The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 21, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round Games Played On Sunday, March 22, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament

2nd Round Games Played On

Sunday, March 22, 2009

 

Friday’s games were a little more surprising than Thursday’s games, and several of the games that were won by the team expected to win were exciting and tough to the finish.  Siena has now won first round games in consecutive years over teams from a power conference.  The Saints could be on the verge of becoming Gonzaga East.

 

Our picks for day two went 11-5, bringing our total for round one to 24-8.  FWIW, we not only picked Siena to beat Ohio State, we almost hit the score exactly, missing by just two points.  Of course, a broken watch displays the correct time twice a day.

 

Here is a look at the Round of 32 games for Sunday.

 

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

 

East Region

Pittsburgh (14) vs. Oklahoma State (0) [Schedule strengths are equal]: The Panthers struggled against East Tennessee’s pressure defense, committing numerous turnovers.  They could have easily become the first number one seed to lose to a 16-seed.  Oklahoma State is a quicker, better version of ETSU, but Pittsburgh should be able to hold off the pesky Cowboys.  We expect Pitt to be ready for OSU’s pressure and play less error-prone ball.  Pittsburgh will advance to the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 73 Oklahoma State 62

 

Wisconsin (2) vs. Xavier (8) [Wisconsin has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: The Badgers held on tough to eke out an overtime win over Florida State Friday night, while Xavier had an easier workout against Portland State.  The Musketeers could sneak into the Sweet 16.  They are the type of team that can beat Pittsburgh and even Duke if their three big shooters are on their mark.  We believe Wisconsin’s best days are two years down the road, and it is a credit to Coach Bo Ryan to get them to the second round this year.  However, we expect the Badgers to be out of the Dance after this one.

 

Prediction: Xavier 64 Wisconsin 57

 

South Region

Arizona State (4) vs. Syracuse (4) [Syracuse has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: This should be the best game of the day.  Arizona State has two excellent three-point shooters, and it takes a good outside shooting team to beat Syracuse.  The Orangemen will press the tempo and force the Sun Devils to play at a faster pace than they would like.  If Syracuse can keep from hitting the wall, they should advance.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 80 Arizona State 71

 

Midwest Region

Louisville (10) vs. Siena (5) [Louisville has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: Siena had enough talent to top Ohio State, but Louisville will be too much for the Saints to handle.  The Saints will not be able to beat the Cardinals playing the same game against a team with better athletes.

 

Prediction: Louisville 79 Siena 62

 

Arizona (-2) vs. Cleveland State (7) [Arizona has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: This should be a close game.  Arizona’s PiRate criteria score is a negative number, but when you add the four points for strength of schedule advantage, this game becomes a virtual tossup.  CSU plays terrific defense, while Arizona relies more on offense.  This game will be decided on the Cardinal side of the court.  If Jordan Hill can hit his inside shots, Arizona should prevail.  If Hill cannot get open or cannot connect from his normal range, then the Vikings can be this year’s surprise team in the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Arizona 65 Cleveland State 61

 

Dayton (5) vs. Kansas (10) [Kansas has a schedule 5 points per game stronger]: Kansas never expected North Dakota State to keep their round one game close for 35 minutes.  Dayton never really pulled away from West Virginia, but the Flyers led throughout their game.  Round two should be a different bird.  Kansas looked a little rusty after losing early in the Big 12 Tournament and going a week without playing.  They should play much better in round two, and Dayton won’t have enough talent to stop KU.

 

Prediction: Kansas 74 Dayton 64

 

Southern California (2) vs. Michigan State (7) [Michigan State has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: On paper, Michigan State looks to be better than USC by double digit points.  However, USC has put it all together in the past two weeks and must be considered 7-10 points better today than they were in January.  We’ll stick with the Spartans to sneak by in this game, but a Trojan win would be no big surprise.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 71 Southern Cal 64

 

West Region

Missouri (14) vs. Marquette (9) [Schedule strengths are equal]: Missouri will wear Marquette down as the game wears on.  Eventually, the Tigers will go on a run in the second half and put this game out of reach.  A Memphis-Missouri Sweet 16 match would be possibly the most exciting game of the entire tournament.

 

Prediction: Missouri 74 Marquette 65

March 20, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round Games Played On Saturday, March 21, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament

2nd Round Games Played On

Saturday, March 21, 2009

 

Thursdays games basically went according to expectations with a few exceptions.  One number 12 seed won over a five-seed when Western Kentucky controlled Illinois for much of the night.  We told you we thought WKU could pull off the upset, even though the system chose Illinois (but could not adjust for the loss of a key starter).  For what it’s worth, our Thursday picks went 13-3.

 

Here is a look at the Round of 32 games for Saturday.

 

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

 

East Region

 

UCLA (14) vs. Villanova (9) [Villanova has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: Both teams had scares in round one and were fortunate to survive to round two.  The Bruins have the criteria advantage here, but Villanova has home town advantage plus a slight strength of schedule advantage.  This game will look similar to the 1971 championship game between these same schools.  UCLA won that won by single digits.  That Villanova team had two stars, whereas the UCLA squad had five really good players.  Usually five really good players can beat two stars, but home town advantage eliminates that advantage.  We’ll go with the Bruins in a very close game.

 

Prediction: UCLA 64 Villanova 62

 

Texas (3) vs. Duke (14) [Duke has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: Duke has all the advantages here.  Watch Duke’s Gerald Henderson and Texas’s Damion James.  This is the key to this game.  If James can dominate better than Henderson, Texas has a chance.  We’ll select the Blue Devils to win, but it should be an interesting game.

 

Prediction: Duke 75 Texas 69

 

South Region

 

North Carolina (17) vs. LSU (14) [North Carolina has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: You usually never see two power conference championship teams facing off in the second round of the tournament, but the SEC is down this year.  So the regular season SEC champion faces the regular season ACC champion.  Add to that the fact that both of these teams have PiRate criteria in the double digit range.  This is almost a home game for the Tar Heels, and they are the dominant team in this region.  Carolina advances to the Sweet 16, and the SEC is done for the season.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 84 LSU 70

 

Western Kentucky (2) vs. Gonzaga (19) [Gonzaga has a schedule  2 points per game stronger]: Gonzaga turned it on in the final minutes of the night on Thursday and put Akron away with a quick spurt.  Western took control quickly in their game against Illinois and then held off the Illini at the end.  While the Hilltoppers advanced to the Sweet 16 last year, while Gonzaga went home early, we feel the Bulldogs are poised to make the trip to the next round this year.

 

Predicition: Gonzaga 77 Western Kentucky 70

 

Michigan (-4) vs. Oklahoma (9) [Michigan has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: We can sum this game up in three words: Blake Griffin’s Health.  If Griffin is close to 100%, this game will be over Sooner than expected.  Michigan knocked Clemson out in the first round because the Tigers couldn’t shoot straight.  Oklahoma won’t miss all those open shots and second-chance shots.  Michigan will have to hit close to 50% of their shots to stay in this one and connect on 8 or more treys.  If Griffin isn’t at full strength, then this game becomes much closer and moves toward being a tossup.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 72 Michigan 63

 

West Region

 

Connecticut (12) vs. Texas A&M (2) [Connecticut has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: We certainly hope UConn head coach Jim Calhoun is feeling much better, but we must begin to wonder if this could be his final year with the Huskies.  Maybe his players are beginning to think the same, and they want to make sure he goes out a champion.  It may or may not be the case, and they may or may not have the horses to go the distance, but the Huskies have enough in the tank to eliminate the Aggies.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 79 Texas A&M 73

 

Purdue (6) vs. Washington (9) [Washington has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]:  Purdue struggled with Northern Iowa, while Washington quickly dismissed Mississippi State.  We believe the Huskies will advance to the Sweet 16 to take on Connecticut in a game that will bring back memories for the fans and coaches of both schools.

 

Prediction: Washington 70 Purdue 60

 

Maryland (1) vs. Memphis (19) [Maryland has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: Was Memphis playing a weak schedule all year when they ran up such a far record?  Are they the most overrated team since all those consecutive Depaul teams that lost in the first round when they were ranked number one or two in the nation?  We think not.  They ran into a tough team in the first round.  Maryland played a fantastic first game against Cal, and they could easily play another great one against Coach Cal.  In what we believe will be one of the most exciting games of the entire tournament, we’ll stick with the team we are picking to still be playing on April 6.

 

Prediction Memphis 72 Maryland 71

March 17, 2009

PiRate Bracketnomics: 12 Teams Can Win It All

PiRate Bracketnomics: 12 Teams Can Win It All

 

We hope you took time to read Tuesday’s Bracketnomics 505 course.  You need to read that first to understand the criteria used here at PiRate Central.

 

Using said criteria devised by our founder, we have isolated 12 teams capable of winning six games in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Unlike last year when there were four dominant teams, the dominance is diluted somewhat this season.  Last year, more than 10 teams could be immediately eliminated based on a negative R+T rating.  This season, only two teams (Mississippi State and Ohio State) fail to possess a positive R+T rating.  Thus, we will pick the Bulldogs’ and Buckeyes’ opponents to beat them.

 

Here is a look alphabetically at those 12 teams who best meet the criteria showing they are capable of going all the way.

 

Connecticut: The Huskies outscore their opposition by an average of 13.3 points per game.  They shoot 9.3% better than their opponents.  They own a rebounding margin of 8.4.  Their R+T is 7.6.  In most years, this would be good enough for a Sweet 16 berth and possible Elite 8 run.  This year, it is good enough to get them to the title game.  The Huskies will win their first game by as many as they want.  They will win game two rather easily.  In the Sweet 16, they could run into a bump if they face Washington, but they will clobber Purdue if the Boilermakers make it to Glendale, Arizona.  An Elite 8 match against either Missouri or Memphis will be a tough and exciting game.

 

Duke: The Blue Devils outscore their opposition by an average of 12.2 points per game.  They shoot only 1.8% better than the opposition, and that is their one weakness.  They out-rebound their opponents by 3 and have a 4.4 turnover margin, so they usually benefit with more scoring attempts.  Their R+T of 12 is good enough to get them through the first two rounds.  In the Sweet 16, they will face either UCLA, Villanova, or Virginia Commonwealth.  The Blue Devils would be expected to beat any of these three, but it wouldn’t be a cinch.  The Bruins also make this list.

 

Kansas: The defending National Champions are considerably weaker this year, but in a season where the NCAA is weaker, the Jayhawks have a shot at getting to Detroit.  Kansas outscores its opponents by 11.3 points per game.  They outshoot them by 9.1%, which is one of the best in the Dance.  They have a 7.3 rebounding advantage.  Their weakness is in turnover margin.  They don’t commit a bevy of turnovers, but they don’t force many this year.  That could hurt them if they face a team that can steal the ball.  Syracuse and Missouri exploited them in regular season victories.  A trip to the Sweet 16 is expected, but I think they could be in for a big shock in their first round game with North Dakota State.  It may take 36 minutes for KU to put this game away.  If they face Michigan State in a regional semi-final, the Jayhawks should win a tough, physical game.  Louisville might be too much to handle in an Elite 8 regional final.

 

Louisville: Rick Pitino has taken Providence and Kentucky to the Final Four.  Last year, he came close with UL.  This year, it looks like the Cardinals have the horses to make it to Detroit.  UL outscores their opposition by 12.3 points per game.  They shoot 5.8% better than their opponents.  They have a 2.5 rebounding advantage, a 2.7 turnover margin, and they average 9.3 steals per game.  Their R+T is 8.5.  Except for scoring margin, none of the other stats are dominant, but then again all of them are really good.  They have no weaknesses.

 

Memphis: Memphis wouldn’t normally qualify because they are not a member of one of the big six conferences.  However, the Tigers’ schedule was as strong as teams like Wake Forest and UCLA.  Just like last year, Memphis has what it takes to play six games in the tournament.  The Tigers outscore their opponents by 17.2 points per game, which qualifies them for elite dominance.  They shoot 8.1% better than their opposition.  Their rebounding margin is 6.2, and their turnover margin is 3.3.  They average 8.8 steals per game, and their R+T rating is a whopping 13.2.  This is a team that should cruise to the Elite 8, and then we would favor them over Connecticut.  Missouri could be a tough out in the Sweet 16, but the Tigers fit the criteria of a national champion.

 

Missouri: Coach Mike Anderson was an assistant at Arkansas when the Razorbacks made won the national title in 1994 and made it to the finals in 1995.  His Missouri Tigers play the same 40-minute, full-court game that Arkansas played in those days.  These type of teams can make up for so-so rebounding with exceptional turnover margin by way of steals.  The Tigers are a force to be reckoned with this year.  Missouri outscores their opponents by 14.6 points per game.  They outshoot them by 5.7%.  While they barely win the battle of the boards by an average of 0.4 per game, their turnover margin is 6.5, and they average a tournament best 10.6 steals per game.  With an R+T rating of 16.9, Missouri gets many chances to go on scoring runs.  In tight tournament games, as little as an 8-0 run in two minutes is enough to decide the game.  We like MU’s chances of winning their first two and getting to the Sweet 16.  They will have to face Memphis, and they will meet a team that can neutralize the press.  Although we believe Memphis will win and move on to the Final Four, Missouri just may be the toughest competition Memphis faces before Detroit.

 

North Carolina: We see the Tar Heels joining Memphis in Detroit.  UNC has the second best looking criteria after Memphis.  The Tar Heels outscore their opponents by an average of 17.4 points per game.  They shoot 6.5% better than they allow.  Their rebound margin is 7.3, and their turnover margin is 3.2.  The Heels average 8.5 steals per game, and their R+T is 13.8.  Their path to the Final Four is the easiest of any of the 12 teams listed here.  Radford will be little more than a scrimmage against the Tar Heel scrubs.  Neither LSU nor Butler has what it takes to beat them in round two.  Gonzaga could compete for a long time, but the Tar Heels would eventually overpower them.  In the region finals, UNC would handle Oklahoma, Clemson, Syracuse, or Arizona State.  The only thing that could keep the Tar Heels out of the Final Four is the injury to Ty Lawson.  If he can play up to his normal standards, we just cannot see another South Regional team beating them.

 

Pittsburgh: The Panthers defeated Connecticut twice but lost to Louisville.  They should be able to beat almost any team that tries to play physically against them, but they could run into trouble against fast teams that can score in transition.  Pitt outscores their opponents by 13.3 points per game.  They shoot 7.3% better than they allow.  Their rebounding margin of 9.8 is awesome, and their turnover margin of 1.1 further allows them extra scoring chances.  They average 7.1 steals per game, and their R+T rating is 11.7.  This is a team very capable of making it to Detroit.  They will handle East Tennessee with ease in round one and give their regulars ample rest.  Their round two game is going to be interesting, as both Tennessee and Oklahoma State have the necessary tools to aggravate the Panthers (much like the way Louisville did).  We still believe Pitt can get by either team and make the Sweet 16.  Their four possible Sweet 16 opponents do not have the skills to beat them, so if Pittsburgh gets to the Sweet 16, they will advance to the Elite 8 as well.  A regional final game against Duke would be a terrific game with both teams having a 50% chance of winning.  Ditto is they face Villanova, but the Panthers have revenge on their side in a match against the Wildcats. 

 

U C L A: This edition of Bruins is nothing like the last three editions in the Big Dance.  This UCLA team looks more like one of the Bruin teams from the Gary Cunningham/Larry Farmer/Walt Hazard years.  UCLA outscores their opponents by 12.7 points per game.  They shoot 4.9% better than they allow.  Their rebounding margin is 3.8, and their turnover margin is 3.6.  They steal the ball 8.4 times per game, and their R+T is 11.1.  Much like Louisville, the Bruins don’t really dominate in any phase, but they are really good in all phases.  As a 6-seed, they are not expected to make it past the field of 32, but it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if Ben Howland guides them back to the Elite 8.  Their first round game against VCU should be nip and tuck for a long time.  VCU won’t be able to rebound against them, and the Bruins should get enough offensive boards to win.  In the second round, we believe UCLA can upset Villanova.  They won’t get by Duke if they must play them for a trip to the Final Four, but an Elite 8 appearance would be a great accomplishment in a rebuilding season.

 

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are the third ACC team with a good shot of advancing deep into the tournament.  Wake outscores their opponents by an average of 11.1 points per game.  They shoot the ball 9.3% better than they allow.  Their rebounding margin is 6.  Their 0.2 turnover margin is basically nil, but they do average 8.5 steals per game.  Their R+T rating is just 6.4 due to the fact that they tend to become turnover prone occasionally.  The Demon Deacons received a favorable draw for the opening weekend.  We see them moving on to the Sweet 16, but they will face a Louisville team that just may be too much in the third round.  It should be a great game.

 

West Virginia: This team looks much like many of Bob Huggins’ Cincinnati teams.  The Mountaineers are the polar opposite of the team that made a run under former coach John Beilein.  They are a dark horse team to make a deep run.  WVU outscores their opponents by 10.8 points per game.  They only outshoot those opponents by 1.1%, and that will eventually be their downfall.  They own healthy rebounding (5.9) and turnover (3.6) margins.  They average just 6.8 steals per game, but their R+T rating is 11.8.  This team will fly under the radar, but the Mountaineers could upset Kansas in the second round.  If they can upset the Jayhawks, West Virginia has the horses to make it to Detroit.  They lost twice to Louisville, by six and three points, so they can even upset the Cardinals given a third chance.  We give WVU a 45% chance of beating Kansas and a 33% chance of advancing to the Elite 8.

 

Predictions For Bracketeers

 

This is a pressure-filled year for us.  How can we match the success of our founder?  Hopefully, we can do so by carefully following his theories and data.  Plus, we talked to him, and he endorsed our picks.

 

So, here goes.  In the East, three Pittsburgh, Duke, and UCLA all score 14 points in the criteria.  Duke and Pitt have stronger schedules, so we will call for the Blue Devils and Panthers to meet in the Elite 8.  We give a slight edge to Coach K’s troops, but that is almost negligible.  We do not see the East Regional winner winning the national championship.

 

In the South, North Carolina is overpowering.  The Tar Heels have no rival in this bracket.  Second seed Oklahoma and third seed Syracuse do not qualify for a spot in the top 12.  Fourth seed Gonzaga does qualify, and we will pick the Bulldogs to be the only team capable of stopping the Tar Heels.  We give Gonzaga a 15-20% chance of winning in this probable regional semifinal game.  North Carolina should then dispose of the East Regional Champion and advance to the title game.

 

In the Midwest, top-seed Louisville will have to dispose of defending champ Kansas to make the Final Four.  Fourth-seed Wake Forest cannot be ignored here.  Six-seed West Virginia can compete with anybody in this region, making the Midwest the strongest region overall.  We’re going to go with Huggy Bear and his West Virginia Mountaineers to sneak into the Final Four.

 

Memphis should emerge in the West, besting Missouri and then Connecticut in Glendale, Arizona.  The Tigers will then take care of business in the Final Four semifinal round to take on North Carolina.

 

In the National Championship Game, we look for Coach Cal to finally get his championship trophy.  We are picking Memphis to make up for their final minute lapse in the 2008 Championship Game and win the title this year.  It could be the start of a major dynasty, as the Tigers have an awesome group of recruits coming in for 2010.   

 

The Stats On All The Teams

 

When you see a stat in bold, it meets the minimum amount to qualify for an exceptional stat.  When you see it also underlined, it strongly meets the qualifying amount.  When it is also in italics, it is a dominating statistic.  Strength of Schedule (SOS) is used solely when pitting one team against another.

 

Team

Pts

FG%

Reb

TO

Stl

R+T

SOS

Akron

7.0

1.9

-0.9

4.1

7.7

6.7

48.91

Alabama St.

6.1

7.5

1.2

-0.8

5.6

0.1

40.46

American

6.1

7.2

2.9

0.4

5.4

3.4

46.85

Arizona

3.8

3.9

2.5

-0.7

6.0

1.5

56.79

Arizona St.

9.4

7.3

1.7

0.6

5.9

2.5

56.35

Binghamton

3.4

2.9

-1.6

1.5

7.0

0.9

46.95

Boston College

4.4

2.3

2.9

-0.8

6.2

1.7

55.16

B Y U

12.7

8.5

4.2

2.5

7.2

8.5

54.62

Butler

10.2

5.7

3.3

0.9

6.1

4.6

53.15

Cal St. Northridge

3.8

3.7

3.6

-0.4

9.0

2.7

48.83

California

6.7

4.5

2.3

0.5

4.9

2.9

56.00

Chattanooga

0.8

0.6

3.3

-1.1

6.3

1.6

49.33

Clemson

10.8

3.5

1.6

2.9

9.4

8.1

56.07

Cleveland St.

7.2

2.6

0.6

3.5

8.7

7.9

52.27

Connecticut

13.3

9.3

8.4

-0.6

5.8

7.6

57.42

Cornell

9.8

6.4

3.1

0.8

6.7

4.4

45.31

Dayton

6.0

3.2

5.3

1.0

6.3

6.8

53.19

Duke

12.2

1.8

3.0

4.4

8.5

12.0

60.86

E T S U

8.6

6.2

1.5

2.5

8.5

6.6

46.28

Florida St.

