Who uses it: College basketball coaches, analysts and fans
What it means: The Ratings Percentage Index, used to help the NCAA Tournament selection committee choose teams and seedings. For men's basketball, the RPI is a combined numerical rating of the team's record, its strength of schedule, and its opponents' strength of schedule; the women's RPI includes a bonus factor based on the team's performance against top-ranked opponents.
How you can use it: When making your NCAA tournament picks.
Okay, let's get this out of the way first: betting on college sports is wrong. These are kids, not professionals or racing animals, and they are in no way responsible for the financial well-being of strangers.
That said, making predictions for bragging rights, or for some token reflection of those bragging rights (say, a pool that does not exceed some humble amount) doesn't really count as betting. How's that for a rationalization? (It's the same, in my mind, as saying that "Jesus, Mary and Joseph," is not taking the Lord's name in vain, it's a spontaneous prayer.)
So let's get down to it. My Final Four predictions: I think it's going to be a very, very good year for the Big East. I pick West Virginia, Pitt, UConn, and Villanova, with West Virginia and UConn in the final, and UConn winning it all. First round upset predictions: Iona, NC State, Penn, Bradley, Xavier -- yes, Xavier! -- South Alabama, Montana, Seton Hall, and George Mason. My beloved Hoyas will make it to the Round of Eight before losing -- again -- to Villanova. Only Scott Peeples will truly understand how that prediction pains me, but it's a rebuilding year.
Post your own predictions in the comments section...