Leave it to Texas' University Interscholastic League to bumble a simple playoff seeding exercise. Rather than use power ratings or other statistical tiebreakers to differentiate between teams with identical winning percentages, UIL uses a coin flip.
That's right, the state's semifinal matchups are determined by winning percentage and coin flip. According to the Dallas Morning News' Corbett Smith, this year's top two Class 4A squads were Dallas (Texas) Kimball High, pictured above, and Forth Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights High, with Kimball finishing at 36-3 and Arlington Heights at 33-3. The two teams those favorites will face are 33-4 LaMarque (Texas) High and 22-16 Cedar Park (Texas) High.
Rather than automatically pitting Kimball against Cedar Park -- i.e., the best winning percentage against the worst -- UIL instead leaves it to random chance to determine if that matchup occurs. And the difference between the two opponents couldn't be more stark.
While both LaMarque and Cedar Park have accomplished plenty by reaching the state semifinals, LaMarque comes from the Houston area and may have faced the state's toughest playoff path -- it beat national power Houston (Texas) Yates High and highly touted Galveston (Texas) Ball High already in the 2011 tournament -- en route to its semifinal berth.
Cedar Park, meanwhile, barely squeaked into the tournament with a record of just 17-16 before the start of the playoffs. It's also a winded team, having survived four overtimes to get past Kerrville (Texas) Tivy High in the tournament's second round.
Luckily for UIL, Kimball won the "Cedar Park jackpot," meaning that the winning percentages actually matched up in correctly bracketed form, with the highest winning percentage meeting the lowest. Yet it was only pure, random chance that allowed that to happen.
If it hadn't worked out that way, Kimball would have had an extremely credible argument that it had been wronged, forced to face an extraordinarily tough LaMarque team only to emerge exhausted for a matchup against (one would assume) Arlington Heights ... if it even got past LaMarque at all.
Now that gauntlet will have to be run by Arlington Heights itself, which is probably as it should be, thanks in part to UIL's always confounding logic.
- Cedar Park