I know this isn't exactly breaking news, but I wanted to post this for those who don't know about it yet, to give my take on it, and stir up some discussion.
First a summary of what it's all about. All the info is on the NHIAA website, but I'm putting it in my own words to make it easier to understand. Class I is doing a one-year trial of a Play-off Point System, or "Imperfect Scheduling." All sports where the teams are sorted by Class will be doing this. Basically there are two parts to this:
1. Changes in how Class I schools schedule their games
2. Changes in how teams are ranked in the standings and seeded for the tournament
They did this for 2 main reasons:
1. Schedule out of class games that are close by to:
a)Reduce costs of road trips
b)Limit athletes having to leave school early for games/getting home late from games.
2. Create a more fair way to rank teams in the standings, taking into account the quality of wins, not just the total number of wins.
How it works:
Scheduling - Out of class games were scheduled to the schedule by several schools that are close to each other. We will see L v. I, I vs. M, and M vs. S matchups - and these games will count in the standings.
- Since teams will be playing less games within their class, the ones they do play will be against schools that are closer to them geographically.
Standings - With every win that a team gets, it will be worth a certain amount of points. The number of points it is worth will depend on two factors:
1. How high their opponent is class-wise
2. How good their opponent is
That's the English version. Here's the more detailed version.
1. The value of the opponent you defeat is called their Preliminary Index. Each win is worth a certain amount of points. A win over a Class L team is worth 40 points, 35 points for a Class I win, 30 for a Class M win and 25 for a win over a Class S school. Add up the points for the teams you've beaten, then divide by the number of games you've played. That's your Preliminary Index.
2. The value that ranks teams in the standings and determines tournament seeding is Tournament Index. To calculate it, take the Preliminary Index of each team you defeated and divide it by the number of games you played. The higher a team's Tournament Index is, the higher they'll be ranked in the standings.
-There's a list of things that determine ties, however with this format I highly doubt you're going to see any ties, since a team's Tournament Index will be going into something like 123.47024, instead of just a simple 10-8 record.
What can I say? It's a great idea. Reduce distance of road trips, and at the same time creating a more fair way to rank the teams in the standings. Plus we get to see some exciting non-class matchups...and they'll actually count! Where do I sign up?
What I really like is that within classes, a win is still not worth the same amount, it depends on what class the team you beat is in AND how strong that team is. So for example, if you're Dover for example, a win over Portsmouth will be worth more than a win over St. Thomas. True, the Green Wave might still choose to schedule St. Thomas instead of Portsmouth because they're more likely to beat them, and if they lose they don't get any points. But that's the risk you take. Besides, this is how it works in the NCAA, when coaches are making their non-conference schedule. Especially teams who are likely to make the NCAA tournament. The selection committee looks at quality of wins and strength of schedule. So does Rick Pitino schedule a game vs. Pittsburgh or Oregon State? His Louisville team is more likely to beat Oregon State, but if they do beat Pittsburgh, they'll certainly get a higher seed in the tournament. Plus they'll be more battle tested and "Tournament Ready" if they play Pitt, especially if it's on the road.
The only negative I can think of with the Heal Point System is this: simplicity. It is so much easier to just keep track of wins and losses. To say, "Coe-Brown was 7-6 before tonight, they lost, so now they're 7-7." And for scheduling it's much easier to just say, "We're one of the 23 schools in Class I. We have 18 games, so we'll play the 18 schools that are closest to us, if we played them at home last year we'll play them away this year and vice-versa, and we'll just not play the other 4 schools."
The old system was much more simple, and required less thining, less calculating. But simpler isn't always better. This might be a little more work for A.D.'s and coaches to make their schedules, and for media and fans to try and figure out where teams rank in the standings, but it's worth it. This system creates more strategy on the part of the A.D.'s and coaches when scheduling games, cuts costs for the schools, less class time is missed by the athletes, they get home earlier from games, we get to see some exciting non-class games and those games actually count, and we have a more fair way of ranking the teams in the standings. The new system might not be a simple one, but it is a better one.