The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 25, 2009

A PiRate Look At The 2009 NCAA Tournament: The Sweet 16

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament

The Sweet 16

 March 26-27, 2009

 

As the Sweet 16 prepares to begin play tomorrow night, our PiRate Formula for picking teams that display the necessary statistics similar to the historical Final Four participants and National Champions are once again proving to be quite accurate.  We consider it the SABRmetrics of college basketball.

 

We originally told you about our list of the 12 Super Teams in this tournament.  We apologize for our not being able to count.  We only listed 11 teams.  Of those 11 teams, eight advanced to the Sweet 16.  One of the three teams, UCLA, lost to Villanova.  Villanova just barely missed out on qualifying for the Super Team list, and they basically got to host their first two games at the Spectrum.  Only Wake Forest and West Virginia’s losses can really be listed as misses.

 

On Sunday, our picks ran the table, going 8-0.  Combined with Saturday’s games, our second round success rate was 14-2.  For the tournament to date, we are now 38-10.

 

Without further adieu, here are the eight games for the third round.  The criteria scores and Strengths of Schedule have been updated to reflect the two games in the tournament.

 

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

[number in brackets is Strength of Schedule advantage]

 

East Region @ Boston

 

Pittsburgh (14) vs. Xavier (10) [Pitt 3]

Game Time: Thursday, 7:27 PM EDT

This is an interesting match if only because Xavier coach Sean Miller was once a starter on a great Pitt team. 

 

The way to beat Pitt is to force them to commit turnovers and play transition defense.  The Musketeers are more like Pitt than like the type of team needed to beat the Panthers.  Xavier cannot match up inside with the more muscular Pitt inside, and the Panthers will advance to the Elite 8.  Xavier’s only chance is to take 30 three-point shots and hit 40%.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 74 Xavier 64

 

Villanova (9) vs. Duke (14) [Duke 4]

Game Time: Thursday, approximately 9:42 PM EDT

Villanova missed out on being rated at 13 by just a hair.  This game is being touted as one in which the 3-seed Wildcats should be favored over the 2-seed Blue Devils. 

 

This game provides an excellent study in contrast.  VU has a great deal of talent inside with a surprising outside presence.  Duke has a great deal of talent on the perimeter with a surprising inside presence.

 

This should be a close game throughout the first half and a good deal of the second half.  Then, we believe the Duke defense will begin to force Villanova into mistakes and take advantage of those errors.  It should lead to a nice Blue Devil run in the last 10 minutes to move Coach K to the Elite 8.

 

Prediction: Duke 77 Villanova 70

 

South Region @ Memphis

 

Syracuse (4) vs. Oklahoma (9) [Syracuse 2]

Game Time: Friday, 7:27 PM EDT

This is the only Sweet 16 game in which neither team owns a double digit criteria score.  What it means to us is that the winner of this game will lose in the Elite 8 game Sunday.

 

This one should be a tight contest.  Syracuse’s zone defense should reduce the number of looks for Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin.  The Sooners have an ample trio of outside shooters, and they will have to step it up a notch to beat the Orangemen.  If Tony Crocker, Willie Warren, and Austin Johnson are hot, the Sooners will continue to play on Sunday.

 

Syracuse will have to pack in their zone to keep Griffin from killing them inside.  They will score points on offense, but they may give up points just even quicker if they cannot cover the perimeter when the ball is kicked out from the posts.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 82 Syracuse 75

 

 

North Carolina (17) vs. Gonzaga (17) [N. Carolina 5]

Game Time: Friday, approximately 9:42 PM EDT

Gonzaga shares the second best PiRate criteria score with their opponent, but the Bulldogs compiled their stats against an inferior schedule.  Even though they played some big time teams, including Memphis and Connecticut, they played too many teams well beneath the average. 

 

North Carolina will not be able to just walk all over the Zags.  We expect GU to stay within striking distance for at least 30-32 minutes, and we wouldn’t be shocked if they led at any point of that time.

 

The Tar Heels will supposedly have Ty Lawson near 100% ready for this game.  Their bench is much more potent than Gonzaga’s, and we think they will eventually wear down the Bulldogs.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 85 Gonzaga 74

 

Midwest Region @ Indianapolis

 

Louisville (10) vs. Arizona (-2) [Louisville 2]

Game Time: Friday, 7:07 PM EDT

Arizona is the one team in the Sweet 16 that we feel doesn’t have the talent of the other 15 teams.  We didn’t think the Wildcats would make it this far, and we honestly felt that Penn State deserved to be here in their place.

 

The players heard for days that they didn’t deserve to be in the Dance, and that motivated them to play great ball last weekend.  We think this weekend will be different.

 

Louisville has not played like a number one seed of the entire tournament.  They got a virtual bye in the first round against Morehead State, and they could have easily lost to Siena in round two.  The Cardinals might stumble through for a third time and win only because their opponent is the weakest of the Sweet 16 teams.  It may be UL’s last win of the season if they don’t play more consistently.

