The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 10, 2022

Mid-American Conference Preview

The MAC has been up and down for many years, rarely a middle of the pack conference among the non-elite. There was a time when Toledo and Miami of Ohio were regulars in the major polls. Miami actually beat Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in three consecutive bowl games. The MAC has produced the New Year’s Day Bowl team that was guaranteed to the top Group of 5 team.

There have been years where this league was considerably weaker than the better Group of 5 conferences, and there have been a couple teams that have come and gone from the league. Over the Winter, the MAC appeared to be expanding to 14 teams with the additions of Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State. The two Conference USA schools and rivals chose to remain where they were.

Here is the official media poll for the Mid-American Conference

Mid-American Conference
#East1st PlaceOverall
1Miami (O)20139
2Kent St.3116
5Bowling Green171
#West1st PlaceOverall
1Northern Illinois11122
3Central Michigan4112
4Western Michigan056
5Eastern Michigan052
6Ball St.042
Northern Illinois9
Miami (O)5
Central Michigan4

Here are the preseason PiRate Ratings for the MAC.

Mid-American Conference
East Division
Miami (Ohio)91.594.594.393.4
Kent St.87.390.187.688.3
Bowling Green87.786.486.887.0
West Division
N. Illinois97.898.298.398.1
Central Mich.93.095.396.394.9
Western Mich.92.193.493.593.0
Eastern Mich.88.388.988.088.4
Ball St.84.685.984.785.0

The PiRate Ratings are predictive in nature. However, they are only designed to look forward one week. Nevertheless, here are the predicted won-loss records for the MAC.

Miami (O)7-18-5
Kent St.5-36-6
Bowling Green3-54-8
Northern Illinois8-011-2
Central Michigan6-28-4
Western Michigan5-37-5
Ball St.2-64-8
Eastern Michigan2-64-8

Northern Illinois picked to beat Miami (O) in the MAC Championship Game.

Coming Tomorrow: The Sun Belt Conference

November 26, 2012

PiRate Ratings For College Football: November 29-December 1 (+12/8), 2012

All Eyes on MAC Championship Game

Can a team that lost to Kentucky by 33 points end up in the Orange Bowl?  Yes, it is not just possible, there is almost a 50-50 chance that it will happen.  Kent State fell to the weakest team in the SEC by a score of 47-14, but that was the Golden Flashes only loss of the season.  KSU rebounded to run the table in the MAC plus added a win over then undefeated Rutgers in New Jersey.

The current BCS rankings list Kent State at number 17, one spot short of what would be an automatic entry into a BCS Bowl.  If Kent State beats Northern Illinois this week, and Stanford beats UCLA again, then Kent State will definitely gain admission to the Orange Bowl.

The BCS rules state that if a non-automatic qualifying member of an FBS conference finishes in the top 16 of the BCS standings and finishes ahead of any automatic qualifying team, then that non-automatic qualifying team automatically earns a BCS Bowl invitation (in the case where more than one non-automatic qualifying team finishes in the top 16, then only the higher/highest-ranked team earns this invitation.

The Big East Champion will not finish in the top 16 and may not even finish in the top 25.  If Georgia Tech or Wisconsin win their championship games this week, it will be a moot point, because neither will generate even one BCS vote.

If Kent State ends up qualifying for the BCS, then the Golden Flashes will be the last team chosen, and that selection this year goes to the Orange Bowl.  The Big East Champion will then move up to the Sugar Bowl.  This creates two boring mismatches for these prestigious bowls.

Oklahoma stands to lose in this equation.  The Sooners would be a lock for the Sugar Bowl if Kent State loses or UCLA wins this week.  They will fall to the Cotton Bowl if Kent State wins and UCLA loses.

The bowl picture still has some cloudiness, but things are starting to fall in line.  Here is our conference-by-conference look for this week.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Florida State and Georgia Tech face off in the conference title game in Charlotte this week, and the Seminoles are a prohibitive favorite.  A Georgia Tech drops the Yellow Jackets to 6-7, which would necessitate a waiver to play in a bowl game.  There will be 70 bowl-eligible teams without Tech, but UCLA set a precedent last year under similar circumstances.  Because Tech finished third in the Coastal Division, they would not normally be playing FSU this week, so they should be looked at as a 6-6 team.  They will receive that waiver at 6-7 and fall to the Sun Bowl, which is the farthest the ACC Championship Game loser can fall.

North Carolina State fired Tom O’Brien Sunday, so the Wolfpack will fall in the bowl pecking order.  Virginia Tech won to become bowl eligible, and the Hokies will pass NCSU.  Duke will stay close to home, while Clemson heads to Atlanta in what could be one fantastic renewal of a former rivalry.


1. BCS (Orange): Florida State

2. Chick-fil-A: Clemson

3. Russell Athletic: Virginia Tech

4. Sun: Georgia Tech

5. Belk: Duke:

6. Music City: North Carolina St.


Big East Conference

This league has now fallen below 100 in the PiRate Ratings averages, and it is a travesty that the conference champion will earn a BCS Bowl bid.  Not a single team in the Big East could defeat any of the top five SEC or Big 12 teams, and the probably champion lost at home to Kent State.

Rutgers will win the conference with a win at home over ailing Louisville Thursday night.  If UL wins, then the race is up for grabs.  At least three teams and possibly four will finished tied 1t 5-2.  Cincinnati can get a piece of the title with a win at Connecticut. The tiebreaker rules basically make the winner of the UL-RU game the winner of the BCS Bowl bid.

Pittsburgh and Connecticut are both 5-6.  If the Panthers win at South Florida, they will become bowl eligible.  UConn needs to upset Cincinnati to become bowl eligible.  Our ratings believe Pitt will win, and the Huskies will lose.

The Panthers have played in the BBVA Compass bowl two consecutive seasons, so we believe the conference will work with the bowls to keep Pitt out of Birmingham.


1. BCS (Sugar): Rutgers

2. Russell Athletic: Louisville

3. Belk: Cincinnati

4. Pinstripe: Pittsburgh

5. BBVA Compass: Syracuse

6. Beef O’Brady’s: None Available (Connecticut if victorious over Cinti)


Big Ten Conference

This race became much clearer this weekend.  Nebraska and Wisconsin face off in Indianapolis for the Rose Bowl bid.  For now, we will go with the Cornhuskers to win that game.  Purdue and Michigan State became bowl eligible this past weekend, but the Boliermakers fired Danny Hope, which moves them to the bottom of the pecking order.


1. BCS (Rose): Nebraska

2. Capital One: Michigan

3. Outback: Northwestern

4. Gator: Wisconsin

5. Buffalo Wild Wings: Michigan St.

6. Meineke Car Care of Texas: Minnesota

7. Heart of Dallas: Purdue

8. Little Caesar’s: None Available


Big 12 Conference

Either Kansas State or Oklahoma will win the league’s automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl.  If Kent State does sneak into the BCS, then two teams could be in the BCS.  If both KSU and Oklahoma lose this week, then Clemson might steal the extra spot back even though the Tigers lost to South Carolina.

Kansas State hosts Texas, and the Longhorns do not look strong enough to pull off the upset.  This could be the end for Mack Brown, and if the Texas job comes open, the folks in Austin can put together a package to lure anybody to UT.

Oklahoma has a tough game at TCU.  The Horned Frogs could be playing their last game under Coach Gary Patterson, who is being mentioned in several other job openings.

Iowa State is a team on the bubble.  The Cyclones could find themselves on the outside looking in if Kent State earns the BCS Bowl.  The Big 12 has eight bowl tie-ins and nine bowl eligible teams.  Should the league only get one team into a BCS Bowl, ISU will not have a guaranteed spot in a league bowl.  At 6-6, they would lose out to any MAC or Sunbelt team with a winning record.  Iowa State would need for both Pitt and Connecticut to lose to be assured of a bowl, because there are six MAC schools and five Sunbelt schools with winning records with just five bowl tie-ins (six if Kent State sneaks into the Orange Bowl).


1. BCS (Fiesta): Kansas St.

2. Cotton: Oklahoma

3. Alamo: Texas

4. Buffalo Wild Wings: Oklahoma St.

5. Holiday: T C U

6. Meineke Car Care of Texas: Texas Tech

7. Pinstripe: West Virginia

8. Heart of Dallas: Baylor

Iowa St: Biting their nails and hoping Kent State loses or both Pitt and UConn lose.


Conference USA

Central Florida and Tulsa hook up in the title game in Tulsa this week, where the two teams faced off two weeks ago.  This time, we believe UCF will get the better of the Hurricane.

Rice and SMU became bowl eligible this past weekend, so the league will fill its bowl allotments.  The Owls are actually the hottest team in this league.  Coach David Bailiff was on the hot seat five weeks ago, but now he is being mentioned in other job openings.  This was to be a rebuilding season in Houston.


1. Liberty: Central Florida

2. Hawaii: Tulsa

3. Armed Forces: S M U

4. Beef O’Brady’s: East Carolina

5. New Orleans: Rice



Notre Dame secured a spot in the National Championship Game with the win at Southern Cal.  BYU and Navy have already accepted bids to the bowls tied in with the two schools.  Army must relinquish its Military Bowl bid to an at-large entry.


1. BCS (National Championship Game): Notre Dame

2. Poinsettia: Brigham Young (accepted this bid)

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

4. Military: None Available


Mid-American Conference

To this point, we have not really mentioned Northern Illinois.  The Huskies are 11-1, just like Kent State, and this is a tossup game that will be played in Detroit.  NIU does not have a big signature win against a BCS team, having lost to Iowa in Chicago in week one before running off 11 wins in a row.  However, second year coach Dave Doeren has done a great job in Dekalb, keeping this program among the tops at the non-AQ level.  Doeren could be poised to move up to a BCS conference job.

Central Michigan became bowl eligible with a win over Massachusetts, but it now looks highly unlikely that the 6-6 Chippewas will get an at-large bid.  However, Toledo, Ball State, Bowling Green, and Ohio U should all garner bids as well as the two championship game combatants.


1. BCS (Orange): Kent St.

2. Little Caesars: Northern Illinois

3. Toledo

4. Famous Idaho Potato: Bowling Green

5. Military (at-large): Ohio U

6. Liberty (at-large): Ball St.


Mountain West Conference

Boise State is now out of luck and cannot possibly sneak into the BCS Bowl picture.  Both Kent State and Northern Illinois are ahead of the Broncos in the BCS standings.  A Bronco win over Nevada this week will see the conference end in a three-way tie for first.  Boise’s fans travel well, so the Broncos should be first in line in the bowl pecking order.

Two teams have already accepted bowl invitations.  Air Force is headed to the Armed Forces Bowl, while Nevada just accepted a bid to the New Mexico Bowl.


1. MAACO: Boise St.

2. Poinsettia: San Diego St.

3. Hawaii: Fresno St.

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

5. New Mexico: Nevada (accepted this bid)


Pac-12 Conference

Stanford hosts UCLA for the Rose Bowl bid, just six days after clobbering the Bruins at the Rose Bowl.  A Cardinal win Friday night could be the coup de grace for the Big 12 getting a second BCS Bowl invitation.

Oregon is almost a shoo-in for the Fiesta Bowl, as the Fiesta Bowl will get the second choice from among the at-large invitations.  The Sugar Bowl selects ahead of the Fiesta, but we believe an SEC team will be their selection.  It might be interesting to see Oregon face Kent State in the Sugar Bowl to see if the Ducks could go for 100 points.


1. BCS (Rose): Stanford

2. BCS (Fiesta): Oregon

3. Alamo: U C L A

4. Holiday: Oregon St.

5. Sun: Arizona St.

6. MAACO: Southern Cal

7. Kraft Fight Hunger: Washington

8. New Mexico: Arizona


Southeastern Conference

The Alabama-Georgia game in Atlanta this weekend serves as a semifinal game for the national championship.  Because Florida will almost assuredly finish third in the BCS rankings, the loser of the SEC Championship Game will drop possibly as far as the fifth bowl in the pecking order, especially if Georgia loses.

Ole Miss became bowl eligible with their Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State, but the SEC will fall two teams short in bowl obligations.  That means the Liberty and Independence Bowls will have to find at-large participants.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may have a new nickname.  Instead of Johnny Football, he could soon be known as Johnny Heisman.  He and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o are the only two legitimate contenders for the Heisman Trophy.


1. BCS (National Championship Game): Alabama

2. BCS (Sugar): Florida

3. Capital One: L S U

4. Outback: South Carolina

5. Cotton: Texas A&M

6. Chick-fil-A: Georgia

7. Gator: Mississippi St.

8. Music City: Vanderbilt

9. BBVA Compass: Ole Miss

10. Liberty: None Available

11. Independence: None Available


Sunbelt Conference

The conference championship will be decided this weekend when Middle Tennessee goes to Jonesboro to play Arkansas State.  The winner will earn a trip to the bowl, while the loser may have to head to Detroit as an at-large team.

UL-Lafayette accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl over the weekend.  UL-Monroe and Western Kentucky should also see bowl invitations extended.


1. Arkansas St.

2. New Orleans: UL-Lafayette (accepted this bid)

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

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

5. Beef  O’Brady’s (at-large): Western Kentucky


Western Athletic Conference

Too bad this league will no longer compete in football as most of the teams vacate to other conferences next year.  Truth be told, the top three in the WAC might be better than the top three in the Big East and close to the equal of the top three in the ACC.

Utah State, San Jose State, and Louisiana Tech will earn bowl bids.  UT-San Antonio finished 8-4, but the Roadrunners are not eligible to compete in a bowl due to being in transition to the FBS.

The one sad point is that the top three teams may all lose their coaches to bigger programs.  Gary Andersen, Mike MacIntyre, and Sonny Dykes are sizzling hot commodities.


