The Pi-Rate Ratings

June 10, 2018

The PiRates Are Hard At Work For Football Season

Hello Mates.

This is the head PiRate telling you that we have set sail and are on our way out to the green sea, otherwise known as the Football Field.

We have already begun to update our college football ratings for the 2018 season.  We have a unique way of updating our ratings from the end of the previous season to the beginning of the new season.  We have point values assigned to every starting and backup position on offense and defense plus an overall rating for the components of special teams.

For instance, as it should be obvious, the Quarterback is the most important position in college football.  So, we take special care in determining how many points better or worse each of the 130 teams is in week one compared to their final game of the year before by adding or subtracting points based on the QB.  We look at certain analytics data, just like baseball teams look at advanced statistics.  We actually have our own version of WAR for college football.  Instead of Batting, Fielding, and Pitching WAR, we have offense, defense, and special teams WAR, only instead of putting the final numbers into wins above average, we use points per game above average.  In the PiRate Ratings, a rating of 100.0 is average.  If a quarterback is worth 6.3 points better than an average QB, then before we look at the reserves, a team that is totally average at every other position would begin the season at 106.3 for this particular piece of the ratings’ puzzle.  If a quarterback has been determined to be 3.8 points below average, it would reduce the average team from 100.0 to 96.2.

On offense, the receiving corps is the next most important part of the equation, while the offensive line and running back corps are equal in importance as the last two parts.

Defensively, we look at all three units as they play against the run and the pass.  Stopping the pass is more important these days than stopping the run.  Interceptions, Passes Broken Up, Sacks, and Hurries are all parts of the Pass defense stats we look at.  We also have special ratings for nose guards that have the responsibility of taking up space and keeping blockers away from the linebackers, as these heroes of the trenches rarely show up in box scores, until one of the behemoths gets injured, and his replacement prevents the star will linebacker from making his usual 14 tackles with 2 for loss.

We have an intangible part of this equation as well.  Say a team has a change in coaches.  The old coach was a spread option or flexbone disciple, while the new coach is an air raid disciple.  It’s going to take 2-4 years to fully implement the changes, as that five foot nine inch triple option QB is not going to work as a dropback passer.

Another example in an intangible is the team that had 9 key injuries the year before, and 8 of the 9 return at 100% after missing parts or all of the year before.

In 2018, there will be a case where a potential all-star junior quarterback will transfer from one Power 5 school to another and be immediately eligible.  This will have major effects on his new team, much more than if he were the top incoming freshman in the nation.  This QB has already proven himself in a power conference, while the top incoming freshman only proved himself in Georgia high school action.  There is a difference as deep as the Grand Canyon in comparing the two, even though the incoming freshman might eventually become the next John Elway.  The seasoned starter showed what he could do when he passed for close to 350 yards against Auburn, while the freshman threw for 220 yards against Troup County High School.

This is just one piece of a 5-prong process.  We rate each team against every other team using 5 different processes.  Once we are done, we use three different algorithms to come up with a PiRate, Mean, and Bias rating for each of the 130 teams.  The PiRate and Bias differ by very little, so they will frequently be highly correlated, while the Mean rating is somewhat different than the other two, because it takes the equally-weighted average of the five ratings, while the other two apply heavier weights to some of the five components.  Because they share the exact same weighting of the prong we showed you above, these two tend to stay correlated.

We know we have a lot of advanced mathematicians reading our blog, and we are grateful for your patronage.  We try to make this more analytically dominated than you might get from other sports rating sites and even break down the fourth wall from time to time to show you what we do.

If you are not a math fan and just love football, then fear not.  We still hope to have computer ratings that are as accurate as possible, and we still will make fools of ourselves weekly to issue free picks that you can then take and gift to Las Vegas if you are foolish enough to not realize that these picks are worth exactly what you pay for them.

We have 10 weeks to go.  With a lot of late night work, we hope to have the ratings ready for you in 9 weeks max.


The Captain


March 16, 2018

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

Friday’s PiRate Rating Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Texas A&M Providence 3.8
Purdue Cal St. Fullerton 17.0
Wichita St. Marshall 9.4
Cincinnati Georgia St. 12.7
North Carolina Lipscomb 17.4
Arkansas Butler -1.2
West Virginia Murray St. 6.3
Nevada Texas 2.5
Creighton Kansas St. 2.5
Michigan St. Bucknell 12.8
Xavier Texas Southern 20.0
Auburn Charleston 11.9
Virginia MD-Baltimore Co. 20.6
TCU Syracuse 4.3
Missouri Florida St. -1.1
Clemson New Mexico St. 4.1

Today’s NCAA Tournament Schedule

Friday, Mar 16, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Texas A&M 10 Providence Charlotte CBS
12:40 PM 2 Purdue 15 Cal St. Fullerton Detroit truTV
1:30 PM 4 Wichita St. 13 Marshall San Diego TNT
2:00 PM 2 Cincinnati 15 Georgia St. Nashville TBS
2:45 PM 2 North Carolina 15 Lipscomb Charlotte CBS
3:10 PM 7 Arkansas 10 Butler Detroit truTV
4:00 PM 5 West Virginia 12 Murray St. San Diego TNT
4:30 PM 7 Nevada 10 Texas Nashville TBS
6:50 PM 8 Creighton 9 Kansas St. Charlotte TNT
7:10 PM 3 Michigan St. 14 Bucknell Detroit CBS
7:20 PM 1 Xavier 16 Texas Southern Nashville TBS
7:27 PM 4 Auburn 13 Charleston San Diego truTV
9:20 PM 1 Virginia 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TNT
9:40 PM 6 TCU 11 Syracuse Detroit CBS
9:50 PM 8 Missouri 9 Florida St. Nashville TBS
9:57 PM 5 Clemson 12 New Mexico St. San Diego truTV

Saturday’s Schedule

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:10 PM 1 Villanova 9 Alabama Pittsburgh CBS
2:40 PM 2 Duke 7 Rhode Island Pittsburgh CBS
5:15 PM 5 Kentucky 13 Buffalo Boise, ID CBS
6:10 PM 3 Tennessee 11 Loyola (Chi.) Dallas TNT
7:10 PM 1 Kansas 8 Seton Hall Wichita, KS TBS
7:45 PM 4 Gonzaga 5 Ohio St. Boise, ID CBS
8:40 PM 3 North Texas 6 Florida Dallas TNT
9:40 PM 3 Michigan 6 Houston Wichita, KS TBS

Bracket Results To Date: 15-5

Today’s Criteria Bracket Picks

Virginia over Maryland-Baltimore Co.

Creighton over Kansas St.

Texas over Nevada

Cincinnati over Georgia St.

Xavier over Texas Southern

Missouri over Florida St.

Texas A&M over Providence

North Carolina over Lipscomb

West Virginia over Murray St.

Wichita St. over Marshall

Butler over Arkansas

Purdue over Cal. St. Fullerton

Clemson over New Mexico St.

Auburn over College of Charleston

Syracuse over TCU

Michigan St. over Bucknell




March 14, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games of Wed., March 14

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
UNC-Central Texas Southern -2.8
Arizona St. Syracuse 1.9

Tournament Schedule

All Times Eastern Daylight

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
6:40 PM 16 UNC-Central 16 Texas Southern Dayton, OH truTV
9:10 PM 11 Arizona St. 11 Syracuse Dayton, OH truTV


Thursday, Mar 15, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Rhode Island 10 Oklahoma Pittsburgh CBS
12:40 PM 3 Tennessee 14 Wright St. Dallas truTV
1:30 PM 4 Gonzaga 13 UNC-Greensboro Boise, ID TNT
2:00 PM 1 Kansas 16 Penn Wichita, KS TBS
2:45 PM 2 Duke 15 Iona Pittsburgh CBS
3:10 PM 6 Miami (Fla.) 11 Loyola (Chi.) Dallas truTV
4:00 PM 5 Ohio St. 12 South Dakota St. Boise, ID TNT
4:30 PM 8 Seton Hall 9 North Carolina St. Wichita, KS TBS
6:50 PM 1 Villanova 16 Radford Pittsburgh TNT
7:10 PM 5 Kentucky 12 Davidson Boise, ID CBS
7:20 PM 6 Houston 11 San Diego St Wichita, KS TBS
7:27 PM 3 Texas Tech 14 Stephen F. Austin Dallas truTV
9:20 PM 8 Virginia Tech 9 Alabama Pittsburgh TNT
9:40 PM 4 Arizona 13 Buffalo Boise, ID CBS
9:50 PM 3 Michigan 14 Montana Wichita, KS TBS
9:57 PM 6 Florida 11 St. Bonaventure Dallas truTV


