The Minnesota state boys high school tournament is exactly 4 weeks away, kicking off on Wednesday March 20 at Target Center and Williams Arena. Here's what might happen between now and then, and then.
First, who are the likely participants? Half of these are very hairy calls.
Section 1--Lakeville North gets the gift of assignment on an otherwise non-metro section. Why Lakeville North goes south and Lakeville South goes north is anybody's guess, but that's what it is. So Lakeville North 18-4, #9 QRF is a virtual shoo-in. Rochester John Marshall 17-5 #28 is next but Lakeville has won all 3 games with section foes by an average of 74-51.
Section 2--Eden Prairie 16-6 #7 is favored but Prior Lake 16-6 #14 and Jon Sobaski is a possibility. But EP won an early-season meeting between the 2 54-45.
Section 3--You can pencil in (no, on second thought, go ahead and use ink) Apple Valley 21-1 #1. As if having Tyus Jones isn't enough, the Eagles showed that they can win without him when he was out earlier this year with a back injury. Not that they'll have to (win without him), but his supporting talent is darn good.
Section 4--Woodbury 19-3 #4 is a slight favorite over Roseville 17-5 #5, with Tartan 19-3 #16 lurking. But the QRF reflects Tartan's weaker schedule, but a weaker schedule doesn't necessarily translate into a weaker team. I kinda like Tartan but this 1 is wide open.
Section 5--Wow. Osseo 20-2 #2 and Park Center 20-2 #3 will square off for this 1. A shame 1 will miss the big dance. They split 2 regular season meetings. Osseo is the defending state champ.
Section 6--Hopkins 18-4 #6 is the favorite but Edina 15-7 #8 is 3-1 in the section to Hopkins' (and Minnetonka's) 3-2. The Hornets started out 0-4 and 4-5 but are 12-2 since, including an OT win over the Royals. Graham Woodward has been one of Minnesota's best players the past month.
Section 7--Forest Lake's 3-point bombers are rated 1st despite an 8-14 record. Down section. I guess I'll hold out for a rep with a winning record. St. Francis 13-9 #47 would be that team.
Section 8--Wide open. Brainerd 20-1 #17 is the top-rated team in the section. They're also 8-1 in the section. Moorhead is 6-1 in the section. I kinda like Moorhead 13-7 #26. Brainerd and Moorhead split their season series.
They seed 1 through 5, then there's a random draw.
1. Apple Valley
3. Eden Prairie
4. Lakeville North
First Round March 20 Target Center
10 a.m.--Apple Valley vs. Moorhead. Tyus Jones and company in a walk.
Noon--Lakeville North vs. Edina. Edina is the hotter team right now.
2 p.m.--Osseo vs. St. Francis. No contest.
4 p.m.--Eden Prairie vs. Tartan. Possible upset here, I'll go with Tartan.
Semi-Finals and After
Apple Valley and Osseo win easily. Apple Valley beat Osseo 74-71 earlier this year, and they'll win again. Still, should be a great game. Edina beats Tartan for 3rd.
C- Ian Theisen, Osseo
PF- Khare Kirkland, Tartan
SF- Aaron Lien, Moorhead
PG- Tyus Jones, Apple Valley
SG- Graham Woodward, Edina