The NCAA released its first NET rankings on Monday, with Gonzaga sitting at No. 1 and typical powerhouses Duke and Kentucky ranked outside the top 100.
The first run of the rankings have been released earlier in the season the last two years, but with the delayed start to the season and the choppy nonconference schedule, the NCAA decided to wait until the first Monday in January to release the rankings.
Gonzaga leads the way, with Baylor, Tennessee, Illinois and Villanova rounding out the top five. A few teams inside the top 20 might raise some eyebrows: Boise State (No. 13), Colgate (No. 16) and Drake (No. 20). But Boise is 8-1 with its lone loss coming to Houston, while Drake has the most wins in the country at 12-0. Colgate has only played two games this season, splitting a two-game series with Army this past weekend, but with the one win coming by 44 points.
For the most part, the bluebloods of the sport are nowhere to be found inside the top 50. Indiana is No. 51, UCLA No. 54, North Carolina No. 64, Duke No. 115 and Kentucky No. 144.
The Big Ten has been clearly the best conference in the country during the first half of the season, and that’s reflected in the NET rankings. Four teams are ranked inside the top 11, and 12 of the 14 teams are ranked inside the top 51. Surprisingly, Michigan State is all the way down at No. 119, while Nebraska is No. 186.
The NET replaced the RPI as the primary sorting tool for the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee before the 2018-19 season. When it was first introduced, it had five factors, which was trimmed to two last spring. The NET now takes factors in the Team Value Index (TVI), which takes into account quality wins and game location, and adjusted efficiency ratings. The NCAA removed winning percentage, adjusted winning percentage and scoring margin as factors.
The NET will be updated daily on the NCAA’s website.