Boys Basketball – 2023 SCT Watch: Final Projection
In a season that has been so unpredictable and so volatile from week-to-week, the most shocking part of the final week leading up to the Shore Conference Tournament is that nothing shocking has happened. With the exception of Central playing its way from a likely road game to a near-guaranteed home game and St. John Vianney dropping out of the field thanks to a tough schedule this week, nothing dramatic changed from the early-week projection to this final installment.
Despite the relatively predictable week of games, this is still a jumbled field and two people could look at these teams and come up with very different brackets. Just because my projection has stayed relatively similar since the beginning of the week, does not mean that a person or persons on the committee aren't looking at the same information and interpreting it entirely differently.
With very little else to preface as it pertains to the final projections before the real seeds come out Saturday evening, let's go over some big-picture principles: body of work will be the first criterion, with head-to-head matchups and record vs. common opponents only coming into play when teams are seeded within a few spots of one another. It also remains to be seen if division standing will carry as much clout this year given that there are more of them and, thus, fewer division games.
It is also possible that Saturday's earlier results could impact the room as they go final. While teams that reach the .500 mark on Saturday will not be eligible to enter the SCT, the teams that are already in figure to impact their standing based on what happens on Saturday.
After all this, the landscape could alter based on some of the results that go final early Saturday, but what follows is a projection based on virtually all of the information the committee will have. Whether they interpret it similarly remains to be seen.
Projections through games played Friday, Feb. 3
vs. = neutral court result
at = road game
team-name only = home game
1. Manasquan (18-4, 9-1) Previous Projection: 1
Division Wins: Neptune (2), Point (2), Ranney (2), Wall (2), St. Rose
Division Losses: at St. Rose
Non-Division Wins: Patrick School, vs. Toms River South, vs. Brick Memorial, vs. Toms River East, vs. Hightstown, vs. Hudson Catholic, Saddle River Day, vs. Rutgers Prep, vs. Trenton Catholic
Non-Division Losses: vs. Linden, Roselle Catholic, vs. Union Catholic
Why They’re Here: Manasquan swallowed a somewhat-surprising loss to Union Catholic Friday night, which could possibly bring the Warriors' No. 1 standing into question. They have two more loss than does St. Rose, but Manasquan has been playing top competition throughout the season, while St. Rose did not ramp up its schedule until it had a full roster. The slight edge remains with Manasquan.
2. St. Rose (18-2, 9-1) Previous Projection: 2
Division Wins: Neptune (2), Point Boro (2), Ranney (2), Wall (2), Manasquan
Division Losses: at Manasquan
Non-Division Wins: Red Bank Catholic, at Matawan, vs. Long Branch, vs. Notre Dame, vs. Red Bank, vs. St. John Vianney, Keyport, Patrick School, vs. Hudson Catholic
Non-Division Losses: at Roselle Catholic
Why They’re Here: St. Rose's case as the No. 1 team in the field got a boost with the Purple Roses routing Hudson Catholic and Manasquan losing to Union Catholic within the past two days. It could go either way, but Manasquan has played the slightly-tougher schedule from start-to-finish.
3. Raritan (17-0, 10-0) Previous Projection: 3
Division Wins: Freehold Boro (2), Holmdel (2), Long Branch (2), Matawan (2), St. John Vianney (2)
Division Losses: None
Non-Division Wins: Monmouth, vs. Trenton Catholic, vs. Barnegat, at Central, vs. Hillsborough, Middletown North, Shore
Non-Division Losses: None
Why They’re Here: There is an argument for Middletown South or Toms River North to be the No. 3 seed based on much, much tougher schedules and it will probably be made in the room, but it should be shot down. With a perfect record and a senior-led team that proved to be tough in tournament games a year ago, the Rockets have earned their keep among a field with teams that, unlike Raritan, have all had bad days that turned into losses.
4. Middletown South (15-4, 8-2) Previous Projection: 4
Division Wins: Colts Neck (2), Middletown North (2), Red Bank (2), Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven
Division Losses: at Red Bank Catholic, at Rumson-Fair Haven
Non-Division Wins: vs. Toms River South, vs. Central, at North Bergen, at Howell, vs. Lincoln, at St. John Vianney, Manalapan
Non-Division Losses: Marlboro, vs. Brick Memorial
Why They’re Here: The Eagles will head into the tournament on a 15-game winning streak, second in the Shore Conference only to Raritan. Middletown South's 2019-20 team is also a case study in why long winning streaks don't mean much at this time of year: those Eagles had won 19 in a row going into the SCT and were picked off in the round of 16 as a No. 2 seed by No. 15 Mater Dei Prep.
