The Final Four in which the four teams (out of eight) with the best records qualify for the postseason playoff games was instituted in Season 56 (1993–94). Previously the postseason was a championship series between the top two teams, with the #1 seeded team holding the twice to beat advantage, i.e., they have to win only once to clinch the championship. The #2 team has to win twice.
The tournament is now conducted in three stages with the institution of the Final Four playoffs:
- The two-round eliminations, where a team plays the other teams twice. The four teams with the worst records are eliminated.
- The semifinals, wherein the #1 seeded team plays the 4th seeded team and the #2 seeded team plays the 3rd seeded team. Both #1 and #2 seeded teams possess the twice to beat advantage, while the #3 and #4 teams have to win twice.
- The finals, which is a best of three series.
On the year before the implementation of the Final Four playoffs, the University of Santo Tomas swept the elimination round, and following the then existing rules, the Glowing Goldies were awarded the championship outright. After that season, the UAAP revised the rule so that the team that sweeps the elimination round will instead advance to the best-of-3 Finals automatically. While the #2 team will have the twice to beat advantage in the semifinals where it awaits the winner of the game between the #3 and #4 teams.
The revised postseason format was implemented in Season 57 (1994–95) but it was not until Season 70 (2007–08) that a team swept the elimination rounds. The University of the East was the first to accomplish this feat under the new format, causing the sweep clause to be used. UE thus automatically advanced to the Finals but this reward became a bane as the Red Warriors had to wait for 21 days before the championship series can be started due to several factors, namely, the unavailability of the playing venue (Araneta Coliseum), two tie-breaker games and two semifinal games. The Red Warriors became rusty, so to speak, causing them to lose the championship series 2–0 against La Salle (their last elimination round opponent). As a result, the Policy Board formulated the "bonus rule" in which the team that sweeps the elimination rounds will qualify for the Finals outright but will only need to win twice; the other finalist needs to win thrice. Thus, giving the sweeper a 1-0 lead in a virtual best-of-five.
For the men's tournament, ties among the semifinalists were broken by an extra game, irrespective of the seedings. Ergo, in a tie for the 2nd seed, the game that will be used to break the tie serves as a de facto game one of a best-of-three series. If two teams are tied for the fourth seed, the game that will be used to break the tie serves as a knockout game between the two. If three or more teams are tied, usually the team with the best points difference gets a bye to the final tie-breaker game against the winner/s of the teams with the lower points difference. In Season 72 (2009–10), the league abolished the tiebreaker games and instead will use "common sense" in determining seedings for the playoffs in case of ties.
In juniors' and women's tournaments, only ties for second and fourth are broken by an extra game. Ties for first and third are broken by the points difference of the tied teams.
Read more about this topic: UAAP Final Four
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