Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:11 pm
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At Mock Analysis Is My Drug, we love the AMTA Team Power Rankings. They tell us a lot about a program’s performances over the past three years. But AMTA TPR is always a year behind at the best of times. This year, it’s two years behind. As we saw at ORCS, a lot can change in two years. Some teams have grown a lot over the last two years and some perennial National Championship Tournament have fallen off. This list attempts to update the power rankings to better reflect the results we’ve seen in the 2020-2021 AMTA season, based on our own competitive experiences this season. Each member of Mock Analysis Is My Drug submitted their own ranking, which was then compiled into the final result found here. As always, we expect surprises (our 48th-ranked team has never failed to place in their division). We recognize that these types of rankings are inherently subjective, and hope this starts a conversation and gives all teams at the National Championship Tournament a bit more information about their competition. We are excited to see how everyone does at this year’s National Championship - good luck to everyone competing!
These rankings were compiled before the division draw, based on what we think are the raw strength of the teams. The success of the teams may end up being affected by the fact that, for example, our top 7 teams are all in Division 1.
These rankings were compiled before the division draw, based on what we think are the raw strength of the teams. The success of the teams may end up being affected by the fact that, for example, our top 7 teams are all in Division 1.
- UCLA A - There are a few categories we look at when ranking these teams, and UCLA fell at the top of pretty much all of them. Invitational season? UCLA won this year’s most challenging invitational (GCF) with a 7-1 record and a 3-2 win over Berkeley in the championship round. AMTA season? The team went 19-1 at regionals and ORCS, with a single loss by a single point to a team who also qualified for the National Championship Tournament, GW A. Over 20 ballots, UCLA won by double digits on 13 with an overall point differential of 252. Star power? Practically their entire team earned awards at either regionals or ORCS this year with Natalie Penn, Audrey Shephard, Connor Nickson, Camille Schaefer and Jad Soucar taking home All-Regional awards and Ellen Park (and Connor Nickson again) taking home All-National awards. Add on Camille Schaefer’s All-National award last year and their lineup becomes even more impressive. History of success? UCLA once again ranks at the top with 4 previous nationals titles. Plus, mock trial is in the air in Los Angeles: former AMTA president and current coach of UCLA’s law school trial team Justin Bernstein has been turning the city into an epicenter of mock trial, recruiting some of the best AMTA alums to the team and taking home win after win. All signs seem to be pointing up for the Bruins and this might be their year to take home their fifth title.
- Virginia A - Virginia is one of the great institutions of mock trial, and anyone who counts them out of the running at Nationals should be prepared to eat their words. The team has great performers, yes, but Virginia’s real strength lies in its system. The close-knit program prefers to stay small and selective–Virginia only sends two teams to regionals every year, and prefers to send both of its teams to the same tournaments whenever possible. Both Virginia A and B are always a threat, but when it comes to the National Championship Tournament, it’s all hands on deck for the top team. As a result, UVA has qualified for or been on the cusp of qualifying for the last four national final rounds, never placing worse than second. The program consistently churns out clean, polished, high quality content at the National Championship Tournament that is very hard to beat especially with the short time frame. Even when Virginia has struggled earlier in the AMTA season (for example in 2019 when they barely made it out of ORCS), the team is a threat to make the championship round. This makes us less worried than we might otherwise be about the fact that the team missed an ORCS bid in 2020 and seemed to struggle in their top rounds at ORCS in 2021. Further reinforcing our belief in their ability to perform well at the top are a string of top invite performances over the last two seasons (over which their team has remained largely the same), including their win in the GCF final last year. Virginia also has several competitors who have shown standout performances including attorney Isabelle Mayor-Mora who snagged plenty of fall awards, and dual-threat all-star Akash Bhat (who is on a roll with two awards at regionals and one at ORCS). Virginia’s talented competitors and top-tier coaching makes them hard to beat at the National Championship Tournament. UVA’s competitors are good, clean, and polished: but this consistency can come at a cost. Virginia is perhaps the hardest team in the country to sweep, but the team’s stylistic decision to play very few risks mean that Virginia doesn’t always differentiate enough to make a clean sweep of close rounds. It is this tendency that has kept them out of the final on their last several attempts and seems to be the flaw that has kept them out of the very top of the invite standings this year. But in this year’s Division One bloodbath, being un-sweepable might be all it takes to fight out of the crowded field.
- Tufts A - Tufts is one of the oldest and most experienced teams remaining on the circuit. They still have three members from the team that qualified for the 2020 GCF final round in fifth year Oliver Marsden, Will Wilson, and Will Porter (one of the few remaining All-Americans around). In particular, Porter is a player to watch at this Championship. He earned his All-American as Charlie Floyd at the 2018 Nationals in Minneapolis and has consistently been among the best character witnesses in the country ever since. This year’s Tufts team has had some great success so far this semester, finishing 3rd at Beach Party, 3rd in their division at GCF, and going a stellar 10-0-2 at ORCS. Those results even disguise how strong Tufts has been. They lost by essentially 1 point to UVA in the Beach Party semifinals. At GCF, their three losses were by 1, 2, and 3 (two of which were to eventual 8-0 division winner Cal Berkeley). And at ORCS, the only ballots they didn’t win were in their AvA round against Fordham LC A where they went tie, tie, +9. All of that is to say, this team is incredibly talented and poised to make a deep run at Nationals. Tufts as a program hasn’t quite figured out yet how to catapult themselves into the top echelon of teams at NCT, but our #3 rank here reflects our confidence that if any Tufts team is going to have it figured out, it will be this one.
- Miami A - Without Rhodes, Miami now holds the title for longest streak of continuously bidding to NCT (and they are, of course, the reigning National Champion). This year, they’ve shown convincingly that those mantles are earned. They dominated at invitationals, including a first place finish at GAMTI and an almost perfect record at ORCS--dropping only one ballot to Stanford B, who would go on to bid to NCT themselves. The team is comprised of superstars: Zion Miller has been racking up awards as a witness all year including at ORCS, Catherine Lammersen has proven to be a consistent double-threat, and Katelyn Hunt has won several attorney awards including at ORCS. In fact, an informal ranking of individual performers lists both Miller and Lammersen in the top-10 competitors in the country--and Hunt pulls her weight coming in at 40. Talent aside, Miami knows how to prepare for the new NCT system: they’ve been doing it ever since the new case was introduced. Miami is a team to fear, and a strong contender to hold onto the title for another year.
