Among the more meaningful measures in college basketball is RPI. For the unfamiliar, that is an abbreviation for Ratings Percentage Index and, in simple terms, combines the winning percentage of a team or conference along with the same measurement of the teams you play and comes up with a comparative index by which to evaluate the relative strength of a particular team or an entire league.
Five Big 12 teams rank in the top-50 of all Division I programs, according to the latest RPI figures. Those five teams – Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – have a combined record of 47 wins and just four losses as of Wednesday nights games. Overall, the Big 12’s composite record against nonconference opponents this season is a lofty 81-21 (.790). The 21 losses is the second fewest of any conference in the country.
Both Baylor, No, 3 in RPI, and No. 5 Kansas rank in the nation’s top 25. And Iowa State and Oklahoma State have RPIs that place them among the top 25 in the country.
What that all adds up to is that the Big 12 is the top conference in college basketball based on RPI and the league’s to-date performance against nonconference opponents. Based on the formula used to calulate RPI, it is difficult to believe that the overall conference rating will change much when the conference games commence next month, based on the overall league’s high strength rating in the nonconference portion of the season schedule.
Adding appreciably to the Big 12’s top ranking in RPI, which becomes an even more important measure at the end of the season when determining the 65-team field in the NCAA Tournament, as well as the individual seedeings, is the conference’s five wins in this still-young college basketball season over ranked teams. The conference has recorded five wins this season over teams ranked in the top 15. The latest victim was 14th-ranked North Carolina, which lost at home to Texas (10-1) Wednesday night.
Here are some more fun and fascinating facts and figures that provide a little different perspective of Big 12 men’s basketball this season:
0 – Baylor and Oklahoma have a combined record of 19-2 this season, yet neither team has played a true road game. They have played nine combined games away from their respective home arenas, however, all on neutral courts.
3 – Number of teams that are already up to 10 wins this season (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas). One other, Baylor, has nine wins.
5 – Five conference teams have one or fewer losses so far this season. That ties the Big 12 with one other conference for the most teams with one or fewer losses.
13 – Wins by Big 12 schools in 19 total against SEC teams in the past two seasons.
18.9 – Scoring average of senior Camersn Clark of Oklahoma, the Big 12 leader currently in that department. Clark’s highest season average previously was 9.5 ppg in 2010-11.
23.8 – Average scoring margin by Oklahoma State in its 11 games this season, the third highest in the country. Iowa State is sixth nationally, at 21.5.
33 – Number of steals through 10 games by Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. That ranks No, 1 in the Big 12 and sicth nationally.
90.9 – Average number of points per game by Iowa State this season, which ranks the Cyclones No. 1 in the country in that category. Oklahoma State ranks ninth and Oklahoma 10th, both averaging 88 points a game on offense.
96.8 – Free-throw percentage this season by Oklahoma State sophomore guard Phil Forte on 30 of 31 attempts, the second best in the country.
181 – Kansas State’s current RPI, lowest in the Big 12. The Wildcats are 7-3 this season and are actually ranked ninth in the country in scoring defense, giving up 58.4 points per game to their 10 nonconference opponents.