I was able to cover some events this week without wearing gloves, which already puts us ahead of last year’s pace, weather-wise.
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Several weeks ago, I described the new football format the state is adopting next year, with a nine-game regular season and expanded playoffs.
There will now be five rounds of playoffs, as opposed to the old four rounds. This required dropping one week of the regular season, as the football season can’t start any earlier and the state would like to get the state champions crowned before Christmas.
Now, eight teams from each region will advance to the playoffs, instead of four. And any teams left out will be scheduled a game against another team which didn’t reach the postseason, so everyone gets at least 10 games.
I wrote then that I would give my thoughts on the new format at a later date. Well, this is a later date.
More teams in the playoffs is a good thing; football is the only Maryland team sport without an open playoff system (in which every team advances to the playoffs) for obvious reasons.
(Myself and others still waxing nostalgic for the days when you had to earn a playoff spot — only the top four in each region in every sport — notwithstanding.)
One problem is the likelihood of some real one-sided blowouts in the early rounds, but, heck, we get that under the current system.
It will solve the problem of teams in super-competitive regions getting left out of the playoffs while teams in weaker regions with inferior records reach the postseason.
Like, say, when Patapsco finished 9-1 in 2014 but didn’t make the playoffs. It will mainly help some of the stacked west regions, where nearly every year a worthy playoff team stays home.
The regular season will still be important, as the top team battle for high seeds and the home field advantage, and the teams near the bottom of the standings fight to not be among the few in each region to not make the cut.
And while upsets are rare in football — trust me, after all my years of covering the sport, it’s usually a matter of a superior team drubbing a weaker team — they do happen. It will be interesting to wait for the first time an eighth or seventh seed knocks off a first or second seed.
Ultimately, it’s another week of playoff football. I call that a win.
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Well, my prediction of Virginia winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is looking good.
Yes, it’s a No. 1 seed and not exactly a dark horse. It’s still a university that hasn’t made the Final Four since Ralph Sampson was in the starting lineup, and made history last season by being on the wrong end of a historic upset.
(As a Towson U. grad, I’ll refrain from saying more; except that, well, we beat the team Virginia couldn’t.)