One of the few ways to make watching postseason basketball more fun is to try to predict how it’s going to unfold.
That’s why we fill out March Madness brackets year in and year out. Well, and in attempt to win a fraction of Warren Buffett’s fortune.
It is unclear if Buffett is offering a billion dollars for perfect 4A North regional tournament brackets, but that’s not going to stop me from making five fearless predictions for this week’s action. Maybe the offer is coming. Plus, plenty of dated newspapers will serve as evidence when Buffett’s lawyers final call back and state “Mr. Buffett did not offer such prize,” or some other bologna.
The boys tournament starts Tuesday at host sites. The semifinals on Thursday and title game on Saturday will be held at Carson.
The girls tournament tips on Wednesday at host sites. Carson will also host the semifinals (Friday) and title game (Saturday).
5. Three High Desert League girls teams will advance
If you remove Bishop Manogue from the equation, the Sierra League gets pretty arid.
The Miners went 16-0 in regional play. Nobody else had a winning regional record, although Douglas finished at 8-8.
The High Desert League is a different story. The HDL No. 4 seed, McQueen, finished with a 10-6 record – four games better than Sierra League No. 4 seed, Galena.
For three HDL teams to advance to the semis, Reno would need to beat Galena, Reed would have to take of Carson, and Spanish Springs will have to pull off the “upset” of Douglas (because McQueen is not going to be the team to dethrone Bishop Manogue).
The third-seeded Cougars played the second-seeded Tigers once this year, winning 58-26 at Spanish Springs in December.
And Spanish Springs’ last playoff win? Four years ago. As a three seed. On the road. At second-seeded Douglas.
4. Boys tourney form will hold true early
All No. 1 and 2 seeds are going to advance to the semifinals on Thursday with varying degrees of ease, or difficulty.
Carson, last year’s regional champ, certainly can go to Reno and pull out a road playoff win. Blowing a 16-point second-half lead at Douglas on Friday can be looked at two ways. Maybe it’s fuel to the fire. Maybe it’s further proof this is not the same Senators team.
A game that gained the most intrigue over the last week is fourth-seeded Douglas at top-seeded Spanish Springs.
The Cougars won the first meeting with the Tigers in Minden, 77-64, and have won 14 straight. The Tigers, however, are not a traditional No. 4 seed.
They’ve won four straight, including their last two at Galena and at home against Carson.
All the top seeds will win, but it won’t be blowouts across the board.
3. All four No. 1 seeds will play for title
On the girls side, Reno and Bishop Manogue will play for the title. It will be the fifth-straight year the Huskies and Miners are the two 4A North teams left standing.
Reed has a lot of talent, Spanish Springs plays fundamentally and Douglas at least gets a first-round home game (albeit against Spanish Springs), but none have the overall ability to match up with Reno or Bishop Manogue.
On the boys side, there is much more parity.
Five different teams went 11-5 or better in regional play. All of those teams (Spanish Springs, Galena, Bishop Manogue, Reno and Carson) are legit title contenders. Some more so than others.
With more trip wire in the field, it’s easier to stumble.
Still, Spanish Springs and Galena are the two teams to beat. The Cougars haven’t lost to a 4A North team this year. The Grizzlies are led by the premier Northern Nevada prospect in the 2017 class: Dillon Voyles.
The two teams will play for a spot in the state tournament on Saturday.
Galena upset Spanish Springs in last year’s regional quarterfinals as a No. 3 seed. If the Grizzlies end the Cougs’ season again this year, it won’t be an upset.
2. Bishop Manogue girls win third straight
By the time the Miners reach the title game, they will have won 51 consecutive games against regional competition. That total includes victories in the last two regional title games.
The Miners simply have more weapons and are more athletic than the Huskies. Katie Turner is the reigning Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year, although she has taken on more of a facilitating role this year on the offensive end.
She’s done so due to the consistent play of fellow senior Malia Holt (averaging 9.6 ppg) and the emergence of Malia’s freshman sister, Kenna, who’s third on the team, averaging almost seven points a night.
Bishop Manogue went to Reno in December and left with a 69-59 win.
1. Spanish Springs boys will go 19-0
People tend to view going into the postseason with an undefeated record as a kiss of death.
The 2007 Patriots went 18-0 before falling in the Super Bowl. The 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats won their first 38, then Wisconsin bounced them in the Final Four. Alabama was the last remaining undefeated team in college football this year. Clemson changed that.
But this isn’t big time college basketball. And it certainly isn’t the NFL.
Just last year, Carson won all 16 of its regional games and went on to celebrate a regional title.
Spanish Springs is the most talented team in the 4A North. It has arguably the best player in Marcus Loadholt. It’s veteran-heavy. And it’s the deepest.
All are big bonuses in the postseason.
The Cougars tend to get careless with the ball, which could justifiably lead to their undoing this week. But even if turnovers do start to pile up, this team has the talent on both ends of the floor to compensate.
Spanish Springs has never won a regional title. It also never won a league title until 2015. Now it has two.
The Cougars are a program on the rise. And on Saturday, the ascent will reach another plateau.
Nathan can be reached via email at email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.