2016 Preseason Thoughts

Its finally time for the 2016-17 season to get underway with as late of a start as I can remember.  I took the opportunity over the preseason practice period to watch a couple of local jamborees along with a pair of trips in The Old Kingdom to watch real live games.  Here are some of the things that stuck out to me.

I won't go into all of the Wisconsin details but I did manage to see a couple of stars in big performances.  Wisconsin commit Tyler Herro went for 43 on opening night but also had 11 turnovers in a loss to the top Division 4 team in the state.  Cold night from 3 but was still fun to watch.  Then it was 44 points in the nightcap at UW-Milwaukee for Milwaukee Riverside's Terrence Lewis.  Lewis is an Iowa State commit ranked in the Rivals top 150.  Riverside is ranked #1 in Wisconsin's top class.  Woodbury plays them at the Midwest Players Classic in La Crosse in January and then 2 weeks later the Tigers play at Apple Valley in the Border Battle.  Definitely going to miss the Lewis vs Trent matchup.  But don't sleep on the Tre Jones vs Carlos Curtis battle in that game.  Riverside got beat up in a pair of Minnesota matchups last year, we'll see how they fare this year.

As to the local jamborees, I took in the CDH jamboree last week end and the Spring Lake Park jamboree tonight.  Bullet point thoughts on those.

  • De La Salle, Osseo and Mounds View put together some vacuum packed defense but in different fashions.  De La Salle's half court switching took Apple Valley out of their pick and roll game.  Osseo's full court run and jump and scrambling in the half court totally blew up anything St. Francis wanted to do.  Mounds View packed it in and Coon Rapids couldn't throw it in the ocean against that.  If only Forest Lake would have done the same with some 1-3-1 zone I could complete the list of defenses.
  • Apple Valley played without injured Luke Martens in that jamboree.  But even then, the offensive load that Tre Jones is going to have to bear may be bigger than any year that Tyus had to carry them.
  • Brad Davison was back for the 2nd jamboree for Maple Grove.  No shock that he was a huge difference maker.  But the fact that they played small and still seemed to be hugely dependent on Davison was a surprise.  With all of the other guys they have coming back, I thought they'd play better than they did without him.  It reminds me of 2 years ago and last year after Tywhon Pickford got hurt.  High PNR for Brad and get out of the way and nothing else.  We'll see if they can figure out the offensive flow they had early in the year last year.  Forest Lake gave them all they wanted until a late Davison jumper and steal put the game away.
  • It was easy to say on paper that Ryan Larson was a massive addition for CDH.  Seeing it in person definitely showed it was true.  His ballhandling, shooting and ability to really push the pace for an athletic squad makes them an entirely different team.
  • We've already mentioned Coon Rapids rough shooting night vs Mounds View.  However, they got plenty of reasonable looks out of their Swing Offense.  Add in a nice group of athletes and I think things look as good as they ever have for the Cardinals in the Mike Ogorek era.  Don't get me wrong, there's still a ton of work to be done as well.
  • Mounds View loses a ton and just reloads with a bunch of guys no one has heard of.  But they execute, play incredibly hard on defense and don't beat themselves.  Their style is so different and almost refreshing.  Its a win 40-37 type style that you just don't see today.

2016-17 Season in a Nutshell

The 2016-2017 Season Preview Series concludes its 6 week run with an overview of what and who you need to see and when and where you can find it.  This is a higher level preview for the more casual fan who doesn't eat, sleep and breathe hoops like many of us do.  So with that in mind, we distill the season down to some high points.  For a list of all of the detailed previews, click here.

Local Events to Watch
  • Dec 3 - Breakdown Girls Tipoff Classic at Hopkins (4 premier boys games)
  • Dec 9-10 - Johnson Winter Showcase
  • Dec 10 - Breakdown Boys Tipoff Classic at Hopkins
  • Dec 17 - Metro East vs Metro West Showdown at St. Thomas Academy
  • Dec 17 - Southside Showcase at Minnehaha
  • Jan 14 - Super 60 Showcase at Hopkins
  • Jan 16 - Dream Classic at Minneapolis Roosevelt and Minneapolis Washburn
  • Jan 16 - MLK Classic at Minneapolis Patrick Henry
  • Jan 28 - Border Battle at Apple Valley
  • Jan 28 - South Metro Hoop Fest at Trinity
  • Feb 18 - Community Clash at Hopkins
The Breakdown events in December are loaded so we won't go into detail on those.  Noteworthy that the boys event moves to Hopkins this year.  I'll miss seeing the Minnetonka fire marshal.  I love the new Metro East vs Metro West battle that St. Thomas Academy is hosting.  That is 5 games with Cooper vs Mahtomedi and Chaska vs North St. Paul highlighting the day.  The Super 60 Showcase in January has Maple Grove vs Hopkins as its feature game.   The Border Battle returns to the Minnesota side this year with Wisconsin commits Kobe King and Nate Reuvers matched up against each other.  Wisconsin bringing a ton of talent this year with Jordan McCabe (W Virginia), Terrence Lewis (Iowa State), 7 footer Owen Hamilton (N Illinois) and nationally ranked junior Joey Hauser.  The Community Clash is another Breakdown event late in the year.  2 highlight games there include Woodbury vs Hopkins and Iowa City West vs Cretin-Derham Hall.

Other Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at Apple Valley - Dec 13th
  • Lakeville North at Chaska - Dec 13th
  • Minneapolis North at Hopkins - Dec 17th 
  • Lakeville North at Woodbury - Dec 22nd
  • Orono vs Minneapolis Henry - Dec 22nd (at Hamline)
  • Monticello at Minnehaha - Dec 22nd
  • Champlin Park at Hopkins - Jan 26th
  • Caledonia at Minneapolis North - Jan 28th 
  • Sioux Falls Washington at Hopkins - Feb 3rd
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at De La Salle - Feb 11th
  • Delano at Minneapolis Henry - Feb 21st
  • De La Salle at Champlin Park - Feb 23rd
I didn't include conference games because those are covered in the conference previews.  Not to mention I wanted the list to be somewhat manageable.

Local Players to Watch
  • Brad Davison (Sr) - Maple Grove (Wisconsin) 
  • Ishmael El-Amin (Sr) - Hopkins (Ball State)
  • Theo John (Sr) - Champlin Park (Marquette)
  • Tre Jones (Jr) - Apple Valley
  • Goanar Mar (Sr)- De La Salle (George Mason)
  • Daniel Oturu (Jr) - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Nate Reuvers (Sr) - Lakeville North (Wisconsin)
  • Jericho Sims (Sr) - Cristo Rey (Texas)
  • Race Thompson (Jr) - Robbinsdale Armstrong
  • McKinley Wright (Sr) - Champlin Park (Dayton)
Local Teams Looking to Win It All
  • Apple Valley
  • Champlin Park
  • De La Salle
  • Hopkins
  • Lakeville North
  • Maple Grove
  • Minneapolis North  
  • Minnehaha Academy
Season Thoughts
Let's begin with the depth of class AAAA.  There's a group of about 5 schools (listed above) that are in that initial discussion.  But behind them, there's a long list of very good teams that could knock them off on any given night.  Teams like Tartan, Woodbury, Cretin-Derham Hall, Chaska, Rochester John Marshall (in no order) are just the start of a list of teams who will fight for a ranking during the year.  Considering that this 2017 class is as good as you'll see in Minnesota, its not surprising.

On the other hand in AAA, De La Salle is the favorite again.  But like last year, the road to the title goes thru their section.  Orono, Delano and Minneapolis Henry are all high level teams stuck in the same section.  Minnehaha appears poised to make a run in AA.  Minneapolis North should be able to make a run to defend their title in class A.

With Duke commit Gary Trent choosing to attend Prolific Prep in California rather than stay at Apple Valley, that makes the Mr. Basketball race as open as I've seen it in a while.  Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers, McKinley Wright are players that I find hard to imagine not being there at the end.  Will Simon Wright and Ishmael El-Amin split votes at Hopkins.  Will Wright take votes away from Theo John?  Goanar Mar could be a 4 time AAA champion, will that sway the committee?  How much will Jericho Sims and Trae Berhow have to do in AA to make the list?  Down in class A, Bryce Irsfeld, Chase Grinde and Isaac Johnson may lead their teams to state.  Does that carry any weight?

Last year, in this same preview setting, I lamented the fact that young coaches weren't getting a chance.  So I'm obligated to say that we saw a change in that this year.  Loyal readers John Carrier (Sibley) and Chris Hopkins (St. Agnes) waited their time and now have a well-deserved chance to run a program.  Trevor Davis came home from the college ranks to take the Hill-Murray job.  Farmington, Holy Angels and Bloomington Kennedy promoted assistants rather than take a "name value" candidate.  Let's hope that trend continues and we get more new blood into the game.

On the officiating side, 2 noteworthy rule changes.  Its a foul if you box out the shooter in the semi-circle before the ball hits the rim.  Pretty harsh but it protects the shooter.  Also, the time to replace a disqualified player (e.g. foul out) is now 15 seconds.  According to the case book, it can be a technical foul if the replacement player doesn't report to the table within that time.  Very different than today where coaches wait for the time to expire and then send in a sub.  But a technical foul is also a very harsh punishment.  Delay of Game (where if it was the 2nd it would be a T) seems more appropriate.

2016-17 Sections 7AAAA and 8AAAA Previews

This is the 25th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  This last section preview is of sections 7AAAA and 8AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 7AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Blaine

Predicted Seeding
  1. Blaine 
  2. Duluth East
  3. Forest Lake
  4. St. Francis
  5. Andover
  6. Cambridge-Isanti
  7. Coon Rapids
  8. Anoka
I like Blaine here despite losing some major pieces.  They still have size and guard play coming back.  Concordia-St. Paul commit Cody Carlson makes Duluth East a threat in this section.  The forward pulled Esko's 7'2" Adam Trapp away from the hoop for 34 points last year.  St. Francis has to replace a ton of experience.  I'll give Forest Lake the slight edge there.  A big season from Logan Rezac means Andover will also fight for that final home game.  Then its off to the bottom 3.  I'm projecting Cambridge-Isanti to take a step forward with most of their lineup back.  But they're looking ahead to next year.  Coon Rapids and Anoka continue to rebuild.

Sleeper: Forest Lake.  Their style is a tough one to play against.  Plus they have some pieces coming back form last year.

Section Winner: Duluth East.  Another open section where anything can happen.  I'll take the top player in the section to lead the way.  Coach Rhett McDonald has done a nice job rebuilding the program.  This is the year that the Greyhounds return to the big dance.

Section 8AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Maple Grove

Predicted Seeding
  1. Maple Grove
  2. St. Cloud Tech
  3. Brainerd
  4. Elk River
  5. Rogers
  6. St. Michael-Albertville
  7. Buffalo
  8. Moorhead
Maple Grove having Tywhon Pickford back from injury lessens the blow of of Reed Nikko's graduation.  He was a total difference maker for the Crimson when he played.  St. Cloud Tech returns their entire 9 man rotation and they add a very good PG, Cam Jackson, from Sauk Rapids-Rice.  Expect a big year from the Tigers with athletic forward Brevyn Spann-Ford leading a versatile crew.  Most of the rest of the section is down.  Elk River, Rogers and Brainerd have to replace significant pieces of their lineups.  Brainerd does have Michael Russell to build around though so I'll default them to 3.   That means the rivalry game between Elk River and Rogers in December could be for home court.  STMA, Buffalo and Moorhead all struggled last year.  Moorhead was the 8 seed with 4 wins last year and lost Matt Bye and most of their rotation.  That keeps them in the 8 slot with rivals STMA and Buffalo fighting for 6th

Sleeper: None.  Too big a drop from 1 and 2 down to the rest of the section.

