The CCS boys basketball seeding meeting begins at noon today. With Monday and Tuesday’s results accounted for, we have one last round of projections ready to go. When the meeting, which is being held via Zoom, concludes, the official brackets will be posted. It’s our hope that our projections help to give teams an accurate guess at who they’ll be drawn against.
As a reminder, a couple of changes to the playoff format should be noted. First, the only neutral site game across all divisions will be the Open Division Championship Game, to be played at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz. All other games across all other divisions will be at home sites, just as they were in the 2021 season. This is a deviation from the pre-COVID tradition of holding semifinals and championship games at neutral sites, and it places more of an emphasis than ever on having a high seed.
Furthermore, the Open Division has been completely revamped to follow a pool play format similar to the one used by the Southern Section. All teams will play three games within their pools, with the higher seed hosting each game. Pool A will have teams seeded 1, 4, 5 and 8, and Pool B will have the 2, 3, 6 and 7 seeds. The winner of each pool will advance to the championship game.
Riordan beat Sacred Heart Cathedral at the buzzer while St. Ignatius lost at Serra, giving the Crusaders sole possession of second place in the WCAL. We expect Sacred Heart Prep to be seeded second by way of a head-to-head win over Riordan, with the next five WCAL teams to be seeded in the third through seventh spots. Yes, Serra did sweep St. Ignatius, but the Padres will likely still be placed behind the Wildcats by way of their weaker overall league record. There is an off-chance the Padres get the edge by way of their head-to-head sweep and split with Mitty, but the same argument could be then used to seed St. Francis ahead of Serra, considering that the Lancers swept the Padres. The order of the Wildcats and Padres will lead to some debate, but we believe that the league standings, coupled with SI owning a win over a common opponent in Miramonte, will be enough to give the Wildcats the fourth seed and home court for Friday’s pool play opener.
Santa Cruz is the most obvious candidate for the final spot, but playoff history is one of the criteria used to select teams for the Open Division. Burlingame beat the Cardinals last year for the Division III Championship and won a share of the PAL South title with Tuesday’s win over Carlmont, but we believe the Panthers’ overall resume isn’t strong enough. They lost to Cupertino, who Santa Cruz beat, and losses to Aragon, Pittsburg and San Mateo cause far more damage than any of the Cardinals’ defeats.
Major changes to our Division I projections have been made in response to Tuesday’s results in the SCVAL.
Palo Alto’s 49-43 win at Los Altos gives the Vikings a share of the league title and moves them ahead of the Eagles on the board. Menlo-Atherton was already likely to be ahead of the Vikings by a head-to-head win (albeit one against a COVID-depleted Palo Alto team), but now the Bears likely jump ahead of Los Altos as well. The Eagles, once an Open Division hopeful, are now projected for the sixth spot.
While the order of the top six is going to be up for discussion, the teams that we project in the top six spots look like obvious picks for those positions overall. Past that, it’s a mess. Fremont jumps up the rankings with a win over Gunn, vaulting the Firebirds to a share of the SCVAL El Camino crown. What’s more, they swept Los Gatos head-to-head and therefore own the tiebreaker with the Wildcats. They also beat Independence, the top BVAL team on the board, head-to-head, and move from the 11th seed to the seventh spot in our final projections.
It doesn’t get any simpler after that. Independence should be seeded between Fremont and Cupertino, given the 76ers beat the Pioneers. Though Independence and Silver Creek split head-to-head, with the Sixers winning the first meeting in overtime and the Raiders taking the rematch in a 40-point blowout, the 76ers likely go on the board first via BVAL bylaws. They own the tiebreaker by winning a game against league champion Pioneer.
Watsonville reportedly lost a coin flip with Soledad for the PCAL Santa Lucia’s automatic berth, and the Wildcatz have no shot of getting an at-large bid. We don’t have any word on the coin flip between Hollister and Stevenson for the second PCAL Mission auto bid, but we project the Haybalers as the winner of that spot. If they lose the coin flip, their spot likely goes to Alisal. Salinas is securely in the field at this point by way of beating Monterey.
None of Monday or Tuesday’s results affect our Division II projections. We remain confident that the top four seeds will be some combination of Christopher, Lynbrook, Pioneer and Valley Christian, but their order depends on the committee’s view of Christopher’s strong schedule and Lynbrook’s performance in a strong SCVAL El Camino. Our only change comes in moving Pioneer ahead of the Vikings, emphasizing the Mustangs’ win over Santa Teresa.
Burlingame beat Carlmont on Tuesday to claim a share of the PAL South title. Though the Panthers have bad losses to Aragon, Pittsburg and San Mateo, but the Pittsburg loss came without their top two players, Sean Richardson and Lou Martineau. Martineau also missed the San Mateo defeat, and the Panthers split with both the Bearcats and Dons. Burlingame’s season-opening win over Lowell could be the key to giving the Panthers the top seed, since Lowell crushed Aptos four weeks later. Saratoga also likely edges Aptos via a common opponent in Pioneer.
Santa Cruz is almost certainly an Open Division team, but if the Cardinals make their way into the Division III field in pursuit of ending a string of four straight championship game losses, they’d be the obvious top seed. That would create a domino effect that pushes everyone else down by one spot and squeezes King City out of the field. If Santa Cruz does make the Open Division and joins St. Ignatius, there will be 17 teams vying for 16 spots, with Rancho San Juan as the odd one out.
Our Division IV predictions remain unchanged from the ones posted on Monday. DCP El Primero lost on Tuesday, failing to reach a .500 league record and therefore missing the field.
Aside from the debate between San Lorenzo Valley and Terra Nova over the fourth and fifth seeds, we feel very confident in our Division IV projections, barring any unexpected entry or withdrawal by a small private school that hasn’t been posting updated results.
Finding records for Division V teams can be difficult as a substantial handful neglect to post regular updates to MaxPreps. In turn, we feel less confident about our Division V projections than we do with any of the others.
Our only change from the prior round of Division V projections is among the unseeded teams. The last spot is now likely to go to East Palo Alto, but it’s entirely possible for Pacific Bay Christian or University Prep Academy to take the spot instead. It’s also always a possibility for some Division V schools to choose not to enter the playoffs, whether that be due to so many of their players competing in spring sports, a school trip or some other reason entirely.