Preps Talk

Why to watch: Loyola at Glenbard West Tale of the Tape

Why to watch: Loyola at Glenbard West Tale of the Tape

Matchup: No. 1 Loyola Academy (12-0) at No. 20 Glenbard West (10-2), Saturday 1 p.m.

Where to watch: Live broadcast on CSN and a live stream available on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

Overview: This Class 8A semifinal features two of the better programs in Chicagoland over the past several seasons. Head coach John Holecek's No. 1 seeded Ramblers are looking to repeat as Class 8A champions after capturing the second IHSA title in school history in 2015. Loyola Academy has also been the state's consensus top ranked team since the preseason. Head coach Chad Hetlet No. 20 seeded Hilltoppers are also looking looking to capture the program's second-straight state title after winning the Class 7A crown in 2015. The Hilltoppers lost two straight regular-season games to West Suburban Silver rivals Lyons Township (28-14) and Hinsdale Central (31-30) before firing off six straight wins.

When Loyola Academy has the football: The biggest question going into this game for Loyola is if senior quarterback Tommy Herion will return after reportedly suffering a concussion in last week's 24-0 win over Huntley. Herion has been a big key to the Loyola no-huddle shotgun-spread offense all season. The Loyola offense has weapons, including Duke verbal commit in wide receiver Jake Marwede who could take snaps under center. Marwede (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) played quarterback for Loyola up until last season and has been used as a Wildcat quarterback this season. The Ramblers will also rely on its very impressive senior led offensive line and running back Kyle Rock.

[MORE PREPS: Time to look at homefield advantage in football playoffs again]

When Glenbard West has the football: The Hilltoppers want to establish the running game first and juniors' Ryan Diver and Dre Thomas have been a key, led by a strong offensive line. However, the real story for Glenbard West on offense this postseason has been its play-action passing game. Senior quarterback Cole Brady has been on fire all postseason and has some big targets in senior tight end Alex Pihlstrom (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and junior wide receiver (Alec Pierce 6-foot-4, 185 pounds). 

Key matchups to watch: The Glenbard West running game against the Loyola defense. Both Loyola and Glenbard West boast first and foremost its defenses. Throughout the postseason Glenbard West has been able to set up its play-action passing game thanks to its running attack. When the Hilltoppers can get the running game going, good thing happen for them. Loyola also knows they need to take away the Glenbard West running game as its top priority this week.

Impact player for Loyola Academy: Marwede has simply been a very hard matchup for all comers this season. Marwede uses his size and length to out-position most defenders. Marwede is also very hard to stop under center running the Wildcat in short yardage situations.  Opposing teams do not want to see Marwede with a 5-7 yard head full of steam.

Impact Player for Glenbard West: OLB/DB Jackson Goleash. While the Hilltoppers offense is no question important, the lifeblood is the defense. Goleash is an impact performer and leader on the Hitters defense, and if Glenbard West needs a big play or a big stop on defense? Look towards Goleash to be somewhere near the football.

Prediction? Glenbard West 21, Loyola Academy 14. Check the weather conditions on Saturday. If it's cold/rainy/windy as forecasted, Duchon Filed could be a potentially sloppy track. I like the Hilltoppers on its homefield in less than ideal conditions.

Some changes in latest NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

Some changes in latest NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings

The NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings saw some changes this week with many teams closing out conference play.

The final week of the regular season for Class 3A and 4A will see some top-25 matchups in conference title games as we'll still have plenty of shifts during the week before the IHSA state playoffs.

1. Bloom (25-5, 14-1) (1) -- Two more double-digit wins for the Blazing Trojans in takedowns of Rich East and Rich Central. Bloom closes Southland play against Rich South before the Class 4A playoffs. 

2. Thornton (27-1, 14-1) (2) -- The Wildcats won by double digits over Thornridge in Southland play. Two road games for Thornton during the week against St. Laurence and Thornwood. 

3. Simeon (22-8, 8-2) (3) -- The city champions are off until the Class 4A state playoffs. The No. 2 seed in the Lyons Sectional, the Wolverines open Tuesday, March 3 at Lane against Juarez. 

4. Curie (25-2, 8-0) (4) -- The Condors earned another strong win over Oak Forest. The win gets Curie some confidence heading into another tough non-conference road test at Notre Dame later this week.

5. Morgan Park (19-9, 6-2) (5) -- Off this week and next, the Mustangs are the No. 1 seed in the Thornridge Sectional in Class 3A. Morgan Park opens the IHSA state playoffs on Tuesday, March 3. 

6. Bogan (25-3, 8-1) (6) -- The Bengals stayed sharp with big wins over Longwood and Bowman (IN). Bogan has the week off as they prepare for the Class 3A playoffs. 

7. Evanston (25-4, 9-1) (7) -- The Wildkits fell to Kenwood but rallied with a strong home win over No. 14 Glenbrook South. Evanston faces Maine East in CSL crossover play this week. 

