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2022 ORCS Analysis Empty 2022 ORCS Analysis

Thu Mar 10, 2022 3:24 pm
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Please share your own thoughts below. This is intended to start a discussion, if you have seen a team and you think we are over or under valuing them let us know! Good luck with ORCS! If you aren't on here, then prove us wrong! If you made our list, then prove us right! - MockAnalysisIsMyDrug


By The Numbers:
We begin by breaking down these fields by a couple of statistical categories. As usual we have given you the average TPR points and the average rank of the teams in each ORCS. This should give a sense of what the average difficulty of any round might be. We have also taken a look at the top 6 teams in each ORCS to see what the difficulty of the top rounds will look like and how much strength will have to be displaced in order for teams to get bids. In addition, we have looked at the average ballots each team won at Regionals this year.

2022 ORCS Analysis Screen18

We want to start by saying that no ORCS is easy. ORCS are hard. Everyone who gets a bid should be immensely proud of that bid—wherever it comes from. All of what we are about to say has to do with the relative strength of each ORCS.

One thing to think about at ORCS is also that you will only have to play one team in each grouping. So a super hard top of the field is frightening because it means you will almost certainly have to play one really hard round where you could drop both ballots. But unlike in the Regionals system, you don’t have to play everyone in that top sector. An ORCS that has power more spread out might give more of a chance to slip through on an easy schedule, but it also runs more of a risk of having to play multiple killer teams at the same tournament (one in each bracket).

We have perfect examples of what we just mentioned in Atlanta and DeKalb. Atlanta’s entire A bracket is in the top 25. But their C and D brackets are much less frightening than those brackets at other ORCS. This means several things. First, teams that want to break are going to have their work cut out for them in their A bracket round, but may get a reprieve in other rounds. That in turn may result in some stressful clustering around the bid cutoff. We expect to see a lot of teams from the A and B bracket rack up near perfect results on their first day. But we expect the second day to be a bloodbath of splits. The result is likely to be even more of a pile up around 6 ballots than we would otherwise see and means that, statistically, this ORCS is more likely than others to have a 6 win team not advance. Second, because the first day may result in a ton of A and B bracket teams with perfect records, which A teams hit each other in round three is likely to be more random than usual.

On the flip side, we have DeKalb, which has a relatively easy A and B bracket, but the hardest C and D brackets of any region. Teams at DeKalb shouldn’t expect an easy round no matter which bracket they’re in. This means we are likely to see much more stratification early as B bracket and even A bracket teams get unseated by lower-ranked powers. This, in its own way, is quite dangerous, because those teams will still have their hardest rounds to go and, therefore, will still have the potential to lose again. On the other hand, it means that by the time the A and B brackets match up, there is likely to be some differentiation between the top high bracket teams and the bottom high bracket teams meaning that it is more likely that we will see a true top matchup between the two best teams at this ORCS in round 3.

Another interesting danger factor to consider in looking at ORCS are what we call drop off brackets. These brackets are clusters of six teams with the most equivalent power rankings, but sometimes there is a big drop off in power in the middle of a bracket. For example, consider the difference between the top of the Cedar Rapids B bracket and the bottom versus the same difference at DeKalb. At Cedar Rapids, it's a 33 point difference. At DeKalb, it’s almost twice as large a gap at 63. This is going to produce very different feels. At Cedar Rapids, at least by the numbers, everyone has a fairly even B bracket schedule. At DeKalb, there is the potential to get very lucky and hit an easier team while other people in your group get a much harder match up (thereby winning by comparison), but there is also the potential to get very unlucky and end up with the hard end of that split.

One final thing to keep an eye on is teams that have been wildly over performing their TPR. These teams will be in lower brackets, but they could be very dangerous for the single team in each upper bracket who has to hit them. This is particularly true if they are in the C or D brackets since the A and B brackets will be paired against those teams fully randomly. Last year for instance, because of the outdated TPR, Case Western A was rated significantly lower than they should have been, and they spent their first day making A and B bracket teams very unhappy. This year, TPR is less of a mess, but there are still some teams that could pose similar over performance dangers. We have our eyes on both American A and MIT A for this, so teams at their ORCS should watch out.


Week 1:

Atlanta: “Still better than a flight connecting through Atlanta” (MAIMD Ranking 2/8 )
- 6 teams in top 25, 7 team in top 50, 12 teams in top 100

First in:
Patrick Henry A
Florida A
Emory A

Bubble:
Florida B
Patrick Henry B
South Carolina A
Georgia Tech A
Emory B
UT Chattanooga A
South Carolina B

Initial Thoughts:
The Atlanta ORCS will live and die by it’s A bracket. There are many metrics to see how challenging a tournament is, but no matter what metric you use, one thing is certain: in order to earn a bid, you have to place in the top 6. The bracket system is designed to look at the 6 most likely teams and say “here’s who you have to beat to get to nationals.” Most often, a majority of A bracket teams advance. Atlanta this year has put that formula on steroids. The A bracket consists only of teams in the top 25, and five of the six placed at last year’s Nationals (four in the top 5). That’s just rough. Looking back over several years, this is the most loaded top 6 we can find. So who’s in this A bracket? We start with two of the most successful programs in AMTA, Patrick Henry and Florida. Look for Florida to flash with demos, and Patrick Henry with theory. Patrick Henry is led by perhaps the best attorney duo in AMTA: All-Americans David Bainbridge and Benjamin Crosby. The Litigators have a duo of All-American witnesses in their own right, Sahas Chintakayala and David Egloff, along with standout attorney Brandon McKay. Both Florida and Patrick Henry are sending B teams and both will be in the A bracket after placing at Nationals in 2021. These aren’t your ordinary B teams. Florida B was near the top of their division at Nationals, facing Emory A on the morning of day 3 with a potential final round berth on the line. If you’re looking for solace, perhaps Patrick Henry B won’t be the same team that was in the top Round 4 matchup of Nationals last year. Patrick Henry’s B team surprisingly failed to get out of Regionals. We expect the team in Atlanta to be the one recently competing as Patrick Henry C. Although we would caution competitors not to count on a dropoff in quality as last year that exact same thing happened and Patrick Henry C still placed at nationals. Not to be forgotten as perhaps the front-runner in Atlanta is Emory A, with their own All-American trio in Danielle Jacoby, Carson Sanford, and the seemingly-everywhere Riya Lakkaraju. And rounding out our A bracket is South Carolina A, the lowest ranked of the A bracket, which wouldn’t be the case in any other A bracket. South Carolina has made the last two Nationals, and is looking to three-peat behind Ben Wallace, the most decorated competitor coming out of invitational season, and Hannah Perala, a 2019 All-American witness with double-digit awards.

