Minnesota’s RPI Faces SOS Challenge in 2017-18

A year ago, Minnesota’s RPI (20 on Selection Sunday) benefitted from their strong strength of schedule (as defined by the RPI – not as any rational human would define it). Their opponents’ strength of schedule (“SOS”), worth 50% of the RPI, was .5953 as the NCAA tourney field was being finalized.

The Gophers enjoyed a well-constructed schedule under which they faced a number of relative easy games against beatable competition who happened to finish the year with good win-loss records.

For example, no one was concerned about hosting Mount St. Mary’s. Minnesota won 80-56. But, for purposes of Minnesota’s Selection Sunday SOS, Mount St. Mary’s had a record of 19-14 (.5758).

Last year’s lid lifter vs. Lafayette wasn’t scary, but the Ragin’ Cajuns were 19-11 (.6333) on Selection Sunday for purposes of Minnesota’s SOS calc.

Things will not be the same in 2017-18. The Gophers SOS will be considerably weaker.

Late Night Hoops projects an SOS on Selection Sunday of just .5520, or .0433 less than 2016-17. If we adjust last year’s RPI of .6109 for only the impact of the lower SOS (e.g., 50% of .0433), the Gophers would have had a Selection Sunday RPI of 39 instead of 20.

It’s not that Minnesota’s schedule was overly difficult last year, but it didn’t include a lot of poor competition in the nonconference (in terms of win-loss record). In 2017-18, we project that more than half of the nonconference competition will finish the season with a sub-.500 win-loss record. This is what will drive down the SOS.

More on this in another post – and Minnesota can still have a special season – but we don’t project Minnesota improving upon their 2016-17 win-loss record, and certainly their SOS will be down. That said, this looks like a tournament team… but preseason rankings of 15th in the nation (and even #10 by ESPN) may prove a bit too optimistic.

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