A for Athlete



WPIAL looks at basketball schedules for seeding final tournament[]

From February 24, 2011 West Xtra: by Rich Emert's basketball notebook [1]

The WPIAL does not have a Ratings Percentage Index for its basketball teams ... or does it?

The league doesn't have an RPI, a formula that the NCAA uses that is based on a team's winning percentage, opponents' winning percentage and opponents' opponents' winning percentage. But when seeding teams for its annual basketball tournament, which got underway last weekend, the WPIAL Basketball Steering Committee, headed by Deer Lakes athletic director Dan O'Neil, does pay attention to who teams play.

That's why Connellsville High School, with a 19-2 record, was not one of the top six seeds in boys' Class AAAA. While the Falcons record was impressive, their season resume was not.

"In determining the top eight teams in each class, the committee looks at a school's entire body of work," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said. "Dan does a wonderful job of identifying who he thinks are the top eight in classification and then he let's people [on the committee] shoot at them."

Strength of schedule, or in the WPIAL's case whether teams went out of their way to play tough opponents, is something the committee considers.

Now a team isn't penalized if it happens to compete in a section with weak teams. After all, the WPIAL places teams in sections.

That said, coaches or athletic directors are free to schedule non-section games against any school. Connellsville played Class A Geibel High School twice. That had to hurt it in the seeding process.

To the Falcons credit, they did play Class AAA Uniontown High School twice, and the Red Raiders are usually pretty good, and closed out the regular season with a non-section game against Bethel Park High School.

Deciding which teams should be seeded where is subjective and the basketball steering committee isn't afraid to go looking for some help. That's why its members check out the various rankings and polls in area publications, such as the Post-Gazette's rankings that appear in the Varsity Xtra section on Fridays during the season.

"Every one we can get ... the PG's, MSA's, everybody's," O'Malley said of the rankings. "It's just good to see what someone else's ideas are."

(Coaches who say they don't want to be ranked by the Post-Gazette might think differently after reading that.)

Identifying the top eight seeds is the most important part of the steering committee's job. That's because after that, it doesn't matter much who is seeded where.

It's rare for a No. 16 seed to make it to the Palumbo Center, although West Allegheny High School's boys did come out of the No. 16 spot to win the Class AAA title a few year's ago.