So there is a problem with the 2012 NCHSAA Basketball Playoff qualifying method? Why yes there is! However, I started putting my thoughts into this article several days ago I did not envision the current problem that the NCHSAA is currently facing with Panther Creek. If the NCHSAA follows their own procedure which they recently documented to all Athletic directors in North Carolina there wouldn’t be an issue.
However, that was not the problem I was thinking about this past week. The real problem with qualifying is Half +1 system that the NCHSAA utilizes.
When the NCHSAA released their letter to the athletic directors - 2012 Basketball Seeding Memorandum – on January 31 I sat and applied this to the conference that I follow the closest, the MEGA 7. For those that are not aware, the MEGA 7 is a split 3A and 4A conference.
After following the steps I then clearly saw that only two teams from the 3A Division of this conference would qualify for the playoffs. At first thought this should be too big of a problem. You have to win your conference to make the playoffs; seems fair enough. Then I looked at the 4A side of the conference and saw that three teams would qualify for the playoffs; two of these teams would have losing records. That is not good at all. But what made it even worse was that it became apparent that a team with less than five wins would qualify for the tournament while a team with 15+ wins from the same conference would not.
As we entered conference tournament week 3A Phillip O. Berry (17-7) had only one way into the playoffs; win the MEGA 7 Conference Tournament. It was also noticed that West Mecklenburg (3-20) had an excellent shot at making the playoffs; all they needed was for Berry to not win the MEGA 7 Championship.
I think most people would agree that it is wrong for a 17-7 team to miss the playoffs while another team from the same conference with a record of (3-20) “sneaks” into the playoffs. I say sneaks in because they did not earn their way in. They finished 6th in a conference of seven teams.
It is clear – at least to me - that this Half +1 system has some serious flaws
How is the Half +1 system applied? In basketball we qualify half of a conference plus an additional team. This means that if a conference has eight members, then five will qualify for the playoffs. If this formula does not generate 64-teams then wildcard teams are added in to complete the total of 64-teams. These teams are added as wildcard based on their overall record.
Sounds simple enough?
What if that conference is a split conference? The same formula applies except it is applied to the divisions within the conference. So if you have a conference with eight members, four in each classification then each side will send three teams for a total of six for the conference.
This season wildcard spots are available as follows: 1A 6-wildcards; 2A No wildcards; 3A No wildcards; 4A 2-wildcards.
So let’s get back to the situation with Berry and see how this Half +1 system worked out in their conference.
Here is how the teams finished the regular season:
1. Olympic (12-0, 25-0); 4A
2. Charlotte Catholic (9-3, 20-6); 3A
3. Harding (8-4, 21-4); 3A
4. Berry (6-6, 17-7); 3A
5. East Gaston (4-8, 10-14); 4A
6. West Mecklenburg (2-10, 3-20) 4A
7. Garinger (1-11, 3-20) 4A
Now let’s look at who qualified using the Half +1 system:
East Gaston (10-13)
West Mecklenburg (3-20)
Charlotte Catholic (19-5)
The first obvious problem here is not the omission of Berry from the playoffs; it is the addition of West Mecklenburg (3-20) into the playoffs. This does nothing but compound the problem of Berry Academy (17-7) not making the playoffs.
Now what this tells me is that we automatic qualify too many teams, which in turn allows much weaker teams to fall into the playoff picture. Shouldn’t the goal be to put the best 64 teams in to the playoffs?
My suggestion is for the NCHSAA to use the same procedure they use in football. Before someone starts to think too much, no I am not suggesting we go to sub-divided playoffs creating two champions for each classification.
If the qualifying procedure used to qualify 64-team was the same as the one used to qualify 64-teqams in football; the following teams from the MEGA 7 would qualify:
Olympic (25-0) as #1
East Gaston (10-14) as Automatic Wild Card
Charlotte Catholic (20-6) as #1
Harding (21-4) as Automatic Wild Card
Berry (18-8) as Wild Card
Yes a team with a losing record would still qualify. However, we would not be sending a 3-20 to the playoffs. And we would most likely not keep an 18-8 team out of the playoffs.
So I want to bring up for discussion how we qualify teams for basketball in the NCHSAA system and ask why can the NCHSAA not qualify teams like they do in football?
We can discuss this topic in this forum topic: NCHSAA Seeding Process