College Dance Team Central

Friday, January 12, 2007

UDA College Nationals Preview - Division I

With the UDA College Nationals upon us, College Dance Team Central previews the upcoming weekend with predictions from Dave Sanchez from the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group. As moderator of one of the longest running sites devoted to all levels of dance competition, Dave takes a look at the Division I Dance and Hip-Hop squads below.

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I think the California teams separated themselves a little bit last year and, on paper, they should be right back on top. We have eleven returning finalists though and six returning semifinalists. Two former finalists are also competing and so that is everybody but South Alabama who last competed in 2005 – no newcomers in this division at all.

1. Cal-State Fullerton (Pictured): They came back strong last year and I, again, think their toughest competition will come from Long Beach State University. They had a great routine last year and as long as they can match that – they should be hoisting another trophy for SoCal.

2. Long Beach St: They struggled a little bit last year and still ended up all the way in 2nd. I don't know why they had so many issues with polishing their routine but, even then, they should be right back at the top with a good shot to win it all with a cleaner performance.

3. Sam Houston State: They kind of took their foot off the gas pedal last year after winning it all in 2005. They have always have great execution and they have never been worse than 4th in the past five years.

4. (SW) Missouri State: Another great taping score which didn't mean as much as it should have last year. Fourth place is their highest finish since 2000 – let's see if they can match that.

5. Delaware: Delaware has been in the Top Five for five of the last six years and even the year they were 7th – I thought they should have finished higher. I look for them to be in contention again.

6. SE Louisiana: They have been a little erratic in the Dance division – soaring as high as 3rd place in 2003 and 2006 but then missing finals in 2001 and 2005. Tough to predict how they will\ do without more information.

7. Hofstra University: Hofstra had been a solid presence in the Top Five until last year when they had a great contemporary routine that just did not go over well with the judges. I wish they would continue along in that vein and pump up the difficulty a little bit – they had my favorite dance in Division 1 – with the possible exception of Fullerton – they just need to show off dance technique a little more.

8. George Mason: George Mason had their highest finish ever last year and they have been very slowly and steadily moving up the ranks. It is hard to pick them this low because they definitely have Top Five potential but all of the teams that I have ranked above them (with the exception of Missouri State) have all shown the ability to soar into the Top Three. I hope the Masonettes make me regret picking them so low – they have finished higher than 8th every year since 2001 so I am taking a risk here.

9. James Madison: A great debut last year in 8th place – there are just a lot of really good teams that have shown more potential in recent years.

10. Northern Iowa: I feel a lot better about UNI now that I know they are doing a different Dance for Nationals than they did for the Iowa State competition. After patiently competing in semifinals for at least five years they finally broke into finals last year in 10th place. I could see them repeating that finish – but not much more. They are good though.

11. St. John's: An overrated 3rd in 2005 and then they don't make finals in 2006. There are not too many of the remaining teams that St. John's record of recent success but I think they will end up back at the low end of the finalist pack where they were in 2003 and 2004.

12. Oakland University: They were a solid 7th last year. After a long slow fall from 2nd place in 2001, they finally reversed the trend and made some forward progress in 2006. It is a tough crowd ahead of them though.

13. Illinois-Chicago: It has been a long time since the glory days and they haven't competed in Dance since 2003 but they still have some pedigree.

14. Howard University: They had a strong debut last year – it was just that the choreography was kind of odd for a UDA competition – it kind of looked like an old school Team Performance routine. But, they had a lot of talented dancers and if they conformed their look a little more to what UDA wants to see – they could make it into finals. Dance technique was pretty good – better than a few of the teams that finished ahead of them last year.

15. Northern Arizona: They always make finals – every time they have competed since 2000. They have had two years off though and the competition has gotten a lot tougher since then.


16. Wisconsin-Milwaukee: They have had a hard time making it out of the semifinal round -- but they have lots of Nationals experience and a high score in taping.

17. Fordham: They were looking for a coach earlier this year so I am not sure they can break back into finals.

18. Southern Illinois: Two years in a row they have been in semis – this a tough crowd to try to break into finals with.

19. Duquesne: After four years in the Open Division and not making finals they step up to Division 1. It doesn't getting any easier here.

20. South Alabama: They have only been competing every other year and they still have not made finals.


This division will continue to be the death of me. Last year this was actually very closely matched – at least in my eyes. We have five returning finalists (there were only six finalists in 2006) and five returning semifinalists. We have one former finalist returning and four teams making their Division 1 Hip-Hop debuts.

1. Long Beach State (Pictured): As long as they make finals I will be ahead of where I was last year when the team I picked in first place – yes that would be you Missouri State Sugar Bears – didn't even make finals. With Fullerton not competing Long Beach State should have the talent to win it all. Or at least come close.

2. Southeast Louisiana: After a rough showing in 2005, SE Louisiana came back with vengeance in 2006. I don't think they can match the talent level that I expect from Long Beach St. –- but they are good.

3. Hofstra: They have never been worse than 2nd and I think they had a fairly clear win last year. They did well in their most recent competition but I think they will have to step it up to retain their title.

4. Delaware: I am picking them 4th again but they should definitely be up there.

5. James Madison: They had a solid debut last year and I look for them to keep themselves in the Top Five in 2007.

6. St. Joseph's: Never worse than 4th and they only do Hip-Hop. Problem is – the competition keeps getting tougher.

7. (SW) Missouri State: I am going to give them another chance even though they have a bad draw and even though they just about single-handedly cost me the College Challenge last year. Don't make me regret my faith in you, Sugar Bears.

8. St. John's: I don't know what happened to them last year but I hope they bounce back to their 2005 level.

9. Oakland University: They took 5th in 2005 and they have been a consistent presence in the finals in the Dance division.

10. Howard University: They had a pretty decent debut last year in the Dance division. Even though their routine was not really in a UDA-acceptable style – they showed a lot of promise – certainly enough promise to break into the Top Ten here – as long as they kept a close eye on what is "in" at UDA.

Also competing:

11. Southern Illinois: They were 8th in 2005.

12. Illinois Chicago: They were 9th in 2005.

13. Wisconsin-Milwaukee: That 2004 title sure looks like a long time ago now.

14 . Fordham: They let me down in 2006. They had such a great stage presence in 2005 and, you know, they are from the Bronx. I thought they were going to be a shoo-in for Hip-Hop finals. But no. First Jennifer Lopez, then the Yankees and now the Fordham dance team. I'm telling you, the Bronx owes me.

15. Northern Arizona: They are actually a good team – and they have had some success at this competition -- it is just that there are no pushovers in this division.


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