Clemson coach Brad Brownell frustrated Big 12 was able to 'manipulate' NET rankings

On3 imageby:Matt Connolly02/26/24

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Clemson coach Brad Brownell is frustrated that the Big 12 has been able to “manipulate” the NET rankings, he said during a recent radio appearance.

According to Brownell, several schools in the Big 12 put together an easy nonconference schedule in order to boost their efficiency numbers, thus helping their NET ranking.

Brownell argued that there’s really not much difference between any of the major conferences, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at NCAA Tournament bracket projections and the NET. Joe Lunardi has nine Big 12 teams in his latest Bracketology, compared to only five for the ACC.

“A couple of things that folks don’t understand, you can manipulate the NET. … And there’s a strength of schedule dynamic where the Big 12 has managed it with their scheduling. Their nonconference scheduling, they’re playing 300 level teams and winning by 40 and 50 points to increase their offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, which is a big part of the NET tool,” Brad Brownell said Monday on WCCP. “So that’s why you see teams trying to win at the end of games by 30 or 40 points instead of putting in your walk-ons.

“So the Big 12, they’re playing eight nonconference games, seven nonconference games against low level teams and increasing their NET. Then when they all get into the league, their totals are higher, their NET rankings are higher. And so their teams are perceived to be a little better than they are.”

The Big 12 currently has 10 teams in the top 50 of the NET, led by No. 1 Houston.

Iowa State is the second-highest ranked Big 12 team in the NET at No. 8, but Brad Brownell believes that the ranking is higher than what it should be.

“People forget Virginia Tech beat Iowa State in a nonconference game pretty handedly down in Orlando. Iowa State’s second in the Big 12. Virginia Tech – a good team who beat us – is in the middle of our league. Our league is actually 9-3 nonconference against the Big 12. Those are the head-to-head games,” Brownell explained.

“We played TCU, beat TCU, TCU’s doing well in the Big 12. And I remember preparing for the TCU game and telling my staff, ‘Look who they’ve played. They haven’t played anybody. Every game is Abilene Christian and Houston Baptist.’ We’re getting ready to play them and we’ve already played a really hard schedule. But look at their NET. Their NET rankings get up and then when they beat each other up they don’t have bad losses.”

While the Big 12 has 10 teams in the top 45 of the NET, the ACC has only four. That’s despite the fact that the ACC performed well against the Big 12 head-to-head.

“Our league has zero teams in the top 50 of the NET that have a nonconference strength of schedule 250 or higher. The Big 12 has six teams,” Brownell said. “Cincinnati is a great example. They had a bad week last week and lost two games. They’ve been in the field for a while now and they really haven’t beaten anybody. Their nonconference schedule is awful. TCU – awful, Iowa State – awful. So those guys have figured it out. Our league hasn’t.”

Clemson is safely in the field this year, but the Tigers were on the outside looking in last year. Despite going 14-6 in ACC play, Clemson was left out of the NCAA Tournament, in large part due to its NET ranking.

Brownell doesn’t like the way the NET can be manipulated to the point that deserving teams get left out.

“I really think it kept us out of the tournament last year and that’s not right,” Brownell said.