01STOCK_BASKETBALL

The area’s Division 1 girls basketball coaches had some fun decisions to try and make Sunday.

Of course, all eyes are always on the top seeds in the WIAA tournament, and no doubt there was some argument about who should be at the top of the Janesville Craig Sectional when the coaches met to seed the bracket at Madison Memorial High School.

Sun Prairie boasts a 19-1 overall record and is 16-0 in the Big Eight Conference. The Cardinals have already clinched the conference title outright and could finish off the first unbeaten Big Eight season since 2010-11 with a couple wins this week.

Mukwonago is 17-2 and 12-1 in the vaunted Classic Eight Conference and sits in second place behind Arrowhead. Arrowhead and Mukwonago were the Nos. 1 and 2 ranked D1 teams in the state in this week’s WisSports.net coaches poll.

When it’s that close, coaches must split hairs to decide who is the top seed.

On Sunday, they gave the edge to Mukwonago, and Sun Prairie got the No. 2 seed.

But that was really only the tip of the iceberg when it came to deciding where the rest of the 16 teams belonged in the bracket.

Of those remaining 16, exactly half came into the seeding meeting with between eight and 12 wins, and when you’re comparing those kinds of totals between teams in the Big Eight and those in, say, the Southern Lakes or Southeast conferences, it can literally be a tossup.

Consider the following few examples of decisions the coaches needed to make:

Example A

Team 1 has an 11-8 overall record, but three of its eight losses come to the top two ranked teams that we mentioned above. Then again, another loss came to a 10-11 team that wound up getting the 12th seed in this sectional.

Team 2 is 12-7 overall but is 6-7 in its last 13 games and doesn’t have a victory against a team with a winning record this season.

Rightfully, the coaches gave Team 1, Oconomowoc, the eight seed and the home game against Badger, Team 2, which got the No. 9 seed.

Example B

Let’s keep the previous Team 2 in the argument for simplicity’s sake. Again, 12-7 overall, and 8-4 in league play, with all eight wins coming against teams in the bottom half of the Southern Lakes.

This time, the team Badger is up against has just a 9-10 record. But the second team in this scenario swept a season series with Middleton (which is the No. 4 seed in this sectional), has a win against 16-4 Stoughton and won a head-to-head matchup against Badger 76-49.

This time, Badger’s 12 wins were good enough to keep it in the No. 9 spot, while Janesville Craig—the second team in this argument—got the 11th seed.

Not so simple, right?

Example C

Just to take it one step further, let’s keep Craig in this scenario. Again, 9-10 but with some solid victories on the resume. The Cougars also beat a Milton team that was playing well just after Christmas.

Team B in this example is just 7-12 but beat Craig twice this season. Team B’s best win is probably against Chippewa Falls, which is 12-7 overall and a half-game out of first place in the Big Rivers Conference. Team B also beat a Big Foot team that is top-seeded in its D3 bracket but lost to Milton, just to take the argument to another level.

In this case, Craig’s total body of work won out over Janesville Parker’s season sweep of the crosstown rivalry, and the Vikings have a No. 13 seed.

When the No. 11 seed has two wins over the No. 4 seed, and the No. 13 seed has two wins over the No. 11 seed, you know things are going to be a little messy when it comes time to seed.

And this is just one of 20 sectionals over five divisions across the state that needed to be seeded heading into the final week of the regular season.

When the dust settles, all coaches can do is prepare for the games that are in front of them.

Bracket quick takes

Here are some probably-far-too-early opinions on a tournament that begins in a week and a half:

The teams I think make it to state out of the sectionals that include Gazette area teams: Mukwonago (Janesville Craig Sectional), Monroe (Division 2 Sun Prairie Sectional), Dodgeville (Division 3 Sun Prairie Sectional) and Aquinas (Division 4 Baraboo Sectional).

  • Most intriguing team: Big Foot seems to have saved its best basketball for the end of the season. The Chiefs have a Division I talent in Courtney Schoenbeck and a sophomore standout in Reagan Courier. This, as usual, is a very tough D3 sectional, but Big Foot could be riding a nine-game winning streak heading to the postseason, and we’ll see what happens from there.
  • Cinderella potential: Milton has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride this season, putting itself in the Badger South title picture early but faltering a bit in the second half of the season. The Red Hawks are a No. 4 seed but basically face Southern Lakes foes and Jefferson—which spent most of this season playing D3 teams. Seeing Milton against Monroe in a D2 sectional final for the second straight year would not be a shock.

WIAA girls basketball tournament

Area schedule

All games 7 p.m. unless noted

Division 1 Janesville Craig Sectional

REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS FEB. 20

(17) Kenosha Indian Trail at (16) Madison West

(18) Beloit Memorial at (15) Kenosha Bradford

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS FEB. 23

KIT-West winner at (1) Mukwonago

(9) Badger at (8) Oconomowoc

(12) Watertown at (5) Waunakee

(13) Janesville Parker at (4) Middleton

(14) Kenosha Tremper at (3) Madison East

(11) Janesville Craig at (6) Madison Memorial

(10) Verona at (7) Madison La Follette

Bradford-Beloit winner at (2) Sun Prairie

Division 2 Sun Prairie Sectional

REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS FEB. 20

(9) Westosha at (8) Waukesha West

(11) Delavan-Darien at (6) Waterford

(10) Fort Atkinson at (7) Elkhorn

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS FEB. 23

Westosha-Waukesha winner at (1) Jefferson

(5) Wilmot at (4) Milton

DD-Waterford winner at (3) Burlington

Elkhorn-Fort winner at (2) Union Grove

Division 3 Sun Prairie Sectional

REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS FEB. 20

(9) Brodhead at (8) Poynette

(12) Evansville at (5) Lodi

(11) Edgerton at (6) Richland Center

(10) River Valley at (7) Prairie du Chien

(9) Lake Mills at (8) Kenosha St. Joe’s

(11) Racine St. Cat’s at (6) Turner

(10) East Troy at (7) Clinton

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS FEB. 23

Brodhead-Poynette winner at (1) Marshall

Lodi-Evansville winner at (4) Edgewood

Edgerton-RC winner at (3) Platteville

PdC-RValley winner at (2) Dodgeville

Lake Mills-St. Joe’s winner at (1) Big Foot

(5) Shoreland Lutheran at (4) Whitewater

St. Cat’s-Turner winner at (3) Lakeside Lutheran

Clinton-ET winner at (2) Martin Luther

Division 4 Baraboo Sectional

REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS FEB. 20

(9) Parkview at (8) Waterloo

(12) Montello at (5) Horicon

(13) Johnson Creek at (4) Belleville

REGIONAL FINALS FEB. 23

Parkview-Waterloo winner at (1) Saint Mary’s Springs

Horicon-Montello winner vs. JC-Belleville winner, at best remaining seed

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