The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 11, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Football Forecast for September 14-16, 2017

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:54 am

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads

PiRate Ratings Spreads
September 14-16        
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Boise St. New Mexico 12.9 10.4 11.8
Temple Massachusetts 14.2 15.6 14.5
South Florida Illinois 20.5 17.3 22.9
UTEP Arizona -23.3 -17.6 -20.1
South Carolina Kentucky 0.5 1.2 0.2
Marshall Kent St. 4.6 4.9 4.7
Boston College Notre Dame -8.1 -5.1 -8.8
Virginia Connecticut 16.2 13.0 17.0
Michigan Air Force 26.8 25.4 25.7
UAB Coastal Carolina -8.3 -3.8 -8.0
Miami (O) Cincinnati 4.5 4.3 5.2
Penn St. Georgia St. 45.2 43.7 46.0
Akron Iowa St. -15.1 -12.3 -15.7
Old Dominion North Carolina -16.3 -12.1 -14.3
Pittsburgh Oklahoma St. -9.8 -8.6 -12.3
Minnesota Middle Tennessee 17.5 17.2 16.2
Indiana Florida Int’l. 26.8 26.6 26.2
Memphis UCLA -2.3 -2.3 -1.4
Nebraska Northern Illinois 20.7 22.3 19.7
Duke Baylor 13.2 9.2 11.7
Ohio U Kansas 4.0 2.8 5.7
Wake Forest Utah St. 21.0 21.4 21.2
Louisville Clemson -8.2 -5.5 -7.1
Syracuse Central Michigan 18.3 16.3 17.0
East Carolina Virginia Tech -28.3 -26.4 -28.7
BYU Wisconsin -17.3 -14.4 -15.1
Missouri Purdue 7.8 2.8 5.7
Iowa North Texas 33.3 31.3 33.0
Texas A&M UL-Lafayette 23.9 19.9 22.7
Northwestern Bowling Green 31.2 28.8 30.2
Oklahoma Tulane 36.1 33.4 36.6
Florida Tennessee 6.4 7.7 7.5
TCU SMU 19.0 16.1 18.6
Western Kentucky Louisiana Tech 11.5 7.8 12.1
Ohio St. Army 36.2 33.7 34.5
Washington St. Oregon St. 27.0 24.1 27.6
Texas St. Appalachian St. -25.8 -19.6 -27.4
Alabama Colorado St. 32.1 28.7 31.2
Toledo Tulsa -0.4 0.4 1.3
Western Michigan Idaho 21.4 15.8 22.0
UL-Monroe Southern Miss. -2.8 -3.9 -4.3
Wyoming Oregon -9.5 -8.6 -9.7
Mississippi St. LSU -10.3 -7.9 -10.6
Central Florida Georgia Tech -7.5 -2.9 -4.6
Vanderbilt Kansas St. -1.6 -3.0 -3.2
Houston Rice 26.1 23.8 25.2
New Mexico St. Troy -3.5 -6.3 -3.4
Texas Tech Arizona St. 5.3 4.6 5.0
USC Texas 13.0 11.3 13.2
Utah San Jose St. 23.9 27.2 24.9
Washington Fresno St. 43.8 41.5 44.5
California Ole Miss -4.0 -5.2 -4.3
San Diego St. Stanford -15.0 -12.1 -12.8
This Week’s FBS vs. FCS Games
Home Visitor PiRate
Auburn Mercer 40
Georgia Samford 26
UTSA Southern 24
West Virginia Delaware St. 55
North Carolina St. Furman 31
Colorado Northern Colorado 39
Ball St. Tennessee Tech 20
Rutgers Morgan St. 36
Charlotte N.C. A&T -2
Buffalo Colgate 7
Nevada Idaho St. 25
Arkansas St. Ark.-Pine Bluff 51
South Alabama Alabama A&M 28
Florida Atlantic Bethune-Cookman 15

The Big 12 Arises Like The Phoenix
A week after Texas and Baylor suffered devastating losses, the Big 12 returned from the dead with some major victories. Oklahoma went to the Giant Horseshoe and toyed with Ohio State for most of the evening. The Sooners looked about as effective on offense as they looked back in 2008, when they had Sam Bradford, Chris Brown, Demarco Murray, Juaquin Iglesias, Jermaine Gresham. But, it was the defense that really looked dominant. Oklahoma’s effort Saturday night reminded us more of their 2001 team that featured Tommie Harris, Rocky Calmus, Derrick Strait, and Roy Williams.

TCU’s defense totally shut down Arkansas in the Horned Frogs win at Fayetteville. TCU’s defense held Arkansas to 13 first downs and 267 total yards; more importantly, they held them to just 7 points.

Oklahoma State won on the road at South Alabama, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the Jaguars have a history of sneaking up on Power 5 conference teams.

Baylor lost once again, and Iowa State just missed against Iowa, while Texas played much better in their drubbing of San Jose St. The Longhorns get a chance to redeem themselves for the Maryland debacle when they venture to the LA Coliseum to take on USC this week. If UT keeps this game close, then watch out for the ‘Horns in Big 12 Conference play. It is a transition process into Coach Tom Herman’s offense, but Herman’s teams find a way to win, and Texas will win more than they did last year.

ACC Tilt Highlights Top Games This Week
Following Clemson’s defensive gem against Auburn, the Tigers must now face the reigning Heisman Trophy winner on his turf. Clemson’s game at Louisville tops this week’s schedule. Louisville has the horses to do to CU what they did to Florida State last year, but we believe Coach Dabo Swinney will come up with another brilliant game plan to slow down the Cardinal attack. The issue is whether the Clemson offense has enough to get to about 27 points, because even when you slow down the ‘Ville, you might still give up 24 points.

Clemson’s big rival has a big game this week. South Carolina hosts Kentucky. USC already owns a conference win and can take a major step forward toward competing with Georgia for the East Division flag. Kentucky has not looked up to the standards we thought they had the potential to be, performing so-so in wins over Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky.

Florida hosts Tennessee in the Swamp, and the Gators got a week off after their no-show event against Michigan. Meanwhile, Tennessee is playing its third game in 12 days and has suffered a couple of injury losses. The Vols’ offense has been at the extremes. On one drive, they look like Louisville, and on the next drive they look like a college version of the New York Jets or San Francisco 49ers. Florida was very consistent offensively against Michigan–they looked like the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on every drive against the Wolverines. Expect the Gators to play near their maximum capacity in this game. They cannot start 0-2 with a now 11-game schedule and have much chance to recover to much more than 7-4 and possibly just 6-5. A Tennessee win puts the Big Orange into the contender category in the mediocre East Division.

LSU travels north to take on an under-the-radar Mississippi State team that has circled this game on their schedule since Spring Ball. Miss State has just one win over the Tigers in the 16 games in this century, and that one win came at Baton Rouge. The last time the Bulldogs bested their Bayou Rivals in Starkville was 1999. The winner of this game has to be taken seriously as a top contender to Alabama.

Kansas State looks to prove that it belongs in the discussion in the Big 12, and the Wildcats have a tough game at Vanderbilt this week. The Commodores looked similar to Stanford and Michigan in their opening two wins, but to beat a top 15 team is a lot different than beating Middle Tennessee and Alabama A&M. This game actually features the top two passing offenses in Raw QB Ratings, as Kyle Shurmur has Vandy at #1, while Jesse Ertz has Kansas State at #2. This looks to be the best Kansas State offense since the great 1998 team almost made it to the National Championship Game.

The previously mentioned Texas-USC game should be interesting, but the Trojans should eventually win this one by two touchdowns or more. However, if the Longhorns can control the clock offensively, their questionable defense can hold on long enough to make this game close enough to be undecided until the fourth quarter.

The late game on the Coast has Stanford playing at San Diego State. If the Aztecs are to challenge for the Group of 5’s top spot and the New Year’s 6 Bowl, they must win this game. Stanford will be a tough out for the hometown team, but Rocky Long has SDSU looking like a team capable of running the table if they get past the Cardinal.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings
This happens frequently in September. A top team is upset by another team, but the top team still rates ahead of the team that beat them. That’s the liability of predictive ratings, and the strength of retrodictive ratings. We have three predictive ratings–the regular PiRate, the PiRate Mean, and the PiRate Bias. We also have one set of PiRate Retrodictive Ratings.

If you need a primer, predictive ratings take what the teams have done so far and tries to predict what they will do next week. So, if State U has a predictive rating of 113.5 and plays Tech with a rating of 110.2, then before home field advantage (and road team disadvantage) are factored in, State is expected to beat Tech by 3.3 points. Let’s say the game is at State, and our special Pirate formula shows State to have a 3.2 point home field advantage for this game. It would then be quite easy to see that State should beat teach by 6.5 points.

Our retrodictive rating does not try to predict the outcomes of the next week’s slate of games. It is only concerned with what the teams have done. If State and Tech were to have the same Retro Ratings as their predictive ratings, this would not indicate that State should win by 6.5 points. It only means that to date, State has been about 3.3 points better in their results than Tech has been (no home field advantage used because this rating does not predict outcomes).

Why are we bringing this up? Simple. Ohio State is still number two in our predictive ratings. Oklahoma is behind the Buckeyes. In our Retrodictive Ratings, Ohio State fell quite a bit, just like Florida State did after losing to Alabama.

How can our predictive ratings show Ohio State to still be number two? It is a case of methodology. Our updates to our Predictive Ratings are rather conservative, with the Mean Rating being the most conservative, and the Bias being the least conservative, but still conservative. Remember, our predictive ratings are only looking forward and not backward. It is easier to think in terms of a major upset, like when Ole Miss beat Alabama two consecutive seasons. These two wins did not jump Ole Miss over the Tide. In a similar manner, when LSU beat Alabama during the regular season in 2011, Alabama stayed ahead of LSU in the ratings. When they met again in the National Championship Game, Alabama was the favorite, and they won 21-0.

We will lead with our Retrodictive Ratings First–We have put the rating numbers in this week to show you the difference between these ratings and the Predictive Ratings.

PiRate Retrodictive
# Team Retro
1 Alabama 127.2
2 Clemson 125.8
3 Washington 124.9
4 Oklahoma 124.6
5 USC 124.1
6 Penn St. 123.8
7 LSU 122.3
8 Ohio St. 120.8
9 Oklahoma St. 120.4
10 Wisconsin 118.8
11 Michigan 118.6
12 Miami (Fla) 116.6
13 Louisville 116.5
14 Florida St. 116.4
15 Auburn 115.9
16 Virginia Tech 115.6
17 Stanford 114.5
18 Kansas St. 114.0
19 Georgia 113.9
20 Tennessee 113.1
21 TCU 112.7
22 Washington St. 112.4
23 Utah 112.2
24 Iowa 111.9
25 Colorado 111.8
26 Florida 111.5
27 Houston 111.3
28 Mississippi St. 110.8
29 South Florida 110.3
30 San Diego St. 110.0
31 Georgia Tech 109.5
32 South Carolina 109.3
33 UCLA 109.1
34 Oregon 108.9
35 Notre Dame 108.8
36 Vanderbilt 108.6
37 West Virginia 108.3
38 Minnesota 108.0
39 Boise St. 107.7
40 Michigan St. 107.0
41 Pittsburgh 106.7
42 Toledo 106.1
43 Texas A&M 104.8
44 Wake Forest 104.3
45 Nebraska 104.0
46 Maryland 103.8
47 Duke 103.7
48 Kentucky 103.7
49 North Carolina St. 103.1
50 Memphis 103.0
51 Northwestern 101.8
52 Navy 101.6
53 Ole Miss 101.5
54 California 101.3
55 Tulsa 101.1
56 Texas 101.0
57 Arkansas 100.7
58 Air Force 100.5
59 Western Michigan 100.1
60 Colorado St. 100.0
61 Texas Tech 99.8
62 BYU 99.3
63 Appalachian St. 98.7
64 North Carolina 98.4
65 Army 98.1
66 SMU 97.9
67 Central Florida 97.7
68 Temple 97.5
69 Boston College 97.3
70 Indiana 97.1
71 Old Dominion 96.8
72 Western Kentucky 96.7
73 Troy 96.5
74 Arkansas St. 96.4
75 UTSA 96.2
76 Iowa St. 96.0
77 Purdue 95.9
78 Wyoming 95.7
79 Louisiana Tech 95.4
80 Illinois 95.3
81 Missouri 95.2
82 Eastern Michigan 95.0
83 Central Michigan 94.8
84 Arizona St. 94.4
85 Arizona 94.2
86 Middle Tennessee 94.0
87 Northern Illinois 93.8
88 Ohio 93.6
89 Syracuse 93.5
90 Tulane 93.5
91 Baylor 93.3
92 Southern Miss. 93.2
93 Oregon St. 93.1
94 New Mexico 92.9
95 Hawaii 92.7
96 Utah St. 92.2
97 Idaho 91.5
98 Cincinnati 91.2
99 Miami (O) 91.1
100 Virginia 90.9
101 UL-Lafayette 90.7
102 Coastal Carolina 90.0
103 Akron 89.6
104 Marshall 89.6
105 Nevada 89.3
106 New Mexico St. 88.8
107 Rutgers 88.5
108 Ball St. 88.3
109 South Alabama 88.0
110 Fresno St. 87.9
111 Georgia Southern 87.4
112 North Texas 87.1
113 Connecticut 86.6
114 UL-Monroe 86.3
115 San Jose St. 86.1
116 Kent St. 85.9
117 Kansas 85.5
118 Rice 85.2
119 Buffalo 84.9
120 UNLV 84.4
121 East Carolina 83.7
122 Georgia St. 83.6
123 Florida Int’l. 83.4
124 Bowling Green 83.0
125 Florida Atlantic 82.6
126 UTEP 82.1
127 UAB 80.5
128 Texas St. 79.1
129 Charlotte 77.5
130 Massachusetts 75.3

