At long last, the much-anticipated first edition of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) has been released.
For the Colorado Buffaloes, the very early returns are encouraging. For the entirety of the Pac-12 Conference, not so much. Yet the first set of NET rankings, the new metric devised by the NCAA to replace the RPI as the key standard for NCAA Tournament credentials, also drew enough eyebrow-raising results to question just how functional the NET will be throughout the course of the season.
One of the more curious results was right at the top, with Ohio State receiving the No. 1 selection despite a 6-0 record compiled largely against four squads with a sub-200 NET. Kentucky, with its only blemish a rout at the hands of a mega-talented Duke team firing on all cylinders, came in at No. 61.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Buffs landed just seven spots behind the Wildcats, coming in at No. 68 despite recording their three wins against Drake (No. 175), Omaha (228) and Air Force (253). CU was the fifth Pac-12 team in the rankings, trailing Arizona State (28), Arizona (33), Oregon (39) and Washington (58) while being situated ahead of UCLA (86) and USC (90).
It is, of course, just the first edition of a complex analytical formula, and it remains to be seen how the NET rankings will adjust as the season progresses. However, CU coach Tad Boyle cautioned a Pac-12 Conference that, perhaps outside of ASU’s win last week against Mississippi State, lacks a signature victory so far needs to establish a stronger national showing in order to avoid another letdown like last year, when only three league teams reached the NCAA Tournament field.
Two of those three — UCLA and ASU — were relegated to the preliminary “First Four” round of 68. All three Pac-12 squads, including regular season and tournament champ Arizona, didn’t survive the first game.
“We need to get some signature wins. We’ve got about a month left to do it,” Boyle said. “I don’t care if you’re picked 11th or 12th, or you’re picked first or second, or you’re picked in the middle of the pack like we are. (Our) San Diego loss, it’s not a good loss for our league. There’s no good losses. We’ve got to win games against quality opponents.
“I’m rooting for every Pac-12 team that plays in November and December. I’m rooting for everyone. Because we have to win games as a league.”
One of the more electrifying freshmen in the league, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort, was named the league’s Player of the Week on Monday.
Dort earned MVP honors at the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas after leading the Sun Devils to a win against then-No. 15 Mississippi State with 17 points and nine rebounds. Dort then set an ASU freshman scoring record by erupting for 33 points against Utah State, adding seven rebounds and four assists.
Dort went 16-for-32 overall from the field and 5-for-8 on 3-pointers. He is the first ASU freshman to win the Pac-12 Player of the Week award since James Harden in 2008.
For the first time this season only one Pac-12 school, No. 18 Oregon, landed a spot in the weekly AP top 25. UCLA, which had been 17th, dropped out after consecutive lopsided losses against Michigan State and North Carolina. Arizona State unofficially is 26th as the top team among others receiving votes. The Sun Devils finished five points behind No. 25 Mississippi State despite topping the Bulldogs last week.