The NET rankings are completely broken, continue to rate South Carolina basketball poorly

South Carolina basketball is 21-3 and 9-2 in the SEC, but that isn't good enough for the NET rankings.

South Carolina basketball stars Meechie Johnson and Myles Stute
South Carolina basketball stars Meechie Johnson and Myles Stute / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA
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South Carolina basketball fans have just about had it with the NET rankings.

For those who are unfamiliar, the NET is the metric used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to help determine who makes the March Madness field and how those teams will be seeded (RPI was the old metric).

The NET takes lots of factors into consideration before spitting out its final ranking, but there is an obvious disconnect in the process that is causing major problems.

According to the official NET explanation on NCAA.com, the NET places value on winning, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and quality of wins and losses. Despite this list of set components, it is clear there is something wrong with the NET rankings.

The NET rankings view South Carolina as the #45 team in the country. Does that sound ridiculous? It should.

Other metrics like RPI (31st) and Strength of Record (8th) are much higher on Carolina, and the RPI number will continue to climb for the Gamecocks as the strength of schedule improves down the stretch. Even the national analysts who were hesitant to accept Lamont Paris' team among the best in the country have started to change their tune lately.

The NET, which is supposed to be the most accurate representation of a team's resume and deservedness of an NCAA Tournament bid, completely whiffs in evaluating South Carolina basketball.

Lamont Paris and the Gamecocks are 21-3 this season, and they sit tied for 1st place in the SEC (arguably the best conference in college basketball this season) at 9-2 in league play. Carolina has beaten Kentucky, Tennessee on the road, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech at a neutral site, Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Georgia on the road. Their only losses are to Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia, and the defeats at the hands of the Crimson Tide and Tigers came on the road. USC also has 8 combined Quad-1 and Quad-2 victories, good for 9th-best in the country.

It's an elite resume, one that should have the Gamecocks somewhere inside the top-20 in every reasonable ranking. After all, the AP poll ranked South Carolina basketball 11th this week, and virtually every national analyst has the team somewhere inside the top-15.

But not the NET.

In addition to the Gamecocks being a top-10 team in terms of "quality wins" (Quad-1 and Quad-2 victories), only UConn and Purdue have fewer losses (each with 2) in major college basketball. Grand Canyon also has fewer losses (2), but one came at the hands of USC in a pseudo-home game for the 'Lopes. Still, that's not enough for the metric.

The stats back up the Gamecocks' case for a higher ranking, too.

South Carolina is top-15 in the country in scoring defense, one of only five major programs on the list (Houston, Virginia, Iowa State, and Maryland are the others). Despite their aggressive style on defense, they rank in the top-75 in the country in the fewest fouls committed. Highlighting their defensive effort, they are 12th in the country in total 3-point attempts allowed.

Quietly, a team effort on the boards has USC in the top-60 nationally in rebounding margin. A top-100 number in offensive rebounds per game doesn't sound great, but for a team that ranks near the bottom of the country in total shots taken, that is very impressive.

Detractors try to argue that the Gamecocks aren't good on offense, but they base their opinion on total stats rather than efficiency numbers. Carolina has a top-30 national assist-turnover ratio and top-50 total turnover percentage number. Despite their slow and deliberate style of offense, the Gamecocks rank in the top-75 in 3-pointers made per game.

The stats paint a clear picture that the Gamecocks are an elite defensive team that rebounds well and is efficient on offense. Pair those realities with the fact that they just won't lose, and South Carolina basketball should be considered an elite team this season.

The NET, though, seemingly has other ideas.

When South Carolina knocked off top-5 Tennessee on the road, they rose just 8 spots when the dust settled and were passed by multiple teams that had lost to unranked opponents. This week, after beating a good Ole Miss team and taking care of business against Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks dropped 9 spots in the NET and were passed by multiple teams that lost, including a mediocre-at-best Villanova team that rose 10 spots after losing 6 of their last 8 games and is 13-11 on the season.

If the team stats and the winning aren't enough, the Gamecocks also have multiple players who are in consideration for All-Conference honors.

Point guard Ta'Lon Cooper is 6th in the country in assist-turnover ratio and is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country. His 45.9% shooting from 3-point land also ranks 4th in the country. He absolutely is deserving of an All-SEC spot, but his lack of total scoring (right at 10 points per game) could keep him off the lists.

BJ Mack likely won't make the All-SEC team as his shooting percentage numbers are inconsistent, but he has a chance with a strong finish. The big fella is instrumental in the Gamecocks' success as he spreads the floor with capable 3-point shooting and an old-school post game that is tough to defend. He's also been much better on defense lately.

Meechie Johnson's numbers have dipped lately after his SEC Player of the Year candidate pace early in the year, but he has still been an impactful player for the Gamecocks. A good perimeter defender who has four different 24+ point scoring efforts, Johnson has become a tremendous secondary creator for USC, as well.

Collin Murray-Boyles is a bad man. Potentially the best player on the South Carolina basketball team already, the true freshman has fought back from his preseason mononucleosis battle to become a stud of power forward who might be the smoothest athlete down low in the conference. He deserves some All-SEC Defensive Team consideration, but he won't be able to overcome his late start. He will make the All-SEC Freshman Team, though.

Zach Davis has played both as a starter and as a reserve, and he is an elite perimeter defender. An All-SEC Defensive spot is possible, but his lack of overall minutes could keep him away from receiving the honor. Big man Josh Gray is a similar story defending the paint, but he plays even fewer minutes than Davis.

The resume, the stats, and the players all scream "NCAA Tournament lock!!!," but the NET rankings still aren't there.

All in all, though, if the Gamecocks keep winning, everything will work out just fine. A top-4 SEC finish and 7 or fewer losses (meaning, at worst a 25-7 record after the SEC Tournament) certainly would be enough to move USC into a 4-seed or better in the NCAA Tournament selection process.

***All stats compiled from NCAA.com.***

Next. South Carolina Basketball: National analysts finally giving Gamecocks the love they deserve. South Carolina Basketball: National analysts finally giving Gamecocks the love they deserve. dark