Monthly Archives: January 2012

Measuring Wins

As a follow-up to Saturday’s post and last night’s BCS title game, I was asked about RPI rankings for this year.  Strength of schedule and RPI are particularly important for NCAA football where, in this era of “buy games” and weak conferences, win-loss records must be taken with a grain of salt.  It’s not just about how you play, but also who you play.

So I gathered 2011 NCAA data and ran it though the RPI programs we coded as Friday Fragments this time last year; see: http://derekwilliams.us/fragments/rpi.html.  The top 10 teams by RPI are:

Rank Name Record Win % RPI
1 LSU 13-1-0 0.929 0.701
2 Alabama 12-1-0 0.923 0.676
3 Oklahoma St. 12-1-0 0.923 0.670
4 South Carolina 11-2-0 0.846 0.643
5 Arkansas 11-2-0 0.846 0.638
6 Kansas St. 10-3-0 0.769 0.634
7 Baylor 10-3-0 0.769 0.633
8 Oklahoma 10-3-0 0.769 0.631
9 Michigan 11-2-0 0.846 0.630
10 Oregon 12-2-0 0.857 0.626

Teams like Stanford, Boise State, and Wisconsin aren’t in this top ten.  That’s because, with their low strength of schedule ratings, the computer just doesn’t like them.

Playoff Prognostication

“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Niels Bohr

It’s NFL playoff time again, and seemingly everyone’s prognosticating.  Last year’s late rise of the Packers (6th seed who won it all) proved again that “past performance does not guarantee future results.”  But since a calculated guess is better than a wild one, I thought I’d run my own numbers using the power ranking tools we developed as Friday Fragments this time last year.

I gathered fresh data (2011 NFL regular season results) and ran it through http://derekwilliams.us/fragments/tourney.html.  Of the resulting top 12 teams (by power ranking), 11 are in the playoffs:

Rank Team Power
1 Packers 90
2 49ers 86
3 Saints 83
4 Steelers 83
5 Ravens 70
6 Bengals 68
7 Texans 67
8 Patriots 67
9 Giants 64
10 Lions 63
11 Falcons 61
12 Raiders 56

The Raiders (#12) didn’t make the playoffs; instead we have the Broncos who won the AFC West, but rank #22 (power 41).

This has the Packers winning it all again.  But with my Falcons at #11, I’m hoping for a few surprises, starting with tomorrow’s game against the Giants.