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Andy Katz | Correspondent | March 12, 2019

NET rankings: What to know about college basketball's new tool to help select the NCAA tournament field

No more reliance on the RPI.

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has a new tool that hopefully should crystalize the ranking system before the selection and seeding of teams for the 2019 NCAA tournament — NET rankings.

The NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET, will be the new barometer for the committee, and it will include game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capping at 10 points per game), and net offensive and defensive efficiency.


The committee did consider using the game date, an uncapped scoring margin, distance traveled and days of rest before a game but decided against using these in the equation.

“This will have the components of all the metrics,’’ said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, one of the coaches from the National Association of Basketball Coaches who was a consultant on the project.

“This will prevent the outliers,” Few said. “There were teams and leagues that were able to trick the RPI, either intentionally or unintentionally. We have all the technology and analytics, and it was silly not to use it.”

Few said he wanted to see a legitimate reward for going on the road, something that had been done with the quad system last season where there was more of an emphasis on road wins than home wins. He was pleased to see the importance put on the analytics of offensive and defensive efficiency.

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The quadrant system will still be used on team sheets to give context to wins and losses. The system sorts results in the following manner:

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75.
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135.
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240.
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353.

Northeastern coach Bill Coen, who also is a member of the NABC’s ad hoc committee, said this is another step in the process of everyone understanding what a tournament-worthy resume looks like.

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“While the committee generally felt the RPI served as a very useful tool to help identify potential NCAA tournament teams, we needed to find out if we could do better,” said Coen, who has been at Northeastern for 12 seasons. “We asked the committee to more narrowly define a quality win, taking into account where the games were played, and that led to the new quadrant system. The quadrants try to capture the fact that beating a top-75 team on the road is likely as difficult as beating a top-30 team at home. The intention was to more clearly identify which teams had more quality wins.

“Then Mark Few brought up an idea of using a composite of all the various prominent indices, some of which have predictive qualities that could help identify the best teams. After consulting with many of the designers of these other metrics, the NCAA began to develop its own index that would incorporate the most current evaluation measures. With an improved sorting tool, and a tighter definition of a quality win, the hope is we now have a more accurate selection and seeding procedure.”

NABC Executive Director Jim Haney said it made more sense for the NCAA to come up with its own metric rather than to just use five or six others. He said this was a great example of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee listening and working with the coaches.

“They were very respectful,” Haney said. “The members were very thoughtful, and the combination led to change. This is all good for the game.”

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