Your Day in Women’s Basketball, January 5: Out with the old, in with the NET

NET ranking system to be utilized by NCAA women’s basketball committee

Since 1982, the rating percentage index (RPI) was the go-to metric in women’s basketball for determining which schools were invited to participate in March Madness.

The men’s committee scrapped RPI in 2018, with the women now doing the same, opting for the NCAA evaluation tool (NET). The men saw favorable responses to the new system, despite early backlash two years ago.

According to tournament committee chair Nina King, the biggest reason to go with NET over RPI is the metric’s ability to weight the quality of opponents, given their performance in a matchup. NET rating factors in game location better than RPI did, and also has much different margin of victory weights, so as to not reward teams for blowing out weaker adversaries.

The NET constantly updating rankings are available for all 337 programs here, and the usual suspects of Stanford, UConn and Baylor currently sit at 1, 2 and 3. It will be interesting to see which programs or even conferences are benefited by the committee using NET over RPI, come March.

Sitting at number 5 in the rankings is South Carolina, who had their hands full with previously undefeated Alabama last night. The Crimson Tide are having an impressive start to the season, but 28 points from Jordan Lewis was not enough as they fell the the Gamecocks 77-60.

The backcourt duo of Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson lit up the stat sheet as expected, but the most important figure of the night was the 26 offensive rebounds as a team. You cannot expect to beat a top 5 team if you allow that many second chance points.

The other marquee matchup of the evening was #12 Maryland taking on #19 Indiana (who are both ranked higher in NET fwiw). Maryland came out of the gates hot with a 23-9 lead after the first quarter, and despite a valiant effort to make things interesting in the 4th, the Terrapins held on to win 84-80 to give the Hoosiers their first Big 10 loss of the season.

One thing to note for both these teams as they get further into Big 10 play is their reliance on the starting units. Only 7 players on each squad played meaningful minutes in the contest, and with how difficult their conference will be this year, depth may be an issue to look out for later in the season.

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