Seven On – Woah Stanford & Centex

by Jim

The results are in for Stanford, and I can’t do predictions. Professional ultimate is the talk of the town again. Plus looking at Centex, and a few things to share.

Hello, this is a feature about ultimate frisbee that will run on a weekly basis. In it, I’ll recap the week that was, what’s coming up, and anything else that’s going on in only an amazing seven thoughts. Pretty incredible.

The featured image comes courtesy of Major League Ultimate’s Facebook page, apparently photo credits haven’t been showing up thus far, so looking into that. Also if anyone knows how to make the ‘Continue Reading…’ portion show up on each front page post, that’d be great… can’t figure that out either.

1. My Predictions Sucked (aka Ego takes Stanford Invite)

Well I was wrong. While Oregon did lose to Carleton College in pool play, they were able to make it past Wisconsin in the quarterfinals, and then escaped past a surprise Tufts team to face off again with CUT in the finals. And this time Ego took the win, handing CUT a 15-11 defeat. Aside from the finish, the rest of the tournament had a few surprises as well. Starting in pool play, Texas failing to win a game on Saturday was most surprising – though they did rebound to take 10th place by going through UCF and Whitman but falling to North Carolina.  North Carolina did play well in pool play Saturday, including giving Pittsburgh a scare in their last pool game, but fell to Colorado Mamabird in pre-quarters. This was their first true test at the top-level opponents this season, and will presumably make adjustments heading into the remainder of the season. The other big surprise was Tufts, and how well they played throughout the weekend, finishing in 4th after taking Oregon to a 15-13 game in semi-finals. Aside from winning Pool D, they also took down Mambird on Sunday, putting themselves and their region in a strong position for a strength bid so long as Harvard finishes the season strong. The Wisconsin Hodags also finish the weekend looking much more beatable then they have, falling twice – once to Oregon in the bracket, and another to Whitman during pool play. I’ve heard that it’s their offensive system that when properly defended, can give the Hodags fits in terms of trying to punch in the score; though their defense remains as great as ever.

2.  Stanford Highlights

Already, there have been two great videos from the Stanford Invite floating around the internet. One is a highlight video from Scott Roeder, set to a Macklemore beat. The video is edited unlike the typical highlight video, and doesn’t focus on one team. It reminds me a lot of this David Zucker video showcasing the NexGen team playing Philly Southpaw. And with the NexGen Network in full gear, taping a ton of games from Stanford, comes this video of a HUGE layout D by Ian Campbell of Oregon Ego on Carleton College. This starts becoming the best time of the college season, as plays like these start to be recorded and passed around on a regular basis.

3. Huck Finn Results

At Huck Finn, weather was an issue here again, as it has been for the Midwest tournaments thus far this season. The length of the games was messed with, and along with the sloppy conditions, the teams that graced quarterfinals were a bit surprising. Illinois and Iowa, the two highly ranked teams going into this past weekend, found themselves outside of quarterfinals while Luther was bounced by Kansas early Sunday morning. Missouri would end up beating Kansas to take home the championship, and while it does help both teams in the rankings it didn’t do enough to propel them into strength bid territory. In fact the only team that sits in that territory now is Northern Iowa, who lost to Kansas in semi-finals. Most disappointing was St. John’s, a usually strong North Central D3 contender. They failed to win a game in pool play, and won twice on Sunday to leave with 21st place. As a result, they dropped a full 19 places in the D3 rankings, and lost the North Central  a strength bid to D3 Nationals. Are we to read much into the play of Illinois, Iowa and Luther? Either they stopped playing after being knocked out of championship contention on Sunday, or score reporter is incomplete, but it seems only Illinois finished the weekend with a few wins. These might be different teams come nicer weather, but this had to have not only shaken their confidence but it also puts them in poor positioning with few tournaments left. There isn’t much time left to make up the ground to get a strength bid for their respective regions.

4. New USAU Open Rankings

A few surprises in this week’s USAU Open Rankings. Wisconsin, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Carleton College all remain in the top five, but North Carolina remains as #3 despite not making it past pre-quarters, though they did dominate the 9th place bracket. Taking a look at the ‘Wildcard Watch’ though and we that’s where it gets most interesting; the North Central region, as in the past, currently holds four bids to with Wisco, CUT, Minnesota and the surprise Northern Iowa – look for Iowa and possibly Luther challenge for the fourth bid shall they hold onto it. The Southeast currently holds three bids, with Florida State, Florida and Central Florida sitting in those spots for now – Georgia and Georgia Tech would like a shot at one of those teams for sure. Now for a quick rundown of the other regions: with a strong Easterns, UNC-W could help get the Atlantic Coast another bid; who is Eastern Michigan? They’ll be at Centex, so maybe we’ll get a good look at them, their previous tournament being Cat Fight 2013. D3 looks to be strong for the Metro East this year; many figured Dartmouth would be a top team out of the New England region, but so far it’s Tufts and Harvard doing enough for two bids for themselves, will Dartmouth do enough in the closing weeks? Washington and Victoria haven’t been lights out this season, and thus are looking at Oregon and Whitman securing bids for the Northwest, don’t think they’ll be able to make up that ground; Penn State and Carnegie-Mellon are in the same boat with Pittsburgh and Ohio in the Ohio Valley region; Texas A&M is hoping for a big rebound at Centex in hopes of getting back a South Central region strength bid; and lastly, you’ve got UC-Davis, Las Positas and Arizona State hoping for another chance at getting the Southwest a third bid. In the end, I think the way bid allocation looks now won’t be changing much come season’s end.

5.  “What Do We Stand For?”

As an ultimate fan, player, etc… you should head over to Skyd Magazine and read the piece by Ben Van Heauvelen titled, “What Do We Stand For?” with a strong opinion on what happens to the sport of ultimate as it becomes professionalized. Please take the time to read the entire piece.

6. Looking at Centex

This year’s Centex doesn’t seem as high-powered as it was in recent memory. But that doesn’t stop the tournament from being important, just on a different level. As seen in the USAU rankings, there are a still some battles to be had in determining who ends up with the strength bids at the end of the season. For teams like Georgia Tech, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas a strong showing this weekend would go a long way in helping out their cause. If any of these teams can rise up to win their pool, they’re guaranteed a birth into the championship bracket, but without a pool win they’ll most likely be put against each other in the crossover games. The pool #1 seeds, Arizona, Texas, Harvard and Texas A&M holding their ground should be their top priority. Only A&M currently sits outside of a strength bid currently, though not by much. After a couple of close losses at Stanford Invite, they should be able to do work in pool play this weekend. But the probable crossover matchup with Texas is going to be a huge, as losing that game would set them up on a difficult path come the championship bracket.  Since my predictions weren’t very good last week, time to make amends. Harvard wins it all, over Texas, but a lot of drama in what unfolds in between those games with the teams mentioned earlier with Iowa and Kansas making some moves.

7. MLU Rosters Coming Together

For the newly created Major League Ultimate, it’ll be very important for each team to grab the best players available in their city. Not only because some of the cities also boast an AUDL team, but because there are USAU-club options for players to choose from as well. Out of the 8 MLU teams, we have 5 of the full rosters. The Seattle Rainmakers boast not only the Wiggins brothers but players from both Seattle Sockeye and Voodoo. Down in Portland, the Stags roster has a bunch of former-Ego players along with Rhino studs; but notably is the absent of both Dylan Freechild and Aaron Honn who have torn it up for both of those teams. Over on the East Coast, the DC Current roster is Truck Stop heavy, but also includes Robert Dulabon who played for the AUDL’s Buffalo Hunters last season. The Boston Whitecaps roster features a whole bunch of Ironside players, notably Will Neff and Muffin. And finally, the Philadelphia Spinners roster returns Trey Katzenbach, and 12 other players from last year’s AUDL Championship team.

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