Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Midwest Regional Championship Predictions

By Ryan Sparks, Colin Richards, and Tyler Mitchell via The Quidditch Post

(Ryan Sparks authors The Hoop Zone on Tumblr, and plays for BMQC. Colin Richards authors Land of Lincoln Quidditch on Tumblr, and plays for Illinois State. Tyler Mitchell is the field captain for USQ-unofficial University of Toledo)

Ryan Sparks: Alright fellas! Let's start our discussion of these pools. We'll go through pool-by-pool, focusing strictly on pool play of MWRC.

Pool One: Kansas, Blue Mountain (BMQC), Purdue, Spartan Spitfires, and Northwestern

Colin Richards
: I think this is Kansas' pool to lose, its only challenge should be Blue Mountain but I think having Keir Rudolph gives the team the advantage. Northwestern could give Purdue a run for its money. I expect records to be as follows: Kansas 4-0, Blue Mountain 3-1, Purdue 2-2, Spartan Spitfires 1-3, Northwestern 0-4.

Ryan Sparks: Well, just having Keir Rudolph, while a huge asset, to be certain, can't guarantee victory for Kansas. If BMQC's beaters can hold onto bludger control, I think that even Keir has a difficult time beating them. Blue Mountain has a far deeper rotation at seeker than Kansas, with a lot of different looks it can throw at the snitch. Obviously, the premier matchup of the pool will be Kansas vs. Blue Mountain. Ultimately, I agree with your predictions in terms of records, but Blue Mountain has the potential to pull off the huge upset.

Tyler Mitchell: I agree with Colin. Kansas has shown the results this year and history of performing well to be the favorite in the group. I'm excited to see how Blue Mountain matches up against Kansas. And from what I heard Northwestern is a physical team that could surprise Purdue or Spartan Spitfires. I think it's going to end Kansas 4-0, BMQC 3-1, Purdue 2-2, Northwestern 1-3, Spartan Spitfires 0-4.

Ryan Sparks: I think one thing that we need to keep in mind is Kansas' relative lack of experience at this point in the year. Having only played in nine official matches this year, do you think that could have an effect on the outcome of its match against Blue Mountain, who comes in with the most games played in the nation so far?

Tyler Mitchell: The most games in the nation needs to have an asterisk since Blue Mountain has yet to play a tournament with a full roster. And Kansas may have a minimal amount of games, but they are against quality opponents. It also has a World Cup level B-team in the Crimson Warhawks to help it out.

Colin Richards: I think its possible, but Kansas has got in some games against some good Southwest teams. It played Minnesota (another Pot One team), with the game ending in a 120*-20 victory, which is huge. Kansas is going to come down to Samy Mousa's ability to work with his beater partner. While Samy is fantastic, I am less impressed with Kansas’ female beaters.

Ryan Sparks: That's another storyline to keep track of that you bring up, Tyler. How much different will Blue Mountain look now that they'll have a full 21? It was able to defeat many of the Midwest's elite with limited numbers, does that bode well for the team here?

Tyler Mitchell: It depends if they are able to click well together. There is little doubt that there is talent on the roster of BMQC, but whether it can come together is the question. I think having the complete 21 will help more on the second day than the first.

Colin Richards: I think having a full 21 can't be anything but an advantage for Blue Mountain. Potentially having Isaac Mitchell as a BACKUP keeper is huge for them, and creates another massive scoring threat on its second line. Isaac could even start at keeper and move Chris Barnard to chaser.

Ryan Sparks: That is something that Blue Mountain did at Mid-Michigan Melee to great success, putting in Barnard as a point chaser, with John Gaffigan playing keeper the whole tournament. Another interesting storyline to keep track of is whether or not Krystina Packard will be fully recovered from her injury or not by the time the regional championship rolls around, adding a bona fide top-tier female chaser to their ranks. Blue Mountain is a defense first team, which makes its matchup with Kansas one that I am salivating over. Now, onto a decidedly less interesting pool, at least at the top. 

