High School Sports

Projecting the NCHSAA girls basketball playoffs

Knightdale's Devan Jarrell (5) drives baseline. The Knightdale Knights visited the Rolesville Rams in high school boys and girls basketball games on Jan. 9, 2018.
Knightdale's Devan Jarrell (5) drives baseline. The Knightdale Knights visited the Rolesville Rams in high school boys and girls basketball games on Jan. 9, 2018. newsobserver.com

Conference finish and MaxPreps.com ranking will factor into this year’s girls basketball playoffs.

Teams can earn a a spot in the playoffs by winning the tournament, if they have not already clinched an automatic spot. Unlike previous years, conference champs will not be awarded 2-seeds.

The final adjusted MaxPreps ranking will be given to the NCHSAA the morning of seeding Saturday. These projections show the most recent MaxPreps rankings, which will be the last one before seeding Saturday.

Things to remember:

1-There are 48 playoff teams in 1A and 4A and 64 in 2A and 3A.

2-Conferences or splits with 1-4 teams get one automatic bid, while those with nine or more get three. All others get two. (Ex: A split conference with three 4A teams and four 3A teams gets one automatic bid each).

2A-In split conferences, the top two teams in the overall standings will automatically qualify for the playoffs, likely as a 1 or a 2, regardless of anything else.

2B-In split conferences, for a 1-seed or 2-seed to be seeded as such, it must finish top-three in the overall standings OR finish .500 overall or better (including conference tournament games). If the team does neither but qualifies for an automatic bid, it is then mixed together with the 3-, 4- and 5-seeds and seeded as an at-large team.

3-If a team seeded lower than second wins the conference tournament, that team gets an automatic bid but DOES NOT assume the 2-seed like previous years.

4-After the 1s and 2s are seeded, remaining conference tournament champs make the field as “at-large” teams. At-large teams are mixed together and seeded as one group. This group includes non-automatic qualifiers in order of their conference finish (third-place, fourth-place, fifth-place). If there are not enough spots left for a group with the same conference finish, the adjusted MaxPreps ratings are used to determine the final cutoff line.

5-The NCHSAA is using adjusted MaxPreps ratings, which removes margin of victory from the formula.

6-If two teams are tied for a seed and have the same head-to-head record, the conference tournament may be used to help break ties in this order: 1) if the two teams play, the head-to-head winner gets the seed; 2) if one team makes it to the conference tournament title but the other does not, the team that made it gets the seed; 3) if neither team makes it to the conference title, they can elect to play a tiebreaker game on a neutral court or draw for the seed.

7-Conference tournament games towards the final adjusted MaxPreps rating, which won’t be made known until Saturday morning around the time the brackets are released.


Teams in the left column are automatic berths. The right column are at-large teams with their projected conference finish.

Teams that are underlined represent either the last 1-seed or 2-seed in that respective bracket.

“/” divides each bracket in half.

*-These two teams are tied for a seed that needs the conference tournament to help break the tie, or schedule a tiebreaker game.

Last update: Friday, Feb. 16 (8:10 p.m. - 4A, 3A, 2A DONE until tomorrow’s brackets come out with new MaxPreps rankings - missing one tiebreaker in 1A)

Automatic bids - 4A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5


1. McDowell County

South Meck

1. Ardrey Kell

2. South Mecklenburg

3. Berry Academy

4. Providence


1. Mallard Creek

2. Vance

3. Hopewell

4. North Mecklenburg

5. Hough


1. Hickory Ridge

2. Myers Park

3. Butler

4. Rocky River

Central Piedmont

1. West Forsyth

2. Reagan

3. Glenn

4. East Forsyth


1. Northwest Guilford

2. Ragsdale

3. Page

4. High Point Central

Sandhills Athletic

1. Pinecrest

2. Lumberton

3. Jack Britt

4. Seventy-First

Triangle 6

1. Green Hope

2. Jordan

3. Riverside

4. Cary

Patriot Athletic

1. South View

South Wake

1. Holly Springs

2. Apex Friendship

3. Middle Creek

4. Apex


1. Southeast Raleigh

2. Leesville Road

3. Enloe

4. Millbrook

5. Cardinal Gibbons

Northern Athletic

1. Heritage

2. Wakefield

3. Knightdale

4. Rolesville


1. Laney

2. Hoggard

Eastern Carolina

1. South Central


4. New Bern

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

5-Cardinal Gibbons 67 / Hough 99 / cutoff line / Athens Drive 114 / Wake Forest 119 / Pine Forest 151