 

Prediction: Louisville 69 Arizona 64

 

Kansas (10) vs. Michigan State (7) [Mich. St. 1]

Game Time: Approximately 9:22 PM EDT

This game should be a rugged, jaw-to-jaw contest of teams that like to bang it.  Both teams control the boards in their games, and it will be interesting to see if either can dominate the other.  We’ll call it a standoff in this stat.

 

Both teams’ weakness is their ability to take advantage of turnover margin.  If either team were playing somebody like Missouri this week, we would feel inclined to pick them to lose.  Since neither team will be able to force a bunch of mistakes and capitalize with a great fast break, we will call this a standoff as well.

 

We think the game will be decided by KU’s defense.  The Jayhawks will force MSU to shoot a lower percentage of shots and not receive their usual amount of offensive rebounds to hold the Spartans well below their points per game average.  We’re not sure MSU can do the same to the Jayhawks, so we’re picking the defending champions to return to the Elite 8.

 

Prediction: Kansas 72 Michigan State 67

 

West Region @ Glendale, AZ

 

Connecticut (14) vs. Purdue (6) [Even Strength]

Game Time: Thursday, 7:07 PM EDT

This looks like a potential mismatch, but some late developments may have the UConn players not ready mentally for this game.  A report by Yahoo Sports that the Huskies broke several NCAA rules when it recruited a former player may make it difficult for the players to properly prepare for this game.

 

Purdue doesn’t have the tools needed to beat Connecticut.  It takes a team with solid strength in the paint, and the Boilermakers don’t have the inside firepower.  Only a poorly played game by the top seed would make this one close.

 

We think the Huskies will start out a little bit off their game, but after a couple of TV timeouts, they should settle down and start playing well.  As long as Hasheem Thabeet stays out of foul trouble and plays about 25 minutes in this game, UConn should win by double digits.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 73 Purdue 60

 

Missouri (12) vs. Memphis (19) [Even Strength]

Game Time: Thursday, Approximately 9:22 PM EDT

This is the can’t miss game of the Sweet 16.  Both teams are strong in every aspect of the game.  Nary of foot of the court will be free parking for either team.  It will be a fast-paced game with the players on both teams trying to show up their opponents.

 

Yes, we picked Memphis to make it to the Championship Game and win it all, but we are not so sure they are the true favorite in this game.  Missouri won’t be intimidated, and if the Memphians come out flat like they did in the first round, Mizzou’s fast break game will quickly run out to a double-digit game.

 

All in all, we think Memphis will be pumped to play the Big 12 Tournament Champions.  This is a border war game, and neither team should be flat.  We’re going with Memphis only because we picked them to win the title.  In reality, we think this is a 50-50 contest.

 

Prediction: Memphis 77 Missouri 75

 

Come back Friday for a look at Saturday’s games and Saturday for a look at Sunday’s games.

April 4, 2008

A ONEderful Final Four–April 4, 2008

 

A ONEderful Final Four

Wow!  All four number one seeds have advanced to the Final Four for the first time since teams began to be seeded in the NCAA Tournament.  I did a little research and went back 60 years trying to find a year where the top team in each region advanced to the Final Four, and I couldn’t find another season where such a thing happened.  I found only one year where the four semifinalists were all ranked in the final regular season Top Five.  In 1970, UCLA, St. Bonaventure, Jacksonville, and New Mexico State finished the regular season ranked second, third, fourth, and fifth respectively.  Number one Kentucky fell to Jacksonville in the Mid-east Regional Finals.  The 1970 Final Four entered semifinal play with an incredible combined record of 103-6 (143-9 this year).  Jacksonville, led by twin towers Artis Gilmore and Pembrook Burroughs downed St. Bonaventure, who was missing superstar center Bob Lanier.  UCLA, a team that was not picked to win its conference after losing Kareem Abdul Jabbar to the Milwaukee Bucks, turned out to have the best frontline trio in the nation with Steve Patterson, Sidney Wicks, and Curtis Rowe, combined with fabulous guards Henry Bibby and John Vallely.  The Bruins dismissed New Mexico State.  In the title game, Wicks did the unbelievable by blocking shots by Gilmore multiple times, leading the Bruins to their fourth consecutive title and sixth in the last seven seasons.

This Final Four is the first one in many years where a good case could be made for any of the quartet to win all the marbles.  All four teams have unique features that other teams will have a tough time stopping or attacking, yet all four teams have Achilles’ heals that can be exploited.   If the semifinal matchups were best of seven series, I would expect both to go seven games.  This doesn’t mean that the three final games will be nail-biters; it means that any of this group could potentially blow out any of the other teams.

Here is a breakdown of the two Semi-final Games.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

6:07 PM EDT

UCLA 35-3  vs. Memphis 37-1

UCLA

Stat

Memphis

73.8

PPG

80.3

58.5

Def PPG

61.6

47.9

FG%

46.9

41.8

Def. FG%

38.8

35.1

3pt %

35.1

32.3

Def 3pt %

30.3

73.0

FT%

60.7

+8.6

Reb. Margin

+6.6

+1.8

TO Margin

+4.2

7.3

Stls/G

8.4

4.3

Blk/G

6.2

11.8

R+T

15.1

15

PiRate

19

57.71

SOS

57.49

 

For explanation of R+T, PiRate, and SOS, see Bracketnomics 505 from March 17, 2008, and the subsequent blog story of March 18, 2008.  I have adjusted SOS by already multiplying by 100.

Starters

Center

UCLA: #42 Kevin Love, 6-10 260 Fr.

17.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 56.5% FG, 36.3% 3pt, 76.4% FT, 1.9 ast, 1.4 blk, 0.7 stl

Memphis: #3 Joey Dorsey, 6-9 260 Sr. (plays this position as a forward)

7.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 65.2% FG, 0-1 3pt, 37.8% FT, 0.5 ast, 1.9 blk, 1.1 stl

Power Forward

UCLA: #23 Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6-8 230 Jr.

8.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 48.3% FG, 20.0% 3pt, 68.1% FT, 1.6 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.1 stl

Memphis: #2 Robert Dozier, 6-9 215 Jr.

9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 44.4% FG, 29.0% 3pt, 67.5% FT, 1.0 ast, 1.8 blk, 1.1 stl

Small Forward

UCLA: #3 Josh Shipp, 6-5 220 Jr.

12.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 43.7% FG, 32.4% 3pt, 78.6% FT, 2.2 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.4 stl

Memphis: #14 Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6-6 200 Jr.

17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 54.5% FG, 41.6% 3pt, 70.9% FT, 1.8 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.2 stl

Shooting Guard

UCLA: #0 Russell Westbrook, 6-3 187 So.

12.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 46.2 FG%, 32.4% 3pt, 71.3% FT, 4.3 ast, 0.2 blk, 1.6 stl

Memphis: #5 Antonio Anderson, 6-6 200 Jr.

8.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 40.9% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 57.7% FT, 3.5 ast, 0.3 blk, 1.2 stl

Point Guard

UCLA: #2 Darren Collison, 6-1 165 Jr.

14.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 49.1% FG, 53.0% 3pt, 87.2% FT, 3.8 ast, 0.1 blk, 1.8 stl

Memphis: #23 Derrick Rose, 6-4 195 Fr.

14.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 48.1% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 69.8% FT, 4.7 ast, 0.4 blk, 1.2 stl

Key Reserves

UCLA

#14 Lorenzo Mata-Real, 6-9 240 Sr. C

3.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg

#12 Alfred Aboya, 6-8 235 Jr. F/C

2.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg

#13 James Keefe, 6-8 220 So. F

2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Memphis

#20 Doneal Mack, 6-5 170 So. G/F

7.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg

#0 Shawn Taggart, 6-3 230 So. F/C

6.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg

#1 Willie Kemp, 6-2 165 So. G

5.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg

Note: Backup point guard Andre Allen has been suspended for the Final Four.

My Guess at the Game

UCLA will slow the tempo down in this game and force Memphis to beat them in a half-court game.  The Bruins talented backcourt should not have too much difficulty avoiding the costly turnovers that lead to cheap baskets for Memphis.  The Tigers will need a half-dozen cheap baskets to win this one.

UCLA will isolate Love and/or Mbah a Moute down low with the hopes of forcing Dorsey to foul.  Dorsey has a problem with fouling in the paint, and he will have to log at least 30 minutes for the Tigers to compete.

If the game becomes an issue of depth, the sons of Westwood have superior inside reserves, while the bullies from the Bluff have superior perimeter reserves.

Basically, when two outstanding teams face off on a neutral court, you look at which team will get more scoring chances by way of rebounding and turnover margin, and you look at which team is likely to get more high percentage shot opportunities.

When I look at all the statistics and talent, I definitely see evidence that UCLA will win the battle of the boards by a moderate amount, while Memphis forces the Bruins into a few extra turnovers.  It comes down to who gets the open shots.  I don’t think the Bruins will give up more than a handful of easy shots, while Memphis will gamble for steals and give up some open looks.   I look for Darren Collison to burn the Tigers from outside and open up the lane for Love about 12 minutes into the game.  It will lead to Dorsey committing some fouls and having to go to the bench.  When that happens, UCLA will get some offensive rebounds and putbacks.  Look for UCLA to advance to the title game.

Prediction: UCLA 67  Memphis 59

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Approximately 8:47 PM EDT

Kansas 35-3  vs. North Carolina 36-2

Kansas

Stat

N. Carolina

80.6

PPG

89.2

61.2

Def PPG

72.2

50.7

FG%

49.1

37.9

Def. FG%

42.3

40.1

3pt %

37.9

33.3

Def 3pt %

32.6

69.6

FT%

75.5

+7.7

Reb. Margin

+11.5

+2.6

TO Margin

+1.8

8.8

Stls/G

8.2

5.9

Blk/G

4.5

13.2

R+T

15.0

19

PiRate

15

55.94

SOS

59.21

Starters

Center

Kansas: #00 Darrell Arthur, 6-9 225 So.

12.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 54.3% FG, 16.7% 3pt, 69.6% FT, 0.8 ast, 1.3 blk, 0.5 stl

North Carolina: #50 Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9 250 Jr.

