What No One Tells You About #Winning: College Football Week 8

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No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14

AP Photo-Karl B DeBlaker

1. Temple of Doom?

Temple is 7-0.  Just let that sink in for a minute……7-0.  Last night, Temple had to rally in the 4th qtr and you could say that ECU gave it to them with horrible QB play, but that’s what a team ranked in the top 25 for the first time does right? Rally?!  The Temple D is good and if they can throw it like they did in the 4th, they could be even more dangerous.  Getting a road-win, while being ranked is another big step for the Owls.  Setting up a huge test against Notre Dame.  Now maybe you aren’t impressed yet with Temple and maybe you have no idea where they are, and that’s ok.  But you will if they beat Notre Dame – Kali-Mah!

  • No. 22 Temple pulls away late to beat East Carolina 24-14 – No. 22 Temple finally cracked the Top 25 because of its defense and its ground game. Some timely passing will help the Owls stay there.  P.J. Walker threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, and Temple scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to rally past East Carolina 24-14 on Thursday night.  Walker finished 19 of 35 for 250 yards for the Owls (7-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference).  Anderson caught eight passes for 126 yards, with five of those grabs coming in the fourth quarter……(continue reading)

  • Rosen leads UCLA past No. 20 California, 40-24 – With UCLA’s season seemingly teetering on the brink of collapse, Josh Rosen calmly propped it back up with a passing performance that put the freshman’s name in the Bruins’ record book.  Rosen completed a school-record 34 passes and threw two of his three touchdown passes to Devin Fuller, and UCLA got back on track with a 40-24 victory over No. 20 California on Thursday night.  Rosen passed for 399 yards in another splendid game for the standout rookie, and Thomas Duarte had career highs of 10 catches for 141 yards for the Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12). UCLA rebounded from consecutive losses to……(continue reading)

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2. On With The Show This It…

It’s the second-half of the season and pretenders will separate from the contenders in an unappealing Saturday march to the playoff.  You know there aren’t any pivotal games when #GameDay travels to James Madison.  It doesn’t mean there couldn’t be chaos, because there could and we all saw it happen in 2007, in weeks just like this.  So with the Greatest Cyclone ever measured by humans, bears down on Mexico – Let’s brace ourselves and hope it all works out. (h/t Matt Brown)

Early Afternoon

No. 6 Clemson at Miami(+7)
Noon, ABC

Before we get to the Nov. 7 game that everyone has circled on their calendar, when Florida State visits Death Valley, Clemson has two tricky road games to deal with: at Miami and at N.C. State. This is only the second Clemson road trip of the season — the Tigers survived Louisville on a Thursday night in Week 3 — although Sun Life Stadium for an afternoon game isn’t necessarily the most imposing venue. Miami does pose a test for Clemson’s revamped defense, which has played at a high level through the first half of the season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown just one interception, and Miami averages a solid 6.4 yards per play. However, the Hurricanes do have questions about a rebuild offensive line — even if they’ve allowed just seven sacks — which could spell trouble against Shaq Lawson and a disruptive Clemson front. Saturday can be both a showcase game for them, as well as quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will look to pick apart a struggling Hurricanes defense that ranks 93rd in yards per play allowed. This is by no means a guaranteed win for a Clemson team with playoff aspirations, but the Tigers are quite simply a better all-around team, equipped to exploit Miami’s issues.

Clemson 34.7  –  17.85  83.85%


Iowa State at No. 2 Baylor(-37)
Noon, ESPN

On a Saturday that isn’t looking like the most appealing day of football, you might as well watch Baylor do its Baylor thing and score over 60 points again. The Bears average 63.8 points per game, with wide receiver Corey Coleman’s 16 receiving touchdowns out-pacing the touchdown output of 16 entire teams. Iowa State has nine passing touchdowns in six games and has given up 16, and that trend will surely continue. The last time Iowa State visited Waco, Baylor scored 71. After giving TCU trouble for a quarter with three touchdowns last week, Iowa State went on to get shut out the rest of the game. Baylor will take care of business, get a week off and then move on to its much more difficult November schedule

Baylor 51.35  –  20.35  95.8%


Auburn at Arkansas(-6)
Noon, SEC Network

Part of the reason that this Saturday’s slate doesn’t look great is because games that looked important in the preseason suddenly look depressing. Exhibit A: Auburn at Arkansas, featuring two of the most disappointing teams in the country. Auburn is actually 4-2, but it barely beat Jacksonville State, barely got a hand on Leonard Fournette, switched quarterbacks in September and has dropped from 76th to 83rd in defensive yards per play under Will Muschamp. Arkansas lost to Toledo and Texas Tech in nonconference play, and while it did win at Tennessee, it is 2-4 and is going to need multiple upsets to get to a bowl. It can at least start getting on track here by running the ball at home against a vulnerable Auburn defense.

Arkansas 36.65  –  23.65  78.75%


Kansas State at Texas(-4)
Noon, Fox Sports 1

Both the Wildcats and Longhorns, in seasons expected to be struggles, have now faced embarrassments. Texas got steamrolled by both Notre Dame and TCU, while Kansas State — after two near-upsets of Oklahoma State and TCU — lost 55-0 to Oklahoma. After an off week, this is the first time we’ve seen the Longhorns since their jubilant win over rival Oklahoma. Whether it’s a turning point for Charlie Strong and Texas remains to be seen. The win over Oklahoma was huge, but it’s also a rivalry in which unexpected results have happened in the past. Texas’ offense does, at least, have better big-play capability than Kansas State, who may have been exposed by the Sooners in a clear rebuilding season.

Texas 28.9  –  KState 27.6  59.9%


Northwestern at Nebraska(-7.5)
Noon, ESPN2

Remember what happened the last time Northwestern played in Lincoln?:

Since then, this year, Nebraska has suffered a Hail Mary loss in nearly the exact same spot … in addition to three other horrifying, heartbreaking losses. Nebraska has lost four games by a total of 11 points, while Northwestern — who started 5-0 — has lost two games by 68. The Wildcats defense has struggled two weeks in a row, giving up over 200 yards last week to a backup Iowa running back, while the struggling offense hasn’t made much progress, ranking 126th in yards per play. Nebraska may have the nation’s worst pass defense, but Northwestern isn’t the team to exploit that weakness.

Nebraska 25.1  –  Northwestern 18.8  66.55%


No. 25 Pittsburgh at Syracuse(+7)
Noon, ESPN2

Did you know that Pitt is ranked in the AP poll? Or that Pitt has only one loss, on a 57-yard field goal by Iowa as time expired? Every season has these types of out-of-nowhere records that sneak up on you, but Pat Narduzzi has done a fine job in his first season as a head coach, despite a season-ending injury to star tailback James Conner. This weekend should bring another win to get Pitt to bowl eligibility already after four straight seasons in which it has finished 6-7 or 7-6. It has done this despite playing only two home games so far this season, with four of the last five at home. The bad news is that the last five games feature North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville and Miami, so the run in the top 25 might not last too long after Saturday’s visit to the Carrier Dome.

Pitt 31.7  –  ‘cuse 21.5  71.85%


Late Afternoon

Tennessee at No. 8 Alabama(-15.5)
3:30 p.m., CBS

The rivalry known as the Third Saturday of October will once again taken place on the month’s fourth Saturday, and it hasn’t been much of a rivalry lately either. Alabama has won eight in a row, covering the entire Nick Saban era, with only one game staying within one score. Tennessee was hoping to AltX.Logo.whitefinally turn things around and compete with the Crimson Tide again, but it enters Saturday just 3-3, thanks to three blown leads against Oklahoma, Florida and Tennessee. The Vols have been inconsistent on offense under new coordinator Mike DeBord, and the defense ranks 88th in yards per play allowed. Neither is good news against Alabama, which has possibly the most terrifying defense in the country, and one of the most terrifying offensive players in tailback Derrick Henry. Alabama’s defensive front should dominate the game, and Henry can wear down what has been a beatable Vols defense. There still isn’t a good reason to pick Tennessee to win in this series.

‘Bama 31.5  –  UT 17.3  81.75%


Texas Tech at No. 17 Oklahoma(-14)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Baker Mayfield walked on and started right away at Texas Tech as a freshman in 2013, and now, in his debut season at Oklahoma, few quarterbacks are playing better. Oklahoma bounced back from its loss to Texas by blowing away Kansas State 55-0, behind a five-touchdown outing from Mayfield. He’s fourth in the nation in passer rating, and he has a solid core of skill players at his disposal, led by receiver Sterling Shepard. We know Oklahoma will be able to score here. The big test is its defense, which ranks ninth in yards per play and is coming off a shutout. The Sooners have yet to be tested by an offense like the Red Raiders’ unit, and this will be an interesting measuring stick before we get to November with their back-to-back games against Baylor and TCU.

