Four teams to be seeded in state basketball tourney

New pilot policy starts with this winter's season

April 25, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

The top four teams in each state region will be seeded for the first time in this winter's girls and boys basketball state tournaments under a newly adopted pilot policy.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association executive council approved the policy on Thursday.

The experiment addresses objections raised often by coaches and others in high school basketball over pairings in regional tournaments being made by random draw, regardless of a team's regular-season record. The lottery draw began in the 1995-96 season.

"The seedings will be based solely on regular-season records, not including Christmas tournament games," said Ned Sparks, the MPSSAA's executive director. "It will be done on a one-year trial basis, and I suspect we will re-visit it and make a final decision to go with it in all our tournaments, or be done with it."

In 1994, soccer and volleyball were used as the pilots for un-seeded, open tournaments. The following year, the format was implemented for all sports.

Sparks and the MPSSAA sought ideas from all member-school coaches and athletic directors. MPSSAA got fewer submissions than expected, Sparks said.

"The current system is pure, and now we have to see if enough will accept something not as perfect," said Sparks.

Because the drawing will be done on a Sunday before the last regular-season playing date, it's conceivable that some teams will still have a couple games before regional playoffs start.

"The cut-off date will be the day of the draw, and what happens after that won't change the status of the seeds," Sparks said.

After the top four teams in each 16-team bracket are seeded on the basis of their records, the remaining pairings will be decided by lottery. To separate teams with identical records, a tiebreaker for seeding will be devised.

Higher seeds will get home-court advantage. In pairings, the team that has had fewer home games will get home-court advantage. Byes will continue to count as home games. In case of a tie for the fourth seed, the teams will draw for the seed.

All seeded teams are guaranteed a first-round home game.

Seeding will all but eliminate first-round doubleheaders for boys and girls teams, adding a cost factor because of additional buses needed for teams to travel. That will be scrutinized in the pilot season, Sparks said.

"We have to see how the schools handle the costs and see if the seeding enhances the gate [receipts]," he added. "It's something that the Board of Control and executive council felt we had to try."

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