22.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 54.2% FG, 0% 3pt, 80.6% FT, 0.9 ast, 0.3 blk, 1.5 stl

Power Forward

Kansas: #32 Darnell Jackson, 6-8, 250 Sr.

11.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 62.0% FG, 2-6 3pt, 68.3% FT, 1.1 ast, 0.5 blk, 0.7 stl

North Carolina: #21 Deon Thompson, 6-8 240 So.

8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 48.1% FG, 0% 3pt, 58.6% FT, 1.1 ast, 1.3 blk, 0.7 stl

Small Forward

Kansas: #25 Brandon Rush, 6-6 210 Jr.

13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 42.3% FG, 42.9% 3pt, 79.0% FT, 2.1 ast, 0.8 blk, 0.9 stl

North Carolina: #1 Marcus Ginyard, 6-5 218 Jr.

7.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 44.7% FG, 42.9% 3pt, 64.9% FT, 2.2 ast, 0.1 blk, 1.1 stl

Shooting Guard

Kansas: #15 Mario Chalmers, 6-1 190 Jr.

12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 52.2% FG, 47.6% 3pt, 74.6% FT, 4.4 ast, 0.6 blk, 2.4 stl

North Carolina: #22 Wayne Ellington, 6-4 200 So.

16.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 47.1% FG, 41.4% 3pt, 82.5% FT, 2.1 ast, 0.2 blk, 1.1 stl

Point Guard

Kansas: #3 Russell Robinson, 6-1 205 Sr.

7.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 42.2% FG, 32.1% 3pt, 77.5% FT, 4.1 ast, 0.4 blk, 2.0 stl

North Carolina: #5 Ty Lawson, 5-11 195 So.

12.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 52.3% FG, 35.8% 3pt, 82.9% FT, 5.3 ast, 0.0 blk (1), 1.6 stl

Key Reserves

Kansas

#4 Sherron Collins, 5-11 205 So. G

9.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg

#24 Sasha Kaun, 6-11 250 Sr. C

7.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg

#5 Rodrick Stewart, 6-4, 200 Sr. G

2.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg

North Carolina

#14 Danny Green, 6-6 210 Jr. F/G

11.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg

#32 Alex Stepheson, 6-9 235 So. F/C

4.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg

#11 Quentin Thomas, 6-3 190 Sr. G

3.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg

My Guess at the Game

This has the potential to rank among the best semifinal games in the last 50 years (a list of some great ones follows this preview).

Much like the first game, this game will be won by the team that gets the combination of the most extra scoring opportunities and best looks at the basket.  Can any team playing North Carolina keep the rebounding margin at a stand-off?  Kansas can probably keep the Tar Heel advantage at a minimum and then offset that advantage by winning the turnover margin battle.  That means this game will be decided by shot selection and prevention of good shots.  If that is the case, Kansas is one of the best, if not the best, teams at winning the battle for high percentage shots.

North Carolina still has the ace in the hole in Hansbrough.  He can neutralize the perceived Jayhawk advantage by matching the entire Arthur and Jackson combined in scoring and rebounding.  Again, I think the frontcourts of both teams are basically even.

In the backcourt, I see a decided advantage that I think will eventually tilt the game in the winner’s advantage.  North Carolina has a terrific trio in Ellington, Lawson, and Green.  The Tar Heel guards can destroy an opponent in a matter of two minutes with a fast-break outburst.  One momentary lapse can lead to a 10-0 Carolina run.

So, you see me picking the Tar Heels, yes?  No!  I see Kansas with the advantage in the backcourt.  The Jayhawks perimeter players, Rush, Chalmers, Robinson, Collins, and Stewart, are the best combined quintet of guards in the nation.  As a whole, this group has superior scoring ability from the outside (Chalmers & Rush), the best penetrator to the hoop (Rush), excellent passing (Chalmers, Robinson, Collins), excellent ball hawks (Chalmers & Robinson), excellent defenders on the ball (all five, especially Rush), and even some added rebounding strength (Rush & Chalmers).  Collins could not only start on most of the other NCAA Tournament teams, he could be an all-conference player on most of them!

I see Kansas controlling the tempo for most of the game and preventing North Carolina from making any great, extended scoring runs.  Kansas had its shock game against Davidson, and the Jayhawks have yet to play their best game in this tournament.  I think they will Saturday, and I think it will put them in the Title Game on Monday Night.

