I love the “Blind Resume” game. Below are three teams. In my opinion, two are clearly better than one. Yet one is being given at-large consideration while the others could be on the edges of their seats on Selection Sunday if they don’t get their respective auto-bids.
Hold your cursor over the picture for the answers to which team is which.
To continue this exercise (and also get into the age-old “RPI vs Advanced Metrics” question), let’s take a look at some more resumes. This first example has two columns, and both are for Southern Mississippi. One column is RPI-based (meaning fields such as “Top 50″ display their record against the Top 50 teams in the RPI). The other is KenPom.com-based (meaning “Top 50″ is record against the Top 50 teams in KenPom’s ratings). Once again, hold your cursor over the picture to see which is which.
Wow, the RPI is way too high on Southern Miss. Maybe it’s because of that non-con Strength of Schedule. The RPI rates their schedule very favorably while KenPom says it’s actually not that strong. Their record vs the Top 50 is also inflated as they’ve played five games vs the RPI Top 50 and just two against the KenPom Top 50 (also a factor in the SOS results).
For my next trick, let’s do the same thing with another team. This time, we’ll examine Belmont – a team from a small Atlantic Sun Conference who, despite their quality attributes, does not appear to be garnering at-large consideration. By now you know that holding your cursor on the picture will give you the “answers.”
With this example, the differences aren’t as easy to see as with the Southern Miss example. Looking deeper, though, you can see that the difference is Margin of Victory. Belmont’s one point loss at Duke gives them a lot of credit at KenPom but none whatsoever by the RPI. If you’ve read me before, you know where I stand on this. The Bruins are 14-2 in the A-Sun, and each win has been by more than 9 – including a 39-point road win, and multiple victories of 25 or more.
To go even further on the differences between the two systems, let’s take a look at four more resumes. Teams A and B are KenPom-based stats while Teams C and D are RPI-based. You know the drill with the cursor, and you might be surprised at the results.
It’s unbelievable that Teams A and C are actually the same team. Teams B and D are also the same team. The RPI has Colorado State as a viable NCAA team and basically in the same league as New Mexico. I realize it’s a small sample size, but on January 25th, the Rams visited the Lobos and lost by a healthy margin, 85-52. Last night, however, the Rams – now at home – beat the Lobos by 8. These games are a microcosm of one of the biggest flaws in the RPI.
Both of those wins count the same amount for those teams when, in reality, CSU was absolutely flattened by New Mexico once and beat them by a small margin the second time. The Rams have lost games by 12, 21, 23, 19, 33, and 19 (along with a 6, a 4, and a 1). But in the RPI’s world, losing by 6 at Northern Iowa is the same as losing by 19 at Wyoming – both things that Colorado State did.
The KenPom ratings show that New Mexico is clearly the better squad, but in the RPI’s world, they’re pretty close. More often than not, I’ll side with the metrics that show me the 8-2 team is markedly better than the 5-5 team in the same league.
Updated: UNM is now 8-3, and CSU is now 6-5 after last night. These resumes were captured yesterday prior to the game.
For those viewing on mobile or iPad and unable to hold your cursor over the pictures, here are your answers:
Blind Resume 1: Team A – Illinois; Team B – Long Beach State; Team C – Harvard
Blind Resume 2: Team A – Southern Miss, RPI; Team B – Southern Miss, KenPom
Blind Resume 2: Team A – Belmont, RPI; Team B – Belmont, KenPom
Blind Resume 4: Team A – Colorado St, KenPom; Team B – New Mexico, KenPom; Team C – Colorado St, RPI; Team D – New Mexico, RPI