The madness is upon us.
The boys join the March Madness fray Monday when they begin their state tournament and the girls advance to the regional phase.
It took only a few hours for Caledonia to set the tone for the girls tournament by knocking off Class A’s No. 1 team, East Kentwood.
Which Cinderella boys team will be the first to knock off a contender? Time will tell.
Until then, here is a look at how the boys tournament will play out over the next three weeks and who will be headed to the Breslin Center for the state finals.
Defending champ: Clarkston. The Wolves only have lost once and have the best one-two combination in the state in guard Foster Loyer (Michigan State) and big man Taylor Currie (Wisconsin). But how serious is Loyer’s meniscus injury, and will he even play? Stay tuned.
Toughest district: Detroit Western. This is the district from hell. Cass Tech and King, both good teams, should meet in the semifinals and the winner likely will play East English Village. But first, East English has to get past Western in the district opener, and Western has played everyone tough.
Final four: Cass Tech, Clarkston, Holland West Ottawa, Belleville.
Player who could crash the party: Brandon Johns, East Lansing. The Mr. Basketball finalist, who signed with Michigan, is capable of carrying this team the short distance to the Breslin Center. But he will need some strong performances to accomplish it.
State champ: Clarkston. After waiting 35 years for his first state title, Clarkston coach Dan Fife makes it two in a row — if Loyer can play. If not, this thing is wide open.
Defending champ: New Haven. With Romeo Weems, the No. 1 junior in the state and one of the best in the country, the Rockets are favored to repeat. But it won’t be easy. Missing from last season is Eric Williams Jr., who has led Duquesne in scoring as a freshman.
Toughest district: At Kelloggsville. This will be a tough opening night for four winning teams — Kelloggsville plays Grand Rapids South Christian and will be followed by Grand Rapids West Michigan Aviation vs. Godwin Heights. This guarantees a top-notch district final.
Final four: Benton Harbor, River Rouge, New Haven, Wyoming Godwin Heights.
Player who could crash the party: Anthony Roberts, Detroit Henry Ford. The 6-foot-3 guard has had some tremendous games, scoring 40 points against Cass Tech. He reopened his recruiting after a coaching change at Bryant University and would be a good catch.
State champ: New Haven. This is more about Weems than anything, but this is not a slam dunk. This is truly wide open and any of the final four teams has a legit chance at winning the title.
Defending champ: Flint Beecher. The Bucs are shooting for their fourth consecutive state title and sixth in the last seven years. This is Beecher’s most inexperienced team in years, but it is still talented. Yet, even getting out of the district will be more difficult than in many years.
Toughest district: At Montrose. There isn’t a losing team in this district. Beecher has to beat host Montrose opening night and then a good Atherton just to get to the district final. Flint Hamady, ranked above Beecher, will have to beat Bendle and then Bentley for a shot at Beecher.
Final four: Detroit Edison, Grand Rapids Covenant Christian, Monroe St. Catholic Central, Manton.
Player who could crash the party: Jalen Terry, Flint Beecher. The sophomore guard is the next Beecher star, and he has been the team’s best player this season. He will have to have a spectacular three weeks if Beecher is going to win another title.
State champ: Detroit Edison. This may be a stretch because Edison has to battle just to get to the regional final. But the PSL champ has three Division I signees — Pierre Mitchell Jr. (Central Michigan), Gary Solomon (LIU-Brooklyn) and Deante Johnson (Cleveland State) — and no other team in this class can say the same.
Defending champ: Powers North Central. Three-time defending champ North Central has had a fine season (16-4), but without Jason Whitens, now at Western Michigan, and his buddies, it is time for Southfield Christian to return to the throne.
Toughest district: At Bellevue. There isn’t a bad team in this district. Marshall Academy is having a breakout season and has to get past St. Philip before going against an exceptional Athens team. Once-beaten Bellevue has to beat Battle Creek Calhoun to get to what should be an excellent district final.
Final four: Dollar Bay, Southfield Christian, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian, Frankfort.
Player who could crash the party: Jake Witt, Ewen-Trout Creek. This 6-feet-7, 235-pound mountain disguised as a basketball player is the real deal. He is averaging 26.9 points and 17 rebounds and has over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He could get the Panthers to the Breslin.
State champ: Southfield Christian. This is the biggest lock in the state. The Eagles have yet to lose to a Class D opponent and won’t, until next season — maybe. Among their Class A wins are victories over Detroit King and Ann Arbor Pioneer as well as Class B contender River Rouge.
Mick McCabe is a former longtime columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1