The Importance of the State Bracket Draw

Posted: April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

For those new to the sport or unfamiliar with the postseason process, there is an event that takes place every April that is of the utmost importance to the sport of water polo. The IHSA uses a blind drawing to determine the state final pairings, usually asking a media member or a school official to draw numerical peas from a bottle. Each sectional is assigned a number, and the order of the draw helps set the brackets for the state quarterfinals, semifinals, and final games.

This means that instead of seeding the final eight teams at the state tournament, the teams are randomly assigned to play any of the other sectional winners in the quarterfinal round. While this may seem like a fair way to assign the matchups, the randomness of it all can also lead to opening round matchups where the top-ranked team in the state plays the second-ranked team in the quarterfinals, thus eliminating one of the top two teams from trophy contention before Saturday’s semifinal and final rounds. Over the course of the last decade, there have been many quarterfinal round matchups that featured games like: #1 Fenwick vs #2 Brother Rice (boys), #1 Fenwick vs #2 Mother McAuley (girls), and #1 Lyons vs #3 Naperville North (boys). Hence the importance of the draw.

The IHSA normally does not announce the date of the draw. They just announce the results after it has occurred. If I can pin down a date via one of their executive directors, I will post that information immediately. Otherwise, the draw has been completed on the following dates over the past four years: April 21 (2010), April 15 (2011), April 13 (2012), April 17 (2013). It is definitely “coming soon”.

  1. Mike Hutton says:

    As stated in it’s mission, the IHSA is (and has always) concerned themselves with geographic representation from around Illinois in state-series competitions. They do NOT (and rightly so) concern themselves with re-seeding teams that advance to the State Final after the Sectional or Super-Sectional round so that #1 would play #8 in a quarterfinal game, #2 v #7, #3 v #6, etc. That’s just the way it is.

    I would use the term “impactful,” rather than “important” in describing the draw. Remember too that this is used in all bracketed team sports, and not just water polo.

  2. illpolo says:

    This wasn’t an argument for or against re-seeding the teams. Just that the draw is an event that should be circled on the calendar if the IHSA wanted to announce it beforehand.

    The post even states “While this may seem like a fair way to assign the matchups…” because it is is understandable and unlikely that the governing body of all sports would be able to re-seed each individual sport themselves. The trade off is that random matchups can end up occurring that are less than favorable, and thus, people should be interested in the results of the draw whenever it takes place.

    • Aqua fan says:

      From speaking w a large sample size of polo participants, it is unfair to the players for the Ihsa to randomly seed teams against each other early to eliminate each other in the state tournament. Totally unfair to the kids and that’s why you have a regular season anyhow. It needs to be changed along w sectionals. All these top teams miss the chance to play at state when they should be there ; because of sectionals or the 1,2,3 and 4 seeds are all on the same side like this year w the girls. State should be the top teams period. Be fair to the kids. 1 plays 8; 2 plays seven, and so on.

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