I've decided on a few changes. First, I am going to release ORC predictions on a weekly basis. That way, you have something new each week instead of getting it all at once. Second, I've decided to rank attorneys and witnesses. Instead of my usual rankings, I wanted to break them down into tiers. I've decided to make this list all-inclusive, so a competitor's program does not have to be at ORCS for them to be counted (though, I reserve the right to factor that in).
Finally, I'd like to echo something my brother said in his post. That is, we do these rankings obviously for p.com's entertainment and fun, but we also hope to inspire discussion and not just criticism. There is a reason, for example, I ranked Caress above Hughes. It wasn't just arbitrary. We hope you all will weigh in with your thoughts on that type of stuff too.
So, for now, you get my tiered witness rankings (1-30 is the total order, with each broken down starting at 1).
Tier One: Attorneys in this tier are the basically untouchable at every aspect of mock trial.
- Ben Wallace: Struggling the most since he broke out as a sophomore. That said, struggling for Ben Wallace is unimaginable success for most.
- James Caress: Has clearly hit his stride. When on his game, he is calm and relaxed enough to challenge Ben Wallace for best attorney. In all the O’Conner, Hughes, Hari lovefest, people have been quick to forget Caress remains one of the best closing attorneys in the country.
- Brandon Hughes: Closer to a 2b than a 3. Hughes goes one spot beneath Caress for two reasons. First, Hughes still is not as good at cross examination as Caress (though, at the level they are at, I am truly splitting hairs). Second, Hughes takes enough risks that a judge could dislike him (though, I’m not sure that has happened in close to a year).
Overall: These three have it all. They are elite at direct and cross examination, opening statement and or closing arguments, objections, and really everything. No real identifiable weaknesses. The strength of this group is everything.
Tier Two: These attorneys are some of the best in nation, but aren’t quite top notch at everything aspect.
- Thomas Cull: Clearly elite at opening statements, Cull, however, lacks the presence to be a top-tier attorney. Some judges will find his examinations lacking “pop”, though he has excellent at containing character witnesses during cross examination. He also has taken a huge stride with objections this year.
- Neil Thakor: Another great opening attorney. Thakor is monster with direct examination. His cross examinations are very good, but probably not elite. His big weakness is with objection arguments. Overall, Thakor can match up with AMTA’s best in most areas, and will make a strong push for tier one.
- Nick LoCastro: You can try telling me I’m ranking LoCastro too high all you want, but have you seen him? Seriously? He has the ability to elite in every single category. The number one thing holding him back is consistency with cross examination. Too frequently are his cross examinations overly stock, and not responsive enough for me to call him tier one. That said, everything else is great, and on the right day, he’ll go toe-to-toe with the best.
- Rahul Hari: After recently paying more attention, I realized how much I’ve undervalued him. Despite my crush on Thakor, I can’t ignore Hari has closed that gap in terms of talent. He gives closing arguments that rival Max Bernstein’s, and Hari has learned to control some of his aggression problems from last season. Most impressive is Hari’s grasp of evidence and objections. He very well might be better at objections than anyone else this season.
- Jean-Paul Jacquet: It’s the voice. Jacquet has a voice that probably scores most of 10’s for him. Behind that voice is a smooth courtroom manner, Oscar quality directs, and uncanny poise on cross examination. Jacquet is the best attorney at Harvard.
Overall: Tier two is filled with attorneys that no one wants to hit. While they have some weaknesses or inconsistencies, as a general rule they are going to be close to untouchable. Cull and Thakor have the best chance to break into tier one, while Jacquet and LoCastro are most likely to remain in tier two for this season. One thing to consider is that this tier, as a whole, uses objection arguments much more than tier one.
Tier Three: These attorneys are close to tier two in potential, but might be more polarizing, more inconsistent, or more prone to an off round, but they tend to be elite at some areas and very good at others.
- Chris Ballesteros: His closing arguments are his best weapon. Ballesteros, in my opinion, tries to do more than what he can. I often praised Resnek for his ability to carry a team with his antics, and I think Ballesteros also tries to carry the team. The problem is that, first, he is not nearly as likable as Resnek was, which is what gave Resnek the freedom he had. Second, Ballesteros is not nearly as good at cross examination. I would argue this is his weakest area. Third, even though I don’t like to admit it, Resnek’s antics could also sink the team, and the same is true with Ballesteros.