OU 43.35  –  TT 24.05  87.35%


Indiana at No. 7 Michigan State(-16.5)
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Every game feels like a trap for Michigan State, who beat Purdue by three and Rutgers by seven. Now, it has to re-focus after one of the most improbable wins in football history, against its archrival, hosting an Indiana team that nearly upset Ohio State. The Hoosiers are still waiting on the return of tailback Jordan Howard from an ankle injury, and on Saturday they’ll surely be relying plenty on the arm of quarterback Nate Sudfeld against a somewhat depleted Michigan State back seven. The Spartans are mediocre defensively, compared with past seasons, and thus Indiana is the type of team that can put a scare into them. The problem, as always, is that Indiana can’t cover anyone. Connor Cook and receiver Aaron Burbridge have formed a fantastic pairing this year, and they’ll keep rolling against the Hoosiers, even if it won’t be surprising if the Spartans get off to a slow start.

MichSt 37.9  –  Indiana 21.5  83.25%


Washington State at Arizona(-7.5)
4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Washington State has back-to-back Pac-12 wins after sweeping the state of Oregon, as Luke Falk has hit his stride in Mike Leach’s offense. Falk is averaging 395.2 yards per game, leading the Cougars to 45 points against Oregon and 52 against Oregon State. Arizona’s defense is certainly beatable, as the Wildcats continue to play without star linebacker Scooby Wright. Of course, it works both ways. Washington State’s defense has issues, like always, and Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon has yet to throw an interception. While Arizona is at home, injuries could shift this one in Wazzu’s favor. Wright is out, and tailback Nick Wilson, cornerback DaVonte’ Neal and safety Tellas Jones are all questionable.

Wazzu 35.1  –  ‘Zona 29.65  67.25%


No. 23 Duke at Virginia Tech(-2.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPNU

Virginia Tech was supposed to rebound this year and perhaps take control of the ACC Coastal again — it dominated the division most of last decade — but instead the Blue Devils go to Blacksburg with a 5-1 record, while the Hokies are just 3-4, with questions swirling about Frank Beamer’s future. Virginia Tech does at least get back quarterback Michael Brewer, who has been out since his injury in the opener against Ohio State. Duke has been excellent defensively, but the question is whether its passing game can do enough on the road against Virginia Tech’s pass rush. This feels like a game that comes down to whichever team makes a big play on defense or special teams.

Duke 23.3  –  VaTech 17.85  62.5%


Virginia at North Carolina(-17.5)
3:30 p.m., ESPN3

North Carolina joins Duke and Pitt in the ACC Coastal’s surprising one-loss club. The Tar Heels blew their opening game vs. South Carolina with red-zone turnovers, but the offense has started to roll behind a stout offensive line and the running game, led by Elijah Hood. And while Will Muschamp’s presence at Auburn hasn’t made an immediate difference in the Tigers’ defense, North Carolina has improved from 117th to 32nd in yards per play allowed under Gene Chizik. UNC’s best wins right now are Illinois and a struggling Georgia Tech, but this team may be the best in the division.

UNC 41.25  –  18.15  90.75%


Penn State vs. Maryland(+6.5) (at Baltimore)
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Congratulations to Randy Edsall, who at least finished his tenure as Maryland coach with a perfect 1-0 record against Penn State. Every other Maryland coach in history has a combined record of 1-35-1 against the Nittany Lions. This is the debut of offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as interim coach, but we have seen Locksley as a head coach before: He went 2-26 at New Mexico. So, Locksley has two career wins as a head coach, and Maryland has two wins against Penn State in the history of what the Terrapins really want to be a rivalry — see the refusal to shake hands last year. Penn State has plenty of issues, but its defensive line may dominate this game, and the Terps will have to slow down star Nittany Lions freshman Saquon Barkley, who has 389 rushing yards in two games against Big Ten opponents.

PennSt 31.55  –  Maryland 16.2  82.55%


Wisconsin at Illinois(+6.5)
3:30 p.m., BTN

Iowa controls the Big Ten West with a perfect record, while Wisconsin and Illinois are tying to keep pace at one loss each. The Fighting Illini have had a solid season under interim coach Bill Cubit, and they need only two more wins to get to bowl eligibility. There’s a good chance they’ll do it, although Saturday will be a tough challenge to consistently move the ball against the Badgers defense. Wisconsin is still waiting for the return of running back Corey Clement from sports hernia surgery, but here it might be able to keep winning with that defense, led by linebacker Joe Schobert, who has 9 ½ sacks.

Illinois 21.3  – Wiscy 20.05  52.45%


Prime Time

No. 3 Utah at USC(-3.5)
7:30 p.m., Fox

USC began the season ranked eighth in the AP poll. Now it’s 3-3 with an interim coach. And yet… the Trojans are three-point favorites against the undefeated, third-ranked Utes, who have beaten Michigan, California, Oregon and Arizona State. Utah has played better football than USC this year, but it’s not surprising to see the Trojans considered favorites. They’re still talented, especially on offense, where they actually rank fifth in yards per play. They actually averaged over seven yards per play in the losses to Notre Dame and Stanford, which means defense has been the problem — run defense in particular. Utah will attack the Trojans as much as possible with versatile tailback Devontae Booker, who continues to be the overwhelming focal point of the Utes offense. It might be enough, especially if the Utes can continue to force turnovers. But despite the disappointment it has faced this year, this is the type of game where USC might be able to re-group and pull of a much-needed win, because it still has the individual talent to compete with anybody.

