We have hit mid-March and just like in college basketball, that means it’s time for brackets and to crown a champion. The Winter 2024 playoffs in Rhode Island get underway this Tuesday night, and we have two close Quarterfinal matchups between the teams in the middle of the standings. Lob City capped off an undefeated regular season, while two teams who played the defending champs close in the regular season look to knock off Lob City in the single-elimination playoffs.

Lob City won every game during the regular season except one by double digits. Three-time Legacy Leagues Champion Colin Burns says the team hopes to continue their championship dominance and knows how team cannot look past any opponent.

“Nothing really counts till playoff time,” Burns said. “We always have a chip on our shoulder come playoff time.”

Burns put up a league-high 56 points in the final week of the regular season this season and is looking forward to a Week 9 rematch with Unaffiliated and Eric Fowler, who is a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. Unaffiliated has not gotten the taste of victory so far this season, and leads the league in rebounds this season. They will need to continue that dominance on the glass to hang with an experienced Lob City team.

Below them in the bracket is the fourth-seeded Rhode Dawgs and fifth-seeded Alwaves, who met previously all the way back in Week 1. The Rhode Dawgs won that first matchup, but it is the Alwaves who have found their groove late in the season winning four of their last five games. Josh DePina, a Legacy Leagues rookie, leads the way for the Alwaves who are a very well-rounded team that has suffered from injuries the past few weeks.

The Rhode Dawgs won many close games early in the season before playing some tougher competition, but look to go back to playing Rhode Dawgs basketball in the playoffs against the Alwaves. The Rhode Dawgs are led by Marc Washington, who has impressed during his first season in the Legacy Leagues. We can expect a physical and heavy defensive game between both of these squads in the Quarterfinals as both teams are also known for their paint and mid-range games.

Previewing the other side of the bracket, we see the 2-seed Halfway Crooks looking to return to the Finals despite having some new faces on the roster. They feature last season’s MVP Charles Alexander as well as two other 20-plus point-per-game scorers to form a team that has found their groove a few weeks into the season.

Jared Hanson, a longtime veteran of the Legacy League says he is confident in his team as they head into the playoffs.

“If we play four quarters we can play basketball with anybody, it doesn’t matter who our opponent is,” Hanson said.

The Halfway Crooks will take on the 7-seed Gym Rats, led by a young trio of first year players hoping to derail a Halfway Crooks team that just beat them two weeks ago. The Gym Rats are a team rounding into shape as they play tough every game and use their speed to their advantage. They are led by Brandon Whitman who is shooting just under 60 percent on the season and is returning to the court after missing a couple weeks due to an injury. Whitman will need to return to midseason form and work with Thomas D’Andrea down low to pull off the upset.

In another rematch of two teams fresh off a slugfest, we see the 3-seed Regulators and the 6-seed Air Mambas get ready to face off again. The Regulators are propelled by Tommy McSparren, who is shooting an impressive 56 percent from three on the season and has been a cornerstone for the Regulators during their recent winning streak.

“We have a week to practice and be ready for whoever we get,” McSparren said after his team’s Week 9 win not knowing at the time him and his right-hand man Justin Titsworth would lock up the third-seed. They will take on the Air Mambas who feature some returning players to the league who are hoping to get their first Legacy Leagues playoff win. The Air Mambas are led by stretch big man Luis Ramirez who can do it all, and they will need Ramirez to continue to use his size to attack players down low while also hitting threes to help lift his team to the upset.

This season’s playoff bracket sets up some interesting potential matchups later in the playoffs as we get set to crown another Legacy Leagues Champion. Will it be a familiar face hoisting the trophy, or will a new squad win three-straight games and knock off the favorites to make history?