Prediction: Kansas 77  North Carolina 73

My List of the 20 Best Semifinal Games in Last 50 Seasons

1959: California 64  Cincinnati 58

1962: Cincinnati 72  UCLA 70

1968: UCLA 101  Houston 69

1969: UCLA 85  Drake 82

1971: Villanova 92   Western Kentucky 89 2ot

1973: UCLA 70  Indiana 59

1974: North Carolina State 80  UCLA 77 2ot

1975: UCLA 75  Louisville 74 ot

1977: North Carolina 84  UNLV 83

          Marquette 51  UNCC 49

1978: Duke 90  Notre Dame 86

1983: Houston 94  Louisville 81

1987: Indiana 97  UNLV 93

1989: Michigan 83  Illinois 81

1991: Duke 79  UNLV 77

          Kansas 79  North Carolina 73

1992: Duke 81  Indiana 78

1996: Kentucky 81  U Mass. 74

1998: Kentucky 86  Stanford 85 ot

2004: Connecticut 79  Duke 78

March 28, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Finals–March 29, 2008

The Elitist of the Elite

A PiRate Preview of The Regional Final Games-March 29, 2008

Eight teams are left, and only Davidson, a team with a 25-game winning streak can be considered a surprise.  Xavier and Louisville may not have been expected to get this far, but both the Musketeers and Cardinals are no big surprises.

All four number one seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight.  Can all four make it to the Final Four for the first time since the current 64/65-team format has been in effect?  It’s possible, but it’s also possible that two of the four top-seeded teams could lose.

Of the eight Sweet 16 round games, seven of them were dull games.  Only the Xavier-West Virginia game was worth watching from start to finish.  Let’s hope the Regional Final games are a little more exciting.

In the statistics shown below, the records are up to date, but the stats do not include the Regional Semifinal games.  Those will be included in next week’s Final Four Previews.

Note:  In the statistics below, you will see a column marked other.  “B” means the player is an exceptional shot blocker.  “S” means the player is exceptional at stealing the ball.  “A” means the player is an excellent passer for assists.  “F” means the player is foul-prone.

West Regional-Phoenix

Saturday, March 29, 2008

6:40 PM EDT

#3 Xavier vs. #1 UCLA

Xavier Musketeers

Record: 30-6

Head Coach: Sean Miller

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

31

Jason Love

F/C

6-09

255

So.

6.1

5.4

57.4

0.0

60.4

B

5

Derrick Brown

F

6-08

225

So.

10.9

6.7

60.2

34.5

72.1

20

C.J. Anderson

F/G

6-06

220

Jr.

10.7

5.9

52.3

0.0

67.3

34

Stanley Burrell

G

6-03

210

Sr.

9.8

2.1

39.1

38.9

83.1

A

24

Drew Lavender

G

5-07

153

Sr.

11.0

2.6

43.6

40.4

86.8

A

KEY RESERVES %

1

Josh Duncan

F

6-09

235

Sr.

12.1

4.7

50.4

41.8

85.4

F

11

B.J. Raymond

G/F

6-06

225

Jr.

10.1

3.1

44.9

41.1

86.1

25

Dante’ Jackson

G

6-05

205

Fr.

2.4

1.2

35.4

38.1

61.5

S/F

Statistical Analysis

XAV

Stat

Opp

Difference

47.8

FG%

40.6

7.2

39.1

3pt%

33.7

5.4

75.5

FT%

67.6

7.9

35.8

Reb

30.2

5.6

13.1

TO

13.0

-0.1

3.4

BK

3.6

-0.2

5.6

STL

6.6

-1.0

15.3

AST

13.1

2.2

R+T  #

5.47

75.5

PPG

62.7

12.8

PiRate Score

8 *

Schedule Strength

.5720

(*) Missed being 10 by very little

(#) For an explanation of R+T, PiRate Score, and Schedule

Strength, see “Bracketnomics 505” posted on 3/17/08

& how point values are assigned posted on 3/18/08

NCAA Tournament Results

Georgia

73-61

Purdue

85-78

West Virginia

79-75 ot

U C L A  Bruins

Record: 34-3

Head Coach: Ben Howland

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

42

Kevin Love

C

6-10

271

Fr.

17.3

10.6

55.7

36.5

76.5

B

23

Luc Rich. Mbah a Moute

F

6-08

232

Jr.

8.6

5.5

47.9

20.0

69.4

3

Josh Shipp

F/G

6-05

220

Jr.

12.4

3.2

44.0

32.5

79.2

S

2

Darren Collison

G

6-00

160

Jr.

15.1

2.6

49.4

51.6

87.6

S/A

0

Russell Westbrook

G

6-03

185

So.

12.3

3.8

46.8

31.9

70.5

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

14

Mata-Real, Lorenzo

C

6-09

235

Sr.

3.3

3.7

50.0

0.0

45.2

B/F

12

Alfred Aboya

F/C

6-09

245

Jr.

3.1

2.3

50.0

33.3

52.8

F

41

Dragovic, Nikola

F

6-09

215

So.

2.6

1.4

33.9

23.8

12-12

13

James Keefe

G

6-08

225

So.

2.1

2.4

44.2

28.6

35.7

F

Statistical Analysis

UCLA

Stat

Opp

Difference

47.6

FG%

42.2

5.4

34.6

3pt%

32.5

2.1

73.0

FT%

67.0

6.0

36.3

Reb

27.9

8.4

12.4

TO

14.7

2.3

4.1

BK

2.6

1.5

7.4

STL

4.7

2.7

14.4

AST

11.3

3.1

R+T  #

12.48

73.3

PPG

58.0

15.3

PiRate Score

15

Schedule Strength

.5751

NCAA Tournament Results

Mississippi Valley

70-29

Texas A&M

51-49

Western Kentucky

88-78

UCLA is looking to become the first team since Duke to make it to three consecutive Final Fours.  Of Course the Bruins went to the Final Four every year from 1967 through 1975, so three in a row is now big deal in Westwood.

