The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 23, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Wednesday, March 23, 2022
TeamTeamSpread
Texas A&MWake Forest2.5
BYUWashington St.2.5
UNC WilmingtonMiddle Tennessee-0.1
Fresno St.Youngstown St.2.5
Southern UtahPortland2.5

March 22, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Tuesday, March 22, 2022
TeamTeamSpread
VirginiaSt. Bonaventure2.7
XavierVanderbilt4.3
Northern ColoradoUNC Wilmington-1.3
Abilene ChristianMiddle Tennessee-1.3
UTEPSouthern Utah2.2

March 21, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Monday, March 21, 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022
TeamTeamSpread
DrakeUNC Wilmington7.4
UNC AshevilleNorthern Colorado-0.8
MIddle TennesseeBoston5.6
Abilene ChristianOhio-0.9
Coastal CarolinaFlorida Gulf Coast4.4
South AlabamaUSC Upstate11.1

August 13, 2021

Conference USA Preview

If you are new to the PiRate Ratings, we have three different ratings, which are basically three different algorithms calculated using identical data.  The PiRate and Bias are closely correlated.  The Mean is a bit of an outlier.  The differences in the three ratings’ algorithms are designed to catch different outcomes in a season.  In some years, trends make one rating better than the others.  In some years, all three ratings move in lockstep and appear to be nearly identical.  Additionally, the process for updating the three different ratings differs for each one.  The PiRate has the most conservative updating formula, while the Bias has the most liberal updating formula.  The Mean has an average updating formula.

Wow!  It feels like last week, Alabama was toying with Ohio State to win the 2020-21 FBS National Championship!  If it feels like August 13th came about two months quicker than normal, maybe it has more to do with the fact that updating the PiRate Ratings was a much more involved process this Spring and Summer.  The issues with Covid totally messed up the 2020 season, and the new Transfer Portal led to players leaving school as late as July and waiting until the end of July to choose their new school, so updating the ratings became a two-fold process.  The old way of updating the ratings took place between Memorial Day Weekend and Mid-July.  Then, from Mid-July to last week, we had to perform a new update where, in essence, we had to treat about 165 of the top transfers as lost starters to their old team and as new starters to their new team.  

These 165 players represented 4293 basis points, or to put it into something meaningful to you, 4293 basis points in our ratings’ algorithms account for about 61.3 power rating points, give or take a point or two.  82 different FBS teams had a gain or loss of basis points from at least one player move involving these teams.  48 teams did not have a gain or loss of basis points, with 47 having no meaningful player movement, while the 48th team had a net of 0 basis points from their gain of a player and loss of a player where the players were basically of equal talent.

If you follow our ratings, you probably know that our 130 teams always average 100.0, as 100.0 is par.  When you see a team ranked at 111.3, that means they are 11.3 points better than the average team.  If a team is ranked at 92.8, that means they are 7.2 points weaker than the average team.  Thus, if there are 130 teams, and 100 is par, the grand total of team ratings must be 13,000.  So, if 82 teams had their ratings altered by a total of 61.3 points, the other 48 teams had to have their ratings altered as well so that the total was 13,000.  Those 61.3 points were not all in the same direction.  32.6 points came from improvement, while 28.7 points came from weakening.  The grand total of -3.9 points had to be distributed to the other 48 teams.  Basically 39 teams lost one tenth of a point, while the best nine teams of the 48 stayed stat.

Today, we begin previewing our first FBS conference.  Coming in at 11th place (last place) among the conferences is Conference USA.  Once considered an improved version of the Sun Belt Conference, CUSA has fallen several notches behind their Southern Group of 5 rival.  

In July, CUSA held its annual preseason meeting, and the media voted their preseason picks.  Here it is:

2021 CUSA Football Preseason Poll

EAST DIVISION

  1. Marshall (17)
  2. Florida Atlantic (6)
  3. WKU (1)
  4. Charlotte
  5. Middle Tennessee
  6. FIU
  7. Old Dominion

WEST DIVISION

  1. UAB (15)
  2. UTSA (9)
  3. Louisiana Tech
  4. Southern Miss
  5. Rice
  6. North Texas
  7. UTEP

How does this compare to the PiRate Ratings?  Take a look at our preseason ratings.

