WPIAL bracketology: Chris Harlan, Don Rebel predict 2020 boys basketball playoff pairings

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Sunday, February 9, 2020 | 11:57 PM


It’s that time of year, WPIAL bracketology 2020.

As a public service, Don Rebel and Chris Harlan share their thoughts on what the basketball steering committee should do when putting this year’s postseason tournaments together. Sometimes it’s a struggle to choose between what the committee should do and what it probably will do. Those can be two different things.

So for your entertainment, we present our playoff seedings.

Don’t forget, find out what the real brackets look like Tuesday night during the HSSN Playoff Pairings Show at 7 p.m. on TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Overall records through Saturday are in parenthesis.

Class 6A

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Butler (16-4) — bye

No. 2 Fox Chapel (20-1) — bye

No. 3 Mt. Lebanon (16-5) — bye

No. 4 Upper St. Clair (19-3) — bye

No. 5 Pine-Richland (14-7) vs. No. 12 Connellsville (7-14)

No. 6 Bethel Park (13-8) vs. No. 11 North Allegheny (10-11)

No. 7 Central Catholic (12-10) vs. No. 10 Penn-Trafford (13-8)

No. 8 Hempfield (12-9) vs. No. 9 Peters Township (12-9)

Harlan: Fox Chapel could’ve lobbied for the No. 1 seed before losing to Upper St. Clair, 61-46, Friday. The Foxes held a lead late in the third quarter before USC surged ahead. How much will the WPIAL basketball committee punish them for that nonsection loss? Mt. Lebanon also lost last week to USC.

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Butler (16-4) — bye

No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (16-5) — bye

No. 3 Upper St. Clair (19-3) — bye

No. 4 Fox Chapel (20-1) — bye

No. 5 Pine-Richland (14-7) vs. No. 12 Connellsville (7-14)

No. 6 Central Catholic (12-10) vs. No. 11 Penn-Trafford (13-8)

No. 7 Bethel Park (13-8) vs. No. 10 North Allegheny (10-11)

No. 8 Hempfield (12-9) vs. No. 9 Peters Township (12-9)

Rebel: The Upper St. Clair victory over Fox Chapel on Friday really changed the look of this bracket. USC finished strong in the final week with wins over section champs Mt. Lebanon and the Foxes and earned the No. 3 seed. Everything else falls into place with an edge to Central Catholic over Bethel Park and Hempfield based on a strong nonsection schedule.

Class 5A

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Penn Hills (18-4) — bye

No. 2 Chartiers Valley (17-4) — bye

No. 3 Mars (17-4) — bye

No. 4 Thomas Jefferson (15-7) — bye

No. 5 McKeesport (11-10) vs. No. 12 West Allegheny (12-10)

No. 6 Shaler (13-9) vs. No. 11 Gateway (10-10)

No. 7 Laurel Highlands (13-7) vs. No. 10 Franklin Regional (11-11)

No. 8 South Fayette (13-7) vs. No. 9 Hampton (11-9)

Harlan: Penn Hills could draw the No. 1 seed on the strength of its nonsection schedule. The Indians own wins over Pine-Richland, Highlands and Aliquippa, as well as single-digit losses to Butler and Central Catholic. Chartiers Valley, which has a 13-game winning streak against Pennsylvania schools, can bolster its argument for the No. 1 seed with a win Monday against Mt. Lebanon.

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Mars (17-4) — bye

No. 2 Penn Hills (18-4) — bye

No. 3 Chartiers Valley (17-4) — bye

No. 4 Thomas Jefferson (15-7) — bye

No. 5 McKeesport (11-10) vs. No. 12 Franklin Regional (11-11)

No. 6 Laurel Highlands (13-7) vs. No. 11 West Allegheny (12-10)

No. 7 Shaler (13-9) vs. No. 10 Gateway (10-10)

No. 8 South Fayette (13-7) vs. No. 9 Hampton (11-9)

Rebel: Three strong section champs and some pretty good second- and third-place teams make this a tough bracket. I kept it pretty much status quo except for a bump to Laurel Highlands over Shaler. Titans struggled down the stretch while the Mustangs have had some impressive wins and some head-scratching losses.

