The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 21, 2012

2012-13 NCAA Simulated Football Playoffs–Semifinal Round

The Road To Simper Bowl VI

The first two rounds of the 2012-13 PiRate Simulated College Football Playoffs are in the books.  The number 5-12 seeds squared off in the opening round with the top four seeds receiving byes.  The quarterfinal round was played last week, and we are down to the Final Four.


To see the first round results, go to:


To see the second round results, go to:


The semifinal round was simulated earlier this morning. 


The Pairings


(5) Oregon 13-1  at  (1) Notre Dame 13-0

(3) Ohio State 13-0  at  (2) Alabama 13-1


Note: Ohio State was awarded the Big Ten’s automatic bid per PiRate Ratings Computer Simulated Rules.  To see how this works, go to:


The Results

Oregon 29  Notre Dame 23









First Downs



Rush Attempts



Rush Yards



Pass Completions



Pass Attempts



Pass Yards






Punt Average



Punt Returns



Kick Returns









Def: Sack-Yds






Total Yards




Alabama 19  Ohio State 16  (2 overtimes)









First Downs



Rush Attempts



Rush Yards



Pass Completions



Pass Attempts



Pass Yards






Punt Average



Punt Returns



Kick Returns









Def: Sack-Yds






Total Yards



Simper Bowl VI is now set.  #2 Seed Alabama (14-1) takes on #5 Seed Oregon (14-1) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, next Friday, December 28, 2012.


Oregon is the defending Simper Bowl Champions.  Only one other team has won back-to-back Simper Bowls.  Southern California won the first two Simper Bowls in the 2007 and 2008 seasons.


Oddly, Alabama has not won a Simper Bowl.

December 14, 2012

2012-13 NCAA Simulated Football Playoffs–Quarterfinal Round

The Road To Simper Bowl VI

The Opening Round of the 2012-13 PiRate Simulated College Football Playoffs is in the books.  The number 5-12 seeds squared off with the top four seeds receiving byes.


To see the first round results, go to:


Today’s results were accidentally erased, and the entire round had to be re-simulated.  The same four teams won the second simulations, so no real damage was done.


Here were the four quarterfinal game combatants.

#9 Seed: Stanford (12-2) at #1 Seed: Notre Dame (12-0)

#7 Seed: Georgia (12-2) at #2 Seed: Alabama (12-1)

#6 Seed: Kansas St. (12-1) at #3 Seed: Ohio State (12-0)

#5 Seed: Oregon (12-1) at #4 Seed: Florida (11-1)


Here are the results.


(1) Notre Dame 19  (9) Stanford 17









First Downs



Rush Attempts



Rush Yards



Pass Completions



Pass Attempts



Pass Yards






Punt Average



Punt Returns



Kick Returns









Def: Sack-Yds






Total Yards




(2) Alabama 24  (7) Georgia 16









First Downs



Rush Attempts



Rush Yards



Pass Completions



Pass Attempts



Pass Yards






Punt Average



Punt Returns



Kick Returns









Def: Sack-Yds






Total Yards




(3) Ohio State 30  (6) Kansas State 20









First Downs



Rush Attempts



Rush Yards



Pass Completions



Pass Attempts



Pass Yards






Punt Average



Punt Returns



Kick Returns









Def: Sack-Yds






Total Yards




(5) Oregon 34  (4) Florida 20









First Downs



Rush Attempts



Rush Yards



Pass Completions



Pass Attempts



Pass Yards






Punt Average



Punt Returns



Kick Returns









Def: Sack-Yds






Total Yards




The Final Four is now set.  The semifinal round will be simulated next Friday, December 21.  Here are the pairings.


(5) Oregon 13-1  at  (1) Notre Dame 13-0

(3) Ohio State 13-0  at  (2) Alabama 13-1


Note: Ohio State was awarded the Big Ten’s automatic bid per PiRate Ratings Computer Simulated Rules.  To see how this works, go to:


See you next Friday with the semifinals.  The final round will be simulated on Friday, December 28.

November 19, 2012

PiRate Ratings For College Football: November 20-24, 2012

Will There Be 70?

Sunday, the University of Miami self-imposed a bowl ban, and with that the Hurricanes will not be eligible for the ACC Championship Game.


That brings to four the number of bowl eligible teams that will not be in bowls this year—Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, and Miami.


This presents a problem for the bowls.  With 35 bowls, 70 bowl-eligible teams are required.  As of today, only 63 teams are bowl eligible.  Additionally, Georgia Tech could now be looking at a 6-7 record if they lose to Georgia this week and Florida State in the ACC Championship Game next week.  The Yellow Jackets would be allowed to go bowling, just like UCLA last year.


Let’s take a look at the conference-by-conference bowl outlook.


Atlantic Coast Conference

Florida State is virtually assured of going to the Orange Bowl.  The Seminoles wrapped up the Atlantic Division title with a win over Maryland, who has started as many quarterbacks as they have jersey combinations.  FSU can play spoiler this week when they host rival Florida.  A win over the Gators could keep Florida out of a possible National Championship Game (Georgia would have to lose to Georgia Tech and beat Alabama, or Alabama would have to lose to Auburn and beat Georgia).


Clemson appeared to be a lock for a BCS at-large bowl bid if they beat South Carolina, but now that is not so certain.  In fact, it is unlikely, unless Oklahoma loses another game.  The Tigers must root for UCLA to pull off another upset and beat Stanford this week and then lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  If Oregon isn’t in the Rose Bowl, they will be in another BCS Bowl, and that will not leave a bid for an 11-1 Clemson team.  Of course, CU has to beat South Carolina, and that is not a given.


North Carolina State is the only other bowl eligible team from the Atlantic Division.  Wake Forest is 5-6, and the Deacons must win at home against 7-4 Vanderbilt this week to become bowl eligible.  Vandy beat Wake last year 41-7.


With Miami and North Carolina both out of the picture, the ACC faces the same dilemma as the Big Ten.  The Coastal Division will send the number three team to the title game.  Georgia Tech will probably be 6-6 and playing in that game.


Duke is bowl eligible, and the Blue Devils are staring at a 6-6 record and four consecutive losses to end the regular season.  Virginia Tech is 5-6 and defeat Virginia this weekend to make it to a bowl.


If the Hokies and Deacons fail to win this week, and if Clemson sneaks into a BCS Bowl game, the ACC is going to fall four teams short in its bowl responsibilities.  That would force the Belk, Music City, Independence, and Military bowls to find at-large entries.  We think VT will win this week, while Wake Forest loses.  We are going to be generous to the ACC bowl tie-ins and say that Clemson will not receive a BCS at-large bowl bid.  That leaves the league just two bowls short this year.


Thanks to Under Armor, it looks like Maryland could be leaving the ACC for the Big Ten.  Will the Terps continue their trend of multiplicity?



1. BCS (Orange): Florida State

2. Chick-fil-A: Clemson

3. Russell Athletic: North Carolina St.

4. Sun: Georgia Tech

5. Belk: Virginia Tech

6. Music City: Duke

7. Independence: None Available

8. Military: None Available


Big East Conference

There are four bowl eligible teams for six bowl tie-ins, but at least the Big East still has a chance to fill the fifth and sixth bowls (we believe they will not fill those slots).


Rutgers and Louisville are the two contenders for the automatic BCS Bowl bid, and the winner of their November 29 game will become the last team chosen in the BCS Bowl pecking order (The Orange Bowl).  By the way, if Maryland leaves the ACC for the Big Ten, it looks like Rutgers will leave the Big East and join the Terps.


Cincinnati and Syracuse are the other two bowl eligible teams.  Syracuse is almost a lock to play in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.  Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and Temple can still get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible, but we cannot see any of this trio winning out.  UConn finishes at Louisville and at home with Cincinnati.  Pitt hosts Rutgers and closes at South Florida.  Temple has the best chance, but the Owls have to upset Syracuse Friday and then hope they can get a waiver at 5-6 because they did not get to schedule a 12th game.  Their proposed hastily-scheduled game against Hawaii was called off.



1. BCS (Orange): Rutgers

2. Russell Athletic: Louisville

3. Belk: Cincinnati

4. Pinstripe: Syracuse

5. BBVA Compass: None Available

6. Beef O’Brady’s: None Available


Big Ten Conference

Ohio State could still earn part of a national championship.  If the Buckeyes thrash Michigan this weekend, and then Notre Dame loses (and probably Alabama loses in the SEC Championship Game), Ohio State could earn the Associated Press National Championship.


The Rose Bowl will be just another game this year, because the best team will not be there.  At best, an 11-2 Nebraska team will represent the league.  At worst, an 8-5 Wisconsin team will sneak into Pasadena.


Along with the Cornhuskers and Badgers, Michigan, Northwestern, and Minnesota are bowl eligible.  Michigan State must win at Minnesota this week to become bowl eligible, and this is an iffy proposition.  Purdue must beat Indiana, and this is also an iffy proposition.  If both teams lose, then there is virtually no chance there will be 70 teams with 6-6 records or better.



1. BCS (Rose): Nebraska

2. Capital One: Michigan

3. Outback: Northwestern

4. Buffalo Wild Wings: Wisconsin

5. Gator: Michigan St.

6. Meineke Car Care of Texas: Minnesota

7. Heart of Dallas: Purdue

8. Little Caesar’s: None Available


Big 12 Conference

Ouch!  Kansas State was so close, and now they can only hope for a Fiesta Bowl bid.  The Wildcats must still beat Texas, and the Longhorns’ defense has improved a lot since the Oklahoma game.


Oklahoma will steal an at-large bid away from any non-SEC 11-1 teams if the Sooners beat Oklahoma State and TCU to finish 10-2.


With Baylor’s big upset, it looks like nine of the ten members will become bowl eligible.  However, it has not yet happened.  West Virginia has lost five games in a row after starting 5-0.  The Mountaineers still have games at Iowa State and at home against Kansas, and losing to the Jayhawks would be an astronomical upset.  Baylor plays Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium and finishes at home against Oklahoma State.  We think the Bears will get that sixth win this weekend at the Jerry Dome.



1. BCS (Fiesta): Kansas St.

2. BCS At-Large (Sugar): Oklahoma

3. Cotton: Texas

4. Alamo: Oklahoma St.

5. Buffalo Wild Wings: Texas Tech

6. Holiday: T C U

7. Meineke Car Care of Texas: Baylor

8. Pinstripe: West Virginia

9. Heart of Dallas: Iowa St.


Conference USA

Tulsa beat Central Florida Saturday by two points, and it looks like the two teams will do it again in the CUSA Championship Game.  If UCF loses at home to UAB this week, and East Carolina beats Marshall, then ECU would win the East, but we give that about a 2% chance of happening.


Tulsa, UCF, and ECU are the only bowl eligible teams, but there are three 5-6 teams with a chance to become bowl eligible.  Marshall would have to win at ECU.  SMU would have to upset Tulsa.  Neither one of those scenarios looks all that promising.  However, the third team, Rice, has a legitimate shot to get their sixth win this week.  The Owls were given up for dead at 1-5 after losing to Memphis.  It was almost a given that Rice would be looking to make a coaching change.  Then, the Owls got hot.  They beat a decent UTSA team by 20 in a non-conference match, and then they gave Tulsa a real scare, losing late.  Since that loss, Rice has won three straight games, while averaging 43 points per game.  If the Owls beat UTEP this week, they are going bowling.



1. Liberty: Central Florida (beats Tulsa in a rematch)

2. Hawaii: Tulsa

3. Armed Forces: Rice

4. Beef O’Brady’s: East Carolina

5. New Orleans: None Available



Notre Dame could not ask for a better setup.  The Irish are one win away from going to the National Championship Game, and they face a Southern Cal team that will not have Matt Barkley available.


Brigham Young and Navy are already set in their games.  Army is not bowl eligible this year, so there will be one more bowl looking for an at-large team.



1. BCS (National Championship Game): Notre Dame

2. Poinsettia: Brigham Young (has already accepted this bid)

3. Kraft Fight Hunger: Navy (has already accepted this bid)

4. Military: None Available


Mid-American Conference

With Miami of Florida dropping out of the bowl picture, the MAC could now send an unheard of seven teams to bowls.  Six are already bowl eligible, and a seventh should become so this week.


Kent State and Northern Illinois have already clinched spots in the MAC Championship Game, and if Kent State wins, there is an outside shot that the Golden Flashes could sneak into the BCS Bowl picture.  Wisconsin or Georgia Tech would have to win a conference championship game, and then Kent State would have to move up to number 16 in the BCS rankings.  Kent State has games with Ohio U and Northern Illinois remaining and could move up a couple spots with wins in those games.  However, that would still leave them short.  The Flashes are number 23 in the BCS poll and would need losses from multiple teams including Boise State, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Michigan, Rutgers, UCLA, and Texas.


Outside of the top two in the MAC, Toledo, Bowling Green, Ohio U, and Ball State can pretty much make plans to play after December 20.  If Central Michigan upends UMass this week (which they should), the Chippewas could be the beneficiary of the seventh MAC bowl bid and become the only 6-6 at-large team available.



1. Little Caesar’s: Kent St.

2. Toledo (gets bid over NIU which went there last year)

3. Famous Idaho Potato: Northern Illinois

4. BBVA Compass (at-large): Ball St.

5. Beef O’Brady’s (at-large): Ohio U

6. Military (at-large): Bowling Green

7. Independence (at-large): Central Michigan


Mountain West Conference

The MWC has five bowl tie-ins and five available teams.  Unfortunately, there will be no BCS at-large bowl bids available (although Boise State still has a remote chance).


We are more than likely looking at a three-way tie for the conference championship, so the MAACO Bowl can choose from among three teams.



1. MAACO: Boise St.

2. Poinsettia: Fresno St.

3. Hawaii: San Diego St.

4. Armed Forces: Air Force (has already accepted this bid)

5. New Mexico: Nevada


Pac-12 Conference

Oregon’s loss may be bittersweet for this league.  While the Ducks are almost assured of missing out of the national title game and possibly eliminated from the conference title game, they will get an at-large BCS Bowl bid.


If Stanford beats UCLA this week, they will play them again the following week for the Pac-12 title.  The winner of that game would earn the Rose Bowl, and Oregon would almost be a guarantee for the Fiesta Bowl.


Five other teams are bowl eligible.  Oregon State is looking at a 9-3 season, while Arizona and Washington could both be 8-4.  All three teams would move ahead of USC, which should finish 7-5.  Arizona State is the eighth Pac-12 bowl team.



1. BCS (Rose): Stanford

2. BCS At-large (Fiesta): Oregon

3. Alamo: UCLA

4. Holiday: Oregon St.

5. Sun: Arizona

6: MAACO: Washington

7. Kraft Fight Hunger: Southern Cal

8. New Mexico: Arizona St.


Southeastern Conference

It sounds like a horror movie, where you think the beast has been killed, but it always comes back for the sequel.  Yes, the winner of the Alabama-Georgia game is almost a lock to play in the National Championship Game.  And if the unthinkable happens and Notre Dame loses to Southern Cal, a Florida win over Florida State would put the Gators in the National Championship Game against the SEC Championship Game winner.  Can you imagine a Florida-Georgia title game?  It would be like Major League Baseball finding a way to put the Yankees and Red Sox in the World Series when both teams won 100 games.


The big question here is who gets the second BCS Bowl bid if Florida loses to Florida State and the Gators, LSU, and Texas A&M all have two losses?  Throw in South Carolina if the Gamecocks upend Clemson.


With Arkansas and Tennessee losing this past weekend, the SEC will not furnish enough teams to its allocated bowls.  Missouri and Ole Miss lost as well, and we don’t see both teams winning this week to become bowl eligible.  At best, just Ole Miss will get to 6-6 in an upset at home against Mississippi State.  If the Rebels lose, then we believe there will not be 70 bowl eligible teams when all is said and done.



1. BCS (National Championship Game): Alabama

2. BCS (Sugar): Texas A&M (If FSU beats UF, Johnny Football wins out)

3. Capital One: Georgia

4. Outback: Florida

5. Cotton: L S U

6. Chick-fil-A: South Carolina

7. Gator: Mississippi St.

8. Music City: Vanderbilt

9: Liberty: Ole Miss

10. BBVA Compass: None Available

11. Independence: None Available


Sunbelt Conference

It is now almost a given that this league will send five teams to bowls.  They have two automatic bowl tie-ins and two more supplemental bowl tie-ins, but in order to fit all 70 teams into bowls and not force teams from the same conference to play in a bowl, we think that one of those supplemental bowl tie-ins will defer to a tertiary bowl agreement and send an SBC team to another bowl altogether.  It sounds complicated, but here goes.


The champion goes to the New Orleans Bowl, and a second team goes to the Bowl.  The league has secondary bowl agreements with the Little Caesar’s and Beef O’Brady’s Bowls.  However, the MAC has a tertiary agreement with the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, and in order to avoid two MAC teams from playing each other in a bowl, BOB Bowl will need to invite a MAC team over an SBC team.


Troy still has a chance to become bowl eligible at 6-6, if the Trojans can win at Middle Tennessee this week.  The Blue Raiders are still in contention for the SBC Championship; they face Arkansas State in Jonesboro in two weeks.



1. New Orleans: Arkansas St.

2. UL-Monroe

3. Little Caesar’s (at-large): Middle Tennessee

4. Independence (at-large): UL-Lafayette

5. BBVA Compass (at-large): Western Kentucky


Western Athletic Conference

Louisiana Tech’s loss to Utah State removes the Bulldogs from any BCS at-large bowl talk as well as the conference championship bowl bid to the field of blue.  Utah State now gets the invitation to Boise.


San Jose State is the third bowl eligible team in the WAC’s final year as a football conference.  UT-San Antonio is deserving of a bowl if they defeat Texas State to finish 8-4.  There is a bylaw in the bowl rules that would allow UTSA to become bowl eligible as a first-year FBS member.  The Roadrunners would be ahead of any 5-7 teams if not enough teams win six games.  They would not take precedence over a 6-7 team, and the rules have not established how to handle a 5-6 Temple team.



1. Famous Idaho Potato: Utah St.

2. New Orleans (at-large): Louisiana Tech

3. Military (at-large): San Jose St.


Here are this week’s complete bowl projections.


Bowl Conference Team Conference Team
New Mexico MWC # 4/5 Nevada Pac12 #7 / WAC Arizona St.
Famous Idaho Potato MAC #3 Northern Illinois WAC #1/2 Utah St.
Poinsettia MWC #2 Fresno St. BYU/WAC B Y U √
Beef O’Brady’s Big East #6 (Ohio U) C-USA #2-5 (4) East Carolina
New Orleans Sunbelt #1 Arkansas St. C-USA #2-5 (5) (Louisiana Tech)
MAACO MWC #1 Boise St. Pac 12 #5 Washington
Hawaii MWC #3/Hawaii San Diego St. C-USA #2-5 (2) Tulsa
Little Caesar’s Pizza Big 10 #8 (Middle Tenn.) MAC #1 Kent St.
Military ACC #8 (Bowling Green) Army/CUSA (San Jose St.)
Belk ACC #5 Virginia Tech Big East #3 Cincinnati
Holiday Pac 12 #3 Oregon St. Big 12 #5 T C U
Independence ACC #6/7 (7) (Central Michigan) SEC #10 (UL-Lafayette)
Russell Athletic Big East #2 Louisville ACC #3 North Carolina St.
Meineke Car Care Big 12 #6 Baylor Big 10 #6 Minnesota
Armed Forces C-USA #3 Rice MWC #4-5 Air Force-√
Kraft Fight Hunger Pac 12 #6 Southern Cal Navy/ACC Navy √
Pinstripe Big East #4 Syracuse Big 12 #7 West Va.
Alamo Big 12 #3 Oklahoma St. Pac 12 #2 U C L A
Buffalo Wild Wings Big 12 #4 Texas Tech Big 10 #4 or 5 Wisconsin
Music City SEC # 7 Vanderbilt ACC #6 Duke
Sun ACC #4 Georgia Tech Pac 12 #4 Arizona
Liberty SEC#8-9/BigEast Ole Miss C-USA #1 Central Florida
Chick-fil-A SEC #5 South Carolina ACC #2 Clemson
Heart of Dallas Big 10 #7 Purdue Big 12 #8 Iowa St.
Gator Big 10 #4 or 5 Michigan St. SEC #6 Mississippi St.
Capital One Big 10 #2 Michigan SEC #2 Georgia
Outback SEC #3 or 4 Florida Big 10 #3 Northwestern
Rose BCS Pac12 Stanford BCS Big 10 Nebraska
Orange BCS ACC Florida St. BCS At-Large Rutgers
Sugar BCS SEC Texas A&M BCS At-Large Oklahoma
Fiesta BCS Big 12 Kansas St. BCS At-Large Oregon
Cotton Big 12 #2 Texas SEC #3 or 4 L S U
BBVA Compass Big East#5/CUSA (Ball St.) SEC #8 or 9 (Western Ky.) Sunbelt # 2 UL-Monroe MAC #2 Toledo
National Championship *** BCS #1 *** Notre Dame *** BCS #2 *** Alabama
√ = Team has already accepted bowl invitation      


