The 72nd edition of the Louisville Invitational Tournament will be played at Valley High this Monday through Saturday. The first round games will be played on Monday and Tuesday, with the quarter-finals scheduled for Wednesday, semi-finals for Friday night, and finals for Saturday night.

The LIT field these days is made up of the 16 highest rated Sixth and Seventh Region teams according to the SETH ratings, a rating system devised by the JCPS Director of Athletics. Nine teams of this year's field come from the Sixth Region, but most of the higher seeded teams come from the Seventh Region, with the lowest seeded team from the Seventh Region being the no. 9 seed.

The Butler Bears enter the LIT as the top seed. Butler is having an outstanding season and currently boasts a 15-5 record, but I think the Trinity Shamrocks are the favorite to repeat as LIT champions. Trinity looked very strong until David Johnson went out with an injury suffered while Trinity was playing Collins in the King of the Bluegrass Tournament. The Rocks lost that game to Collins and went on to lose 4 more games, including a loss to the Ballard Bruins, but Johnson has returned to the lineup, and Trinity's 20-point win over Waggener on Friday suggests that Johnson is fine and Trinity is back to full strength. The Trinity Shamrocks at full strength will be hard to beat.

Who might be able to do that? It looks like the Male Bulldogs are coming into the LIT at a good time. The Bulldogs just got back the services of Howard Fleming from off-season shoulder surgery and promptly beat St. X 66-49 Friday night. Fleming's return adds more offensive firepower to a team that was playing pretty well without him. If Male and Trinity are to play, it would be in the second round on Wednesday.

Of course, this is high school basketball, and anything can happen. In looking at the brackets, five of the first round match-ups are between teams that already have played each other, and none of those games resulted in a winning margin of more than 9 points.

A quick look at those first round match-ups:

Butler (1) v. Bullitt East (16) - These teams played each other on 12/4/18, with Butler prevailing 57-51.

DeSales (8) v. Seneca (9) - DeSales beat Seneca 79-70 on 12/28/18 in the Ashland Invitational Tournament. As is usually the case in an 8 v. 9 match-up, I think this game has the potential to be a good one.

St. Xavier (5) v. Pleasure Ridge Park (12) - St. X has played well so far this season, while PRP has not achieved the level of success I anticipated. Still, I think this one also has the potential to be a close game.

Ballard (4) v. Doss (13) - With Walter Johnson leading the way, Ballard has played well, and Alexander Holley has returned for the Bruins. At 7-12, Doss has not had a great season, although one of its wins was against Fern Creek.

Trinity (2) v. Bullitt Central (15) - With David Johnson's return, Trinity looks strong and presents a big challenge to a Bullitt Central team making its first ever appearance in the LIT.

Male (7) v. Fern Creek (10) - Male beat Fern Creek 77-75 on 12/11/18 at Fern Creek. Male has Howard Fleming back, while Fern Creek's young talent has gained more experience since then. Another game with the potential to be a really good one.

Central (6) v. Jeffersontown (11) - These teams played on 12/20/18 in the City of Middletown Holiday Classic, with Central prevailing 65-62. That certainly suggests the potential for another good one here.

Waggener (3) v. Valley (14) - Waggener beat Valley 77-74 on 11/30/18 at Waggener. That earlier result suggests a better match-up than you usually expect from a 3 v. 14 match-up.

So, as is always the case in the LIT, there should be plenty of good basketball on Dixie Highway this week. Hope everyone can make it out for some of it.