HSBB Seeding Projections: January 18

WIAA Basketball DL

We are one month away from the seeding meetings for high school boys' basketball, so here's my look at how area teams could end up seeded. Please note this includes only results from the first half of the season and doesn't include any predictions for games the rest of the way. In case of "tiebreakers" I checked the records against other teams in order of how they'd been ranked by record, or common opponents. If it really came down to it, I tossed a coin and hoped for the best. These are my best guesses; lots can happen in a month.

Here we go, our first boys' basketball regional rankings:

Division 1 - Sectional 3 (Sun Prairie)

This sectional is a little top-heavy if you look strictly at the records, but the box-and-whiskers plot on this would be a short one. Pretty much any team in the middle of the pack can beat the top teams on any given night. Chaos reigned last season when Madison East, as a #8 seed, advanced to the sectional final to play #2 Madison Memorial. East stuck with it until about five minutes to play in the game, when the Spartans kicked into high gear to take the sectional final at Sun Prairie. Will there be another middle-of-the-pack team poised for a deep run?

#1 Madison Memorial 11-2 - Lost to Janesville Craig and out-of-state Norcross (Georgia). Craig is not a bad loss, but it is a loss, so the #1/#2 spot could be decided February 8. With a win over Sun Prairie in the books, I'll slot them in first.

#2 Sun Prairie 11-1 - Lone loss to Madison Memorial, so here they are. February 8 looms large, when the Cardinals will re-match with the Spartans.

#3 Madison La Follette 10-3 - Losses to Sun Prairie, Memorial, and rival East. La Follette is playing only D1 schools and out-of-state squads from Illinois (2-0 in dominating wins across the border). Hard to keep them any lower even with Waunakee here given their schedule and success against it.

#4 Waunakee 12-2 - The Warriors are 3-0 against D1 teams so far this season, with losses to high D2 seeds Mount Horeb and Kaukauna. It is really hard to figure out where to slot them here with no common opponents, but with La Follette playing more D1 squads, I have them in this order for now. Waunakee's losses came short-handed against very good D2 teams. Could definitely see Waunakee getting the spot here, as last year, the sectional's highest-ranked non-Big Eight school was Muskego at #4.

#5 Middleton 7-6 - A heck of an early schedule in the books already. Hard to ignore the number of losses, including one to D2 Stoughton (currently in the lead in the Badger South), when putting them in order here, but the Cardinals are better than their record would indicate, and the number of Big Eight teams in this sectional will help them get slotted ahead of teams with better overall records.

#6 Mukwonago 9-3 - Classic Eight leaders about halfway through, it would be easy to move them higher but the meat of their schedule is coming up yet, with a four-game road trip part of six total remaining road games in ten remaining games. 

#7 Kenosha Bradford 9-5 - The three-team pod immediately following could move past Bradford here relatively easily if they pulled any upsets, but for the sake of doing this, I'll keep them in this position. It's tough to figure given the lack of common opponents. Of the three Kenosha schools, Bradford is 2-0. There are some scattered losses in there, but Bradford owns several wins over other D1 schools, including Southeast Conference co-leader Franklin.

#8 Janesville Craig 5-6 - Having seen Craig, I'm surprised they are under .500. They have some big wins but also some puzzling losses. Tomorrow night against East could shuffle the next few teams, who are all really close right now in terms of rankings.

#9 Madison East 6-6 - A loss to Craig is what puts them in this range, at least at the moment. They have a chance at revenge tomorrow night.

#10 Verona 6-5 - Verona is probably the last team in considered for home regional games here. Their 4-1 start was followed by a 1-4 slide back to the pack, but there are some opportunities for Verona to pick up key wins down the stretch. They haven't beaten anyone ranked ahead of them here, however.

#11 Oconomowoc 6-7 - While only two games out of first place in the Classic Eight, there are five teams ahead of them in the standings. 

#12 Beloit Memorial 4-8 - The Craig win is a big one, but half of their wins are against Madison West. Parker also toppled the Purple Knights, with the rematch set for February 10.

#13 Watertown 6-6 - The Goslings have gone 1-2 against D1 competition this year, with losses to Hamilton and Waunakee, but a win over Parker. So, I have them between Beloit Memorial and Parker (who they beat). If Watertown can get a win over one of the top-half teams in the Badger or show out at the Badger Challenge, it would be easy to see them move up.

#14 Kenosha Indian Trail 4-8 - At this stretch it becomes hard to figure how the teams will shake out, only halfway through the conference rankings. A four-point win over Tremper gives them the edge here.

#15 Kenosha Tremper 3-7 - Tremper will have a bunch of games in short order, having only played 10 games total to this point.

#16 Janesville Parker 2-11 - They could move up a little bit with any number of upsets the rest of the way.

#17 Madison West 1-12 - The Regents got a win over Milwaukee King, but have had a number of single-digit losses the rest of the way.

#18 Badger 1-11 - The lone triumph for Badger was a four-point December win over D2 Delavan-Darien. They've been handled relatively easily by other teams in this regional, although they did keep it within six against Verona in the season opener.

Division 2 - Sectional 3 (Oregon) - Semifinal (Sun Prairie)

There are two areas with potential for big change here. The first is #1-#3. Monona Grove appeared to be a lock for #1 until Stoughton pulled the upset. With the rematch occurring after seeding meetings, it will be interesting to see how those two teams stack up when it's time to decide who goes where in the seeding meetings. Mount Horeb also has a claim despite two losses to middle-of-the-pack teams in conference play, having knocked off Waunakee and a shot at Monona Grove this Saturday in the Badger Challenge. Then, anything from #4 to #10 could be argued any which way. For now, I've slotted the Badger North teams in one group, with the Badger South teams just below. McFarland could literally go anywhere in this group, from #4 to #10, depending on how you feel about their loss to Edgewood and the overall quality of the Rock Valley. I don't envy the coaches going to this seeding meeting. I spent two hours trying to figure out how I would slot them.

#1 Stoughton 9-3 - The current Badger South-leading Vikings have lost to Beaver Dam, Kettle Moraine, and Minehaha Academy, but own wins over Middleton and every other team in the Badger South. They will also face Waunakee in the Badger Challenge this Saturday, which will be a huge game for both squads. For now, by virtue of head-to-head, they slot at the top, and (importantly) their rematch with Monona Grove happens after seeding meetings take place. I have them here based on their head-to-head win over Monona Grove, but I think any additional losses would move them back to #2 if MG wins out.

#2 Monona Grove 11-1 - Monona Grove was the presumptive #1 seed and very well could still end up there still, but an upset loss to Stoughton has them a spot behind based solely on head-to-head match-ups. Otherwise, the Silver Eagles own a very impressive resume. A tremendously important game in the Badger Challenge occurs on Saturday when they face Mount Horeb. A loss there and the top three in this sectional become awfully muddled.

#3 Mount Horeb 9-2 - Both losses for the Vikings have come in conference play, once to Beaver Dam and once to DeForest, which followed an emotional win over Waunakee to start 2018. Mount Horeb can get into the mix for a top overall seed if they can beat Monona Grove on Saturday in the Badger Challenge. I feel like there's a small gap after the top three teams, but that's not to say someone else could jump up in this range.

#4 Sauk Prairie 9-3 - Sauk Prairie is 3-0 against the Badger North teams lower than this spot in this prediction. Beyond that, their two losses in conference play have come at the hands of Waunakee and Mount Horeb, the teams ahead of them in the standings. So this is where I would slot them. They are quietly putting together a fantastic season, and an upset of Waunakee or Mount Horeb could move them even higher.

#5 Reedsburg 7-6 - The head-to-head has them a spot ahead of DeForest, but this is a tricky placement since DeForest beat Mount Horeb this season, and is a full game behind DeForest in the standings despite a head-to-head win.

