The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

October 5, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 5-9, 2017

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 12:02 pm

Finally, the PiRates had a week to celebrate.  Playing strictly college games, it was quite a profitable week, albeit in imaginary currency.

Three of our five selections won, returning us $718 on our $500 invested for an ROI of 44%  The weekly success almost squared us for the season, as we are now just $83 down on $1,700 invested.  We are one additional successful week from possibly going from red to black figures for the season.

We have selected four parlays this week, all consisting of three-games apiece.  We will be experimenting with additional options this week to test a theory put forth by a mathematics department head of a local university, and if this theory shows some merit, we will discuss it at length in the near future.  For now, we will continue posting only money line parlays that give us better than +120 odds.

Every year, we look to see which games tend to give us the most success, and it is uncanny that two leagues tend to lead the way.  Would you ever guess that the Sun Belt Conference and Mid-American Conference have given us more winners than any of the Power 5 leagues?  Is it because these two leagues are more predictable, or is it because maybe the books do not always have the best gauge on these two conferences, and the numbers produce more favorable odds?  Unfortunately, we do not have enough data saved to give us a factual answer.  However, the percentages that we have saved tell us that we have a statistically important advantage when playing games among the MAC and SBC, so these two leagues will remain in the PiRate diet.

We will preface our picks for this week with the mild warning that we were not in 100% agreement on any of the picks this week, while we were solidly behind the three winning plays last week.  In actuality, we were not in 100% agreement on any potential 3-team parlay that produced greater than +120 odds.  The only parlay we all agreed on involved SIX games, at +205 odds.  Six sure things are seldom 100% sure.  It is most likely that one of the six could be upset, and our leader actually believes one of the six might be a great sides pick at +11 (off the record, he likes New Mexico State +11 vs. Appalachian State).

Here are our four parlays for the week.

#1@ +145  
Must Win Must Lose
Florida LSU
TCU West Virginia
Notre Dame North Carolina


#2@ +138  
Must Win Must Lose
Syracuse Pittsburgh
Michigan Michigan St.
Marshall Charlotte


#3@ +176  
Must Win Must Lose
Miami Florida St.
UTSA Southern Miss
Navy Air Force


#4@ +130  
Must Win Must Lose
Akron Ball St.
Idaho UL-Lafayette
Ohio U Central Mich.


Note–Once again, we are not issuing any NFL selections for the obvious reasons and the not-so-obvious reason that our NFL ratings have taken a 50%+ drop in readership.  This speaks loudly, and I hope the NFL brass are paying attention at the mass media with similar drops in patronage.

It is our editorial opinion that the NFL needs to instate a rule outlawing all publicly political opinions and statements during their games, just like most other retail establishments.  When you or we go to the grocery store to buy food, or go to your local insurance agent to renew your policies, none of us would expect to be issued any political litmus tests from either side of an issue, and we would quickly look elsewhere for our groceries or insurance if we did have to hear the employees and management deliver one-sided editorials, whether it was our identical belief or opposing belief. 

The NFL will only continue to lose patronage if they allow politicization in any way, on any side.  Football is just one of many avenues of entertainment.  The NFL has fallen behind trail hiking, reading good books, going shopping with our loved ones, visiting friends, and doing inventory (ugh) in the households of the Pirates.  The TVs have remained silent on Sundays and Monday nights.  Worse for the NFL, we all have discovered a much more enjoyable end to our weekends by not watching the games, something that may become addictive long after the impasse has been retired.  It takes a lot to win customers back after they have made the decision to leave.  Many companies never succeed in returning to what they once were once they experienced a large migration away from their establishment.

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 17, 2017

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017 NCAA Tournament Games

Team Team Red White Blue
West Virginia Notre Dame 6 4 1
Villanova Wisconsin 8 6 6
Gonzaga Northwestern 17 10 8
Florida St. Xavier 8 5 4
Butler Middle Tennessee 5 4 7
Arizona Saint Mary’s -2 -1 1
Florida Virginia 1 1 1
Purdue Iowa St. 1 2 1


Saturday’s TV Schedule

Time (EDT) Network Team vs. Team
12:10 PM CBS West Virginia vs. Notre Dame
2:40 PM CBS Villanova vs. Wisconsin
5:15 PM CBS Gonzaga vs. Northwestern
6:10 PM TNT Florida St. vs. Xavier
7:10 PM TBS Butler vs. Middle Tennessee
7:45 PM CBS Arizona vs. Saint Mary’s
8:40 PM TNT Florida vs. Virginia
9:40 PM TBS Purdue vs. Iowa St.



March 15, 2017

Red-White-Blue Ratings For Thursday’s NCAA Tournament Games


Team Team Red White Blue
Notre Dame Princeton 6 6 2
Virginia UNC-Wilmington 7 9 9
Butler Winthrop 10 9 10
Gonzaga South Dakota St. 24 21 15
West Virginia Bucknell 13 12 11
Florida East Tennessee St. 10 12 13
Minnesota Middle Tennessee 2 1 3
Northwestern Vanderbilt -1 -1 -5
Maryland Xavier -1 -1 -1
Villanova Mount St. Mary’s 22 23 21
Saint Mary’s VCU 5 6 4
Purdue Vermont 9 9 5
Florida St. Florida Gulf Coast 13 14 11
Wisconsin Virginia Tech 4 4 4
Arizona North Dakota 15 15 14
Iowa St. Nevada 6 6 6

January 16, 2017

The Best of the Best and Where They Might Be Vulnerable

Every year about this time, a group of anywhere from a half dozen to 30 college basketball teams rank as possible national title contenders.  In some years, only a handful of teams have reasonable title aspirations.  In some years, there are no clear cut favorites, and many teams could become Cinderella’s with the perfect fit for the glass slipper.

There has been a bit of a paradigm shift in college basketball the last two seasons.  It wasn’t much of a change, but lowering the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds has done a world of good for the game.  The 14% less time per possession has led to 8-12 more possessions per game for each team.  Teams that three years ago averaged 65 possessions per game are today pushing the ball to the tune of 80 possessions per game.

Contrary to what may have been predicted, offensive efficiency has not gone down.  It has gone up, because the layup and dunk off a fast break when the attacking team has a number’s advantage has led to more points per possession.  The offensive increase has once again made college basketball as exciting as it was in its hey days of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Also contrary to belief, the increased pace has not created a new UCLA dynasty in the men’s game like U Conn has done with the women’s side.  There are more than enough quality athletes throughout the nation and the world to make 100 teams competitive enough to win an NCAA Tournament game and 25 teams strong enough to reel off six consecutive wins after March 10.

We are not saying that the following 25 teams are the best 25 in the nation.  We have taken a sampling of the top teams from power conferences, the two or three current leaders from among the leagues just shy of being a power conference, as well as a couple of teams from mid-major conferences.

Today’s first look at the contenders will concentrate on showing you how the Four Factors and some of our own PiRate Ratings criteria can isolate where a contender might be vulnerable come NCAA Tournament time.  When it comes time for the teams to have one shining moment, the game changes a little.

In the past, teams that got to the Dance by beating opponents at the foul line sometimes floundered in the tournament, because officials let the players have a little more leeway before blowing their whistles.

Additionally, some teams that went 28-4 in the regular season but did so by running opponents out of the gym or holding onto the ball in a slower-paced offense found that quality opponents like they faced in the Dance did not succumb to their methods of operation.

Likewise, some full court pressure teams that entered the Dance with large scoring margin advantages (often padded by beating poor teams by 40 points), found that quality ball-control teams did not turn the ball over and allow these teams to score in transition.  These pressing teams had little half-court offense and quickly fell to teams that turned the ball over 10 times per game.

Today, we look at 25 chosen teams to tell you where they can exploit other quality teams, and also where they are vulnerable.  As you will see in this first look, there are no teams today that are not totally vulnerable in some way.  Thus, there is no clear-cut favorite to cut down the nets in Phoenix on April 3.  In point of fact, as we see it today, there are a couple dozen quality teams capable of making the Final Four, and yet all of these teams have an Achilles’ Heel and could lose before the Sweet 16 commences.

Before we get into the meat of this report, there could be a few readers not totally familiar with the Four Factors in basketball.  It is not rocket science.  The Four Factors (applies to both offense and defense) are:

  1. Field Goal Efficiency
  2. Turnover Rate
  3. Offensive Reboundin Rate
  4. Free Throw Rate

Field Goal Efficiency: [FGM+(3ptM * 0.5)]/FGA

Where FGM is field goals made; 3ptM is three-pointers made; and FGA is field goals attempted.  If your favorite team attempted 60 shots in a game and made 28 of these shots with 8 coming as three-pointers, then their FG Efficiency is [28+(8*0.5)]/60 which equals .533 or 53.3%

The difference between the offensive FG efficiency and the defensive FG efficiency is the FG efficiency margin.  This is by far the most important contributory part to winning in basketball, which is obvious, since the object of the game is to put the ball in the basket and score points, while limiting the opponents from putting the ball in the basket.

Turnover Rate:  TOV/100 Possessions figured as:  [TOV/(FGA+(FTA*0.475)+TOV]*100 and expressed as a percentage

This is a simple metric.  All it seeks to discover is how many turnovers does a team commit for every 1oo possessions.  There is a small adjustment in what qualifies as a possession for this metric as opposed to actual possessions.  Offensive rebounds are not factored into the possession counting here, as once a team secures an offensive rebound, they have already attempted a shot without committing a turnover.  The chance for a turnover after this is limited and can skew the real rate at which a team turns the ball over or forces their opponent to turn the ball over.

If your team committed 14 turnovers in a game in which they took 60 field goal attempts and 25 free throw attempts, their turnover rate for that game was: [14/(60+(25*.475)+14]*10o which comes to: 16.3%

Offensive Rebounding Rate: [OR/(OR+ Opponents’ DR)]*100, 

Where OR is offensive rebounds and DR is defensive rebounds.

If your team had 12 offensive rebounds, and their opponent had 32 defensive rebounds, your team’s offensive rebounding rate was: [12/(12+32)] * 100 which is 27.3%

Obviously, the compliment to this is defensive rebounding rate, which is the same formula applied to the opponents’ rebounding.