4A East

1-Southeast Raleigh vs BYE; 16-Cardinal Gibbons vs 17-Rolesville

8-Leesville Road vs BYE; 9-Wakefield vs 24-Apex

4-Green Hope vs BYE; 13-Apex Friendship vs 20-Cary

5-Holly Springs vs BYE; 12-Lumberton vs 21-Millbrook


3-Laney vs BYE; 14-Enloe vs 19-Seventy-First

6-South Central vs BYE; 11-Jordan vs 22-Middle Creek

2-Heritage vs BYE; 15-Riverside vs 18-Knightdale

7-South View vs BYE; 10-Hoggard vs 23-New Bern

4A West

1-Northwest Guilford vs BYE; 16-North Mecklenburg vs 17-Hopewell

8-Reagan vs BYE; 9-Ragsdale vs 24-Rocky River

4-Ardrey Kell vs BYE; 13-Berry Academy vs 20-High Point Central

5-Hickory Ridge vs BYE; 12-Myers Park vs 21-Providence


3-West Forsyth vs BYE; 14-Glenn vs 19-Hough

6-Pinecrest vs BYE; 11-Vance vs 22-Jack Britt

2-Mallard Creek vs BYE; 15-Page vs 18-Butler

7-McDowell County vs BYE; 10-South Mecklenburg vs 23-East Forysth

Automatic bids - 3A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5

Western Mountain

1. Erwin

2. Tuscola

3. Asheville

4. Enka


1. Freedom

2. Watauga


4. Hickory

Big South

1. Ashbrook

2. Forestview

3. North Gaston

4. Huss

North Piedmont

1. North Iredell

2. Carson

3. West Rowan

4. Statesville

Southern Carolina

1. Cuthbertson

2. Parkwood

3. Charlotte Catholic

4. Piedmont

South Piedmont

1. Jay M. Robinson

2. Central Cabarrus

3. Northwest Cabarrus

4. Cox Mill

Piedmont Triad

1. Southwest Guilford

2. Dudley

3. Mount Tabor

4. Ben L. Smith


1. Eastern Guilford

2. Southeast Guilford

3. Southern Alamance

4. Asheboro


1. Northern Guilford

2. Rockingham County

3. Western Alamance

4. Northeast Guilford

Big Eight

1. Hillside

2. Southern Durham

3. Northwood

4. Cedar Ridge

Tri-County 6

1. Union Pines

2. Harnett Central

3. Lee County

4. Western Harnett

Patriot Athletic

1. E.E. Smith

2. Terry Sanford

3. Gray’s Creek

Greater Neuse River

1. East Wake

2. Clayton

3. Smithfield-Selma

4. West Johnston

Big East

1. Hunt

2. Franklinton

3. Fike

4. Rocky Mount

5. Northern Nash


1. New Hanover

3. West Brunswick



5. Topsail

Eastern Carolina

1. D.H. Conley

3. Eastern Wayne


1. Jacksonville

2. Havelock

3/4. West Carteret*

3/4. Northside (J)*

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

5-Topsail 110 / 5-Northern Nash 125 / cutoff line / 5-Southwestern Randolph 129 / 5-Eastern Alamance 143 / 5-St. Stephens 146

Note: Sun Valley (Southern Carolina) can earn an automatic bid (will be seeded with the 3s and 4s) if it wins its conference tournament. A win would bump out one at-large, based on adjusted MaxPreps ranking.

