The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 23, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Games of Friday, March 23

Sweet 16–Friday, March 23

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Kansas Clemson 1.7
Villanova West Virginia 6.4
Duke Syracuse 5.1
Purdue Texas Tech 3.3

Friday Night’s Schedule

Friday, Mar 23, 2018
TIME (EDT) Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
7:07 PM 1 Kansas 5 Clemson Omaha CBS
7:27 PM 1 Villanova 5 West Virginia Boston TBS
9:37 PM 2 Duke 11 Syracuse Omaha CBS
9:57 PM 2 Purdue 3 Texas Tech Boston TBS

 

 

 

 

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March 22, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Games of Thursday, March 22

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Nevada Loyola (IL) 2.7
Michigan Texas A&M 2.5
Kentucky Kansas St. 4.4
Gonzaga Florida St. 5.0

Thursday Night’s TV Schedule

Thursday, Mar 22, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
7:07 PM 7 Nevada 11 Loyola (Chi.) Atlanta CBS
7:37 PM 3 Michigan 7 Texas A&M Los Angeles TBS
9:37 PM 5 Kentucky 9 Kansas St. Atlanta CBS
10:07 PM 4 Gonzaga 9 Florida St. Los Angeles TBS

We’ve All Busted

What a year to debut a new bracket-picking trial!  How can we tell if this criteria has any credibility when nobody in the world can show any formula or any human picking ability that would have worked in the first two rounds.

Tonight, there will be no one-seeds or two-seeds playing.  Michigan is the only three-seed playing tonight.  Instead, we will see a seven, two nines, and an 11-seed in action.  Then, on Saturday either Nevada or Loyola will be playing for a spot in the Final Four.

Things will get a tad less crazy tomorrow night when two ones and two twos play, but in only one case is a Sweet 16 game going to have the two teams the seeding process believed should be there.

All is not lost.  We still have three of our four predicted Final Four teams alive, including the team we believe would win the National Championship.

Here is a look at the PiRate Ratings 2018 Criteria for the Sweet 16.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Clemson Y 25-9 74-66 6.68 7.9 59.83
Duke Y 28-7 85-69 10.11 21.7 60.69
Florida St. Y 22-11 81-74 4.18 10.6 58.79
Gonzaga Y 32-4 84-68 9.37 22.6 53.89
Kansas Y 29-7 81-71 8.34 5.4 61.30
Kansas St. Y 24-11 72-67 3.69 0.9 59.08
Kentucky Y 26-10 77-71 5.38 12.3 60.66
Loyola (Chi.) Y 30-5 72-62 9.82 6.7 51.44
Michigan Y 30-7 74-63 5.43 10.0 59.52
Nevada Y 29-7 83-73 5.97 6.4 55.05
Purdue Y 30-6 81-65 11.43 10.5 59.31
Syracuse Y 22-13 67-64 1.55 11.3 58.92
Texas A&M Y 22-12 75-70 4.73 12.9 61.02
Texas Tech Y 26-9 75-65 5.15 14.5 59.89
Villanova Y 32-4 88-76 10.18 13.1 60.33
West Virginia Y 26-10 80-69 0.66 16.9 60.59

Immediately, we can see one very consistent pattern here.  All of the Sweet 16 teams come from what we call the “Power Conferences.”  A Power Conference is one in which the overall league RPI is one of the top 12.  The Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and West Coast Conferences rank in the top 12, so really, there are no completely surprise teams.  We just failed to hit on these regular season champions of these leagues.  We may have to add a caveat in the future that when the regular season champion of one of these leagues makes the tournament to watch out for them as an underdog, because in most cases, they have been seeded incorrectly.

Loyola, Nevada, and Gonzaga did not look like they were fluke wins in the two rounds.  Loyola’s defense and intelligent half-court offense looked a lot like Butler during their back-to-back runs to the Final Four.  Gonzaga should be no surprise by now.  They are to this generation what UNLV and Marquette were to the 1970’s.  Nevada should have been no surprise, as we have only lauded Coach Eric Musselman as the best men’s basketball coach since about December of 2016.  How he orchestrated a couple of wins this past weekend with a six-man roster is incredible, and he did it against Cincinnati with multiple players in early foul trouble.  We hear that he is on the radar for other jobs that could bring him quite a jump in salary, but we believe that he is more likely to return to the NBA before taking another college position.

Looking at the data above, 15 of the 16 teams look like they belong in the Sweet 16.  Kansas State is the lone outlier, but look at how they got here from the previous round.  They became the first team ever to face a 16-seed in the Round of 32, and the Wildcats almost didn’t beat UMBC.

We have delayed this report where we preview all eight games in the Sweet 16, as we feverishly try to discover if certain injured players will be able to contribute in any way.  Tops on that list is Purdue’s Isaac Haas.  Who says that sports cannot expand the minds of our youth today?  The entire Purdue University Engineering department, professors and students, have been hard at work trying to create an NCAA-approved sleeve to protect Hass’s shattered elbow, and they have a deadline fast approaching.  It isn’t exactly finding a way to bring home Apollo 13, but it’s still an honorable task that could help dozens of Millenials develop some confidence and resume-building gold.

Kentucky’s Jarred Vanderbilt could conceivably play a few minutes here and there tonight against Kansas St., but it is more likely that he will be held out in order to possibly contribute a little more if the Wildcats make it to the Elite 8.

Then, there is Nevada.  How does a team get outrebounded by 15 boards, force just seven turnovers, and make just six, 3-pointers and win a Round of 32 game?  How does this same team get behind by 22 points, see three players on a roster of just six get in early foul trouble, and still come from behind to beat a top 10 team?

Maybe Mariah Musselman is just as powerful as Sister Jean.  Of course, one of these two will see the magic come to an end tonight.  This will be a game that looks more like a chess match between two geniuses than a racehorse up and down affair.  It should be tense for 40 minutes.

Out in Los Angeles, the Michigan-Texas A&M game is intriguing.  Michigan’s new inside presence on both sides of the floor has made the Wolverines better able to face the power teams, while their outside game is still strong.  Can the Aggies use a little superior quickness in this game to lead to a repeat performance of their Round of 32 dismantling of the Tar Heels?  Michigan’s defense will be a tad more difficult to solve than North Carolina’s, and this game should be exciting to the final few possessions.

On paper, the final game of the night looks like a potential mismatch, but in this wacky season, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the underdog wins.

It’s time to preview all eight Sweet 16 games.  We will talk more about Friday’s games on Friday morning.

Nevada vs. Loyola (Chi.)

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Nevada Y 29-7 83-73 5.97 6.4 55.05
Loyola (Chi.) Y 30-5 72-62 9.82 6.7 51.44
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Nevada -0.64 6.11 4.42 3.08 58.4 52.4
Loyola (Chi.) 1.49 6.51 6.43 0.94 60.2 50.4

Loyola does not force turnovers, but the Ramblers also do not commit many.  While being a decent rebounding team, they do not control the boards, which is Nevada’s Kryptonite.  So, neither team will really exploit the other’s weakness.This is an excellent chess game according to the criteria results.  Nevada needs to force turnovers or at least commit very few to be successful.  They beat Cincinnati by committing just two turnovers in the entire game in Nashville!

Looking at true shooting percentage margin and schedule strength, once again, these two factors cancel out each other.

It comes down to which team can handle a little adversity early in the second half and then make maybe one run.  Think of a classic horse race, where you have a bunch of horses that come from just off the pace and have one run in them.  Which horse will get the perfect trip and be in position to cross the line first?

We admit that we have no sure statistic to look at and say that our choice is solid.  Nevada surely cannot keep playing a rotation of six players and not suffer fatigue.  Loyola cannot expect to keep winning without being able to score a bevy of cheap baskets as the competition gets tougher by the round.

We are going to go with the PiRate Ratings chalk in this one, since we have no other data to rely on to make this pick.  The PiRate Ratings favors the Wolf Pack by 2.7 points, so our pick is: NEVADA

 

Michigan vs. Texas A&M

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Michigan Y 30-7 74-63 5.43 10.0 59.52
Texas A&M Y 22-12 75-70 4.73 12.9 61.02
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Michigan 0.73 6.14 4.11 3.54 56.5 51.1
Texas A&M 6.56 5.50 6.35 -2.65 53.9 49.2

We could almost copy and paste the information from the prior game into this section and just change the names.  Once again, we have a team (Michigan) that is excellent in turnover margin against a top-flight schedule, but that has at times been exploited on the boards, while Texas A&M dominates on the glass but suffers in turnover margin against a slightly stronger schedule.  The teams are about equal in true shooting percentage margin, with the exception that the Wolverine’s advantage tilts a little more toward superior offense, while the Aggies’ advantage tilts a little more toward superior defense.

We are going to make an unscientific assumption about this game, so please feel free to consider it a load of hooey.  We have looked through our mother of pearl shells and think we foresee a tense start of this game, where the team that can get in trouble with turnover margin will be a bit tight, and the Aggies will either turn the ball over a bit too much in the first half or play not to make mistakes and then shoot much lower than their normal percentage, even missing some close-in shots that they hardly ever miss.

Thus,  our wacky belief is that Michigan will get the early lead and then fight the rest of the night to keep it, once A&M starts to lose the tension.  We’ll go with Coach John Beilein to guide the Maize and Blue back to another Elite 8 appearance.  Our Pick: MICHIGAN

 

Kentucky vs. Kansas St.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kentucky Y 26-10 77-71 5.38 12.3 60.66
Kansas St. Y 24-11 72-67 3.69 0.9 59.08
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kentucky 5.06 5.64 5.56 -1.08 55.7 50.3
Kansas St. -3.00 7.86 5.77 2.71 56.7 53.0

This actually isn’t the most important Kentucky-Kansas State game in the schools’ histories.  These two Wildcats faced off 67 years ago, minus five days, for the 1951 National Championship on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky squad won his third national title in four years, but it was a close game until late.

Back to the present time.  This game looks on the surface to be rather one-sided.  Kentucky, even without Jarred Vanderbilt, looks a bit too strong for Kansas State.

Hey, did you notice that this makes three out of three games, where one team has the superior rebounding edge, and the other has an equally superior turnover edge?  The difference in this game and the other two is that Kansas State’s advantages are almost nil.  Their R+T Rating is just barely positive, and in our past years relying on R+T, we cannot remember any team with a rating as low as 0.9 ever making the Elite 8.  Because Kentucky’s R+T Rating is 12.3, Coach John Calipari’s Cats will be expected to receive about 11 more cheap scoring opportunities.  When you factor in that Kentucky also has a minor true shooting percentage margin edge, this leads us to forecast a double-digit Kentucky win tonight.  Our pick: KENTUCKY 

 

Gonzaga vs. Florida St.

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Gonzaga Y 32-4 84-68 9.37 22.6 53.89
Florida St. Y 22-11 81-74 4.18 10.6 58.79
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Gonzaga 8.75 6.36 5.06 0.97 59.8 50.4
Florida St. 2.85 6.88 5.85 1.30 56.5 52.3

The underdog Seminoles look to have a fighting chance in this game due to their superior schedule strength.  Florida State does not have a serious exploitable flaw.  They just don’t have a major statistic that is a decisive asset.

Gonzaga has an incredible R+T rating that many Final Four teams in the past have possessed.  Their almost 10% true shooting percentage is also Final Fourish, as is their 16-point average margin of victory.  Teams seldom win by an average margin this high that cannot go on major runs at the right time.  It just isn’t easy to slowly pull away by a point here and there until the lead is past 15 points.  The number one event that usually leads a team deep into tournament play is the ability to have a big spurt at the right time, and Gonzaga is clearly the team that can do this tonight.

The way we see this game is that FSU will take an early lead in the first half, and then Gonzaga will go on its first of three or four scoring runs to grab the lead and then extend the lead to five or six by halftime.  Then, the Bulldogs will make their patented big run in the second half to put the game out of reach.  The Seminoles may make a valiant effort in the final minutes, but it will be too little, too late.  Our Pick: GONZAGA

 

Friday’s Games

Kansas vs. Clemson

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Kansas Y 29-7 81-71 8.34 5.4 61.30
Clemson Y 25-9 74-66 6.68 7.9 59.83
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Kansas 0.08 6.67 5.50 1.44 59.8 51.4
Clemson 2.44 5.65 5.74 -0.06 56.7 50.1

Most casual fans will look at this game and immediately dismiss it as a Jayhawk blowout win.  This is far from being the probable case.  This is a Kansas team with exploitable weaknesses not typical for a Bill Self production.  KU has an exceptional offense, but their defense is prone to lapses.  In a game where the action is fierce on the glass, the Jayhawks do not bring their usual centaurs to the fight.  Rebounding is a liability with this club.  KU doesn’t make up for this weakness with an exceptional turnover margin, but they do pick up a good number of steals that lead to fast break points.

