A bit of a bummer to finish just 5-2 on our predictions for the night. Kudos to Titusville Astronaut for going across the state and beating a young but talented Tampa Catholic team. This give Astronaut a home game against Discovery out of Lake Alfred (near Lakeland) who defeated McKeel in a rematch of the District 11 championship.
The reason our record adds up to only seven games from Tuesday night is that there is still an unresolved regional quarter-final down in Miami. Miami Sunset and Miami Edison did not play their game Thursday night due to a COVID issue. Instead, the two teams play tonight. This winner will face North Miami Beach on Saturday night and then Pine Crest on Monday night to determine who advances to Lakeland from Region Four.
Best Matchup: By the numbers, it should be #9 Lake Highland Prep hosting #10 Alachua Santa Fe. Santa Fe knocked off district foe Eastside, ranked #3, for the third time this season in the regional quarter-final Tuesday night. In fact, the only three games Eastside lost all year were all to Santa Fe. Just a bad matchup apparently. Marianna, ranked #4 in the class, head to #21 West Nassau. Don’t know as much as we’d like about Marianna but it will take a lot for them to contain Dallan Coleman with a trip to Lakeland on the line.
Best Chance for an Upset: Hard to see one in 4A. Feel like Astronaut and Pine Crest are as close to locks as one can get in their respective games. For the other two games, no matter who wins it won’t appear to be an upset.
West Nassau over Marianna
Lake Highland Prep over Santa Fe
Astronaut over Discovery
Pine Crest over Sunset/Edison/North Miami Beach
Things went a bit better in our predictions for 5A. We finished 6-2 as Leesburg pulled out a win on the road at Fivay while Tampa Jesuit got its revenge in a district finals rematch with Blake. We were rewarded for going against our “home team usually wins” policy in picking Choctawhatchee, Lee, and Norland to win on the road. Each was a situation where we felt an established program had an advantage in this particular situation.
Best Matchup: This is really hard to choose. If you like contrasts, then Choctaw vs. Lee is for you. Choctaw is one of the bigger/taller teams in the state while Lee relies on superior guard play. The game would be more interesting if Alex Fudge hadn’t left Lee for LSU after the Christmas break. If you want a game that should be up and down the floor, Rockledge visiting Leesburg is more your style. This will be Rockledge’s first road game of the playoffs and Leesburg can be a tough place to play, even with a gym less than full due to COVID protocols. If you are looking for “an intense slugfest”, then Pines Charter at Norland should please you. This game should be physical and close all the way. You can’t go wrong with any of the three.
Best Chance for an Upset: Jesuit goes on the road to face #1 Naples. Lost in their two road wins is the fact that Jesuit is ranked #18 and is a solid team in it’s own right. Besides, the other three games are really toss ups and only Naples is a heavy favorite to reach Lakeland. Naples plays a unique style, so Jesuit needs to expect the unexpected.
Lee over Choctawhatchee
Leesburg over Rockledge
Naples over Tampa Jesuit
Norland over Pines Charter
(definitely testing out the “home team” theory)