Three Stars. A trio of teams has emerged as the preeminent powers of this year’s Southeast. Most notably, these teams have performed well enough against the nation’s other talent to garner an astounding three bids to the show. Georgia, Florida State, and Central Florida slot in at 14-16 in the USAU’s rankings. The Southeast proper has never earned an additional Women’s bid; even going back to the former Atlantic Coast region, 2006 was the last time the region had three bids. A number of factors have played into this development: Georgia and Central Florida’s strong showings at Music City Mash-Up, Florida State’s domination at Tally Classic, the struggles of the South Central & Southwest, and the rise of the North Central. It is something of a perfect storm.
The implications raised bring forth three questions: can the Southeast hold these bids, has the Big Four become a Big Three, and just how good are these teams?
Georgia Dawgma (14-5)
Rankings: #14 USAU, #19 Skyd, #18 Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: UF x3, FSU x2, UCF
Key IR Losses: FSU
Key OR Wins: Ohio State (13-9), Michigan (12-8)
Key OR Losses: Ohio State (6-14), Tufts (5-11), Northwestern (7-10)
After beginning the season the favorite to win the region, Dawgma’s performance left room open for doubt. Outperforming UCF this past weekend at Music City Mash-Up helped open a teensy amount of space, but as the rankings show, virtually everyone has trouble separating these three teams. Getting wins over Ohio State and Michigan (still a top 30 team) was vital, giving them some notable wins out of region, which they sorely needed. Keeping it close against Ohio State in the finals, however, would have helped make them a frontrunner. Instead of seeing more elite competition at Centex, they’ll be heading to College Terminus, where they will see some less than notable out of region competition (Williams, Middlebury) but could have a weekend much like FSU did at Tally – rack up nice wins by big margins. They have the autobid right now, but they should not move much in the rankings. Either they’ll have the autobid still or they’ll have a strength bid should one of the other teams jump them.
Central Florida Sirens (13-7)
Rankings: #16 USAU, #20 Skyd, #19 Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: Florida
Key IR Losses: FSU x2, UGA, UF
Key OR Wins: Wisconsin (9-6), Northwestern (9-3), UNC-Wilmington (12-11), Pittsburgh (15-0), Michigan (12-7)
Key OR Losses: Ohio State (4-15)
The comparison between the Sirens and Georgia remains the same: Georgia has the in region edge, but Central Florida has more notable out of region wins. Their 9-6 win over Wisconsin at Queen City looks pretty sterling now that Wisconsin is a top ranked team and a solid win over a surging Northwestern squad (even if they were sans-Lien) and a statistical blowout of Pitt look good in their math. While their ugly loss to Ohio State in Music City semis is a black spot, luckily Georgia flubbed their finals game against the same squad, which is #5 in USAU rankings anyway. They are a two-seed in their Centex pool, where they’ll get another look at what seems to be a much different Bella Donna squad, plus UC-Santa Barbara and Virginia. Any win or close loss is a good thing for UCF. Just don’t get blown out by teams of this caliber and don’t lose more than one game Sunday.
Florida State SLUT (13-6)
Rankings: #15 USAU, UR Skyd, #17 Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: UF x2, UCF x2, UGA, Tulane (13-1)
Key IR Losses: UGA x2
Key OR Wins: Michigan (13-7)
Key OR Losses: Ohio State (8-9), Northeastern (6-10), Virginia (6-9)
Florida State is different than UCF and Georgia in that they didn’t go to Music City, and thus don’t have any elite OR competition outside of Queen City. They do, however, have close losses from QCTU, as well as a bunch of nice wins they didn’t before, after rolling through Tally Classic. Tulane, GCSU, and Auburn were all pushing from the middle of the pack – particularly Tulane – and SLUT dispatched all three in dominating fashion, a 41-7 aggregate score, including 13-1 against the aforementioned Muses. It would be nice to have extended that domination to out of region Notre Dame and Purdue (top 50 USAU ranked teams), but none of those games were close either. They’ll be in D-II at Centex and get to measure themselves against Northwestern, who both UCF and UGA have seen already. They’ll need to at least hold seed, avoid a blowout against Gung Ho, and to put up a solid showing Sunday, especially should they see any potential bid-stealers like UNC-W, Texas, or the Southwest contingent.
Florida FUEL (9-12)
Rankings: #46 USAU, UR Skyd, UR Ultiworld
Key IR Wins: UCF
Key IR Losses: FSU x2, UGA x2, UCF
The performance of FUEL certainly separates them from the top three teams in the region. The question, at this point, is are they closer to the mid tier than the top? It is tough to say. At Music City, they lost to Dawgma 8-10 and beat Georgia Tech Wreck 7-6. They also have a 13-9 win over USF, who lost to UCF and Georgia by much wider margins. Add in a 7-9 loss to FSU at Queen City and some of their other results, and it really is hard come to a decision. At this point, you just have just give them their own tier. However, you no longer can consider them a part of the bid discussion. It would be foolish to count this team out come Regionals, but it looks like an uphill climb for the Gainesville girls. A strong performance at Centex could give them some confidence, but it’ll be too little too late as far as rankings go.
So, about those three questions…
Can the Southeast hold these bids?
