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Day 2 Sarachek Panel Predictions

Friday panel predictions:

Standings Update: AS 8-0, YS 8-1, MA 7-2, AP 7-2, OG 6-2

Tier I Quarterfinals:

Magen David vs Maimo

Yosef Silver: Magen David put on an absolute clinic in their Tier I qualifier vs MTA in a 69-26 rout. The Warriors were clicking on all cylinders and proved they haven’t lost a step since the Yeshiva League Finals. Despite Maimo’s impressive win vs HAFTR in what turned out to be a nailbiter until the end, Weinstock and the M-Cats simply don’t have the depth and ability to hang with Magen for too long. This may be a bit close out of the gate, but I expect the Warriors to pull ahead early and never look back. Magen 65-44.

Ari Schopf: Maimonides pulled out a massive win against the HAFTR Hawks to advance to the Tier I quarterfinals. Nathan Weinstock was excellent in the second half and hit the go ahead free throws to win this game. Next up for them is a matchup with the 1 seed Magen David Warriors who took care of business against the MTA Lions. The Warriors will give the M-Cats’ guards trouble and will force a lot of turnovers which will lead to easy points in transition. For the M-Cats to win this game they will need to make it a half court and slow paced matchup, but I do not see that happening, and Magen David will advance to the Tier I semifinals on Sunday. Magen David wins 59-41.

Marvin Azrak: So Maimo did indeed summon their ammo and defeated HAFTR in a hard-fought qualifier. My apologies  for doubting those feisty Bostonians against the Hawks. That said, what MDY did, pummeling MTA 69-26 in the biggest blowout of the day, shows precisely who they are. They’re the best team in the country and won’t stop until they get to the championship Monday. The M-Cats scratch and claw through a sleepy first half with this one starting at 9AM; and these Warriors from Brooklyn being required to arise from their slumber at 6AM. Yet the game loses its luster in the second half, as MDY flexes their muscles, and wins their 23rd straight. Magen David 60 Maimonides 45

Akiva Poppers: Magen David simply presents another level of Yeshiva League play beyond HAFTR. They’ve just got too many threats across the board. For a team as talented as they are, they are also very fundamentally sound and intelligently play together. I just don’t see an upset happening here. Maimo has a few nice pieces, but not enough to match the mighty Warriors. Magen David 62-43.

Oren Glickman: Credit to the M-Cats for proving me wrong on Day 1. Will they make it 2 for 2 against the Yeshiva League? No chance. Magen David are the best team in the country and with good reason. Magen are much more skilled and disciplined than HAFTR. Magen I think start to pull away midway in the 3rd quarter. Magen David 53 Maimonides 36 

Shalhevet vs TABC

YS: This is definitely the most evenly matched of these Tier I quarterfinals. TABC is coming off of a dominant win against Berman where they overwhelmed the Cougars with their size and speed. Shalhevet, on the other hand, will look to rebound after narrowly defeating DRS in a game that went down to the wire. The Firehawks struggles make me a bit nervous, but I would just chalk that up to a combination of rust, jitters, and acclimation to the Sarachek environment, in particular having to handle the Greenhouse Effect. TABC definitely has the size advantage, but Shalhevet has dealt with bigger and more athletic teams all season. I think this one will go down to the wire, but I trust the experience and shooting of Bitran and Jacobson, more than the junior-led TABC. Shalhevet 57-53.

AS: Both of these teams started slow in their opening round matchups before securing the win behind dominant 4th quarters. Eyal Kinderlehler was a force for the Storm against Berman, but Shalhevet will be a tougher matchup for him as they have more bodies to throw at the big man. Aidan Bitran will have another excellent game and he will give the TABC guards all kinds of trouble. Shalhevet wins this one.