Section Winner: Maple Grove.  Tech's depth might test the Crimson.  But too much Brad Davison and Tywhon Pickford keep them on the road to state.

2016-17 Section 6AAAA Preview

This is the 24th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  We continue our look at the class AAAA sections with a look at section 6AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 6AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Hopkins

Predicted Seeding
  1. Hopkins
  2. Wayzata
  3. St. Louis Park
  4. Robbinsdale Armstrong 
  5. Robbinsdale Cooper
  6. Minneapolis Washburn
  7. Minneapolis Southwest
  8. Minneapolis South
Hopkins is the clear favorite here with Simon Wright and Ishmael El-Amin leading the way.  After that its very interesting.  The next 4 teams I could see in any order.  Wayzata still has plenty of talent with Ryan Lindberg and Gavin Baumgartner.  St. Louis Park won 20 games the last time they had this much talent coming back so they expect to make a run.  Armstrong has Race Thompson who can take over most games.  Since they don't play each other in the regular season, I'm rooting for and picking the very underrated rivalry game to happen in the 1st round.  Armstrong will have their chance to make a case with games at St. Louis Park and hosting Wayzata.  Cooper also has plenty returning after winning 17 games.  Beijan Newbern looks to have a big season for the Hawks.  As usual its a tough go for the city squads in this section and this year is no different as they'll again take the last 3 seeds.

Sleeper: Robbinsdale Armstrong.  See above with Race Thompson.  Plus the Falcons have an experienced backcourt with DaVonte Said and Isaiah Rollins.  Coach Greg Miller known for having a trick or 2 up his sleeve with time to prepare as well.

Section Winner: Hopkins. Too deep and too talented.  I just don't see anybody else with the combination of firepower and defense to keep up.

2016-17 Section 5AAAA Preview

This is the 23rd preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  The final week of this 6 week series move along with a look at section 5AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 5AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Osseo

Predicted Seeding
  1. Champlin Park
  2. Osseo
  3. Park Center
  4. Centennial
  5. Mounds View
  6. Roseville 
  7. Irondale
  8. Spring Lake Park
Champlin Park is the clear favorite with most of their lineup coming back.  District rivals Osseo and Park Center will battle for the 2nd spot.  Neither is big, but they have plenty of quality perimeter play.  Centennial and Mounds View battle for the final home game.  Then its a down a notch to the bottom 3 who are all projected to struggle.

Sleeper: Mounds View.  They lose a ton but they proved last year that they'll play hard and work thru their main scoring option.  Don't underestimate their ability to pull an upset.

Section Winner: Champlin Park.  Too much talent there.  Osseo and Park Center can hang around though.  If Theo John stays out of foul trouble, he's too big of a difference maker here.

2016-17 Section 4AAAA Preview

This is the 22nd preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  Down the stretch we come.  Its the final week of this 6 week preview series.  This week we finish the remaining class AAAA sections and end the week with an overview of what to watch this season.  In this preview, its a look at section 4AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: North St. Paul 

Predicted Seeding
  1. Cretin-Derham Hall
  2. Woodbury
  3. Tartan
  4. North
  5. East Ridge
  6. St. Paul Central
  7. Stillwater
  8. White Bear Lake
This section is deep at the top.  The top 3 teams are all in that next group of teams behind the top tier of AAAA.  Any would be a very worthy representative.  North would like to make a case to be there as well.  CDH gets the nod over Woodbury but they could split the Suburban East.  Tartan wins the Metro East but because of all the AAA teams there, they'll drop behind the top 2.  North is definitely next.  The next 3 are a tossup.  Central will do well in the weak St. Paul City but they aren't at the level of the top 4 this year.  White Bear Lake is still rebuilding so they take the final spot.

