Saturday's NCS playoff predictions and some gambling lessons

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
After a 20-0 performance (20-0!) on Wednesday, I reentered the Earth’s orbit with Friday’s predictions, going 5-3.
However, mediocrity has its benefits and I’d like to use my failures for the greater good. So before getting to today’s predictions, let’s review my three whiffs from Friday’s games.
My incorrect picks are examples of some common gambling pitfalls that even veteran high-school prognosticators such as myself can fall prey to.
The way I see it, if I can help even one adolescent out there gamble more intelligently in his or her future, well, I can’t put a price tag on that.
So let’s get to work:

The prediction: No. 3 Ukiah 67, No. 11 Alameda 53
The score: No. 11 Alameda 68, No. 3 Ukiah 65
The lesson: This is why they roll the ball out, kids. And this is also why I don’t want my daughters following me into this racket. This is a brutal business.
I mean, you can examine RPIs, Sagarin Ratings, plus-minus differentials and Ukiah’s record when the outside temperature is below 52 — all of which I did, naturally — but there are no guarantees.

The prediction: No. 7 Windsor 47, No. 2 Northgate 46
The score: No. 2 Northgate 53, No. 7 Windsor 43
The lesson: A classic case of only researching one team. Gambling 101, folks. Rookie mistake. I spoke with Windsor coach Joe Passalacqua and after five minutes, I was convinced. Windsor would win.
Two problems: 1. Passalacqua is a lawyer. 2. I knew as much about Northgate as I do about the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event.
I’m ashamed. You deserve so much better.

The prediction: No. 4 Alameda 59, No. 5 Montgomery 57
The score: No. 5 Montgomery 58, No. 4 Alameda 55
The lesson: I looked at this game until I went cross-eyed, going so far as to examine the family tree of Alameda coach Brad Thomas who, as it happens, has some fascinating Dutch roots.
After compiling all the information, feeding it into my laptop and dividing by Pi, though, my predicted score was Montgomery 55, Alameda 55.
Forced to pick a winner, I guessed. Cardinal sin.
When in doubt, never flip a coin. Do more research. If I had done so, I would have discovered that Alameda was 1-5 in the playoffs when playing north of Marin County against a lower seed since 1988.
Stupid me. It was right there the whole time.

OK, with those lessons in mind, predictions for tonight’s NCS quarterfinal games:

Division IV
Boys
No. 5 Cardinal Newman 55, No. 4 Arcata 49
Comment: This is my Poulan Weed Eater Lock of the Week presented by Farmer’s Insurance.

No. 6 Cloverdale 62, No. 3 St. Mary’s 60
Comment: This might be an example of yet another gambling mistake.

No. 1 Salesian 82, No. 9 Healdsburg 46
Comment: Sometimes you just have to trust your gut.

Girls
No. 1 St. Mary’s 63, No. 8 Cloverdale 40
Comment: Great season. Tough opponent.

No. 2 McKinleyville 62, No. 7 Ursuline 51
Comment: Third meeting between the schools this season.

Division V
Boys
No. 1 St. Joseph Notre Dame 67, No. 8 Roseland Prep 60

Division VI
Boys
No. 3 Rincon Valley Christian 71, No. 6 Anderson Valley 65
No. 4 Point Arena 57, No. 5 California School for the Deaf 50
No. 2 San Francisco Waldorf 70, No. 7 Archbishop Hanna Boys Center 57

Girls
No. 1 Rincon Valley Christian 62, No. 8 Pleasant Hill Adventist 25
No. 4 St. Bernard 43, No. 5 Tomales 35
No. 2 Ferndale 50, No. 7 Potter Valley 36