Since 1981, the NCAA tournament selection committee has used the Ratings Percentage Index as its mathematical formula to evaluate teams, and for the entirety of its existence, it has been assailed by fans and coaches whose schools did not fare well by its metrics. But now, after more than three decades of influence, its rivals are gaining popularity and its critics are growing louder, sending a blunt message to the three most controversial, misunderstood letters in college basketball:
The debate over the RPI’s use rages with heightened volume this season because there have never been more evaluation tools accessible to the general public, much less to the 10-member committee soon to be sequestered in an Indianapolis hotel.
Unlike when the RPI was introduced in the early 1980s, games flood television airwaves and statistics are readily available at the click of a mouse, providing countless opportunities to assess teams from leagues famous and obscure. And in a metric-crazed era that former Maryland coach Gary Williams once deemed the “Revenge of the Nerds,” more sophisticated ratings systems, in the eyes of many, have rendered the RPI antiquated and insufficient.