The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 15, 2018

2018 NCAA Division 1 Conference Tournament Schedule

Here is a look at the 32 Division 1 conferences’ tournament schedules.  A few league still have “to be announced starting times.”

America East Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
Tournament Re-seeded after quarterfinals
Top 8 Teams
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 ESPN3
TBA #4 #5 ESPN3
TBA #2 #7 ESPN3
TBA #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
TBA 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA Higher Lower ESPN2

Vermont (11-0/21-5) has won 14 games in a row and should be the overwhelming favorite to return to the NCAA Tournament.  The Catamounts are one of the better shooting teams from behind the arc, and they are sneaking good on the boards.  They will not be an easy out for a favored power conference team in the first round.

American Athletic Conference Tournament
Orlando, FL
First 3 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM # 8 #9 ESPNU
2:30 PM #5 #12 ESPNU
6:00 PM #7 #10 ESPNU
8:30 PM #6 #11 ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPNU
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBS
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBS
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

Cincinnati (12-0/23-2) faces three tough regular season  games on their schedule before the AAC Tournament begins.  The Bearcats play at Houston (9-3/19-5) tonight in a game you can see on CBSSN at 7 PM Eastern.  UC looks like a national championship contender.  The Bearcats are number one in the nation in field goal percentage defense and in scoring margin.  The team is one of the quickest teams we have seen in many years, and they plug defensive holes fast enough to give up many decent shots.  Coach Mick Cronin’s forces are better offensively this year, because they just may be the best passing team in college basketball.  The ball moves much quicker through the air than by the dribble, and combining fast player movement with crisp passing makes it hard to contain.  The only question is whether the Bearcats have played a tough enough schedule.  Road games at Houston and Wichita State will give us the answer.

Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament
Washington, DC
First 4 Rounds EST/Championship EDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 #13  
8:30 PM #11 #14  
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 NBCSN
2:30 PM #5 12 or 13 NBCSN
6:00 PM #7 #10 NBCSN
8:30 PM #6 11 or 14 NBCSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 NBCSN
2:30 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 NBCSN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 NBCSN
8:30 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 NBCSN
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 CBSSN
3:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

Rhode Island (13-0/21-3) has secured a bid to the NCAA Tournament with or without the automatic bid.  Should somebody upset the Rams in the A-10 Tournament, there will be an extra A-10 team dancing, which means one bubble will pop.  URI has a 16-game winning streak, and Danny Hurley will become a hot commodity in the coaching wars in late March and April.

Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Brooklyn
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #12 #13 ESPN2
2:00 PM #10 #15 ESPN2
7:00 PM #11 #14 ESPNU
       
Second Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN
2:00 PM #5 12 or 13 ESPN
7:00 PM #7 10 or 15 ESPN2
9:00 PM #6 11 or 14 ESPN2
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN
2:00 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
7:00 PM #2 7, 10, or 15 ESPN
9:00 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 ESPN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 TBA
9:00 PM 2, 7, 10, or 15 3, 6, 11, or 14 TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:30 PM     ESPN

Virginia (13-1/24-2) lost at home to rival Virginia Tech (7-6/18-8), placing the Hokies many places higher on the Bubble.  This tournament should be up for grabs, because there are many quality teams.  One will get hot and play its best basketball of the season, and that team will earn the automatic bid.  Keep an eye on North Carolina State (7-6/17-9).  First year coach Kevin Keatts proved to be one of the best tournament coaches when he was at UNCW, and his players have played well above their talent levels for him.  Just a tad more improvement, and the Wolf Pack could be dangerous in the Barclay’s Center.

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 26
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 Florida Gulf Coast #8 ESPN3
TBA #4 #5 ESPN3
TBA #2 #7 ESPN3
TBA #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA 1 or 8 4 or 5 ESPN3
TBA 2 or 7 3 or 6 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA     ESPN

Florida Gulf Coast (11-0/20-8) has already secured the top seed and will host every game it plays in the A-Sun Tournament.  This Eagles team is not as strong as the great dunking 2013 team that advanced to the Sweet 16, but it will be a major upset if FGCU loses.

Big 12 Conference Tournament
Kansas City
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 ESPNU
8:00 PM #7 #10 ESPNU
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #4 #5 ESPN2
1:30 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPNU
8:00 PM #3 #6 ESPNU
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN2
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPN

This will be one interesting and exciting tournament.  Except for Iowa State, any of the other nine teams has the ability to win this tournament.  It will be important to finish in the top six to avoid having to play an extra game to win the thing, but even the 7 through 9 seeds will have chances to win four games in four days.  Baylor (6-7/16-10) has won four straight games to move from the cellar to a fifth place tie.  The Bears are the hot team, and their wins at Oklahoma State and Texas plus a home win over Kansas proves that they are good enough to keep winning.  Saturday’s game against front-runner Texas Tech (10-3/22-4) should be one of the best of the weekend.

Big East Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #8 #9 FS1
9:30 PM #7 #10 FS1
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 FS1
2:30 PM #4 #5 FS1
7:00 PM #2 7 or 10 FS1
9:30 PM #3 #6 FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM 1, 8,or 9 4 or 5 FS1
9:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 FS1
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM     Fox

Villanova (10-3/23-3) dropped from the top of the polls and then dropped from the top of the conference.  Xavier (12-2/24-3) is the hot team, but the Musketeers have eeked out a lot of their wins this year.  Teams that pick up many close wins seldom advance to the Final Four, but it is not impossible.  Xavier pinned one of the losses on Cincinnati, and it is slightly possible that the Final Four could have two teams from the Queen City.

After losing 11 games in a row, St. John’s (3-11/14-13) has won four in a row, including two over top five teams (Duke and Villanova).  Seldom does the last place team look capable of winning a power conference tournament, but there is precedence.  Virginia won the ACC after finishing last in the standings one season in the 1970’s.

Big Sky Conference Tournament
Reno, NV
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 Pluto tv
2:30 PM #5 #12 Pluto tv
5:30 PM #7 #10 Pluto tv
8:00 PM #6 #11 Pluto tv
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Pluto tv
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Pluto tv
5:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Pluto tv
8:00 PM #3 6 or 11 Pluto tv
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 Pluto tv
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 Pluto tv
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM     ESPNU

Three teams have put it together in the month of February, and one of the three should win the tournament.  Montana (13-0/20-5) has won 13 games in a row; Weber St. (10-2/17-7) has won 7 in a row; and Idaho (9-3/17-7) has won 4 in a row.  Montana plays at Idaho on Saturday.

Big South Conference Tournament
1st Round & Championship Game at Higher Seeds
Quarterfinals and Semfinals at #1 Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
7:00 PM #7 #10 BSN
7:00 PM #8 #9 BSN
BSN TV at http://bigsouthsports.com    
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
3:30 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Home Visitors TV
6:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN3
8:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
1:00 PM     ESPN

UNC-Asheville (11-3/18-9) was the preseason pick to win the Big South, but the Bulldogs underachieved through early January.  Since then, UNCA has passed four teams to move to the top of the standings, riding a 7-game winning streak.  Keep an eye on eighth place Charleston Southern (6-8/11-14).  The Buccaneers have won four of five games, and they could easily be 9-9 by the time the tournament starts.  Many of CSU’s losses have been close, including road losses against the top part of the league.  The Bucs are peaking at the right time.

Big Ten Conference Tournament
New York City
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #12 #13 Big Ten
7:45 PM #11 #14 Big Ten
       
Second Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 Big Ten
2:15 PM #5 12 or 13 Big Ten
6:30 PM #7 #10 Big Ten
8:45 PM #6 11 or 14 Big Ten
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Big Ten
2:15 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 Big Ten
6:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Big Ten
8:45 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 Big Ten
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 CBS
4:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 CBS
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:30 PM     CBS

The Big Ten season is ending early this year so the league can stage its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.  MSG also hosts the Big East Tournament.

The top three teams (Ohio St. 13-1/22-5), Michigan St. (13-2/25-3), and Purdue (12-2/23-4) have separated themselves from the rest of the field and are all safely in the Dance.  Michigan (10-5/21-7) is close to a lock.  There are three or four other teams that will begin the tournament needing multiple wins to have a chance to get into the field.  Nebraska (11-4/20-8) is a victim of the new way of picking at-large teams.  In past years, the Cornhuskers would be a near lock with an 11-4 record in the Big Ten.  With the new quadrant system being used, Nebraska does not have a Quadrant 1 win and not enough Quadrant 2 wins.  The Huskers have three winnable conference games and could be 14-4 in the league and still back on the Bubble, so NU will need to do some damage in the Big Apple.

Big West Conference Tournament
Anaheim, CA
Top 8 Teams Qualify & Tournament Re-seeds for Semifinals
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #2 #7 FSWest
2:30 PM #3 #6 FSWest
6:00 PM #1 #8 FSWest
8:30 PM #4 #5 FSWest
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining TBA
9:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

UC-Santa Barbara (8-2/19-5), UC-Irvine (8-3/13-14), UC-Davis (7-4/16-9), Cal State Fullerton (7-4/14-9), and Long Beach St. (7-4/13-14) have stayed bunched together all season, and no team has a great edge over any other.  With the game at the Honda Center in Anaheim, there are basically three home teams in UCI, CSF, and LBSU.  This one is up for grabs.

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament
North Charleston, SC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 CAA TV
8:30 PM #7 #10 CAA TV
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Comcast
2:30 PM #4 #5 Comcast
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 Comcast
8:30 PM #3 #6 Comcast
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     CBSSN

In the late 1990’s John Kresse took College of Charleston to multiple NCAA Tournaments.  The Cougars (11-3/20-6) have not been to the Big Dance since, but this looks like the most promising year this century for C of C.  The Cougars are strong in the backcourt and have a beefy forward in Jarrell Brantley.

Conference USA Tournament
Frisco, TX
Top 12 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
Note: This facility splits into two separate courts until the semifinals
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 TBA
6:30 PM #5 #12 TBA
8:30 PM #7 #10 TBA
9:00 PM #6 #11 TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Stadium
6:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Stadium
8:30 PM #2 7 or 10 Stadium
9:00 PM #3 6 or 11 Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBSSN
3:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:30 PM     CBSSN

Middle Tennessee (12-1/20-5) will be the favorite, but the Blue Raiders will not waltz to an easy three-peat in CUSA.  The tournament has been moved to the North Dallas suburbs, where it will be played on the Cowboys’ practice facility.  The football field will be split into two courts so that two games can be played at a time (women’s tournament will also be there simultaneously).

The next three best teams, Western Kentucky (10-2/18-7), Old Dominion (10-2/19-5), and Marshall (8-4/17-8) have very little chance of sniffing an at-large bid.  WKU may have a slight chance, but realistically the Hilltoppers need to win out in the regular season and make it to the finals before their at-large hopes would be legitimate.

It’s the tier below these top four that should concern Middle Tennessee the most.  North Texas (7-5/14-11) is virtually a home team in the conference tournament.  UTSA (7-5/14-11) has improved by 10 points since December.  UAB (7-6/16-10) has not yet played up to its talent level, which means the Blazers could peak at tournament time.

Horizon League Tournament
Detroit (Motor City Madness)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:30 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
8:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
5:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
8:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
       
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
7:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPNU
9:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPNU
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

Northern Kentucky (12-2/19-7) and Wright St. (11-3/19-8) have flip-flopped between first and second place all year.  Northern Kentucky is the defending conference champions, and the Norse were the overwhelming favorite to repeat this year.

There are a couple more teams to consider in this tournament.  UIC (10-4/15-12) has quietly moved into third following a 7-game winning streak, and the top two teams still must visit UIC Pavilion.  Oakland (8-6/16-11) has a powerful, up-tempo offense, which is not all that consistent.  When consistent, the Golden Grizzlies have the ability to beat any league opponent.  Oakland won by 13 at NKU.

Ivy League Tournament
Philadelphia (Ivy Madness)
Top 4 Teams Qualify
Semifinals EST Championship Game EDT
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:30 PM #1 #4 ESPNU
3:00 PM #2 #3 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

Penn (7-1/17-7) and Harvard (7-1/12-11) have secured half of the spots in the field of four that will square off at the Palestra.  The Quakers will have the home court advantage.

The other two spots are still very much up for grabs with five teams competing and six conference games remaining.  This is a down year for the Ivy, and the winner of the tournament will most likely face a #1 seed in the first round if not forced to go to Dayton for the First Four.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament
Albany, NY
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM # 8 #9 ESPN3
7:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
9:00 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
9:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
9:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
9:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     TBA

This is a league in transition, as its previous top teams have settled back in the pack.  The current top three in the standings are the three teams playing their best ball in February, and we would tend to believe that one of the trio will win the automatic bid.  Those three teams are: Rider (12-2/19-7), Canisius (12-2/18-9), and Niagara (10-4/17-10).  For Rider and Canisius, it was the mid 1990’s when they were in the NCAA Tournament, while Niagara went in 2007.

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Cleveland (First Round at Higher Seeds)
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #8 #9 TBA
TBA #5 #12 TBA
TBA #7 #10 TBA
TBA #6 #11 TBA
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN3
6:30 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
9:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 CBSSN
9:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 See *
* This game will be available at cbssports.com
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

Buffalo (11-2/19-7) looked like the clear-cut favorite until the last week or so, and now the Bulls have stiff competition from Toledo (11-2/19-7).  However, historically, the MAC Tournament has seen an abnormally large number of surprises.  We don’t expect it to be any different this year.  Central Michigan (5-8/16-10) has disappointed this year, as their talent level is better than their results so far.  The Chippewas are a very longshot to win the tournament, but it would not surprise us if CMU looks much stronger in Cleveland–if they get there.

Mideastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Norfolk, VA
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 #13 ESPN3
9:00 PM #5 #12 ESPN3
       
First Round–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
6:30 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
9:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
8:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
8:00 PM 4 or 13 5 or 12 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 ESPN3
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

The winner of this conference may be forced to go to the First Four round in Dayton, but there is one team from this league that no other 16-seed wants to see in Dayton.  Savannah State (10-1/13-13) is the most up-tempo team in Division 1.  Watching the Tigers play is the closest thing to watching UNLV play in the 1970’s (not like Loyola Marymount under Paul Westhead.)  Former Georgetown great Horace Broadnax has had a total change in coaching paradigm in the last two years.  He used to coach like his mentor John Thompson, emphasizing defense and patient offense.  Now, Broadnax’s Tigers play like a Mike D’Antoni-coached team.  There is little need for a shot-clock in SSU games.  The Tigers average better than 84 possessions per game.  They take more than 73 field goal attempts per game.  They force more than 18 turnovers per game and average close to 10 steals per game, and they score 86.5 points per game.  If it weren’t for an inability to rebound, we would have SSU on our list of low majors with a legitimate chance to upset a power team in the Round of 64.  If they get to the NCAA Tournament and advance past the First Four, they will be forced to play somebody like Virginia, Villanova, or Cincinnati, and they don’t have the muscle to pull off the biggest upset in the history of the Dance.  However, if they get there, you will want to watch them play.

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
St. Louis (Arch Madness)
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 MVC TV
8:30 PM #7 #10 MVC TV
       
Quarterfinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 MVC TV
2:30 PM #4 #5 MVC TV
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 MVC TV
8:30 PM #3 #6 MVC TV
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
5:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     CBS

With Wichita State now in the AAC, it figured that the Valley race would be wide open.  While it still may be so, it sure looks like Loyola (Chi.) (12-3/22-5) is doing its best to return to glory.  The Ramblers won it all in 1963, and they have only been back to the NCAA Tournament one time since legendary coach George Ireland retired in the late 1960’s.  Southern Illinois (10-5/18-10) was a national joke a few years ago when Coach Barry Hinson went on one of the most famous rants in coaching history, and ESPN featured it for two days.  Hinson has never taken a team to the NCAA Tournament in 17 years as a head coach.

