IMG

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Studying the NCAA brackets

I didn't see the ESPNews show announcing the Division I draws for this year's NCAAs (Charter Cable doesn't offer it here in Kalamazoo), so any of you who would like to comment on it, please enlighten me.

But I have spent a few hours studying the selections, and have a few observations. Usually, the last rankings are followed pretty closely, but the men's subcommittee made one big change this year, moving Georgia, ranked fifth, to the fourth seed, and dropping fourth-ranked Ole Miss to the five seed. Should they meet in Tulsa in the quarterfinals, it will be settled on the courts, but I'm not sure I understand the reason for the switch. It's true that Georgia beat Ole Miss 5-2 back in early March in their only head-to-head, but Ole Miss just won the conference tournament, so I would have been inclined to stick with the rankings. The other change flipped Florida and Baylor, with Baylor moving up to 9, where Florida was in the latest rankings.

Michigan's men captured the 16th spot, which means I'll be able to travel to Ann Arbor for that regional, where they will host unranked Western Michigan, No. 51 Harvard and No. 17 Texas Tech.

Western is one of 12 unranked conference winners in the field of 64, which means that there are teams in the Top 50 who did not get in. The highest ranked, at 45, was the University of New Mexico of the Mountain West Conference. St. Mary's College of California (47), Arkansas-Fayetteville (48), Louisville (49) and Fresno State (50) are others who did not receive at-large bids.

There are five men's teams with losing records with three of them, Southern (10-11, SWAC), Oral Roberts (7-9, Summit), Hawaii (8-10, WAC) winning their conference championships. Auburn (10-12) of the SEC was ranked 35, with wins over Oklahoma State, LSU and Vanderbilt helping their cause. The ACC's Duke, 10-13, was ranked 43rd, and was probably one of the last teams in since their only win against a team in the tournament was over No. 19 Miami. Denver's 4-3 win over New Mexico back in February may have been the match deciding the final at-large bid, with 44th ranked Denver getting it.

By the way, there are two undefeated teams on the men's side. Everyone knows about top-ranked Virginia, of course, but Drake, ranked 46th, is 24-0. They will meet LSU in the Illinois-hosted regional.

The women's subcommittee made no notable changes. There are 15 unranked conference winners in the draw, and four Top 50 teams who were not extended at-large bids: Virginia (47), Brigham Young (48) Marshall (49) and South Alabama (50). The last team in was probably 8-13 Wake Forest, ranked 46th, and with wins over Virginia and two tournament teams--No. 25 Tennessee and No. 30 Indiana. The only other team with a losing record on the women's side is 9-10 Quinnipiac, who won the Northeast Conference tournament bid.

As for most intriguing round of 16 match, I'll go with Ohio State vs. Illinois on the men's side given Sunday's 4-3 barn burner in the conference final and the Illini's quarterfinal win over the Buckeyes at last year's NCAAs. For the women, it's got to be No. 13 Clemson against No. 4 Stanford. Not only will it feature two of the top three women players in the country in Ani Mijacika of Clemson and Hilary Barte of Stanford, but it will pit arguably the hottest team (excepting Northwestern, of course) against the most storied program. Stanford has something to prove after losing last year in the semifinals to UCLA, and if they come through this year with Clemson, Baylor, Duke, Cal and Northwestern all in their half, they will have earned their berth in the finals.

For complete draws, click here for the men, and here for the women. The individual tournament field will be released on Wednesday at ncaa.com.

6 comments:

Brent said...

OK, prediction time. What should we call this? 'May Madness'?

Anyway, I will go all chalk in the first round except for the following upsets....

Kentucky over Virginia Tech
Duke over Arizona State
Boise St over California

In the round of 32, I will go all chalk except for the following upsets....

17 Stanford over 13 Pepperdine
17 Oklahoma St over 11 Tulsa

That leaves the following matchups for the round of 16...

1 Virginia over 16 Michigan
9 Baylor over 8 Tennessee
4 Georgia over 17 Stanford
5 Ole Miss over 12 UNC
6 USC over 17 Oklahoma St
3 UCLA over 14 Florida St
10 Florida over 7 Texas
2 Ohio St over 15 Illinois

Quarterfinal results...

1 Virginia over 9 Baylor 4-2
4 Georgia over 5 Ole Miss 4-3
3 UCLA over 6 USC 4-3
10 Florida over 2 Ohio St 4-3

Semifinals....

1 Virginia over 4 Georgia 4-2
3 UCLA over 10 Florida 4-3

Finals...

1 Virginia over 3 UCLA 4-1

Where am I wrong?

Austin said...

1st Round Upsets
Penn St over VCU
Auburn over Wake Forest
Boise St over California
Wisconsin over Washington

2nd Round Upsets
Texas Tech over Michigan
Alabama over Florida St


I am going to wait to pick the rest of the tourney til next week. However at first glance I only see UVA, UGA, Ole Miss and UCLA having a relatively easy time getting to the quarters. Other than those four making the quarters, I dont see another match out of the remaining eleven matches having a clear cut winner. Once those teams reach the quarters it could get really interesting. I also wouldnt put it past Bama to pull off the upset if they win doubles against UCLA. Same goes for UNC against Ole Miss. Going to be interesting.

gsm said...

Austin,

here is the link to team lineups
http://web1.ncaa.org/tennis/exec/lineup?doWhat=listing&sportCode=MTE&division=1&fromLink=Y

You then click on each team.

As far as predictions,

In the finals, I'll say Virginia over the winner of the UCLA/USC Quarterfinal. I'll pick UCLA (with Abid). A toss up without.

As stated earlier in the year, a team has to win the doubles (which is possible) to have a chance against Virginia. With Somdev automatic and Angelinos close to it, it's so hard to win 4 singles. Particularly, when you know guys in the 2-5 slots have no margin for error. Winning 3 of those 4 is still difficult but definitely doable.

Other random thoughts. My initial guess is Ole Miss over Georgia. The Dawgs just can't seem to get over the injury hex this year.

Think Ohio St. will be feeling the pressure against Illinois? A close 4-3 last week and memories of last year's upset in the NCAAs

Austin said...

dont forget they barely beat them in the regular season match. If Illinois won those two third set breakers they win.

gsm said...

Yeah, it's almost like it's setting up for a repeat of last year. Illinois should be full of confidence for round 3.

tenniswatcher said...

Don't forget that Georgia had a regular season loss to Tennessee and was smeared by Florida in the SEC tournament. Ole Miss is gonna take out Georgia rather easliy is my guess.

Illinois will be smarter this time over Ohio State...should be interesting.

Rice might also surprise Texas.