Louisville basketball: How Cards are impacted by new NET rankings

The NCAA has made significant changes to its NET rankings. Here’s how it could impact Louisville basketball.

After a season where its fairly new system showed that it may have some flaws, the NCAA made some changes to its new NET formula. For Louisville basketball fans, the NET rankings have pretty much been spot on where the Cards sit among other metrics. However, schools like BYU, Kentucky, and Virginia were notable outliers in a season where the rankings pegged teams much higher or lower than they likely should have been.

After only two seasons of its original approach, the NCAA decided to change course slightly with the NET.

“The NET will now use just two factors in its evaluation: team value index (TVI) and adjusted net efficiency rating. Team value index is “a result-based feature that rewards teams for beating quality opponents, particularly away from home,” while adjusted net efficiency rating accounts for “strength of opponent and location across all games played.”

Outside of TVI and adjusted net efficiency, everything else from prior years is out the window. No more win percentage and adjusted win percentage, and no more capped scoring margin. A five-pronged system over its first two years, the NET has become “simplified” to just two.

NCAA Vice President of men’s basketball Dan Gavitt says he is pleased with the new and improved model.

“While we will continue to monitor the metric, I don’t anticipate any additional adjustments for several years,” Gavitt said. “We believe this change will result in more precision throughout the season and will be easier for our membership and the public to understand.”

While this new system may result in more precision, the public is still going to be largely blind to how that is. Unlike systems like RPI, ESPN’s BPI, or KenPom.com, the NCAA is not transparent about the way these numbers are calculated. Instead, we are left to sort of guess on TVI and adjusted net efficiency.

What one can extrapolate is what the NET rankings will value less beginning in 2020. By ridding the system of a “capped” scoring margin where teams don’t move up by clobbering opponents any more than they would via a comfortable win, one could conclude that margin of victory could be taken into effect at least a little bit more.

Additionally, while the NCAA is nixing the adjusted win percentage, according to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports, fans should still expect to take strength of schedule into account. Here’s what the NCAA had to say about SOS and how it will be used going forward.

“The strength of schedule is based on rating every game on a team’s schedule for how hard it would be for an NCAA Tournament-caliber team to win. It considers opponent strength and site of each game, assigning each game a difficulty score. Aggregating these across all games results in an overall expected win percentage versus a team’s schedule, which can be ranked to get a better measure of the strength of schedule.”

As Palm points out, “tournament-caliber team” is a pretty open-ended analysis, and going into things blindly as outsiders, the average fan really has no way of knowing what that would entail.

Like everything the NCAA does these days, common sense and transparency seem to take a back seat to the almighty dollar, which means that the big-name teams are those that are most likely to benefit from these changes.

What does this mean for Louisville?

At the end of the day, this likely only serves as a positive for Louisville and the ACC as a whole. Year over year, the ACC rates as one of the more difficult conferences, and given that the new NET rules will likely heavily weigh strength of schedule, the Cardinals should almost always be in good standing. Louisville is not afraid to schedule some tough games in the non-conference, and knowing that will only benefit its resume moving forward, fans should hope that the school continues to frontload some fun non-con opponents.

Louisville should also benefit from the fact that the scoring margin will not be capped anymore. Chris Mack has spent the bulk of his first two seasons keeping his main rotation players on the floor longer than his predecessor. Although Mack seems to lean more towards giving his starters and key bench players as much run as possible, he could be apt to run up the score a bit more in the early going.

Lastly, Louisville should benefit from the fact that the quadrant system is still in place. Though the way that the quality of wins is decided may differ, the fact that the Cardinals have traditionally been a strong road team should only stand to benefit them. A road win against a top 75 team is a big-time resume booster in the eyes of the NET.

Overall, the changes could potentially be major for non-power five teams as the load lightens ever so slightly for the blue bloods of college basketball.

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