The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 22, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:33 pm

Sweet 16

Thursday, March 23
Team Team Red White Blue
Oregon Michigan -1 -1 -1
Gonzaga West Virginia 4 2 9
Kansas Purdue 4 4 1
Arizona Xavier 4 4 4


Friday, March 24
Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Butler 6 6 12
Baylor South Carolina 3 5 7
Kentucky UCLA 2 -1 1
Florida Wisconsin 5 4 -2


TV Schedule

Region Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Thursday, March 23
Midwest 7:09 PM CBS Oregon vs. Michigan
West 7:39 PM TBS Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Midwest 9:39 PM CBS Kansas vs. Purdue
West 10:09 PM TBS Arizona vs. Xavier
Friday, March 24
South 7:09 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Butler
East 7:29 PM TBS Baylor vs. South Carolina
South 9:39 PM CBS Kentucky vs. UCLA
East 9:59 PM TBS Florida vs. Wisconsin
Saturday, March 25
Midwest TBA TBA Oregon/Michigan vs. Kansas/Purdue
West TBA TBA Gonzaga/WVU vs. Arizona/Xavier
Sunday, March 26
South TBA TBA UNC/Butler vs. Kentucky/UCLA
East TBA TBA Baylor/S Car vs. Florida/Wisconsin




March 18, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:02 pm

Sunday, March 18, 2017

Team Team Red White Blue
Louisville Michigan 4 3 6
Kentucky Wichita St. 1 1 8
Kansas Michigan St. 11 8 1
North Carolina Arkansas 14 10 8
Oregon Rhode Island 7 6 4
Baylor USC 17 9 8
Duke South Carolina 6 6 5
UCLA Cincinnati 1 1 -1

TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:10 PM CBS Louisville vs. Michigan
2:40 PM CBS Kentucky vs. Wichita St.
5:15 PM CBS Kansas vs. Michigan St.
6:10 PM TNT North Carolina vs. Arkansas
7:10 PM TBS Oregon vs. Rhode Island
7:45 PM truTV Baylor vs. USC
8:40 PM TNT Duke vs. South Carolina
9:40 PM TBS UCLA vs. Cincinnati

Morning & Afternoon: Swallow Return to Capistrano

Spring Equinox: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 6:29 AM EDT



March 16, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Friday’s NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:39 am

NCAA Tournament–Friday, March 17, 2017

Team Team Red White Blue
Michigan Oklahoma St. -1 3 1
Baylor New Mexico St. 11 12 13
Arkansas Seton Hall 2 1 -1
Oregon Iona 11 12 10
Louisville Jacksonville St. 18 18 17
SMU USC 8 8 4
North Carolina Texas Southern 22 20 19
Creighton Rhode Island 4 1 2
Kansas UC-Davis 22 19 18
Dayton Wichita St. -7 -5 -1
Duke Troy 15 16 14
Cincinnati Kansas St. 2 5 2
Miami (Fla.) Michigan St. 1 2 -2
Kentucky Northern Kentucky 19 18 13
South Carolina Marquette 1 -1 1
UCLA Kent St. 16 14 10


TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:15 PM CBS Michigan vs. Oklahoma St.
12:40 PM truTV Baylor vs. New Mexico St.
1:30 PM TNT Arkansas vs. Seton Hall
2:00 PM TBS Oregon vs. Iona
2:45 PM CBS Louisville vs. Jacksonville St.
3:10 PM truTV SMU vs. USC
4:00 PM TNT North Carolina vs. Texas Southern
4:30 PM TBS Creighton vs. Rhode Island
6:50 PM TNT Kansas vs. UC-Davis
7:10 PM CBS Dayton vs. Wichita St.
7:20 PM TBS Duke vs. Troy
7:27 PM truTV Cincinnati vs. Kansas St.
9:20 PM TNT Miami (Fla.) vs. Michigan St.
9:40 PM CBS Kentucky vs. Northern Kentucky
9:50 PM TBS South Carolina vs. Marquette
9:57 PM truTV UCLA vs. Kent St.




March 11, 2017

Conference Tournament Update–Saturday, March 11, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:16 am

Joining The Field

You might be thinking, “Wait, there were no conference championship games Friday, so how could there be an addition to the automatic bid list?”

It is a technicality issue.  In the SWAC, Alcorn State is ineligible for postseason play, but they were eligible for the conference tournament.  The Braves have made it to the Championship Game of the SWAC Tournament, but they cannot receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Their opponent tonight is Texas Southern, the regular season SWAC champion.  The rules in the SWAC state that if the conference tournament champion is ineligible for the postseason, the regular season champion gets the automatic bid.  Thus, Texas Southern is in the Dance no matter what happens tonight in the conference championship game.

We rarely issue opinions on matters like this, but this one seems obvious.  The conference championship game is now meaningless, and leagues like the SWAC struggle to fill seats in tournament games if they do not put them on the home courts of the higher seeds.  This league does not include all their members in the conference tournament, yet they included an ineligible team.  It seems obvious that the SWAC should have kept Alcorn State out of the conference tournament and allowed Arkansas-Pine Bluff (one of two teams left out) to participate.  That at least would make the Championship Game mean something.

Today’s Schedule

All times Eastern Standard 

America East Conference Tournament Championship — Vermont Hosts
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Vermont 28-5 vs. 3 Albany 21-12 11:00 AM ESPN2

Vermont has a perfect America East record this year, now at 16-0, as they prepare to host Albany.  The last time these two teams met, Albany took a seven-point first half lead in Burlington, before the Catamounts clawed back into the lead in the second half.  The game was still close with less than four minutes remaining before a big closing run by VU produced a 12-point victory.  David Nichols kept Albany in that game with his three-point shooting, and if the Great Danes are to pull off the upset, they will need to be hot from behind the arc.  Vermont should win its 21st consecutive game and become a feisty lower-seed foe for a second round biggie.


American Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals–Hartford,CT
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 SMU 28-4 vs. 4 Central Florida 21-10 3:00 PM ESPN2
2 Cincinnati 28-4 vs. 6 Connecticut 16-16 5:00 PM ESPN2

One might think that SMU and Cincinnati have this tournament semifinals all wrapped up and will face off tomorrow in a rubber game to decide the conference tournament title winner.  Think again.  Central Florida and Connecticut are worthy competitors, and both teams have the ability to pull off upsets.

Cincinnati destroyed UConn both times they played, but the Huskies have a knack for becoming a different team in conference tournament play.  They looked like they were poised for a repeat performance after smashing a good Houston team and ending the Couagars’ hopes of an at-large bid.

Central Florida presents incredible matchup problems with 7-6 behemoth Tacko Fall able to alter gameplans all by himself.  UCF has won six consecutive games, and Coach Johnny Dawkins knows how to use Fall to suck defenders in so that his prime long-range shooters, Matt Williams, B J Taylor, and Nick Banyard, can get open looks.  UCF hit 14 three-pointers in their decimation of Memphis.


Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Championship–Brooklyn
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 Duke 26-8 vs. 3 Notre Dame 25-8 9:00 PM ESPN

Neither team was picked by most of the ACC media experts to make it to the championship game of this tournament.  Duke dropped Louisville and North Carolina to make it here, while Notre Dame took care of business against Virginia and Florida St.  Both teams are safely in the NCAA Tournament, so the two are playing for pride and a chance to move up one seed line in the Dance.  Duke won at Notre Dame in their only meeting this year, and this win occurred during Coach K’s absence with Jeff Capel guiding the team.  The Blue Devils had a hot streak in that game, hitting over 50% from the field and an amazing 23 of 24 at the foul line.


Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Semifinals–Pittsburgh (Duquense)
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9 Davidson 17-14 vs. 4 Rhode Island 22-9 1:00 PM CBSSN
2 VCU 25-7 vs. 3 Richmond 20-11 3:30 PM CBSSN

Nervous fans of teams on the Bubble will be watching this league the next two days.  With top-seed Dayton dismissed by Davidson, there are three teams left in this quartet that can burst some bubbles elsewhere.  Rhode Island may have already played itself in to the NCAA Tournament, but Richmond and Davidson must win the automatic bid.  This tournament should be must watch this afternoon if your team still needs some help.


Big 12 Conference Tournament Championship–Kansas City
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
4 Iowa St. 22-10 vs. 2 West Virginia 26-7 6:00 PM ESPN

They hit just 26.7% of their shots, and their press was not very effective yesterday, but West Virginia found a way to beat Kansas State, doing so by dominating on the glass.  Now, the Mountaineers go for the Big 12 Title against an Iowa State team that did not fare well against WVU in two previous tries.

In both games, the Cyclones wore out with fatigue from facing full-court pressure.  WVU went on big runs both times to win by double digits.  ISU might have more fatigue problems tonight, since this is their third game in three days.  The Mountaineers seemed to look a little tired as well last night, but Coach Huggins provided the adrenaline needed to get over the hump.


Big East Conference Tournament Championship–New York City
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Villanova 30-3 vs. 6 Creighton 25-8 5:30 PM Fox

Villanova already knows they will be a #1 seed as they attempt to defend their National Championship, but the Wildcats can secure the overall top-seed with a win over the Blue Jays this afternoon.  Both teams were down a key player when they met most recently, but VU has its key player back now in power forward Darryl Reynolds.  Reynolds has been pulling down the tough rebounds in his three games back, and the Wildcats once again have the look of a Final Four team.


Big Sky Conference Tournament Championship–Reno, NV
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 North Dakota 21-9 vs. 3 Weber St. 19-12 8:30 PM ESPNU

North Dakota swept the season series with Weber State, including the big win back in February that put the Fighting Hawks in control of the Big Sky race.  UND won with their incredible guard tandem of Quinton Hooker and Geno Crandall, and WSU will have to come up with an incredible defensive gameplan to keep UND out of the Big Dance.  The Hawks are hoping a convincing win can help them avoid a layover in Dayton.


Big Ten Conference Tournament Semifinals–Washington, DC
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
8 Michigan 22-11 vs. 4 Minnesota 24-8 1:00 PM CBS
2 Wisconsin 24-8 vs. 6 Northwestern 23-10 3:30 PM CBS

The four teams remaining will not hurt anybody else’s Bubble chances, as they will all receive Dance invitations, but there is still drama remaining in this tournament.  Michigan survived a travel nightmare just to get to this tournament.  Northwestern has never been a factor in this tournament and has not won a Big Ten title of any kind.  Meanwhile, it would make for a terrific championship game tomorrow if neighboring rivals Minnesota and Wisconsin played for the trophy.  It also would give the Big Ten a chance to move a team into the 4-seed line.


Big West Conference Tournament Championship–Anaheim
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 UC-Irvine 21-13 vs. 2 UC-Davis 21-12 11:30 PM ESPN2

The top two seeds split their two regular season meetings, but UC-Irvine thoroughly embarrassed UC-Davis when they met in Irvine last week with the regular season title on the line.  The Anteaters opened the game with a 22-3 lead, and the Aggies never threatened the rest of the way.  UCI connected on 14 treys in that game.


Conference USA Tournament Championship–Birmingham, AL
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Middle Tennessee 29-4 vs. 6 Marshall 20-14 8:30 PM CBSSN

This game might be the most exciting one of the entire day, and the fact that Middle Tennessee might already have done enough to lock up an at-large bid will not take anything away from the excitement this game promises.  Expect the shot clock to play very little factor in this game, as both teams like to push the tempo.

If you like to follow the Houston Rockets with James Harden, Lou Williams, and Eric Gordon playing like thoroughbred race horses, then Marshall is the team for you.  There is a good reason why the Thundering Herd plays like the Rockets, as they are coached by Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s brother.  The Thundering Herd run up and down the floor like UNLV from the 1970’s, but they have one huge Achilles’ Heel.  They cannot rebound very well.  Middle Tennessee is an average rebounding team, but the Blue Raiders swept Marshall in the regular season thanks to spreading the wealth around.  In their most recent game against the Herd, MTSU placed six players in double figures, while a seventh had nine points in a 97-86 win.  Get your popcorn and soda ready for this one, as it will give you two hours of pure viewing pleasure.


Ivy League Tournament Semifinals–Philadelphia
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Princeton 21-6 vs. 4 Penn 13-14 1:30 PM ESPNU
2 Harvard 18-9 vs. 3 Yale 17-10 4:00 PM ESPNU

We aren’t going to hide our joy over this tournament finally becoming a reality.  The Ivy League plays quality fundamental basketball.  If you play or coach at a lower level and must use sound principles and intelligence for your team to win, this is the league for you to watch.

Princeton aced the field this year with a perfect 14-0 league mark, and if the Tigers knock off rival Penn tonight and then win tomorrow, they should be a 13-seed in the Tournament with a somewhat decent chance to knock off the right type of 4-seed (not West Virginia or Cincinnati).  Having legendary rivals Harvard and Yale play in the second game just makes this inaugural affair perfect.

Harvard took Princeton to the wire in both games, but the Tigers handled the Bulldogs rather easily.  Few fans are giving Penn much chance in this tournament, but they are getting to host this thing at the Palestra, which should give the Quakers about 5-6 points in home court advantage.


Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship–Cleveland
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Akron 26-7 vs. 6 Kent St. 21-13 7:30 PM ESPN2

A February swoon cost Akron any chance of qualifying as an at-large team should they not win the MAC automatic bid.  Included in that fall was a three-point loss at home to Kent State, as the Golden Flashes put an end to the Zips’ 30-game home winning streak.  Akron recovered to win at Kent State last week, so this should be an interesting rematch and close to a 50-50 tossup.


Mideast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship–Norfolk, VA (Norfolk St.)
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 UNC-Central 24-8 vs. 2 Norfolk St. 17-15 1:00 PM ESPN2

UNC-Central has remained unnoticed among the nation’s basketball fans outside of the MEAC, but the Eagles have gone 15-2 in their last 17 games and fared rather well in its road games against the power conference teams.  Should UNCC win and then be forced to head to Dayton, the Eagles would most likely emerge victorious and advance, but a win today coupled with an upset somewhere else could be all that it takes to keep Central out of Dayton.  If Norfolk State pulls off the upset, they can send their laundry to Dayton on the next express out of Norfolk.  It does help that the Spartans get to play this game on their home floor.


Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship–Las Vegas (UNLV)
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Nevada 27-6 vs. 2 Colorado St. 28-6 6:00 PM CBS

These two teams squared off last Saturday in Reno with the top seed in this tournament on the line.  Nevada won by 13, controlling the tempo and going on a big 20-3 run in the middle of the game.  Nevada is a team without a glaring weakness, albeit not on the same page with Kentucky and Oregon.  The Wolf Pack have a lineup similar to SMU in that all five starters can play in the wing positions and can post up inside.  It reminds us a lot of Louisville during Denny Crum’s time when he had big-time stars like Junior Bridgman, Darrel Griffith, Jim Price, and Ron Thomas.

