#2 vs #238. Possible?

I’m at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions (NITOC) right now,* and I just have to share with you a story. It’s about as exciting a story as a story can get.

Speech and Debate Decal

I must preface this story with a disclaimer: I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the #1 and #2 team in the nation. They are top notch and deserve to be at the top. They’re seeded at the top of NITOC (meaning they go against the bottom teams), which is a position rightly won and earned throughout the competitive year.

But top seed (#1 and #2) didn’t come to NITC.**
Bottom seed (#238) did.
Bring it on.

We coached the #238 team, a brother/sister team from Ohio. They barely earned an invitation to nationals. Going into NITOC, they knew full well they were going to be matched against at least one of the top two teams. If there were an even number of teams, they’d hit #1. If there was an odd number, they’d hit #2 (the top seed would be privileged with the first bye of the tournament).

That’s a tough arena to enter. You’d think this would demoralize and frustrate the team — and they certainly had a fair amount of fear in them — but the underdog from NITC has taken out the #1 before (it happened in 2010 and 2011, see here).

Impossible odds? Pretty much.
Absolutely impossible? Don’t even think it.

My coaches, the #238 team and I were in this for the win. We coached them all weekend vowing to give them the best they could take with them into their first round.

Here’s how it went down.

Turns out that there were an odd number of teams. The #1 team got the bye. My team hit the #2 team head-to-head. We went negative. A key focus to NITC is negative briefing, so they had prepped and was prepared for action.

The verdict is still out, but I texted someone who watched and asked her about the round. Her general impression was extremely positive. She texted back:

“They were a very good team. However, we put up some good argumentation! Could easily go either way.”

Keep in mind, this is #2 vs. #238. Anything short of “Oh my, we got slaughtered” is good. That its a toss up? Totally awesome! What a wonderful testimony to the NITC camp.

I posted this on my Facebook profile. Guess who “liked” it? The #1 team who got the bye.

Better believe it, baby.

*If you’re here, stop by our table in the student lounge. I’ve got a bunch of information for you.

**NITC stands for the “Nationals Intensive Training Camp,” a two-day camp I lead the weekend before the national tournament. This week we’re participating in the Stoa national tournament. Next month is NCFCA. If you qualified, I highly recommend it (see article above). Click here for more details.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mark

    Or it’s just another case of “any team can win on any given day.” It’s really not that uncommon for big-name debaters to lose to lower seeded/less esteemed teams. It happens, and to pull one result out of the pile and say “this is due in part to the NITC” is difficult to support.

    There are a lot of really awesome reasons to go to the NITC (and even having the confidence to say “hey, we may have beat the second-ranked team in the nation” gives one of those reasons), but claiming upsets isn’t one of them.

    • Happens “quite often”? No, the odds are definitely in the favor of the top seed. It’s pretty exciting when the bottom beats the odds, Mark, but you’re stretching to say it’s common.

      Unless you’re referring to my campers. Then I guess it is sort of common. 😉

  • Here’s an update. Our bottom seeded team broke to outrounds.

    This means that not only did they pound through the highest ranked teams in the tournament, they came out with enough wins to advance at the top invitational tournament in the league.


  • The tournament is over. The results are in. The ballots reveal that my Black/Black team from Ohio #238 in the nation who is supposed to be matched against the best in the nation…WON THEIR FIRST TWO BALLOTS.

    There were a lot of other victories to be proud of, but I think this takes the cake.

  • Debi Chapman

    Hey! That’s OUR van! 🙂