2018 State Tourney Preview

Its state tournament time and thankfully no blizzard in the forecast.  Here is what catches my eye.

Class A
Bracket (1st round at Williams Arena on Thursday)
Mahnomen/Waubun vs 1 Mayer Lutheran
5 Hinckley-Finlayson vs 4 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton
Heritage Christian vs 2 North Woods
Rushford-Peterson vs 3 Cass Lake-Bena

Beware of underdog team: Rushford-Peterson
I love the draw for Rushford-Peterson here.  They are 23-7 with 3 1 point losses against bigger school schedule.  North Woods and Cass Lake-Bena have beaten up on many weak teams up north.  In my bold predictions in the Breakdown book at the start of the year I said an unseeded team would make the final in class A.  Rushford-Peterson is that team.

Mayer Lutheran has all the pieces of size and shooting.  They've won 20 in a row and their losses are all to big schools.  That includes AA state opponents Minnehaha and Jordan. Hinckley-Finlayson is experienced.  They lost to AA Virginia by 3 at Virginia while North Woods at home beat Virginia by 3.  RTR is from the always tough section 3 with a record of 30-1 so expect that to be a terrific 4 vs 5 game and the winner can give Mayer Lutheran a run.  In the end, I take Mayer Lutheran over Rushford-Peterson for the title.

Class AA
Bracket (top half qtrs at Target Center, bottom half at Williams Arena on Wednesday night)
Jordan vs 1 Minnehaha
5 St. Cloud Cathedral vs 4 Esko
Breckenridge vs 2 Brooklyn Center
Minnewaska vs 3 Caledonia

Minnehaha's road opened up when Minneapolis North collapsed in the section 5AA final.  I saw Jordan lose to Minneapolis South on MLK day, quickness was a problem then and will be a problem here.  The state tourney lights will be on so I expect Jalen Suggs to raise his game to a championship level.  Esko is always dangerous with 7'3" Adam Trapp in the middle.  But Cathedral is making a return trip with a pair of stars in Michael Schaefer and Mitch Plombom.  If they get a lead, Esko can't leave Trapp in the middle of a zone.

Noah Christensen has been fantastic for Breckenridge.  They took out undefeated Perham in the section final so don't sleep on the Cowboys.  Brooklyn Center doesn't like to defend but they'll find a way to survive round 1.  That won't be the case in the semis.  The King clan has been fantastic, including Mr Basketball finalist, Owen King.  The Warriors will be motivated for another shot at Minnehaha and I think they get it.  Caledonia let Minnehaha get a 16 point lead last month before losing by 4.  Owen King was huge in that game despite some foul trouble.  I think they keep it interesting.  Minnehaha wins their 2nd straight AA title.  The wildcard for the Redhawks is Terry Lockett.  He's been out with an injury.  If he doesn't play, that means the already thin bench gets thinner and Jalen Suggs handles the ball much much more.

Class AAA
Bracket (1st round at Williams Arena on Wednesday)
Hermantown vs 1 De La Salle
5 St. Thomas Academy vs 4 Columbia Heights
Sauk Rapids-Rice vs 2 Austin
Delano vs 3 Mankato East

Beware of underdog team: Delano
Mr Basketball finalist Calvin Wishart leads a very talented roster that has also has a shooter/handler in Derek Techam and a very solid man in the middle in Keegan O'Neill.  They can spread the floor and can score a bunch of points.  Their lack of depth and Mankato East's athletic size present a big challenge in round 1.  Austin and De La Salle no problems in round 1.  Columbia Heights will probably use the 4 seed as motivation.  I like the draw against a St. Thomas Academy team that will have a tough time matching up athletically.  But Columbia Heights isn't deep and St. Thomas Academy can hit enough shots to win.  De La Salle and Austin move on to the final and the curse and streak continue.  De La Salle wins #7 in a row.

Class AAAA
Bracket (1st round at Target Center on Wednesday)
Wayzata vs 1 Cretin-Derham Hall
5 Osseo vs 4 Eden Prairie
Forest Lake vs 2 Apple Valley
Maple Grove vs 3 Lakeville North

Beware of underdog team: Wayzata
Wayzata got a great draw.  They just knocked off a team with bigs in Hopkins in the 6AAAA final.  With their ball and player movement, this is the draw that CDH didn't want.  Not to mention, CDH would be looking at EP (who beat them) and Apple Valley after that.  That's as tough a road as you could have created for the 1 seed.  Jacob Beeninga is tough as nails physically and competitively to will his team to wins.  They went small in the section final taking Tanner Jonas off the floor which would force Daniel Oturu to defend away from the rim.  Does CDH dare play 1-3-1 against the shooting potential.  Shooting teams are great but the big building is a great equalizer.  If Wayzata advances, they split with Eden Prairie in the regular season and Osseo is banged up right now.

But don't discount how Osseo is defending right now.  Plus Emmette Page has been fantastic all year getting buckets.  They'll need every bucket with forward Anthony Williams out and guard Zach Theisen hobbled.  Eden Prairie too sound and too balanced.  Expect a fairly low scoring game with Eden Prairie moving on.  Apple Valley will find a way to contain Manny Jingco and move on.  Lakeville North too deep and too good defensively, they'll move on over Maple Grove.

That sets up the top 4 seeds by my picks for a couple of terrific semifinals.  Eden Prairie beat CDH at the buzzer at the end of the year.  I think they do it again by getting Oturu and Sy Chatman away from the basket with pick and roll.  That's been the magic potion against the Raiders all year.  CDH has gotten away with Sy Chatman away from the rim defensively (he's a center by trade and still learning perimeter defense where he often gets lost), it bit them in the last meeting and will do so again here.  Apple Valley won the rematch with Apple Valley with Luke Martens back in the lineup.  I won't bet against Tre Jones after what he did last year.  He leads them to the title with 2 big games in the semis and championship.

1 comment:

  1. Rtr never gets the respect from the metro. Rtr and Minneota was for the state championship.

    ReplyDelete

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