Atlanta is defined by it’s A bracket, but you can’t overlook the teams lurking below. Particularly another nationals returner in Emory B, who earned bids in 2019 and 2021, and is looking to make it three in a row. In fact, you can’t overlook the B team of any large Southern program; including an unusually veteran Georgia Tech B, and South Carolina B, the latter of which finds itself in the C bracket, much to the displeasure of the top teams in Atlanta. Other dark horses to slip past the top 6 are UT Chattanooga A, Furman A, and Vanderbilt A; three programs with Nationals history. And Arkansas A is there as well, a program with all signs pointing up. The last noteworthy point is the steep cutoff in the C bracket. The top 3 C bracket teams rank 101, 121 and 139; but after that, it’s a steep drop to 210. The apparent soft under-belly of the Atlanta field likely means we’ll see a lot of 4-0 teams after day 1, making a scary day 2 for the A and B brackets.

Team to Watch: Georgia Tech A
The potential of Georgia Tech A is the landmine in the B Bracket that every team in Atlanta will want to avoid. We know what Georgia Tech can be at their best. Will Warihay, former AMTA President, joined long time coach Andy McNeil in 2015, and Georgia Tech quickly rattled off four straight NCT appearances, coming just points away from the final round. Last year, however, they fell short. And while for a few programs that might be a blip on the radar (we’re looking at you, 2020 UVA), for Georgia Tech it raises an interesting question. Was that A team run of success in the late 2010s, which hadn’t been seen off I-85 in nearly a decade, due to a programmatic step-up, or the arrival of once-in-a-decade competitors? Competitors like Sarah Stebbins, Harsha Sridhar, and Megan Miller; who combined for six All-American awards and a decade-plus on the A team together. We’re now two years removed from that decorated core of members, and we think we’re about to get our answer. The new-look Georgia Tech is led by senior GTMT President Celine Guenther, and backed by talented juniors like Sanjeev Viswan and Naman Sarda. Viswan, a transfer from Northern Illinois University, has NCT experience, and his quirky but likable style has won him multiple awards as both an attorney and a witness. This team has been together in one form or another for the entire season. They’ve had some promising results, beating UNC A and UMBC B at Regionals, and most notably sweeping South Carolina A, in person, this January. It’s a dangerous group, but are they as dangerous as the Georgia Tech teams of recent memory? We’re just days away from finding out.


Los Angeles: “The CalZone” (MAIMD Ranking 4/8 )
- 2 teams in top 25, 5 team in top 50, 11 teams in top 100

First in:
UCLA A
Stanford A

Bubble:
UC Davis A
UC Irvine A
UCLA B
UC Santa Barbara A
Arizona State A
Cal Poly, SLO A
UC Santa Cruz A
Arizona A

Initial Thoughts:
If there’s any ORCS that will produce some funky results, it’s bound to be this one. On paper, Los Angeles is brutal as always. Six teams have earned NCT bids in at least two of the past three years, which makes breaking into that top six extremely difficult. But what makes this ORCS trickier than usual is that the West Coast has been primarily online all year. Both Arizona teams and Berkeley hosted in-person invites in the fall, but other than those three (and an infamous Las Vegas tournament this January), West Coast tournaments have been held almost exclusively online. Of these top programs, there are some that have traveled across the country to compete in-person, and some that haven’t competed in-person once this year. At Regionals, we saw the impact of this just a little bit, where UC Irvine A failed to bid and UCLA only managed to get two bids (as opposed to their usual 3-5 bids) and those are both programs that have traveled a good amount this year. Meanwhile, online-only teams like UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz all dominated their Regionals. This could create some unexpected results if the pendulum swings the other way in LA. Another question for the Los Angeles ORCS is: who’s actually going? UC Irvine A failed to bid while their B and C earned bids. Similarly, ASU got their bids from their A and D team and UC Davis got their bids from their A and C teams. The difference between Irvine A vs. Irvine B in the A bracket or ASU B vs. ASU D in the B bracket could make a huge difference for teams looking to displace the consistent Nationals attendees. One thing is for certain: everyone will be hoping to miss the Bruins in the A Bracket. This UCLA squad is led by three versatile competitors in Camille Schaefer, Riley Shapiro, and Natalie Penn, and they’ll be looking towards another run at a championship. The one group we know has the firepower to match UCLA is Stanford. Stanford has an All-American pairing of attorneys in Azam Janmohamed and TBC competitor Elizabeth Grant, along with highly awarded senior witness standout Audrey Mitchell. Stanford may actually outshine UCLA at their best, but they’ll be searching for what UCLA has bested them on in the past: consistency.

Other teams to look out for include Santa Barbara A, led by dual threat Eli Tannenwald and sophomore All-American witness Aleyna Young. They’ve followed up a breakthrough Nationals appearance with consistently strong invitational results. Those results also show a B team going stride for stride with their A, which aligns with what we saw last year, when UCSB B finished just a few points away from a virtual Nationals trip itself. UC Davis A is the other clear threat in the LA Bubble. UC Davis pushed their way into Nationals last year, and their A team has had a dominant Spring season so far behind Chloe Porath and Tarakdeep Singh. As far as dark horses go, look out for Arizona A. Celyn Jacobs is a persuasive attorney for the Wildcats, who’ve received a coaching boost from veterans of Arizona’s not-too-distant string of Nationals appearances. We also like Cal Poly SLO A. While their 5-3 finishes at UCLAssic and AtypiCAL have been solid, their undefeated Regionals record is a historically important marker of potential ORCS success. The bottom line is: LA has danger at the top, and mystery in the middle. We’re excited to see what happens when the elite of the West Coast finally face each other again, in person again for the first time in two years.