1. Famous Idaho Potato: Utah St. (accepted this bid)

2. Independence (at-large): Louisiana Tech

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


Bowl Projections

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

Here are this week’s PiRate Ratings

P i R a t e
# Team PiRate
1 Alabama 133.4
2 Oregon   131.7
3 Texas A&M 128.3
4 Kansas St. 127.5
5 Oklahoma 127.1
6 Oklahoma St. 125.3
7 Notre Dame 125.2
8 Georgia 124.9
9 L S U   123.2
10 South Carolina 123.0
11 Florida St. 121.4
12 Stanford 120.8
13 Florida 120.5
14 Clemson   119.3
15 U S C 117.9
16 Texas 117.5
17 Oregon St. 115.4
18 Baylor 115.1
19 Ohio St. 114.8
20 Nebraska 114.6
21 U C L A 114.6
22 Michigan 114.4
23 T C U 114.0
24 Wisconsin   113.6
25 Vanderbilt 113.0
26 B Y U 112.3
27 West Virginia 111.9
28 Arizona St. 110.3
29 Michigan St. 110.1
30 Mississippi St. 109.8
31 Arizona 109.7
32 Penn St. 109.6
33 Iowa St. 109.5
34 Texas Tech 109.3
35 Washington 109.2
36 Northwestern 108.8
37 Ole Miss 108.4
38 North Carolina 107.9
39 Tennessee 107.3
40 Missouri 107.1
41 Boise St. 106.8
42 Northern Illinois   106.1
43 Syracuse 105.9
44 Fresno St. 105.7
45 Georgia Tech 105.5
46 Utah 105.5
47 Rutgers 105.4
48 Central Florida 105.4
49 Utah St. 105.2
50 Miami-FL 104.2
51 Tulsa 103.9
52 North Carolina St. 103.8
53 Virginia Tech 103.3
54 Cincinnati 103.3
55 Pittsburgh 103.2
56 Louisiana Tech   103.1
57 San Jose St. 102.7
58 Arkansas 102.4
59 Louisville 100.8
60 San Diego St. 100.6
61 Purdue 100.3
62 Ball St. 99.7
63 California 99.6
64 Kent St. 99.4
65 Auburn 98.2
66 Arkansas St. 97.7
67 Iowa 97.4
68 South Florida 97.2
69 Kansas 97.2
70 Connecticut 96.9
71 Duke 96.7
72 Toledo 96.7
73 Virginia 96.3
74 Minnesota 96.1
75 S M U 96.0
76 Bowling Green 95.9
77 Boston College 95.4
78 Maryland 95.1
79 UL-Lafayette 95.0
80 Nevada 94.9
81 Louisiana-Monroe 94.6
82 Washington St. 93.8
83 East Carolina 93.4
84 Rice 92.5
85 Navy 92.1
86 Indiana 91.8
87 Western Kentucky 91.5
88 Houston 90.1
89 Western Michigan 89.7
90 Wake Forest 89.4
91 Ohio U 89.2
92 Kentucky 89.2
93 Temple 89.1
94 Marshall 88.9
95 Troy 88.9
96 Illinois 88.5
97 U T E P 87.6
98 Wyoming 87.5
99 Air Force 87.1
100 Middle Tennessee 86.7
101 North Texas 85.9
102 Central Michigan 85.7
103 Buffalo 85.2
104 Florida International 85.2
105 Army 84.3
106 Miami (O) 84.3
107 Colorado St. 83.5
108 U A B 83.0
109 New Mexico 82.6
110 Memphis 82.0
111 Southern Mississippi   80.8
112 Colorado 80.1
113 Florida Atlantic 79.9
114 Eastern Michigan 79.7
115 Texas St. 79.5
116 Hawaii 79.1
117 UNLV 78.8
118 U T S A 77.7
119 Tulane 75.3
120 South Alabama 74.9
121 Akron 74.3
122 Idaho 73.2
123 New Mexico St. 72.1
124 Massachusetts 68.1


V i n t a g e
# Team Vintage
1 Alabama 127.5
2 Georgia  127.5
3 Notre Dame 126.0
4 Texas A&M 125.5
5 Stanford 125.0
6 Oregon 125.0
7 L S U 124.5
8 Ohio St. 124.5
9 Florida  123.5
10 South Carolina 121.5
11 Kansas St. 121.5
12 Oklahoma 120.5
13 Nebraska 119.0
14 Michigan 118.0
15 Oklahoma St. 117.5
16 Florida St. 116.5
17 Vanderbilt 114.5
18 Clemson 114.0
19 U C L A 114.0
20 Oregon St. 113.5
21 Penn St. 113.5
22 Northwestern 112.5
23 Southern Cal 112.0
24 B Y U 111.5
25 T C U 111.0
26 Ole Miss 110.5
27 Wisconsin 110.5
28 Fresno St. 109.5
29 Boise St. 109.5
30 San Diego St. 109.5
31 Texas 109.5
32 Michigan St. 109.5
33 Mississippi St. 109.0
34 Utah St. 108.5
35 Baylor 108.5
36 Arizona St. 108.0
37 Arizona 107.5
38 North Carolina St. 107.5
39 Washington 107.0
40 North Carolina 106.5
41 Kent St. 106.0
42 Cincinnati 106.0
43 West Virginia 106.0
44 Northern Illinois 105.5
45 Miami 105.0
46 Virginia Tech 105.0
47 Texas Tech 105.0
48 Syracuse 104.5
49 San Jose St. 104.5
50 Utah 104.0
51 Central Florida 103.5
52 Iowa St. 103.5
53 Georgia Tech 103.0
54 Missouri 103.0
55 Arkansas 103.0
56 Louisiana Tech 102.5
57 Louisville 101.5
58 Rutgers 101.5
59 Tulsa 100.5
60 Nevada 100.0
61 Virginia 100.0
62 Purdue 99.5
63 Arkansas St. 99.5
64 Ball St. 99.5
65 Bowling Green 99.5
66 Tennessee 99.0
67 Duke 98.5
68 Pittsburgh 98.0
69 Minnesota 98.0
70 Boston College 97.5
71 Toledo 96.5
72 California 96.0
73 Kansas 95.5
74 East Carolina 95.0
75 Navy 95.0
76 Connecticut 94.5
77 Rice 94.0
78 UL-Lafayette 94.0
79 Indiana 94.0
80 Iowa 93.5
81 Middle Tennessee 93.0
82 Ohio U 93.0
83 Temple 93.0
84 S M U 92.5
85 Auburn 92.5
86 Wake Forest 92.5
87 UL-Monroe 92.0
88 Maryland 91.5
89 Kentucky 91.0
90 Air Force 90.0
91 South Florida 90.0
92 Washington St. 90.0
93 Central Michigan 89.5
94 Illinois 89.5
95 Western Kentucky 89.0
96 Troy 88.5
97 Colorado 88.5
98 Wyoming 88.0
99 Marshall 88.0
100 Colorado St. 88.0
101 U T S A 87.5
102 Buffalo 87.5
103 Army 87.0
104 Memphis 86.0
105 Miami (O) 85.0
106 Houston 84.5
107 New Mexico 84.5
108 Texas St. 84.5
109 U A B 83.5
110 Western Michigan 83.5
111 Florida Int’l 83.0
112 U N L V 82.5
113 U T E P 82.0
114 Eastern Michigan 80.5
115 Florida Atlantic 80.0
116 Hawaii 79.5
117 North Texas 79.0
118 Akron 78.5
119 Tulane 76.0
120 Massachusetts 75.5
121 South Alabama 75.0
122 Southern Miss. 74.5
123 Idaho 74.5
124 New Mexico St. 69.0


PiRate Ratings By Conference

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Florida St. 7-1 10-2 121.4 116.5
Clemson   7-1 10-2 119.3 114.0
North Carolina St. 4-4 7-5 103.8 107.5
Boston College 1-7 2-10 95.4 97.5
Maryland 2-6 4-8 95.1 91.5
Wake Forest 3-5 5-7 89.4 92.5
Coastal Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
North Carolina 5-3 8-4 107.9 106.5
Georgia Tech 5-3 6-6 105.5 103.0
Miami-FL 5-3 8-4 104.2 105.0
Virginia Tech 4-4 6-6 103.3 105.0
Duke 3-5 6-6 96.7 98.5
Virginia 2-6 4-8 96.3 100.0
Conference Means 103.16   103.19 103.1



Big East Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Syracuse 5-2 7-5 105.9 104.5
Rutgers 5-1 9-2 105.4 101.5
Cincinnati 4-2 8-3 103.3 106.0
Pittsburgh 2-4 5-6 103.2 98.0
Louisville 4-2 9-2 100.8 101.5
South Florida 1-5 3-8 97.2 90.0
Connecticut 2-4 5-6 96.9 94.5
Temple 2-5 4-7 89.1 93.0
Conference Means 99.425   100.23 98.6



Big Ten
Leaders Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Ohio St. 8-0 12-0 114.8 124.5
Wisconsin   4-4 7-5 113.6 110.5
Penn St. 6-2 8-4 109.6 113.5
Purdue 3-5 6-6 100.3 99.5
Indiana 2-6 4-8 91.8 94.0
Illinois 0-8 2-10 88.5 89.5
Legends Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Nebraska 7-1 10-2 114.6 119.0
Michigan 6-2 8-4 114.4 118.0
Michigan St. 3-5 6-6 110.1 109.5
Northwestern 5-3 9-3 108.8 112.5
Iowa 2-6 4-8 97.4 93.5
Minnesota 2-6 6-6 96.1 98.0
Conference Means 105.917   105.00 106.8



Big 12
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Kansas St. 7-1 10-1 127.5 121.5
Oklahoma 7-1 9-2 127.1 120.5
Oklahoma St. 5-3 7-4 125.3 117.5
Texas 5-3 8-3 117.5 109.5
Baylor 3-5 6-5 115.1 108.5
T C U 4-4 7-4 114.0 111.0
West Virginia 3-5 6-5 111.9 106.0
Iowa St. 3-6 6-6 109.5 103.5
Texas Tech 4-5 7-5 109.3 105.0
Kansas 0-8 1-10 97.2 95.5
Conference Means 112.645   115.44 109.9



Conference USA
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Central Florida 7-1 9-3 105.4 103.5
East Carolina 7-1 8-4 93.4 95.0
Marshall 4-4 5-7 88.9 88.0
U A B 2-6 3-9 83.0 83.5
Memphis 4-4 4-8 82.0 86.0
Southern Mississippi   0-8 0-12 80.8 74.5
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Tulsa 7-1 9-3 103.9 100.5
S M U 5-3 6-6 96.0 92.5
Rice 4-4 6-6 92.5 94.0
Houston 4-4 5-7 90.1 84.5
U T E P 2-6 3-9 87.6 82.0
Tulane 2-6 2-10 75.3 76.0
Conference Means 89.1208   89.91 88.3



Team   Overall Rating Vintage
Notre Dame   12-0 125.2 126.0
B Y U   7-5 112.3 111.5
Navy   7-4 92.1 95.0
Army   2-9 84.3 87.0
Conference Means 104.175   103.48 104.9



Mid American Conference
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Kent St. 8-0 11-1 99.4 106.0
Bowling Green 6-2 8-4 95.9 99.5
Ohio U 4-4 8-4 89.2 93.0
Buffalo 3-5 4-8 85.2 87.5
Miami (O) 3-5 4-8 84.3 85.0
Akron 0-8 1-11 74.3 78.5
Massachusetts 1-7 1-11 68.1 75.5
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Northern Illinois   8-0 11-1 106.1 105.5
Ball St. 6-2 9-3 99.7 99.5
Toledo 6-2 9-3 96.7 96.5
Western Michigan 2-6 4-8 89.7 83.5
Central Michigan 4-4 6-6 85.7 89.5
Eastern Michigan 1-7 2-10 79.7 80.5
Conference Means 89.7692   88.77 90.8



Mountain West Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Boise St. 6-1 9-2 106.8 109.5
Fresno St. 7-1 9-3 105.7 109.5
San Diego St. 7-1 9-3 100.6 109.5
Nevada 4-3 7-4 94.9 100.0
Wyoming 3-5 4-8 87.5 88.0
Air Force 5-3 6-6 87.1 90.0
Colorado St. 3-5 4-8 83.5 88.0
New Mexico 1-7 4-9 82.6 84.5
Hawaii 1-7 2-9 79.1 79.5
UNLV 2-6 2-11 78.8 82.5
Conference Means 92.38   90.66 94.1



Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Oregon   8-1 11-1 131.7 125.0
Stanford 8-1 10-2 120.8 125.0
Oregon St. 6-3 8-3 115.4 113.5
Washington 5-4 7-5 109.2 107.0
California 2-7 3-9 99.6 96.0
Washington St. 1-8 3-9 93.8 90.0
South Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
U S C 5-4 7-5 117.9 112.0
U C L A 6-3 9-3 114.6 114.0
Arizona St. 5-4 7-5 110.3 108.0
Arizona 4-5 7-5 109.7 107.5
Utah 3-6 5-7 105.5 104.0
Colorado 1-8 1-11 80.1 88.5
Conference Means 108.296   109.05 107.5



Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Georgia 7-1 11-1 124.9 127.5
South Carolina 6-2 10-2 123.0 121.5
Florida 7-1 11-1 120.5 123.5
Vanderbilt 5-3 8-4 113.0 114.5
Tennessee 1-7 5-7 107.3 99.0
Missouri 2-6 5-7 107.1 103.0
Kentucky 0-8 2-10 89.2 91.0
West Division        
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Alabama 7-1 11-1 133.4 127.5
Texas A&M 6-2 10-2 128.3 125.5
L S U   6-2 10-2 123.2 124.5
Mississippi St. 4-4 8-4 109.8 109.0
Ole Miss 3-5 6-6 108.4 110.5
Arkansas 2-6 4-8 102.4 103.0
Auburn 0-8 3-9 98.2 92.5
Conference Means 112.9   113.48 112.3



Sunbelt Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Arkansas St. 6-1 8-3 97.7 99.5
UL-Lafayette 5-2 7-4 95.0 94.0
Louisiana-Monroe 6-2 8-4 94.6 92.0
Western Kentucky 4-4 7-5 91.5 89.0
Troy 3-5 5-7 88.9 88.5
Middle Tennessee 6-1 8-3 86.7 93.0
North Texas 3-5 4-8 85.9 79.0
Florida International 2-6 3-9 85.2 83.0
Florida Atlantic 2-5 3-8 79.9 80.0
South Alabama 1-7 2-10 74.9 75.5
Conference Means 87.69   88.03 87.4



Western Athletic Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating Vintage
Utah St. 6-0 10-2 105.2 108.5
Louisiana Tech   4-2 9-3 103.1 102.5
San Jose St. 5-1 10-2 102.7 104.5
Texas St. 1-4 3-8 79.5 84.5
U T S A 3-3 8-4 77.7 87.5
Idaho 1-5 1-11 73.2 74.5
New Mexico St. 0-5 1-10 72.1 69.0
Conference Means 88.8929   87.64 90.1



This Week’s PiRate Spreads

This Week’s Games
Favorite Underdog PiRate Vintage Line
Thursday, November 29      
RUTGERS Louisville 7.6 3.0 3   
Friday, November 23      
Northern Illinois (Detroit) Kent St. 6.7 -0.5 5   
STANFORD U c l a 9.2 14.0 9   
Saturday, November 24      
Cincinnati CONNECTICUT 3.4 8.5 5 1/2
Pittsburgh SOUTH FLORIDA 3.0 5.0 6   
Oklahoma T C U 10.1 6.5 6 1/2
KANSAS ST. Texas 13.0 15.0 12   
Oklahoma St. BAYLOR 7.2 6.0 4 1/2
Boise St. NEVADA 8.9 6.5 9   
WEST VIRGINIA Kansas 17.7 13.5 20   
TEXAS ST. New Mexico St. 9.4 17.5 13   
ARKANSAS ST. Middle Tennessee 14.0 9.5 10   
UL-Lafayette FLORIDA ATLANTIC 13.1 12.0 9 1/2
HAWAII South Alabama 8.2 8.0 4 1/2
TULSA Central Florida 1.5 0.0 Pk
Alabama (Atlanta) Georgia 7.0 -1.5 7 1/2
Florida St. (Charlotte) Georgia Tech 15.9 13.5 14   
Nebraska (Indianapolis) Wisconsin 1.0 8.5 2 1/2


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Favorite Underdog PiRate Vintage Line
Navy (Philadelphia) Army 7.8 8.0 NL


March 12, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 12 Update

Bucknell Joins The Dance Party

The Bucknell Bison earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid Friday with a 72-54 victory over Lafayette.  Versatile big man Mike Muscala led the Bison with 18 points while sharpshooter Bryson Johnson added 15.


