The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 11, 2019

2019 Mountain West Conference Football Preview

In the first decade of the 21st Century, the Mountain West Conference was without a doubt the best of the non power leagues.  Slowly, some of the best programs left the league.  Utah went to the Pac-12; TCU left for the Big 12; Brigham Young copied the Notre Dame formula and went independent in football, while joining the West Coast Conference in other sports.  Boise State joined when BYU left, but the Broncos’ best teams were in the old Western Athletic Conference.

You can see this league beginning to reload.  Boise State has begun to recruit like they did in Chris Peterson’s era at the Field of Blue.  Under former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, Fresno State has returned to prominence.  Utah State, Wyoming, San Diego State, Hawaii, and Nevada have gotten a bit stronger in recent years.  Air Force has been down in the last couple of years, but the Falcons have the experience to rebound this year.

With the new strength in so many locations, the unfortunate reality is that it is highly unlikely that any one team will dominate the others and make a run for the New Year’s Six Bowl that goes to the top-rated Group of Five Conference team.

Both divisions should see competitive races this year, and when November comes,  at least five teams should still have a legitimate chance to make the conference championship game.

 

Here is how the Mountain West Conference media voted in the preseason poll

Mountain West Conference Media Poll
Mountain Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Boise St. 15 120
2 Utah St. 6 108
3 Air Force 0 73
4 Wyoming 0 66
5 Colorado St. 0 52
6 New Mexico 0 22
 

 

West Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Fresno St. 17 122
2 San Diego St. 3 106
3 Nevada 0 74
4 Hawaii 1 67
5 UNLV 0 51
6 San Jose St. 0 21
 

 

Championship Game Winner
None Chosen

The PiRate Ratings offer a little bit of a variation from the Media Poll.

Preseason PiRate Ratings–Mountain West
Mountain Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Utah St. 105.4 104.3 106.8 105.5
Boise St. 105.0 104.3 105.3 104.9
Air Force 96.5 98.0 97.3 97.3
Wyoming 94.4 96.6 95.2 95.4
New Mexico 83.0 86.3 82.4 83.9
Colorado St. 79.2 84.2 79.3 80.9
 

 

West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Fresno St. 99.8 100.2 100.6 100.2
Hawaii 95.5 97.7 94.8 96.0
San Diego St. 94.4 96.2 94.1 94.9
Nevada 92.9 93.9 92.5 93.1
U N L V 85.8 88.9 85.9 86.9
San Jose St. 83.6 86.0 82.7 84.1
 

 

MWC Averages 93.0 94.7 93.1 93.6

 

Note:  These preseason ratings are accurate as of August 1, 2019, and subject to change before the first week of the season due to personnel changes prior to the first week of the season.

 

Predicted Won-Loss Records

The PiRate Ratings were not created to forecast won-loss records like other ratings might attempt.  Our ratings are valid for just the next game on the teams’ schedules, and we have pre-set adjustments built into our ratings on many teams.  For instance, if a team has exceptional starting talent but little depth, their rating has a pre-set reduction per week of the season, so that even if they win or lose a game by the exact expected margin, they will lose some of their power rating due to their depth issues.

If a team has exceptional, but inexperienced talent, their rating will have a pre-set addition per week of the season, and even if their performance may be exactly what was expected, their power rating will rise.

What you see in these predicted won-loss records are our opinion and not calculated from the ratings.  These are the estimated records based on a vote, with the Captain having 50% of the vote and the crew having the other 50%.  The Captain then rounded up or down those teams picked to have an average wins that were not whole numbers.

 

PiRate Members Predicted Won-Loss
Mountain Division
Pos Team Conference Overall
1 Utah St. 7-1 10-3*
2 Boise St. 7-1 9-3
3 Air Force 5-3 7-5
4 Wyoming 4-4 6-6
5 New Mexico 1-7 3-9
6 Colorado St. 0-8 1-11
 

 

West Division
Pos Team Conference Overall
1 Hawaii 6-2 9-5
2 Fresno St. 6-2 8-4
3 San Diego St. 5-3 7-5
4 Nevada 4-4 6-6
5 UNLV 2-6 3-9
6 San Jose St. 1-7 2-10
 

*

 

Utah State picked to win MWC Championship Game

 

Bowl Predictions
Las Vegas Utah St.
Arizona Fresno St.
Armed Forces Boise St.
Idaho Potato Air Force
New Mexico San Diego St.
 

 

Alternate Bowl
Cheez-it Hawaii
 

 

Also Bowl Eligible
Nevada
Wyoming

 

Coaches That Could Move to Power 5 Conferences

Bryan Harsin, Boise St.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming

Nick Rolovich, Hawaii

Jay Norvell, Nevada

 

Coaches On The Hot Seat

Mike Bobo, Colorado St.

Bob Davie, New Mexico

Brent Brennan, San Jose St.

Tony Sanchez, UNLV

 

Top Quarterbacks

Jordan Love, Utah St.

Cole McDonald, Hawaii

Armani Rogers, UNLV

 

Best Offense

Utah St.

Boise St.

Hawaii

 

Best Defense

Utah St.

Boise St.

Fresno St.

 

Coming Tomorrow: The FBS Independents, including Notre Dame and BYU.

 

 

 

 

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March 22, 2019

PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament For Friday, March 22, 2019

Home

Rating

HCA

Visitor

Rating

Spread

Cincinnati

110.8

1.5

Iowa

111.1

1.2

Ole Miss

110.3

0.0

Oklahoma

110.7

-0.4

Texas Tech

117.8

0.0

Northern Kentucky

104.5

13.3

Kansas St.

112.7

0.0

UC-Irvine

106.2

6.5

Tennessee

118.3

0.0

Colgate

102.8

15.5

Gardner-Webb

99.5

1.0

Virginia

121.1

-20.6

Buffalo

115.0

0.0

Arizona St.

107.9

7.1

Wisconsin

115.1

0.0

Oregon

109.7

5.4

Utah St.

111.3

0.0

Washington

108.8

2.5

Duke

123.1

0.0

North Dakota St.

97.9

25.2

Houston

114.8

0.0

Georgia St.

103.9

10.9

Mississippi St.

113.9

0.0

Liberty

106.7

7.2

North Carolina

121.7

0.0

Iona

97.8

23.9

Virginia Commonwealth

110.7

0.0

Central Florida

109.4

1.3

Iowa St.

114.8

0.0

Ohio St.

109.9

4.9

Virginia Tech

115.5

0.0

Saint Louis

104.1

11.4

 

Today’s Schedule

All Times EDT

TIME

MATCHUP

NETWORK

SITE

12:15 PM

(10) Iowa vs. (7) Cincinnati

CBS

Columbus 

12:40 PM

(9) Oklahoma vs. (8) Ole Miss

truTV

Columbia 

1:30 PM

(14) Northern Kentucky vs. (3) Texas Tech

TNT

Tulsa 

2 PM

(13) UC Irvine vs. (4) Kansas State

TBS

San Jose 

Approx. 3 PM

(15) Colgate vs. (2) Tennessee

CBS

Columbus 

Approx. 3:25 PM

(16) Gardner-Webb vs. (1) Virginia

truTV

Columbia 

Approx. 4:15 PM

(11) St. John’s / Arizona State vs. (6) Buffalo

TNT

Tulsa 

Approx. 4:45 PM

(12) Oregon vs. (5) Wisconsin

TBS

San Jose 

6:50 PM

(9) Washington vs. (8) Utah State

TNT

Columbus 

7:10 PM

(16) NC Central / North Dakota St. vs. (1) Duke

CBS

Columbia 

7:20 PM

(14) Georgia State vs. (3) Houston

TBS

Tulsa 

7:27 PM

(12) Liberty vs. (5) Mississippi State

truTV

San Jose 

Approx. 9:35 PM

(16) Iona vs. (1) North Carolina

TNT

Columbus 

Approx. 9:55 PM

(9) UCF vs. (8) VCU

CBS

Columbia 

Approx. 10:05 PM

(11) Ohio State vs. (6) Iowa State

TBS

Tulsa

Approx. 10:12 PM

(13) Saint Louis vs. (4) Virginia Tech

truTV

San Jose 

 

 

 

March 6, 2019

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For Wednesday, March 6, 2019

March 6, 2019

Seed

Team

Team

Team

Team

1

Duke

Gonzaga

Virginia

Kentucky

2

Tennessee

Michigan

North Carolina

Michigan St.

3

Houston

LSU

Purdue

Texas Tech

4

Kansas

Marquette

Wisconsin

Florida St.

