The Pi-Rate Ratings

February 23, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For February 23, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 6:47 am

Sunday’s Games

 

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Boise St.

New Mexico

7.8

Boston University

American

6.9

Bryant

Sacred Heart

0.1

Cincinnati

Wichita St.

2.8

Colgate

Holy Cross

19.5

Connecticut

South Florida

8.0

Creighton

Butler

5.4

Detroit

Milwaukee

0.8

East Carolina

Temple

-4.5

Evansville

Indiana St.

-6.6

Fairfield

Siena

-3.3

Fairleigh Dickinson

Robert Morris

-1.3

Indiana

Penn St.

-0.4

Lafayette

Loyola (MD)

14.5

Lehigh

Bucknell

-1.1

Manhattan

Canisius

3.4

Marist

Niagara

1.8

Monmouth

Quinnipiac

6.4

Mount St. Mary’s

Merrimack

-0.5

Northern Iowa

Southern Illinois

11.6

Northwestern

Minnesota

-4.8

Notre Dame

Miami (Fla.)

6.9

Oakland

Green Bay

2.7

Ohio St.

Maryland

2.9

Saint Peter’s

Rider

1.7

Seton Hall

St. John’s

10.2

South Dakota St.

South Dakota

6.4

St. Francis (NY)

Wagner

6.7

St. Francis (PA)

Long Island

7.9

Utah

USC

-2.1

Washington St.

Stanford

-4.1

Wisconsin

Rutgers

3.7

 

Sunday’s Key TV Games

 

Time (EST)

Network

Home

Visitor

12:00 PM

FS1

Indiana

Penn St.

1:00 PM

ESPN

Cincinnati

Wichita St.

1:00 PM

BTN

Wisconsin

Rutgers

2:00 PM

ESPN3

Saint Peter’s

Rider

2:00 PM

ESPNU

Northern Iowa

Southern Illinois

3:00 PM

ESPN+

South Dakota St.

South Dakota

4:00 PM

CBS

Ohio St.

Maryland

4:00 PM

FS1

Creighton

Butler

 

 

 

 

February 12, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For February 12, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:28 am

Wednesday’s Games

 

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Abilene Christian

Houston Baptist

16.6

American

Loyola (MD)

6.2

Army

Lafayette

-1.8

Auburn

Alabama

5.6

Binghamton

Stony Brook

-10.6

Bradley

Indiana St.

2.9

Butler

Xavier

6.3

Central Arkansas

New Orleans

4.7

Chattanooga

VMI

9.1

East Tennessee St.

Citadel

21.9

Evansville

Loyola (Chi)

-8.6

Georgia

South Carolina

2.6

Georgia Tech

Louisville

-5.6

Hartford

Albany

1.5

Hawaii

Long Beach St.

11.8

La Salle

Richmond

-4.7

Lehigh

Holy Cross

7.4

Miami (Fla.)

Boston College

5.4

Missouri St.

Drake

2.2

Navy

Bucknell

4.3

Niagara

Canisius

-0.8

Nicholls

Lamar

8.2

Northern Iowa

Illinois St.

16.1

Northwestern

Michigan

-6.3

Northwestern St.

Incarnate Word

9.5

Ohio St.

Rutgers

6.5

Oklahoma

Iowa St.

5.6

Oral Roberts

Omaha

7.4

Pittsburgh

Clemson

4.4

Samford

Furman

-12.4

San Jose St.

Fresno St.

-6.5

Seton Hall

Creighton

6.0

SMU

Connecticut

2.5

South Dakota

Western Illinois

14.2

South Florida

Houston

-6.6

Southeast Louisiana

Sam Houston St.

-9.8

St. John’s

Providence

1.8

Texas A&M

Florida

-5.6

Texas A&M-CC

Stephen F. Austin

-7.8

Tulane

Temple

-3.8

Tulsa

East Carolina

12.3

UAB

Middle Tennessee

8.2

UC Riverside

UC Irvine

-3.9

UMass Lowell

Maine

6.8

UNC Greensboro

Western Carolina

10.3

UNLV

Nevada

-1.3

Valparaiso

Southern Illinois

2.7

VCU

George Mason

14.4

Vermont

New Hampshire

15.7

Villanova

Marquette

2.8

West Virginia

Kansas

-0.9

Wofford

Mercer

8.3

 

Wednesday’s Top TV Games

Time (EST)

Network

Home

Visitor

6:30 PM

FS1

Seton Hall

Creighton

6:30 PM

CBSSN

Butler

Xavier

7:00 PM

ESPN+

West Virginia

Kansas

7:00 PM

BTN

Ohio St.

Rutgers

8:30 PM

FS1

Villanova

Marquette

 

The 25-Teams Could Win The NCAA Championship Myth

 

If you view a national basketball telecast this year, the so-called experts announcing the games repeatedly say that this season is different because there are no overly dominating teams in college basketball.  These scribes say that 25 different teams could be good enough to win the national championship.  Some even say that 40 different teams are talented enough to make the Final Four.

We at the PiRate Ratings tend to be contrarian in nature.  We just don’t buy these theories of parity.  Certainly, none of the teams in this year’s Top 10 appear to be as talented and dominant as any of the Top 10 teams of the past decade.  However, none of the teams outside of the Top 10 appear to be as talented as their counterparts of the past decade.

We do not see the parity that others see, and the analytics when compared on a one season basis, actually tell us that fewer than 10 teams this season have statistical resumes worthy of contending for a national championship.

If you have been reading our chicken scratch long enough, you obviously know that we value certain data when predicting the outcomes of college basketball games past the Ides of March.  We have looked at reams and reams of data dating back to the years where statistics were kept on these games and have identified consistencies in the champions that other teams could not match.

Namely, the ability to rebound the basketball on the offensive end and get extra shooting chances appears to be much more valuable in the Big Dance than it is in the regular season, because so many of the tournament teams are in the top group of defensive teams.  Additionally, being able to protect the ball and limit turnovers has become more and more important in the 21st Century, because the age of pressing full court for 40 minutes and then relying on fast breaks off these turnovers just doesn’t happen like it used to work when UCLA ran its incredible 2-2-1 press and Rick Pitino used his matchup press defense at Kentucky.  So many of the top teams have little to no problem defeating the press defense and exploiting it for points that this strategy has become a non-factor most of the time.

Teams with excellent offensive efficiency, very good defensive efficiency, an ability to hold onto the ball, and a highly-ranked offensive rebounding rate rise above the rest when there are just 68 teams remaining in contention for the title.  Additionally, teams that lack this ability to rebound on the offensive end or limit turnovers have been vulnerable to early round upsets, as was seen multiple times with teams like Georgetown and Vanderbilt in the past decade, two notorious teams that were excellent offensive efficiency teams, very good defensive efficiency teams, but lousy offensive rebounding teams with no turnover margin advantage.

When you combine the teams that possess excellent offensive efficiency, very good defensive efficiency, strong rebounding ability with decent turnover prevention, and then said team has played a schedule that ranks in the top 35% of college basketball (basically a Power Conference), these are the teams that have National Championship Resumes.

By now, we hope you are wondering how many teams currently fit this National Championship footprint?  How many have excellent offensive efficiency, very good defensive efficiency, highly-ranked offensive rebounding ability, and a good rate of taking care of the rock?

The answer is far from the 25 to 40 teams that the hardwood pundits claim.  As of Wednesday, February 12, there are only 3 teams that possess these national championship worthy resumes.

Those three teams are: Duke, Gonzaga, and San Diego State.  Gonzaga and San Diego State just barely qualify on the basis of schedule strength, and unfortunately for the Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference, their remaining schedule might lower their overall schedule strength to remove SDSU from this list.

Because the West Coast Conference is abnormally stronger this season, Gonzaga still has enough games against opponents that will maintain the Bulldogs’ schedule strength above the line needed to qualify.

So, the next time you hear that this could be the year that somebody like Penn State or Rutgers makes an unexpected run to the national title, or that this is the year the Pac-12 returns to prominence with Oregon or Arizona winning it all, refer them to this data that says this is not so.  For now, we would tend to believe that Duke and Gonzaga are runaway top contenders.  We aren’t saying that somebody else might get hot and move into the field of legitimate contenders, since there is a month to go until Selection Sunday, but when somebody says that 25 teams today are good enough to win the title, laugh at the statement and educate them in the analytics of long historical importance.

Let’s take a look at the supposed biggest dark horse national champion in the last 60 years.  The infamous 1966 Texas Western Miners (UTEP today) pulled off the monumental upset over the mighty Kentucky Wildcats.  Was Texas Western a use anomaly that year?  Did they come from out of nowhere to upset the trends and blow this theory apart?

Quite the opposite.  The issue that year wasn’t the mathematics; it was the publicity.  Texas Western was no dark horse.  Let’s take a look at the stats available to us.

First, let’s start with the obvious.  What was the Miners strength of schedule?  They were an independent in 1966, which in those days was the largest group of all.  There were close to 50 Division I Independents then, and they included some of the top teams in the nation like former National Champion Loyola of Chicago, future National Runner-up Dayton, Providence, Houston, and Syracuse.

Texas Western finished the regular season with a 23-1 record and were ranked #3 in the polls.  When has the #3-ranked team ever been considered a dark horse or surprise team?  Just because the Nabobs of the Eastern Elite Media didn’t dub the Miners with their accolades, it did not make the Miners a dark horse.

The Miners played one Top 10 team in the regular season.  They slaughtered Iowa by 18 points.  They beat a host of above average teams by well above average margins and blew out the rest of the teams on their schedule until the final game.   They lost by two at Seattle, when the Chieftains were still a strong program and just seven years removed from appearing in the National Championship Game.

The issue with the established press is that all these TW wins came against teams west of the Mississippi River.  The media didn’t realize that the Miners had outrebounded their opponents by an average of 51.5 to 36.2 in their 24 regular season games.  They didn’t know that the Miners had one of the toughest defenses in the nation, limiting opponents to an estimated 79 points per 100 possessions (not exact because offensive rebounds and turnovers were not official stats then),  They didn’t see that the Miners were quite efficient for the day with an estimated 99 points per 100 possessions.  Remember that there was no three-point line then, and anything over 85 points per 100 possessions was above average.  That Texas Western team also took good care of the ball.  They had exceptional ball handlers in Bobby Joe Hill, Willie Worsley, and Orsten Artis.

Texas Western began tournament play with an easy 15-point victory over Oklahoma City, holding the Chiefs 25 points under their average of nearly 100 points per game.  The Miners dominated on the glass and proved to be much too quick for the Chiefs, fouling out four of OKC’s starters.

In the second round, TW had to go to overtime to beat the favored Cincinnati Bearcats.  Cincinnati actually controlled the boards, but the Miners won with steals and not turning the ball over.  It was the only game where the other team won the rebounding war, but the difference in turnovers was huge.

In the Midwest Regional Final, Texas Western faced a favored Kansas team that featured all-American center Walt Wesley and 1st team all-Big 8 guard Jo Jo White.  The press basically advanced the Jayhawks to the Final Four before this game began, but the Miners proved to be too quick for the slower KU team.  TW won the rebounding and turnover battle, and Kansas’s two stars were matched by the Miners’ balance.  On to the Final Four in College Park, Maryland, went the Miners, finally playing games in the East.

The Final Four was nothing like it is today.  The University of Maryland’s gymnasium was no 70,000-seat dome stadium. Cole Field House seated about 12,000.  However, the press made a big deal out of half of this field.  The Eastern Region Champion Duke Blue Devils, the number two team in the nation placed the Mideast Region Champion Kentucky Wildcats, the number one team in the nation.  The winner of this game would then win the National Championship Game the next night against the winner of the other semifinal game.  Texas Western and Utah were there too.

The semifinal games were both close.  Kentucky came from behind to nip Duke, while Texas Western stayed ahead of Utah most of the game but never ran away from the Utes, thanks to superstar forward Jerry Chambers keeping the Utes in the game.

