Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Completely Irrelevant RPI Data (To the Pollsters) 2-12-08

So, who does better in determining the strength of teams? Sports writers? The secretaries for college basketball coaches? The RPI? Completely Irrelevant RPI Data is here to help you decide. For further poll-bashing, do not miss Goro's rants on Salukitalk.

The Hall of Shame

[Team Record Conference (AP ranking, Espn/USA ranking, RPI ranking) Difference between poll average and RPI]

#1 Purdue 19-5 B10 (19,23, 40) +19

Purdue ‘improves’ one spot to head up this weeks’ Hall of Shame. Granted, Purdue did pick up a quality win this week, on the road at Wisconsin, but Purdue also has a couple awful losses, against #124 Iowa State on a neutral court, and AT HOME versus #165 Wofford. A 10-1 record in the B10 is, to be frank, not too telling this year, and it should be noted as well that Purdue lined up 6 RPI 235+ patsies for home consumption, which is one of the primary reasons that Purdue’s Strength of Schedule stands at 254.

#2 Indiana 20-3 B10 (13,12, 29) +16.5

The Indiana (the state) bias continues this week, with Indiana (the team) holding its #2 position in the Hall of Shame. Indiana did pick up a quality win this week, against Ohio State, but that gives them a grand total of two victories against the RPI top 50. When one looks past the 9-1 record in a Big 10 that is weak this year, to the 5 home victories against RPI 224+ teams, it is clear that Indiana does not belong in the top 15.

#3-T Stanford 20-3 P10 (7,7, 19) +12

Stanford undeservedly climbed a couple spots in the polls this week on the basis of one good, and one entirely expected home win, and they also climb into a third-place tie in this weeks’ Hall of Shame. Should Stanford really be a top 10 team? When their best win came against Arizona at home? When eight of their wins came against RPI 203+ teams, with seven of those wins coming at home? When their Strength of Schedule is #273 of 341 teams? Stanford will, unlike last year, be in the tournament deservedly. They do not, however, deserve a top 10 ranking.

#3-T Texas A&M 20-4 B12 (16,16, 28) +12

After a dishonorable mention last week, Texas A&M joins the rankings this week on the ‘strength’ of two solid, but unspectacular wins this week against average opposition. The win against Texas on January 30 probably makes A&M ranking-worthy. But a ranking within the top 20? When the OOC schedule included 7 RPI 200+ patsies at home and non-DI powerhouse Ouchita Baptist? When a teams Strength of Schedule is #222? Try again. . .

#3-T Kansas State 17-5 B12 (18,22, 32) +12

Like Texas A&M, Kansas State picked up two solid but unspectacular wins against average opposition this week. Like Texas A&M, Kansas State has picked up one excellent win, against Kansas on January 30, but followed that up with a loss against a mediocre Missouri team. Like Texas A&M, and all the other teams in the Hall of Shame, Kansas State lined up the patsies: their fare included #258 Savannah State, #264 Western Illinois, #268 Florida A&M, #326 Winston-Salem State, #331 Sacramento State, and non-DI Pittsburgh State.

Dropped from Rankings: Florida (now unranked); Notre Dame +8; Butler +8.5

The House of Pain

[Team Record Conference (AP ranking, Espn/USA ranking, RPI ranking) Difference between poll average and RPI]

#1 Dayton 16-6 A10 (NR,NR, 16) –24.5

Dayton maintains its top spot in the House of Pain, and the way that their season is progressing, may very well become the team with the highest RPI which is DESERVEDLY left out of the tournament (unlike say Missouri State, which has been repeatedly ****ed for no good reason). This is especially true after the loss at #227 George Washington on Saturday, leaving them with road/neutral record of 4-5. Excellent early season wins against Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Rhode Island are now a distant memory. Just how low can it go for Dayton?

