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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Last week we ran some bonus big game reports here on the blog during the conference tournaments. We’ll do that again this weekend with select late-day matchups. The most talked-about game on the late Thursday sessions features Belmont vs. Arizona in a showdown matching teams who were difficult to seed:

*Belmont drew a #11, but there are many who believed they deserved at least a #8…and possibly better.

*Arizona drew a #6, but they had trouble establishing during the season that they were much better than other Pac 12 teams who are seeded down in the #10-12 range. UCLA was also a #6 from that conference, but UCLA went 3-0 vs. Arizona this year!

Is this really a battle of two #8’s? Is it really a battle of two #11’s? Does the winner have a chance to take advantage of probable opponent New Mexico’s recent Dance disappointments? Let’s crunch some numbers!

 

WON-LOST RECORDS

Belmont: 26-6 (14-2 in the Ohio Valley)

Arizona: 25-7 (12-6 in the Pac 12)

Belmont had a great year stepping to the Ohio Valley Conference this season (home of Murray State and Morehead State). They weren’t perfect, but they were the class of the field. Arizona was supposed to dominate the Pac 12 based on early season results and computer projections. Instead they could only finish as a #4 seed in the league tournament that was destined to lose in the semifinals.

 

COMPUTER RANKINGS

Belmont: #50 with Sagarin, #46 with Pomeroy

Arizona: #23 with Sagarin, #19 with Pomeroy

The computers are pretty much in agreement here with the seedings. Jeff Sagarin of USA Today would have Belmont as a #13 and Arizona as a #6. College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy would have Belmont as a #12 and Arizona as a #5. The problem, though, with those assessments is that both computer methodologies have had Arizona very overrated through all of Pac 12 action. And, both were optimistic about Belmont the past two seasons before they were outclassed by Wisconsin and Georgetown. We’re not going to get specific to protect our playing customers. But, we can tell you that are proprietary numbers don’t line up with Sagarin and Pomeroy for these two teams…and we’ve made good money because of those differences!

 

COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS

Belmont: #163 with Sagarin, #170 with Pomeroy

Arizona: #43 with Sagarin, #33 with Pomeroy

Arizona gets credit for playing a much tougher schedule since they were in a major conference. Belmont gave itself a few challenges this year. But, their blowout loss at Kansas was a painful reminder that certain kinds of teams can just push them around and bully them. Is Arizona that type of team?

 

WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN’S TOP 50

Belmont: 1-2

Arizona: 4-4

Arizona split out its games vs. quality, though they were handed a home win over Arizona as a gift from officials and Florida’s own late game chock tendencies. Belmont isn’t battle tested, and didn’t sparkle in the few games they had vs. top 50 teams. They also had to sweat the Ohio Valley tournament…which at least gave them some late game experience even if it didn’t come against top 50 competition.

 

POMEROY’S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS

Belmont: #42

Arizona: #18

Moving to the chess match, both of these teams are stronger on offense than on defense. You regulars know that’s dangerous in the Dance, where defense wins championships! Belmont in particularly is three-point heavy. That can help you run up the score when the bombs are falling. It exposes you as a pretender when they’re not. Arizona’s note quite that reliant on treys…but they are reliant on having their shots fall.

 

POMEROY’S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS

Belmont: #59

Arizona: #36

We’ve said before that we don’t believe Pomeroy penalizes teams from weak conferences enough in his “adjusted” ratings. Belmont would grade out as a lot worse than #59 if they played in the Big 10 or Big East. Arizona at least played in a real conference. But, they were soft inside in many of their losses, which is likely to hurt them in this event when the axe finally falls. 

 

POMEROY’S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS

Belmont: #107

Arizona: #123

Should be a fun game to watch because both teams are well above average in pace factor. The ball will move up and down the court. Belmont will be launching a bunch of treys to make up for their lack of physicality. Neither team will be out of its comfort zone at speed.

JIM HURLEY had to hold a few things back for this preview as he was finalizing his Friday slate just before press time. You can purchase his official BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. Take care of business immediately because new games are tipping off all day and night! If you’re ready to talk about long term service, call the office during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453. 

The official Friday NOTEBOOK entry will focus on Creighton-Cincinnati in an early tip. We’ve scheduled a bonus report for the blog on Notre Dame-Iowa State that highlights the prime time schedule. Be sure you’re turning MARCH MADNESS into MONEY MADNESS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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