RPI is no more — at least for men’s basketball.
The NCAA announced a new ranking system to replace RPI, which had been used since 1981 by the Men’s Basketball Committee to determine at-large teams and seeding for the NCAA Tournament.
The new system will be called the NCAA Evaluation Tool — NET for short. Here’s how the NCAA described the metric.
The NCAA Evaluation Tool, which will be known as the NET, relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. To make sense of team performance data, late-season games (including from the NCAA tournament) were used as test sets to develop a ranking model leveraging machine learning techniques. The model, which used team performance data to predict the outcome of games in test sets, was optimized until it was as accurate as possible. The resulting model is the one that will be used as the NET going forward.
The biggest change here seems to be the use of margin of victory. Will that change how games are played? Will teams be running up the scores late? Don’t count on it. The NCAA has put a cap on the margin to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In addition, a cap of 10 points was applied to the winning margin to prevent rankings from encouraging unsportsmanlike play, such as needlessly running up the score in a game where the outcome was certain.
This is the second significant change to the College Basketball rankings system in as many years. The committee introduced the quadrant system last year, which allowed for wins to be more easily defined.