Championship Sunday is upon us with No. 2 Texas taking on No. 4 Wake Forest in the men's final while No. 1 Georgia plays No. 3 Stanford in the women's final.
Wake Forest will be seeking its second consecutive championship while Texas is looking for its first. Stanford will also be seeking its second consecutive championship and 20th overall while Georgia hopes to win its third.
For the fourth straight day the weather forecast calls for plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 80s so unless something unexpected happens this will be the first time in recent memory that none of the matches at the finals site were effected by wet weather.
Let's take one final dive into the numbers to see who has the edge in each championship match.
It'll be a quick turnaround for the women with everyone back on court less than 24 hours after completing their quarterfinal matches. North Carolina and Stanford will play the opening semifinal at 2 pm eastern while Georgia and Duke won't take the court until the conclusion of the men's semifinal between Wake Forest and North Carolina which I expect to be a lengthy 3 plus hour match.
All your stats, trends, and records are listed down below in the match tables so look them over and try to figure out who will win.
Semifinal Saturday is less than 24 hours away with Wake Forest and North Carolina set to meet for the third time in the last three months while Texas and Florida will meet for the first time in over two years. Both matches are expected to be extremely close with the UTRs of most individual matchups almost identical.
The heat and humidity played a role in Thursday's matches and will likely be a factor again on Saturday with temps expected to be in the upper 80s. Both Wake Forest and North Carolina were on the court for 3 hours on Thursday, though the Heels played under the lights, while Texas and Florida were both off the court in just over 2 hours so neither team in either matchup will really have much of a rest advantage.
Let's get to it and take a look at the numbers.
Friday will be the start of the NCAA Women's Quarterfinals with the top 8 seeds making it to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2011. While the men have a day off between the quarters and semis the women will play three straight days which means fitness is going to be key with most of these matches expected to be hotly contested.
Five of the final eight have won a NCAA Championship with Stanford leading the way with 19 titles, Georgia and UCLA each having 2, while Vanderbilt and Duke have 1. Neither South Carolina or Pepperdine have ever advanced past the quarterfinal round while North Carolina will look to do so for just the third time in program history.
If looking at the UTR Power 6s, Georgia is the biggest favorite (+2.20) in the quarterfinals while No. 5 seed Duke is a favorite over No. 4 South Carolina with a UTR Power 6 of 1.01 point higher.
Slam.Tennis shows that Georgia and North Carolina are both prohibitive favorites, with an expected winning percentage of 96%, while Duke is the smallest favorite with a 56% expected winning percentage over South Carolina.
The USTA National Campus's website has all the links that you'll need to follow the championships so make sure you check out what they have to offer.
The NCAA Quarterfinals get started at noon eastern this Thursday at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona. In case you missed the announcement last week the USTA and the Tennis Channel have entered into a three-year partnership beginning with this week where the Tennis Channel will show more than 50 hours of live matches during the NCAA Championships. During the team portion of the NCAAs the Tennis Channel will show the two late matches each day and then on Sunday they'll show both the men's and women's finals. The USTA National Campus website has plenty of information on the NCAAs and also lists all the matches that the Tennis Channel will show all the way through the individual tournament.
The eight quarterfinalists are all ranked in the most recent ITA Top 10 and I think all eight have a reasonable chance to win it all. Virginia, Wake Forest, and Baylor are the only programs of the eight remaining that have won an NCAA Championship and with Virginia and Wake set to meet on Thursday that means that at most they'll be two former champs left by the weekend.
All eight teams that won last week had the higher UTR Power 6 so it that holds up again on Thursday the four semifinalists would be North Carolina, Wake Forest, Florida, and Texas. The difference between Ohio State and North Carolina as of Sunday evening was a microscopic 0.08 so there's a chance that by match time those numbers may have shifted back towards Ohio State - regardless it should be a heck of a match.
Slam.Tennis shows that Ohio State has the largest expected winning percentage at 88% while Florida is the smallest favorite at just 57%.
The weather forecast for Thursday shows temperatures should be in the mid to upper 80s and by the weekend they'll be up around 90 so it's going to be a battle of attrition.
I previewed the NCAA Men's Super Regionals on Monday and now it's time to preview the NCAA Women's Super Regionals which will take place on Friday and Saturday.
Five of the eight Super Regionals will be rematches with UCLA and Washington set to meet for a third time while the two USCs (Southern Cal & South Carolina) will meet for the second time but first time on this continent after a January dual in Australia.
Pepperdine and UCF will meet for the first-time ever while Stanford and Kansas will meet for the second time with the previous match taking place 22 years in 1997.
The biggest underdog in terms of UTR Power 6s are NC State (-3.68) and USC (-3.33) while the teams with the lowest expected winning percentage according to Slam.Tennis are Oklahoma State and Michigan which have just a 3% and 4% chance to win respectively.
Slam.Tennis has the UCLA/Washington match as the closest thing to a toss-up while UTR P6s have Pepperdine/UCF and North Carolina/Oklahoma State as the two closest.
All road trips are not created equal with UCF, USC, and Kansas traveling over 1800 miles while NC State makes the short 23 mile drive up the road to Duke.
As with the men, rain could play a role this weekend with the matches at North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Georgia, and possibly South Carolina expected to see rain at some point over the weekend. As of today, the weather looks good on Friday in the Durham/Chapel Hill area so Duke shouldn't have a problem getting its match in outdoors but with rain coming Saturday maybe UNC thinks about shifting its match up a day - we'll see.
A new era begins this weekend with the introduction of the Super Regionals which will take place on campus sites across the country. Up until this point all Round of 16 matches have taken place at the finals site but a change was announced back in January 2017 with "part of the rationale for the change being to provide teams with another opportunity to generate local support and highlight their programs in a championship-caliber competition." The other main reason was to reduce the congested schedule, which always is made worse by rain, plus the new format allows for the semifinals and finals to be played on Saturday/Sunday as opposed to Monday/Tuesday.
Three of the eight Super Regionals will match teams that have already played this season with Florida and Tennessee set to meet for a third time while Virginia/Stanford and Mississippi State/TCU will meet for a second time.
There will be no first-time meetings however Columbia, Stanford and North Carolina will try to defeat Ohio State, Virginia and USC for the first-time in program history.
The biggest underdog in terms of UTR Power 6s are California (-3.1) and Tennessee (-2.56) while the teams with the lowest expected winning percentage according to Slam.Tennis are Cal and Oklahoma which are both projected to have just a 6% chance of winning.
The three matches expected to the closest according to UTR-P6 and Slam EWP are Mississippi State/TCU, USC/UNC, and Baylor/UCLA which makes sense due to the closeness of seeding.
Every team that goes on the road will be making the trip by plane with the shortest travel distance 530 miles while the longest is 2800 miles. Down below I have the distances which show Stanford, UNC, Cal, and UCLA will be traveling over 1000 miles with Stanford just short of 3000 miles.
The coldest host site will be Columbus (OH) with temps expected to be in the low 60s while the hottest will be in Gainesville (FL) with match-time temps expected to be right at 90 degrees. As of today there is a greater than 50% chance of rain on matchday at Texas, Mississippi State, and Baylor with Mississippi State the only site that doesn't have an indoor option in town (Tuscaloosa 85 miles away the closest).
The opening day of the 2019 NCAA Tournament was plagued by rain at many sites but despite the delays most of the matches went according to plan with all the national seeds in action advancing though in the 2 vs. 3 matches (I know they don't refer to them that way anymore but I will) there were several close ones. All 16 men's sites were supposed to complete their first round matches on Friday but rain wiped out play in College Station at the indoor-less Texas A&M Regional so they'll play on Saturday and Sunday. 7 of the 16 women's sites played on Friday with the matches in Stillwater being played indoors while Kansas and Denver started outdoors but moved indoors in Lawrence.
I'll start off with the closest women's matches of the day which took place in Stillwater and Nashville.
The NCAA released the Division 1 men's and women's brackets on Monday evening with very few surprises. As it was a year ago, geography playing a major role in deciding who went where with some regionals much tougher than others while a few were much weaker than others. On the men's side, Columbia, which is the No. 16 national seed, will welcome in Monmouth, Bryant, and Penn State which in the past would have been a 4, 4, and 3 regional seed. Baylor and TCU have the toughest regionals in terms of ranking with both welcoming in teams that would have had regional seedings of 2, 3, and 3.
On the women's side Kansas (No. 14) has the toughest draw with Denver, Florida, and Boston College coming to town which would have been a 2, 3, and 3 regional seed. Kansas and Denver met in last year's NCAA first round in Malibu with Kansas winning a close 4-3 match.
If all the host teams were to advance this is what the Super Regionals would look like the weekend after next.
Championship Tuesday has arrived!! The women's final will start things off at 1 p.m. while the men's final will get started no earlier than 5 p.m. Stanford will be seeking its 19th NCAA Championship while Vanderbilt attempts to win its second. In the men's final both Wake Forest and Ohio State are seeking their first national championship with this being Wake first-ever appearance in the finals while Ohio State was there once before in 2009
The NCAA will have a live broadcast available on NCAA.com so head to this link at match time to listen to the broadcast. I believe that the regular live stream will also be available through Wake's host site however the live scoring is usually a point ahead of the stream and frankly the stream itself isn't the great but at least it's something (Update: Wake does not have its regular live stream so it's only available through the NCAA)