What a regular season it has been! We saw the Old Bridge Knights win their first ever division title, the rise of Bishop Ahr, the fall and rise of St. Joes, the dominance of Colonia, the resurgence of New Brunswick, and now the 5th player in GMC history to score 2000 points in a career in South River’s Derrick Whitaker!
But now as the regular season subsides, it is time for business to once again pick up. #MiddlesexMadness is on the horizon, and this year, our live streams will be presented by The Express Athletic Club of Edison! For more information about their AAU programs for all levels, as well as their facilities for both basketball and baseball and so much more, visit their website here! https://www.theexpressathleticcenter.com
Now to my annual attempt to make sense of the regular season with both my personal GMCT seeding, as well as what I think the committee will draw up. As usual the regulations are as follows: No team can be seeded above a team they finished behind in the division standings, and the four division winners must be amongst the top eight seeds.
The final standings for this season are as follows:
Old Bridge 13-1
St. Joseph 10-4
S. Brunswick 7-7
JP Stevens 6-8
E. Brunswick 3-11
Perth Amboy 0-14
New Brunswick 8-4
North Brunswick 4-8
Iselin Kennedy 4-8
Bishop Ahr 12-0
South River 7-5
S. Plainfield 3-9
PIS Tech 12-3
PA Tech 12-4
Highland Park 7-8
South Amboy 7-9
Calvary Christian 5-11
Timothy Christian 5-11
EB Tech 4-12
No, the White division standings are not a typo. Four teams actually tied for both 4th and last at 4-8, and all four teams split with each other in the regular season. I can never recall four teams being tied in a division in the GMC.
As for how the seeding process works, at the start of the seeding, only four teams are eligible to come off the board. Those would be Old Bridge, who won its first Red division title, Colonia, who won its 13th White division crown, Bishop Ahr, who won its 6th division title, and Dunellen, who won its 9th title this year. When one of those teams comes off the board, the next highest placing team in that division would come on the board and then be eligible for selection. Got it? Let’s get started!
This will be among the most contentious debates at the seeding meeting. The Knights finished 13-1 in the Red, with its lone defeat coming tonight at St. Joes, who is the county’s hottest team with nine straight wins, by just two points. They have played a far more difficult schedule in the Red, and have had some close calls, but they still managed to win the division by three games over Joes. Colonia on the other hand has destroyed their White division competition this season, winning each of their 12 division games by an average of over 33 points per game. This dominance cannot be discounted, and the Patriots could very well be the best team this season, but the White division was the weakest it has ever been this season. Ultimately, Old Bridge can be forgiven for the circumstances of their one loss, and therefore, they are my top seed.
St. Joes could make a strong case that they are the favorites coming into this tournament. The three time defending champions have come together after a 5-6 start and a 3-4 start in the Red to roar back to nine straight wins, seven straight in the division, and convincing victories over Piscataway and JP Stevens, both of whom knocked off the Falcons early on. Their win over Old Bridge cemented their prowess today, but when it comes to seeding, their early season struggles have to still factor in. Bishop Ahr on the other hand has dominated the entire season, save for an early season setback to a then dominant JP Stevens team. Winning twelve Blue division games by nearly 30 points per game is one thing, but they have more than looked the part as well, and their roster may be the most talented in the county. I would not be shocked if these two teams meet in the final.
The Monroe Falcons had a tremendous bounce back year, and defeated Piscataway twice, but the Chiefs still have the edge by finishing two games ahead in the standings. Their lopsided loss to East Brunswick tonight leaves them behind Carteret, which has come on strong of late, and took Bishop Ahr to the brink in OT just last week. Dunnellen is the eight seed through winning the Gold division title, but they have shown their dominance as well. I would not rule out a QF berth for the Destroyers.
The Zebras were one of the county’s best stories this year, as they have gone from doormat to on the rise under Samir Sanu. Their second place finish in the White division is their best in a long time, and this will be their highest seeding in seven years.
Speaking of resurgences, the Vikings went from dead last in 2018 to .500 in the Red this year, with wins over St. Joes and Monroe, and taking Piscataway to the limit as well. It is no surprise to see them back in the top ten, and they will be in contention once again going forward.
An interesting debate that the committee will have is how they evaluate a resume and head to head results as opposed to the personnel of a team. Edison knocked off Stevens to take the City of Light trophy on January 14, but they have lost several key contributors since. The Hawks on the other hand started the year 7-0 with a convincing win over Bishop Ahr and an OT victory over St. Joes. Unfortunately for them, they have lost 10 of 13 since, and have not defeated a Red division opponent aside from Perth Amboy since January 3. If the teams were to play now, it may be a different story, but respect must be paid to the resume of Edison and their victory over their rivals.
The Rams have played a a breakneck pace this year, and this has led to their third place finish in the Blue and crossover wins over Sayreville, North Brunswick, and Kennedy. Derrick Whitaker has now joined Brian and Blake Taylor, Gary Brokaw, Deon Jackson, and John Somogyi in the GMC 2000 point club to boot.
Now is where things get interesting. This is what the board looks like in terms of teams that are now eligible to be selected.
RED WHITE BLUE GOLD
East Brunswick Kennedy Middlesex Piscataway Tech
North Brunswick Spotswood
How could anyone make sense of this?? When crossover matchups are looked at, EB beat North Brunswick but lost to Woodbridge, Woodbridge beat Middlesex, North Brunswick beat an undermanned South Brunswick, and Kennedy lost to Spotswood and South Plainfield. Here goes nothing:
It is always interesting where the committee puts a winless Red division team. Last year, South Brunswick was underseeded at 25 and blew out #24 Dunellen in the play in game. Obviously Perth Amboy has not won a conference game, but they played Old Bridge and Monroe tough twice and only lost to Stevens by three. Sayreville lost to Stevens by 33 and Kennedy fell to South Plainfield. This is where the Panthers belong.
The rest of the seeding looks like this:
Perth Amboy Tech
East Brunswick Tech
In terms of our #MiddlesexMadness coverage, the plan now is to do at least a Round of 16 game, both semifinals, and of course the final. The Super Sunday quarterfinal quadruple header will probably not be in the cards, but I would like to do at least one. In any case, stay tuned to @gmchoops and @Real Corrigan on Twitter for all the schedule information and updates. The best time of the year is now, and I can’t wait to bring you all the action courtesy of RDPlex Films and our sponsors, The Express Athletic Center, Civile Cucina Italiana, and the law firm of Garces, Grabler, and LeBroq!
Good luck to all the teams as they vie for the crown!