Can we just seed it already?


S. Findley

Ella Hobson drives to the rim against Ben Davis.

Sam Findley, Sports Editor

As I watched the girl’s basketball sectional pairing showing last Sunday night, I couldn’t help but think about one thing: What if Center Grove draws Franklin in the first round of the sectional? 

Center Grove and Franklin are the two best teams in the sectional by a sizable margin and yet they could still draw each other for the first round. How is this possible? 

Because the sectionals aren’t seeded and the regular season doesn’t matter to the IHSAA. 

It’s simple: the two best teams shouldn’t have the possibility of running into each other in the first or second round. Not only that if you are the best team in a sectional you should get a bye. This is the only way to reward winning in the regular season.

Besides the obvious Franklin and Center Grove matchup, there are multiple situations throughout the postseason. In sectional 10 An unranked 4-16 (worst record in the sectional)  Arsenal Tech team gets a bye when 4A No. 7 North Central has to play in the first round. 

4A No. 6 Noblesville has the unfortunate luck of having the hardest path to a sectional title, likely having to defeat three ranked teams. 

The IHSAA likes money, so does everyone, wouldn’t it make more revenue and more sense having the two best teams play as late in the sectional as possible. Having the best possible teams set to face each other in the championship builds hype and ensures the best crowd. 

Looking past sectionals, the teams should be seeded with the best teams facing the worst teams and on opposite sides of the bracket. There is also another issue with regionals and semi-state: teams can play at home in the regional and semi-state games.

That should never be the case if we aren’t going to give the teams who are the best home-court advantage in those games then we shouldn’t allow the teams who have the biggest gyms. 

Center Grove has had to deal with this very issue multiple times after escaping their sectional and having to travel to Bedford North Lawrence to play the same team that is hosting the regional game. 

In the 2018-2019 and 2017-2018 seasons, Center Grove’s postseason ended to Bedford North Lawrence at Bedford North Lawrence. Both of those years Center Grove had arguably the better team yet they were set up for failure being forced to play an opponent on the road.

The IHSAA should always have a secondary location on standby so no team has home-court advantage past sectionals. Playing in a sterile environment benefits the best teams, not just the team who’s lucky enough to have the biggest gym. 

Determining the best team in a sectional or the state could be difficult. However, Indiana has a unique tool to assist in the seeding of the sectionals and the playoffs in the Sagarin ratings, a computer ranking program that seeds basketball and football. Even if the IHSAA doesn’t have the manpower to seed the tournament, they wouldn’t have to; there’s already a tool that can do that for them.

The Sagrain ratings also provide a pure stats-based approach to seeding in comparison to coaching polls that are largely based on the reputation and familiarity of the team. How do we expect Center Grove to decide whether Columbia City or East Central is the better team when CG hasn’t played either of them or even a common opponent. 

In the current state of high school sports in Indiana, the regular season doesn’t matter, conference and county championships are just cute. Making it so you increase your chances in the state tournament improves the chances of having teams care more about those regular-season titles creating an atmosphere where every game truly matters. 

Upsets are going to happen in the state tournament and we are lucky the IHSAA has a state tournament when many states don’t but the best teams shouldn’t be set up for upsets and the best way to not set the best up for failure is by seeding the playoffs and sectionals.