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NCT Analysis and Rankings Empty NCT Analysis and Rankings

Mon Apr 04, 2022 12:20 am
As we come to the end of another AMTA season, we just wanted to say how much fun it has been for us to write about the world of competitive-fake-lawyering that we all know and love. This is our fifth year of writing posts, and we hope that our posts will help continue to foster a community for mockers in coming years. Thank you to everyone who reads and comments. We hope that we have helped people learn a little bit more about the teams around the country, although we recognize that we can never give every team the amount of discussion and research that they deserve. After the National Championship, we will be looking for new contributors to help us expand our knowledge and keep writing about mock trial. If you’re interested, be on the lookout within the next month or so.

We know this is an extremely long post, so we’ll break it down. First, you’ll see our usual Placement Predictions and Division Analysis. Next, we have Power Rankings and Team Write Ups. 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. This list attempts to update the power rankings to better reflect the results we’ve seen in the 2021-2022 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. 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.

Thank you to everyone who has made this year’s AMTA season great. We are excited to see how everyone does at this year’s National Championship - good luck to everyone competing!

Doss Division:

Final Round Favorites:
Tufts A
Yale A

Expect to Place:
Stanford A
Duke A
Chicago A
Rhodes A

UC Santa Barbara A
Patrick Henry B
Fordham Lincoln Center A
Northwood A
UC Irvine A
Southern California A
Ohio State A

Initial Thoughts:
Before the division draw, if you asked us which three teams we’d bet money on to make the final round, we would have said our reigning national champion, the top of our power ranking and the team that has made the final round more than any other team. Well, here we are with all three in this division. The top three in this division is strong, potentially the strongest it could have been and if you’re not in that top three, good luck trying to get to that final round. So who’s in that top three? UMBC A, Yale A, and Tufts A lead the pack here. Our reigning national champions, UMBC, are looking to make it two in a row, and they’ve been having a good year going 8-0 at regionals and 6-2 at ORCS. They’ve proven that even after losing superstar Sydney Gaskins, they can still be competitive. Then you have Tufts A who it’s truly hard to find any weaknesses in. We won’t harp on their strengths too much, but read their team write up to see this team’s many strengths. And despite having the reigning champion and number one power ranked team, there’s still a large chance neither of those teams will appear in the final round. That’s because this division also has Yale A. Yale’s made the final round each of the last six years and while this is a different Yale team than previous years, we wouldn’t bet against Yale making the final round for a 7th straight year.

After that, we have Stanford A, Duke A, Chicago A and Rhodes A who have all been close to that Calkins trophy in the past few years, but fell just a bit short. Most notably, last time nationals was in Pennsylvania, Rhodes saw themselves in the final round. These are four historically great programs who are all having varying degrees of success this year, but at their best can compete with any team on the circuit.

Lastly, our bubble has some up and coming teams looking to have their best placement ever like Fordham Lincoln Center, Southern California and UC Santa Barbara, as well as some teams that look like they could be on the decline, but are looking to prove they’re still as good as they were a few years ago like Northwood, UC Irvine and Ohio State.

Overall, this division is going to come down to when you hit the hardest team on your schedule. Teams that run into Yale, UMBC or Tufts might find themselves with disappointing records, but if those three teams knock each other out, who knows who will sneak through to the final round.

Streseman Division:

Final Round Favorites:
Patrick Henry A
Emory A
Virginia A

Expect to Place:
Berkeley A
Harvard A
Florida A
Miami A
Boston A

Northwestern A
Georgia A
Tufts B
Washington University St. Louis A
Georgetown A

Initial Thoughts:
What makes this division difficult to predict is that we could picture about ten teams making the final round from this division, and that’s scary if you’re competing here. It’s not about avoiding one or two teams, you’re most likely going to be fighting through every single round to get to that championship and that’s just not fun. At the top of this division, we have Patrick Henry, Emory, UCLA and Virginia. You can read more about each of these teams in our power rankings, but the main takeaway should be that each of these teams has a strength that makes them stand out from the pack. UCLA’s dramatics, Emory’s creativity, UVA’s polish, Patrick Henry’s charisma. These four lead the pack because of both historic success, and having that special IT factor that makes them stand out from the rest, and there’s a good chance that one of them appears in the final round.

But that’s far from a guarantee. This division is full of wild cards who could end up surprising us. Berkeley A has one of the strongest 1-2 punches in the country on their bench and was among the favorites last year. Harvard has perhaps its strongest team since its 2015 championship squad. If Miami A knows anything, it’s how to put together a successful NCT. And then there are teams like Florida, Boston, Northwestern and Georgia, all of whom have had real success on the national stage before and could absolutely have it again here.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of teams here who have placed at either or both of the last two nationals tournaments and are coming into Lancaster with pressure to repeat past success. Unfortunately, some will be left disappointed. While we’re not exactly sure which teams will place, we’re confident that at the end, we’re going to be saying “oh wow this team didn’t place????”. Only time will tell which team that is.
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NCT Analysis and Rankings Empty Re: NCT Analysis and Rankings

Mon Apr 04, 2022 12:21 am
Power Rankings:

1. Tufts A - It is inarguable that Tufts A is in any conversation about who might win NCT. This is a team built to win now after falling just short of making the final round last year. Let’s start at the top—Bennett Demsky. Perhaps the best all-around attorney in the country, the TBC runner up has helped build a juggernaut that is steamrolling towards Lancaster. With flash reminiscent of Daniel Stern combined with more (read: any) restraint, Demsky has to be on the list of people with All-American potential. But one star does not a championship make. Lucky for Tufts, they’ve got an entire cast of star competitors. Alexander Thompson, the other returning All-American on this squad, is quite possibly the best expert and the most versatile witness in the entire country. Brett Sachs may be the best emotional witness out there, and Tyler Whitaker is a veteran character who can win a cross against anyone. Junior Fatima Lawan is one of the most underrated competitors in the country, bringing both top level openings and legitimate witness versatility to the table which few people have been able to do at this high of a level. Add to that up and comers like sophomore Margaret Veglahn and freshman Cole Reese (who awarded as a middle at ORCS on a bench with Demsky and Lawan), and it’s not hard to see why Tufts A is as high as they are in our rankings. Now, that’s not to say there are no weaknesses. This team does have a tendency to overreach and try to do too much during a round both in terms of their writing and in-round decision making. That said, Tufts spent all of last year finishing just short of the crown, and anyone with eyes knows what that means for this year. The only way anyone is beating this team is if you go into a round with them knowing you’re about to take their best punch.

2. Patrick Henry A - Patrick Henry A slots in at number two in our rankings with just a dynamite level of talent and an immense amount of experience. They return nearly every major piece from a squad that finished just a point short of the final round on Zoom last year. That includes All-American duo and TBC partners Benjamin Crosby and David Bainbridge, alongside All-American witness Caleb Knox, who has also appeared on the attorney bench for Patrick Henry this year. Beside them is the talented Millhouse couple and a bevy of other powerful competitors from one of the deepest programs in AMTA. This year, Patrick Henry has laid low on the invitational circuit, choosing—perhaps—to sit at home and hone on their in-person craft. But in the past two months, they have been just excellent. They stormed through Regionals with an undefeated record, and then powered through unfamiliar territory and a difficult schedule in Atlanta. But they weren’t perfect in Atlanta: we saw a single point loss to Furman, an AMTA stalwart that also finds itself on this list, and a narrow +1, -11 escape from South Carolina A, a team that could top any “best of the rest” list we could make. Now, Patrick Henry will return to their backyard in Lancaster, and having a B team also in the mix to help push and prep them is an advantage few other teams will enjoy. Expect this team to be in the mix on Sunday morning. They have the knowhow necessary to put together a simple and powerful case in just a few short weeks, and if they can put their talented pieces in the right places, they could just go all the way.

