We are about a week and a half away from the seeding meetings for high school boys' basketball, so here's my look at how area teams could end up seeded. This isn't a power ranking; it's based on how the WIAA offers criteria for seeding. Coaches comments, head-to-head matchups, common opponents, place in the conference standings, strength of schedule, overall record, and special factors (like an injury to a top player) are all the considered criteria based on the WIAA Tournament seeding procedure.
Here's last week's best guesses.
Here we go, our fourth boys' basketball regional rankings:
Division 1 - Sectional 3 (Sun Prairie)
The Sun Prairie-Madison Memorial game tonight looms large (we'll have it on The Big 1070). La Follette vs Middleton is an interesting game on Saturday. Waunakee seeks revenge--and a conference title--when they play Mount Horeb on Tuesday. Mukwonago has a tough pair of games this week, as they try to hold on to first place in the Classic Eight. Janesville Craig and Madison Memorial square off on Saturday. Verona plays both East and La Follette this week.
#1 ↔ Sun Prairie 16-1 - They'll play Madison Memorial in a colossal Thursday night match-up tonight, our Madison Taxi Game of the Week. It seems unlikely that Sun Prairie will fall off the one-seed line regardless of the outcome of that game. Their lone loss of the year is to Madison Memorial, however, and if the Spartans sweep and win out, there might be some debate atop the sectional. The Cardinals will also play Madison West on Saturday.
#2 ↔ Madison Memorial 14-4 - Thursday's Madison Taxi Game of the Week against Sun Prairie on The Big 1070 will be huge. The Spartans have lost back-to-back games to East and La Follette, but a season sweep of the Cardinals would get them right back on track--and keep them in the hunt for a conference title. A loss would almost certainly end a 14-year streak of conference titles. Janesville Craig awaits on Saturday, and the Cougars have proven to be able to hang with the upper-level teams in the Big Eight.
#3 ↔ Madison La Follette 15-3 - For now I keep La Follette behind Memorial, because the teams split their season series, while Memorial has already defeated Sun Prairie this year. La Follette will be 0-1 against Sun Prairie heading into the seeding meetings because they will play on February 22. That's not to say it can't change between here and there. La Follette has a difficult final four games, which includes a rematch with Madison East on February 16, which we will have on The Big 1070 on February 16. This week, La Follette plays Verona tonight and Middleton on Saturday, both solid teams.
#4 ↔ Waunakee 16-2 - Waunakee will have a chance to avenge their only conference loss of the season on Tuesday when they play Mount Horeb. I keep Waunakee slightly behind Memorial and La Follette here based on strength of schedule, where the Big 8 gets the benefit of playing against the other teams in the conference (and primarily D1 opponents). Waunakee is 3-0 against D1 opponents this year, but has played a mostly D2 schedule (which isn't really their fault). Waunakee hosts last-place Baraboo tomorrow night before Tuesday's showdown with Mount Horeb. Really the goal is to hold on to a top-four spot since the final four teams in this sectional play on neutral sites for the final two games, so they wouldn't have to visit a hostile environment.
#5 ↔ Mukwonago 14-3 - Revenge against Waukesha North came this past week, and Mukwonago also topped Muskego to kick off their four-game road trip. It ratchets up a notch with Kettle Moraine tomorrow night and Arrowhead on Tuesday, both within 1.5 games of Mukwonago in the Classic Eight standings. Depending on what happens between Madison Memorial and Madison La Follette the rest of the way, if Mukwonago can go into the seeding meetings still in first place, it will be hard to keep them out of a top-four seed.
#6 ⬆ Middleton 10-8 - Middleton obliterated Verona for the second time this season, and in the middle of the Big 8, it's the Cardinals and Madison East with eight victories in conference play this season. The edge here goes to Middleton based on head-to-head. East and Middleton meet the second time after the seeding meetings, so Middleton will be 1-0 against East heading in. After tonight's game with Parker, they'll have a huge showdown Saturday with La Follette.
