Guest Column: Southwest Beater Analysis


Somehow, World Cup has snuck up on me yet again. Maybe it was the prolonged winter, the lack of much of a spring season or the life-ruining exam block I seem to have every year right around the same time, but the approach of the sport’s biggest event doesn’t tend to hit me until I step off the plane and get blasted by the first gust of southern air.

But just because my mind can’t wrap itself around the imminent arrival of our national championship doesn’t mean I can’t write about it. So while I could be bearing down on studying my last exam, I think I’m going to set up arbitrary, pointless betting lines and analyze them into oblivion instead. That makes sense, right? I only need a 36 percent to pass the class anyway. What could go wrong?

Anyway, let’s get right to the point:

World Cup Champion
Lone Star Quidditch Club (+200)
Texas State University (+400)
University of Texas (+400)
Baylor University (+600)
The Field (+800)
Sturm’s Pick: Baylor University

Baylor’s ranking in our poll dropped with the news that Brittany Ripperger would be out for World Cup, and its odds dropped as well—just enough to make the Bears the smartest bet for champions.

Why not Lone Star? It’s obviously the clear favorite, and my pick to win if you were to hold a gun to my head, but I’m just not loving those odds. As University of Kentucky basketball proved last week, no matter how big of a favorite you are, it’s difficult to win a single-elimination bracket. And with the injuries and tired legs piling up come the end of Sunday, if I have to pick a single team, I’m not doing it for 2-to-1 odds.

Why Baylor? If I’m picking a squad to win that isn’t Lone Star, I want to be sure it’s a team that can beat Lone Star. And, for me, that’s only for sure two teams in the country right now: Baylor and Texas. Texas State finally got within 40 quaffle points of Lone Star at Southwest Regionals, but it also had two losses to the community team by 100 quaffle points. Baylor, meanwhile, has a snitch-range game and a 40-quaffle point loss to Lone Star, the latter coming an hour after it lost Ripperger, who the team has now had over a month to prepare to play without. The Longhorns might be just as good of a choice, but they’ve allowed a lot of teams to keep it close all season, and they’re not giving me enough odds to want to have to sweat out the health of Kenny Chilton and Paden Pace as well as every single bracket game all the way to the finals.

Now, if you’re one of those stubborn types who took Kentucky in March Madness this year even though the odds told you not to, go ahead, pick Lone Star. But if you’re really on the Lone Star World Cup hype-train, I’ve got a much better bet for you.

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Credit: Sarah Holub

Credit: Sarah Holub

Champions Post-Tournament Restaurant: Olive Garden (+300)
Let’s be real, if Lone Star wins this thing, the crew is going to Olive Garden. That team knows its way around a breadstick about as well as it knows its way around a croquet stick. And it’s like a two-minute walk from the fields, and probably one of like three restaurants in all of Rock Hill. So instead of taking the 2-to-1 odds that Lone Star will win, grab the strictly better, 3-to-1 odds that the team will be eating its championship meal here.

Even better, not only do you automatically get to cash in this bet on a Lone Star win, but you also get the bonus opportunity of a team beating Lone Star in the finals, and, just to rub it in, arriving at Olive Garden first, stealing Lone Star’s table from the previous two nights, and its players channeling their inner Mighty Ducks by belting “We Are The Champions” at the top of their lungs as Kody Marshall stares sadly down into his Tour of Italy.

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Over 0.5 South Teams Make Bracket (-105)
Yes, I know I didn’t have any South teams in my Quick Takes article on Matchup Monday, but that was only about 50 percent because I actually believed it and at least 50 percent because I forgot to add Florida’s Finest Quidditch Club to the list before it was too late. And personally, sleep-deprived forgetfulness is not enough for me to bet on.

But let’s be clear, betting the over on this bet is betting on Florida’s Finest. University of Miami is very much down this season—games like the ones it dropped to Loyola in the fall are the exact type it’ll need to win if the team hopes to have a chance at bracket play—and College of Charleston is going to have trouble avoiding a red card-induced upset for all of flight play. If a team from this region is going to be playing late on Sunday, it’s the Flamingos.

The thing is, betting on them is perfectly acceptable. This is a squad that, lack of Tyler Macy notwithstanding, is almost definitely better than the one that made the Sweet 16 last year, adding in both more depth and more talent. It’s got almost a surefire win in the first round against the University of Kansas Crimson Warhawks, and from there 2-2 could very well be enough to see them through. Winning breeds winning, and outside of a single loss at less than full strength, winning is all Florida’s Finest has done this season. There’s no reason to doubt the team will continue to do so because of a couple weak results.

I wouldn’t fault anyone for staying away from this pick, but with the number of different paths teams can end up taking through flight play, it’s hard to count an entire region out of bracket play, which about 30 percent of attending squads will make. Whether it’s Florida’s Finest taking care of business, or a weaker team making a run through a series of charmed matchups, expect this bet to cash on Sunday.

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Credit: cdn.buzznet.com

Credit: cdn.buzznet.com

Under 11:00 p.m. End Time for Day One (-105)
The last time slot is set for 9:40 p.m., making the technical expected end to day two 10:20 p.m., which would be a huge advantage for the West Coast teams whose bodies would think it’s 7:20 p.m., except, you know, they’ve been awake since a time that their bodies were interpreting as about 3:00 a.m., since we all need to walk around in a circle with no crowd for like an hour.

The question remains, how close to that actual end time can we get? The Swiss system has created all kinds of logistical challenges for the World Cup staff, and you’d have to imagine some of those challenges are going to turn into delays. With games set to end under 11 hours before they are set to pick up again the next morning, and teams staying in hotels up to 30 minutes away, every second is going to count, and severe delays could be disastrous.

