With the second quarter WFTDA rankings period closing at the end of the month, June’s bouts represent the final chances for teams to solidify their seeding for the September and October regional tournaments — or claim an invite by breaking into their region’s top ten.
This week, DNN takes a four-part look at how the playoff picture is shaping up over the final five weeks of the WFTDA “regular season.” Yesterday we examined the East region; today we move on to the North Central. While the West region has generated the most high-profile surprises so far this year, the North Central has quietly been developing into arguably the most dynamic region, featuring the most closely-matched competition.
Showdown in St. Paul
For over three years, the North Central region has been ruled by Chicago’s Windy City Rollers, who have put up a flawless 24-0 record against regional competition since the North Central was formed at the beginning of the 2009 season. Though at various times Detroit, Madison, Naptown and Cincinnati have all threatened to end that streak, it’s current 2NC Minnesota who has emerged as their most dogged regional rival in the last couple of years. Windy City found themselves tied or trailing at halftime of both of their 2011 meetings with Minnesota, but both times rallied in the second half to deny Minnesota the upset.
It’s tough to make a confident call on what will happen when Windy City goes to Minnesota on June 16 for a game that will likely decide the top seed in this year’s NC playoffs. On the one hand, Minnesota has been coming closer and closer to taking down WCR with every meeting, and they’re notoriously tough to defeat on their home turf of the Roy. On the other hand, going by shared opponent Naptown, Windy City would seem to be a stronger team than Minnesota right now — Minnesota had a very tough battle in early May against Naptown, pulling ahead in the final minutes to win 149-114, but Windy City battered Naptown at the end of March, 187-69.
Out of region results at this weekend’s Brewhaha might shed some more light on where the two teams stand, though. Both Minnesota and Windy City play Charm City there — Minnesota on Saturday and Windy City on Sunday.
Key Regional Matchups
June 1: 7NC Ohio @ 10NC Madison
June 2: 7NC Ohio v 11NC Grand Raggidy (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 2: 4NC Detroit @ 6NC Brewcity (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 2: 4NC Detroit v 8NC Arch Rival (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 2: 5NC Chicago Outfit v 9NC Cincinnati (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 3: 2NC Minnesota v 4NC Detroit (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 3: 7NC Ohio @ 6NC Brewcity (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 3: 8NC Arch Rival v 9NC Cincinnati (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 3: 11NC Grand Raggidy v 17NC Tri-City (Midwest Brewhaha)
June 16: 1NC Windy City @ 2NC Minnesota
June 23: 5NC Chicago Outfit @ 6NC Brewcity
Big Games at Brewhaha
Outside of Windy City / Minnesota and June 23′s meeting between 5NC Chicago Outfit and 6NC Brewcity, almost all of the remaining key action in the North Central will occur in Wisconsin this weekend. Of the region’s top 10 teams, only 3NC Naptown sits the weekend out, and the massive amount of potential interactions between the 9 major North Central games to be played from June 1 to June 3 mean that mapping out the repercussions will be impossible before Sunday night — and maybe for weeks afterwards.
10NC Madison won’t play at Brewhaha in Milwaukee, but they will play on Friday June 1 against 7NC Ohio. If rankings hold and Madison loses to Ohio, they’ll be very interested in the result of Ohio’s June 2 game against 11NC Grand Raggidy; a Grand Raggidy win there would almost certainly put Grand Raggidy in the top ten and drop Madison out.
Brewhaha is particularly huge for 4NC Detroit, who have been quiet longer than any 2011 playoff team in the entire WFTDA; they haven’t played a game since losing the third-place game of the 2011 NC playoffs to Naptown last October. They’ll need to shake the rust off very quickly, as they squeeze three games into the Brewhaha’s two days — 6NC Brewcity and 8NC Arch Rival on Saturday and 2NC Minnesota on Sunday. A 3-0 weekend would likely put them at #2 in the region, while an 0-3 weekend — assuming further upsets elsewhere — could conceivably drop them as low as 11.
9NC Cincinnati has what looks like their best opportunity in a while to boost their slipping standing at Brewhaha, as they face two opponents that are potentially beatable in 5NC Chicago Outfit and 8NC Arch Rival. The Outfit shot up the NC rankings with surprise wins at last year’s playoffs, but this year had a tough time getting past 11NC Grand Raggidy (a 26 point win for the Outfit) and 14NC Fort Wayne (37 point win for the Outfit). Arch Rival has beaten Cincinnati head to head this year when they played in March, but Cincy kept it within 40, close enough that a different result two months later seems possible.
Finally, the June 3 battle between 6NC Brewcity and 7NC Ohio is worth just one ranking spot on paper at the moment, but could very well complicate rankings immensely if Ohio is upset by Madison or Grand Raggidy or if Brewcity is able to upset Detroit. Even if all those other games go as expected, the WFTDA’s tournament structure means the difference between 6 and 7 is particularly key, since the 7-10 teams have to play an extra game at the beginning of the tournament and face the 1 and 2 seeds if they win.
The Long Shots
Although it would probably require the stars to align almost perfectly â€“ not to mention some favorable reasoning from the WFTDA voters â€“ there’s even a potential path for the 17th-ranked team in the region, Kitchener, Ontario’s Tri-City, to sneak in the back door of the playoffs. Tri-City already has has a couple of results in May that are likely to lift them much closer to the top ten, as they lost to Grand Raggidy by just 11 points and did reasonably well against Ohio in a 159-113 loss. If Ohio beats Madison as expected on June 1 and then Grand Raggidy is able to finally pull the upset on Ohio on June 2, the Tri-City / Grand Raggidy rematch on June 3 might very well be enough to pull Tri-City into the top 10 with a win. (Although 15E Toronto defeated Tri-City head to head in March, Toronto lost big when they got their own shot at Ohio in May, 197-91.)