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Penn men's basketball has seen more good than bad thus far this season, and the team is the top-ranked squad in the Ivy League in terms of RPI

Credit: Zach Sheldon

Conference play hasn't yet tipped off, but by at least one measure the Quakers are off to a promising start in their quest for an Ivy League triumph. 

Penn men's basketball sits at No. 92 in the latest national Rating Percentage Index (RPI) rankings, which came out on Monday. RPI seeks to compare the nation's many teams by taking into account the massive variety in strength of schedule when looking at wins and losses.

RPI combines three different percentages into a single number: winning percentage, opponents' winning percentage, and opponents' opponents' winning percentage. Opponents' winning percentage accounts for half of the RPI calculation, while the rest is split evenly between the other two percentages.

The 6-4 Quakers sit far behind the likes of perennial national powerhouses such as No. 1 Duke and have a long way to go before leveling up with local Big 5 rivals such as No. 9 Temple and No. 11 Villanova, but when it comes to the Ancient Eight, the Red and Blue are, at this early juncture in the season, the cream of the crop. 

The Red and Blue's closest Ivy colleague sits a whopping 72 spots behind at No. 164, where Cornell finds itself somewhat closely trailed by No. 182 Columbia and No. 189 Yale.

Penn's 6-4 mark is far from stellar, but as the only Ivy team to have won the majority of its games, the team's status as the (early) Ivy king is far from undeserved. 

But while RPI might be a major concern for many teams, Penn's path (along with that of its Ivy foes) to the NCAA Tournament is quite clear and quite inflexible, and has little to do with RPI. The winner of the Ivy League Tournament in March will get a bid to the Big Dance, and the other seven Ivy teams almost will certainly not. To get into the tournament, Penn must finish in the top four of the conference when the regular season begins. 

Top four in Ivy wins, that is. Not RPI.