#7 ⬆ Madison East 9-6 - The Purgolders picked up big wins over Madison Memorial and Milwaukee Hamilton, and have a better overall record than Middleton. However, for the moment, I am keeping things as they are based on the head-to-head (Middleton beat East). Before East plays La Follette on February 16, which we will air on The Big 1070, East will play West tonight and Verona Saturday. The Purgolders go for the season sweep in each series.
#8 ⬆ Janesville Craig 9-9 - Two wins, including a nail-biter Tuesday night against Burlington, have the Cougars primed for a solid finish. Tonight they'll get Beloit Memorial, but on Saturday they'll have to face off with Madison Memorial. A win over Memorial (currently on a two-game losing streak) on Saturday would solidify their position for a home regional game.
#9 ⬇ Kenosha Bradford 11-7 - Franklin exacted revenge on Bradford last week, but Bradford rebounded nicely with a win over Racine Park to stay in second place in the Southeast Conference. Their final three games are against teams in the bottom half of the conference standings, ahead of the seeding meetings. This is the part of the seeding order I start losing confidence in how things will play out--the top five seem pretty locked in, but I feel like Bradford could slot in anywhere between 6 and 9. Their best win is Franklin, but they also lost to Burlington. This is a hard team to slot in.
#10 ↔ Verona 9-9 - A couple of losses won't affect much in the way of standings here this week, but there is little room left for Verona to lose any more games and move them up the pecking order. They'll play a streaking East team tonight, and La Follette awaits them Saturday. Verona is oh-fer against teams currently higher than them in the Big 8 standings. If Verona wants in on a home game in the regionals, the next three days will be huge towards that effort.
#11 ↔ Oconomowoc 8-10 - Oconomowoc took care of Watertown, but that more or less holds them in place here. They are currently sixth in the Classic Eight. For comparison's sake, they lost to D3 Edgewood, split with Arrowhead, and lost to Mukwonago in this sectional--although they still play Mukwonago in one week. A win there would jumble them more towards the middle. Their other two remaining games in conference play before the seeding meetings are against teams with a combined 3-22 conference record, the first of which is Tuesday against Catholic Memorial.
#12 ↔ Kenosha Tremper 6-10 - Tremper was on the rise, but a pair of losses this past week to good competition holds them here at the moment. Oak Creek and Badger are up next, teams that are struggling this season, to wrap up this week. Tremper will play a solid Racine Park squad on Tuesday. Tremper split with Indian Trail, but lost twice to Bradford. Their one-point win over Burlington is a big boost in the non-conference win department.
#13 ⬆ Kenosha Indian Trail 6-11 - The past week went as expected, beating Oak Creek but losing to Franklin, as those teams are on opposite ends of the Southeast Conference standings. Two of their next three games are against teams in the upper half of the standings in league play, including a game against Kenosha Bradford tomorrow night. Indian Trail owns a win over Tremper this season, splitting the season series.
#14 ⬆ Watertown 7-11 - The Goslings have gone 1-2 against D1 competition this year, with losses to Hamilton and Waunakee, but a win over Parker. A big loss to Oconomowoc and a narrow loss to Lake Mills is sandwiched around a victory over Fort Atkinson. They'll get Oregon tomorrow night and winless (in conference play) Milton on Tuesday. Watertown has defeated Parker this season, but owns no wins against a team with a winning record.
#15 ⬇ Beloit Memorial 4-13 - Their losing streak is now up to five games, with a good Craig team as the opponent tonight. They'll get the other Janesville school (Parker) on Saturday, and make up a game Tuesday night against Madison East. If Beloit wins out there's a chance they could slot higher than, say, Verona, but it's looking more and more like the Purple Knights will be road warriors in the playoffs. A win over Craig earlier this season is their best victory.
#16 ↔ Madison West 2-16 - Their 1-0 record against Parker will probably keep them one spot above the Vikings until or unless Parker picks up another win to move them ahead, since West and Parker meet for the rematch after seeding meetings. This week, West battles East tonight, then gets Sun Prairie on Saturday. West also owns a win over Milwaukee King, currently third in their conference.
