12 Days of College Ultimate: 10 Bid Predictions

Who should and who will earned coveted D-I Nationals bids?

UCLA Smaug celebrates at the 2022 D-I Southwest Regional Championships. Photo: Natalie Bigman-Pimentel — UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 college ultimate season are presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

It’s time to unwrap some presents as we introduce the 12 Days of College Ultimate. Through December 23rd, we will be releasing one gift per day, though don’t count on getting any partridges in pear trees: it’s all college ultimate. From highlight videos to player chatter to a giant bracket, we’ve got a little something for everyone. On Day 10 of the 12 Days of College Ultimate, Edward and Patrick predict how the final D-I bid picture will shape up, but also how it should shape up.

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Here’s what we know: the bid math isn’t fair. Every year there are regions who, because of one fluky loss or because an emerging top team who can’t get an invite to the right event or just because the formula is complicated, get shorted a strength bid or two. And that cuts the other way – for every deserving region drawing a short straw, there is another with an unexpected, possibly unwarranted, bounty.

But at Ultiworld HQ we like to dream bigger than math. What is an algorithm, really, compared with the majesty of the cosmos? A better world exists, and it will be meted out in karmic justice. Or, at least in this exercise it will. Below, see our insight into how the bid picture should shake out in 2023 if life and college ultimate were more fair. (And also how we think it’s actually going to shake out.)

Women’s

Atlantic Coast

Deserves: 1
Predicted: 2

Edward: Is it too much to ask Virginia or NC State or South Carolina or anyone to actually make a run on Pleiades? The region loses brownie points because it’s boring at the top. Second place just feels like an afterthought right now. They’ll probably get a strength bid, though.

Patrick: Yeah it’s a situation where the narrative gravity of UNC’s dominance that threatens to suck in the entire women’s division, let alone the Atlantic Coast, can make it tough to find the difference between a Virginia or an NC State or a South Carolina meaningful when the gap between them is so much smaller than the gap to UNC. Of course, if one of these teams can wrangle a second bid, they aren’t going to care how good UNC is.

Great Lakes

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 2

Edward: Feels like there is some good stuff happening up on this cold, lonely asteroid. A tending of baobab trees and roses, if you will. Chicagoland is in a good spot. Michigan, both the school and the state with several schools in it, feels like fertile ground. Notre Dame is maybe the vibes capital of college ultimate outside of Vermont. Is the Purdue glow-up a multi-year phenomenon? Keep up the solid work, Great Lakes. Goodness knows the weather isn’t going to cut you any slack, but ultimate just might.

Patrick: Reeling from the realization that Notre Dame and Vermont are the vibes capitals of college ultimate. I think throw Cal Poly in there as well and you’ve got your cultural trinity.

Metro East

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 1

Patrick: As a Metro East alum, I am actually kind of opposed to the idea that the Metro East deserves anything more than the dirt beneath their feet. The birthright of a Metro East player is that they are nothing, come from nothing, and as a result, cannot be killed. An expansion on these thoughts can be found here.

Edward: All I’m saying is that the rise of the Jolie Krebs-led SUNY-Binghamton Big Bear squad is low-key one of the best things to happen to the women’s division over the last year, and the world is clamoring for a second sword – Yale? Cornell? – to join them in the fight for the region’s redemption in Cincinnati.

New England

Deserves: 3
Predicted: 2

Patrick: After how miserable the wind was at Regionals last year, I feel like these teams deserve an extra bid as compensation. If they do only land on two, it’ll be a tough squeeze between Vermont, Tufts, and Northeastern. Hard to see anyone other than those three getting into the mix, unless you squint reeeeaaaallll hard at Brown and see something I don’t.

Edward: Yeah, they’re going to have to travel very well if they want to keep their three-bid dream alive. The airfare to Northwest Challenge or Centex or Stanford Invite alone ought to come with a coupon for a free strength bid.

North Central

Deserves: 1
Predicted: 2

Patrick: Really going to need to see something from someone other than Carleton. Minnesota and Wisconsin have both been bid earners or bid adjacent for a few years now but never really moved the needle nationally. Even Carleton has underwhelmed at the absolute elite tier, never really filling the shoes of UNC’s main foil over the past two Nationals. If this region only got one bid, I don’t think anyone would be that surprised.

Edward: The real tea here is that the men’s and women’s North Central should have to alternate years where they get multiple bids. In this system, any play before Regionals wouldn’t matter, the bid picture would just swing back and forth like an eternal pendulum. Neither division has really earned it the last couple of years, but the men had it in 2022. Let’s shift it back the other way and let Minnesota or Wisconsin or Iowa rekindle their programs’ legacies, and maybe even push Syzygy a little.

