After going an embarrassing 4-6 three weeks ago, I rebounded with a solid 8-2 with my picks just two weeks back. Some tech issues held me up from getting any picks up last week, but now I am back with even more picking ability!
Yes, I have a renewed sense of confidence and nothing can take my thunder away from me this week. So, watch out Kosciusko!
Before I forget, best of luck to the Wawasee and Warsaw boys swimming teams at the Northern Lakes Conference meet tonight and Saturday. I know it is a long shot, but can somebody beat Northridge? PLEASE!?
Also, I need to congratulate a few people/organizations before I start picking.
First, to Grace College women’s basketball star Juaneice Jackson (more affectionately known as “JJ”). Last Saturday when the Lady Lancers traveled to Taylor University, Jackson surpassed Tracie Mezera to become the all-time points leader in women’s basketball history at the school. For a more in-depth look at Jackson’s accomplishment, check out this write-up. Also, Congratualtions to JJ and the Lady Lancers for their victory over fourth-ranked, defending National Champion Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday night.
Second, a congratulations to the Grace College men’s basketball team. On January 21, the Lancers program claimed its 1,000th victory. Grace is only the fourth team in the Crossroads League to achieve this accomplishment. This Saturday (2/1) at 3 p.m. Grace College will be celebrating the feat during the team’s game against Goshen at the OCC. More information on that event and the historic win can be found in this article.
In honor of this feat by Grace College, I will pick 1,000 games this week. Am I kidding? Maybe, maybe not. You’ll have to keep reading to find out.
Last Week (1/17/14): 8-2
High School Girls Basketball 1/30
Concord (6-9, 1-3) at Warsaw (7-9, 2-2), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: The Lady Tigers have not lost to Concord this century. Since head coach Michelle Harter took over for Warsaw in 2008, the Lady Tigers have faced-off with Concord seven times. In those seven meetings Warsaw has outscored Concord 412-190. It should be mentioned that this Concord team is much better than ones in years past, but that should not matter. Do you think Penn State was okay with losing IU on the football field for the first time ever this past fall just because it was a slightly better IU team than before? Heck no! There are no excuses tonight, ladies! Concord will make you work harder than you have before, but you still have to grab the victory. Seniors Nikki Grose and Brooklyn Harrison, I’m calling you out to lead the charge tonight!
The Pick: Warsaw 41, Concord 28.
South Bend Adams (12-6) at Wawasee (2-12), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Speaking of teams that are turning things around…
Adams is coming off of a 2012-13 campaign that gave the school its first winning record since 2002-03. With 12 wins this season, the team has matched its win total from last year. Of the team’s six losses, five are to that are ranked in the top 15 of their respective classes. The only team that Adams has lost to that is not ranked is East Noble, who is currently 14-4. So, this Adams team is much better than the ones Wawasee is used to seeing. The Lady Warriors do have Erin Wiktorowski back at their disposal, and that has helped this team out a lot. Unfortunately, Wawasee still has a lot of work to do.
The Pick: Adams 53, Wawasee 32.
Triton (11-5) at Oregon-Davis (13-2), 8 p.m.
The Scoop: One of the teams that Adams fell to was the top-ranked team in Class 1A, Oregon-Davis. The Bobcats have played some weak teams this year, but they have also claimed a few big victories. O-D knocked off one of 4A’s premier teams in Penn.
(So, the tiny, talented 1A team went toe-to-toe with a colossus, skilled 4A school and won? Am I the only one who wants to see a change in the IHSAA’s tournament format?)
Anyways, O-D is good, as usual. Triton is also very good, also as usual. The problem this year is the problem that Triton faced last year, O-D is too good. And the fact that Triton has travel across time zones to play in Hamlet, Indiana does not help things. Seriously, you want two fan bases that can just go away and not return? Northridge and O-D. So, as much as I despise O-D and love Triton, I have to be logical with my pick.
The Pick: Oregon-Davis 78, Triton 54.
