The FCIAC boys basketball tournament appears to be wide open this season, and the race for playoff spots is following suit, with an insane traffic jam of five teams tied for fourth place and nine teams within three games of the top spot.
That five-team tie includes Bridgeport Central, Norwalk, Stamford, Trumbull and Fairfield Warde, each at 8-3 in the league, with Wilton just one game back in ninth place at 7-4.
After Wilton, there’s a big gap to the Brien McMahon Senators at 4-7, so the race is shaping up to be a battle of nine teams for eight spots, with one team left at the altar.
No team is hotter than the Trinity Catholic Crusaders, who are 11-1 in the conference and have won nine straight games. Trinity picked up huge victories over Warde, 71-68, and Danbury, 65-57 in its last two contests. The Crusaders face a daunting finish to the season, with games against playoff contenders Central, Trumbull and Stamford in their final four league games.
Even with their hot streak, and their first-place position, the Crusaders do not have the inside track for the No. 1 seed. That distinction belongs to the defending FCIAC champion Ridgefield Tigers, who are currently in second place.
The Tigers are 10-1 in the league, but own head-to-head tiebreakers over Trinity and the 10-2 Danbury Hatters, who are in third place. If Ridgefield wins its final five games, it would secure the top seed for the playoffs. Their toughest matchups are against Norwalk and Warde, both of whom are in the five-team tie for fourth place.
The Hatters had a seven-game win streak snapped by Trinity on Tuesday, and they still have Central, Wilton and Trumbull on the schedule.
In terms of the five-team tie, there’s still a lot to be determined with several head-to-head contests among contenders still to come.
Trumbull has the most difficult schedule remaining with Warde, Norwalk, Trinity, Central and Danbury all to come.
Central has Danbury, Trinity, Stamford and Trumbull remaining; Norwalk has Stamford, Trumbull, and Ridgefield on the slate; and Stamford will face Norwalk, Central, Wilton and Trinity.
Warde, which has lost three of four, has the easiest (on paper) finish to the season, as they’ll face just two teams — Trumbull and Ridgefield — with winning records.
Wilton, currently outside the playoff bubble, will square off with Danbury and Stamford, but their other three games are against sub-.500 teams.
Saturday, Feb. 24
Quarterfinals at Fairfield-Warde HS
No. 3 vs. No. 6 at noon
No. 2 vs. No. 7 at 2 p.m.
No. 4 vs. No. 5 at 5 p.m.
No. 1 vs. No. 8 at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 27
Semifinals at Wilton HS, 6 and 7:45 p.m.
Note: Highest remaining seed has choice of game time
Thursday, March 1
Championship at Wilton HS, 7 p.m.