High School Sports

How state basketball RPI rankings would look if percentages were weighted differently

This week, high school basketball teams across will be competing to qualify for one of the 16 berths to the regional round of the state tournament at each classification level.

And once the district and bi-district games are complete and all 16 berths have been claimed, the teams will be seeded into the state bracket based on their RPI rankings.

As the RPI rankings come into focus and grow in importance, several teams around the state are not happy with their ranking.

Take the Prairie girls for example. The Falcons just clinched a state berth with a convincing 70-18 win over Timberline of Lacey on Friday.

And yet, on Monday, the Falcons, despite a 19-2 record, found themselves ranked at No. 9 among 3A girls.

And even more frustrating, and frankly baffling, Prairie found itself ranked one spot behind Timberline, the team it routed to clinch a state berth.

But Prairie isn’t alone. Redmond and Bethel also have 19-2 marks, just those two teams didn’t even merit a spot in the 3A girls top 10 in RPI.

In 4A boys, Federal Way is 22-0, yet that’s only good enough for the No.7 in RPI.

These are just a sample, but it leads one to wonder: How is that possible?

That’s because RPI is created from three components: a team’s winning percentage (WP), the winning percentage of its opponents (OWP) and the winning percentage of its opponents’ opponents (OOWP).

But rather than point out the inequities of the RPI system and call for the system to be scrapped, maybe there is an easier solution.

To arrive at a team’s final RPI, those three components are weighted differently: 25 percent for WP, 50 for OWP and 25 for OOWP. This means that 75 percent of a team’s RPI is based not on what the team accomplishes on the court, but what their opponents and opponents’ opponents accomplish.

That seems disproportionate. So what if we simply adjusted how those three components. So what I’ve done here is to compare the current rankings (with its 25-50-25 we’ll call RPI-A) would look if it was changed to 40-40-20 (we’ll refer to this RPI-B) or even 50-30-20 (RPI-C). So let’s take a look at 4A-1A boys and girls rankings.

4ABOYZ

Federal Way is the big mover here, jumping three spots to No. 4 in RPI-B and to No. 3 in RPI-C. Skyview, Union and Ferris all fall a couple of spots. Richland, Sunnyside and Glacier Peak rise some. Bothell enters the top 10.

4AGIRLZ

Not a lot of movement in 4A girls,  with most coming in the form of one spot. Chiawana enters the top 10 in RPI-B, in place of Camas, and rises to No. 8 in RPI-C.

3ABOYZ

North Thurston (21-1) is the biggest mover in 3A boys, rising from No. 10 to No. 5 in RPI-B and to No. 4 in RPI-C. Timberline, which lost twice this season to North Thurston, falls a couple of spots. Bellevue enters the top 10, and Prairie drops out.

3AGIRLSZ

Does that make you feel better Prairie fans? The Falcons rise to No. 5 from No. 9. Lincoln moves into the top spot in place of Gig Harbor, which falls to No. 2 in RPI-B and No. 4 in RPI-C. Redmond and Bethel enter the top 10, eventually rising to No. 6 and 7 in RPI-C. Timberline is gone, long gone. Garfield also takes a hit, falling four spots in RPI-B and dropping out completely in RPI-C.

2ABOYZ

Lynden takes a tumble from No. 2 to No. 7 and No. 8. Mark Morris also takes a big hit, dropping from No. 5 to out of the top 10. W.F. West jumps from No. 6 to No. 3. Pullman and Mountlake Terrace also move up a couple of spots. Renton enters the top 10.

2AGIRLZ

Another set of rankings without a ton a big movement. Lynden takes a hit from No. 7 to No. 9 to out of the top 10. Wapato and Black Hills both see bumps of a couple of spots. North Kitsap and Cedarcrest enter the top 10.

1ABOYZ

The same top 10 teams are in all three rankings, with some moving a spot or two. Northwest jumps two spots, Bellevue Christian falls two.

1AGIRLS

There are a lot of 1A girls teams with no losses or just one loss. That limits the movement. The biggest one comes with La Salle, which falls from No. 3 to No. 5 and No. 6. Meridian falls from top 10, replaced by Columbia-Burbank.

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