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NCAA ditching RPI, adopting NET for determining March Madness seeding

It’s a small change, on the surface, but it will have a big impact.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Nashville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The NCAA took a step forward today in determining seeding for college basketball’s premier tournament, officially dropping its use of RPI to determine seeding for March Madness. In it’s place, the committee will use the NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET.

RPI, or Ratings Percentage Index, had been a significant factor for the committee in determining seeding since it was adopted in 1981, and while changes had been made over the years, a bigger, more substantial change was needed.

The downfall of RPI is that is was overly simple, relying on strength of schedule and a team’s wins and losses to determine ranking. Meanwhile, NET’s strength is that it pulls data and information from several different categories, and sources, to determine its rankings.

According to the NCAA, NET will include “game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.”

NET will still be just a piece in the larger puzzle for the committee, as the overall bones of the selection process will remain the same.

For instance, the quadrant system that was adopted for the 2017-18 season is still in place, which allows the committee to place wins and losses for a team into four quadrants:

  • Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home 161-351, Neutral 201-351, Away 241-351

The committee will also continue to use “team sheets,” which incorporate other data like rankings from Ken Pomeroy (KenPom), Jeff Sagarin, and ESPN’s Power Index.

This is definitely a step in the right direction for the NCAA, as they begin to understand how deeper analytics can more accurately determine who the best 64 teams in the country truly are. Meanwhile, it’ll also provide more fodder for fanbases to argue why their team is more worthy of others on the bubble. A win win, if you will.

Currently, NET will only be used for men’s basketball, while RPI will continue to be utilized for other sports, including women’s basketball.