Georgia Tech Wins Another Thriller To Advance to the Final Four While Stanford, Duke, and Vanderbilt CruiseWritten by Bobby Knight
After two days of rain the skies finally cleared up some on Saturday which allowed for 2 1/2 of the 4 women's quarterfinal matches to be played outdoors. The first three matches were pretty uneventful, except for a coach getting ejected in the Duke/Texas Tech match, however the nightcap between Georgia Tech and UCLA lived up to its billing.
Georgia Tech played late into the night on Thursday in a 4-3 thriller against Pepperdine but the Jackets were ready for another showdown against a west coast on Saturday. The match began outdoors but midway through singles rain forced a 75 minute delay and then 10 minutes after play resumed it started raining against which ultimately forced the match indoors 30 minutes later.
UCLA won the doubles point for the 24th time in 29 matches with a 6-2 win at No. 2 and a 6-4 win at No. 3. The Bruins jumped out to early break leads on both courts and despite Georgia Tech getting it back on serve at No. 3 at 4-4 the UCLA duo of Alaina Miller and Ena Shibahara would break back and then serve it out for their 19th consecutive win.
Georgia Tech had dropped the doubles point against Pepperdine as well so they knew they could overcome it but it wouldn't be easy.
The first pair of men's quarterfinal matches was originally set for noon eastern on Sunday but with rain expected later in the day the NCAA has adjusted the schedule and moved the two early matches up to 10 a.m. with the later two pushed up from 4 p.m. to 2 p.m. Three of the four matches will be rematches from the regular season with the Ohio State/Mississippi State match the only one that will be a first time meeting.
UCLA, USC, and Ohio State have been frequent visitors to the semifinals over the last 20 years while Illinois (2007), Florida (2005), and Mississippi State (1998) will be trying to get back to the promised land for the first time in a decade plus. Wake Forest and Texas A&M have never been to the semifinals but there's a good chance that will change in less than 24 hours.
Down below I have each team's path to the quarterfinals, any notable streaks, regular season meeting box scores, singles/doubles lineups with UTR, and my crazy predictions at the end.
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.
Rain Soaked Thursday Sees Stanford Take it to UNC; Georgia Tech Stings Pepperdine, Florida State Outlasts Tulsa, & MoreWritten by Bobby Knight
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.
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.