Scheduling is going to be a little bit different for Class AA teams in the future following the passing of the sweet-16 playoff format.

Last week the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors approved the switch to the sweet-16 playoff system for Class AA boys and girls basketball, and girls volleyball. That switch has also prompted an opportunity to look into balanced scheduling.

Back in December, I took a look at why there was an increase in the amount of out-of-state games that Sioux Falls schools were playing. Some teams, such as the Roosevelt girls, played 40% of their schedule against teams outside of South Dakota. The main reason for it was the lack of openings due to the double round robin format that the Eastern South Dakota Conference (ESD) played.

With the switch to the sweet-16 playoff system, a majority of the activities directors within the 18-team class are ready to move towards a more balanced schedule that would give an opportunity for teams to be seeded properly. The main idea would be to play everyone in the class once (17/20 games) and then have the other three games open for teams to fill however they would see fit. That won't 100% happen with the west river schools wanting to keep a majority of their games on that side of the state.

But we're getting a little bit closer to that.

The ESD has elected to play a single round robin in the future and will be looking at working with the Sioux Falls schools to sure up the schedule even more according to The Argus Leader. Between the 13 schools in the ESD and Sioux Falls, 12 games would be secured with single games against everyone. That leaves eight games for each school to schedule out in whatever way that they would like to (home-and-home, games against west river schools, classics, more against conference teams).

This is a huge step forward for Class AA in general. The regular season now means a lot more than it did before, and in general it will feel like more is on the line for each game that is played. Two teams will be left out of the playoffs, and the battle will be on for positioning.

It might not happen right away for the upcoming 2017-2018 season with some of the contracts that Sioux Falls schools have signed with out-of-state teams, but the blueprint is there for the future.

And that in itself is something we can all get excited about.