Weekend Schedule (Times ET):
Wake Forest Regional - The Deacs are going to advance out of this regional with the most suspense coming in the South Carolina/Old Dominion match. Carolina won the regular season meeting in Norfolk 6-1 though there were plenty of close sets and only one of the individual singles matches will be a rematch. I think the Gamecocks get past ODU for a second time before falling to Wake 4-0.
*** The UTR rank is out of the 64 teams that made the tournament
Columbia Regional - Many thought Columbia and Virginia were going to meet in the second round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend however Virginia didn't hold up its end of the bargain and lost to Texas Tech in the first round. I think we're going to get that match this weekend but I don't expect VCU to lay down against the Hoos. Virginia has the decided advantage up top but all the matches down low could go either way as could the doubles point since Virginia was a putrid 9-16 on the year.
Columbia has been pretty banged up this season with Victor Pham, Jack Lin, Alex Keyser, and Tim Wang all missing matches due to injury but it appears they are close to being 100% so I wouldn't be surprised to see Wang or Keyser in the No. 6 singles slot instead of Matheson. I think Columbia takes the doubles point over Virginia and then leans on them in singles and picks up wins at 4, 5, and 6 to win a 4-1 to 4-2 type of match.
Illinois Regional - The Illini will roll into Sunday's second round match where Vanderbilt should await after the Commodores knock off Drake in a match that could be closer than expected. Illinois will be banking on wins at 1, 4, and 5 from Vukic, Kovacevic, and Clark with the others too close to call. I'm leaning towards Vandy in doubles but it appears that both teams will be rolling out some new pairings so who knows what we'll get. Illinois will advance to Winston-Salem but Vandy won't make it easy.
TCU Regional - The TCU/Utah State match is definitely no slam dunk for the Horned Frogs because I'm sure they remember what happened when the Aggies came into Fort Worth last season. TCU suffered some bad news when Alastair Gray (#4 singles/#2 doubles) was ruled out after being injured against Baylor in the Big XII Tournament so that means that Reese Stalder will shift up to 4, Bertus Kruger goes up to 5, and Eduardo Roldan comes off the bench to play at 6. Gray and Trevor Johnson were 10-2 in doubles but now Stalder will move up to play with Johnson at 2 while Max Kurzban and Roldan will be paired up for the first time this year to play at 3. Despite the changes I don't see TCU losing again to USU - I'll go Frogs 4-1.
There will be a lot of green on the court in the opening match between Dartmouth and Oregon. Both teams have similar strengths so this is one of those matches that will be decided by the team that wins the most toss-ups. I think we're looking at a 4-3 final one way or another so in a close one I'll go with Dartmouth.
TCU will advance to Winston-Salem with a tight 4-2 win over Dartmouth.
Texas A&M Regional - The Aggies are a legit national title contender this year so unlike in year's past when they stumbled in the second round I see them getting past the Baylor/Arizona State winner without too much of a problem. As far as that Baylor/Arizona State match, I think BU plays angry after getting sent to College Station and gets the W by a 4-2 score. In the second round, I'll give Baylor the doubles point but A&M the match 4-1.
Florida State Regional - Florida State will crush Alabama State, who has the lowest UTR Power 6 in the field, while the AAC champs, Tulane, will get past Alabama. A year ago Tulane had Texas beat in the second round but a few guys couldn't close the door that Texas left open and it ended up being a crushing 4-3 loss. I think Tulane uses that experience from last year and pushes through this year to upset FSU 4-3 with Luis Erlenbusch winning the last match on at No. 4.
Stanford Regional - After not hosting a regional for four years, the Cardinal will host for the second year in a row. Stanford won't have any issues with WAC Champion New Mexico State but the winner of the Duke/Ole Miss match will give them a run for their money. Ole Miss, which is heading out to California for the third year in a row, has been without its top player Gustav Hansson since March 9 and in that timeframe they've gone just 3-8 if you don't include the two gimme wins over Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Duke should win at No. 1 singles regardless of who Nicolas Alvarez is playing but all the other matches are in play. I'll take Duke but I wouldn't be surprised if Ole Miss won.
Florida Regional - The host Gators will be big favorites in both matches with the regional filled with two teams that would have normally been a No. 4 seed and the other a lower-end No. 3 seed. The Miami/North Florida match will be the best one of the weekend with UNF having taken two of the last three against the Canes. Miami didn't exactly finish the season as strong as it would have liked after dropping five of seven including a stunning loss to Boston College. Miami will be favored in the top half of the lineup but the bottom half will be a lot of 50/50 matches. For UNF to win they probably need the doubles point, a couple of the 50/50 matches, and an upset in the top half of the lineup. I could see them getting two of those three but I think Miami's first NCAA appearance since 2011 will be a positive one and the Canes hold on to win 4-2.
