WHERE IS MY FFH!?

Loyal readers,

[Mic tap] Is this thing on?

Well, you may be wondering “Man, where is FFH at? We are a week from the College Championships!” Wonder no more. I’ll be heading up Women’s Division coverage for Ultiworld! I’ll be on the ground, in Madison, giving you the low down on who is doing what, talking to players and coaches, and hopefully making the tournament experience awesome. It’s my first time, so who knows.

That means you gotta hop over to Ultiworld to find my College Championshps covage, like this reaction piece to the seeding and pools! My twitter handle is still in play, so if you’re looking for live updates from Madison, make sure you give that a follow. I’ll have plenty of coverage leading up to the games next week and it’ll all be through Ultiworld.

Thanks to everyone! Special shout out to the Minnesota ladies, the Florida State ladies, and to Gwen Ambler, they’ve been awesome supporters of the blog!

Ask Not Who’s Callahan, But Whose Callahan

The Callahan Award is the biggest named award in Ultimate. While it doesn’t exactly make you an Ultimate legend, it certainly carries a lot of cachet and having it attached to the end of your name is akin to “Academy Award Winner” in Hollywood. People notice it and they weight it, an indicator that your playing ability is or was cream of the crop. As people are virtually unable to do, however, each person views that title from their own perspective. Therein lies the rub: what exactly does it mean to be a Callahan winner? Let’s see what the Callahan people (shouts to Charles Kerr for putting in so much work over the years) themselves have to say:

The Callahan Award has been established to recognize the most valuable players in men’s and women’s college ultimate. Each year the Callahan trophy is presented to the man and woman who combine superior athleticism with outstanding sportsmanship, leadership and dedication to the sport of ultimate.
In the eyes of his or her peers, the Callahan winner is the personification of the ideal ultimate player. (source)

There are four written and stated components to the award: superior athleticism, outstanding sportmanship, leadership, and dedication to the sport of Ultimate. Each of the past few years, the debate arises as to how much each of these components should be valued by voters. It hit a fever pitch in 2008 & 2010, when the polarizing Florida team sent two nominees, Kurt Gibson & Brodie Smith, who reigned as college Ultimate’s most dominant players on the field and personas off the field. For better or worse, neither won the award, with Joe Kershner from Arizona and Eli Friedman of Oregon taking home the prize. The argument, oversimplified and paraphrased, was that Kurt & Brodie’s intense overqualification for “superior athleticism” and their dedication (at least, we can see now they’ve been pretty dedicated) did not outweigh perceived deficiencies of leadership (the Regionals choke for Brodie) and sportsmanship (Kurt’s yelling and Brodie’s Brodie-ing). Translation: People thought Kurt was unspirited and Kershner was very much spirited, while also meeting the other qualifications; rinse and repeat.

The Callahan trophy, with 2009 winner Will Neff

A common, and true, refrain is that the Callahan is not an MVP award; it is simply not awarded to the player judged most valuable to their team. Most of the major American sports leagues recognized they could A) be more specific in their awards if there were more of them and B) monetize the awards via sponsorships, and have multiple awards. The NFL is so confused, that they have a bunch of different MVP awards as voted on by different people. The NHL has an award for the MVP (they actually have two, with one voted on by the players), an award for the statistically best performing player, an award for the most prolific scorer, an award for “the player who exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability” (The Lady Byng) and one for “the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” The NHL has all their bases covered!

What we have is one award, four components, and lots of definitions. Not unlike an argument over “best perspective”, nobody is really right, even though everyone thinks they are. So what’s a voter to do*!? *Go vote though, once you figure this stuff out.

Beyond the issue of us finding a definition, I have other problems with the current format. Ultiworld posted an editorial piece endorsing Pittsburgh’s Tyler Degirolamo for this year’s Callahan Award for the Open Division. A number of opponents questioned the lack of comment on anything outside of performance. Charlie Eisenhood, who wrote the post and is the site’s editor, was able to create a solid basis to support his statements about TD’s on field ability. When questioned about his sportsmanship, dedication, and leadership? Not so easy.

