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High school boys basketball: There are no -- or maybe too many -- favorites in Class 4A

12:00 AM, Feb. 04, 2013 EST

Fishers beats Carmel. Carmel beats Cathedral. Cathedral beats Tech. Tech beats Warren Central. Warren Central beats Ben Davis. Ben Davis beats North Central. North Central beats Lawrence North. Lawrence North beats Hamilton Southeastern.

Dizzy? We haven't even mentioned Pike, which plays Hamilton Southeastern next week.

If it seems the Class 4A boys basketball field is as wide open as it has been in recent years, it is. I count at least 10 teams that have a legitimate shot at winning a state championship, making the sectional draw on Feb. 17 all the more interesting.

As we sit in early February, here are the teams I believe have the best chance (in order) of winning state in 4A and why:

Carmel (15-1): The defending champs have a core group that has been there before. The Greyhounds are an outstanding defensive and outside shooting team. Carmel also hosts the sectional, though the draw will be key with North Central and Hamilton Southeastern also in the field. If the Greyhounds can navigate the sectional, the path to Bankers Life Fieldhouse is again there for the taking.

Cathedral (14-5): The Irish have put on defensive clinics in recent wins over Tech and Lake Central. The team is senior dominated and playing with a sense of urgency now that the end is near. Basically, this is the team we expected Cathedral to be. The Warren Central sectional is no cakewalk, however, with the host Warriors, Tech and Lawrence North included.

Columbus North (18-1): Not only does Columbus North have a very good (and tall) team, it has a less hazardous path to the semistate than others. Sectional 14 rivals Columbus East and the two Bloomington schools are good, not great, this year. The Bull Dogs have already defeated Franklin Central and Jeffersonville, two of the teams they could face in the regional.

Pike (16-2): Guard play is key in the tournament and Pike has it in spades. In addition, most of this team had a hand in last year's run to the state finals. Ben Davis will present a challenge in the sectional, as well as the Sectional 10 winner in the Southport (formerly Hinkle) Regional.

Hamilton Southeastern (14-2): Zak Irvin has had a big senior season and the Royals could use his hot hand in the tournament. Like with Carmel, the route through Sectional 8 won't be easy.

Munster (19-0): Oh, yeah, the only undefeated team left in 4A. Munster hosts Sectional 1, which also includes a talented Lake Central team. The regional could also include Merrillville, Penn and Concord. Munster won a regional in 2009 and '11, but never has advanced further.

Tech (16-3): With Trey Lyles and a constantly improving supporting cast, the Titans are definitely a threat in Sectional 10. Tech could see Cathedral a fourth time in the sectional and holds a 2-1 advantage in the series, although the most recent game was a 20-point Irish win. The path to a state title is about as difficult as it gets.

Lawrence North (13-4): The same can be said for Lawrence North, which is also in Sectional 10. This is Jack Keefer's best and most cohesive team in four years, its four losses coming by nine points or less. If Lawrence North can get through the sectional, the Southport Regional could also include Richmond, Pike and Terre Haute North.

North Central (11-4): Don't forget about the Panthers. Though North Central lost to Carmel and HSE, the other top contenders in Sectional 8, it was by a combined six points. North Central has won eight of nine since the loss to HSE and should take some momentum into the tournament.

Evansville Harrison (16-1): Harrison defeated Jeffersonville 73-70 on Saturday, a team it could see in the regional. Sectional 16 isn't a pushover, either, with Castle (11-4) coming off a regional title. It has been 10 years since Harrison last won a regional.

There are 10 teams. And it feels like we're just getting started. My next five, again taking into account the route to there: Kokomo, Jeffersonville, Fort Wayne Northrop, Ben Davis and Concord.

Buckle up. March is going to be a wild ride.



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