Posted On: 03/15/18 5:00 AM
The way it’s shaking out, the sweet 16 in Division II looks more exciting than any other Regional Tournament in Ohio. This week alone, we’ve got a couple games that are State Championship-quality, including an anticipated classic in the Bowling Green Regional Championship. Other than BG, games will also be played in Trent Arena (Kettering), Ohio University, and the Canton Fieldhouse.
For predictions of all games and big picture analysis, all you have to do is keep on scrolling downwards.
This Regional final four has a unique overall identity: speed. All four teams have legitimate ball handlers and are looking to run. Woodward is a slight outlier, given that 6’4″-6’5″ forward Terry Durham is their focal point, but even the Bulldogs rely on senior point DeMontez “Cane” Cooper to create.
And if running is going to be the name of the game, how can you pick someone besides Trotwood? We’ll take them over Hughes in what could be a classic Regional Championship game. Trotwood plays with more of an edge than the Big Red, led by senior 6’3″ hybrid Myles Belyeu, a versatile Rams legend who remains one of the top unsigned prospects in Ohio.
However, all three games are must-see in this region. We’re also getting the third and final 2017-18 matchup between CMAC rivals Woodward and Hughes, a season series they’ve split thus far. Also, Columbus South is coming off a mini-upset over Eastmoor in the Columbus 2 District Championship, so Trotwood definitely needs to take this one game at a time.
Although John Glenn is hot right now, carrying a playoff scoring margin of +23.0, we’ll take the seniors at Fairland to take it all. The Dragons have seemed destined to return to Columbus after their brief showing last season, when they were rolled by D-III State Champion VASJ in the State Semifinal. Unsigned 6’8″ forward Kollin Van Horn is surrounded by a ton of floor spacers and reliable ball-handlers who combine for an efficient offensive attack.
Wauseon and Beechcroft might be the two best Division II teams in Ohio. It would be a shocker if that matchup doesn’t take place at 2:00pm at Bowling Green State University.
Let’s break it down: Wauseon is old school in that they run their offense and defense through a center, 6’9″ Duquesne commit Austin Rotroff, an underrated athlete and fluid scorer. Their perimeter defense is tight and borderline risky, knowing that all 2-point field goals will be contested by the mobile and long Rotroff if they get beat.
So, what do you need to defeat Wauseon (something no team has done all season)?
I’d say either multiple shooters or multiple rebounders, who can crash the weak-side offensive glass once Rotroff forces first chance misses. With tough wings like Elijah Bishop, Therron Jennings, and DaTrey Long, Beechcroft should get second chances. The Cougar shooting worries me, but they have big, athletic, tough bodies who can compensate for missed field goals. Also, Long’s defense may force Wauseon into early turnovers, although we wouldn’t count on it.
Give us Beechcroft in what might be the game of the tournament, but we’ve flipped and flopped on this several times.
We’ll take St. Vincent-St. Mary to beat VASJ in the final, but it’s a tough road for the Irish. Good thing the defending State Champions played a ridiculous regular season schedule to prepare for weeks like these in March.
First of all, Northwestern commit Pete Nance and Revere pose a mismatch that STVM has no answer for. They’ll need to dominate around the perimeter to overcome the semifinal matchup with the Minutemen. Watch out for a potential upset there.
Then, assuming VASJ makes it, this is actually a solid stylistic matchup for a pair of defending State Champs. The Irish won the first season meeting with the Vikings 75-63, but we’re not putting too much stock into a game that happened on Dec. 8. VASJ has the guards to matchup with STVM, including an advantage at point guard with 5’9″ leader Jerry “Gene” Higgins. STVM doesn’t have the forwards to exploit any of their weakness around the rim either. However, we’ll take a deeper Irish team to move onto Columbus.