RPI - Seeding

  • From FoxSports KC:

    If KU nets No. 1 seed, it can thank its schedule – the toughest in Big 12 history

    Sean Keeler

    FOX Sports Kansas City

    FEB 18, 2015 4:03p ET

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With less than a month left until Selection Sunday, the forecast in Lawrence is the same as it ever was: The Kansas Jayhawks (21-5, 10-3 Big 12) appear earmarked, at worst, for another No. 2 seed in the Big Dance, a journey that figures to start in Omaha.

    But if KU should happen to creep into the conversation as a 1 seed – and it might have to win out in order to move up a peg – it’ll have its dance card to thank.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, the Jayhawks rank No. 1 in the country in terms of opponent strength of schedule – by the Ratings Percentage Index, Ken Pomeroy, anybody with a calculator and a pulse. But KU hasn’t just played the toughest schedule in the country: According to at least one prominent database, it’s in the back nine of the single-toughest schedule in the last 35 years of the program – and the single-toughest slate in the short history of the Big 12, which opened for basketball business in the winter of 1995-96.

    Sports-Reference.com keeps a running tab of Division I college basketball teams’ strength of schedule (SOS) dating back to 1979, assigning a numerical rating – 0.0 is considered average, and 2.0 through 8.0 are generally typical – relative to the quality of the opposition, with non-Division I foes being thrown out of the calculation. S-R.com rates the ‘14-15 Jayhawks as having weathered a 12.4 strength of schedule so far, tops in the nation and the most challenging under coach Bill Self, besting the old mark of 11.4 set during the short-lived “Wiggins Era” of last winter, as well as the slate played by Roy Williams’ 1990-91 national runners-up (11.37).

    If the modern NFL timeline starts with the AFL-NFL merger of 1970, the modern college basketball era coincides with the Bird-vs.-Magic, Indiana State-Michigan State national championship showdown of spring 1979. The Jayhawks’ 12.4 SOS rank is the second highest among Big 12/Big Eight programs dating to '79-80, topped only by the 13.1 score posted by Johnny Orr’s Iowa State Cyclones in 1990-91.

    Rating systems aren’t universal in their love for KU’s performances – lopsided losses to Kentucky and Temple tend to take a big bite out of the bytes – but they’re fairly uniform in their regard for the Jayhawks’ slate. Another useful metrics site, TeamRankings.com, tracks SOS for all games played between Division I opponents dating to 1997-98. KU’s .643 score this winter isn’t just the highest in the country – it’s the highest score of any Division I school over the past 18 seasons.

    “A lot depends on how we do nonconference,” Self offered up, almost prophetically, during Big 12 Media Day late last fall. “Let’s just face it: We need to play well nonconference, because that sets your RPI up for the entire year.”

    And it has. The Jayhawks hit the midweek ranked first in overall RPI, much to the annoyance of fans of, say, Kentucky (26-0) and Virginia (24-1). But the RPI – it’s just a tool, remember, one of many considered by the highbrows on the NCAA Tournament selection committee – puts its weight on the quality of the teams you’ve beaten and the quality of the teams those teams have beaten, regardless of the margin, with greater weight on road victories.

    The top-ranked, unbeaten Wildcats, as of Wednesday, have faced six foes ranked 180th or lower in the RPI (including Missouri – ranked 189th – twice). The Cavaliers have played four, with one more (Virginia Tech, 222nd) coming up.

    KU? None.

    In fact, the worst RPI team on Self’s schedule is a league foe his squad has already beaten twice – Texas Tech (rank: 163). The Jayhawks played Kentucky (RPI rank: 2) and Michigan State on neutral courts, splitting the two contest; beat Utah (ninth) on a semi-home court (Sprint Center); and won at Georgetown (23rd).

    The RPI doesn’t care that the Jayhawks fell by a combined 57 points to UK and Temple. It only cares that the ‘Cats and Owls keep winning. Ironically, Kentucky’s winning percentage (1.000) is doing more for the Kansas’ RPI than what beating the Jayhawks did for the 'Cats. As far as the computers are concerned, a rising Big Blue tide lifts all boats – KU’s included.

  • @RockChalkinTexas Our schedule got us a 2 seed last year. Looks like it may work again. If you look at Lunardi the potential 3-5 seeds who are behind us seem quite a bit behind KU. If we have a rocky finish to the regular season and don’t win the Big 12 tourney maybe we drop to a 3. If we literally win every game between now and Selection Sunday we will probably be in the conversation for a 1 but I won’t hold my breath. Looks like we are more than likely a 2 seed. If we win the Big 12 we will be rewarded for that and our RPI.

  • Yes we have a tough schedule but in my life it in no way is the toughest. I posted about this several weeks ago. In 1985-86 we beat Louisville twice, they were the national champs. We played Duke once in the regular season. They were runners up. Then we played them infamously in the final 4. 3 games, and in effect 4 games against the top two teams.

    Of the elite 8, we beat Kentucky and NCState, then beat NCS in the elite 8. Of the 7 elite 8 teams we played 4 of them a total of 7 times, winning 5, Duke beat us twice. The Big 8 was extremely tough, ISU was a sweet 16 team of course we played them twice as well. Oklahoma was a 4 seed, we beat them twice. Other non-conference foes also made the dance like Memphis St, Washington and Pepperdine.

