Two main changes to the CCS postseason should be taken into account this year. First, there is no longer a limit on the number of teams from any enrollment division heading to the Open Division. With teams being sorted into different divisions based on competitive balance for the state tournament, there’s no need to limit teams coming from any one enrollment division, so all Open Division teams and enrollment division finalists will qualify for the state tournament. Additional teams will be eligible for remaining at-large berths to round out the field.
The other major change this year is a result of the condensed schedule. With the quarterfinals in enrollment divisions being held on a weeknight (Tuesday, February 19), there is no way to hold a quadruple-header at a neutral site, as has been the standard in the CCS for 20-plus years. Quarterfinals will be played at home sites, meaning the top four seeds will play home games for the first time since 2007. The double-bye format, which has been intact since 2008, will still be in use, but only the semifinals and championship games will be played at neutral sites, as will all Open Division non-consolation games.
While at least half of the Open Division always hails from the WCAL, this year’s field will have an even heavier WCAL presence as the league has utterly dominated the rest of the section. This year, Santa Cruz is the only team in the section to have beaten a WCAL opponent, and with the Cardinals out of the Open Division picture, it means teams can largely be seeded in order of strength. The committee would have liked to avoid a WCAL matchup in the 1-8 game last year, but was forced into doing so via head-to-head results. Such results aren’t a factor this year.
St. Francis has a head-to-head win over Mountain View, and is projected in as a sixth WCAL team. The Lancers will likely be seeded seventh and face Riordan in the quarterfinals.
It is unlikely but possible the committee chooses to spare the top two WCAL teams from matching up with league opponents, in which case WCAL teams would need to hold the top six seeds.
As of now, Leland is in as the second non-WCAL team, edging out Carmel and Sacred Heart Cathedral. The Chargers avenged one of their two losses with last Wednesday’s 72-53 win at Leigh, and the other defeat was to M-A, an Open Division lock.
With Bellarmine’s win over Mitty and Serra’s loss to Riordan, the 2-4 seeds are completely shaken up. Riordan is now second, Bellarmine third and Serra fifth. The Bells and Padres tied for third in the WCAL, but Bellarmine’s win over Mitty will likely get the Bells the higher seed. In that case, Serra will match up with Menlo-Atherton in an all-San Mateo County battle. The difference between the fourth and fifth seeds is negligible, but for now, we have M-A seeded fourth.
6) St. Ignatius
7) St. Francis
Of the 24 teams in Division I, 19 are currently qualified for the postseason. Fortunately, two spots will likely be vacated by Open Division teams (currently projected to be Bellarmine and Menlo-Atherton), but our projections have 19 teams eligible. With two teams going to Open, that leaves 17 teams for 16 spots, and Watsonville is likely the odd one out. In the extremely unlikely event that a third Division I team gets pulled up to Open, the Raiders would get in. Santa Clara and Watsonville are ranked near Silver Creek in MaxPreps’ ratings, and Santa Clara beat the Wildcatz to open the season. Though Watsonville has the better overall record, Silver Creek plays in a far tougher league and will likely get the edge.
Seeding Independence may be the biggest obstacle in the Division I field. The 76ers won the BVAL Santa Teresa Division, but will they be seeded ahead of Evergreen Valley, a Mt. Hamilton team? Evergreen Valley beat Sobrato, whereas Independence split the season series with the Bulldogs, but Independence beat Wilcox and the Chargers topped Evergreen Valley. Milpitas is now tied with Wilcox for the SCVAL El Camino title, and we expect the Trojans to be seeded ahead of Los Altos as a result. While most of our seeding projections are reliably safe, the committee’s placement of these two teams could certainly throw things off.
Placing Alvarez, on the other hand, is much easier. The Eagles beat Salinas and can therefore be comfortably placed above them.
2) Piedmont Hills
3) Palo Alto
8) Los Gatos
12) Evergreen Valley
Los Altos (vs. Alvarez), Salinas (vs. Milpitas), Santa Clara (vs. Evergreen Valley), Silver Creek (vs. Homestead)
The Division II teams should be pleased with changes made this year to the CCS’ playoff system. There is no longer a limit on three teams per enrollment division, and all section finalists will advance to the state tournament. In past years, there were always three Division II teams selected to play in Open, and only the Division II winner would advance to the state tournament.
As of now, three WCAL teams are projected to go from Division II to the Open Division, along with Leland. St. Francis has a win over Riordan and, perhaps most importantly, a head-to-head victory against Mountain View, so we have projected the Lancers as an Open Division team and placed the Spartans in Division II. Valley Christian split with St. Francis, so whether the Warriors or Spartans get the top seed could require a lengthy discussion.
Wilcox is in the SCVAL El Camino Division, but is currently projected as a league champion and therefore, we predict the Chargers to be placed ahead of Gunn.
19 Division II teams are eligible, but with four projected for the Open Division, there will be more than enough spots available for qualified teams. Even if only three Division II teams are selected, there would still be enough spots.
While the committee typically avoids first- and second-round matchups between teams in the same league, that may not be possible in Division II with so many BVAL West Valley teams at the bottom of the field. As of now, there will be a first-round BVAL matchup, but that will be between teams from different divisions as Westmont, from the Santa Teresa Division, has qualified with Friday’s win against Live Oak.
1) Valley Christian
2) Mountain View
4) Willow Glen
Gilroy (vs. Lincoln), Hill (vs. Westmont), Yerba Buena (vs. Gunn)
At the moment, Division III has two teams playing in the Open Division: Riordan and St. Ignatius. Unless the committee chooses to add a seventh WCAL team, that part of the picture is set in stone.
With those two aforementioned teams going Open, there’s a massive drop-off from the top two remaining teams to the rest of the field. It would be a major surprise to see anyone other than Monterey or Sacred Heart Cathedral win the title. We currently have SHC seeded first by virtue of a win over Bellarmine, but it’s basically a toss-up.
Aptos has won six straight, including two wins over Soquel and an SCCAL Tournament Championship win over Santa Cruz. Combined with Saratoga’s loss to 2-21 Lynbrook, the Mariners have jumped the Falcons in our projections and are now expected to take the fourth seed and a double bye.
As of now, 16 teams are projected in the field with Prospect’s win at Westmont Tuesday night. Gunderson also had a chance to qualify, but lost to Del Mar.
We predict the section will match up the unseeded teams against opponents from other divisions of their leagues, rather than elect to give teams longer trips. This would mean Burlingame travels to Westmoor and Pajaro Valley hosts Greenfield, though these matchups could change. Earlier projections had Burlingame seeded ahead of Del Mar, but the Dons beat Gilroy and the Panthers lost to the Mustangs.
1) Sacred Heart Cathedral
8) North Monterey County
11) Pajaro Valley
12) Del Mar
Burlingame (vs. Westmoor), El Camino (vs. Del Mar), Greenfield (vs. Pajaro Valley), Prospect (vs. Mills)
Of the enrollment divisions, Division IV might have the best of all the tournaments. It’s unlikely for any D-IV team to go to the Open Division, but the top five teams are all good enough to be a top seed in any of the other divisions as well. Carmel is the lone Division IV team with a serious chance at qualifying for the Open Division, but as of now, they’re still projected for the D-IV field. Santa Cruz is the only CCS teams to pick up a win over a WCAL opponent, but any chances the Cardinals had of playing in the Open Division went out the window after Saturday’s loss to Aptos in the SCCAL Championship.
Beyond that, teams like Pacific Grove and the three from the PAL North (Half Moon Bay, Jefferson and Terra Nova) make for an extremely strong top ten. It’s unfortunate that the quarterfinals won’t be on a Saturday, as the condensed playoff schedule has forced them to home sites on Tuesday, February 19. It would have made for a quadruple-header of excellent games. The great action will be more spread out under the new schedule, but nonetheless, there is excellent basketball on tap in Division IV. The top six spots will be heavily reliant on the results in the WBAL, where King’s Academy finished in second, Sacred Heart Prep in third and Menlo in fourth.
Pacific Grove is in a lower division of the PCAL than Palma, but a head-to-head victory has the Breakers ahead of the Chieftains. Head-to-head results could also put the Breakers ahead of Santa Cruz, but we believe the Cardinals will be seeded significantly higher with their stronger overall resume.
If Carmel ends up in the Open Division, the field would be smaller than the 12 teams currently projected.
2) Santa Cruz
3) King’s Academy
4) Pacific Grove
5) Sacred Heart Prep
9) Terra Nova
10) Half Moon Bay
12) King City
Much of Division V is comprised of teams from the PSAL, and many of those teams either haven’t played a full nonleague schedule or haven’t put the games on MaxPreps. Assuming these teams are just playing fewer than 24 games, most need a .500 league record to qualify, so our projections could change significantly in the coming weeks as those games are played out.
The top seeds, though, are largely set in stone at this point. Eastside is almost certainly going to win no worse than a share of the WBAL title. The Panthers are a step ahead of Woodside Priory and well ahead of the other WBAL D-V teams. Nueva, St. Francis SCP and Stevenson are also in line for high seeds.
3) St. Francis SCP
6) Woodside Priory
9) Mountain View Academy
10) Pacific Bay Christian
11) University Prep Academy
12) Summit Shasta
Kehillah Jewish (vs. Mountain View Academy), KIPP San Jose Collegiate (vs. Summit Shasta), Pacific Collegiate (vs. Pacific Bay Christian), York (vs. University Prep Academy)