Regional Saturday is an epic day. There is none of this "win, get a day off, then win again" to make it to the last 16. Nope. At 16 sites across the state four teams will enter and only one will leave as a regional champ. Win your first game and you get a few hours off before you're at it again on the same floor against a team that also had to survive a morning game.
The Final 64 teams are already mostly survivors. Two teams, Northwestern and Northview in Class 3A, have bucked the odds and won sectionals with a losing record overall. Conventional wisdom says that they won't survive the weekend. There has never been a state champion with double-digit losses in the 105 year history of the tournament. Only twice has a team ever even made it to the championship game with double-digit losses. Your "worst" champions were Lafayette Central Catholic (2003 Class A) and Bowman Academy (2013 Class 2A) who were both 18-9 after their title wins. They are the only teams since the 1910s in the early days of the tournament to win it all without winning 20 games total.
Michigan City Regional
South Bend Riley (22-5) vs. No. 5 Warsaw (23-1)
East Chicago Central (18-5) vs. Crown Point (18-8)
The standout player here is Crown Point's Grant Gelon, who is a 2016 signee for Indiana. South Bend Riley was the surprise winner here a year ago, however, as they stunned Northridge and Crown Point to reach the semi-state with a 12-14 overall record before falling to Homestead. Warsaw is a historically strong program with five state finals appearances, most recently in 2010. That was also the last time they won a regional. East Chicago already beat Crown Point by 7 this year, and they are making their best run since E'Twaun Moore and Kawann Short led them to the Class 4A title in 2007.
Homestead (20-5) vs. Carroll (22-6)
No. 4 McCutcheon (25-3) vs. Carmel (17-8)
This field should be excellent. In the opener you have the defending state champion in Homestead minus Caleb Swanigan. They have won this regional two years in a row, while Carroll has already played them twice. The teams split the two meetings, so they are very familiar with each other. In the other morning game 2018 target Robert Phinisee faces Carmel minus Ryan Cline. Carmel is as tested as they come without a single bad loss among their eight. They are the only team to beat Warsaw this year, but they have a loss to Carroll. McCutcheon has not won a regional since 2001, but did win a sectional last year. In fact, this is the exact same field in this regional from last year when it was played at Marion, with the same semifinal matchups and everything. Last year it was Homestead beating Carmel in the championship 41-37 as Cline and Swanigan faced off.
No. 3 North Central (22-3) vs. Terre Haute South (21-6)
Connersville (21-5) vs. No. 9 Southport (20-6)
Everyone is hoping for a Southport-North Central final featuring Kris Wilkes of North Central against Paul Scruggs of Southport. They are two of the best players in the 2017 class and Purdue is going hard after both. Southport has the advantage of both playing at home and having beaten both North Central (70-48) and Terre Haute South (79-59) this season. They haven't been this far in 16 years, however, and haven't won a regional since 1990. Connersville hasn't won a sectional since 1997 or a regional since 1989. Don't be surprised if Matt Painter shows up here Saturday night.
No. 1 New Albany (23-1) vs. No. 10 Bloomington South (21-4)
Franklin Central (18-6) vs. No. 7 Evansville Reitz (21-4)
Evansville Reitz was the state runner-up to Homestead last season in overtime and they are the highest scoring team in the state at 80.8 points per game. Franklin Central averages over 68 per game, so that should be high scoring. New Albany averages over 77 points per game led by 2018 Purdue target Romeo Langford. They have not lost since December 12th against Pike. They also beat Bloomington South by 4 and Reitz by 9 during the season.
No. 5 Mishawaka Marian (21-4) vs. Twin Lakes (20-6)
Northwestern (10-12) vs. No. 3 Griffith (23-3)
Griffith should have a pretty easy time at least reaching the final, as Northwestern was the beneficiary of a weak sectional and favorable draw. They are just 7-11 after a 3-1 start. Griffith won this regional last season on its way to a state runner-up finish. Mishawaka Marian has some unfinished business after going undefeated last season before getting upset by South Bend St. Joseph in the sectional. Twin lakes is making its third straight regional appearance, but has never won a regional.
Marion (19-7) vs. Columbia City (20-6)
No. 1 NorthWood (23-2) vs. Angola (25-2)
Don't let the record fool you. Marion has played a very rugged schedule and is led by Reggie Jones and Vijay Blackmon, two of the best uncommitted seniors in the state. They are going to run and shoot, plus they are playing at home. They are pretty much an analogue to Indiana in that when I saw them early on they played little defense and Blackmon shoots a lot like his older brother, but they have gotten much better as the year went on.
Northview (13-14) vs. Tri-West (20-6)
Brebeuf Jesuit (16-9) vs. No. 2 Park Tudor (20-4)
Expect Park Tudor to be heavily favored here. Their four losses were to Pike Central in overtime, Lawrence Central, Franklin Central, and North Central. Since there are no other "Centrals" here it's easy. Jaren Jackson, a 2017 Purdue target, leads Park Tudor and has been a major contributor the last two years when they won the 2A state championship each season. They already own a 47-39 win over Brebeuf and a 48-46 win over Tri-West. Tri-West has the unique plus of having played all three opponents this year, beating Northview but losing to Park Tudor and Brebeuf.
