RPI Never “Meaningless”; State’s Win Fails to Move Needle

NC State’s win over #8 ranked Georgia Tech doesn’t seem to have mathematically done much for the Wolfpack’s quest to get back on the radar of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

Heading into Sunday’s agame, State’s RPI was a paltry #115 and Georgia Tech’s was in the Top 15.

After the evening, State’s RPI improved only six spots to #109.

Since Monday morning the Wolfpack has inched up the RPI (to #100), meaning State has gained more ground in the RPI since Sunday’s win due to the play of our opponents (like St. John’s win over Pitt) than by knocking-off Top 15 Georgia Tech.


I don’t have much to say about the all of the math that goes into the RPI…but, I do have something to say to all of the folks out there who incessantly attempt to rationalize the Wolfpack’s poor RPI with inaccurate statements like: “The RPI is currently meaningless.”

With all due respect…please, “Shut Up!!”

If the RPI is “meaningless until March”…then why in the world do college teams schedule games before March? Seriously, if the results of current games (that are included in the RPI) are so meaningless…then why do they play the games? Why do fans buy tickets to watch these meaningless games? And why are so many of the games on my television that I pay DirecTV so much money to watch? Please explain to us at what magical point in time does the RPI suddenly become meaningful? and who gets to tell us it when it is?

Like so many things in the world…part of the problem with the perspective that the “RPI is meaningless until the end of the year” is as much in the words used to make the point as in the logic behind the point. One could actually be justified in an opinion that the “RPI” is meaningless at all times of the year. What is actually “meaningful” are the results that are comprised and analyzed to ultimately create the RPI. Somehow, however, I do not think that is what this “meaningless” faction believes.

OF COURSE the RPI becomes more meaningful with every game that is played and as the end of the season draws nearer. However, to be of the CURRENT position that the RPI is irrelevant is the equivalent of saying that half of a season is irrelevant. What is about the “future games” that makes some people want to apply more weight to them? I am yet to see how this computer formula subjectively chooses games that are more important than others. In a 30 game season, each game comprises 1/30th of the team’s rating.

If NC State was currently ranked #1 in the RPI, then something tells me the ratings wouldn’t be so meaningless to so many. And, even though you wouldn’t know it, you would be correct. NC State currently has thirteen games remaining on our schedule, and most estimations project that State needs to win at least seven (maybe more) to get re-established on the NCAA Tournament Bubble. Gee…if NC State was currently #1 in the “meaningless” RPI…we would need to win about four of our remaining games to insure an NCAA Tournament bid. Exactly how “meaningless” is that ranking, again?

At this point of the season, NC State has played 16 games…meaning that Sunday night’s win comprises 1/16th of the Pack’s current RPI ranking and impacts the rating with greater weight than it will at the end of the season when it will comprise about 1/30th of our entire season.

I don’t think many people quite grasp how bad and deep the hole that the Wolfpack has dug really is, and I think that the dimunitive mathematical impact of Sunday night’s win emphasizes the current situation.

And, things might not get that much better that quickly as there may be more downside risk in the next phase of State’s schedule than upside opportunity due to the nature of the schedule.

The Pack plays @ Virginia Tech on Wednesday, @ Maryland on Sunday, hosts Florida State (Wed, Jan 26) and travels to Clemson on Saturday, January 29th. Two of those four games – VPI & FSU – are against squads boasting a current RPI worse than #120. If the Pack were to slip and fall (especially at #191 Virginia Tech), then the resulting impact on the season could be a death-nail.

Clemson (#37, but slipping) and Maryland (settling in around #35) will provide State opportunities to chip away at our current hole, but it won’t be easy to pick up wins on the road where Sendek has historically struggled going”
* 1-7 at Maryland and 4-17 overall against Gary Williams
* 3-5 at LittleJohn Coliseum and 1-1 against Oliver Purnell

Just curious…are these nest few games somehow “meaningless” like the first half of the season? Just tell me when they start counting…

General NCS Basketball

2 Responses to RPI Never “Meaningless”; State’s Win Fails to Move Needle

  1. Trout 01/19/2005 at 5:54 PM #

    First, they all count. I think when people say things like “the RPI is meaningless,” they mean that it doesnt matter until the Selection Committee gets in that room and starts making decisions. However, EVERY game played to that point “counts” in that overall number.

    We must have some real dogs on our schedule. How is Clemson #35 and NC State #100? I dont remember Clemson playing any heavy weights this year. That one confuses me.

    In football, you lose a game in October, and you are out. I think the situation with Va Tech is similiar. Lose tonigt, and we could be “out” with too much of gap to make up.

    What is interesting, is that future opponents UNC and Wake will improve our RPI win or lose.

    I’m not sure 8-8 gets NC State into the NCAA Tournament. The way I see it (and this is just to make the NCAA):

    Top Tier: 4 games against UNC and Wake: Must win at least one (1)

    Middle Tier: 3 games left against MD and Ga Tech: I think we must win 2 of these (2)

    Lower Tier: 6 games left against Va Tech, UVA, FSU and Clemson. We must win 5 of these (5)

    That would get us to 9-7, and around a #5 or 6 seed. Anything less, and I think we are 8/9 and on the bubble.

  2. Trout 01/19/2005 at 9:36 PM #

    Stick a fork in NC State.

    It royally pisses me off that we now have defeats to both Miami and Va Tech in basketball this year. I was looking forward to a “welcome to the ACC” in hoops for both of them. Instead, they turned the tables and both made us look very bad.

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