The first NET rankings were released Monday, clearly showing teams being rewarded for winning and beating quality teams.
Ohio State was the top team in the first NET rankings (coincidentally for the second time in two seasons). The Buckeyes, who lost for the first time at Minnesota on Sunday night, would have had a strong case of being No. 1 in the AP poll (as well as our Power 36) had they knocked off the Gophers.
NET EXPLAINED: How the NET rankings work
But the more important ranking is the NET, where the Buckeyes have a strength of schedule ranking of 48, 2-1 mark in quadrant one and 1-0 in quadrant two. The Buckeyes have quality home wins over Villanova and Penn State and a victory at North Carolina.
The common theme among the top teams ranked were a slew of wins — true road wins, a number of wins in the first two quadrants and no bad losses. Or, in the cases of San Diego State (3), Auburn (7), Liberty (19) and Duquesne (20), no losses at all.
San Diego State is 3-0 on the road while Liberty is 2-0, including a road win at Vanderbilt. Liberty and Duquesne may find it hard to hold onto their top-20 standing as scheduling dips for them. Both had non-conference strength of schedules in the 300s. Liberty won’t get a boost in the Atlantic Sun while Duquesne could have some moments where it moves up or stays steady in the top-heavy A-10.
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Duke was ranked 13 in large part to a 4-0 quad-one record (wins over No. 2 Kansas in New York, at No. 29 Michigan State, No. 38 Georgetown in New York and No. 62 at Virginia Tech). The one loss for the Blue Devils — to No. 74 Stephen F. Austin at home — is a quad-three defeat.
Teams that have won games via a strong non-conference slate showed well like Butler (4),Baylor (5), Gonzaga (6), Dayton (10), Memphis (16), Oregon (17) and Michigan (21).
Notable teams in the top 30 were Northern Iowa at No. 28 after beating Colorado, Penn State (18) after knocking off Maryland (11) and two teams which played in the Cancun final, West Virginia (12) and Wichita State (14) — a game won by the Mountaineers.
The reigning national champion Virginia Cavaliers are at No. 39 with a 2-1 quad-one record and a non-conference strength of schedule at 122. Texas Tech, which just knocked off then No. 1 Louisville in the AP Poll, and No. 8 in the NET, checked in at No. 34.
Two potential preseason Final Four teams, North Carolina and Florida, have struggled with rankings at 95 and 78, respectively.
And Kentucky, which lost once to 183 Evansville at home, is at 58. The Wildcats have only one win in the first quadrant, that came on opening night against Michigan State (29) in New York.
The rankings will be updated daily through Selection Sunday.