Our Regular Predictive Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 133.0 128.2 132.0 131.1
2 Ohio St. 129.4 126.6 128.7 128.2
3 Washington 128.9 125.3 129.7 128.0
4 Clemson 128.9 125.1 128.1 127.4
5 Oklahoma 127.7 125.4 128.6 127.2
6 Florida St. 126.9 124.9 126.2 126.0
7 Penn St. 126.2 124.0 126.9 125.7
8 Auburn 124.0 121.9 123.8 123.2
9 U S C 122.0 121.3 122.3 121.9
10 Oklahoma St. 121.6 120.3 123.2 121.7
11 L S U 120.3 118.5 121.0 119.9
12 Wisconsin 121.1 117.2 119.4 119.3
13 Stanford 118.8 116.7 117.9 117.8
14 Miami 118.7 116.3 117.8 117.6
15 Louisville 117.7 116.6 118.0 117.4
16 Georgia 116.7 117.9 116.8 117.1
17 Michigan 117.1 116.4 116.3 116.6
18 Virginia Tech 116.2 115.8 116.6 116.2
19 Washington St. 116.8 114.0 115.9 115.6
20 Florida 115.4 114.7 114.7 114.9
21 Kansas St. 114.8 114.5 115.3 114.9
22 T C U 114.8 112.1 114.7 113.8
23 N. Carolina St. 113.4 113.1 113.1 113.2
24 Texas 112.0 113.0 112.0 112.4
25 Colorado 113.7 111.7 111.5 112.3
26 Georgia Tech 113.1 110.6 111.1 111.6
27 Iowa 111.5 111.2 111.2 111.3
28 Tennessee 112.0 110.0 110.2 110.7
29 Kentucky 111.3 109.8 110.8 110.6
30 Notre Dame 111.2 109.3 111.3 110.6
31 Oregon 111.1 107.9 110.2 109.7
32 U C L A 110.2 109.2 109.7 109.7
33 West Virginia 109.1 109.9 109.1 109.4
34 Vanderbilt 110.2 108.5 109.2 109.3
35 South Florida 109.5 107.7 110.7 109.3
36 Northwestern 109.4 107.5 109.3 108.7
37 Pittsburgh 108.8 108.7 108.0 108.5
38 Duke 109.5 108.1 107.9 108.5
39 N. Carolina 109.4 108.1 107.9 108.5
40 S. Carolina 108.8 108.0 108.0 108.3
41 Minnesota 108.0 108.0 107.5 107.8
42 Mississippi St. 107.0 107.6 107.4 107.3
43 Arkansas 106.7 106.2 106.5 106.5
44 Ole Miss 107.4 106.0 105.8 106.4
45 Utah 105.4 107.9 105.7 106.3
46 Maryland 105.6 107.7 105.7 106.3
47 Syracuse 106.7 105.1 105.8 105.9
48 Indiana 105.0 105.1 105.4 105.2
49 Memphis 104.9 103.9 105.3 104.7
50 Wake Forest 105.1 104.4 104.5 104.6
51 Nebraska 104.1 105.7 103.3 104.4
52 Texas A&M 105.1 102.7 103.7 103.8
53 Houston 104.2 103.0 103.8 103.7
54 Central Florida 102.6 104.7 103.5 103.6
55 Colo. State 103.9 102.5 103.8 103.4
56 Tulsa 102.8 102.1 102.8 102.6
57 Iowa State 101.7 102.8 102.4 102.3
58 Texas Tech 102.8 102.5 101.6 102.3
59 San Diego St. 100.9 101.5 102.1 101.5
60 Missouri 102.6 99.7 101.3 101.2
61 Boise St. 101.6 99.4 101.0 100.7
62 BYU 100.9 99.8 101.3 100.6
63 Virginia 99.9 99.9 101.3 100.4
64 Arizona St. 100.5 100.9 99.6 100.3
65 Boston College 100.1 101.2 99.5 100.3
66 Baylor 99.3 101.9 99.2 100.1
67 Michigan St. 98.6 102.0 99.5 100.0
68 Toledo 99.4 99.5 101.2 100.0
69 Western Michigan 100.4 97.7 101.8 100.0
70 Navy 99.0 100.0 98.9 99.3
71 Appalachian St. 99.7 96.9 100.2 98.9
72 Purdue 97.8 99.9 98.6 98.8
73 California 99.9 97.3 97.9 98.4
74 Arizona 98.7 97.5 96.6 97.6
75 Wyoming 98.7 96.3 97.5 97.5
76 SMU 97.2 97.5 97.6 97.4
77 Army 96.3 95.9 97.2 96.5
78 Rutgers 95.9 95.9 95.4 95.7
79 W. Kentucky 95.7 93.9 97.1 95.6
80 Temple 95.0 95.7 95.1 95.3
81 U T S A 93.9 95.6 96.1 95.2
82 Tulane 94.6 95.0 95.0 94.9
83 Eastern Michigan 94.6 94.2 94.5 94.4
84 Miami (O) 92.9 95.3 95.1 94.4
85 Middle Tennessee 93.5 93.8 94.3 93.9
86 Air Force 93.3 94.0 93.6 93.6
87 Troy 93.7 93.9 92.9 93.5
88 Oregon St. 92.8 92.9 91.3 92.3
89 Illinois 92.0 93.4 90.8 92.1
90 New Mexico 91.7 92.0 92.2 92.0
91 Old Dominion 90.6 93.5 91.1 91.7
92 Central Michigan 91.4 91.8 91.8 91.7
93 Cincinnati 89.9 92.4 91.4 91.2
94 Arkansas St. 89.5 91.1 91.2 90.6
95 Ohio U 89.5 91.4 90.4 90.4
96 Kansas 88.4 91.6 87.7 89.3
97 Hawaii 88.6 90.2 88.6 89.1
98 U N L V 87.5 90.4 87.9 88.6
99 Louisiana Tech 87.2 89.1 87.9 88.1
100 Connecticut 86.7 89.9 87.3 88.0
101 Fresno St. 88.1 86.7 88.2 87.7
102 Southern Miss. 87.1 88.5 87.2 87.6
103 Nevada 85.3 88.4 87.3 87.0
104 Utah St. 87.6 86.5 86.8 87.0
105 Northern Illinois 86.4 86.4 86.6 86.4
106 N. Mexico St. 87.1 84.6 86.6 86.1
107 East Carolina 84.9 86.4 84.8 85.4
108 Marshall 84.5 85.9 85.6 85.4
109 Akron 83.7 87.5 83.7 85.0
110 UL-Lafayette 84.2 85.8 84.0 84.7
111 Florida Atlantic 83.1 86.4 84.2 84.6
112 S. Alabama 83.5 86.4 83.7 84.5
113 Georgia St. 84.5 83.7 84.4 84.2
114 Buffalo 82.5 85.2 84.5 84.1
115 San Jose St. 84.5 83.7 83.8 84.0
116 Kent St. 82.9 84.1 83.9 83.6
117 Idaho 82.0 85.0 82.8 83.2
118 Massachusetts 83.4 82.6 83.1 83.0
119 N. Texas 81.3 82.9 81.2 81.8
120 Bowling Green 81.2 81.8 82.1 81.7
121 Florida Int’l. 81.2 81.4 82.2 81.6
122 UL-Monroe 81.8 82.1 80.3 81.4
123 Ball St. 79.0 81.4 80.6 80.3
124 Georgia Southern 79.9 81.2 79.5 80.2
125 Rice 79.6 80.7 80.1 80.1
126 Coastal Carolina 74.8 75.7 76.6 75.7
127 Charlotte 74.5 77.1 74.9 75.5
128 U T E P 72.9 77.3 74.0 74.8
129 Texas St. 71.5 74.8 70.3 72.2
130 UAB 64.1 69.3 66.1 66.5

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division            
Team AAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 0-0 2-0 109.5 107.7 110.7 109.3
Central Florida 0-0 1-0 102.6 104.7 103.5 103.6
Temple 0-0 1-1 95.0 95.7 95.1 95.3
Cincinnati 0-0 1-1 89.9 92.4 91.4 91.2
Connecticut 0-0 1-0 86.7 89.9 87.3 88.0
East Carolina 0-0 0-2 84.9 86.4 84.8 85.4
West Division            
Team AAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Memphis 0-0 1-0 104.9 103.9 105.3 104.7
Houston 0-0 1-0 104.2 103.0 103.8 103.7
Tulsa 0-0 1-1 102.8 102.1 102.8 102.6
Navy 1-0 2-0 99.0 100.0 98.9 99.3
SMU 0-0 2-0 97.2 97.5 97.6 97.4
Tulane 0-1 1-1 94.6 95.0 95.0 94.9
AAC Averages     97.6 98.2 98.0 97.9
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division            
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 0-0 2-0 128.9 125.1 128.1 127.4
Florida St. 0-0 0-1 126.9 124.9 126.2 126.0
Louisville 1-0 2-0 117.7 116.6 118.0 117.4
N. Carolina St. 0-0 1-1 113.4 113.1 113.1 113.2
Syracuse 0-0 1-1 106.7 105.1 105.8 105.9
Wake Forest 1-0 2-0 105.1 104.4 104.5 104.6
Boston College 0-1 1-1 100.1 101.2 99.5 100.3
Coastal Division            
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 0-0 1-0 118.7 116.3 117.8 117.6
Virginia Tech 0-0 2-0 116.2 115.8 116.6 116.2
Georgia Tech 0-0 1-1 113.1 110.6 111.1 111.6
Pittsburgh 0-0 1-1 108.8 108.7 108.0 108.5
Duke 0-0 2-0 109.5 108.1 107.9 108.5
N. Carolina 0-1 0-2 109.4 108.1 107.9 108.5
Virginia 0-0 1-1 99.9 99.9 101.3 100.4
ACC Averages     112.5 111.3 111.8 111.9
Big 12 Conference
Team B12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 0-0 2-0 127.7 125.4 128.6 127.2
Oklahoma St. 0-0 2-0 121.6 120.3 123.2 121.7
Kansas St. 0-0 2-0 114.8 114.5 115.3 114.9
T C U 0-0 2-0 114.8 112.1 114.7 113.8
Texas 0-0 1-1 112.0 113.0 112.0 112.4
West Virginia 0-0 1-1 109.1 109.9 109.1 109.4
Iowa State 0-0 1-1 101.7 102.8 102.4 102.3
Texas Tech 0-0 1-0 102.8 102.5 101.6 102.3
Baylor 0-0 0-2 99.3 101.9 99.2 100.1
Kansas 0-0 1-1 88.4 91.6 87.7 89.3
Big 12 Averages     109.2 109.4 109.4 109.3
Big Ten Conference
East Division            
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 1-0 1-1 129.4 126.6 128.7 128.2
Penn St. 0-0 2-0 126.2 124.0 126.9 125.7
Michigan 0-0 2-0 117.1 116.4 116.3 116.6
Maryland 0-0 2-0 105.6 107.7 105.7 106.3
Indiana 0-1 1-1 105.0 105.1 105.4 105.2
Michigan St. 0-0 2-0 98.6 102.0 99.5 100.0
Rutgers 0-0 0-2 95.9 95.9 95.4 95.7
West Division            
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 0-0 2-0 121.1 117.2 119.4 119.3
Iowa 0-0 2-0 111.5 111.2 111.2 111.3
Northwestern 0-0 1-1 109.4 107.5 109.3 108.7
Minnesota 0-0 2-0 108.0 108.0 107.5 107.8
Nebraska 0-0 1-1 104.1 105.7 103.3 104.4
Purdue 0-0 1-1 97.8 99.9 98.6 98.8
Illinois 0-0 2-0 92.0 93.4 90.8 92.1
Big Ten Averages     108.7 108.6 108.4 108.6
Conference USA
East Division            
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
W. Kentucky 0-0 1-1 95.7 93.9 97.1 95.6
Middle Tennessee 0-0 1-1 93.5 93.8 94.3 93.9
Old Dominion 0-0 2-0 90.6 93.5 91.1 91.7
Marshall 0-0 1-1 84.5 85.9 85.6 85.4
Florida Atlantic 0-0 0-2 83.1 86.4 84.2 84.6
Florida Int’l. 0-0 1-1 81.2 81.4 82.2 81.6
Charlotte 0-0 0-2 74.5 77.1 74.9 75.5
West Division            
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U T S A 0-0 1-0 93.9 95.6 96.1 95.2
Louisiana Tech 0-0 1-1 87.2 89.1 87.9 88.1
Southern Miss. 0-0 1-1 87.1 88.5 87.2 87.6
N. Texas 0-0 1-1 81.3 82.9 81.2 81.8
Rice 1-0 1-1 79.6 80.7 80.1 80.1
U T E P 0-1 0-2 72.9 77.3 74.0 74.8
UAB 0-0 1-1 64.1 69.3 66.1 66.5
CUSA Averages     83.5 85.4 84.4 84.4
FBS Independents
Team   Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame   1-1 111.2 109.3 111.3 110.6
BYU   1-2 100.9 99.8 101.3 100.6
Army   2-0 96.3 95.9 97.2 96.5
Massachusetts   0-3 83.4 82.6 83.1 83.0
Indep. Averages     97.9 96.9 98.2 97.7
Mid-American Conference
East Division            
Team MAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami (O) 0-0 1-1 92.9 95.3 95.1 94.4
Ohio U 0-0 1-1 89.5 91.4 90.4 90.4
Akron 0-0 1-1 83.7 87.5 83.7 85.0
Buffalo 0-0 0-2 82.5 85.2 84.5 84.1
Kent St. 0-0 1-1 82.9 84.1 83.9 83.6
Bowling Green 0-0 0-2 81.2 81.8 82.1 81.7
West Division            
Team MAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Toledo 0-0 2-0 99.4 99.5 101.2 100.0
Western Michigan 0-0 0-2 100.4 97.7 101.8 100.0
Eastern Michigan 0-0 2-0 94.6 94.2 94.5 94.4
Central Michigan 0-0 2-0 91.4 91.8 91.8 91.7
Northern Illinois 0-0 1-1 86.4 86.4 86.6 86.4
Ball St. 0-0 1-1 79.0 81.4 80.6 80.3
MAC Averages     88.7 89.7 89.7 89.3
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division            
Team MWC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colo. State 0-0 2-1 103.9 102.5 103.8 103.4
Boise St. 0-0 1-1 101.6 99.4 101.0 100.7
Wyoming 0-0 1-1 98.7 96.3 97.5 97.5
Air Force 0-0 1-0 93.3 94.0 93.6 93.6
New Mexico 0-0 1-1 91.7 92.0 92.2 92.0
Utah St. 0-0 1-1 87.6 86.5 86.8 87.0
West Division            
Team MWC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 0-0 2-0 100.9 101.5 102.1 101.5
Hawaii 0-0 2-1 88.6 90.2 88.6 89.1
U N L V 0-0 1-1 87.5 90.4 87.9 88.6
Fresno St. 0-0 1-1 88.1 86.7 88.2 87.7
Nevada 0-0 0-2 85.3 88.4 87.3 87.0
San Jose St. 0-0 1-2 84.5 83.7 83.8 84.0
MWC Averages     92.6 92.6 92.7 92.7
Pac-12 Conference
North Division            
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 0-0 2-0 128.9 125.3 129.7 128.0
Stanford 0-1 1-1 118.8 116.7 117.9 117.8
Washington St. 0-0 2-0 116.8 114.0 115.9 115.6
Oregon 0-0 2-0 111.1 107.9 110.2 109.7
California 0-0 2-0 99.9 97.3 97.9 98.4
Oregon St. 0-0 1-2 92.8 92.9 91.3 92.3
South Division            
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U S C 1-0 2-0 122.0 121.3 122.3 121.9
Colorado 0-0 2-0 113.7 111.7 111.5 112.3
U C L A 0-0 2-0 110.2 109.2 109.7 109.7
Utah 0-0 2-0 105.4 107.9 105.7 106.3
Arizona St. 0-0 1-1 100.5 100.9 99.6 100.3
Arizona 0-0 1-1 98.7 97.5 96.6 97.6
Pac-12 Averages     109.9 108.5 109.0 109.2
Southeastern Conference
East Division            
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 0-0 2-0 116.7 117.9 116.8 117.1
Florida 0-0 0-1 115.4 114.7 114.7 114.9
Tennessee 0-0 2-0 112.0 110.0 110.2 110.7
Kentucky 0-0 2-0 111.3 109.8 110.8 110.6
Vanderbilt 0-0 2-0 110.2 108.5 109.2 109.3
S. Carolina 1-0 2-0 108.8 108.0 108.0 108.3
Missouri 0-1 1-1 102.6 99.7 101.3 101.2
West Division            
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 0-0 2-0 133.0 128.2 132.0 131.1
Auburn 0-0 1-1 124.0 121.9 123.8 123.2
L S U 0-0 2-0 120.3 118.5 121.0 119.9
Mississippi St. 0-0 2-0 107.0 107.6 107.4 107.3
Arkansas 0-0 1-1 106.7 106.2 106.5 106.5
Ole Miss 0-0 2-0 107.4 106.0 105.8 106.4
Texas A&M 0-0 1-1 105.1 102.7 103.7 103.8
SEC Averages     112.9 111.4 112.2 112.2
Sunbelt Conference
Team SBC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 0-0 1-1 99.7 96.9 100.2 98.9
Troy 0-0 1-1 93.7 93.9 92.9 93.5
Arkansas St. 0-0 0-1 89.5 91.1 91.2 90.6
N. Mexico St. 0-0 1-1 87.1 84.6 86.6 86.1
UL-Lafayette 0-0 1-1 84.2 85.8 84.0 84.7
S. Alabama 0-0 0-2 83.5 86.4 83.7 84.5
Georgia St. 0-0 0-1 84.5 83.7 84.4 84.2
Idaho 0-0 1-1 82.0 85.0 82.8 83.2
UL-Monroe 0-0 0-1 81.8 82.1 80.3 81.4
Georgia Southern 0-0 0-2 79.9 81.2 79.5 80.2
Coastal Carolina 0-0 1-0 74.8 75.7 76.6 75.7
Texas St. 0-0 1-1 71.5 74.8 70.3 72.2
Sun Belt Averages     84.4 85.1 84.4 84.6

