The Pi-Rate Ratings

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

March 21, 2012

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Preview

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings’ Bracketnomics.  A quick tutorial about Bracketnomics:  We have studied numerous statistical factors of all Final Four Teams from the 1950’s until 2011.  We isolated the statistical similarities of those teams and found certain shared statistical characteristics.  For the last eight years, we have been applying it to the NCAA teams trying to discover which ones shared these same statistics as the Final Four teams of yesteryear.  In five of the last seven years, we were pretty spot on with our selections.  For instance, in 2009, when Kentucky, Kansas, and Ohio State were listed as the heavy tri-favorites, our system showed Duke to be the top-rated team.  We went with Duke even though the Blue Devils were not being highly considered.  Now admittedly, we did not see Butler coming through to the Finals that year, or last year either, but we did rate Butler as one to watch to get to the Elite 8.

 

 

If you want all the details behind our PiRate Criteria Score, please refer to our Bracketnomics 505, 2012 edition at: https://piratings.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/bracketnomics-505-2012-edition/

————————————————————————————————————

 

Four teams from Ohio and 10 teams from the Industrial Midwest in the Sweet 16, draw similarities between the 2012 NCAA Tournament and the 2012 Presidential Election.  The road to the White House will run through the Industrial Midwest with Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin more than likely being the decisive states.  The road to New Orleans will also run through these same states.

 

Let’s take a look at the eight games to be played Thursday and Friday in the regional semifinals.

 

All times Eastern Daylight Time

 

Thursday, March 22

 

East Regional: Boston

Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill “Man-to-Man” Raftery, and Lesley Visser

Network: CBS

 

7:15 PM

#1 Syracuse (33-2) vs. # 4 Wisconsin Badgers (26-9)

PiRate Criteria Score:  Syr 20.5  UW 17.7

Syracuse criteria score includes the loss of Fab Melo

 

We really like the chess match that this game should present Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.  The Orangemen will throw their 2-3 zone defense at the Badgers, and Wisconsin will need to have their X-zone continuity offense ready to counter it.  UW is a lot more comfortable with the swing offense, and their zone offense showed a lot of liabilities in the few minutes that Vanderbilt used a 2-3 zone at the end of the game.

 

The loss of Fab Melo still hurts Syracuse, but his replacements have taken up a good deal of the slack.  Syracuse had depth, and in the NCAA Tournament with all the extra-long media timeouts, depth is not as much of a concern.

 

The PiRate Criteria show Syracuse to have advantages in shooting percentage differential and turnover margin (plus steals), while Wisconsin has the rebounding advantage.  Because we do not believe the Badgers will be exploited via turnover margin, this game comes down to which team has the hotter shooting hand when they get open looks.  Syracuse is our answer to that question.

 

Prediction: Syracuse 66  Wisconsin 59

 

9:45 PM

#2 Ohio State (29-7) vs. #6 Cincinnati (26-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: OSU 28.8   UC 9.9

 

If you are 60 years or older, you may remember the last time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament.  In fact, you may remember the last two times.  For those under 60, here is a brief history of the NCAA Tournament in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

 

Possibly the best all-around basketball played in American history was Oscar Robertson.  He was the Willie Mays of basketball.  He could shoot from the outside, drive to the hoop, rebound, pass better than any current living player, play great defense, and pick up more steals than almost every team does today.

 

Official steals and assists were not kept as statistics in those days, but from a few unofficial statistics, Robertson probably enjoyed multiple games in college where he recorded a quadruple double—double figures in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.  Imagine Michael Jordan, LeBron James, John Stockton, and Dwayne Wade made into one player.

 

The Big “O” played college basketball at Cincinnati as a varsity player in the 1958, 59, and 60 seasons.  In 1959 and 1960, the Bearcats made it to the Final Four but lose both times in the semifinals to a great California team.

 

After Robertson left UC, the Bearcats were predicted to become a .500 team.  However, under new coach Ed Jucker, Cinti became the top defensive and rebounding team in the nation and proceeded to go to the Final Four in 1961, 62, and 63, becoming the first team to ever make it to five consecutive Final Fours.

 

Back to 1960, the Ohio State Buckeyes had enjoyed many great offensive teams, but poor defense had kept OSU from winning the Big Ten.  Coach Fred Taylor had recruited a fantastic class of players.  In fact, all five starters would play as regulars in the NBA after they graduated; two became all-pros and hall of famers; and one other would help lead his pro team to multiple NBA titles as a key guard.

 

That stellar starting quintet included Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Larry Siegfired, Mel Nowell, and Joe Roberts.  Some guy named Bobby Knight came off the bench.

