Regional Preview and Predictions: Division I

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Posted On: 03/14/18 5:00 AM

We’d be really excited to see our projected Final Four matchups for Division I. The stylistic clashes at hand and seeing how these coaching staffs would compensate for certain mismatches would be fascinating. But, nobody is getting ahead of themselves besides us. These teams have to come up with two more victories to reach that point during everyone’s toughest week of season up to this point.

Games start tonight and they’re played at Xavier, Akron, Ohio Dominican, and Cleveland State. Tomorrow, the Toledo teams face off at the University of Toledo. Then, Regional Championships are played on Friday.

Our regional previews are a bit more long-winded than the other divisions, so we’ll shut up now and let you move onto the rest of the article, that is if you’re still reading this part for some reason.

Cincinnati Region

First of all, it stinks that Princeton’s Darius Bazley and Dominic Pierce are suspended for one more game. Imagine putting in hundreds of hours in the gym for a chance to be State Champions as seniors, then having your chance ripped away because of an instinctual reaction. Sure we’re disappointed as spectators, fans, and media. But, most importantly, it’s unfortunate for the players, not being able to see their senior season all the way through.

But, this is still the most talented Regional Final Four.

Expect Moeller to beat Springfield for a second time, as the Wildcats’ strengths (versatile forwards and athleticism) are neutralized by Moeller’s personnel. They’ll play Wayne, who could run away from the shorthanded Vikings in tonight’s primetime game.

Arguably the two best teams in Ohio will meet at Xavier University on Friday. Wayne has the guard play to handle a Moeller defense, touting two points guards committed to Division I programs in Darius Quisenberry and DeShon Parker. However, Moeller is red hot. The Crusaders haven’t lost a game in 2018. In the District Final win over Fairmont, Moeller shot 63 percent, had 17 assists compared to 11 turnovers, and tallied 17 stocks (blocks + steals). That sort of efficiency gives them a slight edge.

Akron/Toledo Region

On Jan. 13, we knew that Toledo St. John’s was home to a Regional Final preview. Now, we’re just one game away from seeing that prediction through, as St. Edward will look to avenge a 59-45 January loss against St. John’s. In that regular season showdown, both teams were just a couple days removed from a California trip, where both competed at the Torrey Pines Classic. Not sure if the extra cross-state travel had to do with St. Edward’s double-digit loss, but we’ve heard that theory thrown around.

Anyways, these rosters are kind of comparable. In many ways, SJJ senior and Prep Hoops Ohio Player of the Year Vincent Williams reminds us of an older version of Eds sophomore Devontae Blanton. Also, two-guards Houston King and Grant Huffman are similar in build and athleticism. The advantage for St. John’s is senior leadership, while Eds has a point guard advantage in breakout sophomore Montorie Foster. Neither team is ginormous, although Eds has more frontcourt depth. However, Williams, a 6’5″ VCU commit, has proven capable of solidifying the paint for the Titans all year.

Can you tell it’s a toss up? We’ll take St. John’s, but we expect the game to be decided by five points or less.

Columbus Region

Well, this isn’t what we expected the Columbus Region to look like. Pickerington North looked like a shoe-in a couple weeks back, while Upper Arlington had beaten Coffman twice before getting blown out by the Rocks last Saturday.

In our opinion, the district tourney upsets cleared the path for Bradley. In watching all four District Finals at ODU, Bradley jumped off the page. The Jaguars are profoundly prepared, ball secure, efficient, and physical. They run lineups of five players who can all dribble, pass, screen, switch, communicate, and shoot. We’re expecting Bradley to take on Coffman in the Regional Final, although we’re not counting out Pick Central by any means. The key in that anticipated final is that Bradley has multiple players they can throw at sophomore point guard Dominiq Penn, who scored a game-high 30 against UA to get Coffman to this point while looking like a bonafide high-major prospect.

Cleveland Region

Copley is hot, we’ll take them in a close one over the defending State Champs in the 6:15 game tonight. However, the winner of Shaker and Solon should advance to Columbus. In that one, we expect Solon to beat Shaker Heights for a third time. Senior Sincere Carry leads a fast-paced yet efficient Solon team. The key part there is efficiency. Shaker can get up and down the court with Solon, but Carry and the crew are likely to win the turnover battle and hit more 3-pointers. Also, Shaker won’t take advantage of Solon’s primary deficiency: size.

By the way, there have been an average of 164 total points scored in the first two matchups. So, expect this game to be played in the high-70s or 80s.

 

Our anticipated Division I State Semifinals: Moeller vs. Toledo St. John’s (March 23 at 5:15) and Hilliard Bradley vs. Solon (March 23 at 8:30).