Mountain West Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:00 AM # 8 #9 Stadium
1:30 PM #7 #10 Stadium
4:00 PM #6 #11 Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 CBSSN
2:30 PM #4 #5 CBSSN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 CBSSN
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 CBSSN
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 CBSSN
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     CBS

In our opinion, Eric Musselman should be the National Coach of the Year.  His Nevada Wolfpack (11-2/22-5) has 10 transfers on the roster.  Musselman inherited a 22-game loser in Reno when he arrived three years ago and immediately turned the program around, going 24-14 and winning the CBI Tournament.  He won both the regular season and conference tournament last year, but Nevada quickly got behind by double digits against Iowa State in the first round and went home after one game.

This year, Nevada has the tools to do some damage in the tournament.  They are most likely going back as an at-large team if they do not win the automatic bid.

Boise State (10-4/20-6) is worthy of making the tournament even if the Broncos cannot top Nevada for the conference tournament title.  Former Mark Few assistant Leon Rice has built the BSU program up to where it is now on par with the football program.  Rice could be in line for a pay raise and a relocation to a power conference school.

Northeast Conference Tournament
All Games at Higher Seed
Top 8 Teams Qualify and Tournament Re-seeds after Quarterfinals
All Times EST
       
Quarterfinals–February 28
Time Home Team Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 NEC *
TBA #2 #7 NEC *
TBA #3 #6 NEC *
TBA #4 #5 NEC *
* NEC Front Row at http://necfrontrow.com/
       
Semifinals–March 3
Time Home Team Visitors TV
12:00 PM Highest Remaining Lowest Remaining ESPN3
2:00 PM 2nd Highest 3rd Highest ESPN3
       
Championship–March 6
Time Home Team Visitors TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The NEC is a candidate for placing its automatic qualifier in a First Four game.  No league team this year has enough force to do any damage in the NCAA Tournament.  First place Wagner (11-3/18-7) is not much of a favorite to win the NEC Tournament.  The Seahawks’ three conference losses came to teams in the lower half of the standings.

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
Evansville, IN
Top 8 Teams Qualify, Southeast Missouri ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
First Round–February 28
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #5 #8 OVC
8:30 PM #6 #7 OVC
OVC Network at http://www.ovcdigitalnetwork.com/watch
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:30 PM #4 5 or 8 OVC
8:30 PM #3 6 or 7 OVC
       
Semifinals–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM #1 4, 5, or 8 ESPNU
9:00 PM #2 3, 6, or 7 ESPNU
       
Championship–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPN2

The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament is set up so that the top two seeds have large advantages over the rest of the field.  The top two start in the semifinals and only have to win twice to earn the automatic bid.

It also severely handicaps the rest of the field when the top two are considerably better than the rest of the field.  Murray State (12-2/20-5) and Belmont (12-2/20-7) have dominated the league for years, and both are capable of knocking off a favored opponent in the opening round.

The tournament has moved away from Nashville to Evansville, Indiana, so Belmont will not have a home town advantage.  Murray, Kentucky, is an easy drive from Evansville, but then so is Nashville.  It should make for a grand finale if the Racers and Bruins meet for all the marbles.

Pacific 12 Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM # 8 #9 Pac12
2:30 PM #5 #12 Pac12
6:00 PM #7 #10 Pac12
8:30 PM #6 #11 Pac12
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 Pac12
2:30 PM #4 5 or 12 Pac12
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 Pac12
8:30 PM #3 6 or 11 FS1
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 Pac12
8:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 FS1
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     FS1

The Pac-12 may not be the best conference in the West this year.  The best four teams, maybe five teams, out West are not from the Pac-12.  Arizona (10-3/20-6) may not be as strong as Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Nevada, Boise State, and maybe New Mexico State.  So, it figures that the league will send a minimum number of teams to the Big Dance, maybe just two or three.

Arizona State (7-6/19-6) was once a lock for the NCAA Tournament, and the Sun Devils will most likely make it into the field because of the new criteria, where the way a team ends the season is not considered at all.  Wins over Kansas, Kansas State, and Xavier should be enough to get Bobby Hurley’s team into the field, where you can bet they will be placed in position to play Rhode Island in the first or second game, and the Committee will claim it was purely coincidental.

The Arizona rivals face off in Tempe tonight, and it should be one worth watching.  Tune in to ESPN at 9:00 PM Eastern.

USC, Oregon, and Washington still have work to do to make it into the field, while Utah, Colorado, and Stanford are probably looking at only an automatic bid as a means of Dancing.

Patriot League Tournament
All Games Played at Higher Seed
All Times EST
       
First Round–February 27
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #7 #10 Stadium
TBA #8 #9 Stadium
       
Quarterfinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 Bucknell 8 or 9 Stadium
TBA #4 #5 Stadium
TBA #2 7 or 10 Stadium
TBA #3 #6 Stadium
       
Semifinals–March 1
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA 1 or 8 4 or 5 CBSSN
TBA 2 or 7 3 or 6 CBSSN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA     CBSSN

Bucknell (13-2/19-9) secured the top seed this past weekend, so the Bison will host any game they play in the Pat Tourney.  One of their two league defeats came at home, so it is possible that they could be upset, but not very likely.

Southeastern Conference Tournament
St. Louis
First 4 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #12 #13 SECTV
8:30 PM #11 #14 SECTV
       
Second Round–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #8 #9 SECTV
2:30 PM #5 12 or 13 SECTV
6:00 PM #7 #10 SECTV
8:30 PM #6 11 or 14 SECTV
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN
2:30 PM #4 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 SECTV
8:30 PM #3 6, 11, or 14 SECTV
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, 12, or 13 ESPN
2:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, 11, or 14 ESPN
       
Championship–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM     ESPN

There will be a double dose of Arch Madness this year, as the SEC moves its tournament to St. Louis.  It happens to coincide with the return to power of Missouri (8-5/18-8), and the Tigers’ fans may rival those from the Bluegrass.  Coach Cuonzo Martin was born just across the river, and he will have a loyal following as Mizzou has to be considered a co-favorite to win the conference tournament.  Now, if Michael Porter can suit up and play any amount of meaningful minutes, Missouri will become the odds-on favorite to win the tournament.

Auburn (11-2/23-3) will win the regular season title, while Tennessee (9-4/19-6) will most likely finish second, but the PiRates do not believe either team’s style of play and talent can win three games in three days.  If Missouri doesn’t win the tournament, it could be Alabama (8-5/17-9), a team with tough defense and enough offense to win three times in three days.

Of course, there are Florida (8-5/17-9) and Kentucky (6-7/17-9).  Who would ever count out either team with the incredible talent on both rosters?  It would not be a surprise if one or both peaked at the right time.

Southern Conference Tournament
Asheville, NC
All Times EST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #8 #9 ESPN3
7:30 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
6:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
8:30 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
4:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN3
6:30 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
9:00 PM     ESPN2

This looks like a two-team race.  East Tennessee (13-1/22-5) was cruising along with the nation’s best winning streak at 16, before they crashed and burned at UNC-Greensboro (11-2/20-6).  If anybody else wins the automatic bid, it is going to be a quick one and done.  Both ETSU and UNCG have the talent to win an opening round game.  ETSU has the strong front court, while UNCG has a fantastic press defense.

Southland Conference Tournament
Katy, TX
Top 8 Teams Qualify
All Times CST
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #5 #8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 #7 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #4 5 or 8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 6 or 7 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
5:00 PM #1 4, 5, or 8 ESPN3
7:30 PM #2 3, 6, or 7 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

This is no longer Stephen F. Austin (10-3/21-5) and the 7 Dwarfs.  The Lumberjacks may very well win the conference tournament again this year, but they won’t just show up and receive the trophy.

Nicholls State (11-2/17-9) and Southeast Louisiana (11-3/17-10) rank ahead of SFA at the moment, and Sam Houston State (10-4/16-11) and New Orleans (10-4/13-12) are bunched up in a tight race.  None of the contenders have exceptionally strong resumes, so this league could be staring at a 16-seed in the tourney.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
First Round at Higher Seed, Semifinal and Final Round in Houston
Grambling and Alabama A&M are ineligible due to low APR Scores
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 6
Time Home Visitors TV
TBA #1 #8 TBA
TBA #4 #5 TBA
TBA #2 #7 TBA
TBA #3 #6 TBA
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
2:30 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 TBA
8:30 PM 2 or 7 3 or 6 TBA
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
3:00 PM     ESPN2

It hurts that the best team, Grambling (10-3/14-12) in the league is ineligible to play in the NCAA Tournament.  The other nine teams have losing records, so the winner of this conference tournament will almost assuredly be playing in Dayton in the First Four round.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-4/9-18) went 0-14 outside of the SWAC, yet the Lions could be the favorite to win the tournament.  Southern (8-5/12-14) and Alabama St. (6-6/6-18) are actually the two hottest teams at the moment.

Summit League Tournament
Sioux Falls, MS
All Times CST
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #1 #8 MidcoSN
8:30 PM #2 #7 MidcoSN
       
Quarterfinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #4 #5 MidcoSN
8:30 PM #3 #6 MidcoSN
       
Semifinals–March 5
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 MidcoSN
8:30 PM 2 or 7 3 or 6 MidcoSN
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
8:00 PM     ESPN2

The top two teams will send a lot of fans to Sioux Falls to make their games feel like home games.  South Dakota State (10-1/22-6) and South Dakota (10-2/23-6) have to be considered prohibitive co-favorites, but we will keep a careful eye on Fort Wayne (6-6/17-12).  The Mastodons are like the Boston Red Sox during the Ted Williams days.  You know they are going to score, score, score with a powerful offense, but you never know if they are going to give up too many to the opponent.  If you saw the second half of Fort Wayne’s two-point loss at SDSU, you know that when this team puts it all together, they can beat any team in the Summit.  Indiana coach Archie Miller will tell you how talented these guys are.  The question is, will they ever put it all together for three consecutive days?

Sun Belt Conference Tournament
New Orleans
First 3 Rounds CST, Championship Game CDT
       
First Round–March 7
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM # 8 #9 ESPN3
2:00 PM #5 #12 ESPN3
5:00 PM #7 #10 ESPN3
7:30 PM #6 #11 ESPN3
       
Quarterfinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM #1 8 or 9 ESPN3
2:00 PM #4 5 or 12 ESPN3
5:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN3
7:30 PM #3 6 or 11 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
11:30 AM 1, 8, or 9 4, 5, or 12 ESPN3
2:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3, 6, or 11 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 11
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM     ESPN2

A month ago, this tournament looked like a mere formality where the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (11-1/21-4) would party in New Orleans.  As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friends.”  From almost out of nowhere, Georgia State (10-3/19-7).  A recent 10-game winning streak, which included a 14-point trouncing of ULL, brought GSU to within a game of first place.

West Coast Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
First Round–March 2
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM #8 #9 The W
8:00 PM #7 #10 The W
The W at: http://www.wccsports.com/ot/upcoming-events.html
       
Quarterfinals–March 3
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
1:00 PM #3 #6 The W
3:00 PM #4 #5 The W
7:00 PM #1 8 or 9 ESPN2
9:00 PM #2 7 or 10 ESPN2
       
Semifinals–March 4
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 1, 8, or 9 4 or 5 ESPN
8:00 PM 2, 7, or 10 3 or 6 ESPN2
       
Championship–March 6
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM     ESPN

We know about the top two teams, as they are always in contention for an NCAA bid every year.  Gonzaga (13-1/23-4) is no longer a mid-major team.  Once you make it to within a couple minutes of a national championship, you deserve the ranks to join teams from the past like UNLV, Marquette, Jacksonville, and UTEP that came to national prominence from out of nowhere.

Saint Mary’s (13-1/24-3) is not that far behind Gonzaga.  With Jock Londale in the post, they may have the top center in the nation.  SMU should get into the Dance as an at-large if they do not win the automatic bid.

Now, the question is can a third team earn a bubble-busting spot by beating both of the league powers?  BYU (9-5/20-7) certainly has the talent to get hot and run the table at Orleans Arena.  The Cougars can be tough to match up with, especially when they get their running game going.

Western Athletic Conference Tournament
Las Vegas
All Times PST
       
Quarterfinals–March 8
Time Home Visitors TV
12:00 PM #3 #6 ESPN3
2:30 PM #2 #7 ESPN3
6:00 PM #1 #8 ESPN3
8:30 PM #4 #5 ESPN3
       
Semifinals–March 9
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
6:00 PM 3 or 6 2 or 7 ESPN3
8:30 PM 1 or 8 4 or 5 ESPN3
       
Championship–March 10
Time Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
7:00 PM     ESPNU

This is a league with one really good team and three or four average teams that have the capability to sneak into the tournament title.  It would be ashamed for this league if New Mexico State (9-0/22-3) were to be upset in the tournament and end up as a 1-seed in the NIT.  The Aggies may have their best team in Las Cruces since Lou Henson took the 1970 team to the Final Four.  Coach Chris Jans has been rebuilding his reputation, and after a stint as Gregg Marshall’s assistant at Wichita State, he has made a strong comeback in his first year at NMSU.  He may be able to set up a long dynasty in the WAC.

Before you think that the Aggies will go through the motions and win the league title, there are four other decent teams that can beat them.  Seattle (6-3/17-9) and Utah Valley (6-3/17-8) are tied for second, but we believe that Grand Canyon (6-4/17-9) may be the team that best has the tools to upset NMSU.  The Antelopes are coached by former NBA tough man, Dan Majerle, and his teams are an extension of his hustle.

 

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August 17, 2017

2017 Mountain West Conference Preview

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:37 am

In past years, the Mountain West Conference preview has come several days later.  We preview the conferences in reverse order of their overall power rating, and the MWC starts the 2017 season at its lowest rank in many years.  Part of that reason is that the one power program, Boise State, is not so powerful these days.  The Broncos are still very much a contender to win the Mountain Division and play in the league championship game, but they are not a prohibitive favorite, nor are they the regular favorite.

Last year, five teams competed for the Mountain Division title, while San Diego State cruised to the West Division title with no competition.  It should be more of the same formula this year, as the MWC Championship Game is starting to look like the Aztec Invitational Tournament.

Here is how the MWC Media picked the races in the preseason.

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Boise St. 21 161
2 Colorado St. 6 135
3 Wyoming 1 114
4 Air Force 0 82
5 New Mexico 0 68
6 Utah St. 0 28
       
West Divsion
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 San Diego St. 28 168
2 Hawaii 0 135
3 UNLV 0 105
4 Nevada 0 79
5 San Jose St. 0 54
6 Fresno St. 0 47

The Preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings agree with SDSU being the clear cut favorite in the West, but they do not agree with the Mountain Division pick.  It looks like a three-team race in this division.

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colo. State 101.3 100.5 101.2 101.0
Wyoming 99.0 96.4 97.8 97.7
Boise St. 98.4 96.6 97.6 97.5
New Mexico 92.8 93.3 93.7 93.3
Air Force 91.5 92.2 91.8 91.8
Utah St. 87.7 86.7 86.9 87.1
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 99.7 100.7 101.3 100.6
Hawaii 88.8 90.8 88.6 89.4
U N L V 85.3 88.5 85.7 86.5
San Jose St. 86.2 85.5 85.5 85.7
Fresno St. 85.6 84.2 85.7 85.2
Nevada 83.0 86.9 85.3 85.0
         
MWC Averages 91.6 91.9 91.8 91.7

This is our not-so-scientific look at the projected standings and bowl projections.

Mountain West Conference Projected Standings
       
Mountain Division Conference Overall Bowl
Wyoming 7-1 9-4 Idaho Potato
Colorado St. 7-1 9-3 Hawaii
Boise St. 6-2 8-4 Arizona
New Mexico 4-4 6-6 New Mexico
Air Force 3-5 5-7  
Utah St. 1-7 2-10  
       
West Division Conference Overall Bowl
San Diego St. 6-2 9-4 Las Vegas
Hawaii 3-5 5-7  
UNLV 3-5 4-8  
Nevada 2-6 3-9  
Fresno St. 2-6 3-9  
San Jose St. 2-6 3-10  
       
San Diego St. to Win MWC Championship Game

Coming tomorrow: The Sun Belt Conference had always been the lowest rated league each preseason since its inception, but we thought that had changed this year.  Not only did we believe that the SBC moved out of the basement, they climbed up to second best Group of 5 conference.  At first, we believed it was due to a trio of exceptionally strong teams, but then we realized what happened.  It was our mistake.  We forgot to divide the total rating by 12 and divided by 11.  Coastal Carolina joined the league as a full member, and our people did not change the formula until it was too late to change the order of the previews.  We apologize for the error.

 

To make up for this, here is a fun, two-part trivia question for you.  The answers will come in the following previews.

A. Name the four pairs of FBS football schools that play their home games in stadiums less than 10 miles apart.

B. Name the three pairs of FBS football schools  that play their home games in stadiums less than 15 miles apart and are also conference rivals.

Remember, these are FBS schools only.  One hint–there will be one fewer pair that qualify after this season.

October 6, 2015

41st FBS Bowl Now Official

Since we last posted our college preview for the week, it has come to our attention that the on-again, off-again Arizona Bowl is now on-again.  Nova Home Loans has signed on as the title game sponsor, and the game is set for December 29 at 5:30 PM Mountain Standard Time.  While the television particulars are still being worked out, this game will be the first bowl game to be streamed live at Campus Insider.

The Bowl will feature teams from the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, and the Sun Belt will be the first alternate should either the MWC or CUSA not have enough eligible teams to meet their bowl obligations.

Beginning next week, we will add the Arizona Bowl to our Bowl Projections.  As of this week, we would speculate that Conference USA would not have enough teams available, and a team like Texas State from the SBC would be the fill-in replacement.  The MWC could have a tough time coming up with another bowl eligible team, and if Boise State somehow winds up in a New Year’s Six Bowl, the MWC definitely will not have enough bowl eligible teams.

There now must be 80 bowl eligible teams out of 128 FBS teams in total.  There is a chance that there will not be 80 bowl eligible teams.  The Mid-American Conference is likely to have that 80th bowl eligible team if 80 make it, so a Ball State, Buffalo, or Central Michigan at 6-6 might be headed to the desert in December.

August 13, 2015

2015 Mountain West Conference Preview

There was a time when the Mountain West Conference graded out to be a little stronger than the old Big East Conference and was clearly stronger overall than today’s American Conference.  There were a couple seasons where the league was on par with the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Of course, there was a time when both TCU and Boise State were members of this conference, and there was a time that BYU was a member as well.

In 2015, the MWC may be a bit too weak for the champion to get into the playoff mix, but we believe the champion of this league stands an excellent chance to be 13-0 when the committee decides who is in and who is out.  If two of the Big Six conferences produce two or even three-loss champions, there will be a small chance that a 13-0 MWC team could be a surprise #4 seed.

It’s been five seasons since Boise State last finished the year undefeated.  In 2009, The Broncos defeated Oregon at the start of the year and 12-0 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of the year to finish fourth in the nation overall.  This was the second time the Broncos finished undefeated, having first pulled it of in 2006 when once again, BSU won the Fiesta Bowl in a thrilling finish over Oklahoma.  The 2006 team defeated Oregon State early in the season.

This year, Boise State opens at home against Washington.  In week two, they play at BYU.  An October 16 game at Utah State is the only other possible bump in the 2015 road, but this team is considerably stronger than the 12-2 team that won another Fiesta Bowl last year.  The Broncos were the first of the lone guaranteed non-Big Six conference team to be selected to a Big Six Bowl.  Could they become the first non-Big Six school to earn a playoff spot?

We don’t believe the selection committee will take the Broncos, but we do believe Boise will run the table for the third time in a decade and probably be rewarded with yet another trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

There is only one fly in the ointment.  Boise State is loaded on both sides of the ball, but the one place that is a question mark is at quarterback.  Ryan Finley isn’t totally raw, having seen brief action as a Freshman last year, but 27 career passes is not enough to make a case that he might be the next Kellen Moore.

Utah State has gone bowling the last four years, two under former coach Gary Andersen and two under current coach Matt Wells.  Who knows how good this program could have been if quarterback Chuckie Keeton could have finished a season.  He has suffered numerous injuries in his time in Logan, and he has never played a full schedule.  He returns for one final try, and if he can stay on the field, the Aggies pose the only legitimate threat to Boise State.  The loss of Jo Jo Natson may hamper their chances, but USU still has Hunter Sharp at Wide Receiver and LaJuan Hunt at running back, so there is talent at the skill positions.  Inside linebacker Nick Vigil has all the tools, and he will anchor the division’s top defense.

After the top two, the drop to number three is steep.  Colorado State lost the top quarterback in the league in Garrett Grayson; one of the top running backs in Dee Hart; and two of the top defensive players in the league in Aaron Davis and Max Morgan.  Oh, and they lost all-American coach Jim McElwain to Florida.  New coach Mike Bobo comes from the SEC just like his predecessor.  As the long time offensive coordinator at Georgia, Bobo’s Bulldog offenses were balanced with power running games and vertical passing games.  In his first year in Ft. Collins, he inherits talent not all that equipped to suit his style.  He will not see a Nick Chubb or Aaron Murray on the field at Hughes Stadium.  He also will not see his team playing on the field after November 28.  The Rams draw San Diego State and Fresno State out of the Pacific Division, and it looks like a drop under .500 this year.

Air Force has been up and down in recent years for Coach Troy Calhoun.  The Falcons were up last year, winning 10 games, including an upset of Boise State.  This year, the Falcons will be down due to a rebuilding defense and an offense that must break in a new quarterback.  Down won’t be a total disappointment, as we believe the Falcons will find a way to break even and earn a bowl bid.

Our pick for surprise team in the league this year is New Mexico.  The Lobos have been down and out since former coach Rocky Long was let go in 2008.  Following three consecutive 1-11 seasons that included a loss to Sam Houston, former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie was brought to Albuquerque to right the ship.  This is his fourth season following 4-9, 3-9, and 4-8 seasons where the Lobos ran the ball better than any team in the league, topping 300 yards per game all three years.  This year, Davie has experienced talent throughout the roster, and with just a little improvement on the defensive side of the ball, New Mexico could win the close games and earn its first bowl bid since 2007.

There was a time when Wyoming was the class of the Rockies.  The Cowboys were the western Cradle of Coaches for years producing the likes of Bob Devaney, Pat Dye, Fred Akers, Joe Tiller, and Bowden Wyatt, all of whom ascended to big time programs and took teams to conference championships and New Year’s Day Bowls.  As of late, the pickings have been slim in Laramie.  Joe Glenn and Dave Christensen both had great promise but neither turned the tide.  Craig Bohl brought a similar resume to the Rockies as Glenn, having won big at North Dakota State, but his first year in Laramie was no different than recent editions.  This year’s team may make last year’s 4-8 team look like a success as graduation has taken a heavy toll.

The Pacific Division race should be a little more competitive than the Mountain Division.  Four teams have realistic chances to compete for the division title, while a fifth has the potential to get into the race.  It’s not that this side of the league is powerful; the parity is owed more to sub-par rosters than anything else.

San Diego State has been flirting with a division title for five years, and this looks like the year where the Aztecs are the favorite to finally get over the hump.  Coach Rocky Long’s defense is the best in the division and maybe the best in the entire league, and he returns 14 of his top 18 tacklers from last year.  If his offense can maintain the competency of recent years, SDSU could win double digit games for the first time since 1977.

Nevada exploded with a 13-1 record in 2010 and has since returned to mediocrity with three 7-6 seasons wrapped around a 4-8 season.  Third year coach Brian Polian must polish a new quarterback to replace Cody Fajardo, who led the Wolf Pack in addition to his passing skills, led the Wolf Pack in rushing.  The secondary must be rebuilt as well, and in a pass-happy league, a weak secondary can be a recipe for disaster.  However, both sides of the line of scrimmage are stocked with quality brutes, so we believe Nevada will stay in the hunt for another bowl bid.

Fresno State is in a similar boat as Nevada.  Coach Tim DeRuyter must replace his starting quarterback for the second consecutive season, but replacing Brian Burrell will be easier than replacing Derek Carr.  There is a question at the moment concerning the possible starting quarterback this year.  Former West Virginia signal caller Ford Childress is the most talented QB on the roster and should be the starter, but there are questions concerning his eligiblity status.  He is currently practicing with the squad, but there is a chance he will not be eligible to play until the second week of the season.  If Childress is okayed to play, the Bulldogs immediately move up a notch as SDSU’s top contender.  Without him, FSU may have to rely on a freshman or less talented sophomore.

San Jose State fell back in the pack last year, suffering through a 3-9 season which included a season-ending six game losing streak.  Third year coach Ron Carragher returns 10 starters on offense, but the attack troops suffered a mighty blow when freshman phenom and expected starting wide receiver Kanya Bell was dismissed following his arrest on domestic battery charges.  Many of his teammates disagreed with the dismissal, citing that there could be more to the story, and this sounds like it created possible dissension within the ranks.  If so, Carragher faces a tough uphill climb to keep the team believing in his leadership.  If the season heads south early, Carragher could find himself on a hot seat in San Jose.

If there is to be a surprise team in the Pacific Division, we believe it will be Hawaii.  Fourth year coach Norm Chow welcomes the best new quarterback in the league.  Former USC Trojan Max Wittek could be the missing ingredient Chow has needed to run his complicated offense.  The Warriors failed to complete 50% of their passes last year, and Wittek is a major upgrade.  The UH defense was vastly improved last year, and if the offense can improve in the same manner, then Hawaii could compete for that elusive seventh win and get a 14th game in December in Honolulu.  Road games in September at Ohio State and Wisconsin are the big issues.  Not that Hawaii has a chance of upsetting either team, but if injuries in those games prevent the roster from being near full strength in November, when the Warriors have a very favorable schedule, there will be no chance to get to 7-6.

What do you do if you are a first year college head coach, and you inherit a 2-11 team that gave up more than 500 yards per game and barely beat Northern Colorado by a point the year before?  What do you do when said team was decimated by graduation losses and appears to be considerably weaker than the 2-11 team you inherited?  That’s what first year UNLV coach Tony Sanchez faces in Las Vegas.  Sanchez has zero head coaching experience in college football.  He only has one year of any college football experience, and that came a generation ago when he was a graduate assistant at New Mexico State.  Sanchez has been the Knute Rockne of high school coaches in the Silver State.  He never lost a conference game at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, and his annual won-loss records were 15-0, 13-2, 16-0, 13-1, 13-2, and 15-0, winning the Nevada State Championship every year.  Those five losses in six seasons will be eclipsed in little more than half a season this year, because that Gorman team had more future FBS all-star players than this UNLV team, and Sanchez cannot play rising high school junior Tate Martell at quarterback.

Let’s take a look at how the MWC Media predicted the standings for this season.

Mountain West Conference Media Poll
Pos. Team 1st Place Total
Mountain Division
1 Boise St. 28 177
2 Utah St. 2 150
3 Colorado St. 0 108
4 Air Force 0 90
5 Wyoming 0 64
6 New Mexico 0 41
West Division
1 San Diego St. 27 177
2 Fresno St. 3 141
3 Nevada 0 113
4 San Jose St. 0 91
5 Hawaii 0 70
6 UNLV 0 38

Here is the Media’s preseason All-MWS team.

Conference USA Preseason All-Conference Team
Offense Player School
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton Utah St.
Running Back Donnel Pumphrey San Diego St.
Running Back Martez Waller Fresno St.
Wide Receiver Rashard Higgins Colorado St.
Wide Receiver Devonte Boyd UNLV
Tight End Steven Walker Colorado St.
Offensive Line Marcus Henry Boise St.
Offensive Line Rees Odhiambo Boise St.
Offensive Line Alex Fifita Fresno St.
Offensive Line Ben Clarke Hawaii
Offensive Line Pearce Slater San Diego St.
Defense Player School
Defensive Line Eddie Yarbrough Wyoming
Defensive Line Alex Hansen Air Force
Defensive Line Kamalei Correa Boise St.
Defensive Line Ian Seau Nevada
Linebacker Tanner Vallejo Boise St.
Linebacker Kyler Fackrell Utah St.
Linebacker Nick Vigil Utah St.
Defensive Back Weston Steelhammer Air Force
Defensive Back Donte Deayon Boise St.
Defensive Back Darian Thompson Boise St.
Defensive Back Damontae Kazee San Diego St.
Special Teams Player School
Punter Alex Boy Nevada
Kicker Donny Hageman San Diego St.
Return Specialist Carols Wiggins New Mexico

Here are the Preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings along with the averages of the three.

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 114.5 108.6 114.1 112.4
Utah St. 99.7 98.9 100.0 99.5
Colorado St. 95.4 92.9 93.4 93.9
Air Force 91.1 96.6 90.1 92.6
New Mexico 90.7 91.8 90.2 90.9
Wyoming 84.3 86.6 82.5 84.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 96.3 102.6 98.0 99.0
Nevada 91.7 96.6 91.0 93.1
Fresno St. 89.3 98.1 88.7 92.0
San Jose St. 89.3 92.9 89.2 90.5
Hawaii 87.4 91.6 87.7 88.9
UNLV 76.7 79.6 76.5 77.6
MWC Averages 92.2 94.7 91.8 92.9

And, here are the PiRate Ratings Won-Loss predictions and bowl projections.

PiRate Ratings Predicted Records
Pos Team Conf. Overall Bowl
Mountain Division
1 Boise St. 8-0 13-0 * Big Six
2 Utah St. 6-2 8-4 Las Vegas
3 New Mexico 4-4 7-5 New Mexico
4 Air Force 4-4 6-6 Arizona #
5 Colorado St. 3-5 5-7 None
6 Wyoming 1-7 3-9 None
West Division
1 San Diego St. 7-1 9-4 ^ Poinsettia
2 Nevada 5-3 7-5 Idaho Potato
3 Fresno St. 4-4 5-7 None
4 Hawaii 3-5 5-8 None
5 San Jose St. 3-5 4-8 None
6 UNLV 0-8 1-11 None
* Wins Title Game
^ Loses Title Game
# The Arizona Bowl does not have a sponsor and may be postponed

Coming Next: The American Athletic Conference

August 17, 2013

2013 Mountain West Conference Football Preview

2013 Mountain West Conference Preview

 

The Mountain West Conference expands to 12 teams this year and divides into two divisions with a championship game to be held on December 7 at the home field on the division winner with the higher BCS ranking.

 

The divisional split here is geographical in an east/west split, but the divisions are named, Mountain and West.  All Mountain teams reside in cities in the Mountain Time Zone, while all West Teams resided in cities in the Pacific Time Zone, or in the case of Hawaii, in the Hawaii Time Zone (2 hours behind the Pacific Time Zone).

 

Last year, Fresno St., San Diego St., and Boise St. tied for the conference title.  Throw in two new teams (both 11-2) that finished in the top 25 in last year’s final poll, and the league should be stronger this season, but not as strong as when TCU was in the league.

 

We expect a little changing of the guard this season.  We suspect Boise State to experience a rebuilding season and have their worst season in a decade.  It is the first time our ratings have not listed BSU as the top-rated team in their league since 2005.

 

This league has produced multiple BCS Bowl qualifiers, and we believe there is a good chance that one more team could challenge for a spot this season.  An October 26 road game against San Diego St. and a November 29 road game against San Jose St. and a win in the inaugural MWC title game are the three crucial games that must be victorious for Fresno St.  If the Bulldogs win those three games, they should be 13-0.  Our ratings have FSU favored in every game.

 

Additions: San Jose St. and Utah St. move from the now football defunct WAC.

 

Departures: None

 

Pre-season PiRate Ratings

 

Mountain West Conference

Mountain Division

Team

Conf.

Overall

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Utah St.

0-0

0-0

100.9

92.5

101.1

Boise St.

0-0

0-0

100.0

102.3

101.7

Colorado St.

0-0

0-0

90.3

94.4

90.8

Wyoming

0-0

0-0

85.8

85.6

85.9

Air Force

0-0

0-0

81.3

87.7

81.2

New Mexico

0-0

0-0

78.8

83.9

79.4

     

 

 

 

West Division

Team

Conf.

Overall

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Fresno St.

0-0

0-0

104.0

101.4

105.0

San Jose St.

0-0

0-0

100.3

94.9

100.7

San Diego St.

