Analysis

What would have 1-to-32 brackets looked like in 2021?

Lena-Winslow celebrates its Class 1A state championship win over Carrollton on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Northern Illinois University's Huskie Stadium.

The IHSA announced Monday that beginning next season all eight classifications will be restored to the 1 through 32 seeding process.

The prior system, in place from 2016 through last season, put just Class 7A and Class 8A in a 1-to-32 bracket with no consideration for geography. Class 1A through Class 6A were divided into 16-team north and south brackets since 2016. The IHSA has used other forms, with eight-team quadrants being most common, but always maintaining some sort of north vs. south alignment.

The last time all classifications had brackets from 1 to 32 was in 2001. It was in that form for just two years for all classifications as the playoff field expanded from 192 qualifying teams to 256 at the end of the 1999 campaign.

So with that knowledge in place, let’s look at how the 2021 brackets would have taken shapen with no north and south brackets.

The results for each of the six classifications where the revision will take place next season are below, with the 2021 north-south bracket on the left and the 1-32 bracket on the right:

Class 1A

2021 N/S Bracket2021 1/32 Bracket
North BracketTop Bracket
(16) Wethersfield at (1) Abingdon(32) Villa Grove at (1) Camp Point Central
(9) Iroquois West at (8) Monmouth(17) Moweaqua A&M at (16) Nokomis
(13) Ridgeview at (4) Rushville(25) Brown County at (8) Rushville
(12) Hope Academy at (5) St. Bede(24) Hope Academy at (9) St. Bede
(15) Princeville at (2) Ott. Marquette(29) Shelbyville at (4) Abingdon
(10) Raby at (7) Fulton(20) Raby at (13) Sesser-Valier
(14) Galena at (3) Forreston(27) Macon Meridian at (5) Cumberland
(11) Aurora Christian at (6) Lena-Winslow(21) Casey-Westfield at (12) Fulton
South BracketBottom Bracket
(16) Villa Grove at (1) Camp Point Central(31) Wethersfield at (2) Carrollton
(9) Nokomis at (8) Moweaqua A&M(18) Monmouth at (15) Iroquois West
(13) Brown County at (4) Cumberland(26) Ridgeview at (7) Forreston
(12) Winchester at (5) Arcola(23) Aurora Christian at (10) Lena-Winslow
(15) Shelbyville at (2) Carrollton(30) Princeville at (3) Athens
(10) Salt Fork at (7) Greenfield(19) Salt Fork at (14) Greenfield
(14) Macon Meridian at (3) Athens(27) Macon Meridian at (6) Ott. Marquette
(11) Casey-Westfield at (6) Sesser-Valier(22) Winchester at (11) Arcola

Breakdown: Obviously, the final wouldn’t have been the same with Lena-Winslow and Carrollton colliding in the quarterfinal round in the 1-32 system. Three of the four semifinalists are on the bottom side of the 1-32 bracket and five of the eight quarterfinalists are on the bottom side. The bracket has six of the 16 first-round matchups exactly the same in either formula. Also, Forreston didn’t catch much of a break either way. In both scenarios it would lock horns with rival Lena-Winslow in the second round, provided that Forreston could have gotten past north/south semifinalist Ridgeview in their opening-round game.

Class 2A

2021 N/S Bracket2021 1-32 Bracket
North BracketTop Bracket
(16) Julian at (1) Wilmington(32) Julian at (1) St. Teresa
(9) Mercer Co. at (8) Sterling Newman(17) Mercer Co. at (16) Tremont
(13) McNamara at (4) Knoxville(25) White Co. at (8) Johnston City
(12) Clifton Central at (5) Erie(24) Lawrenceville at (9) Knoxville
(15) Rockridge at (2) Tri-Valley(29) Rockridge at (4) Pana
(10) N. Lawndale at (7) DC-Mackinaw(20) N. Lawndale at (13) Chester
(14) El Paso at (3) Farmington(28) El Paso at (5) Farmington
(11) Momence at (6) Tremont(21) Momence at (12) Vandalia
South BracketBottom Bracket
(16) Flora at (1) St. Teresa(31) Flora at (2) Wilmington
(9) Chester at (8) Vandalia(18) DC-Mackinaw at (15) Erie
(13) White Co. at (4) Mater Dei(26) McNamara at (7) Mater Dei
(12) Lawrenceville at (5) Johnston City(23) Clifton Central at (10) Nashville
(15) Arthur at (2) Pana(30) Arthur at (3) Tri-Valley
(10) Westville at (7) Maroa-Forsyth(19) Sterling Newman at (14) Westville
(14) North Mac at (3) Bismarck-Henning(27) North Mac at (6) Bismarck-Henning
(11) Mendon Unity at (6) Nashville(22) Mendon Unity at (11) Maroa-Forsyth