 

In 1960, Ohio State lost a couple of close games prior to the Big Ten schedule and went through the conference like a hot knife through butter.  Once, the Buckeyes reached the NCAA Tournament, they recorded four blowout wins to take the title.

 

In 1961, Ohio State had an even better team than the 1960 champions, with almost the entire roster returning.  The Buckeyes ran the table in the regular season, finishing 24-0.  Cincinnati, of course, lost the Big O and their coach.  Lo and behold, the Bearcats lost three early games and then finished with a long winning streak, moving up to number two in the nation at 23-3.

 

Both teams continued to win in the tournament, making it to the Championship Game, where Cincinnati pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever pulled by the nation’s number two team.

 

The following year, the Bearcats were even better.  They lost twice during the regular season, but they played a very difficult schedule.

 

Ohio State was not as strong as 1961, but with Havlicek and Lucas now seniors, the Buckeyes were the class of the Big Ten once again, finishing with a 23-1 record.

 

It was almost a foregone conclusion that there would be a rematch in the Championship, and the two Ohio teams did not disappoint.  Cincinnati won again in another mild upset.

 

The Bearcats were supposed to have their best team in 1963.  They went 25-1 during the regular season.  They were the odds-on favorite to become the first team to win the NCAA Championship three years running.

 

A team from Chicago came out of nowhere to upset the apple cart.  Loyola, a team filled with a roster of African-American players from the South, where they could not play in the SEC or ACC, proved to be the Bearcats’ equal.  They took the title game to overtime and then pulled off the big upset in what would be the last Final Four before the dawn of the UCLA dynasty.

 

Now, back to 2012.  The hype for this game should come close to equaling the hype of your typical Ohio State-Michigan football game.  These teams will be fired up more than your average Sweet 16 team, and it will be extremely hard-fought and physical.  After the game settles down, Ohio State will prove to be the superior team.  The Buckeyes come out on top in field goal differential and rebounding margin, while they are equal to the Bearcats in turnover margin.  Cincinnati enjoys a better steals rating, but Ohio State has played a schedule that is on average about 4.5 points tougher.

 

Prediction: Ohio State 75  Cincinnati 66

 

West Regional: Phoenix

Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Len Elmore, and Marty Snider

Network: TBS

 

7:47 PM

#1 Michigan State (29-7) vs. #4 Louisville (28-9)

PiRate Criteria Score: MSU 28.9  UL 15.8

 

Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino know what it takes to get a team to the Final Four and win the national title.  Izzo has the better roster this year, so the Spartans have the advantage.

 

Looking at the Criteria scores, Michigan State wins in field goal percentage margin, wins big in rebounding margin, and enjoys a slight advantage in strength of schedule.  Louisville has the advantage in turnover margin and steals, and enjoys a very slightly better winning percentage away from home.

 

This will be an interesting game, and it is close to a tossup.  The key will be how Michigan State handles the Cardinal pressure and whether UL can keep the ball out of Draymond Green’s hands as the shot clock winds down.  We believe Louisville will come up short.

 

Prediction: Michigan State 69  Louisville 61

 

10:17 PM

#3 Marquette (27-7) vs. #7 Florida (25-10)

PiRate Criteria Score: MU 16.4  UF 15.4

 

Florida had the easiest path of any of the 16 teams still around.  The Gators won two blowout games to get to the Sweet 16, but neither opponent could exploit their inside weakness.

 

Marquette is not flashy, but Coach Buzz Williams gets the maximum effort out of his squad.  MU does not have an overly muscular team, but they can get the job done inside.  They were outrebounded by a tiny amount against a slate of some of the best rebounding teams in the nation.

 

Additionally, the Marquette backcourt matches up well with the Gator backcourt.  Florida will still win the battle of three-pointers, but our criteria actually discounts that rating in favor of locating teams that can score cheap baskets and second-chance points by controlling the boards.  The Marquette backcourt plays better defense and generates a lot of steals that lead to cheap baskets.

 

This game has the smallest criteria difference in the Sweet 16, and it could easily go either way.  It is basically a 51% to 49% advantage for Marquette. 

 

Prediction: Marquette 64  Florida 62

 

Friday, March 23, 2012

 

South Regional: Atlanta

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Tracy Wolfson

Network: CBS

 

7:15 PM

#3 Baylor (29-7) vs. #10 Xavier (23-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: BU 21.8  XU 8.6

 

A lot of other pundits are starting to jump on the Baylor Bearwagon.  Coach Scott Drew has built a team that has Final Four statistical qualities. 

