This coverage is presented by Spin Ultimate
This is it. The end of the 2013 College season, and it all comes together with the twenty teams that qualified for Madison. Starting with what to look for in pools, the entire weekend ends with ultimate televised live then later shown on the ESPN family – it’s sure to be exciting. Be sure to keep posted to Skyd’s Tournament Central throughout the weekend for a Liveblog, video recaps and more.
Oregon, Colorado, Dartmouth, Georgia, Washington
Outside of number one team in the nation Oregon Ego leading off this pool, the rest of the pool’s finish isn’t exactly up in the air, but is going to be hotly contested. Ego, and Callahan-nominee Dylan Freechild, have had a phenomenal season thus far and are looking to cap it off with a championship belt. Two seed Colorado Mamabird and their own Callahan-nominee Jimmy Mickle have plans of their own. We’ve already seen this season that when needed, Mickle can turn it on and will Mamabird to victory. While he may want to conserve energy this weekend, he may have to if they want to get past Dartmouth Pain Train. Many weren’t expecting Pain Train to make Nationals at all, thinking that Tufts was the better team in the region. But their play late in the season truly picked up – including a tournament win at New England Open – and if they can bring that play into Madison, Colorado may have a problem on their hands. Sitting below both of these teams are Georgia and Washington. While the Sundodgers have the National-scene experience, Georgia does not. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a good team, but they will face a stronger challenge this weekend than they’ve seen all year.
Key Games: Oregon Ego vs. Colorado Mamabird (Fri. 10:30am), Colorado Mamabird vs. Dartmouth Pain Train (Sat. 12:30pm)
Wisconsin, Carleton College, Harvard, Florida State, Cornell
Woe is the team who finishes second in this pool. But lucky us in that we get to see one of the most storied rivalries in all of college ultimate to decide who finishes first. Why is it a bad thing to finish second? The second place finisher has to meet Oregon (most likely) in quarterfinals if they make it out of pre-quarters alive (oh and Pittsburgh in semifinals as well), while the first place finisher gets the winner of two teams fighting for their life Saturday night as well. Neither the Hodags or Cut have had as prolific of a spring season as we’re used to seeing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be an interesting game. Whoever loses this game will be looking at how Harvard Red Line does on Friday, as they’ll most likely be the team to beat to secure second in the pool. Red Line added Piers MacNaughton this season. By the later half of the season that addition seemed to be the kickstart the team needed, with two finals appearances and a regional title before heading to Madison. For DUF, their game against Harvard is a chance to play upset this weekend but lack of big game experience may be necessary when their chips fall. Cornell may have that experience, having taken the Metro East yet again, but their spring results don’t suggest much.
Key Games: Wisconsin Hodags vs. Carleton CUT (Fri. 12:30pm), Harvard Red Line vs. Florida State DUF (Fri. 12:30pm)
North Carolina, Central Florida, Ohio, California-Davis, Luther
How great was the semi-final game at Easterns between UNC Darkside and the UCF Dogs of War? That back and forth matchup could’ve ended with either team coming out on top, but it was UCF winning at the end of it. No doubt each team is reviewing their mistakes from the game film, and looking to improve on that performance come pool play. Much like the winner of Hodags vs. CUT looks to decide that pool, the winner of UNC vs. UCF decides this pool. Both are great teams, but as we saw in the Easterns game – does Darkside match up well enough with UCF to take them down and retain the number one seed in the pool? For UC-Davis and Luther, Ohio looks to be a sitting duck. Their depth has been a question going into most every major tournament this spring, while both the Davis and Luther have finished strong by grabbing a bid to Madison. Both are undoubtedly looking towards grabbing a spot in pre-quarters as well.
Key Games: UNC Darkside vs. UCF Dogs of War (Fri. 2:30pm), California-Davis vs. Luther (Sat. 8:30am)
Pittsburgh, Texas, North Carolina-Wilmington, Arizona, Illinois
Once again, Pool D is the ‘pool of death’. In the fourth versus fith seed matchup in Pitt against Texas, and ninth versus sixteenth matchup in UNC-W and Arizona we have four teams that must be whittled down to three. Not automatically including defending Champion Pittsburgh as a team advancing to pre-quarters at least is crazy, but a loss to Texas to cede the pool is not. Texas may not have had a strong spring season, but consider they were missing standout Will Driscoll at times for the Dream Cup, and one has to think they’ll have a better showing with every member of TUFF present. Between Wilmington and Arizona, you have two teams with two different problems on the College Championships stage. The aggressive play style of UNC-W may not bode well with observers once their pre-quarters birth is on the line, while Arizona’s lack of recent national exposure could be their downfall. In one previous meeting, Wilmington won but can they do it again? Illinois comes in with not much known about them, and as the last seed of the tournament. Should any of their four opponents take that too literally, and Illinois could walk out of Madison with a few upsets to show for.
Key Games: Pittsburgh En Sabh Nur vs. Texas TUFF (Fri. 4:30pm), UNC-W Seaman vs. Arizona Sunburn (Fri. 12:30pm)
Feature Photo by Christina Schmidt – UltiPhotos.com