About the MRI
April 1, 2005 | By Benjamin Miraski
I am always asked where the MRI came from. It all started back in 1999 when I was a senior at Drexel University. As we were one of the top mid-major basketball programs for a few years, including a win against Memphis in the NCAA tournament, I was increasingly excited about college basketball and more specifically the two major rankings.
At the same time, the BCS was slowly being formed for football. I began to think about what a computer poll for basketball would look like, one that would rank all the Division 1 teams, and give credit to the mid-major programs which do outperform each year, but do not get the credit for the strong basketball that they did play.
At the time, I knew very little about the Sagarin ratings, and the internet, while already seen as the great tool that it was for commerce, research, and communication, was not yet robust enough to where I would have access to all the different rating systems that were out there. I started with a simple spreadsheet as a test and work out some preliminary sketches of what would become the first MRI. The rankings included weighting based on winning percentage, strength of schedule, rebounds, turnovers, and a weighted margin of victory. The numbers that came out seemed appropriate enough to me that I felt confident in trying to continue it when the next season started. I released some of the first MRI numbers during the 1999-2000 season, but the method I was using to track the data proved cumbersome, and I was forced to abandon the rankings near the end of the season.
The first real rankings, which currently appear on this site appeared during the 2000-1 season. During that time, I tweaked the margin of victory component to have a cap and also to make it more weighted based on opponent. Since that time, the formula has stayed the same until the 2003-4 season when the rebounding and turnover numbers were changed to measure the team's performance against the rest of the league, instead of on its own. The website MRISports.com debuted during the 2002-3 season to showcase the MRI for basketball and to provide access to historical date for the MRI.
Football rankings first appeared on the website during the 2003-4 season. I became interested in changing the basketball formula for football the season before, but couldn't figure out the right way to do it. I took a chance on a formula during the season and ran the numbers into the spreadsheet. What came out proved to be good enough for what will be now the MRI for football. It also include weighting for winning percentage, strength of schedule, margin of victory and turnovers, but has other ratings for offense split by rushing and passing, and defense. Because the MRI includes margin of victory in its formula, it will not be eligible for inclusion into the BCS at any time in the future.
Posted April 1, 2005 2:31 PM