The NCAA has released the season’s first NET rankings, and Stanford finds itself in ninth place nationally. That may shock many, but it shouldn’t.
The Cardinal sit at a very convincing 9-1. The vast majority of their games were blowouts, with double digit leads typically being mounted early in the first halves. They sport a dominating win over Oklahoma on a neutral court (which was far closer to Norman than Palo Alto). They had their way against a strong mid-major team in Santa Clara. Nathan Knight, one of the nation’s premier scorers, managed just 7 points in Stanford’s 30 point drubbing of a respectable William & Mary.
The lone blemish came at a neutral site against NET #4 Butler. The Bulldogs won that game by 1 point on a tough look with five seconds remaining. It was the last in their series of difficult shots to go down. The Cardinal certainly played a good enough game to win.
Unlike its predecessor, the RPI, the NET rankings look at on-court performance beyond just the W/L column. According to the NCAA website, the rankings includes “game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capping at 10 points per game), and net offensive and defensive efficiency.” So how do other efficiency-based metrics view this team?
Stanford currently sits at just 48th in Kenpom, but that’s in large part thanks to the low preseason expectations that are baked in; they started the year around 100th. Bart Torvik’s T-Rank has a version that ignores preseason expectations and looks only at this season’s game data. Jerod Haase’s team is ranked at 13th by that metric. In the Haslam ratings, they’re in 9th place.
It’s difficult to rank teams at this juncture, but given the way they’ve played thus far, it’s not crazy to see them in 9th place. There’s a lot of season to go, and perhaps this is just a flash in the pan. It’s not designed to be predictive. But considering this is the ranking the committee cares most about - the one that replaced the RPI - it bodes well for Stanford. The AP voters gave them just 3 votes this week, but unlike the NET, that won’t show up on their team sheet in March.