By seeding, here are a couple thoughts on the top 8 teams that will be at College Easterns next weekend…
1. Carleton College (15-2)
- With tournaments at Warm Up and Stanford Invite, Carleton is the undisputed class of the Open division. Senior Grant Lindsley teams up with sophomore Julian Childs-Walker to form a cutting unit whose speed is overpowering, and senior Alex Evangelides and sophomore Simon Montague are cornerstones of a defense capable of grinding out turnovers.
- Carleton’s only real weakness so far has been its ability to convert their opponents’ turnovers into breaks. While their D line is packed with experience in Evangelides and Christian Foster, CUT has at times had to move offensive players over in order to ensure that its defense scores.
2. Pittsburgh (5-2)
- 5th year players Chris Brenenborg and Eddie Peters have been good for a long time, and given that former youngers Alex Thorne and Tyler DeGirolamo are now juniors, this is the year that Pitt is hoping to bring it all together. Their only tournament thus far has been Stanford, and while they lost a close game to Oregon in pool play, En Sabah Nur mounted huge comebacks against very good British Columbia and Colorado teams en route to a finals appearance.
- Pitt is a team with a reputation for riding their emotions, which is why spectators should be watching any of their games against other top seeds. While they are the only top 5 team at the tournament without a national championship to their name, Pitt has built itself on not backing down to anyone, and every year they seem to add another key victory to their program’s resume.
3. Colorado (12-4)
- Fast, physical, and intense, Mamabird is coming off of a near-miss at Warm Up and a botched semifinal at Stanford. Colorado will certainly be hungry to win its first big pre-Series tournament since Centex in 2009.
- Though only a sophomore, Colorado’s Jimmy Mickle has been playing at an MVP level all season. He leads the D line with huge pulls, strong play in the air, and very effective break throws; look to see how he continues to mesh with Colorado’s universe line.
4. Oregon (9-2)
- When most people talk about Oregon in 2011, they start by mentioning who they graduated in 2010. Consider, though, who the team has gained: John Bloch and Jordan “Dozer” May are back after taking time away from ultimate, and talented freshman Dylan Freechild has moved down the road from South Eugene High School. Add those to captain Cody Bjorklund, and a bevy of others that have been under-the-radar good for quite some time, and Oregon’s roster is in a better place than you may think.
5. Florida (6-3)
- Nationals winners in 2010, many have written Florida off because they graduated Brodie Smith. But while they played poorly against Colorado and Wisconsin at Warm Up, the Gators showed that they will continue to compete at the highest levels. Most teams have not figured out how to stop Cole Sullivan from getting the disc and breaking the mark, and with defenders so wary of the heralded Florida deep game, life is pretty easy for the team’s cutters.
- Florida is most challenged when teams play them honest rather than try to poach or double team. Look to see how their less experienced players do when the disc is in their hands and the dump is well-covered.
6. Wisconsin (8-7)
- Yet another recent top dog that many are ready to write off, Wisconsin is slowly finding its identity as a young team. They are particularly adept at coming down with their own hucks into traffic, and with that as a building block, they are dangerous when cutters give each other room to work underneath.
- Wisconsin has also proven itself as a team very capable of playing up to big opponents, as evidenced by their wins over Carleton and Florida at Warm Up.
7. Harvard (9-7)
- After a rough showing at Warm Up, Harvard righted the ship at Stanford and made semis with a huge comeback over Oregon. The team’s starting seven has yet to play together, but in the meantime, George Stubbs has made up for it by playing at a level worthy of the Callahan.
- Even when at full strength, Harvard is not a deep team. If the top 7 are struggling, Red Line’s role players will have to step up huge in order to fill the gap.
8. Virginia (5-4)
- It is unclear which Virginia team will be at Easterns: the one that could not complete its comeback against Wisconsin, or the one that looked in control against Colorado. As one of the only teams at Easterns without a coach, Night Train is a bit more susceptible to the highs and lows of competition, but with a number of strong 5th years, seniors, and juniors, the team is well aware of what it needs to do in order to succeed.
Tomorrow, look for more on the next 8, which is seeded as follows…
9. California (12-7)
10. Minnesota (4-4)
11. Michigan (7-0)
12. Iowa (8-0)
13. Ohio (13-1)
14. Georgia (5-2)
15. UNC-Wilmington (6-9)
16. Cornell (2-7)