Monday, October 27, 2014

The regular season is over...

I finally got to see Loyola this weekend.
...and I ended up watching ten games in nine weeks. I was able to see 14 teams compete, of which 12 ended up in the playoffs. (St. Patrick and Naperville North didn't make the cut.)

Now, before I get to how I would rank them it's worth mentioning that, as my British friend Jamie would say, it's a mug's game. And by that I mean, comparing teams -- especially ones that haven't even played each other -- is a silly thing to do. As I wrote last week, even head-to-head matchups don't always settle things, but -- darn it! -- we humans love answers. (It's comforting to think that the universe has order; the alternative makes us nervous.) So here are the latest news services' rankings followed by my own.


1. Providence (8-1)
2. Stevenson (9-0)
3. Loyola (7-2)
4. Glenbard West (9-0)
5. Nazareth (9-0)
6. Cary-Grove (9-0)
7. Sacred Heart-Griffin (9-0)
8. Joliet Catholic (7-2)
9. Maine South (9-0)
10. Brother Rice (6-3)
11. Edwardsville (8-1)
12. Waubonsie Valley (8-1)

Chicago Tribune

1. Stevenson (9-0)
2. Glenbard West (9-0)
3. Cary-Grove (9-0)
4. Maine South (9-0)
5. Providence (8-1)
6. Nazareth (9-0)
7. Lincoln-Way East (8-1)
8. Loyola (7-2)
9. Brother Rice (6-3)
10. Batavia (8-1)
11. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2)
12. Richards (8-1)


1. Stevenson (9-0)
2. Glenbard West (9-0)
3. Cary-Grove (9-0)
4. Maine South (9-0)
5. Nazareth (9-0)
6. Lincoln-Way East (8-1)
7. Providence (8-1)
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2)
9. Batavia (8-1)
10. Naperville Central (7-2)
11. Brother Rice (6-3)
12. Simeon (8-1)


1. Providence (8-1)

I still say the Celtics are the best team I've seen this year. The No. 1-seed New Lenox squad opens up the 7A playoffs against No. 16 Quincy (5-4) -- whoever that is -- before a possible rematch with St. Rita in Round Two.

2. Glenbard West (9-0) 

I have to rank these guys No. 2 since everybody else thinks they're so good. The No. 2-seed Hilltoppers open up in 8A (for the first time?) against No. 5 Fremd (6-3) before a second-round matchup with either Huntley or Palatine. But in Round Three the Hitters could face undefeated Maine South, which would be REALLY interesting.

3. Brother Rice (6-3)

The Crusaders are probably the second-best team in a stacked Catholic League Blue. The No. 5-seed South Siders open up at No. 4 Naperville Central (7-2) in what will almost certainly be my Game of the Week. Representatives from two of the best conferences in Illinois are going at it? And one of them is the defending 8A champ? I'm THERE.

4. Lincoln-Way East (8-1)

After an opening season loss to Oak Park and River Forest (which I saw), the Griffins settled down and "took care of business," as they say. The No. 2-seed Frankfort squad will open up against -- oh, no! -- No. 15 Lincoln-Way Central (5-4). (Doesn't anybody out there have any imagination when naming schools?) Lincoln-Way East may be on a collision course with Mount Carmel in Round Three.

5. Loyola (7-2)

Even though the Ramblers lost to Mount Carmel on Friday night, they still had the better season. (These guys knocked off Providence, for crying out loud!) Loyola has a really tough road in the playoffs, though. The No. 8-seed Wilmette squad has to get past a -- very -- underrated Warren (7-2) team before they get a chance to ruin Stevenson's perfect season. Ramblers are a bit of a dark horse this year.

6. Mount Carmel (5-4)

The Caravan finished strong, defeating Loyola on Friday night. The No. 14 Woodlawn squad has to first get past last year's Class 6A champs, No. 3-seed Batavia (8-1), which is no easy task. But I think Carmel will find a way; I just can't let go of a possible third-round matchup with Lincoln-Way East.

7. Nazareth (9-0)

How can I rank an undefeated team so low? It's hard, but I just can't see these guys beating either Loyola or Mount Carmel. Am I wrong? Maybe. The Roadrunners are the No. 1 seed in 6A but have to play No. 16 Boylan (5-4) in Round One. Titans coach John Cacciatore (sounds like he's from my neighborhood) has been around the playoffs before, having guided Boylan to a pair of one-loss seasons the last two years. (And in 2010, under Dan Appino, the Titans went undefeated and won the whole shebang!) If Naz doesn't stumble in the first round, they could go deep, maybe even all the way to Champaign.

8. (Tie) St. Rita (6-3) and Oak Park and River Forest (7-2)

I really, really LIKE these two teams. No. 9 St. Rita has to play No. 8 Plainfield East (7-2) -- who? -- before a rematch with Providence in Round Two. 

The No. 11 Huskies, meanwhile, may have the toughest bracket of all: No. 6 Barrington (8-1) followed by Maine South. And if they get past those two John Hoerster's squad has to play Glenbard West again. (Who made up these brackets?) 

I'm pulling for these two teams but it's going to be awfully, awfully hard.

10. Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4)

The Tigers jumped up a few notches with that thrilling victory at Naperville Central on Friday night. One thing you don't want to do in the postseason is face a Ron Muhitch-coached team. (I've made the mistake -- many times -- of underestimating these guys. Don't let it happen to you!) Red Grange's alma mater, which is a No. 13 seed, will face a No. 4 Lincoln-Way North (8-1) squad in Round One. (Oh, no, another "Lincoln-Way" team.) I'll say the Tigers upset the Phoenix (the PHOENIX?) and advance to an eventual third round matchup with Providence. If so, you can be sure I'll be there! 

11. (Tie) Carmel (6-3) and Phillips (8-1) 

Ya gotta love both these teams. Carmel used to be a powerhouse around these parts. I don't know what happened to them, but the Corsairs are returning to the playoffs after a two-year drought. As a No. 10 seed, the Mundelein squad will play No. 7 Harlem (7-2) in Round One. I'll say Carmel sneaks into a Round Three contest with Cary-Grove to end their season. (But wouldn't it be cool to see a Carmel - Mount Carmel final in 7A?)

As for Phillips, the Public League squad has one of the most exciting offenses in the state. Seeded No. 5 in 4A, the Wildcats will play No. 12 Plano (6-3) in Round One. (The only thing I know about Plano is that it's the home of the Farnsworth House, above, an interesting structure designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. But that won't help them win football games!) After dispatching of the Reapers, Phillips may have to travel to No. 4 Johnsburg (8-1). If they do, I'll be there to watch.

The dates and times of first-round games should be announced by 3:00 today. I have my alarm set; do you?

No comments: