The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 4, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Friday, March 4, 2022

Friday’s Conference Tournaments

Big South Conference–Quarterfinals
Charlotte
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
LongwoodNorth Carolina A&T10.3
USC UpstateCharleston Southern9.2
WinthropHigh Point6.0
Gardner-WebbCampbell3.4
MIssouri Valley Conference–Quarterfinals
St. Louis (Arch Madness)
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Northern IowaIllinois St.8.7
Loyola (Chi.)Bradley6.8
Missouri St.Valparaiso12.5
DrakeSouthern Illinois4.1
Ohio Valley Conference–Semifinals
Evansville, IN
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
Murray St.Southeast Missouri19.6
BelmontMorehead St.6.1
Southern Conference–1st Round
Asheville, NC
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
East Tennessee St.The Citadel6.0
MercerWestern Carolina7.4
West Coast Conference–2nd Round
Las Vegas
Higher SeedLower SeedSpread
BYULoyola Marymount12.2
PortlandSan Diego1.4

Friday’s Regular Season Games

HomeVisitorSpread
St. BonaventureRichmond3.7
Western MichiganBall St.-4.6
Kent St.Buffalo0.4
ToledoBowling Green19.2
Miami (O)Eastern Michigan7.9
AkronCentral Michigan18.4
Northern IllinoisOhio-12.6
San Jose St.Utah St.-17.8

January 30, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Sunday, January 30, 2022

HomeVisitorsSpread
BrownCornell4.5
PurdueOhio St.9.2
East CarolinaCincinnati-5.9
Wright St.Purdue Fort Wayne4.4
Northern KentuckyCleveland St.-1.4
George WashingtonFordham-1.5
ProvidenceMarquette1.1
WisconsinMinnesota9.2
Fairleigh DickinsonCentral Connecticut1.3
BryantLong Island5.1
IonaSaint Peter’s11.1
Morgan St.Delaware St.14.1
St. Francis (NY)Wagner-11.8
DrakeLoyola (Chi.)-3.2
BradleyIndiana St.7.9
MassachusettsGeorge Mason8.7
SienaQuinnipiac0.4
ManhattanMarist-2.0
MonmouthNiagara8.5
RiderCanisius1.9
Boston CollegePittsburgh4.0
Southern IllinoisValparaiso5.8
BucknellLoyola (MD)-3.9
McNeese St.New Orleans0.7
Washington St.Colorado5.8

March 19, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Friday, March 19, 2021

FavoriteUnderdogSpread
BaylorHartford22.0
WisconsinNorth Carolina0.3
VillanovaWinthrop8.1
PurdueNorth Texas7.4
Texas TechUtah St.2.3
ArkansasColgate8.4
FloridaVirginia Tech2.1
Ohio St.Oral Roberts16.1
IllinoisDrexel20.5
Loyola (Chi.)Georgia Tech2.7
TennesseeOregon St.7.6
Oklahoma St.Liberty8.2
San Diego St.Syracuse2.8
West VirginiaMorehead St.11.6
RutgersClemson1.9
HoustonCleveland St.17.9

March 7, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Sunday, March 7, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
HoustonMemphis9.3
East CarolinaCincinnati-0.5
LibertyNorth Alabama14.3
BaylorTexas Tech9.4
TCUTexas-9.2
WinthropCampbell10.3
IowaWisconsin7.9
NorthwesternNebraska4.7
Michigan St.Michigan-10.3
MarylandPenn St.2.3
HofstraDelaware2.9
James MadisonElon6.2
NortheasternWilliam & Mary8.7
CharlestonDrexel-2.0
North Carolina CentralSouth Carolina St.8.6
Loyola (Chi.)Drake4.6
Oregon St.Oregon-4.2
Georgia St.Louisiana3.8
Appalachian St.Coastal Carolina-3.8
TennesseeFlorida2.4
UNCGEast Tennessee St.2.2
MercerVMI0.2
Oral RobertsNorth Dakota8.0
North Dakota St.Missouri-Kansas City4.4

Today’s Conference Tournament Action

Atlantic Sun CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Jacksonville, 2PM EST, ESPN

1 Liberty vs. 5 North Alabama

Liberty has already clinched an automatic bid , as UNA is ineligible due to their transition phase to Division 1

Big South CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

12 PM , ESPN

3 Campbell at 1 Winthrop

Colonial Athletic Quarterfinals

At James Madison in Harrisonburg, VA

1 James Madison vs. 8 Elon

4 Hofstra vs. 5 Delaware

2 Northeastern vs. 7 William & Mary

3 College of Charleston vs. 6 Drexel

Missouri Valley CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Saint Louis, 2 PM EST, CBS

