CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The best postseason game prior to the state tournament could come in Class AA, where Westside will visit Bluefield in the Region 3 co-final.
That's what I think will transpire as the field gradually gets pared leading up to the 100th boys state high school basketball tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
There is nothing scientific about these predictions - by myself or our Prep Sports Editor Derek Taylor. Still, this will give you something to chew on leading up to one of the Civic Center's most attended annual events.
And it gives Derek and me something to talk about while we chase deadlines on a daily basis.
A Westside-Bluefield regional co-final would be fun and would make the Renegades the only thing standing between the Beavers and a state title. Suffice it to say, neither Wyoming East nor Westside wants to visit Bluefield.
The change in class will help former Class AAAs like Fairmont Senior, Robert C. Byrd and Bridgeport, but it won't be enough to overcome Bluefield.
The Beavers will survive the rigorous Region 3 and be awarded the No. 1 seed by beating Wyoming East in the regional co-final. Westside will be the best Class AA team not to make the state tournament.
The Beavers have plenty of state tournament experience and their only defeats this season were to Class AAA foes (Greenbrier once and Princeton three times).
Besides, their state tournament ouster last year came against Tug Valley, which dropped to Class A.
Life has been tough for Poca of late. The Dots have lost four of their last five games, but they should host the Region 4 co-final, which gives them the edge to earn a trip to the Civic Center. I expect Tolsia's state tournament experience from last year will give the Rebels an edge in Section 2 against Chapmanville, Mingo Central and Scott.
The seeds should go like this: 1. Bluefield, 2. Bridgeport, 3. North Marion, 4. Fairmont Senior, 5. Robert C. Byrd, 6. Wyoming East, 7. Tolsia, 8. Poca.
The state's smallest class suddenly became the most competitive. The additions of Tug Valley and Magnolia have amped up the attention on Class A and make Charleston Catholic's road to a repeat a rocky one at best.
The Irish will make the state tournament, but who knows what will happen after that? Defending Class AA champion Tug Valley gets a slight edge because of its disciplined play and exceptional shooting ability. The Panthers stuck it to Charleston Catholic at the Civic Center. The Irish didn't show any exotic defenses or any trickery and were without head coach Bill McClanahan. However, Tug Valley - a team that relies heavily on being able to hit jump shots with pinpoint accuracy - shot down any ideas that the Civic Center is a tough place to shoot.