#2 Arizona 15-8 P10 (31,34, 14) –18.5

A home loss to an average Arizona State team naturally did Arizona no favors with the pollsters this week. But it is criminal that a team with four quality wins (three more than #13 Indiana) and the #1 Strength of Schedule in the country is not even close to sniffing the top 25.

#3 Mississippi 16-5 SEC (35,36, 21) –14.5

Mississippi is another team which started out great guns this season, picking up four quality wins in the process, and have since run into some serious difficulties, including losing on the road to an Auburn team for whom ‘mediocre’ would be a compliment. This weak, they picked up another ‘good loss’, on the road at Arkansas. Running the table from here would, however, be a strong possibility, and it is more than likely than Mississippi will not only rightfully regain a ranking, but will dance with a reasonably high seed as well.

#4-T Vanderbilt 20-4 SEC (24,19, 11) –10.5

Vanderbilt stopped the rot this week by picking up two road wins, and actually managed to drop one spot, to #24, in the AP poll, and maintain its spot in the House of Pain. QUE!? This is a team with two wins versus teams in the top 50 of the RPI, and no losses to any team lower than #87. Their midseason slump increasingly appears to be just that. A midseason slump. Time for the pollsters to give them some love.

#4-T Clemson 16-6 ACC (33,38, 25) –10.5

Clemson were edged on the road, in double overtime, by North Carolina on Sunday. They were rewarded with a grand total of seven votes in the two polls combined. Clemson does not deserve a ranking. But lets compare them with a Florida team which nearly got there. Top 50 Wins: Clemson 2, Florida 1; Top 100 Wins: Clemson 7, Florida 5; Number of wins versus RPI 150+: Clemson 6, Florida 12; Strength of Schedule: Clemson 141, Florida 303; Number of recent National Championships: Clemson 0, Florida 2; Number of votes in the polls: Clemson 7, Florida 47.

Dropped from rankings: Massachusetts (out of RPI top 25); Drake –8.5

Average Conference (or State) Bias

Teams from Indiana: +13 (Butler, Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue)
Big 10: +11.1 (Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue)
Big 12: +6 (Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State)
All Others: +.5 (Memphis, Butler, Drake, St. Mary’s)
Pac 10: -.8 (UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona)
Big East: -1.5 (Georgetown, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Marquette)
ACC: -4.2 (Duke, North Carolina, Clemson)
SEC: -9.3 (Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi)
Atlantic 10: -10 (Xavier, Rhode Island, Dayton)

The Big 10 and the Atlantic 10 remain the outliers, although it should be noted that the pollsters are also engaging in a Hoosiers love fest. THE MOVIE WAS OVER 20 YEARS AGO FOLKS!

Teams with closest correlation between ranking and RPI:

1-T. Duke, Georgetown (+/-0)
3. Xavier (-.5)
4-T. UCLA, St. Mary’s (+1; -1)

Teams included in analysis:

[Any team in the top 25 of the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll, or the RPI.]

Memphis 23-0 CUSA; Duke 21-1 ACC; Kansas 23-1 B12; Tennessee 21-2 SEC; North Carolina 22-2 ACC; UCLA 21-3 P10; Stanford 20-3 P10; Georgetown 19-3 BE; Butler 21-2 Horz; Michigan State 20-3; B10 Texas 19-4 B12; Xavier 20-4 A10; Indiana 20-3 B10; Drake 22-1 MVC; Wisconsin 19-4 B10; Texas A&M 20-4 B12; Connecticut 18-5 BE; Notre Dame 18-4 BE; Kansas State 17-5 B12; Washington State 18-5 P10; Purdue 19-5 B10; Vanderbilt 20-4 SEC; St. Mary’s 20-3 WCC; Pittsburgh 18-5 BE; Louisville 18-6 BE; Marquette 16-6 BE; Rhode Island 20-4 A10; Arizona 15-8 P10; Clemson 16-6 ACC; Mississippi 16-5 SEC; Dayton 16-6 A10

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