Teams won’t make state from how they’re ranked, but RPI will decide how the teams are seeded once they get there. Here’s how it will work:
Brace yourself, the first girls and boys high-school RPI rankings will be released this week.
“There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of nervousness to see how it’s going to work out,” said Mike Colbrese, executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA).
The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) formula will be used to seed brackets for the regional round in February and the state basketball tournaments in March for all classifications. The method replaces the state tourney draw.
MaxPreps, a branch of CBS Sports founded in 2002 to provide one-stop information of all American high-school sports for both genders, will partner with the WIAA to compile the scores used in its calculations. The official rankings will be posted on the WIAA’s website.
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RPI is based on the winning percentages of a team (25 percent), its opponents (50 percent) and its opponent’s opponents (25 percent). Teams such as Nathan Hale’s boys basketball team, which beat the No. 1 team in the nation (according to MaxPreps) last week in Oregon, won’t receive a bump for the big win as all out-of-state competition is given a .500 winning percentage.
The WIAA plans to update the rankings on its site daily. District tournaments will still decide who makes it to regionals. Regionals will still decide who makes it to state. Regional and state teams will be seeded according to their RPI based solely on regular-season games.
The format is similar to one used in Colorado. Multiple states, including Oregon, use some form of RPI rankings to seed teams for their state tournaments.
“We know that high-school sports is really all about upsets,” WIAA assistant executive director Cindy Adsit said. “The intent of this is so you’re getting the best matchup as you progress into the tournament rather than on the first day.”
Brackets that were filled in by draws were a problem as they were often impacted by upsets in district tournaments. In the Class 3A state boys basketball tournament last year, Rainier Beach and Garfield — arguably the top two teams in the state — were on the same side of the bracket along with a competitive Cleveland team, too.
Beach defeated Garfield in the semifinals 66-61 and went on to win the state title. Many believed that matchup should have determined the championship.
But in a test-run using the Class 3A boys scenario, the RPI Committee found little difference between seeding using a draw versus the RPI, according to Colbrese.
“Over the years, the draw criteria got more complex and more sophisticated and people still had more questions and more concerns,” he said. “We got to where we are because people wanted something simpler.”
There is a complication in that coaches have to enter their own schedule and scores on MaxPreps’ website. An automatic reminder is sent if a score isn’t entered, but the RPI won’t be accurate unless everyone participates.
“We believe that once the rankings become public, teams that have not entered a full schedule and/or scores will feel compelled to enter it quickly,” Adsit said. “All the states that currently have this in place felt like it was a very positive change.”