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Should there be an 8th/9th seed play-in game?

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Last season the MLB added an extra playoff “spot” with 2 wild cards having a play-in game, instead of 1 wild-card automatically getting in.

The motive for this is easy to see. Aside from increasing the revenue for the teams who get an extra spot and by putting 2 huge television games on the schedule – it also keeps more teams alive late in the season, helping fans keep interest longer in the year.

Should the same logic apply to the NBA? Instead of the 8th seed getting in automatically, make them play the 9th seed in a 1 game play-in. The winner gets the 8th seed as it is now, entering a full series against the 1st seed.

Here’s the benefits:

– The 8th seed play-in game is beneficial for revenues. The 4 teams involved in it get an extra high priced playoff game. Television ratings are likely strong as event TV.

– 2 extra “playoff” spots increases interest late in the season for more teams. For example right now Milwaukee is 8th in the East at 34-36. Following them is Philadelphia at 28-43, Toronto at 26-45, Washington at 26-45. Instead of Philadelphia and Toronto’s season being over for months, they’d be wrapped up in an exciting playoff race right now. Washington’s great play with John Wall would have put them back in the race. This teams being thrown in the race would be great for sales and ratings. Moreso, franchises build reputations to fans by making the playoffs or coming close, as well as build winning cultures on rosters that way.

– This creates a race not only between 8th and 9th – but between 7th and 8th. For example last year New York and Philadelphia finished 7th and 8th in the East separated by one game, while Dallas and Utah finished with the same record at 7th and 8th in the West. Make the 8th seed mean a 1 game playoff instead of a guaranteed spot and that race would have been a lot more intense.

– If an 8th seed is likely to be beat badly by the 1st seed every year, giving them a carrot by winning a big play-in game helps add a little more meaning to that season. Would Baltimore’s season last year in the MLB have as felt as special without the play-in win?

An 8th/9th seed play-in game is good for revenues, good for building the credibility of franchises and good for the fans. It seems an all-around win, as it is for the MLB. After the MLB got the ball rolling, similarly adding a play-in game may be impossible to resist for the NBA and NHL.

Written by jr.

March 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Basketball

Tagged with , , ,