COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Frank Martin walked into his Monday morning press availability, ready to rip the net.
The NET ranking, that is, which the NCAA uses to evaluate teams by Selection Sunday fairly.
South Carolina’s head coach grinned, referencing the latest NET ranking. The Gamecocks defeated the Tennessee Vols on Saturday 63-61. However, the Vols jumped up two spots in the NET to 63. One spot ahead of the Gamecocks.
“We won,” Martin said. “They (Tennessee) lost. Our number went up two. Their number went up two. You mean to tell me losing has the same value as winning.”
Well, it’s a mathematical formula but not one rooted in logic. The NCAA website explains the NET, which “relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.”
It tries to compute the value of a team based on those criteria.
On Sunday, Martin called Andy Assaley, South Carolina's Director of Men's Basketball Operations, to discuss the NET. The two went over the formula. By the end of the conversation, all Martin could do was chuckle.
"I just started laughing," Martin said while smiling. "I hung up the phone. I said, 'I'm so happy I live my life the way I do.' I'm not consumed with opening up some website to see who's being predicted as climbing into the bubble and who is being predicted as being choked with the bubble. So, that website can sell a lot of advertising and make money off my emotions."
Martin understands why fans and media might choose to pay close attention to the NET this time of year. Instead, he hopes Gamecock fans immerse themselves in how the team is currently playing. South Carolina, winners of eight out of its last ten games, is 16-9 overall and tied for fourth in the SEC standings.
"Be consumed with your team if you're a Gamecock fan," Martin said. "We got a chance to do some special things. Just worry about that."
Sure, there's reason to remain concerned with the loss to Stetson from back in December and how the selection committee will view it when it comes time to put together the field of 68. However, South Carolina's tournament resume also includes the most roads wins to date in the SEC (6), along with three Quadrant 1 wins.
With seven guaranteed games remaining on the schedule, Martin wants the fans to focus on what's ahead because, as he mentions, the Gamecocks are in an excellent position to achieve their goals.
"If you're a Gamecock fan, help us," implored Martin. "Be excited about coming in here on Saturday."
Martin wants fans to show up on Saturday when LSU comes to town. First things first, South Carolina seeks a huge road victory on Wednesday when they travel to Mississippi State.