The NCAA has released a chart showing how the new Ratings Percentage Index formula would have affected every Division I team in 2011. The chart shows each team's actual 2011 RPI ranking, and where it would have ranked under the new formula, which weights road victories as 1.3 wins and home victories as 0.7 wins. The new formula only affects the 25 percent of the RPI that considers a team's actual win-loss record; the other 75 percent is effectively just a team's strength of schedule (its opponents' winning percentage is 50 percent, and its opponents' opponents' winning percentate is 25 percent). That part of the formula does not change.
As you can see, the teams at the top are largely unaffected by the new formula. In the following charts, the number in parentheses is a team's actual 2011 RPI ranking, and the number after the colon is its adjusted RPI ranking using the new formula.
THE TOP 10
(1) North Carolina: 1
(2) Virginia: 2
(3) Florida: 4
(4) Vanderbilt: 3
(5) Florida State: 5
(6) South Carolina: 6
(7) Clemson: 7
(8) Georgia Tech: 8
(9) Arizona State: 10
(10) Texas A&M: 9
The hosting picture would not be greatly affected, either.
TEAMS THAT MOVE INTO TOP 16
(17) Stanford: 16
TEAMS THAT DROP OUT OF TOP 16
(15) Miami: 19
Also note that Texas Christian (which hosted a regional) dropped from 19 to 29—a drop that would likely have torpedoed its hosting chances. Then again, UCLA hosted last year with an RPI of No. 34; under the new formula, the Bruins would move up to 28th.
Committee members say they expect the new formula to have more impact on the margins of the NCAA tournament field than at the top. Boyd's World's RPI Needs Report uses the top 45 as target for teams seeking at-large bids, so let's take a look at teams that would have entered the top 45 or dropped out of the top 45 using the new formula.
TEAMS THAT MOVE INTO TOP 45
(47) Kansas State: 41
(48) Connecticut: 37
(49) Elon: 43
(53) St. John's: 34
(50) Troy: 45
TEAMS THAT FALL OUT OF TOP 45
(39) Mississippi: 48
(42) Auburn: 49
(43) Dallas Baptist: 60
(47) Texas Tech: 54
These charts underscore the point that RPI is not the sole determining factor when it comes to filling out the field of 64, as K-State, UConn, St. John's and Troy were given at-large spots despite finishing outside the top 45, while Ole Miss and Texas Tech were left out by a committee that emphasized conference play over the RPI. But Dallas Baptist would likely have been omitted from the tournament field after an RPI plunge of 17 places. Also, it's worth noting that at the margin of the field, four of the five teams that enter the top 45 are cold-weather teams, while all four teams that drop out are Southeastern Conference or Lone Star State teams.
Here's a look at the biggest gainers and biggest droppers overall.
(108) Manhattan: 66 — plus 42
(229) Alcorn State: 188 — plus 41
(133) Central Michigan: 99 — plus 34
(162) Maine: 131 — plus 31
(161) South Dakota State: 130 — plus 31
(122) Purdue: 94 — plus 28
(207) Binghamton: 180 — plus 27
(159) Southern Illinois: 132 — plus 27
(223) Le Moyne: 197 — plus 26
(104) Utah: 78 — plus 26
(160) Princeton: 135 — plus 25
(120) Tennessee: 152 — minus 32
(117) Duke: 148 — minus 31
(213) Lipscomb: 241 — minus 28
(141) McNeese State: 168 — minus 27
(196) The Citadel: 221 — minus 25
(75) Tulane: 100 — minus 25
As you can see, the most significant swings all involve teams well outside regional at-large range. Manhattan would have at least entered the at-large discussion, but it still likely would have fallen short of an at-large bid with an RPI of 66th (as it turned out, the Jaspers didn't need an at-large spot, because they won an automatic bid).
The overall message here is that the new RPI formula will certainly help cold-weather teams and hurt warm-weather teams, in general, but the practical impact will be limited to small shifts in the bubble range. It will be interesting to see if some warm-weather teams adjust the way they schedule in order to maximize their RPI rankings, but the truly elite teams will not have to adjust anything.
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