Tuesday, June 28, 2022 7:09 PM
We knew the IHSAA was considering some pretty big changes to the boys’ and girls’ basketball tournaments when they met last week, but the changes they approved weren’t what we thought they would be. they envisioned.
The IHSAA announced last Thursday that it is making an adjustment to the route teams must take to get to the state championship game.
Starting next winter, regionals in each class for each gender will be single-match events and will likely include multiple regionals in different classes at the same venue.
The semi-states will become four-man tournaments, with two semi-finals and a championship on the same day.
The executive committee voted 15 to 2 to make this change. It’s based on polls of managers and sporting directors over the past year, which found nearly three in four people want to see more teams extend their seasons longer.
The point is this: in the current format, the number of basketball teams playing at the semi-state level is 16 across the four classes. Those 16 are reduced to eight for the state finals. With the format approved last week, that number will increase to 32.
That’s twice as many schools organizing more pep rallies.
That’s twice as many schools selling “semi-state-bound” t-shirts.
That’s twice as many schools feeling the thrill of being a basketball day away from a trip to Indy.
It’s hard to argue with that, isn’t it?
More the merrier, the merrier!
The immediate reaction on social media was that the change would throw cold water on teams who only needed to win one game to be called “regional champions” compared to previous years when two wins were needed.
It should be mentioned that there were years early in the class basketball system where regionals were single games on Tuesday nights.
My answer to that is that when class basketball started over 25 years ago, one of the arguments against was that small school championships would be belittled because they only beat small schools. “Who will care who wins the 1A and 2A state titles?” they proclaimed.
Well, what we found was that the smaller schools didn’t really care what kind of shadow people wanted to cast on their success. They just wanted the chance to succeed.
We also discovered that people also care about state champions. Now, it’s worth pointing out that depending on where you live, this feeling can change. For example, the Indy metro area cares more about 4A because most of its schools are 4A. In surrounding suburbs and counties, they more closely follow 3A. In rural areas, you are more likely to attend a smaller school if you have some sort of connection to schools that still play.
Part of me really likes the way it was. If you survive the regional round and the two matches in one day that comes with it, it made what followed a lot easier. The teams that won the regionals might be called “Final Four teams”, which traditionally means that a banner will hang on a wall or rafter in your gym. It also means that these teams only have to focus on one team during the week they play for a trip to the state championship game. The Final Four squads will now be determined mid-afternoon on the third Saturday of February and March, and there will be yet another game to be played that day.
It also means more fans will have longer commutes on longer days during the semi-state week. That means two-hour bus rides home after games that end well after 10 p.m. for Eastern Time Zone schools playing their half-states in the Central Time Zone.
It usually doesn’t take me long to form an opinion on these things, leaving me room to change my mind based on new facts and evidence as we get a larger sample of the results.
I think we’ll all have to experiment with the new format for a year or two before we know for sure if it works or not.
Some of you will immediately respond with something sarcastic like “Well, those idiots at IHSAA are always messing things up…” or something like that.
Most of these people think we should go back to one-class basketball, and we certainly don’t.
I’m willing to wait and see how it works.
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