5

Kansas St.

Virginia Tech

Mississippi St.

Iowa St.

6

Maryland

Nevada

Cincinnati

Villanova

7

Buffalo

Louisville

Baylor

Auburn

8

Iowa

Wofford

Syracuse

Washington

9

Ole Miss

Virginia Commonwealth

Florida

St. John’s

10

Central Florida

Oklahoma

Minnesota

Ohio St.

11

Texas

TCU

Utah St.

Seton Hall

12

North Carolina St./Temple

Arizona St./Alabama

Belmont

Lipscomb

13

New Mexico St.

Old Dominion

Vermont

Hofstra

14

UC-irvine

Yale

South Dakota St.

Montana

15

Texas St.

Colgate

Drake

Wright St.

16

Campbell

Sam Houston St.

Norfolk St./St. Francis (PA)

Iona/Texas Southern

Last 4 In

North Carolina St.

Arizona St.

Alabama

Temple

Last 4 Bye

Texas

TCU

Utah St.

Seton Hall

First 4 Out

Clemson

Indiana

Georgetown

Furman

Next 4 Out

Murray St.

Nebraska

UNC Greensboro

Saint Mary’s

Bids By Conference

Bids

ACC

8

Big Ten

8

Big 12

8

SEC

8

AAC

4

Big East

4

MWC

2

Pac-12

2

One-Bid Leagues

24

 

 

 

 

March 4, 2019

PiRate Ratings Bracketology For Monday, March 4, 2019

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:32 am

March 4, 2019

Seed

Team

Team

Team

Team

1

Duke

Gonzaga

Virginia

Kentucky

2

Tennessee

Michigan

North Carolina

Michigan St.

3

Houston

LSU

Purdue

Texas Tech

4

Kansas

Marquette

Wisconsin

Florida St.

5

Kansas St.

Virginia Tech

Nevada

Iowa St.

6

Maryland

Mississippi St.

Cincinnati

Villanova

7

Buffalo

Louisville

Baylor

Iowa

8

Auburn

Wofford

Syracuse

Washington

9

Ole Miss

Virginia Commonwealth

Florida

St. John’s

10

TCU

Texas

Central Florida

Ohio St.

11

Oklahoma

Alabama

Minnesota

Seton Hall

12

North Carolina St./Temple

Arizona St./Utah St.

Belmont

Lipscomb

13

New Mexico St.

Old Dominion

Vermont

Hofstra

14

UC-irvine

Yale

South Dakota St.

Texas St.

15

Montana

Colgate

Drake

Wright St.

16

Campbell

Sam Houston St.

Norfolk St./St. Francis (PA)

Siena/Texas Southern

 

 

Last 4 In

North Carolina St.

Arizona St.

Utah St.

Temple

Last 4 Bye

Oklahoma

Alabama

Minnesota

Seton Hall

First 4 Out

Clemson

Indiana

Georgetown

Furman

Next 4 Out

Murray St.

Nebraska

Xavier

Saint Mary’s

 

Bids By Conference

Bids

ACC

8

Big Ten

8

Big 12

8

SEC

8

AAC

4

Big East

4

MWC

2

Pac-12

2

One-Bid Leagues

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 13, 2019

Bubbles Are Boiling

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:16 pm

Five Sundays from today, the NCAA Selection Committee will choose and seed the 68-team field for the NCAA Tournament.  At the present time, the Bubble list has begun to emerge with greater clarity.  There are about three dozen teams still competing for at-large bids, and more than half will not get into the Dance.

Some of the teams under consideration will eventually receive automatic bids when they win their conference tournaments.  On the other hand, there could be a few major upsets in the power conference tournaments forcing a bubble to pierce for one of these teams.

Let’s look at the principle boiling bubbles today.  We will let you decide if their resumes warrant bids or warrant bans to the NIT.

Team

Net

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Alabama

44

2-6

6-1

4-2

3-0

Arizona State

72

3-1

4-3

3-1

6-2

Baylor

32

3-5

7-1

1-0

5-2

Belmont

60

3-1

2-1

2-2

11-0

Butler

53

1-7

6-3

4-1

3-0

Central Florida

45

0-2

4-2

7-0

6-1

Clemson

39

2-6

2-2

5-0

6-0

Creighton

57

2-9

3-2

4-0

3-0

Davidson

68

0-2

3-1

6-3

8-0

Florida

42

1-9

3-1

3-1

5-0

Hofstra

51

0-2

0-1

4-1

16-0

Indiana

49

4-8

2-3

1-0

6-0

Lipscomb

30

2-3

2-1

2-0

12-0

Minnesota

58

3-6

4-2

4-0

5-0

New Mexico St.

59

0-1

2-1

8-2

9-0

North Carolina St

37

1-6

5-0

2-1

9-0

Ohio St.

36

4-5

3-2

4-0

5-0

Oklahoma

41

3-8

5-2

7-0

0-0

Ole Miss

35

3-7

3-0

4-0

6-0

Saint Mary’s

50

1-5

1-2

6-3

7-0

San Francisco

52

0-4

1-1

5-1

11-0

Seton Hall

69

2-6

7-1

2-2

3-0

St. John’s

48

4-4

4-1

2-2

8-0

TCU

33

1-7

5-0

7-0

4-0

Temple

55

1-5

5-1

4-1

7-0

Texas

34

4-6

4-4

3-1

3-0

Toledo

54

0-1

2-0

8-3

9-0

UNC Greensboro

46

1-3

1-0

5-0

13-0

Utah State

38

1-2

2-2

4-2

10-0

VCU

43

1-3

2-2

7-1

7-0

Wofford

28

2-4

3-0

4-0

9-0

Yale

62

0-3

1-0

5-1

8-0

 

Team

EFF.

SOS

Rd/Neut

Con

Ovr

Alabama

48

17

6-7

6-5

15-9

Arizona State

63

66

5-4

7-4

16-7

Baylor

34

50

5-4

7-4

16-8

Belmont

64

160

8-3

10-2

19-4

Butler

53

25

4-8

5-7

14-11

Central Florida

50

89

6-3

7-3

17-5

Clemson

31

36

4-6

5-5

15-8

Creighton

49

12

5-6

4-7

13-11

Davidson

75

106

7-6

9-2

18-6

Florida

38

29

5-7

4-6

12-11

Hofstra

67

225

7-4

11-1

21-4

Indiana

45

37

3-7

4-9

13-11

Lipscomb

33

204

9-3

11-0

20-4

Minnesota

56

51

5-6

6-7

16-8

New Mexico St.

54

134

9-3

9-1

20-4

North Carolina St

40

194

5-4

5-6

17-7

Ohio St.

32

49

6-3

6-6

16-7

Oklahoma

42

7

7-6

3-9

15-10

Ole Miss

39

63

7-4

6-4

16-7

Saint Mary’s

44

47

3-8

6-4

15-10

San Francisco

47

121

5-5

6-4

18-6

Seton Hall

66

40

6-6

5-6

14-9

St. John’s

52

57

7-4

6-6

18-7

TCU

37

20

6-5

5-6

17-7

Temple

76

56

8-5

7-4

17-7

Texas

28

3

4-6

6-6

14-11

Toledo

51

126

9-3

8-3

20-4

UNC Greensboro

80

188

10-2

11-1

22-3

Utah State

43

115

8-5

8-3

18-6

VCU

46

54

6-5

8-2

17-6

Wofford

30

133

8-3

13-0

21-4

Yale

72

123

7-4

5-1

15-4

 

Here’s an explanation of each column

Net: This is their official NCAA NET rating, the new and improved formula that supersedes all other, like the RPI.

Q1-Q4: These are the won-loss records for each quadrant.  The Quadrants are broken up into these groups.

Quadrant #

Home

Neutral

Road

Quadrant 1

1-30

1-50

1-75

Quadrant 2

31-75

51-100

76-135

Quadrant 3

76-160

101-200

136-240

Quadrant 4

161-353

201-353

241-353

If you play the #101 team at home, this is a Quadrant 3 opponent.  If you play the #101 team on their floor, this is a Quadrant 2 opponent.  If you host the #50 team, it counts as Quadrant 2, but if you play that team on a neutral floor or on the road, it is a Quadrant 1 game.

EFF.: This is the ranking in total efficiency, which is offensive efficiency combined with defensive efficiency and adjusted for strength of schedule.

SOS: This is the ranking of strengths of schedule for each team.  Keep in mind that the difference between #1 and #50 may be minimal, while the difference between #51 and #100 may be considerably more.

