In hopes of erecting a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) that is a more accurate reflection of NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams this year, the folks in charge of the RPI fastened a few loose screws during the offseason.

The primary malfunction they endeavored to fix was the disparity, or lack thereof, between the merits of a home win and a road win. As it stood, a home win and a road win stood equal ground in their highly influential RPI, the system the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses to determine the field of 64 every March.

Realizing that the credence of a road win dwarfed that of a home win, given the advantage offered by crazed fans, familiarity of courts and the freedom from the rigors of travel, the RPI wisely reevaluated its own system.

It’s no secret in college basketball that winning a conference includes winning a vast majority of home games, if not all of them, and toughing out a few games on the road. For the UCSB men’s basketball team, the regular season Big West Championship might be out of sight following Saturday’s place-putting by Pacific. If they want to dance come March, they’re going to have to learn how to win away from the Thunderdome.

At home, UCSB has Dr. Jeckyled a 6-2 record despite their struggles with a mountain of injuries. After beating San Diego State in its opening game of the season. however, Santa Barbara has yet to win away from home, compiling a 1-7 record on the road.

As aforementioned, the Gauchos have had some of the worst luck in the history of the game, in terms of just being able to walk, but they don’t accept it as an excuse – so neither should their fans.

Tonight and Saturday, UCSB, without the help of freshman Derek Rasp (who has a lung contusion), will suit up just seven again against Riverside and Fullerton, respectively. If they can come together on the road, the Gauchos could secede from Big West mediocrity.

With five of the next seven games coming on the road, there is a larger theme at play. Santa Barbara will be the Jack Kerouac of the Big West in the coming month, but the dividends of road success won’t be measured by wins. The experience of winning away from the Thunderdome is the ultimate destination for Head Coach Bob Williams – because it is that knowledge is what determines the Big West’s Big Dancer.

But, as the RPI has concluded, that knowledge doesn’t come easy.