Shalhevet 51-45

MA: In what promises to be a thrilling clash, TABC and Shalhevet are gearing up for a showdown in the Tier I quarterfinals. TABC's recent dominant win showcased their formidable size and speed, while Shalhevet overcame a tough challenge from DRS to advance. Shalhevet players told me after the game they felt more “relieved” than happy. However, having moved past the opening day jitters, the Firehawks will be primed for this tilt against the local Storm. TABC's size advantage could pose a challenge, but Shalhevet's experience against tough opponents throughout the season gives them an edge. Look for Bitran and Jacobson to lead the charge, utilizing their sharpshooting late and send Firehawks to the semifinals in a thriller. We may even see a buzzer-better or last second heroics  by someone here. Shalhevet 56 TABC 54

AP: I think this game comes down to Sam Jacobson v Eyal Kinderlehrer. If Jacobson is at least able to hold his own, then I think the Firehawks will come out victorious. If TABC owns the paint, I think the Storm pull the mini-upset. Ultimately, I liked (a lot) what I saw of Jacobson against DRS. He is so much better than last year and will at least be able to give Kinderlehrer a good battle on the block. Note: this game is at 7:30 am Pacific Time. Let’s see if that plays a role here at all. Anyways, Shalhevet 48-41.

OG: Conflict of Interest; No Pick 

Ida Crown vs YULA

YS: The YULA Panthers are coming off a win vs Kohelet where they really didn’t play up to expectations. Offensively, they committed too many turnovers while defensively they seemed a bit off at times, committing unnecessary fouls. If this is the YULA that shows up tomorrow, this can get interesting. However, I expect the Panthers to rebound from this performance and play up to the competition vs Ida Crown. While Ida finally got over their demons and secured their spot in Tier I, they still struggle to maintain consistency on both sides of the floor, specifically on offense. There is a path to an Ida Crown victory, but I think the Panthers will be too much for the Aces to handle. YULA 53-44

AS: Ida Crown pulled away in the fourth quarter to secure the win against Ramaz in the Tier I qualifier. Their defense was excellent all game long, but I am concerned with their offensive struggles especially during the second and third quarters. The Aces had very poor spacing and struggled to generate any looks at the rim. They were able to get away with that against Ramaz, but YULA is much too deep and good for that. YULA had a big second half to secure the win against Kohelet and is a dangerous threat to make a run to a Tier I title. I have YULA winning this game big. YULA 51-34.

MA: Despite Ida Crown acing the doubters, including myself and advancing to Tier I after 13 years following their win over Ramaz, YULA's depth and potential for a strong rebound performance after an ugly victory over Kohelet make them the favorites in this matchup. While the Aces may hang around and keep things interesting, especially if YULA underperforms again, I expect the Panthers to ultimately prevail. Ida Crown displayed solid defense through their 1-3-1 trap, but faced challenges generating offense, especially during critical stretches where they could’ve pulled away earlier. Against a deep and motivated YULA squad, those weaknesses could be magnified. YULA 55 Ida Crown 42

AP: Congrats to the Aces on being the one team to prove me wrong on Thursday’s slate. YULA did not look like the second best team in the tournament against Kohelet. I think the Aces can hang around and if things go right it could get interesting late, but at the end of the day, YULA is just way deeper. It’ll be interesting to see if ICJA opts for man-to-man for a second straight day. YULA 50-40.

OG: How about that? Ida Crown is in Tier I.  The Aces deserve a lot of credit in what was a very impressive win over Ramaz. Okner and Wortman came up big when they needed to. YULA on the other hand needed some time to get going against Kohelet. It could be due to the fact that they didn’t have their usual massive fan base. They will be in the house tomorrow I’m told. The Aces have a shot here if YULA play the way they did in Game 1. I don’t anticipate that happening twice though. YULA 43 Ida Crown 31 

Beth Tfiloh vs Flatbush:

