March 4, 2013
Forecasting the NorCal basketball playoffs by division with comments/insight

A breakdown of the Northern California Regional basketball playoffs:

1. Salesian-Richmond (30-3).
2. Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (26-4)
3. Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland (26-3)
4. Sheldon (25-5)
5. Serra-San Mateo (25-5)
6. Modesto Christian (28-3)
7. Newark Memorial-Newark (23-7)
First round:
No. 5 Serra at No. 4 Sheldon
No. 6 Modesto Christian vs. No. 3 Bishop O'Dowd at Chabot
No. 7 Newmark Memorial at No. 2 Archibishop Mitty
First-round bye: Salesian
Joe D's take: The new Open makes for intrigue and excitement, yes, but there are some grumpy folks in this mix, including Sheldon. The Huskies are mixed on the Open concept. Yes, they can hang with anyone and beat anyone, but the main design of the Open concept is to allow public schools a fighting chance to compete for NorCal and state titles as private schools have dominated over the years. So here's Sheldon now in an Open mix flooded with private schoools. Most alarming is how the four-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champions gained just a 4-seed. It makes sense to have at least a 3-seed, behind Salesian and Mitty, teams the
Huskies lost close games to. But one of the main Open criteria is state rankings, and Sheldon has been ranked higher in NorCal and in the state than O'Dowd in the last month or more by MaxPreps and Cal-Hi Sports. Still. Sheldon wants the Open Division, and it wants a shot at the best, and that means Salesian looms. Salesian is the defending state D-IV champion, but remember, private schools in smaller divisions doesn't mean less talent. Salesian is big time and it features McDonald's All-American standout guard Jabari Bird. Sheldon has perhaps the best starting five in the North with Dakarai Allen, D'Erryl Williams, Darin Johnson, Ryan Manning and Antonio Lewis, and it's a group with something to prove. Salesian beat Sheldon 69-60 last month in a nonleague game in the East Bay. Bird took over late. The game included a 3-man officiating crew that sucked the life out of the tempo with 46 total calls and referees and coaches barking at each other from both sides. Expect the next 3-man crew to allow a bit more flow, should the teams meet again, and expect fresher legs as both teams played the night before in the last meeting.
And what about Mitty? The Monarchs won the last two CIF State D-II titles and still feature McDonald's All-American Aaron Gordon, who has an NBA body now. O'Dowd has a superb team, too, as does the No. 7 seed in Newark Memorial, which lost a close game earlier this season to Pleasant Grove, then rolled the rest of the season and now draws Mitty. Shoot, they're all loaded in this field.
Projected final: Sheldon vs. O'Dowd. Yes, that means the Huskies beat a Salesian team that has a 75-game NorCal winning streak. If it's going to happen, it happens now.

Division I
1. Deer Valley-Antioch (24-5)
2. Pleasant Grove (24-6)
3. San Leandro (23-6)
4. Bellarmine-San Jose (23-6)
5. McClymonds-Oakland 21-7
6. De La Salle-Concord (24-4)
7. Oakland (18-11)
8. Freedom-Oakley (19-9)
9. Bella Vista (24-6)
10. Piedmont Hills-San Jose (23-7)
First Round:
No. 9 Bella Vista at No. 8 Freedom
No. 12 Santa Teresa vs. No. 5 McClymonds
No. 13 Lincoln at No. 4 Bellarmine
No. 14 Bethel at No. 3 San Leandro
No. 11 Palo Alto at No. 6 De La Salle
No. 10 Piedmont Hills at No. 7 Oakland
First-round byes: No. 1. Deer Valley; No. 2. Pleasant Grove
Joe D's take: If there were no Open Division, Sheldon most assuredly would have gained the No. 1 seed here as it is a combined 4-0 this season against Deer Valley and Pleasant Grove. As it stands, this is a new tournament - and it will be a fun one. Deer Valley is coming off its first North Coast Section D-I championship, a run that includes beating longtime power De La Salle in the semifinals. Deer Valley has the field's most incredible athlete/player in 6-foot-10 high flyer post Marcus Lee, a McDonald's All-American headed to Kentucky. Pleasant Grove has been oh-so-close in three agonizing losses to Sheldon, including 60-57 in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I finals Saturday. The Eagles, in their second NorCal showing, have three three-year starters who work beautifully together in Cole Nordquist, Matt Hayes and Malik Thames with two unsung cogs in 6-6 sophomore post Marquiss Chriss and gritty forward Matt Smrekar.
And there's De La Salle, still the masters of playing defense, cutting off the baseline, collpsing the inside and competing under guru veteran coach Frank Allocco, who earlier this season won his 600th career game. A De La Salle-Pleasant Grove semifinal is the ultimate PG test, and DLS is the team that eliminated PG last season in the NorCals. Bella Vista, which battled Pleasant Grove to the wire in a section semifinal, plays at Freedom of Oakley in what should be a great opener. The winner draws waiting and resting Deer Valley.
Projected final: Deer Valley vs. Pleasant Grove. Can Pleasant Grove beat De La Salle? Absolutely, but it cannot allow DLS to put the defensive clams on like last year's NorCal contest.