Utah 29.75  –  SoCal 26.05  71%


No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 24 Ole Miss(-6)
7 p.m., ESPN

This is Week 8’s only game between ranked opponents, but it lost its luster last week thanks to losses by both teams: Texas A&M to Alabama and Ole Miss to Memphis. Both stand at one loss within the SEC, meaning this might as well be considered an SEC West elimination game. It AltX.Logo.whitewill feature one of the best matchups of the season, as Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett — arguably the nation’s best defensive player — squares off against Ole Miss offensive tackle — arguably the nation’s best offensive lineman — who returns at just the right time after sitting out the first half of the season for improper benefits. While the Rebels get one star back, they might be without defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a concussion while playing running back against Memphis. This game will be won on the perimeter, as neither team cares much about establishing the run and both are loaded with weapons at receiver, headlined by Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk. Ole Miss has the better defense, so it’s tough to pick against the Rebels at home, but last Saturday’s loss to Memphis didn’t look like an accident. Look for a bounce-back game from Texas A&M Kyle Allen.

OleMiss 28.15  –  Texas a+m 27.5  68.5%


No. 9 Florida State at Georgia Tech(+6.5)
7 p.m., ESPN2

This looked like a potential ACC title game preview in the preseason. Now, Georgia Tech is desperately trying to stop the bleeding. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s Orange Bowl and began this season with two blowouts of overmatched opponents, but now they’ve dropped five straight games, plummeting to 2-5. Even with a difficult schedule, this team was hoping for another major bowl bid. Now it’s just trying to get to the postseason, which is an unlikely proposition. Florida State continues to quietly roll along undefeated, with Everett Golson committing zero turnovers and Dalvin Cook averaging 8.7 yards per carry as he tries to make a case for the Heisman. Maybe Georgia Tech can finally turn things around. Maybe it can start converting third downs (it has dropped from first to 114th in that category) and get the option moving against a team it ran well against last year. It is a bit of a trap possibility for Florida State. But as long as Cook stays healthy (he’s battled a hamstring injury), the Seminoles should be fine against a team that has struggled to replicate last year’s offensive efficiency.

FSU 34.4  –  GaTech 23.4  74.5%


No. 1 Ohio State at Rutgers(-21)
8 p.m., ABC

Rutgers finally has something going for itself, as Kyle Flood returned from suspension in time for the Scarlet Knights to beat Indiana 55-52, erasing a 52-27 second-half deficit, tying the game with 6:29 left but having the extra point blocked and the winning on a field goal as time expired. It was a nice comeback for Rutgers, who is now 3-3, but reality is about to hit. Last year, the Buckeyes beat the Knights 56-17, and this starts a tough string of games with Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska next for Rutgers. Ohio State is turning to J.T. Barrett as starting quarterback, a wise decision, and Barrett should keep the Buckeyes rolling against one of the nation’s worst defenses. To make matters worse for Rutgers, standout receiver Leonte Carroo is questionable with an ankle injury.

OhSt 38.5  –  Rutgers 18.25  89.05%


Western Kentucky at No. 5 LSU(-17)
7 p.m., ESPNU

There is a high probability that Leonard Fournette trounces the Hilltoppers for 200 yards, and that this isn’t much of a game. Safety Jalen Mills is returning to the LSU secondary after missing the first half of the season, re-joining a talented group led by Tre’Davious White, and while Western Kentucky has a ridiculously prolific passing offense, it was held to 14 points (in a win) at Vanderbilt. Western Kentucky is a fun team, and this matchup does have some intrigue, because the Hilltoppers are capable of scaring anyone. Since the Vandy game, Brandon Doughty has thrown for at least 350 yards every week, completing 74 percent for 2,709 yards and 24 touchdowns overall. So perhaps the Hilltoppers can put a scare into LSU after its tight win vs. Florida last week. But this WKU defense can’t slow down Fournette.

LSU 39.05  –  WKU 26.55  76.7%


Kentucky at Mississippi State(-11.5)
7:30 p.m., SEC Network

Kentucky had not won an SEC road game since 2009, until it won at South Carolina on Sept. 12. This is actually its first road game since then, as the Wildcats continue to push for their first bowl bid since 2010. They’re 4-2, with their only losses coming by a total of eight points to Florida and Auburn. Winning in Starkville is a steep challenge, though. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott isn’t the national superstar he was a year ago — Mississippi State was No. 1 when these teams met last October — but he has yet to throw an interception and continues to produce for a team that’s flying under the radar because of its two SEC losses. Mississippi State isn’t the team it was last year, but it’s still a competitive squad that will be chasing eight or nine wins.

