Boys Basketball – 2023 SCT Watch Midweek Update: Favorites Hold Strong
The first of two SCT Watch Updates before the seeding meeting finds a top 11 in the bracket that is entirely unchanged from what it was during the first edition on Monday morning. All but one (Colts Neck) of the top 11 seeds won its game this week, with Toms River North and Jackson Memorial each winning two games in three days.
After the top 11, there has been some real movement. Central's win over Brick Memorial Wednesday shakes up the middle of the bracket, which is significant because most teams that fall in that range are going to want to dodge seeds 15 through 18 in order to avoid Manasquan and St. Rose early in the tournament.
The Class C South division has also complicated the middle-to-back-end seeds, with Ocean and Donovan Catholic climbing and Shore sliding.
There are still two days-worth of games to go, so the field is still fluid, but we are nearing the finish line of the regular season and three days away from an official bracket to break down
Projections through games played Wednesday, Feb. 1
vs. = neutral court result
at = road game
team-name only = home game
1. Manasquan (18-3, 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
Before the Cutoff: vs. Union Catholic
Why They’re Here: Nothing new to add. Manasquan will be a top-two seed and with a more recent win over St. Rose and a slightly better collection of wins, the Warriors have the edge.
2. St. Rose (17-2, 9-1)
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
Non-Division Losses: at Roselle Catholic
Before the Cutoff: vs. Hudson Catholic
Why They’re Here: It would be nice to be recognized as the No. 1 seed, but St. Rose's chances of winning the tournament don't change based on which of the top two seeds it gets.
3. Raritan (17-0, 10-0)
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 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.
4. Middletown South (14-4, 8-2)
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
Non-Division Losses: Marlboro, vs. Brick Memorial
Before the Cutoff: Manalapan
Why They’re Here: The Eagles grew their winning streak to 14 games and will have a chance to go into the SCT on a 15-game winning streak with a seed as high as No. 3. A loss to Manalapan could shake up the top eight, but Middletown South probably doesn't fall farther than No. 7.
5. Toms River North (16-4, 7-2)
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
Non-Division Losses: Colts Neck, vs. St. Augustine
Before the Cutoff: Lacey
Why They’re Here: With a win over Southern and a non-divisional win against a solid Keyport team, the Mariners added to a quality résumé that doesn't have a lot of eye-opening wins, but has enough impact that a top-five seed is a near-lock. The Mariners have challenged themselves and currently look like a good bet to reach the semifinals.
6. Jackson Memorial (16-4, 7-3)
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
Non-Division Losses: vs. Bishop Eustace
Before the Cutoff: at Holmdel
Why They’re Here: While a loss to Holmdel before the cutoff could complicate things a little for Jackson Memorial, the Jaguars have put together a body of work that is already worthy of a safe top-six seed and if all of their players are on the court, they are as dangerous as any team outside the top two.
7. Rumson-Fair Haven (13-5, 7-3)
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
Non-Division Losses: Ranney, at St. Peter’s Prep
Before the Cutoff: St. John Vianney
Why They’re Here: It is more likely that Rumson falls than climbs in the seeding, regardless of its result vs. St. John Vianney, although there remains a chance for either to happen. The Middletown South-Manalapan result might have more impact on the Bulldogs seeding than any game outside their own.
8. Christian Brothers Academy (11-6, 7-1)
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 at the moment due to a loss to Red Bank, but if the teams ahead of the Colts lose and Manalapan does its A North brethren a solid by upsetting Middletown South, CBA could be one of the main beneficiaries.
9. Freehold Township (14-3, 6-2)
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
Non-Division Losses: vs. Jackson Memorial
Before the Cutoff: Freehold Boro
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 don't really have an argument to jump 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.
10. Colts Neck (13-5, 6-4)
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
Non-Division Losses: vs. Freehold Twp.
Before the Cutoff: at Brick Memorial
Why They’re Here: Colts Neck was the only top 10 team to lose to open the week and that was a loss to a Middletown South team that has now won 14 straight. There is a case to drop the Cougars a spot or two, but they still have a résumé that's a little more consistent than that of Ranney and that has more impact wins than that of Point Boro.
