The biggest takeaway from this last weekend of Conferences was there were a lot of close games and upsets. Not too many teams romped through their conferences without facing some sort of a test. What are the possible reasons for this “parity”?
The Video Age of Ultimate
This certainly cannot account for all of the close games that were played throughout the weekend, but more so than ever, there is video available on a lot of the top squads. Wisconsin, Tufts, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Ohio had video of their games available well in time for the conference tournaments. Are teams taking advantage of this? So much can be gained by knowing what a team likes to do, their set plays, and what their weaknesses are. Wisconsin staved of a comeback from UW-Milwaukee ,while Ohio survived in the fierce winds against Ohio State. Pittsburgh was upset by Penn State in pool play, only to avenge the loss in the finals. Georgia lost to Georgia Tech which isn’t a huge surprise, but they did lose to Tennessee afterwards. Tufts played another close game this season as Boston College gave all they had in a 13-11 loss in the finals.
The top teams have always had a vice grip on talent and strategies because they already knew what worked. Besides I Bleed Black and the Blue Print, there wasn’t much information available readily available on what these teams do. The media will continue to cover the top teams, and whether right or wrong will dissect those teams tendencies. As we’ve said before, Iowa already took advantage of video on Pittsburgh being available in 2011 in Boulder. I think scouting has been relatively underrated in the world of college ultimate for a while, but I think more and more teams are putting time into preparation. I think this can only be a good thing, we will see more parity, and more upsets. With the tools available hopefully more games become chess matches, and we see less of the more “talented” team wins.
Other Upsets and Big Games
After Yale suffered a loss in the first game of the day Saturday to SUNY-Albany they rose up to beat Connecticut in pool play. Turns out that UConn was missing players to due injury and other reasons. Yale still held things close, at 14-11, which should bode well for their confidence comes regionals. In other games, Iowa bested Luther in another windy scenario while Michigan State once again took their conference over Michigan. Michigan State and Illinois are looking like the teams that will go to nationals, but can never count Magnum out.
Red all over
The SoCal conference was a complete bloodbath. San Diego State upset Santa Babara on day 1 only to lose to them in the finals. The one seed, Cal Poly SLO lost to Santa Barbara in the semis, and then went down to UCSD after beating them in pool play. UCSD lost to San Diego State in the semis, but then came back to beat them for 2nd place. Good luck solving this puzzle. If it’s Stanford and California in the finals, whoever reaches the game to go at Southwest Regionals may have nothing left to give
What does this mean for Regionals?
In regards to the Luther-Iowa match up, it may end up being rather inconsequential. Luther probably owns the five seed going into regionals which would mean a battle against the 3 seed for a right for an easier game in quarters. Ohio Valley is looking even more exciting now that Pittsburgh has shown some vulnerability. Ohio State, Ohio, Penn State are all in the hunt for that second bid with teams behind giving chase as well. Georgia Tech is probably the biggest winner because they are the team with the least depth that will benefit from the easiest road possible.
No Shoes, No Doubt
My obligatory shout out to my boys at Buffalo beating Cornell 15-9 in their first conference/sectional title ever. They answered the call after going down 4-2, taking half 8-6, then going on a run to end the game.
Feature photo by Burt Granofsky