The Conferences Rated

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 112.9 111.4 112.2 112.2
2 ACC 112.5 111.3 111.8 111.9
3 BIG 12 109.2 109.4 109.4 109.3
4 PAC-12 109.9 108.5 109.0 109.2
5 BIG TEN 108.7 108.6 108.4 108.6
6 AAC 97.6 98.2 98.0 97.9
7 INDEP. 97.9 96.9 98.2 97.7
8 MWC 92.6 92.6 92.7 92.7
9 MAC 88.7 89.7 89.7 89.3
10 Sun Belt 84.4 85.1 84.4 84.6
11 CUSA 83.5 85.4 84.4 84.4

Bowl Projections begin in October

August 20, 2017

2017 Big Ten Preview

We kick off our Power 5 Conference previews today with the Big Ten Conference. While the Big Ten is our lowest rated Power 5 league to begin the season, the margin is miniscule. The number two through five leagues are separated by three points. What hurts the Big Ten is that four teams are below the norm among the entire 130 FBS roster. The other Power 5 leagues have 0, 1, or 2.

Most of the nation’s professional media have Ohio State as the overwhelming pick to win the league, and the PiRates believe the Buckeyes are the clear-cut favorite. However, Ohio State will face very stiff competition from Penn State again this season. The two teams are heavily loaded with talent, and the loser of this game could very well finish the regular season at 11-1 and have a small chance to earn a Playoff bid. The two teams square off in Columbus on October 28.

Michigan is looking at a major rebuilding project with the loss of 10 defensive starters. Having just five starters back on offense isn’t a picnic either, and Coach Jim Harbaugh has an opening game with Florida looming. The next three could come in any order, as Maryland, Indiana, and Michigan State are decent but not great teams. Two of this trio should become bowl-eligible.

The West will once again be competitive this year. Last year, five teams competed for the flag, and the same five should be involved in a hotly contested race this season. Wisconsin begins the year as the highest-rated team, but Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska are all capable of topping the Badgers. The race could end in a multiple-team tie, and 7-2 could even win the division outright yet again.

Jeff Brohm is the new ingredient in the Midwestern cocktail. He takes over a moribund Purdue program and promises to bring excitement to West Lafayette. Purdue has not been a factor for several years now, but the Boilermakers have a storied history as an exciting and innovative program that has pulled off big upsets. Brohm doesn’t have a lot of quality talent to work with in year one, but it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if the Boilermakers ruined a Saturday for a contending team.

Here is how the Big Ten media voted in the preseason poll.

Big Ten–East Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Ohio St. 34 260 29
2 Penn St. 7 231.5 4
3 Michigan 1 192 1
4 Michigan St. 0 128 0
5 Indiana 0 114 0
6 Maryland 0 100.5 0
7 Rutgers 0 38 0
Big Ten–West Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Wisconsin 31 259 4
2 Northwestern 5 219 0
3 Nebraska 2 176.5 0
4 Iowa 0 164.5 0
5 Minnesota 0 131 0
6t Purdue 0 57 0
6t Illinois 0 57 0

The PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings are in close step with the media.

Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 132.3 129.1 131.3 130.9
Penn St. 125.3 122.6 125.8 124.6
Michigan 116.5 115.7 115.5 115.9
Indiana 104.3 104.6 104.5 104.5
Maryland 101.8 104.3 101.7 102.6
Michigan St. 95.4 100.1 95.6 97.0
Rutgers 95.5 95.7 94.6 95.3
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 122.2 118.0 120.7 120.3
Northwestern 113.9 111.3 113.5 112.9
Iowa 111.6 111.2 111.3 111.4
Minnesota 106.8 106.3 106.5 106.5
Nebraska 104.7 106.3 104.0 105.0
Purdue 94.7 97.3 95.4 95.8
Illinois 90.1 92.0 88.4 90.2
Big Ten Averages 108.2 108.2 107.8 108.1

And, here are our not-so-scientific predictions for won-loss and bowl projections.

Big Ten Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
East Division      
Ohio St. 9-0 13-0 ***PLAYOFFS***
Penn St. 8-1 11-1 Cotton
Michigan 6-3 9-3 Outback
Indiana 3-6 6-6 Quick Lane
Maryland 2-7 4-8  
Michigan St. 2-7 4-8  
Rutgers 2-7 4-8  
Team Conference Overall Bowl
West Division      
Wisconsin 8-1 11-2 Citrus
Northwestern 6-3 9-3 Taxslayer
Minnesota 6-3 8-4 Foster Farms
Nebraska 5-4 7-5 Pinstripe
Iowa 4-5 7-5 Holiday
Purdue 1-8 2-10  
Illinois 1-8 2-10  
Ohio St. to win Big Ten Championship Game
No Big Ten team available for Armed Forces Bowl


Trivia: We are going to keep the previous trivia question open for a day or so. If you missed it, here it is again.
In 1918, Georgia Tech beat North Carolina State 118-0. For half a century no Division 1 team scored 100 points on another Division 1 team. In 1949 San Jose State beat New Mexico 103-0, but the Spartans would not become a major college participant until the following season, so this one doesn’t count. The last time a Division 1 team scored 100 points on another Division 1 team was in 1968, when current AAC West member Houston beat current AAC West member Tulsa 100-6.

A Houston wide receiver caught a 25-yard pass for a touchdown in that 100-6 game that made the score 93-6. He later went on to fame in the music business. A Tulsa lineman also became a famous celebrity on television and through his books.

Here are your three trivia questions:
1. Name the Houston Wide Receiver that would become a famous music celebrity.
2. Explain how this wide receiver once performed the National Anthem for a sporting event that was postponed soon after he performed, yet there was no rain, snow, or lightning.
3. Name the Tulsa lineman that became a famous TV celebrity and has used this game as a means to help advance his career.


Coming tomorrow: Read our Big 12 preview before you go watch the eclipse.  Is the sun going dark on this once great league, or is there life still in the Big 12?

November 3, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–November 3-7, 2016

Time to Punt
We thought we would be a bit clever and go with a slate of longshots that if just one selection won, it would be a big “fake” payout last week. Alas, we came up a game short in every selection, and none of the parlays cashed a winning ticket.

We also decided not to play any NFL parlays last week, and as luck would have it, most of the favorites won, and almost any parlay we might have played would have won. Such is life. But, even had every parlay we selected won last week, our bank account would have remained the same. As we try to make sure everybody reading this weekly entry, we do this just for fun and never wager a penny. These days, when it is almost time to ask, “Brother can you spare a dime,” betting anything on anything would be quite foolish. And, when happy days were here again way back when, we didn’t want to part with any of that hard-earned money. Thus, the only real advice we can give is, “work hard, be frugal, and save for the future.”

In past years, we have offered our predictions about a once-every-four-year event that happens the day following the first Monday in November. We are totally unsure of what will happen, next Tuesday, so we will not go there this year. Our hope is that whatever happens Tuesday, that the nation will come together and realize that we all must pull the rope from the same side and not against each other, or else we might lose what took 240 years to put together.

Now, returning to football and mathematics, here is what we are going with this week.

College Selections
We decided to select a couple of underdogs to win outright this week, but we did not bundle them together for the almost 6 to 1 odds. We’d rather guarantee a small profit if just one wins rather than a windfall requiring both to win.

1. Oklahoma State +133 vs. Kansas State.
Our members here believe this is a 50-50 tossup, so getting better than 13-10 odds is a plus in this game. Oklahoma State seems to play up to its competition, while Kansas State has been quiet this year and has not really played what many believe could be its best game. Also, when a team pulls off a big upset at home one week and then goes on the road to face a quality opponent the next week, the opponent usually has a better chance to win. That is why we believe the Money Line odds are so high, and because we believe this Cowboys’ team knows the Big 12 Championship is possible, we believe OSU will overcome the trend and win this one outright.

2. Arkansas +174 vs. Florida
Everything we just said about Oklahoma State could apply to Florida this week. The Gators come off a big win over rival Georgia and now go on the road to face a quality team. There are two differences in this selection from the selection above. Arkansas had a bye week last week, giving the Razorbacks two weeks to prepare for this game. Also, Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen is expected to be near 100% for this game after suffering a knee injury against Auburn two weeks ago. Arkansas needs an upset win in November to guarantee bowl eligibility, and we believe a team like Florida is vulnerable in this game. An Arky loss could mean the Hogs would be 5-6 when they go to Missouri in the final game.