Team to Watch: UC Santa Cruz A
Most years, the lone West Coast ORCS results show us there’s nothing new under the sun. The fact that there’s typically only one ORCS on the West Coast—a part of the country with seven or eight nationals-caliber teams—means we don’t tend to see a ton of surprises. But this year, we think there’s a real chance for some new faces to enter the ‘best of the west,’ and if we were betting we’d like our odds with the Banana Slugs of University of California, Santa Cruz. Aside from having objectively the best college mascot we’ve ever gotten to mention, UCSC has been on a slow but reliable rise the past couple of years. This team has evolved from not sending a team from Regionals, to sending a team to ORCS off the open bid list, to sending an A and a B team with a direct and an open bid. This upward momentum is gradual, but that’s precisely what makes it noteworthy—this isn’t a team that’s had an out of the blue season but has seemingly made institutional changes to maintain success. It doesn’t look like the Banana Slugs (again, phenomenal mascot choice) have much more to figure out about high-level mock—last year at ORCS they were a ballot and a half away from a bid. Their invitational records tell us they’re prepared to make up that ballot and a half difference this time around. They’ve placed 2nd at Black Squirrel, 4th at Mocktopia, left Regionals with 7 wins, and racked up a decent quantity of award winners in doing so. If you run into the Banana Slugs in the LA courtrooms, be sure to keep an eye out for All-National attorney Trent Larson, All-Regional witness Diana Casteneda, All-Regional attorney Declan Dempsey and witness Devasha Trivedi, who’s earned awards at top West Coast invites like Mocktopia and UCLAssic. There’s only one very large question left for UCSC to answer: can they do it in person? UCSC has been online the entire season, but soon, we’ll find out if they can continue their rise while stepping out from behind the screen.


Memphis: “Toto, I Have A Feeling We’re Not In Memphis Anymore” (MAIMD Ranking 1/8 )
- 4 teams in top 25, 7 team in top 50, 12 teams in top 100

First in:
Duke A

Bubble:
Duke B
Northwestern A
Florida State A
Rhodes A
Georgia A
Rhodes B
Northwestern B
Alabama A
Texas A

Initial Thoughts:
Memphis looks a lot different than it has in past years, where the top tier consisted of Rhodes A and B, generally paired with one program from a rotating cohort of southern NCT regulars. Because of what was, candidly, a dearth of elite teams outside of Rhodes, this ORCS consistently ranked dead last in difficulty. This year it’s the exact opposite, with the D’Army Bailey Courthouse set to host what is, at least on paper, the toughest field of all. Not only is Memphis tied for the highest number of TPR Top 50 teams with 7, but the attending teams earned an average of 6.54 ballots at Regionals, the highest of any ORCS. Duke is sending both its A and B teams after twin 10-4-2 NCT finishes last year, good for top 5 in both divisions. This year’s Duke has lost a lot, including the sublimely named All-American Attorney AG Chancellor, TBC semi-finalist Seva Castleberry, and elite coaches Eric Roytman and Sonali Mehta. But they do have a strong lineup led by seniors Juliana Mayer and Emil Zakarian, and backed by juniors Nellie Sun and Kaleb Amare. Duke will be different, but we expect the inertia of programmatic excellence to keep both teams at the top of the ORCS field. After Duke, we have Northwestern A. Northwestern has had an odd season coming off a 9-7 finish at the NCT, finishing a respectable 4-4 at the star-studded Windy City Invitational before failing to earn a bid at 3-F (despite earning 4 awards in the process). Northwestern’s two Memphis bids come from their B and C teams. Northwestern’s teams will be solid no matter what, but exactly how scary of a matchup they present may depend on how much restacking has taken place. We also have FSU in Memphis, a team we’re beginning to have some doubts about. FSU A was 3-5 at the Swamp Invitational, twice being swept, before dropping both ballots to Pitt A at Regionals. Some of the standouts have been less prolific on the tab summaries this year and we’re curious to see if FSU will continue their tradition of moving lower team captains onto the A team post-Regionals. Particularly Madeline Bodiford, a double-digit award winning witness whose B team finished short of a bid. We don’t know if we’ll get it, but FSU at peak power, could be the best team in Memphis. Last but not least, we have the team with more eyeballs on them than perhaps any other this season: Rhodes. Rhodes A went 33 consecutive years earning a bid at Memphis, before falling a ballot shy in last year’s Zoom ORCS. Some of that can be chalked up to a fluky online season and not being able to utilize the Rhodes Mock Trial In-Court Presence™, but there are reasons for concern. While their B team laid waste to 1-D with a triple-digit PD, their A finished 6-2 after a letdown round 4 loss to UC Davis B. Rhodes’ witnesses, led by Ace Cole, are as strong as ever, and Elizabeth Baldwin is a capable attorney, but since the retirement of longtime coach Marcus Pohlmann, there has arguably been a decline in the consistency of the bench. Though they are back on their home turf, if they are going to send two teams, or even just one, they are going to need an emphatic return to form.

Lastly, we have some traditional southern threats that aren’t quite consistent contenders. Alabama A is a team that broke through to Nationals in 2018, and is consistently solid in their ORCS performances. Behind heavily awarded attorney Jason Park, we’re seeing signs of another successful year. We also have to mention the Longhorns of Texas, who every single year seem to finish with four or more ballots, but haven’t made it out of ORCS in almost a decade. And then there’s Baylor, a team not seen much around the invitational circuit, but who for years has shown up in Memphis and flirted with Nationals bids. With the right schedule, Baylor is the type of slow and steady team that could push its way through to Lancaster. But whether that’s possible will largely depend on whether or not the top teams at Memphis can live up to their top billing.