5. Toms River North (17-4, 8-2) Previous Projection: 5
Division Wins: Jackson Memorial (2), Toms River East (2), Toms River South (2), at Brick Memorial, Southern
Division Losses: Brick Memorial, at Southern
Non-Division Wins: Vineland, vs. Moorestown, Donovan Catholic, Manchester (2), vs. Bridgeton, vs. St. John Vianney, at Keyport, Lacey
Non-Division Losses: Colts Neck, vs. St. Augustine
Why They’re Here: Toms River North completed its solid SCT résumé with a win over a mercurial Lacey team that has shown it can be dangerous when it gets going. The Mariners have played quality competition throughout the year and own impressive wins over Jackson Memorial (twice) and Moorestown while winning a competitive Class A South division. Toms River North (4-2) falls a little short vs. Middletown South (4-1) on record vs. common opponents, with Middletown South sweeping a Colts Neck team that beat Toms River North in Toms River in December.
6. Jackson Memorial (17-4, 7-3) Previous Projection: 6
Division Wins: Brick Memorial (2), Toms River East (2), Toms River South (2), Southern
Division Losses: Toms River North (2), at Southern
Non-Division Wins: at Middletown North, Jackson Liberty, vs. Wall, vs. Red Bank Catholic, vs. Freehold Twp., at Ocean, vs. Piscataway, vs. Cherokee, Manalapan, at Holmdel
Non-Division Losses: vs. Bishop Eustace
Why They’re Here: Finishing behind Toms River North and dropping both games to the Mariners means the Jaguars have to be behind their division rivals in the seeding, but they also have a résumé that is worthy of consideration at No. 3. They own a decided edge in record vs. common opponents over Middletown South, which is 5-2 against a group of teams against which Jackson Memorial went 7-0.
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (14-5, 7-3) Previous Projection: 7
Division Wins: Middletown North (2), Red Bank (2), Colts Neck, Middletown South, Red Bank Catholic
Division Losses: at Colts Neck, at Middletown South, at Red Bank Catholic
Non-Division Wins: Long Branch, vs. Barnegat, vs. Trenton Catholic, Lawrence, at Brick Memorial, Marlboro, St. John Vianney
Non-Division Losses: Ranney, at St. Peter’s Prep
Why They’re Here: With two wins over Red Bank, Rumson has an edge on CBA in comparing the common opponents between the two teams. The comparison with Freehold Township is a little trickier: Rumson handled a Marlboro team that split with Freehold Township in two close games, but Freehold Township handled a Colts Neck team that split with Rumson. With CBA providing a buffer as the A North champion, Rumson gets the nod at No. 7.
8. Christian Brothers Academy (11-6, 7-1) Previous Projection: 8
Division Wins: Howell (2), Manalapan (2), Marlboro (2), at Freehold Twp.
Division Losses: Freehold Twp.
Non-Division Wins: vs. Forest Hills (N.Y.), vs. Middletown North, vs. Notre Dame, Point Boro
Non-Division Losses: vs. Impact Christian (Fla.), vs. Calvary Christian (Fla.), at Red Bank, vs. Gill St. Bernard’s, at Red Bank Catholic
Why They’re Here: CBA is about as high as it can go due to a loss to Red Bank. The Colts have shown some signs of breaking out lately with five straight wins, but still haven't really taken off like they did at different points last season with four of the top six in the 2021-22 rotation still on the team this year. If this projection is correct, CBA could be facing St. Rose this Saturday, followed by Manasquan next Saturday in the SCT quarterfinals. That would certainly provide CBA a chance to prove itself.
9. Freehold Township (15-3, 6-2) Previous Projection: 9
Division Wins: Howell (2), Manalapan (2), at CBA, at Marlboro
Division Losses: CBA, Marlboro
Non-Division Wins: Donovan Catholic, Summit, at Barnegat, vs. Donovan Catholic, vs. Colts Neck, Holmdel, at Allentown, at Southern, Freehold Boro
Non-Division Losses: vs. Jackson Memorial
Why They’re Here: The Patriots have a cleaner résumé than CBA does, but with a loss to the Colts in the most recent matchup and CBA winning the division, the Patriots will have a hard time jumping CBA or the teams above the Colts in the seeding. With that being said, it is a surefire Top 10 body of work that stacks up against just about any team in the 3-through-10 range and there has been some talk among coaches that the division standings may not weigh as heavily this season because there are smaller divisions and fewer division games. If body of work wins out, the Patriots look more like a No. 7 seed.
