Though March Madness got started with a February Frenzy, it will heat up tonight for local teams in postseason play.
There are a few teams who didn't think they would still be playing and a few who have survived some close call early. There are also teams watching who expected to be playing tonight and beyond.
This is not an episode for the old TV series "The Twilight Zone," but the stories that have unfolded are real and tough luck for some teams. Sometimes if you look to far in the future, you forget about the present and your present opponent, a.k.a -- putting the cart before the horse.
Seton Academy will face Catholic League rival Leo for the third time this season in the Class 2A Herscher Sectional final. The Sting has beaten the Lions twice, 95-66 at Leo on Dec. 2 and 71-60 on Feb. 23 at Seton. This should be a great matchup and the fans who make the trip down Interstate 57 will get their money's worth. That will be one of the best matchups in Class 2A. Leo has been playing a lot better.
Seton survived a regional scare when it came back to beat Chicago University High in one semifinal of the that school's regional. Seton had a physical game Wednesday in beating Herscher.
Seton coach Brandon Thomas and his staff won't let the Sting look ahead and if they do, they just need to look back a week. This is a talented team and is focused.
Another good rematch is in the Class 4A Joliet Central Regional final where Bloom Township puts a 10-game winning streak on the line against Sandburg.
Bloom's last loss was to the Eagles at Joliet in the Martin Luther King Day of Hoops. In that game, the Blazing Trojans blew a nine-point lead with a little over a minute left and lost in overtime.
Look for another close one tonight.
Homewood-Flossmoor will face Thornwood in the final of the Class 4A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional. The Vikings won 56-51 at Chicago Heights Classic.
Thornwood has showed patience in running its offense and it has paid off as they won the SouthWest Suburban Red, while H-F won the SWSC Blue. The Vikings have been up-and-down all season and how they come out tonight could set the tempo for the game.
Marian Catholic, Thornton and Thornridge are looking to pull off upsets tonight and all three can.
Marian has sophomore sensation Tyler Ulis back and faces a No. 2 seed Andrew team in the Class 4A Andrew Regional final. It will be a tall order, but the Spartans are a different team with Ulis, who missed a few games with an ankle injury.
Thornton and Thornridge has less than stellar regular seasons, but both are at home tonight. Thornton plays Joliet West in the Class 4A Thornton Regional final. The Wildcats upset Crete-Monee and coach Troy Jackson's young team is starting to gel at the right time.
The players know about the program's tradition.
The same at Thornridge, which is home in a Class 3A regional final against Rich South. Forty years ago, the Falcons went undefeated in what is considered the best team ever in Illinois.
This team is 12-14, but maybe there is a little nostalgia and magic left in the old gym off Cottage Grove Avenue and Sibley Boulevard.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.