How a state of Illinois holiday tournament would look

Between the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Chicago Legends event at the United Center, it’s never been more apparent that Chicago and the state of Illinois could use a real holiday festival.

Ever imagine how cool it would be if all 13 of Illinois’ Division I teams got together each year for a tourney? We imagined it for you.

With 13 teams, the top three seeds receive a first-round bye. Seeds are determined by The Catch and Shoot‘s Illinois Rankings.

The top two seeds host the first two rounds for their half of the bracket on the second weekend in December (Dec. 10 and 11 this year). The semifinals and finals would then be played the following week on a neutral site the, such as the United Center, or rotate between the campuses every season.

Among all the reasons such a tournament would never happen, there is one major logistical issue. There are two Big Ten teams (Illinois and Northwestern) who cannot play each other, two OVC teams (Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville) and four MVC teams (Bradley, Illinois State, Loyola and Southern Illinois) who cannot play each other.

So, even though the teams and leagues would never approve this, here’s the rule — teams from the same conference cannot meet before the semifinals, and if they meet in the semifinals or championship game, then the game will count toward conference records and replace a later meeting during the conference season. Each time this occurs, it alternates which team sacrifices their conference home game.

For example, if Loyola and Southern Illinois met in this year’s quarterfinals, they would not play their Feb. 25 matchup in Carbondale. The next time they meet in a future holiday festival, they would not play their Chicago matchup.

The event can adjust a team’s tournament seed from its true seed in order to keep teams separated until the semifinals. So for this season, Southern Illinois drops from the No. 5 seed to the No. 7 to avoid possible second round matchups with Illinois State and Loyola. Eastern Illinois and Northern Illinois move up accordingly.

Tweet us @Catch_N_Shoot with your pick for who would win in this year’s bracket!

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