This year is further proof that having the Round of 16 for Class AA basketball in South Dakota is great. Here's how the postseason would have looked under the old format.

The new system has ranked teams 1-16 and has lined them up in a traditional playoff tournament to crown a champion this season. This is the first time that the new Round of 16 has been used for Class AA, as it was previously implemented in Class A and B.

Under the old system, teams would have to go through their districts and regions to get to the state tournament. The old format would include giving all teams the opportunity to get to the tournament even if they didn't win a single game. It gave no significance or importance to the regular season.

Each team in Class AA was broken up into one of four districts. If the class was using the district/region format, we would have seen two districts with four teams and two districts with five teams.

For this example, let's take a look at the Class AA boys standings for this season using the Round of 16.

(Rank, Team, Seed Points, Record)

  1. RC Stevens, 44.368, 16-3
  2. RC Central, 44.316, 16-3
  3. SF Lincoln, 43.053, 13-6
  4. Harrisburg, 42.550, 16-4
  5. SF Washington, 42.421, 11-8
  6. Aberdeen Central, 41.800, 13-7
  7. Brandon Valley, 41.750, 14-6
  8. Douglas, 41.650, 15-5
  9. SF O'Gorman, 41.650, 12-8
  10. Sturgis Brown, 41.650, 13-7
  11. Yankton, 41.500, 13-7
  12. SF Roosevelt, 40.200, 8-12
  13. Watertown, 39.300, 9-11
  14. Huron, 38.500, 7-13
  15. Spearfish, 38.500, 7-13
  16. Pierre T.F. Riggs, 38.100, 6-14
  17. Brookings, 36.850, 4-16
  18. Mitchell, 35.350, 1-19

Brookings and Mitchell did not make the postseason this year.

Under the old format the teams would be broken up like this...

District 1

  1. (9) O'Gorman, 41.650, 12-8
  2. (12) Roosevelt, 40.200, 8-12
  3. (13) Watertown, 39.300, 9-11
  4. (17) Brookings, 36.850, 4-16

District 2

  1. (3) Lincoln, 43.053, 13-6
  2. (4) Harrisburg, 42.550, 16-4
  3. (5) Washington, 42.421, 11-8
  4. (7) Brandon Valley, 41.750, 14-6
  5. (11) Yankton, 41.500, 13-7

District 3

  1. (6) Aberdeen Central, 41.800, 13-7
  2. (14) Huron, 38.500, 7-13
  3. (16) Pierre, 38.100, 6-14
  4. (18) Mitchell, 35.350, 1-19

District 4

  1. (1) Rapid City Stevens, 44.368, 16-3
  2. (2) Rapid City Central, 44.316, 16-3
  3. (8) Douglas, 41.650, 15-5
  4. (10) Sturgis Brown, 41.650, 13-7
  5. (15) Spearfish, 38.500, 7-13

District 2 and 4 would have to play a "play-in-game" between the 4th and 5th seeds for the right to actually get into the double elimination district/region tournament. That puts seeds 7/11/10/15 of this season on the verge of elimination while seeds 18/17/16 are automatically into the district tournament with a minimum two games and a chance to get in.

Districts 2 and 4 are the strongest this season, and under the old format they would only be able to get three teams, at most, into the state tournament. Whereas District 1 and 3 would be guaranteed one team minimum in with the chance of one of the two worst teams this season getting into state.

Let's just take the base and say that each district was able to get two teams in and they were the highest seeds in their district. The tournament would be set with the 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 14th seeds. That's quite the divide from top to bottom.

The closest to the top eight that we could have seen would be if we took three teams from District 2 and 4, and only one from the other two districts. In that scenario it would be seeds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 advancing. Everything in the district/region round would have had to play out perfectly to get that.

The positive side now for the five teams that made the Round of 16 with a losing record is that have to win one game to get in. It's the beautiful part of the setup is that someone could potentially pull a one game upset. In order to do so though, they have to beat a higher seed and earn their way in. Most coaches and administrators would take that one-game chance over the expense of limiting teams due to "region" from having to knock each other out. It was a big reason why the Round of 16 was passed this past summer.

Plus another benefit is that teams won't have to beat another twice during the postseason to win a state championship. A prime example of this came a couple of years ago when Washington beat Lincoln for the District 2 Championship, but then Lincoln (who got into state by virtue of the region round/double elimination) defeated Washington in the state championship game. Under the Round of 16, we won't see this happen again.

Chances are that the tournament won't necessarily line up with the top direct 1-8 seeds advancing. There could be a couple of upsets sprinkled in with 11 teams over .500 this season. However the spots will more-so be earned as teams will have to play the best competition moving forward to a title.

That alone will make this year's tournament more exciting than prior ones.


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