KenPom: The New College Basketball Ranking System Explained

KenPom is a ranking system in college basketball that allows teams to be ranked more fairly than subjectively based on multiple criteria, which in theory makes it a more fair assessment of who makes it to the post-season and who does not.
USC v Arizona State
USC v Arizona State / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

All we use to have to go off of for college basketball rankings were the traditional AP and coaches polls, as well as the BPI (Basketball Power Index). That is until recently with the emergence of another ranking system, KenPom.

Kem Pomeroy is the creator of a statistical basketball website, . Although created back in 2004, KenPom as the website is referred to as has gained a lot of traction in the 2024 season.

Unlike the AP and coaches polls which can be subjective, KenPom takes the bias out of the equation and allows voters, teams and fans to assess their team solely based on analytics.

In theory, what this would do is create less debate at the end of the regular season as far as who should be the last teams in and the last teams out when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, also known as “March Madness.”

KenPom is fairly easy to understand even for the fan that does not want to dive into analytics. Its ranking system evaluates a team based on adjusted efficiency margin, adjusted offensive efficiency, adjusted defensive efficiency, adjusted tempo, luck rating and strength of schedule.

Based on this criteria, KenPom brackets teams into four quadrants, with quadrant one being the best teams and four being the worst.

So whether you want to dive deeper and look at the individual criteria areas that KenPom evaluates on, or simply identify a team by quadrant, the KenPom system seems to have a setup that is understandable for every fan, player, team, voter and coach.

This may seem like a lot still, but when segmented out, you realize that these are the core elements of determining a value of a teams wins and losses throughout the season. And therefore simplifying the decision at the end of the year when the committee decides who makes it into March Madness, and whose left sitting at home.