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:

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

Baylor over Arizona
Kentucky over Kansas

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 18, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:02 pm

Sunday, March 18, 2017

Team Team Red White Blue
Louisville Michigan 4 3 6
Kentucky Wichita St. 1 1 8
Kansas Michigan St. 11 8 1
North Carolina Arkansas 14 10 8
Oregon Rhode Island 7 6 4
Baylor USC 17 9 8
Duke South Carolina 6 6 5
UCLA Cincinnati 1 1 -1

TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:10 PM CBS Louisville vs. Michigan
2:40 PM CBS Kentucky vs. Wichita St.
5:15 PM CBS Kansas vs. Michigan St.
6:10 PM TNT North Carolina vs. Arkansas
7:10 PM TBS Oregon vs. Rhode Island
7:45 PM truTV Baylor vs. USC
8:40 PM TNT Duke vs. South Carolina
9:40 PM TBS UCLA vs. Cincinnati

Morning & Afternoon: Swallow Return to Capistrano

Spring Equinox: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 6:29 AM EDT



March 16, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Ratings for Friday’s NCAA Tournament Games

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:39 am

NCAA Tournament–Friday, March 17, 2017

Team Team Red White Blue
Michigan Oklahoma St. -1 3 1
Baylor New Mexico St. 11 12 13
Arkansas Seton Hall 2 1 -1
Oregon Iona 11 12 10
Louisville Jacksonville St. 18 18 17
SMU USC 8 8 4
North Carolina Texas Southern 22 20 19
Creighton Rhode Island 4 1 2
Kansas UC-Davis 22 19 18
Dayton Wichita St. -7 -5 -1
Duke Troy 15 16 14
Cincinnati Kansas St. 2 5 2
Miami (Fla.) Michigan St. 1 2 -2
Kentucky Northern Kentucky 19 18 13
South Carolina Marquette 1 -1 1
UCLA Kent St. 16 14 10


TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:15 PM CBS Michigan vs. Oklahoma St.
12:40 PM truTV Baylor vs. New Mexico St.
1:30 PM TNT Arkansas vs. Seton Hall
2:00 PM TBS Oregon vs. Iona
2:45 PM CBS Louisville vs. Jacksonville St.
3:10 PM truTV SMU vs. USC
4:00 PM TNT North Carolina vs. Texas Southern
4:30 PM TBS Creighton vs. Rhode Island
6:50 PM TNT Kansas vs. UC-Davis
7:10 PM CBS Dayton vs. Wichita St.
7:20 PM TBS Duke vs. Troy
7:27 PM truTV Cincinnati vs. Kansas St.
9:20 PM TNT Miami (Fla.) vs. Michigan St.
9:40 PM CBS Kentucky vs. Northern Kentucky
9:50 PM TBS South Carolina vs. Marquette
9:57 PM truTV UCLA vs. Kent St.




March 10, 2017

Conference Tournament Update–Friday, March 10, 2017

Bubble Update

Iowa, Illinois, and Utah clinched bids yesterday, but it’s to the junior prom rather than the senior prom.  The trio are NIT-bound.  USC lost a close one to rival UCLA last night, but we believe the Trojans are rather safe for now.

Some interesting upsets has made it a nerve-wracking day for a few teams that thought they were on the good side of the Bubble.  Let’s take a look at those teams that received Bubble invitations Thursday.

A. TCU–The Horned Frogs pulled the big upset over Kansas, although the Jayhawks were missing a key player due to suspension.  Kansas will remain a #1 seed, but they could move down to the fourth top-seed.  Meanwhile, Jamie Dixon is looking like a genius, taking a program that has been down for a long time and bringing it to the precipice of NCAA Tournament membership.  A Frog win today over Iowa State would give TCU 20 wins with a better than average schedule strength.  It would be mighty impressive on a resume, and the Committee would probably move that piece of paper up into the “accepted pile.”

B. Kansas State–The surprises kept coming in Kansas City, as the Wildcats knocked off Baylor in the nightcap of the Big 12 Quarterfinals.  At this point, K-State may have done enough to earn a bid, so this is probably the end of the line for Illinois State, and it could put a Friday Bubble loser in jeopardy.

C. Indiana demolished Iowa yesterday, and the Hoosiers looked more like the team they were suppose to be this year.  If IU drops Wisconsin today, the Hoosier will have a chance to make the field.  However, the Committee does not seem to favor the Big Ten this year, and it would be difficult to substantiate Indiana making the field if they do not advance to the Championship Game.  Purdue may be fortunate to become a 4-seed, and with Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan, and Michigan State all expected to make the field, an eighth Big Ten team would have to be very impressive in the next couple of days in order to make the field.  The interesting plot line here is that IU can win this tournament if they continue to play like they did yesterday, and then it would almost be a given that the Big Ten sent eight teams.  That would definitely burst a Bubble down the line.

D. Xavier had played itself down to the Bubble prior to Big East Tournament play, but the Musketeers moved back to the safe zone with their win over Butler Thursday.  XU will get a bid even if Creighton tops them tonight.

Bubblelicious Games on Friday

If your favorite team is still in that gray area,  and another upset or two makes the Committee order more ice cream, it could be a nervous 48 hours if your team loses today.  Here are the teams that should consider today must win games, even if some Bracketologists consider these teams to be in the field.  The key is that our 13 Bracketology Gurus are not unanimous in their beliefs that these teams are safe even with a loss today.

A. Vanderbilt:  The Commodores made it three for three over Texas A&M, and they bombed away from the perimeter to bury the Aggies with a second half barrage of threes.  Vandy must now do the same thing to the highly-ranked Florida Gators today to become a safe Bubble team.  A loss would leave the Commodores at 18-15, and that would give VU two negatives.  No 15-loss team has ever received and at-large bid, and almost all at-large teams have won four more games than they have lost.  19-15 improves Vandy’s chances by leaps and bounds over 18-15.

B. Houston: The Cougars still need more than one win to have any chance to make the Field.  They must beat UConn today, and then they will need an upset of Cincinnati tomorrow to even move into serious consideration.  Of course, that means Cinti must win their game against Tulsa.

C. Rhode Island is in the same boat with Houston.  Not only must the Rams take out St. Bonaventure today to have a shot at the Dance, they also must upset Dayton tomorrow and thus need Dayton to beat Davidson to set up that game.

D. TCU will move into the Field with a win over Iowa State today.  Of course, it will be a probationary invitation, because they could then be leapfrogged if a team like Indiana or Alabama should win an automatic bid.

E. Speaking of Indiana, the Hoosiers will become an official Bubbler today if they beat Wisconsin.

F. All four SEC games today have Bubble Implications.  We already told you about Vanderbilt.  Georgia has a chance to make some noise if the Bulldogs can find a way to upset Kentucky.  UGA came close to sweeping the Wildcats in the regular season only to lose two heartbreakers.  If UK wants to win this tournament, they will waltz through with three double-digit wins, but if the players are already thinking about the NBA Draft and don’t want to jeopardize their chances by giving their all and risking injury, then any team left in the field can beat the Wildcats.

G. Ole Miss has 20 wins, and a win today over Arkansas, followed by a possible win tomorrow over Florida (if UF beat Vandy), could move the Rebels into contention for a bid.

H. Alabama is the forgotton team in the SEC Tournament.  The Crimson Tide have the potential to play with any league member when they take smart shots.  Coach Avery Johnson knows how to prepare his team to compete, and it all comes down to FG% for the Tide.  Until somebody beats the Crimson, they cannot be overlooked–even if they are.  If the Tide beats South Carolina today and then gets a semifinal game with Kentucky tomorrow, a win over the Wildcats would have to make ‘Bama a serious contender.

I. The three Mid-Major Players: Middle Tennessee, Nevada, and Texas-Arlington are still alive in the at-large race, but the way the trio is playing, they will really have to lay an egg to lose in their conference tournaments.  MTSU faces the one team that beat them in conference play today, and we expect the Blue Raiders to punish UTEP with a blowout win.

Nevada faces a somewhat tougher task facing Fresno State, and if the men from Reno win, they are no guarantee in the Championship against either Colorado State or San Diego State.  In fact, the way the Aztecs played yesterday, they looked similar to all their past teams that advanced into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.  This is possibly the best tournament to watch tonight if you are a basketball junkie from another league.

UT-Arlington is the least likely of the three in this group to get an at-large bid if they fail to win their conference tournament, but they do own the one victory over Saint Mary’s other than the three Gonzaga pinned on the Gaels.  There isn’t a lot to add to their schedule strength, so UTA really needs to win the Sun Belt title.

Friday’s Schedule

Conference Tournament Schedule–All Times Eastern Standard
American Athletic Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 SMU 27-4 vs. 9 East Carolina 15-17 12:00 PM ESPN2
4 Central Florida 20-10 vs. 5 Memphis 19-12 2:00 PM ESPN2
2 Cincinnati 27-4 vs. 7 Tulsa 15-16 7:00 PM ESPNU
3 Houston 21-9 vs. 6 Connecticut 15-16 9:00 PM ESPNU
Atlantic Coast Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 North Carolina 27-6 vs. 5 Duke 25-8 7:00 PM ESPN
2 Florida St. 25-7 vs. 3 Notre Dame 24-8 9:00 PM ESPN
Atlantic 10 Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Dayton 24-6 vs. 9 Davidson 16-14 12:00 PM NBCSN
4 Rhode Island 21-9 vs. 5 St. Bonaventure 20-11 2:30 PM NBCSN
2 VCU 24-7 vs. 7 George Mason 20-12 6:00 PM NBCSN
3 Richmond 19-11 vs. 6 George Washington 19-13 8:30 PM NBCSN
Big 12 Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
8 TCU 19-14 vs. 4 Iowa St. 21-10 7:00 PM ESPN2
2 West Virginia 25-7 vs. 6 Kansas St. 20-12 9:00 PM ESPN2
Big East Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Villanova 29-3 vs. 5 Seton Hall 21-10 6:30 PM FS1
7 Xavier 21-12 vs. 6 Creighton 24-8 9:00 PM FS1
Big Sky Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 North Dakota 20-9 vs. 4 Idaho 18-12 8:35 PM Big Sky
2 Eastern Washington 22-10 vs. 3 Weber St. 18-12 11:05 PM Big Sky
Big Ten Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Purdue 25-6 vs. 8 Michigan 21-11 12:00 PM ESPN
4 Minnesota 23-8 vs. 5 Michigan St. 19-13 2:20 PM ESPN
2 Wisconsin 23-8 vs. 10 Indiana 18-14 6:30 PM BTN
3 Maryland 24-7 vs. 6 Northwestern 22-10 8:50 PM BTN
Big West Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
2 UC-Davis 20-12 vs. 3 Cal St. Fullerton 17-13 9:30 PM ESPN3
1 UC-Irvine 20-13 vs. 4 Long Beach St. 15-18 12:00 AM ESPN3
Conference USA
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Middle Tennessee 28-4 vs. 4 UTEP 15-16 12:30 PM CBSSN
2 Louisiana Tech 23-9 vs. 6 Marshall 19-14 3:00 PM CBSSN
Mid-American Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Akron 25-7 vs. 4 Ball St. 21-11 5:30 PM CBSSN
2 Ohio U 20-10 vs. 6 Kent St. 20-13 8:00 PM CBSSN
Mideastern Athletic Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 UNC-Central 23-8 vs. 5 Md.–Eastern Shore 13-19 6:00 PM ESPN3
2 Norfolk St. 16-15 vs. 11 Howard 10-23 8:00 PM ESPN3
Mountain West Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Nevada 26-6 vs. 4 Fresno St. 20-11 10:00 PM CBSSN
2 Colorado St. 22-10 vs. 6 San Diego St. 20-13 12:30 AM CBSSN
Pac-12 Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Oregon 28-4 vs. 5 California 21-11 9:00 PM P12 Net.
2 Arizona 28-4 vs. 3 UCLA 29-3 11:30 PM ESPN
Southeastern Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Kentucky 26-5 vs. 8 Georgia 19-13 1:00 PM SECN
4 South Carolina 22-9 vs. 5 Alabama 18-13 3:20 PM SECN
2 Florida 24-7 vs. 7 Vanderbilt 18-14 7:00 PM SECN
3 Arkansas 23-8 vs. 6 Ole Miss 20-12 9:20 PM SECN
Southland Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 New Orleans 18-11 vs. 5 Sam Houston St. 21-12 6:00 PM ESPN3
2 Texas A&M-CC 19-10 vs. 3 Stephen F. Austin 18-13 8:30 PM ESPN3
Southwestern Athletic Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Texas Southern 21-11 vs. 5 Grambling 16-16 3:30 PM None
2 Alcorn St. * 17-13 vs. 3 Southern 15-17 9:30 PM None
*Alcorn St. is ineligible for postseason play due to low APR scores.
If the Braves win the tourney, Texas Sou. wins the bid.
Sun Belt Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 UT-Arlington 24-7 vs. 8 Coastal Carolina 16-16 1:30 PM ESPN3
4 Texas St. 18-12 vs. 12 Louisiana-Monroe 9-23 3:00 PM ESPN3
2 Georgia St. 19-11 vs. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette 21-11 6:00 PM ESPN3
3 Georgia Southern 18-13 vs. 6 Troy 19-14 8:30 PM ESPN3
Western Athletic Conference
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Cal St. Bakersfield 21-8 vs. 4 Utah Valley 15-15 9:00 PM ESPN3
2 New Mexico St. 26-5 vs. 3 Missouri-KC 17-15 11:30 PM ESPN3

NOTE: We are getting several inquiries about our Red-White-Blue ratings and why we do not post them for every game.  The computing of these ratings are quite laborious; it takes upwards of 7 to 8 minutes to do just one game, and even with five or six people retrieving the stats, it limits us to once per week and just the Power Conference games.  We are not issuing any this weekend, as we are spending all our extra time getting this information for the teams that have clinched bids and finished regular season play.

