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Playoffs and college hoops
By DYLAN MALONE
Post-seasons are in full tilt for most winter sports and Adams County has been thriving once again as wrestling enters its semi-state phase, girls swimming enters the state realm, and girls basketball’s sectional semis are tomorrow.
I won’t go into great detail on the wrestling because I feel like Jim touches on that subject a lot better than I do. I will say that the guys from all three schools never cease to amaze me with their success.
Bellmont sending only a few guys to semi-state is a “down year”. Ask Blackford or Norwell how their wrestling programs are doing. Putting it into perspective, coach Faurote and his group at Bellmont are still plenty ok in my book, especially when the bar is set so high for these kids on a yearly basis.
South Adams’ girls basketball team is the only survivor of the opening round of sectionals on Tuesday as they topped Bluffton for the second time this year. They have a more-than-reasonable chance to move on to the finals against Bishop Luers (assuming they steam-roll Eastside) even without their leading scorer, Dzejna Ahmetovic, who will miss the rest of the year with a knee injury.
No pressure on coach Brett Freeman over there at South Adams, but if he doesn’t stay on as the coach for next season, those girls will probably not have a program. That’s the effect of having five coaches in five years will have on a school’s psyche.
In just a few months at the helm, coach Freeman has established a new style of confidence into his girls that they can play with anybody on any night. While they’re not ready to hoist any titles anytime soon, the team has won eight games this year...that’s more than the last three years combined. And the good news is that they lose only one senior for next season.
Sticking with the Stars for a moment, sophomore Cady Farlow is pretty amazing. Flying under the radar for those not in the Berne area, Farlow has been ripping up SA swim records all season long in her events and will see the state level this weekend for the second time in her high school career.
While she probably won’t breech the top five in anything at the state level, it is something to see small town pool dwellers grace the stage with schools like Carroll, Homestead, Canterbury, etc. in places where pools are almost a neighborhood requirement.
Switching over to the college game for a moment, I was happy to see IU back at the number one spot, although it may not be the best thing for them right now considering that we’ve had a different number one each of the last five weeks.
It definitely feels like a balanced year in college basketball, particularly in the Big 10 Conference. By the time the dust settles and the stellar teams from the Big 10 are through beating down on each other, there will probably be schools like Kansas, Duke, and a few other perennials that will grace the top five.
BOLD PREDICTION: Two of the four teams in this year’s final four will be from the Big 10.
Top to bottom, the Big 10 is the best conference in America this year. Getting away from the top 25 rankings, there is not a team on the list except for maybe the very bottom (Nebraska or Penn State) that could not upset a team in the top 10.
Yes, I know that IU blasted Purdue last week in their own house. Thanks for reminding me. I also know that Illinois has upset a few teams this year, then the Boilers upset them. Then Indiana beats Michigan, and Michigan holds off Ohio State (albeit controversially).
The point is that it’s a dog fight. I won’t pick who I think will win the Big 10 tournament because it will be whoever wakes up and eats the best breakfast that day. Every team is a threat on any given day. I love that about this conference. So should Indiana fans if they have any aspirations of getting to the final four this year.
Going through this conference is only going to help the Hoosiers hone their skills. When March rolls around and we’re talking about upsets and fluff teams, I wouldn’t pick too many upsets from the Big 10 barring injury because those schools are going to be ready for anything after their brutal conference schedule.
When it comes time to separate the winners from the pretenders, though, it’ll come down to coaching as it always does in the college game. Any coincidence that the Big 10 has some of the best?
Tom Crean, Tom Izzo, and Tubby Smith just to name a few...it’s going to be an exciting March Madness, that’s for sure. Stay tuned for my bracket challenge.