11. Ranney (10-9, 4-6)
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
Non-Division Losses: Saddle River Day, vs. Notre Dame, vs. Rutgers Prep
Before the Cutoff: Matawan
Why They’re Here: Ranney locked up a spot in the tournament by pulling away to beat Neptune on Tuesday and will have one more landmine to navigate Thursday, when the Panthers host a motivated Matawan team. The knock on Ranney this far would be its inconsistency, so taking care of business against Matawan is paramount given that the No. 11 seed looks like a decent draw in this particular field.
12. Point Pleasant Boro (12-6, 5-5)
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
Non-Division Losses: at CBA
Before the Cutoff: at St. Rose, at Point Beach
Why They’re Here: All of Point Boro’s losses have come against teams that could very well end up in the top 10, 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)
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, 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 (15-5, 9-1)
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
Non-Division Losses: vs. Marlboro, vs. Middletown South, Raritan, Robbinsville
Before the Cutoff: at Manalapan
Why They’re Here: Central helped itself more than any other team so far this week by blowing out Brick Memorial at home. The Golden Eagles would have been hard-pressed to earn a home game without that win, but they are now set up to do just that. Manalapan can still spoil those plans on Friday, but Central at least now has a clear objective when it heads to play the Braves.
15. Brick Memorial (13-7, 6-4)
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
Before the Cutoff: at Jackson Memorial, 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 that the Mustangs over which the Mustangs are likely kicking themselves. A loss to Rumson at the buzzer, an overtime loss the Jackson Memorial in which they led by 17 at halftime and a home loss to Southern come to mind.
16. Southern (12-8, 6-4)
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
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 includes a loss to a Toms River South team well outside the field has knocked Southern out of the Top 10 and in danger of missing out on a home game. If Manalapan beats either Middletown South or Central, it could mean the Rams will be traveling for round one.
17. Manalapan (10-8, 4-4)
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
Before the Cutoff: Middletown South, Central
Why They’re Here: Manalapan’s five-game winning streak came to an end with a loss to Freehold Township, which leaves the Braves without a win over either of Class A North’s top teams. They do, however, have two more chances to pick off teams ahead of them before the cutoff without the threat of missing the tournament if they lose -- an ideal situation to be in at this time of year.
18. Ocean (14-5, 8-2) Previous Projection: 19
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
Non-Division Losses: Neptune, Jackson Memorial, Wall
Before the Cutoff: Middletown North
Why They’re Here: Ocean earned its share of the Class C South championship by beating Shore and in doing so, the Spartans moved up a few spots in the seeding, for better or worse. With two wins over Donovan Catholic, Ocean will be seeded ahead of the Griffins even in the event that Donovan Catholic clinches a share of the division championship.
19. Donovan Catholic (8-7, 7-2) Previous Projection: 23
Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), Lakewood (2), Monmouth (2), at Shore
Division Losses: Ocean (2)
Non-Division Wins: vs. Wall
Non-Division Losses: at Freehold Twp., vs. Freehold Twp., at Toms River North, Southern, at Central
Before the Cutoff: Shore
Why They’re Here: The Griffins helped their cause considerably by beating Monmouth on Monday and can take a huge step toward a top-20 seed by beating Shore at home on Thursday to wrap up a Class C South co-championship.
20. Shore (11-4, 5-3)
Division Wins: Jackson Liberty (2), 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
Before the Cutoff: at Donovan Catholic
Why They’re Here: With wins over Point Beach, Lacey and Ocean, Shore is a step ahead of the rest of the Class C South teams in non-divisional results, but Ocean winning the division will hold Shore back a few spots even if the Blue Devils beat Donovan Catholic on Thursday. On the other hand, the No. 19 seed might be preferable to No. 18 and 19 is probably Shore's ceiling.
21. Point Pleasant Beach (12-5, 7-1)
Division Wins: Asbury Park (2), Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2), Henry Hudson, 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
Before the Cutoff: 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 (11-7, 9-1)
Division Wins: Barnegat (2), Brick (2), Manchester (2), Pinelands (2), at Central
Division Losses: Central
Non-Division Wins: vs. Monmouth, Brick Memorial, Point Boro, Toms River East, St. John Vianney, Point Beach
Non-Division Losses: at Southern, at Shore
Before the Cutoff: at Howell, at Toms River North
Why They’re Here: The head-to-head loss to Point Beach at home and a road loss to Shore leaves Lacey in the 20-plus range, but a win over Central last week should catch some eyes. The last chance to Lacey to climb will be a road showdown with Toms River North, which would be a powerful enough win to negate the losses to Shore and Point Beach and push Lacey toward a home game.
