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March 12, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 12 Update

Bucknell Joins The Dance Party

The Bucknell Bison earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid Friday with a 72-54 victory over Lafayette.  Versatile big man Mike Muscala led the Bison with 18 points while sharpshooter Bryson Johnson added 15.

 

Bucknell improved to 25-8 on the season.  They project to be a 12 or 13-seed.

 

12 More Bids To Go Out Saturday

 

This is the busiest day of the tournament schedule.  13 conferences will crown their champion, and four other conferences will conduct semifinal rounds.  All told, every single one of the 21 games scheduled will be televised nationally.  Do you have enough televisions and a good high-speed computer?

 

Here is a conference-by-conference look at all the action.

 

All Game Times EST

 

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

Quarterfinal Round

#1 North Carolina  61  #9 Miami  59

#4 Clemson  70  #5 Boston College  47

#2 Duke  87  #7 Maryland  71

#6 Virginia Tech  52  #3 Florida State  51 

 

Semifinal Round

#1 North Carolina (25-6)  vs. #4 Clemson (21-10)  1:30 PM  ESPN 

#2 Duke (28-4)  vs. #6 Virginia Tech (21-11)  3:45 PM  ESPN

 

All four teams are safely in the NCAA Tournament.  The Hokies secured a spot in the Dance with the nail-biting win over the Seminoles.

 

America East Conference

Championship Round

#5 Stony Brook (15-16)  at #2 Boston U (20-13)  12 Noon  ESPN2

 

Boston U won both regular season meetings.  The Terriers won 67-62 at home and 62-49 on the road.  They win with their defense, as they only shoot 40.6% from the field.

 

Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Dayton  68  #1 Xavier  67

#12 St. Joseph’s  93  #4 Duquesne  90  ot

#2 Temple  96  #10 LaSalle  76

#3 Richmond  55  #6 Rhode Island 45

 

Semifinal Round

#9 Dayton (21-12)  vs. #12 St. Joseph’s (11-21)  1 PM  CBS College

#2 Temple (25-6)  vs. #3 Richmond (24-7)  3:30 PM  CBS College

 

The Bubble teams will have to sweat it out all the way until Sunday.  At least one long shot will advance to the Championship Game.  Neither St. Joe’s nor Dayton is getting an at-large bid, and one of the two will be playing for an automatic bid Sunday.  Both Temple and Richmond are in the Dance.

 

Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

Semifinal Round

#1 Kansas  90  #5 Colorado  83

#2 Texas  70  #3 Texas A&M  58

 

Championship Game

#1 Kansas (31-2)  vs. #2 Texas (27-6)  6 PM  ESPN

 

The Jayhawks are still playing for the overall number one seed, while Texas is probably locked in on a number two seed.  However, with Notre Dame losing, a Longhorn win could put them in the conversation, especially if Duke does not win the ACC Tournament.

 

Big East Conference—New York City

Semifinal Round

#9 Connecticut  76  #4 Syracuse  71  ot

#3 Louisville 83  #2 Notre Dame  77  ot 

 

Championship Game

#3 Louisville (25-8)  vs. #9 Connecticut (25-9)  9 PM  ESPN

 

Connecticut becomes the first team ever to play five games in five days in modern college basketball history.  Will they have anything left in the tank next week when it really counts?  Louisville’s win more than likely killed any chance for the Irish getting a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Ohio State  67  #8 Northwestern  61 ot

#4 Michigan  60  #5 Illinois  55

#7 Michigan State  74  #2 Purdue  56

#6 Penn State  36  #3 Wisconsin 33

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Ohio State (30-2)  vs. #4 Michigan (20-12)  1:40 PM  CBS

#6 Penn State (18-13)  vs. #7 Michigan State (19-13)  4 PM  CBS

 

Michigan State has now earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  Penn State might move from the Bubble to in the tournament with a win over the Spartans.

 

Big West Conference—Anaheim

Semifinal Round

#1 Long Beach State  74  #7 UC-Riverside  63

#5 UC-Santa Barbara 83  #3 Cal State Northridge 63

 

Championship Game

#1 Long Beach State (22-10)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (17-13)  8 PM  ESPN2

 

Long Beach State won both meetings against the Gauchos in the regular season, and neither game was close.  The 49ers are not going to become another Butler or even repeat the exploits of Northern Iowa last year, but they could scare a favored team in the first round.  If UCSB wins, then they will make a quick exit in the first round.

 

Conference USA—El Paso, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Memphis  76  #8 East Carolina  56

#3 U T E P  66  #2 Tulsa  54

 

Championship Game

#3 UTEP (25-8)  vs. #4 Memphis (24-9)  11:30 AM  CBS

 

The host Miners blew Memphis off the floor 74-47 in their only regular season meeting.  That game took place on this court.

 

Ivy League Playoff

Harvard (23-5)  vs. Princeton (24-6)  at Yale University  4 PM  ESPN3.com 

 

If Princeton wins a close game, there is an outside chance that the Ivy League could get two bids.

 

Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Semifinal Round

#6 Akron  79  #2 Western Michigan  68

#1 Kent State 79  #4 Ball State 68

 

Championship Game

#1 Kent State (23-10)  vs. #6 Akron (22-12)  6 PM  ESPN2

 

The winner goes dancing, while the loser can only hope for a trip to Madison Square Garden in late March.

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Semifinal Round

#4 Morgan State  61  #1 Bethune-Cookman  48

#2 Hampton  85  #6 Norfolk State  61

 

Championship Game

#2 Hampton (23-8)  vs. #4 Morgan State (17-13)  2 PM  ESPN2

 

Morgan State goes for a four-peat.  The Bears beat Hampton in the regular season 78-72.

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U  87  #5 New Mexico  76

#2 San Diego State  74  #3 UNLV 72

 

Championship Game

#1 B Y U  (30-3)  vs. #2 San Diego State (31-2)  7 PM  Versus

 

Is the third time the charm for San Diego State?  The Aztecs’ two losses were to the Cougars.  If they can hold Jimmer Fredette under 35 points, we have a feeling that SDSU will cut down the nets. 

 

Both teams are legitimate threats to make it to the Sweet 16 and possibly a round or two farther.

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona  67  #4 Southern Cal  62

#3 Washington 69  #7 Oregon 51

 

Championship Game

#1 Arizona (27-6)  vs. #3 Washington (22-10)  6 PM  CBS

 

This should be an exciting game, even though it will not greatly affect the NCAA Tournament seedings.

 

The two teams split the season series, but the Huskies came close to sweeping.  UW won by 17 at home and fell by a single point in Tucson.  We think this is a tossup game.

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

Quarterfinal Round

1W  Alabama 65  4E Georgia 59  ot

2E  Kentucky  75  3W  Ole Miss 66

1E  Florida  85  5E  Tennessee  74

3E  Vanderbilt  87  2W  Mississippi State  81

 

Semifinal Round

1W  Alabama (21-10)  vs. 2E  Kentucky (23-8)  1 PM  ABC

1E  Florida (25-6)  vs.  3E  Vanderbilt (23-9)  3:30 PM  ABC

 

Alabama played themselves into position to get one of the final at-large bids.  The Crimson Tide fans need to route against a Dayton or St. Joseph’s tournament championship in the Atlantic 10, because there is still little room for error for ‘Bama.

 

Kentucky looks unstoppable at times and then looks like a team that doesn’t belong in the tournament at others.  That’s what you get with a bunch of underclassmen and with no depth.

 

We believe this game will be close for most of the day, but the Wildcats will enjoy one nice spurt in both halves to hold off the Tide by six to 12 points.

 

Florida is playing about as well as either of their two National Champion teams.  It is hard to stop a team with five guys capable of scoring 20 points.  The Gators’ have few weaknesses.

 

Vanderbilt is a lot like Florida, but not as talented.  The Commodores have excellent outside shooters, but they cannot create their own shot like Florida’s outside shooters.  They have a couple of excellent inside scorers, but they can disappear against Florida’s inside players.  We look for the Gators to dominate this one from the beginning and win by double digits.

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Championship Game

#1 McNeese State (21-10)  vs. #7 UT-San Antonio (18-13)  4 PM  ESPN2

 

S W A C—Garland, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Alabama State  73  #1 Texas Southern  66

#6 Grambling  81  #2 Jackson State  75  ot

 

Championship Game

#4 Alabama State (16-17)  vs. #6 Grambling (12-20)  8:30 PM  ESPNU

 

The winner of this game can definitely plan on heading to Dayton for a First Four game.

 

W A C—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State  58  #8 San Jose State  54

#2 Boise State 81  #3 New Mexico State  63

 

Championship Game

#1 Utah State (29-3)  vs. #2 Boise State (20-11) 10 PM  ESPN2

 

Utah State is definitely in the Dance, so if the Broncos can pull off the big upset, another bubble will burst somewhere else.

 

Note: St. Mary’s defeated Weber State Friday night 77-54 in a non-conference game that was scheduled only two months ago.  The Gaels appear to be safe as an at-large team.

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March 11, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 11 Update

Patriot League Championship—4:45 PM EST On ESPN2

#6 Lafayette (13-18)  at #1 Bucknell (24-8)

 

Lafayette makes an appearance in the conference championship game for the second consecutive year.  The Leopards fell to rival Lehigh last season and were tabbed the best team in the league in the preseason.  They took a step backward and tumbled to sixth in the league.

 

Bucknell closed 2010 with an 8-2 finish and returned all five starters and most of their key reserves.  The Bison continued to play top-notch ball and ran away with the Patriot League title.  Bucknell is on fire, having won nine games in a row by an average of 72-60 and 22 of their last 24 games.

 

The Bison swept the series against their Keystone State rival, winning 75-56 in Lewisburg and 74-69 in overtime at Easton.  Tonight’s game is on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, so Bucknell will enjoy the home court advantage.

 

In the earlier game in Lewisburg, Bucknell began the second half of a close game by going on a 20-3 run to put the game out of reach.  The Bison held Lafayette to 37% shooting and controlled the boards by 14.  In the game at Lafayette, Bucknell led 61-50 with four and a half minutes to go, but the Bison did not score another point in regulation.  Lafayette scored 11 consecutive points to force overtime and then briefly took a 64-61 lead at the start of the extra period.  The Leopards shot under 40% again and were outrebounded once again.

 

Bucknell goes just seven-deep, and all seven contribute to the offense.  Muscular big man Mike Muscala leads the way with 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.  The 6-11 Muscala has recorded six double-doubles in the last 15 games.  Bryson Johnson is an excellent long-range shooter, and he shoots 47% from three-point range.  As a team, Bucknell shoots 40.6% from behind the arc.

 

Lafayette led the entire game at Holy Cross in the conference tournament quarterfinal.  The Leopards placed five players in double figure scoring, and they stole the ball nine times to knock off the Crusaders.  In the semifinal round at number two seed American, the Leopards trailed by two points in the final seconds when Jim Mower buried a three-pointer as the clock expired to seal a double overtime victory.

 

If the Leopards are to pull off the big upset and advance to a First Four game in Dayton next week, big man Jared Mintz will have to neutralize Muscala.  Mintz gives away two inches in height, but he has the power to hold his own inside.  Mintz leads the Leopards with a 15.8 point scoring average and 5.8 rebound average.  Mower averages 12.4 points per game.

 

Thursday’s Results And Friday’s Games With NCAA Tournament Repercussions

All Times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

1st Round

#9 Miami  69  #8 Virginia  62

#5 Boston College  81  #12 Wake Forest  67

#7 Maryland  75  #10 North Carolina State  67

#6 Virginia Tech  59  #11 Georgia Tech  43

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Miami (19-13)  vs. #1 North Carolina (24-6)  12 Noon  ESPN2

#5 Boston College (20-11)  vs. #4 Clemson (20-10)  Approx. 2:15 PM  ESPN2

#7 Maryland (19-13)  vs. #2 Duke (27-4)  7 PM  ESPN2

#6 Virginia Tech (20-10)  vs. #3 Florida State (21-9)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN2

 

North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Clemson, and Boston College are in.  Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Miami are on the bubble.  Miami and Maryland must win today, or they are NIT-bound.  Virginia Tech is in a near must-win situation.  They are on the middle of the bubble.

 

Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

No Games Played Thursday

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Dayton (20-12)  vs. #1 Xavier (24-6)  12 Noon  CBS College

#12 St. Joseph’s (10-21)  vs. #4 Duquesne (18-11)  2:30 PM  CBS College

#10 LaSalle (15-17)  vs. #2 Temple (24-6)  6:30 PM  CBS College

#6 Rhode Island (19-12)  vs. #3 Richmond (24-7)  9 PM  CBS College

 

Xavier, Temple, and Richmond are in.  Duquesne must win the tournament to get in, so the bubble teams will be pulling for Dayton or Xavier to stop them in the semifinals.  Keep an eye on Rhode Island.  The Rams are capable of upsetting Richmond and Temple to get to the finals.

 

Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Kansas  53  #9 Oklahoma State  52

#5 Colorado  87  #4 Kansas State  75

#2 Texas  74  #10 Oklahoma  54

#3 Texas A&M  86  #6 Missouri  71

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Kansas (30-2)  vs. #5 Colorado (21-12)  7 PM

#2 Texas (26-6)  vs. #3 Texas A&M (24-7)  9:30 PM

 

Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, and Colorado are in.  The Buffalos secured their bid yesterday, so the rest of this tournament is all about the seedings.

 

Big East Conference—New York City

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Connecticut  76  #1 Pittsburgh  74

#4 Syracuse  79  #5 St. John’s  73

#2 Notre Dame  89  #7 Cincinnati  51

#3 Louisville  81  #11 Marquette  56

 

Semifinal Round

#9 Connecticut (24-9)  vs. #4 Syracuse (26-6)  7 PM  ESPN

#2 Notre Dame (26-5)  vs. #3 Louisville (24-8)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN

 

11, yes 11, teams will receive invitations Sunday evening.  This is the strongest league not just this year, but maybe since the Big East placed three teams in the Final Four in 1985.  This should be a great finish to the tournament, and Notre Dame has a chance to move to a number one seed if the Irish win it.  Any one of these four could still be playing in late March.

 

Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

1st Round

#8 Northwestern  75  #9 Minnesota  65

#7 Michigan State  66  #10 Iowa  61

#6 Penn State  61  #11 Indiana  55

 

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Ohio State (29-2)  vs. #8 Northwestern (18-12) 12 Noon  ESPN

#4 Michigan (19-12)  vs. #5 Illinois (19-12)  Approx 2:20  ESPN

#2 Purdue (25-6)  vs. #7 Michigan State (18-13)  6:30 PM  Big Ten Network

#3 Wisconsin (23-7)  vs. #6 Penn State (17-13)  Approx. 8:45  Big Ten Network

 

Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois are in.  Michigan State can definitely punch a ticket with an upset over Purdue today, and they are still on the highest part of the bubble if they lose.  Northwestern and Penn State must win the tournament to get in, although the Nittany Lions could get in the discussion with a loss in the finals.  We would not be all that surprised if the Wildcats play Ohio State a close game, at least for 30 to 32 minutes.

 

Big West Conference—Anaheim

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Long Beach State 79  #8 UC-Irvine  72

#5 UC-Santa Barbara  79  #4 Pacific  67

#7 UC-Riverside  70  #2 Cal Poly  66  ot

#3 Cal State Northridge  75  #6 Cal State Fullerton  54

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Long Beach State (21-10)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (16-13)  9:30 PM  ESPNU

#3 Cal State Northridge (14-17)  vs. #7 UC-Riverside (12-18)  12 Midnight  ESPNU

 

The champion is the only team that will advance.  Long Beach State has a minimal at best chance of winning a first round game if they are the champion.

 

Conference USA—El Paso, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#8 East Carolina  75  #1 U A B  70  ot

#4 Memphis  66  #5 Southern Miss.  63

#3 U T E P  77  #6 Marshall  65

#2 Tulsa  81  #7 Rice  72

 

Semifinal Round

#2 Tulsa (19-12)  vs. #3 U T E P  (24-8)  3 PM 

#4 Memphis (23-9)  vs. #8 East Carolina (18-14)  5:30 PM

 

At this point, no team is guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance.  UAB played their way to the bottom half of the bubble with a loss to ECU.  Memphis and UTEP could possibly get into the conversation if they both advance to the championship game.  For now, we are projecting just the champion to make it into the tournament.  The host Miners enjoy a large home court advantage and should top Tulsa in a thriller today.

 

Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Western Michigan 67  #7 Bowling Green  56

#6 Akron  82  #3 Miami (O)  75  2ot

#1 Kent State  73  #8 Buffalo  62

#4 Ball State  76  #5 Ohio U  73  ot

 

Semifinal Round

#2 Western Michigan (20-11)  vs. #6 Akron (21-12)  7 PM

#1 Kent State (22-10)  vs. #4 Ball State (19-12)  9:30 PM

 

The MAC has been down in recent years, but the eventual champion of this tournament could be a formidable opponent as a number 13 or 14 seed for a better team in the first round. 

