The announcement that the NCAA will track a new “adjusted RPI” has generated a little buzz recently. Seth Davis came out of summer hibernation to write about it, Andy Katz followed, Joe Lunardi has piled on some thoughts of his own, and now local beat writers are in the mix.
Here’s the truth: this alternate formula that is designed to reward road play will have almost no impact on the selection process, and it will have absolutely no impact on scheduling. I’ll post a few things over the next few days to prove this. But first I have to establish some basic points so we’re all on the same page.
Today’s issue is from the Davis column:
However, that ranking will be evaluated separately from the standard RPI, which is based 75 percent on who a team plays, and 0 percent on where.
While the RPI formula literally factors strength of schedule (SOS) as 75% of the final RPI value, this is not how it works in practice. I went over this in last year’s defending the RPI series. You should read it if you get a chance because the content still applies. I’ll repeat some points from it over the next few days because they will address a number of items related to an “adjusted RPI.”
Since SOS values have less variance (they tend to hover closer to the .500 mark) than winning percentage, a team’s movement in the RPI is slightly more dependent on winning percentage than SOS. To use numbers from 2004, the range of winning percentage last year for all 326 teams was 0.9310, and the range of SOS was 0.2417. If you multiply the 75% by .2417, the result is .1812. This is the maximum possible difference that can be achieved in the SOS part of the formula. For winning percentage, the difference is 25% times .9310 with the result being .2328. So in practice, winning percentage has more influence on RPI than schedule strength.
This is demonstrated by the fact that of the 23 teams that finished with 6 or fewer losses last season, only Mississippi Valley State failed to crack the top 100 of the RPI. This was due to the Delta Devils having a schedule strength ranked 315 out of 326 – about as low as possibly could be attained. Of the 22 teams that made the top 100, seven had an SOS in the bottom half of college basketball. While a great RPI needs a good record and a good schedule, a good RPI can be achieved simply by winning.
Next post: Is it really twice as hard to win a road game than a home game?