The WNBA has approved some notable -- and significant -- changes for the upcoming season. These changes are HUGE, as now the top-8 teams will be eligible for the the WNBA playoffs regardless of conference affiliation. Also, there will be more cross-conference matchups as well.
Here is some of the release from the WNBA:
The WNBA Board of Governors approved changes to playoff seeding and qualification procedures as well as the postseason format, effective with the 2016 season, the WNBA announced today. The reconfigured postseason structure, featuring live telecasts by ESPN networks of every playoff and Finals game in 2016, dovetails with a new, more balanced format for the regular-season schedule.
Beginning with the WNBA's historic 20th season, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages regardless of conference will qualify for the playoffs and be seeded based on their record.
Additional changes to the playoff structure are as follows:
· The number of playoff rounds increases from three to four. The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round), and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round.
· Teams will be re-seeded after each postseason round.
· The first and second rounds are single elimination. In the first round, the No. 5 seed hosts the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 seed hosts the No. 7 seed. In the second round, the No. 3 seed hosts the lowest-seeded first-round winner and the No. 4 seed hosts the other first-round winner.
· The semifinals feature a best-of-five format, with the No. 1 overall seed playing the lowest remaining seed and the No. 2 overall seed meeting the remaining team. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, and the lower-seeded teams will host Games 3 and 4 in their respective series. The WNBA Finals remain best-of-five and follow the same 2-2-1 format.
"First and foremost, the new postseason format provides an enhanced opportunity to showcase the best teams in the WNBA Finals," said Mark Tatum, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer. "Coupled with the new regular season structure that creates more competitive balance and additional excitement during the stretch run toward the playoffs, the new postseason format will provide a heightened sense of urgency to the start of the postseason. Add to that the fact that ESPN networks will air every postseason game live and we are talking about increased exposure and increased excitement."
These are MASSIVE changes that surely will showcase a much more competitive, and exciting brand of basketball. In the words of Bart Scott: "Can't WAIT!"