Here are this week’s PiRate Ratings


PiRate Regular

P i R a t e
# Team PiRate
1 Alabama 132.0
2 Oregon   130.9
3 Kansas St. 127.5
4 Oklahoma 127.3
5 Texas A&M 127.0
6 Oklahoma St. 125.1
7 Notre Dame 124.4
8 L S U   124.4
9 Florida St. 124.1
10 Georgia 123.4
11 South Carolina 121.5
12 Clemson   121.1
13 Stanford 119.6
14 Texas 119.1
15 U S C 118.7
16 Florida 117.8
17 Oregon St. 116.2
18 Nebraska 115.9
19 U C L A 115.5
20 Baylor 115.3
21 Michigan 114.7
22 Ohio St. 114.5
23 Wisconsin   114.1
24 T C U 112.4
25 B Y U 112.2
26 Vanderbilt 111.4
27 Washington 111.0
28 West Virginia 110.8
29 Arizona 110.7
30 Mississippi St. 110.5
31 Iowa St. 110.3
32 Arizona St. 109.3
33 Penn St. 109.1
34 Michigan St. 109.1
35 Texas Tech 108.8
36 North Carolina 108.4
37 Missouri 108.4
38 Ole Miss 107.4
39 Tennessee 107.2
40 Rutgers 107.1
41 Utah 107.1
42 Northwestern 107.0
43 Georgia Tech 107.0
44 Boise St. 106.8
45 Central Florida 105.7
46 Tulsa 105.4
47 Syracuse 105.4
48 Utah St. 104.7
49 Northern Illinois   104.1
50 Fresno St. 104.0
51 Miami-FL 103.9
52 Louisiana Tech   103.9
53 Virginia Tech 103.6
54 North Carolina St. 103.3
55 Cincinnati 102.7
56 Louisville 101.9
57 San Jose St. 101.9
58 Pittsburgh 101.2
59 Arkansas 101.2
60 San Diego St. 100.2
61 Ball St. 100.0
62 California 99.6
63 Auburn 99.3
64 Purdue 99.1
65 Kent St. 98.4
66 Toledo 98.2
67 South Florida 97.8
68 Arkansas St. 97.7
69 Minnesota 97.4
70 Kansas 97.2
71 Duke 97.0
72 Iowa 96.4
73 Virginia 96.0
74 Boston College 95.9
75 Connecticut 95.8
76 Bowling Green 95.7
77 Louisiana-Monroe 95.3
78 UL-Lafayette 95.2
79 Nevada 94.9
80 S M U 94.8
81 Maryland 94.6
82 East Carolina 94.1
83 Indiana 93.0
84 Western Kentucky 92.4
85 Navy 92.1
86 Washington St. 92.0
87 Wake Forest 91.3
88 Rice 91.2
89 Illinois 90.3
90 Ohio U 90.2
91 Western Michigan 89.7
92 Temple 89.6
93 Kentucky 89.6
94 Houston 89.5
95 Troy 89.0
96 Air Force 88.8
97 U T E P 88.6
98 Marshall 88.2
99 Wyoming 87.9
100 Middle Tennessee 86.6
101 Buffalo 85.4
102 Central Michigan 85.0
103 North Texas 85.0
104 Florida International 84.5
105 Army 84.3
106 Miami (O) 84.0
107 Colorado St. 83.4
108 U A B 83.0
109 New Mexico 82.7
110 Southern Mississippi   82.6
111 UNLV 82.3
112 Eastern Michigan 81.7
113 Texas St. 80.1
114 Memphis 79.9
115 Florida Atlantic 79.9
116 Colorado 78.5
117 U T S A 77.1
118 Tulane 75.9
119 Hawaii 75.9
120 South Alabama 74.7
121 Idaho 73.7
122 Akron 72.8
123 New Mexico St. 72.2
124 Massachusetts 68.8


PiRate Vintage

V i n t a g e
# Team Vintage
1 Alabama 127.5
2 Georgia  127.0
3 Oregon 125.5
4 Notre Dame 125.0
5 Ohio St. 124.5
6 Stanford 124.5
7 Texas A&M 124.0
8 L S U 123.5
9 Florida St. 123.0
10 Florida  122.0
11 Kansas St. 121.5
12 Clemson 120.0
13 South Carolina 120.0
14 Nebraska 120.0
15 Oklahoma 120.0
16 Michigan 118.0
17 Oklahoma St. 117.0
18 Oregon St. 116.5
19 U C L A 116.5
20 Washington 114.5
21 Texas 114.0
22 Vanderbilt 113.5
23 Southern Cal 113.0
24 Penn St. 112.0
25 Northwestern 112.0
26 Mississippi St. 111.5
27 Wisconsin 111.5
28 B Y U 111.0
29 San Diego St. 110.5
30 Boise St. 109.5
31 T C U 109.0
32 Michigan St. 109.0
33 Rutgers 108.5
34 Arizona 108.5
35 Ole Miss 108.5
36 Baylor 108.0
37 Louisville 107.5
38 Fresno St. 107.5
39 North Carolina St. 107.5
40 Utah St. 107.0
41 West Virginia 106.0
42 Kent St. 105.5
43 Cincinnati 105.5
44 Miami 105.5
45 Arizona St. 105.5
46 Texas Tech 105.5
47 North Carolina 105.0
48 Georgia Tech 105.0
49 Virginia Tech 105.0
50 Missouri 105.0
51 Northern Illinois 104.5
52 Utah 104.5
53 Iowa St. 104.0
54 Syracuse 103.5
55 Louisiana Tech 103.5
56 San Jose St. 103.5
57 Tulsa 102.5
58 Central Florida 102.5
59 Arkansas 102.0
60 Minnesota 100.0
61 Nevada 100.0
62 Virginia 100.0
63 Arkansas St. 99.5
64 Bowling Green 99.0
65 Ball St. 99.0
66 Duke 98.5
67 Tennessee 98.5
68 Boston College 98.0
69 Purdue 97.5
70 Auburn 96.5
71 California 96.0
72 Toledo 95.5
73 Kansas 95.5
74 Navy 95.0
75 East Carolina 95.0
76 Pittsburgh 94.5
77 Wake Forest 94.5
78 Ohio U 94.0
79 Indiana 94.0
80 Temple 93.5
81 Maryland 93.5
82 UL-Lafayette 93.0
83 Middle Tennessee 93.0
84 UL-Monroe 92.5
85 Iowa 92.5
86 Illinois 92.5
87 Rice 92.0
88 Air Force 92.0
89 South Florida 92.0
90 Kentucky 92.0
91 Connecticut 91.0
92 S M U 90.0
93 Western Kentucky 89.5
94 Buffalo 88.5
95 Central Michigan 88.5
96 Troy 88.0
97 Wyoming 88.0
98 Colorado 88.0
99 Colorado St. 87.5
100 Marshall 87.0
101 Army 87.0
102 Washington St. 87.0
103 U T S A 86.5
104 U N L V 86.5
105 New Mexico 85.5
106 Miami (O) 85.5
107 Memphis 85.0
108 Texas St. 85.0
109 Houston 83.5
110 Western Michigan 83.5
111 U A B 83.0
112 U T E P 83.0
113 Eastern Michigan 82.0
114 Florida Int’l 81.5
115 Florida Atlantic 80.0
116 North Texas 78.0
117 Hawaii 78.0
118 Tulane 76.5
119 Massachusetts 76.5
120 South Alabama 75.5
121 Akron 75.5
122 Idaho 75.5
123 Southern Miss. 75.0
124 New Mexico St. 70.5


PiRate Ratings By Conference

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Florida St. 7-1 10-1 124.1 123.0
Clemson   7-1 10-1 121.1 120.0
North Carolina St. 3-4 6-5 103.3 107.5
Boston College 1-6 2-9 95.9 98.0
Maryland 2-5 4-7 94.6 93.5
Wake Forest 3-5 5-6 91.3 94.5
Coastal Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
North Carolina 4-3 7-4 108.4 105.0
Georgia Tech 5-3 6-5 107.0 105.0
Miami-FL 4-3 7-4 103.9 105.5
Virginia Tech 3-4 5-6 103.6 105.0
Duke 3-4 6-5 97.0 98.5
Virginia 2-5 4-7 96.0 100.0
Conference Means 104.24   103.85 104.6


Big East Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Rutgers 5-0 9-1 107.1 108.5
Syracuse 4-2 6-5 105.4 103.5
Cincinnati 3-2 7-3 102.7 105.5
Louisville 4-1 9-1 101.9 107.5
Pittsburgh 1-4 4-6 101.2 94.5
South Florida 1-4 3-7 97.8 92.0
Connecticut 1-4 4-6 95.8 91.0
Temple 2-4 4-6 89.6 93.5
Conference Means 99.8438   100.19 99.5


Big Ten
Leaders Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Ohio St. 7-0 11-0 114.5 124.5
Wisconsin   4-3 7-4 114.1 111.5
Penn St. 5-2 7-4 109.1 112.0
Purdue 2-5 5-6 99.1 97.5
Indiana 2-5 4-7 93.0 94.0
Illinois 0-7 2-9 90.3 92.5
Legends Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Nebraska 6-1 9-2 115.9 120.0
Michigan 6-1 8-3 114.7 118.0
Michigan St. 2-5 5-6 109.1 109.0
Northwestern 4-3 8-3 107.0 112.0
Minnesota 2-5 6-5 97.4 100.0
Iowa 2-5 4-7 96.4 92.5
Conference Means 106.004   105.05 107.0


Big 12
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Kansas St. 7-1 10-1 127.5 121.5
Oklahoma 6-1 8-2 127.3 120.0
Oklahoma St. 5-2 7-3 125.1 117.0
Texas 5-2 8-2 119.1 114.0
Baylor 2-5 5-5 115.3 108.0
T C U 3-4 6-4 112.4 109.0
West Virginia 2-5 5-5 110.8 106.0
Iowa St. 3-5 6-5 110.3 104.0
Texas Tech 4-4 7-4 108.8 105.5
Kansas 0-8 1-10 97.2 95.5
Conference Means 112.715   115.38 110.1


Conference USA
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Central Florida 6-1 8-3 105.7 102.5
East Carolina 6-1 7-4 94.1 95.0
Marshall 4-3 5-6 88.2 87.0
U A B 2-5 3-8 83.0 83.0
Southern Mississippi   0-7 0-11 82.6 75.0
Memphis 3-4 3-8 79.9 85.0
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Tulsa 7-0 9-2 105.4 102.5
S M U 4-3 5-6 94.8 90.0
Rice 3-4 5-6 91.2 92.0
Houston 3-4 4-7 89.5 83.5
U T E P 2-5 3-8 88.6 83.0
Tulane 2-5 2-9 75.9 76.5
Conference Means 88.9125   89.91 87.9


Team   Overall Rating Vintage
Notre Dame   11-0 124.4 125.0
B Y U   6-5 112.2 111.0
Navy   7-4 92.1 95.0
Army   2-9 84.3 87.0
Conference Means 103.875   103.25 104.5


Mid American Conference
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Kent St. 7-0 10-1 98.4 105.5
Bowling Green 5-2 7-4 95.7 99.0
Ohio U 4-3 8-3 90.2 94.0
Buffalo 3-4 4-7 85.4 88.5
Miami (O) 3-4 4-7 84.0 85.5
Akron 0-7 1-10 72.8 75.5
Massachusetts 1-6 1-10 68.8 76.5
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Northern Illinois   7-0 10-1 104.1 104.5
Ball St. 5-2 8-3 100.0 99.0
Toledo 5-2 8-3 98.2 95.5
Western Michigan 2-6 4-8 89.7 83.5
Central Michigan 3-4 5-6 85.0 88.5
Eastern Michigan 1-6 2-9 81.7 82.0
Conference Means 89.6731   88.77 90.6


Mountain West Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Boise St. 6-1 9-2 106.8 109.5
Fresno St. 6-1 8-3 104.0 107.5
San Diego St. 6-1 8-3 100.2 110.5
Nevada 4-3 7-4 94.9 100.0
Air Force 5-2 6-5 88.8 92.0
Wyoming 3-4 4-7 87.9 88.0
Colorado St. 2-5 3-8 83.4 87.5
New Mexico 1-6 4-8 82.7 85.5
UNLV 2-5 2-10 82.3 86.5
Hawaii 0-7 1-9 75.9 78.0
Conference Means 92.595   90.69 94.5


Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Oregon   7-1 10-1 130.9 125.5
Stanford 7-1 9-2 119.6 124.5
Oregon St. 6-2 8-2 116.2 116.5
Washington 5-3 7-4 111.0 114.5
California 2-7 3-9 99.6 96.0
Washington St. 0-8 2-9 92.0 87.0
South Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
U S C 5-4 7-4 118.7 113.0
U C L A 6-2 9-2 115.5 116.5
Arizona 4-4 7-4 110.7 108.5
Arizona St. 4-4 6-5 109.3 105.5
Utah 2-6 4-7 107.1 104.5
Colorado 1-7 1-10 78.5 88.0
Conference Means 108.713   109.09 108.3


Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Georgia 7-1 10-1 123.4 127.0
South Carolina 6-2 9-2 121.5 120.0
Florida 7-1 10-1 117.8 122.0
Vanderbilt 5-3 7-4 111.4 113.5
Missouri 2-5 5-6 108.4 105.0
Tennessee 0-7 4-7 107.2 98.5
Kentucky 0-7 2-9 89.6 92.0
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Alabama 6-1 10-1 132.0 127.5
Texas A&M 5-2 9-2 127.0 124.0
L S U   5-2 9-2 124.4 123.5
Mississippi St. 4-3 8-3 110.5 111.5
Ole Miss 2-5 5-6 107.4 108.5
Arkansas 2-5 4-7 101.2 102.0
Auburn 0-7 3-8 99.3 96.5
Conference Means 112.593   112.94 112.3


Sunbelt Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Arkansas St. 6-1 8-3 97.7 99.5
Louisiana-Monroe 5-2 7-4 95.3 92.5
UL-Lafayette 4-2 6-4 95.2 93.0
Western Kentucky 3-4 6-5 92.4 89.5
Troy 3-4 5-6 89.0 88.0
Middle Tennessee 5-1 7-3 86.6 93.0
North Texas 3-4 4-7 85.0 78.0
Florida International 2-5 3-8 84.5 81.5
Florida Atlantic 2-5 3-8 79.9 80.0
South Alabama 1-6 2-9 74.7 75.5
Conference Means 87.54   88.03 87.1


Western Athletic Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Utah St. 5-0 9-2 104.7 107.0
Louisiana Tech   4-1 9-2 103.9 103.5
San Jose St. 4-1 9-2 101.9 103.5
Texas St. 1-3 3-7 80.1 85.0
U T S A 2-3 7-4 77.1 86.5
Idaho 1-4 1-10 73.7 75.5
New Mexico St. 0-5 1-9 72.2 70.5
Conference Means 88.9357   87.66 90.2


This Week’s PiRate Spreads

This Week’s Games
Favorite Underdog PiRate Vintage Line
Tuesday, November 20      
TOLEDO Akron 33.8 22.5 19   
Thursday, November 22      
TEXAS T  c u 9.7 8 8
Friday, November 23      
Nebraska IOWA 16.5 24.5 14 1/2
BOWLING GREEN Buffalo 12.8 13.0 9   
Central Michigan MASSACHUSETTS 14.2 10.0 10   
Ball St. MIAMI (O) 13.5 11.0 NL
Syracuse TEMPLE 13.3 7.5 9 1/2
Northern Illinois EASTERN MICHIGAN 20.4 20.5 20   
CINCINNATI South Florida 7.9 16.5 13   
EAST CAROLINA Marshall 8.9 11.0 4 1/2
KENT ST. Ohio U 10.7 14.0 10 1/2
L s u ARKANSAS 20.2 18.5 12   
Utah COLORADO 25.6 13.5 23   
IOWA ST. West Virginia 2.5 1.0 -1   
Washington WASHINGTON ST. 17.0 25.5 11 1/2
ARIZONA Arizona St. 3.4 5.0 2 1/2
Saturday, November 24      
OHIO ST. Michigan 2.8 9.5 4 1/2
Vanderbilt WAKE FOREST 17.1 16.0 12 1/2
LOUISVILLE Connecticut 9.1 19.5 13   
GEORGIA Georgia Tech 18.4 24.0 13   
NORTH CAROLINA Maryland 16.8 14.5 24 1/2
VIRGINIA TECH Virginia 9.6 7.0 10 1/2
Michigan St. MINNESOTA 8.7 6.0 8   
Miami (Fla) DUKE 3.9 4.0 5 1/2
NORTHWESTERN Illinois 19.2 22.0 19   
NORTH CAROLINA ST. Boston College 10.4 12.5 14   
TENNESSEE Kentucky 20.6 9.5 14   
Wisconsin PENN ST. 2.0 -3.5 -3    
Rutgers PITTSBURGH 2.9 11.0 -2   
PURDUE Indiana 8.1 5.5 5 1/2
Texas St. U T S A 1.0 -3.5 1 1/2
UTAH ST. Idaho 34.0 34.5 39 1/2
San Diego St. WYOMING 9.3 19.5 7   
BAYLOR (@ Arlington) Texas Tech 6.5 2.5 2   
ALABAMA Auburn 35.2 33.5 31 1/2
Mississippi St. OLE MISS 0.6 0.5 -1 1/2
Stanford U C L A 1.1 5.0 1   
B y u NEW MEXICO ST. 37.5 38.0 28 1/2
FRESNO ST. Air Force 18.2 18.5 16 1/2
OKLAHOMA Oklahoma St. 4.7 5.5 8   
TEXAS A&M Missouri 21.6 22.0 22   
Oregon OREGON ST. 12.2 6.5 10   
Tulsa S M U 7.6 9.5 5   
FLORIDA ST. Florida 8.8 3.5 NL
SAN JOSE ST. Louisiana Tech 1.5 3.5 5   
Southern Miss. MEMPHIS 0.2 -12.5 -5   
HOUSTON Tulane 16.6 10.0 12 1/2
COLORADO ST. New Mexico 3.9 5.0 3   
U T E P Rice 0.4 -6.0 2 1/2
CLEMSON South Carolina 2.1 2.5 4   
CENTRAL FLORIDA U a b 25.7 22.5 22   
Notre Dame SOUTHERN CAL 2.2 8.5 NL
U n l v HAWAII 2.4 4.5 NL
WESTERN KENTUCKY North Texas 10.4 14.5 11 1/2
MIDDLE TENNESSEE Troy 0.6 8.0 3   
UL-LAFAYETTE South Alabama 23.5 20.5 18 1/2
UL-Monroe FLORIDA INT’L 7.8 8.0 6   


November 14, 2012

PiRate Ratings For College Football: November 14-17, 2012

Conference-by-Conference Look


Atlantic Coast Conference

Florida State wraps up the Atlantic Division with a win at hapless Maryland this week.  The Terps actually were in line for a bowl until they went through quarterbacks like Liz Taylor went through husbands.  Taking a backup freshman linebacker and making him starting quarterback doesn’t cut it in the ACC.


Clemson can earn an at-large BCS Bowl bid by winning out, which would include a victory over South Carolina.


North Carolina State needs one win to become bowl eligible.  The Wolfpack finish at Clemson and home versus Boston College, so a 6-6 finish is likely.


Wake Forest is 5-5, but the Demon Deacons face two tough teams to close.  There is no chance that Wake will win at Notre Dame this weekend, and there is only a small chance they will beat Vanderbilt in their home finale.


The Coastal Division is a muddled mess.  North Carolina is ineligible, so cross the Tar Heels off the list.  Duke, Georgia Tech, and Miami have three conference losses each.  Virginia and Virginia Tech have four conference losses and are eliminated from the race, because the remaining schedule guarantees that one of the three loss teams will finish 5-3.


Duke closes with Georgia Tech on the road and Miami at home.  They control their own destiny and will earn the division championship with two wins.  Miami also controls its own destiny.  A win over Duke gives the Hurricanes the Coastal flag.  Georgia Tech can only win if they beat Duke and Duke beats Miami.


All three contenders are bowl eligible.  As for the two teams from the Commonwealth, both are 4-6 overall.  Virginia hosts North Carolina Thursday night, while Virginia Tech travels to Boston College Saturday.  The two rivals face off in Blacksburg a week later.  Virginia is the hottest team in the division with back-to-back wins over North Carolina State and Miami.



Orange: Florida State

Chick-fil-A: Miami

Russell Athletic: North Carolina St.

Sun: Virginia Tech

Belk: Georgia Tech

Music City: Duke

Independence: None Available

Military: None Available


Big East Conference

Louisville’s loss means the league champion will be the last team selected by the BCS Bowls (The Orange Bowl this year).


Rutgers currently leads the league with a 4-0 mark, but they lost to Kent State at homecoming three weeks ago.  Kent State is 9-1, but it isn’t the same as losing to Georgia.  The Scarlet Knights finish with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh on the road and Louisville at home, so this race is far from over.


Louisville, fresh off a loss to Syracuse, hosts Connecticut on the 24th and finishes at Rutgers.  The Cardinals beat Cincinnati earlier in the year, so they hold the tiebreaker over the Bearcats in a two-way tie.


Cincinnati hosts Rutgers and South Florida before finishing at Connecticut.


If the three contenders finish tied at 6-1, the BCS representative would be the team ranked highest in the BCS rankings, which would almost assuredly be Louisville.


Syracuse could still finish in a multiple team tie at 5-2, but there is no way the Orangemen can take the BCS bowl bid.  The ‘Cuse needs one more win to become bowl eligible, and they have two chances to get it—at Missouri this week and at Temple on Black Friday.


The other four league teams, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, South Florida, and Temple, all have six losses.  If any win out, they would be bowl eligible, but we don’t see it happening.



BCS (Orange Bowl): Cincinnati

Russell Athletic: Louisville

Belk: Rutgers

Pinstripe: Syracuse

BBVA Compass: No Available Team

Beef O’Brady’s: No Available Team


Big Ten Conference

Wisconsin has already clinched the Leader’s Division spot in the Big Ten title game, but the Badgers could still finish third in the division with a 4-4/7-5 record.  UW hosts undefeated Ohio State this week and goes to Penn State the following week.


Ohio State can still claim the Associated Press National Championship if they beat Wisconsin and Michigan to finish 12-0, and if Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame, and Alabama lose.  It has happened before where a team on probation won the AP national title.  Oklahoma did it in 1974.  Auburn did it in 1957.


Purdue and Indiana are still in the hunt for bowl eligibility at 4-6.  The Hoosiers would have to close out with wins at Penn State and Purdue, so we say “no way.”  Purdue has a decent chance with a road game against Illinois and a home finale with the Hoosiers.