Even now, we aren’t at a point where most voters can justifiable say they’ve seen a candidate play; I’d say roughly 40% of voters can even spell DeGirolamo. I haven’t seen all the candidates play in person. Of the short list from each side, I’ve at least watched game footage or in person for every candidate. More footage is available each season, allowing us to make a more informed decision…on a single component. This brings me to my real question: how am I expected to make a judgment on the other three? I sort of consider myself part of the Ultimate media. I’ve invested time and effort into research and finding more information about teams and players all year. If I can’t reliably make a call on those other three components, how can a sophomore at SUNY-New Paltz be asked to do so?

We have a player voted award, which means the people with the most limited but most intense perspective in the game have the voting power in their hand. Working within the constructs of a team and a season may hinder the scope of their view of the season, but it also gives players an intimate knowledge of those things they do know: the leadership of their own Captain, the sportsmanship of their regional nemesis, the dedication of their club teammate. There was hope to have the Skyd Five Callahan Nominee process highlight and follow the top players, but I don’t really feel like I know any more about them this year than any other.

As hard as these questions are to actually answer, it is no wonder people would rather switch off their brains and vote for best highlight video (outlier: George Stubbs’s pretty crappy video).

If you’re looking for solutions, mine would perhaps be to split the two. Let’s vote for the most valuable player for the Gibson-Simpson Award (that’s a combo of Kurt Gibson and Jason Simpson, two of the most noted Callahan snubs) and for the Callahan Award for the person who best exemplifies the Spirit of the Game combined with a high level of play. To me, that’s a good solution. However, I can see others who would scoff at the notion (I’m picturing disagreement from the noble Gwen Ambler, and the resulting blushing I would do at such a scolding) of even awarding a player’s ability while ignoring their other impacts on the sport. Why would we award such a thing, and risk making the face of Ultimate someone disconnected from SOTG altogether? Alas, I’m just a blogger, and don’t have all the answers.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. We’ve managed for nearly 18 years without screwing it up too bad, right? In the end, it mostly works out, doesn’t it? Is finishing second really so bad? I dunno. Ultimate is attracting more attention and it might mean the award becomes more and more meaningful.

These days, it even gets you interviewed by the pretty female sideline reporter

This post got very meandering and rambling. I originally just wanted to complain that I was annoyed I was being asked, as a voter, to do so freaking much. Mostly stuff I couldn’t do, like figure out if so and so was spirited. “Oh man, he spiked it in that one game! EXHIBIT A! *Marks it in the spreadsheet*” or “One of my friends told me she pointed out to someone she skied that she had dirt in her hair, very spirited!” Am I crazy here? I just want to know, not only who is the Callahan winner, but just whose Callahan winner they are.

Nexxgen Women’s Ultimate

Nexgen

The Nexgen Tour has emerged over the past two years as a household name in Ultimate. Aside from winning the Callahan, it might be the best way for Ultimate fans to find out who you are. Taking a cut of some of the best Open college players, Nexgen travels the country playing elite club teams, filming and streaming their games in high quality video. In order to make the team more fun for the fans and expose more players to the masses, they tend to pick from teams around the country. They also add an international player and usually someone from a smaller school who was maybe overlooked during the season.

What they don’t have is a Women’s tour. This isn’t really about that, because I’m not here for that argument. This is about, if they did – and I could totally see Without Limits joining forces with them to try and make this happen – who would be on it? Which 15 college women’s players have the skills, flair, and geographic distribution to form a badass team of collegiate superstars? Here’s my guess at it.

Claire Chastain, Nexgen tailor made, throwing a low release flick

Claire Chastain (UNC-Wilmington) – This was the first person I thought of. There’s some others – who will come later on the list – with arguments for the title, but she may very well be the most exciting player in Women’s college Ultimate. You never really know what’s going to happen when she’s got the disc or when it is in the air, headed in her direction. A full arsenal of the throws that make crowds go “Oooooh” and all the big layouts you could ask for. There’s a reason she was the only active college womens player invited to the Team USA World Games tryouts.