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Morgan State  77  #5 North Carolina A&T  59

#6 Norfolk State  55  #3 Coppin State 53

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman (21-11)  vs. #4 Morgan State (16-13)  6 PM

#2 Hampton (22-8) vs. #6 Norfolk State (12-19)  Approx. 8:15 PM

 

These teams are playing for a probable spot in the First Four.  The first semifinal will be a thriller; the top-seeded Wildcats face the three-time defending champion Bears.

 

Hampton has been a surprise team, and they should have an easier contest and be more rested for the championship.

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Quarterfinal Round

#1 B Y U  64  #9 T C U  58

#5 New Mexico  67  #4 Colorado State 61

#2 San Diego State  64  #7 Utah  50

#3 U N L V  69  #6 Air Force 53

 

Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U (29-3)  vs. #5 New Mexico (21-11)  9 PM  CBS College

#2 San Diego State (30-2)  vs. #3 U N L V  (24-7)  11:30 PM  CBS College

 

BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV are in.  Colorado State played themselves into the NIT with the loss yesterday to New Mexico.  As for the Lobos, with a third win over BYU today, they could get into the conversation, but they probably need to earn the automatic bid to go dancing.

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Arizona 78  #9 Oregon State  69

#4 Southern Cal  70  #5 California  56

#7 Oregon  76  #2 U C L A  59

#3 Washington 89  #6 Washington State 87

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona (26-6)  vs. #4 Southern Cal (19-13)  9 PM  Fox Sports

#3 Washington (21-10)  vs. #7 Oregon (16-16)  11:30 PM  Fox Sports

 

Arizona, UCLA, and Washington are in.  Oregon must win this tournament to get in.  As for Southern Cal, the Trojans might work their way into one of the final bubble spots with an upset over the top-seeded Wildcats tonight.  Last night’s battle of the Evergreen State was one of the most exciting of the tournament season with the Huskies coming from behind to knock off arch-rival Washington State by two.

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

1st Round

#4E  Georgia  69  #5W  Auburn  51

#3W  Ole Miss  66  #6E  South Carolina  55

#5E  Tennessee  74  #4W  Arkansas  68

#3E  Vanderbilt  62  #6W  L S U  50

 

Quarterfinal Round

#1W  Alabama (21-10)  vs. #4E Georgia (20-10)  1 PM

#2E  Kentucky (22-8)  vs. #3W Ole Miss (20-12)  3:30 PM

#1E  Florida (24-6)  vs. #5E  Tennessee (19-13)  7:30 PM

#2W Mississippi State (17-13)  vs. #3E  Vanderbilt (22-9)  10 PM

 

Florida, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt are definitely in.  Tennessee is probably in and would only be out if a lot of surprise winners win the remaining conference tournaments.  The Vols would safely secure a spot with a win over the Gators. 

 

The big game in all of college basketball today is the Georgia-Alabama game.  Call this an extra play-in game.  The winner survives to the Dance, while the loser will be hosting an NIT game next week.

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Semifinal Round

#1 McNeese State  91  #4 Texas State  83

#7 UT-San Antonio  79  #3 Sam Houston State 70

 

Championship Game on Saturday

 

S W A C—Garland, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Alabama State  81  #5 Alabama A&M 61

#6 Grambling  65  #3 Mississippi Valley  62

 

Semifinal Round

#2 Jackson State (17-14)  vs. #6 Grambling (11-20)  3:30 PM

#1 Texas Southern (19-11)  vs. #4 Alabama State (15-17)  9 PM

 

The Champion will probably be forced to play in the First Four.  Jackson State is on a mission after losing in the first round last year as the number one seed.

 

W A C—Las Vegas

Quarterfinal Round

#8 San Jose State  74  #4 Idaho 68

#3 New Mexico State  66  #6 Nevada  60

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State (28-3)  vs. #8 San Jose State (17-14)  9 PM

#2 Boise State (19-11)  vs. #3 New Mexico State (16-16)  11:30 PM  ESPN2

 

Utah State is in and should be the higher seed in their first round game.  If the Aggies are upset, then one more bubble will burst.  The one WAC team that beat USU (Idaho) was knocked out of the conference tournament yesterday.

March 10, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 10 Update

Two Newest Dance Participants

 

Northeast Conference Championship

Long Island  85  Robert Morris  82 ot

 

In what may have been the most exciting championship game of the season, the home-standing Blackbirds and visiting Colonials exchanged leads all night.  Two missed three-point shots in the final seconds, one at the buzzer, was all that prevented this game from going to double overtime.

 

LIU opened with a cold shooting hand, and RMU took the lead.  Once the Blackbirds started hitting their shots, this became a game of runs.  LIU had the hot hand in the second half, but RMU kept getting enough offensive rebounds to keep the Colonials in the game.

 

Jamal Olasewere had a game-high 31 points to go with 11 rebounds; he scored seven points in the overtime.  Team leader Julian Boyd was held to just seven points, but the Blackbirds had excellent showings off the bench.  Jason Brickman tossed in 15 points and dished out eight big assists, while Kenny Onyechi added 13 points.

 

Russell Johnson and Velton Jones teamed up for 42 points for the losers.

 

LIU will be a formidable opponent for their favored foe in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Their style of play could cause severe matchup problems for a bigger, slower team, especially if that team is not the strongest ball-handling team.  If they were to be bracketed against BYU in the first round, it would be the thriller of the first round. 

 

Big Sky Conference Championship

Northern Colorado  65  Montana  60

 

This game was anticlimactic following the NEC Championship.  Montana kept the pace slow, and the Grizzlies shot out to a 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes.  UNC made a run to take its first lead at 17-16 on a three-point shot by Tate Unruh.

 

The lead switched hands several times the remainder of the half with the buzzer sending the teams to the locker tied at 31-31.

 

Montana maintained a small lead for most of the second half, until star guard Devon Beitzel took over.  His three-pointer at the 4:56 mark gave the Bears the lead for good.  Beitzel continued shooting and then forced Montana to foul him, and the Bears hung on to win.

 

Beitzel did not score until late in the first half, but the Big Sky Conference’s leading scorer finished with 27 points.

 

Montana center Brian Qvale hit a layup with 16 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 62-60, but following two made Beitzel free throws, Art Steward committed a turnover to seal the game. 

 

Steward led the Grizzlies with 16 points, while Qvale added 11.

 

Northern Colorado will be one of those teams that will be glad just to be there at the NCAA Tournament.  The Bears should make a quick exit in game one, unless they are chosen as one of the First Four #16 seeds.

 

13 Automatic Qualifiers To Date

Team Conference Record
Arkansas-Little Rock Sunbelt 19-16
Belmont Atlantic South 30-4
Butler Horizon 23-9
Gonzaga West Coast 24-9
Indiana State Missouri Valley 20-13
Long Island Northeast 27-4
Morehead State Ohio Valley 24-9
Northern Colorado Big Sky 21-10
Oakland Summit 25-9
Old Dominion Colonial 27-6
St. Peter’s Metro Atlantic 20-13
UNC-Asheville Big South 19-13
Wofford Southern 21-12

 

No Championship Games Are Scheduled For Thursday

 

Wednesday’s Results/Thursday’s Schedule

All Times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

1st Round

#8 Virginia (16-14)  vs. #9 Miami (Fla) (18-13)  12 Noon

#5 Boston College (19-11)  vs. #12 Wake Forest (8-23)  Approx. 2:15 PM

#7 Maryland (18-13)  vs. #10 North Carolina State (15-15)  7 PM  ESPN2

#6 Virginia Tech (19-10)  vs. #11 Georgia Tech (13-17)  Approx. 9:15 PM

 

Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

1st Round

#9 Oklahoma State  53  #8 Nebraska  52

#5 Colorado  77  #12 Iowa State  75

#10 Oklahoma  84  #7 Baylor  67

#6 Missouri  88  #11 Texas Tech  84

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Oklahoma State (19-12)  vs. #1 Kansas (29-2)  12:30 PM on ESPN2

#5 Colorado (20-12)  vs. #4 Kansas State (22-9)  3PM

#10 Oklahoma (14-17) vs. #2 Texas (25-6)  7 PM

#6 Missouri (23-9) vs. #3 Texas A&M (23-7)  9:30 PM

 

Big East Conference—New York City

2nd Round

#9 Connecticut  79  #8 Georgetown 62

#5 St. John’s  65  #13 Rutgers 63

#7 Cincinnati  87  #15 South Florida 61

#11 Marquette  67  #6 West Virginia  61

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Connecticut (23-9)  vs. #1 Pittsburgh (27-4)  12 Noon  ESPN

#5 St. John’s (21-10)  vs. #4 Syracuse (25-6)  Approx. 2:15 PM  ESPN

#7 Cincinnati (25-7)  vs. #2 Notre Dame (25-5)  7 PM  ESPN

#11 Marquette (20-13)  vs. #3 Louisville (23-8)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN

 

Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

1st Round

#8 Northwestern (17-12)  vs. #9 Minnesota (17-13)  2:30 PM  ESPN2

#7 Michigan State (17-13)  vs. #10 Iowa (11-19)  4:50 PM  ESPN2

#6 Penn State (16-13)  vs. #11 Indiana (12-19)  7:30 PM  Big Ten Network

 

Big West Conference—Anaheim

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Long Beach State (20-10)  vs. #8 UC-Irvine (13-18)  3 PM

#4 Pacific (16-14)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (15-13)  5:20 PM

#2 Cal Poly (15-14)  vs. #7 UC-Riverside (11-18)  9 PM

#3 Cal State Northridge (13-17)  vs. #6 Cal State Fullerton (11-19)  11:20 PM

 

Conference USA—El Paso, TX

1st Round

#8 East Carolina  78  #9 Central Florida  60

#5 Southern Miss.  63  #12 Tulane  47

#6 Marshall  97  #11 Houston  87

#10 Rice  58  #7 S M U  57

 

Quarterfinal Round

#8 East Carolina (17-14)  vs. #1 U A B  (22-7)  1PM  CBSC

#5 Southern Miss (22-9)  vs. #4 Memphis (22-9)  3:30 PM  CBSC

#6 Marshall (22-10)  vs. #3 U T E P  (23-8)  7:30 PM  CBSC

#10 Rice (14-17)  vs. #2 Tulsa (18-12)  10 PM  CBSC

 

M A C—Cleveland

Quarterfinal Round

#7 Bowling Green (14-18)  vs. #2 Western Michigan (19-11)  12 Noon

#6 Akron (20-12)  vs. #3 Miami (O) (16-15)  2:30 PM

#8 Buffalo (18-12)  vs. #1 Kent State (21-10)  7 PM

#5 Ohio U (18-14)  vs. #4 Ball State (18-12)  9:30 PM

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Note: The MEAC has a unique scheduling format which rewards its top three seeds.  Thus, yesterday, there were both first round and quarterfinal round games scheduled.  The quarterfinal round concludes today.

 

1st Round

#6 Norfolk State  68  #11 Howard 53

 

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman  66  #9 South Carolina State 50

#2 Hampton  77  #10 Maryland-Eastern Shore  55

 

Quarterfinal Round Continues

#4 Morgan State (15-13)  vs. #5 North Carolina A&T (15-16)  8 PM

#3 Coppin State (16-13)  vs. #6 Norfolk State (11-19)  7 PM

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

1st Round

#9 T C U  70  #8 Wyoming  61

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 T C U (11-21)  vs. #1 Brigham Young (28-3)  3 PM

#5 New Mexico (20-11)  vs. #4 Colorado State (19-11)  5:30 PM

#7 Utah (13-17)  vs. #2 San Diego State (29-2)  9 PM

#6 Air Force (15-14)  vs. #3 U N L V  (23-7)  11:30 PM

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

1st Round

#9 Oregon State 69  #8 Stanford 67

#7 Oregon 76  #10 Arizona State 69

 

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Southern Cal (18-13)  vs. #5 California (17-13)  3 PM  Fox Sports

#1 Arizona (25-6)  vs. #9 Oregon State (11-19)  5:30 PM  Fox Sports

#2 U C L A  (22-9)  vs. #7 Oregon (15-16)  9 PM  Fox Sports

#3 Washington (20-10)  vs. #6 Washington State (19-11)  11:30 PM  Fox Sports

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

1st Round

#4E  Georgia (20-10)  vs. #5W  Auburn (11-19)  1 PM

#3W  Ole Miss (19-12)  vs. #6E  South Carolina (14-15)  3:30 PM

#4W  Arkansas (18-12)  vs. #5E  Tennessee (18-13)  7:30 PM

#3W  Vanderbilt (21-9)  vs. #6E L S U  (11-20)  10 PM

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#1 McNeese State 61  #8 Nicholls State 54

#4 Texas State 72  #5 Southeastern Louisiana 68

#7 Texas-San Antonio 97  #2 Northwestern State (LA) 96

#3 Sam Houston State 61  #6 Stephen F. Austin 45

 

Semifinal Round

#3 Sam Houston State (18-12)  vs. #7 Texas-San Antonio (17-13)  7 PM

#1 McNeese State (20-10)  vs. #4 Texas State (16-15)  9:30 PM

 

S W A C–Garland, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Texas Southern 50  #8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 45

#2 Jackson State 50  #7 Prairie View 38

 

Quarterfinal Round Continues

#3 Mississippi Valley (13-18)  vs. #6 Grambling (10-20)  12:30 PM

#4 Alabama State (14-17)  vs. #5 Alabama A&M (13-14) 9 PM

 

W A C—Las Vegas

1st Round

#8 San Jose State 75  #5 Hawaii 74

#6 Nevada 90  #7 Fresno State 80

 

2nd Round

#4 Idaho (18-12)  vs. #8 San Jose State (16-14)  3 PM  ESPNU

#3 New Mexico State (15-16)  vs. #6 Nevada (13-18)  5:30 PM  ESPNU

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.

February 18, 2011

Bracketbuster Preview and Conference Races

It’s Bracket Buster Weekend, and the folks at ESPN have an interesting slate of televised games.  Since the televised schedule for these games was released in late January, some of the teams involved have gone in the tank.  So, some of the games will not really matter.  However, there are a couple of really good games, and we believe in at least one and maybe two cases, both teams could earn at-large bids if they do not gain automatic bids.   

 

Today, we here at the PiRate Ratings will give you a preview of each televised game.  Following the preview, we will take our weekly look at each conference’s NCAA Tournament contenders and then present to you five bubble teams for comparison.

 

Last week we concentrated on the leagues that will send only their automatic bid winner to the Dance.  We reintroduced the PiRate Criteria formula, but we forgot one component.  So, here in a nutshell is the formula again.

 

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.

If Turnover margin is 0 or negative, then change the formula a little to this: [R + ({.2*S} + {1.2*T})] 

This is done so as not to penalize a team with negative turnover margin but a lot of steals per game.

 

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 ([(.5921-.5252)*100]=6.69 rounds to 7).

The Average SOS for teams in the top 40 is about .5880.  When you factor in the automatic bids from teams outside of the top 40, that number is about .5500.  So, take each teams SOS rating and take 100 times the difference from .5500 as the number for this item.

 

Example: if State U has a SOS of .5743, the difference is .0243; multiply by 100, and the result is 2.43 which rounds to 2.  If Tech has a SOS of .4878, the difference is -.0622; multiple by 100, and the result is -6.22 which rounds to -6.

 

7. Record Away From Home (road + neutral)

3 points for 75%+ winning percentage

2 points for 60-74% winning percentage

1 point for 51-59% winning percentage

0 points for 50% winning percentage

-2 points for less than 50% winning percentage

 

 

Let us take a look at the Bracket Buster. 

 

Friday, Feb. 18 (all times Eastern)
7 p.m. (ESPN2) – VCU (12-4/20-8) at Wichita State (13-3/22-5)

 

Team Virginia Commonwealth Wichita State
W-L 12-4/20-8 13-3/22-5
RPI 64 48
PPG Margin 4.7 12.2
FG% Margin -1.6 6.9
Reb Margin -3.5 9.3
TO Margin 3.9 -0.8
Stl/G 9.0 5.4
R+T 6.4 9.4
SOS .5124 .5215
Road W-L 9-6 8-4
PiRate # -3 9

Big Wins: VCU—UCLA       Wichita State—Virginia

 

VCU has lost three of their last five games, putting the Rams on the bad side of the bubble.

 

Wichita State lost narrowly to Connecticut and also lost to San Diego State and Missouri State.  The Shockers are on the middle of the bubble.  Their PiRate score of 9 shows they have a legitimate chance of advancing to the Sweet 16.