1 Loyola (Chi.) vs. 2 Drake

Southern Conference Semifinals

Asheville, NC

1 UNC-Greensboro vs. 5 East Tennessee St.

6 VMI vs. 7 Mercer

Summit League 2nd Half of Quarterfinals

at Sioux Falls, SD

4 Oral Roberts vs. 5 North Dakota

3 North Dakota St. vs. 6 Missouri-Kansas City

Sun Belt Conference Semifinals

at Pensacola, FL

1E Georgia St. vs. 2W Louisiana

2E Coastal Carolina vs. 4E Appalachian St.

Automatic Qualifiers

Liberty 22-5

Morehead St. 23-7

March 6, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Saturday, March 6, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
St. BonaventureSaint Louis0.3
VCUDavidson3.9
Notre DameFlorida St.-6.7
ClemsonPittsburgh5.1
LouisvilleVirginia-0.9
North CarolinaDuke3.1
UMBCUMass-Lowell6.5
VermontHartford8.7
Wichita St.South Florida10.0
West VirginiaOklahoma St.4.3
Kansas St.Iowa St.1.4
ConnecticutGeorgetown8.6
ProvidenceVillanova-5.8
CreightonButler12.5
St. John’sSeton Hall0.9
MarquetteXavier-0.2
Montana St.Sacramento St.3.8
Weber St.Northern Colorado10.0
Portland St.Southern Utah-2.8
MinnesotaRutgers-0.4
PurdueIndiana5.9
Ohio St.Illinois-1.7
UC DavisHawaii0.3
Cal St. NorthridgeUC-Riverside-10.2
Long Beach St.UC-Irvine-9.8
UC San DiegoCal St. Fullerton3.2
UCSBCal Poly22.6
MarshallCharlotte14.2
Western KentuckyOld Dominion8.3
North TexasUAB6.4
ElonTowson4.2
William & MaryUNC-Wilmington-2.9
Delaware St.Morgan St.-11.3
Loyola (Chi.)Indiana St.10.8
DrakeMissouri St.3.9
Fresno St.Utah St.-10.5
WyomingUNLV0.2
BryantSacred Heart9.7
WagnerMount St. Mary’s3.4
BelmontMorehead St.4.8
UtahArizona St.2.8
UCLAUSC-2.8
NavyLoyola (MD)7.1
ColgateBoston U14.3
LafayetteBucknell3.6
ArmyAmerican4.4
KentuckySouth Carolina6.4
AuburnMississippi St.2.8
GeorgiaAlabama-9.4
MissouriLSU-0.5
ArkansasTexas A&M16.1
Ole MissVanderbilt5.8
Prairie ViewAlcorn St.9.9
Jackson St.Alabama St.12.6
Texas SouthernSouthern4.9
GramblingAlabama A&M5.7
UNCGThe Citadel9.7
ChattanoogaEast Tennessee St.-1.7
WoffordMercer1.7
FurmanVMI5.0
Northwestern St.Central Arkansas2.9
Abilene ChristianIncarnate Word19.5
McNeese St.Lamar-0.2
Houston BaptistTexas A&M-CC4.2
Sam Houston St.Stephen F. Austin1.6
New OrleansSoutheast Louisiana6.2
South Dakota St.Omaha16.2
South DakotaWestern Illinois10.3
LouisianaSouth Alabama2.6
Georgia St.Arkansas St.8.5
Coastal CarolinaTroy10.3
Texas St.Appalachian St.5.8
UT Rio Grande ValleyTarleton St.5.3
Dixie St.New Mexico St.-10.4
Grand CanyonUtah Valley8.3
California BaptistSeattle2.3
Saint Mary’sLoyola Marymount0.1
PepperdineSanta Clara3.2

Conference Tournament Update

Today’s Conference Tournament Games

America East Semifinals

6 U Mass-Lowell at 1 Maryland-Baltimore Co.

4 Hartford at 2 Vermont

Atlantic 10 Semifinals (Richmond)

1 St. Bonaventure vs. 4 Saint Louis

2 VCU vs. 3 Davidson

Colonial Athletic 1st Round (@ James Madison)

8 Elon vs. 9 Towson

7 William & Mary vs. 10 UNC-Wilmington

Missouri Valley Semifinals at Saint Louis

1 Loyola (Chi.) vs. 4 Indiana St.

2 Drake vs. 3 Missouri St.

Northeast Semifinals

4 Mount St. Mary’s at 1 Wagner

3 Sacred Heart at 2 Bryant

Ohio Valley Championship Game at Evansville

1 Belmont vs. 2 Morehead St. — 8 PM EST on ESPN2

Southern Quarterfinals at Asheville

1 UNC-Greensboro vs. 8 The Citadel

4 Chattanooga vs. 5 East Tennessee St.

2 Wofford vs. 7 Mercer

3 Furman vs. 6 VMI

Summit Quarterfinals 1st 2 Games at Sioux Falls

1 South Dakota St. vs. 8 Omaha

2 South Dakota vs. 7 Western Illinois

Sun Belt Quarterfinals at Pensacola

1E Georgia St. vs. 4W Arkansas St.

