April 24, 2015 by Jesse Moskowitz in Livewire, News with 23 comments
In 2013, I correctly predicted 13 out of the 16 (81%) DIII Nationals qualifiers. Last season, thanks to the Northeast and the Great Lakes, I dipped to a meager 11 out of 16 (69%) – far below the lofty standard I hold myself to. Faced with the facts, I knew I had to pull it back together in 2015. How could I continue to put “The Self-Described Nate Silver of Predicting DIII College Men’s Ultimate Frisbee Nationals Qualifiers” at the top of my resume, if it just wasn’t true?
So I went back to the drawing board. After spending countless hours pining through snarky Twitter mentions and struggling to navigate the still-comically-awful score reporter, I felt vaguely prepared for the task at hand.
And if I learned anything from selecting a date for Metro East DI regionals, it’s that vaguely prepared is good enough.
Elon and Richmond should meet in the finals and play an amazing, memorable slugfest that ends on double game. It’s clockwork at this point. These two teams know each other so well and they’re both talented enough to make it to the finals. They need to be careful, however, because the loser still has to play a backdoor game for the second spot.
Davidson presents the biggest challenger to these two squads, but without Mikeie Reiland, I’m not sure they have enough firepower to take it, especially after fighting through the backdoor bracket. I think UNC-Asheville is quite talented but until they prove that they can win games against good teams, I won’t hold my breath.
Boring, I know, but I think it holds to chalk.
As I prepared to put fingers to keys to start writing my Great Lakes predictions, I let out a big old sigh. For a region that feels like it should be so straight-forward, it’s probably going to end up really strange. I guess for everyone else that’s a good thing, but when my pride is on the line, it’s a different story.
First off, we have a Club Nationals scenario. There are two pools of four, but all eight teams qualify for quarters. I’d be shocked if a team doesn’t try (emphasis on try) to use this to their advantage. There aren’t any dominant teams, so save your legs on Saturday and try to win three random games on Sunday.
Reigning champ Olivet Nazarene is the favorite, but they’ve fallen to Indiana Wesleyan and North Park this season. They technically won the conference tournament, but it was five teams playing for five bids so who knows the gravity of those games.
Honestly, 75% of the teams at this tournament have a realistic shot of winning. Indiana Wesleyan always fails me when I think they’re going to impress, so why not keep rolling with that? It has to work at some point. I’ll take their ceiling, hop on The Kid’s back, and go along for the ride.
1. Indiana Wesleyan
To me, Geneseo fits the mold for success at the DIII level. They have top-end talent in Dave Abbott and Matt Rybak, they have one of the best coaches in the conference in Bryan Jones, and they have a senior core in Colin Peartree, Pat Stegemoeller, and others. These guys have been tested by some of the top DIII teams in the country both last season and in 2015, and they understand what it takes to win big games. They turned it up at regionals last season and I’d be surprised if they didn’t do the same this weekend.
The Abbott-Quinlan battle that Stegemoeller expanded on in the Metro East preview is a really cool narrative. I wouldn’t be surprised if a feisty Hamilton squad upends Fredonia in the semis, but I’m gonna go with my gut and call for a SUNY finals.
Part of me is hoping that Steven’s finds a way to punch the ticket because more Brownlee is just awesome. Things get interesting if they can put it together on Sunday.
(Insert homer Connecticut College Dasein comment here)
1. SUNY Geneseo
I’m more excited for this tournament than I am for a handful of plans I have going on in my real life this weekend. That’s right, Aunt Pam, I wasn’t listening. Amherst is playing Brandeis. With nine legitimate contenders fighting for four bids, every game has serious implications.
So, how does this bracket work? There’s two pools of six. The winners of each pool face off in the “finals” but they each earn a bid regardless. The winner of the finals gets bid number one. The loser falls into a 2nd place/3rd place game against whoever won a game between the second place teams in each pool. So that’s three bids right there.
The fun begins with the mini bracket of the third and fourth place finishers in pool play. Whoever finds their way out of that takes on the loser of that second-seed head-to-head in the game to go.
Going to have some fun with this one. I think Middlebury upsets Amherst to take Pool A. Brandeis wins Pool B. However, Brandeis beats Middlebury in the finals and Amherst gets their revenge in the 2/3 game to grab second.
Some crazy tie-breaker in Pool B puts WPI waiting for their opponent to come out of the third place-fourth place bracket and it’s none other than Bowdoin. WPI’s deep game fails them in the finals and a talented Bowdoin squad takes the fourth bid. The four top seeds are the four best teams, the four best teams earn the four bids.
Williams and Bates look really good. Bryant just falls to Bowdoin in the game before game-to-go.
There’s only three things certain in life: death, taxes, and GOP making Nationals. Fueled by unrelenting positivity and Fruit Pooch, I think they go fairly unchallenged on their way to a title. It’s just what they do. I can’t explain it any more than that.
Now this second bid might be the toughest in the nation to predict. Ben Liska’s Olaf squad looked good at Conferences but struggled a bit during the season. St. John’s fell twice to Olaf last weekend but earned a bid with a solid regular season. Grinnell is the wild card, playing solid ultimate all year but not facing the likes of their top-tier North Central foes.
Is the play for Olaf or Grinnell to throw their pool play head-to-head to take second in the pool, throw their semis crossover against GOP, and be fresh for the backdoor bracket? Probably not. But it’s fun to consider, right?
I think St. John’s finds a way to pull it out. They’ve got some of the more talented players in the region and if they manage their legs they can go the distance. St. Olaf has been too rocky and BAM has been there before.
I’d guess Grinnell takes it if St. John’s doesn’t. But something something horseshoes and hand grenades.
1. Carleton GOP
2. St. John’s
In my humble opinion, it felt like this region deserved more bids. Messiah proved themselves, Oberlin was really tough, and even Cedarville went out and played some solid games. That’s why I’m not confident in this pick.
However, with one bid, and one team that stands above the rest, I have to take Franciscan FATAL. I don’t know what they’re feeding these kids in Steubenville, but I’m going to need some. For a friend. These kids can really ball.
They finally faced some real solid regional competition at Conferences and fought through it. If they can save legs and be fresh for Sunday that would really benefit them. Their top line with the likes of JP Bort and Dom Schuster is scary good. The freshman Schuster scored or assisted on 38 of the team’s 67 points (57%) at Conferences. Why he’s not in the conversation for freshman of the year in the whole country is beyond me. He guarded Sol Yanuck all YCC finals while playing nearly every offensive point!
But I digress.
I think these young guns come out on top. Messiah really impresses. Cedarville is good but not good enough. Oberlin can take the region if it’s windy.
Welp, as if I haven’t written enough about this region. With Air Force out of the picture, this feels like a three-horse race. However, last time I called a region a three-horse race, Olivet Nazarene, the filly with three legs, found a way to win.
I think pool play holds to seed. Harding-John Brown in the semis will play a big role on who takes the second bid. Now, who wins that game? JBU is 2-0 against Harding this season. Harding’s only loss in their last 12 games is to JBU at conferences, but Ironist has won 13 straight themselves. Harding used to be a DIII powerhouse, but few, if any players from those teams remain on the roster. John Brown on the other hand has established themselves as the region’s elite.
Give me John Brown. Even if they fall in semis, I think they fight their way back to the game-to-go. I would be surprised if they lost two games to Harding, even with tired legs. They want it really badly.
I actually really like Harding though. I’m excited to see where they stand next season.
2. John Brown
What do you think? Where am I wrong? Who comes to play?
I’ll stand by my 2014 offer: predict all 13 bids correctly and I’ll send you a disc, buy you a beer, or hire you.
Thanks for reading.