Monday, March 31, 2014

Midwest's WCVII Expectations

"The Midwest's reputation is probably the worst it has ever been right now. We are known for having the most teams and being a cluster of second tier teams. The Midwest gets this reputation because of how we look to everyone else on film. Also, having a poor showing against middle tier teams from other regions really lowers the general perception of us as a whole. I really don't understand though why we don't get more respect since we had quite a few successful teams at WC last year. The Midwest can only do one thing to disprove its critics, win."--Dan Daugherty, BGSU

"The Midwest just has not totally proven itself on the biggest stage. We've had final four teams each of the last two years, but both of those were considered Cinderella stories and not a true gauge of the region...The MW needs a strong pool play showing, rather than a strong bracket showing, since pool play is where the most inter-regional play is happening."--Luke Changet, Michigan State
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Must Win Games
Michigan vs. AQ or Santa Barbara: Even in the pool of death, Michigan, a top tier Midwest team, must not get completely shut out of bracket play. Michigan taking fourth in this pool would confirm the reputation the Midwest has gotten this season.

BGSU vs. Florida: In a match between the Cinderellas of World Cups V & VI (and a star showdown between Dan Daugherty and Dre Clements), the Midwest champs will need to secure first place in their pool and avoid falling to the Gators.

Minnesota vs. McGill: In what sounds like a matchup from World Cup V, Minnesota will need to beat a Canadian team that failed to reach its regional championship finals. Not much is expected out of McGill, a team with depth but little star power, and Minnesota's beaters should be completely in control.

Ohio State vs. Rochester: Just two weeks before "brooms up" in North Myrtle Beach, Rochester wreaked havoc on the Midwest's reputation at the Glass City Invitational, defeating Michigan State and BGSU. It will be up to Ohio State to prove that Rochester's victories were a fluke by soundly beating the squad from the Northeast.

Central Michigan vs. Florida's Finest: I believe that, to gain respect, the Midwest must have at least two teams win their pools. While BGSU is expected to win the pool, Minnesota faces a tough game against the Skrewts for pool supremacy. Central Michigan, a team which has yet to lose a tournament this spring, has a fantastic opportunity to steal a pool victory in their match against Florida's Finest. Central Michigan seeker Jeff Fisher will have to out-duel Florida's Finest's newest addition Tyler Macy, though.
Photo by Monica Wheeler
Dangerous Games
Midwest teams are favored to win but a surprise loss in any of these games could seriously damage the image of the region.
BGSU vs. Hofstra: BGSU lost to Rochester in a marathon game at the Glass City Invitational. While there are so many variables, Rochester was crushed by Hofstra way back at Turtle Cup in the Round of 16. Beaters Chad Brown and Joe Pavlik will be tested by one of the best beating corps of the Northeast, led by Alex Leitch.

Central Michigan vs. UNC: Above I talked about how Central Michigan must defeat Florida's Finest to win their pool, but the Midwest squad will have to get by another dangerously hot team in UNC (a merc team version of UNC called NOTUNC beat Maryland at Capitol Cup and UNC placed second at the Carolinas Quidditch Conference championship).

Kansas vs. Richmond: I've talked before about how Richmond is a completely different team that's they were at World Cup VI. With Kansas' major roster adjustments, keeper Jeremy Day and senior chaser Paco Darcey could cause trouble for the Jayhawk defense.

Honorable Mention: Ohio State vs. The Silver Phoenix and Michigan State vs. Long Beach Funky Quaffles

Huge Opportunity Games
Midwest teams are not favored to win but a win or even a snitch range loss in any of these games could vastly improve the region's reputation.
Missouri vs. LSU: With the addition of chaser Alex Scheer, Missouri might be closer to a top tier Midwest team rather than a second tier Midwest team. In addition, LSU can be very inconsistent (20 point loss to Lost Boys following a 150 point loss against UT at Diamond Cup). For Missouri, who exited the Midwest Regional Championship in the quarterfinals, defeating LSU would be shocking.

Ball State vs. Emerson or NAU: Facing tough pool play matchups against Emerson and NAU, Ball State could take third in their pool and it wouldn't hurt the reputation of the Midwest at all. However, if Ball State could outperform Emerson or NAU in the transition, it would be a very solid win for the Midwest.

Ohio State vs. Lost Boys and Kansas vs. Texas A&M: As unlikely as it seems, Kansas defeated the Southwest Regional Champions in pool play last year and Ohio State has a passing game that could rival the Lost Boys' attack. Even staying within 60 points of the nation's two best teams would be a big accomplishment. Playing against the best is always a huge opportunity and history remembers those who seize the opportunity.
Photo by Monica Wheeler
Cinderella Odds
Every World Cup produces a signature Cinderella story and several other prominent Davids that slay Goliaths. What are the odds that Cinderella will be from the Midwest?
With Minnesota fighting their way into Icahn Stadium at World Cup V and BGSU knocking off Miami, Maryland and the Lost Boys en route to the Final Four, the Cinderella team of the past two World Cups have called the Midwest home. While Minnesota was somewhat overshadowed by Florida, the Midwest has had two teams shockingly advance to the Final Four two World Cups in a row. In my opinion, the Midwest has 7 or 8 top tier teams, but none of them are elite enough to be predicted to make the Final Four. So statistically, the Midwest has a very good chance to produce the Cinderella team of World Cup VII. However, I believe the clock has struck midnight on the Midwest.

Odds: 4-1

Any sane bookmaker would never give 4-1 odds (or a 20% chance) that World Cup VII's Cinderella will come from the Midwest, but I see problems that will prevent Midwest teams from stealing the quidditch community's hearts a third time though. Teams are going to be ready for BGSU and seeker Sam Roitblat this year. Even if Kansas shows up with star seeker Keir Rudolph, the main pillars of their quaffle game this season, Colby Soden and Jordan Callison, will be absent. Yellow and red cards have plagued Central Michigan. Michigan State is too dependent on Jacob Heppe to knock off several elite teams in a row. Ohio State's seeking has been too inconsistent. I could go on for Ball State, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri. Case in point, a team from another region will take the spotlight as a Cinderella at World Cup VII.

World Cup Title Odds
What are the odds that a Midwest team will hoist the World Cup VII trophy?

Odds: 99-1

While in the past, Midwest teams have been well suited for exciting Cinderella runs, they have been unable to hang with truly elite quidditch squads (besides Kansas' win over Baylor). I believe winning the seventh edition of the IQA World Cup is very unlikely for any Midwest team.

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