The Legends Division has not yet been decided.  Nebraska and Michigan are tied at 5-1 in league play with the Cornhuskers holding the tiebreaker over the Maize and Blue.  Nebraska finishes with Minnesota at home and Iowa on the road, which looks like two wins.  Michigan hosts Iowa and finishes at Ohio State.


Northwestern and Minnesota are both bowl eligible, while Michigan State needs one more win.  The Spartans finish with Northwestern and Minnesota.  Attendance at Spartan Stadium has been off this year, and Coach Mark Dantonio could find his seat beginning to heat up just one year removed from the Legends Division title.



Rose: Nebraska

Capital One: Michigan

Outback: Wisconsin

Buffalo Wild Wings: Michigan St.

Gator: Northwestern

Meineke Car Care of Texas: Minnesota

Heart of Dallas: Purdue

Little Caesar’s: None Available


Big 12 Conference

Kansas State’s path to the National Championship Game is not as easy as one might think.  They do not have to win a conference championship game, but the Wildcats still have two tricky games left on their schedule.  They play at Baylor this week, and the Bears have an offense capable of scoring 40 on just about anybody.  After a week off, KSU closes at home with Texas.  The Longhorns are a much better team in November than they were in October.  It could also be Mack Brown’s final regular season game if the powers that be decide it is time for him to retire (especially if they believe they can still lure Will Muchamp back to Austin).


Oklahoma will get a BCS bowl bid if they beat West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and TCU to finish 10-2.  Texas could sneak into a BCS Bowl if Oklahoma loses a game, and the Longhorns upset Kansas State.


Eight teams should finish bowl eligible in what the computer ratings say is the top league in college football this year.  Iowa State needs a win against Kansas this week to become the seventh bowl-eligible team, while West Virginia needs one more win and has Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Kansas remaining.



National Championship Game: Kansas State

Fiesta: Oklahoma

Cotton: Texas

Alamo: Texas Tech

Buffalo Wild Wings: Oklahoma St.

Holiday: West Virginia

Meineke Car Care of Texas: Iowa St.

Pinstripe: T C U

Heart of Dallas: None Available


Conference USA

This league is way down this year.  Houston, SMU, Southern Mississippi, Marshall, and UTEP are bringing this league down with terrible seasons.  Tulsa and Central Florida are the only quality teams, and the two division leaders square off at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa.


East Carolina is the only other bowl eligible team as of today, and the Pirates are anything but a strong team (they have been outscored against mediocre opposition).


SMU is 5-5, while Rice is 4-6.  One of these two should get to 6-6 and become the fourth bowl-eligible team.  These two hook up this week in Houston.  Rice finishes at UTEP, while SMU hosts Tulsa.



Liberty: Tulsa

Hawaii: Central Florida

Armed Forces: S M U

Beef O’Brady’s: East Carolina

New Orleans: None Available



Three of the four Independents are headed to bowls.  Notre Dame is in the national title race, but we think the Irish will be the odd team out if three finish undefeated.  Oregon would have additional wins over Stanford, Oregon State, and Southern Cal if they win out, while Notre Dame would have wins over Wake Forest and Southern Cal.


Brigham Young and Navy have earned bowl bids to their respective tie-in bowls for 2012.  Army has been eliminated.  Their bowl comes December 8 against Navy, who they have not beaten since 2001.



Rose: Notre Dame

Poinsettia: B Y U

Kraft Fight Hunger: Navy

Military: None Available (Army not bowl eligible)


Mid-American Conference

The MAC is one of two conference that will benefit from other conferences not having enough bowl eligible teams this year.  It is our opinion that if either Kent State or Northern Illinois finish 12-1, they should be in the equation for a BCS Bowl.  If Kent State wins out and Rutgers takes the Big East, the Golden Flashes will own a win over a BCS Bowl team.


Bowling Green still has a shot in the East, and Toledo has a shot in the West, while Ball State and Ohio give this conference six very good teams headed to bowls.



Little  Caesar’s: Kent State Toledo

Famous Idaho Potato: Northern Illinois

At-Large Bowl Teams: Bowling Green (Heart of Dallas), Ohio U (Military), and Ball St. (BBVA Compass)


Mountain West

This league was supposed to be the top non-AQ league in the land, but the Mountain West is barely stronger than the WAC this year.


Boise State has lost twice, so the Broncos are out of the BCS picture.  The Broncos may not even win the conference.  San Diego State and Fresno State are there equal this season.


Nevada and Air Force should give this league five bowl eligible teams, but both the Wolf Pack and Falcons are having disappointing seasons.



MAACO: Boise St.

Poinsettia: Fresno St.

Hawaii: San Diego St.

Armed Forces: Air Force

New Mexico: Nevada


Pac-12 Conference

Oregon reminds us in a way of Oklahoma in the early 1970’s.  The 1971 Sooners had the most unstoppable offense in college football since the Army teams during World War II (Those Army teams were all-star teams during the war years).


In 1971, Oklahoma rushed for almost 500 yards per game and gained better than 12 yards per pass attempt.  In the epic game against Nebraska, OU gained close to 200 yards passing on about six completions.  The great Cornhusker team gave up six points per game to the other 12 teams on their schedule (including just six to 11-0 Alabama), but Oklahoma scored 28 points on NU and gained closed to 500 yards.


Oregon is much in the same boat.  The Ducks can hang 40 on any team in the country.  They can hang 60 on bowl eligible teams.  However, the Ducks can also give up 50 points against said bowl eligible teams.


Oregon has had Stanford’s number in recent years, so the Ducks could begin the big game this week thinking they cannot lose to the Cardinal.  Stanford can do the one thing that can upset the Ducks.  It is the same thing that Nebraska used to beat Oklahoma in the greatest college game ever played.  The ‘Huskers held onto the ball for more than 70 plays, and Stanford can do the same to Oregon.  Oregon’s offense cannot score if Stanford holds onto it.  If the Cardinal finish with 75 plays, they have a chance to reduce the undefeated ranks by 25%.


Oregon still has the tough Civil War game with Oregon State in Corvallis and has to win the Pac-12 Championship Game against Southern Cal or UCLA.


The South Division is very much up for grabs this week.  Southern Cal heads north up the Pasadena Freeway to play UCLA at the Rose Bowl.  The winner clinches the South Division.


Arizona is bowl eligible in Rich Rodriguez’s first season in Tucson.  Arizona State and Utah are still alive.  The Sun Devils need one more win and should get it this week when they host Washington State.  Utah must win out against Arizona and Colorado.



National Championship Game: Oregon

Alamo: Stanford

Holiday: Washington

Sun: Southern Cal


Kraft Fight Hunger: Oregon St.

New Mexico: Arizona

At-Large Bowl Teams: Arizona St. (Military), Utah (Heart of Dallas)


Southeastern Conference

Alabama still has a shot at the National Championship Game, but the Tide needs too much to happen to make it back.  We don’t see two of the three undefeated teams losing.  The Tide still has to beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, and as of today, the game would be a 50-50 contest.


The big question is which team will be the second BCS Bowl participant?  LSU could be in the equation if the Sugar Bowl wants a home team.  Texas A&M could be the second team if the Fiesta bowl wants Johnny Football.  Georgia and Florida could also be the chosen team.  Of course, if Georgia beats Alabama, it is a moot point.  However, would LSU, Texas A&M, or Florida have a chance at shutting out Alabama from the BCS at-large equation?


South Carolina is the clear number six team in the league, and the Gamecocks could finish 11-2!  That shows just how tough the top half of the league is this year.


Four more teams should finish bowl eligible.  Vanderbilt and Mississippi State are already bowl eligible, and the two teams are competing against each other in the pecking order for the number seven team.  Missouri is one win away from bowl eligibility and host Syracuse this week.  The Tigers have a 60% chance of winning that one.  Ole Miss needs an upset over Mississippi State (or LSU) to get to six wins.



Sugar: Alabama

Fiesta: Georgia

Capital One: L S U

Outback: Florida

Cotton: Texas A&M

Chick-fil-A: South Carolina

Gator: Mississippi St.

Music City: Vanderbilt

Liberty: Missouri

BBVA Compass: Ole Miss

Independence: None Available


Sunbelt Conference

The SBC should produce an all-time high with five bowl invitations this year.  The race is still up for grabs between four teams (Arkansas St., UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, and Middle Tennessee), while Western Kentucky should also get a bowl bid.


Troy is 5-5 with games remaining against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee.  If the Trojans win both games, then they will get a bowl bid, possibly at Utah’s expense.



New Orleans: Arkansas St. UL-Monroe

At-Large Bowl Teams: Western Kentucky (Little Caesar’s), UL-Lafayette (Beef O’Brady’s), Middle Tennessee (Independence)


Western Athletic Conference

In the league’s final year as a football conference, three teams are emerging as legitimate bowl-worthy squads.  Louisiana Tech is still in the hunt for qualification as an at-large BCS Bowl Team.  The Bulldogs must win out and then they need Wisconsin to lose one more game and then win the Big Ten Championship Game to earn the Big Ten’s automatic bid or Cincinnati to win the Big East.


We aren’t confident that LT can win out.  They finish with the other top two teams in the WAC—Utah State and San Jose State.  They may beat the Aggies at home, but the finale against the Spartans on the coast is a big trap game.


UTSA is ineligible for a bowl in their first season in FBS football, but the Roadrunners will secure a winning season with a win over lowly Idaho this week, and they could finish 8-4 if they knock off Texas State the week after.  Larry Coker may have put himself back in the hunt for a bigger coaching job.


This league could send three other coaches to bigger schools.  LT’s Sonny Dykes is high on the list at many vacancies.  USU’s Gary Andersen will be contacted, and SJSU’s Mike MacIntyre will get a better offer as well.



Famous Idaho Potato *: Utah St.

At-Large Bowl Teams: Louisiana Tech (Independence *), San Jose St. (New Orleans)


* We still project Louisiana Tech to win the WAC, but we believe a deal will be struck that allows the Bulldogs to stay close to home and send Utah State to Boise.


This Week’s PiRate Ratings

P i R a t e
# Team PiRate
1 Oregon   133.0
2 Alabama 132.0
3 Kansas St. 131.2
4 Oklahoma 128.3
5 Texas A&M 127.0
6 L S U   125.6
7 Florida St. 123.4
8 Georgia 123.4
9 Notre Dame 123.3
10 Oklahoma St. 123.1
11 South Carolina 122.5
12 Clemson   121.7
13 U S C 120.5
14 Texas 119.1
15 Florida 118.8
16 Stanford 117.5
17 Nebraska 115.6
18 Wisconsin   115.1
19 B Y U 114.3
20 Michigan 114.1
21 U C L A 113.7
22 Oregon St. 113.6
23 Ohio St. 113.5
24 T C U 112.4
25 Baylor 111.6
26 Texas Tech 110.8
27 Michigan St. 110.3
28 Washington 110.0
29 West Virginia 109.8
30 Missouri 109.7
31 Vanderbilt 109.6
32 Arizona 109.0
33 Tennessee 109.0
34 Utah 108.8
35 Iowa St. 108.7
36 Penn St. 108.6
37 Mississippi St. 108.3
38 North Carolina 107.1
39 Arizona St. 107.1
40 Boise St. 106.5
41 Georgia Tech 106.2
42 Ole Miss 106.2
43 Central Florida 106.1
44 Rutgers 105.8
45 Northwestern 105.8
46 Tulsa 105.0
47 Louisiana Tech   104.6
48 Syracuse 104.1
49 Cincinnati 104.0
50 Northern Illinois   104.0
51 Fresno St. 104.0
52 Utah St. 104.0
53 Virginia Tech 103.9
54 Arkansas 103.4
55 North Carolina St. 102.7
56 California 102.2
57 Louisville 101.9
58 Pittsburgh 101.2
59 Miami-FL 100.9
60 South Florida 100.8
61 San Diego St. 100.2
62 San Jose St. 99.8
63 Purdue 99.3
64 Kansas 98.8
65 Ball St. 98.6
66 Toledo 98.3
67 Auburn 98.3
68 Duke 97.8
69 Kent St. 97.8
70 Minnesota 97.7
71 Arkansas St. 97.4
72 Virginia 97.3
73 Iowa 97.0
74 S M U 97.0
75 Bowling Green 96.3
76 Connecticut 95.8
77 Boston College 95.6
78 Maryland 95.3
79 UL-Lafayette 95.1
80 East Carolina 94.8
81 Nevada 94.8
82 Washington St. 94.2
83 Louisiana-Monroe 94.1
84 Indiana 93.5
85 Western Kentucky 92.5
86 Wake Forest 92.4
87 Navy 92.4
88 Ohio U 91.6
89 Western Michigan 91.4
90 Illinois 90.1
91 Houston 89.6
92 Troy 89.3
93 Rice 89.0
94 U T E P 88.8
95 Air Force 88.6
96 Kentucky 88.6
97 Marshall 88.1
98 Wyoming 87.6
99 Army 87.3
100 Temple 86.6
101 U A B 86.5
102 Middle Tennessee 86.5
103 North Texas 86.2
104 Buffalo 85.7
105 Miami (O) 84.8
106 Central Michigan 84.2
107 Colorado St. 83.7
108 Florida International 83.5
109 New Mexico 82.8
110 UNLV 82.6
111 Southern Mississippi   82.4
112 Florida Atlantic 80.9
113 Eastern Michigan 80.0
114 Texas St. 79.8
115 Colorado 79.5
116 Memphis 76.4
117 Hawaii 76.1
118 U T S A 76.1
119 Tulane 75.2
120 South Alabama 74.8
121 Idaho 74.7
122 Akron 72.8
123 New Mexico St. 72.2
124 Massachusetts 68.5


This Week’s PiRate Vintage Ratings

V i n t a g e
# Team Vintage
1 Oregon 129.5
2 Kansas St. 128.0
3 Georgia  127.0
4 Alabama 126.5
5 L S U 124.5
6 Notre Dame 123.5
7 Texas A&M 123.5
8 Florida St. 122.0
9 Florida  122.0
10 Ohio State 122.0
11 S. Carolina 121.5
12 Oklahoma 120.5
13 Clemson 120.0
14 Stanford 120.0
15 Nebraska 117.5
16 Oklahoma St. 116.5
17 Michigan 115.5
18 Southern Cal 115.5
19 Texas 114.0
20 B Y U 113.5
21 Oregon St. 112.5
22 Washington 112.5
23 U C L A 112.5
24 Vanderbilt 112.0
25 Penn St. 111.5
26 Michigan St. 111.5
27 Wisconsin 111.0
28 San Diego St. 110.5
29 Mississippi St. 110.0
30 Boise St. 109.5
31 T C U 109.0
32 Ole Miss 108.5
33 Northwestern 108.5
34 Texas Tech 108.5
35 Rutgers 108.0
36 Louisville 107.5
37 Fresno St. 107.5
38 Cincinnati 107.0
39 North Carolina St. 106.5
40 Missouri 106.5
41 West Virginia 106.0
42 Arizona 106.0
43 Virginia Tech 105.5
44 Louisiana Tech 105.5
45 Utah 105.5
46 Central Florida 104.5
47 Tulsa 104.5
48 Kent St. 104.5
49 Utah St. 104.5
50 Arkansas 104.0
51 Northern Illinois 104.0
52 Iowa St. 104.0
53 Baylor 103.5
54 Georgia Tech 103.0
55 Miami–FL 103.0
56 Arizona St. 103.0
57 Syracuse 102.5
58 North Carolina 102.5
59 Virginia 102.5
60 Tennessee 102.5
61 San Jose St. 101.5
62 Minnesota 100.5
63 Bowling Green 100.0
64 Duke 99.5
65 Nevada 99.0
66 Arkansas St. 98.5
67 Ball St. 97.5
68 California 97.5
69 Boston College 97.0
70 Purdue 97.0
71 Ohio U 96.5
72 Wake Forest 96.0
73 Auburn 96.0
74 Toledo 96.0
75 Navy 95.5
76 Kansas 95.5
77 S M U 95.0
78 Pittsburgh 94.5
79 Indiana 94.5
80 South Florida 94.0
81 Maryland 94.0
82 East Carolina 93.5
83 Iowa 93.0
84 UL-Lafayette 92.5
85 Illinois 92.0
86 Kentucky 91.5
87 UL-Monroe 91.5
88 Middle Tennessee 91.5
89 Connecticut 91.0
90 Air Force 91.0
91 Temple 90.5
92 Army 90.0
93 Western Kentucky 90.0
94 Washington St. 89.5
95 Colorado St. 88.5
96 Colorado 88.5
97 Buffalo 88.0
98 Central Michigan 88.0
99 Western Michigan 88.0
100 Rice 87.5
101 Troy 87.5
102 Miami (O) 87.5
103 U N L V 87.5
104 Wyoming 86.5
105 U A B 86.0
106 New Mexico 86.0
107 Marshall 85.0
108 U T E P 85.0
109 U T S A 85.0
110 Houston 84.5
111 Texas St. 84.5
112 Florida Int’l 82.0
113 Eastern Michigan 81.0
114 Memphis 80.0
115 Florida Atlantic 79.5
116 North Texas 79.5
117 Hawaii 79.0
118 Massachusetts 77.0
119 Southern Miss. 76.5
120 Tulane 76.0
121 Idaho 76.0
122 Akron 75.5
123 South Alabama 75.0
124 New Mexico St. 70.5


PiRate Ratings By Conference

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Florida St. 6-1 9-1 123.4 122.0
Clemson   6-1 9-1 121.7 120.0
North Carolina St. 3-3 6-4 102.7 106.5
Boston College 1-5 2-8 95.6 97.0
Maryland 2-4 4-6 95.3 94.0
Wake Forest 3-5 5-5 92.4 96.0
Coastal Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
North Carolina 3-3 6-4 107.1 102.5
Georgia Tech 4-3 5-5 106.2 103.0
Virginia Tech 2-4 4-6 103.9 105.5
Miami-FL 4-3 6-4 100.9 103.0
Duke 3-3 6-4 97.8 99.5
Virginia 2-4 4-6 97.3 102.5
Conference Means 103.99   103.69 104.3



Big East Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Rutgers 4-0 8-1 105.8 108.0
Syracuse 4-2 5-5 104.1 102.5
Cincinnati 3-1 7-2 104.0 107.0
Louisville 4-1 9-1 101.9 107.5
Pittsburgh 1-4 4-6 101.2 94.5
South Florida 1-4 3-6 100.8 94.0
Connecticut 1-4 4-6 95.8 91.0
Temple 2-4 3-6 86.6 90.5
Conference Means 99.7   100.03 99.4



Big Ten
Leaders Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Wisconsin   4-2 7-3 115.1 111.0
Ohio St. 6-0 10-0 113.5 122.0
Penn St. 4-2 6-4 108.6 111.5
Purdue 1-5 4-6 99.3 97.0
Indiana 2-4 4-6 93.5 94.5
Illinois 0-6 2-8 90.1 92.0
Legends Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Nebraska 5-1 8-2 115.6 117.5
Michigan 5-1 7-3 114.1 115.5
Michigan St. 2-4 5-5 110.3 111.5
Northwestern 3-3 7-3 105.8 108.5
Minnesota 2-4 6-4 97.7 100.5
Iowa 2-4 4-6 97.0 93.0
Conference Means 105.629   105.05 106.2



Big 12
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Kansas St. 7-0 10-0 131.2 128.0
Oklahoma 5-1 7-2 128.3 120.5
Oklahoma St. 4-2 6-3 123.1 116.5
Texas 5-2 8-2 119.1 114.0
T C U 3-4 6-4 112.4 109.0
Baylor 1-5 4-5 111.6 103.5
Texas Tech 4-3 7-3 110.8 108.5
West Virginia 2-4 5-4 109.8 106.0
Iowa St. 2-5 5-5 108.7 104.0
Kansas 0-7 1-9 98.8 95.5
Conference Means 112.965   115.38 110.6



Conference USA
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Central Florida 6-0 8-2 106.1 104.5
East Carolina 5-1 6-4 94.8 93.5
Marshall 3-3 4-6 88.1 85.0
U A B 2-4 3-7 86.5 86.0
Southern Mississippi   0-6 0-10 82.4 76.5
Memphis 2-4 2-8 76.4 80.0
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Tulsa 6-0 8-2 105.0 104.5
S M U 4-2 5-5 97.0 95.0
Houston 3-3 4-6 89.6 84.5
Rice 2-4 4-6 89.0 87.5
U T E P 1-5 2-8 88.8 85.0
Tulane 2-4 2-8 75.2 76.0
Conference Means 89.0375   89.91 88.2



Team   Overall Rating Vintage
Notre Dame   10-0 123.3 123.5
B Y U   6-4 114.3 113.5
Navy   6-4 92.4 95.5
Army   2-8 87.3 90.0
Conference Means 104.975   104.33 105.6



Mid American Conference
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Kent St. 6-0 9-1 97.8 104.5
Bowling Green 5-1 7-3 96.3 100.0
Ohio U 4-2 8-2 91.6 96.5
Buffalo 2-4 3-7 85.7 88.0
Miami (O) 3-3 4-6 84.8 87.5
Akron 0-7 1-10 72.8 75.5
Massachusetts 1-5 1-9 68.5 77.0
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Northern Illinois   6-0 9-1 104.0 104.0
Ball St. 4-2 7-3 98.6 97.5
Toledo 5-1 8-2 98.3 96.0
Western Michigan 2-5 4-7 91.4 88.0
Central Michigan 2-4 4-6 84.2 88.0
Eastern Michigan 0-6 1-9 80.0 81.0
Conference Means 89.9038   88.77 91.0



Mountain West Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Boise St. 5-1 8-2 106.5 109.5
Fresno St. 6-1 8-3 104.0 107.5
San Diego St. 6-1 8-3 100.2 110.5
Nevada 3-3 6-4 94.8 99.0
Air Force 4-2 5-5 88.6 91.0
Wyoming 2-4 3-7 87.6 86.5
Colorado St. 2-4 3-7 83.7 88.5
New Mexico 1-5 4-7 82.8 86.0
UNLV 2-4 2-9 82.6 87.5
Hawaii 0-6 1-8 76.1 79.0
Conference Means 92.595   90.69 94.5



Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Oregon   7-0 10-0 133.0 129.5
Stanford 6-1 8-2 117.5 120.0
Oregon St. 5-2 7-2 113.6 112.5
Washington 4-3 6-4 110.0 112.5
California 2-6 3-8 102.2 97.5
Washington St. 0-7 2-8 94.2 89.5
South Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
U S C 5-3 7-3 120.5 115.5
U C L A 5-2 8-2 113.7 112.5
Arizona 3-4 6-4 109.0 106.0
Utah 2-5 4-6 108.8 105.5
Arizona St. 3-4 5-5 107.1 103.0
Colorado 1-6 1-9 79.5 88.5
Conference Means 108.4   109.09 107.7



Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Georgia 7-1 9-1 123.4 127.0
South Carolina 6-2 8-2 122.5 121.5
Florida 7-1 9-1 118.8 122.0
Missouri 2-5 5-5 109.7 106.5
Vanderbilt 4-3 6-4 109.6 112.0
Tennessee 0-6 4-6 109.0 102.5
Kentucky 0-7 1-9 88.6 91.5
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Alabama 6-1 9-1 132.0 126.5
Texas A&M 5-2 8-2 127.0 123.5
L S U   4-2 8-2 125.6 124.5
Mississippi St. 3-3 7-3 108.3 110.0
Ole Miss 2-4 5-5 106.2 108.5
Arkansas 2-4 4-6 103.4 104.0
Auburn 0-7 2-8 98.3 96.0
Conference Means 112.8   113.03 112.6



Sunbelt Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Arkansas St. 5-1 7-3 97.4 98.5
UL-Lafayette 3-2 5-4 95.1 92.5
Louisiana-Monroe 4-2 6-4 94.1 91.5
Western Kentucky 3-3 6-4 92.5 90.0
Troy 3-3 5-5 89.3 87.5
Middle Tennessee 4-1 6-3 86.5 91.5
North Texas 3-3 4-6 86.2 79.5
Florida International 1-5 2-8 83.5 82.0
Florida Atlantic 2-4 3-7 80.9 79.5
South Alabama 1-5 2-8 74.8 75.0
Conference Means 87.39   88.03 86.8



Western Athletic Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Louisiana Tech   4-0 9-1 104.6 105.5
Utah St. 4-0 8-2 104.0 104.5
San Jose St. 4-1 8-2 99.8 101.5
Texas St. 1-3 3-6 79.8 84.5
U T S A 1-3 6-4 76.1 85.0
Idaho 1-3 1-9 74.7 76.0
New Mexico St. 0-5 1-9 72.2 70.5
Conference Means 88.4786   87.31 89.6



This Week’s PiRate Spreads

This Week’s Games
Favorite Underdog PiRate Vintage Line
Wednesday, November 14      
BALL ST. Ohio U 10.0 4.0 6 1/2
NORTHERN ILLINOIS Toledo 8.7 11.0 10   
Thursday, November 15      
North Carolina VIRGINIA 6.8 -3.0 3 1/2
Friday, November 16      
AIR FORCE Hawaii 16.5 16.0 23   
Florida Int’l FLORIDA ATLANTIC 0.6 0.5 -1 1/2
Saturday, November 17      
GEORGIA TECH Duke 11.4 6.5 13   
ARMY Temple 3.2 2.0 3 1/2
BOWLING GREEN Kent St. 0.5 -2.0 2 1/2
Virginia Tech BOSTON COLLEGE 5.3 5.5 10   
NEBRASKA Minnesota 20.9 20.0 20   
MISSISSIPPI ST. Arkansas 7.9 9.0 6 1/2
MIAMI-FLA South Florida 2.1 11.0 7   
Purdue ILLINOIS 6.2 2.0 7   
Iowa St. KANSAS 6.9 5.5 6   
MARSHALL Houston 1.5 3.5 3 1/2
Florida St. MARYLAND 25.1 25.0 31   
Buffalo MASSACHUSETTS 15.2 9.0 11   
MICHIGAN ST. Northwestern 7.5 6.0 6 1/2
CLEMSON North Carolina St. 22.0 16.5 17   
CINCINNATI Rutgers 1.2 2.0 6 1/2
PENN ST. Indiana 18.1 20.0 18 1/2
VANDERBILT Tennessee 2.6 11.5 4   
CENTRAL MICHIGAN Miami (O) 1.9 3.0 3 1/2
U A B Memphis 12.6 8.5 10   
WESTERN MICHIGAN Eastern Michigan 13.4 9.0 13   
Oklahoma WEST VIRGINIA 15.5 11.5 11   
Southern Cal U C L A 4.8 1.0 4   
BOISE ST. Colorado St. 25.8 24.0 28   
NAVY Texas St. 15.6 14.0 13   
Kansas St. BAYLOR 16.6 21.5 12   
Nevada NEW MEXICO 9.0 10.0 10   
NOTRE DAME Wake Forest 33.9 30.5 24   
OREGON Stanford 18.5 12.5 20 1/2
OREGON ST. California 14.4 18.0 NL
S m u RICE 5.5 5.0 3 1/2
East Carolina TULANE 17.1 15.0 9 1/2
TULSA Central Florida 1.9 3.0 3   
MICHIGAN Iowa 20.1 25.5 20   
Washington COLORADO 27.5 21.0 20 1/2
B y u SAN JOSE ST. 11.5 9.0 3   
Wyoming U N L V 2.5 -3.5 NL
IDAHO U t s a 1.1 -6.5 -6 1/2
UTAH Arizona 2.8 2.5 NL
MISSOURI Syracuse 8.6 7.0 4 1/2
OKLAHOMA ST. Texas Tech 15.3 11.0 10 1/2
LOUISIANA TECH Utah St. 3.6 4.0 -3   
WISCONSIN Ohio St. 4.6 -8.0 3   
L S U Ole Miss 22.4 19.0 18 1/2
U t e p SOUTHERN MISS. 3.9 6.0 4   
ARIZONA ST. Washington St. 15.9 16.5 22   
Arkansas St. TROY 5.1 8.0 3   
UL-MONROE North Texas 10.9 15.0 10   
Middle Tennessee SOUTH ALABAMA 9.2 14.0 9   
UL-LAFAYETTE Western Kentucky 5.6 5.5 4   


Bowl Projections

Bowl Conference Team Conference Team
New Mexico MWC # 4/5 Nevada Pac12 #7 / WAC Arizona
Famous Idaho Potato MAC #3 Northern Illinois WAC #1/2 Utah St.
Poinsettia MWC #2 Fresno St. BYU/WAC B Y U
Beef O’Brady’s Big East #6 (UL-Lafayette) C-USA #2-5 (4) East Carolina
New Orleans Sunbelt #1 Arkansas St. C-USA #2-5 (5) (San Jose St.)
MAACO MWC #1 Boise St. Pac 12 #5 U C L A
Hawaii MWC #3/Hawaii San Diego St. C-USA #2-5 (2) Central Florida
Little Caesar’s Pizza Big 10 #8 (Western Ky.) MAC #1 Kent St.
Military ACC #8 (Ohio U) Army/CUSA (Arizona St.)
Belk ACC #5 Georgia Tech Big East #3 Rutgers
Holiday Pac 12 #3 Washington Big 12 #5 West Virginia
Independence ACC #6/7 (7) (Middle Tenn.) SEC #10 (La. Tech)
Russell Athletic Big East #2 Louisville ACC #3 North Carolina St.
Meineke Car Care Big 12 #6 Iowa St. Big 10 #6 Minnesota
Armed Forces C-USA #3 S M U MWC #4-5 Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger Pac 12 #6 Oregon St. Navy/ACC Navy
Pinstripe Big East #4 Syracuse Big 12 #7 T C U
Alamo Big 12 #3 Texas Tech Pac 12 #2 Stanford
Buffalo Wild Wings Big 12 #4 Oklahoma St. Big 10 #4 or 5 Michigan St.
Music City SEC # 7 Vanderbilt ACC #6 Duke
Sun ACC #4 Virginia Tech Pac 12 #4 Southern Cal
Liberty SEC#8-9/BigEast Missouri C-USA #1 Tulsa
Chick-fil-A SEC #5 South Carolina ACC #2 Miami-Fla
Heart of Dallas Big 10 #7 (Bowling Green) Big 12 #8 (Utah)
Gator Big 10 #4 or 5 Northwestern SEC #6 Mississippi St.
Capital One Big 10 #2 Michigan SEC #2 L S U
Outback SEC #3 or 4 Florida Big 10 #3 Wisconsin
Rose BCS Pac12 Notre Dame BCS Big 10 Nebraska
Orange BCS ACC Florida St. BCS At-Large Cincinnati
Sugar BCS SEC Alabama BCS At-Large Clemson
Fiesta BCS Big 12 Oklahoma BCS At-Large Georgia
Cotton Big 12 #2 Texas SEC #3 or 4 Texas A&M
BBVA Compass Big East#5/CUSA (Ball St.) SEC #8 or 9 Ole Miss Sunbelt # 2 UL-Monroe MAC #2 Toledo
National Championship *** BCS #1 *** Kansas St. *** BCS #2 *** Oregon


March 19, 2011

Saturday’s NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

All Times EDT

Number in (Parentheses) indicates PiRate Criteria Rating

For a detailed explanation of the PiRate Criteria Rating, click on the following link:


12:15 PM on CBS

Kentucky (14) vs. West Virginia (6)

The Wildcats seek revenge today for their regional final exit of last year.  This Kentucky team has what last year’s team lacked—consistent outside shooting to complement their more than decent dribble-drive.  While not as talented, Coach John Calipari’s squad is more complete this year.  The Blue Misters are jelling at the right time, and we believe they will advance to the Sweet 16.


West Virginia is not as dominating inside as they were last year, and they might be a little to slow and methodical to compete against the quicker Wildcats.  Coach Bob Huggins will have a great gameplan ready, and we believe the Mountaineers will keep it close.


We see this as a game of spurts.  Kentucky will enjoy one spurt in both halves, and WVU will attempt to creep back in the game both times.


Prediction: Kentucky 74  West Virginia 67


2:40 PM on CBS

Florida (15) vs. U C L A (-3)

The PiRate Criteria rates this game a giant mismatch, and we see no reason why not to agree. This would be a great game if all the former Bruins now playing in the NBA would have used their four years of eligibility.  However, this is more like the old Brubabes when schools fielded Freshmen and later Junior Varsity teams.  This UCLA team is better than Florida’s second team.  The Gators’ best players are still around, while UCLA’s best senior is the star of the Minnesota Timberwolves.


Florida has a large quickness advantage, and they will win the hustle points.  This one should be out of hand by halftime or five minutes into the second half.


Prediction: Florida 75  U C L A 62


5:15 PM on CBS

Morehead State (3) vs. Richmond (2)

This game will be one of the more interesting contests in the Round of 32.  Morehead State is an aggressive take-it-to-the-hoop and score or pass back for a three team.  The Racers have the closest thing to Elvin Hayes on their roster.  Kenneth Faried is much better than Dennis Rodman, but he is much thinner than Wes Unseld, and he has a better offensive game than both of those historically fantastic rebounders.  Faried can take it to the hoop, and he can pull up and fire from the foul line area, much like the great Hayes used to do with Houston and in the NBA.


Richmond will try to make this a game of the smart beating the strong, because the Spiders do not have much of an answer for Faried inside.  However, they enjoy a huge advantage on the perimeter.


This game will come down to this easy pointer: whichever team performs better at their strength and defends the other’s strength will win.  We think this one could end on a buzzer beater or go to overtime, but we will go with the chalk and take the higher PiRate score.


By the way, the last time an Ohio Valley Conference team advanced to the Sweet 16, it was Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers left the OVC more than two decades ago.


Prediction: Morehead State 64  Richmond 62


6:10 PM on TNT

San Diego State (19) vs. Temple (5)

If our criteria rating is going to be accurate this season, then we need to see the Aztecs play much better today than they did in a lackluster opening round win over Northern Colorado.  If San Diego State is firing on all cylinders, Temple has little or no chance in this game.


This Owl team is not quick enough or strong enough to battle this Aztec team if SDSU is playing just an average game.  If the Aztecs come out flat, Coach Fran Dunphy’s Owls could keep it close for 40 minutes and even be in striking distance.


Steve Fisher has been to the Final Four three times, and he knows how to prepare a team in tournament play.  He has enough talent to get there again, and we believe SDSU will play much better today against a much better opponent than Northern Colorado.  Remember this: Temple ran Duke of the Palestra floor less a month ago.  They have enough talent to win this game, but we do not see it happening.


Prediction: San Diego State 72  Temple 62


7:10 PM on TBS

Pittsburgh (18) vs. Butler (7)

We know better than to count out a team coached by Brad Stevens.  However, Butler’s bubble is going to burst today.


Pittsburgh is just too talented to lose this game, even if Coach Jamie Dixon sometimes loses control of that talent.  The Panthers know what Butler can do, and they will be fired up for this game just as much as if they were playing Ohio State, Duke, or Kansas.


Butler is playing its best ball at the right time, but they are plainly outmanned against a superior team.  We expect the Bulldogs to keep it close and still have a chance with 10 minutes to go, but the Panthers will wear them down and pull away to what looks like an easier win than it was.


Prediction: Pittsburgh 71  Butler 59


7:45 PM on CBS

B Y U (18) vs. Gonzaga (13)

When you penalize BYU for the loss of Brandon Davies, their criteria score drops by about five points.  This ironically makes this game a complete tossup.


Jimmer Fredette may be able to score 40-50 points in this game, but Gonzaga could place five players in double figures.  We tend to like the odds of five scorers outscoring one.


Coach Mark Few deserves high accolades for turning this Bulldog team around in midseason.  The Zags appeared to be NIT-bound, before they turned it up a notch and began playing the best basketball seen in Spokane since the days of Adam Morrison.


We believe Gonzaga is Sweet 16-bound, and we would not be surprised if they give Florida a great game in a potential matchup.


Prediction: Gonzaga 84  B Y U 75


8:40 PM on TNT

Kansas State (9) vs. Wisconsin (7)

This one is the other great game of the day.  How about Jacob Pullen versus Jordan Taylor, and Jon Leuer versus Curtis Kelly?  If you like great player matchups, then this is the game of the day for you.


Kansas State is a tad stronger on the perimeter and a tad quicker, while Wisconsin is a tad stronger inside.  We expect the tempo to be controlled by the Badgers, so the score will be one of the lowest of the day, if not the lowest.


We have no real favorite in this game, so we will stick with the PiRate Criteria scores.  Two points is not much; it equates to about a 55% chance of the favorite winning.


Prediction: Kansas State 59  Wisconsin 55


9:40 PM on TBS

Connecticut (9) vs. Cincinnati (9)

Here we have our first game between teams from the same conference and teams that have already played against each other.  In their lone regular season contest in Cincinnati, the Huskies won on the road by eight points. 


Both teams play tenacious defense and rely on just a couple of players to lead on offense.  They know each other well, so it should be a high-spirited, tightly-fought game with a lot of excellent defensive possessions sprinkled with the occasional great offensive play.


Cincinnati will concentrate their efforts on stopping Kemba Walker, while the Huskies will try to keep the ball away from Yancy Gates and Dion Dixon.


This is the other game that could come down to a buzzer-beater, but we have a sneaky suspicion that Connecticut is about to explode and play like Husky teams of the past.


Prediction: Connecticut 69  Cincinnati 59

March 14, 2011

2011 PiRate NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:01 pm

1. Which teams meet the upper range criteria in every category?  That means they outscored their opponents by eight or more per game; their field goal percentage was greater than 7.5% better than their opponents; they outrebounded their opponents by five or more per game; they forced at least three more turnovers per game than they committed; and they stole the ball 7.5 or more times per game.


ANSWER—No teams this year meet all the perfect criteria described above.  Six teams come close to meeting the perfect criteria, but all fall short in at least one statistic.  This means there is no clear-cut favorite—only six teams that most closely resemble the great champions of the past.  Of the six, three come from power conferences.  These three are Kansas, Ohio State, and Syracuse.


Kansas fails to meet the turnover margin requirement, but the Jayhawks surpass all the other qualifications.  Ohio State comes up a tad bit short in field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and steals per game, but just misses in all three.  Syracuse misses in rebounding and turnover margin, but they Orangemen do not miss by much. 


2. Which teams can be immediately eliminated due to a negative R+T rating?  Which teams have an incredibly low R+T Rating (<2.0)?


ANSWER—Three teams can immediately be eliminated due to negative R+T Ratings.  It comes as no surprise that Alabama State and Texas-San Antonio, two teams facing off in the First Round in Dayton, have negative R+T ratings.  The third team is Michigan.  The Wolverines were outrebounded by 1.9 boards per game, and they only had a +1.4 turnover margin with just 4.7 steals per game.


Five other teams finished with R+T ratings less than 2.0.  This usually means one and done for these teams, unless they have outstanding FG% margins or cupcake opponents with worse criteria numbers.  Those five teams are: Penn State, Richmond, St. Peter’s, UCLA, and UCSB.


3. Which teams are capable of winning it all?


ANSWER—We separate the contenders from the pretenders by looking at the total PiRate Criteria score and then looking to see if the high criteria scoring teams receive merit on every individual statistic.


Last year, Duke was head and heels better than the other 64 teams.  The Blue Devils had the highest score overall, and they satisfactorily rated in every PiRate category.


No teams appear to be as strong this year as the Blue Devils were last year, but nine teams meet most of the minimum requirements to be considered Final Four contenders this year.


It should come as no surprise that the top two teams, Ohio State and Kansas, rank at the top in the Criteria.  Kansas actually has the highest score of the 68 teams, a score of 23.  The Jayhawks outscored their opposition by 17.2 points, shot 11.7% better from the field than their opponents, and outrebounded their opponents by 7.8 boards per game.  These stats are worthy of a powerhouse.  However, KU enjoyed just a 0.9 turnover margin and stole the ball 7.9 times per game, giving the Jayhawks an R+T Rating of 9.5.  We tend to look for teams with an R+T Rating in excess of 10, so KU is not a great favorite to go all the way. 


Ohio State’s total Criteria score is 21, good for second best.  However, the Buckeyes enjoy an R+T Rating of 13.2, which is a number we really like in a Final Four contender.  This number correlates to 13 extra scoring opportunities that their opposition does not receive.  OSU outscores their opponents by 17.3 points per game, shot 6.9% better from the field than they allows, outrebounded their opponents by 4.9 per game, had a turnover margin of +4.8, and stole the ball 7.2 times per game. 


San Diego State comes in third with 19 total criteria points.  BYU, Pittsburgh, and Texas come in next with 18 points; the Panthers have an R+T rating above 10.  The other three teams with PiRate Criteria scores showing themselves to be strong contenders for a Final Four berth are Syracuse, Purdue, and Duke


Florida, North Carolina, and UNLV are actually almost in a statistical tie with Duke, meaning those three are dark horse candidates for the Final Four.


Overall, this is the weakest field by far in the six tournaments where we have ranked the teams according to our criteria.  Looking back, this could be the weakest field since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. 


North Carolina State, Kansas, and Villanova won national titles in the past with less than stellar numbers.  We do not have all the statistics from those years, so we cannot really calculate criteria numbers for those three champions.  Could this be a season in which one team gets hot for six games and comes from out of the pack to win it all?  It could happen, but we are sticking with this mechanical system and going with its results.  Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Texas appear to be the best PiRate Criteria matches to past Final Four teams, and they are the quartet we officially pick to make it to Houston.  Syracuse becomes the wildcard team that could sneak into the mix.


Here is a look at the First Four Round One games and the 32 second round games.  The number in (parentheses) represents the PiRate Bracketnomics criteria number.


First Four Round


#16 Texas-San Antonio 19-13 (Elim) vs. #16 Alabama State 17-17 (Elim)

At first, we thought this was highly ironic, but upon further review, we consider it sort of a compliment.  These two teams both must be eliminated based on negative R+T ratings.  Of course, one of them must win this game so that they can advance to a 25-point or more loss in the next round.


Most of you filling out your brackets do not have to worry about these games in Dayton.  You get to turn in your choices after these games have been played.


UTSA has better criteria numbers after you factor out both teams’ R+T numbers. 


Prediction: Texas-San Antonio 64  Alabama State 55



#12 U A B 22-8 (2) vs. #12 Clemson 21-11 (1)

If you have been following the “experts” since the pairings were announced Sunday evening, then you know that these two teams do not belong in the tournament in their opinion.  It is not our mission statement to declare which teams should and should not have been included in the Big Dance, but we will tell you that Harvard and Saint Mary’s enjoyed Criteria scores several points better than these two teams, while Colorado and Virginia Tech had equal numbers to these two.


This game should be as close as the criteria scores show.  UAB has a one-point advantage in the criteria, but the Blazers just do not excel in any stage of the game.  Clemson’s strong point is forcing turnovers by way of steals, and that leads to a lot of cheap baskets.  Cheap baskets pay off big time in the NCAA Tournament, so we will take the Tigers in this one.


Prediction: Clemson 74  UAB 67


#11 Southern Cal 19-14 (-1) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth 23-11 (-1)

The winner of this game is going home two days later.  Neither team merits inclusion in the Big Dance this year. 


Southern Cal has no apparent weakness according to the PiRate Criteria.  In fact, they have a great resume—for an NIT team.


The Trojans outscore their opponents by four points per game, and they outshoot them by 3.3%.  They have a small rebounding margin of 1.2, and they have an even smaller turnover margin of 0.6.  They average six steals per game and have a R+T rating of 2.1.  On top of these modest numbers, their schedule was average.


VCU is much in the same boat as USC with two exceptions.  They have a negative turnover margin, but they also average 8.5 steals per game.


