THE MARCHPOOL RESILIENCY INDEX (MRI): A statistical-based CBB indicator is born

by Bob ‘The Commish’ Barton of www.Marchpool.comThe game within the game

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It's lunchtime on the West Coast on Monday March 1st. That means one thing for me – time to check the beauty contest that is the Mens college basketball rating systems. I'm personally aware of 30 rating systems for College Basketball junkies digest - then argue over. So why is there a need for 31st system? The answer lies in the realm of obsession.

Like all middle age men, my body can no longer do things on the court that my mind commands. But as my on court hook shot has faded, my off court brackets game has been polished. For guys like me, brackets are not simply a game – brackets are for blood!

MRI STARTING POINTS: The RPI and the NCAA Mens Basketball Stats Page

The much maligned RPI system has been used as a punching bag for years by sports pundits and disgruntled fans alike. The RPI itself, however, is only a single measure of performance. It does an excellent job of marrying strength of schedule to wins and losses. The RPI is in need of a metric counterbalance; a ying to go along with its yang.

The NCAA men's statistics page is an ideal complement to the RPI. The NCAA site publishes no fewer than 14 statistics for the 340 teams that make up Division 1 ball. We at Marchpool felt 14 metrics was a bit too much for the average fan to integrate. The best summary we were aware of came from Lindy's College preview, which used 5 metrics. But missing amongst Lindy's 5 stats was Free Throws, the death of many March dancers.

Adding Free Throws to Lindy's mix yielded team statistical rankings which correlated to the RPI, but allowed enough variation to make things interesting. We were able to average the 6 stats – then combine that rank with the teams RPI, and list mens teams from #1 (statistically the best) to #340 (the worst). By averaging the RPI to the 6 key NCAA stats (nicknamed STAT6), a new and interesting ranking system for mens hoops emerged:


The STAT6 (6 key stat average) half of the two-part Marchpool Resiliency index is a clear indicator of what teams simply will not beat themselves. One noteworthy example is the legendary Davidson squad of the 2007/2008 campaign. Of the 2380 Division 1 mens b-ball teams statistically tracked online since 2002, the Wildcats ranked an astonishing tenth overall. That statistical level of play translates into overall #1 seed most years.. Davidson did receive a 10 seed, largely due to its Selection Sunday RPI ranking of 35. By the end of the tourney, Davidson's RPI had shot up to 15th overall. To summarize, Davidson played Final 4 caliber ball by any standard, and may have been the best overall team in 2008.

Running MRI software for last years 2008 campaign shows Kansas the likely champion. KU finished atop the Stat6 ratings, an amazing accomplishment given their 4th out of 340 RPI rating in Division 1 ball! It was insane freethrow shooting by the Jayhawks that drove their historic overtime championship victory. Not surprisingly, it was the same metric – Freethrows – which sank the Memphis Tigers. Coach Calipari's team finished a pathetic 326th out of 328 Division 1 men's teams in 2008. In terms of free throw percentage, the Tigers shot the performance equivalent of an F minus from the stripe.

While the RPI is oblivious to freethrows, the MRI focuses on them! Will free throws once again prove to be the razors edge this March in a sport in which parity thrives?

NOTE: MARCHPOOL.COM WILL ADD THE MRI TO OUR SITE'S GOOGLE MAPS AND HISTORICAL SEED RESULTS, AS PART OF THE INFORMATION BUTTON TO HELP YOU BRACKET. SIGN UP AT WWW.MARCHPOOL.COM RIGHT NOW: Brackets will be emailed to you on the Monday after Selection Sunday . Check out our Selection Sunday blog on finding this years Cinderella, cause

Brackets are for Blood

To get to the Marchpool Indicator page for ratings of all 340 Division 1 teams, click here