Some major movement in the top 25 this week after a busy weekend for college ultimate.
February 17, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in Rankings with 0 comments
1. Pittsburgh — It wasn’t always perfectly smooth sailing for Pittsburgh in Tampa this weekend, but, when it counted most, they played their best. A 9-0 weekend with a blend of blowout wins and gritty comebacks solidifies Pitt as the best team in North America right now.
2. Oregon — Oregon had to play without Dylan Freechild in their toughest games at Prez Day and still won the tournament convincingly. That’s a testament to their depth and skill. What a confidence booster for a team to excel without their superstar. Let’s hope they meet Pitt at Stanford.
3. North Carolina — They may be stinging from their semis loss to Massachusetts at QCTU, but the fundamentals are sound for UNC. Give Jon Nethercutt and crew some practice time to sort out some offensive flow issues and expect to see them winning a lot in March.
4. Florida State — What a weekend for FSU, dominating everyone in their path on the way to the finals of Warm Up before succumbing to a sizzling Pitt team. We’ve seen a glimpse of what FSU can be — they are a legitimate semis contender this season.
5. UNC Wilmington — UNC Wilmington went basically untouched at QCTU, crushing all unranked teams and soundly beating UMass in the final. Their defense is fast and talented, and they have some of the Division’s biggest weapons on offense. Very dangerous team — if their mental game is locked in, look out for them in May.
6. Washington — It’s been a meteoric rise for Washington who came into the season unranked but has now flown into the top 10 after a Santa Barbara Invite win and a huge upset over Colorado at President’s Day. They were right there with Oregon in the final, too. Their win over ASU at SB Invite looks even better after Prime’s performance in Tampa.
7. Massachusetts — Undoubtedly a threat this year and capitalizing more than most teams on their talented underclassmen. They whipped everyone, including UNC, at QCTU until running out of steam against Wilmington.
8. Colorado — Huge question marks for Colorado after a Prez Day loss to Washington, significant roster turnover, and the surprise loss of captain Mark Rauls for this semester. Clearly a tumultuous transition so far for Mamabird. Still, they are a talented team that should get better over the season as they adjust.
9. Carleton — Carleton wasn’t on the level of Florida State this early in the season, but perhaps that’s to be expected given that they haven’t played outside yet. Lots of talent on this team, and they improved dramatically during the weekend. Justin Lim was particularly impressive as a distributor. Their quarters win over Central Florida was a very good one.
10. Central Florida — It was a bumpy weekend for UCF, who had a mix of great wins and baffling losses. Mentally, the team is still not where it needs to be, but they surely have the talent to win a lot of games this year. Expect to see them play a Florida-style top-heavy rotation featuring Jeremy Langdon, Brawley Adams, and Michael Fairley.
11. Arizona State — ASU silenced a lot of critics this weekend with a gritty win over Texas to make the Warm Up bracket followed up by a huge upset over Florida. They had an excellent overall weekend and could help buoy the entire Southwest region with their performance.
12. Florida — At times, Florida looked excellent. At others…not so much. Zone defenses killed the Gators in Tampa and they took two tough losses to Carleton and Arizona State back to back. They’ll need to figure out their zone O or they won’t beat many good teams later this season.
13. Texas A&M — Texas A&M is a joy to watch. Handler extraordinaire Matt Bennett zips all over the field commanding the disc, throwing between opponents’ legs (literally!), and hucking for scores. His unique talent carried A&M to some good wins this weekend, but they have to figure out how to score without him. They had trouble doing so against quality opponents.
14. Texas — Texas might be underranked at #14; certainly their ceiling is higher than that. They were very impressive at times this weekend, but a Pitt loss sapped their energy and they were incredibly flat against ASU. Chase Cunningham is playing great and the Texas system is rock solid. Don’t be surprised to see them climb into the top 10 later this year. They are learning quickly.
15. Wisconsin — Wisconsin has a top 10 defense but only a top 50 offense. The O line mightily struggled against good defenses and the wind, and it left the Hodags leaving Tampa with only a few quality wins. They troubled just about everyone — including Pitt — with their defense, but they couldn’t stop their opponents from piling up breaks.
16. Harvard — A very young team has a lot of learning to do after a middling QCTU. John Stubbs and Mark Vandenburg will still pace the team, but they are quite a distance from UMass in New England right now.
17. Michigan — Rust showed on Michigan at QCTU; they had lots of drops and throwaways where they didn’t in the fall. If they clean up the offense, they will move back up the rankings come March.
18. UC Santa Barbara — UCSB had themselves a nice weekend out West, finishing up with wins over Minnesota and Cal, plus a close loss to Oregon. Could they have bumped the Southwest towards another bid?
19. Minnesota — Minnesota pulled a Minnesota with a total collapse against Colorado after leading 8-4. They were clearly knocking off the winter cobwebs as well, and got much better as the weekend progressed, closing things out with big wins over UCLA and Cal.
20. Tufts — Tufts was simply underwhelming at Warm Up, playing solid, fundamental New England ultimate but not making much of a dent with their defense against anyone good. They are the kind of team that will beat average teams soundly, but get crushed by good ones. They need to step up athletically to win more games.
21. Georgia — Handlers are at a premium for Georgia who needs backfield support to shore up their zone offense. In calm conditions against a man, they can beat a lot of teams, but they have to get better at resets and switching the field. They were hurt by the wind at QCTU.
22. UBC — We await further results from UBC, who had a nice weekend back in January at SB Invite. They have a lot of quality talent, but looked at times to be relying too heavily on a couple of players.
23. Auburn — Auburn earned themselves a bid to Stanford Invite thanks to their early season play. Ryan Landry is a blast to watch and the team has battled hard against some of the country’s best teams. Could they break out at Stanford?
24. Stanford — Solid team as usual that started to hit a stride late at Santa Barbara. We’ll really figure out where they stand at Stanford.
25. Cal — Cal had a pretty good weekend, only losing to four teams ranked above them. They’ve already showed growth since January at SB Invite.