Yes, the Southeast can. All three of the current bidholding teams have shown the capacity to compete. Centex will afford them the opportunity to not only get out of region wins, but deal out of region losses to the very teams that stand to take bids from them. You can’t ask for more than that. After this, there can be no bitching and no complaining about the bid situation, because if the region loses them, it is because of a failure to perform. We are all wondering will they hold these bids and we can’t answer that. I do think they will lose one at Centex, though.
Has the Big Four become a Big Three?
If you look at the above, this is an easy yes. I don’t think you can rule Florida out as a team that could beat these teams, but if winning the region or a bid to Nationals requires beating two or all three? I just can’t see them doing it. That’s why they are in their own tier. They could ruin someone’s season, but Georgia, Florida State, and Central Florida have clearly shown themselves as the top three teams in the region and the three contending on the national scene.
Just how good are these teams?
I do believe these are all Top 25-30 teams in the country. Not a single one has shown the consistency to put them solidly in the elite, though I still feel like I would give the edge to Georgia, on their depth of talent. Lane Siedor, Hannah Leathers, Julia Fuster, and Emily Lloyd is a top four that can run with the nation’s best, which no other team can boast. After that, they have depth in Margie Quinn, Courtney Farrell, Katie Franchot, Anraya Palmer, and Kate Hines. On a good day, they are a team that could make Quarters. I don’t feel confident saying that for UCF or FSU, even with UCF’s showing at QCTU. If they do work at Centex, that will change my perspective.
All in all, the next three tiers of the Southeast haven’t seen as much movement as they have clarification. South Florida and Tulane seem to have separated themselves from the pack. They had one common opponent at Tally Classic: South Carolina, who Tulane beat 13-4 and South Florida beat 11-5. USF was 6-1 on the weekend, finishing 5th, while Tulane was 5-2, finishing 4th. Not a ton of differentiation there between the Scallywags and Muses. USF will be in Austin for Centex, a great opportunity for them. They will start in D-III, but it is very possible (maybe even expected) for them to win their way into D-II, where they’d likely see someone like Wash U or MIT. A win against a team of that level & ranking should give them the momentum they need going into the Series. Tulane Muses faces a unique problem, as they had an earlier tournament canceled and were unable to secure a spot somewhere else. Last I heard, they were trying to get into Freaknik, but were not having much success. If they fail to get their 10 games, which is looking very likely, it would take one of the region’s top teams out of the ranking picture and could make for some interesting seedings.
After that, it gets pretty confusing, as a group of six teams battle for regional rankings: (in order of USAU ranking) Tennessee, Auburn, GCSU, Georgia Tech, Emory, and Alabama. Tennessee’s only recorded games are still from FWC, where their small squad played USF and Williams close (and also got blown out by Williams), leaving them 3-3. Auburn’s record of 4-3 is all from Tally, though they played well at T-Town (unofficial games). They played USF twice, losing 7-11 and getting blanked 0-7, but nailed an important 9-5 win over GCSU. They will be going to two more tourneys: Terminus, where they have a chance to see solid competition, and Kentucky Classic, where they’ll see teams similarly ranked. That same GCSU team went 0-5 at Tally, though they lost to Notre Dame 8-9, Purdue 8-12, and Tulane 7-13, and they are still 8-5 this season. This lead to them being the two-seed overall (top of Pool B) at Southerns, so if they turn those close losses into wins, they could push up higher. Tech went 6-1 at Music City, a great weekend where their only loss was by a point to Florida. Overall, 12-3 (their other losses were by a point to South Carolina and 7-12 loss to GCSU) is a pretty good start for them. If they had won that GCSU game, they’d look very different, I think. Wreck will be looking to kick ass and take names at Freaknik. Emory is just 1-11, but Luna played well at unsanctioned Flick’N Nuts and has easily faced the strongest competition of any of these teams. Their 7-13 loss to Iowa State at Midwest Throwdown is a good sign, but their ugly 6-14 loss to Notre Dame is painful. They’ll be looking to come out of Southerns with a much prettier record. Bama played Tulane 7-10 at Tally, but also let Florida-B keep it close in an 8-7 win. They’ll be at Terminus next and I’d need them to show me some good wins to move them up.
Looking beyond to the next tier, Vanderbilt, Georgia State, and LSU would round things out. Here is how I’d rank them, with their USAU ranking in parentheses and their movement in these rankings indicated:
- 5. Tulane +1 (48)
- 6. South Florida -1 (49)
- 7. Georgia Tech (79)
- 8. Auburn (65)
- 9. GCSU (69)
- 10. Emory (80)
- 11. Tennessee NEW (63)
- 12. Alabama -1 (92)
- 13. Vanderbilt NEW (124)
- 14. Georgia State -2 (125)
- 15. LSU NEW (139)
What to Watch
3/23-3/24: Women’s College Centex (UCF, FSU, UF, USF –> WITH BIDS ON THE LINE!), College Terminus (UGA, Auburn, Bama, Vandy, Ole Miss), Southerns (GCSU, Emory)
3/30-3/31: Freaknik (GT, GSU, SCAD), Kentucky Classic (Auburn)
4/13-4/14: Southern Appalachian Conference Championships, Gulf Coast Conference Championships, Florida Conference Championships
4/27-4/28: Southeast Regional Championships