New WVSSAC Playoff Format Is A Mixed Bag

West Virginia high school basketball fans were given a huge surprise on Thursday.

The WVSSAC Board of Directors decided to eliminate sectional tournaments and to combine both sections in an existing region into one big regional tournament. Ultimately, the tournament would conclude with two co-champions and both teams heading to the state tournament in Charleston.

It’s a different concept than those in the Mountain State used to. I see some merits in it. I also see a few pitfalls.

First of all, when it comes to sectionals, I am a bit sad seeing some of those long standing sectional rivalries wiped away. However, I can deal with it. Quite frankly, with fewer schools and more classifications, there were some sectionals with very few teams. It made a sectional championship feel less important in many cases.

Also, the fact that the loser of the sectional championship could move on always felt weird to me, even though I realize that there have been times when the two best teams in a class were both from the same section. In fact several state champions lost their sectional title games. This eliminates that scenario and makes every tournament game someone’s last game. The finality of each game will ramp up the excitement level for every game.

I actually like all of those things, but there is one thing that really seems like it could potentially be an issue. The seeding will be based on coach balloting. While almost every coach out there will do the right thing and vote according to what they feel the right order is, there have been some strange occurrences in sections where seeding is based on voting. This type of format just opens up a whole can of worms.

I feel that the WVSSAC could improve this by mandating that each team play the other teams in their region once per year and use the results to determine the seeding. It’s simple and takes human error out of the process. With the higher seeded team hosting each game, such a rule could be valuable.

Next season will surely be an interesting time in West Virginia as the schools try to navigate this new process. Either way, the regional tournament will bring new and exciting match ups and hopefully fresh opportunities. My only hope is that they keep working to make the process as good as possible.

This post is Brought to you by:

Share this post