Friday, Mar 16, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:15 PM 7 Texas A&M 10 Providence Charlotte CBS
12:40 PM 2 Purdue 15 Cal St. Fullerton Detroit truTV
1:30 PM 4 Wichita St. 13 Marshall San Diego TNT
2:00 PM 2 Cincinnati 15 Georgia St. Nashville TBS
2:45 PM 2 North Carolina 15 Lipscomb Charlotte CBS
3:10 PM 7 Arkansas 10 Butler Detroit truTV
4:00 PM 5 West Virginia 12 Murray St. San Diego TNT
4:30 PM 7 Nevada 10 Texas Nashville TBS
6:50 PM 8 Creighton 9 Kansas St. Charlotte TNT
7:10 PM 3 Michigan St. 14 Bucknell Detroit CBS
7:20 PM 1 Xavier 16 UNCC/Tex Sou. Nashville TBS
7:27 PM 4 Auburn 13 Charleston San Diego truTV
9:20 PM 1 Virginia 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TNT
9:40 PM 6 TCU 11 Ariz.St./Syracuse Detroit CBS
9:50 PM 8 Missouri 9 Florida St. Nashville TBS
9:57 PM 5 Clemson 12 New Mexico St. San Diego truTV


Note: Virginia’s outstanding 6th Man De’Andre Hunter is out for the season, and this will knock the Cavaliers down a few notches in our criteria.  If you have not submitted your brackets yet, you might take this into consideration, as the Cavaliers have lost a potent weapon that could play anywhere on the floor.  He was to Virginia what John Havlicek was to the Boston Celtics in the 1960’s, the 6th man that was the secret sauce of Red Auerbach’s extended success.  Without Hunter, Virginia reverts back to a great defensive team that lacks enough offensive power to beat an athletic opponent the likes of Arizona or Cincinnati.  Hunter was instrumental in helping the Cavs secure two wins over Syracuse, and road wins against Miami and Virginia Tech.


The PiRates New Criteria Shows Beginner’s Luck

Did you read our lengthy piece yesterday pertaining to our brand new paradigm?  The PiRates scrapped our old, archaic system of picking brackets and debuted our new mostly statistical metric based criteria.

We were not sure how successful it might be in the first year of its existence, and we are sure we will need to tweak it some in the ensuing years, but we started out with a bang last night.

We hit both games and basically called how St. Bonaventure would send the Sons of Westwood home to SoCal.  We wrote that we believed the Bonnies would force turnovers on the Bruins, which would be the deciding factor in the game, and it was spot on.

We are reminded that a broken watch is also correct twice a day.






March 11, 2018

PiRate Ratings’ Bracket Gurus’ Final Predictions For the Field of 68

That Darn Davidson
Call it the Steph Curry Effect. It would happen that the one bid-stealing team in the Conference Tournament part of March Madness would be a team from a conference that played its championship game on Selection Sunday afternoon.

At least the Selection Committee had to deal with this contingency as well. If our Bracket Gurus know their stuff, they believe that bubble burst popping sound you just heard emanated from Moraga, California, and Saint Mary’s just became a number one seed in the NIT.

What about the other near miss teams?  Our gurus believe (but not unanimously) the bubbles had already burst on Louisville, Middle Tennessee State, Syracuse, Marquette, Baylor, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma St.

Now, with Davidson getting in with the automatic bid, some non-guru bracketologists might simple place the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament and remove A-10 member St. Bonaventure. It doesn’t work like that. All of our Gurus already locked the Bonnies into the field. Saint Mary’s had the bottom score of the 68 teams, and with the Gaels sulking as they prepare to host an NIT game (or if our Gurus miss), now the #68 team is Arizona St. The Sun Devils are not really affected by the upset in D.C., if our Gurus have it right. They were already headed to Dayton as one of the Last Four in.

The team other than Saint Mary’s that suffered from Davidson’s win is the former last team in with a bye. USC was the number 64 team on the seed line, but after Davidson removed Saint Mary’s from the 11-seed line, it knocked the Trojans down to the fourth weakest Guru score. Thus, the Trojans are picked to join Arizona State, St. Bonaventure, and Texas in First Four games in Dayton.

Our Gurus had a difficult time narrowing the field of 68 from a field of 71. Word leaked out of the Selection Committee early Sunday morning, that all but one at-large spot had been determined prior to any games this afternoon. Our Gurus took that as a slap across 14 faces. If the Committee had it down to 69, then they could too. Between 8AM and Noon Eastern Time today, the Gurus agreed to vote Louisville, Middle Tennessee St., Marquette, and Syracuse off the Madness Island. Pending the outcome of the Davidson-Rhode Island game, the Gurus had the teams selected. A couple of late games might have affected a couple of seeds, as Cincinnati and Tennessee could swap with a Volunteer win and Bearcat loss. Tennessee lost to Kentucky in the SEC Championship, so Cincinnati should stay where they are, win or lose in the AAC Championship Game, which is about to tip off.
Since we are going to press before the American Athletic Conference Tournament ends, we told our Gurus to assume that Cincinnati wins the game and keeps their high seed.  There is a chance a Cinti loss could elevate another team from three to two seed, but we believe the Committee doesn’t want to mess with this contingency this late in the game.  We figured that time was more of the essence than waiting for the last game to finish.
So, with that in mind, here is the PiRate Ratings Bracket Gurus’ Final Prediction. If we get 68 out of 68 again this year, it will be a minor miracle. It wasn’t easy for the Gurus to come close to a consensus. Middle Tennessee, Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, and Baylor all received at least one vote out of 14 Guru lists. Saint Mary’s, Arizona St., and Texas were left off at least 3 of the 14 ballots.


Seed Team Conference
1 Virginia ACC
1 Villanova B-EAST
1 Xavier B-EAST
1 Kansas B12
2 Duke ACC
2 Purdue B-TEN
2 North Carolina ACC
2 Cincinnati AAC
3 Michigan St. B-TEN
3 Tennessee SEC
3 Michigan B-TEN
3 Auburn SEC
4 West Virginia B12
4 Arizona PAC-12
4 Texas Tech B12
4 Wichita St. AAC
5 Clemson ACC
5 Gonzaga WCC
5 Kentucky SEC
5 Ohio St. B-TEN
6 Houston AAC
6 Florida SEC
6 Miami (Fla.) ACC
6 Arkansas SEC
7 Texas A&M SEC
7 TCU B12
7 Rhode Island A-10
7 Seton Hall B-EAST
8 Nevada MWC
8 Virginia Tech ACC
8 Missouri SEC
8 Providence B-EAST
9 Alabama SEC
9 Butler B-EAST
9 Florida St. ACC
9 Creighton B-EAST
10 North Carolina St. ACC
10 Kansas St. B12
10 UCLA PAC-12
10 Oklahoma B12
11 USC PAC-12
11 Texas B12
11 St. Bonaventure A-10
11 Arizona St. PAC-12
11 Loyola (Chi.) MVC
11 San Diego St. MWC
12 New Mexico St. WAC
12 South Dakota St. SUMMIT
12 Buffalo MAC
12 Davidson A-10
13 Murray St. OVC
13 UNC-Greensboro SOCON
13 Marshall CUSA
13 Charleston CAA
14 Bucknell PATRIOT
14 Montana B-SKY
14 Wright St. HORIZON
14 Georgia St./UT-Arlington SBC
15 Stephen F. Austin SLC
15 Lipscomb A-SUN
15 Iona MAAC
15 Penn IVY
16 MD-Baltimore Co. A-EAST
16 Cal St. Fullerton B-WEST
16 Long Island NEC
16 Radford B-SOUTH
16 UNC-Central MEAC
16 Texas Southern SWAC

Our Gurus’ Additional Picks

First Four Round in Dayton

11-seed line: Texas vs. Arizona St.

11-seed line: USC vs. St. Bonaventure

16-seed line: Long Island vs. Texas Southern

16-seed line: Radford vs. UNC-Central


Last 4 Byes

61. North Carolina St.

62. Kansas St.

63. UCLA

64. Oklahoma


First Four Out

69. Saint Mary’s

70. Middle Tennessee St.

71. Louisville

72. Syracuse

February 2, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for February 3-4, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:49 am

This Weekend’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

For Multi-Bid  Leagues

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut Cincinnati -13.7
Central Florida Houston -3.0
East Carolina Memphis -6.4
St. John’s Duke -11.4
North Carolina St. Notre Dame 0.6
Wake Forest Clemson -4.1
Virginia Tech Miami (Fla.) 3.1
Syracuse Virginia -6.7
Louisville Florida St. 3.3
North Carolina Pittsburgh 21.9
Kansas Oklahoma St. 13.8
TCU Texas Tech 1.7
West Virginia Kansas St. 8.4
Texas Oklahoma 1.2
Baylor Iowa St. 8.6
Butler DePaul 12.9
Marquette Providence 4.9
Xavier Georgetown 15.4
Michigan Minnesota 9.7
Rutgers Purdue -16.9
Penn St. Iowa 6.7
Indiana Michigan St. -10.2
Wyoming Fresno St. 1.6
San Jose St. New Mexico -9.0
Boise St. UNLV 6.3
Colorado St. Nevada -13.3
San Diego St. Air Force 18.2
Stanford Oregon -0.5
California Oregon St. -4.2
Washington Arizona -5.8
Missouri Kentucky 1.6
Texas A&M South Carolina 8.3
LSU Arkansas 0.2
Florida Alabama 7.6
Tennessee Ole Miss 12.1
Mississippi St. Georgia 2.8
Auburn Vanderbilt 12.8
Portland Loyola Marymount 1.1
San Diego Saint Mary’s -8.3
Gonzaga BYU 12.1
Pepperdine Pacific -6.1
Santa Clara San Francisco -4.1
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
South Florida Tulsa -9.8
Tulane Temple -2.1
Boston College Georgia Tech 5.7
Villanova Seton Hall 14.0
Ohio St. Illinois 11.7
Maryland Wisconsin 9.7
Washington St. Arizona St. -9.5

Note: As of last night’s games, with both Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky winning big road contests, Conference USA actually moved into multi-bid league status.  We apologize for not including CUSA games in this week’s preview, but if both MTSU and WKU win this weekend and mid-week, then CUSA will be included in next Friday’s preview.

