The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 9, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 9-11, 2017

The Captain has regained control of the helm, and he is steering the PiRate ship once again.  Actually, the lasses suffered a loss last week, and they were too shy to come up with any parlays this week.  The Captain on short notice was only able to create two parlays, as he believes this may be a week to look at other wagering philosophies with several key games being played.

If you are new to this site, this weekly feature picks money line parlays that go off at better than +120 odds.  As a general rule, we look for 3-game parlays, but in some cases (like today), we will combine four or more games, and in fact, we once issued a 7-game parlay at +225 odds and won the wager.

Here are this week’s two parlay selections.  As always, consider this when deciding how you will make use of this publication: No PiRate booty has been jeopardized in the making of this feature.  We only play with pretend currency when selecting our parlays.

#1 @ +170  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Purdue
South Carolina Florida
Southern Miss. Rice
#2 @ +157  
Must Win Must Lose
Pittsburgh North Carolina
Florida Int’l. Old Dominion
Missouri Tennessee
Middle Tenn. Charlotte

 

 

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October 19, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 19-21, 2017

The Captain has been shanghaied by the lasses.  After a couple weeks of total failure, the Captain handed over the controls of the PiRate Ship to us ladies, because, as he said, “Hey, you cannot do any worse than me.”

Actually, the Captain is enjoying the fruits of his labors as a baseball analytics specialist, and the thoughts of having the first Yankees-Dodgers World Series in 36 years (and as he stated, first legit season in 39 years) has sent him ahoy to dry land for the weekend.

Every week, the Captain prefaces this edition with the warning that you should not actually wager real money, or what goes for real money, on our parlay selections.  Readers, today, this edition of picks comes 100% from five women.

What can women know about football?  As the Captain says, if playing or coaching football made the men involved total experts, they would have all retired a long time ago and made even more money draining the sports books.  It just doesn’t happen.  Actually, the top experts are usually some professor at Cal Tech or MIT with a long computer program that spits out teams that when wagered on, return profits about 5 out of 8 times.

I am here to tell you that the 5 women contributing to this submission today probably have more actual football experience than the Cal Tech and MIT professors.  It may have been from Powder Puff College Football playing with Tri-Delt or Delta Gamma, but we know the game.

That doesn’t mean we know anything about picking winners, so be forewarned.  We went on intuition and other feminine instincts, and we came up with four parlays.  The only advice we received from the Captain was that we should limit our parlays to a max of 4 games, and the parlay calculator had to return a value better than +120.  We did both.

As for last week, need you ask?  The Captain issued just two parlays, and both lost.  For the season his return is -30%.  If we win this week, we just might mutiny and take over control of our vessel.

#1 @ +142  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Iowa
Minnesota Illinois
#2 @ +169  
Must Win Must Lose
Arkansas St. UL-Lafayette
Notre Dame USC
LSU Ole Miss
#3 @ +127  
Must Win Must Lose
Houston Memphis
Penn St. Michigan
#4 @ +132  
Must Win Must Lose
UAB Charlotte
Purdue Rutgers
Duke Pittsburgh

Good luck.  You’ll need it if you play our parlays.  Shame on you if you wager the paper that they say is real money on these selections.  If you want to gift away $400, you can send it to my Patreon page.

September 7, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Selections For: September 7-11, 2017

Recent PiRate Ratings history has shown that our money line parlay selections have been rather mediocre in the month of September. It figures, since we only select parlays that produce returns of better than 100% if they win. It can be harder earlier in the season to get a solid grasp on teams that we feel are certain to win and not just should win.
Today, we are going to include two long shot parlays that we felt compelled to select, just for the fact that they offer crazy returns, while at the same time looking quite possible.
We hope you do not wager your hard-earned money based on our advice. We know there are many of you that do not heed that recommendation. If you want to lose, you should at least lose picking games from your heart and brain. We never lose, because all we wager is the little bit of time it takes to select our parlays. In our hearts and brains, this is always a lot of fun, so we are guaranteed winners every week.

As for the opening week of the pretend wagering season, we selected just one parlay. It was looking good for awhile, until the Cal Bears put a hurtin’ on North Carolina in Chapel Hill. We lost the 5-game parlay on that one game, as the other four went our way. Alas, as with parlays that return better than 100%, this happens.

This week, we are going with five different parlays. Two of these parlays are long shots, returning hefty profits if they should happen to miraculously win. One of these two could almost guarantee another winning season if it wins, and it incredibly allows us to go with two ranked teams, one in the top 5!

Looking at the official numbers, after one week, we are at $-100 on $100 invested. That is a 100% loss on investment to date.

Here are this week’s parlay selections

 

#1 @ +118  
Must Win Must Lose
Purdue Ohio
New Mexico New Mexico St.

Purdue’s new offense has not yet hit its stride, and it may not this season.  However, the Boilermakers have some athletes getting a chance to shine after being restrained prior to Jeff Brohm’s arrival.  After giving Louisville all it could handle last week, we believe the team believes in Brohm and will come out firing on all cylinders at Ross Ade Stadium.

As for the rivalry in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico looks like the superior team on both sides of the ball, but the Aggies are not that far behind.  In most years, the Lobos would be stronger favorites.  We believe New Mexico’s running game will eventually control what happens on the scoreboard.

 

 

#2 @ +140  
Must Win Must Lose
UTEP Rice
Miss St. La. Tech

UTEP  looked a tad bit better against Oklahoma than Rice looked against Stanford, and this game is in El Paso.  Throw in the possibility that the Owls may be on the verge of quitting on David Bailiff, while the Miners still have faith in Sean Kugler.

Mississippi State does play Louisiana Tech in Rustin this week, but the Tech home field advantage should not affect the outcome of this game.  The Bulldogs never seem to get the respect they deserve under Dan Mullen.  They are better than any team in CUSA, and they should win this game by double digits.

 

#3 @ +1010  
Must Win Must Lose
Oklahoma Ohio St.
Stanford USC

This parlay intrigued us all week, so we just had to use it.  How frequently does one get a chance to return 10 times his investment while playing two ranked teams?  We are going with the Number 5 and Number 14 team to win, in other words, not really shocking upsets if they happen.  We know the chance that both underdogs win on the road is slim, but hey, this is for more than a thousand in winnings on just $100 invested.

 

 

#4 @ +178  
Must Win Must Lose
Atlanta Chicago
Pittsburgh Cleveland
Denver LA Chargers

This is more like our typical parlay plays.  We believe these three favorites have an excellent chance of starting the year 1-0, and at $178 profit for every $100 invested, it gives a generous reward if the three teams win.

 

 

#5 @ +478  
Must Win Must Lose
Baltimore Cincinnati
New Orleans Minnesota

Seldom is a +478 parlay our favorite selection of a week, but this one is.  It is our opinion that the wrong teams are favored in these two games.  The odds makers are giving the home teams much too much advantage for playing at home.  Cincinnati does not have the great home field advantage it had in the good ole days.  Minnesota’s advantage comes later in the season.  We will go with superior quarterbacks in these two games.

 

Once again, please do not wager your own money (or anybody else’s) on our recommendations.  We go a bit liberal with our selections, because we don’t have any financial stake at risk.

 

 

 

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?

March 17, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Games

Saturday, March 18, 2017 NCAA Tournament Games

Team Team Red White Blue
West Virginia Notre Dame 6 4 1
Villanova Wisconsin 8 6 6
Gonzaga Northwestern 17 10 8
Florida St. Xavier 8 5 4
Butler Middle Tennessee 5 4 7
Arizona Saint Mary’s -2 -1 1
Florida Virginia 1 1 1
Purdue Iowa St. 1 2 1

 

Saturday’s TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:10 PM CBS West Virginia vs. Notre Dame
2:40 PM CBS Villanova vs. Wisconsin
5:15 PM CBS Gonzaga vs. Northwestern
6:10 PM TNT Florida St. vs. Xavier
7:10 PM TBS Butler vs. Middle Tennessee
7:45 PM CBS Arizona vs. Saint Mary’s
8:40 PM TNT Florida vs. Virginia
9:40 PM TBS Purdue vs. Iowa St.

 

 

September 4, 2012

PiRate Ratings For College Football: September 6-8, 2012

Can an assumption be made about Alabama after just one game?  Is this Crimson Tide edition the best in years?  It is much too early to make that assumption, but let us look at some facts.

 

The Crimson Tide offense got off the ball as quick as a team from the old Split-T days.  They engaged in their blocks while the defense was still reacting from the snap of the ball.  When, the line blocked, the defenders being blocked were moved off the line of scrimmage.

 

The Crimson Tide defensive front seven held its position and clogged up the inside holes.  The linebacker pursuit looked like the Baltimore Ravens.  Their perimeter force and contain was as good as it gets.

 

The Alabama secondary was in position to make plays all night.  When the Tide rushed the passer, they did not need to send a fifth pass rusher.  One defender on both sides of the line spied on Denard Robinson, forcing Robinson to stay in the pocket.

 

Now, add in to the offense a true freshman that looks like he could immediately be among the top three running backs in the SEC, and this team has the potential to be one of the best ever.

 

Since WWII, what we like to call the modern era of college football, there have been 20 teams (in our opinion) that can be considered among the best ever.  Here is a list of those teams as well as how they performed in their opening game.

 

Year

Team First Opponent

 

Score

1945

Army Louisville Field (military)

 

32-0

1947

Notre Dame Pittsburgh

 

40-6

1947

Michigan MichiganState

*

55-0

1949

Oklahoma BostonCollege

 

46-0

1956

Oklahoma North Carolina

 

36-0

1959

Syracuse Kansas

 

35-21

1961

Alabama Georgia

 

32-6

1966

MichiganState North Carolina St.

 

28-10

1966

Notre Dame Purdue

*

26-14

1966

Alabama Louisiana Tech

 

34-0

1968

OhioState S M U

*

35-14

1969

Texas California

 

17-0

1971

Nebraska Oregon

 

34-7

1971

Oklahoma S M U

 

30-0

1972

Southern Cal Arkansas

*

31-10

1974

Oklahoma Baylor

*

28-11

1987

Miami Florida

 

31-4

1992

Alabama Vanderbilt

 

25-8

1995

Nebraska Oklahoma St.

 

64-21

2001

Miami PennState

 

33-7

* Opponent was as good as 2012 Michigan

 

How ironic: only the 1947 Michigan Wolverines defeated a quality team by more than the 27 points Alabama clobbered Michigan.  That Michigan State team would go 7-2 in 1947.  That Wolverine team finished second in the nation in the regular season to Notre Dame, but a post-bowl poll listed Michigan number one, after the Wolverines beat USC in the Rose Bowl 49-0 (In games against three common opponents that year, Michigan’s average score was 56-7 and Notre Dame’s average score was 35-11).

 

Alabama plays four road games where they might face the type of opposition that can compete with the Tide (Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and LSU).  As of today, even LSU appears unable to compete with this Tide team.  If Alabama runs the table, beats the SEC East champion, and wins the National Championship this year, they will most definitely deserve mention among the 20 teams listed above.

