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Stats Corner: Ripping Down the NET

Using the NCAA NET rankings to determine the MWC post-season teams

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Nashville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Let’s get this addressed up front, MWC Connection had a t-shirt made that says “To make everything 100% clear, yes we are biased against your team” So yes, I am bias against all of the 5 teams listed below, plus the 6 teams we covered last week. Now that we have sorted that out, last week we looked at the NET rankings for the bottom six schools in the conference. This week, we are looking at the top 5 schools and how their post-seasons may look, using the NET “suggestion” to the committee. Remember the NET rankings are a “suggestion” or a tool to help, which explains why Alabama (NET 54), Indiana (NET 55), and Seton Hall (NET 63) are all considered in, but Creighton (NET 50) and Murray St (NET 52) are classified as bubble teams. If you need a refresher on the NET rankings or the 4 Quadrants click the link. Also, the NET rankings are as of March 2nd, click here to view all 353 NET sheets.

For most of the season, the Mountain West was considered a 1 bid league (Nevada). Recently though, they are considered a 2 bid league (Nevada and Utah State). I don’t think they are a 3 bid league, therefore if Utah State wants to get in, and they don’t win the tournament title, they need Nevada to win. I think if Fresno or San Diego wins the tournament, Nevada gets in, Utah State may be left home. Not fair, but I don’t see Nevada getting left out, and the NCAA committee letting three Mountain West schools in.


NET Ranking 23. Average NET Win 152. Average Net Loss 110. Efficiency Margin +19.82 (24th in country)

Win Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 26-3 8-3 105

Non-Conference 13-0 3-0 71

Q1 1-1

Q2 7-1

Q3 9-1

Q4 9-0

Nevada has been ranked all year and is still the highest ranked team in the conference. They are also a lock for the tournament. The question is their seed. The problem is their Q1 record, or lack of it. Ironically, Nevada did not have a Q1 victory until they lost to Utah State and the Aggies rose in the rankings, so if they had won they would also have lost their only Q1 victory (seems like a messed-up system). The loses to New Mexico and San Diego hurt, at least the loss to New Mexico was capped at 10 points. The best case for Nevada is to win out and, paradoxically, hope that Utah State wins out as well. Their best seeding will come from a rematch against Utah State in the conference title for another Q1 game, even if all three Q1 games are against the same school.

NET “Suggested” seeding: 6th. If they win out, play Utah State in the finals, they will rise in the rankings and mostly deserve 5th seed perhaps a 4th, but I do not think the committee will take the NET suggestion and will stick Nevada with a 6th seed.

Utah State

NET Ranking 30. Average NET Win 197. Average Net Loss 65. Efficiency Margin +16.02 (38th in country)

Win Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 23-6 8-4 99

Non-Conference 9-3 2-2 21

Q1 2-2

Q2 2-3

Q3 7-1

Q4 12-0

Utah State and Nevada may have some bad blood between them (sorry Justin Bean), but each need the other to win out to help themselves, yes it is better for selection if Utah State shares the conference title then wins it outright. The away loss to Nevada hurts, but thanks to NET rules, it only goes down as a 10-point loss, which is the same as the Houston loss. Saint Mary’s is a good win on a neutral court. The BYU loss looks better now than it did at the time, also capped at 10 points. However, Arizona St loss at the time was not bad, but it has slid down the rankings since it happened. A victory at Colorado State clinches at least a share of the regular season title, but ask San Diego State if that means a ticket to the tournament (spoiler alert: no, it does not). Probably needs to make the tournament final against Nevada to punch at large bid, otherwise need to win the tournament for automatic bid if Nevada losses.

NET “Suggested” seeding: 8th, probably will get 10th or 11th. Seeding never go well for USU, the 2004 team ranked top 25 and was left home. Argument has been teams need to be successful to earn higher seeding, but how do you become successful when seeded lower than you deserved, it’s a catch 22.

Fresno State

NET Ranking 89. Average NET Win 209. Average Net Loss 91. Efficiency Margin +9.56 (70th in Country)

Win Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 19-8 63 225

Non-Conference 8-3 0-1 304

Q1 1-4

Q2 1-1

Q3 5-2

Q4 12-1

If you are going to make the tournament, you have to play more than one conference road game, and you had better win it. Fresno did play three games on a neutral court, but they had way too many home games against Q4 opponents, even if one is a PAC 12 foe (Cal NET 247). Fresno does get bonus points for beating Utah State on the road, and the home game was another close game. However, there just is not enough there to go dancing unless they win the tournament. Given that the USU games were both 1 point and Nevada was close as well, that is a possibility.

NET “Suggestion”: Must get automatic bid to get, might get NIT bid.

San Diego State

NET Ranking 125. Average NET Win 200. Average Net Loss 120. Efficiency Margin +4.04 (130th in Country)

Win Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 18-10 4-6 155

Non-Conference 7-5 1-1 122

Q1 2-3

Q2 1-1

Q3 6-5

Q4 9-1

Why can Cal with a NET ranking of 247 beat multiple Mountain West Teams? Especially, the team that beat BOTH Nevada and Utah State. San Diego State has some other good wins, think Xavier (NET 70), and the road loss to Fresno is not bad, but home losses to BYU (NET 77), San Diego (NET 108), and Brown (NET 149) are going to keep them out of the NCAA tournament, unless beat both Nevada and Utah State again to earn an automatic. The Duke and Iowa St losses were bad, but remember the 10-point rule (so many schools getting help from that rule, it probably needs to be changed).

NET “Suggestion”: Must get automatic bid to get in, might get NIT bid as they are playing well lately. Would need to do better than Fresno, as NIT is probably not taking both. Thinking CTI or CBI.

Boise State

NET Ranking 154. Average NET Win 263. Average Net Loss 118. Efficiency Margin +1.79 (145th in Country)

Win Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 10-18 3-9 144

Non-Conference 4-8 0-4 176

Q1 0-5

Q2 0-5

Q3 3-6

Q4 7-2

Boise State is a tough one to figure out. The record is bad, but five of the Q1 and Q2 losses were by single digits (Nevada 1, Grand Canyon 2, Fresno 2), and they do get a boast for taking Utah State to overtime. If they had lost in regulation it counts as -1.4, but overtime losses automatically count as -1.0, regardless of score. However, losing 18 games is not good, even if you are ranked higher than 19 -11 Bucknell and 19-10 Lehigh.

NET “Suggestion”: Must get automatic bid to get in. Most likely staying home.

The NET says 4 teams from the Mountain West going to post-season tournaments, two to the NCAA, one to NIT, and one to either CBI or CIT. All four schools have the chance to make some noise as Nevada went to sweet sixteen last year (knocking off 2nd seed Cincinnati) and there only lost by 1, Utah State could score a first round win, and Fresno and San Diego can do well in the lesser tournaments. Now the other seven teams in the conference need to rise up, so that during conference games there are no more Q4 rankings but rather Q3 and Q2 rankings.