- Northwestern A - Northwestern is in an interesting spot. They certainly have a lot of talent on their team this year. For one thing they have two of the very few remaining All Americans, Olivia O’Brien (2019) and Michael Zhou (2018). They are joined by Ruby Scanlon and Tahj Burnett both of whom have made our Top Competitors list as double threats with a high number of awards (Burnett earning awards as both an attorney and a witness at ORCS). They have also had impressive performances this spring, winning Beach Party, taking second at GCF, going 8-0 at regionals and qualifying through ORCS with 9.5 wins despite having to play the number one ranked team in the country. All of that suggests that the nationals field should be very afraid of Northwestern this year. That being said we do have reservations. Nationals is a different animal than regionals or ORCS, different even from the invite season. And this is a team that has struggled with nationals in the past, even after very successful invite and AMTA seasons. They have gone 8-0 at ORCS only to falter at NCT. Since the new case system was put in place, Northwestern has not placed above 9th in their division at nationals. The question for Northwestern then is whether the 2021 virtual NCT will be more like the Zoom invitationals at which they have excelled or more like past nationals where they have faltered.
- UC Berkeley A - UC Berkeley is another team that's proven themselves to be even better than their TPR suggests this year. They produced an incredibly strong invite season, most notably going 8-0 in their division at GCF (including a two ballot win over an extremely strong Tufts side) and losing by just one ballot in the tournament's final round against our top-ranked UCLA team. The team then breezed through the AMTA season so far, going 8-0 at regionals, where their average margin of victory was over 15 points, and then 10-2 at ORCS, with their only dropped ballots coming in a very close round against Duke A. This is a team that has always been in the nationals conversation, but they’re yet to reach a final round in their history. However, it looks like this may be their best chance to break though yet: the current team is defined by a combination of extremely believable witnessing–led by seniors Pablo Moraga and Gurbir Singh, both of whom were all-national at this year’s ORCS–and an engaging, emotive style of attorney-ing–encapsulated by junior Rebecca Steinberg, who’s been racking up awards at top tournaments all year–that seems to be playing especially well over Zoom. In addition, their other two attorneys (Kensington Cotter and Sophie Cloarec) were both All-National attorneys in 2020. With plenty of experience against top teams this year, and a remarkably talented roster, we’re looking forward to seeing if this is the year that UC Berkeley stakes out its claimat the top of the AMTA circuit.
- Duke A - When Duke won a national championship in 2012, the team was coached by Alex Bluebond. Bluebond later moved to Ohio State, where he coached Eric Roytman, who now coaches Duke. In a few years, we expect that Royman will coach at Ohio State, where he will coach someone who goes on to coach Duke, continuing the cycle. In fact, consistency has been the biggest theme for Duke A in recent years. The team can always be expected to perform well, and the fact that the team only graduated a few seniors last year makes the consistency even more … consistent. But for many programs, it would be a problem that the graduating seniors (Mehta, Lala, and Malhotra) were so good. If the team had been able to compete at a National Championship Tournament last year, they could have been the team to beat (Mehta went on to win Trial by Combat, and together with Lala won One Last Time). After graduating some truly incredible talent, especially on the attorney side, this year’s Duke team has been relying more heavily than ever on strong witness performances, although the attorney performances have been very solid as well. Watch out especially for the team’s 3 C’s: Chan, Chancellor, and Castleberry. Evan Chan has been delivering emotional performances as a freshman witness. AG Chancellor IV has been a strong attorney. Castleberry has been pulling double duty as both an expert witness and an attorney. All three awarded at ORCS, and are hoping to take their team to the top at the National Championship Tournament.
- Yale A - The year that Yale stops being unpredictable will be the year that mock trial stops happening. It seems to be a tradition now for Yale to not qualify out of Regionals but then sweep through ORCS with ease, and this year was no exception. But at the end of the day, Yale is one of the few programs in the country to have actually figured out how to win Nationals with the new case. Led by captains Montana Love and Kynzie Clark (both of whom have been awarding nonstop this season), this Yale team is young but talented as all heck. So essentially, we still feel confident that Yale will be in the running when we hit Round 4 of Nationals. The notable thing to pull from our rankings here is that Yale was the most divisive of the teams close to the top of our rankings - some of our members had them comfortably in the top three while others ranked them into the double digits. This division reflects the inherent divisiveness of what Yale does in the courtroom as well. And especially with the question of whether Yale will continue to do wild D theories after what happened in 2019, we are extremely excited to see what Yale does at NCT.
- Chicago A - Chicago A is coming into this year’s NCT in a very strong position. Having placed 3rd in Division at the 2019 NCT, Chicago A certainly knows how to make the National tournament work for them. There was some worry at the beginning of the season about how Chicago A would perform with the loss of their double closer and captain Regina Campbell, but Chicago is still able to return two of their 2019 NCT doubled competitors Sahil Nerurkar and Henry Hopcraft -- two very distinguished competitors in their own right. To help fill the hole left by Regina, they’ve also brought up closer and middler Anna Stoneman from their B team who has been able to rack up awards all year. We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention Davis Pessner who might as well be the most well-versed in the ROE in all of AMTA. And that brings us to what makes Chicago A so uniquely formidable, especially at the NCT. Chicago A is a very technically strong team and is consistently able to come up with objections that are sure to frazzle even the most experienced attorneys. Chicago A has also performed quite well this year, placing fourth in division at GCF and second at GAMTI. All that being said while Chicago certainly has some very strong attorneys, they lack in their witness abilities. Especially with the loss of Peter Bound, Chicago’s weak spot is in their witness lineup and for a team to end up in the NCT final round, they’ll need both strong witnesses and strong attorneys to get there. Nonetheless, we’re looking forward to seeing what Chicago is able to do at the NCT and we expect them to do quite well.
