New ESPN BPI Rankings are Useful but Far From Groundbreaking

Posted by EJacoby on February 13th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

The Worldwide Leader is again looking to stake its claim in the advanced stat revolution, this time in the college basketball realm. Saturday was the unveiling of ESPN’s new College Basketball Power Index (BPI), which ranks all Division I teams 1-344 based on a number of factors that go beyond wins and losses. The two most obvious questions to ask of this new system are: How does the BPI compare to the KenPom and Sagarin ratings that college basketball purists have come to know so well? And is this BPI ranking system any good on its own? These rankings appears to be quite similar to those of the popular KenPom, though there are a couple of unique additions to this system that attempt to make it stand out.

The New BPI Rankings De-Value Ohio State's Games They Played Without Jared Sullinger (AP Photo/T. Gilliam)

It’s hard to argue with what ESPN is doing here by releasing a brand new metric at the perfect time now that college basketball begins to own much of the sports spotlight for the next month and a half. It will be helpful to read ESPN’s introduction to the index, which gives a chart that points out the features of the BPI compared to RPI, KenPom, and Sagarin, and also describes the benefits of their system that they believe is the most accurate assessment of team rankings. ESPN notes that their numbers include details that are “pretty technical and many people won’t be interested, so we won’t go into detail, but we think they improve how the tool works.” Considering the great technicality with which many purists understand Sagarin and KenPom, it would actually be quite useful to release this ‘technical’ information for comparison’s sake. Regardless, the BPI appears to be quite similar to these accepted ratings. BPI accounts for pace when measuring scoring margin, it awards value to winning close games more than close losses, and it includes detailed strength of schedule numbers.

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Night Line: Louisville Finally Gets Exposed, Takes First Loss to Georgetown

Posted by EJacoby on December 29th, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

On Wednesday night, a couple of previously undefeated teams took their first losses of the season as conference play began. For Indiana, it was a reminder of how tough conference play is on the road, and a loss was expected by the Hoosiers as an underdog at Michigan State. But for Louisville, at home in the KFC Yum! Center, its loss was a confirmation of this team’s weaknesses that may prevent the Cardinals from becoming an elite team this season. Rick Pitino’s squad ran into their first disciplined opponent that held strong for 40 minutes, and it resulted in a solid Georgetown win. Louisville, who had escaped from several near-losses earlier in the season, was finally exposed on the offensive end by a team that could take advantage of its weaknesses there. The Cards shot just 42% for the game and must improve their shooting if they want to seriously challenge for a Big East title.

Peyton Siva and Louisville Struggled Shooting the Ball Against Georgetown (AP/T. Easley)

Louisville walked away unscathed in its non-conference games, but a closer look at the team’s play through 12 games led many analysts to consider them overrated. Though 12-0 on the season heading into this week and ranked #4 in the AP poll, our RTC voters were not buying into the Cardinals as a true top-5 team, ranking them 10th in the latest RTC Top 25. Wednesday’s home loss confirmed our pollsters’ beliefs, and the Cardinals are next headed to Rupp Arena on Saturday for a meeting with No. 3 Kentucky. By the time next week’s AP poll comes out, Rick Pitino’s team might be lucky to stay in the top 10.

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And You Wonder Why the Pac-12 Gets No Respect…

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 21st, 2011

Adams State, Seattle Pacific, and Loyola Marymount. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Cal Poly, Pepperdine, and Middle Tennessee. What do all of these teams have in common, you might be wondering? They have all posted early season wins over Pac-12 teams, causing much of the nation to already write off the conference as an elite power. People over here on the left coast love to point out “East Coast bias,” referring to the lack of love that the Pac-12 gets in terms of both rankings, publicity, and respect. But can you blame them after some of these losses? As it stands today, the league is 24-15, with an astonishing 11 of those losses coming against teams from outside the six power conferences.