MissSt 35.55  –  ‘Tucky 19.25  84.3%


Late Night

Washington at No. 10 Stanford(-1)
10:30 p.m., ESPN

Back in Week 1, this would have looked like a possible 6-3 struggle in which both teams struggled to cross midfield. Now, Stanford is playing the best football in the country. The Cardinal offense has looked terrific, with Christian McCaffrey emerging as one of the nation’s top playmakers behind a sturdy line, while Kevin Hogan has made strides at quarterback. The Stanford offense is actually well ahead of the defense, which bucks recent trends. The opposite is true for the Huskies, who have played really well on defense despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL. Freshman quarterback Jake Browning — who may not be 100 percent with a shoulder injury — has struggled against top competition, and the Huskies are going to need the hot streak of freshman running back Myles Gaskin to continue to hang with the Cardinal on the road. Stanford’s playing too well right now for it to happen.

Stanford 31  –  UW 21.6  72.05%

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Monday Dregs

Nietzsche said, “out of chaos, comes order.” Or maybe he didn’t.  The infamous Howard Johnson of Rock-Ridge had quoted him, in a town meeting to discuss the new sheriff – so maybe it’s true.  But maybe chaos theory explains it just as well as Nietzsche – the more complex system, the faster and easier it breaks down.  That could apply to climate-change, governments and our bracket(s).  There is a morbid Bedouin proverb that says: “As the camel falls to its knees, more knives are drawn.”  A Proverb is a proverb because it speaks to a permanent truth…which may or may not be exactly how we felt when we saw what happened in the opening rounds.  All those 1 possession games, upsets…Seppuku

That is the word I was looking for when the Tigers of LSU missed 20 consecutive shots to lose the game against NC State.  There wasn’t much to expect this year, but to lose that way was a terrible shock to every fiber of my body.  It’s like your heart goes limp and the air is kicked out of your lungs for 20-30 seconds after seeing the final score and how it came to be – I fell sideways into a plate of tacos, like I was whacked in the head with a baseball bat.  Momentarily, I might have blacked out, but the room had already emptied except for two girls who were snickering at me as they walked out the door.  I was so swollen with shame that I felt like a fat kid after halloween – and that was when I thought about reaching for my gold-handled sword, as Dean Martin sang about kicks in the head  – it was the only honorable way out.  Just then I got a text message, taunting me and my thoughts moved from melancholy ceremony to vendetta.  A feeling I’m sure is shared with any fan of Virginia, Kansas, Iowa St or Villanova.

In our attempt to breakdown the bracket and build us all a better mousetrap – it appears we accomplished that.  If only we actually listened to what the tea leaves told us.  What we built, ended up getting 28 out of 32 correct on Thursday and Friday – 13 out of 16 for the weekend – that’s 84.4% overall!  Now if we had only listened to our own model…but that’s the trick isn’t it?  Just because you got UCLA correct and the system got it wrong – you blame the minor flaw for the whole – like Seinfeld and the numerous women he dumps because they are a low-talker, has man hands, or eats peas one at a time – and it all seems justifiable.  We chose poorly – the game is rigged, it knows you need the 12/5 upset, there was none.  It knows you have to find two #10 seed upsets and it gave one, Ohio St.  It counts on you selecting a #15 seed beating a #2 because the last 3 years it has happened, becoming a trend – but shuts that door on you as well.  Much like it knew the record of the #3 seeds, and yet the game crushed you with UAB over Iowa St (also a double-digit favorite), Georgia St over Baylor and almost gave you Northeastern over Notre Dame.  Only 3 times has 2 #14 seeds won a game in the same tournament – 1986 and 1995, and the last time a 12 did not beat a 5 was in 2007.  Hell, #8 seeds only win 53% of the time in the tournament the last 16 years and that did not stop all of them winning this year.  She’s a cruel mistress.

The system says Villanova and Virginia and your brain says they will fall – you know this, but when do you switch your faith in the design, to what is rationally dependent.  Is there any bigger set of teams that consistently choke away their chances more than Villanova and Kansas?  Of course you could be an entire state, like Texas, who failed to show up.  Even when the advice tells you to pick with the cruel logic over the bleeding heart, you still line up and get slaughtered.  The NCAA fattens us up so Vegas can eat well in the Spring.  But I digress, our bracket is hanging on and is tied with several other prognosticators having more final four teams than most and being the only one out of 8 that has Arizona and Duke in the title game.  If only we had listened to our own March-Madness Frankenstein – who says this is how the next round shakes out:

  • Notre Dame close
  • Wisconsin close
  • Kentucky
  • Arizona
  • Gonzaga
  • Louisville
  • Duke
  • Oklahoma

Further advancing Oklahoma over Louisville, Duke over Gonzaga, Arizona over Wisconsin and ‘Tucky over Notre Dame.

