Below are the top 30 of ESPN’s College BPI rankings as of Monday. For an explanation of BPI and how it works, please read this article.
In summary, college BPI is a forward-looking power rating designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. In the simplest terms, BPI answers the question, “If two teams met on a neutral court, which one would win, and by how many points?”
Each team's rating represents its projected point differential against an average Division I team on a neutral court with equal days rest and travel distance. Subtracting any two teams’ ratings equates to a predicted point margin between those teams (all else being equal). BPI looks beyond a team’s win-loss record to determine the strongest teams based on how they won their games, whom those wins came against and where they came. Movement in the rankings depends more on how teams perform relative to prior expectation rather than winning or losing.
ESPN’s strength of record (SOR) ratings, on the other hand, measures team accomplishment by ranking teams based on how difficult their W-L record was to achieve. To view full SOR ratings, full BPI ratings, and other ESPN college basketball metrics visit www.espn.com/bpi.
On to the BPI top 30:
- North Carolina is the biggest mover in the top 30 from last week. The Tar Heels jumped five spots and now are No. 2 in BPI, essentially switching places with Virginia (No. 7 in BPI) after their victory over the Cavaliers on Saturday. The game was supposed to be the top matchup of the week according to ESPN’s matchup quality metric, but ended up being a blowout. North Carolina, which averages 73 possessions per game, had no problem playing at Virginia’s slower pace in a game that finished with just 60 possessions. It doesn’t get any easier for the Tar Heels as they have the second hardest remaining schedule.
- Gonzaga (No. 4 in BPI) continues to be on cruise control and has a 94 percent chance of being 30-0 when the West Coast Conference Tournament begins at the end of next week. BPI currently views Gonzaga’s chances of winning the West Coast Conference Tournament at 65 percent, meaning that the Bulldogs are favored at 61 percent to be 33-0 when the NCAA Tournament begins. The Bulldogs toughest game remaining is their season finale against BYU (No. 75 in BPI), where they are favored to win by 24 points according to BPI.
- Villanova is No. 1 overall in BPI, and the Wildcats have locked up the Big East Title. At no point this season did BPI give the Wildcats less than a 90 percent chance of winning the title in a much improved Big East. Villanova can now focus exclusively on winning the conference tournament and strengthening their grip on a number one seed.
- Over much of the past week, ESPN’s strength of record (SOR) has viewed the Gonzaga as having the most impressive résumé, but currently SOR views Kansas and Villanova’s records as marginally more impressive. In the race for No. 1 seeds, SOR views Kansas, Villanova, and Gonzaga as near equals at the top, and a sizable gap between those three and Louisville, who currently sits at No. 4 in SOR.
- The top game of the week according to ESPN’s matchup quality metric is Purdue (No. 9 in BPI) at Michigan (No. 24 in BPI) Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Purdue has a 55 percent chance to win according to BPI. After Purdue’s victory against Michigan State (No. 52 in BPI) and Wisconsin's (No. 16 in BPI) win against Maryland (No. 40 in BPI) on Saturday, Purdue and Wisconsin are tied atop the Big Ten standings. Sharing the Big Ten title is increasingly likely with BPI giving a 41 percent chance that Purdue and Wisconsin will be co-champions. (Note: In this scenario Purdue would still receive the top seed in the Conference Tournament as they beat Wisconsin in their only matchup on January 8th).
For more analytics content visit www.espn.com/analytics.