4.1

4.6

0.7

0.3

8.5

1.3

58.22

Gonzaga

17.6

12.0

3.6

3.9

7.5

10.6

53.21

Illinois

8.0

6.6

0.1

1.3

5.8

1.9

57.56

Kansas

11.3

9.1

7.3

-0.8

6.9

6.0

58.01

Louisville

12.3

5.8

2.5

2.7

9.3

8.5

58.80

L S U

9.4

4.2

5.6

4.2

7.6

13.3

53.66

Marquette

8.5

0.5

1.7

3.6

7.9

8.5

55.87

Maryland

3.0

0.5

-1.6

3.2

7.7

4.3

58.11

Memphis

17.2

8.1

6.2

3.3

8.8

13.2

55.82

Michigan

4.1

-1.1

-3.1

2.4

6.5

0.6

58.74

Michigan St.

9.0

4.1

9.9

-0.2

6.4

9.6

59.48

Minnesota

5.4

4.4

2.4

0.6

8.4

3.6

56.65

Mississippi St.

6.0

4.3

-0.7

-0.8

7.0

-2.0

55.62

Missouri

14.6

5.7

0.4

6.5

10.6

16.9

56.31

Morehead St.

3.1

2.3

8.0

-2.5

6.7

4.0

48.59

Morgan St.

5.3

2.2

3.9

2.0

6.6

7.1

44.96

North Carolina

17.4

6.5

7.3

3.2

8.5

13.8

58.00

North Dakota St.

12.2

4.0

4.5

2.2

7.1

8.2

45.05

Northern Iowa

4.2

3.6

3.1

-0.9

4.2

2.2

53.53

Ohio St.

5.1

7.5

-1.0

0.1

5.9

-0.9

57.80

Oklahoma

11.4

9.1

5.6

-1.1

6.9

3.8

57.78

Oklahoma St.

6.9

1.4

-1.1

2.8

7.7

4.1

59.57

Pittsburgh

13.3

7.3

9.8

1.1

7.1

11.7

59.27

Portland St.

5.5

0.3

0.9

0.7

7.5

2.2

45.45

Purdue

10.3

5.8

-0.3

3.5

7.2

5.7

57.48

Radford

5.1

7.2

6.9

-2.8

6.8

2.3

47.63

Robert Morris

5.7

5.1

1.7

0.7

8.6

3.1

46.18

Siena

7.6

3.7

-0.5

3.8

8.8

7.5

54.68

USC

4.9

6.8

5.5

-1.1

6.3

3.8

58.04

Stephen F Austin

10.3

7.2

1.4

2.8

6.1

5.5

46.99

Syracuse

8.8

7.5

2.2

-0.6

8.0

1.0

59.39

Temple

5.6

4.2

3.1

-0.8

5.6

2.0

56.16

Tennessee

6.1

1.5

4.6

1.8

6.7

7.5

60.50

Texas

6.8

3.6

4.7

1.3

6.2

6.6

56.58

Texas A&M

5.4

1.5

5.3

-0.3

5.0

4.9

55.77

U C L A

12.7

4.9

3.8

3.6

8.4

11.1

55.06

Utah

7.2

7.5

4.9

-3.2

5.0

1.1

57.90

Utah St.

10.8

7.8

7.0

-0.7

4.9

6.2

51.00

Villanova

9.5

5.3

4.1

2.1

8.0

8.1

57.30

Virginia Common.

8.6

6.6

-0.6

1.9

7.6

2.9

51.94

Wake Forest

11.1

9.3

6.0

0.2

8.5

6.4

55.29

Washington

9.3

3.8

8.4

0.1

7.6

8.6

58.08

West Virginia

10.8

1.1

5.9

3.6

6.8

11.8

58.84

Western Kentucky

5.4

1.5

4.8

0.1

5.7

4.9

51.41

Wisconsin

5.4

0.1

3.0

1.4

5.0

4.7

58.28

Xavier

10.0

7.4

8.4

-2.2

5.4

5.5

55.89

 

Round One Games

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

 

East Region

 

#1 Pittsburgh (14) vs. #16 East Tennessee (6) [Pitt has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]:  This game will be over quickly.  Pitt will dominate inside and put this one away in the first 10 minutes.  It could be a 20-point margin before halftime. 

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 78 East Tennessee 56

 

#8 Oklahoma State (0) vs. #9 Tennessee (6) [Tennessee has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]:  These teams are similar, but Tennessee has just a little more talent than the Cowboys.  The Volunteers should win the battle of the boards by five or more, and the two or three extra offensive put-backs should decide this game.

 

Prediction: Tennessee 82 Oklahoma State 77

 

#5 Florida State (0) vs. #12 Wisconsin (2) [Schedule strengths are equal]: 12-Seeds are the ones that tend to draw the most attention at first round upsets.  Part of the reason is because 12-seeds are usually the last bubble teams to make the tournament.  Frequently, they are quite a bit better than their seeding.  This doesn’t apply in this game.  Wisconsin is lucky to be an invitee.  The reason the Badgers have a 50-50 chance of winning this one is the fact that Florida State isn’t a dominating ACC team.  They rely on one big scorer, and they win games by one to six points.  The winner of this game will be going home after the next one, and we’ll go with the Badgers to win a close one.

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 68 Florida State 66

 

#4 Xavier (8) vs. #13 Portland State (1) [Xavier has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: Xavier would have qualified among the big dozen if they had a positive turnover margin.  The Musketeers don’t have the tools to advance to the Elite 8 and will only crack the Sweet 16 due to a weak second round opponent.  This Portland State team is nowhere near as talented as last year’s team.  That team had a chance to compete, while this years Vikings will know they are done by halftime of this game.

 

Prediction: Xavier 79 Portland State 62

 

#6 U C L A (14) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth (3) [UCLA has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: VCU is one of those pesky teams that can throw an opponent off its game.  Coach Anthony Grant may be on his way to a big time job after this game.  UCLA will be able to sneak up on opponents in this tournament.  The Bruins didn’t win the Pac-10 title this year, but they have the talent to still be playing in April.  After a beginning that could be ugly, look for the boys from Westwood to get their balance and cruise to a double digit win.

 

Prediction: UCLA 75 VCU 65

 

#3 Villanova (9) vs. #14 American (2) [Villanova has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: Villanova just barely missed out on being included in the top 12.  The Wildcats are not far behind Louisville, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh in the Big East.  VU has no weaknesses, but they are not as strong across the board as Louisville.  American won both the Patriot League regular season and tournament titles.  This is their second consecutive trip to the tournament, and they enter riding a 13-game winning streak.  They are better than average in every important aspect, but the Eagles’ strength of schedule is not strong enough for that to matter.  They played three good teams this year and lost to all by an average of 23 points.

 

Prediction: Villanova 74 American 55

 

#7 Texas (3) vs. #10 Minnesota (1) [Schedule strengths are equal]: Neither of these teams is going to advance past the opening weekend.  Texas is above average but not great in every aspect.  There are a dozen NIT teams that could beat the Longhorns.  Minnesota isn’t much better.  The Gophers pick up more steals, but they don’t capitalize on them with quick scoring bursts.  We’ll take Texas in a close game, but the Longhorns will not advance farther than one round.

 

Prediction: Texas 72 Minnesota 66

 

#2 Duke (14) vs. #15 Binghamton (-1) [Duke has a schedule 14 points per game stronger]: This won’t be like Duke’s first round game in 2008, when they had to sweat out a last second shot attempt by tiny Belmont.  Binghamton has little inside game, and that’s what it will take to beat Duke.  The Blue Devils will wear down the Bearcats and pull away to a lopsided victory.  They could lead by 35 to 40 points before emptying the bench.

 

Prediction: Duke 91 Binghamton 63

 

South Region

 

#1 North Carolina (17) vs. #16 Radford (3) [North Carolina has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: Radford can score a lot of points.  They don’t have much depth, and we can see them keeping this game close maybe until midway through the first half.  After that, we look for the Tar Heels to go on a big run and put the game away before halftime.  Don’t be alarmed if UNC doesn’t win by 30 or more points.  Remember, they barely beat James Madison in the opening round one year when they advanced to the title game.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 94 Radford 77

 

#8 L S U (14) vs. #9 Butler (7) [LSU has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: As 8-9 games are supposed to go, this game should be close with numerous lead changes.  Earlier in the year, Butler won at Xavier, while LSU lost at home to Xavier.  The Tigers know they are facing a team that could easily beat them.  They just barely missed qualifying for a spot on the 12 best teams.  Butler was better last year, but the Bulldogs are no pushover.  LSU will be extended to the end, and the Tigers will be fortunate to escape with a victory.

 

Prediction: LSU 73 Butler 69

 

#5 Illinois (4) vs. #12 Western Kentucky (2) [Illinois has a schedule 6 points per game stronger]: This Western Kentucky team is about 10 points weaker than last season’s Sweet 16 team.  However, the Hilltoppers couldn’t have asked for a better #5 seed to face in the first game.  This one has the look of another 12-seed upset, but we will select the Illini to hold off a tough rally.

 

Prediction: Illinois 61 Western Kentucky 58

 

#4 Gonzaga (19) vs. #13 Akron (3) [Gonzaga has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: If Gonzaga were in the Pac-10 and had the identical stats they have this year, we would place them in the Final Four.  This is probably a better team than the Adam Morrison team a few years back.  The ‘Zags finished the season marching through the opposition like Sherman marched through Georgia.  In their final seven games, Gonzaga won all seven by an average score of 84-56!  Akron isn’t a bad team.  The MAC conference tournament champs might be favored in a first round game in other years, but they are going up against the North Carolina of the mid-majors.  Better luck next time Zips.

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 80 Akron 67

 

#6 Arizona State (4) vs. #11 Temple (0) [Schedule strengths are equal]: Arizona State lost four of its final seven games, while Temple won 10 of its last 12 including the Atlantic 10 Tournament title.  Even though the Sun Devils own a better criteria score, we believe Temple should be a slight favorite in this game.  Temple should control the boards in this game, and we expect a game with many missed shots.  Offensive rebounding should decide this one.

 

Prediction: Temple 64 Arizona State 58

 

#3 Syracuse (4) vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin (8) [Syracuse has a schedule 12 points per game stronger]: Be warned! This game could be a nail-biter.  Syracuse will not be fully recovered from the Big East Tournament.  They may never fully recover the rest of this season.  SFA is not a pushover, as judged by their criteria score.  Their strength of schedule does not merit making them an upset favorite.  They could keep this one close.  However, being their first tourney appearance, the players will be tight at the beginning of the game.  Syracuse may not bring their A-game, but it will be enough to win.  Don’t expect the Orangemen to score 80 points in this game, but then again, don’t expect the Lumberjacks to get many second-chance scoring opportunities. 