The Championship Game was considered an afterthought.  The mighty Wildcats of Kentucky were basketball royalty with their Baron, Adolph Rupp.  Texas Western was this tiny school from El Paso with a coach that had learned the game from the great Hank Iba, but they were almost as much a patsy for Kentucky’s soon to be fifth national title as the Washington Generals were for the Harlem Globetrotters.

There were some astute professional gamblers that knew what was really about to happen.  Kentucky’s players were quite talented.  They could shoot the ball about as competently as any team in the history of the game, and with Louie Dampier and Pat Riley on the perimeter, they could quickly shoot a weaker opponent out of the gym.  Kentucky’s devastating 1-3-1 zone trap defense had forced numerous opponents out of their normal offense, where they either turned the ball over or took a hurried shot.  It had worked like a charm 27 times out of 28.  Ironically, just like Texas Western, Kentucky only lost their regular season finale at Tennessee, a team that would win the SEC the following year.

The “Sharp” gamblers knew something that most of the rest of the nation and just about all of the Eastern Establishment media did not know.  Texas Western was much quicker than Kentucky.  Their man to man defense was stronger than Kentucky’s 1-3-1 zone trap, and it did not surrender a handful of easy buckets like the gambling press.

In the opening minutes of the game, neither team could find the range, but Kentucky’s fast break led to a couple of baskets.  Additionally in the first part of the game Kentucky enjoyed a huge rebounding edge, as the Wildcats missed multiple offensive tips.  Texas Western scored on some lob passes over the zone for easy layups, and even though they were a tad sloppy with the ball, they limited turnovers, being called for a couple of travelling violations but not giving UK easy breakaway baskets off steals.

The key sequence of the game was when Kentucky’s Tommy Kron dribbled the ball up the floor guarded man to man and then from the blind-side, Bobby Joe Hill came in and stole the ball, driving for an easy layup.  The play tightened the screws on the favored Wildcats.  On the very next possession, star guard Louie Dampier brought the ball up the middle of the floor, and Hill pressured him to the left.  As Dampier attempted to cross over, Hill stole the ball again and drove for another easy basket.

Texas Western never relinquished the lead the rest of the night.  As the game continued, Kentucky only had one shooting opportunity per possession, while Texas Western had second and third chances.  Thunderous dunks by power player David Latin allowed the patient Miners to keep the lead.  Kentucky had chances to tie or take the lead, but every time, the Texas Western defense held and secured the rebound.

Can San Diego State be this year’s Texas Western?  Can Gonzaga finally get over the hump and win the National Championship?  Will Coach Mike Krzyzewski win another national championship?  If we had to predict the champion today, we believe these are the only three possible teams that could go from 68 to 1.  Duke has the perfect resume this year.  We’ll see if anybody else joins the group of championship-worthy teams in the final four weeks before Selection Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 5, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For February 5, 2020

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 1:35 am

Wednesday’s Games

 

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Albany

Binghamton

10.5

Army

Boston University

-3.3

Butler

Villanova

3.7

Cal Poly

Long Beach St.

1.8

Cal St. Fullerton

UC Riverside

-0.7

Chattanooga

East Tennessee St.

-5.1

Drake

Bradley

-0.8

Evansville

Southern Illinois

-4.6

Florida

Georgia

8.8

Florida Intl.

Florida Atlantic

3.4

Furman

Mercer

12.9

Georgetown

Seton Hall

-1.4

Holy Cross

Loyola (MD)

-2.9

Incarnate Word

Sam Houston St.

-14.2

Indiana St.

Loyola (Chi)

0.1

Lamar

Central Arkansas

5.4

Lehigh

Colgate

-7.7

Louisville

Wake Forest

15.6

Memphis

Temple

8.1

Miami

North Carolina St.

-0.6

Minnesota

Wisconsin

2.7

Missouri St.

Illinois St.

6.2

Navy

American

3.1

Northwestern St.

Abilene Christian

-5.1

Notre Dame

Pittsburgh

5.7

Oklahoma St.

TCU

2.8

Ole Miss

South Carolina

0.4

Omaha

North Dakota St.

-1.8

Providence

Creighton

-1.5

Purdue

Iowa

1.2

Purdue Fort Wayne

Western Illinois

7.6

Saint Louis

Duquesne

2.9

Samford

Western Carolina

-5.1

Southeast Louisiana

Houston Baptist

5.4

St. Bonaventure

George Washington

8.3

Stephen F. Austin

Nicholls St.

8.5

Stony Brook

UMass Lowell

12.2

Texas A&M-CC

McNeese St.

-0.9

UMBC

Hartford

0.9

UNC Greensboro

Citadel

20.0

Utah St.

UNLV

10.9

Valparaiso

Northern Iowa

-6.4

Vanderbilt

LSU

-10.0

Vermont

Maine

21.9

Virginia

Clemson

6.3

VMI

Wofford

-5.6

West Virginia

Iowa St

12.5

 

Top Eight Basketball Games on TV Wednesday

 

Time (EST)

Network

Home

Visitor

6:00 PM

CBSSN

Indiana St.

Loyola (Chi)

6:30 PM

FS1

Butler

Villanova

7:00 PM

BTN

Purdue

Iowa

7:00 PM

ESPN+

Saint Louis

Duquesne

7:00 PM

ESPNU

Florida

Georgia

7:30 PM

ESPN+

Stephen F. Austin

Nicholls St.

8:30 PM

FS1

Georgetown

Seton Hall

9:00 PM

BTN

Minnesota

Wisconsin

 

 

January 22, 2020

PiRate Ratings College Basketball For January 22, 2020

Spreads For Games Being Played Wednesday

 

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Xavier

Georgetown

2.6

Auburn

South Carolina

10.9

Louisville

Georgia Tech

13.6

Dayton

St. Bonaventure

16.9

Michigan

Penn St.

4.0

Mississippi St.

Arkansas

1.4

Richmond

La Salle

11.7

Rhode Island

Duquesne

4.3

Fordham

George Washington

0.3

Stony Brook

Binghamton

17.9

Hartford

UMBC

4.6

Albany

UMass Lowell

4.7

Notre Dame

Syracuse

3.2

Temple

Cincinnati

0.1

Marist

Manhattan

-4.2

Loyola (MD)

American

0.4

Lafayette

Army

9.7

Boston U

Navy

5.8

Evansville

Drake

-6.1

Chattanooga

Citadel

10.2

Mercer

Western Carolina

-2.0

Furman

Samford

16.3

Maine

Vermont

-15.9

Davidson

Saint Louis

3.3

George Mason

Massachusetts

5.9

Marshall

Western Kentucky

-0.2

Wofford

VMI

11.8

Holy Cross

Lehigh

-3.5

Northwestern St.

Stephen F. Austin

-10.5

Little Rock

Troy

10.0

Incarnate Word

Lamar

-7.1

Nicholls St.

Houston Baptist

16.4

Loyola (Chi)

Indiana St.

5.1

Texas A&M-CC

New Orleans

4.6

SMU

East Carolina

15.3

Bradley

Illinois St.

11.2

SE Louisiana

McNeese St.

-3.5

South Dakota St.

North Dakota St.

3.6

Virginia Tech

North Carolina

5.4

Seton Hall

Providence

11.4

Sam Houston St.

Abilene Christian

5.3

Tulsa

Memphis

-4.5

DePaul

Creighton

0.5

Pittsburgh

Boston College

10.9

Iowa

Rutgers

5.6

Vanderbilt

Alabama

-8.3

Southern Illinois

Northern Iowa

-6.6

Colorado St.

Fresno St.

4.4

California Baptist

Chicago St.

25.3

UC Davis

Cal St. Fullerton

5.1

Long Beach St.

UC Irvine

-9.6

UCSB

Cal St. Northridge

9.9

Nevada

UNLV

5.1

 

 

 

 

 

March 1, 2019

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For Friday, March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

Seed Team Team Team Team
1 Gonzaga Virginia Kentucky Duke
2 Michigan St. North Carolina Tennessee Michigan
3 Houston Purdue LSU Texas Tech
4 Kansas Virginia Tech Marquette Nevada
5 Kansas St. Iowa St. Florida St. Mississippi St.
6 Maryland Wisconsin Baylor Villanova
7 Wofford Cincinnati Louisville Buffalo
8 Ohio St. Florida Syracuse Iowa
9 St. John’s Washington Auburn Oklahoma
10 Ole Miss TCU North Carolina St. Virginia Commonwealth
11 Central Florida Texas Utah St. Temple
12 Alabama/Seton Hall Clemson/Minnesota Belmont Lipscomb
13 New Mexico St. Hofstra Yale Vermont
14 Old Dominion South Dakota St. UC-Irvine Montana
15 Texas St. Radford Drake Wright St.
16 Colgate Sam Houston Texas Sou./St. Francis (PA) Siena/Norfolk St.

 

Last 4 In Alabama Clemson Minnesota Seton Hall
Last 4 Bye Central Florida Texas Utah St. Temple
First 4 Out Arizona St. Butler Georgetown Furman
Next 4 Out UNC Greensboro Dayton Murray St. Memphis

 

Bids By Conference Bids
ACC 9
Big Ten 8
Big 12 8
SEC 8
AAC 4
Big East 4
MWC 2
One-Bid Leagues 25

 

Note: We expect a school other than Washington will win the Pac-12 Conference Tournament and thus allow two Pac-12 teams to go to the NCAA Tournament.  For now, Arizona State has played itself outside the at-large pool after a short stay in the last four in.

We also believe there is a decent chance that a school other than Buffalo might win the MAC Championship.  If this happens, then the MAC will get two teams in the field.

Wofford is most likely going to get in the field whether or not they earn the automatic bid from the Southern Conference.  Should UNC-Greensboro, Furman, or East Tennessee State win the SoCon Tournament over Wofford, then we believe the Terriers will get an at-large bid, giving this league its first ever multi-bid season.

The Ohio Valley Conference could get consideration for two teams if Belmont and Murray State keep winning and meet in the Championship Game of the OVC Tournament.

Should the nearly impossible happen, and Gonzaga loses in the West Coast Conference Tournament, then the WCC will get two bids.  Saint Mary’s could strengthen its at-large hopes if they upset Gonzaga Saturday night.

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2019

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For Monday, February 18, 2019

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 12:11 pm

February 18, 2019

Seed

School

Conf.

1

Gonzaga

West Coast

1

Duke

ACC

1

Virginia

ACC

1

Tennessee

SEC

2

Kentucky

SEC

2

Michigan St.

Big Ten

2

Michigan

Big Ten

2

North Carolina

ACC

3

Purdue

Big Ten

3

Houston

American Athletic

3

Kansas

Big 12

3

Nevada

Mountain West

4

LSU

SEC

4

Marquette

Big East

4

Iowa St.

Big 12

4

Virginia Tech

ACC

5

Louisville

ACC

5

Iowa

Big Ten

5

Texas Tech

Big 12

5

Wisconsin

Big Ten

6

Villanova

Big East

6

Maryland

Big Ten

6

Florida St.

ACC

6

Kansas St.

Big 12

7

Cincinnati

American Athletic

7

Buffalo

Mid-American

7

Auburn

SEC

7

Mississippi St.

SEC

8

Wofford

Southern

8

Washington

Pac-12

8

Baylor

Big 12

8

Ole Miss

SEC

9

TCU

Big 12

9

Texas

Big 12

9

North Carolina St.

ACC

9

Utah St.

Mountain West

10

St. John’s 

Big East

10

Syracuse

ACC

10

Minnesota

Big Ten

10

Central Florida

American Athletic

11

Temple

American Athletic

11

Oklahoma

Big 12

11

Clemson

ACC

11

Ohio St.

Big Ten

11

Seton Hall

Big East

12

Alabama

SEC

12

Butler

Big East

12

Hofstra

Colonial

12

Lipscomb

Atlantic Sun

12

Virginia Commonwealth

Atlantic 10

13

New Mexico St.

WAC

13

Belmont

Ohio Valley

13

Vermont

America East

13

Yale

Ivy League

14

Old Dominion

CUSA

14

South Dakota St.

Summit

14

UC Irvine

Big West

14

Northern Kentucky

Horizon

15

Texas St.

Sun Belt

15

Montana

Big Sky

15

Missouri St.

