High School Sports

Projecting the NCHSAA boys basketball playoffs

Butler’s D.J. Little goes to the basket In Friday night's Butler vs Lincoln Charter Hoodies House National tournament game at Providence Day.
Butler’s D.J. Little goes to the basket In Friday night's Butler vs Lincoln Charter Hoodies House National tournament game at Providence Day. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Conference finish and MaxPreps.com ranking will factor into this year’s boys 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 cannot be broken head-to-head right now. They need to use the conference tournament to help break the tie, or schedule a tiebreaker game.

Last update: Friday, Feb. 16 (11 p.m. - 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A DONE until brackets come out Saturday with updated MaxPreps rankings)

Automatic bids - 4A

Conf. (listed W to E)

seeds 1/2

seeds 3/4/5


1. McDowell County

South Meck

1. Olympic

2. Ardrey Kell

3. Harding

4. West Mecklenburg


1. North Mecklenburg

2. Hopewell

3. West Charlotte

4. Hough

5. Vance


1. Independence

2. Rocky River

3. Butler

4. Myers Park

Central Piedmont

1. East Forsyth

2. R.J. Reynolds

3. Davie County

4. Reagan


1. Northwest Guilford

2. Page

3. High Point Central

4. Grimsley

Sandhills Athletic

1. Hoke County

2. Scotland

3. Pinecrest

4. Lumberton

Triangle 6

1. Green Hope

2. Panther Creek

3. Jordan

4. Athens Drive

5. Cary

Patriot Athletic

1. Overhills


4. Pine Forest

South Wake

1. Garner

2. Apex

3. Holly Springs

4. Middle Creek


1. Broughton

2. Leesville Road

3. Millbrook

4. Sanderson

Northern Athletic

1. Heritage

2. Knightdale

3. Wakefield

4. Rolesville


1. Hoggard


4. Ashley

Eastern Carolina

1. South Central

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

5-Cary 71 / 5-Vance 78 / cutoff line / 5-Seventy-First 79 / 5-Cardinal Gibbons 129 / 5-Laney 134