3. Emory A - Emory is an undoubtedly dangerous team heading into Nationals this year. Not only are they an immensely talented squad, but they are also one of the most experienced A teams on the circuit, returning most of the team that placed in the top five at the 2021 NCT. The only way to describe this team’s attorney benches is girlboss, with All-National Sara DeLacey, All-American Danielle Jacoby, and TBC competitor Riya Lakkaraju leading the way. Lakkaraju, in particular, is the most awarded competitor currently on the circuit, staking a claim in both the discussion about who is the best expert witness in the country as well as who is the best closer. But while most of the star power in this team resides on the attorney bench, don’t let that fool you into thinking their witnesses are a weak spot. Specifically, look for All-American witness Carson Sanford to make a splash on the nationals stage. Emory as a team is historically incredible presentationally, but sometimes has some theory miscues or is a little too ambitious on what they can get across during a trial. If they have an Achilles heel, that’s it. But in order to beat them, a team has to be able to demonstrate whatever problems there are with the content while also matching them presentationally so they don’t just get blown out of the building. It’s certainly possible to beat them, but it’s just as possible we’re watching this team shine in the final round. Only time will tell.

4. Virginia A - The Cavaliers of the University of Virginia will be looking to avenge their uncharacteristically substandard finish at last year’s NCT, and they’re back and as good as ever. At the beginning of the year, we joked that Judge Toby Heytens’ law clerks could help with the content writing. But let’s be honest: who needs a law clerk when you have a James Orr? Orr is having a banner year navigating one of AMTA’s premier vessels through shark infested waters. Joining Orr is perhaps the most versatile witness in AMTA right now: Indiyah Mabry. And UVA has a top notch supporting cast too—tons of fantastic competitors like Julian Mosley and All-American Albert Kwon alongside a veritable legion of coaches typing furiously in the back of the courtroom. Virginia’s results seem to indicate final round potential—most importantly their top-notch 1st place finish at Windy City in Chicago this January. We’ll see if they can repeat the feat against the top tier of competition this April. In many ways, though, this is a make or break year for Virginia. If they turn in a repeat of last year’s performance in Lancaster, it’ll be hard not to wonder if the driving force behind their recent period of dominance from 2015-2019 wasn’t the UVA machine, but rather the generational talent of competitors like Allie Piacenti, Sabrina Grandhi, and Deniz Tunceli. There’s a lot riding on this NCT when it comes to UVA’s reputation as a perennial powerhouse. Our high ranking here reflects our confidence that last year was a blip on the radar, an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise stellar record.

5. Yale A - This is a subjective activity, we’re all massively opinionated people, and it’s hard to find things we can come to any sort of consensus on. In addition to that, we like to give hot takes in these posts sometimes. It keeps things interesting. That said, here are the facts. Since the inception of the new case problem for the NCT in 2015, there have been a total of 6 national final rounds. Yale Mock Trial has competed in every single one of them. There is not a single person who is a common thread between each of those final rounds, not Stern or Love or Chase or Cohen or Rogers or Keller or any of the other 30-something All-Americans Yale has amassed over that time. The most incredible testament to this incredible program is the sheer number of last names we could list out and you would still know exactly who we’re talking about. So we’re not going to overcomplicate this. Yale is ranked 5th for us because they haven’t been quite as dominant this season. But then they turned around and earned two bids to the NCT despite some apparent turnover in personnel. Watch out for Sara Campbell to continue making a name for herself after bursting onto the scene in the 2021 NCT final. And the other captain of this team is Hudson Patterson, a dual threat competitor whose versatility is his greatest strength. Let’s be real, Yale will probably be back in the final this year. But they keep giving us some drama that lets us write this post with anything other than them ranked first, and for that we are eternally grateful.

6. UCLA A - UCLA is consistently one of the top West Coast teams. This year, we expect them to be right at the top in contention for one of those Final Round spots. This team spent the first 7 rounds of their AMTA season going undefeated—averaging a point differential of over +14 per ballot. While they did end up getting swept by USC in the fourth round of ORCS, this team has shown a dominance that few others have this season. They’re also one of few West Coast teams who have attended a large number of in-person invitationals, which will be valuable experience for the Bruins in Lancaster. UCLA is known for their dramatic attorneys, over-the-top witnesses, and one of the most impressive coaching staffs in the country, which includes Iain Lampert, Gonzalo Freixes and Elizabeth Smiley. All-National Attorney Camille Schaefer is one of the best attorneys in the country, and she’s joined on the bench by fantastic competitors like Natalie Penn, and dual-threats Connor Nickson and Riley Shapiro. Of course, there’s Andrew Moon, whose brilliant comments on Mock Trial Confessions are equaled only by his ability on the witness stand. And UCLA has a very talented B team that didn’t make it to Nationals to pull talented competitors up from as well. The Bruins have the talent necessary to succeed in person, and the experience to do it on a very short turnaround. Nobody should want to play UCLA in Lancaster.

7. UMBC A - The reigning National Champions will drive up to Lancaster looking to make sure that enormous Richard Calkins Trophy stays in Ben Garmoe’s office. Whether or not they can do it, just the fact that they’re in a position to mount a vigorous title defense is a major victory over all of the people who doubted UMBC at the beginning of this season. Coming into this season, the Retrievers had graduated Sydney Gaskins, the team’s superstar and a legitimate GOAT contender, as well as Thomas Kiley, their captain and longtime expert witness. Anyone who thought that their victory was a fluke, or that Gaskins carried the team to the championship all on her own, is looking pretty silly right about now. Thomas Azari has shown some real growth this year by filling Gaskins’s shoes with seven awards in the invite season and an All-National attorney award at ORCS. And they seem to have filled out their witness line-up too, with expert Zinedine Partipilo joining old hands Maria Kutischeva and Natalie Murray, two of the best in the business. UMBC’s ORCS performance did give us some cause for concern: in particular they double tied with a much lower-ranked Georgetown and then split with Michigan State. But judges can be crazy, apparently especially so in Cincinnati, and if you take a look back at last year’s ORCS, UMBC didn’t manage to sweep a single round, suggesting that they may be one of those teams that gets dinged up on their way through ORCS and patches things up by Nationals (which seems to be true of a number of teams that have made the NCT finals or gotten close in recent years). No Gaskins means that we just can’t predict UMBC to make an NCT final again with certainty, but we have every expectation that they will make an appearance on the podium.

8. Stanford A - Stanford A has the potential to be the first West Coast team in a final round since 2014. This year has, of course, been a difficult one for Stanford and the broader AMTA community after the passing of head coach and AMTA board member Thom Scher. But Stanford went into the AMTA season with the fire they needed to not only get back to Nationals but to stomp their way there. Despite a CS of 22, they earned 6 wins at Regionals and powered their way through the bloodbath that is the Los Angeles ORCS with 7.5 wins—earning their spot in Lancaster. We have to wonder: is this their year? They came close last year, earning 6th place, and they’re returning almost all of the team that did it. Leading Stanford are All-Americans Elizabeth Grant and Azam Janmohamed, who both have over a dozen awards apiece. This dynamic duo is one of, if not the best, open/close duos in AMTA, and we wouldn’t be shocked if either or both win All-Americans again this year. Joining Grant and Janmohamed is Meredith Fenyo, a former Gladiator standout who has made quite the mark in AMTA as an underclassman. They also have All-National witness Audrey Mitchell, who’s consistently won awards for her emotional witnesses, something that will undoubtedly matter quite a bit given this year’s case problem. One thing that Grant, Janmohamad and Mitchell have in common (besides winning a lot of awards) is that this is their senior season. This group has one more shot to take home the Richard Calkins Trophy and we expect them to put up a fight to do it.

9. Berkeley A - The Golden Bears of Cal Berkeley have had an interesting trajectory over the past two years. In the Fall of 2020, they were looking like the team to beat. Winning invite after invite, sailing through Regionals and ORCS with ease—they did look like one of the favorites, if not the top team. And going into last year’s Nationals, we had them as one of the most likely teams to take home the Richard Calkins Trophy. But that didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen, but they didn’t even place. Now, obviously, this is a new year, and after losing all of their A team witnesses, we were curious to see how they’d do this year, and well… it hasn’t been as outstanding as we’d expect. For most teams, they’ve had a fantastic season, but we have seen Berkeley do better. So if signs are pointing down, why do we have them all the way in the top-10? Because even in an off year, this team is fantastic. They’re led by Rebecca Steinberg and Kensington Cotter, who have anchored this A team bench for the past three years. Steinberg, in particular, has earned 5 attorney awards this year and is someone we expect might be competing at TBC in June. The question for this team is if their witnesses can hold up to other Nationals-level witnesses? We think they could. Jasmine Kamalnathan has earned awards at top competitions like ORCS and GAMTI and Chris Ying at GCF and Regionals. But it is a question that will be answered for sure in Lancaster this April. And it’s a question whose answer could determine where Berkeley ultimately falls in the NCT field.

