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.

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