It’s been nearly a month since I’ve written a picks article. So, the important questions need to be asked up front.
How have you survived, Kosciusko!?
I was not there for you during the first two rounds of the NFL playoffs. I was not there when you needed me most for the Golden Globes picks, and for that, I apologize.
Thankfully, I will be there for you the rest of the way. We will get through championship weekend in the NFL. Later this winter we will brave ourselves through the Oscars (How the heck did The Lego Movie get snubbed!?). Then we will gear up for high school basketball postseasons. But, those last two are a long way off.
This week we have some big high school basketball games on the docket. If you have nothing to do Saturday night, get your buns down to Tippecanoe Valley High School for a Three Rivers Conference girls showdown between No. 9 Rochester and No. 10 Tippecanoe Valley. Seriously, Valley wants a big crowd and I want a big crowd.
Don’t you remember going to big games where the gym was packed and everybody was uncomfortable, but nobody cared because it’s basketball and this is Indiana? Well, Pepperidge Farm remembers, and they want a big crowd, too.
Now, before I get to the picks, gimme two claps and a Ric Flair!
Last Week (12/19/14): 5-1
High School Boys Basketball 1/16
Culver (2-8, 0-3) at Triton (6-5, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: Triton was in a good position to win the sectional last season. The Trojans drew Culver in the first round and were eliminated by the Cavaliers in a disappointing game. Culver is not up to par with last season’s team and the Trojans are ready for some revenge.
I don’t expect the Cavs to hang around for too long in this one. Triton is finally going to have that big offensive night that coach Jason Groves has been waiting for.
The Pick: Triton 65, Culver 53.
Wawasee (5-5, 0-2) at Elkhart Memorial (7-5, 1-0), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Wawasee started the season 5-1 and has since lost four games in a row, that’s not good. However, it’s misleading. The Warriors last four losses have come to teams that have a combined 38-8 record. Three of those teams are ranked in the top-20 in their respective class and only Warsaw handed the Warriors a loss that could be considered ugly.
The Warriors have a great opportunity Friday night to end a 23-game losing skid in the NLC. Currently Wawasee is reworking its starting lineup and getting Jeffrey Moore at the point last week seemed to work well against NorthWood. The only issues with Wawasee is the streaky offensive production. If the Warriors start hitting early, they will win this game. I look for this to be a low-scoring, defensive game in which the comfort of playing at home may be key for the Chargers.
The Pick: Elkhart Memorial 49, Wawasee 45.
Tippecanoe Valley (5-5, 1-0) at Rochester (3-6, 2-0), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: The Vikings already beat the Zebras once this season, let’s hope they can do it again. Valley has a good chance to win the TRC, but a win against Rochester will be key in bringing home the hardware at the end of the season. I covered Valley at Plymouth last week and whatever Viking team that was needs to stay buried in The Rock Pile.
Valley just looked lost for most of that game, the Vikings are a better team than they showed in that game. I know it, Bill Patrick knows it, Rita Price knows it and, most importantly, the players know it. I expect the Vikings to bounce back in a big way this weekend and put the Zebras away early.
The Pick: Valley 58, Rochester 42.
No. 11 Warsaw (10-1, 1-0) at Goshen (5-5, 1-1), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Goshen is never a team you want to play when you’re on a roll and playing at Goshen only adds to the bad feeling of playing the well-coached Redskins. This is a trap game for the Tigers. That makes Goshen sound like a bad team, but that’s not my intent. Goshen is good, just not as good as Warsaw, but still capable of winning. So, you know, trap game.
It’s like Pitfall.
The Tigers are running through the jungle and, suddenly, there is a giant pit in the middle of the ground because that’s how in-depth video game storylines used to be.
I was going somewhere with this analogy, I forget where.
Anyway, coach Doug Ogle is going jump and grab that swinging rope and get his team past this upset-minded Redskin squad. (Sidebar: I’m picturing Ogle dressed like Rambo, holding a machete and swinging over pits of crocodiles and snakes. Epic.)
The Pick: Warsaw 64, Goshen 52.
High School Girls Basketball 1/17
Goshen (8-7, 2-1) at Warsaw (10-7, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: Seriously, Ogle would be great as Rambo if the WCHS Drama Dept. wanted to effort that production. Oh, I’m on the other Warsaw team now, my bad.
Congrats to coach Michelle Harter on win number 100!
The mighty Lady Tigers have picked up some nice wins recently. But, this team is still one of the most frustrating around. Warsaw is very inconsistent and that has hurt them at times this season, too many times.