Rd/Neut: This is the combined road and neutral court won-loss records

Con and Ovr: Although not used by the Committee, this is the conference and overall won-loss records for each team for you to look at and decide for yourself if a certain team belongs in the Dance.  We are not 100% convinced that committee members don’t subconsciously let this stat creep into their decision-making process.  If a team finishes four games under .500 in their league while another finishes four game over .500, that four game swing is going to count for something, even if it isn’t supposed to count.

Trying To Think Like A Committee Member

Let’s look at each school on this list.

Alabama

With wins over Kentucky and Mississippi State, the Committee might overlook losses to Northeastern and Georgia State.  Two of the Tide’s non-conference losses are to probable NCAA Tournament teams Central Florida and Baylor.  The Tide sits at 6-5 in the SEC and projects to a 10-8 or 11-7 final mark.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation with possibility of starting in Dayton.

Arizona St.

The Pac-12 surely cannot be limited to just one bid, can it?  The Committee is not supposed to look at this metric, but this is no different than when the judge tells the jury to disregard a remark from a sustained objection in a court room.  Of course, it is remembered.

Arizona State beat Kansas and Mississippi State.  This past weekend, they handed Washington their first Pac-12 loss.  The Sun Devils lost a close game to Nevada.  They also lost at home to Princeton and recently were blown out at home by Pac-12 cellar dweller Washington State by 21 points.  They also lost at SEC last place Vanderbilt by 16, and they barely beat SEC #13 Georgia.

Does the Kansas win and close loss to Nevada do enough for the Sun Devils?  Their NET rating is 72, and their strength of schedule is 66.  In their favor, Arizona State has a winning record away from Tempe.

Verdict: Sorry, nothing in the inbox but some ads for hotels near Madison Square Garden in late March that you probably won’t need.

Baylor

The Bears lost early in the season to some really weak teams in Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin, but the TSU loss may turn out to be to a future NCAA Tournament team.  At 7-4 in the Big 12 with wins over Texas Tech, Iowa State, and TCU, plus a sweep of Oklahoma, Baylor is on the inside as of now.  We project Baylor to finish 10-8 in the league, and with this league’s strength, Coach Scott Drew can sleep peacefully when his team is eventually ousted in the Big 12 Tournament.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation and does not have to make travel arrangements to Dayton.

 

Belmont

Every year, Coach Rick Byrd has his Bruins among consideration for an NCAA Tournament bid, and this year is no different.  Belmont won at UCLA and Murray State, and they swept rival Lipscomb, who is in the top 30 and also in discussion for a potential at-large bid.  Among their losses is to Purdue in West Lafayette, but also among the losses are two to Jacksonville State.

We project Belmont to win out in the regular season to enter the OVC Tournament at 16-2 in the conference and 24-4 overall.  The Bruins will be the mild favorite to win the automatic bid, but Murray State, Austin Peay, and Jacksonville State will have shots as well.  If Belmont lost to Murray in the Championship Game and finished 26-5, the Bruins would have to be part of the at-large discussion.

Verdict: The Bruins need to win the automatic bid and then become a very game 12-seed.  Too many Bubble teams have to fold for Belmont to rise up and secure an at-large bid.  We believe as an automatic bid-winner and #12 seed, the Bruins are equipped with the talent and coaching to win their first tournament game after some near misses.

 

Butler

This Bulldogs team is not in the class with some of their recent NCAA Tournament teams.  A lone Quadrant 1 win came in a neutral contest with Florida, a team which they played a second time a month later and lost by close to 40 points.

The next most impressive victory is a home win over Ole Miss.  Butler’s NET rating of 53 is on the in-out line, but in their favor is a #25 strength of schedule

Verdict: We hear Dayton is lovely in March.  Even if it snows several inches, you will be very happy you got to visit Southwestern Ohio.  It’s an easy 2 hour drive.

 

Central Florida

The Golden Knights beat Alabama and Temple, and they lost to Houston.  UCF should get to 10 wins in the American Athletic Conference, but the Knights need to pull off one big win to solidify their at-large standing against their peers.  UCF will get that chance with games remaining with Cincinnati and Houston.  A sweep of South Florida might also be impressive enough to push them over the top.

Verdict: Hanging on to a First Four bid for now

 

Clemson

The Tigers don’t have many great wins on their schedule.  Their recent upset of Virginia Tech and an earlier win over Lipscomb are the only Quadrant 1 victories.  In their favor, they are 11-0 against Q3 and Q4 combined, so their losses have been to good or great teams.

We project CU to go 8-10 in ACC play, which in most years gets an ACC team into the field, whether it is deserved or not.  Clemson might need one more upset to complete their resume-building.  They certainly need to hold serve against the teams beneath them in the league.  A win tonight at Miami would be mighty.  We think that a win at home over Florida State, North Carolina, or Syracuse would give them all the juice they need.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation and probably not one to Dayton

 

Creighton

The Big East is top heavy with two superior teams and a half dozen good but not great teams.  At 4-7 in league play, the Blue Jays have a lot of work left to do to get onto the upper half of the Bubble.

The one thing keeping Creighton in the discussion currently is the fact that they have played 12 Quadrant 1 games so far and have a top 15 strength of schedule.  However, they are only 2-10 in those games.

Creighton’s next four games are must-win games.  The Blue Jays have to take care of Xavier tonight in Cincinnati and then beat Seton Hall, DePaul, and Georgetown to improve to 8-7 when they travel to Marquette in March.  A 6-1 finish from here would put CU at 10-8 in the league and 19-12 overall, where an opening round win in the Big East Tournament would give the Blue Jays a strong chance to get in.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation only if they meet the parameters set above.  As of today, we’d say their invitation would be to host a game in the NIT.

 

Davidson

Bob McKillop is one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball.  While Davidson has an exceptional history of greatness thanks to what legendary coach Lefty Driesell did 50 years ago, those were different times.  Driesell recruited four or five players as good as Stephen Curry, and he brought Davidson to the top five of the rankings in 1964, 1965, 1968, and 1969.  McKillop inherited a mess when he took over this program that was coming off a 24-loss season plus the transfer of their one good player.  He’s now led the Wildcats for 30 seasons!

Of course, none of this means anything to the Selection Committee.  Davidson’s resume is iffy at this point, and without an automatic bid, it looks like a slim possibility.  Their only quality win to date is a home game victory over conference co-contender Virginia Commonwealth.  This is their only win against a top 100 team, and it came at home.  Unless they face VCU in the Conference Tournament, they will face just one other top 100 team the rest of the way.  The stars just don’t align for the Wildcats this year.

Verdict: They better win the automatic bid or plan on playing in the NIT, CBI, or CIT

 

Florida

Coach Michael White is underachieving in Gainesville, and, following in the footsteps of Billy Donovan, could find his seat heating up quickly if the Gators miss out on this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Florida’s schedule is the only reason why at 4-6 in the SEC and 12-11 overall that they are still in consideration as an at-large team.  The Gators are looking at 8-10 in the league and 16-15 overall.  With that record, they will have to win at least three SEC Tournament games to even be in the final discussion.

Verdict: One of the biggest disappointments of the season does not receive an NCAA bid and may not receive an NIT bid either

 

Hofstra

Make no bones about it, Hofstra is not a real at-large candidate.  However, we wanted to list the Pride here to show you their resume.  At 21-4, the Pride has no Q1 or Q2 wins.  They are 16-0 against Q4, and their strength of schedule ranks 225.  We wanted to show them to you so you can compare them with the other Mid-major teams on this list.  We could have also shown you UC-Irvine, a team in a similar boat with Hofstra, while Wofford, UNC Greensboro, Belmont, and Lipscomb have some tiny at-large hopes.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation only if it is automatic

 

Indiana

This was supposed to be a much better year in Hoosierland, and like his brother Sean, Archie Miller has come under fire.  IU was supposed to contend with the Michigan schools and Purdue for the Big Ten title.  Instead, the Hoosiers find themselves mired in a tenth place tie in the Big Ten at 4-9/13-11.

Indiana has the bare minimum criteria to squeak in as a fortunate bubble team.  Their NET rating is just under 50, and most power league teams in the top 50 get into the field.  Their strength of schedule is 37, and this is okay for any major conference team on the bubble.  Their efficiency rating is also okay at 45, not great but adequate enough for a Big Ten team.

With 12 Quadrant 1 games and wins in four of those contests, the Hoosiers have proven they can compete at the top of the game.  Of their seven remaining games, five are against tough opponents, and Indiana needs to win two of those five games and four overall to enter the Big Ten Tournament not needing to win three games to feel comfortable about getting an at-large bid.

