SPI Explained

SPI Explained

Season Performance Index (SPI), like ranking systems in other collegiate sports, is a mathematical formula used to evaluate teams based on their wins, losses, and strength of schedule. SPI was developed by the USFCA. There are two versions of SPI. One is for individuals and the other is for teams. Individual SPI is calculated by the NCAA and is used in selection to Regionals and Nationals. Individual SPI is generally not public.

Team SPI results are calculated by the USFCA using team match results. Team SPI is available on their Team Statistics page. In addition to the USFCA coaches’ polls, they provide team rankings to the NCAA for the regular season.

Background:

Comparing collegiate individuals and teams is uniquely challenging in the sport of fencing. This is because NCAA Fencing includes all three NCAA Divisions, and due to varying geography and funding, schools will have different schedules in terms of number and strength of competition.

History:

The USFCA was instrumental in developing and NCAA approval of a new individual formula to compare fencers. Called SPI (Season Performance Index), it replaced an older formula called Fencer Seeding Factor. SPI became effective in the 2022-2023 season. The USFCA modified the Individual SPI formula for use in publicized team rankings.

Structure:

The team formula uses the team match win-loss results that are divided over three strength categories. The points of each category are weighted with higher points for higher strength. Points are then awarded based on win % in each category. This is the basic structure, though the complete formula contains additional constants and modifiers. Team SPI will usually be published in January when sufficient results are available for rankings.

Conclusion:

As more results come in over the season, Team SPI will be increasingly accurate for assessing team performance. It is not meant to be predictive. It is a past-result-based metric for people to follow and compare their favorite teams.