3A East

1-Jacksonville vs 32-Western Harnett; 16-Western Alamance vs 17-West Brunswick

8-Clayton vs 25-Northside (Jacksonville); 9-Union Pines vs 24-Northern Nash

4-New Hanover vs 29-Lee County; 13-East Wake vs 20-Gray’s Creek

5-Hillside vs 28-Rocky Mount; 12-Southern Durham vs 21-Eastern Wayne


3-Eastern Guilford vs 30-Smithfield-Selma; 14-Harnett Central vs 19-Fike

6-D.H. Conley vs 27-Southern Alamance; 11-Terry Sanford vs 22-Northwood

2-E.E. Smith vs 31-West Johnston; 15-Franklinton vs 18-West Carteret

7-Hunt vs 26-Cedar Ridge; 10-Havelock vs 23-Topsail

3A West

1-Ashbrook vs 32-Cox Mill; 16-Southeast Guilford vs 17-Central Cabarrus

8-Erwin vs 25-Piedmont; 9-Watauga vs 24-Mount Tabor

4-North Iredell vs 29-Huss; 13-Parkwood vs 20-Northeast Guilford

5-Dudley vs 28-Asheboro; 12-Southwest Guilford vs 21-North Gaston


3-Freedom vs 30-Ben L. Smith; 14-Forestview vs 19-West Rowan

6-Cuthbertson vs 27-Enka; 11-Carson vs 22-Charlotte Catholic

2-Northern Guilford vs 31-Northwest Cabarrus; 15-Tuscola vs 18-Asheville

7-Jay M. Robinson vs 26-Statesville; 10-Rockingham County vs 23-Hickory

Automatic bids - 2A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5

Mountain Six

1. Smoky Mountain

2. Pisgah

3. East Henderson

4. Franklin

Western Highlands

1. Mountain Heritage

2. Owen


4. Madison


1. East Rutherford

2. Shelby

3. R-S Central

4. East Gaston

Northwestern Foothills

1. East Burke

2. Patton

3. Draughn

South Fork

1. Lincolnton

2. Maiden

3/4. Lake Norman Charter*

3/4. Newton-Conover*

Mountain Valley

1. North Wilkes


4. Ashe County

Wilkes Central (tournament champ)

Western Piedmont

1. Atkins

2. Forbush

3. North Surry

4. Surry Central

Central Carolina

1. East Davidson

2. Salisbury

3. Ledford

4. South Rowan

Rocky River

1. Anson County

2. West Stanly

3. Forest Hills

4. East Montgomery


1. T.W. Andrews

2. Jordan-Matthews

3. Trinity


1. Bartlett Yancey


3. Graham

4. Reidsville

Three Rivers

1. East Bladen

2. Red Springs

3. Whiteville

Northern Carolina

1. South Granville

2. Bunn

3. Roanoke Rapids

Southern Vance (tournament champ)

East Central

1. East Duplin

2. Midway

3. Goldsboro

4. James Kenan

Eastern Plains

1. North Pitt

2. Nash Central

3. North Johnston

4. SouthWest Edgecombe

Farmville Central (touranment champ)

Eastern Carolina

1. Kinston

2. Washington

3. South Lenoir

4. North Lenoir

Coastal 8

1. Richlands

2. Croatan

Northeastern Coastal

1. Bertie

2. Pasquotank County

3. Currituck County

4. Hertford County

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

4-James Kenan 231 / 4-Franklin 241 / 4-Reidsville 247 / cutoff line / 4-Bunker Hill 263 / 4-Eastern Randolph 267 / 4-East Gaston 355 / 4-East Montgomery 375

Note: Southern Vance (Northern Carolina), Farmville Central (Eastern Plains) and Wilkes Central (Mountain Valley) earned automatic bids (will be seeded with the 3s and 4s) by winning the conference tournament.

2A East

1-Kinston vs 32-Southern Vance; 16-Nash Central vs 17-Washington

8-Bertie vs 25-Roanoke Rapids; 9-South Granville vs 24-Whiteville

4-Richlands vs 29-James Kenan; 13-Red Springs vs 20-North Johnston

5-East Bladen vs 28-North Lenoir; 12-Midway vs 21-SouthWest Edgecombe


3-East Duplin vs 30-Graham; 14-NCSSM vs 19-South Lenoir

6-Bartlett Yancey vs 27-Goldsboro; 11-Croatan vs 22-Farmville Central

2-North Pitt vs 31-Reidsville; 15-Bunn vs 18-Jordan-Matthews

7-T.W. Andrews vs 26-Hertford County; 10-Pasquotank County vs 23-Currituck County

