Our third installment of the Central Coast Section boys basketball playoff projections comes with one week remaining in the regular season, and quite a bit still to be sorted out. In this installment, we continue to project all teams in the field, seeding, and first-round matchups, based on section seeding criteria.
Menlo and Palo Alto are locks for the Open Division, and we believe that the last spot will go to Sequoia. Piedmont Hills has only two losses, but one of those is to Sequoia and the other is to Leland, while the Cherokees own a win over Serra.
Mitty still has yet to qualify for the postseason and currently stands at 5-7 in league play. The Monarchs have to win their final two games.
At the moment, with Mitty projected out, five WCAL teams are expected to still qualify, with Sacred Heart Cathedral taking the last spot over Riordan by virtue of a win over St. Ignatius.
Although the teams outside of the WCAL may be stronger than any Open Division group before, the seeding has been ordered as such to avoid league matchups for the top two WCAL teams, as the committee chose to do last year. It should be remembered that seeding is organized on more premises than just ranking the teams in order of perceived strength and resume. Last year, WCAL teams were seeded at 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, but this year we expect the seedings to be slightly different because of Menlo’s resume. The biggest question is where the game between WCAL opponents will be set on the bracket. Last year had the third- and fifth-place teams lined up against each other. Whether or not that happens again depends on if the committee gives preference to Menlo or focuses on keeping the top WCAL teams from facing league opponents.
3. St. Francis
4. St. Ignatius
5. Palo Alto
7. Sacred Heart Cathedral
The CCS has 24 teams in Division I, and it appears that 20 of them will be eligible for playoff selection. Even with three teams going to the Open Division, that leaves 17 teams for 16 spots, meaning a qualified team will be left out of the field. As of now, that team is Fremont.
Whichever of the three of Palo Alto, Piedmont Hills and Sequoia gets left out of the Open Division is almost certainly going to grab the top spot in the Division I field, with Los Gatos as a very likely second seed.
Though Alisal beat Salinas and Palma this week, Menlo-Atherton surpassed the Trojans with a win over Sequoia and far superior strength of schedule. Considering that Alisal has just one regular season game left and M-A will have a busy week with the PAL Tournament, those tournament results will likely determine which team grabs the third seed.
Wednesday’s game between Alvarez and North Salinas will likely decide which team opens the postseason at home and which heads on the road.
1. Piedmont Hills
2. Los Gatos
5. Los Altos
8. Santa Clara
9. Evergreen Valley
10. Santa Teresa
Carlmont (vs. Evergreen Valley), Independence (vs. Alvarez), North Salinas (vs. Santa Teresa), Silver Creek (vs. Milpitas)
As of now, Valley Christian has to be thrilled with the way the Division II picture looks. If Mitty does qualify, the Monarchs will certainly be an Open Division team, and Serra is currently projected in the field as well.
Past Valley Christian (and any other WCAL teams that don’t end up in the Open field), the Division II landscape is as wide-open as it gets. Seeding in order of league finish will be a huge element here, with seven BVAL teams, four SCVAL and three from the PAL. How the committee perceives the strength of each of these leagues will play a gigantic role in seeding, and league standings will change projections in the coming weeks.
It should be noted that when the committee seeds teams, seeding is done in order of league finish. In a power league, a champion of a lower division can be placed ahead of a team in a higher division. Last year, that was the case for Mountain View, the SCVAL El Camino champion. While current projections don’t have a team from the El Camino or BVAL Santa Teresa with a compelling enough, the possibility exists and could come into play down the road.
The bulk of the changes in the projections over the past week are a direct result of Aragon’s win over Mills, which vaulted the Dons into the top four. A healthy Sam Manu has been huge for Aragon as of late, and the Dons could make a major splash in the PAL Tournament.
1. Valley Christian
3. Willow Glen
6. Mountain View
7. San Mateo
Christopher (vs. Pioneer), Hill (vs. Wilcox), Lynbrook (vs. Woodside), Overfelt (vs. Gunn)
Mitty’s current status has huge implications in Division III, as Sacred Heart Cathedral would reach the Open Division at the moment, leaving Riordan as the lone WCAL team in Division III. Mills, Monterey, and Aptos round out the projected top seeds.
The order of the top seeds will be a subject of great discussion. At the moment, Riordan has the top spot, having split head-to-head meetings with Mitty, Serra and Sacred Heart Cathedral. The losses to Marin Catholic and Aragon are the main impediment keeping Mills out of the top spot for now. The Vikings own a solid win over Menlo-Atherton and have a chance to add to that this week with Sequoia and the PAL Tournament, but they lack wins of the magnitude that the WCAL teams have.
Picking which teams are in the top five is pretty clear, but after that, it’s anyone’s game. The field currently has 15 teams, as Del Mar is expected to qualify. The Dons need to win one of their final two games to earn a spot.
12. Pajaro Valley
Del Mar (vs. Capuchino), Live Oak (vs. Pajaro Valley), North Monterey County (vs. Soledad)
Carmel is now clear of Pacific Grove in the MTAL standings, but the Division IV picture is still the most complex to determine with so many teams tightly packed. Monte Vista Christian surpassed Palma in the MBL Gabilan with a head-to-head win on Wednesday night.
James Lick is currently on track to qualify, but with 18 teams projected to qualify in Division IV and only one of them (Menlo) going to Open, the Comets would likely be the odd one out. There is the off-chance that Half Moon Bay or Jefferson could get selected by winning the PAL Tournament, but they’d need to not only win those three games, but also earn the committee’s approval.
Considering that the PAL has sent at least one team to the Open Division every year, Half Moon Bay would be in good shape to go if the Cougars could win the PAL Tournament for the first time in program history. Jefferson has been hot as of late, but December struggles (albeit without three members of their lineup, who were sitting out a transfer period) would likely keep the Grizzlies out.
1. Half Moon Bay
3. Santa Cruz
5. Pacific Grove
6. Sacred Heart Prep
7. Monte Vista Christian
9. King’s Academy
10. Terra Nova
Gonzales (vs. Harker), King City (vs. Terra Nova), Marina (vs. King’s Academy), Scotts Valley (vs. Seaside)
The biggest obstacle to projecting Division V is the number of teams that fail to post scores online. For those teams that neglect to do so, we strongly urge you to change those habits. Send your scores in to us here at Prep2Prep and post them on MaxPreps.
There’s a clear top five here, with Woodside Priory currently holding the edge over Pinewood after winning on Tuesday head-to-head. St. Francis SCP finished second in the SCCAL and will likely hold the top seed.
With the PSAL’s heavy influence on Division V, league results will have a huge role in shaping the bracket.
1. St. Francis SCP
2. Woodside Priory
4. Eastside College Prep
5. Alma Heights
7. Mountain View Academy
11. North Valley Baptist
12. University Prep Academy
Kehillah Jewish (vs. University Prep Academy), Summit Shasta (vs. Nueva), York (vs. Oakwood)