This is the biggest weekend in the college Ultimate regular season. A number of tournaments take place this weekend, but four stand out. Well, really one huge tournament stands out, but a few others will be worth nothing. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action this weekend, shall we?
The crown jewel in Without Limits’ and Michelle Ng’s lovely tournament collection (seriously, cudos to Michelle, the amazing sacrifices she makes in service to women’s Ultimate, and the impact she has on the season), Centex is a chance for contenders to emerge for the title. There are teams who have been inconsistent, teams who have broken out, and teams fighting for bids (#bidwatch!). It’ll be a Who’s Who in Austin, with only Oregon, UBC, and Washington missing out on the party, as far as big time Nationals contenders go. I think I have covered a good amount in this post, but there’s also previews from the pros (Skyd, Skyd – DIII).
Some confident teams will be still working and developing their rotation in anticipation of the Series, which could skew the results, but don’t underestimate the power of pride and of intimidation. Teams like Santa Barbara, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Stanford are looking to prove something. Having the mental edge over your regional opponents or those you may face in Madison can be big. We’ll see how the conditions and the pressures impact teams.
Plus, there’s the Dance Competition. After watching the submission videos, early favorites in my mind are Michigan Flywheel, Ohio State Fever, Stanford Superfly, and Colorado Kali. Sleeper pick? Arizona State.
Perhaps smaller than usual, College Terminus will pit some of the top Southeast teams against teams from New England and other regions. Georgia is the heavy favorite going into this weekend, a Nationals level team facing off against primarily regional opponents. Williams and Middlebury venture down from the NE region and look to score wins and perhaps a shot at Georgia. Williams has just one loss on the season – 7-13 to Central Florida – and mostly dominated competition last time they were in the south at Florida Winter Classic. Middlebury has yet to record a sanctioned game, so this will be their first true tournament appearance. Tulane Muses, recently added to the tournament, are in a very similar situation to their showing at Tally Classic: some solid teams out of region, some teams they want to beat up on in region, and one Southeast top dog they want to prove they can hang against.
Looking just at Southeast, Auburn, Vanderbilt, and Alabama will all be in action. All four SE teams wound up in the same pool, so this will be a proving ground for the upcoming Series. These three Gulf Coast teams are looking to set themselves up for better seeding for their Conference Championship, and get past any mental roadblocks their past results have created.
Games to watch: Auburn vs. Vanderbilt (12:00 PM), Tulane vs. Oberlin (1:30 PM), Georgia vs. Middlebury, Williams vs. Tulane (3:00 PM).
A large 32 team field will do battle at Chicago Invite, with Great Lakes and South Central regionals teams trying to build for runs in their respective regions. Valparaiso and Kansas are the one-seeds in the power pools, each having strong seasons so far. Valpo is the top ranked USAU team from the Great Lakes and Kansas is the second team out of the South Central, mostly behind big performances at Midwest Throwdown. There, Kansas upset Wisconsin and Valparaiso topped Wash U, and each put up good results against other regional competition. Illinois is an interesting team, coming off a win over Texas and a one point loss to Michigan at Music City. Purdue has also shown themselves solid, with a marquee win over Wash U, and they are capable of beating teams of this quality. Be wary of the weather!
Games to Watch: Purdue vs. St. Louis (12:00 PM), Valparaiso vs. Purdue (1:30 PM), Kansas vs. Illinois (3:00 PM).
An interesting field of regional competitors from a few different regions will meet up in Statesboro, GA. I’m not sure seeding means much going into this one. The number one seed overall is Chicago, who traveled to Cali for the Stanford Open to start the year, getting a pair of wins and some close games. GCSU takes the second seed, and they will be looking to rebound from a winless weekend in Tallahassee. This is a gritty team with great chemistry that started off the season very well, so don’t surprised to see them turn it on again. Carleton Eclipse, the second women’s team from Carleton College, also traveled to the Stanford Open, where they went 3-4, and also have a 5th place finish at Queen City Open. They have a very tough two-seed in Towson, who has lost three games this season by a combined total of four points. Emory rounds out the top seeds, a team with very few sanctioned wins (1-11), but having faced very stiff competition so far this year at FWC and Midwest Throwdown. We’ll see if these experiences have prepared them to match up with a different level of competition.
Other teams to watch include Virginia Tech (5-2, wins over Delaware and Cornell), Mary Wash (4-3, wins over Wake and George Washington), Duke (4-3, 4th place at Queen City Open, win over Carleton Eclipse), Princeton (6-1, only given up more than four points once), and South Carolina (7-7, wins over Georgia Tech and Georgetown).
Games to watch: Emory vs. Princeton (9 AM), Chicago vs. South Carolina (10:45 AM), Emory vs. Duke (12:30 PM), Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina (2:15 PM), Chicago vs. Virginia Tech, Carleton-B vs. Towson, GCSU vs. Mary Wash (4:00 PM).