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Seeding system: a look around the ‘other’ states

Basketball seems to have sucked me into this sectional frenzy once again. After the drama of the girls’ post-season the last few weeks to now, I know, like many, to expect the unexpected.
Yet as the draws were posted for the boys’ sectional a week ago, it got me thinking about the other states where I’ve been and how their post-season tournaments are played out.
My first stop was in Kentucky while in college for an internship. Of course, the big debate between Kentucky vs. Indiana: class basketball. The Bluegrass state uses the single-class system, and it seems like they will for a while. The most recent debates have been to separate the public vs. private schools. To me, not a good idea. But the positive about keeping it single class in Kentucky is there are fewer schools participating in Kentucky (276) versus the number in Indiana (396).
But myself, being a native of the Bluegrass state, I don’t think their system could be any other way. The Sweet 16 is the Sweet 16. One part of the post-season in Kentucky that still doesn’t make sense is in the district finals, which is equivalent to our sectional. If a team loses in the finals, they still move on to regional play. There is nothing like winning the district then losing to the same team in the regional.
Then my travels took me to Ohio. Whew. What an adventure. They class every sport possible. They also classify by sex, not overall enrollment numbers. They have an outstanding number of schools ‘ 803 ‘ playing in post-season boys’ basketball. Basketball, like Indiana, is in four classes with twice as many teams. But their classes are called divisions.
Each Ohio team is given a division and state-wide district assignment, splitting the state into six areas, then given a regional and sectional assignment. And because the numbers are classified by sex, a girls’ team may be in Division I, while the boys’ could be Division II, if the numbers fall as such.
For post-season basketball, seeding procedures are totally different, which is the fun part. Within each district (our regional) several weeks before the regular season ends, coaches are required to seed every team. If a particular sectional has 30 teams, all 30 are seeded with No. 1 being the overall best. Coaches are required to provide an updated team record, along with a breakdown of teams they beat in each division (remember, class in Indiana). Taking Lanesville’s boys’ team for example, they would post an 11-8 record and a class win breakdown as such Class A ‘ seven wins, Class 2A ‘ two wins, Class 3A ‘ two wins, Class 4A ‘ no wins.
Talking with an athletic director of a Southwest District team in Ohio, Tim Cook of Western Brown High School, their seeding process takes place over the Internet. He said their coaches have a three-day window in which they can discuss their team’s records, along with overall strengths online. This helps coaches who haven’t seen every team be able to take in the information to determine how they will seed the teams. So Lanesville, for example, can say they went 2-1 versus class 3A schools and most of their eight losses were early in the season, along with other lines of defense.
Once the three-day window of defending your school’s position on how high they should be seeded is closed, there is another three-day window set up to turn in seedings. When all seeds are in from each coach, the tournament director compiles the final results and notifies the coaches immediately. A neat part of the process is that each coach’s seeding ballot is made public. The next day, the coaches or representatives meet at a central location to go from there.
The ‘go from there’ becomes what, I think, is the most interesting part of Ohio’s tournament process. Instead of the lotto ball system in Indiana, districts in Ohio determine how they want to seed the teams, not the state. So if a particular district has voted to seed the 30 teams similar to the NCAA brackets, pairing the best against the worst, they can. If they want to use the lotto balls, they can, but all teams must be seeded.
In Cook’s Southwest District, they take a unique approach. First, they lay out a 30-team bracket with 30 blank spaces. Then, in order from 1 to 30, starting with the highest seeded team, schools pick where they want to go on the bracket. Another twist is that teams can pass to the next team. For example, if the first seeded team passes, the second seeded team picks where they want to go. If the second seeded team goes on the bracket, you go back to the highest seeded team (in this case the No. 1 seed) and give them the option of going on the bracket. This continues until all teams are on the brackets.
‘This has been a very successful system,’ Cook said. ‘Our Division III Girls Basketball seed meeting usually takes about 15 minutes. In the past, it would be much longer.’
Scenarios include teams electing to take first-round byes or play in the first game. They can play a top team if they wanted to early on or stall for a cupcake. They could elect to play a rival in the first game. Or, if you are the No. 30 seed, you just hope to not play the No. 1 when your time finally comes.
Teams re-draw figures every two years as far as division (classes). And yes, Kentucky supporters, Ohio is a single-elimination tournament.
So there are my experiences with post-season tournaments. Personally, the Ohio way of doing things can lead to some drama. Kentucky is Kentucky. And I think Indiana has found its thing. I happen to like class basketball, but I wasn’t around for the single-class days. Personally, I think the time has come to classify more sports than just football, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball, but that is another debate.
My thoughts on presenting this came about while putting a laughable vod-cast together online. It forced me into look back and compare Indiana’s system to the surrounding states and how they set up their brackets. It came about after seeing the work Lanesville will have to do to win the boys’ sectional, being a part of a stacked side of their bracket. It was also seeing the girls at Corydon Central fight through the toughest side of their sectional bracket to take home the hardware.
So my overall thoughts? I don’t mind the system in Indiana and even like the fact of a blind draw. If Charlestown and Salem have to hook up in the first round, so be it. The two best teams ‘ if they are the two best ‘ eventually will play regardless. Take South Central, North Harrison and Corydon Central this week ‘ all with favorable draws ‘ have the possibility to reach the finals this weekend provided they play a few good games along the way. There is no denying they haven’t been the best teams this year, but you never know, regardless of state, what can happen in a sectional final.
I can hardly wait.