 

 

9 p.m. (ESPNU)—Kent State (8-3/17-8) at Drexel (9-7/17-9)

Team Kent State Drexel
W-L 8-3/17-8 9-7/17-9
RPI 94 81
PPG Margin 4.8 4.2
FG% Margin 2.9 1.6
Reb Margin 0.5 9.4
TO Margin 1.1 -1.8
Stl/G 8.1 4.0
R+T 2.6 8.0
SOS .4957 .5105
Road W-L 6-7 7-7
PiRate # -7 0

 

Big Wins: Kent—None          Drexel—Louisville, Old Dominion

 

Kent State’s best win was over #109 Iona.  We do not see any at-large bids going to team that have no top 100 wins.  Losses to Florida, UAB, and Cleveland State will not be good enough, and a road win in this game will do little to help.  Kent State must gain an automatic bid.  Their PiRate score of -7 puts them squarely within the parameters of the lesser post-season tournaments (NIT, College Insider Tournament {CIT}, or College Basketball Invitational {CBI}) .

 

Drexel is on the outside of the bubble, but they can work their way into the low rung by winning out.  The Dragons lost to Syracuse and George Mason.  Drexel shoots a poor 31.1% from behind the arc, but opponents shoot only 28%.  As you may know, we do not factor three-point percentage in the PiRate formula, as it has shown no positive relationship to advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament.

 
Saturday, Feb. 19
11 a.m. (ESPNU)—Hofstra (12-4/18-9) at Wright State (10-7/17-12) 

Team Hofstra Wright State
W-L 12-4/18-9 10-7/17-12
RPI 87 115
PPG Margin 1.2 2.7
FG% Margin 0.6 -3.0
Reb Margin -4.7 -3.8
TO Margin 2.2 3.9
Stl/G 6.7 6.3
R+T -1.2 [ELIMINATE] 2.1
SOS .5134 .5173
Road W-L 9-6 5-10
PiRate # -4 ELIMINATE -8

 

Big Wins: Hofstra—Drexel, George Mason               Wright State—Oakland, Butler

 

Hofstra has a negative R+T rating, so they would be considered easy first-round cannon fodder in the NCAA Tournament.  Of course, the PiRate Rating does not apply to regular season games, so they could easily beat Wright State tomorrow.

 

Wright State is not under consideration for an at-large bid, so this game is a dud.  It may be interesting, but both will have to win an automatic bid to get into the Dance.

 

1 p.m. (ESPNU)—Austin Peay (11-5/17-11) at Fairfield (14-2/21-5) 

Team Austin Peay Fairfield
W-L 11-5/17-11 14-2/21-5
RPI 132 101
PPG Margin 7.6 7.8
FG% Margin 3.6 4.2
Reb Margin 0.1 3.5
TO Margin 3.7 1.5
Stl/G 8.9 7.3
R+T 8.0 6.1
SOS .4821 .4465
Road W-L 9-8 11-3
PiRate # 1 -3

 

Big Wins: APSU—Morehead State               Fairfield—Vermont

 

Austin Peay was cruising at the first of conference play, but they have split their last 10 games.  They have no chance at garnering an at-large invitation, but they have a positive PiRate number.  Should they win the automatic bid, they could make their first round game very interesting.

 

Fairfield started 1-3 and has gone 20-2 since.  Their schedule is one of the weakest in the nation, and their gaudy numbers must be severely discounted.  The Stags are overwhelming favorites to win the MAAC Tournament and gain the automatic bid, but should they end up in the NIT, they have a chance to get to MSG.

 

3 p.m. (ESPNU)—Iona (11-5/17-10) at Liberty (13-3/19-9) 

Team Iona Liberty
W-L 11-5/17-10 13-3/19-9
RPI 112 131
PPG Margin 8.7 3.7
FG% Margin 2.5 0.4
Reb Margin 0.6 6.8
TO Margin 3.0 -0.9
Stl/G 7.5 7.0
R+T 6.0 7.1
SOS .4938 .4685
Road W-L 9-8 7-7
PiRate # 2 -6

 

Big Wins: Iona—Richmond               Liberty—None

 

Here are two more teams going nowhere unless they earn automatic bids.  Iona lost by six to Syracuse, so if the Gaels upset Fairfield to win the MAAC automatic bid, with their positive PiRate number, they could cause trouble for a higher-seeded opponent.

 

Liberty’s best win came against #170 UNC-Asheville.  They lost to Notre Dame by 21 and to George Mason by 30.  They will not be on the NIT’s radar if they fail to win the Big South’s automatic bid.

 

5 p.m. (ESPN2)—Missouri State (13-3/21-6) at Valparaiso (11-4/19-8)

Team Missouri State Valparaiso
W-L 13-3/21-6 11-4/19-8
RPI 49 54
PPG Margin 7.9 6.5
FG% Margin 2.5 6.3
Reb Margin 3.3 0.8
TO Margin 0.5 1.4
Stl/G 4.7 8.3
R+T 3.9 3.6
SOS .5121 .5308
Road W-L 7-5 9-6
PiRate # -1 2

 

Big Wins: MSU—Northern Iowa, Wichita State       Valpo—Oakland, Cleveland State, and Butler

 

This will be an interesting game.  Both teams are squarely on the bubble, and the winner should move up enough to be considered on the good side of the bubble. 

 

Missouri State plays smart basketball.  Their two best shooters take 23% of their shots.  A relatively low R+T rating and lower than average SOS give them a negative PiRate Rating.  Their only chance to advance to the weekend in the NCAA Tournament is a first round game with an opponent with a negative R+T rating.

 

Valparaiso goes nine-deep, and seven of the nine are competent rebounders.  They could scare a higher-seeded team in the opening round and possibly have a chance at an upset.  However, they don’t have a good enough rating to advance to the Sweet 16.  They still have work to do before they are guaranteed an at-large bid.

 

5 p.m. (ESPNU)—Vermont (13-2/22-5) at Charleston (12-2/19-7) 

Team Vermont College of Charleston
W-L 13-2/22-5 13-2/20-7
RPI 74 77
PPG Margin 7.6 7.8
FG% Margin 6.8 3.6
Reb Margin 6.2 -0.4
TO Margin 0.9 0.9
Stl/G 5.4 6.4
R+T 7.4 1.0
SOS .4693 .4885
Road W-L 10-4 10-6
PiRate # 0 -5

 

Big Wins: Vermont—Iona                  C of C—Coastal Carolina, Tennessee

 

This is the best Vermont team since the Catamounts upset Syracuse in the opening round of the 2005 tourney.  Still, with a PiRate rating of 0, they would have to face a higher-seeded team with a negative R+T Rating to have a shot at an upset this year.  Additionally, they are far back on the bubble and will most likely need to earn the automatic bid to get there.

 

College of Charleston is much in the same boat as Vermont, but whereas the Catamounts are the prohibitive favorite to secure the America East’s automatic bid, C of C is not even a small favorite to win the Southern Conference’s bid because North Division co-leader Chattanooga is hosting the SoCon Tournament.

 

7 p.m. (ESPN2)—George Mason (14-2/22-5) at Northern Iowa (10-6/19-9)

Team George Mason Northern Iowa
W-L 14-2/22-5 10-6/19-9
RPI 20 79
PPG Margin 13.0 4.0
FG% Margin 7.7 -1.2
Reb Margin 3.0 -0.3
TO Margin 2.6 2.3
Stl/G 6.9 4.8
R+T 7.3 2.3
SOS .5470 .5146
Road W-L 9-5 7-7
PiRate # 13 -8

 

Big Wins: GMU—Harvard, Duquesne, Drexel, James Madison, Hofstra, Old Dominion, and Virginia Commonwealth                                   Northern Iowa—New Mexico, Wichita State, and Missouri State

 

Could George Mason do it again?  The Patriots made a surprise run to the 2006 Final Four by upsetting Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, and Connecticut.  This year’s team could be better than that team.  With a 13 PiRate Rating, they have the numbers to get to the Sweet 16 and have a shot at the Elite Eight, and even another Final Four possibility.

 

Northern Iowa is not the team they were a year ago when they upset Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.  This team is likely not to earn an at-large bid and will be third choice at best to win the Missouri Valley Tournament in St. Louis.

 

9 p.m. (ESPN2)—Utah State (12-1/24-3) at Saint Mary’s (10-2/22-5)

Team Utah State Saint Mary’s
W-L 12-1/24-3 10-2/22-5
RPI 25 39
PPG Margin 13.9 15.3
FG% Margin 8.4 6.2
Reb Margin 8.9 5.6
TO Margin 2.0 2.2
Stl/G 4.5 7.0
R+T 11.1 9.3
SOS .5075 .5086
Road W-L 8-3 9-5
PiRate # 15 11

 

Big Wins: USU—Long Beach State              SMU—St. John’s, Long Beach State, and Gonzaga.

 

If you only plan on watching one Bracketbuster game, this is the one to watch.  Both teams are above the bubble; they are both close to lock status.  This game will be all about seeding.  The winner should find themselves a favorite in the opening round of the Big Dance.

 

Utah State lost at BYU by six and lost at Georgetown.  They don’t really have a big signature win this year, and this game gives them that opportunity.  The Aggies have balanced scoring with seven different players capable of leading the way.  Their 15 PiRate Rating indicate they are a strong contender for the Sweet 16 and even beyond.

 

Saint Mary’s was not too far from doing what Butler did last year.  This team was not supposed to be nearly as good as that one, but the Gaels find themselves in control in the WCC.  They rarely have an off-night shooting, and they can light up the scoreboard.    Their 11 PiRate Rating gives them a shot at returning to the Sweet 16.

 

11 p.m. (ESPN2)—Montana (11-3/19-7) at Long Beach State (11-2/16-10)

Team Montana Long Beach State
W-L 11-3/19-7 11-2/16-10
RPI 109 100
PPG Margin 8.5 9.0
FG% Margin 7.9 0.4
Reb Margin 2.3 2.9
TO Margin 1.1 -1.6
Stl/G 6.7 6.1
R+T 4.1 2.2
SOS .4635 .5109
Road W-L 6-6 8-8
PiRate # -3 -3

 

Big Wins: Montana—UCLA              LBSU—None

 

This is another game where neither team has any chance of earning an at-large bid, while both teams are the favorites to win their respective league’s post-season tournament and automatic bid.

 

Montana has come from behind to race past Northern Colorado and Weber State to take command in the Big Sky Conference race.  Their schedule is exceptionally weak.  Ten of the Grizzlies’ wins have come against teams ranked #250 or worse in the RPI.

 

Long Beach State has five double figure scorers.  Five of their 10 losses came to teams that could be in the Big Dance (San Diego State, Washington, Utah State, North Carolina, and Saint Mary’s).  With a negative PiRate Rating, their only shot at playing two games in the NCAA Tournament would be to face an opening round opponent with a negative R+T Rating.

 

Sunday, Feb. 20
1 p.m. (ESPN2)—Cleveland State (12-4/23-5) at Old Dominion (12-4/21-6)

 

Team Cleveland State Old Dominion
W-L 12-4/23-5 12-4/21-6
RPI 34 31
PPG Margin 9.3 6.7
FG% Margin 3.4 2.4
Reb Margin 0.9 11.1
TO Margin 2.7 -0.7
Stl/G 7.5 7.0
R+T 5.8 11.7
SOS .5165 .5460
Road W-L 9-4 9-4
PiRate # 4 9

 

Big Wins: CSU—Kent State, Valparaiso                   ODU—Clemson, Xavier, Richmond, Dayton, George Mason, Hofstra, James Madison, and VCU

 

Here we have two teams that appear to be in great shape for an at-large bid should they fail to win the automatic bid from their conference.

 

You will want to watch this Sunday game, because Cleveland State plays a pressure-type game similar to Marquette when Al McGuire was head coach.  The Vikings’ star is Norris Cole, who can shoot, drive, pass, and play defense better than most others.

 

Old Dominion has played the equivalent schedule of a major conference team.  Short of a major collapse, the Monarchs are close to a lock for an at-large bid.  Their only liability is weak outside shooting.  However, they are among the best rebounding teams in the nation, and they don’t allow many open shots.  Expect a low-scoring, but high-action game.

 

The Who’s In Game

 

America East:  (1)—The conference tournament champion will get the lone bid.  Vermont is too far down the list to steal an at-large bid from a major conference.  However, the Catamounts should win this automatic bid.

BUBBLE—None

 

Atlantic 10: (2 or 3)—Xavier and Temple should get bids, and if another team wins the league tournament, three invitations could be extended. 

BUBBLE—Dayton and Richmond

 

Atlantic Coast: (3-6)—Duke and North Carolina are sure things, but after that there is a logjam.  At least one other ACC team will get a bid, and Boston College is the leader of the pack.  For this week’s story, we will consider the Eagles in and not on the bubble.

BUBBLE—Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Miami

 

Atlantic Sun: (1)—There is a remote possibility that Belmont could enter the conversation for an at-large bid should the Bruins win out but come up a game short in the conference tournament, but for now, we believe only one team will represent the A-Sun.  If Belmont does not win the automatic bid, it will be a major upset.

BUBBLE—None

 

Big 12: (5-7)—The top two teams have been dominating, while the rest of the pack has been beating each other up.  Kansas, Texas, and Texas A&M are locks, while Missouri and Kansas State are in good shape.

BUBBLE—Oklahoma State and Baylor

 

Big East: (9-11)—The Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden could actually be more potent than one or two of the NCAA Regionals.  At least nine teams must be considered realistic contenders for a Final Four spot.  Those nine shoo-ins for a bid are: Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Connecticut, St. John’s, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, and Louisville. 

BUBBLE—Cincinnati and Marquette

 

Big Sky: (1)—There is no chance for an at-large invitation from this conference.  Montana is the top team in the league, but the Grizzlies are not strong favorites.

 

Big South: (1)—Coastal Carolina is a bit too far back in the RPI ratings to move onto the bubble, but the Chanticleers are overwhelming favorites to win the automatic bid.

 

Big Ten: (4-8)—The second most powerful conference to the Big East, this conference could land as many as eight teams in the NCAA Tournament.  Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Illinois are in as of today.  The four bubble teams’ schedules are among the strongest of all bubble teams.

BUBBLE—Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State, and Michigan

 

 Big West: (1)—Long Beach State is too far back to make up enough ground; their bubble will burst if the 49ers do not win the conference tournament in nearby Anaheim.

 

Colonial: (2 or 3)—George Mason and Old Dominion are both near-locks, and we have them in the field.  If another team pulls off the upset in the conference tournament, this league will have three representatives.  Virginia Commonwealth has a chance to move onto the bubble, especially if they win at Wichita State tonight.

 

Conference USA: (2-5)—UAB and Memphis have earned a spot in the Dance if they continue to play at their same pace.  Three other teams are on the bubble with legitimate shots at playing their way into the at-large group.

BUBBLE—Southern Mississippi, UTEP, and Marshall

 

Horizon: (1-3)—We are rather confident that at least two teams will earn bids from the Horizon League, but we have two of them listed as bubble teams for now.  Cleveland State is ranked high enough to be ahead of the bubble for now.

BUBBLE—Butler and Valparaiso

 

IVY: (1 or 2)The Ivy League has never sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament, but there is a very outside chance that it could happen this year.  There is no conference tournament, so the regular season champion gets the automatic bid.  Princeton (9-0) leads Harvard (9-1) and Yale (5-3).  The Tigers play at Yale and Brown, while Harvard plays at Cornell and Columbia this weekend.  Yale hosts Penn tomorrow night after facing Princeton tonight.  The number two team needs to be at least 11-3 to be a serious contender for an at-large bid.

BUBBLE—Harvard/Princeton whichever finishes second

 

MAAC:(1)—Fairfield is not in contention for an at-large bid, so the Stags will have to win the conference tournament to get into the Dance.

 

MAC: (1)—This once proud conference has joined the field of also-rans.  No MAC team ranks in the top 90 in the RPI ratings.  Miami (Ohio), Kent State, and Buffalo are the top three contenders for the automatic bid.

 

MEAC: (1)—Morgan State is not a sure thing this year, not even the top favorite.  Hampton is playing well enough to avoid a First Four game.

 

Missouri Valley: (1 or 2)—The MVC is a tad bit down this season.  The conference tournament champion could be the only team to emerge with a bid, if it is the regular season champion and if the numbers two and three teams lose before reaching the championship round.  Wichita State appears to be the favorite for now, but that could change.

BUBBLE—Missouri State and Northern Iowa

 

Mountain West: (3-5)—Not only could the MWC earn five bids, two teams could be number one or two seeds!  BYU and San Diego State have proven themselves this season.  They are currently number two and three respectively in the RPI Ratings.  UNLV is maybe the lowest-ranked team in the near-lock range.  The bubble aligns just behind the Rebels.

BUBBLE—Colorado State and New Mexico

 

Northeast: (1)—Long Island is ranked #98 in the RPI, but that is too low to qualify for bubble status.  The Blackbirds will only go dancing if they win the conference tournament.

 

Ohio Valley: (1)—Murray State and Morehead State are tied at 12-4.  Morehead has won eight games in a row, including an impressive win at rival Eastern Kentucky.  The Eagles’ big man, Kenneth Faried, averages 17.5 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.

 

Pac-10: (2-4)—Arizona is the only sure thing, but for this week’s list, we will include UCLA as well.  This league still has a long way to go to regain its lost prestige.

BUBBLE—Washington and Washington State

 

Patriot: (1)—Bucknell is the favorite over American, but it is not by much. 

 

Southeastern: (4-6)—There is no dominant team in the SEC this year, and the conference tournament should be almost as entertaining as the Big East Tournament.  Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Tennessee are in.  One or two more could work their way in.

BUBBLE—Georgia, Alabama, and Ole Miss

 

Southern: (1)—There is no Stephen Curry-led Davidson teams in the league this year.  Chattanooga must be considered the slight favorite, because the Mocs host the SoCon Tournament.  Western Carolina, College of Charleston, Wofford, and Furman are the top contenders.

 

Southland: (1)—This is the most open race for the lone automatic bid.  The SLC sends the top eight teams to its conference tournament, and there is not much difference in the top eight.  Draw one out of a hat.

 

SWAC: (1)—This league has become a regular in the play-in round, and with it now expanded to the First Four, you can expect to see the SWAC representative in Dayton again this season.  Texas Southern and Jackson State are the only two teams with won-loss records above .500.

 

Summit: (1)—Oakland is the highest-rated team not on our bubble.  At #73, we just do not believe the Golden Grizzlies can lose another game and have a shot at an at-large bid.

 

Sunbelt: (1)—Florida Atlantic represents the SBC’s only chance to avoid a #15 or #16 seed.  This league is suffering through an off year.

 

West Coast: (1 or 2)—Saint Mary’s is a lock for an at-large bid.  If they should happen to lose in the WCC Tournament, this league will send two teams. 

BUBBLE—Gonzaga

 

WAC: (1 or 2)—Utah State is in the same boat as Saint Mary’s, but it will be a much bigger upset if the Aggies do not waltz through their conference tournament and earn the automatic bid.

 

According to our math, we have 57 spots going to automatic bids and locks for at-large bids.  That leaves 11 spots for upset conference tournament winners and the bubble.

February 11, 2011

This Week’s Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Races

Today, we here at the PiRate Ratings begin our coverage of NCAA Men’s Basketball.  In what has become our most followed sport, we have generated a little publicity with our PiRate NCAA Tournament rating system.

 

In past years, we waited until Selection Sunday to re-issue our system, but this year we have chosen to release it early so you the reader can have time to familiarize yourself with it.  We will also apply it to a couple of teams every week to give you some time to play with the ratings.

 

Remember this:  this rating is only good in the NCAA Tournament and cannot (REPEAT CANNOT) be used in the regular season or even in conference tournaments.  It has been back-tested for decades and has proven to locate the serious contenders from the so-called contenders and pretenders.

 

How good has this rating been for us:  Let’s start with 2009-10.  Kansas and Kentucky were the overwhelming favorites to face off for the championship.  Our ratings said they would not make it there.  We would love to say we chose Butler to make it to the Final Four, but we did not (although we rated them highly).  We did choose Duke to run the table and win the title, as they had the highest criteria score.

 

We picked North Carolina, Kansas, and Florida to win their national titles as well, and we even hit on George Mason to make a surprise run the year they advanced to the Final Four. 

 

To put it bluntly, we are due for a major failure this year.  Our football predictions were just too accurate.  Our luck has to run out at some point?  Well, we can talk about our Kentucky Derby picks in recent years.  Maybe, that is the balancing point.

 

Without further adieu, here is our criteria for finding the top teams in the NCAA Tournament, what we call Bracketnomics 505.

 

Bracketnomics 505–The Advanced Level Class

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. 

There have been a couple of seasons where the criteria didn’t apply successfully, but over the course of the 55 seasons, it has performed accurately about 47 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 into the tournament’s second week.

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 as the days when rebounds were first recorded.  The teams that consistently control the boards are the ones that advance  in 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 that 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 and in the case of Georgetown and Vanderbilt in 2010, a team that will lose in the first round to mid-majors with much better R+T ratings.

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’ criteria ratings lose points.  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 or at realtimerpi.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 4.35 more points at the foul line than a team with one of the worst.  That is not many points to make up, and when you consider that this is about the maximum possible difference, this stat is not all that important.  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 get 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 rating ***

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.

 

If you have read this far, you are now a bracketonomist.

 

We will show you how this works in a bit.

 

A Look At The One-Bid Conferences

 

As we see it today, 18 conferences have no shot at landing more than one team in the NCAA Tournament.  Five other conferences have one dominant team that could earn an at-large bid if they fail to win the automatic bid.  These conferences will only send one team if the prohibitive favorite wins their conference tournament.

 

Today, we will concentrate on those 18 definite one-bid conferences.  We will look at the stronger mid-majors next Friday on the eve of Bracket Buster Weekend.

 

America East Conference

Vermont 11-2/20-5 and Maine 8-4/14-10 are the class of the league.  Maine won at Vermont72-58, but the Catamounts have a nearly insurmountable lead.  Vermont led Connecticut at the half earlier this year before losing by 16.  You can see them next Saturday in the televised part of the Bracket Buster when they play at College of Charleston.

 

Maine hosts Vermont next Wednesday, but even a win and sweep may not be enough to overtake the Catamounts.

 

The tournament’s first four rounds takes place in Hartford, CT with the championship scheduled for the higher seeded team’s home floor.

 

Boston U 8-4/13-13 is another team to watch.

 

Atlantic Sun Conference

Belmont 14-1/22-4 would have a shot at an at-large bid if not for a lousy last-minute turnover that cost them a chance to win at Tennessee.  The Bruins lost twice at Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, and at rival Lipscomb.  They beat second place East Tennessee 12-3/17-9 by 10 and swept third place Jacksonville 10-4/16-7.  Before losing at fourth place Lipscomb 10-6/15-10, they beat the Bisons 88-52.

 

East Tennessee hosts Jacksonville tonight in Johnson City.  The Buccaneers beat the Dolphins in Jacksonville earlier this year.  ETSU beat Mississippi State in Starkville in December, while Jacksonville has road wins against Florida and Auburn.

 

Lipscomb lost close games at North Carolina and Baylor, and the Bisons have the talent to make it to the conference finals if they can put it all together.  However, they won’t get there from the four hole.

 

The A-Sun tournament takes place in Macon, Georgia, at Mercer.  Eight of the 11 teams qualify.  If Belmont loses, it will be an upset.  The Bruins have the talent to give this league an upset in the opening round; Belmont came within a last-second missed shot of upsetting Duke a few years ago.

 

Big Sky Conference

This conference does not have a mini-powerhouse this year like in past years.  Four teams, Northern Colorado 10-2/14-9, Montana 9-3/17-7, Weber State 7-4/13-9, and Northern Arizona 6-5/14-9, have the talent to win the lone bid.

 

Northern Colorado goes to Montana tomorrow.  They clobbered the Grizzlies by 18 earlier.  UNC already split with Weber State and lost at Northern Arizona.

 

Montana owns wins over UCLA and Oregon State.  They split with Weber State and Northern Arizona.  You can see them on TV in the Bracket Buster next week at Long Beach State.  We believe they can run the table in conference play and earn the top seed.

 

Weber State blew Northern Arizona off the floor by 27 points last night to complete the season’s sweep.  They gave BYU a close game earlier in the season.

 

Northern Arizona was the hot team before last night.  They took Arizona to the wire in Tucson earlier this season, but they are too far back to contend for top seed.

 

The Big Sky Tournament first round takes place on the home courts of the higher-seeded teams.  The semifinals and finals will be played on the home court of the regular season champion.  Only six teams qualify, with the top two seeds getting a bye to the semifinals.  Northern Colorado, Weber State, and Montana all enjoy excellent home court advantages, and this conference rarely has any post-season surprises. 

 

Big South Conference

This is a story of one dynamo and four or five minor contenders.  Coastal Carolina is 14-0/23-2 under venerable coach Cliff Ellis.  The two losses were on the road to Georgetown and College of Charleston.  The Chanticleers carry a 21-game winning streak into the weekend.

 

CCU already swept second place Liberty 12-2/18-8.  They travel to third place Winthrop tomorrow, and a win could allow the Chants to run the table and finish the regular season 28-2.

 

UNC-Asheville 7-6/12-11 and Charleston Southern 7-7/13-13 don’t have the talent to beat CCU.  The one team that could sneak up and surprise the leaders and make a run to the title is VMI 6-8/13-11.  The Keydets average 91 points per game, and in a conference tournament, their loose style of play could give them a chance.

 

The Big South Tournament is played on the home court of the higher-seeded teams all the way through the championship.  We cannot see somebody upsetting CCU, and the Chants will not be an easy out in the Big Dance.

 

Big West

The Big West is down this year, and it hasn’t exactly been all that up in recent years.  We believe any of the top five could win the conference tournament.

 

Long Beach State 9-2/14-10 is not nearly as strong as they were a couple years ago when they won the conference tournament.  Their two losses in league play were to sixth place Cal State Fullerton and last place UC-Irvine.  The 49ers beat Iowa and played North Carolina and St. Mary’s close, but they are not consistent.  You can watch them on Bracket Buster weekend as they face Montana.

 

Cal Poly 7-4/12-11 plays football on the basketball floor.  They win ugly with an annoying defense and patient offense.  They gave San Diego State a rough game before losing 51-45.

 

Cal State Northridge 7-4/10-14 hosts Long Beach State tomorrow, and we believe the Matadors will pull off the upset.  Lenny Daniel (15.9 ppg/9.4 rpg) is a dominating power forward in a forward-dominated league.  CSN is hot, having won five of six.

 

UC-Santa Barbara 6-5/13-9 owns a win at UNLV.  The Gauchos have not lived up to expectations this year, but they have the potential to get hot and go on a roll at the tournament.  Orlando Johnson (21.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.1 ast/g) is the league’s best player. 

 

Keep an eye on Pacific 5-5/13-10.  The Tigers lost twice to LBSU by one point and could get a third try in a conference semifinal.  Sam Willard averages a double-double (15/11).

 

The Big West Tournament takes place in Anaheim with eight of the nine teams participating.

 

Horizon League

This should be quite an interesting conference tournament.  Butler 9-5/17-9 was supposed to waltz through the league again after going 18-0 last year.  The Bulldogs sit in a fourth place tie with four games to go.  However, Butler has won three games in a row including wins at Cleveland State 10-4/21-5 and against Wright State 10-5/17-10, two of the three teams ahead of the Bulldogs.

 

An old regular in the Big Dance, Valparaiso 10-3/18-7 rests in first place, after winning 12 of their last 15.  Watch them on TV in next weekend’s Bracket Buster, when Valpo hosts Missouri State.

 

Cleveland State began the season 12-0.  The Vikings style of play (100% full-court pressure defense and drive to the basket offense) is tough to prepare for, but it appears the team could be hitting the wall.  If CSU can take the #1 seed, they will be very tough to dethrone on their home floor.

 

UW-Milwaukee 9-5/14-11 is tied with Butler, but their schedule is the most unfavorable of the contenders.  The Panthers finish with three road games.

 

The conference tournament begins on the home floor of the #3-4-5-6 seeds with the top two seeds receiving byes.  The quarterfinals and semifinals take place on the home floor of the #1 seed, and the championship game will be played on the higher-seeded participant’s home floor. 

 

Ivy League

This league is the one holdout on a postseason conference tournament, so the regular season champion receives the automatic bid.  Until recently, this was a two-team race every year, but now it is more open.  Princeton 5-0/17-4 and Penn 3-2/9-10 are still very much in the running for the crown, but the two elitist of the elite, Harvard 5-1/16-4 and Yale 4-2/11-9, are very much in the race.

 

We believe Harvard has the inside track at winning the league title.  Princeton’s five conference wins were all home games, and the Tigers must play at Harvard, Yale, and Penn, closing with Harvard and Penn.  The Crimson won at Penn.

 

Yale and Harvard have yet to square off, and if one sweeps the other, it will probably be enough to grab the Ivy crown.  If they split, then we believe Harvard is the team to beat.

 

Penn, like Princeton, has played a majority of their games at home.  The Quakers finish with six road games in their final nine.

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

The MAAC is loaded with decent, albeit not great mid-major teams.  Fairfield 11-2/18-5 leads St. Peter’s 9-4/14-10 and Rider 9-4/17-8, but their real advantage comes in the conference tournament, where they will be the host team.  The Stags play at St. Peter’s Sunday trying to go for the sweep after winning 70-43 in Bridgeport earlier this year.  Fairfield hosts Austin Peay in the televised part of the Bracket Buster.

 

St. Peter’s plays great in-your-face defense.  They were good enough to beat Alabama.  However, their offense can disappear for several minutes.

 

Rider actually won at Fairfield this year, so the Broncos are not to be overlooked.  They also upset Southern Cal.

 

Iona 8-5/14-10 and Loyola (Md.) 8-5/12-11 must be considered contenders.  Iona has the best offense in the league and took Fairfield to the buzzer in Bridgeport.  Loyola beat the Stags at home, and the Greyhounds have an easy schedule to finish the regular season.  They have a shot at running the table to head to Webster Bank Arena at 13-5 in the league.

 

Mid-American Conference

This league used to be considered one of the top mid-major conferences and used to send multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament every year.  Now, not only will it be a one-team league, that team could even find itself playing in Dayton in the First Four if an upset winner emerges with the bid!

 

The MAC has no wins against the top 25 this year.  The top eight teams make it to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and none of the eight can be considered much of a favorite.

 

We expect those eight teams to be Kent State 7-2/16-7, Buffalo 7-3/15-7, Bowling Green 7-3/12-12, Miami (O) 7-3/12-12, Akron 5-5/14-10, Ohio U 5-5/12-12 (the entire East Division) as well as Ball State 6-4/14-9 and Western Michigan 5-4/12-10 from the West.

 

Kent State has won six games in a row.  The Golden Flashes host Buffalo on February 24 after losing by 25 at Buffalo earlier.

 

Buffalo has the best statistical numbers.  The Bulls gave BYU a good game before losing.

 

Bowling Green began the season 2-9, but the Falcons have gone 10-3 since.  BGSU won at Buffalo

 

Miami has won three in a row, and the Redhawks have the most favorable closing schedule.

 

Ball State was cruising in the West before losing five of their last six games.  Western Michigan hosts five of their final eight games including a crucial game against the Cardinals.

 

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Morgan State 7-3/11-10 has not run away from the pack like in recent years.  In fact, the Bears are not in first place at this moment.  The team that finished 2010 on a roll, Hampton 8-2/18-5, has overtaken Todd Bozeman’s cagers.

 

Morgan State has the easier closing schedule, so there is a chance the Bears will finish on top again.

 

Bethune-Cookman 7-3/13-11 and Coppin State 6-4/11-11 were not expected to contend this season, but they have been surprises.  BCU had won eight of nine games until losing to Coppin State and Morgan State.  Coppin State has the best offense in the league.

 

The MEAC Tournament takes place in Winston-Salem at Wake Forest.  The top two seeds receive an opening round bye and then get a day off if they win.

 

Northeast Conference

Brooklyn’s team, Long Island University 11-2/19-5, is the hot team this year.  Julian Boyd’s return after missing a season due to a heart condition has been the difference.  Boyd has recorded seven double-doubles this year including a 34-point, 16-rebound performance against Fairleigh-Dickinson.  The Blackbirds have won five in a row and 13 of 14 games.

 

Central Connecticut State 10-3/17-7 has won seven games in a row by an average margin of 13.1 points per game.  The Blue Devils also welcome back a player that missed all of 2010.  Ken Horton averages 19 points and nine boards a game.  He has nine double-doubles this year.

 

Wagner 8-5/12-12, Mount St. Mary’s 8-5/10-16, and Quinnipiac 8-5/16-8 are the best of the rest.  Quinnipiac has underperformed after being picked to repeat as regular season champs by many publications.

 

Keep an eye on Robert Morris 7-6/11-13.  The Colonials have won the previous two conference tournaments, and they have underachieved as much as Quinnipiac.

 

The NEC tournament takes place on the home courts of the higher-seeded teams.  This conference does not have a set bracket, choosing to send the lowest remaining seeds to the highest remaining seeds much like is done in the NFL Playoffs.

