I finished the outbracket round a very modest 7-4 with my predictions, including a very bad misfire on Sleepy Hollow, which beat Riverside handily. I will try to do better today by picking another 24 games.
Class AA first-round predictions —
No. 19 White Plains at No. 3 Saunders, 4:30 p.m.
The key: Saunders’ poise. White Plains will try to make this an ugly game, but Blue Devils just have to stay composed and play their style of basketball.
The pick: Saunders 59, White Plains 46. Say what you want — and many of you have — but Saunders just has the better team.
No. 12 New Rochelle at No. 5 Clarkstown South, 4:30 p.m.
The key: New Rochelle’s leadership. The Huguenots can be tough to beat when their leaders — Antoine Lewis, Justin Watson, Isaiah Washington — perform well. They can also be rudderless on occasion. South won’t have that problem with Conor McGuinness, who won’t let New Ro’s pressure D get to him.
The pick: Clarkstown South 59, New Rochelle 55. This is not the game that will spark a state championship run. South is a safer pick than the fickle Huguenots.
No. 9 Ramapo at No. 8 Mamaroneck, 4:30 p.m.
The key: Ramapo’s consistency. Mamaroneck will do what it does, play hard, defend, rebound and force the opponent to work for everything it gets. Ramapo will have to bring consistent effort. The Gryphons can’t suffer from prolonged dry spells or they’ll fade.
The pick: Mamaroneck 50, Ramapo 41. The senior-laden Tigers are too good defensively to go home.
No. 11 John Jay-EF at No. 6 Horace Greeley, 4:30 p.m.
The key: Greeley’s production in the paint. John Jay has a strong presence in the paint with football star Ryan Schumacher. Can Greeley match up well inside and allow its guards to win the game?
The pick: John Jay 55, Greeley 50. This is a coin flip. Very tough to predict. Greeley survived at the buzzer when they met back in December, and both teams have had their ups and downs since.
No. 15 Scarsdale at No. 2 Mount Vernon, 5 p.m.
The key: Mount Vernon’s intensity. If the Knights bring it, they will not lose. Period.
The pick: Mount Vernon 68, Scarsdale 51. It could be close for a half, but the Knights have been a very strong third quarter team all season. Expect that to continue.
No. 10 Suffern at No. 7 North Rockland, 5 p.m.
The key: Shooting. These teams have had their hits and misses because they rely on guards to make open shots. Neither team can afford a bad night from the field — even Suffern, which beat North Rockland twice.
The pick: Suffern 57, North Rockland 55 (OT). This should be one of the best games of the day. Just 10 points separated them in two regular season meetings. I like it to stay close throughout.
No. 16 Carmel at No. 1 Arlington, 6:15 p.m.
The key: Carmel’s guard play. The Rams struggled against Dan Schweitzer in their two meetings. Plus, they need to get the ball into the hands of stars Ryan Train and Josh Alexander to win.
The pick: Arlington 66, Carmel 53. You can make a case for Carmel to playing Arlington — yes, 18-0 Arlington — competitively. The Rams clawed back and only lost by seven when these teams met on Jan. 30. I just don’t know that they have what it takes to finish an upset, even if it’s close.
No. 13 Ossining at No. 4 Fox Lane, 6:15 p.m.
The key: Fox Lane’s start. Ossining will feel very confident entering the game. It has played very well of late, including season sweeps of Lakeland and Peekskill, a win over Greeley and an OT loss to Somers. The Foxes can’t let Ossining think it has a chance at the upset.
The pick: Fox Lane 71, Ossining 65. I probably think this will be closer than most, but Ossining has the talent to keep it competitive into the final minutes.
Class A first-round predictions —
No. 11 Hen Hud at No. 6 Lourdes, 4:15 p.m.
The key: Hen Hud staying focused. It will be easy for the Sailors to have a let down less than 24 hours after a tight playoff win over rival Peekskill.
The pick: Lourdes 58, Hen Hud 45. Lourdes might be the best team Hen Hud has faced all season. That’s a tall order with such little time to prepare.
No. 19 Nanuet at No. 3 Byram Hills, 5 p.m.
The key: Byram controlling the tempo. Playing its game, Byram has what it takes to beat Nanuet. The Bobcats can control the glass, run their sets and wear the Golden Knights down. But they’ll have to avoid succumbing to the pressure against a team that has been tested.
The pick: Byram Hills 48, Nanuet 41. This isn’t the ideal first-round opponent for any No. 3 seed, but Byram is better at its best. Expect the Bobcats to open the playoffs sharp.
No. 17 Nyack at No. 1 Spring Valley, 5:30 p.m.
The key: Nyack’s stamina. After playing three overtimes Wednesday night, you have to wonder what Nyack has in the tank.
The pick: Spring Valley 81, Nyack 63. After exerting so much energy last night, I just can’t see the Indians pulling off the upset. Spring Valley won’t give them much chance to catch their breath, either.