 

Of the 16 teams remaining, Xavier’s Criteria Score ranks number 15.  The Musketeers have reached the end of the line.

 

Baylor bests XU in scoring margin, rebounding margin, turnover margin (Xavier has a negative margin), strength of schedule, and record away from home.  This game could get out of hand, but we believe Xavier has Tu advantages.  Tu Holloway should keep the Musketeers within striking distance.

 

Prediction: Baylor 73  Xavier 66

 

9:45 PM

#1 Kentucky (34-2) vs. #4 Indiana (27-8)

PiRate Criteria Score: UK 29.5  IU 16.9

 

Kentucky lost their only regular season game on a last second jumper in Bloomington.  This game does not need extra pressure added on, but it will.

 

These teams do not like each other.  They have been rivals for decades; each school believes their state plays the best basketball in the nation (neither are correct).

 

Adolph Rupp did not like Bob Knight.  Knight did not like Joe B. Hall.  Indiana fans today hate John Calipari.  Tom Crean once coached as an assistant in the Commonwealth. 

 

We believe this game will be close for the first eight to 12 minutes, before the Wildcats begin to go on a run and put it out of reach just before halftime.

 

With uncertainties in the roster at North Carolina, Kentucky assumes the top spot in the PiRate Criteria Score.  The Wildcats have considerable advantages over Indiana in scoring margin, field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and winning percentage away from home.  Blue Mist gets its revenge and heads to the Elite 8, as they paint Atlanta blue and make this almost a home game.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 80  Indiana 68

 

Midwest Regional: St. Louis

Announcers: Marv “Yessss” Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager

Network: TBS

 

7:47 PM

#1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. #13 Ohio U (29-7)

PiRate Criteria Score: UNC 32.0 *  OU 6.5

* Without Kendall Marshall, the Tar Heels’ score drops by 12.5 points to 19.5; this assumes that John Henson has no ill effects left from his injury.

 

All is not lost in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels are losing a lot with Kendall Marshall unable to go in this game.  Let’s take a look at some stats.

 

Marshall averages 33 minutes of playing time per game.  His likely replacement, Stilman White, averages 4.3 minutes per game.

 

Marshall connects on 46.7% of his field goal attempts.  White connects on only 23.8%.  Marshall’s three-point shooting accuracy is a tad over 35%, which is not exceptional, but White shoots only 20% from behind the arc.  Marshall averages nearly 10 assists per game, while White has 19 assists all season!  What’s worse is that there is no true point guard to back up White.  Justin Watts can move from forward to guard, but he is not a perimeter player that a Final Four team needs to have on the floor in the backcourt.

 

The Tar Heels are not in dire straits here.  They benefit from playing the weakest team left in the field.  North Carolina’s second five could compete with Ohio and have a 50-50 chance of winning this game. 

 

The Tar Heels’ strength of schedule is 10 points per game better than the Bobcats.  Yet, they enjoy a 2 to 1 advantage in scoring margin.  UNC has considerable advantages in field goal percentage margin, rebounding margin, and winning percentage away from home.

 

We have to discount the Tar Heels by 12.5 Criteria points without the top point guard in the tournament.  If Marshall can play Sunday and be anywhere close to 75% effective, he can lead his team to New Orleans.  If not, this could be Roy Williams’ last win of the season.

 

Prediction: North Carolina 77  Ohio U 62

 

10:17 PM

#2 Kansas (29-6) vs. #11 North Carolina St. (24-12)

PiRate Criteria Score: KU 24.0  NCSU 13.4

 

We have to make an admission here.  Coach Mark Gottfried is a former friend of our founder.  However, we strictly go by Criteria scores when we make our predictions, even though some of us will be rooting for the Wolf Pack.

 

Kansas now enjoys the best PiRate Criteria Score in the Midwest Regional, as long as North Carolina does not have Marshall.  The Jayhawks almost qualify for a point of home-court advantage, as they will come in droves across the state of Missouri to St. Louis.

 

Kansas actually comes out ahead in every criteria category in this game.  When that happens, it almost always leads to a double-digit win for the team with the better Criteria Score.

 

North Carolina State has given North Carolina fits, and we believe Gottfried will have his players charged and ready to go.  We do not see this game getting out of hand, but we do not see KU losing.  There will be plenty of Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU echoing through the rafters.