Free Throw Rate: FTM/100 Possessions or (FTM/[FGA+(FTA*0.475)-OR+TOV]) *100

There is a difference of opinion on how the expert analytics gurus figure this metric.  Some simple use FTA/FGA.  Some prefer FTM/FGA.  We have heard arguments in favor of both of these metrics, but we really liked a paper written by The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective’s John Ezekowitz, who argued for the metric we chose above in his February 21, 2011, paper entitled Re-examining The Four Factors: The Case For Free Throws Made Per 100 Possessions.

Putting It All Together

The key to the four factors is finding an algorithm in which the results of each team can be turned into some form of a rating or to produce a spread for a game between teams.  What good is it to know that Team A has X, Y, Z, and W rates in the four factors, and their opponent has a little better X and Z, and weaker Y and W rates.  So, where does that get us?  Only when the Four Factors can be turned into a rating of some sort is the data useful to the fan.

The PiRates tried for a few years to come up with an accurate rating from the Four Factors.  Our original mistake was assuming the different factors would not affect the college game any different than it does the NBA, where the numbers were determined to be 40% FG efficiency, 25% turnover rate, 20% offensive rebounding rate, and 15% free throw rate.

This did not make for an accurate rating when applied to college teams and uses to compare them in a point spread sort of way.  Whereas the NBA teams basically play equal schedules in terms of strengths of opponents (once enough games had been played), this cannot be said of the college game, where one team’s schedule could be as much as 20 points per game stronger than another team’s schedule.  Also, in the NBA, every team plays 41 home games and 41 road games.  The top college teams might schedule 19 home games, 3 neutral games, and just 9 road games.

We also realized that not all turnovers are the same.  A steal is worth more than any other type of turnover, because the ball remains live, and the defense frequently finds itself with a 2 on 1 or 3 on 2 fast break opportunity following a high percentage of their steals.  In the college game, more full court pressure can lead to steals that produce a lot of easy baskets, whereas in the NBA, this is a rare occurrence.

After much trial and error, we came up with three separate algorithms that when back-tested in past seasons produced acceptable predictive results.

Now, we can take a look at these 25 teams and make some assumptions based on their four factors data to date.  We can add some PiRate Rating data (like our unique R+T formula) to polish our beliefs.

The numbers you see below are our Blue Rating Scores for each of the Four Factors plus the Strength of Schedule score, the R+T rating, and the teams rating in true road and neutral games (neutral games when a team plays in another gym in their area against an out of town team does not count–like Kansas playing a Big East team in Kansas City).


Cincinnati: FG 6.4  TO 0.8  OR 0.6  FT 0.2  SOS 56.1  R+T 18.4 Rd W-L 4-2

The Bearcats do not excel in any one factor, but they are better than average in all factors.  Their SOS is good but not great, and their R+T rating is very good.  They will benefit from having extra scoring opportunities.  Cinti will run into trouble against big muscle teams from the power conferences, and they will struggle against teams that play choking man to man defense.  However, this team has enough talent to make it to the second weekend of the Big Dance.


Virginia: FG 12.0   TO 4.7   OR 4.3   FT -1.2   SOS 59.6   R+T 16.2   Rd W-L 6-1

The Cavaliers are going to be a tough out for any opponent in the NCAA Tournament.  Their style of defense will destroy teams that cannot shoot from the perimeter, and the Cavs will also exploit teams that do not have excellent passers.  To beat UVa, you must be able to pass the ball quick enough from the strong side to the weak side and then penetrate their interior defense for either an open look inside or a pass to a wide open three-point shooter.  Virginia will not beat itself.  Wisconsin and Arizona could be trouble for the Cavs, whereas Virginia could be a tough out for a team like Florida.

North Carolina: FG 6.4  TO 3.7   OR 17.4   FT 7.7   SOS 58.9   R+T 33.6   Rd W-L 7-3

The Tar Heels have the look of a Final Four team.  However, they have some small vulnerabilities.  First, they are not the best shooting team in Chapel Hill history, in fact far from it.  They do make up for this by being the best offensive rebounding team in college basketball.  They are not that shabby in the turnover department either, and thus, they have the best R+T rating in many years.  By the time the season moves into March, UNC will either be unbeatable and peaking at the right time or a major disappointment due to fatigue and injuries.  This is one team we cannot see losing prior to the Sweet 16, as they will be a 1 or 2 seed and no 15 or 16 seed can compete with them, with only a slim chance that a 7 or 8 seed can keep a game within single digits.

The team that beats UNC will be the team that can muscle their way under the basket and make the rebounding part of the equation only a minor Tar Heel victory.  Said team will also have to force the Heels into a few more turnovers than normal and produce some quick points off those turnovers.  West Virginia and Kentucky are the teams that will give UNC fits, while a great shooting team like UCLA or Gonzaga will find that they must do more than shoot lights out to beat this team.

Florida St.: FG 11.2   TO 2.8   OR 2.5   FT 2.4   SOS 58.6   R+T 15.6   Rd W-L 4-2

The Seminoles are going to be a tough match-up for teams outside the ACC that have never played against them.  Their style of play will lead to large victories in the early rounds of the tournament, but once FSU faces stiff competition, their inconsistent style of play will hurt their chances.  There will be many teams with a resume similar to theirs from amongst the power leagues.  FSU will be more like a poor man’s Kentucky.  They might win by 20-30 in the opening game, and they might make it to the Sweet 16 by way of a double digit win in their next game, but once they get to the Sweet 16, the Seminoles should be a quick out against a quality opponent like Villanova, Kansas, or Oregon.

Louisville: FG 6.5   TO 4.8  OR 7.9   FT 1.7   SOS 62.9   R+T 20.3   Rd W-L 5-2

Don’t dismiss this edition of Cardinals.  Rick Pitino knows how to coach in March, and there is enough talent at the Yum Center to guide UL to the Final Four.  The Cards have played a tough schedule to date and pulling off numbers like their current Four Factors against the opposition they have faced is a sign of a top 10 team.  In most years, these numbers would be the best in the nation, and even in a year where there are many great teams, these numbers stick out as among the best.

To beat the Cards, it is going to take a team that can shut off their inside game and force UL to beat them from the perimeter.  Not many teams can do this, but there are some potential teams out there that can send the Cards home, such as Virginia from their own league, Oregon, and Purdue.

Notre Dame: FG 8.5   TO 4.0   OR 0.2   FT 3.8   SOS 56.3   R+T 11.2   Rd W-L 5-2

The Fighting Irish have been consistently good for several years but with also a consistent liability.  Notre Dame has not been a dominant rebounding team since Digger Phelps retired.  While, the Irish have numbers strong enough to indicate they are Sweet 16 worthy, they do not have the dominating inside game that will get them to Phoenix.  A host of quality teams are out there that can hit the glass and limit ND to one shot per possession, and the Irish are bound to face one of them if they make it to the Sweet 16.  Baylor, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Kentucky could send Mike Brey’s bunch home to Indiana.  On the other hand, Notre Dame could be a tough opponent for UCLA, Villanova, or Maryland.

Big 12

West Virginia: FG 7.2    TO 16.0   OR 5.8   FT 5.1   SOS 53.7   R+T 27.2   Rd W-L 5-2

The jury is still out on this team, even though our PiRate Blue metrics say that Coach Bob Huggins has the currently top team in the land.  Huggie Bear’s Mountaineers have to prove they can sustain these fat metric ratings against the top teams.  WVU’s SOS is rather low for a Power Conference team, and they have yet to face Kansas or any tough team on enemy hardwood.  Their toughest road game to date came against Texas Tech, and they flunked that exam.

If WVU can keep their TO rate at astronomically high numbers and also maintain their better than average rebound rate, they are capable of making it to Phoenix.  Whereas many pressing teams eventually run into a team that does not fret the pressure and actually exploits it for points, WVU is more than your typical on the line/up the line gimmick defense.  This team can win by dominating on the glass, getting the ball inside for easy baskets, hitting the three, and playing strong half-court defense.  Once again, until they play Kansas a couple times, Kansas State on the road, as well as road trips to Iowa State and Baylor, it is too early to make a logical call on this team.

Baylor: FG 11.1   TO -0.2   OR 9.5   FT 8.1   SOS 61.8   R+T 20.5   Rd W-L 6-1


Scott Drew has been to the Elite 8 before, and this Baylor team looks like his next Elite 8 club.  Until the Bears face a team that can force the issue and pressure the ball, they look like a favorite to advance in each round.  As West Virginia showed, Baylor is not equipped to handle crazy pressure.  Other teams that might exploit this weakness include Virginia, Butler, Kentucky, and Florida.  And, if a mid-major like UNC-Wilmington or Middle Tennessee meets the Bears in the round of 32, Baylor will have to bring their A-game to avoid a major upset loss.

Kansas: FG 11.2   TO 1.7   OR 6.2  FT 0.1   SOS 59.1   R+T 16.4   Rd W-L  4-1

The Jayhawks have been flying under the radar if that is possible, but now that KU has ascended to the top of the charts, they will be on the center stage every game they occupy the penthouse.  Bill Self always has a contender in Lawrence, so this should come as no surprise when we say that the Jayhawks have the right stuff to make it all the way to the Final Four.  They can shoot the ball with the best of them, and they can defend the ball with the best of them.  They are not world-beaters anywhere else, but their other metrics are quite strong.  And, they have produced these numbers against a very good schedule.  KU has another big bonus, something they had when they won the title back in 1988.  With a star like Frank Mason III, teams will have to concentrate and dedicate another defender to stop this star.  That might work against some teams, but KU has five or six other players that can carry the team, so it is impossible to really double up on Mason.  If you are old enough to remember 1988, this reminds us of Danny Manning.

