There is a growing buzz here in the Pacific Northwest in terms of how playoff brackets are being developed. Last week he shared with you some potential outcomes and did a compare and contrast of Oregon and Washington in terms of how their State associations handle the playoffs and fill out the brackets.
In Washington the WIAA has used a system for a number of years now in which the brackets are predetermined every year based upon which League finishers will play where within the State. This system is often viewed as being very fair and insuring an equal distribution of teams and schools from each League are represented in post season play.
But what it lacks is the ability to place teams of extreme power and strength on opposite sides of the brackets; thus insuring a chance for a true Champion to arise.
This is more of a potential problem this year then in any other year. And no bracket better illustrates this problem then the Washington 3A Playoff Bracket. This year both Lakes High School and Bellevue High School are Nationally ranked teams. In fact as of today they are both rated in the Top 20 Nationally by Rivals.com which is traditionally the toughest rating to obtain.
Rivals.com Top 100 11/7/2011
In Washington most experts have Bellevue and Lakes at a dead heat at #1 and #2 respectively and no one, excepting opposing teams, really wants to see the two teams on the same side of the WIAA 3A Brackets.
Yet they are this year and will face each other in the Second round of the playoffs sending one team home for the year. And that just seems tragic to most outsiders. No matter what many want to believe most will say that this game, if it happens, was the Championship.
In stark contrast the Oregon system adopted last season seems to be doing a very accurate job of placing the best teams by record and overall ranking on the opposite side of the brackets. This is done by a very complex computer routine that ranks all of the outcomes and looks at strength of opponents, point spreads, and a number of other ratings including win loss ratings in order to calculate the overall placement.
This year Oregon has Lake Oswego and Sheldon both Nationally ranked by Rivals.com in the Top 100 as well. But their paths will lead to the Championship from opposite sides of the bracket and if it all plays out one of them will finish the season a perfect 14-0. Time will tell. But at least they have the potential to play in that sort of a game.
Rivals.com Top 100 11-7-11: LO at #56 and Sheldon at #57
A closer look at the rankings that the computerized system
came up with actually show one that the #3 team ended up being West Linn who was 7-2 on the year and #4 was Jesuit who was 6-3 on the year. The 5th spot went to Tigard who was a perfect 9-0 and 6th went to Central Catholic who went 7-2 loosing only to Lake Oswego and Jesuit.
And while the Oregon system has detractors who view the fact that you could win your League but still not get a #1 seed it seems to be working better then the alternative. Perhaps much much better.
But there are certainly variables that must be looked at and Coach Dave Miller at Lakes who we spoke to said that travel costs and other issues with letting a computer do the work need to be addressed. The WIAA is being smart about their approach and may use the Oregon model or a modified version of it in the future but have formed a committee to see if that or another method might work better.
Another option was discussed of naming a panel of experts to rate and rank the top teams and make sure there is consensus on placing the top teams evenly through the brackets and then allowing a predetermined bracket to be used for the balance of the teams to be filled in.
That would lead to a hybrid version of what they have now, address things like early round travel costs, and take care of a #1 vs #2 showdown in an early round like we have now.
Anyway this will be a year where much debate is stimulated and we really won’t be able to make a final comment either way until all the cards fall. But there is enough moaning and groaning that it just seemed like a good time to have this debate!
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