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.
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.
|New Mexico State||59||42||-17|
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.
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)
East Region vs. West, South vs. Midwest
(1) ACC/Duke vs. winner of (16) MID-EASTERN/Norfolk State vs. SOUTHWESTERN/Prairie View
(8) Baylor vs. (9) Ohio State
(5) LSU vs. (12) OHIO VALLEY/Belmont
(4) MOUNTAIN WEST/Nevada vs. (13) COLONIAL/Hofstra
(3) Kansas vs. (14) AMERICA EAST/Vermont
(6) Virginia Tech vs. (11) Butler-Central Florida winner
(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.
(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
(3) Purdue vs. (14) SUMMIT/South Dakota State
(6) Mississippi State vs. (11) Oklahoma
(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.
Salt Lake City
(1) WEST COAST/Gonzaga vs. (16) SOUTHLAND/Sam Houston State
(8) PAC-12/Washington vs. (9) Syracuse
(5) Texas Tech vs. (12) ATLANTIC SUN/Lipscomb
(4) Louisville vs. (13) WESTERN ATHLETIC/New Mexico State
(3) Marquette vs. (14) BIG WEST/UC Irvine
(6) Florida State vs. (11) Indiana-Seton Hall winner
(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.
(1) Virginia vs. winner of (16) METRO ATLANTIC/Quinnipiac vs. NORTHEAST/Robert Morris
(8) Mississippi vs. (9) St. John’s
(5) BIG 12/Kansas State vs. (12) SOUTHERN/Wofford
(4) Wisconsin vs. (13) IVY/Yale
(3) AMERICAN ATHLETIC/Houston vs. (14) BIG SOUTH/Radford
(6) Maryland vs. (11) Alabama
(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.