Bucknell improved to 25-8 on the season.  They project to be a 12 or 13-seed.


12 More Bids To Go Out Saturday


This is the busiest day of the tournament schedule.  13 conferences will crown their champion, and four other conferences will conduct semifinal rounds.  All told, every single one of the 21 games scheduled will be televised nationally.  Do you have enough televisions and a good high-speed computer?


Here is a conference-by-conference look at all the action.


All Game Times EST


Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

Quarterfinal Round

#1 North Carolina  61  #9 Miami  59

#4 Clemson  70  #5 Boston College  47

#2 Duke  87  #7 Maryland  71

#6 Virginia Tech  52  #3 Florida State  51 


Semifinal Round

#1 North Carolina (25-6)  vs. #4 Clemson (21-10)  1:30 PM  ESPN 

#2 Duke (28-4)  vs. #6 Virginia Tech (21-11)  3:45 PM  ESPN


All four teams are safely in the NCAA Tournament.  The Hokies secured a spot in the Dance with the nail-biting win over the Seminoles.


America East Conference

Championship Round

#5 Stony Brook (15-16)  at #2 Boston U (20-13)  12 Noon  ESPN2


Boston U won both regular season meetings.  The Terriers won 67-62 at home and 62-49 on the road.  They win with their defense, as they only shoot 40.6% from the field.


Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Dayton  68  #1 Xavier  67

#12 St. Joseph’s  93  #4 Duquesne  90  ot

#2 Temple  96  #10 LaSalle  76

#3 Richmond  55  #6 Rhode Island 45


Semifinal Round

#9 Dayton (21-12)  vs. #12 St. Joseph’s (11-21)  1 PM  CBS College

#2 Temple (25-6)  vs. #3 Richmond (24-7)  3:30 PM  CBS College


The Bubble teams will have to sweat it out all the way until Sunday.  At least one long shot will advance to the Championship Game.  Neither St. Joe’s nor Dayton is getting an at-large bid, and one of the two will be playing for an automatic bid Sunday.  Both Temple and Richmond are in the Dance.


Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

Semifinal Round

#1 Kansas  90  #5 Colorado  83

#2 Texas  70  #3 Texas A&M  58


Championship Game

#1 Kansas (31-2)  vs. #2 Texas (27-6)  6 PM  ESPN


The Jayhawks are still playing for the overall number one seed, while Texas is probably locked in on a number two seed.  However, with Notre Dame losing, a Longhorn win could put them in the conversation, especially if Duke does not win the ACC Tournament.


Big East Conference—New York City

Semifinal Round

#9 Connecticut  76  #4 Syracuse  71  ot

#3 Louisville 83  #2 Notre Dame  77  ot 


Championship Game

#3 Louisville (25-8)  vs. #9 Connecticut (25-9)  9 PM  ESPN


Connecticut becomes the first team ever to play five games in five days in modern college basketball history.  Will they have anything left in the tank next week when it really counts?  Louisville’s win more than likely killed any chance for the Irish getting a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.


Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Ohio State  67  #8 Northwestern  61 ot

#4 Michigan  60  #5 Illinois  55

#7 Michigan State  74  #2 Purdue  56

#6 Penn State  36  #3 Wisconsin 33


Semifinal Round

#1 Ohio State (30-2)  vs. #4 Michigan (20-12)  1:40 PM  CBS

#6 Penn State (18-13)  vs. #7 Michigan State (19-13)  4 PM  CBS


Michigan State has now earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  Penn State might move from the Bubble to in the tournament with a win over the Spartans.


Big West Conference—Anaheim

Semifinal Round

#1 Long Beach State  74  #7 UC-Riverside  63

#5 UC-Santa Barbara 83  #3 Cal State Northridge 63


Championship Game

#1 Long Beach State (22-10)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (17-13)  8 PM  ESPN2


Long Beach State won both meetings against the Gauchos in the regular season, and neither game was close.  The 49ers are not going to become another Butler or even repeat the exploits of Northern Iowa last year, but they could scare a favored team in the first round.  If UCSB wins, then they will make a quick exit in the first round.


Conference USA—El Paso, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Memphis  76  #8 East Carolina  56

#3 U T E P  66  #2 Tulsa  54


Championship Game

#3 UTEP (25-8)  vs. #4 Memphis (24-9)  11:30 AM  CBS


The host Miners blew Memphis off the floor 74-47 in their only regular season meeting.  That game took place on this court.


Ivy League Playoff

Harvard (23-5)  vs. Princeton (24-6)  at Yale University  4 PM 


If Princeton wins a close game, there is an outside chance that the Ivy League could get two bids.


Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Semifinal Round

#6 Akron  79  #2 Western Michigan  68

#1 Kent State 79  #4 Ball State 68


Championship Game

#1 Kent State (23-10)  vs. #6 Akron (22-12)  6 PM  ESPN2


The winner goes dancing, while the loser can only hope for a trip to Madison Square Garden in late March.


M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Semifinal Round

#4 Morgan State  61  #1 Bethune-Cookman  48

#2 Hampton  85  #6 Norfolk State  61


Championship Game

#2 Hampton (23-8)  vs. #4 Morgan State (17-13)  2 PM  ESPN2


Morgan State goes for a four-peat.  The Bears beat Hampton in the regular season 78-72.


Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U  87  #5 New Mexico  76

#2 San Diego State  74  #3 UNLV 72


Championship Game

#1 B Y U  (30-3)  vs. #2 San Diego State (31-2)  7 PM  Versus


Is the third time the charm for San Diego State?  The Aztecs’ two losses were to the Cougars.  If they can hold Jimmer Fredette under 35 points, we have a feeling that SDSU will cut down the nets. 


Both teams are legitimate threats to make it to the Sweet 16 and possibly a round or two farther.


Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona  67  #4 Southern Cal  62

#3 Washington 69  #7 Oregon 51


Championship Game

#1 Arizona (27-6)  vs. #3 Washington (22-10)  6 PM  CBS


This should be an exciting game, even though it will not greatly affect the NCAA Tournament seedings.


The two teams split the season series, but the Huskies came close to sweeping.  UW won by 17 at home and fell by a single point in Tucson.  We think this is a tossup game.


Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

Quarterfinal Round

1W  Alabama 65  4E Georgia 59  ot

2E  Kentucky  75  3W  Ole Miss 66

1E  Florida  85  5E  Tennessee  74

3E  Vanderbilt  87  2W  Mississippi State  81


Semifinal Round

1W  Alabama (21-10)  vs. 2E  Kentucky (23-8)  1 PM  ABC

1E  Florida (25-6)  vs.  3E  Vanderbilt (23-9)  3:30 PM  ABC


Alabama played themselves into position to get one of the final at-large bids.  The Crimson Tide fans need to route against a Dayton or St. Joseph’s tournament championship in the Atlantic 10, because there is still little room for error for ‘Bama.


Kentucky looks unstoppable at times and then looks like a team that doesn’t belong in the tournament at others.  That’s what you get with a bunch of underclassmen and with no depth.


We believe this game will be close for most of the day, but the Wildcats will enjoy one nice spurt in both halves to hold off the Tide by six to 12 points.


Florida is playing about as well as either of their two National Champion teams.  It is hard to stop a team with five guys capable of scoring 20 points.  The Gators’ have few weaknesses.


Vanderbilt is a lot like Florida, but not as talented.  The Commodores have excellent outside shooters, but they cannot create their own shot like Florida’s outside shooters.  They have a couple of excellent inside scorers, but they can disappear against Florida’s inside players.  We look for the Gators to dominate this one from the beginning and win by double digits.


Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Championship Game

#1 McNeese State (21-10)  vs. #7 UT-San Antonio (18-13)  4 PM  ESPN2


S W A C—Garland, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Alabama State  73  #1 Texas Southern  66

#6 Grambling  81  #2 Jackson State  75  ot


Championship Game

#4 Alabama State (16-17)  vs. #6 Grambling (12-20)  8:30 PM  ESPNU


The winner of this game can definitely plan on heading to Dayton for a First Four game.


W A C—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State  58  #8 San Jose State  54

#2 Boise State 81  #3 New Mexico State  63


Championship Game

#1 Utah State (29-3)  vs. #2 Boise State (20-11) 10 PM  ESPN2


Utah State is definitely in the Dance, so if the Broncos can pull off the big upset, another bubble will burst somewhere else.


Note: St. Mary’s defeated Weber State Friday night 77-54 in a non-conference game that was scheduled only two months ago.  The Gaels appear to be safe as an at-large team.

March 11, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 11 Update

Patriot League Championship—4:45 PM EST On ESPN2

#6 Lafayette (13-18)  at #1 Bucknell (24-8)


Lafayette makes an appearance in the conference championship game for the second consecutive year.  The Leopards fell to rival Lehigh last season and were tabbed the best team in the league in the preseason.  They took a step backward and tumbled to sixth in the league.


Bucknell closed 2010 with an 8-2 finish and returned all five starters and most of their key reserves.  The Bison continued to play top-notch ball and ran away with the Patriot League title.  Bucknell is on fire, having won nine games in a row by an average of 72-60 and 22 of their last 24 games.


The Bison swept the series against their Keystone State rival, winning 75-56 in Lewisburg and 74-69 in overtime at Easton.  Tonight’s game is on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, so Bucknell will enjoy the home court advantage.


In the earlier game in Lewisburg, Bucknell began the second half of a close game by going on a 20-3 run to put the game out of reach.  The Bison held Lafayette to 37% shooting and controlled the boards by 14.  In the game at Lafayette, Bucknell led 61-50 with four and a half minutes to go, but the Bison did not score another point in regulation.  Lafayette scored 11 consecutive points to force overtime and then briefly took a 64-61 lead at the start of the extra period.  The Leopards shot under 40% again and were outrebounded once again.


Bucknell goes just seven-deep, and all seven contribute to the offense.  Muscular big man Mike Muscala leads the way with 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.  The 6-11 Muscala has recorded six double-doubles in the last 15 games.  Bryson Johnson is an excellent long-range shooter, and he shoots 47% from three-point range.  As a team, Bucknell shoots 40.6% from behind the arc.


Lafayette led the entire game at Holy Cross in the conference tournament quarterfinal.  The Leopards placed five players in double figure scoring, and they stole the ball nine times to knock off the Crusaders.  In the semifinal round at number two seed American, the Leopards trailed by two points in the final seconds when Jim Mower buried a three-pointer as the clock expired to seal a double overtime victory.


If the Leopards are to pull off the big upset and advance to a First Four game in Dayton next week, big man Jared Mintz will have to neutralize Muscala.  Mintz gives away two inches in height, but he has the power to hold his own inside.  Mintz leads the Leopards with a 15.8 point scoring average and 5.8 rebound average.  Mower averages 12.4 points per game.


Thursday’s Results And Friday’s Games With NCAA Tournament Repercussions

All Times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

1st Round

#9 Miami  69  #8 Virginia  62

#5 Boston College  81  #12 Wake Forest  67

#7 Maryland  75  #10 North Carolina State  67

#6 Virginia Tech  59  #11 Georgia Tech  43


Quarterfinal Round

#9 Miami (19-13)  vs. #1 North Carolina (24-6)  12 Noon  ESPN2

#5 Boston College (20-11)  vs. #4 Clemson (20-10)  Approx. 2:15 PM  ESPN2

#7 Maryland (19-13)  vs. #2 Duke (27-4)  7 PM  ESPN2

#6 Virginia Tech (20-10)  vs. #3 Florida State (21-9)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN2


North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Clemson, and Boston College are in.  Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Miami are on the bubble.  Miami and Maryland must win today, or they are NIT-bound.  Virginia Tech is in a near must-win situation.  They are on the middle of the bubble.


Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

No Games Played Thursday

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Dayton (20-12)  vs. #1 Xavier (24-6)  12 Noon  CBS College

#12 St. Joseph’s (10-21)  vs. #4 Duquesne (18-11)  2:30 PM  CBS College

#10 LaSalle (15-17)  vs. #2 Temple (24-6)  6:30 PM  CBS College

#6 Rhode Island (19-12)  vs. #3 Richmond (24-7)  9 PM  CBS College


Xavier, Temple, and Richmond are in.  Duquesne must win the tournament to get in, so the bubble teams will be pulling for Dayton or Xavier to stop them in the semifinals.  Keep an eye on Rhode Island.  The Rams are capable of upsetting Richmond and Temple to get to the finals.


Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Kansas  53  #9 Oklahoma State  52

#5 Colorado  87  #4 Kansas State  75

#2 Texas  74  #10 Oklahoma  54

#3 Texas A&M  86  #6 Missouri  71


Semifinal Round

#1 Kansas (30-2)  vs. #5 Colorado (21-12)  7 PM

#2 Texas (26-6)  vs. #3 Texas A&M (24-7)  9:30 PM


Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, and Colorado are in.  The Buffalos secured their bid yesterday, so the rest of this tournament is all about the seedings.


Big East Conference—New York City

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Connecticut  76  #1 Pittsburgh  74

#4 Syracuse  79  #5 St. John’s  73

#2 Notre Dame  89  #7 Cincinnati  51

#3 Louisville  81  #11 Marquette  56


Semifinal Round

#9 Connecticut (24-9)  vs. #4 Syracuse (26-6)  7 PM  ESPN

#2 Notre Dame (26-5)  vs. #3 Louisville (24-8)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN


11, yes 11, teams will receive invitations Sunday evening.  This is the strongest league not just this year, but maybe since the Big East placed three teams in the Final Four in 1985.  This should be a great finish to the tournament, and Notre Dame has a chance to move to a number one seed if the Irish win it.  Any one of these four could still be playing in late March.


Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

1st Round

#8 Northwestern  75  #9 Minnesota  65

#7 Michigan State  66  #10 Iowa  61

#6 Penn State  61  #11 Indiana  55


Quarterfinal Round

#1 Ohio State (29-2)  vs. #8 Northwestern (18-12) 12 Noon  ESPN

#4 Michigan (19-12)  vs. #5 Illinois (19-12)  Approx 2:20  ESPN

#2 Purdue (25-6)  vs. #7 Michigan State (18-13)  6:30 PM  Big Ten Network

#3 Wisconsin (23-7)  vs. #6 Penn State (17-13)  Approx. 8:45  Big Ten Network


Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois are in.  Michigan State can definitely punch a ticket with an upset over Purdue today, and they are still on the highest part of the bubble if they lose.  Northwestern and Penn State must win the tournament to get in, although the Nittany Lions could get in the discussion with a loss in the finals.  We would not be all that surprised if the Wildcats play Ohio State a close game, at least for 30 to 32 minutes.


