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Here's one way to put the CAL Tournament together

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This year the Cape-Atlantic League has expanded its basketball tournament from six teams to eight. Last year’s event was a big success and increasing the number of games from five to seven in each tournament should be even more fun.

The champions of the American, National and United conferences will automatically qualify for the tournament. So will the second place teams in each conference. Then two wild card teams will be added to create the eight-team field.

The selection of the two wild cards and the seeding of the eight teams will be done by a highly-qualified committee of athletics directors. You can be sure that they have already spent a lot of time evaluating the teams and considering their decisions. The CAL basketball committee will meet on Friday to make preliminary decisions and will then announce its final tournament and consolation pairings next Wednesday (Feb. 13). We do not know what criteria they will use and neither do they. We do know that they take this responsibility seriously and will do a thorough job.

But the argument here is that there should be as little judgment in these decisions as possible. Like the NJSIAA does with its tournaments, all of the criteria should be clearly spelled out in advance so that coaches can actually figure out where they stand. One of the extra benefits of the NJSIAA football or basketball tournaments is those final few games before the deadline when coaches know what their team needs to do and what else has to happen for them to achieve a higher seeding or to qualify.

Here is one idea.

The three conference champions should be seeded 1-3, with the order based on their overall NJSIAA power rating, divided by the number of games they have played. These teams should be rewarded for their season-long battle to win their conferences with more than just a trophy.

The three second place teams are seeded 4-6 using the same system for the exact seeding. And the two wild card teams will be the two remaining teams with the highest per-game power rating.

As of Monday, this is the way that would work out.

In boys basketball, Atlantic City (33.6) would be the No. 1 seed, Middle Township (25.5) No. 2 and Wildwood Catholic (22.7) would be third.

Moving to the second place teams, St. Augustine (28.4) would be the No. 4 seed, Holy Spirit (19.7) No. 5 and Sacred Heart (15.4) No. 6.

The wild card teams would be Hammonton (21.3) as the No. 7 seed and Egg Harbor Township (19.7) as No. 8.

The first round pairings would be EHT at Atlantic City, Hammonton at Middle Township, Sacred Heart at Wildwood Catholic and Holy Spirit at St. Augustine.

There are, of course, 9-10 more days of games and a lot of things could change. By the way, when two teams tie for a position in the same conference (like Middle and The Prep) it seems fair and simple to break the tie by the point differential in their two games. Normally dealing with point spreads could encourage running up a score but it’s not a sportsmanship issue when two teams are so closely matched and it allows the tie to be broken on the court.

Using this system for girls, Ocean City (26.5) would be the No. 1 seed, Cedar Creek (25.4) No. 2 and Holy Spirit (24.0) No. 3. The second place teams would find Middle Township (26.3) seeded No. 4, Sacred Heart (19.5) No. 5 and Millville (16.8) No. 6. The wild card teams would be St. Joseph (18.6) and Atlantic City (16.9).

First round girls games would find Atlantic City at Ocean City, St. Joseph at Cedar Creek, Millville at Holy Spirit and Sacred Heart at Middle Township.    

These are the pairings this system would create coming into this week but, again, there are quite a few important games still to be played that might change the outcome.

Maybe this system isn’t the best one. Maybe you have a better set of criteria to put this tournament together.

That’s fine. It just seems it would be better if everybody knew in advance exactly what will determine who makes the lineup and how they will be seeded.


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