We will issue picks for all NCAA Tournament games, commencing with the First Four at Dayton.  We hope to have the First Four previews on this site by Monday Night Eastern Daylight Time.  


February 27, 2017

The Pirate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Report For February 27, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:01 am

Gonzaga’s Loss–Good or Bad

Minutes after Gonzaga lost their home finale Saturday night, we began hearing the so-called experts talk about how a loss might help the Bulldogs rather than keep the pressure on them to stay undefeated.  We have heard this statement many times in the past, and we believe it is hogwash.  A loss never really helps a team, even if coaches and others say it may help focus attention and force players to play harder.

The team that goes 29-0 before losing is not one that needs help focusing or one that can find a way to improve on the loss.  As a matter of fact, we believe this loss hurts Gonzaga more than what it looks like on face value.  Their players lost a lot of confidence, and any self-doubt can create weaker play.  Look at it in baseball.  When a player has to think about facing Aroldis Chapman, or before him Randy Johnson, Rob Dibble, or Sandy Koufax, the thought of facing a pitcher than they cannot possibly hit oftentimes leads to the batter not being able to hit these stars.  The all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, didn’t believe he could hit Koufax’s curve ball, and he didn’t.  He hit below .175 against him.

In the basketball world, we see a close correlation between Gonzaga and the 1977 San Francisco Dons.  That USF team had four stars that would matriculate to the NBA, including future Chicago Bulls’ center Bill Cartwright, who had been considered the nation’s top high school prospect when he signed with the Dons.

The 1977 USF team played in the West Coast Athletic Conference, the predecessor of today’s West Coast Conference, of which Gonzaga is a member (as is USF).  The Dons were the odds-on favorite to win the WCAC title, but nobody expected USF to do what they did that year.  Starting just outside the top 10, USF began winning game after game.  Their early schedule featured several power conference teams, including eventual SEC champion Tennessee and WAC Champion Utah.  The Dons stayed undefeated throughout November and December, and with a win over St. John’s and a second win over Houston, USF moved to the top of the polls in early January.  There was no real competition in conference play as the Dons won the league by five games.  With a 29-0 record and a scoring margin near 20 points per game, USF closed out the regular season with a road game against a good but not great Notre Dame team.

In the second half, the Irish began to wear down the USF stars, and they were able to neutralize the Dons’ best factor–their rebounding ability.  Notre Dame went on a run and knocked USF out of the unbeaten ranks just before NCAA Tournament play began.  USF fell to number three in the nation behind Michigan and UCLA, but the experts of the day said that the loss would help USF be able to focus and recover.  It wasn’t to be.  In their very first tournament game, USF ran up against the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, and Coach Jerry Tarkanian was about to take his team to its first Final Four.  UNLV ran out to a quick double-digit lead and cruised to a 121-95 victory to end USF’s year at 29-2.

We are not saying that Gonzaga will lose its first tournament game, and remember that when USF lost to UNLV, there were just 32 Tournament teams.  What we are saying is that Gonzaga’s chances of making the Final 4 are now less by several percentage points than it was prior to Saturday.  In fact, we are willing to state that we do not believe the Bulldogs will make it to the Elite 8 this year, because their confidence level has dropped.  They may not even win the WCC Tournament.  Saint Mary’s might advance further in the Dance.  That’s how much we believe this loss hurt the Zags.


Our Weekly Look at the Conferences

To many basketball fans, the next five weeks equates to summer vacation. Conference tournament action commences today with the opening round of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament tipping off in Fort Myers, Florida, Nashville, Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Jacksonville, as the four higher seeded teams host the four lower seeded teams.

Starting today, our Bracketology Report merges with the Conference Tournament Coverage, so you will get a bit of both. In total 10 different leagues have their tournament brackets in place, so instead of showing you the records of the top teams in those leagues, we will show you the tournament schedules along with a brief look at who is hot, who is not, and who we think might win.
Our Bracketology Gurus have sent their selections to us this week, and many of them plan to update every time their bracket changes in the last two weeks before Selection Sunday.

America East

America East Tournament–Higher Seed at Home
Quarterfinal Round, Wednesday, March 1
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 1 Vermont 26-5 vs. 8 Maine 7-24 7:00 PM ESPN3
2 2 Stony Brook 17-12 vs. 7 Binghamton 12-19 7:00 PM ESPN3
3 3 Albany 19-12 vs. 6 Hartford 9-22 7:30 PM ESPN3
4 4 New Hampshire 19-11 vs. 5 Md.-Baltimore Co. 18-11 7:30 PM ESPN3

Semifinal Round, Monday, March 6

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed 7:00 PM ESPN3
6 2nd Highest Remaining Seed vs. 2nd Lowest Remaining Seed 7:30 PM ESPN3

Championship Game, Saturday, March 11

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 5 winner Game 6 winner 11:00 AM ESPN2
* This Tournament Re-seeds after the quarterfinals like the NFL Playoffs

Vermont finished the regular season with a perfect 16-0 record in the league, and there is only one other team remaining that has an undefeated conference record (Princeton is 12-0 in the Ivy League with two games remaining). So, the Catamounts must be considered prohibitive favorites, especially since they have home court advantage throughout the tournament. Only one league opponent gabe Vermont any real difficulty this year, and that was Maryland-Baltimore County. However, UMBC finished as the fifth seed, and the Retrievers will have to win a road game against New Hampshire to get a chance at the Catamounts. UNH lost at Vermont by just eight points after playing to a stalemate in the first half, and the Wildcats did not lose another game afterwards, finishing on a five-game winning streak.

Atlantic Sun

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament–Higher Seed at Home
Quarterfinal Round, Monday, February 27
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 1 Florida Gulf Coast 23-7 vs. 8 Stetson 11-20 7:00 PM WatchESPN
2 2 Lipscomb 19-12 vs. 7 NJIT 11-19 8:00 PM WatchESPN
3 3 North Florida 13-18 vs. 6 Jacksonville 17-14 7:00 PM WatchESPN
4 4 USC-Upstate 17-14 vs. 5 Kennesaw St. 13-17 7:00 PM WatchESPN

Semifinal Round, Thursday, March 2

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 Game 1 winner vs. Game 4 winner TBA WatchESPN
6 Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner TBA WatchESPN

Championship Game, Sunday, March 5

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 3:00 PM ESPN

Florida Gulf Coast has been in this spot before, and the Eagles have come through as the favorite more than once. They did lose at home to second seed Lipscomb in an ugly game where defense dominated, but the Bisons will most likely have to beat North Florida in the semifinals to get to Fort Myers for the title game. North Florida swept Lipscomb during the regular season, with their star Dallas Moore scoring 75 points in the two contests. FGCU is looking pretty and the Eagles would be competitive if they make the Big Dance. They beat UT-Arlington and lost close games to Michigan St. and Baylor.

Big Sky
North Dakota 13-3/18-8
Eastern Washington 12-4/20-9
Weber St. 11-5/16-11
Idaho 10-6/16-12
Montana St. 10-6/15-14

Weber State dropped three straight games, while the two teams above them in the standings are enjoying nice winning streaks. Montana State is the hot team from the next waive, but keep an eye on 8th place Portland State (7-9/14-13). The Vikings have lost a lot of close games, five in overtime, and they have the ability to score points in big spurts. It would not be a surprise if PSU upset a team or two in this tournament, which in our opinion is wide open.

Big South

Big South Conference Tournament–1st Round & Championship at Higher Seed, Middle 2 Rounds at #1 Winthrop
1st Round, Tuesday, February 28 (at Higher Seed)
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 7 Campbell 14-16 vs. 10 Presbyterian 5-24 7:00 PM BSouth Net.
2 8 Charleston Southern 11-18 vs. 9 Longwood 6-23 7:00 PM BSouth Net.

Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 2 (at Winthrop)

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 2 UNC-Asheville 23-8 vs. Game 1 winner 1:00 PM ESPN3
4 3 Liberty 19-12 vs. 6 Radford 13-17 3:00 PM ESPN3
5 1 Winthrop 23-6 vs. Game 2 winner 7:00 PM ESPN3
6 4 Gardner-Webb 18-13 vs. 5 High Point 15-15 9:00 PM ESPN3

Semifinal Round, Friday, March 3 (at Winthrop)

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner 6:00 PM ESPN3
8 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 8:00 PM ESPN3

Championship Game, Sunday, March 5 (at Higher Seed)

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner 1:00 PM ESPN

Winthrop and UNC-Asheville could be on a collision course for a rematch of last year’s championship game, where UNCA won on a neutral floor and then became fodder for eventual National Champion Villanova in the Round of 64. Winthrop has the edge this year, as the Eagles will play at home as long as they remain in the tournament. The two games between these teams were both nip and tuck games that went to the wire, with the game in Asheville needing an extra 10 minutes to decide the winner (UNCA won to earn a split). If you are looking for a dark horse, Gardner-Webb is playing its best ball of the year at the present time, and the Bulldogs upset UNCA to give the regular season title to Winthrop.

Big West
UC-Davis 10-4/18-11
UC-Irvine 10-4/17-13
Cal St. Fullerton 8-6/14-13

No team has been able to dominate in this league this year, and the tournament should be competitive. The current co-leaders meet in Irvine to close the regular season, and the winner should take the top seed. Long Beach St. (8-7/13-18) has been dreadful away from home this year, but Anaheim is almost like being at home in the Pyramid, so the 49ers might be worth looking at as a dark horse.

Colonial Athletic

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament–Charleston, SC
1st Round, Friday, March 3
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 Hofstra 15-16 vs. 9 Delaware 12-19 6:00 PM
2 7 James Madison 9-22 vs. 10 Drexel 9-22 8:30 PM

Quarterfinal Round, Saturday, March 4

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 1 UNC-Wilmington 26-5 vs. 12:00 PM Comcast SN
4 4 William & Mary 16-13 vs. 5 Elon 18-13 2:30 PM Comcast SN
5 2 College of Charleston 23-8 vs. 6:00 PM Comcast SN
6 3 Towson St. 19-12 vs. 6 Northeastern 15-15 8:30 PM Comcast SN

Semifinal Round, Sunday, March 5

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner 2:00 PM Comcast SN
8 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 4:30 PM Comcast SN

Championship Game, Monday, March 6

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner 7:00 PM CBSSN

A month ago, we could have just ceded this tournament to defending champ UNC-Wilmington, but that was before the Seahawks lost to William and Mary, Charleston, and Elon. Now, this looks like a tournament that is much more up for grabs. UNCW is still the favorite, but they will not win this is a cake walk. Expect some competitive games, and it would not be a surprise if somebody other than the top two teams emerges as the eventual champion. We are keeping an eye on 8-seed Hofstra. The Gaels lost a lot of close games and then won a couple on the road at the end. They have to play in the opening round and would need to win four games to take the NCAA bid, but they could sneak into the semifinals.

Conference USA
Note: Middle Tennessee is closing in on moving into the Bubble should they win out and make it to the CUSA Championship Game and lose. For now, we keep CUSA as a one-team bid.

Middle Tennessee 15-1/25-4
Louisiana Tech 13-4/21-9
Old Dominion 11-5/18-10
UTEP 11-5/13-15
Rice 10-6/20-9

Middle Tennessee clinched the CUSA regular season title yesterday, and with two home games over bottom-feeders, the Blue Raiders should enter the conference tournament at 27-4. The good news for MTSU is the host team looks like they are headed for a 7th place finish, and UAB could not face the Blue Raiders until the Championship Game from that spot. The Blazers took the Raiders to the wire yesterday in the Magic City. UTEP was the lone team to beat the Raiders, but Rice and Louisiana Tech played MTSU close and could pose a challenge.

Oakland 14-4/24-7
Valparaiso 14-4/24-7
Northern Kentucky 12-6/21-10
Green Bay 12-6/18-12
Wright St. 11-7/20-11

Imagine how the Cleveland Cavaliers would respond if Lebron James were lost just prior to the start of the playoffs. That’s how Valpo feels right now, as their big star is out of action, and the Crusaders are just an average team without him. Will Alec Peters return 100% healthy from his leg injury that cost him to miss the last two games? Without him yesterday, Valpo lost at Northern Kentucky to fall into a first place tie with Oakland.

Oakland has won nine consecutive games, while Northern Kentucky is making a name for itself for the first time since it became the third Cincinnati-area team to play Division 1 basketball. NKU Head Coach John Brannen is one of the up and coming coaches with a future at a bigger program sometime down the road, and his Norse could be ready to make some noise in Motor City Madness.