- Doug Haefele: Before recently seeing Hari, I would have said Haefele was the best in the country with objection arguments. Haefele has drastically improved his ability to cross examine. It seems to me he has done a better job of listening to the witness and following up. His closing arguments are very good, but fairly bland in comparison to some of the other top closing attorneys. His biggest flaw is his arrogance and ability to come across like an ass, though he has kept that in check much better this season.
- Paul Blair: Blair, like Haefele, can be arrogant. Frankly, he often is, and doesn’t hide that fact. His excellent skills across the board counteract that persona very well. His prosecution closing, in particular, is one of the best in the country. I’d like to see his objection arguments be a bit more clean, and his cross examinations to have more structure. All of that said, if he could just come across a bit more likable, it would go a long way.
- Alex Block: Great opening statements, no question. Block has two things working against him. First, he is also arrogant. Second, he is overly aggressive in the courtroom. Most attorneys and witness tremble and fall to his aggression, but the confident and smooth ones will not. In those situations, Block looks unlikable and clearly inferior. I still don’t love his direct examinations, but his cross examinations have gotten much better. As long as he kept away from the sympathy witnesses, he does very well at cross examination.
- Patrick O’Conner: O’Conner is an amazing attorney at closing arguments. His objection arguments work for him, and are very good. His direct examinations are very charismatic, yet still leave the witness in the spotlight, and, truthfully, it is pretty impressive. His cross examinations still remain his weak point. He so often seems to not do much better than break even with the witness. It is almost like he doesn’t quite know when it is one question too many, or one question too few.
- Brittany Yarbrough: Yarbrough gives some of the better opening statements in AMTA, and some pretty good closing arguments. She is actually very good at everything, especially with cross examination. She has a very polite manner to accompany very short and pointed questions. To me, she is a bit bland on direct examination and it seems just like she is going through the motions. I also would like to see a bit more presence in the courtroom from her.
Overall: Tier three is filled with a lot of attorneys who have something they are very good at (in most cases either opening statement or closing argument), but also have a glaring flaw holding them back from breaking into the top two tiers. In many cases that flaw is being unlikeable either due to aggression or arrogance. Most of these attorneys would be top tier if the polished a few rough edges, usually in the area of cross examination. Haefele has the best chance of breaking into tier two this year. Block has a very high ceiling, but needs to change a decent amount before moving up. One interesting thing to consider is that already two of these attorneys are missing NCT.
Tier Four: These attorneys are, at best, elite in just one area, while being very good in others.
- Megan O’Donnell: O’Donnell is really giving amazing closing argument(s) this year. This, of course, is not news. Most impressive has been her growth at cross examination. Last year, I felt this area was a liability for her, while this year it might be her best strength. I don’t know what caused the lightbulb to come on, but it has. She still is prone to getting ahead of herself and becoming overly wordy. I would like to see a bit more relaxed courtroom presence, and a bit more comfort during her direct and cross examinations. Ultimately, she is not elite in any category, but very good in all of them.
- Nick Crown: Oddly enough, Crown is best at direct examination. He is really able to tell a compelling story, often acting as a beneficial supplement to the witness’s testimony. His objection arguments and cross examinations are very good. I would like to see more out of his opening statements. I don’t think they are up to the caliber his closing arguments were last season.
- Ethan Treacy: Treacy is in the elite group at opening statements, and that is a large part of this ranking. He also gives very good direct examinations. Treacy does not have a particularly nuanced understanding of objection arguments, and is easily disadvantaged in this area. His cross examinations are not the liability his objection arguments can be, but they are not his best area.
- Alyssa Pronley: Pronley is the full-fledged embodiment of being very good at everything, but elite at nothing. There is no one area that she is weak at, but if goes up against someone elite in a particular category, she likely will lose that battle. I’d like to see a little bit more passion from her closing arguments, I think that will be the first step in taking her to an elite level.
- Alycia Walker: Walker, as I’ve said many times, has consistency Block does not, but a lower ceiling. Her best strength (besides being consistent) is her closing arguments. She gives very responsive closings that address the facts of each particular trial. That said, she would help herself a lot if she did the same on cross examination.
- Patrick Wixson: Wixson is following nicely in the line of Northwood closing attorneys. The first time I saw him, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but the second time I saw him give a closing argument, I knew he was for real at them. To me, he really struggles with objection arguments. His cross examinations also often feel polished and flashy, but lack a high level of merit. While this probably is not an issue in most rounds, it is something for him to work on.
- Biren Bhansali: No question, his best ability, by far, is closing arguments. He also has a solid grasp on objection arguments. My primary issue with Bhansali is that he comes across very arrogant during very mediocre cross examinations. It’s like he acts like a know-it-all while crossing someone who actually does know it all. As you can imagine, this creates a weird situation where, when the judges are paying attention, they realize Bhansali is appearance on cross examination. I think his over-confidence hurts him on cross examination and precludes him from ever carrying his team with his crosses.
- Vinay Nayak: Nayak’s best strength is cross examination. He has a great mind for how to really set and spring a trap, and has a very creative presentation style. It often reminds me of a poor-man’s imitation of a Resnek cross examination. I find his direct examinations and ability on objection arguments to be good at best. Ultimately, he loses some credibility with judges here. I think his crosses seem like a really smart attorney getting up there and doing a great job, while his direct examinations and objections feel like an undertrained and underprepared lawyer trying to get through something. His closing arguments are fine, but they do not make him special.
- Amanda Swanson: Swanson has a lot going for her. Clearly her strength is with feisty closing arguments that are difficult to argue against. I find her too wordy with objection arguments. Her biggest weakness, to me, is her ability to seemingly lose concentration during a round. It’s not an inconsistency problem where she is good one round an bad the next, since she is good in every round. The problem is that she often misses some big points, or chases down points that are too small. She really needs to learn better how to focus and differentiate the important points from the less important points.
Overall: This tier is about split between seniors and others. The biggest thing to note in tier four is how many of them struggle with the finer aspects of cross examination. I think many people in tier three had a great grasp on the procedural and technical side of mock trial, but were still working on the presentation aspect. This tier, in general, has attorneys that are better at presenting than they are at understanding what they are presenting. I see a lot of people in this tier working their way into the top 2 or 3 tiers by this point next season.
Tier Five: These attorneys are very good in most, if not all, areas, but likely not elite in any.
- Patrick Diamond: I said at the outset of this season, to become elite Diamond was going to need to become consistent. Early in the year, it looked like he was, but now I don’t think so. Some rounds he comes across goofy, almost clown like. Other rounds he comes across amazing, with poise of a national finalist. Yet still in other rounds he comes across as arrogant without good reason to be. He almost always gives great direct examinations. His inconsistency is with cross examination and closing argument. On cross, Diamond gets easily flustered and when he does, he turns to a persona of arrogance and bravado to try to pull off a win. When he does, it fails usually.
- Elizabeth Fletcher: Fletcher is able to be so successful at direct and cross examination because she is also a great witness. She understands all the nuances very well, and most importantly she understands how to present her case in the best possible light. I find her statements quite bland with respect to the rest of her abilities. Finally, she can get flustered with objection arguments and turn unlikeable in a hurry.
- Kelsey Warren: Warren is the opposite of her teammate in many ways. She gives much better speeches. Not unlike Fletcher, Warren struggles with objection arguments. She has a charming courtroom presence that compensates for cross examinations that do not do enough damage. If she gets thrown off, usually be objections, her personality goes out the window and the cross score reflects the cross more accurately.
- Grady Lowman: Lowman has a style that is hard to describe if you haven’t seen it. He is definately a southerner, and has all the charm and accent that go with, but he has this way of being aggressive while doing so. I can’t explain how, but he is able to bully people around without ever losing credibility. He gives very good closing arguments and cross examinations. I remain less than impressed with his direct examinations and objection arguments. While I tend to like his style, I have concerns about how it will do in St. Paul.
- Amanda Mundell: Mundell is amazing at direct and cross examination. She has an amazing ability with cross to lure a witness into exactly what she wants. Her use of calm presence and simple conveyance of her questions is really something to watch. Imagine the way she, as an expert handles cross examination, but then being flipped and used as a way of cross examining. Her weakness is in her opening statement. She has a high ceiling, but hasn’t found her gear. She worked better as a closing attorney, but Caress was better at closing by a substantial margin.
- Benjamin Morrell: Morrell seems very casual at direct and cross examination to the point of unassuming. Yet, with cross examination in particular, he has an ability to seamlessly flush out whatever point he is making. Most of the time, no one sees that coming. His unassuming presentation sets up his closing arguments, which is his biggest strength. His passion and sincerity seem all the more real when contrasted to his direct and cross examination presentation style. His weakness is being too wordy with objections and trying to make distinctions that create more confusion than clarity. As you might expect, when this happens judges can turn on him.
