The NCAA will change how it views quality wins for the upcoming 2017-2018 basketball season. The move is minor, but it will likely have scheduling ramifications going forward. The NCAA will now place more emphasis on winning road contests, rather than simply counting a win in a certain block (Top 50, 51-100, etc).
For the past several years, team sheets have divided results into four columns: results against the top 50 teams in the NCAA’s Rating Percentage Index; 51-100; 101-200; and any team ranked 201 or lower. Effective with the 2017-18 season, team sheets will place greater emphasis on where the games are played rather than the ranking of each opponent.
The NCAA will also change those columns. The first group will now be 1-30, neutral site games vs. top 50 opponents as well as road games against a top 75 opponent. This will offer a greater reward to teams that can win on the road, while not punishing you as badly for a loss on the road.
Tennessee will start their season with the Battle 4 Atlantis (after a couple of fairly easy home games), which is going to provide the Volunteers with several top notch neutral site opponents. Villanova, Arizona, Purdue, SMU, NC State, Western Kentucky and Northern Iowa are the possible opponents.
Their first true road test will come in the form of Georgia Tech on December 3rd. They’ll get a similar test at Wake Forest on December 23rd. The biggest non-conference road game will obviously come later on the schedule at Iowa State.
Tennessee will have the benefit of playing at Kentucky, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Missouri this year in SEC play. Coming away with a few of those games in the win column will now go a long way towards getting the Volunteers back in the big dance. I think this benefits Tennessee with their willingness to play virtually anyone anywhere.
The release also noted that more changes will be coming in the next couple of years. The idea is to use more of a metrics approach to get the best tournament field possible.