High School Boys Basketball Playoff Preview: Regionals

posted by Jimmie Kaska - 

After sharing my selections for girls' basketball, I figured it would be a great time to share my boys' basketball picks as well, as displayed at WisSports.net and the media picks article, which you can see here.

If you missed the girls' basketball picks article: (click here if it doesn't render below)

Also, I did a podcast with Wisconsin Prep Hockey and previewed each of the 12 teams at state for hockey this week. You can see that below (or click here):

Time to dive into the picks. Regional quarterfinals wrapped up last night, but outside of D5, nobody I picked for the state tournament played last night. A reminder my lifetime record on these is pretty terrible.

NOTE: They are re-seeding the state finals this year in basketball, so in addition to picking the four teams to make it to state, you had to also pick seeds #1-#4 as well. That wasn't laid out but I gave it a shot (the numbers are the projected seeds).

See all of the picks by statewide media here

See all of the state brackets by going here

Division 1

Jimmie's Picks: #2 Sun Prairie over #1 Oshkosh North; #4 Arrowhead, #3 Brookfield Central

Sectional 1: This was pretty easy. Oshkosh North is legitimately great, possibly the best team in the entire state. They split with heavy D2 favorite Kaukauna, winning the most recent meeting. Tyrese Halliburton is a treat. I really like their potential sectional semifinal game against Eau Claire North (partly because if I was still working in Eau Claire I'd get to call it) on the way to state. It's not a clear path, but Oshkosh North is a team you should go see.

Sectional 2: I was kind of torn here on Bay Port vs Arrowhead, and went with Arrowhead before they lost the second time against Muskego, snapping a nine-game winning streak in which they had avenged some prior losses in the first half of the season. I'm pretty sure Bay Port will be the favorite in this sectional, but it's kind of wide open. Bay Port has four losses, Arrowhead has six... those are the top two in this sectional. Kettle Moraine would be just as fine a pick here.

Sectional 3: Sun Prairie is incredibly deep. Their lone loss, to the defensive-minded Madison Memorial Spartans, a team that is loaded with talented juniors, is justifiable: Memorial had won 14 straight conference titles before Sun Prairie usurped the throne this season. East, La Follette, Memorial, and Waunakee will all be great challengers from the Madison area. Mukwonago is the six seed in this sectional, and really the top ten in this sectional are all teams capable of winning a regional semifinal game. The regional finals will be insane. As good as East (Keshawn Justice) and La Follette (shooting, athleticism) are, Sun Prairie is deep and incredibly talented at the top, with Big 8 player of the year Marlon Ruffin and super-prospect Jalen Johnson leading the way. Waunakee is an interesting challenger in this sectional, but the Warriors haven't played many D1 teams this year. I picked Sun Prairie and feel relatively good about it; I've heard from some that they may be the best team they've seen.

Sectional 4: I picked Greater Metro champ Brookfield Central despite having the three-seed and a worse record than Brookfield East. Their four losses? Oshkosh North (state pick), Sun Prairie (state pick), Brookfield East (split season series), and Milwaukee Washington (D2 top seed). Top-seeded Franklin is a mild surprise this season.

Division 2

Jimmie's Picks: #1 Kaukauna over #3 La Crosse Central; #2 Monona Grove, #4 Pewaukee

Sectional 1: The potential sectional semifinal against Onalaska should be an absolute battle, but there's not much convincing that needs to be done here. La Crosse Central is extremely talented.

Sectional 2: Kaukauna's biggest test might come pre-state from the sectional semifinal winner--I don't see how anyone on the other half-sectional is going to take down the Ghosts. Jordan McCabe is one of the most unique and outstanding players you'll ever see on a basketball court in Wisconsin. Kaukauna was declared to be the best team in the state at one point, an honor they share now with Oshkosh North (who they split with) and Sun Prairie. 

Sectional 3: I actually feel like this is the most wide-open sectional in the division, but mostly in the half-sectional that Monona Grove is in (my pick). Stoughton split with the Silver Eagles, and the Mount Horeb-McFarland winner is no slouch either. Monona Grove has a difficult path to state. Upsets could shake up this sectional on either side. I'm not sure who emerges from the bottom half-sectional, but it is fairly deep in the top four or five seeds.

Sectional 4: Whitnall is the trendy pick, behind Kentucky commit Tyler Herro, and I went with Pewaukee, who Whitnall just beat. Milwaukee Washington might be the smarter play here for picking teams, though, since they will play the winner of the possible Woodland crossover rematch. This is another sectional that is fairly deep, but I don't see as much turnover at the top. I think it'll be one of Pewaukee, Whitnall, or Milwaukee Washington. I went against the grain since I made the picks before the Whitnall-Pewaukee cossover. The two chances I had to see Whitnall, Waunakee box-and-one'd Herro to a poor showing (and eventual injury) and he missed the other opportunity I had to see him with the same injury, at the WBY Shootout. If you watch him though, you know he can single-handedly change a game like few others can. A tremendous basketball player.

