Saturday, 19 May 2018 08:29

NCAA Women's Elite 8 Preview

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There won't be any scheduling issues in the quarterfinals because the NCAA has decided to play all the matches at Wake Forest and space them out three hours apart starting at 10 a.m. eastern. If it rains they'll go indoors but there's a good chance that some will be played outdoors since the rain isn't due to come in until later in the day. 

The top seed Vanderbilt will try to beat Florida State for a second time this season while the No. 15 seed Stanford will try to take out another higher seeded team when it plays Georgia. Duke and Texas Tech will kick the day off while Georgia Tech and UCLA will close the night out. 

The men's Elite 8 is set with some great matchups in store for Sunday. Another day of rain forced play indoors with all eight matches played under a roof so after two days of play 14 of 16 matches have been played indoors in the national outdoor championship. The tournament host and top seed Wake Forest got some resistance from Ivy League champion Columbia and will now meet Illinois who ran right over TCU. The second seed UCLA got all it wanted and more from Michigan in the day's first match in Chapel Hill but advanced and will play a familiar foe on Sunday in crosstown rival USC who upset North Carolina with some strong, strong play in singles. The Big Ten champions Ohio State will meet the SEC champions Mississippi State after both won 4-1 matches over Minnesota and Texas. The last quarterfinal will be another All-SEC affair with Texas A&M set to meet Florida for the third time this season.

A rainy Thursday in Winston-Salem forced six of the eight matches indoors with three matches being sent 90 miles away in Chapel Hill. The three matches played indoors at Wake Forest were all fairly lopsided with Vanderbilt, Duke, and Stanford cruising to victories while the three matches in Chapel Hill had more substance with Texas Tech, Georgia, and Florida State coming out on top. The rain had finally cleared out by late evening so the final two matches were played outdoors at Wake Forest. In those two night matches, both of the teams that won avenged regular season losses with Georgia Tech gutting out a 4-3 win over Pepperdine while UCLA defeated Ole Miss 4-1. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018 23:00

NCAA Men's Sweet 16 Preview

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In just a few hours the women will kick things off in Winston-Salem though it looks like with the amount of rain expected there's a better than average chance of plenty of indoor tennis over the next several days. If play goes indoors the highest seeded team in the two-match block will stay in Winston-Salem while the other match will be sent 90 miles away to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The only exception to that rule will be if North Carolina is playing; in those instances they will remain in Winston-Salem regardless of seed so as not to give them a home-court advantage. There will be live streaming available at both indoor sites as well as at all 12 outdoor courts at Wake. Wake's NCAA site will have updated schedules and links throughout the tournament so stay tuned for time and venue changes. 

The two teams from Southern California (UCLA/USC) got stuck playing in the early morning 9 a.m. ET/6 a.m. PT slot and to make it worse they are playing east coast teams and the matches will probably be indoors. Both teams have been in town for several days so I'm sure they are getting acclimated but it would still make sense for those doing the scheduling to make adjustments to give the participating student-athletes the best chance to perform at their peak levels. 

Unfortunately I won't be able to make the trip across the pond this year so I'll be following the live stream like everyone else. I'm expecting more close matches on Friday than blowouts however that could change if some of the underdogs (Columbia/Ole Miss/Alabama/Minnesota/Michigan) can't find a way to get the doubles point - if that happens then all five of those could end up 4-0.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018 17:00

NCAA Women's Sweet 16 Preview

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Vanderbilt Quarter:

[1] Vanderbilt vs. [16] Miami: The top seeded Commodores enter this match riding a 13-match winning streak while the No. 16 seeded Hurricanes have won 9 of their last 10. Vanderbilt didn't have any issues in its opening round matches against Alabama State and Clemson while Miami cruised past LIU Brooklyn 4-0 before winning a close 4-3 match over UCF.  For Miami to have any chance of pulling the upset they must find a way to win the doubles point because Vanderbilt will be favored on just about every court in singles. I'm going to take Vanderbilt in doubles and Rosca, Meyer, and Dvorak in singles to send the Dores back to the quarterfinals for the fourth year in a row. 

Vandy Miami

For the most part Sunday was a pretty ho-hum day, compared to the excitement and drama from the previous two days, but it all changed late in the evening (well past midnight my time) when No. 38 Ole Miss stunned No. 4 Stanford 4-3. Stanford entered the match as a heavy favorite, was undefeated at home, and since the field had been expanded to 64 teams in 1999 there had never been a No. 4 seed that had failed to advance to the Sweet 16 but Ole Miss didn't care about any of that. 

Stanford had won the doubles point in 20 of its 25 matches and after winning 6-3 at No. 2 it looked like they might make it 21 of 26. However Ole Miss's Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds would come back from an early break down to win 7-5 at No. 3 and then minutes later Ole Miss's Tim Sandkaulen and Grey Hamilton would consolidate a late break to win 7-5 at No. 1. It was the second day in a row that the Rebels had taken the doubles point and marked the 17th time in 27 matches that they had jumped out to the early 1-0 lead. 

Stanford came back in singles and claimed four opening sets and in fact five of the six matches would finish in straight sets. Ole Miss junior Filip Kraljevic put the Rebels ahead 2-0 with a 7-5, 6-3 win at No. 3 but Stanford would counter with wins from Tom Fawcett at No. 1, Eric Fomba at No. 4, and David Wilczynski at No. 5 to take a 3-2 lead. 

Ole Miss sophomore Tim Sandkaulen knotted the match at 3-3 with a 7-6, 6-3 win over former ITF junior #1 Axel Geller but the Rebels still were still down a set in the remaining match at No. 6. 

Stanford sophomore William Genesen broke Ole Miss freshman Finn Reynolds on the no-ad point to go up 6-2, 6-5 but he'd be unable to serve it out with Reynolds fighting off a match point, on the no-ad point via a double fault, to force a tiebreak. Genesen raced out to a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak, which meant he had three more match points, but Reynolds stayed the course and won the next five points to force a third set. If you want to watch the tiebreak and third set check out this video from J10S (fast forward to 11:30 mark which has Genesen up 6-3 in the TB).

Genesen bounced back in the third set and took an early 2-0 lead however Reynolds would take the next six games to close it out 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 to send the Rebels back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2012.  

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