Princeton 12-0/19-6
Harvard 10-2/18-7
Yale 7-5/15-10
Columbia 5-7/11-14
Penn 5-7/12-13

The top four teams in the Ivy League qualify for the inaugural Ivy League Tournament at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Princeton and Harvard have clinched spots, while Yale needs another win to clinch a spot. The final spot is still to be decided, as Columbia beat Penn Saturday night to move back into a tie for fourth place. At present, Columbia holds the tiebreaker, but Penn has the more advantageous closing schedule with two home games, while the Lions must play two road games.

Princeton must still get by Harvard at home to finish 14-0 and then most likely will have to beat Harvard a third time to make it to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers played a couple of good non-conference foes close, but this does not look like the year where an Ivy team will win an NCAA Tournament game.

Metro Atlantic

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament at Albany (Siena)
1st Round, Thursday, March 2
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 Quinnipiac 10-20 vs. 9 Niagara 9-22 5:00 PM ESPN3
2 7 Canisius 17-14 vs. 10 Marist 8-23 7:00 PM ESPN3
3 6 Rider 17-14 vs. 11 Manhattan 10-21 9:00 PM ESPN3

Quarterfinal Round–Day 1, Friday, March 3

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
4 1 Mounmouth 26-5 vs. Game 1 winner 7:00 PM ESPN3
5 2 St. Peter’s 18-12 vs. Game 2 winner 9:30 PM ESPN3

Quarterfinal Round–Day 2, Saturday, March 4

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
6 3 Iona 19-12 vs. Game 3 winner 7:00 PM ESPN3
7 4 Siena 15-16 vs. 5 Fairfield 16-13 9:30 PM ESPN3

Semifinal Round–Sunday, March 5

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
8 Game 4 winner vs. Game 7 winner 4:30 PM ESPN3
9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 7:00 PM ESPN3

Championship Game–Monday, March 6

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
10 Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner 9:00 PM ESPN2

An interesting factoid here: The MAAC tiebreaker system forced a coin flip to determine the bottom two seeds. Marist and Manhattan tied for last at 5-15. Using the MAAC tiebreaker system, the two teams split their games. The second tiebreaker resorts in seeing who had the better record against the top-ranked team and downward until one team finished with a better record against the teams in order. Unfortunately, both Marist and Manhattan were swept by the top 5 teams. The 6th and 7th place teams tied, and Marist and Manhattan both went 1-3 against those two teams. Both teams swept Niagara, so that left no choice but to flip a coin to decide which team would be the #10 seed and which team would be the #11 seed.
Marist won the coin flip and will be the #10 seed, while Manhattan will be the #11 seed.

As for the other end of the standings, Monmouth tries to make up for stumbling in this tournament last year when the Hawks had enough talent to do some damage in the Big Dance. They may get there a year late, but the 2017 Hawks do not look to be as strong as last year’s team; they do enter the tournament riding a 16-game winning streak. Siena has to be considered a contender, since the tournament will be played on their home floor. Iona and St. Peter’s will not go down without a fight, so if the bracket holds, the semifinal round should be one worth watching.

Akron 13-3/23-6
Ohio 10-6/18-9
Ball St. 9-7/18-11
Kent St. 9-7/17-12
Buffalo 9-7/15-14
Western Michigan 9-7/13-15

The MAC Tournament is always a wide-open event, and the regular season champ is rarely a big favorite. Buffalo has won the last two MAC Tournaments, and the Bulls have to be considered a contender to “three-peat.” Akron failed as the top seed last year, and the Zips have lost the magic touch they had earlier in the season when they ran off a dozen victories in a row. Kent State is the hot team in the East, while Western Michigan is trying to become the MAC basketball version of the 1914 Miracle Boston Braves. WMU was in last place at 3-7 in the league, but the Broncos have won six consecutive games to move into a tie for first in the West.

Mideastern Athletic
UNC-Central 13-1/22-6
Norfolk St. 12-3/15-14
Morgan St. 10-4/13-14

MEAC hopes for avoiding Dayton rest on UNC-Central winning the conference tournament. The Eagles could even concievably move up to a 15-seed if they win out.

Mountain West
Nevada 12-4/23-6
Colorado St. 12-4/20-9
Boise St. 11-5/18-9
Fresno St. 9-7/17-11

Every week, we see a different team looking like the best in this league, but what the last few weeks have really told us is there is no really great MWC team this year like San Diego State and New Mexico have been in recent years. Then again, the top four this year are not chopped liver, and even though this figures to be a one-bid league in 2017, don’t automatically select this league’s representative to fall in their first NCAA Tournament game. Nevada has a very good offense. Colorado State has a very good defense. Boise State and Fresno State have better than average offenses and defenses. And, then there is always the possibility that one of the two recent teams that have controlled this league (San Diego St. and New Mexico) could get hot and take the conference tournament crown.


Northeast Conference Tournament–All Games at Higher Seed
Quarterfinal Round, Wednesday, March 1
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 1 Mount St. Mary’s 16-15 vs. 8 Sacred Heart 13-18 7:00 PM NEC Frontrow
2 2 Long Island 20-11 vs. 7 Robert Morris 13-18 9:00 PM MSG+/FCS
3 3 Wagner 15-13 vs. 6 Fairleigh-Dickinson 11-18 7:00 PM MSG+/FCS
4 4 St. Francis (PA) 14-15 vs. 5 Bryant 12-19 7:00 PM NEC Frontrow

Semifinal Round, Saturday, March 4

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed 12 or 2 PM MSG/FCS
6 2nd Highest Remaining Seed vs. 2nd Lowest Remaining Seed 12 or 2 PM MSG/FCS

Championship Game, Tuesday, March 7

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 5 winner Game 6 winner 11:00 AM ESPN2
* This Tournament Re-seeds after the quarterfinals like the NFL Playoffs

In the last four years, four different teams have won the NEC regular season championship, and four different teams have won the conference tournament. In the four cases, the regular season champion did not win the conference tournament. The last team to win both the regular season and conference tournament was Long Island five years ago. Mount St. Mary’s won the regular season title, but LIU looks like the team to beat once again, as the Blackbirds enter tourney play riding a six-game winning streak that includes a victory at MSM.

Ohio Valley

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Nashville
1st Round, Wednesday, March 1
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 5 Southeast Missouri 14-17 vs. 8 Tennessee St. 17-12 7:30 PM OVC Digital
2 6 Tennessee Tech 12-19 vs. 7 Murray St. 14-16 9:30 PM OVC Digital

Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 2

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 4 Jacksonville St. 17-14 Game 1 winner 7:30 PM OVC Digital
4 3 Morehead St. 14-15 Game 2 winner 9:30 PM OVC Digital

Semifinal Round, Friday, March 3

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 1 Belmont 22-5 Game 3 winner 7:30 PM ESPNU
6 2 UT-Martin 20-11 Game 4 winner 10:00 PM ESPNU

Championship Game, Saturday, March 4

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 5 winner Game 6 winner 8:00 PM ESPN2

Belmont has been in the NCAA Tournament seven times in the last 11 years, and if the Bruins do not make it eight out of 12 this year, it will be a major shock. Last year, Austin Peay came from the lowest seed to upset the field, and if you are looking for a team to repeat that, keep an eye on Tennessee State.


Patriot League Tournament–All Games at Higher Seed
1st Round, Tuesday, February 28
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 7 Loyola (MD.) 14-15 vs. 10 Lafayette 9-20 7:30 PM Patriot Lg Net
2 8 Army 12-18 vs. 9 American 8-21 7:00 PM Patriot Lg Net

Quarterfinal Round, Thursday, March 2

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 2 Boston U 23-8 vs. Game 1 winner 7:00 PM Patriot Lg Net
4 3 Lehigh 19-12 vs. 6 Colgate 10-21 7:00 PM Patriot Lg Net
5 1 Bucknell 23-6 vs. Game 2 winner 7:00 PM Patriot Lg Net
6 4 Navy 18-13 vs. 5 Holy Cross 15-16 7:00 PM Patriot Lg Net

Semifinal Round, Sunday, March 5

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner 12 or 2 PM CBSSN
8 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 12 or 2 PM CBSSN

Championship Game, Wednesday, March 8

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner 7:30 PM CBSSN

Bucknell is tough to beat at home, and the Bison will get home court advantage throughout the tournament, but Lehigh swept the Bison during the regular season. The Explorers were swept by Boston U, and they will most likely have to win in Boston to get to Bucknell. Boston was swept by Bucknell, so the top three were like Rock, Paper, Scissors. Might another team be in the mix? It would be a very long shot, because the top three ended the season looking double-digit points better than the rest of the league.

East Tennessee 14-3/24-6
Furman 14-4/21-10
UNC-Greensboro 13-4/22-8
Chattanooga 10-7/19-10

The two hot teams meet tonight to decide the regular season champion, with ETSU visiting UNCG. Both teams enter with six-game winning streaks, and both teams have been playing defense like champions. The loser of this game will probably get a chance for revenge when the outcome is much more important.

New Orleans 12-4/17-10
Texas A&M-CC 11-5/18-9
Stephen F. Austin 11-5/16-12
Houston Baptist 10-6/15-12

This is a weak year in the SLC, and the eventural league representative in the NCAA has a high probability of heading to Dayton as a 16-seed in a first four game. The two hot teams as conference play comes to the end are Texas A&M-CC with a nine-game winning streak and Houston Baptist with a seven-game winning streak. TAMCC coach Willis Wilson came close to getting into the Dance many times with Rice, and he has slowly built the Islanders into a contender. It would be touching if Wilson finally made it to the NCAA Tournament in his 22nd season as a Division I head coach.

Southwestern Athletic
Texas Southern 13-2/17-11
Southern 10-6/14-15
Grambling 8-7/13-15

Unfortunately for this league, the hottest team is the one ineligible to go to the NCAA Tournament (Alcorn State). Texas Southern will be the heavy favorite, but even if the Tigers win the tournament, they will almost assuredly have to play in the First Four in Dayton.


Summit League Tournament–Sioux Falls, SD
Quarterfinal Round–Day 1, Saturday, March 4
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 1 South Dakota 21-10 8 Western Illinois 8-19 7:00 PM ESPN3
2 2 North Dakota St. 19-10 7 IUPUI 13-17 9:30 PM ESPN3

Quarterfinal Round–Day 2, Sunday, March 5

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 4 South Dakota St. 15-16 5 Denver 16-13 7:00 PM ESPN3
4 3 Omaha 16-13 6 Fort Wayne 19-11 9:30 PM ESPN3

Semifinal Round–Monday, March 6

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
5 Game 1 winner Game 3 winner 7:00 PM ESPN3
6 Game 2 winner Game 4 winner 9:30 PM ESPN3

Championship–Tuesday, March 7

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 5 winner Game 6 winner 9:00 PM ESPN2

This should be a rather interesting tournament. 4-seed South Dakota State and 6-seed Fort Wayne cannot be overlooked, but the top three seeds are clearly the co-favorites. Omaha and Fort Wayne can light up the scoreboard, and their quarterfinal game could see one or both teams top the century mark.

Sun Belt
UT-Arlington 12-3/22-6
Georgia St. 11-5/18-10
Georgia Southern 11-5/18-11
Arkansas St. 10-5/18-9

UT-Arlington has the lone signature win in this league this year (beat St. Mary’s), and the Mavericks could be this year’s version of UALR. The top four in this league could play each other 10 times, and the final records might range from just 17-13 to 13-17, so UTA cannot automatically waltz through to the NCAA Tournament.

Western Athletic
Cal St. Bakersfield 12-1/21-7
New Mexico St. 10-3/24-5

One of these two teams should win the conference tournament, mostly because the only other quality team (Grand Canyon) is still a year away from becoming a full-fledge Division I member. CSUB has won 10 games in a row by an average of 11.5 points per game, which includes a win over New Mexico St.


In: SMU, Cincinnati
Bubble: Houston

Atlantic 10
In: Dayton, VCU
Bubble: Rhode Island

Atlantic Coast
In: North Carolina, Florida St., Louisville, Notre Dame, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia
Bubble: Syracuse, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech

Big 12
In: Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa St., Oklahoma St.
Bubble: Kansas St., TCU, Texas Tech

Big East
In: Villanova, Butler, Creighton
Bubble: Seton Hall, Providence, Xavier, Marquette

Big Ten
In: Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan St., Northwestern, Michigan
Bubble: Iowa

Missouri Valley

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament (Arch Madness) at St. Louis
1st Round, Thursday, March 2
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 Evansville 15-16 vs. 9 Indiana St. 11-19 7:00 PM MVC TV
2 7 Bradley 12-19 vs. 10 Drake 7-23 9:30 PM MVC TV

Quarterfinal Round, Friday, March 3

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 1 Illinois St. 25-5 vs. Game 1 winner 1:00 PM MVC TV
4 4 Southern Illinois 16-15 vs. 5 Loyola (Chi.) 18-13 3:30 PM MVC TV
5 2 Wichita St. 27-4 vs. Game 2 winner 7:00 PM MVC TV
6 3 Northern Iowa 14-15 vs. 6 Missouri St. 16-15 9:30 PM MVC TV

Semifinal Round, Saturday, March 4

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner 3:30 PM CBSSN
8 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 6:00 PM CBSSN

Championship Game, Sunday, March 5

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner 2:00 PM CBS

In: Wichita St.
Bubble: Illinois St.