Missouri Valley

15

Radford

Big South

16

Bucknell

Patriot

16

Sam Houston St.

Southland

16

Rider

Metro Atlantic

16

Texas Southern

SWAC

16

St. Francis (PA)

Northeast

16

Norfolk St.

MEAC

 

First Four OUT

Indiana

Florida

Arizona St.

Furman

 

Next Four Out

Nebraska

Creighton

Davidson

Murray St.

 

Last Four IN

Ohio St.

Seton Hall

Alabama

Butler

 

Last Four BYES

Central Florida

Temple

Oklahoma

Clemson

 

First Four

For the first time this year, we have staggered the seed lines for the First Four games involving the final four at-large bids.  We have one game pitting 11-seeds and another game pitting 12-seeds.  This could change before Selection Sunday.

For your information, the First Four games have mostly  been with 11-seeds, but there have been 12-seeds, and even 13-seeds and 14-seeds earlier in this decade.

Because of the rule that no teams from the same conference can face off in the First Four games, we had to move two teams in the seed line to prevent a conference matchup in Dayton.

11-Seed Line: Ohio State vs. Seton Hall

12-Seed Line: Alabama vs. Butler

16-Seed Line: Rider vs. Norfolk St.

16-Seed Line: Texas Southern vs. Fairleigh Dickinson

 

There are four teams that if they lose in their conference tournament, they will still be an at-large entry, and their conference will improve from one to two bids.

Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference

Washington in the Pac-12 Conference

Wofford in the Southern Conference

Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference

 

There are four other Mid-Major teams that need to be in the discussion by the Selection Committee (in addition to the Mid-Majors already on our Bubble above).

Murray State (or Belmont) in the Ohio Valley Conference

Liberty (or Lipscomb) in the Atlantic Sun Conference

Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference

Toledo in the Mid-American Conference

 

 

 

February 15, 2019

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For Friday, February 15, 2019

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 1:28 pm

February 15, 2019

Seed

SCHOOL

Conf.

1

Duke

ACC

1

Virginia

ACC

1

Tennessee

SEC

1

Gonzaga

WCC

2

Kentucky

SEC

2

Michigan St.

Big Ten

2

Michigan

Big Ten

2

North Carolina

ACC

3

Houston

AAC

3

Texas Tech

Big 12

3

Purdue

Big Ten

3

Nevada

MWC

4

Kansas

Big 12

4

LSU

SEC

4

Marquette

Big East

4

Louisville

ACC

5

Iowa St.

Big 12

5

Wisconsin

Big Ten

5

Villanova

Big East

5

Virginia Tech

ACC

6

Maryland

Big Ten

6

Cincinnati

AAC

6

Buffalo

MAC

6

Iowa

Big Ten

7

Florida St.

ACC

7

Kansas St.

Big 12

7

Mississippi St.

SEC

7

Auburn

SEC

8

Washington

Pac-12

8

Ole Miss

SEC

8

Baylor

Big 12

8

TCU

Big 12

9

Texas

Big 12

9

North Carolina St.

ACC

9

Utah St.

MWC

9

Central Florida

AAC

10

Florida

SEC

10

Oklahoma

Big 12

10

Clemson

ACC

10

Alabama

SEC

11

St. John’s

Big East

11

Ohio St.

Big Ten

11

Syracuse

ACC

11

Butler

Big East

11

Seton Hall

Big East

11

Minnesota

Big Ten

12

Wofford

SoCon

12

Lipscomb

ASUN

12

VCU

Atlantic 10

12

Hofstra

CAA

13

New Mexico St.

WAC

13

Yale

Ivy League

13

Belmont

OVC

13

Vermont

America East

14

Old Dominion

C-USA

14

South Dakota St.

Summit League

14

Northern Kentucky

Horizon

14

UC Irvine

Big West

15

Texas St.

Sun Belt

15

Montana

Big Sky

15

Loyola (Chi)

MVC

15

Radford

Big South

16

Bucknell

Patriot

16

Abilene Christian

Southland

16

Quinnipiac

MAAC

16

Texas Southern

SWAC

16

St. Francis (PA)

NEC

16

Norfolk St.

MEAC

Last 4 Byes

Clemson

Alabama

St. John’s (NY)

Ohio St.

Last 4 In

Syracuse

Butler

Seton Hall

Minnesota

First 4 Out

Indiana

Temple

Seton Hall

UNC Greensboro

Next 4 Out

Florida

Nebraska

Creighton

Davidson

First Four Pairings

Syracuse vs. Seton Hall

Butler vs. Minnesota

Quinnipiac vs. Norfolk St.

Texas Southern vs. St. Francis (PA)

Beginning today, we are using all the same criteria being used by the Selection Committee to pick the bracket the way we believe the Committee will select.  Based on the Committee’s 16-team preview last weekend, we adjusted our bracket to try to mimic their actions.  The major adjustment was increasing the clout of strength of schedules.  Thus, we greatly downgraded all the Mid-Major and Low-Major contenders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 13, 2019

Bubbles Are Boiling

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:16 pm

Five Sundays from today, the NCAA Selection Committee will choose and seed the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament.  At the present time, the Bubble list has begun to emerge with greater clarity.  There are about three dozen teams still competing for at-large bids, and more than half will not get into the Dance.

Some of the teams under consideration will eventually receive automatic bids when they win their conference tournaments.  On the other hand, there could be a few major upsets in the power conference tournaments forcing a bubble to pierce for one of these teams.

Let’s look at the principle boiling bubbles today.  We will let you decide if their resumes warrant bids or warrant bans to the NIT.

Team

Net

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Alabama

44

2-6

6-1

4-2

3-0

Arizona State

72

3-1

4-3

3-1

6-2

Baylor

32

3-5

7-1

1-0

5-2

Belmont

60

3-1

2-1

2-2

11-0

Butler

53

1-7

6-3

4-1

3-0

Central Florida

45

0-2

4-2

7-0

6-1

Clemson

39

2-6

2-2

5-0

6-0

Creighton

57

2-9

3-2

4-0

3-0

Davidson

68

0-2

3-1

6-3

8-0

Florida

42

1-9

3-1

3-1

5-0

Hofstra

51

0-2

0-1

4-1

16-0

Indiana

49

4-8

2-3

1-0

6-0

Lipscomb

30

2-3

2-1

2-0

12-0

Minnesota

58

3-6

4-2

4-0

5-0

New Mexico St.

59

0-1

2-1

8-2

9-0

North Carolina St

37

1-6

5-0

2-1

9-0

Ohio St.

36

4-5

3-2

4-0

5-0

Oklahoma

41

3-8

5-2

7-0

0-0

Ole Miss

35

3-7

3-0

4-0

6-0

Saint Mary’s

50

1-5

1-2

6-3

7-0

San Francisco

52

0-4

1-1

5-1

11-0

Seton Hall

69

2-6

7-1

2-2

3-0

St. John’s

48

4-4

4-1

2-2

8-0

TCU

33

1-7

5-0

7-0

4-0

Temple

55

1-5

5-1

4-1

7-0

Texas

34

4-6

4-4

3-1

3-0

Toledo

54

0-1

2-0

8-3

9-0

UNC Greensboro

46

1-3

1-0

5-0

13-0

Utah State

38

1-2

2-2

4-2

10-0

VCU

43

1-3

2-2

7-1

7-0

Wofford

28

2-4

3-0

4-0

9-0

Yale

62

0-3

1-0

5-1

8-0

 

Team

EFF.

SOS

Rd/Neut

Con

Ovr

Alabama

48

17

6-7

6-5

15-9

Arizona State

63

66

5-4

7-4

16-7

Baylor

34

50

5-4

7-4

16-8

Belmont

64

160

8-3

10-2

19-4

Butler

53

25

4-8

5-7

14-11

Central Florida

50

89

6-3

7-3

17-5

Clemson

31

36

4-6

5-5

15-8

Creighton

49

12

5-6

4-7

13-11

Davidson

75

106

7-6

9-2

18-6

Florida

38

29

5-7

4-6

12-11

Hofstra

67

225

7-4

11-1

21-4

Indiana

45

37

3-7

4-9

13-11

Lipscomb

33

204

9-3

11-0

20-4

Minnesota

56

51

5-6

6-7

16-8

New Mexico St.

54

134

9-3

9-1

20-4

North Carolina St

40

194

5-4

5-6

17-7

Ohio St.

32

49

6-3

6-6

16-7

Oklahoma

42

7

7-6

3-9

15-10

Ole Miss

39

63

7-4

6-4

16-7

Saint Mary’s

44

47

3-8

6-4

15-10

San Francisco

47

121

5-5

6-4

18-6

Seton Hall

66

40

6-6

5-6

14-9

St. John’s

52

57

7-4

6-6

18-7

TCU

37

20

6-5

5-6

17-7

Temple

76

56

8-5

7-4

17-7

Texas

28

3

4-6

6-6

14-11

Toledo

51

126

9-3

8-3

20-4

UNC Greensboro

80

188

10-2

11-1

22-3

Utah State

43

115

8-5

8-3

18-6

VCU

46

54

6-5

8-2

17-6

Wofford

30

133

8-3

13-0

21-4

Yale

72

123

7-4

5-1

15-4

 

Here’s an explanation of each column

Net: This is their official NCAA NET rating, the new and improved formula that supersedes all other, like the RPI.

Q1-Q4: These are the won-loss records for each quadrant.  The Quadrants are broken up into these groups.

Quadrant #

Home

Neutral

Road

Quadrant 1

1-30

1-50

1-75

Quadrant 2

31-75

51-100

76-135

Quadrant 3

76-160

101-200

136-240

Quadrant 4

161-353

201-353

241-353

If you play the #101 team at home, this is a Quadrant 3 opponent.  If you play the #101 team on their floor, this is a Quadrant 2 opponent.  If you host the #50 team, it counts as Quadrant 2, but if you play that team on a neutral floor or on the road, it is a Quadrant 1 game.

EFF.: This is the ranking in total efficiency, which is offensive efficiency combined with defensive efficiency and adjusted for strength of schedule.

SOS: This is the ranking of strengths of schedule for each team.  Keep in mind that the difference between #1 and #50 may be minimal, while the difference between #51 and #100 may be considerably more.

Rd/Neut: This is the combined road and neutral court won-loss records

Con and Ovr: Although not used by the Committee, this is the conference and overall won-loss records for each team for you to look at and decide for yourself if a certain team belongs in the Dance.  We are not 100% convinced that committee members don’t subconsciously let this stat creep into their decision-making process.  If a team finishes four games under .500 in their league while another finishes four game over .500, that four game swing is going to count for something, even if it isn’t supposed to count.

Trying To Think Like A Committee Member

Let’s look at each school on this list.

Alabama

With wins over Kentucky and Mississippi State, the Committee might overlook losses to Northeastern and Georgia State.  Two of the Tide’s non-conference losses are to probable NCAA Tournament teams Central Florida and Baylor.  The Tide sits at 6-5 in the SEC and projects to a 10-8 or 11-7 final mark.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation with possibility of starting in Dayton.

Arizona St.

The Pac-12 surely cannot be limited to just one bid, can it?  The Committee is not supposed to look at this metric, but this is no different than when the judge tells the jury to disregard a remark from a sustained objection in a court room.  Of course, it is remembered.

Arizona State beat Kansas and Mississippi State.  This past weekend, they handed Washington their first Pac-12 loss.  The Sun Devils lost a close game to Nevada.  They also lost at home to Princeton and recently were blown out at home by Pac-12 cellar dweller Washington State by 21 points.  They also lost at SEC last place Vanderbilt by 16, and they barely beat SEC #13 Georgia.

Does the Kansas win and close loss to Nevada do enough for the Sun Devils?  Their NET rating is 72, and their strength of schedule is 66.  In their favor, Arizona State has a winning record away from Tempe.

Verdict: Sorry, nothing in the inbox but some ads for hotels near Madison Square Garden in late March that you probably won’t need.