2W Louisiana vs. 3E South Alabama

1W Texas St. vs. 4E Appalachian St.

2E Coastal Carolina vs. 6E Troy

West Coast Quarterfinals at Las Vegas

4 Saint Mary’s vs. 5 Loyola Marymount

3 Pepperdine vs. 7 Santa Clara

Automatic Qualifiers

Liberty — Atlantic Sun 22-5

March 5, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Tournament Update

Friday, March 5, 2021 (Prior to start of A-10 Games today)

Atlantic Sun

Semifinals, Today

1 Liberty vs. 7 Stetson

5 North Alabama vs. 6 Florida Gulf Coast

Note: If North Alabama wins the tournament, Liberty is the automatic NCAA Tournament qualifier.

Atlantic 10

Quarterfinals, Today, Richmond, VA

1 St. Bonaventure vs. 9 Duquesne

4 Saint Louis vs. 5 Massachusetts

2 VCU vs. 7 Dayton

3 Davidson vs. George Mason

Big South

Championship Game, Sunday at Winthrop

1 Winthrop vs. 3 Campbell

Colonial Athletic

1st Round, Saturday at James Madison

8 Elon vs. 9 Towson

7 William & Mary vs. 10 UNC-Wilmington

Horizon

Semifinals, Monday at Indianapolis

1 Cleveland St. vs. 8 Milwaukee

3 Oakland vs. 4 Northern Kentucky

Missouri Valley (Arch Madness)

Quarterfinals, Today, at Saint Louis

1 Loyola (Chi.) vs. 9 Southern Illinois

4 Indiana St. vs. 5 Evansville

2 Drake vs. 7 Northern Iowa

3 Missouri St. vs. 6 Valparaiso

Northeast

Semifinals, Saturday at Higher Seed

1 Wagner vs. 4 Mount St. Mary’s

2 Bryant vs. 3 Sacred Heart

Ohio Valley

Semifinals, Friday at Evansville

1 Belmont vs. 4 Jacksonville St.

2 Morehead St. vs. 3 Eastern Kentucky

Patriot

Quarterfinals, Saturday at Higher Seeds

1 Navy vs. Loyola (MD)

4 Army vs. 5 American

2 Colgate vs. 7 Boston U

3 Lafayette vs. 6 Bucknell

Southern

1st Round, Today at Asheville, NC

8 The Citadel vs. 9 Western Carolina

7 Mercer vs. 10 Samford

Summit

Quarterfinals, Saturday & Sunday, Sioux Falls, SD

1 South Dakota St. vs. 8 Omaha

4 Oral Roberts vs. 5 North Dakota

2 South Dakota vs. 7 Western Illinois

3 North Dakota St. vs. Kansas City

Sun Belt

1st Round, Today at Pensacola, FL

4W Arkansas St. vs. 5E Georgia Southern

3E South Alabama vs. 6W Louisiana-Monroe

4E Appalachian St. vs. 5W Little Rock

3W UT-Arlington vs. 6E Troy

West Coast

2nd Round, Today at Las Vegas

5 Loyola Marymount vs. 8 San Francisco

6 Pacific vs. 7 Santa Clara

February 26, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Friday, February 26, 2021

