NCAA will upgrade the value of road games in seeding, selection

The NCAA is giving road and neutral court victories more weight in the 2018 tournament selection process.
The NCAA is giving road and neutral court victories more weight in the 2018 tournament selection process. The Wichita Eagle

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee will recognize that playing a good opponent on the road is often as difficult as playing a great opponent at home. It will bump up the importance of road wins when it compiles the “team sheets” that guide the selection and seeding of NCAA Tournament teams in 2018.

This would seem to benefit teams that play non-conference road games, a category that Wichita State falls into more often than, say, Duke or Syracuse.

I’m not sure it will have a game-changing influence on how the committee views the Shockers, but it’s another plus, especially combined with the American Athletic Conference. It would seem to provide another marker between teams that schedule aggressively in November and December and those that do not.

Last season, for example, WSU’s win at Colorado State (No. 66 in the RPI on selection day) becomes more prominent in the new format.

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee is altering its definition of a quality win, placing greater emphasis on winning road games by changing the team sheets that include the results of every team being evaluated for selection and seeding for the men’s basketball championship,” wrote David Worlock of the NCAA on Friday.

Previous team sheets grouped games by RPI in columns with 1-50, 51-100, 101-200 and 201 plus, with designations for home, away and neutral. It told committee members, at least in part, that beating No. 49 at home is more significant than beating No. 55 on the road.

No coach would agree.

“There still will be four separate columns, with the first column consisting of home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral-site games against teams ranked in the top 50 and road games against opponents ranked in the top 75,” Worlock wrote. “The second column will include home games against teams ranked 31-75, neutral-site games versus teams ranked 51-100 and road games against teams ranked 76-135.”

Wichita State plays in top holiday tournaments and it plays road games against opponents such as Oklahoma State, Baylor, Alabama, Oklahoma and Utah. It appears that in the future those type of games will be more helpful to the Shocker NCAA resume.

The development and use of a “composite metric” to de-emphasize the RPI (a goal discussed in a story from January here) is still under consideration and may take place for 2018-19, the NCAA said in a news release.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop