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NCAA won’t use RPI anymore. Here’s how basketball tournament teams will be selected.

NC State’s Keatts on the NCAA tournament: ‘I want our guys to be excited about it.’

N.C. State basketball coach Kevin Keatts discusses his team's upcoming NCAA tournament game with Seton Hall.
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N.C. State basketball coach Kevin Keatts discusses his team's upcoming NCAA tournament game with Seton Hall.

RIP, RPI.

The NCAA has decided to replace the RPI — or Ratings Percentage Index — as its primary tool to evaluate teams for the men’s basketball tournament.

In for the RPI, first used in 1981, will be what the NCAA is calling the “NCAA Evaluation Tool” or NET (get it?)

According to the NCAA, which announced the decision on Wednesday, NET will rely on: “game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.”

The use of an efficiency metric, popularized by analytic expert Ken Pomeroy, is distinct departure from the RPI. The RPI’s main flaws were putting too much weight on strength of schedule (as opposed to the actual results) and not taking into account how a team lost or margin of victory.

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The NET will include a margin of victory component but it will be capped at 10 points “to prevent rankings from encouraging unsportsmanlike play, such as needlessly running up the score in a game where the outcome was certain,” according to the NCAA release.

The NCAA committee had relied heavily on the RPI to select the 36 at-large teams and seed the 68-team field. It came under criticism in recent years for its lack of context. Teams were rewarded for merely playing games against highly-rated opponents — and punished for playing lowly-rated teams — regardless of the outcome.

The selection committee adopted a quadrant system last season in order to help contextualize the RPI rankings. They’ll still use the quadrant system, based on the NET rankings, with games in the top quadrant, “Quadrant 1” given the most weight.

The quadrant breakdown, remains the same:

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240

Quadrant 4: Home 161-351, Neutral 201-351, Away 241-353

The committee will also continue to use advanced metrics, from Pomeroy, Kevin Pauga, ESPN BPI and Jeff Sagarin to compare the at-large teams.

“The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee has had helpful metrics it has used over the years, and will continue to use the team sheets, but those will now be sorted by the NCAA Evaluation Tool,” said Dan Gavitt, senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA, in a statement released by the NCAA. “As has always been the case, the committee won’t solely focus on metrics to select at-large teams and seed the field. There will always be a subjective element to the tournament selection process, too.”

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