Northwest

Deserves: 4
Predicted: 3

Patrick: Always so much depth here, and with the Canadian teams back in the game the Northwest could be the deepest Region in the division. Do they deserve a fourth bid, derived from the superstar quality of Washington, the legacy of teams like Oregon, UBC, and WWU, and whatever it is you make of BYU? Yeah, probably. Are they going to get it? Ehhhhhhhh…..

Edward: Have we reached peak Seattle yet? Or did we blow by it long ago and now it’s cool again, like listening to music on cassette? However you answer that, it’s pretty neat that there is a legit shot at an all-Northwest final. The people are here for a deep region with some drama at the top. All hail the Northwest.

Ohio Valley

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 1

Edward: Lots of moving parts around the Pittsburgh fulcrum. It isn’t really clear whether any of the other teams deserve a strength bid based on the way they’ve been playing, but between the whole eastern half of Pennsylvania long overdue for a moment in the sun and Ohio having one of the best team names in all of college – yes, looking at you, Stacked Cats – they should at least get one extra.

Patrick: Caught between a general disdain and skepticism for the state of Ohio that is shared with most ultimate players who have to travel there twice a summer, and agreement that Stacked Cats is a good enough name to warrant an extra bid on its own.

South Central

Deserves: 1
Predicted: 2

Patrick: Like the Atlantic Coast, but with perhaps an even bigger gap from the top team to the rest. In terms of karmic points, the region only deserves one bid because of Texas falling out over the past couple years and depleting the stakes from what was one of college ultimate’s most fun rivalries: Colorado vs. Texas. For shame, Melee, for shame.

Edward: The Colorado scene, college and club, has about six months of good feeling left before they exhaust everyone’s patience and become, for no reason at all other than existing, the bane of the ultimate world. That should be just enough time to carry them toward a title. If they win, the South Central’s karmic bid number goes to 0 next year. Them’s the breaks.

Southeast

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 1

Edward: Southeast has been on a little bit of a good luck kick lately, with two bids in both 2021 and 2022. Three’s a streak, and one more year of exposure for a forgotten region doesn’t seem out of hand.

Patrick: Don’t think I see more than one bid coming out of swamp country, unless both Florida St. and Georgia have unearthed a lot of depth players we don’t know about. Is it pejorative to call this region “swamp country?” Probably. Okay Edward, as way of apology, you can take one completely across the line shot at the Metro East whenever you like.

Southwest

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 4

Edward: Can’t deny the pre-eminence here. Stanford, UCSB, UCSD – plus whatever version of Davis, SLO, and UCLA show up in any given year. Southwest is the gold standard of the women’s division. But the universe doesn’t care about gold standards. The universe cares about seeing any of these teams travel out of region before the last weekend of the season. They won’t, and they lose karmic bids because of it. (They will still get a million actual bids.)

Patrick: Would absolutely love to see one of these teams stuck in a weird body-switch comedy with an East coast team that plays at Carolina Kickoff and Queen City because they, like, lost a bet with an old fortune teller or something. Just miserably grinding in 43 degree weather with subpar disc skills because it is your first time being able to throw outdoors in three months. Do that and then maybe they can start feeling better about getting that third or fourth bid.

Men’s

Atlantic Coast

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 3

Edward: What’s really going on here? Are we just supposed to believe that Darkside can take the whole region’s lunch money and those other teams can still come skipping into Nationals smelling like fresh laundry? Two karmic bids is generous considering there hasn’t been a doubt about the regional final since 2016. Yes, AC puts in the work year-in, year-out. No, they don’t actually have a second championship contender anymore, so one bid and a wild card seems right.

Patrick: You could have talked me into the AC deserving a third bid because of how exciting their regionals have been over the past half decade or so, but the absolute indignant outrage over the state of North Carolina’s sixth best dude not making the U24 roster drops them back down a karmic peg.

Great Lakes

Deserves: 1
Predicted: 1

Patrick: The Great Lakes should just always be a one bid region. This is a dictate that has been carved into the stone of the earth from time immemorial. Sorry gang, but Regionals is going to be 38 degrees and sleeting. The windspeed on Dark Skies isn’t a number, it just says “you’re screwed.” Whoever survives that gets to go to Nationals, and congrats, but let’s not have a bunch of zone merchants clogging up the field in Ohio.

Edward: And you know what? Let’s spread it around. It’s not like Michigan made it out of pool play last year. Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, Chicago, Northwestern, Kentucky – any of them could have gone 1-3, and all of them should get the chance. One at a time.