In: Oregon, Arizona, UCLA
Bubble: California, Utah, USC

In: Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina
Bubble: Vanderbilt, Georgia

West Coast

West Coast Conference Tournament at Las Vegas
1st Round, Friday, March 3
Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 8 Pepperdine 9-21 vs. 9 Pacific 10-21 BYUtv 9:00 PM
2 7 San Diego 13-17 vs. 10 Portland 10-21 BYUtv 11:00 PM

Quarterfinal Round, Saturday, March 4

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
3 3 BYU 21-10 vs. 6 Loyola Marymount 15-14 4:00 PM BYUtv
4 4 Santa Clara 16-15 vs. 5 San Francisco 20-11 6:00 PM BYUtv
5 1 Gonzaga 29-1 vs. Game 1 winner 10:00 PM ESPN2
6 2 Saint Mary’s 26-3 vs. Game 2 winner 12:00 AM ESPN2

Semifinal Round, Monday, March 6

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
7 Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner 9 or 11:30 ESPN/ESPN2
8 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner 9 or 11:30 ESPN/ESPN2

Championship Game, Tuesday, March 7

Gm # Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
9 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner 9:00 PM ESPN

In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s
Bubble: None

The PiRate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Composite For February 27, 2017
1. North Carolina, Kansas, Villanova, Oregon
2. Gonzaga, Louisville, Kentucky, Baylor
3. Arizona, UCLA, Butler, Florida St.
4. West Virginia, SMU, Purdue, Florida
5. Duke, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Creighton
6. Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma St.
7. Saint Mary’s, Miami, Maryland, Iowa St.
8. South Carolina, Dayton, Michigan St., Virginia Tech
9. Michigan, Wichita St., Arkansas, VCU
10. Middle Tennessee, Northwestern, Seton Hall, Syracuse
11. Providence, Seton Hall, Xavier, California, Marquette
12. UNC-Wilmington, Nevada, UT-Arlington, Illinois St., Wake Forest
13. Vermont, Monmouth, Bucknell, East Tennessee
14. Western Michigan, Belmont, Princeton, UNC-Asheville
15. Oakland, Cal St. Bakersfield, Florida Gulf Coast, South Dakota
16. Eastern Washington, UNC-Central, Texas Southern, UC-Davis, Long Island, Texas A&M-CC

Last Four Byes: Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence, Syracuse
Last Four In/Dayton Bound: Wake Forest vs. Illinois St. / Marquette vs. California
First Four Out/#1 NIT Seeds: Vanderbilt, Rhode Island, Kansas St., TCU
Next Four Out: Georgia Tech, Houston, Texas Tech, Georgia

February 24, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For February 25-26, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:23 am

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Red-White-Blue Spreads *

Games Scheduled for: Saturday, February 25, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Clemson Florida St. -3 -1 -3
Pittsburgh North Carolina -10 -9 -6
North Carolina St. Virginia -8 -9 -9
Boston College Virginia Tech -6 -5 -2
Miami Duke -1 -1 -1
Connecticut SMU -6 -6 -4
TCU West Virginia -7 -7 1
Oklahoma St. Texas Tech 10 6 8
Iowa St. Baylor 3 2 -4
Texas Kansas -7 -6 -5
Oklahoma Kansas St. -1 -1 -2
St. John’s Georgetown 1 -1 -4
DePaul Seton Hall -5 -5 -7
Villanova Creighton 8 10 8
Providence Marquette 2 2 9
Minnesota Penn St. 10 9 11
Michigan Purdue -2 -1 -2
Maryland Iowa 7 8 9
Indiana Northwestern 3 6 8
Missouri St. Wichita St. -12 -9 -10
Northern Iowa Illinois St. -5 -3 -5
Stanford Oregon -7 -10 -8
Arizona UCLA 2 2 7
Arizona St. USC -3 -4 -4
Washington St. Washington 2 1 1
South Carolina Tennessee 6 5 4
Kentucky Florida 5 3 3
Ole Miss Missouri 11 10 10
Vanderbilt Mississippi St. 7 7 10
Georgia LSU 14 12 13
Texas A&M Alabama 4 3 6
Auburn Arkansas 1 1 -1
Gonzaga BYU 23 19 19
Saint Mary’s Santa Clara 17 18 19


Games Scheduled for: Sunday, February 26, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Louisville Syracuse 14 12 15
Notre Dame Georgia Tech 12 14 10
Central Florida Cincinnati -4 -5 -2
Xavier Butler 1 1 2
Michigan St. Wisconsin -1 -1 6
Nebraska Illinois 2 1 1

* Red, White, and Blue Ratings are 3 different algorithmic formulas using basketball’s Four Factors, Strength of Schedule, and where the game is played as the predominant data to come up with a game spread.  The Red and White Ratings closely mirror each other, while the Blue Rating uses considerably more data and is time-consuming to calculate.  Thus, we are limited with the amount of games we can predict.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25

  1. Gonzaga
  2. North Carolina
  3. Kansas
  4. Villanova
  5. Florida
  6. Kentucky
  7. Louisville
  8. West Virginia
  9. Wichita St.
  10. Oregon
  11. Duke
  12. Purdue
  13. UCLA
  14. Saint Mary’s
  15. Baylor
  16. Cincinnati
  17. Florida St.
  18. Wisconsin
  19. SMU
  20. Arizona
  21. Notre Dame
  22. Creighton
  23. Virginia
  24. Butler
  25. Oklahoma St.


  1. North Carolina
  2. Louisville
  3. Duke
  4. Florida St.
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Virginia
  7. Miami
  8. Syracuse
  9. Wake Forest
  10. Virginia Tech
  11. Clemson
  12. Pittsburgh
  13. Georgia Tech
  14. North Carolina St.
  15. Boston College

Big 12

  1. Kansas
  2. West Virginia
  3. Baylor
  4. Oklahoma St.
  5. Iowa St.
  6. Kansas St.
  7. TCU
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Texas
  10. Oklahoma

Big East

  1. Villanova
  2. Creighton
  3. Butler
  4. Xavier
  5. Marquette
  6. Providence
  7. Georgetown
  8. Seton Hall
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul

Big Ten

  1. Purdue
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Michigan
  4. Minnesota
  5. Maryland
  6. Northwestern
  7. Michigan St.
  8. Indiana
  9. Ohio St.
  10. Iowa
  11. Illinois
  12. Penn St.
  13. Nebraska
  14. Rutgers


  1. Oregon
  2. UCLA
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Colorado
  8. Stanford
  9. Arizona St.
  10. Washington
  11. Washington St.
  12. Oregon St.


  1. Florida
  2. Kentucky
  3. Arkansas
  4. South Carolina
  5. Vanderbilt
  6. Georgia
  7. Ole Miss
  8. Tennessee
  9. Alabama
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Auburn
  12. Mississippi St.
  13. Missouri
  14. LSU

Oh, have we got some great games for you this weekend

Every week, we seem to tell you there are some great games to watch for that weekend.  This one is no different.  There are more than enough interesting games this week for you to watch.  Most of the Bubble teams are playing, and we have the crucial ones you can see on TV or online.  Then, you have some big games where both teams will be in the NCAA no matter what, so these games are big just to see who looks the part.  You also have a couple of rival games, and in one case there is a low-major conference rivalry game that ended in a fight the last time the two teams played on the same court where they will play this weekend.  You will see that we have compared this game to the 1965 Giants and Dodgers, but at least no baseball bats will be present (at least we hope).

All Times Eastern      
Time Home Visitor TV Why to Watch
Friday Night
7:00 PM Green Bay Oakland ESPNU 2nd place in Horizon on the line
7:00 PM Monmouth Siena ESPN2 Monmouth G Justin Robinson
8:00 PM Harvard Yale ESPN3 These two rivals will meet in Ivy Semis too
Time Home Visitor TV Why to Watch
12:00 PM Clemson Florida St. ACC Net. Must win for CU on the Bubble
12:00 PM Connecticut SMU CBS SMU vying for #3 Seed
1:00 PM New Hampshire Md.-Baltimore Co. ESPN3 AmEst #3 Seed to avoid Verm. til finals
2:00 PM Kentucky Florida CBS SEC Reg. Season Championhip on the line
2:00 PM TCU West Virginia ESPN TCU needs win for Bubble Advancement
2:00 PM Oklahoma St. Texas Tech ESPNU TTU needs win for Bubble Advancement
2:00 PM Northern Iowa Illinois St. CBSSN ISU trying to stay on good part of Bubble
2:00 PM Rhode Island VCU ESPN2 URI needs win stay at bottom of Bubble
2:00 PM Vermont Stony Brook ESPN3 Top 2 teams in AmEst–Title preview?
3:00 PM Villanova Creighton Fox Top 20 Matchup
4:00 PM Vanderbilt Mississippi St. ESPNU VU needs win to stay on Bubble
4:00 PM Michigan Purdue ESPN2 Mich. trying to stay on good part of Bubble
4:00 PM Miami (Fla.) Duke CBS Miami can clinch NCAA w/win
4:00 PM Stanford Oregon Pac-12 Net. Ducks competing for #2 Seed
4:00 PM Iowa St. Baylor ESPN Baylor competing for #2 Seed
4:00 PM Providence Marquette CBSSN Both teams on Bubble–Marq in better pos.
6:00 PM Oklahoma Kansas St. ESPNU KSU must win to stay in Bubble
7:00 PM Columbia Penn ESPN3 Last Ivy League Tournament spot on line
8:00 PM Indiana Northwestern Big 10 Net. IU loss could be final straw for Crean
8:15 PM Arizona UCLA ESPN Game of the Day
10:00 PM Gonzaga BYU ESPN2 Zags Last resume builder until WCCT
Time Home Visitor TV Why to Watch
1:00 PM UAB Middle Tennessee CBSSN MTSU slim chance for at-large if needed
2:00 PM Louisville Syracuse CBS Orange win secures NCAA bid
3:00 PM Central Florida Cincinnati CBSSN Will Tacko make Cinti Fall
3:30 PM Xavier Butler FS1 Game of the Day
4:00 PM Michigan St. Wisconsin CBS MSU win & on the “in” part of the Bubble
4:00 PM Iona Monmouth ESPN3 Mad Rivalry like 1965 Dodgers-Giants
6:30 PM Notre Dame Georgia Tech ESPNU Tech needs more W’s for NCAA bid

Conference Tournaments Begin Monday

One conference tournament commences play Monday night.  The Atlantic Sun Bracket is finalized, and the quarterfinal round begins on the 27th.  The A-Sun does not have one hosting site.  All games will be played on the home floor of the higher seed, and Florida Gulf Coast owns home court advantage throughout.

Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament–Higher Seed at Home
Quarterfinal Round, Monday, February 27
Seed Team W-L vs. Seed Team W-L Time TV
1 Florida Gulf Coast 23-7 vs. 8 Stetson 11-20 7:00 PM WatchESPN
2 Lipscomb 19-12 vs. 7 NJIT 11-19 8:00 PM WatchESPN
3 North Florida 13-18 vs. 6 Jacksonville 17-14 7:00 PM WatchESPN
4 USC-Upstate 17-14 vs. 5 Kennesaw St. 13-17 7:00 PM WatchESPN



February 20, 2017

The Pirate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Report For February 20, 2017

Championship Fortnight starts in just one week! Can you believe it? It has been a quick season this year, and depending on where you live, the weather outside might make you feel like Major League Baseball opening day starts in just one week. However, the Spring-like temperatures and rain that has produced the early return of daffodils, honeysuckle, redbud tree blooms and the budding out of oak, hickory, and ash trees, and which has given the lawn services an early bonanza with grass-cutting galore, might fool some of the people into believing Spring has arrived a month early, but most of the people know the cold hard facts. Those poor little plants are going to be in for a rude awakening when the yet to arrive cold spell blankets them with a late snow or a hard freeze. It might be 75 degrees today, but by the 12th of March, there is sure to be a surprise or two or ten to the vegetation.

Just like the weather, the fortnight of conference championships in men’s college basketball will produce its own surprises by March 12, Selection Sunday. That low-major conference team that today has a three-game lead over its nearest rival may find itself becoming the recipient of not an automatic NCAA bid, but an automatic NIT bid, when the fourth place team gets hot for three days. That mid-major team that underachieved and struggled to finish fourth in its conference may be ready to put it all together and win three games in three days to save the coach’s job.

What about that team from the big conference that will go 7-11 or 5-13 or even 2-14 in league play and then get on a roll while the top teams enjoy byes? It has happened before. Connecticut got hot at the right time a few years back and won five games in five days. For good measure, the Huskies then won six more to take the national title back to Storrs.

