Class AAA and AAAA outstate section predictions

This is the 3rd and final installment of my outstate section predictions. If you missed the small school predictions, use these links.
Now on to the big schools.

Class AAA

Section 1: This will be a interesting section to watch with Austin having a very good year, Connor O'Brien and Danny Geiger being a formidable duo at New Prague and the highest power ranking of the group (but 3rd best record) goes to always tough St. Thomas Academy. 3 teams, 3 leagues, always a dilemma. New Prague hammered Austin by 25 earlier in the year. I'll take New Prague to beat both teams on their way to the section title as I'm rooting for the heart-wrenching story of them winning one for their fallen coach. No Jake Syzmanski for STA really hurts their cause against New Prague as they could use his defense on Geiger. Geiger is the straw that stirs the drink in their dribble-drive motion.

Section 2: In a word, brutal. Any of the top 4 seeds could win it, but Mankato West is on another level so I'll take them. The semifinals will be must see games with Worthington, Marshall and Willmar.

Section 5: Very open section. Monticello likely the #1 seed with their 18 point win over Annandale last night. But they've lost to Rogers and have to face the Royals again to end the season. Both wins over STMA are close and STMA has 2 close wins over Rogers. Burke Lendl and Tony Cain Rogers give Rogers an inside advantage but tourney time means good guard play which STMA and Monticello both have. STMA made it last year, let's take them again behind the point guard play of Jason Dehmer and shooting from Kevin Nelson.

Section 7: Cloquet got blown out by Grand Rapids to start the season and then thanks to 18 and 14 from Chad Calcaterra only lost by 5 last night at home to the Thunderhawks. I'd love to see Cloquet pull the upset to see Calcaterra make a state trip and hear the name RaRa Jones, but that has to wait a year. Grand Rapids has too much experience and Cloquet's guards aren't up to par yet.

Section 8: The easy pick here is Apollo and for good reason as Andre Garth is on another level. Add in a talented group of sophs and this should be a no-brainer. But watch out for Little Falls, they've lost 2 tough ones to Apollo this season and remember that this is also what happened last season when Little Falls pulled the 62-60 upset.

Class AAAA

Section 1: Winona is on fire right now and they're no better than 4th in line right now. Farmington, Owatonna and Northfield are all going to be tough outs. Looking like a dynamite semifinal rematch between Owatonna and Northfield. Farmington on fire right now winning 12 of 13 after a 6-5 start (including a close loss at Owatonna). I like Owatonna here as they have the most pieces and the toughest matchup in the section, Kyle Melcher. But they'll probably have to get thru a Northfield team that already beat them this season.

Section 8: St. Cloud Tech looks like an obvious choice but hold the phone. Buffalo has won 17 of 18 and that loss was to Cooper after being up 17 with 10 minutes left. But they went 1-5 vs the Northwest Suburban before that including a 52-41 loss to my sleeper in the section, Maple Grove. The Crimson have beaten Grand Rapids and Osseo (rematch tonight) and played Henry Sibley and St. Paul Johnson very tough in the Bethel Holiday Tournament. MG is tough inside with Josh Pedretti and Brett Torrence amongst the group of bodies up front and they have solid guard play from Alex Geisenhoff and Matt Christenson. I think they beat Buffalo again in the 2 vs 3 semifinal and give Tech major heartburn before bowing out to clutch play down the stretch from Nate Wolters.

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