Big West Conference—Anaheim

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Long Beach State 79  #8 UC-Irvine  72

#5 UC-Santa Barbara  79  #4 Pacific  67

#7 UC-Riverside  70  #2 Cal Poly  66  ot

#3 Cal State Northridge  75  #6 Cal State Fullerton  54


Semifinal Round

#1 Long Beach State (21-10)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (16-13)  9:30 PM  ESPNU

#3 Cal State Northridge (14-17)  vs. #7 UC-Riverside (12-18)  12 Midnight  ESPNU


The champion is the only team that will advance.  Long Beach State has a minimal at best chance of winning a first round game if they are the champion.


Conference USA—El Paso, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#8 East Carolina  75  #1 U A B  70  ot

#4 Memphis  66  #5 Southern Miss.  63

#3 U T E P  77  #6 Marshall  65

#2 Tulsa  81  #7 Rice  72


Semifinal Round

#2 Tulsa (19-12)  vs. #3 U T E P  (24-8)  3 PM 

#4 Memphis (23-9)  vs. #8 East Carolina (18-14)  5:30 PM


At this point, no team is guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance.  UAB played their way to the bottom half of the bubble with a loss to ECU.  Memphis and UTEP could possibly get into the conversation if they both advance to the championship game.  For now, we are projecting just the champion to make it into the tournament.  The host Miners enjoy a large home court advantage and should top Tulsa in a thriller today.


Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Western Michigan 67  #7 Bowling Green  56

#6 Akron  82  #3 Miami (O)  75  2ot

#1 Kent State  73  #8 Buffalo  62

#4 Ball State  76  #5 Ohio U  73  ot


Semifinal Round

#2 Western Michigan (20-11)  vs. #6 Akron (21-12)  7 PM

#1 Kent State (22-10)  vs. #4 Ball State (19-12)  9:30 PM


The MAC has been down in recent years, but the eventual champion of this tournament could be a formidable opponent as a number 13 or 14 seed for a better team in the first round. 


M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Morgan State  77  #5 North Carolina A&T  59

#6 Norfolk State  55  #3 Coppin State 53


Semifinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman (21-11)  vs. #4 Morgan State (16-13)  6 PM

#2 Hampton (22-8) vs. #6 Norfolk State (12-19)  Approx. 8:15 PM


These teams are playing for a probable spot in the First Four.  The first semifinal will be a thriller; the top-seeded Wildcats face the three-time defending champion Bears.


Hampton has been a surprise team, and they should have an easier contest and be more rested for the championship.


Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Quarterfinal Round

#1 B Y U  64  #9 T C U  58

#5 New Mexico  67  #4 Colorado State 61

#2 San Diego State  64  #7 Utah  50

#3 U N L V  69  #6 Air Force 53


Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U (29-3)  vs. #5 New Mexico (21-11)  9 PM  CBS College

#2 San Diego State (30-2)  vs. #3 U N L V  (24-7)  11:30 PM  CBS College


BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV are in.  Colorado State played themselves into the NIT with the loss yesterday to New Mexico.  As for the Lobos, with a third win over BYU today, they could get into the conversation, but they probably need to earn the automatic bid to go dancing.


Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Arizona 78  #9 Oregon State  69

#4 Southern Cal  70  #5 California  56

#7 Oregon  76  #2 U C L A  59

#3 Washington 89  #6 Washington State 87


Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona (26-6)  vs. #4 Southern Cal (19-13)  9 PM  Fox Sports

#3 Washington (21-10)  vs. #7 Oregon (16-16)  11:30 PM  Fox Sports


Arizona, UCLA, and Washington are in.  Oregon must win this tournament to get in.  As for Southern Cal, the Trojans might work their way into one of the final bubble spots with an upset over the top-seeded Wildcats tonight.  Last night’s battle of the Evergreen State was one of the most exciting of the tournament season with the Huskies coming from behind to knock off arch-rival Washington State by two.


Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

1st Round

#4E  Georgia  69  #5W  Auburn  51

#3W  Ole Miss  66  #6E  South Carolina  55

#5E  Tennessee  74  #4W  Arkansas  68

#3E  Vanderbilt  62  #6W  L S U  50


Quarterfinal Round

#1W  Alabama (21-10)  vs. #4E Georgia (20-10)  1 PM

#2E  Kentucky (22-8)  vs. #3W Ole Miss (20-12)  3:30 PM

#1E  Florida (24-6)  vs. #5E  Tennessee (19-13)  7:30 PM

#2W Mississippi State (17-13)  vs. #3E  Vanderbilt (22-9)  10 PM


Florida, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt are definitely in.  Tennessee is probably in and would only be out if a lot of surprise winners win the remaining conference tournaments.  The Vols would safely secure a spot with a win over the Gators. 


The big game in all of college basketball today is the Georgia-Alabama game.  Call this an extra play-in game.  The winner survives to the Dance, while the loser will be hosting an NIT game next week.


Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Semifinal Round

#1 McNeese State  91  #4 Texas State  83

#7 UT-San Antonio  79  #3 Sam Houston State 70


Championship Game on Saturday


S W A C—Garland, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Alabama State  81  #5 Alabama A&M 61

#6 Grambling  65  #3 Mississippi Valley  62


Semifinal Round

#2 Jackson State (17-14)  vs. #6 Grambling (11-20)  3:30 PM

#1 Texas Southern (19-11)  vs. #4 Alabama State (15-17)  9 PM


The Champion will probably be forced to play in the First Four.  Jackson State is on a mission after losing in the first round last year as the number one seed.


W A C—Las Vegas

Quarterfinal Round

#8 San Jose State  74  #4 Idaho 68

#3 New Mexico State  66  #6 Nevada  60


Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State (28-3)  vs. #8 San Jose State (17-14)  9 PM

#2 Boise State (19-11)  vs. #3 New Mexico State (16-16)  11:30 PM  ESPN2


Utah State is in and should be the higher seed in their first round game.  If the Aggies are upset, then one more bubble will burst.  The one WAC team that beat USU (Idaho) was knocked out of the conference tournament yesterday.

March 10, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 10 Update

Two Newest Dance Participants


Northeast Conference Championship

Long Island  85  Robert Morris  82 ot


In what may have been the most exciting championship game of the season, the home-standing Blackbirds and visiting Colonials exchanged leads all night.  Two missed three-point shots in the final seconds, one at the buzzer, was all that prevented this game from going to double overtime.


LIU opened with a cold shooting hand, and RMU took the lead.  Once the Blackbirds started hitting their shots, this became a game of runs.  LIU had the hot hand in the second half, but RMU kept getting enough offensive rebounds to keep the Colonials in the game.


Jamal Olasewere had a game-high 31 points to go with 11 rebounds; he scored seven points in the overtime.  Team leader Julian Boyd was held to just seven points, but the Blackbirds had excellent showings off the bench.  Jason Brickman tossed in 15 points and dished out eight big assists, while Kenny Onyechi added 13 points.


Russell Johnson and Velton Jones teamed up for 42 points for the losers.


LIU will be a formidable opponent for their favored foe in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Their style of play could cause severe matchup problems for a bigger, slower team, especially if that team is not the strongest ball-handling team.  If they were to be bracketed against BYU in the first round, it would be the thriller of the first round. 


Big Sky Conference Championship

Northern Colorado  65  Montana  60


This game was anticlimactic following the NEC Championship.  Montana kept the pace slow, and the Grizzlies shot out to a 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes.  UNC made a run to take its first lead at 17-16 on a three-point shot by Tate Unruh.


The lead switched hands several times the remainder of the half with the buzzer sending the teams to the locker tied at 31-31.


Montana maintained a small lead for most of the second half, until star guard Devon Beitzel took over.  His three-pointer at the 4:56 mark gave the Bears the lead for good.  Beitzel continued shooting and then forced Montana to foul him, and the Bears hung on to win.


Beitzel did not score until late in the first half, but the Big Sky Conference’s leading scorer finished with 27 points.


Montana center Brian Qvale hit a layup with 16 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 62-60, but following two made Beitzel free throws, Art Steward committed a turnover to seal the game. 


Steward led the Grizzlies with 16 points, while Qvale added 11.


Northern Colorado will be one of those teams that will be glad just to be there at the NCAA Tournament.  The Bears should make a quick exit in game one, unless they are chosen as one of the First Four #16 seeds.


13 Automatic Qualifiers To Date

Team Conference Record
Arkansas-Little Rock Sunbelt 19-16
Belmont Atlantic South 30-4
Butler Horizon 23-9
Gonzaga West Coast 24-9
Indiana State Missouri Valley 20-13
Long Island Northeast 27-4
Morehead State Ohio Valley 24-9
Northern Colorado Big Sky 21-10
Oakland Summit 25-9
Old Dominion Colonial 27-6
St. Peter’s Metro Atlantic 20-13
UNC-Asheville Big South 19-13
Wofford Southern 21-12


No Championship Games Are Scheduled For Thursday


Wednesday’s Results/Thursday’s Schedule

All Times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

1st Round

#8 Virginia (16-14)  vs. #9 Miami (Fla) (18-13)  12 Noon

#5 Boston College (19-11)  vs. #12 Wake Forest (8-23)  Approx. 2:15 PM

#7 Maryland (18-13)  vs. #10 North Carolina State (15-15)  7 PM  ESPN2

#6 Virginia Tech (19-10)  vs. #11 Georgia Tech (13-17)  Approx. 9:15 PM


Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

1st Round

#9 Oklahoma State  53  #8 Nebraska  52

#5 Colorado  77  #12 Iowa State  75

#10 Oklahoma  84  #7 Baylor  67

#6 Missouri  88  #11 Texas Tech  84


Quarterfinal Round

#9 Oklahoma State (19-12)  vs. #1 Kansas (29-2)  12:30 PM on ESPN2

#5 Colorado (20-12)  vs. #4 Kansas State (22-9)  3PM

#10 Oklahoma (14-17) vs. #2 Texas (25-6)  7 PM

#6 Missouri (23-9) vs. #3 Texas A&M (23-7)  9:30 PM


Big East Conference—New York City

2nd Round

#9 Connecticut  79  #8 Georgetown 62

#5 St. John’s  65  #13 Rutgers 63

#7 Cincinnati  87  #15 South Florida 61

#11 Marquette  67  #6 West Virginia  61


Quarterfinal Round

#9 Connecticut (23-9)  vs. #1 Pittsburgh (27-4)  12 Noon  ESPN

#5 St. John’s (21-10)  vs. #4 Syracuse (25-6)  Approx. 2:15 PM  ESPN

#7 Cincinnati (25-7)  vs. #2 Notre Dame (25-5)  7 PM  ESPN

#11 Marquette (20-13)  vs. #3 Louisville (23-8)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN


Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

1st Round

#8 Northwestern (17-12)  vs. #9 Minnesota (17-13)  2:30 PM  ESPN2

#7 Michigan State (17-13)  vs. #10 Iowa (11-19)  4:50 PM  ESPN2

#6 Penn State (16-13)  vs. #11 Indiana (12-19)  7:30 PM  Big Ten Network


Big West Conference—Anaheim

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Long Beach State (20-10)  vs. #8 UC-Irvine (13-18)  3 PM

#4 Pacific (16-14)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (15-13)  5:20 PM

#2 Cal Poly (15-14)  vs. #7 UC-Riverside (11-18)  9 PM

#3 Cal State Northridge (13-17)  vs. #6 Cal State Fullerton (11-19)  11:20 PM


Conference USA—El Paso, TX

1st Round

#8 East Carolina  78  #9 Central Florida  60

#5 Southern Miss.  63  #12 Tulane  47

#6 Marshall  97  #11 Houston  87

#10 Rice  58  #7 S M U  57


Quarterfinal Round

#8 East Carolina (17-14)  vs. #1 U A B  (22-7)  1PM  CBSC

#5 Southern Miss (22-9)  vs. #4 Memphis (22-9)  3:30 PM  CBSC

#6 Marshall (22-10)  vs. #3 U T E P  (23-8)  7:30 PM  CBSC

#10 Rice (14-17)  vs. #2 Tulsa (18-12)  10 PM  CBSC


M A C—Cleveland

Quarterfinal Round

#7 Bowling Green (14-18)  vs. #2 Western Michigan (19-11)  12 Noon

#6 Akron (20-12)  vs. #3 Miami (O) (16-15)  2:30 PM

#8 Buffalo (18-12)  vs. #1 Kent State (21-10)  7 PM

#5 Ohio U (18-14)  vs. #4 Ball State (18-12)  9:30 PM


M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Note: The MEAC has a unique scheduling format which rewards its top three seeds.  Thus, yesterday, there were both first round and quarterfinal round games scheduled.  The quarterfinal round concludes today.


1st Round

#6 Norfolk State  68  #11 Howard 53


Quarterfinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman  66  #9 South Carolina State 50

#2 Hampton  77  #10 Maryland-Eastern Shore  55


Quarterfinal Round Continues

#4 Morgan State (15-13)  vs. #5 North Carolina A&T (15-16)  8 PM

#3 Coppin State (16-13)  vs. #6 Norfolk State (11-19)  7 PM


Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

1st Round

#9 T C U  70  #8 Wyoming  61


Quarterfinal Round

#9 T C U (11-21)  vs. #1 Brigham Young (28-3)  3 PM

#5 New Mexico (20-11)  vs. #4 Colorado State (19-11)  5:30 PM

#7 Utah (13-17)  vs. #2 San Diego State (29-2)  9 PM

#6 Air Force (15-14)  vs. #3 U N L V  (23-7)  11:30 PM


Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

1st Round

#9 Oregon State 69  #8 Stanford 67

#7 Oregon 76  #10 Arizona State 69


Quarterfinal Round

#4 Southern Cal (18-13)  vs. #5 California (17-13)  3 PM  Fox Sports

#1 Arizona (25-6)  vs. #9 Oregon State (11-19)  5:30 PM  Fox Sports

#2 U C L A  (22-9)  vs. #7 Oregon (15-16)  9 PM  Fox Sports

#3 Washington (20-10)  vs. #6 Washington State (19-11)  11:30 PM  Fox Sports


Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

1st Round

#4E  Georgia (20-10)  vs. #5W  Auburn (11-19)  1 PM

#3W  Ole Miss (19-12)  vs. #6E  South Carolina (14-15)  3:30 PM

#4W  Arkansas (18-12)  vs. #5E  Tennessee (18-13)  7:30 PM

#3W  Vanderbilt (21-9)  vs. #6E L S U  (11-20)  10 PM


Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#1 McNeese State 61  #8 Nicholls State 54

#4 Texas State 72  #5 Southeastern Louisiana 68

#7 Texas-San Antonio 97  #2 Northwestern State (LA) 96

#3 Sam Houston State 61  #6 Stephen F. Austin 45


Semifinal Round

#3 Sam Houston State (18-12)  vs. #7 Texas-San Antonio (17-13)  7 PM

#1 McNeese State (20-10)  vs. #4 Texas State (16-15)  9:30 PM


S W A C–Garland, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Texas Southern 50  #8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 45

#2 Jackson State 50  #7 Prairie View 38


Quarterfinal Round Continues

#3 Mississippi Valley (13-18)  vs. #6 Grambling (10-20)  12:30 PM

#4 Alabama State (14-17)  vs. #5 Alabama A&M (13-14) 9 PM


W A C—Las Vegas

1st Round

#8 San Jose State 75  #5 Hawaii 74

#6 Nevada 90  #7 Fresno State 80


2nd Round

#4 Idaho (18-12)  vs. #8 San Jose State (16-14)  3 PM  ESPNU

#3 New Mexico State (15-16)  vs. #6 Nevada (13-18)  5:30 PM  ESPNU

March 9, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 9 Update

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

Three More Tickets Punched

Horizon League Championship

Butler 59  Milwaukee 44

 The Bulldogs held Milwaukee to 30% shooting from the field, and Matt Howard connected on seven of nine shots to pace Butler with 18 points, as the defending National Final runner-up earned another spot in the Big Dance.

