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2018 NCAA Tournament Selection Criteria Changes

There are some new tweaks in how NCAA Tournament teams are selected.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Things are constantly changing when it comes to how the NCAA Tournament is selected. The very useful KenPom rating is being used more and more these days, especially in place of the RPI. The Selection committee has changed how team sheets will be read now when they get before the committee:

The selection committee will no longer use top 50, top 100, 200 and 201 and above as dividing categories. Instead, the new terminology will be quadrants 1, 2, 3 and 4. The decision is to get away from treating every team the same if the game was on the road, neutral or at home based on their power rating. Now the road/neutral games will matter more.

They did something like this a few seasons ago for baseball in order to even things up a little for northern schools like Purdue. We have to play pretty much the first month on the road, and now in the formula for the RPI to determine NCAA berths in baseball there is a multiplier added to each game based on it being at home, on the road, or a neutral site. Each road win receives a multiplier of 1.3, a neutral site gets 1.0, and a home win gets 0.7. That has been in effect for a few years now and you have seen two seasons now where the Big Ten, the only major conference that has major weather issues, has gotten a record 5 teams in.

So what does it mean for basketball? Well, last season here was Purdue’s profile:

1-50: 7-5

51-100: 5-1

101-200: 7-1

201+: 6-0

Those were good numbers, but here is how the new quadrant system would work out with the same schedule:

The breakdown will be as follows (on last year’s RPI numbers):

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 5-5 (we lose the home wins over 48 Northwestern and 47 Michigan State. 30 Wisconsin stays in just barely since it was at home.) So we’re a little less here.

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 6-2 (The road win over 104 Penn State moves up as well as the road loss at 111 Nebraska. The home win over 83 Iowa would drop to tier 3 as well as the home win over 81 Indiana, but the loss would stay here at tier 2. The home wins over Michigan State and Northwestern also go here.) We basically have a loss move up (Nebraska, our “worst loss”) to count a little less against us, but we lose some heft from the home Indiana and Iowa wins falling.

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240: 8-0 (The Nebraska loss previously at tier 3 moved up, but the home Indiana win moved down. We would just barely miss a ninth win as Morehead State finished at 201) This looks a little better as we have no loss below a tier 2. This is where the neutral wins over Utah State, Auburn, and Arizona State fit.

Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus: 6-0 (This was the dregs of our schedule like McNeese State, NJIT, Western Illinois, etc.)

Overall it doesn’t change Purdue’s profile too much except for moving the Nebraska loss up a level and making it look a little better since it was on the road.

Here is how it breaks down for this year, using the current KenPom since the RPI is too all over the place this early in the season. generally the RPI and KenPom get pretty close by the end of the season, but not right now:

Old Method

1-50: 3-1 (Beat 19 Arizona, 27 Louisville, and 40 Maryland, lost to 24 Tennessee)

51-100: 2-0 (Beat 56 Northwestern and 63 Marquette)

101-200: 0-1 (Lost to 117 Western Kentucky)

201+: 3-0 (Beat 212 Fairfield, 319 SIU-Edwardsville, and 344 Chicago State

New Method

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75: 4-1 (Marquette win moves up since it was on the road).

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135: 1-0 (Only the Northwestern win)

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240: 0-1 (Western Kentucky)

Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus: 3-0 (Everyone else)

There are several games that can still move around in this. The Marquette win seems to be the most fluid since it is in the 50-75 range right now and can move up in this new system. The Louisville win could slip down a little in this system since it was at home.

In terms of future games Maryland at home (Currently 40) would be tier 2 instead of tier 1, as would 41 Penn State, 44 Michigan, and 45 Wisconsin all at home. Winning at Indiana (currently 79) would be a borderline win that can move up, as would at 83 Iowa. A Thursday win over 84 Valparaiso would slip to tier 3 instead of tier 2.

It is confusing, but I do like that it would give a little more credit for winning some true road games. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of winning at home not being as valuable.