Class 4A

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Highlands (19-3) — bye

No. 2 Uniontown (19-2) — bye

No. 3 Quaker Valley (16-5) — bye

No. 4. Knoch (18-3) — bye

No. 5 Blackhawk (11-10) vs. No. 12 Elizabeth Forward (7-13)

No. 6 Belle Vernon (16-6) vs. No. 11 Derry (7-14)

No. 7 New Castle (13-7) vs. No. 10 Mt. Pleasant (12-10)

No. 8 Ambridge (11-8) vs. No. 9 Ringgold (12-9)

Harlan: Quaker Valley and New Castle have reached the WPIAL finals three years in a row, but might this be the year that Highlands, Uniontown, Knoch or somebody else finally loosens Section 2’s grip on the classification? Highlands owns nonsection wins over playoff teams Lincoln Park, Shaler, Nazareth Prep, Gateway, Beaver Falls, McKeesport and Sewickley Academy. The Golden Rams deserve the No. 1 seed, unless the WPIAL basketball committee is living in the past. I like Knoch at No. 4; then the section co-champion could potentially rematch Highlands in the semifinals.

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Quaker Valley (16-5) — bye

No. 2 Highlands (19-3) — bye

No. 3 Knoch (18-3) — bye

No. 4 Blackhawk (11-10) — bye

No. 5 Uniontown (19-2) vs. No. 12 Derry (7-14)

No. 6 New Castle (13-7) vs. No. 11 Elizabeth Forward (7-13)

No. 7 Ambridge (11-8) vs. No. 10 Ringgold (12-9)

No. 8 Belle Vernon (16-6) vs. No. 9 Mt. Pleasant (12-10)

Rebel: Section 2 gets the traditional love with seeds 1, 4, 6 and 7. However, it’s not a lock that the section will enjoy its typical success of sending two teams to the finals like the last three years. This has been a strong year for Section 1 co-champs Highlands and Knoch. Uniontown’s resume is not as strong as the other section champs. Quaker Valley and New Castle have to be on opposite sides again, right?

Class 3A

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Lincoln Park (18-3) vs. No. 16 Deer Lakes (11-9)

No. 2 North Catholic (19-2) vs. No. 15 Shady Side Academy (10-10)

No. 3 South Allegheny (21-1) vs. No. 14 Avonworth (11-11)

No. 4 Seton LaSalle (14-6) vs. No. 13 McGuffey (15-6)

No. 5 Aliquippa (14-8) vs. No. 12 Southmoreland (11-11)

No. 6 Charleroi (15-6) vs. No. 11 Carlynton (14-7)

No. 7 Washington (15-6) vs. No. 10 Neshannock (14-7)

No. 8 Beaver Falls (13-7) vs. No. 9 Steel Valley (13-7)

Harlan: There seems to be little debate about the top three teams, all section champions with strong resumes. But the rest of the bracket could go any which way. Seton LaSalle has quality nonsection wins over Plum, West Allegheny, McKeesport and Bishop Canevin, along with single-digit losses to Thomas Jefferson (two points) and Sto-Rox (one point). Aliquippa and Beaver Falls finished tied for second in Section 1 but ended their schedules headed in different directions. The Quips won four of five and Beaver Falls lost three of four.

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Lincoln Park (18-3) vs. No. 16 Avonworth (11-11)

No. 2 North Catholic (19-2) vs. No. 15 Deer Lakes (11-9)

No. 3 South Allegheny (21-1) vs. No. 14 Southmoreland (11-11)

No. 4 Aliquippa (14-8) vs. No. 13 Shady Side Academy (10-10)

No. 5 Beaver Falls (13-7) vs. No. 12 McGuffey (15-6)

No. 6 Seton LaSalle (14-6) vs. No. 11 Neshannock (14-7)

No. 7 Charleroi (15-7) vs. No. 10 Carlynton (14-7)

No. 8 Washington (15-6) vs. No. 9 Steel Valley (13-7)

Rebel: We have an old-school full 16-team tournament in Class 3A. South Allegheny doesn’t have the fancy resume, but it has earned a top three seed with a dominating season in winning Section 3. Aliquippa, Beaver Falls and Seton LaSalle did not win their sections, but should be seeded higher than the Section 4 co-champs (Charleroi and Washington) due to strength of schedule.

