UPDATED Thursday 2/8/25 11:45AM
The technical term for this week is what the experts call "nut-cutting time" if you want a chance for "net-cutting time". Basically we're down to two games for almost every team with 6 days left in the season and with that, we think the bubble is down to 8 teams based on the math. Barring a series of mammoth upsets, the bubble looks like 8 teams for 4 spots.
Box State Brackets believes that if you are more than 4 spots in average ranking (Max +RPI) away from Bear Creek's average ranking of 32 at #32 you are on the bubble. That means the habitual bubblers FNE Warriors, Mullen, Horizon, Legand, and CT are out. Fairview's statement win over Front Range leader Fort Collins loudly took the Knights off the bubble on Saturday.
Chaparral, Rangeview, Denver South, and Bear Creek are sitting comfortably on the correct side of the bubble, while Boulder, Castle View, Overland, and Poudre are on the wrong side.
We've also got an interesting battle for the 8 seed which guarantees teams will not play on the road in the playoffs between Regis, Fort Collins, Highlands Ranch, Vista Ridge, and maybe even Grandview. Meanwhile the the battle to stay in the top 16 involves Fruita, Ralston Valley, ThunderRidge, and Fountain Fort Carson trying to hold off Eaglecrest, Broomfield, Doherty, and Arvada West.
Teams fit into four categories in Box State Bubble Watch: Locks, Feeling Good, Proceed with Caution, and Worried. We’re not trying necessarily trying to predict victories or losses, but instead be realistic about a variety of scenarios (some implausable).
Locks are in regardless if they lose out the rest of the way.
Feeling good teams are likely in barring Nick Anderson shooting free throws at the end of every game. In other words, barring losing out these teams are in.
Proceed with caution teams are in the field as of now, but it could take winning out to get in come February 19.
Worried need to get on a win out and get help.
There are three big seeding lines to pay attention to:
TOP 8: Host two playoff games, then the Coliseum
TOP 16: Host one playoff game, then one road game barring upsets
25-32: No chance to host a playoff game, but still in the field
Based on historical data the Box State Bubble Watch believes an RPI around.545 and Max Preps of 9.6 is the typical cutline for the top 32. However, like we've been saying since mid-January this year the bubble is shaping up a little softer in a season in which parity has ruled a competitive 6A field. Numbers like .530/8.2 might just be enough this year. After 2/13 we think it's more likely to be a .525 and 8.5 this year.
Locks: Smoky Hill, Grandview, Eaglecrest, Cherry Creek
Feeling Good: Arapahoe
Proceed with Caution:
Smoky Hill didn't win the Centennial regular season title but they have a chance to avenge their two league losses this week. They'll travel to Eaglecrest Wednesday and then face Grandview/Cherry Creek on Saturday in either a championship or third place game. The Buffaloes are a lock to stay in the top 8, but despite beating Valor could fall behind the red hot Eagles if they don't win out. One win should keep Smoky ahead of Regis, but it will get dicey depending on who their final opponent is on Saturday.
Grandview has won seven in a row since a 54-49 loss to Columbine on January 23. The Wolves are enormous across the board and nothing was impressive than their enormous title clinching win over Smoky Hill on Wednesday. The Wolves sit 11th right now with a big RPI deficit that will be too hard to overcome to reach the top 8. A Centennial Tournament championship could help the Wolves get to 9th but they'll need help in the process.
Eaglecrest could reach the top 16 by winning the Centennial Tournament, but their #20 RPI is going to be difficult to overcome. They'll likely need help in front of them to reach there even with two wins. Ahead of them, #15 ThunderRidge with only Mountain Vista to play this week is going to be almost impossible to pass and despite losing three in a row and relatively week MaxPreps numbers, #16 Fountain Fort finishes with Liberty and Rampart, who sit a combined 6-35.
