Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The politics of basketball sectionals

The pairings for this year's Class AA men's basketball tournament in Section II have been announced. Political favoritism reared its head, as the top two seeds come from the Suburban Council's Blue Division.

Division champion Saratoga has the league's best mark at 18-2 overall. Shenendehowa, which finished 16-4 overall, gets the #2 seed ahead of Gray division champion CBA (17-3), when it should be the other way around. Rightfully, the division champions should be seeded 1-2. The two AA teams in the Colonial Council, LaSalle & Catholic Central, are both in the bottom half of the bracket. The Crusaders will be fed to old rival CBA in the first round, while LaSalle, which has skidded in the second half of the season, must travel as the #9 seed to #8 Ballston Spa next week. CCHS, by the way, is seeded 14th.

Troy High, which finished 2nd in the Gray division for the 2nd straight season (13-7), is the #5 seed, and will host #12 Guilderland, a team they've beaten already this season, next week. Here's how the brackets break down:

1. Saratoga-bye.
2. Shen-bye.
3. CBA v. 14. CCHS.
4. Colonie vs. 13. Albany.
5. Troy vs. 12. Guilderland.
6. Bethlehem vs. 11. Columbia.
7. Shaker vs. 10. Green Tech.
8. Ballston Spa vs. 9. LaSalle.

Green Tech plays an independent schedule, not bound to any league, and, remember, they won their only Section II title 4 years ago.

If you're a LaSalle fan, you're asking why the Cadets have a low seed. LaSalle finished 2nd behind Schalmont in its division in the Colonial Council. They have a better overall record than Ballston Spa, so the seeding should be reversed. It comes down to politics, pure & simple. Why that is, I don't know.

As it is, not all of the Suburban Council's AA teams are entered in the tournament, as Niskayuna and Schenectady declined to accept bids. Albany had a worse record, but they're in. Schenectady won't be in the women's sectionals, either. Speaking of which, the pairings are as follows:

1. Shen-bye.
2. Colonie-bye.
3. Shaker-bye.
4. Bethlehem vs. 5. Saratoga-February 21.
6. Catholic Central vs. 11. Troy
7. Albany vs. 10. Guilderland.
8. Columbia vs. 9. Niskayuna.

Projections for Troy: The girls will end their season on a downer as they renew a long standing city rivalry with Catholic Central on Friday. I can't see them beating CCHS, but if they were to pull the upset, another meeting with Shaker would be next. As for the boys, they have to avoid repeating a 1st round fade-out, as Guilderland will be looking for an upset, just like Albany last year. The Falcons won't have that luxury this time, as they'll be sent packing by Colonie. If Troy beats Guilderland, they'd get another shot at knocking a monkey off their collective backs, as the Flying Horses have never beaten Colonie in boys' regular season meetings since joining the Suburban Council in 2015.

In addition to Schenectady, Ballston Spa will not have their women in the tournament. Mohonasen, Averill Park, & Burnt Hills would be in the Class A tournaments.

Projections for the first round:



CCHS over Troy.
Albany over Guilderland.
Columbia over Nisky.

Next Wednesday:

Shen over Columbia.
Colonie over Albany.
Catholic Central upsets Shaker.
Saratoga upsets Bethlehem.


Next Wednesday:

CBA over CCHS.
Colonie over Albany.
Troy over Guilderland.
Bethlehem over Columbia.
Green Tech upsets Shaker.
LaSalle over Ballston Spa.

Boys' quarterfinal pairings, assuming those projections are accurate (to be played Feb. 24 at Hudson Valley Community College):

Saratoga vs. LaSalle.
Shen vs. Green Tech.
CBA vs. Bethlehem.
Colonie vs. Troy.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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