Luckily for the staff, and for those taking this bet, the Saturday schedule has a copious amount of time off. In total, there are two hours and 40 minutes of break times between brooms up of round one and the final game of the day, including the 40-minute Howie Day spot, to be filled this year by Harry and the Potters. That’s a lot of opportunities to make up for lost time, and I expect the staff to take advantage of it. Because of that, as long as we all do a lightning dance and avoid any weather disasters, we should all be out of the park and eating at the same three restaurants in a timely fashion. But, if you aren’t feeling that confident, you can always hedge with:

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Over 0.5 Double Overtime Games (+1000)
This is basically the equivalent of the “first score will be a safety” bet in the Super Bowl: You don’t see it much, but it’s sure fun to put some money on it and root for it to happen. This season, there have been 1336 official games according to God of Statistics Martin Pyne, and somewhere between one and four double overtime games according to the super credible thread that I just made in #IQAForums and checked off as “research.” That’s about one double overtime per 350 games, and there are 223 games being played this weekend. Whether one comes down to sudden death is looking like it’ll come down to about a coin flip, which is much better than the odds being given.

Nothing makes a time slot go obnoxiously long like an overtime game, and a double overtime game is even more trouble. Even one of these could push us far enough behind to move our end point toward 11:00 p.m., making it the perfect hedge for the last bet.

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Blue Mountain Quidditch Club (-30) over Arizona State University
My lock of all of the first-round betting lines I arbitrarily set for this arbitrary exercise. This isn’t a decree that “West is Weak” (it’s not) or that I truly believe the Midwest is anything special this year (it’s not), but simply about the matchup. After watching what Lost Boys’s beaters did to Arizona State University in the West Regional semifinals—complete, start-to-finish domination in a 240*-70 victory, even after losing Madeleine Wodjak in the early minutes—I can’t imagine Luke Changet and Ashley Calhoun not doing the same on Saturday.

The Sun Devils have been at their best this season when facing teams that are less known for their beating and more for their solid, physical chasing. In those games, like the Utah Crimson Elite and UCLA matchups, they were able to match strength for strength. But when facing strong beating teams such as Northern Arizona University and the aforementioned Lost Boys, the wheels have come off at times, leading to striking results.

So again, it’s not about the regions or the teams, it’s purely about the matchup. But in a World Cup that I foresee very much being all about community teams, this is the game that could get things rolling.

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Main Color of the Winning Costume: Red (+200)
Everyone in quidditch is red or black, am I right? And Gryffindor is red, and Harry Potter is in Gryffindor. And apparently my spell check knows the word Gryffindor. Wait, this is a Harry Potter costume contest, right? Is it quidditch specific? And why is it happening during the most interesting round of World Cup? Alright, moving on…

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Noah SucksWorld Cup MVP: Jacob Bruner (+1200), Harry Greenhouse (+1500), Max Havlin (+4000)
Alright, I’m giving you a trio of bets here that I’m confident about hitting on at least one. But with the odds so long, it felt acceptable to throw a few dollars on all three. Even if Lone Star or Texas win, there’s no way you are pinpointing the MVP, so going for some top players from teams that might be a bit longer shots is the way to go.

Jacob Bruner is simply me doubling down on Baylor winning the title. If it does, Bruner will finally get his due diligence on the national stage and an MVP title to boot. Bruner may not have the nickname of Augie, or the hair of Stevie or the shot of Tony — or a name that ends in a hard ‘e’ for that matter — but he can play with the best of them. Sure, the games might actually come down to David Gilbert’s exceptional play at beater, but with thousands looking on, it’s not going to be Gilbert’s little intricate plays that will go noticed, it’ll be Bruner’s two-handed blocks and booming drives. I can already picture the crowd reactions to the way he plays the game, and that’s what will be in the minds of the voters come decision time.

Harry Greenhouse is, along with Tony Rodriguez, the clearest MVP candidate from a second-tier contender behind the Southwest Big Four. Each of them is the big name on their team that will invariably be tied to the squad’s success, deserving or not. The biggest advantage Greenhouse has over Rodriguez is that he’s also the team’s seeker, so while I think Rodriguez would need to make the finals or win the whole thing to garner the award, if Greenhouse pulls a Sam Roitblat and wins four-straight SWIM games in bracket play but loses in the semifinals, and Lone Star wins the tournament without a single standout performance, he could still sneak in and grab the award anyway. And, if you’ve been following along the last few weeks, you know how high I am on University of Maryland.

And finally, my long-shot pick. Every season, a team seems to come out of the teens of our rankings and make a Cinderella run to the Final Four. Bowling Green State University did it at World Cup VI after clocking in at No. 17 in our polls, while Texas State did it last year at No. 13. Each was built around a strong scoring presence and a well above-average beater performance. Each put up results earlier in the season that were shrugged off. And each made its presence felt in a big way at World Cup when the bracket fell well for them.

To me, QC Boston: the Massacre is the best candidate for that this year, with University of Michigan being my second guess. Massacre doesn’t quite sit in the teens of our most recent poll, nabbing the No. 11 spot, but it has the build of a squad that can make a run. Jayke Archibald is elite at generating points, and Max Havlin, who is still incredibly less than two years into beating, just seems to be getting better by the minute. Massacre’s role players have been putting major efforts around its stars, and if it can get something out of the seeker position, where it has most recently taken the age-old approach of “throw size at the problem” by having Dan Miller don the yellow headband, then it could be dangerous with the right bracket route. It’s also easy to forget that this team was up 40 points against Tufts University with the snitch on pitch at the Northeast Regional semifinals. And if Massacre does pull it off, it will be because Havlin played out of his mind all weekend, earning a well-deserved award.







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