The Pi-Rate Ratings

April 3, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball National Championship Game Preview

Red-White-Blue Ratings

Monday, April 3
Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Gonzaga -3 -1 2

Team Stats Comparison

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 38 1129 2222 278 730 621 864 366 1172 1538 434 263 3157
North Carolina 39 1200 2560 279 771 627 890 615 1088 1703 469 276 3306

 

Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 38 849 2326 219 743 410 620 414 851 1265 468 202 2327
North Carolina 39 962 2318 311 920 524 720 355 853 1208 530 247 2759

 

Team PPG Def PPG Mar. FG-Marg Rb-Marg TO-Marg R+T WLRd SOS Poss/G W L
Gonzaga 83.1 61.2 21.8 14.3 7.2 0.9 19.4 22-0 54.36 70.7 37 1
North Carolina 84.8 70.7 14.0 5.4 12.7 1.6 30.2 12-7 60.29 72.7 32 7

 

Four Factors Comparison

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.1 14.2 15.2 23.0 15.3
North Carolina 52.3 48.2 41.9 24.6 13.6 16.6 22.1 18.5

 

PiRate Ratings Criteria Breakdown

Power Conference: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina is a member of the ACC, while Gonzaga is a member of the WCC.  The Tar Heels’ conference affiliation gives them an 8-point advantage over Gonzaga.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina’s schedule has been 10.3 points better than average through 39 games.  Gonzaga’s schedule has been 4.4 points better than average through 38 games.  This gives the Tar Heels the advantage by 6 points.

R+T Rating*: Advantage–North Carolina

North Carolina’s R+T of 30.2 is the best by far in all of Division 1 College Basketball, and it came shining through in their semifinal win over Oregon, where the Tar Heels forced a lot of early turnovers on the Ducks, and they cleaned the glass, especially when the game was on the line.

Gonzaga’s R+T of 19.4 earns an A+ grade, but when facing a team with an A+++ grade, the extra scoring opportunities the Bulldogs normally receive through rebounding prowess, turnover avoidance, and the ability to steal the ball and avoid having it stolen disappears.  The Tar Heels should receive the opportunity to score about 11 more points than Gonzaga through hustle stats.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s FG% margin of 14.3% is at the top of the charts.  It is why the Bulldogs have made it to this game.  North Carolina’s margin of 5.4% is just average for an NCAA Tournament team and below average for a Final Four team.  This is the stat that gives the Zags a fighting chance.

Expected Possessions Per Team: 72

North Carolina will do everything it can to speed up the pace of this game.  Even though Gonzaga’s pace is considerably above average, the Bulldogs can ill afford to get into a race horse pace in this game.  For every possession above 70 in this game, the Tar Heels will receive more and more benefit.

Summary

Gonzaga has a chance to win this game, but the Bulldogs will have to keep the ball out of the paint when North Carolina has the ball.  Having two quality post players gives the Zags a chance to do just that, but Carolina could get both Karnowski and Collins in foul trouble, and that would spell doom for the challenger.

If Jackson and Berry can knock down three-pointers at a rate above 37.5% (3 out of every 8), it will force Gonzaga to stretch their man-to-man defense just enough to open the inside for Meeks, Hicks, and Bradley, and Gonzaga’s inside defense may be strong, but it is not quick enough to handle the Tar Heel inside game.

North Carolina came within a second of winning the title last year.  Our PiRates here believe that Roy Williams will be cutting down the nets for his third time, passing his mentor in bringing title banners to Chapel Hill.

PiRate Prediction: North Carolina 89  Gonzaga 81

 

Note: This ends our sports coverage for Spring.  The PiRates will return to our ship and head out to sea once again, and we will return to land in August in time to begin previewing the 2017-18 college and NFL football seasons.

In our absence, some of our merry lasses may decide to post a story or two dealing with whatever floats their boats.

Enjoy a wonderful Spring and Summer, and we will be back for the football season.

Advertisements

March 31, 2017

PiRate Ratings Final Four Preview

PiRate Red-White-Blue Ratings

Saturday, April 1
Team Team Red White Blue
Gonzaga South Carolina 9 9 5
North Carolina Oregon 3 3 2

Tipoff Times

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Saturday, April 1
6:09 PM CBS Gonzaga vs. South Carolina
8:49 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Oregon

The Official Statistics 

Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 1100 2162 269 711 611 851 356 1141 1497 422 260 3080
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Gonzaga 37 824 2260 212 723 394 598 401 828 1229 463 195 2254
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 898 2132 241 715 595 853 451 857 1308 475 281 2632
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
South Carolina 36 760 1909 199 668 618 855 391 873 1264 620 219 2337
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 1175 2492 271 750 608 863 598 1062 1660 458 269 3229
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
North Carolina 38 940 2260 304 894 499 692 343 822 1165 514 242 2683
                           
                           
Team Offense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 1069 2212 327 854 535 759 400 985 1385 438 248 3000
                           
Team Defense G FG FGA 3pt 3ptA FT FTA OReb DReb Reb To Stl Pts
Oregon 38 907 2243 265 852 409 568 399 824 1223 504 179 2488

The Four Factors

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTO% FT* DFT*
Gonzaga 57.1 41.2 30.1 26.0 14.1 15.4 23.2 15.1
South Carolina 47.8 45.0 34.1 31.3 15.8 21.1 23.2 24.3
North Carolina 52.6 48.3 42.1 24.4 13.6 16.6 22.0 18.1
Oregon 55.7 46.3 32.7 28.8 14.5 16.7 20.5 15.6

FT* & DFT* use FT/100 Possessions as its metric formula

 

PiRate Ratings Criteria

Team PPG Def Mar. FG-Marg Reb-Marg TO-Marg R+T* WLRd SOS OPoss DPoss Poss/G
Gonzaga 83.2 60.9 22.3 14.4 7.2 1.1 19.8 21-0 54.36 2632 2606 70.8
South Carolina 73.1 64.9 8.2 2.3 1.2 4.0 10.3 11-7 56.96 2561 2544 70.9
North Carolina 85.0 70.6 14.4 5.6 13.0 1.5 30.7 15-7 59.00 2762 2760 72.7
Oregon 78.9 65.5 13.5 7.9 4.3 1.7 14.8 16-5 56.83 2611 2618 68.8

R+T*: For those of you new to the PiRate Ratings, the R+T rating is our own invention.  It is an attempt to estimate the potential number of points above or below average that a team is capable of scoring due to superior rebounding, forcing and avoiding turnover, and especially getting and avoiding steals, the most punishing of turnovers, as it almost always leads to points and/or fouls.  The number represents the potential points scored against an average team just from the hustle stats.  Thus, at 19.8, Gonzaga could be expected to score 20 points per game against an average team just from their rebounding margin and turnover margin, with an emphasis on steals margin.  The 20 points is figured based on extra scoring opportunities and includes the possibility that fast break shots might be missed and the team might turn the ball over with this added opportunity.

Anything over 15.0 is outstanding, while anything over 25.0 is super and a major contributor to winning a lot of games.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Comparisons

Gonzaga vs. South Carolina

Power Conference: Reason–Since 1985 with the 64 or 68-team tournament, there have been 64 teams in the 32 National Championship Games.  60 of the 64 came from Power Conferences

 

Advantage–South Carolina, as the WCC is not a power conference, while the SEC is

 

Strength of Schedule: Reason–All National Champions since SOS records have been kept had SOS’s of 4 points better than average.  

Advantage–Slight to South Carolina.  Both teams qualify here, but USC’s SOS is about 2 1/2 points stronger per game on average.

R+T Rating: Reason–All Champions in since 2000 have had R+T above 10.0

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial advantage here, but South Carolina barely qualifies.  The Bulldogs should expect to have the chance to score 10 extra points from R+T Rating, meaning USC will have to make up for this with Field Goal margin.

Scoring Margin: Reason–Almost every team in the NCAA Championship Game throughout the history of the tournament have had scoring margins in excess of 8 points per game, and most had double-digit margins.

Advantage: Gonzaga has a substantial edge here, but USC also qualifies by the skin of their teeth.  Gonzaga’s 20+ scoring margin must be discounted a little due to their schedule, but we can adjust this to about 12 points if the Zags had played in the Pac-12.

 

Field Goal % Margin: Reason–Over 90% of all title participants have had FG% Margins in excess of 5% and a majority have had margins over 8%.  Teams with double digit margins have dominated title games when the opponent had margins under 5%.  There are exceptions, like 1985 when Villanova upset Georgetown.

Advantage: Major advantage to Gonzaga, as their FG% margin has the look of many of John Wooden’s UCLA teams.  USC does not qualify here with a FG% margin of just 2%.

PiRate Criteria Analysis: Except for conference class, Gonzaga has the look of a dominant national championship team.  However, class is just as important in college basketball as it is in horse racing.  A great horse from a small track that has several smaller stakes wins might have better numbers than the horses that run at Aqueduct and Santa Anita, and most of the time, these horses fail when running in a Grade 1 race.

Gonzaga is not your normal mid-major team.  They are more like Butler when the Bulldogs went to back-to-back title games and UNLV from 1990.  Gonzaga has the talent to win it all.  They have a dominant inside game and an underrated perimeter game.

South Carolina has a lot of heart, and their defense has stepped it up in the tournament.  The Gamecocks looked like this at the start of the season before injuries began to affect the perimeter defense.  Now, USC is fully healthy again, and the players remind us of the Gashouse Gang (The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals World Series Champions).  Opponents feel like they have gone 12 rounds with Joe Louis after 40 minutes of playing against them.

We expect South Carolina to keep this game close for the first 32 minutes or so, but after that Gonzaga’s superior inside strength will take its toll, as both teams tire late and begin to misfire from outside.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: Gonzaga 69  South Carolina 61

 

North Carolina vs. Oregon

Power Conference: Advantage–Very slight advantage to North Carolina, as the ACC is the equivalent of the AL East in Major League Baseball.  No Pac-12 team has won the title since Arizona 20 years ago.

Strength of Schedule: Advantage–Slight edge to North Carolina by an average of about 2.2 points per game

R+T Rating: Advantage–North Carolina has the largest R+T Rating in all of Division 1, as they did last year when they came within a second of winning the title.  Oregon’s rating is almost 15, which means the Ducks are exceptional as well, just not as exceptional as UNC.  Also missing 6-10 Chris Boucher in this game should be somewhat important, and the  Tar Heels will have a decided rebounding advantage, a major component of R+T.

Scoring Margin: Advantage–A Push, as both teams have similar numbers.

Field Goal % Margin: Advantage–Oregon has a minor but definite advantage with numbers that look a little more like a Championship Game participant, but teams have won the title with the same margin as the Tar Heels.  

PiRate Criteria Analysis: All during this tournament, we have been concerned about Oregon missing Boucher, thinking that eventually the Duck frontcourt would wear down in the second games of the two previous weekends.  That did not happen, as the Ducks rallied and found another gear.  We are now ready to admit to this mistake.  Oregon can win all the marbles without Boucher.  However, this is the first game where their opponent has the scary frontcourt.  Oregon needs Boucher not because of depth, but because they need a 6-10 bruiser to bang it with Carolina’s titans.

North Carolina’s perimeter play has had the look of a national champion.  The guards stepped up on both sides of the ball late in the games with Arkansas and Kentucky, refusing to end the season.  Remember too that UNC feels slighted for last year.  They had the national championship trophy in grasp until a last second shot moved that trophy over to Villanova’s locker room.

PiRate Ratings Criteria Prediction: North Carolina 85  Oregon 75

 

4 Interesting Possible National Title Games

You the typical college basketball fan is guaranteed to have a great title game Monday night no matter who wins tomorrow.  Let’s look at each of the four possibilities.

 

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina:  These are the two teams that looked like the most dominant throughout most of the season.  Earlier in the season, when these teams were playing in tournaments against quality opposition, they won handily, dominating in all facets of the game.  Also, this represents the old guard of UNC against the upstart that has been threatening to get this far for years in Gonzaga.  

Gonzaga vs. Oregon: There has not been an all West Coast National Championship Game before.  Of course, until the age when more than one team per conference going to the Big Dance, it was not possible, as these two teams would have both been in the West Regional.  Still, it would be interesting to have two teams from the Pacific Northwest facing off in the title game.

South Carolina vs. North Carolina: Many of you have not experienced a Dodgers-Yankees or Giants–Yankees World Series.  In our opinion, nothing can beat a Dodgers-Yankees World Series.  This would be an equivalent.  These two teams were both in the ACC for many years until the Gamecocks became an Independent following the 1971 season (when they were the ACC Champions).  Two former South Carolina head coaches, Frank McGuire and Eddie Fogler, had North Carolina ties, and Fogler has been BFFs with Roy Williams for decades.

South Carolina vs. Oregon: A lot of people would find it very interesting if the Seattle Mariners played the Washington Nationals in the World Series.  Not having the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, or Giants would be a great change of pace.  The Cleveland-Chicago World Series last year did more for Major League Baseball than American Pharoh’s winning the Triple Crown in 2015.  A Gamecock-Duck National Championship Game could make fans of all Division 1 teams from Power Conferences believe their team could do it too.

 

 

March 26, 2011

PiRate Ratings Elite Eight Preview For Saturday-Sunday, March 26-27, 2011

It hasn’t been pretty for our PiRate Criteria Ratings this year.  We are down to one team left in our Final Four bracket, but at least it is the team we picked to win it all.  Kansas is our last hope, but if the Jayhawks can get by Virginia Commonwealth, they will be two wins away from keeping our successful record of picking the national champion before the tournament begins intact.

