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Bracket Breakdown: North Sectionals

Here is our breakdown of the MIAA basketball tournament's North Sectional brackets. Contributing picks are student assistant Chris Bradley, BeantownHoops.com founder Rob Sarmiento, and correspondents Josh Perry and Ryan Hannable.

DIVISION 1 NORTH

Favorites: St. John’s Prep (18-2), Central Catholic (17-5), Lowell (17-3)

Contenders: Lynn English (15-5), Waltham (16-4), Westford (16-4)

Sleepers: Andover (14-6), Everett (13-6), East Boston (12-7), Malden (11-8)

Overview: A month and a half ago, most pundits would have called this bracket for Central, coming off a four-point loss to national powerhouse St. Anthony (N.J.). But things have changed quite dramatically, with Central dropping four of its last nine -– including two to St. John’s Prep, and a 22-point thrashing from Lowell on Wednesday. The wild card here is undoubtedly Lynn English, which surprisingly won a loaded IAABO 130 Classic last weekend. They could be this year’s answer to last year’s winner, Charlestown, a team nobody would’ve been surprised to either lose in the first round or go deep.

Hall’s Upset Special: Cambridge over Waltham

Bradley’s Upset Special: Cambridge over Waltham

Breakout Tournament Stars:

Brendan Hall: Stevie Collins, Soph. G, Lynn English

Chris Bradley: Saul Phiri, Fr. G, Haverhill

Rob Sarmiento: Freddy Hogan, Jr. G, Lynn English

Ryan Hannable: Ben Judson, Soph. F, St. John’s Prep

Josh Perry: Erick Rosario, Soph. G, Lynn English

Pick a winner:

Hall: Central Catholic over Lowell

Bradley: Lowell over Central Catholic

Sarmiento: Central Catholic over Lowell

Hannable: St. John’s Prep over Lowell

Perry: Central Catholic over Lynn English

***

DIVISION 2 NORTH

Favorites: Melrose (20-0), Wakefield (16-4), North Andover (16-4), New Mission (14-5), Brighton (14-6)

Contenders: Salem (15-5), Beverly (14-6), Lynn Classical (14-8)

Sleepers: Concord-Carlisle (14-6), Woburn (13-7), Burlington (11-9)

Overview: Tough to pick a winner in this bracket. For instance, two of the favorites listed -- New Mission and Melrose -- will likely meet in the quarterfinals. In other quadrants of the brackets, we could see teams like Salem, Beverly, Lynn Classical and Concord-Carlisle making runs. Our thoughts are that the winner of this bracket will be favored to win the state title, with all the talent abound both young (Wakefield's Bruce Brown, Melrose's Sherron Harris, New Mission's Juwan Gooding) and old (Wakefield's Mikol Blake-Green and Kendall Hamilton; Melrose's Frantdzy Pierrot; Brighton's Malik James and Nick Simpson; North Andover's Isaiah Nelsen and Chris Bardwell).

Hall’s Upset Special: Lynn Classical over Beverly

Bradley’s Upset Special: Woburn over Concord-Carlisle

Breakout Tournament Star:

Hall: Sherron Harris, Fr. G, Melrose

Bradley: Jason Jones, Soph. F, Brighton

Sarmiento: Sherron Harris, Fr. G, Melrose

Hannable: Nick Simpson, Jr. F, Brighton

Perry: John Berchoff, Jr., F, Beverly

Pick a winner:

Hall: North Andover over Brighton

Bradley: Melrose over North Andover

Sarmiento: North Andover over Brighton

Hannable: North Andover over Brighton

Perry: Brighton over North Andover

***

DIVISION 3 NORTH

Favorites: Danvers (18-2), North Reading (20-0)

Contenders: Whittier (18-2), Wayland (15-4), Arlington Catholic (14-6)

Sleepers: Watertown (12-8), South Boston (11-8), Stoneham (10-10)

Overview: Two weeks ago, we would have called this bracket for Danvers, but that was before senior point guard and Northeastern Conference MVP Eric Martin went down with an ankle injury in the Comcast Tournament two weekends ago. Now, with Martin's health up in the air, and the Falcons already playing a short bench, one has to wonder if Danvers -- which sat in the Top 5 of ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll for most of the season -- is suddenly mortal. North Reading is one of two remaining unbeatens in the state, alongside Melrose, and is led by senior John Mastacusa, a Malden Catholic transfer. But there are legitimate concerns about whether the Hornets are battle-tested with its very soft schedule, between a weak Cape Ann League slate and their most challenging non-league bouts being Austin Prep (7-12) and Shawsheen (8-10). Tom Sipsey has done a remarkable job turning Whitter into a contender the last few years, while Wayland's Jaleel Bell may be one of the state's most underrated guards.

Hall’s Upset Special: Watertown over North Reading

Bradley’s Upset Special: Watertown over North Reading

Breakout Tournament Star:

Hall: Vinny Clifford, Soph. G, Danvers

Bradley: Vinny Clifford, Soph. G, Danvers

Sarmiento: John Mastacusa, Sr. F, North Reading

Hannable: Vinny Clifford, Soph. G, Danvers

Pick a winner:

Hall: Danvers over South Boston

Bradley: Danvers over Wayland

Sarmiento: Danvers over Wayland

Hannable: Danvers over North Reading

***

DIVISION 4 NORTH

Favorites: St. Clement (16-4), Matignon (14-6), Pope John XXIII (14-6), St. Mary's of Lynn (12-8)

Contenders: Lynnfield (13-7), Manchester-Essex (13-7)

Sleepers: Mystic Valley (11-9), Snowden (8-10)

Overview: This is a difficult bracket to project. St. Clement earned the top overall seed after running the table in the Catholic Central Small, but a rival in the Central Catholic Large, St. Mary's of Lynn, may be the most battle-tested of the bunch. The defending D4 state champs endured an ambitious schedule that included Cardinal Spellman, St. John's Prep, Whittier and Lynn Classical. The wild card here could be Snowden, which lost to Boston City champ Brighton by one at the beginning of the season and also boasts quality wins over Dorchester and Swampscott.

Hall’s Upset Special: Manchester-Essex over Lynnfield

Bradley's Upset Special: Winthrop over St. Mary’s

Breakout Tournament Star:

Hall: Kareem Murrell, Jr. G, Snowden

Bradley: Ron Slager, Sr. G, Matignon

Sarmiento: Kevin Foley, Sr. G, St. Clement

Hannable: Matt Manning, Sr. F, St. Mary’s

Pick a winner:

Hall: St. Mary’s over Manchester-Essex

Bradley: St. Clement over Matignon

Sarmiento: St. Clement over Pope John XXIII

Hannable: St. Mary’s over Lynnfield