Posted On: 01/21/19 8:12 AM
The annual day of games honoring the Martin Luther King holiday will once again be played at Totino-Grace HIgh School this afternoon. We look at the match-ups for each of the four games, now!
North St Paul vs Holy Family
The Skinny: These are teams going in very different directions. Holy Family (9-5) at one point was a top five team but they have lost five straight games and the point differentials are getting uglier and uglier. Meanwhile, after losing their first three games of the season, NSP (8-5) has beaten DeLaSalle, Osseo, Delano, and St. Thomas as a part of an eight win in ten game stretch.
Top Match-Up: Nick Hendler vs Shaheed Muhammad. In this long struggle for Holy Family their leading scorer Nick Hendler only had a Nick Hendler in one of five games. Muhammad is one of the better stories of the early season scoring 18 a game and defending hard. If Muhammad and his guys can slow Hendler with their pressure the recent trends should continue.
Top Prospect to See: Dajuan Carter. The NSP senior guard was expected to have an explosive scoring season. You know, 22-23 points a game. But Carter – a six foot combo guard – has done that and more scoring 31 points per game. A number that is the second highest in the metro, third overall trailing just Matthew Hurt and J’Vonne Hadley.
Prediction: It’s tough to buck the recent trends especially considering the way the Polars defend. North St. Paul by nine.
St. Paul Central vs Buffalo
The Skinny: These are a pair of top 25 level teams in Class AAAA consistently working towards a post-season run. Central is 9-4, Buffalo is 10-5. Buffalo handed Princeton their first loss of the season recently as a part of their nine wins in ten games. Central has done a great job of scheduling high quality opponents in with their league schedule.
Top Match-Up: Dion Ford vs Aidan Bouman. Ford is a high energy, high number producing (17/9 a game) 6-foot-4 forward who will likely be put to work against Bouman, a 6-foot-6 low post skilled player with power and agility. Bouman is scoring 16 a contest and is an Iowa State committed football prospect.
Top Prospect to See: Matthew Willert. The guy is 6-foot-6 and shoots the ball from distance in a way that puts him among the best shooters in Minnesota’s 2020 class. Willert is scoring 19 a contest plus he’s finishing explosively more and more. He had 32 recently against Maple Grove but Buffalo is establishing balance so a 14 from Willert worked just as well when they peat Princeton by 20.
Prediction: Very tough game to predict. Buffalo hasn’t played a team with the experience and agility that Central has. That said. Buffalo will be bigger than Central at nearly every spot and they are playing at a high level. And Central has a win over Osseo but is only 1-4 against the best teams on their schedule. We say Buffalo by four.
Breck vs Henry Sibley
The Skinny: Henry Sibley is 3-11 on the season and losing games by an average of 14 points a night. Breck is 10-3 but is coming off an upset from Providence Academy. Because Sibley is a bigger school with a couple nice players I think this game will be close but David Roddy will be too much.
Top Match-Up: Malik Spearman vs David Roddy. Spearman is about a 6-4/6-5 power forward scoring 15 a game while David Roddy is a 6-foot-5 nationally ranked top 200 player headed to Colorado State. Roddy is putting up 29 points and 16 boards a game.
Top Prospect to See: David Roddy of course. David brought his list down to Minnesota, Northwestern, and Colorado State and picked the Rams in a strong effort from Dave Thorson and Niko Medved.
Prediction: Breck wins. The Mustangs are getting Joey Ganley back although taking their time with him so the team still isn’t full strength even though they are a ranked squad. Underclassmen Jaren Morton and Jimmy Koch have really helped Breck.
Hopkins vs Totino-Grace
The Skinny: If you were to predict the record of Totino-Grace at this point before the season you would likely say 4-8 but a group of mostly new players has put together an 8-4 year. Excellent start. Problem today is they play Hopkins and that’s not a favorable match-up for anybody. The Royals are 14-2 at the moment recently hammering St. Paul Central and Minnetonka.
Top Match-Up: Devin Burger vs Andy Stafford. Devin Burger, a 6-foot-4 Eagle sophomore, is coming off two solid games against Osseo and Irondale (both wins). The Eagles will need Burger to hit similar numbers against Andy Stafford and/or Kerwin Walton today.
Top Prospect to See: Zeke Nnaji and Kerwin Walton. Both are nationally ranked players, Nnaji committed to Arizona while Walton just came back from an official visit to Purdue. Nnaji is scoring 22.5 points a game while Walton is scoring 16 a contest.
Prediction: The Eagles will be fired up, they will play strong team defense, and they will likely have some first half runs. But the size that Hopkins has everywhere will cast shadows on the Eagles and it will eventually be tough to defend the giants in the dark.