HomeVisitorSpread
St. BonaventureGeorge Washington15.2
Saint LouisRichmond2.2
CincinnatiTulane5.3
StetsonNorth Florida4.6
Kennesaw St.Florida Gulf Coast-7.7
Northern ArizonaSouthern Utah-7.2
IdahoMontana St.-13.0
Penn St.Purdue0.3
Cal PolyUC Davis-7.1
UC IrvineUC San Diego9.8
Cal St. BakersfieldCal St. Northridge10.8
UC RiversideUCSB-2.3
HawaiiLong Beach State7.3
James MadisonDrexel1.9
MarshallNorth Texas3.5
Old DominionMiddle Tennessee9.6
UTSAUAB-3.9
Louisiana TechRice9.1
Southern MissFlorida Atlantic-0.2
SienaManhattan10.7
Saint Peter’sRider10.5
AkronBowling Green4.1
BradleyDrake-7.0
EvansvilleMissouri St.-7.2
ValparaisoIndiana St.-3.6
Loyola (Chi.)Southern Illinois21.3
Illinois St.Northern Iowa1.4
Utah St.Nevada6.8
UNLVFresno St.4.8
Central ConnecticutWagner-9.5
BryantLong Island University8.2
MerrimackSt. Francis (NY)2.8
Sacred HeartFairleigh Dickinson0.9
Texas St.UL Monroe10.1
Georgia SouthernAppalachian St.-0.9
UT ArlingtonArkansas St.2.1
TroyCoastal Carolina-5.6
Little RockLouisiana0.1
South AlabamaGeorgia St.-1.9
DenverOmaha-1.6
South Dakota St.UM Kansas City8.7
Utah ValleyUT Rio Grande Valley1.1
TarletonNew Mexico St.-6.4
SeattleGrand Canyon-6.5

Coming Later Friday: Updated Bracketology. There was considerable movement in the field of 68 since our Monday update. Teams like Duke, Michigan St., and North Carolina St. are making late pushes to sneak into the field. The first conference tournament began last night, and more tourneys will commence in the next few days, as March Madness lite begins Monday.

The PiRates will be heading down to the galley to make a big bowl of stew and start crunching the numbers that will become Bracketnomics 2021. The recipe has changed–for the Bracketnomics, not the stew.

January 19, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 19, 2020

Division 1 Basketball Games on Sunday

 

Home

Visitor

Spread

Canisius

Rider

-0.8

Chicago State

Cal St. Bakersfield

-15.8

Cincinnati

East Carolina

16.9

Fordham

Davidson

-7.4

Illinois State

Loyola (Chi.)

-4.9

Maine

Binghamton

1.8

Marist

Iona

-4.5

Niagara

Siena

-2.2

North Dakota State

North Dakota

7.4

Rutgers

Minnesota

3.9

South Dakota

South Dakota State

-1.3

Southern Illinois

Drake

0.1

UCLA

California

6.5

UMKC

Grand Canyon

3.3

Wake Forest

Boston College

6.7

March 30, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Final Four Games, Saturday, March 31

PiRate Rating  Picks–Final Four

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Michigan Loyola-IL 4.8
Villanova Kansas 6.0

The PiRate March Madness Team Criteria

This has been an interesting NCAA Tournament, much different than many recent ones.  Yet, as we look on the eve of the Final Four, we look at our original criteria that we posted almost three weeks ago and look at our results.

We only correctly picked one of the Final Four teams, but this is not a real criticism of the system.  We just did a lousy job picking four of the 14 teams that this system showed having national title caliber analytics.

We looked the original stats of the 68 teams and stated that 14 shared the type of statistical resumes that showed them to be good enough to cut the nets in San Antonio.  Three of those 14 have made the Final Four–Villanova, Michigan, and Kansas.

What about Loyola?  We said that they were now the new Wichita State of this tournament.  We did not pick the Ramblers to make the Final Four, but we basically labelled them as the best of the Mid-major teams capable of repeating what Wichita State had done when the Shockers were in the Missouri Valley.

So, we give the new criteria a passing grade, and we give our human evaluation team of those analytics a D-grade for not properly selecting the correct three of the 14 teams that advanced to San Antonio.

For those of you that may have arrived at this page and did not see our previous March Madness posts, here is a brief tutorial.

Our criteria is based on a combination of analytic data and back-tested statistics that past Final Four and National Champion teams have produced.  We look for correlations that can separate the great from the good.

We came up with the following stats and data sets:

True Shooting Percentage Margin

There has been an evolution in shooting efficiency in recent seasons.  With the 30-second shot clock and the better use of analytics, teams know they should take certain three-point shots and certain high two-point shots without having to force low percentage shots at the end of the shot clock.  Whereas field goal% offense and defense used to be vital, in the current philosophy of college basketball teams, true shooting percentage matters most.

True Shooting Percentage tells you how efficient a team is at shooting the ball.  How many points do they get per shot taken, be it a two-point shot, a three-point shot, or shots from the foul line?

Our formula for college basketball true shooting percentage is: (100*Pts)/(2*(fga+(.475*fta))).  We say “our formula” not because we created it, which we did not, but because there are arbitrary differences in the calculations of different metrics specialists.  Some use .44 for free throws attempted, which is more accurate for the NBA, but there are different free throw shooting rules in the NBA, so we use .475, which is more accurate for college basketball.

