This upcoming weekend lacks for headlining tournaments, but it turns out these games count just as much in the ranking algorithm.
This field of seven is not your average small tournament. Three of the four seminfinalists from last year return and two of those teams were at Nationals last year. Both the 1 and 2 seed missed out on a berth of their own by a game. The top four were all in attendance at Queen City Tune Up and that mostly informed the seeding (Pittsburgh beat UNC-W, UNC-W beat Virginia) but anything could happen within this top end. Penn State will be looking to prove themselves and have a close 11-14 loss to Virginia from Winta Binta Vinta Fest. I’m expecting UNC-W and Virginia to make the finals and Pittsburgh vs. Michigan in the semis. Important to see how Michigan rebounds from QCTU, though.
This tournament is really a regional level one, except for two teams that I’m just so curious about: UCSD and Victoria. The Psychos had a solid showing at Pres Day and that makes them a notable in the Southwest. Victoria’s undefeated run through the SB Invite included wins over Santa Barbara, Sonoma State, and a romp over Stanford. This will also be a chance for Humboldt State and San Diego State to make some moves within region. Everyone will be gunning to beat Victoria to score a valuable out of region win. The winner gets a huge opportunity playing at the Stanford Invite two weeks later. Should Victoria win, that’s a lot of travel.
Delaware sits at the 1-seed spot, the kind of respect you earn getting to the show last year. That said, they are 0-2 vs. the field here (losses to Penn and JMU at Winta Binta Vinta Fest), so it will be interesting to see if the time between then and now has allowed them to transition to the post-Nikki Ross era of this season (after she went down to injury). Towson has really become a consistently strong squad as well, and could challenge Penn and JMU for the title. Also curious to see what NYU brings to the table. Plus, there’s those Dirty Ladies from American University, and with a gamechanger like Lauren Sadler of Scandal, anything could happen, and wouldn’t be surprised to see them take Pool A.
Non-sanctioned as it may be, as a Southeast coach, I’m always keeping an eye on the competition. The teams, as I’ve been told, are Tulane, Hotbox (club team), Florida B, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Georgia State, Western Kentucky, Miss. St, and West GA. Tulane and Alabama have both become emerging programs to watch out for and will be battling to rule the Gulf Coast. Georgia State has great top end talent and could offer some surprises and I’m mostly interested in seeing how those three teams stack up. No idea what Hotbox will do to things, or where Vandy and Auburn will fall. I’m expecting Bama to win their home tournament.