Can RPI Be Reliable If BYU Is No. 1

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIFebruary 15, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05:  Jimmer Fredette #32 of the Brigham Young University Cougars shoots a technical free throw during a game against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center January 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. BYU won 89-77.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

BYU is today's No. 1 team in college basketball's rating system known as the RPI.  They replaced former No. 1 Kansas upon the Jayhawks 84-68 loss to Kansas State on Monday night.

The Cougars are currently No. 8 in the latest coaches poll and are not considered a strong candidate for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

There is a possibility that they could end up with a No. 1 seed, but the top five teams in the Coaches poll (No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Ohio St., No. 4 Pitt and No. 5 Duke) are considered the front runners by most college basketball analysts.

BYU (23-2) is having an outstanding season, but one has to wonder how reliable the RPI is with the Provo, Utah school as its No. 1 team:

It's questionable at the least to understand how they rank higher in the RPI than Kansas RPI (No. 2), Texas RPI (No. 8), Ohio St. RPI (No. 3), Pitt RPI (No. 6) and Duke RPI (No. 7).

Although the RPI is not taken too seriously by the NCAA selection committee, it is not uncommon to hear selection committee members say "they made the tournament because they had a high RPI."


BYU's Resume

The Cougars have four wins over teams currently ranked in the Coaches Poll (No. 6 San Diego St., No. 13 Arizona, No. 23 St. Mary's, and No. 24 Utah St.)

Their two losses are to unranked UCLA and unranked New Mexico. The lost to New Mexico was their most recent loss on January 29.


It's understandable how BYU can make a case against Kansas, Texas and Duke

It's understandable how BYU can make a case for a higher RPI than Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, and Duke:

Kansas (24-2) has three wins over teams ranked in the Coaches Poll (No. 13 Arizona, No. 17 Texas AM, and No. 21 Missouri). 

The Jayhawks have two bad losses (11-point loss to Texas and 16-point loss to unranked Kansas St.).

Texas (22-3) has wins over five teams ranked in the Coaches Poll (No. 1 Kansas, No. 17 Texas AM twice, No. 19 North Carolina, and No. 21 Missouri). 

The Longhorns have lost three games:  One, a bad 17-loss to unranked USC. The also have close losses against No. 4 Pitt and No.12 UConn.

Duke (23-2) has only one win against a team in the Coaches Poll (No. 19 North Carolina).

The Blue Devils have a five-point loss to unranked Florida State and a 15-point blowout loss to unranked St. John's.


It's difficult to understand how BYU can make case against Ohio State

It's almost impossible to see how any rating service could rank BYU higher than Ohio State:

Ohio State (24-1) has wins over two teams in the Coaches Poll (No. 11 Purdue and No. 15 Florida). The Buckeyes only have one loss.

The loss occurred on Saturday to No. 10 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes were underdogs going into the game and lost 71-67. 

The Badgers have compiled a 140-11 home record under coach Bo Ryan.

Ohio State plays in a tougher conference than BYU and held the No. 1 ranking in the Coaches Poll for the last four weeks.


It's impossible to make a case against Pitt

Pitt (23-2) has five wins against teams in the Coaches Poll (No. 2 Texas, No. 9 Georgetown, No. 12 UConn, No. 14 Villanova and No. 20 Syracuse.

The Panthers have a seven-point loss against unranked Tennessee and five point loss against No. 7 Notre Dame.

Pitt's last loss was on January 24th against Notre Dame.

The Panthers lead the Big East with an 11-1 record. 

They haven't played a team from BYU's Mountain West Conference.  BYU defeated USF 77-75 in double OT.  USF is the No. 15 team in the 16 team Big East.