Paige Soper (Ohio State) – Coming off her huge breakout season last year, “Diddy”‘s legend has grown this season, culminating her Skyd 5 Callahan candidate selection. Hyper competitive, Diddy brings fire and intensity to the field. Her throws are textbook and she fears no team, matchup, or throwing situation. She’d make a great addition.

Magon Liu (Iowa State) – I’ve made pretty clear my fandom of Magon’s game. Whether it is on frozen fields with Iowa State at Midwest Throwdown, or in the wind and sun of Sarasota with CLX, Mags is a big play waiting to happen. Her layouts are the ones where you turn to someone on the sideline and go “I didn’t think she had any chance of getting to that.” She’s also got that trusty high release backhand. Yes, there’s definitely arguments for Becca Miller or Cami Nelson, but if you want to leave fans wide-eyed, I’m taking Mags.

Anna Reed, possible robot, with a dirty low release backhand

Anna Reed (Carleton) – There probably isn’t a more dominant handler in the college women’s scene right now than Anna Reed. With a nuclear-level flick bomb, she can essentially alter the field of play. She might be a robot – in which case, she might not be eligible – but she also just might be a total badass with a disc in her hand. A lot of Nexgen highlights could start her getting a great D, picking it up, and boosting it with gusto.

Lien Hoffman (Northwestern) – Aww man, those first steps are killer. With Anna Reed, Diddy, and company hucking to her, Lien might not be the most exciting player to watch, but that’s because her defender probably won’t be in the shot anymore. Batman-like disappearing abilities aside, Lien is a well rounded cutter, able to hurt you underneath too, and is more than willing to take on the opposition’s top cutter when coming down on the pull.

Michela Meister, alliteration inspiring beast, with an extension grab

Michela Meister (Stanford) – The Stanford Superfly superstar seemingly shows sensational skills…ok, alliteration be damned, this is who I’d pick to fight with Claire Chastain for “most exciting player”. And maybe Bailey Zahniser. But anyway, Michela is the “do everything” stud who would probably play everywhere on the field for the Nexgen ladies.

Shellie Cohen (North Carolina) – If you didn’t think Shellie would appear on this list, you’re probably a first time reader. Her play spoke pretty loud and clear at Nationals last year, and she continues her dominance this season. Her tall frame gives her some of the biggest throws in the country, and she’s just as capable of skying for the big backhand as she is putting it up. I’m also thinking she’d be pretty entertaining in front of the camera for nexgen’s segments between games.

Lane Siedor, versatile star of Georgia and Ozone, with a layout grab

Lane Siedor (Georgia) – Did someone order more tall handlers? Well, college handlers, anyway. Lane sees tons of touches in the middle of Georgia’s offense, scanning the field while her mark stalls away in vain. But when I saw her in Sarasota this past year playing for Ozone, she spent most of her time downfield, digging up discs before they hit grass with giant layouts. Poised veteran with the disc, big time playmaker without it.

India Stubbs (Harvard) – We need someone who hasn’t gotten a lot of exposure because their team isn’t on the National scene. Hello India Stubbs. She gives you the name recognition you’d like, carrying the Stubbs-gene, and she’s a very talented player whose experience playing on stud-filled teams (Junior Worlds, Bucket) would let her integrate quickly. You could also try Sasha Bugler from Maryland, who’s a confident break thrower that plays killer downfield defense, or if your heart is set on D3 (like Tommy Li), Claire Baecher from Williams is a hell of a player.

Catherine Hui, suspected teleporter, with a grab at Club Championships, as photographed by Brandon Wu

Catherine Hui (British Columbia) – She may very well be this year’s Callahan frontrunner. Frontrunner is a good term, too, because she’s usually running way out in front of her defender. I’m not sure if she is cutting or teleporting, leaving a comical trail of roadrunner dust in her wake. She was pegged by Skyd as one of the best targets at Nationals last year. No, not college nationals, club nationals. Yeah, she’ll be a highlight reel feature.

Fuguers (Oregon) – Maybe you’re wondering at this point “Uh, where are the players from last year’s college Final??” Well, it is their own fault there’s too many of them. Luckily, Nexgen takes two Oregon players, so we better too. Oregon alone brings Bailey Zahniser, Sophie ❤ Darch, Kimber Coles, Jesse Shofner, and Bethany Kaylor to the table. The first three in particular jump out to me and it is hard to pick two of them. Bailey’s Skyd 5 Callahan candidate selection and penchant to take super aggressive choices should get her a spot, and while my heart – anybody who knows me can attest – would choose Sophie a million times out of a million, Kimber’s fiery and confident style is the kind of personality and player that the Tour could use. Plus, she’s already traveled with them, helping out behind the scenes. Time to get in front of the camera, Kimber. Bailey Zahniser and Kimber Coles, folks.

Sarah Davis (Washington) – The woman known as “CO” is the Callahan nominee from the reigning champs, and their roster is stacked with exciting players. They have four U23 players (Davis, Shira Stern, Alysia Letourneau, and Amanda Kostic), plus Lucy Williams and Barb Hoover are extremely tough matchups. You could get into a bit of  Fugue-ish situation here, but CO is the pick, with her athleticism, pretty puts, and “do anything to get the disc” cutting.

Claudia Tajima, better known as Zilla, demonstrating why she is better known as Zilla

Claudia Tajima (Tufts) – You didn’t think I’d leave out the last Callahan frontrunner, did you? To be honest, I’m a bigger fan of Hailey Alm, and their teammate Emily Shields is pretty awesome, too, but if you want the type of plays that will make Tyler Kinley go “Let’s get another look at that,” then you want Tajima. Another fiercely competitive personality who fears no match up, Tajima has the puts and the defense to fill in nicely with this group.

We leave the final spot for the international choice.

Of course, there will be players I could have chosen, but didn’t. Chelsea Twohig, Sunny Harris, Becca Miller, Biz Cook, Alicia Thompson, and Meagan Cousins fans probably won’t be my friend anymore. But tell me you wouldn’t tune in to see if this squad could beat Fury or Riot?

Open Bid Watch: Contenders Emerging

In our first look at the Open side of the rankings, we’ll see the aftermath of two notable tournaments: Stanford Invite and Tally Classic. Bids in the men’s competition are spread out far and wide, meaning nobody has a firm grip on ’em. After the first edition of the ranks, seven of the ten regions had snagged extra invites to the dance. Not the same seven or the same bid numbers, but still seven regions this time around and a lot of the bidholders were in action.

Top 25

March 13th Open Rankings

The second biggest mover in the top 25 is the most notable: Oregon Ego. That’s what happens when you win the biggest tournament of the year to date, with a 6-1 record including a decisive win over #1 Wisconsin, wins against #5 Carleton, #6 Arizona, and #12 Tufts, and their only loss coming by a point to Carleton. All in all, good enough for #2, just behind the Wisconsin team they beat at the Stanford Invite. The host team, Stanford Bloodthirsty, made a big 42 spot jump into the top 20 and a strength bid, based on some big wins after a quiet beginning of the season, and close losses to the Invite’s elite competition.

Three teams you might wonder about appear in the rankings: Eastern Michigan, Northern Iowa, and Simon Fraser. UNI stands on a 7-1 record with wins over Iowa, Missouri, Wash U, and a blowout of a hyped Iowa State squad, all from Huck Finn; their only loss is a one point 8-9 fall to Kansas there. EMU sits atop the Great Lakes undefeated from Cat Fight, but will be at Centex, where things could change quickly, but they are sitting in a nice spot. Simon Fraser, out of British Columbia, went undefeated, cruising on their way to winning PLU BBQ, including a 14-7 knockout versus Western Washington. Not sure the Clams will stay around or where they are playing next, so they’ll remain a bit of a mystery.

Bid Watch

  • AC (1): #3 North Carolina
  • GL (1): #13 Eastern Michigan
  • ME (1): #32 Connecticut
  • NC (4): #1 Wisconsin, #5 Carleton, #8 Minnesota, #16 Northern Iowa
  • NE (2): #6 Tufts, #9 Harvard
  • NW (2): #2 Oregon, #19 Whitman
  • OV (2): #4 Pittsburgh, #17 Ohio
  • SC (2): #10 Texas, #14 Colorado
  • SE (3): #7 Florida State, #11 Florida, #15 Central Florida
  • SW (2): #12 Arizona, #18 Stanford

The Atlantic Coast, New England, and South Central lose bids while the North Central, Southeast, and Northwest take ’em. UC-Davis, Victoria, Texas A&M, Williams, UNC-Wilmington, and Princeton are all out. Connecticut, Whitman, Central Florida, Northern Iowa, Oregon, and Stanford are in. Things get a little wonky with it being so early (example: Oregon not being ranked previously) but they are settling in a bit.