- UMBC A - UMBC comes into this NCT season as one of the teams with the most returning NCT experience in the entire country. More than half of their current A team comprised the team that competed at the 2019 NCT (and almost qualified for the final round) as well as the team that qualified for the 2020 NCT before the pandemic shut everything down. Their finishes this year don’t reflect quite as much of that experience as you might think (didn’t sweep any rounds at ORCS) but anyone thinking this team isn’t a threat just isn’t paying attention. To start, it’s impossible to tell UMBC’s story without looking at Sydney Gaskins. Last year’s TBC runner up, she has one AMTA tournament left to seal her legacy and we would not want to be in her way while she does. But because of the sheer star power of Gaskins, other players like Thomas Kiley and Natalie Murray don’t get as much attention as they should. This is a deep and experienced team who runs a very clean and precise style of mock trial. The reason we don’t have UMBC ranked in quite the top echelon yet is that they haven’t shown that they can beat the best of the best at Nationals yet–but we can guarantee that the UCLAs and Miamis of the world will not want any piece of UMBC.
- Ohio State A - Ohio State is certainly one of the kindest teams in AMTA right now and their SPAMTA honorable mention at ORCS was well-deserved. Their team embodies good sportsmanship and they have no shortage of talent either. Tamara Joseph has earned her spot as one of the best witnesses in the country with incredibly consistent quality performances throughout the invitational season. For attorneys, Clay Owens has certainly represented the team well and earned his place among the top competitors this year coming out of the fall invitational season and now with a certified all-national attorney award. Maddie Sisk also broke out as an all-national witness. It’s no mystery they got the second bid out of the 2D ORCS. We can be sure that they will continue to bring their clean style and fun witnesses into nationals.
- Florida A - It is to no one’s surprise that Florida came out of ORCS with an 11-1 record (second to Miami A) with three all-nation awardees -- they perform with a smooth and steady style that is likable and easy to follow. These clean performances score not just in courtrooms (as we have seen in the past), but if this Spring season is any evidence of what Florida can do, it is obvious that they will be a potential threat to some of the top teams at Nationals. We expect to see top-performing competitors Harrison Devoe, Lara Soysal, and Kaitlyn Salyer bring their team to new heights with Soysal’s brilliant accent, and Salyer’s and Devoe’s attorney chops. Against the top of the NCT bracket, however, Florida may have to look out. The team lacks the flashiness and energy that differentiates the best teams in the country from the rest of the top 30 or even 20. And though the middle-of-the-field should be a cake walk for this Florida team, they will have to bring out their best to push back against the UCLAs, Tufts, Yales of this tournament.
- Patrick Henry A - Patrick Henry is a team no one should underestimate heading into NCT. While they can sometimes be volatile, they’re certainly not one of the programs who’ve fallen off significantly in the last two years, and their top-ten TPR isn’t too far off the mark. They’re a deep program that fielded five teams at regionals this year and got two of those through to Nats. They retain one of the eight All-Americans left in AMTA (Benjamin Crosby), and they play a likeable, effective style that works on judges across different regions. But on the other hand, they haven’t had the same sort of dominant season that many of our higher-ranked teams have had. They were 8.5-3.5 at ORCS, 6-2 at regionals, and 4-4 at Beach Party. They also seem to have sent younger teams to at least some of their more competitive invitationals this year, making it hard to get a read on which results are actually reflective of their A team. So a lot depends on whether Patrick Henry’s results are trending upwards as the season progresses, or whether they’re going to be as unpredictable at Nationals as they have been in the past few months.
- Stanford A - This is the highest ranked of the programs on this list who earned their bid off their B team this year. This program does generally restack so we should expect to see the stand outs from their A team at nationals. Hopefully though this restack should help to shore up the weaknesses that kept them from qualifying for the second time in three years. Stanford is a team that has the potential to be great. Their coach, Thom Scher has had a lot of success at the top end of both the high school and college circuit. They have a star studded bench with top competitors Elizabeth Grant and Azam Janmohamed, and the potential to pull up another top competitor in Robert Castaneros. Their B team managed an impressive 9 wins at ORCS despite playing both Miami (and giving Miami their only ballot loss) and the Wesleyan team that got through. But there is also a lot of room for concern here. This team went 6-5-1 at ORCS after not managing a clean sweep in any of their rounds. The final nail in their coffin was their fourth round where they were swept by a Yale B that was otherwise 4-5. They also have a history of not doing great with these restacked teams at nationals. Last time it happened in 2019, they finished with a losing record.The question, then is whether they can pull together a restacked team that recreates the success of their 2018 3rd place finish.
- Fordham LC A - Last year at the Lancaster ORCS, Fordham LC A dropped 3 ballots (one each to Georgetown A, Georgetown B, and Hamilton B) and failed to earn a bid to the NCT. The result was a surprise. Fordham LC has long been a consistent presence in the Northeast, and after a fantastic invitational season and regionals performance in 2020, their Lancaster performance was out of character. And that’s exactly why they came back with a vengeance this year. Despite losing their head coach, Kavin Thadani, Fordham LC A went undefeated at UMass Amherst’s Commonwealth Classic, undefeated at Regionals, and dropped just one ballot at ORCS—to Tufts A, in a round 3 matchup where they tied the other two. The team has a wealth of attorney talent in Elizabeth Weinman, Travis Knoppert, dual-threat all-star Evan Donaldson, and Amelia Browne—a group of attorneys that has the skill and experience to go toe-to-toe with any other bench at the NCT. Now, the team does have weaknesses, to be sure. Their style is aggressive, objection-heavy, and can seem robotic at times. But if you’re looking at pairings, there are very few teams you’ll want to see less than Fordham LC A.
- UC Irvine A - There are many things we consider when looking at these rankings. We look at invite results, regionals and ORCS results, and who the teams took/lost ballots to and how they’ve performed at nationals previously. When we look at all of those numbers, UC Irvine is solid in every single one. Their invite season was solid, placing at multiple tournaments and holding their own at GCF with 3.5 wins. They won 6.5 ballots at regionals and 9 ballots at ORCS which are both about average for a nationals level team. What puts Irvine at number 16 above teams that frankly have had better results, is their success the last time they were at nationals. In 2018, they came into nationals with similar numbers (6 wins at regionals, 6 wins at ORCS) and they ended up second in their division, missing out on the final round by 1 OCS point! One of the differences between the regular season and nationals is that teams have to adapt to a new case. Some teams have proven they adapt better than other teams and UCI is one of those teams! This year, they’re led by TBC second chair and All National Attorney and Witness Joseph Colarian and this year they’re joined by former Gladiator and All National Attorney Josiah Jones. This is an extremely talented team that looks to repeat their success from 2018 and we’re excited to see if they can win that OCS tie breaker and represent the west coast in the final round.