Colorado State plays a muscle power game and tries to grind opponents down.  The Rams rely on senior guard Gian Clavell to score points, and when his shots are off, CSU can struggle to score.  In the Rams’ favor tonight is the fact that they just played Nevada a week ago and know what they are going to face, as there has not been time to tweak the gameplans all that much.


Pac-12 Conference Tournament Championship–Las Vegas
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Oregon 29-4 vs. 2 Arizona 29-4 11:00 PM ESPN

Our Red-White-Blue Ratings that we will not publish today actually indicate that this game is a true tossup.  In fact, two of the ratings show the spread at 0!  The top two seeds met just once in the regular season, and Oregon used a 36-9 run in the first half to put the game away quickly.  The Ducks have the top home court advantage in America, so the 27-point margin of victory can be tossed out the window, and you can give the Wildcats a little more incentive to seek revenge tonight.  However, we think the Ducks have the better roster, and that gives Oregon the slight edge.


Southeastern Conference Tournament Semifinals–Nashville
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Kentucky 27-5 vs. 5 Alabama 19-13 1:00 PM ESPN
7 Vanderbilt 19-14 vs. 3 Arkansas 24-8 3:20 PM ESPN

Vanderbilt played its way into the NCAA Tournament with its third win over Florida.  The Commodores should be able to avoid a First Four game in Dayton as well.

Alabama has the potential to give Kentucky all it can handle.  Had the Tide hit their free throws in their one contest against the Wildcats, they could have won their regular season game in Tuscaloosa.  This is Nashville, and the last time we checked, Nashville was about halfway between these two schools’ campuses, but it will look more like Rupp Arena this afternoon as the Music City is crawling with Royal Blue clothed tourists up and down Broadway and in Hatty B’s Hot Chicken.

Arkansas and Vanderbilt played two close games this year, with the visiting team winning both times.  Since the Commodores won at Bud Walton, Arkansas has been a different team.  The Razorbacks have won seven of eight games, including a road victory over South Carolina.


Southland Conference Tournament Championship–Katy, TX (Greater Houston area)
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 New Orleans 19-11 vs. 2 Texas A&M-CC 20-10 9:30 PM ESPN2

Disclaimer: We cannot preview this game in an impartial manner.  We will not withhold the secret that we are rooting like crazy for Coach Willis Wilson to guide TAMCCU to the Big Dance.  A finer man in the coaching business does not exist, and Wilson has not been given the accolades that should have been afforded to him.  The Rice alum coached at his alma mater for 18 years, taking the Owls to the near edge of NCAA qualification only to come up a tad short, having to make do with the NIT.  Trying to win at Rice is extremely tough, as the high-academic standards and having to be the number two team in the city of Houston did not help the Owls recruit players to Main Street, where on a sunny day, more folks turn out to the zoo across the street than come to the Rice basketball games.

Wilson has built up the TAMCCU program to the point where the Islanders have made consecutive trips to the CIT, as Stephen F. Austin dominated the league under former coach Brad Underwood.  Tonight, the Islanders have their best shot at making the Dance, where they have been just once before, back in 2007.

New Orleans also has a nice story that needs to be told.  The basketball program shut down after the 2009-2010 season and stayed dark for two seasons before re-emerging as one of the final two teams to play as an independent (Cal State Bakersfield is the other).  The Privateers have had a somewhat storied history with a bevy of excellent coaches working in the Crescent City (Ron Greene, Butch van Breda Kolff, Bennie Dees, Tim Floyd, and Buzz Williams).  They have made it to four NCAA Tournaments, albeit none in the last 20 years, and they actually have won Dance win over BYU in 1987.  There will be emotions running wild on both sides tonight, so check this game out if only for a little bit of your time.


Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament Championship–Houston
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Texas Southern 22-11 vs. 2 Alcorn St. * 18-13 6:30 PM ESPNU
* Alcorn St. is ineligible for the postseason. Texas Southern earns automatic bid win or lose tonight.

We have already spoken about this game and the fact that it does not matter if TSU wins or loses, since they already own the automatic bid.  However, it will help the Tigers to win this game, because we believe they will definitely avoid Dayton with a win tonight, and they could be punished and sent to Dayton if they lose.

The game should be entertaining and nip and tuck, as TSU had difficulty beating Alcorn twice this year, once by a bucket, and once in overtime.  Unfortunately, the one player that might have made a difference for the Tigers against a power conference team, muscular forward and former SWAC POY Derrick Griffin, decided to leave school to prepare for the pro draft–not the NBA, but the NFL, where he stands a good chance of being drafted as a mighty big receiver target.


Sun Belt Conference Tournament Semifinals–New Orleans
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 UT-Arlington 25-7 vs. 4 Texas St. 19-12 12:30 PM ESPN3
2 Georgia St. 20-11 vs. 6 Troy 20-14 3:00 PM ESPN3

There are some Bracketologists that believe UT-Arlington will have done enough to get an at-large bid if they beat Texas State this afternoon and lose tomorrow, but 12 of our 13 Bracketology Gurus beg to differ.  The Mavericks are the team to beat in this tourney, but the other three teams don’t fear UTA.  In fact, Texas State and Troy both know they can beat the top seed, as they did so convincingly during the regular season.  Still, UTA is a team that defeated Saint Mary’s and had a double-digit lead at Arkansas before the Razorbacks nipped them in the final minute.  If the Mavericks win the automatic bid, it would not surprise us at all if they move up to a 12-seed, the one seed that has become the seed of upsets.


Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship–Las Vegas
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Cal St. Bakersfield 22-8 vs. 2 New Mexico St. 27-5 11:00 PM ESPNU

When we think of Bakersfield, we think of the “Bakersfield Sound” that produced stars like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Jean Shepard.  Our founder also thinks of some great Bakersfield Dodgers baseball teams in the Class A California League that produced future Dodgers stars like Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Doug Rau, Eric Karros, Pedro and Ramon Martinez, John Wetteland, and Mike Piazza.

Others might think of all the farmland in and around the area or the giant arch just off Highway 99.  Basketball does not come to mind when one thinks of Bakersfield.  Yet, the Roadrunners, under former Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes, are just one win away from making their second consecutive trip to the Big Dance.

It will be no cakewalk tonight for the top-seeded Roadrunners.  Their opponent is a formidable foe, and New Mexico State might even be considered the favorite in this game.  The teams match up favorably well, and this looks like a championship game where if they played a best of seven series, it would go seven games.

CSUB has one big disadvantage tonight.  The Roadrunners were forced to play an extra half last night, when Utah Valley took them to 4 overtimes.  The Roadrunners shot less than 30% from the field, gave up an astronomical 68 rebounds to Utah Valley, and they still won, because they forced the Wolverines into committing 28 turnovers and stole the ball 11 times.


PiRate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Update for Saturday AM

  1. Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga
  2. Kentucky, Oregon, Duke, Arizona
  3. Baylor, Louisville, West Virginia, Florida St.
  4. UCLA, Notre Dame, Butler, Minnesota
  5. Florida, Cincinnati, Iowa St., SMU
  6. Virginia, Purdue, Wisconsin, Creighton
  7. Maryland, Saint Mary’s, Michigan, Wichita St.
  8. Virginia Tech, Miami, Northwestern, VCU
  9. Arkansas, South Carolina, Dayton, Oklahoma St.
  10. Middle Tennessee, Marquette, Michigan St., Seton Hall
  11. Providence, Vanderbilt, Xavier, Wake Forest, USC
  12. UT-Arlington, UNC-Wilmington, Nevada, Kansas St., Syracuse
  13. Vermont, Princeton, Akron, Bucknell
  14. East Tennessee St., Florida Gulf Coast, New Mexico St., Winthrop
  15. Iona, Texas Southern, Northern Kentucky, UC-Irvine
  16. South Dakota St., UNC-Central, Jacksonville St., Texas A&M CC, North Dakota, Mount St. Mary’s

Last Four Byes

Seton Hall




Last Four In–Headed to Dayton

Wake Forest vs. USC

Kansas St. vs. Syracuse

First Four Out

Rhode Island–can jump into the field with a win Saturday

Illinois State


Alabama–we jumped the Tide up here, because they are the only team still playing with a chance to move up.  All others in this spot have no chance to make the field and have no games left to play (Illinois, Iowa, Houston, TCU, Georgia, Indiana)























February 15, 2017

The Best of the Best and Where They Might Be Vulnerable–2nd Edition

A month ago, we showed you a couple dozen top college basketball teams’ advanced statistics and then tried to examine through those stats where each team might be vulnerable.  We found vulnerability with every team to some extent, so it is obvious that there is no clear-cut favorite to win the NCAA Championship.  The days of UCLA having a 95% chance of winning the title have come and gone.  The team with the most chance of winning it all this year might have something like a 7-8% chance of winning it all, while up to 20 teams may have 4% chances of cutting down the nets at University of Phoenix Stadium in The Valley of the Sun.

In our second edition of the Best of the Best, we see only minor changes from before.  While we hope all of you regularly read our little project, we know this is not so.  Therefore, we will bring the newcomers up to speed on how we operate here on the PiRate ship.

First, we are math geeks.  We have linear and boolean algebra experts helping us out, and our founder is an amateur mathlete and a professional in baseball analytics.  Fret not; you do not have to know algebra to enjoy this site.  We have done all the calculations.  We will show you some of the formulas that we use to come to our conclusions, but it won’t be on the test.  You get an A+ if you just show up (maybe that’s why we don’t teach at Cal Tech or M.I.T.).

The PiRates are proponents of the Four Factors in basketball.  We have found that with a little different emphasis in each of the factors, this set of data can be applied to the NBA, College, High School, Middle School, and even the kids’ youth leagues (although if somebody is using Four Factors’ data to coach a 5th and 6th grade team, they need to reconsider why they are coaching at all).

The Four Factors can really be considered Eight Factors, because they can be used to rate teams’ offense and defense.  When you subtract the defensive factor from the offensive factor in each of the four stats, you get a Four Factors margin (just like when you subtract points per game allowed from points per game scored, you get scoring margin).

Here are the Four Factors.  If you just want this week’s results, skip down to “BEST OF THE BEST”

  1. Effective Shooting Percentage
  2. Turnover Rate
  3. Offensive Rebounding Rate
  4. Free Throw Rate

1. Effective Shooting Percentage: (FG+(0.5*3pt))/FGA

The difference between regular field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage is that you count all made three-pointers as 1.5 made field goals.  So, if a team hits 25 of 55 shots and makes 6 three-pointers, their EFG% is: (25+(6*.05))/55 which equals 50.9%.

The defensive equivalent uses the same formula, and the difference between the offensive and defensive EFG% is the EFG% margin.

2. Turnover Rate (TOV/100 Possessions not including offensive rebounds)

The TOV Rate is the number of turnovers committed per every 100 possessions (and forced per 100 possessions for the defensive factor).  You can accurately measure possessions in college basketball by using the following formula.

FGA+(.475*FTA)+TO-Off. Rebounds

However for TOV Rate, we remove the offensive rebounds because it skews the rate.  When a team gets an offensive rebound, they almost always get another shot attempt and do not hold the ball long enough to commit additional turnovers at the same rate that they do in a possession not involving an offensive rebound.

If a team commits 14 turnovers in a game in which they had 69 possessions but with 8 offensive rebounds, their TOV Rate for the game is: 14/61, which comes to 23%

3. Offensive Rebound Rate: (Off. Rebounds/(Off. Rebounds + Opponents’ Def. Rebounds)

This is basically the percentage of offensive rebounds a team retrieves off its own missed shots.  If a team has 35 total missed shots in a game where a rebound is then retrieved by one team or the other, and they finish with 8 offensive rebounds, their Offensive Rebound Rate is: 8/35, which comes to 22.9%.

The defensive counterpart to this is Defensive Rebound Rate.  If a team’s opponent has 38 total missed shots in a game where there were rebounds retrieved by one team or the other, and the opponent finished with 6 offensive rebounds, then the team’s defensive rebound rate is: 6/38, which comes to 15.8%.  The rebound rate margin would be: 22.9-15.8 or 7.1%.

If you count the two examples, in standard parlance the better rebounding team won the battle of the boards 40-33.

4. Free Throw Rate 

The basketball math experts disagree on how to calculate this rating.  Some believe that just getting fouled is all that matters, since each foul makes it one foul closer to an opposing player becoming disqualified.  Others believe that this rate should be the percentage of free throw attempts to field goal attempts.  Others say, it should be made free throws per field goal attempts.

We disagree with these beliefs.  These numbers can easily become skewed when a team plays enough close games with the lead in the final minutes.  Said team may not attempt another field goal, while the opponent fouls them on purpose to stop the clock and hope this team misses foul shots.

Let’s say Florida leads South Carolina, Alabama. Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Tennessee by a few points in every game as the clock reaches 2 minutes.  These other teams foul the Gators’ players on purpose in hopes that the shots will be missed, and they can come down the floor and hit buckets to win the game or force overtime.

At the same time, Kentucky plays these same five teams and leads by 20 with 2 minutes to play.  These opponents do not need to foul at this point, as the reserves are ready to come in and try to get in the scorebook.  Are we to believe that Florida is a more effective free throw shooting team, simply because their opponents can still win in the final 2 minutes, so they will purposely foul, while there would be no use in fouling Kentucky with the Wildcats up 20.

So, what is the answer?  We must admit that there is no way to fully eliminate the intentional fouling in multiple close games, but at least we reduce it as much as possible.  And, we use made free throws to at least show that it is important to make them, especially in those close games.

We go with: (FT/100 Possessionsand this time we include offensive rebounds, because defenses frequently foul following an offensive rebound.

If a team makes 17 foul shots in a game in which they had 71 possessions, their Free Throw Rate is 17/71, which is 23.9%.


Now What

We take the stats (offense and defense) for each team we evaluate.  We have an algorithm (formula) that we use that gives different weight to each of the factors.  The weights differ depending on whether it is NBA, NCAA, High School, Middle School, or Youth.  Turnover margin matters less in the NBA than it does in college, and it matters more the lower you go down, until by the time you reach the 5th and 6th grade, it is the most important factor of all (so if you coach 5th and 6th grade basketball, you should do what you can to force as many turnovers as possible and then create the fastest offense you can have so as not to commit too many turnovers–think about a 10-second offense).

Now, you should have picked up on the apparent weaknesses of the Four Factors for college basketball.  By now, you have probably thought that Gonzaga’s stats might look a lot better than Wisconsin’s stats, because the Bulldogs play a much weaker conference schedule than the Badgers.  We use the strengths of schedule for every team to adjust their factors to a point where we hope we have found a happy midpoint to show what each teams’ stats might be against average competition.

Also, think about a team that plays 18 home games, 4 neutral site games, and 9 road games, versus another team that plays 14  home games, 3 neutral site games, and 14 road games.  We adjust for this as well.

As a point of fact, we treat schedule strength and ability to win away from home (nobody plays at home in the Big Dance) as importantly as a good horse handicapper treats class in a horse race.  The mid-major and low-major teams are like claiming and allowance horses, while the power leagues are like stakes-racing horses.  North Carolina is the horse that runs in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, while Cal State Bakersfield is still a maiden until it wins its small track maiden claiming race at WAC Downs.  We know which horse is going to finish ahead of the other as long as it does not throw his jockey.  The stakes horse finishes 20 lengths ahead.


The last component in our best of the best look is something we trademarked at the PiRate Ratings.  R+T is a combination of rebounding, turnovers, and steals.  It reveals how many extra shooting opportunities a team might have against any type of opponent.  To have a really good R+T number, a team must be equally competent in rebounding, forcing turnovers while not committing many, and by getting steals.

The formula is: (Rebound Margin * 2) + (Steals per Game * 0.5) + (6 – Opponents’ Steals per Game) + (Turnover Margin)

If a team has an R+T rating better than 20, then they can overcome a cold shooting night and still win an NCAA Tournament game over a team with an R+T rating below 10.  If a team has an R+T rating in the 28-35 range, they will be very difficult to beat if they also come from a power conference and wins consistently away from home.  If you find a team from one of the top leagues with an R+T over 28 and said team wins 75% of its games away from home, you have a team that frequently wins four games and makes the Final Four.

To the contrary, if you find a team that looks really good on paper, and they have a gaudy won-loss record, but their R+T rating is under 8, watch out.  All it takes is one cold shooting night or one hot shooting night from the opponent. and this team can go home.

And, if you find a power league team with a negative R+T rating, give great consideration toward picking the Cinderella underdog to pull off the upset in the Big Dance.  A majority of the higher seed power conference teams with negative R+T ratings actually lose in their first tournament game.  It does not happen that often, but ask Georgetown fans about Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia Commonwealth.  Ask Vanderbilt fans about Siena, Richmond, and Murray State.  Ask Purdue fans about Arkansas-Little Rock.  In all these cases, the favorite had a lousy R+T rating, while the underdog had decent or even very good R+T ratings.  The low R+T teams can win in the regular season against lesser-quality teams, but in the Big Dance, that stuff doesn’t cut it.  It is vital to get extra scoring opportunities while limiting them to your opponents.

Now it’s time for the reveal.


We look at 28 teams this week.  As before, we have selected three mid-major teams as possible upset winners in an opening game if they get the right draw.  We do not include #1 Gonzaga as a mid-major.

We are listing these teams alphabetically.  The first four columns have already been adjusted using our algorithm.

Team FG TO OR FT SOS R+T Road  W-L% Poss/G
Arizona 3.3 0.1 1.1 1.0 57.8 18.3 75.00 66.9
Baylor 4.7 -0.4 1.4 0.3 61.7 17.3 72.73 65.6
Butler 1.8 1.0 0.1 0.2 60.4 9.4 66.67 67.7
Cincinnati 5.0 1.0 0.7 0.0 54.9 18.0 70.00 67.1
Creighton 5.6 0.5 -0.7 0.2 57.3 4.2 90.91 72.9
Duke 4.1 0.4 0.7 0.7 58.5 15.1 63.64 70.7
Florida 3.3 1.1 0.5 0.8 59.4 13.3 77.78 71.5
Florida St. 4.4 0.8 0.3 0.1 58.8 13.4 50.00 73.4
Gonzaga 8.5 0.5 0.6 0.7 54.3 20.1 100.00 70.9
Kansas 4.2 0.2 0.7 0.1 59.9 12.1 83.33 72.6
Kentucky 3.2 1.1 0.9 0.4 60.2 17.7 72.73 76.6
Louisville 3.7 1.0 1.2 0.1 61.0 19.9 66.67 69.6
Middle Tenn. 3.1 1.0 0.9 -0.3 50.9 16.3 84.62 66.3
North Carolina 2.1 0.8 2.6 0.6 59.1 31.6 61.54 74.2
Notre Dame 3.2 0.7 -0.4 0.3 58.1 5.2 54.55 68.7
Oklahoma St. 0.7 0.8 0.9 0.1 59.6 13.4 58.33 73.9
Oregon 5.2 0.6 0.7 0.5 58.4 15.6 63.64 69.6
Purdue 5.5 -0.3 1.3 0.8 56.6 18.0 72.73 71.2
SMU 3.9 0.5 2.2 0.7 54.0 26.7 63.64 63.7
South Carolina 2.4 1.3 0.5 -0.2 56.8 11.4 70.00 71.4
St. Mary’s 5.8 -0.2 2.0 0.3 54.0 20.7 90.00 60.4
UCLA 6.7 0.0 0.0 0.3 52.5 10.3 83.33 75.2
UNC-Wilm. 2.0 1.3 0.6 -0.3 50.2 12.4 73.33 72.7
Villanova 5.2 0.4 0.4 0.9 57.9 13.9 85.71 65.8
Virginia 5.3 1.1 0.9 -0.2 59.8 17.0 66.67 61.8
West Virginia 2.6 2.7 0.7 0.2 55.4 20.9 63.64 73.9
Wichita St. 5.5 1.0 1.5 0.5 49.8 23.6 75.00 70.5
Wisconsin 3.3 0.8 1.8 0.4 54.1 22.4 72.73 65.9


Arizona: The Wildcats do not have the look of a Final Four contender at this point.  They do not have a glaring weakness, but their strengths lack muscle.  Their TO and OR numbers would be adequate if they had a better EFG% margin, but teams with their resume seldom win four games in the NCAA Tournament.  They do have a decent road win-loss record, and it includes a win at Pauley Pavilion.

Baylor: The Bears are very vulnerable to pressure defenses, as their game against West Virginia showed.  BU turns the ball over just a little too much and then does not force many turnovers on their defensive end.  A strong schedule predicts that they should slide through to the Sweet 16, but after that point, any pressure defense from a quality team is going to make the going tough for BU.

Butler: In December and early January, it looked like this Bulldog edition could contend for a deep run in the Dance.  Now, it looks more like Butler could be a team to watch out for an opening game upset.  They might handle pressure defenses better than most other tournament teams, but the Bulldogs lack enough rebounding strength and do not shine in the EFG% department.  It may be a stretch for this team to make the Sweet 16, and it is 50-50 as of now whether they can get to the Round of 32 if they fall to a 5-seed.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats are somewhat of a mystery.  They looked like an Elite 8 team and Final Four contender until they took a trip to Dallas, where SMU stopped the UC offense and won an ugly contest.  It’s a good bet that the Bearcats and Mustangs will meet again in the AAC Championship Game.  If Cinti enters the Big Dance playing at their peak, then the Bearcats should move on to the Sweet 16 with a chance to advance past that if they get a good draw and do not have to face a North Carolina, Villanova, Florida, or Oregon, teams with the right type of offense to hurt the Bearcats.

Creighton: This one is cut and dry.  The Blue Jays look like a team that will lose its first game in the NCAA Tournament.  They do not rebound the ball well enough to advance, and their R+T is the lowest of the 28 teams we have featured today.  We expect Creighton to go home quickly in the Dance, and a team like Monmouth, Wichita State, Middle Tennessee, or Bucknell could possibly dominate them in the Round of 64.

Duke: Coach K is back on the sideline, and there is going to be some silent gossip going around that he might be thinking about retiring.  So, his players might pick up on this and play the best they can play.  It won’t take much for this team to move into the Final Four discussion.  Duke is a better version of Arizona this season.  The Blue Devils’ numbers are just enough better to move from a Sweet 16 to an Elite 8 and better team.  The one thing that bothers us is that Duke has not always been sharp away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Florida: A month ago, we considered Florida a two and out team at best.  The Gators have started to turn things around this year, and their numbers are improving as the season continues.  They are not West Virginia when it comes to pressure defense, but they are better than most of the rest in that regard.  A dominant rebounding team may give the Gators fits.  An exceptional record away from home and a tough schedule indicates that the Gators are a force to be reckoned with and a Final Four contender this year.

Florida St: The Seminoles have begun to swoon a bit, and with every successive road game in the ACC, they look more vulnerable than the previous game.  Winning big at home and then losing on the road does not lead to a lot of success in the NCAA Tournament.  However, a few well-timed ACC road wins and a run in the ACC Tournament could give FSU a resume not that different than that of Duke..

Gonzaga: In case you didn’t know, technically a West Coast Conference team has won the NCAA Championship before.  When San Francisco won back-to-back championships in 1955 and 1956, they were a member of the California Basketball Association, which would be renamed the West Coast Athletic Conference in 1957.  This Bulldog team is different from others that did not make the Final Four, namely they are quite strong defending in the paint and then preventing offensive rebounds.  Opponents do not shoot the ball with much success against the GU defense, while the Bulldogs have a strong shooting offense.  However, they have yet to face a really quality pressure defense, and they could be somewhat vulnerable to a West Virginia, Florida, or even a South Carolina.

Kansas: This is not Bill Self’s best Kansas team, but if you watch this Jayhawk team play, you can see a winning attitude, where KU seems to find a way to win games.  A strong schedule and very successful road record tells us that Self definitely has a Final Four contender.  We think that the Jayhawks will meet their match in an Elite 8 matchup, because teams with this resume seldom get lucky more than once, and KU may need a little luck against other power teams.

Kentucky:  Don’t underestimate John Calipari’s ability to get a bunch of 5-star players to play cohesively as a team.  It isn’t easy.  The Wildcats could easily become a group of future first round picks that do not hustle, and even let up so as not to suffer an injury just before the draft.  Then again, this team has had bouts of inconsistency.  When the players are on their game, there are few teams (maybe no other teams) that can match up with them on talent alone.  When they are acting like they have ADHD, they are vulnerable even to mediocre .500 teams.  We won’t dismiss, Cal’s kids, because their resume says they have Final Four numbers.  They also have the fastest pace of any team that will be in the Dance, and they could wear opponents down.

Louisville: A little dissension can become a lot of dissension in a hurry, and recent troubles involving players on this team could come back to hurt the Cardinals.  UL looked like a team headed to Spring Break in their loss to Virginia when not at full strength.  When they are on their game, they are the best team in the Commonwealth, and that says they are a Final Four contender.

Middle Tennessee: The top mid-major team will not be overlooked this year, when they trounced Michigan State in the opening game last year.  The Blue Raiders are a better team in 2017 than they were in 2016, so it is not unthinkable to say they are a sweet 16 contender.  Their pressure man-to-man defense creates a lot of turnovers with easy scoring opportunities thanks to some quick perimeter players.  Their big liability is their schedule strength, as it is too low for a team to think about advancing past the sweet 16.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels looked like the best team by far back before New Year’s.  They still look like one of the best, but their EFG% margin has fallen a bit too much, while their incredible rebounding prowess has weakened a little.  We are not saying that UNC is doomed to lose in a big upset, but we are saying they could fall in a mild upset, but not until the Elite 8 round.  If we had to choose one team with the absolute best resume of a national champion, North Carolina would be surely be one of those teams in the discussion thanks to the Heels owning the best R+T rating; they are the only team with an R+T in excess of 28.  It will take a team that can shoot lights out from outside and put up a good fight inside to beat UNC, but there are a half-dozen or so teams this year that can do it.

Notre Dame: For the same reason as Creighton, we do not see a deep run for the Fighting Irish this year.  They cannot hold their own on the backboards, and they do not dominate teams in the field goal department.  and, they are not a team capable of forcing a lot of turnovers.  Their current R+T is the second worst in this field.  They do not look like a sweet 16 team.

Oklahoma St.: Brad Underwood was not supposed to get the Cowboys to the Dance in year one in Stillwater.  We’re not sure this OSU team could beat Underwood’s Stephen F. Austin team from last year, but the Cowboys have improved their resume the most in the last month.  If they continue to improve, then they will be a dangerous team in mid-March.  When Underwood gets his type of player on campus, watch out!

Oregon: Which Oregon team will show up in March–The team that beat Arizona by a million points, or the team that blew a 19-point lead to UCLA?   If basketball were all about shooting and defending the shot with no rebounding or turnovers, the Ducks would be a national title contender.  Still, this team would not surprise us if they cruise to the sweet 16 and survive to the elite 8 like last year.

Purdue: In past years, Gene Keady coaching tree members have under-performed in the NCAA Tournament, and they all share something in common.  These coaches stress half-court defense and prefer not to pressure the ball and play in the passing lanes.  They train their players to play smart and not take many chances, trying to win a game one possession at a time.  These coaches should have become football coaches.  In the NCAA Tournament, a team needs to have a way to get extra shooting opportunities, when they run up against an opponent that can shoot better than they can.  Purdue has its best chance in a long time to break that bad streak this year, not because the Boilermakers can force a lot of turnovers (which they cannot).  PU is such a dominating rebounding team that they can get those extra chances by taking multiple shots per possession.  We think PU has its best shot to get past the first weekend to the sweet 16 and maybe elite 8.  Still, the Boilermakers are not in the same class with the final four contenders.

SMU: Tim Jankovich served as an assistant under multiple NCAA Tournament coaches including two that have championship rings–Bill Self and Larry Brown.  Jankovich has a sleeper in Dallas this year.  SMU excels in all four phases of the game.  A schedule that is on the lower side of strength when compared to ACC, Big 12, and SEC teams, and a road record that is not indicative of winning 4 NCAA Tournament games probably foretells an exit in the Sweet 16 or round of 32.

South Carolina: Just getting to the NCAA Tournament after a long drought should be enough for Gamecock fans this year.  USC does not possess a Final Four resume, and it is debatable if what they have is strong enough to predict a sweet 16 appearance.  Their R+T is 11.0, which is okay in the first game and better than average for a second game, but the entire range of data puts them in the same boat as Arizona.

St. Mary’s: In a typical year, the Gaels might be considered the darling of the best of the rest conferences.  SMC has advanced to the sweet 16 before, and it would not be a major shock if they do so again this year with an incredible defense, a decent group of rebounders, and a tough road team.  Like Gonzaga, they do not have an overwhelmingly strong schedule.

