By: Clay Kallam
For the first time this season, no teams dropped out of the Xcellent 25 — and the same thing could happen (or not happen) this coming week as well. The end of the regular season and the early rounds of the playoffs are usually quiet times for the elite teams, as the competition just isn't there.
But after a couple rounds of postseason, things get more perilous for the ranked teams. Even though they may be playing schools that, on paper, can't measure up to the Xcellent 25 in talent level, there's nothing like winning a couple playoff games to boost confidence — and there's nothing like playing a nationally recognized team to inspire an underdog to come up with its best performance of the year.
Of course, some states are a couple weeks away from postseason play while others will be down to their final fours within a few days, so, for example, don't look for No. 1 Archbishop Mitty or No. 6 St. Mary's to be severely tested until early March, while No. 4 Paul VI and No. 5 St. John's will have finished the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs before February ends.
Sooner or later, though, almost every team in the Xcellent 25 will be tested, most likely more than once, and some will not pass those tests — so expect the final version of these rankings to be significantly different than the ones published today. The tricky part, however, is trying to figure out which teams will survive, and which teams won't.
(Note: Teams that wish to be recognized either locally or nationally should make sure their information – schedule, results, roster, coach, etc. — is up to date on MaxPreps. If you have any issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
1. (last week 1) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 20-0
Four league games remain for Archbishop Mitty, with the toughest (against Sacred Heart Cathedral) most likely this Saturday — but it's in the friendly confines.
2. (3) Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.),18-0
After getting past yet another ranked opponent Tuesday — No. 13 St. John-Vianney was the victim — Christ the King is hoping that somewhere between now and the end of March, Mitty figures out a way to lose.
3. (4) Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 25-1
It only gets easier for Riverdale, with three extremely easy games before the 4A playoffs begin Valentine's Day.
4. (5) Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.), 22-2
Paul VI can't savor that big win over previous No. 2 St. John's for too long, because PVI travels to Bishop Ireton Sunday — and Bishop Ireton has already knocked one Xcellent 25 member (Bishop McNamara) out of the rankings.
5. (2) St. John's (Washington, D.C.), 20-2
So the series with No. 4 Paul VI stands even at one apiece. The rubber match will very likely be in the championship game of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs — but like PVI, St. John's has to travel to Bishop Ireton this weekend.
6. (6) St. Mary's (Stockton, Calif.), 20-2
St. Mary's got past Carondelet 80-70 Saturday, and plays another NorCal power, Salesian, Wednesday on a neutral court. Note that Salesian also beat Carondelet, but by six rather than 10.
7. (7) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy (Chattanooga, Tenn.), 19-2
Not a lot of teams want to play Hamilton Heights late in the season — or at any time, for that matter. Hamilton Heights has only two games before the National Association of Christian Athletes tournament in late February.
8. (8) Duncanville (Texas), 35-1
After surviving DeSoto in overtime Tuesday, Duncanville shouldn't have too much of an issue in the early stages of the Texas 6A playoffs — but you never know.
9. (9) Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), 16-4
Riverdale Baptist will play three times this week, but the biggest challenge (before postseason) will come Feb. 16 at National Christian Academy.
10. (14) Mansfield Timberview (Arlington, Texas), 34-2
Mansfield Timberview jumps into the Top 10 because its road to the Texas 5A title (a class below No. 8 Duncanville) looks to be tougher than those ahead of No. 11 Southeast Raleigh and No. 12 Princess Anne.
11. (11) Southeast Raleigh (Raleigh, N.C.), 23-0
Southeast Raleigh starts postseason, and Northwest Guilford looks to be the biggest threat — but that matchup is a few weeks away.
12. (12) Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.), 18-1
Due to some health issues with Riverdale Baptist's head coach, that game with Princess Anne was cancelled, so all Princess Anne has left are two easy games and a playoff bracket that doesn't look as strong as in many other states.
13. (13) St. John-Vianney (Holmdel, N.J.), 19-1
A team can only do so much. After beating previously ranked Long Island Lutheran, St. John-Vianney fell short at Christ the King — but lost no ground in the rankings.
14. (18) Centennial (Las Vegas), 23-3
Centennial did all it could, playing all over the Western United States, losing only to teams ranked ahead of it, and beating quality teams along the way. Spring Valley could be a problem in the Nevada postseason, but Centennial is the heavy favorite.
15. (15) Baldwin (N.Y.), 17-1
Baldwin will finish up rolling over weak league opponents, and move into New York's convoluted postseason. A Federation title game between Baldwin and No. 2 Christ the King, however, would be worth waiting for.
16. (16) Mercer County (Harrodsburg, Ky.), 23-3
Some teams like to ease into postseason. Mercer County, on the other hand, ramps up before the playoffs start — 20-4 Casey County is Friday's opponent, 18-3 Butler is on Saturday, and 20-4 Russell County wraps up as tough a three-game-in-four-day stretch as you'll find on Monday.
17. (17) Pike (Indianapolis), 24-1
Pike got past always tough Ben Davis 50-45 Saturday, and must now win two games this coming Saturday, the first against 18-6 New Palestine. If Pike wins both, it's in the 4A Final Four.
18. (10) Winter Haven (Fla.), 26-1
Winter Haven lost to Montverde in overtime, thus knocking Florida's best out of the Top 10, and now the playoffs — which in Florida means nine different (watered-down) divisions — are under way.
19. (19) Central Valley (Spokane Valley, Wash.), 20-0
Central Valley has established its dominance in eastern Washington, and even though the playoffs have begun, the first real test likely won't come until Feb. 16, when 17-3 Chiawana is the likely opponent.
20. (20) St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), 17-4
St. Frances has played a brutal schedule, and outlasted McDonogh on Tuesday, so the two easy games to finish the regular season will be a welcome break.
21. (21) Westlake (Atlanta), 23-1
The AAAAAAA (why don't they just call it 7A?) district playoffs will most likely give Wheeler another shot at Westlake — and Wheeler only lost by four the last time the two teams played.
22. (22) Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio), 21-2
It will be a playoff preview Saturday when Pickerington Central travels to unbeaten Newark, but both Lakota West and Mount Notre Dame have a chance to win the Ohio Division I title as well. Whichever team survives will have earned its championship.
23. (23) St. Rose (Belmar, N.J.), 17-1
If not for an upset loss to Red Bank Catholic, Manasquan might be occupying this spot — and since St. Rose and Manasquan play Saturday, the potential could become reality next week.
24. (24) Eastview (Apple Valley, Minn.), 19-0
Eastview, most likely looking ahead to postseason, barely got by Apple Valley 50-45, though a similar letdown against 18-4 Park Wednesday could result in loss No. 1. The game is at Eastview, however.
25. (25) Edwardsville (Ill.), 24-0
Another easy game for Edwardsville, and then Illinois playoffs begin — but the Illinois playoffs are never easy.
Dropped out: None.