Florida will roll over Miami in the second round winning 4-0.
Ohio State Regional - ETSU will be making its 12th straight NCAA appearance but a matchup against the Buckeyes isn't going to be good for the Bucs. The other match between Kentucky and Virginia Tech will be a slugfest. Kentucky dropped its final three, including a loss to Alabama in the conference tournament, while Virginia Tech had a seven-match winning streak snapped in the ACC Tournament by Georgia Tech. Kentucky struggled in doubles going just 11-14 so you have to look for Va Tech to take the early 1-0 lead. Kentucky will be favored in most singles matches however not by an overwhelming margin. If Kentucky plays to its ability this is a match they should win 4-2 or 4-3 but if a few guys have an off day it'll go the other way.
Ohio State edged Kentucky 4-2 in early April, indoors in Lexington, but I don't think this one will be as close outdoors in Cbus.
Oklahoma Regional - The committee didn't do OU any favors by slotting what would have been a No. 3 seed as its first round opponent however Utah was lucky to get in after finishing its regular season on a seven-match losing streak. I'm expecting a 4-0 OU win though Utah could keep it close on a few courts.
The opener in Norman has 4-3 written all over it. The weather forecast calls for a lot of wind (20+mph) so if play moves indoors that would definitely suit Minnesota more. In singles I like Minnesota up top and Georgia down low with that doubles point probably the difference. Georgia had a tough year with injuries and some unrest in the locker room and while it has the talent to advance out of this regional I don't see it happening this year.
In the second round, I have OU advancing with a 4-2ish win over Minnesota.
Mississippi State Regional - Tennessee Tech will be making its seventh NCAA appearance but I don't see them getting their first win - MSU rolls 4-0. South Alabama is making its first NCAA appearance in 10 years and while they'll hang with Memphis, and maybe win a court or two, Memphis will advance.
The Mississippi State and Memphis match has the potential to be a good one. Memphis's only trip the Sweet 16 came four years ago when they went to Oxford and knocked out Ole Miss in the second round but beating Mississippi State is going to be a little tougher. For Memphis to have a real chance they need to take doubles and win one of the top two spots in the singles. If they can do that an upset wouldn't be out of the question. I'm going to take Mississippi State, but close - 4-2.
Texas Regional - The Horns will blank Bryant to set up a meeting with Cal who I see pulling off a mild upset over NC State. In that second round match, I'll go with Texas in doubles and Sigsgaard, Ito, Telles to give Texas a 4-1 win.
North Carolina Regional - UNC won the regular season meeting over Campbell 7-0 and only dropped 12 total games in singles. This one won't be much closer as the Heels will cruise to set up a date with Tennessee who will defeat UNC Wilmington 4-1. In the second round, I'll take UNC 4-0 with the singles wins coming from Sigouin, Kelly, and Boyden.
USC Regional - As with Oklahoma, the committee didn't give USC much of a reward for a good season with the equivalent of two No. 2 seeds and a No. 3 seed sent to LA. USC won the regular season meeting over UCSB, in late January, 6-1 however three of the six singles matches went three sets. I don't think USC will run UCSB off the court but I do think they'll win quite comfortably.
Oklahoma State just missed out on hosting a regional after finishing 0-4 down the stretch. OSU lost its top player Julian Cash to a season-ending injury which meant everyone else has had to slide up a spot in the lineup. Harvard's last tournament win was in 2014 when the Crimson defeated Auburn but I see another W in its future. I'll take Harvard in a 4-3 classic with the top of its lineup coming through in the clutch.
In the second round it'll be all Trojans with USC winning 4-0.
UCLA Regional - The Bruins have never lost in the regional rounds and I don't see that streak getting snapped this year. Texas Tech and San Diego met in the regular season with Tech winning on the road 4-3. The last three times San Diego has been sent to the UCLA Regional they've won their opener before falling to the Bruins in the second round. So will we see Texas Tech win again or San Diego continue it's regional streak at UCLA? I'll go Texas Tech 4-3.
Michigan Regional - Michigan and Cleveland State played on April 1st with the Wolverines winning 6-1 though it likely would have been 7-0 had Michigan not sat its top three singles starters. Michigan will take this one 4-0 to setup a meeting against longtime rival Notre Dame. I expect the Irish to get pushed by Western Michigan and they may even need to come from behind to get the W but in the end they'll pull through 4-2.
Michigan won the regular season meeting in South Bend 4-3 in a match that saw Michigan come back from 3-2 down by winning the final two courts 7-6 in third. This one might not be decided by a third set tiebreak but it should still very close. I'll take Michigan 4-2 with the middle of its lineup doing the most damage.