West Virginia moves up to No. 1 in BPI Rankings

Things are looking up for Esa Ahmad and West Virginia. AP Photo/Raymond Thompson

Below are 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. Subtracting any two teams’ ratings equates to a predicted point margin between those teams (all else 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.

On to the rankings:

This week’s storylines:

For the first time this season, there’s a new No. 1 in college BPI. West Virginia, which is 12-1 with the top adjusted net efficiency rating in Division I, surpassed Duke for the top spot in the rankings after the Blue Devils lost to Virginia Tech on Saturday.

The top three teams in BPI -- West Virginia, Duke and Villanova -- are tightly bunched and have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. For example, the gap between No. 1 (West Virginia) and No. 3 (Villanova) is about four times smaller than the gap between No. 3 (Villanova) and No. 4 (North Carolina).

The biggest riser during the past week was Arizona, which rose 1.9 points and seven spots in BPI after beating Cal and then demolishing Stanford on the road this week. The Wildcats are currently 13-2 and steadily improving as their freshmen gain experience.

While Gonzaga (14-0) and Baylor (13-0) both rank outside the top 10 in BPI, it’s worth noting that they rank second and third, respectively, in ESPN’s strength of record metric. BPI is a forward-looking measure of team strength and SOR is a backward-looking measure of accomplishment.

Conference play began last week with a number of upsets, including losses by ACC favorites Duke, North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday. Will there be more shakeups this coming week? One conference to watch is the Big Ten, where Wisconsin (No. 16 in BPI) travels to Indiana (No. 17 in BPI) Tuesday and Purdue (No. 11 in BPI) Saturday. BPI gives the Badgers a 9 percent chance to win both of those games.

The top game of this week, according to ESPN’s pregame matchup quality metric, features BPI No. 9 Louisville and BPI No. 18 Notre Dame in South Bend on Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET, ACC Network). This is a matchup of strengths as Notre Dame ranks fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency and Louisville ranks second defensively. BPI expects this game to be a toss-up with the Cardinals favored by 0.1 points on the road.

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