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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BCS Conference H2H (thru 12.25.07)

Posted by rtmsf on December 26th, 2007

We’d originally hoped to track this better than we have throughout the pre-conference slate, but sometimes life gets in the way. A little over a month ago, we noted that the ACC and Pac-10 were leading the early charge with several marquee wins over the other BCS conferences. How has that changed in the interim?

BCS h2h 12.25.07


Data Source:


  • The Pac-10 and ACC continue to lead the way, showing 1-2 in overall winning pct., with the ACC earning a commanding record against other BCS conferences (28-14), while every other league has struggled to reach .500. Most impressively, the ACC has a winning record against every other league but the Pac-10 so far this season (1-1). The Pac-10 has only lost eight games against mid- and low-major teams thus far. This comports with the RPI and Sagarin computer rankings, which has these two leagues in the top three in both measurements.
  • Overall, the SEC has proven to be a joke thus far. Sure, the league can beat the low-majors (it certainly plays enough of them), but a 13-20 record against the other BCS conferences shows that this league just isn’t very good this year. It currently holds only one winning record against a BCS opponent – 5-4 versus the Big East.
  • The other three leagues – Big 10, Big 12, Big East – all have shown to be various grades of average. The Big 12 has the advantage over the other two at this point, with its 21-20 record against the other leagues, but it tends to lose more often to mid-majors than the others.
  • Quick rankings based on solely this measure: 1) ACC (h2h record is impressive); 2) Pac-10 (only loses to BCS teams); 3) Big 12 (generally good across the board); 4) Big East (more teams = more bad teams to bring it down); 5) Big 10 (sigh… 3-10 v. the ACC, again); 6) SEC (may not be better than the MVC or A10 this year).

Marquee Win to date

  • ACC – Duke 77, Marquette 73.
  • Big East – Pittsburgh 65, Duke 64.
  • Big 10 – Michigan St. 78, Texas 72.
  • Big 12 – Texas 63, UCLA 61.
  • Pac-10 – UCLA 68, Michigan St. 63.
  • SEC – Ole Miss 85, Clemson 82.

Ugliest Loss to date

  • ACC – American 67, Maryland 59.
  • Big East – Dayton 70, Louisville 65.
  • Big 10 – Wofford 69, Purdue 66.
  • Big 12 – Stephen F. Austin 66, Oklahoma 62.
  • Pac-10 – Mercer 96, USC 81.
  • SEC – Gardner-Webb 84, Kentucky 68
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The West Side is the Best Side…

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2007


2Pac was right after all

Quite a bit was made last season of a renaissance in the quality of basketball in the Pac-10 conference, as it ended the season as a top three conference in both the RPI and Sagarin ratings in addition to earning a record six NCAA bids for the conference and enjoying the prestige as the only conference with multiple teams in the Elite Eight (Oregon and UCLA). There has always been a surplus of talent on the west coast, especially in the Seattle and SoCal areas, but it was largely characterized by players opting to play for an eastern school just as often as staying home to play for State U. This has been changing over the last five years, however, as new coaches such as Lorenzo Romar at Washington, Tim Floyd at USC, Tony Bennett at Wazzu and Ben Howland at UCLA have endeavored and succeeded in keeping as many of those talents as possible close to home. This is no more evident than in some of the recruiting wars over the last couple of years that resulted in top ten players such as Spencer Hawes (Washington), twins Brook & Robin Lopez (Stanford), Kevin Love (UCLA) and Brandon Jennings (Arizona) signing to play in the Pac-10 (notable exception: Lake Oswego’s (OR) Kyle Singler to Duke).

Steve Lavin

Lavin’s former conference is on the rise

Still, we were a little surprised when Rivals released its top ten players at each position for the 2007-08 season, and the Pac-10 claimed by far the most players, with thirteen of the top fifty. This is especially remarkable given that the league is losing all-conference performers Arron Afflalo (UCLA), Aaron Brooks (Oregon), Marcus Williams (Arizona) and Nick Young (USC) to the NBA next season, while it welcomes likely top fifty players Kevin Love and OJ Mayo (USC) to the league. With talent like this staying on the west coast, we should expect another great season from the Pac-10 conference next year. Somewhere Steve Lavin’s hair gel is celebrating.

The ACC and Big East have seven players each on the list; the SEC has six, and the the Big 12 has five of the top fifty players. The Mountain West and Conference USA both have three of the top fifty, outperforming the Big 10 (again), who only has two. The Colonial (Eric Maynor – VCU), Horizon (AJ Graves – Butler), Missouri Valley (Randal Falker – S. Illinois) and Southern (Stephen Curry – Davidson) conferences each have one top fifty player returning. Below is the list including multiple-player conferences:

Rivals 2007-08 Top 50 Players

You probably noticed that we shaded the teams with three top fifty players returning next season – Stanford, UCLA, UNC, Kansas. It’s certainly no coincidence that three of those will begin next year in the top five of the polls, and the fourth, Stanford, will probably be knocking on the door of the top ten.

Thoughts –

  • Where is all the Big Ten talent? Having less players on this list than CUSA and the Mountain West is cause for alarm, and helps to explain why only one Big Ten team played into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament last season. Where are the usual stables of talent at Michigan State and Illinois? Aside from the yeoman’s work that Matta is putting into recruting at OSU, the rest of the Big Ten has signed only two top thirty prospects during the last three recruiting cycles – Joe Krabbenhoft of Wisconsin in 2005, and Eric Gordon of Indiana in 2007. An influx of coaching talent has entered the league (Tubby Smith at Minnesota and Kelvin Sampson at Indiana), but without the players to accompany those moves, the Big Ten is going nowhere fast.
  • Nitpicks. We probably would have found a place for the following players: Derrick Low (Washington St.), Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Jerel McNeal (Marquette), and Patrick Beverley (Arkansas). Expect each of these players to be all-conference performers in their respective leagues next season. We also have a sneaky feeling that guys like DaJuan Summers (Georgetown), Deon Thompson (UNC), Derrick Caracter (Louisville) and JaJuan Smith (Tennessee) will make a solid case to be on this list next season.
  • Surprises. NC State’s future looks bright with two young big men, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley, returning for Sidney Lowe’s team. Alabama should be much improved next year as well, assuming Ronald Steele gets healthy (he was on many preseason all-american teams last year but struggled with tendinitis and ankle injuries that largely derailed Bama’s season). Apologies to the Mountain West, but who are Stuart Creason and Luke Nevill? Their inclusion on this list shows that the depth of talent at the center position in the college game is ridiculously thin.
  • Instant Impact Players in 2007-08. This list next season will be populated by the likes of OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley (Kansas St.), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and Anthony Randolph (LSU).
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