Day Two Of the First Four

DAY TWO OF THE DAYTON MADNESS: DO LASALLE AND BOISE BELONG?

If you've been watching a lot of studio jabber the past few days, you know that many in the media world think LaSalle and Boise State should be playing in the NIT tonight rather than the NCAA's. Jay Bilas of ESPN in particular has made it a personal crusade to compare Virginia of his beloved ACC to LaSalle every chance he gets. Others are stunned the Mountain West got a fifth team (Boise) into the brackets when so more famous conferences got less.

If you're like most fans...you DIDN'T get to watch last week when these teams were eliminated in their conference tournaments. Boise State fell to San Diego State very late at night in the Mountain West quarterfinals. LaSalle lost to Butler in the A10 quarters at a time when most of America was watching the major tournaments unfold. That means TONIGHT should help answer the questions of whether one, or both of these teams are pretenders.

Just like yesterday's edition of the NOTEBOOK, we'll start with a quick look at the #16 seed play-in game involving Long Island University and James Madison. We'll run LaSalle-Boise Stat through our big game gauntlet of helpful indicators.

Play-In Game for #16 Seeds: Long Island Univ. vs. James Madison (6:40 p.m. ET)
Vegas Line: Long Island by 1.5

Long Island: 163 in Sagarin, 185 in Pomeroy
J. Madison: 169 in Sagarin, 179 in Pomeroy
Long Island (51 offense, 319 defense); J. Madison (224 offense, 132 defense)

Both of these teams are much better than Tuesday's last rung participants, and are more in line with what you typically see with #16 seeds. The computer projections from Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy show a very evenly matched game. The margin for error is such that it's a virtual dead heat when teams are that close. And, one has LIU six spots better while the other has Madison six spots better!

If you're the type of handicapper who likes to emphasize defense, them Madison gets the nod in fairly dramatic fashion. Pomeroy says they have a significantly better defense when you adjust for strength of schedule and pace factor. The market sees it slightly differently, with LIU being tabbed as the early favorite.

Play-in Game for #13 Seeds: LaSalle vs. Boise State (9:10 p.m. ET)
Vegas Line: Boise State by 1

WON-LOST RECORDS
LaSalle: 21-9 (11-5 in the Atlantic 10)
Boise State: 21-10 (9-7 in the Mountain West)

Similar teams after you adjust for conference strength. The RPI actually said the Mountain West was the best conference in the nation! That's certifiably insane. But, they were probably better than the Atlantic 10 (that's what our proprietary numbers say), which means going 9-7 out there is about the same as going 11-5 back East. Very similar teams in the big picture. And, that's going to become a running theme in today's preview.

COMPUTER RANKINGS
LaSalle: #57 with Sagarin, #57 with Pomeroy
Boise State: #58 with Sagarin, #49 with Pomeroy

The two sides line up right next to each other with Sagarin, a millimeter's difference in a mile run as viewed from a blimp. Pomeroy gives the nod to Boise, but not by a dramatic degree. It can be very hard to separate two roughly even teams that have little in common on the schedule. Any handicappers who find a way to see through that fog will either find a big edge tonight...or realize that there's no edge to be found!

COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
LaSalle: #96 with Sagarin, #87 with Pomeroy
Boise State: #62 with Sagarin, #36 with Pomeroy

Clear edge to Boise State here because of their tougher conference, and what's perceived as a more demanding (though not brutal) non-conference slate. Boise State is seen as more battle tested entering this very important game. It's telling that neither team could get out of the quarterfinals in their own league though last weekend. These truly are borderline teams.

WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN'S TOP 50
LaSalle: 3-3
Boise State: 4-7

You can see why Boise gets the strength of schedule nod here. They played 11 games vs. teams in Sagarin's top 50, compared to only six for LaSalle. Though, LaSalle did the better job percentage-wise. Should you get credit for playing the tougher schedule if you weren't winning the games?! The selection committee has to deal with that every year. We agree that these teams are so hard to distinguish that a playoff game made sense. Our own numbers would have had both dealing with the NIT brackets instead.

POMEROY'S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS
LaSalle: #43
Boise State: #30

Moving the chess match, you're about to find out that these teams are about even in everything! It's amazing that units separated by so much geography can be virtual clones. We have top 45 offenses in Philadelphia and Boise (though we think Pomeroy is too optimistic with both rankings)...and we have teams who's strengths are on the offensive side of the ball.

POMEROY'S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS
LaSalle: #83
Boise State: #86

That's well above-average nationally. But, those of you who have been reading all year know that those are very poor ratings for tournament time. Anybody who matters is better than that. It's going to be very tough for the winner of this one to deal with Kansas State in the next round, or Wisconsin if they were able to pull off a shocker of K-State.

POMEROY'S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS
LaSalle: #141
Boise State: #153

You've got to be kidding! Virtually identical in pace factor too? These really are brothers from a different mother. The unfortunate thing for handicappers is that there's no big key in the chess match to peg a selection on. It's an identical matchup involving eerily similar teams. We'll learn from the game which conference is stronger (or that the conferences are even). We may learn that neither of these teams is truly Dance-worthy.

BEST EXPECTATION
Well, it's a dead heat up and down the ledger except for "battle tested" game volume. Boise State did have 11 games vs. quality, but they only went 4-7 straight up in those challenges. Do you reward them for the learning process? Or, just determine that they don't have what it takes to win a big game away from home?

When the stats and the proven indicators are this even (meaning computer simulations peg a neutral court game at pick-em), then it takes INFORMATION from on-site sources to trigger a play. JIM HURLEY'S men in Dayton have been hard at work for the two-day Grand Slam. If they find something here in terms of poor preparation or a hidden injury, NETWORK clients will be on that game. If not, we still have these possibilities to choose from...

WEDNESDAY NIT
Indiana State at Iowa
Charlotte at Providence
Detroit at Arizona State
Plus 5 other games!

WEDNESDAY NBA
Miami at Cleveland
Oklahoma City at Memphis
Utah at Houston
Brooklyn at Dallas
Golden State at San Antonio
Plus 6 other games!

You can always purchase our BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. Remember to check for split sessions Thursday and Friday with all the day games on the card. If you have any questions about postseason programs or the rest of hoops through the NBA playoffs...call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you Thursday for a big game preview of Oregon and Oklahoma State. Did you hear the outrage from TV pundits when Oregon only got a #12 seed?! That's the showcase game of Thursday afternoon. Friday we'll crunch some numbers in Cincinnati vs. Creighton, a game that will send a dangerous dog to a Sunday meeting with Duke.

You've been waiting all month for the Big Dance to arrive. The play-in games will wrap up Wednesday Night...THEN IT'S TIME FOR THE WALL-TO-WALL BASKETBALL MADNESS! Make sure you get the money day and night with BIG JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

21
Nov

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