Stevens Point and Germantown have won the last six WIAA Division 1 state titles.
Germantown won three straight from 2012-14, with Stevens Point capturing the last three.
The Big Eight Conference hasn’t won a D1 state title since 2011, when Madison Memorial won its third title in seven years.
Will the Big Eight reign supreme once again in 2018? My crystal ball says yes.
Here’s a look at all five divisions and who’s likely to leave the Kohl Center floor on March 17 with a gold ball.
Like the girls state tournament, the boys is also seeded with No. 1 seed playing No. 4 and No. 2 playing No. 3 in semifinal games. Some of these predictions may be state semifinal games, but I’ll take the winner of that game to also win state.
So much talent. So many good teams. That’s what makes March Madness so much fun.
The best college prospects reside in Division 1, and none are more highly sought after than Jalen Johnson. The 6-foot-6 Sun Prairie sophomore is the sixth-ranked recruit in the country for 2020 and a big reason why I like the Cardinals to not only make their first state appearance but also bring home a gold ball. Senior Marlon Ruffin, another Division I recruit, give Sun Prairie a dynamic one-two punch.
The Cardinals must survive a loaded sectional that also includes fifth-ranked Waunakee, ninth-ranked Madison La Follette, along with perennial powerhouse Madison Memorial and a very talented Madison East team.
In a classic match-up of No. 1 versus No. 2, I’ll take Johnson and Ruffin over Iowa State recruit Tyrese Haliburton and Oshkosh North in the championship game.
Best guess: Sun Prairie 74, Oshkosh North 68
Plenty of talent leftover in Division 2, led by Whitnall senior and University of Kentucky recruit Tyler Herro and Kaukauna senior and West Virginia recruit Jordan McCabe.
Pewaukee has been ranked No. 1 most of the season.
Despit that, I like Milwaukee Washington to come out of that sectional.
McCabe has been playing at a high level all season long, but does he have enough support to bring the Galloping Ghosts a state title? I say no.
Give me Washington over defending state champion La Crosse Central for the state title.
Best guess: Washington 67, La Crosse Central 59
Can the Hawks of Appleton Xavier run the table and finish undefeated for the second straight season? Xavier has won 50 straight games and is averaging 92.5 points per game this season.
Edgerton, despite two losses to East Troy, earned a No. 2 seed in the Middleton Sectional while the Rock Valley Conference champion Trojans are a three seed. Either team will have its hands full with fourth-ranked Martin Luther.
I say Xavier falls short in its bid to win state, losing to Brown Deer.
Best guess: Brown Deer 72, Xavier 65
Probably the most wide-open division, with as many as seven or eight teams having a realistic shot at a state title.
Destiny (19-3) is the defending state champion in the Division, but Clear Lake and New Glarus are both unbeaten.
Senior guard Diovonte Caldwell is a dynamic player who is capable of carrying the Eagles to a second straight title.
Based on strength of schedule, I give the gold ball to Destiny.
Best guess: Destiny 71, Auburndale 67
Barneveld beat Shullsburg in the state title game a year ago, but neither team is even ranked in the top 10 this season.
Bangor won the Division 7 state football title and may be on its way to another gold ball in basketball.
Columbus Catholic appears to be the logical choice to win it all, but Bangor sticks in my head for some reason.
Best guess: Bangor 62, Columbus Catholic 57
It’s now time to shift gears and look at three girls postseason games on tap for Friday night.
Janesville Craig (11-11) at Madison Memorial (13-9), Division 1, 7 p.m. Friday—The Spartans rallied from double-digit second-half deficits in both regular-season games to sweep the Cougars.
“If they can beat us three times, they deserve to play Saturday,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken of Memorial. “But it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season, especially when they’re so evenly matched.
“We just have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and handling their full-court pressure. We just want to be 1-0 and have a chance to play Saturday.”
Division I recruit Leilani Kapinus leads the Spartans. The sophomore is averaging 14.9 points per game.
Craig counters with Cassie Goswick, Emily Pierson and Claudia Fieiras, who are all averaging double figures in scoring.
Best guess: Craig 64, Memorial 60
Janesville Parker (8-14) at Middleton (15-7), Division 1, 7 p.m. Friday—The Cardinals swept the season series against the Vikings, including rallying from a halftime deficit to win by 24 earlier this month.
“Our defense was not good the last time we played them, especially the second half. That has been a big focus for us this week,” Parker coach Jennah Hartwig said. “And offensively, we have to be ready and willing to shoot the ball.”
Middleton is well-balanced, with no double-figure scorers.
Julia Hartwig leads the state in rebounding at 15.7 per game and was second in the Big Eight in scoring but missed the last two games with a back injury.
“She’s at about only 80 percent, but she’s been practicing and will play,” coach Hartwig said. “It’s still very painful, but she has to be able to play through it and give us as many minutes as she can.”
Best guess: Middleton 61, Parker 51
Wilmot (13-9) at Milton (10-12), Division 2, 7 p.m. Friday—The winner will likely play at top-seeded Jefferson on Saturday night.
The Panthers lost three of four to end the regular season after winning eight straight before that.
Riley Alexander leads Wilmot in scoring at 10.4 points per game.
Milton lost six of its last eight to end the regular season but does have wins over Stoughton and Walworth Big Foot.
Chloe Buescher, Kailey Harbort and Emma Martin are all averaging more than 10 points per game.
Best guess: Milton 59, Wilmot 51
AREA BOYS SCORING LEADERS
Name Yr. School Ave. High Game
Zach Mielke Sr. Evansville 20.9 32
Blake McCann Sr. Craig 20.2 32
Brekan Day Sr. Brodhead 17.4 31
Chris Galvan Sr. Parker 17.4 31
Logan Eischeid Jr. Big Foot17.2 28
Caleb Gracyalny Sr. Clinton 16.6 30
Eli Hoscheit Jr. Parkview 16.2 29
Daniel Fuller Sr. Whitewater 15.9 24
Zach Krause Sr. Clinton 15.0 26
Kale Rodgers Jr. 14.4 29