 

Ohio Valley Conference

The cream has risen to the top in this conference.  Murray State 11-3/19-6 is on a 15-2 run that has seen the Racers pass three teams to surge into first place.  This is a balanced team with the ability to go 10-deep.

 

Morehead State 10-4/18-8 has the big hoss of the league.  Kenneth Faried averages 17.1 points and 14.2 rebounds per game.  The Eagles are on a 12-2 run, but they must finish with three of four on the road, including a trip to rival Eastern Kentucky 8-6/14-11.

 

Austin Peay 9-5/15-11 began conference play at 6-0, but the Governors have hit on rough times.  They are the lone OVC team to appear on TV in the Bracket Buster, playing at Fairfield.

 

Tennessee Tech 9-6/13-11 is having one of its better seasons in years, but the Golden Eagles could be looking at having to play Murray State in a semifinal round game in the tournament.  If they can finish strong and gain the number three seed, then their chances improve greatly.

 

The OVC Tournament takes place in Nashville with the top eight teams qualifying.  The #3 and #4 seeds get one bye, while the top two seeds get byes to the semifinals.  Murray State and Morehead State would make a great championship game.

 

Patriot League

Bucknell 8-1/17-8 is the clear-cut cream of the crop in the league this season.  The Bison have the talent to win an NCAA Tournament game. 

 

American 6-3/16-8 has some streaky shooters that can get hot and knock an opponent out. 

 

Lafayette 5-4/10-14 is the only other team with a winning conference record, but they should not be considered a contender.  It would be a big upset if Bucknell and American failed to meet for the conference championship.

 

The Patriot League Tournament is strictly a higher-seed hosts tournament.  Bucknell should be considered one of the biggest favorites in Division I to win a conference tournament.

 

Southern Conference

This is not an exceptionally strong year in the SoCon this year.  Chattanooga 10-3/14-11 has won all seven home conference games, which is a good sign; they host the league tournament.

 

Western Carolina 7-5/11-13 is the only team capable of removing the Mocs from the top spot in the North Division.  They too are 7-0 at home in conference play.

 

In the South, College of Charleston 11-2/18-7 leads a tight race with Furman 10-4/18-7 and Wofford 10-4/13-12 on their heels.

 

Charleston has the league’s top player in guard Andrew Goudelock, who averages better than 24 points per game.  The Cougars took North Carolina to the wire at the Dean Dome, and they won at Tennessee.  They narrowly missed the upset at Maryland, losing by one.  If they can top Chattanooga on their home floor, they have the only legitimate shot of winning in the Big Dance.

 

Southland Conference

This conference sends the top eight teams to the postseason tournament.  This year, any one of the eight we believe will earn a trip could win it.  In the East, Northwestern State 7-3/15-10 leads the entire league after winning three in a row and five of six games.  They are a quick-spurt team that relies on forcing turnovers and scoring quickly. 

 

McNeese State 5-3/13-8 and Southeast Louisiana 5-4/11-10 should make the field of eight as well.  McNeese is a surprise contender thanks to the double-double average of P. J. Alawoya.  SELA relies on the three-point shooting of Trent Hutchins.

 

The West has five good but not great teams.  Texas State 6-3/11-12 leads by a game over the other four.  The Bobcats can score points quickly when they are on their game, but they can give them up even quicker when they are not.

 

Stephen F. Austin 5-4/14-7, Sam Houston 5-4/12-10, Texas-San Antonio 5-4/12-10, and Texas-Arlington 5-4/11-11 are all in the hunt for the West title.  Each team has its own unique set of assets and liabilities.  If we had to choose a favorite for the tournament, it would be Sam Houston.

 

The tournament takes place in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston.  It should be exciting.

 

Southwest Athletic Conference

This league has become a regular in the play-in round, and with four teams hoping to become #16 seeds this year, you can expect the SWAC to supply a participant in the First Four this season.

 

Texas Southern 9-1/11-10 plays at Jackson State 9-2/13-10 tomorrow.  Mississippi Valley State 8-3/9-15 is much better than their overall won-loss record indicates, and Alabama A&M 7-4/10-10 has the talent to win three games in three days.

 

Mississippi Valley has played possibly the most difficult out of conference slate of any team in the SWAC in decades.  Included in their pre-conference schedule were: Georgia, St. Mary’s, BYU, Butler, Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Marquette.

 

The SWAC tournament takes place in Garland, Texas, (A Dallas-Ft. Worth suburb).  The top two seeds get a day off if they win their first game.

 

Summit League

Flying under the radar screen, Oakland 12-1/17-9, has the talent to pull off a first round upset in the NCAA Tournament.  The Golden Grizzlies are a high-scoring team that almost won at Michigan State and won at Tennessee.  Big man Keith Benson averages 17.3 points and 9.9 rebounds a game.  He went for 22 and 22 against Austin Peay.

 

IUPUI 9-4/15-11 ended Oakland’s 10-game winning streak with a 100-88 win.  The Jaguars gave Ohio State a major scare earlier this season in Columbus.  After going into halftime tied at 35-35, the Jags went on a run and took a 50-41 lead until Jared Sullinger went wild and finished with 40 points.

 

IPFW 9-4/16-8 took Xavier to overtime and narrowly lost at Cincinnati in their next game.  The Mastodons play at Oakland tomorrow.

 

Oral Roberts 9-5/12-14 and South Dakota State 8-6/16-9 represent the best of the rest.  SDSU averages 82 points per game and benefits from the conference tournament being held in-state in Sioux Falls.

 

Sunbelt Conference

This looks to be a down year in the SBC, and we cannot see any of the teams having a chance to win a first round NCAA Tournament game (unless, of course they fall to a #16 First Four participant).

 

In the East, Florida Atlantic 10-2/18-8 has already surpassed their win total of last year.  The Owls are the only team in the league with a winning record away from home, so that bodes well for tournament play.  FAU has already swept second place Middle Tennessee 8-4/13-12, but the Blue Raiders are the hot team in the league riding a four-game winning streak.

 

In the West, Denver 8-3/12-12 has gone 10-3 since opening at 2-9.  The Pioneers play the old Princeton offense under former Princeton star Joe Scott.

 

Arkansas State 8-4/14-13 is 11-0 at home and has won four games in a row.  They beat Denver 60-35 in Jonesboro, but they lost 74-36 at Denver.

 

Louisiana-Lafayette 6-5/9-14 has responded well to Coach Bob Marlin, who made Sam Houston a perennial contender in the Southland.

 

North Texas 5-5/16-7 has been a major disappointment.  The Mean Green was supposed to run away with the league title this year.

 

The Sunbelt Conference Tournament takes place once again in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Unique to this conference is that they utilize two gymnasiums due to the fact that the men and women both play at the same time.  The two gyms are close enough apart so that fans can make it back and forth in time to not miss any of the action.

 

These 18 conferences make up 18 of the 68 teams that will go to the NCAA Tournament.  What about the other 50?

 

Let’s start with five conferences that have a possibility of sending two teams to the Dance but will only send one if the favorite wins.  The Colonial (George Mason), Conference USA (Alabama-Birmingham), Missouri Valley (Missouri State), West Coast Conference (St. Mary’s), and WAC (Utah State) will send an extra team if there is an upset.  Let’s say that two of the five favorites will fail to win their conference tournament.  That means seven teams from these five conferences will get a bid.

 

That leaves us with 43 teams.  From this number, let us give you the 23 teams that have already become locks for the tournament: Duke, North Carolina, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Villanova, Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arizona, Kentucky, Florida, BYU, San Diego State, and Xavier are sure things.

 

That leaves 20 teams to get invitations.  We have a list of about 30-35 teams to form our first bubble.

 

Those teams include:

Temple, Richmond, and Duquesne from the Atlantic 10.

 

Boston College, Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech from the ACC.

 

Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor from the Big 12.

 

St. John’s, Cincinnati, and Marquette from the Big East.

 

Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan State from the Big Ten.

 

Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth from the Colonial.

 

Memphis and Southern Miss from CUSA.

 

Wichita State and Northern Iowa from the Missouri Valley.

 

UNLV, Colorado State, and New Mexico from the Mountain West.

 

Washington and UCLA from the Pac-10.

 

Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Ole Miss from the SEC.

 

 

A PiRate Bracketnomics Criteria Score For Two Teams

 

Today, we will look at two of the one-bid conference teams to see if they have a legitimate chance to pull off an upset.

 

For comparison purposes, the average Strength of Schedule for the top 50 teams is about .5880 or 58.8 points

 

1. Coastal Carolina 23-2 overall

Scoring Margin—15.9 points per game 5 pts

 

FG% Margin—9.9% 3 pts

 

Rebound Margin—7.5 3 pts

 

Turnover Margin—2.3 1 pt

 

Steals/G—7.4

 

R+T—11.58 5 pts

 

Strength of Schedule—.4608 or 46.1 points -12.7 pts

 

Total Score—4.3

 

This is a high enough score to win a first round game in the NCAA Tournament and compete for a Sweet 16 spot.  Of course, if the opponent has a negative R+T score, then CCU would be our favorite.

 

2. Cleveland State 21-5 overall

Scoring Margin—9.6 points per game 3 pts

 

FG% Margin—3.4% 0 pts

 

Rebound Margin—0.5 0 pts

 

Turnover Margin—2.9 1 pt

 

Steals/G—7.6

 

R+T—5.79 1 pt

 

Strength of Schedule–.5176 or 51.8 points (-7 pts)

 

Total Score—(-2)

 

Cleveland State would not be considered a legitimate threat to upset a big team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, unless their opponent has a negative R+T rating.

 

December 6, 2010

PiRate Ratings For College Football: Final Regular Season

Have To Wait A Day

Normally, we would post how well our picks fared against the spread, but we must wait one day because the Monday Night Football game is part of a parlay.  Check back tomorrow to see how we did.

 

NCAA PiRate Simulated Playoffs Return

In what has been one of our most popular pieces, the NCAA Football Simulated Playoffs will return later this week.  For those of you new to this blog, we have access to a powerful computer simulator that we have used in the past to simulate real games, such as the bowls and the NFL playoffs.  It has been surprisingly accurate, especially in picking Super Bowl scores.

 

Here is how the PiRate Computer Simulated NCAA Playoffs work.  We choose to go with a 12-team playoff.  We take the winners of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC and give them automatic bids.

 

Any other conference champions that finish in the top 16 of the BCS Standings also receive an automatic bid.  Then, at-large teams are selected based on BCS Standings until 12 teams have been selected.

 

Here are your 2010-11 NCAA Simulated Playoff Teams:

 

Automatic Qualifiers

ACC Champion: Virginia Tech

Big East Champion: Connecticut

Big Ten Champion: Wisconsin

Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma

Pac-10 Champion: Oregon

SEC Champion: Auburn

 

Two other teams received automatic bids for winning (or finishing tied in) their conference and placing in the top 16 of the BCS Standings.

 

Mountain West Champion: T C U

WAC co-Champion: Boise State

 

This leaves four spaces for at-large teams.

 

At-large: Stanford

At-large: Ohio State

At-large: Arkansas

At-large: Michigan State

 

Now, the teams are seeded 1 to 12, and we use 11 bowls to play our playoffs.  Here are the seeds and brackets.

 

 1. Auburn

 2. Oregon

 3. T C U

 4. Stanford

 5. Wisconsin

 6. Ohio State

 7. Oklahoma

 8. Arkansas

 9. Michigan State

10. Boise State

11. Virginia Tech

12. Connecticut

 

Round One

Chick-fil-A Bowl: #5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Connecticut

Alamo Bowl: #6 Ohio State vs. #11 Virginia Tech

Insight Bowl: #7 Oklahoma vs. #10 Boise State

Outback Bowl: #8 Arkansas vs. #9 Michigan State

 

Quarterfinal Round

Sugar Bowl: #1 Auburn vs. Outback Bowl Winner

Fiesta Bowl: #2 Oregon vs. Insight Bowl Winner

Capital One Bowl: #3 T C U vs. Alamo Bowl Winer

Cotton Bowl: #4 Stanford vs. Chick-fil-A Bowl Winner

 

Semifinal Round

Orange Bowl: Sugar Bowl Winner vs. Cotton Bowl Winner

Rose Bowl: Fiesta Bowl Winner vs. Capital One Bowl Winner

 

Simper Bowl

National Championship Game: Orange Bowl Winner vs. Rose Bowl Winner

 

Check back next Monday for Round One results.

 

The Final Regular Season PiRate Ratings

The regular season does not officially end until this weekend when Army plays Navy at Philadelphia.  That game will not affect the standings, so we will issue our final regular season ratings today and issue the PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings for the Army-Navy game.

 

NCAA Top 25 December 6, 2010
Rank Team PiRate Won Lost
1 T C U 133.1 12 0
2 Oregon 132.5 12 0
3 Stanford 131.8 11 1
4 Auburn 131.0 13 0
5 Boise State 128.8 11 1
6 Ohio State 128.3 11 1
7 Oklahoma 127.7 11 2
8 Alabama 126.2 9 3
9 Wisconsin 125.2 11 1
10 Arkansas 124.7 10 2
11 Virginia Tech 124.2 11 2
12 Florida State 119.8 9 4
13 South Carolina 119.4 9 4
14 Nebraska 118.9 10 3
15 Texas A&M 118.5 9 3
16 L S U 117.7 10 2
17 West Virginia 117.0 9 3
18 Oklahoma State 116.3 10 2
19 Nevada 115.7 12 1
20 Georgia 115.7 6 6
21 Mississippi State 115.6 8 4
22 Florida 115.3 7 5
23 Missouri 115.2 10 2
24t Arizona 115.2 7 5
24t Iowa 115.2 7 5
         
Note: Ratings rounded to one decimal point
even though I rank them to two decimal points

 

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida State 6-2 9-4 119.8
Clemson 4-4 6-6 111.0
North Carolina State 5-3 8-4 110.2
Maryland 5-3 8-4 105.9
Boston College 4-4 7-5 105.0
Wake Forest 1-7 3-9 92.0
       
Coastal Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Virginia Tech 8-0 11-2 124.2
Miami-FL 5-3 7-5 115.2
North Carolina 4-4 7-5 114.8
Georgia Tech 4-4 6-6 108.5
Duke 1-7 3-9 95.9
Virginia 1-7 4-8 95.0

 

 

Big East Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
West Virginia 5-2 9-3 117.0
Pittsburgh 5-2 7-5 110.7
Connecticut 5-2 8-4 108.0
South Florida 3-4 7-5 106.9
Louisville 3-4 6-6 104.1
Cincinnati 2-5 4-8 100.7
Syracuse 4-3 7-5 100.0
Rutgers 1-6 4-8 89.5

 

 

Big Ten
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Ohio State 7-1 11-1 128.3
Wisconsin 7-1 11-1 125.2
Iowa 4-4 7-5 115.2
Michigan State 7-1 11-1 110.7
Michigan 3-5 7-5 105.3
Penn State 4-4 7-5 104.6
Illinois 4-4 6-6 104.4
Minnesota 2-6 3-9 96.1
Northwestern 3-5 7-5 92.9
Purdue 2-6 4-8 91.1
Indiana 1-7 5-7 90.1

 

 

Big 12
North Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Nebraska 6-2 10-3 118.9
Missouri 6-2 10-2 115.2
Kansas State 3-5 7-5 100.0
Colorado 2-6 5-7 99.6
Iowa State 3-5 5-7 94.9
Kansas 1-7 3-9 88.2
       
South Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oklahoma 6-2 11-2 127.7
Texas A&M 6-2 9-3 118.5
Oklahoma State 6-2 10-2 116.3
Texas 2-6 5-7 106.3
Baylor 4-4 7-5 105.3
Texas Tech 3-5 7-5 104.4

 

 

Conference USA
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Central Florida 7-1 10-3 102.9
Southern Mississippi 5-3 8-4 98.4
East Carolina 5-3 6-6 90.0
U A B 3-5 4-8 86.3
Marshall 4-4 5-7 83.8
Memphis 0-8 1-11 70.7
       
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Tulsa 6-2 9-3 98.3
Houston 4-4 5-7 96.3
S M U 6-2 7-6 92.7
U T E P 3-5 6-6 86.0
Rice 3-5 4-8 84.5
Tulane 2-6 4-8 74.6

 

 

Independents
       
Team   Overall Rating
Notre Dame   7-5 108.9
Navy   8-3 102.6
Army   6-5 88.2

 

 

Mid American Conference
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Temple 5-3 8-4 92.6
Miami (O) 7-1 9-4 90.6
Ohio U 6-2 8-4 89.4
Kent St. 4-4 5-7 82.9
Bowling Green 1-7 2-10 75.0
Buffalo 1-7 2-10 70.2
Akron 1-7 1-11 67.7
       
