Breakdown of RPI impacts of road series
By Carl James @jovian34 May 5th, 2023, dugout photo by Zach Greene
What is the goal?
Indiana is trying to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in case the Hoosiers do not win the automatic bid at the Big Ten (B1G) Tournament. For this exercise I am going to use both NCAA RPI and RPI+, a metric that includes factors the NCAA Committee often considers beyond just RPI.
What RPI rank is needed?
To figure the needed RPI, we need to calcuate how many at-large range bids there will be. The tournament has 64 teams, 30 of which are automatic qualifiers. Looking at RPI+ it is clear that at least 16 of those automatic bids will be awarded to teams that would not qualify any other way. That gives us a starting point of 48 bids.
48 bids is probably too high. The bids of the 14 other conferences in a perfect world, will go to a team that is already slated for an at-large bid. If a team outside the at-large range wins one of these automatic bids it is called a “stolen bid” and effectively reduces the RPI target rank to get into the NCAA Tournament. I have broken them down into three risk categories:
Low Risk (3 – format highly favors at-large teams):
- Big West (No conference tournament)
Moderate Risk (5 – lots of at-large teams or leader on the bubble):
- Big 12
- Big Ten
- Southern (bubble team)
- Sun Belt
High Risk (6 – one at-large vs the field):
- Big East
- Big South
- Missouri Valley
To be conservative let’s say over half of the high risk bids are stolen, slightly less than half of the moderate risk bids are stolen, and none of the low risk bids are stolen. That comes to 6 stolen bids, reducing the 48 at-large range bids down to 42. The goal for Indiana is to be in the top-42.
Where are the Hoosiers now and what are the potential impacts of the Northwestern Series?
Indiana is ranked 30th in RPI and 27th in RPI+.
Per WarrenNolan.com, here are the RPI rank changes depending on results this weekend vs. Northwestern:
- 3-0 series sweep: drop to 35th
- 2-1 series win: drop to 45th
- 1-2 series loss: drop to 49th
- 0-3 series gets swept: drop to 56th
That looks ouchy. Northwestern’s 8-31 record is punishing to RPI, but the rest of the Hoosier schedule is much more favorable to improving Indiana’s strength of schedule. That being said, anything other than a sweep of Northwestern puts the Hoosiers in a tough position for the final two weeks of the season plus the conference tournament.