2A West

1-Mountain Heritage vs 32-Forest Hills; 16-Draughn vs 17-West Stanly

8-Lincolnton vs 25-West Stokes; 9-Anson County vs 24-East Henderson

4-East Burke vs 29-R-S Central; 13-Salisbury vs 20-Newton-Conover

5-East Davidson vs 28-Patton; 12-Pisgah vs 21-North Surry


3-North Wilkes vs 30-Franklin; 14-Maiden vs 19-South Rowan

6-Atkins vs 27-Ashe County; 11-Owen vs 22-Wilkes Central

2-Smoky Mountain vs 31-Trinity; 15-Shelby vs 18-Ledford

7-East Rutherford vs 26-Madison; 10-Forbush vs 23-Lake Norman Charter

Automatic bids - 1A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5

Big Smoky Mountain

1. Murphy

2. Cherokee

3. Robbinsville

4. Hayesville

Little Smoky Mountain

1. Highlands

2. Hiwassee Dam

3. Blue Ridge

Western Highlands

1. Mitchell County

Southern Piedmont

1. Lincoln Charter

2. Highland Tech

3. Piedmont Community

Mountain Valley

1. East Wilkes

3. Alleghany County


1. Union Academy

2. Pine Lake Prep

3. CSD


1. Mount Airy

2. Bishop McGuinness

3. East Surry

Yadkin Valley

1. Gray Stone Day

2. Albemarle

3. South Davidson

Central Tar Heel

1. Chatham Central

2. River Mill Academy

3. Raleigh Charter

Three Rivers

1. East Columbus

North Central

1. Roxboro Community

2. Vance Charter

3. Voyager

Northern Carolina

Carolina 1A

1. Neuse Charter

2. Lakewood

3. Princeton


1. Weldon

2. Northampton County

3. Rocky Mount Prep

Coastal 8

1. East Carteret


4. Pender

Coastal Plains

1. Pamlico County

2. Riverside (W)

3. Northside (P)

4. Southside


1. Plymouth

2. Gates County

3. Manteo

4. Edenton Holmes

Perquimans (won tournament)

Atlantic 6

1. Cape Hatteras

2. Creswell

3. Ocracoke (or Bear Grass Charter)*

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

4-Holmes 212 / 4-Pender 214 / 4-Hayesville 216 / cutoff line / 4-Southside 225 / 4-North Moore 254 / 4-Chatham Charter 312

Ties still needing to be broken in conference tournaments: (Atlantic 6) Ocracoke and Bear Grass Charter tied for third

Note: Perquimans (Albemarle) earned an automatic bid (will be seeded with the 3s and 4s) by winning its conference tournament.

1A East

1-Pamlico County vs BYE; 16-Edenton Holmes vs 17-Pender

8-East Columbus vs BYE; 9-Riverside (Williamston) vs 24-Ocracoke

4-Cape Hatteras vs BYE; 13-Creswell vs 20-Raleigh Charter

5-Roxboro Community vs BYE; 12-Vance Charter vs 21-Princeton


3-Weldon vs BYE; 14-Lakewood vs 19-Perquimans

6-East Carteret vs BYE; 11-Gates County vs 22-Rocky Mount Prep

2-Plymouth vs BYE; 15-Manteo vs 18-Northside (Pinetown)

7-Neuse Charter vs BYE; 10-Northampton County vs 23-Voyager Academy

1A West

1-Mount Airy vs BYE; 16-South Davidson vs 17-Alleghany County

8-Highland Tech vs BYE; 9-Highlands vs 24-Blue Ridge

4-Murphy vs BYE; 13-Pine Lake Prep vs 20-Hayesville

5-Chatham Central vs BYE; 12-River Mill Academy vs 21-Piedmont Community


3-Mitchell County vs BYE; 14-Lincoln Charter vs 19-East Surry

6-Union Academy vs BYE; 11-Bishop McGuinness vs 22-CSD

2-East Wilkes vs BYE; 15-Albemarle vs 18-Robbinsville

7-Gray Stone Day vs BYE; 10-Cherokee vs 23-Hiwassee Dam

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