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Northern Illinois 8-0 10-3 104.1
Toledo 7-1 8-4 89.3
Western Michigan 5-3 6-6 88.8
Central Michigan 2-6 3-9 83.7
Ball State 3-5 4-8 73.9
Eastern Michigan 2-6 2-10 66.9

 

 

Mountain West Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
T C U 8-0 12-0 133.1
Utah 7-1 10-2 111.1
Air Force 5-3 8-4 106.8
B Y U 5-3 6-6 104.8
S. D. State 5-3 8-4 104.4
Wyoming 1-7 3-9 88.0
UNLV 2-6 2-11 80.4
Colo. State 2-6 3-9 79.8
New Mexico 1-7 1-11 75.2

 

 

Pac-10 Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oregon 9-0 12-0 132.5
Stanford 8-1 11-1 131.8
Arizona 4-5 7-5 115.2
Southern Cal 5-4 8-5 112.0
Arizona St. 4-5 6-6 111.0
Oregon St. 4-5 5-7 109.6
California 3-6 5-7 108.4
Washington 5-4 6-6 107.1
U C L A 2-7 4-8 101.8
Washington State 1-8 2-10 94.2

 

 

Southeastern Conference
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
South Carolina 5-3 9-4 119.4
Georgia 3-5 6-6 115.7
Florida 4-4 7-5 115.3
Tennessee 3-5 6-6 106.0
Kentucky 2-6 6-6 105.9
Vanderbilt 1-7 2-10 86.8
       
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Auburn 8-0 13-0 131.0
Alabama 5-3 9-3 126.2
Arkansas 6-2 10-2 124.7
L S U 6-2 10-2 117.7
Mississippi State 4-4 8-4 115.6
Ole Miss 1-7 4-8 100.1

 

 

Sunbelt Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida International 6-2 6-6 87.0
Arkansas State 4-4 4-8 83.9
Troy 6-2 7-5 85.8
Middle Tennessee 5-3 6-6 82.8
North Texas 3-5 3-9 79.7
Louisiana-Monroe 4-4 5-7 78.1
U. of Louisiana 3-5 3-9 77.6
Western Kentucky 2-6 2-10 75.1
Florida Atlantic 3-5 4-8 73.7

 

 

Western Athletic Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Boise State 7-1 11-1 128.8
Nevada 7-1 12-1 115.9
Hawaii 7-1 10-3 108.9
Fresno State 5-3 8-4 98.2
Louisiana Tech 4-4 5-7 93.0
Idaho 3-5 6-7 88.1
Utah State 2-6 4-8 88.0
San Jose State 0-8 1-12 78.5
New Mexico State 1-7 2-10 71.9

 

 

This Week’s Games–PiRate Ratings
Home Team Advantage Added (2-5 points)    
       
Saturday, December 11      
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Navy Army (Philadelphia) 14.4 31-17

 

 

This Week’s Games–Mean and Bias Ratings
Home Team Advantage Added (2-5 points)    
       
Saturday, December 11      
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
Navy Army  (Philadelphia) 31-23 27-21

 

 

A Look At The Bowls

 

Here are the particulars for the 35 bowl matchups for this year. 

 

All Times Eastern Standard

 

Saturday, December 18

The New Mexico Bowl—Albuquerque, NM

2:00 PM  ESPN

B Y U  6-6  vs. U T E P  6-6

 

The Humanitarian Bowl—Boise, ID

5:30 PM  ESPN

Northern Illinois  10-3  vs. Fresno State  8-4

 

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl—New Orleans, LA

9:00 PM  ESPN

Troy  7-5  vs. Ohio U  8-4

 

Tuesday, December 21

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl—St. Petersburg, FL

8:00 PM  ESPN

Louisville  6-6  vs. Southern Mississippi  8-4

 

Wednesday, December 22

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl—Las Vegas, NV

8:00 PM  ESPN

Utah  10-2  vs. Boise State  11-1

Boise State substitutes for a Pac-10 Team

 

Thursday, December 23

San Diego Co. Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl—San Diego, CA

8:00 PM  ESPN

San Diego State  8-4  vs. Navy  8-3 (+ Army Game)

 

Friday, December 24

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl—Honolulu, HI

8:00 PM  ESPN

Hawaii  10-3  vs. Tulsa 9-3

 

Sunday, December 26

Little Caesar’s Bowl—Detroit, MI

8:30 PM  ESPN

Florida International  6-6  vs. Toledo  8-4

Florida International substitutes for a Big Ten Team

 

Monday, December 27

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl—Shreveport, LA

5:00 PM  ESPN-2

Georgia Tech  6-6  vs.  Air Force  8-4

 

Tuesday, December 28

Champs Sports Bowl—Orlando, FL

6:30 PM  ESPN

West Virginia  9-3  vs.  North Carolina St.  8-4

 

Insight Bowl—Tempe, AZ

10:00 PM  ESPN

Missouri  10-2  vs.  Iowa  7-5

 

Wednesday, December 29

Military Bowl—Washington, DC

2:30 PM  ESPN

Maryland  8-4  vs.  East Carolina  6-6

 

Texas Bowl—Houston, TX

6:00 PM  ESPN

Baylor  7-5  vs. Illinois  7-5

 

Valero Alamo Bowl—San Antonio, TX

9:15 PM  ESPN

Oklahoma State  10-2  vs.  Arizona  7-5

 

Thursday, December 30

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl—Ft. Worth, TX

12 Noon  ESPN

S M U  7-6  vs. Army  6-5 (+ Navy Game)

 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl—New York, NY

3:20 PM  ESPN

Syracuse  7-5  vs. Kansas State  7-5

 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl—Nashville, TN

6:40 PM  ESPN

Tennessee  6-6  vs.  North Carolina  7-5

 

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl—San Diego, CA

10:00 PM  ESPN

Nebraska  10-3  vs.  Washington  6-6

 

Friday, December 31

Meineke Car Care Bowl—Charlotte, NC

12 Noon  ESPN

Clemson  6-6  vs.  South Florida  7-5

 

Hyundai Sun Bowl—El Paso, TX

2:00 PM  CBS

Miami (FL)  7-5  vs. Notre Dame  7-5

Notre Dame Substitutes for Pac-10 Team

 

AutoZone Liberty Bowl—Memphis, TN

3:30 PM  ESPN

Georgia  6-6  vs.  Central Florida  10-3

 

Chick-fil-A Bowl—Atlanta, GA

7:30 PM  ESPN

South Carolina  9-4  vs. Florida State  9-4

 

Saturday, January 1

Ticket City Bowl—Dallas, TX

12 Noon  ESPN-U

Northwestern  6-6  vs.  Texas Tech  7-5

 

Outback Bowl—Tampa, FL

1:00 PM  ABC

Florida  7-5  vs.  Penn State  7-5

 

Capital One Bowl—Orlando, FL

1:00 PM  ESPN

Michigan State  11-1  vs.  Alabama  9-3

 

Gator Bowl—Jacksonville, FL

1:30 PM  ESPN-2

Michigan  7-5  vs.  Mississippi State  8-4

 

Rose Bowl—Pasadena, CA

5:00 PM  ESPN

T C U  12-0  vs.  Wisconsin  11-1

 

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl—Glendale, AZ

8:30 PM  ESPN

Oklahoma  11-2  vs. Connecticut  8-4

 

Monday, January 3

Discover Orange Bowl—Miami, FL

8:30 PM  ESPN

Virginia Tech  11-2  vs. Stanford  11-1

 

Tuesday, January 4

All-State Sugar Bowl—New Orleans, LA

8:30 PM  ESPN

Arkansas  10-2  vs. Ohio State  11-1

 

Thursday, January 6

GoDaddy.com Bowl—Mobile, AL

8:00 PM  ESPN

Middle Tennessee State  6-6  vs.  Miami (OH)  9-4

 

Friday, January 7

AT&T Cotton Bowl—Arlington, TX

8:00 PM  Fox

Texas A&M  9-3  vs. L S U  10-2

 

Saturday, January 8

BBVA Compass Bowl—Birmingham, AL

12 Noon  ESPN

Pittsburgh  7-5  vs. Kentucky  6-6

 

Sunday, January 9

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl—San Francisco, CA

9:00 PM  ESPN

Boston College  7-5  vs.  Nevada  12-1

Boston College Substitutes for a Pac-10 Team

 

Monday, January 10

National Championship Game—Glendale, AZ

8:30 PM  ESPN

Auburn  13-0  vs.  Oregon  12-0

November 28, 2010

PiRate Ratings For College Football: December 2-4, 2010

PiRate Ratings Go Perfect 3-0

After suffering through our first losing week of the season last week when we finished 2-2-1, we decided to go with three, 13-point sweetheart teasers.  We won all three.  We went back to what was working and found three gems.  Let’s take a look at the three selections we made for our customers.

1. Texas A&M +10 vs. Texas, West Virginia +16 vs. Pittsburgh, South Florida +25 vs. Miami, and Tennessee +10 vs. Kentucky

WON

We went with a theme in these picks.  We had three rivalry games where we believed all three offered us a chance to take a rival with an edge over their opponent.

Texas A&M was on a roll, having disposed of both Oklahoma and Nebraska, while Texas was going the opposite direction.  We thought the Aggies would win outright and took 10 points insurance.

We also believed that West Virginia had a slight edge over Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl.  Getting 16 points felt like a huge gift.  When we issued our selections last Wednesday afternoon, we told our customers that we thought the Mountaineers would be playing for Coach Bill Stewart’s job.  Ironically, when WVU won, it may have sealed Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt’s fate.  Stewart appears to be set to retire any way.

As for the Tennessee game, we knew the Vols were playing for bowl eligibility, and they had defeated Kentucky every year since 1984.  Getting 10 points at home was yet another gift.

2. Wake Forest +19 vs. Vanderbilt, Minnesota +28 ½ vs. Iowa, Boston College +16 vs. Syracuse, and Kansas +38 vs. Missouri

WON

In this teaser, we went with underdogs that we felt would have a good chance to beat the regular spread but would most definitely cover with an extra 13 points.

We told our customers that we believed that Vanderbilt could not beat any FBS team by 19 points at this point in the season, and that the Demon Deacons stood a better than 50-50 chance of winning outright.  We believed that the Gophers would keep the game with Iowa close and have a chance to win Floyd of Rosedale back.  Iowa had little desire after losing close games to fall out of the Big Ten race.

Our key pick this week was the Boston College selection at +16, because we figured that Syracuse would not top 14 points.  We had to sweat out the Kansas-Missouri game, but the Jayhawks just covered.

3. Dallas Cowboys +17 vs. New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills +19 ½ vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars +20 vs. New York Giants, and Chicago Bears +16 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

WON

We went with underdogs in our NFL pick, which has been our most reliable strategy all season.  Too much parity means lower spreads and more underdogs covering and winning outright.  All four of these games were never in doubt.

Championship Week

Five conferences crown their conference champion by way of a championship game this week.  Here is a little primer of those games.

Friday, December 3

The Mid-American Conference Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit

6:00 PM EST on ESPN2

Northern Illinois 10-2 vs. Miami (Ohio) 8-4

Saturday, December 4

The Conference USA Championship Game at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando

12 Noon EST on ESPN

S M U 7-5 at Central Florida 9-3

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Southeastern Conference Championship Game at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta

3:00 PM EST on CBS

Auburn 12-0 vs. South Carolina 9-3

—————————————————————————————————————————-

The Atlantic Coast Conference Championship at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte

6:45 PM EST on ESPN

Virginia Tech 10-2 vs. Florida State 9-3

—————————————————————————————————————————–

The Big 12 Conference Championship at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas

7:00 PM EST on ABC

Oklahoma 10-2 vs. Nebraska 10-2

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

NCAA Top 25 November 29, 2010
Rank Team PiRate Won Lost
1 T C U 133.1 12 0
2 Oregon 131.9 11 0
3 Stanford 131.8 11 1
4 Boise State 130.6 10 1
5 Ohio State 128.3 11 1
6 Auburn 127.5 12 0
7 Oklahoma 127.1 10 2
8 Alabama 126.2 9 3
9 Wisconsin 125.2 11 1
10 Arkansas 124.7 10 2
11 Virginia Tech 123.1 10 2
12 South Carolina 122.9 9 3
13 Florida State 120.9 9 3
14 Nebraska 119.5 10 2
15 Texas A&M 118.5 9 3
16 L S U 117.7 10 2
17 West Virginia 116.8 8 3
18 Oklahoma State 116.3 10 2
19 Arizona 116.3 7 4
20 Georgia 115.7 6 6
21 Mississippi State 115.6 8 4
22 Nevada 115.3 11 1
23 Florida 115.3 7 5
24 Missouri 115.2 10 2
25 Iowa 115.2 7 5
Note: Ratings rounded to one decimal point
even though I rank them to two decimal points
 

Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida State 6-2 9-3 120.9
Clemson 4-4 6-6 111.0
North Carolina State 5-3 8-4 110.2
Maryland 5-3 8-4 105.9
Boston College 4-4 7-5 105.0
Wake Forest 1-7 3-9 92.0
Coastal Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Virginia Tech 8-0 10-2 123.1
Miami-FL 5-3 7-5 115.2
North Carolina 4-4 7-5 114.8
Georgia Tech 4-4 6-6 108.5
Duke 1-7 3-9 95.9
Virginia 1-7 4-8 95.0
 

Big East Conference

Team Conf. Overall Rating
West Virginia 4-2 8-3 116.8
Pittsburgh 4-2 6-5 108.6
Connecticut 4-2 7-4 107.6
South Florida 3-3 7-4 107.3
Louisville 3-4 6-6 104.1
Cincinnati 2-4 4-7 102.8
Syracuse 4-3 7-5 100.0
Rutgers 1-5 4-7 89.7
 

Big Ten

Team Conf. Overall Rating
Ohio State 7-1 11-1 128.3
Wisconsin 7-1 11-1 125.2
Iowa 4-4 7-5 115.2
Michigan State 7-1 11-1 110.7
Michigan 3-5 7-5 105.3
Illinois 4-4 6-5 105.1
Penn State 4-4 7-5 104.6
Minnesota 2-6 3-9 96.1
Northwestern 3-5 7-5 92.9
Purdue 2-6 4-8 91.1
Indiana 1-7 5-7 90.1
 

Big 12

North Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Nebraska 6-2 10-2 119.5
Missouri 6-2 10-2 115.2
Kansas State 3-5 7-5 100.0
Colorado 2-6 5-7 99.6
Iowa State 3-5 5-7 94.9
Kansas 1-7 3-9 88.2
South Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oklahoma 6-2 10-2 127.1
Texas A&M 6-2 9-3 118.5
Oklahoma State 6-2 10-2 116.3
Texas 2-6 5-7 106.3
Baylor 4-4 7-5 105.3
Texas Tech 3-5 7-5 104.4
 

Conference USA

East Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Central Florida 7-1 9-3 103.2
Southern Mississippi 5-3 8-4 98.4
East Carolina 5-3 6-6 90.0
U A B 3-5 4-8 86.3
Marshall 4-4 5-7 83.8
Memphis 0-8 1-11 70.7
West Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Tulsa 6-2 9-3 98.3
Houston 4-4 5-7 96.3
S M U 6-2 7-5 92.4
U T E P 3-5 6-6 86.0
Rice 3-5 4-8 84.5
Tulane 2-6 4-8 74.6
 

Independents

Team Overall Rating
Notre Dame 7-5 108.9
Navy 8-3 102.6
Army 6-5 88.2
 

Mid American Conference

East Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Temple 5-3 8-4 92.6
Ohio U 6-2 8-4 89.4
Miami (O) 7-1 8-4 87.8
Kent St. 4-4 5-7 82.9
Bowling Green 1-7 2-10 75.0
Buffalo 1-7 2-10 70.2
Akron 1-7 1-11 67.7
West Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Northern Illinois 8-0 10-2 106.9
Toledo 7-1 8-4 89.3
Western Michigan 5-3 6-6 88.8
Central Michigan 2-6 3-9 83.7
Ball State 3-5 4-8 73.9
Eastern Michigan 2-6 2-10 66.9
 

Mountain West Conference

Team Conf. Overall Rating
T C U 8-0 12-0 133.1
Utah 7-1 10-2 111.1
Air Force 5-3 8-4 106.8
B Y U 5-3 6-6 104.8
S. D. State 5-3 8-4 104.4
Wyoming 1-7 3-9 88.0
UNLV 2-6 2-10 82.5
Colo. State 2-6 3-9 79.8
New Mexico 1-7 1-11 75.2
 

Pac-10 Conference

Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oregon 8-0 11-0 131.9
Stanford 8-1 11-1 131.8
Arizona 4-4 7-4 116.3
Southern Cal 4-4 7-5 111.0
Oregon St. 4-4 5-6 110.2
Arizona St. 3-5 5-6 109.9
California 3-6 5-7 108.4
Washington 4-4 5-6 106.9
U C L A 2-6 4-7 102.8
Washington State 1-7 2-9 94.4
 