The TS% margin is simply a team’s offensive TS% minus their defensive TS%.

 

R+T Rating

This is our created statistic.  R+T attempts to estimate additional scoring opportunities that a team may receive based on rebounding, steals, avoiding opponent steals, and additional turnovers not involving steals.  Since a steal is worth more than a dead-ball turnover, we give it more weight than all other turnovers.  A steal is precious because the stealing team is able to run the fast break much easier than any other type of gained possession.

The formula for R+T is: (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T,  where R is rebounding margin, S is steals, and T is turnover margin.

If one team has an R+T of 15.5, and the other team has an R+T of 5.5, then the 15.5 team should create 10 additional scoring opportunities in a game between the two teams.  That might be enough extra chances to overcome a significant disadvantage in true shooting perecentage.

Strength of Schedule

Obviously, it is easier to pad your team’s statistics if they have played a bunch of cup cakes rather than play 20 games against other teams in the NCAA Tournament.  So, strength of schedule is vitally important.  Through SOS, we normalize the TS% and R+T ratings to make the numbers on par with each other.  If a team has a TS% margin of 10% and an R+T of 15 with a SOS of 50 (exactly average of 351 Division 1 teams), and their opponents has a TS% of 5% and an R+T of 5 with a SOS of 60 (10 points better than average per game), the team with a SOS of 60 would be the better team based on the analytics.  The exact algorithm for determining par values is a bit too difficult to explain, and we do not care to share this proprietary information, as it is all that separates our formula from others.

Other Contributing Factors

We look at how a team has performed in its most recent dozen games.  Obviously, at this point, every team has a minimum of a four-game winning streak.  We look at each team’s two longest winning streaks of the season.  We don’t expect a team with a longest winning streak of three or four games being able to win six in a row against top-flight competition, while if we see a team with a double-digit winning streak or two in excess of six games, then this team has what it takes to win six in a row after March 15.

In addition to Strength of Schedule, we look to those teams that come from a “power conference.”  In our definition, a power conference is one with a league RPI in the Top 12.  For what it’s worth, all four teams remaining in the field come from power conferences, as did all Elite 8 teams and all Sweet 16 teams.

Scoring margin is also important to us.  The minimum scoring margin of a national champion in the last 30 years is eight points per game, while the majority of champions having double-digit scoring margins.  It is next-to-impossible to win the title with a scoring margin under 8.  When Villanova upset Georgetown in 1985, their scoring margin was just 4.8 points per game.  North Carolina State’s scoring margin was 4.6 points per game in 1983.  In fact in the last 65 seasons where we have complete stats (1943 to 2017), the eventual national champion had a double-digit scoring margin 62 times!

Okay, so there you have our criteria.  Basically, we look for teams that can shoot better than their opponents, create more scoring opportunities than their opponents, and do so against a difficult schedule.  It’s obvious, isn’t it?  It might be, but then so many people overlook the obvious in favor of emotional factors.  And, then there is the case of trying to choose four teams from among 14 of the 68 teams that possessed the qualities necessary to win the title.

We have one party-crasher in the Final Four.  Loyola has earned their trip to San Antonio by playing excellent team ball and limiting mistakes, but they have also had a perfect route with little interference, getting weaker than typical Nevada and Kansas State teams to make it here.  Because the Ramblers do not share the approved criteria numbers to win the title, we are predicting Loyola to end their Cinderella bid Saturday afternoon.  Of course, if Loyola wins, they buck a trend and completely re-write the analytic philosophy.

In case you were wondering, when Loyola won the title back in 1963, the Ramblers were more like Villanova today.  That 1963 team led the nation in scoring margin at 24 points per game.  That team was an offense first team that played at supersonic speed.  They averaged in excess of 90 possessions per game.  The Ramblers defeated a two-time defending champion Cincinnati squad that was more of a patient, defense first team that averaged around 65 possessions per game.  There was a 2018 Loyola type team in that 1963 Final Four, and that was Oregon State.  That Beaver team played patient basketball, relied on defense to stop opponents, because they were not able to score points in spurts, and they only had to beat one ranked team to earn a trip to Louisville for the Final Four.

What happened to that Oregon State team in the semifinals?  They lost to Cincinnati by 34 points.  Another big Cinderella team lost by 34 points in the 1979 Final Four when Penn fell to eventual champion Michigan State.  George Mason lost by 11 points to eventual champion Florida in 2006.  VCU lost by eight to Butler in 2011.  Wichita State lost by just four to Louisville in 2013.