 

Prediction: Syracuse 69 Stephen F. Austin 59

 

#7 Clemson (9) vs. #10 Michigan (-4) [Michigan has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: John Beilein’s West Virginia team is the only Elite 8 team to fall through the PiRate cracks in recent years.  This Michigan team plays much like that one, but the Wolverines are not yet as good.  Michigan tries to limit possessions and win by hitting a lot more three-pointers than they give up.  It is a good gimmick when you don’t have superior talent.  We just don’t see it working in the Big Dance.  Their criteria score is -4, which is the worst of the 63 teams that have a positive R+T rating.  Clemson was a better team in 2008, and that Tiger team fell to Villanova in the first round.  We expect the Tigers to get over the hump and win their opening round game this year.

 

Prediction: Clemson 77 Michigan 66

 

#2 Oklahoma (9) vs. #15 Morgan State (4) [Oklahoma has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]: Oklahoma would have qualified for a spot in the top 12 if they had a positive turnover margin.  When they face a team that forced turnovers, the Sooners are going to have a rough time.  Missouri and Oklahoma State beat the Sooners in the last two weeks, and both of those teams are ball-hawking squads.  Morgan State is not capable of forcing Oklahoma into a bevy of turnovers, so OU is safe in the opening round.  Sooner fans should root like crazy for Michigan to beat Clemson, because the Tigers are a lot like Missouri and Oklahoma State.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 79 Morgan State 65

 

Midwest Region

 

#1 Louisville (10) vs. #16 Morehead State (1) [Louisville has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: These two teams met in December with UL winning by 38 points.  The Eagles are much better than they were three months ago, but not 38 points better.  Louisville will get a light workout in this game, and that will keep them fresh for round two.

 

Prediction: Louisville 76 Morehead State 49

 

#8 Ohio State (DNQ) vs. #9 Siena (5) [Ohio State has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: Here is what looks like a mild upset in the making.  Ohio State is one of two teams that fail to qualify due to a negative R+T rating.  What that means is the Buckeyes give up more scoring opportunities than they get.  Think of a major league baseball team that wins 90 games in the regular season to qualify for the playoffs but gives up one more hit per game than themselves while hitting an average amount of home runs.  That team won’t go far in the playoffs.  Siena won an opening round game in last year’s tournament, and this Saints’ team is better this year than last year.  Siena stands a 55-60% chance of winning this game.

 

Prediction: Siena 74 Ohio State 70

 

#5 Utah (3) vs. #12 Arizona (-2) [Utah has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: The winner of this game won’t be advancing much further.  Arizona really shouldn’t be here.  Almost every major conference team and more than half of the mid-major teams in the NIT could beat Arizona.  Utah won 11 of their final 13 games, and the Utes should make it 12 of 14.  However, don’t expect any deep runs like in the Rick Majerus or Jack Gardner days.

 

Prediction: Utah 68 Arizona 63

 

#4 Wake Forest (12) vs. #13 Cleveland State (7) [Wake Forest has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: Cleveland State deserves their seeding.  The Vikings defeated Butler and won at Syracuse during the season and played competitive games at Washington and at West Virginia.  Wake Forest qualifies as one of the super 12 teams, and they will have a tougher time with CSU in the opening round than they will have with either Utah or Arizona in round two.

 

Prediction: Wake Forest 69 Cleveland State 62

 

#6 West Virginia (16) vs. #11 Dayton (5) [West Virginia has a schedule 6 points per game stronger]: West Virginia is the top dark horse in our criteria.  We believe they can advance to Detroit.  Dayton is a solid team and can hold their own on the glass against the Mountaineers.  We believe the game will be decided by turnovers.  WVU will force three to five more and capitalize on that differential with five to eight points.  We will add a little more to the difference by believing Dayton will put West Virginia at the line several times in the closing minutes and fail to score quickly at their end.

 

Prediction: West Virginia 74 Dayton 65

 

#3 Kansas (10) vs. #14 North Dakota State (10) [Kansas has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]: North Dakota State is making an appearance in the Big Dance in their first year they are qualified.  Their criteria score is a little misleading, as they have a rather weak strength of schedule.  The Bison may give the Jayhawks a battle through a couple of TV timeouts, but KU will go to the locker at the half up by at least eight and pull away in the second half.

 

Prediction: Kansas 81 North Dakota State 59

 

#7 Boston College (-2) vs. #10 Southern California (2) [Southern Cal has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: This should be an interesting and entertaining game.  The winner should be out of the tournament one round later.  Trying to pick a winner in this game is a pure crap shoot.  Boston College beat North Carolina and lost to Harvard.  USC started 10-3, then lost 9 of 15, and then won five in a row, including three consecutive Pac-10 Tournament victories over NCAA Tournament teams.

 

Prediction: Southern Cal 73 Boston College 70

 

#2 Michigan State (7) vs. #15 Robert Morris (2) [Michigan State has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]: The Spartans should make it to the Sweet 16, but we just don’t see any Big 10 team winning an Elite 8 game this year.  Robert Morris must rely on one star in Jeremy Chappell.  The Colonials don’t rebound well, and MSU will play volleyball on the offensive glass. 

 

Prediction: Michigan State 76 Robert Morris 54

 

West Regional

 

#1 Connecticut (12) vs. #16 Chattanooga (-1) [Connecticut has a schedule 8 points per game stronger]: We pity the poor Mocs.  They are going to be the victims of one of the two most lopsided opening round game.  UConn will dominate this game from start to finish.  Chattanooga will be lucky to lead this one 2-0 at the start, because it could easily be a game where the Huskies hold the Mocs scoreless to the first TV timeout and lead by double digits by the time Chattanooga scores.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 98 Chattanooga 63

 

#8 B Y U (13) vs. #9 Texas A&M (2) [Texas A&M has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: This looks like another excellent tossup game, but our criteria show it to be a one-sided affair.  BYU would belong in the top 12 if they had played a stronger schedule.  The Cougars do everything well; they outscore their opposition by 12.7 points per game.  They shoot 8.5% better than their opponents.  They control the boards by more than 4 per game and force 2.5 more turnovers per game than they commit.  The Cougars just haven’t beaten a big time team.  Texas A&M owns victories over four major teams in the Dance.  That makes it the tossup game it is supposed to be.

 

Prediction: BYU 74 Texas A&M 69

 

#5 Purdue (6) vs. #12 Northern Iowa (-1) [Purdue has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: The Boilermakers split their final 10 regular season games before finding their stride in the Big 10 Tournament.  Northern Iowa is in the Dance because they can edge Illinois State every time they face off.  Illinois State won’t be on the schedule until next season, so NIU can begin looking forward to next season after this game.  Don’t expect Purdue to still be around next week.  This is going to prove to be another weak year for the Big 10.

 

Prediction: Purdue 71 Northern Iowa 60

 

#4 Washington (9) vs. #13 Mississippi State (DNQ) [Washington has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: The Pac-10 regular season champions take on the surprise winner of the SEC Tournament.  MSU is one of two teams that do not qualify due to a negative R+T number.  It’s hard to imagine that with Jarvis Varnado in the lineup, the Bulldogs still have a slight negative rebounding margin.  They also have a negative turnover margin and didn’t play that tough of a schedule.  Washington won’t have to travel far from Seattle to Portland, and the Huskies should win this one by more points than most people expect.

 

Prediction: Washington 81 Mississippi State 66

 

#6 Marquette (9) vs. #11 Utah State (10) [Marquette has a schedule 5 points per game stronger]: Marquette would definitely be included in the top 12 if Dominic James were not out for the season.  Prior to his foot fracture, MU was a Top 10 team capable of making a run to the Final Four.  Without him, they really should be a double digit seed.  Utah State is one of the handful of mid-majors capable of making a run to the Sweet 16.  The Aggies will have trouble against an aggressive, pressing team, but Marquette isn’t one of those teams.  This game is actually a tossup.  With no partiality to an in-state team, we’re going with Marquette to survive a toughie.

 

Prediction: Marquette 70 Utah State 65

 

#3 Missouri (14) vs. #14 Cornell (5) [Missouri has a schedule 11 points per game stronger]: Missouri has the talent to make a deep run in this tournament.  Any team that has trouble facing pressure defense is going to find itself in a heap of trouble.  The Tigers are the best pressing team in the Big Dance and the only team averaging double figure steals per game.  If Mizzou gets 12 steals in a game, they are going to score 20 or more points off those steals.  That is a mighty stat for an opponent to overcome.  Cornell is not as good this year as they were last year when they won the Ivy League with ease.  This team has no signature wins, and they lost by double digits to all three NCAA Tournament teams on their schedule.

 

Prediction: Missouri 82 Cornell 58

 

#7 California (1) vs. #10 Maryland (1) [Maryland has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]:  On paper, this game looks like an exciting game.  We consider it the most mediocre game of the opening round.  One of these teams will advance to the Round of 32 and become fodder for Memphis.  Cal will win the battle on the boards, but Maryland will not beat themselves with unforced errors.  The Terps beat North Carolina and Wake Forest in the last month, while Cal has been a sub-.500 team since mid-January.

 

Prediction: Maryland 71 California 67

 

#2 Memphis (19) vs. #15 Cal State Northridge (-1) [Memphis has a schedule 7 points per game stronger]: Not only is Memphis coming into the tournament playing its best ball of the season, the Tigers enter the Dance with a chip on their shoulders.  They deserved a number one seed, and now they will take it out on their next opponent or maybe next six.  The Matadors lost to Cal State Bakersfield as well as some other teams with an RPI well down the list.  Memphis has won 25 games in a row, and the Tigers are the real number one team in our book.  At the point when Coach Cal removes his top eight players from the game, the Tigers may have yielded less than a point per minute in this game.

 

Prediction: Memphis 83 Cal State Northridge 47

 

Coming Friday, a look at Saturday’s games.  Sunday’s game previews will run Saturday.

Bracketnomics 505–The Advanced Level Class In Bracket Filling

Bracketnomics 505-The Advanced Level Class In Bracket Filling

This is a graduate level class that will earn you a Masters in Bracketnomics.  So you want a scientific method to guide you as you fill out your brackets?  You say you want a system that will take out most of the human-bias, and allow you to pick your teams in a mechanical fashion.  Well, we’ve got one for you that has been back-tested and holds up fantastically through the years. 

What the inventor of the PiRate system did was to discover the vital information that has worked in the past.  He’s been using this formula since the Internet made statistics-gathering easy, and it has been back-tested as far back as the days when the NCAA Tournament field consisted of just 23, 24, or 25 teams.

This method will not pick every game correctly and make you an instant millionaire.  It is geared toward finding the tendencies that historically have mattered most in picking the teams with the best chances of advancing.  Not all teams will be a perfect fit in this formula; what this formula does is pick the teams that have the best chance of advancing and making a deep run into the tournament. 

How has the formula performed in recent years?  Last year, it picked Kansas to win the NCAA Championship.  In 2006, it tabbed George Mason as a team to watch to sneak into the Elite 8 (they went to the Final 4).   It correctly selected Florida and UCLA for the Final Four in both 2006 and 2007. 

There have been a couple of seasons where the criteria didn’t apply successfully, but over the course of the 50 seasons, it has performed accurately about 43 times.  Without further adieu, here is the PiRate Bracket-Picking System.

1. Scoring Margin

For general bracket picking, look for teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game.  Over 85% of the Final Four teams since the 1950’s outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game. 

Make a separate list of teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 10 or more points per game and a third list of teams outscoring opponents by an average of 15 or more points per game.  More than 80% of the final four teams in the last 50 years outscored their opponents by double digit points per game.  When you find a team with an average scoring margin in excess of 15 points per game, and that team is in one of the six power conferences, then you have a team that will advance deep into the tournament.

This is an obvious statistic here.  If team A outscores opponents by an average of 85-70 and their team B opponent outscores their opposition by an average of 75-70, team A figures to be better than team B before you look at any other statistics. 

In the days of the 64/65-team field, this statistic has become even more valuable.  It’s very difficult and close to impossible for a team accustomed to winning games by one to seven points to win four times in a row.  This average gives the same significance and weighting to a team that outscores its opposition 100-90 as it does to a team that outscores its opposition 60-50.

2. Field Goal Percentage Differential

Take each team’s field goal percentage minus their defensive field goal percentage.  Look for teams that have a +7.5% or better showing.  50% to 42% is no better or no worse than 45% to 37%.  A difference of 7.5% or better is all that matters.  Teams that have a large field goal percentage margin are consistently good teams.  Sure, a team can win a game with a negative field goal percentage difference, but in the Big Dance, they aren’t going to win four games much less two.  This statistic holds strong in back-tests of 50 years.  Even when teams won the tournament with less than 7.5% field goal percentage margins, for the most part, these teams just barely missed (usually in the 5.5 to 7.5% range).  In the years of the 64/65-team tournament, this stat has become a more accurate predictor.  Nowadays, the teams with field goal percentage margins in the double digits have dominated the field.  If you see a team shoot better than 48% and allow 38% or less, that team is going to be very hard to beat in large arenas with weird sight lines.

3. Rebound Margin

This statistic holds up all the way back to the early days of basketball, in fact as far back to the days when rebounds were first recorded.  The teams that consistently control the boards are the ones that advance deep into the tournament.  What we’re looking for here are teams that out-rebound their opposition by five or more per game.  In the opening two rounds, a difference of three or more can be used.

The reason this statistic becomes even more important in mid-March is that teams don’t always shoot as well in the NCAA Tournament for a variety of reasons (better defense, abnormal sight lines and unfamiliar gymnasiums, nerves, new rims and nets, more physical play with the refs allowing it, etc.).  The teams that can consistently get offensive putbacks are the teams that go on scoring runs in these games.  The teams that prevent the opposition from getting offensive rebounds, holding them to one shot per possession, have a huge advantage.  Again, there will be some teams that advance that were beaten on the boards, but over the course of four rounds, it is rare for one of these teams to advance.  West Virginia in 2005 made it to the Elite Eight without being able to rebound, but not many other teams have been able to do so.  There have been years where all four Final Four participants were in the top 20 in rebounding margin, and there have been many years where the champion was in the top 5 in rebounding margin.

4. Turnover Margin & Steals Per Game

Turnover margin can give a weaker rebounding team a chance.  Any positive turnover margin is good here.  If a team cannot meet the rebounding margin listed above, they can get by if they have an excellent turnover margin.  Not all turnover margin is the same though.  A team that forces a high number of turnovers by way of steals is better than a team that forces the same amount of turnovers without steals.  A steal is better than a defensive rebound, because most of the time, a steal leads to a fast-break basket or foul.  When a team steals the ball, they are already facing their basket, and the defense must turn around and chase.  Many steals occur on the perimeter where the ball-hawking team has a numbers advantage.  So, this system counts a steal as being worth 1.33 rebounds. 

The criteria to look for here is a positive turnover margin if the team out-rebounds its opposition by three or more; a turnover margin of three or better if the team out-rebounds its opposition by less than three; and a turnover margin of five or more if the team does not out-rebound its opponents.  Give more weight to teams that average 7.5 or more steals per game, and give much more weight to teams that average double figure steals per game.  A team that averages more than 10 steals per game will get a lot of fast-break baskets and foul shots.  In NCAA Tournament play, one quick spurt can be like a three-run homer in the World Series, and teams that either steal the ball or control the boards are the ones who will get that spurt.

The All-Important R+T Margin: Consider this the basketball equivalent of baseball’s OPS (On Base % + Slugging %).  Here is the PiRate R+T stat: R + (.2S * {1.2T}), where R is rebounding margin, S is average steals per game, and T is turnover margin.  When this stat is 5 or more, you have a team that can overcome a few other liabilities to win.  When the result is 10 or more, you have a team that has a great chance of getting enough additional scoring opportunities to make it to the later rounds.  When this stat is negative, you have a team that will be eliminated before the Sweet 16.

5. Power Conference Plus Schedule Strength

I’m sure up to this point you have been thinking that it is much easier for North Dakota State or Siena to own these gaudy statistics than it is for Pittsburgh or Michigan State.  Of course, that’s correct.  We have to adjust this procedure so that the top conferences get extra weight, while the bottom conferences get penalized.  Here is how we do it.  Look at the Strength of schedule for every team in the Field.  You can find SOS on many websites, such as the RPI at cbs.sportsline.com.  Take the decimal difference for each team in the Field and multiply that by 100.  For example if Team A’s SOS is .6044 and Team B’s is .5777, the difference times 100 is 2.67.  So, Team A’s schedule was 2.67 points (or round it to 3) per game tougher than Team B’s.  Use this in head-to-head contests for every game in your bracket.

These are the five basic PiRate criteria used for the last dozen or so years.  You might be shocked to see that there are some key statistics that are not included.  Let’s look at some of these stats not to rely upon.

Assists and Assists to Turnover Ratio

While assists can reveal an excellent passing team, they also can hide a problem.  Let’s say a team gets 28 field goals and has 21 assists.  That may very well indicate this team can pass better than most others.  However, it can also mean two other things.  First, this team may not have players who can create their own offense and must get by on exceptional passing.  That may not work against the best defensive teams in the nation, or the type that get into the Dance.  Second, and even more importantly, it may indicate that this team cannot get offensive putbacks.  As explained earlier, the offensive putback is about as important as any stat can be.  So, consider this stat only if you must decide on a toss-up after looking at the big five stats.

Free Throw Shooting 

Of course, free throw shooting in the clutch decides many ball games.  However, history shows a long line of teams making it deep into the tournament with poor free throw shooting percentages, and teams that overly rely on free throws may find it tough getting to the line with the liberalized officiating in the tournament.

Let’s say a team shoots a paltry 60% at the foul line while their opponent hits a great 75% of their foul shots.  Let’s say each team gets to the foul line 15 times in the game, with five of those chances being 1&1, three being one shot after made baskets, and seven being two shot fouls.  For the 60% shooting team, they can be expected to hit 3 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 1.8 of the 3 bonus shots; they can be expected to hit 1.8 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to hit 8.4 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 15 out of 25.  The 75% shooting team can be expected to connect on 3.75 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 2.8 of 3.75 on the bonus shot; they can be expected to hit 2.3 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to connect on 10.5 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 19.35 out of 25.75.  So, a team with one of the top FT% only scores nine more points at the foul line than a team with one of the worst.  That looks like a lot of points to make up, but consider that this is about the maximum possible difference.  Also consider that teams that shoot 60% of their foul shots and make the NCAA Tournament are almost always the teams that also have the top R+T ratings.  Teams that make the NCAA Tournament with gaudy free throw percentages frequently got there by winning close games at the line.  In the NCAA Tournament, fouls just don’t get called as frequently as in the regular season.  The referees let the teams play.  So, looking at superior free throw percentage can almost lead you down the wrong path. 

Ponder this:  The 1973 UCLA Bruins are considered to be the best college basketball team ever.  That team connected on just 63% of its free throws.  They had a rebounding margin of 15.2, and they forced many turnovers via steals thanks to their vaunted 2-2-1 zone press.  In the great UCLA dynasty from 1964 through 1973 when the Bruins won nine titles in 10 years, they never once connected on 70% of their free throws and averaged just 66% during that stretch.

3-point shooting

You have to look at this statistic two different ways and consider that it is already part of field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage.  Contrary to popular belief you do not count the difference in made three-pointers and multiply by three to see the difference.  If Team A hits eight treys, while their Team B opponents hit three, that is not a difference of 15 points; it’s a difference of five points.  Consider made three-pointers as one extra point because they are already figured as made field goals.  A team with 26 made field goals and eight treys has only one more point than a team with 26 made field goals and seven treys.

The only time to give three-point shots any weight in this criteria is when you are looking at a toss-up game, and when you do look at this stat, look for the team that does not rely on them to win, but instead uses a credible percentage that prevents defenses from sagging into the 10-12-foot area around the basket.  If a team cannot throw it in the ocean from behind the arc, defenses can sag inside and take away the inside game.  It doesn’t play much of a role in the NCAA Tournament.  A team that must hit 10 threes per game in order to win isn’t going to be around after the first weekend.

One Big Star or Two Really Good Players

Teams that got to the Dance by riding one big star or a majority of scoring from two players are not solid enough to advance very far.  Now, this does not apply to a team with one big star and four really good players.  I’m referring to a team with one big star and four lemons or two big scorers with three guys who are allergic to the ball.  Many times a team may have one big scorer or two guys who score 85% of the points, but the other three starters are capable of scoring 20 points if they are called on to do so.  If you have a team with five double figure scorers, that will be a harder one to defend and one that will be consistent.  It’s hard for all five players to slump at once.

We hope this primer will help you when you fill out your brackets this week. 

Now, here is a way to put numbers to the criteria.  It isn’t exactly the way our founder did it every year, but it is a close approximation.

