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RPI: What is it and How has it Changed the Game at Palmer Ridge?

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Up until about two seasons ago, whether or not you made the playoffs was determined by the standings in your conference. This made it so the really good conferences send fewer teams that may be better than teams from the Eastern Plains. Luckily CHSAA mandated a state-wide adoption of the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) to determine regular season seeding and playoff determination.

At the beginning of this season, all sports in Colorado started using the RPI system. This posed many questions. Like what is RPI and how does it work? To give a brief summary, CHSAA said, “…it is a way to measure a team’s strength relative to other teams, based largely on the strength of their schedules.” The equation used is: RPI= (1/4 x win percentage) (1/2 x opponents win percentage) (1/4 x opponents opponents win percentage). This makes it so every team has an equal chance to make playoffs regardless the difficulty of their conference. It also makes playoffs more competitive, weeding out the weaker teams.

Because our teams are in one of the most competitive conferences in the state, RPI has definitely been beneficial for our sports; but how has it impacted Palmer Ridges’ individual sports?

In football, a modified RPI is used. The top team in every conference has a guaranteed playoff spot and then wild cards are chosen. However, to determine playoff seeding, the committee uses RPI to put the teams with the highest win percentage and the strongest schedule in the higher seeds. Due to our football team’s strength of schedule, they earned the six seed in the playoff bracket.

During the 2015 volleyball season, RPI was used. Despite having an 8-16 season, the Bears’ volleyball team is in the hardest conference in the state (the last twelve 4A state champions were from PPAC) and played some of the best 5A teams, they made playoffs as the 34 seed out of 36. This season, their non-league opponents were a bit easier making them the 15 seed despite having a better record than four of the teams ranked above them. However, only one top-seed team was upset at Regionals, proving the accurateness of RPI.

The boys’ soccer team had one of the hardest schedules in the state, playing four of the top ten teams, earning them an eleven seed heading into playoffs. Despite being upset in the first round by 22 seed, Ponderosa, they were not the only upset in the bracket. In fact, five of the eight second round games were upsets, showing that RPI for soccer might need some tweaking.

Our winter sport teams, boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, both benefited from the RPI system. In the past, the top three teams from each conference made it to playoffs, but with powerhouse teams like Lewis-Palmer, Vista Ridge, and Sand Creek on the boys’ side and Sand Creek, Falcon and Air Academy on the girls’ side, neither of our teams had a chance to go to playoffs despite having a better record than several of the teams. With the new RPI ranking system, both the girls’ and boys’ team made it to the second round of playoffs this year.

RPI allows teams in highly competitive conferences, like Palmer Ridge and the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference, to have a run in the postseason even though they were not in the top three teams in the conference. Because of this, the state tournaments are becoming more competitive, making teams work harder to win each game. It also gives teams more of an incentive to win non-league games, because all games are weighted equally. Because it was the first year every sports post-season was determined by RPI, there were a few flaws like the five upsets in the second round of the boys’ soccer playoff bracket, however, it seemed to be mostly accurate within the other sports. RPI has been a huge opportunity for Palmer Ridge sports, allowing more and more to make the post-season this year. We will likely see more of our spring sports make playoffs this year.

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RPI: What is it and How has it Changed the Game at Palmer Ridge?