PureDWTS Season 18, Week 6/7 – Let’s Talk Team Dance Picks

So if my spidey sense is correct, the teams for the team dances next week will probably get picked immediately after the show tonight, and they’ll head directly into rehearsal immediately after that – and there are a number of ways the teams could get divided up.  Since so many of you were chomping at the bit to start discussing it in detail after my “What Left to Dance?” post – here’s a place to do just that.  :-)

First, a bit of an overview: the team captains have always been the two celebs who have the highest cumulative point total for the season, and they usually flip a coin to see who gets first pick (or, whoever wins the toss gets a choice between picking first or picking their song/dance first).  Because the cumulative point total will ultimately determine the team captains, pay close attention to how Meryl, Charlie, & James are scored tonight – as of right now, Meryl is in the lead with 134 points; Charlie trails by 3 points at 131, and James is a mere 2 points behind him at 129.  Based on how they’ve been scoring Meryl, I don’t see her getting bumped out of that top spot, so I would venture a guess that she will definitely be one of the team captains; however, if Charlie has an off-night (and James kills his quickstep), we could potentially see James bumping Charlie out of the #2 spot in order to go up against Meryl as the other team captain.  Hell, I would even say there’s an outside chance (wayyyy outside chance) that Amy or Danica (particularly Danica) could swoop in and knock both Charlie & James down a notch and take that #2 spot, since they’re both tied at 128.  But my gut tells me that TPTB are too in love with the idea of Meryl vs. Charlie, and so they’ll probably go out of their way to ensure that Charlie stays at #2…which may mean low-balling James and giving Charlie a pretty cushy score.

Strategically-speaking, I think it’s going to be more advantageous for the winner of the coin toss to pick their song & music first, as opposed to getting first pick on couples for their team – whoever picks first will end up with four couples on their team, which is harder to work with than three.  And because I can’t really predict who wins the toss, I’ve divided up each possible team captain scenario by who chooses first.  I’ve also made a few assumptions when predicting who will pick whom – I’ve listed those below.  All the assumptions I’m making are based on tribal knowledge from previous team dances and just common sense as well. And keep in mind these are just my predictions – a lot of it is based on what we’ve seen in previous team dances, and knowledge of who does & doesn’t get along on this show.  I’m not Miss Cleo – I cannot read minds or see the future.  I can only make educated guesses.  :-P

Assumptions made:

*Either NeNe & Tony or Drew & Cheryl get eliminated tonight  – I’m including them as one entity with a slash in the team picks, just to illustrate that only one of them will likely remain after tonight’s elim. I’m not banking on a shocking elim, but I guess one is possible.

*La Familia will do their best do stick together, and that will dictate a lot of their picking strategy.

*Even at his most strategic, Maks still cannot bring himself to pick Derek for his team; he also tries to avoid picking Mark.

*Sharna & Peta are both better strategists than Maks.

*The teams have not been predetermined by TPTB, and the captaining couples are actually picking them without any coaching from the Muppets upstairs.

*The celeb team captains are deferring to their pro on who to pick.

*The pros have an idea of who gets along and who doesn’t – and may leave a couple for the other team to pick just to keep things copacetic.

*Stronger couples get picked before weaker ones – except when La Familia is trying to look out for their own and avoid Derek & Mark.

Scenario #1: Meryl & Charlie are the team captains; Meryl chooses first.

If the name of the game is “Viva La Familia!”: Meryl choses Danica & Val first (at Maks’ urging).  Charlie then chooses James & Peta (because Sharna knows that Maks will not pick Amy & Derek).  Still internally chanting “Viva La Familia!” (and trying like hell to avoid both Derek & Mark), Maks urges Meryl to pick NeNe & Tony/Drew & Cheryl next.  Charlie picks Amy & Derek.  Stuck with no other options, Maks begrudgingly accepts Candace & Mark.

If Maks is actually thinking strategy: Meryl choses James & Peta first; Charlie then snaps up Amy & Derek.  Meryl picks Danica & Val; Charlie picks Candace & Mark.  Meryl is left with Nene & Tony/Drew & Cheryl.

I think the only variables that have the potential to change in these hypothetical situations are who gets James & Peta, who gets NeNe & Tony/Drew & Cheryl, and who gets Candace & Mark.  I think Danica & Val end up on Meryl’s team, regardless; and I think Amy & Derek end up on Charlie’s team, regardless.

Scenario #2: Meryl & Charlie are the team captains; Charlie chooses first.

Charlie picks James & Peta; Meryl picks Danica & Val;  Charlie picks Amy & Derek; Meryl picks NeNe & Tony/Drew & Cheryl.  Charlie is left with Candace & Mark.

Again, not a whole lot changes here, except that Charlie’s team ends up with more couples instead of Meryl’s.  I think in the majority of the situations, Candace & Mark will be the last couple chosen – and thus will end up with whichever team chooses first.

Scenario #3: Meryl & James are the team captains; Meryl chooses first.

Meryl picks Charlie & Sharna; James picks Danica & Val.  Meryl picks NeNe & Tony/Drew & Cheryl; James picks Amy & Derek.  Meryl is left with Candace & Mark.

I think the remote possibility that James could be a captain has the potential to throw the biggest wrench into things – but I sincerely doubt TPTB will be able to resist the opportunity to pit Meryl against Charlie as the team captains.  Keep an eye on James’ score tonight – if they seem to lowball him, I think it’s safe to say they’re trying to ensure that he doesn’t surpass Charlie in cumulative point total.

Scenario #4: Meryl & James are the team captains; James chooses first.

James picks Charlie & Sharna; Meryl picks Danica & Val.  James picks Amy & Derek; Meryl picks NeNe & Tony/Drew & Cheryl; James is left with Candace & Mark.

Basically, the same outcome as if Charlie were captain and picking first – just flip-flopping James & Charlie as captain.

Scenario #5: One or both of the pros is smoking crack and picks completely unpredictably.  (aka the “Val in season 17″ strategy)

Really and truly, if this happens (and I doubt it will), anything goes – Val probably made the biggest “WTF???” pick in team dance history last season when he picked Bill & Emma first for their team, which then set forth a cascade of picks that resulted in some seriously lopsided teams, in terms of skill, and likely contributed to some degree to Snooki getting eliminated.  What would I personally consider to be “unpredictable”? Probably Maks letting Meryl pick Amy & Derek, or NeNe & Tony/Drew & Cheryl or Candace & Mark getting picked first.  Basically anything that seems to contradict the edicts that a) La Familia avoids picking Derek (and to a lesser degree, Mark), and b) the stronger couples get picked before the weaker ones.  Hypothesize away on this one – doubt it will happen, but I’d love to hear everyone’s wacky ideas of just how far off the rails the team picking could get :-P An evil part of me would love to see Val end up on team Charlie with Derek – I know Val seems to think he knows best when it comes to team dance choreography, but I’d love to see him get schooled a bit by a 9-time team dance champion on what works and what doesn’t.  :-P

So what’s my official prediction on the team dances? I think Meryl & Charlie end up as captains, Meryl picks first, and the team end up being Meryl & Maks, Danica & Val, Drew & Cheryl (assuming NeNe goes home), and Candace & Mark vs. Charlie & Sharna, James & Peta, and Amy & Derek.  If Meryl doesn’t pick first, I think the teams will be Charlie & Sharna, James & Peta, Amy & Derek, and Candace & Mark vs. Meryl & Maks, Danica & Val, and Drew & Cheryl.  I think as long as Derek does NOT end up on Team La Familia, he’ll win his 10th team dance…easily.  :-) What do you guys think? What teams do you think we might see next week?