Verdict: At the present time, we have them as the #68 team in the field, and they would be slotted to go to Dayton, where they might have to play Butler. What a rivalry game played close enough for the fans to make the commute by car!

 

Lipscomb

The Atlantic Sun Conference is mid-major at best and borders on low-major status, but Florida Gulf Coast proved this league has the ability to send teams to the Sweet 16.

Lipscomb made its first NCAA Tournament appearance last year and scared North Carolina for a half.  This Bisons team is better than last year, and the former NAIA superpower might be talented enough to replicate what FGCU did earlier in the decade.

Lipscomb has played five Q1 games, all on the road and won twice, once against TCU.  They have no bad losses, going 14-0 against Q3 & Q4.  Among their losses is a four-pointer at Louisville.

If Lipscomb beats Liberty tonight in Nashville to complete the season sweep, they will almost assuredly win out to finish 16-0/25-4 before hosting all their conference tournament games.  It would take a lot to not be the automatic qualifier, but in the event they lost to Liberty in the finals, they would be 27-5 with a lot of positives on their resume.

Verdict: The Bisons are a very likely automatic qualifier, but if they were 27-5, it would take a lot of statistics-bending to exclude them from the at-large pool.  However, we have faith that the Selection Committee would find ways to ship Lipscomb to the NIT in favor of the ninth place team in the ACC or 10th place team in the Big Ten or even the fifth best Big East team, or even TCU who lost at home to this Lipscomb team.

 

Minnesota

Richard Pitino, Saul Phillips, Murray Bartow, and Bryce Drew know what it is like to have fathers that enjoyed long, successful careers in college basketball.  They also know what it is like to have their team’s fanatics wishing that those great coaches had created daughters rather than sons.  Pitino is on very thin ice in Minneapolis, and the Gophers must make the Big Dance if Pitino is to stay employed in the Cities in 2020.

The Gophers are in 8th place in the Big Ten with a 16-8 record overall.  This is just enough to meet the minimum for a Big Ten team.  Their NET rating is 59, which is right on the line for average lowest rating that gets in.  Three Quad 1 wins and a 5-6 record away from home gives the Gophers a decent shot at making the field.

Minnesota’s closing schedule could cinch their bid or kill their chances.  Their more winnable games are on the road, and the tougher opponents must come to Minneapolis.  Tonight’s game at Nebraska could be a bell-weather contest.  A loss might open the door for another bubble team to step up and pass the Gophers.

Verdict: For now, we believe the Selection Committee would send the Gophers an Invitation and even allow them to avoid the First Four.  However, a 3-4 finish to give UM a 9-11 mark in the league and 19-12 overall might put Minny on the wrong side of the Bubble if they lost their first Big Ten Tournament game.  Pitino loses his job if UM misses the Dance.

 

New Mexico St.

New Mexico State is not getting an at-large bid, even if the Aggies win out until the WAC Championship Game and then lose to Grand Canyon or Cal St. Bakersfield by one point in overtime.

Let’s look at their resume.  They lost at Kansas by three points, and that was their only Q1 game.  Even had they beaten Kansas by three, their resume is too thin with just one Q1 game.

NMSU is just one spot behind Minnesota in the NET Ratings, and the Aggies are 9-3 away from Las Cruces.  However, their strength of schedule rates at number 134, and we learned from the top-16 seed reveal last week just how much this year’s Committee valued strength of schedule.

Verdict: No At-large chance, but we believe this team could be 30-4 when they win the WAC’s automatic bid.  Coach Chris Jans has overcome a lot of adversity to resurrect his career.  NMSU will be a dangerous 12 or 13 seed.

 

North Carolina St.

Kevin Keatts is one of our favorite basketball coaches.  We are in high regard of his ability to evaluate talent and alter his schemes to best exploit opponent weaknesses and utilize his talent.  Even that embarrassing oops loss to Virginia Tech does not alter our opinion.  Keatts is a Final Four coach of the future, be it here or some place else.

This Wolf Pack team is not going to advance very far in the NCAA Tournament, but they will almost definitely receive a bid based on their results so far.

When an ACC team has a top 40 NET rating, they are going dancing.  NCSU is presently #39.  The Wolf Pack currently has a winning record away from Raleigh.

All is not peachy though with their resume.  Their Strength of Schedule is an unheard of for an ACC team #194, because they played six of the bottom 34 teams in Division 1, including the two weakest of all.  State only has one Q1 win all year, a home victory over Auburn which looks less impressive now than it did then.

The Pack can easily finish the regular season on a 5-2 sprint to a 10-8 regular season conference record, which gets an ACC team an at-large bid better than 95% of the time.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation as one of the last teams in that do not play in the First Four

 

Ohio St.

The Buckeyes really should not be in this discussion.  The only reason why we include them here is that they still need to avoid a total collapse.  At 6-6/16-7, if OSU goes 3-5 down the stretch, they will get into the field.

Road wins over Cincinnati, Indiana, and Creighton are impressive enough already, but we see the Buckeyes finishing no worse than 4-4 and possibly 5-3 to make their selection quite easy.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Oklahoma

Can a team that is 3-9 in their conference really be in the hunt for an at-large bid?  Oklahoma certainly hopes so, and thanks to the Big 12’s overall concentration of power, the Sooners do have a legitimate chance to get into the Field of 68 with a conference mark no better than 7-11.

In OU’s favor is a schedule that faced no Q4 teams and just seven Q3 teams.  Oklahoma went 7-0 in those games.  Their overall strength of schedule is #7, which means that a winning overall record is going to be enough to give them a chance.

Oklahoma has six games remaining prior to the league tourney, and if they go 3-3 with one of those wins coming against Kansas, and then they win their first Big 12 Tournament game, the Sooners will be in good enough shape to expect great things on March 17.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation if they go 3-3 plus one Big 12 Tournament win

 

Ole Miss

Ole Miss is 16-7, and all seven of their losses came to Q1 teams!  They have three Q1 wins, including one on the road against Mississippi State.

A 35 NET rating and 39 Efficiency rating makes their resume complete.  At this point, Ole Miss is competing for a 7 or 8 seed and not needing to worry about missing out on the Dance, unless they totally collapse.  Coach Kermit Davis has done an incredible job in his first year in Oxford.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Saint Mary’s

The Gaels have received an at-large bid in the past, but they also beat Gonzaga in the past.  This year, it appears out of reach, and a 11-5/22-12 final record (the best possible without beating Gonzaga, is most likely to fall short of the minimum needed criteria.

Verdict: SMC is going to have to beat Gonzaga to have any chance, and most likely, that win will have to come in the finals of the WCC Tournament, which would then give the Gaels the automatic bid and Gonzaga an at-large bid at the expense of another team on this list.

 

San Francisco

At one time earlier this year, USF looked like a potential at-large team.  A 13-point loss at home to Gonzaga followed by losses at Saint Mary’s and San Diego, basically necessitated winning at Gonzaga to have a real chance.  The Zags ran the Dons off the floor, ending USF’s at-large possibilities.

Verdict: No bid unless USF pulls off the upset and wins the West Coast Tournament Championship.  We cannot see USF beating Gonzaga, but if the Dons earn the #2 or #3 seed in the conference tournament, while BYU earns the #4 seed, then the Dons could hope that the Cougars upset Gonzaga, giving them a chance to knock off BYU for the automatic bid.

 

Seton Hall

Seton Hall is in a similar boat to Butler and Creighton in the up and down Big East race.  The Pirates have some pluses and some minuses in their quest to get a bid.

On the plus side are wins over Kentucky and Maryland, but countering those two great Q1 victories are losses at home to St. Louis and DePaul.  Three of their Q1 losses were by five points or less, and they have only played seven games against Q3 & Q4 teams.

With a 69 NET Rating, the Pirates need to improve their standing in the last five weeks.  The schedule is quite tough with the top two Big East teams (Villanova and Marquette) still on the schedule, and the Hall has road games with Creighton, St. John’s, and Georgetown.  We expect SHU to enter the Big East Tournament at 7-11/16-14, and the Big East is not strong enough for a team with fewer than 10 conference wins or nine with a couple of conference tournament wins to get in.

