All right, everyone's impatiently waiting for these predictions so here they are. Hopefully there's not enough time left before states for teams to engage in extra hard studying to prove me wrong (not that it would happen anyway)
1. Springhouse -
Frankly, I was expecting them to do even better at regionals than they did. Based on invitational results and the general trajectory of the state, Springhouse is the team to beat right now. I also think they have the most upside of any B team in the state to break that top 10 nationals wall that PA teams seem to always meet.
2. Shady Side -
I deliberated a long time about this pick. Bala Cynwyd's regional showing was incredible, and based on the computer rankings I use to estimate teams' placings, Shady Side would be third. However, Shady Side has an incredibly important edge for a high-stakes competition like this, which is experience. They've gone to several more tournaments this year, and know what needs to happen to qualify for nationals. And that's an edge that is impossible to overstate.
3. Bala Cynwyd -
By putting BC here, I do not mean to disrespect them. They're a legitimate contender for nationals, and the improvement they've made from last year is tremendous. However, the concern is that we only have one tournament of evidence that they can compete to this level. I'm not sure they have the experience that Shady Side does at competing consistently strong in tournaments like these. However, I definitely salute Bala Cynwyd for making this a legitimate race for two spots, which is fantastic for the state as a whole, and I will not be surprised if they do end up qualifying.
4. Strath Haven -
One funny little trend in the rankings is that while everyone disagrees about the top three, nearly EVERYONE agrees that Strath Haven will get fourth. That's pretty weird to think about. However, they do seem to be on a tier of their own; they were almost 40 points ahead of Welsh Valley at regionals, and while they probably won't be very close to the top 3, they definitely have the experience to stay in the next tier.
5. Welsh Valley -
Always seem to be a lock to finish in the heart of the top 10. They don't really have enough upside to be much higher, but they're definitely too consistent to finish much lower. In a year where the bottom half of the top 10 seems wide open, WV is one of the more sure-fire teams.
6. Franklin Regional -
I seem to be higher on this team than most people are. They're not a regular in the top 10, but they've been in the top half pretty consistently, and they had their best showing at regionals in recent history, in a region that's tougher than most people give it credit for. I can't recall a team placing this close to Shady Side since Sewickley's team disbanded (miss u bb). This team looks like it has the talent to surprise some people.
7. Park Forest -
A three-year streak of getting 7th each year would be the oddest but greatest streak for the PA state tournament. The computer ranking puts them 9th, but they're less than 3 points behind 7th, so there's no reason for me to move them. Plus, they're one of those teams that always seems to outperform the formula's ranking for them, so that's a good sign for The S7reak! (I tried)
8. Devon Prep -
They seem to have fallen off slightly from last year, but hopefully that's just a blip; more nationals contenders makes things fun! They're still good enough to stay in the top 10, though, so it's not much of a decline, really.
9. Wyoming Area -
This is a team that has, in the past, sometimes fallen short of their potential. However, last year's 9th suggests that, hopefully, that trend is history. I always root for teams from the Northeast to do well, so two teams (or more) in the top 10 would be great to see!
10. Whitehall Coplay -
I had an internal debate with myself between Springton Lake and these guys for 10th. In the end I went with Whitehall, because when they're good, they can be REALLY good. They were a good distance behind Springhouse at regionals, but lots of teams would be. If they're on, watch out. They could really rise.
Springton Lake, Wilkes-Barre Academy, Stetson, Eagle View, Abington Heights, Hershey
1. Harriton -
It just isn't very wise to not pick Harriton first. Even when they don't win regionals, their track record kind of speaks for itself. I know they finally placed second at states two years ago, but their consistency is unparalleled in Pennsylvania SO history.
2. Penncrest -
Consider the following: last year, Penncrest had their worst regional showing in over a decade, earning 173 points and placing fifth overall, and still came in third by only 29 points. Now, they've shaved off 65 regionals points to a tidy 108, and have had strong invitational results. This is going to be a very strong team, and if Harriton's not careful, Penncrest has a legitimate shot at claiming first.
3. Bayard Rustin -
Don't get me wrong, this is a very strong team, and a team that rightly has legitimate nationals aspirations. But when you've got a Penncrest team that's coming back with a vengeance and a Harriton team that's, well... Harriton, that's a really tall order to overcome, and Rustin's the only other team I can see breaking into that. A nationals appearance would be very, very well-earned.
4. Conestoga -
This team has been SO close to nationals, SO many times, and I really, really want to see them qualify one day. However, I don't really think this is the year. The three teams above are too strong, and I don't know if Stoga has the upside this year to beat two of the three.
5. Shady Side -
Apparently there's this thing going around that I often disrespect Shady Side's C team, for some reason? If that's because I don't pick them to go to nationals, then all right; I just don't really see it happening, the top SE teams are too strong. They're the strongest team outside of the Southeast region, though, and are near-locks to finish in the middle of the top 10, which is a significant accomplishment for a competition of this caliber.
6. Lower Merion -
After a brief down spell, they're back. They're not really a team that's going to blow people's minds, but they've very good and they're going to place pretty high, which is what's to be expected from LM.
7. Strath Haven -
I initially had them 6th but moved them down one when I found out about their conflict (look a couple pages earlier in this thread if you're confused). Given that the middle school peaked in 2013, this team's best chance at a peak will likely come next year, so hopefully they can avoid all conflicts for then. Of course, middle and high schools don't always correlate exactly in terms of Science Olympiad results, so it's perfectly reasonable that they'll retain this level of success past that.
8. Stroudsburg -
For the past couple years, Stroudsburg has abruptly returned to being a yearly contender at states. It's hard to tell at this point if this is a temporary stay or a sign of things to come, but for now, they're a pretty decent bet to keep placing in the top 10, even if they haven't quite managed to place first at regionals yet. If only they'd been at this level during South's peak years... that would've been a lot of fun.
9. Perkiomen Valley -
They've placed top 10 five years in a row, and just won regionals for the first time since 2013. Even if their point total wasn't super eye-popping, I've got to think that they're a really solid bet to crack the top 10 yet again. One of the most consistent teams of the 2010s.
10. North Pocono -
They've floated around the brink of the top 10 for a few years now. They've consistently beaten Stroudsburg at regionals, but haven't replicated that at states; luckily for them, it still gives them a good chance to place in the top 10, given Stroudsburg's likelihood of success. Similar to B, I will always root for NEPA teams at states, so hopefully both of them do well (as well as the rest of the teams)!
Garnet Valley, Northwestern Lehigh, Abington Heights, Hershey, Parkland
You're now free to tell me where I went wrong.