 

We are shocked that a team with a negative PiRate Criteria score is still around, and even more surprised that the team has had to win one extra game to get to this point.  We are almost as shocked to see Arizona in the Elite Eight with a score of just four points, and we are semi-surprised to see Butler back in the Elite Eight with a rating of four.  The Bulldogs’ 2010 PiRate Criteria score was 10 points higher than it is today, and they were actually favored to beat Syracuse in the Sweet 16 by our ratings.

 

PiRate Criteria Rating in (parentheses)

All Games on CBS

 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

4:30 PM EDT—Southeast Regional Final @ New Orleans

#2 Florida 29-7 (15) vs. #8 Butler 26-9 (4)

Position Florida Butler
Coach Billy Donovan Brad Stevens
Center (32) Vernon Macklin 6-10 Sr.–11.2/5.4  58.4% FG (44) Andrew Smith 6-11 So.–8.9/5.4  62.2% FG ***Probable***
Forward (23) Alex Tyus 6-8 Sr.–8.9/6.1 (54) Matt Howard 6-8 Sr.–16.8/7.8  44.4%  3pt
Forward (25) Chandler Parsons 6-10 Sr.–11.5/7.8  3.8 ast (33) Chase Stigall 6-4 So.–4.0/1.8
Guard (1) Kenny Boynton 6-2 So.–14.1/1.4  82.1% FT (1) Shelvin Mack 6-3 Sr.–15.6/4.3  3.6 ast
Guard (11) Erving Walker  5-8 Jr.–14.8/3.0  3.4 ast (2) Shawn Vanzant 6-0 Sr.–8.1/3.1  42.3% 3 pt
6th (4) Patric Young 6-9 Fr. F/C–3.4/3.8  56.8% FG (23) Khyle Marshall 6-7 Fr. F–5.8/3.7
7th (5) Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Fr. G–2.5/1.5  1.7 ast (5) Ronald Nored 6-0 Jr.–5.3/3.0  2.5 ast

 

PiRate Criteria Stats

 

Team Florida Butler
Pts 9.1 7.8
FG% 4.2 1.5
Reb 6.0 2.9
TO 0.3 1.7
Stl 5.9 6.0
R+T 6.42 5.35
SOS 60 54
Road% 79 67
PiRate # 15 4

 

Can Butler do it again?  It does not appear highly probable, but then the Bulldogs have made a science out of making the improbable probable. 

 

If the Bulldogs are to have any chance in this game, big man Andrew Smith must be able to play at close to 100%.  Smith sprained his ankle in the Sweet 16 win over Wisconsin, and after he exited the game, Butler almost blew a 20-point lead.  It is the emergence of Smith as a key player that has fueled Butler’s long winning streak.  He has led the team in both steals and blocked shots in the winning streak.

 

When Smith is patrolling under the basket, Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack get more open looks.  The duo will need to combine for 40+ points in this game, and they will need to connect on better than 50% of their two-point shots and better than 40% of their three-point shots for Butler to advance to the Final Four for the second consecutive year.

 

When Florida won the National Championship in 2007, their toughest game may have been their Sweet 16 game against Butler.  That Gator team benefitted from having five starters that could score 20 points in a game.  Coach Donovan’s club moves the ball quickly and the players without the ball keep their defender occupied.  Not the most consistent team defensively, the Gators tend to play in spurts.  At times, they are tough on opponents, and at times, opponents get a lot of open looks. 

 

To beat Florida, the key is to penetrate the perimeter defense and take a lot of shots in the 5-10 foot range.  Butler may lack the quickness to get into that inside zone, especially if Smith is not able to occupy 1 ½ defenders.

 

The Southeastern Conference was supposed to be down again this year, and the early NCAA Tournament exits of Tennessee, Georgia, and Vanderbilt supposedly proved this point.  However, the SEC could very well place two teams in the Final Four this year.

 

Prediction: Florida 69  Butler 60

 

7:05 PM EDT—West Regional Final @ Anaheim

#3 Connecticut 29-9 (11)  vs. #5 Arizona 30-7 (4)

Position Connecticut Arizona
Coach Jim Calhoun Sean Miller
Center (35) Charles Okwandu 7-0 Sr.–2.9/2.8 (23) Derrick Williams 6-8 So.–19.5/8.4  60.2% FG/60.3% 3pt
Forward (34) Alex Oriakhi 6-9 So.–9.7/8.7  1.6 Blk (33) Jesse Perry 6-7 Jr.–6.4/4.4
Forward (22) Roscoe Smith 6-8 Fr.–6.5/5.2  1.2 Blk (44) Solomon Hill 6-6 So.–8.1/4.6  78.0% FT
Guard (3) Jeremy Lamb 6-5 Fr.–10.9/4.3  79.6% FT (21) Kyle Fogg 6-3 Jr.–8.1/1.8  2.6 Ast
Guard (15) Kemba Walker 6-1 Jr.–24.0/5.4  4.5 ast/1.9 stl (12) Lamont Jones 6-0 So.–9.7/1.6  2.5 Ast/82.8% FT
6th (13) Shabazz Napier 6-0 Fr. G–7.9/2.3  3.1 Ast (3) Kevin Parrom 6-6 So. G/F–7.8/3.4  2.0 Ast/42.2% 3pt
7th (4) Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 6-7 So. F–6.0/2.7  81.5% FT (42) Jamelle Horne 6-7 Sr. F–6.2/3.3  40.8% 3pt

PiRate Criteria Stats

 

Team Connecticut Arizona
Pts 7.7 8.7
FG% 3.5 2.5
Reb 4.8 3.6
TO 0.3 -0.1
Stl 6.5 5.2
R+T 5.27 4.52
SOS 60 55
Road% 76 67
PiRate # 11 4

 

Two teams with one dominant player and a host of above-average complimentary players should make for an interesting game.  Unfortunately, the teams’ key players will not face off against each other, as Walker is the play-maker for UConn, and Williams is the big man for ‘Zona.

 

On closer inspection, we took a look at Connecticut’s season in three parts.  The Huskies looked like a Final Four team in two of those three parts.  They began the season 10-0, including a blowout win over Kentucky in Hawaii.  They had a lackluster 11-9 middle.  Then, they caught lightning in a bottle, winning five games in five days to take the Big East Tournament title and won three games in the Big Dance to come into this game riding an eight-game winning streak.  Once again, they have looked like a Final Four team.

 

Arizona entered this tournament with a 4-3 mark in its final seven games.  The Wildcats narrowly escaped with wins over Memphis and Texas in the first week, but then they blew defending champion Duke off the floor Thursday night.  They dominated the Blue Devils inside and forced Duke to beat them from over the top.  Duke could not get enough good outside shots in the second half, and Arizona cruised to an easy win.

 

We believe that Connecticut’s backcourt is not that far from Duke’s in total talent, but the Huskies are much stronger inside where it counts.  Connecticut should win the battle of the boards in this game and pound on Derrick Williams enough to throw him off his game.  Arizona has overachieved getting to this point.  The Wildcats will be back in 2011-12 as a top contender for the Final Four, but they will have to settle for Elite Eight this year.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 74  Arizona 66

 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2:20 PM EDT—Southwest Regional Final @ San Antonio

#1 Kansas 35-2 (23) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth 27-11 (-1)

Position Kansas Virginia Commonwealth
Coach Bill Self Shaka Smart
Center (21) Markieff Morris 6-10 Jr.–13.6/8.2  59.6% FG/42.1% 3pt (21) Jamie Skeen 6-9 Sr.–15.1/7.3  1.1 Blk
Forward (22) Marcus Morris 6-9 Jr.–17.1/7.4  57.7% FG (20) Bradford Burgess 6-6 Jr.–14.4/6.2  42.3% 3pt
Forward (14) Tyrel Reed 6-3 Sr.–9.7/3.1  80.2% FT (50) Ed Nixon 6-4 Sr.–7.2/2.6  1.9 Ast
Guard (12) Brady Morningstar 6-4 Sr.–7.3/2.2  3.3 Ast/42.2% 3pt (32) Brandon Rozzell 6-2 Sr.–11.8/2.3  1.4 Stl
Guard (10) Tyshawn Taylor 6-3 Jr.–9.1/1.9  4.6 Ast (12) Joey Rodriguez 5-10 Sr.–10.6/3.2  5.1 Ast/81.8% FT
6th (32) Josh Selby 6-2 Fr. G–8.2/2.3  2.2 Ast (23) Rob Brandenburg 6-2 Fr. G–5.2/1.8
7th (00) Thomas Robinson 6-9 So.–7.8/6.6  60.1% FG (10) Darius Theus 6-3 So. G–3.1/1.6  2.1 Ast

PiRate Criteria Stats

 

Team Kansas V C U
Pts 17.1 3.9
FG% 11.8 2
Reb 7.9 2.1
TO 0.8 -0.6
Stl 7.8 8.3
R+T 9.4 0.9
SOS 59 54
Road% 95 66
PiRate # 23

-1

 

This looks like an even bigger mismatch than Kansas’s Sweet 16 game, but VCU plays a feisty brand of basketball and can pull games out at the end with their pressure and herky-jerky style of play.

 

We anointed Kansas as our pick for the National Champion when the brackets came out two weeks ago, and the Jayhawks are the final power team we have left in the tournament.  KU possesses the same criteria as most of the past national champions.  The last team not to meet our minimum criteria that eventually won the national championship was this very same Kansas team in 1988.  We believe that on Sunday, the Jayhawks will restore some normalcy to this season’s Big Dance and prove to be the one Fred Astaire among a bunch of wannabes.

 

Kansas will not wilt under the pressure defense applied by VCU.  In fact, it will lead to a bunch of easy looks and a high shooting percentage.  The Jayhawks pass the ball like teams from the past, and they know how to hit open shots.  With Josh Selby possibly coming out of his shooting slump, we just cannot see another team defeating them this season.

 

For VCU, their real challenge will begin after the season ends.  Shaka Smart is certain to be in the mix in a number of vacant coaching jobs.  Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, and others will be interested.

 

Prediction: Kansas 77  VCU 62

 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

5:05 PM EDT—East Regional Final @ Newark

#2 North Carolina 29-7 (16) vs. #4 Kentucky 28-8 (16)

Position North Carolina Kentucky
Coach Roy Williams John Calipari
Center (44) Tyler Zeller 7-0 Jr.–15.6/7.2  54.0% FG (55) Josh Harrellson 6-10 Sr.–7.5/8.8  1.6 Blk/61.2% FG
Forward (31) John Henson 6-10 So.–11.9/10.1  3.3 Blk (3) Terrence Jones 6-8 Fr.–15.9/8.7  1.9 Blk/1.6 Ast/1.1 Stl
Forward (40) Harrison Barnes 6-8 Fr.–15.6/5.8  1.4 Ast (34) DeAndre Liggins 6-6 Jr.–8.7/4.2  2.5 Ast/1.1 Stl
Guard (1) Dexter Strickland 6-3 So.–7.4/3.1  2.2 Ast (1) Darius Miller 6-7 Jr.–11.1/4.6  1.7 Ast
Guard (5) Kendall Marshall 6-3 Fr.–6.2/2.1  6.2 Ast (12) Brandon Knight 6-3 Fr.–17.2/3.8  4.2 Ast/79.9% FT
6th (2) Leslie McDonald 6-4 So. G–7.1/2.2  (20) Doron Lamb 6-4 Fr. G–12.4/2.0  1.7 Ast
7th (25) Justin Knox 6-9 Sr. F–4.5/3.2  (30) Eloy Vargas 6-10 Fr. F/C–1.6/2.0

 

PiRate Criteria Stats

Team N. Carolina Kentucky
Pts 9 12.2
FG% 4.7 6.9
Reb 6.5 4
TO 0.7 1.5
Stl 6.1 5.3
R+T 7.52 5.91
SOS 60 60
Road% 66 61
PiRate # 16 16

 

What we have here is the basketball equivalent of the Dodgers versus the Yankees.  Two of the top programs of all time face off for the second time this season.  In December, North Carolina edged the Wildcats by a deuce in Chapel Hill.

 

The Criteria score shows this game to be a tossup, but all five of us at the PiRate Ratings believe Kentucky is the clear-cut choice in this game.  John Calipari is on the verge of getting his third different school into the Final Four.  His teams always play better against an opponent once they have faced that opponent.  Against Florida, they learned after the first game how to slow down the Gators.  They learned how to stop them cold after the second game, and in the event they see them a fourth time, they will repeat it again.  That is getting a bit too far ahead.

 

North Carolina lacks the quickness to stop the Kentucky penetration, and if the Blue Mist hits at least 35% of their three-pointers in this game, they will advance to the Final Four.

 

North Carolina has a decided depth advantage, but the Tar Heels are not as deep as they once were.  With the longer time outs in this tournament, Kentucky can get by with six key players.