Clemson and championships go hand-in-hand, just not in basketball.  This group of Tigers competed admirably in the ACC race this year, and they have an experienced backcourt.  While CU has an issue with turnovers, this liability will most likely not be used to KU’s advantage.  Clemson can rebound with competence, and the Tigers know how to stop their opponents from scoring just long enough to put a game away.

Only because of experience and a slightly more difficult schedule do we stick with the logical team in this one, but it will not be an easy victory, and it will almost assuredly be their last one of the season.  Our pick: KANSAS

Villanova vs. West Virginia

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Villanova Y 32-4 88-76 10.18 13.1 60.33
West Virginia Y 26-10 80-69 0.66 16.9 60.59
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Villanova 2.86 6.67 4.67 2.72 62.4 52.2
West Virginia 3.61 8.08 5.53 5.17 54.5 53.9

Finally, we get a game where the rebounding and turnover issue does not matter as much as in the other games.  Right away, that should tell you which way we think this game will go.  Press Virginia needs to score points off steals and stop the other team from scoring against the press by either forcing them to throw the ball away or by using up so much clock that they must shoot a low-percentage shot.

Villanova is built for press-breaking and scoring easy baskets once the press is broken.  We believe Coach Bob Huggins might have to call the press off if VU scores too many times on crips.

West Virginia just cannot win a finesse game against this team.  Villanova enjoys a commanding true shooting percentage margin advantage in this game, and we have seen WVU players throw up their share of bricks.  This game should eventually get out of hand, as the team that won the title two years ago makes it look like they could return to the Final Four this year.  Our pick: VILLANOVA

Duke vs. Syracuse

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Duke Y 28-7 85-69 10.11 21.7 60.69
Syracuse Y 22-13 67-64 1.55 11.3 58.92
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Duke 9.20 7.37 5.77 -0.66 59.0 48.9
Syracuse 3.69 7.08 6.11 0.50 51.8 50.2

If you are a Baby Boomer, you know doubt know that the campy TV version of Batman is the only real, legitimate production.  Those movies just capitalized on the great reputation of Adam West of blessed memory.

There was a double episode where Batman faced the Joker, where the going was tough, because the Joker created his own utility belt.  He hand sneezing powder in there.  He had hand-shocking buzzers in there.  He had a bevy of evil tricks to combat the Caped Crusaders.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?  The villainous Blue Devils have their own utility belt.  It is called the 2-3 zone, and early in its employment, it is beating the original one created by Bruce Wayne, aka Jim Boeheim.

The element of surprise disappears for the Cinderella Orangemen Friday.  The Duke Blue Devils know how to attack Syracuse’s defense, and they know how to employ their own utility belt 2-3 zone that for now is proving to be superior to Batman’s, er Syracuse’s.

Here’s the rub.  Duke can penetrate and score inside against Syracuse, something that Arizona State, TCU, and Michigan State could not do.  The Blue Devils have excellent perimeter shooters, and Syracuse will not be able to pack their defense in the paint.  Duke will get open three-pointers and also be able to initiate enough penetration to the point where the Orangemen will either have to give up easy 10-12 foot shots or challenge and become overly vulnerable to a very athletic and very big front line.

On the other side of the ball, Duke’s new 2-3 zone is much more athletic than the Syracuse zone.  At times, Duke makes this look more like a 3-2 drop zone, and we have seen the back line move up into an almost 4-1 look while still protecting the basket.

If you have been reading this site this year, then you know that we are sticking with the Blue Devils to cut down the nets in San Antonio.  The PiRate criteria says this game is a mismatch, and there is nothing we see that makes us think there is a reason not to expect a win by 15-20 points for Coach K’s Army.  Our pick: DUKE

Purdue vs. Texas Tech

Team Power W-L Scr TS% Diff R+T SOS
Purdue Y 30-6 81-65 11.43 10.5 59.31
Texas Tech Y 26-9 75-65 5.15 14.5 59.89
             
Team Reb Stl Opp Stl TO TS% Def TS%
Purdue 2.64 5.72 5.14 1.53 60.8 49.4
Texas Tech 4.11 7.26 5.97 2.57 55.8 50.6

This game would be an easy one to forecast if Isaac Haas were available and at least 80% of his usual self.  Purdue finally had the talent and playing style to make it to the Final Four, but losing Haas’s top-quality offensive efficiency really hurts the Boilermakers.

Texas Tech is a solid but not spectacular team. The Red Raiders are not the same team they were prior to Zach Smith’s injury.  TTU was 14-1 when Smith was lost for almost eight weeks.  They went 8-6 without him, and they only went 2-2 to close out the regular season once he returned nowhere near as effective as he had been.

Smith began to resemble his old self in the Stephen F. Austin game, and maybe he is coming back into form, where he can supplement his team by coming off the bench.  It is hard to recover that quickly from a broken foot, so it’s uncertain how many minutes he can play and stay effective.

At least Smith can play, which is more than we can say about Haas.  Purdue played courageously in their win over Butler.  Freshman giant Matt Haarms, took over for Haas at center, but there was a huge drop in talent between 7 foot 2 inch giants.  Haarms connected on just one shot from the field and seemed a bit stiff trying to play defense in the paint or pulling down rebounds.  It took a monumental outside shooting effort for the Boilermakers to win.

Texas Tech is a bigger force to beat without a principle weapon.  The Red Raiders will neutralize Purdue’s outside game with four competent perimeter defenders that will keep man-to-man pressure outside.

There may be one more win inside the Boilermaker Express, even if they have one less engine on the track.  Texas Tech doesn’t really have the fantastic inside presence to exploit Purdue’s loss of Haas, and Haarms just might come up with a better performance Friday night after having the first start jitters melted away.  He is going to play 30 minutes in this game, and he just might surprise some folks.  We think this game is a complete toss-up.  Our Pick: PURDUE

The NIT

The National Invitation Tournament used to be on equal footing with the NCAA Tournament.  There were some years where the NIT champion was decisively better than the NCAA Tournament champion.

Alas, those days are gone.  However, the NIT has proven to have a new usefulness.  Many experimental rules have been experimented with in this tournament, and this year, it has produced excellent results with rules that we believe should be implemented next year.

  1. The NIT is using four, 10-minute quarters rather than two, 20-minute halves.  This is not the first time that college basketball used quarters instead of halves.  It was tried in the 1950s.  We think that playing quarters and with the change in foul rules, it allows defenses to play more aggressively, knowing that they get a clean slate at the end of the first and third quarters.  Also, it doubles the amount of last possessions in the game, which leads to two more buzzer-beater opportunities, something great for the fans.
  2. The shot clock does not reset to 30 seconds on an offensive rebound.  It reset to just 20 seconds, which means teams cannot just throw the ball back to the outside and slowly run the offense again.  They must try to put the ball back up and score without resetting their offense.  This should lead in theory to about three or four more possessions in the game.

We here on the PiRate ship believe that fans do not want to pay exorbitant ticket prices to see dribbling exhibitions.  Action involves passing and moving, and anything that reduces dribbling can only be good for the game.  We’d like to see the closely guarded dribbling rule re-instated, where a player cannot dribble for five seconds while being guarded man-to-man without advancing toward the goal.  If this rule returned, it would force ball hogs to give up the ball within four seconds, and it would lead to more passing and more movement.  It might push average possessions back up to 75+ per game like it was when college basketball was its most exciting in the period between 1965 and 1975.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 17, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games of Sunday, March 18

Sunday’s PiRate Rating Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Purdue Butler 5.4
Michigan St. Syracuse 8.5
North Carolina Texas A&M 5.9
Cincinnati Nevada 4.9
Auburn Clemson 1.4
Kansas St. MD-Baltimore Co. 9.8
Xavier Florida St. 3.7
West Virginia Marshall 10.2

Sunday’s TV Schedule

All times Eastern Daylight

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:10 PM 2 Purdue 10 Butler Detroit CBS
2:40 PM 3 Michigan St. 11 Syracuse Detroit CBS
5:15 PM 2 North Carolina 7 Texas A&M Charlotte CBS
6:10 PM 2 Cincinnati 7 Nevada Nashville TNT
7:10 PM 4 Auburn 5 Clemson San Diego TBS
7:45 PM 9 Kansas St. 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TruTV
8:40 PM 1 Xavier 9 Florida St. Nashville TNT
9:40 PM 5 West Virginia 13 Marshall San Diego TBS

Bracket-Picking Criteria Results

Of the eight teams in the Sweet 16 as of Saturday night, we still have six teams alive.  Our picks went 6-2 and were within a half-second of going 8-0, as our two losses came on last-second shots in the Loyola-Tennessee and Michigan-Houston games.

For the tournament, our picks are now 32-12.

The New PiRate Ratings Bracketology Criteria have performed on par with the traditional criteria that we used for over 20 years.  We will wait until the championship before deciding if the new criteria was worth discarding the old method.

Here is a look at today’s games as the criteria applies to each of the eight contests.

Purdue vs. Butler
The big question is, “Will Isaac Haas play?” The next biggest question is, “If he plays, can he be anywhere near 100%?”

If Haas is able to give anything close to his regular contribution, Purdue is too strong for Butler. But, as we have already seen in this tournament, Virginia not having its best defender, and Tennessee not having one of its key big men available were contributing factors in losses. If Haas is not able to play, then Butler gains a major advantage in this game. The Boilermakers rely on Haas more for his offense than his defense, and it is true shooting percentage margin where Purdue is so superior in this contest. Remove Haas and his 66% TS%, and this advantage melts away somewhat.

PiRate Pick: Purdue

Michigan St. vs. Syracuse
This will be an interesting contest. The schedule strengths are identical, so we can look at the stats as if the two teams have played the same exact schedules. Michigan State has a clear true shooting percentage margin advantage and the Spartans also enjoy a modest R+T rating advantage.
The interest in this game comes from Michigan State’s issue against zone defenses. The Syracuse 2-3 matchup zone is tough to face the first time, and the Spartans had all of a day to study it and then implement a strategy against it.
It’s a different zone entirely, but Michigan State fared poorly twice against Michigan’s 1-3-1 trapping zone. Syracuse will trap out of their matchup zone as well.
On paper, Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston should thrive against zone defenses, but they did not hit from outside in one of the two games, and they turned the ball over against the traps the other. Maybe, the third time’s the charm? Or then maybe Syracuse is primed to make another surprise run to the Final Four? We’ll stick with Sparty.

PiRate Pick: Michigan St.

North Carolina vs. Texas A&M
North Carolina is almost playing at home, but Kansas just showed that having an in-state regional doesn’t guarantee two easy victories. However, the Jayhawks advanced, so the Tar Heels should get a little extra help with maybe a point or point and a half for playing so close to home as the state school where the tournament will be played.
The Tar Heels don’t need all that much extra oomph in the Big Dance. They are the defending champions, and they appear to be nearing peak performance at the right time.
Texas A&M is not going to be the weak victim. The Aggies will have the power to keep the inside game honest. A&M actually has a slightly better true shooting percentage margin than the Tar Heels, but North Carolina enjoys the R+T advantage. Down the road, North Carolina might struggle against a team that can force turnovers, but A&M isn’t one of those teams.

PiRate Pick: North Carolina

Cincinnati vs. Nevada
This game could be interesting for awhile, but Cincinnati is a bit too physical for the underdog Wolf Pack. The Bearcats’ R+T rating advantage is considerable here, and they enjoy a small true shooting percentage advantage as well. Eventually, Cinti will dominate on the glass, and this should lead to a run of several points, where the Bearcats send the Wolf Pack back to Reno, and that’s no gamble saying so.

PiRate Pick: Cincinnati

Auburn vs. Clemson
This is another one of those games where one key injury makes a huge difference in one team’s statistics. Auburn just narrowly escaped a first round upset bid by Charleston, and without a dominating or even contributing big man, the Tigers just aren’t the same team they were before Anfernee McLemore was lost for the season.

Clemson is not going to just show up and win this game, and they may not win even if they produce an A+ effort. Auburn still has a tough pressure defense on the perimeter, and Clemson has a negative turnover margin, so the War Eagles should get a couple extra scoring opportunities with steals.

