The chase for the gold ball is underway.
The MHSAA basketball playoffs tip off with first-round games on Monday, Feb. 17 and Tuesday, Feb. 18 and wrap up in three weeks with a new championship destination for the first time in nearly 50 years.
The Pavilion at Ole Miss, which opened in 2016, will host all 12 championship games of the MHSAA C Spire State Tournament from March 5-7 in Oxford.
All 24 semifinal games, scheduled from March 2-4, will remain at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, long-time site of the State Tournament.
The 48 quarterfinal games, which were hosted separately at high school gymnasiums last year, will be split among four neutral venues in 2020: Itawamba Community College and Mississippi Valley State University (Regions 1-4) and the Misssissippi Coast Coliseum and Pearl River Community College (Regions 5-8). Quarterfinals are set for Feb. 27-29.
“We love the tradition of the Mississippi Coliseum and the Big House,” MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton, and we’ll still play twice as many State Tournament games in Jackson than at any of our other venues. That history is important to us.”
“But this change is similar to 2014 when the six MHSAA football championship games begin rotating among Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss after having been at Memorial Stadium for more than 20 years. That turned out to be a step forward that has been very well-received by our schools, coaches, players, communities and partners.”
“We want to play at the very best facilities Mississippi has to offer. Our baseball championships are hosted at Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves. Our softball championships have been hosted by Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Our volleyball championships are hosted at Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi. Our swimming championships are at the new aquatic center in Tupelo. All are first-class facilities. One of our objectives strongly supported and approved by our governing MHSAA Executive Committee — which is made up of school administrators — is to play championship events at championship venues.”
“Also, moving the basketball quarterfinals to neutral venues is a change favored by many of our basketball coaches. In addition to being first-class facilities, the four venues we chose should, over the years, distribute travel more evenly among our schools that participate in the state basketball tournament. This format with regional venues is something a number of our nearby state associations have successfully implemented.”
MHSAA C Spire State Basketball Tournament 2020
First Round — Feb. 17-18 (160 games): Higher-seeded team hosts
Second Round — Feb. 21-22 (96 games): Higher-seeded team hosts
Quarterfinals — Feb. 27-29 (48 games) : Itawamba Community College and Mississippi Valley State University (Regions 1-4); Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Pearl River Community College (Regions 5-8)
Semifinals — March 2-4 (24 games): Mississippi Coliseum
Championships — March 5-7 (12 games): The Pavilion at Ole Miss