Team to Watch: Georgia A
Georgia A comes into Memphis with a lot of momentum and plenty of potential. At their Regionals, just three weeks ago, they finished with an impressive record of 7-1. Throughout their invite season, we’ve seen some of the same. At Ramblin Wreck, they finished 5-3, but managed to do so by splitting with UVA B, South Carolina A, and Duke B—and sweeping Duke A. They finished with a CS of 21. Back in the fall, they showed that they’re more than capable of handling in-person tournaments as well. They beat teams like Georgia Tech and Florida to go 8-0 at Peach Bowl. However, what might be their Achilles’ heel is that going into ORCS last year, they had the same momentum and plenty of potential as well. In fact, you could argue they had even more. They went 8-0 at Regional 4-H—beating teams like University of Cincinnati, Macalester, and Michigan State. But by the time Round 4 at ORCS 2-A wrapped up, Georgia A was left with only 5.5 wins. Though, it’s important to point out that their A bracket matchup was about as unfortunate as it can get. They hit last year’s eventual runner-up, Yale University. Georgia features their typical clever, accented, and entertaining witness lineup, and are led by this year’s program president Justin Xu and dual-threat Daniel MacDonald. Don’t forget, the last time we were in person at Nationals, we saw not just one, but two groups of Dawgs. Who knows, if the chips fall where Georgia hopes they do, they might be riding back home with a trophy in their car and another Nats bid in their team’s email account to claim.


Washington DC: “The Ivory Tower” (MAIMD Ranking 8/8 )
- 1 teams in top 25, 6 team in top 50, 11 teams in top 100

First in:
Wesleyan A
Virginia A

Bubble:
George Washington A
William & Mary A
Maryland A
Virginia B
Wesleyan B
Washington & Lee A
American A
Brown A

Initial Thoughts:
If you told us a few weeks ago that an East Coast ORCS would be ranked the least difficult, we would’ve called you crazy. But here we are: Washington DC is ranked as our least difficult ORCS. Now, part of that is because AMTA has shipped East Coast teams to the Midwest (UMBC to Cincinnati, Tufts to DeKalb, etc.). The East Coast has plenty of top 50 teams. In fact, 11 of the top 25 teams could theoretically have been sent to DC. Instead, we have one team in the top 25 here, and that’s Wesleyan A. That’s the fewest number of top-25 teams at any ORCS and we have to wonder how six top-25 teams got sent a little further south to Atlanta, but only one got sent here. To be fair, Wesleyan A is a loaded team, composed exclusively of seniors, most of whom, like Jillian Pincus, Kathryn Campbell, and Sam Brumer, have been competing at Nationals for their entire careers. We also have to consider that some of the typical East Coast powers are less powerful than normal. The most obvious example is UVA, who should be the clear favorite here, but we use “should” for a reason. Last year they struggled, barely escaping ORCS and not placing at Nationals. A good year for most teams’ standards, but not anything close to UVA’s usual standard. We’re not sure if it was the transition online, or the quality of the team itself, but this ORCS will be a test to see if UVA is back to what it was pre-pandemic, or if UVA is on the decline. The Cavaliers’ 7-1 finish at Windy City (in-person) indicates that this might be a format issue, and that UVA will come out swinging in DC, led by All-Americans James Orr and Indiyah Mabry.

After Wesleyan and UVA, we have a few returning Nationals teams who earned a bid in 2021 for the first time in a long time. Maryland is clearly on the rise overall—just three years ago they failed to earn any bids out of Regionals. Their invitational results this year are a mixed bag, but Abdullah Khan and crew stomped through Regionals undefeated. Similarly, George Washington and William & Mary A earned a bid for the first time in a while last year. We’re a bit concerned with George Washington, who’s 0-8 record at GCF was tough to swallow. While they got through Regionals, they dropped ballots to teams you wouldn’t expect for a returning Nationals team. We’ll see if Saul Threadgill and company can get things moving in the right direction. On the other hand, William & Mary has had a strong spring. Featuring the senior combo of Gabby DeBelen and Jack Wood, the Tribe had impressive splits against top teams at Southern Showdown, and smashed their way to an undefeated record at Regionals. Maryland, George Washington, and William & Mary are each talented enough to return to Nationals, but none of them are sure bets, and that could open the door for some new blood. Some notables in the group looking to break through are Dickinson and American. Dickinson made a splash last year coming from the D bracket to earn 8 wins and an honorable mention at ORCS. This year, they haven’t had any standout invite success, but this team has a lot of potential to show up big time at the DC ORCS with All-National attorney Claire Simpson. American struggled at ORCS last year, but dominated Regionals this year. Not only did they go 8-0, but every single prosecution attorney earned a 16-rank attorney award. If we factor in Commonwealth Classic and Drexel Dragon results, American A is now 23-1 in 2022. We think either team could find success, and find themselves in Lancaster.

Team to Watch: Washington & Lee
The Tridents of Washington & Lee have teetered on the edge of an NCT bid for years now. Last year, they were fourth on the open-bid list to NCT after posting a strong 8-4 result at ORCS and barely missing out on a bid. Their path to 8-4 included an impressive 2-1 win over UVA A in a high-pressure round 4. This year, they seem once again at the edge of a break through that ceiling after a 7-1 finish at Regionals, a PD-positive split with UTC A, and consistently very good—but not great—invitational results. If they do make it back to the big time for the first time since 2017, the charge will be led by double-digit award winner and program president Alex Wilkerson, who this year is joined by some promising sophomore standouts in George Alford and Brendan Smith. We want to flag, however, that we also see a historical rivalry in their results as well. In 2018, W&L got swept by Maryland in a decisive round 3 of ORCS and missed out on a bid. In 2019, W&L got swept by Maryland, Baltimore County, again in round 3 of ORCS and missed out on a bid. In 2021, W&L again struggled to 1-2 against Maryland at ORCS with two close drops at -3 and -1 and missed out on a bid. It seems Maryland state schools are Washington and Lee’s kryptonite when March rolls around. And guess who is at the Washington DC ORCS in 2022? That’s right: Maryland A. We could be on a collision course yet again. If the pairings work out, get your popcorn out and prepare for a showdown.


