Its that fun time of year where I make my picks for the 2012 metro sections. Picks for entertainment purposes only. For those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, why not? start now!), you'll know that I already have a headstart. I correctly picked Bethany Academy over Glenville-Emmons in the 4 vs 5 game in section 1A west.
For more about the 2012 playoffs, you can also read a pair of my articles for the new website I'm also writing for now, Northstar Hoops Report.
Section 1: Bethlehem to oust Bethany on Monday night in the section 1A quarters.
Section 2: Lester Prairie over upstart 11 seed Sleepy Eye before bowing out to CMC. No pick on SW Christian since they've already lost their pigtail game.
Section 4 Pigtails: I'll take the 3 high seeds Liberty, North Lakes, and Nova
Section 4 Round of 16: The top 6 seeds move on without trouble. If Ben Glover plays, I'll take MTS for the upset in the 7 vs 10 game over Legacy, otherwise the Saints move on. He sat out the last regular season game for MTS. CHOF just beat 4 Directions so I'm surprised CHOF has the road game in this one. Give me CHOF in that one.
Section 4 Quarterfinals: High seeds hold with Maranatha, Heritage and Prairie Seeds move on. But I'm going to apply the Glover rule here too. #10 MTS pulls the upset over #2 FAIR if Glover plays.
Section 4 Semis and Championship: #1 Maranatha has beaten Heritage twice but the last meeting they only won by 3. The 3rd time will have to be done on Heritage's home court so expect a better game than you might think. The better game of the 2 will be Prairie Seeds vs the MTS/FAIR winner. FAIR and PSA split a pair of tight games and FAIR was without wildcard Deonte Blakemore in the 1st meeting. If they meet again expect another game in the 80s. I'll take PSA to win that semifinal but then fall in their 1st section final experience against Maranatha. But it will test MCA coach Jeff Wall as the Mustangs will have to figure out a way to defend the high powered Lycans offense.
Section 5: Spectrum falls at St. Cloud Cathedral. Providence falls at HLWW.
Section 4 Round of 16: I'll take the 7 top seeds and then St. Agnes should avenge a Friday the 13th loss at Brooklyn Center. North is in a huge tailspin and Breck is as beaten up as any team out there. But Breck has beaten Minnehaha and Roosevelt to finish with a 3 game winning streak. North is 3-21 and seeded ahead of 5 other teams. Serious weakness in the bottom half of this bracket
Section 4 Quarters: St. Agnes gave SCL fits in 1st meeting and their athletes are dangerous. Crusaders move on but the 1 seed going out early here wouldn't be a shock. Trinity and New Life split on the other's home court, expect a quality 4/5 game there. I'll take Trinity with Tony Kuplic as the difference maker. Concordia and Minnehaha move on in the bottom half.
Section 4 Semis and Final: St. Croix Lutheran takes out Trinity in a rematch, Minnehaha holds off Concordia. St. Croix Lutheran continues their run as they move on to state. Gerald McCarver is dangerous enough to lead the Redhawks back to state though.
Section 1: I'll take New Prague over Waseca and Kasson-Mantorville. Red Wing to beat Winona. Austin to beat Faribault, Red Wing and New Prague for the section title.
Section 3: I'll take high seeds in round 1 but expect another tight one in the 4 vs 5 game. Columbia Heights at Totino-Grace is one of the better games of the night. High Seeds move on to the final and I like De La Salle and how they matchup with Spring Lake Park. Give me the Islanders to win that section.
Section 4: Johnson, Hill-Murray and St. Thomas Academy all win easily. Central's jekyll and hyde squad just lost by 10 at Highland Park I think the Minutemen are more talented but I can't bring myself to pick them on the road. Winner goes out to Johnson in the semis. Hill-Murray vs St. Thomas Academy is tough to figure with the teams splitting double-digit wins. Hill-Murray just won at home by 22. I like the 3 seed Hill-Murray in that game. Hill-Murray has given Johnson some fits over the years but hasn't gotten through. Expect lots of 2-3 zone but Johnson is playing well now, so I'll take them to make another trip to state.
