[spreadsheet 0AkPyH_zADB67dDhqZHJGQThza05ETlBQemw4eW8zTGc 500 1050 sheet=6]
These are the three teams clearly above the rest of the pack. Barring any mishaps, they look to be on a path to the semifinals of the College Championships, if not further. While each team has already had that moment which makes you challenge their elite-ness – Colorado on Sunday at Stanford, Pitt’s inability to perform in the finals of two tournaments, and UNC’s kryptonite of playing Pitt – there are still strong reasons to believe they’ll stay in this position. Kryptonite is a good word to use here; these teams are like Superman, with his laser-beam eyes and a love for all things Lois Lane, but if Lex Luther (coincidence!?!?) gets ahold of that foreign green stone, all bets are off. Colorado is coming off a strong Centex heading into the series. Pittsburgh was once again in the finals of one of the spring’s top tournaments, and are getting healthier by the day. North Carolina features one of the deepest teams in the nation, and should be healthy in time for the Championships.
If the previous three teams are all on paths to the semifinals of the Championships, these are the teams fighting for the final spot. All have shown brilliance that can put them among the top teams. They’ve all got a few things in common though that groups them in this spot particularly. First of all, they’ve all avoided playing Colorado. Now you can see that as a knock on the Colorado schedule (it isn’t weak though, Mamabird and can’t really fault FSU and Harvard for their tourney choices), or you can see it as Minnesota and Texas committing a misstep at Centex and thus avoiding Mamabird. That would be the second mistakes for these teams – missteps at Centex that include losing to California and Texas for Grey Duck, and Northern Iowa for TUFF. Meanwhile, Florida State and Harvard have missteps in losing to Texas, Central Florida and Michigan (Harvard) and Texas, Florida and Luther (FSU). These losses each underscore the third problem with these teams, they have a consistency problem. A consistent Minnesota or Harvard might’ve taken down Michigan, and the words can go on and on for FSU and Texas.
#10 Texas A&M
Where are these teams? If the previous four teams were battling for a spot in semifinals, then these teams are presumably battling for a spot in the quarterfinals of the Championships. And if the last teams had a problem with consistency, then these teams have an identity crisis. Who are you guys? Michigan, are you the team that lost to UNC and Harvard handily, or that beat Pittsburgh in the finals? Florida, are you just one line of seven, or will you play some depth to make it far at the Championships? And A&M, your losses to teams above and below you in these rankings don’t look great now, do they? Questions aside, they’ve each had flashes of brilliance – a sort of Jekyll and Hyde situation here – that allows them a comfort level above the next grouping of teams.
#16 Central Florida
There are six teams in this ranking for a reason, because at some point in time this season each had that moment were spectators stepped back and said, ‘Wow’. Moments, but enough of a moment that they deserve to be not only in the top 16, but within the fight for more than just a middling finish in Cincinnati later this spring. Part of the reason teams find themselves so low (see: Wisconsin, UC-Davis) is owed to the fact that injuries to key players (Camp and Kerns respectively) have skewed results, and with (or when, in the case of the Camp) their return, they can jump up a grouping or two. For the rest of the group (that would be UNC-W, Stanford, Oregon, UCF), questions surrounding if they can even put together a complete tournament, of the same standard of play persist too much around them. They are most definitely good teams – watching Wilmington’s suffocating defense against Minnesota was one of the highlights of Easterns for the Skyd staff for example – but their identity seems to be comprised of teams that just can’t hang with those above them throughout an entire tournament.