4A East

1-Garner vs BYE; 16-Cary vs 17-Rolesville

8-Hoggard vs BYE; 9-Leesville Road vs 24-Ashley

4-Heritage vs BYE; 13-Athens Drive vs 20-Holly Springs

5-Hoke County vs BYE; 12-Apex vs 21-Middle Creek


3-South Central vs BYE; 14-Wakefield vs 19-Lumberton

6-Green Hope vs BYE; 11-Panther Creek vs 22-Pine Forest

2-Broughton vs BYE; 15-Millbrook vs 18-Jordan

7-Overhills vs BYE; 10-Knightdale vs 23-Sanderson

4A West

1-North Mecklenburg vs BYE; 16-Hough vs 17-Myers Park

8-Hopewell vs BYE; 9-Ardrey Kell vs 24-Reagan

4-East Forsyth vs BYE; 13-Butler vs 20-Harding

5-McDowell County vs BYE; 12-Scotland vs 21-West Mecklenburg


3-Olympic vs BYE; 14-Pinecrest vs 19-Davie County

6-Northwest Guilford vs BYE; 11-Page vs 22-High Point Central

2-Independence vs BYE; 15-West Charlotte vs 18-Vance

7-Rocky River vs BYE; 10-R.J. Reynolds vs 23-Grimsley

Automatic bids - 3A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5

Western Mountain

1. A.C. Reynolds

2. North Buncombe

3. Tuscola

4. North Henderson

5. Enka


1. Hickory

2. Freedom


4. West Caldwell

Big South

1. Kings Mountain

2. Huss

3. North Gaston

4. Ashbrook

North Piedmont

1. Carson

2. Statesville

3. South Iredell

4. West Rowan

Southern Carolina

1. Charlotte Catholic

2. Marvin Ridge

3. Piedmont

4. Monroe

South Piedmont

1. Cox Mill

2. Northwest Cabarrus

3. Concord

4. Jay M. Robinson

Piedmont Triad

1. Ben L. Smith

2. Mount Tabor

3. Southwest Guilford

4. Parkland

5. North Forsyth


1. Eastern Guilford

2. Williams

3. Southern Guilford

4. Asheboro


1. Northern Guilford

2. Person

3. Eastern Alamance

4. McMichael

Big Eight

1. Northern Durham

2. Southern Durham

3. Chapel Hill

4. Hillside

Tri-County 6

1. Southern Lee

2. Lee County

3. Harnett Central

4. Triton

Patriot Athletic

1. Terry Sanford

3. Westover

Greater Neuse River

1. Clayton

2. East Wake

3. Cleveland

4. Smithfield-Selma

Big East

1. Northern Nash

2. Rocky Mount

3. Southern Nash

4. Fike


1. New Hanover

3. South Brunswick

Eastern Carolina

1. J.H. Rose

3. D.H. Conley

4. Southern Wayne


1. Northside (J)

2. White Oak

3. Havelock

4. Jacksonville

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

5-North Forsyth 81 / 5-Enka 120 / cutoff line / 5-Watauga 149 / 5-A.L. Brown 162 / 5-West Carteret 155

3A East

1-Eastern Guilford vs 32-Smithfield-Selma; 16-East Wake vs 17-Lee County

8-Terry Sanford vs 25-Jacksonville; 9-J.H. Rose vs 24-Southern Nash

4-Northern Nash vs 29-Fike; 13-Southern Durham vs 20-Chapel Hill

5-New Hanover vs 28-Triton; 12-Williams vs 21-Hillside


3-Northside (Jacksonville) vs 30-Southern Wayne; 14-Person vs 19-South Brunswick

6-Northern Guilford vs 27-Harnett Central; 11-Rocky Mount vs 22-Eastern Alamance

2-Northern Durham vs 31-Cleveland; 15-White Oak vs 18-Westover

7-Southern Lee vs 26-Havelock; 10-Clayton vs 23-D.H. Conley

3A West

1-Cox Mill vs 32-Asheboro; 16-Southwest Guilford vs 17-South Iredell

8-Freedom vs 25-Piedmont; 9-Mount Tabor vs 24-Enka

4-Carson vs 29-McMichael; 13-Huss vs 20-Southern Guilford

5-Charlotte Catholic vs 28-West Rowan; 12-Northwest Cabarrus vs 21-North Henderson


3-Hickory vs 30-Monroe; 14-Statesville vs 19-Parkland

6-A.C. Reynolds vs 27-Concord; 11-Marvin Ridge vs 22-Jay M. Robinson

2-Ben L. Smith vs 31-West Caldwell; 15-Tuscola vs 18-North Forsyth

7-Kings Mountain vs 26-Ashbrook; 10-North Buncombe vs 23-North Gaston

Automatic bids - 2A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5

Mountain Six

1. Hendersonville

2. Pisgah

3. Franklin

4. Smoky Mountain

Western Highlands

1. Mountain Heritage


1. R-S Central

2. South Point

3. East Rutherford

4. Shelby

Northwestern Foothills

1. Patton

2. Draughn

3. Bunker Hill

4. Hibriten

South Fork

1. East Lincoln

2. Lincolnton

3. Maiden

4. Bandys

Mountain Valley

1. Wilkes Central

3. West Wilkes

Western Piedmont

1. West Stokes

2. Walkertown

3. Atkins

4. North Surry

Central Carolina

1. Salisbury

2. Thomasville

3. Lexington

4. North Davidson

Rocky River

1. Forest Hills

2. Mount Pleasant

3. West Stanly

4. East Montgomery


1. T.W. Andrews

2. Wheatmore

3. Providence Grove

4. Randleman


1. Reidsville

2. Carrboro

3. Cummings

4. Graham

Three Rivers

1. Fairmont

3. Red Springs

4. St. Pauls

Northern Carolina

1. Northern Vance

2. South Granville

3/4. Roanoke Rapids*

3/4. Southern Vance*

East Central

1. Clinton

2. Goldsboro

3. James Kenan

4. East Duplin

Eastern Plains

1. Farmville Central

2. Nash Central

3. North Pitt

4. Beddingfield

Eastern Carolina

1. Kinston

2. Greene Central

3. West Craven

4. North Lenoir

Coastal 8

1. Trask

3. Southwest Onslow

Northeastern Coastal

1. Northeastern

2. Hertford County

3. First Flight

4. Bertie

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

4-Randleman 242 / 4-Graham 249 / 4-East Montgomery 255 / 4-North Surry 272 / 4-Beddingfield 284 / cutoff line / 4-North Wilkes 294 / 4-Madison 330