23. Matawan (11-8, 4-6)
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
Non-Division Losses: St. Rose, Old Bridge
Before the Cutoff: at Ranney, at Old Bridge
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. A head-to-head win over Monmouth gives Matawan the edge over the Falcons and Keyport, but that is it for now. Holmdel qualifying at the end of the week would definitely help Matawan's case to climb, as would a Huskies win over Ranney, of course.
24. Monmouth (11-9, 6-4)
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)
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, the Red Raiders will be one of the last two or three seeds, depending on which teams get in.
Keansburg (6-7, 2-6)
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
Non-Division Losses: South River
Before the Cutoff: at Lakewood
Chances to Qualify: Very good. The Titans will have to win at Lakewood to qualify and while that's not a given, it's a good of an opportunity as Keansburg could hope for. If Keansburg gets in, it would be the last seed.
St. John Vianney (10-12, 6-4)
Division Wins: Freehold Boro (2), Long Branch (2), Matawan (2)
Division Losses: Holmdel (2), Raritan (2)
Non-Division Wins: vs. Toms River South, at Lacey, Pioneer Academy, Howell
Non-Division Losses: vs. Toms River East, vs. Central, at Red Bank Catholic, vs. St. Rose, at Point Boro, vs. Toms River North, Middletown South, vs. Newark East Side
Before the Cutoff: at Rumson-Fair Haven, New Dorp (Pa.)
Chances to Qualify: Difficult. Like every other team that has tried this season, St. John Vianney could not find a way to beat Raritan and will now have to knock off Rumson in order to keep its SCT hopes alive.
Holmdel (8-9, 6-4)
Division Wins: Freehold Boro (2), Long Branch (2), St. John Vianney (2)
Division Losses: Matawan (2), Raritan (2)
Non-Division Wins: vs. Hamilton West, vs. Old Bridge
Non-Division Losses: vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, vs. Ranney, at Freehold Twp., vs. Egg Harbor, Red Bank Catholic
Before the Cutoff: Jackson Memorial
Chances to Qualify: Very real. It comes down to one game for Holmdel and it is going to feel like a first-round road game considering the quality of opponent. Jackson Memorial will be a tough matchup for the Hornets, but they played them in last year's tournament and have the shooting to make it interesting.
Asbury Park (5-6, 4-4)
Division Wins: Henry Hudson (2), Keansburg (2)
Division Losses: Keyport (2), Point Beach (2)
Non-Division Wins: at Pinelands
Non-Division Losses: Brick, at Freehold Boro
Chances to Qualify: Challenging. Asbury Park will have to beat a 9-8 Group IV opponent on the road to get into the tournament, which the Blue Bishops are capable of doing at their best.
* - Notes the team has not yet added a game to the schedule that would allow it a chance to qualify by Friday's cutoff.
*Marlboro (7-9, 3-5)
Division Wins: Howell (2), at Freehold Twp.
Division Losses: CBA (2), Manalapan (2), Freehold Twp.
Non-Division Wins: at Middletown South, vs. Central, Middletown North, Red Bank Catholic
Non-Division Losses: vs. Toms River East, vs. Brick Memorial, at Robbinsville, at Rumson-Fair Haven
Before the Cutoff: at Neptune
*Henry Hudson (9-11, 0-7)
Division Wins: None
Division Losses: Asbury Park (2), Keansburg (2), Keyport (2), Point Beach (2)
Non-Division Wins: University Charter, Thomas Edison Charter, vs. South Amboy, at Warren Tech, Piscataway Magnet, College Achieve Central, Academy Charter, at Lakewood, at Dunellen
Non-Division Losses: Brearley, vs. South River, Freehold Boro
Before the Cutoff: Academy for Urban Leadership
(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) Shore at (13) Red Bank Catholic
(19) Donovan Catholic 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) Donovan Catholic/(14) Central winner at (3) Raritan
(20) Shore/(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
(23) Matawan/(10) Colts Neck winner at (7) Rumson-Fair Haven