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NCAA announces RPI replacement for 2018-19 season

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Get ready for the NET.

NCAA Men’s Final Four - Practice Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Get ready for NET to enter your daily lexicon.

The NCAA announced that the NCAA Evaluation Tool, or “NET,” will replace RPI as its main tool for evaluating teams next season. The new metric was described in a release:

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 release also points out that the date of a given game will not factor into the NET, theoretically removing some recency bias that the Committee may place on late season wins. Additionally, the NET will cap the value placed on winning margin to prevent teams for running up the score when a game has already been decided.

The change comes a year after the introduction of the quadrant system, and the NET will replace the RPI as the basis of the quadrants. The quadrant system is designed in part to place added value on away and neutral wins.

Notably, the NET will also include predictive metrics — such as KenPom and Sagarin — in conjunction with results-based numbers. NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster discussed the importance of these figures working hand in hand.

Predictive metrics are generally based on things like efficiency and are not as impacted by something like a buzzer-beater going in and changing the outcome. Results-based metrics are, obviously, as they change the result of the game even if it shouldn’t impact how good you think either team is.

Why is it important to include both?

Because we want those buzzer-beaters to matter, right? That’s why it’s worth getting so excited when they go in. Winning needs to matter, otherwise there’s no point in playing the game. But losing a nail-biter is not the same as getting whipped by 25. That should matter, too. I’m glad both will be factored in.

Whether the NET will benefit mid-majors like Middle Tennessee will be worth watching. The Blue Raiders finished the year at #30 in the RPI but were eliminated from the CUSA Tournament on a very results-based overtime loss to Southern Miss.