Breakdown: Another situation where a title game from the north/south system – Wilmington vs. Nashville – couldn’t be rekindled in the 1-32 bracket. And once again three of the four semifinalists are on the bottom side of the 1-32 bracket and five of the eight quarterfinalists are as well. Just three matchups repeat themselves from the previous system and the 1-32 bracket provides several potential matchups that likely wouldn’t be created in a geographic setup.

Class 3A

2021 N/S Bracket2021 1-32 Bracket
North BracketTop Bracket
(16) Catalyst/Maria at (1) Byron(32) Catalyst/Maria at (1) Byron
(9) Carver at (8) Lisle(17) Lisle at (16) Eureka
(13) Peotone at (4) Reed-Custer(25) Mendota at (8) Reed-Custer
(12) Elmwood at (5) Clark(24) Hoopeston at (9) Clark
(15) N. Boone at (2) Princeton(29) Piasa SW at (4) Benton
(10) King at (7) Prairie Central(20) Monmouth at (13) Monticello
(14) Mendota at (3) Du-Pec(28) N. Boone at (5) Princeton
(11) Monmouth at (6) IC Catholic(21) Elmwood at (12) Prairie Central
South BracketBottom Bracket
(16) Newton at (1) Tolono Unity(31) Newton at (2) Tolono Unity
(9) Eureka at (8) Paxton(18) Carver at (15) Paxton
(13) Beardstown at (4) Williamsville(26) Beardstown at (7) Williamsville
(12) Hoopeston at (5) Fairfield(23) Greenville at (10) IC Catholic
(15) St. Joe Ogden at (2) Mt. Carmel(30) St. Joe Ogden at (3) Mt. Carmel
(10) DuQuoin at (7) Carlinville(19) King at (14) Carlinville
(14) Piasa SW at (3) Benton(27) Peotone at (6) Du-Pec
(11) Greenville at (6) Monticello(22) DuQuoin at (11) Fairfield

Breakdown: The first class where a repeat title game – Byron vs. Tolono Unity – would have remained a possibility in the new bracket, but the trend of three of the four semifinalists hanging out on the bottom side of the bracket remains. It’s also the first time that four quarterfinalists from the north/south bracket find themselves on each side of the bracket. Six matchups held from the original draw.

Class 4A

2021 N/S Bracket2021 1/32 Bracket
North BracketTop Bracket
(16) Marengo at (1) Joliet Catholic(32) Cahokia at (1) Joliet Catholic
(9) Coal City at (8) Wheaton Academy(17) Mount Zion at (16) Hyde Park
(13) Bogan at (4) Genoa-Kingston(25) Chi. Sullivan at (8) St. Francis
(12) Peoria ND at (5) St. Francis(24) Plano at (9) Phillips
(15) Chi. Sullivan at (2) Richmond-Burton(29) Olney at (4) Breese Central
(10) Hyde Park at (7) Stillman Valley(20) Paris at (13) Wheaton Academy
(14) Plano at (3) Kewanee(28) Harrisburg at (5) Rochester
(11) Dixon at (6) Phillips(21) Peoria ND at (12) Stillman Valley
South BracketBottom Bracket
(16) Cahokia at (1) Rochester(31) Salem at (2) Richmond-Burton
(9) Paris at (8) Mount Zion(18) Murphysboro at (15) Quincy ND
(13) Olney at (4) Freeburg(26) Bethalto at (7) Sacred Heart
(12) Harrisburg at (5) Carterville(23) Bogan at (10) Freeburg
(15) Salem at (2) Breese Central(30) Columbia at (3) Kewanee
(10) Macomb at (7) Murphysboro(19) Dixon at (14) Coal City
(14) Columbia at (3) Sacred Heart Griffin(27) Marengo at (6) Genoa-Kingston
(11) Bethalto at (6) Quincy ND(22) Macomb at (11) Carterville

Breakdown: The title game – Joliet Catholic vs. Sacred Heart Griffin could have been rekindled here as well, but it is interesting to note that the Rochester-Sacred Heart Griffin rematch in the semifinals wouldn’t have been possible in the 1-32 without a Rochester upset of eventual state champion Joliet Catholic in the semifinals. This is the first class where you see a lot of wide geographic disparity in some first-round matchups (there are no games that are repeats between the two groups), largely due to the fact that the northern bracket had a much better collective record than the southern bracket, causing a shuffle of the seeds when the two groups are lumped together.