8. Homewood-Flossmoor (23-3, 7-0) (8) -- The Vikings held off Sandburg to maintain a lead in the SouthWest Suburban Blue. Huge week ahead for H-F as they try to sweep Bolingbrook with a road win that would win them the conference outright. 

9. Whitney Young (18-9, 8-1) (9) -- Off until the Class 4A playoffs, the Dolphins are the No. 3 seed in the Lyons Sectional. The Dolphins open on Tuesday March 3 on the road against Proviso West. 

10. Notre Dame (26-4, 8-1) (10) -- The Dons closed out ESCC play with a win over Carmel to stay tied atop the league lead. Notre Dame had an interesting week with a home game against No. 4 Curie and a game against Senn. 

11. Marian Catholic (22-7, 8-1) (11) -- A win over Joliet Catholic kept the Spartans tied with Notre Dame at 8-1 in the ESCC. The Spartans face Richards in a solid non-conference test before the playoffs begin.

12. Stevenson (24-4, 12-1) (12) -- Three wins for the Patriots during a solid week that included wins over Warren, Waukegan and Benet. Stevenson will host Lake Forest this week, a team they lost to before in the regular season.

13. Loyola (26-4, 14-1) (20) -- Winning the Catholic League by two full games after wins over DePaul Prep and Fenwick, the Ramblers had the best week of any team in the area. Loyola has a final home tuneup against Bulls before the state playoffs begin.

14. Glenbrook South (26-4, 9-1) (13) -- The Titans fell in heartbreaking fashion on the road at Evanston to share the CSL South title with them. Glenbrook South takes on Niles North in the CSL title game on Wednesday night. 

15. Bolingbrook (25-5, 6-1) (15) -- Getting past Lockport and Sandburg, the Raiders put themselves in position to stay with Homewood-Flossmoor in the SouthWest Suburban Blue. The two play again in Bolingbrook this week. 

16. Joliet West (24-4, 15-0) (17) -- The Tigers are close to perfection in the Southwest Prairie after a win over Plainfield South. Joliet West plays two more games against Plainfield Central and Lincoln-Way West. 

17. Mundelein (26-4, 11-2) (18) -- Three wins for Mundelein this week in taking down Libertyville, Lake Zurich and Moline. The Mustangs finish out North Suburban play against Warren this week.

18. DePaul Prep (22-5, 12-3) (14) -- After a two-game stretch with losses to Fenwick and Loyola, the Rams responded with an impressive blowout win over St. Ignatius to close out the Catholic League. The Rams face Mather this week in a final game before the playoffs.  

19. Fenwick (23-7, 12-3) (19) -- The Friars fell to Loyola as they fell short of the Catholic League title. Fenwick will go on the road to face Taft during the final week of the season.

20. Oak Forest (25-2, 12-0) (16) -- Falling to Curie for only their second loss of the season, the Bengals schedule is ramping up before the playoffs. This week finds the Bengals facing Andrew and Hillcrest in another major test.

21.Orr (17-7, 7-2) (21) -- The three-time defending Class 2A champions were off this week. The No. 1 seed in the Marshall Sectional, the Spartans will be favorites to win another title this March.

22. York (27-3, 11-1) (22) -- The Dukes claimed two more wins along with the West Suburban Silver title by a full three games. York plays in the West Suburban title game on Wednesday against Hinsdale South at Addison Trail. 

23. Niles North (25-4, 10-0) (23) -- The Vikings ran past Maine East to go undefeated in the Central Suburban North. Niles North gets a strong test this week when they face No. 14 Glenbrook South in the CSL title game. 

24. Cary-Grove (27-3, 16-1) (24) -- Strong week for Cary-Grove with a double-digit win over Schaumburg and another solid win over Jacobs. The Fox Valley champions play Prairie Ridge in their final conference game before the Class 4A state playoffs. 

25. Hillcrest (20-8, 11-1) (NR) -- Back in the Power Rankings, the Hawks won against Romeoville and a buzzer-beating win over T.F. North. The Hawks have a huge road test at Oak Forest on Friday night for the top of the South Suburban Blue.

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 12

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

High School Lites basketball roundup: Week 12

Check out our high school hoops highlights from some of the best games around the state, and be sure to follow @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest scores, highlights, and analysis

Athlete of the Week: Maine West's Angela Dugalic

Team of the Week: Simeon girls basketball 

Windy City Legends: Anthony Davis

Highlights: Hillcrest 76, TF North 74

Highlights: Loyola 57. Fenwick 49

Highlights: Waubonsie Valley 35, Naperville Central 32

Highlights: Oswego East 63, Plainfield North 46

Midweek Mixtape: Simeon 81, Morgan Park 76

Highlights: Schaumburg 35, Palatine 21

Highlights: Evanston 61, Glenbrook South 60

Highlights: Aurora Christian 74, Riverside-Brookfield 69

Highlights: East Aurora 94, Streamwood 89

Highlights: Round Lake 68, Wauconda 43

Highlights (Girls): Trinity 56, ITW-Speer 8

Highlights: Marengo 53, Woodstock North 47

Highlights: Andrew 68, Lincoln-Way Central 48