3. 3-team parlay @ +121

Wyoming over Utah State
Colorado over UCLA
North Carolina over Georgia Tech

Wyoming beat Boise State last week in Laramie, and the Cowboys now have the Mountain Division title in their crosshairs after being the consensus choice to finish in last place. Coach Craig Bohl might be positioning himself to be a top candidate for some Power 5 conference job openings. In the past, numerous former Wyoming coaches have gone on to bigger and better things, because winning on a state with miles and miles of open space and few high school football programs says that this coach is a great recruiter, great organizer, and great leader.
Just down the road in Boulder, Mike MacIntyre has the Colorado Buffaloes within striking distance of winning the Pac-12 South Division. UCLA is a wounded bear and limping to the finish with what looks like a losing record this year. Josh Rosen’s season-ending injury seems like Deja vu for the men from Westwood, as just about every great quarterback since Gary Beban seems to have suffered an injury at some point. We’ll go with the Buffs to win big in Boulder in a prime-time Thursday night game.
North Carolina had an extra week to prepare for Georgia Tech’s spread option offense. That is worth an extra 7-10 points to the Tar Heel defense, and UNC doesn’t need that many extra points to make this a comfortable win for Coastal Division co-leader.

4. 4-team parlay @ +180

South Carolina over Missouri
Virginia Tech over Duke
Temple over Connecticut
BYU over Cincinnati
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was barbecued for his job at Florida, and a lot of fans and media thought his hiring at South Carolina was a mistake. The Gamecocks were picked to finish in last place inthe SEC East and overall by many sources, yet it looks like USC will become bowl eligible rather than settle in last place. To get to six wins, a win over struggling Missouri is a must, and we think the Gamecocks are not too cocky approaching this game coming off the upset of Tennessee.

Virginia Tech probably must run the table in the ACC in November to win the Coastal Division, because North Carolina might not lose another conference game. The Hokies hold the tiebreaker, but it probably won’t matter if they are 6-2. Duke can still get a bowl bid, mostly because they hold the number one spot in APR scores and would be the first team in the 5-7 sweepstakes if 5-7 teams are needed to fill bowl spots (expect at least 1 if not 3 to 5). Tech is plain better in this game and should win by double digits.

Temple coach Matt Rhule is one of the 10 best college coaches in America, and a bigger fish will eventually offer him a large payday to become their coach. It could be that Rhule will hold out until a certain big state school in the Keystone State has a job opening (for awhile that appeared to be ready to happen in 2017). The Owls are back in control of the AAC East with wins over the top three contenders in the division. A win at U Conn this weekend basically wraps up the division title for the second consecutive year.

BYU travels to the Queen City to take on a Cincinnati team that has dissension, and when a team is not on the same page, they suffer results similar to what the Bearcats are experiencing this year. We’ll go with the school playing as a team to beat the maybe more talented team on their home field.

4. 3-team Parlay at +117

Penn State over Iowa
Old Dominion over Marshall
Tulsa over East Carolina
Penn State is still alive for the Rose Bowl! Who could have imagined this a month ago when Coach James Franklin was on a very hot seat and not looking all that happy to be in Happy Valley? A win over Ohio State was a major shot in the arm for this once great program trying to find its way back from purgatory. If the Nittany Lions run the table, which they are capable of doing, and if Michigan wins out and makes the College Football Playoffs, the Rose Bowl could easily select Penn State as its substitute. Of course, this means that the home team must defeat a so-so Iowa team that hasn’t played consistently well this year after a great 2015 season.

Old Dominion has not been to a bowl in its short time in FBS football, but that is going to change this year. The Monarchs need just one more win to become bowl eligible, and their schedule is very favorable for as many as nine wins overall and almost assuredly eight. Marshall is suffering through a rebuilding year at 2-6 and still must play the four best teams in the division. We like ODU to become bowl eligible this week.

Tulsa was a dark horse candidate in the AAC West in the preseason–not to win the division, but just to become bowl eligible for a second year in a row after finishing 6-7 last year. Having to face Ohio State, Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Central Florida on the road would leave the Golden Hurricanes in a precarious position where they would have to all their home games just to guarantee a repeat of 6-6 in the regular season. Coach Phillip Montgomery has quietly installed the spread offense he brought from Baylor and has TU in line to win the West after the Hurricanes knocked off Memphis at the Liberty Bowl last week. The closing schedule is difficult, and the big game at Navy looms next week. In order for that game to really matter, Tulsa must win this week over a rebuilding East Carolina team that will give TU all they can handle, because ECU still holds very slim chances of becoming bowl eligible, and at 3-5, they must win this game. We’ll go with the home team and their big play offense.

6. NFL 3-team Parlay at +178

Kansas City over Jacksonville
Dallas over Cleveland
New Orleans over San Francisco
The 2016 version of the NFL does not allow us (or anybody else) to state matter of factly that any team is a sure thing to beat their next opponent. So, we will not tell you that these three favorites are so much better than the underdogs they are playing that this is almost free money this week. With the way things are going in 2016, chances are rather high that one of these weaker underdogs will win at home.

Jacksonville looked like an expansion team against Tennessee a week ago, so the Jaguars will probably play their best game of the season this week. However, the Chiefs are starting to resemble their teams in the last couple years where they get better and better every week, and their defense is creating a lot of offense with their takeaways.

Dallas is only a slim favorite against winless Cleveland, even though the Cowboys currently hold the number one seed in the NFC! The only sure thing in Cleveland this year is that the Browns will use as many quarterbacks as Terry Francona used pitchers in the World Series.

San Francisco looked terrific in week one, shutting out the hapless Los Angeles Rams. Since then, they have looked worse than Cleveland, while the Rams find themselves in contention for the playoffs. New Orleans began the year looking the exact opposite–like a team destined to lose double-digit games and maybe bring on regime change in the Crescent City. Now, the Saints are breathing down the Falcons’ necks, and it figures that Drew Brees and company should win this game by double digits.

October 27, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–October 27-31, 2016

The Hook
We talked about this in a previous posting, but we now have real data to show you why you should not wager real money on our picks. Last week, we hit a small bonanza, and we came within a few seconds of a major, albeit imaginary, windfall profit.

We issued four long shot money line parlays, each returning better than 2 to 1 odds. We won on two of the four and came within seconds of winning the third one. As it is, our profit from last week was 61% return on the investment. Had that third game that we lost in the last seconds been a winner as well, our profit would have exceeded 100% on the investment.

It’s the “last-second”, “one play,” “fluke play” stuff that hooks the investor to make him or her return the next week to wager more. We have no problem with this. We can wager “$500,000,” and it is the same as if we wagered “$1.” It’s just a fun exercise for a half dozen math geeks, four of whom are members of the fairer sex by the way.

What we have noticed so far this season is that our college picks are winning, while the NFL picks are not doing well at all. The 2016 NFL season has been too tipsy-turvy to hit on parlays. Sure, you can pick New England to win at -300, but that won’t help you much, because at -300, the Patriots basically have to win out to keep you from losing money. If they go 12-4, and you bet on them to win every week at a -300 average, you will invest $300 every week and win $100 12 times, while losing $300 four times. This would allow you to break even in theory, but New England doesn’t go off at -300 each week. They might lose at -450. They might win at -600 over a lousy team. Your invested amount won’t get you the profit to buy that new pearl necklace for that special lady in your life, or that new cell phone with the 16 megapixel camera to replace that camera that is best used to start a campfire.

Until otherwise determined to be safe, we are going to limit our money line parlays to college games only. The upset tendencies this time of year tend to be more conservative than the NFL.

For the season, our “just for fun only” picks have wagered on 31 money line parlay games, all at better than even money odds. We have won 10 of the 31 at an average of $283.25 (on $100 wagered) and lost the other 21 ($-100). This brings us a return of $-130 for the season, which is still a negative 4% return on investment. For what it’s worth, the college selections are responsible for 80% of the winnings, and those picks alone have a positive return on investment, which is why we are going only with college picks this week.

We are going to issue just three selections this week. All three are very long shots such that winning just any one of these three games will make our week an imaginary profitable one. One of the parlays combines two underdogs that we believe can win outright and return an incredible 6+ times what we are pretending to invest.

Look carefully at all three parlays. There is a reason they call them “long shots.” Chances are high that all three will lose, so be forewarned all you reading this with a URL from Las Vegas as well as all you that have figured out which two online books you can find to plug the numbers into a calculator and discover which book we used for each parlay. Remember this: just since we started this feature 15 minutes ago, three of the games that make up the parlays have changed the money line odds.

This Week’s Games

October 27-31,2016
1. College Parlay @ +295
Temple over Cincinnati
Indiana over Maryland
Memphis over Tulsa
Central Michigan over Kent St.
N. C. St. over Boston College
2. College Parlay @ +324
Toledo over Ohio
Wake Forest over Army
Southern Miss. over Marshall
Florida over Georgia
Tennessee over South Carolina
Penn St. over Purdue
Washington St. over Oregon St.
3. College Parlay @ +607
North Texas over UTSA
Kentucky over Missouri



August 20, 2016

2016 Big Ten Conference Football Preview

The Power 5 Conference previews begin today, and in the unusual spot of lowest ranked of the Big 5 stands the 14-member Big Ten. In actuality, just three points separates the fifth best conference from the second best this year, so the Big Ten is basically in a four-way tie for second best conference this year.

Being the fifth best league does not mean the Big Ten will not have a team in the third FBS College Football Playoffs. In fact, three teams have the talent to run the table and earn one of the four coveted spots. And overall, the PiRates believe 11 teams could be bowl eligible this year. This means that at least one and probably two teams will fill vacant spots as at-large candidates.

The power once again rests in the East Division, where six of the seven members have a chance to get to six wins. In recent years, it has come down to the Ohio State-Michigan State game, but this year we believe a third team will crash the party. Second year head coach Jim Harbaugh has quickly rebuilt the Michigan Wolverines to a point where the Maize and Blue are ready to return to greatness not seen in a decade. The Wolverines improved immediately in year one, becoming tougher on both sides of the ball and doubling their wins from the year before from five to ten.

The same improvement in year two could make Michigan a national title contender. The offense loses a good quarterback in Jake Rudock, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but unlike recent years, there is a competition among multiple quality quarterbacks, and whoever wins the battle will be a talented and competent leader. Expect Michigan’s passing game to remain as strong as last year, whether former Houston QB John O’Korn or Wilton Speight wins the job.

Whoever winst that job will have a bevy of highly-talented receivers catching the passes. Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh combined for 108 catches and 14 touchdowns as the starting wideouts last year, while tight end Jake Butt added 51 catches.

Running back De’Veon Smith is another pass-catching weapon, but his main goal is continuing to improve as a multi-talented runner who can plunge forward up the middle for an extra yard or two and break a long run to the outside. Backup Ty Isaac is capable of taking over a game if he can become more consistent.

Where Michigan should win most games this year is up front, as their offensive line has no peers inside the league. There is talent throughout the two-deep, led by center Mason Cole, guard Kyle Kalis, and tackle Erik Magnuson.

The other side of the ball is strong and potentially dominating up front, as the defensive line has a quartet of brick walls. Opponents will run away from the side end Chris Wormly lines up on, and quarterbacks will worry about his rushing when dropping back to pass. Taco Charlton will see improved stats this year, as he faces more plays to his end of the line.

The pass defense was a little vulnerable at times, but the back seven should be better this year, led by potential All-American cornerback Jabrill Peppers.

If it wasn’t for a schedule that includes road games with Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State, the media and other experts might be calling for a 12-0 regular season. Maybe, just the Pirates believe it is possible this year.

Ohio State looks to be in a rebuild season, but in Columbus, rebuilding means a possible 9-3 season. The Buckeyes lost so much from last year’s 12-1 season on both sides of the ball. Sure, there is still a ton of talent left on this squad, but we believe OSU will be about a touchdown weaker overall.

J.T. Barrett returns at quarterback after splitting the job with Cardale Jones, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Barrett is a better fit in Coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense, but defenses might be able to sneak defenders toward the line without worrying as much about being beaten deep by the arm of Jones.

The biggest replacement Meyer must make is at running back, where Ezekiel Elliott might be the leading candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year in Dallas. Finding capable receivers to replace Michael Thomas, Jalen Marshall, and Braxton Miller will be nearly as difficult.

The offensive line must replace three starters, but there was a lot of talented depth here last year, and we don’t see this becoming much of a problem this year.

Defensively, the Buckeyes return one starter to the line, one at linebacker, and one in the secondary. Middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan and end Tyquan Lewis could both become All-Americans, while end Sam Hubbard has all-league potential.

Road games with Oklahoma and Michigan State should be too much for the inexperienced Buckeyes to handle this year, so it could be a bowl other than the New Year’s 6 this year.

Michigan State faces a similar but less rebuilding effort this year after making the NCAA Playoffs in 2015. Coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans won a lot of close games last year in their road to the Big Ten title, and a small rebuild should mean that some of those close wins last year could become close losses this year. Replacing quarterback Connor Cook may be the toughest replacement in the entire league, and number two might be finding one or more players to replace the production of defensive star Shilique Calhoun.

Penn State coach James Franklin is 14-12 in his first two seasons in Happy Valley, and another 7-6 year will leave Nittany Lion fans very unhappy. Although most of the offense returns this year, one player missing is quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Although Hackenberg had issues with the Franklin offense, he still was good enough to become an NFL Draft pick, and nobody on the current roster has his skills.

The Defense loses a lot of talent, but possibly more important is the loss of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, who will be directing the defense at Tennessee this year. September 10 could be an important Saturday for Franklin’s future in State College. A loss at Pittsburgh could get the alumni moving to find a replacement.

Indiana and Maryland don’t figure to contend for an upper division spot this year, but both teams have enough talent to go 3-0 outside of league play and find three more wins to get to 6-6. Rutgers is not in that same boat. The Scarlet Knights will be fortunate to avoid double digit losses.

Although the West Division is not as strong, the competition might be fiercer. Four teams have the potential to end up in the Big Ten Championship Game, while a fifth should be bowl eligible.

Iowa is the slight favorite to repeat as division champions, but Nebraska might be the most improved team in the division. The two rivals meet in Iowa City on Black Friday.

Wisconsin has the talent to win double digit games in most years, but not this year with a schedule that only a masochist could design. The Badgers face the two Michigan schools on the road and must face Ohio State at home, and then add a game at Lambeau Stadium against national title contender LSU. They also play at Iowa, and all of these games occur by October 22.

Northwestern is a mystery team this year to some extent. The Wildcats return a lot of talent from a 10-3 team, but overall that talent is not as strong as the other contenders. Coach Pat Fitzgerald finds a way to squeeze every yard and point out of his offense, while the defense always plays better on the whole than the sum of its parts.

Minnesota begins its first full season under Coach Tracy Claeys, who took over after Jerry Kill retired after the season began last year. The Gophers should be about as good this year as last, which means a probable lower-tier bowl.

Illinois and Purdue do not have the talent to compete for bowl eligibility, but both teams are capable of pulling off an upset. Last year, they both upset Nebraska and could have knocked the Cornhuskers out of a bowl.

The Big Ten does not sanction an official media preseason poll, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer does the job for the league in an unofficial capacity. Here is that poll.

Big Ten–East Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Ohio St. 31 260.5 27
2 Michigan 14 241 11
3 Michigan St. 1 195.5  
4 Penn St. 0 155.5  
5 Indiana 0 110  
6 Maryland 0 81.5  
7 Rutgers 0 52  
Big Ten–West Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Iowa 33 265 1
2 Nebraska 3 206  
3 Wisconsin 2 194.5  
4 Northwestern 1 171.5  
5 Minnesota 1 132  
6 Illinois 0 76.5  
7 Purdue 0 46.5  


Here are our initial PiRate Ratings for the league.

Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan 120.0 118.0 120.4 119.5
Ohio St. 113.3 113.5 113.5 113.4
Michigan St. 113.1 112.4 111.1 112.2
Penn St. 109.5 111.3 108.0 109.6
Indiana 101.5 106.0 100.9 102.8
Maryland 100.9 104.2 98.1 101.1
Rutgers 99.0 96.2 97.3 97.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Iowa 114.6 110.9 114.2 113.2
Nebraska 110.4 105.9 110.5 108.9
Wisconsin 109.1 105.9 109.5 108.2
Northwestern 109.7 103.5 108.1 107.1
Minnesota 104.8 102.8 104.7 104.1
Illinois 100.6 97.2 99.8 99.2
Purdue 99.4 96.6 98.3 98.1


The PiRate Ratings are meant to be used only to predict the outcomes of the next week of games, and are not best used to predict beyond that point. Because we use algorithms that include automatic adjustments by each team based on depth and experience, two different teams can win by the exact score we predict, and their new ratings might change differently.

Thus, using our ratings to predict won-loss records and bowl projections is a bit comical, but then we all need some laughs every now and then. So, laugh away at our projected standings and bowls.

Big Ten Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
East Division      
Michigan 9-0 13-0 * Playoffs–Fiesta
Ohio St. 7-2 9-3 Citrus
Michigan St. 7-2 9-3 Outback
Penn St. 6-3 8-4 Music City
Indiana 3-6 6-6 [Cactus] *
Maryland 3-6 6-6 [Birmingham] *
Rutgers 1-8 3-9  
Team Conference Overall Bowl
West Division      
Iowa 7-2 10-3 Holiday
Nebraska 5-4 8-4 Pinstripe
Northwestern 5-4 8-4 Foster Farms
Wisconsin 5-4 7-5 Quick Lane
Minnesota 4-5 7-5 Heart of Dallas
Illinois 1-8 3-9  
Purdue 0-9 3-9  
* Indiana’s Cactus Bowl Bid is an at-large selection
* Maryland’s Birmingham Bowl Bid is an at-lerge selection

Coming up tomorrow: The Big 12 Conference was close to going on life support until Oklahoma made the playoffs last year.  Now, with the possibility of new blood coming soon, and the likelihood that the Sooners could be better this year, there’s hope for the league.  Find out which teams are contenders, which are pretenders, and what team could surprise a lot of people this season.


March 14, 2011

2011 PiRate NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:01 pm

1. Which teams meet the upper range criteria in every category?  That means they outscored their opponents by eight or more per game; their field goal percentage was greater than 7.5% better than their opponents; they outrebounded their opponents by five or more per game; they forced at least three more turnovers per game than they committed; and they stole the ball 7.5 or more times per game.


ANSWER—No teams this year meet all the perfect criteria described above.  Six teams come close to meeting the perfect criteria, but all fall short in at least one statistic.  This means there is no clear-cut favorite—only six teams that most closely resemble the great champions of the past.  Of the six, three come from power conferences.  These three are Kansas, Ohio State, and Syracuse.


Kansas fails to meet the turnover margin requirement, but the Jayhawks surpass all the other qualifications.  Ohio State comes up a tad bit short in field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and steals per game, but just misses in all three.  Syracuse misses in rebounding and turnover margin, but they Orangemen do not miss by much. 


2. Which teams can be immediately eliminated due to a negative R+T rating?  Which teams have an incredibly low R+T Rating (<2.0)?


ANSWER—Three teams can immediately be eliminated due to negative R+T Ratings.  It comes as no surprise that Alabama State and Texas-San Antonio, two teams facing off in the First Round in Dayton, have negative R+T ratings.  The third team is Michigan.  The Wolverines were outrebounded by 1.9 boards per game, and they only had a +1.4 turnover margin with just 4.7 steals per game.


Five other teams finished with R+T ratings less than 2.0.  This usually means one and done for these teams, unless they have outstanding FG% margins or cupcake opponents with worse criteria numbers.  Those five teams are: Penn State, Richmond, St. Peter’s, UCLA, and UCSB.


3. Which teams are capable of winning it all?


ANSWER—We separate the contenders from the pretenders by looking at the total PiRate Criteria score and then looking to see if the high criteria scoring teams receive merit on every individual statistic.


Last year, Duke was head and heels better than the other 64 teams.  The Blue Devils had the highest score overall, and they satisfactorily rated in every PiRate category.


No teams appear to be as strong this year as the Blue Devils were last year, but nine teams meet most of the minimum requirements to be considered Final Four contenders this year.


It should come as no surprise that the top two teams, Ohio State and Kansas, rank at the top in the Criteria.  Kansas actually has the highest score of the 68 teams, a score of 23.  The Jayhawks outscored their opposition by 17.2 points, shot 11.7% better from the field than their opponents, and outrebounded their opponents by 7.8 boards per game.  These stats are worthy of a powerhouse.  However, KU enjoyed just a 0.9 turnover margin and stole the ball 7.9 times per game, giving the Jayhawks an R+T Rating of 9.5.  We tend to look for teams with an R+T Rating in excess of 10, so KU is not a great favorite to go all the way. 


Ohio State’s total Criteria score is 21, good for second best.  However, the Buckeyes enjoy an R+T Rating of 13.2, which is a number we really like in a Final Four contender.  This number correlates to 13 extra scoring opportunities that their opposition does not receive.  OSU outscores their opponents by 17.3 points per game, shot 6.9% better from the field than they allows, outrebounded their opponents by 4.9 per game, had a turnover margin of +4.8, and stole the ball 7.2 times per game. 


San Diego State comes in third with 19 total criteria points.  BYU, Pittsburgh, and Texas come in next with 18 points; the Panthers have an R+T rating above 10.  The other three teams with PiRate Criteria scores showing themselves to be strong contenders for a Final Four berth are Syracuse, Purdue, and Duke


Florida, North Carolina, and UNLV are actually almost in a statistical tie with Duke, meaning those three are dark horse candidates for the Final Four.


Overall, this is the weakest field by far in the six tournaments where we have ranked the teams according to our criteria.  Looking back, this could be the weakest field since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. 


North Carolina State, Kansas, and Villanova won national titles in the past with less than stellar numbers.  We do not have all the statistics from those years, so we cannot really calculate criteria numbers for those three champions.  Could this be a season in which one team gets hot for six games and comes from out of the pack to win it all?  It could happen, but we are sticking with this mechanical system and going with its results.  Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Texas appear to be the best PiRate Criteria matches to past Final Four teams, and they are the quartet we officially pick to make it to Houston.  Syracuse becomes the wildcard team that could sneak into the mix.


Here is a look at the First Four Round One games and the 32 second round games.  The number in (parentheses) represents the PiRate Bracketnomics criteria number.


First Four Round


#16 Texas-San Antonio 19-13 (Elim) vs. #16 Alabama State 17-17 (Elim)

At first, we thought this was highly ironic, but upon further review, we consider it sort of a compliment.  These two teams both must be eliminated based on negative R+T ratings.  Of course, one of them must win this game so that they can advance to a 25-point or more loss in the next round.


Most of you filling out your brackets do not have to worry about these games in Dayton.  You get to turn in your choices after these games have been played.


UTSA has better criteria numbers after you factor out both teams’ R+T numbers. 


Prediction: Texas-San Antonio 64  Alabama State 55



#12 U A B 22-8 (2) vs. #12 Clemson 21-11 (1)

If you have been following the “experts” since the pairings were announced Sunday evening, then you know that these two teams do not belong in the tournament in their opinion.  It is not our mission statement to declare which teams should and should not have been included in the Big Dance, but we will tell you that Harvard and Saint Mary’s enjoyed Criteria scores several points better than these two teams, while Colorado and Virginia Tech had equal numbers to these two.


This game should be as close as the criteria scores show.  UAB has a one-point advantage in the criteria, but the Blazers just do not excel in any stage of the game.  Clemson’s strong point is forcing turnovers by way of steals, and that leads to a lot of cheap baskets.  Cheap baskets pay off big time in the NCAA Tournament, so we will take the Tigers in this one.


Prediction: Clemson 74  UAB 67


#11 Southern Cal 19-14 (-1) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth 23-11 (-1)

The winner of this game is going home two days later.  Neither team merits inclusion in the Big Dance this year. 


Southern Cal has no apparent weakness according to the PiRate Criteria.  In fact, they have a great resume—for an NIT team.


The Trojans outscore their opponents by four points per game, and they outshoot them by 3.3%.  They have a small rebounding margin of 1.2, and they have an even smaller turnover margin of 0.6.  They average six steals per game and have a R+T rating of 2.1.  On top of these modest numbers, their schedule was average.


VCU is much in the same boat as USC with two exceptions.  They have a negative turnover margin, but they also average 8.5 steals per game.


The only other difference in these teams is their records away from home.  USC won only 41% of their games, while VCU won 60%.


This one is quite tough to pick, but we will go with the Trojans due to their superior inside talent.  We expect USC to win the rebounding edge by at least five.


Prediction: Southern Cal  65  V C U  60


#16 UNC-Asheville 19-13 (-5) vs. #16 Arkansas-Little Rock 19-16 (-13)

Obviously, we have two teams that would not even merit NIT bids had they lost in the championship games of their conference tournaments.  UALR has one of the lowest Criteria Scores in the seven years we have been calculating this data.


UNC-Asheville actually has a couple of positive Criteria stats.  Their R+T is 5.5, which had it come against a more difficult schedule, would have made them worthy of becoming a possible team to watch in the Round of 64.


We will go with UNCA here, as schedule strength is about the same for both teams.


Prediction: UNC-Asheville 69  Arkansas-Little Rock 59



Second-Round Games


East Regional


#1 Ohio State 32-2 (21) vs. #16 UTSA (Elim)/Alabama State (Elim)

This game will be over quickly.  There will be no scare, not even for two TV timeouts.  The second highest Criteria score versus one of the teams with an R+T Rating of “Eliminate.”


The Buckeyes outscored their opponents by more than 17 points per game.  Their strength of schedule was 13 points better than UTSA and 16 points better than Alabama State. 


We will go under the theory that UTSA will be the opponent in this game.  Using our Criteria Rating, Ohio State figures to be 30-40 points better than UTSA.  Coach Thad Matta will definitely empty his bench early in this game, so the Buckeyes may “only win” by 25-30. 


Prediction: Ohio State 78  Texas-San Antonio 50


#8 George Mason 26-6 (8) vs. #9 Villanova 21-11 (5)

George Mason is the higher seed in this game, so if they win, it cannot really be considered an upset.


Villanova was on course to be a four-seed when the Wildcats were 16-5 and contending for the Big East Conference regular season title.  The Wildcats could not compete down low against the more physical teams in their league.


George Mason has a higher PiRate Criteria Score, but it is not an insurmountable advantage.  The key stat for this game is the R+T Rating.  For GMU, it is 6.8.  For VU, it is 4.9.  Considering that Villanova played a harder schedule, these numbers basically cancel each other out, thus making this a tossup game.