Verdict: Looks like they will be disappointed on Selection Sunday without an upset of Marquette or Villanova and a 9-9 Big East record

 

St. John’s

St. John’s is only a half-game in front of Seton Hall, but their resume might as well be 20 games ahead.  The Red Storm have played a much tougher schedule this year, and schedule strength appears to be very important, just behind NET Ratings, with the Committee.  Sweeps of Marquette and Creighton with their worst loss coming against DePaul gives SJU a strong shot at making the field.  Add a 7-4 record away from home, and the Red Storm would have to collapse to miss out this year.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation, probably an 8 or 9 seed

 

TCU

Like Ole Miss, all of TCU’s losses have come to Quadrant 1 teams.  They are 16-0 against all others.  A 33 NET rating and 20 Strength of Schedule Rating puts the Horned Frogs well up into the good graces of the Selection Committee.

TCU should be no worse than 9-9 in the Big 12, and when a league is as strong up and down as this one, the 9-9 team always gets into the field.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Temple

When a top 10 team has just one loss all year, the team that beat them gets added oomph in their resume.  Temple gave Houston their only loss so far this year.  The Owls lost their other five Q1 games to date.

Temple’s NET Rating is 55, which puts them on the Bubble for sure.  Their Strength of Schedule is 56, which is at the bottom of the allowed SOS for an at-large team.  An 8-5 record away from home (7-4 away from the City of Brotherly Love) makes their criteria smack dab in the hunt as one of the final teams in our highest teams out.

Temple can go 5-2 the rest of the regular season to finish at 12-6 in the league.  With a win in the AAC Tournament, that would give the Owls at least 23 wins, and that would leave them exactly where they are now–in the middle of the discussion between teams number 67 and 70.  A win at South Florida this weekend would really help.

 

Texas

The Longhorns have the worst record of teams that appear to be in good shape with the Selection Committee.  At 6-6/14-11, UT still has work to do just to guarantee a plus .500 record.  They have played the third toughest schedule in the nation, and they own wins over North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor.

Add a 34 NET Rating and 28 Efficiency Rating, and Texas only needs to get enough wins down the stretch to guarantee an at-large bid.  A 9-9 Big 12 record does the trick.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation

 

Toledo

The PiRate Ratings are big fans of the Mid-Major conferences that have been around for decades, and the MAC is one of those leagues.  Toledo was really good back in the late 1960’s when Steve Mix played for the Rockets prior to starting in the NBA.  Success has been limited for Toledo on the hardwoods since then.

This Toledo team has no chance of securing an at-large bid, and with a 30-point loss to Buffalo, it is hard to see them getting revenge in the championship game of the MAC Tournament.  Still, we include them in this write-up, because the MAC Tournament is always competitive, and the top-seeded team loses in it more than the average conference.

Toledo is one of three or four teams that could upset Buffalo, although this year’s Buffalo team has all the tools to sweep the regular season and conference tournament.  However, if Buffalo loses, then obviously another team must win the automatic bid, while Buffalo bursts a Bubble for another team as a certain at-large team.

A 9-3 record away from home makes this a dangerous team in Cleveland.  Toledo will waltz into Cleveland as the number one seed from the West Division, so Buffalo will have to beat two others before the Rockets will have to glare at the Bulls in a possible title game.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation only bid winning automatic bid, but Buffalo still gets in if they lose the MAC Tournament

 

UNC Greensboro

This is a team no favorite from a power conference will want to see in a potential Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game.  UNCG is a tough matchup, and the Spartans have a unique style that is hard to prepare for on a couple day’s notice.

With a 46 NET Rating, UNCG is worthy of an at-large bid if they were to win out all the way to the Socon Championship Game and lose a close one to Wofford.  The Spartans are 10-2 away from Greensboro, but their issue is a schedule that is rated 188 (which is still ahead of North Carolina State).

If UNCG is to earn enough respect to be in the at-large pool, the Spartans must win their two big games this week.  They play at Furman tonight, and then meet Wofford in Spartanburg Saturday.  If UNCG wins out but loses in the SoCon Championship Game, they will be 30-4 and in the mix for one of the last four bids.

 

Utah St.

With a 38 NET Rating and 43 Efficiency Rating, Utah State should be in the almost safe range for an at-large bid, but the Aggies are still on the outside looking in thanks to a strength of schedule rated 115.  Utah State has seven regular season games left, and if they win out, they will enter the MWC Tournament at 15-3/25-6.  Most importantly, if they win out, it will mean the Aggies beat Nevada.  The boys from Reno come to Logan on March 2.  USU almost has to win that game to have any serious at-large chances, but they also have a chance to win the automatic bid in the tough Mountain West.  Nevada won the MWC last year and failed to make the tournament title game as the number one seed, so history could repeat.

Verdict: We believe the Aggies deserve an at-large bid as of today, and for now we will give the Selection Committee the benefit of the doubt in realizing that they deserve to be in

 

Virginia Commonwealth

At the current time, we actually have VCU as the likely automatic bid winner from the Atlantic 10, ahead of Davidson, but we included the Rams here to show you how close they are to qualifying as an at-large team.

VCU has a 43 NET Rating, 54 Strength of Schedule, and 46 Efficiency Rating.  This is already better than some of the other teams thought to be among the last four in and first four out.  They have a 6-5 record away from home and won at Texas.  They suffered narrow losses to Virginia and St. John’s.

We project VCU to finish 15-3 in the A-10 and 24-7 overall in the regular season.  If they lose in the conference tournament and finish 26-8, the Rams will be in the mix for an at-large bid.

Verdict: We believe VCU has the best chance of winning the A-10 Tournament and the automatic bid, but if they lose in the Championship Game, the Rams still have a chance depending on how many Power Conferences have major upsets or if teams like Buffalo and Nevada lose in their conference tournaments

Wofford

If we told you that an anonymous team was ranked 28 in the NET Ratings with the number 30 Efficiency Rating, and with a 20-point road win at the number four team in the SEC, and with four losses all year to North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma, you might reply that Auburn or Texas Tech will obviously make the NCAA Tournament, guessing from the information given that one of these two teams must be that anonymous team.

Mention Wofford to 99% of the general college basketball fandom public, and you are very likely to hear such fanatic tell you that they will be another one of those first round 25-point losers to some Big Ten team.

Wofford and UNC Greensboro both probably belong in the NCAA Tourmament.  Unfortunately, one of these two are likely to be team number 69, 70, 71, or 72.

Verdict: Receives an Invitation if they earn the automatic bid

 

Yale

There has never been an at-large Ivy League team, and there isn’t going to be one this year, even if Yale is probably better than a couple of teams seriously on the Bubble.

The Bulldogs’ best win is a neutral court victory over Miami of Florida.  Their resume won’t get them an at-large bid.  We project the Bulldogs to go 12-2 in the Ivy League to earn the top seed in the four-team tournament.  We also project Yale to win the Tournament to finish 24-5, where they will earn no better than a 13 seed and possible a 14 seed.  At 13, there are multiple potential 4 seeds that could be uspet by this Yale team.

 

November 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

August 17, 2016

2016 Mountain West Conference Football Preview

In our first three previews, the races have projected to be competitive with up to four teams figuring to contend for the divisional titles. In today’s Mountain West Conference preview, there is no such competitiveness. Boise State and San Diego State are prohibitive favorites in the divisional races, so much so that the Broncos received 27 of 29 first place votes in the preseason media poll, while the Aztecs selection as number one in the West was unanimous.

The PiRate Ratings concur–Boise State and San Diego State begin the 2016 season as clear-cut favorites. In the Mountain Division, Air Force is within striking distance, less than a touchdown weaker than BSU to start the season. In the West, SDSU begins the season more than a ten points ahead of the pack.

Our Buccaneers have spotted their first surprise team in this year’s previews. UNLV, picked by the media to finish fifth in the West Division, should better that by a lot this year. The Rebels start the season with the fourth best PiRate Rating in the West, but they benefit by hosting Fresno State, Colorado State, Wyoming, and Nevada, while playing at Hawaii, and this gives second year head coach Tony Sanchez a chance to give UNLV a chance to return to a bowl for the first time in three years. Sanchez lost five games in six years as head coach of Bishop Gorman High School in suburban Las Vegas. In his first season at Sam Boyd Stadium, the Rebels finished 3-9, but it was an almost two touchdown improvement in scoring margin. A defense which figures to improve yet again should allow the Rebels to shed another 7-10 points off their points allowed, and Sanchez will mold a credible offense and guide UNLV to bowl eligibility.

The other surprise team should not be a surprise team at all. New Mexico was selected fifth in the Mountain Division after Coach Bob Davie guided the Lobos to a 7-5 regular season record, the first winning season in Albuquerque since 2007. The Lobos return almost every defensive player that contributed last year, and they also return a competent quarterback in Lamar Jordan. The PiRate believe that UNM will not only return to a bowl game again this season, they will even improve on their won-loss record of last year.