Conference USA
East Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
Marshall93.493.493.693.4
Florida Atlantic86.788.687.887.7
Middle Tennessee83.483.184.783.7
Western Kentucky81.783.682.882.7
Charlotte78.879.680.279.5
Florida Int’l.77.978.980.179.0
Old Dominion71.271.971.271.4
West Division
TeamPiRateMeanBiasAverage
U A B95.495.294.995.2
U T S A94.094.593.493.9
Rice87.087.187.387.1
Louisiana Tech86.987.485.286.5
Southern Miss.83.385.284.584.4
North Texas82.181.781.481.7
U T E P76.377.274.476.0
CUSA Averages84.184.884.484.4

While the PiRate Ratings are designed only to estimate the result of each team’s next game, we issue predicted standings every year just for fun.  Just because a team is ranked ahead of another, it doesn’t mean we are predicting them to win.  Our ratings have built in alterations to every team’s power rating based on depth and experience.  A team lacking depth may see their power rating fall as the season goes along, and we perceive that these poor depth teams will begin to show fatigue.  Likewise, a team with a lot of talent but low experience may see their power rating rise as the season goes along, and we perceive that these lesser experienced players gain enough experience for the game to slow down to them.

Here are our predicted won-loss records for CUSA.

CUSA EastConf.Overall
Marshall6-28-5
Florida Atlantic6-28-4
Florida Int’l.4-45-7
Western Kentucky4-45-7
Middle Tennessee3-55-7
Old Dominion0-81-11



CUSA West

Conf.

Overall
UTSA7-110-3 *
UAB7-18-4
Rice6-27-5
Louisiana Tech6-27-5
Southern Miss.3-54-8
UTEP1-73-9

UTSA picked to win CUSA Championship Game

August 11, 2018

2018 Conference USA Preview

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.

Some of our Group of 5 Conference won-loss predictions were figured before the beginning of August preseason practices. Thus, it could be that a player or players on some teams have already suffered season-ending or multiple game injuries or have left their teams, and these won-loss predictions no longer accurately reflect our ratings. We hope that by the time we preview the Power 5 conferences, we will know who is not going to be available (players and head coaches).

 

Conference USA is an interesting league. Annually, it comes in as the second weakest conference overall to begin each season, sometimes just a fraction ahead of the Sun Belt. Yet. this league produces a plethora of bowl-eligible teams. Last year was no different, as 10 of the 14 schools earned bowl eligibility, and nine received bowl invitations.

Last year, after a slow start that saw his team lose big to Navy and Wisconsin and then suffer a heartbreaking loss at Buffalo, Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic team caught fire and won their final 10 games. Included in the season-ending sweep were a CUSA Championship Game title and a victory in the Boca Raton Bowl, both by fat margins. The Owls finished the season averaging better than 40 points and almost 500 total yards per game, but Kiffin will have to rebuild on this side of the ball. Expect defense to help FAU contend for another conference title.

Marshall and Middle Tennessee should be FAU’s chief competition for the title. Coach Doc Holliday is one of the best recruiters in the Group of 5 conferences, and he has a lot of experienced talent returning to Marshall. If not for the fact that the Thundering Herd will have to break in a new quarterback and has no player that has thrown even one pass for the school in a game. Additionally, there will be a new offensive coordinator, as Tim Cramsey comes to Huntington from Sam Houston State and brings a new offense.  Of course, his 2017 SHU offense merely averaged better than 43 points per game and proved to be powerful running and passing the ball.

Middle Tennessee has the top returning quarterback in the division in Brent Stockstill, but the Blue Raiders have an iffy secondary and could be forced to outscore opponents every week.

The West Division looks like a three-team race. North Texas, Lousiana Tech, and UAB could finish in a three-way tie, with Southern Mississippi a distant fourth. Having two of the weakest FBS teams in the same division in Rice and UTEP, means that the other four division rivals can almost count on two conference victories already.

