12 February 2010

Note to Jim Phillips

It's time to start preparing to wage war on the RPI. Have your minions find articles that expose the flaws of the RPI. Then have them do some quantitative analysis that shows how the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics are better predictors for NCAAs success. Finally, boil it all down to five salient talking points to submit to the NCAA Selection Committee.

It is our understanding that, among other criteria, the Selection Committee evaluates a school by how it fared against different tiers of opponents. The Selection Committee uses RPI to tier the opponents into Top 25, Top 50, and Top 100 buckets. Currently NU is 1-4 against Top 25 opponents, 1-5 against Top 50 opponents, and 3-7 against Top 100 opponents per the RPI. These records have been used as the primary argument for why NU stands little chance on Selection Sunday. On this point there is little to debate.

However NU's resume looks better if the Selection Committee were to also consider a team's record against opponents using the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics. Per the Sagarin ratings NU is 1-5 against the Top 25 (and Top 50) and 7-7 against the Top 100. That doesn't look so bad. Most bubble teams will have poor records against the Top 25, and 7-7 against the Top 100 will also be in the ballpark.

The primary difference between the RPI and Sagarin is that four of NU's wins have moved into the Top 100 category per Sagarin. These wins are the road win at NC State, the neutral court win against Iowa State, and the two wins against Michigan. That's two road wins, one neutral court win, and one very solid home victory that is added to NU's resume.

The Pomeroy statistics also shine a better light on NU's resume. NU is 1-4 against the Top 25, 2-7 against the Top 50, and 7-7 against the Top 100.

The good news is that the Selection Committee does consider Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics in its deliberations. The bad news is that the RPI is the primary consideration especially when evaluating a school's performance against quality opponents. The RPI is not going away (at least for this year's selection process), but NU can help its case by lobbying for more emphasis to be placed on the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics.