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2022-23 IHSAA Boys Basketball Tournament Format


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How about the “new” look of the IHSAA boys’ basketball tournament? In that the formats of the second and third weekends were flip-flopped, this newer version hasn’t a real advantage over the old format. This year, sectional class champions will play one game for a regional class championship and the following weekend, the four surviving teams from two regional sites will have a one-day elimination. Two semi-state games will be played in the morning session with a championship game that evening. This much is an improvement.

Further consideration reveals that the new format presents opportunity for the northern and southern ends of the state to each have additional regional tournament site designations. In this regard, the new prescription hasn’t changed a bit from the old format. For example, the Class 3A tournament site at Washington will still host sectional champions from Greensburg, Charleston, Southridge, and Boonville. Each team will play one game with this site’s two winners advancing to the semi-state.

Why should four Class 3A schools have to go to the same regional tournament site? It worked under the old format when it served to narrow the field to one surviving team, but that purpose no longer exists. As such, it no longer makes sense with having the winners of Greensburg and Charlestown sectionals to travel about three hours westward for playing each other, and it begs to question if THAT is what a “regional” is supposed to be.

I think it is forgotten that at its inception, the tournament was as much for its spectators as it was for players. This makes necessary yet another alteration in tournament design for yielding a reduction of distances. This alteration will result in the advancement from sectional, to regional, to semi-state, and onward to the state finals, which encompasses an increasing representative area having greater driving distances ONLY as a team keeps advancing.

It therefore makes sense to have two Class 3A sectional champions, as with Classes 1A, 2A, and 4A, to compete at tournament sites designated for their respective Indiana region. With four classes of competition, then each regional class boundary should be approximated around two regional sites for accommodating eight teams. A designation of four teams, comprised of two classes, will appear at each site for one game between respective class counterparts. This much is in keeping with the old tournament format of semi-state weekend, and as the flip-flop which created the new format had intended.

With there being four regions in each of the northern and southern halves of Indiana, it leaves for each class to have four representatives at each of the northern and southern semi-state sites, with the surviving northern and southern counterparts to play a week later for the state championship.   

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