UCLA: The Bruins can shoot an opponent out of a gym in two minutes, but other than that, they do not shine in the other departments.  They play better on the road than they do at home, and they play at a pace that can cause a lot of problems for teams that do not have a lot of depth or conditioning.  However, in the Big Dance, most teams have ample supplies of both as well as competent defenses.  Because UCLA cannot rebound or force turnovers well enough, this does not look like their year.  A run to the sweet 16 could be bumpy, and if they sons of Westwood make it that far, they should be an underdog in that game.

UNC-Wilmington: The Seahawks are starting to fade, and now it is only a 50-50 chance they will win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA field.  A month ago, they were on par with Middle Tennessee as the top mid-Major threat.  This is the one team in this field that is hurt by fouling too much, and it comes because the players are getting hurt when opponents break their pressure defense.  Still, UNCW could recover and be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.  They have the confidence.

Villanova: The last team to repeat as National Champions was Duke in 1992 and 1993.  Before that, you have to go back to UCLA in 1967-68-69-70-71-72-and 73.  The Wildcats could be the next one to do it, because this team is even better than last year’s champion.  VU wins on the road against quality competition, and while they are not exceptionally strong in the R+T department, they are adequate.  The Wildcats will have trouble with a Kentucky, West Virginia, or even against a Middle Tennessee or Wichita St.  However, we expect VU to be in the elite 8 with a chance to make it back to the Final Four.

Virginia: Teams that play like Virginia seldom win the NCAA Tournament.  They always seem to run up against a team that can score on a couple of cheap baskets, and they cannot make up the difference in the remaining amount of time.  UVA has good numbers in all but their free throw rate.  The Cavaliers have played a tough schedule, but we do not believe they can win four games against NCAA Tournament-caliber teams.  We expect the Cavs to be put out as early as the second game and most likely in the sweet 16.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers are going to embarrass their early round opponents, possibly winning their first two games by a combined 50 points.  Then, they are going to run into trouble in either the sweet 16 or elite 8, when they face a team that does not wilt to their defensive pressure and one that can dominate them on the glass.  WVU’s biggest liability is that they don’t shoot the ball all that well.  They can still beat an average team while having an awful shooting night, because they can get 10 extra good shooting opportunities.  A team like Kentucky or North Carolina will turn the tables and embarrass the Mountaineers.

Wichita St.: The Shockers shocked the world with a Final Four trip and then shocked the world the following year by going undefeated in the regular season with a team that looked like it could contend for the title.  WSU ran up against an underrated Kentucky team that advanced to the national title game.  This year’s team is somewhere in between those two teams from their past.  Coach Greg Marshall has a team with no apparent weakness.  The only fly in the ointment is that this team has played a weak slate, and it is going to come back to haunt them when they face a power conference opponent like Duke or Baylor.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are the Midwest version of Arizona this year.  They have decent numbers in all respects, and they have played well on the road.  However, the Big Ten is definitely down this year.  We do not see a repeat of a couple years ago for the Badgers.  UW is no better than a sweet 16 team for now.



February 6, 2017

The Pirate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Report For February 6, 2017

In the height of the Vietnam War, a slogan went around the nation that became a bumper sticker and was emblazoned on t-shirts. It went, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?” The slogan became so popular that it became a movie starring Tony Curtis and a cast of popular actors and actors from the late 1960’s.

Suppose they gave a 68-team tournament and 50 teams not deserving of the honor accepted invitations? While the former slogan led to a funny movie, the latter slogan will lead to a diluted NCAA Tournament this season. Back in the 1960’s, there was no set number of teams invited to the NCAA Tournament, or as this writer remembers it, “The UCLA Invitational.” The tournament would invite 22, 23, 24, or 25 teams in those days, depending on how many they felt deserved the invitations. You had automatic qualifiers from the major conferences of the day, which numbered about 17, and then there were about 50 independent teams.

In some years, just five independents had resumes worthy of playing in the tournament. In others, a dozen teams were worthy, but the NCAA maxed out the number at 25, so only eight of the dozen received bids.

The best conferences, by virtue of their won-loss record in the most previous tournaments, received byes in advance of the tournament selection, meaning they began in the Sweet 16. The ACC, Big Ten, Big Eight, SEC, and Pac-8 (AAWU) basically retained byes every year, whereas the Southwest Conference, Missouri Valley, Southern, Middle Atlantic and other strong conferences of the day had to begin in an opening round (play-in) to make the Sweet 16.

There were many years when top 10 teams did not get into the NCAA Tournament, and even a year where the arguably number two team did not get in. Only the conference champions made the NCAA Tournament of that time, and a number two team many times was good enough to be a Final Four contender but had to settle for the NIT or nothing at all.

In 1971, Southern Cal went 24-2 with multiple future NBA stars on their roster. Unfortunately, the two Trojan losses came to number one UCLA. USC stayed home in the postseason as a top 5 team.

The NCAA Tournaments in those days had its share of blowout games, especially when UCLA played their Sweet 16 game. The old PCAA or WCAC (two leagues that no longer exist) provided fodder for the Bruins. Frequently, the opponent would stall in the pre-shot clock days, but it did not matter, as the Bruins would win 50-39 over a lightweight that never had a chance.

What can we take from the current and the past and plan something better for the future? The 1971 USC’s should not have been punished for being the possible second best team in the nation and not having a postseason to continue playing. However, inviting a team that finished in the bottom half of their league standings to the tournament is just as wrong. Why invite a team that goes 7-11 in league play and finishes the regular season at 19-14? This team doesn’t even deserve to be in the NIT.

There are roughly 20 teams every year that really deserve to be on the national stage when the title is on the line. Sure, you have your upsets, but when a #15 upsets a #2, all that has done has removed a really good team from the later part of the tournament. The #15 almost always goes down by a large number in the next game.

And, yes, a George Mason, Butler, and Virginia Commonwealth makes a deep run every five or so years. So, there are some good low-major teams that occasionally deserve to be on display.

How best can the fans and teams be serviced so that the really good teams do not have to go through a gauntlet of low-major opponents, but at the same time, have a system in place that allows the low majors to compete?

We at the PiRate Ratings have been toying with an idea for a couple of years, refining it a little each year. Here is how we believe the tournament could be changed to make it more exciting for the low major teams, while at the same allows the major conference teams to face off without having to go through a low-major opponent first.

Here’s how we would do it, and it would add four additional teams to bring the total to 72:

Divide the NCAA Tournament into two brackets
1. An upper bracket with the 24 best teams from the major conferences (AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC). The national champion has come from teams in these conferences every year since UNLV won in 1990.

2. A lower bracket that includes the 25 conference champions from the remaining conferences plus the 23 best remaining teams, regardless of their conference.

3. The upper bracket 24 would play one round to reduce to 12 teams, each seeded 1-2-3 in one of the four regionals

4. The lower bracket 48 would be seeded into 4, 12-team sections or subregionals to the upper bracket regionals. The top four teams in each subregion would receive byes to the second round, while the 5-12 teams in the four regions would play in the first round.

5. The four regions would go from 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1.

6. The winners of the four regions would then join the 12 upper bracket winners to make the Sweet 16.

7. Each region would have one “cinderella” and three power conference teams remaining.

8. The power 24 would have to win five times to become the national champion, while the other 48 would have to win seven or eight games depending on seed, but at least four of these teams would now make the Sweet 16 every year and win three or four tournament games.

Let’s use some pretend teams as an example for the 2019-20 season.
Let’s say that Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 and enters the Big Dance at 30-4. They are seeded #1 in the Midwest Regionals in Kansas City. At the same time, Virginia finished in fourth place in the ACC with an overall 26-8. They are seeded #6 in the Midwest. Oklahoma State and Virginia would face off, and the winner would advance to the Sweet 16. The #2 and #5 teams and #3 and #4 teams would play in this same region in a triple header. The other three regions would do the same #1 vs. #6, #2 vs. #5, and #3 vs. #4.

A week earlier, the lower bracket would start play. Let’s say your team is the Summit League champion South Dakota who finished the regular season as probably the best low major team with an overall record of 31-3. They are seeded number one in the lower bracket Midwest Sub-region. They get a bye, while #5 seed Northern Iowa (25-9) plays #12 seed UT-Arlington (an upset winner in the conference tournament and just 14-18 overall). Northern Iowa then trounces UTA and advances to play South Dakota. South Dakota proceeds to beat Northern Iowa. They follow it up with two more victories over mid-majors to win the Midwest Sub-region and advance to the Sweet 16. They face Oklahoma St. in the next round.

We have heard other possibilities like moving the top 8 conferences into a super league with the top 16 teams from this group facing off in playoffs similar to the NBA playoffs. How would you like a best of 7 North Carolina-Kansas finals instead of one game? Might a 7-game series between these two teams or Kentucky vs. Villanova, UCLA vs. Duke, or any other series final between dynasty schools shatter all types of viewer records?

Back to the present–the above is just a pipe dream, but sometimes the dreamers create something incredible for the world. Let’s look at the 2017 NCAA Tournament contenders. Conference Championship Fortnight is fast approaching.

America East
Vermont 10-0/20-5
Stony Brook 8-2/13-10
UMBC 7-3/16-7

The Vermont winning streak has now stretched to a dozen games following two double-digit victories during the week. The Catamounts close with four home games, one road game against a weak conference foe, and one road game against UMBC. If they win out to improve to 29-5 by Selection Sunday, it would not be a push to see the Catamounts seeded as high as 11. They have no major wins, but they competed against teams that will be in the Dance.

Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast 8-1/19-6
Lipscomb 7-2/15-11
South Carolina St. 5-4/15-11
North Florida 5-4/10-16
Kennesaw St. 5-4/11-14

The top two teams have pulled away from the pack with a couple of really good weeks of actions. FGCU has won five games in a row, while Lipscomb’s winning streak is now four games. FGCU has the best defense in the league, while Lipscomb has the best offense. The Eagles have been here before and even made the Sweet 16 under former coach Andy Enfield. As for the Bisons, they have made the NIT and CIT in the past, but the last time they played for a chance to win the national title was win they were the Duke of the NAIA.

Big Sky
Weber St. 9-1/14-7
Eastern Washington 8-3/16-8
North Dakota 8-3/13-8
Idaho 7-4/12-10

Weber St. has now won 12 of 13 games, and if they keep winning and earn the automatic bid, the Wildcats may be able to avoid having to begin in Dayton. Weber St. leads the nation in 3-point percentage at 43.1%, and they don’t lead by taking a conservative amount of bombs. They make almost 10 per game. Senior guard Jeremy Senglin has hit close to half of his three-pointer, and he leads the Wildcats with a 21-point average. A weak rebounding frontcourt will doom WSU against the big boys, and you can never fully count on three-point shooting to carry you through a conference tournament, so keep an eye on the other contenders in this league.

It counts as just one win, but Eastern Washington comes off an historic record-breaking night. The Eagles met Portland State Saturday and played a triple overtime affair that ended with a 130-124 victory. Teammates Jacob Wiley and Bogdan Bliznyuk did something that may never again be replicated: they both scored 45 points in the game, while combining for 27 rebounds. They also both played 53 of a possible 55 minutes, and EWU could be vulnerable in the second half of their next game at North Dakota on Thursday. Second place will be on the line.

Big South
Winthrop 10-2/18-5
UNC-Asheville 10-2/18-7
Liberty 10-2/15-10

What was once an automatic given that UNC-Asheville would win the conference in both the regular season and the postseason conference tournament has now become anything but that. This is the best three-team race in the low-major conferences, and there is no clear choice as to which team is best. UNCA still has home games with the other two contenders, so the Bulldogs may have a slight advantage for the top seed. In this league, the number one seed gets to play at home throughout the tournament.

Big West
UC-Davis 6-2/14-9
UC-Irvine 6-3/13-12
Cal State Northridge 6-4/10-13
Hawaii 5-4/11-11 is ineligible

No Big West team has played consistently enough to make much noise in the Big Dance this year. UC-Davis lost to a 6-win Cal Poly team last week. Irvine has dropped three games in a row. Northridge fell at home to a Hawaii team that all of a sudden looks like the best team in the league but one that cannot compete for the bid due to ineligibility. Senior guard Noah Allen has been hot as of late, scoring at a better than 23 points per game clip in the most previous seven contests.

UNC-Wilmington 10-2/21-4
College of Charleston 10-2/19-6
Elon 7-5/15-10
Towson 7-5/15-10
William & Mary 7-5/13-10

A couple weeks ago, UNCW was close to earning a spot on the bubble if they needed an at-large invitation to the Dance. However, the Seahawks have hit a rough patch, losing by 18 at William and Mary, and then dropping a home game to Charleston due to a late defensive lapse that allowed Charleston to get a basket and foul shot at the end to win the game.

Now, this has become a definite one-bid league. Neither Wilmington nor Charleston can improve their resumes enough to move into contention to become a bubble team. In fact, neither co-leader can be considered a heavy favorite to win the conference tournament, because there is some quality in the next group of teams, as William and Mary’s domination of Wilmington proves.

Conference USA
Middle Tennessee 10-1/20-4
Louisiana Tech 8-3/16-8
Old Dominion 7-4/14-9
UAB 7-4/14-10

Middle Tennessee was in the same, or even better, boat as UNCW. If the Blue Raiders had won out in the regular season, there would have been a fair chance that they could have still gotten into the field of 68 if they had been upset in the CUSA Championship Game. Losing to UTEP has basically popped MTSU’s bubble. If they want another chance to upset a big team like they did last year when they raced past Michigan State, they will have to win the conference tournament.

This year, there is a lot of quality talent all the way down to the 10th place team, so the conference tournament is going to be quite interesting. Keep and eye on two teams well back in the pack that could gel into winning units in March. Marshall tends to wear teams down in the second halves of games, and they could take advantage of their helter-skelter philosophy against an inferior conditioned opponent in the semifinals and finals of the tournament. Western Kentucky has under-performed to date, and the Hilltoppers could decide to put it together when they arrive in Birmingham for the conference tourney.

Valparaiso 9-2/19-5
Green Bay 9-3/15-9
Oakland 8-4/18-7

Here is one more league where the leader was positioning for at-large contention, but like the previous two conference leaders, Valpo went down hard at Green Bay on Saturday, losing by 17 points. If the Crusaders win out from here but lose in the Horizon League Championship Game, they would be 28-6 with one win over a team that was in the top 25 (Rhode Island) at the time they played. A case could be made for Valpo, but we believe politics would send a power conference team into the Dance ahead of the Crusaders.

