The Quad-A Seeding, A Tough Task
By Steve Brodzinski – Pittsburgh Basketball Report
What if your coach told you that if you go undefeated, win your section, and finish the season 19-2, that you would be a #6 seed heading into the playoffs? That would make most players and coaches crazy. Well that is what happened to Hempfield, coming out of Class AAAA section 1 unblemished, with their only losses of the season coming to Class AA #2 Greensburg Central Catholic and Class A #1 Lincoln Park. That is how weak the committee viewed section 1 to be this season. On the flipside, New Castle was given the #1 seed, Hampton the #2 seed, and North Allegheny the #3 seed. That is how strong the seeding committee viewed Class AAAA section 3, consisting of New Castle, Hampton, North Allegheny, Pine Richland, Seneca Valley, North Hills, Butler, and Shaler.
New Castle has not lost a regular season game in three years. Hampton and North Allegheny have been almost as strong, and besides beating up on each other, the three teams did not see much competition this season, and they were rewarded. After New Castle being seeded first, every seed is debatable, including the 2 and 3 seeds. North Allegheny and Hampton both lost to New Castle this season, and then split with each other. Some would say that NA should be #2 because it more recently beat Hampton while they were at full strength. Some would say that Hampton deserves its #2 seed, because it gave New Castle much closer games than North Allegheny. Regardless, the debate goes deeper after first three seeds.
Plum was given the #4 seed, Upper St. Clair was given the #5 seed, and Hempfield as mentioned came in at #6. Plum most likely deserves the #4 seed as they won section 2, which is the second best section in Class AAAA. Upper St. Clair won section 4, but it may have been one of the worst years in terms of talent in section 4 for quite some time. USC had a 12-2 section record, and a 16-6 overall record, and was still seeded above Hempfield with a perfect section record and 19-2 overall record. Section 1 is admittedly bad, but that bad? Kiski Area received the same type of fate, as they finished second in section 1 with a 10-2 record and 15-5 overall record, and ended up coming in at a #13 seed having to face #4 seed Plum in the first round.
Yet, in the end, this is how seeding works. This is why a team like Wichita State or Creighton needs to go nearly unblemished to even make the top 25 in college basketball. When you play in a weaker section/conference, the wins and losses can skew the actual talent level of the team, when you are beating up on lesser competition, while other teams are being challenged game in and game out. If anything, teams like Hempfield and Kiski Area should play with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, to prove how good they really are as they enter the playoffs. I think the committee’s only mistake was putting Hempfield behind USC, and putting Kiski Area so low. I would have had Hempfield #5 and Kiski Area as a #11 seed. In the end, expect Section 3 to be dominating the finals once again, with a possible New Castle vs. North Allegheny/Hampton final. Yet, we will have to see if teams representing sections 1, 2, and 4, like Hempfield, can make a run for Palumbo.