Aside from our DiRT Canon Analyzer, here are other “entertainment purposes only” trends in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8:

Sweet 16

  1. the Sweet 16 is usually where double digit seeds go down like a soccer player.  Better seeds have won 50 of the past 72 games SU (69%) the last nine years, but are only 29% ATS since 2012 (7-17)
  2. From 2003-2010 favorites of at least 5.5 were 22-1 SU in the Sweet 16.  However, 4 big upsets have occurred since: Arizona (+9.5) over Duke in 2011, Kentucky (+5.5) over Ohio St in 2011, Louisville (+5.5) over Michigan St in 2012 and Marquette (+5.5) over Miami in 2013.  These big favorites are only 17-18-1 ATS since 2003.
  3. Last year’s Sweet 16 featured six teams seeded 6th or worse, and three advanced to the Elite Eight, including #11 Dayton beating #10 Stanford.  That makes the lesser seed 8-2 SU and ATS (80%) in the last 10 situations when two teams seeded #6 or worse met in the Sweet 16. (none this year)
  4. Double-digit seeds are just 4-24 SU in the Sweet 16 round since 2003, with the only such win coming when #11 Dayton beat #10 Stanford, 82-72.  (UCLA is the only double digit seed remaining).
  5. In games where the total is 128 points or less, the UNDER is 14-5-1 (74%) since 1999.

Elite 8

  1. Since 1998, lesser seeds hold an overall advantage in the Elite 8, going 44-22-3 ATS (66%), including 3-0-1 in 2014.
  2. Lesser seeds in the Elite 8 had been 7-9 ATS (6-10 SU) from 2007-2010 before a 12-3-1 ATS run (11-5 SU) overthe past four tournaments with #8 Kentucky, #7 UConn and #2 Wisconsin all advancing as lesser seeds in 2014.
  3. Teams favored by 8+ points in this round have won 12 of the last 15 games, but are just 4-10-1 (29%).  Florida beat Dayton last year 62-52, giving up 10 points.
  4. When the difference in the seeds was five or more from 1998-2010, the better seeds were 12-1 SU, 4-8-1 ATS (33%).  But since then, #11 VCU beat #1 Kansas, #8 Butler beat #2 Florida, #8 Kentucky beat #2 Michigan and #9 Wichita St beat Ohio St.
  5. In games with the total is less than 145, the OVER has won 73% of the time (33-12).  However was just 1-3 last year with only Kentucky/Michigan surpassing the total.

continue to follow us @TheDiRTCanon for updates and sign up and win money with us on FanDuel+DraftKings – if you’ve been playing, you’d be up several hundreds of dollars from our suggestions last week, in just the $2 tournaments.  It’s been an amazing week of basketball both college and pro – regardless of what happens in Vegas – because we are all damn fine Americans!

 

 

 

3rd Stone From the Sun

Animals! Anarchy! I have always hated kids, especially at this time of year. They wander in and out of the house, babbling and drooling on each other, and when it snows, piling up, up, up, then flooding with filth when it melts. … Yes sir, haven’t I been telling you all along that March is a horrible month? It sucks in nine-thousand ways.  Especially in Texas.  The whole state went 0’fer.

But not all ways, as it turns out. No. Shaquille O’Neal was born in March, along with my son and other sons I’m related too, and the bastard child of Charles Manson. How many more games can be decided by a single point?

Hot damn! I could go on and on about this, but that would drive us all mad. Justin Bieber was spawned in March, along with Jack Kerouac, Queen Latifah, Albert Einstein and Osama bin Laden.

So let’s get back to basketball and the looming UCLA-UAB game. Even the president is worried about it.

We live in downhill times, in basketball and everywhere else. By this time next year, we will all be arrested for something, whether we’re guilty or not. “Terrorism” has many, many faces. Frankly, I will not be shocked to see the NCAA basketball tournament being played in a titanium cage at Guantanamo Bay, with defrocked priests as Referees calling goal-tending.

But the LSU situation haunts me more than the others, right now, if only because I watched upset after upset yesterday – and the beloved Tigers missing 20 consecutive shots. My heart is heavy, my mood is glum.  How is that goal-tending?! Bracket Destruction is a horrible pig. It is sort of like texting a lady late at night after washing down your tears with Jameson and Miller Lite.

