Understanding RPI & How It Can Help Our NCAA Basketball Picks

Jake Walker

Thursday, February 18, 2016 6:04 PM GMT

We explain what RPI means, look at how the Top 25 teams in the nation rank based on this metric and determine which teams offer betting value for our NCAA Basketball picks.

As discussed in our recent Hottest & Coldest Top 25 Teams ATS article, the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks are 22-4 SU and a profitable 16-8 ATS this season. Kansas is the hottest ranked team in the nation after winning and covering ATS in six straight games. Here you can find the SU and ATS records for all AP Top 25 teams.

 

 

Understanding RPI 
The NCAA Basketball committee has used the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) since 1981 as a way to supplement the selection of at-large teams and the seeding of all teams for the NCAA Tournament. The RPI is derived from three component factors:

Factor I: The team's Division I winning percentage, which is 25 percent of the RPI. It's important to note that the games against non-Division I opponents are not included. Since 2004-05, home wins are weighted 0.6, neutral wins 1.0, and road wins 1.4, while road losses are weighted 0.6, neutral losses 1.0, and home losses 1.4.

Factor II: The team's opponents' Division I winning percentage, also known as the team's schedule strength. This factor is 50 percent of the RPI.

Factor III: The team's opponents' opponents' Division I winning percentage, also known as the team's opponents' strength of schedule. This factor is 25 percent of the RPI.

 

To sum up, the three factors that determine RPI are: Div. I winning percentage (25)%, schedule strength (50)%, and opponent’s schedule strength (25)%. Remember that games against non-Division I opponents won't be used in calculating the RPI and that Home wins weight 0.6, neutral wins 1.0, and road wins 1.4, while road losses weight 0.6, neutral losses 1.0, and home losses 1.4. If you want to consider RPI before placing your NCAA Basketball picks as we approach March Madness, keep in mind that the NCAA provides only rankings without calculations, as seen here:

 

 

Top 25 Teams With The Best RPI
In addition to an impressive ATS record, the Kansas Jayhawks also have the best Rating Percentage Index (RPI) in NCAA Basketball at .6626. The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats (23-3 SU and 13-11-1 ATS) rank second with a .6580 RPI. The No. 16 Oregon Ducks are 20-6 SU and just 13-9-1 ATS, but their RPI is the third-best in the nation at .6524. The third-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (20-5 SU and 10-13 ATS) have the fourth-best RPI at .6516 and the seventh-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (21-5 SU and 12-12 ATS) round out the top five for RPI at .6502.

 

RPI As An Useful Betting Resource
RPI can be very helpful when combined with a team’s record to get a more accurate sense of how they perform. If a team has a good record like Kansas (22-4) or Villanova (23-3) combined with a high RPI rank, then it means that they have performed well against all kinds of opponents. RPI can also help you spot teams that could be surprisingly strong in conference play, like Oregon (.6524 RPI and 7-2 record in Pac-12 play). On the other hand, if a team has a very good record but a low RPI, like Louisville (20-6 with a .6059 RPI), then it means that they have probably feasted on weak opponents. The public loves teams with solid records, so knowing if certain record doesn’t reflect their real ability is very useful when trying to beat the NCAA Basketball odds at online sportsbooks like 5Dimes.