Gophers Must Improve Record to Dance in 2013-14
October 31, 2013
The Minnesota Golden Gophers made the 2013 NCAA tournament as an 11-seed thanks in large part to their (perceived) strength of schedule. Today LNH attempts to give readers a feel for the difference in the 2013-14 schedule compared to last year and what it might mean for this year’s team.
The RPI is a flawed and overly simplistic ranking system in terms of its output. However, the actual calculations involved are more complex than most people realize. Although we don’t care for the RPI as a tool to measure a team’s past success or to predict their future, we recognize it’s a ranking system which does get looked at by the tournament selection committee.
In an effort to keep this article at a high-level, let’s summarize the RPI this way: each team has an RPI score calculated based on their adjusted win-loss percentage, their opponents’ unadjusted win-loss percentage and their opponents’ opponents’ unadjusted win-loss percentage.
- Question: For RPI score purposes is it more beneficial to beat a team with an RPI of 190 or a team with an RPI of 290 (location and opponents’ opponents’ all being equal)?
- Answer: It depends on which team has a better unadjusted win-loss percentage and therefore could be either.
- Question: Your school is playing two games – one home and one away – and can only win one of them. To earn the better RPI score, would you prefer your team to win the home game and lose on the road or vice versa?
- Answer: It depends on your team’s adjusted win-loss record and either could be true.
Half of a team’s RPI score is calculated based on its opponents’ win-loss record. We wrote about last season’s fortunate scheduling (Minnesota’s 2012-13 RPI: Skill vs. Luck) which resulted in Minnesota having a very strong opponent win-loss record. We calculated an average win-loss record per opponent of 61.33%. (See Chart 1 at bottom of this article.)
Using the 2013-14 schedule and last year’s win-loss records, we calculated an average win-loss record per opponent of 59.25% (See Chart 2 at the bottom of this article.) This percentage assumes Minnesota would play California and Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational, which is a best case scenario for this estimate.
Now consider that prior to the NCAA tourney this past spring Minnesota’s total RPI score was around .6001 and their RPI ranking was 34. Adjusting their opponents’ win-loss percentage from 61.33% to 59.25% would have dropped the .6001 down to .5897 and the RPI rank from 34 to around 49. This may have been enough to knock the Gophers off the bubble and to the NIT.
LNH performed a more elaborate projection of this year’s win-loss percentage (chart not included in this article) and we estimate an average win-loss record per opponent of 58.72%. Obviously this projection includes assumptions on Minnesota’s opponents in the Maui Classic and the Big Ten tournament, but it is clear that 2013-14 will look decidedly different than 2012-13.
So far we have touched only on the opponents’ win-loss percentage (50% of the RPI score). In this article we are excluding an analysis of the opponents’ opponents’ win-loss percentage (25% of the RPI score), but we expect a small decline in 2013-14.
With regard to the Gophers’ adjusted win-loss percentage (25% of their RPI score), let’s assume the Gophers performed the same as last season. This would mean Minnesota starts the year 12-1 with their only loss being to Syracuse in the first round of the Maui Classic. They’d go 8-10 in the Big Ten and lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament (split of conference games won at home vs. on the road assumed to be the same).
Under this scenario Minnesota’s adjusted win-loss percentage would actually decline and negatively affect their overall RPI score (i.e., the .6001) by .0032. This is because the nonconference schedule has exchanged an away game last year with a home game this season (Gophers went on the road to USC and Florida State last year, but have just one road game this season at Richmond).
Depending on the RPI scores of other teams, a decrease of .0032 can result in your team’s RPI ranking dropping anywhere from not at all to more than 10 spots.
In all likelihood, Minnesota must win more of their games in 2013-14 if they are to earn an invite to the NCAA tournament.
If we adjust last year’s .6001 (and RPI ranking of 34) for the projected negative impact of the opponents’ win-loss percentage (approximately .0131) and Minnesota’s schedule-related adjusted win-loss percentage (.0032), their RPI score would be at .5838. That score would have put the Gophers at around 51 in the RPI rankings.
Chart 1 – Opponents’ Win-Loss 2012-13
|North Dakota State||22||8||73.3%|
|South Dakota State||22||8||73.3%|
Chart 2 – Opponents’ Win-Loss 2013-14 w/2012-13
|South Dakota State||22||9||71.0%|
|Texas A&M Corpus Christi||5||23||17.9%|
(Note: Thanks to rpiforecast.com, ncaa.com and bbstate.com)Sharing Options: