High School Basketball:
Published: Feb 19, 2013 06:00 PM
Modified: Feb 19, 2013 03:58 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Using feedback from the N.C. Basketball Coaches Association, the N.C. High School Athletic Association has pieced together a basketball playoff format that will be used this season for the first time. The system works like a hybrid of some previous systems.
Last year, the NCHSAA overhauled its process by seeding the basketball playoffs. The number of automatic bids per conference was the same, but the teams were grouped into four 16-team regions based on east-to-west coordinates; they were seeded 1-16.
Some coaches complained the process, which was finalized on a Saturday before the first round of the playoffs, gave them too little time to prepare for a Monday night game.
“What we did this year, based on their suggestions, was to group conferences so they have an idea of which teams or at least what conferences (they will play) so they can go in and see where everybody’s going,” said Que Tucker, NCHSAA deputy executive commissioner.
Last year, the Raleigh-based Cap-8 4A Conference was in the easternmost region with Wilmington schools. This year, it’s in a region with mostly teams from the PAC-6, which includes East Chapel Hill, and the Cary-based Tri-9.
The Carolina 12 1A/2A Conference – including Carrboro, Cedar Ridge and Northwood – will also be affected with more trips to the eastern part of the state.
There will not be a chance for an area school to play a team from a “western” conference in the first round.
Another change recommended by coaches is conference tournament games, which start this week, will be counted in the overall seeding.
Unless the regular-season champion (the No. 1 seed) wins the tournament, the winner advances as the league’s No. 2 seed. Previously, tournament winners advanced as the lowest seed, unless they had finished higher in the regular season.
Counting conference tournament games in seeding can have an impact. If the league tournament results had counted last year, the Wakefield girls would have been at home against Clayton instead of playing at Clayton.Rare rematches possible
In football, the NCHSAA’s pod system caught flak for rematching conference rivals in the first and second rounds. Pods have been dropped for next season except in 1A football.
Conference rematches in basketball are not as likely as in football because basketball uses 64-team brackets and 16-team regions. Football uses a 32-team bracket and eight team regions.
Last season, less than one-fifth of all boys’ and girls’ first-round playoff games were conference rematches. In a study done by The News & Observer, this year’s format would keep the number of those games at about the same level.
“The only way to avoid (conference rematches) would be to take conferences and spread them totally throughout the bracket; then you’d have 1-versus-32 and 2-versus-31,”Tucker said. “That just increases your travel. Our principals, superintendents and even the coaches wouldn’t agree to that.”End of the trial, tweaks left
This season will be the end of the NCHSAA’s two-year trial period with the basketball playoffs. After examining how both formats worked, Tucker hopes that the NCBCA and the NCHSAA can work on something permanent going forward.
Many Triangle 4A soccer coaches and volleyball coaches, unhappy with how often the best area teams play one another early in the postseason, have expressed interest in seeded playoffs.
“If this way works, what we could do is share this with the other coaches associations,” Tucker said. “We would say ‘This is what we’ve done in basketball. Are you interested in being seeded? And if so, this is the format that is most successful, or at least the most acceptable.’ ”