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Andy Wittry | | December 16, 2019

College basketball's NET rankings, explained

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The 2019-20 men's basketball season marks the second season of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, which replaced the RPI prior to the 2018-19 season as the primary sorting tool for evaluating teams.

We're here to help you understand what's valued in the NET rankings and how they're used.

What did the RPI calculate? How is the NET different?

The Ratings Power Index (RPI) was made up of three components:

  • A team's winning percentage
  • Average opponent's winning percentage
  • Average opponent's opponent's winning percentage

The NET includes more components than just winning percentage. It takes into account game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.

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It's both a results-driven and predictive metric.

RELATED: Ohio State debuts at No. 1 in the NET rankings

How was the NET rankings system created?

The NET rankings system was improved in the summer of 2018 after consultation with the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, top basketball analytics experts and Google Cloud Professional Services.

Late-season games from the 2017-18 season, including from the NCAA tournament, were originally used as test sets to develop a ranking model that used machine learning techniques. The model was used to predict the outcome of games in test sets and it was optimized until it was as accurate as possible.

That model is the one used for the NET.

Is there any notable data not included in the NET?

Game date and game order were not included in the NET rankings so a team's first game counts the same as its 30th.

Also, scoring margin was capped at 10 points to prevent the rankings from encouraging unsportsmanlike play.

How are the NET rankings used?

Starting December 16, the NET rankings will be updated daily and they can be found here. Since the NET rankings serve as the primary sorting tool for Division I men's basketball, they play an important role in establishing a team's resume.

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The updated resumes for all 353 Division I teams can be found here and they will also be updated daily starting December 16. Using the quadrant system, which is in its third season, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent's NET ranking.

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

The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding.

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