Cutoff Weekend starts with tomorrow night’s games under the lights, and Central Jersey Sports Radio is taking a look at every team in the Big Central to see where we think they’ll land in the playoffs.
We’re not looking at too many tiebreakers just yet, and even adding the few residuals to be had can make for infinitely more possibilities – although there are none up for grabs from any Big Central opponents at this point – so we’re not doing those either. But we are looking at where we think teams will fall in the top 16.
We’ll have two live shows Saturday to give you the very latest. The first is tentatively scheduled for 11 am, as Mike Pavlichko hosts a Playoff Update show, factoring in all the Friday night games. Then, our second annual Playoff Projection airs at 6 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio for all our unofficial pairings. Click here to listen to both shows.
Below is our analysis, with each team’s current ranking in the UPR standings noted.
Top Seeds: There are no undefeated teams here, but it looks like Woodstown and Woodbury have a lock on the top two spots, no matter what happens in their games this weekend. If both lose or both win, Woodbury appears to get the top seed. Woodstown would have to win and get a loss out of Woodbury to get the top seed.
#4 Manville: The Mustangs should finish 8-1, easily dispatching of Bound Brook, which is winless, has scored 18 points all year in seven games, and no more than six points in any single game this season. So, we’re not even going to go with what happens with a loss so Pat Gorbatuk can keep the Rolaids in his glove compartment for now. This is certainly better than last year, when at 6-2, Manville missed the playoffs with a weak schedule. This year’s was better from the Big Central, and picking up a Week Zero game against Keyport – which they won – turned out to be a boon, too. All that aside, though, having Bound Brook this final week will hurt them, even with a win. And we don’t think Manville can stay in the top four, even with losses by teams like Salem and Maple Shade. The trouble is, they would need losses by both Paulsboro and Audubon. So unless a bus breaks down somewhere in deep South Jersey, we peg the Mustangs for anywhere from a fifth to seventh place finish overall. We believe It would be fifth if both Maple Shade and Salem lose, sixth if Salem wins and Maple Shade loses, and seventh is Maple Shade wins and Salem loses. Either way, hosting a first-round playoff game at 8-1 is a far cry from going 6-2 and missing altogether.
#12 South Hunterdon: The Eagles play at New Hope/Solebury, their Pennsylvania rivals, so this game won’t count in the UPR standings. It’s all up to their opponents. We think their range is as high as nine if Florence, Asbury Park and Keyport all lose, and as low as 12th if they all win. Any other combo should put them right in the middle of that range somewhere, pending residuals, and on the road in any eventuality in the first round.
#16 Middlesex: The Blue Jays visit New Providence Friday night, and just like the other way around, this is an even game, so it doesn’t really move the needle much. But they still need it; a loss eliminates them, according to our calculations. With a win, Middlesex would stay in 16th without any other games added, and they’ll need help: namely, losses by Buena or Penns Grove (Schalick and Clayton behind them can’t jump that high, and appear irrelevant). Buena (2-5) visits 5-2 Glassboro Friday while Penns Grove (2-6) is at 6-1 Woodstown). So both those losses are fairly likely.