Preseason Predictions

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Preseason Predictions

Postby benmillerbenmiller » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:00 am

With the 2017-2018 season just a few weeks away, now seems about right to begin the ever enjoyable/futile process of preseason prognostication. To toss my two cents in, I compiled personal predictions for how the top 15 teams will shake out next year, based primarily on the performance of returning players at national tournaments. Rather than specifically ranking teams, I decided to only pick a number one and then classify everyone else into tiers. Obviously, this all comes with the normal caveats about preseason predictions, particularly the difficulty of assessing teams which did not compete prominently with underclassmen.

Alright, here goes-

Frontrunner
Thomas Jefferson HSST (Alexandria, VA)
TJ spent all of last season comically underranked, partially because they entered the year with one fewer Ryan Golant then they had before. Though TJ entered nationals at #15 in the Pre-Nats poll and #21 in HSQBRank, they resoundingly asserted their top-tier quality, placing fourth at both HSNCT and PACE. Led by Rohan Hegde, TJ offered consistent, exceptionally well-rounded play and demonstrated a knack for winning close games, taking all eight games they played at PACE which were settled within a one question swing.

While other teams ended their seasons on similarly impressive notes, no other club returns as much talent as TJ. All five players who played on TJ A at HSNCT or PACE return next year, and they lose only one player from their excellent B team (a top 30 finisher at both nationals).

Think about it this way: In 2016, DCC B also placed top-5 at both nationals and returned their whole team. This past season, that DCC team came in a close second at HSNCT and went undefeated at PACE. TJ did even better at nationals than 2016 DCC B, and also returns everyone. Look out.

Championship Contenders (not ranked, in arbitrary order)
Dublin Scioto (Dublin, OH)
Amidst Jakob Myers’ individual dominance last season, it is easy to overlook just how much success Dublin Scioto’s Clark Smith enjoyed. Of particular note is Clark’s exceptional performance at PACE, during which his 132 ppg led Dublin to an impressive fifth-place finish with a near defeat of DCC along the way. Clark enters the 2017-2018 season as the best effectively-solo player in high school quizbowl, with a real shot to eclipse Jakob’s exploits from last year. His breadth and depth of knowledge give Dublin a credible chance at a national championship next spring.

Detroit Catholic Central (Novi, MI)
After a dominating season, DCC returns this year with an imposing, if not necessarily equivalent, roster. Only Robert Crawford remains from last year’s championship team, but he will be joined by rising members of DCC’s stellar B team. Though the Shamrocks don’t enter the season with the same aura of preeminence as last year, their personnel depth and unbeatable commitment cause them to rank among the best teams in the country. Given how often and successfully they compete, I would not be surprised to see DCC A hold the #1 pre-nationals spot in HSQBRank for the fourth year in a row.

Hunter (New York, NY)
The back-to-back HSNCT champs enter the 2017 season without Luke Tierney, the leading man for both of their national championships. But Luke represents Hunter A’s sole loss, as the rest of last season’s squad remains in place. Just as importantly, Hunter is poised to promote Daniel Ma, who led Hunter B to great finishes at both national tournaments. Daniel could well become equivalently skilled as Luke very soon, and if you acknowledge the shadow effect depressing the stats of Hunter A’s returning talent, a HSNCT three-peat does not seem unreasonable.

James E. Katy Taylor (Katy, TX)

William Golden continued his excellent high school career by leading Katy Taylor to a Texas Invitational win and a T-5 placing at HSNCT. If William can continue to improve as a player and maintain his stunningly low neg rate, Katy will easily be a top five team next year. The question of whether Katy can win a national title probably comes down to the team’s secondary scorers, most of whom return this season. If they grow enough to offer William top-flight support (think Luke Tierney and Hunter last season), then Katy could emerge as an HSNCT favorite.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy (Austin, TX)
Last year represented a rebuilding year for LASA, who finished outside the top-5 at HSNCT for the first time since 2009. But LASA will enter this season in strength, combining Graham Stockton, arguably their best player last season, with members of a stacked B team, the highest ranked second team at HSNCT. In particular, rising sophomore Chinmay Murthy appears ready to build off his exemplary rookie performance. If Chinmay becomes the all-world player he projects to be, LASA will become a tough team to beat.

Canyon Crest (San Diego, CA)
Like TJ, Canyon Crest returns all four members of an excellent 2016-2017 team. Though not nearly as dominant as TJ last year, Canyon Crest nonetheless posted a serious of impressive regular season wins (including the NAQT SoCal Championship) en route to a 13th place finish at PACE marked with wins over Dorman, LASA, and Naperville. Given another year of growth and a little more consistency, Canyon Crest could be an interesting dark horse championship candidate.

Probable Powerhouses (not ranked, in arbitrary order)
Lehigh Valley (Bethlehem, PA)
Alex Schmidt is at least high school quizbowl’s second best effectively-solo player and maintains a huge upside with top-5 potential.