Pool Two: Minnesota, Michigan State (MSU), Illinois (U of I), Falcon Warriors, and Southern Indiana

Tyler Mitchell: I've always enjoyed watching Minnesota play. The team is somewhat unknown but it has a system that has worked for it. That is three players defending the hoops. I believe it will take care of business. We learned that Michigan State is a Jacob Heppe based team. I believe it will qualify for World Cup, but won't be able to overcome Minnesota's defense. The only real question I have is the Illinois-Falcon Warriors matchup.

Colin Richards: I agree with Tyler, having Jacob Heppe completely changes Michigan State and makes it a very dangerous Pot Two team. I think that Falcon Warriors could upset U of I because they have more people on their team as well as the benefit of a great A team in BGSU. Southern Indiana is a question mark and could keep a game with Falcon Warriors or U of I close but I don't see them winning a game. Overall I think  Minnesota 4-0, MSU 3-1, Falcon Warriors 2-2, U of I 1-3, Southern Indiana 0-4.

Ryan Sparks: I agree. MSU lives and dies by Jacob Heppe, but I think MSU's beaters could be good enough to keep hold of bludger control, which makes running the hoop zone a nightmare for Minnesota. In the hoop zone defense, your team has to have and keep bludger control for it to remain effective. If MSU can keep bludger control, that will allow Heppe to run wild in the quaffle game. I also think that Falcon Warriors is clearly the number three team in this pool, and they've had the benefit of playing better competition, which is why they were in a lower pot to begin with than Illinois. No doubt in my mind, Falcon Warriors beat both Illinois and Southern Indiana.

Tyler Mitchell: Minnesota 4-0, MSU 3-1, Falcon Warriors 2-2, Illinois 1-3, Southern Indiana 0-4

Ryan Sparks: I just don't know how I feel about Minnesota yet at this point. Yes, it has defeated Arkansas, but it has also lost to Oklahoma State, and was absolutely trounced by Kansas, who likely won due to superior beaters. The matchup between Minnesota and MSU is a tossup, but everything else I see falling out the same way.

Tyler Mitchell: Minnesota lost to Oklahoma State the first time, but then turned around and beat them out of snitch range.

Ryan Sparks: That's a good point. I still call it a tossup, as I have yet to see anything from Minnesota that convinces me it has a better beater game than Michigan State.

Pool Three: Ball State, Marquette, Mighty Bucks, Wooster, and Southern Illinois (SIU)

Ryan Sparks: This pool is most definitely Ball State's to lose, but aside from that, I think it shakes out pretty much the way that the teams are ordered. And honestly, I think if Mighty Bucks can put together a solid strategy and play good team ball, they could upset Marquette. The only results from official matches (according to Quidditch-Reference) I have for Marquette shows it beating Purdue in snitch range, losing to Bowling Green in snitch range (in what looks more like a sloppy showing from BG as opposed to a great game from Marquette), and losing to Miami out of snitch range.

Colin Richards: I agree, there's no way Ball State drops a game in this pool unless Marquette turns into 2012 Marquette. I don't think Mighty Bucks have a great chance to upset Marquette, but I do believe Southern Illinois could upset both Wooster and Mighty Bucks. Wooster has a small number of males on its team which could be problematic in a matchup with SIU who are very aggressive tacklers. I don't think either of the teams will be expecting anything from SIU which works to their advantage. Overall I think Ball State 4-0, Marquette 3-1, SIU 2-2, Mighty Bucks avenge their loss to Wooster at Phoenix Cup to go 1-3, and Wooster 0-4

Tyler Mitchell: I definitely agree that Ball State should run away with this group. And Marquette should take a pretty comfortable second. I don't know a lot about SIU so I'm not too sure about how it will fare against Wooster and Mighty Bucks. But I believe it's a toss up between SIU and Mighty Bucks for the third spot. So with that said Ball State 4-0, Marquette 3-1, Mighty Bucks 2-2, SIU 1-3, and Wooster 0-4.