10. Harvard A - Harvard A has been slipping through the qualifying tournaments on a knife’s edge. They’ve been the last bid out of both Regionals and ORCS, and they finished with the lowest record of any qualifier at the latter. Granted, they haven’t had the easiest schedule, playing a lot of up-and-coming teams or down-on-their-luck, older powers who are still dangerous in March. But still, coming into this season, we would not have predicted records in the 5 ballot range for this team in AMTA season. Looking back, the warning signs were there for this team going into the spring, too: like their 3-5 finish at Windy City, where they swept only Minnesota A—who will not be attending Nationals. That said, weak qualifier results often hide very strong teams. Just a few years ago, our weakest qualifier, Virginia A, placed second in their division at Nationals. And there is some reason to believe that may be the trajectory we should expect here too. Closer, All-American, and TBC competitor Travis Harper II has continued to win awards all year, as has their other closer, Audrey Vanderslice. They had strong fall invite results, and they have an experienced core for this team that knows how to win at Nationals (which is more important than ever this year in a field made up of a higher than ordinary percentage of newcomers). Last year, an incredibly young version of this team took sixth in what was certainly the harder division. This year, their competitors are more seasoned, and we expect them to be ready to go.

11. Duke A - Duke is a challenging team to evaluate this year. On the one hand, Duke has lost quite a bit of talent in TBC semi-finalist Seva Castleberry and All-American AG Chancellor. They also lost one of the best coaches in AMTA, Eric Roytman. On the other hand, Duke has reloaded their talent pool with some truly gifted competitors who have experience competing at a high level. Seniors Juliana Mayer and Emil Zakarian, juniors Kaleb Amare and Nellie Sun, and sophomores Jacob Hervey and Evan Chan. Each could claim to be one of the nation’s best at their respective roles. But is any a true star? And can they execute a signature win this season? While 6.5 wins at ORCS is an impressive feat, the 2022 losses to UGA A, South Carolina A, and Tufts B give us pause. Duke has been consistent in winning the ballots they’re supposed to win, but has yet to sweep a Nationals-bound team. And that wouldn’t be unusual for most teams, but Duke was legitimately challenging for the title just twelve months ago. At the end of the day, this is a great team, with a season to be proud of. But over the years there’s been a pattern with Duke. With great coaching, they can be a threat to, or indeed actually, win the National Championship. When they’re primarily student run, like this year, they can still be very good, but not quite at the highest level. Soon we’ll see if this highly talented team can buck that trend, and prove they can win against the best of the best.

12. Florida A - It’s no surprise to see the LitiGators back at Nationals. Florida is one of the most consistent programs in AMTA. This season, at their 21 invitational appearances—the most in the nation this year—UF walked away with a winning record at 17 of them. Last year UF went 5/5 at Regionals. And this year? 5/5 again. We’re talking about a massive program that has the resources to host an invitational tournament just days before flying up to Lancaster. Their top squad heading to Pennsylvania is a group no team should want to see. At ORCS, they dominated their C and D bracket opponents, including a 4.5 win South Carolina B team, and then proceeded to split Emory A and B on Sunday, the former being a final round contender and the latter being the top finishing non-Nationals team in the country. Long time coach Laura Sjoberg has been helping from afar in London, but we expect their deep, deep bench of coaches to provide plenty of guidance to talented competitors navigating what is likely their first in-person Nationals. Competitors like the All-American witness combo of David Egloff and Sahas Chintakayala, or dynamic closing attorney Brandon McKay. The question for UF this year is if they can repeat their high water mark performance from Zoom last year, while face to face with their judges? We’re excited to see what clever demonstratives these Gators try to win with in Pennsylvania.

13. Chicago A - Chicago is no stranger to a Nationals trophy. They’ve left with one in hand at the last four in-person iterations of our top tournament, and this year we expect more of the same. At the NCT in Philadelphia in 2019, they reached a program best 3rd in their division. While Chicago had a lot of turnover coming into this year, there’s evidence to suggest it was for the better. That starts with last year’s record at Nationals. While neither team ended up placing, it was the B team that finished with a winning record and an honorable mention. Now, the All American attorney from that team, Ethan Hsi, and his All-National counterpart Sam Farnsworth, find themselves anchoring this A team bench as closers. Alongside them is junior All-American Ali Alekri, a charming Brit who’s quickly making a case for the top double threat senior of the 2022-23 cycle. Their results this season are strong: after a disappointing 1-7 GAMTI performance, they’ve hit 7-1 at all four of their 2022 tournaments. They certainly have the experience, coaching, and talent to make a push to the top of their division. But for Chicago, all eyes will be locked on Round 3. At the last four in-person Nationals, Chicago has won just a crushing 1.5 out of 15 ballots. With their technically clever and nuanced style, this team is probably our best bet on a non-top-10 dark horse to break into Round 5. But first, they’ll have to break that Round 3 curse.

14. Miami A - Five years ago, placing Miami this low on our list would have been enough to make us lose all credibility. As irritating as all their boasting about #TheLegacy is, they’ve got an impressive program history that few programs in AMTA can rival. Until last year’s NCT, Miami A hadn’t placed outside of the top 10 in their division since almost 2006. This is a team with almost unparalleled institutional support, and that makes the Redhawks a real threat. But there’s a rationale behind this ranking. That highly competitive historical dominance has not been on display of late. The Redhawks had an underwhelming (for their standards) NCT finish in 2021, had to graduate strong competitors like Kayla Groneck, Katelyn Hunt, and Zion Miller, and haven’t done much to show us they’re on an upswing since. Miami is now led by senior Catherine Lammersen (All-National witness) and junior Jaime Coughlin (All-American witness) along with newly minted All-National attorney Carlos Hernandez. Another name to keep in mind is Julia Robinson, who earned an All-National witness award as just a first year on this impressive squad. This team of experienced veterans and young talent is certainly looking to prove that they belong as a part of #TheLegacy. But another lackluster finish from Miami at NCT this year could certainly force us to ask ourselves the question: are the Redhawks really still what they used to be?

15. Boston University A - The Terriers of BU are ready to shine again; they are in the National Championship Tournament after being only one of 10 teams to place at both the 2019 and 2021 NCT. But what’s interesting about this group is that this isn’t the same team that placed 10th in the Nelmark Division just a year ago. Six of the 10 members of that team graduated, so this is a completely new group. With a history of success also comes a certain level of pressure for this new group, but we’re sure they have what it takes to meet and exceed expectations. After all, one of those remaining four competitors from last is All American Attorney Sam Macriss, who took home an All-National attorney award just a few weeks ago. Max Bearinger also won an All-National witness award after earning himself an All-Regional attorney award earlier this year. So there’s definitely some star power that leads us to believe that this could be the Terriers’ third consecutive placement at NCT. One concern we have that prevented us from putting them higher is that they didn’t actually beat an A bracket team to get here. Their A bracket matchup was supposed to be Cornell A, but instead they got to face a bye-bust team. After their Round 2 split to Cornell B, if they had actually faced Cornell A, we’re not sure how that would have gone. But nonetheless, they still finished 7-1 and that’s a dominant finish for any team, even if they had an easier path.

