NCAA Introduces New Metric to Replace RPI
The NCAA announced Wednesday that it has replaced RPI (Rating Percentage Index) as the primary tool for evaluating and ranking college basketball teams. RPI has been replaced by the NCAA Evaluating Tool (NET) as a means of sorting out which teams will qualify for the men’s NCAA Tournament.
The change will take place immediately, meaning NET will be utilized by the NCAA for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign.
The NCAA believes that NET is a more advanced way of sorting which teams are legitimate tournament contenders. The tool uses strength of schedule, game results, scoring margin, game location, offensive and defensive rating and quality of wins and losses to determine the field for the NCAA Tournament.
Senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA Dan Gavitt said, “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. While no perfect rankings exist, using the results of past tournaments will help ensure that the rankings are built on an objective source of truth.”
NET rankings will be made public for the first time in late November or early December. The rankings will be updated on a daily basis until Selection Sunday. The rankings will be released for a final time following the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament.
RPI has been the NCAA’s primary ranking system since it was introduced in 1981. RPI will continue to be used by other Division I committees, including the Women’s Basketball Committee next season.
The NCAA says that NET was developed with assistance from the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and the National Association of Basketball Coaches with additional input from basketball analytics personnel from Google Cloud Services. The NCAA says it has tested the model when trying to predict the outcomes of games.
Unlike RPI, NET will not take into account when a game is played. RPI placed more weight on games later in the season as a means of evaluating which teams were in good form in the season’s latter stages. Game date is omitted with NET. NET also has a hard cap on the winning margin (10 points), which means running up the score will not be incentivized.
NET was officially approved in July. Selection Sunday will continue to utilize the quadrant system, which was introduced this past season. RPI will simply be replaced by NET as the system’s guiding force. The quadrant system effectively breaks each team’s season based on home, neutral and away games.
A team like Gonzaga, which was routinely punished by RPI due to playing in the small and weak West Coast Conference, should benefit by the shift to the NET system. RPI and trusted college basketball expert Ken Pomeroy have disagreed quite a bit in previous years. Last year, KenPom had Gonzaga ranked 10th, while RPI ranked Gonzaga 24th.
In addition to the quadrant system, the NCAA also adopted other metrics prior to last season. The Kevin Pauga Index and ESPN’s results-oriented metric, the Strength of Record, were introduced last season. The NCAA also used predictive metrics from analysts Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin in addition to the ESPN Basketball Power Index.
Gavitt added, “The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee has had helpful metrics it has used over the years, and will continue to use team sheets, but those now will 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.”
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