We’ve got a pretty notable weekend ahead of us, and in only a few hours, teams will be taking the field in Stanford, Nashville, Tallahassee, and Newark to battle it out. USAU has been rolling with the #nowitcounts hashtag, but it has to feel a little more real now that the bid picture is coming into shape and the Series creeps ever closer.
The headliner for the weekend, SI is going to have eyes on it, as it is stacked with nationals-level talent and finally has some cross-coast competition (and allows us to alliterate) for us to chew on. Reigning SI (and national) champ Washington slots in as the 2-seed in Pool A, meaning we will have the pleasure of another battle with 1-seed Oregon. Oregon struggled to a 3-3 Saturday last year, but I expect a much more dominant performance this time around. In Pool B, British Columbia and Santa Barbara give us another titanic 1-2 clash. I feel like these top four have separated themselves from the rest of the West Coast, but it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up and if anyone else challenges them.
The most critical matchups will be with the teams below, as Carleton and North Carolina are the 3-seeds in each pool. Looking to take additional bids for their regions after solid results this season, they’ll need to lock up Ws over the likes of California, Stanford, and Sonoma State. Speaking of Sonoma, who lost in the final of this tournament last season, they have less expectations put upon them this year, as they have struggled against the top tier teams while performing well against the rest of the field. It’ll also be worth a look to see how Stanford performs with Meister back, though I heard she’s not %100 right now. There’s a lot of storylines and implications all throughout this one.
Games to Watch: Carleton vs. Sonoma State (1:00 PM) in a bid battle, and 1-2 matchups in each pool of Oregon vs. Washington and UBC vs. UCSB (4:20 PM), plus the Sunday morning UNC vs. Stanford game (9:40 AM) with bid implications on the line.
Nashville plays host to a number of nationals hopefuls and regionally competitive teams looking to hit stride. Texas and Ohio State take the 1-seed in each D-I pool (basically power pools), and both of these teams are looking to establish themselves as contenders. Central Florida, Georgia, Pittsburgh, and Michigan all have chances to prove they belong in the conversation, as they all have had up and down seasons. Illinois has their first cracks at high level competition this spring and Florida will look to right the ship. Regional competitors like Michigan St., an undefeated North Texas, Vermont, and Georgia Tech will also look to make noise by taking down similar-level opponents on the way to a Divisional crossover. Could we see a repeat of the D-I destruction from Midwest Throwdown? Big weekend for the Southeast and Ohio Valley, both on the outside looking in for strength bids.
Games to watch: At 1:15, most of the best games go down, featuring Texas vs. Central Florida, Pittsburgh vs. Illinois, and Michigan State vs North Texas. Also of note is the opening round matchup of Ohio State and Georgia (8:00 AM).
Southeast teams jockey for position while Great Lakes mid-tier teams Notre Dame and Purdue look to assert themselves. In my Southeast Snap Shot, I pointed out some of the important regional matchups here. Pool A is Florida State, Notre Dame, Purdue, and GCSU (the 4th ranked SE team according to USAU), meaning all four of these games are interesting. Florida State doesn’t need wins – they need to dominate. The math demands it! In the other two pools, South Florida has an opportunity to assert themselves with big wins while Auburn is trying to show T-Town Throwdown was no fluke. Speaking of, Tulane sits atop the Gulf Coast and Alabama is trying to rebound from struggles at their home tournament.
Coming off strong showings at Bonanza, Towson and NYU occupy the top two spots here, with Delaware the 1-seed in the third pool. Each has a chance to do work in the hopes of seeing one another to score some nice wins. NYU and Towson have both established themselves, however, so I expect to see these two see each other Sunday. The Metro East is open for the taking and a strong weekend for the Violet Femmes could make them a favorite to take their lone bid.