Why We Don’t See Class AA vs. A Basketball More Often in South Dakota
Lincoln and Tea Area met in front of a jam-packed Sanford Pentagon in a highly anticipated matchup between the top teams in each class. Why don't we see that more?
The idea of cross-class games always draws up hypothetical conversations of which team is superior. We typically don't have a way to find out, but thanks to classics that are put on around the state, like the one this past weekend at the Sanford Pentagon, we have a small chance to sometimes see those matchups.
West River schools tend to play a lot more Class AA/A games throughout the season. The main reason for it is travel scenarios and conference alignment. Schools like Sturgis and Spearfish sometimes elect to play around 6-10 games of the season against Class A schools because of it. Life is a little different out there in regards to scheduling.
On the eastern part of the state, that's a different story. Class AA is an 18-team class where 13 of the teams are situated right on the river or east of it. That makes scheduling a lot easier, and we have seen AA teams scheduling more games against its class with the implementation of the SoDak 16. In regards to Sioux Falls schools, that has filled about a 3-5 game void that they previously were missing.
So if a Class AA school has an opening in the schedule, why don't they turn more to local Class A schools? It's because the Class AA schools are penalized for playing lower classes. Class AA schools are docked two points for playing a Class A school and three points for a game against a Class B school. What that equates to is that Lincoln's loss to undefeated Tea Area was like a loss to a Class AA team that has a current winning percentage of .500-.749. Based on the system, the Class AA schools don't have a strong reason to schedule those games. This system works though because it promotes schools to play games within its classification and not load up schedules with games to try and enhance the win/loss record.
Class A schools on the other hand love that chance. They are awarded two bonus points for playing against Class AA schools. Tea Area received 52 points towards its seed point standings with the win over Lincoln, compared to the standard 50. Those two points could be huge in separating themselves as the one seed heading towards the postseason.
The penalties are the major reason why we don't see these types of games as much. Saturday night was a great situation and a perfect setting of getting two of the top teams in the state to play against each other. Props to Lincoln (and Harrisburg for playing St. Thomas More) for taking the game and the automatic hit on the seed points so we could all enjoy the cross-class matchups.
It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it provides a great chance for classes to earn bragging rights and for fans to see teams they normally don't.
For all of that in itself and the atmosphere it provides, it makes the event and games feel extra special.