Monday, February 11, 2008

RPI: Ranking Poor Institutions

One of the worst things that has happened to college basketball is the creation of the RPI (rating percentage index) the process which is described below.

“The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is the formula used by the NCAA to rate men’s and women’s college basketball teams. The formula is described below. The RPI is calculated by adding three parts. Part I (25% of the formula): Team winning percentage. For the 2005 season, the NCAA added a bonus/penalty system, where each home win or road loss get multiplied by 0.6 in the winning percentage calculation. A home loss or road win is multiplied by 1.4. Neutral games count as 1.0. Part II (50%): Average opponents’ winning percentage. To calculate this, you must calculate each opponent’s winning percentage individually and average those figures. This is NOT calculated from the opponents’ combined record. Games involving the team for whom we are calculating the RPI are ignored. Part III (25%): Average opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage: Basically taking all of the opponents’ Part II values and averaging them.

Here’s how other columns in the RPI grid are computed…

SOS (Strength of Schedule): This is the last two components of the RPI formula:
(2/3) X Opponents Winning Pct. + (1/3) X Opponents Opponents Winning Pct. Non Conference RPI: This is computed applying the basic RPI formula only to a team’s non-conference games. A common misconception is that a team’s non conference RPI will remain the same after they have played their last non-conference opponent. This is not true because a team’s non-conference opponents’ records and their opponents’ records change as they play their conference games. This can have a substantial effect on the NCRPI. For example, in 2003 Alabama’s NCRPI had a ranking of #23 when they entered conference play. By the end of the regular season it had risen to #3. L10 (Last 10 Games): A team’s record in their last 10 games against Division I opponents. RD/NT (Road/Neutral Record): A team’s record away from its home court”.

This system reminds me a lot of the BCS which is used for the selection of the Division I college football bowl games. There is no reason that a computer something that I use to download music and occasionally look at porn (had to throw that in there) should be deciding whom should be playing whom. Below are the current RPI rankings:

RPI 1 Tennessee2 Duke3 North Carolina4 Memphis5 Kansas6 Drake7 UCLA8 Georgetown9 Texas10 Connecticut11 Vanderbilt12 Xavier13 Michigan State14 Arizona15 Pittsburgh16 Dayton17 Louisville18 Butler19 Stanford20 Wisconsin21 Mississippi22 St. Mary's23 Rhode Island24 Clemson25 Washington State

As seen above I am seeing a lot of suspect teams in the RPI rankings. Taking a look at Drake being ranked 7th in the RPI is astonishing to me. This is a team from a mid major conference which in the past was a very strong conference but this year to me it’s a below average conference. You have a team like Southern Illinois who was a Pre-season top 25 selection who is now fighting just to stay above .500 (pretty pathetic to me). Drake though you can give a little credit to, but not number 6 in the country credit to. It pisses me off every time I see a team from a shitty conference in the top 25 unless they have played a decent schedule (Butler for instance). Dayton number 16 in the RPI, they really only have 2 legitimate and they were against a beat up Pittsburgh team, and another beat up Louisville team. Do you honestly think they deserve to be ranked #16 Absolutely NOT!! These computer rankings are helping out small nothing schools, who deserve to be in nothing more than the NIT playing in there crappy conferences. You have Pac-10 schools with better records (Washington State) who are ranked behind Dayton’s and Drake’s, who are playing legitimate teams night after night, but are only deserving of a #25 ranking, that does not seem right. They have come a little way in changing the system by adding the Bracket Buster games which help us organize the Mid-Major teams. This is a step in the positive which is a great start, but many more things need to be done before I believe we can finally have a fair way to distinguish which teams should make the NCAA tourney and which should be left at home.

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