District Upsets: It wasn’t an upset, but Fleming Island dropped from the top seed overall in the classification to the #4 seed in the region after winning its district tournament. Their won-loss record was “adjusted” due game forfeitures relating to the alleged participation of an ineligible player. Crestview’s surprise title in district two effectively bounced Ocala Forest out of the playoffs. In Region Two, Lakeland Kathleen’s ranking was elevated due to Bartow’s district title and they snuck in as an eight seed past Viera. Tampa Gaither out of Region Three shocked several with their district title. That accomplishment essentially keeps Hillsborough home for the season. Not sure how the numbers worked out this way, but Miami Southridge didn’t’ make the regional round after losing to Mater Academy in the district tournament title game. Southridge was ranked #56 in the last regular season calculations but after the district tourney loss, it must have fallen below #62, which allowed Boyd Anderson to grab the eighth and final seed in the region.
Toughest Region: Not surprisingly, Region Four out of South Florida grades out the most challenging. Pembroke Pines Charter, the clear favorite in the classification, is rated #1 while Martin County comes in at #2, St. Thomas Aquinas is #4 and Dwyer is #6. Throw Boyd Anderson and Dillard, a pair of programs that are traditionally tough outs in the post season, and you have a region where any one of several potential winner would not surprise anyone.
Best Opening Matchup: Last year Martin County took its undefeated record to Dillard and won in the Panthers’ Den. This time around #12 Dillard is looking to make amends and bounce the Tigers on the road.
Best Chance for an Upset: We don’t see many “upset alerts” for Thursday night’s games. There are definitely some games where visiting teams with much higher power ratings should be able to take care of business on the road. If you feel a need to take an underdog, look at Sumner on the road at surprising Tampa Gaither or maybe Wekiva out of Orlando heading to the coast to take on Melbourne. Nease, which is rated #9, gets to take a looonnnggg bus ride to play at #25 Crestview. It is a 4 vs 5 game and the records are very similar (19-8 hosting 19-7) but Nease’s strength of schedule is almost three times higher than that of Crestview.
Ponte Vedra over Pensacola Booker T. Washington
Crestview over Nease
Gulf Breeze over Neptune Beach Fletcher
Orange Park Fleming Island over Tallahassee Lincoln
Bartow over Kathleen
Lakeland over Groveland South Lake
Melbourne over Wekiva
Tampa Wharton over Tampa Leto
Immokalee over Palmetto
Bloomingdale over Wiregrass Ranch
Tampa Gaither over Sumner
Pines Charter over Boyd Anderson
St. Thomas Aquinas over Mater Academy
Martin County over Dillard
Dwyer over North Miami
District Upsets: Three of the top four seeds in Region One were upset in their respective district tournaments. Only one, St. John’s Creekside, failed to make it into the regional round. Orlando Oak Ridge went from potential #1 seed to a #5 while Oviedo dropped from a possible #2 seed to the #7 seed. Sandalwood, the district one tournament winner, is the only school to make it in that was unexpected. Tampa Plant’s early exit from the District 6 tourney and Alonso’s title combined to eliminate Plant from the playoffs in Region Two. Lake Worth would have been the #1 seed in Region Three but lost to Wellington in the district tournament. The Trojans are now #5. Fort Pierce Central’s run to the district final evidently elevated their ranking to pass up Stoneman Douglas. In Region Four, West Broward’s run to the District 14 tournament title effectively bounced Cooper City, Miami Southwest, and Davie Western as all had top eight power rankings in the region before heading into their respective district tournaments.
Toughest Region: In Region 2, #1 Orlando Dr. Phillips, #3 Orlando Olympia, and #4 Windermere are all battling for the same spot in Lakeland. Windermere may have the “easier” path as the Wolverines would only have to take on EITHER DP or Olympia. Those two are headed for a re-match in the semis and the winner will most likely get Windermere in the final.
Best Opening Matchup: Port St. Lucie Centennial is the highest scoring team in 7A at 74 points a contest. Forest Hill out of West Palme Beach in #5 in that category, at 70.4 ppg. It will be interesting to see if either or both reach their respecting averages on Thursday night.
Best Chance for an Upset: There are a couple of potential surprises in this classification, especially in Central Florida. Oviedo, Apopka, and Orlando Evans all have realistic shots to win on the road. Down in Sarasota, Riverview needs to take Sickles out of Tampa very seriously.
Lake Brantley over Oviedo
Orlando Oak Ridge over Jacksonville Sandalwood
Sanford Seminole over Apopka
Orlando Evans over DeLand
Orlando Olympia over Plant City
Orlando Dr. Phillips over Newsome
Sarasota Riverview over Tampa Sickles
Windermere over Tampa Alonso
Port St. Lucie Centennial over West Palm Beach Forest Hill
Lake Worth over Coral Springs
Kissimmee Osceola over Fort Pierce Central
Wellington over Palm Beach Central
Miami Columbus over Pembroke Pines Flanagan
Miami High over West Broward
Cypress Bay over Coral Gables
Palmetto over Doral Academy