Southeastern Conference

East Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
South Carolina 5-3 9-3 122.9
Georgia 3-5 6-6 115.7
Florida 4-4 7-5 115.3
Tennessee 3-5 6-6 106.0
Kentucky 2-6 6-6 105.9
Vanderbilt 1-7 2-10 86.8
West Division
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Auburn 8-0 12-0 127.5
Alabama 5-3 9-3 126.2
Arkansas 6-2 10-2 124.7
L S U 6-2 10-2 117.7
Mississippi State 4-4 8-4 115.6
Ole Miss 1-7 4-8 100.1
 

Sunbelt Conference

Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida International 6-1 6-5 88.4
Arkansas State 4-4 4-8 83.9
Troy 5-2 6-5 82.8
Middle Tennessee 4-3 5-6 81.4
North Texas 3-5 3-9 79.7
Louisiana-Monroe 4-4 5-7 78.1
U. of Louisiana 3-5 3-9 77.6
Florida Atlantic 3-4 4-7 76.7
Western Kentucky 2-6 2-10 75.1
 

Western Athletic Conference

Team Conf. Overall Rating
Boise State 6-1 10-1 130.6
Nevada 6-1 11-1 115.3
Hawaii 7-1 9-3 106.8
Fresno State 5-3 7-4 97.5
Louisiana Tech 4-3 5-6 93.6
Idaho 2-5 5-7 89.3
Utah State 2-5 4-7 86.2
San Jose State 0-7 1-11 77.3
New Mexico State 1-7 2-10 71.9
 

This Week’s Games–PiRate Ratings

Home Team Advantage Added (2-5 points)
Thursday, December 2
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
ARIZONA Arizona St. 8.9 31-22
Friday, December 3
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Illinois FRESNO STATE 4.1 31-27
Northern Illinois Miami (O)   (Detroit) 19.1 42-23
Saturday, December 4
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Southern Cal U C L A 6.2 34-28
SOUTH FLORIDA Connecticut 2.7 20-17
Oregon OREGON STATE 18.7 45-26
Washington WASHINGTON STATE 10.0 31-21
WEST VIRGINIA Rutgers 30.1 42-12
Pittsburgh CINCINNATI 2.8 24-21
FLORIDA INT’L Middle Tennessee 10.0 34-24
Troy FLORIDA ATLANTIC 3.1 30-27
BOISE STATE Utah State 47.4 61-14
Nevada LOUISIANA TECH 18.2 35-17
IDAHO San Jose State 14.5 38-23
HAWAII U n l v 28.3 49-21
Auburn South Carolina (Atlanta) 4.6 35-30
Virginia Tech Florida State (Charlotte) 2.2 25-23
CENTRAL FLORIDA S m u 13.8 35-21
Oklahoma Nebraska (Dallas) 7.6 21-13
 

This Week’s Games–Mean and Bias Ratings

Home Team Advantage Added (2-5 points)
Thursday, December 2
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
ARIZONA Arizona St. 31-21 27-24
Friday, December 3
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
Illinois FRESNO STATE 34-31 34-27
Northern Illinois Miami (O)  (Detroit) 35-24 41-20
Saturday, December 4
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
Southern Cal U C L A 31-21 30-21
SOUTH FLORIDA Connecticut 27-24 27-23
Oregon OREGON STATE 49-26 51-19
Washington WASHINGTON STATE 35-27 35-20
WEST VIRGINIA Rutgers 34-14 34-14
Pittsburgh CINCINNATI 26-21 24-16
FLORIDA INT’L Middle Tennessee 34-22 28-26
Troy FLORIDA ATLANTIC 31-24 34-28
BOISE STATE Utah State 56-20 59-17
Nevada LOUISIANA TECH 37-17 35-31
IDAHO San Jose State 42-24 45-28
HAWAII U n l v 49-20 48-14
Auburn South Carolina (Atlanta) 38-24 34-24
Virginia Tech Florida State  (Charlotte) 26-25 27-19
CENTRAL FLORIDA S m u 34-26 35-30
Oklahoma Nebraska  (Dallas) 21-16 22-20
 

Bowl Projections

Bowl

Conference Team Conference Team
New Mexico MWC #4 or (5) B Y U 6-6 WAC (#3?) Fresno St. 7-5
Humanitarian MAC #3 Miami (O) 8-5 WAC #(1) or 2 Boise St. 11-1
New Orleans Sunbelt #(1) or 2 Fla. Int’l 7-5 C-USA #5 UTEP 6-6
Beef O’Brady’s Big East #6 Connecticut 7-5 C-USA #4-6 Southern Miss 8-4
MAACO MWC #1 Utah 10-2 Pac 10 #5 [Ga. Tech 6-6]
Poinsettia MWC #2 S. D. State 8-4 Navy or WAC NAVY 9-3
Hawaii Hawaii/WAC #3/4 HAWAII 10-3 C-USA #2-6 Tulsa 9-3
Little Caesar’s Pizza Big 10 #8/SBC [Louisville 6-6] MAC #1-2 N. Illinois 11-2
Independence ACC #7 Clemson 6-6 MWC #3 Air Force 8-4
Champs Sports Big East #2 Notre Dame 7-5 ACC #3 N. C. State 8-4
Insight Big 12 #4 Missouri 10-2 Big 10 #4 or 5 Michigan 7-5
Military ACC #8 Boston Coll. 7-5 C-USA #6 E C U 6-6
Texas Big 12 #6-7 Texas Tech 7-5 Big 10 #6-7 Penn State 7-5
Alamo Big 12 #3 Oklahoma St. 10-2 Pac 10 #2 Arizona 8-4
Armed Forces C-USA #3-4 S M U 7-6 MWC #3-5/Army Army 6-6
Pinstripe Big East #3-4 Syracuse 7-5 Big 12 #6-7 Baylor 7-5
Music City SEC # 7 Tennessee 6-6 ACC #6 Maryland 8-4
Holiday Big 12 #5 Texas A&M 9-3 Pac 10 #3 Washington 6-6
Meineke Car Care ACC #4-5 N. Carolina 8-4 Big East #3-4 S. Florida 7-5
Sun ACC #4 or 5 Miami (FL) 7-5 Pac 10 #4 [Ohio U 8-4]
Liberty SEC #8 or 9 Georgia 6-6 C-USA #1 Central Fla. 10-3
Chick-fil-A SEC #3-6 Miss. State 8-4 ACC #2 Florida State 9-4
Ticket City Big 10 #6-7 Northwestern 7-5 Big 12 #8/CUSA Kansas St. 7-5
Outback SEC #3-6 E S. Carolina 9-4 Big 10 #3 Iowa 7-5
Capital One Big 10 #2 Michigan St. 11-1 SEC #2 L S U 10-2
Gator Big 10 #4 or 5 Illinois 7-5 SEC #6 Florida 7-5
Rose BCS Pac10 T C U 12-0 BCS Big 10 Wisconsin 11-1
Fiesta BCS Big 12 Oklahoma 11-2 BCS At-Large Stanford 11-1
Orange BCS ACC Va. Tech 11-2 BCS At-Large West Va. 9-3
Sugar BCS SEC Ohio State 11-1 BCS At-Large Arkansas 10-2
GoDaddy.com Sunbelt # 2 Troy 7-5 MAC #1 or 2 Toledo 8-4
Cotton Big 12 #2 Nebraska 10-3 SEC #3-6 W Alabama 9-3
BBVA Compass Big East #5 Pittsburgh 7-5 SEC #8 or 9 Kentucky 6-6
Kraft Fight Hunger Pac 10 #6 [Temple 8-4] WAC #1 Nevada 11-1
Championship Game *** BCS #1 *** Oregon 12-0 *** BCS #2 *** Auburn 13-0
Teams in ALL CAPS and Italicized have already accepted a bid to this bowl
Teams in [Brackets] are at-large invitees because a conference cannot supply a qualified team

November 22, 2010

PiRate Ratings For College Football: November 23-27, 2010

The Winning Streak Comes To An End

It had to happen.  We knew we could not go through the entire season with one winning week after another.  Our luck ran dry this weekend.  Our picks went 2-2-1 against the spread, which in our terms, is a losing week, since you lay 10-11 odds when picking straight sides.

 

Perhaps we should not have deviated from our sweetheart teaser picks, but we liked the five games we selected.  Let’s quickly reveal our picks so we can move on and talk college football

 

1. Tennessee -9 vs. Vanderbilt

WON

Okay, if you are one of our regular subscribers to our handicapping service, maybe you did enjoy a winning week.  For, we told you that we felt that the Vols had a 99% chance of covering at -9.  If you decided to make this your only pick, then you went 1-0.

 

Vanderbilt has run out of gas, while Tennessee is on their annual November roll.  The final score was only 24-10, and we had to sweat out a late Vandy run with backup quarterback Jared Funk.

 

2. Ohio State -3 vs. Iowa

Push

This game surprised us a bit.  We felt as if the Buckeyes were ready to pull off a two touchdown win, and when the offense struggled early, we were concerned.  Ohio State is not as strong as they were supposed to be, and they should not have gained ground on Wisconsin in the BCS standings. 

 

3. Texas A&M + 2 ½ vs. Nebraska

WON

Please don’t let Bo Pelini hear this.  We told our subscribers that we had a sneaky suspicion that Nebraska would see a lot of questionable officiating calls go against them in this game, just like it happened against Texas.  The national media has to put on a good face, but we could care less about stepping on toes of the Big 12 Conference.  We warned our fans on Thursday that we suspected this would happen.  The game was considered a tossup, so we felt A&M would win by a touchdown.  It was only by a field goal, but we won any way.

 

4. Cleveland Browns + 1 ½ vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Lost

The Browns’ short flirtation with respectability has gone back into hibernation.  We blew this one royally, thinking the boys from Lake Erie would win by 7-10 points.

 

5. San Francisco 49ers + 3 ½ vs. Tampa Bay Bucaneers

Lost

Tampa Bay has proven they are playoff worthy.  San Francisco’s offensive woes continue, and yet they are still in contention in the worst division in the history of NFL football.

 

A Look At The FBS Conference Races and Bowls

There are 35 bowls this year.  Thus, 70 teams need to be bowl eligible.  With two weeks to go in the season, only 64 teams are bowl eligible.  It is a sure thing that at least one or two others will gain bowl eligibility due to the schedule.  What happens if the magic number falls short of 70?  Will the NCAA allow 5-7 teams into the bowls?  Who would want to see a 5-7 and 6-6 team face off in a loser bowl?

 

A 12-team playoff, using the top 11 bowls would leave 24 bowls for the rest of the NCAA.  This would not be a problem.  The bowl that might end up with a 5-7 team would end up with a 7-5 or 8-4 team under a 12-team playoff.

 

The PiRate Ratings have conducted simulated NCAA football playoffs the past two seasons, and we will do so again after the end of the regular season.

 

Let’s look at each conference as it stands today.

 

A C C

Virginia Tech has sewn up the Coastal Division Championship.  They will face either North Carolina State or Florida State.  If N.C. State beats Maryland, they win the division title.  If Maryland wins, Florida State goes to the ACC title game.

 

Nine teams are already bowl eligible, and the conference has eight bowl tie-ins.  Expect all nine teams to land in bowls.

 

 

Big East

No team in this league belongs in a BCS bowl game.  TCU and Boise State are 21 points better than the best team in the Big East.  The cold hard fact is that the winner of this conference will be the last team chosen in the BCS Bowl picks—the Fiesta Bowl. 

 

Pittsburgh has a one game lead over West Virginia and Connecticut.  They would lose a three-way tiebreaker if the three finished 5-2.

 

Connecticut, South Florida, and Syracuse are bowl eligible.  Louisville is one win away, while Cincinnati and Rutgers are still in contention at 4-6.  We think UL will get that sixth win this week against Rutgers, while Cincinnati falls short.  Throw in Notre Dame, which will finish no worse than 6-6, and there will be enough teams to satisfy the league’s allotment.

 

 

 

Big Ten

Three teams are in contention for the Rose Bowl with one week to go.  Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State are tied at 6-1.  If they all win this week, the highest ranked team in the BCS rankings will get the Rose Bowl bid.  Wisconsin holds a marginal lead over Ohio State.  The Badgers face Northwestern, while the Buckeyes host Michigan.  It will be a close vote if both win.  Michigan State wins a tiebreaker with Wisconsin, while Wisconsin wins a tiebreaker with Ohio State.  If Ohio State and Michigan State finish tied at 7-1, the Buckeyes will be the higher ranked team in the BCS and go to the Rose Bowl.

 

Eight teams are bowl eligible, and there is a decent chance that a second team will get a BCS at-large bid.  That would make nine bowl openings for eight teams, and the need for an at-large representative for the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl.

 

 

 

Big 12

The Big 12 is out of the national championship picture this year.  Nebraska will win the North Division with a win over Colorado or a Missouri loss to Kansas.  Oklahoma State needs to beat Oklahoma to wrap up the South Division, but the Sooners could easily win this game.  If Texas A&M beats Texas, and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, it will take five steps into the conference’s tiebreaker rules to determine the representative for the Big 12 Championship Game.  Oklahoma would hold the leg up over the other two.

 

Colorado and Texas need wins to gain bowl eligibility, but it is our opinion that both will lose their finales and miss out.  That will leave eight bowl eligible teams for eight bowls.

 

 

 

Conference USA

In the East, Central Florida is as close to in the league title game as a team can be and not already have it clinched.  UCF only needs to beat hapless Memphis to secure the division flag.  It is a certainty.

 

In the West, SMU controls its own destiny.  However, the Mustangs play at East Carolina this week.  We believe the Pirates will win.  That means Tulsa would capture the flag with a win over Southern Miss.  We will give the Golden Hurricane the edge.

 

Houston needs a win at Texas Tech to gain bowl eligibility, but the Cougars are wounded without their top two quarterbacks.  No bowl for Houston this year.

 

 

 

Independents

Navy is bowl eligible, and the Midshipmen have already accepted a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl.  Army is also bowl eligible, and they will get an at-large selection somewhere.  Notre Dame is bowl eligible, and they will either receive one of the Big East bowl bids or an at-large bid.

 

 

Mid-American

As usual, there are always more bowl eligible teams than bowl bids for the MAC.  Ohio, Temple, and Miami (O) from the East and Northern Illinois and Toledo from the West are bowl eligible.  Western Michigan will become bowl eligible with a win at Bowling Green.  That will leave six teams available for three bids.  Expect five of the six to go bowling.

 

 

Mountain West Conference

TCU’s blowout win over New Mexico this week will give the Horned Frogs their second consecutive undefeated regular season finish and at-large selection to a BCS Bowl.  There is a small chance that they could play for the National Championship.  Their BCS ranking will drop by playing the 1-10 Lobos, while Boise State finished on the road against a ranked team.

 

Five teams are bowl eligible, and all five will go to bowls.  That will leave one bowl spot open for an at-large invitee—the New Mexico Bowl.

 

 

 

Pac-10

This is the messy conference.  To start out, Southern Cal is ineligible for a bowl.  Throw in the chance that Stanford will receive an at-large BCS Bowl bid.  Now, top it off with the fact that Arizona is the only other bowl eligible team at this point.  California, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, and Arizona State are still alive in the bowl eligibility race, but we believe only one of these five will do it.  That means this league could fall three bids short.

 

 

 

Southeastern

“As the Cam Turns” is the top-rated soap opera in the South during November sweeps.  It just may turn south on Auburn this week.  We think Alabama is going to end the Tigers’ championship hopes this week.  We cannot see any scenario where Auburn would jump Boise State and TCU after losing this late in the season.  It is no gimme that the Tigers can beat South Carolina twice in one season.

 

LSU can grab an at-large bid to a BCS Bowl with a win at Arkansas, but we believe the Razorbacks will put an end to those aspirations.

 

Georgia and Tennessee need victories this week to gain bowl eligibility.  We think both will be victorious.  That will leave 10 bowl eligible teams for nine bowls and an at-large bid.

 

 

 

 

Sunbelt

Somebody has to win this league.  With two weeks left in the season, one for UL-Monroe, no team has earned bowl eligibility.  The schedule guarantees that at least one team will become bowl eligible, and we think at least two will pick up a sixth win.  For a change, Troy may not win the conference championship.

 

 

 

Western Athletic

Boise State has a tough finale at Nevada this week, but we do not believe the boys from Reno have a strong enough defense to slow down the Broncos.  Boise State is our top-rated team, and we feel like they would be a field goal choice over Oregon in a national title game.  A win at Nevada should allow the Broncos to jump over TCU in the BCS standings, and if Auburn loses to Alabama, it should put BSU into the number two slot.

