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Playoff format needs to be reformatted

March 01, 2011

Part 2: Last week in this space, I delved into the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoff process for basketball.

That was just the tip of the iceberg.

The biggest item is seeding ALL teams in a region, 1 through whatever number of schools in that particular region.

No more of the ridiculous random draw with ping-pong balls after the top seeds that generates a first-round matchup of a team that is 12-10 traveling to play a team with an inferior record.

Step 1: The MPSSAA and the basketball committee simply need to make a change in the seeding to go from No. 1 on down.

Step 2: Include ALL games played during the season — holiday tournaments, mixers, etc. They are all games that should be included.

Now here is where I expect the big fight would come from the MPSSAA offices. With this one, I can go either way:

Step 3: At least have the first-round and quarterfinal games played at the site of the team with the best record. That’s your reward for the having a better record.

After that, heading into the region semifinals, the games should be played on a neutral floor within your region (i.e. Williamsport vs. Smithsburg at North Hagerstown) with neutral officials.

I’ve given thought to the entire tournament being played at neutral sites (as they do in Pennsylvania and Ohio), but I really don’t think that would work.

And the structure of the playoffs is to be fair to everyone. At least that is what we are supposed to believe.

Tell me this. How is it in many of the regions that teams, such as South Hagerstown in Class 3A West, have a shot at playing all their tournament games at home, which could be three or four, to get to states?

However, in 1A West, the teams that reach the region championship game are going to be on the road somewhere because of the East Section-West Section setup within the region. That’s why Williamsport went to Cumberland last year and this year’s 1A final will be in Frederick.

I think there needs to be a “basketball revolution” in this state. And members of the statewide basketball committees and the people sitting at the offices in Baltimore need to make them.

 On another note, this being directed to North and South Hagerstown representatives: Can’t we please schedule both rivalry games to be played early enough in the season that the outcomes have a bearing on the playoff draw?


Tim Koelble is a Herald-Mail sports writer. He can be reached at 301-791-7376 or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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