Xavier is looking to become the first team from the Queen City to make the Final Four since Cincinnati did so in 1992 (The Bearcats also own a five consecutive streak from 1959-1963).

UCLA has a huge intangible in its favor.  The Bruins keep getting the benefit of several officials’ mistakes.  Going back to the end of the regular season when they won back-to-back games over Stanford and California, both ending in controversy, to the Pac-10 Tournament where they won a close game over Southern Cal, to the Texas A&M game in the second round of the Big Dance where the Bruins players were allowed to hold and push with no fouls being called, where the Aggies’ players were whistled for entering the same Zip Code, and it is a pattern that cannot be ignored.  I’m not saying this is a conspiracy.  I’m saying its probably human nature taking its course.  UCLA always got the benefit of the doubt during their great dynasty years.  I remember watching them foul Maryland all over the gym in December of 1973, while Maryland couldn’t get within an arm’s length without being whistled.  Somehow, the Terps had a chance to win at the end that night, but fell short by one basket.

UCLA probably doesn’t need any help to win this game, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them benefit from a few calls or non-calls by the zebras.  While Xavier has the talent to keep this game close, I’m expecting the sons of Westwood to march to the Final Four with a victory.  The matchup between UCLA’s Kevin Love and Xavier’s Jason Love will be what decides this game, and we can make an educated guess which player will win.

Prediction: UCLA 73  Xavier 64

East Regional-Charlotte

Saturday, March 29, 2008

9:05 PM EDT

#3 Louisville vs. #1 North Carolina

 

Louisville Cardinals

Record: 27-8

Head Coach: Rick Pitino

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

4

David Padgett

F/C

6-11

245

Sr.

11.4

4.5

67.7

0.0

65.2

F

1

Terrence Williams

F

6-06

210

Jr.

11.0

7.3

40.5

34.3

56.7

S/A

5

Earl Clark

F/G

6-08

220

So.

10.9

8.0

46.2

23.1

65.5

B

34

Jerry Smith

G

6-01

200

So.

10.5

3.6

44.8

37.7

77.6

S

33

Andre McGee

G

5-10

180

Jr.

6.4

1.6

40.4

40.3

69.8

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

32

Derrick Caracter

F/C

6-09

265

So.

8.5

4.5

55.7

1 of 1

63.1

B/F

10

Edgar Sosa

G

6-01

175

So.

7.6

1.7

38.5

37.4

63.6

3

Juan Palacios

F/C

6-08

250

Sr.

6.4

4.0

44.5

31.3

70.5

S

Statistical Analysis

U of L

Stat

Opp

Difference

46.0

FG%

38.4

7.6

35.2

3pt%

30.6

4.6

64.4

FT%

67.7

-3.3

37.3

Reb

34.5

2.8

13.3

TO

14.6

1.3

4.9

BK

2.7

2.2

8.1

STL

5.7

2.4

15.1

AST

12.2

2.9

R+T  #

5.33

72.3

PPG

60.9

11.4

PiRate Score

9

Schedule Strength

.5852

NCAA Tournament Results

Boise State

79-61

Oklahoma

78-48

Tennessee

79-60

North Carolina Tar Heels

Record: 35-2

Head Coach: Roy Williams

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

50

Tyler Hansbrough

F

6-09

250

Jr.

22.8

10.2

54.1

0.0

81.2

S

21

Deon Thompson

F

6-08

240

So.

8.5

4.8

47.7

0.0

58.6

B/F

1

Marcus Ginyard

G-F

6-05

218

Jr.

7.4

4.5

44.6

42.9

66.3

S

22

Wayne Ellington

G

6-04

200

So.

16.8

4.3

47.9

42.1

81.5

5

Ty Lawson

G

5-11

195

So.

12.9

2.7

52.8

36.0

82.5

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

14

Danny Green

G-F

6-05

210

Jr.

11.3

5.0

46.8

37.1

86.3

BSAF

32

Alex Stepheson

F

6-09

235

So.

4.4

4.8

53.2

0.0

43.2

B/F

11

Quentin Thomas

G

6-03

190

Sr.

3.4

1.5

57.3

25.0

78.1

A

4

Bobby Frasor

G

6-03

208

Jr.

3.2

1.8

34.2

30.0

50.0

S/A

Statistical Analysis

UNC

Stat

Opp

Difference

49.1

FG%

42.4

6.7

38.3

3pt%

33.0

5.3

75.4

FT%

66.9

8.5

44.0

Reb

32.4

11.6

14.3

TO

16.1

1.8

4.6

BK

4.9

-0.3

8.3

STL

7.9

0.4

17.3

AST

13.7

3.6

R+T  #

15.19

89.9

PPG

72.9

17.0

PiRate Score

17

Schedule Strength

.5921

NCAA Tournament Results

Mount St. Mary’s

113-74

Arkansas

108-77

Washington State

68-47

Louisville Coach Rick Pitino has his Cardinals playing the best half-court defense of any team he has ever coached, including his 1996 national champs at Kentucky.  What UL did to Tennessee was amazing Thursday night.  However, for the Cards to have any chance of getting to the Final Four, they will have to play even better defensively tonight.

North Carolina is an unstoppable force right now.  Sure, Washington State held them to 67 points, but the Cougars didn’t do it with great defense.  They slowed the game down, making it a low possession game.  UNC still had a fantastic points per possession stat in the game.

I expect the Tar Heels to get their first taste of playing in an NCAA Tournament game that isn’t decided by the under 12 timeout in the first half.  The Heels may even get extended into the second half before they put this one away.

Prediction: North Carolina 78  Louisville 69

South Regional-Houston

Sunday, March 30, 2008

2:20 PM EDT

#2 Texas vs. #1 Memphis

Texas Longhorns

Record: 31-6

Head Coach: Rick Barnes

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

32

Connor Atchley

F/C

6-10

225

Jr.

19.2

2.9

44.3

38.0

77.9

B

5

Damion James

F/G

6-07

227

Jr.

13.2

10.7

46.4

44.6

56.3

B

24

Justin Mason

G

6-02

185

So.

7.1

4.3

42.2

34.2

66.2

A

3

A.J. Abrams

G

5-10

155

Jr.

16.6

2.8

42.8

38.1

80.9

14

D.J. Augustin

G

5-11

175

So.

19.2

2.9

44.3

38.0

77.9

A

KEY RESERVES %

1

Gary Johnson

F

6-07

235

Fr.

5.7

4.0

41.6

0.0

55.6

F

34

Dexter Pittman

C

6-10

293

So.

2.7

2.3

54.8

0.0

60.5

B/F

15

Alexis Wangmene

F/C

6-08

240

Fr.

2.2

2.4

42.3

0.0

66.0

B/F

Statistical Analysis

UT

Stat

Opp

Difference

45.3

FG%

38.8

6.5

39.1

3pt%

32.6

6.5

68.2

FT%

67.9

0.3

38.1

Reb

35.1

3.0

9.6

TO

12.1

2.5

5.3

BK

2.8

2.5

6.0

STL

4.6

1.4

13.1

AST

12.4

0.7

R+T  #

6.60

75.5

PPG

64.4

11.1

PiRate Score

9

Schedule Strength

.5950

NCAA Tournament Results

Austin Peay

74-54

Miami (Fla.)

75-72

Stanford

82-62

Memphis Tigers

Record: 36-1

Head Coach: John Calipari

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

3

Joey Dorsey

F/C

6-09

265

Jr.

7.0

9.7

64.7

0.0

37.9

B/F

2

Robert Dozier

F

6-09

215

Jr.

9.4

6.7

45.1

29.0

68.5

B

14

Chris Douglas-Roberts

G/F

6-07

200

Jr.

17.3

4.2

54.7

42.7

68.4

5

Antonio Anderson

G

6-06

210

Jr.

8.4

3.7

40.9

32.8

56.6

A

23

Derrick Rose

G

6-03

205

Fr.

14.1

4.3

46.9

35.1

68.4

A

KEY RESERVES %

20

Doneal Mack

G

6-05

175

So.

7.7

1.8

39.7

37.1

66.7

F

0

Shawn Taggart

F/C

6-10

230

So.

5.8

4.2

51.0

37.5

63.9

B/F

1

Willie Kemp

G

6-02

175

So.

5.3

1.1

38.2

36.6

57.1

F

15

Andre Allen

G

5-10

205

Sr.

3.4

1.2

31.5

29.6

40.6

F

Statistical Analysis

Mem

Stat

Opp

Difference

46.6

FG%

38.5

8.1

35.3

3pt%

30.3

5.0

59.2

FT%

66.9

-7.7

40.9

Reb

34.2

6.7

12.0

TO

16.3

4.3

6.2

BK

3.3

2.9

8.5

STL

5.8

2.7

16.2

AST

10.7

5.5

R+T  #

15.47

79.8

PPG

61.1

18.7

PiRate Score

19

Schedule Strength

.5749

NCAA Tournament Results

Texas-Arlington

87-63

Mississippi State

77-74

Michigan State

92-74

Memphis looked every bit as talented as the UNLV 1990-91 team Friday Night against Michigan State.  Sure, they surrendered some easy baskets, but they out-rebounded a Tom Izzo-coached team by nine boards!  That doesn’t happen often, if ever.  When you have a player like Derrick Rose, who can come off the bench and score 27 points and Robert Dozier who can almost record a double double while playing just half the game, and you see how complete this team really is.  Who says the Tigers cannot hit free throws?  26-35 is going to win a lot of close games.

Texas isn’t just horse fodder.  The Longhorns are talented enough to advance to the title game.  Just imagine how great this team would be if Kevin Durant had decided to play just one more season.  D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams won’t be intimidated by the Tigers’ defense, and the deadly duo can force Memphis to become lax in the paint.  Then, Connor Atchley and Damion James will take over inside. 

