Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bitter Bias Towards Numbers

From today's (2/15) Daily Quickie on ESPN.com:
Final Four "Power" Pretender Kansas (RPI Ranking: No. 1?!) Combine KU's humiliation at Villanova in January with last night's 2OT loss to Texas Tech, and that top-ranked RPI is a joke.

I'll have my fan comment (1) and a statistical comment (2).
  1. I can't begin to explain where I take offense to this comment. I don't want to cry about an East-coast, ACC bias, because KU gets pretty good coverage by the boys in Bristol, but this kind of ignorance about how good the Big 12 is (and has been since it's inception) at basketball galls me. KU lost to Villanova on the road at 8 a.m. EST. Nova's a legit top 40 team and should make the tournament easily. Let's not call a loss there humiliating. And, I'll take a two OT gut check loss on a TERRIBLE call at the end of the game in Lubbuck any day of the regular season. This team has been to two Final Fours and a Great Eight overtime in the last three years. Let's not be calling somebody who is 20-2 a pretender.
  2. I'll be the first to admit that the RPI is far from perfect, but it is a hell of a lot more objective than the human polls that wreck college football every year. In one breath, Shanoff is dissing the #1 ranking of Kansas based on one bad game he read about (Nova) and in the next, he's giving props to Utah for being highly-ranked after winning 17 in a row against what I'm willing to bet is much-kinder competition.

    It's sad that even a number as simple to understand as the RPI Ranking can be so thoroughly despised and misused at the same time by a major sports news source (and, I'm talking about ESPN, not necessarily Shanoff). I don't think OPS+ or VORP will ever stand a chance.

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