Mizzou Spring Breakout Preview

This weekend at the University of Missouri, the Midwest gets back to action, facing off against mercenaries from other regions.

After a long and historically miserable winter (that still hasn’t ended), the Midwest finally starts some high-profile quidditch with the University of Missouri’s Spring Breakout tournament. Four Midwest World Cup teams, a smattering of mercenary teams and an out-of-region challenger will battle it out for two days in a frigid affair. With many of these teams being unofficial, we’re going to look at this tournament’s important themes and significant matchups.

Pool One: University of Missouri, University of Kansas, University of Southern Indiana, TC Frost
Pool Two: Crimson Warhawks, Iowa State University, Osos de Muerte, Webster University
Pool Three: Purdue University, Illinois State University, University of Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois University
Pool Four: I-55 Djinn (a combination of the Chicago Phoenix and the St. Louis Spirits), Sassy Nasty Ninja Turtles (Merc Team One), Scheer Dumb Luck (Merc Team Two), Balling Green (a combination of Bowling Green State University and Ball State University)

Teams/Matchups to Watch

A Classic Rivalry
The first matchup most will notice comes out of Pool One, with yet another Kansas and Missouri matchup. These two traditional rivals have played countless times since Missouri’s team formed in 2012, and Missouri has yet to come out on top. If Missouri wanted revenge, there is no better place than its own home turf. Adding to Missouri’s upset chances, this is Missouri’s first tournament in its history with a full 21-player roster. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this match will end in snitch range--but Kansas still has Keir Rudolph. The edge still falls with the Jayhawks.

Just How Good is TC Frost?
Probably the biggest surprise qualifier from the Midwest Regional Championship is this Minnesota-based community squad. The Midwest was granted 15 qualifying spots and TC Frost gathered one of the last four bids. There’s no easy way to put this: TC Frost is 3-7 this season in official matches. Furthermore, only one win came against a World Cup team: 15th place finisher Grand Valley State University, 90*-40. Pool play matches against Kansas and Missouri will show us how much TC Frost has improved in its World Cup push, if at all.

B-Team Showdowns
Pool Two’s highlighted teams are the Kansas B-team Crimson Warhawks and Baylor University’s Osos de Muerte. The Crimson Warhawks have enjoyed much more success this season than the Baylor squad, qualifying for World Cup VII combined with an 8-5 record this season. Osos de Muerte is only 2-14 this season, but Southwest purists will argue its schedule has been much more difficult by virtue of playing in the state of Texas. This matchup, which I believe Crimson Warhawks will take handily, will nonetheless give some insight to the relative strengths of the Midwest to the Southwest.

Purdue’s Nightmare Season
The biggest surprise to not qualify from the Midwest has to be Purdue, which fell victim to the University of Toledo 70*-50 in a play-in round Midwest Regional match. That loss relegated Purdue to a second alternate spot, when many think Purdue belonged somewhere in a 10th-15th place finish. This Purdue team is not as strong as past seasons, but it has shown great resolve thus far in spring 2014 with a 40*-30 win over Missouri at the Purdue Winter Indoor Invitational. Winning Pool Three is a must for a team trying to get back on the right track.

Merc Teams Galore
The inclusion of four mercenary/combination squads adds a very interesting element to this event. The final three (Scheer, Turtles and Balling Green) have some wildly impressive rosters. Team Sassy is headlined by Lost Boys standout chaser Vanessa Goh and supported by captain Amanda “Turtle” Nagy, University of Arkansas strongman Vincent Barrios, Arizona State University beater Duston Mazzella and the man himself, Dan Hanson (Lost Boys QC). Team Scheer somehow ended up with a chasing line that includes (brace yourself) Lone Star Quidditch Club’s Beto Natera, University of Michigan’s Andrew Axtell, Arizona State’s Ethan Kapke, University of Texas-San Antonio’s Craig Garrison and captain Scheer himself. Supporting this star-filled group is standout Baylor beater Chris Rhodes. Balling Green’s roster includes pretty much the entire starting line of Bowling Green and Ball State. A potential starting lineup of keeper Tyler Walker (BSU); chasers Daniel Daugherty (BGSU), Devon McCoy (BSU), and Meredith Taylor (BGSU); beaters Chad Brown (BGSU) and Melinda Staup (BSU); and seeker Sam Roitblat (BGSU) might be the best lineup at the entire tournament.

These three mercenary teams are probably three of the best four teams at the Mizzou Spring Breakout. The fourth team: Kansas. As long as these three mercenary teams or Kansas don’t run into each other in bracket play (a very likely probability), expect to see these four occupy the semi-finals with relative ease. My gut tells me that although the mercenary teams have more star power, Kansas’s established chemistry with Rudolph’s seeking ability will carry it to a championship.

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