Xtra Points: High school boys basketball Bracketology
First, an important note:
The pairings and seedings within this post are strictly a hypothesis and have no bearing on where teams will fit into their respective WIAA tournament regions. I repeat: This is only a guess.
All right, now that we have that out of the way, let's talk predictions. With March Madness on the way, we might as well get a little practice. Area high school boys basketball coaches will meet Saturday or Sunday--depending on the regional--to decide where teams will be placed in their respective WIAA tournament brackets.
The regional seeding meetings are hardly an exact science. To learn more about how they work and what criteria the coaches look at, check this out.
Using the information in that WIAA link as a guide, I figured I'd take a stab as to the regional seedings and pairings for teams in the Gazette's coverage area. We'll post the official pairings in Xtra Points when they're announced over the weekend, and we can all laugh about how wrong I was.
Until then, fans can argue why their team deserves to be higher than where I have them listed.
Without further adieu...
DIVISION 1 (records listed as of Thursday night)
Predicted seed order
1. Mukwonago, 13-7, 8-4
2. Janesville Craig, 11-8, 8-7
3. Beloit Memorial, 12-8, 8-7
4. Kenosha Indian Trail, 9-11, 7-5
5. Badger, 9-10, 4-7,
6. Kenosha Tremper, 9-10, 4-8
7. Janesville Parker, 5-14, 2-12
8. Muskego, 5-14, 3-9
9. Kenosha Bradford, 1-18, 1-11
Predicted (can't stress that word enough) regional game schedule on Feb. 28
No. 8 Muskego-No. 9 Bradford winner (Feb. 25) at No. 1 Mukwonago
No. 7 Janesville Parker at No. 2 Janesville Craig
No. 6 Kenosha Tremper at No. 3 Beloit Memorial
No. 5 Badger at No. 4 Kenosha Indian Trail
There are a few discussions to be had in this Division 1 regional. Most notably, I imagine Parker and Muskego will tussle over which team should have to play the "pigtail play-in" game against Bradford. I gave the edge to the Vikings based on a surprising season sweep of Middleton in the Big Eight. Also, Parker and Muskego have a common opponent in Waukesha South, with Parker winning and Muskego losing—though Muskego's loss was pretty early in the season.
Another tossup comes between the No. 1-3 seeds. Mukwonago's better league record gave it the edge in my mock, but Craig and Beloit certainly have some arguments, especially if they get a win on Saturday night. Then, when it comes to the Cougars and Purple Knights, they have very similar resumes and split their regular-season series. I gave the nod to the Cougars based on having a victory over Sun Prairie in Big Eight play.
Indian Trail and Badger also have very similar resumes, and they'll both want to be the No. 4 seed because whichever team gets the 4 will get to host the first round. There wasn't really a whole lot to compare, so I went with Indian Trail based on league record.
Like I said, hardly a science.
Predicted seed order
1. McFarland, 12-7, 10-3
2. Fort Atkinson, 10-10, 4-6
3. Milton, 8-12, 3-8
4. Elkhorn Area, 7-12, 4-8
5. Delavan-Darien, 5-15, 2-10
Predicted regional game schedule on Feb. 28
No. 4 Elkhorn-No. 5 Delavan-Darien winner (Feb. 25) at No. 1 McFarland
No. 3 Milton at No. 2 Fort Atkinson
The debate here is exactly how McFarland fits in.
Based on records, Delavan-Darien is the obvious No. 5. Elkhorn is the obvious No. 4, having lost to McFarland and Milton. Fort swept Milton in the Badger South, so their separation is clear cut.
But what to do with McFarland? Going strictly off record, the Spartans should be the top seed. That said, they spend the entire season playing lower-division teams in the Rock Valley Conference. Are they to be punished for that?
An interesting wrinkle comes in looking at some common opponents. McFarland lost to Stoughton in a nonconference game, while Fort split, so has a victory it could tout in a challenge. Both teams lost to Monona Grove, including Fort twice.
Perhaps the teams that play in conferences with all Division 1 or 2 opponents will give Fort the nod to the top seed. I'm really not sure.
Predicted seed order
1. Marshall, 17-3, 8-0
2. Edgerton, 16-2, 12-1
3. Lakeside Lutheran, 15-3, 4-3
4. Lake Mills, 12-5, 3-3,
5. Evansville, 9-9, 7-6
6. Whitewater, 7-12, 7-6
7. Clinton, 8-9, 6-7
8. Big Foot, 6-13, 5-8
9. Jefferson, 10-10, 7-7
10. Turner, 8-12, 5-9
11. Palmyra-Eagle, 7-12, 3-10
12. Brodhead, 3-17, 1-13
Predicted regional pairings
Regional quarterfinals on Feb. 25
No. 9 Jefferson at No. 8 Big Foot
No. 12 Brodhead at No. 5 Evansville
No. 11 Palmyra-Eagle at No. 6 Whitewater
No. 10 Turner at No. 7 Clinton
Regional semifinals on Feb. 28
Jefferson-BF winner at No. 1 Marshall
Brodhead-Evansville winner at No. 4 Lake Mills
Palmyra-Whitewater winner at No. 3 Lakeside Lutheran
Turner-Clinton winner at No. 2 Edgerton
I will admit that I feel like much of this one's a bit of a crap shoot. I haven't seen Lakeside Lutheran or Lake Mills, but they seem to fit in at Nos. 3 and 4 due to overall records.
I would flip Evansville and Whitewater if the Whippets were to win when the two teams meet tonight.
I really struggled with what to do with Jefferson here. The Eagles lost their top player late in the year in Vinny Cincotta and have really struggled down the stretch. Do they belong right behind Whitewater at No. 7? Quite possibly, but they do have a crossover loss to Big Foot. The Chiefs got swept by Clinton, so they need to be behind the Cougars, even though they have some bizarre losses to Brodhead and Palmyra, and lost to Jefferson. But I also can see Clinton ahead of Jefferson by virtue of a big crossover road victory at East Troy—which is the only team in the RVC to beat Edgerton. So that's how I sorted all that out.
There are also plenty of other arguments to be had about players who were out for certain losses, interesting nonconference victories, etc. There will be arguments made for teams that I didn't even consider here. If I could be a fly on the wall at any of these seed meetings, it would probably be this one.
Seeds 10-12 seem fairly simple to me, though based on early-season play, it feels strange seeing Turner this low.
Again, only projections, because guessing is fun. We'll see how it shakes out this weekend. Where does your team belong?