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
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.