- Cornell A - Cornell has had a very up and down last couple of years. Circa 2018 and 2019, the last time we had nationals, they were placing at the top of their division. In 2019 they took 3rd after close rounds with Yale and UCLA and sweeps of the rest of their competition. They were known for their aggressive and often creative styles. The style, at least, seems to have held over to this year. The big question mark comes in the form of their recovery from last year. Last season they were unable to compete at any tournaments or send a single team to regionals and they lost a lot of their experienced members as a result. There are a few holdovers from 2019, notably including All American Erik Szakiel, but the rest of their team is very young. They struggled through invites this season too without a lot of the impressive results we are used to seeing from Cornell. Impressively, however they managed to pull through ORCS with a 10.5 ballot record, the best of any week 2 team. That record may, however, be a bit misleading. Cornell played it’s A round against Indiana who are in the middle of some very down years, and they managed to drop 1.5 ballots in their C bracket round against Michigan State B. Young teams from Cornell have done very well at NCT before. The question is whether this will be another of them.
- Emory A - Emory is a team with a lot of strengths, but there are also a few big concerns. Let’s start with the strengths. This is a star-studded group. Emory has two of the most awarded competitors in double threat Riya Lakkaraju and attorney Sara DeLacey earning 8 and 6 awards respectively. In addition, Emory A features President and TBC alternate Catherine Cole as well as All-Regional witness Nick Furci. Results have also been impressive for Emory, winning Ramblin’ Wreck and a 7-1 regionals finish. The cause for concern in Emory A is ORCS. We’d never say a team lucked into their bid, but Emory’s results definitely had luck on their side. They won three ballots by just one point, tied another, and won other close ballots by two and three points. This is a nationals caliber team that not only deserves to be here, but can do very well, however it’s pretty noteworthy that if any of four judges dock them one point means Emory A isn’t at nationals. Even more concerning, is they lost their A bracket matchup to Penn State 2-1 and they tied their C bracket matchup vs. Fordham Rose Hill 1.5-1.5. Their sweeps came against Wash U and UCSB which is impressive, however on those six ballots, five of them were within three points. Overall, this could be a top 5 team competing for the final round but they also could falter and end up disappointed.
- Virginia B - UVa B checks in here as our highest ranked B team. TPR wise, we skipped a couple, but TPR doesn’t take into account that UVA B earned a Nationals bid out of the Cincinnati ORCS last year so they’re artificially lower than they should be in those rankings. UVa B isn’t always at Nationals, but when they are they do well. In 2016 they earned an Honorable Mention and in 2017 they earned 7th in their division. And this year’s team in particular has multiple distinctions to its name. It was a part of the UVa program that finished runner up at Beach Party, they went 7-1 at Florida’s swamp invitational (losing a -1 to the eventual champions William & Mary) and then cruised through Regionals at 7-1. But of course, the most notable accomplishment of this team was taking a ballot off of Rhodes A, the #1 ranked team in the country, during Round 4 of ORCS. Because, as anyone reading this already knows, that ballot was what propelled UVa B to Nationals and kept Rhodes out for the first time in who knows how long. This team has multiple people who have earned multiple awards this year, and if the Rhodes result means anything, it means that this team is both talented and hungry to punch above their weight. We could see some fireworks here.
- South Carolina A - South Carolina remains a program on the rise. After failing to advance to ORCS in 2018, the program’s performance took a sharp turn in 2019 under the coaching of Alabama alum Chance Sturup, securing a 10th place finish in their division at Nationals. South Carolina has made it very clear since then that they intend to remain a Nationals level player. While the 2020 AMTA season wasn’t able to reach its conclusion, this team still made a big splash at their regionals with a 7-1 record and two all-regional award winners. This year, those award winners are back and hunting for championships. Hannah Perala, South Carolina’s All-American, is still a witness to be feared on this team. Sophomore attorney Bee Brawley, who has racked up five awards at competitive tournaments over the past two years, remains a fierce competitor. And of course, the most recent All-Regional winners Ben Wallace and Maegan Carter are no one to sneeze at either. With impressive splits against UCLA B and William & Mary at ORCS, South Carolina’s appearance at Nationals this year will be a time to see if the star power they’ve been cultivating over the past two years sets them ahead of the middle of the pack.
- Florida State A - Florida State is having a really good year. They haven’t been to NCT in a while but from the beginning of the season it had been clear that they have been a force to be reckoned with on the circuit, and nobody who has been watching them was particularly surprised when they crushed their ORCS and got a bid to NCT with 10 wins. Three competitors from this roster have stood out in particular, and all of them are double threats: Madeleine Bodiford, Fernando Yzquierdo, and former Gladiator Champion and second highest ranked attorney at 2-D, Abby Branham. This team has been running creative content all year with smart demos and big witness personalities. Most notably, their hostile Lewis played by Madeleine Bodiford and directed by Fernando Yzquierdo drew a lot of attention on the ORCS live stream in a round where they took two ballots off their A bracket opponent, Ohio State (a team that routinely places top 10 at NCT). The worry with this team is simply their inexperience with the NCT format. This team tends towards the young side of things, and Florida State hasn’t made nationals since 2016 when everyone on this team would have been in high school. The question is whether they can pull out the kinds of performances we saw at ORCS on such short notice.
- UCLA B - UCLA B is one of just a couple of B teams we have come to expect to see at nationals, and with good reason. They’ve had an incredibly strong run so far. At regionals, they managed to get the very first bid out with 7.5 wins. They capped off their main season with a stellar 9.5 wins at ORCS 2B, dropping just two ballots between their A and B bracket rounds to South Carolina and Emory. On top of that, they have some standout performers in All-Region attorney Emily Spears, All-Region and All-National attorney Allyson Ping, and All-National witness Leone Brown. By all metrics, things are looking good for this team heading into NCT. But the challenge for them will be whether or not they will be too polarizing for their judges. UCLA B tends to run very risky and invention-heavy theories that could turn off a large number of judges. This seemed to be a problem for them at Regionals where nearly half their judges had UCLA winning ballots by just a couple points each. This could definitely be a problem for UCLA at NCT where rounds will be much more challenging. Overall, UCLA B certainly has the ability to do very well at Nationals, but an unlucky run, or some wild card judges could tip the scales for them in the wrong way much more easily for them than for other teams.
