The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 14, 2011

2011 PiRate NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

3. Which teams are capable of winning it all?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

First Four Round

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Texas-San Antonio 64  Alabama State 55

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Clemson 74  UAB 67

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Southern Cal  65  V C U  60

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: UNC-Asheville 69  Arkansas-Little Rock 59

 

 

Second-Round Games

 

East Regional

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Ohio State 78  Texas-San Antonio 50

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: George Mason 66  Villanova 62

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Kentucky 72  Princeton 59

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Xavier 71  Marquette 65

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

This one smells like a blowout.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 81  Indiana State 62

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Washington 78  Georgia 70

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: North Carolina 88  Long Island 70

 

West Regional

 

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

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Duke 81  Hampton 61

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Tennessee 74  Michigan 69

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Arizona 76  Memphis 69

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Texas 77  Oakland 65

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Cincinnati 68  Missouri 65

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Connecticut 73  Bucknell 58

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Penn State 59  Temple 56

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: San Diego State 73  Northern Colorado 51

 

Southwest Regional

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Kansas 90  Boston U 62

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: U N L V  72  Illinois 64

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Vanderbilt 70  Richmond 67

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Louisville 78  Morehead State 62

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Purdue 73  St. Peter’s 56

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Texas A&M 73  Florida State 65

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction:  Notre Dame 81  Akron 57

 

Southeast Regional

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Prediction: Old Dominion 72  Butler 70 in overtime

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Kansas State 70  Utah State 63

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Belmont 74  Wisconsin 70

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 74  St. John’s 66

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Brigham Young 75  Wofford 63

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Michigan State 64  UCLA 60

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prediction: Florida 76  U C S B  54

 

 

 

Our Bracket

 

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

 

Third Round Winners

Ohio State over George Mason

Kentucky over West Virginia

Syracuse over Xavier

North Carolina over Washington

Duke over Tennessee

Texas over Arizona

Connecticut over Cincinnati

San Diego State over Penn State

Kansas over UNLV

Louisville over Vanderbilt

Purdue over Georgetown

Notre Dame over Texas A&M

Pittsburgh over Old Dominion

Kansas State over Belmont

Gonzaga over Brigham Young

Florida over Michigan State

 

Sweet 16 Winners

Ohio State over Kentucky

Syracuse over North Carolina

Texas over Duke

San Diego State over Connecticut

Kansas over Louisville

Purdue over Notre Dame

Pittsburgh over Kansas State

Florida over Gonzaga

 

Elite 8 Winners

Ohio State over Syracuse

Texas over San Diego State

Kansas over Purdue

Pittsburgh over Florida

 

Semifinal Winners

Ohio State over Texas

Kansas over Pittsburgh

 

National Championship

Kansas over Ohio State

August 18, 2010

2010 Pac-10 Football Preview

Go to www.piratings.webs.com where we beat the spread 60.4% in 2009!

 

2010 Pac-10 Conference Preview

Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott attempted to shake the college football world in June by luring Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado to form the Pac-16.  Instead, he had to settle for just CU and Utah.

Southern California made more headlines after the football season than during it, and they continued to stay in the news all summer.  After being placed on major probation, the Trojans will not be eligible for the postseason.  They lost several players who were allowed to become eligible immediately at other schools.  It cost Athletics Director Mike Garrett his job.

Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks before this all came to a head.  So, who is the honest-to-a-fault replacement?  Who is the guy that has been hired to run a clean program?  LANE KIFFIN!  Yes, the ex-Oakland Raiders coach, who left Alameda County in a cloud of controversy.  The ex-Tennessee Volunteers coach, who left the Vols looking at possible probation.  He brings Ed Orgeron with him.  Is the death penalty still an option in football?

USC is out of the bowl picture, and now the league will need six bowl eligible teams other than the Trojans to fulfill their contractual agreements.  This league is so balanced; any of the top seven teams could win the conference championship.  The Oregon Ducks lost Jeremiah Masoli, and still the PiRate Computer shows them to be the most powerful team in the nation in week one.  That aside, we cannot see Oregon, or any other Pac-10 team running the table in conference play, and we believe that two losses will earn a piece of the title.

Note: The PiRate Ratings are not meant to be used to predict the outcome of future games.  They are usable only as a basis for the current week’s games.  We do not use these ratings to make our selections.  They are only a starting point.  The predictions given below, as for every college conference and NFL division, are not taken from the ratings themselves.

Predictions

Pos Team P10 W-L
1 Oregon 7-2 10-2
2 Arizona 7-2 10-2
3 Oregon State 6-3 7-5
4 California 6-3 9-3
5 Southern Cal 5-4 8-5
6 Stanford 5-4 7-5
7 Washington 4-5 6-6
8 U C L A 4-5 5-7
9 Arizona State 1-8 3-9
10 Washington State 0-9 1-11

 

BCS (Rose) Bowl: Oregon

Alamo Bowl: Arizona

Holiday Bowl: California

Sun Bowl: Washington

Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Oregon State

 

 

Team By Team Breakdown

Team Arizona Wildcats
               
Head Coach Mike Stoops
               
Colors Cardinal and Navy
               
City Tucson, AZ
               
2009 Record              
Conference 6-3
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 116.0
               
National Rating 21
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-2
Overall 10-2

 

Offense: The biggest loss on this side of the ball is offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, who took over at Louisiana Tech.  Arizona couldn’t move the ball until Dykes brought the “Air Raid” offense to Tucson in 2007.

The Wildcats have two very capable quarterbacks.  Starter Nick Foles led ‘Zona to the brink of the Pac-10 Championship last year, coming up just short in overtime against Oregon.  Foles passed for 2,486 yards and 19 scores and should post better numbers this year.  Backup Matt Scott is a dual-threat runner-passer.  He forces opponents to prepare for two different game plans.

Coach Mike Stoops can call on multiple players to line up at receiver.  He can go with two tight ends or no tight ends and has talented choices both ways.  Juron Criner led the ‘Cats with 582 receiving yards, and he will get plenty of help from David Douglas, Bug Wright, and tight ends A.J. Simmons and David Roberts.

The Wildcats used a trio of backs last year and should continue to split the carries.  Keola Antolin led with 637 on the ground and caught 17 short passes. Nic Grigsby added 567 yards with an eye-popping 7.2 yard average.

A senior-dominated offensive line should continue to open running holes and protect the passers.  Arizona surrendered just 13 sacks in 2009.  Center Colin Baxter earned 1st Team All-Pac-10 honors last year, and he should be an early draft pick next Spring.

Can Arizona continue their dominance on this side of the ball without Dykes calling the plays?  We say they can.  Look for the Wildcats to score 26-30 points and gain 375-400 yards per game.

Defense: Stoops loses his defensive coordinator as well; his brother Mark went to Florida State.  He also loses seven starters, including his top four tacklers.  The biggest concern is at linebacker, where there will be three new players in the starting lineup.  Two of the projected starters were junior college players last year, and the third saw limited action here.  None of the graduated players were top caliber, so the drop in production could be minimal.

The front line should be quite good.  Ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed return to anchor the perimeter.  Elmore finished third in the league with 10 ½ sacks. 

The secondary returns a 1st Team All-Pac-10 performer in cornerback Trevin Wade.  Wade led the team with five interceptions and nine passes broken up.

The Wildcats are expected to take a small step backward on this side of the ball, but we believe the defense will regress less than the offense improves.  Arizona may control the clock more in an attempt to help the defense.  Look for 21-24 points and 300-325 yards allowed, or about the same as last season.

Schedule: Outside of league play, Arizona has one easy game, one difficult game, and one interesting game.  They start off at Toledo on Friday night, September 3.  The Rockets will test the new defense.  They host The Citadel the following week, and they should light up the scoreboard.  The following week, Big Ten contender Iowa visits Arizona Stadium. 

The Wildcats face Oregon in Eugene and Stanford in Palo Alto.  We could see Stoops and company coming up one game short again this season, but win double-digit games, as long as the defense gels.

Team Arizona State Sun Devils
               
Head Coach Dennis Erickson
               
Colors Maroon and Gold
               
City Tempe, AZ
               
2009 Record              
Conference 2-7
Overall 4-8
               
PiRate Rating 99.0
               
National Rating 62
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 1-8
Overall 3-9

 

Offense: The Sun Devils suffered through consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1946-47, and if they don’t right the ship this year, it could be the end for Coach Dennis Erickson.  After starting his ASU tenure at 8-0, he has gone 11-18 since.

A lack of offense has been the reason for the decline in Tempe.  With just three starters returning on this side of the ball, it could spell doom for State this year.  They lost their top runner, top passer, and top two receivers, so you have to consider this a rebuilding season.

The Sun Devils will switch to a no-huddle, wide-open offense under first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.  Piloting that attack could be one of three players.  Former Michigan quarterback Steven Threet was thought to be the front-runner, but Brock Osweiler and Samson Szakacsy are battling for the starting nod.  Look for Erickson to use Szakacsy as a running threat off the bench, and we believe Threet will open as starter.

There will be a two-man platoon at running back as well.  Cameron Marshall should start.  He rushed for just 280 yards and two touchdowns last year as the top reserve.  True freshman Deantre Lewis will get a hard look at supplanting Marshall.  He will see action right away.

Keeping with the program, ASU will rotate receivers, because they have several decent but no great pass catchers.  Kerry Taylor and Gerell Robinson are the two most experienced receivers, but they combined for just 49 catches and 537 yards.

The offensive line took a beating with the unexpected loss of loss of guard Zach Schlink to a career-ending knee injury.  Backup guard Jon Hargis was already out with an ACL injury, so there is going to be some depth issues in the line.  Center Garth Gerhart is the only experienced lineman left.

With a new offense and several new players, it looks grim for the Sun Devils this year.  We don’t believe they can improve on last year’s mediocre numbers.  Call it 17-21 points and 300-325 yards per game this year.

Defense: Things don’t look much better on this side of the ball, as ASU lost five of their top six tacklers, including most of their best pass defenders.  In a pass-happy league, this spells trouble.

Arizona State needs a spectacular pass rush this year, and they have two excellent tackles that could fit the bill.  Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola combined for 8 ½ sacks.  End James Brooks has the potential to be a pass rushing stud, and we believe he will lead the Devils in sacks this year.

Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is nursing a bad ankle in August practice, but he should be ready for the season.  He is the only returning starter to the linebacking unit.  Burfict is strong against both the run and pass.

The secondary was one of the best in the league last year, holding opposing quarterbacks to just 53% completions and 189 yards.  All four starters are gone (combined for six interceptions and 18 passes broken up).  Former starter Omar Bolden returns to his cornerback spot after missing 2009 with an injury.  The other projected saw action last year, so the fall-off shouldn’t be severe.

Arizona State gave up just 21 points and 298 yards per game last year, which would have been good enough for a 9-3 record with a decent offense.  Expect those numbers to suffer some this year.  We’ll call for 23-26 points and 320-340 yards allowed per game.

Schedule: The Sun Devils will go 2-1 outside of the Pac-10.  They host Portland State and Northern Arizona, and they play at Wisconsin.  In conference play, they fortunately host Washington State; that is their only sure win in the league.  They get two bye weeks in conference play, so a road game against Cal and home game with UCLA following those bye weeks will give the coaching staff time to come up with solid plans.  Maybe, they can get one more conference win, but we cannot see ASU sniffing bowl eligibility this year.

Team California Golden Bears
               
Head Coach Jeff Tedford
               
Colors Blue and Gold
               
City Berkeley, CA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 5-4
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 112.5
               
National Rating 31
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-3
Overall 9-3

 

Offense: Coach Jeff Tedford has consistently put together well-balance, high-scoring offenses in Berkeley.  His Bear teams average 30 points per game year in and year out.  He has an experienced quarterback, a running back sure to top 1,000 yards rushing, and a stable of excellent receivers.  His offensive line is talented and very experienced.  So, it is easy to be optimistic about this season’s attack side.

Quarterback Kevin Riley won’t challenge the league’s top passers in passer rating, total yards, or touchdown passes, but the senior knows how to move his team.  Expect Riley to pass for 3,000 yards this year.

The Bears lost Jahvid Best who went to the NFL a year early.  Best was injured last year, and Shane Vereen took his place in the lineup for the last four games.  He finished the season with 952 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 25 passes.  Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson will get some touches as well.  In limited action last year, he averaged 6.8 yards per rush.

Marvin Jones and Jeremy Ross will not team to catch 150 passes, but both can get open deep and burn a secondary for a quick score.  Tight end Anthony Miller is one of the top three at his position in the Pac-10, and he should improve on his 26 receptions of 2009.

The offensive line returns four starters that have combined for 70 career starts.  Tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Matt Summers-Gavin form a great pair of outside blockers.

Cal should top last year’s offensive averages by a little.  Tedford’s teams usually score 28-33 points per game, and we will go for 31-35 this year with 400+ yards of total offense per game.

Defense: The Bears were too generous on this side of the ball last year, and it led to a conference average of 28 points allowed.  Six starters return, but there are enough holes on this side to keep Cal from contending for a top 10 finish.

The Bears switched to a 3-4 defense last year, and the front seven performed well against the run.  Even with 31 sacks, the pass defense gave up almost 270 yards per game.

Up front, two starters return to the three-man trench.  Nose tackle Derrick Hill controls the middle and commands more than one blocker to move out of the way.  You won’t see his name high up in the defensive stats, but he deserves an assist every time the inside linebackers get in on a stop.  End Cameron Jordan dumped quarterbacks six times last year, and he will have to step it up with the departure of Tyson Alualu, a first round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Linebackers Mike Mohamed and Mychal Kendricks return after finishing one-two in tackles a year ago (combined for 183).  Both proved dangerous against the run and dropping off into the underneath pass zones.

The secondary was a weak point in 2009, and two starters must be replaced.  Cal picked off just 11 passes, but they knocked away several.  Unfortunately, the top pass defenders have moved on.  Safety Sean Cattouse intercepted one pass and broke up three; he leads the group this season.

Cal just doesn’t have enough talent on this side of the ball to consistently stop the great offenses in this league.  Look for the Bears to surrender 25-28 points and 375-400 yards.

Schedule: Cal should go 3-0 before league play begins.  The Bears host UC Davis and Colorado before jogging over to Reno to take on Nevada in what should be a great game.  Road games with Arizona, USC, and Oregon State will be tough, and home games with Oregon, Stanford, and Washington won’t be easy.  We’ll call for a 6-3 conference mark and 9-3 overall.  In a wild season, 6-3 could actually challenge in the wild Pac-10.

Team Oregon Ducks
               
Head Coach Chip Kelly
               
Colors Green and Yellow
               
City Eugene, OR
               
2009 Record              
Conference 8-1
Overall 10-3
               
PiRate Rating 126.2
               
National Rating 1
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-2
Overall 10-2

 

Offense: Is it possible that the Ducks can contend for the national championship after booting Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremiah Masoli off the team?  The PiRate computer says the Ducks are the number one team on September 1 (*–see note at the end about why the PiRate Ratings are used for just the next week of the season and are not meant to be used to look forward).

Second year head man Chip Kelly had to deal with the loss of a key weapon after one game last year and found an even better replacement.  Tailback LaMichael James rushed for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns after LeGarrette Blount opted for a boxing career that lasted one punch.  James could carry the ball 300 times this season and threaten the 2,000 yard mark if there wasn’t such great depth here.  True freshman Lache Seastrunk and sophomore Kenjon Barner could top 1,000 yards rushing if they either was the starter.  Look for the Ducks to top 200 yards, maybe 250, on the ground this season.

