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Stats Corner: NET Ranked Higher than Last Season

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Looking at the NET ranking for the bottom 6 MWC Basketball Teams

UNLV v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Last time on Stats Corner, I attempted to explain the NET Ranking the NCAA is using to offer suggestions, as an “organizational piece” (NCAA official website quote), to help the committee decide who gets into the tournament. This week we are going to look at the NET ranking (as of January 15th) for the bottom 6 teams in the Mountain West and next time, we cover the top five teams and look at their post season chances. Quick review at the five influential items: Team Value Index, Team Efficiency, Scoring Margin (maxed out at 10 points), Wins, and Road vs. Home venues. Also, only games against Division 1 teams count towards the NET ranking.

The NCAA has created team sheets for each team. These contain all the information used to create the rankings. Remember there is not an algorithm, meaning there no formula for humans to recreate the rankings; the predictive-learning model does it. The team sheet divides the games into 4 quadrants for rankings. Quadrant 1 is the top opponents. If the team is playing at home, opponents who are ranked 1-30 are included, neutral courts are 1-50, and away from home includes 1-75. For quadrant 2 it is home 31-75, neutral 51-100, and away 76-135. Quadrant 3 is home 76-160, neutral 101-200, and away 136-240. Quadrant 4 is the easiest opponents and home over 161, neutral over 201, and away is over 241.

Last year, the bottom half of the conference was pathetic. Chris Murray wrote a piece calling that season the “Worst the Mountain West has ever been.” Unfortunately, he was not wrong. Fortunately, that was last season, and this season the conference is much better. At this point last season, the bottom six teams and their NET rankings were San Jose State 339, Wyoming 326, Air Force 240, Colorado State 191, New Mexico 171, and UNLV 160. This season the bottom six teams are Wyoming 291, San Jose State 245, Air Force 175, Fresno State 171, UNLV 159, and Colorado State 125. A NET ranking of 125 last year would have been 4th in the conference as San Diego State was ranked 125th, whereas this year it is middle of the pack. This season no school is ranked in the 300s and even the lowest ranked school in the conference has improved their rankings by 35 spots, San Jose State up by 94, and Air Force increasing their ranking by 65 spots. This plays well for a conference trying to get multiple bids to the dance and the highest seeding possible. San Diego State started the rankings as number 1, but have slipped to number 3 due to strength of schedule. The Aztecs are going to continue to slide a little, but having a conference ranked above average will help limit the damage. Last year the Mountain West was ranked 15th, this year it is currently 10th, just .003 RPI rankings behind the WCC.

Colorado State

NET Ranking 125. Average NET Win 205 Average Net Loss 81.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 10-7 2-3 70

Non-Conference 8-4 1-1 49

Q1 0-3

Q2 0-2

Q3 4-1

Q4 6-1

Colorado State only has 2 bad loses, and their Q4 lose was by 2 points, unfortunately it was at home. Their problem is lack of quality wins, and their lack of future options. Not only were 3 of their Q1 and Q2 losses by more than 10 points, their only Q1 game left is at San Diego State and the only Q2 game is at Utah State. While the Rams should win the majority of their remaining games, the lack of quality wins is going to hurt their rankings and prevent them from moving up.

UNLV

NET Ranking 159. Average NET Win 221 Average Net Loss 109.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 9-9 2-4 186

Non-Conference 5-8 0-3 169

Q1 0-2

Q2 0-1

Q3 2-6

Q4 7-0

UNLV is perfect in Q4, which will lead to a nice ranking, but it won’t be high enough to do much in the postseason. Several close games in the Q3 realm, but not good enough to improve their rankings. The Rebels have 7 Q3 and Q4 games, 6 of which are at home. They should be able to win most, if not all, of those games. The interesting part is the 6 remaining Q1 and Q2 games, 5 of which are away. If they can win the majority of those games, their NET ranking will increase, lose and they will stay in the middle.

Fresno State

NET Ranking 171. Average NET Win 260 Average Net Loss 112.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 4-12 1-7 75

Non-Conference 3-7 1-4 255

Q1 0-4

Q2 0-2

Q3 0-4

Q4 4-2

Strange that a team can go 0-10 in Q1, Q2, and Q3, but be ranked ahead of a team 2-7 in those same quadrants (see the next team on the list). But there is value in having played more Q1 teams and keeping it within 10 points. Not sure if it is good news for the Bulldogs, but they have no more Q1 games and only 2 Q2 games. While it does make it difficult to move up in the rankings, the number of lower quadrant games should allow them to win several more games and move up. However, any stumble will cost them in the rankings.

Air Force

NET Ranking 175. Average NET Win 242 Average Net Loss 131.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 7-9 3-3 157

Non-Conference 5-6 2-1 239

Q1 0-2

Q2 0-2

Q3 2-3

Q4 5-2

The Falcons are your typical average team. Beating for the most part teams they should and losing to teams they should. With 4 games in each of Q2, Q3, and Q4 gives Air Force lots of chances to raise up or stay mediocre. The games against Boise State and Colorado State that are away are considered Q2, but the home games are Q3 based on the NET system. Also Fresno State away is Q3, but home they are Q4.

San Jose State

NET Ranking 245. Average NET Win 156 Average Net Loss 107.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 5-12 1-5 16

Non-Conference 3-8 1-3 35

Q1 0-4

Q2 0-1

Q3 4-4

Q4 1-3

The Spartans really tried to take the bull by the horns, with the 16th most difficult schedule in the nation. A two-point loss the San Diego would have been a Q1 win and a five-point loss to Santa Clara would have been a Q2 win, but close isn’t good enough. It’s a good thing that loses are capped at 10 points or losing 58-78 to Stanford, 39-87 to Arizona, and 48-83 to Oregon State would hurt even worse than they do. The nice thing about the conference doing well is there are lots of Q2 and Q3 games left on the schedule. San Jose State just needs to put together some wins and be the team that almost beat San Diego State, not the team that lost to Portland, UC Riverside, and Portland State all Q4 loses.

Wyoming

NET Ranking 291. Average NET Win 284 Average Net Loss 116.

Win-Loss Record Road Record SOS

DIV 1 Only 4-14 1-4 150

Non-Conference 4-7 1-1 289

Q1 0-2

Q2 0-6

Q3 0-3

Q4 4-3

Wyoming needs to beat a good team. They are 0-11 in Q1, Q2, and Q3 games, and only 4-3 in Q4. They almost had a Q2 win over Nevada 68-67, but a lose counts as a lose. The good news for the Cowboys is most are of their games are classified as Q2 and Q3. If they can find a way to win a few then they can increase their rankings, simply winning half of the Q4 games, isn’t going to cut it.