September 4, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Committee Implements Tweaks to RPI, Selection Criteria

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

The Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee has implemented a new round of "tweaks" to the NCAA tournament selection process, intended to alleviate some of the built-in inequities.

In particular, the committee took steps to address its concern about "negative-impact" wins; i.e. games where a team wins but their RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) goes down, meaning the team would have been better off not playing the game.

Last year, this effect was seen in 117 out of 941 games. One of the changes, if implemented last year, would've reduced this effect to four games; and the second set of changes eliminates it entirely.

The most drastic change was the implementation of a new weight to the RPI formula. Previously, the RPI has been comprised of winning percentage (25 percent), opponent's winning percentage (50 percent) and opponent's opponents winning percentage (25 percent). The change makes the new weighting 25-21-54, which places much more emphasis on your opponent's strength of schedule.

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According to the committee, this will prevent the negative-impact scenario, and thus encourage teams to schedule a wider variety of non-conference games. The committee also said that it "believes that the new formula can reduce the number of negative-impact games, while at the same time not change the order of teams in the RPI. The modification simply reduces the number of negative-impact games and rewards teams for competing."

Additionally, the committee will not include any win in the formula that has the effect of decreasing a team's RPI. In recent years, the committee only discarded such wins that occurred during conference tournament play. It will now include any game.

The committee also took steps to eliminate what cropped up as a potential nightmare scenario from last season. Had Bentley won last season's Atlantic Hockey tournament, it automatically would've been included as a "Team Under Consideration," and thus drastically altered the final Pairwise Comparisons (the system used by the committee to select the teams for the NCAA tournament — see CHN's complete explanation).

The committee has, therefore, changed the rule, and said that an automatic qualifier to the tournament (i.e. conference tournament champion) will not be automatically considered a Team Under Consideration.

Other changes were made as well:

* Only teams that finish in the Top 25 of RPI will be considered Teams Under Consideration. Previously, it had been any team with a .500 or better RPI.

* The category "Record vs. Teams Under Consideration" will not be implemented if the two teams being compared don't have at least 10 games against TUCs.

* The impact of "bonus points" have been minimized by counting them only for road games. And the definition of "road game" has been limited to a game in the opponent's primary facility. Previously, the RPI bonus was applied on a sliding scale for inter-conference wins at home, at a neutral site, and on the road.

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