 

Prediction: Kansas 73  North Carolina State 64

April 4, 2011

The 2011 NCAA Basketball Championship Game Preview

Tip Time:  Approximately 9:23 PM EDT (but expect it to be a couple minutes late)

Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston (Home of the Houston Astros)

Television: CBS

Radio: Westwood One

 

It has happened before.  A team that lost in the National Championship Game one year has returned to the title game a year later.  It has happened thrice.  Two times, the team in question lost again.  In 1983 and 1984, Houston lost to North Carolina State and Georgetown.  In 1992 and 1993, Michigan lost to Duke and North Carolina. 

 

In 1990, Duke was embarrassed by UNLV in the biggest Championship Game loss in history, but the Blue Devils came back in 1991 to beat Kansas for all the marbles.

 

Butler Bulldogs

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Conference: Horizon League

Record: 28-9

 

Butler Bulldogs–Starters in Bold  
No. Name Pos. Class Ht Wt PPG RPG Other  
1 Shelvin Mack G Jr 6-03 215 16.1 4.4 3.5 Ast  
2 Shawn Vanzant G Sr 6-00 172 8.2 3.2 41.7% 3-pt, 1.7 Ast  
3 Zach Hahn G Sr 6-01 176 5.1 1.2 85.7% FT  
4 Erik Fromm F Fr 6-09 220 0.8 0.5 26 G, 3.4 min  
5 Ronald Nored G Jr 6-00 174 5.1 3.1 2.4 Ast, 1.1 Stl, A+ defender  
11 Alex Anglin G/F Sr 6-05 177 0.7 0.7 18 G, 4.3 min  
20 Chrishawn Hopkins G Fr 6-01 165 1.6 0.5 20 G, 6.1 min  
22 Grant Leiendecker G Sr 6-05 182 1.2 0.3 15 G, 2.3 min  
23 Khyle Marshall F Fr 6-07 210 5.9 3.9 51.7% FG, 15.4 min  
30 Emerson Kampen C So 6-09 189 0 0.1 15 G, 1.9 min  
32 Garrett Butcher F Jr 6-07 209 1.6 1.3 29 G, 7.4 min  
33 Chase Stigall G So 6-04 195 3.8 1.7 16.2 min  
44 Andrew Smith C So 6-11 239 8.6 5.5 61% FG  
54 Matt Howard F Sr 6-08 230 16.7 7.8 1.5 Ast, 1.1 Stl  
       
Head Coach Brad Stevens    
Assistant Matthew Graves    
Assistant Terry Johnson    
Assistant Micah Shrewsberry    
       
Team Stats Butler Opp    
Points Per Game 72.1 64.4    
Field Goal % 44.1 42.6    
3-point % 35.5 32.8    
FT % 72.9 66.8    
Rebounds Per Game 35.0 31.5    
Turnovers Per Game 11.1 12.5    
Steals Per Game 5.9      
R + T (*) 5.48          
SOS 55      
Road Win % 70      
PiRate Criteria # 6      
 

(*) R+T= [R+({.2S}*{1.2T})], where R is reb. margin, T=Turnover margin, S=Steals per game

If turnover margin is negative, then adjust it to: R+T= [R+({.2S}+{1.2T})]

 

Connecticut Huskies

Location: Storrs, CT

Conference: Big East

Record: 31-9

 

Connecticut Huskies–Starters in Bold
No. Name Pos. Class Ht Wt PPG RPG Other
1 Enosch Wolf C Fr 7-01 260 1.0 0.9 7 G, 3.7 min
2 Donnell Beverly G Sr 6-04 190 1.7 1.3 8.6 min
3 Jeremy Lamb G/F Fr 6-05 185 11.1 4.4 1.6 Ast
4 Jamal Coombs-McDaniel F So 6-07 210 5.8 2.7 80% FT
5 Niels Giffey G/F Fr 6-07 210 2.2 1.3 9.5 min
10 Tyler Olander F Fr 6-09 225 1.5 1.8 9.7 min
13 Shabazz Napier G Fr 6-00 170 7.9 2.4 3.1 Ast, 1.6 Stl
15 Kemba Walker G Jr 6-01 172 23.7 5.4 81.8% FT, 4.6 Ast, 1.9 Stl
21 Kyle Bailey G Sr 6-03 170 0.0 0.0 6 G, 1.0 min
22 Roscoe Smith F Fr 6-08 205 6.5 5.2 1.2 Blk
23 Benjamin Stewart F Jr 6-05 205 0.5 0.5 4 G, 1.0 min
34 Alex Oriakhi F/C So 6-09 240 9.6 8.7 1.6 Blk
35 Charles Okwandu C Sr 7-00 255 2.9 2.7 1.3 Blk
                 
     
Head Coach Jim Calhoun  
Assistant George Blaney  
Assistant Andre LaFleur  
Assistant Kevin Ollie  
     