Making the running game all the more powerful is the return of the entire starting offensive line.  It is the best run-blocking line in the league and ranks with Ohio State and Wisconsin as one of the best run-blocking fronts in college football.  Both guards, Mark Asper and Carson York, should make either 1st or 2nd Team All-Pac-10.  Tackle Bo Thran will do so as well.

Filling the big shoes of Masoli will not be easy, but Kelly has two talented possibilities.  Pure drop back passer Nate Costa has worse knees than Joe Namath, but the senior has started and won in the Pac-10 before.  Sophomore Darron Thomas has the tools to be another Masoli, but he has to learn to cut down on mistakes.

Whoever starts at quarterback will have a decent group of receivers on hand.  D.J. Davis, Lavasier Tuinei, and Jeff Maehl all return after starting last season and combining for 100 receptions.  Oregon will use more play-action passes this year, and we expect the yards per catch to increase.

It looks like another big year on this side of the ball for the Ducks.  We think they can top 40 points per game, but we believe Kelly may try to control the clock a little more this season to help his defense.  We’ll call for 35-38 points and 410-440 yards per game.

Defense: The Ducks gave up 73 scrimmage plays per game last year and still made it to the Rose Bowl.  Expect Kelly to address this and try to hold onto the ball more this year.  If this defense can defend 10 fewer plays, Oregon could run the table.

Eight of the top nine tacklers return from last year including the Pac-10’s sack leader.  End Kenny Rowe made 11 ½ sacks and 15 total tackles for loss.  He knocked down four passes as well.  To the inside, Brandon Bair made 8 ½ tackles behind the line.

Two potential 1st team all-conference players line up at linebacker.  Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews can blitz and disrupt plays and can cover their pass zones as competently as anybody.  The duo combined for 162 tackles, 4 ½ sacks, 12 ½ total tackles for loss, and 13 passes defended.

The secondary is better than the other two units and the best in the league.  The move of former starting linebacker Eddie Pleasant to safety makes the Ducks tough against the run and the pass on the back line.  Pleasant will blitz and get to the QB, and he will get his paws on a half dozen or more passes.  Cornerback Talmadge Jackson intercepted four passes and broke up six.

Oregon has the pieces in place to improve considerably on this side of the ball, but the Pac-10 offenses as a whole are even better this year than last.  Look for the Ducks to give up 18-23 points and 325-350 yards per game.

Schedule: Oregon will get off to a quick 3-0 start before Pac-10 play begins.  The Ducks open with New Mexico at home, visit a rebuilding Tennessee in week two, and host Portland State the following week.

We give the Ducks the leg up on Arizona in league play because the two teams face off at Autzen Stadium, one of the best home field advantages in college football (The Ducks’ winning percentage at home is more than 20% better than on the road in the 21st Century).  We think UO will not be able to run the table, because the Pac-10 is just too balanced.  Look for them to stumble once or twice.  The Beavers will be waiting for revenge in the Civil War on December 4.

Team Oregon State Beavers
               
Head Coach Mike Riley
               
Colors Orange and Black
               
City Corvallis, OR
               
2009 Record              
Conference 6-3
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 113.7
               
National Rating 24
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 6-3
Overall 7-5

 

Offense: The Beavers have improved offensively the last four seasons, going from 27.8 points and 360 yards in 2006 to 31.5 points and 411 yards last year.  Look for a small retreat this season.

OSU lost quarterback Sean Canfield to the New Orleans Saints, and his replacement is a lightly experienced Sophomore.  Canfield passed for almost 3,300 yards and 21 touchdowns, and new QB Ryan Katz will not duplicate those numbers.

The best running back in the State of Oregon and best in the Pac-10 resides in Corvallis and not Eugene.  Jacquizz “Quizz” Rodgers raced for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns and also caught 78 passes last year.  Coach Mike Riley will use Rodgers to take the heat off Katz and force secondary defenders to cheat up.

James Rodgers is to pass catching what Quizz is to running.  He is the best in the Pac-10.  Last year, he led the league in receptions by 21 catches!  His 91 receptions went for 1,034 yards.  His presence will make it easier for Jordan Bishop and Markus Wheaton.

An experienced offensive line returns four starters including Freshman All-American tackle Michael Philipp and senior center Alex Linnenkohl, a three-year regular.

If Katz can develop and take enough heat off the running game, the Beavers have a championship-caliber offense.  We think he will have some growing pains, but by mid-October, OSU will be tough to stop.  Call it 28-33 points and 400-425 yards per game.

Defense: The Beavers have come up short by one game the last three years because they have not been able to stop the elite teams.  Against the rest, their defenses have looked outstanding.

For OSU to challenge this year, the pass rush has to improve.  The Beavers had just 17 sacks last year, and they return three starting linemen who should lead the team and move that number past 20.  Tackles Stephen Paea and Brennan Olander are even better against the run, and opponents will not find much success running the ball inside.  End Gabe Miller needs a breakout year after sharing the lead with Paea for the QB Sacks lead with three.  He needs to approach double digit sacks if the Beavers have a chance to make it back to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 47 years.

Linebacker is a bit of a concern with the departure of their top two tacklers.  Dwight Roberson, Tony Wilson, and Keith Pankey are not all-conference performers.

Three starters return to a better than average secondary.  Safeties Cameron Collins and Lance Mitchell combined 142 tackles and 14 passed defended.  Cornerback James Dockery intercepted two passes and knocked away eight others.  New cornerback Brandon Hardin saw extensive action last year intercepting a pass and batting away four others.

Oregon State has to step it up and come up with better defensive efforts against the top teams in the league.  They padded their stats against the weaker teams.  There is no way their defensive numbers will be as good as last year, but they could still compete for the Pac-10 title.  We’ll predict 25-28 points and 350-375 yards allowed per game.

Schedule: Who made this schedule?  He should be tarred and feathered.  OSU must play both TCU and Boise State.  When this schedule was made, those two teams were already powerful.  The third non-conference team is Louisville, and when they were put in the schedule, they were as good as the other two.  The Beavers will be out of the national title picture before October.

In league play, the best thing going for OSU is that they get USC and Oregon at home.  The bad news is they get Arizona, Washington, and Stanford on the road.  They will need five conference wins to be bowl eligible.  We’ll say they get six.

Team Southern California Trojans
               
Head Coach Lane Kiffin
               
Colors Cardinal and Gold
               
City Los Angeles, CA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 5-4
Overall 9-4
               
PiRate Rating 110.9
               
National Rating 34
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-4
Overall 8-5

 

Offense:  Cue the organ music.  It’s time for the daily soap opera brought to you by the makers of Probation Suds.  On today’s episode of How Lame Can You Get, we find Lane Kiffin delaying the signing of papers to release ex-players and recruits who do not want to stay in LA.

Southern Cal received two years probation for numerous recruiting violations, and they brought in a coach that already had the NCAA investigators burning the midnight oil.  Eight key players and recruits left, able to become immediately eligible at other schools.

With all that aside, the Trojans still have lots of talent.  If enough have chips on their shoulders, and the team stays healthy, they could even take it out on the rest of the nation and run the table.  We think that is unlikely.

Quarterback Matt Barkley had a fine freshman season.  He completed 60% of his passes for 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns.  He also threw 14 interceptions.  Backup Mitch Mustain was once considered the best quarterback prospect in the nation, and he started half a season at Arkansas as a freshman.

While there isn’t a Marcus Allen, Anthony Davis, Ricky Bell, or Charles White on this roster, USC has several talented running backs even with the loss of their 1,000 yard rushing starter from last year.  Junior Marc Tyler may be about to emerge and live up to his press clippings.  Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, and fullback Stanley Havili will all see action as ball carriers.  Havili is a threat as a pass catcher too.

The Trojans lost their top two receivers, but they have a lot of talent ready to step in.  Ronald Johnson and Brice Butler have some game experience, and tight end Jordan Cameron could emerge as a force in the middle of zones.

Only two starters return to the offensive line, and a projected starter has gone while the getting was good.  All the new starters were highly sought recruits, so the drop in talent won’t be that much.

USC’s offensive numbers could go up a little this year, because Kiffin will run up the score on teams that have no chance.  Expect 27-31 points and 400 total yards.

Defense: The Trojans lost too much on this side of the ball to dominate or even compete for the Pac-10 title in our opinion.  You don’t replace Taylor Mays, Josh Pinkard, Kevin Thomas, and Everson Griffen with untested recruits and expect the same results.

Jurrell Casey and Nick Perry give the Trojans a good base to rebuild the defensive line.  Perry’s eight sacks tied for the team lead.  Wes Horton is a decent end, but he is not all-conference material.

All three starting linebackers return, but the Trojans are now a bit thin here due to a couple of defections.  Chris Galippo, Malcolm Smith, and Michael Morgan are the best trio in the league.

There are no returning starters to the secondary, and in the Pac-10, that will get you beat.  Cornerback T.J. Bryant will be the leader of this unit, but he will not come close to matching Mays or Thomas.  Shareece Wright was supposed to start in 2008 and again in 2009, but he’s been off the field for two years due to injuries and ineligibility.

Southern Cal gave up 11 more points and 118 more yards in 2009 than in 2008.  That trend will continue this year, but the weakening will be less.  Call it 21-25 points and 325-350 yards allowed.

Schedule: USC will play 13 games without going to a bowl thanks to an opening game at Hawaii.  They host Virginia and Notre Dame and play at Minnesota.  The Trojans could go 4-0, but we will call for 3-1.

In league play, USC travels to Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon State.  They host Oregon, Cal, and Washington.  They have the talent and swagger to play spoiler, but we think the personnel losses and general malaise creeping into this program will cause them to settle in the middle of the pack.  Remember, they were tied for 5th last year at 5-4.  We will call for a repeat in 2010.

Team Stanford Cardinal
               
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
               
Colors Cardinal and White
               
City Palo Alto, CA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 6-3
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 117.9
               
National Rating 18
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-4
Overall 7-5

 

Offense: The Cardinal finished in a tie for second last year thanks to an offense that topped 200 yards both on the ground and through the air.  With eight starters returning, even with the loss of their star running back, they should field another excellent offensive squad in 2010.

Expect the Cardinal to look more like many of the great teams from their past this year.  They will pass the ball with great effectiveness thanks to the return of the next Jim Plunkett.  Andrew Luck passed for 2,575 yards as a true freshman with 13 touchdowns to just four picks.  Expect Luck to top 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns this year and challenge Jake Locker for 1st Team All-Pac-10 and 1st Team All-American (like the good ole days when Plunkett and Sonny Sixkiller banged heads).

Coach Jim Harbaugh is licking his chops over the return of both starting wideouts and one of his two starting tight ends from last year.  Chris Owusu is a serious deep threat every time he catches the ball, but he has to cut out all the drops.  When he held onto the ball last year, he averaged 18.4 yards with his 37 receptions.  Ryan Whalen just missed 1,000 yards, ending with 926 on a team-leading 57 catches.  Tight end Coby Fleener caught 21 passes, and he will get more looks this year.

Replacing Toby Gerhart’s 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns couldn’t be replicated with any back in the NCAA.  He was so consistent, in the manner of Larry Csonka and Jim Taylor, and that will be missed more than anything.  At this point in the preseason, Harbaugh has said that as many as six backs could see the field.  Jeremy Stewart, Stepfan, Taylor, and Tyler Gaffney appear to have a slight edge at the moment, but true freshmen Anthony Wilkerson and Ricky Seale and redshirt freshman Usua Amanam (the quickest back on the team) still have a real shot.  Don’t forget fullback Owen Marecic.  He will see action on both sides of the ball, as he has been moved to linebacker.

The offensive line ranks just behind Oregon for the best in the league.  Four starters return from a unit that gave up just seven sacks and opened holes for backs to run for 5.3 yards per attempt.  Andrew Phillips and David DeCastro make the best guard combo in the league.

Stanford will throw the ball more and run less this year.  The consistency may suffer a bit, but there will be days when this team cannot be stopped.  Look for the Cardinal to challenge for top scoring team in the league and once again score 35-40 points per game while gaining 425-450 yards per game.

Defense: Like many of the contenders in this league, Stanford doesn’t have a championship-caliber defense to match its offense.  As a result, the Cardinal will get in offensive shootouts with four or five opponents.  Remember, they beat Oregon last year 51-42, giving up an amazing 570 total yards and still winning.

Harbaugh brought in NFL veteran defensive coach Vic Fangio to rework the defense.  The Cardinal will switch to the same 3-4 defense Fangio used with the Baltimore Ravens.  He couldn’t bring Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs with him.

All 3-4 defenses must have a big, strong nose guard to occupy more than one blocker and defend the middle.  Sione Fua fits that bill.  At 6-2 and 307, he will protect his linebackers behind him.  Ends Brian Buicke and Matthew Masifilo have starting experience, and former end Thomas Keiser dropped back one line.

Keiser anchors a solid quartet of linebackers.  He finished third in the league with 15 total tackles for loss (9 QB sacks) and should be a terror blitzing from outside.  Marecic will start next to him.  We think these two will work well together.

Three starters return to a secondary that gave up 265 passing yards per game last year.  If the front seven can improve on the 21 QB sacks of last year, this quartet should post better numbers.  Cornerback Richard Sherman led SU with 10 passes defended.  Strong safety Delano Howell supplied great run support.

With Gerhart, Stanford still saw opponents run three more scrimmage plays per game than they enjoyed.  The defense had to defend 68 plays per game.  If that number goes up into the 70’s, it is bad news.  The offense needs to help the defense out and have more time-consuming drives. 

We look for SU to give up 23-27 points and 375-400 yards per game this year. 

Schedule: A home game with Sacramento State kicks off the season.  Two weeks later Wake Forest comes to Stanford Stadium.  The Cardinal follow that up with a visit to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.  We figure the Cardinal will be 2-1, but they could be 3-0.

The defense just doesn’t have enough for us to place SU among the top three in the league this year.  We think they will have a chance in every game—a chance to win and a chance to lose.  Only a home game with Washington State is a given.  They should split the other eight Pac-10 contests and finish 5-4, earning another bowl bid.

Team U C L A  Bruins
               
Head Coach Rick Neuheisel
               
Colors Blue and Gold
               
City Los Angeles, CA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-6
Overall 7-6
               
PiRate Rating 109.4
               
National Rating 39
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-5
Overall 5-7

 

Offense: Year two saw Coach Rick Neuheisel turn his alma mater’s team around, winning seven games and the inaugural Eagle Bank Bowl after going 4-8 the year before.

The UCLA running game was too weak to take the heat off a very good West Coast passing game.  The Bruins improved slightly from 83 to 115 yards per game, but that mark beat only Washington State.

Watch for UCLA to implement the Pistol Offense into their repertoire this year and run the zone option.  Can sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince run the option?  He’s dealing with a strained back muscle in practice.  He suffered a broken jaw in a game last year, so this may not be the best fit for him.  Richard Brehaut is not a runner either.  Juco transfer Darius Bell is the one true dual threat quarterback on the roster, and he could eventually emerge as the go to guy.

No running backs on this roster will strike fear in the defenses of the league.  Johnathan Franklin led the Bruins with 566 yards.  We expect true freshman Malcolm Jones to eventually become the lead back.

The passing game should continue to be strong thanks to the return of Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree.  They both caught more than 40 passes last year.  Rosario is big and fast, and he can burn defenses with a long gainer any time.

The offensive line welcomes back four starters, and if Micah Kia can regain his effectiveness from 2008.  He missed last year with an ACL injury.  This group doesn’t have a real star, but they will be improved and cut down on the 29 sacks they allowed.

UCLA should improve their scoring average from 22 to about 24-26 points per game.  We expect them to top 350 yards per game as well.

Defense: The Bruins finished second in the league against the pass and fifth overall, but seven starters were lost to graduation.  There is rebuilding to do on this side of the ball.

After an a broken right foot ended end Datone Jones’ season, the Bruins were left with having to replace their entire defensive line.  Jones had four sacks and seven other tackles behind the line, and there isn’t a player on the roster capable of replacing him, much less all-conference end Brian Price.  Price was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and runaway leader in tackles for loss in the Pac-10.

Only one starting linebacker returns as well.  Akeem Ayers is a borderline all-conference performer.  He defends well against the run and the pass, and he is a fantastic blitzer.

Three starters return to the back line, where the Bruins were tough against the pass last year.  They were greatly helped by a pass rush that recorded 44 sacks.  The one lost starter was a 4th Round NFL draft choice, but UCLA returns a certain 1st Round pick.  Rahim Moore is a difference maker at free safety; he is better than Taylor Mays who went in the 2nd round of this year’s draft.  Moore led the nation with 10 interceptions and batted away seven other passes.

We expect UCLA to be more generous on this side of the ball and give up 26-30 points and 340-370 total yards per game.

The Bruins have one of the best kicking combos.  Punter Jeff Locke and placekicker Kai Forbath will both play in the NFL.  Forbath is the best kicker in college football, and he may be better than 90% of the NFL kickers.

Schedule: The Bruins have a difficult non-league schedule.  They must face Kansas State and Texas on the road and Houston at home.  They will be lucky to go 1-2.

UCLA gets five home conference games and could win three or four of them.  Road games with Cal, Oregon, and Washington won’t be fun.  It looks like a sub-.500 year in Westwood.

Team Washington Huskies
               
Head Coach Steve Sarkisian
               
Colors Purple and Gold
               
City Seattle, WA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 4-5
Overall 5-7
               
PiRate Rating 115.6
               
National Rating 22
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-5
Overall 6-6

 

Offense: It has been eight seasons since the Huskies last posted a winning record and went to a bowl.  That 2002 team rode the arm of Cody Pickett tossing to Reggie Williams and won seven games.  With the talent returning in Seattle this year, seven wins would be a disappointment.  UW returns nine offensive starters, including the possible first pick in next year’s NFL Draft, so second year coach Steve Sarkisian could reverse that bowl drought this year.

Jake Locker is a lot like John Elway.  Aside from the accurate rifle arm and great wheels, he could choose to play baseball if a lousy NFL team chose him in the draft.  Let’s hope the comparison ends there.  Elway never played on a winning team nor played in a bowl game at Stanford.  Locker has one more shot to avoid the same fate.  He should top 3,000 yards per game through the air this season and possibly pass for 25 or more touchdowns.  And, maybe some Seattle DJ will right a ballad about him like they did for Sonny Sixkiller.

Just about every wideout that caught a pass last year returns, and that makes UW a very scary team.  This group of receivers ranks in the top five in the nation.  In Jermaine Kearse, Locker has a target to bring out the mad bomber in him.  Kearse averaged 17.3 yards on his team-leading 50 catches.  James Johnson and Devin Aguilar teamed up to make 81 receptions.  Tight end Kavario Middleton will be sorely missed after being dismissed for violating team rules.

The task of helping keep defenses honest falls on running back Chris Polk.  Polk rushed for 1,113 yards last year.  Locker rushed for over 500 yards when you factor out sacks and crossed the goalline seven times.

The offensive line is a bit small, but they are quick and rely on zone blocking to open running lanes.  Four 2009 starters return including Ryan Tolar and Cody Habben.  Tolar can play guard or center and will start at center this season.

The Huskies should average around 30-35 points and 400 total yards this season.

Defense: Eight starters return to a defense that improved by eight points and 62 yards per game last year.  Two of those three graduated defenders were last year’s starting ends.  Tackle Alameda Ta’Amu would be the perfect nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.  He will line up next to Cameron Elisara.  Not many teams will run the ball up the middle.

UW returns two quality linebackers in Cort Dennison and Mason Foster.  Both will have to increase their tackles by a couple dozen if the Huskies are to make a run at the Pac-10 title.  Alvin Logan was scheduled to be the third linebacker, but chronic injuries have forced him to give up football.

The secondary returns all four starters and almost the entire second string as well.  Though not among the best in the league, they can rotate and stay fresh.

Washington will once again struggle at times on this side of the ball, but there should be enough improvement to shave a little off last season’s numbers.  Look for 23-26 points and 375-400 yards allowed.

Schedule: The Huskies don’t have any pushover non-conference games this year.  They open at BYU and then host an improving Syracuse and Big 12 North favorite Nebraska.  A 2-1 mark would be an accomplishment.  UW must go on the road to USC (where the Trojans will be out for revenge), Arizona, Oregon, and Cal.  They could lose all four of those games.  Home games with Oregon State, Stanford, and UCLA will be tough as well, and we think they will lose one of them.  Call it a 4-5 league mark, and if they start 2-1, they will return to a bowl game. 

Team Washington State Cougars
               
Head Coach Paul Wulff
               
Colors Crimson and Gray
               
City Pullman, WA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 0-9
Overall 1-11
               
PiRate Rating 92.9
               
National Rating 79
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 0-9
Overall 1-11

 

Offense: Where have you gone Jason Gesser?  Washington State has been one of the weakest teams in FBS football the last two seasons, finishing with back-to-back 11-loss seasons.  The Cougars have averaged less than two touchdowns per game these last two years.  Their total yardage from the last two years combines was more than 70 fewer yards than Houston gained last year.

WSU will field an improved offense this season, but they are so far behind the rest of the league, they are still guaranteed to finish 10th in scoring and total offense.  Coach Paul Wulff had to take the redshirt off quarterback Jeff Tuel after four games last year, and then Tuel went down for the year five games later.  In those five contests, he completed 59% of his passes for 789 yards and six touchdowns.  Backup Marshall Lobbesteal has never recovered 100% from a knee injury he suffered in 2008.

The Cougars return their three top receivers and four of their top five, led by Jared Karstetter, who grabbed 38 passes for 540 yards and six TDs last year.

WSU has had no semblance of a running game the last two seasons.  Last year’s mark fell to 71 yards per game.  Of course a lot of that can be attributed to the offensive line allowing an astronomical 53 sacks.  But, then again, defenses did not have to worry about the run and could sell out to the pass.  James Montgomery has survived multiple injuries in and around his knees and almost had to give up football.  The former Cal transfer says he is healthy enough to play.  When 100%, he was a game-changing back.  Chantz Staden is another former starter trying to come back after missing all of 2009.

The offensive returns four starters, but it is still the weakest in the conference by far.  Expect this unit to give up a lot of sacks again this year, but they should improve on the horrible showing of last year.

There is nowhere to go but up for this offense.  WSU will top 14 points per game this year.  Call if 16-18 points and 275-300 total yards.

Defense: The defense gave up 38.5 points per game last year, and that represented a five point improvement over 2008!  The Cougars actually gave up 69 more yards per game than the year before.  With a much improved defensive line, State will improve by a couple more points. End Travis Long led WSU with six stops for loss. 

Linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis led the Cougars with 84 tackles, but he recorded just 4 ½ for losses.  He’ll have two new starters joining him in the second line of defense, and this remains a weak unit.

The secondary returns half of its 2009 starters, and this remains the weakest pass defense in the league by far.  WSU gave up 276 passing yards per game, and enemy passers completed 66.8% of their passes against them.

Look for an improved line to allow WSU to improve their numbers.  Expect 33-36 points and 450-475 total yards allowed per game.

Schedule: Washington State goes on the road for two of its non-conference games, and they will lose both games.  They open at Oklahoma State and play at SMU two weeks later.  A home game with Montana State is sandwiched in between, and it is a must-win game.  MSU is not a weak FCS team. 

We don’t see the Cougars breaking the losing steak in Pac-10 play.  They beat a winless Washington team in 2008, and that is their only conference victory in the last two years.  We believe it will be their only conference victory in three years.

*–The PiRate Ratings cannot be used to look forward past the next week of the college football season.  These ratings are good for just the current week, because the computer program uses more than game scores to determine the ratings.  Based on depth and personnel, some teams have regression factored into their rating due to predicted depth issues.  Other teams may have an advancement programmed into their rating due to certain personnel issues (star players recovering from injury, new system to learn, etc.)

Coming Tomorrow: The Big 12 almost ceased to exist this summer after losing Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten.  Can the Cornhuskers conclude their tenure in the league with a title?

March 21, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round Games Played On Sunday, March 22, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament

2nd Round Games Played On

Sunday, March 22, 2009

 

Friday’s games were a little more surprising than Thursday’s games, and several of the games that were won by the team expected to win were exciting and tough to the finish.  Siena has now won first round games in consecutive years over teams from a power conference.  The Saints could be on the verge of becoming Gonzaga East.

 

Our picks for day two went 11-5, bringing our total for round one to 24-8.  FWIW, we not only picked Siena to beat Ohio State, we almost hit the score exactly, missing by just two points.  Of course, a broken watch displays the correct time twice a day.

 

Here is a look at the Round of 32 games for Sunday.

 

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

 

East Region

Pittsburgh (14) vs. Oklahoma State (0) [Schedule strengths are equal]: The Panthers struggled against East Tennessee’s pressure defense, committing numerous turnovers.  They could have easily become the first number one seed to lose to a 16-seed.  Oklahoma State is a quicker, better version of ETSU, but Pittsburgh should be able to hold off the pesky Cowboys.  We expect Pitt to be ready for OSU’s pressure and play less error-prone ball.  Pittsburgh will advance to the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 73 Oklahoma State 62

 

Wisconsin (2) vs. Xavier (8) [Wisconsin has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: The Badgers held on tough to eke out an overtime win over Florida State Friday night, while Xavier had an easier workout against Portland State.  The Musketeers could sneak into the Sweet 16.  They are the type of team that can beat Pittsburgh and even Duke if their three big shooters are on their mark.  We believe Wisconsin’s best days are two years down the road, and it is a credit to Coach Bo Ryan to get them to the second round this year.  However, we expect the Badgers to be out of the Dance after this one.

 

Prediction: Xavier 64 Wisconsin 57

 

South Region

Arizona State (4) vs. Syracuse (4) [Syracuse has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: This should be the best game of the day.  Arizona State has two excellent three-point shooters, and it takes a good outside shooting team to beat Syracuse.  The Orangemen will press the tempo and force the Sun Devils to play at a faster pace than they would like.  If Syracuse can keep from hitting the wall, they should advance.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 80 Arizona State 71

 

Midwest Region

Louisville (10) vs. Siena (5) [Louisville has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: Siena had enough talent to top Ohio State, but Louisville will be too much for the Saints to handle.  The Saints will not be able to beat the Cardinals playing the same game against a team with better athletes.

 

Prediction: Louisville 79 Siena 62

 

Arizona (-2) vs. Cleveland State (7) [Arizona has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: This should be a close game.  Arizona’s PiRate criteria score is a negative number, but when you add the four points for strength of schedule advantage, this game becomes a virtual tossup.  CSU plays terrific defense, while Arizona relies more on offense.  This game will be decided on the Cardinal side of the court.  If Jordan Hill can hit his inside shots, Arizona should prevail.  If Hill cannot get open or cannot connect from his normal range, then the Vikings can be this year’s surprise team in the Sweet 16.

 

Prediction: Arizona 65 Cleveland State 61

 

Dayton (5) vs. Kansas (10) [Kansas has a schedule 5 points per game stronger]: Kansas never expected North Dakota State to keep their round one game close for 35 minutes.  Dayton never really pulled away from West Virginia, but the Flyers led throughout their game.  Round two should be a different bird.  Kansas looked a little rusty after losing early in the Big 12 Tournament and going a week without playing.  They should play much better in round two, and Dayton won’t have enough talent to stop KU.

 

Prediction: Kansas 74 Dayton 64

 

Southern California (2) vs. Michigan State (7) [Michigan State has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: On paper, Michigan State looks to be better than USC by double digit points.  However, USC has put it all together in the past two weeks and must be considered 7-10 points better today than they were in January.  We’ll stick with the Spartans to sneak by in this game, but a Trojan win would be no big surprise.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 71 Southern Cal 64

 

West Region

Missouri (14) vs. Marquette (9) [Schedule strengths are equal]: Missouri will wear Marquette down as the game wears on.  Eventually, the Tigers will go on a run in the second half and put this game out of reach.  A Memphis-Missouri Sweet 16 match would be possibly the most exciting game of the entire tournament.

 

Prediction: Missouri 74 Marquette 65

March 20, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round Games Played On Saturday, March 21, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Tournament

2nd Round Games Played On

Saturday, March 21, 2009

 

Thursdays games basically went according to expectations with a few exceptions.  One number 12 seed won over a five-seed when Western Kentucky controlled Illinois for much of the night.  We told you we thought WKU could pull off the upset, even though the system chose Illinois (but could not adjust for the loss of a key starter).  For what it’s worth, our Thursday picks went 13-3.

 

Here is a look at the Round of 32 games for Saturday.

 

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

 

East Region

 

UCLA (14) vs. Villanova (9) [Villanova has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: Both teams had scares in round one and were fortunate to survive to round two.  The Bruins have the criteria advantage here, but Villanova has home town advantage plus a slight strength of schedule advantage.  This game will look similar to the 1971 championship game between these same schools.  UCLA won that won by single digits.  That Villanova team had two stars, whereas the UCLA squad had five really good players.  Usually five really good players can beat two stars, but home town advantage eliminates that advantage.  We’ll go with the Bruins in a very close game.

 

Prediction: UCLA 64 Villanova 62

 

Texas (3) vs. Duke (14) [Duke has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: Duke has all the advantages here.  Watch Duke’s Gerald Henderson and Texas’s Damion James.  This is the key to this game.  If James can dominate better than Henderson, Texas has a chance.  We’ll select the Blue Devils to win, but it should be an interesting game.

 

Prediction: Duke 75 Texas 69

 

South Region

 

North Carolina (17) vs. LSU (14) [North Carolina has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: You usually never see two power conference championship teams facing off in the second round of the tournament, but the SEC is down this year.  So the regular season SEC champion faces the regular season ACC champion.  Add to that the fact that both of these teams have PiRate criteria in the double digit range.  This is almost a home game for the Tar Heels, and they are the dominant team in this region.  Carolina advances to the Sweet 16, and the SEC is done for the season.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 84 LSU 70

 

Western Kentucky (2) vs. Gonzaga (19) [Gonzaga has a schedule  2 points per game stronger]: Gonzaga turned it on in the final minutes of the night on Thursday and put Akron away with a quick spurt.  Western took control quickly in their game against Illinois and then held off the Illini at the end.  While the Hilltoppers advanced to the Sweet 16 last year, while Gonzaga went home early, we feel the Bulldogs are poised to make the trip to the next round this year.

 

Predicition: Gonzaga 77 Western Kentucky 70

 

Michigan (-4) vs. Oklahoma (9) [Michigan has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: We can sum this game up in three words: Blake Griffin’s Health.  If Griffin is close to 100%, this game will be over Sooner than expected.  Michigan knocked Clemson out in the first round because the Tigers couldn’t shoot straight.  Oklahoma won’t miss all those open shots and second-chance shots.  Michigan will have to hit close to 50% of their shots to stay in this one and connect on 8 or more treys.  If Griffin isn’t at full strength, then this game becomes much closer and moves toward being a tossup.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 72 Michigan 63

 

West Region

 

Connecticut (12) vs. Texas A&M (2) [Connecticut has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: We certainly hope UConn head coach Jim Calhoun is feeling much better, but we must begin to wonder if this could be his final year with the Huskies.  Maybe his players are beginning to think the same, and they want to make sure he goes out a champion.  It may or may not be the case, and they may or may not have the horses to go the distance, but the Huskies have enough in the tank to eliminate the Aggies.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 79 Texas A&M 73

 

Purdue (6) vs. Washington (9) [Washington has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]:  Purdue struggled with Northern Iowa, while Washington quickly dismissed Mississippi State.  We believe the Huskies will advance to the Sweet 16 to take on Connecticut in a game that will bring back memories for the fans and coaches of both schools.

 

Prediction: Washington 70 Purdue 60

 

Maryland (1) vs. Memphis (19) [Maryland has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: Was Memphis playing a weak schedule all year when they ran up such a far record?  Are they the most overrated team since all those consecutive Depaul teams that lost in the first round when they were ranked number one or two in the nation?  We think not.  They ran into a tough team in the first round.  Maryland played a fantastic first game against Cal, and they could easily play another great one against Coach Cal.  In what we believe will be one of the most exciting games of the entire tournament, we’ll stick with the team we are picking to still be playing on April 6.

 

Prediction Memphis 72 Maryland 71

March 17, 2009

PiRate Bracketnomics: 12 Teams Can Win It All

PiRate Bracketnomics: 12 Teams Can Win It All

 

We hope you took time to read Tuesday’s Bracketnomics 505 course.  You need to read that first to understand the criteria used here at PiRate Central.

 

Using said criteria devised by our founder, we have isolated 12 teams capable of winning six games in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Unlike last year when there were four dominant teams, the dominance is diluted somewhat this season.  Last year, more than 10 teams could be immediately eliminated based on a negative R+T rating.  This season, only two teams (Mississippi State and Ohio State) fail to possess a positive R+T rating.  Thus, we will pick the Bulldogs’ and Buckeyes’ opponents to beat them.

 

Here is a look alphabetically at those 12 teams who best meet the criteria showing they are capable of going all the way.

 

Connecticut: The Huskies outscore their opposition by an average of 13.3 points per game.  They shoot 9.3% better than their opponents.  They own a rebounding margin of 8.4.  Their R+T is 7.6.  In most years, this would be good enough for a Sweet 16 berth and possible Elite 8 run.  This year, it is good enough to get them to the title game.  The Huskies will win their first game by as many as they want.  They will win game two rather easily.  In the Sweet 16, they could run into a bump if they face Washington, but they will clobber Purdue if the Boilermakers make it to Glendale, Arizona.  An Elite 8 match against either Missouri or Memphis will be a tough and exciting game.

 

Duke: The Blue Devils outscore their opposition by an average of 12.2 points per game.  They shoot only 1.8% better than the opposition, and that is their one weakness.  They out-rebound their opponents by 3 and have a 4.4 turnover margin, so they usually benefit with more scoring attempts.  Their R+T of 12 is good enough to get them through the first two rounds.  In the Sweet 16, they will face either UCLA, Villanova, or Virginia Commonwealth.  The Blue Devils would be expected to beat any of these three, but it wouldn’t be a cinch.  The Bruins also make this list.

 

Kansas: The defending National Champions are considerably weaker this year, but in a season where the NCAA is weaker, the Jayhawks have a shot at getting to Detroit.  Kansas outscores its opponents by 11.3 points per game.  They outshoot them by 9.1%, which is one of the best in the Dance.  They have a 7.3 rebounding advantage.  Their weakness is in turnover margin.  They don’t commit a bevy of turnovers, but they don’t force many this year.  That could hurt them if they face a team that can steal the ball.  Syracuse and Missouri exploited them in regular season victories.  A trip to the Sweet 16 is expected, but I think they could be in for a big shock in their first round game with North Dakota State.  It may take 36 minutes for KU to put this game away.  If they face Michigan State in a regional semi-final, the Jayhawks should win a tough, physical game.  Louisville might be too much to handle in an Elite 8 regional final.

 

Louisville: Rick Pitino has taken Providence and Kentucky to the Final Four.  Last year, he came close with UL.  This year, it looks like the Cardinals have the horses to make it to Detroit.  UL outscores their opposition by 12.3 points per game.  They shoot 5.8% better than their opponents.  They have a 2.5 rebounding advantage, a 2.7 turnover margin, and they average 9.3 steals per game.  Their R+T is 8.5.  Except for scoring margin, none of the other stats are dominant, but then again all of them are really good.  They have no weaknesses.

 

Memphis: Memphis wouldn’t normally qualify because they are not a member of one of the big six conferences.  However, the Tigers’ schedule was as strong as teams like Wake Forest and UCLA.  Just like last year, Memphis has what it takes to play six games in the tournament.  The Tigers outscore their opponents by 17.2 points per game, which qualifies them for elite dominance.  They shoot 8.1% better than their opposition.  Their rebounding margin is 6.2, and their turnover margin is 3.3.  They average 8.8 steals per game, and their R+T rating is a whopping 13.2.  This is a team that should cruise to the Elite 8, and then we would favor them over Connecticut.  Missouri could be a tough out in the Sweet 16, but the Tigers fit the criteria of a national champion.

 

Missouri: Coach Mike Anderson was an assistant at Arkansas when the Razorbacks made won the national title in 1994 and made it to the finals in 1995.  His Missouri Tigers play the same 40-minute, full-court game that Arkansas played in those days.  These type of teams can make up for so-so rebounding with exceptional turnover margin by way of steals.  The Tigers are a force to be reckoned with this year.  Missouri outscores their opponents by 14.6 points per game.  They outshoot them by 5.7%.  While they barely win the battle of the boards by an average of 0.4 per game, their turnover margin is 6.5, and they average a tournament best 10.6 steals per game.  With an R+T rating of 16.9, Missouri gets many chances to go on scoring runs.  In tight tournament games, as little as an 8-0 run in two minutes is enough to decide the game.  We like MU’s chances of winning their first two and getting to the Sweet 16.  They will have to face Memphis, and they will meet a team that can neutralize the press.  Although we believe Memphis will win and move on to the Final Four, Missouri just may be the toughest competition Memphis faces before Detroit.

 

North Carolina: We see the Tar Heels joining Memphis in Detroit.  UNC has the second best looking criteria after Memphis.  The Tar Heels outscore their opponents by an average of 17.4 points per game.  They shoot 6.5% better than they allow.  Their rebound margin is 7.3, and their turnover margin is 3.2.  The Heels average 8.5 steals per game, and their R+T is 13.8.  Their path to the Final Four is the easiest of any of the 12 teams listed here.  Radford will be little more than a scrimmage against the Tar Heel scrubs.  Neither LSU nor Butler has what it takes to beat them in round two.  Gonzaga could compete for a long time, but the Tar Heels would eventually overpower them.  In the region finals, UNC would handle Oklahoma, Clemson, Syracuse, or Arizona State.  The only thing that could keep the Tar Heels out of the Final Four is the injury to Ty Lawson.  If he can play up to his normal standards, we just cannot see another South Regional team beating them.

 

Pittsburgh: The Panthers defeated Connecticut twice but lost to Louisville.  They should be able to beat almost any team that tries to play physically against them, but they could run into trouble against fast teams that can score in transition.  Pitt outscores their opponents by 13.3 points per game.  They shoot 7.3% better than they allow.  Their rebounding margin of 9.8 is awesome, and their turnover margin of 1.1 further allows them extra scoring chances.  They average 7.1 steals per game, and their R+T rating is 11.7.  This is a team very capable of making it to Detroit.  They will handle East Tennessee with ease in round one and give their regulars ample rest.  Their round two game is going to be interesting, as both Tennessee and Oklahoma State have the necessary tools to aggravate the Panthers (much like the way Louisville did).  We still believe Pitt can get by either team and make the Sweet 16.  Their four possible Sweet 16 opponents do not have the skills to beat them, so if Pittsburgh gets to the Sweet 16, they will advance to the Elite 8 as well.  A regional final game against Duke would be a terrific game with both teams having a 50% chance of winning.  Ditto is they face Villanova, but the Panthers have revenge on their side in a match against the Wildcats. 

 

U C L A: This edition of Bruins is nothing like the last three editions in the Big Dance.  This UCLA team looks more like one of the Bruin teams from the Gary Cunningham/Larry Farmer/Walt Hazard years.  UCLA outscores their opponents by 12.7 points per game.  They shoot 4.9% better than they allow.  Their rebounding margin is 3.8, and their turnover margin is 3.6.  They steal the ball 8.4 times per game, and their R+T is 11.1.  Much like Louisville, the Bruins don’t really dominate in any phase, but they are really good in all phases.  As a 6-seed, they are not expected to make it past the field of 32, but it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if Ben Howland guides them back to the Elite 8.  Their first round game against VCU should be nip and tuck for a long time.  VCU won’t be able to rebound against them, and the Bruins should get enough offensive boards to win.  In the second round, we believe UCLA can upset Villanova.  They won’t get by Duke if they must play them for a trip to the Final Four, but an Elite 8 appearance would be a great accomplishment in a rebuilding season.

 

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are the third ACC team with a good shot of advancing deep into the tournament.  Wake outscores their opponents by an average of 11.1 points per game.  They shoot the ball 9.3% better than they allow.  Their rebounding margin is 6.  Their 0.2 turnover margin is basically nil, but they do average 8.5 steals per game.  Their R+T rating is just 6.4 due to the fact that they tend to become turnover prone occasionally.  The Demon Deacons received a favorable draw for the opening weekend.  We see them moving on to the Sweet 16, but they will face a Louisville team that just may be too much in the third round.  It should be a great game.

 

West Virginia: This team looks much like many of Bob Huggins’ Cincinnati teams.  The Mountaineers are the polar opposite of the team that made a run under former coach John Beilein.  They are a dark horse team to make a deep run.  WVU outscores their opponents by 10.8 points per game.  They only outshoot those opponents by 1.1%, and that will eventually be their downfall.  They own healthy rebounding (5.9) and turnover (3.6) margins.  They average just 6.8 steals per game, but their R+T rating is 11.8.  This team will fly under the radar, but the Mountaineers could upset Kansas in the second round.  If they can upset the Jayhawks, West Virginia has the horses to make it to Detroit.  They lost twice to Louisville, by six and three points, so they can even upset the Cardinals given a third chance.  We give WVU a 45% chance of beating Kansas and a 33% chance of advancing to the Elite 8.

 

Predictions For Bracketeers

 

This is a pressure-filled year for us.  How can we match the success of our founder?  Hopefully, we can do so by carefully following his theories and data.  Plus, we talked to him, and he endorsed our picks.

 

So, here goes.  In the East, three Pittsburgh, Duke, and UCLA all score 14 points in the criteria.  Duke and Pitt have stronger schedules, so we will call for the Blue Devils and Panthers to meet in the Elite 8.  We give a slight edge to Coach K’s troops, but that is almost negligible.  We do not see the East Regional winner winning the national championship.

 

In the South, North Carolina is overpowering.  The Tar Heels have no rival in this bracket.  Second seed Oklahoma and third seed Syracuse do not qualify for a spot in the top 12.  Fourth seed Gonzaga does qualify, and we will pick the Bulldogs to be the only team capable of stopping the Tar Heels.  We give Gonzaga a 15-20% chance of winning in this probable regional semifinal game.  North Carolina should then dispose of the East Regional Champion and advance to the title game.

 

In the Midwest, top-seed Louisville will have to dispose of defending champ Kansas to make the Final Four.  Fourth-seed Wake Forest cannot be ignored here.  Six-seed West Virginia can compete with anybody in this region, making the Midwest the strongest region overall.  We’re going to go with Huggy Bear and his West Virginia Mountaineers to sneak into the Final Four.

 

Memphis should emerge in the West, besting Missouri and then Connecticut in Glendale, Arizona.  The Tigers will then take care of business in the Final Four semifinal round to take on North Carolina.

 

In the National Championship Game, we look for Coach Cal to finally get his championship trophy.  We are picking Memphis to make up for their final minute lapse in the 2008 Championship Game and win the title this year.  It could be the start of a major dynasty, as the Tigers have an awesome group of recruits coming in for 2010.   

 

The Stats On All The Teams

 

When you see a stat in bold, it meets the minimum amount to qualify for an exceptional stat.  When you see it also underlined, it strongly meets the qualifying amount.  When it is also in italics, it is a dominating statistic.  Strength of Schedule (SOS) is used solely when pitting one team against another.

 

Team

Pts

FG%

Reb

TO

Stl

R+T

SOS

Akron

7.0

1.9

-0.9

4.1

7.7

6.7

48.91

Alabama St.

6.1

7.5

1.2

-0.8

5.6

0.1

40.46

American

6.1

7.2

2.9

0.4

5.4

3.4

46.85

Arizona

3.8

3.9

2.5

-0.7

6.0

1.5

56.79

Arizona St.

9.4

7.3

1.7

0.6

5.9

2.5

56.35

Binghamton

3.4

2.9

-1.6

1.5

7.0

0.9

46.95

Boston College

4.4

2.3

2.9

-0.8

6.2

1.7

55.16

B Y U

12.7

8.5

4.2

2.5

7.2

8.5

54.62

Butler

10.2

5.7

3.3

0.9

6.1

4.6

53.15

Cal St. Northridge

3.8

3.7

3.6

-0.4

9.0

2.7

48.83

California

6.7

4.5

2.3

0.5

4.9

2.9

56.00

Chattanooga

0.8

0.6

3.3

-1.1

6.3

1.6

49.33

Clemson

10.8

3.5

1.6

2.9

9.4

8.1

56.07

Cleveland St.

7.2

2.6

0.6

3.5

8.7

7.9

52.27

Connecticut

13.3

9.3

8.4

-0.6

5.8

7.6

57.42

Cornell

9.8

6.4

3.1

0.8

6.7

4.4

45.31

Dayton

6.0

3.2

5.3

1.0

6.3

6.8

53.19

Duke

12.2

1.8

3.0

4.4

8.5

12.0

60.86

E T S U

8.6

6.2

1.5

2.5

8.5

6.6

46.28

Florida St.

4.1

4.6

0.7

0.3

8.5

1.3

58.22

Gonzaga

17.6

12.0

3.6

3.9

7.5

10.6

53.21

Illinois

8.0

6.6

0.1

1.3

5.8

1.9

57.56

Kansas

11.3

9.1

7.3

-0.8

6.9

6.0

58.01

Louisville

12.3

5.8

2.5

2.7

9.3

8.5

58.80

L S U

9.4

4.2

5.6

4.2

7.6

13.3

53.66

Marquette

8.5

0.5

1.7

3.6

7.9

8.5

55.87

Maryland

3.0

0.5

-1.6

3.2

7.7

4.3

58.11

Memphis

17.2

8.1

6.2

3.3

8.8

13.2

55.82

Michigan

4.1

-1.1

-3.1

2.4

6.5

0.6

58.74

Michigan St.

