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For the Record, the Slam Dunk Contest Sucked.

February 15, 2010

Queen City Tune-Up, Mardi Gras, and President’s Day all went down this weekend, with the respective winners being Georgia (15-7 over Michigan State), Wisconsin (13-4 over Illinois), and UC-San Diego (15-13 over Cal). For a more in-depth look at the weekend, I’d look to Aguilar sometime in the next couple days.

In looking at both Queen City and Mardi Gras, Georgia and Wisconsin’s performances stick out. While Georgia lost to East Carolina (8-10) for the second time this year and Wisconsin dropped one to North Park (11-12), both losses came on Saturday in pool play, and are a reminder that the objective in Ultimate is not always to win the most games, but rather to win the most games on Sunday. I don’t think losing is ever ideal, but for a lot of young teams, I think that it helps to keep in mind that it’s more important to peak late in the weekend than it is to dominate pool play. Of course, these often go hand in hand, as a lot of teams reach their peak by winning, and it’s pretty difficult to just turn it on after playing a few shitty games.

This thought, though, can definitely be applied to the course of an entire season. Under the current UPA structure, everyone makes the “playoffs”, and from there, you only have to win enough games to get to the next tournament. Even though seeding makes some teams’ paths easier than others, once you get to Regionals you’ve got just as good a shot at Nationals as anyone else, and once you’re at Nationals you’ve got the same chances of winning whether you’re seeded 1 or 20.

Jam 2008 is a good example of a team that managed to just get by, both during Nationals and while on the road there (they took the last bid out of the Northwest in a very tight game against Furious). What other strong examples are out there? Also, can anyone point me to the post where someone (I think Parinella) talks about how to win Nationals, you really only have to worry about squeeking into pre-Quarters?

Back to the college game, recognizing that ultimate is about tournament wins rather than single games has implications for rankings and seedings. While in college basketball, a single loss usually drops a team in the rankings, this shouldn’t be the case in ultimate because voters can look at an entire weekend before voting. After beating Georgia once en route to winning Joint Summit, East Carolina broke into the CandC Top 25, and my guess is that after their recent victory, they’ll get more votes. Georgia, though, shouldn’t drop because the objective is to win tournaments, and they won Queen City. Similarly, Wisconsin shouldn’t be penalized for losing to North Park because they wound up proving themselves to be the best team in Baton Rouge.

Anyhow, this is just something that popped into my head as I looked at what was happening around the country this weekend and also considering Virginia’s performance in Vegas. It’s all about winning on Sunday, the Sundays that really matter are in April in May.

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