STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The PIAA basketball playoff schedule will have a different look in 2022 with 192 first-round games now being played on a school night so that a handful of semifinal games aren’t.
The PIAA board of directors unanimously approved a new schedule on a trial basis for the 2022 basketball playoffs that will see the opening round starting three days earlier and the semifinals being conducted a week before the finals.
Opening-round games will take place Tuesday, March 8, and Wednesday, March 9, instead of Friday, March 11, and Saturday, March 12.
Second-round games will then be held March 11 and March 12 with the quarterfinals being held Tuesday, March 15, and Wednesday, March 16. That will allow the PIAA to conduct its semifinal games Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19, with the PIAA championship games to be played Thursday, March 24, Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26.
The main impetus behind the change was because of a few teams making cross-state trips in the semifinal rounds, which were held on a weeknight in previous years, because the brackets are no longer a true “East” and “West” setup and haven’t been for a number of years.
The change in dates is currently only for this year, as PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi said the organization will review how the change works before deciding whether or not to make the change permanent.
While the change could prevent some cross-state travel on a weeknight in the semifinals, it does have the potential to open up longer trips on a school night during the first round for a number of teams.
For example, in just the Class 1A girls’ “Western” bracket used in 2019 the last time a full PIAA tournament was conducted) there would have been two three-plus hour trips (Coudersport vs. Shanksville at Pitt-Johnstown and Otto-Eldred vs. Rochester at New Castle High School), a pair of 2 ½ hour-trips (St. Joseph’s Academy vs. Quigley Catholic at North Hills High School and Vincentian Academy vs. Johnsonburg at St. Marys High School), a 2-plus hour-trip (Avella vs. Berlin Brothersvalley at Pitt-Johnstown) and a 1 ½ hour-trip (Kennedy Catholic vs. West Greene at Canon-McMillan High School) that would have been made on school nights.
Compare that to just three schools in the entire girls’ semifinals that year making a trip longer than two hours – Mifflinburg High School playing North Catholic High School at St. Francis University, 2 hours, 10 minutes for Mifflinburg) and Upper Dublin playing Peters Township at Bald Eagle High School (3 hours for Upper Dublin, 2 hours, 53 minutes) for Peters Township.
The change does give a longer turnaround time for teams to prepare for the state championship game considering some teams were playing a semifinal game on a Monday and then a state championship game on Thursday under the previous setup.