The FHSAA released its first rankings for boys’ basketball on January 4th. While the rankings will no doubt change as the season progresses, it is interesting to take an initial look at how the state playoffs might shake out based on “the numbers”. We’ll assume for now that the top ranked team in each district will be the district winner and that non-district winners with the highest ranking will fill in the remaining playoff spots in each region.
Region 1: Pensacola Washington (D1 winner); Tallahassee Lincoln (D2 winner); Orange Park Fleming Island (D3 winner); Ponte Vedra (D4 winner); Neptune Beach Fletcher (At-Large #1); Ponte Vedra Nease (At-Large #2); Gulf Breeze (At-Large #3); St. Augustine (At-Large #4)
No real surprises in this group. Lake City Columbia should make a run now that the football players are back. Fleming Island has been very impressive to this point in the season.
Region 2: Orlando Edgewater (D5 winner); Groveland South Lake (D6 winner); Winter Haven (D7 winner); Melbourne (D8 winner); Lakeland (At-Large #1); Bartow (At-Large #2); Viera (At-Large #3); Clermont East Ridge (At-Large #4)
Just as expected, District Seven is tough, tough, tough. It just feels like Winter Haven and Lakeland are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams mentioned. It won’t surprise if Lakeland Kathleen gets into the playoffs.
Region 3: Tampa Leto (D9 winner); Tampa Wharton (D10 winner); Palmetto (D11 winner); Immokalee (D12 winner); Valrico Bloomingdale (At-Large #1); Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch (At-Large #2); Riverview Sumner (At-Large #3); Dover Strawberry Crest (At-Large #4)
We wish everyone of these teams the best but there really isn’t any buzz here.
Region 4: Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer (D13 winner); Pembroke Pines Charter (D14 winner); North Miami (D15 winner); Miami Southridge (D16 winner); Stuart Martin County (At-Large #1); Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (At-Large #2); Fort Lauderdale Dillard (At-Large #3); Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson (At-Large #4)
There’s buzz here! We really like the competitiveness of this region. Eight of the top eighteen teams in the classification reside here. There is lots of star power as well as traditionally strong programs. Pines Charter holds the inside track.
Region 1: St. John’s Creekside (D1 winner); DeLand (D2 winner); Oviedo (D3 winner); Apopka (D4 winner); Orlando Oak Ridge (At-Large #1); Orlando Evans (At-Large #2); Winter Park (At-Large #3); Altamonte Springs Lake Brantley (At-Large #4)
It is a bit surprising to see Apopka and not Oak Ridge in the top spot. It is also surprising to see Sanford Seminole on the outside looking in behind Oviedo and Winter Park. Hard not to think they will get past at least one of those two. Four teams from District Four are in the playoff hunt. Creekside is only #12 overall in the region but is currently rated at the top of its district.
Region 2: Orlando Dr. Phillips (D5 winner); Tampa Alonso (D6 winner); Plant City (D7 winner); Sarasota Riverview (D8 winner); Orlando Olympia (At-Large #1); Windermere (At-Large #2); Bradenton Lakewood Ranch (At-Large #3); Tarpon Springs East Lake (At-Large #4)
Three of the top four teams in the classification are here in DP, Olympia, and Windermere. Any of those three teams are a legit threat to win it all in Lakeland. The first batch of rankings reveals no surprises. Come playoff time, there won’t be any easy outs if this group holds up.
Region 3: Kissimmee Osceola (D9 winner); West Palm Beach Palm Beach Lakes (D10 winner); Wellington (D11 winner); Coral Springs (D12 winner); Lake Worth (At-Large #1); Wellington Palm Beach Central (At-Large #2); Port St. Lucie Centennial (At-Large #3); Deerfield Beach (At-Large #4)
This group is bunched, as all are ranked between eight and twenty-eight. It won’t a surprise if there is a lot of movement, especially in District Eleven among Wellington, Lake Worth, and Palm Beach Central.
Region 4: Weston Cypress Bay (D13 winner); Cooper City (D14 winner); Miami Columbus (D15 winner); Miami Palmetto (D16 winner); Miami High (At-Large #1); Doral Academy (At-Large #2); Davie Western (At-Large #3); Miami Southwest (At-Large #4)
Columbus is rated the #1 overall team in the state that will play in the playoffs. That is very surprising given the team’s reliance on freshmen and sophomores. Otherwise, there really are no surprises “down south”.