Many of you readers were not yet born in 1976, but it was quite an interesting season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC had just seven teams then, as South Carolina had left the league and Georgia Tech had not yet joined. Of the seven teams, four were ranked in the top 20–North Carolina, Maryland, North Carolina St., and Wake Forest. It was a lean year in Durham, as Duke was the last place team. The Blue Devils would return to prominence in two more years.
Second to last place Virginia won just four ACC games during the regular season, but nobody, not even the ranked ACC teams, beat them by more than eight points. Top-seeded North Carolina, who has stayed in the Top 5 for the entire season, only beat UVA by two in Chapel Hill and by three in Charlottesville.
When the seven teams convened in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament, Virginia was faced with the task of having to beat the #3 seed and #15 nationally North Carolina St. in the quarterfinals, then most likely the #2 seed and #9 nationally Maryland in the semifinals, and then most likely top seed and #4 nationally North Carolina in the Championship Game. If the Cavs lost at all, not only would they not be in the NCAA Tournament in what was then just a 32-team field, but they would not make the NIT either.
Up to this point, no team with a conference record under .500 had ever won the ACC Tournament, and only one team had ever won it with a .500 mark in league play. In almost every season since the ACC formed in 1952-53, either the first or second place team had won the conference tournament.
On the opening night of the tournament, Virginia came out hustling on defense and controlling the boards. North Carolina State could not get uncontested shots and turned the ball over against the tough pressure man-to-man defense the Cavs played. It was a huge upset, as Virginia cruised to a 12-point victory to move into the semifinals. The other top teams relished the fact that the Wolf Pack had been put out, as State had recently been the dominant team in the league.
In the semfinals, Maryland was a prohibitive favorite over the Cavaliers, even though the Terps had needed to fight and claw their way to a three-point and eight-point victory. But, the Terps had played a tough overtime game over last place Duke the night before, and they came out a bit sluggish. Virginia, playing with nothing to lose, took command in the second half and pulled away to a double digit lead before Maryland cut it to eight points at the buzzer. Now UVA had made it to the finals, expected to be fodder for North Carolina and their cavalcade of star players, seven of whom would become future NBA players, including the entire starting five: Phil Ford, Walter Davis, Mitch Kupchak, Tom Lagarde, and John Kuester.
Virginia had a pair of future NBA players in Wally Walker and Marc Iavaroni, and on this afternoon, the Cavaliers got support from a host of players destined to work in the real world when they graduated. Coach Terry Holland kept possessions at a minimum, and Virginia once again played exceptional team defense, as the Cavaliers completed the sweep of top three teams, beating Carolina by five points to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a record of 16-11.

Lightning almost struck twice for the Cavs. In 1977, they finished just 2-10 in ACC play and once again faced a road where they would have to beat three ranked teams to win the ACC Tournament. They came really close, knocking off #2 seed Wake Forest and #3 seed Clemson before falling late to #1 seed North Carolina in the Championship Round.

So, if your team won just four conference games or even two this season, there is still hope. It can happen.

By this time next week, the Atlantic Sun will be set to begin conference tournament play, with the Big South and Patriot League just one day away from commencing play. You do not have to go searching for the conference tournament schedules, as we will have it all here for you.

Today, we give you the schedules for every conference tournament, as well as the list of who is ineligible (due to transitioning to Division 1, low Academic Progress Rate, or Infractions), and the format each conference tournament will have. For instance, if you see a conference tournament format of “12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (The top 4 teams receive 1st round byes),” then you know that on the opening day of the tournament, seed 5 will play 12, 6 will play 11, 7 will play 10, and 8 will play 9. The winners of those four games will then join the 4 receiving byes to continue play in the quarterfinals.


Conference Site Dates Format
America East Higher Seeds March 1, 6, 11 UMass-Lowell Ineligible 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
American Athletic Hartford, CT March 9-12 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (Top 5 get 1st round byes)
Atlantic 10 Pittsburgh March 8-12 14 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-10 get 1st round byes)
Atlantic Coast Brooklyn March 7-11 15 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-9 get 1st round byes)
Atlantic Sun Higher Seeds Feb 27, March 2 & 5 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Big 12 Kansas City March 8-11 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Big East New York March 8-11 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Big Sky Reno March 7, 9-11 N. Colorado Ineligible 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 5 get 1st round byes)
Big South Campus Sites (1) Feb 28, March 2-3,5 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Big Ten Washington, D.C. March 8-12 14 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-10 get 1st round byes)
Big West Anaheim, CA March 9-11 CSU-Northridge & Hawaii are ineligible 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Colonial Athletic North Charleston, SC March 3-6 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Conference USA Birmingham March 8-11 Top 12 Qualify 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Horizon Detroit March 3-7 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Ivy Philadelphia March 11-12 Top 4 Qualify 4 to 2 to 1
Metro Atlantic Albany March 2-6 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 ((top 5 get 1st round byes)
Mid-American Cleveland (2) March 6, 9-11 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Mideastern Athletic Norfolk, VA March 6-11 Savannah St. Ineligible 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Missouri Valley St. Louis March 2-5 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Mountain West Las Vegas (@UNLV) March 8-11 11 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 ((top 5 get 1st round byes)
Northeast Higher Seeds March 1, 4, 7 Top 8 Qualify 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Ohio Valley Nashville March 1-4 Top 8 Qualify 8 to 6 to 4 to 2 to 1 (Top 2 seeds get double bye/#3 & 4 get byes)
Pac-12 Las Vegas March 8-11 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
Patriot Higher Seeds Feb 28, Mar 2, 5, 8 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Southeastern Nashville March 8-12 14 to 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get double byes/5-10 get 1st round byes)
Southern Asheville, NC March 3-6 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Katy, TX
March 8-11
Abilene Chr. and Incarnate Word Ineligible Top 8 Qualify 8 to 6 to 4 to 2 to 1 (Top 2 seeds get double byes, #3 & 4 get 1st round bye)
Southwestern Athl. Houston (3) March 7, 10-11 Alcorn St. Ineligible 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Summit Sioux Falls, SD March 4-7 Top 8 Qualify 8 to 4 to 2 to 1
Sun Belt New Orleans March 8, 10-12 12 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 4 get 1st round byes)
West Coast Las Vegas March 3-7 10 to 8 to 4 to 2 to 1 (top 6 get 1st round byes)
Western Athletic Las Vegas March 9-11 Grand Canyon Ineligible 7 to 4 to 2 to 1 (#1 seed gets bye to semifinals)
(1) Big South Tournament 1st round will be played at higher seeds. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played at #1 seed, and then the
championship game will be played on the home court of the higher seeded team
(2) The Mid-American 1st round will be played at higher seeds. The remaining 3 rounds will be played in Cleveland
(3) Southwestern Athletic Tournament 1st round will be played at higher seeds. Semifinals and Finals will be played in Houston


The Bracketology Gurus And Their Headaches
Our Gurus tell us this week that they are having a tough time with the Bubble. They tell us there is too much medicority this season, and that after the top 30 teams, there are about 120 others that differ by so little. You have teams with some nice talent but they have never put it all together. You have some teams like the 1976 Virginia team that have the potential to win, but they have lost a lot of close ones in conference play. Then, you had the committee putting out its list of top 16 teams last week, and it looked like they reverted to the old bracket-selection method where the RPI ratings mattered more than it should.

Our Conference Breakdown
It is our personal opinion that conference records should matter for something. If the 6th place team in one conference gets an at-large bid because they played a tough non-league schedule, while the 3rd place team in the same conference does not get a bid, this just seems foolish to us. The third place team played the same conference schedule as the 6th place team and finished three places ahead in the standings. For example, there are some bracketologists (not our gurus) that have Michigan seeded higher than Maryland due to having such a tough schedule. The Terps are 10-4 in the Big Ten, while Michigan is 7-7. And, Maryland won at Michigan! Worse, Michigan gets rewarded for playing a tougher Maryland than Maryland gets for playing a weaker Michigan. It is nonsense! Conference action should mean a lot more than it does, especially when you look at the power conferences. If a team finishes 3 games ahead of another team in one of these conferences, there should be no discussion about which team is better. The number three team in a power conference is always better than the number seven team, no matter what the RPI or any other rating says.

Now that our rant is over, let’s look at each conference.


American East
Vermont 14-0/24-5
Stony Brook 12-2/17-10
Albany 9-5/18-11
UMBC 8-6/17-10
New Hampshire 8-6/17-11

Vermont’s 16-game winning streak has not come without some bumps in the road. The Catamounts close out the regular season with home games against Albany and Stony Brook, and just one more win or one Stony Brook loss will give Vermont home court advantage for the tournament. The Catamounts have outscored their conference foes in Burlington by an average of 17.2 points per game, so it is going to be quite a challenge for another team to keep the Catamounts out of the Dance. At 29-5, Vermont could move up to as high as a 10-seed and probably not lower than a 13-seed.

Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast 11-2/22-7
Lipscomb 10-3/18-12
South Carolina Upstate 7-6/17-13
Kennesaw St. 7-6/13-16
North Florida 7-6/12-18

The A-Sun is another league where all conference tournament games are played on the home floor of the higher-seeded team. FGCU split with Lipscomb, but each team won on the other team’s home floor. Both the Eagles and Bisons have played well on the road this year, so home court advantage may not be all that pertinent if these two teams advance like they should.

Big Sky
North Dakota 12-3/17-8
Weber St. 11-3/16-9
Eastern Washington 10-4/18-9
Montana 9-6/14-14
Montana St. 9-6/14-14
Idaho 8-6/13-12

With 12 wins in their last 14, including a sweep of Weber State, North Dakota looks like a tough out, but the FIghting Hawks are not prohibitive favorites to grab the Big Sky Conference Tournament Title, just slight favorites. This league has some balance, and there are five or six rivals capable of beating UND. 10th place Northern Arizona at 4-10/7-20 beat North Dakota in Flagstaff after earlier in the season leading the Hawks in the second half in Grand Forks.

Big South
UNC-Asheville 14-2/22-7
Winthrop 13-3/21-6
Liberty 13-3/18-11
Gardner-Webb 9-7/16-13

This league may be just a small pond in the scheme of things, but there are a couple of potential piranhas swimming around in UNCA and Winthrop. If the top two teams meet in the championship game of the tournament, expect an exciting must-watch affair. They had to go to two overtimes when they played 11 days ago in Asheville, with UNCA winning 104-101.

Big West
UC Irvine 9-3/16-12
UC Davis 8-4/16-11
Long Beach St. 8-5/13-16
Cal St. Fullerton 7-5/13-12

UC-Irvine has not secured the top seed just yet, as the Anteaters close with three losable games in their last four. Long Beach and Fullerton are two teams of notice, as they have the talent to win the conference tournament and appear to be starting to gel at the right time.

Colonial Athletic
UNC Wilmington 13-3/24-5
College of Charleston 12-4/21-8
Towson St. 11-5/19-10
Elon 9-7/17-12
William & Mary 9-7/15-12

A month ago, it was a foregone conclusion that UNCW would waltz back to the NCAA Tournament, but the Seahawks hit a spell where they looked very vulnerable. They lost to three of the top contenders in William & Mary, Charleston, and Elon, and the William & Mary defeat was by 18 points. UNCW faces Towson State in Wilmington Thursday night, and a win will most likely secure the top-seed, but this conference tournament has become an interesting one to watch, as the Seahawks do not look like a sure thing now. Another thing that could distract UNCW is the fact that Coach Kevin Keatts is considered a strong candidate in the North Carolina State opening. That won’t be the only school that shows an interest in the former Louisville assistant with a proven record in recruiting.

Conference USA
Middle Tennessee 14-1/24-4
Louisiana Tech 12-3/20-8
Old Dominion 9-5/16-10
UTEP 9-5/11-15
Rice 8-6/18-9
Marshall 8-6/15-12

After a 14-1 run in their last 15 games, and with wins at Ole Miss and Belmont as well as a neutral site win in Nashville over UNC-Wilmington and a slaughter at home over Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee could almost be considered a legitimate at-large team should they fail to win the CUSA Tournament, but the Blue Raiders probably needed to add a road win over VCU, and they came up short. If they do win out to enter the Dance at 30-4, they could very well be the higher seed in their first tournament game. After losing by 10 at Middle, Louisiana Tech has quietly reeled off six consecutive wins to sew up second place in the league.

Valparaiso 12-3/22-6
Oakland 11-4/21-7
Wright St. 10-5/19-9
Green Bay 10-5/16-11
Northern Kentucky 9-6/18-10

Oakland swept Valpo, winning both games by double digits, and the Grizzlies now own a six-game winning streak after yesterday’s victory over UIC. Wright St. is the other hot team with a four game winning streak and an 8-2 record in their last 10. Green Bay can go on big scoring spurts, and if they are hot for three days, they can put the rest of the field away. It should be an interesting semifinals and finals in the Horizon.

Princeton 10-0/17-6
Harvard 8-2/16-7
Yale 6-4/14-9
Penn 4-6/11-12
Columbia 4-6/10-13
Cornell 3-7/7-18
Dartmouth 3-7/6-17
Brown 2-8/11-15

Why have we included all eight teams in this write-up? The inaugural Ivy League Tournament will be a four-team event. At the present time, Princeton and Harvard have wrapped up half the spots. Yale was almost safe until the Bulldogs stumbled against Princeton and Penn at home to fall out of race for the top. They are still a good bet to get to the Palestra. The fight for spot number four is up for grabs, and even last place Brown is still very much alive, since Columbia has taken a dive with four consecutive losses, while Penn has won four straight to pull into a tie for the fourth spot. This coming weekend is a big one, as Yale visits Harvard and Princeton visits Columbia Friday Night. Penn is on the road for games with Cornell and Columbia. Dartmouth gets two big home games, and by next Monday, a 3-7 team could be 5-7 with the number four spot in sight.

