A look into seeding football brackets

What would this year’s WIAA football playoffs look like if a computer ranking determined the matchups?

Earlier this fall season, we noted how the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) was looking into changing how it fills its brackets for all team sports.

Last school year, the WIAA used an RPI system to fill the state basketball tournament. Beginning next school year, it is quite possible all team sports with use a similar system.

So we thought it would be fun to take a computer ranking and use that to seed this year’s football playoffs.

We have the real brackets, plus the brackets that could have been.

4A Brackets. Click to view PDF.
3A Brackets. Click to view PDF.
2A Brackets. Click to view PDF.
1A Brackets. Click to view PDF.

For the sake of this exercise, we will use our friend the ScoreCzar’s computer rankings. It should be noted that the computer rankings would not be the exact same as an RPI. But here is hoping it would be close.

Also, as the folks at CascadiaPreps.com noted in a Twitter discussion, the WIAA might be wise to form a committee to seed the brackets, after using the RPI as a guideline. That way, humans could possibly change a ranking or two, if something looks out of kilter.

For example, the ScoreCzar still has Camas ranked higher than Union. Both teams had the same record, with Camas having a tougher non-league schedule, which is why Camas got the edge with the numbers. However, Union beat Camas. So perhaps the committee could take that into account and flip their rankings.

Camas is opening the Class 4A state high school football playoffs with a road game. If a RPI system was used this year, as it will be in the future, the Papermakers could have been at home in the first round. Photo by Mike Schultz
Camas is opening the Class 4A state high school football playoffs with a road game. If a RPI system was used this year, as it will be in the future, the Papermakers could have been at home in the first round. Photo by Mike Schultz

Again, it’s all in theory.

For this look into our future, we won’t be changing any of the ScoreCzar’s rankings. We’ll just see where it places the 16 teams that made it to state.

It is important to note that RPI would not be used to determine state berths. Teams will qualify through district and cross-district playoff games, as they do now, and the 16 survivors would then be seeded.

Oh, and if there are those wondering if the WIAA still cares about limiting long-distance travel for early round games, that is no longer a factor. Camas is going to Spokane for the opening round of the real bracket. Pullman is coming to Clark County to face Hockinson.

Now for a look at the possibilities, courtesy of the ScoreCzar’s rankings:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/16YSIstkcQnmQvpBOFi-74zDUkEZypIM-pDZXROkf–U/edit#gid=974126765

For our local teams, there are some big changes.

For one, Camas would not be traveling to Spokane today. The Papermakers would still be playing Central Valley, but it would be a home game. Camas is seeded No. 4, while Central Valley is No. 13

Union, at No. 7, would still get a first-round home game, but it would be playing Puyallup instead of Sumner.

After the first round, all home games would continue to be played with the team with the best seed getting the home game. None of this “bottom of the bracket” is the home team stuff.  

In Class 3A, the theoretical brackets would send Mountain View on the road in the opening round. In real life, the Thunder play Peninsula at home. The computer rankings have those teams at Nos. 12 and 13. Mountain View, under this computer-generated bracket, would be on the road against O’Dea.

In Class 2A, Hockinson would be a No. 3 seed after its 10-0 season. The Hawks would host Lynden. Instead, they are hosting Pullman on Friday afternoon. This is not a huge change. Pullman is one seed better than Lynden among the 16 teams in the bracket.

For 1A, La Center would see a big change to its plans. La Center’s two losses to two 2A teams in the regular season, especially the one against a 5-5 team, crashed the rating. The Wildcats are No. 10 on the computer. Instead of a home game against Mount Baker, the Wildcats would be on the road at Connell.

Just something fun to look forward to in 2018. It is not official but most expect some sort of seeding system in the future.

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About The Author

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Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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