Additionally, Boise State fell from at-large status into one of the First Four out, so the Mountain West Conference should not be included as a multiple bid league.  The update occurred after this week’s games had been rated and placed in our database.  If the MWC is still just a one for sure bid league next Friday, we will remove it from our preview, thus trading CUSA for MWC.  If neither or both leagues remain in the multiple bid leagues, we will cancel both or include both in next Friday’s preview, depending on the outcomes through next Thursday night.

The PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 122.2 BIGE
2 Purdue 121.4 BTEN
3 Duke 120.2 ACC
4 Virginia 119.2 ACC
5 Michigan St. 118.9 BTEN
6 Kansas 117.5 B12
7 Cincinnati 117.4 AAC
8 Gonzaga 116.0 WCC
9 Xavier 115.2 BIGE
10 North Carolina 115.1 ACC
11 Auburn 114.9 SEC
12 Tennessee 114.8 SEC
13 West Virginia 114.4 B12
14 Texas Tech 114.4 B12
15 Wichita St. 114.2 AAC
16 Creighton 113.5 BIGE
17 Ohio St. 113.4 BTEN
18 Arizona 113.1 PAC12
19 TCU 113.1 B12
20 Saint Mary’s 112.9 WCC
21 Oklahoma 112.9 B12
22 Clemson 112.8 ACC
23 Nevada 112.4 MWC
24 Butler 112.4 BIGE
25 Florida St. 112.4 ACC

PiRate Ratings By Power Conference

Team PiRate Conf.
Cincinnati 117.4 AAC
Wichita St. 114.2 AAC
Houston 110.3 AAC
SMU 109.4 AAC
Temple 105.3 AAC
UCF 104.3 AAC
Tulsa 102.3 AAC
Tulane 100.2 AAC
Memphis 100.0 AAC
Connecticut 99.7 AAC
East Carolina 90.6 AAC
South Florida 89.5 AAC
Duke 120.2 ACC
Virginia 119.2 ACC
North Carolina 115.1 ACC
Clemson 112.8 ACC
Florida St. 112.4 ACC
Louisville 111.7 ACC
Miami FL 111.4 ACC
Virginia Tech 111.0 ACC
Notre Dame 110.8 ACC
Syracuse 108.5 ACC
North Carolina St. 107.4 ACC
Boston College 105.5 ACC
Wake Forest 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 103.3 ACC
Pittsburgh 96.7 ACC
Kansas 117.5 B12
West Virginia 114.4 B12
Texas Tech 114.4 B12
TCU 113.1 B12
Oklahoma 112.9 B12
Texas 110.6 B12
Kansas St. 110.0 B12
Baylor 109.9 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.2 B12
Iowa St. 104.8 B12
Villanova 122.2 BIGE
Xavier 115.2 BIGE
Creighton 113.5 BIGE
Butler 112.4 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.7 BIGE
Marquette 109.1 BIGE
Providence 107.7 BIGE
St. John’s 105.3 BIGE
Georgetown 103.3 BIGE
DePaul 102.5 BIGE
Purdue 121.4 BTEN
Michigan St. 118.9 BTEN
Ohio St. 113.4 BTEN
Michigan 112.2 BTEN
Maryland 110.7 BTEN
Penn St. 109.1 BTEN
Nebraska 107.3 BTEN
Northwestern 107.2 BTEN
Minnesota 106.0 BTEN
Iowa 105.4 BTEN
Illinois 105.2 BTEN
Indiana 105.2 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.0 BTEN
Rutgers 101.5 BTEN
Nevada 112.4 MWC
Boise St. 108.9 MWC
San Diego St. 107.8 MWC
UNLV 105.6 MWC
Fresno St. 104.8 MWC
New Mexico 102.4 MWC
Wyoming 102.4 MWC
Utah St. 101.3 MWC
Colorado St. 96.1 MWC
Air Force 93.1 MWC
San Jose St. 90.4 MWC
Arizona 113.1 PAC12
Arizona St. 111.1 PAC12
USC 109.7 PAC12
UCLA 108.1 PAC12
Oregon 107.6 PAC12
Utah 106.9 PAC12
Washington 103.8 PAC12
Stanford 103.6 PAC12
Colorado 102.7 PAC12
Oregon St. 102.7 PAC12
Washington St. 98.6 PAC12
California 95.0 PAC12
Auburn 114.9 SEC
Tennessee 114.8 SEC
Florida 112.3 SEC
Kentucky 112.0 SEC
Texas A&M 111.3 SEC
Arkansas 110.3 SEC
Missouri 110.1 SEC
Alabama 108.2 SEC
Georgia 107.2 SEC
Mississippi St. 107.0 SEC
LSU 107.0 SEC
South Carolina 106.5 SEC
Mississippi 106.2 SEC
Vanderbilt 105.6 SEC
Gonzaga 116.0 WCC
Saint Mary’s 112.9 WCC
BYU 107.4 WCC
San Diego 101.6 WCC
San Francisco 99.5 WCC
Pacific 98.9 WCC
Loyola Marymount 94.7 WCC
Portland 92.8 WCC
Santa Clara 92.4 WCC
Pepperdine 89.8 WCC

The PiRates Are Adjusting How We Look For Buried Treasure

The PiRate Ratings began and operated for years as a college and pro football prediction establishment.  The ratings themselves began in October of 1969 and have operated continuously since.  In 1978-79, basketball ratings were added, and from 1980-2009, the PiRates did some horse racing prognosticating.  In all this time, however, it was an added filler that actually became our most patronized product we have publicly issued, be it in print or radio.

Our March Madness Bracket Picking guides have annually dwarfed all others, be it in the number of readers to this site, the number of responses from our historic newspaper presence, or the number of responses to our historic radio presence (and in one case to our sponsor, when one team’s fans threatened to boycott the adult beverage because our leader picked their rival to win the rivalry game).

We back-tested all the past Final Four and National Champions for the years where we had statistical data to identify the fingerprint statistics that might help us forecast future Final Four and National Championship teams.  We identified some consistent stats and discovered that some stats had little or no bearing.

For instance, we discovered that for most years, teams that scored a very high percentage of their points at the foul line tended to lose with more frequency as the rounds progressed.  We surmised that a lesser number of fouls were called in the bigger games, and the teams that got this far that were not great foul shooting teams got to where they were because they were dominant in other areas.  It just so happened that these other areas were the consistent ones that produced the champions.

We wanted to come up with a statistic that could be used to represent what has helped teams dominate in NCAA Tournament play.  We began refining this data over the years.

When our captain became a baseball metric specialist and started researching advanced analytics, he learned what many others had already learned.  What may work to determine the regular season division winners may not work in the playoffs.  Oakland Athletics’ General Manager Billy Beane was quoted as saying (expletive altered), “My stuff doesn’t work in the playoffs.”

Beane was onto something, or in other words, it was plain to see that Oakland’s “Moneyball” ways produced 100-wins in the regular season, but it did not work in the playoffs, since the Athletics never won the pennant.  Forget for a minute that his predecessor Sandy Alderson actually began the advanced statistical age in Oakland, and he won three consecutive AL Pennants using a computer program to help determine some strategies.  Let’s look at why Moneyball issues do not work in the playoffs.

  1. On base percentage is superior to batting average, but in order to draw walks, the pitcher must throw pitches outside the strike zone.  In 130 out of 162 regular season games, a team might face pitching that would throw enough balls outside of the strike zone to walk four times per game.  However, in the playoffs, this team is more likely to face pitchers like Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Carlos Carrasco, Clayton Kershaw, and Steven Strasburg.  These guys will paint the corners and force batters to either swing or walk back to the dugout rather than to first base.
  2. The sacrifice hit, hit and run, stolen base, and taking an extra base on singles and doubles may not be the most intelligent way to score runs in the regular season when again, 130 out of 162 games may present better ways to score runs by getting men on and hitting three-run homers.  However, try to wait for that three-run homer against Strasburg, Kluber, Sale, or Carrasco and see how far that gets you.  You are likely to lose 3-2 more than get that three-run tater.  Many people understand that giving up one of just 27 outs to advance a runner one base is foolish–most of the time.  If you are playing for one run in the eighth or ninth inning and have a runner on 2nd with no outs, it is the right thing to do to bunt the runner over to third.  Also, when the batter is facing a dominant pitcher, and the expected on base average for this batter against this pitcher is far south of what his normal OBA is, then it may also be the smarter option to bunt a runner up a base rather than risk a non-productive out or worse a GIDP.
  3. Relief pitching changes in the playoffs, especially the World Series.  In actuality, managers more intelligently use their best reliever when leverage is the highest, even if that is with two outs in the fifth inning.  Rather than bring in the top ace to protect a 3-run lead in the ninth, managers are more likely to use that ace in a one-run game in earlier innings.  Under Beane in the height of the Moneyball years where the A’s made the playoffs and lost, Oakland never invested a lot in a true stopper.  The numbers said that just about any above-average reliever could get 35 saves coming into the game in the ninth inning protecting a two or three-run lead.  In the playoffs, when Oakland needed the next Rollie Fingers, Paul Lindblad, Bob Locker, or Darold Knowles, or the next Dennis Eckersley, and they needed that stopper to stop a rally in the 6th inning, he wasn’t on the roster.

What does this have to do with March Madness, you may ask?  Plenty, we respond.  In basketball, the Four Factors have come to represent some of the best statistical analysis that can reveal the superior teams over the inferior teams.  During the regular season, these stats may show that State U is a top 25 team and should be no worse than a 5-seed in the Big Dance.  Then, this team gets a 4 or 5-seed in the tournament and goes up against a 12 or 13-seed that dominated a mid-major conference during the regular season.  This underdog possesses some of the dominating stats that work in the tournament, while the big team from the big conference does not.  And, lo and behold, the underdog upsets the favorite, making the sports media talk about how so many 12-seeds beat 5-seeds, like it is a curse.

Never once did these media experts consider that the reason the 12-seeds beat the 5-seeds much more often than normal is because these 12-seeds would beat these 5-seeds 7 times out of 10.  In other words, they are not really upsets.  They are indicators that the people that set the seeds are doing a poor job.

So, by now, you must be anxious to see what these special stats are that help us determine what works in the playoffs.  The answer is: The PiRate R+T Rating.

Huh?  What is the R+T Rating?  If you have followed our site for a long enough time, you have seen the R+T used since the 2000 NCAA Tournament.  It has been refined through the years, sort of like how weighted on-base average goes through refinements based on each season’s environments.

At the present time, our R+T rating is:

(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T

R = Rebounding Margin per game

S = Average Steals per game

T= Turnover Margin per game

This formula translates into the number of extra scoring opportunities a team should be expected to gain over an average team.  It took hours of backtesting to refine it to the point where the result represented a real number that estimated the number of “cheap” points a team might be expected to receive over an average team.

It looks simple enough. If one team has a large rebounding edge in a game, they will benefit with an extra number of shots.  Depending on whether the advantage is at the offensive or defensive end, or both, limiting shots to one per possession and getting putbacks on the offensive end can create spurts in games that turn close contests into blowouts.

Turnover margin is not as important as rebounding margin except for when the turnover comes by way of a steal.  If the opponent turns the ball over due to travelling or stepping out of bounds or committing a charge, the opponent does not immediately see a benefit.  It ends the opponents’ possession, but it does not lead to fast break opportunities or the ability to tip the ball in the basket from a couple feet away.

When a team steals the ball, however, this is the absolute best extra possession.  Most steals come when the defense gains possession of the ball while their players are facing their basket, and the team turning the ball over has their back to that basket.  Almost all steals immediately present a number’s advantage for the team gaining possession.  If it is 2 on 1 or 3 on 2, this is like having a 3-0 count as a batter with the bases loaded.  Even if the steal results in a 2 on 2 or 3 on 3, the team with the ball has the advantage, since any even strength less than 5 on 5 favors the offense in basketball.

This is what the R+T represents.  A steal and rebound counts more than a turnover or lack of a turnover, but the turnover has value too.

How do we interpret R+T?  We have levels of interpretation.

If a team has an R+T rating of 20 or better, this is a potentially dangerous tournament team.  In a tight, evenly matched game, a team with a 20+ R+T rating has a huge advantage over a team with an average R+T rating.  At crunch time, a crucial steal or offensive rebound resulting in a basket can be the difference.

An R+T rating of 15-20 is a good rating, and a team with a rating in this range has Sweet 16 potential and maybe Elite 8 potential.

An R+T rating of 10-15 is average for an NCAA Tournament team.  Unless this team is outstanding in other areas such as field goal percentage margin, they probably do not have the necessary talent to make it past the Sweet 16.  There have been teams that made the Final Four with R+T ratings in  this range, but most of the time, they got there because they played opponents with even weaker R+T ratings.

An R+T rating in the 5-10 range might win a game or even sneak into the Sweet 16, but they should not be expected to go any farther.  It is unlikely that a team in this range will face three consecutive teams with even weaker R+T ratings.

An R+T rating in the 0-5 range does not have the goods to make it to the second weekend of the tournament.  Favored teams in this range playing underdogs with double-digit R+T ratings are prime to be “upset.”

And, when you see a team with a negative R+T, treat this team like you would treat a race horse with “four white socks.”

There is an old poem about horses wearing white socks (hooves), as it was generally believed, rightly or wrongly, that white hooves were a sign of weakness in a horse.  If we remember correctly it goes:

One white sock, keep him to the end.

Two white socks, give him to a friend.

Three white socks, send him far away.

Four white socks, keep him not a day.

A team with a negative R+T rating has four white socks.  Pick them not a game.  Teams with negative R+T ratings almost always lose in the Round of 64, even if they are a 2-seed playing a 15-seed.  There was a year where three heavily favored teams from power conferences but with negative R+T ratings played three double-digit seeds from mid-major conferences but with good R+T ratings.  All three heavily favored teams lost.

Do you remember in 2013 when Florida Gulf Coast made Andy Enfield famous for something more than his fantastic spouse, when his 15th-seeded Eagles clobbered second-seed Georgetown?  FGCU had a fat R+T rating, while the Hoyas had a negative R+T rating.

Let’s look at this statistic in tabular form with several potential NCAA Tournament teams.  These numbers represent only the stats from conference games for each team, thus eliminating games where a power conference team beat a low-major team by 35 points and padded their stats.

Team Reb. Stl. Opp Stl. TO R+T  Conf.
Alabama -0.1 7.7 6.7 -0.3 2.7 1
Arizona 6.1 4.8 5.7 -0.2 14.7 5
Auburn -0.3 8.1 5.8 4.4 8.1 1
Buffalo 4.1 6.9 4.8 2.4 15.3 13
Cincinnati 9.1 7.1 5.1 3.1 25.8 7
Clemson -1.9 5.4 6.4 -0.5 -2.0 2
Duke 6.9 7.8 5.7 -0.1 17.9 2
East Tennessee 7.7 6.8 5.6 0.2 19.4 17
Florida -3.6 5.2 3.3 3.0 1.1 1
Florida St. 3.6 5.5 5.8 0.0 10.2 2
Gonzaga 10.5 5.7 4.9 2.6 27.6 11
Kansas -5.2 5.8 5.7 0.3 -6.9 3
Kansas St. -8.0 8.3 6.0 3.0 -8.9 3
Kentucky 2.0 5.7 5.1 -1.7 6.1 1
UL-Lafayette 10.2 7.9 5.7 1.1 25.8 23
Louisville 1.6 7.9 7.3 2.1 8.0 2
Loyola (Chi.) 0.8 7.4 5.7 2.2 7.8 9
Miami (Fla.) 0.9 7.6 6.3 1.6 6.9 2
Michigan -0.5 5.1 4.7 3.2 6.1 6
Michigan St. 9.0 3.5 4.8 -4.5 16.5 6
Middle Tennessee 10.0 5.5 6.2 -0.9 21.7 14
Montana 4.5 8.8 4.1 4.3 19.6 20
Nevada -1.2 7.3 4.4 4.8 7.7 10
New Mexico St. 11.5 4.3 5.3 1.7 27.6 15
North Carolina 9.9 5.5 5.7 -1.2 21.7 2
North Carolina St. 0.9 6.8 6.0 1.6 6.8 2
Ohio St. 6.0 5.8 3.9 0.0 17.0 6
Oklahoma 1.6 6.3 7.8 -3.2 1.4 3
Oregon 1.8 6.7 4.8 0.7 8.9 5
Purdue 1.9 5.5 5.4 1.5 8.7 6
Rhode Island 1.5 6.3 5.7 5.6 12.1 8
Saint Mary’s 6.4 5.8 6.3 -0.7 14.7 11
South Dakota St. 2.9 5.1 4.4 -0.2 9.8 16
USC -1.4 8.0 4.7 7.0 9.5 5
SMU -0.7 8.4 4.0 2.8 7.6 7
Tennessee 1.4 6.0 5.7 0.7 6.8 1
Texas Tech 5.1 6.2 6.7 0.6 13.2 3
UCLA -0.1 6.1 4.9 0.5 4.5 5
Villanova -3.2 6.7 4.3 3.6 2.3 4
Virginia -2.9 8.3 4.1 6.2 6.5 2
Virginia Tech -6.4 6.4 5.8 1.4 -8.0 2
West Virginia 2.8 6.9 6.0 2.3 11.4 3
Wichita St. 9.3 4.9 6.1 0.8 21.8 7