Metro Atlantic
Monmouth 15-2/23-5
Saint Peter’s 12-6/16-12
Iona 11-7/18-11
Siena 11-7/14-15
Canisius 10-8/17-12
Fairfield 9-8/14-12

With a 13-game winning streak, Monmouth has already clinched the regular season title for the second consecutive year. Last year, the Hawks looked like a team that could do a little damage in the NCAA Tournament. They beat UCLA USC, Notre Dame, and Georgetown on the way to a 25-6 regular season record, but Iona beat them in the MAAC Tournament Championship Game, and Monmouth had to settle for an NIT berth, where they lost to George Washington in the second round. This year, the biggest wins the Hawks own are over Memphis and Princeton. Monmouth might win the MAAC Tournament, but this does not look like a team capable of winning in the NCAA Tournament. And, there are five other teams in the MAAC that could send the Hawks back to the NIT.

Akron 12-2/22-5
Ohio 9-5/17-8
Buffalo 9-5/15-12
Kent St. 7-7/15-12

Ball St. 8-6/17-10
Toledo 7-7/14-13

Akron looked invincible in league play until recently, and now the Zips have dropped two games, including a home game against Kent St. that ended Akron’s 30-game winning streak. The team that beat Akron last year in the MAC Championship Game is the hot team in the league. Buffalo has won six games in a row and eight out of ten with both of the losses coming on the road by one point. The Bulls might be the team to beat at this moment. The West Division is all aflutter. At one point in the season, Eastern Michigan was number one and Western Michigan was in last place. Now, EMU is in last, and WMU is in second just a game behind Ball St.

Mideastern Athletic
UNC-Central 11-1/20-6
Norfolk St. 11-2/14-13
Hampton 8-4/11-14
Morgan St. 8-4/11-14

UNC-Central gives the MEAC a fighting chance to avoid a first-four game in Dayton if the Eagles win the MEAC Tournament. If UNCC gets there, they will be quite a headache for their opening game opponent, because Coach LeVelle Moton’s teams play defense like the players are magnetized to their opponents. Central almost always finishes among the national leaders in points allowed and defensive FG%, and this year is no different. Norfolk State has made the 2017 MEAC race a two-team runaway, but they did not challenge Central in their only meeting this year.

Mountain West
Nevada 10-4/21-6
Boise St. 10-4/17-8
Colorado St. 10-4/18-9
New Mexico 9-6/16-11
San Diego St. 8-6/16-10
Fresno St. 8-7/16-11
San Jose St. 7-7/14-11

This will be a very interesting conference tournament, and there will be all kinds of gossip going on backstage and at official events. Colorado State is currently in a three-way tie for first in the MWC, but they could be forced into making a head coaching change. Larry Eustachy, the former Iowa State head coach who lost his job to do fraternizing with college coeds, has seen his name splattered throughout the news for allegations that he berated and belittled players, calling them all sorts of names. He already had a zero-tolerance policy in place in Fort Collins, so it could be reason to terminate his contract just as he has a team on the cusp of taking the top seed in the conference tournament.

There’s more to this league than just the controversy. Boise State coach Leon Rice is beginning to draw notice from bigger conference teams. There are rumors he could be in the mix at North Carolina State, but there will be other openings in March, and the former Gonzaga assistant will get serious consideration, after making the Broncos a perennial contender in the MWC. Another coach that could draw consideration for a higher-profile job is Nevada’s Eric Musselman, who also has experience coaching the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in the NBA.

Then, there is the old man by the sea. San Diego State’s Steve Fisher has a national title and two other Final Fours in his past experience, and his Aztecs are starting to play like the defensive powerhouses in recent years that saw SDSU make it to the Elite 8. In their recent 14-point victory over Nevada, they held the Wolfpack under 30% shooting from the field.

Mount St. Mary’s 13-3/15-14
Long Island 11-5/18-11
Wagner 10-6/14-12
St Francis (PA) 9-7/12-15
Fairleigh Dickinson 9-7/11-16

Mount St. Mary’s is up two games with two games to play, but one of those two games comes against second place LIU, so the Mountaineers still have a little bit of work to do to wrap up home court advantage throughout the tournament (All NEC Tournament games are played on the home floor of the higher seeds. Wagner has won six of their last seven, including a four-point win over MSM. The Seahawks beat Connectictut earlier this year, and they only lost at MSM by a point.

Ohio Valley
Belmont 14-1/20-5
Jacksonville St. 9-5/17-12
Morehead St. 9-5/13-14
Tennessee St. 8-7/17-11
Tennessee Tech 7-7/11-18

UT Martin 8-6/18-11
Murray St. 8-6/14-14
SE Missouri St. 8-6/13-16

Only the top eight teams qualify for the tournament, and as of this morning, the eight teams we have shown above seem to have their berths secured. Belmont’s lone loss came at Tennessee Tech. The Bruins have been in the Dance seven times in the last 11 years, but they are 0-7 in those seven trips. Jacksonville St. has played better away from home than at home, so this could be a plus for the Gamecocks. They did lose at Belmont by 17 points.

Bucknell 13-3/21-8
Boston U. 11-5/16-12
Lehigh 10-6/16-11
Navy 10-6/15-13

Bucknell has impressive non-conference road wins against Vanderbilt and Richmond, but the Bison were swept by Lehigh. Although they will have home court advantage as long as they stay alive in the Patriot League Tournament, they are still vulnerable against teams that can dominate on the glass.

Furman 13-3/20-9
East Tennessee St. 12-3 /22-6
UNC-Greensboro 11-4/20-8
Chattanooga 10-5/19-8

It was a rude awakening as Furman’s 10-game winning streak ended with a 21-point home loss to UNCG Saturday. The Paladins must get over that one quickly, because they must travel to Johnson City to take on ETSU Wednesday night with first place up for grabs. Any of the top four could win this tournament, and the SoCon tends to come up with champions that were not the top seed.

New Orleans 11-3/16-9
Stephen F. Austin 10-4/15-11
Texas A&M-CC 9-5/16-9
Sam Houston St. 9-6/18-10
Houston Bapt. 8-6/13-12

Sam Houston had the lead in the SLC before losing four of their last five games. Meanwhile, the other contenders above have all enjoyed some nice winning streaks as the race heads into its final week. UNO and SFA have won four consecutive games. HBU has won five in a row, and TACC has a seven-game streak.

Southwestern Athletic
Texas Southern 11-2/15-11
Southern 9-5/13-14
Grambling 7-7/12-15
Jackson St. 7-7/11-16

The SWAC Champion is going to be in the First Four in Dayton unless multiple upset winners from other low-major conferences force them into the second round. The hottest team in the league is Alcorn State, as the Braves have a nine-game winning streak. Alas, they are ineligible for postseason play this season.

North Dakota St. 10-4/18-9
South Dakota 10-4/19-10
Denver 8-6/16-11
Fort Wayne 7-7/18-10
Omaha 7-7/14-13

South Dakota is peaking at the right time. The Coyotes look like the best team in the league in February, and the tournament will be played up the road in Sioux Falls, but USD will have a lot of competition in this competitive league.

Sun Belt
UT Arlington 10-3/20-6
Arkansas St. 10-4/19-8
Georgia Southern 10-4/17-10
Georgia St. 9-5/16-10
Texas St. 8-5/15-10

With a four-game winning streak and eight wins in the last nine outings, UTA has vaulted past its rivals into first place. The Mavericks have the signature win among the SBC teams this year, as they are the only team besides Gonzaga to have beaten Saint Mary’s. The last two conference tournament champions (UALR and Georgia State) went on to upset power conference teams in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Western Athletic
Cal St. Bakersfield 10-1/19-7
New Mexico St. 9-2/23-4
UM-Kansas City 7-4/15-13

In their current eight-game winning streak, CSUB has limited its opponents to just 59.3 points per game. Not only do the Roadrunners hold opponents to 38% shooting from the field, they win the battle of the boards and the turnover margin with consistency. It’s hard to beat a team when they only let you shoot one time per possession and keep you under 40% from the field. Bakersfield went on a 17-0 run to almost win at Arizona, and they led SMU in Dallas, before the Mustangs went on a run to win by six, so if the Roadrunners make the Dance, they will go down fighting, if they go down at all in their first game.


American Athletic
In: SMU 14-1/24-4, Cincinnati 13-1/24-3
Bubble: None

Houston’s chance to move into consideration fell when they could not pull off the upset of SMU.

Atlantic 10
In: Dayton 12-2/21-5, VCU 12-2/22-5
Bubble: Rhode Island 9-5/17-9

URI won at George Mason over the weekend, and the Rams have a big game against VCU on Saturday.

Atlantic Coast
In: North Carolina 11-3/23-5, Louisville 10-4/22-5, Duke 10-4/22-5, Notre Dame 10-5/21-7, Florida St. 9-5/21-6, Virginia 8-6/18-8
Bubble: Miami 8-6/18-8, Virginia Tech 7-7/18-8, Georgia Tech 7-7/16-11, Syracuse 8-7/16-12, Wake Forest 6-9/15-12, Pittsburgh 4-10/15-12

The ACC figures to send nine teams to the Dance, and at the moment Miami and Virginia Tech are in as Bubble teams, while Georgia Tech is right there on the cut-off line with a few others. Check the seeding below to see if the Gurus agree.
Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Pitt look like strong NIT candidates at this time. The ‘Cuse has a strenuous closing schedule that includes games with Duke and Louisville, and the Orangemen will have to upset one of the two to have a chance.

Big 12
In: Kansas 12-2/24-3, Baylor 9-5/22-5, West Virginia 9-5/21-6, Iowa St. 9-5/17-9
Bubble: Oklahoma St. 7-7/18-9, TCU 6-8/17-10, Kansas St. 6-8/17-10, Texas Tech 5-9/17-10

Oklahoma State started the year in conference play at 0-6, and now the Cowboys look like Sweet 16 material. Coach Brad Underwood should receive consideration for National Coach of the Year in his first season in Stillwater. With a mediocre Bubble to say the least, it figures that the Big 12 will be a conference that can send a team with a losing league record to the Tournament. Texas Tech had a golden opportunity to move onto the good side of the Bubble after upsetting Baylor, but the Red Raiders could not complete the deal at West Virginia, following previous one-point losses the week before to TCU and Kansas. TTU must finish 3-1 in the league and then win at least a game in the B12 Tournament.

Big East
In: Villanova 13-2/26-2, Butler 10-5/21-6, Creighton 9-5/22-5
Bubble: Xavier 8-6/18-9, Marquette 7-7/16-10, Seton Hall 6-8/16-10

Injuries have hit this conference hard. Xavier looked like a Final Four contender before injuries to their top two players weakened the Musketeers to the point where they may have to sneak into the field. One of those injuries, to top player Trevon Bluiett, is not season-ending, so when (if) he returns to 100% health, Xavier should recover somewhat.

Marquette is right there in the final tier of teams hovering on the last in line. Coach Steve Wojciechowski has become the top former Coach K assistant, and when he finally lands a couple of aircraft carriers that can attack the glass, Marquette is going to return to its glory it acheived under Al McGuire–if another school doesn’t steal him away (like Duke if Coach K retires).

Big Ten
In: Wisconsin 11-3/22-5, Purdue 11-3/22-5, Maryland 10-4/22-5, Northwestern 9-5/20-7, Minnesota 8-6/20-7
Bubble: Michigan St. 8-6/16-11, Michigan 7-7/17-10

The Selection Committee did not think much of this league last week, and we have to believe that their feelings go deeper than just the top of the conference. If Wisconsin and Purdue did not garner four-seeds, it stands to reason that the Michigan teams are not in as of now. We do not think Michigan State is going to make it now after losing Eron Harris to a season-ending knee injury that looked gruesome in the Spartans’ loss to Purdue. Michigan hurt their chances in their overtime loss to Minnesota, and the Wolverines are going to have to win a couple of road games (close with 3 of 4 on the road) to get back in the good graces of the Dance judges.

Missouri Valley
Wichita St. 15-1/25-4
Illinois St. 15-1/23-5
In: Whichever team wins Arch Madness
Bubble: Whichever team does not win Arch Madness

If you put the top teams not in the Power Conferences and put them in a super Mid-Major league (Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Wichita State, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee, Monmouth, UNC-Wilmington, Boise St., and others), the two Valley teams would finish in the upper half of the standings and probably beat Gonzaga on their home floors. Both the Shockers and Redbirds are good enough to advance to the second weekend of the tournament, and the only reason they both won’t be in the NCAA Tournament would be political. The Committee will not be able to explain excluding one of the MVC powers over a 12 or 13-loss team from a power league. It would be a lot easier if both teams won out until the Championship Game of the MVC Tournament.

In: Arizona 14-1/25-3, Oregon 13-2/24-4, UCLA 11-3/24-3
Bubble: California 9-5/18-8, USC 8-6/21-6, Utah 8-7/17-10

When you live east of the Mississippi River, you sometimes discount the teams on the West Coast because you don’t always see these teams play. However, the Buckaroos on the PiRate Ship have tuned in enough games to hear Bill Walton in our sleep. The “Conference of Champions” has three really good teams, but all three must take a back seat to that team up in the Inland Empire of Northeast Washington. UCLA just abused rival USC over the weekend. While the City of Angels flooded from the heavy rains, UCLA clouded up and rained all over the Trojans in a 102-70 pasting.

The Trojans were not the only team to take a beating and hurt their at-large chances. Cal travelled across the Bay and lost to rival Stanford, while Utah most likely received a lethal dagger in their upset loss to an Oregon State team that entered the game with a record of 0-14/4-23.

