March 28, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Analysis, Other with 8 Comments
Here at Ultiworld HQ, we’ve started calling this weekend’s tournaments “March Madness,” because of just how unpredictable the results have been.
In this year’s true March Madness, the men’s college basketball national tournament, upsets have been commonplace in one of the most even years of competition in recent memory. Number one ranked teams were routinely toppled this year and the hottest team at the tournament right now, Florida Gulf Coast, was seeded 15th (out of 16).
Why does this apply to Ultimate? This year’s field, particularly in the Open Division, is just as wide open. Minnesota got to #1 this week by beating last week’s #1 Oregon and a hot Central Florida team. That makes them the fourth #1 ranked team this year (along with Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Oregon).
The seeding committee at USA Ultimate can’t be looking forward to their task. Here is this week’s top 25.
- Minnesota, after going undefeated this weekend, now has just one loss on the season, 14-12 to Arizona in the finals of the Prez Day Invite. They are the only one loss top 25 team remaining.
- Oregon only falls one spot to number two, despite a quarters loss to Central Florida (#3). The ugly conditions make that game weigh much less in our minds, and you can’t discount Oregon’s outstanding performance at Stanford. This weekend they played their younger players a lot more. Dangerous team.
- Central Florida, had they rested for as long as Minnesota after their semifinal, might well have won this tournament. They are very good, and are certainly one of the teams in contention for a National Championship. Their Stanford performance was clearly a fluke — this group is back on track.
- Carleton (#8) has fluctuated back and forth between the top and bottom of the top 10. Their captain Simon Montague said that they looked past teams at times this weekend. But that doesn’t explain a Saturday prequarters loss to UNC-Wilmington after having a tight game against them on Friday night in the showcase.
- Arizona (#11) and Tufts (#12) fall out of the top ten after poor showings at Centex and Easterns, respectively. Arizona sent a thin roster to Austin, but that’s two straight tournaments with less than impressive results. Tufts did not look like the team that showed up to the Stanford Invite earlier this month. We again have Harvard (#10), who played well at Centex, outranking them.
- Oregon State (#24) joins the rankings after winning the Chicago Invite. They also took #2 Oregon to double game point in their first tournament of the year. They are no doubt eying the Northwest’s second bid that Whitman has locked down.
- James Madison (#25) also enters the top 25 for the first time, after their win at Southerns. While they don’t have any really high quality wins, they have a lot of solid ones, and just one loss (to UNC-Wilmington).
- Iowa State (#3) shoots up seven spots after an impressive Centex victory. They avenged their only loss of the weekend — to Ohio State — in the finals and had high-quality wins over Tufts, Carleton, and UNC. They have put themselves as the frontrunner in the very competitive North Central region, which now has five bids.
- Iowa (#5) moves ahead of Carleton (#6) with a 10-9 win against them in the final round on Sunday at Centex. Despite coming in as the one seed, Iowa suffered losses to Colorado and Minnesota, showing that matchups really matter.
- Ohio State (#7) jumps six places after not only making it to the finals of Centex but beating the champion earlier in the weekend. They only had one other loss, to UNC-Wilmington in the first round of pool play.
- Tufts (#8) also climbed six spots and had just one loss, 14-13 to Iowa State in semifinals. They got strong wins over UC Santa Barbara (15-8), Wisconsin (15-10), and Virginia (12-4), all good teams. They could deserve to be ranked higher.
- Wisconsin (#11) fell back to Earth after an incredible performance at the Stanford Invite. In the windier Austin conditions, Wisconsin wasn’t as effective and lost to UCSB, Tufts, Stanford, and UNC.
- UNC-Wilmington (#20), Texas (#21), and Michigan (#23) rejoin the rankings after falling out earlier this season. Wilmington only had three wins, but two of them were very solid: Ohio State and UCSB. Texas went 5-2, losing only to Carleton and UNC. And Michigan missed the top bracket but had just one loss getting good wins against Pittsburgh and Colorado College (#25) to take the D-II bracket title.
- Stevens Tech (#4) suffered their first loss of the season in the finals of Steakfest to a strong Columbia team. Along the way they saw impressive wins against Lehigh and Dickinson.
- Bentley (#5) won Awaken this weekend only losing once: by one to Northeastern in a crossover. They would go on to beat Northeastern in the semis and Queens-Kingston for a second time in the finals.
- Carleton-GOP went 3-3 at Southerns, ultimately beating St. Olaf (#23) for 19th place. St. Olaf finished 2-4 with three losses by one point.
- St. Johns (#13) is still looking to make a big statement in a spring tournament. BAM finished 13th at the Chicago Invite. However, they did notch a quality win over North Park (#16).
- Navy (#20) joins the rankings after they finished 6-1 and earned a 3rd place finish at Steakfest. Lehigh (#21) also gets in because of their results at Steakfest. Their tough bracket saw them finish 3-4 but they played close with Dickinson and Stevens Tech.
- UNC-Asheville (#25) edges into the top 25 with a 10-7 record on the season with close losses to quality teams like Princeton and Northwestern.
- Williams (#6) comes flying into the rankings after an undefeated showing at Virginia is for Layouts. They have just one loss on the season, to D-I ranked #16 Central Florida.
- Princeton (#7) moves up five slots, going 4-1 at Southerns and losing in the finals by two to Carleton College – B (#4).
- Bentley (#11) also joins the rankings with a bang after going 6-1 at Awaken. Their loss came in the finals to top-seeded Ottawa.