Thursday, April 3, 2014

Northeast's WCVII Expectations

"You'd think the Northeast did everything it possibly could this year. Stomp on McGill and Ottawa? Check. Go down to Turtle Cup and end up with an all-Boston final? Check. Send a mid-tier team into the Midwest to wreck havoc against its top tier teams? Check. And yet, there's still an air of doubt that surrounds the region. BU and Emerson crashing out of World Cup VI still weighs heavy. World Cup is the only place where that air can be lifted."--Ethan Sturm

Must Win Games
Emerson vs. NAU and Ball State: At the end of the fall season, this pool would have been the clear pool of death. However, NAU failed to break away from the West's second tier at the Gold Medal Invitational, lost several players to suspensions and will only be bringing 16 players to North Myrtle Beach. Ball State hasn't performed as well as they did in the fall either. Emerson, as the Pot One team, really needs to sweep this pool for the Northeast's reputation to improve.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Tufts vs. LSU and Gee-Gees: While Tufts certainly didn't get drawn into a pool of death, they have a couple of big name teams on their Saturday schedule. The Northeast has beaten the Gee-Gees handily before and Tufts' strategy should be advanced enough to stop LSU. Considering where Tufts has fallen in the past few Eighth Man polls, these games are must-wins.

NYU vs. Oklahoma Baptist: A semifinalist at a Regional Championship always needs to take care business against a team that snagged one of the last few spots in another region. Playing Oklahoma Baptist is no easy match for NYU though and it could determine a bracket play spot. In the spotlight for NYU vs. Oklahoma Baptist will be beaters Kyle Jeon and Chandler Smith.

Dangerous Games
Northeast teams are favored to win but a surprise loss in any of these games could seriously damage the image of the region.
BU vs. Oklahoma State: While Austin Quidditch has gotten all the hype from the Southwest, Hayden Applebee's Oklahoma State squad only lost to AQ on a snitch catch in the finals of the Bottom of the Bracket Invitational. Oklahoma State springing an upset on BU, who has looked invincible in the Northeast, would send shockwaves around World Cup very early in the day. 
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Macaulay vs. Utah Crimson Fliers: Macaulay will probably have closer games against bracket play locks Miami and Texas State than the Utah Crimson Fliers, but in a do-or-die game in the late afternoon, the Crimson Fliers will be fighting to continue their return to World Cup and extend their cross-country journey into bracket play. The Crimson Fliers' signature heart and determination will be tested against the fireworks of Macaulay seeker Andrew Zagelbaum.

Huge Opportunity Games
Northeast 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.
Macaulay vs. Miami or Texas State: Macaulay wouldn't have to worry about a loss to the Utah Crimson Fliers if they could knock off Miami, the Southern Regional Champs, or Texas State, a team that perfectly embodies the smash-mouth, hard-hitting Southwest style of play.

Syracuse vs. Michigan State: I've said before that Michigan State's offense has looked dysfunctional and too reliant on long shots. If Michigan State struggles to get into a rhythm and the score stays low like I expect, it would set up a bracket play-worthy seeker battle between Jacob Heppe and Duane Ford.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
QC Boston vs. UT: Higlighted as the toughest challenge of pool play for the defending champions, QC Boston looked to be on the rise at the end of the fall season. If point defenders Kedzie Teller and Brain Zhangi can shut down UT keeper Augie Monroe, the Massacre have a good chance to keep the score in snitch range. The community squad from Boston has to be prepared for a physical slugfest though.

RIT vs. Lone Star QC: Speaking of a physical slugfest, RIT will also be giving an elite Southwest team their only real challenge of pool play. The difference here is that RIT will be dictating the pace of the game. Lone Star's approach will be interesting to watch for--will they use superior passing skills and speed to go around RIT or will they attempt to out-hit and play more physically than the Northeast Regioinal Championship semifinalists?

UMass vs. Baylor: While UMass has no chance to defeat Baylor, I classified this as a huge opportunity game because UMass beater Robert Vortherms will get a chance to face off against David Gilbert and company. Vortherms' summer fantasy season stock could skyrocket with a great performance.

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 Northeast?
I'm eyeing several teams from the Northeast that, if the bracket shakes out in a favorable way for the Northeast, could make a surprise appearance in the Final Four. Although they are considered a perennial power from Beantown, Emerson advancing to the a Final Four would be deserving of "Cinderella" recognition. With a tough zone defense and David Fox's crowd-pleasing fast break slam dunks, Emerson's tournament win at Turtle Cup really stands out to me as evidence that the glass slipper could fit for Emerson. At its best, Tufts can look like the Northeast version of the 2013-14 World Cup-winning UT team, displaying a well-oiled machine of an offense, terrific strategy and efficiency. QC Boston's wing chasers could create major problems for opposing teams with weaker wing defenders and by the looks of Glass City, Rochester seems to be peaking now.

Odds: 3-1
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
World Cup Title Odds
What are the odds that a Midwest team will hoist the World Cup VII trophy?
Although I listed several teams that I think could make the Final Four or the Elite Eight, I think only BU has enough starpower and consistency in the beating game to win the whole World Cup. BU's chances are slim, but out of any non-Southwest/Lost Boys team, BU has the best shot to win World Cup VII.

Odds: 24-1

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