Friday, April 14, 2017

Preview: Varsity Cup Quarterfinals

After a first round that mostly saw lopsided results the Varsity Cup returns for the quarterfinals. This round should be much closer although there will be heavy favorites.

Cal vs. Clemson

Cal are the heavy favorites to win the whole tournament but they face a tricky trip to Clemson this Saturday. Travelling across the country can be difficult but Cal do a decent amount of travelling during the regular season so they should be used to it. They have also had several weeks off to rest up. Cal are so deep and they have been playing some great rugby recently. It would be one of the biggest shocks in college rugby if they were to lose the match. Clemson can pull off the upset and their tough Mid-South season should help but they are going to need something special to happen to win.

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The match will start at 1:00 p.m. et/10:0 a.m. pt and will be shown live on Clemson's Facebook page.

Penn State vs. Army

This is highly likely to be the closest match of the first round. Both Penn State and Army are very familiar with each other having been rivals for quite a while. The two teams met last October with Penn State wining. Each team has players that fly under the radar nationally. Malcolm May is excellent for Penn State while Jake Lachina does a lot for Army. We're expecting this to be a relatively wide open match. Both teams have put up some big scorelines and their fitness is solid. If we had to give the edge to one team it would be Penn State. They were impressive on their tour of the British Isles and we think that form carries over.

This match will be available on YouTube and will start at 1:00 p.m. et/10:00 a.m. pt.

Central Washington vs. Navy

Of all of the matches in the first round this one seems like it has the potential for an upset. Without question Central Washington are the favorites. They have beaten some very good Pacific Northwest teams this year and have challenged themselves against BYU and beat Lindenwood. The Wildcats are for real and can put a scare into Cal, possibly even pull off the upset, in the final but they have to get their first. Travelling across the country is always difficult. They are also going to face a fit Navy team that has tested themselves as well. That said, Central Washington has traveled a lot this year and they have the tools to do very well. We think they come away with the win.

Utah Valley vs. Arkansas State

Hopefully a stream for this matches emerges somewhere because it has the potential to be a lot of fun. Utah Valley beat UCLA last week in convincing fashion. We've been saying it for years but Utah has some serious talent ad it's on display with UVU. Additionally, Utah Valley is the largest school in Utah in terms of enrollment. They are pulling from a large student body that doesn't have a football team. They have plenty of athletes and plenty of players with experience.

Similarly, Arkansas State has plenty of athletes and players with experience. The team has been rejuvenated this year after several years of rebuilding and it feels like they might be able to do something special in the Varsity Cup. They may even be a threat to make it to the final. The Red Wolves acquitted themselves well in the Mid-South this year and are accustomed to top competition. That said, they are going to face a different style in the open play of Utah Valley.

This has the potential for another upset but when all is said and done we think Arkansas State pulls this one out albeit narrowly.

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