The N.C. High School Athletic Association will release football pairings Saturday afternoon.
Here's a primer on the complex system its uses to seed its football playoffs.
If a team finishes first, second or third in its conference (first or second in a conference with teams from different classifications), the team makes it to the playoffs.
Of course, lots of other teams, including almost every 1-A school, also make the playoffs.
There are eight 32-team brackets, so 256 teams will make the football playoffs.
Once a team is selected for the playoffs, the process of seeding becomes a step-by-step process that uses geography, school size, conference finish and win-loss record to assemble the brackets.
Sixty-four teams in each classification will qualify. Teams that finish first, second or third (first or second in split conferences) are in.
The bracket is completed by selecting other schools based on the teams' overall 10-game records. If a team played 11 games, one game can be dropped for seeding purposes.
The overall record is the key.
A team that finishes fifth in its league with an 8-4 record might make the playoffs, but the No. 4 finisher with a 6-5 record might not.
Once 64 teams in a classification have been selected, the schools are listed according to overall ADM (average daily membership), with the largest schools listed first.
The 32 qualifying schools with the highest enrollment go to the big-school class for that division.
Take the 4-A classification, for example. Sixty-four 4-A teams make the playoffs. Of those 64, the 32 with the biggest enrollments will play in the 4-AA tournament. The other 32 will play in the 4-A bracket.
Once the teams are put in brackets, they are divided by East and West. Depending on who makes it, area teams could be placed in a bracket with teams in the mountains or teams on the coast.
Once qualifying teams have been sorted by size and geography, each East and West bracket for each classification is seeded.
First, all conference champions are seeded by their 10-game record.
Then, all conference No. 2 seeds are seeded by the same process. No conference runner-up can be seeded higher than a league champion in its bracket.
All the conference No. 3 seeds are seeded by the same process. Again, no third-place seed can be seeded higher than any conference champion or a conference runner-up.
After seeding the first, second and third finishers, the other schools are seeded by 10-game records, not conference finish.
A No. 5 finisher could be seeded higher than a No. 4.
Actually, the seeding is more complicated than this because of ties. There may be three champions with identical overall records.
There is a tie-breaking procedure, but in most cases, a drawing determines the seed.
Conference presidents report qualifiers and records on Friday before midnight.
If a game is not played on Friday night, the teams must play no later than 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The tentative bracket will be announced on Saturday around 3 p.m.
Any corrections need to be called in before 4 p.m., and the final bracket will be announced by 6 p.m.