 Summit League Championship

Oakland 90  Oral Roberts 76 

The Golden Grizzlies displayed a great offensive show with the aid of numerous first half steals by Drew Valentine and Reggie Hamilton to build a double-digit lead by the break.  After withstanding an early second half run by the Golden Eagles, Oakland pulled away to win the automatic bid.  

Keith Benson topped Oakland with 28 points and 14 rebounds.  Hamilton added 25 with six assists, while Will Hudson recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.


Sunbelt Conference Championship

U A L R  64  North Texas  63 

The Trojans won their first Sunbelt Championship and earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1990.


SBC Player of the Year Solomon Bozeman drove from the backcourt to the left side of the top of the key and drained a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to give UALR the decisive points.  Bozeman scored a game-high 20 points. 

North Texas had led by seven points with less than two minutes to go, but the Mean Green wilted under the Trojan pressure defense.  With one last chance to try to win, UNT committed a turnover on the inbounds pass. 

11 Automatic Qualifiers To Date

Team Conference Record
Arkansas-Little Rock Sunbelt  19-16
Belmont  Atlantic South 30-4
Butler  Horizon 23-9
Gonzaga West Coast 24-9
Indiana State  Missouri Valley  20-13
Morehead State  Ohio Valley  24-9
Oakland  Summit  25-9
Old Dominion Colonial 27-6
St. Peter’s Metro Atlantic 20-13
UNC-Asheville Big South 19-13
Wofford Southern 21-12


Two Tickets To Be Punched Tonight

Big Sky Tournament Championship @ 9PM ET On ESPN2

#2 Montana (21-9) at #1 Northern Colorado (20-10)


Semifinal Round

Montana 57  Weber State 40

Northern Colorado 73  Northern Arizona 70


These two split their regular season series with Northern Colorado winning 63-45 in Greeley, and Montana winning 55-42 in Missoula.  Tonight’s game will be played at Butler-Hancock Hall in Greeley, so Northern Colorado will enjoy the home court advantage. 

This game is a great study in contrasts.  Northern Colorado is a quicker team, but Montana is a stronger team.  Northern Colorado has one exceptionally dominant player, while Montana has more, albeit less exceptional, weapons.


The Bears’ offense runs through 6-1 senior guard Devon Beitzel.  Beitzel averages a league-best 21 points per game, and he is deadly at the free throw line, where he connects on 91% of his tosses. 

The rest of the team collectively shoots under 41% from the field and commits more turnovers than assists, so if the Grizzlies can stop Beitzel, or at least limit his touches, they have a chance of defending their crown.


Montana has the dominant big man in the conference in 6-11/260 senior center Brian Qvale.  If the Grizzlies can keep this game a half-court affair, they stand a great chance of winning with Qvale plugging the middle on defense and controlling the boards at both ends of the court.  Qvale averages 15 points and nine boards a game, and he had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds in the semifinal round.  Montana likes to limit possessions, so those numbers are even more impressive than they look. 

In the win over UNC, Montana held the Bears to 23.3% shooting, while they shot just 32.6% in the loss at Greeley.


It is our opinion that the visiting number two seed will pull off the mild upset over the host numbone seed, but it is not a strong feeling. 

 Northeast Conference Tournament Championship @ 7PM ET On ESPN2

#3 Robert Morris (18-13) at #1 Long Island (26-5)

Semifinal Round

Long Island 69  Central Connecticut 67

Robert Morris 64  Quinnipiac 62

Brooklyn has not been this excited over one of their own sports teams since the Dodgers won the 1955 World Series.  Long Island is one of the most exciting teams in the nation, and their 26-5 record has throngs of Brooklynites cramming into the Wellness, Recreation, and Athletic Center.  The WRAC holds just 2,500 seats, but you can bet that more than that amount will find their way into the game tonight, as they “Pack the WRAC.” 

Those fans will be converging to the corner of Ashland and Dekalb tonight, dressed in all white, to watch what could be a blowout win for their team.   

LIU is on a roll.  The Blackbirds have won 12 games in a row (longest current streak in the nation) and 20 of their previous 21 games.  They average almost 83 points per game.  The Blackbirds have exceptional depth with eight players capable of scoring 15 or more points. 


The Blackbirds pose difficult matchups with their roster, as they rely on quick guards and medium-sized forwards with great leaping ability to play at a fast pace.  There is no center on the roster, but the two 6-7 forwards have controlled the boards in most games this year. 

Those forwards are Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere, who team up for 25.4 points and 15.7 rebounds per game.

 5-10 backup guard Jason Brickman plays just 22 minutes per game, but he leads the team with 5.3 assists per game.  When he comes in the game, the pace picks up, and the Blackbirds shoot a lot of threes in transition.


Robert Morris is definitely not cannon fodder.  The Colonials are the two-time defending NEC Tournament champions, and they believe they can three peat even on the road in hostile conditions. 

The Colonials have won eight games in a row, relying on a stellar defense that limits possessions and pressures the guards.  They are missing their leading scorer, as 5-9 guard Karon Abraham’s season ended two weeks ago with a torn Achilles Tendon.  On the positive side, Abraham missed RMU’s win at LIU on December 2, as he was serving a multi-game suspension. 

Velton Jones and Russell Johnson will have to shine tonight for the Colonials to pull off the upset.  The duo are the only double figure scorers left, but both shoot less than 39% from the field. 

Without Abraham, RMU shoots just 33.7% from behind the arc, so the only way they can possibly win tonight is to replicate the formula that was successful more than three months ago—control the tempo and prevent LIU from getting off any uncontested three-pointers. 

We believe this game will begin slowly with RMU taking the lead in the early stages.  Somewhere in the first half, LIU will go on one of their patented runs and gain the lead.  Then, a second spurt will give them a commanding lead.  RMU might cut into that lead, but we believe in the end, the Blackbirds will be celebrating at the WRAC.  We do not believe the Brooklynites will be crying “Wait ‘Til Next Year.”  This will be like October of 1955 in the borough.


Yesterday’s Other Tournament Results

Atlantic 10 Conference

First Round

LaSalle 75  St. Bonaventure 73  2ot

St. Joseph’s 71  George Washington 59  ot

Rhode Island 70  St. Louis 61

Dayton 78  U Mass 50


Big East Conference

First Round

Connecticut 97  DePaul 71

Rutgers 76  Seton Hall 70 ot

South Florida 70  Villanova 69

Marquette 87  Providence 66 


First Round

Bowling Green 74  Northern Illinois 54

Ohio U 74  Toledo 57

Akron 67  Eastern Michigan 53

Buffalo 64  Central Michigan 50



First Round

MD-Eastern Shore 87  F A M U 85  2ot

S. C. State 64  Delaware State 59 

Ivy League Playoff Set

Princeton defeated rival Penn 70-58 last night in Philadelphia, forcing a one-game playoff for the Ivy League’s automatic berth.  Princeton (24-6) will take on co-champion Harvard (23-5) Saturday afternoon at 4PM Eastern Time.  The game will be played at Yale University in New Haven, CT, and it can be seen live on

Princeton has appeared in all seven Ivy League tiebreaking playoff games in the history of the league.  This is Harvard’s first Ivy League basketball championship of any kind.  The Crimson last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 1946. 

There is a chance that the loser of this game could hold a slim chance of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Harvard is ranked #35 in the RPI, while Princeton is ranked #49.  Harvard has two wins over top 50 teams as well as three losses.  Their biggest win was at Boston College.  Princeton has just one win against the top 50 and two losses.  For the Ivy to earn two bids, the Tigers have to win Saturday and hope Harvard’s high RPI is enough to earn the second bid. 

Conference Tournaments In Action Today

Big 12 Conference

Tournament Site: Kansas City

1st Round Games

#8 Nebraska (19-11) vs. #9 Oklahoma State (18-12)  12:30 PM ET

#5 Colorado (19-12) vs. #12 Iowa State (16-15)  3 PM ET

#7 Baylor (18-12) vs. #10 Oklahoma (13-17)  7PM ET

#6 Missouri (22-9) vs. #11 Texas Tech (13-18) 9:30 PM ET 

Big East Conference

Tournament Site: New York City

2nd Round Games

#8 Georgetown (21-9) vs. #9 Connecticut (22-9)  12 Noon ET on ESPN

#5 St. John’s (20-10) vs. #13 Rutgers (15-16)  Approx. 2:15 PM ET on ESPN

#7 Cincinnati (24-7) vs. #15 South Florida (10-22)  7 PM ET on ESPN

#6 West Virginia (20-10) vs. #11 Marquette (19-13)  Approx. 9:15 PM ET on ESPN 

Conference USA

Tournament Site: El Paso, TX

1st Round Games

#8 East Carolina (16-14) vs. #9 Central Florida (19-10)  1 PM ET

#5 Southern Miss (21-9) vs. #12 Tulane (13-16)  3:30 PM ET

#6 Marshall (21-10) vs. #11 Houston (12-17)  7:30 PM ET

#7 S M U (17-13) vs. #10 Rice (13-17)  10 PM ET 


Tournament Site: Winston-Salem, NC

Note: The MEAC has a unique way of scheduling their tournament.  As a result, one first round game will be played today as well as two quarterfinal round games.  The other two quarterfinal round games will be played Thursday. 

1st Round

#6 Norfolk State () vs. #11 Howard ()  3 PM ET

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman (20-11) vs. #9 South Carolina State (10-21)  7 PM ET

#2 Hampton (21-8) vs. #10 Maryland-Eastern Shore (9-21)  9:30 PM ET 

Mountain West Conference

Tournament Site: Las Vegas

1st Round

#8 Wyoming (10-20) vs. #9 T C U (10-21)  5 PM ET 

Pac-10 Conference

Tournament Site: Los Angeles

1st Round

#8 Stanford (15-15) vs. #9 Oregon State (10-19)  9 PM ET on Fox Sports Net

#7 Oregon (14-16) vs. #10 Arizona State (12-18)  11:30 PM ET on Fox Sports Net 

Southland Conference

Tournament Site: Katy, TX (Houston Area)

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Northwestern State (LA) (18-13) vs. #7 Texas-San Antonio (16-13)  1 PM ET

#3 Sam Houston (17-12) vs. #6 Stephen F. Austin (18-10)  3:30 PM ET

#1 McNeese State (19-10) vs. #8 Nicholls State (14-13)  7 PM ET

#4 Texas State (15-15) vs. #5 Southeastern Louisiana (15-13)  9:30 PM ET 


Tournament Site: Garland, TX (Dallas-Ft. Worth Area) 

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Jackson State (16-14) vs. #7 Prairie View (10-21)  12:30 PM ET

#1 Texas Southern (18-11) vs. #8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (7-23)  9 PM ET


Tournament Site: Las Vegas

1st Round

#5 Hawaii (18-11) vs. #8 San Jose State (15-14)  3 PM ET

#6 Nevada (12-18) vs. #7 Fresno State (14-16)  5:30 PM ET

March 8, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 8 Update


The Four Newest Dance Invitees

Did you see those conference championship games last night?  Was this the Monday Night Fights or basketball?  There were more cut men and cut women than in your average boxing card.


When it is all or nothing for these smaller conferences, you get what we saw last night—teams playing like their lives were on the line.


Colonial Athletic Association

Old Dominion 70

Virginia Commonwealth 65


Old Dominion 27-6


The Monarchs are capable of making a semi-surprise run in the Big Dance.  They lead the nation in rebounding margin, and they can score points in the paint. 


Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

St. Peter’s 62

Iona 57


St. Peter’s 20-13


The Peacocks beat Alabama earlier in the season, and their defense could keep them within striking defense in an opening round game, but we cannot see SPC advancing to the second round.


Southern Conference

Wofford 77

College of Charleston 67


Wofford 21-12


The Terriers finally beat the Cougars (we predicted this yesterday), and they will not roll over and play dead in the first round.  This team returns to the Dance for the second consecutive season, and they will not back down.  They may not advance, but they will not be in awe of their heavily favored first round opponent.


West Coast Conference

Gonzaga 75

Saint Mary’s 63


Gonzaga 24-9


This edition of Zags may not be the most talented in the Coach Mark Few era, but they are playing their best ball at the right time.  It will depend on their bracket, but this team has Sweet 16 potential.


Three More Invitations Go Out Tonight

By 11:15 PM Eastern Time tonight, we will know the names of three more NCAA Tournament participants.  Let’s break down these games.


Horizon League Championship @ 9PM ET on ESPN

Butler (22-9)  at  Milwaukee (19-12)


Butler defeated Cleveland State in the semifinal round Saturday evening, while Milwaukee topped Valparaiso.  During the regular season, Milwaukee swept the Bulldogs, winning 76-52 at home and 86-80 in overtime on the road.  The top-seeded Panthers host this game.


Both teams are red hot coming into this title match.  Milwaukee has gone 10-1 in their last 11 games, and the only loss was in the Bracketbuster to Buffalo.  Their defense is what got them here, as they shoot only 43% from the field and 65% at the foul line.


Three Panthers average double figures in scoring, led by Anthony Hill.  Hill averages just under 16 points per game, but he broke out with a 24-point, 11-rebound performance in the semifinal game against Valpo.  Kaylon Williams is the X-factor for Panthers.  He can score when needed, rebound with the big men, and run the offense.  He recorded a triple-double earlier in the season against Butler (10 points-10 rebounds-10 assists), and he added a double-double in the second win over the Bulldogs.


Butler missed Gordon Hayward even more than most experts predicted.  The Bulldogs played a tough pre-conference schedule and limped into February.  With their backs against the wall, they reeled off eight consecutive victories to get to the title game tonight.


