WGAM the Game and the Nashua Telegraph are two of the biggest media outlets in the state, especially when it comes to high school sports coverage. And just like they did during football season, they also come together during basketball season to vote on the top 10 basketball teams in the state (regardless of division or geographic location).
The poll's voters are the members of WGAM's Friday Night Lights program (including yours truly) and the Nashua Telegraph sports staff members. Here is this week's poll, followed by my ballot and some of my reasoning behind it.
1) Manchester Central
4) Manchester Memorial
5) Nashua South
Now, here's what my ballot looked like:
1. Manchester Central
3. Nashua South
4. Manchester Memorial
7. Bishop Guertin
Here's why I voted that way:
1. Manchester Central - only blemish on their record is the loss to Memorial in QCIT semis. All of their other games they have won, including an 18 point win over Trinity.
2. Trinity - undefeated regular season record and impressive wins over South and Spaulding. I just can't put them ahead of Central since they lost to them by so much in the QCIBT when both teams were playing to win.
3. Nashua South - their only loss so far was an overtime thriller at the hands of Trinity.
4. Manchester Memorial - only 1 loss for the Crusaders, they beat Central and won the QCIBT. However I can't rank them higher than this since they lost to an un-ranked Dover team (although one could make the argument that Dover would be ranked in the 9 or 10 spot if they still had Mike Wons).
5. Pembroke - yes, they're undefeated. They're the only undefeated team on the list, so they should be #1, right? Maybe, but strength of schedule has to also factor in. Pembroke has beaten some of the top teams in D-II, like Hollis-Brookline, Souhegan and Bishop Brady. But they don't play the same competition week in and week out as the big boys in D-I. If Pembroke still had Andrew Houde and Brad Rhoades I probably would have them #1. These top 5 teams are all pretty close.
6. Spaulding - Their only losses so far are a close loss on the road to Trinity where Dominic Paradis was in foul trouble for most of the game, and a loss to Winnacunnet over the holidays (a loss which they avenged last Tuesday night when they beat the Warriors by double digits). These guys are right there with those 5 teams currently ranked ahead of them.
7. Bishop Guertin - a solid choice for the #7 spot, as Guertin is 7-1 in D-I play. You have to give these guys some props, as myself and many others had them severely underrated during the preseason. BG and Portsmouth are both teams who graduated their entire starting lineups from last year's team but are still making a lot of noise. You have to give Coach Mignneault and Coach Mulvey a lot of credit for what they have done so far.
8. Lebanon - for my money they're the second best team in D-II after Pembroke, and their record shows it. Congrats to Raiders point guard David Hampton for scoring his 1,000th point on Friday night. Everyone has been saying that D-II Player of the Year is going to either be Pembroke's Pat Welch or Brandon Len from Souhegan, but Hampton is right there with those two.
9. Winnacunnet - looks like I may have been the only voter with these guys on my ballot. I think the other voters are forgetting the Warriors beat Spaulding in the Oyster River Holiday Tournament (a tourney Winnacunnet won), one of their losses came on a buzzer-beater and that one of their losses came without Rich Ruffin (one of their best players) out with a foot injury. Don't sleep on Coach McKenna's team - they're deep and they'll be there at the end.
10. Alvirne - tough call for the last spot. Give it to Alvirne, Bedford or Merrimack? Maybe a D-II team like Portsmouth, Goffstown or Souhegan? Maybe Conant in D-III? It's just my opinion that Alvirne is better than the others. Tyler Brown has emerged to give them a tough 1-2 punch inside with Tyler Livingston, and these guys always get better as the season goes on.
Let the debates begin!