Behind The Scenes

Breaking down ESPN’s new tool, the BPI, with Jay Bilas

As the 10th annual BracketBusters commences on the ESPN networks tonight, viewers will likely hear and see more references to a new team ranking tool introduced last Saturday during ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm show at Vanderbilt.

During the program, host Rece Davis and analyst Jay Bilas introduced the College Basketball Power Index (BPI) — a new instrument created by ESPN’s Analytics Department with Bilas’ input — to capture elements the current RPI does not encompass when ranking teams throughout the season and, ultimately, for NCAA Tournament consideration.

Some criteria considered for BPI

Director of Stats & Information Dean Oliver has described the tool as “a little more refined than any other existing power ranking.” He explained on ESPN.com: “There are a number of small details that we have in our methodology to make it reflective of a résumé for a tournament team.”

Of particular note, BPI accounts for missing players, a situation that plagues numerous teams throughout a season and impacts their true tournament worthiness.

Also, Bilas says, “I like best the strength of schedule calculations which are much more in-depth with this tool.”

Recognizing that BPI is not a panacea for the multitude of variables constituting teams’ performances, Bilas says he will continue to confer with existing (Sagarin and Ken Pomeroy) ratings instruments as well.

He says, “Aside from measurements and calculations, you have to use your own subjective basketball judgment. Nothing’s perfect.”

BracketBusters begins tonigh at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with Northern Iowa at Virginia Commonwealth followed by Valparaiso at Loyola Marymount on ESPNU at 9 p.m.

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