With Selection Sunday (NCAA men) and Selection Monday (NCAA women) quickly approaching, I thought it would be valuable to explain what the RPI is and the importance it has in the seeding of teams in the NCAA tournament.
The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) is a quantity used to measure teams based upon the wins, losses, and strength of schedule. The RPI has been used since 1981 to aid in the seeding of the men’s and women’s (since 1982) NCAA basketball tournaments. It is one of the factors the NCAA Selection Committee will take into great consideration as they determine what teams get in, what seeds they will be introduced as, and what teams will not be invited to compete in the tournament.
The current formula compromises a team’s winning percentage (25%), its opponents’ winning percentage (50%), and the winning percentage of those opponents’ opponents (25%). It appears as such:
- RPI = (WP x 0.25) + (OWP x 0.50) + (OOWP x 0.25)
- WP = Winning Percentage
- OWP = Opponents’ Winning Percentage
- OOWP = Opponents’ Opponents’ Winning Percentage
The argument against the RPI generally comes from low major conference schools who feel the emphasis on the strength of schedule gives an unfair advantage to teams from major conferences who easily can schedule their non-conference opponents or play in conferences with strong RPI numbers.
Beginning in 2006, the NCAA began to release the RPI calculations weekly beginning in January. Teams can track their RPI and identify where their performance is and that of their opponents’. This gives teams a much better picture about where they will be placed in the NCAA tournament.
Hopefully this post created better understanding about the RPI and how it carries so much weight especially going into next week. So hey, let’s leave the real madness to the games ahead. I’m ready for the tournament . . . Are you?
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