“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.”
Statement by the NCAA after the Men’s Basketball selection committee met in Chicago from July 11 to 13, 2017 regarding selection of teams and seeding guidelines
For far too long, the NCAA valued those schools who were hot in the last ten games they played and would be rewarded with top 5 seeds. A road win in January and February did not carry much weight in-conference, as opposed to a mid-major powerhouse such as when Belmont went on the road a few years back and stunned North Carolina, in Chapel Hill of all places. That did not ultimately help IPFW when they stunned Indiana last December, since that game took place in Fort Wayne.
Things are going to finally change, and hopefully for the mid-majors clamoring for years for fairness–this might be the dawning of a new era.
What the new table will look like going forward hopefully should be more cut and dry than what broadcasters have been trying to decipher for years. At least, for the average fan–the RPI (Rating Percentage Index) may soon be going the same way as Kodak cameras, the Edsel automobile, Handy Andy, Builders Square, and Borders books–once great places to do business but no longer exist.
Effective in November, each school’s games will be divided into four columns.
CBSSports.com detailed it in this fashion in a July 14 online article, according to overall RPI rankings:
- Column 1: Home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral site games vs. top-50 teams, road games against top-75 teams
- Column 2: Home games against teams ranked 31-75, neutral site games vs. 51-100, road games vs. 76-135
- Column 3: Home games against teams ranked 76-160, neutral site games vs. 101-200, road games vs. 136-240
- Column 4: Home games against teams ranked 161-351, neutral site games vs. 201-351, road games vs. 241-351
What this means is that for example, if the 70th-ranked team wins on the road–that game will carry just as much weight as beating a top 25 team at home. This could lead to a major boon for more at-large bids, and better seeds for smaller mid-major programs.
One NCAA source close to the meeting mentioned in the article about Monmouth when they barely missed out in 2015. You might recall, they lost a few games with lesser teams ranked in the 200s on the road. Even though they had some quality wins against Power 5 teams over Notre Dame and USC, it did not carry enough weight for them to merit an NCAA bid. Those games will be penciled in red under the third column and not the fourth if those losses occur at home instead of on the road.
Expect also KenPom.com’s offensive and defensive efficiency rankings to be tweaked with their intricate software just in time for the new season.
Come 2018-2019, a new method of modern metrics could be introduced to possibly replace the RPI. Created in 1981-82, it is one of the key metrics used to build data sheets for teams that have similar rankings and ultimately those numbers are crunched to make up the seeds for each of the four regions. During the 2017 Tournament, teams like Kansas State and Wake Forest had enough of a strong schedule to be part of the last four teams selected in the 68 team field. Schools like Illinois State and Syracuse were sent to the NIT since they did not have that one quality win on the road that the Selection Committee often covets.
Look for the NCAA to possibly run some type of a composite ranking system, plus the thinking is that they might establish an independent but separate and unique formula next season as a test run of sorts. Their goal is to see how this type of composite metric can be better utilized and how the new individual ranking system performs vs. other established metrics before signing off on a total overhaul of the RPI as we know it.
It is best then to close out this interesting blog with two thoughts.
First, here is what Senior Vice President of NCAA Basketball Dan Gavitt mentioned right after the meeting concluded last month:
“The bottom line is we recognize the need to continue using more modern metrics and the need to make those more front and center in the sorting of data for the selection and seeding process. However, it’s also critical to have a long-term solution that is tested in real time, so we can roll something out that we have complete confidence in, is mathematically sound and is acceptable in every stakeholder’s eyes.”
Finally, Note To Self:
Just in case if any eager fans wish to comment about any school “on the bubble” in either January or February, please forward a link to this blog to avoid any and all future confusion.