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# Predicting the future ... in real time

As the college basketball progresses and March draws ever closer, "RPI" no doubt will be a commonly used acronym among fans discussing their team's chances* of earning an NCAA tournament invitation.

* Jerry Palm, who operates CollegeRPI.com, recently released his first bracket projection of the season, and Maryland did not make the cut. The Terrapins' RPI ranking currently sits at No. 74, and their strength of schedule slots at No. 45.

About a year ago, Chip Yu and a few others decided to enter into the crystal ball business and started RealTimeRPI.com. Using a statistical prediction model based on a multi-variable regression formula, RealTimeRPI.com projects the score of each game, the final record of each Division I squad and which teams will make the Big Dance.

"Who will win a game, that's the future," Yu, an analyst for RealTimeRPI.com, said in a telephone interview. "We want to sell and present a rating."

A team's predicted finish can change after each game, as well as after each game any of its opponents plays. For instance, on Saturday -- prior to the start of Maryland's ACC slate -- RealTimeRPI.com predicted that the Terrapins would finish 12-17 and 3-13 in conference play. On Sunday, before Maryland tipped off against Florida State, its predicted finish changed to 14-15 (5-11). On Monday, after the Terrapins had defeated the Seminoles, their predicted finish stood at 15-14 (6-10), which is where it remained as of two minutes ago.

Their projected record did not change after Tuesday's loss at Wake Forest because RealTimeRPI.com predicted that the Terrapins would fall in Winston-Salem.

Here are the factors RealTimeRPI.com considers in compiling its predictions: winning percentage, strength of schedule, opponents' strength of schedule, a team's scores, opponents' scores, winning margins and home-court advantage.

Yu said home-court advantage usually contributes four to eight points to the predicted tally of the home team's final score in each game. How many points the home team is afforded is based on its record at home in the "last couple of seasons," Yu said. Non-mathematical factors, such as atmosphere, crowd noise, etc., are not considered. RealTimeRPI.com affords Maryland 6.5 home-court advantage points.

On the surface, it would appear that RealTimeRPI.com bases its game predictions on which team holds a higher RPI ranking, but Yu insisted that is not the case. According to the Web site, RealTimeRPI.com's game predictions are accurate 76.8 percent of the time.

If you're thinking, 'Gee, 15-14 -- not to mention 12-17 -- sounds like a ridiculously low projection for Maryland,' you're not alone. Yu said he thinks Maryland will end up outperforming its current projection, but based on its body of work at the current moment, he said that's the final record the Terrapins deserve.

"The good thing about this computerized model is it's not biased," Yu said. "It's all with data, with what [the teams] have done."

As we all know, the unpredictable human element present in every game makes such mathematically based predictions faulty to a certain extent. RealTimeRPI.com did not expect College of Charleston to defeat North Carolina*. Neither, I'm sure, did the Tar Heels. That's part of the beauty of sports.

* The site did, however, predict that Clemson would beat North Carolina last night.

Some of RealTimeRPI.com's predictions seem sketchy at best (Apparently, Duke is only going to lose once the rest of the regular season.), but if you're interested in seeing another viewpoint on how the season will shake out, it's at least worth perusing.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 14, 2010; 2:33 PM ET
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This idiocy is what happens when nerds attempt to include themselves in sports. Stick to playing in the band Chit Yu.

Posted by: fushezzi | January 14, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Yanda, thanks for exposing Chit Yu and Realtimerpi.com for the absolute fraud they are.

12-17 overall and 3-13 in the ACC? Wow, just wow. So, when was the last time Maryland went 12-17 or worse under Gary Williams?

Try never

Posted by: Barno1 | January 14, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Do you have some kind of deal with Chit Yu and realtime RPI or something? Everyone knows Pomeroy's stats are much better and much more interesting.

Posted by: wbbradb | January 14, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

yeah, this is a joke. it would be one thing if these geeks waited until mid-February for this nonsense, but two games into conference play makes all records mush.

these are the same idiots that project Christian Guzman to hit .400 in mid-april.

