7-5/11-12) and UL-Monroe (7-5/11-12) have passed UTA, but it is strictly a two-team race to the top seed in the SBC.

The conference tournament is in New Orleans, and in the SBC’s format, the top two teams receive double byes to the semifinals.

Western Athletic
New Mexico State (8-1/16-8) has won seven consecutive games to sprint to the top of the league and look like a team ready to make it five consecutive NCAA appearances. With Grand Canyon ineligible for the postseason, Cal State-Bakersfield (7-2/17-7) is the top contender. Former Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes has the Roadrunners on a hot streak with a February 18 rematch against NMSU just ten days away. NMSU must play a weather-caused make-up game at Wichita State three days earlier, and it could help the Roadrunners, who lost the first contest to the Aggies in double overtime.

With seven teams headed to Las Vegas for the conference tournament, the top-seed will receive a bye to the semifinals.

Possible 2-Bid League

Missouri Valley
We continue to keep this as a one-bid league for now, but Wichita State (11-1/17-6) took one on the chin Saturday night in Normal, Illionois, against Illinois State (8-4/14-11), and the Shockers are not so invincible in the Valley. Now, Arch Madness might be a little interesting, as the Redbirds have moved into a tie for second with Evansville (8-4/19-6), ahead of the swooning Southern Illinois Salukis (7-5/18-7).

The Shockers only have one tough road game left, at Indiana State (7-5/13-11), so Wichita State will soon clinch the top seed in the conference tournament. Should they fall in St. Louis, then the MVC comes a bid-stealer from the bubble.

American Athletic

Okay for Now
Connecticut (7-3/17-6)

Cincinnati (7-4/17-7)

Temple (8-3/14-8)

Connecticut has won six out of seven games and has non-league wins over Michigan, Ohio State, and Texas. The win over the Longhorns was in Austin. The Huskies have key road games against Temple and Cincinnati in the next two weeks.

Cincinnati fell at Memphis Saturday, and the Bearcats still have work to do. A 5-2 finish and a win in the conference tournament should be enough to get Cinti in the Dance, but if some conference tournament upsets accrue in other major conference tournaments, their bubble could be popped.

Atlantic 10
Dayton (9-1/19-3)

Okay for Now
VCU (9-1/17-6)

St. Joseph’s (8-2/19-4)

George Washington (7-3/18-5)

GWU picked up a crucial road win at VCU Saturday night, and the Colonials’ closig schedule gives them a chance to play themselves into an at-large spot in the Field. It starts with a key game against St. Joe’s in D.C. Wednesday night.

Atlantic Coast
North Carolina (8-2/19-4)
Virginia (8-3/19-4)
Miami (Fla.) (7-3/18-4)

Okay for Now
Duke (6-4/17-6)
Pittsburgh (6-4/17-5)
Notre Dame (7-4/16-7)
Syracuse (6-5/16-8)

Florida State (6-5/16-7)
Clemson (7-4/14-9)


Louisville may be the top team in the loop, but even without the Cardinals’ participation in the postseason, this league still could place nine teams in the Big Dance.

Clemson’s hold on the bubble will either become firmer or burst tonight, when the Tigers play host to Notre Dame. CU needs to win five of their final seven conference games and then maybe one in the ACC Tournament to move into the safe zone.

Big 12
Oklahoma (7-3/19-3)
Kansas (7-3/19-4)
Iowa St. (6-4/17-6)
West Virginia (8-2/19-4)

Okay for Now
Baylor (6-4/17-6)
Texas (7-3/16-7)


Texas Tech (3-7/13-9)
Kansas St. (3-7/14-9)

The big game of the week takes place tomorrow night in Lawrence, when Kansas takes on West Virginia. In the first meeting in Morgantown, WVU forced 22 turnover and had 12 steals to win by 11 despite shooting just 33.3% from the field.

Vastly improved Texas has won seven of eight games, but the Longhorns have a tough schedule this week, starting with a road game tonight against Oklahoma and followed by a trip to Ames Saturday night to face Iowa State. If UT can get star center Cameron Ridley back before the Big 12 Conference Tournament begins, and Ridley can provide some meaningful minutes, then Texas could be a sleeper team to watch for in the Big Dance. Coach Shaka Smart has already shown he can take a mid-Major to the Final Four.

The conference tournament in Kansas City should be its most exciting in years.

Big East
Villanova (10-1/20-3)
Xavier (9-2/21-2)

Okay for Now
Providence (6-5/18-6)

Seton Hall (7-4/17-6)
Butler (5-6/16-7)

Georgetown (6-5/13-11)
Creighton (6-5/15-9)

The Big East wasn’t expected to stay near the top of the power conferences when the American Athletic Conference formed taking all the football playing schools. However, if the tournament started today, there is a chance this league could have two number one seeds! The two powers face off for the second time on February 24 in Cincinnati.

