The Eighth Man

2013 Midwest Regional Preview

With 15 World Cup bids this year, most people across the country don’t think the Midwest Regional Championship will be as intense as the regional tournaments were last year. It may not be as big of a struggle for some teams to qualify, but there are a lot of bragging rights and pride on the line when multiple powerhouse rivals do battle to be crowned the best team in the Midwest. Also, there are plenty of middle of the road teams that will be fighting for those last, precious bids to World Cup and that will have everything to play for. Here is a breakdown of all five pools, with predictions and potential upsets from our Midwest analysts, Luke Changet and Dan Daugherty.

 

 

Pool 1: Kansas, Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Ohio University, Falcon Warriors

LC – Kansas is the clear favorite here, with Eastern Michigan and Missouri making up a second tier. Kansas has already defeated Missouri once this year, albeit by a snitch snatch, and with a superior seeker will likely do the same. Also, since that date, Kansas has put in much more impressive performances than Missouri, who failed to make bracket play at the Dumbledore Memorial.

Eastern Michigan is a team that could surprise in this pool, as they have added some depth and a lot more physicality to their roster this year. They’re not quite able to reach the top of the Midwest yet, but they did defeat Beartrain, a mercenary team comprised of many of Michigan’s top players, at the Dumbledore memorial, on an off-pitch snitch snatch.

Missouri, on the other hand, has no signature wins this season, yet they have been in snitch range of every upper-tier team they have played. Eastern Michigan and Missouri could match up quite well, though Missouri has been the more consistent team this year. While Eastern Michigan does have a good win against Beartrain, they have also been blown out by a fair number of opponents. Depending on which Eastern Michigan team shows up, their game could be decided on a snitch snatch or a blowout in Missouri’s favor.

Making this pool extremely interesting are Ohio and the Falcon Warriors, Bowling Green’s B team. While neither has shown a lot of promise this year, both give reasons to be wary. Ohio, last year, was able to come a long way, and, some will say, defeated Bowling Green at the Glass City Classic, but the game was instead sent into OT due to a scoring error. Since then, they have added depth, though their depth is all new players. If their new players have gotten enough experience, Ohio could surprise. The Falcon Warriors, on the other hand, come from a top notch program, and have been playing with the very formidable Bowling Green all year. This experience could lead to them being much improved from past tournaments.

While Kansas are the clear favorites in this pool, the next four could go many different ways. Excluding the top team, this could be the most exciting pool of the tournament.

DD– Predictions: Kansas’ only chance at being robbed out of winning this pool is their game against Missouri. Other than that, Kansas will coast to a bye in the first round of bracket play. Depending on Eastern Michigan, the next three teams could finish in any order. Final Standings: Kansas, Missouri, Eastern Michigan, FaLCon Warriors, Ohio.

 

Pool 2: Ohio State, Michigan State, Southern Illinois, Minnesota, Grand Valley

DD– With Ohio State coming off a statement win at a tournament featuring some of the top contenders in the Midwest this season, they enter regionals with the most momentum of any team. Having this momentum may serve them well in what could be an extremely difficult pool. Their opposition, particularly Michigan State, won’t give the arguable favorites an inch.

Speaking of Michigan State, it seems they are being slept on quite a bit for how high their potential is. They have some of the best speed in the region, and are very capable of finding ways to use that to their advantage. I could see them getting anywhere from first to third in this pool based on how Jacob Heppe plays, as he seems to be the key component for the Spartans this year.

What could really mix this pool up is the unknown abilities of Minnesota. They are returning great players, including Cody Narveson, Jared Sipe and Tim Ohlert, but having not played yet this season, the make-up of this team is a huge question mark. Even though nobody is sure what to expect from this Minnesota team, they are still comfortably above the final two teams in the pool, Southern Illinois and Grand Valley.

Southern Illinois got beat around pretty well at last years regional but has the appearance of a new team. Likewise, Grand Valley has never had a signature win in program history. The game between these two may end up determine some crucial seeding heading into bracket play, and may ultimately be “do or die” time when fighting for a World Cup bid.

LC– Predictions: There’s no reason to pick against Ohio State here, but I think Michigan State could beat them. After that, I think Grand Valley will surprise and beat Southern Illinois, and possibly Minnesota. I see three tiers in this pool. MSU and OSU, GVSU and Minnesota, then SIU. Final Standings: OSU, MSU, Minnesota, GVSU, SIU.

 

Pool 3: Central Michigan, Miami, Michigan, Illinois State, TC Frost

LC– The pool of death. Somehow Michigan slipped to being a three seed in pools, and the rest of this pool is paying for it. Central Michigan is one of the top teams in the Midwest. They were competitive last year, but have an extra year of experience under their belts, including experience in one of World Cup’s toughest pools. They added depth to their already monster lineup, and quality depth at that. At their own tournament earlier this fall, Central Michigan had five different players who were averaging multiple scores per game. Beyond their chaser play, their beaters are the best I’ve seen in the Midwest this year, and really only ever lost control against Michigan State, and even then, not for extended periods.

Michigan is always one of the most physical teams in the Midwest, and with the return of star chaser Andrew Axtell to their lineup – he was on Beartrain for Dumbledore Memorial – they will only become better. This will not be the Michigan team that earned the third spot in pools. This will be a Michigan team featuring arguably the best chaser in the region, Axtell, and the hardest hitting beaters in the Midwest.