Cherry Creek trailed at halftime Saturday against Arapahoe, but managed to pull out a nail-biter down the stretch. Their reward? A rematch with Grandview, who beat the Bruins 42-41 two weeks ago. Creek sits #21 and is in an interesting spot this week. The Bruins could easily lose two games to higher seeded opponents and even though they have good numbers for an 11-10 team, could finish 11-12 and tumble down the seeds.
Arapahoe has been hanging in the mid-20's for two weeks now and the Warriors feel 95% safe, even sitting at 27. Losing to CT and say Mullen would be pretty disastrous, but even at 10-13, the Warriors numbers are just too good for them to fall out of the Bracket.
Overland's 81-73 loss to the Buffaloes might not be the end of their hopes as the Blazers will now face Mullen and Arapahoe/CT in the losers bracket of the Centennial tourney. The Blazers need help in front of them, but it will get very interesting for Danny Fisher's squad if they can win both.
Colorado Springs Metro
Locks: Fountain Fort Carson, Vista Ridge, Doherty, Pine Creek
Proceed with Caution:
Vista Ridge is in the best shape of anyone in their league in terms of seeding. The Wolves need a little help, but they could host their first two playoff games. The Wolves avenged one of their two regular season league losses by beating Pine Creek 51-42 Friday and now they have Doherty on Tuesday to keep those hopes alive. The Wolves
Fountain Fort Carson started 14-0 and now sit 16-5 after losing five times in seven games after Friday's loss to Doherty. The RPI still loves the Trojans and they only face Rampart and Liberty to finish out. Winning those two will probably guarantee FFC's first round game at home, but its going to tighten up significantly.
Doherty is two games away from running the CS Metro League undefeated. The Spartans could finish 16-7 after going 5-7 in the non-conference. To do that they'll have to defeat the league's other top two teams concluding with road trips to Vista Ridge and Pine Creek. Doherty sits at 19 with the 2/13 update, but could climb to 16 if things break in their favor.
Pine Creek has fallen down to #25 this week, but a #21 RPI ranking is helping the Eagles quite a bit. They'll take on Rampart, who they narrowly beat 54-52 in January, then finish with Doherty who trounced the Eagles 60-28 earlier. Pine Creek is fine for the playoffs, but their first round matchup gets more and more difficult each week.
Locks: Rock Canyon, Mountain Vista, Highlands Ranch, ThunderRidge, Regis
Feeling Good: Douglas County
Proceed with Caution: Chaparral
Worried: Castle View
Mountain Vista might be the best team in the state and their second win over Rock Canyon pushed the Eagles have now hopped Rock Canyon in the S/S Index. Thankfully Coach Brian Wood teaches Math because the numbers will get very interesting in the next week. MV plays two playoff teams in their final two games (Douglas County and ThunderRidge), so with two wins the Eagles will beat RC for the #1 spot. The head-2-head tiebreaker virtually guarantees this scenario for MV if they win out.
Rock Canyon: Canyon won't get much help for their numbers this week playing Heritage and Chaparral. While Canyon still leads Mountain Vista in MaxPreps, the Eagles with keep their number one overall seed with two wins this week based on having the #1 RPI and the head-2-head tiebreaker.
Regis is still flying up the seed line as we head down the stretch and their 69-66 win over Highlands Ranch in which the Raiders shot 81% in the second half to come back from a 10-pt halftime deficit, then a convincing Friday win over ThunderRidge all but secured their top 8 seed. Regis won't get a ton of help numbers wise from Castle View and Legend this week, but winning out will get the Raiders two home games.
Highlands Ranch is still a strong contender in the race for the top 8 seeds, but the Falcons probably don't control their own destiny now. The Falcons dropped that instant classic against Regis (still not sure why HR had to play AT Regis two consecutive years) and now need to win out to pull a top 8 seed. A 2-0 record against Chaparral, and Douglas County are needed for the Falcons to stick in the top 8, but it will be a nail biter for Jordan Carter's Falcons and they'll need a little help
ThunderRidge has lost 4 of 5 and the two-time defending state champions now face a brutal home finale against #1 Mountain Vista. A loss probably won't push the #15 Grizzlies out of a top 16 seed because of great MaxPreps numbers, but Sunday's bracket wait won't be an easy one with a loss.