0-0

0-0

98.6

98.3

98.8

Nevada

0-0

0-0

88.5

96.2

89.5

U N L V

0-0

0-0

85.7

92.0

86.3

Hawaii

0-0

0-0

82.0

82.4

82.4

     

 

 

 

League Averages    

91.4

92.6

91.9

 

 

Official Pre-season Media Poll

Mountain Division    

Pos

Team

Points

1st Place

1

Boise St.

245

40

2

Utah St.

204

1

3

Air Force

143

0

4

Wyoming

116

0

5

Colorado St.

90

0

6

New Mexico

63

0

       
West Division    

Pos

Team

Points

1st Place

1

Fresno St.

243

39

2

San Diego St.

181

1

3

San Jose St.

172

1

4

Nevada

135

0

5

U N L V

71

0

6

Hawaii

59

0

 

     

 

2013 MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Offense      
QB Derek Carr * Sr. Fresno State
WR Davante Adams * So. Fresno State
WR Noel Grigsby Sr. San José State
RB Kasey Carrier ** Sr. New Mexico
RB Adam Muema ** Jr. San Diego State
OL Charles Leno ** Sr. Boise State
OL Matt Paradis * Sr. Boise State
OL Weston Richburg Sr. Colorado State
OL Austin Wentworth * Sr. Fresno State
OL Tyler Larsen Sr. Utah State
TE Marcel Jensen Sr. Fresno State
       
Defense      
DL Demarcus Lawrence * Jr. Boise State
DL Tyeler Davison * Jr. Fresno State
DL Brock Hekking ** Jr. Nevada
DL Travis Raciti Jr. San José State
LB Jake Fely ** Jr. San Diego State
LB Keith Smith Sr. San José State
LB Kyler Fackrell So. Utah State
DB L.J. Jones Sr. Fresno State
DB Derron Smith * Jr. Fresno State
DB Nat Berhe ** Sr. San Diego State
DB Bené Benwikere Sr. San José State
       
Specialists    
P Ben Skaer Sr. New Mexico
PK Austin Lopez So. San José State
Ret. Chase Clayton Jr. New Mexico
       
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Derek Carr, Sr., QB, Fresno State
       
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Derron Smith, Jr., DB, Fresno State
       
Preseason Spcl Teams Player of the Year: Chase Clayton, Jr., KR, New Mexico
       
* – member of the 2012 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2012 All-Mountain West second team.

 

 

PiRate Ratings Summary

 

About Grades

93-100         A+

86-92           A

79-85           A-

72-78           B+

65-71           B

58-64           B-

51-57           C+

44-50           C

37-43           C-

30-36           D

0-29             F

 

About Predictions

Predictions are based on the PiRate Ratings with home field advantage factored in.  The PiRate Ratings use different home field advantages for every game, since the opponent factors into the equation.

 

Mountain Division

Team

Utah St. Aggies

               
Head Coach

Matt Wells

               
Colors

Navy and White

               
City

Logan, UT

               
2012 Record              
Conference

6-0 (in WAC)

Overall

11-2

               
Grades              
Run Offense

67

Pass Offense

63

Run Defense

75

Pass Defense

61

               
Ratings              
PiRate

100.9

Mean

92.5

Bias

101.1

               
Rankings              
PiRate

53

Mean

93

Bias

50

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1

Overall

8-5 (Lose MWC Championship Game)

 

 

Team

Boise St. Broncos

               
Head Coach

Chris Petersen

               
Colors

Blue and Orange

               
City

Boise, ID

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

11-2

               
Grades              
Run Offense

59

Pass Offense

67

Run Defense

63

Pass Defense

69

               
Ratings              
PiRate

100.0

Mean

102.3

Bias

101.7

               
Rankings              
PiRate

58

Mean

49

Bias

47

               
Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

7-5

 

 

Team

Colorado St. Rams

               
Head Coach

Jim McElwain

               
Colors

Forest Green and Gold

               
City

Ft. Collins, CO

               
2012 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

4-8

               
Grades              
Run Offense

55

Pass Offense

55

Run Defense

51

Pass Defense

59

               
Ratings              
PiRate

90.3

Mean

94.4

Bias

90.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

91

Mean

86

Bias

91

               
Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

7-5

 

 

Team

Wyoming Cowboys

               
Head Coach

Dave Christensen

               
Colors

Brown and Gold

               
City

Laramie, WY

               
2012 Record              
Conference

3-5

Overall

4-8

               
Grades              
Run Offense

41

Pass Offense

69

Run Defense

40

Pass Defense

68

               
Ratings              
PiRate

85.8

Mean

85.6

Bias

85.9

               
Rankings              
PiRate

103

Mean

114

Bias

105

               
Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

5-7

 

 

Team

Air Force Falcons

               
Head Coach

Troy Calhoun

               
Colors

Blue and Silver

               
City

Colorado Springs, CO

               
2012 Record              
Conference

5-3

Overall

6-7

               
Grades              
Run Offense

69

Pass Offense

28

Run Defense

43

Pass Defense

50

               
Ratings              
PiRate

81.3

Mean

87.7

Bias

81.2

               
Rankings              
PiRate

115

Mean

107

Bias

114

               
Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

3-9

 

 

Team

New Mexico Lobos

               
Head Coach

Bob Davie

               
Colors

Cherry and Silver

               
City

Albuquerque, NM

               
2012 Record              
Conference

1-7

Overall

4-9

               
Grades              
Run Offense

66

Pass Offense

26

Run Defense

45

Pass Defense

44

               
Ratings              
PiRate

78.8

Mean

83.8

Bias

79.4

               
Rankings              
PiRate

120

Mean

117

Bias

119

               
Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

2-10

 

 

Team

Fresno St. Bulldogs

               
Head Coach

Tim DeRuyter

               
Colors

Cardinal and Blue

               
City

Fresno, CA

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-4

               
Grades              
Run Offense

 

Pass Offense

 

Run Defense

 

Pass Defense

 

               
Ratings              
PiRate

104.0

Mean

101.4

Bias

105.0

               
Rankings              
PiRate

44

Mean

56

Bias

43

               
Prediction              
Conference

8-0

Overall

13-0 (win MWC title game)

 

 

Team

San Jose St. Spartans

               
Head Coach

Ron Caragher

               
Colors

Blue and Gold

               
City

San Jose

               
2012 Record              
Conference

5-1 (in WAC)

Overall

11-2

               
Grades              
Run Offense

39

Pass Offense

83

Run Defense

63

Pass Defense

69

               
Ratings              
PiRate

100.3

Mean

94.9

Bias

100.7

               
Rankings              
PiRate

56

Mean

85

Bias

55

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-3

 

 

Team

San Diego St. Aztecs

               
Head Coach

Rocky Long

               
Colors

Red and Black

               
City

San Diego

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-4

               
Grades              
Run Offense

62

Pass Offense

56

Run Defense

76

Pass Defense

63

               
Ratings              
PiRate

98.6

Mean

98.3

Bias

98.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

66

Mean

66

Bias

65

               
Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

8-4

 

 

Team

Nevada Wolf Pack

               
Head Coach

Brian Polian

               
Colors

Blue and Silver

               
City

Reno, NV

               
2012 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

7-6

               
Grades              
Run Offense

 

Pass Offense

 

Run Defense

 

Pass Defense

 

               
Ratings              
PiRate

88.5

Mean

96.2

Bias

89.5

               
Rankings              
PiRate

97

Mean

80

Bias

96

               
Prediction              
Conference

3-5

Overall

4-8

 

 

Team

U N L V Rebels

               
Head Coach

Bobby Hauck

               
Colors

Scarlet and Gray

               
City

Las Vegas

               
2012 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

2-11

               
Grades              
Run Offense

55

Pass Offense

62

Run Defense

31

Pass Defense

51

               
Ratings              
PiRate

85.7

Mean

92.0

Bias

86.3

               
Rankings              
PiRate

104

Mean

95

Bias

103

               
Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

4-8

 

 

Team

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

               
Head Coach

Norm Chow

               
Colors

Green, Black, and Silver

               
City

Honolulu

               
2012 Record              
Conference

1-7

Overall

3-9

               
Grades              
Run Offense

27

Pass Offense

62

Run Defense

39

Pass Defense

53

               
Ratings              
PiRate

82.0

Mean

82.4

Bias

82.4

               
Rankings              
PiRate

114

Mean

120

Bias

113

               
Prediction              
Conference

0-8

Overall

1-11

 

March 11, 2013

NCAA Basketball Tournaments Update–Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DANCE TICKETS PUNCHED

Florida Gulf Coast 24-10

Belmont 26-6

Harvard 19-9

Liberty 15-20

Creighton 27-7

Western Kentucky 20-15

Davidson 26-7

James Madison 20-14

Gonzaga 31-2

Iona 20-13

 

Note: Above RPI Rankings are from Monday, March 11.

 

Today’s Conference Tournaments in Action

Big East Conference—1st Round

Horizon League—Championship Game

M E A C—1st Round (Part 2)

Mountain West Conference—1st Round

Northeast Conference—Championship Game

W A C—1st Round

 

Note: Below RPI Rankings are from the day before each conference tournament began

 

America East Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Stony Brook

14-2

24-7

71

2

Vermont

11-5

21-10

128

3

Hartford

10-6

17-13

171

4

Albany

9-7

23-10

164

5

Maine

6-10

11-19

273

6

U M B C

5-11

8-23

312

7

N. Hampshire

5-11

9-20

293

8

Binghamton

1-15

3-27

338

 

Conference Tournament—Albany, NY  (Championship Game at Higher Seed)

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

1

2-Vermont  61  7-New Hampshire  42

 

 

2

6-U M B C  69  3-Hartford  62

 

 

3

1-Stony Brook  72  8-Binghamton  49

 

 

4

4-Albany  50  5-Maine  49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

5

2-Vermont  85  6-U M B C  72

 

 

6

4-Albany  61  1-Stony Brook  59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 –Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

7

4-Albany at 2-Vermont

11:30 AM

ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: www.americaeast.com

 

 

Big East Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Georgetown

14-4

24-5

9

2

Louisville

14-4

26-5

3

3

Marquette

14-4

23-7

10

4

Pittsburgh

12-6

24-7

40

5

Syracuse

11-7

23-8

16

6

Notre Dame

11-7

23-8

44

7

Villanova

10-8

19-12

51

8

Providence

9-9

17-13

81

9

Cincinnati

9-9

21-10

46

10

St. John’s

8-10

16-14

78

11

Rutgers

5-13

14-15

108

12

Seton Hall

3-15

14-17

131

13

South Florida

3-15

12-18

130

14

DePaul

2-16

11-20

198

 

Conference Tournament—New York City

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

1

12-Seton Hall vs. 13-South Florida

7:00 PM

ESPNU

2

11-Rutgers vs. 14-DePaul

9:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

3

8-Providence vs. 9-Cincinnati

12:00 PM

ESPN

4

5-Syracuse vs. Winner Game 1

2:00 PM

ESPN

5

7-Villanova vs. 10-St. John’s

7:00 PM

ESPN

6

6-Notre Dame vs. Winner Game 2

9:00 PM

ESPN

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

 

 

7

1-Georgetown vs. Winner Game 3

12:00 PM

ESPN

8

4-Pittsburgh vs. Winner Game 4

2:00 PM

ESPN

9

2-Louisville vs. Winner Game 5

7:00 PM

ESPN

10

3-Marquette vs. Winner Game 6

9:00 PM

ESPN

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

11

Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

7:00 PM

ESPN

12

Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10

9:00 PM

ESPN

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

13

Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12

8:30 PM

ESPN

Online Site: www.bigeast.org

 

 

Colonial Athletic Association

 

Seed

Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Northeastern 14-4 20-12 160
2 Delaware 13-5 19-14 127
3 James Madison 11-7 20-14 207
4 George Mason 10-8 18-14 155
5 Drexel 9-9 13-18 205
6 William & Mary 7-11 13-17 265
7 Hofstra 4-14 7-25 321

 

Conference Tournament—Richmond, VA

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

1

4-George Mason  60  5-Drexel  54

 

 

2

2-Delaware  62  7-Hofstra  57

 

 

3

3-James Madison  72  6-William & Mary  67

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

4

1-Northeastern  69 4-George Mason  67

 

 

5

3-James Madison  58  2-Delaware  57

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3-Finals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

6

3-James Madison  70  1-Northeastern  57

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.caasports.com

 

Horizon League

 

Seed

Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Valparaiso 13-3 25-7 63
2 Detroit 12-4 20-12 58
3 Wright St. 10-6 21-11 166
4 Green Bay 10-6 18-15 167
5 Illinois-Chicago 7-9 17-15 164
6 Youngstown St. 7-9 17-15 190
7 Loyola (Chi) 5-11 15-16 218
8 Cleveland St. 5-11 14-18 196
9 Milwaukee 3-13 8-24 301

 

Conference Tournament—1st Round & Championship @ Higher Seed, Quarterfinals & Semifinals at Valparaiso

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 5

 

 

1

4-Green Bay  62  9-Milwaukee  46

 

 

2

5-Illinois-Chicago  82  8-Cleveland St.  59

 

 

3

6-Youngstown St.  62  7-Loyola (Chi)  60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

4

3-Wright St.  66  6-Youngstown St.  59

 

 

5

4-Green Bay  64  5-Illinois-Chicago  63

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

6

3-Wright St.  56  2-Detroit  54

 

 

7

1-Valparaiso  70  4-Green Bay  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

8

3-Wright St. vs. 1-Valparaiso

9:00 PM

ESPN

 

Online Site: http://www.horizonleague.org

 

M A A C

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Niagara 13-5 19-13 123
2 Rider 12-6 18-14 135
3 Loyola (MD) 12-6 21-11 98
4 Iona 11-7 20-13 117
5 Canisius 11-7 18-13 110
6 Manhattan 9-9 14-18 200
7 Fairfield 9-9 19-15 170
8 Marist 6-12 10-21 250
9 Siena 4-14 8-24 297
10 St. Peter’s 3-15 9-21 283

 

Conference Tournament—Springfield, MA

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

1

9-Siena   70  8-Marist  64

 

 

2

7-Fairfield  54  10-St. Peter’s  47

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

3

1-Niagara  74  9-Siena  62

 

 

4

4-Iona  89  5-Canisius  85

 

 

5

7-Fairfield  43  2-Rider  42

 

 

6

6-Manhattan  55  3-Loyola (MD)  52

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

7

4-Iona  79  1-Niagara  73

 

 

8

6-Manhattan  60  7-Fairfield  42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

9

4-Iona  60  6-Manhattan  57

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.maacsports.com

 

Mid-American Conference

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Akron

14-2

24-6

53

2

Ohio U

14-2

23-8

74

3

Western Michigan

10-6

19-11

132

4

Kent St.

9-7

19-12

145

5

Ball St.

8-8

15-14

225

6

Bowling Green

7-9

13-19

254

7

Eastern Michigan

7-9

15-17

235

8

Buffalo

7-9

13-19

231

9

Central Michigan

4-12

11-20

260

10

Northern Illinois

3-13

5-25

331

11

Miami (O)

3-13

9-21

269

 

Conference Tournament—Cleveland (1st round at higher seeds)

 

Game #

Day 1 – Opening Round

Time

TV

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

1

8-Buffalo  74  9-Central Michigan  72 ot

 

 

2

7-Eastern Michigan  45  10-N. Illinois  44

 

 

3

11-Miami (O)  63  6-Bowling Green  52

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

4

5-Ball St. vs. 8-Buffalo

6:30 PM

Online

5

7-Eastern Michigan vs. 11-Miami (O)

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

 

 

6

4-Kent St. vs. Winner Game 4

6:30 PM

Online

7

3-W. Michigan vs. Winner Game 5

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

8

1-Akron vs. Winner Game 6

6:30 PM

Online

9

2-Ohio vs. Winner Game 7

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

10

Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9

6:30 PM

ESPN2

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: www.mac-sports.com

 

 

 

Mideast Athletic Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Norfolk St.

16-0

21-10

169

2

UNC-Central

15-1

22-8

151

3

Hampton

11-5

14-16

282

4

Savannah St.

11-5

19-13

155

5

Morgan St.

10-6

15-14

251

6

Delaware St.

8-8

13-17

276

7

North Carolina A&T

8-8

15-16

253

8

Bethune-Cookman

7-9

12-19

293

9

Coppin St.