There are a couple of extra things to add to this discussion before you receive your BS in R+Tology.  Most of you by now have thought that it is a lot easier for New Mexico State to dominate in the WAC than it is for Kansas to dominate in the Big 12.  Beating Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Texas Tech is a lot harder than beating Chicago State, Missouri-Kansas City, and Seattle.  Definitely, the strength of the conference must be factored into this equation.  In the last column above, you see a number under the heading of “conf.”  This represents the rating of conferences by strength.  As of today, the SEC is the toughest league in college basketball.  The ACC is number two; the Big 12 is number three; and so on.  The WAC is number 15.  There are 31 Division One conferences, so 15 is about average, while the SEC and ACC are many points better than an average conference.

We do handicap these ratings when we do our March Madness picking.  An ACC team with an R+T rating of 15 is better than a Colonial Athletic Association team with an R+T rating of 23.  A SWAC team with an R+T rating of 7 is like a Big 12 team with a negative R+T rating.

One final adjustment.  When looking at the components of the R+T ratings, notice whether a team’s components are all positive numbers.  In other words, look to see if a team has positive rebounding margins, positive turnover margins (commit less than they force), averages more than 6 steals per game and who limits opponents steals to less than 6 per game.  This is the sign of a complete team, and complete teams frequently beat teams with superior R+T ratings when the other team is not a complete team.

Let’s look at two examples from above.

Dan Hurley has done a great job at Rhode Island, and the Rams are a “complete team.”  They have a positive rebounding margin.  They average more than 6 steals per game and give up less than 6 steals per game, and they have a really nice turnover margin.  Their R+T rating is 12.1, and the Atlantic 10 conference is rated #8.  URI is definitely Sweet 16-worthy with these stats before we begin to look at other factors like shooting percentages and defensive shooting percentages.

Now, let’s look at Michigan State.  The Spartans have a 16.5 R+T rating from the number 6 conference.  However, Sparty averages only 3.5 steals per game and have a negative turnover margin of 4.5.  This is a real warning sign for bracket-pickers.  MSU will dominate on the boards in a matchup against Rhode Island, but the Rams will even up that advantage with a large turnover margins against the Spartans.  If both teams shoot a similar percentage from inside and outside the 3-point line, you have a toss-up game.

Michigan State saw how this lack of being complete hurt them in the past.  In the 2016 NCAA Tournament, the Spartans faced a Middle Tennessee State team that excelled in turnover margin and steals.  The Blue Raiders basically were much quicker than Michigan State, and this is why their turnover margin was so excellent.  They could pressure the ball and play in the passing lanes without giving up easy baskets.  MTSU pulled off the upset thanks to turnover margin equalizing the rebounding margin of their opponent.  The Blue Raiders’ quickness led to a lot of open shots, while Michigan State’s power game did not produce an equivalent number of open shots.  MTSU took MSU out of its game plan and forced the tempo, turning this into a 70-possession game.  Michigan State preferred a 60-64 possession game, and those extra 6-10 possessions per side helped the underdog team.

It is not always this cut and dried.  Other factors have to be considered, and this is where the PiRate Ratings have made substantial changes starting this year.  In past years, we did not give a lot of support to excellent three-point shooting teams, because we favored teams that could get shots from within 5 feet of the basket.  During the last three or four years, the three-point shot has become much more important, essential if you will.  The Golden State Warriors and other NBA teams now rely on advanced analytical data almost as much as Major League Baseball teams.  Three-point shooting has been determined to be as vital as having the relief ace that can enter the World Series in the 6th inning and get six high-leverage outs.  The PiRate Bracket-picking protocol has now incorporated true shooting percentages with R+T ratings and conference strength to refine our ratings.

The game has come down to whether a team can be expected to shoot a certain percentage from inside and outside the 3-point line and whether they can be expected to get extra scoring opportunities.  A combination of these two basic factors will be how we handicap games in the future.  Of course, we will handicap the two factors based on conference strength.

When you look at our spreads each week, you are looking at an algorithm that incorporates and handicaps due to conference strength, expected true shooting percentages and scoring opportunities








January 26, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 27-28, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:16 am

Spreads For Major Conference Games This Weekend

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Memphis Cincinnati -13.8
North Carolina North Carolina St. 12.2
Duke Virginia 5.0
Florida St. Miami (Fla.) 3.8
Pittsburgh Syracuse -9.6
Notre Dame Virginia Tech 4.8
Louisville Wake Forest 9.8
South Carolina Texas Tech -4.2
Florida Baylor 5.4
Texas Ole Miss 7.4
Kansas St. Georgia 7.8
Alabama Oklahoma -1.7
Iowa St. Tennessee -5.2
Vanderbilt TCU -4.9
Kansas Texas A&M 10.0
Arkansas Oklahoma St. 7.4
West Virginia Kentucky 8.8
Butler St. John’s 8.5
Creighton Georgetown 14.5
Penn St. Rutgers 9.0
Nebraska Iowa 4.7
San Jose St. Wyoming -9.7
Fresno St. Utah St. 7.6
New Mexico Colorado St. 9.4
Air Force Boise St. -13.2
UNLV San Diego St. 0.2
Arizona Utah 10.2
Arizona St. Colorado 12.1
Oregon Oregon St. 7.9
UCLA Stanford 7.5
Auburn LSU 9.5
Mississippi St. Missouri -1.0
Loyola Marymount San Diego -3.9
Pepperdine Santa Clara 1.4
Gonzaga San Francisco 20.0
BYU Pacific 12.7
Saint Mary’s Portland 23.0
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
SMU East Carolina 22.6
Houston South Florida 24.1
Wichita St. Tulsa 16.1
Temple Connecticut 7.1
Georgia Tech Clemson -6.9
Marquette Villanova -9.0
DePaul Seton Hall -5.0
Maryland Michigan St. -5.4
Indiana Purdue -13.6
USC California 17.9
Washington Washington St. 6.4

The PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Villanova 122.2 BIGE
2 Purdue 121.7 BTEN
3 Duke 120.0 ACC
4 Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
5 Virginia 119.0 ACC
6 Cincinnati 117.2 AAC
7 Kansas 117.0 B12
8 Gonzaga 116.7 WCC
9 West Virginia 116.2 B12
10 North Carolina 115.9 ACC
11 Xavier 115.4 BIGE
12 Texas Tech 114.5 B12
13 Wichita St. 114.4 AAC
14 Auburn 114.0 SEC
15 Creighton 114.0 BIGE
16 Oklahoma 113.5 B12
17 Ohio St. 113.4 BTEN
18 Tennessee 113.4 SEC
19 TCU 113.1 B12
20 Arizona 112.9 PAC12
21 Clemson 112.8 ACC
22 Florida St. 112.6 ACC
23 Saint Mary’s 112.5 WCC
24 Nevada 112.3 MWC
25 Florida 112.3 SEC

Note: Rhode Island from the Atlantic 10 Conference is #27, but no other A-10 team is in line for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.  Thus, the A-10 stays as a one-bid league if URI wins the automatic bid by winning the A-10 Tournament title.  If a second team should make it into serious Bubble contention, then we will commence with A-10 expanded coverage.

Also, the Mountain West Conference is in danger of being removed from this list.  While Nevada remains in the top 25 and looks like a near lock to make the NCAA Tournament with or without an automatic bid, the Wolfpack’s nearest competition, Boise State and San Diego State, have fallen back enough to be remote at-large candidates.  Should the Broncos and Aztecs fall off that Bubble, we will remove the Mountain West Conference as a Major.

PiRate Ratings by Major Conference 

Cincinnati 117.2 AAC
Wichita St. 114.4 AAC
Houston 110.3 AAC
SMU 109.9 AAC
UCF 104.4 AAC
Temple 104.2 AAC
Tulsa 101.8 AAC
Tulane 100.7 AAC
Connecticut 100.6 AAC
Memphis 99.9 AAC
East Carolina 90.8 AAC
South Florida 89.7 AAC
Duke 120.0 ACC
Virginia 119.0 ACC
North Carolina 115.9 ACC
Clemson 112.8 ACC
Florida St. 112.6 ACC
Miami FL 111.8 ACC
Notre Dame 111.6 ACC
Louisville 111.3 ACC
Virginia Tech 110.3 ACC
Syracuse 108.8 ACC
North Carolina St. 106.7 ACC
Boston College 105.6 ACC
Wake Forest 105.0 ACC
Georgia Tech 102.9 ACC
Pittsburgh 96.2 ACC
Kansas 117.0 B12
West Virginia 116.2 B12
Texas Tech 114.5 B12
Oklahoma 113.5 B12
TCU 113.1 B12
Kansas St. 110.7 B12
Baylor 110.4 B12
Texas 110.2 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.6 B12
Iowa St. 104.7 B12
Villanova 122.2 BIGE
Xavier 115.4 BIGE
Creighton 114.0 BIGE
Butler 110.9 BIGE
Seton Hall 110.9 BIGE
Marquette 109.7 BIGE
Providence 108.2 BIGE
St. John’s 105.9 BIGE
Georgetown 103.0 BIGE
DePaul 102.9 BIGE
Purdue 121.7 BTEN
Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
Ohio St. 113.4 BTEN
Michigan 112.3 BTEN
Maryland 110.4 BTEN
Penn St. 108.6 BTEN
Northwestern 107.0 BTEN
Nebraska 106.5 BTEN
Minnesota 106.5 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.7 BTEN
Iowa 105.3 BTEN
Indiana 105.1 BTEN
Illinois 104.3 BTEN
Rutgers 102.6 BTEN
Nevada 112.3 MWC
Boise St. 109.0 MWC
San Diego St. 108.3 MWC
UNLV 105.5 MWC
Fresno St. 105.3 MWC
Wyoming 102.4 MWC
New Mexico 102.4 MWC
Utah St. 100.7 MWC
Colorado St. 96.5 MWC
Air Force 92.8 MWC
San Jose St. 89.7 MWC
Arizona 112.9 PAC12
Arizona St. 111.3 PAC12
USC 109.6 PAC12
UCLA 107.8 PAC12
Oregon 107.6 PAC12
Utah 106.2 PAC12
Stanford 103.8 PAC12
Washington 103.1 PAC12
Colorado 102.7 PAC12
Oregon St. 102.7 PAC12
Washington St. 99.7 PAC12
California 95.2 PAC12
Auburn 114.0 SEC
Tennessee 113.4 SEC
Florida 112.3 SEC
Kentucky 111.4 SEC
Arkansas 111.0 SEC
Texas A&M 111.0 SEC
Missouri 109.9 SEC
Alabama 108.3 SEC
LSU 108.0 SEC
South Carolina 106.8 SEC
Georgia 106.4 SEC
Mississippi 106.3 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.9 SEC
Vanderbilt 104.7 SEC
Gonzaga 116.7 WCC
Saint Mary’s 112.5 WCC
BYU 107.7 WCC
San Diego 101.2 WCC
San Francisco 99.7 WCC
Pacific 98.5 WCC
Loyola Marymount 94.3 WCC
Portland 92.5 WCC
Santa Clara 92.3 WCC
Pepperdine 90.7 WCC

PiRate Ratings Take on the Current 68

Beginning next week, we hope to commence with our 2018 March Madness Bracket Gurus report.  We have received the go ahead from 11 of our 12 gurus saying they will be ready to send us their selections on Monday or Tuesday each week for the rest of the season.  We have not been able to establish contact with Guru #12 this year, so we are in the market for a 12th Guru.  We have feelers sent out to a couple of reputable bracketologists hoping to get back to a dozen.

Until then, here is our personal take on 68 teams.

America East–1: Vermont 7-0/17-5

AAC–4: Cincinnati 7-0/18-2, Wichita St. 6-2/16-4, Houston 5-2/15-4, SMU 4-4/14-7

Atlantic 10–1: Rhode Island 8-0/16-3

ACC–8: Virginia 8-0/19-1, Duke 6-2/18-2, North Carolina 5-3/16-5, Clemson 5-3/16-4, Louisville 5-2/15-5, Miami (Fla.) 4-3/15-4, Florida St. 4-4/15-5, Notre Dame 3-4/13-7

Atlantic Sun–1: Florida Gulf Coast 6-0/15-8

Big 12–7: Kansas 6-2/16-4, Oklahoma 5-3/15-4, West Virginia 5-3/16-4, Texas Tech 5-3/16-4, Kansas St. 5-3/15-5, TCU 3-5/15-5, Texas 4-4/13-7

Big East–7: Villanova 6-1/19-1, Xavier 7-2/19-3, Creighton 6-3/16-5, Seton Hall 4-3/15-5, Butler 4-4/14-7, Providence 5-3/14-7, Marquette 4-4/13-7

Big Sky–1: Montana 8-0/15-5

Big South–1: Radford 7-2/14-8

Big Ten–4: Purdue 9-0/20-2, Michigan St. 6-2/18-3, Ohio St. 9-1/18-5, Michigan 6-4/17-6

Big West–1: Hawaii 4-1/13-5

Colonial–1: Northeastern 7-2/14-7

Conference USA–1: Middle Tennessee 7-1/15-5

Horizon–1: Northern Kentucky 7-1/14-6

Ivy–1: Penn 3-0/12-6

MAAC–1: Canisius 7-1/13-8

MAC–1: Buffalo 7-0/15-5

MEAC–1: Bethune-Cookman 5-0/11-9

Missouri Valley–1: Loyola (Chi.) 7-2/17-4

Mountain West–2: Nevada 7-1/18-4, Boise St. 7-2/17-4

Northeast–1: Wagner 6-2/13-6

Ohio Valley–1: Belmont 8-1/16-6

Pac-12–3: Arizona 7-1/17-4, Arizona St. 3-5/15-5, USC 7-2/16-6

Patriot–1: Bucknell 8-1/14-8

SEC–8: Auburn 6-1/18-2, Tennessee 5-3/14-5, Florida 6-2/14-6, Kentucky 5-3/15-5, Alabama 5-3/13-7, Arkansas 4-4/14-6, Missouri 3-4/13-7, Texas A&M 2-6/13-7

Southern–1: East Tennessee 8-0/17-4

Southland–1: Stephen F. Austin 5-2/16-4

SWAC–1: Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7-0/7-14

Summit–1: South Dakota 6-1/18-5

Sun Belt–1: Louisiana-LaFayette 8-0/18-3

West Coast–2: Saint Mary’s 9-0/20-2, Gonzaga 8-1/18-4

WAC–1: New Mexico St. 5-0/17-3

Last 4 In (headed to Dayton in a First 4 Game)

Notre Dame vs. Boise St.

Kansas St. vs. USC

#16 Seeds headed to Dayton in a First 4 Game

Wagner vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Penn vs. Radford

5 Double Digit Mid-Major Seeds No Single Digit Seed Wants to Play 

New Mexico St.

Middle Tennessee or Western Kentucky


East Tennessee St.



5 Final Four Dark Horses (lower than 4 seed)


Wichita St.

Saint Mary’s



The Bubble On the Outside Looking In

69 Syracuse

70 Georgia

71 Washington

72 Western Kentucky (or Middle Tennessee if WKU wins automatic bid)

73 Baylor

74 Maryland

75 North Carolina St.

76 Oklahoma St.




January 5, 2018

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview for January 6-7, 2018

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:02 am

This Week’s PiRate Rating Spreads (multi-bid leagues only)

Saturday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Connecticut East Carolina 14.7
Memphis Tulsa -0.9
Clemson Louisville 6.7
Virginia Tech Pittsburgh 15.1
Virginia North Carolina 4.3
Syracuse Notre Dame 0.2
Boston College Wake Forest 3.1
North Carolina St. Duke -11.4
Baylor Texas 2.8
Texas Tech Kansas St. 10.1
Oklahoma St. Iowa St. 8.0
West Virginia Oklahoma 4.4
TCU Kansas -1.3
Providence Xavier -4.7
Georgetown Creighton -5.9
St. John’s DePaul 7.6
Butler Seton Hall 2.2
Villanova Marquette 14.6
Michigan Illinois 9.7
Purdue Nebraska 18.2
Minnesota Indiana 11.4
Air Force Nevada -15.5
Colorado St. Fresno St. -4.5
Wyoming Boise St. -2.4
New Mexico San Jose St. 11.3
UNLV Utah St. 9.7
Colorado Arizona -8.3
Washington St. Washington -0.1
California UCLA -6.6
Georgia Alabama 0.7
Missouri Florida 2.6
Texas A&M LSU 8.6
Ole Miss Mississippi St. 1.3
Auburn Arkansas 1.6
South Carolina Vanderbilt 2.5
Tennessee Kentucky 4.1
Pepperdine San Francisco -3.7
Loyola Marymount Gonzaga -17.2
Pacific BYU -6.0
Santa Clara Portland 4.4
Saint Mary’s San Diego 13.9
Sunday’s Games    
Home Team Visitor Spread
Central Florida Temple 1.5
Wichita St. South Florida 27.0
Cincinnati SMU 6.6
Miami (Fla.) Florida St. 0.5
Ohio St. Michigan St. -6.7
Maryland Iowa 8.2
Utah Arizona St. -2.4
Stanford USC -5.0

