Before any more games get played, we will now unveil the Elite 8.
With so many polls running around out there, these are rankings for Southwestern Connecticut. More specifically, the Hearst Connecticut Media Group’s coverage area. It encompasses the SWC, the FCIAC, the Woodland-and-lower half of the NVL, and the New Haven-and-westward side of the SCC (going far north as Hamden).
So, yeah, don’t scream at us for not ranking Xavier. When it comes to the Elite 8 we’re jingoists. So step back over the line.
We tried to be scientific. We tried our best to base the rankings on knowledge and observation. We looked at what teams bring back, factored in how they performed in preseason scrimmages, calibrated with opinions from coaches and players and other media members, and then went to town.
Or something like that. Honestly, it’s all a crapshoot. Some picks stick, some don’t (Read: Norwalk from a few years ago).
Anyhoo, away we go:
1. MASUK — No explanation necessary (but we’ll do it anyway). Ruthless efficiency on offense and defense. Our only concern is the lines. They’re brand new. And you’ll see a difference without Jon Testani, whose booming kicks and fearless defense and …just about everything he did will be sorely missed. But make no mistake, they’re legit.
2. NEW CANAAN — Lots of people have been down on the Rams on this space. Don’t see it. Even if New Canaan is weaker than last season, the schedule’s light enough that Lou Marinelli’s staff will have NC humming by Week 8 … around the time it plays its first big game.
3. ANSONIA — The whole team is back, except Montrell Dobbs. Arkeel Newsome should full the gap nicely.
4. WEST HAVEN — Probably the third-best team in the SCC after Cheshire and Xavier.
5. HILLHOUSE — Talent abounds, but the defending Class M champs didn’t win a non-Wilbur Cross SCC Division I game last season. Came close, but still went 0-fer against Xavier and Cheshire. Gotta see them do that before they move up. North Haven in the opener is no joke, either.
6. BROOKFIELD – The Bobcats have been touted all offseason as Masuk’s top competition in the SWC. We’ll have to wait for the league title game to get that matchup, unfortunately. Losing Brian Kelly took some of the edge off Brookfield. But we like the guys they have back.
7. BUNNELL – The Dawgs have talent and skill everywhere. They looked good in scrimmages. As quirky and unpredictable as Bunnell can be sometimes, expect big improvements in play. Easily Brookfield’s top competition in the SWC regular season.
8. STAPLES — The Wreckers have overhauled their defense and frontlines. A sophomore starts at QB. Recipe for disaster for most teams. But this is Staples we’re talking about. So we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Others — We’re keeping a wary eye on Darien. Their roster and schedule says mediocre. But we’ve been burned so many times by the Blue Wave, they deserve a mention. …Lots of people are high on Stamford. And the Black Knights will be good. Our only question is which Stamford will show up? The one that beat Trumbull (27-19) last season, or the one that got trounced by Trinity Catholic (42-28)? …Newtown has talent, potential. Last year’s injured starters are back. Worth watching. …Trumbull got lots of votes in the state polls, but let’s be serious. They lost a good chunk of last season’s roster and lots of new guys need to step up and fast. It might might not show in their opener vs. Catholic Memorial (Mass.), but we think the Eagles will be good enough.
What’s your Elite 8?