5-11

8-23

309

10

Florida A&M

5-11

8-22

333

11

Howard

4-12

7-23

334

12

South Carolina St.

2-14

6-24

342

13

MD-Eastern Shore

2-14

2-26

345

 

Conference Tournament—Norfolk, VA

 

Game #

Day 1 – Opening Round (Day 1)

Time

TV

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

1

4-Savannah St.  59  13-MD-Eastern Shore  44

 

 

2

5-Morgan St.  61  12-South Carolina St.  52

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Opening Round (Day 2)

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

3

8-Bethune-Cookman vs. 9-Coppin St.

4:00 PM

Online

4

7-North Carolina A&T vs. 10-Florida A&M

6:30 PM

Online

5

6-Delaware St. vs. 11-Howard

9:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals (Day 1)

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

6

1-Norfolk St. vs. Winner Game 3

6:00 PM

Online

7

2-UNC-Central vs. Winner Game 4

8:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Quarterfinals (Day 2)

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

 

 

8

3-Hampton vs. Winner Game 5

6:00 PM

Online

9

4-Savannah St. vs. 5-Morgan St.

8:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

10

Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 9

6:00 PM

Online

11

Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

8:00 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 – Championship Game

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

12

Winner Game 19 vs. Winner Game 11

5:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: www.MEACsports.com

 

 

 

 

Mountain West Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

New Mexico

13-3

26-5

2

2

Colorado St.

11-5

24-7

15

3

U N L V

10-6

23-8

22

4

San Diego St.

9-7

21-9

30

5

Boise St.

9-7

21-9

37

6

Air Force

8-8

17-12

71

7

Fresno St.

5-11

11-18

123

8

Wyoming

4-12

18-12

68

9

Nevada

3-13

12-18

166

 

Conference Tournament—Las Vegas (UNLV)

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

1

8-Wyoming vs. 9-Nevada

8:00 PM

Mtn W TV

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

2

3-U N L V  vs. 6-Air Force

3:00 PM

CBSSN

3

2-Colorado St. vs. 7-Fresno St.

5:30 PM

CBSSN

4

1-New Mexico vs. Winner Game 1

9:30 PM

CBSSN

5

4-San Diego St. vs. 5-Boise St.

12:00 AM

CBSSN

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

6

Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5

9:00 PM

CBSSN

7

Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

11:30 PM

CBSSN

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

8

Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 7

6:00 PM

CBS

 

Online Site: www.themwc.com

 

Northeast Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Robert Morris 14-4 24-10 114
2 Wagner 12-6 20-12 124
3 Long Island 12-6 20-13 195
4 Bryant 12-6 19-12 146
5 Mt. St. Mary‘s 11-7 19-13 156
6 Quinnipiac 11-7 15-17 191
7 Central Connecticut 9-9 13-18 197
8 St. Francis, NY 8-10 12-19 216

 

Conference Tournament—Games at Campus Sites.  Higher Seeds Host All Games.  Teams Will Be Re-Seeded After Quarterfinals

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

 

 

1

1-Robert Morris  75  8-St. Francis (NY)  57

 

 

2

2-Wagner  72  7-Central Connecticut  50

 

 

3

3-Long Island  91  6-Quinnipiac  83

 

 

4

5-Mt. St. Mary‘s  75  4-Bryant  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

5

5-Mt. St. Mary’s  69  1-Robert Morris  60

 

 

6

3-Long Island  94  2-Wagner  82

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Finals

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

7

5-Mt. St. Mary’s  at  3-Long Island

7:00 PM

ESPN2

 

Online Site: http://www.northeastconference.org

 

 

Patriot League

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Bucknell 12-2 27-5 52
2 Lafayette 10-4 19-14 173
3 Lehigh 10-4 21-9 105
4 Army 8-6 16-15 213
5 American 5-9 10-20 261
6 Colgate 5-9 11-21 255
7 Holy Cross 4-10 12-18 249
8 Navy 2-12 8-23 314

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

 

 

1

1-Bucknell  58  8-Navy  42

 

 

2

4-Army  65  5-American  44

 

 

3

2-Lafayette  77  7-Holy Cross  54

 

 

4

3-Lehigh  71  6-Colgate  64

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

 

Games at Higher Seed

 

 

5

1-Bucknell  78  4-Army  70

 

 

6

2-Lafayette  82  3-Lehigh  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Finals

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13

 

 

 

Game at Higher Seed

 

 

7

2-Lafayette at 1-Bucknell

7:30 PM

CBSSN

 

Online Site: http://www.patriotleague.org

 

Southern Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Davidson 17-1 26-7 82
2 College of Charleston 14-4 24-10 147
3 Elon 13-5 21-11 176
4 Appalachian St. 10-8 15-16 270
5 Western Carolina 9-9 14-19 251
6 Samford 9-9 11-21 281
7 Chattanooga 8-10 13-19 276
8 Wofford 7-11 13-19 240
9 Georgia Southern 7-11 14-19 277
10 UNC-Greensboro 6-12 9-22 330
11 The Citadel 5-13 8-22 327
12 Furman 3-15 7-24 342

 

Conference Tournament: Asheville, NC

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

1

9-Georgia Southern  60  8-Wofford  44

 

 

2

12-Furman   55  5-Samford  51

 

 

3

10-UNC-Greensboro  87  7-Chattanooga  81

 

 

4

6-Western Carolina  76  11-The Citadel  61

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

5

1-Davidson  86  9-Georgia Southern  59

 

 

6

4-Appalachian St.  74  12-Furman  60

 

 

7

2-Elon  68  10-UNC-Greensboro  61

 

 

8

3-Coll. of Charleston  78  6-W. Carolina  70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

9

1-Davidson  65  4-Appalachian St.  62

 

 

10

3-College of Charleston   68  2-Elon  60

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

11

1-Davidson  74  3-College of Charleston  55

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.soconsports.com

 

Summit League

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 South Dakota St. 13-3 24-9 75
2 Western Illinois 13-3 22-8 126
3 North Dakota St. 12-4 24-8 81
4 Oakland 10-6 16-16 132
5 I P F W 7-9 16-17 264
6 Mo.-Kansas City 5-11 8-24 287
7 South Dakota 5-11 10-20 242
8 I U P U I 1-15 6-26 325

 

Conference Tournament—Sioux Falls, SD

 

Game #

Day 1 – Quarterfinals

Time

TV

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

1

1-South Dakota St.  66  8-I U P U I  49

 

 

2

2-Western Illinois  54  7-South Dakota  53

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

3

5-I P F W  91  4-Oakland  72

 

 

4

3-North Dakota St.  69  6-UM-Kansas City  58

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 –Semifinals

 

 

 

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

5

1-S. Dakota St.  72  5-I P F W  56

 

 

6

3-North Dakota St.  55  2-Western Illinois  43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

7

Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6

9:00 PM

ESPN2

 

Online Site: http://www.thesummitleague.org

 

Sun Belt Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Middle Tennessee 19-1 28-5 23
2 South Alabama 14-6 17-12 149
3 Arkansas St. 12-8 19-12 154
4 Florida Int’l 11-9 18-14 137
5 Arkansas-Little Rock 11-9 17-15 163
6 Western Kentucky 10-10 20-15 178
7 Florida Atlantic 9-11 14-18 209
8 Louisiana-Lafayette 8-12 13-20 229
9 North Texas 7-13 12-20 233
10 Troy 6-14 12-21 271
11 Louisiana-Monroe 3-17 4-23 299

 

Conference Tournament—Hot Springs, AR

Note: This Tournament Uses Two Courts— S=Summit Arena, C=Convention Center Court

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

1

6-Western Kentucky  74  11-UL-Monroe  60

 

 

2

8-UL-Lafayette  74  9-North Texas  55

 

 

3

10-Troy   81  7-Florida Atlantic  79 ot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

4

4-Florida Int’l  69  5-Ark.-Little Rock  54

 

 

5

1-Middle Tennessee  81  8-UL-Lafayette  66

 

 

6

6-Western Kentucky  62  3-S. Alabama  59

 

 

7

2-Arkansas St.  68  10-Troy  63 ot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 10

 

 

8

4-Florida Int’l  61  1-Middle Tennessee  57

 

 

9

6-Western Kentucky  58  2-Arkansas St.  56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

10

6-Western Kentucky  65  4-Florida Int’l  63

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.sunbeltsports.org

 

West Coast Conference

 

Seed Team Conference Overall RPI
1 Gonzaga 16-0 31-2 10
2 St. Mary’s 14-2 27-6 41
3 B Y U 10-6 21-11 62
4 Santa Clara 9-7 21-11 90
5 San Francisco 7-9 14-16 152
6 San Diego 7-9 15-18 180
7 Pepperdine 4-12 12-18 204
8 Portland 4-12 11-21 219
9 Loyola Marymount 1-15 10-23 253

 

Conference Tournament: Las Vegas

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

 

 

1

9-Loyola Marymount  65  8-Portland  54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 7

 

 

2

9-Loyola Marymount  61  5-San Francisco  60

 

 

3

6-San Diego  62  7-Pepperdine  59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Quarterfinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 8

 

 

4

9-Loyola Marymount   60  4-Santa Clara  58

 

 

5

6-San Diego  72  3-B Y U  69

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Semifinals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 9

 

 

6

1-Gonzaga  66  9-Loyola Marymount  48

 

 

7

2-St. Mary’s  69  6-San Diego  66 ot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Finals

 

 

8

MONDAY, MARCH 11

 

 

 

1-Gonzaga  65  2-St. Mary’s  51

 

 

 

Online Site: http://www.wccsports.com

 

Western Athletic Conference

 

Seed

Team

Conference

Overall

RPI

1

Louisiana Tech

16-2

26-5

49

2

Denver

16-2

21-8

58

3

New Mexico St.

14-4

21-10

59

4

UT-Arlington

11-7

17-12

137

5

Utah St.

11-7

21-9

105

6

Idaho

7-11

12-17

196

7

Texas St.

5-13

10-21

287

8

San Jose St.

3-14

9-19

244

9

U T S A

3-14

8-21

284

10

Seattle

3-15

8-21

295

SJ St. & UTSA game postponed on Mar. 7 due to roof leak

 

Conference Tournament—Las Vegas

 

Game #

Day 1 – 1st Round

Time

TV

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 12

 

 

1

7-Texas St. vs. 10-Seattle

9:00 PM

Online

2

8-San Jose St. vs. 9-U T S A

11:30 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – 2nd Round

 

 

 

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

 

 

3

3-New Mexico St. vs. 6-Idaho

3:00 PM

Online

4

2-Denver vs. Winner Game 1

5:30 PM

Online

5

1-Louisiana Tech vs. Winner Game 2

9:00 PM

Online

6

4-UT-Arlington vs. 5-Utah St.

11:30 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Semifinals

 

 

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

 

 

7

Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

9:00 PM

Online

8

Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6

11:30 PM

Online

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Finals

 

 

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

 

 

9

Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

11:00 PM

ESPNU

 

 

 

 

 

Online Site: www.wacsports.com

 

 

 

As The Bubble Blows

No teams played into The Bubble or out of The Bubble last night.  St. Mary’s should be an 11 or 12-seed.  Northeastern has no chance at an at-large bid.

August 22, 2011

2011 Mountain West Conference Preview

2011 Mountain West Conference Preview

If only…  If only Brigham Young and Utah had chosen to stay in this conference, and TCU would not have announced their departure after 2011-12, this conference would have leap-frogged over at least one and maybe two automatic qualifying BCS leagues.

 

Imagine a league with Boise State, TCU, BYU, Utah, and Air Force as its top tier and with San Diego State and Colorado State frequently displaying enough talent to beat teams from the “Big Six” conferences.  This league would have had the potential to state its case for inclusion in the AQ conferences.  With the Big 12 on the precipice of breaking up, who knows?  Maybe the MWC could have taken in the leftovers from that league and assumed an automatic qualifying position.

 

2011 should still be an interesting season in this conference.  TCU must still play one more year here, and then the top three teams from the WAC (Nevada, Hawaii, and Fresno State) will join Boise State in this league.

 

Boise State

The Broncos dominated the WAC like no other team has dominated a conference since Alabama dominated the SEC in the 1970’s.  BSU posted a WAC record of 69-3 in their last nine seasons in their old league (Alabama went 64-4 in the SEC from 1971-1980; Oklahoma went 64-6 in the Big 8 in that same time frame).

 

Will Coach Chris Petersen’s Broncos dominate the MWC like they did the WAC?  It looks like they will in 2011.  Boise returns just enough talent to make another run toward an undefeated season.

 

Kellen Moore is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.  The quarterback is already the leading passer in school history.  Last year, he completed better than 71% of his passes at better than 10 yards per attempt.  His TD/Int ratio was 35/6, and there is no reason to believe he cannot duplicate or improve upon those numbers this year.  He is a bit small for the NFL’s likes, but he should still be a second day draft choice next year.  Backup Joe Southwick is more than capable of running the team should Moore go down with an injury.

 

Moore loses his top two targets from a year ago.  Titus Young and Austin Pettis were gems, as they both grabbed 71 passes and teamed for 19 touchdowns.  Both were high draft picks, so there will be a drop-off in talent at this position.  However, Boise might still have the best receiver in the league.  Tyler Shoemaker proved to be a breakaway threat when he averaged better than 18 yards per reception last year.  Tight end Kyle Efaw should see more balls thrown his way this year after grabbing 24 passes and scoring five times in 2010.

 

Another pass-catching threat is running back Doug Martin.  Martin had 28 receptions last year to go with 1,260 yards rushing and 14 total touchdowns.  He’s always a threat to break open any run or reception.

 

The offensive line returns three starters; foremost among them is tackle Nate Potter.  The former two-time 1st Team All-WAC should become a 1st Team All-MWC and contend for All-American honors as well.  Center Thomas Byrd is likely to join Potter on the all-conference squad.

 

Maybe the biggest loss on this side of the ball is offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.  Harsin is now the OC at Texas.  Former Houston Oiler quarterback Brent Pease is the new OC after serving as the receivers’ coach here for multiple seasons.

 

We look for Boise State to continue dominating with an explosive offense this year, but we seriously doubt the Broncos will match their 2010 numbers of 45 points and 520 yards per game.  Call it about 38 points and 450 yards per game, as Moore will have to rely a little more on the short passing game.

 

The Bronco defense played one poor half all season.  Unfortunately, it came against Nevada, and it ended the 24-game winning streak.  They allowed just 11 points and 232 yards per game in the other 12 contests.  Expect more of the same in 2011, as the Broncos are strong from front to back.  Their defensive line could be one of the top five in the country.

 

BSU forced 49 sacks last season, and it should be another stellar year for rushing the passer.  Three starters return to the front four, and the new starter saw considerable action last year.  We would not be surprised if all four players earned some form of post-season honors.  Tackle Billy Winn will be a high draft choice next spring.  He comes off a 2010 season that saw him make four sacks and 9 ½ total tackles for loss, while driving blockers away from the linebackers.  End Shea McClellin led the team with 9 ½ sacks and tied for the lead with 13 ½ total tackles for loss.  New starting end Tyrone Crawford finished second on the team last year with seven sacks and tied McClellin with 13 ½ total tackles for loss.  Chase Baker added 4 ½ sacks from his tackle spot.

 

The linebacker position is not quite as strong as the front four, but it is still a big plus.  Both starters from 2010 are back.  Byron Hout and Aaron Tevis combined for 80 tackles a year ago.

 

The five-man secondary returns just two starters, but the new starters will receive a lot of help from having the best pass rushers in the league up front.  The Broncos did not intercept many passes in 2010, but they made up for it with excellent coverage.

 

Another key loss to the team this year is punter/kicker Kyle Brotzman.  Brotzman may be remembered for missing the critical field goals against Nevada, but he was one of the best combo kickers in the nation.

 

The new schedule finds a couple of possible bumps in the road, but we tend to believe Boise is capable of running the table and challenging for a spot in the National Championship Game.  Once again, Boise must travel 2,000+ miles to the east for their opening season game.  This time, the Broncos face Georgia at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  If they get by the Bulldogs, then they should be 8-0 when TCU comes to Bronco Stadium.  TCU will not be as strong this year as they have been in recent seasons, and we see Boise winning that one.  So, an opening win over Georgia would more than likely send Boise to a 12-0 season with hopes that there are not two undefeated teams from the AQ conferences.

