Sports Scene: What’s wrong with basketball coaches voting for seeds?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced on Thursday MaxPreps RPI will be used to determine basketball seeding for tournaments, not the votes of coaches in each sectional/district, as has been done for… forever.

What is MaxPreps RPI?

Well, first the RPI: Ratings Percentage Index. It’s a formula used to rank teams based on teams’ records, the records of opponents and the records of opponents’ opponents.

RPI is used by several states across the country for tournament seeding. Brayton Martin, an Ayersville alum, began tabulating RPI rankings for all Ohio teams in 2021 and publishing them on

The Northwest district used his RPI rankings to seed teams last year. According to OHSAA director Doug Ute, the state coaches association has wanted to use RPI for seeding “for some time.”

The original plan was to use Martin RPI. But never one to pass up a sponsorship opportunity, the nonprofit OHSAA is instead using RPI by MaxPreps for seeding.

MaxPreps is a national website that aggregates high school sports results and statistics from user-generated input. That means somebody, whether a coach or Joe Blow, uploads almost all the scores, statistics and other content to the site.

The problem for MaxPreps is it’s notorious for incorrect data, or no data at all. Take it from a prep sports journalist: it has been basically useless for finding accurate schedules and records for Ohio teams throughout my career. (That’s to say nothing of statistics.)

It is more dependable in volleyball, in which there is an agreement between MaxPreps and that coaches association; schedules, results and statistics are uploaded by coaches.

An informal email poll of Shelby County basketball coaches revealed the biggest concern is the accuracy of MaxPreps’ information in its RPI ratings. There will have to be some sort of agreement made between the basketball coaches association and MaxPreps similar to volleyball, because that’s the only way you can guarantee the results being added are coming directly from the schools and teams.

The poll revealed an even split among the respondents on whether they liked the move from RPI and away from voting themselves.

There have been shenanigans in some sectional/district seed voting before (and in seed voting in other sports). That seems to be the biggest thing RPI advocates point to: a group of coaches can’t gang up and vote a deserving team lower because of a vendetta or something.

To me, that’s not something that should be a concern.

It doesn’t happen often. And in the very few instances I’ve been aware of something like that occurring in over 15 years covering Dayton-area sports, it’s meant a difference of a measly one or two spots: a team that “should” be No. 1 is instead No. 3, or something like that.

In the grand scheme, when you’re going to have to beat strong opponents sooner or later in a long tournament run, being No. 3 vs. 1 in a sectional doesn’t make all that much difference.

Coaches seem to almost always have a good idea of how teams in their sectionals should be ranked. They understand quality of schedules and will rank a 15-7 team over a 18-4 team, if the 15-win team has been competitive against significantly stronger competition.

They also understand the difference in quality of leagues and regions. It’s why Shelby County Athletic League teams with 15-7 records are often voted higher seeds than teams with better records, and it’s backed up year after year in tournament, when multiple SCAL teams advance to regionals or further and bulldoze their competition.

That is something a simple formula doesn’t take into account. And it’s something football coaches have complained about in regards to the Harbins points system used to determine that sport’s postseason berths.

Since the football playoffs have been expanded to 16 teams per region, there’s been further evidence to the superiority of some leagues/regions over others. It’s why there have been 4-6 Midwest Athletic Conference teams that have advanced as far as regional finals.

I don’t understand the move as anything other than a solution in search of a problem… and a sponsorship opportunity.