 

This Week’s Schedule

Last week, there were a handful of big upsets.  Youngstown State’s win over Pittsburgh did not look like an upset; it looked like YSU would beat Pitt again and again.  Texas State made its debut in the FBS ranks with a similar style thrashing of Houston.  Two other minor upsets included a FCS team beating a FBS team.  UT-Martin beat Memphis, and Eastern Washington beat Idaho.

 

This week, we see two FCS teams that we favor over their FBS opponent.  North Dakota State is a 6.5-point favorite over Colorado, and Illinois State is a half-point pick over Eastern Michigan.

 

This is the week that Missouri and Texas A&M become SEC teams in earnest, as both schools play conference games.  Missouri hosts Georgia and Texas A&M host Florida in what looks to be two excellent debut games.

 

Here is a look at 10 other games that we find interesting:

 

1. Indiana @ UMass.  The Hoosiers have a chance to go to2-0 with a home game coming against Ball State.  Kevin Wilson’s troops struggled with Indiana State, but an IU win these next two weeks may give the team enough confidence to believe they can compete at Northwestern with an extra week to prepare.  It isn’t impossible, but it is still highly improbable, but IU can see a path to 6-6 if they can start 4-0.

 

2. Kent State @ Kentucky: The Wildcats did not show up against Louisville.  If UK loses this game, Coach Joker Phillips will be on life-support.  A loss against Western Kentucky in two weeks could then elevate Rick Minter to head coach. A Golden Flash win could be enough to propel KSU to their first bowl since 1972.

 

3. Purdue @ Notre Dame: This rivalry is as heated as Alabama-Auburn but with reserved Midwestern values.  The Boilermakers have pulled of some monumental upsets in this series.  Hank Stram became a known quantity as an offensive coach and Len Dawson as a mobile quarterback when they led PU to a monumental upset over the Irish in 1954.   The Boilermakers had that great three-year run in 1967, 68, and 69 when they put a hurtin’ on the Irish.  That 1968 game was a TV game that introduced the nation to Mike Phipps and the great Leroy Keyes.

 

Will this game have the same importance?  We doubt it, but it will be fun to watch.

 

4. South Florida @ Nevada: Why is this game so interesting?  Nevada is the one chance for a non-BCS Automatic Qualifier to upset the apple cart this year.  With Boise State losing last week, the Wolf Pack moved to the top of the line with a win at Cal.  USF is one of two co-favorites to win the Big East, so this game could actually feature two teams that will play in BCS bowls.

 

5. Wisconsin @ Oregon State: Wisconsin struggled with Northern Iowa last week, while Oregon State struggled with Hurricane Isaac, losing out on playing their opener when Nicholls State had to send in RSVPs.  Teams improve the most between games one and two, but the Beavers could easily upset the Badgers this week.  Paul Chryst is missed a lot in Madison, and Pitt fans may also wish he was still calling the plays at Camp Randall.

 

6. Iowa State @ Iowa: This was one of the most exciting games of 2011.  ISU won in triple overtime.  The Hawkeyes struggled at Soldier Field against a good Northern Illinois team, while the Cyclones beat a good Tulsa team last week.  The winner of this game will have a great shot at bowl eligibility.

 

7. Auburn @ Mississippi State: This becomes almost a must-win game for Auburn.  Games with LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Alabama could be four more losses, and just one upset loss to somebody like Vanderbilt could add up to seven losses.  This Tiger team is too good for that.  Even if they lose a close one in Starkville, we think they will find a way to win six or seven times.  If Mississippi State wins, the Bulldogs could be sitting on an eight or nine-win season.

 

8. Nebraska @ UCLA: The Big Ten needs a marquis out-of-conference win, and this becomes the league’s best chance.  The Cornhuskers have never returned to the prominence they enjoyed for years in the 1970’s-2001.  They have lost four or more games for eight consecutive seasons since they dismissed Frank Solich.  If UCLA pulls the upset here, the Bruins will be for a nine or 10-win season.

 

9. Vanderbilt @ Northwestern: Here are two academic heavyweights trying to become football welterweights for 2012.  Northwestern squeaked by with an almost miraculous win at Syracuse last week, while Vanderbilt received an apology letter from the SEC when the refs blew a decisive call on national television.  The winner of this game stays in line for bowl eligibility, while the loser is looking at 5-7.

 

10. Illinois @ Arizona State: This was a great game last year in Champaign-Urbana, and with two new coaches and two new systems, it shapes up to be really interesting this year. 

 

