ConfRegionals Mega Preview (Men’s Div. Weekend 1)

Bids to Nationals will be decided right off the bat in the first weekend of the college post season!

Berry’s Collin Hill looks to throw in prequarters against Missouri S&T at the 2023 College Championships. Photo: Rudy Desort – UltiPhotos.com

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D-III is unique as some regions simply don’t have enough teams to fill a regional tournament, meaning their Regionals are during Conferences, or ConfRegionals as dubbed by the former 7500 Club podcast. Out of the ten regions, four necessitate a ConfRegionals, with two happening this weekend and two happening next weekend. With four weekends in a row of Nationals qualifications, it will surely make an exciting time for the division. Without further ado, here are your previews for this weekend’s ConfRegionals.

Northwest

The region that helped kick off the D-III regular season with their Grand Prix will give us our first taste of postseason action this weekend.

Nine teams will flock to Olympia, WA, in hopes of coming away with one of two coveted bids. The proprietors of the bids, #4 Whitman Sweets and #8 Lewis and Clark Bacchus, are heavy favorites to retain possession. Though they lost to Bacchus at Grand Prix, the Sweets have had the best regular season to speak of among teams in the region. However, Bacchus lags only slightly behind Whitman, for L&C has been impressively consistent this regular season. Should these teams find themselves in the game-to-go, expect figurative fireworks.

But the rest of the field shan’t despair. Bacchus, for all their out-of-region success, are hardly invulnerable to the threat of an underdog notching an upset. The word “BLOB” still keeps them up at night. Perhaps the Reed Hoot or Pacific Lutheran Reign Men are destined to abruptly end Bacchus’s season. Far more likely will the Puget Sound Postmen or Portland Uprise pose a serious challenge to Bacchus.

While Whitman and the Bacchus were off humbling the poor East Coast, Puget Sound demonstrated local dominance at the PLU Mens BBQ. Portland took Bacchus to universe at Grand Prix, and we haven’t heard much from them since. Alas, all shall reveal itself in a matter of days.

Any team with hopes of dethroning Bacchus or the Sweets will have to get the ball rolling on Saturday. Letting either of these teams get comfortable will give them the momentum they need to steamroll the competition on Sunday. But should they suffer a shaky start, even the Seattle Throbots or Whitworth Bangarang have a fighting chance.

We can only hope that the Northwest delivers results half as entertaining as the awesome names they seem to churn up without failure.

Southeast

Southeast ConfRegionals will start the postseason off almost certainly with a bang. Even though the Southeast’s level of competition was much lower in 2023, the tournament still provided fireworks as Berry had to win two double-game point matches in a row to win the region. The top teams notched up their play significantly this year, with three teams in our power rankings, making Sunday that much more exciting.

As of now, the presumptive favorites due to their historical performances, have to be the #12 Berry Bucks. The Bucks have won this region every year since 2019 and boast Colin Hill, one of the region’s best players. Hill is already a Donovan award favorite, earning a U24 tryout in 2022, making the ROTY podium in 2021, and playing himself into a Second Team All-American spot in 2023. It would be shocking to fans of the division to not have the chance to watch Hill on the big stage in May for his senior season. Although much of the praise (deservedly) lands on Hill, Berry is a much deeper team this year. Freshman Eli Hoshide pairs well in the handler space with Hill, looking to get the disc to a very athletic Mikey Curtis.

The Bucks have strong wins over #13 Elon and #14 Oberlin, with close losses to previously ranked D-I Illinois, #4 Whitman, and #7 Richmond. There is cause for concern for Berry’s legs deep into tournaments, with a six-point loss to Franciscan on day two of FCS, and a loss to a much weaker Alabama Birmingham at the Magic City Invite, a team they beat the day before. However, the small Southeast field will play into Berry’s hand, allowing them to play fewer games. The tournament is located on Berry’s campus, giving them a home-field advantage, and the crowd on their side.

According to our rankings and USAU’s, the #11 Ave Maria Gyrenes are the algorithmic favorites heading to Mount Berry. The varsity status club did not play a single regular season game last year but dominated in their first year of real play, taking down Florida Warmup Weekend Two, and placing runner-up in the Tally Classic and Huckfest. Their best result on the season is a 14-11 win against a top-55 Auburn team demonstrating the Gyrenes could do serious damage if they were to make Nationals.

Despite their dominance for most of the season, the main reason Ave Maria cannot be considered favorites for the region is their inability to finish out tournaments. The Gyrenes fell to UCF in the final at Tally Classic, a team they defeated the day before, and at Huckfest they lost to a Tarleton State squad 70 ranking spots below them by four. Not to mention, Ave Maria was up on Berry 14-12 in the regional final of last year, before they gave up two breaks to lose it. The Gyrenes will need to rely on the talents of junior Liam O’Rourke, the do-it-all guy for the roster. Along with O’Rourke, Matthew Lesniewski, and Garrett Hallinan will play key roles if Ave Maria wants to claim its first-ever Nationals berth.

The last Southeast team with a serious shot looking to challenge top competitors will be the #24 Union Jaxx. The Jaxx have everything it takes to earn that coveted Nationals spot – they have the star players, boast one of the tallest rosters in the division, and won some strong results. Wins over Navy and Xavier, and a two-point loss to Franciscan look good on the resume and Connor Rigby is a top-three player in the region. However, like Berry, depth will plague Union if they want a legitimate shot at a regional title. Huge losses to Richmond, Lewis, and Clark don’t look great, in addition to a universe point loss to UNC Asheville. Again, as with Berry, if Union can maximize their few games, the region cannot count them out.

  1. Calvin Ciorba
    Calvin Ciorba

    Calvin Ciorba is a D-III Men's writer currently studying Leadership and Economics in his junior year at the University of Richmond. He started his ultimate career in St. Louis, MO playing ultimate at Ladue High School and St. Louis Storm YCC, when he also created the popular frisbee Instagram account Discmemes. Now he has sold the account and plays for the UR Spidermonkeys. You can find him on twitter @calvin_ciorba for passionate takes on the "People's Division."

  2. Bix Weissberg
    Bix Weissberg

    Bix Weissberg plays D-line on the Oberlin Flying Horsecows. He has a love for disc and enjoys writing about DIII college frisbee. In his free time he can be found eating something tasty and smiling. You can reach him at [email protected]

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