NCAA Tournament Projections After First NET Rankings

Welcome to the first bracket of the 2023-24 season with results. And as a real bonus, the first NET results have been posted and will updated daily to give us a better picture — albeit a a cloudy one — of where teams sit in early December.

Every year, the first NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) release garners a lot of discussion. Because of the limited results, there are usually several outliers that get fans up in arms. No evaluation tool is perfect, and most of these outliers get worked out as more results are included. This season, there seemed to be fewer issues with where teams are ranked. I would have to agree that I saw fewer surprises and most of the rankings made sense. Let’s look at the top two teams in the NET and see why they are ranked where they are.

As of this writing, BYU is the No. 1 team in the NET. That is a mild surprise to most. First, if you are like me, you are still thinking WCC when you hear BYU; remember, they are now in the Big 12, which means they are going to have a ton of opportunities against the best teams in the country to keep that high ranking. BYU is undefeated, sitting at 8-0. They have four wins against teams in the top 125 of the NET. There are only a couple of other teams with that feat on their résumé. As we’ve seen in the past, the fact that most wins have been blowout certainly gives them “points” in the NET formula, something I wish they would look at and adjust. The puzzler comes in the form of the Cougars’ overall strength of schedule, which sits in the high 200s. But as we mentioned, they will have plenty of chances to validate the ranking.

Houston sits at No. 2 with a similar résumé. They have been at or on top of the NET rankings over the past few years. Again this has generally been because of the margin of victory: Houston has won six of their eight games by 14 points or more.

With all that being said, simply blowing teams out does not crack the NET code on its own as there are so many factors that go into it — but it certainly gives teams a bump. But remember that NET rankings are used to sort teams in quadrants, and not necessarily used on their own to place teams on a seed list. This is where evaluation of overall résumés comes in as a primary tool in seeding teams.

LAST FOUR IN: Indiana, South Carolina, Nevada, Villanova
FIRST FOUR OUT: New Mexico, Providence, Washington State, Michigan State
NEXT FOUR OUT: TCU, NC State, Virginia Tech, Colorado

Big 12: 9
SEC: 9
Big Ten: 7
ACC: 5
Pac-12: 4
MW: 3
AAC: 2

In our next bracket in three weeks, a bigger sample size will be available — not to mention many conferences beginning conference play which, along with other updated metrics, will give us a more accurate picture and projection of the bracket.

Follow me on twitter @tkbrackets. I will give you updates all season long as we make our way to Phoenix for the Final Four.