#6 DeForest 7-5 - With a win over Monroe, and a win over Mount Horeb under their belt heading into the second half of the season, DeForest faces Edgewood in an important game for seeding purposes this Saturday in the Badger Challenge. The reason being that a loss could have them slide into playing the regionals on the road. All told, this group from #4 to #10 is interchangeable.

#7 Monroe 7-6 - An important game for Monroe looms Saturday against Portage, since Portage owns wins over Reedsburg and DeForest. An upset against Monona Grove or Stoughton would do the trick as well in earning a higher seed. Monroe's win over Edgewood gives them the edge over McFarland.

#8 McFarland 9-4 - McFarland's losses have come to the top teams in this sectional (Monona Grove and Stoughton), as well as East Troy, the other co-leader in the Rock Valley. A six-point setback against Edgewood will allow the other Badger teams that can topple the Crusaders to argue themselves ahead of the Spartans, who are the lone non-Badger Conference team here. I don't feel good about this placement, but it's hard to tell now that they're in a different grouping what will happen. They don't play like an 8-seed, but this group is deep, and even a Rock Valley title might not move them much higher. The Edgewood loss hurts more than the Stoughton or Monona Grove losses. I might have been able to argue for McFarland as high as #4, and still might by the end of the year, but Edgewood is up-and-down in the Badger South, and teams around them in this pod have had success against them.

#9 Portage 5-8 - Portage owns wins against Reedsburg and DeForest,, and has an important game against Monroe on Saturday. A win would give Portage a shot to stick in the 5-7 range, but a loss could move them to the bottom of this pod. The eight losses stands out here, but they have four conference wins and most of those teams are here in this grouping. However, a loss to Edgewood means Monroe and possibly Oregon could jump them.

#10 Oregon 6-7 - A loss to Monroe puts them here for now, but the teams meet again on January 27 to even it out. Oregon doesn't play any other Badger North teams beyond this Saturday's Badger Challenge, and their only other game against the other side of the conference was a win over Baraboo in November. So, Oregon, which has battled in tough losses all season long, may need an upset or two to score some home-court advantages this postseason. I think they could easily move up in a hurry. #4-#10 seem nearly interchangeable to me at a glance, and having seen the Panthers in person, I would venture that in this crowded sectional they could be in the top-five if they put together some victories.

#11 Baraboo 2-11 - Baraboo is sort of an outlier in this sectional grouping--each team ahead of them is at or near .500 in conference play or overall. They'll need some upsets to move up in the seeding.

Other Teams

Edgewood: In an interesting spot because of the other teams in their grouping. Edgewood has played a tough schedule like always. The five SWC teams will certainly argue for their champs or co-champs. A few Capitol conference squads and a group of Rock Valley teams round out this sectional. Edgewood record-wise is in the bottom half of all the teams in this grouping, near the middle of the pack, but it would be interesting if they received a low-single-digit seed based on that. 

Capitol (as a whole): The Oregon sectional semifinal in D3 above seems pretty cut-and-dry, but the real action starts on the Fort Atkinson side. Lake Mills and Lakeside Lutheran are in a pretty impressive grouping, with a good deal of the upper half of the Rock Valley and teams from southeastern Wisconsin. I imagine those two teams will be in the higher part of the seedings when it all plays out. In Division 4, New Glarus has already played in a classic with Mineral Point in what could be a sectional final preview. Wisconsin Heights is in the same grouping with the Pointers, and their sectional semifinal stretches from La Crosse all the way to the state line. Not an easy road for the Vanguards.

Rock Valley (as a whole): East Troy, Edgerton, and Turner all have chances at hosting through at least a couple of games. McFarland is in a tough D2 bracket, so they may be on the road faster than the rest of the teams in the conference even if they win the RVC. No easy roads for anyone in this conference.

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