Class 5A

2021 N/S Bracket2021 1-32 Bracket
North BracketTop Bracket
(16) Noble/Bulls at (1) Glenbard South(32) Noble/Bulls at (1) Kankakee
(9) Sycamore at (8) Evergreen Park(17) Sycamore at (16) Brooks
(13) St. Patrick at (4) Sterling(25) Nazareth at (8) Goode
(12) Payton at (5) Rochelle(24) St. Patrick at (9) Triad
(15) Kaneland at (2) Fenwick(29) Jacksonville at (4) Glenbard South
(10) Rockford Boylan at (7) Brooks(20) Payton at (13) Peoria
(14) Nazareth at (3) Goode(28) Dunlap at (5) Mascoutah
(11) Marmion at (6) Noble/Comer(21) Marmion at (12) Rochelle
South Bracket
(16) Carbondale at (1) Kankakee(31) Carbondale at (2) Morris
(9) Morgan Park at (8) Peoria(18) Evergreen Park at (15) Morgan Park
(13) Dunlap at (4) Mascoutah(26) Kaneland at (7) Fenwick
(12) Metamora at (5) Marion(23) Hillcrest at (10) Morton
(15) LaSalle-Peru at (2) Morris(30) LaSalle-Peru at (3) Mahomet-Seymour
(10) Highland at (7) Morton(19) Rockford Boylan at (14) Noble/Comer
(14) Jacksonville at (3) Mahomet-Seymour(27) Metamora at (6) Marion
(11) Hillcrest at (6) Triad(22) Highland at (11) Sterling

Breakdown: The bracket shuffled considerably and that’s largely due to the fact that the undefeated teams would be redistributed in the 1-32 system (all of the undefeated 5A teams were on the south side of the bracket in north-south). Only one repeat matchup in the classification. The redraw has two north-south semifinalists on both sides, but two of those semifinalists would be lined up to collide in the second round (Kankakee and Sycamore) in the 1-32 format.

Class 6A

2021 N/S Bracket2021 1-32 Bracket
North BracketTop Bracket
(16) Rockford E. at (1) Cary-Grove(32) Kennedy at (1) Cary-Grove
(9) Grayslake C. at (8) Belvidere N.(17) Crete-Monee at (16) Vernon Hills
(13) Mather at (4) Deerfield(25) Simeon at (8) Amundsen
(12) Crystal Lake C. at (5) Amundsen(24) Normal West at (9) East St. Louis
(15) Lakes at (2) Wauconda(29) Crystal Lake S. at (4) St. Ignatius
(10) Vernon Hills at (7) Prairie Ridge(20) Crystal Lake C. at (13) Prairie Ridge
(14) Crystal Lake S. at (3) Harlem(28) Bremen at (5) Harlem
(11) Antioch at (6) Lake Forest(21) Mather at (12) Lake Forest
South BracketBottom Bracket
(16) Kennedy at (1) Lemont(31) Rockford E. at (2) Lemont
(9) Springfield at (8) Rock Island(18) Antioch at (15) Grayslake C.
(13) Riverside-Brookfield at (4) East St. Louis(26) Riverside-Brookfield at (7) Deerfield
(12) Simeon at (5) Richards(23) Springfield at (10) Richards
(15) Bremen at (2) St. Ignatius(30) Lakes at (3) Wauconda
(10) Glenwood at (7) Crete-Monee(19) Rock Island at (14) Belvidere N.
(14) Centennial at (3) Kenwood(27) Centennial at (6) Kenwood
(11) Normal West at (6) Washington(22) Glenwood at (11) Richards

Breakdown: This is easily the classification that the new construction had the most dramatic impact on. Not only did the matchups largely change, as their are just two repeat game pairings in the classification, but the pathways became dramatically different. The top of the bracket features not only both of the combatants in the state championship game, but would have laid out a scenario where the epic Cary-Grove-East St. Louis matchup would have been contested at the quarterfinal stage in lieu of the final. The entire top half of the bracket is loaded, with all four semifinalists and three of them are in the same eight-team quarterfinal group. Lemont and Washington are the only two teams that reached the quarterfinal round in the north-south bracketing that would be in the bottom half of the bracket in 1-32.