North Texas has the top overall quarterback in the league and maybe the best overall in the Lone Star State in Mason Fine. As a sophomore last season, he finished 6th nationally in passing yards, and he is the leading passing yardage leader among returning quarterbacks. Fine has most of his receiving corps returning this year, so if he gets just a little better pass protection, he could lead the Mean Green to the best season in Denton since Hayden Fry coached there in the late 1970’s. UNT Coach Seth Littrell is on a fast track to taking over a big time program. Every stop along the way, the team he has coached as an assistant set passing and total offense records. Mentoring Fine is not the first time he has trained a top prospect into a big-time talent. He previously tutored Nick Foles at Arizona.

UAB coach Bill Clark takes a back seat to nobody. How’s this for an incredible feat of wizardry? Clark stayed with the program when the school dropped football for two seasons. With just a handful of recruits to work with and a promise of playing again in the future, he recruited enough talent and then “coached ’em up.” Picked to maybe win two games by most pundits last year in their return to the game, UAB enjoyed an 8-win season and bid to the Bahamas Bowl. With 14 starters returning from last year’s first team back in football and a decent recruiting class, UAB should be right there with North Texas in the West Division race.

Skip Holtz is the big name in the West Division of CUSA, and his Louisiana Tech Bulldogs have to be considered one of the tri-favorites in this division. His team underperformed a bit last year but still managed to win seven times and make an appearance in the Frisco Bowl, where LT looked more like the team people expected them to be, dusting SMU 51-10. The Techsters have a lot of returning talent, and if said talent plays more like they did in the bowl and less like they did against Southern Miss and Rice, then the Bulldogs could make it back to the top of the division.

Here is how the CUSA media voted in the preseason poll.

Team
East Division 1st Place Votes
1. Florida Atlantic 22
2. Marshall 4
3. Middle Tennessee 0
4. Florida Int’l. 0
5. Western Kentucky 0
6. Old Dominion 0
7. Charlotte 0
Team
West Division 1st Place Votes
1. North Texas 18
2. Louisiana Tech 4
3. UAB 3
4. Southern Miss. 1
5. UTSA 0
6t. Rice 0
6t. UTEP 0

There were no votes for overall conference champion.

The PiRate Ratings basically confirm the media’s preseason opinions.

Conference USA
East Division
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Florida Atlantic 0-0 0-0 102.0 103.0 103.3 102.8
Marshall 0-0 0-0 94.3 97.1 95.0 95.5
Middle Tennessee 0-0 0-0 91.4 93.4 93.0 92.6
Old Dominion 0-0 0-0 87.5 91.3 89.0 89.3
Florida Int’l. 0-0 0-0 82.0 86.8 82.6 83.8
W. Kentucky 0-0 0-0 80.4 84.6 81.2 82.1
Charlotte 0-0 0-0 76.2 78.7 76.3 77.1
West Division
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisiana Tech 0-0 0-0 93.8 96.4 95.2 95.1
N. Texas 0-0 0-0 93.0 96.3 93.6 94.3
U A B 0-0 0-0 91.1 93.6 91.5 92.1
Southern Miss. 0-0 0-0 81.6 85.0 82.1 82.9
U T S A 0-0 0-0 80.2 85.6 81.6 82.5
Rice 0-0 0-0 71.4 74.5 69.7 71.9
U T E P 0-0 0-0 69.3 72.5 68.6 70.1
CUSA Averages 85.3 88.5 85.9 86.6

New Coaches

When a large majority of schools gain bowl eliibility, there are not going to be a lot of coaching dismissals. Unless coaches get better jobs, they will return to their respective schools. As mentioned previously, Rice and UTEP ranked in the bottom 10 of all FBS schools last year, and these two teams will welcome new leaders.

Rice hired MIke Bloomgren and hopes to get the same results that Bloomgren produced as offensive coordinator at Stanford. He also has experience coaching with the New York Jets during the Rex Ryan era. The Owls will use power running mixed with play-action passing and hope to improve on 16 points and 330 yards per game on offense. Thanks to home games with Prairie View and UTEP, Bloomgren should double the win total from one to two.