Greensburg (16-7) vs. No. 8 Silver Creek (21-4)
Evansville Bosse (16-10) vs. Pike Central (20-5)
Greensburg has experience, but the bulk of their 2013 and 2014 state championship teams like Ryan Welage and Bryant McIntosh are gone. Pike Central won just their second sectional ever and first since 1997, when they also won a regional. Don't discount their win over Park Tudor, either. That gives them instant legitimacy. Silver Creek is pretty legitimate too, having played New Albany and many of the other southern big schools. They have not won a regional since 2000.
Marquette Catholic (19-8) vs. No. 9 Hammond Noll (18-7)
Ft. Wayne Canterbury (14-10) vs. Westview (13-11)
This is an admittedly weak field with three private schools, but Marquette Catholic is playing up from Class A after winning the title there in 2014 and finishing as runner-up in 2015. They lost by 10 to Hammond once this year already. Hammond Noll won this regional last season and reached Indy in 2011. They lost by two in the semi-state last season, so getting there again is obviously doable.
No. 3 Oak Hill (22-3) vs. Covington (16-9)
Eastern (Greentown) (21-5) vs. No. 2 Lapel (22-4)
If you want a fun little regional to watch go here. All four are small public schools and there are lots of storylines. Lapel is in the middle of its best season since winning it all in 2005 at the Class A level. Oak Hill has had a great season with losses only to Marion, Peru, and Frankton. They are making their second straight regional appearance. Covington had the heartbreak of going 22-1 last season, but lost to Lafayette Central Catholic in their regional. Then you have Eastern, which won its first sectional in 60 years and is having its best season in decades, if not ever. One of their five losses was to Oak Hill by 7, but they upset Tipton when they were No. 1 in 3A and can definitely play ball. Normally they would be elated just to make it this far, but they are a team that can shoot and really do some damage. Their 21-5 record comes just two years after going 5-18, as for years it was more common to see them with just five wins instead of five losses.
Cloverdale (19-7) vs. No. 4 Northeastern (22-4)
Indianapolis Broad Ripple (18-7) vs. No. 7 Indianapolis Howe (20-7)
Howe is completely loaded with multi-sport athletes that almost took them to the football state finals before losing in the semi-state. Howe has not won a regional since 1981, and for a long portion of time the east side school was closed. They have a 75-68 loss to Broad Ripple, who is searching for its first regional title since 1983. Northeastern has never won a regional and until three years ago, had never won a sectional. Their last two seasons have ended here, despite a cumulative 44-5 record coming in. They should get past Cloverdale, setting up a high scoring final where both teams are averaging close to 70 points per game.
Providence (17-7) vs. South Spencer (17-8)
No. 6 Linton-Stockton (22-4) vs. North Decatur (18-6)
Linton-Stockton is the only ranked team here, and they are still a bit of a surprise. They came out of Barr-Reeve's sectional, where the No. 1 ranked Vikings were stunned in the opener by South Knox. South Knox then took Linton-Stockton to five overtimes before losing. South Spencer has not won a regional since 1994, while Providence and Linton-Stockton have both recently won regionals. Linton-Stockton was in the Class 2A title game in 2013 and reached the semi-state last year before falling to Park Tudor.
North Judson Regional
No. 7 Gary 21st Century (18-6) vs. Triton (18-7)
Fort Wayne Blackhawk (16-11) vs. No. 6 South Newton (23-2)
Gary is ranked, but Triton is one of the best 1A teams in Indiana year-in, year-out. They have made four trips to the state finals since 2008, winning it all once. Just a few years ago South Newton was on a 48 game losing streak, going from March 3, 2010 to January 3, 2013 without a victory. Now they have won a sectional for the first time in 15 years.
No. 10 Lafayette Central Catholic (16-9) vs. North Vermillion (19-9)
No. 1 Liberty Christian (22-4) vs. No. 2 Seton Catholic (23-3)
What will Desmond Bane do this week? For the third year in a row Seton Catholic and Liberty Christian will meet in the regional. Liberty Christian has won both times 51-47 and 83-55. Since the two share a conference Liberty Christian has won both of those meetings as well. Last season Liberty Christian won 91-28 in the regular season but Seton closed it to 51-47 in the regional. This year Liberty Christian already won 55-49, so this is the last chance for Seton and Bane to beat their nemesis. If they do get through the morning session, football commit Jackson Anthrop and Central Catholic will probably be waiting.
Southwestern (14-10) vs. No. 4 Indianapolis Tindley (21-5)
No. 3 Bloomfield (23-3) vs. No. 9 Indianapolis Arlington (20-5)
This is a stacked field with three ranked teams. It features a charter school from Indy, a re-developed Indy public school, and two tiny public schools in southern Indiana. Bloomfield is the strongest historically with 25 sectional crowns even before class basketball started. They haven't won a regional since 1999, however. Arlington is the first school to win a sectional in 4A and 1A, as their enrollment has dropped drastically due to IPS restructuring.
Rock Creek Academy (16-8) vs. Wood Memorial (19-8)
West Washington (18-8) vs. North Daviess (14-11)
With Barr-Reeve's move up to 2A and Loogootee in a down year this regional is wide open, as normally it is the domain of those two schools. North Daviess is the only one of the four to ever win a regional, doing so in 2009 and 2011. Whoever does win will likely be a major underdog the next week against the winner at Martinsville.