After years of hearing complaints surrounding its over-reliance on an "outdated" RPI system, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee finally appears willing to embrace change.
The NCAA will host a meeting Jan. 20 with the purpose of implementing more advanced metrics into the selection process. This means that in the future when the committee begins breaking down resumes and filling out seed lines, they could be taking into account formulas like Ken Pomeroy's and Jeff Sagarin's, and not just staring at one number from the RPI.
There's a reason for this meeting of the math minds. The NABC, representing the coaches, has sent a message that it would like to look into the use of more advanced metrics in the selection and seeding process. An even more powerful microscope to go with the time-honored RPI. The NCAA listened and agreed. A group of coaches and committee members is now at work, and this get-together is for everyone to hear the possibilities for the future — from those who know.
"They've got some pretty strong thoughts on what a composite metric could look like and maybe should look like," (NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan) Gavitt said of the working group. "I also think they recognize their fallibility in advanced mathematical and analytical areas, so they feel that it's important to engage experts in the field."
So is an aggregate metric that includes a number of the most popular college basketball formulas actually going to wind up becoming a part of the selection process? It certainly sounds like it, and Gavitt has an understandable explanation why.
"I think it's very important because it's the way so many people engage with following sports these days, and in particular in this case, college basketball. In some ways, maybe young people are right at the top of that list.
"You need to stay relevant in the age that you're operating in. Certainly relevant today is embracing analytics and technology to the appropriate level.
"In an imperfect process, I think what the committee strives to get as perfect as possible is to have justification and rationale for their decisions. And the more that can be rooted in fact and in data, the more comfortable they can be with those decisions and the more justifiable they can be in explaining them."
The only bad news? This meeting is taking place too late for any of this to affect the way the 2017 NCAA Tournament is seeded. Using an aggregate metric won't be an option to be part of the selection process until at least 2018.