The class rankings have all been updated and there will be just one more rankings update next Monday prior to the start of postseason play. Here are the updated rankings in each class as well as the All-Class Top 25.…
The class rankings have all been updated and there will be just one more rankings update next Monday prior to the start of postseason play. Here are the updated rankings in each class as well as the All-Class Top 25.
OK, so now let’s focus our attention on the rankings that really matter this time of the year – the NSAA wild card rankings. Only matches through tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 24) count into the NSAA wild card points for district seeding.
Seeding for wild cards, substate rounds and the state tournament are based on all matches up until that point. So, matches after Tuesday still count in the big picture, but not for seeding the district tournaments.
As best as I can figure – and I cheated off a lot of people to get me through math classes – the top seven seeds (and district hosts) are pretty much set. Omaha Marian, Lincoln Southwest, Papillion-LaVista, Millard West, Papillion-LaVista South, Lincoln Pius X and Millard North should be the top seven seeds and host district tournaments – barring something totally unseen.
The order of those top seven, however, could still fluctuate. Omaha Marian is locked in as the #1 seed – period. As long as Lincoln Southwest avoids a major upset in the Heartland Athletic Conference tournament on Tuesday, the Silver Hawks should be locked in at #2. As of today, the margin between Papio (43.9355), Millard West (43.8889) and Papio South (43.7879) is paper thin.
As best I can figure, Papio seems safe at the #3 spot. For Millard West to hold off Papio South for the #4 seed, however, the Wildcats need some help from Fremont. Fremont is currently sitting at 7-21 on the season – or right on the edge of being a Tier 3 or Tier 4 team. With two games in the Heartland Athletic Conference tournament on Tuesday, Fremont could fall to a Tier 4 team with two losses. If the Tigers do drop both matches and drop to a Tier 4 team, that hurts Millard West and would actually drop them just behind Papio South in wild card points, giving the Titans the #4 seed and Millard West the #5.
Why would it be important if Millard West is the #4 or #5 seed at districts? Well, in the big picture, it might not. But, unless Grand Island pulls off an upset in the HAC tourney on Tuesday, the opponent for the #5 seed is likely to be Millard South. Even though it feels like forever ago now, Millard South did knock off the Wildcats on their home court in mid-September.
Speaking of the Millard South win over Millard West earlier this year, that’s the only time a team outside of the top seven seeds in Class A beat one of the top seven seeds during the regular season.
Pius X at #6 and Millard North at #7 are locked in as well – according to my fuzzy math.
Things get a little more simple when you get into the classes with substate rounds. In Class B, barring anything crazy, Omaha Duchesne, Skutt Catholic, Grand Island Northwest, Elkhorn South, Gretna and Alliance should be pretty set for hosting a Class B substate game. The eight district champs and eight wild cards advance to the substate round in Class B.
Sports 7-10, however, are only separated by about 0.3 points as of today. Seward (43.0714), McCook (43.0000), Ralston (43.0000) and Omaha Roncallli (42.7407). All those teams, however, have a brutal stretch to end the year, which could open the door to a team like Waverly, Hastings or Bennington to swoop in and grab one of the home substate contests.
Another team worth watching in Class B is Norris. The Titans are a state-tournament quality team, but they currently sit in the #14 position in wild card points. Norris has tough matches left with Beatrice and Lincoln Lutheran and then likely will face Beatrice and potentially Waverly in the district tournament. The Titans need some big wins down the stretch to get into substate and avoid getting edged out at the finish line.
Class C-1 and C-2 substate matches are played at a neutral site, so the race to get a top-eight seed isn’t as urgent from that standpoint. Certainly, though, the higher the seed the easier the route to Lincoln. In Class C-1 & C-2, the 12 district champs and four wild cards advance to the substate round.
With a handful of districts loaded with good teams and some districts that could provide upsets, pretty much nobody should feel like their spot in substate is secure without a district title. Remember that there are still only four wild cards into the substate round. Meanwhile, Wahoo, Omaha Concordia and Bishop Neumann all find themselves in the same district. Two wild cards could come out of that district.
Lincoln Lutheran, Malcolm and Lincoln Christian are all in the same district, so two wild card teams could come out of that district. But, if there are upsets in other districts, so of those ranked teams could be left out. If Mitchell were to get upset in C1-12, it would likely take one of the wild cards. Same if Syracuse should go down in C1-2.
That doesn’t even include a district like C1-6 that has North Bend and Columbus Scotus, or C1-8 that has Grand Island Central Catholic and St. Paul.
I think it’s same to say Wahoo, North Bend and Grand Island Central Catholic are locks for substate. Everybody else better plan on winning their subdistrict and not leaving it to chance.
Hartington Cedar Catholic is in substate no matter what in Class C-2. Nebraska Christian seems like a lock, but everything else could turn into a mess. Although (knock on wood) Centura, Stanton, Archbishop Bergan and Superior should all get through their subdistricts as well.
Ponca gets the unfavorable draw of having Hartington CC in its district, so it will either need to knock off the Trojans or hope for a wild card – where it currently sits at #7. Wisner-Pilger is sitting in Stanton’s district and is in the #9 spot for wild card points, so the Gators’ position is pretty strong as long as there are no upsets among the top few teams.
Teams to keep your eye on include North Platte St. Patrick’s, Freeman and Lutheran High Northeast – should those teams get into the substate round they could be land mines for higher seeded teams.
Johnson-Brock and Meridian have basically played their way into the state tournament already. With Class D-1 & D-2 as the only classes who have not modernized their postseason format, the two smallest classes are still stuck in the Stone Age with taking the six district champions and two wild cards to state.
Johnson-Brock and Meridian have such a large lead in the wild card standings that it doesn’t really matter that they are stuck within the same district. The team I worry about, though, is BDS. With either Johnson-Brock or Meridian taking one of the wild cards, BDS has to, in essence, either take matters into its own hands and beat Meridian and Johnson-Brock to win the district title or hope for no major upsets.
BDS is currently sitting in third in wild card points, but is less than 0.5 points ahead of Elgin-Pope John, Ansley-Litchfield and Blue Hill. And with Blue Hill and Ansley-Litchfield in the same district, one of the top six teams in the wild card point standings is going to get left behind. How things unfold between those three teams is the thing to watch in Class D-1.
Things aren’t set-up for too much drama in Class D-2, but sometimes that means crazy things are set to happen. Mead and Exeter-Milligan are both battle-tested teams with real state title hopes but find themselves in the same D2-2 subdistrict. Mead sits at #4 right now in wild card points and Exeter-Milligan at #5. Things will get dicey for whoever comes up on the losing end of that match in terms of a wild card.
Red Cloud and Giltner are in the same D2-7 subdistrict and are #2 and #7 right now. Red Cloud could conceivably survive a loss and still get a wild card, but Giltner would be living dangerously if it has to hold out for a wild card.