9.0

4.1

9.9

-0.2

6.4

9.6

59.48

Minnesota

5.4

4.4

2.4

0.6

8.4

3.6

56.65

Mississippi St.

6.0

4.3

-0.7

-0.8

7.0

-2.0

55.62

Missouri

14.6

5.7

0.4

6.5

10.6

16.9

56.31

Morehead St.

3.1

2.3

8.0

-2.5

6.7

4.0

48.59

Morgan St.

5.3

2.2

3.9

2.0

6.6

7.1

44.96

North Carolina

17.4

6.5

7.3

3.2

8.5

13.8

58.00

North Dakota St.

12.2

4.0

4.5

2.2

7.1

8.2

45.05

Northern Iowa

4.2

3.6

3.1

-0.9

4.2

2.2

53.53

Ohio St.

5.1

7.5

-1.0

0.1

5.9

-0.9

57.80

Oklahoma

11.4

9.1

5.6

-1.1

6.9

3.8

57.78

Oklahoma St.

6.9

1.4

-1.1

2.8

7.7

4.1

59.57

Pittsburgh

13.3

7.3

9.8

1.1

7.1

11.7

59.27

Portland St.

5.5

0.3

0.9

0.7

7.5

2.2

45.45

Purdue

10.3

5.8

-0.3

3.5

7.2

5.7

57.48

Radford

5.1

7.2

6.9

-2.8

6.8

2.3

47.63

Robert Morris

5.7

5.1

1.7

0.7

8.6

3.1

46.18

Siena

7.6

3.7

-0.5

3.8

8.8

7.5

54.68

USC

4.9

6.8

5.5

-1.1

6.3

3.8

58.04

Stephen F Austin

10.3

7.2

1.4

2.8

6.1

5.5

46.99

Syracuse

8.8

7.5

2.2

-0.6

8.0

1.0

59.39

Temple

5.6

4.2

3.1

-0.8

5.6

2.0

56.16

Tennessee

6.1

1.5

4.6

1.8

6.7

7.5

60.50

Texas

6.8

3.6

4.7

1.3

6.2

6.6

56.58

Texas A&M

5.4

1.5

5.3

-0.3

5.0

4.9

55.77

U C L A

12.7

4.9

3.8

3.6

8.4

11.1

55.06

Utah

7.2

7.5

4.9

-3.2

5.0

1.1

57.90

Utah St.

10.8

7.8

7.0

-0.7

4.9

6.2

51.00

Villanova

9.5

5.3

4.1

2.1

8.0

8.1

57.30

Virginia Common.

8.6

6.6

-0.6

1.9

7.6

2.9

51.94

Wake Forest

11.1

9.3

6.0

0.2

8.5

6.4

55.29

Washington

9.3

3.8

8.4

0.1

7.6

8.6

58.08

West Virginia

10.8

1.1

5.9

3.6

6.8

11.8

58.84

Western Kentucky

5.4

1.5

4.8

0.1

5.7

4.9

51.41

Wisconsin

5.4

0.1

3.0

1.4

5.0

4.7

58.28

Xavier

10.0

7.4

8.4

-2.2

5.4

5.5

55.89

 

Round One Games

(numbers in parentheses are PiRate Criteria scores)

 

East Region

 

#1 Pittsburgh (14) vs. #16 East Tennessee (6) [Pitt has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]:  This game will be over quickly.  Pitt will dominate inside and put this one away in the first 10 minutes.  It could be a 20-point margin before halftime. 

 

Prediction: Pittsburgh 78 East Tennessee 56

 

#8 Oklahoma State (0) vs. #9 Tennessee (6) [Tennessee has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]:  These teams are similar, but Tennessee has just a little more talent than the Cowboys.  The Volunteers should win the battle of the boards by five or more, and the two or three extra offensive put-backs should decide this game.

 

Prediction: Tennessee 82 Oklahoma State 77

 

#5 Florida State (0) vs. #12 Wisconsin (2) [Schedule strengths are equal]: 12-Seeds are the ones that tend to draw the most attention at first round upsets.  Part of the reason is because 12-seeds are usually the last bubble teams to make the tournament.  Frequently, they are quite a bit better than their seeding.  This doesn’t apply in this game.  Wisconsin is lucky to be an invitee.  The reason the Badgers have a 50-50 chance of winning this one is the fact that Florida State isn’t a dominating ACC team.  They rely on one big scorer, and they win games by one to six points.  The winner of this game will be going home after the next one, and we’ll go with the Badgers to win a close one.

 

Prediction: Wisconsin 68 Florida State 66

 

#4 Xavier (8) vs. #13 Portland State (1) [Xavier has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: Xavier would have qualified among the big dozen if they had a positive turnover margin.  The Musketeers don’t have the tools to advance to the Elite 8 and will only crack the Sweet 16 due to a weak second round opponent.  This Portland State team is nowhere near as talented as last year’s team.  That team had a chance to compete, while this years Vikings will know they are done by halftime of this game.

 

Prediction: Xavier 79 Portland State 62

 

#6 U C L A (14) vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth (3) [UCLA has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: VCU is one of those pesky teams that can throw an opponent off its game.  Coach Anthony Grant may be on his way to a big time job after this game.  UCLA will be able to sneak up on opponents in this tournament.  The Bruins didn’t win the Pac-10 title this year, but they have the talent to still be playing in April.  After a beginning that could be ugly, look for the boys from Westwood to get their balance and cruise to a double digit win.

 

Prediction: UCLA 75 VCU 65

 

#3 Villanova (9) vs. #14 American (2) [Villanova has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: Villanova just barely missed out on being included in the top 12.  The Wildcats are not far behind Louisville, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh in the Big East.  VU has no weaknesses, but they are not as strong across the board as Louisville.  American won both the Patriot League regular season and tournament titles.  This is their second consecutive trip to the tournament, and they enter riding a 13-game winning streak.  They are better than average in every important aspect, but the Eagles’ strength of schedule is not strong enough for that to matter.  They played three good teams this year and lost to all by an average of 23 points.

 

Prediction: Villanova 74 American 55

 

#7 Texas (3) vs. #10 Minnesota (1) [Schedule strengths are equal]: Neither of these teams is going to advance past the opening weekend.  Texas is above average but not great in every aspect.  There are a dozen NIT teams that could beat the Longhorns.  Minnesota isn’t much better.  The Gophers pick up more steals, but they don’t capitalize on them with quick scoring bursts.  We’ll take Texas in a close game, but the Longhorns will not advance farther than one round.

 

Prediction: Texas 72 Minnesota 66

 

#2 Duke (14) vs. #15 Binghamton (-1) [Duke has a schedule 14 points per game stronger]: This won’t be like Duke’s first round game in 2008, when they had to sweat out a last second shot attempt by tiny Belmont.  Binghamton has little inside game, and that’s what it will take to beat Duke.  The Blue Devils will wear down the Bearcats and pull away to a lopsided victory.  They could lead by 35 to 40 points before emptying the bench.

 

Prediction: Duke 91 Binghamton 63

 

South Region

 

#1 North Carolina (17) vs. #16 Radford (3) [North Carolina has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: Radford can score a lot of points.  They don’t have much depth, and we can see them keeping this game close maybe until midway through the first half.  After that, we look for the Tar Heels to go on a big run and put the game away before halftime.  Don’t be alarmed if UNC doesn’t win by 30 or more points.  Remember, they barely beat James Madison in the opening round one year when they advanced to the title game.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 94 Radford 77

 

#8 L S U (14) vs. #9 Butler (7) [LSU has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: As 8-9 games are supposed to go, this game should be close with numerous lead changes.  Earlier in the year, Butler won at Xavier, while LSU lost at home to Xavier.  The Tigers know they are facing a team that could easily beat them.  They just barely missed qualifying for a spot on the 12 best teams.  Butler was better last year, but the Bulldogs are no pushover.  LSU will be extended to the end, and the Tigers will be fortunate to escape with a victory.

 

Prediction: LSU 73 Butler 69

 

#5 Illinois (4) vs. #12 Western Kentucky (2) [Illinois has a schedule 6 points per game stronger]: This Western Kentucky team is about 10 points weaker than last season’s Sweet 16 team.  However, the Hilltoppers couldn’t have asked for a better #5 seed to face in the first game.  This one has the look of another 12-seed upset, but we will select the Illini to hold off a tough rally.

 

Prediction: Illinois 61 Western Kentucky 58

 

#4 Gonzaga (19) vs. #13 Akron (3) [Gonzaga has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: If Gonzaga were in the Pac-10 and had the identical stats they have this year, we would place them in the Final Four.  This is probably a better team than the Adam Morrison team a few years back.  The ‘Zags finished the season marching through the opposition like Sherman marched through Georgia.  In their final seven games, Gonzaga won all seven by an average score of 84-56!  Akron isn’t a bad team.  The MAC conference tournament champs might be favored in a first round game in other years, but they are going up against the North Carolina of the mid-majors.  Better luck next time Zips.

 

Prediction: Gonzaga 80 Akron 67

 

#6 Arizona State (4) vs. #11 Temple (0) [Schedule strengths are equal]: Arizona State lost four of its final seven games, while Temple won 10 of its last 12 including the Atlantic 10 Tournament title.  Even though the Sun Devils own a better criteria score, we believe Temple should be a slight favorite in this game.  Temple should control the boards in this game, and we expect a game with many missed shots.  Offensive rebounding should decide this one.

 

Prediction: Temple 64 Arizona State 58

 

#3 Syracuse (4) vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin (8) [Syracuse has a schedule 12 points per game stronger]: Be warned! This game could be a nail-biter.  Syracuse will not be fully recovered from the Big East Tournament.  They may never fully recover the rest of this season.  SFA is not a pushover, as judged by their criteria score.  Their strength of schedule does not merit making them an upset favorite.  They could keep this one close.  However, being their first tourney appearance, the players will be tight at the beginning of the game.  Syracuse may not bring their A-game, but it will be enough to win.  Don’t expect the Orangemen to score 80 points in this game, but then again, don’t expect the Lumberjacks to get many second-chance scoring opportunities. 

 

Prediction: Syracuse 69 Stephen F. Austin 59

 

#7 Clemson (9) vs. #10 Michigan (-4) [Michigan has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: John Beilein’s West Virginia team is the only Elite 8 team to fall through the PiRate cracks in recent years.  This Michigan team plays much like that one, but the Wolverines are not yet as good.  Michigan tries to limit possessions and win by hitting a lot more three-pointers than they give up.  It is a good gimmick when you don’t have superior talent.  We just don’t see it working in the Big Dance.  Their criteria score is -4, which is the worst of the 63 teams that have a positive R+T rating.  Clemson was a better team in 2008, and that Tiger team fell to Villanova in the first round.  We expect the Tigers to get over the hump and win their opening round game this year.

 

Prediction: Clemson 77 Michigan 66

 

#2 Oklahoma (9) vs. #15 Morgan State (4) [Oklahoma has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]: Oklahoma would have qualified for a spot in the top 12 if they had a positive turnover margin.  When they face a team that forced turnovers, the Sooners are going to have a rough time.  Missouri and Oklahoma State beat the Sooners in the last two weeks, and both of those teams are ball-hawking squads.  Morgan State is not capable of forcing Oklahoma into a bevy of turnovers, so OU is safe in the opening round.  Sooner fans should root like crazy for Michigan to beat Clemson, because the Tigers are a lot like Missouri and Oklahoma State.

 

Prediction: Oklahoma 79 Morgan State 65

 

Midwest Region

 

#1 Louisville (10) vs. #16 Morehead State (1) [Louisville has a schedule 10 points per game stronger]: These two teams met in December with UL winning by 38 points.  The Eagles are much better than they were three months ago, but not 38 points better.  Louisville will get a light workout in this game, and that will keep them fresh for round two.

 

Prediction: Louisville 76 Morehead State 49

 

#8 Ohio State (DNQ) vs. #9 Siena (5) [Ohio State has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: Here is what looks like a mild upset in the making.  Ohio State is one of two teams that fail to qualify due to a negative R+T rating.  What that means is the Buckeyes give up more scoring opportunities than they get.  Think of a major league baseball team that wins 90 games in the regular season to qualify for the playoffs but gives up one more hit per game than themselves while hitting an average amount of home runs.  That team won’t go far in the playoffs.  Siena won an opening round game in last year’s tournament, and this Saints’ team is better this year than last year.  Siena stands a 55-60% chance of winning this game.

 

Prediction: Siena 74 Ohio State 70

 

#5 Utah (3) vs. #12 Arizona (-2) [Utah has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: The winner of this game won’t be advancing much further.  Arizona really shouldn’t be here.  Almost every major conference team and more than half of the mid-major teams in the NIT could beat Arizona.  Utah won 11 of their final 13 games, and the Utes should make it 12 of 14.  However, don’t expect any deep runs like in the Rick Majerus or Jack Gardner days.

 

Prediction: Utah 68 Arizona 63

 

#4 Wake Forest (12) vs. #13 Cleveland State (7) [Wake Forest has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: Cleveland State deserves their seeding.  The Vikings defeated Butler and won at Syracuse during the season and played competitive games at Washington and at West Virginia.  Wake Forest qualifies as one of the super 12 teams, and they will have a tougher time with CSU in the opening round than they will have with either Utah or Arizona in round two.

 

Prediction: Wake Forest 69 Cleveland State 62

 

#6 West Virginia (16) vs. #11 Dayton (5) [West Virginia has a schedule 6 points per game stronger]: West Virginia is the top dark horse in our criteria.  We believe they can advance to Detroit.  Dayton is a solid team and can hold their own on the glass against the Mountaineers.  We believe the game will be decided by turnovers.  WVU will force three to five more and capitalize on that differential with five to eight points.  We will add a little more to the difference by believing Dayton will put West Virginia at the line several times in the closing minutes and fail to score quickly at their end.

 

Prediction: West Virginia 74 Dayton 65

 

#3 Kansas (10) vs. #14 North Dakota State (10) [Kansas has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]: North Dakota State is making an appearance in the Big Dance in their first year they are qualified.  Their criteria score is a little misleading, as they have a rather weak strength of schedule.  The Bison may give the Jayhawks a battle through a couple of TV timeouts, but KU will go to the locker at the half up by at least eight and pull away in the second half.

 

Prediction: Kansas 81 North Dakota State 59

 

#7 Boston College (-2) vs. #10 Southern California (2) [Southern Cal has a schedule 3 points per game stronger]: This should be an interesting and entertaining game.  The winner should be out of the tournament one round later.  Trying to pick a winner in this game is a pure crap shoot.  Boston College beat North Carolina and lost to Harvard.  USC started 10-3, then lost 9 of 15, and then won five in a row, including three consecutive Pac-10 Tournament victories over NCAA Tournament teams.

 

Prediction: Southern Cal 73 Boston College 70

 

#2 Michigan State (7) vs. #15 Robert Morris (2) [Michigan State has a schedule 13 points per game stronger]: The Spartans should make it to the Sweet 16, but we just don’t see any Big 10 team winning an Elite 8 game this year.  Robert Morris must rely on one star in Jeremy Chappell.  The Colonials don’t rebound well, and MSU will play volleyball on the offensive glass. 