YS: As the only person to pick against BT in their Tier I qualifier, I was impressed with their win over Valley Torah. They were able to maintain their composure, play great defense and hit their shots down the stretch. But now they run into a much tougher opponent in Flatbush. The Falcons took care of business vs Fuchs in a game that was never really close. Their perimeter pressure on defense and high flying offense proved to be too much for the Mayhem. Unfortunately for Beth Tfiloh, they likely face a similar fate. The Warriors should be proud that they handed Valley Torah its first loss since 2019 and became the only underdog to advance into Tier I, but the road ends here. They simply don’t have the tools to stop Beni Keda and co. on the Flatbush revenge tour. Flatbush 55-44

AS: Beth Tfiloh had a tremendous win against the reigning two-time Sarachek champions, but they face a much tougher task against the Flatbush Falcons. Flatbush’s defense especially on the perimeter is dominant and was a major factor in their opening win against the Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem. I anticipate much of the same against Beth Tfiloh and Beni Keda will be too much to handle for the Warriors. 

Flatbush 55-43.

MA: Even though I predicted the upset, Beth Tfiloh dethroning the two- time  reigning champions Valley Torah was impressive to watch. They stayed cool under pressure, played some solid defense, and nailed those crucial shots when it mattered most. However, these are the Flatbush Falcons who are next. The Brooklynites showed their strength against Fuchs Mizrachi, dominating with their defensive pressure and  lethal offense in their 77-43 rout. 

While the Warriors deserve credit for earning their Tier I spot, the road ends here.  Valley Torah wasn’t used to ball pressure, but Flatbush is, as that’s how they roll. It’ll be a defensive battle, but it’s hard to doubt Flatbush's size advantage and offensive firepower. Beni Keda takes this game over as the Falcons pull away in the 4th for a 60-43 win, putting themselves in the final four.

AP: I have been trying to warn everyone who would listen for the last month that BT is a legit team. I’m just not sure that this is a good matchup for them. If they were facing YULA in this spot, given what we saw on Thursday, I would probably take the Warriors here. But Flatbush is used to playing against the threats that Beth Tfiloh’s ball pressure presents because they do it every day in practice! These are the two most intensive defensive teams in the tournament. I will take the bigger, slightly deeper team to come out on top. Flatbush 58-45.

OG: Happy that Beth Tfiloh proved us right on the upset. Dani Ocken was an absolute stud, fighting for every loose ball and being a beast attacking the rim and glass. The Warriors can already call this weekend a success, knocking off the two time defending champs. I think it gets real hard though for BT against Flatbush. BT will not have the size to contend with Beni Keda. Flatbush 57 Beth Tfiloh 40 

Tier II Qualifiers:

DRS vs Kushner:

YS: DRS has played two electric games thus far. They have impressed in both matchups, showing that they are able to maintain their composure, make the necessary adjustments and compete with anyone in this tournament. The Wildcats have proven they are a force to be reckoned with in Tier II. As for Kushner, they are coming into the tournament having not played a game since January 31. They will likely be a bit rusty and take some time to adjust to the Sarachek environment. Despite receiving some reinforcements from the hockey team, I don’t think the Cobras have the capability to extinguish the red-hot Wildcats. DRS 67-38.

AS: DRS controlled the game against Shalhevet for the majority of 3 quarters, but could not hold on to the lead in the 4th. Despite the loss, the Wildcats showed that this is a team that is a favorite to win a Tier II title. Kushner does not have the talent to keep this game close and this DRS team will want to erase the disappointment of the loss against Shalhevet. Aaron and Buchbinder both score over 15 points and DRS wins easily. DRS 58-31

MA: Kushner is the perfect opponent for the Wildcats to take out their frustration after  squandering their lead to Shalhevet. I’m all for the one win Cobras recruiting hockey players who have playoff experience, but it won’t matter here. Aaron and Buchbinder will have another field day, this time on the TABC floor. DRS 65 Kushner 40

AP: Kushner can’t compete with DRS. They simply don’t have enough. DRS 70-32.

