Pacesetter Sweet 16 Preview

Each year the MN Basketball News selects who they think will be the top 4 teams in each class for the upcoming season and puts them all in 1 big 16 team tournament. St. Benedict's in St. Joseph is the host as always. With that, here are the entries.

Class 4A: Hopkins, Minnetonka, Tartan and Stillwater. Tartan over Henry Sibley is a nice discussion starter.

Class 3A: Benilde-St. Margaret's, Little Falls, Cloquet and Rocori. Nice to showcase Chad Calcaterra from Cloquet (along with RaRa Jones, one of the best names in the state), but I'd rather have Grand Rapids. But the big omission here is St. Paul Johnson.

2A: New London-Spicer, Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Staples-Motley and Crosby-Ironton. I would have liked to see Minnehaha here, but I can't argue with the 4 choices.

A: Sebeka, Ellsworth, Maranatha, Minnesota Transitions. Maranatha was one of the more overrated teams in class A all of last year (sorry Basketblogger). Very solid and well coached, but Josh Hanson isn't the star that David or Stephen Hanson was. MACCRAY was the team that really got left out here.

My predictions (full schedule can be found here)

Round of 16 games

NLS over Maranatha. NLS is too big and physical inside in this one. As much as I like Darian Pittman at the point for MCA, I'd definitely take the NLS backcourt of Jayme Moten and Erik Tengwall here.

Hopkins over Little Falls big. Hopkins is still Hopkins. Dan Kornbaum is a mismatch problem for Hopkins, but Hopkins with all of their young talent (Chambers, Stahl, Dearring, Coleman, Singleton) is too much.

Rocori over Crosby-Ironton. Its the summer and Rocori will still run The World's Worst Offense to perfection.

MTS vs Minnetonka. MTS won't get a shot at the big boys during the regular season so here's their chance. Jerrell Washington went off for them in last year's Pacesetter, will another star emerge. Tonka with no answer for Kevin Noreen, but will MTS keep Nick Latzke and Cole Stefan from turning the game into a shooting contest? I take Minnetonka in this one.

In the bottom half we start off with Staples-Motley vs Tartan. Tartan with more weapons and better defense wins a perimeter battle. Staples PG Jordan Riewer will be a handful for Tartan to deal with. Then again, Staples doesn't have enough perimeter weapons compared to the Preiner twins and Manani Beavers.

Cloquet vs Ellsworth. Outstanding matchup of D1 bigs as Chad Calcaterra goes against Trevor Gruis. That's the biggest 1st round battle that I see. I like Ellsworth's guards better so I'll take them to win a close one.

PEM vs Sebeka. The Olstads make an appearance on the summer circuit. Joey Cuperus is the contrast for Sebeka with his inside play. Sebeka will be there in class A, but I'm taking a very good PEM team in this one.

We end with a quality metro matchup of Stillwater vs Benilde-St. Margaret's. Stillwater returns everyone from last year and features PG Paul Franklin and huge C Ryan Duxbury. I'm interested to see what new coach Randy Jordan (formerly St. Cloud Tech) has them do here. BSM returns wing Peter Crawford and a bunch of young talent in Evan Battle, Isaiah Zierden, Will Dunn, Trent Pollard etc. Shooter Darren Glover has been out for the summer with a bad knee, I guessing he's out for this as well. Give me BSM here.

Hopkins over NLS, Minnetonka over Rocori, Tartan over Ellsworth, BSM over PEM to make an all metro group of finalist.

Semifinals (10:20 AM Sunday)
Hopkins over Minnetonka but except some of the rivalry to show up in that one. BSM over Tartan in the other semifinal.

Hopkins over BSM as Hopkins still has the best team in the state.

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