- Boston University A - Boston University comes into the 2021 nationals in an interesting spot. They came into the season as the 22nd ranked team and earned 10.5 wins at ORCS, an amount that only six teams were able to reach. So why are they all the way at 23? First, their regionals performance has room for concern. They earned 5.5 wins with a CS of 15.5 and their splits were to teams that we wouldn’t normally expect they split with (Florida E and Wilmington). Furthermore, they split their D backet round to UC Santa Cruz and that put them at the bottom of the A bracket. While they still had to play A-D bracket teams, their 20 CS meant that their competition was a little less challenging than other teams who earned a similar amount of wins. On the bright side, they have a lot of talent in all National attorney Kairav Maniar and all national witnesses Lizzie Eckert and Sam Macriss. In addition, their 7th place performance at the 2019 nationals proves they can adjust to the new case well. Overall, we wouldn’t be shocked if they place top 10, but we also wouldn’t be shocked if they fell a bit short.
- Harvard A - Gone are the days where Harvard was the best team in the nation. But after a disappointing 2019 season where they didn’t earn a bid to the NCT, this team is back on track. They earned a bid in 2020 at Lancaster, and after graduating OLT competitor Remy Hill, Harvard is led by sophomore double-threat competitors Stella Asmerom and former Gladiator competitor Travis Harper, who won a perfect 30-rank award at ORCS. This team is young—maybe the youngest at the NCT. But don’t mistake this group’s lack of experience for lack of talent. Harvard boasts two very talented openers in Jessica Alexander and Audrey Vanderslice, and they have the witnesses to go up against anybody. While they didn’t have a great invitational season, things are looking up for the Crimson, who went 9-3-0 at ORCS, dropping ballots only to Miami A. If their young core falters, Harvard may not have the nationals they’re hoping for. But this team has the talent to surprise.
- Georgetown A - Georgetown has now earned bids to three straight NCTs since being kept out in Round 4 of 2018 by a lopsided split with Rice. They are led by their president, senior Austin Upshaw, who took home an outstanding attorney award at 2-A with 27 ranks, though they are graduating 20-rank ORCS Witness Sierra Townsend and All-American Brendan Ferguson who formed half of the Georgetown squad at OLT. While they nabbed the last bid from 2-A, their performance was far from dominant. After a strange round 2 1-2 split (+19 -1 -2) against Saint Louis, they faced a cushy Round 3 matchup with the lowest TPR A squad in Furman. However, they dropped two out of three ballots this round as well, which in turn landed them a final round date with the lowest TPR B bracket team, Penn State B, which they swept in convincing fashion. Given the programmatic changeover, it’s difficult to know what to expect. At their most competitive invitational this year, Yale, they finished 3-4-1, though that was back all the way in mid-November. It remains to be seen if their senior captain and young core, including outstanding ORCS witness Arjun Ravi, can pull together the necessary strength to break out of the middle pocket of their division.
- UC San Diego A - UCSD is in an interesting position. Their B team seemed to indicate that this program has serious depth after putting up a dominant performance at Regionals--including a clean sweep of Wesleyan A--but then struggled at ORCS, finishing with just 2.5 ballots. Meanwhile, their A team narrowly made it through after a big loss to Duke B in Round 4 of ORCS. Still, UCSD has been a rising power on the circuit for a while--they put up two strong showings at each of the two most recent NCTs. And we’ve seen all year that the West Coast style plays very well over Zoom after UCLA and Cal spent the winter dominating invitationals. We’re excited to see how this team does--with strong competitors like Ashley Feng on the team, it could easily be their breakout year.
- Northwood A - This is a team with so much potential, and for whatever reason it doesn’t always translate. Starting with regionals, they had one of the most unfortunate runs of any team. They had three rounds where they won by double digits on one ballot and then barely lost on another ballot, going +25/-6, +19/-3, +12,-1 and we have to be asking ourselves, how does one judge think Northwood won by double digits and one judge has them losing by single digits three times. While the polarity wasn’t quite as much at ORCS, it was definitely still there, splitting two of their four rounds to Dickinson and Macalester, this time by much closer margins. The question we have is whether this is because of polarizing style or bad judges. Our guess is a combination. Northwood witnesses have big personalities and while that plays well to some judges, it might not to other judges. One witness that clearly plays well more often than not is Simeon Lawrence who’s racked up 10 witness awards this season, which is the most of any AMTA competitor this year. Northwood has a lot of potential to do some amazing things at nationals this year, but it really comes down to whether judges like their style and for that, they fall in the middle of our rankings.
- Chicago B - Chicago had a phenomenal performance in the 2A ORCS, going earning 10 ballots, and even taking one ballot off our 7th ranked team, Duke A. We have no doubt that this team is poised to take some clean sweeps at this tournament just like they did in their first three rounds at ORCS. The trouble this team faces, like many B teams, is that they don’t necessarily have the star power to match up to the very best. We can see this in their results at GCF where their only sweep was against the Michigan team that eventually failed to get a bid at ORCS, and where they were swept badly by both Tufts and Yale. This suggests that this team is going to be a very solid B that might have a chance to break into the Honorable mention or placement range if they get a lucky first round draw, but also a team that may be limited because they don’t have chicago’s top personnel. One person however who has been a consistent stand out on this team is double threat Ethan Hsi. He has been on our Top competitor list for two years in a row now, and recently was the top ranked attorney at the difficult ORCS 2-A.
- Wesleyan A - A lot will depend on who is on the roster: Wesleyan A narrowly failed to qualify for the second time in the past four years, but their B team came through to send the program to NCT. After a dominant fall season with wins at several fall invitationals including Yale and a second place finish at GCF, some cracks in the Cardinals’ armor started to show with poor results at Hilltop and Atypical as well as a close drop by their A team to UCSD B at Regionals. But don’t be fooled by their A team’s lack of a bid, as they only narrowly missed out on NCT: ther had two -1 drops, a win on either of which would have earned them a trip to NCT. And their B team’s success means that the program has depth. We will look to see how their restack shakes out, or if they will just send their B team. And watch for pre-regionals top performer Ryan Jokelson, all-nation witnesses Betsy Froiland and Elodie Frey, along with all-nation attorney Kathryn Campbell to prove that ORCS was a fluke and that this program belongs on the NCT podium.