Douglas County doesn't have the prettiest record, but the Huskies have played the toughest schedule in the state according to MaxPreps. County is safely in the field despite a 72-63 overtime loss to a much-much better than the record Heritage. Mountain Vista on Tuesday, a very dangerous Ponderosa team on Thursday, and then hosting Highlands Ranch on Friday is a really tough four days for the Huskies to finish the season and maintain their #23 seed.
Chaparral put themselves in great position by knocking off ThunderRidge Tuesday and while tough contests against Highlands Ranch and Rock Canyon remain on their schedule, Chap has rapidly improved their chances and sit #29 with a week to go. The Wolverines need one of those two to feel safe, but realistically have enough of a buffer over the rest of the bubble that two losses against top ten teams could keep the Wolverines in.
Castle View is out of the field for the first time all season The Sabercats aren't extinct just yet, but finishing with Regis and a scrappy Heritage team isn't an easy stretch, so they'll have to beat Heritage and hope for help if they can't beat Regis Tuesday. CV needs to be rooting hard against Chap, Rangeview, South, and Bear Creek this week.
Denver Prep League
Locks: Denver East
Proceed with Caution: Denver South, Rangeview
Denver East is rolling again and can't be overlooked as a state title contender following a rough start. The Angels have run off 18 in a row and aren't slowing down after January's monster win at Mountain Vista. The Angels crossover games in the final week of the season just isn't going to be enough to leap Fossil Ridge in the final week barring a major upset. The Angels might be able to pass Fossil Ridge to leap into the #3 seed by Selection Sunday.
Rangeview won the big bubble clash with Denver South Saturday to leap frog the Ravens in the selection/seeding and their reward was two higher ranked opponents in the standings. The Raiders get Thomas Jefferson in a revenge game on Tuesday and then Northfield on Saturday. Both teams are top 16 in 5A, so the wins will help and a loss won't hurt much, but the Raiders have to get at least one to get in.
Denver South is in trouble following their 62-57 loss at Rangeview on Saturday. They dropped to #31 in the latest S/S update and have a tough matchup in 5A Top 10 Vista Peak on Tuesday. The Ravens numbers could say nevermore if they lose to the Bison, but the big contest will be Saturday's crossover game against a Denver North team they beat by 12 in early January. A win and the Ravens should be in barring major upsets.
Locks: Fossil Ridge, Fort Collins, Legacy, Broomfield, Monarch
Feeling Good: Fairview, Rocky Mountain
Proceed with Caution: Boulder
Fossil Ridge isn't going to get much help in the numbers this week, but wins against Northglenn and Poudre will firmly plant the Sabercats in the number three seed come Sunday.
Fort Collins Fort Collins has a tricky finish now after Fairview shot 60% in upsetting the Lambkins 79-61 on Saturday. After flying up the seeding, Fort Collins now sits 8th slightly behind Regis and slightly ahead of Highlands Ranch. A home contest against #12 Legacy and a road trip to rival Rocky Mountain present opportunities for plausable losses which will drop the Lambkins out of the top 8 because of their weak non-conference schedule.
Legacy has won 8 of 9 down the stretch and will be favored to have won 9 of 10 before their season finale at Fort Collins. MaxPreps likes the Lightning, but their RPI will probably leave them in the top 16 and no higher. Even with a win over Fort Collins, Legacy will be playing on the road if they venture to the Sweet 16.
Broomfield dropped a numbers killer to Loveland on Saturday and now face a road trip to Erie on Tuesday before Fairview at home in their season finale. The Eagles now find themselves in a very precarious spot as they try to clinch a top 16 seed. 2-0 is a must and they'll need a good bit of help too from FFC's opponents.