Week 2:

Cedar Rapids: “Does a Bear Bid in the Woods?” (MAIMD Ranking 7/8 )
- 2 teams in top 25, 6 team in top 50, 13 teams in top 100

First in:
Chicago A
UC Berkeley A

Bubble:
Minnesota A
Wheaton A
Chicago B
Iowa A
Washington St. Louis A
Notre Dame A
Wisconsin A

Initial Thoughts:
Cedar Rapids is a weird ORCS. It may come in listed as the second-easiest, but we think it's a bit more of a wildcard than our metrics (which are primarily based on historical performance) might suggest. It's worth noting that not a single team here went untouched at Regionals—while a few had 7 or 7.5 wins, none of them showed the same 8-0 dominance represented at each of the other seven ORCS. And a full eleven of the 24 teams had 5.5 wins or fewer to start their AMTA season. There are a number of teams here having unusual years—both teams that we expect to outperform their TPR and teams we're a little hesitant about. Leading the pack for that first category is our Team To Watch Washington St. Louis A, who lurks in the dangerous B1 spot, meaning four teams at this ORCS will have to play both them and a top-50 program. WashU's depth has also been notable this year: any program that stacks high school national champion Lucy Demsky onto a B team clearly has talent to spare. WashU B may have scraped through Regionals at 5.5 wins, but they did so by sweeping Georgetown A and taking half a ballot off of Wesleyan A, and anyone who underestimates this C-group team is in for a shock. In that second category we have Minnesota A and Wheaton A. Minnesota has been a Nationals regular as of late. Led by senior Kendall Nowlan, the Golden Gophers proved some of our Regionals fears for their program unfounded with a clean 6-2 bid to ORCS and four different 20+ point ballots. However, we're still not sure how they stack up against the powerhouses they'll have to play in Cedar Rapids, particularly since at their last in-person tournament against top teams (Windy City) they posted a 1-7 record. Wheaton is also a regular NCT attendee, but even with sophomore All American Joe Gross, they have put up middling results all year before finishing 4-4 at Regionals, and they're here at ORCS off their B team's bid. We’ll be keeping a close eye to see exactly what squad of Lyons show up to Cedar Rapids.

But we can't forget the teams who have consistently been stellar in both past years and the present day, and we expect both Chicago and Berkeley to have a relatively smooth (key word "relatively,” it's ORCS) time getting their respective NCT bids. Ethan Hsi and Sam Farnsworth’s Chicago A team is coming off of three 7-1 finishes in their last three tournaments, and Berkeley A hasn't had a losing record all year. Berkeley is led by star attorneys Rebecca Steinberg and Kensington Cotter, who’ve anchored that A team bench for three years in a row. To round out our bubble, we have a collection of other teams with the talent to get it done—but a number of question marks, too. We've got Notre Dame, a program led by attorney Charles Stock that's been knocking at the door for years but keeps falling short. We've got Wisconsin A, who comes in ranked above only their program's other team, but whose performance so far this year can't be ignored. We've got Iowa A, a program with championship-pedigree who will be competing in their own backyard with returning All-National witness Hannah Johnson, who also attended Nationals last year, but whose invite profile hasn't been particularly standout this season. And we've got Chicago B, who often cinches a second bid to ensure their program's continued dominance. We're expecting the unexpected at Cedar Rapids, and this bunch of teams should be set to put on a good show.

Team to Watch: Washington University St. Louis A
The story of Washington University in St. Louis mock trial is a tragic one, really. It’s a story of heartbreaking ballots, missed opportunities, broken dreams. They are always so close. Over the past few years, WashU has been one of the 48 strongest teams in the country. But for a while now, that prized NCT appearance has eluded them. In 2019, they suffered tough losses to rivals that kept them out of The Big Dance. In 2020, they exorcised the demons of the year before and earned them the top bid out of the Cedar Rapids ORCS. But a pandemic spread around the globe to prevent WashU from taking their rightful place at Nationals. And then last year, after beating a number of strong teams, they were swept by Emory A—losing by the closest of margins. All of this is to say that an appearance at the NCT is long overdue. Obviously, there are no guarantees at ORCS. But if any year is going to be WashU’s year, it’ll be this one. They established their dominance early this season by posting a 7-1-0 record en route to winning Tufts’ Mumbo Jumbo Invitational. Another 7-1-0 record at Northwestern’s Mock at the Rock Invitational proved that the result was no fluke, and in January, WashU turned in an 8-0-0 performance at Indiana’s Hoosier Hoedown that puts them squarely in the top-tier of Midwest mock trial teams. At Regionals, they won every ballot except for one tie with Hillsdale B in a weird +18, 0 split. And Sofie Adams, Zach Stern, Sarah Rosen, and Nathalie Hart all appeared on the Regional 2-A tab summary, which is no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to individual awards this year. In a Midwest region that isn’t as powerful as it has been in years past, there is an opening for WashU. They’re more than a match for any team on the Bubble, and we’ll be interested to see if they can successfully challenge Berkeley or Chicago if they draw one of the two heavyweights in that crucial Round 4.


Cincinnati: “Who Dey” (MAIMD Ranking 5/8 )
- 3 teams in top 25, 6 team in top 50, 12 teams in top 100

First in:
UMBC A
Penn State A
Michigan A

Bubble:
Georgetown A
UMass Amherst A
Pennsylvania A
Cincinnati A
Michigan B
Michigan State A

Initial Thoughts:
On March 18th, 2022, as in years past, 24 teams will gather in the Buckeye State and compete for their spot at the National Championship Tournament. What makes 2022 different? Well, this year, only two of those teams are actually from Ohio. In an effort to balance ORCS after a decidedly East-Coast-dominant online 2021 season, AMTA has shifted East Coast powers westward. Pair that with traditional Ohioan blockbusters being shipped off to DeKalb, and we see that Cincinnati, namesake of Roman Emperor Cincinnatus, has more new faces than old. The most obvious coastal import are the reigning national champions, UMBC A. If you’re wondering how UMBC is going to perform at ORCS, let’s put it this way—they’ve got every intention of keeping that title for another competitive season. They’ve had a phenomenal invitational season, gobs of standout award winners like Thomas Azari and Natalie Murray, and went a perfect 8-0 at their Regionals. There are no sure bets at ORCS, but our thoughts are this: fear UMBC A. It doesn’t get much less dangerous with the rest of our first-in section. Dan Cohen will be leading Penn State in Cincinnati and with his efforts, plus the help of double All-American Jack Gaul, we expect the Nittany Lions to be just as formidable as when they took home the big gavel at GAMTI this past fall. We’ve also got AMTA’s ‘always the bridesmaid never the bride’ team in Michigan A, a program that has earned bids to Nationals the past two years—but never with their A team. Funky statistics aside, Michigan A is a program who has a depth of experience on what it takes to earn a bid to Nationals, and we’re willing to chalk a painful ‘one ballot away from nationals’ streak up to bad luck, and not some fundamental defect in their A team’s ability. Led by a senior class overflowing with talent, including All-American witness Victoria Shahnazary, All-National attorney Grace Roberts, Jacob Paton and captain Serena Bernal, we expect Michigan A to be a real threat.