The only other difference in these teams is their records away from home.  USC won only 41% of their games, while VCU won 60%.


This one is quite tough to pick, but we will go with the Trojans due to their superior inside talent.  We expect USC to win the rebounding edge by at least five.


Prediction: Southern Cal  65  V C U  60


#16 UNC-Asheville 19-13 (-5) vs. #16 Arkansas-Little Rock 19-16 (-13)

Obviously, we have two teams that would not even merit NIT bids had they lost in the championship games of their conference tournaments.  UALR has one of the lowest Criteria Scores in the seven years we have been calculating this data.


UNC-Asheville actually has a couple of positive Criteria stats.  Their R+T is 5.5, which had it come against a more difficult schedule, would have made them worthy of becoming a possible team to watch in the Round of 64.


We will go with UNCA here, as schedule strength is about the same for both teams.


Prediction: UNC-Asheville 69  Arkansas-Little Rock 59



Second-Round Games


East Regional


#1 Ohio State 32-2 (21) vs. #16 UTSA (Elim)/Alabama State (Elim)

This game will be over quickly.  There will be no scare, not even for two TV timeouts.  The second highest Criteria score versus one of the teams with an R+T Rating of “Eliminate.”


The Buckeyes outscored their opponents by more than 17 points per game.  Their strength of schedule was 13 points better than UTSA and 16 points better than Alabama State. 


We will go under the theory that UTSA will be the opponent in this game.  Using our Criteria Rating, Ohio State figures to be 30-40 points better than UTSA.  Coach Thad Matta will definitely empty his bench early in this game, so the Buckeyes may “only win” by 25-30. 


Prediction: Ohio State 78  Texas-San Antonio 50


#8 George Mason 26-6 (8) vs. #9 Villanova 21-11 (5)

George Mason is the higher seed in this game, so if they win, it cannot really be considered an upset.


Villanova was on course to be a four-seed when the Wildcats were 16-5 and contending for the Big East Conference regular season title.  The Wildcats could not compete down low against the more physical teams in their league.


George Mason has a higher PiRate Criteria Score, but it is not an insurmountable advantage.  The key stat for this game is the R+T Rating.  For GMU, it is 6.8.  For VU, it is 4.9.  Considering that Villanova played a harder schedule, these numbers basically cancel each other out, thus making this a tossup game.


There are two variables to consider here.  George Mason performed much better on the road, and Villanova is banged up a bit.


Prediction: George Mason 66  Villanova 62


#5 West Virginia 20-11 (6) vs. #12 UAB (2)/Clemson (1)

We believe the Mountaineers will be facing Clemson in this game, but the prediction will hold up if they play UAB. 


West Virginia is not as good this season as last season, and the Mountaineers will not advance to the Final Four, or even the Elite Eight.  They are liable to be out by the end of the weekend.  However, they are strong enough to get into the Round of 32. 


The Mountaineers best attribute is that they put up decent numbers against one of the toughest schedules in the country.  Of the NCAA Tournament teams, only Georgetown played a tougher schedule.  They will have to limit turnovers, or else this game will be close and go down to the wire.  We believe Coach Bob Huggins will be able to keep the pace at a level he likes and not allow Clemson (or UAB) to force the Mountaineers into enough mistakes to turn the tide.


Prediction: West Virginia 69  Clemson 62 (Or UAB 58)


#4 Kentucky 25-8 (14) vs. #13 Princeton 25-6 (-2)

Princeton has pulled off the big upset in the past, and they came within a missed jumper at the buzzer of becoming the only #16 seed to beat a #1 seed.  However, that was two decades ago.  The Tigers have not been to the NCAA Tournament in seven years, and that big win over UCLA was 15 years ago. 


Kentucky is not the type of team that will allow Princeton’s style of play to affect their style of play.  The Wildcats should actually play better than their norm with fewer mistakes. 


We believe that Princeton will actually crumble under relentless man-to-man pressure and turn the ball over enough times in the opening minutes of the game to allow the Wildcats to open a quick double-digit lead.  This group of Cats tends to fiddle around a little once they get a quick double-digit lead and then play uninspired ball until the opponent makes a run.  Then, they go on the attack at the right time and put the game away.


Adolph Rupp had a team just like this in 1958.  They were called “The Fiddlin’ Five.”  They were also called National Champions.  We won’t go so far as to put UK into this category, but we will advance the Wildcats into the next round and then into the Sweet 16.


Prediction: Kentucky 72  Princeton 59


#6 Xavier 24-7 (8) vs. #11 Marquette 20-14 (3)

If you are looking for a tough, hard-fought game with two Midwestern teams, then tune into this game Friday evening.


If the Musketeers were a little more competent at forcing turnovers, they could be a dark horse candidate to advance to the Elite Eight.  XU shoots the ball well and plays well on defense when it comes to preventing a lot of easy shots.  They do well on the boards, and against a team that cannot exploit their ball-handling and ball-hawking deficiencies, they will hold their own inside.  The only other possible problem for the Musketeers is a lack of depth, but in the NCAA Tournaments, TV timeouts are longer.  It is hard to wear a team down with such long breaks every four or so minutes.


Marquette does not have enough depth to take advantage of Xavier’s lack of depth, so this factor will become a non-factor.  The Golden Eagles got to this tournament due to their ability to put the ball into the basket.  Marquette needs to shoot better than 46% to win, while Xavier is adept at holding teams under 45% as a rule.


Prediction: Xavier 71  Marquette 65


#3 Syracuse 26-7 (17) vs. #14 Indiana State 20-13 (-4)

Syracuse has been getting very little national exposure since their 18-0 start ended with an 8-7 finish.  The Orangemen are a team to watch in this tournament.  If not for a pedestrian 71% winning percentage away from the Carrier Dome, we would have them as one of the top four teams in this tournament.


Coach Jim Boeheim’s team outscores their opposition by 10.3 points per game; they outshoot them by 7.6%, and they outrebound them by 3.6 boards per game.  Their turnover margin is +1.9, and they averaged almost nine steals per game.  Their R+T Rating is 7.6, and their Strength of Schedule is somewhere between above-average and very good.  This is the Criteria Score of a team that will advance to the Sweet 16 and compete for an Elite Eight and Final Four berth.


Indiana State needs the return of Larry Bird to win this game.  They are too perimeter-oriented.  The Sycamores do not have the beef down low to contend in the paint, and even though Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone, teams rarely beat the Orangemen by firing up 25 long-range bombs.


This one smells like a blowout.


Prediction: Syracuse 81  Indiana State 62


#7 Washington 23-10 (13) vs. #10 Georgia 21-11 (2)

Washington is one of those teams that can play with anybody in this tournament—when they are playing up to their potential.  The Huskies could also exit in the first round if they play like they did the weekend they went to Oregon and Oregon State.


Georgia is much more consistent, but their best effort will not defeat the Huskies’ best effort.


Washington lacked the seasoned experience this season, and it showed when they ventured away from Seattle.  The Huskies lost to weaker opponents because they lacked the composure to win on foreign courts.  That changed when they arrived in Los Angeles for the Pac-10 Tournament.  Isaiah Thomas took over command of the team and led them to the tournament title.  This makes UW a scary and dangerous team capable of returning to the Sweet 16.


Georgia must really dominate the glass in this game, because we believe they will turn the ball over too many times against UW’s pressure man-to-man defense.  It is our opinion that the Bulldogs will play a little timidly at the start of this game and find themselves in a hole.


The Bulldogs had trouble against Alabama’s defense, and Washington is similar but with a much better offense.


Prediction: Washington 78  Georgia 70


#2 North Carolina 26-7 (15) vs. #15 Long Island 27-5 (-1)


Long Island is just the type of team that can forget that their opponent is a dynasty program that chews up and spits out little programs like this.


Teams from Brooklyn don’t intimidate easily, especially when they are led by a trio of Texans.  So, LIU will not be intimidated, but will they be talented enough to make a game of this contest?


That’s the rub.  They lack the defensive ability to slow down the Tar Heels, while Coach Roy Williams’ team will be able to hold the Blackbirds under their scoring average.  The big problem for LIU will be holding onto the ball, and we could see North Carolina forcing 20 turnovers in this game.  When the Tar Heels force more turnovers than they commit, they are almost unbeatable.  This game could be interesting for a short time, but it will eventually get out of hand.


Prediction: North Carolina 88  Long Island 70


West Regional


#1 Duke 30-4 (15) vs. #16 Hampton 24-8 (-8)

Duke has nothing to worry about here.  This will be like one of their November/December home games where they quickly put the cupcake away with a barrage of power and speed.  You know the type: a 37-point win over Princeton; a 34-point win over Miami of Ohio; a 52-point win over Colgate.


Hampton got to the Dance using an aggressive defense and three-point shooting barrage on offense.  Duke will not be affected by the defensive pressure, and they will cut off the open shots from the outside.  It will be a mercy killing, and it will be quick.  Look for the Blue Devils to be up by more than 15 points before the halfway point of the first half.  By the time Coach K empties the bench, the Blue Devils should be up by 25-30 points.


Prediction: Duke 81  Hampton 61


#8 Michigan 20-13 (Elim) vs. #9 Tennessee 19-14 (10)

Michigan is the highest-rated team that fails to meet our R+T Rating requirement, so the Wolverines are automatically tabbed as a first-round loser.


Coach Jim Beilein has been in a similar position before.  He guided a West Virginia team with not-so-flashy Criteria numbers to the Elite Eight, where they forced Louisville to come from 20 points down to rally for the victory.  That WVU team had one of the worst negative rebounding numbers of any team in Elite Eight history, but that team made few mistakes and had a nice turnover margin.


This Michigan team was only outrebounded by two a game, but they do not create enough extra possessions with their miniscule turnover margin of 1.4 and their average of just 4.7 steals per game.


Tennessee has been up and down, and the Volunteers are not going to make a repeat run to the Elite Eight this year.  However, Coach Bruce Pearl’s troops will control the boards in this game and maybe force more turnovers than they commit.  We figure that Tennessee will have 10 more opportunities to score in this game, and that is too many for the Wolverines to make up with their three-point shooting.


Prediction: Tennessee 74  Michigan 69


#5 Arizona 27-7 (3) vs. #12 Memphis 25-9 (-1)

Memphis was not going to earn an at-large bid this season had they failed to win the Conference USA Tournament.  They received an ideal first round opponent, and the Tigers actually have a fighting chance to pull off yet another classic #12-seed over #5-seed upset.


Arizona needs to pound the ball inside and rely on numerous offensive rebounds to win this game.  Other teams might be able to exploit Memphis’s poor ball-handling skills, but the Wildcats do not have the defensive acumen to take advantage here.


Memphis will try to make this an up-tempo game where they can neutralize Arizona’s height advantage inside.  It has a chance of working, but Arizona probably has too much power inside and just enough quickness to stop the Tigers’ transition game.


Prediction: Arizona 76  Memphis 69


#4 Texas 27-7 (18) vs. #13 Oakland 25-9 (3)

This has become a popular upset pick in the media.  Oakland has generated a lot of positive press, and many “experts” are calling for the upset in this game.  We are not one of them.  Not only do we believe the Longhorns will take care of Oakland with relative ease in this game, we believe Texas is a force to be reckoned with in the next two or three rounds. 


Let’s look at Texas’ Criteria Rating.  At 18, the ‘Horns rate as our sixth best team in the tournament.  They have a 13.5 point scoring margin, a 7.1% field goal margin, a 6.6 rebounding margin, and a 1.2 turnover margin.  Their only Achilles Heel is a low amount of steals resulting in a R+T Rating of 8.3.  Had that number been above 10, we would be selecting Coach Rick Barnes’ team for the Final Four.


Oakland won this year with strong rebounding and an excellent ability to force their opponents into bad shots.  Center Keith Benson is a future NBA player, but he is not enough to propel the Golden Grizzlies into the next round.


Prediction: Texas 77  Oakland 65


#6 Cincinnati 25-8 (9) vs. #11 Missouri 23-9 (10)

On paper, this looks like the best game of this round between a team with contrasting styles.


Cincinnati is one of the top defensive teams in the tournament.  The Bearcats are tough inside, and they have quality depth to continue playing hard in the paint. 


Missouri uses the “40 minutes of Hell” approach that Coach Mike Anderson learned under his mentor Nolan Richardson.  The Tigers press full court and run the fast break as often as they get the chance.  They are perimeter-oriented and can score a lot of points in a hurry.


When we try to decide tossup games, we look to the all-important defense and rebounding stats, since that is what wins close games in the Big Dance. 


Missouri is vulnerable in both of these crucial areas.  They have given up a lot of cheap baskets this year when teams solved their press.  The Tigers were outrebounded by 1.7 boards per game.


Cincinnati owns a +2.7 rebounding margin, and the Bearcats held onto the ball quite competently.  We believe Coach Mick Cronin’s crew will advance.


Prediction: Cincinnati 68  Missouri 65


#3 Connecticut 26-9 (9) vs. #14 Bucknell 25-8 (-4)

Ask Kansas Coach Bill Self if it is wise to underestimate Bucknell.  The Bison know how to hold onto the ball and work for intelligent shots.  Give them an opening, and they can bury you with a high field goal percentage.


Connecticut did the unthinkable by winning five games in five days.  Their defense does not get the merit it deserves, because Kemba Walker gets more attention for his offensive antics.  The Huskies actually held teams under 40% from the field.


Coach Jim Calhoun knows how to prepare a team for tournament action.  He will have UConn ready for this game, and the Huskies will not overlook the Bison.


Prediction: Connecticut 73  Bucknell 58


#7 Temple 25-7 (5) vs. #10 Penn State 19-14 (-1)

Temple’s score must be tempered by the fact that they are a wounded team coming into this tournament.  Two starters suffered injuries late in the season, and one is out for the remainder of the year, while the other may or may not be ready to play.  We must throw out Temple’s score of “5” in the PiRate Criteria, because 40% of the key players that produced that number will either not play or be greatly less effective.


Penn State is a lot like Southern Cal in this tournament.  The Nittany Lions have the look of a strong NIT team.  Aside from a so-so record against a strong schedule, they really have little to offer outside of one star player. 


We believe this Keystone State rivalry game will be close, and it could come down to the last shot.  Because the Owls are limping, we will go with the Big Ten representative.


Prediction: Penn State 59  Temple 56


#2 San Diego State 32-2 (19) vs. #15 Northern Colorado 21-10 (-6)

Most of you reading this probably cannot remember Texas Western University, but you may have scene the movie where the Miners were too quick for Kentucky and pulled off the big upset to win the 1966 National Championship.  Maybe some of you remember the Long Beach State 49ers ascension into the top 10 under Jerry Tarkanian and then Lute Olson.  Still more can remember when Tark the Shark moved to UNLV and turned the Runnin’ Rebels into a national power.


San Diego State is the next Western team to fit this bill.  The Aztecs are legitimate contenders to advance deep into this tournament.  They have few exploitable weaknesses, and they are the best team West of the Rockies.  Coach Steve Fisher knows how to get teams ready for tournament play, as he has three Final Fours on his resume and one National Championship.


SDSU’s PiRate Criteria numbers are flashy.  Their scoring margin is 13.3 points per game.  Their FG% margin is 7.1%.  They outrebound their opposition by almost seven per game, and they force 1.6 more turnovers than they commit.  Their one weak spot is a pedestrian 6.2 steals average.  If they run up against a more powerful team inside, they could have trouble getting enough extra scoring opportunities.


Northern Colorado will not be one of those teams that can cause trouble for the Aztecs.  The Bears are a good rebounding team, but their rebounding prowess came against a schedule that rates 10 points weaker than San Diego State’s schedule.


Prediction: San Diego State 73  Northern Colorado 51


Southwest Regional

#1 Kansas 32-2 (23) vs. #16 Boston U 21-13 (-11)

Kansas is a team on a mission.  The Jayhawks will not allow a repeat of what happened last year, and that extra incentive should be enough to send KU to Houston.


Kansas has the top PiRate Criteria Score this year.  They meet the basic requirements that most prior National Champions have met—scoring margin: 17.2; FG% margin: 11.7; Rebounding margin: 7.8; Turnover Margin: 0.9; Steals per game: 7.9; R+T Ratings: 9.5.


How do you beat this year’s KU team?  Kansas State and Texas pulled it off by matching up well inside and going head-to-head with them in the paint.


Boston U has the second lowest PiRate Criteria score of the 65 teams that have positive R+T Ratings.  The Terriers are way overmatched in this game, and they will have to be glad they just made it here.


Prediction: Kansas 90  Boston U 62


#8 U N L V 24-8 (15) vs. #9 Illinois 19-13 (1)

If our ratings are worth their salt, then this game should not be all that close.  UNLV may be just the third best team in the Mountain West, but the MWC was better overall this year than the Pac-10.  Third best in the MWC makes the Runnin’ Rebels one of the dozen or so teams capable of making a two weekend run.


Coach Lon Kruger has taken two different teams to the Elite Eight (Kansas State and Florida).  His teams play intelligently without being flashy.


UNLV went 24-3 against teams not named Brigham Young or San Diego State.  They are not particularly strong on the boards, and this will eventually be their downfall.  The Rebels shoot the ball brilliantly, and they alter enough opponent shots to force a lower field goal percentage.  They also take care of the ball and do not make a lot of floor mistakes.


Illinois is an inconsistent, underachieving team.  This can be dangerous for the prognosticator, because it is difficult if not impossible to predict which schizophrenic state will appear for each game.


The Illini are not particularly strong on the glass or at taking care of the ball, and that is a recipe for disaster when the opponent is as good as UNLV.  Even if Illinois comes out playing their best basketball, it may not be enough to beat UNLV playing their typical game.


Prediction: U N L V  72  Illinois 64


#5 Vanderbilt 23-10 (5) vs. #12 Richmond 26-7 (2)

Here is another game getting a lot of attention due to its upset potential.  Historically, the #12 seed produces the a lot of great upsets.


This game could go either way.  Both teams have exploitable weaknesses, and it just so happens that both teams’ have the assets capable of exploiting the other’s weaknesses.


Let’s start with Vanderbilt.  The Commodores are not particularly strong on the defensive perimeter.  Worthy opponents have been able to beat them off the drive and get a lot of open inside shots.  This weak perimeter defense has also led to frontcourt players having to help, thus leaving open holes near the basket.


Richmond’s offense is a modified version of the Princeton Offense.  The Spiders have the talent to get open shots inside and in the five to ten-foot range.


Richmond cannot rebound against more physical teams.  The Spiders make up for their rebounding liabilities by seldom throwing the ball away.


Vanderbilt has an excellent physical presence inside with three beefy players that can rebound the ball on offense and defense.


So, which team gets the edge in our PiRate Ratings?  We always look to defense in rebounding in tossup games.  Vanderbilt holds the rebounding edge, while Richmond holds the defensive edge.  It is basically a wash, so we have to look elsewhere.  While Richmond has been much better away from home, Vanderbilt’s schedule is seven points more difficult.  We’ll go with the power conference team, but not by much


Prediction: Vanderbilt 70  Richmond 67


#4 Louisville 25-9 (12) vs. #13 Morehead State 24-9 (3)

This should be an interesting game, but in the end the big brothers are going to defeat their little brothers in this battle of two Bluegrass State teams.


40 years ago this week, another little brother upset a big brother on their way to a surprise appearance in the Final Four (later vacated).  In 1971, Western Kentucky did not just upset Kentucky, the Hilltoppers ran the Wildcats off the floor.  Can there be a repeat two score later?  No!


Coach Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are vulnerable on the boards, and Morehead State has the nation’s best rebounder in the nation in Kenneth Faried.  However, the Eagles do not have enough talent or depth to keep up with Louisville.  They may emerge with a slight rebounding edge in this game, but it will not be enough to make up for all the open shots the Cardinals will get.


Louisville is going to run into trouble when they meet up with a team that can rebound and play credible defense.  That would be Kansas in the Sweet 16.  Until then, they have a relatively easy route to the Sweet 16.


Prediction: Louisville 78  Morehead State 62


#6 Georgetown 21-10 (8) vs. #11 Southern Cal (-1)/Va. Commonwealth (-1)

Last year, we discussed Georgetown’s vulnerabilities and the probability that they would fail to make it past the first weekend.  We expected the Hoyas to fall as a favorite in their second game, but they were a one and done team.


This year’s team is not much better than last year’s Hoya team, but they received a much more favorable draw.


Coach John Thompson III’s Hoyas once again have a rather low R+T Rating thanks to a turnover margin of -1.9 and a low amount of steals per game.  They will exit from the tournament in the next round unless there is a monumental upset in their pairing.


Neither USC nor VCU has the talent to take advantage of Georgetown’s deficiencies.  The three teams combined have a R+T rating below Purdue’s.


One additional note: The Hoyas will be a tad bit better than their Criteria Score in the tournament.  Chris Wright suffered a hand fracture in the middle of the schedule, and he is expected to be near 100% for the tournament.  You have to add maybe one point to their Criteria Score, but that is not enough to put them over the top in their second game.


Prediction: Georgetown 69  Southern Cal 61 (or VCU 60)


#3 Purdue 25-7 (16) vs. #14 St. Peter’s 20-13 (-7)

If only… Purdue fans will never know just how good their team might have been with Robbie Hummel joining JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore playing together.  This would have been the best Boilermaker team since Rick Mount led Purdue to the Championship Game against UCLA in 1969.


The Boilermakers no longer have that one glaring weakness that Gene Keady’s teams had and thus prevented Purdue from getting past the second round.  This team does well on the boards like most of those past Purdue teams, but they are particularly strong when it comes to forcing turnovers and taking advantage by converting steals into points.  It is the way many teams go on runs that put opponents out of commission.


St. Peter’s just barely avoided being immediately eliminated with a negative R+T Rating.  They squeaked by at 0.1.  It might as well be a negative number, as the Peacocks were outrebounded by 0.4 per game and had a turnover margin of -0.9 against a schedule that was four points below average and seven points weaker than the schedule Purdue faced.