Division II
1. Dublin (24-6)
2. Antelope (25-6)
3. Mt. Eden-Hayward (19-10)
4. Grant (23-8)
5. Sacramento (24-6)
6. Chico (20-6)
7. Montgomery-Santa Rosa (23-8)
8. El Camino-South San Francisco (22-7)
9. Rocklin (20-10)
10. St. Francis-Mountain View (12-16)
11. College Park-Pleasant Hill (22-5)
12. Pleasant Valley-Chico (14-13)
9. Bella Vista
First Round:
No. 9 Rocklin at No. 8 El Camino
No. 12 Pleasant Valley at No. 5 Sacramento
No. 11 College Park at No. 6 Chico
No. 7 Montgomery at No. 10 St. Francis
First-round byes: No. 1 Dublin; No. 2 Antelope; No. 3 Mt. Eden; No. 4. Grant.
Joe D's take: It's interesting that Newark Memorial draws a 7-seed in the Open as it clearly would've been the 1-seed here otherwise, having beaten Dublin three times this season. So why not Antelope as the top seed? The committee may view the North Coast Section stronger than Antelope's Sac-Joaquin Section, and Dublin beat Sacramento, which beat Antelope. Yes, every detail and bit of data is crunched. Still, this is a fun, wide-open field even with two-time defending state champion Mitty of San Jose in the Open. Grant taking on Sacramento in a potential second-round game would be a classic rematch from a down-to-the-wire section semifinal. The rematch would be in Del Paso Heights, with the winner likely drawing Dublin in the semifinals.
Antelope can run, score and defend. It has length and athletes and a fine coach in Rob Richards. But what about health? Inside bruiser Isaiah Ellis has a bad foot
that may sideline him (he went down in the section title win over Grant). And there's Rocklin, a section semifinal loser to Antelope facing El Camino of South San Francisco on Wednesday in the Peninsula.
Projected final: Antelope vs. Dublin. Antelope wins this if it has banger Isaiah Ellis, the team's leading rebounder and shot blocker. Otherwise, it's Dublin, though a Dublin vs. Sacramento-Grant winner would be a classic, too. Dublin has five losses to Open teams.

Division III
1. Sacred Heart Cathedral-SF (18-11)
2. El Cerrito (22-1)
3. Enterprise-Redding (24-3)
4. Sierra-Manteca (27-5)
5. Drake-San Anselmo (24-6)
6. Weston Ranch-Stockton (21-7)
7. Burlingame (21-8)
8. San Marin-Novato (20-11)
9. Casa Roble (24-6)
10. Miramonte-Orinda (17-10)
11. Mission-San Francisco (15-14)
12. Santa Cruz (19-11)
13. Shasta-Redding (15-12)
First round:
No. 9 Casa Roble at No. 8 San Marin
No. 12 Santa Cruz at No. 5 Sir Francis Drake
No. 13 Shasta at No. 4 Sierra
No. 6 Weston Ranch at No. 11 Mission
No. 10 Miramonte at No. 7 Burlingame
First-round byes: No. 1 Sacred Heart Cathedral; No. 2 El Cerrito; No. 3. Enterprise.
Joe D's take: Sacred Heart is the top seed as it hails from the brutal West Catholic Athletic League that includes Mitty and Serra of the Open, among others. El Cerrito played league rival Salesian close in three losses. Enterprise is the top team in the North state, rolling with a 16-game winning streak, last losing to El Cerrito in a close game. Casa Roble looms as a darkhorse, having lost to Sierra-Manteca in a section semifinal, and no one in this field features the length of brothers Eric Stuteville (6-foot-10) and Mason Stuteville (6-9).
Projected final: El Cerrito vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral. In normal years, Bishop O'Dowd is here, but this is no normal season.

Division IVSeeds
1. Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (29-3)
2. Riordan-San Francisco (18-11)
3. Marin Catholic-Kentfield (23-8)
4. Soquel (22-7)
5. Summerville-Tuolumne (29-2)
6. Menlo-Atherton (20-7)
7. Liberty Ranch-Galt (22-9)
8. Corning (27-2)
9. Arcata (24-7)
10. Half Moon Bay (22-7)
11. St. Mary's-Berkeley (17-7)
12. Orland (24-5)
13. Colfax (24-6)
14. Riverbank (24-4)
First round:
No. 9 Arcata at No. 8 Corning
No. 12 Orland at No. 5 Summerville
No. 13 Colfax at No. 4 Soquel
No. 14 Riverbank at No. 3 Marin Catholic
No. 11 St. Mary's-Berkeley at No. 6 Menlo
No. 10 Half Moon Bay at No. 7 Liberty Ranch
First-round byes: No. 1 Cardinal Newman; No. 2. Archbishop Riordan
Joe D's take: The Open is designed to thin out the heavies, which really also means to move around the private schools. That happened to a large degree, but the D-IV field here is top heavy with private schools with the field also full of community-based programs such as Summerville, Liberty Ranch, Corning, Arcata, Half Moon Bay, Orland, Colfax and Riverbank. Newman is the clear favorite, though Riordan is battle tested from the rigors of the best league in Northern California in the West Catholic Athletic League. Soquel nearly upset two-time defending State D-II champion and Open No. 2 seed Mitty in an early Central Coast Section playoff game. The newcomer to all of this is Liberty Ranch in just its third varsity season with a major rise from four wins to six to 22 this season under rookie coach Josh Williams, a natural for this sort of gig, and leading talent Michael Meserole. Corning has a 27-2 record out of the North Section with 6-6 junior post Michael Shoemaker averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds. Corning could face Cardinal Newman in a second-round game in a meeting of Cardinals.
Projected final: Cardinal Newman vs. Riordan. Newman was rolling until falling to Salesian in the Section D-IV finals, and there's no shame in that. Riordan is used to pressure games, having competed in the West Catholic Athletic League.

Division V
1. St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda (22-11)
2. Capital Christian (24-4)
3. University-San Francisco (24-8)
4. Branson-Ross (19-12)
5. Brookside Christian (27-2)
6. Central Catholic Modesto (25-4)
7. Head-Royce-Oakland (24-5)
8. Liberty Christian-Redding (23-7)
9. Ripon Christian (23-5)
10. Pinewood-Los Altos Hills (14-11)
11. Alma Heights-Pacifica (26-4)
12. Modoc-Alturas (23-5)
First round:
No. 9 Ripon Christian at No. 8 Liberty Christian
No. 12 Modoc at No. 5 Brookside Christian
No. 11 Alma Heights at No. 6 Central Catholic
No. 7 Head-Royce at No. 10 Pinewood
First-round byes: No. 1 St. Joseph N.D.; No. 2 Capital Christian; No. 3 SF University; No. 4 Branson.
Joe D's take: St. Joseph is the home of Jason Kidd, who led the Pilots to NorCal and State D-I titles his final two seasons as a prep marvel in the early 1990s, and it's recently been the home to guru coaching leader Don Lippi, who has won it all. Capital Christian has big-time talent but a big-time loss with 6-foot-8 leaper D.J. Wilson sidelined with a bad back.
Projected final: Capital vs. St. Joseph in a game of skill and discipline, an old coach in Lippi going against a fearless rookie leader in Devon Jones.

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