The Official Blog of the 2013 NAQT HSNCT

May 21, 2012

Regional Preview: The West

Filed under: Pre-Tournament Coverage — Chris C. @ 10:41 pm

“The West” encompasses TX, Oklahoma, and all points northwest from there. I’m dividing it up by state (or in CA’s case, half of the state). Remember, these previews are intended to spur discussion and should not be taken as absolute judgments on a team’s ability. I’ve tried to highlight the teams from each area that would at least make the playoffs or could pull a major upset.

Arizona

Arizona has become a much more active ground for quizbowl in the past year thanks to tournaments at Arizona State and the establishment of the Cactus League. While no world-beaters have emerged yet from the desert, several solid teams with great potential to make the playoffs have. Brophy A, the subject of much discussion a few years back, seems like the strongest contender here although they don’t have much in the way of official results lately and could be rusty. Desert Vista A might also be a threat to hit the magical 6-win-mark too and make the playoffs.

Idaho

 The only team from the revived Idaho circuit this year (major props to Colin of Boise State for getting this circuit up and running) attending the HSNCT will be Treasure Valley Math and Science. Treasure Valley raised some eyebrows last year by making the playoffs, but this year will be most likely looking at breaking even at 5-5.

Northern California

Bellarmine A:
This is the big year for Bellarmine. After upsetting Detroit Country Day and Georgetown Day School en route to a surprising 4th-place finish at the 2010 HSNCT, Bellarmine came even closer last year with a 3rd-place finish. Now with two of its top players seniors, 2012 will be the last, best chance for Bellarmine to triumph on the national scene for some time. But if any team has the weapons to do it, it’s Bellarmine. Their scores against regular competition this year (playing with only 2 players) border on the ridiculous and at the Texas Invitational against the top teams in the country they finished a very close 2nd to Hunter A (more on them in a later post). Most remarkably, their alleged best player this year (Sameer) is only a sophomore and emerged in the course of one year of fanatical studying and preparation. One additional twist: one of their top players, Nikhil, won’t arrive until the playoffs on Sunday so they may under-perform on Saturday, but should still safely reach the 7-3 or 8-2 mark. During the playoffs, it’s going to come down to a test of nerves against the other top teams. Avoiding negs will be key.

Prediction: 8-2 in prelims, 8-1 in playoffs (tournament champion)

Oklahoma

Oklahoma teams have had a tough year. One of the top OK teams lost to the Wichita “Purple Penguins” and when several Texas teams made the drive up to Oklahoma they easily placed ahead of the OK teams. The best schools in the state like Yukon and Edmond Memorial aren’t making the trip to HSNCT this year, so it’s likely to be a down year for the OK teams.

Southern California 

Arcadia A:
Good, but not exactly a world-beater.  I like their depth on bonuses and their experience of getting to play worthy opponents in practice against their B and C teams. But they have little answer for the top teams and, though they’ve traded blows with Canyon Crest this year, haven’t convincingly pulled away from the pack of other top SoCal teams. Notably, they negged at a slightly less-often pace than some of the comparable SoCal teams. 

Prediction: 6-4 in prelims, 2-1 in playoffs 

Arcadia B:
A dangerous B team to encounter. Arcadia B may be a bit slower on the buzzer than its A team counterpart, but has an equally broad knowledge base. They have some spotty gaps in their knowledge coverage though and only scattered pockets of depth. When they get a good packet though they’ve proven themselves more than capable of notching the upset with wins over Canyon Crest A and North Hollywood plus their own A team so far this year. Not going to win, but capable of knocking off some team that wasn’t looking. 

Prediction: 6-4, 0-1 in playoffs 

Canyon Crest:
Strap yourselves in for a ride. Canyon Crest likes to live dangerously and lives and dies on their buzzer speed. While Anthony is the star, his supporting cast members are no slouches either and have good depth in their areas of specialty. One concern is their overall depth–they’re quite good at covering all the categories, but they still lack that final bit of knowledge in most areas that could put them in talk of contention for the championship. Somewhat a streaky team, but the streaks more often than not go in their favor. 

Prediction: 7-3, 2-2 in playoffs 

North Hollywood A:
A relative newcomer to the Southern California quizbowl scene, North Hollywood has matured from a bunch of talented but inexperienced players to a formidable team. They’ve got excellent science coverage  as well as specialists in history, geography, and pop culture, though they may need some work on current events.  Their lack of experience on hard questions raises a question mark though and they were only once able to beat Canyon Crest A on the SoCal circuit this year. Rumors indicate that they’ve chosen the interesting strategy of obsessively studying rather than playing local tournaments to prepare, so we’ll see if that strategy pays off. 

Prediction: 6-4, 1-1 in playoffs

Torrey Pines:
Their buzzer speed is not as fast as it once was and they’ve come up short against many of the top teams in the area. Still, they know enough things to make the playoffs and have a number of generalists who could break loose on a good packet for them at any time. Part of TP’s problem though is that its players don’t complement each other well–they’re all good generalists, but lack the comprehensive in-depth kind of specialization that tough questions in particular demand. They’ll beat all the teams that they should, but it’s hard to see them being able to knock off a top-25 team. 

Prediction: 6-4, 0-1 in playoffs

Texas

A number of teams are attending from the El Paso area, which seems like an isolated but bustling circuit, albeit somewhat mysterious due to the lack of complete statistics from its tournaments. Otherwise, almost all the teams (except for Temple) are from one of the major Texas metro areas: San Antonio (a relatively new circuit), Austin, Dallas, and Houston. The headquarters of the venerable Texas Quizbowl Alliance are located in Houston, which gained national attention during the TXQA Invitational when most of the top teams from around the country flew into Houston to compete against each other, thus providing us prognosticators with much speculation fodder in the results. Other schools to look out for in the Texas area include Bellaire ASt. John’s A, LASA C, and O’Connor.

Cistercian A:
A classic one-man-with-help team, Cistercian’s leading scorer Vimal is a superb all-around player and he’s got help to a greater extent than some other one-man teams. Although its coach’s entertaining posts on the hsqb message boards have declined to a trickle, Cistercian has demonstrated the ability to consistently beat other Texas teams (like here) and was fairly competitive on tough questions at the TX Invitational against the other top teams in the country. If they don’t win this year, they’ve still got another good shot next year since their top scorer is only a junior.

Prediction: 8-2 in prelims, 4-2 in playoffs 

LASA A:
 Although LASA A will take a step back from last year’s stratospheric heights (and close runner-up finish at HSNCT), they’re still a formidable top-10 team. Mixing up the LASA rosters (perhaps in an attempt to assess each player’s strength on different teams) seemed to be a feature of LASA teams throughout the year, so it’s hard to get a good bead on what a full LASA A would look like. The TX Invitational provided one glimpse of that potential. High level of  potential variance here, but also a nicely balanced scoring team reminiscent of last year’s LASA team.

Prediction: 8-2 in prelims, 5-2 in playoffs  

LASA B:
LASA is a good bet for one of the deepest programs in the country, with 4 LASA teams having qualified for HSNCT and a 5th one on the standby list. I debated putting LASA C here too based on the results of several tournaments where LASA juggled its teams around, but it’s unclear just how good the final incarnation of LASA C might be after the top players get put on the A and B teams. As far as LASA B goes, it’ll be a test to try to replicate last year’s run to a tie for 21st.

Prediction: 6-4 in prelims, 2-1 in playoffs

Kealing Middle School:
Yes, this is a Middle School team. Yes, this a bit of a stretch–but not as much as you might think. Take a look at their scores from the NAQT Middle School National Championship. Even more impressive were their results at the TXQBA Invitational, where they won 3 matches and lost 4 other matches by only a single tossup-bonus cycle. Now that they’ve claimed the Middle School National Championship, they’ve had time to study at the high school level. At the very least, several teams of high schoolers are going to go home saying “So…we lost to a bunch of middle schoolers.”

Prediction: 6-4, 0-1 in playoffs

St. Mark’s
A strong team that’s just a hair behind the three-headed Texas behemoth of LASA, Cistercian, and Seven Lakes (alas, Seven Lakes will not be at the HSNCT this year). Somewhat of a Cistercian clone in that their team is built around a strong generalist with a decent supporting group of players. They appear to be quite good at bonuses, but seem a little less aggressive on TUs with a sterling power-to-neg ratio that might cost them some speed against top teams.

Prediction: 7-3, 2-2 in the playoffs

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1 Comment »

  1. Both Brophy and Desert Vista played History Bowl nats just last month, so I doubt they’re very rusty.

    Comment by Raynell — May 23, 2012 @ 8:46 pm | Reply


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