The Bearcats Have Numbers: Mid-Season Update



N.C. Brown

| The News Record)

Every week, I Break The Poll and tell you where the Bearcats fall in the latest edition of the AP Poll and how they got there. It can be a frustrating and confusing process, because the ranking comes down to the subjective evaluation of AP voters who tend to be lazy, fickle, and biased.

Fortunately, we have computers.

Computers are never lazy, fickle, or biased. Computers analyze the data and spit out a number that can be usually to rank every team in America. As a bit of a stat nerd, I find this beautiful. We’re 15 games into the season, which seems like a healthy benchmark to pause and look at where things stand.

AP Poll: #22

No need to dissect that. The Bearcats are underrated, but you can read my analysis of this ranking elsewhere.

Coaches Poll: #22

The coaches poll might be the dumbest thing college basketball does on a regular basis. I don’t know who thought asking coaches to rank teams would be a good idea. Coaches only watch the next team on the schedule, so expecting them to put America’s 25 best teams in order is asinine. This task, in turn, likely gets pawned off on a low-level assistant who mails it in. I don’t blame them.

KenPom: #16

KenPom (compiled by Ken Pomeroy) is the most popular computer ranking, and for good reason. It tends to boil down to the most fair, accurate assessment. The Bearcats have spent most of the season in the 20s before popping up to #16 following the win over Houston. The Bearcats are trying to finish the season inside the KenPom Top 25 for the first time since the 2010–11 season when they wound up at #21.

Sagarin: #14

Sagarin (compiled by Jeff Sagarin) is another popular computer ranking, and it loves the Bearcats. UC falls in line just a hair behind offensive marvel UCLA and right in front of Florida, Creighton, and Butler. This ranking would place UC in the top two teams of every conference in America, aside from the Big Ten (barely third) and the Big 12 (fourth).

Massey: #20

Even the most fringe computer ranking is more optimistic about UC than the AP pollsters. I’m not sure how much stock I put into a ranking that has four 3-loss teams ranked from 10 to 17, but Massey is fairly popular.

RPI: #17

Perhaps the most ubiquitous and stupid ranking, the RPI is what many college basketball fans still reference most often. Fortunately, it’s on its way out, both in public use and by the committee that seeds the NCAA Tournament. It heavily favors opponent strength of schedule, and largely forgives losses. For example, many of us wanted to play Duke this year simply because even a loss against the Blue Devils would improve UC’s RPI numbers significantly. It’s kind of backwards.

BPI: #15

Like the RPI, but even stupider. It’s devised by ESPN, who is currently rebuilding the ranking on their website. For this reason, you can no longer check the ranking each day. The most recent article is from January 2, and puts UC behind Arizona and ahead of Wisconsin.

LRPI: #10

Nobody references the LRPI. It’s Lunardi’s preferred RPI, and it just removes home games from the normal ranking. The logic there is that “anybody” can win a home game, but the true mark of a team is winning outside of your own gym. The Bearcats, despite both losses coming away from Clifton, place in the Top 10 in this metric.

LRMC: #17

I’ve never heard of this, but apparently it’s developed by people at Georgia Tech. Aside from a few weird rankings, it looks reasonable. UC slots in behind Wisconsin and ahead of Florida. #16

I’ve found this site to be incredibly sketchy until the sample size is large enough, and that takes a while. Minnesota is #8 and Middle Tennessee is #17. I don’t know.

Sonny Moore: #15

UC is behind Florida and ahead of Creighton. I don’t know what this is. I found it on Google.