Class B state tourney prognosticators

Posted on Aug. 21, 2014 by CJ Siewert 

Tomorrow marks the second weekend of state tournament action, but it’s the first round for the 16-team Class B tournament.

And since we previewed the Class C tourney with prognostications, it’s only fair we do the same for Class B.

We’ve done Class B rankings all season long and the final rankings were posted Aug. 4. But we got the committee back together for one last look at how the teams are shaping up for the Fall Classic.

In this last edition of Class B “rankings,” we split the 16-team bracket into two groups – the top and bottom halves. 

Within those two groups, we have four characteristics paired with the teams of our opinion.

• BLUE CHIPS: Best 1 or 2 teams in that group

• UNDER THE RADAR: 1 or 2 teams that haven’t received a lot of attention statewide, but could make a run

• UPSET ALERT: Section champ with the toughest possible matchup in its first game

• GUT FEELING: 1 team that could make it to the championship that may not be a blue chip, or there’s just that gut feeling about anything 

Here is a PDF of the complete bracket. 

Aaron Olson – Shakopee

Top half

• BLUE CHIP: Victoria

• UNDER THE RADAR: Elko – young team with a ton of talent

• UPSET ALERT: Austin Greyhounds – Burnsville has a pretty good team

• GUT FEELING: Blaine – has been good all year

Bottom half

• BLUE CHIPS: Moorhead and Cold Spring

• UNDER THE RADAR: Eagan

• UPSET ALERT: Eagan – tough matchup with Dundas right away

• Gut FEELING: Shakopee – have to go with my team as we have the talent to do it

Jamie Heipel – Blaine

Top half

• BLUE CHIPS: Victoria and Blaine

• UNDER THE RADAR: Austin Greyhounds and Elko

• UPSET ALERT: Isanti over Elko

• GUT FEELING: Isanti

Bottom half

• BLUE CHIPS: Cold Spring and Moorhead

• UNDER THE RADAR: Coon Rapids and Forest Lake 

• UPSET ALERT: Shakopee over Forest Lake

• GUT FEELING: Shakopee

Kelly McMonagle – Moorhead 

Overall comments: “I see the first weekend playing out with some great opening round matchups and will have to go with my semi-final picks for next Sunday of Victoria vs Blaine and Cold Spring vs Moorhead.” 

Top half

• BLUE CHIPS: Victoria and Blaine have both been Top 5 teams all year
• UNDER THE RADAR: Beaudreaus will have a full squad and Reese Gregory making them dangerous
• UPSET ALERT: Victoria (see above)
• GUT FEELING: The Elko Express have put together a great season dominating Section 1 throughout the regular season and playoffs

Bottom half

• BLUE CHIPS: Cold Spring and Moorhead ran through their Section tournaments and both have had excellent seasons
• UNDER THE RADAR: Dundas has some top level pitching and has played a tough schedule this year
• UPSET ALERT: Shakopee came out of the toughest Section as the #2 and has the talent and tourney pedigree
• GUT FEELING: Eagan made a good run last year and will look to get further this year with their collection of young talent

Matthew Marek – Champlin

Overall thoughts on the bracket:

“The lower half of the bracket is stacked! I think the first-round match-ups were indicative of how the season/rankings played out for the most part, but I really hate seeing Shakopee and Forest Lake having to go at it in the first round…equivalent of a 5-6 seed in the first round of a 16-team tournament. Thanks to JD Wells (Anoka) for pointing this out, but here’s how the road to the ‘Final Four’ was set-up, based on the last Class B poll. (top-to-bottom of bracket, NR = Not ranked)

1. (1, NR, NR, NR)

2. (4, 8, 16, NR)

3. (3, 9, 10, NR)

4. (2, 5, 6, NR)***Ouch!”

Top Half

• BLUE CHIP: Blaine and Victoria – This side really sets up nicely for a match-up of these two in the semifinals. Victoria has been #1 for most of the year, while Blaine added a couple of nice pieces before (and during!) the season to solidify things.

• UNDER THE RADAR: Beaudreaus – Beaudreaus jumps out at me because of one guy. Reese Gregory is back after leading the Northwoods League in strikeouts (kudos for getting him playoff eligible!) and will, in all likelihood, start game 1. If that’s what being the #1 team in the state for a majority of the season gets you, I’ll pass. 

• UPSET ALERT: Victoria (see above)

• GUT FEELING: Isanti and/or Elko – My head’s telling me no, but my gut is telling me yes. Isanti knows how to win in the postseason (2011 C Champs) and they have one of the most prolific sluggers in amateur ball history in Jake Maros. By the looks of it, Elko is losing some quality college guys for the tourney. However, if Elko gets past the Redbirds, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get by Blaine, too. 

Lower Half

• BLUE CHIPS: Cold Spring and Moorhead – Defending champs and a team that always seems to be there on Labor Day weekend.

• UNDER THE RADAR: Eagan – Started out a little slow (not THAT slow, though) but finished the season on a 19-3 tear. State semifinalists from last year, but didn’t get the respect of us voters by sticking in the lower part of the top 10 all year. We’re sorry guys.

Coon Rapids – Same can be said for these guys…a traditionally strong club, that finally came around towards the end of the year. Their prospects will ride on the offense, as they will have to win by hitting more than a couple of balls hard and not relying on opposing team’s defensive miscues (Sour grapes on my part? Yeah, most definitely.)

• UPSET ALERT: Shakopee – This wouldn’t be all that big of an upset, but since Shakopee has made some nice runs in recent years, and Forest Lake hasn’t been to the big dance since 2009, it may seem that way. These two teams are mirror images of each other, in my opinion. 

• GUT FEELING: Winner of Forest Lake and Shakopee – Whoever wins could very well mash their way to the title game. 

Eric Kraushar – Chaska

Top Half

• BLUE CHIP: Victoria

• UNDER THE RADAR: Elko, despite 36 wins this season, the most of any Class B team, has remained near the bottom of the top-10 rankings.

• UPSET ALERT: The Burnsville Bobcats have just nine wins in 25 games, but face Region 4 winner Austin Greyhounds, who is only one game above .500. Great chance for a section runner-up.

• GUT FEELING: Victoria. The 2012 champions have restocked its pitching staff with Nebraska-Omaha recruits Corey Binger and Riley Sweeney, and Creighton arm Rollie Lacy. Still have one of the best line-ups in the state, regardless of class.

Bottom Half

• BLUE CHIP: Cold Spring

• UNDER THE RADAR: Shakopee may be one of the five best teams in Class B right now, but comes into state as a region runner-up, losing to Victoria, snapping an eight-game winning streak.

• UPSET ALERT: Eagan wrapped up a spot out of Region 5 three weeks ago and has played just once since then. Could Dundas and its 27-win squad pull the upset against a rusty Bandits team?

• GUT FEELING: Moorhead. The Brewers outscored three Region 6 opponents 37-0 last weekend. A sign they are playing their best ball at the right time of the season.

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