Princeton 5-0/12-6
Yale 5-1/13-6
Harvard 4-2/12-7
Columbia 4-2/10-9

Mark it down–the four top teams above have basically already clinched the four spots in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament at the Palestra in Philadelphia. There is still time for the two-loss teams to catch Princeton for the top seed, but it really matters very little how the four teams will be seeded on a neutral floor that will not have the home team Penn Quakers present. The winner of the automatic bid should be a quick out this year, as none of the Ivy League teams have exceptional and experienced talent. Harvard has the most talent, but their top two players are inconsistent freshmen.

Metro Atlantic
Monmouth 11-2/19-5
Iona 9-4/16-8
Saint Peter’s 8-5/12-11
Canisius 7-6/14-10
Siena 7-6/10-14

This year’s Monmouth team is a little less talented overall than the one that deserved to be an at-large team last year. However, the 2017 Hawks may get the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament as the MAAC champion, when last year’s team was capable of winning a game or two or three. This year’s team would have to be hitting on all cylinders to win a game.

The path to the Dance is not a simple one for Coach King Rice and his team. Their old nemesis, Iona, is playing the best basketball of any league team at this time, and Monmouth still has to pay a visit to New Rochelle, where Monmouth ended a long Gael home winning streak last year. Iona then won at Monmouth and beat Monmouth again in the MAAC Tournament finals.

St. Peter’s has given Monmouth fits this year. The Peacocks bested Monmouth by 10 in Jersey City, and they almost completed the sweep before losing in OT at Monmouth Friday night.

Akron 9-1/19-4
Ohio 6-4/14-7
Ball St. 6-4/14-8
Northern Illinois 6-4/14-9
4 others at 5-5

Akron is the favorite to win the conference tournament, but the Zips are only marginal favorites in a league where teams from just off the lead tend to win the conference tournament. The team nobody wants to see in its bracket is Central Michigan, because if the Chippewas are hot, they can shoot teams out of the gym in a matter of a couple minutes. No other Division I team in recent memory has had two 5-9 guards in the starting lineup. Also, no other DI has had a player averaging over 30 points per game and another at more than 20 per game. In CMU’s case, the two 5-9 guards are the two high scorers in question. Marcus Keene tops 30 points per game, while Braylon Rayson tops 20. Keene has the lone 50-point game in NCAA play this year.

Mideastern Athletic
North Carolina Central 7-1/16-6
Morgan St. 7-2/10-12
Norfolk St. 7-2/10-13
Savannah St. 7-3/10-13 is ineligible

UNC-Central and Norfolk St. continued to extend lengthy winning streaks last week, with UNCC’s hitting seven games and NSU’s reaching six. We believe that UNC-Central has the capability of pulling off a major upset in the NCAA Tournament if they can win the conference tournament and move up to a #15 or even #14 seed. The Eagles play tough half-court defense; they hold their own on the boards for a team that is more of a ball-hawking defense. Most of all, they have held their own against power conference teams, winning at Missouri and almost winning at Ohio State and LSU.

Mountain West
Boise St. 8-3/15-7
Nevada 7-3/18-5
Colorado St. 7-4/15-9
New Mexico 7-5/14-10

Leon Rice is a poor man’s Mark Few. The Boise State coach has made the Broncos a consistent big winner in his seven years in The Potato Republic. Had the Broncos been able to hold onto a lead against Oregon earlier in the season, they could be on the bubble, as they did beat SMU in the pre-conference schedule.

Nevada was 16-3 a couple weeks ago, which included a double-digit win at Boise State, but the Wolfpack have cooled off in the last fortnight. Coach Eric Musselman does not look like a former NBA head coach due to his height (5-7) and his weight (150), but he makes up for it with his brain (Einsteinian). When Musselman left assistant positions at Arizona State and LSU, the teams regressed quite a bit from the way they were when he was there. In just a year and a half in the biggest little town in America, the biggest little coach has proven that he is ready for a big contract reward at a big power conference school.

Mount St. Mary’s 10-2/12-13
St. Francis PA 8-4/11-12
Fairleigh Dickinson 8-4/10-13
Long Island 7-5/14-11

It will be close to a miracle if the eventual champion of this league avoids an opening round game in Dayton. At the moment, the top of the league is swooning, while the middle of the pack is gaining. It should make for an excellent conference tournament that is up for grabs, but it also should make for a quick exit for the eventual champion when the center jump circle logo changes from NEC to NCAA. Although the tournament is played at the higher seeded home courts, the home court advantanges in this league are not all that advantageous.

Ohio Valley
Belmont 11-0/17-4
Morehead St. 7-3/11-12
UT-Martin 7-4/17-9
Jacksonville St. 7-4/15-11
Murray St. 6-4/12-12

Belmont has run away with the regular season race, as the Bruins have a commanding 3 1/2 game lead in their division. The Bruins have won 13 games in a row, and their four losses are to Vanderbilt, Florida, Rhode Island, and Middle Tennessee. Belmont cannot get in as an at-large team, as they have not beaten a top 50 team. The Bruins have outscored their conference foes by more than 13 points per game, so it will take either a monumental effort by a rival or a total collapse by the Bruins (and maybe both) for another team to get the automatic bid. The Bruins know how to get to the Dance; they have been there seven times in the last 11 years. One of these years, they are going to upset somebody with their hot inside-outside shooting. Belmont has led both Duke and Virginia in the second half of NCAA Tournament games, and they have won at North Carolina, so they will not feel intimidated in the Dance.

Bucknell 10-1/18-6
Boston 8-4/13-11
Navy 8-4/13-11
Lehigh 7-5/13-10

Like Belmont, Bucknell has been the dominant team in their league. Additionally, the Bison have two NCAA first round wins (Arkansas and Kansas) in this century. This year, Bucknell has wins at Vanderbilt and at home against Richmond, but that is not enough to merit at-large consideration.

Lehigh beat Bucknell in Lewisburg, so the home court advantage that goes to the top seed is not that strong. In fact, Bucknell has been the top seed five times in the last six years and only twice won the conference tournament. Overall, the top seed has won just half of the conference tournaments in this century.

Furman 9-2/16-8
East Tennessee St. 8-2/18-5
Chattanooga 8-3/17-6
UNC-Greensboro 8-4/17-8

This league is undervalued this year. The top four contenders all have enough talent to get past a higher-seed in the Round of 64, and it would not be a major surprise if the SoCon representative sneaks into the Sweet 16.

ETSU has the resume of the team with the most chance of winning in the Big Dance, as the Buccaneers have no real weaknesses. Coach Steve Forbes, a former assistant to Bruce Pearl at Tennessee, has his team playing with the same hustle that made the Volunteers an SEC power during his time in Knoxville. ETSU has a nice rebounding advantage over their opponents, but the key to their exceptional defense and fast break comes from the pressure defense that allows the Bucs to steal eight passes a night.

Chattanooga has not yet played up to its potential, as former star Casey Jones has not returned to the form that made him the best player in the league prior to a season-ending injury last year. At the time, Jones had an unbelievable 6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. This year, he has more turnovers than assists.

Sam Houston St. 8-3/17-7
New Orleans 8-3/13-9
Stephen F. Austin 7-4/12-11
Lamar 6-4/14-9

The co-leader can hear footsteps. With Brad Brownell no longer lurking on the sidelines at SF Austin, it appeared that somebody else would win the SLC for a change. When SFA began the season at 1-2 in league play and 6-9 overall, the Lumberjacks were dismissed as a rebuilding team with a new coach that needed seasoning.

Since then, SFA is 6-2, and all of a sudden the Lumberjacks are just one game behind the top two. The top two must still play the Lumberjacks before the SLC Tournament begins, so the top seed is definitely up for grabs.

Southwestern Athletic
Texas Southern 9-1/13-10
Southern 6-4/10-13
Alcorn St. 7-3/10-11 is ineligible
Under former Indiana and UAB head coach Mike Davis, Texas Southern has won either the regular season or SWAC tournament four consecutive years, so it should come as no surprise that the Tigers are the class of the league once again this year. TSU is 0-6 in NCAA Tournament history, and unless they receive a ticket to Dayton to play in the Opening Round, they are likely to fall to 0-7, if they make it back this year.

North Dakota St. 7-3/15-8
Denver 7-4/15-9
South Dakota 7-4/16-10
Omaha 6-5/13-11
Fort Wayne 5-5/16-8

North Dakota State has come back to the pack with successive losses. The most recent one was at home to South Dakota in a game that was not close following an 18-0 USD run in the first half. This should be an entertaining conference tournament, and current fifth place team Fort Wayne has shown that this league has merit. They are mediocre in league play, but the Mastodons beat Indiana out of conference. This could be the league with the best overall home court advantage in college basketball.

Sun Belt
Arkansas St. 8-2/17-6
Georgia St. 8-2/15-7
Georgia Southern 8-2/15-8
UT-Arlington 7-3/17-6
Texas St. 6-4/13-9
Coastal Carolina 6-4/11-12

Georgia State and Arkansas State have long winning streaks (7 & 6 respectively), but the two teams are only slight favorites to make it to the final round of the SBC Tournament. The SBC Tournament will take place in New Orleans, and it will be a truly neutral site. UTA has the big non-conference win, as the Mavericks’ 14-point win at St. Mary’s might look really good if the Gaels beat Gonzaga in Moraga this weekend.

Western Athletic
New Mexico St. 8-0/22-2
Cal State Bakersfield 6-1/15-7
Grand Canyon 4-3/15-9 is ineligible as a transitioning team to D1.

Just how good is New Mexico State? The Aggies have very little competition in the WAC this year, and NMSU could easily run the table to the Big Dance. At 30-2, their resume would have very little to elevate the Aggies up to a single-digit seed. They did trounce Arizona State in Tempe, but that is not a big deal this year. The Aggies will get a shot in the arm soon when guard Sidy N’Dir returns to action following a ligament tear early this year. If N’Dir can return close to form, NMSU could be a dangerous dark horse against an unsuspecting higher seed.

Missouri Valley
The Missouri Valley Conference comes in as a split decision this week among our gurus. Of the 12 participating contributors, six had the MVC as a one-bid league, while six had two teams making the Dance.

Wichita St. 11-1/21-4
Illinois St. 11-1/19-5

If you looked at the scoreboard late Saturday night or Sunday, and you saw the score of the rematch between Wichita State and Illinois State, you might be thinking we are crazy that ISU is still in the discussion. If you didn’t see the result, Wichita embarrassed the Redbirds to the tune of a 86-45 pasting. The Shockers opened an early second half 30-point lead and then extended it to 40 with 2:41 remaining in the game.

So how can Illinois State still be in the discussion? First of all, margin of victory does not count, which is why you will see that Clemson is still a Bubble team after losing by even more to Florida State yesterday. Second, ISU is still tied for first in a league that has had a recent Final Four participant and undefeated number one team entering the NCAA Tournament. And, should the two teams keep winning and meet for a rubber match in the finals of Arch Madness, the loser of that game would definitely be in the mix. Finally, there just are not a lot of great middle of the pack teams in the major conferences this year. It is a lean year, so the MVC has a good chance at sending two teams to the Field of 68.

American Athletic
Cincinnati 10-0/21-2
SMU 10-1/20-4

Houston 7-4/16-7
Memphis 7-4/17-7

Atlantic 10
Dayton 8-2/17-5
VCU 8-2/18-5

Richmond 8-3/14-9
Rhode Island 7-3/15-7

Atlantic Coast
North Carolina 9-2/21-4
Florida St. 8-3/20-4
Louisville 7-3/19-4
Virginia 7-3/17-5
Syracuse 7-4/15-9
Duke 6-4/18-5
Notre Dame 6-5/17-7
Virginia Tech 5-5/16-6
Miami 5-5/15-7
Clemson 3-7/13-9

Wake Forest 5-6/14-9
Georgia Tech 5-6/13-10
North Carolina St. 3-8/14-10

Big 12
Kansas 8-2/20-3
Baylor 7-3/20-3
West Virginia 6-4/18-5
Iowa St. 6-4/14-8
TCU 5-5/16-7
Kansas St. 5-5/16-7
Oklahoma St. 4-6/15-8

Texas Tech 4-6/16-7

Big East
Villanova 9-2/22-2
Xavier 7-3/17-6
Creighton 7-4/20-4
Butler 7-4/18-5
Marquette 6-5/15-8

Seton Hall 4-6/14-8
Georgetown 4-7/13-11

Big Ten
Wisconsin 9-1/20-3
Maryland 8-2/20-3
Purdue 8-3/19-5
Northwestern 7-3/18-5
Michigan St. 6-4/14-9
Minnesota 4-6/16-7
Indiana 5-6/15-9

Michigan 4-6/14-9
Illinois 3-8/13-11

Pacific 12
Oregon 10-1/21-3
Arizona 10-1/21-3
UCLA 8-3/21-3
USC 7-4/20-4
California 8-3/17-6

Utah 6-5/16-8

South Carolina 9-1/19-4
Florida 8-2/18-5
Kentucky 8-2/18-5
Arkansas 6-4/17-6

Alabama 6-4/13-9
Tennessee 5-5/13-10
Auburn 4-6/15-8
Georgia 4-6/13-10

Here is the consensus field of 68 from our Gurus

Seed Team Conf.
1 Villanova B E
1 Gonzaga WCC
1 Kansas B12
1 Baylor B12
2 Louisville ACC
2 North Carolina ACC
2 Florida St. ACC
2 Oregon P12
3 Arizona P12
3 Kentucky SEC
3 Virginia ACC
3 West Virginia B12
4 UCLA P12
4 Wisconsin BTen
4 Cincinnati AAC
4 Florida SEC
5 Butler B E
5 Creighton B E
5 Duke ACC
5 Purdue BTen
6 Maryland BTen
6 South Carolina SEC
6 St. Mary’s WCC
6 Xavier B E
7 Notre Dame ACC
7 Northwestern BTen
7 USC P12
8 Virginia Tech ACC
8 Iowa St. B12
8 Dayton A10
8 Minnesota BTen
9 VCU A10
9 Michigan St. BTen
9 Oklahoma St. B12
9 Marquette B E
10 Kansas St. B12
10 Middle Tennessee CUSA
10 TCU B12
10 Indiana BTen
11 Clemson ACC
11 Wichita St. MVC
11 Miami ACC
11 UNC-Wilmington CAA
12 Arkansas SEC
12 New Mexico St. WAC
12 California P12
12 Nevada MWC
12 Akron MAC
12 Vermont AEast
13 Monmouth MAAC
13 Valparaiso Horiz
13 Illinois St. MVC
13 Syracuse ACC
14 Belmont OVC
14 Princeton Ivy
14 Florida Gulf Coast ASun
14 Arkansas St. SBC
15 Bucknell Pat
15 East Tennessee St. Sou
15 Winthrop BSth
15 North Dakota St. Summ
16 Texas Southern SWAC
16 Sam Houston St. SLC
16 Weber St. BSky
16 UC-Davis BWst
16 UNC-Central MEAC
16 Mount St. Mary’s NEC

The Last 8 In







Illinois St.



