What Impact From RPI, Schedule Changes ?
Canada West recently announced the 2017-18 playing schedule, which still has 17 schools each playing a different slate of games. This unequal 20 game set-up has schools playing a pair of contests with 4 ‘traditional rivals’ each year, but they change 6 teams on alternate years.
So, for example, Saskatchewan, who have Alberta, Calgary Regina, and Brandon as ‘rivals’ will reverse home and way with those schools this coming season; the Huskies played Fraser Valley, Winnipeg, UBC, Lethbridge, Mt. Royal, and UNBC in 2016-17, but will meet the other 6 ‘non-rival’ schools … Manitoba, Thompson Rivers, Victoria, MacEwan, UBC-O, and Trinity Western in the 2017-18 schedule.
Each school has different rivals, and a different slate of 6 ‘non-rivals’, and, in another twist of scheduling, each school determines if they will play any ‘home and home series’. Example – Calgary has all three of Alberta, Mt. Royal, and Lethbridge home and away. Saskatchewan, Regina, TRU, UBC-O, and UNBC have none. Other schools have 1 or 2 ‘home and homes’ with geographically close rivals. All this leads to some differences in number of home and away games for some teams.
With all that, the League governors chose to continue using an adjusted RPI index to ‘even -up’ the standings between ‘unequally scheduled’ teams. Last year, as fans might remember, this led to the juggling of final seeding spots for play-offs, putting 19-1 UBC in the 4th seed behind 16-4 Calgary #1, 14-6 Saskatchewan #2, and 14-6 Alberta #3.
The effect of these RPI results prompted schools to ask for a modification in those statistical manouvres. Canada West now has a new RPI formula –
The formula used in 2016-17 was as follows:
RPI = 25% team winning percentage (WP) x 1.2 away win + 0.8 home win, 50% opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents’ opponent’s average winning percentage (OOWP).
The new formula for 2017-18, with changes in bold, is as follows:
RPI = 35% team winning percentage (WP) x 1.1 away win + 0.9 home win, 40% opponents’ average winning percentage (OWP), and 25% opponents’ opponent’s average winning percentage (OOWP).
The League is hoping that this will bend the final standings a little less, and keep teams with a higher winning percentage in higher seeding spots. We still, however, have the unequal schedule. How unequal is it?
Well, we have done a somewhat subjective analysis of each team’s schedule, and we’ve assigned points based on a) Last year’s finish, b) team losses from graduation or other (as announced) c) recruiting news as we’ve followed it. We give UBC a 16, Calgary and Alberta both at 14, Lethbridge and Saskatchewan are 12, Manitoba, UVic, Winnipeg are 10, with Brandon, Regina and UFV 9. TRU is 7, MRU 6, MacEwan 6, UNBC 5, and TWU and UBC-O are both at 4 in this ranking scale. Certainly subjective, but it can generate some ‘informed guesses’ for what lies ahead in the coming year.
Who has the ‘toughest’ schedule? Who might have the ‘easiest’ … we add up the teams’ opponents’ ranking scores, and here’s what we have, with toughest at the top, and ‘easier’ at the bottom –
The Okanagan Heat, who were 2-18 last season, hardly need this rugged path … at UVic, UFV, UNBC (the only non-playoff squad from 2016-17), Calgary, Winnipeg. Home to TRU, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and UBC ! Ouch!
Trinity Western were 3-17, but it’s all uphill with the likes of the Bears, UVic, UBC, Calgary, and Saskatchewan on their schedule as well. They play just 2 non-play-off teams from last year.
Interestingly, UBC has what looks like one of the ‘lighter’ schedules once again.
If we look at Thompson Rivers, by contrast, we see the ‘Pack facing only Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, and Victoria from last year’s top seeds. The Orange play all 5 of last season’s non-playoff teams. Fraser Valley gets 4 of those 5 who missed the 2016-17 playoffs.
- The play-off schedule has changed for this coming season, with CW deciding to scrap the Final 4 Tournament in favour of a single game for the championship. The first round has the top four seeds with byes, and the next eight playing single-elimination games (12 @ 5, 11 @ 6, 10 @ 7, and 9 @ 8) . Feb 8 -11. Best of 3 quarter-finals are February 15-18, and the Semis (best-of-three) February 22-25. The Canada West Final is March 2 or 3. ( CW may play a 3rd place game, if it is necessary for wildcard chances at U-Sport Nationals (Halifax, March 8-11).
- Alberta Golden Bears have reportedly added Montreal native, Nolan Woodward, a 6-4, 220 lb wing man, who will enter his 4th year after stops at NCAA Div 2 schools, Gannon University (Pennsylvania), and American International U. (Massachusetts) .
- Josh Wolfram, former TRU Wolf Pack Canada West all-star, moves from Sweden to the Czech Republic in signing a contract with Sluneta – Usti Nad Labem (USTI) for his 2nd pro experience in Europe. More details in this story from TRU Athletics.