1. Scoring Margin

Award 5 points for every team with a scoring margin difference of 10 or more

Award 3 points for every team with a scoring margin difference of 8.0-9.9

Award 1 point for every team with a scoring margin difference of 5.0-7.9

Award 0 points for every team with a scoring margin difference of 0-4.9

Award -3 points for every team with a negative scoring margin

2. Field Goal % Margin

Award 5 points for every team with a FG% margin difference of 10% or more

Award 3 points for every team with a FG% margin difference of 7.5 to 9.9

Award 1 point for every team with a FG% margin difference of 5.0-7.4

Award 0 points for every team with a FG% margin difference of 0.0-4.9

Award -3 points for every team with a FG% margin difference below 0

3. Rebound Margin

Award 3 points for every team with a Rebound margin difference of 5 or more

Award 1 point for every team with a Rebound margin difference of 3.0-4.9

Award 0 points for every team with a Rebound margin difference of 0-2.9

Award -2 points for every team with a Rebound margin difference below 0

4. Turnover Margin

Award 3 points for every team with a Turnover margin difference of 3 or more

Award 1 point for every team with a Turnover margin difference of 1.5-2.9

Award 0 points for every team with a Turnover margin difference of 0-1.4

Award -2 points for every team with a Turnover margin below 0

5. PiRate R+T Formula

Once again, the formula for R+T is [R + ({.2*S}*{1.2*T})], Where R is rebounding margin, S is avg. steals per game, and T is turnover margin

Award 5 points for every team with an R+T of 10 or more

Award 3 points for every team with an R+T of 7.5-9.9

Award 1 point for every team with an R+T of 5-7.4

Award 0 points for every team with an R+T of 0-4.9

Completely eliminate from consideration all teams with a negative R+T

6. Schedule Strength

Use this to compare when looking at team vs. team.  Take the difference in the Strength of Schedule as given by cbs.sportsline.com and multiple it by 100.  For example, Team A with an SOS of .5252 has a schedule 7 points weaker than Team B with an SOS of .5921.  If these two teams face each other, give the Team B an extra 7 criteria points over Team A ([(.5921-.5252)*100]=6.69 rounds to 7).

If you want to compile all this information yourself, the best way is to go to all 65 official athletic websites of the teams in the Big Dance.  You will find up-to-date statistical information.  Some of these stats are available in other places, but many have been found to be riddled with mistakes, or they are not up-to-date.  All 65 school sites are accurate and timely.

Coming tomorrow (Wednesday), we’ll reveal which teams belong in the later rounds by virtue of having the best criteria scores.

January 7, 2009

College Football Computer Simulation Playoffs–Championship Game

NCAA 2008 College Football Playoff Simulation

Championship Round

 

Welcome to season number two of the NCAA College Football Playoff Simulation.  For those reading this blog for the first time, the PiRate College Football Playoffs take the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC as automatic qualifiers.  Any of the remaining conference champions (including the top independent) that finish in the top 16 in the final regular season BCS Standings also qualify automatically.  At-large teams are then selected in the order of BCS finish until 12 total teams have been selected.  The 12 teams are seeded by BCS ranking.

 

Here is how the 12 teams were selected for the 2008 playoffs.

 

Top Six Conference Champions

ACC-Virginia Tech 9-4 seeded 12th

Big East Champion-Cincinnati 11-2 seeded 11th

Big Ten-Penn State 11-1 seeded 8th

Big 12-Oklahoma 12-1 seeded 1st

Pac-10-Southern Cal 11-1 seeded 5th

SEC-Florida 12-1 seeded 2nd

 

Automatic Qualifiers By Virtue Of Top 16 In BCS

MWC-Utah 12-0 seeded 6th

WAC-Boise State 12-0 seeded 9th

 

Top Four At-Large To Fill Out 12-Team Field

Texas 11-1 seeded 3rd

Alabama 12-1 seeded 4th

Texas Tech 11-1 seeded 7th

Ohio State 10-2 seeded 10th

 

The PiRate Playoff System uses the top 11 bowl games to play the four rounds.  The 5th through 12th seeds must play in the first round, while the top four seeds receive byes to the quarterfinals.

 

The First Round games were simulated Saturday, December 13.  Here were the results of those games.

 

Insight Bowl: #5 Southern Cal 20 #12 Virginia Tech 6

 

Cotton Bowl: #6 Utah 23 #11 Cincinnati 20 2ot

 

Chick-Fil-a Bowl:  #10 Ohio State 45 #7 Texas Tech 31

 

Outback Bowl: #9 Boise State 34 #8 Penn State 23

 

 

Quarterfinal Round Matches

Simulated December 20

 

Fiesta Bowl

#1 Oklahoma 48  #9 Boise State 21

 

Sugar Bowl

#2 Florida 34  #10 Ohio State 17

 

Capital One Bowl

#3 Texas 35  #6 Utah 17

 

Gator Bowl

#5 Southern Cal 17  #4 Alabama 10

 

 

FINAL FOUR

 

Rose Bowl

 

Southern California 27  Oklahoma 14

 

Orange Bowl

 

Florida 49  Texas 35

 

 

National Championship Game

 

Florida 14-1  vs. Southern Cal 14-1

 

AND THE WINNER IS………….

 

Southern California Trojans

 

Final Score:  USC 27  Florida 23

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

USC

3

10

14

0

 

27

Fla

6

3

6

8

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USC

Stat

Fla

 

 

 

 

18

FD

14

 

 

 

 

46-148

Rush-Yds

29-77

 

 

 

 

239

Pass Yds

223

 

 

 

 

19-32-0

Passes

19-35-2

 

 

 

 

5-41.8

Punt

6-40.5

 

 

 

 

3-46

PR

2-17

 

 

 

 

7-60

Pen

6-50

 

 

 

 

1-0

Fum

2-1

 

 

 

 

68

Play

64

 

 

 

 

387

Tot Yds

300

 

 

 

USC-Buehler 36 yd. FG, 1st Qtr. 10:33 (USC 3 FL 0)

Fla-Tebow 4 yd. run, kick blocked, 1st Qtr. 3:11 (FL 6 USC 3)

Fla-Phillips 29 yd. FG, 2nd Qtr. 7:55 (FL 9 USC 3)

USC-Turner 17 yd. pass from Sanchez, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 3:09 (USC 10 FL 9)

USC-Buehler 45 yd. FG, 2nd Qtr. 0:00 (USC 13 FL 9)

USC-Gable 9 yd. run, Buehler Kick, 3rd Qtr. 12:46 (USC 20 FL 9)

USC-Maualuga 44 yd. interception return, Buehler Kick, 3rd Qtr. 9:15 (USC 27 FL 9)

Fla-Demps 2 yd. run, 2-point try failed, 3rd Qtr. 0:54 (USC 27 FL 15)

Fla-Murphy 31 yd. pass from Tebow, Tebow run for 2, 4th Qtr. 2:27 (USC 27 FL 23)

 

Congratulations go to Southern California for winning the simulated national championship playoffs for the second year in a row!

 

 

The Real BCS Championship Game Simulated 100 Times

 

Florida won 59 of the 100 Simulations by an average score of 36 to 32.

Five of the games went to overtime, with one simulation going four overtimes.  Oklahoma won that one 68-66.

Florida won 11 games by 10 or more points with their biggest margin of victory being 23 points in a 55-32 win.

Oklahoma won three games by 10 or more points with their biggest margin of victory being 19 points at 49-30.

29 of the simulations were decided by three points or less, with Florida winning 15 and Oklahoma winning 14.

 

Regardless of the outcome of this game, there will be discussion that three other teams were just as deserving.

 

If Oklahoma wins this game, Texas has every bit as much right if not more to proclaim themselves champions.  They beat Oklahoma on a neutral field.

 

If Florida wins this game, then Utah has every bit as much right it nor more to proclaim themselves champions.  The Utes beat Alabama by more points than Florida did, and Utah had to play this game as if they were the road team.  Utah won at Oregon State, something that Southern Cal did not do.

 

Speaking of Southern Cal, the Trojans are hands down the best college team in the nation.  Most football experts, including the wise guys in Nevada understand this fact and would list USC as a favorite over any other team.

January 2, 2009

NCAA 2008-09 College Football Playoff Simulation–Semifinal Round

NCAA 2008 College Football Playoff Simulation

Semifinal Round

 

Welcome to season number two of the NCAA College Football Playoff Simulation.  For those reading this blog for the first time, the PiRate College Football Playoffs take the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC as automatic qualifiers.  Any of the remaining conference champions (including the top independent) that finish in the top 16 in the final regular season BCS Standings also qualify automatically.  At-large teams are then selected in the order of BCS finish until 12 total teams have been selected.  The 12 teams are seeded by BCS ranking.

 

Here is how the 12 teams were selected for the 2008 playoffs.

 

Top Six Conference Champions

ACC-Virginia Tech 9-4 seeded 12th

Big East Champion-Cincinnati 11-2 seeded 11th

Big Ten-Penn State 11-1 seeded 8th

Big 12-Oklahoma 12-1 seeded 1st

Pac-10-Southern Cal 11-1 seeded 5th

SEC-Florida 12-1 seeded 2nd

 

Automatic Qualifiers By Virtue Of Top 16 In BCS

MWC-Utah 12-0 seeded 6th

WAC-Boise State 12-0 seeded 9th

 

Top Four At-Large To Fill Out 12-Team Field

Texas 11-1 seeded 3rd

Alabama 12-1 seeded 4th

Texas Tech 11-1 seeded 7th

Ohio State 10-2 seeded 10th

 

The PiRate Playoff System uses the top 11 bowl games to play the four rounds.  The 5th through 12th seeds must play in the first round, while the top four seeds receive byes to the quarterfinals.

 

The First Round games were simulated Saturday, December 13.  Here were the results of those games.

 

Insight Bowl: #5 Southern Cal 20 #12 Virginia Tech 6

 

Cotton Bowl: #6 Utah 23 #11 Cincinnati 20 2ot

 

Chick-Fil-a Bowl:  #10 Ohio State 45 #7 Texas Tech 31

 

Outback Bowl: #9 Boise State 34 #8 Penn State 23

 

 

Quarterfinal Round Matches

Simulated December 20

 

Fiesta Bowl

#1 Oklahoma 48  #9 Boise State 21

 

Sugar Bowl

#2 Florida 34  #10 Ohio State 17

 

Capital One Bowl

#3 Texas 35  #6 Utah 17

 

Gator Bowl

#5 Southern Cal 17  #4 Alabama 10

 

 

FINAL FOUR

 

Rose Bowl

#1 Oklahoma 13-1 vs. #5 Southern Cal 13-1

 

Orange Bowl

#2 Florida 13-1 vs. #3 Texas 12-1

 

RESULTS OF SEMIFINAL GAMES

 

Rose Bowl

 

Southern California 27  Oklahoma 14

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

Oklahoma

7

0

7

0

 

14

Southern Cal

10

3

7

7

 

27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OKL

Stat

USC

 

 

 

 

18

FD

22

 

 

 

 

21-77

Rush-Yds

39-148

 

 

 

 

282

Pass Yds

267

 

 

 

 

25-43-2

Passes

19-33-0

 

 

 

 

5-42.4

Punt

4-38.8

 

 

 

 

1-9

PR

2-31

 

 

 

 

7-60

Pen

5-35

 

 

 

 

2-1

Fum

1-0

 

 

 

 

64

Play

72

 

 

 

 

359

Tot Yds

415

 

 

Mark Sanchez threw touchdown passes to Michael Turner on consecutive drives at the end of the 3rd quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter after Oklahoma had taken a 14-13 lead.  The USC defense held the Sooners to 11 total yards and no first downs in the final quarter, sacking Sam Bradfors twice on 3rd down plays.