- Penn State A - Penn State has earned a bid to the NCT for its third year in a row, and their most recent qualifying performance, at last year’s Cincinnati ORCS was nothing short of stunning. Coming into round 3 at 4-0, PSU A split first with a stacked OSU team featuring Maddie Driscoll and Matthew Besman, and then split with the perennially powerful UVA B. This year, Penn State has hardly lost a step, even with the loss of Outstanding ORCS Pair Erin Doolin (witness) and Caitlin Conway (attorney) from last year, and less recently, TBC competitor Sangeetha Kannan who earned an All-American at the 2019 NCT. They came out guns blazing at 2-C, tying Chicago for the tournament high with 10 ballots and posting a convincing PD of +71. They won the ballot battle in every single round, and in fact the A team’s most recent lost round was a round 2 Regionals sweep at the hands of UCLA *checks notes*... E. Despite that minor blemish, Penn State comes into the NCT in strong position, led by expert-savvy opener and president Dan Cohen, and with a witness corps that features a well-awarded character specialist in Jack Gaul. While they are on the lower-half of our rankings, they are a well put together team with programmatic experience, and their upside is serious.
- UC Santa Barbara A - UCSB returns to nationals after a roller coaster of results the past few seasons. They last appeared at nationals in 2018, attending for the first time in their program’s history. Then after earning 6 wins at ORCS in 2019, they missed out on nationals by 0.5 CS and missed the open bid by TPR alone. Last year, they were able to take ballots off UCLA A at regionals, almost costing UCLA a bid, but then struggled at ORCS. This year, they came back looking to prove why they belonged at Nationals once again and they certainly did that! Going 8 wins at both regionals and ORCS, taking ballots from teams like Ohio State A proved they can compete with the top programs. In addition, this team has earned plenty of individual awards with All National awards for Madison Thomas and Eli Tannenwald and multiple awards for members like Alexandra Pigeon and Madelyn Whalen. Our main concerns are that their 8 wins at ORCS is on the lower side and their 2018 performance of 4.5 wins has us concerned they might not adapt to the new case as well as others.
- Minnesota A - After the loss of TBC competitor and All-American Bri Goodchild (and her first chair Keane Nowlan), this Minnesota team proved it is not to be underestimated. The team features a strong bench, including Regionals and Ramblin’ Wreck awarder Abel Belay and captain Noah Thompson, and a balanced witness corps that includes heir to the Nowlan throne Kendall. Their sole loss at ORCS was a predictable clean sweep dealt by the juggernaut that is UCLA, but they only dropped one ballot outside of that. The firepower of Minnesota was pretty well encapsulated by their 5-3 performance at Ramblin’ Wreck. There they came into round 4 in strong position at 5-1 after a tight sweep over a wily Georgia B, but then hit a wall against Ohio State. They won’t beat themselves or get thrown off by gimmicks, but that consistency parlays into a lower chance that they will steal a round off of high-ranked teams due to flash or unpredictability.
- Michigan A - While 33 initially feels awfully low for a perennial powerhouse program in the top 25 TPR, there are a few significant reasons for concern with this team. For the past three years straight, Michigan A has not qualified for Nationals, finishing 5-3 at ORCS in both 2019 and 2020, and 8-4 this year. However, in both 2020 and 2021, their B team has qualified in their place (notably, with an identical 8-4 record this season). And as Michigan is a program that sends the team that earned the bid, the Michigan we’ll be seeing at Nationals will likely be Michigan B. Although we didn’t get a chance to see how the B team would have fared last year, they’ll certainly have a lot to prove as Michigan’s first NCT competitors since 2018. That said, we don’t want to count this Michigan team out yet. They’re a historically deep program with a talented roster, including Emily Kopp who awarded at ORCS as a middle attorney. They took the first bid out of their regionals at 8-0, and beat fellow-NCT-qualifying Patrick Henry A in their fourth round 2-1 to secure their bid out of ORCS. We’re excited to see if they can throw a wrench in the plans of a higher-ranked team at NCT.
- Duke B - Duke is sending their B team to nationals for the first time since 2017. This B team has about as good of a coaching staff as any team could ask for, including TBC champion Sonali Mehta and Former OSU All-American witness Julia Cash. Under their leadership, Duke B has flown under-the-radar with some impressive results this season, including a first place finish at Atypical and a second place divisional finish at Classic City. And of course, Duke B impressively put up 10 wins at ORCs. That said, we doubt this team has the experience needed to succeed at nationals. The team is comprised almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores. The quick turnaround with a new case may prove too much. What is more, Duke has rarely shown the program depth required for a B team to excel at NCT. 2017 is the only other year Duke B qualified for nationals in the past, and they managed only 5.5 wins. We’ll see whether this year proves to be a breakthrough, but we expect the lack of experience to be a real challenge.
- UC Davis A - This might have been one of the hardest teams to rank because there’s so much going for UC Davis, and there’s also so much concern. Let’s start with the positive, they have some amazing talent on their team. They had 3 All-Regional attorneys in Tarakdeep Singh, Jezel Mercado and Jafar Khalfani-Bey and then Jafar followed that up with an All National attorney award a few weeks later. Their team record has also been quite impressive. Starting the winter with a 4-2-2 performance at Beach Party, 6.5 wins at regionals, and 9 wins at ORCS. With this being their third time earning a bid to nationals in the past four years, UC Davis by the numbers should be a lot higher than 35/42. But there’s a reason they’re this low. Their CS’s have been incredibly low with 12.5 at regionals and 16 at ORCS. 16 was the lowest ORCS CS of any team that competed, the equivalent of 10.67 on a two ballot system. Their A bracket match was against Rochester who we’re sure even they would admit didn’t belong in the A bracket this year and in their 8 rounds at regionals and ORCS combined, they played only one team that earned more wins than losses (Michigan State B at regionals who ended 6-2). All this is to say, we haven’t really seen them compete with top teams this year, so we have no idea what to expect. Furthermore, they haven’t shown success with competing at nationals in the past, going 5-11 last time they were there in 2019 and 2-7-3 in 2017. UC Davis could absolutely show up and prove why their low CS’s were just flukes, but there have been no indicators so far to prove that they will.