Prediction: Purdue 73  St. Peter’s 56


#7 Texas A&M 24-8 (8) vs. #10 Florida State 21-10 (2)

The Big 12’s third best team has enough talent to challenge for a Sweet 16 berth.  We’ll leave the next round for another time and talk about this game.


The Aggies have no glaring weakness, and they have a few strengths, namely rebounding and defense (which wins games in the NCAA Tournament).  They are much like Kansas Lite.  A&M was not a team of surprises during the regular season.  They beat the teams they were supposed to beat and failed to upset the teams better than they were.  We expect the trend to continue.  They are better than the Seminoles.


Florida State does not take good care of the ball, and that costs them in confrontations against good opponents.  The Seminoles do not play particularly well away from Tallahassee, and they should be making a quick exit from the Dance.


Prediction: Texas A&M 73  Florida State 65


#2 Notre Dame 26-6 (11) vs. #15 Akron 23-12 (-9)

This is the best Irish team since Digger Phelps led Notre Dame in the late 1980’s.  Throw in the fact that this team has a chip on its shoulders following a first round exit last year, and the Irish have to be considered the Sweet 16 favorite in their four-team pairing this weekend.


The Irish finished the regular season with a scoring margin of 10.4 points per game.  Down the stretch, they went 7-2 against teams in this tournament.  The Selection Committee placed Notre Dame in a bracket that should provide a very memorable Sweet 16 contest against one of their most bitter arch-rivals.


Akron has a big seven-foot center, but the Zips do not rebound the ball all that well.  Zeke Marshall, the aforementioned big man, concentrates his efforts on blocking shots, and he frequently is not in position to rebound the ball.  So, the blocked shot frequently turns into a made basket off an offensive rebound.  The Zips did not fare well on the road this year, and with a considerably weaker schedule than average, this does not bode well.


Prediction:  Notre Dame 81  Akron 57


Southeast Regional

#1 Pittsburgh 27-5 (18) vs. #16 UNC-Asheville (-5)/U A L R (-13)

One of us here at the PiRate Ratings might be dating himself, but he sees a lot of the 1962 Cincinnati Bearcats in this year’s Pitt team.  The Panthers have a dominating inside power game that will pulverize any finesse team that cannot hit 10 three-pointers.  Neither UNCA nor UALR has a remote chance to make this game a close contest.


Pitt outscored their opposition by 13.1 points per game.  This stat looks even better when you factor in that they compiled this gaudy stat playing in a league that produced 11 NCAA Tournament teams.  The Panthers outshot their opponents by 7.6%, and they totally dominated the glass with a 10.4 rebounding advantage.  If you are thinking the way to beat them is to play a packed in zone, think again.  Ashton Gibbs can bury you from outside with his near 50% three-point accuracy, and Brad Wannamaker can still get the ball inside to one of the bruisers waiting to punish you with a thunder dunk.


Only a negative turnover margin prevents the Panthers from being there with Kansas as a co-favorite for winning all the marbles.


Pitt’s cupcake opponent will have to be happy with winning their First Four game, because they will be humiliated in this game.


Prediction: Pittsburgh 78  UNC-Asheville 54 (or UALR 48)


#8 Butler 23-9 (7) vs. #9 Old Dominion 27-6 (10)

This is the second best matchup in this round, and the winner will put a scare into Pittsburgh in the next round and even have a decent shot at the upset.


Butler is now the hunted rather than the hunter.  The Bulldogs will not sneak up on anybody this year.  More importantly, they are not as talented as they were last year.  The Bulldogs fared much better on the road last year than this season.  However, down the stretch, Butler started to look like a team proficient enough to get past the first weekend once again.


Old Dominion has the talent to advance past the first weekend as well.  The Monarchs are a miniature version of Pittsburgh, the team they would face in the next round should they win this game.


ODU is the nation’s number one rebounding team with a +12.2 margin.  The Monarchs’ schedule was not outstanding, but it was on par with several teams from the so-called power conferences, and they finished 6-4 against teams in this tournament.  This is a better ODU team than the one that upset Notre Dame in the first round last year, and this game should be one you do not want to miss.



Prediction: Old Dominion 72  Butler 70 in overtime


#5 Kansas State 22-10 (9) vs. #12 Utah State 30-3 (14)

This is the one game where a number 12 seed winning would not really be all that much of an upset.  Utah State should have been a top eight seed in this tournament.  If we were conspiracy buffs, we would say that the Selection Committee searched for a team that the Aggies do not match up with all that well and placed them in this spot to verify their actions.


Kansas State does not take care of the ball well enough to advance very deep into this tournament, but their first game opponent cannot take advantage of that weakness.


Utah State has dominated their opponents by forcing them to play a patient half-court game with very little scoring in transition.  They prefer to work the ball patiently for a good shot and then force opponents to take a low-percentage shot.  Thus, the Aggies outrebound their opponents, but they do so by forcing more bad shots than by out-leaping their opponents.


Kansas State has the talent to force Utah State to play at a quicker tempo and force them to defend one-on-one.  Jacob Pullen is a poor man’s (and smaller) Derrick Rose.  He can break down most opponents off the dribble, and he should be able to force USU to resort to some type of combination defense to keep him from going wild.


What scares us most about Utah State is that they had two opportunities to show they are deserving of their lofty ranking.  They lost to BYU and to Georgetown, and they never really threatened to pull of the upset in either game.


This is one game where we are going to go against our own chalk.  Kansas State’s schedule was seven points tougher, and the Wildcats can exploit the Aggies’ weaknesses.


Prediction: Kansas State 70  Utah State 63


#4 Wisconsin 23-8 (7) vs. #13 Belmont 30-4 (9)

This game has become the most-picked upset special around the nation.  Belmont is being compared with Butler of last year.  The Bruins are lofty of all this attention-gathering admiration, but Wisconsin is not the Washington Generals.


Belmont has the highest scoring margin in the nation at 18.4 points per game.  The Bruins outshot their opposition by 5.7% per game, and they took a lot of three-point attempts.  They outrebounded their opponents by 3.9, and they had an eye-popping 5.3 turnover margin.  They share the top steals per game average in this tournament with Missouri at 9.7, and their R+T Rating is the best in the tournament at 16.2 (three better than number two Ohio State).


Of course, these statistics were compiled against inferior competition.  Belmont’s schedule strength is nine points below the national average and a dozen below their first round opponent.  Against the opponents that made it to this tournament, they were 1-3.  They beat Alabama State by 13.  The three losses were on the road to in-state rivals Tennessee (twice) and Vanderbilt, but they led in the second half of those games.


The last time Belmont was in the Big Dance, the Bruins came within a missed last shot of sending Duke home.   


Wisconsin was not expected to be this good in 2011.  This was supposed to be a minor rebuilding season for the Badgers.  The Badgers usually run Coach Bo Ryan’s Swing Offense with great efficiency, rarely turning the ball over.  They outscored their opponents by 9.9 points per game, and they outshot they outrebounded them by 3.8 boards per game. 


The Badgers have been a hot and cold team this year.  When they have been hot, they have been nearly unbeatable, because Ryan’s teams always limit possessions.  When they have been cold, they have been easily beatable, because Ryan’s teams always limit possessions.  They finished the season as cold as ice, so the Badgers must be considered a slight underdog in this game.


Prediction: Belmont 74  Wisconsin 70


#6 St. John’s 21-11 (9) vs. #11 Gonzaga 24-9 (13)

Here is a game where we believe the seedings should be switched.  Gonzaga has been here enough times to be considered a regular in the NCAA Tournament, like Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, and Connecticut.  This makes a baker’s dozen consecutive appearances in the Big Dance for the Bulldogs. 


In past years, Gonzaga had a big scorer that could take over games.  Adam Morrison comes to mind.  This year, the Zags are more difficult to prepare for, because they are more team-oriented.  There is not a big star on the roster, but all five starters are capable of taking the team on his shoulders with a hot night.


In their nine-game winning streak to close the season, Gonzaga eliminated Saint Mary’s from the Dance party with two victories.  The Bulldogs scoring margin in those nine games was 76-58.  This is a good team playing its best ball of the year, and we expect Coach Mark Few to win yet another NCAA Tournament game.


St. John’s comes into the tournament minus one of its stars.  Starting forward D. J. Kennedy went down for the season with a knee injury in the Big East Tournament, and the Red Storm is now suspect in the paint.  Their Criteria Score of nine should be discounted by two to three points.  It is enough to take this contest from tossup status to near-comfortable status for Gonzaga.


Prediction: Gonzaga 74  St. John’s 66


#3 Brigham Young 30-4 (18) vs. #14 Wofford 21-12 (-1)

So, you didn’t get a chance to see Pete Maravich play at LSU in 1968, 1969, or 1970, eh?  We must admit that nobody will ever be the collegiate equal for Maravich, but Jimmer Fredette may be the closest thing to him.


Throw out the floppy socks and floppy Beatles haircut and throw out some of the most unbelievable passes in the history of the game (so unbelievable that Maravich’s teammates frequently could not see them coming), and Fredette is not that far behind Maravich.


The sports nation will be turning its eyes to this game just to see if Fredette can make a run at a single game scoring mark.  If we remember correctly, Notre Dame’s Austin Carr set the mark back in 1970 with 61 points against Ohio U in a regional qualifier game.


BYU may have been a strong Final Four contender had Brandon Davies not loved his girlfriend so much.  The Cougars averaged 8.7 fewer points per game once Davies was suspended. 


Wofford will not be able to take much advantage of Davies’ absence.  The Terriers fared well in all PiRate Criteria categories, but they did not meet even the minimum “numbers to look for” in any category, and their schedule strength was five points below the norm. 


Prediction: Brigham Young 75  Wofford 63


#7 U C L A 22-10 (-3) vs. #10 Michigan State 19-14 (1)

If only this were a few years ago.  Neither of these historically dominating teams is going to make waves in this year’s tournament, and the winner will be around for just one more game.


UCLA would be a national title contender if Kevin Love had stuck around for four years.  Imagine Love as a senior on this team.  Can you say Bill Walton-like numbers?  Alas, the Bruins must get by with a couple of well above-average forwards instead of the best three-man tandem in the nation.


The Bruins have the worst turnover margin of any team in this tournament.  At -3.4, UCLA would need to dominate on the boards, and while they usually win that battle, it is anything but dominating.


Michigan State’s one asset year in and year out under Coach Tom Izzo has been their rebounding acumen.  For most teams, a +4.3 edge on the boards would be considered outstanding, but in East Lansing, this is considered a down year. 


Neither team has done all that well away from their home court this season, and there really is only one stat where one team stands out ahead of the other.  MSU’s schedule was four points tougher than UCLA’s schedule.  That’s our spread for this game.  


Prediction: Michigan State 64  UCLA 60


#2 Florida 26-7 (15) vs. #15 UC-Santa Barbara 18-13 (-10)

The Gators looked like a potential Final Four team in the last month, at least when they were not playing Kentucky.  UCSB is not Kentucky. 


Florida tends to commit too many floor mistakes to win four games in this year’s tournament.  They have enough talent to get through the first weekend, but we do not see the Gators extending their stay after that.


UCSB upset Long Beach State to get here, and the Gauchos are one of the weakest teams in the tournament according to our Criteria Score.  With negative rebounding and turnover margins, they just barely escape automatic elimination with a R+T rating of 0.3. 


Prediction: Florida 76  U C S B  54




Our Bracket


You have seen the 32 teams that we believe will win the second round games.  Here is how we fill out the rest of our bracket.


Third Round Winners

Ohio State over George Mason

Kentucky over West Virginia

Syracuse over Xavier

North Carolina over Washington

Duke over Tennessee

Texas over Arizona

Connecticut over Cincinnati

San Diego State over Penn State

Kansas over UNLV

Louisville over Vanderbilt

Purdue over Georgetown

Notre Dame over Texas A&M

Pittsburgh over Old Dominion

Kansas State over Belmont

Gonzaga over Brigham Young

Florida over Michigan State


Sweet 16 Winners

Ohio State over Kentucky

Syracuse over North Carolina

Texas over Duke

San Diego State over Connecticut

Kansas over Louisville

Purdue over Notre Dame

Pittsburgh over Kansas State

Florida over Gonzaga


Elite 8 Winners

Ohio State over Syracuse

Texas over San Diego State

Kansas over Purdue

Pittsburgh over Florida


Semifinal Winners

Ohio State over Texas

Kansas over Pittsburgh


National Championship

Kansas over Ohio State

December 26, 2010

PiRate Ratings College Football Bowl Preview, Part Two

We are posting three bowl previews this year; this is the second preview.  We will give you the current odds for each game, the PiRate, Mean, and Bias spreads for each game, and the results of our 100 computer simulations for each game.


Today, we cover the bowls from Boxing Day through New Year’s Day.  Next week, we will preview the bowls from January 2 to the Championship Game. 


Sunday, December 26

Little Caesar’s Bowl

Detroit, MI

8:30 PM EST on ESPN

Toledo (8-4)  vs. Florida Internationl (6-6)

Vegas: Toledo by 1

Totals: 57

PiRate: Toledo by 3.3

Mean: Toledo by 2.8

Bias: Toledo by 16.8

100 Sims: Toledo 67  Florida International 33

Avg. Sim Score: Toledo 33.6  Florida International 25.7

Outlier A: Toledo 49  Florida International 19

Outlier B: Florida International 37  Toledo 24


Monday, December 27

Independence Bowl

Shreveport, LA

5:00 PM EST on ESPN

Air Force (8-4)  vs.  Georgia Tech (6-6)

Vegas: Air Force by 2 ½  

Totals: 56

PiRate: Georgia Tech by 1.7

Mean: Air Force by 5.2

Bias: Air Force by 5.9

100 Sims: Air Force 55  Georgia Tech 45

Avg. Sim Score: Air Force 29.2  Georgia Tech 26.9

Outlier A: Air Force 41  Georgia Tech 23

Outlier B: Georgia Tech 34  A Force 23


Tuesday, December 28

Champs Sports Bowl

Orlando, FL

6:30 PM EST on ESPN

West Virginia (9-3)  vs. North Carolina State (8-4)

Vegas: West Virginia by 2 ½

Totals: 49

PiRate: West Virginia by 6.8

Mean: West Virginia by 2.3

Bias: West Virginia by 3.0

100 Sims: West Virginia 53  North Carolina State 47 (6 games decided by OT)

Avg. Sim Score: West Virginia 25.8  North Carolina State 25.2

Outlier A: West Virginia 27  North Carolina State 10

Outlier B: North Carolina State 28  West Virginia 12


Insight Bowl

Tempe, AZ

10:00 PM EST

Missouri (10-2)  vs.  Iowa (7-5)

Vegas: Missouri by 2 ½

Totals: 46 ½

PiRate: Even

Mean: Missouri by 4.1

Bias: Missouri by 12.6

100 Sims: Missouri 58  Iowa 42

Avg. Sim Score: Missouri 25.6  Iowa 22.3

Outlier A: Missouri 31  Iowa 13

Outlier B: Iowa 21  Missouri 7


Wednesday, December 29

Military Bowl

Washington, D.C.

2:30 PM on EST

Maryland (8-4)  vs. East Carolina (6-6)

Vegas: Maryland by 7 ½

Totals: 68 ½

PiRate: Maryland by 18.4

Mean: Maryland by 11.2

Bias: Maryland by 13.8

100 Sims: East Carolina 51  Maryland 49

Avg. Sim Score: Maryland 34.4  East Carolina 34.1

Outlier A: East Carolina 47  Maryland 31

Outlier B: Maryland 42  East Carolina 20


Texas Bowl

Houston, TX

6:00 PM EST on ESPN

Baylor (7-5)  vs. Illinois (6-6)

Vegas: Baylor by 1

Totals: 62 ½

PiRate: Baylor by 2.4

Mean: Illinois by 1.6

Bias: Baylor by 6.9

100 Sims: Illinois 54  Baylor 46

Avg. Sim Score: Illinois 32.1  Baylor 28.6

Outlier A: Illinois 34  Baylor 17

Outlier B: Baylor 28  Illinois 18


Alamo Bowl

San Antonio, TX

9:15 PM EST on ESPN

Oklahoma State (10-2)  vs. Arizona (7-5)

Vegas: Oklahoma State by 5 ½

Totals: 66

PiRate: Oklahoma State by 1.1

Mean: Oklahoma State by 6.1

Bias: Oklahoma State by 9.6

100 Sims: Oklahoma State 61  Arizona 39

Avg. Sim Score: Oklahoma State 38.0  Arizona 29.1

Outlier A: Oklahoma State 51  Arizona 27

Outlier B: Arizona 34  Oklahoma State 28 (and one other 6-point spread)


Thursday, December 30

Armed Forces Bowl

Dallas, TX

12:00 Noon EST on ESPN

S M U (7-6)  vs. Army (6-6)

Vegas: S M U by 7

Totals: 52

PiRate: S M U by 7.7

Mean: S M U by 3.2

Bias: S M U by 10.6

100 Sims: S M U 64  Army 36

Avg. Sim Score: S M U 28.2  Army 20.6

Outlier A: S M U 34  Army 10

Outlier B: Army 24  S M U 16


Pinstripe Bowl

New York, NY

3:20 PM EST

Syracuse (7-5)  vs. Kansas State (7-5)

Vegas: Pick’em

Totals: 47 ½

PiRate: Syracuse by 1.5

Mean: Kansas State by 4.6

Bias: Syracuse by 2.3

100 Sims: Syracuse 53  Kansas State 47

Avg. Sim Score: Syracuse 20.1  Kansas State 18.6

Outlier A: Syracuse 24  Kansas State 7

Outlier B: Kansas State 17  Syracuse 3


Music City Bowl

Nashville, TN

6:30 PM EST

Tennessee (6-6)  vs. North Carolina (7-5)

Vegas: North Carolina by 1 ½  

Totals: 50 ½

PiRate: North Carolina by 6.8

Mean: North Carolina by 1.5

Bias: Tennessee by 6.6

100 Sims: Tennessee 50  North Carolina 50

Avg. Sim Score: Tennessee 24.5  North Carolina 23.9

Outlier A: Tennessee 30  North Carolina 14

Outlier B: North Carolina 27  Tennessee 12


Holiday Bowl

San Diego, CA

10:00 PM EST

Nebraska (10-3)  vs. Washington (6-6)

Vegas: Nebraska by 14

Totals: 52 ½

PiRate: Nebraska by 11.8

Mean: Nebraska by 11.5

Bias: Nebraska by 5.3

100 Sims: Nebraska 57  Washington 43

Avg. Sim Score: Nebraska 26.1  Washington 19.3

Outlier A: Nebraska 27  Washington 6

Outlier B: Washington 23  Nebraska 14


Friday, December 31

Meineke Car Care Bowl

Charlotte, NC

12:00 Noon EST

South Florida (7-5)  vs. Clemson (6-6)

Vegas: Clemson by 5 ½

Totals: 40 ½

PiRate: Clemson by 5.1

Mean: Clemson by 3.7

Bias: South Florida by 6.1

100 Sims: South Florida 58  Clemson 42

Avg. Sim Score: South Florida 25.1  Clemson 19.2

Outlier A: South Florida 31  Clemson 12

Outlier B: Clemson 28  South Florida 16


Sun Bowl

El Paso, TX

2:00 PM EST on CBS

Notre Dame (7-5)  vs. Miami (Fl) (7-5)

Vegas: Miami by 3

Totals: 47

PiRate: Miami by 6.3

Mean: Notre Dame by 1.2

Bias: Miami by 6.0

100 Sims: Notre Dame 52  Miami 48

Avg. Sim Score: Notre Dame 23.4  Miami 23.2

Outlier A: Notre Dame 30  Miami 14

Outlier B: Miami 35  Notre Dame 14


Liberty Bowl

Memphis, TN

3:30 PM EST on ESPN

Central Florida (10-3)  vs. Georgia (6-6)

Vegas: Georgia by 6 ½

Totals: 55 ½

PiRate: Georgia by 12.8

Mean: Georgia by 5.3

Bias: Georgia by 11.3

100 Sims: Georgia 72  Central Florida 28

Avg. Sim Score: Georgia 28.6  Central Florida 17.3

Outlier A: Georgia 38  Central Florida 10

Outlier B: Central Florida 24  Georgia 19


Chick-fil-A Bowl

Atlanta, GA

7:30 PM EST on ESPN

South Carolina (9-4)  vs. Florida State (9-4)

Vegas: South Carolina by 3

Totals: 55

PiRate: Florida State by 0.4

Mean: South Carolina by 0.5

Bias: Florida State by 1.6

100 Sims: Florida State 52  South Carolina 48

Avg. Sim Score: South Carolina 26.7  Florida State 26.6

Outlier A: Florida State 30  South Carolina 16

Outlier B: South Carolina 44  Florida State 17


Saturday, January 1

TicketCity Bowl

Dallas, TX

12:00 Noon EST on ESPN-U

Texas Tech (7-5)  vs. Northwestern (7-5)

Vegas: Texas Tech by 10

Totals: 60

PiRate: Texas Tech by 12.5

Mean: Texas Tech by 7.3

Bias: Texas Tech by 9.6

100 Sims: Texas Tech 86  Northwestern 14

Avg. Sim Score: Texas Tech 34.6  Northwestern 21.2

Outlier A: Texas Tech 45  Northwestern 17

Outlier B: Northwestern 30  Texas Tech 24 (3 other by 6)


Outback Bowl

Tampa, FL

1:00 PM EST on ABC

Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5)

Vegas: Florida by 7 ½  

Totals: 48

PiRate: Florida by 13.2

Mean: Florida by 5.1

Bias: Florida by 5.5

100 Sims: Florida 54  Penn State 46

Avg. Sim Score: Florida 22.6  Penn State 19.8

Outlier A: Florida 28  Penn State 13

Outlier B: Penn State 21  Florida 10


Capital One Bowl

Orlando, FL

1:00 PM EST on ESPN

Michigan State (11-1) vs.  Alabama (9-3)

Vegas: Alabama by 10

Totals: 52 ½

PiRate: Alabama by 15.5

Mean: Alabama by 10.4

Bias: Alabama by 3.2

100 Sims: Alabama 59  Michigan State 41

Avg. Sim Score: Alabama 27.6  Michigan State 24.7

Outlier A: Alabama 31  Michigan State 12

Outlier B: Michigan State 35  Alabama 25


Gator Bowl

Jacksonville, FL

1:30 PM EST on ESPN2

Mississippi State (8-4)  vs.  Michigan (7-5)

Vegas: Mississippi State by 5 ½

Totals: 61

PiRate: Mississippi State by 10.3

Mean: Mississippi State by 6.3

Bias: Mississippi State by 4.8

100 Sims: Mississippi State 52  Michigan 48

Avg. Sim Score: Mississippi State 33.7  Michigan 30.1

Outlier A: Mississippi State 38  Michigan 20

Outlier B: Michigan 36  Mississippi State 27


Rose Bowl

Pasadena, CA

5:00 PM EST on ESPN

T C U (12-0)  vs. Wisconsin (11-1)

Vegas: T C U by 3

Totals: 58 ½

PiRate: T C U by 7.9

Mean: T C U by 5.8

Bias: Wisconsin by 6.6

100 Sims: Wisconsin 54  T C U 46

Avg. Sim Score: Wisconsin 30.4  T C U 28.8

Outlier A: Wisconsin 40  T C U 24

Outlier B: T C U 34  Wisconsin 24


Fiesta Bowl

Glendale, AZ

8:30 PM EST

Oklahoma (11-2)  vs. Connecticut (8-4)

Vegas: Oklahoma by 16 1/2

Totals: 55

PiRate: Oklahoma by 19.7

Mean: Oklahoma by 16.2

Bias: Oklahoma by 20.7

100 Sims: Oklahoma 91  Connecticut 9

Avg. Sim Score: Oklahoma 35.3  Connecticut 14.8

Outlier A: Oklahoma 49  Connecticut 7

Outlier B: Connecticut 27  Oklahoma 23

August 19, 2010

2010 Big 12 Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 4:33 am

Go to where we beat the spread 60.4% in 2009!