No. 9 Yorktown at No. 8 Sleepy Hollow 6 p.m.
The key: Sleepy’s defense on Mason Dyslin. The Horsemen are guard-oriented. They’ll need to throw the kitchen sink at Dyslin, a versatile big man having a strong senior season.
The pick: Yorktown 49, Sleepy Hollow 39. Yorktown is the more tested team, and I think Dyslin has a mismatch. If the Huskers protect the ball against a strong Sleepy backcourt, they’ll advance.
No. 13 Rye at No. 4 Harrison, 6:15 p.m.
The key: Harrison’s patience. Rye has switched to a matchup zone, forming a new defensive identity. It has thrived winning lower-scoring games.
The pick: Harrison 52, Rye 49. A opposing coach in their league told me “no question” Rye can win. The Garnets have played much better lately, but that is not a reason to discount Harrison. The Huskies won 13 games for a reason.
No. 10 Pelham at No. 7 Eastchester, 6:30 p.m.
The key: Pelham’s defense on Eastchester guards Stefano Scarpa and Benny DiMirco. Of the two teams, the Pelicans are playing better. But they need to defend well. Scarpa and DiMirco are capable of scoring 40 or so points between them.
The pick: Pelham 55, Eastchester 50. The Eagles are young and still seem to be in search of their identity. Pelham has found its groove.
No. 12 Pearl River at No. 5 Tappan Zee, 7 p.m.
The key: TZ’s intensity. Unlike most TZ teams, this one has seen its intensity waiver at times. Pearl River shocked the Dutchmen in the teams’ second meeting because of this very fact. TZ will need to close strong.
The pick: Tappan Zee 54, Pearl River 52. This was not the opponent TZ wanted to draw, but remember: For 60 of the 64 minutes these teams have played, TZ was the better team.
No. 15 Panas at No. 2 Somers, 7 p.m.
The key: Somers’ poise. This will be one of Thursday’s best crowds. Somers is an emotional team that must keep itself in check in the face of all that noise.
The pick: Somers 47, Panas 37. Panas’ style of play will keep this relatively close, but I’m not sure the Panthers can do enough offensively to win.
Class B first-round predictions —
No. 9 Bronxville at No. 8 Pleasantville, 4:30 p.m.
The key: Pleasantville’s defense. The Panthers rely on defense and their outside shooting, which can prove fickle. Defense is slump-proof.
The pick: Pleasantville 44, Bronxville 37. Judging based on common opponents, the Panthers have reason for optimism.
No. 12 Valhalla at No. 5 Putnam Valley, 4:30 p.m.
The key: Defending Ryan Basso. Sometimes, it can be that simple against the Tigers. But Basso can be both a scorer and a playmaker. Taking his shooting away won’t necessarily solve the problem.
The pick: Putnam Valley 67, Valhalla 60. If a double-digit seed wins in an upset, I think this is the team. Valhalla is pretty good, but pretty good might not be enough against the Tigers.
No. 11 Westlake at No. 6 Palisade Prep, 5 p.m.
The key: Jesse Boyce. As he goes, Westlake goes. When Boyce gets going, Westlake is far better than an eight-win team.
The pick: Westlake 61, Palisade Prep 55. This could be the best Class B game of the day.
No. 10 Dobbs Ferry at No. 7 Croton-Harmon, 5 p.m.
The key: Dobbs’ defense and tempo. If this game gets into the 50s or 60s, Dobbs will have trouble winning it. The Eagles need to control the game and keep it close late.
The pick: Croton-Harmon 55, Dobbs Ferry 41. Despite being a 7-seed, Croton is in the upper-echelon of Class B teams.
No. 15 Yonkers Montessori at No. 2 Briarcliff, 6 p.m.
The key: Briarcliff’s focus. The Bears were once young, but the players and second-year coach Cody Moffett have earned some valuable experience. Time to put that to use.
The pick: Briarcliff 60, YMA 39. The Bears should roll.
No. 13 Ardsley at No. 4 Blind Brook, 6 p.m.
The key: Defense, rebounding. Blind Brook is so sound, it does not surrender anything easily. Ardsley will have to embrace that mentality. The talent is there.
The pick: Blind Brook 49, Ardsley 37. The Trojans’ playoff experience is always important, but especially against a postseason newbie.
No. 14 Edgemont at No. 3 Irvington, 6:15 p.m.
The key: Irvington realizing its potential. The Bulldogs have not quite been the juggernaut they were in December. The playoffs may bring out the best in them.
The pick: Irvington 43, Edgemont 31. Don’t expect a shootout by any means.
No. 16 Hastings at No. 1 Woodlands, 6:30 p.m.
The key: The champ is here. Woodlands has lofty goals. The season to achieve them has arrived.
The pick: Woodlands 68, Hastings 44. Hastings has just three wins and this is the best team it has faced all year. So…