    Now that’s a tough schedule. Maybe it was pre RPI, I don’t know and I don’t care. The problem this year is we haven’t handled our tough schedule as well as I thought we would. Of course it comes down to who can win 6 games in March and April. Just ask UConn!

  • @wissoxfan83 Good comeback. I posted only so people would see where some “experts” are coming from.

    But how do you remember all those stats? I didn’t have cable (and still don’t), internet or any way to watch or read about the games back in 85-86 that I have these past 10 years so that may be a contributing factor to my not remembering most of what you wrote. We were building our house and struggling month to month then.

  • @RockChalkinTexas I’m not sure the RPI rating is an “expert” - it’s a mathematical formula. I haven’t checked, but I would bet that in some recent years, we’ve had non-conference schedules with a more challenging slate of top 20 - big name teams. The RPI measures the schedule from top to bottom. The reason ours is so high this year is two-fold: we didn’t have any non-conference patsies on the schedule - teams ranked in the 200s (or even 300s), as most major conference teams do - and, the B12 is the highest rated conference top to bottom, so we get a ratings bump from almost every game we play in conference relative teams in other conferences. Now, I wouldn’t argue that the B12 is necessarily as strong at the top as perhaps the ACC (Virginia, Duke, UNC, Louisville), but it is the toughest top to bottom - no easy wins anywhere, esp. on the road.

  • @RockChalkinTexas

    A couple of weeks ago I had some time on my hands and did a little research. There’s a site that I found that has teams schedules, I looked up ours, clicked on each opponent to see how they did and had my info.

    It was my first year on campus and my first year following KU basketball. Memorable year so I do remember quite a few of those games.

  • @RockChalkinTexas

    “As far as the computers are concerned, a rising Big Blue tide lifts all boats – KU’s included.”

    Love it… and it is true!

  • The thing the schedule may do is keep us from being the last 2 seed, and that is critical.

    The lowest 2 seed gets slated across from Kentucky. Everyone knows this. The highest 3 will also likely get sent to the UK region, with geography being accepted as a possible reason to shift things around.

    Kentucky will be going to the Midwest regional in Cleveland, with their opening round games in Louisville. We will probably be going to Omaha for our opening games, but we want to go to either Houston or LA for the regionals (South or West). Assuming the ACC gets both a 1 and 2 seed, the ACC 1 seed will go to the East regional (Syracuse). We do not want to get swapped with the second ACC team and get sent to Cleveland because that makes life much more difficult.

  • Hard to imagine not rewarding Kansas with a one-seed if it wins out. That would make KU 29-5, winners of the Big XII regular season (the toughest conference top-to-bottom), and winners of of the Big XII tournament. PLUS, KU would be 9-1 over its last ten. PLUS, Kansas has the toughest schedule in the nation.

    No doubt that results in a #1 seed.

    However, the likelihood of KU winning out is not high. Kansas most likely ends up with a #2 seed.

  • @justanotherfan I like your thinking. I certainly think they belong in Omaha. Living in Houston I would take the family the 2nd weekend-but if they don’t start playing more consistent I doubt they make it here.

  • @justanotherfan Lunardi has us as a #2 in the South with Duke as of this afternoon. I’d certainly be ok with that. Duke is obviously very good but they are not UK and like KU they occasionally struggle in the first couple of rounds of the tourney.

    Actually, come to think of it I will do f*cking cartwheels to just get a #2 and not be in with UK regardless of who the other teams are in the bracket.

  • @wissoxfan83

    You are comparing apples and oranges. Keep in mind that the RPI measures schedule “to date” while you are including post-season games as well. Also, the RPI measures “ALL” games and not just he ones against top teams. For example, many ACC teams have a number of tough games since the top 4-5 teams in the Conference are very good but they also play a bunch of dogs not only during conference play but also in their non-con schedule. There are no real “dogs” in the Biog 12 this year and KU’s non-con schedule was universally considered the toughest…even by Pomeroy’s numbers, and that is saying a lot.

  • @joeloveshawks let’s see some cart wheels!!

  • @joeloveshawks

    Agreed. The difference between Kentucky and every other good team is large enough that being away from them is a huge benefit.

    To beat UK, somebody is going to have to play the game of their collective lives. Because of that, and because so many of the next group are close together, that means that if you have to play out of your mind just to get by Kentucky there may not be enough left in the tank to win it all. You will effectively have cleared the door for someone else to step through and hoist your trophy.

    I don’t want KU to be that team. Play UK in the title game, or not at all.

  • @JayHawkFanToo If you look up that 85-86 schedule it was very light on cupcakes. Almost of all of my post focused on the regular season. Louisville 2x, Duke, NCState, Kentucky, all elite 8 teams or better we played in the regular season. A bunch of other non-con games against NCAA tournament teams. That’s not apples and oranges, it’s an eye test, and at the end of the season we probably will not have played a schedule that tough, not even close.

  • I get a kick out of how much weight the committee gives to RPI. It is normally one of the least accurate barometers out there, but, hey, if the committee wants to use that, I won’t complain. I remember two years ago, when RPI anointed the MWC as the number 1 conference, and they ended up with like 6 teams in the tourney, and then promptly lost every game the first weekend. At least the RPI got Jerry Palms a job at CBS SPORTS … lol.

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