Team Stats U Conn Opp  
Points Per Game 72.8 65.4  
Field Goal % 43.6 39.8  
3-point % 33.3 32.9  
FT % 76.1 68.2  
Rebounds Per Game 39.3 35.2  
Turnovers Per Game 11.4 11.7  
Steals Per Game 6.4    
R + T (*) 4.56        
SOS 61    
Road Win % 78    
PiRate Criteria # 11    

 

Player Matchups

5: Butler—Andrew Smith vs. Connecticut—Charles Okwandu

Smith is quicker and more agile than Okwandu.  Smith can force Okawandu outside of the low post, while Okwandu does not have to be guarded when he is more than 10 feet away from the hoop.  In the paint, Okwandu has a strength advantage, but much of this advantage can be neutralized by Smith’s superior mobility.

 

Advantage: Smith by a little

 

4: Butler—Matt Howard vs. Connecticut—Alex Oriakhi

This is one of two keys to the game.  Howard can turn the tide of this game if he is on target from outside.  Oriakhi is a key rebounder for UConn, and if he is forced to stay outside to keep Howard from getting open looks, much of Connecticut’s rebounding advantage will dissipate.  Oriakhi can dominate Howard inside, and he has a chance to be a surprise hero in this game. 

 

When UCLA was dominating the Championship Game, the Bruins always had a surprise showing from a player that had not been expected to shine.  Memories of Steve Patterson almost single-handedly defeating Villanova in 1971 come to mind.  Ironically, that game was played next door at the Astrodome.

 

Advantage: Howard, but it needs to be a decided advantage and it may not

 

3: Butler—Chase Stigall vs. Connecticut—Roscoe Smith

Smith has a big size advantage, but he is not a major contributor.  Stigall starts, but he does not play half the time.  He will split minutes with Khyle Marshall and others. 

 

Look for Smith to win this positional battle for the Huskies, but it shouldn’t be what swings this game.

 

Advantage: Smith, but by an inconsequential amount.

 

2. Butler—Shawn Vanzant vs. Connecticut—Jeremy Lamb

Lamb has the potential to be the game-decider if Butler forgets he is capable of scoring 15-18 points in a game where 60 points might win the title.  He has a size and quickness advantage  over Vanzant. 

 

Vanzant is a better outside shooter, and if he could drain a couple of threes in the first half, it could mean a lot for Butler.

 

Advantage: Lamb, and the amount of advantage could be the difference in this game

 

1. Butler—Shelvin Mack vs. Connecticut—Kemba Walker

Walker would have the advantage over every other guard in the nation, so this is not really up for discussion.  However, if Mack could force Walker to take a few more shots to get his average and force his passes wide, Butler could in essence win this positional battle.

 

Walker absolutely must have a typical or better than typical game.  He will lead the Huskies in scoring; he will dish out four or five assists, and he will come up with a couple of steals.

 

Mack could match Walker point-for-point in this game, but if that happens, Butler will not win this game.  Mack’s ability to get the ball in low for easy shots is more important than his scoring ability.  We do not mean to say that he should forego shooting; we refer to Mack’s trying to score 25 points to match Walker.  If he scores 15 points and dishes out an equal amount of assists to Walker, then he will have done his job.

 

Advantage: Walker, but will it be enough?

 

Bench: Butler—Zach Hahn, Ronald Nored, Khyle Marshall vs. Connecticut—Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, Niels Giffey, Tyler Olander, Shabazz Napier

 

Butler’s three bench players each brings something different to the table.  Hahn is probably the best shooter in this game.  He is a rhythm shooter.  If he hits his first three, the opponent has to change its defense to keep from being shot out of the gym.

 

Nored is the best defender in this game, and he will be called on to temper Walker.  Going back to our 1971 UCLA comparison, he is the Kenny Heitz of Butler.

 

Marshall can come in and produce instant inside offense, and he plays tough defense in the lane.  He will see as much playing time as Stigall.

 

Connecticut goes nine-deep, but there is not more quality in their additional quantity.  The Husky bench is rather weak, with Napier and Coombs-McDaniel the two best reserves.  Neither should be much of a factor in this game.

 

Advantage: Butler by enough to matter if the game is strenuous.

 

Our Prediction:  We see this game playing out in a similar manner to last year’s Championship Game.  Connecticut has the talent to win this game by double digits, but Butler plays so intelligently and can keep this game close with a chance to win at the end.