However, when it comes down to it, Clemson has a decidedly better true shooting percentage margin and should be able to score inside enough times to win this battle again. CU enjoys a slightly better stength of schedule, and this should be the final nail in the coffin in this game.

PiRate Pick: Clemson

Kansas St. vs. MD-Baltimore Co.
Can they do it again? Is there any way a Number 16 seed can be one of the last 16 in the field? Here’s the funny thing about this game: Kansas State is precariously on the minimum R+T margin line to be picked against anybody in the tournament. Teams that rebound as poorly as Kansas State seldom make it very far in the NCAA Tournament. There are just a handful of teams in the last 50 years that won twice in one NCAA Tournament when their rebounding margin was worse than -3.
Maryland-Baltimore County would have been our pick in this game if the Terriers had a positive rebounding margin of 1.5 or better, but UMBC also has a negative rebounding margin. The Terriers might have been our pick if they held the true shooting percentage margin advantage in this game, but Kansas State has the better numbers here as well. Throw in the fact that the Wildcats’ schedule strength is about 15 points stronger than that of UMBC, and we just cannot pull the trigger on this one and take the most incredible long shot to ever make the Sweet 16.

PiRate Pick: Kansas St.

Xavier vs. Florida St.
This game should be the second most exciting game of the day. The Seminoles match up well with the top-seeded Musketeers, and this game should remain close for at least all of the first half and a good bit of the second half. Xavier has a slightly stronger schedule strength which makes their true shooting percentage margin and R+T rating advantages enough to matter. The margin of safety in this game is rather small, almost nonexistent, so a cold shooting day by Xavier could be enough to turn this game the other way.

PiRate Pick: Xavier

West Virginia vs.Marshall
We saved the best for last. In case you didn’t know, there is more than just a Round of 32 game here. These two in-state rivals don’t get along, and it’s almost as hated as Xavier and Cincinnati. It carries over to the two coaches, as they don’t really like each other.
When there is a game like this, the smaller school almost always benefits in some way.

Marshall is a woman scorned as these teams prepare to face off in a foreign land known as San Diego. West Virginia refuses to play Marshall in basketball (and football), unless the Mountaineers get two home games for every Thundering Herd home game.
What about the game itself? This will be the most interesting game of the day. Press Virginia’s defense may not exploit much in the way Marshall attacks it. The Herd had no difficulty facing Middle Tennessee’s trapping defense, as they pasted the CUSA regular season champions both times they faced them.

Alas, there is one important rule that we always follow at the PiRate Ratings. Whenever a team in the NCAA Tournament had a negative R+T Rating, we select the other team as long as that team has a positive R+T Rating. Marshall’s R+T Rating is -4.8, while the Mountaineers have a 16.6 R+T, and that is enough to give WVU about 18 more scoring opportunities. Marshall would have to hit about 18 three-pointers to neutralize that advantage.

PiRate Pick: West Virginia

Original PiRate Ratings Bracketology Sunday Teams Picked for Sweet 16
All 8 of our original picks are still alive today.
Cincinnati
Xavier
North Carolina
West Virginia
Texas Tech
Purdue
Clemson
Michigan St.

 

March 23, 2017

PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 Sweet 16 Criteria Reveal

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:00 am

If you get to start anew with your brackets in whatever pool you are playing in as a participant, we have updated our PiRate Ratings Criteria for the Sweet 16.
If you played along with us, you should have 10 teams left in your Sweet 16, having 26 of the 32 first round winners. If you are in a league where you get one point for each winner that goes from 64 to 32, and two points for every correct Sweet 16 team, then you should be sitting pretty with 46 points. Hopefully, we will help you score some 3-point winners the next two nights, whether you must stick with your original picks, or you get to start over with the 16 remaining teams.

To understand our methods if you don’t already know, refer to this primer: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/bracketnomics-505-the-advanced-level-course-in-bracket-selection/

Here is a breakdown of each game for the next two nights, followed by an update at how the Elite 8 and Final Four look using our criteria.

Oregon vs. Michigan
Power Conference: Both teams

Strength of Schedule: Very slight edge to Michigan, but not enough to matter much

R+T Rating: Large edge to Oregon, as the Ducks’ R+T is 14.7 to the Wolverines’ 3.2. This means that on average, Oregon will have an opportunity through superior rebounding, ball-steals, and overall turnover differential to outscore Michigan by 11.5 points. There is a caveat, as the Ducks are missing a key component in Chris Boucher.
Ability to Win Away from Home: Oregon 14-5/Michigan 11-8. The Ducks have a decent advantage here, but not enough to move this game to the win column.

Winning Streak(s): The Ducks won 17 games in a row at one point this season and eight in a row another time, while Michigan had two, five-game winning streaks. Once again, Oregon has the advantage here, but we cannot annoint the Ducks winners just yet. Not having Boucher removes a lot of these advantages three rounds into the Big Dance.

Since the strengths of schedule are similar, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: Michigan = 8.9, Oregon = 13.8, Ducks look better here
FG% Differential: Michigan = 1.9, Oregon = 7.8, Ducks look much better here, as UM fails to qualify
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 68

This is a tough game to figure out, because Boucher’s absence makes Oregon less than what the stats say. Still, the Ducks come out as the superior team based on how we use the criteria. In our original picks, we had Louisville knocking Oregon out of the tournament in this round, but the Cardinals were sent packing last weekend.

PiRate Criteria Pick: OREGON

 

Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Power Conference: West Virginia is, Gonzaga is not. A slight edge to the Mountaineers

Strength of Schedule: WVU 55.55. Gonzaga 54.02, a slight edge to the Mountaineers

R+T Rating: WVU 19.1, Gonzaga 21.2, a push when SOS is applied

Ability to Win Away from Home: WVU 11-6, Gonzaga 19-0, even with SOS factored into the equation, Gonzaga has the advantage here.

Winning Streak(s): WVU 8 & 4, Gonzaga 29 & 5, Gonzaga enjoys a small advantage

We must handicap these stats with Gonzaga playing in a weaker conference and a slightly weaker schedule
Scoring Margin: WVU 15.3, Gonzaga 22.8, a push
FG% Differential: WVU 3.4, Gonzaga 14.5
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 71

This is where we see another #1 seed going down. Gonzaga’s main Achilles Heel is their conference, where the WCC has two other quality teams. Of course, teams like Butler, George Mason, VCU, and Wichita State have advanced to the Final Four, but the percentages say that these are exceptions and not the norm. When you are trying to win a contest by going with the percentages, you go with the norm unless you have a major reason not to do so. When looking at the obvious way this game will deviate from the norm, it comes from the vaunted WVU full-court press, something that Gonzaga has not faced from a quality team this year. It is our belief that GU will commit very few turnovers against the press and even capitalize with a couple of easy baskets, making it look like to the casual fan that the press is not working. However, we believe it will take the Bulldogs out of their offense just enough to cause them to rush and make poor shot selections, and it will also begin to wear their bigger, bulkier players down in the second half. A fatigued team is only a shell of itself, and once GU is fatigued, WVU will pull away and win this game.

PiRate Criteria Pick: WEST VIRGINIA

Kansas vs. Purdue
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: KU 58.11, PU 55.83, a decided advantage for the Jayhawks

R+T Rating: KU 12.3, PU 15.5, a credible advantage for the Boilermakers

Ability to Win Away from Home: KU 16-3, PU 12-5, a tiny advantage for KU

Winning Streak(s): KU 18 & 8, PU 7 & 6, KU has the advantage, but this isn’t overwhelming since PU has two 6+ streaks, and that is all we are looking for in this criterion

Since the strengths of schedule favor KU enough to matter, we must handicap the following stats.
Scoring Margin: KU 11.4, PU 12.6, with the handicap, KU has a minor advantage here
FG% Differential: KU 7.3, PU 6.4, a slight edge to the Jayhawks
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 72 which will favor KU in the 2nd half

In previous years where Purdue was very good, we would call for Kansas to easily win this game because in the past, Purdue did not own good R+T numbers. In fact, they were downright awful. However, this year is very different up in West Lafayatte, where Purdue has an R+T number strong enough to reach the Final Four. Unfortunately, Kansas has the criteria strong enough to win the National Championship, and thus we must go with the team that is only a tad better in this game. A Boilermaker win would not be a surprise at all, but we must go with the percentages.

PiRate Criteria Pick: KANSAS (but this should be an outstanding game)

Arizona vs. Xavier
Power Conference: Both (in recent years, we would discount the Pac-12 some, but not this year. Three league teams made the Sweet 16.

Strength of Schedule: Arizona 58.17, Xavier 58.70, a wash

R+T Rating: Arizona 18.0, Xavier 15.2, the Wildcats with an ever so slight advantage that is not enough to mean much

Ability to Win Away from Home: Arizona 17-3, Xavier 11-9, this is a big advantage for ‘Zona

Winning Streak(s): Arizona 15 & 6, Xavier 7 & 6, Another tiny advantage to the Wildcats

Since the strengths of schedule are almost identical, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: Arizona 11.0, Xavier 4.1, the Wildcats have a major advantage here, as XU’s scoring margin is well beneath the threshold of a Final Four contender.
FG% Differential: Arizona 6.0, Xavier 0.9, another big edge for Arizona
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 67

This one appears to be headed to a double-digit win for the higher-seeded team. Add on to the criteria the fact that Xavier has not been the same since Edmund Sumner was lost for the year at the end of January, and this game looks like a potential breeze for Arizona.
PiRate Criteria Pick: ARIZONA (by double digits)

 

North Carolina vs. Butler
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: UNC 59.00, BU 59.04, a total push

R+T Rating: UNC 31.1, BU 9.5, do we really need to go on after this criterion shows the Tar Heels with a chance on average to score 20 more points on rebounds, steals, and turnovers?

Ability to Win Away from Home: UNC 13-7, BU 12-5, pretty much even here

Winning Streak(s): UNC 13 & 7, BU 12 & 5, another push

Since the strengths of schedule are identical, the following stats can be used at face value.
Scoring Margin: UNC 14.8, BU 7.8, Give the Heels a little more advantage here
FG% Differential: UNC 5.5, BU 3.7, more props for the Heels
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 70 (Butler will want to slow the pace, but they will have to play catchup)

Pirate Criteria Pick: NORTH CAROLINA

Baylor vs. South Carolina
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: BU 59.40, USC 56.23, the Bears have a little advantage here

R+T Rating: BU 19.3, USC 10.4, Baylor with decent advantage in this one

Ability to Win Away from Home: BU 12-5, USC 11-7, another tilt to the Bears

Winning Streak(s): BU 15 & 5, USC 8 & 5, BU with yet another advantage

Since the strengths of schedule favors Baylor, the following stats must be handicapped a little
Scoring Margin: BU 10.1, USC 7.9, the criteria keeps tilting green
FG% Differential: BU 7.2, USC 1.9, this continues the trend
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 67, Baylor will conrol the pace.

PiRate Criteria Pick: BAYLOR

 

Kentucky vs. UCLA
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: UK 58.63, UCLA 54.00, a nice advantage for the Wildcats, but UCLA still meets the minimum number for Final Four consideration, and remember UCLA won at Kentucky earlier this season

R+T Rating: UK 17.2, UCLA 10.9

Ability to Win Away from Home: UK 16-3, UCLA 14-3, nothing to learn here

Winning Streak(s): UK 13 & 7, UCLA 13 & 10, not much here either

We must handicap the following stats in UK’s favor fde to the strengths of schedule
Scoring Margin: UK 13.9, UCLA 15.0, basically a wash
FG% Differential: UK 5.4, UCLA 10.2, The Bruins pick up a big advantage here with Championship-caliber differential
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 74, expect the most up-tempo game of the Sweet 16, and it could even top 75.

Face it: this is the game that is going to make this round. The winner most likely plays North Carolina in the Elite 8, making for a fantastic 48-hours in Memphis, where they could move these games to the Liberty Bowl and still not have enough seats for the fans that want to get in. Think of this game like the second Ali-Frazier fight. Or, if you are a Bruin fan over the age of 55, be forewarned and remember that Houston beat your Bruins in the 1967-68 regular season before meeting up with the worst ever whipping by a number one team in the history of the game.

PiRate Criteria Pick: KENTUCKY — Until the Wildcats are knocked out of the tournament, they have the best resume when comparing it to past National Champions.

