The Official Blog of the 2013 NAQT HSNCT

May 23, 2010

Regional Previews: The Best of the Rest

The West

  • Brophy (AZ)
    Brand-new to the regular quizbowl circuit this year, Brophy holds a rare victory over a near-full-strength Torrey Pines team at an NAQT event, but suffers from inconsistency probably as a result of their newness to circuit play (although they did play NAQT-provided questions at local league events, apparently). Definitely a team nobody wants to be matched up against, but I doubt they’ll be able to pull at 2005 Lakeside (another little-known school new to quizbowl from out West) and make a deep playoff run.
  • Bellarmine (CA)
    A solid school with motivated players that hasn’t been able to travel much and has also suffered from not having all their best players at the same tournament. Admittedly second fiddle to a full-strength Mission San Jose in the Bay Area, but a strong team nonetheless.
  • La Jolla (CA)
    A nicely balanced team that seems to eat up some of the more NAQT-specific aspects of the distribution like pop culture and current events. They’ve been just behind nearby rival Torrey Pines at most tournaments, but have emerged victorious on at least one occasion. They could knock off a better team that’s sleeping or just have the game of their life and pick up some momentum.
  • Rancho Bernardo (CA)
    They’re lost their best player from last year (Anurag), but they’ve reloaded to some extent and should make a solid showing. I have noticed from watching them play and looking at their results that they seem to have a lot of breadth– not too many tossups will go dead against them–but not as much depth comparatively. Thus, I’d expect them to wrack up high scores over lesser-quality opponents

The South (Broadly Defined)
Note: it’s hard to compare many of the Georgia teams to the rest of the country because many of the tournaments in Georgia, for whatever reason, haven’t reported the points-per-bonus (PPB) statistic for each team. This statistic is crucial because PPB is the best measure of how well a team did on that question set independently of the opponents they played against. Thus, it’s hard to compare a team that averages 450 Points Per Game  at one tournament with a team that averaged 350 PPG at another tournament on the same set unless you know the bonus conversion. I sincerely hope future Georgia tournaments will collect at least this statistic (individual statistics would be useful too because it’s hard to tell if a team is playing at full strength otherwise).

  • Alpharetta (GA)
    William has turned himself into one of the top players in the country and in the process made Alpharetta into a formidable team that regularly knocked off local powerhouses Brookwood and Chattahoochee throughout the year. They’ve lost to Dorman and Centennial along with some others this year, but put up a solid fight in all cases.
    [Edit: Word has reached me that Alpharetta will NOT be attending the HSNCT. Sorry for the confusion.]
  • Chattahoochee (GA)
    The ‘Hooch had a fairly disastrous showing at UM’s Fall Tournament, but at least their bonus conversion was respectable. They’ve gotten the better of their Brookwood (GA) rivals at most tournaments this year, but haven’t done much that would suggest they could replicate their Tie for 7th placement at last year’s HSNCT.
  • DuPont Manual (KY)
    Just barely breaking into the South by a few miles south of the Ohio River, Manual has a solid victory over Detroit Country Day (albeit a couple of losses too) as well as a very fine record of performance within Kentucky this year, losing out only full-strength Dunbar teams. A solid team that’s en route to returning to the heights of their mid-decade teams, but probably not going to get more than one or two playoff wins this year.
  • Hume-Fogg (TN)
    Led by perhaps the best player you’ve never heard of, Ian, Hume-Fogg has had great results against inferior competition within the area for the most part (wish it weren’t that way–as a Tennessee high school graduate, I’d love to see more competitive teams coming out of TN). They lost to Hoover at the start of the year and have a few close losses to crosstown rival MLK at the state tournament.
  • MLK (TN)
    More mystery here. We certainly know that Cody has great quizbowl lineage, but he seems to have more breadth than depth on average. He played well solo at Harvard’s Fall Tournament, but took a beating from the top teams. MLK is an excellent school so I’m sure he’ll have support in some form. Probably won’t be enough to go better than 7-3 on Saturday.
  • Walton (GA)
    Another perennial Georgia powerhouse, I’m not sure what to think of Walton because information on their performance seems to be more scant than even the other GA schools. They did appear to do fairly well at this tournament, but never actually played Alpharetta head-to-head thanks to yet another quirk of GA tournaments- single elimination playoffs. Should be a good team, but again probably won’t replicate last year’s performance of going 8-2 on Saturday.

