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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

BASIC BIITTNER : R.I.P. R.P.I.

Monday, March 17, 2008

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A few years ago, in their never-ending quest to drive college basketball fans crazy (why do you think it's called "March Madness?"), Bob Knight's favorite organization, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (hereafter known as the NCAA) devised something called the R.P.I. to "help" their committee that selects the at-large teams for the 64-team (no, excuse me, 65-team) post-season basketball tournament.

The R.P.I. stands for the "Rating Percentage Index," and it was apparently created many years ago, but has just become more widely-known in the last few years.

When I say "widely-known," this is not to imply that any rational person has any idea just what the RPI is, or how it is derived, because I don't think that is the case.

Here, from a March 5th Washington Post column, is one man's definition and explanation of the RPI:

"The Rating Percentage Index is a mathematical measurement of a team's strength.

The NCAA tournament selection committee uses it to help determine which 34 teams will receive at-large bids. The formula consists of a team's winning percentage against Division I opponents (25 percent), the opponents' average winning percentage (50 percent) and the opponents' opponents' average winning percentage (25 percent).

Road victories are multiplied by 1.4 in the portion of the formula that deals with a team's winning percentage, while home victories are multiplied by 0.6.

A team with an RPI that is in the top 40 is in fairly good shape to earn an NCAA tournament invitation. A team with an RPI that is 50th or worse is in danger of being excluded."

There - understood, class?

Here are the RPI "standings," as of March 10:

Top Twenty teams:

1 -Tennessee
2 - North Carolina
3 - Memphis
4 - Duke
5 - Texas
6 - UCLA
7 - Georgetown

8 - Kansas

9 - Xavier
10 - Vanderbilt
11 - Louisville

12 - Drake

13 - Wisconsin
14 - Connecticut
15 - Michigan St.
16 - Stanford
Indiana

18 - Butler

19 - Notre Dame
20 - BYU

FYI, Davidson is #41, Syracuse 45, Ohio State 47, Kentucky 48, UNI 127, Iowa State 170, and Iowa 185 in the RPI "standings."

Compare this to the lates

AP Poll: or the Coaches' Poll:

1.North Carolina 1.North Carolina

2.Memphis 2.UCLA

3.UCLA 3. Memphis

4.Tennessee 4.Tennessee

5.Kansas 5. Kansas

6.Texas 6. Wisconsin

7.Duke 7. Duke

8.Wisconsin 8. Texas

9.Georgetown 9. Georgetown

10.Xavier 10.Butler

11.Stanford 11.Stanford

12.Butler 12.Xavier

13.Louisville 13.Louisville

14.Notre Dame 14.Notre Dame

15.Connecticut 15.Connecticut

16.Drake 16.Purdue

17.Purdue 17.Vanderbilt

18.Vanderbilt 18.Drake

19.Michigan State 19.Mich. State

20.Gonzaga 20.Indiana

To me, though the actual rankings vary a little from poll to poll, each poll's Top 20 contains virtually the same teams. So why bother with the RPI - just have the NCAA consult with sports writers and coaches pick the teams. I say R.I.P., R.P.I.

And while we're at it, let's just do away with rankings by anyone, in any sport, at least until mid-to-late season, anyway. Why rank teams in pre-season or the early going?

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner