Calculated Reactions: RPI risers and fallers; or, the power of Chas Kok

A look at some of the hot and cold teams, based on large weekly changes in RPI. "Risers" must have risen into the top half of the league to be considered, and the threshold to be included as a "faller" was a little higher.


Concordia, women's hockey (+4)
Last week: 17
This week: 13
W 4-3 at Montreal, W 3-2 (SO) vs. Carleton

The Stingers aren't ranked in the CIS poll and neither is anyone from the Q not named McGill. I'm not saying they should be. But the thing about playing in the same division as McGill is that everyone basically has four losses added to their record before the season begins. So can you really look at a team like Concordia (six wins, six losses) and say they're just a .500 team? Without McGill, they'd be 6-1-2, and that "one" in the regulation-loss column might be attractive enough for some voters to reconsider, especially since--in football, at least--polls like these only really capture wins and losses.)

Without McGill, though, Concordia wouldn't have the most difficult schedule in the country, so it cuts both ways in the RPI. And, of course, rankings (statistical, opinion, or otherwise) don't matter much when the only way Concordia can qualify for nationals is beating McGill in the playoffs.

(Amazingly, Concordia won (in a shootout) against the Ravens despite being outshot 46 to 3 and not having a goalie on the ice for the majority of the game. That is, unless a CIS boxscore is wrong...)

TWU, men's basketball (+4)
Last week: 9
This week: 5

It's always nice when you can move up in the rankings without playing. So why do the Spartans all of a sudden find themselves in the top 5? Their record didn't change, but their opponents' record did. A good example of that is the Victoria, Lethbridge, and UBC results: Trinity played them each twice earlier in the year, and they all won both their games this week, which adds two wins to the records of six of Trinity's opponents.

McGill, men's basketball (+5)
Last week: 26
This week: 21
W 70-64 vs. Concordia, L 85-54 at Laval

McGill's weekend against the top teams--well, as top as they get in the QUBL, anyway--was overall a success, knocking off the Stingers behind 22 from Simon Bibeau (game score of 18.5), then falling by one point in Quebec City (Bibeau Game Score: merely 4.3). They're by no means a top 10 team, but the season is young over in that distinct society (the Redmen have played half as many regular-season games as any Canada West team) and things may change. Round 3 vs. Concordia is Friday.

McMaster, men's basketball (+6)
Last week: 16
This week: 10
W 83-81 vs. Windsor, W 87-65 vs. Brock

4-0 since Scott Brittain returned and 3-4 in games without him seems too simple of an explanation, since Victor Raso had eight assists in one game and 13 boards in another this week. But you can read it that way, and it's actually more impressive than that: those four wins include Windsor and Laurier; without Brittain, none of the three was against a good team. Brian Decker had it right when he said their chances depend on the Brittain, "the absolute biggest factor for them."

Waterloo, men's hockey (+8)
Last week: 18
This week: 10
W 3-2 vs. UOIT, W 3-2 vs. Laurier

This is more of an interesting case: on the face of it, wins against WLU and UOIT aren't worth an eight-point jump, and unlike TWU above, their opponents' record didn't change that much. So what did it for the Warriors?

Well, this is one of the features of a ranking system that weighs more recent games more heavily, and one that diminishes a road loss: Waterloo's lost only one home game since October 23. Looking ahead, the next four games probably won't hurt the record (opponents' RPI in order: 26, 28, 24, 26), but the Warriors may take a beating on that 20th-best strength-of-schedule rating by the end of the month.

It also helps that some teams ahead of them fell, including one you'll read more about below.


Regina, men's basketball (-5)
Last week: 12
This week: 17 (out of 42)
W 93-79 vs. TRU, L 66-65 vs. TRU

Chas Kok's last-minute three-pointer gave TRU the win in the Saturday game, and probably clinched Regina's drop out of 12th. Kevin Priblisky and Kok both had 22, and Greg Stewart added 13 with 19 rebounds and seven blocks. Still, losing to TRU is not something that happens often: the WolfPack have only won two other games this year, and both were against teams whose RPI ranking begins with "thirty-". Jeff Lukomski said the loss, and specifically his 1-for-9 on threes in it, was "going to be in my head for the rest of the weekend." His MUBL owner agrees.

UOIT, women's hockey (-6)
Last week: 16
This week: 22 (out of 29)
L 2-0 vs. York, L 5-3 vs. Toronto

Entering this weekend, the Ridgebacks had lost 13 of 18 games in the OUA season, and been shut out seven times. But their record, the way the RPI looks at it, wasn't really that bad: 5-5 at home, 0-8 on the road. True, good teams need to win on the road--actually, good teams need to win, the venue is irrelevant--but UOIT found themselves in a middle-of-the-pack position within their first decade of existence as a school, and their first 100 games as a hockey program. Which isn't that bad.

Then came this week's games. Two losses at home, fairly decisively (another shutout in game 100, and three unanswered third-period goals). Now they've dropped further behind York, and joined Waterloo and Western at the bottom of the standings.

Waterloo, men's basketball (-7)
Last week: 28
This week: 35 (out of 42)
L 98-83 at Guelph, L 73-61 vs. Windsor

Not a good time for Waterloo basketball, in any form. I will admit a particular affinity for the 2005-10 versions of the men's team: I knew a few of the players personally, and last year believed--almost certainly irrationally--that they might have a chance with a senior-loaded team. That didn't happen and they didn't make it past the OUA quarterfinals, finishing 23rd in RPI (and with just a +0.2 SRS).

This year, not even that is happening. They're down to 35th in the RPI (and -6.4 in SRS, on par with UNB and Winnipeg) after two losses, neither of which featured recently-injured top scorer Cam McIntyre much at all. McIntyre's taken about a quarter of this team's shots, and is the only downtown threat they have, so you can see the difference in scoring when he's out for a whole game, like in the Windsor loss. Fortunately for Waterloo (who may be without him for a little bit longer): of the next six games, five are at home, and three of the next four are within that OUA West second tier.

Guelph, men's hockey (-8)
Last week: 9
This week: 17
L 1-0 vs. Brock, L 3-2 at Windsor

Yeah...about not only have to win the swing games to be a contender in the second half, you also have to beat the Brocks and the Windsors. Guelph had been a top-10 team basically all year; now they're another loss away from the 20s. Groans all around.
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