Division I boys basketball state tournament predictions
The Division I boys basketball state tournament bracket is set. Here are my thoughts on how it shakes out:
First round: No. 16 Mountain Pointe over No. 17 Red Mountain; No. 9 Brophy over No. 24 Sunnyside; No. 12 Deer Valley over No. 21 Buena; No. 13 Dobson over No. 20 Highland; No. 14 Westview over No. 19 Cienega; No. 11 Gilbert over No. 22 Desert Vista; No. 10 Mountain View over No. 23 Mountain Ridge; No. 15 Marcos de Niza over No. 18 Ironwood.
Analysis: I don’t see too many surprises in the first round. I thought Mountain View might be vulnerable early, but it has a good draw. Highland is the most dangerous low seed but has a tough matchup with the Mustangs. There will probably be an upset or two but things shouldn’t get too crazy.
Second round: No. 1 Corona del Sol over Mountain Pointe; No. 8 Millennium over Brophy; No. 5 Desert Mountain over Deer Valley; No. 4 Mesa over Dobson; No. 3 Pinnacle over Westview; Gilbert over No. 6 Chaparral; Mountain View over No. 7 Hamilton; No. 2 Chavez over Marcos de Niza.
Analysis: I don’t think Gilbert beating Chaparral would be considered a big upset and the Tigers look like the most dangerous double-digit seed in the field. Mountain View gets another nice matchup against Hamilton. That game should be very low-scoring and close, and if Payton Dastrup has a big outing the Toros could sneak into the quarterfinals. Mountain Pointe has shown the capability to hang with the state’s elite but get a rough draw against the Aztecs. Millennium-Brophy and Mesa-Dobson are also intriguing.
Quarterfinals: Corona del Sol over Millennium; Mesa over Desert Mountain; Gilbert over Pinnacle; Cesar Chavez over Mountain View.
Analysis: The big upset, of course, would be Gilbert over Pinnacle. The Pioneers have won 13 in a row and are a popular pick to win it all, but Gilbert defends, is patient, and has a big man in Truman Moore who could give Pinnacle trouble. Desert Mountain beat Mesa in a close one during the regular season and this potential matchup would again be hotly contested. Corona and Chavez shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Semifinals: Corona del Sol over Mesa; Cesar Chavez over Gilbert.
Analysis: The biggest question mark with Corona del Sol is how it will handle a big guy with its lack of height. The Jackrabbits have one in Isaac Allen, but he’s not polished enough offensively at this stage in his career to dominate. Corona has played like the best team in the state this year and will get a big test in the semifinals whether it be Mesa, Desert Mountain or Dobson, but I like the Aztecs to advance. Cesar Chavez and Gilbert are a complete contrast in styles. If the Tigers get this far and can control the tempo, they have a shot at making the title game. However, the Champions have imposed their will on a lot of opponents and if they can push the pace, the Tigers might not have the scoring punch to keep up.
Finals: Corona del Sol 68, Cesar Chavez 60
Analysis: These teams met in last year’s championship game and the Aztecs dominated. If they meet again, Corona del Sol won’t be as big of a favorite, but I like them to repeat. Point guard Casey Benson has turned into arguably the state’s most valuable player and the Corona del Sol supporting cast is deep, talented and experienced. The Aztecs didn’t enter this season with the same external expectations as a year ago, but it gradually developed into the state title favorite. Mesa, Desert Mountain, Pinnacle, Cesar Chavez and Gilbert are the five other teams I see as contenders, but I think Corona del Sol will be cutting down the nets once again.