The Hoosier State has a problem with its basketball class alignment affecting its postseason product, Hoosier Hysteria.

There is only one sectional field among the 64 sectionals spread among four classes fielding 8 teams in this year’s tournament. Additionally, only 18 sectionals field 7 teams, and the rest are littered with 6-, and 5-team fields.

I think these five-, and six-team sectional fields are bad for the tournament. While 64 venues are getting an opportunity to host postseason action, Sunday night’s pairings show made me think of how diluted many of the 64 current sectionals are among four classes

It’s the consequence of having four classes with equal distribution based on apportioned enrollment rankings (classes ranging from 99 to 104 schools) where you have to get to a final from base 2 origins (like 16, 64).

There will be 405 schools eligible for postseason tournament play in the spring of 2024 when the next round of school enrollment classifications take place.

There’s another tournament problem greater than the enrollment disparity most people grouse about in the Class 4A basketball tournament field, and the need for an additional large-enrollment class.

The increased number of small schools formed, on the other hand, has adversely affected the overall quality of small school basketball in the postseason tournament. Frankly, most of these newly-formed schools are mercy rule fodder for Class 1A (and Class 2A in some cases) working their way through the postseason grind.

These schools have bumped 1A-caliber teams into class 2A, and there is a bit of ripple into the 2A-to-3A cusp alignment to boot.

There are Class 1A programs like Triton (11-9) and Argos (13-7) who will open quarterfinal play against each other. Each of these programs schedules tough, non-conference competition, and they share the same side of the bracket with Marquette Catholic and Westville (both 15-7).

The other side of the bracket has Trinity Greenlawn (4-16), one of those private schools I mentioned, and perennially mediocre Culver (10-10) playing to meet 2-20 Oregon Davis.

Oregon Davis, and Trinity Greenlawn, along with six other teams – maybe even Culver - would have to play into a quarterfinal in my proposed sectional tournament change.

Furthermore, while part of this problem is the aforementioned blind draw, the following is another example of a 6-team sectional field in Class 1A where it would be fair to say none of the field deserves a sectional title, and should be thrown into a larger field with a touch of Sagarin ratings to improve the quality of the quarterfinal field.

The West Central sectional features (what a generous term) Frontier (9-11) vs. Caston (7-14), and West Central (7-14) vs. South Newton (1-19) in a quarterfinal to earn a berth to play Tri County (9-12), and North White (5-16) respectively.

Macro level sectional changes should include a fifth enrollment class, the reduction of sectionals from 16 to 8, no quarterfinal byes, and Monday play-ins not at the sectional sites among classes with more than 64 schools.

This would lead to regional and semistate rounds where there would no longer be two games played on the two Saturdays preceding the state finals.

I’ll be more specific about my proposed realignment I hope to see in the spring of 2024. It would satisfy some minor concerns among the current 4A enrollment disparity, but - better yet - swiftly separate the wheat from the chafe in the early rounds providing a swift exit from the IHSAA state basketball tourney, and a better 8-sectional field likely drawing more fan interest.

Class 5A and Class 4A will each have 8 sectionals fielding 8 teams each, playing quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday (2 games each day), a Friday semifinal, and a Saturday final.

36 of this year’s 4A schools will remain in the new 4A alignment. 28 of this year’s smallest 4A schools will move to 3A.

Familiar teams in the newly-formed 5A will be Concord, Goshen, Mishawaka, and Warsaw. The enrollment levels will range from nearly 1,500 to Carmel’s monstrous 5,200. This is still a big gap, and most of the bigger schools will cannibalize themselves in the Southern groupings. Unlike football, schools even with this enrollment disparity can compete better than they can in football.

Familiar teams in 4A will be Huntington North, Northridge, Plymouth, and Wawasee with enrollments in the class ranging from 780 to 1,450 students.

I mentioned the twist among Classes 3A, 2A, and 1A, who would have more than 64 teams in their respective classes by the draw of play-in games.

These play-in games will determine who comprises the 8-team quarterfinal fields among these classes, and those teams with automatic quarterfinal berths will be based on Sagarin ratings.

The play in game host would be the second team of each game’s draw. This is where it gets dicey among many of you, but, hey, all of our gyms will be dark on Monday anyway.

Each quarterfinal team in waiting will be designated the guest team.

The IHSAA could further incentivize the affected play-in teams by mandating a split in the concession and gate revenues after payments have been made to event workers and officials.

Teams like Argos, Triton, Andrean, Marquette Catholic, Fairfield, Tri, Winchester, and Blackhawk to name a few will benefit from the potential to earn an automatic quarterfinal berth, but there will still be no semifinal berths due to a bye.

One state tournament with two separate rules? Certainly.

It’s a different world among the smaller classes these days, and the onus of the play-in round should appropriately be the greatest in Classes 1A, and 2A.

It’s a cynical take, but it’s practical, too.

Let’s continue with Class 3A’s sectional changes.

Local teams Tippecanoe Valley and Manchester along with 11 other schools in this year’s Class 2A group will form an 85-team tournament among 8 sectionals. Five sectionals will field 11 teams and three sectionals will field 10 teams.

The five 11-team sectionals will have three Monday play-in games to earn one Tuesday and two Wednesday quarterfinal berths. The three Class 3A 10-team sectionals will host two Monday play-in games where the winners will fill out the Wednesday quarterfinal bracket.

The road for the smaller schools, diluted by the expansion of smaller private and charter schools, will be tougher. The Sagarin ratings for the automatic quarterfinal berths will be the fruits of playing tougher schedules and performing better.

Regardless of the intended spirit of the IHSAA tournament, who really wants to sit in Bourbon on March 3 to watch 2-20 Oregon Davis in a semifinal? This team, in my proposal, needs to play in to earn a quarterfinal berth.

Each class would have 96 teams who will play in eight 12-team sectionals with four Monday play-in games with four quarterfinal opponents awaiting games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There’s a captive audience in an 8-team quarterfinal you don’t have when a school with a 5-team field hosts one game on a Tuesday and goes dark until Friday.

I am eager to see what the IHSAA will come up with. Will it be anything like my proposal?

I certainly hope at the very least we’ll never again see a 5- or 6-team sectional.

As boy-band NSYNC once sang, “Bye Bye Bye” to the bye.