The Seeding Disease
The Seeding Disease
Blog: From the Director
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I have yet to hear one satisfactory reason to advocate for seeding an all-comers, 740-team high school basketball tournament. But this I do know: Advocates of seeding are never satisfied.

Seeding high school basketball tournaments has become the rage since the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, still just a 68-team affair, became a billion dollar media business. Many people assume that what is used for this limited invitational college tournament is needed and appropriate for a high school tournament that involves 11 times as many teams.

The NCAA pours millions of dollars into the process of selecting and seeding its 68-team tournament, combining a variety of data-based measurements with the judgments and biases of human beings.

One of this year’s questionable selections to make the 68-team field was Syracuse ... which sent our more highly touted and seeded Michigan State Spartans back home early in the tournament.

Meanwhile, low-seeded Loyola-Chicago upset four teams on its way to the Final Four, and became the favorite of fans nationwide. Which argues for upsets. Which argues for randomness.

Which argues against seeding. Why pick the No. 1 seeds of four regions and have all four glide to the Final Four? What fun would that be?

A local sports columnist who is an outspoken advocate for seeding our state’s high school basketball tournament actually wrote a published column advocating for “more Loyolas” in the NCAA tournament, and he explained how to make that happen. Which, of course, seeding is designed to not make happen, but instead, to grease the skids for top-seeded teams.

When the NCAA Final Four brackets for San Antonio resulted in two No. 1 seeds on one side, playing in one semifinal game (Kansas and Villanova), while the other side of the bracket had a semifinal with a No. 3 seed (Michigan) and a No. 11 seed (Loyola), there was a call for more finagling ... for reseeding the semifinals so that the two No. 1 seeds wouldn’t have to play until the final game.

It was poetic justice to watch one No. 1 seed clobber the other No. 1 seed in a terrible semifinal mismatch.

The point is this: Seeding is flawed, and advocates of seeding are never satisfied. If we take a small step, they will want more steps. If we seed the top two teams of Districts, they will lobby for seeding all teams of the Districts. If we seed all teams of Districts, they will ask for seeding Regionals. And, if we seed the start of the tournament, they will want a do-over if it doesn’t work out right for the Finals.

Seeding is a distraction, and an addiction.

Comments

# Daniel DePaulis
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 1:42 PM
You give only circumstantial examples as evidence and no hard facts or data to prove your point. Seeding is not only the right thing to do, but it is the fair thing to do as well. It rewards good teams for having a good season by not forcing them to play another top team in districts. How is it fair when you have the #2 team in the state play the #4 team in the state in the first round of districts. Where is the reward for playing well during the regular season and winning games!?! Many other states do seeding and their tournaments do just fine. Let's get with the times and stop living in the dark ages. Michigan is behind the curve when it comes to seeding the state tournament. Let's look at how other states do things and look at the DATA to determine if seeding is right for us.
# Jim
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 1:50 PM
Seeding is not an addiction. Dont trivialize those who actually have addictions. If seeding is so bad, then stop seeding football and wrestling.
# Mike Sellers
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 1:50 PM
Being from Indiana, the worst thing the IHSAA ever did was go to class basketball. Having attended a small high school, (230-240 kids) I never played at sectionals (districts in MI) in front of less than 2500-3500 people. We went on to beat the 9th ranked IN school (1100 kids) that was hosting our sectional in the semis and went on to win our 1st sectional in 15 years. It was another 32 years before they won another and in class basketball. As soon as they went to classes, the smaller schools started playing in front of 200-400 people. Loss of tradition and big school vs little school. If you can't beat the other highly ranked school, you don't get to advance. Doesn't matter which round it's in.
# Michael Glass
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 10:39 AM
The argument of seeding is competitive fairness. Having teams that are regional or area picked for districts creates conference teams meeting for a 3rd time, since most conferences use geographic and school size to make their conferences. Teams that have navigated the season with a good record, taking into account the toughness of each team which the seeding equation does, allows for more quality teams playing longer. Your use of the NCAA is totally apples and oranges to high school seeding expectations. NCAA schools recruit their players to make the best team they can, They schedule their teams knowing that if they play cupcakes they will not be rewarded once the selection committee meets. ALso not ALL NCAA teams get in!
Now back to high school...Teams should be seeded so that districts are even..I have been coaching 27 years and have seen first hand that teams from other districts making it to regional had no business there except for the fact that their district had 5 teams that weren't very good, while other districts the best teams beat each other out in one district. This year alone in my district was a 20-0, 15-5, 14-6, 12-8, and 7-13 teams. The top 3 teams were all in the same side of the district while the worst were in the other side. The 20-0 got upset, the 15-5 went on to win the district by 20 points. The semi final game should have happened in the regional or quarters not in the semi finals of the districts.
Seeding creates more of a level playing field for ALL teams, with the occasional upsets, it will make the next rounds more of a REGIONAL feel, as well as have the best teams meeting. Your Quarter finals would be more competitive.
I feel the reason we don't seed is because the MHSAA is not willing to relinquish control of the tournament in any way. Maybe with Mr. Roberts retiring, we will finally get a say in how our Tournament is run!

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