- Josh Cahen: Cahen has a very known presence in the courtroom, yet he remains very likable. To me, this presence is his strongest weapon. It allows him to be very good at everything he does. I find his depth of understanding to be his weakness. He often gets caught in traps of being a bit over his head. He does an effective job of combating this by taking few risks and staying in his comfort zone. While in that zone, he is hard to rattle.
Overall: This tier has most range. Some members of this group are on the verge of putting it all together, while others have likely peaked. There really isn’t anyone who does something that is elite. Most attorneys in this group can be challenged by lower ranked, but still very good attorneys. I would say the biggest reason I put these particular competitors in this tier over other worthy candidates is that these people seem to have the best grasp of their weaknesses and know how to best work around them.
But Don’t Sleep On: These are attorneys that could, by the end of the year, break into the top 5 tiers.
- Lauren Lutton, UGA: Lutton has won quite a few awards this year. She gives great closing arguments and direct examinations. Her cross examinations lack the full force of her closing arguments. She isn’t likely to lose a lot of cross examinations, but I don’t see her as likely to win a lot either. I would argue, in some ways, UGA’s success at ORCS and NCT will turn, in large part, on her ability to rise up and be elite. She is in the spotlight now.
- Lydia Fuller, Vanderbilt: Fuller gives great closing arguments on prosecution and is able to balance the fine line of advocacy without too much aggression. Her cross examinations are also very effective because of her impressive courtroom presence. Her direct examinations are not as good as one would expect as she often seems concerned with her next question. Her biggest weakness is objection arguments. She often demonstrates little in the way of self control and garbles her answers too much. She will need to continue to work on her composure to make the leap into the top five tiers, but early commentary suggests she can.
- Andy Tran, UCI: If you follow me, you know how critical I am of Tran. I really thought Tran on UCI A was a mistake last year. He is arrogant and off-putting. I think since moving him back down a team, he has had the chance to iron out some of the rough patches. He can give very good closing arguments, though they often are heavy on antics. His biggest weakness is his personality, he makes it easy to not like him. It will be interesting to see if UCI thinks he is ready to rejoin the A team.
- Marilyn Robb, Columbia: I’ve seen Robb multiple times over the past few years, and I can promise you she is very good. She is one of the nicest attorneys you will encounter in AMTA. Her closing arguments have excellent structure and respectful delivery. Her direct examinations are not remarkable as she adds nothing to the direct. Her biggest weakness might be that her presence is sometimes too soft and she will be overshadowed by charismatic attorneys. I don’t know how Columbia will stack for NCT, but in my opinion Robb deserves a spot.
Overall: These four are names that I want everyone to keep in mind. There are definitely attorneys out there better than these four, but those are four that I think could become top 5 tier attorneys this season. They all have started building nice resumes, but now they are about to be thrust onto the national stage and asked to prove themselves.
So sorry for being a bit late with getting this posted, but you'll still get something to read! I am posting this weekend's predictions now, and I'll have the rest of the ORCs posted this weekend.
I'm going to go through each ORC and give you my predictions. Let's hope I do better than last year.
Others with a shot: NYU B, Tufts B, Boston University A.
- NYU A: Lead by Patrick Diamond, NYU A should have little trouble earning a bid. I'm not too high on this team right now, because I'm troubled by the inconsistency. I find them a bit young, and, well, goofy at times. Obviously they can step up and beat almost anyone, but I'm just not ready to declare them elite. That said, they'll get a bid and have plenty of chance to prove me wrong at NCT. Look out for Jackie Newsome and Katy Akopjan as attorneys. I think both are a bit more consistent than Patrick Diamond. Diamond is clearly the best of the bunch, but I think he really loses focus. He is great at direct examination, but sometimes his cross examinations leave me wondering if he just proved anything. Meanwhile, Newsome and Akopjan are not as consistent across the board but really can give deliver some knockout blows. Bill Visone remains the best witness for NYU.
- Tufts A: To me, Tufts is the team with the highest ceiling coming out of White Plains. LoCastro is really at another level this year. To me, he is elite at everything and has few weaknesses. I would say the same thing about Tufts. Alex Gottfried has gone too long without proper recognition for his opening statements. While he isn't up to the level of LoCastro, he is formidable. This is a team I would not want to hit.
- Brown A: Brown is a fierce team with lots of aggression. This clearly can be a disadvantage at times, in that they will be off-putting to some judges. Overall, most teams won't know quite how to handle Brown and they will pull out rounds. Jeff Wilke leads the group and they should make it out of white plains in a dogfight.
