The NCAA on Wednesday morning unveiled a new ranking system the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball committee will use to rank and seed teams for postseason play. The NCAA Evaluation Tool or NET system replaces the Ratings Percentage Index. So how is the new NET different from the RPI and will it do what the NCAA hopes, ensure the best teams are the selected to participate in March Madness.
While the RPI was not the only metric the committee relied on, for years it carried the most weight. In 2017-18 the NCAA introduced its quadrant system, placing a greater emphasis on wins that came on the road. Teams were placed into four quadrants.
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 161-351, Neutral 201-351, Away 241-353
Together, the quadrant system along with NET will be used by the Men’s Basketball Committee when selecting teams to fill out the field of 64.
The new NET system will not worry about when a game was played, in an effort to have both early season and late season games carry the same importance in the committee’s mind. The new system also removes the margin of victory from the equation, capping the winning margin at 10. The NET system will rely on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.
“What has been developed is a contemporary method of looking at teams analytically, using results-based and predictive metrics that will assist the Men’s Basketball Committee as it reviews games throughout the season,” NCAA senior vice president for basketball Dan Gavitt said in a release announcing the NET system.
The NCAA Evaluation Tool means it’s the end of the line for the RPI. The RPI, which has been used by the NCAA since 1981, combines a teams winning percentage, the winning percentage of said teams opponents, and the winning percentage of those opponents’ opponents. Seventy-five percent of the RPI formula relies on strength of schedule.
The end of the RPI is a change welcomed by both coaches and pundits alike as the system had come under more scrutiny over the last several years. The index’s instance on relying so heavily on strength of schedule prompted Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post to call the RPI one of the worst indicators of team strength.
Will the new NCAA Evaluation Tool eliminate any future injustice when it comes to Selection Sunday? Certainly not, the NCAA appears to at least be taking a step in the right direction by kicking the RPI to the curb.