2010 Big 12 Conference Preview

The Big 12 Conference almost ceased to exist this summer.  It looked like eight of the 12 teams would leave and end up in the Big Ten, Pac-10, and even SEC.  After the dust cleared, the conference was left with 10 teams.  Colorado was the only member of six possible teams to accept the Pac-10 bid.  Nebraska, tired of seeing Texas control the league, gladly accepted a bid to the Big Ten.  The rest of the league will hold a grudge in this final season before divorce becomes official.  Speaking of officials, this league will need close scrutiny this year.  After Nebraska felt they had been robbed in the Big 12 Championship Game, can they expect any better treatment this year? 

Note: The PiRate Ratings are not meant to be used to predict the outcome of future games.  They are usable only as a basis for the current week’s games.  We do not use these ratings to make our selections.  They are only a starting point.  The predictions given below, as for every college conference and NFL division, are not taken from the ratings themselves.


Pos North B12 W-L
1 Nebraska 8-0 12-1
2 Missouri 4-4 8-4
3 Colorado 4-4 6-6
4 Kansas 3-5 5-7
5 Kansas State 2-6 6-6
6 Iowa State 1-7 3-9
Pos South B12 W-L
1 Oklahoma 7-1 12-1
2 Texas 6-2 10-2
3 Texas Tech 5-3 8-4
4 Texas A&M 4-4 7-5
5 Baylor 3-5 6-6
6 Oklahoma State 1-7 5-7


Big 12 Championship Game: Oklahoma over Nebraska


BCS Bowl (Fiesta): Oklahoma

BCS Bowl: Nebraska

Cotton Bowl: Texas

Alamo Bowl: Missouri

Insight Bowl: Texas Tech

Holiday Bowl: Texas A&M

Texas Bowl: Baylor

Pinstripe Bowl: Colorado

Dallas Football Classic: Kansas State



Team By Team Breakdown

North Division

Team Colorado Buffaloes
Head Coach Dan Hawkins
Colors Black and Gold
City Boulder, CO
2009 Record              
Conference 2-6
Overall 3-9
PiRate Rating 105.5
National Rating 45
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 6-6


Strengths: Offensive Line, Receivers, Defensive Line

Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back, Special Teams

Expected Offense: 24-27 points / 320-340 yards

Expected Defense: 24-27 points / 340-360 yards

Schedule: Out of Conference: Colorado State (n), @ California, Hawaii, and Georgia

Interdivision: Baylor, Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma

Outlook: The Buffaloes need to settle on one quarterback, and Tyler Hansen is that man.  Hansen should get more time to pass and pass for 2,500 or more yards, and we don’t expect CU QBs to be sacked 44 times again.  Rodney Stewart could top 1,000 yards rushing.  Transfers from Michigan, USC and UCLA should bolster the receiving corps.  The offensive line returns the entire two-deep from last year, including nine players with starting experience.

A better pass rush should help the defense improve a little, but we don’t expect the Buffs to challenge for a top four position in the league.  Coach Dan Hawkins must win this year, or he will be out of a job.  We don’t know if 6-6 and a minor bowl will be enough, but that is what we think will happen.

Team Iowa State Cyclones
Head Coach Paul Rhoads
Colors Cardinal and Gold
City Ames, IA
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 7-6
PiRate Rating 94.4
National Rating 77
2010 Prediction              
Conference 1-7
Overall 3-9


Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Special Teams

Weaknesses: Receiver, Defensive Line, Linebacker

Expected Offense: 22-26 point / 375-400 yards

Expected Defense: 24-28 points / 425-450 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Northern Illinois, @ Iowa, Northern Iowa, and Utah

Interdivision: Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma, @ Texas

Outlook: Coach Paul Rhoads placed the Cyclones in a bowl in his first year in Ames, but ISU will revert back to their losing ways this year.  The offense will be somewhat improved, but it was ranked last in the Big 12 last year.  Quarterback Austin Arnaud will hand the ball to Alexander Robinson a lot this year, and if Robinson stays healthy, he could top 1,250 yards on the ground.  Arnaud can run and pass with equal competency, so he should take some of the pressure off Robinson.  Other than Jake Williams, ISU will have to rely on several average receivers.  None of his teammates will allow Williams to avoid double coverage.  The offensive line features tackle Kelechi Osemele, a 2nd Team All-Big 12 selection last year.

Seven key defensive performers graduated, so the Cyclones will take a large step backwards.  The front seven will be much weaker, and opponents will run the ball for more yards and pass against less pass rushing pressure.  Even with a decent secondary, the weaker pass rush will force them to cover a half-second to a second longer.  Expect the pass yardage allowed to go up as well.

ISU should win two of their four non-conference games, but we can only see them winning one Big 12 contest.  Call it a 3-9 rebuilding season.

Team Kansas Jayhawks
Head Coach Turner Gill
Colors Dark Blue and Red
City Lawrence, KS
2009 Record              
Conference 1-7
Overall 5-7
PiRate Rating 102.0
National Rating 53
2010 Prediction              
Conference 3-5
Overall 5-7


Strengths: Not many, but the Offensive Line and Defensive Line are small positives

Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back, Receiver, Linebacker, Special Teams

Expected Offense: 22-26 points / 330-350 yards

Expected Defense: 24-28 points / 360-380 yards

Schedule: Out of conference: North Dakota State, Georgia Tech, @ Southern Mississippi, New Mexico State

Interdivision: @ Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State

Outlook: Turner Gill takes over after bringing Buffalo from also-ran to MAC Champion in short time.  It will take time here for his system to bear fruit, but we are confident that he can recruit the Midwest and Southwest and return the Jayhawks to prominence.

KU will debut a new quarterback this year, as Kale Pick and Jordan Webb are locked in a competitive battle.  Pick threw five passes, while Webb has yet to take a college snap.  An interesting battle brews at running back, where last year’s leading rusher Toben Opurum and 6th year player and former linebacker Angus Quigley could form a decent tandem.  KU lost two star receivers who combined for 186 receptions and more than 2,300 yards, so this will be a liability.  Four starters return to the line, and they will undergo some restructuring to fit Gill’s change of offense.

In a pass happy league, a weak secondary is bad news.  KU has some bad news.  The returning defensive backs combined for just two interceptions.  This side of the ball will have to learn a new system as well, and the defensive line is the only average unit using Big 12 standards.  A real plus for the Jayhawks is not having to play Oklahoma or Texas from the South.

Gill has enough talent to repeat last year’s 5-7 record.  The offense will not be as potent, but it will eat more clock.  That will help the defense hold opponents under 30 points per game.

Team Kansas State Wildcats
Head Coach Bill Snyder
Colors Royal Purple and White
City Manhattan, KS
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 6-6
PiRate Rating 96.5
National Rating 67
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 6-6


Strengths: Running Back, Defensive Line

Weaknesses: Quarterback, Receiver

Expected Offense: 22-25 points / 325-350 yards

Expected Defense: 21-24 points / 325-350 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: UCLA, Missouri State, Central Florida, @ North Texas

Interdivision: @ Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas

Outlook: Kansas State’s offense will move on the legs of running back Daniel Thomas.  He raced for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, and he could top 1,400 this season.  An experienced offensive line returns, and they are better run blockers than pass blockers.

Quarterback Carson Coffman started four games last year, but he was unspectacular.  With a below average receiving corps, expect KSU to struggle when they get behind in games.

On defense, the line is talented, and there is depth.  They should clear out enough space for the new linebackers to have decent first years as starters.  However, there is not a great pass rusher on the roster.

Look for Kansas State to sweep their four non-conference opponents, which means they only will need two league wins to earn a bowl bid.  That’s what they will get.

Team Missouri Tigers
Head Coach Gary Pinkel
Colors Black and Gold
City Columbia, MO
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 8-5
PiRate Rating 111.6
National Rating 32
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 8-4


Strengths: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Back

Weaknesses: Receiver (not that much of a weakness)

Expected Offense: 31-35 points / 425-450 yards

Expected Defense: 20-24 points / 350-375 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Illinois (n), McNeese State, San Diego State, Miami (O)

Interdivision: @ Texas A&M, Oklahoma, @ Texas Tech

Outlook: Blaine Gabbert returns at QB where he passed for almost 3,600 yards and 24 touchdowns to just nine picks.  Not the runner Chase Daniel was, he can still pull the ball down and cross the sticks for a first down.  Running back Derrick Washington saw his production drop from over 1,000 yards in 2008 to 865 last year; with an improved offensive line, look for that number to climb back over 1,000.  The only question on offense is at receiver.  Mizzou lost two great pass catchers that combined for 159 receptions and 20 touchdowns.  To make matters worse, Jerrell Jackson, who was expected to be the leading receiver this year, will miss the first three games with a fractured wrist.  Don’t expect him to return and catch half a dozen passes in September.

The Tigers gave up a couple of big plays at the wrong time last year, and it cost them two conference wins and the North Division title.  Expect improved play on this side of the ball as all three units will be improved thanks to the return of eight of the top nine tacklers.  Missouri only picked off eight passes last year.  The entire secondary returns, and the Tigers will intercept double digit passes this season.  The pass rush can only get better with the return of end Aldon Smith.  He recorded 11 ½ sacks last year.  Led by Andrew Gachkar and Will Ebner, the linebacking unit will be tough against the run.

The pre-conference schedule should allow Missouri to start 4-0.  They could be 6-0 by the time they face Oklahoma on homecoming.  We are being as pessimistic as we can when we call for the Tigers to go 4-4 in league play.  They could be 6-2 if they stay healthy and prevent the big plays on defense.

Team Nebraska Cornhuskers
Head Coach Bo Pelini
Colors Scarlet and Cream
City Lincoln, NE
2009 Record              
Conference 6-2
Overall 10-4
PiRate Rating 120.7
National Rating 13
2010 Prediction              
Conference 8-0
Overall 12-1


Strengths: Running Back, Receiver, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Back, Special Teams

Weaknesses: Quarterback

Expected Offense: 28-32 points / 350-375 yards

Expected Defense: 14-18 points / 275-300 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Western Kentucky, Idaho, @ Washington, South Dakota State

Interdivision: Texas, @ Oklahoma State, @ Texas A&M

Outlook: If Nebraska had just an average quarterback, they would be our pick for one of the two BCS Championship Game teams.  Zac Lee, Cody Green, and Taylor Martinez are still locked in a battle to determine the starter, but we would be surprised if anybody other than Lee line up under center for the first game.  Roy Helu will have a tough time carrying the offense if no passing game develops.  Helu rushed for 1,147 yards and 10 scores last year.  The ‘Huskers return some talented receivers, and they should help the quarterbacks improve their passing numbers.  Niles Paul might be a 1,000 yard receiver at eight other Big 12 schools, but he’ll have to settle for 40-50 receptions and 800-900 yards here.  The offensive line took a major hit when center Mike Smith broke his leg, but Coach Bo Pelini will field another excellent interior.

Nebraska’s defense will take a step back, because it is impossible to replace Ndamukong Suh, Phillip Dillard, Larry Asante, Matt O’Hanlon, and Barry Turner all in one season.  A weaker defense means that NU will give up more than 14 points per game.  The defensive line still has star talent with end Pierre Allen and tackle Jared Crick.  Crick made 15 total tackles for loss including 9 ½ sacks.  Allen added five sacks and 12 total tackles for loss.  They also combined for nine batted away passes.  There’s royalty in the secondary with the return of Prince Amukamara.  He led the ‘Huskers with 16 passes defended (5 Int/11 PBU). 

Alex Henery is one of the best dual punter/kickers in college football, and Niles Paul is a gem as a kick and punt returner.

We believe that Nebraska has a decent shot at running the table in the regular season.  The October 16 game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln with Texas is going to be unbelievable, and the Longhorns are going to be treated like Sarah Palin with a chainsaw outside Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.  We think the Cornhuskers will enter the Big 12 Championship game ranked number one and suffer defeat at the hand of their oldest rival.  Still, they should get a bid to a BCS bowl.

South Division

Team Baylor Bears
Head Coach Art Briles
Colors Green and Gold
City Waco, TX
2009 Record              
Conference 1-7
Overall 4-8
PiRate Rating 103.7
National Rating 48
2010 Prediction              
Conference 3-5
Overall 6-6


Strengths: Quarterback, Defensive Back (small strength)

Weaknesses: Running Back (other than QB), Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker

Expected Offense: 26-30 points / 375-400 yards

Expected Defense: 26-30 points / 375-400 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Sam Houston, Buffalo, @ TCU, @ Rice

Interdivision: Kansas, @ Colorado, Kansas State

Outlook: It starts and ends with quarterback Robert Griffin.  In just over two games, Griffin had passed for 481 yards with four TDs and no interceptions before he went down with a season-ending ACL injury.  If he stays healthy for 12 games, he should pass for close to 3,500 yards and lead Baylor to its first bowl game in 16 years.  The running backs suffered with the loss of Griffin, because defenses had to respect Griffin’s ability to take off and run.  Expect improvement in the rushing attack, but don’t expect the Bears to top 150 yards per game on the ground Jay Finley did rush for 1,072 yards in 2008, but he will not get enough touches to repeat that.  Griffin has a couple of good target to pass to in Kendall Wright and Lanear Sampson, but another receiver needs to emerge.  Three starters return to the offensive line, and Griffin will make their job much easier.

The defense lost six starters, including four of their top five tacklers.  A weaker than Big 12 average defensive line will cause BU some trouble as opponents run the ball to eat the clock and keep Griffin off the field.  The Bear pass rush won’t scare many enemy quarterbacks either.  BU has one talented linebacker in Antonio Johnson.  Johnson’s 77 tackles and two sacks are the most of any returnee.  The defensive backfield would have been a bigger strength had Ahmad Dixon actually showed up.  He was the highest recruit the Bears have had in years and would have started immediately at free safety.  Baylor still has some talent here with cornerbacks Clifton Odom and Chance Casey returning.

Baylor has three winnable non-conference games and three or four more in the Big 12.  We believe they will go 3-5 in the Big 12 and 6-6 overall, which will earn a bid to one of the lower Lone Star state bowl games.

Team Oklahoma Sooners
Head Coach Bob Stoops
Colors Cream and Crimson
City Norman, OK
2009 Record              
Conference 5-3
Overall 8-5
PiRate Rating 125.6
National Rating 3
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-1
Overall 12-1


Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back, Receiver, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Back, Special Teams

Weaknesses: None really.  If you had to get picky, maybe in the seams of the middle zones on pass defense.

Expected Offense: 35-40 points / 450-475 yards

Expected Defense: 18-22 points / 300-325 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Utah State, Florida State, Air Force, @ Cincinnati

Interdivision: Iowa State, @ Missouri, @ Texas A&M

Outlook: Can a team that lost the first pick in the draft, three other 1st Round picks, three other draft picks, and three more players that are still in NFL training camps be better than they were a year ago?  It sounds crazy, but OU could not only be better, they could be the best!  Losing Sam Bradford will hardly be noticed, as he only threw 69 passes last year.  Landry Jones returns at quarterback after passing for just under 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns.  He needs to cut down on his 14 interceptions.  At running back, DeMarco Murray and Jermie Calhoun will team for 1,500 yards, and the Sooners will be a much more balanced team this year.  Murray will not be asked to carry the ball 20 times any more, and he should stay healthy.  The most lethal unit on this team is pass catchers.  Ryan Broyles and Dejuan Miller could both earn all-conference recognition; throw in super freshman Kenny Stills with tight ends Trent Ratteree and James Hanna, and you have one of the nation’s top receiving corps.  The offensive line is the weakest unit of the attack side, and yet it is still one of the four best in the Big 12.

On Defense, the Sooners lost five star players.  Don’t pity them; the players they have coming back are just as good or will soon be.  In the trenches, end Jeremy Beal is the best at his position in the Big 12.  He dumped quarterbacks 11 times last year and stopped runners for losses eight times.  He can drop back in pass coverage on zone blitzes and play pass defense like a linebacker.  Speaking of linebacker, Travis Lewis returns to the second line of defense after earning 1st Team All-Big 12 accolades.  He will have two new partners, and both are stars of the future.  The Sooners have two starters returning to the secondary, led by safety Quinton Carter, who grabbed four enemy quarterback passes while batting away five others.

Oklahoma has the talent to run the table and be 13-0 following a win in the Big 12 Championship Game.  If so, we know where they will be playing in January.  We are going to go out on a small limb and pick one Big 12 team to knock them off in an upset, just like Colorado did to them in 2007.  Call it a 12-1 regular season plus Fiesta Bowl bid.

Team Oklahoma State Cowboys
Head Coach Mike Gundy
Colors Orange and Black
City Stillwater, OK
2009 Record              
Conference 6-2
Overall 9-4
PiRate Rating 99.8
National Rating 59
2010 Prediction              
Conference 1-7
Overall 5-7


Strengths: Running Back, Linebacker

Weaknesses: Quarterback, Offensive Line

Expected Offense: 20-24 points / 325-350 yards

Expected Defense: 23-27 points / 350-375 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Washington State, Troy, Tulsa, @ Louisiana-Lafayette

Interdivision: Nebraska, @ Kansas State, @ Texas

Outlook: It will be a long season in Stillwater, as the Cowboys must rebuild on both sides of the ball.  OSU returns just four offensive and three defensive starters to a team that many felt underachieved last year.  The rabid fans, in their desire not to play second fiddle in the Sooner State, may chase Coach Mike Gundy out of town if the ‘Pokes fail to make it back to a bowl.

Gundy brought Dana Holgorsen in from Houston to take over as offensive coordinator.  Holgorsen will institute the spread passing game used by the Cougars (which gained 512 yards and 45 points against OSU last year).  His first order of business was to pick a quarterback, and Brandon Weeden will not be confused for Casey Keenum.  Weeden spent five years pitching in the Minor Leagues and has seen a lot more action on the mound than under center.  Having running back Kendall Hunter 100% healthy once again could be the saving grace for this side of the ball.  When healthy in 2008, he rushed for 1,555 yards and earned All-American honors.  He played in just three games last year.  The loss of Dez Bryant to the NFL Cowboys won’t hurt too much, since Bryant hardly played last year.  Holgorsen will use as many as 10 receivers in his pass-happy offense.  Hubert Anyiam should be the star of the group.  The offensive line will be a major liability, as just two starters return.

Oklahoma State allowed just 96 yards rushing last year, but with five (and maybe six pending the outcome of an arrest) of the front seven gone, that number could increase by over 50% this season.  Ugo Chinasa spearheads a respectable pass rush.  In the secondary, amazingly Andrew McGee returns to play after suffering a broken neck last season.  He will team with safety Markelle Martin to provide experience in the back line of defense.

Okie State has a good shot at winning all non-conference games, so they will only need two Big 12 wins to become bowl eligible.  We actually believe they will have a difficult time winning any league game and will call for the Cowboys to go 1-7 in the conference. 

Team Texas Longhorns
Head Coach Mack Brown
Colors Burnt Orange and White
City Austin, TX
2009 Record              
Conference 8-0
Overall 13-1
PiRate Rating 119.3
National Rating 16
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-2
Overall 10-2


Strengths: Receiver, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Back, Special Teams

Weaknesses: Quarterback (small weakness)

Expected Offense: 31-34 points / 375-400 yards

Expected Defense: 15-19 points / 275-300 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: @ Rice (Reliant Stad.), Wyoming, UCLA, Florida Atlantic

Interdivision: @ Nebraska, Iowa State, @ Kansas State

Outlook: When any other team loses as much talent as the Longhorns, you can expect a long season.  In Texas, they just insert the next star at each position.  The ‘Horns lost their all-time leading passer, a receiver that caught 116 passes for 1,485 yards, and four starting offensive linemen, and yet UT will still have a lethal offense.  Quarterback Garrett Gilbert got his Baptism under fire last year in the National Championship Game when Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game in the first half.  Gilbert brought the Longhorns back in the second half and gave them a chance.  If he could do that against Alabama, what do you think he will do against Iowa State?  Expect more contribution from the running game with Tre’ Newton and Fozzy Whittaker carrying the load this year.  Texas has a stable of fine receivers as well, led by James Kirkendoll, Malcolm Williams, and John Chiles.  Chiles is an ex-quarterback, and he could be used in some trick plays.

