The Eighth Man

Phoenix Cup Preview

Another week, another major tournament in the Midwest. Phoenix Cup, however, features an almost entirely different set of regional powers than last week’s Dumbledore Memorial. Headlining this weekend are ranked teams No. 16 Bowling Green and No. 17 Ohio State, as well as recent tournament champions Ball State, Central Michigan and Tennessee Tech. Add to that two World Cup qualifiers from a year ago, Loyola and Purdue, as well as the hosts and Div. 2 Final Four participants Miami (Ohio), and you get a tournament that will serve as an excellent preview for next weekend’s Midwest Regionals.

 

Pool 1: Ohio State, Loyola, Eastern Michigan, Wooster

If the Buckeyes don’t win this pool, it would be as monumental and as shocking an upset as when Appalachian State beat Michigan in football a few years back. But Eastern Michigan is coming off of a solid performance last weekend, in which they beat Beartrain – an unofficial team spawned from some of Michigan’s best players – and kept Marquette in snitch range, but their generally small rosters and lack of big tournament experience makes an upset here extremely unlikely. Loyola qualified for World Cup a year ago and underwhelmed, and this will be the first tournament of the year for them. Perhaps they will come back loaded with talent. Perhaps the minimal talent they had last year left. We won’t know until this weekend. Either way, it’s a team without a ton of veteran leadership. Wooster is a second year team comprised mostly of the non-athletes. Don’t expect much from them.

Pool 2: Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Dayton

Obviously, this is Bowling Green’s pool to lose, but remember that Miami kept them close for a while a couple of weeks back at Ohio State’s tournament. With Miami playing at home, and with a few more weeks to work on their conditioning, this game could come down to the snitch snatch. If it does, expect the veteran seekers of Bowling Green to prevail, but don’t be shocked if Miami has made some adjustments to be able to keep them close, especially if the game is on the shorter side. Further down in the pool, we have Northern Illinois, who have yet to win a game this season, and Dayton, a team attending their first ever tournament. The game between those two could be close, but Dayton does not have much depth, if any at all, so don’t expect the newcomers to make any big statements.

Pool 3: Ball State, Purdue, Mighty Bucks, The Charles School

Again, we have a clear favorite in Ball State, but Purdue has a large campus and a large recruiting base, so they could have added some fresh talent to their roster this fall. Unfortunately for the Boilermakers, Ball State has already traveled to three tournaments this year, so even their new players could be considered veterans. So, barring something major, don’t expect too many surprises here. Beyond the top two, we have a B team and a High School team, The Mighty Bucks (Ohio State) and The Charles School, respectively, neither of whom are threats to the top two in this pool. Their game could be close, as it was when they met at OSU, but expect the OSU team to have matured more rapidly playing alongside top level talent every day.

Coming off a huge win against Michigan State, Central Michigan will look to make a name for itself in the lead up to World Cup. Credit: CMU Quidditch

Coming off a huge win against Michigan State, Central Michigan will look to make a name for itself in the lead up to World Cup. Credit: CMU Quidditch

Pool 4: Central Michigan, Tennessee Tech, Miami B, Falcon Warriors

At last, we have a pool worth watching the top of. Central Michigan and Tennessee Tech both won their first tournament of the year. TTU blew out a relatively solid Missouri team, while CMU took No. 19 Michigan State head on and were up as much as 60 before winning in overtime. This will be an interesting measure of the South against the Midwest, as both teams are towards the top in their respective regions. This is easily the game to watch in pool play. Beyond that, we have two B teams from Miami and BGSU who will likely not do much against the pure talent at the top of their pool, but could put up an interesting fight against each other, depending on how deep the Miami B side is.

Overview

This tournament features four of the top regional contenders, as well as a Southern team who could contend for their own regional final. Expect the semifinals to be comprised of some combination of these five teams, but don’t be surprised to see the hosts Miami or a potentially reloaded Purdue with one of the spots. One thing is for certain, this tournament will clear up a lot of questions about the Midwest a week before its Regional Championship.

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