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2019-2020 Way Too Early Top 15

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  • 2019-2020 Way Too Early Top 15

    We have very minimal knowledge about the case for next year and assignments to Regionals/ORCS. Therefore, these rankings are largely based upon returning talent, and not reflective of upset potential or case specific factors. It is impossible to truly predict a full year before the next NCT what the top teams in the nation will be. Please enjoy!

    2019-2020 Way-Too-Early Top 15
    What a season! After months of spirited argument, improbable upsets, and thrilling action, 2018-2019 kept its promises and delivered a year replete with excitement, controversy, and compelling Mock Trial. With the 35th AMTA National Championship Tournament in the books, everyone is feeling a little Mock Trial nostalgia, and we are looking forward to next year. In that spirit, we have put together this Way-Too-Early Top 15 as the first of hopefully several rankings we will do throughout the season. We figured if ESPN does one for College Basketball after the NCAA Tournament, we ought to do one for Mock after NCT. Without further ado, here is your Way-Too-Early Top 15!

    1. Yale University
    Your defending national champions captured their second title overall in the 35th National Final Round this year, and are poised to make a run at it again next year. Though longtime Yale star Elizabeth Bays will be migrating just a few yards away from Yale College to Yale Law School, this team will return Andy Parker and Sam Gross, two incredible rising senior stars, as well as the B and C team competitors who earned bids to ORCS and NCT this year. The experience of those competitors will undoubtedly serve them well as they contend to repeat in 2020. Experienced veterans and rising stars add up to place Yale among the early favorites to reach their 6th consecutive Final Round as a program and keep the trophy stationary in New Haven.

    2. University of Virginia
    Virginia came closer than any other non-division winner to the Final Round this year, as they were just one ballot away from tying Rhodes and forcing a head-to-head tiebreaker in the Temple Law Division that would have sent Sabrina Grandhi and Deniz Tunceli to their third career Final Round. The 2-2 split with Rhodes in Round 4, however, left Virginia right at the doorstep, and marked a second consecutive 2nd-in-division finish for the team from Charlottesville. With Grandhi and Tunceli, the last two non-Yale National Champions competing in AMTA, graduating, UVA will have some personnel to replace. That said, with rising senior Dan Peale and rising junior Raahema Durrani headlining a team that will also return dynamic freshman talent from this season, Virginia will perhaps be even more experienced next year, even with their losses. That's not to say there aren't questions, but if there is any team that can answer them, it is the one led by Toby Heytens, Ryan Faulconer, and a group of competitors both eager to and capable of returning the National Final Round for the third time in five years.

    3. Miami University
    Miami's second-place finish in the Guiliuzza Division this year exceeded expectations, and with only two senior competitors graduating, this team looks poised to make another run in 2020. Spencer Campbell is undoubtedly a tough competitor to replace, but this team is loaded with underclassman talent looking to further the legacy of the 2018 National Champions. Their incredible performance after going 0-4 in Round 1 of NCT against Ohio State, which saw them win 12 consecutive ballots to close out the tournament 12-4, was indisputably remarkable, and that experience will be a powerful lesson to the group of returning competitors which will see them better prepared for next year. Trisha Chatterjee and her fellow rising seniors are on track to lead a group of fresh but tempered talents back to AMTA's greatest stage and potentially return the trophy to Oxford, Ohio.

    4. University of Chicago
    Finishing third in the Temple Law Division at NCT this year, only below perennial contenders Rhodes and UVA, UChicago has plenty of reason for optimism heading into the 2019-2020 Season. Their roster will be packed with rising junior and senior talent next year, headlined by one of the few underclassmen competitors at Trial by Combat this year, Regina Campbell. The most prominent season storyline, in fact, will be how All-American Regina Campbell can lead this team seemingly at one of its best moments in recent history on the upward trajectory toward their potential first Final Round appearance. It certainly will not be easy, but Chicago is in one of the best positions with regard to returning talent in a year when many top programs are losing some of their best competitors in recent memory. That advantage in experience alone is an indication of Chicago's potential for a breakout performance next season.