2A East

1-Kinston vs 32-Beddingfield; 16-Roanoke Rapids vs 17-Red Springs

8-Northern Vance vs 25-St. Pauls; 9-Greene Central vs 24-Providence Grove

4-Farmville Central vs 29-Graham; 13-South Granville vs 20-James Kenan

5-Northeastern vs 28-Bertie; 12-Carrboro vs 21-North Pitt


3-Fairmont vs 30-Randleman; 14-Hertford County vs 19-West Craven

6-Reidsville vs 27-East Duplin; 11-Nash Central vs 22-Cummings

2-Clinton vs 31-East Montgomery; 15-Southern Vance vs 18-North Lenoir

7-Trask vs 26-Southwest Onslow; 10-Goldsboro vs 23-First Flight

2A West

1-Mountain Heritage vs 32-West Wilkes; 16-Walkertown vs 17-Thomasville

8-Patton vs 25-Bandys; 9-Wilkes Central vs 24-Atkins

4-Salisbury vs 29-Bunker Hill; 13-Pisgah vs 20-East Rutherford

5-West Stokes vs 28-Shelby; 12-South Point vs 21-Franklin


3-East Lincoln vs 30-West Stanly; 14-Draughn vs 19-Lexington

6-R-S Central vs 27-North Davidson; 11-Lincolnton vs 22-Maiden

2-Forest Hills vs 31-North Surry; 15-Wheatmore vs 18-Mount Pleasant

7-Hendersonville vs 26-Smoky Mountain; 10-T.W. Andrews vs 23-Hibriten

Automatic bids - 1A

Conf. (listed W to E)

automatic bids

at-large 3/4/5

Big Smoky Mountain

1. Cherokee

2. Hayesville

3. Swain County

Little Smoky Mountain

1. Hiwassee Dam

2. Highlands

3. Blue Ridge

Western Highlands

1. Avery County

3. Mitchell County

Southern Piedmont

1. Lincoln Charter

2. Bessemer City

3. Piedmont Community

Mountain Valley

1. Starmount


1. Pine Lake Prep

2. CSD

3. Mountain Island Charter

4. Union Academy


1. Winston-Salem Prep

2. South Stokes

3. Mount Airy

4. Bishop McGuinness

Yadkin Valley

1. North Stanly

2. North Rowan

3. Albemarle

Central Tar Heel

1. Research Triangle

2. Chatham Central

3. Raleigh Charter

Three Rivers

1. West Columbus

North Central

1. Voyager

2. Roxboro Community

3. Franklin Academy

Northern Carolina

1. Granville Central

Carolina 1A

1. Rosewood

2. Princeton

3. Union


1. Rocky Mount Prep

2. Southeast Halifax

3. North Edgecombe

Coastal 8

1. East Carteret

3. Pender

Coastal Plains

1. Pamlico County

2. Northside (P)

3. Riverside (W)


1. Edenton Holmes

2. Gates County

3. Plymouth

Atlantic 6

1. Ocracoke

2. Columbia

3. Bear Grass Charter

Final at-large spots w/adjusted MaxPreps rank:

4-Bishop McGuinness 83 / 4-Union Academy 227 / cutoff line / 4-Tarboro 232 / 4-Chatham Charter-234 / 4-Murphy 264

1A East

1-Rocky Mount Prep vs BYE; 16-Columbia vs 17-Plymouth

8-East Carteret vs BYE; 9-Ocracoke vs 24-Bear Grass Charter

4-Edenton Holmes vs BYE; 13-Southeast Halifax vs 20-North Edgecombe

5-Research Triangle vs BYE; 12-Gates County vs 21-Raleigh Charter


3-Voyager Academy vs BYE; 14-Roxboro Community vs 19-Pender

6-Northside (Pinetown) vs BYE; 11-Pamlico County vs 22-Franklin Academy

2-West Columbus vs BYE; 15-Princeton vs 18-Riverside (Williamston)

7-Granville Central vs BYE; 10-Rosewood vs 23-Union

1A West

1-Winston-Salem Prep vs BYE; 16-Mount Airy vs 17-Bishop McGuinness

8-Hiwassee Dam vs BYE; 9-South Stokes vs 24-Blue Ridge

4-North Stanly vs BYE; 13-Hayesville vs 20-Piedmont Community

5-Starmount vs BYE; 12-Bessemer City vs 21-Swain County


3-Pine Lake Prep vs BYE; 14-Chatham Central vs 19-Union Academy

6-Avery County vs BYE; 11-North Rowan vs 22-Mitchell County

2-Lincoln Charter vs BYE; 15-Albemarle vs 18-Mountain Island Charter

7-Cherokee vs BYE; 10-CSD vs 23-Highlands