Short of the IHSA State playoffs, the Chicago Public League tournament might be the 2nd most anticipated tournament in the state of Illinois.
This year's final 8 is stacked from top to bottom, and future division 1 stars are featured in all four games. We take a closer look at what to expect here.
Game 1 - Orr v. Farragut:
Orr, who just over a week ago stunned Whitney Young at the buzzer, flew past Kenwood by 21 to get to the quarterfinals.
Led by a pair of juniors with division 1 potential, Orr will face a Farragut team that sneaked past Brooks 59-58 then beat Uplift by 13 to earn their spot.
Orr will be led by wing Tyquone Greer and forward Marlon Jones.
These two teams met just three weeks ago, and Orr won handily 85-55. With Farragut's record resting around .500, I expect Orr to charge on into the semifinals.
Game 2 - Curie v. Morgan Park:
This game has the potential to be the most fast-paced game of the day. Morgan Park loves to get out and run, led by seniors Kyle Davis and Billy Garrett Jr. Additionally, players like Josh Cunningham, Lamont Walker, and Xzavier Taylor give Morgan Park some significant depth.
And while Taylor is 6'8" tall, he doesn't match up well against the best player on the floor in Curie's Cliff Alexander. Alexander is a physical specimen and has been a double-double machine this year. There's no doubt Alexander will have a big game, but the game will be lost based on the performance of his supporting cast.
And they'll need to show up in a big way. Morgan Park punched their ticket for this game with a 123-51 blowout of Lane Tech in the round of 16. Curie used defense to beat North Lawndale 56-34. Should be a fun one to watch.
Game 3 - Foreman v. Whitney Young:
On paper, this one is probably the biggest mismatch of the day. Foreman enters with wins over Fenger and Vocational, while Young blasted Marshall and Harper en route to the round of 8.
Foreman is led by senior wing Carl White. At 6'6" he will need to do what he can against an imposing Whitney Young front. But beyond that, it's rock chalk for Young.
Whether it's the 6'10" number one player in 2014 in Jahlil Okafor, 6'8" wing Paul White (no relation to Carl), 6'4" shooting guard L.J. Peak, Young can punish a team in a number of ways.
Plus, when you factor in the difficult national schedule that Young played all year, they shouldn't have any problem beating a team that they have such an advantageous matchup against. But as previous years have shown, sometimes Young has down games. Still I think they pull this one out handily and move on.
Game 4 - Simeon v. Bogan:
The matchup between Simeon and Bogan might be the best overall game of the day at Chicago State. Simeon, of course, features current and future stars from top to bottom. But unlike the Foreman game, Bogan matches up much more favorably against Simeon.
For Simeon, the usual characters will be leaned upon heavily. Jabari Parker has really rediscovered his game as of late, and Jaylon Tate is evolving into the true point guard that everyone has been waiting on. Throw in the high-flying Kendrick Nunn, senior Russell Woods, super-soph D.J. Williams, and senior "everything man" Kendall Pollard, and you're looking at what's one of the most talented rosters top to bottom in the country.
For Bogan, the key player is point guard Luwane Pipkins. Pipkins is really growing stronger and stronger with the ball at the point as the season has progressed, and is developing into a real leader for his team.
But in a game where they're understandably outmatched, Bogan will have to make up for the difference in talent with a bigtime effort. If they hustle every play, they may be able to rattle Simeon early. If Young, Simeon, Orr, and either of Curie or Morgan Park all make the finals, Wednesday evening's semifinal games could be taken to a whole new level.
Games start at 11 AM on Sunday at Chicago State. IlliniPlaybook will be in attendance providing full coverage of the event. Be sure to tune in for the latest!