10. Colts Neck (14-5, 6-4) Previous Projection: 10
Division Wins: Middletown North (2), Red Bank (2), Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven
Division Losses: Middletown South (2), at Red Bank Catholic, at Rumson-Fair Haven
Non-Division Wins: Manalapan, at Toms River North, vs. Red Bank Catholic, at Jackson Liberty, Point Beach, at Old Bridge, at Neptune, at Brick Memorial
Non-Division Losses: vs. Freehold Twp.
Why They’re Here: A road win over Brick Memorial to close out its résumé should lock up the No. 10 seed for Colts Neck. Four of Colts Neck's five losses are to teams that are locks to be in the top 10 and the other is to a quality Red Bank Catholic team tha Colts Neck also beat twice. Throw in wins over Toms River North, Rumson, Brick Memorial and Manalapan and that should give the Cougars a leg up on the teams breathing down their neck.
11. Ranney (11-9, 4-6) Previous Projection: 11
Division Wins: Wall (2), Neptune, Point Boro
Division Losses: Manasquan (2), St. Rose (2), at Neptune, at Point Boro
Non-Division Wins: vs. Long Branch, vs. Middletown North, at Rumson-Fair Haven, vs. Holmdel, at Immaculata, McNair Academy, Matawan
Non-Division Losses: Saddle River Day, vs. Notre Dame, vs. Rutgers Prep
Why They’re Here: Ranney has a few solid wins over the likes of Point Boro, Immaculata and Rumson, as well as a promising young Matawan squad to close out this week. More than that, the Panthers have their full squad now that Jahlil Bethea is eligible, which should somewhat negate some of the more troubling losses on their résumé. Since Bethea joined the lineup, Ranney's only losses are to Manasquan, St. Rose and Rutgers Prep -- all state-ranked teams. Saturday's game at Brick Memorial will be over before the seeding meeting, so Ranney might need to nail down its spot with a win.
12. Point Pleasant Boro (13-6, 5-5) Previous Projection: 12
Division Wins: Neptune (2), Wall (2), Ranney
Division Losses: Manasquan (2), St. Rose (2), at Ranney
Non-Division Wins: at Barnegat, Bridgewater-Raritan, Brick, Jackson Liberty, at Lacey, St. John Vianney, Academy Charter, at Point Beach
Non-Division Losses: at CBA
Why They’re Here: All of Point Boro’s losses have come against teams that should end up in the top 11, which is the strength of the Panthers’ résumé. A win over Ranney and the close loss to St. Rose are the best results earned by Point Boro so far this year, which should net the Panthers something in the 12-to-14 range -- prime real estate in this year's field.
13. Red Bank Catholic (11-9, 6-4) Previous Projection: 13
Division Wins: Middletown North (2), Colts Neck, Middletown South, Red Bank, Rumson-Fair Haven
Division Losses: at Colts Neck, at Middletown South, at Red Bank, at Rumson-Fair Haven
Non-Division Wins: vs. Manchester, St. John Vianney, vs. Red Bank, CBA, at Holmdel
Non-Division Losses: at St. Rose, at Monsignor Farrell (N.Y.), vs. Jackson Memorial, vs. Colts Neck, at Marlboro
Why They’re Here: RBC is another team that has battled inconsistency and unlike Ranney, it's not because the Caseys have been missing a key player or players. That being said, RBC's upside has shown through numerous times and wins over Middletown South, Rumson and CBA should land the Caseys comfortably among the teams hosting the first round.
14. Central (16-5, 9-1) Previous Projection: 14
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Brick (2), Manchester (2), Pinelands (2), at Lacey
Division Losses: Lacey
Non-Division Wins: Toms River East, vs. St. John Vianney, at Toms River South, Donovan Catholic, at Allentown, Brick Memorial, at Manalapan
Non-Division Losses: vs. Marlboro, vs. Middletown South, Raritan, Robbinsville
Why They’re Here: Central helped itself more than any other team this week by blowing out Brick Memorial at home and handling Manalapan on the road. The Golden Eagles would have been hard-pressed to earn a home game without those wins, but they are now in position to host a first-round game and avoid either of the top two seeds until the semifinals, should they continue to advance through the tournament.
15. Brick Memorial (13-8, 6-4) Previous Projection: 15
Division Wins: Toms River East (2), Toms River South (2), at Southern, at Toms River North
Division Losses: Jackson Memorial (2), Southern, Toms River North
Non-Division Wins: Howell, vs. Middletown South, vs. Marlboro, at Lacey, Point Beach, at Brick, Manchester
Non-Division Losses: vs. Manasquan, vs. Rumson-Fair Haven, at Central, Colts Neck
Why They’re Here: Wednesday's 16-point loss at Central does some damage to Brick Memorial's standing, but it's some of the other losses over which the Mustangs are likely kicking themselves. A one-point home loss to Colts Neck on Thursday joins the list of other heartbreakers: a loss to Rumson at the buzzer, an overtime loss the Jackson Memorial in which they led by 17 at halftime and a close home loss to Southern.
