Western Cup is this weekend!! After reading predictions from the Eighth Man and the IQA I just have to chime in because some of those predictions and some of that reasoning, well, you decide... :)
Pool 1: USC, Arizona State, Santa Barbara Blacktips, and Riverside
Pool 1 is the toughest pool in my opinion. USC's strong lineup is led by August Lurhs, Remy Conatser and David Demarest. That core or chasing attack with Lurhs facilitating play like a point guard from the keeper position will be enough to win most of these games, but a strong defense, with an emphasis on beating, will stop USC in bracket play.
While the IQA predicted Arizona State will go 0-3, I think that is foolish. With Willie Jackson, one of the strongest and most dominant keepers in the west anchoring a hard-hitting defense, ASU will pose a threat to USC and their game against the Blacktips will be one for the books.
The Santa Barbara Blacktips, a team that could easily be dismissed because of their new-ness to the Quidditch world, was wisely considered by both the Eighth Man and the IQA. The Blacktips traveled all the way to Utah for the Snow Cup, a journey that proved their dedication and continue to post decent to good results at smaller Northern Californian tourneys. Watch out for the Blacktips.
The IQA predicted Riverside would end in 11th place. I believe that is inaccurate because of the pure strength of their pool. Riverside goes 0-3.
Arizona State 2-1
Santa Barbara 1-2
Pool 2: UCLA, NAU, Hollywood Harpies, Oxy Doxies
Pool 2 is really only a competition between UCLA and NAU and that might not even be a competition. As I mentioned in my previous post, UCLA has played very well since their disappointing fall season ended. While experience was gained against star teams from the South and Southwest, Miami and Texas, few good results came forth. Their story has since changed. Led by a fantastic male beating core which features Asher Abramson, two highly effective chasers who have become comparable in the quidditch world to Serena and Venus in tennis, Missy Sponagle and Vanessa Goh and keeper Zachary Luce, UCLA is my favorite out of this pool.
NAU has been shaky this season. Although they have beaten Arizona State, they were destroyed 140*-40 by UCLA in Albuquerque. The Narwhals are a defensive team and high powered offenses like UCLA's are a death knell to NAU. The Narwhals can be physical, but they cannot keep up with the fastest teams.
The Hollywood Harpies and the Oxy Doxies will fight to keep out of the cellar of this pool. The Harpies recently lost their best player, Tony Rodriguez to the Lost Boys and have no player to fill the gap.
Oxy Doxies 0-3
Pool 3: Lost Boys, San Jose State, California, Golden Snitches, British Columbia
The Lost Boys are up in the top of the Western Region now with the addition of Rodriguez. The tactical minds of Steve DiCarlo and Dan Hanson will be invincible now with the star player they have always needed in order to be a top team.
San Jose State has the ability to be the Cinderella team at this year's Western Cup for the second year in a row. Last year, SJSU won their pool and they have continued to make progress since, playing California regularly.
California are the losers here. While I believe they are a very capable team, they are vulnerable to letting up against smaller teams. Cal rarely plays the best of the West and normally plays teams like Stanford, SJSU and the Skrewts (I'll get to them later). When the Golden Bears finally make it to the big stage, I think there is a chance that they might play less hard against any of their normally opponents and get handed a loss on a snitch grab.
I would say it is very unlikely that the Golden Snitches (Cal's 2nd team right?) or UBC get the best of any of these teams.
Lost Boys 3-1
San Jose State 3-1
Golden Snitches 1-3
Pool 4: Utah, Skrewts, Arizona, Stanford
Pool 4 is the weakest IMO. The IQA's favorite, the Silicon Valley Skrewts have not beaten Cal recently and their one of their "best wins" according to the Eighth Man is a 70*-50 win over the Lost Boys. 1) that win was before the Lost Boys had Rodriguez and 2) they were losing by 10 at the time of a lucky snatch.
Utah is my favorite because of a strong, but second place finish at their Snow Cup. A relatively n team will bond and play behind their veterans to a WC6 spot.
Arizona and Stanford are similar in the fact that they routinely play good teams and are newish teams from big universities. Stanford has made progress though, while Arizona continues to be blown out by NAU and ASU.
Crimson Fliers 3-0
More will be posted throughout the weekend. Right now my WC6 teams are UCLA, USC, Lost Boys, Utah Crimson Fiers, California, and Arizona State.