Now that seeding is done and the games have been played, some of the teams are who we thought they were (thanks Denny Green) and others were not. So with all seeds in hand, let's do some predictions for the 2015 tournament. We start with the small schools and then go big. All games are at High Seed at 7 PM unless otherwise noted.
Round of 16: 2/26
Championship: 3/6 at Macalester, 5:45 PM
In the pigtails I see 13 Nova over 20 North Lakes, 14 Bethany over 19 AFSA and 15 Christian Life over 18 Learning for Leadership in big fashion. Best game of the 4 is 16 Math and Science over 17 Calvin Christian.
Round of 16: The top 4 seeds, North, MCA, MTS and SW Christian get the 4 pigtail winners. They move on with no problem. Hope vs Legacy is the always dangerous 5 vs 12 game. Expect lots of 3s in that game. Heritage should handle CPA in the 6 vs 11 game. Cristo Rey my favorite over West Lutheran in the 8 vs 9 game. The only upset I'll pick here is 10 seed CHOF over 7 seed PACT. CHOF won the regular season meeting at PACT in early December.
Quarterfinals: North over Cristo Rey and Maranatha over CHOF in blowouts. MTS handles Heritage and SW Christian over Legacy..
Semifinals: North takes out SW Christian. Maranatha def Transitions in a very interesting game.
Finals: #2 North won the meeting with #3 Maranatha in huge fashion at North in January The neutral court will make a difference but North has too many horses and the motivation of not making state last year. I'll take the Polars to advance.
Round of 16: 2/26
Championship: 3/6 at Macalester, 8:15 PM
Round of 16: The top 7 of the top 8 seeds move on in easy fashion. 1 Roosevelt over 16 St. Paul Prep, 2 St Croix Lutheran over Great River, 3 Minnehaha over 14 FAIR, 4 SPA over 13 Mounds Park Academy, 5 Concordia over 12 St. Agnes, 6 New Life over 11 Trinity. 8 Washington over 9 Prairie Seeds. The one opening round game that I think is close is 10 Humboldt at 7 St. Croix Prep. SCPA won the regular season meeting at home by 8 in mid-December. The guard matchup of Humboldt's Demond Dawson vs SCPA's Michael Gutierrez is going to be fun. Gutierrez had 40 in the 1st meeting while Dawson was held to 14 (avg 18.6 during season). Give me the Lions at home in a fairly high scoring game.
Quarterfinals: The top 3 seeds are clear favorites and I'll pick them to move on without much trouble. The 4 vs 5 game should be very tight. Concordia won the regular season meeting with SPA by 1 at Concordia but this game would be at SPA. Expect Dalante Peyton to spend some time defending Roger Moore so Concordia will have to find other offense. Kent Hanson was held to 5 but Peyton went for 22 and Abdul Osman for 15. I think Osman is the X factor here. Home court advantage is the difference in this one. SPA in a very tight game.
Semifinals. These would both be rematches of regular season meetings. St. Croix Lutheran beat Minnehaha on the road by 12 in January. I think the Crusaders do it again, this time at home. Roosevelt beat SPA by 3 at the end of November. But Roosevelt has turned it up a level since then. SPA's size will be a problem for the Teddies, but the Roosevelt trio of Cobbs, Hannah and Farrar is a bigger problem. I think Roosevelt moves on.
Finals: A projected heavyweight battle between #1 St. Croix Lutheran and #3 Roosevelt. Trenton Krueger gives the Roosevelt a problem inside. Ade Lamu is big enough and athletic enough to guard Elijah Hannah. Can they slow down Farrar and Cobbs? St. Croix Lutheran will want to grind this one to a screeching halt while Roosevelt will want an up and down game. I think Roosevelt can turn St Croix Lutheran over enough to make the difference. I'll take Minneapolis Roosevelt as my 2nd team to represent the Minneapolis City at state.
Round of 16: 2/26
Quarterfinals: 2/28 at St. Michael-Albertville (6-8 PM)
Semifinals: 3/3 at St. Michael-Albertville (6-8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at St. Cloud State (doubleheader with 6AA)
Round of 16: I'm only going to go into detail in the south half since the only metro team in the north is Spectrum and I'll take St. Cloud Cathedral to knock them out in round 1. Breck gets a bye as the top seed since International School is not playing. 2 Watertown-Mayer should have no problem with 7 Minneapolis Edison. 3 Providence had no trouble with 6 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted at home in December. I see the same thing here. 5 Rockford will host 4 Brooklyn Center due to gym issues for the Centaurs. I think BC is a very dangerous 4 seed and I wouldn't surprised to hear that some people sandbagged in the seeding meeting to avoid them. I think they're too athletic for Rockford.