You could make a good argument that Arizona is the best team in the Pac-12, yet they lost to Division II Seattle Pacific in an exhibition game earlier in the season. Behind the Wildcats is California, who has not yet been tested this season. But after those two, what does the Pac-12 have to offer? Washington lost by 13 against Saint Louis and only defeated Florida Atlantic by six. Surely not UCLA, who in the midst of chemistry issues has fallen to LMU by 11 and MTSU by 20. God knows what will happen when they play at Chaminade tonight and against Pepperdine (who beat Arizona State) a week from today. It’s reasons like these that people around the country stop paying attention to the Pac-12 in December, something that hurts the conference considerably on Selection Sunday.

Missed rebounds like this one by Arizona forward Angelo Chol led to a Seattle Pacific upset of the Wildcats. The game started a chain reaction of early season losses for Pac-12 teams (credit: Arizona Star)

Bad non-conference losses are nothing new to the Pac-12. Last year featured upsets like San Jose State and Idaho over Oregon, and Seattle University, Texas Southern, Utah Valley, and George Washington over Oregon State. In 2009-10 there were losses by the Beavers against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sacramento State, Illinois-Chicago, Seattle (again, this time a 51-point defeat), and Boston U, while UCLA lost to teams like Cal State Fullerton, Portland (by 27), and Long Beach State. Read the rest of this entry »

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2007-08 Preseason BlogPoll

Posted by rtmsf on October 6th, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

The 2007-08 preseason blogpoll is out!

07-08 Preseason BlogPoll

Contributors: March to Madness (administrator), NCAA Hoops Today, SEC Hoops: TGTBTD, March Madness All Season, A Sea of Blue, College Hoops Heaven, Rush the Court. All ballots archived here.

We’ll delve further into the reasons why we voted the way we did as the season preview moves along this month, but suffice it to say that we don’t have many major beefs with the way the preseason blogpoll turned out. We generally think Michigan St., Marquette, Texas and Duke are a little overvalued, while Indiana, Gonzaga and VCU are undervalued, but we were pretty much in lockstep with the group as to who the collective best five teams are.

FYI – our two ranked teams that were left on the outside looking in were Syracuse (#21) and Southern Illinois (#22).

This should be a lot of fun – we can’t wait to get the season started.

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09.13.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 12th, 2007

News from around the basketblogosphere…

  • A couple of late summer transfers to report today. It appears Kenny Cooper is leaving Oklahoma St. to be closer to home (Louisiana) and Anthony Gurley (Massachusetts) is leaving Wake Forest for the same reason.
  • Our new friends over at Plissken at the Buzzer put together a well-thought out and detailed analysis of the Pac-10′s non-conference schedules in an effort to determine how it will ultimately affect their postseason chances.
  • Lion in Oil reports that the Final Four will embrace the BasketBowl approach to squeeze more fans into “distant view” seats on the final weekend beginning in 2009.
  • Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt of psychedelic mushroom fame is set to return to the team after paying off his debt to society (no, it did not involve organic farming).
  • NC State’s promising freshman Jonny Thomas is out for the season with a knee injury.
  • Goodman reports Greg Monroe is down to his final eight schools (Duke, Georgetown, LSU, USC, Baylor, UConn, Texas, Kansas), and that KU’s Darrell Arthur is fully recovered from his stress fracture.
  • Fluff Pieces. Parrish writes about Capel’s rebuilding project at Oklahoma, DeCourcy writes about Willie Kemp’s expected role at Memphis alongside Derrick Rose, and Goodman writes about Donnie Jones returning home to coach at Marshall.
  • Shawn Siegel‘s teams that won’t make the NCAA Tournament (#144 – #72) are up, with some interesting comparisons to the preseason rankings from 2006.
  • Finally, we have to mention that we’re excited to see what the combo of Ken Pomeroy and Baseball Prospectus can come up with in their new blog called Basketball Prospectus, which will focus exclusively on college hoops from a statistical bent beginning this fall.
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