Coach Mack Brown can sleep easier at night with Will Muschamp at his side.  The head coach-in-waiting has made the Longhorn defense the envy of the nation.  His 2010 team will do just fine once he finds a way to plug some holes in the defensive line.  Sam Acho and Kheeston Randall form the conference’s best pair of tackles.  Acho made 10 sacks last year.  Emmanuel Acho heads the second line of defense.  He is a tough run-stopper.  In the secondary, cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams form the best tandem of cover men in the league, but the loss of All-American Earl Thomas will make this a little weaker pass defense.

Texas must play at Nebraska, and if the officiating is honest, we do not believe the Longhorns can win this grudge match-to-be.  The Longhorns have a 50-50 shot with Oklahoma, and they have about a 20% chance of losing to Texas Tech, Texas A&M, or Kansas State.  We’ll call it a 6-2 league mark and 10-2 overall.

Team Texas A&M Aggies
Head Coach Mike Sherman
Colors Maroon and White
City College Station, TX
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 6-7
PiRate Rating 113.5
National Rating 26
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 7-5


Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back, Receiver, Linebacker

Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Special Teams

Expected Offense: 34-38 points / 475-500 yards

Expected Defense: 26-30 points / 375-400 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: Stephen F Austin, Louisiana Tech, Florida International, Arkansas (n)

Interdivision: Missouri, @ Kansas, Nebraska

Outlook: The Aggies have one of the best offenses in a BCS conference.  With Quarterback Jerrod Johnson running the team, if the offensive line can give him adequate protection, A&M could top 40 points per game.  Johnson passes for 3,579 yards and 30 touchdowns last year, while running for 506 and eight more scores.  Johnson’s ability to take off with the ball really helped the running game to click.  The Aggies return two running backs capable of topping 1,000 yards.  Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray combined for 1,601 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.  At receiver, Johnson has his big three pass catchers returning this year.  Uzoma Nwachukwu, Ryan Tannehill, and Jeff Fuller teamed for 127 receptions (each had at least 40) and 17 touchdowns.  Tannehill is a converted QB, so he could be used on a trick play as a passer.

The defense switches to a 3-4 alignment this year, and there isn’t a star in the trenches.  Last year’s star defensive lineman has been moved to rush linebacker.  Von Miller led the league with 17 sacks, and Coach Mike Sherman hopes he can continue to get into the backfield as a linebacker.  In the secondary, last year’s leading tackler, Trent Hunter, returns after making 95 tackles.

With a powerful offense and an improving defense, there is only one way to go for the Aggies.  Expect Texas A&M to be in almost every game this year and win at least half of their Big 12 contests.  Toss in at least three non-conference wins, and the Aggies will have a winning season.

Team Texas Tech Red Raiders
Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
Colors Red and Black
City Lubbock, TX
2009 Record              
Conference 5-3
Overall 9-4
PiRate Rating 112.6
National Rating 30
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-3
Overall 8-4


Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back, Receiver, Defensive Back, Special Teams

Weaknesses: Offensive Line

Expected Offense: 26-30 points / 350-375 yards

Expected Defense: 21-24 points / 325-350 yards

Schedule: Non-conference: S M U, @ New Mexico, Weber State, Houston

Outlook: What a change of philosophies!  The only thing we can compare it to is the change that the University of Cincinnati’s basketball team made when Oscar Robertson graduated in 1960 after taking the Bearcats to three consecutive top five finishes and back-to-back Final Fours.  Coach George Smith left, and UC replaced him with Ed Jucker, who instituted a power offense and pressure defense that produced scores like 70-55 rather than 105-90.

Enter Coach Tommy Tuberville to replace Mike Leach.  Say goodbye to 50 passes a game and hello to 20 runs between the tackles.  Say goodbye to 150 scrimmage plays per game.  Tuberville will not change Tech into a 75% running team, but he will run the ball hard when it is 3rd and two, or 2nd and five.

The Red Raiders return enough quality pieces to continue their winning ways.  Quarterback Taylor Potts has apparently beaten out Steven Sheffield for the starting position.  The two combined for 4,659 passing yards and 36 touchdowns last year.  Whoever starts at quarterback will have nearly every receiver from last season back for more.  Detron Lewis and Alexander Torres lead the way.  Running backs should get more carries in the new system, and Baron Batch has the ability to top 1,000 yards.  He scored 14 touchdowns on just 168 carries last year, and he caught 57 passes out of the backfield.  The offensive line is the only worry.  Tuberville likes quicker, less bulky blockers, but he inherits a couple of 350-pound stationary blockers.

Like many other teams, Tech is switching to the 3-4 defense.  With just one returning defensive line starter, that is a good thing.  Nose tackle Coby Whitlock has the skills to cause havoc in the trenches.  Linebackers Brian Duncan and Bront Bird are strong run-stoppers and very good pass defenders.  The one weakness with the front seven is in pass rushing.  There doesn’t look like there is a competent sack machine in the lot.  That could hurt the secondary, which is the strength of this side.  Free Safety Cody Davis was a 1st Team Freshman All-American last year.

Tuberville is used to winning, and he should guide the Red Raiders back to a bowl.  They could pick up an upset along the way and play spoiler.  By the way, that Cincinnati basketball team fared okay with the change to Ed Jucker.  The Bearcats won the next two National Championships and came within a minute of winning a third in a row.

Coming Tomorrow: The Big Ten started all the conference shuffling and only added one team—to this point.  Find out if there will be any shuffling at the top of the conference standings and whether Rich Rodriguez can keep his job.

March 26, 2010

A PiRate Preview of Saturday’s Regional Final Games


Saturday’s Regional Finals

Advanced Level Bracketnomics


Thursday night’s regional semifinal games proved that the PiRate NCAA Tournament formula is based on sound principles.  The teams that earned the most scoring opportunities won the games, even though they didn’t all shoot better from the field or at the charity stripe.

By more scoring opportunities, we refer to the team that fares better in controlling the boards and in turnovers.  As we have previously stated, a turnover created is worth a little more than a rebound, and a steal is worth more than any other turnover.

Butler stole the ball 13 times and ended with a +11 turnover margin against Syracuse.  The Orangemen won the battle of the boards by six, but that left the Bulldogs with a huge R+T advantage.

West Virginia dominated Washington on the glass, winning the rebounding margin by 16.  They won the turnover battle in almost a wash, and when a team has a +16 rebounding advantage with equalization in turnovers, they win about 98% of the time.

Kansas State and Xavier played possibly the best game in the entire tournament so far.  The Wildcats were outrebounded by two but had a +4 turnover margin.  They only picked up four steals, so they enjoyed only a marginal scoring opportunity advantage.  Thus, you had a terrific, nail-biter.

Kentucky dominated Cornell in the R+T rating, and the Wildcats proved that 3-point and free throw shooting isn’t as important as number of scoring opportunities when you make it this far.  UK made just 2 of 16 from behind the arc and hit just 16 of 26 from the foul line.

Here is the PiRate preview for Saturday’s two regional final games.  We will preview Sunday’s games tomorrow.

East Regional


#1 Kentucky (29.22) vs. #2 West Virginia (29.08)

Look at those criteria scores.  14/100’s of a point converts to less than a one-point edge for the Wildcats.

Yes friends, this is going to be a great game between teams that should be playing each other every year. 

We see three keys to this game.  First, will West Virginia be able to get the ball inside against Kentucky’s inside defenders and force fouls from DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton?  Second, will Kentucky’s perimeter shooters, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and even big man Patrick Patterson, be able to force WVU to play honest defense and lesson their ability to cheat inside?  Third, and maybe most importantly, will West Virginia’s forwards, Da’Sean Butler, Kevin Jones, and Devin Ebanks be able to match Cousins, Orton, and Patterson on the glass?

Kentucky had been hitting well from outside prior to the Cornell game.  They got the open shots and couldn’t sink them.  If they repeat that performance, Wall, Cousins, Patterson, and Bledsoe may be multi-millionaires before they take another shot in an official game.

West Virginia is used to winning games where they shoot around 40%.  Kentucky has done it too.  This game is going to come down to the inside muscle game.  The team with the most offensive put backs is going to win.  If Cousins stays out of foul trouble, he will see to it that the blue and white win that battle.

We expect WVU to slow down the pace and attack inside-out.  60 points could be enough to win it; we believe the Blue Mist will have one second-half spurt to sew this game up.

Prediction: Kentucky 62  West Virginia 55



West Regional


#2 Kansas State (31.21) vs. #5 Butler (19.35)

Kansas State just barely survived and advanced Thursday night, and they could be in line to bounce somewhat.  Butler is in the same situation; they had a draining game with Syracuse.  We look for this one to be sloppy and low-scoring with defense being at a premium.

It’s hard to pick against a team that last lost prior to Christmas and plays about as well as a team as the best Indiana teams under Bob Knight.

There are a couple of important keys in this game.  The only way Butler can win is to force more turnovers again like they did against Syracuse.  Kansas State will make their share of mistakes, but they make a lot of them in the commission of trying to run and get easy baskets.  We don’t think the Bulldogs will get to exploit this part of the game.

The other key is the Kansas State inside game.  KSU has too many horses inside for BU.  The Bulldogs will wear down inside against the Wildcats quartet of big men.  Jamar Samuels, Curtis Kelly, Dominique Sutton, and Luis Colon will combine for about 100 minutes of playing time in this game, and they will combine for 25 rebounds or more.  Butler just doesn’t have enough inside to match that.  Post man Matt Howard is foul prone, and he is likely to miss a good chunk of this game trying to prevent KSU’s big men from getting offensive rebounds and second chance points.

What’s tough here is that Kansas State’s top scorers are their two perimeter stars.  Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente usually combine for 35 points per game, and if they top 30 in this game, the Wildcats will be headed to the Final Four for the first time since Tex Winter and his triple post (since renamed triangle) offense knocked off defending national champion Texas Western and Wichita State to advance against undefeated UCLA in 1964.

Prediction: Kansas State 64  Butler 54


Check back with us Saturday afternoon for a preview of Sunday’s Elite 8 South and Midwest Regional Final games.


March 24, 2010

Sweet 16 Preview


From Sweet to Elite

Advanced Level Bracketnomics


Hello PiRate Basketball fans.  Our system worked well, but the idiots (us) in charge of the data didn’t have the guts to play all the upsets.  We still have nine teams alive, and our top-rated teams according to our system are still there, except for Kansas. 

We told you in the first round that Georgetown and Vanderbilt were the most ripe for upset bids based on their R+T scores just barely above zero.  We were there on other double-digit ups as well.

Before we preview the Sweet 16 games, let’s refresh you on the PiRate formula components.

Scoring Margin—We look for teams with a minimum scoring margin of 8 points per game, give precedence to teams with double-digit scoring margins, and develop huge crushes on teams with scoring margins of 15 or more points per game.  We award one point for as little as a 5-point scoring margin, 3 points for 8 or more, and 5 points for 10 or more. 

Teams with a negative margin who have made it to the Sweet 16 are eliminated and are automatically picked to lose the next game (unless of course there is a rare instance of their opponent also qualifying for elimination.)

Field Goal % Margin—We look for teams that have a +7.5 or better difference in field goal percentage versus opponents’ field goal percentage.  We give special consideration to teams with double-digit field goal percentage margins, and if we see a team hitting better than 48.0% and yielding less than 38.0%, we circle that team in red because they are going to be tough to beat if they are a member of one of the Big Six conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, or SEC).  We award one point for FG% margins of 5.0 or more, 3 points for margins of 7.5% or more, and 5 points for double-digit margins. 

Like above, teams arriving at the Sweet 16 with a negative field goal margin are eliminated.

Rebound Margin—This is actually part of a multiple statistical entry, as we combine it with turnover margin as well.  However, we do separate rebounding because offensive put backs are vitally important in the Big Dance.  We are looking for teams with a +5.0 or better rebounding margin.  We award one point for a rebounding margin of 3.0 or better and 3 points for a margin of 5.0 or better. 

Teams with a negative rebounding margin receive -2 points, but they are not eliminated yet.

Turnover Margin & Steals Per Game—Teams with negative rebounding margins can make up for it with exceptional turnover margins, especially if they get a lot of steals that lead to great fast break opportunities.  We don’t award points solely on turnover margin and steals; we incorporate those stats into a multi-statistical formula we call “R+T.” 

R+T is a formula that applies weighted advantages to steals and turnover margin, while adding rebounding margin into the equation.  Rebounding margin is already factored into the formula by itself, but it receives fewer awarded points.  This stat balances out the rebounding with the scoring and field goal margin, and it allows us to look at the number of extra scoring opportunities a team normally receives. 

The Formula for R+T is:  R+ (.2S*1.2T), where R is rebounding margin, S is steals per game, and T is turnover margin.  Whenever this stat is negative, this team is immediately eliminated.  If this stat is less than one, don’t figure on this team staying around in the Dance.  All four teams that fell below one in R+T lost in the first round, including heavy favored Georgetown and Vanderbilt.  We award the result of the R+T in points.

Power Conference & Strength of Schedule—We give extra weight to teams that are members of the Big Six conferences.  We give a little weight to the teams from the top of the mid-majors (such as Missouri Valley, West Coast, Colonial, and Mountain West).  We deduct for teams from the lower conferences (such as America East, MAAC, Big West, and Patriot). 

We look at the strength of schedule as produced by, and multiply that number by 100.  50.00 is a mid-point, so if that number is 52.37, we consider that schedule to be 2.37 points stronger than average.  If the number is 46.28, then that schedule is 3.72 points weaker than average.  This is incorporated into our criteria.

Record Away From Home—Every team is playing on a neutral floor, so we throw out the home won-loss records.  A team that is 26-9 overall, but 17-0 at home is actually a .500 team away from home.  Likewise, in some rare instances a team might be 22-10 with a home record of 14-6 and a record away from home of 8-4.  Winning two –thirds of one’s games away from home would make this team more likely to beat the 26-9 team on a neutral floor, all else being equal.

Before the first round, our formula picked Duke as the overall favorite based on their 34.4 PiRate score.  The Blue Devils no longer own the top score after the first two rounds.  Their criteria score fell a little, while another team elevated just enough to post a higher score.  The new leader in the clubhouse is none other than Kansas State.  This surprised us all here, but the Wildcats were impressive in wins over North Texas and BYU.  Their defense was stifling, and their offense, while not spectacular, clicked in spurts.  KSU controlled the boards in both games as well.

The Wildcats have had few great moments since in the last 20+ years.  This team is starting to bring back memories of the glory days in the Little Apple when Tex Winter introduced his triple-post (triangle) offense and Jack Gardner had the Cats running and gunning.

Of the 16 teams remaining, five come from conferences outside of the Big Six conferences, but each of the quintet’s PiRate criteria scores reveals that they belong in the Sweet 16.  None of the five (none of the entire 16) have scores in single digits.

Now, it’s time to look at the eight, Sweet 16 games, using these criteria.  The number you see in (Parentheses) after the team is their PiRate Criteria Score.  All of these scores have been update to reflect their two wins in the Big Dance.                                                                            


East Regional


#1 Kentucky (29.22) vs. #12 Cornell (14.56)

The Wildcats are the one team that also qualifies in the 48-38% field goal margin.  John Calipari no longer officially owns any Final Four appearances to his name, after the NCAA upheld the vacating of all Memphis wins during Derrick Rose’s playing career (his U Mass team had to vacate that appearance as well).  So, we can say he is still looking for his first official visit to the Final Four.  We don’t know with 100% certainty if the Wildcats will make it there, but we are safe in saying they will be one of the Elite 8.  Cornell cannot stop DeMarcus Cousins inside unless they totally sell out on the perimeter.  John Wall and Eric Bledsoe will make the Big Red pay for that tactic, and then Patrick Patterson will break their backs if he hits a three.

Cornell might stay close through one or two TV timeouts, but this game should get out of hand before halftime.


Prediction: Kentucky 88  Cornell 64


#2 West Virginia (29.08) vs. #11 Washington (21.93)

West Virginia wins ugly.  The Mountaineers don’t look pretty, but they keep pounding at opponents until they see an opening.  Then, like a crafty boxer, they exploit that opening and grab the lead on points.  They rarely record a knockout, but they are great at keeping the lead once they get it in the final half.

Washington does look pretty when they play.  Lorenzo Romar’s teams vaguely resemble many of the great UCLA teams from the past.  With Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas providing a great one-two punch, it is hard to stop the Huskies from scoring 70 or more points.

West Virginia doesn’t usually win games if they give up more than 75 points.  Coach Bob Huggins will devise a game plan to force UW’s big threats to work harder for open shots, and Washington will not reach 75 points in this game.

Prediction: West Virginia 73  Washington 66


South Regional


#3 Baylor (26.04) vs. #10 St. Mary’s (15.47)

This looks like a classic mismatch between a power team from a power conference and a team that should be just glad to have made it this far.  It could be, but we like the way St. Mary’s plays, and we think Coach Randy Bennett is possibly the next Lute Olsen if he so chooses to move on to a school from one of the Big Six conferences.

This will be a great battle between big men.  Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh and St, Mary’s Omar Samhan should balance each other out.  Samhan is a little better offensively, but Udoh is a little better defensively.  Samhan is the more likely to get in foul trouble.

Baylor has more potent weapons in LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, but the Gaels have more depth.  We just don’t see the Bears running away with this game.  We will pick them to advance.

Prediction: Baylor 78  St. Mary’s 71


#1 Duke (30.48) vs. #4 Purdue (15.37)

Credit must be given to the Boilermakers for making it this far without Robbie Hummel.  They played hard and won a couple of tough games.  Unfortunately, Purdue goes up against one of the big boys.  This is their final game of the season.

Duke may have fallen a notch in winning their first two games, but having to play the play-in winner lowered their strength of schedule.  Emptying the bench may have artificially lowered their criteria score, and we still think Coach K is sitting pretty with his club in a great bracket.

Prediction: Duke 81  Purdue 67


Midwest Regional


#2 Ohio State (22.24) vs. #6 Tennessee (21.16)

These may not be the two best teams left in the Big Dance, or even in this regional, but they may be the two best-coached teams.  Buckeye head guy Thad Matta has definitely produced a better record than his talent on hand should have produced, and Volunteer coach Bruce Pearl has squeezed every last drop of juice out of his big orange.

Two years ago, when Ohio State was the top-rated team, Tennessee built up a 20-point lead against OSU, before the Buckeyes chipped away and came back for the win in this same round.  Vol center Wayne Chism can remember that game well.

We look for this to possibly be the most entertaining game of this round, but we have to go with the Big Ten in this one.  Tennessee is having to go with players that would be considered bench-warmers at Ohio State for almost one quarter of the available playing time.  Pearl will either have to play five reserves for their usual 48 combined minutes per game or go with his top seven until they drop.  Either way, it tips the scale in favor of Brutus.

Prediction: Ohio State 69  Tennessee 63


#5 Michigan State (20.92) vs. #9 Northern Iowa (13.76)

This is another game where we have to discount a team for the loss of a player.  Spartan star guard Kalin Lucas is out for the rest of the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon.  He is the Spartans’ leading scorer, leader at getting to the foul line, leading passer, and best perimeter defender.  Losing him is almost like losing Magic Johnson. 

One thing MSU still has in its favor is a brutalizing inside force with a three-headed rebounding monster.  Raymar Morgan, Draymond Green, and Delvon Roe will see to it that Northern Iowa will not get many second-chance points.

Northern Iowa is primed to exploit MSU’s misfortune, but we expect the Panthers to come out flat following the huge upset over Kansas.  Jordan Eglseder is going to need help inside as the Spartans attempt to force their offense to score inside the paint.  Adam Koch cannot afford to risk foul trouble, so we see some difficulty here for NIU.  We also do not believe that Ali Farokhmanesh will drain threes all night in this game.  We can see him going 2 for 9.

It’s rather obvious that this is going to be a very low-scoring game, at least until the final minutes when one team may be getting a dozen trips to the foul line.

Prediction: Michigan State 56  Northern Iowa 51



West Regional


#1 Syracuse (27.88) vs. #5 Butler (19.35)

Quickness over brute force strength should be the difference in this game.  Syracuse has been flying a little bit under the radar so far, and the Orangemen are about to reveal to the rest of the nation that they are an Elite 8 team. 

Butler cannot be overlooked, as the Bulldogs are now the best team in the Hoosier state.  However, Butler doesn’t have the horses to exploit the cracks in the SU 2-3 matchup zone.  We see the Bulldogs going through stretches where they cannot score, and you can’t beat Syracuse that way.

A ‘Cuse win should set up the best Regional Final of the four, regardless of their opponent on Saturday.

Prediction: Syracuse 74  Butler 60


#2 Kansas State (31.21) vs. #6 Xavier (18.37)

Xavier has become a household name in the Big Dance, so it’s no longer much of a surprise to see the Musketeers advancing in this tournament.  They just happened to get the wrong team in the Sweet 16, because we just cannot see them matching up inside against the purple and white.  Kansas State can bring two wide-bodies off the bench, and the Wildcats’ guards can hit the glass as well.

The storyline of this game is that KSU will hold Xavier under 40% from the field and rarely give the Musketeers an offensive rebound.  Teams just don’t win in the Sweet 16 unless they can either control the boards of shoot a high percentage.

We look for the Wildcats to set up the game of the tournament in the West Regional Finals on Saturday.

Prediction: Kansas State 77  Xavier 61


Check back with us Saturday before game time for a preview of the Elite 8 Regional Final games.


Older Posts »

Blog at