 

T C U

13-0 and a 3rd place national finish following a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin is a hard act to follow.  The Horned Frogs enjoyed their best season since the 1938 squad won the national title and tiny quarterback Davey O’Brien won the Heisman Trophy.

 

2011 looks like a rebuilding year, but Coach Gary Patterson should be able to coax another winning season and bowl bid out of his troops.

 

The bigger rebuilding job must take place on the offensive side of the ball.  Quarterback Andy Dalton may wish he was still in college rather than be the starting quarterback for the most mismanaged team in the NFL.  Dalton left as the all-time leading passer in TCU history.  This position will take a major hit, because the expected starter, Casey Pachall, has an injured shoulder.  An MRI turned up negative, but a sore shoulder does not lead to a great passer.  If Pachall is not 100% ready to start the season, TCU will be in a heap of trouble.  Behind him are two untested backups.  Matt Brown and Trevone Boykin both have the potential to be excellent dual threat quarterbacks, but both are freshmen; Boykin is a true freshman.

 

Three of the top four receivers from last year have also used up their eligibility.  That leaves Josh Boyce as the only holdover from among that quartet.  Boyce caught 34 passes and averaged an eye-popping 19 yards per reception with six touchdowns.  Antoine Hicks saw limited action and caught 13 passes, but he has the potential to be a big-play receiver.

 

The backfield is the strong spot on this team, and we look for the running game to be featured more often this season.  Last year, the Horned Frogs ran the ball 64% of the time, and that number could approach 70% this year.  Ed Wesley ran for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns, while chief backup Matthew Tucker contributed over 700 yards and seven scores.  3rd teamer Waymon James saw enough action to rush for more than 500 yards and five scores.  All three return, as well as fourth teamer Aundre Dean, who led the team in yards per carry at 7.0.

 

The biggest problem area is the offensive line.  Only one starter returns.  Among those missing is 1st Team All-American and Rimington Award winner Jake Kirkpatrick and 1st Team All-MWC tackle Marcus Cannon.  The OL gave up just nine sacks all season.  Look for a considerable gain in this negative statistic this season.

 

TCU averaged almost 42 points per game while rushing for close to 250 yards and passing for more than 225 yards per game last year.  The Frogs won’t jump that high this season.  Look for a regression to about 28-30 points and 375-400 yards per game.

 

There is rebuilding to do on the defensive side of the ball as well, only not as much as on the offensive side.  Of course, there is nowhere to go but down after the team finished first nationally in points and yards allowed.  The definite strength of the defense is at linebacker where both starters return after garnering All-American honors last year.   Tanner Brock and Tank Carder are future NFL stars.  The duo teamed up to record 166 tackles with 15 ½ tackles for loss, while they found time to record 10 passes defended.

 

The front four is not as talented as Boise State’s great quartet, but they are better than any other MWC team.  End Stansly Maponga earned 2nd Team All-MWC accolades last year.  The other end spot may eventually go to sophomore Jon Koontz over senior Braylon Broughton.  D.J. Yendrey and Ray Burns make a capable pair of tackles.

 

The secondary shows promise, but it is not going to be up to the standards set by last year’s team.  For the second year in a row, TCU allowed fewer than half of enemy passes to be completed, but we expect that streak to end this season.  Cornerback Greg McCoy intercepted a couple of passes and knocked away six others.  New starter Jason Verrett will replace all-conference CB Jason Teague.  At Safety, only one of the three starters returns.  Tekerrein Cuba is a sure thing at one spot, but Patterson has been switching players around at the other two positions. 

 

The schedule is manageable this season.  An opener at Baylor followed by a trip to the Springs to take on Air Force in week two will be a great indicator for this team.  A 2-0 start could give TCU a chance to visit the field of blue with a 9-0 record.  Of course, this team could lose one or both of those first two games.  We believe the Horned Frogs can earn another double-digit win season, but only if Pachall stays healthy, and the new offensive line gels quickly.

 

Air Force

If Boise State had not joined the league, Air Force would have been listed as a co-favorite in the Mountain West this year.  The Falcons have a lot of experience returning from their best team since 1998.  At the military academies, 14 starters are unheard of.  In fact, it has been many years since AFA has returned that 14 starters.

 

The Falcons gave up 21 points and 350 yards per game last year, which was very respectable but nothing like what they did in 2009 (15.7 ppg/288 ypg).  The stop troops may be as good as the 2009 edition, but even so, we do not expect the Falcons to five up less than 18 points per game in 2011 with the schedule they have.

 

Eight starters and eight key reserves return to this side of the ball, so the Falcons will definitely be improved.  As you must have to succeed in this league, Coach Troy Calhoun has a dynamite secondary.  Safety Jon Davis finished second on the team with 93 tackles and tied for first with three interceptions.  Calhoun would like to see his tackles go down and his interceptions go up.  Often, he had to make tackles on running plays after backs broke through the first line of defense.  Cornerback Anthony Wright knocked down six passes and intercepted two others, as the AFA passing game gave up just 148 yards per game last year.

 

The Falcons are equally strong at the linebacker positions.  Calhoun used three and four linebacker sets last year, and he has a full stable of experienced players back this year.  Jordan Waiwaiole led the Falcons with 96 stops with 7 ½ tackles for loss.  Brady Amack added 82 tackles, while Patrick Hennessey got in on 60 stops with 10 for loss.

 

The one weak spot on this side of the ball is the defensive line.  The Falcons were too generous against the run last year, giving up more than 200 yards per game.  TCU rushed for 377 yards in a 38-7 pasting.  The Falcons have no 300-pound linemen, so they will always be vulnerable in the trenches.  Using a 3-4 defense places a large amount of pressure on the nose tackle, and at 260 pounds, Ryan Gardner is at a disadvantage.  Gardner made only 29 tackles in 10, 2010 starts.  End Zach Payne is the star of the front wall.  He came up with 6 ½ stops behind the line.

 

We are optimistic that Air Force will once again feature an exciting and efficient offense.  The main reason is the return of quarterback Tim Jefferson.  Removing sacks, Jefferson rushed for more than 800 yards and 15 touchdowns.  He passed for 1,459 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging better than nine yards per pass attempt.

 

The running game is in great hands with running back Asher Clark joining Jefferson in the option attack.  Clark led AFA with 1,031 rushing yards.  Two fullbacks that combined for more than 1,000 yards must be replaced, but Calhoun never seems to have a lack of talent ready to plug in here.  The new fullback is Wesley Cobb, a seldom used backup the last two years.  Mike DeWitt will back him up.

 

When your leading pass receiver had 18 receptions, it’s hard to call his return a major asset.  However, Jonathan Warzeka is the perfect academy flanker/slot.  His 18 receptions went for 406 yards (22.6/rec) and three touchdowns.  Warzeka provided excellent ability to run on the perimeter when Jefferson pitched him the ball; he averaged 7.6 yards on his 41 carries.  Zack Kauth grabbed 16 passes and averaged 17+ yards per reception, so the Falcons should once again burn defenses that put eight in the box to try to stop the option attack.

 

The offensive line returns three starters, but there is some concern here with expected starting guard Jordan Eason out with a knee injury and backup center Jeffrey Benson, who was expected to slide over to guard to replace Eason, also suffered a knee injury.  Thus, Calhoun will have to do more shuffling.  One player sure to star wherever he ends up on the line is A. J. Wallerstein, a 1st Team All-MWC performer last year.

 

Air Force averaged 31 points and 425 yards per game last year.  There is no reason to believe they will not equal or better those numbers in 2011.  The schedule sets up nicely for the Falcons.  A relatively easy opener with South Dakota is followed by a visit from TCU.  If the Falcons can get revenge on a rebuilding Horned Frog team, they could be headed to their first double-digit win season this century.  If not, a repeat of last year is within their grasp.

 

San Diego State

2010 was a memorable one at Qualcomm Stadium, as the Aztecs won nine games, including a 21-point win over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.  It was SDSU’s first winning season since 1998 and first nine-win season since the 1977 team went 10-1-0 (Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox was a member of that team).  However, the main force behind the turnaround has moved to the “Big House.”  Coach Brady Hoke is now pacing the sidelines at Michigan.

 

All is not lost.  Rocky Long is the new head man after serving as Hoke’s defensive guru the last two years.  Long won at New Mexico; look at what happened to the Lobos since his departure.

 

This year’s Aztec squad will not be as strong, but there is enough returning talent to send SDSU back to a bowl game.  However, Long was faced with an epidemic to one part of his offense, and it could sink the Aztecs’ bowl hopes.

 

The injury bug hit his receiver corps—big time.  Expected starters Jay Waddell and Dominique Sandifer both suffered season-ending knee injuries.  Incoming freshman Anthony Sheffield failed to qualify academically.  Then, possible replacement starter Larry Clark suffered a knee injury.  Not even Oklahoma could lose four key players at one position and not suffer.  San Diego State was already looking at having to replace their top three receivers from last year.  Now, tight end Gavin Escobar is the only returning receiver that caught at least 10 passes last year.  His backup, Hunter Hewitt, has been suspended for the start of the season, so the Aztecs have a lot of work to do disguising this weakness.  Walk-on Dylan Denso and Marcus Russell may see considerable playing time.

 

Quarterback Ryan Lindley will give the new receivers a chance to become successful.  Outside of Kellen Moore, he is the next best quarterback in the league.  Lindley will leave SDSU as the all-time leading passer if he can pass for about 160 yards per game this year.  He passed for close to 300 yards per game last year, so barring injury or just downright pitiful play at the receiver position, he should own that record by October or early November.

 

Long’s coaching style resembles Woody Hayes more than Mike Leach, so expect the Aztecs to run the ball more this season, especially with the liability at wide receiver.  Both of last year’s key backs return.  Sophomore Ronnie Hillman led the conference by a large margin with 1,532 yards and 17 touchdowns, which beat Marshall Faulk’s freshman records.  Backup Walter Kazee added 320 yards and three scores.

 

One place that the Aztecs don’t have to worry is the offensive line.  Four quality starters return from a year ago, and they should open holes for the running backs to sneak through for five yards.

 

After averaging 35 points and almost 460 yards per game last year, expect a reduction in both areas.  Long’s game plans usually seek to control the ball on extended scoring drives and not go for the quick score.  Look for about 28 points and 380-400 yards.

 

The defense has a bit of rebuilding to do.  An already raw defensive line took an extra beating when starter to be Neil Spencer was declared academically ineligible.  Larry Gibbs was expected to compete for Spencer’s end spot, but he suffered a broken foot in Spring drills.  That leaves nose tackle Jerome Long and end J. J. Autele as the only experienced holdovers from last year.  Long, an undersized nose tackle in the 3-3-5 alignment, got in on 30 tackles with 6 going for losses last year.  Autele posted 15 tackles as a backup.

 

The strength of the defense is the three-man linebacker unit.  All-conference star Miles Burris returns to the Sam linebacker position after leading the team with 80 tackles.  He led the conference with 9 ½ sacks and 20 tackles for loss. 

 

The secondary will miss free safety Brandon Davis for the first couple of games.  That will leave cornerback Leon McFadden as the lone returning starter until the third game.  McFadden was the star of last year’s secondary with 14 passes defended (led the conference).

 

The schedule presents SDSU with seven or eight win opportunities. We believe they will get to six, maybe seven wins and go bowling once again.

 

Colorado State

The Rams have suffered through back-to-back 3-9 seasons after going bowling in 2008.  Fourth year head coach Steve Fairchild may begin to feel the heat in Fort Collins, if the green and gold go 3-9 again this season.  Fairchild has enough tools to build a winner this year, but like San Diego State, the Rams have been plagued with a rash of problems in one area.

 

That area is the offensive line.  It started when projected starting guard Connor Smith chose to take his sheepskin and enter the workforce rather than use his final year of eligibility.  Then, key reserve tackle Justin Becker was ruled academically ineligible.  To make matters worse, three more offensive linemen suffered injuries in one week of preseason drills.  The other expected starting guard Jake Gdowski had knee surgery and will more than likely miss the start of the season.  Jason Baird and Mason Hathaway are sidelined with ankle injuries.  CSU is now razor thin here, and any chance for a winning season will hinge on the success of their offense.

 

If the Rams can provide any pass protection, they have no worries at quarterback.  Sophomore Pete Thomas put up some amazing numbers as a freshman.  He completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,662 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.  He did toss 13 interceptions, but almost half of those came in September.  Thomas has the ability to pass for 3,300 to 3,500 yards this year, as the Rams move to more of a pro-style passing attack like those used by the New England Patriots.

 

The Rams have two receivers capable of topping 50 receptions this season.  Lou Greenwood and Byron Steele teamed up for 54 receptions and 787 yards last year.  The Rams have depth here with the return of five backups that registered 15 or more receptions.

 

The running back position is not what it used to be in the Sonny Lubick days.  Nobody on this roster is a threat to rush for 1,000 yards, but this offense will not need that to succeed.  If Fairchild can find a back that can consistently pick up three yards on 3rd and two and can punch it in from the two yard line, the Rams will be okay at this position.  Raymond Carter saw limited action here last year after transferring from UCLA.  Carter, at one time a 4-star recruit from Los Angeles, has never lived up to his press credentials, mostly because of multiple knee injuries.  If he can remain healthy, he is capable of rushing for 100 yards against the weaker defenses, but we have to question his durability.  He should be limited to about 15 touches a game.

 

The offense averaged a meager 16.5 points and 335 yards per game in 2010.  If the problems in the offensive line can be solved, CSU will easily surpass these numbers in 2011.  If the OL stays as it is as of mid-August, Thomas could be running for his life rather than running downfield to congratulate his receivers.

 

The defense is much healthier, but it is not as talented as the offense.  The secondary is suspect after giving up nearly 70% completions last year and finishing 3rd to last in passing efficiency defense.  Cornerbacks Elijah-Blue Smith, Momo Thomas, and Shaq Bell have the potential to be good, but only if they get a little help from the pass rush.  The trio combined for just one interception and one pass defended, which is completely unacceptable at this position.

 

The strength, if you can call it that, on this side of the ball will be at linebacker.  Mychal Sisson is a probable 1st team all-conference player after making the 2nd team two years in a row.  He finished second in the league with 15 tackles for loss and recorded 95 total tackles last year.

 

The front four is another liability, and Fairchild could use more 3-4 alignments this year trying to hide the liability and take advantage of more talented linebackers.  The Rams posted just 21 QB sacks, and the chief instigator, Guy Miller, graduated.  Ends Broderick Sargent and C. J. James combined for just 3 ½ sacks.  Davis Burl can play a hybrid position (end/lb), and he has the quickness to pursue across the field and get into the backfield.

 

The Rams were generous a year ago, giving up 35 points and 425 yards per game.  Without an improved pass rush, don’t expect much improvement this year.  However, their schedule will actually give them a chance to challenge for bowl eligibility, especially if Thomas can help the Rams outscore the opposition in 38-35 style games.

 

Games against New Mexico, Northern Colorado, Colorado, Utah State, and San Jose State could actually give the Rams a chance to start 5-0 before enjoying a week off to prepare for Boise State.  The second half of the season includes games with UTEP, UNLC, and Wyoming.  This gives CSU eight winnable games, and we believe they can win at least six of them, but only if the offensive line can protect Thomas.

 

Wyoming

Dave Christensen came to Wyoming after serving as Gary Pinkel’s offensive coordinator at Missouri.  He immediately produced big results in his first season in Laramie in 2009, winning seven games, including the New Mexico Bowl.  In year two, the Cowboys didn’t catch the breaks they caught the year before and finished 3-9.  Both years, Wyoming was outgained and outscored, so the question remains: can Christensen turn this program around and produce a consistent winner?  Wyoming has a storied history in college football, and even though it is the smallest state by population, the ability to recruit all over the Rockies gives this school a chance to succeed.  One look at the lovely campus at more than 7,100 feet in elevation is a great recruiting tool to big sky country (Disclaimer: the photo montage screen saver on the computer typing this preview includes a lovely picture of Laramie, WY, taken by our founder when he lived in the Rockies and frequently hiked in Curt Gowdy State Park just a bit to the east of Laramie).