UTEP wore the collar last year, going 0-12 and losing by an average of 25 points per game. The Miners hired 55-year old Dana Dimel, who for the last decade has been the offensive coordinator at Kansas State. Dimel has past head coaching stops at Wyoming and Houston. He succeeded in Laramie but failed in Houston. In year one, he faces a gargantuan rebuilding process, but you cannot really go south from 0-12, unless you repeat with another 0-12 that includes a loss to an FCS team. Northern Arizona will be a tough FCS opponent for the Miners.

Predicted Won-Loss Records

East
Team Conference Overall
Florida Atlantic 8-0 11-2 *
Marshall 7-1 9-3
Middle Tennessee 6-2 7-5
Old Dominion 4-4 6-6
Western Kentucky 3-5 5-7
Florida Int’l. 2-6 3-9
Charlotte 0-8 1-11
West
Team Conference Overall
North Texas 6-2 9-4
UAB 6-2 9-3
Louisiana Tech 6-2 8-4
Southern Miss. 4-4 5-7
UTSA 3-5 5-7
Rice 1-7 2-11
UTEP 0-8 1-11
* Fla. Atlantic picked to win CUSA Championship Game

Bowl Tie-ins
CUSA does not have a set bowl order. They send teams to bowls to create the best overall matchups.

These are the bowls tie-ins for 2018.

Bahamas Bowl in Nassau, Bahamas
Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, FL
Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg, FL
Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu, HI
Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas, TX
New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, NM
New Orleans Bowl in New Orleans, LA

There are secondary bowl agreements with the Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, if those bowl need at-large alternates.

Coming Tomorrow–The Mid-American Conference

March 12, 2018

Selection Committee Got It Right–Only Because The Criteria Was Wrong

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee is under fire today for how teams like Oklahoma, Arizona State,  and Syracuse made the tournament, while teams like Saint Mary’s, Middle Tennessee State, and USC did not.

Don’t blame this Committee.  They did not create the criteria that they use to select the teams.  You wouldn’t blame a jury if the judge orders them not to consider the most convincing evidence in a trial, and it produces the opposite verdict.

We are hearing interesting rumors that Louisville and USC received punitive treatment due to the impending FBI probe, but we do not buy into this rumor.

The reality is that Oklahoma, Arizona State, and Syracuse are in the field, and USC, Saint Mary’s, and Middle Tennessee are not.

The PiRate Bracket Gurus correctly picked 67 of the 68 teams, missing on USC versus Syracuse.  They don’t want to make this sound like sour grapes here, and they are not responsible in the least for our comments, but we find it a laughing joke that the Trojans did not make the tournament, while Arizona State did make the tournament.

Again, it is not the Committee’s fault that the most convincing evidence that would show the superior team was not admissible in this case.  USC finished in 2nd place in the Pac-12, while Arizona State finished tied for 8th place, with only three teams below the Sun Devils in the standings.  USC bested ASU by four games in the conference standings!

How can a team finish 22.2% better in the majority part of an identical schedule than another team and see the weaker team make the tournament, while they did not?  This is why March Madness is more mad due to inferior selection criteria.

We repeat a comparison we made earlier this season.  Take the NFL Playoffs.  Let’s say that during the first month of the season, The New York Giants beat Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh and lead the NFC East at 4-0, while The Eagles are 2-2, with victories over Washington and Tampa Bay.

At this point in the season, the Giants are the best team in the NFL, while Philly is in the bottom half.  Now, from this point on, the Giants finish 5-7 for a 9-7 record.  The Eagles go 9-3 for an 11-5 record.

So, in the playoffs, the Giants are selected by the NFL Selection Committee due to their Quadrant 1 NFL wins in September, while the Eagles have to go to the Bert Bell Playoff Bowl in Miami (Google It–There really was a bowl game in the NFL).

If the NFL stages its playoffs this way, the league would be the laughingstock of sports.  The playoffs would be a big joke.  Yet, in college basketball, the public is brainwashed into believing that this giant tournament of mostly mediocrity is can’t miss entertainment.

The PiRates can easily miss seeing almost all these games where one or more of the combatants fared so poorly in the regular season that in decades past, their coaches might have been fired or put on a hot seat.

