NorCal Open Division boys basketball predictions

The CIF will post brackets for the state basketball playoffs tomorrow at around 5 p.m. The most anticipated brackets are likely that of the inaugural Open Division. It’s hard to predict exactly how they will come out because there is no precedent. It’s the first year, so there are no trends, no insights into how the section commissioners will be thinking. Still, I’ll attempt to project who I think will be in the field. UPDATED: The CIF now expects to release the brackets by 5:30 p.m.


Salesian (30-3) — The NCS Division IV champions are the unquestioned top team in Northern California. They want to be in the Open Division, they deserve to be in the Open Division, they will be in the Open Division.

Archbishop Mitty (25-5) — The two-time defending Division II state champions also are a shoo-in. These are the types of teams the Open Division was designed for.

Bishop O’Dowd (26-3) — A little bit of a tough break for the Dragons, who have never won a state title in the current format. But there’s no questioning that they are in this class of teams and should be in the Open.

Sheldon (25-5) — The Huskies have the recent history that shows they belong here and are the best team in the Sac area.

Modesto Christian (28-3) — The Crusaders moved up to the Sac Joaquin Section Division III this year and won another section title, their 13th in 14 years.


Newark Memorial (23-7) — The NCS Division II champions would be a strong state contender in Division II, but it seems unlikely that they’ll get that shot. Too much good history from the Cougars to not put them in the Open.

De La Salle (25-4) — The Spartans bowed out in the NCS semifinals and that could keep them out of the Open, since champion Deer Valley and runner up San Leandro won’t be in the Open (neither are eligible). But De La Salle just seems like a fit for the Open, given their vast history of success.


McClymonds (21-7) — This one could get tricky. The Warriors possess history of success, including a Division I state title in 2008 and three straight trips to the D-1 finals (2007-09). And this McClymonds team is good, but not quite on the level of those others. They would definitely be the smallest enrollment school selected to the Open, if they are. I could see this one going either way.

Serra (25-5) — With a CCS Open Division title, I would’ve said they probably get bumped up. But without it, they seem to be a better fit to stay in Division II.

Also eligible, but don’t expect to get heavily considered:
Branson, El Cerrito, Oakland, Sacramento, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Joseph Notre Dame, University-SF

Final analysis

I think at least seven teams go to the Open, not necessarily (but possibly) in this order: Salesian, Mitty, O’Dowd, Sheldon, Modesto Christian, Newark Memorial, De La Salle. If there’s an eighth team, my money is on McClymonds. I still think that could go either way.

If the seeds worked out as listed, how can you not love those matchups in the first round? Mitty-De La Salle? O’Dowd-Newark? Sheldon-Modesto Christian? Even if Mack goes and plays Salesian in the first round. Those are some fun matchups. I, for one, can’t wait to see how it shakes out tomorrow.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • Prep Fan

    Good stuff Jimmy. I like your analysis and can’t wait for the Open either. You mention that neither DV or SL are eligible, but aren’t teams allowed to opt in? It would seem to me that D1 finalist teams that opt in would be good candidates. Especially the D1 champ DV.

  • mvalfan2

    Yeah i dont think De La will go open. They are better off staying in division 1! And i also think neward stay where it is! just my thoughts But Salesian is a Lock, O’Dowd may be getting pushed too early to go open. I would stay D3 if i were them. i dont think they can beat Mitty or Salesian!

  • You’re correct Prep Fan in that Deer Valley and San Leandro could opt in, but I would very much predict they wouldn’t. Those are very good public school teams who probably would like to take their shot at a deep NorCal run in D-1. I don’t believe San Leandro has ever gone to NorCals and Deer Valley hasn’t ever made any noise in NorCals before. I’m guessing they’ll be happy to be major Division I contenders.

  • mvalfan2

    Mack best bet is to stay D 1 also, they aren’t close to that good!

  • ssmith

    the main problem is letting in teams to nor cal that dont deserve to get in because of some team moving us to open a prime example monta vista who only played one ncs game and lost could possibley get in nor cal what a joke the whole system is ajoke if that happensssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  • Excellent predictions; can’t disagree with you.
    My understanding, though, is that if CIF puts a team in the Open, they gotta play in it and not their regular division: they have no choice in the matter.
    In principle, I like the idea of an Open Division. However, I’m nearly always cheering for the North over the South in the State Championships, and I’m afraid this could be a very tough year for the North.(Hope I’m wrong).
    The best NorCal teams can nearly always compete (and even beat) the best SoCal teams in every division. But, the SoCal divisions nearly always have many more “outstanding” teams in most divisions (especially the larger ones) than the NorCal divisions. Also, the Southern Section (where most of the “outstanding” teams are) is allowed only 4 teams (however, 2/3 to 3/4 of the teams south of the Chowchilla are in the Southern Section) which leaves plenty of “outstanding” teams to play in the regular SoCal divisions. In NorCal it gets pretty lean after the top 2 or 3 in most of the divisions.
    Another problem for the North is that most of the SoCal schools are considerably larger than the NorCal schools in the same CIF divisions. I’m sure this is the main reason along with the South having almost twice as many high school basketball teams, why the South has dominated CIF Basketball Championships over the years, even with them being mostly played in Sacramento.
    Also, the CIF North tournaments have too many empty brackets (and even then they often have to “scrounge” for some tournament teams). This is not the case in the South tournaments and usually there are many “outstanding” teams left out, mainly from the Southern Section, from the CIF South playoffs.
    I would like to see CIF abandon the North-South format.
    Instead have the Southern and LA City sections take on the rest of the state for the CIF Basketball Championships. SS and LACS have about half of California’s high schools (and about 3/4 of those over 2000 students).
    If the championships were held in LA with this format, the attendance at the championship games would be much bigger than it has been. (My understanding is that the Open Division was created mainly to generate more interest and bigger attendance at the championship games which has been dwindling).
    Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the state playoffs turn out this year and what CIF does for the future.

