Thursday, February 16, 2017

An Enhanced RPI

The RPI for college basketball depends heavily on strength of schedule. So once you factor in the reward the teams in power conferences have, for simply being in those leagues, some teams with 10 losses are ranked, RPI-wise, over teams with five losses. Still, in the Big Dance every March in the early rounds we see little known teams from conferences other than the five mega-conferences upsetting the so-called "favorites."

Those Cinderellas are sometimes teams that just know how to win, no matter who they're playing or where. So how much should that factor matter, when comparing teams that haven't played one another and have few common opponents? 

OK, for basketball junkies I've got a way to combine RPI with the notion that some teams are good at winning. Here are the 25 teams taken from today's top 50 of the RPI (CBS Sports) that have five losses or less (their wins and losses are in parenthesis). 

They are listed, 1-25, according to their RPI today. But please note that teams with a better RPI than some listed, which have sustained six or more losses, have been omitted. So this way of looking at rankings combines strength-of-schedule with an appreciation for the teams' wins and losses. 

The national champion should come from this field. Teams from power conferences with 10 or 12 losses might get hot and win it all, but no one should be surprised if Gonzaga wins the championship game because the still undefeated Zags know how to win. 

The Enhanced RPI Top 25 

1. Baylor (21-4)
2. Villanova (25-2)
3. Kansas (23-3)
4. Gonzaga (26-0)
5. Louisville (21-5)
6. Arizona (23-3)
7. Oregon (21-4)
8. UNC (21-5)
9. Florida (21-5)
10. Kentucky (21-5)
11. Florida St. (21-5)
12. Duke (21-5)
13. Cincinnati (23-3)
14. Creighton (20-5)
15. Maryland (21-4)
16. Purdue (21-5)
17. St. Mary's (22-3)
18. SMU (23-4)
19. UCLA (23-3)
20. Wisconsin (21-4)
21. VCU (21-5)
22. Dayton (19-5)
23. Illinois St. (21-5)
24. USC (21-5)
25. Akron (21-4)

-- Words and photo by F.T. Rea

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