College Contenders vs. Pretenders

By: Jimmy Leppert

The 2015 USAU college regular season is over, the rankings and bid allocations are out, and the conference championships are right around the corner. Before the college post-season begins though, I’m going to sort out teams that I think have a legitimate shot at making a whole bunch of noise throughout the post-season, and those that could fall flat on their face.

Note: (M) denotes men’s division teams, (W) denotes women’s division teams.

Contenders

  • Pittsburgh (M)
  • UNC-Wilmington (M)
  • Texas A&M (M)
  • Wisconsin (M)
  • Oregon (W)
  • Stanford (W)
  • Virginia (W)
  • Notre Dame (W)

Starting with the men’s division teams, the first two contenders shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as both Pittsburgh and UNC-Wilmington sit atop the rankings, and met at the finals of Easterns a few weekends ago. While I wasn’t overly impressed with how either team actually played in the finals of Easterns, they’ve both shown tournament after tournament that they’re the teams you need to beat. Pitt is undefeated since Carolina Kickoff way back in January, and the same goes for Wilmington aside from the loss to Pittsburgh. I’m not sold on Pittsburgh meeting UNC-Wilmington in the finals yet, but so long as both get their jobs done leading up to Nationals, it should be the destiny of the tournament seeding.

Texas A&M may have only attended two tournaments this spring, and lost to both Pittsburgh and UNC-Wilmington at those tournaments, but at all other times has looked fantastic with the disc. Wisconsin meanwhile, has some of the best and most consistent defense in the nation. Yes, they have a lot of red-losses on their USAU team page, and their offense is questionable, but a strong defense should never be over-looked. Neither I think are a lock for semi-finals, but should they make it there I wouldn’t be surprised.

On the women’s side, once again two of the top teams in the rankings make my list. Oregon and Stanford, ranked first and third overall respectively in the USAU rankings, have been the best of the best in the division. Oregon and Stanford battled in great games at both Pres Day and the Stanford Invite. Oregon Fugue though has taken the most recent match-up at the Northwest Challenge. Stanford had some trouble ‘valuing the disc’ as some would say, in those losses to Oregon, but against other teams those problems didn’t present themselves as often. This is the most likely ending for the season in the women’s division I think, another re-match between these two teams.

Virginia had a very difficult Northwest Challenge, with a total of four losses including a bad one to Oregon late in the tournament. But they’ve also done very well against regional opponents, and teams like Stanford, Pittsburgh and Northeastern. Notre Dame has put together a 13-0 season, and only allowed double-digits twice. The biggest problem is, they’ve only played one other team within the top-20 of the final USAU rankings. Just how strong is this Notre Dame team? If these teams let me down over the coming week, I’ll be disappointed. But the strong seasons they’ve had to date have me leaning towards an interesting time in Milwaukee for them.

Pretenders

  • Florida (M)
  • Cincinnati (M)
  • Minnesota (M)
  • Whitman (W)
  • The New England teams: Dartmouth, Tufts, Northeastern (W)

Starting with the women’s division first this time, I have Whitman. They’re a good team that no-doubt deserves their ranking, or at least close to that spot, based on their season. But their struggles against their fellow Northwest teams has me wondering what regionals has in store for them, even with 5 total bids in their region alone. A poor showing could lead to a very difficult seeding-placement come Nationals, and a short tournament for this Whitman squad. Then I have the three teams from the New England region that ended up in the top 20 of the USAU rankings, and earned 2 total bids for their region: Dartmouth, Tufts and Northeastern. Their mixed results in cross-region play has me wondering if they’re really going to be much of anything come Nationals. And that’s if all three teams make it, Vermont and Harvard linger behind them in the rankings by a wide-margin.

Most concerning for Florida on the men’s side is the number of bids coming out of their region, their results against other top teams in their region, and their level of play. After a promising start at Warm Up, they’ve dropped most of their “big” games over the remainder of their season. Aside from the win over Carleton at Easterns, that has to be seen as a disappointing tournament for Florida. Cincinnati has been the subject of a lot of drama this season, and ended up ranked 12th with USAU, and earned their Ohio Valley region another bid to Nationals. That’s a whole other story. The rankings could help give them a higher seeding at Nationals though, should they qualify. That, most certainly, they will not live up to. Tulane is the highest ranked team they played, and Tulane sits low in their own region. Where they could end up, I do not think Cincinnati will live up to that. Lastly, Minnesota… who could play spoiler at North Central regionals in a few weekends, but with only two bids in that region, they’ve not lived up to the hype, nor the #19 ranked spot they’ve earned through USAU.

 

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One Comment

  1. Uh… I don’t know how you can list a team that’s only played one top-20 team as a contender. Swap Notre Dame for UBC. I think ND is more of a pretender than Whitman…

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