OG: I’m curious to see how much of the starters play in this one for DRS. Buchbinder and Aaron don’t need to play here to get a convincing win over Kushner. This game is over after the first quarter. DRS 72 Kushner 21 

Hebrew Academy of Montreal vs Kohelet

YS: The Kohelet Kings really impressed yesterday, hanging with YULA for the duration of their Tier I qualifier despite being heavy underdogs. Even though they didn’t shoot the ball well, the Kings stuck around, proving they deserved the #15 seed. However, they face a really tough draw, having to go against the HA Montreal Heat. The Heat were extremely disappointed to fall out of the top 16, spoiling their Tier I hopes. I would expect Montreal to come out strong and prove to everyone that they should have been given a chance at Tier I. Yaakov Ohayon’s size and strength will be tough for Kohelet to handle while star freshman Simon Alloul will prove why he is one of the best underclassmen in the tournament. HA Montreal 56-51.

AS: Kohelet surprised many by keeping it close with YULA for much of the game. The game was close despite an off shooting night from the star players for Kohelet. HA Montreal will play fast and look to score a lot in a hurry. They are led by Yaakov Ohayon who will put on a show tomorrow and score more than 20. The pace of this game will be too much for Kohelet and they will drop into Tier III as HA Montreal will advance to the Tier II quarterfinals.

HA Montreal 61-55

MA: The Kohelet Kings made quite the impression in their Tier I qualifier against YULA, keeping the game competitive despite being heavy underdogs. Yes, their shooting was poor, which cost them a chance at a stunning upset, but they were competitive and earned that shot in the spotlight.  However, they've got their work cut out for them as they face off against the HA Montreal Heat.

Now, the Heat are coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder, having narrowly missed out on Tier I. They're determined to show everyone they deserved that spot, with players like Yaakov Ohayon and rising star Simon Alloul leading the charge. Ohayon's size and strength will cause problems, and the Heat's fast-paced style might overwhelm the Kings, especially on the smaller TABC floor. HA Montreal 58, Kohelet 53

AP: Kohelet played well on Thursday, but I think that their mere 11-point loss against YULA was more of the Panthers’ doing than their own. Montreal will be eager to show that they were underseeded. Their pace will be tough for the short-benched Kohelet team. Some major studs in this one, by the way. Benjamini, Ohayon, and freshman Simon Alloul. This might be the best game of the day in either tier. I’ll take the team which had to wait. HA Montreal 64-61.

OG: This will be a fun game for me in Tier II. Kohelet showed me they belonged to play for Tier 1 on Thursday. Hebrew Academy of Montreal on the other hand felt they really had a case to make. I got to see them in person this year at the Oren Grunbaum Tournament. They ripped apart every single Yeshiva League JV team to pieces on its way to the championship. I think they’re coming in here with a chip on their shoulder and expect them to kick off the tournament on a winning note. This game will be close though. Hebrew Academy of Montreal 50 Kohelet 42 

Fuchs Mizrachi vs Ohr HaTorah

YS: Fuchs Mizrahi are coming off of a tough defeat vs Flatbush. Simply put, the better team won as Fuchs had no answers for the Falcons’ perimeter pressure and high flying offense. Ohr HaTorah has a few talented players in Yaniv and Yishai Cohen, but as a whole they have struggled with consistency and ball security. That isn’t a good recipe vs Fuchs who are known to play smart and disciplined. The added nerves for Ohr HaTorah in their first ever Sarachek game won’t help the situation either. I see this one as a comfortable win for the Mayhem as Nate Jacobs reminds everyone that he is one of the best players in the tournament. Fuchs 58-32

AS: Fuchs Mizrachi will look to respond after a brutal loss against Flatbush. The Fuchs offense was stifled all game and I expect them to have a bounce back performance, specifically from their star Nate Jacobs. They face an Ohr HaTorah team that is making its first appearance in Sarachek. This inexperienced team will be at a disadvantage and I expect them to struggle to limit turnovers. Jacobs will get hot from the perimeter in this matchup and will put up 30+ points in a game that Fuchs will control from start to finish. Fuchs 62-38.

