The N.C. High School Athletic Association stated at its most recent meetings that it would hold off on implementing the "pod system" or any other seeded format for other 64-team playoff brackets.
And for sure, there were certainly a few kinks to be worked out after an opening day of fiasco when the brackets were announced, most notably when the NCHSAA did not clearly state how it was going to select its wild-card teams. Click on that link for all that info.
But feedback on the pod system was, at least from those who have spoken to this writer, positive once the games began. First-round rematches were minimal - just 24 of 128 first-round games statewide, as my study showed.
And besides, many coaches have been chomping at the bit to have some sort of seeded playoffs. They're tired of conference seeding deciding whether or not a team should play home or away, as well as sides of the bracket that can sometimes pit some of the top teams against one another as early as the second round.
Now, let's do the same for softball, baseball and girls soccer, and see what we find.
Let's start with girls soccer. Its major criticism this year is having the No. 1 team in the nation, Green Hope, play two road games based on the random drawing before the season that decides a pecking order for conferences should two teams of equal conference standing meet. (note: Richmond County and Scotland County would be in the midwest under this alignment due to Southeast Guilford and Southern Alamance making the playoffs)
2012 Girls Soccer playoffs, formatted with 64-team pod system
|1. Green Hope (1-seeds)||1. Leesville Road (1-seeds)|
|2. Southern Pines Pinecrest||2. Wilmington Hoggard|
|3. Fayetteville Terry Sanford||3. West Johnston|
|4. East Chapel Hill||4. Millbrook (2-seeds)|
|5. Southeast Guilford (2-seeds)||5. Cary|
|6. Fayetteville Jack Britt||6. New Hanover|
|7. Lumberton||7. Garner|
|8. Jordan||8. Wilmington Ashley (3-seeds)|
|9. Apex (3-seeds)||9. Broughton|
|10. Fayetteville Pine Forest||10. Knightdale|
|11. Riverside||11. New Bern (4-seeds)|
|12. Holly Springs (4-seeds)||12. Wakefield|
|13. Hope Mills South View||13. Clayton|
|14. Northern Durham||14. Sanderson (5-seeds)|
|15. Southern Alamance||15. East Wake|
|16. Panther Creek (5-seeds)||16. Fuquay-Varina (wild card)|
Based on what transpired this season and in the postseason, the likely teams meeting in the sectional championships would be 2-Pinecrest and 1-Green Hope in the Mideast and 2-Wilmington Hoggard at 1-Leesville Road for the East. The East final would've most likely have been Leesville Road at Green Hope.
THE GOOD: The pod would move Raleigh schools into the East pod, which addresses the main complain every year in soccer -- that the top Triangle conferences take each other out too soon. The unbeaten & untied #1 team in the nation doesn't ever have to leave home, as it should be.
THE BAD: Three intraconference games in the first round, out of 16 first-round games.
2012 Baseball, formatted with 64-team pod system
(Note #1 - Southern Alamance and Southeast Guilford are more east than Scotland and Richmond County, which is why they're here. Note #2 - Three pairs of teams finished with identical records and conference rank, which is why they are shown side-by-side in two spots)
|1. Southeast Guilford (1-seeds)||1. West Johnston (1-seeds)|
|2. East Chapel Hill/Green Hope||2. New Bern|
|3. East Chapel Hill/Green Hope||3. Wakefield|
|4. Fayetteville Terry Sanford||4. Wilmington Ashley (2-seeds)|
|5. Southern Alamance (2-seeds)||5. Leesville Road|
|6. Jordan||6. Fayetteville Cape Fear|
|7. Middle Creek||7. Garner|
|8. Fuquay-Varina (3-seeds)||8. Greenville Rose (3-seeds)|
|9. Riverside||9. Millbrook|
|10. Southern Pines Pinecrest||10. Knightdale|
|11. Fayetteville Jack Britt||11. Wilmington Hoggard (4-seeds)|
|12. Lumberton (4-seeds)||12. Clayton/Sanderson|
|13. Apex||13. Clayton/Sanderson|
|14. Northern Durham/South View||14. Wake Forest-Rolesville (5-seeds)|
|15. Northern Durham/South View||15. Smithfield-Selma|
|16. Holly Springs (5-seeds)||16. Wilmington Laney (wild-cards)|
This one's a bit tougher to figure out what would have happened. Baseball is unpredictable even with a full season and almost completed postseason to use as a basis.
But for argument's sake, let's say #1 Southeast Guilford (which lost in the 2nd round) loses to #16 Holly Springs (which upset Wakefield in the 1st round this year) and from then on you get 8-Fuquay-Varina to face 7-Middle Creek for the Mideast and either 7-Millbrook or 4-Wilmington Ashley against 2-New Bern in the East.
Middle Creek against Ashley or Millbrook would make for an entertaining series to decide which one goes to the state title, and you would think Middle Creek would win.
THE GOOD: Every seed matters in baseball, where the talent is spread evenly around the state. This makes sure you don't see tough first-round games like ones we saw this year with Wakefield-Holly Springs, Apex-Jordan, Rose-Garner or West Johnston-Hoggard. Remember, four No. 1 seeds went down in the first round this year.
THE BAD: Could be as many as four intraconference first-round games, or as few as two. Travel doesn't appear to be minimized very much, but I haven't done the math yet.
2012 Softball, formatted with 64-team pod system
(Note: Southern Alamance and Southeast Guilford are more east than Scotland and Richmond County)
|1. Holly Springs (1-seeds)||1. Wake Forest-Rolesville (1-seeds)|
|2. Pembroke Swett||2. Garner|
|3. Hope Mills South View||3. Wilmington Laney|
|4. Southeast Guilford||4. West Johnston (2-seeds)|
|5. Person||5. Wilmington Ashley|
|6. Fayetteville Jack Britt (2-seeds)||6. Leesville Road|
|7. Apex||7. Middle Creek (3-seeds)|
|8. Southern Alamance||8. Fayetteville Cape Fear|
|9. Riverside||9. Millbrook|
|10. East Chapel Hill (3-seeds)||10. Clayton|
|11. Southern Pines Pinecrest||11. Greenville Rose|
|12. Fuquay-Varina (4-seeds)||12. Knightdale (4-seeds)|
|13. Fayetteville Pine Forest||13. New Hanover|
|14. Northern Durham||14. Wakefield|
|15. Lee County (5-seeds)||15. Heritage (5-seeds)|
|16. Green Hope (wild-cards)||16. East Wake|
Under this alignment, you would probably expect 1-Holly Springs to host 6-Jack Britt the Mideast and whoever emerged from the 2-Garner/7-Middle Creek/3-Laney side of the bracket would play Wilmington Ashley for the East.
Considering how Britt and Holly Springs are playing right now for the regional crown, it would be one of those teams advancing to the state title game, not the trio of eastern squads.
THE GOOD: Good teams in good conferences reap rewards, even if they're not a conference champ. Fuquay-Varina and Apex would have winnable first- and second- round games. Also, this has just one intraconference first-round game (Green Hope at Holly Springs).
THE BAD: Wow, FIVE 1-seeds in the Mideast plus Jack Britt! This is the only one of the three spring sports brackets that looks more lopsided in one half's talent than in the slotted system, and maybe that's because softball is one a few sports where the Cap-8 and Raleigh schools don't add as much firepower to the East pod.