#17 ↔ Janesville Parker 2-16 - Parker gets Middleton tonight and Beloit on Saturday. It will take an upset or two to move up out of the play-in regional round. Parker does own their lone conference win over Beloit.
#18 ↔ Badger 3-14 - An opportunity awaits Saturday when Badger gets Tremper, to move up the standings here. Tonight, Badger plays Westosha Central, and on Tuesday, they'll get Wilmot.
Division 2 - Sectional 3 (Oregon) - Semifinal (Sun Prairie)
Mount Horeb looks for revenge on Friday night against Beaver Dam, before they face Waunakee on Tuesday with a share of the conference title on the line. Sauk Prairie and Portage tangle tomorrow night as two of the four teams tied at 5-5 in the Badger North, followed by Sauk Prairie and Beaver Dam on Tuesday as another one of those match-ups.
#1 ↔ Monona Grove 17-1 - The Badger South has become a two-team race, and it may not be decided until after the seeding meetings. Monona Grove's one loss is to Stoughton, who they will play February 22 on The Big 1070. In the meantime, they'll play three teams in a row with a losing record, beginning tomorrow night with Edgewood and continuing Tuesday against Oregon, who battled Monona Grove to an eight-point game on January 4th. It's hard to see a game they wouldn't be favored in until the 22nd.
#2 ↔ Stoughton 12-5 - This is a very important week for Stoughton. First, they'll play Monroe, currently three games back of the Vikings in third place in the Badger South, and then a game against a very good D3 Brown Deer team in the John Chekouras Classic in Mequon the very next day. Brown Deer racks up points like you wouldn't believe and has lost twice this year--to D1 Marquette and a split with Whitnall. Stoughton's "worst" loss would probably be to Beaver Dam, but Beaver Dam has beaten Mount Horeb and DeForest, too. Losing to La Crosse Central, Waunakee, Kettle Moraine, or Minnehaha Academy isn't really a detriment since those are good teams, but they'll have a tough stretch this week again and at some point the tough schedule won't be a boon. Stoughton also plays Fort Atkinson on Tuesday. I'm holding Stoughton one spot up here since they are leading the Badger South, and you can certainly call the loss of your leading scorer a special circumstance when it comes to seeding.
#3 ↔ Mount Horeb 15-3 - Winners of eight of their last nine games, the Vikings have a tough schedule the rest of the way. Beaver Dam currently owns a 1-0 record on Mount Horeb, as does DeForest. They'll see Beaver Dam tomorrow night and DeForest a week from tomorrow night. Inbetween, the Vikings will face Waunakee with conference title implications on the line. Mount Horeb's best win of the year is a victory over Waunakee in January. Mount Horeb also had a three-point loss to Monona Grove. Mount Horeb does have some nice non-conference wins (such as Platteville, Janesville Craig, and Marinette). Let's see how things stand in a week after two difficult games for each of these teams #2 and #3 since there's a great argument for either team.
#4 ↔ DeForest 11-6 - Despite a 5-5 conference record, DeForest has wins over Sauk Prairie and Mount Horeb, as well as Monroe, Beaver Dam, and D1 Janesville Craig. A decent win over Lodi sets them up for a busy week, with Reedsburg tomorrow night before a game at Lakeside Lutheran, a game behind Lodi in the Capitol North, on Saturday. Tuesday, the'll host Portage. A week from tomorrow is a tough road game at Mount Horeb in a try for a season sweep, before wrapping up the season after the seeding meetings with a contest against Waunakee. DeForest is part of a four-way tie for third place in the Badger North, and 2-3 against the other teams they are tied with (Sauk Prairie, Beaver Dam, and Portage).
#5 ↔ Sauk Prairie 10-7 - For comparison's sake, they have a win over D1 Watertown. There's non-conference wins over decent squads from Lake Mills, River Valley, Aquinas, and a victory over Beaver Dam in Badger North play. Against the other teams they are tied with in conference play (Beaver Dam, Portage, and DeForest), Sauk Prairie is 3-1, with a rematch with Portage coming up tomorrow night and Beaver Dam on Tuesday, both teams that they have beaten earlier. The Eagles have lost four in a row, and inbetween those big conference rematches is Capitol North-leading Lodi on Saturday.
