The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee dropped major news on Friday morning. They are altering the definition of a "quality win."
When evaluating teams' tournament résumés in the past, the committee has received team sheets with metrics. The sheets have results divided into four columns:
- Results against the top 50 teams in the NCAA’s Rating Percentage Index
- Results against teams 51-100
- Results against teams 101-200
- Results against teams 201 or lower
Beginning with the 2017-18 season, the sheets will be altered to place greater emphases on the location of the games rather than the ranking of the opponent, putting large emphasis on road wins. The four columns will now look like this:
- Home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral-site games against teams ranked in the top 50 and road games against opponents ranked in the top 75.
- Home games against teams ranked 31-75, neutral-site games versus teams ranked 51-100 and road games against teams ranked 76-135.
- Home games against competition ranked 76-160, games played on a neutral court versus teams ranked 101-200 and games on the road against teams ranked 136-240.
- Home games against teams ranked 161-351, neutral-site games played against teams ranked 201-351 and road games versus opponents ranked 241-351.
“We consulted with experts within the coaching and analytics fields who looked at historical data, based on winning percentages by game location, to come up with these dividing lines within each of the columns,” said Mark Hollis, Michigan State and chair of the committee. “The emphasis of performing well on the road is important, as was the need for teams not to be penalized as much for road losses. Beating elite competition, regardless of the game location, will still be rewarded, but the committee wanted the team sheets to reflect that a road game against a team ranked 60th is mathematically more difficult and of higher quality than a home game versus a team ranked 35th. We feel this change accomplishes that.”
The committee has used "several metrics" over the past "several years" to evaluate the strength of teams, including the RPI (which is the main metric on team sheets), along with KenPom, Sagarin, KPI and BPI ratings. They invited analytics experts to Indianapolis in January to discuss other metrics and get their feedback.
“There was a consensus among those involved that a composite rating was a better indicator than the RPI alone, but everyone also agreed that it isn’t mathematically sound to combine metrics that are results-oriented with those that are predictive in nature,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball. “The committee decided to use the upcoming season to study how different composite rankings would perform, and explore other options, as well."
They did not say what additional changes could be made following the 2017-18 season.