Posted by: jpfterps | January 14, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Petecard, is this you? (btw, if we somehow don't make the tourney this year, that won't be 3 in 4 years, it'll be 2 in 4 years)

Potomac, Md.: Hi Boz,

Maryland basketball is currently 10-5 (1-1 ACC) with over half of their remaining games against ranked opponents. Do they make the tournament this year? If not that is the third time in four years that Gary has missed the tournament. Is the game passing him by?

Tom Boswell: I expected Gary to pull out a coaching win at Wake the other night. That was the kind he usually lives for. Didn't happen. I thought Vasquez was too unselfish in the last seconds of regulation and needed to take the last shot himself. BTW, he's going to make a fine NBA player. His game suits the pro game perfectly. The right size, shoots the lights out, can penetrate, tough.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 14, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

So, with one game left to play, what will these folks predict Maryland's final record will be? Bet they can get it right by then. This is Ridiculous, with a capital R.

Posted by: Rational_Man | January 14, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Terps make the tourney. End of story.

Posted by: cbmuzik | January 14, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Those models are a joke. Yeah, maybe the data isn't biased, but the formula is clearly flawed. All these stat geeks try to use baseball projections and stats as model for other sports but the sample sizes are always to small. Baseball has tons of games and massive amounts of data generated to use for predictive modeling. College basketball has questionable stat keeping and a tiny amount of data to even use. What a bunch of crap.

Posted by: lavar609 | January 14, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

yeah i dont get this...i can see them struggling but even if they have a bad year and miss the tourny i think they finish close to, if not 8-8 in conf...i just cant seem them only winning 5 conf games...

but then again this is post national championship Terps basketball...losing too teams they have no business losing to has become an all too familiar theme...

so as much as like to think that we are a better team that last year, will do better in conference than last year and have enough talent to make the tourny without being on the bubble going into the acc tourny, i imagine it will be more of the same as the last several years...

taking it down to the wire and making us all suffer a lot pain along the way by playing to the level of their opponent and making selection sunday as nerve wracking as always...

but this team should (and better) get there...

Posted by: deadskin | January 14, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm not making predictions and this team is really hard to handicap.

While not optimistic, it certainly isn't impossible to see some success in the ACC.

What I did find interesting is that the survey/poll offered above doesn't even give one the option of agreeing with the poll! Now that is biased reporting. I didn't and wouldn't vote because that kind of a vote is just plain stupid.

If we thought the Wake game was important in setting a trend and getting an early quality road win, then what can we say about the BC game on Saturday. The Terps really need to step up.

Posted by: petecard | January 14, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

General Greivis became more of a selfish hairclog on O as the game progressed. Two guys were open cutting to the basket on his OT chuck w/ 5 sec. on the clock. Dumb. It was a winnable game.

Posted by: Realness1 | January 14, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

After last year I will never question Gary again.

Posted by: mstov | January 14, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Here is an idea which should challege the geeks... Lets set up a pole where we challenge there predictions..We win...they go away as frauds...

Yanda...Set up the format...terp fans vs geeks!!!!!!!

Posted by: carolina1 | January 15, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

mstov has drunk the Koolaid. What was so great about last year.

We barely mad the tournament and won 1 game. Cmon, that's better than playing in the NIT but that's about all you can say.

By the way, it's 2010, mstov, and we have our hands full again.

Posted by: petecard | January 15, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

"what was so great about last year"

Well, for starters, at least one publication had Maryland finishing dead last in the ACC. Other publications said it would take a miracle for Md to make the tournament. We end up beating several ranked teams, including 3 top 5, including the eventual national champs and runner up, got to the semis of the ACC tournament after beating a Wake team that at one point was ranked number 1 in the nation, and dominated a California team in the NCAAs that was a higher seed.

All of this while playing with a 6 ft 7 unathletic center who had very little playing experience prior to that season.

Yeah, what a crappy year. One would think that as the guy who was claiming all year that MD would not even make the NIT, you'd have been pleasantly surprised with how well the season went Peteboy.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 15, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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