Most basketball fans know Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack from last year’s team that made the surprise run to the National Championship Game.  The duo has teamed for 32 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this year.  However, it has been the emergence of 6-11 sophomore center Andrew Smith that has allowed Butler to turn things around and look like a force to be reckoned with once again.  Smith averaged 11 points per game over the second half of the season.  In the eight game winning streak, he has averaged 32 minutes per game and pulled down close to eight rebounds per game.  His 63% field goal percentage has forced defenses to stop him first, giving Howard and Mack more room to get open.  Smith was a non-factor in the two games against Milwaukee, and he is the key to tonight’s game.  If he plays 32 minutes and gets double figure points and eight rebounds, Butler will be cutting down the nets yet again.


Summit League Championship @ 9PM ET on ESPN2

Site: Sioux Falls, SD

Oakland (24-9)  vs. Oral Roberts (19-14)


If you like high-scoring, fast-paced games, you will definitely clear your schedule to view this one.  Oakland is the second best offensive team in the nation, averaging 86 points per game (92 ppg in their last 10 games).  The Grizzlies connect on close to 50% of their field goal attempts, and they tend to hit spurts where they score 10 points in two minutes.  Oral Roberts averages 81 points per game and has no qualms running with Oakland.


Both teams are riding major winning streaks entering tonight’s title game.  Oakland has won 17 of their last 18 games, while the Golden Eagles have won 10 in a row.  In the regular season, Oakland won both high-scoring games, but both were nail-biters that went down to the wire. 


Oakland has a tall and short combination that has done a lot of the damage on opponents.  6-11 center Keith Benson is the best player in the league.  Benson averages 17.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.  He showed he can do it against the big schools, as he had 17 points and 12 rebounds in a close loss to Michigan State and 26 points and 10 rebounds in a big win at Tennessee. 


5-11 guard Reggie Hamilton is a threat to top 20 points any night.  He is quick and can get open without help from screens.


Oral Roberts has a star in its own right.  Dominique Morrison averages just under 20 points per game, and he doesn’t need to heave up 25 shots per game to get those points.  Morrison shoots 51.3% from the field, 40% from behind the three-point line, and 78.4% at the foul line.  He scored 56 points in the two games against Oakland.


This should be a great game, and we don’t believe Oakland is that much of a favorite.  ORU has been to the Big Dance four times in the last six years, while Oakland is the defending tournament champion.  We expect the winner to top 90 points in this game, and it is too close to call.  We say Oakland has about a 54% chance and Oral Roberts a 46% chance of winning.


Sunbelt Conference Championship @ 7PM ET on ESPN2

Site: Hot Springs, AR


North Texas (22-10)  vs. U A L R (18-16)


On paper this looks like a mismatch, even though the teams finished one game apart in the regular season.  North Texas finished fourth in the West with an 8-8 league mark, while Little Rock finished fifth at 7-9.


North Texas was one of the biggest underachievers this season.  The Mean Green returned four starters from their 2010 conference champion team and were expected to win again this year with the best backcourt and one of the best frontcourts in the league.  Instead, a 3-9 swoon in the middle of the season placed them out of contention for the West crown.  Since that awful slide, UNT has recovered with five consecutive victories.


6-5 senior guard Tristan Thompson has led the way for the Mean Green in the tournament, scoring 80 points in the first three games.  He has done a lot of the damage at the foul line, where he is 31-35 in Hot Springs, including an unbelievable 20-20 performance in the win over top-seed Florida Atlantic.  Thompson combines a quick move to the basket with a sweet shot from outside.  Beefy forward George Odufuwa averages 11 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and UALR has a tough matchup problem against him.


The Trojans dropped both regular season games to North Texas, mostly because they could not compete under the basket.  Their chance to win this game will come down to limiting possessions and trying to win 55-50.  They have won three games in the tournament by getting to the foul line and hitting foul shots, while using the clock and taking 30 seconds to shoot on most possessions.  UALR’s big star in this tournament has been senior guard Solomon Bozeman.  Like Thompson, Bozeman has gotten to the free throw line and made the most of his opportunities.  He has connected on 37 of 42 attempts including an eye-popping 19 of 22 against Middle Tennessee last night.


We expect a low-possession, low-scoring game.  There may be fewer than 100 field goal attempts tonight.  North Texas has been there before, while UALR has never won the Sunbelt Conference Tournament.  We think that trend will continue, but it wouldn’t surprise us if this game stays relatively close for the entire 40 minutes.  We could see North Texas winning 60-54.


The Other Tournaments In Action Today


Atlantic 10 Conference

First Round At Higher Seed Home Court


#9 Dayton (19-12) at #8 U Mass (15-14)  9PM ET on CBSC

#12 St. Joseph’s (9-21) at #5 George Washington (17-13)  7PM ET on CBSC

#10 LaSalle (14-17) at #7 St. Bonaventure (16-13)  5 PM ET on CBSC

#11 St. Louis (12-18) at #6 Rhode Island (18-12)  7 PM ET no TV


Big East Conference

Madison Square Garden in New York City


#16 Depaul (7-23) vs. #9 Georgetown (21-9) 12 Noon ET on ESPN2

#13 Rutgers (14-16) vs. #12 Seton Hall (13-17) Approx. 2:15 PM ET on ESPN2

#15 South Florida (9-22) vs. #10 Villanova (21-10) 7PM ET on ESPNU

#14 Providence (15-16) vs. #11 Marquette (18-13) Approx 9:15 ET on ESPNU


Big Sky Conference

Semifinal Round At Higher Seed Home Court

#3 Weber State (18-11) at #2 Montana (20-9)

#4 Northern Arizona (19-11) at #1 Northern Colorado (19-10)


Mid-American Conference

1st Round At Higher Seed Home Court  All Games At 7PM ET


#10 Northern Illinois (9-20) at #7 Bowling Green (13-18)

#11 Eastern Michigan (9-21) at #6 Akron (19-12)

#9 Central Michigan (10-20) at #8 Buffalo (17-12)

#12 Toledo (4-27) at #5 Ohio U (17-14)


Mideastern Athletic Conference

Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC


#9 South Carolina State (9-21) vs. #8 Delaware State (9-20)  9PM ET

#10 Maryland-Eastern Shore (8-21) vs. #7 Florida A&M (12-19)  6:30 PM ET


Note: One more 1st round game Wednesday plus two quarterfinal games



August 11, 2010

2010 Mid-American Conference Preview

2010 Mid-American Conference Preview


After placing five teams in bowl games a year ago, the MAC is now guaranteed three teams in bowl games this season with a chance for a fourth and fifth team garnering an at-large bid.  It is our opinion that this league will produce five bowl-worthy teams this year, so don’t count out the chance of a repeat. 

The champion this year will face the number eight team from the Big Ten in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl in Detroit.  The GMAC Bowl in Mobile gets second choice, and the Humanitarian Bowl at the blue field in Boise gets the third selection.  The PapaJohn’ Bowl will give precedence to a fourth bowl-eligible MAC team if they have an opening, and the inaugural Dallas Football Classic will look to the MAC after first looking to CUSA to find an at-large team.

This should be an interesting year in the league, as many teams go through a transition.  There are new coaches at Buffalo, Central Michigan, and Akron, and there are six new starting quarterbacks.  In the East, Temple looks to be the clear-cut favorite, but Ohio U has enough talent returning to repeat as division champs.  Kent State has just one bowl bid in its history, and that was in 1972 when Coach Don James led the Golden Flashes prior to earning legendary status at Washington.  That 38 year absence from post-season play could finally come to an end this year.

In the West, a tight race between Northern Illinois and Western Michigan could get even tighter if Central Michigan, Ball State, and Toledo can find answers at certain iffy positions.

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.

Mid-American Conference Predictions

Pos Team Conf Overall  
1 Temple 7-1 10-3  
2 Ohio U 6-2 8-4  
3 Kent State 6-2 8-4  
4 Miami (Ohio) 3-5 4-8  
5 Buffalo 2-6 3-9  
6 Akron 2-6 3-9  
7 Bowling Green 2-6 2-10  
1 Northern Illinois 8-0 9-4  
2 Western Michigan 6-2 8-4  
3 Central Michigan 4-4 5-7  
4 Toledo 3-5 3-9  
5 Ball State 2-6 4-8  
6 Eastern Michigan 1-7 1-11  



MAC Conference Championship Game: Temple over Northern Illinois


Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl: Temple

G M A C Bowl: Northern Illinois

Humanitarian Bowl: Ohio U


Western Michigan and Kent State could be at-large bowl teams



Team By Team Breakdown

MAC East


Team Akron Zips
Head Coach Rob Ianello
Colors Blue and Gold
City Akron, OH
2009 Record              
Conference 2-6
Overall 3-9
PiRate Rating 77.9
National Rating 113
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 3-9


Offense: New head coach Rob Ianello comes over from Notre Dame where he was an offensive assistant to Charlie Weis.  He will make numerous changes in the offensive philosophy as the Zips were zipless last year on this side of the ball.

Quarterback Patrick Nicely started seven games as a true freshman last year.  However, even though he has more experience this year, his receiving corps has been decimated to graduation.  Only one contributor from last year returns, and Ianello has moved former defensive back Jalil Carter over to this side of the ball.

None of the running backs on the roster strike fear in the eyes of the opponents.  Only one back topped 200 yards rushing last year, and he graduated. 

The one bright spot on this side of the ball is a rather experienced offensive line with credible talent at the terminal positions.

We look for Akron’s new offense to go through some growing pains at first, but by October, the Zips should be moving the ball with more zip.  Call it about 18-22 points and 325-350 yards per game.

Defense: The stop side would have held opponents under 25 points per game last year if it hadn’t been for an offense that turned the ball over too often.  The Zips could field a better defense this year, especially in the points allowed department.

Ianello will install a 4-3 defense, and he has three quality defenders returning up front.  Hasan Hazime, James Harvey, and Almondo Sewell combined for 17 tackles for loss, and that number should head north of 20 this year.

The three-man linebacker crew returns starters in Sean Fobbs, Brian Wagner, and Mike Thomas.  Wagner was the leading tackler in the league with 132 stops and 7 behind the line.  Thomas is a better zone pass defender than run-stopper, while Fobbs’ strength is against the run.

The secondary is the vulnerable part of the defense.  The loss of Miguel Graham is too much for the backfield to make up for, and Akron will give up more than 200 yards per game through the air.

Look for the Zips to yield about 25-30 points per game while giving up about 350-375 yards per game.

Schedule: Akron has one easy mark on their non-conference schedule in Gardner-Webb.  The Zips open against a Syracuse team eager to show the nation they can compete for a bowl bid.  Back-to-back road games against Kentucky and Indiana close out what should be a rough September.  Look for Akron to go 1-3 outside of league play and then struggle to pick up two more victories.


Team Bowling Green Falcons
Head Coach Dave Clawson
Colors Orange and Brown
City Bowling Green, OH
2009 Record              
Conference 6-2
Overall 7-6
PiRate Rating 78.0
National Rating 112
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 2-10


Offense: Dave Clawson implemented one of the top passing games in the country in his first year with the Falcons, but year two finds him having to rebuild from scratch.  Gone is superb passer Tyler Sheehan who completed 65% of his passes for more than 4,000 yards and a TD/Int ratio of 27/7.

Redshirt freshman Matt Schilz and true sophomore Aaron Pankratz will compete to fill Sheehan’s shoes.  Look for a major drop in passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage this year, and a rise in interceptions.

BGU lost its top two receivers, including Freddie Barnes (155-1,770 & 19 TD).  Nobody on this roster is capable of catching a dozen balls per game, and nobody has the blazing speed to turn a five-yard pass into a 40-yard gain.

The Falcons averaged just 87 rushing yards per game last year, but that number is a bit misleading.  In college football, sacks are ridiculously counted as rushing yards.  Factoring out sacks, BGU went from averaging 3.1 yards per carry to a more respectable 3.9.  Willie Geter could actually threaten the 1,000 yard rushing mark if he can get any help from his blockers.

BGU could drop by a touchdown or more offensively this year, so we will predict an output of 20-23 points and 325-350 yards per game.

Defense: This side of the ball is in worse shape than the offense.  Gone are the top six tacklers and leading pass defender from last year.  The defensive line appears to be in great shape, but the back seven are in shambles.  End Angelo Magnone and tackle Kevin Alvarado combined for 5 sacks last year.  

The pass defense returns players who combined for just two interceptions.  Cornerback Adrien Spencer and safety Keith Morgan will anchor the back line.  The two teamed up for nine passes deflected.

Bowling Green will give up more than 30 points and 400 yards per game this year, and the Falcons could yield more than 200 rushing and 200 passing yards.

Schedule: This looks like an 0-4 start out of conference.  The Falcons open with road games against Troy and Tulsa.  They then face Marshall at home before going to Ann Arbor to face Michigan.  Without a week off until November, the young squad could be nursing a lot of injuries.  The odd number of teams in the league leads to quirks in the schedule, and the Falcons will not play Akron this year.  They also miss the two easiest teams in the other division, so 2010 will be a long one in Bowling Green.


Team Buffalo Bulls
Head Coach Jeff Quinn
Colors Royal Blue and White
City Buffalo, NY
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 5-7
PiRate Rating 81.6
National Rating 106
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 3-9


Offense: Turner Gill has left Upstate New York for Kansas, and new coach Jeff Quinn inherits enough talent to make the Bulls move on offense.  Quinn was the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati, and he will implement Brian Kelly’s spread offense here.

Unfortunately, Buffalo unexpectedly lost the services of an inexperienced quarterback when Zach Maynard transferred to California.  Lightly used sophomore Jerry Davis and untested redshirt freshman Alex Dennison will compete for the starting job.  Look for some growing pains and the possibility of one or two more players being tried at QB during the season.  Freshman Rudy Johnson is highly heralded.

Inexperience carries over to the receiving corps.  The top three pass catchers from last year are gone, and the leading returnee had just 25 receptions. 

Gill improved the running game every year he was at Buffalo, and he left the stables stocked with two fine runners.  Ike Nduka and Brandon Thermilius shared the load last year and combined for more than 1,150 yards.  They will benefit from the blocking of an experienced offensive line featuring all-MAC guard Peter Bittner.

There will be some transition in the offense this year, and it could lead to a couple of bad performances.  However, by the second half of the season, the Bulls could be a dangerous opponent for the other MAC defenses.  Look for about the same output as last year—24 points and 400 yards, but look for the Bulls to average more than 28 points per game after their bye week in October.

Defense: Quinn will switch the Bulls from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this year, and it should work fine thanks to a great quartet of linebackers.  On the outside, no MAC team can do better than Buffalo with Steven Means and Justin Winters.  Means will be an excellent zone blitzer in the new defense, while Winters forces offenses to run the other way.

Up front, nose tackle Richie Smith has the girth to keep runners from plunging past the line for big gains.  He won’t register many tackles, but he will occupy a lot of space and require double team blocks, which will free up the linebackers to pursue and tackle.

The secondary actually performed better last year than in 2008 when the Bulls won the MAC.  Look for even more improvement with the return of both cornerbacks, including all-conference Domonic Cook, and the league’s best free safety in Davonte Shannon. 

Buffalo has the potential to post better defensive stats this year, and that makes the Bulls a dangerous team in an offensive-dominated league.  We believe the Bulls will surrender about 24 points and 325 yard this season. 