This Week’s Rankings of the 124 FBS Teams

PiRate Ratings

#

Team

PiRate

1

Alabama

130.7

2

L S U  

129.2

3

U S C

128.7

4

Oklahoma

128.1

5

OklahomaState  

126.7

6

FloridaState

121.5

7

Oregon  

120.9

8

KansasState

120.4

9

Texas

120.0

10

Notre Dame

119.7

11

Nebraska

118.8

12

Arkansas

118.4

13

Michigan

118.3

14

Georgia

117.3

15

South Carolina

117.3

16

Wisconsin  

116.4

17

Tennessee

115.9

18

OhioState

115.7

19

West Virginia

115.6

20

Clemson  

115.0

21

Missouri

114.8

22

Florida

114.7

23

Stanford

114.3

24

Baylor

113.9

25

MichiganState

113.2

26

Texas A&M

113.2

27

Texas Tech

112.3

28

Utah

111.6

29

North Carolina

111.5

30

Auburn

111.5

31

T C U

111.2

32

U C L A

111.0

33

Virginia Tech

110.7

34

Vanderbilt

110.6

35

B Y U

110.3

36

MississippiState

109.6

37

Georgia Tech

108.5

38

South Florida

108.0

39

IowaState

107.6

40

Louisville

106.1

41

OregonState

106.0

42

Illinois

105.7

43

Purdue

105.3

44

Washington

105.0

45

California

105.0

46

Rutgers

104.5

47

BoiseState

103.7

48

Arizona

103.7

49

Central Florida

102.8

50

North CarolinaState

102.7

51

Pittsburgh

102.6

52

Tulsa

102.6

53

Kansas

102.0

54

Iowa

101.8

55

BostonCollege

101.3

56

Ole Miss

101.3

57

Nevada

101.1

58

ArizonaState

101.1

59

Louisiana Tech  

101.1

60

Connecticut

100.9

61

Virginia

100.8

62

Miami-FL

100.3

63

Cincinnati

100.2

64

Houston

99.8

65

Duke

99.7

66

WashingtonState

99.4

67

Northwestern

98.5

68

Ohio U

97.6

69

Minnesota

97.4

70

Southern Mississippi  

97.1

71

WakeForest

96.3

72

Syracuse

96.3

73

S M U

95.6

74

Toledo

95.5

75

East Carolina

95.0

76

Western Michigan

94.8

77

Maryland

94.6

78

Bowling Green

94.4

79

Kentucky

94.4

80

PennState

94.3

81

Northern Illinois  

93.9

82

UtahState

93.8

83

Wyoming

93.2

84

Western Kentucky

93.0

85

San DiegoState

92.8

86

FresnoState

92.8

87

U T E P

92.7

88

Indiana

92.3

89

Army

92.1

90

UL-Lafayette

92.1

91

San JoseState

91.8

92

Marshall

91.7

93

Miami (O)

91.5

94

Colorado

91.1

95

Florida International

90.7

96

Navy

89.8

97

BallState

89.8

98

ArkansasState  

89.8

99

Temple

89.4

100

Kent St.

89.3

101

Rice

88.5

102

ColoradoState

88.4

103

North Texas

88.2

104

Central Michigan

88.0

105

Eastern Michigan

85.6

106

Air Force

85.6

107

Louisiana-Monroe

85.5

108

Troy

85.1

109

Hawaii

84.7

110

Buffalo

83.9

111

Tulane

81.9

112

New Mexico

81.4

113

U A B

80.3

114

Idaho

79.5

115

TexasState

79.1

116

UNLV

79.0

117

New MexicoState

78.1

118

U T S A

76.1

119

FloridaAtlantic

74.6

120

Memphis

73.9

121

Middle Tennessee

72.6

122

South Alabama

70.4

123

Massachusetts

68.3

124

Akron

66.3

 

 

PiRate Vintage Ratings

#

Team

Vintage

1

Alabama

123.0

2

U S C

120.5

3

L S U

120.0

4

Oregon

119.0

5

Florida St.

118.5

6

West Virginia

118.0

7

Oklahoma

116.5

8

N. Carolina

116.0

9

Georgia 

116.0

10

S. Carolina

116.0

11

OhioState

115.5

12

Oklahoma St.

115.5

13

Clemson

114.5

14

Arkansas

114.5

15

Va. Tech

114.5

16

Nebraska

114.0

17

Michigan St.

113.0

18

Texas

113.0

19

Florida 

112.5

20

Missouri

112.0

21

Tennessee

112.0

22

U C L A

112.0

23

Georgia Tech

112.0

24

Michigan

111.5

25

Stanford

111.5

26

Kansas St.

111.0

27

Utah

111.0

28

Baylor

110.5

29

N.C.State

110.0

30

Miss.State

110.0

31

Auburn

109.5

32

Arizona St.

109.5

33

Wisconsin

109.0

34

T C U

109.0

35

Notre Dame

108.0

36

Illinois

107.5

37

B Y U

107.0

38

Texas A&M

107.0

39

Purdue

106.5

40

Washington

106.5

41

Arizona

106.5

42

Virginia

106.0

43

Vanderbilt

105.5

44

Oregon St.

105.5

45

Nevada

105.0

46

Louisville

104.5

47

Miami

104.0

48

Texas Tech

104.0

49

Iowa

103.5

50

S. Florida

103.0

51

Boise St.

102.5

52

IowaState

102.0

53

California

102.0

54

Northwestern

101.5

55

Ole Miss

101.0

56

Ohio U

100.5

57

Cincinnati

100.0

58

Air Force

100.0

59

Washington St.

100.0

60

Boston Coll.

99.5

61

U C F

99.0

62

N I U

99.0

63

Fresno St.

99.0

64

W M U

98.5

65

La. Tech

98.5

66

Connecticut

98.0

67

Toledo

98.0

68

PennState

98.0

69

Minnesota

97.5

70

S.D.State

97.5

71

U L L

97.0

72

Duke

96.5

73

E C U

96.5

74

WesternKy.

96.5

75

Rutgers

96.0

76

Sou. Miss.

96.0

77

Utah St.

96.0

78

S.J.State

95.5

79

Wyoming

95.0

80

Syracuse

94.5

81

WakeForest

94.5

82

Tulsa

94.5

83

Ark.State

94.5

84

B G U

94.5

85

Kentucky

94.0

86

Troy

94.0

87

Buffalo

93.5

88

Colorado

93.5

89

S M U

93.0

90

Houston

92.5

91

Colo.State

92.5

92

Ball St.

