If St. Joseph defeats Westhill Monday night, the Cadets and Trinity Catholic will be the top two seeds in some configuration, and the Vikings will finish either third or fourth.
We will have a lot more as the week goes on previewing the playoffs, but perhaps the most compelling storyline for now is not what is happening at the top but the bottom of the FCIAC standings.
If the playoffs started today, St. Joseph would open at home against Wilton, which handed the Cadets their lone loss — by 21 points.
Of the likely 6-8 seeds at this point, I find it hard to see any of them winning the tournament, but could see every one of them winning an opening-round game.
Norwalk? Unspectacular but solid all year? Staples? One of the best teams during the second half of the season. Wilton? Dangerous with some underrated players. Bassick? Seems to have righted itself after a precipitous fall. Greenwich? Alex Wolf is back and provides matchup problems inside, while CJ Byrd appears to be healthy and is playing well.
All five of these teams can win at least one game. Maybe two. Bassick is the only one of the five I haven’t seen this season. The Lions need a win tonight over Trinity. Norwalk and Staples, which will be favorites tonight against, respectively, Stamford and Danbury, can secure spots with wins.
This year’s FCIAC Tournament is going to be wide open. The race to get there is equally compelling.
Sizing up Monday’s best games
GAME OF THE NIGHT
St. Joseph (17-1) at Westhill (15-3): An obvious pick, more so because there is no game featuring two teams trying to get into the playoffs playing each other. Though the Cadets are playing for the top seed, this game is more important for the Vikings. For one, depending how things play out, I’m not sure yet being the first or second seed is going to make a big difference. Meanwhile, the Vikings have lost two of three and could really use at least a split this week with Ridgefield up next. Otherwise, Westhill faces the prospect of entering the postseason with dented confidence.
OTHER GAMES OF NOTE
Trinity Catholic (17-1) at Bassick (10-8): I’m betting there is a long line of coaches rooting for the Crusaders, either from teams looking to get into the playoffs or those that want no part of the two-time defending champion Lions, who usually catch fire at this point in the calendar.
Staples (11-7) at Danbury (6-12): Perhaps the most interesting of the games involving teams looking to secure spots because of the tough road trip to Danbury, which has been in a free fall and needs a pair of wins to salvage the season with a state tournament berth.
The Starting 5
1. ST. JOSEPH (17-1): It will be interesting to see if Westhill’s pressure trap gives the Cadets any trouble.
2. TRINITY CATHOLIC (17-1): The Crusaders also get a good road test to tune up for the playoffs.
3. WESTHILL (15-3): Belated congratulations to Vikings coach Howard White on his recent 100th career win.
4. BRIDGEPORT CENTRAL (12-4): If form holds, St. Joseph could be looking at a semifinal game against a Central team that stunned it in the first round a year ago.
5. RIDGEFIELD (14-4): Since a bad first quarter six days ago against Fairfield Ludlowe, the Tigers have been playing championship caliber basketball. At just the right time.