Both San Diego State and Boise State figure to contend for the automatic bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game awarded to the top team not from a Power 5 league. The winner of the MWC Championship Game might need to be undefeated this year to take that bid, because there are a couple of teams in the American Athletic Conference capable of going 12-1 this year. Check the PiRate Ratings Friday for a preview of that league.

Here is how the MWC Media Predicted The Race

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Boise St. 27 172
2 Air Force 2 126
3 Utah St. 0 111
4 Colorado St. 0 95
5 New Mexico 0 74
6 Wyoming 0 31
       
West Divsion
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 San Diego St. 29 174
2 Nevada 0 129
3 San Jose St. 0 122
4 Fresno St. 0 76
5 UNLV 0 73
6 Hawaii 0 35

The Media did not select an overall champion.

Here are the PiRate Ratings to begin the season.

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 104.4 105.7 106.3 105.5
Air Force 99.9 100.2 100.1 100.1
New Mexico 94.3 97.6 95.6 95.9
Utah St. 93.2 97.1 93.0 94.4
Colorado St. 88.2 90.6 89.0 89.3
Wyoming 82.5 82.5 82.6 82.6
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 104.9 102.2 108.2 105.1
Nevada 92.3 95.6 93.6 93.9
San Jose St. 91.0 91.0 91.9 91.3
UNLV 89.0 93.6 89.1 90.6
Fresno St. 82.1 87.1 81.9 83.7
Hawaii 77.0 76.5 75.7 76.4
         
MWC Averages 91.6 93.4 92.3 92.4

The PiRate Ratings are best used just to look forward to the next week game schedule.  These ratings cannot really be used to predict won-loss records, so with that caveat, here are the projected won-loss records based on the ratings alone.

Mountain West Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Mountain Division      
Boise St. 8-0 12-1 * Las Vegas
Air Force 7-1 11-1 Hawaii
New Mexico 5-3 8-4 New Mexico
Utah St. 4-4 6-6 Arizona
Colorado St. 2-6 4-8  
Wyoming 0-8 1-11  
       
West Division      
San Diego St. 8-0 11-2 Poinsettia
UNLV 5-3 7-5 Idaho Potato
Nevada 4-4 6-6 Bowl Eligible
San Jose St. 4-4 5-7  
Fresno St. 1-7 2-10  
Hawaii 0-8 2-11  
       
* Boise St. Projected to Win MWC Championship Game

Coming Tomorrow–The PiRates will release a double feature–The Independents and the American Athletic Conference. Beginning Saturday, we will commence with the Power 5 conference previews.

August 13, 2015

2015 Mountain West Conference Preview

There was a time when the Mountain West Conference graded out to be a little stronger than the old Big East Conference and was clearly stronger overall than today’s American Conference.  There were a couple seasons where the league was on par with the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Of course, there was a time when both TCU and Boise State were members of this conference, and there was a time that BYU was a member as well.

In 2015, the MWC may be a bit too weak for the champion to get into the playoff mix, but we believe the champion of this league stands an excellent chance to be 13-0 when the committee decides who is in and who is out.  If two of the Big Six conferences produce two or even three-loss champions, there will be a small chance that a 13-0 MWC team could be a surprise #4 seed.

It’s been five seasons since Boise State last finished the year undefeated.  In 2009, The Broncos defeated Oregon at the start of the year and 12-0 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of the year to finish fourth in the nation overall.  This was the second time the Broncos finished undefeated, having first pulled it of in 2006 when once again, BSU won the Fiesta Bowl in a thrilling finish over Oklahoma.  The 2006 team defeated Oregon State early in the season.

This year, Boise State opens at home against Washington.  In week two, they play at BYU.  An October 16 game at Utah State is the only other possible bump in the 2015 road, but this team is considerably stronger than the 12-2 team that won another Fiesta Bowl last year.  The Broncos were the first of the lone guaranteed non-Big Six conference team to be selected to a Big Six Bowl.  Could they become the first non-Big Six school to earn a playoff spot?

We don’t believe the selection committee will take the Broncos, but we do believe Boise will run the table for the third time in a decade and probably be rewarded with yet another trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

There is only one fly in the ointment.  Boise State is loaded on both sides of the ball, but the one place that is a question mark is at quarterback.  Ryan Finley isn’t totally raw, having seen brief action as a Freshman last year, but 27 career passes is not enough to make a case that he might be the next Kellen Moore.

Utah State has gone bowling the last four years, two under former coach Gary Andersen and two under current coach Matt Wells.  Who knows how good this program could have been if quarterback Chuckie Keeton could have finished a season.  He has suffered numerous injuries in his time in Logan, and he has never played a full schedule.  He returns for one final try, and if he can stay on the field, the Aggies pose the only legitimate threat to Boise State.  The loss of Jo Jo Natson may hamper their chances, but USU still has Hunter Sharp at Wide Receiver and LaJuan Hunt at running back, so there is talent at the skill positions.  Inside linebacker Nick Vigil has all the tools, and he will anchor the division’s top defense.

After the top two, the drop to number three is steep.  Colorado State lost the top quarterback in the league in Garrett Grayson; one of the top running backs in Dee Hart; and two of the top defensive players in the league in Aaron Davis and Max Morgan.  Oh, and they lost all-American coach Jim McElwain to Florida.  New coach Mike Bobo comes from the SEC just like his predecessor.  As the long time offensive coordinator at Georgia, Bobo’s Bulldog offenses were balanced with power running games and vertical passing games.  In his first year in Ft. Collins, he inherits talent not all that equipped to suit his style.  He will not see a Nick Chubb or Aaron Murray on the field at Hughes Stadium.  He also will not see his team playing on the field after November 28.  The Rams draw San Diego State and Fresno State out of the Pacific Division, and it looks like a drop under .500 this year.

Air Force has been up and down in recent years for Coach Troy Calhoun.  The Falcons were up last year, winning 10 games, including an upset of Boise State.  This year, the Falcons will be down due to a rebuilding defense and an offense that must break in a new quarterback.  Down won’t be a total disappointment, as we believe the Falcons will find a way to break even and earn a bowl bid.

Our pick for surprise team in the league this year is New Mexico.  The Lobos have been down and out since former coach Rocky Long was let go in 2008.  Following three consecutive 1-11 seasons that included a loss to Sam Houston, former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie was brought to Albuquerque to right the ship.  This is his fourth season following 4-9, 3-9, and 4-8 seasons where the Lobos ran the ball better than any team in the league, topping 300 yards per game all three years.  This year, Davie has experienced talent throughout the roster, and with just a little improvement on the defensive side of the ball, New Mexico could win the close games and earn its first bowl bid since 2007.

There was a time when Wyoming was the class of the Rockies.  The Cowboys were the western Cradle of Coaches for years producing the likes of Bob Devaney, Pat Dye, Fred Akers, Joe Tiller, and Bowden Wyatt, all of whom ascended to big time programs and took teams to conference championships and New Year’s Day Bowls.  As of late, the pickings have been slim in Laramie.  Joe Glenn and Dave Christensen both had great promise but neither turned the tide.  Craig Bohl brought a similar resume to the Rockies as Glenn, having won big at North Dakota State, but his first year in Laramie was no different than recent editions.  This year’s team may make last year’s 4-8 team look like a success as graduation has taken a heavy toll.

The Pacific Division race should be a little more competitive than the Mountain Division.  Four teams have realistic chances to compete for the division title, while a fifth has the potential to get into the race.  It’s not that this side of the league is powerful; the parity is owed more to sub-par rosters than anything else.

San Diego State has been flirting with a division title for five years, and this looks like the year where the Aztecs are the favorite to finally get over the hump.  Coach Rocky Long’s defense is the best in the division and maybe the best in the entire league, and he returns 14 of his top 18 tacklers from last year.  If his offense can maintain the competency of recent years, SDSU could win double digit games for the first time since 1977.

Nevada exploded with a 13-1 record in 2010 and has since returned to mediocrity with three 7-6 seasons wrapped around a 4-8 season.  Third year coach Brian Polian must polish a new quarterback to replace Cody Fajardo, who led the Wolf Pack in addition to his passing skills, led the Wolf Pack in rushing.  The secondary must be rebuilt as well, and in a pass-happy league, a weak secondary can be a recipe for disaster.  However, both sides of the line of scrimmage are stocked with quality brutes, so we believe Nevada will stay in the hunt for another bowl bid.

