The ACC men's tennis regular season wrapped up this past weekend and it settled the final seeding for the ACC tournament that will get started on Wednesday in Cary, NC. Before I get into breaking down the tournament I want to recap the season for each ACC team. How the 2018 regular season wound up, what went well and what didn't? Obviously for many of these teams the real season judgement will come in the conference and NCAA tournament but for now I will look back and grade each team based on the regular season alone. Let's start this comprehensive look at the ACC season from the top and work our way down to the bottom.
Ten automatic bids went out last week on the men's side, nine conference tournaments and the Ivy League, with the top seed winning just four conference tournaments, the two seed winning three, and the three seed winning two. Below are last week's big winners and further below are the teams that were last week's biggest losers.
Tulane - the Green Wave captured its first American Athletic Conference Championship, and first conference championship since 2005, with a 4-3 win over four-time defending champion South Florida. Tulane sophomore Tim Ruetzel clinched the title with a 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 win at No. 6.
South Florida Back in Another AAC Final; FAU Upsets MTSU in CUSA Semis; Oklahoma Wins Bedlam Classic; Oregon Beats Cal For First-Time EverWritten by Bobby Knight
Saturday was moving day with some teams moving into conference finals, and/or wrapping up regular season play with a huge win, while others moved off the bubble and into an early offseason after a tough loss. Let's start off with conference tournament action in the American Athletic Conference. A week ago the four-time reigning AAC Champion South Florida Bulls looked like a team that was ready to call it a season after losing six of seven and heading into the regular season finale against UCF with just a 7-15 record. But somehow the Bulls have caught fire and after taking it to UCF in the War on I-4 they've now found themselves in a fifth straight conference final after a pair of 4-3 wins over No. 4 seed Wichita State and No. 1 seed Memphis.
On Friday in the Wichita State match, it was junior Alberto Barroso-Campos that was the hero after he won the final three games to win the decider at No. 1 over Haru Inoue 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Then on Saturday against No. 18 Memphis, the Bulls came back from 3-2 down with senior Grayson Goldin defeating Kai Lemke 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3 and sophomore Pierre Luquet clinching the match with a 6-4, 7-6 win over Chris Patzanvsky at No. 4. The result was one that took many, including me, by surprise because Memphis had just defeated USF 4-0 a little over two weeks ago in a match that Memphis thoroughly dominated winning doubles matches 6-0 and 6-1 and singles matches 6-2, 6-0; 6-3, 6-2; and 6-0, 6-0. On another note USF is now a perfect 14-0 in AAC conference tournament play.
South Florida (recap) head coach Ashley Fisher on the big win, "A lot of people were surprised by today's result, but no one that has anything to do with USF men's tennis. We have always known that when we leave it out there as a team and embrace big moments, anything is possible. Pierre Luquet grew up in front of my eyes today and we got inspiring performances from Grayson and Kuba. We played the best doubles point of the season and maintained an incredible level of energy and passion throughout the match. I couldn't be any prouder of this group than I am right now".
With all the regular season conference play winding down it's that time of year where teams gear up for conference tournaments (except the Ivy League, those smart guys sit back and watch... wait it's better to play more to have a chance to improve your ranking right? not sure who the smart one's are here). At the same time everyone is gearing up for conference tournaments all the teams that have a legitimate shot at hosting start looking at the rankings trying to figure out if they have a shot of making the top 16 to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. So of course you are wondering, how's it look for my team? Well, ask no more. Below you'll find the outlook for each team and as events occur that change the outlook I'll update the post and put an update date on it. So without further ado...
Upcoming is the last weekend of the Big 10 conference regular season. Familiar faces are at the top of the standings as teams jostle for positioning entering the Big 10 tournament as well as potential NCAA tournament selections. To the surprise of no one, Ohio State is one win away from wrapping up another Big 10 title (13th straight). Illinois and Michigan have already locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament and are both in the driver’s seat to host a regional by virtue of being a top 16 seed. Rounding out the top four is Minnesota, who is also a virtual lock to receive an at-large bid in to the NCAA tournament.
An important bit to note is the postponement and subsequent cancellation of the Michigan @ Minnesota match from last Sunday which will have ramifications not only on Michigan and Minnesota, but Indiana and Penn State moving forward. A bit more on this in the Match of the Weekend section. Minnesota is one of the tougher places to play in the Big 10, with a very vocal crowd supporting the Golden Gophers so it was no guarantee that Michigan would have won. A win at Minnesota would have likely given Michigan a higher seed (1 or 2 spots) in the NCAA Tournament bracket, but also bumped Indiana in to a top 4 seed and first round bye of the Big 10 tournament.
After the second weekend of Big XII play, TCU has put themselves on top. The Horned Frogs extended their winning streak to 10 matches after wins at home against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. TCU bested OU 4-2. TCU jumped off to a hot start, winning the doubles point and 4 of 6 first sets in singles. However the match was delayed an hour and eventually moved indoors due to lightning. Two days later, TCU proved to be too strong for Oklahoma State, beating the Cowboys 4-0.
OU and OSU also played matches in Austin, but were unable to pick up any match wins. Texas beat OSU on Friday, 4-0. Things started off looking good for OSU as they were up a break 5-2 on both #1 and #2 doubles. The doubles point then came down to #1 doubles, and Texas’ team of Leo Telles and Rodrigo Banzer saved matched points and eventually went on to win 7-5 and steal the doubles point for Texas. They carried the momentum to win the match 4-0. On Sunday, Texas seemed to still have that mojo, as things were pretty straight forward against Oklahoma. Texas won the Red River Rivalry 4-0.