With the Big Ten season rounding into full gear, it’s time to have that talk about RPI. For those who don’t know, RPI is a measurement that takes into account both the strength of schedules and location of games, as well as just wins and losses (but not margin of victory). Most importantly, RPI is the only computer measurement officially recognized by the NCAA.
I’m not here to vouch for the RPI as the only computer method that should be used, but I am here to say that it is important to keep an eye on it as the season goes on. Are there better computer measurements, such as KenPom? Of course. While the RPI has its faults, mainly that it can be gamed by wise coaches, it is useful as a way of comparing teams through simple metrics. So as this season goes on, we’ll start to use RPI numbers more and more in this column. Their use doesn’t mean an endorsement, but it does mean it’s what the NCAA will be using.
One to be Proud Of: Iowa 70, Purdue 63
Winning on the road in the Big Ten is never easy, especially against a team as good as Purdue. But what was most impressive about this win might have been the Hawkeyes rallying from a 17-point halftime deficit to beat the Boilermakers. Jarrod Uthoff is a really good player, who should be a lock for First Team All-Big Ten. Iowa followed that up with an easy home win against Nebraska, and now the Hawkeyes have the weekend off to prepare for Michigan State in East Lansing on Thursday, which could put them well on their way to a top-5 seed.
One to be Ashamed Of: Maryland 88, Rutgers 63
Okay, this is a stretch, but in all honesty, everyone who was supposed to win this week won, and while Northwestern’s loss at home to Ohio State was a missed opportunity, sure, it’s not exactly one to be ashamed of. So instead of leaving this part blank, it’s time to memorialize what happened in the first half to the Scarlet Knights in College Park. Maryland led 46-18 at halftime, and honestly, it wasn’t even that close. The Terps coasted in the second half, which allowed Rutgers to keep this one semi-respectable. I’ve been saying it all year (and yes, I’ll continue to say it): Rutgers is bad. Hopefully we don’t have to talk too much about them the rest of the way.
B1G Power Rankings, One-Ish Sentence Style:
1. Michigan State: Michigan State hangs on to first place, but there’s no doubt the Terps are charging hard.
2. Maryland: I saw Maryland in person on Saturday when the Turtles came to Welsh-Ryan, and lemme tell you: they’re good.
3. Iowa: The Hawkeyes slide in front of the Boilermakers thanks to their come-from-behind victory over Purdue.
4. Purdue: Purdue’s loss has the Boilers at 2-1 in conference play, but up next are three of the bottom-dwellers of the conference: Illinois, Penn State, and Rutgers (the only thing missing is Minnesota!)
5. Indiana:The Hoosiers sit at 3-0 in conference play, and now have a potential bubble showdown with Ohio State on Sunday. Win that one, and the Hoosiers are on their way to being happy on Selection Sunday.
6. Ohio State: Don’t look now, but OSU’s losses to UT-Arlington and Louisiana Tech aren’t looking that bad. The Buckeyes are squarely on the bubble, but a win over Indiana on Sunday might push them to the right side with a long way to go.
7. Michigan: The Wolverines smacked Penn State but then got smacked themselves by Purdue (without Caris LeVert), leaving them in the middle. Next up? Maryland comes to Ann Arbor, which is a massive chance for a quality win.
8. Northwestern: The Wildcats are running out of time to collect quality wins. With an RPI of 98, and no RPI top-100 wins, the bubble is just about ready to burst for Chris Collins’ squad.
9. Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s only conference win so far is against Rutgers, which isn’t exactly a recipe for making the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin has home games against Maryland and Michigan State sandwiched around a trip to Evanston, and it might just be time for the Badgers to go 3-0 to stay in the tournament picture.
1o. Penn State: The Nittany Lions knocked off Minnesota, which gives them an actual Big Ten win, enough to bump them up the rankings.
11. Nebraska: Tim Miles is a good coach, and this is probably just a down year for the Huskers, who should be able to grab a win or two against top teams in Lincoln.
12. Illinois: The Illini had just 8 scholarship players for their blowout loss against Michigan State, which isn’t great.
13. Minnesota: Picking between Minnesota and Rutgers for 13th is not a choice anyone should have to make. Luckily for us, they play February 23rd and March 5th. Also, Joey King can throw that 69-yard spiral pass so good it’ll slip by your head and make you cry.
14. Rutgers: Speaking of those Rutgers-Minnesota games, what are the odds both of these teams enter the first of those games winless? Has to be pretty high, right? All I know is the Big Apple is going to be lit on March 5th for the Battle For 13th.