The Official Blog of the 2013 NAQT HSNCT

May 20, 2010

Team Previews: Within Striking Distance

(This post contains the teams that I believe will certainly be within striking distance of the top-tier teams and should go deep into the playoffs, but probably won’t come up with the championship. I’m not sure exactly how the playoff rankings will work out, but if they are similar to the double-elimination playoff formats in the past they should hold for the most part)

Centennial (GA)
One of the more mysterious teams in the field, Centennial played only a few tournaments in the Southeast but they posted exceptionally strong results against some of the more established GA teams and even put up a decent fight against Dorman A. Reports suggest they’re very fast on the buzzer, but their lack of hard-question experience may come to haunt them, particularly against more experienced teams.

The Pick: T-11th
My personal knowledge of Centennial is limited to their strong Model UN team, which if there’s any overlap, should lead to Centennial excelling at current events. Otherwise, I’m very interested in seeing how this usurper in the established Georgia quizbowl hierarchy performs at a national level.

Dunbar (KY)
Who knows what to expect from a team that never seems to have all its top players playing at once? They’ve been quite good when they get their act together, performing quite well at Harvard’s Fall Tournament and outclassing their in-state rivals DuPont Manual at several tournaments.

The Pick: T-11th
I don’t really know what to think about Dunbar’s chances, but this seems like a relatively safe place to put them. I’d add a very high standard deviation here though.

Eden Prairie (MN)
This year’s top team in Minnesota, Eden Prairie is rapidly becoming a year-in year-out playoff contender at the HSNCT. Led by a well-balanced scoring attack, they’ve certainly rung up some impressive bonus conversion numbers while playing within Minnesota.

The Pick: T-7th
There’s really nothing to particularly suggest that Eden Prairie will do superbly well here, but with their extensive experience on the NAQT format (with Minneapolis a hub for NAQTish activities) and a very well-balanced stable of players, this may be their year to go deep once again into the playoffs. I’ll go out on a limb here with this one.

Hoover (AL)
Very strong at history–I had the fortune to read for them in a few matches at the beginning of the year and Lowell van Ness impressed me with deep history knowledge. Science could be a problem, as could the lack of big-match experience. Intangibles: Coach Rutsky is quite enthusiastic and some of the smartest people I know graduated from Hoover.

The Pick: T-11th
I’m not sure if this year’s team is as strong as last year’s which surprised many people with an 8-2 Day 1 record, but if they get a favorable packet they could be quite dangerous.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy (TX)
Toiling in the relative quizbowl barrens of Texas, LASA’s become a regular powerhouse at the HSNCT over the past few years. Rumors claim some of LASA’s team members are studying fanatics who hang out in the #scobowl IRC chatroom where they toil for hours playing on college questions.  They also defeated Dorman, albeit on a slightly different question distribution from a normal NAQT set, but in doing so demonstrated a mastery of the more academic parts of the question distribution. Dorman got revenge last week by beating LASA’s A team three times over the course of one tournament on NAQT questions comparable in difficulty to the HSNCT. LASA’s A team has also had a strange habit of losing to its B team despite scoring more points on average. A few years ago, Dorman B knocked off Dorman A to finish 4th; could history repeat itself this year?

The Pick: T-5th
I’m very much high on LASA and was highly tempted to put them in the championship contenders bracket. I decided not to based on comparing their average bonus conversion on various NAQT IS sets (the sets of questions are the same ones, they’re just mirrored around the country at different times, so while tossup statistics vary by the team you’re playing against, bonuses shouldn’t on average). On the other hand, it does appear that they’ve split their A team several times in some configurations and they appear to have a solid B team, so my information may be wrong. In any case, I don’t think playing on NAQT questions at HSNCT will help their chances.

Mission San Jose (CA)
One of the more unique student-run quizbowl teams in the country, Mission San Jose has apparently never played with their full A team at a high school tournament this year, but they did play at a college tournament, ACF Winter West, where they had quite a respectable 5-5 finish and nearly knocked off a full strength UCLA team. Reports suggest they’ve got a strong variety of overlapping generalists who know their specialty areas as well.

The Pick
: T-7th
It kind of sucks to have to play in a quizbowl-barren area like the Bay Area (Bay Area high schools who happen to read this- get a quizbowl team!), but MSJ should at least hold at the level of last year’s finish of T-11th, though I’ll reckon they might as well improve. Still a bit of a risky pick though considering their rather spotty record of play.
[Edit 2: New information has reached me that tells me MSJ will not be sending any of their normal A team. Thus, I kind of doubt their B team will replicate this level of success and I’m going to strike this pick entirely.]

[Edit 3: Even MORE new information has reached me and apparently this isn’t an ordinary B-team that’ll be there; apparently, it will have some excellent younger players who put up this impressive statline. We shall see what happens.]

Torrey Pines (CA)
Stephen Liu headlines a team that ran roughshod over much of the Southern California quizbowl circuit. They also did quite well on harder questions, which might be a good sign for the more advanced difficulty of the HSNCT although their current events and geography knowledge didn’t appear to be a strength when I saw them play, which could be an issue under the NAQT distribution. Biggest question: can they come back if Stephen runs into a negstorm or starts getting beaten to questions?

The Pick: T-7th
Although an excellent player, I don’t think Stephen can single-handedly carry this team over a top-tier opponent and, while TP’s specialists are probably underrated, other teams may simply overwhelm their knowledge level.  But there aren’t too many of those other teams.

Wilmington Charter (DE)

The defending national champions lost all-everything Henry Gorman as well as some of his support, but they’ve put together a highly respectable showing this year on the tough Mid-Atlantic circuit. Coach “Big Bill” Tressler will once again have a high-quality team but will probably take this as a rebuilding year since he has, as usual, a huge number of farm teams in training for next year.

The Pick: T-7th
The biggest question facing Charter this year is what kind of headgear they’ll don to top last year’s attention-grabbing Chinese hats. Expect another solid performance, but I don’t see them reaching the final playoff rounds.=

[Edit: I changed the poll around to take out LASA and added another poll instead about LASA. Vote on!]

My next preview post will be a breakdown by region of “The Best of the Rest,” many of the other talented teams across the country. The final preview will discuss the small schools playoffs and I will report the results of the ongoing poll being conducted right now for the top 25 high school teams in the nation.



  1. As this moment, it’s LASA 20, Everybody Else 0. I don’t see that changing much.

    Comment by Andrew Chrzanowski — May 21, 2010 @ 7:34 am | Reply

  2. […] are the ones within striking distance: Centennial (GA), Dunbar (KY), Eden Prairie (MN), Hoover (AL), Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy […]

    Pingback by Pre-Tournament Prognostication Post « The Official Blog of the 2010 NAQT HSNCT — May 24, 2010 @ 1:45 am | Reply

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