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In a sports league, the ranking of a team is the place where it is within the division. Generally, ranking is based on won-lost record of games, with the team with the best record at the top, and the worst record at the bottom. Teams with the better records are awarded the advantage of playing in the postseason and all the glory that accompanies this privilege. Being in last place is undesirable for its reputation, though in some sports, the last place finisher may have some benefits, such as being offered the first draft choice.
In the Indian Premier League, there are 52 matches in each league. This is being upgraded to 96 matches from 2011. Top three teams in this league, automatically makes it to the Champions League Twenty20, held by International Cricket Council every year.
In Major League Baseball, there are three divisions in each league. The leader in each division automatically makes the playoffs, regardless of record. As of 2012, two additional teams, known as the wild cards, play one game to determine who will face the division winner with the best record. From 1995 to 2011, a single wild card team reached the playoffs; before 1969 one team from each league reached the World Series, and from 1969 to 1993 each league had two divisions, whose leaders played a series to determine the league champion and entrant in the World Series. The 1994 season was played using a three-division, one-wild-card setup, but a labor dispute ended the season before these honors could be earned by any team (the first time in 99 years America would be without a World Series).
In the Division Series, the team with the best record of the three plays the wild card team, and the other two teams play each other in a best-of-five playoff. However if the wild card team is from the same division as the best team in the league, the second best division winner plays the wild card team and the best team plays the third best division winner. The winners of each series play each other in a League Championship Series in a best-of-seven playoff to determine the pennant winner. The two pennant winners then play a best-of-seven series known as the World Series to determine the champion.
In the NBA and NHL, finishing in last place does not guarantee the first draft choice. Rather, a lottery is used between all of the lower-ranking teams (The 14 out of 30 that failed to reach the postseason). The team with the worst record is given the highest odds of winning the lottery (often 4-to-1), but is not guaranteed the first choice. In the NBA, the first three draft choices are chosen via the lottery, and each winning team receives the draft place it won in the lottery. In the NHL, only one lottery winner is chosen, and if the team is not one of the four worst teams record-wise in the league, it improves four positions in the draft. If the team is one of the worst four, it receives the first draft choice. In both leagues, the remaining teams are sorted by their records during the regular season (lottery teams) or playoff performance. The lottery only affects the first round of the draft. This format is used to prevent a team from losing intentionally in order to automatically gain the first draft choice privilege.
In the NFL, there are two conferences—the AFC and NFC—which are each divided into four divisions—North, South, East, and West. The winner of each division plus two "wild card" teams from each conference advance into the playoffs. The two teams with the best record in each conference receive byes from the first round of the playoffs and advance to the second round automatically. The four other teams play single-elimination games and the winners advance to play the two bye teams. The winners of those games advance to the conference championship games and then to the Super Bowl, where the winner receives the Lombardi Trophy and title of Super Bowl Champion, along with championship rings for each member. The NFL Draft is held every April and the order of selection is based on the records from the 16-game regular season, from worst to best, with the Super Bowl Champions selecting 32nd. Trading rules are the same as in basketball and hockey, and trading the rights of players after they have been drafted but before they have signed a contract is not uncommon.