The East Coast region will finally see its first set of games this weekend on Sunday at Towson University. All of the teams participating are from Maryland and Virginia, which includes Towson, Maryland, Virginia Commonwealth, and Stevenson. This tournament should prove to be tightly contested, and great opener for the East Coast.
We will start with the host team. The Tigers had an impressive season last year, as they reached their highest ranking in program history. In their first official match since their heart-breaking loss to the University of Kentucky, they will be looking to make a big first impression to show the league they are poised for a deep run at Nationals this year. Despite losing some key players, Towson retains a solid core of their team including the likes of John Shaw and Mike Hinely. As captains of the team, they are more than prepared for the new season, the big question will be seeing what new players step up for their program.
Towson will be the favorites in this tournament to win out, given the team had winning records against all attending teams last season. The biggest key for them is making sure they stick to their philosophy of “catching to win” and instilling that philosophy into their newest players. I more than trust their leadership to do just that, which is why I say Towson is the favored.
University of Maryland
The Terrapins dealt with some woes last season after having a pretty big player overhaul. Their transition into this season is no exception. They return 9 players from the team a year ago, including Justin Anderson and Matt Greenspan, two of their more dynamic players. Look for them to be the ringleaders for both this tournament, and any tournaments in the future. Another player to watch for will be Carl Boettner. He showed promise last season, and is looking to once again improve and help lead this team.
In terms of this tournament, each match should be fairly heated for Maryland. They aren’t projected to beat Towson this weekend, but they pulled off a surprise win against them last year in their home tournament. Maryland should have no problem against Stevenson, and their match versus VCU will be interesting to see.
Virginia Commonwealth (VCU)
Perhaps no other team in this tournament has more to prove than VCU. Last year the Rams shocked a lot of people by pulling off some surprise wins late in the season. This year they return everyone besides former President and captain Adam Hallers, so expectations are high for the team this year. This weekend, a decent amount of VCU’s returners from last year will be unable to participate, meaning a lot of new players will have the chance to step up and shine. How the new players will handle their first tournament will be the biggest mystery, but there is no doubt they have the talent to compete with anyone.
The two key players who will need to have a big weekend for VCU are Senior Matt Bosco and Sophomore Wayne Shortt. Both players are captains for VCU this year, and will be crucial to the success of the team. Freshman Dane Aggen is one newcomer to watch out for. He has proven in practice that he can be an effective catcher, which will be very important for the team come this Sunday. VCU will be favorites against Stevenson, but the real tests will be against Maryland and Towson. If the Rams can keep their composure and play as a team, there’s a good chance they will walk away with multiple wins.
Stevenson has been plagued with difficulties recruiting each year, but Kristofer DeJesus has managed to keep the ship afloat for another season. This team will be a bit of a mystery given a lot of changing players over the years, which could play to their advantage.
As I said before, DeJesus has been the one that has kept this team together, and he will be the focal point for the Mustangs. A skilled catcher and good thrower, everything will most likely run through him. Depth has never really been strong for Stevenson, but as said previously, this team will be a mystery for many people. If they have pulled together a good recruiting class, they may be able to surprise some people this Sunday.
Zig joins me for some predictions using a revised Gonzalez system.
|High Seed||Low Seed||Rating||Rating||Predicted Exchange||Exchange if Upset|
Towson def UMD 3-1
HF: Towson brings back a lot of talent and always plays smart. Don’t be surprised if Maryland keeps this close though.
ZM: This is Towson’s middle game. With the home court boost (+3) they climb into a OSU/SVSU caliber playing against a middle of the road UMD. Strong predicted win for Towson, but UMD could pull the game into OT given their historical playing style.
VCU def Stevenson 3-0
HF: Last year the Rams had one of their biggest wins of the year against the Mustangs, and nothing signals that will change this year.
ZM: We could see a closer match here. The rating gap is just 2.207 between VCU/SU. Strong rating swing for VCU if they can pull the win.
Towson def VCU 2-1
HF: This will probably be the most competitive match of the day. Ultimately, Towson brings more experience to the table, which could prove to be the deciding factor.
ZM: This is Towson’s closest game and VCU’s hardest. VCU will claim the 13th biggest upset in history if they can knock off Towson.
UMD def Stevenson 3-0
HF: Again, the Mustangs will be in for a tough match. There are a lot of skilled catchers on Maryland’s side that can change the flow of a game in an instant.
ZM: The Exchange says this will be close, with just 2.194 between ratings. The nod is to Maryland here, but a technical upset here will fall into average percentile territory. Not out of reach for SU.
VCU def UMD 2-1
HF: Two teams with something to prove in this game. VCU brings back more pieces from last season, and that consistency and chemistry should pull the Rams ahead.
ZM: If there aren’t any upsets in the earlier games, this VCU/UMD match will be 44th most evenly matched game in 968 ranked matches. There are points to gain and lose. Personally, I have this one pegged for overtime.
Towson def Stevenson 4-0
HF: Too much talent on the Towson side to let this one slip away. Don’t be too surprised is Stevenson snags a point late in the game, but more than likely this will not happen.
ZM: This exchange falls below our threshold so is set at the minimum, 0.010 (or 2.000 for an upset). Here’s hoping the end of the day match between two neighbors will be filled with fun.