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Tuesday, February 5, 2013
BPI Talk: New Mexico overrated by RPI

By ESPN Stats & Information

There are some notable differences between ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) and the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Let’s take a look at some of the teams with the largest disparities between BPI rank and RPI rank this week.

New Mexico (BPI Rank 20, RPI Rank 5)
New Mexico isn’t likely considered a top-5 team by most, but its RPI makes the Lobos seem like a contender for a No. 1 seed. Why the disparity?

Their loss to South Dakota State looks worse in BPI (115) than in RPI (70), and that isn’t even their worst performance of the season. A 21-point loss at San Diego State produced their lowest Game BPI. The San Diego State loss came in a 61-possession game (their slowest-paced game of the season), which makes the 55-34 loss even worse.

Their road losses at San Diego State and Saint Louis don’t hurt as much in RPI as they do in BPI. In RPI, home losses are more than twice as costly as road losses. But in BPI, these losses are very costly, as they lost by a combined 35 points.

VCU (BPI Rank 23, RPI Rank 47)
Despite taking bad losses in the past two weeks to Richmond and La Salle, the Rams' other three losses were by a combined 14 points to top-35 teams (Wichita State, Duke, Missouri) and thus don't hurt as much in BPI. And when VCU has played teams outside of the BPI top 150, it has been no contest: 11-0 with an average margin of victory of 27.8.

Kentucky (BPI Rank 29, RPI Rank 46)
According to RPI, wins over Lafayette, LIU Brooklyn, Marshall, Eastern Michigan, Tennessee and Auburn are just ordinary wins and don’t help Kentucky much, considering those opponents are all outside the RPI top 80. But according to BPI, those account for six of Kentucky’s seven best performances of the season. The Wildcats won by more than 20 points against five of those opponents and beat Tennessee by 10.

And one of Kentucky’s losses – a three-point loss at Louisville – was actually worth MORE according to BPI than seven of Kentucky's wins.

Maryland (BPI Rank 39, RPI Rank 71)
Maryland is another school which benefits from BPI taking margin into account. The Terps have lost six games, but just two of them (at Duke, at North Carolina) have been by double digits. With all six of Maryland's losses having come against top-100 teams, BPI rewards them for being competitive in those games while RPI does not.

Illinois (BPI Rank 68, RPI Rank 40)
The case against the Illini is simple: according to RPI, they have the seventh-most difficult schedule in the country, and according to BPI, they have the 65th-most difficult schedule. Close wins against the likes of Hawaii, Gardner-Webb and Western Carolina hurt the team's BPI, as does the fact that four of their six losses in January were by 14 points or more.