By Joe Henricksen
Any subscriber to the City/Suburban Hoops Report publication has heard the rant on the current set up of sectional seeding. A year ago the IHSA went away from an actual "seeding meeting" and did the seeding electronically. It's a shame -- and, for lack of a better word -- stupid.
The explanation is one less night out for coaches and eliminating travel. Everything you do as a coach, when it comes to wins and losses, is geared toward earning that seed, putting your team in the best position possible. Coaches put the time in during the summer via camps, shootouts and tournaments, they align their schedule in preparation for sectional seeding, watch hours of film and go out and scout opponents all season long. They can't spend an hour or two at a meeting to try and get the seeds as correct as possible? It's inexplainable. And I have heard only a couple of coaches (who should be embarrassed) out of dozens I have spoken with over the last year that truly think it's better this way.
Most importantly you want to get the seeds right. Those coaches at the end of the season, those that are scuffling through a five and six-win season and are bound for a 13-19 seed, do you really think all of them care and take the time to do a little research before punching in numbers on a computer? If those coaches are in a meeting they at least can be held accountable in front of their peers when showing the seeds they gave. Get back in the room, discuss, listen and then seed.
Who decided this was the best way to go? A clueless, overbearing wife of a high school coach who every February asked her husband with a straight face, "Do you really have to go to this seeding thingy tonight? I have the last two weeks of American Idol taped that we still have to watch!" -- or the IHSA, the organization that railroaded the four-classes through the system, took away the top four seeds hosting regionals, and ... oh, forget it. I'll lay off the IHSA decision-makers.
Here is a look at how the City/Suburban Hoops Report sees various sectional seeds throughout the Chicago area (through Sunday, Feb. 7) as high school coaches get ready to move and click that mouse and enter their seeds this week. The Hoops Report breaks down the top eight seeds in the Chicago area's Class 4A and 3A sectionals.
1. Lyons Township
2. Mount Carmel
5. Hyde Park
6. Morgan Park
Breakdown: Sorry, pro-Chicago schools (which make up the majority of the schools in this sectional), you're going to have to go with the boys from LaGrange with the top seed. THEY ARE UNBEATEN.... THEY HAVE NOT LOST.... YOU CAN'T IGNORE THIS FACT. ... Mount Carmel has played the tougher schedule, yes, but the Caravan settle in at No. 2, followed by surprising Bogan at No. 3. Then it gets tricky. Simeon, though, has beaten Hyde Park and Morgan Park, while playing one of the tougher schedules in the state. Despite Simeon's struggles at times, they should be No. 4. Morgan Park has never gained the consistency due to youth and the injury to Wayne Blackshear, while Vocational really struggled down the stretch.
Neuqua Valley Sectional
1. Glenbard East
2. Neuqua Valley
3. Benet Academy
4. Naperville North
5. Oswego East
6. East Aurora
7. Downers Grove South
Breakdown: The top three seeds and their order are pretty clear, with Glenbard East getting the top seed over Neuqua Valley as a result of its 18-point win back in December. Naperville North has put together a solid season and has beaten sectional foes Oswego East (without Jay Harris), Wheaton South and West Aurora, while losing to Benet at the buzzer. The 16-win Huskies get the No. 4 seed.
Oswego East has lost just once with its top player in the lineup -- to state-ranked Peoria Central -- and has beaten East Aurora. Bolingbrook has won four straight, including seed-boosting wins over state-ranked Hillcrest and a solid Joliet team in the last couple of weeks. Downers Grove South is one to watch. The young parts are coming together and the Mustangs head into seeding week having won six straight. However, while competitive, DGS has not played quite the schedule East Aurora has, which gives the Tomcats the No. 6 seed. Wheaton-Warrenville South and Naperville Central, two teams with winning records, show the depth in this sectional and would check in at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, followed by West Aurora.
6. Plainfield Central
Breakdown: Thornton has beaten H-F and has played a very competitive schedule. Joliet beat H-F twice but has lost to both Lockport and Bolingbrook in January. Nonetheless, JT's body of work against the schedule it has played gets the edge over Lockport.
The toughest -- and most important decision -- is where to put H-F, Lockport and Sandburg? The coveted No. 3 seed will avoid having to play a conference rival in a regional final for the third time. H-F beat Sandburg, Sandburg beat Lockport twice and Lockport beat H-F. We'll give Lockport the edge over H-F due to the head-to-head win, while Sandburg drops to No. 5 due to its schedule not being as strong as H-F's schedule. Bloom gets the No. 7 seed over Thornwood as a result of its 58-57 win over the Thunderbirds back in December.