    5. Rhodes College
    In their third final round appearance in the post-2000 era, and ninth overall, Rhodes fell short of their fifth National Championship, which would have tied Maryland's record for total titles all-time, but acquitted themselves well in a highly contentious tournament. They did enough to split 2-2 with UVA and ensure a win in the Temple Law Division, and positively rolled over UChicago and Georgia Tech in the earlier rounds of the Tournament in a commanding fashion. The greatest question for Rhodes will be how they navigate the post Daniel Elliot and Kelsey McClain era after one defined by the two stellar competitors who are both graduating after a highly successful past four years. Rhodes B earned 8 wins at NCT, which is a promising indication for the future, and there is little doubt that, as always, Rhodes will continue to contend. While not a prohibitive favorite due to their needed replacements, they are certainly one of the top contenders to return to the National Final Round for a record-setting tenth appearance in Chicago next year.

    6. The Ohio State University
    Both Ohio State A and B placed 5th in their respective divisions at NCT this year, which underscores the depth of a program that has yet to appear in a National Final Round. OSU B swept Miami in the first round, and OSU A took 3 ballots from Northwood in their most significant NCT victory. They will graduate several key competitors, but will also return Matthew Bessman and Clay Owens, two competitors who will help continue their contention in the top quarter of the NCT field. With many of their underclassmen getting a strong foundation of competitive experience this year, OSU seems poised for another year of Midwestern dominance and national contention.

    7. Duke University
    Duke's performance at the National Championship Tournament was one of the most captivating of the year. After last year's disappointment at ORCS, the team managed a stunning 11 wins to finish fourth in the Division, behind Rhodes, UVA, and Chicago, and after hitting UVA in Round 3 of the Tournament. Rising seniors Tristan Malhotra and Sonali Mehta will return next year along with another group of young, newly NCT-experienced competitors who will look to continue the turnaround for this program by breaking into the Top 3 in their division next year. With only one competitor graduating overall, Duke is in a great position to begin the 2019-2020 campaign, one in which they will be a contender for a place among the top 6 teams in the nation.

    8. University of California, Los Angeles
    Finishing at 7th in the Guiliuzza Division, UCLA did not meet expectations at this year's NCT. With Jonathan Kuang off to Trial by Combat and then his future, there will be questions for UCLA in the offseason as well as in the fall as they attempt to learn from the lessons of this year's Tournament. UCLA is, no matter how they finish at NCT the previous year, always a team to be reckoned with, and with perhaps one of the best witness lineups of any team on this list, they are certainly equipped to return to the Top 5 in their Division next year if not higher. With a host of underclassmen competing on five different teams throughout Regionals this year, UCLA has unparalleled depth, an asset in a season that will see many of the nation's top competitors recently graduated.

    9. Cornell University
    With a third place finish in the Guiliuzza Division, Cornell capped off an excellent season, one which saw senior Stephen Torres at the height of his competitive career and the team finish 11-4-1, losing or tying ballots only to Yale and UCLA. With Stephen Torres graduating, though, the future of this team is up in the air, and it is up to Cornell's underclassmen to replace him. Cornell B qualified for NCT this year, and though they finished 6-9-1, their advancement through the Central Islip ORCS is certainly worthy of celebration. If that strong qualification is combined with the experience of current A Team competitors, then Cornell may well continue to be a force in the NCT Field and return to the Top 5 in their division next year.

    10. Patrick Henry College
    Patrick Henry was undeniably excellent at NCT, bouncing back from an 0-3-1 Round 1 against South Carolina to decidedly defeat Stanford in their round against Jack Seigenthaler and Company. The passion and perseverance this team has shown throughout ORCS and NCT are beyond commendable, and indeed, there are few words to describe the intangible dedication and fortitude that have been evident throughout that time. Next year, empowered by returning NCT-experienced competitors and the continued presence of that dedication, PHC will be a force to be reckoned with both within their own region and nationally.

    11. Columbia University
    Columbia finished 6th in the three-way tie at 10.5 wins in the Guiliuzza Division, including split 2-2 results against UMBC and Cal, who both . appear later on this list. The reason that Columbia appears before either is the sheer amount of rising senior talent on this team, which rivals perhaps any in the nation. If this group of mostly juniors earned 10.5 wins at this NCT, there's no telling what experience and another year and development could afford them at the next NCT. For that alone, they deserve a place among the Top 15 contenders heading into next season.

    12. University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    In Round 4, UMBC was in the top paired round against Yale, a round where they took two ballots. Though they ultimately finished 8th in the Division, their 10 wins, 4 of which came against Yale and Columbia, are quite the accomplishment for this young team from Maryland. In a year in which many top programs will be rebuilding and restructuring after the graduations of TBC-caliber talent, UMBC will retain rising junior Sydney Gaskins as well as many of the other key players in their NCT run this year. With Gaskins and the team a year more experienced, next year could provide a great deal of promise for UMBC, and Coach Ben Garmoe and his wide array of beneficial contributions to the team will also be back for a season to remember.

    13. University of California, Berkeley
    This team from the East Bay was incredibly impressive at NCT this year, finishing in 9th just behind UMBC with 10 wins. Their 6 losses came in successive 2-2 rounds against UMBC, Georgetown, and Columbia, three more than worthy opponents. There is no doubt that Berkeley will continue to be a power in West Coast Mock next season, but with Smita Balaji and Fatima Hasanain graduating, Cal's group of younger competitors will have to step up in the fall. Fortunately, rising senior competitor Jenny Jang will be back for her senior season, joined by rising juniors Gubir Singh and Jennifer Jones, all of whom gained valuable NCT experience this year. With that experience and skill, expect the Golden Bears in Chicago and potentially further up the final division results in 2020.

    14. Stanford University
    Admittedly, Stanford had a rough NCT, splitting 2-2 with Georgetown and then dropping 3 ballots to both Patrick Henry and Ohio State B. That said, this is a team with great potential, and motivated by their A team not earning a bid this year out of ORCS, they will be back energized next season. Losing Jack Seigenthaler is never going to be an easy challenge to surmount, but Stanford certainly has the potential to surmount it with a couple of NCT-experienced rising seniors returning, along with eight rising sophomores who will reinvigorate the team. Suffice it say, Stanford may well look different next year, but this year will likely prove an essential foundation for potential success.

    15. New York University
    The fifteenth team on our list did not compete at NCT, and has been through its share of challenges this season. We, however, are not here to re-raise those points, we are here to talk about next season, and NYU has the potential to return to national contention. Rising senior star Papa Yaw Sencherey will take charge of a team looking for some Duke-style (or UVA in the NCAA Tournament style) redemption next season. He will be greatly aided in that quest by rising sophomore and this year's breakout freshman sensation Tiffany Tam, who will return to help steer the ship of NYU Mock toward its future. If this team is future-focused and taps into its considerable resources, it could well return not only to NCT, but to the forefront of the national conversation.

  • #2
    OSU A vs Northwood ended in a 2-2 split.


    • #3
      I'm surprised to not see top-tier programs like Emory, Northwestern, or Wesleyan on this list. Especially when all three of the programs I mentioned sent two teams to the NCT and had a top 10 finish. They should all also have plenty of returning members with Nationals experience.


      • #4
        Northwestern in particular I think deserves to be on this list. While they do lose some very talented seniors like Nick Anderson, they also have a ton of super talented freshmen who were winning awards all year. They've also got some great coaches (two former AMTA competitors) who do a fantastic job of running the program. They'll be a force to be reckoned with next year.


        • #5
          I largely agree with the appearance of all of these teams on this list. I, however, would put an asterisk by some of these teams.

