For as long as there have been high school sports, there have been debates about how to run state tournaments.
Often one region is particularly good in one sport, while another league struggles. How to make things match up as fairly as possible for the playoffs is a challenge.
In order to attempt to set things up so the top teams meet in the semifinals and the finals, the Utah High School Activities Association announced Thursday that it will go to using a ratings percentage index (RPI) to seed teams in some of its sports.
The change will occur at the start of the 2019-20 season, coinciding with the implementation of the latest realignment.
The press release explained that the RPI will be run by MaxPreps and will factor in three categories:
- Winning percentage (40 percent)
- Opponents’ winning percentage (40 percent)
- Opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage (20 percent)
Supporters of RPI usage often say it’s a fairer way to recognize teams that compete against better opponents, while detractors say it takes too much away from actually winning games and instead relies on what other teams do.
Here is the complete press release from the UHSAA:
“The Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) will be determining seeds into state tournaments differently in the coming years for the traditional team sports of baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball.
“In a meeting on January 24, the UHSAA Board of Trustees ratified a unanimous UHSAA Executive Committee directive to move to a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) to seed state tournaments in the traditional team sports, while simultaneously inviting every program in team sports to the postseason. The new seeding tournament format will commence with the 2019-21 alignment, beginning in the Fall 2019 season for all six classifications.
“The RPI score will be operated by MaxPreps and will be based on three distinct categories — forty percent of the score will be based off a team’s winning percentage, forty percent will be based off an opponent’s winning percentage, and twenty percent will be based off an opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. The algorithm will then create an index score that can be ranked to determine a state tournament field.
“Several western states are currently utilizing an RPI system to seed state tournaments, including neighboring states like Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Washington.
“Rob Cuff, the Executive Director of the UHSAA, said the move to the RPI was decided upon after looking at options to more accurately seed state tournaments.
“’It has become a growing issue in the realignment of member schools to have the alignment process directly connected to the qualifying and seeding of state tournaments,’ he said.
“Cross Country, tennis, track-and-field and wrestling will use a traditional region-qualifying format, while golf, drill and swimming will use different methods to qualify teams for state tournaments. Every tournament will be conducted similarly, with the potential addition of a round to allow for the increase in team participants.
“Cuff said the change in seeding teams into state tournaments will provide new opportunities to several programs around the state.
“’This new approach in qualifying and seeding will bring added excitement to state tournaments as teams earn seeding based on overall season performance and not just region competition,’ he said.”