After the state finals our good friend Brandon Sisson of Floyd Central made a post about a potential conflict with the 2024 NBA All-Star game and our state finals. In 2021 the All-Star game was supposed to be held in Indianapolis, but they had a different date that did not conflict with the wrestling state finals. However, the 2024 game will indeed conflict with the wrestling state finals. The IHSAA along with the IHSWCA now has just under two years to figure out a plan for the state finals. On top of the wrestling state finals having a conflict, the boys basketball state finals in 2024 will have issues with Indianapolis hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Before I go on with the options for 2024, a couple things to consider. The girl’s basketball state finals are slated for the week after wrestling. The IHSAA likely does not want two of their bigger state finals events on the same weekend. Even so this would push the girls out of Gainbridge Fieldhouse which would in turn likely cause a lot of negative press. Pushing the wrestling state finals to the week after our normal date would seem to be an option that would be the hardest to pull off. That would almost certainly require pushing the girl's basketball state finals to the next weekend and possibly start the boys tournament a week later. The chain reaction of that is enough to make administrators at the IHSAA and school level cringe.
Here are the options that we have
Keep the date, but change the venue.
This will be a big obstacle as there are some venues big enough to host the event, but location is a huge factor. Venues such as the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne and Ford Center in Evansville both can hold about 10,000 in a hockey arena setup. They are however in the furthest corners of the state which would not be well received by many people further away. Arenas such as Mackey Arena, Assembly Hall, Butler Fieldhouse, or Indiana State’s updated Hulman Center would likely be able to handle the crowds. Of course, that poses the availability issue along with hotels and restaurants capable of handling a two day event at the college locations.
Move the date, but keep the venue
With this option we have a few different scenarios that could play out
1. Move the whole state series back a week.
Pros: Keep our 4 week state series
Cons: Possibly lose a week of the season
Commentary: We have two options with this, the first is simply cutting a week off of the regular season and the second starting the season a week earlier. With both we have potential conflicts. If we start the regular season a week earlier we still have a lot of conflicts with football early in the season. Both of these options would create scheduling issues with conference tournaments and simply being able to fill schedules with one less week.
2. Create a 3 week state series
Pros: No scheduling issues
Cons: Logistics with a new state series configuration
Commentary: With this option we have a multitude of different options that might just be the most feasible. There have been murmurs for a while about a three week state series from those within the wrestling community. One of the biggest proponents include the referee associations that are finding it harder and harder to find enough referees for the state series. One factor to consider is the events being held at the Ford Center and Memorial Coliseum and the availability of having our semi-state a week earlier. With any of the plans there could be a chain reaction that goes all the way back to the first week of the state series.
Here are the options that we could see
16-20 team sectionals
The new super-super sectional that is basically a regional compacted into one weekend. With just over 300 schools it would mean we have an average of 18 schools in the new bigger sectionals. This would likely require a two-day event due to the possibility of some weight classes having over 16 entries. The logistics of a two-day event are big when you are talking about a state series event.
With regional being an 8 man bracket this is very logical to have it mid-week and get it done on a Wednesday. There would possibly be some travel issues, however schools are a little more forgiving for tournament series events.
Create 5 sectionals with Top 3 advancing to each regional/semi-state
This is the most radical change, but something to ponder. This would give us sectionals with no more than 16 teams thus being able to keep it at a one day event. The biggest drawback would be the absolute chaos at the new qualifying event super semi-state. There would be a random bye and then two #1’s would meet for a spot at state. The draws here could be absolutely brutal in some areas.
One of the biggest questions that would arise after 2024 is, will the IHSAA continue with the modified system? We might need an emergency coaches vote at state to change something, much like this past year.
There are likely other options, but these are some that come to mind. Which one do you like? Do you have a better option that the IHSAA could explore?