Proviso East Sectional
1. Whitney Young
3. De La Salle
5. St. Patrick
6. Proviso East
7. Oak Park
8. Lincoln Park
Breakdown: Toughest call here is the 4-7 seeds. In reality you could put Curie, St. Pat's, Proviso East and Oak Park in a hat and pick any of them to fill the four spots. However, nabbing the fourth and fifth seeds is imperative in that it would avoid having to face any of the top three teams (Young, Foreman and De La Salle).
And where do you put Curie? It's hard to overlook what has happened with the transfers of a couple of players and having as many losses as they do. But of all the teams vying for the No. 4 seed, none has played as tough of a schedule as Curie. Plus, Curie handed Glenbard East its only loss of the season, beat Bogan, Hyde Park and East Aurora and has won nine of its last 11 games. Proviso East, which lost to St. Patrick in December, had a chance to move up if they could have handed Lyons a loss last Saturday.
Niles West Sectional
1. Glenbrook North
2. Von Steuben
3. New Trier
4. Maine South
6. Niles Notre Dame
8. Lake Park
Breakdown: The debate will be whether Von Steuben, with a regular-season win over Glenbrook North, deserves the No. 1 seed with six losses? The 23-point loss to Brooks in late January was a stinger for the Panthers. For the Hoops Report, it came down to who we thought would win a Von Steuben-Glenbrook North matchup right now. GBN gets the edge.
Maine South has 22 wins but lost to New Trier in early January. Plus, of New Trier's four losses, three have come to state-ranked Waukegan (twice) and St. Joseph. Prospect gets the nod over Niles Notre Dame for No. 5 due to having beaten St. Patrick (Notre Dame lost to St. Pat's) and finishing higher at the Wheeling Holiday Tournament than Notre Dame. Don't get too caught up in Mather's 20 wins (they lost to Lincoln Park by 25 and to Niles North). Lake Park sneaks into the No. 8 spot with wins over sectional foes Glenbrook South (44-28), Elk Grove, Loyola Academy and Niles North.
4. Lake Forest
Breakdown: The top three seeds have been solidified. Lake Forest sits in first place in the North Suburban Lake and gets the No. 4 seed and can square off with Stevenson for a third time to decide the regional final.
The big news here is where Zion-Benton and Mundelein fall to. The Zee-Bees have struggled, while Mundelein currently sits in sixth place in the North Suburban Lake but is still better than the Mid-Suburban League teams that are in this sectional who are outside the top eight. Warren is playing its best basketball of the year, with wins over Mundelein and Zion-Benton in the last two weeks, making a push into the top eight.
1. St. Joseph
4. North Lawndale
5. Wheaton Academy
8. Glenbard South
Breakdown: St. Joseph and Marshall are clearly the top two seeds, though an argument can be made for both being the top seed. Both have played impressive schedules and fared well, but St. Joseph has lost just twice since Thanksgiving -- and both losses came to top-ranked Whitney Young by a total of eight points. Orr is fresh off a win over North Lawndale to secure the No. 3 seed.
Wheaton Academy (20-1) hasn't lost to a team from Illinois yet, losing to Charlotte Christian out of North Carolina, but the schedule is not up to par with the other teams in the field. That schedule strength could hurt Wheaton Academy in trying to get into the top four. Riverside-Brookfield has just three losses, with two of R-B's three losses coming to unbeaten Lyons Township. However, one common opponent for Wheaton Academy and Riverside-Brookfield will have to separate the two, despite R-B playing the better schedule. R-B lost to Timothy Christian in late January, while Wheaton Academy beat Timothy Christian by 20 points in December. Trying to figure out the No. 8 seed in this sectional? Impossible.
.... Oh, forget it. Let the coaches and IHSA sort out this mess, which is the weakest sectional in the Chicago area.
Lincoln-Way West Sectional
3. Rich South
5. T.F. North
8. Rich Central
Breakdown: Hillcrest has just three losses, with wins over the likes of sectional foes Crete-Monee and T.F. North. Crete-Monee has played a competitive schedule and has handed Rich South two of its three losses. Both T.F. North and Brooks have been inconsistent, though T.F. North does have a win over Crete-Monee. But the Meteors also have losses to .500-and-below teams Eisenhower, Harlan and T.F. South. Brooks has played a few games without star guard George Marshall, while Richards has missed senior leader Brandon Snowden, who just recently returned from injury. But the Meteors also have losses to Eisenhower, Harlan and T.F. South.
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