Sleeper: North.  This is by default as the top 3 are considered very good.  The Polars have some losses to replace but have a nice group of perimeter players coming back.  They won't be an easy out.

Section Winner: Cretin-Derham Hall.  They have all the pieces with Ryan Larson filling a huge void at point guard.  There are fast and athletic plus have a dominant inside piece in Daniel Oturu.

2016-17 Sections 1 and 3AAAA Preview

This is the 21st preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  We continue our look at class AAAA with a look at section 3AAAA plus the local teams in section 1AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 3AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Apple Valley  

Predicted Seeding
  1. Apple Valley
  2. Eastview
  3. Rosemount
  4. Hastings
  5. Burnsville
  6. Eagan
  7. Henry Sibley
  8. Park
Its another down year for what is normally a strong South Suburban Conference based section.  Despite losing basically everyone except Tre Jones, Apple Valley is still the clear favorite.  The junior class plays well together and they'll be there in the end.  Eastview is the clear best of the rest with their perimeter duo of Jameson Bryan and Mason Carpenter.  Rosemount slots in next with the Loehr twins inside.  Hastings by default is next.  Their non-conference games vs the South Suburban will bring clarity to their seed.  Then the bottom 4 are all rebuilding.  Sibley plays Eagan and Park in non-conference road games in December.  Those could move their seed up or down.

Sleeper: Rosemount.  The Loehr twins give the Irish an inside dimension not seen elsewhere in this section.  If they can get enough guard play, they could be dangerous here.

Section Winner: Apple Valley. Too much Tre Jones here.  But this isn't the juggernaut Eagles team of years past.  A rivalry game vs Eastview is always tough especially for the 3rd time in a season with a state trip at stake.

Section 1AAAA
3 South Suburban teams battle 4 teams from the Big 9 and New Prague (Wright County) in this section.  Lakeville North is once again on the early list of possible state champions.  Rochester John Marshall is in that next group of teams in class AAAA.  They remain the main roadblock.  Lakeville North has been kryponite to JM by beating them in the last 4 section finals.  The dynamite matchup of star sophomore Michael Hurt vs Wisconsin commit Nate Reuvers makes this likely section final in Rochester a must see event.  Don't sleep on Lakeville South here as they can score it with anybody.  New Prague will not be an easy out either with Zach Hanson anchoring the frontline.  Farmington with a new coach and a youth movement is rebuilding so I see a 1st round exit there.

2016-17 Section 2AAAA Preview

This is the 20th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  After an election off day, we move on to all the sections in class AAAA.  This starts with a look at section 2AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 2AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Eden Prairie

Predicted Seeding
  1. Chaska
  2. Eden Prairie
  3. Bloomington Jefferson
  4. Edina
  5. Prior Lake
  6. Shakopee
  7. Minnetonka
  8. Chanhassen
Its another solid year in section 2AAAA.  Chaska is the favorite here but will be tested.  The race for the 2 seed should be a good one.  Eden Prairie has plenty of guard firepower.  Jefferson will battle Chaska for the top spot in the Metro West.  Edina and Prior Lake make one of the best projected 4 vs 5 seed games out there.  Plenty of firepower on both of those squads.  Then its a notch lower to the bottom 3.  All are putting pieces back together.  Chanhassen could easily jump out of the last spot.

Sleeper: Prior Lake. They will be battle tested in the South Suburban and have a solid leader in Brian Sitzmann.  Their battle with Edina for the 4 seed will be one to watch.  Both will take lumps vs tough leagues but that will make them tougher outs come playoff time.

Section Winner: Chaska.  I think they get a run from Eden Prairie here.  But come playoff time its a battle of defense.  Once again its an usual year for EP as they are offensive minded with a bunch of guards.  Chaska is too sound defensively against that.  Add in a go-to guy in Myles Hanson and they are the pick.

