North Carolina State's C.J. Bryce (Ben McKeown/Associated Press)

We don’t yet know the formula for the NCAA Evaluation Tool, which was implemented this season to replace the much-maligned, easily gamed Rating Percentage Index for helping to select and seed the men’s basketball tournament. But thanks to CBSSports.com’s maintenance of the RPI formula, one thing is for sure: N.C. State ought to be grateful for the swap.

The Wolfpack (17-7, 5-6 ACC) entered Monday at No. 35 in the NET rankings, a figure not that far out of line with other formulas such as the Sagarin ratings (No. 31) and KenPom.com (No. 39). By the numbers, N.C. State looks like a No. 8, No. 9 or No. 10 seed. Basically, a perfectly sound mid-bracket team.

If this was last year — well, that’s a different story. The Wolfpack checks in at No. 112 in the RPI, a full 77 spots below its NET ranking.

Kevin Keatts’s team isn’t alone. A whopping 13 top-75 teams in the NET are enjoying bounces of at least 15 spots, including programs piling up losses at a rapid clip but still hanging around the postseason discussion. Think Nebraska, Florida and Indiana.

Why is that? The NET is supposed to take into account margin of victory (capped at 10 points per game) and offensive and defensive efficiency. Of course, if the offensive and defensive efficiency aren’t capped, it could reward teams who pile up lopsided victories even against poor competition.

Enter N.C. State, which blasted No. 285 Loyola (by 33), No. 291 Western Carolina (also by 33), No. 321 Saint Peter’s (by 28), No. 322 Maine (by 19), No. 329 Mount St. Mary’s (by 50), No. 338 USC Upstate (by 27), No. 352 UNC Asheville (by 51) and No. 353 Maryland-Eastern Shore (by 46).

That a whole lot of efficiency against what the NET pegs the worst of the nation’s 353 nonconference schedules. And it’s the most sensible explanation for why a team with just one Quadrant 1 victory (at home against Auburn) is in reasonably good shape to snag an at-large with a little more than a month left before Selection Sunday.

NET gains

Team NET RPI Diff.
N.C. State 35 112 +77
Nebraska 40 109 +69
Liberty 61 123 +62
Northwestern 71 127 +56
Florida 41 72 +31
Fresno State 76 101 +25
Lipscomb 30 53 +23
Baylor 34 57 +23
Indiana 47 70 +23
Murray State 64 87 +23
South Florida 67 90 +23
Virginia Tech 14 29 +15
Saint Mary’s 50 65 +15

While there isn’t a serious at-large candidate — or, perhaps more accurately, would-be at-large candidate — taking a hit as significant as the bump N.C. State is enjoying, there are a few teams that would probably fare better under the previous system. Among them: Arizona State, Davidson, Temple and VCU.

NET losses

Team NET RPI Diff.
Princeton 161 71 -90
Georgia State 134 56 -78
Drake 139 74 -65
Georgia Southern 131 68 -63
Western Kentucky 120 74 -46
San Diego 100 59 -41
Yale 63 35 -28
Davidson 69 44 -25
Temple 55 32 -23
Toledo 54 36 -18
Arizona State 72 54 -18
Tulsa 81 63 -18
Kansas 18 1 -17
New Mexico State 59 42 -17
VCU 44 28 -16
Kansas State 28 13 -15
Belmont 60 45 -15

It’s difficult to perform too deep a dive without knowing the exact calculations — something that was far easier with the RPI, which was 25 percent winning percentage, 50 percent opponents’ winning percentage and 25 percent opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.

This much, though, is clear: If there’s a way to exploit a vulnerability in a metric (wittingly or not), somebody probably will. In N.C. State’s case, the NCAA’s change is definitely a NET plus.

Field notes

Last four included: Indiana, Seton Hall, Butler, Central Florida

First four on the outside: Nebraska, Florida, Utah State, Temple

Next four on the outside: Arkansas, Furman, Creighton, Providence

Moving in: Butler, Clemson, Quinnipiac, Seton Hall, Texas State, VCU, Yale

Moving out: Bowling Green, Davidson, Florida, Georgia State, Nebraska, Princeton, Rider

Conference call: Big Ten (9), ACC (9), Big 12 (8), SEC (7), Big East (5), American Athletic (3), Pac-12 (2)

Bracket projection

East Region vs. West, South vs. Midwest

East Region

Columbia, S.C.