Section 6: A fun section to see 1st round games in. BSM and Washburn win easily. Blake wins at home against a struggling Holy Angels team but the Stars have enough size to deal with Blake, just not enough firepower. Chaska and Richfield are opposites with Chaska not a scoring machine and defensive minded while Richfield wants to run and gun. Difference here is that Richfield hasn't proven they can win on the road (only 1 true road win all year, at South in mid December). Give me Chaska there. BSM takes them out in the semifinals. Washburn is athletic enough and deep to bother Blake and I think they move on but not in a blowout. Washburn can definitely play with Benilde-St. Margaret's but after not making state last year, I think the Red Knights will be on a mission and move on in an epic battle of #1 vs #2 in the state.
Section 1: Farmington goes on the road and knocks out Rochester Mayo in the 4 vs 5 game, Hastings goes out to Owatonna in the first round, Century defeats John Marshall. Lakeville North defeats Owatonna in the section title game.
Section 2: I like the seeds as given in this section. Interesting game between old rivals Prior Lake and Shakopee in the 1st round. Very underrated matchup of point guards Brandon Arnold and Jon Sobaski in the semifinals. Eden Prairie is young but they defend well enough that I still see them taking out Chanhassen for the section title.
Section 3: A bunch of fun matchups in this section. Shooters Justin Pahl and Dustin Fronk in the 1st round AV vs E Ridge game, Matt Nelson vs CJ Neumann in the CDH/Rosemount game. Then Tillman vs Tyus in the semis, Mandli vs King/Oberfeld in the other semi. Then the toughest ticket to get on section final night, Eastview takes out Apple Valley for a 3rd time. Tyus Jones and Joey King have lit up the scoreboard in both meetings. Harry Sonie is back as another scoring weapon for the Eagles.
Section 4: 1st round sleeper games in the bottom half. Stillwater has given Woodbury fits in the tourney over the years. The young Ponies only lost by 2 at Woodbury in their last meeting. Zach Meyer is the type of big who can bother Tartan, I think they can give the Titans a game. But I'm not willing to pick any 1st round upsets there. Tartan defends well enough and Woodbury doesn't have the size to bother Tartan so I like Tartan in the semis and Roseville over Mahtomedi. The section final is a great matchup of the new guy vs tradition. Guards all over the place in that game. I like Tartan defensively and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Tartan's kryponite is out of the section (CDH) so they'll finally go back to the state tourney.
Section 5: Osseo moves on in the first round. Maple Grove was a section champ last year and Mitchell Kuck is hurt for Centennial so give me Maple Grove there. Champlin Park takes out Irondale. Very dangerous game for Park Center vs Cooper in the 1st round. Cooper has similar athletes and a star in Rashad Vaughn to carry them. I think Park Center wins but gets a scare. Champlin Park and Park Center split in the regular season but Champlin Park has struggled down the stretch so give me Park Center. I like Osseo to win the title in a game that will either go right to the final buzzer (like the 70-69 game at Osseo) or be a total blowout (like 86-55 at Park Center). Watch that game early on as the district rivals always have it ramped up for this matchup.
Section 6: This is the Hopkins section. End of discussion. But beyond that, Hopkins, Edina and Minnetonka all move on easily in the 1st round. Wayzata is stumbling right now without center Chad Potas (knee). St. Louis Park is a tough matchup with their quickness and dribble drive. They gave Apple Valley all they wanted at Apple Valley but have lost to Edina. I'll take Wayzata in a close one. Edina takes out Minnetonka for a 3rd time before falling to Hopkins in the title game.
Section 7: Duluth East gets the 1st round bye and they won't need it. Expect them to roll here. Forest Lake, Blaine and Anoka all win easily in the 1st round. Anoka is playing well right now with wins over Park Center and Champlin Park recently and they have a star in Marcus Tyus. I like them over Blaine in the semis. Then its too much Woodard, Stafford and Manyang in the final.