Saturday, 19 May 2018 08:29

NCAA Women's Elite 8 Preview

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. 

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Tuesday, 15 May 2018 17:00

NCAA Women's Sweet 16 Preview

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

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The NCAA Tournament is now just 1 day away with all 16 women's sites starting on Friday and finishing on Saturday. All 16 sites will have live scoring and 12 will have streaming video - check my live scoring page for links. The Power 5 conferences accounted for 35 (55%) of the 64 bids with the SEC putting 11 teams in, the ACC with 10, the Big XII with 6, and the Pac-12 and Big Ten with 4 each. The only other conferences to put multiple teams in were the American at 3 and Conference USA at 2. 

UCLA and Stanford will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 37th year in a row, which is every year since the team format was started in 1982, while it'll be the 36th year in a row for Florida. There were three significant streaks that came to an end this year with Cal missing the tournament for the first time ever, USC missing for the first time in 26 years, and Notre Dame missing for the first time in 22 years. I have a list down below of all the schools that have made it at least 10 years in a row and while most of the schools are familiar names there are a few that you might not expect. 

Of the 64 teams competing in this year's tournament, LIU Brooklyn and McNeese play the best doubles with both teams winning the doubles point 90.5% of the time while FIU is third at 89.5%. There are 11 schools that made the field with a doubles percentage of 50% or less with the worst being Georgia State at just 26.9% - of course the Panthers only have five healthy players so they've been forfeiting #3 doubles since the midpoint of the year. I have the full list down below. 

The team with the highest UTR Power 6 as of 5/8/18 is Stanford with the Cardinal edging out Pepperdine by .06 (70.21 to 70.15) which is an average of 11.7 per player. Georgia, Duke, and Vanderbilt rounded out the top five at 69.9, 69.6, and 69.3. These numbers will differ some from what you see on UTRs site because I used the actual lineups that the schools submitted whereas UTR has some players listed in the top 6 that won't play due to injury (Georgia State's Arina Taluyenko, Miami's Sofia Sewing, Pepperdine's Jessica Failla) or other/unknown reasons (Florida State's Emmanuelle Salas, Oklahoma State's Lisa-Marie Rioux). Also of note is Morgan State didn't enter a lot of results in the ITA's system so therefore the results also weren't in UTRs. 

As I mentioned on my men's breakdown, for those filling out a bracket over at Slam.Tennis I'd recommend that you plan on having at least one top 16 seed get upset during the first two rounds. Since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999, there has only been one year (2007) where all the top 16 seeds survived the opening weekend. A top 16 seed has never lost in the first round. 

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Wednesday, 09 May 2018 14:00

NCAA Men's Regional Previews

I gave you plenty of numbers to look over yesterday now its time for more with all the first and second round capsules listed below. Six of the 32 first round matches will be rematches from the regular season with North Carolina, Columbia, USC, and Michigan expected to have repeat performances while South Carolina and Texas Tech will have to work hard to repeat their earlier wins. All the regional hosts should win their openers pretty comfortably with TCU and USC the only ones that might yield a point with the emphasis on might. Almost all the early matches should be competitive with plenty of 4-2 and 4-3 scores expected. 

Past history tells us that the chances of all the hosts advancing to the Sweet 16 is pretty slim (hasn't happened yet) so my upset pick this year is Tulane. If I had to guess I'd say the most popular upset pick among the masses will be Georgia but I personally don't see it happening this year. 

Columbia is the only team that is hosting at a site other than its usual home courts since the NCAA requires outdoors courts whereas Columbia just has indoor courts. The three-time defending champion Virginia Cavaliers have ended Columbia's season in two of the last three years but I have a feeling that Columbia is going to get some revenge this year. 

Enjoy the capsules down below - for easier viewing on mobile turn your device sideways and if you click on them they should enlarge. You can also view them all in this google sheet

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Tuesday, 08 May 2018 04:10

NCAA Tournament Men's Facts & Figures

We are just days away from the start of this year's NCAA Tournament with seven sites firing up on Friday while the other nine begin play on Saturday. 15 of the 16 host sites will have live scoring (USC has video with scores on it but no actual scoring page) and at least 9 will have streaming video - check my live scoring page to see who is doing what. The Power 5 conferences accounted for 36 (56%) of the 64 bids with the SEC putting 10 teams in, the ACC with 9, the Pac-12 with 7, the Big XII with all 6 of its teams, and the Big Ten with 4. The only other conferences to put multiple teams in were the Ivy League at 3 and the American at 2. 

UCLA will be appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the 42nd year in a row, which is every year since the team format was started in 1977, while it'll be the 35th year in a row for Georgia. I have a list down below of all the schools that have made it at least 10 years in a row and while most of the schools are familiar names there are a few that you might not expect. 

There are going to be some 4-3 matches this weekend and more times than not the team that claims the doubles point will win the match. Of the 64 teams competing in this year's tournament, Ohio State plays the best doubles with the Buckeyes winning the doubles point 87.1% of the time while TCU is second at 86.4%. There are three schools that made the field with a doubles percentage less than 50% with the worst being Lamar at just 28.6%. I have the full list down below. 

The team with the highest UTR Power 6 as of 5/8/18 is Texas A&M with the Aggies coming in at 84.7 which is an average of 14.1 per player. The second, third, and fourth highest are only separated by .1 with Wake Forest at 84.6, Ohio State at 84.5, and North Carolina at 84.4. These numbers will differ some from what you see on UTRs site because I used the actual lineups that the schools submitted whereas UTR has some players listed in the top 6 that won't play due to injury (Oklahoma State's Julian Cash, TCU's Alastair Gray, Virginia's Henrik Wiersholm, Oklahoma's Spencer Papa) or other reasons (Francisco Cerundolo left South Carolina, Santiago Plaza not showing on ETSU's roster). The only team where I made a change was Wake Forest who would have been No. 8 at 83.7 because the roster that Tony Bresky submitted has Eduardo Nava listed at 5 and Alan Gadjiev at 6. They might use that lineup against Navy but from there on out I'd expect to see Christian Seraphim at 5 and Rrezart Cungu at 6 which elevates the team's Power 6 to 84.6.  

For those filling out a bracket over at Slam.Tennis I'd recommend that you plan on having at least one top 16 seed get upset during the first two rounds. Since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1999, there has yet to be a year where all the top 16 seeds survived the opening weekend and in fact in 17 of the 19 years more than one top 16 seed has been defeated. In the past I tracked who advanced to the Sweet 16 by seed within the bracket but since the NCAA changed its procedures this year there won't actually be 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 matchups at each site. Having said that no team has defeated a top 16 seed in the first round and then won another match in the second round to make it the Sweet 16. The closest a team has come was Denver in 2013 when the Pioneers stunned Florida in the first round before falling to Cal in the second round.  

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The NCAA Championship will be decided between a pair of ACC schools, which will be meeting for the fourth time this season, so the question is can Virginia beat them again or will North Carolina cap off its magical run to the final? 

Virginia won each of the three meetings during the season with the Hoos blowing out the Heels at the National Team Indoors but the other two were both 4-3 finals that came down to a third set on a deciding court. Virginia has won 19 of the last 21 matches although both of those North Carolina wins came a year ago and most of the guys on that team are still on this year's team. 

Since the match is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU at 1 p.m. eastern its almost a near certainty that it will be played indoors at Georgia's four-court facility because the weather forecast is showing nothing but rain until later in the day. (UPDATE: NCAA has pushed back the starting time to not before 4 p.m. ET). Playing on just four-courts could definitely change the dynamics of the match because Virginia's biggest strength is its depth with the JC Aragone and Henrik Wiersholm a combined 49-5 in dual-match play. Virginia won't be able to get those guys on the court until after a match finishes up and if North Carolina can take the doubles point and a few matches up top they'll be an enormous amount of pressure on both Aragone and Wiersholm to deliver a win. 

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It's a semifinal Monday in Athens with both matches expected to be close. Originally these matches were scheduled for noon eastern but with rain expected around 2 they've been moved up to 10 a.m. Georgia and North Carolina will play on the Henry Feild Stadium Courts while Virginia and Ohio State will play on the McWhorter Courts. North Carolina is making its first-ever appearance in the semifinals while Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio State have been there on multiple occasions. 

In each of my match previews below I'll list the projected lineups with individual singles and doubles records, individual and team UTRs, team doubles records, box scores from the previous meetings this season, plus I'll make my prediction at the end. I'll give the first one away for free but to see the other you'll need to be a CTT subscriber ($9.99 month/no long term commitment required). 

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Saturday, 20 May 2017 00:05

Elite 8 Previews

The rubber meets the road on Saturday afternoon in Athens with an extremely competitive schedule lined up. In the noon session you'll have the two-time defending champs Virginia taking on Texas and the other match could be the match of the tournament as No. 3 Ohio State takes on No. 6 TCU. In the late-afternoon session they'll be huge crowd on hand to see if Georgia can get past UCLA while a pair of ACC rivals, Wake Forest and North Carolina, will tangle on the back courts. The temperature is expected to be in the upper 80s and may hit 90 so it'll be interesting to see how the teams from outside of the south handle the elements.  

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Wednesday, 17 May 2017 09:30

Men's Sweet 16 Previews

The opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament were completed last weekend so now it's time to look at the Sweet 16 matchups that will take place on Thursday in Athens, Georgia. There will two matches taking place at the same time with one on the main Henry Feild Stadium Courts and the other on the McWhorter Courts. The first matches start at 9 a.m. ET with the final two set to start at 7 p.m. ET though it wouldn't surprise me to see both of the 4 p.m. matches run late. Six of the eight matches will be rematches from the regular season so it'll be interesting to see how those teams do the second time around. 

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Former Virginia Tech Hokie Sebastien Jacques is making his way across the country, by foot, after not being able to walk across a room just a few years ago. Jacques played at Virginia Tech from 2007 to 2010 but during his senior year he had to quit playing due to a lack of energy. After graduating with a degree in marketing he returned home to Magog, Canada, and after seeing several doctor he was eventually diagnosed with a pineal cystic tumor in his brain which was the cause of the energy drain. The doctors in Canada determined the procedure was too risky and the health care system wouldn't cover the cost so Jacques ended up raising $80000 and had the surgery performed in California. The surgery was a success and Jacques returned to a normal life but he decided to embark on the cross-country walk to show people that it is possible to overcome obstacles in life. Virginia Tech had a write-up on Jacques a few days ago plus there are plenty of details on his website

The NCAA Division II Men's Championship has reached the semifinals with #1 West Florida advancing after a 5-0 win over #4 Hawaii Pacific. UWF's top player, #4 Alex Peyrot, played doubles but sat out in singles which was interesting because in the round of 16 its #2 player, Gabriel Dias, did the same thing. Next up for UWF will be #23 Southwest Baptist after the Bearcats held off #16 Ferris State 5-4 with Raul Cabalero winning the deciding match 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(1) at #4 singles. The other semifinal match will be between #2 Barry and #3 Columbus State. Barry cruised past #18 Drury 5-1 with the Bucs taking two of three in doubles and winning every completed set in singles. Columbus State ran through #14 Azusa Pacific 5-1 with the Cougars sweeping all three doubles courts (count as a point each) and then getting two straight set wins at #3 and #4. APU got its lone point when Oliver Frank, D2s top ranked player, cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win at #1. 

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