Allowing the 8th best team in a rather weak conference to have a chance to play for the national championship is par for the course in this everybody gets a trophy society.  When it comes down to it, neither USC nor Arizona State should have been invited to the NCAA Tournament.  Likewise, no team that did not win a conference championship should have been invited.  There are 32 conferences.  There should be 32 teams invited to the tournament, the 32 champions.

Before you say, “Hey Bucakroo, you cannot be serious about including Radford but not Duke,” let us preface that we favor just the 32 conference champions, but we also would favor handicapping the tournament so that the top 10 conference champions would receive byes to the Sweet 16, while the other 22 conference champions would have to compete in a play-in tournament to narrow from 22 to 12 to 6.  The 6 play-in winners would fill out the Sweet 16.

This is exactly how the NCAA Tournament used to be conducted.  Back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, six to eight conference champions received automatic byes to the Sweet 16, while 14 to 18 other conference champions (and top Independents) were forced to play-in to the Sweet 16.  The bye conferences were determined by the past 5 years results in prior NCAA Tournaments.

Four plus decades ago, over half of the division 1 teams in the East were independents, playing in a loosely-knit organization called the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference).  Prior to 1975, the ECAC was guaranteed two spots in the NCAA Tournament, while other Independents from the South, Midwest, and West could only be selected as at-large entries if and when the NCAA determined they were worthy.

Usually, 24 teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament.  There were eight teams that received byes and 16 teams that played into the Sweet 16.  On the third Saturday of March, the play-in games were played on neutral sites.  Then, on the following Thursday night (Friday night until 1968), the Sweet 16 Round was played, and the Elite 8 Round was played on Saturday.  There were regional consolation games to give each region four total games.

Then, the Final Four was played the following Thursday night with a consolation game and National Championship Game played on Saturday afternoon.  Starting in 1973, the Final Four moved to its present Saturday afternoon-Monday night format.

The explanation that the tournament became huge when it moved to 64 and then 68 teams is not actual fact.  The tournament was already big before it began to expand.  It would have continued to gain fan support if it had stayed exactly the same, and it is our opinion that it would be even bigger than it is today had it remained a tournament of conference champions.

With today’s format, a lot of really fantastic marquee games never happen.  The so-called media darling long shots that pull off a first round upset or sneak into the Sweet 16 eventually get blown out by a power conference team, giving the power conference team somewhat of a breather to the next round.  With 32 first round games, there are going to be a handful of upsets when a power team either overlooks the smaller school or comes out flat, while the other team plays the game of its lives.

The 1927 New York Yankees occasionally had an off day and lost to the Washington Senators (8 times that year).  They even lost a game to the St. Louis Browns.  There is always that odd day or night where things just don’t go the way they should 99% of the time.  It actually hurts the tournament when a #2 seed loses to a #15 seed, because the #15 seed isn’t going anywhere, while the #2 seed could have given the public a really incredible Elite 8 game against a #1 seed.

With that in mind, the PiRates have two separate ideas that would make the NCAA Basketball Tournament much better than it is now.  It would still give the Radford’s a real chance to compete for the title, and it would eliminate the ridiculous, human-error-laced, Selection Committee trying to create a reason why the 12-6 number two team from a power conference stays home, while the 8-10 number eight place (tied for 8th) team from that same conference makes the field.

Option A: Split Division 1 into D1 Large and D1 Small.  D1 Large would be the top 16 conferences, while D1 Small would be the bottom 16 conferences.

Conduct separate 16-team playoffs in the same manner that the NBA now uses.  4 rounds of best of 7 playoffs with the higher-ranked team getting home court advantage.  This option allows the home town fans a chance to see their team play on its home court, whereas only a handful of fans can afford to travel all over the map to watch them play in far away outposts.  How many Buffalo Bulls fans will make the trip to Boise, Idaho?

You could add a twist to the playoff formats and incorporate the relegation and promotion rules from soccer, where the conference of the Small Champion is promoted to Large, and the conference with the weakest-rated Large Champion being relegated to Small.

Imagine a Final Four with Arizona playing Kansas in a best of 7, and Virginia playing Michigan State in a best of 7.  What would the TV ratings be on these series rather than seeing a Sweet 16 game between one of these powers and a long shot low-major team that will lose by 20+ in the Sweet 16?  The two series would dwarf the ratings of today’s earlier rounds where teams are forced to play in the mornings and afternoons of weekdays.