Division 3

Jimmie's Picks: #1 Xavier over #3 Brown Deer; #2 Martin Luther, #4 Bloomer

Sectional 1: The top line of this sectional, nothing jumped out at me. Prescott and Wisconsin Dells are deserving number ones. It's the same mistake I make with NCAA brackets, but I needed an upset pick in one of the Division 3 sectionals, so I went with it here and opted for my birthplace. Nothing against the #1 seeds. Wisconsin Dells has been under-the-radar despite a single loss this year. Prescott has become a really solid program the past half-decade, about the time I moved south from covering them on a regular basis.

Sectional 2: Xavier, and it's not even close. An upset before state would be one of the bigger ones in recent memory. They are a high-flying high-scoring team and they make it look easy. A potential state final with Brown Deer could see NBA-like scoring totals.

Sectional 3: I picked Martin Luther, not convinced of anyone in the top half of the sectional being a heavy state favorite. I think the path in Martin Luther's half sectional is incredibly difficult, however. Their regional final will be against a school from Lake Mills, whether it's the L-Cats (bombs away from three) or Lakeside Lutheran (junior-dominated inside-out team). Both teams blew out their opponents in the regional openers to set up a rubber match on Friday night. East Troy or Racine St. Cats (or Beloit Turner) await on the other side of the bracket as well in the sectional semifinal. This sectional is full of pitfalls for the top seeds.

Sectional 4: I went with Brown Deer mostly from having seen them, and it came down to essentially a coin flip between Brown Deer and Waupun. Talk about two outstanding teams that could potentially meet for a trip to state. Waupun has a slightly easier path to the sectional final, but really any of about a half-dozen teams in the bottom half of this sectional have a shot.

Division 4

Jimmie's Picks: The Prairie School over Mineral Point; Marathon, Osseo-Fairchild

Sectional 1: I know all about Regis--I've called literally hundreds of their games over the years, so much so that coach Bill Uelmen doesn't tell anyone about how broken my jumper is anymore. I really like what Osseo-Fairchild brings to the table, having battled all year with the Cloverbelt schools. The Lakeland schools in the top half of the sectional are no slouches either. I could see any of about a half-dozen teams emerging here, but I'll stick with the Thunder.

Sectional 2: I will be honest here: I picked based on record. I haven't seen most of these teams, and the schools I'm familiar with are lower seeds. Schools like Thorp, Shiocton, and Iola-Scandinavia are interesting lower seeds, but going with my flawed notion of "not all one seeds will make it" so Marathon is it.

Sectional 3: The top half of this sectional might be the deepest in the entire state. The top eight seeds advanced and all are dangerous. Aquinas is a SIX seed. Still, Mineral Point is incredibly intriguing and boasts the kind of youth any team in the state would lose their minds over. The Pointers have 8th graders that would be varsity starters in other schools, and much of their talent is currently in the 2020 and 2021 classes for those that are playing high school basketball. The bottom half of this sectional boasts undefeated New Glarus, the number-one team in the state in the last WSN Coaches' Poll entering the playoffs. New Glarus actually OWNS a win over Mineral Point. I gave the slight edge to the Pointers based on the top-line talent they have in the lineup, but either way, the #1 seeds in this sectional, should they meet in Baraboo on March 10 in the sectional final, would play in a state-level game.

Sectional 4: The Prairie School is a two-seed, but I am fairly confident in them advancing from this bracket. It's not an easy sectional by any means--in fact, it's pretty heavy on private schools, especially in Prairie School's half of the sectional--but a couple of the upstart lower seeds aren't on their side of the bracket, like Living Word Lutheran. I have picked them to go to state based on having one of the best players in the entire division, and the level of competition they've played.

Division 5

Jimmie's Picks: Bangor over Sheboygan Lutheran; Columbus Catholic, McDonell Central

Sectional 1: I picked third-seeded McDonell but I will go out on a limb and say that this is not a very safe pick. Rib Lake on top of that half of the sectional, they're a pretty strong squad, but they have a tough pair of games coming up against Flambeau and the winner of Turtle Lake-Lake Holcombe (the latter, formerly coached by my older brother, had lost three of four entering the playoffs but still won the Lakeland East). South Shore is formidable atop the top half of the sectional, but D5 can be pretty crazy. I don't expect four number one seeds in D5 to advance.

Sectional 2: I did pick a number one seed here, but the northeastern part of the state (especially with smaller schools) is the area of the state I have the least amount of knowledge about. I'm trusting the coaches on this one.

Sectional 3: Bangor is in a pretty favorable half-sectional, although they will still get a good run from anyone they face. The bottom half of this sectional though is pretty balanced. Seneca is the top seed but will see all sorts of quality teams before the sectional final should they make it.

Sectional 4: This entire sectional is a headache. You could run out a dozen schools from this bracket and I'd probably have an argument for any of them. So I stuck to the top line again. I have only seen one of the remaining teams in D5's Sectional 4 this season.

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