In past years, Villanova was a little soft inside, and it cost the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament. That is not the case this year. VU has the talent and toughness to go to the Final Four. ‘Nova allows just 41.1% shooting from inside the arc, and they are more dominant on the boards this year than last, when they were an early upset loser to North Carolina State in the Round of 32.

Big Ten
Iowa (10-1/19-4)
Maryland (10-2/21-3)
Michigan St. (7-4/20-4)
Purdue (7-4/19-5)

Okay for Now
Indiana (9-2/19-5)
Michigan (7-4/17-7)


Wisconsin (6-4/14-9)

The Big Ten has placed at least one team in the Final Four for four consecutive seasons and six of the last seven years. Seeds as low as number seven have advanced to the Final Four from this league, so don’t discount teams like Indiana and Michigan just yet.

Michigan State, Iowa, and Maryland have proven it on the court this year with a combined 10-6 record against Top 25 teams. All three have brilliant inside and outside games, and Iowa has all the ingredients to go all the way. The Spartans and Terrapins have shown a tendency to have ball-handling issues at times and do not create a lot of turnovers against their opponents.

Oregon (9-2/20-4)
Utah (6-5/17-7)

Okay for Now
USC (7-3/18-5)
Arizona (7-4/19-5)

Colorado (6-5/17-7)
California (5-5/15-8)
Washington (7-4/15-8)

Oregon State (5-6/14-8)
UCLA (4-6/13-10)
Stanford (4-6/11-10)

In recent years, the Pac-12 has been acquiring excellent coaches, and it is starting to show off in the bracketology research. Dana Altman at Oregon, Larry Krystkowiak at Utah, Andy Enfield at USC, Cuonzo Martin at Cal, Bobby Hurley at Arizona State, Steve Alford at UCLA, Sean Miller at Arizona, and Wayne Tinkle at Oregon State join long-timers Johnny Dawkins at Stanford and Lorenzo Romar at Washington to make this possibly the most well-coached league in college basketball. When 10 of the 12 teams are still contending for NCAA Tournament berths in the second week of February, that is quite telling.

Texas A&M (7-3/18-5)
Kentucky (7-3/17-6)

Okay for Now
Florida (6-4/15-8)
South Carolina (7-3/20-3)

LSU (8-2/15-8)

Vanderbilt (5-5/13-10)
Alabama (4-6/13-9)
Ole Miss (5-5/15-8)

You have to figure that if LSU continues to stay in first place in the SEC, the Tigers will be in the Field of 68. The Bayou Bengals can earn their way into safe for now status with two wins this week, as LSU faces South Carolina in Columbia Wednesday night, and Texas A&M in Baton Rouge Saturday afternoon.
As for Vanderbilt, Alabama, and Ole Miss, it is going to take a monumental finish. The cut line in the SEC will probably be 11-7 with at least one additional conference tournament win. Alabama gets an immediate excellent opportunity to prove they belong; the Tide’s next three games are against Texas A&M on Wednesday night, Florida in Gainesville on Saturday, and LSU in Baton Rouge the following Wednesday. If they come out of this at 6-7, and then close 4-1 to begin conference play at 10-8, then Coach Avery Johnson’s squad might only need one conference tournament win thanks to wins over Clemson, Wichita State, and Notre Dame and a competitive loss to Oregon.

West Coast

Okay for Now
Saint Mary’s (10-2/19-3)

Gonzaga (11-2/19-5)

BYU (8-4/17-8)

Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga have become the 21st Century versions of UNLV and Marquette from year’s past and Davidson from even farther year’s past. You expect one or both of these teams to be in the NCAA Tournament every year, and you know that one season, one of these two Western mini-powers will make the Final Four. Gonzaga made its second Elite 8 appearance last year, and Saint Mary’s has been a Sweet 16 participant in the recent past.

Former SEC semi-stars Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky) and Eric McClellan (Vanderbilt) have joined monster center Domantas Sabonis to make Gonzaga much more athletic the last two seasons than they have been in the past, and the Bulldogs may be primed to make a run to the Final Four this year. Their liability is an inability to force turnovers on opponents, and a powerful rebounding team like Michigan State would be a tough matchup.

Saint Mary’s has all the tools to do well in the Dance. The Gaels can shoot lights out from inside and outside; they can dominate on the glass; and they don’t turn the ball over.