Option B would be to revert back to how the tournament was conducted in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Take the 22 weakest conferences and send their champions to a 22 to 12 to 6 play-in.  Send the other 10 top conference champions expressly to the Sweet 16.

Sure, teams like North Carolina, Villanova, and Michigan would not be in the tournament, but then neither would be 8-10 Arizona State or 8-10 Syracuse.  Villanova, Michigan, Purdue, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and USC among others would give the 16-team (like it was when it was great) NIT a great group of teams, so great that they could return to playing all 15 games at Madison Square Garden.

Most of you reading this today are wondering what our schedule will be for the NCAA Tournament.  Usually, today is the day we release our annual Bracketnomics report showing what back-tested data has been successful in isolating past NCAA Tournament winners.

The PiRates have made some sweeping changes this year, as advanced metrics have made our past bracket-picking criteria somewhat obsolete.  We still have our exceptional R+T weighted rating, and it still represents a huge chunk of what works for us, but we have dropped a lot of the other former data.  With advanced metrics like true shooting% and a better way to compare teams based on strength of schedule, we will be releasing an all-inclusive, somewhat explanatory reveal Tuesday afternoon.

March 10, 2018

PiRate Ratings Bracketology Late Night Update–March 10-11 , 2018

The Bracket Gurus are burning the midnight oil and pouring more coffee as they try to determine who the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will invite into the Dance, and who will not hear the phone ring on Sunday.

At this point last year, most of the gurus were 100% in agreement on about 66 teams with only three teams really fighting for the final two spots.

There is a bit more dissension this season.  There are six teams seriously in the final discussion for three spots, but this will all change is Davidson beats Rhode Island on Sunday.  The Gurus are 100% in agreement in their belief that St. Bonaventure is in, so the Atlantic 10 could move from two to three teams if the Wildcats upset the Rams.

The teams that need to be worried about Davidson winning include Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Saint Mary’s, Louisville, and Middle Tennessee State.  The Gurus are close to eliminating Marquette, Baylor, and Syracuse, but these teams still appear on exactly one Guru list (three different Gurus have one each of the three).

Check back tomorrow after the conclusion of the Atlantic 10 Championship Game.  Within about 30 minutes of the outcome, we will publish our final Bracket Gurus report in full.  The pressure is on our Gurus.  Last year, they correctly picked all 68 teams in the field, and also correctly picked 61 teams on the correct seed line or just one seed off.

Teams In The Field as of Saturday Night, 11:59 PM EST

Team Bid Conf. W-L
Bucknell AUTO Patriot 25-9
Buffalo AUTO MAC 26-8
Charleston AUTO CAA 26-7
Gonzaga AUTO WCC 30-4
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13
Kansas AUTO B12 27-7
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9
Long Island AUTO NEC 18-16
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5
Marshall AUTO CUSA 24-10
MD-Baltimore Co. AUTO AE 24-10
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7
Montana AUTO BSky 26-7
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5
New Mexico St. AUTO WAC 28-5
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12
San Diego St. AUTO MWC 22-10
South Dakota St. AUTO Summit 28-6
Stephen F. Austin AUTO SLC 28-6
Texas Southern AUTO SWAC 15-19
UNC-Central AUTO MEAC 19-15
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7
Villanova AUTO BE 30-4
Virginia AUTO ACC 31-2
Wright St. AUTO Horizon 25-9

August 16, 2017

2017 Conference USA Preview

It’s day two of our annual college football conference previews.  Conference USA featured a lot of wide open, pass-it-all-over-the-field football last year, and in some weeks, perusing the league’s results left you wondering if this was football or basketball.  As an example, take the two division winners from 2016.  Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech met in the regular season, and then they had a rematch in the CUSA Championship Game.  The first time around Tech beat Western 56-52.  In the rematch, Western won the league title with a 58-44 victory.

Western Kentucky lost their offensive mastermind, when former coach Jeff Brohm took the Purdue job.  Will new Hilltopper head man Mike Sanford be able to keep the Toppers scoring 40 points per game?  The former Notre Dame offensive coordinator may be a tad more conservative in his play-calling, so we expect WKU will score less often this year.

