Early thoughts on the 2014 MIAA state tournament

MIAA state tournament brackets were released Friday afternoon for the eastern half of the state, as well as the central portion. Western Massachusetts released theirs on Saturday, and they are all set now.

Here is some of what stands out from a first look at the brackets, starting in the east.

Division I North figures to be well worth watching, with all of the top five seeds – St. John’s Prep, Everett, Andover, Central Catholic and Cambridge Rindge & Latin – capable of making a run to the Garden and then the DCU Center. The No. 6 seed, Lynn English, is the sleeper, and East Boston should give the winner of Everett-Malden a ballgame in the quarterfinals. If Central Catholic and Cambridge win their first round games, they will meet in what should be a dandy quarterfinal and a rematch of the title game in a tournament Central Catholic hosted last week. That game went to the home team.

In Division I South, arch-rivals could meet in the quarterfinals as Catholic Memorial and BC High are in the same part of the bracket. North Quincy, CM and Mansfield are the favorites. Brookline is the sleeper in this region, although a win in their opener at Taunton would likely mean a tough quarterfinal matchup with Mansfield. There is a preliminary round game of note here, which is the matchup of Boston City League foes West Roxbury and Madison Park on Monday night. The winner takes on CM in the first round.

Division II North should be New Mission’s to lose. It’s that simple. Division II South, on the other hand, should be wide open. Bishop Feehan is the top seed after a stellar 19-1 campaign, but no teams here blow you away. In the end, New Mission should certainly be playing at the Garden.

Looking out further, Division I has some power in the central and western parts. Putnam should be the team to beat in Division I, although they could get a push from any of St. John’s (Shrewsbury), Fitchburg or St. Peter Marian. It will take a tremendous game to beat Putnam, as they are undefeated for good reason as they are well-balanced and well-coached. They are one of just two teams to beat New Mission this year.

In Division II, Concord-Carlisle would seem a favorite to emerge in the Central, while Longmeadow and Pittsfield lead the way further west.

In a few weeks, we’ll see how this shakes out. There is plenty to look forward to, and this is what every team has set as its first goal. Now they are all pursuing their ultimate goal.

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