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2018 NCT Analysis Empty 2018 NCT Analysis

Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:36 pm
Minneapolis:

Possible Champs:
Yale A
UCLA

Expect to place:
UVA
Miami
Stanford
OSU
Florida A

Bubble:
Patrick Henry
Chicago
Cornell A
Arizona
Rhodes B
NYU B
Tufts

Initial Thoughts:

This division will be absolutely brutal at the top, with both of last year’s division champions, as well as traditional powers like UCLA and Miami as relatively newer programs that have done extraordinarily well on the invitational and/or AMTA circuits like Stanford and OSU. This is also the first time since 2015 that both division champions from the year before will be in the same division. We are, therefore, guaranteed not to have a rematch of last year’s final and at least one of Yale and UVA will be going home unhappy out of this division (perhaps to the relief of a final round audience who does not want to see exactly the same set of trial dynamics play out for a third year in a row).

On the other hand, the bottom of this division seems less difficult than the St. Paul division. This may mean that it will be easier to break into the top 10 from the Minneapolis division than from the St. Paul division, but harder to make the final round. It also means that in this division we can expect to see some clean victories of strong teams over weaker teams followed by a battle in the last two rounds as the top programs duke it out for the final placements. Given how stratified this division is, AMTA’s decision to have a coin flip decide whether the defendant is called may introduce an extra element of luck into who hits who when. Many teams will have a strong preference between the two types of trials (defendant called vs defendant not called), particularly on defense. They will have to hope they hit their strong rounds when the coin flip is on their side.


Team to Watch - Yale
Yale A enters Nationals this year presenting seasoned returners from last year’s final round Byrnes, Bays, and Parker on their bench. Together this team has dominated this year’s invitational season, and coasted through the regional and ORCS season. Their strong performance at the Downtown makes this team our favorite to win this division.

Even in years they struggle to make it out of ORCS, Yale’s creativity, flashiness, and clever script-writing have consistently served them best at Nationals, where their ability to build a unique and compelling case with only 26 days of prep lets them stand out.

This year looks to be no exception, and Yale’s team seems to be stronger than ever. They’ve posted consistent winning records throughout the season at both invitationals and AMTA tournaments, placing second at every tournament they’ve attended since December (a step up from last year when they always seemed to wind up in sixth). Every member of this 7 person team has won at least one individual award this year. Collectively they have won over a dozen. They don’t just have standout attorneys carrying the team, they have a deep cast of compelling witnesses (Du, Chase, Nugent, and Young-Perez) and a seamless bench.

After making the finals last year with an extraordinarily young team, Yale is undoubtedly hoping their extra year of experience can carry them to a championship. Even now they have only one competing senior: Michael Byrnes, who won a double sided award at ORCS and was named one of the best attorneys in last year’s final round.

Team to Watch - Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry College is the smallest school to make it to nationals, but don’t be deceived by their size, they are a force. Led by AMTA’s president, Frank Gulizza, PHC has been a force to be reckoned with this year. They bring southern charm to a whole new level and really lay it on with thick accents and extreme attention to formality and manners. Patrick Henry is a team which is never flustered, and they are one of the most cool, calm, collected teams in AMTA. Led by strong seniors like Shane Roberts and Brenna Bakke.

Through Regionals and ORCS, their 15-1 record is one of the best we have seen. Their sole ballot drop this year was to Howard B. This is a really interesting ballot to drop. Patrick Henry has played and beaten many other teams, who we would have considered much stronger than Howard B. This coupled with their history of success at regionals and ORCS yet struggles at Nationals gives us reason to be skeptical. But, after sweeping UVA at regionals (only team to sweep any UVA team through regionals and ORCS), we have confidence that this may be a different team, one who can make a very serious Nationals run.



St. Paul:

Possible Champs:
NYU
Rhodes

Expect to place:
UC Berkeley
GT
Northwestern
Harvard
Michigan

Bubble:
Yale B
Indiana
Rutgers
Emory
Furman
UC Irvine A


Initial Thoughts:

This division isn’t quite as scary at the top. It has two very clear front runners after the invitational season: Rhodes and NYU. But after that, the top teams in this division are not as strong as the ones in St. Paul. Harvard, Georgia Tech, and Michigan have all had rocky seasons with a lot of ups and downs this year, making the TPR top five from St. Paul a lot less intimidating than the top five from Minneapolis. Even looking at the top ten teams from this division, Indiana, Yale B, and Emory have all had their rough moments. This means that this division may be ripe for some new teams to break into the very top echelons. Adding to this, we have the fact that neither of last years returning division champions will be in this division so we will have a new face in the final coming out of this group.

That being said this division isn’t a cake walk (if any NCT division can ever be said to be a cakewalk). Unlike the Minneapolis division, St Paul doesn’t have a quality drop off. Teams are pretty consistently good most of the way down the bracket. This means that if you drop ballots you can’t expect to pick them up later with a sweep of a lower ranked team.You have to be consistent all the way through the tournament.


Team to watch - NYU

This year’s NYU team is a seemingly magical combination of polish, style, and creativity. They avoid the pitfalls of many of the most polished and professional teams out there in that they are willing to adapt on the fly and respond to what is happening in trial real time. On the flip side, they avoid the pitfalls of many of the more adaptive teams in that they maintain a high level of professionalism and don’t make the little mistakes you often see from a team like Yale.

They have the advantage of a very experienced bench. Ramos, Baratta, and Isaac are all seniors this year, and all of them have had pretty impressive careers in the last few years. They also manage to have some variation in style among the three attorneys which stops the jury from losing focus. Their witnesses tend to be slightly younger, but especially in a few cases, no less impressive. Linsey China may well be one of the most well awarding expert witnesses in the country and Papa Yaw Sencherey is nearly impossible to dislike.

This is also a team that is not afraid to take risks (a trait that has proved useful for teams at Nationals in recent years). This is a team that was willing to commit to a BOLD defense theory all year that was able to knock teams off their feet who didn’t know how to respond. Teams that can’t adapt should be very, very afraid of hitting NYU at Nationals.

If we have a concern about this team, it’s that Minneapolis may not be their optimal region to play in. NYU has done much better in areas where the judges really appreciate aggressive, bombastic attorneys and over the top witnesses. It is no surprise that they have done extremely well at Downtown in the last few years and then struggled when they had to leave home and play in other regions for Nationals. If this year’s Lancaster is anything to go by, not all judges love their style. If NYU gets the right judges though, they will be unstoppable.


Team to watch - Furman

Furman is another team with that exemplifies strong southern charm. They very rarely run complex or wild theories, although they have been known to be willing to try things other teams won’t (e.g. not calling the defendant in Bancroft/Covington). They run smooth polished cases that focus on a few key points. They have highly sympathetic and charismatic bench of veteran attorneys who very few judges can find serious faults with. This year Furman has the advantage of coming in hungry. Last year, for the first time in many years they failed to make the National Championship Tournament which must have been a shock to this otherwise well oiled system. They seem to have regrouped this year and for a solid performance at both regionals and ORCS.

One of the major things Furman has going for them is a truly stellar infrastructure and coaching staff lead by Glen Halva-Neubauer. This is the program that managed to get five judge panels (an unprecedented feat) for Nationals two years ago. It’s also one of the few programs in the nation that offers full ride mock trial scholarships. While this may not have been enough to get them through to the final round in recent years, it means that they never fall down on the job either. Furman will always be a good team even in years when they are not great. We anticipate a strong performance from Furman this year.

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