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Virginia coach Tony Bennett on the metrics: ‘The NET is not everything’

Chris Graham
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This time last year, Virginia was a borderline Top 10 team playing for NCAA Tournament seeding.

The bracketology experts would have you thinking today that Virginia, at 19-5 overall, 10-3 in the ACC, is just now getting on the right side of the bubble.

Funny thing there being, winning at Florida State, with a 7-4 record in the ACC coming in, only marginally nudged Virginia’s profile forward – and three of the six computer rankings actually had the ‘Hoos either holding steady or dropping in the ratings.

One of those: the NET, which dropped Virginia from 32 to 34 after the road win at FSU (NET: 93).

Riddle me this one: Clemson jumped eight spots in the NET after winning at Syracuse (NET: 87).

“The NET is not everything,” Bennett said, trying not to sound frustrated. “When they get behind closed doors, there’s basketball people, I hope they understand what’s going on. There’s not a huge separation between leagues. You know, I used to, ah, the ACC is the best, you know, that’s what we said when I was in the Pac 10 at the time, and the Pac 10 was awfully good. When the ACC is great, it’s great, OK, but you’re looking at all these leagues, and there’s not a lot of separation between the leagues.”

No, there’s not, not on the court – though there is a lot of speculation about some conferences having figured out how to game the rankings.

Case in point: the Big 12 has an average non-conference strength of schedule at 257.1 (the ACC’s average NCSOS: 194.1).

The Big 12 has five teams in the NET Top 20 and 10 in the Top 50; the ACC has two in the Top 20 and five total in the Top 50.

The difference would appear to be the Big 12’s cream-puff non-conference scheduling, which has that conference a cumulative 112-30 (.789) in non-conference games; the ACC is 115-52 (.689) in non-conference games.

“When you look at this, and you can see a Clemson going into Carolina, and Georgia Tech and all that, and then look around at what’s happened, and so the NET, I think there’s, it’s too soon, it’s too early to say that, there’s still ball left, and the ACC can compete with every league,” Bennett said. “They’re all pretty close, and that’s the reality of it. And I know everybody likes to look at the numbers, say this and that, but it showed that in the tournament the last few years, and I think it’s too soon to be casting the die, saying three teams, four teams, two teams. I mean that, again, look where our team is going, and there’s other teams, too, like that.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].