Its time for 2016 section predictions. Last year was a good year as I ended up +2 against picking chalk (all high seeds). We'll see how we do this season.
I have no idea how Prairie Seeds got the 2 seed here. There was no head to head with Heritage and they lost to CHOF head to head. Everything pointed to them getting the 4 seed.
Pigtails: 1st rule of 4A pigtails, take chalk. Only interesting one here is Learning for Leadership hosting Groves. Groves lost 2 close ones in the regular season to the Mustangs.
Round of 16: Blowout city here for the top 6 seeds. Maranatha vs Legacy in the 7/10 game saw MCA win at Legacy by 16 in January. But Legacy returned the favor by 19 at MCA 2 weeks ago. MTS and Community of Peace in the 8 vs 9 game is a fun matchup of guards. No bigs there to get in the way. MTS has Charles Gordon back. I'll call that the difference and take chalk in this round.
Quarters: I'll take North, Prairie Seeds and CHOF. The 3 vs 6 game Heritage vs Cristo Rey sticks out. Heritage won the regular season meeting by 15 at the Colin Powell Center. But they've fallen on hard times lately, including a head scratching loss to MTS. They've been banged up. Jericho Sims is a major X factor here. I'll take chalk here.
Semis: North rolls against CHOF. Prairie Seeds and Heritage very interesting. Brian Robinson will be a handful for Heritage to deal with. But Prairie Seeds doesn't have great size to hurt Heritage with. Heritage survives
Final: North steamrolls and overcomes another hurdle from the last 2 years by making state.
Round of 16: Lots of blowouts here. I'll take 1 upset and that's St. Agnes at 9 over #8 Math and Science
Quarters: The top 3 seeds have no trouble. I'll take 5 seed New Life Academy over 4 St. Paul Academy. New Life lost the regular season meeting but with no Kent Hanson that changes the equation. 2 bad losses to end the regular season for SPA after beating Breck.
Semis: St Croix Lutheran no problem with New Life. Minnehaha takes out Roosevelt.
Final: A great rematch of the 2nd game of the season that SCL won 96-83 at home. Ade Murkey went off for 38 in that one. Minnehaha doesn't have a good matchup for him. Key person here is Aage Rovney. If he stays out of foul trouble and keeps the ship steady, SCL wins again. I'll take the defending champs again.
Section 5AA East
I'll only do the east half here. Take the high seeds in the pigtails. Then Zach Knollenberg might keep it interesting for Spectrum vs Providence but take Providence here. Brooklyn Center will be slowed down but not stopped by the Providence 2-3 zone. Breck's size too much for SW Christian. Ditto that for Breck being too big for Brooklyn Center in the final.
A very wide open section here. Even the 1 vs 8 game with Highland Park taking on Kennedy. Markel Aune vs Highland Park's guards will be fun. Kennedy is winless but has played better recently. Sam Boehne vs Nate Chaffee makes for a nice inside battle in the 4 vs 5 St. Thomas Academy at Holy Angels game. Simley should have no trouble with Harding, ditto that for Richfield with S St. Paul. Highland Park will force enough turnovers to beat Kennedy. St. Thomas Academy has been much better recently and I'll take them on the road. Highland Park takes down the Cadets in the semis. Richfield beat Simley in the regular season and I think the rematch is very tight. I'll take Jack Stensgard to come up big and put Simley in the final. Stensgard missed the regular season meeting with Highland Park. I'll take him again to put Simley in the state tourney.
Mahtomedi and Johnson no trouble in round 1. I like the middle 2 games here. St. Anthony with a chip on their shoulder for not getting a home game. Classic good record vs lower class and weak schedule (St. Anthony) vs lesser record vs tough higher class schedule (Totino-Grace) there. Columbia Heights and Fridley split the regular season series in the 3/6 game. Fridley won 27 at home and lost by 7 on the road. They have more firepower but have been so inconsistent. I'll take Fridley as the only upset. St. Anthony with no good answer for Rocky Kreuser in that game. Johnson and Mahtomedi make the final. I'll take Mahtomedi to advance via too much Parker Fox.
DLS and Delano no problems in round 1. Expect a very tight game between Orono and Waconia in the 3/6 matchup. Teams split close games with home wins during the regular season. I won't be against Barry Wohler in the post season. I'll be at the 4/5 game Henry at Benilde-St. Margaret's. Eli Cave vs Julian Jackson up front will be fun to watch. Henry has a group of guys to help counter Sam Baker. Give me Patrick Henry or give me death! I like De La Salle in the semi over Henry. Then I'll take Orono to beat Delano again in that semifinal. No way I'm betting against De La Salle in the section final.
I'll take chalk here. Its the year for JM to get it done and Kirk Thompson has been there. Love the Hurt brothers vs Carter Brooks and Nate Reuvers in the projected final. But I won't bet against John Oxton as he's been JM's kryptonite.
Another very tough and open section. Chaska folks might be unhappy with the 2 seed but I think it works for the better for Shakopee and Chaska. No way I want the rivalry game in round 1 if I'm Chaska (vs Chan) or Shakopee (vs Prior Lake). They both advance in round 1. Jefferson has to like their draw at Edina in the 3/6 game. They won there by 7 earlier this year. I picked against Edina last year at home in round 1 and was right. I'll go to the well again. Tonka vs Eden Prairie is a fantastic 4 vs 5 game. Its a matter of who makes more shots since neither teams likes to defend. EP won the regular season meeting at home by 23. I'll take the Eagles again. Jefferson got Chaska by 3 the last time they played but I'll take Chaska in a close one in this semifinal rubber match. Eden Prairie has no answer for Steffon Mitchell but only lost by 5 at Shakopee after the new year. Mitchell goes for 30+ but Eden Prairie holds down everybody else to win. Then I'll take Eden Prairie to avenge another regular season loss to Chaska in the final.
Picking this section because I have to. Apple Valley and Eastview make the final. Rosemount over Hastings in round 1. Eagan knocks off Park in round 1. Eastview and Eagan stumbling in to the tourney. Apple Valley easy trip to state after must see television in the section finals in recent years.
Woodbury and CDH no problems in round 1. Stillwater loses at Tartan, but Randy Jordan will have something for Jordan Horn. Wouldn't be shocked to hear about some box and 1 in that game. Woodbury. Woodbury advances to final over North St. Paul. Tartan takes out CDH in the semis. Great matchup of top soph posts Daniel Oturu and Jarvis Thomas in that one. Then I'll take Woodbury over Tartan in the final. Tartan's losses are vs guard oriented teams and that's what Woodbury is.
Osseo and Champlin Park no problems in round 1. Terrible draw for Centennial getting Mounds View in round 1. Mounds View moves on. Park Center knocks off Spring Lake Park at home. Osseo no problems with Park Center in the rivalry section game. Mounds View will grind it out vs Champlin Park in a game that I'll likely be at. I think Champlin Park has just enough at home to get through. Could see plenty of 1-3-1 both ways in that game. An Osseo vs Champlin Park rematch in the final would be very interesting. Kameron Bettie has 26 in the 1st meeting but 22 of those were with Theo John sitting due to foul trouble. If he stays on the floor, Champlin Park has a chance. But even then, Osseo is too deep. I like them to move on.
Hopkins and Wayzata move on with no trouble. I have absolutely no idea how Cooper got the 3 seed here. Worst schedule and the worst QRF plus a split and conference tie with St. Louis Park and a head to head loss to Armstrong. They get giant killer Minneapolis South in round 1 and I'll take South to pull the upset here. Armstrong won the head to head with St. Louis Park in the regular season. I'll take the Falcons to do it again. Hopkins and Wayzata meet in a classic section final. The teams split in the regular season. Expect a great game here and I'll take Hopkins to advance.
I'll take chalk all the way through this bracket. Too much size from Blaine.
I'll also take chalk here. Elk River handled Brainerd easily in the regular season. Maple Grove did the same to Elk River in their meeting. Maple Grove moves on.