There are two variables to consider here.  George Mason performed much better on the road, and Villanova is banged up a bit.


Prediction: George Mason 66  Villanova 62


#5 West Virginia 20-11 (6) vs. #12 UAB (2)/Clemson (1)

We believe the Mountaineers will be facing Clemson in this game, but the prediction will hold up if they play UAB. 


West Virginia is not as good this season as last season, and the Mountaineers will not advance to the Final Four, or even the Elite Eight.  They are liable to be out by the end of the weekend.  However, they are strong enough to get into the Round of 32. 


The Mountaineers best attribute is that they put up decent numbers against one of the toughest schedules in the country.  Of the NCAA Tournament teams, only Georgetown played a tougher schedule.  They will have to limit turnovers, or else this game will be close and go down to the wire.  We believe Coach Bob Huggins will be able to keep the pace at a level he likes and not allow Clemson (or UAB) to force the Mountaineers into enough mistakes to turn the tide.


Prediction: West Virginia 69  Clemson 62 (Or UAB 58)


#4 Kentucky 25-8 (14) vs. #13 Princeton 25-6 (-2)

Princeton has pulled off the big upset in the past, and they came within a missed jumper at the buzzer of becoming the only #16 seed to beat a #1 seed.  However, that was two decades ago.  The Tigers have not been to the NCAA Tournament in seven years, and that big win over UCLA was 15 years ago. 


Kentucky is not the type of team that will allow Princeton’s style of play to affect their style of play.  The Wildcats should actually play better than their norm with fewer mistakes. 


We believe that Princeton will actually crumble under relentless man-to-man pressure and turn the ball over enough times in the opening minutes of the game to allow the Wildcats to open a quick double-digit lead.  This group of Cats tends to fiddle around a little once they get a quick double-digit lead and then play uninspired ball until the opponent makes a run.  Then, they go on the attack at the right time and put the game away.


Adolph Rupp had a team just like this in 1958.  They were called “The Fiddlin’ Five.”  They were also called National Champions.  We won’t go so far as to put UK into this category, but we will advance the Wildcats into the next round and then into the Sweet 16.


Prediction: Kentucky 72  Princeton 59


#6 Xavier 24-7 (8) vs. #11 Marquette 20-14 (3)

If you are looking for a tough, hard-fought game with two Midwestern teams, then tune into this game Friday evening.


If the Musketeers were a little more competent at forcing turnovers, they could be a dark horse candidate to advance to the Elite Eight.  XU shoots the ball well and plays well on defense when it comes to preventing a lot of easy shots.  They do well on the boards, and against a team that cannot exploit their ball-handling and ball-hawking deficiencies, they will hold their own inside.  The only other possible problem for the Musketeers is a lack of depth, but in the NCAA Tournaments, TV timeouts are longer.  It is hard to wear a team down with such long breaks every four or so minutes.


Marquette does not have enough depth to take advantage of Xavier’s lack of depth, so this factor will become a non-factor.  The Golden Eagles got to this tournament due to their ability to put the ball into the basket.  Marquette needs to shoot better than 46% to win, while Xavier is adept at holding teams under 45% as a rule.


Prediction: Xavier 71  Marquette 65


#3 Syracuse 26-7 (17) vs. #14 Indiana State 20-13 (-4)

Syracuse has been getting very little national exposure since their 18-0 start ended with an 8-7 finish.  The Orangemen are a team to watch in this tournament.  If not for a pedestrian 71% winning percentage away from the Carrier Dome, we would have them as one of the top four teams in this tournament.


Coach Jim Boeheim’s team outscores their opposition by 10.3 points per game; they outshoot them by 7.6%, and they outrebound them by 3.6 boards per game.  Their turnover margin is +1.9, and they averaged almost nine steals per game.  Their R+T Rating is 7.6, and their Strength of Schedule is somewhere between above-average and very good.  This is the Criteria Score of a team that will advance to the Sweet 16 and compete for an Elite Eight and Final Four berth.


Indiana State needs the return of Larry Bird to win this game.  They are too perimeter-oriented.  The Sycamores do not have the beef down low to contend in the paint, and even though Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone, teams rarely beat the Orangemen by firing up 25 long-range bombs.


This one smells like a blowout.


Prediction: Syracuse 81  Indiana State 62


#7 Washington 23-10 (13) vs. #10 Georgia 21-11 (2)

Washington is one of those teams that can play with anybody in this tournament—when they are playing up to their potential.  The Huskies could also exit in the first round if they play like they did the weekend they went to Oregon and Oregon State.


Georgia is much more consistent, but their best effort will not defeat the Huskies’ best effort.


Washington lacked the seasoned experience this season, and it showed when they ventured away from Seattle.  The Huskies lost to weaker opponents because they lacked the composure to win on foreign courts.  That changed when they arrived in Los Angeles for the Pac-10 Tournament.  Isaiah Thomas took over command of the team and led them to the tournament title.  This makes UW a scary and dangerous team capable of returning to the Sweet 16.


Georgia must really dominate the glass in this game, because we believe they will turn the ball over too many times against UW’s pressure man-to-man defense.  It is our opinion that the Bulldogs will play a little timidly at the start of this game and find themselves in a hole.


The Bulldogs had trouble against Alabama’s defense, and Washington is similar but with a much better offense.


Prediction: Washington 78  Georgia 70


#2 North Carolina 26-7 (15) vs. #15 Long Island 27-5 (-1)


Long Island is just the type of team that can forget that their opponent is a dynasty program that chews up and spits out little programs like this.


Teams from Brooklyn don’t intimidate easily, especially when they are led by a trio of Texans.  So, LIU will not be intimidated, but will they be talented enough to make a game of this contest?


That’s the rub.  They lack the defensive ability to slow down the Tar Heels, while Coach Roy Williams’ team will be able to hold the Blackbirds under their scoring average.  The big problem for LIU will be holding onto the ball, and we could see North Carolina forcing 20 turnovers in this game.  When the Tar Heels force more turnovers than they commit, they are almost unbeatable.  This game could be interesting for a short time, but it will eventually get out of hand.


Prediction: North Carolina 88  Long Island 70


West Regional


#1 Duke 30-4 (15) vs. #16 Hampton 24-8 (-8)

Duke has nothing to worry about here.  This will be like one of their November/December home games where they quickly put the cupcake away with a barrage of power and speed.  You know the type: a 37-point win over Princeton; a 34-point win over Miami of Ohio; a 52-point win over Colgate.


Hampton got to the Dance using an aggressive defense and three-point shooting barrage on offense.  Duke will not be affected by the defensive pressure, and they will cut off the open shots from the outside.  It will be a mercy killing, and it will be quick.  Look for the Blue Devils to be up by more than 15 points before the halfway point of the first half.  By the time Coach K empties the bench, the Blue Devils should be up by 25-30 points.


Prediction: Duke 81  Hampton 61


#8 Michigan 20-13 (Elim) vs. #9 Tennessee 19-14 (10)

Michigan is the highest-rated team that fails to meet our R+T Rating requirement, so the Wolverines are automatically tabbed as a first-round loser.


Coach Jim Beilein has been in a similar position before.  He guided a West Virginia team with not-so-flashy Criteria numbers to the Elite Eight, where they forced Louisville to come from 20 points down to rally for the victory.  That WVU team had one of the worst negative rebounding numbers of any team in Elite Eight history, but that team made few mistakes and had a nice turnover margin.


This Michigan team was only outrebounded by two a game, but they do not create enough extra possessions with their miniscule turnover margin of 1.4 and their average of just 4.7 steals per game.


Tennessee has been up and down, and the Volunteers are not going to make a repeat run to the Elite Eight this year.  However, Coach Bruce Pearl’s troops will control the boards in this game and maybe force more turnovers than they commit.  We figure that Tennessee will have 10 more opportunities to score in this game, and that is too many for the Wolverines to make up with their three-point shooting.


Prediction: Tennessee 74  Michigan 69


#5 Arizona 27-7 (3) vs. #12 Memphis 25-9 (-1)

Memphis was not going to earn an at-large bid this season had they failed to win the Conference USA Tournament.  They received an ideal first round opponent, and the Tigers actually have a fighting chance to pull off yet another classic #12-seed over #5-seed upset.


Arizona needs to pound the ball inside and rely on numerous offensive rebounds to win this game.  Other teams might be able to exploit Memphis’s poor ball-handling skills, but the Wildcats do not have the defensive acumen to take advantage here.


Memphis will try to make this an up-tempo game where they can neutralize Arizona’s height advantage inside.  It has a chance of working, but Arizona probably has too much power inside and just enough quickness to stop the Tigers’ transition game.


Prediction: Arizona 76  Memphis 69


#4 Texas 27-7 (18) vs. #13 Oakland 25-9 (3)

This has become a popular upset pick in the media.  Oakland has generated a lot of positive press, and many “experts” are calling for the upset in this game.  We are not one of them.  Not only do we believe the Longhorns will take care of Oakland with relative ease in this game, we believe Texas is a force to be reckoned with in the next two or three rounds. 


Let’s look at Texas’ Criteria Rating.  At 18, the ‘Horns rate as our sixth best team in the tournament.  They have a 13.5 point scoring margin, a 7.1% field goal margin, a 6.6 rebounding margin, and a 1.2 turnover margin.  Their only Achilles Heel is a low amount of steals resulting in a R+T Rating of 8.3.  Had that number been above 10, we would be selecting Coach Rick Barnes’ team for the Final Four.


Oakland won this year with strong rebounding and an excellent ability to force their opponents into bad shots.  Center Keith Benson is a future NBA player, but he is not enough to propel the Golden Grizzlies into the next round.


Prediction: Texas 77  Oakland 65


#6 Cincinnati 25-8 (9) vs. #11 Missouri 23-9 (10)

On paper, this looks like the best game of this round between a team with contrasting styles.


Cincinnati is one of the top defensive teams in the tournament.  The Bearcats are tough inside, and they have quality depth to continue playing hard in the paint. 


Missouri uses the “40 minutes of Hell” approach that Coach Mike Anderson learned under his mentor Nolan Richardson.  The Tigers press full court and run the fast break as often as they get the chance.  They are perimeter-oriented and can score a lot of points in a hurry.


When we try to decide tossup games, we look to the all-important defense and rebounding stats, since that is what wins close games in the Big Dance. 


Missouri is vulnerable in both of these crucial areas.  They have given up a lot of cheap baskets this year when teams solved their press.  The Tigers were outrebounded by 1.7 boards per game.


Cincinnati owns a +2.7 rebounding margin, and the Bearcats held onto the ball quite competently.  We believe Coach Mick Cronin’s crew will advance.


Prediction: Cincinnati 68  Missouri 65


#3 Connecticut 26-9 (9) vs. #14 Bucknell 25-8 (-4)

Ask Kansas Coach Bill Self if it is wise to underestimate Bucknell.  The Bison know how to hold onto the ball and work for intelligent shots.  Give them an opening, and they can bury you with a high field goal percentage.


Connecticut did the unthinkable by winning five games in five days.  Their defense does not get the merit it deserves, because Kemba Walker gets more attention for his offensive antics.  The Huskies actually held teams under 40% from the field.


Coach Jim Calhoun knows how to prepare a team for tournament action.  He will have UConn ready for this game, and the Huskies will not overlook the Bison.


Prediction: Connecticut 73  Bucknell 58


#7 Temple 25-7 (5) vs. #10 Penn State 19-14 (-1)

Temple’s score must be tempered by the fact that they are a wounded team coming into this tournament.  Two starters suffered injuries late in the season, and one is out for the remainder of the year, while the other may or may not be ready to play.  We must throw out Temple’s score of “5” in the PiRate Criteria, because 40% of the key players that produced that number will either not play or be greatly less effective.


Penn State is a lot like Southern Cal in this tournament.  The Nittany Lions have the look of a strong NIT team.  Aside from a so-so record against a strong schedule, they really have little to offer outside of one star player. 


We believe this Keystone State rivalry game will be close, and it could come down to the last shot.  Because the Owls are limping, we will go with the Big Ten representative.


Prediction: Penn State 59  Temple 56


#2 San Diego State 32-2 (19) vs. #15 Northern Colorado 21-10 (-6)

Most of you reading this probably cannot remember Texas Western University, but you may have scene the movie where the Miners were too quick for Kentucky and pulled off the big upset to win the 1966 National Championship.  Maybe some of you remember the Long Beach State 49ers ascension into the top 10 under Jerry Tarkanian and then Lute Olson.  Still more can remember when Tark the Shark moved to UNLV and turned the Runnin’ Rebels into a national power.


San Diego State is the next Western team to fit this bill.  The Aztecs are legitimate contenders to advance deep into this tournament.  They have few exploitable weaknesses, and they are the best team West of the Rockies.  Coach Steve Fisher knows how to get teams ready for tournament play, as he has three Final Fours on his resume and one National Championship.


SDSU’s PiRate Criteria numbers are flashy.  Their scoring margin is 13.3 points per game.  Their FG% margin is 7.1%.  They outrebound their opposition by almost seven per game, and they force 1.6 more turnovers than they commit.  Their one weak spot is a pedestrian 6.2 steals average.  If they run up against a more powerful team inside, they could have trouble getting enough extra scoring opportunities.


Northern Colorado will not be one of those teams that can cause trouble for the Aztecs.  The Bears are a good rebounding team, but their rebounding prowess came against a schedule that rates 10 points weaker than San Diego State’s schedule.