 

Orange Bowl

 

Florida 49  Texas 35

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

Florida

14

14

7

14

 

49

Texas

7

14

7

7

 

35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fla

Stat

Tex

 

 

 

 

25

FD

19

 

 

 

 

39-183

Rush-Yds

18-44

 

 

 

 

290

Pass Yds

332

 

 

 

 

25-38-0

Passes

27-41-1

 

 

 

 

0-0

Punt

3-42.3

 

 

 

 

1-12

PR

0-0

 

 

 

 

6-44

Pen

8-58

 

 

 

 

0-0

Fum

1-0

 

 

 

 

77

Play

59

 

 

 

 

473

Tot Yds

376

 

 

Florida scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, as Tim Tebow started the game 15-18 for 176 yards.  Colt McCoy brought the Longhorns back in the second quarter; trailing 28-7, he led Texas on two quick scoring drives, topping the second one with a nine yard touchdown scamper.

 

With the score tied 35-35, Tebow ran off-tackle 26 yards for the go-ahead score, and then linebacker Brandon Spikes intercepted McCoy and returned it 41 yards for the touchdown that sealed the game.

 

National Championship Game

 

Florida 14-1  vs. Southern Cal 14-1

 

This game will be simulated January 7th

December 14, 2008

NCAA Football Playoff Simulation: Round One–December 13, 2008

NCAA 2008 College Football Playoff Simulation

Round One

 

Welcome to season number two of the NCAA College Football Playoff Simulation.  For those reading this blog for the first time, the PiRate College Football Playoffs take the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC as automatic qualifiers.  Any of the remaining conference champions (including the top independent) that finish in the top 16 in the final regular season BCS Standings also qualify automatically.  At-large teams are then selected in the order of BCS finish until 12 total teams have been selected.  The 12 teams are seeded by BCS ranking.

 

Here is how the 12 teams were selected for the 2008 playoffs.

 

Top Six Conference Champions

ACC-Virginia Tech 9-4 seeded 12th

Big East Champion-Cincinnati 11-2 seeded 11th

Big Ten-Penn State 11-1 seeded 8th

Big 12-Oklahoma 12-1 seeded 1st

Pac-10-Southern Cal 11-1 seeded 5th

SEC-Florida 12-1 seeded 2nd

 

Automatic Qualifiers By Virtue Of Top 16 In BCS

MWC-Utah 12-0 seeded 6th

WAC-Boise State 12-0 seeded 9th

 

Top Four At-Large To Fill Out 12-Team Field

Texas 11-1 seeded 3rd

Alabama 12-1 seeded 4th

Texas Tech 11-1 seeded 7th

Ohio State 10-2 seeded 10th

 

The PiRate Playoff System uses the top 11 bowl games to play the four rounds.  The 5th through 12th seeds must play in the first round, while the top four seeds receive byes to the quarterfinals.

 

The First Round games were simulated Saturday, December 13.  Here are the results of those games.

 

Insight Bowl: #5 Southern Cal vs. #12 Virginia Tech

 

Final Score: Southern Cal 20  Virginia Tech 6

 

Will Harris returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown and Stafon Johnson scored on an 8-yard run in the second quarter to give the Trojans all the points they needed.  The USC defense held the Hokies to 14 total yards and no first downs in the second half.  USC now advances to the Gator Bowl to play #4 seed Alabama.

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

U S C

0

14

3

3

 

20

Va. Tech

3

3

0

0

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USC

Stat

VT

 

 

 

 

19

FD

8

 

 

 

 

43-156

Rush-Yds

35-29

 

 

 

 

177

Pass Yds

108

 

 

 

 

15-26-1

Passes

11-24-2

 

 

 

 

5-39.8

Punt

9-41.1

 

 

 

 

4-71

PR

2-20

 

 

 

 

6-45

Pen

4-30

 

 

 

 

0-0

Fum

2-1

 

 

 

 

69

Play

59

 

 

 

 

333

Tot Yds

137

 

 

 

Cotton Bowl: #6 Utah vs. #11 Cincinnati

 

Final Score: Utah 23 Cincinnati 20 2ot

 

Running Back Matt Asiata lined up in the Wildcat Formation and then through a 29 yard running pass to David Reed for a touchdown to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation, and quarterback Brian Johnson completed a 25 yard pass to Asiata on the first play of the second overtime, as Utah advanced to the Capital One Bowl and the quarterfinals.  The Utes’ opponent will be #3 seed Texas

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

Utah

0

0

3

7

13

23

Cinti

0

7

3

0

10

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Utah

Stat

Cin

 

 

 

 

19

FD

18

 

 

 

 

47-174

Rush-Yds

44-159

 

 

 

 

213

Pass Yds

229

 

 

 

 

19-36-2

Passes

18-34-1

 

 

 

 

8-43.4

Punt

7-39.4

 

 

 

 

3-23

PR

6-47

 

 

 

 

5-40

Pen

7-48

 

 

 

 

1-0

Fum

3-2

 

 

 

 

83

Play

78

 

 

 

 

387

Tot Yds

388

 

 

 

Chick-Fil-a Bowl: #7 Texas Tech vs. #10 Ohio State

 

Final Score: Ohio State 45  Texas Tech 31

 

Terrelle Pryor ran for two scores and passed for two others and Marcus Freeman sacked Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell three times, as the Buckeyes beat higher-seeded Texas Tech.  Pryor scored his first touchdown on a 14 yard scamper early in the second quarter after Brian Hartline set the Buckeyes up with a 32 yard punt return.  Pryor’s first touchdown pass went to Hartline from 26 yards out.  In the third quarter, Pryor hit Brian Robiskie for a 13-yard score, and in the final period, Pryor scampered 17 yards for the game-clinching touchdown, after Texas Tech had scored on a blocked punt and return.

 

Ohio State now moves on to the Sugar Bowl for a date against #2 seed Florida.

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

Tx Tech

7

7

14

3

 

31

Oh St

3

14

14

14

 

45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TTU

Stat

OSU

 

 

 

 

18

FD

24

 

 

 

 

18-39

Rush-Yds

37-215

 

 

 

 

301

Pass Yds

177

 

 

 

 

27-56-3

Passes

16-26-0

 

 

 

 

4-41.5

Punt

4-34.4

 

 

 

 

1-7

PR

2-34

 

 

 

 

7-65

Pen

5-33

 

 

 

 

1-1

Fum

1-0

 

 

 

 

74

Play

63

 

 

 

 

340

Tot Yds

392

 

 

 

Outback Bowl: #8 Penn State vs. #9 Boise State

 

Final Score: Boise State 34  Penn State 23

 

Ian Johnson and Kyle Wilson starred for the Broncos in this mild upset.  Johnson gave BSU the quick lead when he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.  Wilson’s 62 yard punt return following Penn State’s first possession set up another Bronco score.

 

Johnson rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Wilson intercepted two second half passes.

 

Boise State advances to the Fiesta Bowl to take on top-seeded Oklahoma.

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

Penn St

6

7

0

10

 

23

Boise St

14

0

13

7

 

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSU

Stat

BSU

 

 

 

 

17

FD

23

 

 

 

 

37-155

Rush-Yds

44-189

 

 

 

 

171

Pass Yds

226

 

 

 

 

16-29-3

Passes

19-28-0

 

 

 

 

7-42.7

Punt

5-41.6

 

 

 

 

3-20

PR

5-43

 

 

 

 

6-50

Pen

5-35

 

 

 

 

3-2

Fum

2-1

 

 

 

 

66

Play

72

 

 

 

 

326

Tot Yds

415

 

 

 

Quarterfinal Round Matches

To Be Simulated December 20

 

Fiesta Bowl

#1 Oklahoma 12-1 vs. #9 Boise State 13-0

 

Sugar Bowl

#2 Florida 12-1 vs. #10 Ohio State 11-2

 

Capital One Bowl

#3 Texas 11-1 vs. #6 Utah 13-0

 

Gator Bowl

#4 Alabama 12-1 vs. #5 Southern Cal 12-1

January 4, 2008

PiRate BCS National Championship Game Preview and Viewer’s Guide

The NCAA Football Bowl Division BCS Championship Game

Monday, January 7, 2008

8:30 PM EST

Fox Network

New Orleans Superdome

Ohio State 11-1 vs. LSU 11-2

How They Got To New Orleans

Ohio State Buckeyes

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Colors

Scarlet and Gray

League

Big 10 Conference

National Titles (*)

2002, 1968, 1957, 1954, 1942

* Awarded by AP, UPI, BCS, and other official polls
Unofficial Nat’l Titles (%)

1998, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1970,

1969, 1961, 1944, 1933

% Awarded by various unofficial polls and computers

Head Coach

Jim Tressel

Record at Ohio State

73-15 in 7th season

Bowl Record at OSU

4-2

Overall Record

146-58-2

Offensive Coordinator

Jim Bollman

Defensive Coordinator

Jim Heacock/Luke Fickell

Opponents

OSU

Opp

Youngstown State

38

6

Akron

20

2

at Washington

33

14

Northwestern

58

7

at Minnesota

30

7

at Purdue

23

7

Kent State

48

3

Michigan State

24

17

at Penn State

37

17

Wisconsin

38

17

Illinois

21

28

at Michigan

14

3

Per Game Stats

OSU

Opp

Points

32.0

10.7

First Downs

20.9

12.9

Rushing Attempts

43.6

31.4

Rushing Yards

200.7

77.1

Avg per Rush

4.6

2.5

Rush Yds NFL method *

209.0

99.6

Passing Yards

196.4

148.2

Pass Yds NFL method *

188.1

125.7

Pass Completions

16.3

16.4

Pass Attempts

25.3

31.6

Interceptions

1.0

0.8

Sacks

3.5

1.2

Sack Yards

22.5

8.3

Punting Avg.

40.4

39.2

Punt Returns

38.6

6.8

Net Punting

36.5

33.9

Fumbles-LST

1.4-0.6

1.3-0.7

Penalties-Yds

5.4-40.9

4.1-37.2

Yds per Interception Ret.

17.8

7.4

Avg. Kick Return

17.6

21.4

Time of Possession

32:11

27:49

3rd down conversion %

47.6

30.7

PAT %

97.8

100.0

FG %

81.0

70.0

* The NFL figures QB sacks as lost passing yards and not rushing yards
This is a better barometer of both the rushing and passing games

Louisiana State Tigers

Location

Baton Rouge, LA

Colors

Purple and Gold

League

Southeastern Conference

National Titles (*)

2003, 1958

* Awarded by AP, UPI, BCS, and other official polls
Unofficial Nat’l Titles (%)

1936, 1935, 1908

% Awarded by various unofficial polls and computers

Head Coach

Les Miles

Record at LSU

33-6 in 3rd year

Bowl Record at LSU

2-0

Overall Record

61-27

Offensive Coordinator

Gary Crowton

Defensive Coordinator

Bo Pelini

Opponents

LSU

Opp

at Mississippi St.