16. Patrick Henry B - Patrick Henry might be the program with the most depth and this Nationals appearance helps prove that. For the second year in a row, this isn’t actually PHC B, but PHC C after their B team failed to earn a bid. And for the second year in a row, we questioned whether a C team at one of the hardest ORCS could earn a bid. And for the second year in a row, they earned a bid. But not only did they earn that bid, they earned the first bid out of Atlanta showing that this team is as dominant as their A team. Now that didn’t happen by just skill alone, there was some luck involved. Their final round was a +1, +1 to Vanderbilt A and their round 3 was a +4, +4 to Florida B, a fortunate A bracket pairing. A win is a win and they clearly earned their bid, but those PD’s make us question how they’ll hold up to these nationals teams. With more judges at NCT, these close +1, +4 victories could easily turn into splits and might leave this team off the podium. But we do know this team has some talent. All-National attorney Nathan York and multi-award winner Calvin Huh lead this team to what they hope will be their second year placing in a row.

17. Rhodes A - Rhodes was conspicuously absent from the NCT last year for the first time in decades. That said, in truth there were few signs that this was the result of any sudden drop-off in competitive strength: both Rhodes A & B were exactly one ballot (out of 12) off of a bid to the NCT, finishing with the monstrous CSs of 29 and 29.5 respectively, and with A losing out on a particularly brutal +19 +8 -1 final round split. While last year’s performance may not have been cause for concern, prior to ORCS we expressed serious doubts about their performance this year. While they posted an impressive 6-2 record at GAMTI featuring a sweep of UVA A, they also finished 4-4 at Windy City, Ramblin’ Wreck, and Vanderbilt’s GOT, and finished a slightly underwhelming 6-2 at Regional 1-F. Those doubts were put to rest at Memphis, with Rhodes having secured a bid by sundown on Saturday with sweeps of their first three rounds and ultimately finishing a comfortable 7-1. All that’s to say, those in the mid-South praying for Rhodes to fall as it did to Rome in 164 BC were proven decisively wrong, and until further notice Rhodes is here to stay. Rhodes features a strong witness core in Captain Sheridan Hardy, star Ace Cole who double-awarded at GAMTI and has two consecutive ORCS awards, and the affable and credible Sam Frank. On the attorney side, Captain Elizabeth Baldwin, who took 16 ranks at ORCS and 19 at Windy City, is joined by Jemma Clary, Veda Krumpe, and David Caddle. This team is composed of a solid mix of seniors and up-and-comers, and while Rhodes’ impressive finish at the high-powered Memphis ORCS firmly reestablished the NCT as its rightful stomping grounds, their performance at Lancaster will set the bar for what we expect of Rhodes in high-level competition going forward.

18. Northwestern A - Northwestern is perhaps the most confusing team going to the NCT this year. On one hand, there’s a long record of success at the top level for this team with three top ten finishes at the last three Nationals. And this team sports a lot of the people who made those performances happen. Upcoming TBC competitor Ruby Scanlon has been on NU A ever since her freshman year in 2019, where she closed on their 9th place NCT team. Olivia O’Brien was named an All-American in 2019. And Tahj Burnett took the circuit by storm in 2021 as a sophomore, cementing his place among the best openers in AMTA. Their coaching staff has been around for this entire run of NCT success as well. But all of that said, it’s just as easy to construct the narrative about why you should doubt this team. Sure they’ve finished top 10 three times in a row, but they’ve never finished above 9th during that stretch. Sure they have a lot of talent, but they didn’t earn a direct bid out of Regionals this year. Sure weird judges can happen sometimes, but then they got swept in their D group matchup at ORCS before squeaking through with a bid. This team has all the talent in the world. It has the talent to win in Lancaster in April. But there is something going on that has consistently prevented the Wildcats from winning at the top level and from winning consistently. This year’s NUMT squad will be the next one looking to break that narrative and break to the final round. Let’s see if they can do it.

19. UC Santa Barbara A - The Gauchos have a lot to win for. It’s the last NCT for a few of their competitors, and after last year’s performance, they’ll be wanting to prove that they’re a force to be reckoned with. If anyone’s got the squad to make it into the final round from outside the top group; it’s them. One of their captains, Madelyn Whalen, has won All-Regional and All-National attorney and witness awards this season, while Eli Tannenwald (their other captain) is an All-National witness, and has won an All-Regional attorney award. Their star-studded team also includes All-American Witness Aleyna Young, All-National Attorney Madison Thomas, and All-Regional double-threat Alex Pigeon. One thing to note is that this is going to be the last tournament Whalen, Tannenwald, and Pigeon compete at—meaning they’re going to give it their all, and they’ve got some very talented teammates to support them in their quest to win the Calkins Trophy. The question this year is going to be if they are going to be able to shake off their streak of bad performances at the NCT? The last two times that they’ve made the NCT, they haven’t won more than four ballots. Although that is a cause for concern, the Gauchos’ invite results (5th at GCF, 5-3 at UCLAssic) have given us reason to believe that they will be able to improve and move forward.

20. Georgia A - The Dawgs are back at Nationals. This looks to be a banner year (in more than just mock) at UGA. Junior Justin Xu and Senior Daniel MacDonald lead the way for this team, which has collected an impressive resume of wins so far this year. Including sweeps over Duke A and Texas A, along with splits against every team, many of them Nationals attendees, with the lone exception of a true loss against Rhodes A. That gives us hope that the UGA’s aggressive advocates and big characters (among them, a mime) will have a shot to make noise in Lancaster. But we do have some reservations. While Nationals isn’t unfamiliar to UGA’s program (they’ve been at about half the Nationals of the last decade), it is new territory for this group. Zealously student run, this UGA group will be handed their first Nationals packet, which is a steep challenge to meet. We think the talent and desire to place is here with this group, but whether they can walk away with a trophy will depend on if they can be fast learners to the Nationals scene. Perhaps, if the cards fall exactly right, they’ll follow in the footsteps of Stetson Bennett, and complete the true underdawg story with a National Championship.

21. Tufts B - After falling just short of an NCT bid for several years, Tufts B has finally broken through. Tufts B won seven ballots in DeKalb, dropping only to Miami A in a +9, -2 split. Along the way, they’ve minted 3 All-National attorneys: Neil Arora, Max Mitchell, and first-year Ian Carson. Joining the three All-National attorneys is a deep and talented group featuring standouts like Jess Parillo, who won an All-National attorney award last year, as well as some young witnesses who have been awarding all year, like Wesley Jansen and Glorious Bombo. Though some of their results have been less than dominant, like a 3.5 ballot finish at Southern Showdown, this team has proved that they can punch above their weight class when they need to. This season alone, they went +6, -4 against the defending National Champions, UMBC A; +3, +1 against Duke A; and +9, -2 against Miami A. They’ve shown that they have the talent to win against the best teams in the country. Although they’re less flashy than their A team, they play the same brand of mock trial with emphatic presentation, engaging witnesses, and high-risk, high-reward moments. Like almost any B team, they lack experience and can easily stumble in situations where they’re thrown curveballs, and without NCT experience and a 19-day turnaround, Tufts B may struggle to achieve the same success and polish that they have thus far. While they might be overshadowed by their A team, Tufts B is young, talented, and hungry to prove themselves on the biggest stage in AMTA.

22. Fordham, Lincoln Center A - Fordham LC is having another strong year. This team has shown they have what it takes to consistently make it to Nationals. This year they had a strong invitational season, earning 6 wins at both Quaker Classic and Commonwealth Classic, and they have some star power in folks like Amanda Tyson, who has awarded at both Regionals and ORCS. That being said, Fordham LC seems to be a very unpolarizing team, which may serve to help or hurt them at nationals. At ORCS, they took 7 ballots, an amazing feat, but taking a look at the scores they put up, it seems that most of their rounds were close calls. In Round 1 against MIT B, they won +1, +5; in Round 2 against Boston College, they split +10 and -4; in Round 3 against Columbia, they took both +2 and +5; and in Round 4 against Yale B, they took both +1 and +5. We would like to be clear here: there are no easy rounds at ORCS. But if Fordham LC is going to place at Nationals, we would expect to have seen more dominance at ORCS, especially given the teams they played against. On the other hand, this lack of large variety in their scores may show that they have an ability to play just above their opponents, which may aid them at Nationals. All in all, Fordham LC comes in this high on our list because they’ve shown that they can win, and they are not higher because we are not sure how well they will do against teams who take more risks—and finish higher more consistently.