 

We see this game as one of spurts.  The Tar Heels will have two or three spurts, but Kentucky will have three or four.  We believe that UK will take the lead for good with five or six minutes left in the game.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 78  North Carolina 72

March 21, 2011

PiRate Ratings Sweet 16 Preview

Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament PiRate Criteria Ratings

Team W – L Pts FG% Reb TO Stl R+T SOS Road% PiRate #
Arizona 29-7 8.7 2.5 3.6 -0.1 5.2 4.52 55 63 4
Brigham Young 32-4 14.1 4.0 3.0 3.5 8.0 9.72 58 86 18
Butler 25-9 7.8 1.5 2.9 1.7 6.0 5.35 54 65 4
Connecticut 28-9 7.7 3.5 4.8 0.3 6.5 5.27 60 75 11
Duke 32-4 17.1 7.1 3.1 2.7 7.3 7.83 58 79 17
Florida 28-7 9.1 4.2 6.0 0.3 5.9 6.42 60 78 15
Florida State 23-10 7.3 7.7 4.6 -0.8 8.5 5.34 54 61 5
Kansas 34-2 17.1 11.8 7.9 0.8 7.8 9.40 59 95 23
Kentucky 27-8 12.2 6.9 4.0 1.5 5.3 5.91 60 60 16
Marquette 22-14 7.0 2.9 2.7 2.1 7.3 6.38 57 44 3
North Carolina 28-7 9.0 4.7 6.5 0.7 6.1 7.52 60 65 16
Ohio State 34-2 18.0 7.6 4.9 4.8 7.1 13.08 58 88 23
Richmond 28-7 9.2 6.0 -1.9 2.1 6.0 1.12 52 81 3
San Diego State 34-2 13.2 7.1 6.9 1.6 6.2 9.28 58 95 19
V C U 25-11 3.9 2.0 2.1 -0.6 8.3 0.90 54 65 -1
Wisconsin 25-8 9.9 1.8 3.8 2.1 3.5 5.56 57 53 9

 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/

PiRate Criteria Numbers Updated To Reflect 1st Three Round Results

Thursday, March 24, 2011

7:15 PM on CBS 

West Regional @ Anaheim

#2 San Diego State 34-2 (19) vs. #3 Connecticut 28-9 (11)

Connecticut faces the first team in the tournament that has the defensive capacity to slow down Kemba Walker.  If Walker has a below-average game, the Huskies’ shooting percentage will head too far south, because UConn does not shoot all that well.

 

The Aztecs can make life miserable on opposing shooters, so if they contain Walker, SDSU has the advantage at the other four positions on the floor.  Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas remind us somewhat of former UCLA greats Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe.

 

The Aztecs’ eventual downfall may come when they are exploited by a defense that forces them to beat them from outside.  Connecticut just may be able to pull that off, so this game cannot be considered a slam dunk for the #2 seed Aztecs.

 

Prediction: San Diego State 67  Connecticut 61

 

7:27 PM on TBS 

Southeast Regional @ New Orleans

#2 Florida 28-7 (15) vs. #3 Brigham Young 32-4 (18)

This one should be interesting, as Florida tries to get revenge for a first round overtime loss to BYU last year.

 

We did not have much faith in the Cougars after Brandon Davies was dismissed for the season.  BYU recovered in the second and third rounds, and the 22-point win over Gonzaga was quite impressive.

 

Still, we discount the Cougars by three points with the absence of Davies.  This makes this game a tossup in our eyes. 

 

Florida is playing inspired ball, but we still do not believe the Gators are on par with their prior two national champion teams.  Offensively, the Gators spread the ball around, and all five starters typically score double figure points.  Defensively, they are underneath, and they frequently find ways to pressure the ball out front.  However, the top defender, Kenny Boynton, may not be 100% in this game.  He has an important assignment.

 

That assignment happens to be guarding Jimmer Fredette.  If Fredette tops 30 points without taking 30 shots to do so, the Cougars could easily give the Mountain West Conference a second team in the Elite Eight.

 

We are split on this game, and we did not come to a conclusion which way to go.  So, we will stick with the higher-rated PiRate Criteria score and go with the Cougars.

 

Prediction: B Y U 82  Florida 78

 

9:45 PM on CBS

West Regional @ Anaheim

#1 Duke 32-4 (17) vs. #5 Arizona 29-7 (4)

With Kyrie Irving back in the fold, Duke has the best eight-deep roster in the nation.  We believe the Blue Devils are the third best team in the Sweet 16 with Irving back.  He scored 25 points in the two games in Charlotte in just 41 minutes, and he picked up some rebounds as well.

 

The Blue Devils’ only thing close to a liability is their defense at forward.  Kyle Singler, Miles Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly have trouble against sneaky fast opponents.

 

Arizona’s forwards have that quickness.  Derrick Williams is as important to the Wildcats as Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette are to their teams.  Jesse Perry only averages seven points per game, but he can take it to the basket against a slower defender.

 

Arizona’s weakness is their defense against power offense.  Duke’s slower forwards as well as center Mason Plumlee can take advantage of the Wildcats’ defensive deficiencies. 

 

Coach K deserves to be compared with John Wooden.  Wooden’s UCLA teams won four games in the NCAA Tournament to win the championship in a field of 22-25 teams.  Krzyzewski’s have been forced to win six in a field of 64, 65, and 68.  We believe he is worth an extra five to 10 points, and we will select Duke to make it to the Elite Eight.

 

Prediction: Duke 77  Arizona 68

 

9:57 PM on TBS

Southeast Regional @ New Orleans

#4 Wisconsin 25-8 (9) vs. #8 Butler 25-9 (4)

Pick against Butler at your own risk.  If the Bulldogs can beat Pittsburgh, there is no reason to believe they cannot return to the Final Four.

 

We did not believe Wisconsin could make it to the Sweet 16 either.  As many readers know, we have ties to U Dub, and this group of Badgers did not look strong enough to us to make it to the second week of the tournament.

 

The PiRate Criteria indicates that Wisconsin is the favorite, but with our internal numbers that we do not advertise, we rate this game as a 50-50 affair.

 

Butler has the experience in close games.  They keep finding a way to win.  However, Wisconsin is one of those tough teams that can neutralize what has been working for Coach Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs.

 

This game could very well come down to the final few possessions, and the winner may struggle to top 55 points.  We do not see any more than 100 field goal attempts, and as few as eight players could score points in this game.

 

Matt Howard can force Wisconsin to bring a big man outside, and that will allow Andrew Smith to work with a little more clearance inside.  If Shelvin Mack keeps his hot streak going, Butler can win this one.

 

If Howard is not on target, and the Badgers do not have to respect his outside shooting ability, Coach Bo Ryan’s team will pack it in, control the boards, and then work patiently to set up Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer.  The tandem could score 40 points with the rest of the team adding just 15, and it could be enough to win this game.

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 55  Butler 54

 

Friday, March 25, 2011

 

7:15 PM on CBS

East Regional @ Newark

#2 North Carolina 28-7 (16) vs. #11 Marquette 22-14 (3)

We do not believe the Tar Heels are Final Four candidates this season.  No matter which team wins the game in the adjacent bracket, we see the Tar Heels losing in the Elite Eight.  However, the margin should be slim.

 

This is the Sweet 16 game, and Coach Roy Williams’ team is more than talented enough to advance to Sunday.  With the outside shooting of Kendall Marshall and Leslie McDonald combined with the take-it-to-the-hoop skills of Harrison Barnes and John Henson and the mandatory doubling down on big center Tyler Zeller, North Carolina will score a lot of points in this game.

 

Marquette’s only hope is for three players to be hot from the field, because Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles will have to outscore North Carolina to win this game.

 

Marquette cannot go head-to-head inside and win this game.  They will have to hit 50% from the field to keep this game close.  From among Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder, and Dwight Buycks three of these players will need to score 15-25 points each.  We see the Golden Eagles coming up short in this one.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 82  Marquette 79

 

7:27 PM on TBS

Southwest Regional @ San Antonio

#1 Kansas 34-2 (23) vs. #12 Richmond 29-7 (3)

Richmond apparently was seeded a few spots to low.  The Spiders have shown that the Atlantic 10 Conference is just below the top six or seven conferences in the nation and well above the average mid-major league.

 

Chris Mooney’s team can shoot the ball and prevent the opponent from shooting the ball.  With an inside-outside punch in big forward Justin Harper and sharpshooting guard Kevin Anderson, Richmond can score points consistently, albeit at a slower pace. 

 

Two things will do the Spiders in Friday night.  They are vulnerable against power teams and teams that can get on the boards for offensive rebounds.  Xavier and Old Dominion showed the blueprint for beating Richmond.

 

Kansas can take that blueprint and build a super foundation.  The Jayhawks are the best passing team in the tournament, and Coach Bill Self’s big men know how to move and get open to receive those passes.  Marcus and Markieff Morris can hit the boards at both ends, and Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor know how to get the ball to them.  KU will advance to play for a spot in the Final Four on Sunday.

 

Prediction: Kansas 73  Richmond 62

 

9:45 PM on CBS

East Regional @ Newark

#1 Ohio State 34-2 (23) vs. #4 Kentucky 27-8 (16)

This is the first contest in the tournament where both teams are rated worthy of making the Elite Eight. 

 

Ohio State has actually moved a couple of percentage points ahead of Kansas for the top overall Criteria score.  The Buckeyes are strong where Kentucky is strong, but Coach Thad Matta’s team also has strength were Kentucky has been vulnerable.  Tough perimeter defense forced George Mason to wilt in the Round of 32, and in William Buford, Jon Diebler, and David Lighty, Ohio State can cut off the perimeter game of most teams. 

 

With the great Jared Sullinger roaming the low post and baseline areas, Kentucky has to dedicate a big man to roam with him.  That will be the Wildcats’ downfall Friday night.  If Terrence Jones is forced to guard Sullinger, expect Josh Harrellson to have a hard time defending the paint against Ohio State’s quicker forwards and slashing guards.  If Harrellson goes out to guard Sullinger, he will have a hard time guarding the nation’s top big man.  Coach John Calipari will have to pick his poison.

 

Kentucky will need a great night from Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb.  If the two players and Darius Miller do not combine for 50 points, Kentucky will be heading back to Lexington, and the sports fans in the Commonwealth can turn their attention to Uncle Mo and the first Saturday in May.

Prediction: Ohio State 76  Kentucky 69

 

9:57 PM on TBS

#10 Florida State 23-10 (5) vs. #12 Virginia Commonwealth 25-11 (-1)

This game guarantees that one double-digit seed will make it to the Elite Eight, and Kansas fans must be quite happy about it.

 

We have two teams that have found a new gear in their engine at the most opportune time.  VCU was not even supposed to be in this tournament after failing to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.  Instead, the Rams just became the first team to win three NCAA Tournament games in less than a week since Texas Western in 1966.  Texas Western went on to upset Kentucky and win the National Championship.  VCU is not Texas Western.  That TWU (Now UTEP) team was rated in the top five in the nation.

 

Florida State has not been to the Final Four since Hugh Durham took the Seminoles to the 1972 National Title game.  This team is not in that FSU team’s league.

 

So, what do we have here?  Florida State is a team that in most years would have been fortunate to win one game.  VCU is a team that in most years would probably be playing this week for a trip to Madison Square Garden and the NIT semi-finals.

 

VCU has a negative PiRate Criteria score, but it is moving close to zero.  Still, we cannot recall a negative criteria score making it to the Elite Eight.

 

Note: Both FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton and VCU Coach Shaka Smart are being mentioned as possible candidates for the vacant Tennessee job.

 

Prediction: Florida State 65  Virginia Commonwealth 60

 

Coming Saturday Morning: We will preview the Southeast and West Regional Final games.

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.

April 5, 2009

A PiRate Look At The 2009 NCAA Basketball Championship Game

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Final Four

The National Championship Game

 April 6, 2009

Ford Field: Detroit

Tip Time: 9:21 PM EDT

 

Michigan State (31-6) vs. North Carolina (33-4)

 

Note: Team info courtesy of the two schools’ official athletic websites

 

Michigan State Spartans

 

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Year Hometown/High School

00

Ibok, Idong 6-11 260 C RS SR Lagos, Nigeria/Montverde (Fla.) Academy

1

Lucas, Kalin 6-0 180 G SO Sterling Heights, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

2

Morgan, Raymar 6-8 225 F JR Canton, Ohio/McKinley

3

Allen, Chris 6-3 205 G SO Lawrenceville, Ga./Meadowcreek

5

Walton, Travis 6-2 190 G SR Lima, Ohio/Lima Senior

10

Roe, Delvon 6-8 225 F FR Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward

13

Thornton, Austin 6-5 210 G RS FR Sand Lake, Mich./Cedar Springs

14

Suton, Goran 6-10 245 C RS SR Lansing, Mich./Everett

15

Summers, Durrell 6-4 195 G SO Detroit, Mich./Redford Covenant Christian

20

Kebler, Mike 6-4 200 G SO Okemos, Mich./Okemos

22

Dahlman, Isaiah 6-6 200 G JR Braham, Minn./Braham Area

23

Green, Draymond 6-6 235 F FR Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw

25

Crandell, Jon 6-8 225 F JR Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams

34

Lucious, Korie 5-11 170 G FR Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI

40

Herzog, Tom 7-0 240 C RS SO Flint, Mich./Powers

41

Gray, Marquise 6-8 235 F RS SR Flint, Mich./Beecher

 

   
Coaches  
   
Tom Izzo – Head Coach
Mark Montgomery – Associate Head Coach
Dwayne Stephens – Assistant Coach
Mike Garland – Assistant Coach
Jordan Ott – Video Coordinator
Richard Bader – Director of Basketball Operations

 

 
                                     

                               2008-09 Michigan State Basketball

                  Michigan State Combined Team Statistics (as of Apr 05, 2009)

                                           All games

 

 

 RECORD:                OVERALL      HOME        AWAY       NEUTRAL

 ALL GAMES………..   (31-6)      (12-2)      (9-1)       (10-3)

 CONFERENCE……….   (15-3)      (7-2)       (8-1)       (0-0)

 NON-CONFERENCE……   (16-3)      (5-0)       (1-0)       (10-3)

 

 

