December 13, 2021 

WATCH: NET rankings – what does it all mean?

Easy-to-digest explanation on what they mean now and going forward

December brings us all sorts of great things – holidays lights, festive parties, spotlight matchups on the court. And the first round of NET rankings! The biggest questions surrounding the NET rankings seem to be what does it mean, how do they come up with them and why now?  Here at The Next, we’ve got you covered.

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NET rankings stands for ‘NCAA Evaluation Tool’ – for women’s basketball, it is a sorting tool used to measure a team’s quality and helps evaluate team resumes for selection and seeing in the NCAA tournament. The days when we relied on RPI, which was a formula based on winning percentage, is over. A team’s NET ranking is determined by who you played, where you played, how efficiently you played and your results. NET rankings are formulated by two components – one that is data-driven, measuring a team’s overall performance during the regular season. And one that is results-driven, which ranks teams higher that played and beat other good teams.  

But NET ranking is just one of 14 criteria that the NCAA women’s selection committee uses to evaluate teams and set the tournament field. Ultimately a team’s NET ranking is based on wins over losses, who you play, where you play and how strong your schedule and conference is at the end of the year.

Why do we have the first rankings out in December? Because the first month of the season is behind us and there is data to create this list. Things of note to keep an eye on: how the mid-major teams stack up in the top 20 (Missouri State is currently in at #19), the ACC currently has four teams in the top 20 with North Carolina at #2 and Nebraska (10-0) is in at #4, just one of three Big Ten teams in the top 20. The rankings are now published and will change daily so do not worry if your team comes in lower than expected – it is how you finish in March that matters.

Written by Missy Heidrick

I am a retired Kansas State shooting guard and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, Locked on Women's Basketball podcast host, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!


  1. Dale janota on February 7, 2022 at 12:43 am

    Why can’t we know the formula that is in the computer that derives this.. what I read is a lot of circle talk that I believe is formulated to protect the power conferences.

    • Samuel Nelson on March 8, 2022 at 9:57 am

      Agreed!…or else no one really understands it. Even this presentation has virtually NO information.

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