High School Basketball

‘We’ve gotta look at seeding this thing.’ Sweet Sixteen coach sounds off on state tournament.

Girls’ Sweet Sixteen tournament tips off in Rupp Arena

See action from the 2019 KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen state basketball tournament, which tipped off for the first time ever in Rupp Arena on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.
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See action from the 2019 KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen state basketball tournament, which tipped off for the first time ever in Rupp Arena on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

Fans opine frequently on Twitter that the Sweet Sixteen basketball tournaments should be seeded. At least one girls’ basketball coach in the state thinks it should be, too.

Murray Coach Wyatt Foust unprompted during a Wednesday press conference following his team’s first-round loss to Ryle suggested that it’s time for the KHSAA to consider seeding the state tournament.

“We had an awesome regular season, and I think at some point we’ve gotta look at seeding this thing,” Foust said. “Tomorrow, Male and Boyd (County) are gonna play at 1:30 on Thursday.”

Male and Boyd County were ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the final Cantrall Ratings before the Sweet Sixteen. Boyd was No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll while Male was ranked 10th (although five teams ranked ahead of them lost prior to the Sweet Sixteen).

Six of the tournament’s top 10 teams, per the Cantrall Ratings, were in the top part of the bracket, and two of them — No. 7 Bethlehem and No. 8 Mercy Academy — were eliminated after the first day. Another will go home Thursday between Boyd and Male; the victory will be a big favorite to reach the championship round Sunday.

“No offense to anyone else in that bracket, and someone else very well may come out of there, but it’s just to the point now where we have enough ways to do it between coaches polls, computer rankings,” Foust said. “I know some people are like, ‘Well it won’t be perfect,’ but I think anything is better than nothing as far as that goes. I just think it’s time to start the conversation.

Murray in the first round last year fell to Mercer County in the first round; both were ranked in the Cantrall top five, and Mercer County went on to win its second straight title.

The KHSAA recently approved limited RPI seeding, with a geographic element to help alleviate travel, that will go into effect for its high school football championships this fall. Only the third round and semifinals will be seeded, and so far it is the only team sport for which the KHSAA intends to adopt seeding. KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett in January said that the RPI formula throughout the season would be viewable for other sports, but it would have no practical implementation.

“There’s only one end of the season state tournament and teams work so hard to get there,” Foust said. “It’s such a hard thing to do that when you get there, what you did should be rewarded. ... Maybe if the draw’s a little different I’d be singing a different tune, (but) I do think we’re at the point now where we have the tools to do it and we need to start looking at doing it.”

A Ryle-Murray first-round matchup, at least when seeding with the Cantrall Ratings, would not have been too far out of the cards this year; the Raiders were ranked No. 2 and Murray was No. 13. Those rankings would have pitted the Tigers against Boyd County in the first round.

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