Schedule: An opener at home against Rhode Island should be a breather game.  The rest of the non-league schedule will be the opposite, as Buffalo plays at Baylor, hosts Central Florida, and goes to Connecticut.  At 1-3, the Bulls visit Bowling Green in what will be a tossup game.  If they can win this one, the season could turn around.  If they lose, it could drain the squad.  Buffalo closes with Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and Akron.  If they beat Bowling Green and then upset one other team in October, they could be looking at a .500 record.  We’ll say that the offense will take a little longer to gel, and the Bulls will have to wait until next year.


Team Kent State Golden Flashes
Head Coach Doug Martin
Colors Navy and Gold
City Kent, OH
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 5-7
PiRate Rating 84.5
National Rating 98
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-2
Overall 8-4


Offense: It has been nine years since Kent State last enjoyed a winning season (6-5 in 2001).  The Golden Flashes are excited this year, because they have an offense capable of putting up enough points to end that drought.

Coach Doug Martin has all the pieces in place to make a run at the division title, and if the top two falter, it would not be a big surprise to see KSU in the MAC Championship game.

The return of star running back Eugene Jarvis is worth five to seven extra points per game.  Jarvis missed almost all of last season with a lacerated kidney.  When he last played an entire season, he rushed for 1,669 yards.  He is just 5-5 and 170 pounds, so he is very susceptible to injury.  The Flashes have more than adequate depth at his position.

Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith gave Kent State its best passing game in four years last season, and he should continue to show progress in year two.  He will team up with top receiver Tyshon Goode to form one of the top combinations in the league.  Goode caught 53 passes for 755 yards in 2009.

The offensive line returns some good, young talent and should provide excellent protection for Keith while opening holes for the backs.

Look for Kent State to put up much better offensive numbers this year.  We see something in the order of 24-28 points and 350-375 yards per game.

Defense: Enough talent returns on this side of the ball to believe that the Flashes will perform at a similar or better rate than last year.  In 2009, Kent State gave up just 137 rushing yards per game and held enemy quarterbacks to just 56.7% completions.

The top six tacklers return including the league’s best linebacker.  Former Michigan Wolverine Cobrani Mixon led the Flashes with 108 tackles with 10 ½ behind the line.  He added seven deflected passes from his Mike linebacker spot. 

Hybrid End/Will linebacker Monte Simmons recorded eight sacks and eight other tackles for loss last year, giving Kent State the best linebacker unit in the league.

The defensive backfield is not as strong as the unit in front of them, but it is better than average.  Three starters return, including an outstanding pair of safeties.  Free safety Brian Lainhart led the MAC with seven interceptions.  Strong safety Dan Hartman picked off four passes and broke up nine others, but he is even better in support of the run.

The defensive line is the one weak spot on the entire roster.  If Simmons can have another outstanding year, the inexperience here could be partially hidden.

Kent State could easily lead the MAC in total defense and scoring defense this season.  We believe they will yield less than 20 points and 330 yards per game.

Schedule: The Flashes have one sure win, two sure losses, and one tossup game in their out-of-conference schedule.  An opening tilt with Murray State should be a breather.  Consecutive road games against Boston College and Penn State will not be much fun.  The November 13 home game with Army could be a bowl elimination game for the two teams.  Kent State gets both Temple and Ohio at home, and they have the talent to upset both teams.  Road games against Toledo and Western Michigan could decide in the end if 2010 will be “the year.”


Team Miami (Ohio) Redhawks
Head Coach Mike Haywood
Colors Red and White
City Oxford, OH
2009 Record              
Conference 1-7
Overall 1-11
PiRate Rating 87.8
National Rating 93
2010 Prediction              
Conference 3-5
Overall 4-8


Offense: The good news:  Miami returns 10 starters to its offense.  The bad news: Miami returns 10 starters to an offense that scored just 15.6 points per game, rushed for just 70 yards per game, and turned the ball over via interceptions and fumbles almost as often as it did by punting (an exaggeration, but the Redhawks had a horrible -24 turnover margin last year!)

The rushing statistic looks much worse than it really was.  Miami quarterbacks endured 58 sacks due to a porous offensive line.  That line returns intact, and it has to be somewhat better.  Using an entirely new system hurt, and a year of experience should lead to better blocking this year.  Still, don’t expect Miami to lead the league in offense.

Quarterback Zac Dysert took his lumps as a freshman last year.  If he can cut down on his interceptions, he has the potential to be the best passer in the league.  Give him three more years, and he could surpass Ben Roethlisberger as the school’s top passer.

Dysert has some quality receivers to throw to, but there is no deep threat to spread defenses.  Miami will have to rely on converting first downs and sustaining drives to reach paydirt this year.

It won’t be hard to top last year’s poor offensive showing.  We believe Miami can top 20 points and 350 yards per game this season.

Defense: A better offense that can keep drives alive means a defense can stay on the bench for longer stretches.  Throw in the fact that 10 of the top 11 tacklers return, and Miami should make great strides on this side of the ball as well.

The monster on this side of the ball is middle linebacker Jerrell Wedge.  He was a one-man wrecking crew last year, recording 114 tackles with 18 ½ behind the line of scrimmage.

In front of Wedge is a very experienced defensive line that returns almost all of its two-deep from last year.  Still, it is a line that will not cause many problems for offensive linemen. 

The secondary wasn’t all that bad last year, holding half of their opponents to less than 200 passing yards.  Safety Anthony Kokal finished with 105 tackles, but second year coach Mike Haywood would be much happier if Kokal’s tackles fell into double digits this year.

Look for Miami to improve on this side of the ball as well.  The Redhawks surrendered better than 34 points per game last year, but they only gave up about 375 yards.  Just by cutting down on turnovers, the points allowed will improve.  Throw in an actual better defense, and that number should drop by more than a touchdown.  Call it 24-27 points and 350-370 yards allowed this year.

Schedule: This is a major drawback.  Miami has just one winnable non-conference game.  Road tilts with Florida, Missouri, and Cincinnati could see the Redhawks give up more than 120 points.  A home game with Colorado State should give Miami a better than 50% chance of winning.  The Redhawks get Eastern Michigan at home.  Road games against Bowling Green, Akron, Buffalo, and Central Michigan give them a chance for maybe two more wins.  Four wins would be four times more than last year.


Team Ohio Bobcats
Head Coach Frank Solich
Colors Green and White
City Athens, OH
2009 Record              
Conference 7-1
Overall 9-5
PiRate Rating 84.4
National Rating 99
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-2
Overall 8-4


Offense: Coach Frank Solich’s Bobcats benefited from a +12 turnover margin last season and won the MAC East.  The offense did not strike fear in their opponents, posting averages of 112 rush yards and 198 pass yards per game.

The Bobcats lose their top rusher, top passer, and top pass catcher this year, but the offense could actually improve some.  Solich uses a smorgasbord approach to his offense, using aspects of the spread, the pistol, and the zone read. 

Former Iowa State starter Phil Bates will battle 2008 starter Boo Jackson at quarterback; Bates is an all-out competitor, and we believe he will win the job.  Bates, or Jackson, will have two fine receivers running routes this year in Athens.  LaVon Brazill and Terrence McCrae both have the ability to turn a short pass into a long gain.  Brazill is the speedier of the two, while McCrae is the better target in a crowd.  Former Vanderbilt wide out Steven Goulet gives the Bobcats an excellent third option.

The running game will take a step backward this year.  Junior college transfer Kenny Ashley should be the lead back this year, as there isn’t much quality on the roster. 

The offensive line should be marginally better this year with three starters returning, as well as four from the second team.

We think Ohio will improve its yardage from 310 to about 350 per game, but the Bobcats may not score any more points than they did last year, when they averaged 24.8 per game.

Defense: The Bobcats could have the best defense in the MAC this year after having the second best stop troops last year.  It all starts up front where Ohio has a stellar line returning all four starters from a year ago.  All four can get in the backfield and stop a runner for a loss.  They need to improve their pass rushing ability, as the Bobcats had just 22 sacks all season.

The star of the defense is Mike linebacker Noah Keller, who recorded 155 tackles (23 more than any other MAC player).  Equally adept against the run or the pass, Keller could be the MAC Defensive Player of the Year this season.

The secondary may not dominate, but they won’t be embarrassed all that often.  Strong safety Gerald Moore picked off six passes last year.

Ohio gave up just 21 points per game in 2009, and the Bobcats should equal or even better that mark this year.  They should contend for the best total defense as well and surrender around 300-325 yards per game.

Schedule: Ohio faces Ohio State on September 18.  They won’t pull off the monumental upset, but the Bobcats put a scare in a really good Buckeye team two years ago.  Home games with Wofford and Louisiana-Lafayette should provide the Bobcats with two wins, while a trip to Marshall should be interesting.  Since that comes the week after Ohio State, we will give the edge to the Thundering Herd.  Ohio must play at Temple and Kent State this year, so we believe the road is too tough for the Bobcats to win the division again.  Six conference wins and eight overall should get Ohio back into a bowl game.


Team Temple Owls
Head Coach Al Golden
Colors Cherry and White
City Philadelphia, PA
2009 Record              
Conference 7-1
Overall 9-4
PiRate Rating 91.0
National Rating 85
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-1
Overall 10-3


Offense: When Al Golden took over this Temple team in 2006, the Owls were coming off an 0-11 season in which they scored less than 10 points per game.  His first squad “improved” to 1-11 and scored 11 points per game while actually falling to just 216 yards per game.  The next three years, Temples scoring output increased by six points per season.  Now, coming off a 9-4 campaign that included a bowl loss to UCLA, the Owls are poised to top 30 points per game for the first time since 1979.

Vaughn Charlton began 2009 as the starting quarterback, but Chester Stewart took over in the second half of the season.  Stewart will be number one from the opening snap this year, while Charlton has moved to tight end.  At 6-4, he will provide Stewart with an excellent target in the middle.

Temple didn’t pass the ball all that well last year, so even though the top three receivers return, the trio only combined for 67 receptions and 1,133 yards.  One of those three receivers, James Nixon, moved to defense and will be the best kick returner in the league.

The running game clicked for the Owls last year, and it should continue to work wonders.  Back Bernard Pierce rushed for a league-leading 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, and he should top 1,500 this year if he stays healthy.

The Owls boast the best offensive line in the MAC.  Four starters return to the fold including three who earned all-conference mention.

We look for Temple to score 30-35 points per game while averaging 350-380 total yards.  The rushing total could top 200, while the passing tops 150.  Temple should lead the league in yards per reception as defenses have to cheat up to the line to slow down the running game.

Defense: Like he has with the offense, Golden’s defenses have improved every year from 45 to 41 to 26 to 23 to 22 points allowed.  There is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue this year, as the Owls are loaded on this side of the ball.

The defensive line shares with its offensive counterpart—it is the best in the league hands down.  Tackle Muhammad Wilkerson and end Adrian Robinson teamed up for 20 QB sacks and seven passes batted down.  Robinson is the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year.  Though both juniors, they could easily be playing in the NFL next year.

The second line of defense is only average, and if the Owls do not win the MAC this year, it could be because opponents gain an extra yard or two at opportune moments.  One player who takes a backseat to nobody in the MAC is middle linebacker Elijah Joseph, but the outside spots are question marks.

The secondary is tough.  Two of the three returning starters are All-MAC performers.  Safeties Kevin Kroboth and Jaiquawn Jarrett both knocked down seven passes last year.

Temple could yield as few as 17 points and 300 yards per game in a league noted for high-flying offenses.  If so, look for a very memorable season in Philadelphia.

Schedule: What appears to be a “gimme” win for the Owls may be anything but this year.  Temple opens with cross-town rival Villanova on Friday, September 3.  The Wildcats defeated the Owls last year on their way to a 14-1 season and FCS National Championship.  VU returns 15 starters, so this game will be a hard-fought struggle.  Temple faces Connecticut, Penn State, and Army out of conference, so it could be anything from 2-2 to 0-4 outside of league play.  The Owls host Ohio U, but they must play at Kent State and Northern Illinois.  We don’t see them running the table in the conference, and if Kent State beats them, the Owls may need help from another team to win their first division title.


MAC West


Team Ball State Cardinals
Head Coach Stan Parrish
Colors Red and White
City Muncie, IN
2009 Record              
Conference 2-6
Overall 2-10
PiRate Rating 81.7
National Rating 104
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 4-8


Offense: Head coach Stan Parrish has got to be the most unlucky coach in FBS history.  He has been a head coach at the top level for four seasons spread out over a quarter century, and he has a 4-41-1 record to show for it.  Three of those seasons were at Kansas State from 1986 to 1988, when the Wildcats did not emphasize football.  The fourth season came last year here in Muncie, as Ball State faced a serious rebuilding effort.

Parrish could see his career wins double this season thanks to an offense that returns 10 starters.  Quarterback Kelly Page only had to take over for the school’s top career passer last year and he didn’t have the school’s number two and three career pass catchers; he was not ready for the league rigors as a freshman.  Look for much better production from him this year.

The top nine receivers return this season, led by Briggs Orsborn and Torieal Gibson.  They aren’t an exceptional group overall, but the Cardinals can only improve in this area after averaging a paltry 134 yards through the air in 2009.

The BSU running game is in much better shape with the return of star back Miquale Lewis.  Lewis rushed for more than 1,700 yards in 2008 with a veteran offensive line blocking for him.  Last year, with a very young and inexperienced line, that number dropped to 871.  Look for something in between in his final year here, but that should be enough to make him the school’s all-time leading runner (he needs just 669 yards to do so).

The offensive line returns intact from a year ago after three freshmen and a sophomore started for most of the season.  Look for the line to open up more holes and give Page more time to pass.

Ball State scored 15 fewer points per game last year than in 2008.  Look for the Cardinals to top 20 points per game this year, but they will not approach the great numbers from two years ago.  BSU should average about 320-340 total yards per game.

Defense: The Cardinals fielded a credible defense in 2009 that was just on the field too much.  With a little better offense that can keep possession of the ball a minute or two more per game this year, Ball State should see their stop troops improve substantially.  Whether or not that improvement will be enough to guide the team back to a winning record may be asking too much.

The defense switched to a 4-3 alignment last year, and having an extra year of experience should help improve the numbers.  The strength of this unit is at linebacker, where all three starters return.  Davyd Jones and Travis Freeman led the team in tackles with 100 and 93 respectively, but too many of those stops occurred after sizeable gains by the offense.

The secondary was much too generous last year, giving up 65% completions and 234 yards per game.  Three starters return, plus the Cardinals add former Michigan safety Artis Chambers.  Look for BSU to be a little stingier this year.

Ball State will give up about 24-27 points and 350-375 yards per game.

Schedule: The Cardinals should start 2-0 with home games against Southeast Missouri and Liberty.  When conference play begins three weeks later, BSU will be 2-2 after losing at Purdue and Iowa.  They get Eastern Michigan and Akron at home, so there is a good chance Ball State will at least double its win total from a year ago.


