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Boys state basketball tournament preview and predictions
March 6, 2023
The Boys State Basketball tournament matchups are all set. In Class A every team has a chance to make a deep run and each matchup will create something exciting in Lincoln this week.
The State Tournament will be played from Wednesday, March 8 to Saturday, March 11 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
No.1 Bellevue West (25-0) vs. No.6 Lincoln North Star (16-8)
Wednesday, March 8/Tip-Off 1:30 p.m.
The nationally ranked Bellevue West Thunderbirds seek their second state title in four years, on the back of maybe their best squad to date. Bellevue West remained undefeated, after a 80-78 overtime win over Westside on Saturday, Feb. 18. Lincoln North Star comes off of an upset win over No.3 Gretna that put them in state, they look to add the Thunderbirds to that list.
Player To Watch: Bellevue West guard Creighton commit Josiah Dotzler has been phenomenal this season with an average of 16.2 points per game, 5.2 assists per game, and 2.2 steals per game.
Abdullah’s Pick: Hard to pick against a team that hasn’t lost, I think the T-Birds will win this one pretty easily.
No.4 Lincoln East (18-5) vs. No.5 Westside (17-7)
Wednesday,March 8/Tip-off 3:15 p.m.
Westside has made the state tournament four times in the last five years, but have struggled making it past the first round. Lincoln East defeated the Warriors back on Thursday, Feb.2 by a score of 66-50 and look to have the same success this time around.
Player to Watch: Westside’s Kevin Stubblefield could have a huge impact for the Warriors. The junior forward has been a key factor all year for the team and I think he will continue to be. He averages 15.8 points per game on a very effective 54% from the field, also adding 5.4 rebounds each night.
Abdullah’s Pick: In the last game between these teams, Lincoln East was able to come to Omaha and beat the Warriors. I believe that the Warriors will return the favor in a highly competitive game.
No.2 Millard North (20-4) vs. No.7 Elkhorn South (16-6)
Wednesday, March 8/ Tip-off 6 p.m.
Millard North enters the tournament in search of their third straight state title, the Mustangs have been the team to beat for years in Nebraska high school basketball. Elkhorn South has punched their ticket to their second straight state tournament after a win against Papio South. They now set their sights on Millard North, where they will try to stop their high powered offense.
Player to Watch: Elkhorn South Senior Alec Noonan has been red hot for the Storm this season, he leads Class A in points per game and I believe he will have a big night against the Mustangs. He averages 18.7 points per game on 51% shooting.
Abdullah’s Pick: I think that the Storm matchup well against the Mustangs and will complete the upset of the defending champs.
No. 3 Gretna (19-3) vs. No.6 Lincoln Southeast (14-9)
Wednesday, March 8/Tip-off 7:45 p.m.
The Dragons are still in search of their first state title in basketball since joining Class A. Lincoln Southeast stunned Creighton Prep at the Birdcage to clinch a state appearance. The Knights now stare at the No.3 Dragons in hopes of slaying them.
Player to Watch: Gretna junior Landon Pokorski has been big for the Dragons and looks to continue delivering on the big stage. He averages 15.1 points per game and 4.5 assists per game.
Abdullah’s Pick: I think that Gretna will bounce back from their last loss and prove why they are ranked as high as they are. The Knights will put up a fight but I believe the Dragons will edge them out.
Games will be on Friday, March 10 at Pinnacle Bank Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.
Abdullah’s Pick: No.1 Bellevue West vs. No.5 Westside
Abdullah’s Pick: These two teams have seen plenty of each other this season, once in the Metro Holiday tournament and once in the regular season. In the most recent matchup, Bellevue West came into Westside and beat them but not without the Warriors showing their true colors. The T-Birds are used to running over the opposing teams, but Westside held them to a two point overtime win. I believe this game will go very similarly and the result will be the same. Bellevue West will be in the title game.
No.3 Gretna vs. No.7 Elkhorn South
Abdullah’s Pick: These teams have faced each other once before this meeting. On January 5th, The Dragons were able to weather the storm in enemy territory by a score of 61-52. This game will also be competitive but I believe the outcome will be the same. The Dragons will meet the Thunderbirds in the Title game.
Game will be played on Saturday, March 11 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Tip-off: 6:15 p.m.
No.1 Bellevue West vs. No.3 Gretna
Abdullah’s Pick: These teams first squared off on Thursday, Jan 19. in a game at the Thunderdome. The T-Birds were able to contain Gretna through all 4 quarters winning 58-47. This game will be a great one and will be extremely close but I think Bellevue West completed the undefeated season with a ring on their finger. Your 2023 Nebraska basketball state champions will be the Bellevue West Thunderbirds.