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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wooster District : Semifinal Predictions

We're down to just four teams in the Boys Division Three Wooster District Tournament. A week from now, one team will be making travel plans to the Canton Fieldhouse, and three others will be planning post-season banquets.

The tournament thus far has been a tale of two sides of the bracket. The top half has seen both top seeds (#1 Hillsdale and #4 Orrville) advance for probably the most anticipated game of the tournament so far. The bottom half has been (as expected) very unpredictable with #9 seed Wellington knocking off both Smithville and Norwayne and #7 seed Triway pulling the biggest upset of the fortnight (a two week period) with a shocking win over #2 seed Northwestern. The loss not only knocked the Huskies out, but also prevented senior Brennan McKean from becoming the schools all-time leading scorer, finishing his career just shy of Nate Gaubatz's record.

Let's look at each game and make some predictions, but let's first look at how Andrew of and I are stacking up in terms of head to head predictions.

Coming into Round 2, Andrew held a 5-3 advantage. We both picked Hillsdale, Northwestern, Norwayne and Northwestern, so we both had two correct picks and two incorrect picks. Nobody picked a margin correct or the exact score, so Andrew has 7 points, and I have 5 going into round 3.

I'll say this for Andrew, he labored on the Triway vs. Northwestern pick. Took guts to put his basketball knowledge over backing your alma mater, and he's a pretty big Triway fan. Even though he picked Northwestern, I doubt you'll see him losing any sleep over it.

Now to the picks.....

Monday March 7th, 7:00pm
#1 Hillsdale Falcons vs. #4 Orrville Red Riders

Tim: This is meeting #2 on the season between these two schools. The first meeting was back in December at the Smitty Classic. Plain and simple, that was embarrassing. Hillsdale ran Orrville off the court and the Riders played with way too much emotion leading to lots of poor decisions and easy baskets for Hillsdale.
I'd like to think we've improved since then and think Coach Slaughter has ironed out his rotations too. But after watching Hillsdale dismantle Loudonville, it may not matter. That's a good basketball team with the right parts in the right places.
All that said, Orrville is no Loudonville....and the Falcons will have to bring their "A" game if they want a date in the district final. Both teams want revenge in this one, Hillsdale from last year's loss to Orrville at the district semifinals, and Orrville for the loss to Hillsdale at the Smitty. If Orrville is saving up something for a game, this is the time to show it.  I think Hillsdale has plenty of advantages and on paper, has the talent and experience to win this game, but something is telling me that the Riders pull this one out.  Tim's Pick: Orrville 59 - Hillsdale 56

Andrew: Everyone saw this re-match coming ever since the seeding took place February 13th. Hillsdale controlled the game against Orrville at the College of Wooster earlier this year, winning 77-59. It was not a dominating win by any means, in my opinion, but they kept plugging away and increased their lead throughout the game. Orrville now meets a team in the tournament that has equal guard play, similar (but not as much) athleticism, AND equal height. Orrville's Wasson and Winters now have friction inside with Hillsdale's Moore and Crossen, creating a big match-up in the paint! If one can get the other in foul trouble, it could be the break that respective team needs. However, Wasson is much more valuable than Winters for Orrville whereas Crossen and Moore are both able to do the job inside (Winters can be good but has shown inconsistency and will need good minutes). Orrville does not want to run. Hillsdale beat them earlier this year doing that, and I think it would be a death trap. The Red Riders will need to execute well all
game. I think Hillsdale wins again. Andrew's Pick: Hillsdale 61 - Orrville 51

Tuesday March 8th, 7:00pm
#7 Triway Titans vs. #9 Wellington Dukes
Tim: No offense to either team, but I sincerely doubt anyone had these two picked to play for a spot in the district final. All Wellington has done is defeat two WCAL teams in the first two rounds, and Triway knocked off the #2 seed in Northwestern and held the districts "best player" to half his season average. I'm sure both teams are thinking "Why not us," and why not indeed. I have no idea who Wellington is, or what they do well, but they've surprised me twice, and have just as good a shot to do it a third time. Triway is deceiving in that they have some solid athletes in Carmichael, Polen, Grenert & Wharton...and the win over Northwestern has them flying high. Don't look at record for either of these teams. I think they ride that wave into the district finals. Tim's Pick: Triway 66 - Wellington 59.

Wouldn't it be something if Triway and Orrville met up for the district finals again? One year after surprising nobody by making the finals last year, they'd surprise everyone by doing it again in 2011.

Andrew:  Wellington has not just been a surprise team in this tournament, but they've been playing like a top-4 seed in their first two games, as well. In their first game they beat #3 seed Smithville in overtime with key contributions in the paint. Then they beat a larger Norwayne team handily finishing with 5 players in double-figures (15, 14, 14, 11, 10 pts). They are a well-rounded team playing with confidence and
with ample depth in case of foul trouble. Triway has a similar record but seems to be playing very well at tournament time, something we have come to expect over the years, and have won 5 of their last 7 games. They have a couple players who can score and control the boards inside as well as others who move the ball well outside to find the open shot, which has become their forte this year - patience.  Wellington went 3-20 from 3's in the first round and then 8-13 in the 2nd round. That could be a key factor in Tuesday's game, as well. This game could get very exciting! Go Titans! Andrew's Pick: Triway 52 - Wellington 49

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