NDT 2016 Like No Other

At least not like the last seven years.  For starters, a team from Northwestern or Georgetown did not make it to finals. The last year that didn’t happen was 2009; ironically, the last year a Kansas team won the NDT.  Congratulations to Kansas RB and Harvard HS for advancing to the last round. Though both schools have excellent credentials for debate, neither school has had a team in the finals since the aforementioned 2009 and remarkably, as competitive as Harvard teams have been over the years under Sherry and Dallas, the last time Harvard made it to finals was in 1995 when they placed second and the last time they won it all was 26 years ago.  Congratulations to Harvard HS for bringing glory back to Harvard and to Hemanth Sanjeev for his 3rd speaker finish.

No, the 2016 NDT is not like any another.  For the first time in history, probably, although I don’t know for sure, a freshman made it to the finals – Sion Bell, who debated at the TOC last year. In fact, I would guess the Kansas freshman/sophomore tandem of Bell and Robinson (Robinson earned the 6th speaker award) are the youngest team to ever reach finals at the NDT.  And it was a young final round.  Harvard’s Sanjeev himself is only a sophomore. In fact, there were quite a number of teams this year with freshman reps who won a number of rounds and a respectable number of ballots, including Emory FL, an all freshman team with 5 wins and 17 ballots.  Based on TOC records from 2015, there were at least 13 teams with freshmen debaters at the 2016 NDT.

This NDT was the one with the first team to make it to finals who did not get a first round bid.  And if Kansas BR, the team in reference, had won, it would have been an enormous upset after they dropped all 6 rounds in previous tournaments during the season to Harvard HS, who ranked as the top team of the year and won the Copeland Award.

Congratulations to Sherry Hall, the 2016 Unger Award Winner and to her team Harvard HS (David Herman and Hemanth…

Posted by National Debate Tournament (NDT) on Saturday, April 2, 2016 

And though Kansas lost on a 5-0, it was a good round watched by a number of debate enthusiasts from around the country – nearly 1,000 watched the stream on debate vision.

This NDT is the one in which the Kentucky squad made a splash with three teams who won 16 prelim rounds and 50 ballots.  Only one 3 team squad had more wins and ballots – Emory with 17 wins and 51 ballots.  Both Emory and Kentucky had teams advance to the Elim rounds.  Kentucky GN made it to Quarters – Grasse earned 9th speaker; impressively, all three Emory teams made it to Doubles; KS to Octos.

One could argue that the best two team delegation was UC Berkeley with 12 prelim wins and 37 ballots, more wins than Baylor’s three team slate and more ballots than the Texas trio.  In fairness, both squads had Freshmen debaters, who with their partners each won 3 rounds, which is nothing to be ashamed of – Baylor BC earned 12 ballots. Berkeley SM reached Octos and SW, Quarters.  John Spurlock took the top speaker award; Srinidhi Muppalla earned the 18th speaker; Sergent-Leventhal and Wimsatt earned the 4th and 13th speakers respectively.

The strongest 1 team slate would go to Vermont BL with 6 prelim wins and 17 ballots going into Doubles. Taylor Brough earned 2nd speaker.

Congratulations to all the debaters at the 2016 NDT.  Well-done!  Now, go get some rest.



Likely NDT 2016 National Champion

March Madness of Another Kind


In the East, watch out for Kentucky and Michigan; in the  Midwest, Michigan State is a lock.  Over in the South, I like Cal’s chances and in the West, well, if pressed, I’d say Baylor, who last won the championship in, is due, but don’t count Texas out just yet. The last time one of these teams won a National Championship was back in 2008, when two speedy tacticians, Jacob Polin and Michael Burshteyn smoked the field.  The tandem of Spurlock and Muppala aim to bring back the glory.

Yes, it’s March madness, but not that one in Houston.  I’m talking about the one in Binghamton.  Haven’t you heard?  The 2016 National Debate Tournament.  And it looks to be a good one.  I actually don’t know which teams will ultimately compete, but most of the schools listed have teams that were issued first round at large bids which means they qualified for the tournament. Last year, Northwestern took the prize, as they’ve done quite often over the past few decades, but this year, they will face stiff competition from the likes of Harvard, Michigan State, Kansas, Georgetown, Emory and Vermont.  Yes, Vermont feels the Bern, or I should say the Brough and Lee.

Kansas, Baylor, Michigan St., Kentucky, Cal, Texas, Gonzaga, Iowa, Oklahoma, Weber St., Indiana, USC,  and Michigan all have teams in the NCAA tournament and most will also have delegations competing at the NDT.  Wouldn’t it be something if a school brought home two nationals championships during March Madness?  And it could happen.  My prediction:  Michigan State.