The East Coast/Northeast

  • Bergen County Academies (NJ)
    They’ve put up some very fine numbers in their results this year, but have had a hard time getting over the top to actually win tournaments.  In fact, it appears they’ve lost no less than 3 games this year to a statistically inferior team (St. Joseph’s; more on them below). Always consistently in the hunt, but rarely the actual winner. Still, a very good team that should easily make the playoffs.
  • Caesar Rodney (DE) [Note: this is a later edit to make up for overlooking CR at first]
    My apologies to CR for overlooking them at first; they’ve worked hard all year to improve from the start of the year by leaps and bounds and own victories over Wilmington Charter A as well as Detroit Catholic Central. They suffered from attending tournaments in the loaded DC/VA area for the most part (where playing against GDS, Maggie Walker, and Wilmington Charter was all in a day’s work), but that experience may be beneficial as they showed they could stay competitive with some of the top teams. If you’re interested in seeing an enthusiastic coaching perspective on one team’s full year of quizbowl, you can’t do better than Coach Chrz’s blog.
  • Kellenberg (NY)
    A strong team from Long Island that’s managed to carve out a niche of good quizbowl within the vast quizbowl wasteland of Long Island, Kellenberg seems like it’s the best of the NJ/NY teams that’ll be at the HSNCT this year. They have a couple of strange losses this year, but otherwise seem to have solid fundamentals. They could put up a fight in the playoffs.
  • Raleigh Charter (NC)
    Always a solid, well-coached team, Raleigh Charter looks like it’ll at least make the playoffs this year, but might have a hard time making it out of the first few rounds of those. Good results at local tournaments, but the PPB seems to be lacking this year.
  • St. Joseph’s (NJ)
    St. Joseph’s has had the opposite experience from their NJ counterparts at Bergen- they’ve been able to prevail against statistically better teams a number of times this year, for instance here against Bergen, here again against Bergen, and here against Kellenberg. I like teams that can overachieve or happen to be really fast on the buzzer, but you have to figure the law of averages will hurt ’em over a long weekend of many close matches.
  • Thomas Jefferson (VA)
    The venerable all-time  HSNCT championship (2003, 2004, 2005, and 2008)-leading program has fallen on hard times recently, capped by a stunning 2nd-round playoff exit last year and some frustrating results at regular tournaments this year. But with such a talented pool of students to draw from and a decent bit of experience this year, they should be a playoff team yet again. They may be able to do exceptionally well on science questions especially, which could be interesting since science is often an area in which even some top teams lack good knowledge.

The Midwest (Broadly Defined)
Note: Some of these teams I just don’t know too much about and they have very similar histories as a result of playing together on a very close-knit circuit, so I’ll cover two or more schools at once.

  • Auburn/Adlai Stevenson (IL)
    Despite all the chatter about Illinois quizbowl that goes on in the quizbowl forums, Illinois teams have not had much success at their hometown/state national tournament in recent years and this year looks to be a particularly down year. Stevenson put up a solid PPB stat at Illinois’ NAQT qualifer this year, but there’s just not much experience on the NAQT format here. Auburn on the other hand won the tournament, but finished with a lower PPB.  Both could, however, pull a New Trier from last year (which knocked State College out of the winner’s bracket in the playoffs on a very strange packet, resulting in a number of teams getting eliminated by State College perhaps before they would have otherwise) and pull off a big upset.
  • Detroit Catholic Central (MI)
    Although last year DCC triumphed over crosstown rivals (there appear to be a lot of crosstown rivalries going on here- I guess that speaks to the pattern in which quizbowl competition is focused in specific areas across the country) DCD at the HSNCT en route to a 4th place finish, DCD has outclassed DCC much of the year and DCC’s results have suffered. Still, they’re a veteran team with very balanced scoring across the board.
  • Olmstead Falls/Northmont/Solon (OH)
    Ohio has a somewhat fractured quizbowl circuit, with a few small pockets of intense competition (like in Mahoning County) and with the rest scattered around the state. This year’s slate of Ohio teams lacks a circuit-shattering player like Ike from last year or Noah from Solon a few years ago, but does have some excellent players in Jim from Olmstead Falls and Brandon from Northmont. Neither team looks like it’ll do more than make the playoffs this year though they have improved significantly it would seem from the start of the year. Solon (OH) might be the best team in Ohio and put the work into writing a house-write tournament this year, which is a good sign of dedication, but hasn’t clearly differentiated itself from its fellow Ohioan pack (this is, after all, what national tournaments are quite useful at doing).
  • St. Marks/Seven Lakes/LASA B (TX)
    Texas is kind of a unique place in the quizbowl circuit; it may be far away from pretty much every other area, but it has a lively albeit small quizbowl scene with a good number of NAQT tournaments taking place there this year. While LASA’s A team seems to be clearly at the top of the pack this year, its B team should be very, very solid as well. Shifting combinations of teams make it hard to pinpoint exactly how well LASA B will do, but they should be quite competent and may easily finish in the top 25. St. Marks and Seven Lakes are both solid teams with good records and solid PPBs in the tournaments they’ve competed in, with Seven Lakes keeping it close against Dorman several times when Dorman ventured out West.  St. Mark’s also holds a victory over Arkansas’ flagship quizbowl team, Parkview Magnet. But they’re stuck for the moment playing second fiddle to LASA, though that could change in years ahead.

