The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: University of Michigan

Credit: Camille Duet

Credit: Camille Duet

University of Michigan quidditch entered this year with high expectations. As the only team to beat Middlebury at any World Cup, Michigan had put their name on the quidditch radar.  Since the beginning of the season, they have, for the most part, lived up to expectations. Michigan began by winning the Harry v Draco Rivalry Tournament, and continued to impress, finishing third at the Dumbledore Memorial Tournament and reaching the quarterfinals at a very competitive Midwest Regional Championship. Most recently, Michigan were runner-ups at the Glass City Quidditch Classic.

Best Wins: vs. Bowling Green State University (100*-40, Oct. 13), vs. Ball State University (70*-60, Oct. 6) vs. Ohio x2 State (60*-40, Feb. 2, 80*-60, Oct. 13)

Worst Losses: None

Key Players: Co-Captain and chaser Andrew Axtell is a dominant force on the pitch. He has the strength to power through many tackles, and the agility to weave through defenders. He is Michigan’s leading scorer, and is virtually impossible to keep locked down for a full game. While he does have size, he is better when he can get in space and use his speed. While not breathtaking, Axtell does possess great speed, and when he builds up momentum he’s scary to try and stop.

Co-Captain and Keeper Evan Batzer is a phenomenal athlete. He’s able to keep his feet through many tackles, and possesses the speed necessary to score on a breakaway, a skill highly valuable in a keeper. In addition to his speed, he is a solid tackler defensively, and never loses misjudges his positioning. On the offensive end, Batzer is incredibly effective at blocking bludgers. Add to this the ability to drive and score at will against all but the most physical of defenses, and Batzer is a player to be reckoned with.

Players to watch: Michelle Busch has great speed and field awareness. Though she’s small, she has quick feet, and uses them to move around bigger defenders. Busch has great hustle on defense and is always ready to put herself into position to make a play.

Beaters – and twin brothers – Zach and Dylan Schepers are a powerful duo. They have great size for the beater position, and pair that with impressive velocity on their throws.

Strategy: Michigan runs a slower offense, using their beaters to clear the opposing teams’ beaters out of the way. After the opposing beaters are cleared, Michigan relies on their size and raw scoring ability at the chaser position to run through defenses and put up points. However, Michigan has the capabilities to be effective in many different ways. When there is an opportunity for a fast break, they are quick to pounce on it, but for the most part tend to try to play at a more controlled tempo.

Defensively, Michigan plays a man-to-man defense, with the bludgers hanging back in support. They are not afraid to get physical, and will make you pay for points in close, but on the perimeter, Michigan tends to play a defensive game more focused on not getting beat.

Strengths: Michigan’s chaser play is some of the toughest around.  They have a lot of scoring threats, and a sound strategy built around those threats. Their beater play is well-organized and their beaters throw with accuracy and velocity.

Weaknesses: Michigan is not a good passing team. Their offense is built around clearing a lane to drive for one chaser, with maybe one pass option. The majority of the time, Michigan relies on their size to power through smaller defenses. However, if they were to meet a great tackling team, they would have trouble putting up points.

Prediction: Michigan is eliminated in the first round of bracket play.

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