This Week’s Seedings

1 Oklahoma
1 Villanova
1 Iowa
1 Kansas
2 Xavier
2 Maryland
2 North Carolina
2 Michigan St.
3 Oregon
3 Virginia
3 West Virginia
3 Miami (Fla.)
4 Iowa St.
4 Dayton
4 Texas A&M
4 Kentucky
5 Purdue
5 Arizona
5 Baylor
6 Utah
6 Texas
6 Duke
6 Providence
7 South Carolina
7 Notre Dame
7 Indiana
7 Pittsburgh
8 Colorado
8 Connecticut
8 Florida
9 Seton Hall
9 Wichita St.
9 California
9 Florida St.
10 Michigan
10 Saint Mary’s
10 Syracuse
10 George Washington
11 Gonzaga
11 St. Joseph’s
11 Washington
11 Butler
11 Monmouth
12 Valparaiso
12 Chattanooga
12 Stony Brook
12 Cincinnati
12 LSU
13 San Diego St.
13 South Dakota St.
13 UAB
13 Akron
14 UC-Irvine
14 Yale
14 UNC-Wilmington
15 Stephen F. Austin
15 New Mexico St.
15 Belmont
15 UNC-Asheville
16 Montana
16 Hampton
16 North Florida
16 Bucknell
16 Wagner
16 Texas Southern

Last 4 In


First 4 Out

Oregon St.
Kansas St.

Next 4 Out

Texas Tech
Ole Miss


January 15, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Picks for January 16-17, 2016

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:55 am

This week, we expand our selections to include both Saturday and Sunday games of games from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC.

Beginning next week, we will commence with our 32 Bracketologists consensus as there have now been enough games to actually put some weight behind the teams in the field, on the bubble, and out of the field.

The Red Rating uses an algorithm based on the Four Factors of basketball.

The White Rating incorporates a “least squares” principle to the Four Factors.

The Blue Rating is a separate statistics and strength of schedule approach similar to our PiRate Bias Ratings in football.

Games Schedule for: Saturday, January 16, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Georgia Tech Virginia Tech 9 9 4
Wake Forest Syracuse 1 1 3
North Carolina North Carolina St. 18 15 21
Pittsburgh Boston College 19 23 19
Duke Notre Dame 10 9 10
Clemson Miami (Fla.) -5 -5 3
Kansas TCU 23 20 26
Texas Tech Baylor -1 5 2
Oklahoma West Virginia 7 6 -2
Kansas St. Iowa St. -1 2 2
Texas Oklahoma St. 6 8 5
Maryland Ohio St. 12 11 8
Minnesota Indiana -13 -13 -9
Illinois Nebraska 3 3 5
Northwestern Penn St. 10 11 9
Arizona St. Washington 6 6 2
Arizona Washington St. 16 16 17
South Carolina Missouri 15 15 11
Georgia Texas A&M -1 -1 -4
Mississippi St. Tennessee 1 -1 3
Auburn Kentucky -10 -10 -14
Vanderbilt Alabama 9 12 5
Ole Miss Florida 1 -3 3
LSU Arkansas 3 3 6
Games Schedule for: Sunday, January 17, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Florida St. Virginia -2 -3 -3
Wisconsin Michigan St. -6 -4 -9
Iowa Michigan 12 10 8
Colorado Oregon -1 2 4
Utah Oregon St. 4 3 6


December 19, 2015

PiRate Ratings Computer Simulated College Playoffs–Quarterfinal Round

The first two rounds of the Computer Simulated NCAA Playoffs have been previously posted here.  Today’s Quarterfinal Round featured three teams from the Big Ten, two from the SEC, and one each from the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12.

If you have not been following our 2015-16 tournament, we are using the same 24-team format currently in use by the Football Championship Division.  Here are the contests for the football version of the Elite 8.

Quarterfinal Round   1 2 3 4 F FD Rush Pass Total
#16 Ole Miss at 10 14 0 3 27 24 163 242 405
#8 North Carolina   7 6 3 0 16 17 145 189 334
#7 Stanford at 7 0 3 7 17 12 130 169 299
#2 Alabama   3 3 7 0 13 17 202 116 318
#6 Ohio St. at 0 3 14 3 20 20 221 106 327
#3 Oklahoma   5 7 14 0 26 22 137 303 440
#5 Michigan St. at 3 3 7 10 23 19 129 222 351
#4 Iowa   0 14 0 7 21 16 172 133 305

The Final Four is now set.  In next week’s semifinal round, it will be:

#16 Ole Miss vs. #5 Michigan St. at the Orange Bowl

#7 Stanford vs. #3 Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl

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