 

If Walker has a big night, we do not believe Mack and Nored can come up with enough stops to prevent him from scoring 20-25 points in a limited possession game.  If Walker tries to be a superhero and commits five turnovers while shooting too many off-balance shots, then he could still score 20 points but give up more than 20 points to Butler.

 

Upon reviewing all the players’ abilities and tendencies, we believe this game will be decided at the four position.  If Howard goes out with a career night, Butler will cut down the nets.  If he has a typical night, this game will still be in doubt after the final TV timeout.  If he has an off night, Connecticut will win by eight to 12 points.

 

We tend to believe this will be just as memorable as last year’s game with the strong possibility that the team that scores the last points will win the game.  We believe there is a good chance this game could still be undecided after 40 minutes.  There have been few overtime games in the championship. 

 

The first OT title game came in 1944 when Utah edged Dartmouth 42-40 at Madison Square Garden.  In 1957, North Carolina defeated Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain in triple OT 54-53.  Cincinnati appeared in two OT title games; the first was a happy ending with a 70-65 OT thriller over in-state rival and defending national champ Ohio State.  In 1963, Loyola of Chicago upset Bearcats 60-58 in OT.  Michigan edged Seton Hall in OT 80-79 in the 1989 title game. In 1997, Arizona pulled off a big upset over defending national champ Kentucky by a score of 84-79  , and Kansas defeated Memphis in OT in 2008 by a score of 75-68.

 

Predicted Score: Connecticut 69  Butler 66 in double OT!

 

April 1, 2011

PiRate Ratings Final Four Viewing Guide and Preview, Saturday, April 2, 2011

UNCLE!!!  Yes, we cry uncle.  Our PiRate Criteria failed to predict a Final Four team for the first time since we began predicting for the media six years ago.  In backtests, it isolated at least one Final Four every year back to the advent of the 64-team tournament.

 

PiRate Criteria Rating in (parentheses)

All Games on CBS Television and Westwood One Radio

 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Final Four Site: Reliant Stadium, Houston

 

6:09 PM EDT—Virginia Commonwealth 28-11 (1) vs. Butler 27-9 (6)

 

Virginia Commonwealth Rams–Starters in Bold

No. Name Pos. Class Ht Wt PPG RPG Other
5 Juvonte Reddic F Fr 6-09 225 3.5 1.9 0.5 Stl, 11.2 min
10 Darius Theus G So 6-03 190 3.1 1.5 2.1 Ast, 1.1 Stl, 15.4 min
12 Joey Rodriguez G Sr 5-10 175 10.5 3.3 81.6% FT, 5.1 Ast, 1.5 Stl
20 Bradford Burgess G Jr 6-06 225 14.3 6.2 42.8% 3pt, 1.1 Stl
21 Jamie Skeen F Sr 6-09 240 15.4 7.4 51.6% FG, 1.6 Ast
23 Rob Brandenberg G Fr 6-02 170 5.1 1.7 13.9 min
30 Troy Daniels G So 6-04 195 2.1 0.8 26 G, 4.8 min
31 Toby Veal F Jr 6-08 235 2.4 2.2 29 G, 9.9 min
32 Brandon Rozzell G Sr 6-02 185 11.8 2.3 40.4% 3pt, 1.5 Ast. 1.4 Stl
33 D. J. Haley C Fr 7-00 250 1.1 1.6 53.1% FG, 7.8 min
34 David Hinton F So 6-09 235 0.7 0.2 18 G, 3.7 min
50 Ed Nixon G Sr 6-04 210 7.1 2.6 1.9 Ast, 1.2 Stl
     
Head Coach Shaka Smart  
Assistant Will Wade  
Assistant Mike Rhoades  
Assistant Mike Jones  
     
Team Stats VCU Opp  
Points Per Game 71.8 66.7  
Field Goal % 43.6 44.4  
3-point % 37.0 33.5  
FT % 71.6 67.4  
Rebounds Per Game 32.3 36.1  
Turnovers Per Game 11.3 14.7  
Steals Per Game 8.3    
R + T (*) 2.97        
SOS 55    
Road Win % 68    
PiRate Criteria # 1    
 

(*) R+T= [R+({.2S}*{1.2T})], where R is reb. margin, T=Turnover margin, S=Steals per game

If turnover margin is negative, then adjust it to: R+T= [R+({.2S}+{1.2T})]

 