Quarterfinals: I like Providence to knock off Watertown-Mayer again. The Lions beat Watertown-Mayer by 5 at home on Friday. Brooklyn Center got Breck at Breck on a buzzer beater in their regular season meeting. I think Breck has their hands full to get through this game but ultimately I think they survive.
Semifinals: I think Breck also has a tough game with Providence in the sub-section final. I think they survive that too with too much firepower. The other half should be absolutely dynamite with Cathedral or Annandale taking on Maple Lake or Braham in a heavyweight battle.
Final: The winner from the north half will be too battle tested. I like the north winner over Breck for a trip to state.
Semifinals: 3/3 at Coon Rapids (6 and 8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Coon Rapids
Quarterfinals: 1 De La Salle over 8 Como Park and 2 Fridley over 7 St. Anthony in easy fashion. I think Henry beats a scrappy Spring Lake Park group . In the 4 vs 5 game, I'm torn. I thought Columbia Heights would be better and I think their athletes bother the Eagles. Totino-Grace is coming in with a couple of good wins over Osseo and Elk River. That and home court propel them to a close win over the next door neighbor Hylanders.
Semifinals: De La Salle big over Totino-Grace. Henry beat Fridley on the road in the regular season. I'll take the 3 seed to win again.
Finals: De La Salle wins big in their attempt to win a 4th straight state title.
Semifinals: 2/28 at St. Paul Washington (6 and 7:45 PM)
Championship: 3/5 at St. Paul Washington
Quarterfinals: Central went 3-10 outside the St. Paul City but did play Hill-Murray and Orono tough early in addition to only losing by 2 at Johnson at the end of January. But Simley shoots it too well and they're at home, I think they move on in the 4 vs 5 game. The other 3 games are blowouts. 1 Johnson over 8 Harding, 2 Hill-Murray over 7 S St. Paul and 3 St. Thomas Academy over 6 Highland Park.
Semifinals: 4 of the top 9 teams in the current state poll here. I think #2 Johnson's presssure will really bother #8 Simley. Especially with the game in Johnson's backyard and not at Simley. I like Johnson to move on. As to the #7 Hill-Murray vs #9 St. Thomas Academy 3rd meeting, ponder this. Marshawn Wilson fouled out early in the 2nd half of the 1st meeting and Hill-Murray won (neutral site). Wilson plays the whole way in the 2nd meeting and goes for 34 and 10 and they lose by 11 at St. Thomas. Both teams have won 10 of their last 12. I think Wilson gets his but St. Thomas holds the others down. They'll get plenty of offense and move on.
Finals: Washington/Arlington has not been a friendly building to the Cadets. #2 Johnson brings a totally different game that the #9 Cadets really haven't seen this year. I'll take the Govs on home turf.
Championship: 3/5 at Chanhassen
Quarterfinals: 1 Washburn blows out 8 Blake and 2 Waconia blows out 7 Richfield. 6 Mound-Westonka played 3 Holy Family tough at home in mid-December, but I think the Fire at home burn the White Hawks. 4 Benilde-St. Margaret's won by 13 at 5 Holy Angels in early December. I think BSM has too much firepower and they move on. Note that the Waconia and BSM games are doubleheaders with regular season girls games. The Waconia boys get the early game while the BSM boys get the late game at the Haben Center.
Semifinals: These are home site games. Top seed Washburn too much firepower for BSM. As to Holy Family and Waconia, these Wright County foes were 13-13 against brutal schedules. They split their 2 matchups with home court wins. The key here will be the backcourts as the front lines are the strengths. UNI recruit Justin Dahl had 2 monster games for the Fire with 27/26 at home and 26/14 on the road. The Joey Korteum vs Jack Mugford shooting matchup may be the difference. I like Waconia at home in a tough one.
Finals:Washburn took Waconia to the woodshed by 27 at Waconia in mid-January. Waconia really struggles with athletic perimeter play (see this game and the Columbia Heights game where they got down 24 early before rallying to win in the season opener). I like Washburn as the 3rd Minneapolis City team to advance to state.