2016-17 Section 6AAA Preview

This is the 19th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  Week 5 of the 6 week series moves along with a glance at the final metro area section in class AAA, section 6AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 6AAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: DeLaSalle

Predicted Seeding
  1. DeLaSalle
  2. Delano 
  3. Orono
  4. Minneapolis Henry
  5. Benilde-St. Margaret's 
  6. Waconia
  7. Mound-Westonka
  8. Blake
Once again the state AAA title goes through section 6.  It wouldn't be out of the question to see the top 4 teams here all ranked in the top 5 either together or separately during the season.  The 5 time defending state champs DeLaSalle Islanders still have to be the favorite.  Anything could happen behind them.  Delano loses center Matt Kreklow but they still have a dynamic backcourt in Calvin Wishart and Derek Techum.  Orono adds Tartan transfer Jarvis Thomas to fill the middle (replacing Sam Sustacek) and go with their bevy of shooters.  Henry has a truckload coming back as well.  I took the Wright County East teams because that league is so strong.  However, Henry can settle it on the court as they play Orono in the Hamline classic before Christmas and host Delano right before the end of the season.

Below those top 4, Waconia and Benilde-St. Margaret's should battle for the next 2 spots.  Both have a ton to replace.  Waconia loses 5 of their top 6 scorers.  But they do have a strong junior class to work with.  That includes starting PG Charlie Gove and forward Nick Fulford.  Benilde-St. Margaret's loses a pair of 17+ PPG guys but have more coming back than Waconia.  Mound-Westonka beats Blake early in the year to take the 7 seed.

Sleeper: There are no sleepers in this section.  You have 4 of the best teams in AAA plus 2 more that are traditionally strong and will plug in pieces to have quality seasons.

Section Winner: DeLaSalle.  No way I'm picking against the champs despite it being the toughest road yet.  Tyrell Terry will step right in at point. Stars Goanar Mar and Gabe Kalscheur will once again lead the way.

2016-17 Section 4AAA Preview

This is the 18th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  We move to week 5 of this 6 week series.  We start with the 1st of 2 remaining metro sections in class AAA before moving to all of the class AAAA sections.  In this preview, a look at section 4AAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4AAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Fridley

Predicted Seeding
  1. Mahtomedi 
  2. Columbia Heights
  3. Totino-Grace
  4. St. Anthony
  5. St. Paul Johnson
  6. Fridley
  7. St. Paul Como Park
  8. Hill-Murray
This section is a surprisingly deep one.  Johnson is a traditional powerhouse here and could win the St. Paul City.  But the Governors and the rest of the St. Paul City are down and I see them not getting a home game.  Their battle with St. Anthony for that last home game should be interesting as St. Anthony has another cupcake non-conference schedule.  Johnson on the other hand has their usually tough non-conference schedule.  Section games for St. Anthony vs Columbia Heights and on the road at Mahtomedi, both in February, will loom large for seeding.  Willie Braziel has already done it once at Heights and he has a talented group of juniors to work with.  Their game with Mahtomedi right after New Years could determine the top seed.  Totino-Grace will be battle tested by the tough Northwest Suburban West Division and they are as talented as anybody in the section.  That will knock down their seed.  The bottom 3 drop off dramatically.  Fridley has to replace lots of talent.  Como Park and Hill-Murray are in rebuild mode.

Sleeper: St. Paul Johnson.  Painful to say this about the Govs but in this section its true.  Their JV squad won the city last year so there are some guys who could step up and make them a tough out after a season of experience.

Section Winner: Totino-Grace.  They have a go to guy in the front court in Rocky Kreuser, plus a quality backcourt that has experience.  Columbia Heights in the 1st year of a new (although familiar) coach and young is too much to ask.  Mahtomedi burned me last year so while they have as good a chance as anyone, I can't pick them again.  But I would love to see a Rocky Kreuser vs Parker Fox matchup for a section title.

