Is the Big East better than the ACC?
Does the Big 12 deserve eight spots in the NCAA tournament?
How much parity exists in college basketball?
Questions for the philosophers, I would say, but we’re getting a little bit closer to the properly rating college hoops teams, I think.
Today the NCAA announced that it’s replacing RPI with a new ranking system as “the primary sorting tool for evaluating teams during the Division I men’s basketball season.”
From the NCAA website:
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.
Scoring margin is interesting. That jumped right out at me.
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.
“Game date and order were omitted.”
That’s really important, in my opinion, because it shouldn’t matter whether you’re hot or cold going into the tournament. You should be evaluated on the body of work you’ve put together from the first game of the season to the last conference tournament game. This is the entirety of your resume and December games and February games should be weighted equally.
Also, capping the scoring margin at 10 is smart, for the exact reason they describe. Duke beating Wofford by 40 points in the non-conference is a good example of why that should happen. On the flip side, losing a couple of heart breakers on buzzer beaters should now be appropriately measured, right?
This will be the second year in a row that changes are made to evaluating tournament resumes. Last year, the NCAA axed the standard of “top 50 wins,” and instead rolled out a quadrant system that weighs neutral site and away game performances.
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
Also added last year were more metrics:
“…These include the Kevin Pauga Index and ESPN’s results-oriented metric, the Strength of Record. The team sheets also included three predictive metrics: those managed by renowned basketball analytics experts Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin, as well as ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.”
Of course, the tournament selection committee is still going to be deciding who gets in and who doesn’t, but at least it seems like we’re coming up with better analytical and ranking tools to help them make the right choices.
Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA:
“The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee has had helpful metrics it has used over the years, and will continue to use the team sheets, but those will now be sorted by the NCAA Evaluation Tool. As has always been the case, the committee won’t solely focus on metrics to select at-large teams and seed the field. There will always be a subjective element to the tournament selection process, too.”
The NCAA just announced that they will no longer use RPI as the primary sorting tool when it comes to NCAA tournament resumes.
However, it also announced that it will continue to give Duke the easiest possible path to the Final Four every year.
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) August 22, 2018
RIP RPI. I look forward to trashing the NCAA's new metric once the 2019 bracket is revealed and doesn't include a team I thought should make the field.
— Chris Stone (@cstonehoops) August 22, 2018