Prediction: San Diego State 73  Northern Colorado 51


Southwest Regional

#1 Kansas 32-2 (23) vs. #16 Boston U 21-13 (-11)

Kansas is a team on a mission.  The Jayhawks will not allow a repeat of what happened last year, and that extra incentive should be enough to send KU to Houston.


Kansas has the top PiRate Criteria Score this year.  They meet the basic requirements that most prior National Champions have met—scoring margin: 17.2; FG% margin: 11.7; Rebounding margin: 7.8; Turnover Margin: 0.9; Steals per game: 7.9; R+T Ratings: 9.5.


How do you beat this year’s KU team?  Kansas State and Texas pulled it off by matching up well inside and going head-to-head with them in the paint.


Boston U has the second lowest PiRate Criteria score of the 65 teams that have positive R+T Ratings.  The Terriers are way overmatched in this game, and they will have to be glad they just made it here.


Prediction: Kansas 90  Boston U 62


#8 U N L V 24-8 (15) vs. #9 Illinois 19-13 (1)

If our ratings are worth their salt, then this game should not be all that close.  UNLV may be just the third best team in the Mountain West, but the MWC was better overall this year than the Pac-10.  Third best in the MWC makes the Runnin’ Rebels one of the dozen or so teams capable of making a two weekend run.


Coach Lon Kruger has taken two different teams to the Elite Eight (Kansas State and Florida).  His teams play intelligently without being flashy.


UNLV went 24-3 against teams not named Brigham Young or San Diego State.  They are not particularly strong on the boards, and this will eventually be their downfall.  The Rebels shoot the ball brilliantly, and they alter enough opponent shots to force a lower field goal percentage.  They also take care of the ball and do not make a lot of floor mistakes.


Illinois is an inconsistent, underachieving team.  This can be dangerous for the prognosticator, because it is difficult if not impossible to predict which schizophrenic state will appear for each game.


The Illini are not particularly strong on the glass or at taking care of the ball, and that is a recipe for disaster when the opponent is as good as UNLV.  Even if Illinois comes out playing their best basketball, it may not be enough to beat UNLV playing their typical game.


Prediction: U N L V  72  Illinois 64


#5 Vanderbilt 23-10 (5) vs. #12 Richmond 26-7 (2)

Here is another game getting a lot of attention due to its upset potential.  Historically, the #12 seed produces the a lot of great upsets.


This game could go either way.  Both teams have exploitable weaknesses, and it just so happens that both teams’ have the assets capable of exploiting the other’s weaknesses.


Let’s start with Vanderbilt.  The Commodores are not particularly strong on the defensive perimeter.  Worthy opponents have been able to beat them off the drive and get a lot of open inside shots.  This weak perimeter defense has also led to frontcourt players having to help, thus leaving open holes near the basket.


Richmond’s offense is a modified version of the Princeton Offense.  The Spiders have the talent to get open shots inside and in the five to ten-foot range.


Richmond cannot rebound against more physical teams.  The Spiders make up for their rebounding liabilities by seldom throwing the ball away.


Vanderbilt has an excellent physical presence inside with three beefy players that can rebound the ball on offense and defense.


So, which team gets the edge in our PiRate Ratings?  We always look to defense in rebounding in tossup games.  Vanderbilt holds the rebounding edge, while Richmond holds the defensive edge.  It is basically a wash, so we have to look elsewhere.  While Richmond has been much better away from home, Vanderbilt’s schedule is seven points more difficult.  We’ll go with the power conference team, but not by much


Prediction: Vanderbilt 70  Richmond 67


#4 Louisville 25-9 (12) vs. #13 Morehead State 24-9 (3)

This should be an interesting game, but in the end the big brothers are going to defeat their little brothers in this battle of two Bluegrass State teams.


40 years ago this week, another little brother upset a big brother on their way to a surprise appearance in the Final Four (later vacated).  In 1971, Western Kentucky did not just upset Kentucky, the Hilltoppers ran the Wildcats off the floor.  Can there be a repeat two score later?  No!


Coach Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are vulnerable on the boards, and Morehead State has the nation’s best rebounder in the nation in Kenneth Faried.  However, the Eagles do not have enough talent or depth to keep up with Louisville.  They may emerge with a slight rebounding edge in this game, but it will not be enough to make up for all the open shots the Cardinals will get.


Louisville is going to run into trouble when they meet up with a team that can rebound and play credible defense.  That would be Kansas in the Sweet 16.  Until then, they have a relatively easy route to the Sweet 16.


Prediction: Louisville 78  Morehead State 62


#6 Georgetown 21-10 (8) vs. #11 Southern Cal (-1)/Va. Commonwealth (-1)

Last year, we discussed Georgetown’s vulnerabilities and the probability that they would fail to make it past the first weekend.  We expected the Hoyas to fall as a favorite in their second game, but they were a one and done team.


This year’s team is not much better than last year’s Hoya team, but they received a much more favorable draw.


Coach John Thompson III’s Hoyas once again have a rather low R+T Rating thanks to a turnover margin of -1.9 and a low amount of steals per game.  They will exit from the tournament in the next round unless there is a monumental upset in their pairing.


Neither USC nor VCU has the talent to take advantage of Georgetown’s deficiencies.  The three teams combined have a R+T rating below Purdue’s.


One additional note: The Hoyas will be a tad bit better than their Criteria Score in the tournament.  Chris Wright suffered a hand fracture in the middle of the schedule, and he is expected to be near 100% for the tournament.  You have to add maybe one point to their Criteria Score, but that is not enough to put them over the top in their second game.


Prediction: Georgetown 69  Southern Cal 61 (or VCU 60)


#3 Purdue 25-7 (16) vs. #14 St. Peter’s 20-13 (-7)

If only… Purdue fans will never know just how good their team might have been with Robbie Hummel joining JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore playing together.  This would have been the best Boilermaker team since Rick Mount led Purdue to the Championship Game against UCLA in 1969.


The Boilermakers no longer have that one glaring weakness that Gene Keady’s teams had and thus prevented Purdue from getting past the second round.  This team does well on the boards like most of those past Purdue teams, but they are particularly strong when it comes to forcing turnovers and taking advantage by converting steals into points.  It is the way many teams go on runs that put opponents out of commission.


St. Peter’s just barely avoided being immediately eliminated with a negative R+T Rating.  They squeaked by at 0.1.  It might as well be a negative number, as the Peacocks were outrebounded by 0.4 per game and had a turnover margin of -0.9 against a schedule that was four points below average and seven points weaker than the schedule Purdue faced.


Prediction: Purdue 73  St. Peter’s 56


#7 Texas A&M 24-8 (8) vs. #10 Florida State 21-10 (2)

The Big 12’s third best team has enough talent to challenge for a Sweet 16 berth.  We’ll leave the next round for another time and talk about this game.


The Aggies have no glaring weakness, and they have a few strengths, namely rebounding and defense (which wins games in the NCAA Tournament).  They are much like Kansas Lite.  A&M was not a team of surprises during the regular season.  They beat the teams they were supposed to beat and failed to upset the teams better than they were.  We expect the trend to continue.  They are better than the Seminoles.


Florida State does not take good care of the ball, and that costs them in confrontations against good opponents.  The Seminoles do not play particularly well away from Tallahassee, and they should be making a quick exit from the Dance.


Prediction: Texas A&M 73  Florida State 65


#2 Notre Dame 26-6 (11) vs. #15 Akron 23-12 (-9)

This is the best Irish team since Digger Phelps led Notre Dame in the late 1980’s.  Throw in the fact that this team has a chip on its shoulders following a first round exit last year, and the Irish have to be considered the Sweet 16 favorite in their four-team pairing this weekend.


The Irish finished the regular season with a scoring margin of 10.4 points per game.  Down the stretch, they went 7-2 against teams in this tournament.  The Selection Committee placed Notre Dame in a bracket that should provide a very memorable Sweet 16 contest against one of their most bitter arch-rivals.


Akron has a big seven-foot center, but the Zips do not rebound the ball all that well.  Zeke Marshall, the aforementioned big man, concentrates his efforts on blocking shots, and he frequently is not in position to rebound the ball.  So, the blocked shot frequently turns into a made basket off an offensive rebound.  The Zips did not fare well on the road this year, and with a considerably weaker schedule than average, this does not bode well.


Prediction:  Notre Dame 81  Akron 57


Southeast Regional

#1 Pittsburgh 27-5 (18) vs. #16 UNC-Asheville (-5)/U A L R (-13)

One of us here at the PiRate Ratings might be dating himself, but he sees a lot of the 1962 Cincinnati Bearcats in this year’s Pitt team.  The Panthers have a dominating inside power game that will pulverize any finesse team that cannot hit 10 three-pointers.  Neither UNCA nor UALR has a remote chance to make this game a close contest.


Pitt outscored their opposition by 13.1 points per game.  This stat looks even better when you factor in that they compiled this gaudy stat playing in a league that produced 11 NCAA Tournament teams.  The Panthers outshot their opponents by 7.6%, and they totally dominated the glass with a 10.4 rebounding advantage.  If you are thinking the way to beat them is to play a packed in zone, think again.  Ashton Gibbs can bury you from outside with his near 50% three-point accuracy, and Brad Wannamaker can still get the ball inside to one of the bruisers waiting to punish you with a thunder dunk.


Only a negative turnover margin prevents the Panthers from being there with Kansas as a co-favorite for winning all the marbles.


Pitt’s cupcake opponent will have to be happy with winning their First Four game, because they will be humiliated in this game.


Prediction: Pittsburgh 78  UNC-Asheville 54 (or UALR 48)


#8 Butler 23-9 (7) vs. #9 Old Dominion 27-6 (10)

This is the second best matchup in this round, and the winner will put a scare into Pittsburgh in the next round and even have a decent shot at the upset.


Butler is now the hunted rather than the hunter.  The Bulldogs will not sneak up on anybody this year.  More importantly, they are not as talented as they were last year.  The Bulldogs fared much better on the road last year than this season.  However, down the stretch, Butler started to look like a team proficient enough to get past the first weekend once again.


Old Dominion has the talent to advance past the first weekend as well.  The Monarchs are a miniature version of Pittsburgh, the team they would face in the next round should they win this game.


ODU is the nation’s number one rebounding team with a +12.2 margin.  The Monarchs’ schedule was not outstanding, but it was on par with several teams from the so-called power conferences, and they finished 6-4 against teams in this tournament.  This is a better ODU team than the one that upset Notre Dame in the first round last year, and this game should be one you do not want to miss.



Prediction: Old Dominion 72  Butler 70 in overtime


#5 Kansas State 22-10 (9) vs. #12 Utah State 30-3 (14)

This is the one game where a number 12 seed winning would not really be all that much of an upset.  Utah State should have been a top eight seed in this tournament.  If we were conspiracy buffs, we would say that the Selection Committee searched for a team that the Aggies do not match up with all that well and placed them in this spot to verify their actions.


Kansas State does not take care of the ball well enough to advance very deep into this tournament, but their first game opponent cannot take advantage of that weakness.


Utah State has dominated their opponents by forcing them to play a patient half-court game with very little scoring in transition.  They prefer to work the ball patiently for a good shot and then force opponents to take a low-percentage shot.  Thus, the Aggies outrebound their opponents, but they do so by forcing more bad shots than by out-leaping their opponents.


Kansas State has the talent to force Utah State to play at a quicker tempo and force them to defend one-on-one.  Jacob Pullen is a poor man’s (and smaller) Derrick Rose.  He can break down most opponents off the dribble, and he should be able to force USU to resort to some type of combination defense to keep him from going wild.


What scares us most about Utah State is that they had two opportunities to show they are deserving of their lofty ranking.  They lost to BYU and to Georgetown, and they never really threatened to pull of the upset in either game.


This is one game where we are going to go against our own chalk.  Kansas State’s schedule was seven points tougher, and the Wildcats can exploit the Aggies’ weaknesses.


Prediction: Kansas State 70  Utah State 63


#4 Wisconsin 23-8 (7) vs. #13 Belmont 30-4 (9)

This game has become the most-picked upset special around the nation.  Belmont is being compared with Butler of last year.  The Bruins are lofty of all this attention-gathering admiration, but Wisconsin is not the Washington Generals.


Belmont has the highest scoring margin in the nation at 18.4 points per game.  The Bruins outshot their opposition by 5.7% per game, and they took a lot of three-point attempts.  They outrebounded their opponents by 3.9, and they had an eye-popping 5.3 turnover margin.  They share the top steals per game average in this tournament with Missouri at 9.7, and their R+T Rating is the best in the tournament at 16.2 (three better than number two Ohio State).


Of course, these statistics were compiled against inferior competition.  Belmont’s schedule strength is nine points below the national average and a dozen below their first round opponent.  Against the opponents that made it to this tournament, they were 1-3.  They beat Alabama State by 13.  The three losses were on the road to in-state rivals Tennessee (twice) and Vanderbilt, but they led in the second half of those games.


The last time Belmont was in the Big Dance, the Bruins came within a missed last shot of sending Duke home.   


Wisconsin was not expected to be this good in 2011.  This was supposed to be a minor rebuilding season for the Badgers.  The Badgers usually run Coach Bo Ryan’s Swing Offense with great efficiency, rarely turning the ball over.  They outscored their opponents by 9.9 points per game, and they outshot they outrebounded them by 3.8 boards per game. 


The Badgers have been a hot and cold team this year.  When they have been hot, they have been nearly unbeatable, because Ryan’s teams always limit possessions.  When they have been cold, they have been easily beatable, because Ryan’s teams always limit possessions.  They finished the season as cold as ice, so the Badgers must be considered a slight underdog in this game.