23. Northwood A - We’ve gone back and taken a look at our analysis of Northwood over the past two years. We have never failed—not once—to mention that Chris Grant, and this year Simeon Lawrence, are gone and graduated. And that’s true. But it’s past time we started writing about who is still here. Because this Northwood team is a strong one, and the Timberwolves will be out to prove that they still belong at the top of the pack in Lancaster. It’s funny, too, because Northwood really has nothing left to prove. They’ve won a National Championship. They’ve consistently been one of AMTA’s top teams over the past fifteen years. Their coach, DeLois Leapheart, is in the AMTA Coaches Hall of Fame, and is probably the best coach out there right now. And the Northwood train—despite those notable personnel losses we seem to love to point out—shows no signs of stopping. They’re led by Lukas Baker, an All-American expert-turned-attorney, with a good command of the Rules of Evidence and a matter-of-fact, realistic style. Baker is joined on the bench by Austin Wolfe, another stalwart. And they’ve got multiple stars on the rise, too: All-National witness DeLorean Ishmon II brings a ridiculous amount of charisma and likability to every trial, and freshman opener Teagan O’Bryan has the natural ability and the unique presence to maybe fill Chris Grant’s shoes one day. While they probably won’t be there at the very end in Round 4—their loss to Tufts A at ORCS reveals that there’s a ceiling for this Northwood team—they have the experience and the talent to make some noise in April.

24. Ohio State A - Is this team on a slow decline? Flashback to 2019: Not only was Ohio State A a top-five team, but Ohio State B was a top-five team in the other division, too! In 2021, they were looking to repeat that success, but only got one team to Nationals—and that team finished with a losing record. Now, in 2022, not only did they only earn just one direct bid to ORCS (their B team bid to ORCS came late off the open bid list at just 4.5 wins), but this team barely squeezed through, earning 5.5 wins with a low CS and not facing another team going to NCT. We don’t know if this possible decline is based on a coaching change or the loss of TBC competitors Eric Roytman, Matt Besman and more recently Clay Owens, but what we do know is that this is no 2019 Ohio State. But, that all being said, Nationals is a completely different animal from ORCS, and having experience doing the three week prep can make or break some teams. This team has the experience and history of success needed to be able to place. If you’re facing this team at Nationals, look out for double threat All-National Attorney and All-Regional Witness Gabriella Dachtler, All-Regional Attorney Hannah Fouts, as well as one of the greatest character witnesses in AMTA history, All-American and Oscar Award Winning Best Director Tamara Joseph.
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NCT Analysis and Rankings Empty Re: NCT Analysis and Rankings

Mon Apr 04, 2022 12:21 am
25. Georgetown A - You should never look a gift bid in the mouth, but it’s tough to shake the feeling like Georgetown A got through ORCS by the skin of their teeth. They went 4-0 through Rounds 1 and 2, but with a combined PD of only +18 across all of those ballots. Then, they hit defending champ UMBC in Round 3 and double tied them. They came out of Round 3 with a 5-1 record, but with 4 of those 6 ballots being determined by 2 or fewer points. And this team would argue that judging can be consistent when in their Round 1, both judges had them +7. In their Round 2, both judges had them +2. And in their Round 3, both judges had it at a tie. Now, that’s not to say that Georgetown isn’t capable of making some noise in Lancaster. There’s a reason we have them ranked 25th instead of lower. Georgetown has historically been a team with pretty variable performances, but when they have the talent they can put up a stiff fight with anyone in the country. They combine big performances with tight theories and when they manage to be clean, they are particularly tough to beat. In particular, All-National attorney Allemai Dagnatchew is someone we’re going to have our eye on at NCT. Another interesting possibility we’re going to be watching for is whether they make any roster changes after ORCS, given that their lower team actually outplaced them and had 3 people earn All-National recognition. Whatever they end up doing, this is a team you should want to avoid come NCT.

26. UC Irvine A - UC Irvine has the potential to be at the top, but this year has left us with a lot of questions. This is a team with a history of success at nationals. It was just a few years ago that this team was one OCS point away from a final round so that shows this team has the knowledge of how to succeed at nationals. But despite being a consistent nationals presence, their results this year are not up to par with what it takes to win the NCT, or even what they’ve done in the past. After their A team failed to earn a bid out of Regionals, they were the last bid out of the LA ORCs, scraping by with a shaky 5.5 wins with a CS of 12.5; a record that was not enough for a bid at other ORCS. Nevertheless, they are not a team to be doubted, as they’ve got a team bursting with talent. All-National Witness Matthew Eng and All-National Attorneys Brian Anderson and Josiah Jones. In addition to Jones and Anderson being an incredible open/close duo, Nick Boroski is a capable double-threat in his own right, and award winning witness Dylan Darwish balances out this team to give them all the parts needed to succeed. We shall see in Lancaster if their record this season has been but a blip, or if it foreshadows the team’s performance at the NCT.

27. Yale B - It’s been a while since Yale sent a B team to nationals. It hasn’t happened since 2018, when they famously were the Yale team that qualified to the final round. In some ways, Lancaster feels like a place where that could happen again. Lancaster notoriously prefers the more laid back, friendlier style we have come to associate with Yale B based on Yale’s history at ORCS there. It’s also notable that Yale B has placed at Nationals every time they have attended since the advent of the new case. So we will never bet against Yale B. On the other hand, this Yale B is not the Yale B of old. This team is largely made up of underclassmen and is overwhelmingly composed of first years. But there is reason to believe they might be a strong team. They have taken six different individual awards since January for five different people (with the only repeat award going to Sophomore Taylor Dallin), which suggests a balanced slate that works together well. They have done well at invites, taking second at UMass and third at Eastern Michigan. But neither of those were particularly strong fields and even then, Yale B managed to drop ballots to teams that didn’t come close to getting out of ORCS. At ORCS, Yale B managed to get completely swept by Fordham, who have traditionally placed middle to low podiums at Nationals. In other words, this is a team with a lot of promise and a lot to respect. It’s a young team that has come a long way. But the only reason we aren’t treating them like the highly untried team they are is that Yale is Yale and we’re not going to count them out until they give us reason to do so.

28. Washington U St. Louis A - In our ORCS analysis, we told you that the story of Washington University in St. Louis’ A team was a story of heartbreaking ballots, of missed opportunities, of broken dreams. Boy, were we right: at 5-3, they ended their season in Cedar Rapids—kept out of NCT by a split with Minnesota and a drop to a plucky Wisconsin team. But we never said this was WashU B’s story. On the shoulders of a freshman, Lucy Demsky, the Bears shook off a loss to Minnesota and rampaged to a bid, earning an All-National attorney award for Demsky and an All-National witness award for Rhys Williams. Our middle-of-the-pack ranking here reflects the uncertainty that surrounds this team right now. Will their A team—so close for so long—just take the bid? Will their B team keep the bid? Will the team be a hybrid? Whether or not Zach Stern is on this team could move our ranking by five to six spots in either direction—his off-the-cuff, cavalier style is perfect for Lancaster, where his brother made a name for himself almost a decade earlier, and his versatility as a witness is perfect for this case problem. Watch out for other A team members like Harris Lichtenstein, who just became an All-National attorney, and for B team folks like Shreya Chilukuri, another underclassman with real ability as both an attorney and an expert witness. We don’t know what this WashU team will look like or how they’ll do at NCT, but we do know this: If Lucy Demsky gets to play her older brother, everyone should get ready for some serious fireworks. Because we’ve seen Mock Trial Confessions that say she’s better than he is.

29. Georgia Tech A - Going into ORCS we asked, is Georgia Tech a true in person power? Or was the late 2010s run a product of great talent like Sarah Stebbins and Harsha Sridhar? Well, we got our answer. Both Georgia Tech teams finished with a winning record. And, surprisingly, the B team got the bid with a strong six wins. This was perhaps a more experienced B team than many programs might field. At ORCS, Tech B was composed mostly of juniors, many of whom are no strangers to the awards section of tab summaries. Competitors like Surbhi Bhatter, Varun Aggarwal, Maya Jaffe, and Julia Chen. Although, as we have to ask any time a B team bids over there A, who exactly will we see in Lancaster? History does give us a bit of a guide. The last time Georgia Tech advanced to Nationals, this same situation happened. That time, we saw the A and B teams merge, and we expect something similar to happen here. So look out for the likely addition of All-National attorney Isabel Stafford, and maybe some other talented folks from Georgia Tech’s A team. While this group has proved more than capable on its own, we expect the infusion of experience to help. Combine that with a coaching staff that has the experience to guide this group through the tough in-person Nationals prep period, and this Southern power might be feeling right at home on the podium.