Ryan Sparks: I think Mighty Bucks takes the third spot rather handily. Again, SIU is a question mark at this point, but Mighty Bucks have been putting together some pretty solid games.

Colin Richards: I think if any Pot Four team has any hope of winning more than one game its SIU, I've seen the team play numerous times over the course of this year and last year, I know it can do it 

Ryan Sparks: SIU is just a huge question mark for Tyler and me at least, as we haven't seen them play, nor have results to go off of.

Colin Richards: Understandable.

Tyler Mitchell: When I saw Mighty Bucks at Dumbledore Memorial I saw a lot of athletes that just need time to learn the game.

Ryan Sparks: I agree with that assessment of Mighty Bucks. Ohio University, a Pot Two team, needed a snitch catch to beat them at Phoenix Cup. I think that says a lot about the things that Mighty Bucks can do if they play together and stick to their gameplan.

Pool Four: Michigan, Ohio (OU), Indiana (IU), and Iowa State

Ryan Sparks: This is by far, at least in my mind, the easiest pool to call.

Tyler Mitchell: What are your thoughts on it? 

Ryan Sparks: Michigan should crush every team on its way to an undefeated pool play record, and OU should be able to handle IU and Iowa State, neither of which has looked very impressive this year. OU has just played better competition than IU or Iowa State at this point, and I think that'll show in its matchups against them.  IU and Iowa State are a bit of a tossup in my mind, but I lean toward IU, as it holds a win over Mighty Bucks, a better program than Iowa State.

Colin Richards: I agree with Ryan about Michigan and OU but I would give Iowa State an edge over IU. IU lost to U of I 120*-60 at the Northern Illinois tournament this past weekend and then didn't show for bracket play of day two (not sure on the story of that) but with that information alone I think Iowa State has a better shot to win that matchup. Michigan 3-0, OU 2-1, Iowa State 1-2, IU 0-3.

Tyler Mitchell: From my understanding IU didn't have a full team and combined with the merc team for bracket play. But I'm going to have to agree with Colin. Iowa State had athletes last year and it wasn’t close to fielding a full team. I believe it can only go up. So Michigan 3-0, OU 2-1, Iowa State 1-2, IU 0-3.

Ryan Sparks: Well, that was easy haha. 

Pool Five: Central Michigan (CMU), Miami, Crimson Warhawks, Loyola

Colin Richards: I think CMU is a weaker team than last year but it is still a Pot One team and it earned that spot. Miami's female beaters are great, but I'd like to see some more from its male beaters that are not Braden Grimes. In two games Illinois State (ISU) played against Miami at Phoenix Cup, Miami struggled to regain bludger control but still had enough talent at chaser to win. I think it can beat Crimson Warhawks who, if the trend from last year holds, will be a very aggressive team. Loyola got a really tough pool and I don't see them winning a game. CMU 3-0, Miami 2-1, Crimson Warhawks 1-2, Loyola 0-3

Ryan Sparks: I agree completely. Miami might be able to win the beater battle against CMU, but CMU is just too talented in the quaffle game for that to make a huge difference. Miami should beat Crimson Warhawks, who needed a snitch catch to beat TC Frost, a team I believe would lose to Miami handily.

Tyler Mitchell: Definitely. I think Miami has the ability to pull off the upset against CMU, but I think CMU just has too much quaffle talent. And I think there is a noticeable gap between CMU/Miami,  Crimson Warhawks, and Loyola.

Ryan Sparks: Yeah, quidditch is a sport that is sometimes determined by which team wants it more, and Miami draws CMU right after the afternoon break, so if it comes in focused, it might be able to catch CMU napping. Do I think this will happen? Probably not. But could it? Definitely.