Prediction: Belmont 74  Wisconsin 70


#6 St. John’s 21-11 (9) vs. #11 Gonzaga 24-9 (13)

Here is a game where we believe the seedings should be switched.  Gonzaga has been here enough times to be considered a regular in the NCAA Tournament, like Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, and Connecticut.  This makes a baker’s dozen consecutive appearances in the Big Dance for the Bulldogs. 


In past years, Gonzaga had a big scorer that could take over games.  Adam Morrison comes to mind.  This year, the Zags are more difficult to prepare for, because they are more team-oriented.  There is not a big star on the roster, but all five starters are capable of taking the team on his shoulders with a hot night.


In their nine-game winning streak to close the season, Gonzaga eliminated Saint Mary’s from the Dance party with two victories.  The Bulldogs scoring margin in those nine games was 76-58.  This is a good team playing its best ball of the year, and we expect Coach Mark Few to win yet another NCAA Tournament game.


St. John’s comes into the tournament minus one of its stars.  Starting forward D. J. Kennedy went down for the season with a knee injury in the Big East Tournament, and the Red Storm is now suspect in the paint.  Their Criteria Score of nine should be discounted by two to three points.  It is enough to take this contest from tossup status to near-comfortable status for Gonzaga.


Prediction: Gonzaga 74  St. John’s 66


#3 Brigham Young 30-4 (18) vs. #14 Wofford 21-12 (-1)

So, you didn’t get a chance to see Pete Maravich play at LSU in 1968, 1969, or 1970, eh?  We must admit that nobody will ever be the collegiate equal for Maravich, but Jimmer Fredette may be the closest thing to him.


Throw out the floppy socks and floppy Beatles haircut and throw out some of the most unbelievable passes in the history of the game (so unbelievable that Maravich’s teammates frequently could not see them coming), and Fredette is not that far behind Maravich.


The sports nation will be turning its eyes to this game just to see if Fredette can make a run at a single game scoring mark.  If we remember correctly, Notre Dame’s Austin Carr set the mark back in 1970 with 61 points against Ohio U in a regional qualifier game.


BYU may have been a strong Final Four contender had Brandon Davies not loved his girlfriend so much.  The Cougars averaged 8.7 fewer points per game once Davies was suspended. 


Wofford will not be able to take much advantage of Davies’ absence.  The Terriers fared well in all PiRate Criteria categories, but they did not meet even the minimum “numbers to look for” in any category, and their schedule strength was five points below the norm. 


Prediction: Brigham Young 75  Wofford 63


#7 U C L A 22-10 (-3) vs. #10 Michigan State 19-14 (1)

If only this were a few years ago.  Neither of these historically dominating teams is going to make waves in this year’s tournament, and the winner will be around for just one more game.


UCLA would be a national title contender if Kevin Love had stuck around for four years.  Imagine Love as a senior on this team.  Can you say Bill Walton-like numbers?  Alas, the Bruins must get by with a couple of well above-average forwards instead of the best three-man tandem in the nation.


The Bruins have the worst turnover margin of any team in this tournament.  At -3.4, UCLA would need to dominate on the boards, and while they usually win that battle, it is anything but dominating.


Michigan State’s one asset year in and year out under Coach Tom Izzo has been their rebounding acumen.  For most teams, a +4.3 edge on the boards would be considered outstanding, but in East Lansing, this is considered a down year. 


Neither team has done all that well away from their home court this season, and there really is only one stat where one team stands out ahead of the other.  MSU’s schedule was four points tougher than UCLA’s schedule.  That’s our spread for this game.  


Prediction: Michigan State 64  UCLA 60


#2 Florida 26-7 (15) vs. #15 UC-Santa Barbara 18-13 (-10)

The Gators looked like a potential Final Four team in the last month, at least when they were not playing Kentucky.  UCSB is not Kentucky. 


Florida tends to commit too many floor mistakes to win four games in this year’s tournament.  They have enough talent to get through the first weekend, but we do not see the Gators extending their stay after that.


UCSB upset Long Beach State to get here, and the Gauchos are one of the weakest teams in the tournament according to our Criteria Score.  With negative rebounding and turnover margins, they just barely escape automatic elimination with a R+T rating of 0.3. 


Prediction: Florida 76  U C S B  54




Our Bracket


You have seen the 32 teams that we believe will win the second round games.  Here is how we fill out the rest of our bracket.


Third Round Winners

Ohio State over George Mason

Kentucky over West Virginia

Syracuse over Xavier

North Carolina over Washington

Duke over Tennessee

Texas over Arizona

Connecticut over Cincinnati

San Diego State over Penn State

Kansas over UNLV

Louisville over Vanderbilt

Purdue over Georgetown

Notre Dame over Texas A&M

Pittsburgh over Old Dominion

Kansas State over Belmont

Gonzaga over Brigham Young

Florida over Michigan State


Sweet 16 Winners

Ohio State over Kentucky

Syracuse over North Carolina

Texas over Duke

San Diego State over Connecticut

Kansas over Louisville

Purdue over Notre Dame

Pittsburgh over Kansas State

Florida over Gonzaga


Elite 8 Winners

Ohio State over Syracuse

Texas over San Diego State

Kansas over Purdue

Pittsburgh over Florida


Semifinal Winners

Ohio State over Texas

Kansas over Pittsburgh


National Championship

Kansas over Ohio State

March 13, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 13 Update

Selection Sunday Is Here

Over the weekend, we here at the PiRate Ratings have been perusing all the statistical information relevant to our popular PiRate Bracket-picking criteria.  What began as a simple back-testing exercise six years ago has evolved into a lengthy formula that has proven to be rather accurate at isolating the real contenders from the pretenders.


We have determined which factors are important and which are irrelevant when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.  Last year, with about 1,150 readers coming to our site to read the pre-tournament prediction, we shocked a lot of Blue Mist fanatics by predicting that their beloved Wildcats would fail to reach the Final Four.  We said the same thing about Kansas.  It was a foregone conclusion that the Wildcats and Jayhawks were on a collision course to play in one of those games of the century.


We crunched the numbers and predicted Coach K and Duke to win the title.  The choice was not popular.  We were told, sometimes not in the King’s English, how stupid our formula must be to take a not-so-great Duke team (when compared to the really good Duke teams in the past), and how our formula was full of baloney.  We had to laugh when one reader lambasted us using the same words he had used the year before when we tabbed North Carolina as a bigger favorite to win it all than Ronald Reagan was in the 1984 election.


For the record, we predicted Kansas and Memphis to make it to the finals in 2008, and we forecasted Florida and UCLA to meet for the championship in 2006.  We also told you to watch out for tiny George Mason that year as they had a criteria score that made them a contender to advance to the Elite Eight.


We made a handful of West Virginia fans happy when we called for the Mountaineers to win four games and crash the Final Four party.  We forecasted the Regional Final win over Kentucky before the play-in game tipped off.  On the bright side, for some fans from the Bluegrass, we correctly predicted Murray State to upset Vanderbilt in the first round.


This formula has its drawbacks as well as its benefits.  It is strictly a mechanical formula much like a stock screener.  It does not consider a lot of the intangibles, such as emotion, motivation, and intestinal fortitude.  Of course, it removes all the biases and looks only for the pertinent statistics that propelled past teams into the Final Four.


For instance, we missed on Butler last year.  We called for UTEP to upset the Bulldogs in the first round in what we thought was the best overall matchup of the first two days.  We missed on other first and second round games as well.  We explicitly state that this formula is geared toward finding the teams that can advance to the Elite Eight and Final Four and finding the team that best emulates past champions.


Remember this:  the 1927 New York Yankees, the best baseball team ever (better than the 1939 Yankees in our opinion), lost 44 games during the season.  28.6% of the time, an inferior team defeated the Bronx Bombers.  There are 32 games in the first round, so a record of 23-9 should be considered as dominating as the 1927 Yankees.


Let’s say that the top predictors can successfully pick 80% of the tournament games correctly when filling out their brackets.  Apply common mathematics to the 64 advancing teams after the First Four Round is played in Dayton, and that leaves you with 25.6 correct picks in the first round.  That means that 6.4 of the teams you picked are gone, so you cannot win any more games involving those exited teams.


In the second round, if you are fortunate to pick 80% correctly once again, 10.24 of the Sweet 16 will be teams you picked to make it to the second week of the tournament.  The other 5.76 teams still around are teams you did not pick, so they cannot help you in your brackets.  Remember, this amount is about the high end of the threshold for the best prognosticators.


Applying our 80% success rate in the next two rounds, 4.1 of our teams will make the Elite Eight, and 1.64 of our teams will make the Final Four.  You see just how difficult it can be to fill out your brackets.  It really gives you a headache when the junior executive’s sweet little secretary wins the office pool because she chose her teams based on the number of syllables in their name.  Pure luck sometimes wins over hard work.  That’s life.

We can tell you one thing about this year’s probable NCAA Tournament field.  It is not the most dominating field.  We have yet to finish collecting all the data we need to put numbers to the criteria, but we can tell you that we expect more first round and second round games to be decided in the final minutes than most years.  It makes for a great tournament to watch, but it makes for five headaches for the five of us to live up to our past successes.


Tonight, we will begin our NCAA Tournament coverage with a full explanation of our system.  Beginning Monday, we will start to analyze each of the four regionals and tell you which teams have the best chance of advancing to Houston’s Reliant Stadium.


Let’s take a look at some unfinished business.  There are four conference tournament championships on tap for today.  One of them can cause a chain reaction and force the bottom team on the bubble into the NIT.


Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

#1 North Carolina (26-6)  vs. #2 Duke (29-4)


It’s always great when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox meet in the American League Playoffs.  Well, it is great if you are not a fan of the other teams.  The Big Two from Tobacco Road meet for a third time this season in the rubber game.  It is the 30th time for both in the ACC Championship Game.


North Carolina blew a large lead at Cameron Indoor Stadium in February, but the Tar Heels breezed to a win at the Dean Dome last week to wrap up the regular season championship.  Carolina has not lost since that game at Duke, and the Tar Heels are on a 14-1 streak since mid-January.  It has not been easy for Coach Roy Williams and his team, as they have had to come back from double digit deficits in the second half of both of their tournament games.


Duke weathered a mighty scare when Nolan Smith went down with a toe injury in the quarterfinal game against Maryland, but Smith showed no signs that it affected him when he returned Saturday to score 27 points in an easy win over Virginia Tech.


This is definitely the game of the day as you prepare for the big announcements this evening.  Flip a coin.  This is a 50-50 affair.  We’ll go with the Tar Heels because they looked better overall down the stretch than the Blue Devils, but we have no real reason to pick one rival over the other.  It will come down to which team has a better shooting eye today and has the most rest.


Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

#3 Richmond (26-7)  vs. #9 Dayton (22-12)

1:00 PM EDT  CBS

Fans of Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Southern Cal, Alabama, and other bubble teams will be rooting like crazy for the Spiders today.  If Dayton upsets Richmond, the last team in the tournament will be exiled to the NIT.


Richmond has won six games in a row and 10 of 11.  The Spiders have outscored their opponents by 12 points per game in their current streak, and their Princeton-style offense has really jelled down the stretch.  Their defense has been as potent as their offense.  In the last four games, opponents have connected on just 35.3% of their shots.


Dayton connected on just 34.4% of their shots in a nine-point home loss to Richmond in the regular season.  The Flyers were in the middle of a 6-9 slide when they played Richmond in late January.


The Flyers came out flying in the A-10 Tournament.  In the first two rounds, Dayton couldn’t miss from outside.  Three-point barrages in both games gave the Flyers early double-digit leads.  Yesterday, the shots did not fall, but the Flyers held on with defense.


We do not expect Dayton to jump out to a big lead today.  In fact, we believe they will commit just enough errors for Richmond to exploit with their patient offense and help one bubble team stay alive.


Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

#1 Ohio State (31-2)  vs. #6 Penn State (19-13)

3:30 PM EDT  CBS

If this were only football, we would call this the game of the day.  Then, again, we would probably break out into a discussion about Joe Paterno and his squeaky clean history against Jim Tressel and his e-mail history.


On paper, this game looks like a mismatch, but in reality, Ohio State has not dominated this weekend, while Penn State has.


The Buckeyes are playing for the first overall seed.  A loss today would give that honor to Kansas.  Penn State appears to be in the Big Dance, but there is still a tiny pinhole of doubt.  A loss would leave the Nittany Lions at 19-14.


Ohio State struggled all day against Northwestern’s slowdown.  Penn State can slow this game down and play much better defense than the Wildcats.  We believe the big underdog has a legitimate chance to win the title.


Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

#1E  Florida (26-6)  vs. #2E  Kentucky (24-8)
1:00 PM EDT  ABC

Florida does not need much help to win this game and move up as high as a number two seed.  Kentucky’s lack of depth forced Coach John Calipari to stick with his starters long after he needed to do so yesterday, and two Wildcat starters exited the game with ankle injuries in the final minutes.


The worse of the two injuries belong to star Doron Lamb, and Lamb may or may not be available to play today.  Florida’s offense forces defenders to cover a lot of territory, and Lamb will not be able to play defense the way it is needed to stop the Gators’ offense.


We look for the Gators to put this game away in the first five minutes of the second half.


Check back just before the brackets are announced tonight.  We will have our bracket-picking primer online around 5:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

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 


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.

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

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