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College Feature
NCAA Tournament Roundtable - Part II
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The NCAA Division I Tennis Championships start today. The top men's and women's college tennis programs face off in first-round action across the country, with all teams competing for tickets to Athens, Ga. and a spot in the Sweet 16. Those later rounds of the tournament take place May 17-22, with the championship matches contested on the 22nd.

You can check out the NCAA Division I Championship brackets here (men, women). The D-II championships (men, women) are already underway, with the teams working their way through regional play towards the championship rounds in Louisville, Ky. The D-III tournaments (men, women) start today as well, with the final rounds in Cary, N.C. Finally, the NAIA championships (men, women) will take place in Mobile, Ala.

This past Monday, our college tennis contributors reviewed the field. Today, they return to comment on these regional rounds - and the teams that have a shot to go the distance.

 

Questions and Answers

 

Q) This season, the top 16 seeds play the opening rounds on their home courts. When this weekend is over, 16 men's and women's teams will advance to the National Championships, and those 16 seeds are prohibitive favorites. Last year, 28 of the 32 top seeds advanced. Name an unseeded team who you think has a strong chance to advance to the championship rounds in Athens.

 

Colette Lewis, ZooTennis.com

I can't narrow down to one, but on the women's side, I wouldn't so much as raise an eyebrow if Illinois, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame or Texas Tech made it to Athens. On the men's side, Auburn, Baylor, Texas, Tennessee and Tulsa all have a chance to upend their hosts in regional finals.

 

Erica Perkins Jasper, USTA Junior and Collegiate Competition

This is tough. It has been one of those years where all 32 seeds could advance - especially since all of those teams have played very well at home this season. However the depth and parity of both sides has been pretty impressive this year as well, so we could also see a large number of upsets!

On the women's side I will be interested to see how Nebraska fares; they've had a great year but fell victim at the Big Ten conference tourney to the surging Purdue Boilermakers. I think a possible second round matchup with former Big 12 conference opponent Texas will show a lot as they haven't been tested by any top 20 opponents outside of the Big Ten.

On the men's side, I'll be watching Tennessee; they've had some ups and downs this season, but they have a lot of experience come tournament time - it will be exciting to see how they fare in UNC's regional.

 

Harry Cicma, NBCSports.com, and Color Analyst for 2012 NCAA Tournament

I don't feel there will be an unseeded team advancing. The top contenders may not be undefeated, but they are all very close in strength, and I don't see a dark horse having the stamina to make it to the later final rounds. There will be 4-3 matches, but in the end, it will be the top seeds having the chance to hoist the prestigious NCAA National crown.

 

Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net

Coach Bryan Shelton has his Georgia Tech team playing well in April, reeling off the last three wins of the ACC regular season plus two more victories in the ACC tournament. The Yellow Jackets loss a heartbreaker to UNC 4-3 in a match that was as tight as the score indicates.

In the first round Georgia Tech will take on Oklahoma State, who had the recent upset of the Texas Longhorns. OSU had five losses previous to that upset victory, so it may be difficult for them to sustain momentum from that match. Those two teams saw each other back in the fall at the Georgia Tech Invitational where Georgia Tech had impressive victories.

The winner of this first round match will take on the winner of the match between No. 8 seed Alabama and Army, which may be closer than predicted by the seedings. The Tide also had an impressive April with four victories and they will have home court advantage, but Coach Shelton's Yellow Jackets may make another trip to Athens where they won the NCAA title in 2007.

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