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The Bracket Project – Revisited

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There they came Thursday morning.

Sub-district basketball pairings. Ugh. Why do we make the NSAA go through this mess every year?

Selecting sub-districts that no one will like. Trying to schedule these sub-districts at gyms when the host school has their team playing too and will have a hard time getting workers so they can host. A truly thankless job that doesn’t even need to be done.

The glaring eye rolls are there from the beginning.

Look no further than the current B-2 district at Omaha Skutt. The four-seed, Elkhorn South, is the 11th-seed overall in Class B. If this makes sense to you, let me know.

Class B has long been ahead of the curve with their sub-state format. Why not make it better? The class already eliminates geography for sub-state. Why not eliminate it for districts and play them on Friday and Saturday at home sites?

Eliminate re-seeding. You want to play in the state tournament? You are. In the first round. You can even hold off on seeding until after all regular season games are played with the later start to district play.

Don’t like Gering and McCook playing at Omaha Skutt on Friday? I understand. Let them play at the high seed on Thursday. It might look something like this for next week.

Bracket Project – 2019 – Girls B 2019

It’s not quite as easy in the smaller classes, but it’s quite doable. And you certainly avoid the silliness that is Wahoo against Bishop Neumann (or, heck, a really good Aquinas team) in a sub-district final. Same for Sacred Heart and Sterling in Class D-2; both in the top three in their class.

It just makes little sense. When the postseason hits, kids deserves the big atmosphere to be as such. Not a meaningless sub final when both teams will play again in two days for a trip to state no matter the result.

There are a few ways to accomplish a better look to our basketball postseason. Here goes nothing.

1. Want the best teams? A few options: eliminate districts (start at 16 and seed them) having the postseason start at sub-state.

2. Or, you could just eliminate districts entirely and take the top-8.

3. Or, take the top-32, somehow divide them geographically and seed a tournament that way.

Here is our take, in a few steps.

1. Divide the state prior to the season into four regions. Because of geography, each region must have a minimum of 12 teams with a max of 15. This will vary by class.

2. On pairings day the following steps are followed: seed each region 1-12+, identify the top two-seeds in each region to be district semifinal hosts, place those eight teams in the overall point standings and rank them 1-8.

3. Those eight teams and their corresponding districts are then placed on the giant state tournament bracket.

4. The tournament is played out from the beginning without re-seeding. Opening round games are played at home sites.

5. Because there are no bunny bracket sub-district games you go from beginning to the round of 8 in three nights instead of four.

6. Games can be completed in one week (Monday opening round in D, Tuesday in C, district semifinals on Thursday at top-seed sites, finals on Saturday). Then, a week off for boys. Then Elite 8 games to finals played in Lincoln.

There is good and bad with any system. Here is how we see it.

The Good
1. Postseason rematches eliminated. If you beat a team in the postseason you won’t ever have to beat them again.

2. Multi-game district final Saturday: multiple games at single sites to create better atmosphere for kids. In our girls format we have five games in Ogallala, four each in Lexington, Grand Island, Norfolk, Seward, Lincoln and Bennington and three in Columbus. Sound fun, hoops junkie?

The Bad
1. The most difficult part here is that the top-8 seeds are not protected to Lincoln. Look, our state is big. If you are the best team in your area, are you the best team in the state? Remember the top-two teams in each region would be protected to Lincoln.

2. The biggest losers in this scenario this year? West Point-Beemer — fourth in C1 points —(would have to beat Bishop Neumann in a district final). BDS — fourth in D2 points — would have to be Sterling in a district final to advance.

3. In total, 25 of the 32 “state seeded” teams are in the top-8 in their class point standings.

Bracket Project – 2019 – Girls C1 2019

Bracket Project – 2019 – Girls C2 2019

Bracket Project – 2019 – Girls D1 2019

Bracket Project – 2019 – Girls D2 2019

Timeline Breakdown

Class B: Current format sub-district (Feb. 11-12), sub-state (Feb. 16). New format districts (Feb. 15-16). Total games played to get to state: 32. New format: 24.

Other classes: Current format sub-district (Feb. 11, 12, 14), sub-state (Feb.23). New format (Feb. 11, 14, 16 in D and 12, 14, 16 in C). Opening day would rotate on an annual basis. Total games played to get to state: 205. New format: 191

It’s time to have a discussion about postseason games in our state that have little value in being played as a they relate to getting teams to the final eight in Lincoln. Our state has made great strides to get the postseason better for the kids. Is this the next step?

For our sake we hope a discussion can take place. Have a take? Send it our way on Twitter: @strivsports, @THEnebpreps, @tony_chapman76.

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