Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RPI Watch, December 14th: Surviving Finals

I'm running one day late on my weekly RPI watch, thanks to the presence of finals that have been hitting me like a ton of bricks for the past week and will continue through this week. (I'm currently a grad student at the University of Illinois, so my finals are running a week later than NU's.) I just turned in a group project this morning, so now I can break to give you the latest updates!

Although I may be feeling a little sluggish, our men's basketball team isn't! They woke up from a short hoops hibernation to knock off Long Island, 81-65 last night.

Looking at the polls, the 'Cats remain stagnant due to their inactivity last week, remaining tied for 31st in the Coaches' Poll with 15 points. The 25th-ranked team, Texas, only has 41 points, so a continued undefeated run may push the team into the Top 25 before our last non-conference game. The AP Poll hasn't been quite so nice, dropping the 'Cats back into a three-way tie for 36th with Washington State and Cincinnati, each with 5 points.

It's that time... time to check the RPI.

Ohio State (8-0, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 10th, Rating = .6730, SoS = .5640
Without the help of freshman Jared Sullinger, they might not be in the Top 10 this week. The Buckeyes survived a home-court scare from IUPUI after a nine-day layover. The Bucks' last two game have been against their easiest opponents (in terms of RPI) so far this season, resulting in a significant drop in SoS.  Last Week: 3rd

Illinois (10-1, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 23rd, Rating = .5572, SoS = .5484
The Illini decided to take it easy this past week in preparation for finals -- they took a pair of double-digit home wins against Oakland and Northern Colorado.  Last Week: 29th

Minnesota (9-1, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 26th, Rating = .6247, SoS = .5526
Not far behind Illinois are the Golden Gophers, who get a boost this week due to past opponents continuing to win games. They added another decent win to their RPI resume by downing St. Joe's (122nd) on the road, 83-73.  Last Week: 36th

Wisconsin (9-2, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 41st, Rating = .6060, SoS = .5367
Not much changed here compared to last week -- two home wins against mediocre teams and a road victory against Marquette (172nd), another mediocre team. That is to say: Big Ten basketball has been rather quiet the past week.  Last Week: 44th

Michigan State (7-3, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 44th, Rating = .6022, SoS = .5934
So far, the Spartans have kept their ranking up by losing to the #7 RPI team (UConn), the #5 RPI Team (Duke), and the #14 RPI team (Syracuse), and none of these games were at home. Unfortunately, the only real resume win was a close bout against Washington (50th) on a neutral court.  Last Week: 53rd

Purdue (9-1, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 48th, Rating = .5921, SoS = .4958
Spending some time figuring out your offense is always a good thing, as long as you keep winning. That's what the Boilermakers seem to be doing, taking a SoS jump by beating Valparaiso (107th) on the road and North Florida (123rd) at home.  Last Week: 68th

Michigan (7-2, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 62nd, Rating = .5806, SoS = .5449
Tim Hardaway, Jr. has decided to start making appearances in Crisler Arena. His emergence as the #3 scorer is giving halfway-decent teams fits as a result. They won a fairly significant game in beating Harvard (86th) at home, a team who will be competing for the Ivy League's automatic bid. I point to the Wolverines as the indication that the Big Ten is ridiculously deep this year.  Last Week: 81st

Northwestern (6-0, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 77th, Rating = .5683, SoS = .4245
Thanks to a SoS-boosting win last night against LIU (179th), the 'Cats have gotten themselves back into double-digit territories after dropping to 107th over the weekend. It also helped that Georgia Tech and Creighton stopped their skids and won a game each. Only one undefeated team is ranked below the Wildcats -- Cincinnati, at 8-0 and ranked 80th right now.  Last Week: 92nd

Penn State (7-3, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 82nd, Rating = .5611, SoS = .5422
This team has Talor Battle, and then everyone else. They at least played competitive in a road loss to Virginia Tech (61st) on Sunday. Paul Banks from Chicago Now can sum up the rest for youLast Week: 65th

Indiana (7-2, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 97th, Rating = .5551, SoS = .4809
If there's one thing that can be said as a positive for this team, it's that they're consistent. They consistently beat up on very bad teams, and they consistently get beaten up against very good teams.  Last Week: 103rd

Iowa (5-5, 0-0 Conf.): Rank = 240th, Rating = .4506, SoS = .4720
I think it's fairly safe to say that the Hawkeyes will finish the non-conference season at 6-6. How they'll manage to win a conference game, I don't know. They picked up a decent RPI win --for now-- by beating Northern Iowa (49th) at home, but then they coughed up a lot of that momentum by losing the Cy-Hawk series to Iowa State (134th). Like at Wake Forest, they choked away another decent halftime lead.  Last Week: 280th

Overall, the conference's standing has improved a little over the past week. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, the potential non-conference resume win is starting to look less and less like a resume team. St. John's dropped back-to-back games against St. Bonaventure and Fordham, both complete head-scratchers. Their RPI is now 63rd, and one can only guess that losing to the 'Cats will knock them down some more. Meanwhile, Davidson is starting to look like a comparable matchup, jumping up to 79th after beating a pair of cupcakes. As always, we can only hope that these teams find a way to win-- except against us, of course.

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