NCAA Releases RPI: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For the Big 12Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 9th, 2013
The NCAA released its RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) on Tuesday. The RPI isn’t the only factor used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and it certainly isn’t the best metric, but it is a consideration nonetheless. Simply put, the RPI is derived from three things: a team’s winning percentage, its opponents’ winning percentage, and its opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. They also began factoring in home, away, and neutral site games in 2004, so road wins are better than home wins and home losses are worse than road losses. It has its limitations — if it determined a national champion like in college football, we would all be in trouble. But it’s not a terrible way to assist in determining the NCAA Tournament field and where teams should be seeded. Like any numbers-based ranking system, it doesn’t always jive with a human poll, and that’s OK. There should always be a human element with a mixture of strictly numbers, as both sides can veer too far in one direction at times. (Example: The RPI has Colorado ranked sixth, too high, and San Diego State 40th, too low).
- Kansas is #2 after surviving a (much needed) close game against Temple at home on Saturday. The Jayhawks have solid wins against teams like Colorado (#6), Belmont (#21), and the aforementioned Temple (#28). Last month’s road win against Ohio State (#41) made it four wins against top 50 teams in the non-conference season. Bill Self has mastered the art of scheduling non-conference games at KU. You don’t think he knows winnable home games against teams like Belmont and Temple will help his RPI come Selection Sunday? The good coaches know which teams to schedule and where to schedule them, and Bill Self is no different in that regard.
- Oklahoma at #19 surprised me as well. The Sooners have wins over Texas A&M (#65), UTEP (#85), two wins over West Virginia (#105), and Oral Roberts (#115). On paper, their loss to Stephen F. Austin looks bad, but the Lumberjacks are #53 in RPI. Their other two losses came to top 100 teams as well, at Arkansas (#94) and Gonzaga (#5) on a neutral floor. With Oklahoma already so high, it bodes well for the Big 12 getting five teams into the NCAA Tournament.
- Baylor‘s two-point loss to Colorado on Nov. 16 doesn’t look so bad now that the Buffaloes are #6th, and a win in Rupp Arena over Kentucky is never a bad thing. But the Bears are #35 in RPI right now. That’s what losses to Charleston and Northwestern will do to your resume. I almost put this in the “Good” category because head coach Scott Drew has done a masterful job of sinking his team’s expectations once again this season. But with one of the best point guards in the nation in Pierre Jackson and plenty of talent elsewhere, there is no reason the Bears should be as low as #35 right now.
- We didn’t need the RPI to tell us that Texas and West Virginia have disappointed this season, but seeing the Mountaineers at #105 and the Longhorns at #127 is another reminder of how mediocre the belly of the Big 12 is this season. Both teams were expected to hang around the top of the conference standings. Texas has been without sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo due to an NCAA suspension and will miss him until next month. The West Virginia offense has struggled all season, scoring 69.2 PPG (#146 nationally) while shooting 39.7 percent per game (#303 nationally).
- TCU wasn’t invited to the Big 12 because of its basketball program, but it’s still a disappointment to see how bad the Horned Frogs have been this season. They debuted at #214 in the RPI and have losses to SMU and Houston on their resume, but neither loss is as bad as what happened in their Big 12 debut over the weekend.
- TCU lost at home to Texas Tech on Saturday, 62-53. The Red Raiders are #251 right now. Both teams are going to hurt the rest of the Big 12’s strength of schedule all season long. How bad, you ask? Here are some teams that the rest of the Big 12 would be better off beating rather than Texas Tech and TCU: Southeast Missouri State, Central Connecticut State, North Carolina A&T, Robert Morris, and North Florida, to name a few. If we’re talking strictly RPI, there are a handful of teams that Kansas or Oklahoma State, for example, could lose to that would help their RPI more than beating Texas Tech or TCU.