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1. Regionals Results
What a crazy weekend. Starting in the Southwest, 31st ranked UC-Davis wins the tournament over Arizona, leaving the #14 ranked team to beat #18 Stanford on the way to Nationals. Arizona seemed like a lock to make it going into the weekend, but the Davis Dogs came out of nowhere to steal the top spot there, and causing an end to Stanford’s season for the first time in a few years.
On the other side of the country, in the Southeast regionals, #9 UCF took the final over Georgia, who came out of nowhere – including a phenomenal comeback over Georgia Tech – to secure a spot in the semi-finals. That left #8 Florida State and #13 Florida to battle for the third and final bid to Nationals, a classic rivalry among every other college sport, and Florida State took the bid 15-14.
Not done there, #3 Minnesota would fall to #56 Iowa in the backdoor semifinals – who then lost to #52 Luther for the final bid, after the other two went to Wisconsin then Carleton. To not see the #3 ranked team in the country – who by the way boasts wins over Oregon, UNC-W, Colorado and UCF – at the Championships would’ve been an absurd thought going into the weekend, or even the start of the season. But they lost, and it opens up the potential winners and potential upsets in bracket play come the Championships.
All the way over in New England #15 Tufts would fall to Harvard in semi-finals and then again in the game for the second bid to #20 Dartmouth 15-14. Another close game deciding the final bid, and another reason this year’s Championships is a little more crazy than usual.
2. MLU Results
There were a ton of highlights that came out of this past weekend, but perhaps the biggest story was the fact that the DC Current were able to win a game, taking down the Philadelphia Spinners. Not to take anything away from the big win from the Dogfish over the Rainmakers, but a lot of the top players from each team were inactive this past weekend. And with the Current winning a game, they now sit only two games back of first in the East, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. Do I think they’ll upset the Whitecaps and take the Eastern Conference? No, but I do think the win this past weekend gives them a more favorable chance at such a thing. The winless Stags and Rumble however are probably too far out of the picture in order to make any noise come playoff time.
Those two highlight plays were the play which appeared on SportCenter’s Top Ten, the catch by the Spinners’ Sean Murray, and then the layout D by the Current’s Brian Marshall. Not sure how I feel about the announcers, especially the sound levels, but two great plays there for sure.
3. AUDL results
The Toronto Rush opened in front of a huge crowd (2300+), and were able to notch their first home victory and are now 5-0 – they also sit atop our AUDL rankings this week. With the Radicals and Wildfire also having great seasons, it’s a shame there are no inter-conference play games during the regular season. Maybe once the AUDL expands more there will be more games on the schedule, and a chance for the top teams of either conference to meet each other before the championships? Make sure you watch the Week 4 highlights from the Rush vs Hammerheads game, you get a good size of the crowd, the awesome location of their stadium and of just how good the Rush really are. And a shout-out to the Rochester Dragons for notching their first one of the season over the New Jersey Hammerheads at home this past weekend.
4. Seeding D1 (Open)
With all of the wacky results, seeding gets a little more challenging than it would have been had every regional tournament gone according to the rankings and our preconceived notions. Luckily, Zack Smith is a trooper and predicted the seeding and pools on the D1 Open side. There is some slight regional overlap in his prediction though, which is why those that would like to see no regional rematches would prefer the seeding posted in the comments by Colin Camp. Neither is perfect. The placement of Georgia seems to be the hardest part of the whole thing, and it seems like the most realistic seeding will include some regional rematches. Should Camp’s seeding is the final product, Pools A (Oregon, UNC-W, Harvard, Florida State, Luther) and C (UNC, UCF, Ohio, Arizona, Illinois) would be the pools of death; not so much for Oregon or UNC, I think they’ll have no problem making it past pool play, but the four seeds in that pool are threats to every other teams chance of advancing. One other commenter heckles Camp a bit for giving his team any easy route with Georgia in the pool (Pool B is Wisconsin’s), but his reasoning is sound.
5. Seeding D3 (Open)
I’m going to be headed back to the D3 College Championships again this year, and thought I’d give a take at seeding the tournament. Below is my shot at the pools. And the same with D1, it was a crap-shoot with how to seed it because of the results at regionals and then considering the (few) prior results. I might’ve missed things, so feel free to discuss below.
[spreadsheet 0AgWFq7qEnaMHdGtoYjF1U3BnSHJwWHdQbjk4eTZTdUE 580 150]
6. ‘They Don’t Know Nord’
Please take a moment to read the piece ‘They Don’t Know Nord’ by Hector Valdivia, as he is welcomed into the Skyd regulars. A few thoughts, starting first and foremost that Hector is right when he says the following: “I don’t know if the AUDL or MLU will make it. What I do know is that they opened a box that revealed a pro league WILL make it.” Both of these models may turn out to be unsuccessful in five years, but I agree that that their limited success now shows on a basic level that professional ultimate is not only possible but an inevitability of the sport’s future. It will be what future investors, future players, and future fans will want out of the sport.
One commenter on the article states that “the end of pay-to-play is the best thing to happen to ultimate.” But are the AUDL and MLU the end of pay to play? Certainly not on the college level as acceptance into the NCAA is very far off. I’m not sure the NCAA and schools could afford it, nor would they choose ultimate over sports like rugby. And on the club level, not for women’s or mixed, on the most elite level for the long-term future would pay-to-play come to an end – I could only see open pay-to-play changing significantly, with perhaps the elite teams leaving the club landscape. But then again, as Hector says, a significant amount of the Radicals players were meeting to discuss the upcoming club season. Even for the players who are having travel and what not paid for them during the AUDL or MLU seasons, most are still electing to pay for continued play. If that continues, and is allowed to continue by any league going forward, it may never stop.
Another notable commenter, Kevin Minderhout, talks about how the information age we are currently in has provided more notability to the sport’s current stars. “I’d say if you were on RSD at all you pretty much know who all these guys are,” Minderhout wrote. “RSD was the ultimate media for a long time and it was small and obscure.” I’d agree with that, and add in the power that word of mouth through veterans has in teaching the past stars of the game. I’d know a lot less about the game had Bryan Jones and Zack Smith (among others at SUNY-Buffalo) not taken the time to teach the history of the game as well. (I don’t know how many times we watched ‘I Bleed Black’ before tournaments my freshmen year… but it was a lot.) But it reminds me that ESPN/Grantland-esque 30-for-30 documentaries and oral histories on those long-forgotten college and club championships, from all divisions. I’ve read and seen most of what has come out from Ken Dobyns, and others, but imagine an oral history of the start of the Hodag/CUT rivalry (ball is in your court Elliot!) or any of the other teams and people you see time and time again in the USAU Archives.
Has #MICKLEMANIA taken hold over you yet? Another sick video hits us this week, this time it’s Colorado Mamabird’s Jimmy Mickle, and it’s roughly four minutes of him dominating everything. Another great song choice as well in this video, with a similar opening to Dylan’s video – the style really works. Don’t forget to vote for the Callahan Award either, voting has opened up.
Feature photo by Alex Carey – Ultiphotos.com