   DATE            OPPONENT                       W/L    SCORE  ATTEND

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

   11/16/08        IDAHO                          W     100-62   14759

   11/19/08     at IPFW                           W      70-59    6704

   11/27/08     vs Maryland                         L    62-80    4464

   11/28/08     vs Oklahoma State                 W      94-79    4658

   11/30/08     vs Wichita State                  W      65-57    3768

   12/03/08     vs North Carolina                   L    63-98   25267

   12/07/08        BRADLEY                        W      75-59   14759

   12/13/08        ALCORN STATE                   W     118-60   14759

   12/17/08        THE CITADEL                    W      79-65   14759

   12/20/08     vs Texas                          W      67-63   17074

  @12/27/08     vs Oakland University             W      82-66   15361

  *12/31/08     at Minnesota                      W      70-58   14625

  *1/3/09       at Northwestern                   W      77-66    8117

  *01/06/09        OHIO STATE                     W      67-58   14759

   01/10/09        KANSAS                         W      75-62   14759

  *1/14/09      at Penn State                     W      78-73   10270

  *1/17/09         ILLINOIS                       W      63-57   14759

  *1/21/09         NORTHWESTERN                     L    63-70   14759

  *01/25/09     at Ohio State                     W      78-67   18767

  *01/29/09     at Iowa Hawkeyes                  W      71-56   13640

  *02/01/09        PENN STATE                       L    68-72   14759

  *2/4/09          MINNESOTA                      W      76-47   14759

  *2/7/09          INDIANA                        W      75-47   14759

  *02/10/09     at Michigan                       W      54-42   13751

  *02/17/09     at Purdue                           L    54-72   14123

  *02/22/09        WISCONSIN                      W      61-50   14759

  *02/25/09        IOWA HAWKEYES                  W      62-54   14759

  *03/01/09     at Illinois                       W      74-66   16618

  *3-3-09       at Indiana                        W      64-59   15006

  *03/08/09        PURDUE                         W      62-51   14759

   3-13-09      vs Minnesota                      W      64-56   13023

   3-14-09      vs Ohio State                       L    70-82   15728

   03/20/09     vs Robert Morris                  W      77-62   12814

   03/22/09     vs Southern Cal                   W      74-69   14279

   3/27/09      vs Kansas                         W      67-62   33780

   3/29/09      vs Louisville                     W      64-52   36084

   4/4/09       vs Connecticut                    W      82-73   72456

 * = Conference game

 

 

 

 ## SUMMARY              GP-GS   Min   FG%  3PT%   FT%  R/G  A/G STL BLK PTS/G

 —————————————————————————–

 01 Lucas, Kalin…….. 37-36  31.8  .397  .394  .810  2.2  4.6  39   6  14.7

 02 Morgan, Raymar…… 34-25  22.6  .526  .238  .654  5.4  1.2  23   7  10.4

 14 Suton, Goran…….. 31-28  26.6  .513  .409  .848  8.3  1.6  36  14  10.2

 03 Allen, Chris…….. 37-5   19.1  .371  .325  .800  2.3  1.3  14   0   8.5

 15 Summers, Durrell…. 37-13  21.4  .436  .387  .719  3.4  0.8  25  12   8.5

 10 Roe, Delvon……… 37-30  18.0  .563  .000  .459  5.1  0.9  16  28   5.7

 05 Walton, Travis…… 37-36  27.9  .415  .600  .578  2.3  3.4  56   1   5.2

 41 Gray, Marquise…… 37-5    9.7  .584  .000  .674  2.9  0.3   4  12   3.2

 23 Green, Draymond….. 36-0   11.4  .544  .000  .617  3.2  0.9  20   9   3.2

 34 Lucious, Korie…… 37-1    8.9  .376  .351  .667  0.9  1.3  10   2   3.1

 13 Thornton, Austin…. 26-0    3.7  .375  .235  .750  0.7  0.3   4   0   1.2

 00 Ibok, Idong……… 27-5    6.1  .375  .000  .667  0.9  0.2   0   7   0.4

 40 Herzog, Tom……… 15-1    2.1  .600  .000  .571  0.7  0.1   0   4   0.7

 22 Dahlman, Isaiah….. 15-0    1.8  .500  .333  .250  0.6  0.0   0   0   0.7

 25 Crandell, Jon…….  9-0    1.1 1.000  .000 1.000  0.0  0.0   0   0   0.4

 20 Kebler, Mike……..  8-0    1.3  .500  .000 1.000  0.3  0.1   0   0   0.5

 TM Team……………. 37-0    0.0  .000  .000  .000  3.2  0.0   0   0   0.0

    Total…………… 37           .452  .357  .697 38.9 16.2 247 102  72.0

    Opponents……….. 37           .414  .316  .696 29.5 11.5 220 131  63.0

 

 SCORING              GP   FG-FGA   FG%  3FG-FGA  3PT%   FT-FTA   FT%   PTS PTS/G

 ——————————————————————————–

 Lucas, Kalin…….. 37  169-426  .397   41-104  .394  166-205  .810   545 14.7

 Morgan, Raymar…… 34  131-249  .526    5-21   .238   87-133  .654   354 10.4

 Suton, Goran…….. 31  116-226  .513   18-44   .409   67-79   .848   317 10.2

 Allen, Chris…….. 37  104-280  .371   52-160  .325   56-70   .800   316  8.5

 Summers, Durrell…. 37  112-257  .436   43-111  .387   46-64   .719   313  8.5

 Roe, Delvon……… 37   80-142  .563    0-0    .000   51-111  .459   211  5.7

 Walton, Travis…… 37   81-195  .415    3-5    .600   26-45   .578   191  5.2

 Gray, Marquise…… 37   45-77   .584    0-0    .000   29-43   .674   119  3.2

 Green, Draymond….. 36   43-79   .544    0-1    .000   29-47   .617   115  3.2

 Lucious, Korie…… 37   38-101  .376   27-77   .351   12-18   .667   115  3.1

 Thornton, Austin…. 26    9-24   .375    4-17   .235    9-12   .750    31  1.2

 Ibok, Idong……… 27    3-8    .375    0-0    .000    4-6    .667    10  0.4

 Herzog, Tom……… 15    3-5    .600    0-0    .000    4-7    .571    10  0.7

 Dahlman, Isaiah….. 15    4-8    .500    1-3    .333    1-4    .250    10  0.7

 Crandell, Jon…….  9    1-1   1.000    0-0    .000    2-2   1.000     4  0.4

 Kebler, Mike……..  8    1-2    .500    0-1    .000    2-2   1.000     4  0.5

 Total…………… 37  940-2080 .452  194-544  .357  591-848  .697  2665 72.0

 Opponents……….. 37  811-1957 .414  224-708  .316  485-697  .696  2331 63.0

 

                                   REBOUNDS

 TOTALS               GP   MIN  OFF  DEF  TOT   PF  FO    A   TO  A/TO  HI

 ————————————————————————-

 Lucas, Kalin…….. 37  1178   26   54   80   47   0  169   78   2.2  24

 Morgan, Raymar…… 34   768   62  121  183   85   2   41   61   0.7  29

 Suton, Goran…….. 31   824   91  167  258   78   1   50   55   0.9  20

 Allen, Chris…….. 37   706   27   57   84   62   0   47   50   0.9  21

 Summers, Durrell…. 37   791   49   75  124   57   0   28   53   0.5  26

 Roe, Delvon……… 37   665   76  113  189   80   1   35   41   0.9  16

 Walton, Travis…… 37  1031   24   60   84   94   1  124   48   2.6  18

 Gray, Marquise…… 37   358   38   69  107   57   0   12   35   0.3  12

 Green, Draymond….. 36   410   37   78  115   63   2   31   22   1.4  16

 Lucious, Korie…… 37   330    4   28   32   36   1   47   40   1.2  16

 Thornton, Austin…. 26    97    4   14   18   14   0    7    6   1.2   9

 Ibok, Idong……… 27   164    9   15   24   28   0    5   13   0.4   2

 Herzog, Tom……… 15    31    3    8   11    3   0    1    0  99.0   5

 Dahlman, Isaiah….. 15    27    3    6    9    1   0    0    0   0.0   6

 Crandell, Jon…….  9    10    0    0    0    0   0    0    0   0.0   2

 Kebler, Mike……..  8    10    1    1    2    0   0    1    0  99.0   2

 Total…………… 37  7400  520  920 1440  706   8  598  511   1.2 118

 Opponents……….. 37  7400  342  751 1093  734   –  427  508   0.8  98

 

 

 TEAM STATISTICS                   MSU          OPP

 ————————————————–

 SCORING……………..         2665         2331

   Points per game…….         72.0         63.0

   Scoring margin……..         +9.0            –

 FIELD GOALS-ATT………     940-2080     811-1957

   Field goal pct……..         .452         .414

 3 POINT FG-ATT……….      194-544      224-708

   3-point FG pct……..         .357         .316

   3-pt FG made per game.          5.2          6.1

 FREE THROWS-ATT………      591-848      485-697

   Free throw pct……..         .697         .696

   F-Throws made per game         16.0         13.1

 REBOUNDS…………….         1440         1093

   Rebounds per game…..         38.9         29.5

   Rebounding margin…..         +9.4            –

 ASSISTS……………..          598          427

   Assists per game……         16.2         11.5

 TURNOVERS……………          511          508

   Turnovers per game….         13.8         13.7

   Turnover margin…….         -0.1            –

   Assist/turnover ratio.          1.2          0.8

 STEALS………………          247          220

   Steals per game…….          6.7          5.9

 BLOCKS………………          102          131

   Blocks per game…….          2.8          3.5

 ATTENDANCE…………..       206626       400377

   Home games-Avg/Game…     14-14759     10-13162

   Neutral site-Avg/Game.            –     13-20674

 

 SCORE BY PERIODS:           1st  2nd    Total

 ————————-  —- —-     —-

 Michigan State………..  1290 1375  –  2665

 Opponents…………….  1096 1235  –  2331

 

 

 

North Carolina Tar Heels

 

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown (High School)

1

Marcus Ginyard 6-5 220 G/F SR Alexandria, Va. (Bishop O’Connell)

2

Marc Campbell 5-11 175 G JR Wilmington, N.C. (Ravenscroft)

4

Bobby Frasor 6-3 210 G SR Blue Island, Ill. (Brother Rice)

5

Ty Lawson 5-11 195 G JR Clinton, Md. (Oak Hill Academy (Va.))

11

Larry Drew II 6-1 180 G FR Encino, Calif. (Woodland Hills Taft)

13

Will Graves 6-6 245 F/G SO Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley)

14

Danny Green 6-6 210 F/G SR North Babylon, N.Y. (St. Mary’s)

15

J.B. Tanner 6-0 185 G SR Hendersonville, N.C. (West Henderson)

21

Deon Thompson 6-8 245 F JR Torrance, Calif. (Torrance)

22

Wayne Ellington 6-4 200 G JR Wynnewood, Pa. (The Episcopal Academy)

24

Justin Watts 6-4 205 G FR Durham, N.C. (Jordan)

30

Jack Wooten 6-2 190 G SR Burlington, N.C. (Williams)

32

Ed Davis 6-10 215 F FR Richmond, Va. (Benedictine)

35

Patrick Moody 6-4 195 F SR Asheville, N.C. (T.C. Roberson)

40

Mike Copeland 6-7 235 F SR Winston-Salem, N.C. (R.J. Reynolds)

44

Tyler Zeller 7-0 220 F FR Washington, Ind. (Washington)

50

Tyler Hansbrough 6-9 250 F SR Poplar Bluff, Mo. (Poplar Bluff)

 

 
Coaching Staff
 
Roy Williams – Head Coach
Joe Holladay – Assistant Coach
Steve Robinson – Assistant Coach
C.B. McGrath – Assistant Coach
Jerod Haase – Director of Basketball Operations
Chris Hirth – Head Athletic Trainer
Eric Hoots – Video Coordinator
Jonas Sahratian – Strength & Conditioning Coordinator

 

 

North Carolina Season Schedule/Results & Leaders (as of Apr 05, 2009)

 

North Carolina Combined Team Statistics (as of Apr 05, 2009)

                                           All games

 

 

 RECORD:                OVERALL      HOME        AWAY       NEUTRAL

 ALL GAMES………..   (33-4)      (14-1)      (8-2)       (11-1)

 CONFERENCE……….   (13-3)      (7-1)       (6-2)       (0-0)

 NON-CONFERENCE……   (20-1)      (7-0)       (2-0)       (11-1)

 

 

   DATE            OPPONENT                       W/L    SCORE  ATTEND

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

   11/15/08        PENN                           W      86-71   19623

   11/18/08        KENTUCKY                       W      77-58   21538

   11/21/08     at UC Santa Barbara               W      84-67    6000

   11-24-08     vs CHAMINADE                      W     115-70    2500

   11-25-08     vs Oregon                         W      98-69    2500

   11-26-08     vs Notre Dame                     W     102-87    2500

   11/30/08        UNC ASHEVILLE                  W     116-48   18054

   12/03/08     vs Michigan State                 W      98-63   25267

   12/13/08        ORAL ROBERTS                   W     100-84   21269

   12/18/08        EVANSVILLE                     W      91-73   21291

   12/20/08     vs VALPO                          W      85-63   10645

   12/28/08        RUTGERS                        W      97-75   21750

   12-31-08     at Nevada                         W      84-61   10526

  *01/04/09        BOSTON COLLEGE                   L    78-85   21750

   01/07/09        COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON          W     108-70   20543

  *01/11/09     at Wake Forest                      L    89-92   14714

  *01/15/09     at Virginia                       W      83-61   13811

  *01/17/09        MIAMI                          W      82-65   21750

  *01/21/09        CLEMSON                        W      94-70   21750

  *01/28/09     at Florida State                  W      80-77   11333

  *01/31/09     at NC State                       W      93-76   19700

  *02/03/09        MARYLAND                       W     108-91   20863

  *02/07/09        VIRGINIA                       W      76-61   20879

  *2/11/09      at Duke                           W     101-87    9314

  *2/15/09      at Miami                          W      69-65    7200

  *02/18/09        NC STATE                       W      89-80   21750

  *02/21/09     at Maryland                         LOT  85-88   17950

  *02/28/09        GEORGIA TECH                   W     104-74   20959

  *03/04/09     at Virginia Tech                  W      86-78    9847

  *03/08/09        DUKE                           W      79-71   21750

   3/13/09      vs Virginia Tech                  W      79-76   26352

   3/14/09      vs Florida State                    L    70-73   26352

   03/19/09     vs Radford                        W     101-58   20226

   03/21/09     vs LSU                            W      84-70   22479

   3/27/09      vs Gonzaga                        W      98-77   17103

   3/29/09      vs Oklahoma                       W      72-60   17025

   4/4/09       vs Villanova                      W      83-69   72456

 