I’m not sure what will happen in this game because I don’t know what Warsaw team will show up. Goshen is very middle of the road, extremely average. The Lady Redskins score 47.4 points per game, and surrender an even 47. So, yeah, average. What scares me is that Warsaw seems to play to the level of its opponent, which tells me the Lady Tigers will play down a level in this game. That leaves it wide open for Goshen.
The Pick: Goshen 48, Warsaw 40.
Lakeland Christian (5-10) at Culver Academies (4-7), 7:30 p.m.
The Scoop: The Lady Cougars finally found a way to win a close game in Tuesday’s contest against Cornerstone. LCA has lost several close games this year, so that victory could do wonders for the girls.
CMA has played a tougher schedule so far this season and the Eagles have the wonderful benefit of playing at home. If LCA can get going early, then the Cougs can pull out a nice win. But if they have another slow start, it could be a long night for LCA.
The Pick: CMA 61, LCA 49.
Whitko (8-7, 2-2) at Southwood (6-8, 1-3), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Whitko suffered a loss to a talented Norwell team Thursday night, so now it’s time to get back in the win column.
Barring some weird developments in the TRC, Whitko is out of the mix for a title, but that won’t stop the Wildcats from finishing strong. The two toughest teams are out of the way for Brandon Bradley’s group, though a tough Wabash team still remains. Despite that, I am going to be bold and predict Whitko to not only win this weekend, but to win all of its remaining games, leading up to the sectional. That’s asking a lot from a young team, but these girls have what it takes to ride out the season in a winning fashion.
The Pick: Whitko 51, Southwood 40.
No. 9 Rochester (15-2, 4-0) at No. 10 Tippecanoe Valley (13-2, 3-0), 7:45 p.m.
The Scoop: Oh wow, how dumb will those polls look after the Lady Vikings topple the Striped Horses this weekend?
Rochester is one spot ahead of the Lady Vikings in the Class 3A polls, but that all changes with Saturday’s game. This is the biggest game to date for Anne Secrest and Valley and I expect the young lady to shine. This game won’t be easy, but it will be fun. I’m covering the game and I can’t wait to see how this one finishes. Don’t let me down, Viking fans. Get out and support your team!
Anything can happen Saturday night, and that anything will be a double-double from the sophomore sensation Secrest and a big game from Caylie Teel. Why Teel? Because she’s due for a big game. This is the unofficial TRC title game and that trophy is going to be in Akron at the end of the year.
The Pick: Valley 46, Rochester 36.
NFL Championship Sunday 1/18
Green Bay at Seattle, NFC Championship, 3:05 p.m.
The Scoop: A rematch of the “Fail Mary” game!
I’m probably the first one to tell you that, unless you watched ESPN at any point in the past week.
You know these teams, Seattle has a ridiculous defense, Green Bay has a ridiculous quarterback. (The only thing more amazing than Seattle’s defense is the fact that Pete Carroll has a Super Bowl ring.)
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, he has a ring, he will eventually get another. I believe that, it might not be this year, but it will come. I like Rodgers and I think he will play fine and put up a few scores on Seattle’s D, but I don’t know that the Packers defense can hold off the Seahawks underrated offensive attack. The play of the Packers defense will be the key to this game.
There WILL be an upset this weekend, which means either Green Bay or Indy is going to the Super Bowl. The question is, which teams can pull it off?
The Pick: Packers 27, Seattle 24.
Indianapolis at New England, AFC Championship, 6:40 p.m.
The Scoop: Yep, I’m picking the Patriots.
Why? Am I just trying to appease my friend Chris Plack? Hardly. I truly believe either New England or Seattle will get beat this weekend, possibly both, but definitely one of the two. I am going with the Pats because my heart is telling me the Colts will win, but I can’t trust my heart when trying to pick games of this magnitude.
The Colts don’t have what it takes to go into New England and beat Tom Brady. Indy can’t play defense. The run defense is putrid, there is no pass rush. The Colts aren’t championship caliber, they can’t win on the road. They definitely can’t beat a good quarterback on the road. Don’t even get me started on how bad the offensive line plays.
Wait a second.
Maybe I’m not picking the Patriots.
My heart told me the Colts would somehow, someway, beat Denver last week. The defense held a top offense to just 13 points. There was a successful pass rush and all-around defensive game plan. The offensive line played its best game of the year and it all happened on the road. Weird, I could’ve swore every sports network told me the Patriots already won this game. Well, maybe this pick isn’t as easy as I thought.
The truth is, if the Colts duplicate what they did last week, they will win. If they choose to fall back into old habits, they will lose. I honestly cannot wait for this game and I just hope it goes my (the Colts) way.
Is it Sunday yet?
Patriots 38, Colts 28.
Colts 24, Patriots 21.
Colts 77, Patriots 0.
Patriots 34, Colts 21.