The bubble is where we’re going to have surprises. Will one of the other three bids go to Georgetown A, perennial nationals qualifiers with a quiet invitational season, who are only here because of their C team’s bid and the good graces of the open bid list? Or UMass Amherst, a team led by Talya Torres that usually performs respectably at ORCS but has been suggesting that, should ORCS be in-person, they won’t be in attendance at all? Red Cedar Classic 1 and Red Cedar Classic 2 (Here we go again!) Champions Michigan State will be out to play, with Taliah Blom and team eager to regain the bid to Nationals they earned in 2020. Illinois and standout dual threat Emma Roder usually dances around a winning record at ORCS, and in a field with this much uncertainty, there’s a chance that the right pairings could put them in a good position. Pennsylvania A were swept by top dogs UMBC A on their path up to the Richard Calkins Trophy last year, but given those losses were single-digit, we’re excited to see what they’ve spent the past year doing in order to make up that difference in the event of a R4 rematch. In theory, Michigan B is as much of a puzzle as Michigan A—while they’ve posted invitational results that make them appear about as competitive as the rest of our bubble pack (fifth place at Indiana University’s Hoosier Hoedown), the fact remains that they’ve also got a two-year Nationals attendance streak. The last team on our bubble, Cincinnati A, is so unpredictable that we’ve got a whole Team to Watch feature worth of questions. There are no obvious favorites in our bubble—each of these teams is having an interesting season and could break if the right pieces are in place.

Team to Watch: Cincinnati A
The home team and the lone Ohioans in our bubble, Cincinnati A is perhaps the biggest question mark at the tournament. In 2019, we understood Cincinnati perfectly: a staple Ohio powerhouse with some star players, like TBC champion Stephen Douglas Johnson II and TBC competitor Julia Greve. Those competitors graduated and moved on to bigger and better things, and the Bearcats shifted from reliable Nationals attendees to just missing out on a bid for two years straight. It seemed like the golden era was over and Cinci’s time at the top had passed. Then Week 1 of Regionals rolled around—and we were perplexed to find that Cincinnati both confirmed and confounded our expectations. Cincinnati A left Regionals with only three wins, but Cincinnati B—a team that hasn’t been to ORCS in two years—left with a bid from one of our more competitive Regionals. Does this mean that we were right, that Cincinnati should be off our radar, or is this a sign that we’re seeing a transition to an entirely new, equally dominant era for Cincinnati mock trial? Now, we don’t know which of those teams will actually be competing (Josh Leckrone’s restack policy is a mystery beyond our ken), but more importantly, it’s hard to say which of those teams is even a more imposing threat. While Cincinnati A won Northwestern's Mock at the Rock, and rostered serious competitors like decorated award-winners Zophia Pittman-Jones, Cincinnati B seems to be a serious team of their own. At 1-C, Cincinnati B only walked away with a couple single digit losses to Nationals-caliber programs like Tufts A and Michigan State, and managed to sweep decent ORCS competitors like Arizona State B. While that isn’t a record that would make us think they’re a shoe-in for a Nationals bid, it’s promising. For all we know, Cinci B competitors like Mackenzie Collett could be the next in a long line of gifted attorneys with the Bearcats—although she’ll have to win a couple more awards before she’s ready to get a three-letter initial nickname like her predecessors.


DeKalb: “Geneva” (MAIMD Ranking 3/8 )
- 4 teams in top 25, 6 team in top 50, 9 teams in top 100

First in:
Tufts A
Miami A

Bubble:
Northwood A
Ohio State A
Tufts B
Case Western A
Portland A
Hillsdale A
Oregon A
Pittsburgh A
Dartmouth A

Initial Thoughts:
To paraphrase Shakespeare, a Geneva ORCS by any other name would still smell as sweet. Unlike Cincinnati, this ORCS looks pretty much like the Walmart version of who we typically see in Geneva: traditional Ohioan powerhouses, with one shiny East Coast import to offset the power distributions of the online ‘21 season. At the top we’ve got Tufts and Miami. Tufts comes into DeKalb fresh off a third-place finish at last year’s NCT, plus a third place finish at Windy City, and is being captained by the current best attorney in the country, Fatima Lawan, all three of which are an indication of the trajectory Tufts is expected to take in the classroom-courtrooms of DeKalb. Then there are the Redhawks of Miami, an analyst’s nightmare. Every year they graduate huge senior classes of A team competitors, underwhelm at invitationals, and then place at NCT. Last year they bucked the trend, won GAMTI, kept the majority of their A team, but had a losing record at NCT! We’re throwing in the towel. We suspect that everyone in DeKalb is secretly hoping to be the UVA B to Miami’s Rhodes—breaking Miami’s newly acquired longest active Nationals streak. But we’re not declaring Neal Schuett’s Redhawks dead until we see the ballots. And honestly, with Catherine Lammersen and Jamie Coughlin on board, we’ll be surprised if we have to declare them dead at all.