 

 

 ## SUMMARY              GP-GS   Min   FG%  3PT%   FT%  R/G  A/G STL BLK PTS/G

 —————————————————————————–

 50 Tyler Hansbrough…. 33-33  30.2  .517  .429  .850  8.2  1.0  42  12  20.8

 05 Lawson, Ty………. 34-34  29.7  .539  .486  .795  2.9  6.6  67   5  16.5

 22 Wayne Ellington….. 37-36  30.3  .480  .408  .773  4.9  2.7  36   6  15.8

 14 Danny Green……… 37-37  27.5  .470  .414  .852  4.7  2.7  66  51  13.3

 21 Deon Thompson……. 37-36  24.9  .495  .000  .642  5.8  0.7  35  40  10.6

 32 Ed Davis………… 37-2   19.0  .511  .000  .587  6.5  0.6  14  65   6.5

 13 Will Graves……… 20-0   11.2  .437  .278  .889  2.6  0.8   7   2   4.0

 44 Tyler Zeller…….. 14-2    8.3  .472  .000  .800  2.1  0.2   3   3   3.3

 04 Frasor, Bobby……. 37-4   17.3  .330  .278  .462  2.0  1.4  22   5   2.6

 11 Larry Drew II……. 37-0    9.7  .357  .231  .412  1.1  2.0  15   1   1.4

 01 Ginyard, Marcus…..  3-0   12.3  .250  .000  .500  2.7  1.3   2   0   1.3

 15 J.B. Tanner……… 20-0    2.2  .421  .357  .333  0.4  0.1   1   0   1.2

 35 Patrick Moody……. 20-0    2.2  .583  .000  .615  0.8  0.0   2   3   1.1

 40 Mike Copeland……. 16-1    2.6  .250  .000 1.000  0.8  0.1   0   0   0.8

 24 Justin Watts…….. 26-0    3.2  .226  .000  .429  0.7  0.2   2   3   0.7

 30 Jack Wooten……… 19-0    1.9  .364  .200  .250  0.3  0.1   0   0   0.5

 02 Campbell, Marc…… 19-0    1.9  .500  .000 1.000  0.2  0.5   2   0   0.2

 TM TEAM……………. 37-0    0.0  .000  .000  .000  3.1  0.0   0   0   0.0

    Total…………… 37           .481  .387  .754 42.2 18.2 316 196  89.8

    Opponents……….. 37           .411  .338  .692 35.5 13.6 265 162  72.0

 

 SCORING              GP   FG-FGA   FG%  3FG-FGA  3PT%   FT-FTA   FT%   PTS PTS/G

 ——————————————————————————–

 Tyler Hansbrough…. 33  217-420  .517    9-21   .429  243-286  .850   686 20.8

 Lawson, Ty………. 34  179-332  .539   51-105  .486  151-190  .795   560 16.5

 Wayne Ellington….. 37  208-433  .480   82-201  .408   85-110  .773   583 15.8

 Danny Green……… 37  182-387  .470   75-181  .414   52-61   .852   491 13.3

 Deon Thompson……. 37  161-325  .495    0-0    .000   70-109  .642   392 10.6

 Ed Davis………… 37   94-184  .511    0-0    .000   54-92   .587   242  6.5

 Will Graves……… 20   31-71   .437   10-36   .278    8-9    .889    80  4.0

 Tyler Zeller…….. 14   17-36   .472    0-0    .000   12-15   .800    46  3.3

 Frasor, Bobby……. 37   36-109  .330   20-72   .278    6-13   .462    98  2.6

 Larry Drew II……. 37   20-56   .357    6-26   .231    7-17   .412    53  1.4

 Ginyard, Marcus…..  3    1-4    .250    0-0    .000    2-4    .500     4  1.3

 J.B. Tanner……… 20    8-19   .421    5-14   .357    2-6    .333    23  1.2

 Patrick Moody……. 20    7-12   .583    0-0    .000    8-13   .615    22  1.1

 Mike Copeland……. 16    4-16   .250    0-2    .000    5-5   1.000    13  0.8

 Justin Watts…….. 26    7-31   .226    0-6    .000    3-7    .429    17  0.7

 Jack Wooten……… 19    4-11   .364    1-5    .200    1-4    .250    10  0.5

 Campbell, Marc…… 19    1-2    .500    0-1    .000    2-2   1.000     4  0.2

 Total…………… 37 1177-2448 .481  259-670  .387  711-943  .754  3324 89.8

 Opponents……….. 37  991-2413 .411  267-791  .338  414-598  .692  2663 72.0

 

                                   REBOUNDS

 TOTALS               GP   MIN  OFF  DEF  TOT   PF  FO    A   TO  A/TO  HI

 ————————————————————————-

 Tyler Hansbrough…. 33   995  102  167  269   74   1   32   61   0.5  34

 Lawson, Ty………. 34  1011   23   77  100   59   0  224   65   3.4  25

 Wayne Ellington….. 37  1120   55  127  182   55   0  101   62   1.6  34

 Danny Green……… 37  1016   68  107  175   79   2  100   61   1.6  26

 Deon Thompson……. 37   920   70  143  213   81   1   26   46   0.6  22

 Ed Davis………… 37   702   81  161  242   70   1   22   40   0.6  15

 Will Graves……… 20   224   22   29   51   32   0   15   23   0.7  10

 Tyler Zeller…….. 14   116   11   18   29   19   0    3    8   0.4  18

 Frasor, Bobby……. 37   639   22   52   74   49   0   53   26   2.0   9

 Larry Drew II……. 37   360    5   36   41   36   0   74   45   1.6   5

 Ginyard, Marcus…..  3    37    6    2    8    5   0    4    3   1.3   3

 J.B. Tanner……… 20    44    2    5    7    4   0    1    1   1.0   9

 Patrick Moody……. 20    43    4   11   15    7   0    0    3   0.0   6

 Mike Copeland……. 16    41    4    9   13    8   0    1    2   0.5   5

 Justin Watts…….. 26    84    6   13   19    6   0    5    9   0.6   9

 Jack Wooten……… 19    37    0    5    5    1   0    2    2   1.0   4

 Campbell, Marc…… 19    36    1    3    4    2   0    9    7   1.3   2

 Total…………… 37  7425  545 1017 1562  587   5  672  465   1.4 116

 Opponents……….. 37  7425  481  834 1315  757   –  505  584   0.9  92

 

 

 TEAM STATISTICS                    NC          OPP

 ————————————————–

 SCORING……………..         3324         2663

   Points per game…….         89.8         72.0

   Scoring margin……..        +17.9            –

 FIELD GOALS-ATT………    1177-2448     991-2413

   Field goal pct……..         .481         .411

 3 POINT FG-ATT……….      259-670      267-791

   3-point FG pct……..         .387         .338

   3-pt FG made per game.          7.0          7.2

 FREE THROWS-ATT………      711-943      414-598

   Free throw pct……..         .754         .692

   F-Throws made per game         19.2         11.2

 REBOUNDS…………….         1562         1315

   Rebounds per game…..         42.2         35.5

   Rebounding margin…..         +6.7            –

 ASSISTS……………..          672          505

   Assists per game……         18.2         13.6

 TURNOVERS……………          465          584

   Turnovers per game….         12.6         15.8

   Turnover margin…….         +3.2            –

   Assist/turnover ratio.          1.4          0.9

 STEALS………………          316          265

   Steals per game…….          8.5          7.2

 BLOCKS………………          196          162

   Blocks per game…….          5.3          4.4

 ATTENDANCE…………..       315519       365800

   Home games-Avg/Game…     15-21035     10-12040

   Neutral site-Avg/Game.            –     12-20450

 

 SCORE BY PERIODS:           1st  2nd   OT    Total

 ————————-  —- —- —-     —-

 North Carolina………..  1646 1669    9  –  3324

 Opponents…………….  1259 1392   12  –  2663

 

 

Player Matchups

Point Guard

Michigan State: Kalin Lucas

North Carolina: Ty Lawson

 

Lawson is the best point guard in the nation, but Lucas isn’t totally outmanned in this matchup.  Lucas is probably one of the top five point guards in the nation.

 

Lawson’s advantage here is small.  Expect a great matchup at this most important position.

 

Shooting Guard

Michigan State: Travis Walton

North Carolina: Wayne Ellington

 

Walton is the best defensive player from the Big 10, but stopping Ellington will not beat North Carolina.  Ellington may be held under 10 points, but North Carolina can win nine times out of ten when he scores in single digits.

 

We’ll give another slight advantage to North Carolina

 

Small Forward

Michigan State: Raymar Morgan

North Carolina: Danny Green

 

If Morgan plays as well as he did Saturday, then he should outpace Green.  Green is at a size disadvantage against Morgan, and Morgan has the speed and quickness to stay with Green all night.

 

We give Michigan State the advantage.

 

Power Forward

Michigan State: Delvin Roe

North Carolina: Deon Thompson

 

This will be an interesting matchup.  Thompson has the better moves around the basket, but Roe has the better power game.  It will be a study in contrasts. 

 

If North Carolina gets their offense running and gunning, Roe will have a tough time contributing on the defensive board.

 

An ever so slight advantage goes to Michigan State here.

 

Center

Michigan State: Goran Suton

North Carolina: Tyler Hansbrough

 

There haven’t been many classic matchups between two future NBA centers and major contributors in the NCAA Championship Game’s last 30 years (such as Rick Robey vs. Mike Gmisnki in 1978, Sam Perkins vs. Patrick Ewing in 1982, and Ewing vs. Akeem Olajuwon in 1984).  This one looks like one of those few exceptions.

 

We believe that Suton will slow Hansbrough inside and force him to take several shots from outside his comfort zone.  Meanwhile, Suton will try to force Hansbrough to guard some from outside the low post area.

 

Hansbrough’s advantage is not that large.  Suton missed the first game between these two teams, so his presence will mean a major turnaround from the earlier game.

 

Bench Play

Michigan State

Chris Allen

Durrell Summers

Marquise Gray

Draymond Green

 

North Carolina

Ed Davis

Bobby Frasor

Larry Drew, Jr.

 

If Davis and Frasor have good games, this could be enough to throw the game in North Carolina’s favor.  It’s not that these two guys will have to dominate to tilt the game, it’s that they will allow the Tar Heels to either make a run or play more consistently

 

Michigan State has a numbers’ advantage, but with the extra length of TV timeouts, this game will not require subs entering games.

 

A small advantage goes to North Carolina

 

PiRate Criteria see articles from the week of March 16-18 for explanation of this statistical formula

 

North Carolina had the second best criteria score of the 65 teams in the field, so the Tar Heels were selected to make it all the way to the last game.

 

Michigan State did not qualify as a superior team, but the Spartans have home court advantage of about three points.  Combined with a criteria score of seven, it gives them an opportunity to be there at the end with a chance to win.

 

The strengths of schedule are nearly equal, as Michigan State gets one additional point here.

 

Prediction

We believe this game will be close and the lead will never be all that large for either team.  Michigan State will desire to make this a lower possession game, while North Carolina will try to make it a game of race horse basketball.  The Spartans will crash the offensive glass, and that will limit the Tar Heels’ fast breaking opportunities.

 

When all is said and done, North Carolina has too many weapons to ever pick against them. 

 

North Carolina 74 Michigan State 69

April 4, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Final Four: Semifinal Round–April 4, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Final Four

The Semifinals

 April 4, 2009

 

Ford Field: Detroit

 

Many basketball purists believe that the NCAA Tournament Semifinal is the top ticket in all of sports.  While we would argue that any ticket to a Green Bay Packers game would top it, this is the only time the top four teams in any sport meet on the same court back-to-back.

 

At Detroit’s Ford Field Saturday, there’s a good chance that the teams in the home uniforms will win more games in four hours than the regular tenant of the building won all season.  We know that’s a stab at the division rival Lions, but we had to do it.

 

For what it’s worth, our record through the first four rounds is 45-15.

 

Here is a guide for the two semifinal games.  We hope you have fun.

 

Note: Team info courtesy of the four schools’ official athletic websites

 

Game 1

Connecticut Huskies (31-4) vs. Michigan State Spartans (30-6)

Tip Time: 6:07 PM EDT

 

Rosters

 

Connecticut Huskies

 

NO NAME HT/WT POSITION YR/CLASS HOMETOWN

4

Adrien, Jeff 6-7/243 Forward SR Brookline, Mass.

24

Austrie, Craig 6-3/176 Guard SR Stamford, Conn.

55

Bailey, Kyle 6-3/170 Guard SO Lancaster, N.H.

2

Beverly, Donnell 6-4/190 Guard SO Hawthorne, Calif.

10

Bird, Johnnie 6-0/165 Guard SR Fort Bragg, N.C.

11

Dyson, Jerome 6-3/180 Guard JR Rockville, Md.

33

Edwards, Gavin 6-9/230 Forward/Center JR Gilbert, Ariz.

30

Haralson, Scottie 6-4/215 Guard FR Jackson, Miss.

13

Hornat, Alex 6-5/205 Forward JR South Windsor, Conn.

45

Lindner, John 6-5/265 Forward SR Cheshire, Conn.

32

Mandeldove, Jonathan 6-11/220 Center JR Stone Mountain, Ga.