Fresno State is in a similar boat as Nevada.  Coach Tim DeRuyter must replace his starting quarterback for the second consecutive season, but replacing Brian Burrell will be easier than replacing Derek Carr.  There is a question at the moment concerning the possible starting quarterback this year.  Former West Virginia signal caller Ford Childress is the most talented QB on the roster and should be the starter, but there are questions concerning his eligiblity status.  He is currently practicing with the squad, but there is a chance he will not be eligible to play until the second week of the season.  If Childress is okayed to play, the Bulldogs immediately move up a notch as SDSU’s top contender.  Without him, FSU may have to rely on a freshman or less talented sophomore.

San Jose State fell back in the pack last year, suffering through a 3-9 season which included a season-ending six game losing streak.  Third year coach Ron Carragher returns 10 starters on offense, but the attack troops suffered a mighty blow when freshman phenom and expected starting wide receiver Kanya Bell was dismissed following his arrest on domestic battery charges.  Many of his teammates disagreed with the dismissal, citing that there could be more to the story, and this sounds like it created possible dissension within the ranks.  If so, Carragher faces a tough uphill climb to keep the team believing in his leadership.  If the season heads south early, Carragher could find himself on a hot seat in San Jose.

If there is to be a surprise team in the Pacific Division, we believe it will be Hawaii.  Fourth year coach Norm Chow welcomes the best new quarterback in the league.  Former USC Trojan Max Wittek could be the missing ingredient Chow has needed to run his complicated offense.  The Warriors failed to complete 50% of their passes last year, and Wittek is a major upgrade.  The UH defense was vastly improved last year, and if the offense can improve in the same manner, then Hawaii could compete for that elusive seventh win and get a 14th game in December in Honolulu.  Road games in September at Ohio State and Wisconsin are the big issues.  Not that Hawaii has a chance of upsetting either team, but if injuries in those games prevent the roster from being near full strength in November, when the Warriors have a very favorable schedule, there will be no chance to get to 7-6.

What do you do if you are a first year college head coach, and you inherit a 2-11 team that gave up more than 500 yards per game and barely beat Northern Colorado by a point the year before?  What do you do when said team was decimated by graduation losses and appears to be considerably weaker than the 2-11 team you inherited?  That’s what first year UNLV coach Tony Sanchez faces in Las Vegas.  Sanchez has zero head coaching experience in college football.  He only has one year of any college football experience, and that came a generation ago when he was a graduate assistant at New Mexico State.  Sanchez has been the Knute Rockne of high school coaches in the Silver State.  He never lost a conference game at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, and his annual won-loss records were 15-0, 13-2, 16-0, 13-1, 13-2, and 15-0, winning the Nevada State Championship every year.  Those five losses in six seasons will be eclipsed in little more than half a season this year, because that Gorman team had more future FBS all-star players than this UNLV team, and Sanchez cannot play rising high school junior Tate Martell at quarterback.

Let’s take a look at how the MWC Media predicted the standings for this season.

Mountain West Conference Media Poll
Pos. Team 1st Place Total
Mountain Division
1 Boise St. 28 177
2 Utah St. 2 150
3 Colorado St. 0 108
4 Air Force 0 90
5 Wyoming 0 64
6 New Mexico 0 41
West Division
1 San Diego St. 27 177
2 Fresno St. 3 141
3 Nevada 0 113
4 San Jose St. 0 91
5 Hawaii 0 70
6 UNLV 0 38

Here is the Media’s preseason All-MWS team.

Conference USA Preseason All-Conference Team
Offense Player School
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton Utah St.
Running Back Donnel Pumphrey San Diego St.
Running Back Martez Waller Fresno St.
Wide Receiver Rashard Higgins Colorado St.
Wide Receiver Devonte Boyd UNLV
Tight End Steven Walker Colorado St.
Offensive Line Marcus Henry Boise St.
Offensive Line Rees Odhiambo Boise St.
Offensive Line Alex Fifita Fresno St.
Offensive Line Ben Clarke Hawaii
Offensive Line Pearce Slater San Diego St.
Defense Player School
Defensive Line Eddie Yarbrough Wyoming
Defensive Line Alex Hansen Air Force
Defensive Line Kamalei Correa Boise St.
Defensive Line Ian Seau Nevada
Linebacker Tanner Vallejo Boise St.
Linebacker Kyler Fackrell Utah St.
Linebacker Nick Vigil Utah St.
Defensive Back Weston Steelhammer Air Force
Defensive Back Donte Deayon Boise St.
Defensive Back Darian Thompson Boise St.
Defensive Back Damontae Kazee San Diego St.
Special Teams Player School
Punter Alex Boy Nevada
Kicker Donny Hageman San Diego St.
Return Specialist Carols Wiggins New Mexico

Here are the Preseason PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings along with the averages of the three.

Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 114.5 108.6 114.1 112.4
Utah St. 99.7 98.9 100.0 99.5
Colorado St. 95.4 92.9 93.4 93.9
Air Force 91.1 96.6 90.1 92.6
New Mexico 90.7 91.8 90.2 90.9
Wyoming 84.3 86.6 82.5 84.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 96.3 102.6 98.0 99.0
Nevada 91.7 96.6 91.0 93.1
Fresno St. 89.3 98.1 88.7 92.0
San Jose St. 89.3 92.9 89.2 90.5
Hawaii 87.4 91.6 87.7 88.9
UNLV 76.7 79.6 76.5 77.6
MWC Averages 92.2 94.7 91.8 92.9

And, here are the PiRate Ratings Won-Loss predictions and bowl projections.

PiRate Ratings Predicted Records
Pos Team Conf. Overall Bowl
Mountain Division
1 Boise St. 8-0 13-0 * Big Six
2 Utah St. 6-2 8-4 Las Vegas
3 New Mexico 4-4 7-5 New Mexico
4 Air Force 4-4 6-6 Arizona #
5 Colorado St. 3-5 5-7 None
6 Wyoming 1-7 3-9 None
West Division
1 San Diego St. 7-1 9-4 ^ Poinsettia
2 Nevada 5-3 7-5 Idaho Potato
3 Fresno St. 4-4 5-7 None
4 Hawaii 3-5 5-8 None
5 San Jose St. 3-5 4-8 None
6 UNLV 0-8 1-11 None
* Wins Title Game
^ Loses Title Game
# The Arizona Bowl does not have a sponsor and may be postponed

Coming Next: The American Athletic Conference

August 17, 2013

2013 Mountain West Conference Football Preview

2013 Mountain West Conference Preview

 

The Mountain West Conference expands to 12 teams this year and divides into two divisions with a championship game to be held on December 7 at the home field on the division winner with the higher BCS ranking.

 

The divisional split here is geographical in an east/west split, but the divisions are named, Mountain and West.  All Mountain teams reside in cities in the Mountain Time Zone, while all West Teams resided in cities in the Pacific Time Zone, or in the case of Hawaii, in the Hawaii Time Zone (2 hours behind the Pacific Time Zone).

 

Last year, Fresno St., San Diego St., and Boise St. tied for the conference title.  Throw in two new teams (both 11-2) that finished in the top 25 in last year’s final poll, and the league should be stronger this season, but not as strong as when TCU was in the league.

 

We expect a little changing of the guard this season.  We suspect Boise State to experience a rebuilding season and have their worst season in a decade.  It is the first time our ratings have not listed BSU as the top-rated team in their league since 2005.

 

This league has produced multiple BCS Bowl qualifiers, and we believe there is a good chance that one more team could challenge for a spot this season.  An October 26 road game against San Diego St. and a November 29 road game against San Jose St. and a win in the inaugural MWC title game are the three crucial games that must be victorious for Fresno St.  If the Bulldogs win those three games, they should be 13-0.  Our ratings have FSU favored in every game.

 

Additions: San Jose St. and Utah St. move from the now football defunct WAC.

 

Departures: None

 

Pre-season PiRate Ratings

 

Mountain West Conference

Mountain Division

Team

Conf.

Overall

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Utah St.

0-0

0-0

100.9

92.5

101.1

Boise St.

0-0

0-0

100.0

102.3

101.7

Colorado St.

0-0

0-0

90.3

94.4

90.8

Wyoming

0-0

0-0

85.8

85.6

85.9

Air Force

0-0

0-0

81.3

87.7

81.2

New Mexico

0-0

0-0

78.8

83.9

79.4

     

 

 

 

West Division

Team

Conf.

Overall

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Fresno St.

0-0

0-0

104.0

101.4

105.0

San Jose St.

0-0

0-0

100.3

94.9

100.7

San Diego St.

0-0

0-0

98.6

98.3

98.8

Nevada

0-0

0-0

88.5

96.2

89.5

U N L V

0-0

0-0

85.7

92.0

86.3

Hawaii

0-0

0-0

82.0

82.4

82.4

     

 

 

 

League Averages    

91.4

92.6

91.9

 

 

Official Pre-season Media Poll

Mountain Division    

Pos

Team

Points

1st Place

1

Boise St.

245

40

2

Utah St.

204

1

3

Air Force

143

0

4

Wyoming

116

0

5

Colorado St.

90

0

6

New Mexico

63

0

       
West Division    

Pos

Team

Points

1st Place

1

Fresno St.

243

39

2

San Diego St.

181

1

3

San Jose St.

172

1

4

Nevada

135

0

5

U N L V

71

0

6

Hawaii

59

0

 

     

 

2013 MOUNTAIN WEST FOOTBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Offense      
QB Derek Carr * Sr. Fresno State
WR Davante Adams * So. Fresno State
WR Noel Grigsby Sr. San José State
RB Kasey Carrier ** Sr. New Mexico
RB Adam Muema ** Jr. San Diego State
OL Charles Leno ** Sr. Boise State
OL Matt Paradis * Sr. Boise State
OL Weston Richburg Sr. Colorado State
OL Austin Wentworth * Sr. Fresno State
OL Tyler Larsen Sr. Utah State
TE Marcel Jensen Sr. Fresno State
       
Defense      
DL Demarcus Lawrence * Jr. Boise State
DL Tyeler Davison * Jr. Fresno State
DL Brock Hekking ** Jr. Nevada
DL Travis Raciti Jr. San José State
LB Jake Fely ** Jr. San Diego State
LB Keith Smith Sr. San José State
LB Kyler Fackrell So. Utah State
DB L.J. Jones Sr. Fresno State
DB Derron Smith * Jr. Fresno State
DB Nat Berhe ** Sr. San Diego State
DB Bené Benwikere Sr. San José State
       
Specialists    
P Ben Skaer Sr. New Mexico
PK Austin Lopez So. San José State
Ret. Chase Clayton Jr. New Mexico
       
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Derek Carr, Sr., QB, Fresno State
       
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Derron Smith, Jr., DB, Fresno State
       
Preseason Spcl Teams Player of the Year: Chase Clayton, Jr., KR, New Mexico
       
* – member of the 2012 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2012 All-Mountain West second team.

 

 

PiRate Ratings Summary

 

About Grades

93-100         A+

86-92           A

79-85           A-

72-78           B+

65-71           B

58-64           B-

51-57           C+

44-50           C

37-43           C-

30-36           D

0-29             F

 

About Predictions

Predictions are based on the PiRate Ratings with home field advantage factored in.  The PiRate Ratings use different home field advantages for every game, since the opponent factors into the equation.

 

Mountain Division

Team

Utah St. Aggies

               
Head Coach

Matt Wells

               
Colors

Navy and White

               
City

Logan, UT

               
2012 Record              
Conference

6-0 (in WAC)

Overall

11-2

               
Grades              
Run Offense

67

Pass Offense

63

Run Defense

75

Pass Defense

61

               
Ratings              
PiRate

100.9

Mean

92.5

Bias

101.1

               
Rankings              
PiRate

53

Mean

93

Bias

50

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1

Overall

8-5 (Lose MWC Championship Game)

 

 

Team

Boise St. Broncos

               
Head Coach

Chris Petersen

               
Colors

Blue and Orange

               
City

Boise, ID

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

11-2

               
Grades              
Run Offense

59

Pass Offense

67

Run Defense

63

Pass Defense

69

               
Ratings              
PiRate

100.0

Mean

102.3

Bias

101.7

               
Rankings              
PiRate

58

Mean

49

Bias

47

               
Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

7-5

 

 

Team

Colorado St. Rams

               
Head Coach

Jim McElwain

               
Colors

Forest Green and Gold

               
City

Ft. Collins, CO

               
2012 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

4-8

               
Grades              
Run Offense

55

Pass Offense

55

Run Defense

51

Pass Defense

59

               
Ratings              
PiRate

90.3

Mean

94.4

Bias

90.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

91

Mean

86

Bias

91

               
Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

7-5

 

 

Team

Wyoming Cowboys

               
Head Coach

Dave Christensen

               
Colors

Brown and Gold

               
City

Laramie, WY

               
2012 Record              
Conference

3-5

Overall

4-8

               
Grades              
Run Offense

41

Pass Offense

69

Run Defense

40

Pass Defense

68

               
Ratings              
PiRate

85.8

Mean

85.6

Bias

85.9

               
Rankings              
PiRate

103

Mean

114

Bias

105

               
Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

5-7

 

 

Team

Air Force Falcons

               
Head Coach

Troy Calhoun

               
Colors

Blue and Silver

               
City

Colorado Springs, CO

               
2012 Record              
Conference

5-3

Overall

6-7

               
Grades              
Run Offense

69

Pass Offense

28

Run Defense

43

Pass Defense

50

               
Ratings              
PiRate

81.3

Mean

87.7

Bias

81.2

               
Rankings              
PiRate

115

Mean

107

Bias

114

               
Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

3-9

 

 

Team

New Mexico Lobos

               
Head Coach

Bob Davie

               
Colors

Cherry and Silver

               
City

Albuquerque, NM

               
2012 Record              
Conference

1-7

Overall

4-9

               
Grades              
Run Offense

66

Pass Offense

26

Run Defense

45

Pass Defense

44

               
Ratings              
PiRate

78.8

Mean

83.8

Bias

79.4

               
Rankings              
PiRate

120

Mean

117

Bias

119

               
Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

2-10

 

 

Team

Fresno St. Bulldogs

               
Head Coach

Tim DeRuyter

               
Colors

Cardinal and Blue

               
City

Fresno, CA

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-4

               
Grades              
Run Offense

 

Pass Offense

 

Run Defense

 

Pass Defense

 

               
Ratings              
PiRate

104.0

Mean

101.4

Bias

105.0

               
Rankings              
PiRate

44

Mean

56

Bias

43

               
Prediction              
Conference

8-0

Overall

13-0 (win MWC title game)

 

 

Team

San Jose St. Spartans

               
Head Coach

Ron Caragher

               
Colors

Blue and Gold

               
City

San Jose

               
2012 Record              
Conference

5-1 (in WAC)

Overall

11-2

               
Grades              
Run Offense

39

Pass Offense

83

Run Defense

63

Pass Defense

69

               
Ratings              
PiRate

100.3

Mean

94.9

Bias

100.7

               
Rankings              
PiRate

56

Mean

85

Bias

55

               
Prediction              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-3

 

 

Team

San Diego St. Aztecs

               
Head Coach

Rocky Long

               
Colors

Red and Black

               
City

San Diego

               
2012 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-4

               
Grades              
Run Offense

62

Pass Offense

56

Run Defense

76

Pass Defense

63

               
Ratings              
PiRate

98.6

Mean

98.3

Bias

98.8

               
Rankings              
PiRate

66

Mean

66

Bias

65

               
Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

8-4

 

 

Team

Nevada Wolf Pack

               
Head Coach

Brian Polian

               
Colors

Blue and Silver

               
City

Reno, NV

               
2012 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

7-6

               
Grades              
Run Offense

 

Pass Offense

 

Run Defense

 

Pass Defense

 

               
Ratings              
PiRate

88.5

Mean

96.2

Bias

89.5

               
Rankings              
PiRate

97

Mean

80

Bias

96

               
Prediction              
Conference

3-5

Overall

4-8

 

 

Team

U N L V Rebels

               
Head Coach

Bobby Hauck

               
Colors

Scarlet and Gray

               
City

Las Vegas

               
2012 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

2-11

               
Grades              
Run Offense

55

Pass Offense

62

Run Defense

31

Pass Defense

51

               
Ratings              
PiRate

85.7

Mean

92.0

Bias

86.3

               
Rankings              
PiRate

104

Mean

95

Bias

103

               
Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

4-8

 

 

Team

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

               
Head Coach

Norm Chow

               
Colors

Green, Black, and Silver

               
City

Honolulu

               
2012 Record              
Conference

1-7

Overall

3-9

               
Grades              
Run Offense

27

Pass Offense

62

Run Defense

39

Pass Defense

53

               
Ratings              
PiRate

82.0

Mean

82.4

Bias

82.4

               
Rankings              
PiRate

114

Mean

120

Bias

113

               
Prediction              
Conference

0-8

Overall

1-11

 

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