First Four Out

Seton Hall


Wake Forest 

Texas Tech


Dayton Bound

Arkansas vs. Miami

California vs. Clemson

Weber St. vs. Mount St. Mary’s

UNC-Central vs. UC-Davis

February 3, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For February 4-5, 2017


Games Scheduled for: Saturday, February 4, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Syracuse Virginia -7 -6 -9
Duke Pittsburgh 15 16 12
Boston College Louisville -15 -13 -15
North Carolina St. Miami (Fla.) -1 -1 1
Wake Forest Georgia Tech 11 12 11
North Carolina Notre Dame 9 8 9
Georgetown Seton Hall 3 3 7
DePaul Marquette -10 -8 -9
Creighton Xavier 6 5 5
Villanova St. John’s 17 19 19
Maryland Purdue -2 -3 1
Penn St. Rutgers 8 6 8
Illinois Minnesota -2 1 -1
Michigan Ohio St. 7 8 2
TCU Texas 8 6 5
Kansas Iowa St. 11 10 10
Baylor Kansas St. 9 9 14
West Virginia Oklahoma St. 11 13 7
Texas Tech Oklahoma 7 9 7
Oregon Arizona 2 4 5
Stanford Utah -3 -3 -2
Oregon St. Arizona St. -6 -2 -1
Washington St. USC -7 -8 -5
Washington UCLA -11 -10 -6
South Carolina Georgia 8 6 6
Vanderbilt Ole Miss 6 6 8
Mississippi St. Tennessee -4 -1 -6
Missouri Arkansas -6 -4 -3
Florida Kentucky 1 4 1
Alabama Auburn 6 7 9
LSU Texas A&M -3 -2 -6
Cincinnati Connecticut 14 14 14
Tulsa SMU -6 -6 -6
Gonzaga Santa Clara 27 20 23
San Diego Saint Mary’s -15 -16 -16


Games Scheduled for: Sunday, February 5, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Florida St. Clemson 8 6 8
Wisconsin Indiana 9 7 4
Iowa Nebraska 7 6 3
California Colorado 5 6 8

PiRate Ratings Top 25

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Villanova
  3. Louisville
  4. West Virginia
  5. Kansas
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Virginia
  9. Duke
  10. Florida
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Baylor
  13. Arizona
  14. Purdue
  15. UCLA
  16. Cincinnati
  17. Florida St.
  18. Oregon
  19. Creighton
  20. St. Mary’s
  21. Notre Dame
  22. SMU
  23. Butler
  24. South Carolina
  25. Wichita St.


  1. Louisville
  2. North Carolina
  3. Virginia
  4. Duke
  5. Florida St.
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Clemson
  8. Wake Forest
  9. Virgnia Tech
  10. Miami
  11. Syracuse
  12. Georgia Tech
  13. North Carolina St.
  14. Pittsburgh
  15. Boston College

Big East

  1. Villanova
  2. Creighton
  3. Butler
  4. Xavier
  5. Marquette
  6. Seton Hall
  7. Georgetown
  8. Providence
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul

Big Ten

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Purdue
  3. Maryland
  4. Northwestern
  5. Michigan St.
  6. Michigan
  7. Minnesota
  8. Indiana
  9. Ohio St.
  10. Iowa
  11. Illinois
  12. Penn St.
  13. Nebraska
  14. Rutgers

Big 12

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kansas
  3. Baylor
  4. Oklahoma St.
  5. Iowa St.
  6. Kansas St.
  7. TCU
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas


  1. Arizona
  2. UCLA
  3. Oregon
  4. Utah
  5. USC
  6. California
  7. Colorado
  8. Stanford
  9. Arizona St.
  10. Washington
  11. Washington St.
  12. Oregon St.


  1. Kentucky
  2. Florida
  3. South Carolina
  4. Arkansas
  5. Tennessee
  6. Georgia
  7. Vanderbilt
  8. Alabama
  9. Auburn
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Mississippi St.
  13. LSU
  14. Missouri

Games You Will Want to Watch 

All Times Eastern Standard


Maryland vs. Purdue 12:00 PM on ESPN

Creighton vs. Xavier 3:00 PM on Fox

North Dakota St. vs. South Dakota 3:00 PM on ESPN3

Oregon vs. Arizona 4:00 PM on ESPN

North Carolina vs. Notre Dame 6:00 PM on ESPN

Harvard vs. Princeton 7:00 PM on ESPN3

Wichita St. vs. Illinois St. 8:00 PM on ESPN2

Florida vs. Kentucky 8:15 PM on ESPN


Wisconsin vs. Indiana 1:00 PM on CBS

The Groundhog may have seen his shadow to forecast 6 more weeks of winter, but cheer up.  Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training in 10 days.

New England 24  Atlanta 20

Use this at your own expense–we do not gamble.  Some experts are going heavy on the UNDER the last 36 hours, and computer sims say it is a sharp selection, but still we won’t wager a penny.

January 27, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For January 28-29, 2017

PiRate Ratings Spreads for January 28-29, 2017

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, January 28, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Georgia Tech Notre Dame -4 -8 -3
Pittsburgh Clemson -2 -1 2
Syracuse Florida St. -4 -4 -5
Miami North Carolina -7 -7 -7
Wake Forest Duke -2 -4 -1
West Virginia Texas A&M 19 19 8
Oklahoma Florida -4 -6 -7
Texas Tech LSU 14 16 12
Tennessee Kansas St. 1 -1 5
Oklahoma St. Arkansas 8 5 7
Georgia Texas 6 6 6
Vanderbilt Iowa St. -3 -4 4
TCU Auburn 10 12 13
Ole Miss Baylor -10 -10 -10
Kentucky Kansas 9 8 8
Marquette Providence 10 9 8
Creighton DePaul 14 16 14
Butler Georgetown 11 11 7
Rutgers * Wisconsin -13 -17 -11
Minnesota Maryland 5 5 6
Penn St. Illinois 3 2 -1
Iowa Ohio St. 1 2 -1
Utah Oregon St. 22 22 21
Colorado Oregon -7 -9 -10
Alabama Mississippi St. 7 6 8
Missouri South Carolina -12 -12 -12
Pepperdine Gonzaga -27 -26 -19
Santa Clara St. Mary’s -9 -12 -13

* Rutgers-Wisconsin game to be played at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan

Games Scheduled for: Sunday, January 29, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Villanova Virginia 5 6 5
St. John’s Xavier -5 -8 -7
Louisville North Carolina St. 18 17 18
Virginia Tech Boston College 13 15 10
Michigan St. Michigan 2 3 9
Nebraska Purdue -9 -10 -4
Northwestern Indiana 5 1 -1
Arizona St. Washington St. 10 12 8
California Stanford 8 11 7
Cincinnati South Florida 26 28 28

What a week!  So, who is number one now?  Unless they suffer a monumental upset loss tomorrow, Gonzaga will assume the top spot in the polls, but are the Bulldogs really the best team in college basketball?

To answer that question yourself, ask yourself, “Would I take Gonzaga over X in a neutral site game in the NCAA Tournament?  Now, plug all the other top teams in the “X” spot in that question.

If you find yourself saying that a couple of schools would beat the Bulldogs, does that mean Gonzaga is not number one?  Not so fast my friends.  Maybe two of the other top 10 teams might be the “X’s” in your mind that can beat Gonzaga, while the Zags would beat the other eight.  However, which team among that group of ten would do any better?  Maybe both of the teams you figured to beat Gonzaga might only beat seven of the other top ten.  This is the 21st Century, and the John Wooden UCLA dynasty is nowhere to be found.  From 1964 to 1975, except for 1966, you might have been able to say that UCLA could beat all the other top teams with very little argument.  The Bruins were to men’s basketball what Connecticut is to women’s basketball now.

So, yes indeed.  As of this writing, Gonzaga is the legitimate number one team in the nation.  That does not mean that they are a lock for the Final Four, but in our opinion Mark Few has his best team, and the Bulldogs have the potential to make it to Phoenix.  It has been done before.  UNLV, Marquette, UNC-Charlotte, Pennsylvania, Virginia Commonwealth, and Butler were all very powerful teams from non-power leagues when they first made Final Four appearances.  Gonzaga is much like UNLV and Marquette from the 1970’s.  They have been very good for a long time, and they have beaten many power teams, but they have yet to win the big games.  UNLV made the Final Four in 1977 and again in 1987 before breaking through in 1990 to win the title.  Marquette had an undefeated regular season and lost before the Final Four.  They had the second best team in 1976 but had to play the best team (Indiana) in the Mid-east Regional.  Finally, with Al McGuire’s weakest team during his dynasty in the won-loss ledger, his only seven-loss team since he turned the then Warriors into a power, MU won the 1977 title.

Gonzaga cannot be overlooked.  They might not get to the promised land this year, but then again, this could be their year.  There is no top ten team at this point that doesn’t have some weakness.  Gonzaga has the talent to exploit any weakness this year, something Few has not had in the past.


This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25 

Using an algorithm based on the Four Factors

  1. Gonzaga
  2. North Carolina
  3. West Virginia
  4. Baylor
  5. Louisville
  6. Villanova
  7. Kentucky
  8. Kansas
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Arizona
  11. Virginia
  12. Butler
  13. Oregon
  14. Purdue
  15. UCLA
  16. Cincinnati
  17. Florida St.
  18. Creighton
  19. Notre Dame
  20. South Carolina
  21. SMU
  22. Saint Mary’s
  23. Kansas St.
  24. Duke
  25. Florida

Power Conferences


  1. North Carolina
  2. Louisville
  3. Virginia
  4. Florida St.
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Duke
  7. Wake Forest
  8. Clemson
  9. Miami 
  10. Virginia Tech
  11. Syracuse
  12. North Carolina St.
  13. Georgia Tech
  14. Pittsburgh
  15. Boston College

Big East

  1. Villanova
  2. Butler
  3. Creighton
  4. Marquette
  5. Xavier
  6. Seton Hall
  7. Georgetown
  8. Providence
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul

Big Ten

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Purdue
  3. Northwestern
  4. Michigan
  5. Indiana
  6. Minnesota
  7. Maryland
  8. Michigan St.
  9. Ohio St.
  10. Illinois 
  11. Penn St.
  12. Iowa
  13. Nebraska
  14. Rutgers

Big 12

  1. West Virgina
  2. Baylor
  3. Kansas
  4. Kansas St.
  5. Iowa St.
  6. TCU
  7. Oklahoma St.
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas


  1. Arizona
  2. Oregon
  3. UCLA
  4. USC
  5. Utah
  6. California
  7. Colorado
  8. Stanford
  9. Arizona St.
  10. Washington
  11. Washington St.
  12. Oregon St.


  1. Kentucky
  2. South Carolina
  3. Florida
  4. Arkansas
  5. Tennessee
  6. Georgia
  7. Alabama
  8. Texas A&M
  9. Vanderbilt
  10. Mississippi St.
  11. Auburn
  12. Ole Miss
  13. LSU
  14. Missouri

Other Conferences Top Teams

Competing for NCAA Tournament bids (automatic or at-large depending on league)

Atlantic 10

  1. Dayton
  2. Virginia Commonwealth
  3. Rhode Island

America East

  1. Vermont
  2. New Hamsphire
  3. Albany

American Athletic

  1. Cincinnati
  2. SMU
  3. Houston

Atlantic Sun

  1. Florida Gulf Coast
  2. Lipscomb
  3. North Florida

Big Sky

  1. Weber St.
  2. Eastern Washington

Big South

  1. Winthrop
  2. UNC-Asheville

Big West

  1. UC-Irvine
  2. UC-Davis
  3. Long Beach St.


  1. UNC-Wilmington
  2. College of Charleston

Conference USA

  1. Middle Tennessee
  2. Louisiana Tech


  1. Valparaiso
  2. Oakland


  1. Princeton
  2. Yale
  3. Harvard

Metro Atlantic

  1. Monmouth
  2. Iona
  3. Canisius
  4. St. Peter’s


  1. Akron
  2. Eastern Michigan
  3. Ohio U

Mideastern Athletic

  1. Morgan St.
  2. Norfolk St.
  3. UM-Eastern Shore
  4. Hampton

Missouri Valley

  1. Wichita St.
  2. Illinois St.

Mountain West

  1. Nevada
  2. San Diego St.
  3. Boise St.


  1. Mount St. Mary’s
  2. Fairleigh-Dickinson
  3. Wagner

Ohio Valley

  1. Belmont
  2. Murray St.


  1. Bucknell
  2. Lehigh

Sun Belt

  1. UT-Arlington
  2. Arkansas St.


  1. Chattanooga
  2. East Tennessee
  3. UNC-Greensboro


  1. New Orleans
  2. Sam Houston St.


  1. North Dakota St.
  2. Fort Wayne
  3. South Dakota
  4. Denver

Southwestern Athletic

  1. Texas Southern
  2. Prairie View
  3. Southern U

Western Athletic

  1. New Mexico St.
  2. Cal State Bakersfield

Grand Canyon is not eligible but would be number 2

West Coast

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Saint Mary’s
  3. BYU


January 13, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For January 14-15, 2017

PiRate Red-White-Blue Spreads For The Weekend

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, January 14, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Clemson Virginia -1 -4 -6
Louisville Duke 4 1 4
Pittsburgh Miami (Fla.) 5 1 7
North Carolina Florida St. 9 8 3
Virginia Tech Notre Dame 6 -1 -1
Syracuse Boston College 8 14 9
Kansas Oklahoma St. 10 13 14
Texas West Virginia -16 -15 -6
Kansas St. Baylor 1 -4 -9
TCU Iowa St. 2 -1 3
Oklahoma Texas Tech 6 -4 -2
Georgetown Connecticut 15 8 9
Providence Seton Hall -3 -1 -1
St. John’s Villanova -4 -15 -16
Butler Xavier 3 4 8
Marquette DePaul 19 17 13
Penn St. Minnesota 2 -4 -4
Michigan Nebraska 1 9 1
Illinois Maryland 1 1 6
California Washington St. 13 17 19
Utah UCLA -11 -8 -1
Stanford Washington 2 4 10
Oregon Oregon St. 27 26 26
Florida Georgia 11 12 10
Mississippi St. Texas A&M 3 -1 -6
LSU Alabama 7 -2 -3
Kentucky Auburn 23 24 23
Arkansas Missouri 15 16 15
South Carolina Ole Miss 9 8 6
Vanderbilt Tennessee -1 2 6
Games Scheduled for: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
North Carolina St. Georgia Tech 14 11 14
Indiana Rutgers 16 18 19
Ohio St. Michigan St. 4 2 -4
Northwestern Iowa 1 6 8
Colorado USC 1 -1 4


The PiRate Top 25 For January 13, 2017

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kansas
  3. Kentucky
  4. Villanova
  5. Virginia
  6. North Carolina
  7. Gonzaga
  8. UCLA
  9. Florida St.
  10. Baylor
  11. St. Mary’s
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Louisville
  14. Duke
  15. Butler
  16. Arizona
  17. Florida
  18. Cincinnati
  19. Creighton
  20. Oregon
  21. Notre Dame
  22. Purdue
  23. Xavier
  24. Wichita St.
  25. Iowa St.


