The United States remains the country to beat despite not medaling at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Within a week of the tournament ending, FIBA released an updated world ranking for men’s basketball. The United States — which entered the tournament ranked No. 2 behind Spain — reclaimed the No. 1 spot from Spain while Germany, which took home the gold medal at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, moved up eight spots into third place.
Yes, you read that right.
After finishing in fourth place in a tournament that included losses to Lithuania, Germany and Canada, the U.S. actually moved up one spot. To which I’m sure the general reaction is…
And yet there’s actually an explanation.
The Sporting News has more on FIBA’s most recent rankings below.
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Latest FIBA Basketball rankings
- Biggest top 30 climb: Latvia (+22)
- Biggest top 30 drop: Turkey (-8)
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How FIBA Basketball rankings are calculated
FIBA’s rankings are based on “all games played by 164 national teams in top official FIBA competitions and their Qualifiers over an 8-year period.” There’s a lot that goes into the rankings, the full process of which can be found here.
In short, FIBA calculates the “rating points” for each game to each team. Then, it calculates the ranking according to the “weighted average rating points of each team, overall games in the previous 8-year period.”
For example, a team receives 800 basis points for winning by a margin of 20 or more points. If they win by single digits, they receive 700 basis points. Additional points are awarded for whether or not it’s a home game and the strength of the opponent.
This is the formula FIBA uses to calculate each team’s rating points:
- Basis points + home or away points + opposition ranking points = rating points
Since the rankings are based over an eight-year period, FIBA also uses a “penalised weighted average of rating points” from previous games. More recent games contribute more to the rating, as do the region of competition teams, stage and round.
This is the formula FIBA uses to calculate each team’s final game rating:
- Time decay + competition and region weight + competition stage weight + round weight = final game rating
FIBA has detailed examples of its rankings here.
Why Team USA is No. 1 after disappointing World Cup
Many weren’t expecting Team USA to move up after finishing fourth in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The eight-year window FIBA uses for the rankings works to the benefit of the Americans, who have won four straight gold medals at the Olympics.
The USA (4) also finished higher in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup standings than Spain (9), which entered the tournament as the highest-ranked country in the world.
To no surprise, the Olympics and World Cup are the highest-weighted competitions in FIBA’s rankings.
Here’s what FIBA wrote about Team USA’s placement:
USA reclaim pole position with 786.6 points after benefiting from their consistency at major tournaments over the last three summers. Finishing in fourth place at the FIBA Basketball World Cup where they outperformed former number one nation Spain, their run to the Semi-Finals came off the back of winning an Olympic title at Tokyo in 2021 and also taking bronze at the FIBA AmeriCup 2022.