 

Florida vs. Wisconsin
Power Conference: Both

Strength of Schedule: Fla 59.34, UW 54.79, The Gators have a decided advantage

R+T Rating: Fla 3.3, UW 3.3 This is a dirty wash, as neither team can expect to be a Championship team with these R+T ratings.

Ability to Win Away from Home: Fla 17-7, UW 12-7, Florida played a lot of neutral site games near home when their arena was not ready following remodeling. This becomes a wash

Winning Streak(s): Fla. 9 & 7, UW 9 & 8, a wash

Since the strengths of schedule favor the Gators, the following stats must be handicapped in UF’s favor. Scoring Margin: UF 6.2, UW 9.2, a wash
FG% Differential: UF 4.6, UW 4.2, a small edge for the Gators
Estimated Possessions per team in this game: 69 We look for the Badgers to slow the tempo a little

When Florida isn’t playing Vanderbilt, they look like Final Four contenders. Actually, two of the three losses to the Commodores came after the Gators lost John Egbunu for the season due to injury, and UF went from 23-5 to 24-8 after that loss. This discounts the Gators’ results enough to make up for the schedule strength favor. In other words, this is a game where you flip a coin. We do not use the Four Factors in this criteria selection process, but if we were to use them for this game, it would just add a bunch of balance, as the teams would come out dead even. We must select somebody to go on and lose to Baylor Sunday, and just because they have a little more recent NCAA Tournament success, we will go with the Badgers.

PiRate Criteria Pick: WISCONSIN –but this is really a tie

Elite 8 to Final Four
Baylor over Wisconsin
Arizona over West Virginia
Kentucky over North Carolina
Kansas over Oregon

Semifinals
Baylor over Arizona
Kentucky over Kansas

Championship
Kentucky over Baylor

Note: When we first revealed the criteria for all 68 teams in the dance, we listed the top 10 teams with the best matching criteria to past champions. The top 6 teams in this list, and 8 of the 10 made the Sweet 16. Here is that top 10 again.
1. Kentucky
2. North Carolina
3. Baylor
4. Arizona
5. West Virginia
6. Gonzaga
7. Louisville
8. Villanova
9. Kansas
10. Purdue

 

March 22, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:33 pm

Sweet 16

Thursday, March 23
Team Team Red White Blue
Oregon Michigan -1 -1 -1
Gonzaga West Virginia 4 2 9
Kansas Purdue 4 4 1
Arizona Xavier 4 4 4

 

Friday, March 24
Team Team Red White Blue
North Carolina Butler 6 6 12
Baylor South Carolina 3 5 7
Kentucky UCLA 2 -1 1
Florida Wisconsin 5 4 -2

 

TV Schedule

Region Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
Thursday, March 23
Midwest 7:09 PM CBS Oregon vs. Michigan
West 7:39 PM TBS Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Midwest 9:39 PM CBS Kansas vs. Purdue
West 10:09 PM TBS Arizona vs. Xavier
Friday, March 24
South 7:09 PM CBS North Carolina vs. Butler
East 7:29 PM TBS Baylor vs. South Carolina
South 9:39 PM CBS Kentucky vs. UCLA
East 9:59 PM TBS Florida vs. Wisconsin
           
Saturday, March 25
Midwest TBA TBA Oregon/Michigan vs. Kansas/Purdue
West TBA TBA Gonzaga/WVU vs. Arizona/Xavier
           
Sunday, March 26
South TBA TBA UNC/Butler vs. Kentucky/UCLA
East TBA TBA Baylor/S Car vs. Florida/Wisconsin

 

 

 

March 23, 2016

NCAA Sweet 16 Preview

PiRate Ratings For Thursday and Friday

Higher Seed Lower Seed Red White Blue
Villanova Miami 3 3 2
Oklahoma Texas A&M 2 2 -3
Kansas Maryland 7 3 11
Oregon Duke 1 -1 5
Virginia Iowa St. 2 3 3
Notre Dame Wisconsin 1 1 -2
Syracuse Gonzaga -3 -2 -2
North Carolina Indiana 5 4 9

To those of you that read our annual bracket-picking story last week, you have our sincere apologies.  Never before has our top-rated team lost in its first game in the NCAA Tournament, but Middle Tennessee shocked us for the second time in NCAA Tournament history.  The first time, our founder had two tickets to the 1982 Mideast Regional, and once Kentucky disposed of little Middle Tennessee, he had a solid offer for $850 for each ticket two days later when Kentucky faced Louisville for the first time in a quarter century.  Those tickets became worthless when Middle upset Kentucky.

So, what’s left to say after Michigan State was sent packing?  There isn’t anything to say other than let’s get over it and proceed with our current update.

Because the entire world’s bracket has been busted after the first weekend, most places allow the fan to start anew with the Sweet 16 bracket.  If you still have faith in our system, and we do, since most of the 16 surviving teams fit the criteria, we will show you how we see it from here.

First, let us point out that no surprise teams remain in the tournament.  All 16 teams are consistent top programs, and only Gonzaga fails to come from a Power Conference.  Gonzaga today is what UNLV was 25 years ago and Davidson was 50 years ago.  The Bulldogs should eventually make it to the Final Four.

 

Here are the PiRate Criteria Stats for the remaining 16 teams.

Team PPG Def Marg. FGM RbM TOM R+T WLRd SOS OPos  DPos Pos/G
Villanova 77.5 63.6 13.9 7.3 1.9 2.7 10.0 16-4 58.54 2450 2440 67.9
Miami 75.4 66.7 8.7 5.2 2.4 0.8 9.3 12-6 58.22 2257 2268 66.5
Oklahoma 80.6 70.7 9.9 5.3 2.2 -0.1 6.8 13-6 58.74 2448 2451 72.0
Texas A&M 76.8 66.1 10.7 4.8 4.5 2.3 15.5 11-7 55.70 2506 2500 69.5
Kansas 82.0 67.9 14.1 10.0 5.3 0.7 14.2 15-4 60.22 2548 2550 70.8
Maryland 76.1 66.3 9.7 8.3 3.1 -1.7 7.3 11-7 56.77 2367 2350 67.4
Oregon 78.9 68.5 10.4 4.6 3.4 2.8 14.7 12-6 60.01 2514 2513 69.8
Duke 79.7 70.2 9.5 1.9 -0.3 2.4 6.5 10-7 58.97 2341 2346 67.0
Virginia 70.9 59.5 11.3 7.2 3.8 2.4 13.5 13-7 60.05 2151 2146 61.4
Iowa St. 82.1 74.7 7.4 6.8 -0.2 0.9 4.2 9-9 58.96 2451 2468 72.3
Notre Dame 75.6 70.5 5.1 4.8 2.5 -0.5 7.8 9-9 57.25 2218 2228 65.4
Wisconsin 68.1 63.9 4.3 -0.1 3.0 1.1 10.8 9-7 58.14 2187 2198 64.5
Syracuse 70.4 64.8 5.5 2.2 -0.7 1.2 3.4 8-9 56.21 2233 2236 65.7
Gonzaga 79.4 65.6 13.8 8.9 7.5 -1.0 16.9 17-3 52.35 2392 2404 68.5
North Carolina 81.8 69.3 12.5 6.8 8.3 2.2 22.4 15-5 57.74 2558 2531 70.7
Indiana 82.5 69.0 13.5 6.3 6.9 -0.4 16.8 10-7 53.79 2351 2354 69.2

Here are the 4-Factors Numbers for the remaining 16 teams

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTU% FT* DFT*
Villanova 55.1 46.3 28.4 28.7 16.4 20.4 21.9 17.0
Miami 54.0 47.7 30.2 29.2 16.4 17.5 25.2 17.7
Oklahoma 54.7 46.7 30.6 30.1 17.9 17.7 20.6 16.2
Texas A&M 51.6 47.1 34.9 29.2 17.4 20.8 22.0 17.9
Kansas 56.7 45.0 32.7 28.3 17.7 18.7 22.6 21.9
Maryland 55.7 46.2 29.8 29.7 19.0 16.6 23.6 16.8
Oregon 52.6 48.2 34.5 30.6 16.4 20.3 24.6 18.2
Duke 53.8 49.1 33.8 34.8 14.0 17.5 25.8 15.8
Virginia 54.8 48.3 30.2 25.4 15.1 19.1 20.8 18.8
Iowa St. 57.1 49.5 26.7 30.2 15.7 16.9 15.7 15.0
Notre Dame 54.1 49.2 33.0 31.5 15.3 14.5 21.4 17.2
Wisconsin 48.6 48.2 33.0 27.6 16.9 18.5 23.2 19.6
Syracuse 50.7 46.8 33.3 35.0 18.5 20.3 21.0 16.7
Gonzaga 55.4 44.7 32.3 25.6 16.8 15.2 22.3 17.2
North Carolina 52.0 47.2 39.9 29.9 15.4 18.6 20.8 17.9
Indiana 58.9 49.4 37.1 28.8 19.7 19.1 20.5 16.7

Sweet 16 Schedule

Thursday, March 23, 2016, Sweet 16 Games
Time (EDT) Network Seed Team Seed Team
7:10 PM CBS 2 Villanova 3 Miami
7:37 PM TBS 2 Oklahoma 3 Texas A&M
9:40 PM CBS 1 Kansas 5 Maryland
10:07 PM TBS 1 Oregon 4 Duke
Friday, March 24, 2016, Sweet 16 Games
Time (EDT) Network Seed Team Seed Team
7:10 PM CBS 1 Virginia 4 Iowa St.
7:27 PM TBS 6 Notre Dame 7 Wisconsin
9:40 PM CBS 10 Syracuse 11 Gonzaga
9:57 PM TBS 1 North Carolina 5 Indiana

 

Here is our updated bracket for the remainder of the tournament.  This uses our PiRate Criteria and is not the same thing as the PiRate Red-White-Blue Ratings above.

Sweet 16

Villanova over Miami

Texas A&M over Oklahoma

Kansas over Maryland

Oregon over Duke

Virginia over Iowa St.

Wisconsin over Notre Dame

Gonzaga over Syracuse

North Carolina over Indiana

 

Elite 8

Texas A&M over Villanova

Kansas over Oregon

Virginia over Wisconsin

North Carolina over Gonzaga

 

Semifinals

Kansas over Texas A&M

North Carolina over Virginia

 

Championship

Kansas over North Carolina

March 15, 2016

2016 NCAA Tournament Bracket Selection

The PiRate Ratings have been in existence for more than 40 years.  Only in the last 14, have we included college basketball in our menu, and only in the last 11 years, have we presented this website to the public.  In that time, there is one day each year where more people congregate to this site than on any other day.  It’s not the Super Bowl week, or the eve of the New Year’s Day Bowl games.  For many years running, it is this day and this entry that has brought more people here than any other.  Bracket picking has become part of the American and even international culture to the point where people that do not normally follow basketball can be found filling out brackets like they are scratching the $2 lottery cards.

 

One day more than a decade ago, our founder had some time on his hands, and he started researching the past statistics of the NCAA Basketball Champions.  Then, he began copying their statistics to a spreadsheet.  It then expanded to include all the Final Four teams, and eventually included the top teams in the nation that lost unexpectedly.

 

What he discovered was that there were specific statistical similarities in the Final Four teams and National Champions of past years.  Looking at that year’s NCAA Field, he isolated three of the Final Four teams by examining each team’s statistics and comparing them to Final Four teams of the past.

 

In 2006, this system found George Mason as a dark horse contender and in another medium, our founder wrote that the Patriots were a team to watch out for as a legitimate Final Four contender.  Overnight, the system was “discovered” by other media outlets that brought our founder a lot of notoriety, and when he started this site, many that had followed him, or had seen his system reported on by Yahoo and Fox, came here.

 

Now that the history lesson is over, let’s get into the meat of this system.  You can read about it more in depth in Monday’s submission:  https://piratings.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/bracketnomics-505-the-advanced-level-course-in-bracket-picking-2/

 

These are our criteria points.

  1. A scoring margin of 8 or more points, with special credit going to 10 or more points
  2. A field goal % margin of 7.5% or more  with special credit going to 10% or more
  3. A rebound margin of 5 or more
  4. A positive turnover margin (meaning they force more than they commit)
  5. An average of 7 or more steals per game
  6. An R+T Rating of 15 or more (the Bracketnomics 505 post for an explanation of R+T
  7. A member of a Power Conference and a Strength of Schedule of 54.00 or more
  8. A Won-Loss percentage in away and neutral games of 75% or more
  9. A 10-game winning streak or 2, 6-game winning streaks during the season

Let’s get to it.  Here are the teams that qualify under each criterion.  Remember, as you look at these statistical criteria, that there is a large caveat.  The Stephen F. Austin’s and Stony Brook’s had schedules on average that were 10-15 points weaker than the Michigan State’s and Kansas’s.  Do not look at this data and make conclusions that are not meant to be made.  We will put the data into a bracket-picker for you at the conclusion.

