The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: University of Minnesota

Well, here we go again.

I’m sure you all know it really doesn’t even matter what we say about Minnesota, since they can pull a 180 and end up in the final four of a tournament if it all clicks when it’s supposed to at the right moment. This team is the most likely to follow the script of a “get hot at the right moment” NCAA basketball team. Minnesota used pool play last year to figure out their strategy and really understand their strengths and weaknesses before making a miraculous run at World Cup V.

The Minnesota team at the Spring Breakout Tournament. Credit: Shannon Greenwood

The Minnesota team at the Spring Breakout Tournament. Credit: Shannon Greenwood

This season, however, has been a transition year for Minnesota, who are in a rebuilding stage after losing much of their World Cup squad from last year. They were able to take that winning and use it for recruiting purposes, but the overall team is a young and inexperienced one that will more like gain experience at this World Cup than contend heavily like they did for the title last year. But this is definitely a team that will have a solid contender in the upcoming years.

Best Wins:  vs. Marquette (Nov. 4, 90*^-60)

Worst Losses: vs. Crimson Warhawks (Nov. 10, 70*-60)

Key Players:  Jared Sipe is the face of Minnesota, and sets the standard for what the squad is and wants to be. The keeper was a Team USA selection last year, and was essential to their run last year. Jared brings the physicality and experience that the team needs to continuously grow, and his on field leadership is amazing to watch.

Ashley Novitsky brings the same experience and leadership to the beater lines. She’s aggressive and an accurate shot with the bludger.

Players to watch: All of the Minnesota freshmen. Seriously though, this team is so new and the talent is there, it just needs the experience to continue the proud tradition of this school.

Strategy: Minnesota plays a slow-paced game that focuses on set plays and getting everyone involved in the offense. They are a beater-focused team, and work very hard to get bludger control and just very keen on the fundamentals of quidditch. On offense, they tend to run plays through Sipe or captain Cody Narveson.

Strengths: Minnesota’s strength is the way they develop players through their intramural system. These players play almost every week. They see a lot of quidditch, and understand what a good strategies are and what bad strategies are. Through that, they develop a keen sense of what they can do in almost any given situation that they can carry to interschool matches.

Weaknesses: Right now, the weakness of Minnesota is big game experience and age. This team is a young team. They need a bit more time at the highest level, and to develop one or two hard hitting bigger guys to replace those they lost from last year to really move forward and be a top contender.

Prediction: They have a solid defense and a lot of spunk. This team did barely qualify, but I feel are clicking of late and could make some noise. Expect Minnesota to make it out of group play, but lose in the first round of bracket.

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