We knew as soon as it happened 13 months ago that high school basketball in Louisiana wasn't going to be quite the same.
Many of us sitting in the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge that day shook our heads as the numbers popped up on the screen revealing that principals across the state wanted basketball to split into a select/non-select playoff format.
Monday, I found myself shaking my head again.
That was the day the LHSAA released the playoff pairings for girls basketball, and we got a chance to actually see just how watered down these playoffs are going to be.
The most obvious examples are in the select playoffs. In Division I, the bracket that looks more like a district tournament than a state tournament.
There are only nine teams in the field. Seven of those nine are already in the quarterfinals, needing just three wins to win a state championship.
Those seven teams earned double byes and won't even start their playoff journeys until Feb. 20. With so few teams, the LHSAA could have just as easily rented out a gym and just played the whole Division I playoffs this Thursday, Friday and Saturday and got it over with. Division V is even worse, with just eight teams in the field trying to win a "state" title. Yeah, I put the word "state" in quotes there and the folks who engrave the trophies probably should too.
Of course, we won't get a true state champion this year.
We'll never get to see how John Curtis, which should breeze to the Division I title, would have fared in the Class 5A playoffs.
We'll never get to see how Curtis would do in a rematch of January's Sugar Bowl title game against Destrehan, the state's only undefeated team.
Ursuline Academy, which won the Class 4A state championship, won't have to trudge through a 32-team field this year to repeat as state champions. The Lions are now in Division II, comprised of just 14 teams, and will begin their chase for a repeat already in the second round.
Most of the nonselect schools start Thursday. The tournament for all 12 classes and divisions concludes the week of Feb. 27-March 4 at Southeastern Louisiana.
Which local teams have the best chance of getting one of the many trophies that will be handed out in Hammond?
Here's one man's opinion of the four teams most likely to win it all:
1. Curtis: The Patriots, the top seed in Division I, have lost just two games all season. Their stiffest test will be from No. 2 seed McKinley, but nobody in the field will pose a serious threat.
2. Destrehan. Whenever you have the best player in the state, you always have a chance. The Wildcats, led by Baylor signee Cara Ursin, are a No. 3 seed. They've come close every year of Ursin's career, so there's a good chance she finishes the deal in her last hurrah.
3. Ursuline Academy. If Kourtney Weber hadn't torn her ACL at the start of the season, this would have been as sure of a thing as Curtis. But Brooklyn Mitchell and Company are still talented and the experience from a season ago could go a long way in Ursuline winning it all again.
4. Northlake Christian. The Wolverines have flown under the radar, but they are the top seed in Division III.
The LHSAA will release the 12 boys playoff bracket on Monday.
I'll be the one shaking my head.