Outside of our First In favorites, DeKalb is pretty mean. Look where we placed Ohio State A—a talented team that’s on a five-year streak of Nationals appearances. They’ve been placing at almost every invitational they’ve attended, notably taking fifth at GAMTI. With All-Regional attorney Hannah Fouts, sophomore standout Michael Ragnone, and President of the United States Tamara Joseph, no one should be happy to face this team. The only thing that gives us pause is their Regionals record—in Round 2, Ohio State A dropped two ballots to Hillsdale A—a solid B bracket team that’ll also be making an appearance in DeKalb, and the type of team they’ll need to take ballots from in order to ensure they’ll be booking hotels in Lancaster.  Speaking of Hillsdale, they had a rough weekend at the brutal 2-B Regionals. The fact that Hillsdale dropped both to Emory B and split with Middle Tennessee State University should cause some concern—but that sweep of Ohio State A cannot be overlooked. Northwood A is also in our bubble, you’ll see below that we’ve got a lot of questions about what you should expect from them. Moving down our list, you will see there are actually two sets of Jumbos in DeKalb: don’t let the B team label fool you—expect Tufts B to be a threat. They’ll be fielding GAMTI’s top-ranked witness, Glorious Bombo. Need we say more? Below the big-name powerhouses, we’ve got two Nationals breakthrough teams from last year aiming to repeat: Portland and Case Western. Case Western had a great invitational season—fourth at Mock at the Rock, third at Great Chicago Fire, third at Hoosier Hoedown—plus their 8-0 Regionals record, it’s clear they intend to continue winning. Lookout for Case Western’s four pre-Regionals top performers (two of whom, Nick Cosmo and Zoe Swenson, awarded as All-Regional attorneys)—or senior captain Nick Micic, who’s won an All-National Witness award at every ORCS he’s attended. University of Portland, on the other hand, has managed only middling records at most of their invites, and Madison Johnson’s squad only advanced by an open bid. That hardly means this team is dead in the water—if fumbling at Regionals meant a team couldn’t succeed down the line, we’d have had a different finalist in the past six NCTs. The last group of teams that might bid from DeKalb are hopefuls who haven’t made the jump to NCT recently: Oregon, Pittsburgh, and Dartmouth. 2022 Oregon, led by the high awarding Anna Mueller, is a different version of the same story: the fact that they’re an open bid isn’t a great sign, but the R4 split with Northwestern A is a sign of hope. Pittsburgh A, on the other hand, has punched above their weight class this year with junior president Sam Mueller—taking two ballots off nationals returner Florida State A on their way to an 8-0 Regionals record. As for Dartmouth A, another East Coast import, they're somewhat of a mystery. We haven’t seen much of them outside of Regionals, but they were 1.5 ballots away from NCT last year. There’s a lot of talent here—enough for upsets and heartbreaks as the rounds play out—so don’t sit comfortably. A Geneva ORCS by any other name is still as tough.

Team to Watch: Northwood A
We haven’t been talking enough about how in 2021, Northwood pulled what can only be described as a classic Yale move—failing to earn a direct bid out of Regionals but then still achieving a high level success at Nationals (come to think of it, we might have not picked up on it because Yale did the same thing last season). Still, it’s something to talk about—even after losing All-American anchor Chris Grant, this Northwood team was able to keep up their previous level of success. This time they’ve lost All American witness Simeon Lawrence, but they’re still led by the all-around nicest person in AMTA, DeLois Leaphart, and have a roster full of strong competitors like All-American Lukas Baker, Austin Wolfe, and Aidan Garvie. Lukas Baker in particular is having a dynamite season—he made it onto our top performer list and just added a Regionals award to sit next to his All-American on his trophy shelf. But with that said…it’s not so clear cut that this upswing is going to continue for Northwood in DeKalb. They haven’t really been putting up impressive performances this invitational season, which gives us reason to pause. They finished with losing records at almost all the top invites they went to (3.5 wins at Beach Party, 2 wins at GCF, 2 wins at Yale), the lone exception being a 6-2 record at Southern Showdown. But at Regionals they concerningly dropped both ballots in Round 3 to Arizona State University’s D team. In order to get back to NCT, this team is going to have to be able to punch evenly and consistently with other good teams—and these invitational results show us that they’ve failed to do that this year time and time again. That said, any opponent would be a fool to underestimate a team with this kind of track record. Be on the lookout for Northwood in DeKalb. They’re always dangerous at ORCS, even when we think they won’t be.


New Rochelle: “A Tale of Two Eras” (MAIMD Ranking 6/8 )
- 3 teams in top 25, 5 team in top 50, 12 teams in top 100

First in:
Yale A
Harvard A

Bubble:
Boston University A
Fordham, Lincoln Center A
Columbia A
Cornell A
NYU A
Yale B
MIT A

Initial Thoughts:
If you were able to travel back in time to 2017 and show the list of teams attending the 2022 New Rochelle ORCS to anyone competing in the Northeast that year, their jaw would hit the floor. The gang’s all here. Yale, Harvard, Cornell, NYU, Columbia, BU, Fordham LC. Everyone knows that most of these teams aren’t as strong as they used to be. But this ORCS is still going to be a bloodbath. At the very top are two teams that need no introduction: Harvard and Yale. The latter has been in every NCT final round since 2015. While Yale hasn’t been performing at an elite level at top invitationals (as evidenced by their mediocre finishes at Boston Tea Party and Great Chicago Fire), they have achieved sustained success at ORCS and NCT across a number of years with a number of different personnel groups. Until that stops happening year in and year out, Yale will continue to own the Northeast. Here to challenge Yale is their age-old rival, Harvard. Headlined by a fantastic attorney duo in Travis Harper and Audrey Vanderslice, Harvard has a great deal of star power and the track record to back it up. After floundering at ORCS in 2019, Harvard fought their way back to the top with a 6th place finish at NCT last year, and they’ll be looking to better that finish this time around. We expect the Harvard team to be just fine here, but keep an eye out for a potential rematch with MIT A, who swept the Crimson a few weeks ago at Regionals.

