Schuckman: Logic seems flawed with setup of IHSA postseason basketball brackets


QUINCY — Is the Illinois High School Association postseason basketball series flawed?

You be the judge.

While scouring brackets and planning our coverage of this week’s boys basketball regionals, I ran across a number of scenarios that made me question the equitable nature of the setup. Because the Quincy schools are at the heart of our readership, I look more closely at those postseason paths, but those aren’t the only ones where logic seems lost.

Here are some things to chew on that may make you go hmmm …

• In Class 4A, there are eight sectionals. Six are seeded straight from 1 to 16, 17 or 18 depending on the number of teams in the sectional. The other two are split into two sub-sectionals and seeded separately.

The IHSA says this is done because of geography, but shouldn’t all sectionals be handled the same?

In Class 3A, four of the eight sectionals are seeded as sub-sectionals. All eight sectionals in both Class 1A and 2A are split into sub-sectionals.

• Of those eight Class 4A sectionals, seven will play both sectional semifinal games at the same site. Only the Pekin Sectional is different. The IHSA moves the semifinal game involving teams from the St. Louis Metro East area to a site in that area.

It’s a benefit for the Metro East teams which have to travel 30 miles or less to the sectional, while a potential opponent such as Quincy will have to travel 120 miles or more.

It is the only sectional in all four classes where both semifinals aren’t played at the same location.

•  There are 22 sectionals in Classes 1A-4A that are split into sub-sectionals, in 21 of those the regional champions cross over in the sectional semifinals. So, the winner of regional involving the top-seeded team in sub-sectional A faces the winner of the regional involving the second seed in sub-sectional B and vice versa.

But that doesn’t apply to the Pekin Sectional. The two regional sites in sub-sectional A are Normal Community and United Township. The winners of those regionals are scheduled to face each other in sectional semifinals. The same holds true for sub-sectional B where the regionals are at Edwardsville and Granite City and those winners face each other in the next round.

Why is one out of 22 different when the state tournament series is supposed to be fair and equitable?

* If you’re going to ask schools to seed the sectionals, stick to the seeds when doing the bracket. If you’re not going to use the seeds as intended, what’s the point of seeding everyone?

For example, Gurnee Warren is the No. 1 seed in its sub-sectional and a regional host. Should the seeds hold through the quarterfinals and semifinals, Warren would normally face the No. 4 seed in the regional championship. Instead, if the seeds hold, it will face third-seeded Waukegan, which carries a 16-13 record.

Algonquin Jacobs is the fourth seed with a 14-17 record and should be Warren’s opponent.

However, the change was made because Warren and Jacobs were the predetermined regional sites. Do away with predetermined regional sites to eliminate this problem and have the higher seeds host regional games.

• If you’re going to adjust seeds and sites, you need to do it everywhere it makes sense or none at all.

In the Class 2A Beardstown Sectional, Quincy Notre Dame received the No. 3 seed in sub-sectional A and Pleasant Plains received the No. 4 seed. However, QND has to drive roughly two hours and 120 miles to the Athens Regional, crossing paths with Pleasant Plains as it drives nearly two hours and 110 miles to the Warsaw Regional.

If the IHSA would have flipped the two, QND would be traveling 30 miles to Warsaw and Pleasant Plains would be traveling 20 miles to Athens.

Because the IHSA stuck to the seeds, which it doesn’t always do, it’s creating needless travel for teams and fans.

Organizing a state tournament series that appeases everyone is impossible, and any changes made would likely be met with some resistance from some factions. But a logical approach to the decision making may eliminate some of the criticism the IHSA faces.

The way things are now, how much logic is being used should be questioned.

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