16. Southern (12-8, 6-4) Previous Projection: 16
Division Wins: Toms River East (2), at Brick Memorial, Jackson Memorial, Toms River North, Toms River South
Division Losses: Brick Memorial, at Jackson Memorial, at Toms River North, at Toms River South
Non-Division Wins: Lacey, Pleasantville, at Donovan Catholic, Long Branch, vs. Cumberland, Pinelands
Non-Division Losses: Holy Spirit, West Windsor-Plainsboro South, vs. Ocean City, Freehold Twp.
Why They’re Here: Southern climbed as high as No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, but a five-game slide that included a loss to a Toms River South team well outside the field has knocked Southern out of the Top 10 and in some danger of missing out on a home game. Manalapan going 0-3 for the week should keep the Rams in good position to host.
17. Manalapan (10-10, 4-4) Previous Projection: 17
Division Wins: Howell (2), Marlboro (2)
Division Losses: CBA (2), Freehold Twp. (2)
Non-Division Wins: vs. Carteret, Long Branch, at Middletown North, Red Bank, Allentown, at Freehold Boro
Non-Division Losses: at Colts Neck, vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, vs. Hamilton West, at Jackson Memorial, at Middletown South, Central
Why They’re Here: With Marlboro missing the tournament, Manalapan does not have a win over a team in the SCT field. With that being said, two wins over Marlboro is better than what most of the other teams remaining in the field have done. Manalapan could fall a spot or two from here and it would be both justifiable and, perhaps, welcomed by the Braves.
18. Ocean (15-5, 8-2) Previous Projection: 18
Division Wins: Donovan Catholic (2), Jackson Liberty (2), Lakewood (2), at Monmouth, at Shore
Division Losses: Monmouth, Shore
Non-Division Wins: Point Beach, vs. Lawrence, at Hopewell Valley, at Montgomery, at Long Branch, vs. Toms River East, Middletown North
Non-Division Losses: Neptune, Jackson Memorial, Wall
Why They’re Here: Ocean is currently celebrating its first division championship in 51 years and at 15-5, the Spartans are at least worth mentioning among the teams that could host the first round. All of Ocean's wins over SCT teams are against teams seeded after the Spartans, so while they have five more wins over SCT teams than Manalapan does, that doesn't necessarily mean Ocean has beaten better teams than the Braves have. If nothing else, though, Ocean has made it a debate.
19. Shore (12-4, 6-3) Previous Projection: 20
Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), at Donovan Catholic, Lakewood, Monmouth, at Ocean
Division Losses: Donovan Catholic, at Monmouth, Ocean
Non-Division Wins: Toms River East, at Wall, Point Beach, Lacey, at Freehold Boro, Brick
Non-Division Losses: at Raritan
Why They’re Here: By beating Donovan Catholic on the road on Thursday, Shore can now jump the Griffins in the seeding, although it is not necessarily a given. Shore has a better collection of non-divisional wins as compared to Donovan Catholic, but Donovan Catholic has played a much tougher collection of opponents. Still, Shore has the more recent win, a win over Ocean on the road, and wins over SCT teams Point Beach and Lacey to drive the point home.
20. Donovan Catholic (8-8, 7-3) Previous Projection: 19
Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), Lakewood (2), Monmouth (2), at Shore
Division Losses: Ocean (2), Shore
Non-Division Wins: vs. Wall
Non-Division Losses: at Freehold Twp., vs. Freehold Twp., at Toms River North, Southern, at Central
Why They’re Here: Thursday's overtime loss to Shore only drops Donovan Catholic one spot, as the Griffins still have better wins than Point Beach. They have also played some very tough competition outside of Class B South, which could provide some ammo for the Griffins to jump Shore for the No. 19 spot.
21. Point Pleasant Beach (12-6, 7-1) Previous Projection: 21
Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport
Division Losses: at Keyport
Non-Division Wins: at Pinelands, vs. Monmouth, at Brick, at Lacey, at Toms River South
Non-Division Losses: at Ocean, at Shore, at Brick Memorial, at Colts Neck, Point Boro
Why They’re Here: All of Point Beach’s losses are to teams in the tournament and the Garnet Gulls also have wins over Monmouth and Lacey on top of a split with Keyport within Class B Central. With a rivalry game against Point Boro to close out the week, the Garnet Gulls have one more chance to make a great impression and are looking at a likely upside of No. 18.