92.0

93

Maryland

91.5

94

U T E P

91.5

95

F I U

91.5

96

Kansas

91.5

97

Marshall

91.0

98

UNLV

91.0

99

Kent St.

90.5

100

Miami (O)

90.5

101

U L M

90.0

102

C M U

90.0

103

Indiana

90.0

104

Hawaii

89.5

105

Rice

88.5

106

E M U

88.0

107

Pittsburgh

87.5

108

U A B

87.5

109

N. Texas

87.0

110

Temple

86.5

111

Army

86.0

112

Texas St.

86.0

113

New Mexico

85.0

114

UTSA

84.5

115

N. Mex.State

82.0

116

MTSU

81.5

117

Navy

80.0

118

S. Alabama

79.5

119

Idaho

78.5

120

Tulane

78.0

121

Memphis

76.5

122

F A U

76.5

123

U. Mass.

76.0

124

Akron

73.5

 

Ratings by Conference

Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Division

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

FloridaState

0-0

1-0

121.5

118.5

Clemson  

0-0

1-0

115.0

114.5

North CarolinaState

0-0

0-1

102.7

110.0

BostonCollege

0-1

0-1

101.3

99.5

WakeForest

0-0

1-0

96.3

94.5

Maryland

0-0

1-0

94.6

91.5

       

 

Coastal Division

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Virginia Tech

1-0

1-0

110.7

114.5

North Carolina

0-0

1-0

111.5

116.0

Georgia Tech

0-1

0-1

108.5

112.0

Virginia

0-0

1-0

100.8

106.0

Miami-FL

1-0

1-0

100.3

104.0

Duke

0-0

1-0

99.7

96.5

       

 

       

 

Conference Means

105.85

 

105.24

106.5

 

 

Big East Conference

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

South Florida

0-0

1-0

108.0

103.0

Louisville

0-0

1-0

106.1

104.5

Rutgers

0-0

1-0

104.5

96.0

Pittsburgh

0-0

0-1

102.6

87.5

Connecticut

0-0

1-0

100.9

98.0

Cincinnati

0-0

0-0

100.2

100.0

Syracuse

0-0

0-1

96.3

94.5

Temple

0-0

1-0

89.4

86.5

 

 

 

   
 

 

 

   
Conference Means

98.625

 

101.00

96.3

 

 

Big Ten

         
Leaders Division      

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Wisconsin  

0-0

1-0

116.4

109.0

OhioState

0-0

1-0

115.7

115.5

Illinois

0-0

1-0

105.7

107.5

Purdue

0-0

1-0

105.3

106.5

PennState

0-0

0-1

94.3

98.0

Indiana

0-0

1-0

92.3

90.0

         
Legends Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Nebraska

0-0

1-0

118.8

114.0

Michigan

0-0

0-1

118.3

111.5

MichiganState

0-0

1-0

113.2

113.0

Iowa

0-0

1-0

101.8

103.5

Northwestern

0-0

0-1

98.5

101.5

Minnesota

0-0

1-0

97.4

97.5

         
Conference Means

106.05

 

106.48

105.6

 

 

Big 12

         
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Oklahoma

0-0

1-0

128.1

116.5

OklahomaState  

0-0

1-0

126.7

115.5

KansasState

0-0

1-0

120.4

111.0

Texas

0-0

1-0

120.0

113.0

West Virginia

0-0

1-0

115.6

118.0

Baylor

0-0

1-0

113.9

110.5

Texas Tech

0-0

1-0

112.3

104.0

T C U

0-0

0-0

111.2

109.0

IowaState

0-0

1-0

107.6

102.0

Kansas

0-0

1-0

102.0

91.5

         
 

 

 

   
Conference Means

112.44

 

115.78

109.1

 

 

Conference USA

East Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Central Florida

0-0

1-0

102.8

99.0

Southern Mississippi  

0-0

0-1

97.1

96.0

East Carolina

0-0

1-0

95.0

96.5

Marshall

0-0

0-1

91.7

91.0

U A B

0-0

0-1

80.3

87.5

Memphis

0-0

0-1

73.9

76.5

         
West Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Tulsa

0-0

0-1

102.6

94.5

Houston

0-0

0-1

99.8

92.5

S M U

0-0

0-1

95.6

93.0

U T E P

0-0

0-1

92.7

91.5

Rice

0-0

0-1

88.5

88.5

Tulane

0-0

0-1

81.9

78.0

         
         
Conference Means

91.1

 

91.83

90.4

 

 

Independents

         
Team

 

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Notre Dame  

1-0

119.7

108.0

B Y U  

1-0

110.3

107.0

Army  

0-0

92.1

86.0

Navy  

0-1

89.8

80.0

         
         
Conference Means

99.1125

 

102.98

95.3

 

 

Mid American Conference

East Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Ohio U

0-0

1-0

97.6

100.5

Bowling Green

0-0

0-1

94.4

94.5

Miami (O)

0-0

0-1

91.5

90.5

Kent St.

