A Sweet 16 seeding proposal


Posted On: 11/1/18 3:01 PM

(Cover Photo: Jake Schultz/West Central Tribune)

Le Sueur-Henderson’s 2002 football team was 10-0 after knocking off defending Class AAA champion Jackson County Central in overtime in the Section 2 semifinals.

The Giants had been ranked as one of the top-five teams at that level for basically the entire season. Their reward for advancing to the program’s first section final in more than a decade, however, was a date with another top-five team, No. 1 seed Glencoe-Silver Lake. LSH lost 28-6 to the eventual state runner-up Panthers.

That was 16 years ago, but this type of scenario repeats itself multiple times around Minnesota each season. BOLD and Minneota? Only one of those teams will qualify for the Class A State Tournament for the second-straight year because they are paired together in Section 5A.

Same can be said for Triton last season and either Caledonia or Chatfield this year, because of the strength of Section 1AA.

How about Orono and Becker in 2015? That section final was the state championship game three weeks early.

You get the picture. Teams are paired solely on geography instead of a merit-based ranking that rewards the best performing teams through the regular season and opening rounds of the playoffs.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s just “the way we’ve always done it”.

So forget everything you know about the Minnesota high school football playoffs for a minute and give a look at this proposal, which reseeds the final 16 teams at every level. It still allows every team to qualify for the playoffs (if there is actually support for this), but then throws out the regional aspect of section play once we reach the final 16 from Class AAAAAA to 9-Man.

Here’s how it works:
– Teams are evaluated on six categories: overall winning percentage, Quality Results Formula (as of 10/18), final Associated Press ranking, section seed, season point differential, and wins against other Sweet 16 teams.
– Teams are ranked 1-16 in all of the above categories (except AP ranking and section seed). The average of those rankings is taken and any tiebreakers are determined using the AP rankings and/or section seed.
– Head-to-head matchups trumped the statistical profile when two teams were nearly identical (ie: Mounds View vs East Ridge, Tartan vs Mahtomedi)
– All undefeated teams are automatically seeded higher than any teams with a loss, regardless of the rest of the statistical profile. It’s November, teams without a loss have earned it.
– No travel restrictions or neutral site locations factored into the brackets. The goal was to try and accurately seed the remaining teams, regardless of geography.

Lakeville North’s Will Mostaert has helped lead the unbeaten Panthers to the No. 1 overall seed in Class AAAAAA. (Nick Gerhardt/Northstar Football News)

1 Lakeville North vs 16 Lakeville South
8 Wayzata vs 9 Mounds View
4 Woodbury vs 13 Eastview
5 Edina vs 12 St. Michael-Albertville

3 Eden Prairie vs 14 Prior Lake
6 Rosemount vs 11 Minnetonka
7 Champlin Park vs 10 East Ridge
2 Blaine vs 15 Maple Grove

The top-four seeds are unchanged from the original bracket, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering this level is the closest to having a fully-seeded playoff field. Edina-STMA and Rosemount-Minnetonka are the two matchups from the reseeded bracket that will take place this weekend.

1 St. Thomas Academy vs 16 Andover
8 Sauk Rapids-Rice vs 9 Tartan
4 Hastings vs 13 Brainerd
5 Cooper vs 12 Cambridge-Isanti

3 Elk River vs 14 Chaska
6 Bemidji vs 11 Spring Lake Park
7 Mankato West vs 10 Mahtomedi
2 Owatonna vs 15 Northfield

A section final seeding of Class AAAAA would break up the STA-Hastings which features two of the top five teams at this level. Friday’s Section 1 matchup between Owatonna and Northfield is the only holdover contest in the reseeded bracket with the winner drawing former Big 9 rival Mankato West or Mahtomedi in the quarterfinals.

Class AAAA
1 Winona vs 16 Faribault
8 Waseca vs 9 Fridley
4 Cloquet vs 13 Delano
5 Dassel-Cokato vs 12 St. Anthony Village

3 Detroit Lakes vs 14 St. Paul Johnson
6 Willmar vs 11 Zimmerman
7 Hermantown vs 10 Benilde-St. Margaret’s
2 SMB vs 15 South St. Paul

Class AAAA is one of the levels that seems to have concentrated power in a few sections each season. This year was no different as Section 2 and Section 5 had multiple teams that were legitimate state tourney contenders. The final four teams in those groupings (SMB, DC, Waseca, BSM) would all be seeded 10 or above in this scenario. The only matchup we will see this weekend is the Section 1 title game between Winona and Faribault — a 1 vs 16 matchup in a seeded bracket.

Class AAA
1 Pierz vs 16 Cannon Falls
8 Jackson County Central vs 9 Perham
4 New London-Spicer vs 13 Two Harbors
5 Jordan vs 12 Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin

3 Mora vs 14 St. Croix Lutheran
6 Annandale vs 11 Dover-Eyota
7 Fairmont vs 10 Holy Family Catholic
2 Lourdes vs 15 East Grand Forks

The top seeds in Class AAA are the three remaining undefeated squads, followed by a quartet of one-loss teams ranked fourth through eighth. No existing matchups resurface in the seeded bracket.

Class AA
1 Caledonia vs 16 Osakis
8 Chatfield vs 9 Pillager
4 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown vs 13 Moose Lake-Willow River
5 Hawley vs 12 New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva

3 Redwood Valley vs 14 Royalton
6 Pipestone Area vs 11 Minnewaska Area
7 Paynesville Area vs 10 Barnesville
2 Minneapolis North vs 15 St. Agnes

The Class AA reseeded bracket keeps Caledonia and Minneapolis North on opposite sides, while splitting up three top-10 section final matchups across the state, including the Hawley-Barnesville matchup at the FargoDome. The North-St. Agnes game is the lone holdover contest actually being played this weekend.

Class A
1 BOLD vs 16 Randolph
8 Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg vs 9 Ada-Borup/Norman County West
4 Blooming Prairie vs 13 Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
5 Otter Tail Central vs 12 Deer River

3 Minneota vs 14 Springfield
6 United South Central vs 11 Polk County West
7 Goodhue vs 10 Murray County Central
2 Mahnomen-Waubun vs 15 Blackduck

The Class A section finals are some of the most unbalanced across the state with three matchups (Section 1, 5, 6) featuring teams both ranked inside the top nine in the Associated Press poll and the QRF score. BOLD earns the No. 1 seed just ahead of No. 2 Mahnomen-Waubun and defending champion Minneota. Instead of possibly seeing the top-three game between the Warriors and Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium later this month, we’ll see it on Friday afternoon at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall.

1 Spring Grove vs 16 Win-E-Mac
8 Houston vs 9 Hills-Beaver Creek
4 Mountain Lake Area vs 13 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton
5 Cromwell vs 12 Mountain Iron-Buhl

3 Stephen-Argyle vs 14 Ogilvie
6 South Ridge vs 11 Underwood
7 Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal vs 10 Cook County
2 Verndale vs 15 Kittson County Central

The 9-Man section layout is relatively balanced this year. Only the Cromwell-South Ridge matchup in Section 5 is a final featuring two unbeaten teams. None of the existing games are repeated in the reseeded bracket.