Monarch A big bubble win last Friday against Fairview in Louisville steadied the Coyotes and then they said goodbye to the bubble with a nail-biter over Boulder. Monarch now finishes with favored home games against Loveland and Brighton. Monarch could finish 16-7, but the top 16 is out of reach.
Fairview The Knights cemented their tournament status with their huge win over Fort Collins Saturday afternoon. Fairview shot 50% from three to knock off the Lambkins and now a Friday trip to Broomfield will help us see how high they can climb. The Knight were once 2-5, but have gone 11-3 since to become a feared opponent come tournament time.
Rocky Mountain isn't really on the bubble, but they aren't exactly rock solid at #28. The Lobos loaded up in the non-conference playing arguably the state's toughest non-conference schedule in Chaparral, Valor, ThunderRidge, Eaglecrest, Rangeview, Highlands Ranch, and Regis. The Lobos will be heavy favorites on Tuesday against Mountain Range before hosting Fort Collins on Friday.
Boulder has been trending in the wrong direction going 4-9 since January 1, but they steadied things Tuesday beating Erie and beating Prairie View on Friday. They finish with two more teams out of the field in Brighton, and Loveland, but Boulder can't risk not winning out and expect to make the playoffs. They sit #33 on 2/13 and they'll need to root hard against Bear Creek and others this week.
Poudre fought valiantly Thursday night leading for much of the first half against Fort Collins, but the Impalas weren't able to get the job done. Now Poudre needs to win their final three, which goes from Horizon to Fossil Ridge to Northglenn this week to get into the field.
Locks: Valor, Arvada West, Ralston Valley, Columbine
Proceed with Caution:
Worried: Bear Creek
Valor is absolutely rolling and keeps climbing the seed line. Now sitting 6th, a loss by Smoky Hill and the Eagles could very well rise up to 5th in the bracket if they win out, which is seeming very likely after handling Arvada West 75-46 Thursday night to avenge their only league loss. The only thing hurting Valor might be the poor numbers of their final opponents: Chatfield and Lakewood.
Ralston Valley's surprise loss to a feisty Bear Creek squad two weeks ago was a tough knock on their profile, but outside a loss to Valor the Mustangs have done enough to control their top 16 destiny. The Mustangs have a rematch with Bear Creek before closing out at Chatfield. They need both to stay in the top 16.
Arvada West once reached as high as 11, but losing 3 out of 4 including a 61-34 road loss to the bubble Bears of Bear Creek have dropped the Wildcats to 20th. The top 16 is likely out of reach for the Wildcats after dropping that road loss and beating #25 Columbine in their finale Friday won't be enough to push them much higher.
Columbine has proven capable of playing with anyone, but their inconsistency has dropped them to #24 this week. The Rebels (maybe time for a name change) are 9 point short of wins against Denver East, Highlands Ranch, Arvada West, and Rangeview. Losing a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter against Arvada West was particularly damaging for Randy Perkins' squad. The Rebels struggled in their 20 point loss to Ralston on Saturday and with just Lakewood on Wednesday and A West to finish the year, Columbine is looking at a tough first round matchup.
Bear Creek put themselves right on the edge of the bubble with their monster win against Ralston Valley last week and put themselves in the field by routing A West. The MaxPreps numbers were once very concerning for BC, but now they are probably facing a win and they are in matchup with Ralston Valley on Wednesday.
Locks: Fruita Monument
Fruita has played the worst schedule in 6A and it isn't even close. Their MaxPreps strength of schedule sits at 2.1 with Hinkley coming the next closest at 3.6 and no playoff Douglas County's. Yet the Western Slope Wildcats sit at 19 because of their absurdly high RPI numbers built on that schedule. The Wildcats are 3-0 against 6A and none of those teams are in the field, but they'll host Grand Junction Central in their last chance for a loss this week. Somebody is going to be taking a 5-hour trip next week to face Fruita.