Ohio State Opens The Season Ranked No. 1 In First-Ever NET Rankings

By Colin Hass-Hill on November 26, 2018 at 12:38 pm
Chris Holtmann

Ohio State has continued to rise in the AP top-25 poll and jumped to No. 16 on Monday afternoon.

In the first-ever NET rankings released later that day by the NCAA, the Buckeyes learned they have no ability to rise. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the NET rankings, which were created to replace the RPI rankings. Three other Big Ten teams were ranked in the top eight. 

An explainer of NET rankings from NCAA.com:

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 NET was built to create a ranking system that was as accurate as possible while also evaluating team performance fairly. To ensure fairness, certain types of data were omitted from the model. Of key importance, game date and order were omitted to give equal importance to both early and late-season games. 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.

“What has been developed is a contemporary method of looking at teams analytically, using results-based and predictive metrics that will assist the Men’s Basketball Committee as it reviews games throughout the season,” said Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA. “While no perfect rankings exist, using the results of past tournaments will help ensure that the rankings are built on an objective source of truth.”

The new rankings system was approved in July after "months of consultation with the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, top basketball analytics experts and Google Cloud Professional Services," per NCAA.com. The RPI was used from 1981 to 2018, but will not be used any longer.

Instead, the NET rankings, which looked favorably at Ohio State's start to the season, will be used.

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