In fact, if you go back all the way to the beginning of the NCAA Tournament in 1939, in the 79 prior tournaments, only one real Cinderella won the national title.  In 1947, Holy Cross had a relatively perfect draw to win an eight-team tournament.  The Crusaders edged Navy and City College of New York to make the title game against Oklahoma, where they dismissed the Sooners by 11 points.  Of course that HCU team had the best guard in the history of the game up to that point in Bob Cousy and an All-American pivot man in George Kaftan, who disproved the theory that brought you the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump.”

Let us now look at the numbers for the remaining four teams now that we have done what we can to convince you that three of the four teams can cut the nets, and it will take a hire authority than Sister Jean to pull off a miracle of this proportion for Loyola to win.

Note: In response to Lexie89’s question to us earlier in the season, the colors shown for each team are the official colors of each team.  We have a list of all team official Pantone colors and then convert from Pantone to Hex Color.  If you are not seeing what looks like the authentic colors, it is your monitor.

Team Power W-L Score TS% Diff R+T * SOS
Kansas Y 31-7 81-71 8.15 5.7 61.78
Loyola (Chi.) Y 32-5 72-62 10.27 6.8 52.35
Michigan Y 32-7 74-63 5.86 9.6 59.94
Villanova Y 34-4 87-70 10.29 13.1 60.82
Team W1 W2 L12 Reb Stl Opp Stl TO
Kansas 7 7 11-1 0.45 6.55 5.61 1.16
Loyola (Chi.) 14 7 12-0 1.84 6.38 6.54 0.49
Michigan 13 7 12-0 0.49 6.28 4.15 3.67
Villanova 13 9 11-1 3.11 6.61 4.79 2.34
Offense Defense
Team Pts FGA FTA TS%  Pts FGA FTA TS% 
Kansas 3095 2304 619 59.6 2708 2354 588 51.4
Loyola (Chi.) 2664 1912 612 60.5 2308 2059 505 50.2
Michigan 2888 2221 681 56.8 2460 2118 629 50.9
Villanova 3289 2318 691 62.1 2666 2284 603 51.9

Times listed are Eastern Daylight

Both Games on TBS

The Semifinal Games

Michigan vs. Loyola of Chicago

Tip Time: 6:09 PM

Strength of Schedule

Michigan has a considerable advantage here by an average of 7.59 points per game.

True Shooting % Margin

Due to schedule strength, Michigan has a decided advantage here.

R+T Rating

Michigan has a considerable advantage and should obtain 5 or 6 extra scoring opportunities in this game, which should allow the Wolverines to enjoy at least one scoring spurt of better than 8 points.

Other

Michigan will win the rebounding war as Loyola will not crash the offensive boards.  The Ramblers will look to stop Wolverine fast breaks, so if Michigan can guard well enough to limit open shots, especially from the outside, Loyola will have little chance to score enough points to win this game.  The Ramblers will have to be very hot from outside and hope that Cameron Krutwig can play longer than 22 minutes.

We expect Michigan to commit single-digit turnovers in this game, as Loyola will have to concentrate its efforts on limiting high-percentage shots inside and open three-point shots against quicker players.  The Wolverines have been a much better rebounding team in the second half of the season, and their overall defense has been improving for the last month.

Conclusion

We see this game having two possible outcomes, neither of which is good for the Cinderella team.  In the first scenario, Michigan will open up a comfortable lead in the first five to eight minutes of the game and then keep the lead safe for the duration of the game, winning by double digits.

In the second possibility, Loyola might keep the game close for a half, but Michigan will go on a scoring spurt at some point in the second half to gain a double-digit lead and hang on to win by six to 15 points.

Either way, we see the Maize and Blue of Coach John Beilein earning the school’s sixth National Championship Game appearance, and Beilein’s second in Ann Arbor.

MICHIGAN 73  LOYOLA 62

 

Villanova vs. Kansas

Tip Time: Approximately 8:49 PM

Strength of Schedule

This is basically a wash with both teams having a top 5% SOS.  Kansas has a minimal advantage of less than one point per game.

True Shooting % Margin

Villanova has a miniscule advantage here that reveals very little due to the standard deviation of shooting percentages per game.  All this says is that Villanova has maybe a 52 to 53% chance of having the better true shooting percentage in this game.

R+T Rating

Villanova has a decided advantage here of 7.4, and when you combine it with the SOS of the two teams, the Wildcats are expected to receive about six to seven additional scoring opportunities in this game.  Villanova has the best ability of the four remaining teams to capitalize on extra scoring opportunities with game-deciding scoring spurts.

