Iowa State men’s basketball: Cyclones top ESPN’s BPI rankings


After defeating Baylor, the Iowa State men’s basketball team now finds themselves at the top of ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index on Wednesday morning.

Jan 7, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg talks to his team during the second half against the Baylor Bears at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State beat Baylor 87-72. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Cyclones are ahead of Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Pittsburgh who all round out the top five of the BPI rankings. Other undefeateds are scattered across the rankings; Syracuse sits at 11th and Wichita State is at 16th.

Here’s ESPN’s breakdown of how Iowa State has garnered the top spot in the BPI.

"Their worst performance –- an 86.3 BPI game score in a two-point win at BYU –- is better than the best performance of 148 Division I teams this season.Iowa State isn’t just some undefeated team that has played a bunch of cupcakes. Unlike the other five remaining unbeatens, the Cyclones have not faced a team ranked outside the top 300 in BPI."

What exactly is the BPI? It combines elements of RPI, Sagarin Ratings, and Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, along with adding some of its own. According to an ESPN comparison chart, the BPI measures:

  • Scoring margin
  • Bigger blowouts don’t mean as much
  • Pace of the game
  • Difference in home, neutral, and road games
  • SOS beyond opponent’s opponents’ win-loss record
  • All wins are better than losses before opponent adjustment
  • Looking at the impact of missing key players

Yes, a ranking system that’s made by ESPN sounds like a hoax especially when they try to overblow it (see ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating). But at the end of the season, the tournament comittee looks at all these rankings to help determine seeding and who makes the 68-team event.

ESPN’s BPI has a good formula for determining who the teams are, and they take into consideration what this blog has harped on all season – that nobody else has both faced and won against a schedule like Iowa State’s.

The proof is all there, and just mentioning Iowa State as an undefeated team doesn’t cut it. They deserve a lot more credit for what they have accomplished and as of right now, should be considered as one of the top two seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Even Cyclone fans’ favorite bracket projectionist, Jerry Palm, agrees. We’re glad he doesn’t hate Iowa State anymore.