March always is an intriguing time for basketball, but that will especially be true this season.
It’s difficult to get a good read on exactly who the best basketball team in the state is this season.
On the college level, I think the Saint Louis University Billikens could beat Mizzou anywhere except Columbia, which would make them the very best team in the state.
Mizzou seems to be unbeatable at home. On the road is a different story.
Speaking of Columbia, the Columbia College men’s basketball team currently is 30-0 in the NAIA ranks, but is not the best team in the state.
Teams like Maryville, Drury, Central Missouri and Lindenwood are having good seasons on the Division II level, but aren’t the best in the state.
With the right matchups, SLU could make a run in the NCAA Tournament. The Billikens are deep and can play defense.
On the high school level, it’s pretty much a toss-up, with one exception.
Incarnate Word is the dominant girls team in the state with a 25-0 record.
The Red Knights have won all of their games by double digits, except their season opener against Hoover, Ala., which ended up 59-56.
Unfortunately for our area Class 4 girls teams, Incarnate Word also is Class 4 this season, which just seems unfair.
It’s a tough break for the teams in Class 4 District 9, like Pacific, Sullivan, Borgia and Union, and some of the better Class 4 teams throughout the state, like Republic, West Plains, Westminster and MICDS.
Meanwhile, loving the fact that Incarnate Word is in Class 4 are the top Class 5 teams, like Truman, Rock Bridge, St. Joseph’s Academy and Parkway South.
If the Washington Lady Jays can win their district, Rock Bridge, or maybe Hickman, will be waiting in the sectional round.
Our area Class 4 district winner has a good shot to reach at least the state quarterfinals, where Republic likely will be waiting.
In the lower girls classes, New Haven, Hermann and St. James all won district titles and are hoping for a run in the state playoffs.
In Class 3, Hermann and St. James wouldn’t run into each other until the state championship game. Wouldn’t that be something?
Hermann has the tougher road with possible match ups against Blair Oaks in the quarterfinals and Saxony Lutheran in the semifinals.
St. James will be a dangerous team.
New Haven seems to have a workable road to Columbia in Class 2. The Lady Shamrocks could run into a strong Silex team in the semifinals, but that would be in Columbia.
Who’s the best boys team in the state? I have no idea.
I’ve seen a lot of good Class 5 teams, like Washington, Waynesville, CBC, Hazelwood Central, Rock Bridge and DeSmet. You also have Hickman, Nixa, Blue Springs South, Lee’s Summit West and Rockhurst in the mix, among others.
If the Blue Jays can win their district this week, they likely will run into either Hickman or Rock Bridge in the sectional round.
I have no clue who will raise the Class 5 state trophy in Columbia.
The same goes for Class 4.
Borgia will be a tough team to eliminate, but you can’t count out the other area teams in the Pacific district.
Hillcrest could be the sectional opponent for our area Class 4 district champion.
Around the state, I’ve heard good things about Class 4 teams like Duchesne, Sikeston, St. Joe Lafayette, Republic, Mexico and Liberty North.
Madison, Maplewood, Charleston and Fatima are very good teams in Class 3. One of those teams likely will be the state champion.
Maplewood and Madison clash Wednesday in a sectional showdown with the runner likely to meet Charleston in the quarterfinals.
West Platte is 27-0 and the favorite in Class 2. Salisbury also is very good.
Drexel is 27-1 and the Class 1 favorite. Meadville also is a team to watch.