With the college men’s basketball postseason rapidly approaching, there are a lot of technical terms and numbers being thrown around that may be confusing for a casual viewer.
The Phoenix outlines the basics in understanding college men’s basketball through the upcoming postseason.
The AP Poll: How Does a Team Make the List?
The Associated Press (AP) Poll is a weekly ranking of the top 25 NCAA teams in Division I (DI) football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The ranking is based on polling from 65 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the country.
The weekly list is produced by collecting each voter’s personal ranking of the top 25 teams and averaging them out to make the national ranking. The poll is typically updated every Monday.
Loyola moved up to No. 21 Feb. 22 after checking in at No. 22 for two weeks in a row. Its first appearance on the AP Poll this season was the first time the team has been ranked during the regular season since checking in at No. 16 March 4, 1985.
The Coaches Poll: What’s Special About This Poll?
The Ferris Mowers Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll is another national weekly poll on which Loyola men’s basketball currently sits. Similar to the AP Poll, it’s produced by averaging each member of the voting panel’s ranking of the top 25 teams. Unlike the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll is determined by a panel of men’s basketball head coaches at DI schools across the nation.
These coaches represent the 32 DI conferences with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and are selected in counsel with the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The current voter representing the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) is University of Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson.
Loyola currently sits at No. 23 on the Coaches Poll for the second week in a row. The last time Loyola made its way onto the Coaches Poll was April 3, 2018 when it stood at No. 7 after its Cinderella run during the NCAA Tournament.
The NET Rankings and Quadrants: What Do They Mean?
The NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) is the predominant tool for determining seeding and selection to the NCAA Tournament. It was first introduced after the 2017-18 men’s basketball season and replaced the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) for both men’s and women’s basketball.
Among the factors that affect the NET is the Team Value Index (TVI), which is a result-based feature that takes the quality of opponents into consideration when ranking a team. Other factors taken into account include a team’s winning percentage, the winning percentage of their opponents, the strength of the team’s schedule, their scoring margin and game location.
The NET also utilizes a quadrant system to determine the quality of wins and losses for each team. The quality of a win or loss is based on the game location and the opponent’s NET ranking. The quadrants are sorted as follows:
- Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
- Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
- Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
For example, Loyola’s Feb. 13 win against Drake University on the road would qualify as a Quadrant 1 win because Drake was within the top 75 teams in the NET rankings. Meanwhile, Loyola’s Feb. 18 win against Valparaiso University at Gentile Arena would be a Quadrant 4 win because Valparaiso was ranked No. 236.
The NET rankings are updated daily and Loyola was ranked No. 11 out of 347 teams through games Feb. 22.
The NCAA Tournament: What Does It Take to Make It to March Madness?
There are two ways Loyola can qualify for March Madness. The first method is through winning the MVC tournament Arch Madness, which would make the Ramblers an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament. The second method is through receiving an at-large bid.
Although there have typically been 32 automatic qualifiers out of the 68 teams who make it to March Madness, the 2021 tournament will see only 31 as the Ivy League opted out of winter sports.
The other 37 spots will be filled by teams who receive an at-large bid to the tournament. These teams are determined by a 10-member selection committee and will be announced on Selection Sunday March 14.
The selection committee is made up of school and conference administrators who are nominated by their conference and serve five-year terms. Among those currently on the committee and representing the MVC is Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics at Bradley University Chris Reynolds.
At-large bids to the tournament are given to teams by the selection committee based on rankings and other statistics collected throughout the regular season, including the NET. The selection committee is also responsible for determining seeds and brackets for the tournament.
Loyola will wrap up regular season play with a two-game series at home against Southern Illinois Feb. 26-27. The Ramblers will then head to the MVC Arch Madness tournament in St. Louis March 4-6. If the Ramblers win, they will automatically be entered into the NCAA Tournament. If not, they will find out if they received an at-large bid on Selection Sunday.