This coming Saturday and Sunday, a few Nationals contenders are in action against strong regional competition, and not many regionally relevant tournaments, so short and sweet!
It is a bit wild to see such a strong field for a qualifier, with some Nationals-quality competition on board (although the two most notable teams, Ohio and UNC-Wilmington, could have just gone to Easterns itself if they chose) versus some strong regional competition looking to break through. One of the field’s strongest teams, Dartmouth, had to drop out after a motor vehicle accident, so I join the well wishes to their team. While I expect Ohio and UNC-Wilmington to look strong this weekend, I also expect them to be tooling around a little, so not a lot of blowouts. I’m also expecting strong showings from Alabama, a slightly healthier Cincinnati squad, and Brown. Watch out for Clemson to upset someone – James Cox is one of the best players in the country that you’ve never heard of.
Games to watch (Saturday): Cincinnati vs. Clemson, Alabama vs. Maryland, Brown vs. Michigan, and Connecticut vs. Cincinnati
Florida shot up the various Power Rankings with their performance at Warm Up, especially by knocking off mighty Pittsburgh to start the weekend. Anything less than winning TiV will look bad for them, and it can be tough when domination is the expectation. I was excited about ASU going into QCTU, but have lowered my expectations since. Perhaps it was the travel? How will the likes of USF, SDSU, and Canada’s U23 team shake things up? How will D-III top dogs Claremont and PLU fare?
Games to watch: Mostly Sunday, but Saturday’s Florida vs. SDSU and ASU vs. USC could get interesting.
The strongest field of any tournament this weekend, MWTD is another in Without Limits series of exciting tournaments. Iowa St., Iowa, and Wisconsin hold the top three seeds and are clear cut favorites. Iowa and Wisconsin will be pumped to see each other Saturday, and any looks these teams get at one another in the bracket Sunday will also bring out the best. Look out for Minnesota – they have been building up some buzz behind the Depalmas and freshmen Greta Regan. Northwestern quietly had a solid QCTU and Texas A&M is looking to follow up a strong 2nd place Houston Antifreeze performance. Emory and Wash U will be looking to jumpstart after poor starts to their spring seasons. Meanwhile, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Valparaiso, and Notre Dame are all looking to win their way into the Sunday bracket to make waves.
Games to Watch: Iowa vs. Wisconsin above all else, but Iowa vs. Minnesota was a 10-9 game last weekend at an indoor tourney, but keep an eye on Northwestern vs. Wash U, Wash U vs. Emory, and Truman St. vs. Grinnell