Baylor

The Bears lost early in the season to some really weak teams in Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin, but the TSU loss may turn out to be to a future NCAA Tournament team.  At 7-4 in the Big 12 with wins over Texas Tech, Iowa State, and TCU, plus a sweep of Oklahoma, Baylor is on the inside as of now.  We project Baylor to finish 10-8 in the league, and with this league’s strength, Coach Scott Drew can sleep peacefully when his team is eventually ousted in the Big 12 Tournament.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation and does not have to make travel arrangements to Dayton.

 

Belmont

Every year, Coach Rick Byrd has his Bruins among consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid, and this year is no different.  Belmont won at UCLA and Murray State, and they swept rival Lipscomb, who is in the top 30 and also in discussion for a potential at-large bid.  Among their losses is to Purdue in West Lafayette, but also among the losses are two to Jacksonville State.

We project Belmont to win out in the regular season to enter the OVC Tournament at 16-2 in the conference and 24-4 overall.  The Bruins will be the mild favorite to win the automatic bid, but Murray State, Austin Peay, and Jacksonville State will have shots as well.  If Belmont lost to Murray in the Championship Game and finished 26-5, the Bruins would have to be part of the at-large discussion.

Verdict: The Bruins need to win the automatic bid and then become a very game 12-seed.  Too many Bubble teams have to fold for Belmont to rise up and secure an at-large bid.  We believe as an automatic bid-winner and #12 seed, the Bruins are equipped with the talent and coaching to win their first tournament game after some near misses.

 

Butler

This Bulldogs team is not in the class with some of their recent NCAA Tournament teams.  A lone Quadrant 1 win came in a neutral contest with Florida, a team which they played a second time a month later and lost by close to 40 points.

The next most impressive victory is a home win over Ole Miss.  Butler’s NET rating of 53 is on the in-out line, but in their favor is a #25 strength of schedule

Verdict: We hear Dayton is lovely in March.  Even if it snows several inches, you will be very happy you got to visit Southwestern Ohio.  It’s an easy 2 hour drive.

 

Central Florida

The Golden Knights beat Alabama and Temple, and they lost to Houston.  UCF should get to 10 wins in the American Athletic Conference, but the Knights need to pull off one big win to solidify their at-large standing against their peers.  UCF will get that chance with games remaining with Cincinnati and Houston.  A sweep of South Florida might also be impressive enough to push them over the top.

Verdict: Hanging on to a First Four bid for now

 

Clemson

The Tigers don’t have many great wins on their schedule.  Their recent upset of Virginia Tech and an earlier win over Lipscomb are the only Quadrant 1 victories.  In their favor, they are 11-0 against Q3 and Q4 combined, so their losses have been to good or great teams.

We project CU to go 8-10 in ACC play, which in most years gets an ACC team into the field, whether it is deserved or not.  Clemson might need one more upset to complete their resume-building.  They certainly need to hold serve against the teams beneath them in the league.  A win tonight at Miami would be mighty.  We think that a win at home over Florida State, North Carolina, or Syracuse would give them all the juice they need.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation and probably not one to Dayton

 

Creighton

The Big East is top heavy with two superior teams and a half dozen good but not great teams.  At 4-7 in league play, the Blue Jays have a lot of work left to do to get onto the upper half of the Bubble.

The one thing keeping Creighton in the discussion currently is the fact that they have played 12 Quadrant 1 games so far and have a top 15 strength of schedule.  However, they are only 2-10 in those games.

Creighton’s next four games are must-win games.  The Blue Jays have to take care of Xavier tonight in Cincinnati and then beat Seton Hall, DePaul, and Georgetown to improve to 8-7 when they travel to Marquette in March.  A 6-1 finish from here would put CU at 10-8 in the league and 19-12 overall, where an opening round win in the Big East Tournament would give the Blue Jays a strong chance to get in.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation only if they meet the parameters set above.  As of today, we’d say their invitation would be to host a game in the NIT.

 

Davidson

Bob McKillop is one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball.  While Davidson has an exceptional history of greatness thanks to what legendary coach Lefty Driesell did 50 years ago, those were different times.  Driesell recruited four or five players as good as Stephen Curry, and he brought Davidson to the top five of the rankings in 1964, 1965, 1968, and 1969.  McKillop inherited a mess when he took over this program that was coming off a 24-loss season plus the transfer of their one good player.  He’s now led the Wildcats for 30 seasons!

Of course, none of this means anything to the Selection Committee.  Davidson’s resume is iffy at this point, and without an automatic bid, it looks like a slim possibility.  Their only quality win to date is a home game victory over conference co-contender Virginia Commonwealth.  This is their only win against a top 100 team, and it came at home.  Unless they face VCU in the Conference Tournament, they will face just one other top 100 team the rest of the way.  The stars just don’t align for the Wildcats this year.

Verdict: They better win the automatic bid or plan on playing in the NIT, CBI, or CIT

 

Florida

Coach Michael White is underachieving in Gainesville, and, following in the footsteps of Billy Donovan, could find his seat heating up quickly if the Gators miss out on this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Florida’s schedule is the only reason why at 4-6 in the SEC and 12-11 overall that they are still in consideration as an at-large team.  The Gators are looking at 8-10 in the league and 16-15 overall.  With that record, they will have to win at least three SEC Tournament games to even be in the final discussion.

Verdict: One of the biggest disappointments of the season does not receive an NCAA bid and may not receive an NIT bid either

 

Hofstra

Make no bones about it, Hofstra is not a real at-large candidate.  However, we wanted to list the Pride here to show you their resume.  At 21-4, the Pride has no Q1 or Q2 wins.  They are 16-0 against Q4, and their strength of schedule ranks 225.  We wanted to show them to you so you can compare them with the other Mid-major teams on this list.  We could have also shown you UC-Irvine, a team in a similar boat with Hofstra, while Wofford, UNC Greensboro, Belmont, and Lipscomb have some tiny at-large hopes.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation only if it is automatic

 

Indiana

This was supposed to be a much better year in Hoosierland, and like his brother Sean, Archie Miller has come under fire.  IU was supposed to contend with the Michigan schools and Purdue for the Big Ten title.  Instead, the Hoosiers find themselves mired in a tenth place tie in the Big Ten at 4-9/13-11.

Indiana has the bare minimum criteria to squeak in as a fortunate bubble team.  Their NET rating is just under 50, and most power league teams in the top 50 get into the field.  Their strength of schedule is 37, and this is okay for any major conference team on the bubble.  Their efficiency rating is also okay at 45, not great but adequate enough for a Big Ten team.

With 12 Quadrant 1 games and wins in four of those contests, the Hoosiers have proven they can compete at the top of the game.  Of their seven remaining games, five are against tough opponents, and Indiana needs to win two of those five games and four overall to enter the Big Ten Tournament not needing to win three games to feel comfortable about getting an at-large bid.

Verdict: At the present time, we have them as the #68 team in the field, and they would be slotted to go to Dayton, where they might have to play Butler. What a rivalry game played close enough for the fans to make the commute by car!

 

Lipscomb

The Atlantic Sun Conference is mid-major at best and borders on low-major status, but Florida Gulf Coast proved this league has the ability to send teams to the Sweet 16.

Lipscomb made its first NCAA Tournament appearance last year and scared North Carolina for a half.  This Bisons team is better than last year, and the former NAIA superpower might be talented enough to replicate what FGCU did earlier in the decade.

Lipscomb has played five Q1 games, all on the road and won twice, once against TCU.  They have no bad losses, going 14-0 against Q3 & Q4.  Among their losses is a four-pointer at Louisville.

If Lipscomb beats Liberty tonight in Nashville to complete the season sweep, they will almost assuredly win out to finish 16-0/25-4 before hosting all their conference tournament games.  It would take a lot to not be the automatic qualifier, but in the event they lost to Liberty in the finals, they would be 27-5 with a lot of positives on their resume.

Verdict: The Bisons are a very likely automatic qualifier, but if they were 27-5, it would take a lot of statistics-bending to exclude them from the at-large pool.  However, we have faith that the Selection Committee would find ways to ship Lipscomb to the NIT in favor of the ninth place team in the ACC or 10th place team in the Big Ten or even the fifth best Big East team, or even TCU who lost at home to this Lipscomb team.

 

Minnesota

Richard Pitino, Saul Phillips, Murray Bartow, and Bryce Drew know what it is like to have fathers that enjoyed long, successful careers in college basketball.  They also know what it is like to have their team’s fanatics wishing that those great coaches had created daughters rather than sons.  Pitino is on very thin ice in Minneapolis, and the Gophers must make the Big Dance if Pitino is to stay employed in the Cities in 2020.

The Gophers are in 8th place in the Big Ten with a 16-8 record overall.  This is just enough to meet the minimum for a Big Ten team.  Their NET rating is 59, which is right on the line for average lowest rating that gets in.  Three Quad 1 wins and a 5-6 record away from home gives the Gophers a decent shot at making the field.

Minnesota’s closing schedule could cinch their bid or kill their chances.  Their more winnable games are on the road, and the tougher opponents must come to Minneapolis.  Tonight’s game at Nebraska could be a bell-weather contest.  A loss might open the door for another bubble team to step up and pass the Gophers.

Verdict: For now, we believe the Selection Committee would send the Gophers an Invitation and even allow them to avoid the First Four.  However, a 3-4 finish to give UM a 9-11 mark in the league and 19-12 overall might put Minny on the wrong side of the Bubble if they lost their first Big Ten Tournament game.  Pitino loses his job if UM misses the Dance.

 

New Mexico St.

New Mexico State is not getting an at-large bid, even if the Aggies win out until the WAC Championship Game and then lose to Grand Canyon or Cal St. Bakersfield by one point in overtime.

Let’s look at their resume.  They lost at Kansas by three points, and that was their only Q1 game.  Even had they beaten Kansas by three, their resume is too thin with just one Q1 game.

NMSU is just one spot behind Minnesota in the NET Ratings, and the Aggies are 9-3 away from Las Cruces.  However, their strength of schedule rates at number 134, and we learned from the top-16 seed reveal last week just how much this year’s Committee valued strength of schedule.

Verdict: No At-large chance, but we believe this team could be 30-4 when they win the WAC’s automatic bid.  Coach Chris Jans has overcome a lot of adversity to resurrect his career.  NMSU will be a dangerous 12 or 13 seed.

 

North Carolina St.

Kevin Keatts is one of our favorite basketball coaches.  We are in high regard of his ability to evaluate talent and alter his schemes to best exploit opponent weaknesses and utilize his talent.  Even that embarrassing oops loss to Virginia Tech does not alter our opinion.  Keatts is a Final Four coach of the future, be it here or some place else.

This Wolf Pack team is not going to advance very far in the NCAA Tournament, but they will almost definitely receive a bid based on their results so far.

When an ACC team has a top 40 NET rating, they are going dancing.  NCSU is presently #39.  The Wolf Pack currently has a winning record away from Raleigh.

All is not peachy though with their resume.  Their Strength of Schedule is an unheard of for an ACC team #194, because they played six of the bottom 34 teams in Division 1, including the two weakest of all.  State only has one Q1 win all year, a home victory over Auburn which looks less impressive now than it did then.

The Pack can easily finish the regular season on a 5-2 sprint to a 10-8 regular season conference record, which gets an ACC team an at-large bid better than 95% of the time.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation as one of the last teams in that do not play in the First Four

 

Ohio St.

The Buckeyes really should not be in this discussion.  The only reason why we include them here is that they still need to avoid a total collapse.  At 6-6/16-7, if OSU goes 3-5 down the stretch, they will get into the field.

Road wins over Cincinnati, Indiana, and Creighton are impressive enough already, but we see the Buckeyes finishing no worse than 4-4 and possibly 5-3 to make their selection quite easy.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Oklahoma

Can a team that is 3-9 in their conference really be in the hunt for an at-large bid?  Oklahoma certainly hopes so, and thanks to the Big 12’s overall concentration of power, the Sooners do have a legitimate chance to get into the Field of 68 with a conference mark no better than 7-11.

In OU’s favor is a schedule that faced no Q4 teams and just seven Q3 teams.  Oklahoma went 7-0 in those games.  Their overall strength of schedule is #7, which means that a winning overall record is going to be enough to give them a chance.