 

Prediction: Michigan State 76 Robert Morris 54

 

West Regional

 

#1 Connecticut (12) vs. #16 Chattanooga (-1) [Connecticut has a schedule 8 points per game stronger]: We pity the poor Mocs.  They are going to be the victims of one of the two most lopsided opening round game.  UConn will dominate this game from start to finish.  Chattanooga will be lucky to lead this one 2-0 at the start, because it could easily be a game where the Huskies hold the Mocs scoreless to the first TV timeout and lead by double digits by the time Chattanooga scores.

 

Prediction: Connecticut 98 Chattanooga 63

 

#8 B Y U (13) vs. #9 Texas A&M (2) [Texas A&M has a schedule 1 point per game stronger]: This looks like another excellent tossup game, but our criteria show it to be a one-sided affair.  BYU would belong in the top 12 if they had played a stronger schedule.  The Cougars do everything well; they outscore their opposition by 12.7 points per game.  They shoot 8.5% better than their opponents.  They control the boards by more than 4 per game and force 2.5 more turnovers per game than they commit.  The Cougars just haven’t beaten a big time team.  Texas A&M owns victories over four major teams in the Dance.  That makes it the tossup game it is supposed to be.

 

Prediction: BYU 74 Texas A&M 69

 

#5 Purdue (6) vs. #12 Northern Iowa (-1) [Purdue has a schedule 4 points per game stronger]: The Boilermakers split their final 10 regular season games before finding their stride in the Big 10 Tournament.  Northern Iowa is in the Dance because they can edge Illinois State every time they face off.  Illinois State won’t be on the schedule until next season, so NIU can begin looking forward to next season after this game.  Don’t expect Purdue to still be around next week.  This is going to prove to be another weak year for the Big 10.

 

Prediction: Purdue 71 Northern Iowa 60

 

#4 Washington (9) vs. #13 Mississippi State (DNQ) [Washington has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]: The Pac-10 regular season champions take on the surprise winner of the SEC Tournament.  MSU is one of two teams that do not qualify due to a negative R+T number.  It’s hard to imagine that with Jarvis Varnado in the lineup, the Bulldogs still have a slight negative rebounding margin.  They also have a negative turnover margin and didn’t play that tough of a schedule.  Washington won’t have to travel far from Seattle to Portland, and the Huskies should win this one by more points than most people expect.

 

Prediction: Washington 81 Mississippi State 66

 

#6 Marquette (9) vs. #11 Utah State (10) [Marquette has a schedule 5 points per game stronger]: Marquette would definitely be included in the top 12 if Dominic James were not out for the season.  Prior to his foot fracture, MU was a Top 10 team capable of making a run to the Final Four.  Without him, they really should be a double digit seed.  Utah State is one of the handful of mid-majors capable of making a run to the Sweet 16.  The Aggies will have trouble against an aggressive, pressing team, but Marquette isn’t one of those teams.  This game is actually a tossup.  With no partiality to an in-state team, we’re going with Marquette to survive a toughie.

 

Prediction: Marquette 70 Utah State 65

 

#3 Missouri (14) vs. #14 Cornell (5) [Missouri has a schedule 11 points per game stronger]: Missouri has the talent to make a deep run in this tournament.  Any team that has trouble facing pressure defense is going to find itself in a heap of trouble.  The Tigers are the best pressing team in the Big Dance and the only team averaging double figure steals per game.  If Mizzou gets 12 steals in a game, they are going to score 20 or more points off those steals.  That is a mighty stat for an opponent to overcome.  Cornell is not as good this year as they were last year when they won the Ivy League with ease.  This team has no signature wins, and they lost by double digits to all three NCAA Tournament teams on their schedule.

 

Prediction: Missouri 82 Cornell 58

 

#7 California (1) vs. #10 Maryland (1) [Maryland has a schedule 2 points per game stronger]:  On paper, this game looks like an exciting game.  We consider it the most mediocre game of the opening round.  One of these teams will advance to the Round of 32 and become fodder for Memphis.  Cal will win the battle on the boards, but Maryland will not beat themselves with unforced errors.  The Terps beat North Carolina and Wake Forest in the last month, while Cal has been a sub-.500 team since mid-January.

 

Prediction: Maryland 71 California 67

 

#2 Memphis (19) vs. #15 Cal State Northridge (-1) [Memphis has a schedule 7 points per game stronger]: Not only is Memphis coming into the tournament playing its best ball of the season, the Tigers enter the Dance with a chip on their shoulders.  They deserved a number one seed, and now they will take it out on their next opponent or maybe next six.  The Matadors lost to Cal State Bakersfield as well as some other teams with an RPI well down the list.  Memphis has won 25 games in a row, and the Tigers are the real number one team in our book.  At the point when Coach Cal removes his top eight players from the game, the Tigers may have yielded less than a point per minute in this game.

 

Prediction: Memphis 83 Cal State Northridge 47

 

Coming Friday, a look at Saturday’s games.  Sunday’s game previews will run Saturday.

January 7, 2009

College Football Computer Simulation Playoffs–Championship Game

NCAA 2008 College Football Playoff Simulation

Championship Round

 

Welcome to season number two of the NCAA College Football Playoff Simulation.  For those reading this blog for the first time, the PiRate College Football Playoffs take the champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC as automatic qualifiers.  Any of the remaining conference champions (including the top independent) that finish in the top 16 in the final regular season BCS Standings also qualify automatically.  At-large teams are then selected in the order of BCS finish until 12 total teams have been selected.  The 12 teams are seeded by BCS ranking.

 

Here is how the 12 teams were selected for the 2008 playoffs.

 

Top Six Conference Champions

ACC-Virginia Tech 9-4 seeded 12th

Big East Champion-Cincinnati 11-2 seeded 11th

Big Ten-Penn State 11-1 seeded 8th

Big 12-Oklahoma 12-1 seeded 1st

Pac-10-Southern Cal 11-1 seeded 5th

SEC-Florida 12-1 seeded 2nd

 

Automatic Qualifiers By Virtue Of Top 16 In BCS

MWC-Utah 12-0 seeded 6th

WAC-Boise State 12-0 seeded 9th

 

Top Four At-Large To Fill Out 12-Team Field

Texas 11-1 seeded 3rd

Alabama 12-1 seeded 4th

Texas Tech 11-1 seeded 7th

Ohio State 10-2 seeded 10th

 

The PiRate Playoff System uses the top 11 bowl games to play the four rounds.  The 5th through 12th seeds must play in the first round, while the top four seeds receive byes to the quarterfinals.

 

The First Round games were simulated Saturday, December 13.  Here were the results of those games.

 

Insight Bowl: #5 Southern Cal 20 #12 Virginia Tech 6

 

Cotton Bowl: #6 Utah 23 #11 Cincinnati 20 2ot

 

Chick-Fil-a Bowl:  #10 Ohio State 45 #7 Texas Tech 31

 

Outback Bowl: #9 Boise State 34 #8 Penn State 23

 

 

Quarterfinal Round Matches

Simulated December 20

 

Fiesta Bowl

#1 Oklahoma 48  #9 Boise State 21

 

Sugar Bowl

#2 Florida 34  #10 Ohio State 17

 

Capital One Bowl

#3 Texas 35  #6 Utah 17

 

Gator Bowl

#5 Southern Cal 17  #4 Alabama 10

 

 

FINAL FOUR

 

Rose Bowl

 

Southern California 27  Oklahoma 14

 

Orange Bowl

 

Florida 49  Texas 35

 

 

National Championship Game

 

Florida 14-1  vs. Southern Cal 14-1

 

AND THE WINNER IS………….

 

Southern California Trojans

 

Final Score:  USC 27  Florida 23

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

USC

3

10

14

0

 

27

Fla

6

3

6

8

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USC

Stat

Fla

 

 

 

 

18

FD

14

 

 

 

 

46-148

Rush-Yds

29-77

 

 

 

 

239

Pass Yds

223

 

 

 

 

19-32-0

Passes

19-35-2

 

 

 

 

5-41.8

Punt

6-40.5

 

 

 

 

3-46

PR

2-17

 

 

 

 

7-60

Pen

6-50

 

 

 

 

1-0

Fum

2-1

 

 

 

 

68

Play

64

 

 

 

 

387

Tot Yds

300

 

 

 

USC-Buehler 36 yd. FG, 1st Qtr. 10:33 (USC 3 FL 0)

Fla-Tebow 4 yd. run, kick blocked, 1st Qtr. 3:11 (FL 6 USC 3)

Fla-Phillips 29 yd. FG, 2nd Qtr. 7:55 (FL 9 USC 3)

USC-Turner 17 yd. pass from Sanchez, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 3:09 (USC 10 FL 9)

USC-Buehler 45 yd. FG, 2nd Qtr. 0:00 (USC 13 FL 9)

USC-Gable 9 yd. run, Buehler Kick, 3rd Qtr. 12:46 (USC 20 FL 9)

USC-Maualuga 44 yd. interception return, Buehler Kick, 3rd Qtr. 9:15 (USC 27 FL 9)

Fla-Demps 2 yd. run, 2-point try failed, 3rd Qtr. 0:54 (USC 27 FL 15)

Fla-Murphy 31 yd. pass from Tebow, Tebow run for 2, 4th Qtr. 2:27 (USC 27 FL 23)

 

Congratulations go to Southern California for winning the simulated national championship playoffs for the second year in a row!

 

 

The Real BCS Championship Game Simulated 100 Times

 

Florida won 59 of the 100 Simulations by an average score of 36 to 32.

Five of the games went to overtime, with one simulation going four overtimes.  Oklahoma won that one 68-66.

Florida won 11 games by 10 or more points with their biggest margin of victory being 23 points in a 55-32 win.

Oklahoma won three games by 10 or more points with their biggest margin of victory being 19 points at 49-30.

29 of the simulations were decided by three points or less, with Florida winning 15 and Oklahoma winning 14.

 

Regardless of the outcome of this game, there will be discussion that three other teams were just as deserving.

 

If Oklahoma wins this game, Texas has every bit as much right if not more to proclaim themselves champions.  They beat Oklahoma on a neutral field.

 

If Florida wins this game, then Utah has every bit as much right it nor more to proclaim themselves champions.  The Utes beat Alabama by more points than Florida did, and Utah had to play this game as if they were the road team.  Utah won at Oregon State, something that Southern Cal did not do.

 

Speaking of Southern Cal, the Trojans are hands down the best college team in the nation.  Most football experts, including the wise guys in Nevada understand this fact and would list USC as a favorite over any other team.

December 31, 2007

NCAA Football Computer Simulated Playoffs–Championship Game

 

The NCAA Computer Simulated National Championship Playoff Final

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Southern California Trojans

Simulated date: January 12, 2008

How They Got Here

Oklahoma                                                       

Defeated Florida 50-48 in 3ot in the Fiesta Bowl

Defeated Ohio State 27-20 in the Sugar Bowl

Southern Cal

Defeated LSU 45-24 in the Cotton Bowl

Defeated Arizona State 35-17 in the Orange Bowl

FINAL SCORE: Southern Cal 38  Oklahoma 24

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Southern California

3

7

14

14

 

38

Oklahoma

7

10

7

0

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

USC: David Buehler 41 yd. FG 1st qtr. 9:33  USC 3 OU 0

OKL: Chris Brown 74 yd. run, Hartley Kick 1st qtr. 9:15 OU 7 USC 3

OKL: Malcolm Kelly 5 yd. pass from Bradford, Hartley Kick 2nd qtr. 10:09  OU 14 USC 3

USC: Fred Davis 42 yd. pass from Booty, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 4:01  OU 14 USC 10

OKL: Garrett Hartley 44 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 0:00  OU 17 USC 10

OKL: Chris Brown 12 yd. run, Harltey Kick 3rd qtr. 11:03 OU 24 USC 10

USC: Ronald Johnson 99 yd Kick Return, Buehler Kick 3rd qtr. 10:50  OU 24 USC 17

USC: Clay Matthews 29 yd. block punt return, Buehler Kick 3rd qtr. 7:49  USC 24 OU 24

USC: Chauncey Washington 4 yd. run, Buehler Kick 4th qtr. 8:59  USC 31 OU 24

USC: Terrell Thomas 67 yd. interception return, Buehler Kick 4th qtr. 4:12 USC 38 OU 24

Team Statistics

Stat

USC

OKL

FD

18

23

Rushing

39-157

33-96

Passing

258

318

Passes

16-27-0

27-46-2

Sacks-Yds

0-0

4-21

Fum-Lst

0-0

1-0

Punting

6-41.7

6-33.3

Punt Ret.

4-11.3

3-5.0

Kick Ret.

5-35.6

7-19.4

Penalties

6-50

7-55

T O P

26:12

33:48

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

Chauncey Washington

19

92

17

1

 

Stafon Johnson

13

46

11

0

 

Joe McKnight

5

19

6

0

 

John David Booty

2

0

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Brown

20

109

74

2

 

Allen Patrick

7

10

5

0

 

Sam Bradford

5

-11

10

0

 

Manuel Johnson

1

-12

-12

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

USC

 

 

 

 

 

John David Booty

15

26

0

227

1

Desmond Reed

1

1

0

31

0

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Bradford

27

46

2

318

1

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Davis

5

117

42

1

 

Patrick Turner

7

90

19

0

 

Desmond Reed

1

24

24

0

 

Vidal Hazleton

2

21

13

0

 

Stanley Havili

1

6

6

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Manuel Johnson

11

137

25

0

 

Malcolm Kelly

6

80

21

1

 

Chris Brown

4

51

19

0

 

Juaquin Iglesias

4

38

12

0

 

Allen Patrick

2

12

9

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence Jackson

13 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 sacks

 

Terrell Thomas

4 tackles, 1 Int. for TD

 

Clay Matthews

bk punt and return for TD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis Lofton

7 tackles, 1 TFL

 

D.J. Wolfe

5 tackles, 1 PBU

 

Lendy Holmes

5 tackles 

 

Player of the Game: Lawrence Jackson

December 26, 2007

NCAA Football Playoffs Computer Simulation–Semifinal Round

 

College Football Computer Simulation

 

NCAA Playoffs-Semifinal Round (simulated Date: 1/1/08)

 

SUGAR BOWL

 

Oklahoma 27  Ohio State 20

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Oklahoma

0

10

14

3

 

27

Ohio State

0

10

0

10

 

20

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

OSU: Chris Wells 6 yd. run, Pretorius Kick 2nd qtr. 11:43  OSU 7  OK 0

OK: Garrett Hartley 37 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 7:10  OSU 7  OK 3

OSU: Ryan Pretorius 42 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 3:07  OSU 10  OK 3

OK: Manuel Johnson 13 yd. pass from Bradford, Hartley Kick 2nd qtr. 0:11  OSU 10  OK 10

OK: Juaquin Iglesias 96 yd. kick return, Hartley Kick 3rd qtr. 14:47  OK 17  OSU 10

OK: Jacob Gutierrez 6 yd. run, Hartley Kick 3rd qtr. 8:39  OK 24  OSU 10

OK: Garrett Hartley 40 yd. FG 4th qtr. 10:00  OK 27  OSU 10

OSU: Ryan Pretorius 51 yd. FG 4th qtr. 7:46  OK 27  OSU 13

OSU: Todd Boeckman 17 yd. run, Hartley Kick 4th qtr. 5:18  OK 27  OSU 20

 

Team Statistics

Stat

OKL

OSU

FD

21

17

Rushing

41-177

39-122

Passing

216

259

Passes

17-30-0

19-37-2

Sacks-Yds

0-0

1-6

Fum-Lst

0-0

0-0

Punting

4-41.5

6-39.0

Punt Ret.

