College Basketball RPI: The Search For Quality Wins Begins Again

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we are in conference play for the rest of the season, it's time to play the America's third-least-popular game: How Many Top 50 Wins Can We Get?

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No, no, no, people. This is an entirely inappropriate sentiment. Have you seen the ACC this year? Please recalibrate your emotions before we move forward.

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This is much better; thank you.

The NCAA released its official RPI ratings this week, and the ACC has just four teams in the top 50 at the moment. Those four schools: Duke, Miami, NC State, and UNC, in that order. As you are all aware, NC State plays Duke and Carolina twice. State plays Miami once. So as things stand right now, NC State can pick up a maximum of five RPI top-50 wins for its NCAA tournament resume. That's not even a third of the friggin' schedule, man.

And looking at where the rest of the league stands, it seems like only Maryland has a realistic shot of working its way into the top 50, though I guess FSU could surge if it gets its shit together.

Here are the current RPI numbers for each ACC team, with Pomeroy Rating in parentheses.

1. Duke (3)
8. Miami (22)
15. NC State (36)
42. North Carolina (39)
67. Maryland (50)
72. Florida State (70)
123. Georgia Tech (72)
133. Virginia (27)
140. Boston College (153)
144. Virginia Tech (148)
158. Wake Forest (156)
204. Clemson (83)

Yes, fully half the league is outside the top 100. Delightful, ain't it? Worse, losing to the likes of Georgia Tech or Virginia would not actually be bad losses by any means from the Pomeroy--which is to say, true strength--perspective. But they'll look like bad losses to the RPI, which sucks. Fortunately there are only a few major discrepancies between the RPI and teams' actual strength, so our opportunities to get killed unfairly by the RPI are limited. For now anyway.

The good news for NC State is that it's at the start of league play in a very good position--hard to ask for much more than to be in the top 15 at this point. UConn (27) and UMass (45) both qualify as top-50 wins, and the two teams we lost to are in the top 40. There are no bad losses on the ledger yet, but avoiding a couple in league play is going to be quite a challenge.

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