Important games can again be found inside the 3A boys’ basketball schedule this week and results could easily change the outlook of the projected state tournament bracket.  For now, our projections remain consistent with past weeks.  The only change this week in our list of automatic qualifiers can be found on the Western Slope as we’ve moved Roaring Fork ahead of Grand Valley and into the second spot behind Coal Ridge.
Looking at the schedule, Kent Denver and Lutheran collide on Tuesday night and that winner should end up the league championship.  Lutheran also has a game with third place Colorado Academy later this week and that contest will also factor into the district tournament pairings.  Colorado Springs Christian and St Mary’s also meet this week and that winner should end up as the #2 seed behind Vanguard in the Tri Peaks.  Alamosa and Bayfield meet for a second time this week as well.  Both teams lost on Saturday so the league standings did not change as Alamosa’s win in the first game gives them a one-game edge in the title chase.
Maybe the most exciting week is inside the Frontier where first place Arrupe Jesuit meets both DSST-Stapleton and Pinnacle.  Arrupe has not lost a conference game but we do not have them among our top two choices as automatic qualifiers.  That of course can change if they pick up a win in either or both of their games this week.
Teams that finish in the top two of their district tournament receive automatic bids to the state tournament and here’s our list for this week.

#1 DSST-Stapleton #1 Sterling
#2 Pinnacle #2 Platte Valley
#1 Kent Denver #1 Alamosa
#2 Lutheran #2 Bayfield
#1 Vanguard #1 Coal Ridge
#2 Colorado Springs Christian #2 Roaring Fork
#1 Weld Central
#2 DSST-Green Valley

With those predictions in mind, we first seed the district champions and at-large teams in order by RPI as published on Monday February 5th.  District champions must finish in the top 16 of RPI to earn the right to play at home in the first two rounds.  Based on RPI standings from today (Feb 5th), Weld Central is the only projected league champion not in the top 16 so they’re replaced by Strasburg as the second at-large team in the top eight.

  1. Sterling
  2. Alamosa
  3. Coal Ridge
  4. Platte Valley (at-large)
  5. Vanguard
  6. Kent Denver
  7. Strasburg (at-large)
  8. DSST-Stapleton

Next up is the rest of the bracket which is filled out by automatic qualifiers and at-large teams based on RPI standings.  DSST-Green Valley and Weld Central both get into our bracket as automatic qualifiers from the Confluence/Colorado 7 regional and that adjustment would bump St Mary’s and Estes Park from the field.

  1. Bayfield
  2. Grand Valley
  3. Manual
  4. Faith Christian
  5. Resurrection Christian
  6. Roaring Fork
  7. Colorado Academy
  8. Lutheran
  9. Arrupe Jesuit
  10. Pagosa Springs
  11. La Junta
  12. Delta
  13. Centauri
  14. Colorado Springs Christian
  15. Jefferson
  16. Pinnacle
  17. Montezuma-Cortez
  18. Brush
  19. Olathe
  20. Manitou Springs
  21. Salida
  22. Cedaredge
  23. DSST-Green Valley (#35 in RPI — move up as automatic qualifier)
  24. Weld Central (#46 in RPI — move up as automatic qualifier)

With 32 teams selected, the field can now be projected.  Teams seeded in spots 25-32 could be moved to help limit travel.  Also note that the field is NOT RESEEDED once the first two rounds are complete and the bracket will be played out completely from start to finish.  For our projections, we produce a true seed and do not move any teams within the bracket.  In the pairings below, a few first round pairings would like be altered including conference matchups between Vanguard-Manitou Springs, Coal Ridge-Cedaredge and Strasburg-Brush.

#1 Sterling vs #32 Weld Central #8 DSST-Stapleton vs #25 Montezuma Cortez
#16 Lutheran vs #17 Arrupe Jesuit #9 Bayfield vs #24 Pinnacle
#4 Platte Valley vs #29 Salida #5 Vanguard vs #28 Manitou Springs
#13 Resurrection Christian vs #20 Delta #12 Faith Christian vs #21 Centauri
#3 Coal Ridge vs #30 Cedaredge #6 Kent Denver vs #27 Olathe
#14 Roaring Fork vs #19 La Junta #11 Manual vs #22 Colorado Springs Christian
#2 Alamosa vs #31 DSST-Green Valley #7 Strasburg vs #26 Brush
#15 Colorado Academy vs #18 Pagosa Springs #10 Grand Valley vs #23 Jefferson