We are 97 days until Selection Sunday and it’s time to start looking at how the Coogs match-up nationwide. Obviously, our 8-0 record is among the nation’s best. And while we haven’t played many road games (just 2) they both come over teams that will improve our strength of schedule by season’s end.
Over the last few years, the NCAA has attempted to replace the RPI in college basketball with a better system focused on identifying good wins. The goal is to improve the process of finding the best 36 at-large selections and to seed and bracket the entire tournament.
Last year, the quadrant system was introduced. The quadrant improved the RPI by grouping teams by strength and rewarding good road and neutral-site wins. That quadrant system will continue to be used but the RPI has now been replaced by the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET).
Here are the highlights of NET:
1. Includes game results, strength of schedule, and game location.
2. Doesn’t include game date or order meaning a good win in November counts the same as a good win in the conference tournament.
3. Unlike the college football playoff, NET takes scoring margin into account (it is capped at 10 points per game).
4. Also includes net offensive and defensive efficiency.
The Oklahoma State win was a great win according to the NET: a W, their SOS will end up being pretty good, we won on the road, and won by the max number of points taken into account (10).
The Coogs moved up to 14th in the NET after Saturday’s win.
Why the NET may be better
The RPI was a simplistic formula that just looked at a team’s record (25%), their opponents’ record (50%), and their opponents’ opponents’ record (25%). The NET is more sophisticated: it looks at games, scoring margin, and puts a premium on games away from home.
Now, the NET rankings will be plugged into the quadrant system in order to quantify the results. Here’s a reminder of how games are sorted:
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.
According to the quadrant system, beating #75 on the road is valued the same as beating #1 at home. The purpose of the NET was to better identify quality wins and therefore, better identify top teams. Now with a better sorting tool and an improved definition of a quality win, the committee has better metrics to use in selecting teams.
5 Reasons the NET might not change things
1. A face-value look at the NET shows a possible problem. There are 5 main criteria – game results, net efficiency, winning percentage, adjusted winning percentage, and scoring margin – weighted in descending order. I believe the weighting is 30% – 25% – 20% – 15% – 10%.
A team could do very well in the NET rankings just by scheduling easy wins: all 5 metrics focus on winning games while just small parts look at quality of opponents and locations. And there’s nothing that addresses strength of schedule – a real goof – although the quadrant addresses quality wins individually.
2. If you’re determining quality teams, real scoring margin matters. Capping it at 10 points prevents you from getting a full view of a team’s abilities. Beating a top-5 team at home by 40 should count for more than beating #75 on the road by 10. In the NET, they are the same.
3. The quadrant and NET did not eliminate the committee’s use of subjective criteria. The committee can still value late-season wins more than early season wins. They can value the eye test more than the NET. It’s possible that the new NET combined with the quadrant might not change anything.
4. The Selection Committee is still flawed. The committee has members from the Pac-12, ACC, SEC, Big Ten as well as the MWC, Big South, MAC, Southland, Atlantic 10, and Missouri Valley. There’s no one from the American and no one from Texas. Four of the 5 “P5” conferences are represented but not the Big 12 and AAC.
It’s too early to make a definitive call on the NET Rankings as there’s not enough data yet to see how it will shake out. But currently, the top 14 teams combine for just 8 losses with only one at home. Four of the top 14 haven’t played a true road game.
And so far, the system appears to be rewarding all wins. UH is in the top 14 despite games at home against #314 Rice and two of the bottom 5 teams in the NET: #349 Northwestern State and #350 Alabama A&M. #353 Coppin State – dead last in the country – comes to Fertitta Center on December 23.
The UH schedule was released before the NET was introduced in August but it appears the schedule is playing perfectly into the new system. But it will take a full season to figure out if that’s how it shakes out.
*all NET ratings as of games played through December 9th.
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