Oklahoma has six games remaining prior to the league tourney, and if they go 3-3 with one of those wins coming against Kansas, and then they win their first Big 12 Tournament game, the Sooners will be in good enough shape to expect great things on March 17.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation if they go 3-3 plus one Big 12 Tournament win

 

Ole Miss

Ole Miss is 16-7, and all seven of their losses came to Q1 teams!  They have three Q1 wins, including one on the road against Mississippi State.

A 35 NET rating and 39 Efficiency rating makes their resume complete.  At this point, Ole Miss is competing for a 7 or 8 seed and not needing to worry about missing out on the Dance, unless they totally collapse.  Coach Kermit Davis has done an incredible job in his first year in Oxford.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Saint Mary’s

The Gaels have received an at-large bid in the past, but they also beat Gonzaga in the past.  This year, it appears out of reach, and a 11-5/22-12 final record (the best possible without beating Gonzaga, is most likely to fall short of the minimum needed criteria.

Verdict: SMC is going to have to beat Gonzaga to have any chance, and most likely, that win will have to come in the finals of the WCC Tournament, which would then give the Gaels the automatic bid and Gonzaga an at-large bid at the expense of another team on this list.

 

San Francisco

At one time earlier this year, USF looked like a potential at-large team.  A 13-point loss at home to Gonzaga followed by losses at Saint Mary’s and San Diego, basically necessitated winning at Gonzaga to have a real chance.  The Zags ran the Dons off the floor, ending USF’s at-large possibilities.

Verdict: No bid unless USF pulls off the upset and wins the West Coast Tournament Championship.  We cannot see USF beating Gonzaga, but if the Dons earn the #2 or #3 seed in the conference tournament, while BYU earns the #4 seed, then the Dons could hope that the Cougars upset Gonzaga, giving them a chance to knock off BYU for the automatic bid.

 

Seton Hall

Seton Hall is in a similar boat to Butler and Creighton in the up and down Big East race.  The Pirates have some pluses and some minuses in their quest to get a bid.

On the plus side are wins over Kentucky and Maryland, but countering those two great Q1 victories are losses at home to St. Louis and DePaul.  Three of their Q1 losses were by five points or less, and they have only played seven games against Q3 & Q4 teams.

With a 69 NET Rating, the Pirates need to improve their standing in the last five weeks.  The schedule is quite tough with the top two Big East teams (Villanova and Marquette) still on the schedule, and the Hall has road games with Creighton, St. John’s, and Georgetown.  We expect SHU to enter the Big East Tournament at 7-11/16-14, and the Big East is not strong enough for a team with fewer than 10 conference wins or nine with a couple of conference tournament wins to get in.

Verdict: Looks like they will be disappointed on Selection Sunday without an upset of Marquette or Villanova and a 9-9 Big East record

 

St. John’s

St. John’s is only a half-game in front of Seton Hall, but their resume might as well be 20 games ahead.  The Red Storm have played a much tougher schedule this year, and schedule strength appears to be very important, just behind NET Ratings, with the Committee.  Sweeps of Marquette and Creighton with their worst loss coming against DePaul gives SJU a strong shot at making the field.  Add a 7-4 record away from home, and the Red Storm would have to collapse to miss out this year.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation, probably an 8 or 9 seed

 

TCU

Like Ole Miss, all of TCU’s losses have come to Quadrant 1 teams.  They are 16-0 against all others.  A 33 NET rating and 20 Strength of Schedule Rating puts the Horned Frogs well up into the good graces of the Selection Committee.

TCU should be no worse than 9-9 in the Big 12, and when a league is as strong up and down as this one, the 9-9 team always gets into the field.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Temple

When a top 10 team has just one loss all year, the team that beat them gets added oomph in their resume.  Temple gave Houston their only loss so far this year.  The Owls lost their other five Q1 games to date.

Temple’s NET Rating is 55, which puts them on the Bubble for sure.  Their Strength of Schedule is 56, which is at the bottom of the allowed SOS for an at-large team.  An 8-5 record away from home (7-4 away from the City of Brotherly Love) makes their criteria smack dab in the hunt as one of the final teams in our highest teams out.

Temple can go 5-2 the rest of the regular season to finish at 12-6 in the league.  With a win in the AAC Tournament, that would give the Owls at least 23 wins, and that would leave them exactly where they are now–in the middle of the discussion between teams number 67 and 70.  A win at South Florida this weekend would really help.

 

Texas

The Longhorns have the worst record of teams that appear to be in good shape with the Selection Committee.  At 6-6/14-11, UT still has work to do just to guarantee a plus .500 record.  They have played the third toughest schedule in the nation, and they own wins over North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor.

Add a 34 NET Rating and 28 Efficiency Rating, and Texas only needs to get enough wins down the stretch to guarantee an at-large bid.  A 9-9 Big 12 record does the trick.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Toledo

The PiRate Ratings are big fans of the Mid-Major conferences that have been around for decades, and the MAC is one of those leagues.  Toledo was really good back in the late 1960’s when Steve Mix played for the Rockets prior to starting in the NBA.  Success has been limited for Toledo on the hardwoods since then.

This Toledo team has no chance of securing an at-large bid, and with a 30-point loss to Buffalo, it is hard to see them getting revenge in the championship game of the MAC Tournament.  Still, we include them in this write-up, because the MAC Tournament is always competitive, and the top-seeded team loses in it more than the average conference.

Toledo is one of three or four teams that could upset Buffalo, although this year’s Buffalo team has all the tools to sweep the regular season and conference tournament.  However, if Buffalo loses, then obviously another team must win the automatic bid, while Buffalo bursts a Bubble for another team as a certain at-large team.

A 9-3 record away from home makes this a dangerous team in Cleveland.  Toledo will waltz into Cleveland as the number one seed from the West Division, so Buffalo will have to beat two others before the Rockets will have to glare at the Bulls in a possible title game.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation only bid winning automatic bid, but Buffalo still gets in if they lose the MAC Tournament

 

UNC Greensboro

This is a team no favorite from a power conference will want to see in a potential Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game.  UNCG is a tough matchup, and the Spartans have a unique style that is hard to prepare for on a couple day’s notice.

With a 46 NET Rating, UNCG is worthy of an at-large bid if they were to win out all the way to the Socon Championship Game and lose a close one to Wofford.  The Spartans are 10-2 away from Greensboro, but their issue is a schedule that is rated 188 (which is still ahead of North Carolina State).

If UNCG is to earn enough respect to be in the at-large pool, the Spartans must win their two big games this week.  They play at Furman tonight, and then meet Wofford in Spartanburg Saturday.  If UNCG wins out but loses in the SoCon Championship Game, they will be 30-4 and in the mix for one of the last four bids.

 

Utah St.

With a 38 NET Rating and 43 Efficiency Rating, Utah State should be in the almost safe range for an at-large bid, but the Aggies are still on the outside looking in thanks to a strength of schedule rated 115.  Utah State has seven regular season games left, and if they win out, they will enter the MWC Tournament at 15-3/25-6.  Most importantly, if they win out, it will mean the Aggies beat Nevada.  The boys from Reno come to Logan on March 2.  USU almost has to win that game to have any serious at-large chances, but they also have a chance to win the automatic bid in the tough Mountain West.  Nevada won the MWC last year and failed to make the tournament title game as the number one seed, so history could repeat.

Verdict: We believe the Aggies deserve an at-large bid as of today, and for now we will give the Selection Committee the benefit of the doubt in realizing that they deserve to be in

 

Virginia Commonwealth

At the current time, we actually have VCU as the likely automatic bid winner from the Atlantic 10, ahead of Davidson, but we included the Rams here to show you how close they are to qualifying as an at-large team.

VCU has a 43 NET Rating, 54 Strength of Schedule, and 46 Efficiency Rating.  This is already better than some of the other teams thought to be among the last four in and first four out.  They have a 6-5 record away from home and won at Texas.  They suffered narrow losses to Virginia and St. John’s.

We project VCU to finish 15-3 in the A-10 and 24-7 overall in the regular season.  If they lose in the conference tournament and finish 26-8, the Rams will be in the mix for an at-large bid.

Verdict: We believe VCU has the best chance of winning the A-10 Tournament and the automatic bid, but if they lose in the Championship Game, the Rams still have a chance depending on how many Power Conferences have major upsets or if teams like Buffalo and Nevada lose in their conference tournaments

Wofford

If we told you that an anonymous team was ranked 28 in the NET Ratings with the number 30 Efficiency Rating, and with a 20-point road win at the number four team in the SEC, and with four losses all year to North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma, you might reply that Auburn or Texas Tech will obviously make the NCAA Tournament, guessing from the information given that one of these two teams must be that anonymous team.

Mention Wofford to 99% of the general college basketball fandom public, and you are very likely to hear such fanatic tell you that they will be another one of those first round 25-point losers to some Big Ten team.

Wofford and UNC Greensboro both probably belong in the NCAA Tourmament.  Unfortunately, one of these two are likely to be team number 69, 70, 71, or 72.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation if they earn the automatic bid

 

Yale

There has never been an at-large Ivy League team, and there isn’t going to be one this year, even if Yale is probably better than a couple of teams seriously on the Bubble.

The Bulldogs’ best win is a neutral court victory over Miami of Florida.  Their resume won’t get them an at-large bid.  We project the Bulldogs to go 12-2 in the Ivy League to earn the top seed in the four-team tournament.  We also project Yale to win the Tournament to finish 24-5, where they will earn no better than a 13 seed and possible a 14 seed.  At 13, there are multiple potential 4 seeds that could be uspet by this Yale team.

 

February 19, 2016

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For February 20-21, 2016

They are in the stretch.  In less than two weeks, the first conference tournaments will begin, and three weeks from Sunday, we will know which 68 teams will play meaningful games into the third week of March.

Before we look at this weekend’s Red, White, and Blue ratings’ selections, let’s take a closer look at “The Bubble.”

As of today, we estimate that 24 teams are currently part of “The Bubble.”  Of those 24 teams, 14 of them are currently listed as “in the Dance,” and 10 are listed as NIT-Bound.

There is a catch here.  The good side of The Bubble tends to shrink as conference tournament play continues.  Whereas some teams play their way onto The Bubble and into the discussion, the number of available places for Bubble teams shrinks when a team not in the discussion gets hot and wins an automatic bid, reducing the number of spots for teams in the gray area.

As a for instance, let’s say that North Carolina State upsets three teams and wins the ACC Tournament this year.  The Wolf Pack would obviously receive an automatic bid, while the other big ACC teams already considered in the field but not as a Bubble team also receive bids.  This causes one Bubble team that is listed as in to be bumped to see their bubble burst.

Here is a look at our 24 Bubblers, showing which 14 would be drinking at the Dance bubbler today.

If you don’t know what a bubbler is, ask somebody from Wisconsin.