30. Virginia B - This is a young group for UVA, filled with first year students, some of whom didn’t know what mock trial was as recently as August. You would never know that if you saw them in trial. It is yet another triumph of the machine-like consistency of UVA to have this team absolutely stomp (+89) through their C and D bracket opponents, and then come out with splits against two premier A teams in Wesleyan and Howard. UVA B may lack the decision-making skills that only come with experience, but they have already used the signature alarmingly-slow UVA style to devastating effect. If this is the future for UVA… well, the rest of AMTA should be as fearful of the Cavaliers as ever. In the short term, though, we have this team ranked a bit lower than you might expect. Largely because we’re not quite sure who will be on it. UVA has been known to pull top competitors from their B team up to the A team for Nationals, if that will help the A team's odds. So will Anna Dubnoff, a double-awarding All-National sophomore who appears poised to carry on the legacy of strong female attorneys from UVA, be a competitor on this B team? We’re not sure. But with or without her, the talent of first year competitors like Micah Cerynik, Zoe Jenkins, and Annabelle Claypool, will be more than capable of picking up the slack. And while this may not be the year these newcomers charge into the final round, the experience they gain in Lancaster will make them all the more dangerous in the years to come.

31. Southern California A - USC was one of the more surprising results coming out of the LA ORCS, but, after looking at the season they’ve had, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. They had a fantastic invitational season, winning Rebel Trojan with 7 wins, 2nd place at Seton Hall’s Pirate invitational, 4th place at the Indy Mockhundred and Cactus Classic and not one, not two, but three bids at Regionals. This team has been placing left and right and because the tournaments weren’t the most competitive ones, this success slipped through our radar. Make no mistake, they are on our radar for nationals. They came to ORCS and showed everyone that they not only should be on our radar, but they should be considered one of the best teams in the country. This team went 8-0 at ORCS, defeating essentially the entire UC system in the A team from UCLA and the B teams from UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz. They’re coming into Nationals as the only team in the entire nation to go 8-0 at ORCS. That just cannot be overlooked. This team has a slow, likable and clean style. They’re not the most flashy or over the top, but they’re slow and crisp, which might play well with the Lancaster judges. The only reason this team isn’t ranked higher, despite their dominance at ORCS, is that Nationals is not an arena where USC has shined or even competed in much in recent years. So the short prep period will be new for them. Look for double threat Ashley Bears and All-National witness Jonathan Kamanta to make some noise in Lancaster. We look forward to seeing if the Trojans can surprise everyone yet again.

32. Chicago B - Chicago’s B team is at its second consecutive Nationals. With a Nationals streak approaching double digits, the second best program-record at ORCS this year, and the front to back depth to match any program, Chicago is quickly entrenching itself as part of the new generation of AMTA blue bloods. And for a B team that last year finished with a winning record at Nationals, you may be asking yourself why we have this group ranked squarely in the bottom half of our list. Well, this B team isn’t quite the same as last year. Chicago has rotated most of last year’s cast up to the A team, to great success. And while they certainly have experience, and their 6.5 wins at ORCS is impressive, they have yet to take down a Nationals-attending team in the in-person setting. The next week will surely be a proving ground for this group, eager, we are sure, to prove that they are ready to grab the torch and run when the seniors on A team graduate. They’re led by their own senior, program President Roma Shah, a powerful and steady hand at the closer spot. And they’re buoyed by talented up and coming All-National witness Elijah Bullie, and standout attorneys in Stephanie Yu and Alison Oh. The potential is here, and the system in place at Chicago could enable them to reach it. We’re excited to see how high these Maroons can climb.

33. American A - There are a few underdog success stories coming to Lancaster this year, but one of the more notable ones are the Eagles of American. After three years in a row of earning 3 wins at ORCS, they finally picked up the 2.5 extra ballots necessary to earn their first bid to Nationals since 2017. This year, things finally began to click for them, and they’ve had an outstanding 2022. Their A and B team combined went 30-2 at invites and a collective 24-5-3 at Regionals and ORCS for a total winter record of 54-7-3. Now, you might be wondering why we’re mentioning both A and B if American only got one bid, and that’s because we don’t actually know which American team is going to Lancaster. The bid came because of their B team’s 5.5 wins, but their A team also earned 5.5 wins and lost to their own B team on the CS tiebreaker. We imagine that will leave American’s program with an interesting conversation: who’s actually going to compete in Lancaster? Regardless of which team competes, there are some standouts to look out for. Nora Sullivan has 5 witness awards this year, coming in as one of the most decorated witnesses in the country. American A’s Prosecution bench had the rare triple award at regionals, and if they do send their B team, look out for multi-award winners Rhea Raman and Sophia Fingerman.

34. Wisconsin A - When they went into regionals this year, we told you to watch Wisconsin for a reason. They had a breakout year this year with what seems to be a phenomenal set of underclassmen and a new coach. That breakout continued at ORCS with UW getting their first Nationals bid this decade, taking three out of their four A/B bracket ballots, and finishing the tournament with the two highest ranked witnesses (one of whom, Blake Martin, would have also been the fourth best witness on the weak side of their case). This program has the potential to do very well at Nationals and we wouldn’t be shocked to see a placement out of them. UW proved at ORCS this year that they can compete with very high level teams, taking two ballots off of Washington St. Louis A and one ballot off of Wheaton, both of whom are much more established teams with a Nationals history. They will also be bringing a coach, Kate Hayner-Slattery, who has managed to put her teams on the placement podium every time she has attended NCT. On the other hand, this level of competition will bring new challenges this program has never seen (not to mention the challenge every new-to-nationals team faces in learning how to handle the prep time). The jump to the Nationals means that almost every team they will play in April is harder (at least on paper) than any team any of them have ever played. This team has proved that it was worthy of its bid, but it has never had to prove itself against the very best. This is their chance.

35. Howard A - Generally speaking, we’re not surprised to see Howard at Nationals. Howard has been a frequent attendee for over a decade. But there’s no overlooking the fact that Howard struggled on Zoom. For two straight years their A team failed to get a bid at Regionals. In fact, their only bid this year came by way of a C team open bid. They missed Nationals last year. And their two years of online invitational results, capped off by an 0-8 performance at the Blue Jay Invitational, have been poor. And then, they walked back into a courtroom. All of a sudden, in DC, back on home turf, the Bison beat every team they’re supposed to beat, split a very good UVA B, and feel right back at home at Nationals. It makes sense. After all, Howard’s strength has always been dynamite courtroom presence and sheer presentational ability. That gets muted on the computer screen. But with Nationals in-person, you may wonder why we have Howard ranked so low? Well, in four tries with the new case turnaround, Howard has only fought its way onto the podium once. Their average record? 3.2-4.8. That cools a bit of our excitement for this HBCU powerhouse. But while we may not be predicting a trophy, we do think Howard could be a surprise team at this NCT. Jaelen Trapp is a captivating presence in the well, and he’s just won a 20-rank All-National attorney. Jayda Peets is a convincing standout as a witness. And with coach Angela Minor at the helm, they’ve got the leadership and institutional support to put on a performance that could bring Nationals hardware back to The Mecca.