- Columbia A: I'm a bit higher on Columbia than most people. Maybe I give a lot to notion of "chip on your shoulder", but either way, I'm convinced this team is ready for the big time. The excellent coaching staff is something to marvel at. Harshitha Kilari is, by far, the leading talent on the team and an amazing witness. I'm not totally aware of how Columbia stacked the two teams, but the B squad has talent that could easily be on the A squad. Either way, this team should return to NCT.
- Yale: This is my big gamble for this ORC. We all know by now about the talent of Nayak. He is very clever, and quite a lot of fun. He didn't compete last semester, and the team was trying to find their way thus far in 2012. I think they are ready. Most importantly, I believe the chip on their shoulder is enough.
- Brandies: Brandies is peaking at the right time. Go back even to December and I don't think there was any chance I'd have them getting out. Maddie Ziff has been poised all season and been graceful under pressure. Chris Amstutz is finally providing her with some help. Maybe this is a long shot, but I like the chemistry Brandies currently has.
Others with a shot: Michigan State A, Northwood B
- Northwestern: It is my understanding the A team is competing and is stacked. Given this fact, there is no doubt they should dominate at this ORC. A fully stacked Northwestern A is a top flight threat. They have an underrated coaching staff. The team is thin at attorney, but Biren Bhansali more than makes up for that fact. Of all the breakout freshmen from last year, Bhansali has arguably grown the most from last season. Which, considering how good he was, really says something. In particular, his closing arguments have reached an elite level.
- Northwood A: I don't buy into Northwood. Sorry. Okay, sure, they are clearly good enough to get back to NCT, but I think that is more a product of this ORC than their team. Patrick Wixon has a reputation that has gotten out of hand, if you ask me. It would not shock me to learn he ranks FAR better than he scores. Amanda Riley is probably the best person on this team. Despite my seemingly harsh comments, Northwood should cruise through this ORC. And, I think I speak for most everyone in AMTA in saying we are excited to have them back at NCT, as they are always a fun group. I think one more year before they are ready to really compete at the highest level, but they will get valuable experience this year.
- Notre Dame A: Notre Dame is on the rise this season. After getting two teams to NCT last year and their top team doing pretty well, I'm expecting Notre Dame to make a push for top 10. I don't think they have the same depth across two teams this year, but clearly they are very good. All American Stephen Payne has returned this year and has contented dominance. Possibly the top witness at Waukegan, Notre Dame will need him at the top of his game in order to lock up the bid. Watch out for aggressive attorney play from Notre Dame, which, if you follow them, is nothing new.
- Macalester A: I owe Macalester an apology. I've disregarded them all season and it has been plain wrong. They are the second best team at this tournament behind Northwestern. Samantha Gupta and Nathaniel Smith lead the team and do so with experience. While the team is a bit bland for my taste, they will do great in Waukegan and, subsequently, in St. Paul. Don't be surprised to see them in the top 10 at NCT.
- Hamline A: Hamline is also a team I've underrated this season. Though flying solo, Josh Peterson remains a great competitor. Hamline is a bit thin at attorney this year, but they are just creative enough with the witness portrayals that it makes up for it. The witnesses are incredibly hard to cross, so watch out!!
- Lewis A: This is a gamble on my part, but where the team is a bit weak on talent compared to some of the other teams here, their chemistry is excellent. Also, the talent here should not be underestimated. Michael Park receives many awards and is a very talented attorney, but the real talent Cassandra Myers. She has been the best member of this team all season and really holds them together. I expect Myers and Park can do just enough to eek out the final bid.
Others with a shot: UCSD, UCI B
- UCLA A: I could probably write a short story about this team. You've heard almost all of it, so I'll keep it to things you have not heard or have heard less of. Iain Lampert is also an attorney this year. While he is not anywhere near as good at this as he is at being a witness, he has really progressed and has a great, casual demeanor in the courtroom. Brandon Hughes plays an excellent Foster. Amanda Mundell is an excellent attorney. James Caress has hit his stride this season, and is doing better than Hughes. I'm not sure if I'll do an attorney/ witness ranking list at the conclusion of this post, but if I did, Caress would be the number 2 attorney in the country right now.