35

Okwandu, Charles 7-1/255 Center SO Lagos, Nigeria

12

Price, A.J. 6-2/190 Guard SR Amityville, N.Y.

21

Robinson, Stanley 6-9/220 Forward SO Birmingham, Ala.

34

Thabeet, Hasheem 7-3/265 Center JR Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

40

Veronick, Jim 6-8/200 Forward SR Durham, Conn.

15

Walker, Kemba 6-1/172 Guard FR Bronx, N.Y.

 

 
Coaches
 
Jim Calhoun – Head Coach
George Blaney – Assistant Coach
Andre LaFleur – Assistant Coach
Patrick Sellers – Assistant Coach
Beau Archibald – Director of Operations

 

 

 

Michigan State Spartans

 

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Year Hometown/High School

00

Ibok, Idong 6-11 260 C RS SR Lagos, Nigeria/Montverde (Fla.) Academy

1

Lucas, Kalin 6-0 180 G SO Sterling Heights, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

2

Morgan, Raymar 6-8 225 F JR Canton, Ohio/McKinley

3

Allen, Chris 6-3 205 G SO Lawrenceville, Ga./Meadowcreek

5

Walton, Travis 6-2 190 G SR Lima, Ohio/Lima Senior

10

Roe, Delvon 6-8 225 F FR Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward

13

Thornton, Austin 6-5 210 G RS FR Sand Lake, Mich./Cedar Springs

14

Suton, Goran 6-10 245 C RS SR Lansing, Mich./Everett

15

Summers, Durrell 6-4 195 G SO Detroit, Mich./Redford Covenant Christian

20

Kebler, Mike 6-4 200 G SO Okemos, Mich./Okemos

22

Dahlman, Isaiah 6-6 200 G JR Braham, Minn./Braham Area

23

Green, Draymond 6-6 235 F FR Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw

25

Crandell, Jon 6-8 225 F JR Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams

34

Lucious, Korie 5-11 170 G FR Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI

40

Herzog, Tom 7-0 240 C RS SO Flint, Mich./Powers

41

Gray, Marquise 6-8 235 F RS SR Flint, Mich./Beecher

 

 
Coaches
 
Tom Izzo – Head Coach
Mark Montgomery – Associate Head Coach
Dwayne Stephens – Assistant Coach
Mike Garland – Assistant Coach
Jordan Ott – Video Coordinator
Richard Bader – Director of Basketball Operations
 

 

 

 

 

Player Matchups

 

Ppg=points per game, rpg=rebounds per game, bpg=blocks per game, apg=assists per game, spg=steals per game, fg%=field goal percentage, 3pt= 3-point percentage, ft%=free throw percentage, mpg=minutes per game

 

Point Guard

Connecticut: A.J. Price (6-2, 190 Sr.)-14.7 ppg/3.4 rpg/40.3% 3pt/71.2% ft/4.8 apg

 

Michigan State: Kalin Lucas (6-0, 180 So.)-14.6 ppg/2.2 rpg/38.8% 3pt/81.4% ft/4.6 apg

 

This position is the reason why both teams made it this far.  Both players are 4-star leaders.  Their stats are similar, but the differences are Price’s experience and the fact that he compiled these stats in addition to leading the Huskies while Lucas is more of the go-to guy.

 

We give a slight advantage to UConn here.

 

Shooting Guard

Connecticut: Craig Austrie (6-3, 176 Sr.)-7.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 80.5% ft, 2.3 apg

 

Michigan State: Travis Walton (6-2, 190 Sr.)-5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg

 

While Walton is one of the top defensive guards in the nation, stopping Austrie won’t shut the Huskie offense down.  He should be able to supply extra help defense though, and that should make up for his inability to shoot from outside or at the foul line.

 

Austrie has had some hot nights, but that isn’t required of him for his team to make it to Monday night.

                                                                 

We’ll give an ever so slight advantage to MSU.

 

Small Forward

Connecticut: Stanley Robinson (6-9, 220 So.)-8.2 ppg/5.7 rpg/49.5% fg

 

Michigan State: Delvin Roe (6-8, 225 Fr.)-5.8 ppg/5.0 rpg/56.5% fg

 

This is a tough one to figure out.  Neither player plays consistently.  If both play a good game, it will be close to a wash.  Roe cannot hit the broad side of a barn from the foul line, but Robinson is basically an in-close shooter with no real range.

 

We’re going to call this one a stand-off but with high deviation.  Either player could have a big game or disappear.

 

Power Forward

Connecticut: Jeff Adrien (6-7, 243 Sr.)-13.7 ppg/10.0 rpg/50.5% fg/1.1 bpg

 

Michigan State: Raymar Morgan (6-8, 225 Jr.)-10.2 ppg/5.3 rpg/52.5% fg/1.2 apg

 

Morgan has not had a great game in March.  He is not a great defender nor a dominant rebounder for his position.

 

Adrien plays much like Wes Unseld used to play.  He stops the opponent in the hot shooting area, and he punishes any opponent who dares try to rebound the ball in his area. 

 

We’ll give UConn a hefty advantage here.

 

Center

Connecticut: Hasheem Thabeet (7-3, 265 Jr.)-13.5 ppg/10.9 rpg/4.3 bpg/64.9% fg

 

Michigan State: Goran Suton (6-10, 245 Sr.)-10.4 ppg/8.4 rpg/51.6% fg/

 

Both players are prone to getting into foul trouble, but Thabeet is the more likely to foul out of a game.  Thabeet is a Bill Russell type player.  Unless another Wilt Chamberlain is opposing him, he is going to dominate the inside-as long as he is in the game and not sitting on the bench with foul concerns.

 

Suton doesn’t have the flashy numbers of his adversary, but he is a workhorse inside and won’t back down to Thabeet even though he is giving away five inches.  Suton plays strong defense.

 

In a surprise, we’re going to call this one a wash.

 

Bench Play

Connecticut

Kemba Walker (6-1, 172 Fr. G)-9.0 ppg/3.5 rpg/74.6% ft/1.1 spg/2.9 apg/25 mpg

 

Gavin Edwards (6-9, 230 Jr. F/C)-3.9 ppg/2.9 rpg/63.3% fg/74.5% ft/12 mpg

 

Michigan State

Chris Allen (6-3, 205 So. G)-8.7 ppg/2.3 rpg/80.0% ft/19 mpg

 

Durrell Summers (6-4, 195 So. G)-8.4 ppg/3.3 rpg/21 mpg

 

Marquise Gray (6-8, 235 Sr. F)-3.3 ppg/2.9 rpg/58.7% fg/10 mpg

 

Draymond Green (6-6, 235 Fr. F)-3.1 ppg/3.2 rpg/53.3% fg/11 mpg

 

Connecticut basically goes just seven deep since Jerome Dyson was lost 24 games into the season.  The two bench players are better than any two bench players for the Spartans.  However, MSU has great depth.  The Spartans can wear down the best opponents and still have something in the tank at the end of games. 

 

Edwards may have to play serious minutes in the paint if Thabeet picks up too many early fouls.

 

We’ll call this a win-win comparison.  UConn has the better seven deep bench, but MSU has the better depth by far.  Overall, give a slight edge to the Spartans.

 

PiRate Criteria see articles from the week of March 16-18 for explanation of this statistical formula

 

Connecticut qualifies as one of the elite team with statistical data similar to many previous title holders.  Michigan State just barely fails to qualify with 7 total criteria points.  Of course, we must look at both strength of schedule and implied home court advantage.  MSU’s schedule was about two points per game stronger than UConn’s.  You can also add about three points home court advantage for the Spartans playing just over an hour away from campus.

 

Prediction

We are supposed to go with the criteria in virtually every game, and it would be hard to pick against Connecticut.  We think this is going to be a whale of a ball game.  Connecticut gives up just 37.6% shooting to opponents and blocks eight shots per game.

 

Michigan State gives up just 63 points per game and 41.4% shooting to opponents.  The Spartans are the dominant rebounding team in the land with an advantage of almost 10 per contest.  That advantage will be neutralized because UConn is just a hair behind at +9.2 per game. 

 

We expect the Huskies to stake themselves to the early lead and pad it a bit to the halfway point of the final period.  Then, the fatigue factor will begin to creep in.  At this point, Michigan State will mount a rally.  Connecticut will gain a second wind at the end and hold the Spartans at bay in the crucial time of this game.  Then, it will be up to the Huskies to hit their foul shots at the end of the game.  UConn hits 68% from the charity stripe.  It’s not great, but we believe Coach Jim Calhoun’s squad will advance to their third ever national title game.

 

Connecticut 67 Michigan State 63

 

 

Game 2

North Carolina Tar Heels (32-4) vs. Villanova Wildcats (30-7)

Tip Time: 30 minutes following the end of the

Connecticut-Michigan State Game

Approximately 8:47 PM EDT

 

Rosters

 

North Carolina Tar Heels

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown (High School)
1 Marcus Ginyard 6-5 220 G/F SR Alexandria, Va. (Bishop O’Connell)
2 Marc Campbell 5-11 175 G JR Wilmington, N.C. (Ravenscroft)
4 Bobby Frasor 6-3 210 G SR Blue Island, Ill. (Brother Rice)
5 Ty Lawson 5-11 195 G JR Clinton, Md. (Oak Hill Academy (Va.))
11 Larry Drew II 6-1 180 G FR Encino, Calif. (Woodland Hills Taft)
13 Will Graves 6-6 245 F/G SO Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley)
14 Danny Green 6-6 210 F/G SR North Babylon, N.Y. (St. Mary’s)
15 J.B. Tanner 6-0 185 G SR Hendersonville, N.C. (West Henderson)
21 Deon Thompson 6-8 245 F JR Torrance, Calif. (Torrance)
22 Wayne Ellington 6-4 200 G JR Wynnewood, Pa. (The Episcopal Academy)
24 Justin Watts 6-4 205 G FR Durham, N.C. (Jordan)
30 Jack Wooten 6-2 190 G SR Burlington, N.C. (Williams)
32 Ed Davis 6-10 215 F FR Richmond, Va. (Benedictine)
35 Patrick Moody 6-4 195 F SR Asheville, N.C. (T.C. Roberson)
40 Mike Copeland 6-7 235 F SR Winston-Salem, N.C. (R.J. Reynolds)
44 Tyler Zeller 7-0 220 F FR Washington, Ind. (Washington)
50 Tyler Hansbrough 6-9 250 F SR Poplar Bluff, Mo. (Poplar Bluff)

 

 
Coaching Staff
 
Roy Williams – Head Coach
Joe Holladay – Assistant Coach
Steve Robinson – Assistant Coach
C.B. McGrath – Assistant Coach
Jerod Haase – Director of Basketball Operations
Chris Hirth – Head Athletic Trainer
Eric Hoots – Video Coordinator
Jonas Sahratian – Strength & Conditioning Coordinator

 

 

Villanova Wildcats

 

No. Name Pos. Cl. (EXP) Ht. Wt. Hometown High School

0

Antonio Pena Forward RS SO (2L) 6-8 235 Brooklyn, N.Y. St. Thomas More

1

Scottie Reynolds Guard JR (2L) 6-2 190 Herndon, Va. Herndon

4

Jason Colenda Guard JR (1L)   205 Fairfax, Va. Bishop O’Connell

10

Corey Fisher Guard SO (1L) 6-1 200 Bronx, N.Y. St. Patrick’s (N.J.)

15

Reggie Redding Guard JR (2L) 6-5 205 Philadelphia, Pa. St. Joseph’s Prep

20

Shane Clark Forward SR (3L) 6-7 205 Philadelphia, Pa. Hargrave Military Academy

21

Maurice Sutton Forward/Center FR 6-11 215 Upper Marlboro, Md. Largo

22

Dwayne Anderson Guard/Forward SR (3L) 6-6 215 Silver Spring, Md. St. Thomas More

23

Russell Wooten Forward JR 6-4 210 Chula Vista, Calif. St. Augustine

24

Corey Stokes Guard SO (1L) 6-5 220 Bayonne, N.J. St. Benedict’s

31

Taylor King Forward RS FR 6-6 230 Huntington Beach, Cal. Santa Ana Mater Dei

33

Dante Cunningham Forward SR (3L) 6-8 230 Silver Spring, Md. Potomac

42

Frank Tchuisi Forward SR (3L) 6-8 215 Douala, Cameroon St. Benedict’s

 

 
Coaches

Jay Wright-Head Coach

Patrick Chambers-Associate Head Coach

Doug West-Assistant Coach

Jason Donnelly-Assistant Coach

Keith Urgo-Manager of Basketball Operations

Kyle Neptune-Administrative Intern

Jeff Pierce-Head Athletic Trainer

Lon Record-Strength Coach

 

Player Matchups

 

Point Guard

North Carolina: Ty Lawson (5-11, 195 Jr.)-16.3 ppg/2.8 rpg/54.2% fg/48.5% 3pt/81.5% ft/6.5 apg/2.0 spg

 

Villanova: Scottie Reynolds (6-2, 190 Jr.)-15.2 ppg/2.8 rpg/35.3% 3pt/81.7% ft/3.3 apg/1.6spg

 

What can’t Ty Lawson do?  He is the best outside shooter in the Final Four.  He can penetrate and either take it to the hoop or dish the rock for an easy shot.  He can play defense better than any other guard.  He can also shoot craps better than anybody on the Canadian-American border.

 

Reynolds is the reason VU made it this far.  It was his buzzer beater that knocked Pittsburgh out of the Dance.  He has a good offensive game, but he cannot handle Lawson.

 

North Carolina receives a huge advantage here.