Note: I’ve probably left out a number of other excellent teams here as I somewhat tried to find a bit of regional balance since it’s hard to compare teams that don’t play outside their region very often.  If you feel you were unfairly left out, use it as bulletin board material in the upcoming week– we’re now just 6 days away from the tournament!



  1. Always cool to continue to get no respect =P

    Comment by KK — May 23, 2010 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  2. I believe Adair County from Kentucky may put up a very vice performance. I’m not really thinking they will bring home a trophy, but they will almost certainly make it to the second day.

    Comment by Scott Blain — May 23, 2010 @ 11:26 am | Reply

  3. I realize that you said to use it for bulletin board material, but Hunter College is arguably a top-10 team, and they’re not even mentioned.

    Comment by Inkana7 — May 23, 2010 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  4. Considering we’ve qualified for PACE Nationals a total of six times this year, played almost 120 games, and probably didn’t have a bad loss since December (except for possibly one of them just yesterday)… CR might/should have crammed its way onto the “East” list.

    We also beat DCC in our only matchup this year (at UPenn), and St. Joseph’s in our most recent matchup as well. We beat Charter for the first time this year and just lost to them yesterday by a small margin because of a bonus snafu where we had to find an extra one and it ended up being trash.

    Also, if you tried to find a “regional balance” why did the East get 5 teams but the Midwest get 9?

    The inclusion of Brophy i think it completely unfounded, as they only played on ONE non-A-set this year for NAQT, and got under 17ppb on it. That’s not remarkable. Even on A-sets, they couldn’t break 21ppb. That’s not a team to fear at HSNCT.

    Comment by Andrew Chrzanowski — May 23, 2010 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  5. Scott: Adair County was definitely quite good in KY, but it seemed like their PPB was a step less than the rest of the teams. I would put them and Danville as playoff teams too for sure, along with perhaps Russell (will get to them more in the small-school discussion).

    Inaka7: This is just for teams that are attending the HSNCT this year. If Hunter was attending, I’d probably put them in the Championship Contender category along with St. Anselm’s (if they were coming too).

    Chrz: You’re right, CR has several impressive victories and a solid PPB, much better than many of the teams I included here. I think the NE/East Coast teams I included here are probably a lot stronger than the Midwest teams I listed, but I was trying for some regional balance (by number of teams registered, the Midwest+Texas is much larger than the East Coast/Northeast, plus it’s just really hard to compare all the intra-Ohio/intra-Missouri/intra-Minnesota/intra-Texas teams). But after looking back at your team’s results, I think I can justify making a belated inclusion.

    I should again stress that this isn’t a hard-and-fast ranking, but rather some strong teams from the various regions that might make noise. I have neither the time nor the information to accurately go through every possible playoff team and differentiate them (if NAQT could find a way to list how well teams fared for each packet, i.e. a list all teams that played IS-92 with their powers, PPB, etc., that might be immensely useful in the future); I just wanted to mention some teams that I may not even have heard of that might be good for people to know. After the tournament of course, I’ll be glad to self-correct and will certainly give props to teams that “I never saw coming/I should’ve.”

    Comment by Chris C. — May 23, 2010 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  6. Berkeley might have been a better choice than Brophy for the West. They split up their good players on the IS-95 set and haven’t really played what you would call legitimate tournaments (same as us and MSJ), but they went 5-5 at HSNCT and their two top scorers are returning.