Yeah. Suck on that one for a minute.

As for my quasi-flaky Tigers, professional circumstance has already spared me the agony of deciding where to put my money today. Right, no more of this s***-eating grief. I have finally grown up, I have matured — the Office Pool bracket sheet says I have already picked Northern Iowa in the Elite 8.

Indeed. I did it Monday, when I thought I was still thinking clearly. You bet: The Bruins are a No. 11 seed. And UAB is the No. 14.

It’s easy: Just bet the higher-seeded team in every game, and forget that amateur crap about “Personal Loyalties” and Home Team hunches that reveal themselves to you just before dawn on game day. You are probably an Alcoholic, anyway, and you are prone to Doubling Up/down, so what? Pay no attention to any yo-yo who tells you that Wisconsin is going to win. That is nonsense, that is impossible, nobody in basketball would bet Wisconsin over Kentucky. It would be 33-1 or 44-1, if you thought about monetizing it.

And some people will, at any odds. What the hell? I would bet heavily on my people at 22-1, and a bit less heavily at 15-1, or even 11-1. Why not? Big Risk is what this ball-busting March Madness is all about, right? Go long, get weird, kick ass — and if we Lose, get really Weird.

Yes sir, that is exactly what we do around here in March, folks. We load up on everything we can get our hands on, then crawl into a huge vat of ice water and bet gigantic money with jokers on both coasts.

It is not much different from that giggly, blind-dumb limbo that a gambler will get into when he knows in his heart that he finally has a Sure Thing, a sleeping dog who can’t lose, etc. etc.

But let me tell you for sure, people, that Gonzaga can lose, and the ‘Zags probably will. It is actually about a 57-1 shot, which is not for your everyday hometown beer drunk. … NoDakSt might be simply Bigger, Faster, Smarter, Tougher and on most days just a little more adventurous than this Gonzaga team, which is not even as good as the one that lost to UConn in the Elite Eight in 1999. They have the shooters, but do they have the muscle or the depth to play 40 minutes with the Bison?

The final spread will be at least two digits. Try 18, as in 89-71. I have already predicted this with my blind-dog-smokin-bracket-sheet, which was strictly impersonal.

Or almost impersonal, anyway: In a fit of stupid loyalty or love or maybe just a pimp’s lust for melodrama, I fell for crowd-pleasing Cinderella-teams like Iowa St, Baylor and Eastern Washington, which all got busted early. Screw them. All of my Final Four picks are still alive, and that is more than some people can say.

My attorney will almost certainly live to be 122 years old, when he will still be the amazing all-time champion of sports and literature that he is today, and has been for the past 12 years. Whatever it is that he eats after midnight, we should all eat more of it. Take it from me: I know how it feels to run at top speed for years and still believe in Santa Claus.

Whoops, maybe not Santa, but definitely Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. It was my attorney, in fact, who told me to bet Arizona even, with no points at all, at 13-1 odds to win it all. Got it? That means Wisconsin, Villanova and Duke, too.

So I will, and nevermind what I really think — which is that Northern Iowa will knock off ‘Nova and Wichita St will somehow beat Kansas. Right, and that’s about it for my ramblings of an insane gambler, for now. I hear the gong, and I must have whiskey.

2015 Bracket-ology Madness Locks of the Century of the Week

The idea behind our in-depth bracket, was several different combinations of formulas.  We intend to update the picks by round and to continue to offer those that might be good gambles to wager – for entertainment purposes only.  So to further help or confuse – here are some figures that we took into consideration:

  • Offensive Scoring 73% (11) averaged at least 77.0 PPG and finished among the Top 30 scoring teams in the nation. The only exceptions here were 2000 Michigan State, which averaged 74.1 PPG, 2011 UConn (72.4 PPG), 2013 Louisville (74.5 PPG) and 2014 UConn (71.9)
  • Offensive Shooting 73% (11) made at least 47% FG and ranked in the Top 30 in national FG percentage. Six of the teams ranked in the Top 10, including 2012 Kentucky (9th). But four of the previous five champions were below this mark — 2010 Duke, 2011 UConn, 2013 Louisville and 2014 UConn
  • Offensive Three-Point Shooting 73% (11) made at least 38% 3-pt FG, and all placed in the Top 40 in the nation in this category. 2002 Maryland was just below the mark (37.4%), but 2003 Syracuse (34.4%), 2011 UConn (32.9%) and 2013 Louisville (33.3%) weren’t close.
  • Defensive Scoring 67% (10) allowed fewer than 65.0 PPG. Of the five champions that allowed more than 65.0 PPG, four were ACC schools (2001 Duke, 2002 Maryland, 2005 and 2009 North Carolina).
  • Defensive Shooting 93% (14) allowed 41% FG or less with 2001 Duke just missing the cut at 41.6% FG. Five of these champions were among the Top 15 shooting defenses in the nation –2004 UConn ranked 1st, 2008 Kansas ranked 3rd, 2003 Syracuse ranked 5th, 2014 UConn ranked 8th and 2011 UConn ranked 11th.
  • Turnover Margin 80% (12) had a positive turnover margin (more takeaways than giveaways), but only 27% (4) were ranked among the nation’s Top 50 schools in this category. 2013 Louisville had the top mark here with a +5.8 TO margin, which ranked third in the nation. 2001 Duke had a strong +5.5 TO margin.
  • Double-digit favorites had been almost unbeatable over a three-year span from 2008 to 2010, going 44-1 SU & 26-16-3 ATS (62%). In the past five years (2010-14), the SU record was still 66-8

