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Friday, February 21, 2014
Duke projected to beat Syracuse, BPI says

By Mike Wilson


AP Photo/Nick LisiAccording to BPI, Duke is a 62 percent favorite to beat Syracuse and avenge their Feb. loss.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index rates teams using a system that takes into account factors such as the pace of a game, margin of victory, game site and absence of key players.

In addition, BPI can be used to make projections of each team’s chance of winning a specific matchup. The team with the higher chance to win according to BPI has won about 73 percent of the time this season.

Here is a preview of five of this weekend’s matchups, examined using information produced by BPI:

BPI No. 4 Syracuse at No. 9 Duke (7 PM Saturday, ESPN)
BPI Projection:
Duke 62 percent likely to win

Duke’s loss Thursday at No. 28 North Carolina resulted in the Blue Devils’ falling from fifth to ninth in the BPI rankings. Syracuse comes off its shocking loss to BPI No. 147 Boston College on Wednesday (which earned the Orange their worst Game Score, 40, of the season).

BPI No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 8 Iowa (12 PM Saturday, ESPN2)
BPI Projection:
Iowa 68 percent likely to win

All six of Iowa’s losses have come to BPI Top 30 teams, two in overtime. The Hawkeyes rank fourth among BPI Top 10 teams in consistency. The less-consistent Badgers have been beaten five times, including by No. 69 Indiana and No. 126 Northwestern. BPI roughly corresponds with The Associated Press poll in evaluating Wisconsin (No. 16 in the poll) but regards Iowa (AP No. 15) more highly.

BPI No. 6 Louisville at No. 24 Cincinnati (12 PM Saturday, CBS)
BPI Projection:
Louisville 52 percent likely to win

The AP poll has Cincinnati seventh and Louisville 11th. Louisville’s four losses have come to BPI Top 40 teams, by an average of 6.3 points. The Bearcats have three losses, by an average of 15.7 points, to BPI Nos. 30, 36 and 42. Cincinnati is 6-0 in games decided by five points or fewer (including a 69-66 win at Louisville on Jan. 30), which is part of the reason the Bearcats’ BPI ranking is lower than their record alone might suggest.

BPI No. 22 San Diego State at No. 36 New Mexico (10 PM Saturday, ESPN2)
BPI Projection:
New Mexico 57 percent likely to win

This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. San Diego State would be 72 percent likely to win if the teams were playing at the Aztecs’ home, which they will in their regular-season finale March 8. San Diego State’s strength of schedule ranks third-easiest among BPI Top 25 teams (ahead of No. 6 Louisville and No. 7 Wichita State). The Aztecs are 8-2 against Top 100 teams, including wins over No. 3 Kansas and No. 10 Creighton. New Mexico is 8-5 against BPI Top 100 teams.

BPI No. 13 Michigan State at No. 26 Michigan (12 PM Sunday, CBS)
BPI Projection:
Michigan 52 percent likely to win

Michigan’s 80-75 victory over Michigan State on Jan. 25 started the Spartans on a 4-4 slide that has helped drop them from No. 4 in the BPI rankings to their current spot. Michigan is the second-most inconsistent team in the BPI Top 30; in their five most recent games, the Wolverines have had two Game Scores of 99 or better and three of less than 50.