    Comment by Tanay Kothari — May 23, 2010 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  7. I’ll stand by the Brophy pick. I like the enthusiasm they’ve shown in taking on the challenge of the circuit this year and when I saw them play their buzzes showed a lot of legit real knowledge. I should also note that 2005 Lakeside only had a fairly blah showing on an A set the year they went on their tear. You can’t tell with teams for which you don’t have a lot of measurements, so I’m going to err on overpredicting Brophy this year until we get more information.

    Comment by Chris C. — May 23, 2010 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  8. Not sure about Danville making the general playoffs. They will do well in small school, but I don’t think they have enough depth to go 6-4. We were able to beat them by 200 on an average game when we both had our full line-ups. Then again, I guess they and us have outside chances at the playoffs.

    Comment by Scott Blain — May 23, 2010 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  9. WJ hasn’t lost a single match to a team not named Gov, GDS A, St. Anselm’s, Hunter, or TJ this year. This includes beating CR in two head to head matches. Our PPB stats aren’t too great looking because one is from the first tournament of the year and the other is from me playing solo.

    I’m not a huge believer in the PPB stat as being too indicative of anything. It’s really about the toss-up power IMO, because if you get two more toss-ups than someone, you need a pretty large bonus conversion disparity to actually the team with fewer toss-ups win.

    Comment by KK — May 23, 2010 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  10. I appreciate the mention (even though, as you noticed, we won’t be attending). I will say I wouldn’t consider the GATA State Championship (where we lost to Walton, Chattahoochee, and Centennial) as indicative of our abilities. Suffice to say that the questions were not all NAQT, and there was a judicious amount of mathcomp in the distribution. I’d look at the results from the Norcross Prison Bowl mirror (where we beat Walton, Brookwood, Centennial, and Chattahoochee) as a more accurate representation of what we can do.

    Comment by William Horton — May 23, 2010 @ 8:19 pm | Reply

  11. The Walter Johnson and Whitman teams are good and deserve at least a mention, but there weren’t too many results, especially recent ones, for me to get much of an idea on how they’d do now. I’d discount the results at the September tournament a bit because of changes over the course of the year- namely, some teams get better as the year goes on while others plateau. We’ll see what happens at the HSNCT though- this is as much a learning chance for my own prediction abilities as anything else (maybe next year I’ll try entering all the data into some crazy dataset and use Bayesian updating to generate some unbiased predictions as the tournament goes on).

    I also want to mention Quince Orchard just because its name is awesome and they’re quite a good team too.

    Comment by Chris C. — May 23, 2010 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  12. “if NAQT could find a way to list how well teams fared for each packet, i.e. a list all teams that played IS-92 with their powers, PPB, etc., that might be immensely useful in the future”

    We do keep a list like this internally, and I’ve just shared a copy with Chris.

    Expect a more formal (and perhaps public) ranking system for 2010-11.

    Comment by Jeff Hoppes — May 23, 2010 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  13. […] are the best of the rest, sorted by […]

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

  14. Thanks for doing this. And thanks for your kind words about my squad. I agree that Kellenberg and Bergen Academies have excellent teams and will probably do well this weekend, while we are new to the HSNCT. Kellenberg has victories over Hunter, Charter and Dorman B, and Bergen also has impressive wins over Dorman B and Livingston. Still, we are 5-0 this year against Bergen, and 7-4 against Kellenberg—8-4 if you count the Culver Goldfish. And, if you do count the Goldfish, we finished 2nd to DCD, ahead of Hoover in a playoff match, as well as ahead of Adair & Culver. We also have 2 victories over Caesar Rodney early in the season, while our recent loss to them at GDS was on the last question. At the same tournament we handed Thomas Jefferson its first loss, right after it defeated Hunter College High School, and we also defeated Richard Montgomery. We also lost to Hunter at Harvard on the last question, and the same thing occurred at LIFT against Charter. But to be fair, those two teams have handled us consistently throughout the year. Also, to be fair, we strugled against State College, Maggie Walker, LASA and Saint Anselm’s, suffering some lopsided losses.

    But what does all of this mean? That we had a very interesting and competitve year, for sure, but once the questions start Saturday, it means nothing. But it’s fun to share with others and I hope everyone leaves knowing they played their best.

    Comment by Coach Powers Saint Joseph High School NJ — May 27, 2010 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

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