  • mckbooth

    I don’t see De la Salle getting in. Not making the finals and having lost to Salisian already this year makes me think that there more hype than substance. I could see Deer Valley since they are playing well late. A sleeper that I think should get some consideration is Oakland. They pushed Odowd to double overtime and really got up and down the court.

  • Deer Valley will NOT go to the Open. They aren’t eligible and MaxPreps’ Mitch Stephens confirmed that Deer Valley will not ask to opt in to the Open (I can’t blame them). So Deer Valley will definitely be in Division I.

  • MVAL fan

    Does Newark have any wins against an open division level team? i know they have a few close losses, but a loss is a loss.

  • Jordan Bryant

    Keep hearing about Newark being 1 of the teams that will b selected to the open … How can that b if they don’t have any quality wins this year except beating Dublin 3 times ! They have 7 losses on the season and would b better off staying in Div 2 …losses to El Cerritto,Deer Valley, Pleasant Grove,Salesian

  • Judi

    Hey Jimmie!
    Is there info on the Girls Basketball Playoffs
    Judi Flannery

  • Scl alum

    Wow, the CIF has had a lot of milling to do this afternoon with the Nor Cal seedlings (almost 4:00 already)

  • Newark hasn’t beaten any Open Division level teams, but they only lost by a point to Salesian. Would they be better off staying in Division II? Of course. But that’s not exactly what the whole Open Division is about. It’s about putting the (up to) eight best teams in one bracket. I don’t think there’s any question that Newark is one of the eight best teams. Let’s be honest, EVERY team would be “better off” competing in its own division in terms of the chance to win a state title. But the point is to put all the dominant teams — teams that have a long history of success — together, which in effect also opens up the other divisions for some new teams to have a shot.

    All that said, I was just thinking early that there is a better chance than I originally thought that Newark could stay in D-2. I mean, they do have losses to two teams (Deer Valley and El Cerrito) that won’t be in the open. We’ll find out within the next hour though.

    And Judy, not yet. The brackets are expected out sometime before 5 p.m. We’ll get them posted as soon as possible once they are released.

  • Scl Alum,
    They say they’ll get them out by 5 p.m. That’s what they’ve had posted for a while now, so we know to expect to wait a while. Remember, all 10 section commissioners get together to do the brackets, so you have people from all over the state that have to travel to the same location. So I’m assuming you had people flying in this morning, since there were section title games late last night. The meeting probably doesn’t get started until noon or so.

  • Scl alum

    Jimmy, that’s a good point on the travel factor, etc.

  • hoops

    They should have just kept the old system that let teams move up to a higher division.All the good programs usually chose to do so.Now you have stupid situations like DLS maybe being in the open and Deer Valley not because they do not have the guts to play against the best.They have a 6-9 guy going to Kentucky and the best guard in the bay area and they want to hide from the best teams?

  • Prep Fan

    They kept DLS in D1 and just went with 7 in the Open division with Salesian getting a bye. A DLS-Salesian rematch in round one would have been a good one.

  • Prep Fan

    How did Miramonte boys get into NorCal D3 and not Campo. Both lost in the first round of NCS but Campo was the # 2 seed while the Mats were # 5?

  • Prep Fan…do you have a Brackets link?

  • PrepSportsFan

    Campo bowed out due to injuries to 2 starters, including leading scorer, O’Reilly.

  • MVAL44
  • Cool…thanks much for link MVAL44

  • Was surprised Newark was in Open Division…

  • Equinox271

    Did you notice that all the schools in the Open North except Newark Memorial are private, but in the Southern Open there are only 2 private schools.. It may come down to a private north school against a public south school.

  • Oh Boy

    Now that the Open is in place I expected to see prime time heavyweight matches. Best of the best stuff with D1 players everywhere that would make the other divisions look like JV games.

    Unfortunately the campaigning to stay out of the Open by teams is embarrassing. If Newark plays up then Deer Valley and DLS should be in too. This will get worse in following years when coaches learn the tricks

  • Prep Fan

    DLS didn’t need to or couldn’t opt in, since they were already qualified. The committee just decided to go with just 7 teams, but could have just as easily made it 8 and included them. It was my understanding that teams that qualified were not able to opt out. DV or SL did not qualify and would have had to opt in. Whether there was any active or passive lobbying done is anyone’s guess, but I’m sure all the sections’ commissioners’ phones were ringing off the hook all week from all kinds of people.

  • Junior

    -CalHi Sports reported that DV chose not to throw their hat into the Open tourney.
    -I’m sure the Spartans would have loved a second shot at Salesian, they lead them fairly late in the 4th quarter.
    -Anyone that has seen Newark live can understand why they are in the Open. They are very Open worthy.

  • Campo did not bow out due to injuries. It was a mistake on the part of NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon, who is working to correct it.

  • Junior

    Gil Lemmon must go. The NCS AD’s and coaches have to get rid of this guy.