The Eighth Man

Dumbledore Memorial Preview

Indiana University South Bend’s Dumbledore Memorial Tournament has become a staple for early season play in the Midwest. Last year, the tournament gave us our first glimpse of the future Midwest champions Marquette, as well as two other regional semi-finalists, No. 19 Michigan State and Ball State, as well as a Michigan side that has always been highly physical and very competitive. This year, all four of these teams are in attendance, as well as Missouri, coming off of a finals run in its first tournament of the year, and Toledo, a second year program coming off of a semi-finals run and a tournament where they nearly kept regional power MSU to a snitch catch. Let’s break this down by pool.

Pool A: Michigan State, Toledo, IU-South Bend, St. Mary’s, Michigan B

This pool, at first glance, appears to be MSU’s to lose. But remember that just last week, Toledo almost kept MSU within snitch range. With a team now slightly more experienced in tournament play, there is a possibility that Toledo could pull off an upset. With over half of Toledo’s roster being new to quidditch, they are bound to pick up a lot of things quickly, and it is most likely that their skill level has not plateaued yet, meaning that just a week’s time could make them a force to be reckoned with.

Also noteworthy is the Michigan B team. While most people would rightly not pay much attention to any sort of second team, it would be wrong to do so for this side, as it features several key, graduated members of Michigan’s team last year, including captain and star chaser Andrew Axtell, starting keeper Evan Batzer and one of the most physical and aggressive beaters in the region in Michael Scheible. Granted, this team only has 13 players, so look for depth to be a bit of an issue, but their first game is against Toledo, and that game will likely decide second place in this pool. Their third game, against MSU, if they have the energy to keep it close, could be one of the most surprising results of the weekend.

So while this pool does look to be a cakewalk for MSU at first, it turns into the pool of death when you look a little more closely.

Pool B: Michigan, Missouri, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Downriver Dragons

While Michigan is the top “seed” in this pool, it’s tough to see them being clear favorites after having lost so much talent from their starting lineup a year ago. This new, younger Michigan side has a lot to prove, and this is our first chance to see them in action. Missouri, on the other hand, is a team on the rise. They recently kept No. 13 Kansas within snitch range and advanced to the finals of their first tournament, albeit against fairly weak competition. This pool will almost certainly come down to what I believe to be the most interesting match of pool play, between Michigan and Missouri, with both teams coming in with a lot to prove.

An strong effort against Kansas has many people wondering about what Missouri can do this weekend. Credit: Megan Korte

An strong effort against Kansas has many people wondering about what Missouri can do this weekend. Credit: Megan Korte

Further down the pool, we have Eastern Michigan, which has never truly competed with top tier teams in the region, and until they show a great leap forward in strategy and skill, it is likely to remain that way. There is also Illinois, a first year program with almost no experience except for a few scrimmages, and Downriver, which has vastly underwhelmed in all showings due to a lack of depth and an even bigger lack of field awareness. The most interesting of these three is certainly Illinois, one of the last Big Ten schools to found a quidditch team. Most other B1G schools have fairly successful programs – Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State, most notably – and it will be interesting to see how much potential this Illinois team has. If the success of their NCAA counterparts says anything, this could be the start of a new power in the Midwest.

Pool C: Ball State, Marquette, NIU, Indiana, Mercenary

Clearly, the matchup to watch here is the rematch of the Regional semi-finals between Ball State and Marquette. Ball State is always an impressive, physically imposing program, and Marquette has always competed very well within the region. However, Marquette’s showing at World Cup left a lot to be desired – to say the least) – and in their first tournament of the season, this Marquette side, sans Curtis Taylor, will be out to prove they haven’t become totally irrelevant.

Ball State, on the other hand, is out to prove that they can still compete after the loss of star seeker Tyler Macy. While Ball State had a decent showing in their first tournament of the season at Ohio State, they did not defeat any quality teams – they were down 20 to BGSU when the tournament was called due to the only head ref having to go to the hospital – but did remain compettive, and led No. 17 Ohio State by 20 before falling on the snitch snatch. With both BSU and Marquette being highly aggressive, physical teams, this is likely going to be the most painful match of pool play, and likely, therefore, the most anticipated.

The rest of this pool is not highly interesting, though it does feature a mercenary team with a few great players, namely Zak Hewitt, starting keeper for No. 16 Bowling Green  and the aforementioned Macy, with the potential for myself to play in a couple of games as well. I expect this merc team to be able to defeat both NIU and IU, as neither of those teams has ever shown elite talent, and this merc team has a very strong foundation. However, it would be difficult, and very shocking, for them to be able to knock off one of the top teams in the pool.

Overall:

This tournament will, in all likelihood, come down to a semifinals of MSU, Michigan, Ball State, and Marquette, the same four from a year ago. Really, the only difference from last year is that there is a chance for Toledo or Missouri to be able to sneak in an unexpected win and find themselves in the semi-finals while forcing us to reassess the region.

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