36. Notre Dame A - Notre Dame has been so close for so long. After an NCT hiatus of five years and a lot of turbulent coaching changes, the Fighting Irish finally made it back to Nationals in 2020, only to have their bid snatched away by COVID-19. Last year, they seemed poised to make it back after all three of their teams came home with 8-0 records at Regionals. But they just didn’t pull through when it mattered. This year, however, despite failing to repeat their regionals success, they managed to get their ORCS bid and by a fair margin too. And Notre Dame didn’t have it easy. They got their C group ballots against a Kansas team that outperformed their group designation and ended 5-3, and their A group ballot by being the only team to pull a split off of UC Berkeley. Their invite season results suggests that they can hold their own against a fair number of teams in the Nationals field, but that they are not ready to stand out in it. They have consistently finished with respectable positive records for their A team, but they haven’t won anything. At GCFI, they were able to take ballots off teams like Loyola and Chicago B, but they faltered when they hit higher ranked teams like Yale. In short, we expect Notre Dame to be solid relative to the field. They might squeak into a placement but we don’t expect it to be a high one. We also don’t expect them to do poorly. This seems like a good year for a program on the rise to test the waters. Look out for All-National attorneys Connor Marrot and Charles Stock to be in the running for All-American awards.

37. Washington and Lee A - A Washington and Lee NCT appearance means one thing: glory and vindication to Alex Wilkerson. If you aren’t familiar with this double-threat senior, you might not have glanced at a tab summary over the past four years. He’s racked up a grand total of seventeen individual awards at AMTA invites over the years, a number that’s rivaled by only a scattered handful of competitors in the country. We imagine, after four years of pushing to break through to nationals, he’s excited to try for pretty much the only award left for him to win: an All-American. But let’s be absolutely crystal clear here–despite our accolades to Wilkerson, Washington and Lee is in no way a one man show. Because while it’s exciting to anticipate how Wilkerson will stack up at the very best tournament in the country, the reason he even merits mention on this list is because Washington and Lee as a team this year has legs. They’ve been in a desert—not managing an NCT attendance in the past five years. It’s only with an incredibly talented team of not just Wilkerson, but other standouts like Brendan Smith and George Alford, that they’ve been able to make this the year they turned getting close enough into breaking through. They’re low in our rankings for the same reason a lot of these teams are–with no recent program NCT experience, it’s hard to be optimistic about how three-week case prep will go—but if there’s going to be a newbie NCT team that surprises us, we wouldn’t be shocked if it’s Washington and Lee.

38. Hillsdale A - Hillsdale stands out in the NCT field for their unique, trademark brand of mock trial. Most teams that go for big, outside-the-box, crazy theories pair their creativity with big, flashy, exciting presentation, and most teams that tend to keep things on the saner side of things also tend to have a more reserved, realistic method of presentation as well. But not Hillsdale. The Chargers of Hillsdale College pair a penchant for whacky, clever theories with a methodical, almost plodding style that verges on mechanical. For the past few years, they have run absolutely insane theories and come up just short of the NCT—they went into Round 4 of ORCS last year needing just one ballot to qualify and ran into Tufts A, who swept them outright. Well, as luck would have it, this year in Round 4, needing just one ballot to qualify, they ran into Tufts A. And they took a ballot off the team that we have ranked number one, which should tell you how dangerous this Hillsdale team can be. Jean-Luc Belloncle, who won an All-National Attorney award, is one of the best in the nation, and he’ll be looking to add an All-American to his trophy cabinet. Belloncle isn’t the only standout on this team: their witness bench is stacked with talent in Njomeza Pema and Konrad Verbaarschott. While they don’t have extensive NCT experience, their success at early season fall invitationals and their creativity are strong indicators that they have what it takes to stand out in their division in Lancaster.

39. Furman A - Talk about a nail biter. After earning the last bid to NCT by winning a CS tiebreaker by exactly one CS point, the Paladins of Furman University are finally going back to the dance after a few years out in the cold. It was not that long ago that Furman was consistently in the running to qualify to the final round, most notably in 2016. However, once stalwarts like Liam Simkins-Walker and Shannon Cherney graduated, there was a bit of a lull. And it would have been fair to wonder whether that marked the end of this team’s presence on the national stage. This year’s Furman squad is looking to stop those wonderings in their tracks. Led by newly crowned All-National competitors Marra Edwards, Erica Daly, and Regan Richardson, Furman historically has a style that would probably play pretty well in Lancaster. It’s very nice, sort of slow, and much less focused on the drama of the case than other regions of the country typically are. Obviously, our ranking here reflects some doubt in their ability to place highly in this first year back. But don’t let that make you think this is a team that is lucky to be here. They could be around for a long time going forward. Experience having done Nats and Nats prep is the single most important factor in determining success, and that’s a big advantage Furman has over other teams.

40. Cal Poly SLO A - In their first NCT appearance since 2017, the Mustangs of Cal Poly SLO bring with them a strong squad. At their helm is All-National Attorney Becca Goren, who is among the best in the west. At every tournament that SLO has competed in this winter season, Goren has awarded. In fact, in her four years of AMTA, she’s earned about a dozen awards at every level and is now looking to add one more to the list. She’ll be wanting to take her award-winning momentum from Regionals and ORCS into what we are sure are going to be an amazing last tournament for her. Goren isn’t the only star on SLO’s team, however. She is joined by All-Regional Attorney and Witness Melissa Toussimehr, All-Regional Attorney Torri Creamer and multi-award winner Yuval Shemesh. The interesting thing about SLO is that those three who we just mentioned are all great attorneys and witnesses and can fit in wherever SLO needs them. This SLO team has by no means stepped on the brakes this season, and the only thing keeping them from collecting the Calkins trophy is the lack of NCT experience on their team. No one on the team has ever prepped a case in a window as short as the turnover from ORCS to Nats. It will be interesting to see if the Mustangs can culminate their effort into some success at the NCT, as they face competition from some very established Nats names.

41. Texas A - Texas is a program that has inspired fear in the Southern circuit for years, consistently fielding polished and crafty teams capable of steamrolling over even its strongest regional competitors. While they have pulled off some wildly impressive finishes in invitationals (two years ago their stacked C team won UCLASSIC outright while A was taking third at CUBAIT), they haven’t earned a bid to the NCT since 2015, when they finished a strong 8-4, taking 4th place in their division. Coming into this season, they lost All-ORCS attorney Gage Jones and an exceptional opener in Domanique Williams, but the Longhorns have weathered those losses with ease. After a strong 6-1-1 finish at 4-A where they finished one point off of a triple-digit PD, they took their first 6 ballots at Memphis before a final round sweep at the hands of Georgia A. They showed similar strength during invite season, taking 6 ballots at both Florida’s Swamp Invitational and Ramblin’ Wreck. Overall, we can safely say that this team is no fluke, but we have yet to see them win consistently over elite competition. This team is fairly young, consisting of mostly sophomores and juniors aside from Captain Heather Worth. Worth is joined by President and All-National attorney Emily Layton, double-threat Madhavi Subramaniam, and witness Alex Jimenez. We’ve seen younger teams outperform expectations at the NCT before, standing fearless in the face of teams accustomed to a consistent edge due to opposing anxiety, and coming off more realistic and amiable than opponents who have been swimming in trite mock-trialisms so long that they can no longer see the fourth wall. Given that and our limited data, while they are ranked relatively low, the gap between the ceiling and floor for this team’s finish is likely the widest in the field.

42. Michigan State A - It was something of surprise to see Michigan State A emerge from the gauntlet of the Cincinnati ORCS. In an ORCS with some truly shocking results, including no bids for either of the Spartan’s regional rivals at University of Michigan, Michigan State emerged victorious, taking the fourth bid down to Lancaster. No one could say that victory came easily to them either—the last ballot Michigan State needed to bid came from a nail biter of a Round Four pairing against reigning National Champions the University of Maryland Baltimore County A. As the dust settled, both teams left with a single-digit victory on one ballot, barely getting each into NCT. Honestly, we think that Round 4 pairing is the best indicator of the threat Michigan State might turn out to be. Taking a ballot off of the statistically best team in the country when they need it the most is no small feat—these Spartans were ready to scrap with the best of the best. With the right pieces in place, we think Michigan State has the talent to really perform well here. They’ve got a newly-minted All-National Attorney in Taliah Blom, and two all-regional witnesses in Leah Louis-Ferdinand and Gabby Hardy. That said, it’s not all bad news to wind up paired against Michigan State. The SPAMTA award they brought home to match their bid trophy suggests that these Spartans are a pleasure to hit—at least until you see the ballots afterwards.

