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- Sports coverage in 2020-21 (1/6/21)
- Kudos to those that made the 2020 Classic happen (1/1/21)
- Day 1 of the Classic was a doozy (12/26/20)
- It's still the Wabash Valley Classic, even if we have no idea what to expect (12/23/20)
Is it time to make changes to the sectional hoops format?
Going to and from work while in college, I would often listen to ESPN Radio, specifically SVP and Russillo.
During the summer months, when the topics were limited to Major League Baseball and NFL training camp updates, the shows would have to find segments to fill their daily three-hour time slots on the air.
Among the topics that fit the bill during July and August? How to fix different sports (implementing new rules/getting rid of other rules to enhance the product on the field or court) or sporting events such as All-Star games.
For some reason, that popped into my mind when the boys high school basketball sectional draw took place a few Sundays ago.
Watching the live show like so many others around the state, I admittedly let out a sigh of disbelief when I saw the unveiling of the Class A White River Valley Sectional bracket.
Knowing the juggernaut that is Class A No. 1 Bloomfield was the favorite to advance to the sectional championship – as well as the favorite to win the sectional championship game – it was imperative for all of the other teams to avoid the Cardinals in the first two rounds, hoping by the time they saw them in Saturday’s title tilt, they would be a little fatigued from working their way through the opening round and the semifinal.
But as it turned out, Clay City, which was far and away the second best team in the sectional field, was matched up against the state’s No. 1 team in the sectional opener on Wednesday.
Those two being placed against each other was always a possibility with the blind draw that the IHSAA uses to set the state tournament’s brackets.
But what if Indiana adopted the rules to seed the sectional like our neighbors to the west in Illinois have done for their regional – which is the equivalent to Indiana’s sectional?
Illinois uses the following format to set its bracket, “Within the regional, coaches seed the teams. The winners of the four regional tournaments then meet in a single elimination sectional tournament. The teams are not re-seeded after regional play, and the winners of the regional tournament are randomly assigned, in advance, to play the winner of one of the other regionals in the sectional semifinals.”
Now, I’m not necessarily in favor of the coaches being the ones to seed the tournament, but I’m not totally opposed to it either. I think it would be fairer than a blind draw that has the best two teams playing each other in the first round, though.
My idea? Have each of the sectional teams play each other during the regular season, similar to that in college, and then seed them based on their head-to-head records. If there’s a tie in records, then a secondary ruling such as the most points scored or fewest points given up could decide the higher/lower seedings.
Based on how the IHSAA currently sets its brackets, this was the Class A White River Valley Sectional bracket (Note: the record in parentheses indicates the team’s wins and losses against sectional opponents during the regular season):
North Central (1-5) received the bye
Shakamak (3-4) vs. Bloomington Lighthouse (4-3)
White River Valley (3-5) vs. Dugger Union (0-4)
Bloomfield (8-0) vs. Clay City (4-2)
Now, if it were seeded based on regular season records against sectional opponents, this would have been the Class A White River Valley Sectional bracket:
Bloomfield (8-0) would have received the bye
Shakamak (3-4) vs. White River Valley (3-5)
Bloomington Lighthouse (4-3) vs. North Central (1-5)
Clay City (4-2) vs. Dugger (0-8)
Maybe things would have shaken out the same way as it eventually did – with Bloomfield winning the sectional championship – but, in opinion, by seeding the tournament, there would have been a better chance of the two best teams playing for the title on Saturday night in Switz City – and likely in several other towns around the Hoosier State.
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