High School Boys Basketball 1/31
Jimtown (5-5, 1-2) at Triton (6-5, 1-2), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: Triton has topped Jimtown six consecutive times dating back to the 2007-08 season. The Jimmies have two respectable wins, one over Argos and another over Clinton Christian, both teams currently have eight wins. But the other three wins for Jimtown have come against teams that have a combined record of 1-30, yeah. So Triton, with wins over teams like Plymouth, Culver and New Prairie, are really the superior team in this match-up. Coach Jason Groves is a rare talent as a coach and gets more than just his team’s best. He is able to motivate and drive every ounce of talent out of his players and give the fans the best results possible. While the team is having a down season by their own standards, Triton is still a threat and should have no issues on Friday night.
The Pick: Triton 60, Jimtown 42.
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Concord (8-3, 2-1) at Wawasee (2-9, 0-3), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: This is a weird game to pick, as most are with Wawasee. The minute you turn your back on the Warriors, they end up giving you a reason to look back their way. I wrote them off a few weeks back before the NorthWood game, expecting a blowout, instead Wawasee pushed the Panthers to the edge of an upset before NorthWood finally hung on to get the win. The two weeks back, Wawasee failed to end its NLC losing skid against Elkhart Memorial but turned around to beat Elkhart Central the very next night. Friday night’s game should be an easy win for Concord on paper, but now this Wawasee team is finding its rhythm and will be playing in front of what has become a very intimidating home crowd (the stuffed banana wearing a sombrero on a stick is simply unrivaled in other student sections). As I have said in the past, Wawasee will surprise somebody this year, it might be Concord tomorrow night. But I just cannot pick this team to win until they prove it on the court in a game like this.
The Pick: Concord 61, Wawasee 48.
West Noble (11-0, 4-0) at Fairfield (7-4, 3-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: I will not try to talk West Noble basketball as if I am some kind of expert on the team. I simply wanted to shed some light on the fact that this team is very, very good and should be recognized once before the State Tournament starts up. Former Wawasee assistant Jim Best took over the program in 2011 produced a winning record in each of his first two seasons. Currently sitting at 11-0 and ranked No. 7 in class 3A, Best has changed a losing culture into a winning one in Ligonier. Friday night Best and his team will face their toughest challenge yet with Fairfield in what could be a sectional preview for the two teams. Valley, Wawasee, and Whitko fans should keep a close eye on what happens in this match up. I like West Noble to stay undefeated.
The Pick: West Noble 61, Fairfield 55.
Warsaw (9-4, 2-1) at NorthWood (11-1, 3-1), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Trust me when I say that no coach was more pleased about having all of this down time than Warsaw’s Doug Ogle. The last time I spoke with coach Ogle, 13 days ago after the Tigers fell to Fort Wayne Snider, the coach talked about not having a lot of practice time in the weeks leading up to the Snider game. While Warsaw has not been able to have a ton of practices with all the cancellations, the Tigers have certainly rested up since last playing a game and will be ready to go for one of their toughest games of the year.
UPDATE: Due to a recent suspension of a player that I will leave unnamed, I have edited this game analysis and score. NorthWood is a very hostile environment and I still believe the Tigers have some nice talent but the hill just became a lot harder to climb tonight.
The Pick: NorthWood 74, Warsaw 49.
Wabash (4-5, 1-1) at Whitko (1-11, 0-3), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: It has been a rough season for coach Scott Wessel and the Whitko Wildcats. There have not been a lot of bright spots and obviously not a lot of victories. Nate Walpole has been a figurative diamond in the rough for the Wildcats but reagrdless of the young man’s efforts, Whitko is just struggling to find the win column. I wish I could say that will change on Friday night but I don’t see it happening, Wabash is nothing special but the Apaches do have a little more talent an consistency than the Wildcats.
The Pick: Wabash 56, Whitko 41.
Manchester (8-3, 3-0) at Tippecanoe Valley (8-2, 3-0), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Lone possession of first place is up for grabs in the Three Rivers Conference when these two teams square off on Friday night. Valley has the advantage as it plays at home but this Manchester team is nothing to overlook. Head coach Eric Thompson, now is his third season at Manchester, has a very respectable track record. He has this Manchester team in a good position as we get closer to the state tournament and they will give Valley a heck of a fight. I like Valley in this one, mainly because they have such a talented group of shooters. From Chainey Zolman to Tanner Andrews the team has depth and skill, the Vikings just need to start putting complete games together and good things will come from it.
The Pick: Valley 71, Manchester 68.
ATTENTION LOYAL READERS: I will have a separate article breaking down Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown later on as my tenth and final pick for this weekend.