43. Dillard A - We’ll give you the short of it here—Dillard A is a threat. It’s what Cincinnati A learned in Round 4 of Regionals 1-A with a +12 +4 sweep. It’s what Northwestern A learned in Round 1 of ORCS with a +2 and +8 sweep. It’s what the seven top-50 returning teams at the Memphis ORCS learned during awards, when a team that hadn’t bid out of Regionals in the past three years walked up onstage to take the first bid to Lancaster with an undefeated record. Arguably, Dillard’s domination of Memphis with a team made up of first-time ORCS attendees was the most impressive result anyone has managed this season. They’re also, as a fun AMTA fact, the first team from Louisiana to ever bid to NCT. Dillard falls on the lower end of our list for the same reason most of the bottom half of our list does. While they’ve clearly proven they’ve got the know-how and the dedication to go toe-to-toe with the best in the country, we can’t deny that in Lancaster, institutional knowledge on how to get a case off the ground in three weeks will be essential. The Bleu Devils are going to be facing teams with members who have done short-notice case prep every year of their college careers, and we won’t lie when we say that it will be a challenge for Dillard to match that level of short-notice preparation. That said, this is a team with talent. Look to see what All-National Attorneys Lajeanne Shelton and Amaya Ronczyk (who also won a double sided All-Regional Attorney award) as well as All-National Witness Renee Simeon have to show for Dillard’s first-ever appearance on the NCT stage.

44. Georgetown B - Georgetown is easily the most unpredictable program this year, and we could see this going any number of ways for the Bulldogs’ B team. One reason for this is because this “B team” is actually their C team. But don’t let that fool you: this C team was the only one of Georgetown’s three teams to earn a direct bid from Regionals, and then had the best record at the Cincinnati ORCS with 6.5 wins. Historically, this isn’t actually shocking. Georgetown B has earned 8.5/12, 5/8 and 5/8 wins the past 3 years at ORCS so they’ve been on the cusp of earning a bid for a while, but after their Regionals performance where their A team only got 4.5 wins, their B team didn’t earn a bid with 5 wins and while their C team earned 6 wins with a CS of 13, we didn’t expect one team to earn a bid, let alone two. However here we are with two Georgetown teams at Nationals. While this team has had success, it’s come with a lot of luck as well. At Regionals, they had a CS of 13 with every round having a ballot two points or less and at ORCS, they had a CS of 12 splitting both their C and D bracket matchups. Despite that, they were able to come out with clear victories vs. their A and B bracket matchups and that gives us hope that this team can take a few ballots in Lancaster. How many will that be? Well based on our rating it's clear we don’t think too many, but this team has surprised us before and we’re excited to see if they can surprise us again. Look out for All National award winners Mikey Young, Matt Shin and Naina Bhamidipati to make a splash in Lancaster.

45. Cincinnati A - We’re not super confident in this team’s chances to place. Let’s start with the most noteworthy, which is Regionals. Now, usually, when a Nationals quality team doesn’t earn a bid from regionals, they’re not super far off. Think Northwestern this year or Northwood last year, who went 5-3. But that’s not the case with Cincinnati. Their A team went 3-5, and while that included a Round 1 loss to reigning champions UMBC A, it also included a split to Tulane B and Dillard A. Now, in retrospect, hitting two teams that also qualified for Nationals this year is bad luck, but at Nationals, Cincinnati is going to have to face teams like UMBC and Dillard again. Luckily, they earned a bid from their B team who managed to lock down 5 wins. Cincinnati B also had a tough schedule, facing Tufts A and Michigan State A, but unlike their A team, they managed to split one of them and had enough wins to earn a bid. While they advanced on a 5.5 record at ORCS, they did so with 3 splits, and in their A bracket matchup (Georgetown A), they went +6, -20. We’re not sure exactly what happened there, but the -20 is definitely concerning. The interesting thing about this team is that we’ve seen their results vs. 5 of these teams at regionals and ORCS and none of them have come out as direct wins for this team. Needless to say, we’re not super confident in their ability to beat them in Lancaster. But if they do, they’ll do so off the talent of 2022 All-Regional Witness Zophia Pittman-Jones and star attorneys Kevin Johnson and Divya Kumar who are all decorated competitors and some of the best in the Midwest.

46. Dickinson A - It’s the Economou, stupid. Normally, when a person is mock trial famous, it’s because they’ve won a tremendous number of awards or belong to a big name program. We’re not exactly sure how or when Lucas Economou became one of AMTA’s household names. But his name is as ubiquitous as any other in AMTA right now. Last year, the Red Devils came an inch away from the NCT, finishing just short of the final bid with 8 ballots at ORCS. This year, they’ve come charging back. Leading the charge is Claire Simpson, a two-time All-National attorney and the lightning to Economou’s thunder. Simpson has a very real shot at an All-American. She is as dynamic a performer as she is technical, and even though Dickinson has absolutely zero experience with the NCT short prep period, she’ll be able to give a number of AMTA’s top names a serious run for their money. Joining the team’s leaders are competitors like Colin Black, who won an All-National witness award a few weeks ago in Washington, DC. The Red Devils are at Nationals this year because they beat everyone they were supposed to beat, and a narrow loss to Washington & Lee wasn’t enough to stop them. But if this team on the rise wants to rise even higher, they’ll need to do more. Competing in their backyard in Lancaster, just an hour away from Dickinson College, this group has nothing to lose and everything to gain. And that will make them a dangerous opponent.

47. Juniata A - What makes Juniata so interesting is that there are a few competitors on other teams who’ve been competing in AMTA longer than Juniata Mock Trial has existed. After forming for the first time in 2019, Juniata has earned a bid to ORCS four years in a row, and after a disappointing 5-3 finish at Regionals which put them on the Open Bid list, they finally broke through the Cincinnati ORCS with a 5-3 record. Now, one reason they’re so low on our list is exactly what’s listed above. This team was one of two teams to earn a bid with 5 wins and they’ve really never competed at a Nationals level-competition before. Their most competitive tournament this year was Happy Valley, which had about a 50% Nationals-returning field, but there’s a large question mark about whether they can compete on such a quick turnaround versus the best teams in the country. Similarly, they didn’t face any of the teams who also earned a bid at ORCS. They had a +3, -13 split with Penn State as their A bracket team, but other than that, they haven’t been tested in the way some other teams here have. Leading this team is All-National attorney Dan Cummins, and he’s joined by other talent in All-National attorney Francesca Satiro and All-Regional witness Alex Sanna. Anyone in the community who didn’t know about Juniata probably does now, because they’ve been getting quite a bit of attention on Mock Trial Confessions for being a formidable—perhaps to an extreme degree—opponent. We’ll see if they’re actually worth all the talk in Lancaster.

48. Hamilton A - Hamilton A is a team with a serious question mark by their name. Let’s start with some of the positives. Hamilton has been a solid ORCS team for a while, never doing anything particularly stand out but always finishing round the middle of the pack. They held their own against good teams. They also seemed to be on the rise with 7 wins, just below the bid cut off last year. They also sport the only witness to take perfect ranks at ORCS all year, Elise Wilson. However, and this is a big however, they are also one of two teams to make nationals this year without playing an A bracket team. Cornell was forced to drop out of ORCS midway through the tournament this year and, as a result, Hamilton played the Bye-Bust team instead of an A bracket team. What’s more, Hamilton did not destroy the bye-buster as one might expect from a Nationals-caliber team, instead splitting them +8, -1. That may have been a fluke of judging, but it also isn’t the best look when Hamilton will have to face a field of Nationals teams. None of this is to say that Hamilton couldn’t have taken ballots off an A bracket team if they had the chance. It’s entirely possible that they would have and that they will do really well come Nationals. They were 5-1 going into that round, so they might have advanced even if they lost both ballots to a real A bracket team. And let’s be clear, every team on this list, no matter their rank, is a great team. That’s what getting to Nationals means. And we’ve been wrong before. In fact, at the past two in-person Nationals, our last place team has finished with a trophy in hand. We’ll see if Hamilton can keep that tradition alive.
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