IHSA considering major format change to state basketball tournament

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Morgan Park wins the IHSA Class 3A state championship game against Springfield Southeast, Saturday 03-17-18. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Anyone that has attended one of the state final basketball tournaments in Peoria over the last several years is well aware that there is a problem. Attendance is down and there just isn’t much atmosphere or buzz. Something needs to change.

Most fans and media are in agreement that the change from two classes to four classes in 2008 was a mistake, but there are several other factors at play. There are more outlets competing for eyeballs than ever before, from Netflix to Fortnite to the increased television availability of the NCAA Tournament.

The Illinois High School Association finally seems ready to take action. Peoria’s hosting contract ends after the 2020 tournament. The IHSA will accept bids from other cities and venues to host, but that is a story for another day.

The big news now is that the IHSA board “intends to seek feedback” on playing both the small school and the big school state tournaments on one three-day weekend. So instead of a two-day Class 1A/2A weekend and a two-day Class 3A/4A weekend all four classes would play on the same weekend. One immediate benefit is that everything would wrap up before the NCAA Tournament begins.

The IHSA doesn’t have any specific proposal yet but has confirmed to the Sun-Times that the third place games would remain and that all four title games would be played on Saturday.

Knowing that makes it is fairly easy to assemble a likely schedule:

THURSDAY

Afternoon session

1A semifinal

1A semifinal

Night session

2A semifinal

2A semifinal

FRIDAY

Morning session

1A third place

2A third place

Afternoon session

3A semifinal

3A semifinal

Night session

4A semifinal

4A semifinal

SATURDAY

Morning session

3A third place

4A third place

Afternoon/Night session

1A championship

2A championship

3A championship

4A championship

What do you think of the proposed change? Sound off in the comments. I’ll be talking with coaches and fans over the next few days and follow up with some of their opinions.

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