Texas A&M and UNC-Wilmington are the two obvious losers here, with Dozen going 2-5 and the Seamen 3-4 at Stanford. The former did get a win over Central Florida and UNC-W took out Texas and Arizona, but all of those teams had tough weekends. Davis’s loss became Bloodthirsty’s gain, which is likely all the same to the Dogs on the bid front.

The only tournament of note this weekend is Centex, with enough teams in the mix to make an impact. Arizona and Texas will be in attendance (each with an autobid in a two bid region), as will Harvard, holding a strength bid from New England. The lone other bid is Eastern Michigan’s Great Lakes autobid. The top contenders from the field will be #22 Texas A&M, #25 Georgia Tech, and #28 Kansas. If any of these three can put together some wins and stay close with the highly ranked teams, things could get interesting. After that, Easterns is on the horizon.

I like this side of the #bidwatch, because it is exciting! Can Ohio hold onto a vital second bid for the Ohio Valley? Can the North Central be a four bid region again? Will the Northwest finish with only a pair? How many bids can a deep Southeast really hold? Will Texas A&M be able to earn the South Central a third bid? There are a lot of questions to answer as the Series dates approach, but the answers are slowly emerging.

Pittsburgh: Why I’m Not Worried

Image

Defeated Pitt players walk off amidst the celebration of Wisconsin’s 13-11 win at Florida: A Warm Up Affair 2013.

 

Pittsburgh’s rise through the ranks of college Ultimate culminated in a Championship last year. Returning their two stars and a bevy of future names, En Sabah Nur was the unquestioned favorite coming into the ’12-’13 season. However, the fall showed some chinks in the armor – a loss to TAMU at MLC and a loss to Carnegie Mellon at Steel City – that lead to some questions about them. People were talking. With every reason to roll through this year to another title, suddenly there were some doubts.

A Warm Up Affair in the books, the Steel City gang didn’t answer those questions. A surprise 13-7 loss to a Florida team that didn’t make nationals last year opened their weekend. They’d add two losses to Wisconsin (13-11 and 15-9), and the 13-11 game didn’t look as close to me as that score indicated. Tack on four wins by three points or less (over Central Florida, Dartmouth, Carleton, and Florida again) and the picture you’re painting starts to get a bit darker.

Image

Colin Camp gets over Marcus Ranii-Dropcho for a huge grab

 

Watching them against Wisconsin, they looked slower and even unsure of themselves. Degirolamo was unguardable and Max Thorne was effective, but after that it got a bit dicey. When I look at Pitt’s roster, I see playmaker after playmaker. Having to match up the trio of Tyler, Alex, and Max is difficult, but asking your 4-7 to cover Dillon, Earles, Kauffman, Saul, Bender, Bearsley, Brenner, and Ranii-Dropcho is nightmarish… in theory. Those guys struggled to make plays against the Hodag defense. Dropcho had the unenviable task of guarding Colin Camp – who has developed into a player to match what I originally considered overhype – and struggled in the matchup, including some nasty skies. Wisconsin may be the best team in the country, and holds the top spot in the collective pundit rankings right now, so I don’t want to judge Pitt purely based on this, but it didn’t look like the Pitt we expected to see in south Florida. The Hodags looked like a team that wanted it and Pittsburgh looked like a team that was scared of it.

So why am I not worried?

I’m not entirely sure Pitt did want it. A number of points went without Degirolamo or Thorne(s), Saul seemed to have some spells without playing, among others. There wasn’t an aggressiveness or killer instinct. There wasn’t even too much swagger. I saw some unfamiliar faces, numbers, and names darting around the field, even in a game where the scoreboard never said they were totally out of it, where they were under the lights and being watched, with a chance to make a statement. That statement, to me, was “We’re fine with this.” And why shouldn’t they be?

