May 16, 2013 by Keith Raynor in Livewire, Opinion with 1 comments
With the USAU’s release of the 2013 Women’s College Championships schedule, seedings, and pools, we can really start to get a picture of what Madison will be like. Coaching staffs can begin digging into scouting and fans can begin planning their weekends. For us media folk, it is time to start doing what we do best: talking.
The Women’s seeding had two sections that were unsettled: the 3-6 seeds and the 11-13 seeds. Ultiworld’s predictions saw Iowa State taking the 3rd spot, leaving Tufts, Iowa, and Ohio State behind. While Iowa State landed where expected, Iowa was placed over Tufts, giving them a one seed, but keeping them in the same pools. In the second curious grouping, the trio of Minnesota, Georgia, and Stanford seemed like they could be ordered a couple of ways. USAU rewarded Stanford’s head to head blowout over Minnesota, giving them the 12th seed, with Georgia ahead of them at 11, and Minnesota behind at 13. The only other surprise was Wisconsin, a wildcard with a mercurial resume, the final 2-seed spot by making them the 8th overall seed. Washington suffered, falling to 9th overall.
Looking at the pools themselves, no pool looks particularly comfortable, but Pools C and D look downright frightening.
Pool D is probably the one most will view as the traditional Pool of Death. That’s not surprising, with two very real contenders in Iowa and Tufts, plus the reigning champion, Washington. All three of these teams are deep and experienced. Add onto that a surging Texas squad and an Ottawa team that nobody has seen yet and this pool could be full of tight dramatic games. I wouldn’t be surprised if the top three all take a loss to one another.
Another pool with multiple contenders is Pool C. Iowa State is an extremely talented team at the top, but Ohio State has beaten them once this year (and has the point differential edge in their 1-1 series). Virginia has also shown an ability to compete with the nation’s top talent. Central Florida is a four seed in this pool, but has wins over Wisconsin, Stanford, and Texas this year, meaning they cannot be counted out for an upset. I expect Iowa State to come out on top, but after that, it is anybody’s game for who takes the two Prequarters spots.
Oregon is, again, the #1 overall seed, and the favorite to win Pool A and this year’s crown. A hot and cold Wisconsin team nearly beat Oregon earlier this season and will be hungry for a chance to set the tone for their weekend, as these teams play each other in their first game. Stanford is peaking at the right team and Minnesota talent may outperform their inexperience this weekend. After Oregon, things could get messy depending on how these inconsistent but well armed teams match up.
Pool B is made significantly more interesting by the strength of their two seed. British Columbia’s results don’t tell the whole story, as they have rarely been at full strength this season as they will be in Madison. A completely stocked UBC is a contender. Carleton is the top seed here, on the back of a very strong season. Georgia is a team with a big, experienced, and talented group at the top. UC-Santa Barbara was a point away from being a three seed, but fell to Stanford in the Southwest Regional Championship. Northwestern is inconsistent, but has to be confident having wins over Georgia and Iowa State on their resume.
The field is strong and the list of teams that could make a run is long. Despite all of that, a star-studded Oregon team will be the odds on favorite. We’ve seen them falter from that position before and should be prepared to expect the unexpected.