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Ratings index will now seed high school playoffs

Jul 29, 2019 02:53PM ● By Greg James

State high school playoffs will have a revamped seeding system this season. The change will give every team the opportunity to be part of its state tournament. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

The Utah High School Activities Association will determine seeds differently this year for its team sports. The impact of the change and its perception is still to be determined.

“It will begin with team sports this fall,” UHSAA Assistant Director Jeff Cluff said. “The RPI will be revealed after the season begins and be open until one week prior to the postseason. As the tournament approaches, we will reveal the final RPI and tournament bracket together.”

The RPI is a performance-based rating dependent upon the teams’ winning percentage, the opponents’ winning percentage and the opponents'-opponents’ winning percentage. A mathematical equation will be used to determine the teams’ seeds for its upcoming state tournament.

The RPI will be used in team sports such as football, soccer, volleyball, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, softball and drill. It is a system successfully used in several neighboring states like Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

“Each sport will have its own reveal date and bracket release,” Cluff said.

Every classification team will be part of the postseason tournament. Teams will be seeded into the bracket, with lower seeds playing higher seeds in the early rounds. Several teams that were left out of postseason tournaments will now have the opportunity to win a state title. 

The official RPI rankings will be available on The MaxPreps power ranking and Deseret News rankings are different than the RPI used by the UHSAA.

“Those are more of a power ranking rather than a rating percentage index,” Cluff said. “It is completely different; our RPI is based on this particular year only, whereas the max preps takes into account the history of the team.”

In theory, a weak schedule could affect a team’s placement in the state tournament bracket. Also, region championships and standings will have no bearing on the state tournament pairings.

“You will definitely need to look at the big picture,” Cyprus head boys basketball coach Tre Smith said. “You will need to climb up the rankings throughout the year. I am interested to see how much respect our region gets and if wining region games will matter as far as rankings go.”

“We have a lot of inquiries,” Cluff said. “I think people are anxious to see how it is going to work and how it will affect scheduling. I think they are most anxious because of the disruption from the norm. It is completely different than what we have done before. Teams knew that if they won their region, they would compete here in the first round. A Region 1 school could be matched up with Region 4. It was all predetermined and now it is not the case anymore.”    

One example was the 6A football championship last season. The four and five seeds (Pleasant Grove and East) matched up in the first round. That should not have occurred in theory until later in the tournament. 

“The new RPI system did give us reason to change a couple preseason games,” Riverton head basketball coach Skyler Wilson said. “We ended up changing four games against opponents that I think will be ranked higher. I’m excited for this change because our path to the tournament will depend on how we play our whole schedule.” 

Another aspect of the rating is the classification adjustment. A large school scheduling all small schools will be penalized slightly. A schedule overloaded with small school powerhouses is discouraged by the UHSAA, but teams are still encouraged to schedule rivals. 

“I think the classification adjustment is important,” Cluff said. “A lot of people do not understand that a bigger school playing a smaller school— it became necessary for us to throw in a classification adjustment. We do not think scheduling will be done any differently. There is a misconception that if you only play the good teams your rating will be higher.”