Butler Bulldogs–Starters in Bold
No. Name Pos. Class Ht Wt PPG RPG Other
1 Shelvin Mack G Jr 6-03 215 15.9 4.3 3.6 Ast
2 Shawn Vanzant G Sr 6-00 172 8.1 3.2 42.0% 3-pt, 1.7 Ast
3 Zach Hahn G Sr 6-01 176 5.0 1.1 85.7% FT
4 Erik Fromm F Fr 6-09 220 0.8 0.5 26 G, 3.4 min
5 Ronald Nored G Jr 6-00 174 5.3 3.1 2.5 Ast, 1.2 Stl, A+ defender
11 Alex Anglin G/F Sr 6-05 177 0.7 0.7 18 G, 4.3 min
20 Chrishawn Hopkins G Fr 6-01 165 1.6 0.5 20 G, 6.1 min
22 Grant Leiendecker G Sr 6-05 182 1.2 0.3 15 G, 2.3 min
23 Khyle Marshall F Fr 6-07 210 5.9 3.8 52.4% FG, 15.2 min
30 Emerson Kampen C So 6-09 189 0.0 0.1 15 G, 1.9 min
32 Garrett Butcher F Jr 6-07 209 1.6 1.3 29 G, 7.4 min
33 Chase Stigall G So 6-04 195 3.9 1.7 16.3 min
44 Andrew Smith C So 6-11 239 8.8 5.4 62.1% FG
54 Matt Howard F Sr 6-08 230 16.7 7.7 1.5 Ast, 1.1 Stl
     
Head Coach Brad Stevens  
Assistant Matthew Graves  
Assistant Terry Johnson  
Assistant Micah Shrewsberry  
     
Team Stats Butler Opp  
Points Per Game 72.1 64.5  
Field Goal % 44.3 42.7  
3-point % 35.5 32.6  
FT % 72.7 66.8  
Rebounds Per Game 34.7 31.5  
Turnovers Per Game 11.1 12.6  
Steals Per Game 5.9    
R + T (*) 5.32        
SOS 55    
Road Win % 68    
PiRate Criteria # 6    
 
 

Virginia Commonwealth is the first team with a negative PiRate Criteria rating to win an Elite Eight round game.  The results of that game elevated their number into positive territory, but we still wonder about their rebounding difficulties.  VCU has won five games in this tournament, and four were not all that close.  The Rams have maintained a hot shooting touch from outside, and their 3-point percentage has been much higher in the postseason than it was during the regular season.

 

The VCU press has had its moments during the Big Dance as well, as a couple of opponents had trouble with it.  Can the Rams survive to the final round?  It is possible, but we tend to believe that their shooting prowess will eventually regress to the norm.  The Rams are overdue for a bad outside shooting game, and in a baseball domed stadium, the sightlines will not be like anything they have seen before.

 

Butler has the experience here.  They are the most seasoned of the teams left, and the Bulldogs can no longer be considered a Cinderella team.  In fact, we tend to see Butler very much like a 21st Century version of Marquette during the Al McGuire years.  This team can continue to be a serious player in the national tournament scene. 

 

Butler will be able to handle the VCU press.  They will inbound the ball quickly and return it quickly to the inbound passer who will have an opening to break the press with numbers.  The Bulldogs can run when they need to, and a couple of easy baskets and/or fouls early could force VCU to panic.  The Butler perimeter defense will cover the VCU shooters tightly, and Nored will make life miserable for any opponent trying to shoot from outside.

 

This is a must-see game.  It should be close, and we do not see Butler pulling away to win by a big margin.  VCU could still have a chance to win with one quick spurt, and the Rams are capable of going on a quick spurt.  Ask Kansas about that.

 

Prediction: Butler 65  VCU 61

 

Approximately 8:49 PM—Kentucky 29-8 (18) vs. Connecticut 30-9 (11)

 

Kentucky Wildcats–Starters in Bold
No. Name Pos. Class Ht Wt PPG RPG Other
1 Darius Miller G Jr 6-07 225 11.1 4.6 44.9% 3-pt, 86.4% FT, 1.7 Ast
2 Stacey Poole G Fr 6-04 195 0.3 0.5 16 G, 2.8 min
3 Terrence Jones F Fr 6-08 244 15.8 8.7 1.9 Blk, 1.1 Stl
4 Jon Hood G So 6-07 202 0.8 0.7 33 G, 4.8 min
5 Jarrod Polson G Fr 6-02 185 0.4 0.1 17 G, 1.8 min
12 Brandon Knight G Fr 6-03 185 17.3 3.9 4.2 Ast
20 Doron Lamb G Fr 6-04 195 12.3 2.0 48.1% 3-pt, 1.7 Ast
30 Eloy Vargas F Jr 6-11 250 1.5 1.9 7.7 min
34 DeAndre Liggins G Jr 6-06 210 8.8 4.1 40.2% 3-pt, 2.5 Ast, 1.2 Stl
55 Josh Harrellson F Sr 6-10 275 7.6 8.8 61.4% FG, 1.5 Blk
                 
