The Ohio State Buckeyes are the first team to be ranked No. 1 in the history of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET).
The NCAAs new metric, which completely replaces the RPI, debuted Monday. The NET will be more than just a highly publicized and debated ranking of all 353 D-I mens teams; it will also be the sorting tool thats used on official team sheets to illustrate strength of schedule, quality of wins and losses, and will group the incipient quadrant system. Team sheets are constantly referenced and weighted against each other by selection committee members as they debate teams for selection and seeding in the NCAA Tournaments field of 68.
The NET, explained: NCAA adopts new college basketball ranking system
Mondays reveal has the 6-0 Buckeyes leading the way, followed by Virginia, Texas Tech, Michigan and Gonzaga.
The release of the NET rankings comes 20 days into the season and on the precipice of a lot of significant games this week. The rankings from here on out will be available to the public and will update daily. While the NET will surely get the most discussion of any analytic ranking (given its officially linked to the NCAA), it is also important to remember that it is not the be-all and end-all of rankings/metrics. It is only one system. Its an important one, and now the most prominent one, but the NCAA will continue to have many of the most mainstream and cited advanced metrics also published on team sheets (KenPom, the Sagarin Ratings, KPI, and ESPNs pair of analytics: BPI and Strength of Record).
The new system replaces the RPI system used in the past and will be used on official team sheets to illustrate a teams strength of schedule and the quality of its wins and losses.
In short, it is a blend of results-based statistics and predictive algorithms. Ultimately, that means the NET is predictive in nature; the introduction to any elements of forecasting intrinsically makes a model predictive. Thats a good thing for college basketball and the selection committee. (For a deeper what-to-know about the NET, how it came to be and what it aims to do, youll want to read this).
“Its a complete replacement (of the RPI),” senior vice president of NCAA mens basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports over the summer. “This metric, we are very confident it achieves what our intention was, and what the recommendation was from the NABC. Its a composite ranking from the standpoint that its got a very significant foundation based of being results-oriented, because that is so important, we believe, to committee and coaches in the selection and seeding process. It has some levels of predictiveness to it now that the RPI never did.”
Its a modification in the team and resume evaluation process. The NCAA put out this graphic to show how the NETs rankings are built.
What are the NET Rankings?Heres EVERYTHING you need to know. Be on the lookout for the first release 👀 pic.twitter.com/kdZwDEjFPS
“There was no goal or intent, in any way with any segment of the game, to benefit or not, populations of teams,” Gavitt said. “That goes both ways. Were trying to create something that is as fair as possible at every level of the the game. First and foremost, results of the games [matter most]. There was no intent, one way or the other. Were comfortable and confident that this is a fair and equitable metric for the entire game.”
But the NET does have some potential foibles. First, the efficiency component doesnt appear to consider quality of opponent on a teams schedule. So within that, a teams efficiency numbers could theoretically vault or tumble its ranking in the NET. Its a potential loophole for the 10-point cap on scoring margin.
Another lingering issue is adjusted winning percentage, which seems to have overlap in the overall formula. Teams are getting double credit for its wins and losses, and taking some of the data accrued in the team value indexs criteria. There is also the issue of the 1.4/1.0/0.6 weighted values and how those cant possibly represent difficulty depending on specific venues (specifically on the road). Bringing even more concern into adjusted winning percentage is the fact that quality of opponent isnt accounted for.
So, for example, if one team is 1-1 with a road win and a home loss, the NCAAs math says theyve played 2.8 “adjusted” games. Yet if a 1-1 team has it flipped, with a home win and a road loss, its 1.2 “adjusted” games played. In reality, those teams each played two games but are not getting evaluated as though they did. If you are an above-.500 team, the combination of winning on the road and losing at home can actually be detrimental — which goes against the committees renewed philosophy of rewarding road performance.
These kinds of inconsistencies in the overall algorithm will be what critics point to when certain teams inevitably wind up higher or lower than most expect.
But overall, its a step forward. And its critical to be patient as the rankings evolve daily, weekly, monthly. What we see now is going to be drastically different from what the NET looks like in March.
Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. Hes in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics… Full Bio
In the first-ever NET rankings released later that day by the NCAA, the Buckeyes learned they have no ability to rise. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the NET rankings, which were created to replace the RPI rankings. Three other Big Ten teams were ranked in the top eight.
The NCAA Evaluation Tool, which will be known as the NET, relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. To make sense of team performance data, late-season games (including from the NCAA tournament) were used as test sets to develop a ranking model leveraging machine learning techniques. The model, which used team performance data to predict the outcome of games in test sets, was optimized until it was as accurate as possible. The resulting model is the one that will be used as the NET going forward.
The NET was built to create a ranking system that was as accurate as possible while also evaluating team performance fairly. To ensure fairness, certain types of data were omitted from the model. Of key importance, game date and order were omitted to give equal importance to both early and late-season games. In addition, a cap of 10 points was applied to the winning margin to prevent rankings from encouraging unsportsmanlike play, such as needlessly running up the score in a game where the outcome was certain.
What has been developed is a contemporary method of looking at teams analytically, using results-based and predictive metrics that will assist the Mens Basketball Committee as it reviews games throughout the season, said Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA. While no perfect rankings exist, using the results of past tournaments will help ensure that the rankings are built on an objective source of truth.
The new rankings system was approved in July after “months of consultation with the Division I Mens Basketball Committee, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, top basketball analytics experts and Google Cloud Professional Services,” per NCAA.com. The RPI was used from 1981 to 2018, but will not be used any longer.
Instead, the NET rankings, which looked favorably at Ohio States start to the season, will be used.
Heres EVERYTHING you need to know. Be on the lookout for the first release pic.twitter.com/kdZwDEjFPS