|St. George's London||175||145||30|
* NB - Italics indicates a team in the play offs
So looking at the table it seems that our view that this is something of a lower scoring series than some of recent years seems to be borne out by the facts. There’s no score over 300, for a start. Looking at the other end of the table the lowest winning score is quite a bit lower than last year’s. So it’s quite possibly true that the questions have generally been a notch harder.
As regards the teams themselves, well, let’s cover ourselves with the caveat that first round form can be unreliable as a guide, and then let’s pick out some of the teams who are likely to do well. UCL, Durham, New College Oxford and Imperial all seem likely candidates for progression to the quarter final round. In particular I point you towards New College who managed 230 despite their opposition scoring 145 of their own points, and earning their own place in the play offs. The other three teams I mentioned all racked up very large winning margins against teams who , to be harsh but frank, couldn’t really manage to live with them. There’s less than 100 points separating the top 11 teams , which seems to promise some close matches in round 2. In fact I think you can go all the way down to Lancaster – who are underdogs in their play off against Lincoln college – before you get to teams who look unlikely to progress further. Just look at last year. Losing finalists Pembroke actually had the 11th best performance in the first round.Reigning champions Manchester are some way down the table, and yet they have a fantastic record of getting through to at least the quarter finals. So it’s difficult to pick winners now.
One thing you can say, though, is that any team which can improve upon its bonus conversion rate from the first round will be in with a pretty good chance. It’s all up for grabs.