Another big change is that UIL is now taking 14 bands to finals if there are more than 40 bands in prelims, which there will be.
There are 8 bands that have been a finalist at both UIL State and the BOA Super Regional every time for the past 4 years and should be considered locks:
Leander is now 5A, so take them off the list (and add them to the likely 5A state champion list!)
CTJ didn't attend in 2016 due to Grand Nats, but is obviously a lock as well.
Vista Ridge didn't advance in 2016, but as the defending champion is clearly a lock.
That's 9 bands that barring a disaster will be performing the 2nd day.
The only times that LD Bell hasn't been a finalist in recent memory were the two years that they didn't advance to state at all. That is unlikely to happen again, so count them in.
That leaves 4 spots for a huge number of great bands.
Coppell, Round Rock, and Cedar Ridge have either been in finals or just missing out the past several times, and Waxahachie has made the jump to 6A smoothly.
The bubble outside of this is big. Lots of great bands!
Area D will be a big one to watch, as of now with all the drops I have only have 5 bands projected to qualify for state (barring potential boundary changes). We have seen the big 3 RR schools (Round Rock, Cedar Ridge, and Westwood) all make state at least once in the past 3 cycles (with CR being the only one to do it all 3 times) and this past BOA SA with them all finishing within 0.375 points inside of each other, anything could happen. I also could see any of these groups in finals if they qualify for state. Reagan and CTJ certainly won't be missing state anytime soon and I feel similarly about Bowie, though not quite as strongly. Churchill is another group that could be thrown into the mix with with RR schools, but they haven't qualified for state since 2010(?) and their staff change seems to have set them back a little.
Edit: I forgot to mention Churchill at first
Not to mention Hendrickson moving to 5A and Hutto moving to 6A ensures that they will still take 6 bands from area to state. I feel like ctj, reagan, rr, bowie and cr are locks and hendy moving down almost ensures that Westwood won't see a lot of competition like they have in years past. Keep in mind too that when we edged out round rock in 2014, we were only one out of finals and we are SO MUCH BETTER than we were four years ago. also the addition of two more finalists might mean we'll see all six bands from area h in finals, with bowie and westwood seeing massive improvements. couldn't be more excited for next year!