                 
                 
                 
     
Head Coach John Calipari  
Assistant John Robic  
Assistant Orlando Antigua  
Assistant Kenny Payne  
     
Team Stats UK Opp  
Points Per Game 75.4 63.7  
Field Goal % 46.3 39.3  
3-point % 40.0 32.8  
FT % 71.6 72.2  
Rebounds Per Game 37.4 33.7  
Turnovers Per Game 10.7 12.0  
Steals Per Game 5.4    
R + T (*) 5.38        
SOS 61    
Road Win % 64    
PiRate Criteria # 18    

 

Connecticut Huskies–Starters in Bold
No. Name Pos. Class Ht Wt PPG RPG Other
1 Enosch Wolf C Fr 7-01 260 1.0 0.9 7 G, 3.7 min
2 Donnell Beverly G Sr 6-04 190 1.8 1.3 8.8 min
3 Jeremy Lamb G/F Fr 6-05 185 11.1 4.3 1.5 Ast
4 Jamal Coombs-McDaniel F So 6-07 210 5.8 2.7 81.5% FT
5 Niels Giffey G/F Fr 6-07 210 2.2 1.3 9.5 min
10 Tyler Olander F Fr 6-09 225 1.5 1.8 9.8 min
13 Shabazz Napier G Fr 6-00 170 8.0 2.4 3.0 Ast, 1.6 Stl
15 Kemba Walker G Jr 6-01 172 23.9 5.3 81.8% FT, 4.5 Ast, 1.9 Stl
21 Kyle Bailey G Sr 6-03 170 0.0 0.0 6 G, 1.0 min
22 Roscoe Smith F Fr 6-08 205 6.5 5.2 1.2 Blk
23 Benjamin Stewart F Jr 6-05 205 0.5 0.5 4 G, 1.0 min
34 Alex Oriakhi F/C So 6-09 240 9.6 8.6 1.6 Blk
35 Charles Okwandu C Sr 7-00 255 2.9 2.7 1.3 Blk
                 
     
Head Coach Jim Calhoun  
Assistant George Blaney  
Assistant Andre LaFleur  
Assistant Kevin Ollie  
     
Team Stats U Conn Opp  
Points Per Game 73.3 65.7  
Field Goal % 43.5 40.0  
3-point % 33.7 32.9  
FT % 76.0 68.9  
Rebounds Per Game 39.4 35.1  
Turnovers Per Game 11.3 11.7  
Steals Per Game 6.4    
R + T (*) 4.91        
SOS 61    
Road Win % 77    
PiRate Criteria # 11    

 

Connecticut won five games in five days at the Big East Tournament and parlayed that into four more wins in the NCAA Tournament.  The Huskies have a chance to begin and end the season with separate double-digit game winning streaks.  In Kemba Walker, U Conn has the best player in the Final Four, but one player cannot do it alone.  The Huskies are anything but a one person team.  They can pound it inside with Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu, and when Walker drives the lane, Jeremy Lamb is frequently open outside.  This Connecticut team is not as strong as the two national championship teams from Calhoun’s past, but the Huskies have enough talent to win a third for Calhoun.

 

Kentucky is the one team left in the tournament with a PiRate Criteria rating similar of past national champions.  Their 18 rating is actually better than Indiana in 1981, North Carolina State in 1983, Villanova in 1985, Kansas in 1988, and Arizona in 1997.  The Wildcats have very little depth with only seven players used unless the game is a major blowout.  With the extra long timeout lengths, this should not be a factor at all this weekend.  Although none of the players have Final Four experience, every game Kentucky plays is about as pressure-packed as a Final Four game.  We believe the Wildcats will not be affected or intimidated in this game.  However, the weird sightlines could make their outside shooting game suffer. 

 

These two teams met in Hawaii in November, and Connecticut won 84-67.  In that game, the Huskies quickly opened a 20-point lead in the first half and went to the locker room at the half up 50-29.  Connecticut couldn’t miss, while Kentucky couldn’t buy a basket.  Knight and Liggins were a combined 0-10 from three-point land, and Josh Harrellson did not score.  Walker scored 29 points for the winners, while Oriakhi recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

 

This game will have a much different look.  This season, Kentucky has dominated teams that they have already played during the season.  They are 7-0 against teams that they played a second or third time.  We see this trend continuing.

 

Prediction: Kentucky 72  Connecticut 66

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