After looking at the girls' basketball playoff picture yesterday, let's take a look at how some of the boys' regions are shaping up. Some are clear-cut and some are still pretty murky.
As always, there should be a few surprises, but here's how these region races are likely to take shape:
Region 1: Only a few months ago, who could've predicted Northridge would be in first place with three games to go? Of course, that will be a tough seed to hold onto: The Knights face Fremont, Weber and Davis in their last games, and the only bright side is two of the three are at home. The Silver Wolves and the Warriors both sit a game back at 5-2, and the Darts 4-3. Of these three, Weber has the easiest schedule, facing Syracuse and Layton at home - if they can beat Northridge as well to win out, they'll get the top seed. Fremont has two of its last three on the road and has to face Davis, but it shouldn't fall below the third seed. The Darts have an uphill climb to improve their station, but they're at least guaranteed a berth.
Region 2: This is mostly set: Viewmont will be the top seed with one more win, and Hunter needs to beat one of the bottom three teams to clinch No. 2. Both of those events are pretty much a guarantee given the relatively sub-par state of basketball in this region. Kearns and West are tied at 3-4 at the moment, and the Cougars have an easier path to win the third seed, with games against Taylorsville and Granger. The Panthers need to beat Granger at home to assure themselves a berth - if the Lancers lose after that, they're out.
Region 3: This Friday's game amounts to a region championship: West Jordan must beat Alta on the road to get ahead in the region race and validate their ranking. The Jags already boast an 11-point win over the Hawks earlier in the season, so they'll be favored. But there's still a number of tough games ahead for them: They finish the season against Brighton - which beat them earlier this season - and Jordan. Alta also faces Brighton, but they'll have a fairly easy second-to-last game against Cottonwood, so beating West Jordan would be an almost assured path to the region championship. Brighton is unlikely to fall below No. 3 with a three-game lead, and could grab No. 2 or even No. 1 by winning out. Jordan and Copper Hills are still clawing for the final berth, facing each other at Copper Hills on Feb. 17. The Grizzlies have the easier path - its other games are against Brighton and Cottonwood, while Jordan faces the Jaguars.
Region 4: American Fork gets what really is the last legitimate shot at 7-0 Lone Peak, hosting the Knights at home on Friday. If the Cavemen don't win, Lone Peak is all but guaranteed a region title with its final games coming at home to Lehi and Bingham. American Fork would have to choke down the stretch as well to lose the No. 2 seed - something that seems unlikely with final games at home with Bingham and on the road at lowly Pleasant Grove. The Miners are in solid position for No. 3 now, but have to go on the road for games against the top two teams. If Bingham loses to Riverton on Friday, it faces the serious possibility of losing out, and perhaps even missing the playoffs if Riverton and Lehi keep winning. The Pioneers almost assuredly are in, with a one-game lead over the Siverwolves and a game against Pleasant Grove. Riverton will need to win out, including in a game hosting Lehi, to even be in the conversation. The Vikings also technically could make it, but the chances aren't good.
Region 5: Ugly, ugly, ugly. Sky View leads, Logan is one game back, but after those two are three teams sitting at 3-3. All this region has done is beat up on itself. Looking at schedules, the chances seem good that the Bobcats could clinch. Their toughest games against Logan and Mountain Crest are at home. But the Grizzlies also have a fairly easy schedule, facing Box Elder, Bonneville and Roy among their last four. If Logan can beat Sky View on Feb. 15, that would give them a strong chance at an outright championship. Out of the three middle teams, a lot has to play out. It seems the Mustangs have the best chance of clinching a No. 3 seed - maybe a No. 2 if Logan trips up - because they host their competitors. Between Box Elder and Bonneville, it's a toss-up. The Lakers have the tougher opponents, but the Bees have their last three on the road. Any way you look at it, there's liable to be at least one coin flip that determines the seeding in this region.
Region 6: The Braves are on a winning path, needing victories over Cyprus, Highland and Woods Cross to finish the region season undefeated. Bountiful crushed all of these teams the first time around - it will be the No. 1 seed. The inconsistent Rams are slated for No. 2 with a one-game lead, but they'll have an incredibly tough schedule, including Bountiful and East on the road. The Leopards have the easier path to No. 3, and could jump Highland for No. 2: They'll get both Cyprus and Clearfield in their final three games, and that should cure their recent cold streak. With a game against the Falcons as well, Woods Cross could pass the Rams if it can get a win on Friday. But either way, those top four are all but guaranteed the playoff spots - the Pirates and Falcons are too far back.
Region 7: Skyline and Olympus are tied at 6-1, with a surprising Herriman team sitting in second at 5-2. The region basically hinges on the Titans-Eagles game on Feb. 17 - whoever wins has the fast track to the championship. The Mustangs can improve their standing with two of its final games coming against Skyline and Olympus, but it will be a tough feat on the road against the Titans, and the Eagles are seeking revenge for their only region loss. The safe bet is Herriman clinches the No. 3 spot. Hillcrest has a lead over bottom-feeders Murray and Westlake, and almost certainly will get the last spot with the easiest possible schedule to finish the season.
Region 8: Orem has a two-game lead on the field and will almost certainly win region, racking up a 10-0 region record to this point. Provo has a tough upcoming schedule with three straight road games but has beaten every team except the Tigers already - the Bulldogs should seal up the No. 2 spot by winning at least two of the last four. Springville is almost guaranteed to be in, and can clinch a berth with two wins. The Red Devils face last-place Salem Hills, and their two toughest games against Timpview and Provo are at home. The Thunderbirds are slated for No. 4, but has a tough closing schedule, facing the top three teams with its three last games on the road. Between Maple Mountain and Mountain View, the Golden Eagles seem more likely to jump Timpview if it falters down the stretch. Maple Mountain has games against Timpanogos and the Skyhawks, and also gets Springville at home.
Region 10: By Saturday, it's all over - but this region is just about done as it is. Judge has won the region, Wasatch is No. 2, and Park City will be No. 3. The only thing that could change is Uintah could force a coin flip by beating Juan Diego at home on Friday. Don't bet on it, because the Soaring Eagle has already beaten the Utes this season.
Region 14: If South Summit can beat the Braves tonight, it's simple - the Wildcats are No. 1, Waterford will likely beat Maesar Prep to be No. 2, and North Summit will fall to No. 3. If the Braves win at home, there will be three teams at 6-2, with each having beaten each other once. Coin flips will decide seeding in that case. But South Summit beat its rival pretty convincingly last time - give them the edge to win. Maesar and Rowland Hall will likely have a play-in game to determine who gets to play in the tournament.
Region 17: There's still a lot of basketball left, but it seems almost inconceivable that Layton Christian could lose this region after pounding its opponents in the first go-around. Intermountain Christian and West Ridge Academy will battle for the last two seeds. The Lions have the edge, having beaten the Jayhawks once already this season.
- Kyle Goon