After Harvard and Yale, the field opens up. Boston University is a perennial Nationals contender, a team that was in contention for a final round appearance last year that has been dominant at ORCS for a number of years now. All-American senior Sam Macriss will look to lead BU to yet another NCT appearance here. The only reason they aren’t in our First In group is their track record this year so far, which hasn’t been stellar: 1-7-0 at Boston Tea Party and 2-6-0 at Great Chicago Fire. Then there’s Fordham LC, who—aside from a hiccup in 2020—are also traditionally dominant at ORCS. But after graduating seniors like Evan Donaldson, Travis Knoppert, and Elizabeth Weinman, this Fordham squad may not be quite as experienced as some of the teams they’ve fielded in the past. Leading Fordham LC this year will be standout attorney Amelia Browne, who has long been a staple of their attorney bench. While Browne doesn’t always get the hype many other top competitors receive, she has a number of awards at important competitions and is more than a match for any other attorney in New Rochelle. Right alongside them will be SUNY Binghamton, a solid team that is often overlooked, but that has quietly built themselves into a perennial ORCS contender. They have a shot at taking the next step here. But the teams that will really define this ORCS are the three biggest question marks: Columbia, Cornell, and NYU. These three programs were once some of the most feared names in mock trial, and all of them have fallen from grace since the 2018-2019 season. It seems, however, like these three teams are out of the woods now. Cornell was back at NCT last year, NYU put up a strong showing at ORCS last year, and Columbia—despite a lackluster Regionals performance—has some strong new talent. If just one of these teams can recapture old glory here, it could spell doom for any of the other Nationals hopefuls. If all three can do it, then everyone will need to watch out. Rounding out the New Rochelle ORCS is a fantastic lower tier of teams. Almost every single one of the perennially deep Northeast powers have two teams here, and while it’s hard to predict which B teams will be good enough to get to the NCT in any given year, we’d be surprised not to see at least a few of them in a position to earn a bid going into Round 4. There are also a few programs that have had historical success but are just total wildcards year-to-year, like Boston College and Haverford. But the lower-tier team that nobody wants to hit is MIT A. They were millimeters away from an NCT bid last year, and they’ve come back this year all the stronger for it. After taking two ballots off Harvard A at Regionals and posting some really promising results on the invitational circuit this year, MIT will be looking to prove that they belong up at the top of the Northeast. Diego Colin and Emily Tess’s team has already made headway, earning a jaw-dropping 5 All-Regionals awards, 4 of which went to attorneys, and 3 all on the same bench.  Last year, we didn’t even put MIT A in our Bubble group for Regionals—a clear mistake on our part. We won’t be betting against them this year.

Team to Watch: Cornell A
Cornell has had as much of a rollercoaster ride during the last few seasons as anyone in the country. In 2018, Cornell A and B qualified out of ORCS and into the elite 48 that get to compete at Nationals. In 2019, Cornell made it back and placed third in their division. And then in 2020…that streak of success stopped. Cornell disappeared completely for the entire season—no invites, no Regionals, no ORCS. No season. In 2021, they returned with mixed results. They dominated their ORCS with 10.5 wins, but struggled to maintain that at NCT, only earning 6 wins and floundering when paired up against top teams. Now, that dropoff is more than understandable—a year is a long time to spend out of the circuit—but the question now is whether or not, with a little more time back, Cornell A is going to be able to regain those past laurels. If you’d asked us this in December, we wouldn’t have been quite sure what to tell you. The Big Red placed well at some invitationals, having two teams go 6-2 at the Quaker Classic, but they certainly didn’t have the fall season of a powerhouse program. But Cornell at Regionals changed our minds—and now we’re willing to bet they might be back to their old dominance. At 4-D, they went 7-1, taking home three All-Regional awards—two of which went to star attorney Zoe Fleishaker, who will step into Erik Szakiel’s shoes as Cornell’s top competitor. The ballots they earned weren’t won easily either. In Round 2, Cornell was matched up against this year’s GCF Champion, University of Chicago A, leaving the round with a dead split between the two teams. If you were looking for proof Cornell can play with the big kids again, this seems like a good sign.

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2022 ORCS Analysis Empty Re: 2022 ORCS Analysis

Tue Mar 15, 2022 12:39 pm
Summary
Most predictable tournament - Los Angeles
Most surprising tournament - Washington D.C.
Most surprising team result -  Dillard A

Unpredicted Teams
Georgia Tech B
Furman A
Southern California A
Dillard A
Dickinson A
Howard A
American B

Predicted First In Teams Out
Wesleyan A

Atlanta:
Patrick Henry B*
Florida A
Patrick Henry A
Emory A
Georgia Tech B**
Furman A**

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
None

Los Angeles:
Southern California A**
Stanford A
Cal Poly SLO A*
UCLA A
UC Santa Barbara A*
UC Irvine A*

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
None

Memphis:
Dillard A**
Rhodes A*
Duke A
Georgia A*
Northwestern A*
Texas A*

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
None

Washington DC:
Virginia A
Washington and Lee A*
Dickinson A**
Howard A**
Virginia B*
American B**

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
Wesleyan A

Number of Bracket Bids:
A Bracket: 14
B Bracket: 6
C Bracket: 2
D Bracket: 2
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2022 ORCS Analysis Empty Re: 2022 ORCS Analysis

Tue Mar 15, 2022 1:15 pm
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Surprised by D.C. --- most surprised by L.A.
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2022 ORCS Analysis Empty Re: 2022 ORCS Analysis

Tue Mar 15, 2022 3:34 pm
As with every other year, AMTA needs to add an additional west coast ORCS. The teams at LA were fantastic, and it's absolutely brutal how many west coast teams just get shoved through the shredder.

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2022 ORCS Analysis Empty Re: 2022 ORCS Analysis

Mon Mar 21, 2022 11:19 pm
Summary
Most predictable tournament - DeKalb
Most surprising tournament - Cincinnati
Most surprising team result -  Penn State A

Unpredicted Teams
Washington St. Louis B
Georgetown B
Juniata A
Hamilton A

Predicted First In Teams Out
Michigan A
Penn State A

Cedar Rapids:
UC Berkeley A
Chicago A
Chicago B*
Notre Dame A*
Wisconsin A*
Washington St. Louis B**

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
None

Cincinnati:
Georgetown B**
Georgetown A*
UMBC A
Michigan State A*
Cincinnati A*
Juniata A**

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
Michigan A
Penn State A

DeKalb:
Tufts A
Tufts B*
Miami A
Hillsdale A*
Northwood A*
Ohio State A*

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
None

New Rochelle:
Fordham Lincoln Center A*
Boston A*
Yale A
Hamilton A**
Yale B*
Harvard A

*In from predicted "Bubble"
**Unpredicted in

Out from "First in" prediction:
None

Number of Bracket Bids from week 2:
A Bracket: 15
B Bracket: 6
C Bracket: 2
D Bracket: 1

Number of Bracket Bids Overall:
A Bracket: 29
B Bracket: 12
C Bracket: 4
D Bracket: 3
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2022 ORCS Analysis Empty Re: 2022 ORCS Analysis

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