Big East

Villanova: FG 12.1   TO 1.6   OR 4.1    FT 9.6   SOS 61.1    R+T 16.1    Rd W-L 8-1

The Wildcats have proven so far this year to be good enough to repeat as National Champions, and in point of fact, at this point in the season compared to last year, they are a better team.  The rub is that so are about 30 other dominating teams.  VU has been putting teams away by getting their regulars into foul trouble from making quick moves to the basket.  Unlike other teams with very high FT rates, they are less likely to suffer from how the game is called differently in the Big Dance, because officials will blow their whistles on drives to the basket that produce contact.

Considering ‘Nova has put up these gaudy numbers against A+ competition, and they have an 8-1 record away from Philly, they are more than capable of making it back to Phoenix.  But, as Alabama just found out in football, getting back to the title game and winning it, are in different universes.  Villanova wants no part of North Carolina in a rematch.

Creighton: FG 12.5   TO 2.7   OR -3.4   FT 2.7    SOS 58.8   R+T 7.3    Rd W-L 7-0

Every year, one or two highly-rated teams gets sent home from the Dance early by a mid-major team that can exploit the power team’s weakness.  Creighton has the resume of a power team that could be susceptible to an early round loss.  Their negative rebounding rate might be covered up by other assets during the regular season, but come tournament time, just about every opponent they might face will be able to exploit this poor metric.  If their TO rate was really good, they could overcome this liability, but this is not the case, as the Blue Jays are just average or a little below in this department as well.  Their R+T rating is too low to make it to the Elite 8, and the Sweet 16 is their ceiling.  If they make it to the Sweet 16, teams like Baylor, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Kentucky can beat them by double digits.

Butler: FG 6.5   TO 5.1   OR 0.1   FT 2.1   SOS 61.3  R+T 10.0   Rd W-L 5-3

When Butler made back-to-back appearances in the National Championship Game, their Four Factors numbers were consistently good but not outstanding in any category.  This Butler team has somewhat inconsistent numbers compared to those Bulldog teams, but at the same time, they are stronger in the turnover rates and have played a much tougher schedule to date than those teams that won five tournament games.

Butler is probably a little too inconsistent this year to win five games and make it to the championship.  They might be better equipped to beat a North Carolina or Kansas than the 2010 and 2011 teams, but this Bulldog edition could easily stub its toe right out of the gates and not get a chance to upset teams like the 2010 and 2011 teams did (Syracuse, Kansas State, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Florida).

Big Ten

The Big Ten has been able to make it to the Final Four multiple times in recent years, but no league team has cut down the nets since Michigan State in 2000 (Maryland was in the ACC when they won in 2002).  There are a couple teams this year capable of giving it a good try.

Wisconsin: FG 8.9  TO 3.9  OR 15.9   FT 2.6    SOS 52.7  R+T 28.8   Rd W-L 4-3

The Badgers have played a rather weak schedule to date, and that could send their current numbers much lower once the better Big Ten opponents have been faced away from Madison.  With Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, and Nigel Hayes, the Badgers have a trio of quality players good enough to carry them to the Final Four.  In past years, overall team speed was an issue with this team, but the Badgers have quickness, finesse, and power this year.  UW has been much, much better at home than away from home, and a lot of teams that go 18-0 at home and 9-6 away from home leave the Dance early.  A quality team that is headed to the Elite 8 usually wins 70% or more of its games away from home, and UW is just 4-3 at this point.  Of course, those three losses came to Creighton, North Carolina, and Purdue.  Recent road wins against Marquette and Indiana could be an indication that UW is on the verge of breaking out and becoming a serious contender.

Maryland: FG 6.1  TO 0.5   OR 3.4  FT 7.5  SOS 56.4   R+T 8.8  Rd W-L 6-0

An aside: Back in the days when only one team per conference went to the NCAA Tournament, Maryland had a team that was good enough to win the national championship but was just a couple points away from getting a chance to play in it.  The 1974 Terrapins went 23-5.  Their five losses represent the best five-loss team in history.  Loss number one came at the hands of #1 UCLA in Pauley Pavillion to open the season (Bruins had won more than 70 consecutive games), in a game in which the officiating was very generous to the Bruins and yet UM lost by just one point and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer.  Loss number two came at North Carolina State, who had won 35 of its previous 36 games (lone loss to UCLA) and who would be the eventual national champs.  This loss was a six-point loss, and the Terps led this game into the second half before a Wolf Pack rally won it for the home team.  Loss number three came on the road against #4 North Carolina, yet another contest where UM had a chance to win until late in the second half.  The Terps only home loss came against NC State, who by now would not lose again until the following season.  This loss to the Pack was another close affair with UM losing by six after leading in the second half.  You can probably guess where loss number five came.  Once again, NC State topped UM in the ACC Championship Game in what is probably the best every ACC Title game.  State won by a score of 103-100 in overtime.  Maryland’s 23 wins were mostly lopsided affairs.  Even the two other contests against North Carolina were not close, as the Terps won by 11 in College Park and by 20 in Greensboro in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

What has that got to do with this year’s Terp team?  Nothing, except this year’s UM team will be in the Big Dance even if they do not win the Big Ten Tournament or the regular season title.  However, this year’s UM team is primed to be an early round upset loser, because it is nowhere near as talented as that 1974 team that featured John Lucas, Tom McMillen, and Len Elmore.  That UM team out-shot quality opposition by 11%, out-rebounded them by 11 per game, and outscored them by 17 points per game.

Purdue: FG 10.1  TO -0.7  OR 10.5  FT 8.3   SOS 55.9  R+T 19.7   Rd W-L 5-2

We could give another history lesson on this Big Ten team.  Purdue has been to the Final Four twice before, but both times, it was with teams that played an entirely different style of basketball from this team and from all the teams during the Gene Keady era.

We have a lot of respect for Coach Keady and his successful disciples, including current Boilermaker coach Matt Painter.  However, history has not been kind to the “Keady system” in NCAA Tournament history.  Purdue never made it to the Final Four with all the highly-ranked teams of the 1980’s and 1990’s and seldom made it past the second game.  Case in point, last year, the Boilermakers left the Dance immediately, losing to Arkansas-Little Rock in their first game.

Why is it that Purdue has under-performed so consistently for so many years?  Coach Keady and his disciples strongly advocate an intelligent offensive half-court set and tough man-to-man defense to prevent good shots.  That works well in the regular season, as teams like this routinely play smart ball and beat all the teams they are supposed to beat, and even upset some better teams.  But, when you get into the second week of March, the opposition is usually as good as you at shooting and preventing good shots.  Games are more frequently decided by which team gets more opportunities to shoot.  Thus rebounding and turnover margin play significantly more important roles than they do in the regular season.  Purdue has not been a consistently tough team on the boards, and they do not pressure the passing lanes.

This year’s Boilermaker squad is one of the best rebounding teams in Mackey Arena in a long time, but once again, PU is stinking it up in the turnover rate metric.  The rebounding strength could get Painter’s squad past the first game and maybe even into the Sweet 16, but when the Boilermakers run into a team like Butler, Kentucky, or Florida, or even a Mid-major like UNC-Wilmington or Middle Tennessee, they are going to have a tough time advancing.  And, should they find West Virginia in their bracket…..


UCLA: FG 14.2   TO 0.3   OR -1.0   FT 3.2   SOS 53.4   R+T 10.0   Rd W-L 8-1

This might be the most exciting team to watch, but this UCLA team suffers from the same issues that Purdue suffers from as stated above.  When the Bruins are hot, they can put any team away, and their win at Kentucky showed this.  However, they will run into defenses that can slow them down when they get to March, and the Bruins do not have what it takes to get additional scoring chances through rebounding and turnover margin.  Additionally, the Bruins have played a lot of cupcakes this year, and a lot of their shooting stats have been aided by playing weak defensive teams.  Until they are ousted thought, Lonzo Ball and company promise to give the fan his or her money’s worth.

Oregon: FG 10.2   TO 3.0   OR 7.5   FT 6.5   SOS 57.1   R+T 19.5   Rd W-L 5-2

The Ducks could be a contender for the Final Four.  After a slow start, Oregon has now won 14 consecutive games and looks like the team the pundits expected they would be this season.  The Ducks have a really tough closing stretch in the regular season with seven consecutive tough games between February 4 and 25.  Included in this slate is a three-game stretch against Arizona, UCLA, and USC, with the latter two on the road.  If Oregon can come through this three-week stretch without injuries or undue fatigue, this team can repeat its performance of last year and maybe make it one round past what it did last year.  That would mean they make it to Phoenix.

Arizona: FG  8.3  TO 0.6   OR 7.3   FT 10.4   SOS 58.1   R+T 20.2   Rd W-L 5-2

At first glance, Arizona’s numbers don’t look much different than Oregon’s above.  Look a little closer.  This is a team that relies a bit too much on free throw rate and is vulnerable against a team that can pressure the ball and force turnovers.  Arizona wants no part of West Virginia, but they could fall prey to a lesser pressure team or a team that turns the ball over less than 10 times a game like Virginia.  In their loss to Gonzaga, the Wildcats turned the ball over nine times in the first half and didn’t shoot well, and Gonzaga pulled out to a double digit lead.  Arizona did get to the foul line several times, but they missed too many foul shots to get back in the game.  This is likely to happen to them in an NCAA Sweet 16 game if UA makes it that far.


Kentucky: FG  9.1  TO 6.7   OR 7.4   FT 4.7   SOS 61.1   R+T 22.3   Rd W-L 6-1

This is always a tough team to figure out.  Annually, John Calipari recruits the top talent in the nation to Lexington, and Kentucky has better talent than every team on its schedule.  However, that talent is almost always freshmen, and even five McDonald’s All-Americans as college freshmen are bound to play a bit inconsistently.  On any given night, these future NBA stars are liable to blow out an average team by 30 to 40 points.  On any given night, these future NBA stars are liable to fiddle around and allow a mediocre team to stay in contention.

In Kentucky’s favor, these freshmen will have 33 to 35 games of experience by the time the NCAA Tournament begins, and the Wildcats will have a 1 or 2 seed, able to get to the Sweet 16 just by showing up.  Once at the Sweet 16, this team will have the talent and tools to keep winning, but they will still be just raw enough to lay an egg and go home with a disappointing loss.

It will take a muscle team to beat Kentucky, one that can throw its weight around on the glass, make their fouls count more like unnecessary roughness penalties in football, and has the ability to outscore the Wildcats from behind the arc.

Florida: FG 3.1  TO 6.6  OR 1.7   FT 8.9   SOS 63.0   R+T 11.4   Rd W-L 8-3

Here is a really interesting team.  At first glance, this Florida team looks like many of the Florida teams under former coach Billy Donovan.  The Gators’ ball-hawking defense tends to lead to more scoring opportunities for the orange and blue than for their opponents.  However, the really good Gator teams under Donovan played incredible half-court defense.  This Gator team is a bit weak defending inside, and that will be their downfall in March.  The Gators are adequate but not great shooting the ball, and when they don’t force a turnover, they are not great at stopping the ball from going through the opponents’ basket.

One thing in UF’s favor is their schedule has prepared them to play top-flight teams.  Outside of the league Florida played Seton Hall, Miami, Gonzaga, Florida State, and Duke.

South Carolina: FG 7.8   TO 4.9   OR 4.6   FT -5.4   SOS 56.2   R+T 13.9   Rd W-L 4-2

You have to look at South Carolina’s statistics a bit differently than just viewing their numbers.  This is a tale of two teams.  There is the USC team that is 11-0 when its best player, Sindarius Thornwell has been healthy enough to play, and there is the USC team that is 3-3 when Thornwell has not played.

The bad news for SEC teams is that Thornwell is close to 100% well again, and the Gamecocks are 4-0 in the league because of it.  A healthy Thornwell is a threat to record a triple double or score 20 points and pull down a dozen boards, while playing exemplary defense.

If the Gamecocks stay healthy this year, they look like a near lock to make the Dance, and once they get there, we have faith in Coach Frank Martin that they will play multiple games.  USC’s defense is tournament worthy, and they have just enough offense to pull away in the second half.  Their major liability is at the foul line, where they commit more than an average number of fouls.  However, this stat suffered considerably during Thornwell’s absence.  Since his return, the Gamecocks have a much better showing.

The Rest

Gonzaga: FG 15.6  TO 1.6   OR  2.6  FT 5.6   SOS 55.9  R+T 16.9   Rd W-L 7-0

Gonzaga faces a similar task that Wichita State faced in 2014, when they went 34-0 in the regular season.  The Bulldogs are the last undefeated team standing at 17-0, and the way they dominated St. Mary’s Saturday night, many sports professionals are calling for an undefeated regular season.  They still have to go to St. Mary’s, and they have to play at BYU, so they could still lose one or two regular season games this year.

Gonzaga has been a number one seed before as well as the top-ranked team in the nation, and things did not go all that well for the Bulldogs.  In 2013, the Zags entered NCAA Tournament play with a 31-2 record.  They almost became the first number one seed to lose to a 16-seed, when they had to hold on to narrowly edge Southern University in the Round of 64.  Then, GU fell in the Round of 32 to Wichita State, and the Shockers rolled to the Final Four from there.

Might things be different this year for Mark Few’s squad?  Gonzaga looks a lot like UCLA.  They are not quite as good shooting the ball, but they are a tad better defending the ball.  They are considerably better on the boards, but by the time the Dance begins to tap, their strength of schedule will have dropped to a point where they may not be ready to face a quality team in the Sweet 16.  The Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga team that made it to the Elite 8 was more equipped for the tournament than this year’s squad, so we believe Gonzaga will fall in the Sweet 16 round.

Nevada: FG 5.4   TO -1.8   OR 3.5   FT 9.8   SOS 52.3   R+T 8.0   Rd W-L 8-3

If you consider Gonzaga not to be a mid-major, then Nevada is the best non Power Conference team in the West this year, but the Wolfpack are a paper tiger.  They do not have the numbers to be a serious contender like some former Mountain West Conference teams in the past.  Their low R+T number coming from a below average schedule strength means Nevada is likely to exit the Dance quickly and by double digits.  We wanted to include them here today so you can compare them to the two mid-majors most likely to advance to the second weekend this year.

UNC-Wilmington: FG 3.8   TO 7.1   OR 3.7   FT -2.0  SOS 51.2   R+T 12.9  Rd W-L 9-2

UNCW gave Duke a big scare last year in the Round of 64, and this year’s team is better, capable of making a run to the Sweet 16.  Coach Kevin Keatts is a Rick Pitino disciple, and we would not be shocked to see Keatts taking over a big time program sooner rather than later.  He has all the tools to be a star on the big stage, and his team plays like it deserves a shot on basketball’s Broadway.

UNCW’s biggest liability is their negative FT rate.  This has come about because the Seahawks commit a lot of fouls with their pressure defense.  We tend to believe that some of this has been because they have played a lot of games on the road, where the officials whistled them for more fouls than they would have received had they been at home.  When the NCAA Tournament begins, a lot of the plays in which they might have been whistled for a foul in the regular season will no longer draw a foul call.

UNCW is the poor man’s West Virginia, and they could easily be this year’s Stephen F. Austin.  Beware if your favorite big time program makes the Tournament and they draw this team, and your team is like Purdue, Baylor, UCLA, Arizona, or Creighton.  The Seahawk press can produce a quick burst of points and put your team behind the eight ball.

Middle Tennessee: FG 3.7  TO 5.0  OR 7.4  FT -2.5  SOS 56.3  R+T 17.5  Rd W-L 8-1

If you like UNCW’s chances, then you’ll love Middle Tennessee’s chances this year.  This is the CUSA team that upset Michigan State in last year’s tournament, and this year’s Blue Raider squad is maybe 10 points better than last year’s group.  Middle Tennessee actually played UNCW over the Thanksgiving holiday and beat the Seahawks by five.  The Blue Raiders went on the road to Ole Miss and destroyed the Rebels in the first half with a 29-point halftime lead before coasting to a 15-point win.  They repeated the performance against SEC neighbor Vanderbilt winning by 23 and never being challenged.

The Blue Raiders could have 30 wins when the NCAA Tournament begins, and it would not surprise us if they receive a seed as high as 9 or 10.  Of course, this would mean they would play a 1 or 2 seed in the Round of 32 should they win their first game.  The Blue Raiders’ fans should root for your team to draw a team like Purdue, Notre Dame, Creighton, Butler, or Maryland in the first game and not someone like West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Oregon, or Kentucky.  Of course, these teams are most likely to be encountered after the opening game, which means the Blue Raiders should be a hot pick in the Round of 64.

We did not include the 25 best teams in this presentation.  There are many other quality teams like Indiana, Duke, Miami, TCU, Xavier, Akron, Illinois State, California, Utah, USC, and New Mexico State.

We hope you enjoyed this piece and learned a little about how the Four Factors has been part of the new analytical study of basketball.

Coming Friday: We take our next stab at the Field of 68, and if we can get our gurus to send us the information in time, we will debut our annual Bracketology Guru report.  Shout out to the Gurus that have not done so–please return the email we sent you to tell us if you plan to participate this year.  If we do not have enough information to debut our guru composite, we will attempt to select 68 teams ourselves.

November 30, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–December 2-5, 2016

Throughout this season, our college parlay picks have been our bread and butter until last week.  Last week, we made six parlay selections, four with college teams and two with NFL teams.  We won with one of the three college parlays but we won both the NFL Parlays to finish the week with a tidy profit.

For the week, we invested $600 imaginary dollars, and the three wins returned $755 for a profit of $155 and a return on investment of 26%.  For the year, that moved our total ROI of 7% on a profit of $407 on an investment of $5,500.

With the number of college games dwindling down, we will only issue three parlay selections this week.

December 2-5, 2016
1. College Parlay at +362
West Virginia over Baylor
W. Kentucky over La. Tech
Wyoming over San Diego St.
2. College Parlay at +269
South Alabama over N. Mexico St.
Troy over Georgia Southern
Oklahoma over Oklahoma St.
Idaho over Georgia St.
Clemson over Virgina Tech
3. NFL Parlay at +122
Denver over Jacksonville
Green Bay over Houston
New England over Los Angeles

October 24, 2016

College Football Ratings & Spreads For October 27-29, 2016

End of the Month Conference Inventory & Bowl Outlook
A big turn of events over the weekend changed the landscape of the projected playoffs, as Penn St. put Ohio St. in major jeopardy. Should Ohio St. beat Michigan, and the three teams finish in a tie for first place, and Nebraska loses a game prior to the Big Ten Championship Game, the league could see itself left out in the cold. Let’s take a look at all the conference races, starting with the Group of 5 leagues.

American Athletic Conference
Following a win at Central Florida, Temple’s victory over South Florida on Saturday puts the Owls in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Division. TU could win out to finish the regular season at 7-1 in the league and 9-3 overall, advancing to the conference championship game.

USF and UCF will most likely decide second place in the East when the two rivals face off at the end of the year. Cincinnati is still in contention for bowl eligibility, but the Bearcats have a difficult final month and could lose out against a slate featuring Temple, Central Florida, and Tulsa on the road and BYU and Memphis at home. Cinti must win two of these games to get to 6-6, and for now we are picking the Bearcats to fall short. Connecticut and East Carolina don’t have enough winnable games remaining to get to 6-6.

In the West, Houston is almost out of the race now after SMU shocked them in Dallas. Navy is in the driver’s seat with its win over Memphis, while Tulsa is the only serious contender to the Midshipmen. Tulsa must win at Memphis this weekend to make the game with Navy on November 12 the division title game.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 7

Conference USA
Both divisions are very much up for grabs with multiple teams still alive in the race to the conference title game. In the East, Western Kentucky hung 52 first half points on Old Dominion to knock the Monarchs off the perch as the last CUSA unbeaten team. Now, WKU, ODU, Middle Tennessee, and Florida Int’l. all have a conference loss. Middle Tennessee plays at FIU this week; Western plays at Florida Atlantic, and ODU plays at UTEP. If the three favorites win as we think they will, it will make this division a three-team race in November, and all three teams could win out at that point. For now, we will take the Hilltoppers to win the division.

