It’s tempting to call the Southern Professional League’s first-round playoff format a gimmick. The Challenge Round, in which the top four seeds draft or “challenge” opponents from the bottom four seeds to a best-of-three series, is a gimmick in that’s a lot of fun. But Year 1 of the idea also showed it’s deceptively complicated for every team awarded the power to pick.
Last year, after the regular season ended, the SPHL broadcast a live Challenge Round selection show, complete with teams sealing their opponent picks in envelopes and then-commissioner Jim Combs enduring a playful chorus of boos from the fans before each reveal. Top-seeded Peoria played it safe picking No. 8 seed Roanoke, but No. 2 seed Macon chose the team against which it had the best season record: No. 6 Evansville. The ...
About the Author
Matt Larkin is a senior writer at The Hockey News and has been part of the team since 2011. He's your one-stop shop for deep-dive player interviews, predictions, statistics, fantasy player rankings, player safety and hair tips. Catch him weekly as host of The Hockey News Live and The Hockey News Podcast.