For those of you who don’t know what the College Basketball RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is, I will do my best to explain it. The RPI is the formula used to rate men’s and women’s college basketball teams. The basic formula is 1/4 (Winning Percentage) + 1/2 (Opponents’ Average Winning Percentage) + 1/4 (Opponents’ Opponents’ Winning Percentage). This taken from the NCAA website will explain it the best.

The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) was created in 1981 to provide supplemental data for the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee in its evaluation of teams for at-large selection and seeding of the championship bracket.

The RPI is intended to be used as one of many resources used by the committee in the selection, seeding and bracketing process. It never should be considered anything but an additional evaluation tool. No computer program that is based on pure numbers can take into account subjective concepts, e.g., how well a team is playing down the stretch,what the loss or return of a top player means to a team, or how emotional a specific conference game may be.

Several independent elements are combined to produce the RPI. These elements are a part of the statistical information that can be utilized by each member in an objective manner.

Each committee member independently evaluates a vast pool of information available during the process to develop individual preferences. It is these subjective opinions–developed after many hours of personal observations, discussion with coaches, directors of athletics and commissioners, and review and comparison of objective data–that dictate how each individual ultimately will vote on all issues related to the selection, seeding and bracketing process.

While the various elements of the RPI are important in the evaluation process, the tournament bracket each year is based on the subjectivity of each individual committee member to select the best at-large teams available and to create a nationally balanced championship.

So lets take a look at some teams and conference’s RPI’s after the jump.

First lets take a look my beloved UCONN Huskies. UCONN is currently ranked 68th out of 336 teams in the RPI. Their strength of schedule is 134th best in the country. Against teams in the top 50, they are 0-4. Those are their four losses this year (West Virginia 48th, LSU 46th, Marquette 36th, and Pittsburgh 3rd). Against teams ranked 51-100, they are 1-0 and against teams that are ranked 100-336, they are 12-0. So as you can see right now, UCONN is lacking that “signature” win against a top team. This does not bode well for them come selection time if they are on the bubble. A win this Saturday against Indiana (21st) would most certainly help the Huskies but they would need a few more of these. Briefly looking at the strength of UCONN’s non-conference schedule, they are ranked 298th out of 336 teams. There was a reason for this as UCONN came into this season with 9 new players. Will this hurt the Huskies on Selection Sunday? You can bet your bottom dollar it will.

Let’s take a look at the Big East teams and where they rank in the RPI:

  • Pittsburgh- 3rd
  • Villanova- 18th
  • Marquette- 36th
  • Syracuse- 38th
  • Notre Dame- 39th
  • West Virginia- 48th
  • Georgetown- 51st
  • DePaul- 55th
  • Providence- 60th
  • UCONN- 68th
  • Louisville- 90th
  • Seton Hall- 96th
  • Cincinnati- 153rd
  • South Florida- 160th
  • St. Johns- 175th
  • Rutgers- 179th

So as you can see, UCONN wins against the teams higher than them in the conference will certainly help them down the stretch in the RPI as well as in the Big East.

By comparison, the #1 team in the RPI is the UCLA Bruins. They have the 2nd strongest schedule in the country and the toughest non-conference schedule. The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks are the 336th team in the RPI. They have the 327th strongest schedule in the country and the 334th toughest non-conference schedule. So for them, the only way they would make the NCAA Tournament is to win their conference tournament.

There are 32 conferences that are listed in the RPI. Let’s take a look at the top 10:

  1. Pac 10
  2. ACC
  3. SEC
  4. MVC (Missouri Valley Conference)
  5. Big 10
  6. Big XII
  7. Big East
  8. MWC (Mountain West Conference)
  9. WAC (Western Athletic Conference)
  10. C-USA

As you can see here, there’s a mid-major conference ranked #4. This high ranking of the conference shows that the mid-major teams and conferences are only getting stronger each year. Teams from conferences like this are the reasons why we are starting to see more and more upsets each season.

If you want to see how your favorite college team is doing in the RPI, check it out here.

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