The West is just as interesting as the East with Louisiana Tech, Southern Mississippi, and North Texas all with one conference loss. The schedule favors the Mean Green, and North Texas looks like the strongest team in the division at this point. Coach Seth Luttrell is in his first year in Denton, after serving as an assistant at Texas Tech, and he should be the easy Coach of the Year in this league after his team was picked to finish last.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 6

What looked like three for sure bowl spots going to Independents now could be reduced to just one. BYU is in good shape to gain bowl eligibility and earn their basically automatic bid to the Poinsettia Bowl. Army was on the way to bowl eligibility, but the Black Knights have fallen on hard times in recent weeks. At 4-3, the Cadets must get to 7-5 to be bowl eligible due to their playing two FCS teams this year. This means, they must win twice from among Wake Forest, Air Force, Notre Dame, and Navy plus Morgan State to go bowling. Of course, there is the caveat that if they should fall one win short at 6-6 but not enough teams earn bowl eligibility, they could still get a bowl bid as an alternate before any 5-7 teams are considered.

Notre Dame looks like a 5-7 team at best. The question is, “would the school accept a bowl bid at 5-7, if their high APR score allows them to qualify for a bowl as an alternate?” For now, we are going with the Irish to accept a bowl at 5-7 if they are so needed to fill out the field of 80.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 1 but with Army and Notre Dame receiving bids as non-qualifying alternates

Mid-American Conference
It’s all about the Broncos, no trouble. Western Michigan looks like the odds-on favorite to run the table to finish the season 13-0 and take the Group of 5 automatic bid to a New Year’s 6 Bowl. Coach P.J. Fleck could receive national coach of the year consideration, and WMU could see a top 10 regular season finish in the rankings before the Cotton Bowl bid they would receive. The Broncos own wins at Northwestern and at Illinois this year, so they will not be a pushover for a possible 11-1 opponent from a Power 5 league.

The race in the Western Division is not done just yet. Toledo is still undefeated in league play, and the Rockets close the regular season playing at WMU on Black Friday. The entire Western Division is still alive for bowl eligibility, but it looks like four of the six will make it, while two don’t. Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan are the two most likely to top six wins.

The Eastern Division is down to two teams in contention for both the divisional crown and bowl eligibility. Ohio and Akron might be the sixth and seventh best teams in the MAC, but the winner of their contest on November 22 at Peden Stadium in Athens will decide which team gets to be fodder for WMU in the conference championship game.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 6

Mountain West Conference
Boise State is the current leader for the Group of 5 NY6 Bowl bid, but the PiRates believe the Broncos are going to stub their toes somewhere before December 3. In fact, the way BSU has played in recent weeks, we can see a scenario where they do not even win the division.

Wyoming is the team playing well enough to knock BSU off the perch. The Cowboys are riding a powerful offense and an opportunistic defense under Coach Craig Bohl and sit with a 3-0 league mark. Boise State plays the Cowboys in Laramie this week, and the winner should take the division flag.

The entire Mountain Division could finish 6-6 or better overall. Air Force started hot and has fallen on hard times in October, but the Falcons need just two more wins and have Fresno State and San Jose State on the remaining schedule. Colorado State and New Mexico also need just two more wins to get to 6-6, and that is what we believe both will get. Utah State is 3-4 and needs three more wins, but the Aggies might be fortunate with just two more wins. At 5-7, USU could still earn a bowl as an alternate due to their acceptable APR score.

The West Division looks cut and dry at this point. San Diego State can already start preparing for the MWC Championship Game. The Aztecs’ only competitor for the division crown is Hawaii, and the game between the two teams will be at Qualcomm Stadium in two weeks.

With a home loss to Colorado State, UNLV is now most likely out of the bowl picture. A 5-7 record won’t work for the Rebels due to a low APR score.

The MWC gets six bowl bids, and if Boise State does not earn the NY6 bowl bid, there will be one extra team available as an at-large candidate for another bowl. Most likely, this will be a bowl east of the Mississippi.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 7 with Utah State a possible 5-7 alternate

Sun Belt Conference
This is the one league where more bowl eligible teams should be produced than conference bowl tie-ins. The SBC has four bowl guarantees, and they could provide a fifth team as a fill-in for another bowl. As of today, we believe that five teams will become bowl eligible, and the fill-in spot will not be available. So,thanks to geography, this means one team from this league will be at the top of the chain when at-large contenders are selected prior to the 5-7 teams getting their shots.

Troy looks like the strongest team this year, and the Trojans are our favorite to win the league and accept the New Orleans Bowl bid that goes to the league champion. Arkansas State, Appalachian State, and Georgia Southern are all still in contention and should be bowl eligible, although

Arkansas State has little room for error. We believe Idaho still has a good chance to get to 7-5, but we do not hold out a lot of hope for Louisiana-Lafayette or South Alabama.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 5

The race for the four playoff spots looks much clearer today, but we believe there are going to be some big upsets still. Our bowl projections could still have wide swings, so what you see today is just one wacky way the season could wind up. If the season ended today, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and Washington would be your four playoff teams.

We are predicting that two of these four will lose before the season ends, and one from this list will not make the playoffs. For this week’s entry, we are going to project Clemson losing to Florida State or to the Coastal Division Champion in the ACC title game. The Tigers are missing something on both sides of the ball this year, and we believe they will stumble one time. If CU loses to Florida State this week and then wins out to finish 12-1, the Tigers might still crack the playoffs as the #4 seed. What happens with Louisville in this scenario? The Cardinals could be 11-1, and because they would still not qualify for the ACC Championship Game if they finished tied with Clemson, they would be looking at an Orange Bowl bid or Cotton Bowl bid.

The team that concerns us as of this week if Washington. The Huskies play three very tough road games before the season concludes. They might get by Utah in Salt Lake City this week, and they should win at Cal in two weeks, but the season finale against rival Washington State is the perfect setup for the Cougars to upset the Apple Cup cart. If Washington State loses just one conference game and beats Washington on Black Friday, WSU will earn the Pac-12 North title, and UW will be out of the playoff race with no extra game to build back their resume.

The Big 12 still has two undefeated teams in Baylor and West Virginia. Both have fine squads, but we do not see either going 12-0, and 12-0 is what it will take for either to get to the Playoffs this year. The Big 12 decided not to expand, and that basically was an edict from the big state school in Austin, Texas. That decision could keep this league as the fifth best Power 5 league more years than not.

The Big Ten is not done just yet. Michigan still has to win at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes are not ready to roll over and let that team up north come into the Giant Horseshoe and leave undefeated. As of today, we believe the Wolverines will claw their way to a win in Columbus for the first time since 2000. If Ohio State wins, the East could finish with a three-way tie between the Buckeyes, Wolverines, and Penn State.

Nebraska currently leads the West with by a game over Northwestern and two over Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. We believe the Cornhuskers are about to experience a tough final five weeks of the regular season with three losses possible. That opens the door for Wisconsin and Northwestern. The winner of the Badgers-Wildcats game on November 5 could emerge as the division winner if Nebraska does lose three times.

The SEC looks like an obvious play toy for Alabama. The Crimson Tide has a week off before facing LSU in Baton Rouge in two weeks. We believe the Tide will win by 17 or more points in this game. A closing game with Auburn could be interesting if the Tigers continue to play like they did against Arkansas on Saturday. However, we believe that was an anamoly, and Auburn will be lucky to lose by less than 14 to Alabama.

Texas A&M should not get too down for losing at Bama by 19 points. The Aggies are still alive in the Playoff picture. If A&M wins out, and the expected losses to teams we believe will lose actually happen, then TAMU could sneak into the playoff field at 11-1.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 10 with a possible 11th as a 5-7 alternate

Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami, Georgia Tech
Syracuse can earn a bid at 5-7.

Big 12 Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 6

Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU
We have Texas Tech at 5-7 and Texas at 4-8 as of today.

Big Ten Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 10

Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota

Pac-12 Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 8

Washington, Washington State, California, Stanford, USC, Colorado, Utah, Arizona State
We have Oregon at 5-7 and UCLA at 4-8 as of now. UCLA can jump into the alternate bowl mix at 5-7, but the Ducks will be out of luck.

Southeastern Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 9

Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee
As of this week, we have four teams (Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, and Vanderbilt) in contention to finish 5-7. We believe three of these teams will finish 5-7: Kentucky, South Carolina, and the winner of the Missouri/Vanderbilt game in Columbia on November 12. Should Vanderbilt win this game, they will move to the number one spot in the 5-7 bowl teams (assuming Duke finishes 4-8 and Minnesota is bowl eligible). Should Missouri win that game, then South Carolina will move into the fourth slot of 5-7 teams and have a decent shot of getting a bid.


The 5-7 Mess

As the season progresses, the number of mediocre teams has increased rather than decreased. As of today, it looks like at least four bowl spots will have to be awarded to 5-7 teams, and this includes a 6-6 Army team that actually needs seven wins to gain bowl eligibility.
The way the at-large bowl spots are filled out are not necessarily loved by the bowls themselves. For instance, if a 7-5 Idaho team is available for a bowl, while Notre Dame or Oregon sits at 5-7, it is the Vandals that must fill that bowl slot before the two powers can be considered. Imagine if you are the Birmingham or Indepedence Bowl, and you are faces with inviting a 7-5 team from almost 2,000 miles away and one which will soon be dropping out of FBS football. That’s the breaks, and it is what happens when there are about 10 too many bowls.
One solution that has not been discusses is allowing FCS teams to fill bowls. What if an undefeated Sam Houston State could get an Armed Forces Bowl Bid rather than play in the FCS Playoffs? Might an undefeated Citadel team be a better choice for the Birmingham Bowl than a 5-7 team from out West?

