by Jerry Palm
Since the RPI is a rating that has no preseason bias -- everyone starts at zero and builds from there -- early season numbers can be a bit, shall we say, counterintuitive.
For example, teams like Cleveland State, Boston College, Miami and Southern Miss are in the top 25 of the RPI, but are not likely to be getting too many votes in the polls.
Ohio State, which looks like one of the few teams capable of challenging Duke, sits at No. 10 this morning. The Dukies themselves only rank fourth.
Baylor will almost certainly be the lowest rated RPI team among the top 25 that comes out later today. The Bears are 92nd after their loss to Gonzaga.
Purdue is barely in the top 50. Michigan State is 61st. Both will be in the top 20 of the polls.
That kind of thing is not unusual for big conference teams, which have the bulk of the better teams on their schedule in conference. Part of that though is that some smaller conference schools that play very tough non-conference schedules don't look as good in the RPI now to the teams that played them as they will later on.
Oakland is a prime example of that. The Grizzlies are the favorite to win the Summit, but are currently only 6-6 (0-4 in the Big Ten). However, they are likely on their way to roughly 22 wins if they play as you'd expect, which will be a lot more helpful to their opponents' RPI ratings than their current 6-6 record is.
So, don't get too worked up about team RPI numbers yet. The further we go along, the better and more stable it will get.
Conference RPI numbers are a little more reliable because they are heavily influenced by non-conference performance, and most of the non-conference schedule is in the books.