Fun With NWLA Tournament Numbers

July 8, 2016

            Anybody can look at the final bracket of any NWLA Tournament and decipher who the best team was that weekend. That bracket doesn’t always tell the whole story though. One more than one occasion, people felt that the best team didn’t actually win. So I’m here to shed a little light on who actually looked good, and who got lucky.

 

            The Rating Percentage Index is a major tool used in college basketball to decide who makes the NCAA Tournament. It’s also used on a smaller scale in college baseball, and in theory could be applied to anything. SO, we’re going to apply it to wiffleball.

 

            For those of you who don’t know, RPI is calculated using the following formula:

 

RPI=0.25 WP x 0.5 OWP x 0.25 OOWP

 

Where: WP is your team’s winning percentage

OWP is your opponents’ winning percentage

And OOWP is your opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage

 

            This system basically creates a scenario where every team can be compared to another. The scale is based on 0-1.000, but since both of those are physically impossible, the scale is really between 0.25 and 0.75. RPI is complicated and changes constantly, so we’ll take it year-by-year. First up:

 

2012: 1st-OCWA, 2nd-TBW, 3rd-WSEM

           

            The first year was a great year, and only featured 8 teams. Still, everyone didn’t play everyone, so let’s take a look at the RPI breakdown:

 

  1. OCWA – 0.562

  2. TBW – 0.560

  3. WSEM – 0.504

  4. GBL – 0.496

  5. WWL – 0.487

  6. SWBL – 0.449

  7. KWL – 0.444

  8. PWL – 0.432

 

            These results aren’t exactly shocking, as these were the three best teams there. The real surprise is how close OCWA and TBW are, considering that OCWA won the final by mercy rule. TBW played a tougher schedule, which definitely factored in.

 

2013: 1st-TBW, 2nd-OCWA, 3rd-SWBL

 

            2013 was the first year at SoccerFirst, and we had 12 teams. It was Tampa’s first and only win, with Skibbe making a huge jump. The RPI:

 

  1. TBW – 0.626

  2. SWBL – 0.584

  3. OCWA – 0.580

  4. HRL – 0.564

  5. PWL – 0.476

  6. GBL – 0.473

  7. KWL – 0.453

  8. WSEM – 0.448

  9. MYWL – 0.446

  10. MWLWI – 0.433

  11. HWL – 0.429

  12. CWBC – 0.416

 

            As you can see, the top 3 changes when looking at RPI. Even though OCWA beat SWBL to advance to the final, SWBL played the most difficult schedule by far. HWL also didn’t finish last, helped by winning in a forfeit over GBL.

 

2014: 1st-WSEM, 2nd-TBW, 3rd-SWBL

 

            2014 was a year with 15 teams and WSEM winning their first title. Tampa would finish second and Skibbe third for a second consecutive year. The RPI:

 

  1. WSEM – 0.585

  2. TBW – 0.572

  3. HRL – 0.556

  4. OCWA – 0.547

  5. SWBL – 0.536

  6. CWBC – 0.530

  7. MWLWI – 0.525

  8. GBL – 0.512

  9. WWL – 0.511

  10. PWL – 0.485

  11. HWL – 0.458

  12. HVWBL – 0.458

  13. KWL – 0.396

  14. SRL – 0.387

  15. MNWA – 0.371

 

            A big change at #3, as SWBL drops all the way to 5, while HRL jumps up. The reason? A weak schedule. KWL suffered the same fate, with their opponents only having a .367 win percentage. There were many more above average teams in this tournament.

 

2015: 1st-WSEM, 2nd-OCWA, 3rd-HFWB

 

            We finally got to 16 in 2015 and introduced regionals, but on the national field it was WSEM taking home their second, and a huge debut for Hess Field. RPI:

 

  1. OCWA – 0.615

  2. WSEM – 0.584

  3. HFWB – 0.555

  4. HRL – 0.540

  5. SWBL – 0.528

  6. GBL – 0.514

  7. TBW – 0.506

  8. HVWBL – 0.505

  9. BWBL – 0.500

  10. BWACS – 0.485

  11. PWL – 0.464

  12. SRL – 0.447

  13. KWL – 0.434

  14. WWL – 0.394

  15. MWL – 0.383

  16. MNWA – 0.354

 

            A first in this tournament, the winner didn’t actually have the best RPI. OCWA sandbagged their pool play, but played the toughest schedule by far (opponent had a .677 win percentage). BWACS didn’t win a game but moved way up due to the scheduling correction (.647 OWP).

 

            Well, after a fair amount of painstaking research, we’ve concluded the RPI is pretty accurate in picking the best team out there. It shows that teams with a more difficult road tend to be better teams by the end. You could say that the actual finishes show the same.

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