Beavercreek (Beavercreek, OH)
After an okay showing at HSNCT, Beavercreek excelled at PACE. Hari Parameswaran with another year of growth is an intimidating notion.

Arcadia (Arcadia, CA)
Arcadia returns much of a solid 2016-2017 team, including lead scorers Matt Forster and Andrew Hoagland. With some growth and luck, Arcadia could challenge Canyon Crest for the Southern California title.

Chattahoochee (Johns Creek, GA)

Only Kevin Huang returns from last year’s excellent team, but the omnipresent depth of Chattahoochee’s program gives them a chance at equaling last year’s success.

Montgomery Blair (Silver Spring, MD)
Yes, I’m ranking my own team here, but not without due cause. Blair returns all but one player from a team which placed 15th HSNCT, and we have a deep bench of rising talent from last year’s solid B team. Hopefully we can give TJ a run for their money in the DC metro.

Adlai Stevenson (Lincolnshire, IL)
Stevenson loses Ali Saeed and much of their high-caliber team from last year, but rising sophomore Govind Prabhakar could easily grow into an all-world player.

Rockford Auburn (Rockford, IL)
Ethan Strombeck was very impressive at PACE and NASAT last season, and with some development, Rockford Auburn could compete with Stevenson (and Fremd) for best team in Illinois.

Richard Montgomery (Rockville, MD)

After comically terrible luck during the HSNCT playoffs, Richard Montgomery rebounded with a strong showing at PACE. All of RM’s PACE team returns next year, and given their science and history depth, they could break into the top 10.

Those fifteen teams probably leave out very worthy schools that I either undervalued or skipped over. For instance, Ed Clark (led by NASAT lad scorer Eshaan Vakil) could make waves, as could Alex Donovan’s MICDS. Traditionally strong teams like Lexington, Dorman, Ladue, and St. John’s all have the depth to compete at a very high level, while teams like Homestead, Darien, and Davis could hold their ground despite significant departures. Fremd also deserves a mention, though their lack of nationals play makes them difficult to assess.

I hope you found these thoughts somewhat interesting or informative. If you think my rankings are out-of-whack, do share your own. I’m curious to see everyone’s perspective on the upcoming season.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby username_crisis_averted » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:23 pm

I think Northview and Detroit Country Day deserve a mention as other top 30-ish teams that didn't lose their top scorer. Northview in particular is a team of all sophomores that should be much better this season. I would probably also bump Stevenson into the upper category as the team has a lot of talent right now in addition to Govind.

Besides that, I'd say your rankings look pretty accurate.
Last edited by username_crisis_averted on Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:29 pm

I don't want to get roasted for arguing my team is underrated, so I'll just say that I think Lehigh will outperform many people's expectations, and that Chattahoochee's B team was quite good last season and I could see their A team being among the best this season. I don't really see how Dorman will be anywhere near the top 15 this season but I am happy to be proved wrong.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby Sit Room Guy » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:29 pm

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wrote:I don't want to get roasted for arguing my team is underrated, so I'll just say that I think Lehigh will outperform many people's expectations, and that Chattahoochee's B team was quite good last season and I could see their A team being among the best this season. I don't really see how Dorman will be anywhere near the top 15 this season but I am happy to be proved wrong.

That's a shame because your team is actually underrated
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby benmillerbenmiller » Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:29 pm

Not sure how I missed Northview; they definetly seem cut out for a top 15 season. And to your point Nick, I definetly think Lehigh and Chattahoochee are top-10 teams, even if my tiering sort of obscured that.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby chandlerparks » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:02 pm

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov wrote:I don't really see how Dorman will be anywhere near the top 15 this season but I am happy to be proved wrong.

I think I speak for the entire Dorman A-team when I say that we would love nothing more than to prove you wrong, Nick. I guess our game against you at [url]HSNCT[/url] wasn't enough proof for you.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby AGoodMan » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:58 pm

username_crisis_averted wrote:I would probably also bump Stevenson into the upper category as the team has a lot of talent right now in addition to Govind.

Olivia Lamberti is returning after a year of not playing, meaning Stevenson (re)gains a very good lit player.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby username_crisis_averted » Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:52 pm

AGoodMan wrote:
username_crisis_averted wrote:I would probably also bump Stevenson into the upper category as the team has a lot of talent right now in addition to Govind.

Olivia Lamberti is returning after a year of not playing, meaning Stevenson (re)gains a very good lit player.

Yes- that was partly what I was referring to. It's also worth noting that Deepak is a great player in his own right (see Ultima stats) and Stevenson boasts an impressive bench of great history players in addition to Govind (Conrad, Chris, Arjun).
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby 2017 in amusement parks » Sat Aug 19, 2017 5:22 pm

It's worth noting that Darien is not underrated and is definitely in rebuild mode, though the A team remain in the top 50. As for top tier predictions, I think Dublin Scioto and DCC should be the favorites at NSC (Dublin over DCC) and Hunter and Taylor should be the favorites at HSNCT. TJ will be top 4 at both but I wouldn't name them the favorite.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby nsb2 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:40 pm

Here's my general ranking of teams for the coming year. Just a caveat: these are my personal opinions based on playing these teams/seeing their stats, and I'd be happy to see surprises in the national circuit this season.

