2023 D-I College Preseason Power Rankings: #1-5

We preview teams #1-5 in our Power Rankings heading into the 2023 college season.

Ultiworld’s College Power Rankings, presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp! Right now, registration are open for their online “Intro to Coaching Course” that can help you prepare to lead your team. Find out more at NUTC.net.

We are excited to present the 2023 preseason College Power Rankings! As we head into a new season, we’ve looked at past performance, roster changes, preseason results, and more to figure out how we think the team could stack up this season. Take a look at our first rankings set of the spring college season and read up about each Top 25 team.

We will be counting down our rankings in three parts:

The #25 to #16
The #15 to #6
The Top 5


D-I Women’s

1. North Carolina Pleiades

2022 Finish: #1 in Power Rankings, National Champion, 38-0 record

Where to start with the two-time defending champs? How about with the reigning Player of the Year and Callahan winner, Dawn Culton, back for what will surely be another incredible season. Or with Culton’s longtime teammate, Grace Conerly, who returns alongside Ella Juengst, Alex Barnett, and Theresa Yu, who, among others, headline this absurdly deep and talented roster. This year the Pleiades picked up just six rookies to add to the team, meaning UNC should pick up right where they left off last May—as clear favorites to win yet another national championship.

– Jenna Weiner

2. Colorado Quandary

2022 Finish: #2 in Power Rankings, Runner-up at Nationals, 28-8 record

After coming this close to a program-first national championship, there wasn’t much on Colorado’s wish list coming into 2023. They’ll happily take the gift of a fully healthy Bailey Shigley though, who will join her 2018 U20 teammates Clil Phillips and Stacy Gaskill in about as a powerful trio that can drive play. Add in the big-moment experience of Saioa Lostra, the continued growth of Abbie Gillach and Emma Williamson, and the return of two of their three top goal scorers from last season in Emma Cortright and Megan Kenny, and Quandary have all they need to get over the finish line this year.

– Jenna Weiner

3. Vermont Ruckus

2022 Finish: #9 in Power Rankings, T-5th at Nationals, 22-7 record

Vermont’s Northwest Challenge showing got the hype machine whirring last season, although it was derailed with an ending we’ll leave unspoken. 2022 was only a preview for the main attraction. Many of Vermont’s most productive players are back, including Kennedy McCarthy, Sarah VonDoepp, Emily Pozzy, Lylah Bannister, and Marina Godley-Fisher. A healthy Rachel Oram-Brown, plus rookies Caroline Stone and Ashley Schlinger, will give them all the talent they need to take the lessons of their first season as a top tier team and convert them into a title-worthy campaign for a club we might want to get used to being a contender.

– Keith Raynor

4. British Columbia Thunderbirds

2022 Finish: #6 in Power Rankings, T-5th at Nationals, 15-7 record

UBC are no stranger to Team Canada representation, and since it’s a U24 season, we’ll get the selection committee’s help in identifying their most impactful returners. Many will point to Madison Ong and Mika Kurahashi, two All-American threats, but don’t sleep on the athletic roster surrounding them, including Andrea Moir and Anna Goddu. Plus, per usual, they have one of the division’s flushest pipelines of experienced youth talent. Last year’s strong showing at Nationals gave them ample opportunities to build upon a solid foundation, allowing for the refinement to compete for the program’s second title.

– Keith Raynor

5. UC Santa Barbara Burning Skirts

2022 Finish: #4 in Power Rankings, T-3rd at Nationals, 32-3 record

The reigning Southwest champs come into this season looking to make it three straight semifinal appearances and there’s little reason to think that the Burning Skirts won’t be able to do so. Their goal and assist leaders are back in Devin Quinn and Julia Hasbrook, respectively, and a cadre of veterans including captains Vienna Lee, Laura Blume, and Tori Hausch will help support the pair of sophomore stars. Add in UCSB’s usual cast of talented rookies and the pieces are all there for a Skirts semis three-peat.

– Jenna Weiner

D-I Men’s

1. North Carolina Darkside

2022 Finish: #1 in Power Rankings, National Champion, 43-4 record

The two-time defending national champions haven’t slowed down a bit. Even without an all-time player in Liam Searles-Bohs in the mix, they have all the talent in the world thanks to world-class recruiting and development. Josh Singleton, Ben Dameron, Rutledge Smith, and John McDonnell are names you already know for their ability to help deliver second straight title to Chapel Hill, and they add Dylan Hawkins from NC State.

– Edward Stephens

2. Colorado Mamabird

2022 Finish: #4 in Power Rankings, T-3rd at Nationals, 30-2 record

There’s a case to be made for Colorado to be ranked #1. Sure, UNC are the two time defending champions, but if I said Danny Landesman and Calvin Stoughton would be the two best players in that matchup, would anyone except the Dylan Hawkins truthers blink? Rostering a handful of players coming off of a club championship should only bolster the confidence of a team that has enough talent to end the season holding a trophy, including another division-leading crop of rookies.

– Alex Rubin

3. Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur

2022 Finish: #5 in Power Rankings, T-3rd at Nationals, 21-6 record

Two things tend to win in college ultimate: stars (think John Stubbs, 2016) and systems (think UNC, 2014-present). Well Pitt are the ultimate system team given their sustained success that spans the last decade, and they have the biggest star with Henry Ing entering the season as a preseason POTY favorite. Until their semifinal loss, Pitt looked like the best team at 2022 Nationals. If they can continue to develop enough mid-roster support around their high-usage talent, En Sabah Nur will once again be a force to be reckoned with.

– Alex Rubin

4. Brown Brownian Motion

2022 Finish: #2 in Power Rankings, Runner-up at Nationals, 31-1 record

On the one hand, Brown are a team that ran a lot of touches through their top players, and it’s hard to not see them take a step back after losing John Randolph and Dylan Villeneuve. But on the other hand, Brown are a team that runs a lot of their touches through their top players, so Jacques Nissen and Leo Gordon might be able to do a convincing enough Stubbs and Vandenburg impression. The coaching staff has shown a penchant for maximizing role players, so expect more from Elliott Rosenberg, Cal Nightingale, and rookie Jason Tapper.

– Patrick Stegemoeller

5. Vermont Chill

2022 Finish: #10 in Power Rankings, T-9th at Nationals, 25-10 record

UVM Chill are the open division’s hottest club… sports team. They’ve got everything – multiple U24 players, a strong youth pipeline, an exciting previous season to build off, a bombastic social media presence – all of it backed up by a core of a college team that played together on a successful club team over the summer and built a huge head of hype coming into the college season. They don’t lack for confidence, that’s for sure, but are they ready for the big time?

– Patrick Stegemoeller

  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

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

  2. 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.

  3. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Philadelphia to experience real seasons and eat soft pretzels. You can reach Alex through e-mail (rubin.alex14@gmail.com) or Twitter (@arubes14).

  4. Keith Raynor
    Keith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is a Senior Editor and the Business Development Manager at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email (keith@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

  5. Jenna Weiner
    Jenna Weiner

    Jenna Weiner is a Senior Staff Writer, a co-host of Ultiworld's Double Overtime podcast, and considers herself a purveyor of all levels of ultimate. She's played mostly on the west coast but you're likely to find her at the nearest ultimate game available.

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