- Florida B - Under the direction of head coach Laura Sjoberg, Florida has developed a level of programmatic depth that is rivaled only by the likes of UCLA, Patrick Henry, and Rhodes. This year, all 5 Florida teams nabbed an earned bid to ORCS, and while we have come to expect a dump truck of open bids to arrive from Florida after Regionals, twin appearances at the NCT have been far harder to come by, with the most recent year being 2014. If awards are any indication, this Florida B team is rather young, with sophomore attorney pair Nathan Heastie and David Egloff taking home outstanding attorney trophies at Regionals and ORCS respectively. And while Florida A steamrolled their way to an 11-1 finish at 1-B with a triple digit PD, Florida B’s path was slightly rockier. After a 5-1 start, UF B dropped two of three to a surprisingly potent Duke B team which slides in two spots above in our power rankings. Then they snagged two out of three against NYU A, with a strange split of +1 +6 -23. Florida is known for polish and balance, and while they are often known to indulge in demonstratives that graze the rules regarding invention of fact, their theories tend to be fairly straightforward. Given that Florida A hasn’t yet shown an ability to break through to the higher echelons of the NCT, we expect that this year will be more about experience and development for a young Florida B squad than punching above their weight class for a chance at the final round.
- William & Mary A - William and Mary is a team that’s been underrated by TPR all year. This is a program that’s now qualified for Nationals in 3 out of the last 4 years. We saw this disparity in their results this season: a win over a competitive field at the Swamp Invitational, a high finish at the always-strong Hilltop, and 9-3 at ORCS. This team has taken ballots from many in the field: South Carolina, Florida State, Minnesota, George Washington, Chicago B, Emory B, and Virginia B. They’re led by standout attorneys Gabby DeBelen and Lauren Forscythe, along with the entertainingly stressful witness, Sam Edwards. We watched their YouTube spotlight round very carefully, and we think this is a team that based on talent should at least keep pace in a Nationals field. So what’s our hesitation here? Well it’s been three seasons since William and Mary actually competed at Nationals. We know there’s been coaching turnover, along with inevitably large competitor turnover, since that last run. History tells us that a team’s first attempt at Nationals, more often than not, can be tough sledding.
- George Washington A - GW comes into Nationals as one of two teams who earned bids off 7.5 wins. Now 7.5 wins at ORCS is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but the fact is that 14 teams had better records than them that missed out on a bid. So the question becomes, can GW prove that the low record was a fluke? Or will it be an indicator of their nationals performance? The low record is why they’re low, but their success both this season and last are why they aren’t at the very bottom. To start, they were the only team to take a ballot off UCLA A at either regionals or ORCS and that is impressive in itself. In addition, last year they almost earned a bid as well, earning 6 wins at Lancaster and were primed to earn the sole open bid. In addition, they have numerous high awarding members including All National Attorney Molly Giguiere, All National Witnesses Rahul Kothari and Vivian Kong, and Ananya Murthy who is not only their president but has won numerous awards this year.
- Iowa A - After a sparse invitational season that was marked by underachievement, Iowa A proved last year’s ORCS performance was no fluke. At 2-C, Iowa A got off to a strong start with 5.5 ballots through their C & D rounds, before a true three ballot split (1-1-1) against Cornell College and then sneaking a ballot off UChicago A which allowed them to win the CS battle with a sky-high 27.5 and get the only bid available to the four 8-ballot finishers. Their most prominent competitor this cycle is second-year witness Hannah Johnson, who awarded at both Regionals and ORCS. While the team has shown remarkable consistency under Head Coach Shane McChurch, with 4 total NCT bids in the last 4 years, high performance at the NCT cannot yet be said to be expected. With last year’s cancellation, their most recent NCT result was 4 ballots (adjusted 2.67) in 2018, and this year they finished in the lower half of the bid-earners at both Regionals and ORCS. That being said, nothing has yet been shown to be sure regarding the ceiling of Iowa A’s performance, and with performances like the tight split with Patrick Henry A at regionals, they cannot be counted out.
- Maryland A - There is a reason we once tried to make the “Maryland” rule. Maryland was the dominant force in Mock Trial a few decades ago–they were behind the legendary final round in 1992 involving Maryland A vs. Maryland B. This year’s team has shown signs that they may be getting back on track. They had a shockingly strong performance out of both Regionals and ORCS. At ORCS they managed to go 2-1 against a very solid Washington and Lee and then swept Columbia. Earlier, at regionals they went 8-0 and swept Furman B, Chicago C, Cincinnati C. These two results seem very encouraging for this team and are hopefully indicative of their newfound strength. The team has seemed quite balanced so far, they didn’t manage any awards at ORCS, but they had two witnesses and one attorney award at Regionals: Elanna Crook (attorney), Stephen DeCoste (witness), Abdullah Khan (witness). Without any true star power or experience, we expect that they may soon reach a hard ceiling this year, but we expect that with coach Zac Mundy at the helm, this team is trending up and will continue in that direction.
- Patrick Henry B - Given Patrick Henry’s historic program depth, it may come as a bit surprising that this is the first time in recent memory that they’ve sent two teams to the NCT. Even more surprising, though, is that this Patrick Henry B team may be more of their actual C team than their B team: after their B team went 5-3 at regionals–dropping both to American C and splitting with Maryland D–it was their C team’s 8-0 finish at regionals that secured the program a 2nd ORCS bid. While we’re not sure exactly what the composition of this Patrick Henry B side will be at Nats, a number of their C team’s competitors who awarded at regionals (including attorney duo Cana Cossin and Isaac Bock) featured on the B team that PHC fielded at ORCS. At ORCS, the team had a bit of a bumpy road to their bid, dropping one ballot to both Baylor and Carelton as well as two to Yale before finally securing a much needed sweep against their round 4 D-group opponent, Lehigh. While this team is unlikely to challenge for a spot in the final round this year, they do have some impressive results taking multiple ballots off of strong programs at both regionals and ORCS that will make them a side no one will want to face at NCT.