I think TJ are an incredibly well-rounded team, and I could see them winning both of HSNCT and PACE (though winning both national tournaments is unlikely in practice). Having four contributing players gives them a slight edge over Dublin Scioto at PACE; Clark Smith is incredibly good already and will only improve over the coming year. I'd consider Taylor to be TJ's toughest competition at HSNCT, since William can only get better and has pretty good team support.

Below those teams, I think Stevenson, DCC, Canyon Crest (although I haven't seen them play), and possibly LASA and Northview will also contend for HSNCT and/or PACE titles. Several teams led (in terms of points) by non-seniors (like Ed Clark, Auburn, and Oak Park-River Forest (who are underrated due to lack of tournament attendance)) will probably be more prominent in the coming years but could also jump into this category.

Since people have been talking about their own teams, I have a few thoughts on IMSA. Of the consistent A-team players last season, IMSA loses only me and Nathaniel, with replacements in nearly all subject areas. IMSA will probably be at least a top-50 team next year; whether they can press on and make the top 10 depends on how much my former teammates study.

If they do study, the ingredients are all there for a very deep run at nationals. The coach is Dennis Loo, who set up TJ for their status as favorites this year. Hanson is in the same place, ability-wise, that I was sophomore year, and if he studies consistently and prioritizes quizbowl, he could become much better than I was last year. Especially if Shivani, Becky, upcoming history player Vinay, and some incoming sophomores continue improving, I'd definitely put IMSA into the contenders category.

Good luck to all high school teams for the season ahead!
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby username_crisis_averted » Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:33 pm

nsb2 wrote:Oak Park-River Forest (who are underrated due to lack of tournament attendance)) will probably be more prominent in the coming years but could also jump into this category.


What is an "Oak Park River Forest"
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby vathreya » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:38 pm

The thing about TJ and other underranked teams is that their performance, especially at national tournaments, is highly variable. Teams like this tend to rely on tossup conversion instead of bonuses to win games, and while that certainly does produce results, it's also more susceptible to change (i.e. if a few players choke for a round, or if a team gets caught in a spiral of unlucky negs). So, while TJ does remain the number one contender at both national tournaments, I don't think a win will be guaranteed for them.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby vathreya » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:48 pm

As a NorCal player, I'd like to add some insight about teams from my region that are usually overlooked in analyses like these:

I think the Crystal Springs Uplands School could also do very well this season. They graduate no one, and in their first HSNCT they stormed to a T-41 finish (and player Justin French was an all-world honorable mention). While their performance wasn't as good as many of the other teams listed here, I think taking into consideration the fact that they basically stormed out of nowhere to become a formidable team in both their region and the nation, they could potentially break into the top tier of teams.

In addition to the Crystal Springs Uplands School, I think the Harker School, as well as Homestead and Davis could also breach the top tier.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby benmillerbenmiller » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:51 pm

vathreya wrote:The thing about TJ and other underranked teams is that their performance, especially at national tournaments, is highly variable. Teams like this tend to rely on tossup conversion instead of bonuses to win games, and while that certainly does produce results, it's also more susceptible to change (i.e. if a few players choke for a round, or if a team gets caught in a spiral of unlucky negs). So, while TJ does remain the number one contender at both national tournaments, I don't think a win will be guaranteed for them.


I totally agree that TJ is not a lock for either national, but I don't think their style of play makes their performance particularly variable. This is a team that won all but one regular season tournament they played and reached the upper echelon of both HSNCT and PACE. Not to belabor a well-established point, but tossups are what win you games, and TJ is very, very good at getting tossups.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby username_crisis_averted » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:22 pm

vathreya wrote:The thing about TJ and other underranked teams is that their performance, especially at national tournaments, is highly variable. Teams like this tend to rely on tossup conversion instead of bonuses to win games, and while that certainly does produce results, it's also more susceptible to change (i.e. if a few players choke for a round, or if a team gets caught in a spiral of unlucky negs). So, while TJ does remain the number one contender at both national tournaments, I don't think a win will be guaranteed for them.


I'm not sure I understand your point here. TJ's roster is very well-balanced, which I would assume makes them less vulnerable to choking, and their PPB throughout the season + nationals was comparable to their top competition. In what respect are they "underranked"/variable?
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby AKKOLADE » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:52 pm

FWIW, TJ's aPPBs from were significantly better at HSNCT (26.41) and NSC (26.20) compared with their regular season (best @ POMMSS, 25.24). The absence of Rohan Hedge and Grant Li during most of the regular season were a major part of this.
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Re: Preseason Predictions

Postby nsb2 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:02 am

The thing that, for me, really separates TJ from other top teams is the balanced nature of their team, which makes them more, rather than less, reliable.
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