Our complete Bowl Projections follow below.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 135.6 128.8 135.5 133.3
2 Michigan 129.6 127.1 130.1 128.9
3 Louisville 130.0 124.8 130.1 128.3
4 Washington 129.0 121.6 129.1 126.6
5 Clemson 126.6 119.3 125.6 123.8
6 Ohio St. 123.0 122.7 123.5 123.1
7 LSU 124.5 119.5 124.1 122.7
8 Auburn 122.7 120.6 122.7 122.0
9 Oklahoma 119.8 118.0 119.4 119.1
10 Virginia Tech 118.9 117.5 119.3 118.6
11 Tennessee 119.0 115.9 118.4 117.8
12 Texas A&M 117.3 115.3 117.1 116.6
13 Florida St. 119.0 112.6 118.0 116.5
14 North Carolina 118.1 111.7 118.0 115.9
15 Colorado 117.2 112.7 117.0 115.7
16 Wisconsin 115.7 113.7 116.5 115.3
17 USC 117.2 112.7 114.9 114.9
18 Miami 116.6 110.6 116.2 114.5
19 Baylor 114.1 114.4 114.7 114.4
20 Florida 114.0 116.3 112.3 114.2
21 Oklahoma St. 113.8 115.1 113.4 114.1
22 Pittsburgh 115.2 111.5 114.4 113.7
23 Western Michigan 112.6 111.5 114.3 112.8
24 Ole Miss 115.0 109.5 113.9 112.8
25 West Virginia 113.2 111.9 112.9 112.7
26 Washington St. 113.2 110.3 113.3 112.3
27 Nebraska 112.6 109.6 112.4 111.5
28 Stanford 113.5 107.4 112.9 111.3
29 Iowa 111.8 109.2 111.6 110.9
30 Notre Dame 112.3 108.7 110.6 110.5
31 Texas 110.0 111.3 109.2 110.2
32 Houston 109.9 108.5 111.5 110.0
33 Penn St. 109.2 110.8 108.4 109.5
34 UCLA 109.9 108.4 109.2 109.2
35 Boise St. 108.1 109.1 109.3 108.8
36 Utah 111.2 105.9 109.3 108.8
37 South Florida 108.6 106.8 109.1 108.2
38 Georgia Tech 109.8 105.6 108.9 108.1
39 Georgia 108.5 107.7 107.8 108.0
40 TCU 107.3 108.8 106.6 107.6
41 Northwestern 109.3 105.2 108.1 107.5
42 Arkansas 109.6 104.9 107.7 107.4
43 Kansas St. 106.6 109.0 106.5 107.4
44 BYU 109.3 103.8 108.9 107.3
45 Mississippi St. 107.8 106.3 106.7 106.9
46 North Carolina St. 107.0 104.0 106.6 105.9
47 Arizona St. 105.8 104.7 104.6 105.1
48 Oregon 105.9 104.1 104.9 105.0
49 Toledo 103.8 103.2 104.5 103.8
50 Wake Forest 104.4 102.0 104.1 103.5
51 Minnesota 104.1 103.1 103.4 103.5
52 Temple 103.4 102.8 103.6 103.3
53 San Diego St. 103.0 101.5 105.0 103.2
54 Indiana 102.6 104.6 102.2 103.1
55 Maryland 102.8 105.1 101.3 103.1
56 Texas Tech 103.8 103.0 102.1 103.0
57 Memphis 103.9 101.3 102.6 102.6
58 Navy 102.8 101.9 102.6 102.5
59 Michigan St. 103.3 102.9 101.1 102.4
60 Syracuse 103.7 100.5 102.3 102.2
61 California 105.1 98.0 102.8 102.0
62 Western Kentucky 102.1 99.3 103.1 101.5
63 Duke 101.4 101.6 100.5 101.2
64 Virginia 101.8 99.5 101.1 100.8
65 Tulsa 99.7 101.8 100.6 100.7
66 Arizona 101.2 99.1 99.7 100.0
67 Vanderbilt 101.4 98.2 100.1 99.9
68 Kentucky 99.1 100.1 98.3 99.2
69 Missouri 99.4 99.0 98.9 99.1
70 Appalachian St. 98.1 98.6 99.9 98.9
71 Iowa St. 98.6 98.1 97.9 98.2
72 Cincinnati 97.9 98.2 98.1 98.1
73 Central Michigan 97.2 98.9 97.8 98.0
74 Boston College 98.3 97.6 97.8 97.9
75 South Carolina 97.2 97.1 96.6 97.0
76 Middle Tennessee 96.2 96.9 96.8 96.6
77 Central Florida 95.6 97.3 96.1 96.3
78 Illinois 97.4 93.9 96.6 96.0
79 New Mexico 94.6 96.9 95.5 95.7
80 Louisiana Tech 94.5 96.3 96.0 95.6
81 Air Force 95.1 96.3 95.1 95.5
82 Connecticut 96.0 94.4 95.8 95.4
83 SMU 94.6 93.9 96.9 95.2
84 Troy 92.8 97.5 94.8 95.1
85 Northern Illinois 93.9 95.3 95.2 94.8
86 Army 90.5 98.7 93.3 94.2
87 Utah St. 93.3 96.0 93.1 94.1
88 Purdue 94.6 92.6 93.5 93.6
89 Oregon St. 95.6 91.1 93.9 93.5
90 Ohio 89.5 96.2 90.0 91.9
91 East Carolina 91.2 93.2 91.3 91.9
92 Southern Mississippi 91.5 92.0 91.9 91.8
93 Georgia Southern 90.5 90.7 92.5 91.3
94 Colorado St. 89.8 91.6 90.7 90.7
95 Rutgers 91.8 89.4 90.4 90.6
96 Akron 87.9 93.4 89.5 90.3
97 Wyoming 89.5 89.8 90.3 89.9
98 Arkansas St. 88.1 90.1 89.8 89.3
99 Eastern Michigan 86.9 89.1 87.3 87.8
100 Old Dominion 86.3 89.7 86.7 87.6
101 UNLV 86.3 89.6 86.6 87.5
102 Ball St. 85.2 87.7 86.3 86.4
103 Tulane 84.7 88.9 85.2 86.3
104 South Alabama 83.5 90.3 84.8 86.2
105 Nevada 85.1 87.5 85.7 86.1
106 Kent St. 85.2 87.2 85.7 86.1
107 Miami (O) 85.0 86.0 86.3 85.8
108 Hawaii 86.1 84.9 85.9 85.6
109 Kansas 84.0 89.5 81.5 85.0
110 Georgia St. 82.7 87.2 84.6 84.8
111 Marshall 82.9 86.3 83.8 84.3
112 UTSA 81.0 88.0 83.4 84.2
113 North Texas 82.4 85.2 83.2 83.6
114 Rice 81.0 87.8 81.2 83.3
115 Massachusetts 80.1 86.4 81.2 82.6
116 Bowling Green 82.2 82.6 82.2 82.3
117 San Jose St. 82.0 81.8 81.3 81.7
118 Idaho 79.3 84.6 80.9 81.6
119 Fresno St. 80.0 83.7 79.7 81.1
120 Florida International 78.7 83.5 78.8 80.3
121 UL-Lafayette 77.5 83.6 79.3 80.2
122 Florida Atlantic 77.0 81.9 80.2 79.7
123 Buffalo 73.1 80.2 73.5 75.6
124 Charlotte 73.5 78.8 74.2 75.5
125 UTEP 72.1 76.7 73.4 74.1
126 New Mexico St. 71.8 74.9 72.7 73.1
127 UL-Monroe 67.4 72.3 67.7 69.1
128 Texas St. 67.3 69.5 68.1 68.3


American Athletic Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 108.6 106.8 109.1 108.2
Temple 103.4 102.8 103.6 103.3
Cincinnati 97.9 98.2 98.1 98.1
Central Florida 95.6 97.3 96.1 96.3
Connecticut 96.0 94.4 95.8 95.4
East Carolina 91.2 93.2 91.3 91.9
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 109.9 108.5 111.5 110.0
Memphis 103.9 101.3 102.6 102.6
Navy 102.8 101.9 102.6 102.5
Tulsa 99.7 101.8 100.6 100.7
SMU 94.6 93.9 96.9 95.2
Tulane 84.7 88.9 85.2 86.3
AAC Averages 99.0 99.1 99.4 99.2
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisville 130.0 124.8 130.1 128.3
Clemson 126.6 119.3 125.6 123.8
Florida St. 119.0 112.6 118.0 116.5
North Carolina St. 107.0 104.0 106.6 105.9
Wake Forest 104.4 102.0 104.1 103.5
Syracuse 103.7 100.5 102.3 102.2
Boston College 98.3 97.6 97.8 97.9
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Virginia Tech 118.9 117.5 119.3 118.6
North Carolina 118.1 111.7 118.0 115.9
Miami 116.6 110.6 116.2 114.5
Pittsburgh 115.2 111.5 114.4 113.7
Georgia Tech 109.8 105.6 108.9 108.1
Duke 101.4 101.6 100.5 101.2
Virginia 101.8 99.5 101.1 100.8
ACC Averages 112.2 108.5 111.6 110.8
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 119.8 118.0 119.4 119.1
Baylor 114.1 114.4 114.7 114.4
Oklahoma St. 113.8 115.1 113.4 114.1
West Virginia 113.2 111.9 112.9 112.7
Texas 110.0 111.3 109.2 110.2
TCU 107.3 108.8 106.6 107.6
Kansas St. 106.6 109.0 106.5 107.4
Texas Tech 103.8 103.0 102.1 103.0
Iowa St. 98.6 98.1 97.9 98.2
Kansas 84.0 89.5 81.5 85.0
Big 12 Averages 107.1 107.9 106.4 107.2
Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan 129.6 127.1 130.1 128.9
Ohio St. 123.0 122.7 123.5 123.1
Penn St. 109.2 110.8 108.4 109.5
Indiana 102.6 104.6 102.2 103.1
Maryland 102.8 105.1 101.3 103.1
Michigan St. 103.3 102.9 101.1 102.4
Rutgers 91.8 89.4 90.4 90.6
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 115.7 113.7 116.5 115.3
Nebraska 112.6 109.6 112.4 111.5
Iowa 111.8 109.2 111.6 110.9
Northwestern 109.3 105.2 108.1 107.5
Minnesota 104.1 103.1 103.4 103.5
Illinois 97.4 93.9 96.6 96.0
Purdue 94.6 92.6 93.5 93.6
Big Ten Averages 107.7 106.4 107.1 107.1
Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 102.1 99.3 103.1 101.5
Middle Tennessee 96.2 96.9 96.8 96.6
Old Dominion 86.3 89.7 86.7 87.6
Marshall 82.9 86.3 83.8 84.3
Florida International 78.7 83.5 78.8 80.3
Florida Atlantic 77.0 81.9 80.2 79.7
Charlotte 73.5 78.8 74.2 75.5
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisiana Tech 94.5 96.3 96.0 95.6
Southern Mississippi 91.5 92.0 91.9 91.8
UTSA 81.0 88.0 83.4 84.2
North Texas 82.4 85.2 83.2 83.6
Rice 81.0 87.8 81.2 83.3
UTEP 72.1 76.7 73.4 74.1
CUSA Averages 84.6 87.9 85.6 86.0
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 112.3 108.7 110.6 110.5
BYU 109.3 103.8 108.9 107.3
Army 90.5 98.7 93.3 94.2
Massachusetts 80.1 86.4 81.2 82.6
Independents Averages 98.1 99.4 98.5 98.7
Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio 89.5 96.2 90.0 91.9
Akron 87.9 93.4 89.5 90.3
Kent St. 85.2 87.2 85.7 86.1
Miami (O) 85.0 86.0 86.3 85.8
Bowling Green 82.2 82.6 82.2 82.3
Buffalo 73.1 80.2 73.5 75.6
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 112.6 111.5 114.3 112.8
Toledo 103.8 103.2 104.5 103.8
Central Michigan 97.2 98.9 97.8 98.0
Northern Illinois 93.9 95.3 95.2 94.8
Eastern Michigan 86.9 89.1 87.3 87.8
Ball St. 85.2 87.7 86.3 86.4
MAC Averages 90.2 92.6 91.0 91.3
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 108.1 109.1 109.3 108.8
New Mexico 94.6 96.9 95.5 95.7
Air Force 95.1 96.3 95.1 95.5
Utah St. 93.3 96.0 93.1 94.1
Colorado St. 89.8 91.6 90.7 90.7
Wyoming 89.5 89.8 90.3 89.9
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 103.0 101.5 105.0 103.2
UNLV 86.3 89.6 86.6 87.5
Nevada 85.1 87.5 85.7 86.1
Hawaii 86.1 84.9 85.9 85.6
San Jose St. 82.0 81.8 81.3 81.7
Fresno St. 80.0 83.7 79.7 81.1
MWC Averages 91.1 92.4 91.5 91.7
Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 129.0 121.6 129.1 126.6
Washington St. 113.2 110.3 113.3 112.3
Stanford 113.5 107.4 112.9 111.3
Oregon 105.9 104.1 104.9 105.0
California 105.1 98.0 102.8 102.0
Oregon St. 95.6 91.1 93.9 93.5
South Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colorado 117.2 112.7 117.0 115.7
USC 117.2 112.7 114.9 114.9
UCLA 109.9 108.4 109.2 109.2
Utah 111.2 105.9 109.3 108.8
Arizona St. 105.8 104.7 104.6 105.1
Arizona 101.2 99.1 99.7 100.0
Pac-12 Averages 110.4 106.4 109.3 108.7
Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 119.0 115.9 118.4 117.8
Florida 114.0 116.3 112.3 114.2
Georgia 108.5 107.7 107.8 108.0
Vanderbilt 101.4 98.2 100.1 99.9
Kentucky 99.1 100.1 98.3 99.2
Missouri 99.4 99.0 98.9 99.1
South Carolina 97.2 97.1 96.6 97.0
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 135.6 128.8 135.5 133.3
LSU 124.5 119.5 124.1 122.7
Auburn 122.7 120.6 122.7 122.0
Texas A&M 117.3 115.3 117.1 116.6
Ole Miss 115.0 109.5 113.9 112.8
Arkansas 109.6 104.9 107.7 107.4
Mississippi St. 107.8 106.3 106.7 106.9
SEC Averages 112.2 110.0 111.4 111.2
Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 98.1 98.6 99.9 98.9
Troy 92.8 97.5 94.8 95.1
Georgia Southern 90.5 90.7 92.5 91.3
Arkansas St. 88.1 90.1 89.8 89.3
South Alabama 83.5 90.3 84.8 86.2
Georgia St. 82.7 87.2 84.6 84.8
Idaho 79.3 84.6 80.9 81.6
UL-Lafayette 77.5 83.6 79.3 80.2
New Mexico St. 71.8 74.9 72.7 73.1
UL-Monroe 67.4 72.3 67.7 69.1
Texas St. 67.3 69.5 68.1 68.3
Sun Belt Averages 81.7 85.4 83.2 83.5


PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 112.2 110.0 111.4 111.2
2 ACC 112.2 108.5 111.6 110.8
3 Pac-12 110.4 106.4 109.3 108.7
4 Big 12 107.1 107.9 106.4 107.2
5 Big Ten 107.7 106.4 107.1 107.1
6 AAC 99.0 99.1 99.4 99.2
7 Independents 98.1 99.4 98.5 98.7
8 MWC 91.1 92.4 91.5 91.7
9 MAC 90.2 92.6 91.0 91.3
10 CUSA 84.6 87.9 85.6 86.0
11 Sun Belt 81.7 85.4 83.2 83.5


PiRate Retrodictive
# Team
1 Alabama
2 Michigan
3 Clemson
4 Louisville
5 Washington
6 Texas A&M
7 Ohio St.
8 Wisconsin
9 Nebraska
10 Western Michigan
11 West Virginia
12 Florida St.
13 Boise St.
14 Tennessee
15 Oklahoma
16 LSU
17 Auburn
18 Colorado
19 Baylor
20 Florida
21 Washington St.
22 Penn St.
23 Utah
24 Virginia Tech
25 USC
26 North Carolina
27 Houston
28 Stanford
29 Toledo
30 Pittsburgh
31 Navy
32 South Florida
33 Arkansas
34 Ole Miss
35 Miami (Fla)
36 Oklahoma St.
37 Appalachian St.
38 Iowa
39 BYU
40 Wake Forest
41 Arizona St.
42 Memphis
43 Northwestern
44 Troy
45 North Carolina St.
46 San Diego St.
47 Temple
48 Georgia Tech
49 Kansas St.
50 Georgia
51 TCU
52 California
53 Minnesota
54 Tulsa
55 Maryland
57 Western Kentucky
58 Central Florida
59 Kentucky
60 Wyoming
61 Louisiana Tech
62 Texas Tech
63 Indiana
64 Central Michigan
65 Vanderbilt
66 Middle Tennessee
67 Oregon
68 Georgia Southern
69 Texas
70 Syracuse
71 Air Force
72 Eastern Michigan
73 Akron
74 Colorado St.
75 Mississippi St.
76 Duke
77 Southern Miss.
78 South Carolina
79 Cincinnati
80 Arizona
81 Notre Dame
82 Missouri
83 New Mexico
84 SMU
85 Michigan St.
86 Old Dominion
87 Oregon St.
88 Utah St.
89 Ohio
90 Army
91 Connecticut
92 Virginia
93 North Texas
94 Idaho
95 Boston College
96 Illinois
97 Hawaii
98 Tulane
99 East Carolina
100 Arkansas St.
101 Purdue
102 South Alabama
103 Ball St.
104 Rutgers
105 Iowa St.
106 UL-Lafayette
107 Northern Illinois
108 Georgia St.
109 UTSA
110 UNLV
111 Kent St.
112 Marshall
113 Miami (O)
114 Nevada
115 UL-Monroe
116 Bowling Green
117 New Mexico St.
118 Florida Int’l.
119 Charlotte
120 Kansas
121 San Jose St.
122 Massachusetts
123 Texas St.
124 UTEP
125 Rice
126 Fresno St.
127 Buffalo
128 Florida Atlantic


This Week’s Games–October 27-29
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Thursday, October 27      
Pittsburgh Virginia Tech -0.7 -3.0 -1.9
Buffalo Akron -12.8 -11.2 -14.0
Toledo Ohio U 16.8 9.5 17.5
Georgia Southern Appalachian St. -4.6 -4.9 -4.4
USC California 15.1 17.7 15.1
Friday, October 28      
South Florida Navy 8.8 7.9 9.5
Utah St. San Diego St. -6.7 -2.5 -8.9
Fresno St. Air Force -12.1 -9.6 -12.4
Saturday, October 29      
Central Michigan Kent St. 15.0 14.7 15.1
Houston Central Florida 17.3 14.2 18.4
East Carolina Connecticut -1.8 1.8 -1.5
Georgia Tech Duke 11.4 7.0 11.4
Virginia Louisville -25.2 -22.3 -26.0
Missouri Kentucky 3.3 1.9 3.6
Iowa St. Kansas St. -5.0 -7.9 -5.6
Oklahoma St. West Virginia 3.6 6.2 3.5
Illinois Minnesota -3.7 -5.2 -3.8
Michigan St. Michigan -24.3 -22.2 -27.0
Purdue Penn St. -11.6 -15.2 -11.9
North Carolina St. Boston College 11.7 9.4 11.8
Temple Cincinnati 8.5 7.6 8.5
Florida Atlantic Western Kentucky -22.1 -14.4 -19.9
Georgia (N) Florida -5.5 -8.6 -4.5
Texas Baylor -1.1 -0.1 -2.5
Wake Forest Army 16.9 6.3 13.8
Notre Dame Miami (Fla.) -1.3 0.9 -2.6
Utah Washington -14.8 -12.7 -16.8
Indiana Maryland 2.8 2.5 3.9
TCU Texas Tech 6.5 8.8 7.5
Ohio St. Northwestern 16.7 20.5 18.4
Eastern Michigan Miami (O) 4.9 6.1 4.0
Tulane SMU -7.4 -2.5 -9.7
South Alabama Georgia St. 3.8 6.1 3.2
Oregon Arizona St. 3.1 2.4 3.3
Wyoming Boise St. -15.6 -16.3 -16.0
Louisiana Tech Rice 16.5 11.5 17.8
Southern Miss. Marshall 11.6 8.7 11.1
UTSA North Texas 1.1 5.3 2.7
Florida Int’l. Middle Tennessee -14.5 -10.4 -15.0
Arkansas St. UL-Monroe 23.7 20.8 25.1
Oklahoma Kansas 38.8 31.5 40.9
Wisconsin Nebraska 6.1 7.1 7.1
Ole Miss Auburn -4.7 -8.1 -5.8
South Carolina Tennessee -18.8 -15.8 -18.8
Texas A&M New Mexico St. 48.5 43.4 47.4
UTEP Old Dominion -11.2 -10.0 -10.3
Memphis Tulsa 7.2 2.5 5.0
Florida St. Clemson -4.6 -3.7 -4.6
San Jose St. UNLV -1.3 -4.8 -2.3
Oregon St. Washington St. -14.6 -16.2 -16.4
Arizona Stanford -9.3 -5.3 -10.2
Hawaii New Mexico -4.5 -8.0 -5.6
FBS vs. FCS Week 9  
Home Visitor PiRate
Massachusetts Wagner 17
Mississippi St. Samford 19


