Who’s Number 1? An AACS perspective

As the Bible Quiz year is approaching its conclusion, I typically take this opportunity to reflect on whom I thought were the best teams of the year. While my Friday edition of a “Smart Man’s Top Ten” will include 7 teams that you may argue, I have concluded that the top three will undoubtedly be the three teams whose years have not yet finished. While even I am unsure of the order in which I will put them, I am excited that the unquestioned top three teams are the last three standing.

All three of these teams have championship pedigree and were in the top three at AACS last year. In fact, these three teams have beaten all comers at AACS. Only Texas beat any of these three in any individual quiz, and that was only New York once. While everyone expected Kentucky to improve from last year, most expected Florida and New York to have somewhat of a rebuilding year. Nevertheless, all have had fantastic years. Let me take this opportunity to predict what will happen and evaluate the case that each has for #1.

New York
While I believe them to be the team slated for third place for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they already have a low, they are also the toughest team to evaluate. Here’s why. They exemplify the concept of peaking in April. Not since the days of only one big tournament has a team consistently put together a team this much better for Big Week. I think at least some of this is due to the fact that they start their learning relatively late and then some of it is definitely due to the fact that they split their teams until AACS.

Even still, they were very respectable early. According to my research, they got 6th (and 10th) at Athens NYC and 7th (and 10th) at Colorado. Two teams in the top 10 could very well be equivalent to a top five finish. Even still, they were just outside of the top five in both, and yet they still improved. As Startup wrote, they looked very solid in a win at the DC tournament. They finished second at SCQANIT and some thought that they gave Pleasant View a real run for first by giving Pleasant View three middle wins.

If they win AACS, they certainly could argue that AACS is more important that SCQANIT and they should not be evaluated against Kentucky in other two tournaments, because they were split. The strength of this argument is of course that whatever happens last is the most accurate of how you finished the year. The weakness of the argument dates back to November, when at the Midseason, Kentucky split their team also and both of them finished higher than the best New York team.

This team is easier to evaluate than New York, but still tougher than Kentucky. Florida had one of the weirdest years of which I can think. Their string of consecutive FQA tournaments won was snapped. They finished lower at NYC than last year much to the amazement of everyone else. They skipped SCQANIT causing many to speculate that the rumor of a dropoff was truth. Their middle school team lost the finals for the first time in three years (they got 2nd). Their elementary team is not the favorite at the finals later this week. Nevertheless, they did better than ever at Colorado. They had a MUCH better Tuesday at AACS than last year. I had hoped that this team could do well, but I feared that I may be disappointed with my home state, as I thought they could not possibly reach the level of last year. While they have shown a few more holes than last year, they have also done very well against Pleasant View.

By my records, they quizzed head to head 9 times. Five of these were at NYC. One in the Round Robin where FL got high and KY got middle. Three were in quizzing before getting into the gym. FL got two highs and one middle, while Pleasant View got a high, a middle, and a low (with Old Paths getting the middle). Yet, Florida choked in the gym and lost (once to Kentucky). And while some of that can be blamed on acoustics and sight line, at least some of it must be blamed on their own failures. They then quizzed four times at Colorado. Once in the Round Robin, where Kentucky beat Florida by 30 points. Once was in Quiz #22 where Florida won by 120 points (with SC clinching the middle). Once was in Quiz #26 where Florida won by 70 points. Finally, in the two team final where Kentucky won by 10. So, by my calculations Florida is 5-4 against Kentucky.

I might be off on a quiz or two, but the fact remains that they have been relatively equal in head to head. How equal were they? They outscored every team at Colorado by at least 450 points and there was only 10 points difference between them. At AACS it was even closer. Before the final, they both had all high wins and the exact same number of points. They haven’t gone head to head there yet, but my gut tells me that they will once before they have a best-of-three for all the proverbial marbles.

When looking at Florida’s quest for #1, we are left with more questions than answers, however. If we are giving New York credit for splitting, then should we not value their two teams in the top 7 at NYC? What about their absense from the FQA sponsored Midseason in West Virginia and DC Invitational, not to mention SCQANIT? Why did they skip so many tournaments? Can we count a non-attendence on the same level as a loss? Should we neglect head to head evaluation and just say tournament titles? And then which FBCCF tournaments actually count (the FQA events)? Can a team winning back-to-back AACS titles not be #1?

Florida did not attend the huge SCQANIT and has not been able to win the big quizzes at either CI or NYC. This will be the main argument against them in their quest for #1 on my ballot. Their main argument for it is that they have been right around the top and if they win AACS, they conclude their knocking on the door with a big slam down.

Ever since winning Colorado of last year, everyone has pointed to this year’s AACS as the time Kentucky would rule the Bible Quiz universe. They have won the last four major tournaments at which their best team has been together. They are very easy to evaluate. The only tournament where they haven’t placed as high as possible was the FQA’s Midseason. And this was largely because one of the teams that beat them was their own team. Jesse Startup and his UCF mates are the only team that beat them in a tournament (and it was a split team that they beat). Only three teams, outside of Florida, can claim they beat Kentucky in a single quiz all year. And all three of them won a vast minority of the quizzes against Kentucky.

If Kentucky wins, there is no argument. They are #1. They will be the first team ever to win NYC, SCQANIT, and AACS in the same year. They have already claimed the best brother/sister combo since the West family, surpassing the Keenans with tournament wins already, and they are still in 9th and 10th grade. We could be watching the beginning of a dynasty. Of course, if they lose, we could be watching the end of one. This is one of my favorite quiz teams to watch. They seem to have the proper perspective and importance for Bible Quiz.

While Big Week is always awesome, it is a shame that people need to lose. I really think that New York loses the first quiz. If they don’t, I really believe that whoever gets that first loss will have a real hard time winning two in a row. But, I think Kentucky and Florida will quiz three times in a two team quiz. I am not sure who will win twice. My brain says “Kentucky has won the big quizzes this year, even when faltering just before them.” My heart says “Abigail, Praiselynn, and the Worship Crew of Florida have never lost a quiz at AACS.” While the quizzers have proven about equal this year, I think it may come down to coaching. Both coaches are relatively new to the Bible Quiz scene, though I suspect that Doug Raynes and Matt West will provide help, and both are very experienced. I am going with my heart (however stupid that may be) and I am picking Florida to win two team quizzes to one (though I think they will middle win the three team quiz).

Since we can’t all be in South Carolina on Thursday, David Poston, Matt West, and some other recruited people will be doing question by question updates of the final quizzes at AACS. Hopefully it will be as much fun to watch the score online as watching the quizzing has been in years past.

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