Other

This game has the potential to turn into a 75-possession game per team, and it is possible that the loser could top 80 points.  The team that gets better open looks from behind the arc should win this game, as long as that team doesn’t come out so flat that they cannot hit at least 35% from behind the arc.

This game is not necessarily a toss-up, but the advantage of our favorite is not insurmountable.

However, the overall most dangerous player in this entire tournament of 68 teams is still alive and leading the team that is now the odds-on favorite to win the national title for the second time in three years.  Jay Wright has given the City of Brotherly Love a possible second champion of the season.

CONCLUSION

Villanova has the near perfect statistical resume of past national champions.  Their 17 point scoring margin is on par with 80% of past national champions and typical of about 90% of all past champions.

Of the four teams remaining, the Wildcats are most apt to enjoy a 10-point scoring spurt more than once in a game.  Wright’s team reminds us of Denny Crum’s 1980 Louisville team and in some ways like the 1970 and 1971 UCLA teams that won titles.  The perimeter players can score inside, and the inside players can score from the outside.  Six players are capable of carrying the team for a half, and if you attempt to concentrate on stopping one or two players, the other four or five will exploit your defense and burn you.

VILLANOVA 84  KANSAS 77

 

March 24, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Games of Sat-Sun, March 24-25

Elite 8 Round

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Kansas St. Loyola-IL -0.1
Michigan Florida St. 3.0
Villanova Texas Tech 6.9
Kansas Duke -4.1

Elite 8 TV Schedule

Saturday, Mar 24, 2018
Time (EDT) Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:09 PM 9 Kansas St. 11 Loyola (Chi.) Atlanta TBS
8:49 PM 3 Michigan 9 Florida St. Los Angeles TBS
         
Sunday, Mar 25, 2018
Time (EDT) Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
2:20 PM 1 Villanova 3 Texas Tech Boston CBS
5:05 PM 1 Kansas 2 Duke Omaha CBS

Elite 8 Criteria Preview

Cinderella still remains in this tournament, even when there are just eight teams remaining.  Actually, there are two Cinderellas remaining, and one of them is now guaranteed to make the Final Four, as the two face off in Atlanta this evening.

The ninth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats keep defying the odds of 50+ years of past NCAA Tournament results.  Teams with terrible rebounding margins (Kansas State’s is -3.17 and with an R+T Rating [(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T,  where R is rebounding margin, S is steals per game, and T is turnover margin] just barely above zero just don’t dance this far into the marathon.

Loyola is bucking the trend only minimally.  While they participate in one of the top 12 conferences, thus a Power Conference, the Ramblers’ overall strength of schedule is below the par of Final Four teams.  Even past Final Four Cinderellas like Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, and George Mason had higher strengths of schedule, and former Missouri Valley Conference Final Four member Wichita State had a considerably higher strength of schedule when the Shockers made the national semifinals.

Florida State has tried on that slipper, but it is a tight fit.  The Seminoles are also a ninth seed, but it looks like the ACC teams were seeded a spot or two low this year.  The Seminoles have a brief history in the Final Four, getting to the title game, where they gave one of the best teams ever a real shock in the final, before losing to UCLA by five.  That was a Bruin team that outscored its opponents by a record 30+ points per game.

The Sunday schedule looks sane compared to the Saturday schedule.  Of the four teams playing on Sunday, the PiRate Rating Criteria correctly predicted three of the four to make it this far, and who knows what might have happened had Purdue’s Isaac Haas been able to play–it could have been a perfect four for four.

Nevertheless, Texas Tech is no slouch.  The Red Raiders play a difficult style of ball that is tough to match up against.  Coach Chris Beard takes from his past mentors, having been an assistant to Coach Bob Knight and Coach Tom Penders.  The Red Raiders play intelligently, and while they don’t run up and down the floor, they find ways to get open shots and to keep the opponent from getting too many on their side of the floor.

Villanova looks to be just as strong as the 2016 team that won the tournament.  The Wildcats have defeated teams playing different styles of ball, and they appear to be the most prepared to face whatever comes their way.  Looking at the criteria stats, there are three teams that we consider “complete teams,” in that they enjoy positive rebounding margins, turnover margins, average scoring margins, and they average more than 6 steals per game while giving up less than 6 steals per game.  Villanova is one of those three teams, and the Wildcats look to be the most complete of the three.

The Duke-Kansas match is the only one that the seed line got correct.  It is the only Elite 8 game that the PiRate Criteria also got correct.  The winner of this game will be crowned as the favorite to win it all, but if Villanova is there, it will set up a fantastic semifinal match, where the other side of the bracket will be overlooked.

