Coaches' wives across the state have long given up hope on celebrating Valentine's Day, but hopefully they haven't given up hope on their favorite teams bubble hopes. So cue the Luther Vandross (One Shining Moment obviously) and dig in on tonight's action.
After a light Monday night, 6A features a 21 game night with 19 of the games involving at least one of the 36 teams Box State Brackets believes are in the playoff hunt with five days remaining in the regular season. Three quarters of our projected bubble teams: Poudre, Chaparral, Boulder, Rangeview, Castle View, and Denver South are all in action tonight.
There are also several games with monstrous seeding implications at the top of the bracket, where Fort Collins, Vista Ridge, and to a lesser degree Legacy are fighting for a top 8 seed guaranteeing their only travel would be to the Denver Coliseum in March.
Legacy (17-5, 11-3) +5 at Fort Collins (18-3, 21-1) 6:30PM
Defeating Prairie View 69-57 on Monday actually hurt the Lightning's seeding by moving two hundreths of a point (.597 to .595) tying them with Grandview and effectively dropped them two spots. This is Legacy's final game of the regular season and while their seed will continue to move slightly the rest of the week, Coach Connor Clay's boys are highly likely to open the playoffs at home next week.
Meanwhile Fort Collins finds itself on the edge of the top 8 following their surprising Saturday loss to red-hot Fairview 68-51. A win for the Lambkins tonight doesn't assure them of that coveted spot as they still face a tricky Friday night rivalry clash against a talented, but inconsistent Rocky Mountain squad. Because of a light non-conference slate and low strength of schedule numbers (4th lowest in the projected playoff field) their 18-3 record isn't enough to guarantee them two home games just yet.
Regis (15-6, 6-2) -18.5 at Castle View (10-11, 1-7) 7:00PM NFHS Network
Regis needs to go on the road at Castle View and Legend this week to secure a top-eight spot. The Raiders are significant favorites in both games and could potentially reach as high as the fifth seed depending on mathematics and what Smoky Hill does this week in two tough Centennial tournament matchups.
As far as the Sabercats go, a win tonight would put the Sabercats in the field because of the immense MaxPreps and RPI numbers boost. It'll be a tall task for a Sabercats team that has struggled mightily down the stretch losing six in a row. However, Castle View has two big wins working for them: 65-55 over Bear Creek and 62-55 over Chaparral. The win over Bear Creek could be the deciding factor at #32 on Sunday. That also means the Sabercats HAVE to win Friday at Heritage.
Highlands Ranch (15-5, 5-3) -7.5 at Chaparral (10-11, 3-5) 7:00PM NFHS Network
Chaparral has a murderer's row of a week hosting Highlands Ranch before heading west on Lincoln Avenue to battle Rock Canyon on Senior Night. Sitting at #29, Chaparral is looking at several scenarios that will keep them in the bracket. Beating the Falcons tonight would lock the Wolverines into the field, but even losing both games Nate Rohnert's crew might still slip in. Losing to two top ten teams isn't going to hurt their stellar MaxPreps numbers (11) which put them closer to 22nd (13.6) than 33rd (8).
Highlands Ranch has appeared to wobble a bit of late losing 3 of 5 since their 13-2 start, but that tends to happen to good teams in the Continental. The Falcons are assured a first round home playoff game, but they are the first team out of the top 8 at this point. Coach Jordan Carter's Falcons need to win two and then root hard for their early season opponent Legacy (42-41 HR win) knocks off Fort Collins or and against another early season opponent Vista Ridge (66-57 HR win) to lose for the Falcons to jump the Wolves in RPI.
Doherty (14-7, 8-0) +4 at Vista Ridge (16-5, 6-2) 7:00PM NFHS Network
In their first meeting, Doherty defeated Vista Ridge 54-43 three weeks ago on the way to cementing their status as the best team in the Springs. Yet that pesky RPI doesn't see it that way, punishing the Spartans for playing seven 6A non-conference teams currently in the field while Fountain Fort Carson, who sits ahead of them in the RPI played zero. Doherty is going to be a fascinating seeding experiment, but its still clear that winning out isn't enough to move into the top 16.
Vista Ridge on the other hand is beloved by the RPI because of its two wins over Fountain Fort Carson and 5A final four challengers Windsor and Lewis Palmer, while losing to Fort Collins, Highlands Ranch, and Mesa Ridge didn't hurt much either. The RPI (7) doesn't match the MaxPreps (14) though, so even with a win the Wolves may not be able to reach the top 8. Regardless this one should have a playoff feel.
Thomas Jefferson (13-8, 7-0) +2 at Rangeview (10-11, 5-1) 7:00PM NFHS Network
This is an interesting rematch tonight in A-town. In December TJ ground out an ugly 45-43 win over the Raiders, but these are both improved teams since then. The Spartans have won eight out of nine with the only loss coming by six points against Denver East. Meanwhile the Raiders are equally hot winning seven of eight with their only loss coming to East as well. TJ needs this one to stay home in round one in 5A, while Rangeview doesn't necessarily have to have this one tonight (a win Saturday at Northfield might be enough), but Shawn Palmer's crew doesn't need to mess around.
Vista Peak (16-5, 5-2) -2 at Denver South (11-10, 3-3) 7:30PM NFHS Network
By losing to Rangeview on Saturday, Denver South set themselves up with two rematches in the new DPL crossover games. The first is a rematch of a January clash that the Bison won 56-51. A loss tonight and the Ravens would fall from 31st and out of the current field, while a win would probably cement their status. Its that simple. If the Ravens manage to lose, a win Saturday over Denver North would only get them in with some help from the bubble around them.
Boulder (10-11, 5-8) -7 at Brighton (8-13, 5-8) 6:30PM NFHS Network
Brighton is out of the field, but Boulder is in prime position to play their way in, but they need a little help. The Panthers need this one tonight and Friday at Loveland (not as easy as you'd think, ask Broomfield) plus a loss or two from Bear Creek, Denver South, or Rangeview.
Horizon (8-13, 6-7) +9 at Poudre (9-11, 5-7) 6:30PM NFHS Network
A quick Wikipedia search reveals that Impalas (a type of antelope) are not native to the western hemisphere, let alone Fort Collins, but we won't hold it against Silas McCurnin and his Zoologically challenged high school. Arguably more importantly, Poudre is absolutely in a must-win scenario and any losses the rest of the way will knock the Impalas out of the field. A victory tonight against Horizon only sets up the chance they can play their way into the field by beating Fossil Ridge Thursday. Without bubble Armageddon in front of the North American Antelopes, a 2-1 record this week won't be enough. Why no discussion of current #39 Horizon as a bubble team? Their MaxPreps numbers (4.8) would need to nearly be doubled to have a chance to slip in and that scenario is for all intents and purposes mathematically impossible.
The rest of the Valentine's Day Action:
Loveland +16 at Monarch
Prairie View +30 at Fairview
Mountain Range +23 at Rocky Mountain
Legend +9 at Ponderosa
Heritage +28 at Rock Canyon
Fossil Ridge -55 at Northglenn
Pine Creek -14.5 at Rampart
Denver West -14 at Westminster
Douglas County +21 at Mountain Vista
Broomfield -18 at Erie
Liberty -17 at Fountain Fort Carson
Northfield +17 at Denver East
Grand Junction Central +9.5 at Fruita