Rogers, Over and Out: Cleveland coaches use Freeman in seeding process; How did it pan out?

Rogers, Over and Out

By Tim Rogers

“You saved a lot of people a lot of work”; Computers ease tournament confusion

A few weeks ago I discovered the Freeman Ratings, thanks to Tyrone Miller, the head basketball coach at Tuscarawas Central Catholic.

Miller suggested that the time had come for the Ohio High School Athletic Association to adopt a computer system to determine the seeding for the post-season tournaments.

JJH_RogersI spent about three hours going over the Freeman Ratings, which ranks teams based on won-loss and strength of schedule.

I agreed with coach Miller and made such a proposal in the space two weeks ago. The state uses a computer system to determine playoff qualifiers in football. I cannot see why a similar system cannot be adopted for basketball.

My reasoning was simple. Too many coaches do not do their homework when it comes to analyzing the field in their respective tournaments. Instead of voting for teams based on successes and failures, they frequently vote on reputation. Or, for teams coached by their college fraternity brother. Or, they vote along league lines or have biases toward private schools.

Using a computer system similar to the Harbin Rating System used for football, all the personal garbage is thrown out. The computer will do all the work based on fact.

I alerted 15 coaches in Northeast Ohio to the Freeman System, a computer-based program created by a Ned Freeman, a former California high school star and mathematics whiz. All of them were impressed. Several of them checked the Freeman Ratings on the Saturday morning that the voting closed and followed it explicitly.

“You saved a lot of people a lot of work,” one coach told me. “I know a lot of the guys in our district used that system. I know I did.”

Hey, just trying to lend a helping hand, you know?

The Freeman Ratings and the actual voting were very similar, perhaps because a good number of the coaches followed the computer produced list. For the sake of brevity, here’s how the top tens played out in the three Division I districts in the Northeast.

In the blended Canton/Copley district:

FREEMAN SAID: 1. Massillon Jackson; 2. Green; 3. Walsh Jesuit; 4. Canton Timken; 5. Uniontown Lake; 6. Medina; 7. Hudson; 8. Akron Ellet; 9. Stow-Monroe Falls; 10. Wooster.

THE VOTING SAID: 1. Jackson; 2. Green; 3. Walsh Jesuit; 4. Timken; 5. Ellet; 6. Lake; 7. Hudson; 8. Louisville; 9. Stow; 10. Medina.

You can see the top four seeds matched perfectly and two other schools – Hudson and Stow – also received identical spots in both procedures.

And, there were a few distinctive differences. Had the Freeman Ratings been used, Wooster would have been seeded 10th and Louisville would not have cracked the top 10. Medina would have been seeded sixth, instead of the 10th spot to which it was voted.

Things were different on the blended Euclid/Solon district:

FREEMAN SAID: 1. Shaker Heights; 2. Garfield Heights; 3. Warren Harding; 4. Bedford; 5. Mentor; 6. East Tech; 7. Chagrin Falls Kenston; 8. Lyndhurst Brush; 9. Cleveland Heights; 10. Willoughby South.

THE VOTING SAID: 1. Shaker Heights; 2. Garfield Heights; 3. East Tech; 4. Warren Harding; 5. Willoughby South; 6. Bedford; 7. Mentor; 8. Kenston; 9. Brush; 10. Glenville.

While the Freeman and voting had Shaker and Garfield running 1-2, it got decidedly different after that. No other school fell into the same spot as ranked by Freeman. East Tech, which was seeded third, would have been seeded sixth under the Freeman. Willoughby South, seeded fifth by vote, would have been 10th according to the computer. Glenville, seeded 10th, would not have cracked the top 10 and Cleveland Heights, ranked ninth by Freeman, did not make the actual top 10.

Things really varied in the blended Brecksville/Midview sectional:

FREEMAN SAID: 1. Lakewood St. Edward; 2. Lorain; 3, Brunswick; 4. St. Ignatius; 5. Elyria; 6. North Olmsted; 7. Olmsted Falls; 8. Brecksville-Broadview Heights; 9. Avon; 10. Normandy.

VOTING SAID: 1. Lorain; 2. St. Edward; 3. St. Ignatius; 4. Berea-Midpark; 5. Brunswick; 6. Normandy; 7. Elyria; 8. North Olmsted; 9. Cleveland Rhodes; 10. Brecksville.

Under the Freeman plan Rhodes would not have been in the top 10. Avon, not voted a seeded spot in the top 10, would have been ninth. Olmsted Falls, ranked seventh by Freeman, was not included in the actual top 10.

You’ll notice that Berea-Midpark is not included by Freeman. That is one of the problems with the Freeman. That’s probably because Berea-Midpark is a new school and was not recognized by the computer, at least in the state rankings. Obviously, the Titans deserved a spot in the top 10.

I would love to see the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association take a strong look at this over the next couple of months. There has to be some computer whiz out there capable of designing a program that would dictate a fair system of determining who is seeded where.

The real fun starts in about two weeks when the post-season gets underway. I’m going to keep track of how it all plays out and will print an update as we get closer to the playing of the 93rd annual state semifinals. If the computer is correct, its teams should have had a strong tournament showing. Even if the results fail to match the success predicted it will have added another aspect to one of the most exciting parts of the high school season.

We can always hit control/alt/delete.

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