Monday, 09 April 2018 05:35

Weekend's Winners & Losers

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Now that April is here each and every weekend will shape what the postseason will look like and this past weekend was no exception. There were some men's teams that were ranked in the 50s or lower that really stepped it up while there were some teams in the 30s and 40s that really fell flat. With the at-large cutoff into the NCAAs expected to be in the lower 40s that means some teams found hope while others found despair. 

Two of the biggest winners on the men's side were Virginia Tech and Indiana.

Virginia Tech entered the weekend with a 12-6 record and a ranking of No. 53 but after upsetting No. 12 Florida State 4-3 and then blowing out No. 43 Miami 7-0 the Hokies are expected to jump all the way up to around No. 40. Virginia Tech has three regular season matches remaining against No. 69 VCU, No. 40 Louisville, and No. 42 Virginia and all three are at home. A sweep of the three would put Virginia Tech into the NCAAs with ease which is something that I didn't foresee prior to this past week. 

Indiana entered the weekend one game under .500 at 9-10 with a national ranking of No. 62. The Hoosiers exited the weekend at 11-10 after upsetting No. 31 Minnesota 4-3 and No. 46 Wisconsin 4-2. Indiana's ranking will rise into the upper 40s and with road matches coming up next weekend at No. 51 Iowa and No. 103 Nebraska a sweep would send it into the lower to mid 40s. Indiana finishes the regular season at home against No. 3 Ohio State and No. 48 Penn State. 

Notre Dame was a loss away from dropping down to a .500 record but the Irish picked up a big 5-2 win on Friday night over No. 18 Duke. Notre Dame's ranking has been strong all season and this win coupled with a manageable schedule (FSU/Miami/Ball State-home & GT/Clemson-road) down the stretch should ensure Notre Dame will finish above .500 and qualify for the tournament. 

Texas A&M and Mississippi State both went 2-0 which will set up a winner-takes-all match this Friday night in College Station. Whoever wins will be the outright SEC regular season champion and top seed in the conference tournament while the loser settles for second. 

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State opened up Big XII conference play with weekend sweeps over No. 19 Baylor and No. 29 Texas Tech. Oklahoma has played the whole season without its top singles player, Spencer Papa (torn ACL), while Oklahoma State played without its top player, Julian Cash, in both wins. 

Arizona State entered the weekend ranked No. 37 and after picking up road wins versus No. 41 Oregon and No. 56 Washington they should move off the bubble and into the safety zone of the lower 30s. ASU has both of the LA schools coming to town this weekend and then they finish up at home with Arizona the following week. 

Middle Tennessee State, ranked No. 45, picked up weekend wins over No. 69 VCU and No. 64 William & Mary. The Blue Raiders should move up to around No. 39 or No. 40 this week and then they have two more huge matches coming up at No. 67 East Tennessee State on Wednesday and at home against No. 61 Georgia State on Saturday. MTSU needs to keep on winning to keep itself on the right side of the bubble 

Penn State, ranked No. 48, picked up a pair of wins over No. 51 Iowa and No. 103 Nebraska. PSU is now four games above .500 so they can all but check that NCAA requirement off the list but to move up closer to 42 they'll need to keep winning. Northwestern and Illinois come to Happy Valley this weekend and then the Nits hit the road the following weekend to play at Indiana and Purdue. 

 

Losers:

Duke, ranked No. 18, entered the weekend with a chance at hosting a regional still in play but after going 0-2 with losses to Notre Dame and Louisville those chances probably went out the window. The Blue Devils played both matches without their top player, Nicolas Alvarez, who spent the weekend in Mexico participating in the Davis Cup, and his absence and some strong opposition were too much to overcome. 

Georgia, ranked No. 21, had a chance to lock up its NCAA at-large spot but the Bulldogs, who played without starters Emil Reinberg (#2) and Walker Duncan (#5), suffered a 4-2 loss on that road to No. 52 Alabama. The loss dropped Georgia's record to 10-9 which means if they can't defeat either Vanderbilt and Kentucky this weekend they'll be entering the SEC Tournament needing two wins to guarantee a .500 or better record. If the season ended today Georgia would be the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament with an opening round match against Ole Miss or Arkansas and then if they won that one a match against the top seed, either Texas A&M or Mississippi State, in the second round. 

Virginia, ranked No. 42, had a big chance to move off the bubble but instead the Hoos now find themselves facing an uphill climb after getting swept by Miami and Florida State. Virginia had won 35 straight matches over Florida State (19) and Miami (16) but its lack of depth at the bottom of the lineup was the difference after dropping five of six singles matches at the 4, 5, and 6 spots. Virginia played without Gianni Ross (No. 2 singles/No. 1 doubles) in the Florida State match and redshirt freshman Ammar Alhaqbani, who was participating in the Davis Cup for Saudi Arabia (had been playing No. 5 though he was just 5-10 on the year), missed both matches. Virginia will need to win two of its final three regular season matches against NC State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest to get back in the hunt. 

Wisconsin, ranked No. 46, went on the road to No. 99 Purdue and No. 62 Indiana and was surprisingly swept. The Badgers had only dropped the doubles point three times all season but they dropped it in both matches and that ended up being the difference in the 4-3 loss to Purdue. Wisconsin's tournament hopes now depend on an upset of Michigan or Illinois or a deep run in the B1G Tournament. 

Cornell, ranked No. 47, now finds itself two games below .500 at 7-9 after losing a pair of 4-3 matches to No. 55 Princeton and No. 60 Penn. The Big Red has a make or break weekend coming up with No. 33 Dartmouth and No. 28 Harvard coming to Ithaca. Anything other than a sweep would all but eliminate Cornell from at-large consideration. 

Read 1502 times Last modified on Monday, 09 April 2018 10:45

4 comments

  • Comment Link bbjones1950 Monday, 09 April 2018 14:37 posted by bbjones1950

    Bobby, not sure if you know but Georgia added another match to it's schedule. This one against Kennesaw State. Match will be played as part of a double header with one of the two home matches this week. Not sure which one. Still need to win one of the two weekend matches to assure a spot in NCAA's

  • Comment Link Bobby Knight Monday, 09 April 2018 14:42 posted by Bobby Knight

    I was not aware of that - it's not showing on either Georgia or Kennesaw State's schedule as of now...I suppose they'll add it eventually.

  • Comment Link Mike Tuesday, 10 April 2018 01:22 posted by Mike

    If the UGA athletic department had to pay the other team for such a late date.match, it should not count toward NCAA eligibility. It would adversely affect the integrity of the sport.

  • Comment Link bbjones30680 Wednesday, 11 April 2018 08:22 posted by bbjones30680

    Mike, give me a break! The integrity of the sport? Please. Many teams including SEC teams commonly play double or even triple headers with teams from the SWAC such as Prairie View, Alcorn State, etc. Do you think that adversely affects the integrity of the sport. Basketball and Football teams commonly play teams that have no chance in hell of beating them. Does that effect the integrity of those great sports? By the way, I doubt they had to pay Kennesaw to come over. Having Georgia on there schedule is a huge boost to there avenues of recruiting.

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