Bryant's James Karinchak (Bryant Athletics)

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Building An RPI-Friendly Schedule

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Stupid nerds ruin everything. From Napster to Jar Jar Binks to the grade curve in fourth period chemistry, lots of things were going along just fine until some geek with a pocket protector and an under-developed set of pecs showed up and showed off just how smart he was.

I hear that a lot from baseball folks. Many despise the RPI (Ratings Performance Index) and the value the NCAA Selection Committee places on its ranking. Those three letters cause a lot of whining, a lot of furrowed eye brows, and a lot of words uttered that wouldn’t be welcome at Grandma’s kitchen table.

The outcry is understandable. After all, this is a rating system that lifts Bryant University above “Bear” Bryant’s school, Southeast Missouri State ahead of regular Missouri, and 100 teams ahead of the team atop the Big 10 standings. There are some examples that just beg to be scrutinized, complained about, and downright ridiculed. Am I right?

My standard answer when I hear someone complain about this version of the RPI (and keep in mind this is rather simple formula has had more makeovers than a Kardashian spa day) is don’t complain, find a better way to compare teams. Over the years people would complain and the formula would tweak with bonuses – not unlike how the football BCS formula chased its tail.

But this infernal contraption has always been utilized as a tool to compare teams that do not play each other or have common opponents. How do you know who is better between Kent State’s 35 wins and South Alabama’s 36 wins when there are few, if any common opponents? Or how about when three teams have all beaten each other to negate head-to-head? You can’t eye-test every team and even if you could, no two people will have the same preference from 1 through Mississippi Valley.

For the rest of the story including sample RPI friendly schedules.


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