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Arizona ranks 33rd in NCAA’s first NET rankings

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The Wildcats are the second-best team in the Pac-12, according to the NCAA’s new metric

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Auburn at Arizona Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

RPI is dead and NET has taken its place.

This summer, the NCAA revealed a new metric to evaluate college basketball teams called the NCAA Evaluation Tool, NET for short.

An in-depth explanation of how it’s calculated can be read here, but the skinny is it “relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.”

The NCAA released its first NET rankings of the 2018-19 season Monday, and the Arizona Wildcats (4-2) check in at No. 33, the second-best ranking in the Pac-12, only behind the Arizona State Sun Devils, who are 28th.

All the NET rankings can be found here.

One trend Jordan Sperber found is that NET strongly correlates with raw efficiency numbers rather than those adjusted for opponents.

Relatedly, a team like Loyola Marymount, which is ranked 122nd by KenPom, which does adjust for opponents, checks in all the way at No. 10 in NET. San Francisco, KenPom’s No. 74 team, is No. 25 in NET. Belmont is No. 12 in NET. Radford is No. 22.

Perhaps these rankings will make more sense as the season wears on and the sample size increases, but right now they don’t seem to carry a lot of meaning.

“These are the worst rankings I’ve ever seen in any sport, ever,” tweeted FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver. “NCAA needs to go completely back to the drawing board.”

One thing NET probably does accurately depict is how weak the Pac-12 is. It ranks the Pac-12 as the sixth-best conference in the nation, the lowest among the power conferences. KenPom rates the Pac-12 the same way.

Here is how NET ranks the rest of the Pac-12, by the way:

39. Oregon

58. Washington

68. Colorado

86. UCLA

90. USC

104. Oregon State

108. Stanford

155. Washington State

169. Utah

246. Cal