 

Shooting Guard

North Carolina: Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200 Jr.)-15.6 ppg/4.8 rpg/48.0% fg/39.7% 3pt/77.8% ft/2.7 apg

 

Villanova: Reggie Redding (6-5, 205 Jr.)-6.9 ppg/5.0 rpg/70% ft/3.1 apg/1.2 spg

 

Ellington is a streaky outside shooter.  When his shot is falling, North Carolina cannot be defeated. 

 

Redding is VU’s defensive sparkplug who gives the Wildcats a fourth inside presence.  He had yet to meet an opponent as talented as Ellington though.

 

We give North Carolina the advantage here, but it is not strong.

 

Small Forward

North Carolina: Danny Green (6-6, 210 Sr.)-13.3 ppg/4.8 rpg/47.3% fg/41.5% 3pt/85.2% ft/2.8 apg/1.3 bpg/1.8 spg

 

Villanova: Dwayne Anderson (6-6, 215 Sr.)-9.1 ppg/2.8 rpg/46.0% fg/83.9% ft/1.4 apg/1.6 spg

 

Green can do a little of everything, but he isn’t a go-to player.  Anderson is similar to Green, just not as talented.

 

North Carolina has a small advantage here as well.

 

Power Forward

North Carolina: Deon Thompson (6-8, 245 Jr.)-10.7 ppg/5.8 rpg/49.8% fg/1.1 bpg/1.0 spg

 

Villanova: Dante Cunningham (6-8, 230 Sr.)-16.2 ppg/7.4 rpg/52.9% fg/1.2 apg/1.3 bpg/1.2 spg

 

Thompson is North Carolina’s least talented starter, but that is not a slap in his face.  He’s just not the star that the other four starters are.  There have been times when Thompson has come up with big plays.

 

Cunningham is Villanova’s key weapon.  As he goes, so go the Wildcats.  VU’s only chance at getting to Monday night’s game is for him to have a Danny Manning/Jack Givens moment.  We doubt that will happen, but he should have a good, if not great game.

 

Villanova has a decided edge here.

 

Center

North Carolina: Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, 250 Sr.)-20.9 ppg/8.1 rpg/52.1% fg/85.8% ft/1.2 spg

 

Villanova: Shane Clark (6-7, 205 Jr.)-5.6 ppg/3.8 rpg/48.0% fg

 

Clark is a hard-nosed defensive stopper, but he cannot stop his opponent.  The top relief pitcher in baseball couldn’t consistently keep Babe Ruth from hitting one into the seats, and that’s why it will take two or two and a half defenders to keep Hansbrough from beating Villanova.

 

Hansbrough is like a loyal employee who always shows up for work on time, always does his job as well as helping others, and never complains when he doesn’t get a raise.  He may not be the most naturally talented big man in Tar Heel lore (James Worthy-Sam Perkins-Tom Lagarde-Bob McAdoo, etc.)

 

North Carolina has a major advantage here.

 

Bench Play

North Carolina

Ed Davis (6-10, 215 Fr. F)-6.6 ppg/6.6 rpg/51.4% fg/1.8 bpg/19 mpg

 

Bobby Frasor (6-3, 210 Sr. G)-2.7 ppg/1.9 rpg/1.4 apg/17 mpg

 

Villanova

Corey Fisher (6-1, 200 So. G)-10.7 ppg/2.2 rpg/78.8% ft/2.8 apg/1.3 spg/24 mpg

 

Corey Stokes (6-5, 220 So. G)-9.5 ppg/3.4 rpg/84.8% ft/1.0 apg/23 mpg

 

Antonio Pena (6-8, 235 So. F)-5.3 ppg/4.2 rpg/48.5% fg/18 mpg

 

While neither team can go 10-deep, the reserves that do play are good enough to start for most teams.  In Villanova’s case, the two Coreys are really starters and not reserves.  They enter the game after the opening tip, but they play the bulk of the minutes at their positions.

 

North Carolina’s Davis is a future NBA player as soon as he can add some bulk.  Frasor is the type of pesty player who can stick the dagger in the opposing team with a well-timed trey after the defense has played competently for 25-30 seconds.

 

We’ll call this a wash.

 

PiRate Criteria

North Carolina had the second best criteria score of the 65 teams in the field, so the Tar Heels were selected to make it all the way to the last game.

 

Villanova has teetered on the brink of qualifying as a superior team.  After the regional semifinal and final rounds, the Wildcats statistical gains have elevated their criteria score to 11, which now gives them superior status.  Still, they trail UNC by six in this category.

 

The strengths of schedule are nearly equal, as UNC gets one additional point here.

 

Prediction

North Carolina is clearly the better team.  It doesn’t mean Villanova has no chance, because a really good team can defeat a great team under certain conditions.

 

We believe this game will remain close throughout the first half, and Villanova could go to the locker room with a small lead.  The Tar Heels have too many quality options for the entire roster to have an off game.  Coach Roy Williams will figure out how to get his hot players the ball in the second half, and UNC will go on a run and put this game away by taking a double digit lead in the final 12 minutes. 

 

North Carolina 78 Villanova 66

 

Tune in here Sunday Night for a preview of the Championship Game.

October 17, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week Seven NFL Previews: October 19 & 20, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Seven

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

The Mean Ratings

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

All three ratings are normalized so that a rating of 100 is average.

 

Current NFL Standings (listed alphabetically by divisions)

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Dallas

4

2

0

175

141

109.00

105.04

104.68

2

New York

4

1

0

141

84

101.74

103.65

104.75

2

Philadelphia

3

3

0

167

123

109.19

104.82

103.47

2

Washington

4

2

0

126

117

108.60

102.77

104.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

3

3

0

148

109

109.63

104.18

102.83

2

Detroit

0

5

0

76

159

84.05

89.24

88.13

3

Green Bay

3

3

0

160

145

104.53

100.84

101.14

2

Minnesota

3

3

0

113

119

106.16

100.20

101.34

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Atlanta

4

2

0

139

127

99.42

99.71

101.70

2

Carolina

4

2

0

117

97

104.05

102.40

103.16

2

New Orleans

3

3

0

172

133

110.04

103.29

105.74

2

Tampa Bay

4

2

0

141

97

112.13

106.03

105.50

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

2

0

177

144

105.29

103.24

105.38

3

St. Louis

1

4

0

62

164

76.28

89.46

88.42

2

San Francisco

2

4

0

141

167

90.14

93.84

95.67

3

Seattle

1

4

0

100

151

80.53

92.71

92.32

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

4

1

0

126

104

94.82

99.48

100.73

3

Miami

2

3

0

107

103

102.46

99.80

99.32

2

New England

3

2

0

89

109

90.70

99.55

98.12

2

New York

3

2

0

141

130

103.58

101.22

103.43

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Baltimore

2

3

0

78

87

100.87

99.20

98.88

3

Cincinnati

0

6

0

88

144

95.15

95.12

95.73

2

Cleveland

2

3

0

81

92

100.23

100.22

98.96

2

Pittsburgh

4

1

0

103

79

106.66

104.77

105.35

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Houston

1

4

0

112

158

97.37

97.52

96.65

3

Indianapolis

3

2

0

114

97

107.12

104.22

104.74

2

Jacksonville

3

3

0

124

128

102.44

102.15

102.19

3

Tennessee

5

0

0

115

56

112.04

107.20

108.72

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

2

0

166

154

101.37

99.54

100.85

2

Kansas City

1

4

0

65

131

83.12

90.67

91.23

2

Oakland

1

4

0

81

135

85.43

93.10

92.18

2

San Diego

3

3

0

178

139

105.92

104.82

105.22

2

 

NFL Previews-Week Six

 

San Diego (3-3) at Buffalo (4-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 8 

Mean:           San Diego by 2

Bias:             San Diego by 1

Vegas:        Buffalo by 1 -115/+115

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser, Buffalo +9 in 10-point teaser, Buffalo +12 in 13-point teaser, Buffalo -1

 

Buffalo had a week off after the embarrassing loss at Arizona.  San Diego won a big primetime game over New England Sunday night and must now travel 2,700 miles across three time zones.

 

I am not sold on the Bills even at 4-1, and I think the Chargers have the talent to overcome the obstacles in this game.  I’m going with the Bills in the teasers because I still think they have a little better than 50% chance of winning this one.  Even if San Diego wins, I don’t see it being by more than a touchdown. 

 

Pittsburgh (4-1) at Cincinnati (0-6)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light or no wind, temperature rising from the low to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 10     

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 8

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 8

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 9½     -420/+380

Ov/Un:        35½

Strategy:     Cincinnati +9½, Cincinnati +19½ in 10-point teaser, Cincinnati +22½ in 13-point teaser, Over 25½ in 10-point teaser, Over 22½ in 13-point teaser

 

It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to realize the Bengals are much weaker without quarterback Carson Palmer running their offense, but it may take more than a Harvard grad to beat the Steelers.

 

On paper, Pittsburgh should win this game with relative ease.  At Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals make this game much closer than it should be.  Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, Cincinnati has enough talent to keep this one close.  Pittsburgh is the type of team that when they win road games, it is by less than a touchdown.

 

Cincinnati’s players may be ready to throw in the towel on the season, but it won’t happen this week against the perennial bullies of their division.  Expect a stellar performance from the Bengals, and thus this will not be an easy Steeler win.  I might consider the Bengals straight up on this one, but I prefer the striped helmets in the teasers.  I like teasing the Over here, as 23 or 26 points is not asking much.

 

Minnesota (3-3) at Chicago (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Clouds increasing during the day, moderate winds, temperature in the mid to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 5     

Mean:           Chicago by 6

Bias:             Chicago by 3

Vegas:        Chicago by 3      -175/+155

Ov/Un:        37½

Strategy:     Chicago +7 in 10-point teaser, Chicago +10 in 13-point teaser, Under 47½ in 10-point teaser, Under 50½ in 13-point teaser 

 

This one could be the game of the week.  To the winner could go sole possession of first place in the division.  Both teams have quite exploitable weaknesses, but the Vikings seem to have less of them.  I expect this game to develop into an old fashioned guts and glory affair right out of the 1960’s.  I expect the two teams to shorten this game with around 120 plays from scrimmage.  I could see both teams failing to gain 300 total yards, and I could see the winner scoring no more than 17 points. 

 

Chicago has played just two home games, and those came against two teams better than the Vikings.  On the other hand, Minnesota is a better team today than the one that took the field against Green Bay in week one. 

 

If your opinion that a low scoring game will take place, it goes without saying that you would like your chances that the spread will be less than a touchdown.  Thus, getting the Bears at home and getting a touchdown or even 10 points becomes a favorable situation.  Additionally, if you think a game could end with a 17-13 score, then teasing the Under when that total moves to 47½ or 50½ points is something you would jump on.

 

Tennessee (5-0) at Kansas City (1-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny and quite windy, with a temperature in the upper 60’s to near 70

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 27     

Mean:           Tennessee by 15

Bias:             Tennessee by 15

Vegas:        Tennessee by 9        -330/+300

Ov/Un:        35

Strategy:     Kansas City +19 in 10-point teaser, Kansas City +22 in 10-point teaser, Over 25 in 10-point teaser, Over 22 in 13-point teaser, Kansas City +9

 

Both teams had the week off, and still the Titans have issues at wide receiver.  Kansas City has issues at running back, where Larry Johnson has been suspended.  However, Brodie Croyle should be ready to go.

 

Kansas City’s lone win was over a then undefeated Denver team.  They have a fair chance of getting upset number two this week.  The Titans are a much better home team than they are a road team.  Their two road trips have been to Cincinnati and Baltimore.  The Bengals offered little competition, whereas the Ravens outplayed Tennessee.  The Chiefs are weaker than Baltimore but stronger than the Bengals were when the Titans beat them.

 

I give Kansas City a 35% chance of pulling off the upset, and a 75% chance of losing by a touchdown or less.

 

This is one game where I would consider the underdog straight up, but I really like the Chiefs in the teasers.  I just cannot imagine a scenario where the Titans could win this game by 20 points, especially with Justin McCareins and Justin Gage ailing.  Tennessee will try to run the ball 60% of the time, and the Chiefs will be ready.  Kansas City will pass the ball more than normal, and this gives them a fighting chance this week.  Rarely if ever would I consider keying one game in multiple teasers, but this might be one week where I would do it with this game. 

 

New Orleans (3-3) at Carolina (4-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid 60’s

 

PiRate:         New Orleans by 4    

Mean:           Carolina by 1

Bias:             New Orleans by 1

Vegas:         Carolina by 3            -155/+135

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser, New Orleans +13 in 10-point teaser, New Orleans +16 in 13-point teaser

 

This game provides me with what I think is a strong play.  These two teams know how to score points.  I think the totals line is a little low because the Saints held Oakland to a field goal last week while the Panthers laid an egg in Tampa. 

 

New Orleans has consistently scored between 24 and 34 points this year, while Carolina has averaged 26 points per game at home.  The Panthers rebounded from their first loss at Minnesota with a great game against Atlanta.  I expect another turnaround effort this week.  I’m looking for the winner of this game to score 28 to 35 points and prevail by a touchdown or less.

 

I like taking the Saints in the teasers because if they score their usual 24-34 points in this one, look how much Carolina will have to score to beat us.

 

San Francisco (2-4) at New York Giants (4-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Giants by 14     

Mean:           Giants by 12

Bias:             Giants by 11

Vegas:        Giants by 10½          -430/+390

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Giants -½ in 10-point teaser, Giants +2½ in 13-point teaser, Under 56½ in 10-point teaser, Under 59½ in 13-point teaser, Giants -430   

 

Just how much did last week’s blown game to the Eagles take out of the 49ers?  We may know the answer this week.  San Francisco was on its way to a 3-3 record to stay in the playoff hunt before mistake after mistake allowed the Eagles to score 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.  Blowing a nine point league in less than a full quarter is inexcusable when you are at home playing a team that has traveled across the country and is missing one of its top offensive weapons.

