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NCAA Releases first NET basketball rankings; Kentucky does not crack the top 50

Ding, dong, the RPI is dead!

Matt Slocum / Associated Press

The NCAA decided to replace the RPI as a statistic used to evaluate college basketball programs back in the spring. After running several trials and simulations, the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) emerged.

For the first time, the NCAA released their current NET rankings to the college basketball world on Monday. The Kentucky Wildcats, who remain at No. 10 in the AP poll, came in at No. 61 in the country.

I am sure that fans are going to throw a fit about that number and immediately denounce the NET forever. But let’s take a look at what actually goes into the calculation, shall we.

The NET relies on game results, game location, net offensive and defensive efficiency, quality of wins and losses, and overall strength of schedule. This system was developed over the course of last season and then used as a predictive model to test for accuracy. Apparently the results were satisfactory, because this is the new measuring stick for the NCAA.

The major changes from the RPI include ignoring the date and order of games and capping margin of victory at 10 points. This will equalize the weight of games regardless of when they occur during the season, and it will remove the effect of teams that tend to run up the score in blowout situations.

NET Top 10

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes
  2. Virginia Cavaliers
  3. Texas Tech Red Raiders
  4. Michigan Wolverines
  5. Gonzaga Bulldogs
  6. Duke Blue Devils
  7. Michigan State Spartans
  8. Wisconsin Badgers
  9. Virginia Tech Hokies
  10. Loyola Marymount Lions

When looking at the criteria, it is easy to see why Kentucky is ranked where they are. The Wildcats have zero road wins, zero neutral site wins, and the strength of schedule is embarrassing.

Kentucky currently holds wins over the No. 145 Southern Illinois Salukis, the No. 167 Winthrop Eagles, the No. 203 North Dakota Fighting Hawks, the No. 231 VMI Keydets, and the No. 321 Tennessee State Tigers. That’s not exactly a run through death row.

While the Wildcats are ranked 24th in the country in offensive efficiency, they come in at a putrid No. 195 in defensive efficiency.

In the short term, this is a bit eye-opening about where this team is. Long term, it will be interesting to see if teams start scheduling differently to improve their chances at a higher NET rating. I do not see Calipari doing so, as I’m sure this was met by a big eye-roll in his office.

Other notable rankings include the Tennessee Volunteers (No. 27), Auburn Tigers (No. 16), and the Louisville Cardinals (No. 117).

What do you make of the NET system?