Give Texas some home court advantage for playing in Houston, but give Memphis that little extra to get over the hump and avoid falling in the Elite Eight round for the third consecutive year.  They won’t be denied a third straight time-not with this much talent.

Prediction: Memphis 78  Texas 75

Midwest Regional-Detroit

Sunday, March 30, 2008

5:05 PM EDT

#10 Davidson vs. #1 Kansas

Davidson Wildcats

Record: 29-6

Head Coach: Bob McKillop

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

15

Thomas Sander

F

6-08

220

Sr.

7.6

4.9

57.9

23.1

53.3

F

41

Andrew Lovedale

F

6-08

215

Jr.

6.7

5.4

53.6

0.0

66.7

F

14

Max Paulhus Gosselin

G/F

6-06

205

Jr.

3.6

3.5

36.7

12.5

65.5

S

30

Stephen Curry

G

6-03

185

So.

25.7

4.6

48.8

44.4

88.8

S/A

2

Jason Richards

G

6-02

185

Sr.

12.9

3.1

41.8

32.4

74.8

A

KEY RESERVES %

5

Boris Meno

F

6-08

230

Sr.

7.3

5.6

49.5

5.6

66.7

22

Will Archambault

G/F

6-06

210

So.

5.2

1.9

39.1

27.8

69.0

F

24

Bryant Barr

G

6-04

195

So.

5.1

1.0

38.9

40.5

64.7

23

Stephen Rossiter

F

6-07

230

So.

3.1

3.4

60.3

0.0

67.6

S/F

Statistical Analysis

DC

Stat

Opp

Difference

47.1

FG%

42.3

4.8

36.2

3pt%

35.6

0.6

72.3

FT%

63.1

9.2

36.6

Reb

32.7

3.9

12.1

TO

16.9

4.8

3.3

BK

2.4

0.9

8.1

STL

5.6

2.5

17.1

AST

13.5

3.6

R+T  #

13.23

78.6

PPG

63.5

15.1

PiRate Score

14

Schedule Strength

.5252

NCAA Tournament Results

Gonzaga

82-76

Georgetown

74-70

Wisconsin

73-56

Kansas Jayhawks

Record: 34-3

Head Coach: Bill Self

No.

Player

Pos

Height

Weight

Cl.

Pts.

Reb.

FG%

3pt%

FT%

Other *

STARTERS

32

Darnell Jackson

F

6-08

250

Sr.

11.5

6.7

62.3

33.3

69.5

0

Darrell Arthur

F

6-09

225

So.

13.1

6.2

54.0

16.7

70.4

B/F

25

Brandon Rush

G/F

6-06

210

Jr.

13.0

5.0

42.5

43.9

77.6

15

Mario Chalmers

G

6-01

195

Jr.

12.6

3.1

52.5

47.1

73.3

S/A

3

Russell Robinson

G

6-01

205

Sr.

7.4

2.8

42.3

31.3

76.6

S/A

KEY RESERVES %

4

Sherron Collins

G

5-11

205

So.

9.5

2.0

47.9

36.8

76.5

S/A

24

Sasha Kaun

C

6-11

250

Sr.

7.1

3.9

61.1

0.0

54.4

B/F

45

Cole Aldrich

C

6-11

240

Fr.

2.9

3.1

51.9

0.0

64.7

B/F

5

Rodrick Stewart

G

6-04

200

Sr.

2.9

2.3

49.3

31.3

60.7

Statistical Analysis

KU

Stat

Opp

Difference

50.8

FG%

38.0

12.8

40.1

3pt%

33.7

6.4

69.6

FT%

68.4

1.2

38.8

Reb

30.9

7.9

12.8

TO

15.8

3.0

6.0

BK

2.6

3.4

8.9

STL

6.2

2.7

18.4

AST

11.3

7.1

R+T  #

14.31

81.4

PPG

61.4

20.0

PiRate Score

21

Schedule Strength

.5594

NCAA Tournament Results

Portland State

85-61

UNLV

75-56

Villanova

72-57

I have to admit that Stephen Curry and company did something I didn’t think they could do-they blew Wisconsin off the floor Friday night.  I underestimated just how fluid the Wildcats play.  This is actually their third trip to the Elite 8, with the other two coming in 1968 and 1969 (they lost both times to North Carolina by one possession).

Kansas is the team to beat.  The Jayhawks can dominate the game at both ends of the floor and in the stat book,  as they showed against ‘Nova Friday night.  I believe the Jayhawk defense will be able to combat the numerous perimeter screens set and keep Curry from putting up numbers reminiscent of Austin Carr when he played in the NCAA Tournament for Notre Dame.

I’m going with the Jayhawks, because I think they are as good as any National Champion in the last quarter century.  Davidson won’t lose because they are a small school from the Southern Conference.  In my opinion any other team in the field would also lose if they played Kansas in the Elite 8.

Prediction: Kansas 75  Davidson 60

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