In: Florida 12-2/22-5, Kentucky 12-2/22-5, South Carolina 10-4/20-7, Arkansas 9-5/20-7
Bubble: Alabama 9-5/16-10, Tennessee 7-7/15-12

We removed a couple teams from the Bubble list, as Georgia and Auburn failed to pick up victories they had to have. Alabama is not on a lot of other folks’ bubble, but the Crimson Tide has a favorable schedule that could find them 12-5/19-10 before their regular season finale at Tennessee. If Alabama wins out and then makes it to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, we feel that the Selection Committee would have to give Avery Johnson’s club serious consideration for one of the final spots in the Dance, especially if there are no big upset champions in other power leagues. Half of their losses came to teams that will be in the Tournament (Dayton, Oregon, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas).

Tennessee is in a position where they most likely must win out to finish 11-7/19-12, and then the Vols will have to win at least one SEC Tournament game. This means that only one of the two Bubble teams from the SEC actually has a chance to make the Tournament.

West Coast
In: Gonzaga 16-0/28-0, Saint Mary’s 14-2/24-3
Bubble: None

Saint Mary’s wrapped up their at-large bid with an impressive weekend win at BYU. The only possible fly in the ointment would be if BYU, San Francisco, or Santa Clara played lights out and made a run to the WCC Tournament title, but at this point we think the San Diego Padres have a better chance of winning 110 games and then sweeping through to the World Series title than any team other than Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s has of winning the WCC Tournament.

The Bracketology Gurus Seeding For February 20, 2017
1. Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, North Carolina
2. Baylor, Arizona, Oregon, Louisville
3. Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Florida St.
4. UCLA, West Virginia, Butler, Purdue
5. Virginia, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Wisconsin
6. Creighton, SMU, Saint Mary’s, Maryland
7. Minnesota, South Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma St.
8. Dayton, VCU, Xavier, USC
9. Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Iowa St., Arkansas
10. Wichita St., Michigan, Michigan St., Kansas St.
11. Middle Tennessee, Marquette, California, Seton Hall, Syracuse
12. Illinois St., TCU, Boise St., UNC-Wilmington, UT-Arlington
13. Vermont, Monmouth, Florida Gulf Coast, Oakland
14. Belmont, UNC-Asheville, Princeton, Akron
15. Bucknell, Cal St. Bakersfield, South Dakota, East Tennessee St.
16. UC-Irvine, North Dakota, UNC-Central, Stephen F. Austin, Texas Southern, Mount St. Mary’s

First Four in Dayton
11: Seton Hall vs. Syracuse
12: TCU vs. Illinois St.
16: North Dakota vs. Mount St. Mary’s
16: Stephen F. Austin vs. Texas Southern

Last Four Byes
California, Marquette, Kansas St., Michigan St.

First Four Out
Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, Rhode Island

Next Four Out
Providence, Alabama, Clemson, Tennessee

Note: Georgia Tech, TCU, Syracuse, Seton Hall, and Illinois St. all finished within two points of each other in our Guru tabulation. We would call this a very close Bubble. Texas Tech and Wake Forest are only four and five points back. Now, you see why our baker’s dozen of Gurus have headaches. Maybe, the fact that all the flowers are blooming and the trees are budding as the temperature challenges 80 degrees has something to do with it as well, since the Guru that just texted said he has a runny nose, watery eyes, and needs a new box of tissues.

February 17, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Preview For February 18-19, 2017


Games Scheduled for: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Miami (Fla.) Clemson 3 5 5
North Carolina St. Notre Dame -7 -5 -4
Duke Wake Forest 9 11 10
Louisville Virginia Tech 14 14 15
Pittsburgh Florida St. -1 -5 -4
North Carolina Virginia 6 4 2
Cincinnati Tulsa 16 17 14
Houston SMU -1 1 -1
Baylor Kansas 2 2 7
Texas Kansas St. -1 1 2
West Virginia Texas Tech 14 12 9
Iowa St. TCU 8 8 4
Oklahoma St. Oklahoma 14 11 13
Seton Hall Villanova -7 -8 -5
Marquette Xavier 3 3 -1
Iowa Illinois 6 3 1
Purdue Michigan St. 13 13 8
Northwestern Rutgers 13 11 9
Ohio St. Nebraska 6 7 5
Wichita St. Northern Iowa 20 17 18
Oregon Colorado 12 15 18
Washington St. Arizona St. -2 -1 3
Washington Arizona -10 -10 -9
UCLA USC 12 12 9
Tennessee Missouri 14 12 15
Mississippi St. Florida -12 -11 -10
Alabama LSU 12 12 10
Texas A&M Auburn 4 4 8
Arkansas Ole Miss 7 7 5
Georgia Kentucky -7 -7 -4
Vanderbilt South Carolina -2 1 2
Gonzaga Pacific 34 27 29
BYU Saint Mary’s -3 -5 -5


Games Scheduled for: Sunday, February 19, 2017
Home Visitor Red White Blue
Georgia Tech Syracuse 1 -3 2
Butler DePaul 19 18 21
Creighton Georgetown 9 8 5
Wisconsin Maryland 7 8 4
Minnesota Michigan 4 1 6
Illinois St. Loyola (Chi.) 10 8 8
Oregon St. Utah -13 -10 -11

PiRate Ratings Top 25

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Villanova
  3. Kansas
  4. West Virginia
  5. Louisville
  6. North Carolina
  7. Florida
  8. Kentucky
  9. Virginia
  10. Duke
  11. Purdue
  12. Florida St.
  13. Baylor
  14. UCLA
  15. Wichita St.
  16. Oregon
  17. Saint Mary’s
  18. SMU
  19. Arizona
  20. Creighton
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Oklahoma St.
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Butler
  25. Notre Dame



  1. Louisville
  2. North Carolina
  3. Virginia
  4. Duke
  5. Florida St.
  6. Notre Dame
  7. Wake Forest
  8. Miami (Fla.)
  9. Clemson
  10. Syracuse
  11. Virginia Tech
  12. Georgia Tech
  13. Pittsburgh
  14. North Carolina St.
  15. Boston College

Big 12

  1. Kansas
  2. West Virginia
  3. Baylor
  4. Oklahoma St.
  5. Iowa St.
  6. TCU
  7. Kansas St.
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Texas

Big East

  1. Villanova
  2. Creighton
  3. Butler
  4. Marquette
  5. Xavier
  6. Seton Hall
  7. Providence
  8. Georgetown
  9. St. John’s
  10. DePaul

Big Ten

  1. Purdue
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Maryland
  4. Northwestern
  5. Minnesota
  6. Michigan
  7. Indiana
  8. Michigan St.
  9. Iowa
  10. Ohio St.
  11. Illinois
  12. Penn St.
  13. Nebraska
  14. Rutgers


  1. UCLA
  2. Oregon
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. Utah
  6. USC
  7. Colorado
  8. Stanford
  9. Washington
  10. Arizona St.
  11. Washington St.
  12. Oregon St.


  1. Florida
  2. Kentucky
  3. South Carolina
  4. Arkansas
  5. Tennessee
  6. Georgia
  7. Alabama
  8. Ole Miss
  9. Vanderbilt
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Auburn
  12. Mississippi St.
  13. Missouri
  14. LSU

Friday Night Games You Might Want To Watch

Don’t wait until Saturday to start following basketball games, because there are some interesting Friday night games this week.

Starting at 7 PM EST tonight, tune into ESPN2 to see Valparaiso visit Oakland in a battle of the top two teams in the Horizon League.  Alec Peters may be the best Mid-Major player you have not seen.  Peters averages 23.1 points per game and 10.7 rebounds a game for Valpo, and he is an excellent passer similar to Bill Walton in his UCLA days.

Earlier in the season, Oakland won by 12 at Valpo, never allowing the Crusaders to take a lead in the entire game.  Oakland guard Martez Walker put the game away in the opening minutes of the second half with a salvo of baskets while also being a force on the glass.


There are two important Ivy League games tonight.  Columbia visits Harvard in a game the Lions need to show they belong with the top three in the league.  Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are locks to make the four-team Ivy League Tournament, but Columbia still has work to do and has a weekend road set with Harvard and Dartmouth after losing at Penn and Princeton last weekend.  This game will be on ESPN3 at 7 PM EST.  Two more losses this weekend, and Columbia could be tied for fourth rather in fourth by two games over the lower division.

At 8 PM EST on ESPN3, Princeton visits Yale.  If the Tigers can get by the Bulldogs tonight, their chance of wrapping up the top seed in the Ivy League’s first ever tournament will be about 98%, since they already won at Harvard.  PU is riding an 11-game winning streak.


At 9 PM EST on ESPN2, Virginia Commonwealth visits Richmond in a big Atlantic 10 game.  VCU is in first place in the league, but the Rams need a resume boost to guarantee a possible at-large bid if they do not earn the automatic invitation.  Richmond has no signature wins, and the Spiders will have to run the table in the A-10 Tournament to get back to the Dance.


At 10 PM EST, California travels west across the Bay to take on Stanford at Maples Pavilion in a game that could move the Bears into safe at-large territory if they can take down their rival.  This game will air on FS1.  Coach Cuonzo Martin’s teams tend to become tougher defensively and gel as a team in the second half of the year, and this Bear team is 8-2 in its last 10 games with the two losses coming at Oregon and at Arizona.  Three weeks ago in Berkeley, 6-11 Ivan Rabb was unstoppable, hitting a couple of threes from the top of the key and getting some in-your-face baskets at the rim, as his 25 points destroyed the Cardinal.


Saturday’s Best Games

Kansas at Baylor 1 PM EST on CBS

Kentucky at Georgia 6 PM EST on ESPN

TCU at Iowa St. 6 PM EST on ESPNEWS

SMU at Houston 6 PM EST on ESPN2

Xavier at Marquette 8 PM EST on CBSSN

Virginia at North Carolina 8:15 PM EST on ESPN

USC at UCLA 10 PM EST on Pac-12 Network

Saint Mary’s at BYU 10 PM EST on ESPN2


Gonzaga 2017 vs. Wichita State 2014

Current undefeated and top-ranked Gonzaga reminds many fans of the 2014 Wichita State team that ran the table and earned the regular season number one ranking prior to entering NCAA Tournament action as the top seed.  That Shocker team beat only one top team that season, winning at Tennessee.  The Vols would go on to make the Sweet 16, before falling to Michigan by a bucket.

This year’s Gonzaga team has a slightly better schedule resume.  The Bulldogs own neutral court victories of Florida, Iowa State, and Arizona in an 8-day period just after Thanksgiving.  The Zags also swept top 20 Saint Mary’s by 23 and 10 points.

Let’s take a look at the Four Factors comparison between the two teams.

Effective Field Goal Percentage

Gonzaga has the clear advantage here.  The Bulldogs current EFG% is 58.1%.  Their regular FG% is 51.6%, and they are hitting 39% of their three-point attempts.  Defensively, GU gives up an EFG% of just 41.7%, for an EFG% margin of 16.4%, the best in the nation.

In 2014, Wichita State was quite good in this factor, but they were not as good as GU this year.  The Shockers’ EFG% was 52.6%, as there were games where they could not hit from outside 10 feet until the last 5-8 minutes of the second half.  Their defensive EFG% was very good at 44.6% for an EFG% margin of 8.0%.  It was not in the top 10 in the nation that year.


Turnover Rate

This factor is a wash between the two undefeated teams.  Gonzaga has a current TO rate of 13.8 and a defensive TO rate of 16.1 for a margin of 2.3%

Wichita State had a TO rate of 13.6 and a defensive TO rate of 16.3 for a margin of 2.7%.


Rebound Rate

This is where Wichita State had a major advantage.  The Shockers had an Offensive Rebound Rate of 35.0, which was very good, while their Defensive Rebound Rate was an excellent 26.0 for a Rebound Rate margin of 9.0%.  The Shockers did not have a dominant rebounder, but their three guards rebounded like power forwards.


Gonzaga has an Offensive Rebound Rate of 31.1 and a Defensive Rebound Rate of 27.0 for a Rebound Rate margin of 4.1.  The Bulldogs have won the battle of the boards in a large majority of their games thanks to the two-headed seven-foot dominators combining for 11 boards a game.  While the Bulldogs are quite good in this factor, Wichita State was dominant.


Free Throw Rate

This is the least important of the Four Factors, but it is still important just by being one of the four factors.  Gonzaga has one of the best FT Rate margins in the nation this year, and the reason is that opponents are forced to foul Gonzaga’s big dominating centers inside to prevent easy baskets.

GU’s offensive FT Rate is 22.9, and their defensive FT Rate is 15.3 for a FT Rate margin of 7.6%.  As good as this number is, 2014 Wichita State had one of the best FT Rates of all time.  Their Offensive FT Rate was 28.4, while their Defensive FT Rate was 18.8 for a FT Rate margin of 9.6%!


Other Factors

These factors were made under slightly different strengths of schedule.  Gonzaga’s current SOS averages about 2 points per game better than Wichita’s SOS from 2014.  This even includes Wichita’s game against Kentucky, which put an end to the undefeated season in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

The PiRate R+T ratings for both teams is a wash.  Gonzaga’s current R+T is 20.4, while Wichita State’s was 21.2.  Both teams received ample extra scoring opportunities due to superior rebounding and turnovers (with an emphasis on steals).

There is virtually no difference in quality depth, as both teams could go two deep at every position.


