5-15-2013 The RPI Factor


Every year following the NCAA selection the argument is made that the RPI index weighs too heavily on NCAA decisions.  No question RPI is a factor but not necessarily the ne plus ultra factor some contend.

Thirty-one of the 64 NCAA tournament berths are automatic selections from the list of 31 conference winners.  Using an arbitrary factor of 64, Spy calculated that of the 19 teams with an RPI above 64, 19 were conference winners.  NCAA used its discretionary authority to select 33 of the 64 teams.  In doing so, NCAA did not select 21 teams  with an RPI rating of 64 or lower, but they ranged from an RPI of 33 to 64, clearly what could be defined as a second tier of eligibility.  Thus, other factors come into play, notably won-lost record, in and out of conference, as well as the numerous NCAA statistics which Spy published on www.spysoftball.org.

Are there mismatches in the regionals?  Certainly in the opinion of the three prognosticators (weisenheimers) on the ESPN show who were projecting (predicting?) who would meet in NCAA Super Regionals. Quite acceptable; they are paid to be commentators with opinions.
There are indeed wide variations in the comparative RPI ratings.  But, as we’ve learned over the years (remember Bethune-Cookman), RPI is not an infallible indicator.  Spy does not make predictions public, but it shares a private list beforehand with a third party.  Spy believes, given comparative depth of pitching in a double-elimination format, the #1 seeds could be upset in half of the regions.

This year, the RPI variance is from Oklahoma at #1 to Mississippi Valley State at #252.

As a guide to reader prognostication, Spy has revised the NCAA pairings list to include RPI.



Norman Regional – May 17-19 at Norman, Okla.
No. 1 seed Oklahoma* (47-4)(1) vs. Marist (30-24)(213)
Fordham (35-21)(90) vs. Arkansas (34-18)(24)
College Station Regional – May 17-19 at College Station, Texas
Baylor (39-15)(25) vs. Arizona (32-24)(29)
Penn (30-18)(107) vs. No. 16 seed Texas A&M* (39-15)(16)
Baton Rouge Regional – May 17-19 at Baton Rouge, La.
No. 9 seed LSU* (40-14)(5) vs. Central Connecticut State (35-13)(124)
Northwestern State (40-13)(73) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (43-13)(20)
Ann Arbor Regional – May 17-19 at Ann Arbor, Mich.
California (36-17)(17) vs. Central Michigan (33-18)(115)
Valparaiso (34-25)195) vs. No. 8 seed Michigan* (45-10)(7)
Tempe Regional – May 17-19 at Tempe, Ariz.
No. 5 seed Arizona State* (45-10)(12) vs. San Jose State (42-15)(59)
Georgia (38-19)(30) vs. San Diego State (35-18)(59)
Lexington Regional – May 17-19 at Lexington, Ky.
Notre Dame (43-13)(42) vs. Virginia Tech (35-19)(37)
Marshall (35-20)(97) vs. No. 12 seed Kentucky* (38-18)(8)
Mobile Regional – May 17-19 at Mobile, Ala.
No. 13 seed South Alabama* (45-7)(15) vs. Mississippi Valley (24-26)(252)
Mississippi State (32-22)(32) vs. Florida State (41-16)(21)
Austin Regional – May 17-19 at Austin, Texas
Houston (40-18)(34) vs. South Carolina (32-23)(40)
Army (35-24)(193) vs. No 4 seed Texas* (44-8)(3)
Eugene Regional – May 16-18 at Eugene, Ore.
No. 3 seed Oregon* (46-9)(4) vs. BYU (33-20)(117)
North Carolina State (39-19)(45) vs. Wisconsin (42-11)(26)
Lincoln Regional – May 17-19 at Lincoln, Neb.
Stanford (37-19)(18) vs. Tulsa (42-14)(27)
UNI (26-24)(141) vs. No. 14 seed Nebraska* (40-13)(11)
Washington Regional – May 17-19 at Seattle, Wash.
No. 11 seed Washington (38-15)(13) vs. Portland State (25-29)(167)
Minnesota (35-17)(31) vs. Hawaii (43-11)(22)
Columbia Regional – May 17-19 at Columbia, Mo.
Hofstra (43-11)(23) vs. Oregon State (33-22)(35)
Stony Brook (35-23)(144) vs. No. 6 seed Missouri* (35-11)(10)
Knoxville Regional – May 17-19 at Knoxville, Tenn.
No. 7 seed Tennessee* (44-10)(9) vs. Longwood (35-17)(81)
James Madison (41-15)(36) vs. North Carolina State (33-18)(45)
Tuscaloosa Regional – May 17-19 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Western Kentucky (41-16)(28) vs. S.C. Upstate (41-10)(47)
Jacksonville State (30-25)(163) vs. No. 10 seed Alabama* (42-13)(6)
Louisville Regional – May 17-19 at Louisville, Ky.
No. 15 seed Louisville* (46-11)(14) vs. IPFW (32-14)(98)
UAB (37-16)(38) vs. UCLA (37-18)(18)
Gainesville Regional – May 17-19 at Gainesville, Fla.
South Florida (43-14)(43) vs. Georgia Southern (32-28)(84)
Hampton (33-24)(204) vs. No. 2 seed Florida* (52-7)(2)
* Indicates host institution


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