What’s up, world? It’s been a while since I’ve written around these parts, so it’s good to be back to deliver a new set of Inside Breaks rankings. With Stanford Invite happening this weekend, there’s bound to be a lot here that will look suspect come Monday, but if it’s all the same to you guys, Joaq and I thought some chatter was just what this Friday afternoon needed. You’ll find the rankings and a few of my thoughts below. Enjoy, and as always, let us know what you think.
Again, lets revisit some of our guidelines from last year:
- A team cannot be hurt or helped by not having played.
- A team doesn’t have to move completely out of the rankings because they lost to good competition.
With those rules in mind, lets look at the teams from the last rankings
- Can’t Move: Carlerton, Pitt, Wisconsin, Oregon, Central Florida, Minnesota, Tufts, Whitman, Florida, Ohio, UNC, UNCW
- Have to move down: Colorado, Luther
- Should be included: Dartmouth
- Solid argument to move down: Cal, Texas, SLO
- Solid argument to move up: Washington, Iowa
- Solid argument for inclusion: Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, lots of other teams
In putting these together, Joaq had this to say: “This year I think there is a larger gap between tier 1 and the field than there was last year, and as such, I’m inclined to keep Tier 2 relatively small this also means tier 3 gets messy in terms of range of quality. Here is what I have as of now”:
Tier 1: Carleton, Pitt, Oregon, Wisconsin
Tier 2: Central Florida, Minnesota, Tufts, Whitman
Tier 3: California, Colorado, Dartmouth, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Luther, Ohio, UCSB, UNC, UNCW, Washington
Moving beyond rankings, I’ve got a little bit on my mind going into Stanford Invite:
- Pittsburgh is the “it” team on everyone’s radar right now, which is understandable given how good they looked on the Warm Up tape. They move the disc quickly and with ease, they defend well, and their offense really understands how to set up cuts and use space on the field. They’ve been searching for a way to make the next step for a few years, and another season of experience for their vets along with the addition of Trent Dillon certainly helps. Pitt looks like a team that has made strides. The questions now is “how great?” and “are they sustainable?”
- Speaking of the Warm Up tape, I was pretty unimpressed with Central Florida. Aside from their tall guys that are bound to get backed and have easier unders, they had a really hard time getting open on the force side, and once Pitt tightened up their marks, they failed to respond by hitting swings early to get the disc to the break side. That said, they beat Carleton and Wisconsin en route to the final of a pretty competitive tournament, where [even though Pitt was firmly in control], they fought ’til pretty much the end. I’m willing to believe that the final was their worst game, and I’m looking forward to seeing them with fresh legs and another month of practice under their belts at Easterns.
- And speaking of CUT and Wisconsin… when I watched them play, they looked less well-oiled than other teams, but not worse. Sort of like teams that know what they should be doing, but haven’t been outside to run through the motions yet. Go figure. Right now, if I had to bet on whether this year’s champ will be either Carleton/Wisconsin or the field, I’d take the former. These two teams have so much experience, so much institutional knowledge about both how to play and how to win, and so much poise. Warm Up was in February, and they know it.
- Looking at the rest of the Stanford field, Cal and Minnesota stand out to be as interesting because a lot of people lauded their talent last year only to see them miss Nationals. Maybe they’ll be the kinds of cases where they really are as good as everyone thinks, just a year later.
- Finally, a quick thought about USA Ultimate’s first set of rankings, which came out this week. Because there haven’t been many tournaments and East and West haven’t played each other much, they look a bit premature. Because everyone starts off on equal ground in January, it’s hard for a formula to rank accurately when teams haven’t played many games; team A and team B could each be 7-1, but the computer would have no way of knowing that A played at Warm Up while B was at Glow-in-the-Dark-Horse. Right now, Tufts is good, but probably not #1 good. Same with Wilmington and Ohio. Also, Oregon and Texas stick out as teams that are really low just because they haven’t played much yet. As usual, the rankings will be much more accurate in a few weeks.