Team Central Michigan Chippewas
Head Coach Dan Enos
Colors Maroon and Gold
City Mt. Pleasant, MI
2009 Record              
Conference 8-0
Overall 12-2
PiRate Rating 88.5
National Rating 92
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 5-7


Offense: New head coach Dan Enos was the running backs coach at Michigan State the last three years.  He helped develop Javon Ringer into an NFL talent.  He better hope that somebody on the CMU roster can resemble Ringer, because the Chippewas have lost the services of the league’s top career passer.  Dan LeFevour is now in training camp with the Chicago Bears.

Ryan Radcliff saw very limited action for CMU last year, and the lightly used sophomore will get first crack at filling the giant shoes of LeFevour.  Radcliff will move under center unlike LeFevour, who operated from a shotgun where he could run and pass.  Look for a severe drop-off in both rushing and passing yards.

CMU lost its top two receivers, who combined for 174 receptions, 1,982 yards, and 16 touchdowns.  Kito Poblah and Cody Wilson give the Chippewas a foundation to rebuild on.  The tandem combined for 78 catches and 907 yards last year.

The running game relied on LeFevour the way Florida relied on Tim Tebow.  There isn’t much to get excited about in this department as Carl Volny and Paris Cotton are decent relief runners but poor feature backs.  Cotton figures to see a few more carries than Volny.  The two could combine for 1,000 plus rushing yards, but they will not match the 4.6 yards per rush recorded by last year’s runners.

An experienced offensive line should give CMU a fighting chance to run the ball and produce some decent results through the air.  Four starters return from last year led by the league’s best center Colin Miller.

CMU averaged 34 points and 423 yards per game last year.  Those numbers will fall to 22-26 points and 350-375 yards per game this season.

Defense: While the offense made the headlines, it was the Chippewa defense that got the job done when the title was on the line.  CMU held Ohio to 10 points and 275 yards in the MAC Championship game.

A lot of talent was lost to graduation, but there are still some very good players returning on this side of the ball.  At linebacker, Nick Bellore earned 1st Team All-MAC honors after posting 132 tackles, 13 of those behind the line.  He played well in pass coverage as well.  Will linebacker Mat Berning had 108 tackles and 8 ½ behind the line.  He knocked down seven passes as well.

Up front, half of the stellar defensive line starters return this year.  How well the two new starting ends perform could go a long way in determining the Chippewa’s fate.

The secondary is a concern this year, and we expect opposing quarterbacks to throw early and often against this untested quartet.  As a result, the linebackers may have to cheat back a little, thus weakening their ability to stop the run.

CMU will give up more than 20 points and 350 yards per game this year.  If that number approaches 25 points per game, it could be a long transitional season.

Schedule: A season opener at home with Hampton should give the new players a little confidence.  That should be the Chippewas only non-conference win, as they must face Northwestern, Virginia Tech, and Navy on the road.  Inside the MAC, CMU should split their eight games, which means they will fall under .500 overall.


Team Eastern Michigan Eagles
Head Coach Ron English
Colors Dark Green and White
City Ypsilanti, MI
2009 Record              
Conference 0-8
Overall 0-12
PiRate Rating 69.6
National Rating 120
2010 Prediction              
Conference 1-7
Overall 1-11


Offense: The Eagles don’t have much going for them on this side of the ball, and yet it is the stronger unit of the two.  There is but one way for an 0-12 team to go, but improvement in 2010 could be negligible.

Second year head coach Ron English will more than likely rely on a two-man platoon at quarterback.  Alex Gillett is a dual-threat player who can score with his feet or his arm.  Redshirt freshman Devontae Payne is a pure pocket passer with a rifle for an arm.  Opposing defenses will have to prepare for both players.

At running back, returning starter Dwayne Priest has exceptional speed, but he lacks the power to escape a single tackler.  He could rush for 800 yards with a little better blocking up front.

The offensive line is stronger the closer you get to the ball, or to put it another way, it gets weaker as it moves away from the ball.  None of the players on this roster will contend for 1st or 2nd team all-conference honors.

EMU should surpass last year’s statistical figures, but the improvement may not be enough to stop the losing streak.  Look for 18-21 points and 300 yards per game this year.

Defense: English inherited a defense that had surrendered 36 points and 400+ yards a game in 2008, and his first team in Ypsilanti actually performed worse, giving up 38 points and 427 yards per game.  Against the run, the numbers were scary bad—277 yards allowed at 6.3 yards per rush!  Three defensive line starters return, but the one lost starter was the best of the four by far. 

The second unit, much like the linemen, returns all but one starter, and that lost starter was the best player on the entire defense. 

The secondary gave up just 151 passing yards per game last year, but opposing teams only passed the ball 19 times per game.  There is some talent in this unit, and if the Eagles actually take a second half lead in a game, this group could come up with a big play to end the long losing streak.

We see EMU improving some on this side of the ball, but that means they might give up 33-35 points and 400-425 yards per game.

Schedule: Once again, it appears that EMU has little or no chance to win a game outside of league play.  The Eagles face a much improved Army team that should rush for 300 yards against this defense.  They must go on the road to Ohio State, Vanderbilt, and Virginia, and while the latter two face major rebuilding projects, the Eagles are not talented enough to beat either team on enemy turf.  EMU will be an underdog in all 12 games, and there is a chance they could go winless again.  We think they will come up with an upset in conference play to finish 1-11.  It’s been 29 years since a FBS school lost every game for two consecutive years (Northwestern) (Kansas State went 0-10-1 and 0-11 in 1987 and 1988).


Team Northern Illinois Huskies
Head Coach Jerry Kill
Colors Red and Black
City Dekalb, IL
2009 Record              
Conference 5-3
Overall 7-6
PiRate Rating 90.5
National Rating 86
2010 Prediction              
Conference 8-0
Overall 9-4


Offense: The MAC version of Fresno State, Northern Illinois picked up another Big Ten win last year with a 28-21 upset of Purdue.  They gave Wisconsin all they could handle in a 28-20 loss.  Third year coach Jerry Kill has his best team yet in Dekalb, as the Huskies are primed for a run to the league title thanks to a rushing attack that should top 200 yards per game. 

Chad Spann returns to the fold after earning 1st Team All-MAC honors last year.  Spann topped 1,000 yards on the ground even though he had to split carries with another player.  He should get about 50 more attempts this year.  Top newcomer Jasmin Hopkins led the Juco ranks last year with more than 1,900 yard rushing, so he could provide an ample change of pace to Spann. 

A talented and experienced offensive line is set to open holes for the stable of running backs.  Tackle Trevor Olson could contend for 1st Team All-MAC honors.

There is a heated battle for the starting quarterback position between last year’s starter Chandler Harnish, backup DeMarcus Grady, and Juco newcomer Casey Weston.  Grady is currently number one at the start of preseason drills, but it would not surprise me if Harnish regains his starting spot after a quick recovery from a 2009 knee injury.  No matter who lines up under center in week one, the passing game will be merely a secondary option to the running game. 

Receiver Landon Cox returns after leading NIU with 45 catches a year ago.  The makings of a good unit is here, but the rest of the receiving corps lacks experience.

Northern Illinois will not put up gaudy statistics due to the reliance on the running game, but the Huskies should consistently use ball-possession as a major weapon.  Look for NIU to score about 28-31 points and gain 350-375 yards per game while holding total plays per game for both teams under 125.

Defense: NIU’s defense could be on the field about 10 fewer plays per game than the average MAC defense.  That should equal about one long drive per game not allocated to the opposition.  Last year, with only three starters returning, NIU still finished third in the league in defense.  This year, eight starters return, and the Huskies look like the cream of the MAC crop.

The secondary is the best part of the defense.  All four starters return, including an excellent duo at cornerback in Patrick George and Chris Smith.

The front seven should be as good as last year with the return of two defensive line starters and two linebackers.  Sam linebacker Alex Kube and Will linebacker Pat Schiller should combine for more than 150 tackles and 15 stops for loss.

NIU gave up 21.6 points and 330 yards per game last year, and those numbers should be a little better this season.  If they approach 17 points and 300 yards, the fans in Dekalb could be celebrating a MAC Championship.

Schedule: We think the Huskies have a 50-50 chance of running the table in conference play, at least until the MAC Championship Game.  The non-league schedule presents a wide variation of possibilities.  The Huskies open at Iowa State on Thursday night, September 2.  The Cyclones will be weaker this season and beatable in Ames.  After a home game with North Dakota, NIU travels to Illinois and Minnesota in consecutive weeks.  Again, both of these games are winnable but not sure things.  NIU could enter conference play at 1-3, 2-2, 3-1, or even 4-0.  The potential is there for a repeat of 2003, or even better.


Team Toledo Rockets
Head Coach Tim Beckman
Colors Midnight Blue and Gold
City Toledo, OH
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 5-7
PiRate Rating 80.5
National Rating 108
2010 Prediction              
Conference 3-5
Overall 3-9


Offense: The Rockets were an exciting team last year with a wide open offense that produced 30 points and almost 440 yards per game.  Expect more of the same in year two of the Coach Tim Beckman era in Toledo.

Quarterback Austin Dantin received three starts as a true freshman last year filling in for the injured Aaron Opelt.  Dantin averaged better than eight yards per attempt, and he could possibly top 3,000 yards through the air this season.

Receiver Eric Page is the league’s leading returning pass catcher after grabbing 82 passes for 1,159 yards.  He was just a freshman!  Could a triple digit reception season be in his future?  It’s possible.

Running back Morgan Williams lost his starting job last year after rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 2008.  If he returns to form, the Rockets will be impossible to stop this season.

The offensive line is one of the most experienced group of blockers in the nation.  They gave up just 18 sacks to a group of passers that combined for 37 passing attempts per game.

The Rockets should average 33-36 points and 450-475 yards per game this season; they will continue to be one of the most exciting teams in the nation to watch.

Defense: As good as the offense is, the defense is the polar opposite.  Toledo gave up 38 points and 400+ yards per game last season, and it doesn’t appear that 2010 will see enough improvement to win more games.

Two starters return up front, but neither of them will be confused for all-conference players.  Toledo had just 20 sacks last year, and they lose their top sack man.

The Rockets use a 4-2-5 defense, and they return just one of their linebacker tandem.  That lost player was the best player on the entire defense, Barry Church, who made all-conference all four years.

The quintet in the secondary is the strength of this unit.  Toledo started three freshmen last year, and as sophomores, they should be much better.  The Rockets welcome back Desmond Morrow, a 2008 starter who missed most of last year with an ACL injury.

Toledo should surrender fewer points this year.  However, a weaker run defense could keep the stop troops on the field for longer stretches.  Look for the Rockets to give up as much as 200 rushing yards and 375-400 total yards per game while allowing about 28-33 points per game.

Schedule: This is a major problem.  Toledo will not win a non-conference game, and they could be quite banged up by the time they are finished with the last of those games.  Arizona visits the Glass Bowl to kick off the season.  Road games at Purdue and Boise State will be trouble.  A homecoming game with Wyoming comes sandwiched between Purdue and Boise State.  The Rockets will compete in most of their conference games, but they could repeat their 3-5 mark.


Team Western Michigan Broncos
Head Coach Bill Cubit
Colors Brown and Gold
City Kalamazoo, MI
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 5-7
PiRate Rating 77.0
National Rating 115
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-2
Overall 8-4


Offense: The Broncos were inconsistent on offense last year.  They topped 30 points four times and scored 17 or less points five times.  With the loss of the school’s career best passer, 2010 could be a trying one for a team that has enough talent to contend for the division flag.

Quarterback Alex Carder saw limited action as a freshman last year, but he begins 2010 as the clear-cut starter.  He won’t be asked to pass the ball over 40 times per game like Tim Hiller, but he has a great set of receivers on hand. 

The top five receivers from last year are back in the fold, giving the Broncos the hands down best receiving unit in the league.  Drew Burdi, an option-style QB was moved to wide receiver to add to those riches.

WMU must replace star running back Brandon West, who rushed for 1,164 yards and 10 TDs.  He leaves a major void, as the new starter, Aaron Winchester, ran for just 148 yards and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry.

The lack of a proven runner might force Carder to take the ball to the air a bit too much, and his inexperience could lead to an increase in interceptions.  Still, WMU should average better than 25 points and 375 yards per game.

Defense: There are definite strengths and glaring weaknesses on this side of the ball, but the Broncos are sure to improve on their lousy showing of last year when they gave up 28 points and 419 yards per game.

First the bad news:  the secondary gave up 241 passing yards per game and seldom supplied much pressure on receivers.  Two freshmen could start this year.

The Broncos are a little more settled at linebacker.  Rover Jamail Berry is more of a linebacker than secondary player.  He led WMU with five interceptions (half of the team’s picks).  Newcomer Dex Jones possesses great speed, and the former Wisconsin player should be a vast improvement on the weak side.

The defensive line is not impressive, but there is more experience returning this year than returned in 2009.

If the Broncos can develop an average pass rush, they could make an unexpected run at Northern Illinois.  We believe they will improve some, but not enough.  Call it 24-27 points and 375-400 yards allowed.

Schedule: The Broncos are looking at a 2-2 mark outside of conference play.  They host Nicholls State and Idaho and travel to Michigan State and Notre Dame.  League games with Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Toledo, Central Michigan, and Akron give WMU a good shot at enjoying a winning league mark.  The Broncos get Kent State and Northern Illinois at home, and if they win one of those games, they will be bowling this year. 


Coming Tomorrow: A look at the three independents—Army, Navy, and Notre Dame.  Could the entire trio be bowl eligible in 2010?

March 7, 2010

March Madness Update–Sunday, March 7, 2010

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , — piratings @ 1:21 pm

Five teams are now in the Big Dance as of 4:00 PM EST Sunday.  Cornell secured the first bid Friday night, when the Big Red won the Ivy League Title.  Winthrop, East Tennessee, and Murray State won their conference tournaments yesterday, and Northern Iowa just finished off Wichita State to take the MVC tournament title.

The Mid-American Conference Tournament kicks off today with first round games played on the higher seed’s home court.  The tournament moves to Cleveland Thursday for the final three rounds.  Here is the schedule:

#10 Bowling Green at #7 Western Michigan.  The winner faces #2 Central Michigan in the quarterfinals

#11 Northern Illinois at #6 Eastern Michigan.  The winner faces #3 Akron in the quarterfinals.

#9 Ohio U at #8 Ball State.  The winner faces #1 Kent State in the quarterfinals.

#12 Toledo at #5 Buffalo.  The winner faces #4 Miami (O) in the quarterfinals.

Kent State and Akron should make it through their parts of the bracket to end up in the championship game.  If any team from the first round runs the table, it should be Buffalo.  We don’t believe any of the West teams (CMU, EMU, WMU, Ball State, Toledo, NIU) will make it to the finals and at most one will still be around in the semis.

Coming up in our next update, we will have the matchups for the rest of the mid-major tournaments that kick off this week.

On Wednesday, we will preview the Big Six conferences.

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