MODESTO — The elimination of the power ratings system that decided playoff berths for Sac-Joaquin Section basketball has taken with it most of the suspense that used to hang over the final week of the regular season.
Want proof? As of Wednesday night's results, 18 of the 24 spots that will go to boys' teams in the Stanislaus District already have been claimed, and three others have been all but decided. In past years, there always were as many as 10 bubble teams across the six brackets that always seemed to be a two-game season-ending win streak away from nosing into the bracket.
Every league gets at least three berths this season. The Trans-Valley League and Mother Lode League both have been granted a fourth team - a reward based on recent playoff success.
League-by-league, here are the teams who can start printing tickets or reserving buses, along with the teams on the verge of clinching a spot:
MMC - Davis and Beyer have clinched spots, while Gregori needs one win or one Johansen loss to keep the league's powers-that-be from scrambling to figure out their tie-breaking procedure.
CCC - Golden Valley and Merced are in. Turlock could have clinched a spot by beating Atwater, but now the Bulldogs need a win over Pitman or a Buhach Colony win over Atwater to nail down a postseason bid.
VOL - League champion Sierra is in, while Lathrop and Manteca (both 8-4) and Weston Ranch (7-5) are battling for the final two spots. Making this more interesting is that Lathrop has swept Manteca, Manteca has swept Weston Ranch and Weston Ranch has swept Lathrop.
WAC - Champion Central Catholic, Central Valley and Patterson are in. Patterson could finish tied in the standings with Ceres, but the Tigers swept the Bulldogs in league play.
TVL - Modesto Christian, Riverbank and Escalon are in. Ripon needs one win or one Hughson loss to reach the postseason.
MLL - Calaveras (no worse than a co-champ,) Argonaut, Amador and Summerville are in. Summerville could finish tied with Bret Harte, but the defending Division 4 champion Bears won the season series over the Bullfrogs.
SL - Mariposa (no worse than co-champ,) Ripon Christian and Turlock Christian are in. Turlock Christian could finish tied with Delhi, but the Eagles swept the season series.
The Bee is planning full multi-media coverage of the playoff brackets' release. Joe Cortez and I will be shooting a video discussing the boys' and girls' brackets that should be up on modbee.com late Wednesday night.
We'll also be doing a live online chat on Wednesday at 7 p.m., in addition to the full coverage online at modbee.com and in Thursday's editions of The Modesto Bee.