Scoring Margin

Team PPG D PPG Mar.
Stephen F. Austin 80.7 63.2 17.6
Michigan St. 79.8 63.4 16.4
Wichita St. 73.2 59.3 14.0
Kansas 81.6 67.6 13.9
Gonzaga 79.7 66.2 13.5
Indiana 82.3 68.9 13.4
Stony Brook 76.8 63.4 13.4
Villanova 77.0 63.7 13.3
Purdue 77.7 64.6 13.1
North Carolina 82.3 69.5 12.8
West Virginia 79.2 66.6 12.6
Arizona 81.2 68.9 12.3
Yale 75.2 63.1 12.0
Kentucky 79.7 68.3 11.4
UALR 70.9 59.6 11.3
Hawaii 77.6 66.5 11.1
Virginia 70.4 59.7 10.7
Texas A&M 75.9 65.5 10.4
Connecticut 73.4 63.1 10.3
Cincinnati 73.2 62.9 10.3
Xavier 81.3 71.0 10.3
Duke 79.1 68.8 10.3
Oklahoma 80.4 70.4 10.0
VCU 77.2 67.3 9.9
Weber St. 76.7 66.9 9.9
Cal State Bakersfield 73.0 63.2 9.8
Maryland 76.1 66.3 9.8
Oregon 78.8 69.1 9.7
Butler 80.6 71.2 9.4
Vanderbilt 76.8 67.3 9.4
Iowa 78.1 68.7 9.4
Chattanooga 75.8 66.6 9.2
Miami 75.6 66.8 8.8
South Dakota St. 76.3 67.8 8.5
Utah 77.6 69.1 8.5
UNC-Asheville 75.6 67.5 8.2
Pittsburgh 76.0 67.9 8.1
California 75.1 67.0 8.1

 

Field Goal % Margin

Team FG-M
Michigan St. 10.7
Kansas 9.8
Gonzaga 8.7
Purdue 8.0
Maryland 8.0
Kentucky 7.8
Connecticut 7.8
Utah 7.6
Vanderbilt 7.5

 

Rebound Margin

Team Rb-M
Michigan St. 11.7
Yale 11.1
Purdue 10.6
Arizona 9.2
Colorado 8.9
West Virginia 8.4
North Carolina 8.3
Baylor 7.9
Stony Brook 7.8
Xavier 7.5
Pittsburgh 7.4
Gonzaga 7.3
Indiana 7.3
California 6.7
Kentucky 5.4
South Dakota St. 5.4
Dayton 5.3
Kansas 5.2
Hampton 5.1
Florida Gulf Coast 5.0

 

Turnover Margin

Team TO-M
Stephen F. Austin 6.2
Wichita St. 5.5
Green Bay 4.8
Fresno St. 4.3
West Virginia 4.1
VCU 4.0
UNC-Wilmington 3.8
Tulsa 3.5
UALR 3.5
Cal State Bakersfield 3.1
Providence 3.1
Butler 2.9
Cincinnati 2.8
Oregon 2.8
Villanova 2.7
Iowa 2.7
UNC-Asheville 2.7
Virginia 2.7
Southern 2.6
Texas A&M 2.6
Fairleigh Dickinson 2.4
Duke 2.4
North Carolina 2.2
Holy Cross 2.2
Michigan 2.1
Texas 2.1
Oregon St. 2.1
Northern Iowa 2.0
Temple 1.9
Chattanooga 1.8
Hawaii 1.5
Syracuse 1.4
Middle Tennessee 1.4
Stony Brook 1.4
Xavier 1.4
St. Joseph’s 1.3
Iona 1.3
Kentucky 1.3
Wisconsin 1.2
Connecticut 1.1
Miami 1.0
Kansas 0.9
Iowa St. 0.8
Baylor 0.8
Texas Tech 0.8
South Dakota St. 0.3
USC 0.2

 

Steals

Team Avg. 
West Virginia 9.9
Green Bay 9.5
UNC-Asheville 9.3
Stephen F. Austin 9.1
VCU 8.8
Fresno St. 8.2
Syracuse 8.1
Cal State Bakersfield 8.0
Cincinnati 7.9
Baylor 7.9
Hawaii 7.9
Chattanooga 7.8
Oregon 7.6
Fairleigh Dickinson 7.6
Iona 7.6
UNC-Wilmington 7.5
Southern 7.5
Oregon St. 7.5
Xavier 7.3
Seton Hall 7.3
Wichita St. 7.2

 

R+T

If you read our post yesterday, you  must know by now that the R+T rating is as valuable in the NCAA Tournament as raw meat at the tiger’s exhibit at the zoo.  No team wins the national title with low R+T ratings, and teams with negative and very low R+T ratings exit the tournament quickly.

This season, no major conference teams enter the Dance with negative R+T ratings.   However, there are a handful with low positive R+T ratings.

Unlike the other criteria, we include every team in this criterion.  It is PiRate Gold.  Basically, the higher the number, the more this team is likely to score easy baskets during the game and prevent the opponent from scoring.  When players tend to be tight at the beginning of the tournament, R+T ratings can tell you which are most likely to get dunks and layups, two shots that stay true when outside jumpers and even close-in jumpers tend to be off.  Also, when two excellent defensive teams face off against each other, and baskets are hard to come by, the high R+T teams will score some “cheap” points and most likely be the winner.

Remember, like in all other criteria here, schedule strength and power conference membership are as equally important at R+T rating and must be considered as the co-primary factor.

Team R+T
Michigan St. 26.7
West Virginia 25.3
Yale 23.4
North Carolina 22.4
Purdue 20.9
Stony Brook 20.7
Arizona 20.3
Baylor 20.0
Xavier 19.9
Wichita St. 19.7
Stephen F. Austin 18.2
Pittsburgh 17.5
Indiana 17.3
Cincinnati 17.2
Kentucky 16.7
Colorado 16.6
Gonzaga 16.5
Cal State Bakersfield 15.9
   
Near Qualifiers  
Hawaii 14.8
Texas A&M 14.7
Butler 14.6
Kansas 14.6
Oregon 14.4
Dayton 14.1
VCU 14.0
   
Good R+T  
South Dakota St. 13.9
California 13.9
Virginia 13.2
Florida Gulf Coast 12.8
Fresno St. 12.4
Chattanooga 12.3
Hampton 11.7
St. Joseph’s 11.2
UNC-Asheville 11.2
Wisconsin 11.1
UNC-Wilmington 10.6
Seton Hall 10.5
Villanova 10.0
   
Best of the Rest  
Miami 9.5
Iowa 9.5
Utah 9.4
Connecticut 9.4
Buffalo 9.3
Middle Tennessee 9.1
UALR 9.1
Weber St. 9.0
Notre Dame 8.1
Maryland 7.8
Duke 7.3
Austin Peay 7.3
Oklahoma 7.1
   
Okay in Early Rounds  
USC 6.8
Green Bay 6.8
Providence 6.0
   
In Danger  
Michigan 4.9
Texas Tech 4.3
Iona 4.2
Iowa St. 4.1
Tulsa 3.8
Southern 3.6
Vanderbilt 3.4
Temple 3.3
Texas 3.3
Oregon St. 2.4
Syracuse 2.2
   
Quick Losers  
Northern Iowa -1.9
Fairleigh Dickinson -4.1
Holy Cross -5.2

 

Strength of Schedule

These are the teams from Power Conferences with SOS of 54.00 or better.  No National Champion has ever had a SOS under 54.00, and all but a small number of Final Four teams in the 64 to 68-team field have possessed SOS under 54.00.

Team SOS
Kansas 60.22
Virginia 60.05
Oregon 60.01
Texas 59.88
Baylor 59.49
Utah 59.33
Duke 58.97
Iowa St. 58.96
Texas Tech 58.94
Oregon St. 58.77
Oklahoma 58.74
West Virginia 58.59
Villanova 58.54
California 58.52
Miami 58.22
Wisconsin 58.14
North Carolina 57.74
Kentucky 57.45
Notre Dame 57.25
Pittsburgh 56.86
Xavier 56.82
USC 56.79
Maryland 56.77
Iowa 56.69
Purdue 56.54
Colorado 56.45
Vanderbilt 56.44
Seton Hall 56.24
Syracuse 56.21
Michigan 55.96
Michigan St. 55.75
Dayton 55.73
Providence 55.71
Connecticut 55.70
Texas A&M 55.70
St. Joseph’s 55.49
VCU 55.24
Tulsa 54.97
Cincinnati 54.70
Arizona 54.69
Butler 54.61
Temple 54.61

 

10-Game Winning Streak or 2, 6-Game Winning Streaks

Team Win Streaks
Stephen F. Austin 20 5
Stony Brook 18 3
Kansas 13 13
Michigan St. 13 9
Wichita St. 12 6
Indiana 12 5
North Carolina 12 5
Xavier 12 5
Yale 12 5
Oklahoma 12 4
California 12 3
VCU 12 3
Virginia 11 7
Purdue 11 5
UNC-Wilmington 11 5
Colorado 11 3
Texas A&M 10 8
UALR 10 6
Texas Tech 10 5
Pittsburgh 10 4
Chattanooga 9 8
Villanova 9 7
West Virginia 8 7
Arizona 8 6
Hawaii 8 6
Oregon 8 6
Providence 8 6
Weber St. 8 6
St. Joseph’s 7 7
Gonzaga 7 6
Cal State Bakersfield 6 6
Middle Tennessee 6 6
Northern Iowa 6 6
South Dakota St. 6 6

 

Won-Loss Record Away From Home Floor

Team Won Lost Pct
Gonzaga 15 3 83.3
Hawaii 10 2 83.3
Michigan St. 15 3 83.3
St. Joseph’s 15 3 83.3
Chattanooga 16 4 80.0
UALR 15 4 78.9
Villanova 14 4 77.8
Kansas 12 4 75.0
Xavier 12 4 75.0
       
Near Miss      
Dayton 11 4 73.3
North Carolina 13 5 72.2
Stephen F. Austin 13 5 72.2
UNC-Wilmington 13 5 72.2
Seton Hall 12 5 70.6
       
Okay in Early Rounds      
Stony Brook 11 5 68.8
Middle Tennessee 13 6 68.4
West Virginia 13 6 68.4
South Dakota St. 14 7 66.7
Weber St. 13 7 65.0
Oklahoma 11 6 64.7
Miami 10 6 62.5
Oregon 10 6 62.5
Providence 10 6 62.5
Yale 10 6 62.5
Virginia 11 7 61.1
Hampton 12 8 60.0
Cal State Bakersfield 10 7 58.8
Utah 10 7 58.8
Wichita St. 10 7 58.8
Iona 11 8 57.9
UNC-Asheville 11 8 57.9
Baylor 8 6 57.1
Green Bay 12 9 57.1
Connecticut 9 7 56.3
Fresno St. 9 7 56.3
Maryland 9 7 56.3
Purdue 9 7 56.3
Texas A&M 9 7 56.3
Temple 10 8 55.6
Northern Iowa 11 9 55.0
Duke 7 6 53.8
Arizona 8 7 53.3
Butler 8 7 53.3
Cincinnati 8 7 53.3
Indiana 8 7 53.3
Fairleigh Dickinson 9 8 52.9
Kentucky 9 8 52.9
Michigan 9 8 52.9
VCU 9 8 52.9
Buffalo 10 9 52.6
Austin Peay 11 10 52.4
Iowa 8 8 50.0
Tulsa 8 8 50.0
Wisconsin 7 7 50.0
       
Homers      
Southern 10 11 47.6
Pittsburgh 6 7 46.2
Iowa St. 7 9 43.8
Notre Dame 7 9 43.8
Syracuse 6 9 40.0
Texas 6 9 40.0
Colorado 6 10 37.5
Oregon St. 5 9 35.7
Texas Tech 5 9 35.7
California 5 10 33.3
USC 5 10 33.3
Holy Cross 6 13 31.6
Vanderbilt 5 11 31.3
Florida Gulf Coast 4 9 30.8

 

Ranked by Criteria Met

After the number of criteria met, we have included “Alpha Dog” and repeated R+T ratings.  Alpha Dog refers to whether this team has played a difficult enough schedule and is a member of a power conference.  While there are cases where George Mason and Wichita State make the Final Four, the cases are very rare, and we go with the tendencies that have worked so well in the past.

 

The teams that qualify with 5 criteria and are also Alpha Dogs with qualifying R+T ratings have been highlighted in blue.  These are the top contenders this year.

Team Criteria Met Alpha Dog R+T
Xavier 8 Yes Yes
Kansas 7 Yes No
Michigan St. 7 Yes Yes
West Virginia 7 Yes Yes
Gonzaga 6 Yes Yes
Kentucky 6 Yes Yes
North Carolina 6 Yes Yes
Purdue 6 Yes Yes
Arizona 5 Yes Yes
Pittsburgh 5 Yes Yes
Stony Brook 5 No Yes
Villanova 5 Yes No
Baylor 5 Yes Yes
Chattanooga 5 No No
Cincinnati 5 Yes Yes
Hawaii 5 No No
Oregon 5 Yes No
Stephen F. Austin 5 No Yes
VCU 5 Yes No
California 4 Yes No
Colorado 4 Yes Yes
Connecticut 4 Yes No
Indiana 4 Yes Yes
South Dakota St. 4 No No
St. Joseph’s 4 Yes No
Texas A&M 4 Yes No
UALR 4 No No
Virginia 4 Yes No
Wichita St. 4 No Yes
Yale 4 No Yes
Cal State Bakersfield 4 No Yes
Butler 3 Yes No
Duke 3 Yes No
Iowa 3 Yes No
Maryland 3 Yes No
Miami 3 Yes No
Oklahoma 3 Yes No
Providence 3 Yes No
Texas Tech 3 Yes No
Utah 3 Yes No
Vanderbilt 3 Yes No
Oregon St. 3 Yes No
Syracuse 3 Yes No
UNC-Asheville 3 No No
UNC-Wilmington 3 No No
Iowa St. 2 Yes No
Michigan 2 Yes No
Middle Tennessee 2 No No
Temple 2 Yes No
Texas 2 Yes No
Tulsa 2 Yes No
USC 2 Yes No
Weber St. 2 No No
Wisconsin 2 Yes No
Fairleigh Dickinson 2 No No
Fresno St. 2 No No
Green Bay 2 No No
Iona 2 No No
Seton Hall 2 Yes No
Southern 2 No No
Dayton 1 Yes No
Florida Gulf Coast 1 No No
Hampton 1 No No
Holy Cross 1 No No
Northern Iowa 1 No No
Notre Dame 1 Yes No
Austin Peay 0 No No
Buffalo 0 No No

 

Xavier rates as the top contender, but we are a bit concerned about the Big East Conference remaining as a Power Conference.  While three other Big East teams made the tournament, this league has not fared well since the break-up of the teams that formed the American Conference.

Last year, five Big East Teams made the NCAA Tournament.  St. John’s lost in the second round (round of 64) to San Diego State; Providence lost handily in their first game to Dayton; Butler lost in the third round to Notre Dame (round of 32); and 1-seed Villanova lost in the third round to North Carolina State.  Only Xavier made it to the Sweet 16, and the Musketeers had a relatively easy trip to the West Regional second weekend by defeating an Ole Miss team that just barely made the tournament as a play-in team from Dayton and then Georgia State after GSU upset Baylor.

We are not eliminating Xavier from consideration, but we are knocking them down a few notches.  Thus, our actual top-ranked team according to our Criteria ratings is Michigan State.

Now, before we drive you crazy, ponder this.  No Big Ten team has won the national title, since the Spartans pulled the trick in 2000.  Coach Tom Izzo has taken MSU to five subsequent Final Fours, and Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin have made it to the Final Four in recent years.

Concerning the Big 12, overall number one seed Kansas does not qualify under the R+T rating.  However, the Jayhawks just barely miss out with an R+T of 14.6, and after a first game breeze, KU’s R+T rating could easily hit 15.  We are not going to dismiss Kansas because they come up short by a hair of having a great Final Four resume.

Bob Huggins has guided two teams to the Final Four, one at Cincinnati and one at West Virginia.  This year’s Mountaineer squad is better than the one he took to the Final Four and about on par with the great Bearcat team with Nick Van Exel, Corey Blount, Anthony Buford, and Herb Jones in 1992, where Cinti led Michigan in the second half before falling late by a couple points in the National Semifinals.

The shorter shot clock combined with Huggie Bear’s incredible full-court press makes the Mountaineers awfully dangerous against teams that have not previously played WVU.  There was a time when a long string of pressing teams won the national championship, but with slower paces, that style of play stopped being as effective.  Now, with the pace increased by about 7.5% thanks to the shorter shot clock, the press is a more potent weapon.  Even when a team breaks the press, they have less time to set up their offense and find a good shot.  The liability of pressing is that it can wear a team down, but WVU goes deep off the bench, and in the NCAA Tournament, media time outs are longer, allowing players more time to recover from fatigue.

Gonzaga made it to the Elite 8 last year, the zenith of the Mark Few era.  The Bulldogs did not win any big games this year until they finally bested Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament Championship.  The Zags have a very formidable frontcourt, but they fall well short in schedule strength, where there 52.35 reduces their criteria score down to Sweet 16 or worse status.

Kentucky and North Carolina are sitting pretty in the Criteria Ratings, as both meet 6 of the criteria, come from Big Conferences with high schedule strength, and most importantly, both merit recognition based on R+T ratings.  Being two of the most elite programs is not part of our criteria, but we also don’t totally exclude that fact.  They are the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals of college basketball.

Let’s look at how the PiRate Criteria see the brackets.  Wednesday night, after the last game in Dayton concludes, we will post our Red-White-Blue Picks for each game.  These are our everyday ratings and do not include the criteria listed herein.  These ratings use an algorithm incorporating the Four Factors.

As you will notice, while this season was tabbed a unique one with a lot of parity, we actually believe the top programs are more ready to dominate this tournament than in recent years.

First Four

Fairleigh Dickinson over Florida Gulf Coast

Wichita State over Vanderbilt

Southern over Holy Cross

Michigan over Tulsa

 

Round of 64

Kansas over Austin Peay

Colorado over Connecticut

Maryland over South Dakota St.

California over Hawaii (very close–almost a tossup)

Arizona over Wichita St. (or Vanderbilt)

Miami over Buffalo

Iowa over Temple

Villanova over UNC-Asheville

Oregon over Southern (or Holy Cross)

Cincinnati over St. Joseph’s [Lower Seed Picked]

Baylor over Yale

Duke over UNC-Wilmington (Criteria says this is closer than you might think)

Texas over Northern Iowa (very close)

Texas A&M over Green Bay

VCU over Oregon St. [Lower Seed Picked]

Oklahoma over Cal State Bakersfield (but watch out, CSUB has upset-worthy data)

North Carolina over Fairleigh Dickinson (or Florida Gulf Coast)

Providence over USC [Lower Seed Picked] (a weak game by criteria)

Indiana over Chattanooga (If UC still had Casey Jones, the Mocs would actually be favored)

Kentucky over Stony Brook (we do not see any chance that SBU will contend)

Michigan (or Tulsa) over Notre Dame [Lower Seed Picked] (Irish have lousy criteria numbers)

West Virginia over Stephen F. Austin (SFA got a lousy seed, as they are Sweet 16 worthy)

Pittsburgh over Wisconsin

Xavier over Weber St. (should be very ugly and possibly a 35+ point win)

Virginia over Hampton

Butler over Texas Tech [Lower Seed Picked]

Purdue over UALR

Iowa St. over Iona (expect a 90-80 type game)

Gonzaga over Seton Hall [Lower Seed Picked]

Utah over Fresno St. (could be close)

Syracuse over Dayton [Lower Seed Picked]

Michigan St. over Middle Tennessee

 

Round of 32

Kansas over Colorado (closer than expected)

California over Maryland

Arizona over Miami

Villanova over Iowa

Oregon over Cincinnati (almost dead even)

Baylor over Duke (Blue Devils missing defense in the paint)

Texas A&M over Texas

VCU over Oklahoma (big upset sends jump-shooting team home)

North Carolina over Providence

Kentucky over Indiana

West Virginia over Michigan

Xavier over Pittsburgh (should be excitingly close)

Virginia over Butler (should be close for 40 minutes)

Purdue over Iowa St.

Gonzaga over Utah (lowest seed in Sweet 16)

Michigan St. over Syracuse

 

Sweet 16

Kansas over California

Arizona over Villanova 

Baylor over Oregon (1 of 2 #1 seeds going out in this round)

VCU over Texas A&M

North Carolina over Kentucky (should be Final Four game)

West Virginia over Xavier (total toss-up and expected best game of the round)

Purdue over Virginia (2nd #1 seed going home in this round)

Michigan St. over Gonzaga

 

Elite 8

Kansas over Arizona

Baylor over VCU

West Virginia over North Carolina (3rd #1 seed departs)

Michigan St. over Purdue

 

Semifinals

Kansas over Baylor

Michigan St. over West Virginia

 

National Championship

Michigan St. over Kansas

March 25, 2015

Sweet 16 Preview

It hasn’t been the best year for our methodology, as we have just 11 teams remaining in the Sweet 16, while we have six teams still alive in our Elite 8 predictions, and three of the Final Four.  At least, our two finalists are still alive.

If you get to pick games anew with each round, here is the updated review of our bracketnomics 505 selection method.  If you need a primer on what the data means, please refer back to the previous article titled, “Bracketnomics 505–The Advanced Level Course in Bracket Picking,”  published on March 16.

Sweet 16 Schedule–All Times Listed are Eastern Daylight Time
Region Seed Team W-L Seed Team W-L Day Time TV
Midwest 3 Notre Dame 31-5 7 Wichita St. 30-4 Thursday 7:15 PM CBS
West 1 Wisconsin 33-3 4 North Carolina 26-11 Thursday 7:47 PM TBS
Midwest 1 Kentucky 36-0 5 West Virginia 25-9 Thursday 9:45 PM CBS
West 2 Arizona 33-3 6 Xavier 23-13 Thursday 10:17 PM TBS
South 2 Gonzaga 34-2 11 UCLA 22-13 Friday 7:15 PM CBS
East 4 Louisville 26-8 8 North Carolina St. 22-13 Friday 7:37 PM TBS
South 1 Duke 31-4 5 Utah 26-8 Friday 9:45 PM CBS
East 3 Oklahoma 24-10 7 Michigan St. 25-11 Friday 10:07 PM TBS

OFFENSE STATS

Team FG FGA 3pt 3pta FT FTa OR DR TO Stl
Arizona 963 1971 184 508 655 925 398 946 401 261
Duke 1008 1989 266 683 531 771 415 890 391 251
Gonzaga 1035 1966 259 611 534 775 365 991 379 220
Kentucky 931 1999 192 554 636 881 464 923 381 237
Louisville 828 1930 191 621 491 736 432 844 394 272
Michigan St. 944 2009 269 693 417 662 402 946 410 193
N. C. St. 872 1994 227 641 489 713 424 909 368 135
North Carolina 1073 2253 176 501 559 796 517 996 477 248
Notre Dame 994 1951 289 742 539 728 294 877 339 247
Oklahoma 865 1980 232 671 481 652 375 919 412 235
UCLA 904 2032 220 593 500 739 428 900 423 234
Utah 828 1700 260 638 523 745 304 864 392 200
West Virginia 859 2084 225 704 560 844 562 678 440 372
Wichita St. 834 1868 236 652 486 696 400 809 320 244
Wisconsin 915 1905 255 713 517 679 344 869 267 162
Xavier 934 1960 231 649 553 759 356 895 435 216
DEFENSE STATS
Team FG FGA 3pt 3pta FT FTa OR DR TO Stl
Arizona 730 1855 191 580 472 681 273 740 502 168
Duke 872 2055 179 566 346 498 382 706 434 200
Gonzaga 794 2031 206 625 421 637 382 705 419 198
Kentucky 688 1958 162 600 404 618 425 696 503 172
Louisville 718 1838 171 580 406 618 379 800 487 198
Michigan St. 764 1935 214 674 531 738 342 790 393 200
N. C. St. 800 1998 209 631 483 685 395 818 344 186
North Carolina 863 2176 240 801 571 820 448 767 463 252
Notre Dame 895 2102 220 671 351 494 410 768 407 186
Oklahoma 772 2000 216 683 374 569 417 824 463 223
UCLA 828 1987 278 771 445 641 353 830 433 223
Utah 684 1787 166 528 402 591 304 864 394 189
West Virginia 738 1576 187 508 597 871 301 824 668 193
Wichita St. 661 1667 178 512 427 619 298 747 453 138
Wisconsin 796 1888 185 503 268 391 273 728 353 146
Xavier 864 1981 254 734 442 659 335 776 456 236

