Queen City Tune Up has risen to be one of the top tournaments in the country, and the field on both the Open and Women’s sides are full of great teams from the east coast, southeast, and midwest. Here’s a breakdown of the games I’m most looking forward to seeing on Saturday.
North Carolina vs. Washington University (Pool C)
Round 1 is tough to find the right match ups, but I’m looking to see how possible upstart 4 seeds do. WuWu had a nice string of appearances at Nationals before last season, where they fell one point shy in the Regional Final. Meanwhile, North Carolina lost some big pieces from last year’s Quarter’s team, but they have the QCTU crown and won’t want to give it up easily. The last time these squads faced off was the same tournament last season and UNC waltzed 15-3. Lisa Couper and Shellie Cohen dominate touches for Pleiades and Lindsay Lang will be helping continue to cultivate their incoming talent. UNC had some struggles at CCC this Fall and I’ll be looking to see if they’ve developed depth. The word on WuWu’s Danielle Blatt is that she’s dangerous with a disc in her hand. This will be a good test for both teams.
Virginia vs. Carleton College (Pool D)
Virginia keeps chugging along, looking to solidify themselves as a year in, year out contender, while Carleton is looking to get back after their streak of Nationals appearances was broken last year. Old blood vs. new blood! Alika Johnston is obviously a stud and her quickness allows to gain short yardage all over the field as well as crucial resets. Virginia made a run last year to Semis in Charlotte and has solid early returns at CCC, Virginia Fusion, and their home tournament, but I feel like the losses of Devon Erickson, Shannon McVey, and Maggie Johns will have a significant impact. Carleton returns their stud duo of Julia Snyder and Anna Reed. Definitely a possible upset and in my mind, the game to watch this round.
Michigan vs. Wisconsin (Pool B)
Pool B has a top 3 (Michigan, UNC, and Wisconsin) that could each win the pool and possibly the whole tournament. Both are established programs and have players rising to more prominent roles after the last crop of stars moved on. Callahan winner Paula Seville isn’t the only Flywheel lady gone, as DeLave, Chang, and the super duper lovely Marissa Mead make for big holes to fill. I’ll be curious to see how Bella Donna replaces not just the field-opening break throws of Emilie McKain, but the fire and passion she brought onto the field. They tend to be athletic and physical, giving them an edge at these early season affairs. Upset alert!
Ohio State vs. Florida State (Pool C)
For personal reasons, I really want to see this one. As a Southeast coach, I’m very curious to see how Florida State – who seems on the precipice of a breakout and have claimed the #2 spot in the region – stacks up against high level competition. I’m also excited to watch Sassy Cassie Swafford return to the field for OSU [Update: Swafford will likely not play this weekend]. While I expect a deep Fever team that experienced very few losses from last season to control this game, I’ll be watching to see how Megan Reeves and Florida State respond to this challenge. Plus, if Diddy Soper and Reeves match each other up, that’ll be a ton of fun.
Georgia vs. Delaware (Pool A)
Southeast bias here. I’m also really high on Dawgma this year. Dominating a matchup like this could really help push them towards high expectations on a national level.
Pittsburgh vs. Florida (Pool C)
Pittsburgh is a team on the rise, adding a veteran presence in former Flywheel playmaker Kelsey DeLave, and capitalizing on Pittsburgh’s awesome youth Ulti scene. Florida is a team that is still searching for their identity this year, but with top talent that knows what it takes to succeed in Jackie Fane and Jenna Dahl. Not only Southeast bias, but in an effort to destroy what tiny shreds of credibility I have, I should also note I tweeted that Pittsburgh’s club team, Hot Metal, was the best looking team at Club Championships. Still pulling for FUEL to help push the SE towards that elusive second bid.p
Florida State vs. Carleton (Pool D)
Same stories as before for both.
Iowa vs. Georgia (Pool A)
There’s no game I’d rather be at this round. Chelsea Twohig is the type of player you make a point to watch, plus Iowa’s a well put together program that doesn’t get intimidated. Georgia has a chance to really prove themselves with a win over a team like Saucy Nancy. Georgia’s top 7 are an impressive group, anchored by the SE’s best woman in Lane Siedor, as well as Emily Lloyd, Hannah Leathers, Margie Quinn, and shutdown artist Julia Fuster. They’ve had years of stability with underrated coach Amble Johnson. Opportunity knocks with this one.
All of Them (Pool D)
Let’s be real: I dunno what to make of this pool. I’m thinking Carleton emerges, Virginia disappoints (though they defy my expectations every time, I gotta stop sleeping on them), but Ohio State proves themselves elite. But what the heck will Florida State do? See, I’m stumped. So a round of OSU vs. Carleton and Virginia vs. FSU should help clear a lot of that up for me.
Michigan vs. North Carolina (Pool B)
Usually the most exciting round with 1s vs 2s, I’m actually expecting most 1 seeds to have a pretty firm grip on their respective pools. That is, except in Pool B. These two teams actually remind me a lot of each other, what with their constant restocking of the talent pool and usually some tall handler casually tossing backhand arounds with their size and boosting big hucks. If Pleiades takes care of UCF and has momentum from a win of Wisco, I’d put money on them to snag the pool.
Ohio State vs. Virginia (Pool D)
Ok, contradicting almost everything else I’ve written about this pool, now that I’ve sufficiently disrespected Virginia Hydra, it is safe to assume they will make me look stupid and give Ohio State their first challenge of the day.
I’ll be up in Charlotte, probably helping with Skyd, and possibly armed with a video camera. I’ll also probably stop by the Open side to visit with my boys from Ohio State, Cincinnati, and some other top teams, so tune in for more senseless commentary on who knows what Ultimate goodness.