May 16, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 9 comments
With USA Ultimate’s release of the official seeding late yesterday, we can now start to look ahead to some wild pool play games.
First, let’s talk seeding.
I think it was very good. It mirrored our seeding predictions very closely, and I have no quibbles with the differences between our brackets. On the Open side, I do think Illinois as dangerous and underseeded at #20, which only adds to the insanity of Pool D (we’ll get to that in a second).
Onto Open Division pool analysis: The first thing to say is, wow, do these pools look stacked. The parity this year doesn’t leave much breathing room, even for the one seeds, in pool play.
Starting in pool A, I certainly wouldn’t bet against Oregon and Colorado to finish to seed, but there are so many question marks in the bottom of the bracket. Dartmouth got a 15-11 win against Colorado at Easterns, but they’ve been plagued by injuries. Georgia shows up to Nationals after a mediocre regular season, but a very solid Regionals performance. Washington had a dreadful regular season, but showed up when it mattered.
It’s hard to see Oregon failing to win the pool, but those two and three spots will be contested.
In Pool B, you can book the top two spots for Wisco and Carleton right now. Harvard and Florida State are going to claw for that third spot. Harvard will have to play FSU — their biggest game in pool play — in their first game of the tournament. Yikes. Don’t forget that FSU almost pulled a huge upset over Carleton at Warm Up, but, as we all know, Carleton is simply a different team at Nationals.
Pool C should be a lot of fun. North Carolina is just barely the favorite to take this pool,
since they beat Central Florida by one at Easterns but they lost by one to Central Florida at Easterns. UNC’s better resume earned them the higher seed, but frankly it is a toss up as to who wins the pool. Their rematch will be a classic. Both of those teams are semifinals material. But they will have to watch their back for upsets from Ohio, UC Davis, and Luther. Ohio is going to be so dangerous in the Nationals format with fewer games (two per day) and more rest. Their weakness is depth, but their top end talent is strong enough to hang with anyone. They beat UCF at Easterns.
Luther is a total wildcard. After a weather-compressed regular season, they have had a strong series, losing only to Wisconsin and Carleton. They may not have Eric Johnson, but they finished in 5th place last year. I would almost guarantee an upset or two.
Finally, we reach Pool D. Talk about a pool of death. This pool is a nightmare for the top seeds. Arizona and Illinois are both dangerously underseeded (Arizona because of their finish at Regionals, Illinois because of their lack of impressive results) in the 4 and 5 spots. Arizona lost to UNC-Wilmington at the Stanford Invite, but only after choking away a big lead. They also beat Texas in their only meeting this season.
UNC-Wilmington is a bit of a mystery in my eyes. They could pull off another big upset, like they did over Texas at the Stanford Invite (VIDEO), or they could slump like they did after that game.
What is clear is that no team is safe in pool D.