The NCAA Division I men's regionals were completed today, with all ten of the top 16 seeds in action defeating their lower-ranked opponents. Most of the matches were not close, with only the Georgia - Florida State match going the distance. Playing at home in Athens, the No. 11 Bulldogs fell behind 3-1, winning the doubles point but losing the first three singles matches at lines 6, 3 and 2. Christian Vitulli made it 3-2 with a win at 5, Garrapiz won a three-setter at 1 and Drake Bernstein clinched it at 4, breaking at 3-4 in the third and, after saving at least two break points in the final game, holding for the 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3 win that gave Georgia a 4-3 victory.
The only previous time I was in Athens for the NCAAs was 2007, when that great men's team led by John Isner cruised to the title and the women's team made the quarterfinals. The crowds were a revelation to me--I'd never seen so many fans at a college tennis match before--but I don't expect the atmosphere to approach that level this year. With the women's team failing to make the final 16 and the men's team a decided underdog against No. 6 Florida in Friday night's match, the sound of barking dogs may be a lot less common this year.
In the eight men's matches scheduled for Friday, six of them will be between conference rivals: Virginia(1) vs. Duke(16), Stanford(8) vs. UCLA(9), Ohio State(4) vs. Wisconsin, Georgia(11) vs. Florida(6), Oklahoma vs. Texas(3) and Texas A & M (10) vs. Baylor (7). The only two non-conference matchups are Southern California(5) vs. Kentucky(12) and Louisville(15) vs. Tennessee(2). I think it's an unfortunate consequence of adhering to geographical regions and also, of course, a reflection of the dominance of a few conferences. The Big 12 and SEC each have four teams in the Sweet 16, followed by the Pac-10 with three, the ACC and Big Ten with two, and the Big East with one.
The women's Sweet 16 also has a nearly identical concentration of six conferences: The ACC has five, the SEC and the Pac-10 three, the Big Ten and Big 12 have two each and the Big East has one. Yet only three of their matchups in Athens on Thursday will be intra-conference: Baylor vs. Texas, Ole Miss vs. Florida and Florida State vs. North Carolina. If I were giving out grades for the two NCAA committees, I'd give the women's group a B+ and the men's a C-. At a national tournament, we need some interesting matches we haven't seen before, like Duke vs. UCLA and Michigan vs. Tennessee.
For the women's bracket, click here. For the men's bracket, click here.
NCAA Division III sends only eight teams to its Finals sites, and those eight teams were decided today. For the women's bracket, click here. For the men's bracket, click here.
There's been lots of other tennis going on this weekend of course. Check back tomorrow for my recap of the results from the junior and Pro Circuit events.
Sunday, May 16, 2010