- Wheaton A - After the departure of All-American TBC phenom Mary Preston-Austin in 2019, Wheaton was unable to earn a (phantom) NCT bid at last year’s Cedar Rapids ORCS, but this year they’ve proved that they’re not going anywhere. Led by captain Claire Bullington, who awarded as both a witness and an attorney at Regionals, Wheaton advanced with a 9-3 performance in which the only ballots lost were in a 3-ballot sweep at the hands of a GWU team that lost out on a bid due to tiebreakers. They clinched their bid with a convincing sweep over a Hamilton team that came into round 4 poised for a bid at 7-2. While Wheaton has defied expectations up to this point, the NCT poses a fresh challenge. Even in the heyday of the Preston-Austin era, Wheaton maxed out with a 5.5/12 ballot performance at the 2018 NCT, so there appears to be a ceiling.
- Fordham B - Fordham LC A has long hovered around the NCT bubble, qualifying every other year for the past four. This year though, something special must’ve been flowing in the Lincoln Center coffee. Not only did Fordham LC A tie Virginia A for the highest Regionals point differential of any individual team at +147, but for the first time ever they advanced both of the two teams they fielded to the NCT. LC B didn’t skate through ORCS on tiebreaks either–they finished with 9.5 ballots and PD of +77, though with a relatively low CS of 20.5. They are led notably by standout Freshman witness Jessica Ball and Junior attorney Amanda Tyson, who both finished with the most ranks in their respective categories at 2-B’s ORCS, the latter of which has now earned an ORCS award two years running. This result was no fluke. While they snuck out of Regionals with a 5-3 record that was partially due to a sweep at the hands of a potent UCSB team which has caught many by surprise, they swept on their way to first place at the Commonwealth Classic, dispatching their Rose Hill roommates in the process. While the novelty of this appearance leaves much room for doubt, this team is well built, features an experienced and dynamic attorney in Tyson, and could make some serious noise at the NCT.
- Lafayette A - Lafayette burst onto the scene in 2018, jumping from a dismal 0-8 Regionals record in 2017 to not just qualifying for the NCT, but taking down both Northwood and Patrick Henry before falling in round 4 to eventual champion Miami. As they had been led by a strong pair of presidents Jessica Ackendorf in 2018-2019 and then Tedi Beemer who graduated last year, this year seemed poised for potential regression. However, Lafayette showed up strong at ORCS, earning their NCT bid at 1-D by knocking out two strong teams in Georgia Tech A and Texas A in the final two rounds. Lafayette is led by two senior attorney captains Carly Jones (who took home 20 ranks at Regionals) and Will Bennett. They also notably retain their sole All-American from the 2018 run, Molly Fawcett, whose phenomenal character witness performance earned an award at this year’s ORCS. Realistically, Lafayette has a ceiling, as evidenced by the recent sweeps they’ve suffered against Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, and they’ll be hard-pressed to match the remarkable success they achieved in 2018. Still, they’ve got serious upside and upset potential as an experienced team with a scrappy streak.
- Case Western A - Case Western had to dig deep to get out of the D group at ORCS. Though the team had a relatively easy schedule, hitting a fading Rochester A team and Muhlenberg College, which earned a 3-9-0 record at ORCS, the team’s success at 1-A is no less impressive given the failure of Rhodes to break out of the region. Going into nationals, we’re excited to see what the newly awarded Prateek Dullur will bring to the competition. We’re also interested in seeing how character witness Nick Micic will perform -- as an all-region and two-time all-ORCS, is this perhaps the year Micic will claim an All-American? Only time will tell. With an easier schedule (in the easier Division 2), Case Western may surprise us.
- Emory B - This is Emory B’s second year in a row earning a bid to Nationals, and they’re one of just eight B teams at Nationals this year. This team is definitely on the younger side, with their roster being filled almost entirely with freshmen and sophomores. But they definitely shouldn’t be underestimated. They have a number of standout performers, including All-Regional witness Sean Anderson, All-National captains Max Friedman and Danielle Jacoby, who has awarded at nearly every tournament she’s been at this year. The big challenge for this team is going to be adjusting to the large jump in difficulty from ORCS to NCT. At ORCS 2B, Emory B managed to grab the last bid out with 8 wins and a CS of 26. Their most difficult round was against UCLA B, where they dropped two tight ballots. They’ll be facing many tough rounds like that one at NCT, but we’re excited to see how they take on that challenge.
- Penn A - UPenn is notorious for being one of the only teams in AMTA history to ever turn down a bid to Nationals, but they have accepted this year’s bid and they certainly have a lot to prove. The B team technically picked up this bid, and as a student-run program it is unclear whether this will be deemed a program bid or a team bid, our best intel says that this will be some amalgamation of both teams. Both Penn A and B had flashes of strength at ORCS but what they have always seemed to lack is consistency. Their A team this year was led by Junior Gabby Cabeza as well as Senior Alec Evans. We are still unsure whether these two will be participating on the Nationals team. One person we hope this team will have is rising star Katie Volpert. In her first year Volpert has managed to receive attorney awards at ORCS (29 ranks), Regionals (20 ranks), and Rutgers tournament (18 ranks). Between Volpert as well as Cabeza (who also won awards at Regionals and ORCS) this team has some young star power and is looking primed to make some upsets happen and prove that UPenn is ready to be taken seriously again.
- Portland A - This position can be more of a blessing than a curse. Our last two teams in this spot both placed in the top ten of their divisions. Representing the too-often overlooked Pacific Northwest region of mock programs, Portland is having by far it’s strongest season to date. The group is led by Senior and President Megan Musquiz, a compelling attorney who finished with perfect ranks at the Commonwealth Classic, and added an All-Regional award to her collection this year. She’s joined by experienced Senior witnesses Kira Vollans and Ryan Thoms. So far they’ve won ballots over plenty of programs that had strong orcs showings: Georgia Tech A, Vanderbilt A, MIT A, and South Carolina B. But they haven’t actually faced any NCT team this year. Portland has regularly been an average to below average ORCS team; this is their first year on the big stage. We think Portland deserves to be in this field, but preparing a Nationals case for the very first time, while also facing the most challenging teams of the season for the first time, is quite a tall order.
MockOG likes this post
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:59 am
Awesome job guys, thanks for giving us your thoughts!
From the rounds I've seen this year, I think UCLA is definitely a top three team.
I get your point about Northwestern and the new case system, but they were easily the best team I saw during the Petrillo case. Well rounded, sharp, nothing crazy but everything executes well.
From the rounds I've seen this year, I think UCLA is definitely a top three team.
I get your point about Northwestern and the new case system, but they were easily the best team I saw during the Petrillo case. Well rounded, sharp, nothing crazy but everything executes well.
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