45

0

Virginia Tech

48

7

Middle Tennessee

44

0

South Carolina

28

16

at Tulane

34

9

Florida

28

24

at Kentucky

37

43

3 OT
Auburn

30

24

at Alabama

41

34

Louisiana Tech

58

10

at Ole Miss

41

24

Arkansas

48

50

3 OT
Tennessee

21

14

Per Game Stats

LSU

Opp

Points

38.7

19.6

First Downs

22.4

16.5

Rushing Attempts

43.3

33.4

Rushing Yards

218.9

103.1

Avg per Rush

5.1

3.1

Rush Yds NFL method *

233.8

122.0

Passing Yards

229.2

180.8

Pass Yds NFL method *

214.3

161.9

Pass Completions

18.2

15.2

Pass Attempts

31.9

32.7

Interceptions

0.9

1.6

Sacks

2.5

2.2

Sack Yards

18.9

14.9

Punting Avg.

43.4

39.2

Punt Return Avg.

5.8

9.5

Net Punting

35.5

36.5

Fumbles-LST

1.2-0.2

1.8-0.9

Penalties-Yds

8.7-64.9

4.6-37.2

Yds per Interception Ret.

11.6

9.5

Avg. Kick Return

20.1

20.5

Time of Possession

32:07

27:53

3rd down conversion %

45.4

36.0

PAT %

100.0

96.7

FG %

78.1

83.3

L S U Offense

Ohio State Defense

Pos

No.

Name

Ht 

Wt

Yr

||

Pos

No.

Name

Ht

Wt

Yr

SE

1

Brandon LaFell

6-3  

205

So

||

DE

97

Cameron Heyward

6-6   

282

Fr

2

Demetrius Byrd

6-2  

195

Jr

||

9

Rob Rose

6-5   

294

S0

28

R.J. Jackson

6-0  

205

So

||

DT

84

Doug Worthington

6-7   

271

So

LT

70

Ciron Black

6-5  

320

So

||

93

Nader Abdallah

6-5   

297

Jr

76

Jarvis Jones

6-7  

294

Fr

||

DT

92

Todd Denlinger

6-3   

286

So

LG

79

Herman Johnson

6-7  

356

Jr

||

72

Dexter Larimore

6-3   

304

Fr

63

Ryan Miller

6-6  

302

Jr

||

DE

50

Vernon Gholston

6-4   

264

Jr

62

Robert Smith

6-2  

273

Sr

||

78

Alex Barrow

6-5   

275

Jr

C

74

Brett Helms

6-2  

270

Jr

||

WLB

1

Marcus Freeman

6-2   

236

Jr

63

Ryan Miller

6-6  

302

Jr

||

36

Brian Rolle

5-11   

212

Fr

RG

65

Lyle Hitt

6-2  

299

So

||

MLB

33

James Laurinaitis

6-3   

240

Jr

76

Jarvis Jones

6-7  

294

Fr

||

38

Austin Spitler

6-3   

234

So

63

Ryan Miller

6-6  

302

Jr

||

SLB

6

Larry Grant

6-3   

226

Sr

RT

71

Carnell Stewart

6-5  

320

Sr

||

26

Tyler Moeller

6-1   

203

Fr

78

Joseph Barksdale

6-4  

310

Fr

||

CB

2

Malcolm Jenkins

6-1   

208

Jr

TE

82

Richard Dickson

6-2  

235

So

||

32

Eugene Clifford

6-2   

191

Fr

89

Keith Zinger

6-4  

250

Sr

||

13

Andre Amos

6-1   

179

So

81

Mit Cole

6-4  

260

Sr

||

SS

4

Kurt Coleman

5-11  

187

So

FL

9

Early Doucet

6-0  

207

Sr

||

3

Jamario O’Neal

6-1    

199

Jr

80

Terrence Toliver

6-5  

190

Fr

||

FS

21

Anderson Russell

6-0   

205

So

87

Jared Mitchell

5-11  

198

So

||

8

Aaron Gant

6-0   

201

So

QB

15

Matt Flynn

6-3  

227

Sr

||

CB

20

Donald Washington

6-1   

188

So

11

Ryan Perrilloux

6-3  

227

So

||

5

Chimdi Chekwa

6-1   

185

Fr

14

Andrew Hatch

6-3  

214

So

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

TB

18

Jacob Hester

6-0  

228

Sr

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

Keiland Williams

6-0  

226

So

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

Charles Scott

5-11  

226

So

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

Trindon Holliday

5-5  

160

So

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

26

Richard Murphy

6-1  

197

Fr

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

FB

45

Quinn Jackson

6-2  

238

Jr

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

40

Shawn Jordan

5-11  

254

Sr

||

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State Offense

L S U Defense

Pos

No.

Name

Ht

Wt

Yr

||

Pos

No.

Name

Ht 

Wt

Yr

WR

80

Brian Robiskie

6-3  

196

Jr

||

LE

93

Tyson Jackson

6-5    

291

Jr

12

Dane Sanzenbacher

5-11  

178

Fr

||

47

Tremaine Johnson

6-2    

282

Jr

LT

75

Alex Boone

6-8  

313

Jr

||

LT

72

Glenn Dorsey

6-2    

303

Sr

73

Josh Kerr

6-5  

276

Fr

||

97

Al Woods

6-4    

315

So

LG

71

Steve Rehring

6-8  

345

Jr

||

90

Ricky Jean-Francois

6-3   

285

So

78

Dan Dye

6-3  

277

Sr

||

RT

99

Marlon Favorite

6-1   

302

Jr

C

64

Jim Cordle

6-4  

302

So

||

92

Drake Nevis

6-1   

288

Fr

66

Andrew Moses

6-3  

272

So

||

90

Ricky Jean-Francois

6-3   

285

So

RG

63

Ben Person

6-4  

321

Jr

||

RE

49

Kirston Pittman

6-4   

252

Sr

77

Connor Smith

6-5  

317

Fr

||

84

Rahim Allen

6-3   

254

So

RT

74

Kirk Barton

6-6  

300

Sr

||

90

Ricky Jean-Francois

6-3   

285

So

70

Byrant Browning

6-4  

311

Fr

||

SLB

35

Luke Sanders

6-5   

242

Sr

TE

88

Rory Nicol

6-5  

250

Jr

||

56

Perry Riley

6-1   

232

So

86

Jake Ballard

6-7  

255

So

||

MLB

48

Darry Beckwith

6-1   

230

Jr

87

Brandon Smith

6-3  

240

Jr

||

54

Jacob Cuttera

6-4   

235

So

WR

9

Brian Hartline

6-3  

180

So

||

WLB

7

Ali Highsmith

6-1   

223

Sr

4

Ray Small

6-0  

182

So

||

11

Kelvin Sheppard

6-3   

223

Fr

QB

17

Todd Boeckman

6-5  

243

Jr

||

CB

19

Jonathan Zenon

6-0   

180

Sr

11

Robby Schoenhoft

6-6  

244

So

||

29

Chris Hawkins

6-1   

175

So

TB

28

Chris Wells

6-1  

235

So

||

SS

16

Craig Steltz

6-2   

209

Sr

34

Maurice Wells

5-10  

195

Jr

||

24

Harry Coleman

6-2   

205

So

3

Brandon Saine

6-1  

220

Fr

||

FS

27

Curtis Taylor

6-3   

204

Jr

FB

49

Dionte Johnson

6-0  

242

Sr

||

44

Danny McCray

6-1   

206

So

16

Trever Robinson

6-0  

225

Sr

||

CB

21

Chevis Jackson

6-0   

184

Sr

42

Tyler Whaley

6-1  

265

Sr

||

4

Jai Eugene

5-11   

184

Fr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L S U Special Teams

Ohio State Special Teams

Pos

No.

Name

Ht

Wt

Yr

||

Pos

No.

Name

Ht

Wt

Yr

K

6

Colt David

5-9  

173

Jr

||

K

85

Ryan Pretorius

5-9  

175

Jr

P

36

Patrick Fisher

6-5  

253

Sr

||

KO

20

Aaron Pettrey

6-1  

193

So

KR

8

Trindon Holliday

5-5  

160

So

||

P

15

A. J. Trapasso

6-1  

224

Jr

5

Keiland Williams

6-0  

226

So

||

KR

4

Ray Small

6-0  

182

So

9

Early Doucet

6-0  

207

Sr

||

34

Maurice Wells

5-10  

195

Jr

PR

3

Chad Jones

6-3  

218

Fr

||

PR

9

Brian Hartline

6-3  

180

So

9

Early Doucet

6-0  

207

Sr

||

4

Ray Small

6-0  

182

So

LS

51

Jacob O’Hair

6-2  

237

Sr

||

LS

56

Dimitrios Makridis

6-1  

208

Sr

Hld

15

Matt Flynn

6-3  

227

Sr

||

61

Jackson Haas

6-3  

228

Sr

11

Ryan Perrilloux

6-3  

227

So

||

Hld

48

Jon Thoma

6-1  

199

So

Game Preview

In January of 1973, Ohio State played Southern California in the Rose Bowl and USC blew them off the Pasadena turf much like they did with Illinois this past Monday.  A year later, Ohio State returned to the Rose Bowl for a rematch with USC.  Many pundits expected another Trojan slaughter, but The Buckeyes redeemed themselves with a slaughter of their own by a score of 42-21.

Does history repeat itself?  Ohio State was blown out last year by Florida in the National Championship Game, and now they must take on another SEC team in their home state.  Ohio State has much better odds this time around, as LSU is more of a power team than a speed and finesse team.  Ohio State can hold its own against power teams.

What does play in LSU’s favor is that this is almost a home game for them.  The Tigers receive three points home field advantage, and they already own a win on this field this season.

I expect this to be a game that is slightly biased in favor of defense in the bend but don’t break mode.  I expect both teams to lose good chances to score in this game.

When it comes down to it, LSU coach Les Miles will gamble, while Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will play it close to the vest.  Will LSU’s gambles pay off or be costly?  Will Ohio State be too conservative?  This is where the game will be decided.  I’d say it’s pretty much 50-50, so you should be rewarded with a game rivaling the excitement of last week’s New England Patriots-New York Giants game.

Las Vegas Line:          LSU by 4

Totals Line:                 48½

Money Line:                LSU -165  Ohio State +150

PiRate Computer:     Tossup with predicted score of 24-24 going to overtime

Mean Rating:             LSU 26  Ohio State 25

75 other computers:    48 pick LSU and 27 pick Ohio State

75 computers avg.       LSU by 2.08 points

             

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