In projecting the Class 3A boys’ basketball bracket this week, there is one major change from previous editions.Â A new by-law approved by CHSAA in effect this year requires district champions to finish in the top 16 of RPI to earn the right to host a regional tournament.Â In previous years, district champions played at home regardless of their standing in the RPI.Â That has changed for this season.
The new rule may become a factor in the district tournament that combines teams from the Confluence and Colorado 7 conferences.Â DSST-Green Valley, at 38th, is the highest ranked team from that field in RPI standing posted on Monday.Â Ridgeview Academy is next at #39 with Weld Central 44th so it’s highly likely the district champion will not get to play at home.
In determining the entire field for Class 3A, we must first project the top two finishers in each district.Â These clubs receive automatic bids into the state tournament and the remaining 18 teams are then selected based directly on RPI.
Our current choices for automatic qualifiers are as follows:
Notes:Â Several key games are on tap this week that will help determine the league finish.Â Clear Creek meets Pinnacle and Arrupe Jesuit faces Jefferson on Tuesday.Â Then on Thursday, DSST-Stapleton plays Pinnacle.Â DSST is tied with Arrupe Jesuit in first place with Pinnacle and Clear Creek tied for third with one loss apiece.
- Platte Valley
Notes:Â Sterling heads to Kersey on Friday to face Platte Valley in the game that will likely determine the top two finishers in the conference race.Â Platte Valley picked up a road overtime win at Resurrection Christian last week and then topped Estes Park three days later.Â Another win over Sterling this Friday should virtually clinch the league crown for the Broncos.Â They’re tied with Sterling for the league lead with Resurrection Christian and Estes Park a game back.Â The two third-place teams also collide on Friday.Â Sterling goes to Resurrection Christian on February 2nd.
- Kent Denver
Notes:Â Our two picks are tied with Colorado Academy for the conference lead and all three teams are unbeaten in league play entering the week.Â That will change this week as Kent Denver and Colorado Academy meet up on Saturday.Â Kent Denver has already beaten Manual and Faith Christian so a win this week should secure no worse than a top two finish for the Sun Devils.Â Colorado Academy has also beaten Faith Christian but must also tangle with a very good Manual club on Tuesday.Â Lutheran gets tested at Faith Christian on Tuesday and they have a brutal eight day stretch from February 2nd through the 10th where they meet Manual, Kent Denver and Colorado Academy in consecutive games.
- Colorado Springs Christian
Notes:Â Vanguard took early control of a crowded chase by downing Colorado Springs Christian last week.Â They also picked up a quality road win at La Junta over the weekend.Â The Coursers meet St Mary’s on the road on Saturday.Â St Mary’s, Manitou Springs and CSCS are tied for second with one league loss apiece.Â CSCS and Manitou also collide on Wednesday.
Notes:Â The Moose served up a huge road win as they downed Bayfield on the road last Saturday.Â A dominant defensive effort turned around a three-point halftime deficit into a double-digit victory.Â The two teams meet again in February but that game will be Alamosa’s home court.
- Roaring Fork
- Coal Ridge
Notes:Â Based on results from December, Grand Valley was considered the conference favorite but that prediction changed last week as the Cardinals lost at home to Roaring Fork.Â That win pushed the Rams into our top spot for the district and they can take complete control of the league chase by beating Coal Ridge on Tuesday.Â Coal Ridge and Grand Valley also meet next Tuesday (30th) so the top three spots could be determined before the end of the month.Â All three clubs will likely be favored in remaining league contests.
- DSST-Green Valley
- Weld Central
Notes:Â Since most of the teams don’t play during the regular season it’s difficult to get a read on this bracket.Â DSST-Green Valley, as mentioned, is the highest ranked team in the RPI so we go with them as the top seed.Â Weld Central plays a 4A dominated schedule so we believe the Rebels can grab the second spot.
Using RPI from Monday, we should be able to determine the remaining 18 wildcard spots, but there is a bit of confusion near the bottom of the rankings.Â Pinnacle is ranked 33rd in RPI but the Timberwolves get a spot in our bracket as we have them as one of the two automatic qualifiers from the Frontier.Â DSST-Green Valley and Weld Central also get into the field as automatic representatives from their district.Â Those factors leave St Mary’s in a tough position.Â The Pirates are 30th in RPI but would get bumped from the field by those three clubs.
With that in mind, here is the entire 32-team state tournament field using automatic qualifiers and RPI standings.Â Platte Valley and Coal Ridge move into the top eight based on RPI and earn the right to host the first two rounds.Â We also note two regions where teams would likely be moved to avoid conference matchups in the opening round.Â A reminder that teams seeded 25-32 can be moved to improve travel considerations, but we leave it as a true seed.Â The bracket is NOT reseeded after the first two rounds.
#1 Alamosa vs #32 Pinnacle
#16 Arrupe Jesuit vs #17 Resurrection Christian
#8 Roaring Fork vs #25 Estes Park
#9 Manual vs #24 Pagosa Springs
#4 Platte Valley vs #29 Montezuma Cortez
#13 Faith Christian vs #20 Delta
#5 Kent Denver vs #28 Jefferson
#12 Strasburg vs #21 Lutheran
#3 Vanguard vs #30 DSST-Green Valley
#14 Bayfield vs #19 Centauri (likely changed because of conference conflict)
#6 Coal Ridge vs #27 Olathe (likely changed because of conference conflict)
#11 La Junta vs #22 Colorado Springs Christian
#7 DSST-Stapleton vs #26 Manitou Springs
#10 Grand Valley vs #23 Academy
#2 Sterling vs #31 Weld Central
#15 Cedaredge vs #18 Colorado Academy