Every year, to the great chagrin of pretty much everybody who watches or writes or talks about college hoops (there are exceptions, people who mysteriously seem to love the RPI, but they are just that — exceptions), we spend a lot of our time fixated on the most important criterion in NCAA tournament selection: the Ratings Percentage Index.
Yes, the RPI is old, outdated, and all too easily gamed, and we have vastly better ways of evaluating, sorting and ranking college basketball teams. But year after year, rant after rant, the RPI lives on. Its persistence is cockroachian.
Still, much as we wail and gnash our teeth about the metric, the bottom line is that as long as it plays a major role in how teams are understood by the selection committee, we have to keep an eye on it, too. As such, I am obligated to inform you that the NCAA released its first public edition of the official RPI rankings on its website this week; you can see them here.
There are, of course, no small number of wacky results. This is to be expected; the RPI produces wacky rankings every year. But the RPI does get disproportionately better, or at least more substantial, as its data set grows. Right now, it's too early to judge it too harshly. It's probably too early to judge it at all. Still, if you want to see the teams which vary most wildly between Ken Pomeroy's reality-based points-per-possession format and the RPI's double-reverse transitive property madness, the Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg did the legwork for you (and me) here. Suffice it to say that Indiana is not the 16th best team in the country.