Explaining the Value of NCAA’s NET Rankings in Men’s College Basketball

Matt Hanifan dives into what the NET Rankings are for NCAA men’s basketball, along with its four quadrant rankings and where the Nevada Wolf Pack currently rank within the Mountain West Conference. These will be important for who gets selected into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday March 14th.

What are NET Rankings?

The NCAA Evaluation Tool rankings, also known as NET Rankings, were first implemented prior to the 2018–19 season for men’s college basketball. It replaced the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) as the primary selection tool for the seeding process for the NCAA’s men’s March Madness tournament.

The previous RPI system ranked teams based on the team’s winning percentage, the average opponent’s winning percentage and the winning percentage of the opposition’s previous opposition.

The NET rankings are composed of two components: Team Value Index and the team’s NET efficiency. Per the NCAA, the Team Value Index is “the results-oriented component of the NET, ranking more highly those teams that played and beat other good teams, factoring in opponent, location of the game and winner.” The NET Efficiency, on the other hand, is the difference of points scored and allowed per 100 possession — adjusted for the strength of the opponent and the location of the game.

The March Madness Twitter page displays a graphic that explains its NET Ranking system prior to the 2018–19 season.

The Quadrant System:

A part of the NET Rankings is the quadrant system, a tier system that teams fluctuate within based on the game results between each program in the NET rankings throughout the season. There are four NCAA Quadrant tiers among the 350-plus different Division-I men’s basketball programs.

Generally, a team will surge up more spots within the NET rankings if they beat a Quad 1 opponent at home compared to a Quad 2 opponent on the road.

Here are the four tiers:

  • If a team is ranked in slots №1–30 at home, 1–50 in a neutral site and №1–75 on the road, then they are considered a Quad 1 opponent.
  • Quad 2: 31–75 home, 51–100 neutral, 76–150 away
  • Quad 3: 76–150 home, 101–200 neutral, 146–240 away
  • Quad 4: 161 or worse at home, 201 or worse in neutral, 241 or worse away
Nevada barely loses to San Diego State 65–60 on Jan. 7 at Viejas Arena in San Diego.

Where does Nevada rank?

The Nevada men’s basketball team is 14–9 — including 9–7 in Mountain West play — during its truncated 2020–21 season.

It got swept in its most recent two-game series versus the Utah State Aggies, who, in this circumstance, qualified as a Quad 1 opponent.

Nevada is 3–4 in contests against Quad 1 or 2 opponents this season. Two of its wins came against Mountain West foe Boise State on Feb. 5–7. It is one of five teams in the conference with multiple Quad 1 or 2 victories.

The Pack rank №107 in the NET Rankings, the fifth-best in the Mountain West. The top team in the Mountain West in NET Rankings is the San Diego State Aztecs, who rank №18. Here linked is the full NET Rankings among the 11 Mountain West squads below (as of March 2, 2021).

Nevada gets one more opportunity at a Quad 2 opponent at home in its regular season finale against Colorado State on March 5th. The Mountain West Tournament begins March 10th.

Explainer Journalism by Matt Hanifan for the Reynolds Sandbox



The Reynolds Sandbox showcases innovative and engaging storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab.

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Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.