The final Minnesota Basketball News Top 10 poll will be very well represented at the Class 3A state basketball tournament starting on Wednesday at Williams Arena, as the top four teams and six of the top eight will be looking to raise the trophy on Saturday evening. Not only are the top four teams in the rankings in the tournament field, they’re the top four seeds in the tournament.
As was the case with the Class 4A tournament field, coaches from the eight teams that qualified for the state tournament got together on Saturday morning to discuss the participating teams and to determine which teams should receive the seeds. Per Minnesota State High School League rules, seeds are given to five teams in the tournament; the other three teams draw their quarterfinal opponents at random from the teams seeded 1-3. Seeds four and five play each other in the first round.
The following are the top four seeds in the Class 3A basketball tournament along with their quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
#1: DeLaSalle (26-1)
Last year, the Islanders won their sixth state basketball championship in the most exciting way possible, hitting a buzzer-beating jump shot to edge Minneapolis Washburn 57-56 in overtime. Since that victory the Islanders have been outstanding, winning 26 of their 27 games this season. The lone loss was to Blue Valley Northwest of Kansas, a team that just won the Kansas large-school championship and finished the season ranked #22 in the USA Today Super 25. They won the Tri-Metro Conference regular season title, the tournament title and the Section 3AAA title, defeating Spring Lake Park 71-61 in that section title game.
They’ll take on Sartell-St. Stephen, the champions of Section 8AAA, who are making their first appearance at the state tournament. The Sabres survived a couple tight games in the section tournament, defeating Thief River Falls 50-46 in the semifinals and Fergus Falls 57-55 in the championship. The Sabres finished in a tie for second place in the Central Lakes Conference behind 4A tournament participant Brainerd and bring a 17-12 record to the state tournament.
DeLaSalle and Sartell-St. Stephen open up the 3A tournament with a 10am tip on Wednesday at Williams Arena.
#2: Austin (28-0)
The only undefeated team in Class 3A, Austin is making their second straight appearance at state and their 28th overall. They’ve got three championships but they’re looking for their first title since 1958. The Packers rolled through the Big 9 Conference but were challenged twice in the Section 1AAA playoffs, getting by conference foe Winona 51-49 in the semifinals and by Red Wing in overtime in the championship game.
Austin will take on the Blake Bears, the #7 team in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll. Blake survived a tough Section 6AAA playoff which saw them need overtime to edge Richfield in the semifinals before gutting out a 47-41 win over Holy Family in the finals to earn their first trip to the state tournament.
Austin and Blake will play the third quarterfinal of the day at Williams Arena; scheduled start time is 2pm.
#3: Marshall (27-2)
The Marshall Tigers have enjoyed a fantastic season, winning 27 of their 29 games and going undefeated in the Southwest Conference. They defeated fifth-ranked Waconia in the Section 2AAA championship game 56-48 to earn their ninth trip to the state tournament and their second in the last three years. Marshall’s looking to pick up their second state title; they won their lone championship in 1963.
They’ll play the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks who are making their sixth straight appearance at state and their 12th appearance overall. Their run through the Section 7AAA tournament was likely their most difficult in their six-year run of dominance, as they won their quarterfinal and semifinal games in overtime before defeating Cloquet 64-58 in the title game.
Marshall and Grand Rapids will play the last 3A quarterfinal at Williams Arena; tip-off is scheduled for 4pm.
#4: Delano (26-3)
The Tigers of Delano are making their second trip to the state tournament with their first trip coming 20 years ago in 1993. This year, the Tigers finished in a tie with Waconia for the championship of the Wright County East, then won their three Section 5AAA tournament games by double-digits.
They’ll take on the highly experienced Governors of St. Paul Johnson, who are making their fifth straight trip to state and their eighth in the last ten years. The Governors, winners of the 2010 title, come into the tournament playing their best ball of the season having won their last 11 games after a 10-7 start to their season. They won the St. Paul City Conference title plus the Twin Cities championship game, a game that pits the conference champions of the St. Paul and Minneapolis City conferences against each other. Johnson then rolled through the Section 4AAA tournament, winning their three games by an aggregate 81 points.
Delano and Johnson have the second quarterfinal at Williams Arena with scheduled tip time at 12pm.