Well, Tiger Nation, last night surely wasn’t what we wanted. After the best quarter of basketball that Woodberry has played all season, the Tigers couldn’t run with St. Anne’s-Belfield and fell 61-46. Another chance for a “good” win faded away, and now the Tigers’ profile is looking more bubblicious than ever. Let’s take a look at where Woodberry stands right now in the hunt for a State Playoff bid.
The issue with the overall record is, of course, the fact that Woodberry is under .500. While I’m not sure how the committee looks at overall records, I have a problem with teams losing more than they win. I was against 5-7 teams making bowl games in college football, and I feel similarly about high school basketball in the state playoffs.
Conference: 6-6 (4th)
With the loss last night, Woodberry locked in to fourth place in the Prep League. First off, finishing in 4th isn’t bad at all because that puts Woodberry right in the middle–neither on the top tier nor the bottom tier. Plus, finishing in fourth ensures that the Tigers will host their first game in the Prep League tournament (against Collegiate next Tuesday, but more on that in a bit). Finishing at .500 isn’t fantastic in conference, but it’s not a con either; if anything, this may be a stat that the committee with only glance over.
MaxPreps Quality Rating: 8.5 (9th out of 14 in Division I)
This ranking doesn’t mean that much because it will probably drop a bit after the loss to STAB. However, the bottom line is that there isn’t much margin for error for the Tigers. This rating doesn’t say that the Tigers will or will not get in. Instead, it simply states what we all know–the Tigers are very, very on the bubble.
MaxPreps Strength of Schedule Rating: 9.1 (9th in Division I)
The Tigers strength of schedule rating has gone down due to the recent decline of Fork Union and Christchurch. While this rating doesn’t mean that much, it does show that the Tigers schedule is hovering right around the middle of Division I. Therefore, if the Tigers close the regular season at 10-12 heading into the Prep League tournament, they may not have the argument of a tough schedule to bank on.
Good Wins: None
Here’s where everything gets complicated. In terms of beating the teams that Woodberry’s supposed to, the Tigers have done everything they’ve needed to do. The issue is that they haven’t done more than the bear minimum. The six conference losses are all sweeps against STAB, St. Christopher’s, and Trinity Episcopal. While one could argue that Woodberry was competitive in four of those six losses (the home defeats against STAB and Trinity are a black eye), close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and bocce ball. The committee isn’t looking for close; they’re looking for teams that got it done. Take a look at Collegiate–the Cougars were able to pick up a home win by 15-points over Trinity a week ago. While that’s their only quality win and Collegiate did get swept by Woodberry, they have something the Tigers don’t have…a shiny, big win on their resume. (Also, note that Collegiate won at Steward earlier this season. If the final playoff spot comes down to these two teams, then how Woodberry fares against Steward on Friday could be the deciding factor.)
Bad Losses: vs. Bishop Ireton
Listing Bishop Ireton as a bad loss isn’t that fair to Woodberry, mainly because at the time these two played the Cardinals were a strong-looking team. However, since conference play has begun, Bishop Ireton has lost 13 of 15 (against the toughest schedule in Division I) and has dropped to 7-21 overall. Sure, this game was the second of the year for the Tigers. However, the committee will look at it equally along with the rest of Woodberry’s non-conference schedule. Whether that’s fair or not isn’t important; that’s the reality. The good news for the Tigers is that they didn’t slip in conference. While all six losses were sweeps, so were all six wins. Despite the closeness of the scores, dual victories over FUMA, Collegiate, and (to a lesser extent) Christchurch could provide Woodberry with some extra ammo when the committee meets to decide the state playoff field.
Gray’s Pick: In or Out?
In, but by a thread. Right now, the Tigers are barely hanging on. A loss against Steward might tip the scale considering that Steward is a Division II team listed as one of the “others receiving votes” squads. If anything, Woodberry has to win Friday against Steward and then has to beat Collegiate to feel good (plus, with the sudden rise of Collegiate, that first round Prep League tournament game has gotten much more important for both teams). A loss in either of those two games means that Craig Dawson’s squad will be sweating it out on Selection Day and, despite how well Woodberry has closed down the stretch after an 0-6 start, that would certainly be a disappointing predicament for a team that came in to the season with a lot of promise.