 

Wyoming will have a new offensive coordinator and new quarterback this year after averaging just 19 points and 286 total yards per game in 2010.  Former Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon produced some stellar passing teams, especially with Tyler Sheehan at quarterback.  Brandon finds the QB cupboard almost bare.  Austyn Carta-Samuels transferred to Vanderbilt when his former OC left for Cal.  Emory Miller was expected to compete for the starting job and given a 50-50 chance of winning it, but he quit the team.  That leaves true freshman Brett Smith as the starter.  Look for Brandon to keep things simple for Smith.  Wyoming will throw short and try to spread the field and cut down on mistakes.  Smith’s completion percentage could be over 60, but his yards per attempt could be under six.

 

The Cowboys lost their top two receivers, leaving Chris McNeill as the leading returnee.  But, he averaged just 9.2 yards per reception last year.  When UW uses a tight end, T. J. Smith can get open in the seams of zones.  He caught just eight passes last year, but he averaged nearly 22 yards per catch.  Look for him to more than double his amount of touches this season.

 

The Cowboys are just fine at the running back position.  Alvester Alexander returns after leading the team with 792 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.  We believe he has 1,000 yard potential, and he could become an important weapon in the short passing game.  In fact, it would not surprise us to see him lead the team in rushing and in receptions.

 

The offensive line is the real strength of this offense, and it will give Smith a chance to learn without fearing continual turf poundings.  After giving up 31 sacks last year, the OL should chop that number by at least 10.  Tackles Kyle Magnuson and John Hutchins create a solar eclipse when they stand up straight.  They will protect the flank and open holes for Alexander.

 

If Smith can just have an average year as a freshman, Wyoming’s numbers will improve on this side of the ball.  We are looking for a typical stat line of 17-27 for 175 yards against an average opponent.  Throw in 150 yards rushing, and Wyoming would average about 20-25 points per game this year.  That would be an enormous improvement; UW has not averaged 20 or more points per game since 2006.

 

There is good news and bad news on the other side of the ball.  Wyoming needs more good news after giving up more than 30 points and 400 yards per game last year.  The Good news is the return of the entire starting front four from last year.  There will be improvement on the 20 sacks and 200+ rushing yards allowed.  End Josh Biezuns led the team with 6 ½ sacks, while his counterpart Gabe Knapton added four.  The healthy return of Mark Willis gives the outside quality depth.

 

Now the bad news: Wyoming must rebuild its back seven line of defense.  Only two starters return here, and the unexpected loss of middle linebacker Oliver Schober is likely to be a major factor in why the Cowboys will not improve much if any on this side of the ball.

 

Brian Hendricks is the lone holdover at linebacker.  He finished third on the team with 80 tackles, but he did not get into the backfield, nor did he cover well on passing plays.  Backup middle linebacker Devyn Harris saw considerable action in 2010, so he has a chance to partially fill the void left by Schober.

 

The secondary performed admirably last year considering there was very little pass rush, and the safeties had to make a lot of stops on running plays.  Cornerback Tashaun Gipson could vie for all-conference honors this year.  He defended a dozen passes last year, intercepting three.

 

It will be hard to hold opponents under 30 points per game this year with the weaknesses in the back seven.  The schedule offers the Cowboys a chance to top last year’s win total, but we do not see this team getting to six wins.  4-8 or 5-7 is about the peak for this season.

 

U N L V

Bobby Hauck replaced Joe Glenn at Montana and in seven seasons, guided the Grizzlies to seven conference championships.  His last team included future Pro Bowl rookie kick returner Mark Mariani. 

 

In his first season in Las Vegas, Hauck’s Rebels finished 2-11, only six fewer losses than he experienced in seven years at Montana.  Glenn left Montana to take a job in the MWC at Wyoming, but he never turned the program around and was dismissed after six seasons.  Is the Montana position a lot like the Boise State position has been?  You can win big at Montana, but don’t try to let the chips ride for bigger stakes?

 

Only time will tell, but in year two in Vegas, Hauck may wish that what happens at Sam Boyd Stadium, stays in Sam Boyd Stadium.  The Rebels will have a hard time improving on the woeful 2-11 season of last year, and they could even win 50% fewer games if they cannot defeat New Mexico.

 

Hauck comes from the three yards and a cloud of dust offense school, and he does not have the horses to make it run.  The current roster was recruited to play in the spread offense, and what talent there is was recruited for speed over girth.

 

Trying to improve on 18 points and 274 yards per game, the first order of business is finding a new quarterback.  Omar Clayton has left the building after finishing second in school history to Randall Cunningham in passing yards.  Caleb Herring should line up under center when the season opens on September 1.  He completed half of his 56 passes last year with four touchdowns and three interceptions (the latter stat too high to win in this league).

 

We expect improvement in the Rebels’ running game this year, but it would be hard to go downhill from last year’s weak results (103 rushing yards per game). Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle teamed for just 655 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, but both have looked solid so far in August drills.

 

UNLV has experienced depth at the receiver positions, but the leading receiver from 2010 will miss the start of this season.  Phillip Payne led the Rebels with 40 receptions, while proving to be the only breakaway threat on the team.  He is still recovering from a broken foot.  Payne has the potential to be an all-conference player.  Replacing him until he is ready to go will be tall and lanky Kurt Davis.  Marcus Sullivan has the potential to give the Rebels a solid one-two punch on the perimeter.

 

The offensive line is still a major liability, and expected starting tackle Allen Carroll has been a spectator in practices so far.  The transfer from Washington would be the one true talent on this line, but he has yet to suit up after being medically cleared.  Redshirt freshman Cameron Jefferson is well undersized to play tackle, but he will start at the all-important left tackle position.  Jefferson is 6-6 and only 265 pounds having been a basketball star more than a football star in high school.

 

With an inexperienced line and inexperienced quarterback, defenses may be able to choke off the running game and stop the Rebels’ offense again this season.  We are a little pessimistic on their prospects in year two of the Hauck regime.

 

The defense makes the offense look good.  UNLV had no defense last year.  The Rebels surrendered 40 points and 450 yards per game.  There was no pass rush; enemy backs enjoyed career days; and the secondary played like matadors.  Maybe having major graduation losses on this side of the ball is not such a bad thing.

 

There is one man among boys on this side of the ball.  Linebacker Princeton Jackson comes from Blinn Junior College (Cam Newton’s school) where he was a legitimate superstar in the Juco ranks.  Jackson is quick and strong, and he can make a tackle on either sideline.  He will immediately be the star on this side of the ball and team with Nate Carter and Tani Maka to give the Rebels respectability at this position.

 

You know things are not well when your leading returning sack master recorded just 1 ½ sacks.  UNLV only dumped QBs 12 times in 13 games last year.  B. J. Bell tied for the lead (with a defensive back) with just 1 ½ sacks.  The other starting end, James Dunlap, never touched a QB.  In the interior, Hauck has a couple of beefy bulldozers coming in at 300+ pounds, but there is very little experience or depth here.

 

The secondary might have been an asset this year, but the Rebels’ projected starting strong safety Chris Jones decided to quit playing the game.  The news is a little better at cornerback with the return of the top three players with starting experience.  Will Chandler and Sidney Hodge (the other player with 1 ½ sacks) combined to stop 10 passes last year with Chandler intercepting five of those.  Former starter Quinton Pointer returns after missing 2010 with a knee injury.

 

The schedule does no favors for UNLV.  The Rebels open the season with road games against Big Ten power Wisconsin and improving Washington State.  Then Hawaii comes for a visit.  Game four finds the Rebels hosting a dangerous FCS team in Southern Utah; the Thunderbirds are capable of pulling off the upset.  In conference play, UNLV faces the other two weakest teams on enemy turf, so this could be a very long season in Vegas.  The chances for an 0-12 season are there, but we believe the Rebels can find a way to win two times.

 

New Mexico

How many times have you seen something similar to this story? A publicly traded company has a history of turning a modest profit most quarters with an occasional loss but never a big loss.  The board decides the modest profit is not enough and brings in this promising assistant from one of the Dow Jones 30, and the modest quarterly profits all of a sudden became incredible losses, threatening to make the company the next Eastern Airlines.

 

New Mexico’s most influential supporters were not satisfied with Rocky Long’s typical six and seven-win seasons in a state that just does not have any recruiting base to expect anything more.  Long won nine games in 2007, and he should have been given a lifetime contract.  Instead, a rebuilding season in 2008 brought a 4-8 record and his dismissal. 

 

How do you feel about that now you influential supporters?  You traded five bowls in six years for back-to-back 1-11 seasons and with no prospects for much improvement if any. 

 

New Mexico’s most recent 1-11 season was much worse than the 1-11 season the year before.  The Lobos averaged 16 points and 266 yards (last in the nation) per game while giving up 44 points and 470 total yards per game last year.  Among the losses was a second consecutive defeat to rival New Mexico State, a team that finished 2-10.

 

Third year coach Mike Locksley has appointed two new coordinators, but that is not the problem.  As a popular commercial once made popular, “Where’s the Beef?”  There are not enough FBS-caliber players on the roster, and Vince Lombardi couldn’t win six games with this team.

 

There is talent on offense, but none of it as in the line.  Two starters return to the blocking corps, and this group may be weaker than last year.  Last year’s line gave up 27 sacks and opened holes for just 108 rushing yards at less than three yards per rush.  The top lineman, tackle Darryl Johnson, missed Spring practice.

 

The Lobos went through four quarterbacks last year, and two return for more pain and suffering.  Either B. R. Holbrook or Tarean Austin will start against Colorado State in game one, but with the lack of protection, it would be no surprise if true freshman Dustin Walton is starting at some point during the season.  Holbrook and Austin combined for 1,017 passing yards with a 51% completion rate and a 4/10 TD/int ratio.

 

The top two receivers from last year are back, giving the Lobos a chance to have a little better passing yardage this year.  Ty Kirk and tight end Lucas Reed teamed for 71 receptions and 936 yards.  New wide receiver Lamaar Thomas has world class sprinter’s speed; he started his career at Ohio State, and he could become the top receiver here.

 

Kasey Carrier and James Wright both return to the backfield.  The two gained 677 yards on the ground and scored four touchdowns last year, but it could be harder for them to gain yards with the raw offensive line.

 

It looked like the defense had a chance to improve quite a bit, but major defections/injuries/suspensions have put a major crimp in the trenches of the 4-2-5 alignment.  The big loss is tackle Calvin Smith, who was a big-time recruit.  He transferred to Purdue.  End J. J. Hugine transferred as well.  End Omar Castillo was dismissed from the team, while end Johnathan Rainey broke a bone in his neck and will miss the entire season.  Two juniors who played sparingly a year ago will be counted on to lead the front line.  Joe Harris and Reggie Ellis will join Jaymar Latchison as the only experienced players in the trenches.

 

UNM has some talent at linebacker.  Carmen Messina, Joe Stoner, and Javarie Johnson, and Spencer Merritt give Locksley a decent two-deep.  Messina led the Lobos with 115 tackles with six tackles for loss.  He batted away four passes as well. 

 

The secondary returns four starters from a year ago, but unless the line develops some threat of a pass rush, it will be hard for this quintet to improve by much.  Free safety Bubba Forrest made way too many tackles last year (100).  If he records triple digit stops again this year, the Lobos will be looking up at the rest of the MWC in the standings.

 

The schedule gives UNM a chance to win four times.  Colorado State is vulnerable in the opener due to their offensive line issues.  Sam Houston State visits on September 24, and if the Lobos lose that game, Locksley could be out.  New Mexico State visits Albuquerque the following week, and the Lobos have dropped the last two games to the Aggies.  On November 12, UNM hosts UNLV in a game that could decide which team avoids the basement.

 

New Mexico has so much room to make up on the rest of the league, it is really hard to predict that they will win any of these four winnable games.  We believe that lightning will strike at least one time—again.

 

2011 Mountain West Conference Media Poll

Team

1st Place Votes

Points

Boise State

28

236

T C U

3

208

Air Force

 

176

San Diego State

 

160

Colorado State

 

104

Wyoming

 

80

U N L V

 

77

New Mexico

 

39

 

 

2011 Mountain West Conference PiRate Ratings

Team

PiRate #

Prediction

Boise St.

121.7

7-0/12-0

T C U

110.0

6-1/11-1

Air Force

106.6

5-2/8-4

S.D.State

100.3

4-3/6-6

Colo.State

92.4

3-4/6-6

Wyoming

90.4

2-5/4-8

UNLV

85.2

1-6/2-10

New Mexico

81.7

0-7/1-11

 

August 3, 2011

The PiRates Have Returned To Dry Land Ready For Football

When we last spoke with you, it was undecided whether we would present football ratings for 2011-12.  At the time, there was no end in sight for the NFL lockout, and we were head strong in support of boycotting the college football season as a show of opposition to the post-season bowls.

 

In July, as our gardens became tumbleweeds in the oppressive heat, we had some extra time on our hands to discuss just what we would do this year.  Upon further review, we have decided to issue our college ratings as usual, but only after we make a special post concerning the bowl games.  That will come next week. 

 

As for the NFL, it will be at least three to three and a half weeks before we can update the ratings due to the tight window of wheeling and dealing.  We will not be able to offer an in-depth preview of each NFL division like in past years—it will just be ratings and a brief synopsis of how we see the races and playoffs.  We will offer a brain-teasing trivia quiz dedicated to those 50 and over who remember the NFL/AFL at its best—in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  For those not gifted with gray hair or hairlessness yet, you just might learn some very interesting facts that you can spring on your friends at your local watering hole.  Some will be very tricky indeed.

 

Beginning August 15, we will begin previewing the college conferences.  Here is the schedule for those conference previews:

 

Monday, August 15:SunbeltConference

Tuesday, August 16: Mid-American Conference

Wednesday, August 17: ConferenceUSA

Thursday, August 18: Western Athletic Conference

Friday, August 19: Independents

Monday, August 22: Mountain West Conference

Tuesday, August 23: Big East Conference

Wednesday, August 24:AtlanticCoastConference

Thursday, August 25: Pacific 12 Conference

Friday, August 26: Big 12 Conference

Monday, August 29: Southeastern Conference

Tuesday, August 30: Big Ten Conference

 

We realize that about 15% of you reading this are fans ofVanderbiltUniversitydown inNashville, who followed our founder when he wrote for Vanderbilt Athletics.  We also realize that about 35% of you reading this are residents of the great state ofWisconsinor Badger fans living in the hinterlands.  Thus, on August 29, there will be expanded coverage of the Vanderbilt Commodores, and on August 30, there will be expanded coverage on the Wisconsin Badgers, as they compete for the first Leaders Division title and another conference championship in the exciting, expanded Big Ten.

 

Check back next week for an all-inclusive post about how you can boycott the bowl sponsors and help bring about a post-season playoff.  We have a fresh way of satisfying both the bowls and a playoff at the same time.  To those that have heard our proposal, we have received 100% approval of our idea.  Check back next week for that idea.

March 4, 2011

This Week’s Bracketological Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Races

Very Few Bubble Spots Left

 

With conference tournament play underway, not much has changed yet in the NCAA Tournament picture.  At least two dozen teams remain on a bubble that may have room to admit nine of those teams at the most.  With every multiple bid conference tournament that produces an upset winner, one more bubble will burst.

 

As we see it today, 16 conferences will definitely send just one team to the NCAA Tournament.  Six other leagues have a chance to send two teams, but they could send just one team if the favorite wins their tournament or loses in an early round and gets eliminated.  That brings the subtotal to 22 definite bids.

 

We believe 37 teams have already met the minimum requirement to receive a bid to the tournament no matter how they perform in their conference tournament.  The subtotal now numbers 59.

 

That leaves just nine spots left, and up to six of those could go to those leagues mentioned above that could send a second team.  The bubble has a very thin skin.

 

Let’s take a conference-by-conference look at the prospects and suspects.

 

Definite One Bid Leagues

These leagues will send only their automatic qualifier to the Big Dance.  The team we list here have not earned a spot, since no conference tournament championships have been played.  That will change in 24 hours.

