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The Quick Hitter: Round of 16 buzz building as postseason looms

I have Round of 16 fever. In all my years of covering or watching South Dakota sports, I don't remember being this excited for the postseason. And I think that's how most South Dakota sports fans feel, as well. That's because the new Round of 16 ...

Platte-Geddes' Cooper Kanthak (44) and the rest of the Black Panthers celebrate their 49-35 win over the Gregory Gorillas as the student section rushes the court following the Region 6B championship game on Tuesday night at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Platte-Geddes' Cooper Kanthak (44) and the rest of the Black Panthers celebrate their 49-35 win over the Gregory Gorillas as the student section rushes the court following the Region 6B championship game last season at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

I have Round of 16 fever.

In all my years of covering or watching South Dakota sports, I don't remember being this excited for the postseason. And I think that's how most South Dakota sports fans feel, as well.

That's because the new Round of 16 format will be implemented among all three classes this season and the buzz it's generated is like nothing I have ever seen. For those just joining us, the new format breaks down like this: the eight regions will be played out until there are two teams, and those 16 remaining teams will be reseeded 1-through-16 based on seed points. Then those teams will play a Round of 16 qualifying game on a neutral court, with the winner going to the state tournament. In Class AA, the top 16 teams based on seed points will also be reseeded 1-through-16 and also play a qualifying contest.

The Round of 16 was used last year in Class A and it appeared to be a hit, especially on the boys side. We saw the No. 16 seed Dakota Valley topple No. 1 Sioux Valley, while No. 5 Tea Area advanced to the state tournament and won the whole thing. I mean, who doesn't like upsets and underdogs hoisting the trophy?

That's what the Round of 16 gives us.

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Throughout this season, I would breakdown possible Round of 16 scenarios. I know this is something other media people and fans have done, as well. We've all turned into bracketologists this season. It's fun to imagine certain matchups, predict upsets and think about who could play at state.

At first, I was skeptical of the Round of 16. However, after weighing the pros and cons, it is in my opinion, the best option. The Round of 16 gives teams the chance to prove their mettle against a team they've never played. It gives us East River vs. West River postseason battles, but also playing teams within your region is still a possibility.

Also, it allows top-notch teams in the same region to face each other at the state tournament, as opposed to knocking each other out in region play.

We saw it work in Class B volleyball when Warner and Northwestern-separated by 15 miles-finally played for the state title. In the old setup, the two powerhouses eliminated each other year after year in the District 2B final. In November, they played for the Class B volleyball championship as Northwestern defeated its rival for the historic victory.

We could see the same thing this March. In Class A girls, Region 8 foes Belle Fourche and St. Thomas More are first and second, respectively, in this week's SD Prep Media Basketball Poll. They met earlier this season as the Broncs edged the Cavaliers, 43-42. A potential second matchup could be at state, or better yet, for the state championship. Or another team could pull an upset and knock off one of them in the Round of 16.

That's the beauty of the Round of 16. Let the fun begin.

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