Pool Six: Ohio State (OSU), Missouri, Eastern Michigan (EMU), and Indiana University South Bend (IUSB)

Ryan Sparks: Second to last pool now, which could be renamed Ohio State and everyone else, honestly. Yes, Missouri is a quality program who should easily capture the second spot in this pool, but even it won't be able to slow down a full strength Ohio State roster. EMU and IUSB (IUSB) should have a competitive match, but that's about it.

Tyler Mitchell: I think the one, two are the top two without too much debate. Ohio State is the favorite of many people to win the regional championship. And Missouri had a good World Cup last year with each loss it had being in snitch range. And I think Eastern Michigan and IUSB comes down to the snitch grab.

Colin Richards: Okay yeah, not much to say here. Ohio State has shown it can win with low numbers, so it shouldn't have any problem with these teams. Mizzou has improved from last year in my opinion but I can't see them getting a win against OSU. Eastern Michigan and IUSB will be interesting but I think Eastern takes it. Ohio State 3-0, Mizzou 2-1, EMU 1-2, IUSB 0-3

Tyler Mitchell: I have the same predictions. Ohio State 3-0, Missouri 2-1, EMU 1-2, IUSB 0-3

Ryan Sparks: Glad you guys see it my way! Onto the last pool, which I think is actually incredibly interesting. 

Pool Seven: Bowling Green (BGSU), Grand Valley (GVSU), TC Frost, and Illinois State (ISU)

Colin Richards: Well I think this is gonna be a slugfest, there are legitimately three teams here that could go 2-1. Obviously none of these teams are going to beat BGSU, but the rest of the teams are all about equal strength in my opinion. I think ISU with a more complete team can beat GVSU, who it lost to by 10 at Mid-Michigan Melee 100*-90. GVSU losing Gabe Unick has hurt the team and it shows. TC Frost is a huge question mark. It crushed Iowa State at Kansas Cup but then lost to it by a similar margin at North Star. I think whichever of these teams don't advance will be better than some of the teams moving on from other pools, but that's just the way things are sometimes. I expect games between ISU, Grand Valley, and TC Frost to be snitch range games. BG 3-0, ISU 2-1, GVSU 1-2, TC Frost 0-3

Ryan Sparks: I completely agree with your assessment. I think that ISU is a much better team than people give it credit for, and I think this is where it can beat GVSU. I don't expect TC Frost to win against GV or ISU. ISU has very solid beaters, led by you, Colin, and some very good quaffle weapons in Jeff Siwek, Nick Sorrentino, and Alyssa Marassa. I think they can beat GV and TC Frost and take second place in this pool.

Tyler Mitchell: I agree with both of you guys. I believe that whichever team finishes fourth is more deserving than some of the other teams that will finish third in other pools. ISU,  GVSU,  and TC Frost are going to be close games that will be decided by snitch grabs. But it's obvious that BGSU should run away with this pool. BGSU 3-0, ISU 2-1, GVSU 1-2, and TC Frost 0-3

Ryan Sparks: Alright, with the discussion for pools now finished, I think we move onto the piece that everybody is really looking forward to: The 18 teams that we think will qualify for World Cup. Tyler, I'll let you go first, as the only analyst here whose team isn't competing at the regional championship (EVEN THOUGH I REALLY WISH IT WAS.)


Tyler Mitchell: In no particular order: Kansas,  BMQC, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ball State, Michigan,  Ohio, Central Michigan, Miami, Ohio State, Mizzou, BGSU, GVSU, Illinois State, Crimson Warhawks, Marquette, Mighty Bucks, and Iowa State.

Ryan Sparks: I would say: Kansas, BMQC, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ball State, Michigan, Ohio, Central Michigan, Miami, Ohio State, Mizzou, BGSU, GVSU, Illinois State, Crimson Warhawks, Marquette, Falcon Warriors, and Mighty Bucks.

Colin Richards: I have: Kansas, BMQC, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ball State, Michigan, Ohio, Central Michigan, Miami, Ohio State, Mizzou, BGSU, GVSU, Illinois State, Crimson Warhawks, Marquette, Purdue, and Southern Illinois.

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