The sectional pairings have been set for the 102nd IHSAA state boys’ basketball tournament.
Now, it is my turn to either make people happy, jinx players and teams or just flat out tick some people off with my sectional predictions.
My message to the players and coaches that I will snub — enjoy the bulletin-board material, guys.
CLASS 4A SEYMOUR SECTIONAL
• Pairings: first-round games — New Albany (13-7) vs. Floyd Central (10-12); Jeffersonville (17-3) vs. Seymour (6-14); first-round byes — Bedford North Lawrence (11-9), Jennings County (11-11).
• Analysis: No question, the Red Devils are the favorites to capture the sectional crown at Scott Gym. They have the best record, have played well throughout the season and have the best draw.
Jeff should get past Seymour and will benefit playing on a neutral court against Jennings in the semifinals.
I expect New Albany and Floyd Central to have another nailbiter like they did in their overtime matchup in the regular season, which the Bulldogs won 58-57. But I give New Albany the edge because the Bulldogs seem to have gotten their act together since they lost that debacle at Providence on Feb. 3. Since its 50-20 spanking by the Pioneers, New Albany has won four of the last five games.
As for the Highlanders, they have been up and down all year, so I don’t know what to expect from them.
The Bulldogs should plan on another physical battle with Bedford North Lawrence in the semifinals. But I think they will be motivated to pay back the Stars, who won at The Doghouse on Feb. 17 50-44.
In the championship, I expect New Albany to have the same strategy that it did in its 51-46 loss to Jeff in the regular season. The Bulldogs will not run with the Red Devils and try to keep the score in the 50s.
But in the end, Jeff has too many weapons and New Albany will have a tough time containing each of them.
• Picks: first round — New Albany over Floyd Central, Jeff over Seymour; semifinals — New Albany over Bedford, Jeff over Jennings County; championship — Jeff over New Albany.