(1) ACC/Duke vs. winner of (16) MID-EASTERN/Norfolk State vs. SOUTHWESTERN/Prairie View

(8) Baylor vs. (9) Ohio State

San Jose

(5) LSU vs. (12) OHIO VALLEY/Belmont

(4) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada vs. (13) COLONIAL/Hofstra

Tulsa

(3) Kansas vs. (14) AMERICA EAST/Vermont

(6) Virginia Tech vs. (11) Butler-Central Florida winner

Des Moines

(7) Cincinnati vs. (10) ATLANTIC 10/VCU

(2) Michigan State vs. (15) MISSOURI VALLEY/Loyola Chicago

Duke was the No. 1 overall seed in the selection committee’s first preview of the top 16 seeds released on Saturday, and winning at Virginia doesn’t change that a bit. … Hofstra slips a line in part because Buffalo reclaimed the lead in the Mid-American Conference, knocking Bowling Green — a No. 14 seed in last week’s projection — out of the field. That had a domino effect throughout the field, with the Pride one of the teams taking a step back through no fault of its own. …

By the numbers, Central Florida still isn’t ahead of a Nebraska team in the midst of a free fall. But the decision for the final spot in the field came down to the season-ending injury Cornhuskers forward Isaac Copeland suffered and Nebraska’s inability (to date) to win without him. … Cincinnati vs. VCU might be a first-to-40-wins sort of game.

South Region

Columbia, S.C.

(1) SEC/Tennessee vs. (16) PATRIOT/Bucknell

(8) TCU vs. (9) N.C. State

Salt Lake City

(5) BIG EAST/Villanova vs. (12) Minnesota

(4) Iowa State vs. (13) CONFERENCE USA/Old Dominion

Des Moines

(3) Purdue vs. (14) SUMMIT/South Dakota State

(6) Mississippi State vs. (11) Oklahoma

Jacksonville, Fla.

(7) Iowa vs. (10) Arizona State

(2) North Carolina vs. (15) SUN BELT/Texas State

Plenty of sites shifted this week. Tennessee, now No. 2 overall on the board, snags the second spot in Columbia and sends Virginia packing for New England. … Human rankings don’t matter, but here’s a stat worth noting: TCU’s victory at Iowa State was its first road defeat of a ranked team since 1998. At the very least, it solves the Horned Frogs’ “haven’t beaten anyone of note on the road” problem. …

Villanova wasn’t in the committee’s top 16 heading into the weekend, so it’s hard to make a case for the Wildcats to be much better than a No. 5 seed after losing a one-point game at Marquette. … Arizona State isn’t getting much help from any metrics, but the committee sure does love high-end victories. The Sun Devils (3-1 against Quadrant 1 and 4-3 against Quadrant 2) are shaping up to be an interesting test case. … Oklahoma didn’t build up nearly the same profile this year as it did a year ago, when it lost 10 of its last 14 and still earned an at-large bid. The Sooners need a turnaround, and in a hurry.

West Region

Salt Lake City

(1) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. (16) SOUTHLAND/Sam Houston State

(8) PAC-12/Washington vs. (9) Syracuse

Jacksonville, Fla.

(5) Texas Tech vs. (12) ATLANTIC SUN/Lipscomb

(4) Louisville vs. (13) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State

Hartford, Conn.

(3) Marquette vs. (14) BIG WEST/UC Irvine

(6) Florida State vs. (11) Indiana-Seton Hall winner

Columbus, Ohio

(7) Auburn vs. (10) Texas

(2) BIG TEN/Michigan vs. (15) HORIZON/Northern Kentucky

If Washington vs. Syracuse popped up as a pairing, it would be a field day for committee conspiracy theorists. Huskies Coach Mike Hopkins played for the Orange and was a longtime assistant under Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. … If there was a team that was a mild surprise not to see on the No. 4 line Saturday, it was Texas Tech. The Red Raiders aren’t far off. …

Indiana is 13-11 and, yes, still in the field. But teams still have to finish with a .500 or better record to be eligible, and that’s far from a sure thing for the Hoosiers. … Florida State is rising fast, having won five in a row. The Seminoles will look to tread water this week with Wake Forest and Georgia Tech up next. … Not sure exactly what Auburn’s ceiling will be without a Quadrant 1 victory, but a No. 7 seed is a reasonable guess.

Midwest region

Hartford, Conn.

(1) Virginia vs. winner of (16) METRO ATLANTIC/Quinnipiac vs. NORTHEAST/Robert Morris

(8) Mississippi vs. (9) St. John’s

San Jose

(5) BIG 12/Kansas State vs. (12) SOUTHERN/Wofford

(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) IVY/Yale

Tulsa

(3) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Houston vs. (14) BIG SOUTH/Radford

(6) Maryland vs. (11) Alabama

Columbus, Ohio

(7) MID-AMERICAN/Buffalo vs. (10) Clemson

(2) Kentucky vs. (15) BIG SKY/Montana

Kansas State has won eight consecutive Big 12 games and is two games up in the loss column on a four-team pack behind it. The Wildcats haven’t won an outright regular season conference title since 1977, when they were in the Big Eight. … Houston was slotted as a No. 3 seed by the committee, an interesting and welcome placement two lines above the projection in this space last week. Duly noted. …

Clemson has done precisely what it should have done, taking advantage of a relatively soft spot in the ACC schedule and then picking off an undermanned Virginia Tech team at home. The Tigers bypass the play-in games and vault into the main field this week. … If Kentucky can remain ahead of at least one of Michigan and Michigan State, it will end up spending the first weekend in Columbus. If the Wildcats can leapfrog Tennessee and Virginia on the No. 1 line, they’ll be looking at playing in a regional in Louisville.

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