While Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoff changes have made the most noise, the basketball playoff system is also being tweaked at the district level.
Starting in the 2019-20 school year, the seeding format for boys and girls basketball will place the top two teams in every district on opposite sides of the bracket. That guarantees those two teams will not play each other before the district title game.
“We aren’t guaranteeing those will be the home teams or are getting byes, we’re strictly guaranteeing they will be on opposite sides of the bracket,” MHSAA spokesperson Geoff Kimmerly said.
The district pairings will be set two weeks before the postseason begins. Teams not seeded first or second will be randomly placed in the district bracket.
The change was approved at the MHSAA annual spring meeting May 5-6.
U-D Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly has earned seven straight district championship victories and six straight regional titles. He also won a state championship in 2016 on a team led by current Michigan State guard Cassius Winston.
Donnelly likes the new format.
“We have been in the situation where we play quality teams in the first round, and then the district final isn’t competitive,” Donnelly said. “I just hope the formula for seeding these teams is accurate.”
The top seeds will be determined by a Michigan Power Ratings computer formula, similar to the RPI in college basketball. The MPR works like this: 25 percent is the team’s record; 50 percent is the opponent’s winning percentage; 25 percent is the winning percentage of the teams that those specific opponents play.
Games against out-of-state teams or non-MHSAA opponents will not count in the MPR.
“Using the Michigan Power Ratings, we will determine those top two teams and put them on opposite sides of the bracket,” Kimmerly said. “It’s seeding, but there is a limit to it.”
One example of the top two teams in a district playing in the opening round of the Division 1 districts last season was Flint Carman-Ainsworth and Grand Blanc.
Grand Blanc won, 40-39, and cruised to a district title with wins over Davison and Lapeer.
Boys and girls soccer will follow the same district seeding process as basketball.
Notable MHSAA changes
► Football will use a playoff points system, starting in 2020, to determine its 32 postseason teams in each division, rather than relying on the previous six-win benchmark.
► Starting in 2019, football teams will be limited to six hours of full-pads collision contact per week in the preseason, and 30 minutes per week during the season.
► The football finals will allow limited review of scoring players or potential scoring players, or of turnovers or of potential turnovers.
► In boys basketball, girls basketball, boys soccer and girls soccer, a seeding will be used in the postseason so that the top two seeds are on opposite sides of the bracket.
► In boys and girls golf, competitors can use cell phones for distancing-measuring. Also in golf, the maximum score per hole will be 12, in an effort to speed up play.
► In the hopes of boosting its dwindling official pool, the Student Officials Legacy Program is expanded to include freshmen and sophomores at least 14 years old.