The state playoff brackets are posted here, and I just have some quick thoughts on what has been posted thus far before I run out to cover a game and I’ll follow up with more stuff later.
We could have as many as five teams in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions because it looks like Non-Public B heavyweight Trenton Catholic is ineligible for the playoffs because it didn’t play 70 percent of its games against New Jersey competition, which is an NJSIAA requirement to participate in the NJSIAA Tournament. That means that St. Rose could potentially go all the way and win the Non-Public B title, which puts them in the league with Colts Neck (Group IV); Neptune (Group III); Rumson-FH (Group II) and St. John Vianney (Non-Public A) as potential Group winners from the Shore. That is a major development for the Purple Roses.
Keansburg is the No. 1 seed in Central Jersey Group I, which I would hazard to guess is the first time that has happened in Titans’ school history. They certainly could win their first sectional title ever on the girls side as the No. 2 seed is Dunellen, whom the Titans have already blown out during the regular season this year. However, the Titans could have to get past Class B Central foes Keyport and Point Beach in succession in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, if they want that title.
In Central Jersey Group II, Rumson-FH, which owns this bracket and has won it for like nine straight years, is only guaranteed one home game but still has to be the favorite as the fifth seed. The real question is whether Raritan can get to the final from the other side of the bracket as the 10th seed.
In Central Jersey Group III, Neptune is the clear favorite as the undefeated top seed. Also, Freehold is playing Ocean for the third time this season in a quarterfinal game after the Spartans won the first two meetings, so that could be an early-round game to watch. The winner will head to Neptune, which is 4-0 against those two teams this season. There’s a good chance Neptune could see third-seeded Middletown South in the final, and the Scarlet Fliers routed the Eagles during their lone meeting in the regular season.
In Central Jersey Group IV, Colts Neck is the heavy favorite to win it. I’ve seen Trenton this season, and they are not on Colts Neck’s level, so this should be Cougars all the way. Jackson Memorial could potentially see Brick Memorial for the third time this season in a quarterfinal on the other side of the bracket from Colts Neck.
Manchester is the No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group III and will have its hands full with Seneca and others in order to get to the final.
Southern could have a tough first game against Absegami as the No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group IV, and then will most likely have to deal with a strong Eastern team in the semifinals just to possibly get a crack at Washington Township.
Holy Spirit looks like St. John Vianney‘s main obstacle to a second straight Non-Public South A title, but the Lancers are a heavy favorite in this bracket.
We could have Asbury Park-Point Beach Part III after two last-second thrillers won by Asbury Park in Class B Central, as the Blue Bishops are the No. 1 seed and Point Beach is No. 2 in Central Jersey Group I.
In Central Jersey Group II, you’re looking at a potential third meeting between Rumson-FH and Manasquan, two Class A Central rivals, in the quarterfinals if Rumson can get by Delaware Valley on the road. The Bulldogs would then head to second-seeded Manasquan in the quarterfinals. Weequahic, the third seed, is always tough in this bracket, but I think this bracket is still fairly wide open.
Central Jersey Group III is essentially a mini Shore Conference Tournament. Monmouth got the top seed, which means Middletown South and Point Boro would have to head to the Falcon’s Nest for a quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively, if they get past their early opponents. We also could have Neptune-Freehold Part III, which would be at Freehold in the semifinals if it transpires. There could also be an interesting Lakewood-Freehold game if Lakewood gets by Long Branch in the first round. A Shore Conference team is virtually guaranteed to win this bracket.
Central Jersey Group IV is a wide open bracket, with Brick Memorial as the No. 2 seed, and the Mustangs could face Freehold Township in the quarterfinals if the Patriots can get by Howell. I know West Windsor South is the No. 1 seed, but a Shore Conference team is capable of winning this bracket.
The South Jersey public brackets haven’t been posted yet, but you would have to figure than any Shore team is essentially a long shot to win its bracket.
CBA is the favorite to win Non-Public South A, but will have to deal with St. Augustine and others in the toughest sectional bracket for any Shore Conference team.