0-0

1-0

89.3

90.5

Buffalo

0-0

0-1

83.9

93.5

Massachusetts

0-0

0-1

68.3

76.0

Akron

0-0

0-1

66.3

73.5

         
West Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Toledo

0-0

0-1

95.5

98.0

Western Michigan

0-0

0-1

94.8

98.5

Northern Illinois  

0-0

0-1

93.9

99.0

BallState

1-0

1-0

89.8

92.0

Central Michigan

0-0

1-0

88.0

90.0

Eastern Michigan

0-1

0-1

85.6

88.0

         
         
Conference Means

89.3615

 

87.61

91.1

 

 

Mountain West Conference

         
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

BoiseState

0-0

0-1

103.7

102.5

Nevada

0-0

1-0

101.1

105.0

Wyoming

0-0

0-1

93.2

95.0

San DiegoState

0-0

0-1

92.8

97.5

FresnoState

0-0

1-0

92.8

99.0

ColoradoState

0-0

1-0

88.4

92.5

Air Force

0-0

1-0

85.6

100.0

Hawaii

0-0

0-1

84.7

89.5

New Mexico

0-0

1-0

81.4

85.0

UNLV

0-0

0-1

79.0

91.0

 

 

 

   
Conference Means

92.985

 

90.27

95.7

 

 

Pac-12 Conference

North Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Oregon  

0-0

1-0

120.9

119.0

Stanford

0-0

1-0

114.3

111.5

OregonState

0-0

0-0

106.0

105.5

Washington

0-0

1-0

105.0

106.5

California

0-0

0-1

105.0

102.0

WashingtonState

0-0

0-1

99.4

100.0

         
South Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

U S C

0-0

1-0

128.7

120.5

Utah

0-0

1-0

111.6

111.0

U C L A

0-0

1-0

111.0

112.0

Arizona

0-0

1-0

103.7

106.5

ArizonaState

0-0

1-0

101.1

109.5

Colorado

0-0

0-1

91.1

93.5

         
         
Conference Means

108.138

 

108.15

108.1

 

 

Southeastern Conference

East Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Georgia

0-0

1-0

117.3

116.0

South Carolina

1-0

1-0

117.3

116.0

Tennessee

0-0

1-0

115.9

112.0

Missouri

0-0

1-0

114.8

112.0

Florida

0-0

1-0

114.7

112.5

Vanderbilt

0-1

0-1

110.6

105.5

Kentucky

0-0

0-1

94.4

94.0

         
West Division        
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Alabama

0-0

1-0

130.7

123.0

L S U  

0-0

1-0

129.2

120.0

Arkansas

0-0

1-0

118.4

114.5

Texas A&M

0-0

0-0

113.2

107.0

Auburn

0-0

0-1

111.5

109.5

MississippiState

0-0

1-0

109.6

110.0

Ole Miss

0-0

1-0

101.3

101.0

         
         
Conference Means

112.568

 

114.21

110.9

 

 

Sunbelt Conference

         
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Western Kentucky

0-0

1-0

93.0

96.5

UL-Lafayette

0-0

1-0

92.1

97.0

Florida International

0-0

0-1

90.7

91.5

ArkansasState  

0-0

0-1

89.8

94.5

North Texas

0-0

0-1

88.2

87.0

Louisiana-Monroe

0-0

0-0

85.5

90.0

Troy

0-0

1-0

85.1

94.0

FloridaAtlantic

0-0

1-0

74.6

76.5

Middle Tennessee

0-0

0-1

72.6

81.5

South Alabama

0-0

0-1

70.4

79.5

         
         
Conference Means

86.5

 

84.20

88.8

 

 

Western Athletic Conference

         
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Vintage

Louisiana Tech  

0-0

0-0

101.1

98.5

UtahState

0-0

1-0

93.8

96.0

San JoseState

0-0

0-1

91.8

95.5

Idaho

0-0

0-1

79.5

78.5

TexasState

0-0

1-0

79.1

86.0

New MexicoState

0-0

1-0

78.1

82.0

U T S A

0-0

1-0

76.1

84.5

         
         
Conference Means

87.1786

 

85.64

88.7

 

 

Here Are The PiRate and Vintage Spreads For This Week

This Week’s Games
         
Favorite Underdog PiRate Vintage Line
Thursday, September 6      
CINCINNATI Pittsburgh 0.1 15.0 4   
         
Friday, August 31      
Utah UTAH STATE 15.8 13.0 7 1/2
         
Saturday, September 8      
VIRGINIA Penn State 9.0 10.5 10   
Indiana MASSACHUSETTS 22.5 12.5 13 1/2
MICHIGAN Air Force 36.7 15.5 21   
OHIO U New Mexico State 23.0 22.0 21   
KENTUCKY Kent State 8.1 6.5 7   
OHIO STATE Central Florida 16.9 20.5 17 1/2
BOWLING GREEN Idaho 18.4 19.5 16   
CLEMSON Ball State 28.7 26.0 27   
KANSAS Rice 16.5 6.0 9 1/2
WYOMING Toledo 1.2 0.5 3   
North Carolina WAKE FOREST 13.2 19.5 8   
MISSOURI Georgia 0.5 -1.0 -3 1/2
KANSAS STATE Miami (Fla) 23.1 10.0 7   
Michigan State CENTRAL MICHIGAN 22.7 20.5 23 1/2
Southern Cal (n) Syracuse 30.9 24.5 27 1/2
NOTRE DAME Purdue 16.4 3.5 14 1/2
South Florida NEVADA 3.9 -5.0 -1   
Wisconsin OREGON STATE 6.9 0.0 8   
OREGON Fresno State 31.1 23.0 34   
SOUTH CAROLINA East Carolina 25.3 22.5 21 1/2
Iowa State IOWA 3.3 -4.0 -3 1/2
L S U Washington 28.2 17.5 23 1/2
OLE MISS U t e p 11.6 12.5 7 1/2
MISSISSIPPI STATE Auburn 1.1 3.5 3   
Texas Tech TEXAS STATE 30.7 15.5 17 1/2
Maryland TEMPLE 3.2 3.0 -10 1/2
TEXAS New Mexico 41.6 31.0 38   
TEXAS A&M Florida 2.0 -2.0 1 1/2
HOUSTON Louisiana Tech 1.7 -3.0 -3 1/2
Nebraska U C L A 4.8 -1.0 5   
SAN DIEGO STATE Army 4.7 15.5 4 1/2
CONNECTICUT North Carolina State 1.2 -9.0 -6   
TULSA Tulane 23.7 19.5 25   
Vanderbilt NORTHWESTERN 9.1 1.0 3 1/2
STANFORD Duke 18.6 19.0 15   
Oklahoma State ARIZONA 20.0 6.0 13 1/2
Illinois ARIZONA STATE 1.6 -5.0 -3   
FLORIDA INT’L Akron 26.9 20.5 23 1/2
UL-Lafayette TROY 4.5 0.5 -3   
MIDDLE TENNESSEE Florida Atlantic 0.0 7.0 8   
ARKANSAS STATE Memphis 18.4 20.5 23   
ARKANSAS UL-Monroe 35.9 27.5 30 1/2
ALABAMA Western Kentucky 41.7 30.5 40   

