The mysteries of state tournament bracket seeding

By Sheila Miller
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 5/9/19

Baseball athletes work hard all season. Then, as soon as the in-field dust settles on the regular season, baseball state tournament brackets are announced.And this …

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The mysteries of state tournament bracket seeding

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Baseball athletes work hard all season. Then, as soon as the in-field dust settles on the regular season, baseball state tournament brackets are announced.

And this year, Taos won't be one of the 16 teams competing this year in the 4A state tournament May 16-18 in Albuquerque. It landed in the 17th spot.

But how?

As Taos Tiger baseball fans know, the Tigers were 14-12 overall in the 2019 season. They were one game away from winning the district with a 9-3 district record and 1-2 against Los Alamos, who took the top spot in Class 4A District 2. If Taos had beat them one more time, the Tigers would have won the district.

Looking at the bracket, one might wonder how Valencia High School, who finished last in the Class 4A District 5 with a 1-7 district record and a 12-13 record overall, made the tournament when Taos didn't.

Here is the answer.

NMAA Criteria

The New Mexico Activities Association uses six equally weighted criteria to determine the seeding of tournament brackets. Following are the criteria and how the points were are computed in the case of Taos versus Valencia.

Overall record. Taos' record was 14-12 and Valencia's was 12-13. Point goes to Taos.

Finish in district. Taos was second of five in District 2 while Valencia was fifth of five in District 5. Point goes to Taos.

Wins against district champions, regardless of class. Taos beat Los Alamos once and Socorro (a district champion in 3A) once, for a total of two wins against district champions. Valencia had no wins against district champions. Point to Taos.

Maxpreps Ranking. Maxpreps is a for-profit enterprise owned by CBS Corporation that catalogues high school athletics data. The algorithm that they use to generate rankings among teams is undisclosed, but they do not use opinions of coaches, players, sportswriters or webpage comments as input. It does use, among other things, difficulty of schedule, which means that just playing better teams, whether beating them or not, is favorable to the algorithm. The Maxpreps ranking of Valencia among Class 4A school in New Mexico is 14 while Taos is ranked 21. Point goes to Valencia.

School input (coaches forms). Coaches send their opinions on the best teams in the state to the NMAA who compiles the data into a list organized by the number of points each team received. According to the partial list The Taos News obtained for Class 4A, Valencia was 14th and Taos 17th. This point went to Valencia.

Head-to-head competition. Taos and Valencia did not play one another, so this criterion did not apply. In cases of a tie, the results of this criterion are used to break the tie.

In the matchup between Valencia and Taos, Taos wins 3-2.

Why is Valencia in the bracket over Taos?

According to the NMAA, by the time they were considering Taos and Valencia, there were two other schools also being considered: Hope Christian and Bloomfield.

Taos had a better overall record, better district placement and better performance against district champions than both teams.

However, both teams are ranked higher than Taos on Maxpreps and the coaches' poll, and Taos lost to each team early in the season. As the head-to-head competitions are used as the tie-breaker, according to the NMAA's seeding system, Taos versus Hope and Taos versus Bloomfield result in ties, each of which Taos lost.

Valencia beat Hope Christian on criteria and tied and 3-3 with Bloomfield on criteria but beat each of them during the season, so Valencia wins both ties.

None of the four teams beat all three of the others, so the schools were ranked 1- 4 on all six criteria and that data was used to break the tie.

Taos was left with memories of a great season, but no berth at state.

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