 

Louisiana Tech and Idaho still have remote chances at bowl eligibility, but we think both will fall one game short.  With BSU getting a BCS Bowl bid, the WAC will fall one team short in its bowl obligations. 

 

The Pi-Rate Ratings

NCAA Top 25 November 22, 2010
Rank Team PiRate Won Lost
1 Boise State 134.6 10 0
2 T C U 132.9 11 0
3 Oregon 132.1 10 0
4 Stanford 129.7 10 1
5 Alabama 127.5 9 2
6 Ohio State 127.1 10 1
7 Oklahoma 127.0 9 2
8 Auburn 126.2 11 0
9 Arkansas 124.4 9 2
10 Virginia Tech 122.8 9 2
11 Wisconsin 122.7 10 1
12 South Carolina 121.1 8 3
13 Texas A&M 118.8 8 3
14 Nebraska 118.8 9 2
15 Florida State 118.2 8 3
16 L S U 118.0 10 1
17t Florida 118.0 7 4
17t Miami (Fla) 118.0 7 4
19 Iowa 117.3 7 4
20 Oklahoma State 116.4 10 1
21 Arizona 116.1 7 3
22 North Carolina 115.6 6 5
23 Georgia 115.5 5 6
24 Missouri 114.9 9 2
25 Mississippi State 114.8 7 4
         
Note: Ratings rounded to one decimal point
even though I rank them to two decimal points

 

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida State 6-2 8-3 118.2
Clemson 4-4 6-5 112.8
North Carolina State 5-2 8-3 111.4
Maryland 4-3 7-4 104.7
Boston College 4-4 6-5 103.9
Wake Forest 1-7 2-9 89.9
       
Coastal Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Virginia Tech 7-0 9-2 122.8
Miami-FL 5-3 7-4 118.0
North Carolina 3-4 6-5 115.6
Georgia Tech 4-4 6-5 108.7
Virginia 1-6 4-7 95.3
Duke 1-6 3-8 95.1

 

 

Big East Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
West Virginia 3-2 7-3 114.6
Pittsburgh 4-1 6-4 110.8
Connecticut 3-2 6-4 106.4
South Florida 3-3 6-4 104.5
Cincinnati 2-3 4-6 104.0
Louisville 2-4 5-6 102.7
Syracuse 4-3 7-4 101.1
Rutgers 1-4 4-6 91.1

 

 

Big Ten
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Ohio State 6-1 10-1 127.1
Wisconsin 6-1 10-1 122.7
Iowa 4-3 7-4 117.3
Michigan State 6-1 10-1 110.2
Michigan 3-4 7-4 106.5
Penn State 4-3 7-4 105.1
Illinois 4-4 6-5 105.1
Northwestern 3-4 7-4 95.4
Minnesota 1-6 2-9 94.0
Purdue 2-5 4-7 92.5
Indiana 0-7 4-7 88.7

 

 

Big 12
North Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Nebraska 5-2 9-2 118.8
Missouri 5-2 9-2 114.9
Kansas State 3-5 6-5 100.7
Colorado 2-5 5-6 100.3
Iowa State 3-5 5-7 94.9
Kansas 1-6 3-8 88.5
       
South Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oklahoma 5-2 9-2 127.0
Texas A&M 5-2 8-3 118.8
Oklahoma State 6-1 10-1 116.4
Texas 2-5 5-6 106.0
Baylor 4-4 7-5 105.3
Texas Tech 3-5 6-5 104.2

 

 

Conference USA
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Central Florida 6-1 8-3 104.8
Southern Mississippi 5-2 8-3 98.6
East Carolina 5-2 6-5 90.2
U A B 3-4 4-7 86.8
Marshall 3-4 4-7 83.6
Memphis 0-7 1-10 69.1
       
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Tulsa 5-2 8-3 98.1
Houston 4-4 5-6 96.5
S M U 5-2 6-5 92.2
U T E P 3-5 6-6 86.0
Rice 2-5 3-8 84.0
Tulane 2-5 4-7 74.8

 

 

Independents
       
Team   Overall Rating
Notre Dame   6-5 107.0
Navy   8-3 102.6
Army   6-5 88.2

 

 

Mid American Conference
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Temple 5-2 8-3 95.2
Ohio U 6-1 8-3 91.7
Miami (O) 6-1 7-4 85.2
Kent St. 3-4 4-7 80.6
Bowling Green 1-6 2-9 77.1
Buffalo 1-6 2-9 71.5
Akron 0-7 0-11 66.4
       
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Northern Illinois 7-0 9-2 103.9
Toledo 6-1 7-4 88.5
Western Michigan 4-3 5-6 86.7
Central Michigan 2-5 3-8 84.5
Ball State 3-5 4-8 73.9
Eastern Michigan 2-5 2-9 69.9

 

 

Mountain West Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
T C U 7-0 11-0 132.9
Utah 6-1 9-2 111.7
Air Force 5-3 8-4 106.8
B Y U 5-2 6-5 104.2
S. D. State 4-3 7-4 102.4
Wyoming 1-7 3-9 88.0
UNLV 2-5 2-9 84.5
Colo. State 2-6 3-9 79.8
New Mexico 1-6 1-10 75.4

 

 

Pac-10 Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oregon 7-0 10-0 132.1
Stanford 7-1 10-1 129.7
Arizona 4-3 7-3 116.1
Southern Cal 4-4 7-4 112.9
Oregon St. 4-3 5-5 112.3
California 3-5 5-6 110.2
Arizona St. 2-5 4-6 109.2
Washington 3-4 4-6 105.1
U C L A 2-5 4-6 103.5
Washington State 1-7 2-9 94.4

 

 

Southeastern Conference
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
South Carolina 5-3 8-3 121.1
Florida 4-4 7-4 118.0
Georgia 3-5 5-6 115.5
Kentucky 2-5 6-5 106.9
Tennessee 2-5 5-6 105.0
Vanderbilt 1-7 2-9 88.9
       
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Alabama 5-2 9-2 127.5
Auburn 7-0 11-0 126.2
Arkansas 5-2 9-2 124.4
L S U 6-1 10-1 118.0
Mississippi State 3-4 7-4 114.8
Ole Miss 1-6 4-7 100.9

 

 

Sunbelt Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida International 5-1 5-5 88.1
Arkansas State 4-3 4-7 84.2
Troy 4-2 5-5 82.2
Middle Tennessee 3-3 4-6 79.9
North Texas 3-5 3-8 79.0
Louisiana-Monroe 4-3 5-6 78.9
Florida Atlantic 3-3 4-6 78.2
U. of Louisiana 2-5 2-9 76.8
Western Kentucky 2-5 2-9 75.7

 

 

Western Athletic Conference
       
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Boise State 6-0 10-0 134.6
Nevada 5-1 10-1 111.3
Hawaii 6-1 8-3 106.2
Fresno State 4-3 6-4 97.7
Louisiana Tech 3-3 4-6 94.0
Idaho 2-4 5-6 89.1
Utah State 2-5 4-7 86.2
San Jose State 0-6 1-10 76.9
New Mexico State 1-6 2-9 72.5

 

 

 
Home Team Advantage Added (2-5 points)    
       
Tuesday, November 23      
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Temple MIAMI (O) 7.0 28-21
       
Thursday, November 25      
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Texas A&M TEXAS 10.3 24-14
       
Friday, November 26      
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
Louisville RUTGERS 8.6 28-19
Western Michigan BOWLING GREEN 6.6 27-20
West Virginia PITTSBURGH 1.3 21-20
ALABAMA Auburn 3.8 31-27
Buffalo AKRON 2.6 24-21
TOLEDO Central Michigan 7.0 38-31
Northern Illinois EASTERN MICHIGAN 31.5 45-13
EAST CAROLINA S m u 1.0 35-34
Ohio U KENT STATE 8.6 30-21
ARIZONA STATE U c l a 8.7 26-17
NEBRASKA Colorado 21.5 28-6
TULSA Southern Miss. 2.5 38-35
OREGON Arizona 19.5 44-24
Boise State NEVADA 26.3 46-20
       
Saturday, November 27      
Favorite Underdog Spread Score
ARKANSAS L s u 9.4 35-26
STANFORD Oregon State 20.4 37-17
CONNECTICUT Cincinnati 5.4 26-21
FLORIDA STATE Florida 2.7 27-24
GEORGIA Georgia Tech 9.3 33-24
North Carolina St. MARYLAND 3.7 24-20
Iowa MINNESOTA 20.3 37-17
Mississippi State OLE MISS 11.4 28-17
North Carolina DUKE 18.5 45-26
SYRACUSE Boston College 0.2 17-17 to ot
OHIO STATE Michigan 23.6 44-20
Oklahoma OKLAHOMA STATE 8.1 34-26
Michigan State PENN STATE 2.1 30-28
South Carolina CLEMSON 5.8 34-28
VANDERBILT Wake Forest 2.0 26-24
RICE U a b 0.2 34-34 to ot
Kansas State NORTH TEXAS 18.7 44-25
VIRGINIA TECH Virginia 30.0 37-7
WISCONSIN Northwestern 30.3 51-21
FLORIDA INT’L Arkansas State 6.4 34-28
MIAMI (FL) South Florida 16.5 38-21
MIDDLE TENNESSEE Florida Atlantic 4.2 31-27
UL-MONROE UL-Lafayette 4.6 26-21
PURDUE Indiana 6.8 38-31
TENNESSEE Kentucky 1.1 35-34
TEXAS TECH Houston 10.7 45-34
TROY Western Kentucky 9.5 38-28
Central Florida MEMPHIS 33.2 40-7
MARSHALL Tulane 11.8 35-23
Missouri Kansas (Kansas City) 26.4 40-14
Hawaii NEW MEXICO STATE 30.7 45-14
UTAH B y u 10.0 34-24
T c u NEW MEXICO 55.0 55-0
SAN DIEGO STATE U n l v 20.9 42-21
Louisiana Tech SAN JOSE STATE 14.1 31-17
SOUTHERN CAL Notre Dame 8.9 33-24
FRESNO STATE Idaho 11.6 38-26

 

 

This Week’s Games–PiRate Ratings
Home Team Advantage Added (2-5 points)    
       
Tuesday, November 23      
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
Temple MIAMI (O) 27-20 27-16
       
Thursday, November 25      
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
Texas A&M TEXAS 23-13 20-14
       
Friday, November 26      
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
Louisville RUTGERS 24-21 28-17
Western Michigan BOWLING GREEN 35-28 38-16
PITTSBURGH West Virginia 17-14 17-14
ALABAMA Auburn 31-27 31-28
Buffalo AKRON 23-20 23-20
TOLEDO Central Michigan 38-30 41-21
Northern Illinois EASTERN MICHIGAN 45-19 49-17
EAST CAROLINA S m u 36-34 34-38
Ohio U KENT STATE 35-23 33-14
ARIZONA STATE U c l a 31-20 27-20
NEBRASKA Colorado 28-9 23-17
TULSA Southern Miss. 41-37 44-34
OREGON Arizona 42-23 41-23
Boise State NEVADA 42-30 60-31
       
Saturday, November 27      
Favorite Underdog Mean Bias
ARKANSAS L s u 31-27 31-20
STANFORD Oregon State 37-20 38-19
CONNECTICUT Cincinnati 26-21 24-16
FLORIDA STATE Florida 30-27 30-27
GEORGIA Georgia Tech 31-20 28-24
North Carolina St. MARYLAND 24-20 27-17
Iowa MINNESOTA 30-13 34-10
Mississippi State OLE MISS 33-25 34-24
North Carolina DUKE 35-24 35-24
SYRACUSE Boston College 16-14 19-17
OHIO STATE Michigan 37-17 38-24
OKLAHOMA STATE Oklahoma 30-27 27-31
Michigan State PENN STATE 30-27 20-23
South Carolina CLEMSON 35-30 36-20
VANDERBILT Wake Forest 23-17 20-23
RICE U a b 35-35 to ot 38-36
Kansas State NORTH TEXAS 41-21 45-24
VIRGINIA TECH Virginia 35-9 31-14
WISCONSIN Northwestern 45-24 45-24
FLORIDA INT’L Arkansas State 34-27 34-27
MIAMI (FL) South Florida 30-17 30-20
MIDDLE TENNESSEE Florida Atlantic 27-26 24-23
UL-MONROE UL-Lafayette 35-27 35-21
PURDUE Indiana 38-31 37-28
TENNESSEE Kentucky 34-31 35-30
TEXAS TECH Houston 41-32 41-28
TROY Western Kentucky 40-28 35-31
Central Florida MEMPHIS 42-14 47-10
MARSHALL Tulane 35-28 32-31
Missouri Kansas (Kansas City) 41-17 31-13
Hawaii NEW MEXICO STATE 45-17 44-17
UTAH B y u 37-24 28-24
T c u NEW MEXICO 50-7 56-0
SAN DIEGO STATE U n l v 44-24 44-20
Louisiana Tech SAN JOSE STATE 27-16 28-16
SOUTHERN CAL Notre Dame 34-27 28-25
FRESNO STATE Idaho 38-30 38-26

 

 

Bowl Conference Team Conference Team
New Mexico MWC #4 or (5) [Temple 9-3] WAC (#3?) [Army 6-6]
Humanitarian MAC #3 Toledo 9-3 WAC #(1) or 2 Fresno St. 7-5
New Orleans Sunbelt #(1) or 2 Fla. Int’l 7-5 C-USA #5 S M U 6-6
Beef O’Brady’s Big East #6 Connecticut 7-5 C-USA #4-6 East Carolina 7-5
MAACO MWC #1 Utah 10-2 Pac 10 #5 [Kentucky 6-6]
Poinsettia MWC #2 San Diego St. 8-4 Navy or WAC NAVY 9-3
Hawaii Hawaii/WAC #3/4 HAWAII 10-3 C-USA #2-6 Central Fla. 9-4
Little Caesar’s Pizza Big 10 #8/SBC [Boston Coll. 6-6] MAC #1-2 N. Illinois 11-2
Independence ACC #7 Clemson 6-6 MWC #3 B Y U 6-6
Champs Sports Big East #2 West Va. 8-4 ACC #3 Miami 8-4
Insight Big 12 #4 Missouri 10-2 Big 10 #4 or 5 Michigan 7-5
Military ACC #8 Georgia Tech 6-6 C-USA #6 U T E P 6-6
Texas Big 12 #6-7 Texas Tech 7-5 Big 10 #6-7 Northwestern 7-5
Alamo Big 12 #3 Nebraska 10-3 Pac 10 #2 Arizona 8-4
Armed Forces C-USA #3-4 Southern Miss 8-4 MWC #3-5/Army Air Force 8-4
Pinstripe Big East #3-4 Syracuse 8-4 Big 12 #6-7 Baylor 7-5
Music City SEC # 7 Tennessee 6-6 ACC #6 Maryland 7-5
Holiday Big 12 #5 Texas A&M 9-3 Pac 10 #3 California 6-6
Meineke Car Care ACC #4-5 N. Carolina 7-5 Big East #3-4 S. Florida 7-5
Sun ACC #4 or 5 N.C. State 9-4 Pac 10 #4 [Notre Dame 6-6]
Liberty SEC #8 or 9 Florida 7-5 C-USA #1 Tulsa 10-3
Chick-fil-A SEC #3-6 L S U 10-2 ACC #2 Florida St. 9-3
Ticket City Big 10 #6-7 Illinois 7-5 Big 12 #8/CUSA Kansas St. 7-5
Outback SEC #3-6 E S. Carolina 9-4 Big 10 #3 Iowa 8-4
Capital One Big 10 #2 Mich. St. 11-1 SEC #2 Alabama 10-2
Gator Big 10 #4 or 5 Penn State 7-5 SEC #6 Miss. State 8-4
Rose BCS Pac10 Stanford 11-1 BCS Big 10 Wisconsin 11-1
Fiesta BCS Big 12 Oklahoma 11-2 BCS At-Large Pittsburgh 8-4
Orange BCS ACC Va. Tech 11-2 BCS At-Large T C U 12-0
Sugar BCS SEC Auburn 12-1 BCS At-Large Ohio State 11-1
GoDaddy.com Sunbelt # 2 Troy 6-6 MAC #1 or 2 Ohio U 9-4
Cotton Big 12 #2 Okla. St. 10-2 SEC #3-6 W Arkansas 10-2
BBVA Compass Big East #5 Louisville 6-6 SEC #8 or 9 Georgia 6-6
Kraft Fight Hunger Pac 10 #6 [Miami (O) 7-5] WAC #1 Nevada 11-2
Nat’l Championship *** BCS #1 *** Oregon 12-0 *** BCS #2 *** Boise State 12-0

 

All CAPS and Italics—Team has already accepted bid to this bowl

Teams in [Brackets] are at-large entries.

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