However, the arrival of two new big-name coaches could add some points and excitement on the scoreboard in the Sunshine State.  Butch Davis is the new leader at Florida International, and Lane Kiffin takes over at Florida Atlantic.  A former CUSA coach returns to the league after a two-year hiatus without ever changing schools.  Welcome back UAB to college football.  Coach Bill Clark stayed loyal to the Blazers, and when UAB returns to the field on September 2 against Alabama A&M, the Blazers will have the same coach that guided the team to a very respectable 6-6 record in 2014.

Here is how the CUSA  media voted in the preseason poll.

CUSA-East  
# Team 1st Pl.
1 Western Kentucky 20
2 Middle Tennessee 4
3 Old Dominion 3
4 Marshall 1
5 Florida Atlantic 0
6 Florida Int’l 0
7 Charlotte 0
     
CUSA-West  
# Team 1st Pl.
1 Louisiana Tech 20
2 UTSA 7
3 Southern Miss. 1
4 North Texas 0
5 Rice 0
6 UTEP 0
7 UAB 0
Total Votes Not Released

The preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings believe the CUSA race will be exciting and closer than last year.

Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
W. Kentucky 99.8 97.3 101.6 99.6
Old Dominion 90.9 93.9 91.4 92.1
Middle Tennessee 90.5 91.6 91.4 91.2
Florida Int’l. 84.0 83.9 85.2 84.4
Florida Atlantic 82.5 86.1 83.6 84.1
Marshall 81.9 83.8 82.7 82.8
Charlotte 74.4 77.6 74.9 75.6
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
U T S A 91.3 93.1 93.5 92.6
Louisiana Tech 90.2 92.0 91.1 91.1
Southern Miss. 84.3 86.1 84.2 84.8
N. Texas 80.5 82.1 80.4 81.0
Rice 80.1 81.0 80.8 80.6
U T E P 74.8 79.3 76.1 76.8
UAB 63.7 69.2 65.9 66.3
         
CUSA Averages 89.9 92.1 91.0 91.0

Here are our not-so-scientific predictions for the league races, and the bowl projections.

Conference USA Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
East Division      
Old Dominion 7-1 10-3 Bahamas
W. Kentucky 6-2 9-3 St. Petersburg
Middle Tennessee 6-2 7-5 New Orleans
Florida Atlantic 5-3 6-6 [Armed Forces]
Florida Int’l. 3-5 4-8  
Marshall 2-6 3-9  
Charlotte 1-7 2-10  
       
Team Conference Overall  Bowl
West Division      
Louisiana Tech 7-1 9-4 Boca Raton
U T S A 7-1 9-3 Heart of Dallas
Southern Miss. 6-2 8-4 New Mexico
N. Texas 2-6 3-9  
U T E P 2-6 2-10  
UAB 1-7 2-10  
Rice 1-7 1-11  
 
Old Dominion to win CUSA Championship Game
Fla. Atlantic’s bid to the Armed Forces is an at-large bid

Coming tomorrow: The Mountain West Conference–Will Boise St. return to the top, or will the Broncos look up at last year’s surprise winner Wyoming or Colorado St.?  Can San Diego St. continue to dominate in the West Division, or will an up and comer like Hawaii knock the Aztecs off their throne?

 

 

 

 

August 14, 2017

2017 College Football Season Previews Premiere Tuesday, August 15

Ahoy, Mateys!  Come aboard the PiRate Ship for the 2017-18 College Football Season.  The PiRates have set sail for the season, and we hope we sail on smooth waters all year.

Beginning, Tuesday, August 15, 2017, in the afternoon in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone (after 18 Hours GMT), we will commence with the first of our conference previews for the season, previewing one new conference per day.  As usual, we will begin with the lowest rated conference and continue until we conclude the previews with the top-rated conference.  You may or may not be surprised this year, but there are some changes in the lower end and the upper end of the conference ratings.  For the first time since its inception, the Sun Belt Conference does not tally the lowest overall score.  This year, that dubious distinction befalls Conference USA, and it is CUSA that will be our first preview. EDIT: Our Apologies to CUSA.  It is the Mid-American Conference that came up with the lowest league average, so look for the MAC Preview on Tuesday.