3-8.6

3-7.7

Kick Ret.

3-45.7

4-19.3

Penalties

4-30

5-45

T O P

30:17

29:43

 

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Brown

13

82

34

0

 

Allen Patrick

17

79

15

0

 

Jacob Gutierrz

8

19

6

1

 

Sam Bradford

3

-3

-1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Boeckman

15

59

17

1

 

Chris Wells

18

40

6

1

 

Maurice Wells

4

12

5

0

 

Ray Small

1

11

11

0

 

Brandon Saine

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Bradford

16

28

0

209

1

Joey Halzle

1

2

0

7

0

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Boeckman

19

36

2

259

0

Chris Wells

0

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Manuel Johnson

7

84

13

1

 

Juaquin Iglesias

4

73

22

0

 

Malcolm Kelly

3

37

16

0

 

Chris Brown

2

15

9

0

 

Sam Bradford

1

7

7

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Robiskie

8

132

38

0

 

Brian Hartline

8

87

17

0

 

Maurice Wells

3

40

15

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Reggie Smith

4 tackles. 1 TFL, 1 Int.

 

Curtis Lofton

4 tackles, 1 QBH

 

Nic Harris

4 tackles, 1 Int.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

James Laurinitis

12 tackles

 

Malcolm Jenkins

5 tackles, 1 PBU

 

Anderson Russell

4 tackles

 

 

 

ORANGE BOWL

 

Southern California 35  Arizona State 17

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Arizona State

7

7

3

0

 

17

Southern Cal

0

7

14

14

 

35

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

ASU: Chris McGaha 43 yd. pass from Carpenter, Weber Kick 1st qtr. 12:45  ASU 7  USC 0

ASU: Michael Jones 19 yd. pass from Carpenter, Weber Kick 2nd qtr. 9:17  ASU 14  USC 0

USC: Chauncey Washington 8 yd. run, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 3:09  ASU 14  USC 7

ASU: Thomas Weber 39 yd. FG 3rd qtr. 12:56  ASU 17  USC 7

USC: Chauncey Washington 14 yd. run, Buehler Kick 3rd qtr. 6:11  ASU 17  USC 14

USC: Patrick Turner 62 yd. run, Buehler Kick 3rd qtr. 2:14  USC 21  ASU 17

USC: Chauncey Washington 5 yd. run, Buehler Kick 4th qtr. 13:26  USC 28  ASU 17

USC: Desmond Reed 59 yd. punt return, Buehler Kick 4th qtr. 9:04  USC 35  ASU 17

 

Team Statistics

Stat

ASU

USC

FD

14

20

Rushing

24-55

52-318

Passing

259

151

Passes

20-43-1

14-22-0

Sacks-Yds

3-22

0-0

Fum-Lst

1-0

2-0

Punting

6-41.5

3-42.0

Punt Ret.

2-8.5

4-21.3

Kick Ret.

3-19.0

2-21.5

Penalties

6-40

7-60

T O P

24:43

35:17

 

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

ASU

 

 

 

 

 

Keegan Herring

13

51

9

0

 

Dimitri Nance

7

22

8

0

 

Kyle Williams

1

4

4

0

 

Rudy Carpenter

3

-22

-5

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

Chauncey Washington

32

174

19

3

 

Joe McKnight

16

67

13

0

 

Patrick Turner

1

62

62

1

 

Stanley Havili

2

9

5

0

 

John David Booty

1

6

6

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

ASU

 

 

 

 

 

Rudy Carpenter

20

43

1

259

2

 

 

 

 

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

John David Booty

14

22

0

151

0

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

ASU

 

 

 

 

 

Chris McGaha

6

98

43

1

 

Michael Jones

5

61

19

1

 

Tyrice Thompson

4

59

20

0

 

Rudy Burgess

2

23

14

0

 

Kyle Williams

2

15

10

0

 

Keegan Herring

1

3

3

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Davis

7

73

14

0

 

Patrick Turner

5

60

15

0

 

Stanley Havili

1

10

10

0

 

Vidal Hazelton

1

8

8

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

ASU

 

 

 

 

 

Dexter Davis

8 tackles, 1 TFL

 

Robert James

7 tackles

 

Troy Nolan

5 tackles

 

 

 

 

 

 

USC

 

 

 

 

 

Sedrick Ellis

9 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks

 

Terrell Thomas

4 tackles, 1 Int.

 

Desmond Reed

4 PR, 85 yds & 1 TD

 

 

 

Next: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

 

Oklahoma vs. Southern California

 

Results will be posted New Year’s Eve

December 13, 2007

2007 NCAA Football Playoffs–Quarterfinals Simulation

 

College Football Computer Simulation

 

NCAA Playoffs-Quarterfinal Round (simulated Date: 12/22/07)

 

FIESTA BOWL

 

Oklahoma 50 Florida 48 3 OT

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

OT

Total

Florida

7

10

0

15

16

48

Oklahoma

3

3

13

13

18

50

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

OKL: Garrett Hartley 37 yd. FG 1st qtr. 9:37 OU 3  FLA 0

FLA: Cornelius Ingram 6 yd. pass from Tebow, Ijjas Kick 1st qtr. 3:12  FLA 7  OU 3

FLA: Tim Tebow 4 yd. run, Ijjas Kick 2nd qtr. 11:39  FLA 14  OU 3

OKL: Garrett Hartley 41 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 8:08 FLA 14  OU 6

FLA: Joey Ijjas 40 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 2:15  FLA 17  OU 6

OKL: Jermaine Gresham 27 yd. pass from Bradford, 2-pt try failed 3rd qtr. 13:02 FLA 17  OU 12

OKL: Chris Brown 3 yd. run, Hartley Kick 3rd qtr. 3:11  OU 19  FLA 17

OKL: Malcolm Kelly 23 yd. pass from Bradford, 2-pt. try failed 4th qtr. 10:29  OU 25  FLA 17

OKL: Allen Patrick 49 yd. run, Hartley Kick 4th qtr. 6:52  OU 32  FLA 17

FLA: Percy Harvin 32 yd. pass from Tebow, Ijjas Kick 4th qtr. 4:12  OU 32  FLA 24

FLA: Percy Harvin 29 yd. run, Tebow run for 2 4th qtr. 0:47  OU 32  FLA 32

FLA: Tim Tebow 7 yd. run, Ijjas Kick OT1  FLA 39  OU 32

OKL: Chris Brown 1 yd. run, Hartley Kick OT1 FLA 39  OU 39

OKL: Garrett Hartley 42 yd. FG OT2  OU 42  FLA 39

FLA: Joey Ijjas 36 yd. FG OT2  OU 42  FLA 42

FLA: Louis Murphy 14 yd. pass from Tebow, 2-pt try failed OT3  FLA 48  OU 42

OKL: Sam Bradford 1 yd. run, Brown run for 2 OT3  OU 50  FLA 48

 

Team Statistics

Stat

FLA

OKL

FD

23

25

Rushing

42-197

48-233

Passing

289

279

Passes

24-42-0

25-39-0

Sacks-Yds

0-0

1-6

Fum-Lst

0-0

1-0

Punting

5-39.2

4-40.0

Punt Ret.

3-9.7

4-8.5

Kick Ret.

6-19.5

5-20.6

Penalties

6-35

7-45

T O P

28:44

31:16

 

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Tebow

18

93

20

2

 

Percy Harvin

16

78

29

1

 

Kestahn Moore

8

26

6

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Allen Patrick

27

161

49

1

 

Chris Brown

16

72

15

2

 

Jacob Gutierrez

3

5

3

0

 

Sam Bradford

2

-5

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Tebow

24

42

0

289

3

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Bradford

25

39

0

279

2

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Percy Harvin

10

135

32

1

 

Cornelius Ingram

7

80

18

1

 

Andre Caldwell

4

47

15

0

 

Louis Murphy

2

23

14

1

 

Kestahn Moore

1

4

4

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Malcolm Kelly

5

84

23

1

 

Juaquin Iglesias

6

54

12

0

 

Manuel Johnson

6

59

14

0

 

Jermaine Gresham

4

52

27

1

 

Joe Jon Finley

2

18

11

0

 

Allen Patrick

1

7

7

0

 

Chris Brown

1

5

5

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Joiner

7 tackles, 1 PBU

 

Dustin Doe

7 tackles

 

Derrick Harvey

4 tackles, 1 sack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis Lofton

10 tackles, 1 TFL

 

Reggie Smith

7 tackles, 1 PBU

 

D. J. Wolfe

6 tackles

 

 

 

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

 

Arizona State 20  Virginia Tech 16

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Arizona State

0

7

3

10

 

20

Virginia Tech

0

6

10

0

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

VT: Jud Dunleavy 38 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 8:55  VT 3  ASU 0

ASU: Michael Jones 17 yd. pass from Carpenter, Weber Kick 2nd qtr. 3:59  ASU 7  VT 3

VT: Jud Dunleavy 31 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 0:00  ASU 7  VT 6

VT: Tyrod Taylor 3 yd. run, Dunleavy Kick 3rd qtr. 11:48  VT 13  ASU 7

VT: Jud Dunleavy 35 yd. FG 3rd qtr. 6:02  VT 16  ASU 7

ASU: Thomas Weber 41 yd. FG 3rd qtr. 2:32  VT 16  ASU 10

ASU: Thomas Weber 37 yd. FG 4th qtr. 8:54  VT 16  ASU 13

ASU: Tyrice Thompson 71 yd. pass from Carpenter, Weber Kick 4th qtr. 3:21  ASU 20  VT 16

 

Team Statistics

Stat

ASU

VT

FD

17

16

Rushing

40-155

41-143

Passing

236

160

Passes

17-29-1

15-26-1

Sacks-Yds

2-11

0-0

Fum-Lst

2-1

1-0

Punting

6-39.0

6-42.5

Punt Ret.

4-9.5

5-12.6

Kick Ret.

4-18.8

5-21.0

Penalties

4-30

7-55

T O P

29:01

30:59

 

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Keegan Herring

20

102

17

0

 

Dimitri Nance

14

49

9

0

 

Chris McGaha

1

11

11

0

 

Kyle Williams

2

1

2

0

 

Rudy Carpenter

3

-8

3

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Tech

 

 

 

 

 

Branden Ore

26

88

11

0

 

Tyrod Taylor

12

49

12

0

 

Kenny Lewis

2

5

3

0

 

Sean Glennon

1

1

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Rudy Carpenter

17

29

1

236

2

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Tech

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Glennon

14

23

1

151

0

Tyrod Taylor

1

3

0

9

0

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Tyrice Thompson

3

93

71

1

 

Chris McGaha

7

64

13

0

 

Michael Jones

3

39

17

1

 

Rudy Burgess

3

32

18

0

 

Kyle Williams

1

8

8

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Tech

 

 

 

 

 

Josh Morgan

5

66

18

0

 

Justin Harper

5

48

11

0

 

Eddie Royal

3

32

14

0

 

Branden Ore

1

8

8

0

 

Greg Boone

1

6

6

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Robert James

9 tackles, 1 QBH

 

Troy Nolan

6 tackles, 1 Int.

 

Dexter Davis

3 tackles, 2 TFL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Tech

 

 

 

 

 

Xavier Adibi

8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack

 

Cam Martin

6 tackles, 1 sack

 

Barry Booker

6 tackles, 1 TFL

 

 

 

COTTON BOWL

 

Southern California 31  LSU 21

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Southern Cal

10

14

7

0

 

31

L S U

0

0

7

14

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

USC: David Buehler 37 yd. FG 1st qtr. 11:45  USC 3  LSU 0

USC: Chauncey Washington 27 yd. run, Buehler Kick 1st qtr 6:27  USC 10  LSU 0

USC: Fred Davis 79 yd. pass from Booty, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 8:42  USC 17  LSU 0

USC: Stanley Havili 12 yd. pass from Booty, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 1:47  USC 24  LSU 0

LSU: Trindon Holliday 94 yd. Kick Return, David Kick 3rd qtr. 14:49  USC 24  LSU 7

USC: Fred Davis 12 yd. pass from Booty, Buehler Kick 3rd qtr. 3:56  USC 31  LSU 7

LSU: Craig Steltz 48 yd. Interception Return, David Kick 4th qtr. 14:11  USC 31  LSU 14

LSU: Jacob Hester 5 yd. run, David Kick 4th qtr. 2:00  USC 31  LSU 21

 

Team Statistics

Stat

USC

LSU

FD

19

12

Rushing

40-164

27-99

Passing

281

158

Passes

22-36-1

16-33-2

Sacks-Yds

1-5

4-22

Fum-Lst

2-1

2-1

Punting

3-35.7

8-42.0

Punt Ret.

6-11.5

2-11.5

Kick Ret.

3-19.7

6-30.7

Penalties

6-45

4-25

T O P

33:19

26:41

 

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

Chauncey Washington

20

98

27

1

 

Joe McKnight

8

27

6

0

 

Stafon Johnson

6

21

7

0

 

Stanley Havili

1

11

11

0

 

John David Booty

2

10

9

0

 

Desmond Reed

3

-3

-1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

L S U

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Hester

14

80

12

1

 

Keiland Williams

3

17

8

0

 

Trindon Holliday

4

13

5

0

 

Ryan Perriloux

2

11

9

0

 

Matt Flynn

4

-22

-3

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

John David Booty

22

36

1

281

3

 

 

 

 

 

L S U

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Flynn

13

26

1

135

0

Ryan Perriloux

3

7

1

23

0

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Davis

4

109

79

2

 

Patrick Turner

8

80

16

0

 

Vidal Hazleton

7

64

13

0

 

Stanley Havili

2

17

12

1

 

Joe McKnight

1

11

11

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

L S U

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon LaFell

8

94

18

0

 

Early Doucet

5

52

14

0

 

Demetrius Byrd

2

13

9

0

 

Jacob Hester

1

-1

-1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence Jackson

7 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 TFL

 

Sedrick Ellis

4 tackles, 2 sacks

 

Terrell Thomas

4 tackles, 1 Int., 1 PBU

 

 

 

 

 

 

L S U

 

 

 

 

 

Craig Steltz

7 tackles, 1 Int. for TD

 

Danny McCray

5 tackles

 

Ali Highsmith

4 tackles, 1 PBU

 

 

 

ROSE BOWL

 

Ohio State 28  West Virginia 17

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Ohio State

7

7

7

7

 

28

West Virginia

0

10

0

7

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

OSU: Chris Wells 8 yd. run, Pretorius Kick 1st qtr. 10:03  OSU 7  WVA 0

WVA: Patrick White 26 yd. run, McAfee Kick 2nd qtr. 12:11  OSU 7  WVA 7

WVA: Pat McAfee 49 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 6:09  WVA 10  OSU 7

OSU: Chris Wells 11 yd. run, Pretorius Kick 2nd qtr. 1:54  OSU 14  WVA 10

OSU: Brian Robiskie 33 yd. pass from Boeckman, Pretorius Kick 3rd qtr. 6:33  OSU 21 WVA 10

OSU: Chris Wells 6 yd. run, Pretorius Kick  4th qtr. 10:11  OSU 28  WVA 10

WVA: Steve Slaton 21 yd. pass from White, McAfee Kick 4th qtr. 4:32  OSU 28  WVA 17

 

Team Statistics

Stat

OSU

WVA

FD

20

16

Rushing

45-211

39-180

Passing

173

132

Passes

14-24-1

12-23-1

Sacks-Yds

0-0

0-0

Fum-Lst

0-0

1-1

Punting

4-43.3

6-40.7

Punt Ret.

