Friday’s NCS playoff predictions and, why, yes, I did go 20-0

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
Before diving into today’s picks, I wanted to say thank you for the overwhelming response my family and I have received since I went 20-0 with my North Coast Section basketball playoff predictions Wednesday.
Words hardly seem adequate. Very humbling. Touched. Still trembling.
In fact, due to the flood of e-mail, cards, snack cakes and Balloon-a-Grams I’ve received, I did want to address some issues that have been raised:

1. I’ve been flattered by the various media requests. At this point, however, I need to decline. My focus will remain on blogging and predicting high school basketball games. This, after all, is about the kids. Not Eric Branch.

2. Yes, some “opportunities” have presented themselves since I went 20-0. Was I asked to predict the Herbert Slater Middle School boys’ basketball game against Comstock? I’d be lying if I said no. Again, though, I am a high school writer and can’t be distracted while examining the Sagarin Rating of Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy and the relative merits of Potter Valley’s zone trap.

3. How did I do it? Look, I’m the same person who went 5-5 on Tuesday’s predictions. Going 20-0 — as remarkable as that is — doesn’t change who Eric Branch is. No doubt, I had a magical day. I picked Newman to win by 15 (they won by 14), I picked Cloverdale to beat Lick-Wilmerding by 10 (they won by 9) and so on down the list. But here’s the deal: I still put my pants on one leg at a time. I bleed. I cry at diamond commercials.
However, I do want to say this. Since my botched predictions Tuesday, I’ve slept 53 minutes and completely ignored my family. So listen up, young student-athletes. There is no substitute for hard work.

4. A reader did send the following e-mail:

Subject: Get over yourself
Hey, Eric:
Two words for you, pal … big deal. You picked two “upsets,” and those were No. 9 seeds beating No. 8 seeds. Whoop. Dee. Doo. I mean, a monkey could identify the higher seed and circle it. You’re a fraud.

Go away now,
Delores Johnson
Healdsburg

OK, let’s get to Friday’s NCS quarterfinal predictions …

BOYS
Division II
No. 1 Montgomery 71, No. 8 San Lorenzo 59
Comment: Vikings need to focus on stifling yawns.

No. 3 Ukiah 67, No. 11 Alameda 53
Comment: Nothing to see here.

Division III
No. 2 Analy 78, No. 7 Terra Linda 63
Comment: The Tigers’ road gets much rougher next week.

GIRLS
Division II
No. 4 Alameda 59, No. 5 Montgomery 57
Comment: In Vegas, the sharks call this a “wild guess.”

No. 7 Windsor 47, No. 2 Northgate 46
Comment: Windsor coach Joe Passalacqua could convince me water is dry.

No. 1 Carondelet 76, No. 9 Casa Grande 45
Comment: Carondelet lost to UConn by three in December.

No. 3 Dublin 46, No. 11 Petaluma 41
Comment: Banged-up Dublin fights off pesky Trojans.

Division III
No. 3 Miramonte 58, No. 6 Analy 47
Comment: Again, I take no pleasure in doing this.