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

Rank Team PiRate Conf.
1 Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
2 Duke 119.1 ACC
3 Villanova 119.0 BIGE
4 Purdue 118.2 BTEN
5 Kansas 116.7 B12
6 Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
7 Texas Tech 114.8 B12
8 Virginia 114.7 ACC
9 North Carolina 114.4 ACC
10 Oklahoma 114.0 B12
11 Xavier 113.9 BIGE
12 West Virginia 113.9 B12
13 Wichita St. 113.8 AAC
14 Arizona 113.5 P12
15 Arkansas 112.9 SEC
16 Cincinnati 112.8 AAC
17 Arizona St. 112.8 P12
18 Creighton 112.7 BIGE
19 Notre Dame 112.1 ACC
20 TCU 111.9 B12
21 Florida St. 111.9 ACC
22 Seton Hall 111.5 BIGE
23 Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
24 Clemson 111.2 ACC
25 Florida 111.2 SEC

PiRate Ratings By Conference (multi-bid conferences only)

Team PiRate Conf.
Wichita St. 113.8 AAC
Cincinnati 112.8 AAC
SMU 110.2 AAC
Houston 108.8 AAC
Temple 105.4 AAC
UCF 103.4 AAC
Tulsa 102.1 AAC
Tulane 101.2 AAC
Connecticut 100.5 AAC
Memphis 97.7 AAC
South Florida 90.8 AAC
East Carolina 89.8 AAC
Duke 119.1 ACC
Virginia 114.7 ACC
North Carolina 114.4 ACC
Notre Dame 112.1 ACC
Florida St. 111.9 ACC
Clemson 111.2 ACC
Miami FL 109.9 ACC
Virginia Tech 108.9 ACC
Louisville 108.5 ACC
Syracuse 108.3 ACC
Wake Forest 106.3 ACC
Boston College 105.4 ACC
North Carolina St. 105.2 ACC
Georgia Tech 100.1 ACC
Pittsburgh 97.3 ACC
Kansas 116.7 B12
Texas Tech 114.8 B12
Oklahoma 114.0 B12
West Virginia 113.9 B12
TCU 111.9 B12
Baylor 109.5 B12
Texas 109.2 B12
Kansas St. 108.2 B12
Oklahoma St. 107.1 B12
Iowa St. 103.1 B12
Villanova 119.0 BIGE
Xavier 113.9 BIGE
Creighton 112.7 BIGE
Seton Hall 111.5 BIGE
Butler 109.7 BIGE
Marquette 108.4 BIGE
St. John’s 106.1 BIGE
Providence 105.7 BIGE
Georgetown 103.3 BIGE
DePaul 102.0 BIGE
Michigan St. 119.3 BTEN
Purdue 118.2 BTEN
Michigan 110.3 BTEN
Maryland 109.4 BTEN
Ohio St. 109.1 BTEN
Minnesota 108.9 BTEN
Penn St. 108.0 BTEN
Northwestern 106.3 BTEN
Wisconsin 105.2 BTEN
Iowa 105.2 BTEN
Illinois 104.6 BTEN
Nebraska 104.0 BTEN
Indiana 101.5 BTEN
Rutgers 100.8 BTEN
Nevada 110.9 MWC
Boise St. 107.4 MWC
San Diego St. 107.2 MWC
UNLV 106.9 MWC
Fresno St. 104.6 MWC
Wyoming 101.5 MWC
Utah St. 100.7 MWC
New Mexico 99.6 MWC
Colorado St. 96.6 MWC
Air Force 92.4 MWC
San Jose St. 91.8 MWC
Arizona 113.5 P12
Arizona St. 112.8 P12
USC 108.8 P12
Oregon 107.7 P12
UCLA 107.3 P12
Utah 106.4 P12
Washington 102.3 P12
Colorado 101.2 P12
Stanford 100.8 P12
Oregon St. 100.6 P12
Washington St. 99.8 P12
California 97.7 P12
Arkansas 112.9 SEC
Florida 111.2 SEC
Tennessee 111.0 SEC
Auburn 111.0 SEC
Kentucky 110.9 SEC
Texas A&M 110.8 SEC
Missouri 109.8 SEC
Alabama 107.9 SEC
LSU 106.2 SEC
Mississippi St. 105.3 SEC
Georgia 105.1 SEC
Vanderbilt 105.1 SEC
Mississippi 104.1 SEC
South Carolina 104.1 SEC
Gonzaga 115.4 WCC
Saint Mary’s 111.3 WCC
BYU 105.9 WCC
San Diego 101.4 WCC
San Francisco 99.7 WCC
Pacific 96.9 WCC
Loyola Marymount 95.2 WCC
Santa Clara 94.0 WCC
Pepperdine 93.0 WCC
Portland 92.6 WCC

This Week’s Estimate of Who’s In The Big Dance

Note–This is not our Bracketology Gurus report.  We expect that our gurus will begin sending us this data by the first of February.  Until then, this is our best guess as to who would be in the field if it began today.

America East

Vermont 1-0/10-5


Cincinnati 2-0/13-2

Wichita St. 2-0/12-2

SMU 2-1/12-4

Atlantic 10

Rhode Island 2-0/10-3

Atlantic Coast

Duke 1-1/13-1

North Carolina 1-1/12-3

Virginia  2-0/13-1

Miami (Fla.) 1-1/12-2

Clemson 2-0/13-1

Florida St. 1-1/12-2

Notre Dame 2-0/12-3

Louisville 1-0/11-3

Syracuse 1-1/12-3

Atlantic Sun

Florida Gulf Coast 0-0/9-8

Big 12

West Virginia 2-0/13-1

Oklahoma 2-0/12-1

Kansas 1-1/11-3

TCU 1-1/13-1

Texas Tech 2-0/13-1

Texas 1-1/10-4

Baylor 0-2/10-4

Big East

Xavier 3-0/15-1

Seton Hall 2-0/13-2

Villanova 1-1/13-1

Creighton 2-1/12-3

Butler 2-1/12-4

Big Sky

Montana 3-0/10-5

Big South

Radford 2-0/9-6

Big Ten

Michigan St. 3-0/15-1

Purdue 3-0/14-2

Ohio St. 3-0/12-4

Michigan 2-1/13-3

Minnesota 2-1/13-3

Maryland 2-2/13-4

Big West

UC-Davis 1-0/10-5


Charleston 2-0/11-3

Conference USA

Middle Tennessee 2-0/10-4


Northern Kentucky 2-0/9-5


Pennsylvania 0-0/9-5

Metro Atlantic

Canisius 2-0/8-7


Central Michigan 1-0/12-2

Mideastern Athletic

UNC-Central 1-0/7-8

Missouri Valley

Missouri St. 3-0/13-3

Mountain West

Nevada 3-0/14-3

Boise St. 3-0/13-2


Robert Morris 3-0/9-7

Ohio Valley

Belmont 3-0/11-5


Arizona 2-0/12-3

Arizona St. 0-2/12-2

UCLA 2-1/11-4

USC 2-1/11-5


Navy 1-1/10-5


Kentucky 2-0/12-2

Florida 2-0/10-4

Auburn 1-0/13-1

Texas A&M 0-2/11-3

Arkansas 1-1/11-3

Missouri 1-0/11-3

Mississippi St. 1-0/13-1


UNC-Greensboro 1-0/10-4


Stephen F. Austin 1-1/12-3

Southwestern Athletic

Jackson St. 2-0/5-10


South Dakota 2-0/14-4

Sun Belt

Louisiana-Lafayette 3-0/13-3

West Coast

Gonzaga 3-0/13-3

Saint Mary’s 3-0/14-2

Western Athletic

New Mexico St. 0-0/12-3







November 21, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 21-25, 2017

Ugh!  After a nice streak of winning weeks to get us into the black, albeit by a sliver, our picks wore the collar last week.  Now, we are 9% in the red with just a couple weeks left to go to try to make it three consecutive winning seasons.  Boycotting the NFL picks has really hurt us this year, but that had to be done.

Maybe with 5 picks this week, we can hit on something that we have not been able to do well in the last few years–hit big on rivalry week.  In past years, we have played it safe and issued only one or two parlays on this week.  When a 2-9 team plays its 9-2 rival, the outcome isn’t as cut and dry as the week before when 2-8 played 8-2 in a non-rivalry game.

We only went with five games to throw a lot of darts on the board and hope we can somehow come out with a high enough score to win.  We need to win any three of these parlays to put us back in the black for the year, but winning three of five during rivalry week is crazy.  So, if we do, it is more pure dumb luck than our strategy.