Pitt has always been a confident team and they have cause to be. Their region has one primary challenger in Ohio, a team that probably has the studs to match up with Pitt but lacking in the depth to hang. Penn State & CMU have improved this year, but Ohio State is rebuilding and Dayton is just getting the hang of being good. There’s little reason to doubt their spot at Nationals, regardless of whether or not Ohio and Co. can wrangle up a second and/or third bid. My bet is that Pittsburgh is playing this whole season thinking only of Madison. Develop your depth, perfect your execution, grow your program, and peak when it counts. Let people worry about you, encourage your opponents to underestimate you, and build a nice “us against the world” narrative if you need to.

I’m not worried about Pitt because I don’t think they are worried at all. My money is still on them to be the last team standing once the dust settles.

QCTU 13 Women’s: Saturday Notes

It was a very interesting day in Charlotte for Queen City Tune-Up. The tone was set early with Central Florida Sirens upsetting Michigan Flywheel, nabbing a rare 5 over 1 seed victory that helped power their run to the second spot in Pool A and send Flywheel to the consolation bracket. Carleton rose from the 4 seed to win Pool D while an injury-riddled Ohio State went 2-2 and finished third. The only one seed to win their pool was Iowa St., who I’d pick (along with Carleton) for the strongest onfield performance today. I’ll go into more detail with a full writeup in the oncoming days. There will be some video coverage from me and Ultiworld had their cameras out as well. If today was any indication, it should have some good action.

Tomorrow’s Pre-Quarters set up UCF vs. OSU, Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern, Tufts vs. UNC-W, and Virginia vs. Wisconsin. I think UCF goes to the wall with OSU before Fever takes it. Pittsburgh takes care of business with Northwestern, Tufts takes care of Seaweed, and Wisconsin beats Virginia in a defensive battle. The one seeds all win, save UNC who falls to Tufts. Carleton finally runs into someone who can match up with their top end talent and falls to Iowa and Iowa State efficiently handles a tired Tufts team. That repeats itself in the finals and Woman Scorned walks away with the QCTU title.

QCTU Women’s 2013: What I Want To Watch

Queen City Tune Up has risen to be one of the top tournaments in the country, and the field on both the Open and Women’s sides are full of great teams from the east coast, southeast, and midwest. Here’s a breakdown of the games I’m most looking forward to seeing on Saturday.

Round 1

North Carolina vs. Washington University (Pool C)

Round 1 is tough to find the right match ups, but I’m looking to see how possible upstart 4 seeds do. WuWu had a nice string of appearances at Nationals before last season, where they fell one point shy in the Regional Final. Meanwhile, North Carolina lost some big pieces from last year’s Quarter’s team, but they have the QCTU crown and won’t want to give it up easily. The last time these squads faced off was the same tournament last season and UNC waltzed 15-3. Lisa Couper and Shellie Cohen dominate touches for Pleiades and Lindsay Lang will be helping continue to cultivate their incoming talent. UNC had some struggles at CCC this Fall and I’ll be looking to see if they’ve developed depth. The word on WuWu’s Danielle Blatt is that she’s dangerous with a disc in her hand. This will be a good test for both teams.

Virginia vs. Carleton College (Pool D)

Virginia keeps chugging along, looking to solidify themselves as a year in, year out contender, while Carleton is looking to get back after their streak of Nationals appearances was broken last year. Old blood vs. new blood! Alika Johnston is obviously a stud and her quickness allows to gain short yardage all over the field as well as crucial resets. Virginia made a run last year to Semis in Charlotte and has solid early returns at CCC, Virginia Fusion, and their home tournament, but I feel like the losses of Devon Erickson, Shannon McVey, and Maggie Johns will have a significant impact. Carleton returns their stud duo of Julia Snyder and Anna Reed. Definitely a possible upset and in my mind, the game to watch this round.