Here are the Criteria Stats for the eight teams

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Duke Y 29-7 84-69 9.72 21.2 60.69
Florida St. Y 23-11 81-73 4.42 10.3 59.07
Kansas Y 30-7 81-71 8.26 5.3 61.50
Kansas St. Y 25-11 71-67 3.54 0.7 59.38
Loyola (Chi.) Y 31-5 72-62 9.80 6.8 51.89
Michigan Y 31-7 75-63 5.93 9.8 59.74
Texas Tech Y 27-9 75-65 5.13 14.5 60.35
Villanova Y 33-4 87-71 10.44 12.3 60.56

 

Here are the Detailed Criteria Matchups for the teams

Kansas St.  vs.  Loyola of Chicago

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kansas St. Y 25-11 71-67 3.54 0.7 59.38
Loyola (Chi.) Y 31-5 72-62 9.80 6.8 51.89
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kansas St. -3.17 7.94 5.75 2.78 56.4 52.9
Loyola (Chi.) 1.67 6.50 6.53 0.75 60.2 50.4

This is an interesting game, because history shows Kansas St. with criteria like this should come around as often as Halley’s Comet, while Loyola has a criteria that looks more like a Sweet 16 at best team.

Looking at the head-to-head stats, Loyola is superior in more of the key stats, but Kansas State has the big schedule strength advantage.  The outcome of this game will come down to whether the Wildcats can force the Ramblers into turnovers that they have not been committing so far in the Dance.  Loyola is playing confidently, and they have not been affected by the bright lights.  Assistant Coach Sister Jean may be the reason for that.

We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but our criteria will not allow us to pick a team with an R+T Rating barely above 0.  Kansas State cannot continue to get out-rebounded by large amounts (double digits against Kentucky) and rely on steals and three-point shots to win.  It might work two or three times, but asking to make the Final Four without being able to rebound or really shoot well is asking way too much.   They have a puncher’s chance to win this game and become the weakest rebounding team in Final Four history, but we are going to favor the team that is closer to complete.

PiRate Pick: LOYOLA of CHICAGO

 

Michigan vs.  Florida St.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Michigan Y 31-7 75-63 5.93 9.8 59.74
Florida St. Y 23-11 81-73 4.42 10.3 59.07
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Michigan 0.58 6.29 4.11 3.63 57.0 51.0
Florida St. 2.71 6.91 5.82 1.26 56.4 52.0

This looks like a complete toss-up game according to the statistics.  Both teams have favorable scoring margins, although Michigan’s is a bit better.  Both teams have decent true shooting percentage margins, R+T ratings, and Strengths of Schedule.  Florida State has the rebounding edge, but Michigan gets the turnover margin edge.

There is one secondary edge that the Wolverines have that the Seminoles lack.  The Maize and Blue have won 12 games in a row, and in that time, their rebounding has made a major leap forward.

PiRate Pick: MICHIGAN

 

Villanova vs. Texas Tech

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Villanova Y 33-4 87-71 10.44 12.3 60.56
Texas Tech Y 27-9 75-65 5.13 14.5 60.35
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Villanova 2.70 6.62 4.81 2.38 62.5 52.1
Texas Tech 4.11 7.19 5.94 2.67 55.8 50.7

Texas Tech has done an admirable job to get this far, and they will not go down without a fight, but their opponent has the criteria look of a Final Four team.  In fact, of the eight remaining teams, Villanova’s criteria best fits that of a Final Four team.

The Wildcats may eventually meet a team that is too strong on the boards for them to dominate on the scoreboard, but Texas Tech is most likely not that team.  The Red Raiders might win the rebounding numbers by a little, but we don’t think they can clean the glass, which is what it is going to take to stop VU.

PiRate Pick: VILLANOVA

 

Kansas  vs.  Duke

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kansas Y 30-7 81-71 8.26 5.3 61.50
Duke Y 29-7 84-69 9.72 21.2 60.69
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kansas 0.05 6.59 5.51 1.38 59.7 51.4
Duke 8.80 7.39 5.69 -0.39 58.8 49.1

What looks like the game of the Elite 8 Round may be exactly what has been advertised.  This should be an interesting game, because both teams have small Achilles’ Heels that a genius coaching staff and highly-skilled players can exploit.  Both teams have genius coaching staffs and highly-skilled players.

The glaring difference in this game is that Kansas’s liability is Duke’s biggest asset, whereas Duke’s liability is only a minor asset for KU.

PiRate Pick: DUKE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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