 

Coach Mike Nolan is now on thin ice, and it doesn’t bode well that he must take his team to the East Coast to play a mad bunch of Giants.  The defending Super Bowl champs were embarrassed on national TV Monday night, and they will be ready to play this week.

 

I don’t like taking the Giants and having to give 10½ points, as this could be one of those games where New York chooses to grind it out on the ground and consume the clock much like Jacksonville.  They could dominate for 60 minutes and still win by a score of 21-12.  So, give me the teaser plays in this one.  San Francisco would have to win outright to beat me.  I usually don’t like playing a money line where a loss could cripple the chances of a winning week overall, but the Giants should probably be listed at -600.   

 

Baltimore (2-3) at Miami (2-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain showers, considerable winds, temperature in the low 80’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 4 

Mean:           Miami by 3

Bias:             Miami by 2

Vegas:        Miami by 3         -140/+120

Ov/Un:        36½

Strategy:     Baltimore +13 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +16 in 13-point teaser, Over 26½ in 10-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser 

 

This game is a playoff eliminator.  The winner moves to 3-3 to stay alive in the playoff chase, while the loser more than likely is headed to a 6-10 record or worse.  Baltimore has dropped three in a row after winning their first two, while Miami has been playing like a team with a chance to go 8-8.

 

I don’t really like any of the possibilities in this game, as I could see a variety of scenarios playing out this week.  Just one or two plays early in this game could change the outcome completely.

 

How will the Dolphins’ single wing package perform against a Ravens’ defense that could stop it completely?  Can Dan Henning come up with the right strategy to exploit Ray Lewis in company?

 

Baltimore has done absolutely nothing on offense the past two weeks, and the Dolphins have already held much better offenses under 14 points.

 

With so many tossup games this week, you might see a pattern in my selections.  Go with the underdog in a teaser, since it allows you to in essence get a few extra points in your favor without having to rely on your pick pulling off a mild upset.

 

Teasing the Over is still a slight risk in this one, as I included it only as a last pick to fill out a parlay.  One big play on special teams or one big turnover could allow the total to hit 30 points.

 

Dallas (4-2) at St. Louis (1-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Dallas by 31      

Mean:           Dallas by 14

Bias:             Dallas by 14

Vegas:        Dallas by 7         (no money line)

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Leave this one alone, unless you know for sure the status of Tony Romo.  If he doesn’t play, then teasing the Under at 54 & 57 looks good  

 

Tony Romo is actually going to try to play with a broken finger on his throwing hand.  I would leave this game alone.  It could be a ruse by the Cowboys to try to take the heat off Brad Johnson.  The only logical play here is to tease the Under, because Dallas could beat the Rams with Marion Barber at quarterback.  If Romo plays, I don’t expect Dallas to throw the ball more than 20-25 times.  If Johnson has to go, I expect a similar strategy.

 

Marc Bulger didn’t have much luck against Dallas last year, but I expect him to fare a little better this season.  It could allow the Rams to keep it close for a long time, but seven points is too tricky to play either way.  My advice is to forget this game; there are better options available.

 

Detroit (0-5) at Houston (1-4)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light winds, temperature around 80 (all 2008 games at Reliant Stadium are now outdoors)

 

PiRate:         Houston by 16  

Mean:           Houston by 8

Bias:             Houston by 12

Vegas:        Houston by 9½        -400/+360

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Houston +½ in 10-point teaser, Houston +3½ in 13-point teaser, Detroit +19½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +22½ in 13-point teaser, Over 36½ in 10-point teaser, Over 33½ in 13-point teaser  

 

Houston finally won a game last week, while Detroit was on the verge of getting a victory.  Now, the Texans are favored by almost double digits.  A lot of that has to do with the Lions sending Roy Williams packing to Dallas. 

 

The question in this game is how much the loss of Williams will affect the ability to get the ball to Calvin Johnson.  Johnson won’t be open as often, as defenses begin to key on him.

 

Detroit’s offense didn’t set the woods on fire the last three times out with Williams on the roster.  They scored 30 points.  Houston has surrendered 28 or more points in every game so far.  That streak will come to an end this week, and I expect the Texans to win their second consecutive game.  The Lions are going to struggle without Williams, and it is hard to find a winnable game on their remaining schedule.

 

Indianapolis (3-2) at Green Bay (3-3)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from low 60’s to the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         Indianapolis by 1    

Mean:           Indianapolis by 3

Bias:             Indianapolis by 2

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 2     -130/+110

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Indianapolis +8 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +11 in 13-point teaser, Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

 

If the Bears-Vikings game isn’t the best one this week, then it’s probably this game.  This one could be the most exciting match as well. 

 

Straight away, I like the possibility that this could be a game where the losing team scores 24 or more points.  The weather could be much worse this time of the year at Lambeau Field. Instead, it will be ideal for Brown County, Wisconsin, in mid-October.  Just close your eyes and smell in all the brats being steamed in beer and then grilled to perfection.  Then, watch two quarterbacks put on an aerial display as good as the annual one in Oshkosh.

 

This is one game where I’d prefer to take the favorite in a teaser play.  The Colts are the most improved team in the league since the second week of the season.  Peyton Manning is almost back to his old self, and he will pick apart the Packers’ defense.  The Colts should top 30 points for the third consecutive week.

 

Aaron Rodgers will need a 300 yard effort to give the Packers a chance to win this game.  If they are to pull off the mild upset, I think they will have to score 35 points. 

 

New York Jets (3-2) at Oakland (1-4)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light winds, temperature in the low 70’s

 

 

PiRate:         Jets by 16  

Mean:           Jets by 6

Bias:             Jets by 9

Vegas:        Jets by 3     -175/+155

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Oakland +13 in 10-point teaser, Oakland +16 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 10-point teaser, Over 28 in 13-point teaser

 

This is a trap game.  The Jets are better than average, while Oakland stinks.  However, the Raiders can be counted on to come up with a decent game every other week or so.  They failed to show up last week in New Orleans, but they will perform much better this week.

 

The Jets are making their second of four trips to the West Coast this week.  Their first visit to the Pacific Ocean ended in a 19-point drowning in San Diego.  I expect a much better effort this time out, but I cannot see them winning big.  This could be a 28-20 game.  King Brett may connect for three touchdown passes, but he could also throw a couple of critical picks that allows Oakland to pick up some easy points. 

 

Cleveland (2-3) at Washington (4-2)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature dropping from around 60 to the low 50’s

 

 

PiRate:         Washington by 10

Mean:           Washington by 5

Bias:             Washington by 5

Vegas:        Washington by 7½ -300/+270

Ov/Un:        41½

Strategy:     Cleveland +17½  in 10-point teaser, Cleveland +20½  in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 10-point teaser, Over 28½ in 13-point teaser

 

How do you gauge a team that won at Dallas and lost at home to St. Louis?  How do you gauge a team that looked dead for three weeks, won a sloppy game against a winless team, and then destroyed the undefeated defending Super Bowl Champions on Monday night?

 

This game is definitely tricky.  It should be expected for the Browns to bounce some after the emotional win over the Giants.  Having to play on Monday night could put more rubber into that bounce. 

 

The big question is how will the Redskins respond after losing at home to the worst team in the NFL?

 

The logical play here is to force Washington to win big to ruin the pick.  The Redskins have yet to win a game by a touchdown. 

 

The Browns could bounce big time and still lose by less than 17 points.  Their offense should put up enough points to allow this game to go well over the 30 total. 

 

 

Seattle (1-4) at Tampa Bay (4-2)

Time:           8:15PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Clear to partly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from the upper 70’s to the lower 70’s

                    

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 34    

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 15

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 15

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 10½         -445/+405

Ov/Un:        38

Strategy:     Tampa Bay -½ in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +2½ in 13-point teaser, Over 28 in 10-point teaser, Over 25 in 13-point teaser, Tampa Bay -445 

 

There is a big question with this game.  Who will start at quarterback for the Seahawks?  Matt Hasselbeck is definitely out.  Seneca Wallace is injured yet could still play, but Charlie Frye may have to go if Wallace isn’t ready Sunday.  Frye attempted 23 passes last week against the Packers’ mediocre secondary, and he averaged a measly 3.6 yards per attempt with two interceptions.  Two sacks brought his production down under 2.6 yards per pass play.

 

Tampa Bay won big over Carolina last week, and the Bucs could be ready to go on a run to a possible 12-win season.  This game should be close to a cinch for the home team.  Jeff Garcia played competently if not brilliantly last week subbing for Brian Griese.  I’m looking for a 28-10 Tampa Bay victory, but I’ll play it safe and take the Bucs in the teasers.

 

Denver (4-2) at New England (3-2)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Mostly clear, moderate winds, temperature falling from mid 50’s to mid 40’s

 

PiRate:         Denver by 9

Mean:           New England by 2

Bias:             Denver by 1

Vegas:        New England by 3           -160/+150

Ov/Un:        48

Strategy:     Under 58 in 10-point teaser, Under 61 in 13-point teaser

 

These two teams are among the most inconsistent in the league.  The one thing I think I can predict with some rationality is that Denver will continue to struggle to score points.  This is their first trip east this year.  The Pats should play better this week after playing two consecutive road games on the West Coast. 

 

I’m teasing the Under in this one.  The odds makers always inflate the totals for Monday night games, so I feel like I’m getting a couple of bonus points here.  My guess is New England will win by a score of something like 20-16.

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes Another Nice Deposit

 

It’s now six winning weeks out of six!  Not only did I have a sixth consecutive winning week, I was 10-3 to bring my record for the year against the spread to 44-19-3 (69.8%).  I was close to finishing 11-2 until the 49ers committed more mistakes in five minutes than they used to commit in an entire season during their glory years.  It’s starting to look bleak for Coach Nolan.

 

The profitable weekend brought me $640, bringing the bank account for the year up to $1,985, just 15 bucks shy of doubling the initial $1,000 investment in six weeks.  For the season, my return on investment is 30.1%.

 

Once again, I did rather well with the straight wagers, getting four out of five correct.  The new 13-point teaser parlays finished 3-1, while the tried and true 10-point teaser parlays finished 3-1. 

 

This week, I am having quite a bit of difficulty coming up with straight wagers, as the schedule is not favorable for playing them that way.  Not counting the Dallas-St. Louis game and the Tony Romo situation, I see seven games that could easily go either way not only against the spread but in which team will win outright.  Even the game that looks like a blowout (Titans-Chiefs) may be a huge trap.  Tennessee could easily lose this one.  Cincinnati is a lively upset threat this week as well. 

 

As a result, I will be relying heavily on teaser parlays this week, trying to pick games that give me what looks like ridiculous odds in my favor.  Sure, one or two of these games will be ridiculous and ruin some of the parlays, but I am banking on the law of averages.  Hopefully, it will lead to another profitable weekend. 

 

Here are my wagers for week seven (all wagered to win $100):

 

1. Buffalo -1 vs. San Diego

 

2. Cincinnati +9½ vs. Pittsburgh

 

3. New York Giants -430 vs. San Francisco

 

4. Tampa Bay -445 vs. Seattle

 

5. 10-point teaser

       A. Buffalo +9 vs. San Diego

       B. Cincinnati +19½ vs. Pittsburgh

       C. Chicago & Minnesota Under 47½ 

 

6. 10-point teaser

       A. Chicago +7 vs. Minnesota

       B. Kansas City +19 vs. Tennessee

       C. New Orleans +13 vs. Carolina

 

7. 10-point teaser

       A. Kansas City & Tennessee Over 25

       B. New Orleans & Carolina Over 34

       C. Detroit & Houston Over 36½

 

8. 10-point teaser

       A. New York Giants -½ vs. San Francisco

       B. Baltimore +13 vs. Miami

       C. Houston +½ vs. Detroit

  

9. 10-point teaser

       A. Indianapolis +8 vs. Green Bay

       B. Cleveland +17½ vs. Washington

       C. Tampa Bay -½ vs. Seattle

 

10. 10-point teaser

       A. Indianapolis & Green Bay Over 37

       B. Oakland & New York Jets Over 31

       C. Cleveland & Washington Over 31½

 

11. 10-point teaser

       A. Buffalo & San Diego Over 34

       B. Tampa Bay & Seattle Over 28

       C. Denver & New England Under 58

 

12. 13-point teaser

       A. Buffalo & San Diego Over 31

       B. Kansas City +22 vs. Tennessee

       C. Indianapolis & Green Bay Over 34

       D. Tampa Bay & Seattle Over 25

 

13. 13-point teaser

       A. Buffalo +12 vs. San Diego

       B. New Orleans & Carolina Over 31

       C. Baltimore & Miami Over 23½

       D. Oakland +16 vs. New York Jets

 

14. 13-point teaser

       A. Cincinnati +22½ vs. Pittsburgh

       B. New Orleans +16 vs. Carolina

       C. Houston +3½ vs. Detroit

       D. Oakland & New York Jets Over 28

 

15. 13-point teaser

       A. Cincinnati & Pittsburgh Over 22½

       B. Kansas City & Tennessee Over 22

       C. Detroit +22½ vs. Houston

       D. Cleveland +20½ vs. Washington

   

16. 13-point teaser

       A. Chicago +10 vs. Minnesota

       B. New York Giants +2½ vs. San Francisco

       C. Detroit & Houston Over 33½

       D. Cleveland & Washington Over 28½

  

17. 13-point teaser

       A. Chicago & Minnesota Under 50½

       B. Baltimore +16 vs. Miami

       C. Indianapolis +11 vs. Green Bay

       D. Tampa Bay +2½ vs. Seattle

 

AND REMEMBER!!!  Do not use these picks for real.  I have no real money on the line in this mathematical experiment.  I won’t lose a penny if all these wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.