After yet another perfect week, dominating both Samford and Cleveland State in Columbus to extend their undefeated start to the season to 6-0, the Ohio State Buckeyes once again climbed in the AP Top 25. Debuting in the poll for the first time this season last week, the scarlet and gray jumped seven spots to No. 16 in the latest AP Poll.
Chris Holtmann’s crew continues to be impressive and has put college basketball on notice. Outperforming expectations for the second consecutive year, the Buckeyes don’t seem to have one standout player or elite scorer, but it seems to be a total team effort. While averaging 81 points per game as a team, they have seven players who average at least 7.5 points a game. Their defense has seemingly been the most impressive part of their game though. Ohio State not only has some lockdown defensive players, but they play very well as a team on both ends of the floor. It truly is a total team effort and Holtmann is mostly to the reason for that.
Along with the Buckeyes, there are six other Big Team teams ranked this week: No. 7 Michigan, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 14 Iowa, No. 19 Purdue, No. 22 Wisconsin, and No. 24 Maryland. At least early on, the conference seems stacked, which will make for a really interesting Big Ten season starting in about one month.
They may have been No. 16 in the latest AP Top 25, but somehow, they were No. 1 in the first-ever NET ratings. The NET rankings were designed to replace the RPI. Here’s an explainer of the new rankings system 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.”
What are the NET Rankings?
Here's EVERYTHING you need to know. Be on the lookout for the first release 👀 pic.twitter.com/kdZwDEjFPS
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 26, 2018
By replacing the RPI, the NET ratings were supposed to make things easier, especially on Selection Sunday. After the rankings made their debut this week, it appears as though they have created a new (and much bigger) set of problems going forward. Then again, maybe they will work themselves out in the end.