22. Lacey (11-9, 9-1) Previous Projection: 22
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Brick (2), Manchester (2), Pinelands (2), at Central
Division Losses: Central
Non-Division Wins: vs. Monmouth, Toms River East
Non-Division Losses: at Southern, at Shore, Brick Memorial, Point Boro, St. John Vianney, Point Beach, at Howell, at Toms River North
Why They’re Here: Among the teams projected to be on the road in the first round of the SCT, Lacey is the only one with a win over a team seeded in the top 16. The Lions beat Central on the road in a game that decided the Class B South division, which gives Lacey a caliber of win that several teams ahead of it do not have. On the other hand, Lacey also has head-to-head losses to both Shore and Point Beach, which negate that win over Central as it pertains to seeding.
23. Matawan (12-9, 4-6) Previous Projection: 23
Division Wins: Holmdel (2), Freehold Boro, Long Branch
Division Losses: Raritan (2), St. John Vianney (2), at Freehold Boro, at Long Branch
Non-Division Wins: Carteret, Hamilton West, Howell, at Neptune, at Monmouth, Red Bank, Brick, at Old Bridge
Non-Division Losses: St. Rose, Old Bridge, at Ranney
Why They’re Here: Matawan has played well after a 0-4 start, but losses to a pair of teams well below .500 -- Long Branch and Freehold Boro -- give the Huskies a résumé blemish that is fairly unique within this field. They finished the week strong by playing Ranney tough in a loss and beating Old Bridge on the road. A head-to-head win over Monmouth gives Matawan the edge over the Falcons and Keyport, but that is it for now.
24. Monmouth (11-9, 6-4) Previous Projection: 24
Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), Lakewood (2), at Ocean, Shore
Division Losses: Donovan Catholic (2), Ocean, at Shore
Non-Division Wins: Freehold Boro, at Keyport, Pinelands, at Long Branch, Brick
Non-Division Losses: at Raritan, vs. Lacey, vs. Point Beach, at Steinert, Matawan
Why They’re Here: The Falcons spent a stretch without standout senior Ta’haj Wiggins and struggled without him, but they also have some losses with him on the court as well. None of the losses are to teams that failed to qualify for the SCT and a win over Keyport keeps Monmouth out of the bottom.
25. Keyport (13-4, 7-1) Previous Projection: 25
Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport
Division Losses: at Point Beach
Non-Division Wins: at Calvary Christian, vs. Timothy Christian, at Roselle Park, Lakewood, Pinelands, Academy for Urban Leadership
Non-Division Losses: Monmouth, at St. Rose, Toms River North
Why They’re Here: Keyport turned in a strong showing vs. Point Beach and has losses to two teams seeded in the top five, but with no non-divisional wins against a team in the field and a head-to-head loss to Monmouth, the Red Raiders will be one of the last two or three seeds, depending on which teams get in.
26. Keansburg (7-7, 2-6) Previous Projection: N/A
Division Wins: Henry Hudson (2)
Division Losses: Asbury Park (2), Keyport (2), Point Beach (2)
Non-Division Wins: Koinonia, South Amboy, at Somerset Tech, Academy Charter, at Lakewood
Non-Division Losses: South River
Why They're Here: Keansburg's only wins vs. the Shore Conference are against Henry Hudson and Lakewood, so the Titans will be a lock for the No. 26 seed. It is a senior-laden team and getting into this tournament means a lot, so Keansburg's first-round opponent should be ready to scrap.
Marlboro (8-9, 3-5)
Henry Hudson (10-11, 0-7)
St. John Vianney (11-13, 6-4)
Holmdel (8-10, 6-4)
Asbury Park (5-7, 4-4)
(26) Keansburg at (7) Rumson-Fair Haven
(25) Keyport at (8) CBA
(24) Monmouth at (9) Freehold Twp.
(23) Matawan at (10) Colts Neck
(22) Lacey at (11) Ranney
(21) Point Beach at (12) Point Boro
(20) Donovan Catholic at (13) Red Bank Catholic
(19) Shore at (14) Central
(18) Ocean at (15) Brick Memorial
(17) Manalapan at (16) Southern
Round of 16
(17) Manalapan/(16) Southern winner at (1) Manasquan
(18) Ocean/(15) Brick Memorial winner at (2) St. Rose
(19) Shore/(14) Central winner at (3) Raritan
(20) Donovan Catholic/(13) RBC winner at (4) Middletown South
(21) Point Beach/(12) Point Boro winner at (5) Toms River North
(22) Lacey/(11) Ranney winner at (6) Jackson Memorial