Each year the South Jersey Non-Public boys' basketball field is among the strongest statewide and this season is no different.
The cutoff date has passed so teams can't improve on their seeding. According to NJ.com, which has bracket seedings of all the Groups, St. Augustine should be the top seed.
The field is so loaded that St. Augustine isn't the lone unbeaten team. St. Joseph's Metuchen had a 19-0 record at the cutoff date.
Don't be surprised if these two perennial powers meet in the championship in a rematch of last year. St. Augustine, which was the No. 3 seed, beat No. 1 St. Joseph Metuchen, 69-67 in last year's final.
Coach Paul Rodio's St. Augustine team began this week 18-0 after Monday's 72-32 win over Vineland.
The Hermits are ranked No. 4 in the state by NJ.com and are the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey.
All but one of the first 18 wins were by at least 10 points. The only one under double digits was a 48-41 victory over Covington Catholic of Kentucky.
Justyn Mutts, a 6-7 senior is one of the team leaders. He has earned a scholarship to Division I High Point University in North Carolina.
St. Joe Metuchen is ranked No. 16 in the state by NJ.com. Senior Latrell West has been a consistent scorer for the Falcons. He was in double figures in each of the first 19 games and was averaging 19 points per game during that span.
The third team in South Jersey Non Public A to be ranked in the state is No. 15 Notre Dame, which began the week with an 18-1 record. The lone blemish was a 78-75 loss to a Don Bosco Prep team that is ranked No. 8 in the state by NJ.com.
After those three, there are some other excellent teams in SJ Non-Public A, including Bishop Eustace and Camden Catholic.
Camden Catholic began the week 13-5. The Irish have two wins over Eustace and one over Camden, the favorite in South Jersey Group 2.
Those two losses to Camden Catholic were the only two for Eustace in its first 17 games.
To show how difficult Non-Public A is, Paul VI began the week with a 9-10 record, but the Eagles have split with Camden Catholic and are coming off a 66-49 win over another major South Jersey Group 2 contender, Haddonfield.
In addition, Christian Brothers Academy, a perennial contender in this bracket, began the week just 12-7 and won't be listed among the favorites this year, but can never be discounted.
So South Jersey Non Public A, which begins its tournament on Feb. 28, should again field a competitive tournament, with the projected top two seeds expected to battle it out in the championship.
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