The NET ranking is a new development this season, meant to replace the RPI as the primary tool that the NCAA Division I men’s basketball selection committee will use to evaluate Division I teams.The formula for the ranking takes a handful of factors into account, such as the location and margin of victory for games, as well as the offensive and defensive efficiencies of each team.
What are the NET Rankings?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the first Top 25:
|RANK||SCHOOL||CONFERENCE||RECORD||ROAD||NEUTRAL||HOME||NON DIV I|
|1||Ohio St.||Big Ten||6-0||2-0||0-0||4-0||0-0|
|3||Texas Tech||Big 12||6-0||0-0||2-0||4-0||0-0|
|7||Michigan St.||Big Ten||5-1||0-0||2-1||3-0||0-0|
|24||Kansas St.||Big 12||6-0||0-0||3-0||3-0||0-0|
You’ll see a lot of differences between this ranking and the AP Top 25. For example, AP No. 1 Gonzaga is at No. 5 here, and AP No. 2 Kansas is at No. 11.
These discrepancies are pretty understandable, as the ranking systems take a very different approach. The AP ranking is compiled from the individual votes of 65 sportswriters and broadcasters.
The NET ranking, however, is based entirely on statistics, and is a representation of how well a team has played up to this point. It takes no predicted trends or results into account.
Let’s look at Ohio State for an example of how the ranking comes together.
The committee didn’t release the numbers behind their ranking this week, but thanks to the transparency of the ranking, we can get a good idea of what went into Ohio State landing the top spot.
One of the main factors in the NET ranking is a team’s NET efficiency, which is simply the team’s offensive efficiency minus its defensive efficiency. In other words, it’s a measure of the difference between how many points a team scores per possession vs. how many points a team’s opponents score per possession.
Ohio State’s NET efficiency ranks No. 13 in the country, at 0.316. For reference, Gonzaga sits at No. 30, with a NET efficiency of 0.261.
But that point differential doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Of the top 15 teams in NET efficiency, only two are undefeated on the road through more than one game — Belmont and Ohio State. But unlike Belmont, Ohio State hasn’t played any games against Non-Division I opponents. That helps the Buckeyes’ Team Value Index.
With a better idea of what the ranking represents, let’s take a look at the bigger picture.
The Big Ten dominates the first NET ranking, with eight teams in the Top 25. Close behind is the ACC, with six, then the Big 12 and West Coast with three each.
To get a better idea of how each conference performed, we looked at the average NET ranking for every team in all 32 conferences. Again, the Big Ten came out on top, with an average NET ranking of 37.1. Here’s how all 32 conference stack up:
|Conference||Average rank||Teams||Top team (rank)|
|Big Ten||37.14285714||14||Ohio State (1)|
|Big 12||65.7||10||Texas Tech (3)|
|Big East||70.2||10||St. John’s (29)|
|Pac-12||98.66666667||12||Arizona St. (28)|
|Atlantic 10||170.5714286||14||Duquesne (40)|
|C-USA||175.5714286||14||North Texas (54)|
|Sun Belt||193||12||Ga. Southern (26)|
|Big Sky||205.3636364||11||Montana (52)|
|Ivy League||205.375||8||Harvard (124)|
|Big South||219.7272727||11||Radford (22)|
|Big West||221.3333333||9||UC-Irvine (102)|
|Patriot||225.5||10||Holy Cross (109)|
|Summit League||228.1111111||9||South Dakota St. (159)|
|WAC||233.8888889||9||Seattle U (153)|
|NEC||254.5||10||Central Conn. St. (150)|
|America East||255.6666667||9||Stony Brook (152)|
|Southland||257.6923077||13||Abilene Christian (55)|
|MEAC||300.5||12||Florida A&M (211)|
|SWAC||306.2||10||Texas Southern (234)|
There are some other interesting takeaways from looking by conference:
- Villanova sits in third place in the Big East, behind St. John’s and Creighton. The Wildcats have won the regular season or tournament championship every year since the 2013-14 season. Neither St. John’s nor Creighton has won since the 1999-2000 season, when the Red Storm took the tournament title.
- Abilene Christian is miles ahead in the Southland at the moment. The Wildcats are 6-0 on the season, with two road wins and two neutral wins, landing them at No. 55 in the NET rankings. The other 12 teams in the Southland have an average ranking of 274.6.
- The West Coast Conference is seeing a bit of a throwback to the days of Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble. Behind No. 5 Gonzaga is No. 10 Loyola Marymount. The Lions are one of three teams that are undefeated through at least seven games (the other two being Furman and North Texas), and have one road win and two neutral wins so far. But they’ve got the biggest test of the season coming up in a road game at UCLA on Dec. 2.
- The Big Ten has four teams in the Top 10 of the NET rankings — Ohio State (1), Michigan (4), Michigan State (7), Wisconsin (8). The ACC has three — Virginia (2), Duke (6), Virginia Tech (9). If those teams keep up the production, that will make for some extremely tight conference races.
Of course, these rankings will see a lot of change as we get deeper into the season. And the closer we get to March, the more weight the NET rankings carry. They’ll be far from the only factor come Selection Sunday, but if you want a good idea of where your team stands, keep your eye on the NET.