TRENDS BY SEED

  • #1 vs. #16: A #1 seed has never lost to a #16 seed outright in the NCAA Tournament. The #1s had covered 15 of 20 games (75%) from 2007-2011 with an average winning margin of approximately 30.0 PPG. But in the last three years, the #16s were 8-4 ATS, losing by just 15.6 PPG. The OVER was just 4-8 (33%) in 2011 to 2013, but 3-1 (75%) last season.
  • #2 vs. #15: No #2 seed had lost to a #15 outright from 2001-2011, but in the last three years Fla Gulf Coast (over Georgetown), Lehigh (over Duke) and Norfolk State (over Missouri) won outright as #15 seeds. In the past 10 years, the #15 owns a 53% ATS advantage (19-17-4). The UNDER was 0-4 in #2 vs. #15 matchups in ‘13, but was 4-0 in 2014.
  • #3 vs. #14: Even with #3 Duke losing to Mercer last year, the #3 seeds are still 29-3 SU and 20-11-1 ATS (65%) since 2007. Some of this is due to smaller spreads, with #3 seeds favored by a mere 9.5-point average since 2012 with just four of the 12 teams favored by more than 11 points. The UNDER is 20-12 (63%) in the past seven years and 32-16 (67%) dating back to 2003.
  • #4 vs. #13: The #4 seed is 28-8 SU and 21-14-1 ATS (60%) over the past eight tournaments. In 2013, #13 Harvard beat #4 New Mexico outright as a 10.5-point underdog.
  • #5 vs. #12: The #12 seed has gone 14-22 SU (39%) vs. the #5 seed from 2004-2012, but is 3-1 SU (75%) in each of the last two years. Seven #5 seeds were favored by three points or less from 2010 to 2014, including two last year (Cincinnati -3 Harvard, Saint Louis -3 NC State). “A” level conference teams are on an 8-4 SU & 9-2-1 ATS (82%) run on the #12 line, including 3-0 in 2013 (Oregon, California and Ole Miss).
  • #6 vs. #11: Even with the spreads in the last five years’ 6/11 games all 6.5 points or less, the #6 seeds went 8-11-1 ATS, with 10 of those losses also being SU defeats, including two last year. #6 seeds are now 20-16 SU & 16-19-1 ATS since ‘06.
  • #7 vs. #10: Eleven #10 seeds have won outright over the past six years, but #10 seeds are still just 21-30-1 ATS (41%) since 2002. The straight-up winner in the 7/10 matchup has covered the spread in 65 of 68 games since 1998.
  • #8 vs. #9: This series remains as close as one would expect at 34-30 in favor of the #8 seed in the past 16 years. The #8 seeds have a slight 31-30-3 ATS advantage. The OVER is usually the play in this matchup, with a strong 29- 23 record (58%) since 2002.

Funny thing about upsets – Of the 40 Round-of-64 upsets from 2005 to ’09, 24 occurred in the Friday games. The 2010-2011 tourneys had 10 lower seeded teams win on Thursday and just seven upsets on Friday, but the 2012-14 dances saw just 11 lower seeds advance on Thursday, and a whopping 17 upsets on Friday.

***

This is how our bracket shook out after the dust settled – if we did it right, we expect similar results to our overall success in college football – no one in the nation could beat us.

 

2015_bracket

 

Individual games to wager on – for entertainment purposes only:

Buffalo +4.5

Valpo +5

SF Austin +3.5

E. Wash +7.5

Davidson +2.5

If you want to tease a bet – go with this 12-team teaser with 9pts (+695):

UK -21

Notre Dame -3.5

Kansas -3

Wiscy -17

UNC -1.5

‘Zona -14

Oklahoma -4

Virginia -8

Duke -10.5

Iowa St -4.5

Gonzaga -8.5