- Brendan C. Hall, ESPN Staff Writer
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Starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 16 teams will square off on the mystical parquet floor of the TD Garden, in the second annual Good Sports TD Garden Invitational.
A number of teams ranked in ESPN Boston's statewide basketball polls will be represented, incuding Andover, Catholic Memorial, St. John's Prep, Newton North, and Masconomet's girls team. Storied Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken, the defending RIIL state champions, will also be playing, as well as last year's MIAA Division 1 runner up Central Catholic.
For the complete schedule, CLICK HERE.
Here are my picks for the day's eight matchups:
9:30 a.m. – No. 17 Masconomet (6-1) vs. Central Catholic (3-5) – GIRLS
The Raiders have encountered some struggles early in their season, the latest a loss Thursday night to Andover. That, coupled with Masco’s hot start, has me thinking the Chieftains avenge last year’s D1 North tournament loss. Pick: Masco
11 a.m. – Masconomet (5-2) vs. Arlington Catholic (4-1)
This could be one of the more underrated matchups of the day, but the Chieftains will squeak out a victory to here for the first boys-girls sweep at the Garden. Pick: Masco
12:30 p.m. – Belmont (5-2) vs. Somerville (0-6)
It’s been a long time since Somerville last appeared at the Garden – and, given the cold weather, we likely won’t see fans making the walk all the way to the Garden like in the old days. Even with the recent hand injury to guard Matt Kerans, Belmont has enough to overcome the Highlanders, who have a terrific star forward in Fru Che but a lot of youth around him. Pick: Belmont
2 p.m. – Malden Catholic (6-0) vs. Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) (5-2)
For the first time in what seems a while, Malden Catholic feels like a true contender in D2 North. This might be the upset of the day, but there’s a lot of weapons to take down in the defending Rhode Island state champs, including some promising scholarship talent. Pick: Hendricken
3:30 p.m. – No. 4 Newton North (8-0) vs. Newton South (6-2)
It’s going to be hard for Tommy Mobley to top last year’s performance in this matchup at the Garden, going off for 35 points in a blowout victory over their cross-town rivals, but he’ll be the leading scorer here once again. South, off to a surprising start, may have run into a superior talent here. Pick: Newton North
5 p.m. – No. 15 Mansfield (6-0) vs. No. 25 Franklin (6-2)
Both of these heated rivals are off to hot starts, and should once again bring a huge fan contingent. I picked a Franklin upset last year in this event, and it nearly happened. Is twice as nice? Pick: Franklin
6:30 p.m. – No. 2 Andover (8-0) vs. No. 5 Catholic Memorial (6-1)
With respect to the other matchups, this is the marquee battle of the day. Between Andover’s duo of David Giribaldi and E.J. Perry IV, and CM’s trio of Guilien Smith, Kellan Grady and Brandon Twitty, there’s no shortage of guards who can let it fly from deep. But the difference here is Connor Merinder, a nightly double-double machine manning the post for the Golden Warriors. Pick: Andover
8 p.m. – No. 7 St. John’s Prep (4-2) vs. Central Catholic (3-6)
When this matchup was first booked, many of us had flashbacks to the epic 2010 D1 North battle between these two teams, with ESPN 100 recruits Pat Connaughton and Carson Desrosiers squaring off before a huge crowd that sprinkled into the upper deck. Few of us expected Central to be fighting for its playoff life right now. One team needs this one badly, but there’s simply too much height to account for on the Prep side. Pick: St. John’s Prep