Some NCAA Division I basketball teams have played as many as 10 games, some as few as one or two. Even with such a great disparity, the NCAA on Monday released its first NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET. The NET is used by the D-I Basketball Committee to help pick the top 68 teams to get bids into the tournament.
Of the 340 schools listed, ten Atlantic 10 Conference schools — including the University of Massachusetts — are listed in the top half. UMass is the ninth-ranked A-10 team in the field of 340, and is ranked 139th overall.
The top Atlantic 10 team, and the only A-10 squad ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, is Saint Louis. Travis Ford’s team is currently ranked 12th in the NET, and is 23rd in the AP writers’ poll.
There are only two A-10 teams in the NET’s top 50, as VCU is ranked 31st. St. Bonaventure is ranked 57th, with Richmond 68th and URI 69th.
The top five in the NET’s first week are Gonzaga, Baylor, Tennessee, Illinois and Villanova. Gonzaga is also No. 1 in the AP poll and Baylor is No. 2. Tennessee is ranked ninth in the AP poll and Illinois is 12th. Villanova is No. 3 in the poll.
There are eight Atlantic 10 teams ahead of UMass in the NET and five behind them. Other area schools that are currently ranked ahead of UMass in the NET are Bryant (91), Siena (131) and Boston College (132).
Interestingly enough, perennial NCAA tournament team Cincinnati is 142 in the NET rankings, while John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats are ranked 144.
There are four Power Five conference teams rated below Kentucky, with California at 193, Oregon State at 198, Kansas State at 203 and Iowa State at 209. Teams of local interest come in lower. Bailey Patella’s Vermont Catamounts are rated 212, while the UMass Lowell River Hawks of coach Pat Duquette and Bryce Daley come in at 250.
The NCAA’s NET uses a series of factors in determining the list. One is called the “Team Value Index,” which rewards teams for beating quality opponents, with extra credit given for those wins on the road. The committee also uses what it calls an efficiency rating, which can be adjusted for the strength of an opponent and where the game was played.
The tournament committee is still debating how home-court advantage will play out with so many schools playing in front of very limited gatherings or no fans entirely.
The NCAA will release the NET daily, but watching it daily may not allow fans to see their teams move up and down rapidly.