Semifinals: 2/28 at Mayo Civic Center (6:30 and 8:15 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Mayo Civic Center (8 PM)
Quarterfinals: 1 Rochester John Marshall handles 8 Rochester Century. 3 Lakeville North takes out 6 Owatonna. 4 Northfield holds down Dan Jech just enough to get their 3rd win over 5 Rochester Mayo. My initial reaction to 2 Hastings vs 7 Farmington was one of high interest. But Farmington has really struggled recently losing 7 in a row before beating Eagan to end the regular season. Hastings won by 14 in the regular season but that was without Zach Speikers. Hastings did have a big stumble vs Hill-Murray last week but they still won the big games to win the Metro East. So I'll take the Raiders to win here.
Semifinals: Rochester John Marshall hasn't lost since I saw their ugly game against Rice Lake a month ago. Northfield keeps the semifinal interesting but JM moves on. Hastings vs Lakeville North should be a good one as well. 9 of Lakeville North's last 10 games have been decided by 10 or less. I like Lakeville North here thanks to the tough schedule.
Lakeville North will apply pressure and really try to bother the JM
guards. I think JM can win this game but their year is next year.
Connor Flack vs the Hurt brothers is the matchup to see. Lakeville
North has more role guys and that will be the difference.
Semifinals: 2/28 at Apple Valley (5 and 7 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Apple Valley
Quarterfinals: 1 Shakopee over Kennedy, 2 Chaska over 7 Burnsville. 6 Prior Lake vs 3 Bloomington Jefferson expect a slow paced struggle there. I like Prior Lake's chances there. Jefferson pulled the upset a year ago as a 7 seed to make this section a mess. I'm going down the same route this year, give me the Lakers. 4 Chanhassen has won 10 straight. Jack Sorenson and Brenon Larson-Gulsvig are dangerous for Lakeville South as the 5 seed but I'll take Chanhassen here.
Semifinals: Shakopee over Chanhassen in another grind it out game. Too much Steffon Mitchell in that one. Chaska has been too good this year to pick against them in the 1 vs 6 game.
Final: Shakopee vs Chaska would be a rematch of a 5 point Shakopee win in the Eden Prairie tournament. Expect another close matchup but Shakopee has added a piece they didn't have back then in 4 year starting PG Evan Hagen. Have to take the Sabers as they'll find a way to slow down Jake Hansen.
Semifinals: 2/28 at Farmington (times ??)
Championship: 3/5 at Farmington
Quarterfinals: I think the top 4 seeds move on without any trouble. 1 Apple Valley over 8 Sibley, 2 CDH over 7 Park, 3 East Ridge over 6 Eagan and 4 Eastview over 5 Rosemount are all games I don't see being close.
Semifinals: That leads to a pair of 3rd meetings between conference foes. CDH got East Ridge twice during the regular season, I just don't see East Ridge having enough to get over the top in this one. As to the Apple Valley vs Eastview matchup, that is very interesting. Eastview shot the lights out at home to pull the upset on Apple Valley a couple of weeks ago. That would hopefully keep Apple Valley from looking ahead to a rematch. Eastview hangs around before Apple Valley wins.
Final: Now one of the huge AAAA section final games. #2 Apple Valley looking for revenge after last year's classic CDH Double OT win. But #4 CDH has all their stars back and there's no Tyus Jones this year. CDH is super hot right now losing only once in over 2 months. I picked CDH at the start of the season, I can't change that pick now. Jordan Ammons and Chris Perry on Gary Trent gives CDH a defensive option to watch. Expect another high scoring classic.
Semifinals: 2/28 at East Ridge (5:30 PM and 7:30 PM)
Championship: 3/5 at East Ridge
1 Roseville blows out 8 North, 2 Stillwater handles 7 Woodbury, 3 Mahtomedi on upset alert vs 6 White Bear Lake. White Bear Lake beat Mahtomedi in the season opener of neighbors. But this game is at Mahtomedi and if the Zephyrs hold down Andy Lockwood (and I think they will) I think they have too much to be upset again. Expect 4 Mounds View to show some box and 1 vs Jordan Horn and 5 Tartan. I see Mounds View throwing a bunch of role guys at Horn to try and wear him down. Tartan will have to find an answer for Ryan Kaczynski. Mounds View is at home and deeper, I'll take the Mustangs in a tight one at home. Expect some fun tactical maneuvering in that one.
Semifinals: Roseville got Mounds View twice in the regular season. Roseville too much firepower and they move on. Mahtomedi just beat Stillwater on the road. I expect a very tight game here. Mahtomedi got great output from their guards in the win and Anderson/Mckinley were held to a combined 11. I don't see that happening again. Give me the Ponies.
Final: Roseville beat Stillwater twice but by a combined 5 points. Stillwater's physical style is a bit of Kryponite to Roseville's play. Connor Gamble (who played with Kobe Critchley this summer so familiarity breeds contempt) will need to come up big. Stillwater will have to hold down Mitch Poss who's become a knockdown shooter. Stillwater has knocked Roseville out of the playoffs the last 2 years. This is the year Roseville built their program for but I'll go with the old "Its hard to beat a team 3 times" saying here. Give me Stillwater.
Semifinals: 3/3 at Rogers (6 PM and 8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Rogers
Quarterfinals:1 Champlin Park vs 8 Robbinsdale Cooper, 2 Maple Grove vs 7 Irondale, 3 Wayzata vs 6 Park Center. I expect blowouts in all 3 of those. 5 Osseo won at 4 Centennial in their regular season meeting in mid-January. Coin flip this one as Osseo has lost 3 in a row, Centennial has won 4 in a row coming in. Centennial moves on.
Semifinals: Champlin Park beat Centennial twice by 20+, I don't see any problem for the Rebels in advancing. Wayzata vs Maple Grove should be oustanding. Wayzata gave up an 11 point lead late at Maple Grove a month ago. That was until Brad Davison took over. Wayzata truckload of shooters in their 4 out look really puts Maple Grove's desired 3 out look in a quandry. Maple Grove will really need to pound that inside matchup of their 2nd big vs a Wayzata guard. I'll take Wayzata in this one.
Final: I like Champlin Park to move on in the final. JT Gibson has been too good. Theo John makes an impact inside and the rest of the base lineup is too good against the rest of the opponent's lineup. The game stays close for a while before Champlin Park pulls away.
Semifinals: 2/28 at Highest Seed (1 PM and 3 PM)
Championship: 3/4 at Cooper
Quarterfinals: Much like section 5, the top 3 seeds move on in blowouts and the 4 vs 5 game is very good. 1 Eden Prairie over 8 Mpls SW, 2 Hopkins over St. Louis Park and 3 Minnetonka over 6 Minneapolis South. 4 Edina vs 5 Armstrong is the top 4 vs 5 game out there. Nothing like being in a tough section where winning 20 games doesn't get you a home game. Walt McGrory/Ben Boone/Will Moreton vs Jerome Dixon/Jubie Alade/Evan Nolan is a nice perimeter duel. I see Edina not having a good matchup for Sean Burns. Armstrong's quickness is a problem so I think they get the close road win
Semifinals: 1 Eden Prairie with too many weapons for 5 Armstrong. 2 Hopkins gets revenge for last weeks' home loss to archrival 3 Minnetonka. I think Hopkins will defend better and move on.
Final: This is another classic final with #6 EP taking on #7 Hopkins. I see Hopkins also motivated for not closing out the conference title at EP on Friday. Give me Hopkins to advance in a high quality game.
Semifinals: 3/3 at North Branch (6 PM and 8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at North Branch
This section has the potential to be very wide open. But I see chalk. St. Francis no problem with Coon Rapids. Blaine gets the home win over Duluth East. Andover gets their rival Anoka in round 1 and Forest Lake gets another win over Cambridge-Isanti. St. Francis will apply too much pressure to Blaine's guards and move on. Andover will take out Forest Lake. St. Francis defeated Andover by 15 in the regular season. I think the Saints get another win and move on to state.
Semifinals: 2/28 at St Cloud State (2 PM and 3:30 PM)
Championship: 3/5 at Neutral Site
Top 2 seeds STMA and Moorhead move on in big fashion in round 1. Rogers takes out Brainerd at home again in the 3 vs 6 game. Elk River vs Buffalo is a rematch with Elk River getting the home game thanks to the head-head 40-34 home win in the season opener. I'll take Elk River in a low scoring close game. 1st one to 45 wins. STMA too much size and they'll take out the winner in round 2. Rogers lost by 16 at Moorhead in the regular season. I think the 2 vs 3 rematch is closer but Moorhead moves on with too much Cody Dorow. STMA beat Moorhead by 11 at STMA in early December. But after winning 13 in a row, STMA has lost 2 in a row coming into the tourney. Cody Dorow scored 26 in the 1st meeting, he goes off again to carry the Spuds to state in a good game. Moorhead hasn't lost to a Minnesota opponent since their holiday tournament. 11 straight wins to close the season.