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The RPI is finally dead

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Welcome to the world wide NET.

The NCAA has finally announced that the RPI, the primary sorting tool for evaluating teams during the season, will no longer be in use this year. In its place, the NCAA has introduced the NCAA Evaluation Tool, also known as the NET.

The NET was approved in July, and is a more predicative model of ranking that relies upon game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. In addition, it caps the score at 10 points in winning margins, so running up the score will mean zero to none.

On its face, the NET appears to be both predicative and results based, which appears to be the right idea going forward.

For Selection Sunday, the NCAA will still use the quadrant system, now for the second-year, only NET will replace the RPI as the guiding metric. As a quick reminder, the quadrant system lumped a bunch of games into more digestible chunks for a team’s overall portfolio.

  • 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

For a team like Gonzaga, moving to anything but the RPI is a good thing. Gonzaga, by nature of being in the smaller West Coast Conference, was generally dragged down by the RPI.

Here are the splits between the RPI and Ken Pomeroy’s rankings for a quick tutorial:

  • 2018: RPI 24, KenPom 10
  • 2017: RPI 8, KenPom 1
  • 2016: RPI 46, KenPom 21
  • 2015: RPI 8, KenPom 7

The splits some year were not that significant, and other years, they were remarkably significant. Last season, the NCAA introduced the quadrant system in an effort to get away from the RPI, which was impossible since the quadrant system relied upon the RPI for its data in the first place. For the Zags, that was on full display last year.

It will be interesting to see how the NET will differ from other predicative models such as ESPN’s BPI and Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The NCAA is still planning on using those two metrics alongside Jeff Sagarin’s rankings on the team sheets come Selection Sunday. This year, perhaps, for the first time, we will all be able to predict our own brackets, thanks to the reliance (on what appears to be) a more useful metric.