Team Conf. Overall RPI Vs. T50  Vs.T100 Rd RPI L12 Seed Weekend
Connnecticut 9-4 19-7 36 3-3 7-7 21 9-3 7 at Cincinnati
Providence 7-7 19-8 37 2-5 8-5 13 5-7 7 OFF
Syracuse 8-6 18-9 39 5-6 7-8 43 8-4 8 vs. Pitt.
Colorado 8-6 19-8 33 3-7 7-8 38 7-5 8 at UCLA
Pittsburgh 7-6 18-7 41 2-5 5-7 5 6-6 9 at Syracuse
Wisconsin 8-5 16-10 48 4-5 8-6 24 8-4 9 vs. Illinois
Seton Hall 8-5 18-7 44 1-4 7-7 41 7-5 10 at St. John’s
Michigan 9-5 19-8 54 1-3 8-8 42 7-5 10 at Maryland
Oregon St. 6-7 15-9 32 6-5 8-9 60 5-7 10 at Oregon
Texas Tech 6-7 16-9 28 5-7 7-8 61 5-7 11 at Okla. St.
Cincinnati 9-5 19-8 60 3-4 5-7 34 8-4 12 Vs. U Conn
Temple 10-3 16-9 66 4-5 6-7 96 9-3 12 at Houston
Butler 7-7 18-8 58 2-6 6-7 28 7-5 12 at Villanova
Alabama 7-6 16-9 30 4-5 7-8 35 7-5 12 vs. Miss. St.
Tulsa 9-5 17-9 45 2-4 6-8 55 9-3 1st out at Cent. Fla.
Clemson 9-5 16-10 89 5-5 7-7 99 8-4 2nd out vs. N. C. St.
Saint Mary’s 12-3 21-4 67 0-1 4-2 97 9-3 3rd out at Gonzaga
Florida St. 6-8 16-10 61 2-7 7-10 68 6-6 4th out at Va. Tech
LSU 9-4 16-10 81 3-5 6-7 50 7-5 5th out at Tennessee
Vanderbilt 7-6 15-11 62 3-7 4-9 75 7-5 6th out vs. Georgia
St. Bonaventure 9-4 17-7 49 2-2 4-5 71 8-4 7th out at Dayton
Geo. Washington 8-5 19-7 46 2-3 4-4 76 7-5 8th out at U Mass
Creighton 8-6 17-10 83 2-6 4-9 77 7-5 9th out OFF
Washington 7-7 15-11 73 5-5 10-12 53 5-7 10thout vs. Stanford

 

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, February 20, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Louisville Duke 3 4 6
North Carolina Miami (Fla.) 6 6 3
Syracuse Pittsburgh 6 5 7
Virginia Tech Florida St. -3 -3 -5
Clemson North Carolina St. 4 5 2
Georgia Tech Notre Dame -2 -1 -4
Texas Baylor 5 6 5
West Virginia Oklahoma 4 4 6
Kansas St. Kansas -5 -2 -7
Iowa St. TCU 17 18 15
Oklahoma St. Texas Tech -1 -2 -2
Georgetown Xavier -4 -3 -8
DePaul Marquette -2 -5 -3
Villanova Butler 11 10 12
Rutgers Penn St. -6 -7 -4
Nebraska Ohio St. 3 1 2
Indiana Purdue 5 3 6
Washington Stanford 7 7 8
Oregon Oregon St. 10 8 11
UCLA Colorado 5 3 2
South Carolina Florida 2 2 3
Vanderbilt Georgia 8 6 3
Alabama Mississippi St. 6 6 7
Auburn Ole Miss -4 -5 -3
Tennessee LSU 1 1 3
Texas A&M Kentucky 1 3 -3
Arkansas Missouri 10 10 8
Gonzaga Saint Mary’s 6 6 6

 

Games Scheduled for: Sunday, February 21, 2016
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Wake Forest Boston College 9 10 8
St. John’s Seton Hall -12 -14 -15
Maryland Michigan 3 8 9
Wisconsin Illinois 11 11 10
USC Utah 6 6 5
Washington St. California -9 -10 -6

February 29, 2008

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Basketball Conference Races–February 29, 2008

 

A PiRate Look at the NCAA Basketball Conference Races

Through Games of Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bracket Buster weekend has now come and gone, and it cleared up a little while creating some more questions.  Kent State and Davidson probably earned themselves at-large bids if they fail to garner automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments.  Drake was probably already guaranteed a spot, but they solidified it by winning against Butler.

Now we come down to the final games of regular season play.  Some conferences begin their tournament play as early as this Tuesday, March 4, so starting next week, this blog will begin to cover conference tournament play as well as finishing up the conference races for leagues that begin tournament play the following week.

To explain what you are about to read, the terms used (Locks, In Good Shape, On the Bubble, Can Still Get There) refer to the teams’ receiving at-large invitations to the NCAA Tournament (plus the team.  Obviously, every team, except those already eliminated in the Ivy League race and the Independents, can still get there if they win their conference tournament.

This week, if you count the number of likely bids, the minimum comes to 60 after being 67 just two weeks ago.  We all know that only 65 teams will be chosen on Selection Sunday, and there are always a small to moderate amount of upsets in the conference tournaments.  Therefore, as of now, no bubble teams should be considered safe.

Enjoy!  Before you know it Selection Sunday will be here-it’s just a little more than two weeks away.  I’ll bet you can hear the “Road to the Final Four” music in your head as you read this.

America East
Likely Bids:

1

Locks:

None

In Good Shape:

None

On the Bubble:

None

Can Still Get There:

None

Tournament: March 7-9 @ Binghamton, NY
Current Leaders

Conf.

Overall

Maryland-Balt. Co.

13-2

21-7

Hartford

9-6

15-15

Albany

9-6

14-14

Boston U.

9-6

13-15

Vermont

8-7

14-14

Binghamton

8-7

13-15

Key Games This Weekend

SATURDAY
Binghamton at Stony Brook
SUNDAY
UMBC at Hartford
Boston U at Albany
Maine at Vermont

Maryland-Baltimore County has won the regular season title and will be the top-seed in the America East Tournament.  Hartford plays UMBC in the final game on Sunday.  The Hawks narrowly lost by one at UMBC and have to be considered a co-favorite in the tournament, even after losing at Boston last night.  Host Binghamton has not shown this year that their home floor has much advantage.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Likely Bids: 5, 6, or 7
Locks: Duke, North Carolina, Clemson
In Good Shape: Maryland
On the Bubble: Va. Tech, Wake Forest, Miami
Can Still Get There: Florida State
Tournament: March 13-16 @ Charlotte, NC
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
North Carolina 11-2 26-2
Duke 11-2 24-3
Clemson 8-5 20-7
Maryland 8-6 18-11
Virginia Tech 8-6 17-11
Miami-FL 6-7 19-8
Wake Forest 6-7 16-10
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
North Carolina at Boston College
Duke at North Carolina State
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech
Virginia at Miami
SUNDAY
Clemson at Maryland

North Carolina and Duke both have the talent to make it to the Elite 8 if not the Final Four.  The Tar Heels are the top rebounding team in the nation, and rebounding strength is possibly the number one statistic that shows how well and how deep a team can go in the NCAA Tournament.

There is still a dogfight among four or five teams for the final two at-large spots, although Maryland might have earned one of those spots with a win at Wake Forest last night.  A win at home over Clemson Sunday puts the Terps in the Dance.

Virginia Tech can probably earn their way in with a home win against Wake Forest Tuesday night.  If Miami defeats Virginia Saturday and then takes care of business against Boston College next Wednesday (both at home), the Hurricanes will all but be a shoo-in.  A win at Florida State would be icing on the cake.  Speaking of Florida State, the Seminoles can only work their way into the discussion by winning at North Carolina Tuesday and at home against Miami next Saturday.

Atlantic Sun
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 5-8 @Nashville (Lipscomb)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Belmont 13-2 21-8
Jacksonville 12-3 16-11
East Tennessee 10-5 17-12
Stetson 10-5 15-15
Gardner-Webb 9-6 15-14
Lipscomb 8-7 14-15
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Gardner-Webb at Belmont
Jacksonville at Stetson
East Tennessee at South Carolina Upstate
Campbell at Lipscomb

With Belmont’s win over Campbell last night, the Bruins clinched the top seed in the A-Sun Tournament.  Lipscomb hosts the tournament, and the Bisons are finishing the season on a huge upswing.  Unfortunately for the fans, it looks like they will be the #5-seed, so they would possibly face Belmont in the semifinals.  Two years ago, Belmont edged Lipscomb in overtime to earn their first NCAA Tournament, forcing Lipscomb to play in the NIT.  The Bisons would love to get revenge this year, but it wouldn’t be in the final game.

Jacksonville, East Tennessee, Stetson, and Gardner-Webb all have enough talent to win the league tournament.  All it takes is a hot shooting hand and smart play.

This should be an exciting conference tournament, but you have to favor Belmont winning their third consecutive tournament.

Atlantic 10
Likely Bids: 2 or 3
Locks: Xavier
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: St. Joe’s
Can Still Get There: U Mass.
Tournament: March 12-15 @ Atlantic City, NJ
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Xavier 12-1 24-4
St. Joseph’s 8-5 17-9
Richmond 8-5 15-11
Temple 8-5 15-12
LaSalle 8-5 14-13
U Mass. 7-6 18-9
St. Louis 7-7 16-12
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
George Washington at Xavier
U Mass at Richmond
St. Bonaventure at St. Louis
SUNDAY
Temple at St. Joseph’s

This race cleared up in the last week.  Xavier is already in the Big Dance.  If the Musketeers win the A-10 Tournament and St. Joe’s loses before the final round, this league may get just one team in.  However, I expect U Mass to win out to finish the regular season 10-6/21-9.  If the Minutemen then advance to the semifinal round of the tournament, they will be high on the bubble come Selection Sunday.  I would go ahead and count them in if they have 22 or more wins.

All other teams can only punch their dance card by earning the automatic bid.

Big East
Likely Bids: 7 or 8
Locks: G’town, Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, Marquette
In Good Shape: Pittsburgh
On the Bubble: West Virginia
Can Still Get There Syracuse, Villanova, Seton Hall
Tournament: March 12-15 at Madison Square Garden, New York City
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Georgetown 13-3 23-4
Louisville 13-3 23-6
Connecticut 11-4 22-6
Notre Dame 11-4 21-6
Marquette 11-5 21-6
West Virginia 9-6 20-8
Pittsburgh 8-7 20-8
Cincinnati 8-7 13-14
Villanova 7-8 17-10
Syracuse 7-8 17-11
Seton Hall 7-8 17-11
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Georgetown at Marquette
West Virginia at Connecticut
Pittsburgh at Syracuse
Seton Hall at St. John’s
SUNDAY
Villanova at Louisville
Notre Dame at DePaul
Providence at Cincinnati
MONDAY
Pittsburgh at West Virginia

From number one to number 11, the Big East is the best league in the NCAA.  Numbers 12 through 16 are rather weak.  In the Big East, only the top 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament, and it should be a hard-fought, aggressive get-together.  The top five teams are safe and will get invitations to the Field of 65 regardless of what happens from this point on.  At least two and possibly three more teams will get at-large bids.

Pitt has two tough road games this weekend; a win in either game will put them over the top.  West Virginia may need to beat Pitt to have any chance. 

Syracuse and Seton Hall are the two desperate teams.  The two play each other in New Jersey next Wednesday night with the loser being eliminated from the at-large discussion.  The winner will have to win at least one additional regular season game and get to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.  I think Jim Boeheim will get his Orangemen there.

Big Sky
Likely Bids:

1

Locks:

None

In Good Shape:

None

On the Bubble:

None

Can Still Get There:

None

Tournament: March 8, 11-12 @ Regular Season Champion
Current Leaders

Conf.

Overall
Portland St. 12-2 19-9
Northern Arizona 10-5 19-10
Weber St. 9-6 14-13
Montana 8-7 14-14
Idaho St. 8-7 11-17
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Portland State at Montana
Idaho State at Northern Arizona
MONDAY
Weber State at Sacramento State

This is definitely just a one-bid league, so the conference tournament champion will be the only NCAA Tourney team.  Portland State will be hosting the tournament, and the Vikings have not only won all seven conference home games to date, they have done so by an average score of 82-70.   Last night, they won at Montana State 96-68, so you have to consider the Vikings prohibitive favorites to win the automatic bid.

Montana and Weber State gave Portland State fits in Portland.  It will be interesting to see how PSU fares at Montana tomorrow.

You cannot overlook Northern Arizona.  If they can edge Idaho State in Flagstaff Saturday, the Lumberjacks will enter the tournament on a five-game winning streak, and Portland State might have to beat them a third time to win the automatic bid.

Big South
Likely Bids: 1
Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 4-6-8 1st rd. and finals at higher seeds, semi-finals at #1 seed
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Winthrop 10-3 19-10
UNC-Asheville 9-4 20-8
High Point 7-6 15-13
Coastal Carolina 6-7 14-13
VMI 6-7 14-13
Liberty 6-7 14-15
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
UNC-Asheville at Winthrop
High Point at VMI
Charleston Southern at Coastal Carolina
Radford at Liberty

It’s not like a win over Davidson would have moved Winthrop up into at-large consideration, but the loss may have lasting effects on the Eagles.  With UNC-Asheville coming to town Saturday, Winthrop better be ready to play.  This game will decide the conference championship; in the Big South, the champion can stay at home throughout the conference tournament.

