College basketball fans tired of complaining about the ways the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee decides who gets into the tournament every year will have an entirely new system to complain about from now on.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it would be replacing the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) as the primary evaluation tool it uses to rank Division I men’s basketball teams. The new system, The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is a proprietary AI program that values game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses. The new system was approved in July after consultation between the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Google Cloud Professional Services, and various basketball analytics experts.

The new system will attempt to “ensure fairness” by factoring in different values for certain criteria. Game date and order were omitted from the model in order to give equal importance to games played early in the season as well as late in the season. That’s probably going to ruffle some feathers with people who believe conference games and late-season contests should hold higher weight than a non-conference showdown during a tournament in November. Along with that, a cap of 10 points was applied to the winning margin, which is meant to curb teams from running up the score in an attempt to impress the committee.

The NCAA hasn’t said yet if it will be fully transparent about the metrics fully involved in NET. As Matt Norlander reports, the issue is in part because it’s not a formula but a predictive model.

Taking a cue from college football, the NCAA will also use the NET results throughout the regular season as a way to promote the rankings and encourage “debate” based on where teams are slotted. Weekly unveilings of the rankings will commence in either late November or early December.

The change is actually the second big one the committee has made in recent years in order to fine-tune their process for selecting the most worthy teams for the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the NCAA incorporated a quadrant system to put more emphasis on road games and neutral games against quality opponents.

And so, we bid the RPI a fond farewell. First used in 1981 as a way to provide the Men’s Basketball Committee with supplemental data for selecting at-large teams, it grew in importance across this and other sports in the years since in spite of some critical failings in the data. The RPI still will be used by other Division I sports committees for now, including the Women’s Basketball Committee.

[NCAA]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Neighborhoods.com, Curbed Seattle and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.