Everyone loves a good list of predictions, so I figured why not humor you with my ultra-educated picks (note the sarcasm). Obviously, this will be solid bulletin board material for someone, and without question a call out or two on Twitter. Without further ado, let the fun begin. Oh and by the way, Eric Frantz is going to go offer up his picks too…Enjoy.
Division II Picks
Akron SVSM vs. Columbus Bishop Watterson
It was just 362 days ago that these two powerhouses hooked up in a memorable state championship tilt. The Eagles won the school’s first boy’s basketball state championship by besting a school that was looking to tie Middletown for the all-time mark (7) for boy’s roundball championships. What will happen in round 2? I vividly remember sitting at the press conference nearly a year ago, and listening to head coach Dru Joyce talk about the game. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something to the tune of with what we (Akron SVSM) have coming back and what they (Watterson) have coming back, there is a good chance we will see these guys again. As a competitor, he welcomed another shot at the Eagles, and on Thursday he and his Irish will get a chance. Most people felt like the Irish would cruise to the state tournament, but that wasn’t the case, as Alliance and Poland Seminary both proved to be worthy challengers. Watterson cruised to the regional, but faced some resistance from Logan Elm and John Glenn in its two regional encounters. The Eagles got off to a pair of slow starts in those games, which is something they can’t do against the Irish. It’s extremely hard to repeat, and the Eagles have the discipline, mental toughness, and talent to do it, but SVSM will be highly motivated. First off, they lost the last meeting. Second, SVSM’s star sophomore V.J. King didn’t play up to his capabilities. Both teams will be motivated, but the Irish should be even more determined. The emotional, physical, and mental toll it takes to win games in the manner Watterson does, and it has done a lot of winning, appears to be wearing the Eagles down a bit. This is something to keep an eye on.
The Pick: Akron SVSM over Watterson
Eric’s Pick: Akron SVSM over Watterson
Norwalk vs. Dayton Thurgood Marshall
This should be a fantastic game much like the first DII semifinal. Norwalk’s quartet of seniors (Ben Haraway, Jeff Thomas, Grant Hull, & Jordan Johnson) will be looking to make good on a career filled with wins. Thurgood Marshall, a heavy favorite to cut the nets down a year ago, is trying to redeem itself from last year’s bitter end in the districts. Both teams have tremendous team chemistry, which makes this game very hard to pick as there is a lot to like about both clubs. The matchup of point guards RaChaun Martin (Thurgood Marshall) and Ben Haraway (Norwalk) should be something special. The difference in this game could come down to Thurgood’s length and athleticism on defense limiting Norwalk’s scoring duo of Haraway and Thomas. Thurgood’s deep pool of guards (Martin, D.J. Hoskins, Davion Ashe, Tremayne Hawkins, & Dwayne Chastain) can really control a game on both ends of the floor. In addition, Derrick Daniels, a versatile 6-7 sophomore, could be a tough guard for the Truckers. The Cougars should get their third crack at SVSM in a title game (‘09 & ‘11).