The boss doesn't like really long blog entries.
I was going to write about what had to happen Tuesday for New Trier to upset Simeon in the Chicago State Supersectional, but I'm about to spend a weekend in Peoria with him and don't want to start the trip on the wrong foot.
Suffice it to say the No. 11 Trevians, impressive as they were in beating ranked opponents on back-to-back nights to win the Glenbrook North Sectional, will be the biggest underdog of all the teams bidding to get downstate.
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Simeon Vocational High School, Chicago, IL 60620, USA
Proviso East High School, 807 South First Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153, USA
West Aurora High School, 1201 West New York Street, Aurora, IL 60506, USA
Marian Catholic High School, 700 Ashland Avenue, Chicago Heights, IL 60411, USA
Adlai E. Stevenson High School, 1 Stevenson Drive, Lincolnshire, IL 60069, USA
Morgan Park High School, Chicago, IL 60643, USA
Hillcrest High School, 17401 Crawford Avenue, Country Club Hills, IL 60478, USA
North Chicago Community High School, 1717 17th Street, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA
Orr Academy High School, 730 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, IL 60624, USA
Not only are they giving up a ton of size to No. 1 Simeon, from what I can tell, only one New Trier player belongs on the same court with Simeon from an athleticism standpoint.
Factor in the March groove Simeon and Jabari Parker once again find themselves in, and this will be a tough road for New Trier, which has had a fine season.
We'll call it Simeon 73, New Trier 50 and look at the rest of Tuesday night's action, including Class 3A, which is finally a tournament now that the teams that belong in 4A have separated themselves.
No. 4 Proviso East (28-3) vs. No. 10 West Aurora (24-6): Proviso East has yet to be challenged in the postseason. In fact, last year's 4A runner-up has not played a game that has come down to the final possession all season. The Pirates' 50-46 win over Benet in a Proviso West Tournament quarterfinal was their closest margin of victory all season, followed by the 66-59 victory over Hinsdale Central on Feb. 20.
Yes, this means East is very good, but there's no question the Pirates' schedule hasn't been as strong as the state's other top teams. While not as talented as Proviso, West Aurora is very good and is battle-tested. The Blackhawks have played a lot of close games. Perhaps that's partly because they tend to play down to their competition, but that won't be a concern here. After beating Oswego and Benet by a combined five points, they will be full of the confidence necessary to pull off the upset. Guard Jontrell Walker won't be intimidated by East's pressure, Josh McAuley will be the game's best big man and the Thomas twins are grinders who do the little things that often determine close games. Unless Proviso wins by double digits.
Helfgot's pick: West Aurora 63-62.
No. 6 Marian Catholic (29-3) vs. Edwardsville (29-2): Rather than just tell you what the Internet could have — that Edwardsville is ranked No. 5 by AP in Class 4A, does not allow a lot of points, has not been challenged in the postseason and blew out a good Rock Island team in the sectional final — I called my Edwardsville guy. And he told me Edwardsville's had a great season, plays good defense and has been very impressive in the offseason. Maybe the guy in that State Farm commercial really is a French model. What the Internet can't do is break down the backcourt matchup, which is what will decide this game because both teams are dominated by guards. Of course, neither can I. Marian's 5-8 junior Tyler Ulis is as good as they come, and he's been getting ample support. Edwardsville has three guards who will play in college, led by Western Illinois recruit Garret Covington. For consistency's sake, let's go with the team that's played the tougher schedule.
Helfgot's pick: Marian Catholic 55-53.
No. 7 Stevenson (27-4) vs. Rockford Boylan (22-8): Jeff Van Gundy is so entertaining as an analyst, he makes regular-season NBA games not involving the Bulls watchable. If he were announcing state playoff games, I have no doubt this would be among the rule changes he'd call for: Take the entire DeKalb Sectional, and swap it with the Class 3A Riverside-Brookfield Sectional. Then he would throw North Chicago, Morgan Park and Hillcrest in 4A too. Then he would talk about his utter disdain for the four-class system. Love that guy.
Helfgot's pick: Stevenson 73-55. .
No. 2 Morgan Park (30-3) vs. No. 18 Hillcrest (24-6): Morgan Park beat Simeon. Recently. Yes, Simeon also beat Morgan Park, but Morgan Park beat Simeon. Nobody else in Illinois has. Morgan Park has more than a half-dozen Division-I caliber players in its program. But it doesn't have a big enough enrollment to play in 4A. I hear ya, Jeff, I hear ya.
Helfgot's pick: Morgan Park 86-69.
No. 5 Orr (27-3) vs. No. 8 North Chicago (28-3): This could be the game of the night. When North Chicago is right, the Warhawks are as entertaining and as difficult to stop as anybody. As talented as they've ever been, the Warhawks' promising season was nearly ruined by turmoil — on and off the court. Their regional and sectional competition was tantamount to a bye into the supersectionals, but by actually playing the games perhaps North Chicago has found some chemistry. Orr's season also has been unusual. Legal and disciplinary problems have prevented the Spartans from reaching their full potential, but they still were good enough to kill it against out-of-state competition and beat Young on the road to win the Red West. I don't like either team in a big spot, but I'll go with the one who's won here before.
Helfgot's pick: North Chicago 72-69.