VMI is in a three-way tie for fourth place, and a win over High Point could earn them the number three seed.  The Keydets are my dark horse team to get hot and compete for the tournament title.  They lead the nation in scoring and force a lot of turnovers with their full-court pressure.  In tournament situations, players on this type of team rarely come out tight and frequently pull off more than one upset.  Look for VMI to sneak into the Big South Final.

Big 10
Likely Bids: 4 or 5
Locks: Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan St.
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: Ohio State
Can Still Get There: Minnesota
Tournament: March 13-16 @ Indianapolis, IN
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Wisconsin 14-2 24-4
Indiana 13-2 24-4
Purdue 13-2 22-6
Michigan State 10-5 22-6
Ohio State 8-7 17-11
Minnesota 7-8 17-10
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Northwestern at Purdue
Ohio State at Minnesota
SUNDAY
Indiana at Michigan State

I’ve had to take one definite bid away from the Big 10 this week.  Ohio State has dropped three games in a row and five out of their last seven.  The Buckeyes are now back on the bubble.  If Minnesota beats OSU in Minneapolis tomorrow, the Gophers will move into a fifth place tie.

Wisconsin’s win over Michigan State last night in Madison puts the Badgers in the driver’s seat for the regular season title.  UW finishes with Penn State and Northwestern and should beat them both.  Indiana must play at Michigan State, where the Spartans are just 16-0 this year.  Purdue still has to play at Ohio State in what will more than likely be a must-win game for the Buckeyes.

I cannot see any of the bottom five teams posing a serious threat at the Big 10 Tournament.  On the other hand, the top four teams all have serious liabilities, so a Michigan, Illinois, or Penn State could pull off a quarterfinal upset.

Big 12
Likely Bids: 5 or 6
Locks: Kansas, Texas
In Good Shape: Texas A&M, Kansas State
On the Bubble: Oklahoma
Can Still Get There: Baylor, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma State
Tournament: March 13-16 @ Kansas City
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Texas 11-2 24-4
Kansas 10-3 25-3
Kansas St. 8-5 18-9
Texas A&M 7-6 21-7
Baylor 7-6 19-8
Nebraska 6-7 17-9
Oklahoma 6-7 18-10
Oklahoma State 6-7 15-12
Texas Tech 6-7 15-12
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Texas at Texas Tech
Kansas State at Kansas
Oklahoma at Texas A&M
Missouri at Baylor
Nebraska at Oklahoma State
MONDAY
Texas Tech at Kansas

                       

Texas ran the table in February with an 8-0 record.  If the Longhorns can ease past Texas Tech in Lubbock tomorrow, with remaining home games against Nebraska and Oklahoma State, the ‘Horns should enter Big 12 Tournament play with an 11-game winning streak.

There’s a big fight going on for the fifth spot.  While there could still be a sixth team invited, only five are definite.  Baylor has home games with Missouri and Texas A&M and a road game at Texas Tech left on their schedule.  A 2-1 finish would give them the fifth spot, but the Bears have lost six of nine games.  There’s no guarantee they will win two more games.

Nebraska and Oklahoma State are the two hot teams from among the middle of the pack.  They face off in Stillwater tomorrow, and the winner will have an excellent shot of replacing Baylor for the fifth spot should the Bears continue to slide.

Oklahoma is very much still in the race.  The Sooners must play at Oklahoma State Wednesday night.  If OU beats Texas A&M tomorrow and then adds a win over the Cowboys, then they could move to the upper third of the bubble. 

Big West
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 12-15 @ Anaheim, CA
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Cal St. Northridge 11-2 19-7
Cal St. Fullerton 10-4 18-8
UC-Santa Barbara 9-4 20-7
Pacific 9-5 19-9
UC-Irvine 7-6 13-14
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Cal State Northridge at UC-Irvine
Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton
UC-Riverside at UC-Santa Barbara
Cal Poly at Pacific

I expect this to be one remarkable conference tournament.  Only one team will make it to the Dance, and there are four fairly good teams in the Big West.  If the top four make it to the semifinal round, the final three games will be well worth the price of admission.

Cal State Northridge probably wrapped up the first seed last night when they won at Fullerton.  The Matadors have excellent balance with five players averaging double figure points per game, and unlike many mid-major teams, they can hold their own on the boards against the big conference teams.

Colonial Athletic
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: None
In Good Shape: Virginia Commonwealth
On the Bubble: George Mason
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 7-10 @ Richmond Coliseum (VCU)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Virginia Commonwealth 14-3 22-6
George Mason 12-5 20-9
UNC-Wilmington 11-6 18-12
William & Mary 10-7 14-14
Old Dominion 11-6 17-13
Delaware 9-8 13-15
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
V C U at William & Mary
George Mason at Northeastern
Old Dominion at UNC-Wilmington
Delaware at Towson State

In the past week, one team played their way into an at-large bid, one team played themselves into the NIT if they don’t win the conference tournament, and another team may have established themselves as the team to beat for the automatic bid.

Virginia Commonwealth won at Akron in the Bracket Buster, and the Rams have now won 19 of their last 22 games.  With an RPI rating in the mid-40’s, they stand an excellent shot of getting an at-large bid.

George Mason fell to Ohio in the Bracket Buster, and the Patriots needed a crucial road win.  Now, GMU must win the CAA Tournament to get in.

Old Dominion has won six consecutive games including a win at VCU.  The Monarchs close out the regular season tomorrow at UNC-Wilmington.  If they beat the Seahawks, ODU has to be considered the tournament co-favorite with VCU.  VCU hosts the tournament.

Conference USA
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: Memphis
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: Houston
Can Still Get There: UAB
Tournament: March 12-15 @ Memphis
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Memphis 13-0 27-1
Houston 10-3 21-6
UAB 10-3 20-8
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Memphis at Southern Miss.
Houston at East Carolina
Tulane at UAB

Memphis has been a lock for some time.  Houston and UAB have been slowly moving up in the RPI ratings and both are in the mix as March approaches.  Both teams are looking at 12-4 conference records, but it might take a 13-3 mark plus one or two wins to secure an at-large spot.

Should Memphis fall in the C-USA Tourney, it will hurt someone like Syracuse or Oklahoma.

Horizon
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: Butler
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: Wright St.
Tournament: March 4, 7, 10-11 Quarter & Semifinals at top seed & Finals at higher seed
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Butler 15-2 26-3
Wright St. 12-5 20-8
Cleveland St. 11-6 19-11
UW-Milwaukee 8-8 13-14

Key Games This Weekend

SATURDAY
Detroit at Butler
Wright St. at Valparaiso
Cleveland St. at Youngstown St.
Illinois-Chicago at UW-Milw.

Butler lost in the Bracket Buster, but the Bulldogs are still locks for the NCAA Tournament.  Wright State’s slim at-large hopes were dashed in Normal Sunday in a loss to Illinois State and stamped void when Butler beat them last night.

Cleveland State has pulled out of a nosedive that saw the Vikings drop five consecutive games.  CSU has now won five of six with the one loss coming at Butler by five points.  The Vikings are probably the only team capable of knocking off Butler in Indianapolis.

Ivy
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: Cornell
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: None, bid goes to regular season champion
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Cornell 10-0 18-5
Brown 7-3 15-9
Columbia 6-4 13-12
Penn 5-4 10-16
Key Games This Weekend
FRIDAY
Dartmouth at Cornell
Princeton at Brown
Harvard at Columbia
Penn at Yale
SATURDAY
Harvard at Cornell
Penn at Brown
Dartmouth at Columbia

Cornell hasn’t won an Ivy League Championship in 20 years, but the Big Red will do so this weekend when they sweep Dartmouth and Harvard.  Cornell will be a tough first-round match as a #13 or #14 seed.  They can shoot the three, and they can punish an opponent if they get to the foul line, where they connect on almost 80%.

Metro Atlantic
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 7-10 @ Albany, NY (Siena)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Loyola (Md.) 12-5 18-12
Niagara 11-5 18-8
Rider 11-5 19-9
Siena 11-5 17-10
Fairfield 10-6 13-14
Marist 9-7 15-13
Key Games This Weekend
FRIDAY
Niagara at Siena
St. Peter’s at Rider
Manhattan at Fairfield
Iona at Marist
SUNDAY
Canisius at Niagara
Fairfield at Rider
Siena at St. Peter’s
Loyola at Marist

It won’t earn the league a second invitation, but you have to give the MAAC the award for best showing in the Bracket Buster.  Niagara won at Appy State, Rider won at Cal State Northridge, Siena won at Boise State, Loyola beat UC-Davis, and Fairfield won at Drexel.  There are no MAAC teams with RPIs in the top 80, so it’s a moot point.

The final weekend of the schedule favors Rider and Siena finishing in a first place tie with Niagara and Loyola finishing one game back.  Siena hosts the conference tournament, but the Saints have performed better on the road in the MAAC this year; they are only 4-3 in league play heading into their big game with Niagara tonight.

Mid-American
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: None
In Good Shape: Kent State
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: Ohio
Tournament: March 12-15 @ Cleveland
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
East
Kent State 11-2 23-5
Akron 9-4 19-8
Ohio U 8-5 18-9
Miami 7-6 13-13
West
Western Michigan 10-3 17-10
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Kent State at Bowling Green
Buffalo at Akron
Ohio U at Miami (O)
Western Michigan at Toledo

Kent State pulled off the Bracket Buster coup by knocking off St. Mary’s.  Now, the Golden Flashes are in excellent shape of garnering an at-large bid if they don’t win the conference tournament.

MEAC
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 10-15 @ Raleigh, NC
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Morgan St. 12-2 18-9
Norfolk St. 10-3 14-12
Delaware St. 9-5 12-14
Hampton 8-5 15-11
North Carolina A&T 8-5 14-13
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Morgan State at Delaware St.
Norfolk State at Hampton
N.C. A&T at Howard
MONDAY
Norfolk State at Howard
N.C. A&T at Hampton

The schedule wasn’t kind to Norfolk State.  The Spartans finish the season with five straight road games, for which they have already lost the first two of those games.

That’s good news for Morgan State, as the Golden Bears are closing in on the conference championship.  Of course, that will only guarantee MSU an NIT bid if they fail to win the conference tournament, but that’s better than nothing.

When the league tournament tips off in Raleigh, I think there are at least eight teams with some shot at winning the thing.

Missouri Valley
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: Drake
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: Illinois State
Can Still Get There: Southern Illinois, Creighton
Tournament: March 6-9 @ St. Louis
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Drake 14-3 24-4
Illinois St. 12-5 21-8
Southern Illinois 11-6 17-12
Creighton 9-8 19-9
Bradley 9-8 17-13
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Wichita State at Drake
Illinois State at Southern Illinois
Bradley at Creighton

Drake is the conference champion and is already assured of an NCAA Tournament bid, but I don’t believe the Bulldogs are the favorite to win the MVC Tournament.  I believe Southern Illinois will win the automatic bid and give the Valley two teams in the Dance.

SIU has won five games in a row by an average margin of victory of 13.2 points.  They thoroughly dismantled Nevada in the Bracket Buster, and they are the best team in the league right now.

Illinois State is on the edge of becoming at-large worthy.  Should the Redbirds pull off the upset of SIU in Carbondale, their RPI could very well move up enough to give them a 50-50 shot of getting an at-large bid.

Mountain West
Likely Bids: 2 or 3
Locks: BYU
In Good Shape: UNLV
On the Bubble: New Mexico
Can Still Get There: San Diego St.
Tournament: March 12-15 @ Las Vegas
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Brigham Young 11-2 22-6
UNLV 10-3 21-6
New Mexico 9-5 22-7
San Diego St. 8-6 18-10
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Air Force at BYU
TCU at UNLV
Colorado State at San Diego State

BYU finally had their winning streak snapped at San Diego State, but the Cougars bounced back and pulled off a big road win at New Mexico.  That was enough to move them up to “lock” status.