 

America East

Vermont 22-7

 

Atlantic Sun

Belmont 28-4

 

Big Sky

Northern Colorado 19-10

 

Big South

Coastal Carolina 28-4

 

Big West

Long Beach State 20-10

 

M A A C

Fairfield 23-6

 

M A C

Kent State 20-10

 

M E A C

Hampton 21-8

 

Northeast

Long Island 25-5

 

Ohio Valley

Murray State 23-7

 

Patriot League

Bucknell 23-8

 

Southern

College of Charleston 22-9

 

Southland

Stephen F. Austin 18-9

 

S W A C

Texas Southern 17-11

 

Summit

Oakland 22-9

 

Sunbelt

Florida Atlantic 21-9

 

Possible Two Bid Leagues If Favorite Loses In Final Round

These conferences have a chance to send a second team if the favorite is upset in the championship game.  If the favorite wins the automatic bid, that conference will send just one team.

 

Conference USA

U A B  21-7

 

UTEP 22-8, Southern Miss. 21-8, and Memphis 21-9 probably do not have the resumes to earn an at-large bid, but if any of these win the tournament, UAB could and probably will earn an at-large spot.  We will place allot one bubble spot for these three teams, because two will not get a spot.

 

Horizon League

Butler 21-9

 

Cleveland State 25-7 is close to becoming a bubble team, but we believe the Vikings must win the tournament.  Butler has the credentials to get in if they lose in the finals or to CSU in the semifinals, but the Bulldogs better plan on winning the league tournament, because they are vulnerable if there are two or three upsets in other tournaments.

 

Ivy League

Regular Season Champion

 

Either Harvard 21-5 or Princeton 22-5 will win the Ivy this year.  Currently, Princeton leads Harvard by half a game (10-1 to 10-2).  Princeton finishes out the season with three road games.  The Tigers play at Dartmouth tonight and at Harvard tomorrow night.  They finish at Penn on Tuesday.  Harvard hosts Penn tonight and Princeton tomorrow night.  There is a good chance that both contenders will finish 12-2, forcing a playoff game later in the week.  If Harvard loses a playoff, they would be 23-6.  Princeton would be 24-6 if they lost the playoff.  Both teams have RPIs in the 40’s, so there is a small chance that both teams could receive bids.

 

Missouri Valley

Missouri State 23-7

 

Wichita State 23-7 had a chance to wrap up a safe position, but the Shockers lost in the Bracketbuster.  This league laid an egg in the Bracketbuster and watched the Colonial take over the title of best mid-major.  Still, if somebody other than Missouri State wins the tournament, the Valley could send a second team.

 

West Coast

St. Mary’s 23-7

 

Gonzaga 22-9 has played a relatively tough schedule and owns wins over a couple of top 50 teams, but we do not believe the Bulldogs are in line for an at-large bid.  We will anoint them as conference tournament favorites, and if the Zags beat SMU in the championship game, the Gaels should be in decent shape for an at-large bid.

 

W A C

Utah State 27-3 is ranked in the Top 25 and has an RPI of 18.  The Aggies are going dancing even if they lose in the WAC Tournament.  

 

Teams That Are Locks

These teams are going to the Big Dance even if they lose the rest of their regular season games.

 

A C C

Duke 27-3

North Carolina 23-6

Florida State 20-9

 

Atlantic 10

Xavier 23-6

Temple 23-6

Richmond 23-7

 

Big East

Pittsburgh 26-4

Notre Dame 24-5

Louisville 23-7

Syracuse 24-6

St. John’s 19-10

West Virginia 19-10

Cincinnati 23-7

Georgetown 21-8

Connecticut 21-8

Villanova 21-9

 

Big Ten

Ohio State 28-2

Purdue 25-5

Wisconsin 23-6

 

Big 12

Kansas 28-2

Texas 24-6

Texas A&M 22-7

Kansas State 21-9

Missouri 22-8

 

Colonial

George Mason 25-5

Old Dominion 24-6

 

Mountain West

B Y U 27-3

San Diego State 28-2

U N L V 22-7

 

Pac-10

Arizona 24-6

U C L A 21-9

Washington 20-9

 

S E C

Florida 23-6

Kentucky 21-8

Vanderbilt 21-8

Georgia 20-9

Tennessee 18-12

 

Das Bubble

If a team has an asterisk (*) after its name, then we feel they are on the top side of the bubble.  If a team has an “x” after its name, then we feel they are on the bottom of the bubble and need to win some big games to have any chance.

 

As of today, as many as nine bubble teams could earn a bid.

 

A C C

Virginia Tech 19-9

Clemson 19-10 *

Boston College 18-11 *

 

Clemson takes on Virginia Tech Saturday, and the winner will enter the ACC Tournament as a definite high bubble team.  We believe two of these three teams will get a bid.

 

Atlantic 10

Duquesne 18-10 x (100 RPI)

Dayton 19-11 x (81 RPI)

 

These teams have played themselves out of serious contention for an at-large bid.  If either gets hot and wins their season finale and then loses in the conference championship game, then that team could be back on the bubble.  Duquesne closes at Richmond, and a win there would mean a lot.  Dayton finishes at George Washington, which would be a quality win but not as impressive as a DU win at Richmond.

 

Big East

Marquette 18-12 *

 

Marquette may be at the top of the bubble.  The Big East Tournament will be stronger than some of the NCAA regionals, and it may only take one tournament win to get them in the field.

 

Big Ten

Michigan State 17-12

Illinois 18-12

Michigan 18-12

 

The Spartans venture to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines Saturday, and the winner will enter the Big Ten tournament near the top of the bubble.

 

Illinois hosts Indiana tomorrow, and this is a must-win game for the Illini.  We believe they will have to make it to the semifinal round in the conference tournament to be on the good side of the bubble.

 

Big 12

Baylor 18-11

Nebraska 19-10 x

Colorado 18-12

 

Baylor, 6-8 since starting 12-3, hosts Texas tomorrow, and the Bears must win that one and then at least two in the Big 12 Tournament.  If they lose to the Longhorns, then BU will have to win the automatic bid.

 

Nebraska plays at Colorado tomorrow.  Even if the Cornhuskers win to sweep the Buffalos, they may have to win the conference tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament.

 

Colorado is 4-8 in their last 12 after starting 14-4.  They will have to beat Nebraska and then win at least three in the conference tournament to have any chance at an at-large bid.  

 

Colonial

Drexel 20-9 x  61 RPI

Virginia Commonwealth 21-10 x  62 RPI

Hofstra 20-10 x  78 RPI

 

Conference USA

U T E P  22-8 x

Memphis 21-9 *

Southern Miss 21-8 *

 

We believe that one of these three teams will play their way into an at-large bid if they do not win the automatic bid.  

 

Horizon

Cleveland State 25-7

 

As we mentioned above, Cleveland State is on the bubble and could possibly receive an at-large bid if they upset Butler in the conference tournament semifinals but fail to win the championship.

 

Ivy League

Runner-up

 

If Harvard and Princeton both finish 12-2 in the league and face off in a playoff for the Ivy League championship, we believe the loser will still have an outside shot at receiving an at-large bid.

 

Pac-10

Washington State 19-10

The Cougars have a shot at grabbing an at-large bid if they beat UCLA to end the regular season and win a game in the conference tournament.  Two wins in the Pac-10 tourney would move them to the plus side of the bubble.

 

S E C

Alabama 19-10

 

The Crimson Tide must beat Georgia tomorrow and then get to the Final round of the SEC Tournament to have a shot at an at-large bid.

 

Visit this site after Midnight Eastern Time Friday, March 4/Saturday March 5 for an update on the conference tournaments and a preview of two more tournaments commencing on Satuday.

February 25, 2011

This Week’s Bracketological Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Races

80 Teams Vying For 68 Spots Before Conference Upsets Upset The Apple Cart

 

As we approach the eve of the first conference tournaments, we here at the PiRate Ratings have crunched the numbers and come to a consensus on 80 total teams that are either locks to get into the Big Dance, just one or two wins away, on the bubble, or in the conversation for a possible at-large bid from a smaller conference.

 

Of course, there will be some conference tournament upsets, and with each upset, one bubble will burst.

 

Today, as we break down each category, we will focus on the bubble teams plus three special cases from smaller conferences.  Unlike other sites, we factor in what we perceive to be back-room politics into our equation.  A team like Kentucky in an off-year will still always receive preferential treatment over a team like Cleveland State or Southern Mississippi, and the committee can always reverse engineer enough data to support their decision.

 

Absolute Locks—These 25 Teams Are In The Dance

Figures shown are conference and overall record, RPI, and strength of schedule

When two teams have the same RPI, they are tied

TEAM                         Record                      RPI      SOS

Duke                           12-1/26-2                       5        33

North Carolina            11-2/21-6                     12        15

Xavier                         12-1/21-6                     24        47

Temple                        11-2/21-6                     32        79

Pittsburgh                    13-2/25-3                       6        25

Notre Dame                11-4/22-5                     10        31

Louisville                    10-5/21-7                     23        23

St. John’s                    10-5/18-9                     15          4

Syracuse                      10-6/23-6                     17        24

Georgetown                10-6/21-7                       7          2

Villanova                       9-6/21-7                     27        35

Connecticut                   8-7/20-7                     19        12

Ohio State                   13-2/26-2                       2        26

Purdue                         12-3/23-5                     23        18

Wisconsin                    11-4/21-6                     13        29

Texas                           12-1/24-4                       9        20

Kansas                         11-2/26-2                       1        13

Texas A&M                  9-4/22-5                     29        53

Missouri                        8-5/22-6                     30        68

San Diego State          12-1/27-1                       4        38

B Y U                         12-1/26-2                       3        22

Arizona                       12-3/23-5                     14        48

Florida                         11-2/22-5                     11          9

Kentucky                      7-6/19-8                     16        17

Vanderbilt                     8-5/20-7                     22        19

 

Near Locks—These 12 Teams Need One Or Two More Wins To Be In The Dance

TEAM                         Record                       RPI      SOS

Florida State               9-4/22-5                       51        100

Cincinnati                    9-6/22-6                       35          88

West Virginia              8-7/17-10                     20           3

Kansas State               7-6/19-9                       28            7

Michigan State            8-7/16-11                     37            5

Missouri State             14-3/22-7                     46        138

Wichita State              14-3/23-6                     47        108

U N L V                      9-5/21-7                       25          28

Washington                 10-5/19-8                     36          63

U C L A                      11-4/20-8                     38          50

Tennessee                    7-6/17-11                     31            1

Utah State                   12-1/25-3                     18        111

 

3 Teams That Could Get In The Conversation From A Non-Power Conference

(If they win out in the regular season and then lose in their conference tournament finals)

 

TEAM                         Record                       RPI      SOS

Belmont                      18-1/26-4                     50        237

Oakland                      16-1/21-9                     58        132

Ivy League 2nd Place

   Harvard                    9-1/20-4                       42        176

   Princeton                  8-1/20-5                       55        195

 

14 Conferences That Will Send Only Their Automatic Bid Champion

Conference                              Top Team                    Won-Loss

America East                           Vermont                        13-2/22-6                  

Big Sky                                   Montana                        12-3/20-8

Big South                                Coastal Carolina            15-2/25-4

Big West                                 Long Beach State       12-2/18-10

M A A C                                 Fairfield                        14-2/22-5

M A C                                     Kent State                     10-3/19-9

Northeast                                Long Island                   15-2/23-5

Ohio Valley                             Murray State                 13-4/22-7

Patriot                                     Bucknell                        12-1/21-8

Southern                                  College of Charleston   14-3/22-8

Southland                                McNeese State                9-4/17-9

S W A C                                 Texas Southern           13-1/15-10 

Sunbelt                                    Florida Atlantic             12-3/20-9

 

26  Teams On The Bubble (absolutely must win the big games and not be upset)

TEAM                         Record                        RPI      SOS

Virginia Tech              8-5/18-8                       63        109                                         

Clemson                      7-6/18-9                       65          84

Maryland                     7-6/18-10                     80          75

Boston College           6-7/16-11                     49          16

Miami (Fla)                 5-8/17-11                     67          46

Richmond                   10-3/21-7                     62        130

Marquette                    8-7/17-11                     51          27

Baylor                         6-7/17-10                     87          64

Nebraska                     6-7/18-9                       77          74

Colorado                     6-7/17-11                     84          81

Illinois                         7-8/17-11                     39          11

Minnesota                   6-9/17-10                     48          32

Penn State                   8-8/15-12                     53            6

Michigan                     7-9/17-12                     66          21

V C U                         12-5/21-9                     53        115

Drexel                         10-7/19-9                     60        110

U A B                         9-4/19-7                       34          52

Memphis                     9-4/21-7                       33          40

Southern Miss.            9-4/21-6                       41          99

Butler                          12-5/20-9                     45          80

Cleveland St.              12-5/23-7                     42        107

Colorado St.                8-5/18-9                       44          37

Georgia                       7-6/18-9                       40          29

Alabama                      11-2/19-8                     74        139

Gonzaga                      10-3/20-9                     64          78

St. Mary’s                   10-3/22-7                     56        121

 

As we see it, there are 51 spots basically secured at this point.  14 will go to low-major conference automatic qualifiers.  37 will go to teams that have basically already stamped their dance ticket. 

 

17 spots are still up for grabs.  The current bubble plus the three low-major teams that could earn an at-large bid totals to 29 teams.  For each conference tournament in which there is an upset champion that would not have been an at-large candidate, one more bubble will burst.

 

Conference tournament play begins next week, and we will be here to cover it in depth.  Check back daily once the first tournaments are set to begin.  We will have the schedules for all the games and relay the results.

 

This all leads up to our most read story of every year.  On the Monday following Selection Sunday, we will preview the First Four games at Dayton.  On the Wednesday prior to the first regional games, we will preview all 64 remaining teams and show you our fantastic formula for picking the real contenders while dismissing the pretenders.  Our PiRate Ratings Bracketology Formula has been very successful since it was implemented five years ago.

 

PiRate Ratings This Week

Let us look PiRate Rating Style at eight of the top teams this week.  For those of you that have not discovered our rating criteria, you can read all about it in our past college basketball stories.

 

Team Pts. Margin FG Margin Rb Margin TO Margin
Duke 19.0 8.1 3.6 3.6
Florida 9.2 3.8 6.4 0.6
Xavier 8.0 6.3 3.8 0.6
Pittsburgh 14.2 7.4 11.2 0.3
Ohio State 17.6 6.3 4.3 5.7
Kansas 12.6 12.6 7.4 1.6
S. D. State 13.8 7.8 6.8 2.3
Utah State 13.8 8.5 8.7 0.0

 

Team Stl R+T SOS Road W-L PiRate #
Duke 7.8 10.3 .5696 10-2 22
Florida 6.3 7.3 .5944 9-2 14
Xavier 5.5 4.6 .5577 8-5 8
Pittsburgh 5.0 11.6 .5798 9-2 20
Ohio State 7.7 14.8 .5786 8-2 21
Kansas 8.6 10.7 .5917 11-1 26
S. D. State 5.9 10.1 .5667 14-1 22
Utah State 4.6 9.6 .5245 9-3 14

 

Any team with a PiRate Criteria number above 20 must be considered a legitimate candidate for the Elite 8.  A score between 10 and 20 is usually good enough to make it to the Sweet 16, depending on their opposition’s score.  Xavier’s current score of 8 is really only good enough for Two and Out.  The Musketeers are not currently considered to be the Butler of 2011.

 

Florida’s score of 14 indicates the Gators could be gone after two games if they draw a tough opponent.  The SEC does not currently have a legitimate Elite 8 team and in an at-worst scenario, all teams could be gone before the Sweet 16.

 

Utah State is in the same boat with Florida.  The Aggies look good enough to contend for a deep run in the tournament, but it would require them to play pretenders.  At 14, they should be considered at best a Sweet 16 participant and possibly a Two and Out team.

 

San Diego State’s score indicates that the Aztecs are a force to be reckoned with.  If they draw a #1 or #2 seed, they could be in line for a run to the Final Four if their schedule does not find them playing a Kansas in the Elite 8.

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