Now, the FCIAC truly is Bridgeport Central’s to lose.
The Hilltoppers have won five straight since their lone loss and have all but locked up the conference’s top spot, barring a collapse. With three games left in the regular season — one of which is non-conference, Friday at Cheyney Tech — the Hilltoppers (16-1, 15-1) are more than a full game up on second-place Greenwich (15-2, 13-2). The defending conference champs also own the tiebreaker on the previously unbeaten Cardinals after an ugly 53-45 win last week.
So, to no one’s surprise, the Hilltoppers will be the team to beat when the FCIAC tourney begins later this month. They’ve maintained that role since the start of the season after returning four starters off last year’s title run.
Currently sitting third is Ridgefield (13-3, 12-3), with Stamford and Westhill both a game behind at 11-4 in conference. The Black Knights beat their city rival last week to claim the pivotal head-to-head tiebreaker.
That’s all pretty clear, no? Five teams have clinched postseason berths. There could be a shift in position between seeds two through five, but likely nothing more.
Now, onto the sixth spot, where it begins to get tricky.
McMahon currently occupies that spot with a 9-6 conference record. It holds a one-game edge and the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wilton, which is tied for seventh at 8-7. St. Joseph is also 8-7 and closes out the regular season by hosting McMahon on Feb. 26.
So that’s your eight-team field as constructed with a week left. If you’re still following me, great, there’s more to this puzzle.
Harding, Norwalk and Trinity Catholic are all a game out at 7-8. The Presidents still play the Bears, the Bears still play the Senators and the Crusaders have the toughest remaining slate of the three with games against Greenwich and Westhill.
Darien, which hosts Norwalk on Wednesday, is currently 6-8. So to recap, six teams are no more than two losses in back of the sixth spot. Four teams are one loss in back of the eighth and final position.
Including Bassick and Trumbull (both 6-9), 14 of the conference’s 19 teams are still mathematically alive.
This late in the season, here’s one of the few certainties: it’s going to be a wild finish in the FCIAC.
Here are the remaining schedules for the teams in conference playoff contention:
McMahon: Ridgefield, at Norwalk, at St. Joseph
Odds: Challenging finish against three contenders, but with tiebreaker over Wilton, it has a little wiggle room.
Wilton: at Bassick, Ridgefield, Danbury
Odds: Two rivalry games complete slate. Earlier win over St. Joseph looks huge.
St. Joseph: at Central, at Ludlowe, McMahon
Odds: Cadets have come on strong, but trip to defending champs might set the tone.
Harding: Danbury, Warde, at Norwalk
Odds: Not overly difficult finish, but Presidents are plummeting with five-game skid.
Norwalk: at Darien, McMahon, Harding
Odds: Facing rival Senators is never easy for Bears, especially this year.
Trinity: at Warde, at Greenwich, Westhill
Odds: Defeating Harding on Monday helped, but time might have run out.
Darien: Norwalk, New Canaan, Westhill, at Stamford
Odds: Three home games a favorable finish, but tiebreaker scenario isn’t.
Bassick: Wilton, at Danbury, at Greenwich
Odds: Qualifying for the state tourney is best bet.
Trumbull: Greenwich, at New Canaan, at Staples
Odds: See above.