          First, Miami. I don't think one can just overlook Ohio State's B team taking all four ballots from Miami's A team when factoring in their nationals performance, especially considering Miami had the tournament's notorious plaintiff bias on their side that round. Yes, Miami did take the next 12 consecutive ballots. Yes, it's a commendable feat for any team to be able to sweep three consecutive rounds. However, I think it is important to remember that with power pairing, getting swept 4-0 in the first round does give them a less difficult strength of schedule to work with than had they swept that first round. Furthermore, the two seniors they're graduating are All-American witness and last year's championship winner Spencer Campbell, and attorney Katie Milders. The dominance we've seen Miami maintain over the Midwest in the past may be slipping, all things considered, and I would be wary to immediately rank them 3rd.

          Next, Rhodes. In a program as established as this one, I personally do not believe that the graduation of two superstar competitors in McClain and Elliot will mark the end of an era. After missing the LA NCT's final round by a CS tiebreaker and last year's final round by a single ballot, they dominated their way into this year's final round. Their A team's constant push toward the fifth round combined with the perennially strong performance of the top ranked B team in the country, they're not lacking talent in any way. The consistently competitive identity of this Rhodes program, along with the clean sweep of Chicago that was mentioned by OP would have me place Rhodes higher in these rankings.

          Though you're correct that Ohio State hasn't made a single 5th round appearance yet, it seems as though each year they become closer to making that appearance. This year in particular, were it not for their A team's tough splits with Northwood and Wesleyan, what seems to always be out of reach for them might have become reality. For their B team, taking 4 ballots off of defending champions Miami in the first round and 3.5 ballots off of last year's 3rd place in Stanford in the last round indicates a depth of talent never before seen. This program seems to be worth keeping an eye on next year, and it certainly doesn't seem as though they will be horribly affected after this year's class graduates. I would rank them higher.

          UMBC is a program that, until very recently, hadn't been a competitive power. This year changed that. Taking two 1st place finishes in the invitational season, 2nd at the Owings Mills regionals, and 3rd at the Richmond ORCS, they went into nationals hungry for more. Indeed, their top paired matchup against Yale in the fourth round of the Guliuzza division evidenced their rapid rise to power. Returning recently crowned All-American and 2019 TBC competitor Sydney Gaskins, I would be hard-pressed to believe UMBC lets up on their push toward the 5th round at nationals next year. I think they deserve to move up.

          With Stanford losing decorated seniors in Jack Seigenthaler and John Liu, it would be fair to assume at first glance that they would lose their success too. In reality, it would be a disservice to the overwhelmingly underclassmen team that qualified Stanford to the 2019 NCT in the first place, and to the many underclassmen that formed their NCT team. I think the key part in your analysis to focus on would be their 8 rising sophomores. Stanford had the 5th highest CS in the Guliuzza division, and otherwise still had a strong showing, narrowly missing out on an honorable mention. This young, talented team has a lot to look forward to, and I think they should be ranked higher.
          Last edited by WitnessTheAttorney; April 11th, 2019, 03:35 PM.


          • #6
            Originally posted by WitnessTheAttorney View Post

            First, Miami. I don't think one can just overlook Ohio State's B team taking all four ballots from Miami's A team when factoring in their nationals performance, especially considering Miami had the tournament's notorious plaintiff bias on their side that round. Yes, Miami did take the next 12 consecutive ballots. Yes, it's a commendable feat for any team to be able to sweep three consecutive rounds. However, I think it is important to remember that with power pairing, getting swept 4-0 in the first round does give them a less difficult strength of schedule to work with than had they swept that first round. Furthermore, the two seniors they're graduating are All-American witness and last year's championship winner Spencer Campbell, and attorney Katie Milders. The dominance we've seen Miami maintain over the Midwest in the past may be slipping, all things considered, and I would be wary to immediately rank them 3rd.
            Just as an anecdote on OSU B taking all the ballots of Miami....I saw OSU B at Regionals. I saw Miami A, UVA A, Northwood, Columbia, and Berkely at the NCT. I thought OSU B was the best team I saw all year. Them taking all the ballots off of Miami isn't really a knock against Miami in my eyes, just shows how freaking good OSU B was this year (and probably will be next year cause I do not think they are graduating too many kids).