There are some strong names in this year's CRC qualifier bracket but there are also a lot of names which means we likely won't see some top match-ups until later in the tournament on Friday and Saturday. Pool play begins on Thursday with the final in the stadium on Saturday.
Pool A: Central Washington, Buffalo, Tulane, Georgetown
Central Washington are such an underrated 7s team. We expect them to dominate this pool and with a good chance of winning the entire tournament. Central Washington fly under the radar because they are somewhat isolated in the Pacific Northwest. We think they are going to surprise a lot of people this go around.
Pool B: Notre Dame College, Harvard, Colgate, Millersville
Notre Dame College barely missed out on qualifying for the CRC last year. They should easily coast through pool play this year. Who finishes second will be up in the air but none are likely to make the quarterfinals.
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Pool C: Lindenwood, St. Bonaventure, Colorado, UNLV
Pool C could see some tighter matches but Lindenwood are expected to be the top team. They have played a lot of 15s recently but their 7s talent is extremely evident. Nick Feakes took home a TIAR Award for Club 7s Player of the Year with his time with the Chicago Lions. Colorado may make some noise. The same goes for St. Bonaventure but making the quarterfinals will be hard.
Pool D: Wheeling Jesuit, Utah Valley, Northeastern, Dixie State
We think that Pool D could have the biggest surprise of the tournament. Utah Valley doesn't get as much attention as their neighbors BYU but they are a talented team. They are also familiar to playing in conditions similar to what they will find in Vegas. Wheeling Jesuit are expected to be the top team but they haven't played a lot of rugby and could be ripe for an upset.
Pool E: James Madison, Clemson, Michigan State, Montana State
James Madison are a good 7s team but they have also lost some of their better players to graduation. Clemson have upped their game the last few years and we think that they will finish first in the pool.
Pool F: Lindenwood-Belleville, Santa Clara, Western Michigan, College of Idaho
Lindenwood-Belleville made it far in last year's tournament and they have only improved in the offseason. They will top this group. Santa Clara could be a surprise and given the Western Michigan and the College of Idaho shouldn't pose much of a threat could grab a quarterfinal spot.
Pool G: Grand Canyon, New England College, Utah State, Colorado State-Pueblo
This is probably the most wide open pool in the field. Grand Canyon is a team on the rise and has been able to recruit good players over the last few years. New England College have also had success. Utah State is another emerging program. Any one of those three teams could break through in the end.
Of the top teams that are expected to make it to the quarterfinals Lindenwood and Central Washington are probably the favorites. Lindenwood-Belleville and Notre Dame College could make the final but it's clear the Lions and the Wildcats are the top teams.