Class 4A: It’s tempting to want to whittle the projection down to two teams, No. 1 Hopkins and No. 3 Eastview, which is also the defending state champion. Each team has one loss, which came at the hands of the other. Eastview defeated Hopkins in overtime on Dec. 6 and Hopkins returned the favor in the finals of the St. Olaf Tournament on Dec. 31. But don’t dismiss Minnetonka, which also has just one loss and posted road victories over the top two teams in Class 3A, Orono and Park Center. Don’t overlook: Roseville, St. Michael-Albertville, Lakeville North.
Class 3A: Playing a Class 4A-heavy schedule as a member of the Northwest Suburban Conference, defending champ Park Center, despite its three losses, expects to be ready for the postseason. Orono started 14-0 before its overtime loss to Minnetonka and is poised to give the Pirates’ their biggest challenge. Don’t overlook: Hill-Murray, New Prague.
Biggest surprise: Eagan. The Wildcats have already won more games, eight, than they did all of last year, when they finished 7-20. Their schedule gets tougher from here — six games against teams ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A — but the season can already be considered a success.
Metro player of the Year candidates: My top three so far: 1. Madi Guebert, guard, Eastview; 2. Monica Burich, forward, Roseville; 3. T.T. Starks, guard, Hopkins.