MA: Fuchs Mizrahi is coming off a tough loss against Flatbush, where they struggled to contain the Falcons' high-flying offense and relentless perimeter pressure. However, they're poised to bounce back strong, especially against Ohr HaTorah, who are making their debut appearance at Sarachek. The boys from South Beach will have an experience of a lifetime even if it doesn’t necessarily translate to success on the court. 

Yes, Ohor has Yaniv and Yishai Cohen, but they've  struggled with consistency and ball security throughout the season. That’ll put them in constant Mayhem, given Fuchs disciplined style of play. The Ohio boys are angry and hungry. They start their Tier II title defense with a rousing victory. Fuchs 60, Ohr HaTorah 35

AP: Into the unknown as Ohr HaTorah makes their way into Sarachek #1. They have remained competitive against good teams this year. However, I’m just not sure they have the consistency to match Fuchs. Jacobs scores 35. Fuchs 66-41.

OG: Fuchs now has an opportunity to repeat as Tier II champs after being outmatched by Flatbush. Nate Jacobs will look to go off against a team that’s young and making its first ever Sarachek appearance in Ohr HaTorah. Fuchs will look like Flatbush against these guys. Hopefully Ohr HaTorah can learn from the experience and grow for the future. Fuchs 62 Ohr HaTorah 26

Last years Tier II Champions, the Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem, will look to defend their title in 2024, beginning with a matchup against Sarachek newcomer Ohr HaTorah. (Photo credit Ashley Botnick / MacsLive)

MTA vs Cooper 

YS: MTA is coming off a disaster of a game where they fell to Magen 69-26. With the loss, the hosts will now have to travel to TABC and prove they belong in Tier II. I’m a bit doubtful about the Lions’ ability to mentally recover from their brutal performance. As for Cooper, they have been waiting for this opportunity. They felt they deserved to be seeded ahead of MTA, especially after a blowout win over the Lions earlier in the season. Now they get their chance to prove it. I think this matchup will be closer than their previous one in Memphis, but the victor will remain the same. Cooper 43-35.

AS: Cooper was frustrated when the seeds for Sarachek were announced and they found themselves outside the top 16 with no shot at Tier I. They have their chance here to prove they belonged in that top 16 when they face the 16 seeded MTA Lions. Cooper is led by big man Yosef Vanderwalde as well as Benny Friedan and Jack Kampf. All three of these players will score in double figures in this game. The Lions suffered a big loss against Magen David on Thursday and will suffer another loss in this matchup. Cooper 49-37.

MA: MTA will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance against MDY, but it won't be easy against a hungry Cooper squad.

Cooper has been itching for this opportunity to prove themselves, especially after feeling slighted by their seeding outside the top 16. Led by Yosef Vanderwalde, Benny Friedan, and Jack Kampf, the Macs won their previous meeting and should do that here again. That said, I anticipate a much tighter contest this time around. Cooper 45 MTA 42.

AP: When these teams met earlier this year, MTA had a huge halftime lead, and then Cooper won the second half by almost 40, running literally the same play numerous times and getting wide-open looks off of it every time. This is the Lions’ chance at redemption. I think this contest will be much tighter than one earlier this year. Can the Lions get over the mental hump here? They just haven’t done enough to prove to me that they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Cooper in a close one, 44-40.

OG: MTA suffered a very humiliating Tier I qualifier loss at the hands of champion Magen David. Cooper is ranked just a seed lower and they’ll feel they got the short end of the stick after witnessing it. These two teams already met in Memphis with Cooper coming out on top. I actually think MTA can win this one and will win this one. I think Baron can have a big game and MTA can hold Cooper’s offense to a limited amount of points MTA 30 Cooper 23.

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