First Round Region Previews: Class 1A thru 3A

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The various district tournaments are over and the fields for the regional rounds in each classification are set.  Time to take a look at what took place and what lies ahead this coming Thursday.

CLASS 1A

District Upsets: In District 2, both Blountstown and Graceville took out higher-ranked district foes to move onto the regional round.  Baker, ranked #7, was taken down in the district tournament by Chipley in a bit of a shocker.  Other than that, there were really no surprises.

Toughest Region:  Region 3 has three of the top five and four of the top ten teams in Class 1A all vying for a spot in Lakeland.  Because of the limited geography of Class 1A, this would be a good place to experiment with taking all sixteen teams and seeding them one through sixteen and running the Class 1A tournament that way.  That would ensure the better teams reach the Final Four.

Best Opening Matchup: District 6 runner-up Hilliard goes on the road to take on #3 and pre-season favorite Madison County.  Aside from the team match-ups, two of the best players in the classification, 6’5 junior Jacob Crews of Hilliard and 6’2 senior Travis Jay of Madison County, will look to get votes for Mr. Basketball.

Best Chance for an Upset: As previously mentioned, #7 Baker has to go on the road to face the District 4 winner.  No matter the classification, road games are tough.  Still, Baker will be the higher ranked team going into the contest.

Our Picks:

Paxton over Blountstown

Graceville over Poplar Springs

Madison County over Hilliard

Hawthorne over Hamilton County

Chipley over District Four runner-up

Baker over District Four winner

Bell over Pahokee

Wildwood over Chiefland

CLASS 2A

District Upsets: There were no true upsets in Class 2A this year.  Lake Wales Vanguard, ranked #6, was in the same district as #3 Central Florida Christian Academy and #4 Lakeland Victory Christian. One of those three was going to be left out when the dust settled.

Toughest Region: Region 2 has four teams ranked from seven to twelve.  As close as those teams are in ranking, it won’t be a surprise no matter what team gets to Lakeland.

Best Opening Matchup: Ormond Beach Calvary Christian, ranked ninth, goes on the road to Bayshore Christian in Tampa, who is ranked twelfth.  Calvary Christian has a higher strength of schedule rating so it will be interesting to see if that has them better prepared to take on a tough opponent on the road.

Best Chance for an Upset:  Looking over the schedule of games for Thursday night, there isn’t really a contest that jumps out where a home team should be concerned or a higher ranked team on the road faces a challenge.  Expect that status quo to remain after all the games have been completed.

One thing to note: Six of the eight games in this round are repeats from last year.  The average score in those games last season was 71-36.  Don’t expect to see much difference this year.

Our Picks:

Crossroad Academy over Beaches Chapel

Impact Christian Academy over Aucilla Christian

Central Florida Christian Academy vs. Vero Beach The Master’s Academy

Lakeland Victory Christian over Florida Prep

North Florida Educational Institute over St. John Lutheran

Bayshore Christian over Calvary Christian

Grandview Prep over Schoolhouse Prep

Miami Christian over Atlantic Christian

CLASS 3A

District Upsets:  Only one upset of note and that was #4 Evangelical Christian of Fort Myers getting knocked out in the semis of the District 6 tournament.  Still, #6 Naples First Baptist Academy and #9 Fort Myers Canterbury came out of that district, so a top ten team had to fall.  Still a bit surprised for it to be the top seed.

Toughest Region: We go with Region 1 as all four teams are ranked.  While Region 4 does have numbers 2, 5, and 8, the presence of non-top 25 Hebrew Academy weakens that portion of the bracket a bit.

Best Opening Matchup: #8 Village Academy heads to #2 Champagnat in a matchup of top ten teams.  With similar records, this should be a very competitive contest.

Best Chance of an Upset: There are three games where a higher-ranked team has to go on the road.  Of those three, we think Jacksonville Christ’s Church has the best chance of winning at home.  It’s a long ride for Pensacola Christian to make on a Thursday and it will take a while to regain their legs after that long of a journey.

Our Picks:

St. John Paull II over Lake Mary Prep

Christ’s Church Academy over Pensacola Christian

Fort Myers Canterbury over Saint Stephen’s Episcopal

First Baptist Academy over Community Christian

Orlando Christian Prep over Academy at the Lakes

Mount Dora Christian over St. Petersburg Canterbury

Jupiter Christian over Hebrew Academy

Champagnat over Village Academy