Round 2

Michigan vs. Wisconsin (Pool B)

Pool B has a top 3 (Michigan, UNC, and Wisconsin) that could each win the pool and possibly the whole tournament. Both are established programs and have players rising to more prominent roles after the last crop of stars moved on. Callahan winner Paula Seville isn’t the only Flywheel lady gone, as DeLave, Chang, and the super duper lovely Marissa Mead make for big holes to fill. I’ll be curious to see how Bella Donna replaces not just the field-opening break throws of Emilie McKain, but the fire and passion she brought onto the field. They tend to be athletic and physical, giving them an edge at these early season affairs. Upset alert!

QCTUPreviewCassie

OSU Fever will likely be without the impact play of Cassie Swafford in Charlotte

Ohio State vs. Florida State (Pool C)

For personal reasons, I really want to see this one. As a Southeast coach, I’m very curious to see how Florida State – who seems on the precipice of a breakout and have claimed the #2 spot in the region – stacks up against high level competition. I’m also excited to watch Sassy Cassie Swafford return to the field for OSU [Update: Swafford will likely not play this weekend]. While I expect a deep Fever team that experienced very few losses from last season to control this game, I’ll be watching to see how Megan Reeves and Florida State respond to this challenge. Plus, if Diddy Soper and Reeves match each other up, that’ll be a ton of fun.

Round 3

Georgia vs. Delaware (Pool A)

Southeast bias here. I’m also really high on Dawgma this year. Dominating a matchup like this could really help push them towards high expectations on a national level.

Pittsburgh vs. Florida (Pool C)

Pittsburgh is a team on the rise, adding a veteran presence in former Flywheel playmaker Kelsey DeLave, and capitalizing on Pittsburgh’s awesome youth Ulti scene. Florida is a team that is still searching for their identity this year, but with top talent that knows what it takes to succeed in Jackie Fane and Jenna Dahl. Not only Southeast bias, but in an effort to destroy what tiny shreds of credibility I have, I should also note I tweeted that Pittsburgh’s club team, Hot Metal, was the best looking team at Club Championships. Still pulling for FUEL to help push the SE towards that elusive second bid.p

Florida State vs. Carleton (Pool D)

Same stories as before for both.

Round 4

Dawgma's top talent helps power some strong lines

Dawgma’s top talent helps power some strong lines

Iowa vs. Georgia (Pool A)

There’s no game I’d rather be at this round. Chelsea Twohig is the type of player you make a point to watch, plus Iowa’s a well put together program that doesn’t get intimidated. Georgia has a chance to really prove themselves with a win over a team like Saucy Nancy. Georgia’s top 7 are an impressive group, anchored by the SE’s best woman in Lane Siedor, as well as Emily Lloyd, Hannah Leathers, Margie Quinn, and shutdown artist Julia Fuster. They’ve had years of stability with underrated coach Amble Johnson. Opportunity knocks with this one.

All of Them (Pool D)

Let’s be real: I dunno what to make of this pool. I’m thinking Carleton emerges, Virginia disappoints (though they defy my expectations every time, I gotta stop sleeping on them), but Ohio State proves themselves elite. But what the heck will Florida State do? See, I’m stumped. So a round of OSU vs. Carleton and Virginia vs. FSU should help clear a lot of that up for me.

Round 5

Michigan vs. North Carolina (Pool B)

Usually the most exciting round with 1s vs 2s, I’m actually expecting most 1 seeds to have a pretty firm grip on their respective pools. That is, except in Pool B. These two teams actually remind me a lot of each other, what with their constant restocking of the talent pool and usually some tall handler casually tossing backhand arounds with their size and boosting big hucks. If Pleiades takes care of UCF and has momentum from a win of Wisco, I’d put money on them to snag the pool.

Ohio State vs. Virginia (Pool D)

Ok, contradicting almost everything else I’ve written about this pool, now that I’ve sufficiently disrespected Virginia Hydra, it is safe to assume they will make me look stupid and give Ohio State their first challenge of the day.

I’ll be up in Charlotte, probably helping with Skyd, and possibly armed with a video camera. I’ll also probably stop by the Open side to visit with my boys from Ohio State, Cincinnati, and some other top teams, so tune in for more senseless commentary on who knows what Ultimate goodness.