1. The stars are out

Each of the five seeded teams feature at least one Division I-level player. Junior Dain Dainja, a 6-9 force (left) in the low post, leads Park Center. Hopkins has Metro Player of the Year Zeke Nnaji, who's committed to Arizona, as well as 6-5 junior swingman Kerwin Walton. There's the big three at East Ridge — senior Courtney Brown and his sophomore brother, Kendall, and junior Ben Carlson. Eden Prairie's gritty leader, Drake Dobbs, has verbally committed to Liberty University, and Lake-ville North's stellar 6-7 guard Tyler Wahl is yet another Minnesotan who will play at Wisconsin.

2. Tight-game masters

Park Center was seeded No. 1 because the Pirates are the only one-loss team in the field. That is a testament to the mental toughness that coach James Ware has instilled. The Pirates won seven games by five points or less, including a 57-55 triple-overtime victory over Champ-lin Park in the Section 5 title game.

3. Peaking

First-time state entrant East Ridge started the season 3-2, losing to Prior Lake and Eden Prairie. Since then the Raptors have won 23 in a row. ... Maple Grove is playing its best basketball, having won 14 of its past 16, losing only to Park Center and Champlin Park. The Crimson is making its fourth consecutive tournament appearance.

4. Throw out the record

Eden Prairie has nine losses, second most of any team in the bracket, but they are deceiving. Four were to state tournament teams — DeLa-Salle, Park Center, Minnehaha Academy and Hopkins. The combined record of the eight teams that have defeated them (Wayzata did it twice) is 184-44. Said coach David Flom, "We play the best teams we can and clearly that's paid off."

Jim Paulsen