There are still three more weeks of play before Cutoff Weekend, but five Big Central Conference schools currently hold one of the top two positions in their respective supersections, meaning they would get top seeds in the playoffs if they started today.
- In North 5, Union sits second with a UPR of 2.8, behind Clifton. Westfield is 5th with a UPR of 6.6, and has taken a fall with two straight losses.
- South 5 finds undefeated Hillsborough in second with a UPR of 2.4. Old Bridge is 4th with a 3.8 UPR.
- In North 4, Woodbridge sits in 2nd with a 2.6 UPR.
- In North 3, undefeated Cranford is tops with a 1.6 UPR, ahead of River Dell (2.6).
- In South 2, unbeaten Delaware Valley has a UPR of 3.4 and is in second.
The top two teams in each supersection become the top seeds in the eight team sections once they’re seeded. The top 16 teams in each supersection make the playoffs. Most supersections have about 30 teams, except for the North ones, which each have a few teams missing. That’s because their placement in certain conference divisions came with the stipulation that they be ineligible for the playoffs.
As for a full breakdown, here’s a closer look, section by section:
North Group 5:
We mentioned Union as the second seed at the moment. They moved up a spot from second by jumping one rank each in OSI and power points. OSI is worth .6 points, and power points are worth .4 points. Jumping one spot in each shaved one full point off their UPR, from a 3.8 to a 2.8.
Only 3.8 UPR points separate the Farmers and Westfield, which they just beat Friday night. The Blue Devils are in fifth, still within striking distance. And with Hillsborough next on the schedule (Saturday, noon on CJSR) they could make a big jump with a win.
Bridgewater-Raritan moved up one place with its win over Phillipsburg, raising the Panthers from 10th to 9th, with the ‘Liners dropping from 8th to 11th. Don’t forget, it’s not just what a winning or losing team does, but the teams around them, too.
Elizabeth dropped from 11th to 14th with its loss to Old Bridge, while idle Plainfield gained a spot to 17th, though they are 3.6 UPR points behind Columbia, which is in 16th.
Interesting to note, Piscataway moved from 22 to 19 with their loss to North Brunswick, a high Strength Index team. The loss raised their OSI from 30.49 to 32.39. If they could string a few wins together, they would make the playoffs. If not, it would be their first time missing the playoffs under head coach Dan Higgins, and the program’s first time without a postseason berth since 1996.
South Group 5:
HIllsborough’s win over Ridge propelled the Raiders from fourth to second, but two teams are right on their trail, so it’s likely they’ll have to keep on winning, maybe even win out, to get one of the top seeds. They’re just 1.4 UPR points behind first-place Manalapan, with a 2.4 UPR.
Williamstown is close at 3.6, with Old Bridge fourth with a UPR or 3.8. The Knights may have too weak a schedule to earn a top seed, with JP Stevens and Perth Amboy left. The question is could a win at Hillsborough next weekend counter that? If the Raiders keep winning otherwise, it could. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.
Seventh is North Brunswick. The Raiders are at Edison Friday (7pm on CJSR), and also need to keep winning to stay in the top eight. Those teams get first round home games through the sectional semifinals.
Their rival, South Brunswick, is in 11th, but not entirely safe. The 17th seed Atlantic City is only 4.6 UPR points behind. (Note: this was written before Atlantic City’s Monday night game against Cherry Hill East.)
Edison also is on the bubble, but at least on the inside, in 13th; East Brunswick is two places behind them, but just 1.2 UPR points behind. A win or loss at this point of the season can make or break a team like the Bears or Eagles.
What’s wild here is Monroe, which was off to a 3-0 start, albeit against Franklin, JP Stevens and Hamilton, is in 25th place, nine out of a playoff spot.
That schedule does them no favors, especially now after two straight losses to Old Bridge and South Brunswick. Despite being 3-2, the Falcons are behind teams like winless Rancocas Valley (0-4, 19th), Vineland (1-4, 20th), and Howell (1-3, 23rd).
Woodbridge holds steady in second this week, though their UPR dropped from 2.0 to 2.6. And Middletown South has closed the gap to 0.2 points (2.8). Colonia’s win over Linden made the Patriots one of this week’s biggest UPR gainers, climbing from 10th to 7th, going from a 10.2 UPR to 6.6. That just goes to show how big a big win can be.
Also interesting to note is Sayreville, which did not play, pulled up from 12th to 8th by sitting at home. They picked up a bunch of residuals to improve their power point average from 11 to 13, and their OSI went from 50.13 to 52.16 as they teams they played increased their Strength Index overall. The Bombers’ UPR, as a result, went from 11.4 to 8.2, a pickup of 3.2 points. A lot can happen quickly in the world of UPR, even solely based on other teams.
Ridge dropped into a tight pack (down three spots) in slots 11 through 16, with Linden 13th (a big drop from 6th with the loss to Colonia), Scotch Plains-Fanwood down a spot to 15th and North Hunterdon down one to 16th.
No movement for Cranford, still in first, but behind the undefeated Cougars (4-0), River Dell, West Morris and West Essex are breathing down their neck.
Summit is up a spot from 8th to 7th, while Warren Hills moved up two spots with a win.
North Plainfield got its second win and it moved the Canucks to within two spots of the playoffs, 3 UPR points out of 16th behind Old Tappan.
Despite the fact they keep on winning, Somerville failed to move up this week. The Pioneers are 4-1, holding in 9th, and their UPR dropped to 8.6 (remember, lower numbers are better) from a 7.2 after a win over South Plainfield.
Idle Rahway climbed from 20th to 18th, just two UPR points out of a playoff spot, as their OSI and power point average both increased.
Bernards has been so good for a while now, Delaware Valley’s win over the Mountaineers propelled them from 6th to 2nd in the standings, behind Point Pleasant Boro. Bernards, meanwhile, moved down to 7th from 4th. They’re a team that has been hurt by power points in the past, so every win down the back nine of the season is critical.
In fact, things are so tight, they’re tied with New Providence and Nottingham for 7th with UPRs of 8.4 each.
Hillside won last week, but the Comets shutout win over Governor Livingston actually dropped them (and other teams passed them) from 9th to 12th.
The only team in contention here, Brearley, held steady in 12th despite the loss to New Providence. Not a safe bet for the playoffs by any stretch, they have two tough games coming up at home against Bernards and at Bound Brook. Those wins might be imperative because victories in their final two games over Dunellen and Dayton still might hurt them.
South Hunterdon dropped two spots from 11th to 9th after a blowout of Highland Park (low SI).
Middlesex’s second win of the season pulled the Blue Jays higher, going from 15th to 13th, and feel-good story Manville is now on the right side of the bubble. A 28-27 win over Dayton propelled them from 20th to 15th in the standings, improving their UPR from 19.8 to 15. Three of their last four opponents will hurt their cause, even with wins, leaving their October 22nd game at Bound Brook virtually a must-win, we think.