Metro East

Deserves: 3
Predicted: 1

Patrick: Let it be known that it was Edward who assigned the ME three karmic bids. I’m excited to hear why.

Edward: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.

New England

Deserves: 6
Predicted: 3

Patrick: After getting horribly shorted by USAU’s bid policy last season and landing six top 25 teams in a two bid region, how about a little restorative justice for New England this season? Brown, Vermont, UMass, Northeastern, Tufts, book your tickets to (insert Nationals destination once USAU finds another vaguely anonymous Midwestern city to host)1! The rest of the region? Scrap it out and make those dreams come true!

Edward: We have players in their ninth year of college listed as sophomores. NIL money is ruining the game. Jared Kushner is brokering backdoor deals with Tom Crawford about hosting Nationals at Dry Tortuga Island on fields of thatched palm. Let’s please, for the love of the game, just let all these New England yahoos go after each other in nice weather in May. We have to do something right. Give them six bids.

North Central

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 2

Edward: This one is tricky because nobody is really putting in the work. Well, Grey Duck, but that counts as the auto-bid. It’s a region with three big programs and a few more that bounce in and out of the picture… and only one of the three big programs seems like it’s in a good place. Can’t just skate by on old national titles forever! On the other hand… you do get a one academic year grace period when a 500-year virus upends your life.

Patrick: There’s an argument here that the region deserves a third bid because of the historical legacy and that the region has produced some tasty upsets even when it has three bids (never forget Iowa State in 2019. We salute you.) However, we need the North Central to only get two bids so that once again a superior Carleton team can fumble their shot at ending Wisco’s Nationals streak.

Northwest

Deserves: 3
Predicted: 3

Edward: +1 for the return of British Columbia and Victoria into the mix, -1 for Washington not giving us anything at 2022 Nationals but an ejected player scavenger hunt, +1 for the Oregon and Oregon State youngsters, +1 for let’s actually figure something out about BYU that involves giving them a chance… Does my math check out?

Patrick: I actually thought the ejected player scavenger hunt was the highlight of Nationals last season.

Ohio Valley

Deserves: 1
Predicted: 1

Patrick: I would love for Pitt to get upset here, but I just don’t see it. I’ll have to settle for the karmic validation of seeing Ohio St. miss out on Nationals when it is right in their backyard, a tantalizing balancing of the karmic scales after the rest of us have had to go to dirt farms in Ohio for tournaments so many f@*%ing times.

Edward: Many people don’t know that Stegemoeller is German for schadenfreude.

South Central

Deserves: 1
Predicted: 3

Patrick: They have gotten so excited to complain about how underrated and underrepresented the South Central is that they deserve yet another chance to howl into the void about how no one respects Dallas as an ultimate community! (We don’t.)

Edward: We don’t. Sorry. But deserve’s got nothing to do with it. (And besides Pat is forgetting about the entire state of Missouri.) The South Central have two shoes in with a pair of perennial contenders and enough depth between the rest that angling for a second strength bid is well within reach.

Southeast

Deserves: 2
Predicted: 1

Edward: That second bid is really an acknowledgment that a couple of things could have swung differently for the second through seventh teams in the region in 2020. Were they really going to challenge Georgia? Picture’s murky at best. But did they toil enough outside of the national spotlight to be able to knock off some other strength earners? The cosmic judge awards them a credit for it…that they may not redeem this season.

Patrick: It does seem like whichever team comes out of the Southeast behind Georgia would at least be a fun crew to have at natties, so that counts for something. Auburn are always appreciated, Georgia Tech or Tulane or Alabama or whoever would be a good time, and it would be kind of hilarious if Florida made Nationals again, right? Really tough to see any of them actually doing enough during the regular season to pull down a second bid though, unless there is some well coordinated collusion at Florida Warm Up.

Southwest

Deserves: 3
Predicted: 2

Edward: You don’t know what actually happens in California men’s anymore and I’m right there with you. I guess they host some tournaments before the rest of the country can shake off the frost. That’s commendable! Let’s give them a strength bid for their service, and then throw a bonus on top because we’re all rooting for Grand Canyon to break through.

Patrick: The Southwest is still owed a couple years of karmic back pay after spending the better part of the 2010s with something like five teams in the top 25 but only one or two bids every season. And if that means Grand Canyon or Santa Clara goes to Nationals despite some shaky qualifications, so be it.


  1. Note: wrote this before the news about Nationals going to Cincinnati. Keeping it in because it is an evergreen statement 

  1. Patrick Stegemoeller
    Avatar

    Patrick Stegemoeller is a Senior Staff Writer for Ultiworld, co-host of the Sin The Fields podcast, and also a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn.

  2. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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