FOUR FACTORS

Team EFG DEFG OR% DOR% TO% DTU% FT* DFT*
Arizona 53.5 44.5 35.0 22.4 16.6 20.9 27.1 19.6
Duke 57.4 46.8 37.0 30.0 16.8 18.5 22.8 14.8
Gonzaga 59.2 44.2 34.1 27.8 16.1 17.7 22.7 17.8
Kentucky 51.4 39.3 40.0 31.5 16.3 21.6 27.2 17.3
Louisville 47.8 43.7 35.1 31.0 17.6 21.7 21.9 18.1
Michigan St. 53.7 45.0 33.7 26.6 17.6 16.8 17.9 22.7
N. C. St. 49.4 45.3 34.1 30.3 16.2 15.1 21.5 21.3
North Carolina 51.5 45.2 40.3 31.0 18.4 17.9 21.6 22.1
Notre Dame 58.4 47.8 27.7 31.9 14.5 17.4 23.0 15.0
Oklahoma 49.5 44.0 31.3 31.2 17.7 20.0 20.7 16.1
UCLA 49.9 48.7 34.0 28.2 17.8 18.3 21.0 18.8
Utah 56.4 42.9 26.0 26.0 18.3 18.3 24.4 18.6
West Virginia 46.6 52.8 40.5 30.7 18.6 28.3 23.7 25.3
Wichita St. 51.0 45.0 34.9 26.9 15.1 21.4 22.9 20.2
Wisconsin 54.7 47.1 32.1 23.9 12.4 16.4 24.0 12.4
Xavier 53.5 50.0 31.4 27.2 18.1 18.9 23.0 18.3

PiRate Ratings Criteria

Team PPG D PPG Mar. FG-M Rb-M TO-M R+T WLRd W-L SOS Poss.
Arizona 76.8 59.0 17.8 9.5 9.2 2.8 26.2 10-3 33-3 58.1 67.0
Duke 80.4 64.8 15.5 8.2 6.2 1.2 17.5 12-2 31-4 61.3 66.6
Gonzaga 79.5 61.5 18.0 13.6 7.5 1.1 19.6 15-1 34-2 55.8 65.2
Kentucky 74.7 53.9 20.8 11.4 7.4 3.4 22.7 16-0 36-0 58.2 64.8
Louisville 68.8 59.2 9.6 3.8 2.9 2.7 12.6 10-3 26-8 66.3 65.9
Michigan St. 71.5 63.1 8.4 7.5 6.0 -0.5 14.7 11-6 25-11 66.2 64.8
N. C. St. 70.3 65.5 4.8 3.7 3.4 -0.7 8.8 9-9 22-13 67.5 65.0
North Carolina 77.9 68.6 9.3 8.0 8.1 -0.4 18.3 13-5 26-11 69.3 70.0
Notre Dame 78.2 65.6 12.6 8.4 -0.2 1.9 5.8 13-2 31-5 61.9 65.1
Oklahoma 71.9 62.8 9.1 5.1 1.6 1.5 7.5 8-7 24-10 66.4 68.4
UCLA 72.2 68.0 4.3 2.8 4.1 0.3 11.5 6-12 22-13 66.1 67.9
Utah 71.7 56.9 14.8 10.4 0.0 0.1 3.4 10-7 26-8 59.6 63.0
West Virginia 73.6 66.5 7.1 -5.6 3.4 6.7 19.3 13-6 25-9 65.4 69.5
Wichita St. 70.3 56.7 13.6 5.0 4.8 3.9 19.1 15-4 30-4 56.7 62.3
Wisconsin 72.3 56.8 15.5 5.9 5.9 2.4 18.4 18-2 33-3 60.2 59.7
Xavier 73.7 67.3 6.3 4.0 3.9 0.6 10.8 10-10 23-13 65.6 66.7

The PiRate Ratings

Team Team Red White Blue
Notre Dame Wichita St. 1 1 4
Wisconsin North Carolina 6 4 2
Kentucky West Virginia 13 11 12
Arizona Xavier 11 9 14
Gonzaga UCLA 10 8 5
Louisville North Carolina St. 4 2 -2
Duke Utah 3 3 9
Oklahoma Michigan St. 1 1 -2

Predicted Elite 8 Games

East: Michigan St. over Louisville

South: Duke over Gonzaga

Midwest: Kentucky over Notre Dame

West: Arizona over Wisconsin

Predicted Final 4 Games

Duke over Michigan St.

Kentucky over Arizona

Predicted National Championship Game

Kentucky over Duke

March 21, 2015

NCAA 3rd Round Preview, March 21, 2015

A couple of 14-seeds have not spoiled our brackets for the most part as 14 of our 16 teams picked to make it to the Sweet 16 are still around in the Round of 32, and all 8 of our Elite 8 teams are playing today or tomorrow.  Without further adieu, here is our look at the 3rd Round.

All times given are Eastern Daylight

Saturday, March 21

12:10 PM on CBS

#11 UCLA vs. #14 UAB

Four Factors+ PiRate Criteria: UCLA has decided R+T and Strength of Schedule advantages as well as advantages in rebounding and turnovers.

PiRate Red: UCLA by 10

PiRate White: UCLA by 6

PiRate Blue: UCLA by 4

Prediction: UCLA 71  UAB 65

2:40 PM on CBS

#1 Kentucky vs. #8 Cincinnati

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Kentucky has the advantage in every category except schedule strength, but the Bearcats’ advantage here is slim.

PiRate Red: Kentucky by 14

PiRate White: Kentucky by 14

PiRate Blue: Kentucky by 14

Prediction: Kentucky 68  Cincinnati 54

5:15 PM on CBS

#2 Arizona vs. #10 Ohio St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Arizona has a considerable rebounding advantage in this game, leading to a better R+T rating, but all other factors are close enough to be considered a wash.

PiRate Red: Arizona by 7

PiRate White: Arizona by 9

PiRate Blue: Arizona by 12

Prediction: Arizona 74  Ohio St. 65

6:10 PM on TNT

#6 Xavier vs. #14 Georgia St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria:The biggest discrepancy between these two teams is schedule strength, where the Musketeers’ schedule is about 13 points per game more difficult.  Georgia State’s only real advantage and where the Panthers can exploit XU is in turnover rate.  GSU must try to force Xavier into mistakes and then capitalize on points off turnovers, or Coach Ron Hunter will be wheeling himself home for his postponed surgery.

PiRate Red: Xavier by 8

PiRate White: Xavier by 5

PiRate Blue: Xavier by 9

Prediction: Xavier 68  Georga St. 61

7:10 PM on TBS

#1 Villanova vs. #8 North Carolina St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: This game could be closer than expected for longer than expected.  Villanova’s E FG%, TO Rate, and R+T ratings are plainly better than the Wolf Pack’s, but NC State’s schedule strength neutralizes a lot of these advantages.  This is the shakiest of the #1 seeds for the weekend, even though we expect the Wildcats to eventually win by double digits.

PiRate Red: Villanova by 11

PiRate White: Villanova by 10

PiRate Blue: Villanova by 13

Prediction: Villanova 76  North Carolina St. 65

7:45 PM on CBS

#4 Georgetown vs. #5 Utah

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: The criteria forecasts a tight game with Utah having a 52% chance of winning this game.  Georgetown’s schedule strength advantage makes Utah’s statistical advantages disappear, so this one comes down to R+T rating, which the Utes have a small advantage

PiRate Red: Utah by 3

PiRate White: Utah by 3

PiRate Blue: Utah by 4

Prediction: Utah 60  Georgetown 57

8:40 PM on TNT

#4 North Carolina vs. #5 Arkansas

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: The key stats here are that UNC should fare quite well against the Arkansas pressure defense, and the Tar Heels will dominate on the glass.  Sure, there will be a couple extra turnovers, but the Tar Heels will also benefit with extra layup opportunities.

PiRate Red: North Carolina by 2

PiRate White: North Carolina by 3

PiRate Blue: North Carolina by 7

Prediction: North Carolina 75  Arkansas 71

9:40 PM on TBS

#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 Butler

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Remember that our criteria does not factor into the equation any possible intangibles such as in-state rivalries (same will go for KU-Wichita).  So, adjust your personal predictions as you see fit.  Notre Dame has the most efficient field goal shooting team in the tournament, but their defense is not in the upper half, so the Irish can become vulnerable if their shots don’t fall.  It hasn’t happened in several weeks.  Butler has the clear rebounding advantage in this game, so once again the key is whether or not Notre Dame will give the Bulldogs many opportunities to rebound missed shots.

PiRate Red: Notre Dame by 2

PiRate White: Notre Dame by 3

PiRate Blue: Notre Dame by 5

Prediction: Notre Dame 74  Butler 71

Sunday, March 22, 2015

12:10 PM on CBS

#2 Virginia vs. #7 Michigan St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Michigan State’s perpetual rebounding dominance will face a stern test from an almost equally competent rebounding squad in the Cavaliers.  This is going to be an exciting, albeit slow-paced game.  UVA’s only clear advantage here is in TO rate, so Sparty has a fighting chance at an upset.

PiRate Red: Virginia by 7

PiRate White: Virginia by 4

PiRate Blue: Virginia by 6

Prediction: Virginia 66  Michigan St. 60

2:40 PM on CBS

#1 Duke vs. #8 San Diego St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Duke can hold the Aztecs under 40% shooting and then retrieve a majority of the missed shots, and SDSU cannot really force the Blue Devils out of their comfort zone, so this game looks like an easy victory for Coach K and co.

PiRate Red: Duke by 9

PiRate White: Duke by 8

PiRate Blue: Duke by 12

Prediction: Duke 71  San Diego St. 61

5:15 PM on CBS

#2 Kansas vs. #7 Wichita St.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Unfortunately, neither team is as strong as they once were, but this should still be the most exciting game of the round.  The most glaring statistic for this game is that KU has the toughest schedule strength in the Dance, while Wichita’s is near the bottom of the remaining teams.  Thus, the Jayhawks’ stats were compiled against teams that were on average about a dozen points per game better than the opponents the Shockers played.  If Wichita State is to pull off the upset, they will have to win the turnover battle by 3 or more, and Ron Baker will have to rediscover his shooting accuracy in a hurry.

PiRate Red: Kansas by 1

PiRate White: Kansas by 1

PiRate Blue: Kansas by 5

Prediction: Kansas 70  Wichita St. 68

6:10 PM on TNT

#3 Oklahoma vs. #11 Dayton

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria:  An aside to the criteria for a moment.  This is a great example of how the pace of the college game has slowed and become dull compared to how the game was played in the past.  Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has been leading college teams since the 1980’s, when he started at Pan American.  Kruger’s philosophy of the game was handed to him by his college coach Jack Hartman, who demanded tough man-to-man defense and deliberate patterned offense.  Kruger’s teams have played the same consistent style of ball throughout his 30+ year career.  When he started out, his teams were considered slow-paced compared to the rest of college basketball, but now this same style of play is near the top in pace!  68 possessions per game represented the bottom 10% then, and it now represents the top 10%.

As for this game, both teams are similar with similar positives and negatives.  For instance, both teams are rather strong on the boards and not so strong forcing turnovers.  Only the Sooners’ superior strength of schedule gives them an overall advantage, and we are a little leery of the Big 12 after Baylor, Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma State all lost with superior schedule strengths.  And, it is hard to discount a Miller brother in the Big Dance.

PiRate Red: Oklahoma by 3

PiRate White: Oklahoma by 5

PiRate Blue: Oklahoma by 3

Prediction: Oklahoma 79  Dayton 76

7:10 PM on TBS

#2 Gonzaga vs. #7 Iowa

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: The so-called experts believe that Gonzaga is a “paper lion” and very vulnerable to exiting the tournament in the opening weekend once again.  We do not buy into that argument this season, as the Bulldogs are solid and deep, much deserving of their seed.  Yes, the Hawkeyes dismantled Davidson like they were Kentucky, but consistency has not been a descriptive term for this year’s team.  Gonzaga holds a decisive E FG% advantage in this game, and Iowa does not have enough R+T (cheap basket opportunities) to counter this superiority.