 

Coming Tomorrow: Our PiRate NFL Picks For Week 1.  Can we have a year like 2011, when our regular season NFL picks beat the spread to the tune of 60.8%?  (31-21-2)

 

March 20, 2011

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

All Times EDT

Number in (Parentheses) indicates PiRate Criteria Rating

For a detailed explanation of the PiRate Criteria Rating, click on the following link:

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/bracketnomics-505-2011-edition/

 

12:15 PM on CBS

North Carolina (15) vs. Washington (13)

CBS gives you the most exciting 3rd round game to start off your Sunday.  These teams can get up and down the floor and score quickly.  We expect it to be more like the late 1960’s when North Carolina and Davidson met in the NCAA Tournament for a couple of historic games.

 

The Tar Heels are the slight favorite, but this game could go either way.  When you have two teams capable of topping 85 points, it comes down to which team can control the boards and force more turnovers.  North Carolina should win the battle on the boards, but Washington should win the turnover battle and force more steals.

 

We thought about taking the Huskies, but Coach Roy Williams has a long history of getting to the Sweet 16, while Coach Lorenzo Romar has a shorter history of doing so.

 

We think this will still be undecided with five minutes to go, but the Tar Heels have three go-to guys that can win this game (Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, while UW has two (Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning).  Three to two odds makes for a 60% chance that nothing will be finer in Carolina today.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 83  Washington 76

 

2:45 PM on CBS

Duke (15) vs. Michigan (Elim)

Shortly after we released the 68-team preview last week, the news that Kyrie Irving was ready to play once again changed Duke’s criteria score.  We have not set way to add points in cases like this; we have to make a semi-educated guess.  Before Irving went down to injury, Duke was 8-0, outscoring opponents by a score of 89-66.  He returned to play against Hampton, so in the nine games in which he has contributed, Duke’s average scoring margin is 89-64.  We figure Irving’s presence makes Duke seven to 10 points better.  That would place their PiRate Criteria score right there with Kansas for the top spot.

 

Michigan caught the biggest break in this tournament.  They played a Tennessee team that completely quit once a six-point Volunteer lead was wiped away.  The Wolverines outscored Tennessee 52-16 the final 24 minutes of their game.

 

Duke will not wilt if Michigan erases a six-point Blue Devil lead.  This team is better than last year’s national champion with Irving teaming up with Nolan Smith.  Last year’s champion was a little stronger inside, but with Irving, Smith, Kyle Singler, Mason and Miles Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, and Andre Dawkins, Coach Mike Krzyzewski has too many weapons to completely stop.

 

Michigan relies on three-point shooting and great penetration.  Darius Morris and Tim Hardaway, Junior can take the maize and blue on their shoulders and make life miserable for opposing teams that are not overly aggressive defensively.  Duke is not one of those teams.

 

The Blue Devils will stifle the Michigan offense and score enough fast break points and second-chance points to win this one by double digits.

 

Prediction: Duke 76  Michigan 61

 

5:15 PM on CBS

Ohio State (21) vs. George Mason (8)

George Mason has done it before.  The Colonials knocked off Connecticut and North Carolina among others when they made their historic run to the Final Four in 2006.  This GMU team has more talent and almost as much experience, making the Colonials a legitimate contender to advance to the Sweet 16.

 

One problem for GMU: they are facing the team with the second best PiRate Criteria score.  Ohio State has too much firepower for Coach Jim Larranaga to pull magic out of a hat again.

 

Jared Sullinger is too strong and quick inside for the Colonials to stop, and Ryan Pearson will not be able to have a big game against the Buckeyes’ inside defense.  Jon Diebler and William Buford will see a lot of open looks from outside, and we cannot see both having an off day.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 74  George Mason 59

 

6:10 PM on TNT

Texas (18) vs. Arizona (3)

The Longhorns almost could not hold onto a big lead in their first game, while Arizona never could break away from Memphis in theirs.

 

We believe Texas will be more focused on this game and put together 40 minutes of total basketball.  The Longhorns present tough matchup problems with four starters that are great combo inside-outside players.  When they get their mind into the game, they can control a game at both ends of the floor.

 

Jordan Hamilton, Gary Johnson, Tristan Thompson, and Cory Joseph should be focused after watching a huge lead against Oakland almost evaporate entirely in the final minutes.

 

Arizona benefitted from playing a weak second-round opponent.  The Wildcats are not back to where they were in the Lute Olson days.  In Derrick Williams, they have an inside player that can dominate in the paint, but he can be neutralized by an opponent that gets the Wildcats into a running transition game.

 

Texas is not a pure running team, but the Longhorns can take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.  They will do so today.

 

Prediction: Texas 78  Arizona 65

 

7:10 PM on TBS

Purdue (16) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (-1)

Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart may be on the radar of two or three big-time coaching searches.  The second year coach has proven to be an excellent tournament tactician.

 

This Ram team does not figure to advance into the second week of the tournament, because in the past, teams with negative PiRate Critieria scores only made it to the Sweet 16 if their first two opponents had either negative scores or ELIM scores.

 

Purdue is only 11-6 since their 15-1 start.  If E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson do not combine for at least 35 points and 20 rebounds, the Boilermakers can be beaten.  We tend to believe that both stars will shine brightly today, and the lads from West Lafayette will be preparing for a mighty rivalry game later in the week.

 

Prediction: Purdue 73  V C U 64

 

7:45 PM on truTV

Syracuse (17) vs. Marquette (3)

When a conference places 11 teams in the Big Dance, it goes that there could be matchups of teams from that conference facing off in earlier rounds.  For the second time this weekend, the Big East has another “conference game” in the NCAA Tournament.

 

In the regular season, Marquette won a close game in Milwaukee, 76-70.  It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Orangemen following an 18-0 start.  Once the ‘Cuse got over their midseason swoon, they recovered to win six in a row before meeting the hot Huskies from Connecticut in the Big East Tournament.

 

Is a 14-loss team good enough to advance to the Sweet 16?  This is not your father’s Marquette teams.  Bo Ellis, Lloyd Walton, Dean Meminger, and Butch Lee are not walking through that door.  Al McGuire won’t be receiving a couple of technical fouls.

 

The Golden Eagles have one thing going for them; they know how to attack Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense.  They should get enough open looks to keep this game close, and if they can come close on the boards, they will be there at the end.

 

We expect a close game, but Syracuse will dictate the tempo.  Expect a lower-scoring game, with Syracuse’s Rick Jackson being just a little too much for Marquette’s interior defense to handle.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 68  Marquette 62

 

8:40 PM on TNT

Kansas (23) vs. Illinois (1)

Kansas remembers well what happened one year ago just down I-44 in OKC from where they are playing today.  The Jayhawks exited the tournament as one of the co-favorites to win it all, when Northern Iowa pulled off a major shocker.

 

We do not see KU meeting a similar fate in Tulsa today.  This team is loaded with talent, both inside and outside, and they have no major liabilities to be exploited.  Markieff and Marcus Morris are the best set of twins in college basketball since the Van Arsdale brothers (Dick and Tom) in the 1960’s. The two combine for 31 points and 15+ rebounds per game.  Off the bench, beefy Thomas Robinson provides extra inside punch.

 

The taller of the twins, Markieff can set up outside and bury the three-pointer or pass high-low to his brother.  It is hard to stop both, so opponents have to sell out to stop the inside threat first.

 

Illinois greatly underachieved this season.  The Illini should have contended for second place in the Big Ten and should have won five or six additional games.  A team talented enough to beat North Carolina by 12 points as well as Oakland, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Penn State handily also lost to Illinois-Chicago and Indiana.  For the Illini to have a chance in this game, they will have to penetrate the KU defense and force fouls.  For two reasons, we do not believe that will work today.  First, the officiating in this tournament has been very relaxed.  Second, we do not believe Illinois point guard Demetri McCamey can get through the front line of defense enough times to change the outcome of the game.

 

Prediction: Kansas 80  Illinois 68

 

9:45 PM on TBS

Notre Dame (11) vs. Florida State (2)

Too bad this one isn’t being played at the Fiesta Bowl.  These former football rivals will meet in Chicago where the St. Patrick’s Day celebrants should be back to normal today.  We consider Notre Dame to have a slight near-home court advantage, and the Irish really do not need anything extra to win this game.

 

Florida State gets extra points for Chris Singleton’s return from injury.  However, Singleton scored just five points and grabbed just two rebounds in 16 minutes of play in the win over Texas A&M; this was not very Kyrie Irving-like.  He is not ready to take the Seminoles on his shoulders and lead them into the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 65  Florida State 59

 

Coming Later This Week: We will update the PiRate Criteria Scores based on the two games each of the Sweet 16 teams playe

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)

1:00 PM EDT  ESPN

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  ESPN3.com 

 

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

 

Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Semifinal Round

#6 Akron  79  #2 Western Michigan  68

#1 Kent State 79  #4 Ball State 68

 

Championship Game

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

 

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

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Semifinal Round

#4 Morgan State  61  #1 Bethune-Cookman  48

#2 Hampton  85  #6 Norfolk State  61

 

Championship Game

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

 

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

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U  87  #5 New Mexico  76

#2 San Diego State  74  #3 UNLV 72

 

Championship Game

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

 

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

 

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

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona  67  #4 Southern Cal  62

#3 Washington 69  #7 Oregon 51

 

Championship Game

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

 

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

 

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

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

Quarterfinal Round

1W  Alabama 65  4E Georgia 59  ot

2E  Kentucky  75  3W  Ole Miss 66

1E  Florida  85  5E  Tennessee  74

3E  Vanderbilt  87  2W  Mississippi State  81

 

Semifinal Round

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Championship Game

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

 

S W A C—Garland, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Alabama State  73  #1 Texas Southern  66

#6 Grambling  81  #2 Jackson State  75  ot

 

Championship Game

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

 

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

 

W A C—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State  58  #8 San Jose State  54

#2 Boise State 81  #3 New Mexico State  63

 

Championship Game

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

 

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

 

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

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