The Eighth Man

Weekend in Review: Marquette tops Midwest, McGill best in Canada, Texas redeems itself

Marquette's Midwest Championship Team

Marquette becomes the second regional champion of the 2012-2013 season, holding off Bowling Green State University to claim the Midwestern crown.

Marquette University may not have been the most popular team at the Midwest Regional Championship, but they may have been the most talented, cruising to the regional title in a tournament that featured one of the deepest non-World Cup fields to date.

 

The championship was the team’s first in a tournament, nevermind in one as large as a regional championship.

 

The No. 9 Golden Eagles had to work for the title in the finals against a surprising opponent in Bowling Green State University. Led by Daniel Daugherty, the squad rallied from an early deficit, and briefly pushed within snitch range with the snitch back on the pitch. But as the game dragged on, Marquette was able to pull out a solid lead and hold on, finally catching the snitch to win, 170*-90.

 

The Marquette victory topped off a fantastic two days of quidditch chockful of twists and turns. The madness started on Saturday, with defending Div. II champions Purdue University beating the No. 17 University of Kansas, 40*-30, in an extremely short game.

 

Things only got worse for the Jayhawks later in the day, as Bowling Green hung with them for the duration of a lengthy match before taking advantage of their weakness at seeker, pulling the snitch and winning, 90*-70, to clinch the pool and a spot in the World Cup.

 

Other pools proceeded more according to plan.  No. 10 Ball State University, in one of the tougher groups, beat Central Michigan University 240*-150 before cruising to a 4-0 record. Marquette went 3-0 in its group without breaking a sweat, while No. 20 Michigan State University needed a snitch grab to break a tie with Ohio State University, but otherwise went unharmed.

 

The final intrigue came in Group 4, where the No. 14 University of Michigan held off a mysterious No. 18 University of Minnesota, 90*-50. But things got worse for Minnesota when they fell to third in the pool with a 70*-60 defeat to the Crimson Warhawks.

 

With the pool winners all qualified for the World Cup, a series of five single-elimination matches determined the remaining spots. Kansas, Ohio State and Purdue each qualified with minimal trouble over Loyola University, University of Miami – Ohio and Eastern Michigan University, respectively. Minnesota got revenge over the Crimson Warhawks, beating them 90*-10.

 

The final match was a doozy, with Illinois State University forcing heavy favorite Central Michigan University into overtime with a snitch grab. The snitch held out for the full five minutes, and a last second goal gave ISU the game and sent them to the World Cup.Cup.

 

With just 10 teams remaining, and half of the group physically and mentally drained, teams started dropping quickly. Purdue beat Kansas a second time, while Ohio State knocked out Minnesota on a snitch grab. In the quarterfinals, Bowling Green caught a quick snitch to oust the Buckeyes, 40*-10,  while Ball State and Marquette blew out Purdue and Illinois State. The most exciting match was the battle of two group winners and bitter rivals, Michigan State and Michigan. In the end, the Spartans snuck by on a snitch grab, winning, 90*-80.

 

Bowling Green continued its surprise run in the semifinals, easily moving past Michigan State, 110*-30. On the other side of the bracket, excitement abounded as Marquette and Ball State ran up the score. But with the snitch on pitch and the game on the line, the Golden Eagles took the initiative, besting Ball State’s Tyler Macy and moving on to the finals.

 

McGill still cut above the rest in Canada

 

After making waves with impressive runs in successive World Cups, including a quarterfinal run in World Cup III and top 16 finishes at World Cups IV and V, McGill University has been viewed as not only a regional powerhouse but a national contender.

 

The team didn’t disappoint at the Eastern Canadian Regional Championship, cruising to the title while winning each game by at least 50 points. They topped the University of Ottawa, 90*-10, in the finals. Joining the two in earning a World Cup bid was Carleton University.

 

The 13-team tournament was divided into four pools, with the winner of each moving on to the semifinals. Three of the groups had a well-known team run away with it: Carleton won its two matches 180*-10, 170*-10, McGill won 190*-0 and 100-50*, and Ottawa had a point differential of +550 after three matches.

 

But the final standout was newcomer Queens University. The squad beat down the University of Toronto – Scarborough, 140*-10, before winning the group and qualifying for knockout play with an impressive victory over Canada’s Finest, McGill’s second team, 60*-30.

 

In the semifinals, Queens stuck it out, and kept Ottawa within snitch range in a low-scoring affair. But Ottawa got the snatch, and the spot in the finals, winning, 70*-10. On the otherside of the bracket, Carleton was able to keep McGill close and make the grab to send things to overtime. But McGill put them on the backfoot with a couple of goals before winning the match with a snitch grab.

 

In the match for the final World Cup bid, Queens once again kept things low scoring, this time catching the snitch to send themselves and Carleton into overtime, 30-30. But it wasn’t to be for the young upstarts, as Carleton refused to lose two straight overtimes, winning 80^-30*.

 

McGill closed out the day with a dominant 90*-10 win over Ottawa to take home the regional crown.

 

Don’t mess with Texas

It can be difficult to analyze the relative ability of two teams based on the results of a single match. Things get even more confusing when a pair of teams play two very different games in the course of just over 24 hours, with each team coming out on top once

 

Yet  this is exactly what to No. 6 University of Texas – Austin and No. 7 University of California Los Angeles this past weekend at the West by Southwest Regional Showcase. By far the best team each region had sent, the matchups between the two have been being hyped for months.

 

But while UCLA seemed to have the edge on Saturday, with a 90*-40 that had West coasters everywhere preparing their “West Coast, Best Coast,” chants, Texas came out much better prepared on Sunday, jumping out to a big lead in the finals against a flat UCLA side that couldn’t find its groove and then never letting them within arm’s lengths, finally winning after a suicide snitch, 180-100*.

 

It was an important win for a Texas team still reeling from a large number of early season injuries, and a disheartening loss for a UCLA team that came up short at the Hollywood Bowl as well. The Saturday win remains impressive, but the Sunday blowout points to the added depth and physicality Texas possesses.

 

Also impressive this weekend was the Western Merc team, which was composed largely of members of the Lost Boys and Silicon Valley Skrewts. The Mercs scored their first major victory in pool play by beating Northern Arizona University, 90*-60. They proceeded to a 4-0 start, before falling to Texas by just 80 points and UCLA by just 40, 80*-40. In the end, though, they ran into the unstoppable force that was Texas on Sunday,  ending their run with an 80*-10 loss in the semifinals.

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