The Eighth Man

Cowboy Cup Preview

While many are anticipating the Lone Star Cup in Austin, Texas next weekend, another Southwest tournament is slipping under the radar in Stillwater, Okla.  This Saturday, the Oklahoma State Quidditch team will be hosting the third annual Cowboy Cup, an 11-team tournament that will feature some of the lesser known teams in the region.  Besides the Southwest Regional champions Baylor and the hosts Oklahoma State, teams include Oklahoma Baptist University, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Texas Tech University, the Osos de Muerte (Baylor’s second team), Silver Phoenix, the Denver Dementors, Arkansas Tech University, Wichita State University and the University of Oklahoma.  Baylor is the team with the strongest past, coming off a Final Four appearance and a Regional Championship, while Oklahoma State and the Silver Phoenixes both qualified and attended World Cup VI.  Baylor may be the prohibitive favorites, but there are plenty of questions to be answered on Saturday, so let’s get to them.

 

Is Baylor healthy and ready to compete?  

 

If Baylor is to compete in the new Southwest, where more teams are closing the gap at the top, they have to get back to full strength.  They have underwhelmed so far this season due to injuries and inexperienced new players, losing convincingly to a University of Texas team that lost a lot of its championship roster and a UTSA team, that while better than last year, placed 9th at the Southwest Regional Championship.  This tournament should be a trial run as they gear up to attend Lone Star Cup II on Nov. 9th.  Captain David Gilbert certainly wants to make sure that Baylor does not fall to anyone outside of Texas.

How do we view Oklahoma State?

 

Oklahoma State is starting it’s third year and has been getting steadily better.  Due to location, they haven’t faced the elite competition that Texas provides, but they won their first unofficial tournament, the Oklahoma Quidditch Kickoff, at the start of the year, and obviously hope to come away from this one with a win.  Having played Baylor last year at Southwest Regionals, they are familiar with their biggest opponent of the weekend, and know the level that they’ll have to play at.  They were able to compete with Baylor back in the spring for the opening minutes before their lack of chaser depth resulted in a large point deficit.  Their first line of male chasers were very physical, but after that their ability to tackle dropped dramatically.  They look in much better shape this year as far as their roster goes, and this will be their new players’ first major test.  Captain Hayden Applebee will be the main player to watch, donning both the white and yellow headbands, as he will try to take his team to their biggest win yet.

The Best of the Rest?

 

The rest of the field gives the impression of a Bottom of the Bracket type tournament, as the less-storied teams aim to make a case for their moment in the spotlight.  Wichita State will be getting their first tastes of Southwest play after upsetting Kansas in pool play at the Kansas Cup and electing to attend the Southwest Regional Championship.  Oklahoma Baptist held the Oklahoma State Cowboys close in quaffle points at the Oklahoma Kickoff, and wants to prove it wasn’t a fluke, while the Silver Phoenixes are out to show the quidditch world that you shouldn’t underestimate “B” teams, especially not in the Southwest.  The Denver Dementors play a much more sound game than their whimsical reputation implies, almost beating the Cowboys in an elimination game at last years regionals, while UAFS, OU, Arkansas Tech, the Osos and Texas Tech have everything to prove and nothing to lose.  Expect one or two teams from this group to show themselves as contenders for one of the Southwest’s 11 World Cup VII bids.

 

Prediction

 

With Baylor and Oklahoma State in separate pools, it seems as if the two will meet in the finals of the tournament, with Baylor being the favorite to win.  Even with injuries and turnover, the Bears have too much experience to fall easily.  Having played at the highest level means that their recruits should be more than prepared as they approach back-to-back weekends of tournaments.  Oklahoma State could pull the upset, but I think in a long game, the unique Baylor defense will tire the Cowboys and make them delve deep into their roster, where the inexperience will give Baylor the opening they need to pull away. But, with many of these teams unproven, an upset in the bracket could easily shake things up in what seems like a predictable tournament.

 

Predictions

1. Baylor
2. Oklahoma State
3. Wichita State
4. The Silver Phoenixes
5. UAFS
6. Oklahoma Baptist
7. Texas Tech University
8. Denver Dementors
9. Arkansas Tech University
10. Osos de Muerte
11. The University of Oklahoma

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