2014 D-I College Championships - Men's Division Preview

Posted: May 22, 2014 08:49 AM


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The seeds have been set, and 20 teams play for a chance to take home the Division I College Championship in Mason, Ohio, on May 23-26.

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Pool A

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San Diego

  Eastern Michigan


Four regional champions and a College Nationals newcomer…one of the best college ultimate rivalries of the last decade…it’s tough to argue against Pool A’s intrigue. With scary depth in an under-seeded Red Line, a Wisconsin team hitting its stride at the right time, and a selfless bunch of Air Squids, winning this pool won’t be a walk in the park for top-flying Mamabird. Don’t be surprised if three teams from Pool A advance to the quarterfinals.

Pool B

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  Texas A&M
  Central Florida


Coach Nick Kaczmarek and company had to be licking their chops upon seeing Pitt’s pool opponents. They’ll face three inconsistent qualifiers in Texas A&M, Central Florida and Dartmouth while getting the chance to avenge their Easterns finals loss against Michigan. The tests: can Pitt maintain composure against zones and defend big men like Michigan’s Jesse Buchsbaum? If there’s anything we know about En Sabah Nur, it’s that they’ve spent the last three weeks (and more) preparing for and addressing those weaknesses. Pitt should win Pool B, and the pre-quarterfinal qualifiers will face difficult Pool C match ups.

Pool C

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  North Carolina
  Florida State


Share prices of Texas, North Carolina and Florida State were sky high at the end of fall 2013 and early spring 2014. Texas dominated at Warm Up – and then put up an underwhelming record the rest of the way. North Carolina won all of their fall tournaments and their first three spring tournaments before sustaining key injuries and losses at Easterns and beyond. Chris LaRocque and Florida State received considerable attention as pre-season favorites, thanks to a strong fall and great returning depth, but they tapered off after a strong Warm Up showing and Tally Classic victory. In short, Pool C’s top three seeds enter Nationals with chips on their shoulders, and they’ll be eager to return to form and prove that their early season successes weren’t just early peaks. If any one of those top three seeds continues to languish, look for Gene Buonaccorsi to lead Tufts toward a pre-quarters bid.

Pool D

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  North Carolina-

  Carleton College


…also known as the pool of the great unknowns. Oregon still has Callahan-man Dylan Freechild, but Ego hasn’t displayed that trademark regular-season dominance that earned them top seeds (and semis finishes) at the last two College Championships. North Carolina-Wilmington flew under the radar all season before putting the rest of the country on notice with their upset of North Carolina – will the Seamen be able to execute another flawless offensive performance like they did in that Atlantic Coast regional final? Florida reached the finals of their first three spring tournaments before stumbling at Easterns but winning the Southeast title on double-game point. Carleton recovered from an unthinkable tragedy to claim one of just two bids in a top-heavy North Central region, and it’s no secret that CUT always finds a way to peak at Nationals. Rutgers shockingly wrestled the Metro East crown from perennial Nationals-qualifier Cornell. Any one of the top four seeds can win this pool.

Seven to Watch

Who, aside from the well-known Callahan nominees like Ogren, Ranii-Dropcho and Mickle, will have the largest impact on the tournament?

  • Stanley Peterson (Colorado Mamabird) – Arguably Mamabird’s best defender, Peterson routinely excels at guarding elite cutters (like regional rival Will Driscoll). Look for the Johnny Bravo veteran to produce blocks against top assignments as ‘Bird sets out on their title quest.

  • Jordan O’Neill (Wisconsin Hodags) – The Hodags will trust this fiery cutter to come down with a number of deep balls – and he won’t disappoint.

  • Jesse Bolton (Carleton CUT) – Eligibility issues behind him, this CUT sophomore will attack the cutting lanes and Cincinnati skies with force.

  • Jeremy Langdon (Central Florida Dogs of War) – Some have known about Langdon’s defensive prowess for years, but he made emphatic statements at last year’s college and club national tournaments. Langdon’s off-disc instincts and closing speed help him anchor Central Florida’s zone defense and operate as a top-notch man defender.

  • Pat Earles (Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur) – Earles has proven capable of taking over Pitt’s D-line offense with advanced vision and accurate throws. He’ll need to demonstrate continued on-field leadership to help Pitt pursue a three-peat.

  • Robert Goode (UNC-Wilmington Seamen) – Goode has matured into the central force of the Seamen offensive unit. Though the Seamen may get broken more frequently than they did in the Atlantic Coast championship, don’t expect the turnovers to come from Goode.

  • Mark Vandenberg (Harvard Red Line) – The other pure handler on this list is an effective distributor who’s playing with composure beyond his years. His job is certainly made easier by receivers like Callahan nominee Jeremy Nixon, but he’ll still need to display poise against the aggressive Colorado man defense and tricky California-San Diego zone in pool play.

Dark Horse


The UCSD Air Squids are stuck near the bottom of a pool of regional champions. But if the Southwest regional title game was any indication, this team’s defensive line offense is remarkably patient and cherishes its break opportunities better than many other teams. Should the Squids’ defensive lines maintain the same levels of discipline and conversion in Cincinnati, they’ll be able to fight their way into the championship bracket.


Upset Alert


The South Central runner-up was one contested Stanley Peterson block away from taking home the South Central regional championship. Though Coach Calvin Lin’s system does wonders for TUFF’s player development and increases depth, it hasn’t produced any truly dominant team performances in 2014 since Warm Up (and on a broader scale, since TUFF’s last trip to the national semifinals in 2009). It’s easy to see TUFF dropping a pool play game to one or two of North Carolina, Florida State or Tufts. Texas, like many other college teams, needs to prove capable of responding to adversity and closing consistently. It’s difficult to see this team turning up in time to hold their seed with a semifinals finish.


Games to Watch

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North Carolina-Wilmington Seamen v. Carleton Ultimate Team (CUT) - Friday 8:30a.m., Field 6

This rivalry blossomed last year when UNC-W eliminated Carleton from the Easterns championship bracket in Wilmington. Carleton got the last laugh by ending the Seamen’s season in the national quarterfinals. This game will be one of a few must-wins for both teams, as CUT strives to break seed and feisty Wilmington hopes to prove their worth as a top five seed.

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Colorado Mamabird v. Wisconsin Hodags - Saturday 8:30a.m., Field 1

A decade-old rivalry is renewed. Expect to see a lot of the deep ball, with top ‘Bird defender Stanley Peterson matching up on deep cutting specialists Jordan O’Neill and Colin Camp. Will Callahan-contender Camp turn in another eight-goal performance like he did against Mamabird in the 2011 national semifinals? Tune in on NexGen to find out!

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Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur v. Michigan MagnUM - Saturday 10:30a.m., Field 2

An Easterns finals rematch will help determine the staying power of MagnUM’s tournament title and if Pitt is on track to pursue a three-peat.

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North Carolina Darkside v. Florida State DUF - Saturday 2:30p.m., Field 8

In a pool of teams with lots to prove, one or both of Darkside and DUF could be playing for their seasons at the end of pool play. They crossed paths in fall 2013 (with North Carolina eking out a 17-15 victory) and at the 2014 Stanford Invite (with North Carolina winning in the semifinals on double-game point, 14-13). Expect DUF to be out for revenge.


Fast Facts

  • California-San Diego returns to Nationals for the first time since 2010, when the Air Squids upset top-seeded Oregon in pool play, 17-16

  • Seven veterans of the NexGen tour (10 including 2013 end-of-tour pick-ups Jesse Bolton, Ian Campbell and Justin Lim) will compete at the 2014 College Championships.

  • Eight of this year’s 20 qualifiers did not qualify for last year’s College Championships.

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