Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino and other coaches trash NET rankings

Former Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, national champion Rick Pitino and others take issue with the NET rankings.
Former Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, national champion Rick Pitino and others take issue with the NET rankings. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Famer and former long-time Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim and some other big-name coaches have taken issue with the NCAA’s NET ranking system, according to a media report and plenty of social media posts.

Every Selection Sunday, some teams that get left out of the field of 68 are unhappy, and that’s never going to change.

Now, as it pertains to our beloved Orange, they simply didn’t have enough high-quality triumphs. The ‘Cuse (20-12, 11-9 in the ACC) needed to go on a deep run in last week’s ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C., to have any shot at reaching this spring’s Big Dance.

Unfortunately, the No. 7 seed Orange bowed out in the ACC Tournament’s second round to No. 10 seed N.C. State, which ultimately won five games in five days to capture the league’s post-season crown.

Regardless, the ‘Cuse to me was better in the 2023-24 season than its NET rating of No. 84 on Monday. Syracuse basketball, though, lost a bunch of contests by wide margins, and that likely played a role in its sub-par NET.

The 'Cuse, per a statement from a team spokesperson to me on late Sunday, said that it had opted out of a potential invite to the 2024 NIT, ending the Orange's 2023-24 term.

Still, Boeheim, his former assistant from decades ago, Rick Pitino, and others chimed in about the NET in an illuminating article from college basketball insider Adam Zagoria on

Former Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim weighs in on the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

For some context, when the field of 68 was announced on Sunday evening, teams such as Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Providence, among others, were left out.

In the 2023-24 regular season, the Panthers finished No. 4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.

Seton Hall, St. John’s and Providence, all former Big East Conference rivals of the Orange, had solid campaigns in one of the sport’s best leagues during 2023-24.

One problematic development for these and other bubble teams that didn’t make the cut was that, over the weekend, multiple bid-stealers ended up winning their respective conference tourneys, including N.C. State, and that shrunk the bubble.

From Boeheim: “We’re not getting the best teams in the tournament, we’re getting the best NET teams in the tournament, which means over the whole course of the year and if you play a bad schedule and you win all those games by a lot of points you’re going to have a good NET,” he said on Sunday via the ACC Network, per Zagoria’s piece. “And that’s who’s getting in the tournament.”

Granted, the NET isn’t the only metric that the NCAA Tournament selection committee utilizes to select its at-large participants and seed the entire field.

The committee looks at teams’ whole bodies of work, including the non-conference. Which squads beat which foes and where. But to me, the NET is flawed, because some teams schedule weak out-of-conference opponents, beat up on them, and inflate their NET rankings as a result.

On Monday, Pittsburgh had a NET ranking of No. 40. Providence was No. 58. Seton Hall was No. 67. St. John’s was No. 32.

Poor Indiana State, which has put forth a fabulous 2023-24, but became the highest team in the NET, at No. 28, to not make the Big Dance. The Sycamores fell to Drake in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, and with those bid-stealers this past weekend, that doomed Indiana State.

In Zagoria’s article, St. John’s head coach and two-time national champion Rick Pitino said, “I think we all should probably never mention that word (NET ranking) again because it’s fraudulent.”

In late February, when Syracuse basketball squeaked past Notre Dame at the JMA Wireless Dome, SU Athletics celebrated and honored Boeheim’s storied career.

During that ‘Cuse win, Boeheim said in part on the ESPN broadcast that the NET rankings system is “ridiculous.”

According to Zagoria’s story, Providence head coach Kim English had some choice words about the NET. “I think you could schedule bad teams in your non-league and beat the snot out of them and beat them by 50 and 60 ... But right now, it might be a change in college basketball, where beating teams by scheduling to beat teams by 40 and 50 might be a thing to do. But when you get into this league, the analytics aren’t going to look very good in’re playing against some really, really good coaches. … I do think there are some flaws in the system.”

I agree with Coach English. Now, to be fair, the NET isn’t the only metric used by the selection committee for the NCAA Tournament.

At the same time, I like that the Orange, in 2023-24, had a challenging non-conference slate, and the ‘Cuse went a solid 9-2 in that 11-game docket.

Scheduling non-conference cupcakes can help a team’s NET, but I think that’s lame. I’d rather see Syracuse basketball play tough foes in the out-of-conference.

If the Orange, however, loses some of those games by big margins, and it hurts the squad’s NET, and by extension makes it harder for the ‘Cuse to compete for an NCAA Tournament invite, well, that’s a shame.

Nothing is perfect in life. But the NET ranking system, from my perspective, needs to be vastly improved.

Next. Syracuse basketball recruits, led by 4-star Tyler Jackson, are Overtime Elite champions. Syracuse basketball recruits, led by 4-star Tyler Jackson, are Overtime Elite champions. dark