"You're looking at a district that probably on a given night 1-6 can go win any game," Twin Rivers coach Jim Vaughan said.
"We were kidding around at the seeding meeting that you could play three tournaments and probably have three different winners," Doniphan coach Shawn Gibbs said.
New Madrid coach Scott Kruse agrees.
"A lot of evenly matched teams that on any given night one team can win and it wouldn't even be called an upset," he said.
Twin Rivers is currently 19-5 and is the top seed, but the Royals are dealing with an knee injury to starting post player Jason Baucom. The 6-foot-5 senior, who averages 13.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, partially tore his MCL last Thursday during practice and is questionable for district play.
"It's not a done deal that he's gone," Vaughan said. "If he's able to play it may not be 100 percent. If it could damage it more, we're not going to play him. But if its going to be pain free and safe with a brace, he's going to give it a go."
The Royals are led in scoring by sophomore guard Michael Lance (21 ppg). Twin Rivers has the first-round bye the year after losing to Doniphan in the finals.
"By getting the number one seed our only advantage is we get a bye and get to watch the first round," Vaughan said. "We're going to get New Madrid or Doniphan, so either way it won't be easy."
One of the hardest teams to figure out in Southeast Missouri, Caruthersville, is the second seed.
The Tigers started off very slow this season, losing five of their first nine games and were 1-2 at the Poplar Bluff Showdown. After the bad start,
Caruthersville (17-8) won the Superman Classic, beat Portageville by 20 points in the Bootheel Conference Tournament and lost by just a point to Charleston.
Portageville, a team known for its postseason prowess is the third seed. The Bulldogs enter the tournament with a 19-5 record, but three of their losses came before Christmas.
Since a fifth place finish at the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament, Portageville has defeated Charleston, Caruthersville and Dexter.
"I seeded Portageville one," Vaughan said. "They're always ready at the end of the year. That's the nature of coach (Jim) Bidewell. He does a great job of preparing his team."
New Madrid (8-15) is the fourth seed. The Eagles are playing better than their record and are coming off a one-point loss to Portageville.
"We've got a group of guys that know that everyone out there wants to be there," Kruse said. "They know their rotation, know when they are coming out. I think that is making us a better team."
Doniphan, led by 6-foot-7 center Matt Rogers is the fifth-seed. The sophomore is averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks a game. He is coming off a 23-point, five-dunk performance against Charleston.
"We've got the inside force," Gibbs said. "The biggest thing for us, is something we had last year, if our perimeter shooting came around we can win some games."
The Dons (11-14) are without the services of post player Devin Simms. The senior recently had his appendix removed and will not be able to play.
"I think we've been getting better, but not having Simms hurts us," Gibbs said. "He has been such a big part of the team this season."
Kennett (10-13) is the sixth seed while Malden (8-12) rounds out the field.
The tournament gets underway Monday at 4:30 p.m. with New Madrid playing Doniphan. Portageville faces Kennett at 6, followed by Caruthersville and Malden at 7:30. The championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"I don't know if there's a team to beat," Vaughan said. "You've got definitely 1-4 who have a chance to win - not only our district - but have a chance to go on and win the next game."