The College 7s Nationals kick off in a couple of days. The field is pretty straightforward with St. Mary's and Lindenwood heavy favorites but there could be a few surprises elsewhere. Here is a pool by pool breakdown.
Pool A: St. Mary's, Bowling Green, James Madison, Fordham
St. Mary's could be challenged in this pool but they are still expected to win by large margins. The Gaels have a great stable of back line players led by Dylan Audsley. They may not have had time to get a lot of 7s training in with their 15s season just concluding a couple of weeks ago but they have plenty of 7s experience. Even if it's rough getting back into 7s form the Gaels should easily progress from the pool and from there could gain a rhythm that pushes them into the final.
Even though the Gaels are expected to dominant the pool has several teams that could be a surprise. James Madison certainly has had their success in the past. They've lost some players to graduation but the good coaching is there. Bowling Green are also well coached. They are several years removed from their 7s glory years but can still make the top eight. Fordham will likely struggle.
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Pool B: Lindenwood, Grand Canyon, Wyoming, Stanford
Like in Pool A, Lindenwood are the heavy favorites to win this pool and to make it to the final. The Lions have played some fantastic 7s over the last few years and are maybe in their best form yet. Head coach Josh Macy has them playing well and together. Look especially for Nick Feakes to have a fantastic tournament.
Aside from Lindenwood this pool could offer some of the best talent. Grand Canyon are a very good, underrated team. They have done a great job recruiting over the last few years and have some All-Americans on their roster. We think they are favorites to take second in the pool. Wyoming and Stanford may have something to say about that. Wyoming have always been a solid team. Just last year they had cody Jerebek and they could produce another solid player like that. Stanford are always organized and in 7s tournaments organized teams always have an advantage.
Pool C: Ohio State, Arkansas, Santa Clara, Florida International
For us, this is the most wide open pool in the tournament. Ohio State will be the favorites on paper and they will likely get one of the top two spots but they could also be the big name team left out. That all depends on how Arkansas and Santa Clara come on. Santa Clara bring in a lot of players with experience in 7s in California. Arkansas has post-season 15s experience which could be very useful. Unfortunately Florida International will likely struggle.
Pool D: Davenport, Utah, Kansas State, Texas A&M
This pool has two teams considered favorites and could even be dark horses to make the final in Davenport and Utah. It's been a bit of a down year for Davenport in 15s thanks to some graduations but they always have a number of players that can turn it on in 7s. Our pick for the pool winner is Utah. They may not have played much 7s this year but they are loaded with good talent. People consistently underrate the talent in Utah but from top to bottom the teams in the state are excellent. Kansas State and Texas A&M will likely finish in the bottom two.