UNLV will secure a top spot on the bubble just by winning their two remaining home games.

New Mexico needed to defeat BYU to have even a remote at-large chance.  The Lobos can only get into the Field of 65 by earning an automatic bid.

Northeast
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 6-9-12 @ Higher Seed
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Robert Morris 15-2 24-6
Wagner 14-3 21-7
Sacred Heart 13-4 16-12
Quinnipiac 11-6 15-13
Mt. St. Mary’s 10-7 14-14
Central Conn. St. 9-8 13-15
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Robert Morris at Long Island
Quinnipiac at Wagner
Monmouth at Mt. St. Mary’s
SUNDAY
Central Conn. St. at Sacred Heart

Robert Morris has now won 12 games in a row after knocking off Sacred Heart in Fairfield last night, getting some revenge.  As NEC Champions, the Colonials get to host the conference tournament, but they fell in Coraopolis to Sacred Heart.  Don’t expect a repeat performance if they meet again this year.

Wagner should get a call from the NIT if the Seahawks don’t win the league tourney.

Ohio Valley
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 4, 7-8 1st rd at higher seeds, semifinals and finals at Nashville
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Austin Peay 15-4 20-10
Murray St. 12-7 16-12
Morehead St. 12-7 15-13
UT-Martin 11-8 16-14
Eastern Kentucky 10-9 14-14
Samford 10-9 14-14
Tennessee Tech 10-10 13-18
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Austin Peay at Morehead State
UT-Martin at Murray State
Tennessee State at Eastern Kentucky
Samford at E. Illinois

Austin Peay clinched the OVC regular season title last night by winning at Eastern Kentucky.  The Governors will now host an opening round OVC Tournament game against the number eight seed Tuesday night, as only eight of the 11 teams  make the OVC Tournament.  It looks like Tennessee State will be that number eight seed and make the 50-mile trip from Nashville to Clarksville.

  

Pac-10
Likely Bids: 6 or 7
Locks: UCLA, Stanford, Washington St.
In Good Shape: Southern Cal
On the Bubble: Arizona St., Arizona
Can Still Get There: Oregon, Cal, Washington
Tournament: March 12-15 @ Los Angeles Staples Center
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
U C L A 13-2 25-3
Stanford 12-3 23-4
Washington St. 10-6 22-6
Southern Cal 9-6 18-9
Arizona St. 7-8 17-10
Arizona 7-8 17-11
Oregon 6-9 15-12
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Washington State at Stanford
Southern Cal at Arizona State
Washington at Cal
SUNDAY
UCLA at Arizona
Oregon at Oregon State

UCLA and USC began their weekend trip through the Grand Canyon State last night with the Bruins destroying Arizona State and the Trojans surprising Arizona.  With Stanford taking care of business at home against Washington, the Cardinal stay just one game behind UCLA, while the Huskies are now just fighting for an NIT berth.

Oregon must win at Oregon State and then probably beat both of the Arizona schools in Eugene next weekend to get on the bubble.

Cal’s loss to Washington State last night ended any chance for the Bears to get an at-large bid. 

This is one league where the leaders have a great chance to advance to the championship game of the conference tournament.  Look for a UCLA-Stanford final at the Staples Center, unless USC gets hot.  The Trojans have the talent to win three games in three days.

Patriot
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 5-9-14 at Higher Seed
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
American 9-4 17-11
Navy 9-4 16-12
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Lafayette at American
Navy at Colgate

                       

A Navy win at Colgate tomorrow gives the Midshipmen the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament.  With the top seed comes the privilege of having home court advantage throughout the tourney.  Navy finished the regular season with just a 4-3 home conference record, and one of those losses was at the hands of Colgate.

Waiting in the wings is American.  The Eagles fell twice to Navy, so they would be the second seed if they finish tied with the Middies.

There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between third and eighth place in this league, and it’s possible that all six could finish tied at 6-8.  In a league where all conference tournament games are played on the home court of the higher seed, the officials at Patriot League headquarters could be burning the midnight oil trying to determine the seedings.

Southeastern
Likely Bids: 5 or 6
Locks: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi St.
In Good Shape: Florida, Kentucky
On the Bubble: Arkansas
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 13-16 @ Atlanta
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
East
Tennessee 11-2 24-3
Kentucky 10-3 16-10
Vanderbilt 9-4 24-4
Florida 8-5 21-7
West
Mississippi St. 10-3 19-8
Arkansas 7-6 18-9
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Vanderbilt at Arkansas
Mississippi State at Florida
SUNDAY
Kentucky at Tennessee

The big news here is the story of the Volunteer State.  Tennessee handed Memphis their first loss and moved to number one in the nation only to lose three days later at Vanderbilt.  That win was the black and gold’s seventh in a row, and it moved the Commodores up to “Lock” status.

Mississippi State joined the Volunteers and Commodores as locks when the Bulldogs picked up their 10th conference win Wednesday night.  The Bulldogs have two tough road games at Florida and at Vandy before closing out at home against LSU.  Even at 11-5, the maroon and white should be safe as West Division Champions.

Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas still have some work to do.  The Wildcats have 10 conference wins, and that will probably get them into the Big Dance, as no SEC team has ever been left out with 10 conference wins.  If UK can upset the big orange in Knoxville Sunday, the blue mist will be atop the league standings once again.  If the Wildcats lose to UT, they still can get into the Dance with a win at South Carolina and a home finale victory over Florida.

The Gators are probably one win away from being safely in the Field of 65.  A win over Mississippi State tomorrow will do the trick, but if they lose that game, the defending national champs could be in a bit of trouble with closing road games at Tennessee and Kentucky.  At 8-8, Florida would have to win at least two games in the conference tournament to be in good shape.

Arkansas is the team of desperation.  At 7-6, they must win at least two of their final three regular season games and then win at least once in the conference tournament.  The Razorbacks host Vanderbilt tomorrow and couldn’t ask for a better time to play this game, just after the Commodores beat Tennessee.

Southern
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: Davidson
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 7-10 @ Charleston
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
North
Chattanooga 12-7 17-12
Appalachian St. 12-7 17-12
UNC-Greensboro 11-8 17-11
South
Davidson 19-0 22-6
Georgia Southern 13-6 20-10
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Chattanooga at Elon
Western Carolina at Appy State
Davidson at Georgia Southern
MONDAY
Western Carolina at UNCG

I’ve been waiting in anticipation the past few weeks for the Davidson-Georgia Southern match in Statesboro.  So has GSU, and they overlooked Charleston in a five-point loss last night.  If Davidson can beat the Eagles, then they will have earned an at-large bid to the Dance.  Of course, if the Wildcats can win this game, there really isn’t much hope that anybody can beat them in the conference tournament.

Southland
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: Stephen F Austin
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 12-16 @ Katy, TX (Houston suburb)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
East
Lamar 12-1 18-8
Northwestern St. 8-6 12-16
West
Stephen F. Austin 11-2 23-3
Sam Houston 8-5 20-6
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Lamar at McNeese State
Southeast La. At Northwestern State
UT-Arlington at SFA
Texas State at S. Houston

I’ve moved Stephen F. Austin up to the bubble and added a possibility of the Southland getting two teams.  The Lumberjacks have an RPI rating in the upper 40’s, and that’s good enough to be considered.  Of course, in order to keep the RPI that high, SFA needs to win out in the regular season.  One loss could burst the bubble.  Their final three games are very winnable.  Of note, SFA leads the nation in fewest points allowed.

Lamar is actually the Southland leader.  Their lone conference loss came by six points at SFA.  The Cardinals have won 11 games in a row, but their resume fails to include any decent out of conference victories.

SWAC
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 11-15 @ Birmingham, AL
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Alabama St. 11-3 15-9
Jackson State 9-5 11-16
Miss. Valley St. 9-6 11-15
Arkansas Pine Bluff 8-7 12-14
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Alabama State at Texas Southern
Mississippi Valley St. at Jackson State
Ark.-Pine Bluff at Grambling
MONDAY
Alabama State at Prairie View
Ark.-Pine Bluff ay Jackson St.
Mississippi Valley at Grambling

Alabama State lost at home to 22-loss Alcorn State!  It’s ashamed that a team from this league is going to be one of the 65, when there is a much better Independent that will be staying home.  The NCAA should add a rule allowing the top Independent to replace a conference champion if the conference in question has a lower overall RPI rating than the Independents.  The SWAC is most definitely weaker than the Independents this year. 

And if a 20-loss team comes out of this league as the automatic qualifier, even the play-in game will be a joke, unless a second weak team sneaks in as well.  Imagine someone like UT-Martin playing Alcorn State or Prairie View in the play-in; it would be over by the first TV timeout.

Alabama State could do everybody a favor by winning out and dominating in the tournament in Birmingham.

Summit
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: Oral Roberts
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 8-11 @ Tulsa (Oral Roberts)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Oral Roberts 16-1 21-7
IUPUI 14-3 23-6
Oakland 10-7 15-13
IP Ft. Wayne 9-8 12-16
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Oral Roberts at North Dakota State
Western Illinois at IUPUI
Oakland at Mo.-KC
IPFW at Southern Utah

ORU couldn’t finish off Creighton in the Bracket Buster, so now they are on the lower half of the bubble.  Chances are this league will receive just one bid even if someone beats the Golden Eagles in the conference tournament.

After stinking up the gym at Oakland, IUPUI recovered to handle IPFW and Chicago State on the road.  That gives the Jaguars 10 wins in their last 11 games.

Oakland is an improving team with an improving offense as the season comes down the stretch.  Until losing at Southern Utah last night, the Golden Grizzlies had won six of eight games. 

Sunbelt
Likely Bids: 1 or 2
Locks: None
In Good Shape: South Alabama
On the Bubble: Western Kentucky
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 5-11 @ Mobile, AL (S. Ala.)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
East
South Alabama 15-2 24-5
Western Kentucky 15-2 23-6
Middle Tennessee 10-7 13-14
West
Arkansas-Little Rock 10-7 18-10
Louisiana Lafayette 10-7 14-14
North Texas 9-8 18-10
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Western Kentucky at Fla. Atlantic
South Alabama at Fla. Int’l.
Troy at Middle Tennessee
North Texas at New Orleans
UALR at UL-Monroe
Denver at UL-Lafayette

South Alabama has an at-large bid in their grasp if they need it, but since the Jags host the Sunbelt Tournament, I don’t think they will need it.  As for Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers could win at FAU and then advance to the Sunbelt finals, losing to USA, and they would be left out of the Big Dance at 26-7. 

West Coast
Likely Bids: 2 or 3
Locks: St. Mary’s, Gonzaga
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 7-10 @ San Diego
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
St. Mary’s 11-1 24-4
Gonzaga 11-1 22-6
San Diego 9-3 16-13
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
St. Mary’s at Gonzaga
Pepperdine at San Diego
MONDAY
St. Mary’s at Portland
Santa Clara at Gonzaga
Loyola Marymount at San Diego

The top two teams are already in the Big Dance, but even so, the Gonzaga-St. Mary’s game Saturday is the Game of the Week.  I expect Gonzaga to win at home, and that will give them the regular season WCC Title unless they lose at home to Santa Clara Monday.

If neither St. Mary’s nor Gonzaga win the WCC Tournament, this league will send three teams to the NCAA Tourney.

WAC
Likely Bids:

1

Locks: None
In Good Shape: None
On the Bubble: None
Can Still Get There: None
Tournament: March 11-15 @ Las Cruces, NM (New Mexico St.)
Current Leaders Conf. Overall
Boise State 11-3 21-7
Nevada 10-4 18-10
Utah State 9-4 20-9
New Mexico St. 9-4 16-13
Hawaii 7-6 11-15
Key Games This Weekend
SATURDAY
Boise State at Hawaii
New Mexico State at Fresno State
La. Tech at Nevada
MONDAY
Fresno State at Utah State

This has been a rather weak year in the WAC, and the league will only send the conference tournament champion to the Field of 65.  No team currently has an RPI rating higher than 80.

Until last night, New Mexico State was the hot team.  The Aggies had won five consecutive games until falling to Nevada in Reno.

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