The WPIAL basketball championships are this weekend at Duquesne University's Palumbo Center and there is a chance that the coach of the No. 1 college team in the country could be in attendance tonight.
A birdie told me Kentucky's John Calipari mgith be coming to the Class A game between Lincoln Park and Cornell? Why in the world would Calipari come to this game? He's not recruiting any players from either team. Well, it all has to do with Cornell coach Bill Sacco, who coached Calipari at Moon.
It would not surprise me at all if Calipari showed up. That's the way he is. He is extremely loyal and giving to his former coaches. When Calipari played at Clarion University, his coach was Joe DeGregorio. Calipari has flown DeGregorio and his wife to Final Fours in the past. It would be great if Calipari showed up tonight.
And I'm ready to show up with my championship predictions. I was 12-4 in the semifinals, which brings my postseason record to 64-20 (.762 percentage). Here we go:
Oops. One last thing. All championship games (boys and girls) will be on Comcast cable television OnDemand beginning Monday.
Central Catholic vs. Gateway (Class AAAA), Saturday at 9 - It's the No. 11 seed (Gateway) against the No. 12 seed (Central Catholic). But please. Everyone knew going into the playoffs that these two teams had enough talent to go far, and even win it. They just had a few hiccups during the season. Central Catholic played in tough Section 3, where it lost six games. I found it interesting yesterday when Central Catholic coach Chuck Crummie said, "Our section was tough. All we just kept saying was, 'Just let us get in, let us get in' and then we'll see what happens." This game should be interesting. Gateway is so much bigger than teams, but Central Catholic is one of the few teams that has some size to go against the Gators. I'm not saying Central Catholic is as big as Gateway, but the Vikings at least have enough size and athleticism to make it a little tougher on Gateway on the inside. The Gators have been much-maligned over the past two seasons, but all they do is keep winning. Winner: Gateway.
New Castle vs. Hampton (Class AAA), tonight at 9 - The runnin' Canes have a chance to become the first team to win a WPIAL title with an undefeated record since Blackhawk in 2000. New Castle has been tremendous this season, but don't be surprised if the Red Hurricanes have their hands full with Hampton. The Talbots have tall guards (6-6 Ryan Luther and 6-5 Collin Luther) who will be able to see and pass over New Castle traps. A key to the game will be New Castle's perimeter shooting. Winner: New Castle.
Beaver Falls vs. Monessen (Class AA), Saturday at 5 - Class AA often brings about terrific title games and this year could be more of the same. Monessen is the defending champ, but many pegged Beaver Falls as the team to beat entering the playoffs. Beaver Falls' man-to-man defense is excellent. The Tigers don't trap all that much, but lock people down with excellent on-the-ball defense. Can they do the same against Monessen? The scholarship offers from Division I colleges keep coming for BFalls' Sheldon Jeter. Now a WPIAL title comes his way, too. Winner: Beaver Falls.
Cornell vs. Lincoln Park (Class A), tonight at 5 - If Calipari shows up, do you think there is any way he could bring Anthony Davis with him? That might be the only way Cornell would have a chance in this game. Lincoln Park is just too big - and too good. Winner: Lincoln Park.
Oakland Catholic vs. Mt. Lebanon, tonight at 7 - Two of the perennial powers in Class AAAA go head to head. Together, these two teams have eight WPIAL titles between them since 1999. Guard play is the key to this game. Mt. Lebanon has a size advantage but coach Dori Oldaker said she doesn't know if that will matter. Winner: Oakland Catholic.
Hopewell vs. South Park, Saturday at 7 - Check out Hopewell junior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (pictured), a big-time talent who already has Division I college offers. She has been on a torrid scoring pace in the playoffs. The question is how much help will she have from her teammates? Winner: South Park.
Seton-LaSalle vs. Bishop Canevin, today at 3 - This game is so early the girls from these two Catholic schools can play and still get home in time for the fish fry at the local church. Bishop Canevin is one of the few Class AA teams that can give Seton-LaSalle a game. The Crusaders just can't beat the Rebels. Winner: Seton-LaSalle.
North Catholic vs. Vincentian, tomorrow at 3 - Vincentian leading scorer, Brenna Wise, has missed all three playoff games with an injured ankle. There is a chance she might play tomorrow. But even if she doesn't, Vincentian has proven it is still a formidable team. But good enough to win the WPIAL title? Winner: North Catholic.