This Week’s Bowl Projections

Bowl Conferences Team vs. Team
New Mexico MWC CUSA New Mexico vs. Sou. Miss.
Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC Arizona St. vs. San Diego St.
Cure AAC SBC South Florida vs. Arkansas St.
Camellia MAC SBC Akron vs. Ga. Southern
New Orleans CUSA SBC La. Tech vs. Troy
Miami Beach AAC MAC Houston vs. Toledo
Boca Raton AAC CUSA Memphis vs. W. Kentucky
Poinsettia MWC BYU Air Force vs. BYU
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Central Mich. vs. Boise St.
Bahamas AAC/CUSA MAC/CUSA Temple vs. Eastern Mich.
Armed Forces Navy Big 12 Navy vs. [Idaho]
Dollar General MAC SBC Ohio U vs. Appy St.
Hawaii CUSA MWC North Texas vs. Hawaii
St. Petersburg AAC ACC/ND Tulsa vs. Miami (Fla.)
Quick Lane ACC/ND Big Ten {Notre Dame} vs. Indiana
Independence SEC ACC/ND {S.Carolina} vs. Georgia Tech
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA Maryland vs. Middle Tenn.
Military ACC/ND AAC N. Carolina St. vs. Central Fla.
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Northwestern vs. Utah
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 {Utah St.} vs. California
Pinstripe ACC/ND Big Ten Wake Forest vs. Iowa
Russell Athletic ACC/ND Big 12 Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma St.
Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 Minnesota vs. USC
Texas Big 12 SEC Kansas St. vs. Arkansas
Birmingham AAC SEC [Army] vs. {Syracuse}
Belk ACC/ND SEC N. Carolina vs. Georgia
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Liberty Big 12 SEC TCU vs. LSU
Sun ACC/ND Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. Stanford
Arizona CUSA/SBC MWC/SBC Old Dominion vs. Wyoming
Music City ACC/ND/B10 SEC Nebraska vs. [Colorado St.]
Orange ACC/ND B10/SEC Louisville vs. Baylor
Citrus ACC/ND/B10 SEC Wisconsin vs. Auburn
TaxSlayer ACC/ND/B10 SEC Florida St. vs. Ole Miss
Peach Semifinal Semifinal Michigan vs. Texas A&M
Fiesta Semifinal Semifinal Alabama vs. Clemson
Outback Big Ten SEC Ohio St. vs. Florida
Cotton At-Large At-Large Western Mich. vs. Washington
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Penn St. vs. Wash. St.
Sugar Big 12 SEC West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Championship Semifinal Winners Alabama vs. Michigan
[Team] At-Large Selection
{Team} At-Large Selection of projected 7-Loss Team

The APR Score Rankings

If one or more 5-7 teams are needed to fill vacant bowl slots, they will be filled in order of highest APR score.  For instance, if there are five spots to be filled by 5-7 teams, the highest five 5-7 teams in APR score will automatically earn those spots.  Then, in order of APR score, the teams will choose which bowl bid to accept.  Here is the ranking of the teams.  If there are five spots to be filled, then it could go down to the 40th best APR score or lower, because few teams will actually be 5-7.

APR Scores
1 Duke
2 Northwestern
3 Minnesota
4 Wisconsin
5 Vanderbilt
6 Army
7 Michigan
8 Georgia Tech
9 Air Force
10 North Texas
11 Clemson
12 Stanford
13 Central Florida
14 Utah
15 Auburn
16 Boise St.
17 Navy
18 Illinois
19 Louisville
20 Boston College
21 Nebraska
22 Indiana
23 Alabama
24 Florida
25 Michigan St.
26 Missouri
27 Utah St.
28 Maryland
29 Kansas St.
30 Notre Dame
31 Middle Tennessee
32 Rice
33 Toledo
34 Virginia
35 Washington
36 Syracuse
38 Rutgers
40 South Carolina
41 Mississippi St.
42 Temple
43 Ohio St.
44 Hawaii









October 20, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–October 20-24, 2016

Not So Good

Last weekend was not a great one for the parlay-pickers at PiRate Headquarters.  We selected four longshot parlays and returned one winner at +192, as upsets by Eastern Michigan and Vanderbilt prevented a potential major windfall.

For the season, this drops our mediocre results to just plain not-so-good.  As usual, our solace is that we are not out a penny, because we never actually invest real currency (or whatever you call those green notes in your wallet).

We’re not all that enthused with this week’s schedule either.  It took an extra afternoon to come up with four picks, and we included two underdogs to win outright in our four plays.  Good luck with that.

It may be a better weekend to hike in the forest with all the changing colors on the trees.

1. College Parlay @ +209
California over Oregon
North Carolina over Virginia
West Virginia over TCU
2.College Parlay @ +234
Colorado over Stanford
Oklahoma over Texas Tech
Alabama over Texas A&M
Tulsa over Tulane
3. College Singleton @ +275
Arizona St. over Washington St.
4. NFL Parlay @ +208
Green Bay over Chicago
Cincinnati over Cleveland
Atlanta over San Diego
Denver over Houston

August 31, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 1-5, 2016

This just for fun weekly feature turned out to be our most widely read part of the PiRate Ratings last year, because just like a broken clock is correct twice a day, somehow our money line parlays returned 40% on investment last year. People began leaving comments at our sister site, , telling us they were using these picks to wager their hard-earned money. That disappointed us a lot, since we begged them not to do this.

This is a just for fun mathematical experiment. We have no inside information; we have no specialist in Vegas placing wagers anonymously for us like other heavy hitters. In fact, if we were to announce to any book that we would like to play our picks for real, they would bend over backwards to help us do just that. So, that should tell you not to use these picks. Just read what we have to offer. If there is some way to wager just for fun with your friends, by picking X number of teams to win outright, then maybe you can use our selections.

For those not aware of the Money Line, it is a line established to wager on who you think will win the game without having to cover a pointspread. Obviously, if Michigan plays Hawaii, you would take Michigan to win. As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friend.” In order to take Michigan to win the game outright over Hawaii, you have to give ridiculous odds to the book. To win just $100 on this proposal, you must put up $75,000! If you want to wager just $100 on Hawaii to win the game in the biggest upset in years, you would win $25,000 if it happened!

Obviously, this is an extreme outlier. Let’s look at a closer game this week. Vanderbilt hosts South Carolina tomorrow night. The current Money Line odds are listed as Vanderbilt -185 and South Carolina +165. This means that if you believe the Commodores will win, you must put up $185 to win $100 ($285, because you get your investment money back as well). If you believe South Carolina will win this game, then by wagering $100, you stand to win $165 ($265 as you will get your $100 back as well if you win) if the Gamecocks win.

A Money Line parlay allows you to combine multiple games in order to raise your total odds. The catch is that if you bet X amount of games as one parlay wager, all X teams must win. It is considered a sucker bet to play this type of exotic wager, but we are not suckers, because we bet $0 every week. We can choose and choose parlays every week, and we will not lose a penny. We hope you will not either.

Here is our plan of attack that worked rather well last year for us. We will select a host of favorites and bunch them into parlays where the odds are better than even money for us should we win the wager. For example, let’s say that you combine three favorites into one parlay wager. Team A is listed at -250. Team B is listed at -235. Team C is listed at -225. The parlay on this three-team wager would be +188, or you would put up $100 to win $188 ($288 because as you know by now, when you win, you get back your investment money as well.)

It is not easy for three teams at -250, -235, and -225 to all win in a given week. That’s the catch. It looks so easy, and there are some nice hotels in Vegas that have been built from funds donated to them by suckers that thought it looked so easy.

Okay, now that you have been warned, let’s get started with our first Money Line Parlays of the 2016 season. We are playing just two parlays this week, and by playing, we mean like it is Monopoly–it is just a fun game.

Parlay #1

This one gives us +167 odds on our $100 fantasy investment. Yep, if we win, we receive $267 from the fake book in fake Vegas.

Tulsa over San Jose St.
Wake Forest over Tulane
LSU over Wisconsin
West Virginia over Missouri

Parlay #2

This one gives us +127 odds on our $100 fantasy investment. So, if we win just one of these two parlays, it will be a profitable week.

Colorado over Colorado St.
Temple over Army
UTEP over New Mexico St.
Minnesota over Oregon St.

Okay, that’s $200 fake invested funds into two parlays. If we lose both, we are out our imaginary $200. If we win #1 and lose #2, we will have a nice profit in week one returning $267 on the $200 wagered (33.5% ROI). If we lose #1 and win #2, we will have a so-so profit in week one returning $227 on the $200 wagered (13.5% ROI). If somehow both parlays win, we will be taking a fake vacation to an imaginary mountain lodge after pulling off a return of $494 on the $200 wagered (147% ROI).

One final warning and plea–please do not wager real money on these picks. Use them for fun only. See if you can come up with your own and see for yourself how easy hard it is.

Happy football holiday weekend.

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