There are several Madison area boys’ basketball teams hoping to make a deep run in the WIAA playoffs, beginning with regional play March 2. Not all of those schools are large D-I programs. Madison area D-III schools could have success, especially in the Verona sectional.
In the top half of the bracket is No. 1 Cuba City, who should have little problem getting past Mineral Point in its opening round game. If the Cubans (21-0) make it to the second round they would face either Belleville or Orfordville-Parkview.
Parkview tied atop the Rock Valley-South Conference with a 10-5 record. The Vikings (15-6 overall) faced tougher competition this season and came out with a better record than Belleville (14-7) did in the Capitol-South. Whichever team wins, will have a difficult time with Cuba City.
The Cuban’s biggest test could come in the regional final when they may meet up with Capitol-South champ Wisconsin Heights. The No. 2 Vanguards (18-2 overall) ran the table in their conference finishing 10-0. The one-two punch of Dustin Helmenstine and Bryce Barsness could give CCHS a run for its money.
If Wisc. Heights does not make it to the regional final, No. 3 Darlington is likely responsible.
Darlington (18-3 overall) lost just one conference game - it came at the hands of rival Cuba City. If Darlington meets up with the Cubans in the regional final, the rivalry factor comes into play. At that point, flipping a coin could be the most accurate way to predict a winner.
The bottom bracket in the sectional pits local rivals against each other immediately. No. 4 Deerfield hosts No. 5 Cambridge. Though the schools play in separate conferences now, they used to face off regularly. The schools met in a non-conference game Jan. 2 and Cambridge held off a late Demon run to win 59-57.
The Demon’s (14-7) will be looking for payback when Cambridge (8-13) returns.
In the second rivalry game, Waterloo will look to beat nearby Marshall for the third time this year. Waterloo (10-11) won 49-43 and 58-36 in the team’s two Capitol-South matchups. Marshall (2-19) has a young squad and can pin their ears back and play with a ‘nothing-to-lose’ attitude. In a rivalry setting, the Pirates will have to come ready to play.
Whichever teams come out of the rivalry parings in the middle of the bracket could make a deep run as the top two seeds – No. 1 Poynette and No. 2 Beloit-Turner – do not have as strong of resume as the top bracket’s 1 and 2 teams.
Poynette (13-8) Struggled at times in the Capitol-North finishing 6-4 in conference play. Senior Cody Odegaard has the ability to take over a game and the Pumas will need that leadership to reach the sectional tournament.
Turner (13-8 overall) finished fifth in the Rock Valley-South. The only team it ranked ahead of was Palmyra-Eagle (1-20). Luckily for them, the Trojans play P-E to start regional play.
The early favorite to claim the sectional crown is Cuba City. However, if the Cubans fall, look for whoever claims the top regional to claim the sectional title. The top bracket is more loaded than the bottom.