Here is a proposed schedule for our website for the 2017-18 sports season 

Tuesdays: Updated Retrodictive and Predictive Ratings & Spreads for the upcoming College Week

Wednesdays: Updated NFL Ratings and Spreads for the upcoming NFL Week.

Thursdays: Our infamous Money Line Parlay Selections (JUST FOR FUN).

Fridays: Tentatively, we are hoping to bring back our historic Pro Football Simulations this season.  We are looking at simulating an NFL Season using the best teams for 14 franchises between 1950 and 1975.  The 14 NFL teams in existence in 1965 will be used, and we will use the rules from that season, culminating with the NFL Championship Game (and maybe the Playoff Bowl).

Check back Tuesday afternoon (EDT) for the first preview of the PiRate Season.

As usual, our ratings will be part of the Prediction Tracker and the Massey Football Ranking Composite

http://thepredictiontracker.com/

http://www.masseyratings.com/cf/compare.htm

August 15, 2016

2016 Conference USA Football Ratings Preview

Conference USA has lost a lot of its prestige in recent years because the league has lost several teams with historic football success. At one time, Houston, Tulsa, East Carolina, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Memphis were members of the league.

In current times, CUSA has been able to barely avoid the basement as the weakest conference, maintaining a small edge over the Sun Belt.

The league race should be competitive this year, as three teams appear to be talented enough to contend for the East Division title. The West looks less competitive, but after prohibitive favorite Southern Mississippi, there are two or three teams capable of making a surprise run to the division title.

In the last two years, Marshall and Western Kentucky have been contenders for the automatic New Year’s Six Bowls, but no CUSA team figures to be in contention this year.

Here is a look at the Pre-season media poll. No vote counts were issued or for that matter, the media did not vote on overall conference champion.

CUSA-East
# Team
1 Middle Tennessee
2 Western Kentucky
3 Marshall
4 Florida Atlantic
5 Florida Int’l.
6 Old Dominion
7 Charlotte
   
CUSA-West
# Team
1 Southern Miss.
2 Louisiana Tech
3 Rice
4 UTEP
5 UTSA
6 North Texas

This is how the PiRate Ratings see the divisional races

Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 99.1 93.1 99.8 97.3
Marshall 92.3 96.7 94.1 94.4
Middle Tennessee 92.0 94.6 93.1 93.3
Old Dominion 85.7 89.1 86.3 87.0
Florida Atlantic 84.8 88.5 86.7 86.7
Florida Int’l. 82.3 89.5 84.2 85.3
Charlotte 72.9 81.0 74.5 76.2
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Southern Miss. 92.7 92.1 93.8 92.9
Rice 84.7 94.1 85.1 88.0
Louisiana Tech 85.4 88.6 86.0 86.7
UTSA 78.4 87.1 80.9 82.2
UTEP 74.5 79.5 75.8 76.6
North Texas 74.0 76.6 73.7 74.8
         
CUSA Averages 84.5 88.5 85.7 86.3

 

The PiRate Ratings are best used just to look forward to the next week game schedule.  These ratings cannot really be used to predict won-loss records, so with that caveat, here are the projected won-loss records based on the ratings alone.

Conference USA Projected Standings
East Division  Conference  Overall  Bowl
Marshall 7-1 10-3 * Hawaii
Western Kentucky 7-1 9-3 New Orleans
Middle Tennessee 6-2 7-5 Heart of Dallas
Florida Int’l. 4-4 6-6 Bowl Eligible
Old Dominion 4-4 6-6 Bowl Eligible
Florida Atlantic 3-5 5-7  
Charlotte 0-8 1-11  
       
West Division   Conference   Overall   Bowl
Southern Miss. 8-0 10-3 Boca Raton
Rice 5-3 6-6 New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 4-4 6-6 Arizona
UTSA 3-5 4-8  
UTEP 1-7 3-9  
North Texas 0-8 1-11  
       
* Marshall to win CUSA Championship Game

Next Preview: Wednesday, August 17–Mid-American Conference Preview

 

 

 

 

 

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