Miami appears outmatched. They have never been able to keep a top Midwest team in snitch range, and this pool features two of them. While they have kept Bowling Green, Michigan State, and Ohio State in snitch range for periods this year, all of those teams eventually left them in the dust. If Miami is able to work out their end game strategy and/or depth, they could have a shot at beating one of the top teams in this pool, though I doubt both. Expect their games to be rather close, however, damaging the rest of the pool’s seeds in bracket play.

Illinois State is also a program that can’t be brushed off. They were able to do reasonably well at Kansas Cup, but then were blown out considerably in bracket play by the hosts. At other tournaments, they split their talent onto two separate rosters, making it very hard for teams to judge exactly what a full-strength Illinois State team would look like. At regionals, expect this team to give everything they have, especially in this pool, where they could get a much needed signature win for their program.

TC Frost is an entirely unknown team. Many people did not even know they existed until they saw their name on the Midwest Region teams list. Based out of Minneapolis, this team could feature some graduated veterans of Minnesota, or it could feature players from Minnesota’s IM league, which is considerably weaker than the Minnesota travel team. Either way, don’t expect a team that has never played an official match to make waves.

DD– Predictions: This pool could go many different ways, and I can see either CMU or Michigan winning this pool.  I believe the Miami and Illinois State game is a tossup as well, with TC Frost having the potential to upset either one. With that, I am going with a bold prediction in picking the unknown to surprise. Final Standings: Michigan, CMU, TC Frost, Miami, Illinois State.

 

Pool 4: Ball State, Marquette, Purdue, Mighty Bucks, Northwestern

DD– Ball State has arguably been given the best draw of any contender in this tournament. They haven’t been at full strength once all season, and they have still competed with top teams at every tournament they have attended. Their potential is scary good, and with the noticeable drop off of last year’s Midwest Champion, Marquette, Ball State seems to have a cakewalk through their pool.

Marquette is led by star female chaser Caroline Villa, as she makes up 1 of 3 supposedly returning players from last year’s Midwest powerhouse. At the one tournament they have attended thus far, The Dumbledore Memorial, they got by solely by athleticism, and had no semblance of strategy or knowledge of the game itself. With a storied program like Ball State in this pool, don’t expect Marquette’s athletic ability to get them to the top.

Lucky for Marquette, the next three teams don’t have very promising showings this season either. Purdue seems to have lost some key players this off season and, having played only one tournament this season, they seem ill-prepared to make a run through bracket play this year. Purdue has always been a middle of the road team in the Midwest and, if anything, they have dropped off from that spot.

The Mighty Bucks, Ohio State’s B Team, has surprisingly held their own against both Ball State and Purdue by keeping the game within snitch range. Although they have the confidence that they can take this pool because of these results, I would recommend taking the Ball State game with a grain of salt. Ball State was down some key players and, therefore, were focusing on resting the players they did have for bracket play. But, The Mighty Bucks have played against a regional contender all season in practice and have a very solid strategy that could work in their favor.

Lastly, Northwestern is a brand new team that no one knows anything about. The odds of this team surprising anyone seems extremely low. Even with what will most likely being the weakest pool in this tournament, Northwestern won’t be able to make any true statements.

LC– Predictions: No way Ball State doesn’t win this pool. 50/50 odds of them getting the No. 1 seed in bracket play due to huge point differentials. Unless Marquette magically resurges, this pool finishes Ball State, Purdue, Marquette, Mighty Bucks, Northwestern.

Pool 5: Bowling Green, Crimson Warhawks, Toledo, Loyola, IUSB, Iowa State

LC– Clearly this is Bowling Green’s pool to lose, as no other team in this pool has any kind of significant win this season. However, Crimson Warhawks are a bit of a wildcard, coming from the somewhat isolated Kansas area. I don’t expect them to pull the major upset, however, as they were ousted from their own tournament by a significantly weaker Wichita State side in the first round of bracket play, and also suffered a loss to Oklahoma Baptist University, who have never been a strong side.

Perhaps the matchup to watch in this pool is Crimson Warhawks against Toledo. Both teams are clearly second tier within their side of the region, but both teams have also showed some promise. Toledo has been able to keep top Midwest teams in snitch range until their depth became an issue, and Crimson Warhawks defeated Missouri, a decent team, earlier this season. Their game will likely determine second place in this pool, and potentially a first round bracket bye, as the top six teams overall receive one.

Also noteworthy here are IUSB and Loyola. While a step down from the level of Toledo and Crimson Warhawks, the winner of this game will be in a much better position to qualify for World Cup. IUSB has added a lot of depth this year – though they’re still working on learning to use it – and Loyola qualified last year and retained many of their players.

DD– Predictions: Bowling Green’s biggest competition in this pool is their rival school Toledo. Toledo will be amped up from the start and Bowling Green must match intensity to avoid being upset. After that, Toledo and Crimson Warhawks will be a great game.  Expect IUSB to be the only team of the final three to compete for the second and third spots in this pool. Final Standings: Bowling Green, Toledo, IUSB, Crimson Warhawks, Loyola, Iowa State.

Predictions
Finish Luke Changet Daniel Daugherty
Winner Ball State Ball State
Finalist Ohio State Ohio State
Semifinalist Michigan Central Michigan
Semifinalist Bowling Green Bowling Green
Qualified Central Michigan Michigan
Qualified Marquette Marquette
Qualified Kansas Kansas
Qualified Minnesota Minnesota
Qualified Missouri Missouri
Qualified Toledo Toledo
Qualified Miami Miami
Qualified Michigan State Michigan State
Qualified Illinois State Illinois State
Qualified Purdue Southern Illinois
Qualified Crimson Warhawks TC Frost

 

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.