At 12 up and 4 down, our picks for the first round of the regional playoffs in this class left us feeling pretty good. Six of the eight games on Tuesday will be district final re-matches, so clearly there were teams that found success on the road. Maybe the biggest surprise was Norland losing at home. There were also several closer-than-expected games. Crestview and Dillard each squeaked out one point victories on the road while undefeated Doral overcame upset-minded Miami Central by a single point at home.
Best Matchup: #1 Mainland on the road at Auburndale should be a terrific game. The Bloodhounds seem to be peaking at the right time. Playing on the road in Polk county is tough. Still, with only one loss against a fairly challenging schedule, Mainland should be prepared for the challenge.
Best Chance for an Upset: Belen Jesuit has played Doral tough the two times they have played at Doral. Could the third time be the charm for Belen? Jesuit has to have some confidence knowing that they have come close to Doral and that Central almost knocked them off at home last week.
Choctawhatchee over Crestview
Columbia over Gainesville
Charlotte over Port Charlotte
Fort Myers over Lehigh
Mainland over Auburndale
Hillsborough over Land O’Lakes
Boyd Anderson over Dillard
Doral Academy over Belen Jesuit
Not sure if our consistency of 12 right, 4 wrong should be applauded for its consistency or denounced for its tediousness. Lee on the road over Oakleaf was one of the bigger surprises from Thursday night. It is rare for two district runners-up to meet in the semis. Hagerty took #1 Windermere into OT in arguably the best game of the night while our pick, Palm Beach Lakes at Ely, was a double digit win for the Tigers. Our Fleming Island suspicions proved correct but our Lakeland at Wharton upset potential game fell short.
Best Matchup: Windermere, ranked #1, goes on the road to Melbourne in what should be a very good game. Dakota Rivers vs. Max Fielder is a battle of bigs that isn’t seen often. Also, they are completely different players in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Each has a solid supporting cast and both coaches have proven more than capable on the sidelines over their respective careers.
Best Chance for an Upset: Ranked teams face each other in six of the eight games on Tuesday night. #3 Fleming Island must again go on the road to face Jacksonville Lee while #8 Lakewood Ranch must go on the road to face Riverdale in Fort Myers. Of the two, the Riverdale/Lakewood Ranch appears to be the more competitive game as both are 4-0 against common opponents. That one may be the best chance for an upset.
Lincoln over Tate
Fleming Island over Lee
East Lake over St. Petersburg
Lakewood Ranch over Riverdale
Melbourne over Windermere
Wharton over Freedom
Ely over Forest Hill
Mater Academy over McArthur
What? Another 12-4 finish? Ugghh! Jupiter, Western and North Miami all won on the road. That Western win was mentioned as a best chance for an upset. The best game the night was probably North Miami’s double overtime win over Miramar on the road. Also, Oakridge taken to overtime by a young but talented Sarasota Riverview was a more than a bit of a surprise.
Best Matchup: Osceola, ranked #6, goes on the road to face #4 Vero Beach. Osceola has faced a severely rugged schedule this year and should have no problem facing the chaotic environment that the Vero fans will bring Tuesday night. Tommie Lewis is undervalued as a recruit. He’s capable of taking over games on both ends of the floor. Whoever wins the matchup between Lewis and Josh Marte of Osceola most likely wins the game.
Best Chance for an Upset: Lake Nona is on a roll and could take down #5 Evans whose playoff path has been relatively mild so far.
Seminole over Oviedo
Evans over Lake Nona
Wellington over Jupiter
Western over Cypress Bay
Oakridge over Alonso
Vero Beach over Osceola
North Miami over Pembroke Pines Charter
South Miami over Killian