#6 ↔ Monroe 11-6 - It doesn't get easier for the Cheesemakers tomorrow night, when they will meet Stoughton, but it's an opportunity to make a big leap in the seeding proceedings if they can hand the Vikigns a loss. Monroe plays Edgewood on Tuesday. Sweeping Oregon will ensure that Monroe will at least start the playoffs at home.
#7 ↔ Reedsburg 9-9 - They have only a 3-7 record in conference play, but one of those wins is against DeForest, and they also just topped Portage to split the season series. They will finish 0-1 prior to seeding meetings against Sauk Prairie. There are some difficult games coming up, including Friday at DeForest to go for a season sweep and Tuesday at last-place Baraboo. They'll also see Beaver Dam a week from tomorrow.
#8 ⬆ Oregon 8-10 - It's go time for the Panthers. After tomorrow night's game at Watertown, who they are tied with for fourth place in the conference standings, they'll have back-to-back dates with the conference leaders, Monona Grove and Stoughton. An upset of one of those latter two would only add to the craziness of this very balanced pod. Oregon is certainly capable of an upset.
#9 ⬇ McFarland 13-5 - They're second in the Rock Valley, which won't get them much in this grouping of Badger Conference teams. They'll have games against the bottom half of the Rock Valley between now and the seeding meeting, so they may roll in with a sterling 16-5 record to those meetings. However, since they are only allowed four non-conference games, it's hard for McFarland to pick up some big wins to help in arguing for higher seeding. They took on three Badger South teams and went 0-3 against Monona Grove, Stoughton, and Edgewood, the last of which probably the most damaging to their arguments here. Much of the Rock Valley is smaller schools as well, so even if they win the conference, the combination of Badger schools and the 0-3 record against them will probably drop them to a spot much lower than you'd expect for a team second in their league. McFarland is good, I've seen them, but I've also seen how the bigger Rock Valley schools get slotted in seeding meetings in other sports when they are on an island. On the other hand, 16 (potentially) wins is a ton, and that might get them into a home game.
#10 ↔ Portage 6-11 - Losses to Edgewood, Monroe, and Lodi have Portage slotted here for now, but they are still in position for a short run up the standings if they could top Sauk Prairie tomorrow night or DeForest on Tuesday. Portage does own the requisite victory over Beaver Dam as many of the middle-of-the-Badger North teams own.
#11 ↔ Baraboo 4-14 - It'll take a fairly significant losing streak by Oregon or Portage for Baraboo to get out of the last slot here, I think. They are three games behind Reedsburg in the standings in last place, and have the lowest overall win total in this grouping.
Edgewood: In an interesting spot because of the other teams in their grouping. Edgewood has played a tough schedule like always. The five SWC teams will certainly argue for their champs or co-champs. A few Capitol conference squads and a group of Rock Valley teams round out this sectional. Edgewood record-wise is in the bottom half of all the teams in this grouping, near the middle of the pack, but it would be interesting if they received a low-single-digit seed based on that. They've only got Badger South games left, but most of their schedule has been against D2 and D1 teams.
Capitol (as a whole): The Oregon sectional semifinal in D3 above seems pretty cut-and-dry, but the real action starts on the Fort Atkinson side. Lake Mills and Lakeside Lutheran are in a pretty impressive grouping, with a good deal of the upper half of the Rock Valley and teams from southeastern Wisconsin. I imagine those two teams will be in the higher part of the seedings when it all plays out. In Division 4, New Glarus has already played in a classic with Mineral Point in what could be a sectional final preview. Wisconsin Heights is in the same grouping with the Pointers, and their sectional semifinal stretches from La Crosse all the way to the state line.
Rock Valley (as a whole): East Troy, Edgerton, and Turner all have chances at hosting through at least a couple of games. McFarland is in a tough D2 bracket, so they may be on the road faster than the rest of the teams in the conference even if they win the RVC. No easy roads for anyone in this conference.