  1. Virginia
  2. North Carolina
  3. Florida St.
  4. Louisville
  5. Duke
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Clemson
  8. Virginia Tech
  9. Miami (Fla)
  10. Wake Forest
  11. Pittsburgh
  12. Syracuse
  13. North Carolina St.
  14. Georgia Tech
  15. Boston College

Big East

  1. Villanova
  2. Butler
  3. Creighton
  4. Xavier
  5. Seton Hall
  6. Marquette
  7. Providence
  8. Georgetown
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul

Big Ten

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Purdue
  3. Minnesota
  4. Michigan St.
  5. Indiana
  6. Northwestern
  7. Michigan
  8. Maryland
  9. Ohio St.
  10. Iowa
  11. Illinois
  12. Penn St.
  13. Nebraska
  14. Rutgers

Big 12

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kansas
  3. Baylor
  4. Iowa St.
  5. Kansas St.
  6. Texas Tech
  7. Oklahoma St.
  8. TCU
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas


  1. UCLA
  2. Arizona
  3. Oregon
  4. California
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Colorado
  8. Stanford
  9. Washington
  10. Arizona St.
  11. Washington St.
  12. Oregon St.


  1. Kentucky
  2. Florida
  3. South Carolina
  4. Georgia
  5. Arkansas
  6. Alabama
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Vanderbilt
  9. Tennessee
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Mississippi St.
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Missouri

Games To Watch This Weekend Because They Will Be Fun To Watch

Best 3 Saturday

Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s   (ESPN2 at 10 PM EST)

Butler vs. Xavier   (Fox Sports 1 at 2 PM EST)

Clemson vs. Virginia  (WatchESPN at 12:00 PM EST)

Best of The Rest

Louisville vs. Duke   (ESPN at 12:00 PM EST)

North Carolina vs. Florida St.  (ESPN at 2 PM EST)

Kansas St. vs. Baylor   (ESPNU at 4:30 PM EST)

Utah vs. UCLA   (Pac-12 Network at 6 PM EST)

Princeton vs. Yale   (ESPN3 at 8 PM EST)

Coming Next Week–We take the top national contenders and break down what area of the game an opponent must master in order to beat each one.  We’ll use our Four Factors Algorithms to analyze where each of the top teams might have an Achilles Heel, and maybe which teams have no apparent weakness.

December 4, 2016

College Football Ratings & Spreads For December 10, 2016

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:49 pm

There is only one game this week, the annual Army-Navy game, played this season in Baltimore.  Because our ratings for all 128 teams can be affected by just one game, we will not issue our bowl picks until after the conclusion of the game this weekend.

So, since there is not much to post this week, let us relay a little mathematical data concerning the Big Ten Conference, and its one playoff representative.

A similar thing occurred in 2006, when Ohio State played Florida for the national championship.  The Buckeyes were number one after narrowly defeating second-ranked Michigan at the Giant Horseshoe in Columbus.  The score that day was Ohio State 42 Michigan 39.

Ohio State defeated Michigan this year in double overtime and due to a favorable call that might have been and might not have been correct, but wasn’t reviewed.

Ohio State went to the national championship in 2006, and they will go to the playoffs this year.  Michigan will have to be consoled with an Orange Bowl bid.

We asked then and ask now, “How much is Ohio State’s home field advantage worth?”

We can tell you that in 2006, Ohio State’s home field advantage for the Michigan game was worth more than four points, but rounded to four.  They beat Michigan by three.

This year, Ohio State’s home field advantage for the Michigan game was just a tad under three points which rounded to three points.  The score was tied at the end of regulation.

In actuality, both in 2006 and in 2016, Michigan was slightly better than Ohio State in the rivalry game and slightly better ranked, but both times, the Buckeyes earned the right to play for the championship.

This is a recurring theme.  In 1973, Michigan looked like the better team at the end of the day in a 10-10 tie of undefeated teams, but Ohio State received the Rose Bowl invitation (and Michigan stayed home at 10-0-1), because Michigan’s quarterback had been injured and was not a sure thing to be ready for the Rose Bowl (The Big Ten decided who went to Pasadena).

We are not advocating that Michigan be given the Playoff spot over Ohio State.  We are just alluding to the point that home field advantage should be part of the equation as long as there is going to be a playoff committee.

Our true belief is there should be no playoff committee.  The participants should be decided strictly on the results with tiebreakers similar to the NFL.  Of course, the NFL has the advantage in that every team in a division plays its division rivals twice, home and home.  The Big Ten cannot schedule home and home so that Michigan and Ohio State would play both in Columbus and in Ann Arbor every year.

In another dozen or so years, expect the number of playoff teams to expand to 8, and then maybe 12, and maybe even 16, and this controversy will be replaced with the controversy of team number 17 being left out while team number 16 got in.  We only hope that by the time the playoffs expand to 16 teams, there will be a new way to select them, maybe 8 conferences with two divisions each, and each division getting a team in the football dance.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 138.7 132.5 138.7 136.6
2 Washington 133.0 125.8 132.4 130.4
3 Ohio St. 127.5 127.1 127.8 127.5
4 Clemson 129.5 123.5 128.7 127.2
5 Michigan 127.4 125.5 127.2 126.7
6 Oklahoma 125.2 123.3 125.1 124.5
7 LSU 124.9 120.4 124.4 123.2
8 USC 124.3 119.4 122.8 122.2
9 Florida St. 122.8 117.1 122.1 120.7
10 Louisville 121.9 118.4 121.7 120.7
11 Penn St. 119.9 119.7 120.0 119.9
12 Auburn 120.5 118.5 120.4 119.8
13 Wisconsin 118.7 116.7 119.1 118.2
14 Virginia Tech 118.7 116.9 118.8 118.1
15 Oklahoma St. 116.6 117.9 116.0 116.8
16 Miami 118.4 113.1 118.3 116.6
17 Pittsburgh 117.8 113.8 117.1 116.2
18 Colorado 117.1 112.7 117.0 115.6
19 Iowa 115.9 113.1 115.8 114.9
20 North Carolina 116.2 110.9 116.0 114.4
21 Washington St. 114.9 112.2 114.4 113.9
22 Western Michigan 113.2 113.0 114.9 113.7
23 Stanford 114.9 109.3 114.4 112.9
24 Kansas St. 111.9 113.7 111.9 112.5
25 Tennessee 113.3 110.9 112.4 112.2
26 Texas A&M 112.9 111.4 112.2 112.2
27 Florida 112.4 112.9 110.9 112.1
28 West Virginia 111.9 111.5 111.5 111.6
29 Temple 111.5 110.6 112.3 111.5
30 Notre Dame 112.3 109.5 111.4 111.1
31 Utah 112.7 107.8 111.4 110.6
32 Western Kentucky 110.7 108.8 112.1 110.5
33 Houston 110.0 108.8 111.1 110.0
34 South Florida 110.0 108.3 110.6 109.6
35 Arkansas 111.0 107.1 110.1 109.4
36 BYU 110.7 106.5 110.7 109.3
37 Georgia Tech 110.2 106.4 109.3 108.6
38 Mississippi St. 109.2 107.3 108.0 108.2
39 Georgia 108.3 107.7 107.6 107.9
40 TCU 107.4 109.1 106.4 107.6
41 North Carolina St. 108.8 105.2 108.5 107.5
42 Northwestern 108.8 105.4 107.8 107.3
43 Navy 107.4 106.1 107.5 107.0
44 Minnesota 107.4 105.8 107.1 106.8
45 Vanderbilt 107.5 104.3 106.4 106.1
46 Nebraska 106.5 104.3 106.1 105.6
47 Memphis 106.1 103.9 105.5 105.2
48 Boise St. 104.5 105.7 105.2 105.1
49 Tulsa 104.5 105.7 105.0 105.1
50 Michigan St. 105.1 104.3 103.9 104.4
51 Texas 104.1 105.7 103.0 104.3
52 UCLA 105.1 103.2 104.0 104.1
53 Kentucky 104.1 104.2 103.8 104.0
54 San Diego St. 103.8 102.6 105.6 104.0
55 Baylor 103.8 104.2 103.8 103.9
56 Indiana 103.5 104.6 102.9 103.7
57 Ole Miss 105.3 101.6 104.0 103.6
58 Toledo 102.5 103.2 103.4 103.0
59 Oregon 103.7 101.7 102.6 102.7
60 Texas Tech 102.2 101.6 101.3 101.7
61 California 103.9 97.7 101.7 101.1
62 Duke 101.3 100.3 100.7 100.8
63 Wake Forest 101.2 99.5 101.3 100.7
64 Appalachian St. 99.7 100.9 101.3 100.6
65 Iowa St. 100.6 100.6 99.6 100.3
66 Missouri 99.9 98.6 98.6 99.1
67 Oregon St. 100.6 96.2 99.5 98.8
68 Boston College 99.5 97.9 98.9 98.8
69 Virginia 99.9 97.3 98.9 98.7
70 Colorado St. 97.8 99.4 98.9 98.7
71 Central Florida 97.7 98.7 98.4 98.3
72 Air Force 97.6 99.2 97.8 98.2
73 South Carolina 98.3 97.8 97.8 98.0
74 Arizona St. 99.0 97.4 97.3 97.9
75 Louisiana Tech 96.5 98.7 98.2 97.8
76 Syracuse 98.9 95.6 97.2 97.3
77 New Mexico 95.2 96.9 96.0 96.1
78 Maryland 95.8 97.8 94.2 95.9
79 Northern Illinois 94.6 95.9 95.5 95.3
80 Arkansas St. 93.1 95.8 94.8 94.6
81 Arizona 95.3 93.0 93.8 94.0
82 Wyoming 93.5 94.1 94.5 94.0
83 Ohio 91.4 97.1 92.0 93.5
84 Central Michigan 92.5 94.6 92.9 93.3
85 Troy 91.0 94.8 92.8 92.9
86 SMU 91.9 91.5 93.9 92.5
87 Cincinnati 92.0 92.8 91.7 92.2
88 Army 89.4 95.8 90.6 91.9
89 Purdue 91.7 90.3 90.5 90.8
90 Old Dominion 89.4 92.4 90.6 90.8
91 Miami (O) 89.4 91.1 90.8 90.4
92 Illinois 91.6 88.8 90.4 90.3
93 UTSA 87.2 92.9 89.6 89.9
94 Utah St. 88.8 91.2 88.6 89.5
95 Middle Tennessee 88.5 90.3 89.0 89.3
96 Nevada 88.2 90.2 88.7 89.1
97 Southern Mississippi 88.4 88.6 88.7 88.6
98 Eastern Michigan 87.6 89.6 88.3 88.5
99 East Carolina 87.6 89.0 87.6 88.1
100 Tulane 86.8 89.9 87.4 88.0
101 Idaho 85.6 90.4 87.8 87.9
102 Kansas 87.0 91.0 85.1 87.7
103 Georgia Southern 86.3 87.4 87.9 87.2
104 Bowling Green 86.3 87.4 86.5 86.7
105 UL-Lafayette 84.8 88.6 86.4 86.6
106 Rutgers 86.8 85.3 85.1 85.8
107 Ball St. 84.7 86.7 85.6 85.7
108 Kent St. 84.0 85.5 84.9 84.8
109 Connecticut 84.9 84.6 84.3 84.6
110 South Alabama 81.8 88.0 82.5 84.1
111 San Jose St. 84.1 84.2 84.0 84.1
112 Akron 81.8 86.9 82.7 83.8
113 UNLV 82.5 85.4 83.1 83.7
114 Florida International 81.2 85.4 81.8 82.8
115 Massachusetts 79.8 85.0 80.6 81.8
116 Hawaii 80.9 80.8 80.7 80.8
117 Rice 77.8 83.3 78.3 79.8
118 Georgia St. 77.6 82.0 79.4 79.7
119 Marshall 77.9 81.4 78.4 79.2
120 Charlotte 76.3 81.9 76.9 78.4
121 North Texas 77.2 80.2 77.6 78.4
122 Fresno St. 77.3 80.6 77.0 78.3
123 Buffalo 76.1 81.9 76.7 78.3
124 Florida Atlantic 75.0 79.5 77.1 77.2
125 UTEP 74.4 79.1 75.7 76.4
126 New Mexico St. 74.2 77.2 75.3 75.6
127 UL-Monroe 68.8 74.1 69.8 70.9
128 Texas St. 62.3 64.9 63.3 63.5

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Temple 111.5 110.6 112.3 111.5
South Florida 110.0 108.3 110.6 109.6
Central Florida 97.7 98.7 98.4 98.3
Cincinnati 92.0 92.8 91.7 92.2
East Carolina 87.6 89.0 87.6 88.1
Connecticut 84.9 84.6 84.3 84.6
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 110.0 108.8 111.1 110.0
Navy 107.4 106.1 107.5 107.0
Memphis 106.1 103.9 105.5 105.2
Tulsa 104.5 105.7 105.0 105.1
SMU 91.9 91.5 93.9 92.5
Tulane 86.8 89.9 87.4 88.0
AAC Averages 99.2 99.2 99.6 99.3
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 129.5 123.5 128.7 127.2
Florida St. 122.8 117.1 122.1 120.7
Louisville 121.9 118.4 121.7 120.7
North Carolina St. 108.8 105.2 108.5 107.5
Wake Forest 101.2 99.5 101.3 100.7
Boston College 99.5 97.9 98.9 98.8
Syracuse 98.9 95.6 97.2 97.3
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Virginia Tech 118.7 116.9 118.8 118.1
Miami 118.4 113.1 118.3 116.6
Pittsburgh 117.8 113.8 117.1 116.2
North Carolina 116.2 110.9 116.0 114.4
Georgia Tech 110.2 106.4 109.3 108.6
Duke 101.3 100.3 100.7 100.8
Virginia 99.9 97.3 98.9 98.7
ACC Averages 111.8 108.3 111.2 110.4
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 125.2 123.3 125.1 124.5
Oklahoma St. 116.6 117.9 116.0 116.8
Kansas St. 111.9 113.7 111.9 112.5
West Virginia 111.9 111.5 111.5 111.6
TCU 107.4 109.1 106.4 107.6
Texas 104.1 105.7 103.0 104.3
Baylor 103.8 104.2 103.8 103.9
Texas Tech 102.2 101.6 101.3 101.7
Iowa St. 100.6 100.6 99.6 100.3
Kansas 87.0 91.0 85.1 87.7
Big 12 Averages 107.1 107.9 106.4 107.1
Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 127.5 127.1 127.8 127.5
Michigan 127.4 125.5 127.2 126.7
Penn St. 119.9 119.7 120.0 119.9
Michigan St. 105.1 104.3 103.9 104.4
Indiana 103.5 104.6 102.9 103.7
Maryland 95.8 97.8 94.2 95.9
Rutgers 86.8 85.3 85.1 85.8
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 118.7 116.7 119.1 118.2
Iowa 115.9 113.1 115.8 114.9
Northwestern 108.8 105.4 107.8 107.3
Minnesota 107.4 105.8 107.1 106.8
Nebraska 106.5 104.3 106.1 105.6
Purdue 91.7 90.3 90.5 90.8
Illinois 91.6 88.8 90.4 90.3
Big Ten Averages 107.6 106.4 107.0 107.0
Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 110.7 108.8 112.1 110.5
Old Dominion 89.4 92.4 90.6 90.8
Middle Tennessee 88.5 90.3 89.0 89.3
Florida International 81.2 85.4 81.8 82.8
Marshall 77.9 81.4 78.4 79.2
Charlotte 76.3 81.9 76.9 78.4
Florida Atlantic 75.0 79.5 77.1 77.2
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisiana Tech 96.5 98.7 98.2 97.8
UTSA 87.2 92.9 89.6 89.9
Southern Mississippi 88.4 88.6 88.7 88.6
Rice 77.8 83.3 78.3 79.8
North Texas 77.2 80.2 77.6 78.4
UTEP 74.4 79.1 75.7 76.4
CUSA Averages 84.7 87.9 85.7 86.1
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 112.3 109.5 111.4 111.1
BYU 110.7 106.5 110.7 109.3
Army 89.4 95.8 90.6 91.9
Massachusetts 79.8 85.0 80.6 81.8
Independents Averages 98.1 99.2 98.3 98.5
Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio 91.4 97.1 92.0 93.5
Miami (O) 89.4 91.1 90.8 90.4
Bowling Green 86.3 87.4 86.5 86.7
Kent St. 84.0 85.5 84.9 84.8
Akron 81.8 86.9 82.7 83.8
Buffalo 76.1 81.9 76.7 78.3
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 113.2 113.0 114.9 113.7
Toledo 102.5 103.2 103.4 103.0
Northern Illinois 94.6 95.9 95.5 95.3
Central Michigan 92.5 94.6 92.9 93.3
Eastern Michigan 87.6 89.6 88.3 88.5
Ball St. 84.7 86.7 85.6 85.7
MAC Averages 90.3 92.8 91.2 91.4
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 104.5 105.7 105.2 105.1
Colorado St. 97.8 99.4 98.9 98.7
Air Force 97.6 99.2 97.8 98.2
New Mexico 95.2 96.9 96.0 96.1
Wyoming 93.5 94.1 94.5 94.0
Utah St. 88.8 91.2 88.6 89.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 103.8 102.6 105.6 104.0
Nevada 88.2 90.2 88.7 89.1
San Jose St. 84.1 84.2 84.0 84.1
UNLV 82.5 85.4 83.1 83.7
Hawaii 80.9 80.8 80.7 80.8
Fresno St. 77.3 80.6 77.0 78.3
MWC Averages 91.2 92.6 91.7 91.8
Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 133.0 125.8 132.4 130.4
Washington St. 114.9 112.2 114.4 113.9
Stanford 114.9 109.3 114.4 112.9
Oregon 103.7 101.7 102.6 102.7
California 103.9 97.7 101.7 101.1
Oregon St. 100.6 96.2 99.5 98.8
South Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
USC 124.3 119.4 122.8 122.2
Colorado 117.1 112.7 117.0 115.6
Utah 112.7 107.8 111.4 110.6
UCLA 105.1 103.2 104.0 104.1
Arizona St. 99.0 97.4 97.3 97.9
Arizona 95.3 93.0 93.8 94.0
Pac-12 Averages 110.4 106.4 109.3 108.7
Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 113.3 110.9 112.4 112.2
Florida 112.4 112.9 110.9 112.1
Georgia 108.3 107.7 107.6 107.9
Vanderbilt 107.5 104.3 106.4 106.1
Kentucky 104.1 104.2 103.8 104.0
Missouri 99.9 98.6 98.6 99.1
South Carolina 98.3 97.8 97.8 98.0
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 138.7 132.5 138.7 136.6
LSU 124.9 120.4 124.4 123.2
Auburn 120.5 118.5 120.4 119.8
Texas A&M 112.9 111.4 112.2 112.2
Arkansas 111.0 107.1 110.1 109.4
Mississippi St. 109.2 107.3 108.0 108.2
Ole Miss 105.3 101.6 104.0 103.6
SEC Averages 111.9 109.7 111.1 110.9
Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 99.7 100.9 101.3 100.6
Arkansas St. 93.1 95.8 94.8 94.6
Troy 91.0 94.8 92.8 92.9
Idaho 85.6 90.4 87.8 87.9
Georgia Southern 86.3 87.4 87.9 87.2
UL-Lafayette 84.8 88.6 86.4 86.6
South Alabama 81.8 88.0 82.5 84.1
Georgia St. 77.6 82.0 79.4 79.7
New Mexico St. 74.2 77.2 75.3 75.6
UL-Monroe 68.8 74.1 69.8 70.9
Texas St. 62.3 64.9 63.3 63.5
Sun Belt Averages 82.3 85.8 83.8 84.0


# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 111.9 109.7 111.1 110.9
2 ACC 111.8 108.3 111.2 110.4
3 Pac-12 110.4 106.4 109.3 108.7
4 Big 12 107.1 107.9 106.4 107.1
5 Big Ten 107.6 106.4 107.0 107.0
6 AAC 99.2 99.2 99.6 99.3
7 Independents 98.1 99.2 98.3 98.5
8 MWC 91.2 92.6 91.7 91.8
9 MAC 90.3 92.8 91.2 91.4
10 CUSA 84.7 87.9 85.7 86.1
11 Sun Belt 82.3 85.8 83.8 84.0

PiRate Retrodictive Rankings–similar to the AP and Coaches polls in its purpose

# Team
1 Alabama
2 Ohio St.
3 Clemson
4 Michigan
5 Washington
6 Penn St.
7 Wisconsin
9 Oklahoma
10 Florida St.
11 Western Michigan
12 Colorado
13 Stanford
14 LSU
15 Louisville
16 Auburn
17 West Virginia
18 Oklahoma St.
19 Washington St.
20 South Florida
21 Iowa
22 Boise St.
23 Florida
24 Houston
25 Temple
26 Virginia Tech
27 Pittsburgh
28 Nebraska
29 Miami (Fla)
30 Tennessee
31 Texas A&M
32 Utah
33 Western Kentucky
34 Navy
35 North Carolina
36 Tulsa
37 Minnesota
38 BYU
39 Kansas St.
40 Georgia Tech
41 Appalachian St.
42 Toledo
43 San Diego St.
44 Memphis
45 Georgia
46 Arkansas
47 Northwestern
48 Air Force
49 Kentucky
50 Colorado St.
51 Troy
52 Vanderbilt
53 North Carolina St.
54 Indiana
55 Ole Miss
56 TCU
57 Old Dominion
58 Wyoming
59 California
60 New Mexico
61 Mississippi St.
62 Central Florida
63 Louisiana Tech
64 Maryland
66 South Carolina
67 Baylor
68 Oregon
69 Notre Dame
70 Idaho
71 Boston College
72 Texas
73 Arkansas St.
74 Wake Forest
75 Ohio
76 Arizona St.
77 Oregon St.
78 Eastern Michigan
79 Middle Tennessee
80 Texas Tech
81 SMU
82 Missouri
83 Duke
84 Michigan St.
85 Syracuse
86 Central Michigan
88 UL-Lafayette
89 Army
90 Miami (O)
91 Northern Illinois
92 Iowa St.
93 Arizona
94 Southern Miss.
95 Georgia Southern
96 Hawaii
97 South Alabama
98 Illinois
99 Cincinnati
100 Tulane
101 Akron
102 Utah St.
103 Bowling Green
104 Purdue
105 East Carolina
106 Virginia
107 San Jose St.
108 Nevada
109 North Texas
110 UNLV
111 Ball St.
112 Rutgers
113 UL-Monroe
114 Kent St.
115 Kansas
116 Georgia St.
117 Connecticut
118 Charlotte
119 UTEP
120 New Mexico St.
121 Florida Int’l.
122 Marshall
123 Rice
124 Massachusetts
125 Florida Atlantic
126 Fresno St.
127 Texas St.
128 Buffalo


Army – Navy Game played at Baltimore

Team Team PiRate Mean Bias
Army (N) Navy -18.0 -10.3 -16.9


The Bowl Schedule

Day Date Bowl Conferences Time (ET) Network
Sat Dec-17 New Mexico MWC CUSA 2:00 PM ESPN
New Mexico (7-5) vs. Texas-San Antonio (6-6)
Sat Dec-17 Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC 3:30 PM ABC
Houston * (9-3) vs. San Diego St. (11-2)
Sat Dec-17 Cure AAC SBC 5:30 PM CBSSN
Central Florida (6-6) vs. Arkansas St. (7-5)
Sat Dec-17 Camellia MAC SBC 5:30 PM ESPN
Toledo (9-3) vs. Appalachian St. (9-3)
Sat Dec-17 New Orleans CUSA SBC 9:00 PM ESPN
Southern Miss. (6-6) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)
Mon Dec-19 Miami Beach AAC MAC 2:30 PM ESPN
Tulsa (9-3) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)
Tue Dec-20 Boca Raton AAC CUSA 7:00 PM ESPN
Memphis (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (11-2)
Wed Dec-21 Poinsettia MWC BYU 9:00 PM ESPN
Wyoming (9-4) vs. BYU (8-4)
Thu Dec-22 Idaho Potato MAC MWC 7:00 PM ESPN
Idaho * (8-4) vs. Colorado St. (6-6)
Fri Dec-23 Bahamas AAC/CUSA MAC/CUSA 1:00 PM ESPN
Old Dominion (9-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (7-5)
Fri Dec-23 Armed Forces Navy Big 12 4:30 PM ESPN
Navy (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)
Fri Dec-23 Dollar Gen. MAC SBC 8:00 PM ESPN
Ohio U (8-5) vs. Troy (9-3)
Sat Dec-24 Hawaii CUSA MWC 8:00 PM ESPN
Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Hawaii (6-7)
Mon Dec-26 St. Petersburg AAC ACC/ND 11:00 AM ESPN
Miami (O) * (6-6) vs. Mississippi St. * (5-7)
Mon Dec-26 Quick Lane ACC/ND Big Ten 2:30 PM ESPN
Boston College (6-6) vs. Maryland (6-6)
Mon Dec-26 Independence SEC ACC/ND 5:00 PM ESPN2
Vanderbilt (6-6) vs. North Carolina St. (6-6)
Tue Dec-27 Ht. of Dallas Big Ten CUSA 12:00 PM ESPN
Army * (6-5) vs. North Texas (5-7)
Tue Dec-27 Military ACC/ND AAC 3:30 PM ESPN
Wake Forest (6-6) vs. Temple (10-3)
Tue Dec-27 Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 7:00 PM ESPN
Minnesota (8-4) vs. Washington St. (8-4)
Tue Dec-27 Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 10:15 PM ESPN
Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise St. (10-2)
Wed Dec-28 Pinstripe ACC/ND Big Ten 2:00 PM ESPN
Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
Wed Dec-28 Russell Athl. ACC/ND Big 12 5:30 PM ESPN
Miami (Fla.) 8-4 vs. West Virginia (9-3)
Wed Dec-28 Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 8:30 PM FOX
Indiana (6-6) vs. Utah (8-4)
Wed Dec-28 Texas Big 12 SEC 9:00 PM ESPN
Kansas St. (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)
Thu Dec-29 Birmingham AAC SEC 2:00 PM ESPN
South Florida (10-2) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
Thu Dec-29 Belk ACC/ND SEC 5:30 PM ESPN
Virginia Tech (9-4) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
Thu Dec-29 Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 9:00 PM ESPN
Oklahoma St. (9-3) vs. Colorado (10-3)
Fri Dec-30 Liberty Big 12 SEC 12:00 PM ESPN
TCU (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
Fri Dec-30 Sun ACC/ND Pac-12 2:00 PM CBS
North Carolina (8-4) vs. Stanford (9-3)
Fri Dec-30 Music City ACC/ND/B10 SEC 3:30 PM ESPN
Nebraska (9-3) vs. Tennessee (8-4)
Fri Dec-30 Arizona SBC MWC 5:30 PM No TV ^
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
Fri Dec-30 Orange ACC/ND B10/SEC 8:00 PM ESPN
Florida St. (9-3) vs. Michigan (10-2)
Sat Dec-31 Citrus ACC/ND/B10 SEC 11:00 AM ABC
Louisville (9-3) vs. LSU (7-4)
Sat Dec-31 TaxSlayer ACC/ND/B10 SEC 11:00 AM ESPN
Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
Sat Dec-31 Peach Semifinal Semifinal 3:00 PM ESPN
Alabama (13-0) vs. Washington (12-1)
Sat Dec-31 Fiesta Semifinal Semifinal 7:00 PM ESPN
Clemson (12-1) vs. Ohio St. (11-1)
Mon Jan-2 Outback Big Ten SEC 1:00 PM ABC
Iowa (8-4) vs. Florida (8-4)
Mon Jan-2 Cotton At-Large At-Large 1:00 PM ESPN
Western Michigan (13-0) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)
Mon Jan-2 Rose Big Ten Pac-12 5:00 PM ESPN
Penn St. (11-2) vs. USC (9-3)
Mon Jan-2 Sugar Big 12 SEC 8:30 PM ESPN
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Auburn (8-4)
Mon Jan-9 Championship Semifinal Winners 8:00 PM ESPN
Alabama/Washington vs. Clemson/Ohio St.
  • * Replacement Team
  • ^ Arizona Bowl will be broadcast online only at Campus Insiders website
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