As always, this is just an exercise for fun among one PiRate Captain and his 5 lasses.

Nov 21-25
#1 @ +147  
Must Win Must Lose
Akron Kent St.
Florida Int’l. Western Ky.
#2 @ +137  
Must Win Must Lose
Texas Texas Tech
Tennessee Vanderbilt
#3 @ +155  
Must Win Must Lose
La.-Lafayette Georgia Southern
Florida St. Florida
Clemson South Carolina
#4 @ +154  
Must Win Must Lose
North Texas Rice
Middle Tenn. Old Dominion
Alabama Auburn
Wisconsin Minnesota
#5 @ +156  
Must Win Must Lose
Eastern Mich. Bowling Green
Georgia Georgia Tech
Northwestern Illinois
Virginia Tech Virginia
San Diego St. New Mexico


November 16, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 16-18, 2017

After a winning week with a modest 35% return on our investment, the PiRate Rating Money Line Parlays are just a fraction below break even for the season.  We are submitting three selections this week, with the odds being a tad lower in hopes that at least two of these three will win and put us back in the black for the season.  There are numerous trap games this week, so we chose to lay off about 35 of these games that could have been used to produce parlays in the +180 to +235 range.  The problem is that in just about every case, we were split on one of the games in the possible parlay.  For instance, the Western Kentucky-Middle Tennessee game found us divided at 3 to 3.  Either way, we could have used this parlay to produce a nice fat odds in our favor, but none of us are steadfast in our belief in the team we believe will win.  You can put a ditto on Wake Forest and North Carolina St.  We were 3-3 on that game too.

What you do receive this week are three parlays in which we were 6-0 on all but one game, and 5-1 on the other (NW-Duke).

Here are our 3 selections for the week.  REMEMBER: we issue these selections only for entertainment purposes and NEVER wager real currency on these picks.  We advise you follow our lead.  If you are a professional “player” and will play regardless, please use these selections as only one source for your investing ideas.

#1 @ +136  
Must Win Must Lose
Georgia Tech Duke
West Virginia Texas
******************** ********************
#2 @ +165  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Minnesota
South Alabama Georgia Southern
Missouri Vanderbilt
********************  ********************
#3 @ +122  
Must Win Must Lose
Utah St. Hawaii
Old Dominion Rice
Idaho Coastal Carolina

October 26, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 26-28, 2017

Oh brother!  I leave my ladies in charge of the website for a few days, and when I return from a nice long weekend, they have rearranged all the e-furniture.  Worse, they exchanged the Money Line picks I had left with their own, and they actually enjoyed a winning week.  They issued four selections (totally different than what I had left to be published), and they won two of the four for a return on investment of 28%.

Believe me, I have not heard the end of this.  Mrs. Captain, of course, sided with her gender, and so this week, I must defer to the ladies to pick the parlays yet again.  All I have done is to organize their picks into the best possible parlay odds by sourcing the best odds from the available books.  What you have as a result are four more parlays, each returning greater than +120 odds (actually this week better than +150) while playing no more than three games per parlay.

Because the ladies selected to teams to win outright as underdogs, and to minimize risk, I have combined these two underdogs in one parlay that, if it wins, it would return an incredible payoff at +375 (a $100 investment would return $475).

One preface to this before you look at the parlays.  Two of the ladies here bleed scarlet and gray and believe that the Giant Horseshoe is a basilica, tabernacle, shrine, and temple.  They believe that script Ohio is akin to the holy scriptures.  Their key pick this week is Ohio State over Penn State, and to add to their partiality, they refer to the opponent at State Pen, and they believe James Franklin was set on Earth by Lucifer.

Personally, I see the Buckeyes ready to get their revenge, but I know Coach Franklin and have seen him work miracles at Vanderbilt.  If he could win at Georgia and Florida as a bigger underdog than his Nittany Lions will be tomorrow, then he can certainly channel his inner Tom Lasorda and get his team ready to run through the walls at said horseshoe.  I would not have selected this game as part of a parlay, but then I have ceded control of this submission to the lasses.

#1 @ +152  
Must Win Must Lose
Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan
Appalachian St. Marshall
Georgia Florida
#2 @ +162  
Must Win Must Lose
South Carolina Vanderbilt
Notre Dame NC State
Texas Baylor
#3 @ +152  
Must Win Must Lose
SMU Tulsa
Iowa Minnesota
Ohio St. Penn St.
#4 @ +375  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Michigan St.
Wyoming New Mexico

Money Line Parlay Tutorial for newcomers to this site

If you are new to Money Lines and Parlays, hopefully this will explain it well enough for you to understand what is going on above.

When two sports teams play, the more familiar way to provide options for wagering is a pointspread.  For instance, say that Notre Dame is playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Alabama might be favored to win by 6 1/2 points.  In order for Alabama to win the game for those that bet on the Crimson Tide, they would have to win by 7 or more points.  If Notre Dame won or lost by 6 points or less, then those that wagered on Notre Dame would win their bets.

There is another way to bet on this game.  It is called the “Money Line.”  Pointspreads are not used.  Instead, you simply pick either Alabama or Notre Dame to win the game.  If you can bet on Alabama to win this game, even by one point, it sounds too good to be true.  Yes, there is a catch here.  In order to bet on Alabama, you must put up more money than the sports book, but if you bet on the underdog Irish to win the game, the book puts up more money than you.  This is why the wager is called a “money line.”

When you look at money line odds, the favorite will have a minus number, and the underdog will have a plus number, although there are times when a tossup game will have two minus numbers.  The reason for this is that the sports books must get their cut or vigorish.

Let’s look at a couple games to be played tonight.  Northern Illinois hosts Eastern Michigan, and NIU is a modest favorite.  The Money Line is available at about 15 sports books where one could make a wager in one’s home via the Internet.  The line may vary from site to sire, so it is best to shop around to find the best odds.

For our purposes in this tutorial, we will use one famous online sports book, Five Dimes.  At the present time, the Money Line odds at 5D for the NIU-EMU game is listed at:   Northern Illinois -275, Eastern Michigan +235.

If you want to wager on NIU, you must put up $275 for every $100 5 Dimes puts up.  If you wager $100 on NIU to win, you will $36.36 profit and receive back $136.36 if NIU wins, and you will be out $100 if they lose.  If you wager $100 on EMU to win, you will receive $275 profit and receive back $375 if EMU wins, and you will be out $100 if they lose.

When you combine two or more games into one money line wager, your odds improve, but your chances of winning all the games in the one wager go down.  Let’s say you want to combine three favorites into one betting wager.  Let’s say you are going to play a parlay that includes Favorite #1 at -250, Favorite #2 at -225, and Favorite #3 at -180.

How do yo determine what the odds would be on this parlay of three favorites, all of whom would have to win their games for you to win your wager?  I won’t bore you with the mathematical formula.  There is an easy way to figure the odds, and it is called a parlay calculator.  You don’t have to buy this from a Las Vegas book store.  They are available for free in many places online.  In our opinion, the parlay calculator at is the easiest one to use.  You can find this calculator at:

First, we select $100 for the bet amount (you can put any other amount in this spot, but all of the PiRate Rating parlays are played at $100 per wager.  We simply input -250, -225-, and -180 adjacent to Team #1 Money Line, Team #2 Money Line, and Team #3 Money Line.  Then we click on “Calculate”, and we see the number $214.57 returned.  This means that if these three favorites we have selected all win their games, we will make a $214.57 profit and receive $314.57 in our account (The profit plus what we wagered).  If the three teams do not all win their games, we will be out the $100 we invested on this game.  It can be a headache to see two teams win their games, and then your final favored team loses in an upset due to a fourth quarter field goal, but it happens, and you have to live with it.

Our goal at the PiRate Ratings is to select parlays that return better than +120 odds, while betting mostly on favored teams.  We prefer to play no more than three games in a parlay, but there are times when we might play 6 or 7 prohibitive favorites when the odds look preferable.  We won a 7-team parlay once that returned +200 odds, and all 7 teams won by double-digits.  Of course, this is a rare event.  Every week, some big underdog will upset a favorite.  In recent weeks, we had some considerable underdogs pulling off big upsets.  Syracuse surprised Clemson.  Arizona State beat up on Washington, Arizona took out Washington State, Tulsa whipped Houston, Iowa State beat Oklahoma, and Troy beat LSU.  These sure things that could have been included on parlays destroyed the selections.

As usual, read this and understand it: The PiRates never wager real currency on our selections.  We enjoy the fun that mathematics married to athletics brings a group of math geeks.  We only wager imaginary money on these games, and thus we have no worries about issuing these picks.  They are strictly for the fun of it, and enjoying a winning week is a win for mathematics and not our bank accounts.

Enjoy the games, but be just as wealthy on Sunday morning as you are on Saturday morning.


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