4-8.0

3-7.3

Kick Ret.

3-18.0

5-20.2

Penalties

4-25

6-50

T O P

34:39

25:21

 

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Wells

21

129

18

3

 

Maurice Wells

16

59

10

0

 

Todd Boeckman

6

20

12

0

 

Brandon Saine

1

3

3

0

 

Ray Small

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Slaton

19

75

11

0

 

Patrick White

14

73

26

1

 

Noel Devine

2

19

16

0

 

Owen Schmitt

3

11

5

0

 

Jarrett Brown

1

2

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Boeckman

14

24

1

173

1

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick White

12

23

1

132

1

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Robiskie

4

75

33

1

 

Brian Hartline

4

56

18

0

 

Rory Nichol

3

22

9

0

 

Ray Small

2

13

8

0

 

Maurice Wells

1

7

7

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Dorrell Jalloh

4

64

22

0

 

Steve Slaton

2

29

21

1

 

Darius Reynaud

4

26

11

0

 

Owen Schmitt

2

13

10

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Ohio State

 

 

 

 

 

James Laurinaitis

12 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU

 

Marcus Freeman

7 tackles

 

Anderson Russell

4 tackles, 1 Int.

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Reed Williams

6 tackles, 1 TFL

 

Ryan Mundy

6 tackles

 

Johnny Dingle

5 tackles, 1 QBH

 

 

Next Up: Semifinals

 

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Ohio State

 

Orange Bowl: Southern California vs. Arizona State

December 7, 2007

2007 NCAA Football Playoffs–Round One Simulation

 

College Football Computer Simulation

 

NCAA Playoffs-1st Round (simulated Date: 12/8/07)

 

GATOR BOWL

 

Florida 34 Georgia 24

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Florida

10

7

14

3

 

34

Georgia

7

3

7

7

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

FLA: Tim Tebow 4 yd. run, Ijjas Kick 1st qtr. 8:42   Fla 7  Ga. 0

GA: Sean Bailey 16 yd. pass from Stafford, Coutu Kick 1st qtr. 3:11  Fla 7  Ga 7

FLA: Joey Ijjas 37 yd. FG 1st qtr. 0:13  Fla 10  Ga 7

FLA: Andre Caldwell 13 yd. pass from Tebow, Ijjas Kick 2nd qtr. 11:21  Fla 17  Ga 7

GA: Brandon Coutu 46 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 0:00  Fla 17  Ga 10

GA: Knowshon Moreno 10 yd. run, Coutu Kick 3rd qtr. 10:47  Fla 17  Ga 17

FLA: Brandon James 98 yd. kick return, Ijjas Kick 3rd qtr. 10:35  Fla 24  Ga 17

FLA: Tim Tebow 11 yd. run, Ijjas Kick 3rd qtr. 6:59  Fla 31  Ga 17

FLA: Joey Ijjas 33 yd. FG 4th qtr. 9:38  Fla 34  Ga 17

GA: Mohamed Massaquoi 21 yd. pass from Stafford, Coutu Kick 4th qtr. 2:30  Fla 34  Ga 24

Team Statistics

Stat

FLA

GA

FD

21

17

Rushing

42-185

33-112

Passing

214

228

Passes

18-27-0

22-41-2

Sacks-Yds

0-0

1-7

Fum-Lst

1-0

1-1

Punting

3-41.7

5-39.6

Punt Ret.

3-7.8

1-9.0

Kick Ret.

4-21.3

6-18.7

Penalties

4-25

5-35

T O P

29:01

30:59

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Tebow

16

75

11

2

 

Percy Harvin

15

66

10

0

 

Kestahn Moore

10

39

7

0

 

Jarred Fayson

1

5

5

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Brown

16

63

13

0

 

Knowshon Moreno

11

43

10

1

 

Shaun Chappas

2

5

4

0

 

Brannan Southerland

1

3

3

0

 

Sean Bailey

1

2

2

0

 

Matthew Stafford

2

-4

3

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Tebow

18

27

0

214

1

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Stafford

22

41

2

228

2

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Percy Harvin

4

56

19

0

 

Andre Caldwell

5

52

16

1

 

Louis Murphy

3

40

17

0

 

Cornelius Ingram

3

37

16

0

 

Kestahn Moore

1

15

15

0

 

Jarred Fayson

2

14

8

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Mohamed Massaquoi

5

71

21

1

 

Sean Bailey

5

60

18

1

 

Tripp Chandler

5

41

10

0

 

Mikey Henderson

4

35

12

0

 

Knowshon Moreno

2

13

8

0

 

Thomas Brown

1

8

8

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon Spikes

9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU

 

Dustin Doe

6 tackles

 

Jermaine Cunningham

5 tackles, 1 sack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

Dannell Ellerbe

7 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH

 

Reshad Jones

5 tackles

 

Asher Allen

4 tackles

 

 

 

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL

 

West Virginia 27 Kansas 25

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

West Virginia

0

10

7

10

 

27

Kansas

6

7

6

6

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

KAN: Scott Webb 39 yd. FG 1st qtr. 5:51  Kan 3  WVa 0

KAN: Scott Webb 37 yd. FG 1st qtr. 1:10  Kan 6  WVa 0

KAN: Brandon McAnderson 6 yd. run, Webb Kick 2nd qtr. 11:37  Kan 13  WVa 0

WVA: Pat McAfee 48 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 6:09  Kan 13  WVa 3

WVA: Noel Devine 58 yd. run, McAfee Kick 2nd qtr 0:53  Kan 13  WVa 10

KAN: Scott Webb 40 yd. FG 3rd qtr. 12:19  Kan 16  WVa 10

WVA: Pat White 2 yd. run, McAfee Kick 3rd qtr. 4:39  WVa 17  Kan 16

KAN: Scott Webb 37 yd. FG 3rd qtr. 1:02  Kan 19  WVa 17

KAN: Marcus Henry 64 yd. pass from Reesing, 2-pt try failed 4th qtr. 9:12  Kan 25  WVa 17

WVA: Pat McAfee 34 yd. FG 4th qtr. 7:16  Kan 25  WVa 20

WVA: Steve Slaton 18 yd. run, McAfee Kick 4th qtr. 0:32  WVa 27  Kan 25

Team Statistics

Stat

WVA

KU

FD

19

22

Rushing

47-251

37-185

Passing

159

211

Passes

13-23-1

18-33-0

Sacks-Yds

0-0

1-7

Fum-Lst

2-0

1-0

Punting

6-40.5

4-37.3

Punt Ret.

3-10.3

4-5.0

Kick Ret.

6-22.5

5-20.0

Penalties

6-39

5-40

T O P

32:37

27:23

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Pat White

21

91

12

1

 

Steve Slaton

19

79

18

1

 

Noel Devine

5

75

58

1

 

Owen Schmitt

2

6

4

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon McAnderson

19

112

21

1

 

Jake Sharp

13

70

12

0

 

Todd Reesing

4

3

5

0

 

Dexton Fields

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Pat White

13

23

1

159

0

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Reesing

18

33

0

211

0

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Darius Reynaud

8

113

27

0

 

Dorrell Jalloh

2

21

13

0

 

Steve Slaton

2

19

11

0

 

Owen Schmitt

1

6

6

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

Marcus Henry

3

85

64

1

 

Dexton Fields

6

53

12

0

 

Derek Fine

3

32

12

0

 

Brandon McAnderson

4

29

10

0

 

Dezmon Briscoe

2

12

6

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

Reed Williams

9 tackles

 

Marc Magro

7 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack

 

Mortty Ivy

7 tackles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Mortensen

8 tackles, 2 TFL

 

Mike Rivera

7 tackles, 1 PBU

 

James Holt

7 tackles, 1 TFL

 

HOLIDAY BOWL

 

Southern California 45 Hawaii 24

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Southern Cal

14

14

3

14

 

45

Hawaii

3

0

7

14

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

USC: Chauncey Washington 8 yd. run, Buehler Kick 1st qtr. 9:42  USC 7  Haw 0

USC: John David Booty 1 yd. run, Buehler Kick 1st qtr. 5:28  USC 14  Haw 0

HAW: Dan Kelly 40 yd. FG 1st qtr. 2:55  USC 14  Haw 3

USC: Joe McKnight 8 yd. run, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 11:44  USC 21  Haw 3

USC: Fred Davis 14 yd. pass from Booty, Buehler Kick 2nd qtr. 4:57  USC 28  Haw 3

HAW: Jason Rivers 17 yd. pass from Brennan, Kelly Kick 3rd qtr. 8:38  USC 28  Haw 10

USC: David Buehler 49 yd. FG 3rd qtr. 1:43  USC 31  Haw 10

USC: Chauncey Washington 6 yd. run, Buehler Kick 4th qtr. 13:12  USC 38  Haw 10

USC: Keith Rivers recovered fumble in end zone, Buehler Kick 4th qtr. 11:58  USC 45  Haw 10

HAW: Ryan Grice-Mullen 18 yd. pass from Brennan, Kelly Kick 4th qtr. 6:08  USC 45  Haw 17

HAW: Davone Bess 11 yd. pass from Brennan, Kelly Kick 4th qtr. 2:33  USC 45  Haw 24

Team Statistics

Stat

USC

HAW

FD

26

22

Rushing

42-223

19-40

Passing

255

444

Passes

23-36-0

37-56-2

Sacks-Yds

0-0

5-27

Fum-Lst

0-0

1-1

Punting

1-38.0

3-40.3

Punt Ret.

3-5.7

0-0

Kick Ret.

4-23.0

8-21.3

Penalties

6-40

4-27

T O P

34:22

25:38

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

Chauncey Washington

19

153

24

2

 

Stafon Johnson

12

46

11

0

 

Joe McKnight

5

19

8

1

 

Stanley Havili

2

7

4

0

 

John David Booty

4

-2

-1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

Kealoa Pilares

11

63

19

0

 

Daniel Libre

3

4

4

0

 

Colt Brennan

5

-27

-2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

John David Booty

23

35

0

255

1

Desmond Reed

0

1

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

Colt Brennan

37

56

2

444

3

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Turner

13

133

18

0

 

Stanley Havili

6

79

20

0

 

Fred Davis

3

34

15

1

 

Vidal Hazelton

1

9

9

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Grice-Mullen

12

172

30

1

 

Davone Bess

8

103

19

1

 

Jason Rivers

7

85

20

1

 

Daniel Libre

4

41

15

0

 

C.J. Hawthorne

4

36

13

0

 

Kealoa Pilares

2

7

7

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Southern Cal

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Rivers

7 tackles, 1 Fum Rec for TD

 

Rey Maualuga

6 tackles, 1 TFL

 

Lawrence Jackson

5 tackles, 2 sacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Patek

8 tackles, 1 PBU

 

Solomon Elimimian

6 tackles

 

Adam Leonard

5 tackles, 1 TFL

 

OUTBACK BOWL

 

Arizona State 38 Missouri 30

 

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

 

Total

Missouri

7

9

7

7

 

30

Arizona State

0

3

21

14

 

38

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Summary

MO: Jeremy Maclin 21 yd. run, Wolfert Kick 1st qtr. 7:29  Mo 7  ASU 0

MO: Safety–ASU holding penalty in end zone 2nd qtr. 13:48  Mo 9  ASU 0

MO: Martin Rucker 17 yd. pass from Daniel, Wolfert Kick 2nd qtr. 9:25  Mo 16  ASU 0

ASU: Thomas Weber 51 yd. FG 2nd qtr. 0:03  Mo 16  ASU 3

MO: Jeremy Maclin 43 yd. pass from Daniel, Wolfert Kick 3rd qtr. 10:09  Mo 23  ASU 3

ASU: Michael Jones 21 yd. pass from Carpenter, Weber Kick 3rd qtr. 8:11  Mo 23  ASU 10

ASU: Justin Tryon 61 yd. Interception return, Weber Kick 3rd qtr. 5:41  Mo 23  ASU 17

ASU: Keegan Herring 9 yd. run, Weber Kick 3rd qtr. 1:17  ASU 24  Mo 23

ASU: Kyle Williams 14 yd. pass from Carpenter, Weber Kick 4th qtr. 9:56  ASU 31  Mo 23

ASU: Keegan Herring 24 yd. run, Weber Kick 4th qtr. 6:40  ASU 38  Mo 23

MO: Chase Daniel 7 yd. run, Wolfert Kick 4th qtr. 2:20  ASU 38  Mo 30

Team Statistics

Stat

MO

ASU

FD

23

22

Rushing

37-161

39-132

Passing

296

278

Passes

27-40-2

19-33-1

Sacks-Yds

3-15

2-14

Fum-Lst

1-0

2-1

Punting

4-36.1

3-39.1

Punt Ret.

1-12.0

3-10.7

Kick Ret.

6-20.8

5-22.0

Penalties

7-55

4-30

T O P

33:16

26:44

Individual Stats

 

 

 

 

 

Rushing

Att

Yds

Long

TD

 

Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Temple

22

110

14

0

 

Chase Daniel

9

18

8

1

 

Jeremy Maclin

2

24

21

1

 

Jimmy Jackson

3

7

3

0

 

Danario Alexander

1

2

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Keegan Herring

19

77

14

2

 

Dimitri Nance

16

66

17

0

 

Kyle Williams

1

4

4

0

 

Rudy Carpenter

3

-15

-1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing

Comp

Att

Int

Yds

TD

Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

Chase Daniel

27

40

2

296

2

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Rudy Carpenter

19

33

1

278

2

 

 

 

 

 

Receiving

Rec

Yds

LG

TD

 

Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Rucker

8

85

17

1

 

Chase Coffman

8

82

17

0

 

Jeremy Maclin

4

73

43

1

 

Will Franklin

4

33

11

0

 

Tommy Saunders

2

15

9

0

 

Danario Alexander

1

8

8

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Jones

6

132

34

1

 

Chris McGaha

7

74

15

0

 

Rudy Burgess

4

53

18

0

 

Kyle Williams

2

19

14

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading Defensive Players

 

 

 

 

Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

William Moore

7 tackles, 1 PBU

 

Sean Weatherspoon

6 tackles, 1 TFL

 

Justin Garrett

4 tackles, 1 Int.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona State

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Tryon

5 tackles, 1 Int for TD

 

Troy Nolan

5 tackles, 1 Int.

 

Robert James

5 tackles, 2 sacks

 

Coming Next:  The Quarterfinals (Elite Eight)

 

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Florida

 

Capital One Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Arizona State

 

Cotton Bowl: L S U vs. Southern California

 

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. West Virginia

 

Look for the results of this round to be posted the week of Saturday, December 15, even though this round is simulated to take place on December 22.

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