Class 2A

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 OLSH (20-1) — bye

No. 2 Sto-Rox (15-6) — bye

No. 3 Jeannette (15-7) — bye

No. 4 Springdale (19-3) vs. No. 13 Sewickley Academy (7-12)

No. 5 Laurel (14-7) vs. No. 12 Winchester Thurston (10-10)

No. 6 Shenango (16-5) vs. No. 11 California (11-9)

No. 7 Serra Catholic (11-10) vs. No. 10 South Side (11-10)

No. 8 Brentwood (16-5) vs. No. 9 Apollo-Ridge (16-6)

Harlan: Sto-Rox started the season 3-6 but has won 12 consecutive games since that calendar turned to 2020. That streak includes wins over Springdale (72-49) and Seton LaSalle (79-78). Jeannette has a similar story. The Jayhawks started 1-6 but have won 14 of 15 since then.

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (20-1) — bye

No. 2 Jeannette (15-7) — bye

No. 3 Sto-Rox (15-6) — bye

No. 4 Springdale (19-3), vs. No. 13 Sewickley Academy (7-12)

No. 5 Laurel (14-7) vs. No. 12 Winchester Thurston (10-10)

No. 6 Shenango (16-5) vs. No. 11 California (11-9)

No. 7 Serra Catholic (11-10) vs. No. 10 South Side (11-10)

No. 8 Brentwood (16-5) vs. No. 9 Apollo-Ridge (16-6)

Rebel: Defending champion Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is a heavy favorite to repeat as district champ. Springdale is an interesting contender with one of the top players in the district in Demitri Fritch. The Dynamos could reach the title game or they could be bumped in Round 1, especially if they get matched up against a postseason regular in Sewickley Academy.

Class A

Chris Harlan’s bracket

No. 1 Vincentian Academy (18-4) — bye

No. 2 Bishop Canevin (17-4) — bye

No. 3 Cornell (15-5) — bye

No. 4 Nazareth Prep (15-7) vs. No. 13 West Greene (8-12)

No. 5 Greensburg Central Catholic (16-5) vs. No. 12 Eden Christian (12-9)

No. 6 Imani Christian (14-8) vs. No. 11 Union (12-8)

No. 7 Monessen (10-12) vs. No. 10 Leechburg (15-5)

No. 8 Geibel Catholic (13-8) vs. No. 9 Clairton (13-8)

Harlan: The top three teams in Section 1 could make a case for the top three seeds overall. Vincentian Academy is the clear No. 1, but Cornell and defending WPIAL champion Nazareth Prep played tough schedules. Cornell split with Vincentian. Nazareth Prep lost twice to Vincentian, but the difference was three and two points.

Don Rebel’s bracket

No. 1 Vincentian Academy (18-4) — bye

No. 2 Bishop Canevin (17-4) — bye

No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic (16-5) — bye

No. 4 Imani Christian (14-8) vs. No. 13 West Greene (8-12)

No. 5 Cornell (15-5) vs. No. 12 Geibel Catholic (13-8)

No. 6 Nazareth Prep (15-7) vs. No. 11 Monessen (10-12)

No. 7 Leechburg (15-5) vs. No. 10 Eden Christian (12-9)

No. 8 Clairton (13-8) vs. No. 9 Union (12-8)

Rebel: Vincentian Academy is a strong No. 1 seed. However this is a very deep tournament that should produce a lot of close games. Don’t be deceived by Monessen’s record as the team played an extremely tough schedule and could make another postseason run.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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