The NCAA men's basketball tournament version of the College Football Playoff ranking made its season debut Monday.
And the Gophers men's basketball team isn't getting rewarded like it has in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and other rankings after its 10-2 start.
The Gophers beat their third ranked opponent this season and picked up Big Ten win No. 3 with Sunday's 77-60 victory against Ohio State, but Minnesota debuted at No. 43 in the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool).
The NET ranking helps the NCAA tournament selection committee pick the field of 68 in March, so it is far from perfect this early.
Meanwhile, the Gophers jumped from No. 21 to No. 16 in the AP Top 25 on Monday, their highest ranking since they were 12th and 14th in 2017-18.
After their three-game winning streak ended in a 71-59 New Year's Eve loss at Wisconsin, the Gophers responded with their third straight victory against the Buckeyes.
The Gophers' daunting stretch of eight consecutive games against ranked foes to start Big Ten play is just past the halfway point. Minnesota plays at No. 10 Michigan on Wednesday and Jan. 16 at home, and No. 5 Iowa on Sunday.
The Gophers are 3-2 against ranked opponents, which is also their Quadrant 1 record. The NET rankings separate teams into four quadrants. with Quad 1 wins being the highest quality on an NCAA tournament résumé.
The first NET rankings are typically wacky every year since most teams are barely starting conference play in late December and early January, but they were even harder to understand this season.
The Gophers were among 11 Big Ten teams in the NET's top 50, but they were below four-loss teams such as Maryland (No. 32) and Penn State (No. 42). Michigan State got blown out by the Gophers by 25 points last week, but the 7-3 Spartans are ranked 23rd in the AP poll. Their NET ranking? No. 119.
Overall, the NET's top 40 currently loves midmajor programs such as St. Louis (12), Boise State (13), Colgate (16), Drake (20), Winthrop (39) and Colorado State (40).
The NCAA changed its formula for the NET ranking in May. Two factors (Team Value Index and adjusted efficiency) determine the ranking instead of the five factors used in the past. Categories not included now in the NET are scoring margin, winning percentage and adjusted winning percentage.
Team Value Index is described as the NCAA's way of rewarding teams for beating quality opponents, especially on the road and at neutral sites. Adjusted efficiency measures team's overall performance on both offense and defense during the season, similar to advanced stats guru Ken Pomeroy's national rating system.
The early NET ranking for the Gophers is head-scratching, but the better evaluation is with the current AP (16) and KenPom.com (23) rankings.
And there are many more opportunities for Richard Pitino's team to boost its NCAA tournament résumé before March.