Tournament time is by far the most anticipated time of the year for me. I wait all fall and winter for the state tournament to get started and as of last night, that time is finally here! This week I have divided my usual one article into two separate, yet equally as exciting, articles. Why? Because I am like a kid in a candy store with all of these games and cannot decide what I want.
I could either pick my usual ten games tonight and ignore most of the Friday matchups, or ignore tonight’s games and just pick Friday’s once the schedule is set…OR I could pick 10 games on each day and make this week one giant picking frenzy. Those were the options I weighed and I decided to go with none of them and just pick five games tonight and five against tomorrow once I know Friday’s schedule…or I might pick five tonight and still go with 10 tomorrow. Who knows? That’s why this article is a great form of entertainment, you never know what I might do next. If Henry Winkler can jump a shark, I can certainly have two Picks articles in a week.
Before I start picking I want to congratulate the Warsaw Tigers basketball team on a fantastic season that ended too soon. I want also want to thank the Whitko and Lakeland Christian programs, that both had very tough seasons, for sticking with it when we all know how hard it had to be, especially the seniors.
To the seniors on those teams, I’ve been there. We went 1-9 my senior year at Wawasee. Leaving the court/field where you poured out so much energy, physically and mentally, in the shadow of a scoreboard brightly displaying a lopsided loss? That’s not the way we drew it up in the backyard when we were kids, is it guys? The pain of finishing your prep career on a cruddy loss on the tail end of a cruddier season will go away a lot quicker than you think it will. As long as you know that you went out in every game and in every practice and gave it your all, then there is nothing to hang your head about. Trust me, you’ll be laughing it off next year in your dorm room…right before you get back to mumbling obscenities about your English professor.
Last Week: 8-2
IHSAA Boys Sectionals 3/5
Wawasee (4-16) v. Tippecanoe Valley (16-3), 6 p.m., Wawasee Sectional 21
The Scoop: There is a new voice of sports radio in our listening area. In the morning from 7-9 a.m. you can tune your radio to 102.7 The Fan and listen to Riding the Pine with Plack & Grossman. Yes, we all know Roger Grossman, a well-respected veteran of the radio business. But I am here to talk about Chris Plack.
Plack is an awesome radio personality and is fun to listen to. He has good opinions and is a nice addition to the show. I seriously recommend that you tune-in to listen to these guys in the morning. Now, all of that being said, Plack has forced my hand with this pick. On this morning’s show Plack boldly stated that if Wawasee were to win tonight, he would go streaking down Center St. in Warsaw. Just to be clear Plack said, “Wawasee wins this game, I’m going streaking down Center St.” That’s a real quote. Plack is a friend of mine and I am calling him out in the name of competitive fun.
Plack, when Wawasee wins tonight, I will be sure to have my video camera ready to go for your big sprint through the heart of Warsaw. That’s a video that will get plenty of hits for next week’s picks, Im sure of it.
Yes, I am going with the upset tonight. Wawasee has the pieces to make a run, they just have to get them to fit together. The Warriors did well last Friday night against the Vikings but ultimately could not put together a complete game to get the win. Tonight, that all changes.
Wawasee, let Tanner Andrews beat you. He is a prolific scorer, just not all the time. It’s worth taking the chance of him having an off night and focusing your defense on the sharp-shooting Chainey Zolman. Let me make this clear, CHAINEY ZOLMAN IS THE KEY TO THIS GAME. Wawasee has had trouble defending the corner in recent games, if Zolman gets comfortable from shooting in that corner, it’s going to be a big night for the Vikings. BUT if Wawasee can shut down Zolman then they have a fantastic chance at pulling off this upset at home. The Warriors have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a game like this. It’s an all-out, nothing left on the court type of game for both team’s tonight but Wawasee needs this win more, Wawasee wants it more. I’ve talked to their players, this is not going to be cakewalk for the Vikings. No, no. Plack wants to make a bold statement that he thinks he won’t have to pay for? I’ll make a bold prediction that will lead to a very interesting night on Center St. Wawasee’s offense shows up tonight and this is a win for the ages.
The Pick: Wawasee 53, Valley 50.
Lakeland (7-13) v. NorthWood (18-2), 7:30 p.m., Wawasee Sectional 21
The Scoop: I’ve made one bold prediction so far and that might be enough. There is just no way Lakeland will win this game. Maybe that makes me a hippocrite, but I don’t care. NorthWood is just way too good. They’ve beaten everybody in this sectional already, there is no need to speculate on what will happen tonight. Zach Zurcher and Jonathan Wilkinson are too much the way it is, throw is Will Stueve and Lakeland’s scoring defense, the sectional’s worst, is going to have a long night.
The Pick: NorthWood 79, Lakeland45.
Plymouth (10-10) v. Mishawaka (4-16), 7:30 p.m., South Bend Washington Sectional 3
The Scoop: Here is my last bold prediction of the day. Plymouth loses this game. Yep, I said it. I have nothing against Plymouth, I just think Mishawaka wins this game. There is nothing overly exciting or intimidating about either of these teams. Yes, Mack Mercer can be exciting, but he is not the force people think he is and he can easily be taken out of a game at any point. 6’9″ guys don’t play on the block in high school? It’s frustrating to watch! If Mishawaka can focus on shutting down Plymouth’s guards, they can stop the ball from getting into Mercer’s hands and that is the recipe for success over the Pilgrims.
The Pick: Mishawaka 51, Plymouth 47.
Southwood (12-8) v. Manchester (15-5), 7:30 p.m., Manchester Sectional 37
The Scoop: Oh buddy, this is going to be Indiana high school hoops at its best. The Squires beat Southwood back on Dec. 20, 59-47. Since that time both teams have improved a lot and both have a great chance at winning this sectional (it’s either on these teams or Lewis Cass). These two teams know what is on the line tonight and they will playing like it. Manchester’s defense is one of the better ones in the area as it gives up just 49 points per game. Southwood does not have a prolific offense and neither does Manchester. But the Squires are at home and have a great coach in Eric Thompson. I’m giving the edge to the home team here.
The Pick: Manchester 54, Southwood 45.
College Basketball 3/5
Nebraska (17-11, 9-7) at Indiana (17-12, 7-9), 7 p.m.
The Scoop: The bubble is going to burst for one of these teams tonight. Nebraska beat IU earlier this season and as an IU fan, it was embarrassing. I now know how Penn State fans felt when IU beat the Nittany Lions in football. This is not the Cornhuskers sport. Stick to football, guys. IU has to get this win at home tonight. If the Hoosiers cannot beat Nebraska in Assembly Hall, ON SENIOR NIGHT, then the wheels will not just fall of the Tom Crean bandwagon, they will crumble into tiny, Mike Davis shaped pieces and Hoosier faithful will go home and cry themselves to sleep while clinging to a picture of Bob Knight. (I’m one of those idiots, so I can talk about them however I want.)
I think IU wins this game because it is Will Sheehey’s last home game and he is playing the best basketball of his career right now. He won’t leave Assembly Hall on a loss. If IU wins tonight, Sunday at Michigan and picks up just one ‘W’ in the Big Ten tourney, then I say the Hoosiers are off the bubble and into the NCAA’s. As important as Sheehey will be tonight, Yogi Ferrell is even more important. If he gets hot early, or late, or just at all, IU will win. All Hoosiers tonight.
The Pick: Indiana 76, Nebraska 68.