- UC-Irvine A: It should come as no surprise that UCLA is my early prediction to make the final round at NCT, and it should also not come as a surprise that UCI is my other early prediction. Have you seen this team? I'm not sure a weak link exists. I've sung Thakor's praises for over a year now, so I won't bore you with my infatuation with him. I'll turn now to Rahul Hari. I've always felt he was good, even very good, but it wasn't until Downtown that I became convinced he was great. He is. His closing arguments have become rivaled by few. The witnesses are probably even more impressive than the attorneys. I'm really hoping for a UCLA v UCI battle.
- Arizona State A: Jimmy Cool and Co. should have little problem making NCT this year. Yarborough is doing as well as ever. Matt Scarvie has stepped up this year and balanced the attorney talent. Last year he showed flashes of brilliance, but hadn't put it together. Combine his increased talent and ASU's chip, and this team will be at NCT.
- UCLA B: I'll be honest, I don't know the configuration of UCLA B. I know they are lead by Phillip Mayer, younger brother of a former favorite Stephen Mayer, who has really grown into a fine attorney this year. If UCLA ends up only qualifying one team to NCT, Philip will be vying for a spot on that team. With the huge depth in the program, I'd expect however they stack, it will be very good.
- USC A: USC is stacked FULLY for the first time ever (and this season). They debuted this team starting in January and through two invitationals went 13-2-1. Christen Philips is not on an elite level yet, but is the most likely Trojan to do so. She is one of the more calm attorneys on the west coast. She is able to get away with a lot of the type of stuff James Caress does because of her calm manner.
- Howard: Howard will look to return to NCT and follow up the top 10 finish. Lead by Yosef Wise, Howard has their work cut out for them in Newport. While Howard is not a trendy pick, I am confident they have what it takes. The overly dramatized style and big witnesses should play very well on the west coast. I like Howard to have a lot of success at ORCS, but I don't see them having what it takes to even break top 15 at NCT.
Others: Mary Washington, Temple
- UVA A
- UVA B
- George Washington
Others: Iowa, Cornell College
- Cal A
- Cal B
- WashU A
- WashU B
Others: Eastern Michigan, Cincinnati
- Miami A
- Miami B
- Bowling Green
- Chicago A
- Ohio State A
Commentary: First off, sorry for the lack of any comments last week. I don't have time to detail each team, so I'll just give an overview of each ORC. Hamilton is by far the weakest of the ORCS this weekend. Miami A and Chicago A are the two elite teams here. I've been sticking with Michigan since last year as a team to watch this year. I'm expecting them to get to NCT and prove me right! I like Ohio State more than most people, and think they have better depth than many would guess. A fully stacked Ohio State A team should give teams trouble. Bowling Green shouldn't have trouble at this ORC, but they will ultimately struggle on the national stage.
Others: Duke B, University of Central Florida A, South Carolina
- Harvard A
- Duke A
- Patrick Henry A
- Harvard B
- Furman A
- Washington and Lee A
Commentary: This ORC is incredibly deep top to bottom. Harvard A might be the only top 10 team in the country here, and definitely the only truly elite team, but you are hard pressed to find lackluster teams at this ORC. Duke A has quietly put together a very impressive season, while also, as a program, shown considerable depth. Patrick Henry A has built on the performances last season and are ready to break into NCT. The bottom half of this ORC is much tougher to predict. Home field advantage gives a fairly mediocre Furman team a nice edge at this ORC and should secure them 1 bid. Washington and Lee has probably outperformed their talent level for much of this season, but I won't argue with the totality of results. The sleeper team to me is UCF. They had 4 teams this season all have fairly impressive showings, and depending on how much stacking they do, their top team could really be a lot to handle.
Others: Rhodes B, UGA B, MTSU
- Rhodes A
- UGA A
- Washington A
- UAB A
Commentary: Rhodes A, UGA A, and Washington A will have no problem placing top 6. I echo the sentiment that Texas, on paper, is a killer team, but their results leave much to be desired. The final two spots are most compelling for me. Rhodes B and UGA B are the likely suspects to get the bids, but both have serious questions. For Rhodes, we haven't really seen impressive results, and certainly not against better competition, from any of the lower teams. We can trust the coaching staff to do their job well, but Rhodes B is too much of a question mark right now. UGA is fully stacking the top team, so the top talent, such as Lutton, is now on the A team, which leaves B a bit bare. Meanwhile, UAB and Vanderbilt have both had impressive starts to 2012, with UAB being 15-1 this calendar year and Vanderbilt's impressive 7-1 finish at a tough regional. Finally, MTSU seems to have its strongest team in recent history, and I wouldn't put it past them to sneak through to NCT.