Temple’s Tournament Chances and ESPN’s BPI Index Is Bullshit

Yes, has nothing to do with Temple.  Still makes ESPN look silly.

Ha, Dick Vitale in drag sitting behind Dick Vitale.

ESPN: With March Madness just about a month away, talk of bubble teams is on the rise. One such club at the moment is Temple. And our own Jay Williams likes the program’s chances at making a sixth consecutive appearance at the Big Dance.

At just 14-7 with an inexplicable loss to Canisius on their resume, the Owls still have work to do. But Fran Dunphy always seems to get the most out of his players when it matters most, and their victory over Syracuse in late December gives them a huge win to lean on. Plus, the majority of their key remaining games — including tonight’s matchup with Charlotte — are at home, where they’re currently 9-1.

Khalif Wyatt and his 18.6 points per night give Temple a legitimate scoring threat every time he hits the floor, while Scootie Randall and Anthony Lee give the Owls some solid secondary offense to fall back on as well. As Williams contends, this is a group that could not only make the trip to the NCAA Tournament, it has the potential to cause some problems for opponents if it gets there.

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I think Temple is fine. They are #47 in RPI and #58 in BPI. Typically, teams in the top 60 of those rankings are fairly safe in terms of receiving bids for the NCAA tournament. They have games left against quality opponents like La Salle and VCU. Both of those games are at home and Temple could win. If Temple can beat VCU (and everyone else they are expected to beat), I think they are a lock (regardless of how they do in the A-10 tournament). Luckily, the selection committee isn’t ESPN using nonsensical BPI rating that uses subjective data such as “pace of game” and “diminishing returns for blowouts.” I know ESPN will talk up their ranking system because, well, it’s THEIR system.

For example, BPI will weight a win or loss differently if a key player (as defined by ESPN – more subjective data) does or does not play in a game. There, in fact, is ESPN turning a team game into being more about individuals. If a player goes down, it should be the next man up. There are too many games and too many players where minor injuries (requiring a player to miss 1-3 games) occur all the time. That should not have any bearing on rating a team’s win or loss.

Another way BPI tries to differentiate itself from RPI, and other systems, is by counting “scoring margin.” I do not get this part of BPI. If a school plays another school and blows them out, that actually lowers their BPI compared to winning a close game. I kid you not, “Another way that BPI can rank teams differently than Sagarin or Kenpom is counting close games at home versus on the road. In BPI, a close win at home is better than a close loss on the road against the same opponent. This isn’t necessarily true in other methods and, in methods that do that, they don’t typically account for bigger wins. BPI gives marginally decreasing credit for bigger wins, with a 30-point win being only about 20 percent better than a 15-point win, not twice as good, which can happen in other methods.” Is this a joke, ESPN? Take, for example, UMass playing URI last night. UMass just embarrassed URI and ran them off the court. They won 81-53. They proved URI did not deserve to be in the same gym as them. ESPN is saying that UMass beating URI by 28 actually had a lesser impact on their BPI than if they only beat URI by 5. If I were on the selection committee and deciding the tournament field as of today, and UMass was a bubble team, I would be more likely to put them in the field with the 28-point drubbing. If UMass only beat URI by 5, I would think “if a team like URI can push UMass to the brink, what would much better teams do to this team” and maybe not let them in. ESPN’s logic seems almost counterintuitive.

“By capturing blowouts, but not overweighting them, BPI credits the ability of good teams to easily beat poor teams without providing incentive to win by 30 when 20 is a safe margin. By capturing both blowouts and close games in this way, BPI summarizes a team’s résumé for the NCAA tournament well.” What in the hell does that even mean, ESPN? When playing the game, a team should continue to score until the other team can stop them. What do you expect to happen, ESPN? For schools to say “well we’re at 20 points, let’s just dribble out the clock and keep taking shot-clock violations because only winning by 20 is more favorable than winning by 30”?

Luckily, for Temple and everybody else, the selection committee uses rankings indices like RPI instead of BPI. BPI is just ESPN coming out with another rating system that they can call “proprietary” and pat themselves on the back for coming up with it. It will catch on as well as their bullshit “Total QBR” system. ESPN needs to learn that creating any ranking system that is based on subjective data is inherently flawed. It is flawed because those data points mean something different to everyone. What a blowout is to ESPN may not be a blowout to you, or me, or the selection committee. Same can be said for trying to quantify the impact of a single player.

I think Temple should get in and I think ESPN tries too hard and needs to cool it a bit.

UPDATE: Duquesne beat Temple last night. That is a terrible loss for a bubble team. Now I think Temple needs to beat VCU or else it’s time to gear up for the NIT.

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Conference Power Rankings 1/14/13

ESPN:The BPI is ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index. The BPI team rating takes into account the game score, where the game was played, the pace of the game and whether any of the team’s top five players was missing.

ESPN Stats & Information Conference Power Rankings
Rank    Conference      Computers      Human Bonus      Final Rating      Last Week
1            Big Ten                     61.8                     0.237                    47.1                     N/A
2           Big East                    57.7                     0.114                     51.2                     N/A
3           Pac-12                      62.1                      0.069                    57.8                    N/A
4           ACC                           66.8                      0.093                    60.5                    N/A
5           Mountain West    70.9                      0.074                    65.6                    N/A
6           Big 12                       80.4                      0.101                     72.3                    N/A
7           SEC                            92.4                      0.060                    86.9                    N/A
8           MVC                        102.8                     0.049                     97.8                   N/A
9           A-10                       103.9                      0.038                  100.0                   N/A
10        West Coast            129.1                      0.065                  120.7                   N/A

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For anyone looking for RPI and BPI information by school, the links are at the bottom of this post.

Basically BPI is ESPN trying to create their own rankings formula to make themselves seem progressive in the hopes of replacing the RPI. It is the college basketball version of ESPN’s “Total QBR” formula they came up with. The tournament selection committee does not use BPI (they still rely on looking at SOS and RPI).

The Mountain West ranking is solely the result of the great seasons New Mexico, San Diego St., and UNLV are having. New Mexico is ranked #19 and SDSU is ranked #15. UNLV at one point was ranked at #24. The MWC has a 13-14 record (.481 win pct) against teams from the Power Six conferences this season, and currently has five teams in the top 40 of the BPI. It is no doubt that MWC deserves to be ranked where it is. It is proving that mid-majors are starting to put an end to that term as these schools are starting to be more competitive with the power conference schools on a much more regular basis.

The Missouri Valley Conference is being carried by Creighton and Witchita St. Creighton is having a stellar season with good wins against Nebraska, Arizona St., and Wisconsin. All 3 of those wins came by double-digits. The win against Nebraska was on the road and was a 22 point drubbing. Creighton also is ranked #10 in the BPI and #20 in the RPI.

The big surprise is where the A-10 stands. The A-10 has so many good teams: St. Louis, Xavier, Butler, VCU, and Temple. It is shocking to see them at #10 but I guess it is because the conference is 16 teams and the rest of the conference is so mediocre and even just downright bad. There are a greater number of those mediocre and bad teams that just seem to be weighing down the top tier teams in the conference. No wonder Xavier and Butler are all but certain locks to leave to join the Catholic 7.

For anyone looking for the BPI rankings by school can click here…or here for RPI rankings by school.