2016-17 Section 3AAA Preview

This is the 17th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  In this preview, I start my look at the local AAA sections with section 3AAA.  Then its an off day before resuming with section 4AAA next week.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 3AAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Simley

Predicted Seeding
  1. Highland Park
  2. St. Thomas Academy
  3. Simley
  4. Holy Angels
  5. Richfield
  6. Kennedy
  7. Harding
  8. South St. Paul
Once again section 3AAA is the weakest section that I'll preview.  Simley won the section last year and that win got them to 14-14.  This year I again see the top of the section struggling to be break even.  Highland Park's lack of size could be problematic but their guards have the ability to harass other guards in the section.  The next 3 are all very close to the top as well.  Richfield should be a level better than the bottom 3.

Sleeper: Holy Angels.  Sam Boehne and Ryan Mazurek make a nice inside-out duo that in a weak section is enough to make a run.

Section Winner: Holy Angels. Its the most wide open section that I follow.  I think any of the top 4 could win it.  Last year the 5 seed won twice and the 2 seed went out in the semis.  That means we go off the conventional path and pick somebody else.  There's enough talent there to do it and all the games are a coin flip.

2016-17 Section 5AA East Preview

This is the 16th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at the east subsection of section 5AA.  The overall section expands to 19 teams but I'm projecting Heritage/Wellstone to not play the tournament series.  I'll put 9 in the east and 9 in the west for balance.  That includes Holy Family moving to the west subsection for sake of this preview.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 5AA East Subsection (9 teams)
Defending Champion: Breck

Predicted Seeding
  1. Brooklyn Center
  2. Breck
  3. Southwest Christian
  4. Providence
  5. Spectrum
  6. PACT
  7. Minneapolis Edison
  8. International School
  9. FAIR
  10. Heritage/Wellstone (if they play)
This section is top heavy with Brooklyn Center and Breck looking to rematch in the subsection final again.  Southwest Christian is the clear best of the rest despite losing star Jack Jenson.  The rest of the section is a major dropoff.  Providence has a bunch of guys to replace.  Spectrum and PACT were my last 2 picks in the MCAA, Edison and FAIR are at the bottom of the Minneapolis City and International School lost a 20/10 player of the year guy.

Sleeper: None.  Too big a drop off below the top 3 to make a run.

Section Winner: Brooklyn Center.  They may a run to the subsection final last year.  Most of those pieces are returning.  I think they're deeper than Breck and with the 2 bigs graduating, the guard advantage goes to the Centaurs.  I'll take them to get revenge on the Mustangs in this year's subsection final game.

2016-17 Section 4AA Preview

This is the 15th preview in my 2016-2017 season preview series.  In this preview, a look at section 4AA. For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 4AA (18 teams)
Defending Champion: St. Croix Lutheran (State 3rd Place)

Predicted Seeding
  1. Minnehaha  
  2. New Life Academy 
  3. St. Croix Lutheran
  4. Minneapolis Roosevelt  
  5. St. Paul Washington 
  6. St. Paul Academy    
  7. St. Croix Prep  
  8. Math and Science 
  9. St. Paul Prep   
  10. St. Agnes 
  11. Trinity
  12. St. Paul Humboldt
  13. Charter Stars
  14. Concordia Academy
  15. Mounds Park Academy   
  16. AFSA
  17. Hmong Academy 
  18. Hiawatha Collegiate
The double-digit portion of this section is going to be weak.  Once again the divisional format of the TCAC will cause havoc with the seedings but I decided to reward Math and Science and St. Paul Prep as division winners.  Charter Stars get the tough end of the stick by being in the top division of the TCAC.  Minnehaha is the clear favorite with all their star power returning.  New Life and St. Croix Lutheran have significant losses but will still be very solid.  Those 3 teams will play a round robin against each other during the season.  The city teams will be battle tested enough to fit into the next slots.  Then 1 more group of teams all in the same range before dropping off to the double digit seeds.

Sleeper: St. Paul Washington.  Curtis Bell is a high scoring wing that could carry the Eagles a long way.

Section Winner: Minnehaha Academy. The rest of the section dropped off and they remain basically the same.  Too much Suggs and Bickham here.