RPI, the long-bemoaned metric used to determine who’s in and who’s out of the NCAA tournament for the past 37 years, is dead.
The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), which will boldly contain an initialism within an acronym, will serve as the selection committee’s new standard metric, the organization announced today. The main differences between the two are fairly easy to follow: Whereas RPI relied on throwing together winning percentages, NET will make use of “game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.”
The big change is the inclusion of efficiency ratings (which is good!) and the NCAA’s attempts to “ensure fairness” by putting a cap of 10 points on all winning margins. The caps are meant to discourage the blue bloods from running up the score on the cupcake non-conference games they pay tiny schools hundreds of thousands of dollars for, as well as any blowouts they find themselves in during conference play. Tough luck for Georgetown.
Realistically, though, this won’t change that much. The NCAA Tournament seeding process inherently screws mid-majors come Selection Sunday, mainly because Power Six teams have a scheduling cartel that ensures their RPI—now NET—will be higher and thus grant them access to the lion’s share of the profit from the billion-dollar tournament.
NET won’t really change how fans act when the bracket’s announced, either. Like RPI, it will be dissected and criticized the moment it’s put into use. It’ll be slammed for being unfair to such-and-such Power Six program when they’re inevitably left out of the tournament. The forums will spill over with posts about how ineffective this new metric is and call for the return of RPI. It will be beautiful and mad and just like it always was, only with extra numbers this time.