Wichita State’s Season Ended

The Shockers won their first NCAA Tournament game by 27 points over 16-seed Cal Poly.  Then they fell by 2 to Kentucky in the next round.  Kentucky won because Wichita State lacked the overall quickness to prevent numerous open shots by the Wildcats on both the perimeter and through penetration.  John Calipari adjusted well at halftime when Wichita State enjoyed a 6-point lead, and a 10-0 UK run in a three-minute stretch at the start of the second half gave Kentucky the lead.  Trailing by two with seven seconds left, Wichita State had a chance to tie or win the game, but Fred Van Vleet’s contested three-pointer from 21 feet out bricked off the backboard.


Gonzaga’s Vulnerability

It is difficult for some to understand that an undefeated team with a scoring margin of 23.8 points per game could really be vulnerable, but even the 1972 UCLA Bruins had a few liabilities.  Gonzaga is not unbeatable, as all college teams (even the UConn women’s team) can be defeated, even if it is not that likely.

A good pressure defense team can disrupt the Bulldogs enough to provide an opening to score some cheap baskets off steals and to force GU into foul trouble.  Florida almost had enough in the defensive tank to pull it off, but Gonzaga still won thanks to hot inside-outside shooting from Josh Perkins and Jonathan Williams, while the Bulldog defense stuck to the Gators like glue, forcing UF to shoot just 36.9% from the field and a pitiful 10.5% from behind the arc.

Gonzaga does not always put an opponent away once they have taken a double-digit lead.  They almost saw Iowa State come back from a 15-point halftime deficit and 18-point 2nd half deficit, as Iowa State’s Deonte Burton brought the Cyclones back to within a point with multiple chances to take the lead in the final minute.  ISU had a shot to win at the buzzer and could not get the shot off.  If GU does not help out on defense, a star player can possibly end the Bulldogs’ season in the Big Dance.

Our Take

We believe Gonzaga is clearly better than the 2014 Wichita State team.  If they enter the NCAA Tournament with a 33-0 record (which we believe is about 95% possible), they will obviously be a #1 seed.  The first game against a #16 seed should be no problem, and we cannot see any possible #8 or #9 seed finding a way to beat them two days later.

Once they get to the Sweet 16, there could be some teams capable of beating the Zags, but only if either Gonzaga lays a big egg or the opponent plays lights out.  The possible #4 or #5 seeds that could pose a problem for GU include West Virginia, Cincinnati, SMU, and South Carolina.  All four of these teams can force Gonzaga to turn the ball over and alter their offense to a point where they must shoot poor shots late in the shot clock.

If Gonzaga makes it to the Elite 8, there will be somebody like Louisville, Kentucky, Florida, Virginia, Duke, or North Carolina in their path.  All of these teams can beat Gonzaga half the time, so it would be considered a 50-50 game against any of these teams.

Looking at the Final Four if GU finally makes it to there, we actually do not think the other potential number one seeds are the teams likely to beat the Bulldogs.  Villanova, Kansas, and Baylor will not match up well with GU.  It will be another team, like one of the teams mentioned in the Elite 8 paragraph that will stop the undefeated streak–if it is stopped.


Since Indiana last blitzed the field in 1975-76 (and Rutgers made it to the Final Four undefeated), Indiana State in 1979, UNLV in 1991, and Kentucky in 2015, made it to the Final Four unbeaten, and none of the three won the title.

Indiana State was clearly not up to Michigan State’s talent level as Larry Bird could not beat Magic Johnson plus Greg Kelser plus 5 or 6 other really good Spartans.

UNLV met a really good Duke team that probably would not have beaten the Runnin’ Rebels more than 2 times out of 10.  However, the Blue Devils had been dealt a major black eye with the worst ever National Championship Game loss to UNLV the year before, and they came out punching.

Kentucky ran up against a much more poised and mature Wisconsin team, one in which the Badgers players had ma lot more NCAA Tournament experience.  UW played a smart game; they forced Kentucky to beat them by doing something other than one-on-one dribble drives and feeds when faced with double-teams.  The UK players did not come out punching, and their defense was subpar that night.

In Gonzaga’s favor, they are not a one-man team like Indiana State (Carl Nicks was good but not a star).  They will not face an opponent that has a grudge from losing by 30+ points the last time they played, but Florida and Arizona might know a little more about what it will take to win if there is a rematch in the Dance.  The Bulldogs are not an inexperienced team lacking maturity that will fall to a more experienced, more mature team, because Mark Few has too many mature players on this team for that to happen.

If Gonzaga loses in the NCAA Tournament, it will be because the other team has equal or superior talent and plays well enough with that talent to win.  Otherwise, GU will become the next undefeated national champion.

The PiRates say that Gonzaga has a 1 in 12 chance of going 39-0 and winning the national title and maybe a 1 in 11.8 chance of just winning the national title.  We believe they have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the Final Four.

February 13, 2017

The Pirate Ratings Bracketology Gurus Report For February 13, 2017

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:27 am

Sunday Excitement

Before we get started with today’s Bracketology Gurus report, we ask you which TV game this weekend became the most exciting one of all.  We hear some of you voting for the Virginia Tech-Virginia game Sunday, the Gonzaga-St. Mary’s game and Kansas-Texas Tech game Saturday, and a smattering of votes for games in leagues that some of you like over others, maybe the ACC or Big Ten.

If you found us for the first time today, you must know that we have esoteric tastes on the PiRate ship.  Our founder contacted this writer around 5PM Sunday to tell us that we had just missed the best game of the weekend, and probably 99.9% of the college basketball fandom didn’t even know the game he watched was televised.

The Captain told us that we should have watched the Vermont-Maryland-Baltimore County game yesterday.  He tuned in to see if how this Catamount team compared to former coach Tom Brennan’s last team in the Green Mountain State.  That team upset Syracuse in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Captain was very impressed with both teams yesterday and became an instant admirer of UMBC’s little sparkplug, K.J. Maura.  The 5 foot 8 inch and 140 pound Maura was overlooked by all major college teams and had to go the junior college route to make it to the low-major Terriers.  Yesterday, Maura was all over the gym, leading UMBC to an almost incredible comeback after trailing by 18 points in the second half.  The Terriers cut the Vermont lead down to two points with less than 30 seconds to go, and after a steal of an inbound pass, they had plenty of time to set up a final shot, but panic set in leading to an off-balance shot, when Maura was one pass away ready to force the action.  Still, UMBC had a chance to send the game into overtime with 2.1 seconds left on the clock.  A deflected inbound pass found Maura with the ball at halfcourt with the final second on the clock quickly ticking down to goose eggs.  Maura threw up a 46 1/2 foot prayer that was almost answered TWICE!  The ball kicked off the front of the rim and then bounced straight up about 13 feet up from the floor.  In what seemed like 5 seconds to the fans, gravity finally sent the ball toward Earth as the red light illuminated the board like a diner billboard advertising the daily special.  It looked like the pumpkin might drop in the basket, but it fell behind the backboard, giving the win to the Catamounts.

When we tell you avid basketball fans to give the low major and mid major conferences a chance, we really mean it.  Some of the most exciting games are in these mass media ignored leagues.  The Mother Ship will hype these leagues during Championship Week, but you should watch some of these league’s games now when the teams are fighting for spots in the standings, where as opposed to the big conferences, many of the lower leagues value the standings by awarding home games to the superior seeds.

Oh, and the Vermont-UMBC game had the great John Feinstein as the color commentator.  His Schtick reminds our founder of Vin Scully doing a basketball game–great stories with great commentary.



27 days from today, we will know the magic 68 teams that can still win the national championship.  27 days out, our Bracketology Gurus have come to a consensus on 53 of the expected 68 that will receive invitations to the Dance.  15 teams could not receive 100% of the Guru vote.  We will call all the teams that received votes but did not receive a unanimous consensus as our Bubble for the week.  The 15-highest vote-receiving Bubble teams are in the Field of 68 for now, while the rest of the Bubble teams are basically NIT teams for now.

Once again, the Gurus come within one vote of agreeing that 22 conferences will send just one representative to the NCAA Tournament, with the lone dissenter believing that the Missouri Valley Champion runner-up will be a #1 seed in the NIT.  We will go with 22 one-bid leagues and include two Valley teams in the Dance.


America East: Vermont 13-0/23-5

Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast 9-2/20-7

Big Sky: Weber St. 10-2/15-8

Big South: UNC-Asheville 12-2/20-7

Big West: UC-Davis 8-2/16-9

Colonial: UNC-Wilmington 11-3/22-5

Conference USA: Middle Tennessee 12-1/22-4

Horizon: Valparaiso 11-2/21-5

Ivy: Princeton 8-0/15-6

Metro Atlantic: Monmouth 13-2/21-5

Mid-American: Akron 11-1/21-4

Mideastern Athletic: UNC-Central 9-1/18-6

Mountain West: Boise St. 9-3/16-7

Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s 12-2/14-13

Ohio Valley: Belmont 12-1/18-5

Patriot: Bucknell 11-2/19-7

Southern: Furman 11-2/18-8

Southland: New Orleans 10-3/15-9

Southwestern Athletic: Texas Southern 10-1/14-10

Summit: North Dakota St. 9-3/17-8

Sun Belt: Arkansas St. 9-3/18-7

Western Athletic: Cal State Bakersfield 8-1/17-7


The Bubble

Math can be a funny thing sometimes if you are a math geek.  While 15 teams made this week’s PiRate Bracketology Gurus Bubble List, a few of them actually finished with a better seed than a few of the teams that were consensus picks.  The reason for this is that a couple of the teams that did not receive consensus selection were seeded considerably higher than some of the consensus teams in a three or four of the dozen Guru’s lists.  We expect that in the next few weeks, this will work itself out, and there will be a consensus Bubble in early March.

In order, here is this week’s Bubble.  The top 15 in this Bubble make the Dance this week, while number 16 starts the group of first teams out.

  1. Virginia Commonwealth 10-2/20-5
  2. Miami (Fla.) 6-6/16-8
  3. Michigan St. 7-5/15-10
  4. Michigan 6-6/16-9
  5. TCU 6-6/17-8
  6. California 9-4/18-7
  7. Syracuse 8-5/16-10
  8. Minnesota 6-6/18-7
  9. MVC #2 (Illinois St. for now  13-1/21-5)
  10. Kansas St. 5-7/16-9
  11. Oklahoma St. 5-7/16-9
  12. Georgia Tech 6-6/15-10
  13. Seton Hall 5-7/15-9
  14. Marquette 6-7/15-10
  15. Arkansas 7-5/18-7
  16. Wake Forest 6-7/15-10
  17. USC 8-5/21-5
  18. Indiana 5-8/15-11
  19. Tennessee 6-6/14-11
  20. Rhode Island 8-4/16-8
  21. Auburn 5-7/16-9
  22. Pittsburgh 3-9/14-11
  23. Clemson 3-9/13-11
  24. Providence 5-8/15-11
  25. Utah 8-5/17-8
  26. Richmond 9-3/15-9
  27. Texas Tech 4-8/16-9
  28. Alabama 7-5/14-10
  29. Houston 9-4/18-7
  30. Ole Miss 6-6/15-10

As you can see, the Bubble has a lot of teams that really should not even be part of the conversation, but this is one of those seasons where 25 teams are really good and the next 55 teams are rather mediocre.  The law of averages would have us believe that one of these mediocre teams will enter the Field of 68 with 12 or more losses and then advance to the Elite 8 and maybe even steal a spot in the Final Four.  Kansas 27-11 (1988), Villanova 25-10 (1985), and North Carolina State 26-10 (1983) from the past even won the whole thing with a lot more losses than the top teams that fell by the wayside those three seasons.

Here is the seed list for all 68 teams

Teams in CAPS represent selected Conference Champion of One Bid League

1–Villanova, Kansas, Gonzaga, Baylor

2–North Carolina, Florida St., Louisville, Oregon

3–Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky

4–Duke, West Virginia, Butler, UCLA

5–Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Purdue

6–SMU, Creighton, Maryland, South Carolina

7–Dayton, Xavier, Northwestern, St. Mary’s

8–Iowa St., VCU, Miami (Fla.), Michigan St.

9–Virginia Tech, TCU, Michigan, California

10–Syracuse, Minnesota, Wichita St., Kansas St.

11–Oklahoma St., Illinois St., MIDDLE TENNESSEE, Georgia Tech, Seton Hall







First Four in Dayton

16-Weber St. vs. Mount St. Mary’s

16-Cal-Davis vs. UNC-Central

12-Marquette vs. Arkansas

11-Georgia Tech vs. Seton Hall


Last Four Byes

Illinois St.

Oklahoma St.

Kansas St.



First Four Out

Wake Forest





Next Four Out

Rhode Island




Coming Mid-week: We take our next look at the top teams that we consider to be real title contenders and apply our 4 Factors Data and PiRate Ratings Criteria to see which teams have staying power.  Does Gonzaga have what it takes to give Mark Few his first Final Four appearance, or are the Bulldogs headed for an early stumble?  Can Kentucky meld into a real team of character rather than 7 youthful characters and make a run to the title?  Could this be Coach K’s final season in Durham, and could he repeat the performance of John Wooden and go out on top?  Or, is there another team lurking behind the current contenders that may not be getting its due?  Find the answers, or at least our version of the answers, in our next report.  Time permitting, it will be published Wednesday late afternoon (Eastern Time).

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