PiRate Red: Gonzaga by 10

PiRate White: Gonzaga by 5

PiRate Blue: Gonzaga by 10

Prediction: Gonzaga 78  Iowa 70

7:45 PM on truTV

#1 Wisconsin vs. #8 Oregon

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: If you watched the Pac-12 Tournament Championship Game between Oregon and Arizona, then you saw the Ducks’ main liability.  Arizona was too strong inside for Oregon to stop, while the Ducks did not get too many easy looks at their basket.  Wisconsin is similar to Arizona, and the same advantages apply here.  The Badgers should have little trouble advancing to the Sweet 16, but the Pac-12 did go 4-0 in the second round.

PiRate Red: Wisconsin by 12

PiRate White: Wisconsin by 9

PiRate Blue: Wisconsin by 8

Prediction: Wisconsin 73  Oregon 63

8:40 PM on TNT

#4 Maryland vs. #5 West Virginia

Note: This is a rivalry game so intangibles should be considered when you select your winner.  These teams have not played each other in more than 10 years, but they have a long history.  The players might not feel it, but the fans certainly will.

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: It’s all about the press for the Mountaineers.  If the opponent has difficulty getting into their offense or turns the ball over, then WVU exploits the miscue for points.  When the opponent defeats the press for either an easy score or to the point where they can run their offense, then Huggy Bear’s team does not fare well.  Maryland appears to be the type of team that can withstand the pressure and get decent shots thanks to a couple of stars.  However, the criteria here shows a split decision.

PiRate Red: West Virginia by 1

PiRate White: West Virginia by 2

PiRate Blue: Maryland by 2

Prediction: West Virginia 74  Maryland 73 ot

9:40 PM on TBS

#4 Louisville vs. #5 Northern Iowa

Four Factors + PiRate Criteria: Louisville is going to have up to a half dozen extra scoring opportunities in this game thanks to rebounding and turnover rate edges, but the Cardinals are not all that accurate shooting, while NIU is rather competent here.  The Panthers will not be intimidated by the Cardinals, and UL is missing key parts of their machinery.  Again, this is a split decision in the criteria and ratings.

PiRate Red: Northern Iowa by 1

PiRate White: Northern Iowa by 2

PiRate Blue: Louisville by 3

Prediction: Northern Iowa 55  Louisville 54

March 26, 2013

Bracketnomics 2013: Sweet 16, March 28-29, 2013

2013 NCAA Tournament— Sweet 16 Schedule For Thursday-Friday, March 28-29, 2013

All times Eastern Daylight

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time

Network

Region

Site

High Seed

Low Seed

7:15 PM

CBS

E

Washington, D. C.

2-Miami (29-6)

3-Marquette (25-8)

7:47 PM

TBS

W

Los Angeles

2-Ohio St. (28-7)

6-Arizona (27-7)

9:45 PM

CBS

E

Washington, D. C.

1-Indiana (29-6)

4-Syracuse (28-9)

10:17 PM

TBS

W

Los Angeles

9-Wichita St. (28-8)

13-La Salle (24-9)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Time

Network

 

Site

High Seed

Low Seed

7:15 PM

CBS

MW

Indianapolis

1-Louisville (31-5)

12-Oregon (28-8)

7:37 PM

TBS

S

Arlington, TX

1-Kansas (31-5)

4-Michigan (28-7)

9:45 PM

CBS

MW

Indianapolis

2-Duke (29-5)

3-Michigan St. (27-8)

10:07 PM

TBS

S

Arlington, TX

3-Florida (28-7)

15-Florida Gulf Coast (26-10)

Third Round Record: 11-5

Tournament Total: 33-15

Teams Remaining In Bracket: 12 of 16

 

Updated PiRate Criteria Stats (See our explanation on how we select our brackets at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/bracketnomics-2013-a-statistical-look-at-bracket-selection/  )

 

 

Margins

Team

Scoring

FG%

Rebound

Turnover

Steals

R+T

SOS

Rd_WL%

Arizona

10.2

4.6

6.6

0.3

6.7

8.30

57.24

72.2

Duke

13.0

6.4

-0.9

3.5

6.6

4.62

60.68

72.2

Florida

18.2

10.4

4.9

3.0

7.1

9.92

57.58

65.0

Florida Gulf Coast

6.6

5.5

1.0

1.2

9.0

4.24

47.84

55.0

Indiana

17.4

9.7

7.5

1.2

7.1

10.36

58.59

75.0

Kansas

13.7

12.2

6.5

-1.3

7.1

6.36

57.82

77.8

La Salle

6.3

-0.2

-3.4

3.0

7.8

1.76

54.68

61.1

Louisville

16.3

6.1

3.8

6.3

11.0

13.56

59.41

80.0

Marquette

5.9

5.5

4.6

-0.6

6.8

5.24

58.15

52.9

Miami (Fl)

9.6

6.2

3.4

1.0

6.3

5.86

59.56

75.0

Michigan

12.7

6.6

3.2

2.8

6.0

7.76

55.94

64.7

Michigan St.

9.4

7.1

7.6

-1.2

8.1

7.78

59.66

58.8

Ohio St.

11.4

6.1

3.1

2.9

6.8

7.94

58.57

70.6

Oregon

8.5

3.7

6.4

0.3

8.5

8.46

53.29

64.7

Syracuse

12.1

6.8

4.1

2.9

9.0

9.38

59.29

61.1

Wichita St.

8.9

4.6

7.9

0.5

7.6

10.02

53.79

68.4

 

 

Game Previews

Miami vs. Marquette

On PiRate paper, this game looks extremely close, about a 52-48% probability for Miami.  The Hurricanes enjoy marginally better criteria numbers in shooting percentage margin, turnover margin, and strength of schedule, while Marquette is a slightly better rebounding team.  The R+T criteria is virtually a wash, so we have just one criteria left to select Miami as the winner.  The Hurricanes are a better road team than Marquette.

 

This should be an exciting game to watch, as the talent matches up well.  Although the two stars will not guard each other, The Golden Eagles’ Vander Blue and the “U’s” Shane Larkin should put on great performances that will make it worthwhile to tune in.

 

Note: Marquette coach Buzz Williams is being mentioned in more than one coaching vacancy, and this could possibly affect the play of his team.

 

PiRate Pick: Miami 68  Marquette 64

 

 

Ohio State vs. Arizona

Like the first game, this one looks razor close according to our criteria ratings.  In fact, it is close to a coin-flip to determine the winner.  Of course, we would never do something like that to pick a winner.  We have a confirmed pick in this game.

 

Ohio State has a slight edge in field goal percentage margin.  Arizona has a definite rebounding margin edge, more than any other criteria in our formula.  The Buckeyes have the advantage in turnover margin, somewhere between their field goal percentage edge and ‘Zona’s edge in rebounding margin.  The steals criteria is a wash, while the all-important R+T rating edge goes to the Wildcats by less than one half possession, basically another wash.  The Scarlet and Gray enjoy a small edge in strength of schedule, while UA has an equally tiny advantage in won-loss percentage away from home.

 

So, how is it we have a clear-cut choice in this game?  Simply put, we selected a surprise Final Four team in this region, and we are sticking with them.

 

PiRate Pick:  Arizona 70  Ohio State 66

 

Indiana vs. Syracuse

Keith Smart isn’t walking through that door, and neither is Sherman Douglas.  This rematch of the 1987 national title game could be just as close if the Orangemen play like they did in the first half of the Big East Championship Game.

 

Indiana has considerable advantages in this game, but they are not strong enough to call this an easy win for the top-seeded Hoosiers.  IU has a 3% better field goal percentage margin and a 3.4 advantage in rebounding margin.  The ‘Cuse has a slight advantage in turnover margin, which closes the gap in R+T to just one extra scoring opportunity for the Hoosiers.  SU has a slim advantage in schedule strength, while Indiana has the advantage in winning percentage away from home.

 

Thanks to two NCAA Tournament wins away from Bloomington, Indiana now meets all the superior ratings in PiRate Criteria, which makes them the new favorite to go all the way to the title.  Of course, our official pick is Louisville, but as of now, the Hoosiers would be favored to win the game if it is for all the marbles.  And, these numbers could still change.  So, if you are allowed to pick anew after each round, check back to make sure Indiana is still number one in our ratings.  Louisville is just a tad behind but with a possible two games to reclaim the lead.

 

PiRate Pick: Indiana 72  Syracuse 66

 

Wichita State vs. La Salle

If you had these two teams facing off in your Sweet 16 bracket, please send us a link to your expert blog.   We could see the Shockers getting here, but in all honesty, we did not believe the Explorers would get past the First Four!

 

We believe this game will be the first blowout of the Sweet 16, and we say Wichita State will cruise to a double-digit victory.

 

The Shockers have prohibitive advantages in field goal percentage margin and rebounding margin, where La Salle’s numbers are negative for both stats.  WSU has an R+T advantage of 8.26.  Add these 8.26 additional scoring opportunities to the considerable field goal margin advantage, and it adds up to a very fun night for the Kansans.

 

PiRate Pick: Wichita State 76  La Salle 61

 

 

Louisville vs. Oregon

We love it when big conference teams from more than 1,000 miles apart meet in the second weekend of the tournament.  You never know for sure if your comparisons are valid, because there are not many comparative games between the two teams.

 

It is games like this, where we must put all of our faith in our method.  If our method is worth a grain of salt, it is this type of game that will separate it from the rest.

 

Give the field goal percentage margin advantage to Louisville by 2.4%.  Oregon wins the rebound margin criteria by 2.6, while the Cardinals have a huge advantage in turnover margin and steals (6.0 and 2.5 respectively).  UL gets the nod in R+T by 5.1, and the Cards have equally big advantages in schedule strength and road won-loss percentage.  It adds up to another rather easy win for Rick Pitino’s crew.

 

PiRate Pick: Louisville 75  Oregon 59

 

Kansas vs. Michigan

Michigan’s forte is shooting; statistically, Kansas is the toughest team in decades against the shot, holding teams below 36% from the field.  John Beilein’s teams historically have not been the best rebounding squads, but this year’s team is different; the Wolverines can bang the boards.  However, Kansas is much tougher on the glass, so the Jayhawks have the advantage here as well.  Michigan has a nice advantage in turnover margin, as KU’s margin is negative.  However, the Maize and Blue do not steal the ball very much, while KU actually has a better steals rate.  This gives the lads from Lawrence an R+T deficit of just 1.4, which equates to 1.4 extra scoring opportunities for Michigan.  KU’s stellar field goal percentage margin will overcome that extra opportunity and a half, and the Jayhawks will survive and advance.

 

PiRate Pick: Kansas 69  Michigan 64

 

Duke vs. Michigan State

Here is one of those games where we love the contrast in styles.  Duke is all finesse this year, while MSU is mostly muscle.  We liken this to the 1960’s American Football League, where the Kansas City Chiefs were the finesse team, and the Oakland Raiders were the muscle team (don’t tell that to opponents that faced Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell, and “The Hammer.”)

 

Duke is a better shooting team, but Michigan State is better defending the shot.  The Spartans will dominate on the glass, as Duke has been outrebounded this year, while Coach Tom Izzo’s squad has remained a dynasty in this department.  Coach K will counter with a halfcourt pressure defense that forces MSU to turn the ball over, something they are prone to do against ball-hawking teams.

 

In the end, we believe the Spartans will hold onto the ball in the final eight minutes, while Duke will never gain an upper hand on the boards.  It adds up to another Elite 8 run for Izzo and his Spartans.

 

PiRate Pick: Michigan State 66  Duke 60

 

 

Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast

You know we want to come up with some rational reason why FGCU can do it again, like they are the George Mason, Butler, or VCU of 2013.  We’d love to say that, and this team has not won their first two games by 10 points both times by some form of hocus-pocus.

 

Florida is not Georgetown.  The Gators will have answers for Eagles’ quick-pace.  In fact, except for steals, Florida holds tremendous advantages in every other criteria.  Coach Billy Donovan’s orange and blue are not the equal of the teams that raised banners in Gainesville.  This team isn’t as good as the one that almost won the title before losing to Michigan State.  It is about as good as the Final Four team coached by Lon Kruger, which is good enough to win one more time before meeting its match.

 

PiRate Pick: Florida 82  Florida Gulf Coast 68

 

Check back early Saturday morning for our Elite 8 Preview

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