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College Feature
NCAA Tournament Roundtable - Part II

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, Georgia, and a spot in the Sweet 16. Those later rounds of the tournament take place May 15-20, with the championship matches contested on the 20th.

You can check out the NCAA Division I Championship brackets here (men, women). The D-II championships (men, women) start with the Round of 16 in Altamonte Springs, Fla., next Wednesday, while the first round of the D-III tournament (men, women) started yesterday - with the final rounds in Claremont, Calif. Finally, the NAIA championships (men, women) start May 13 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. Let's get to it...


Questions and Answers


Q) With only one exception, the top 16 seeds in the men's and women's tournament get to play the first two rounds on their home courts before 32 teams advance to the National Championships. Last year, 29 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

Last year 15 of 16 seeded women's team made it to Champaign-Urbana, with short-handed Duke the only surprise, which is not a word usually attached to the Blue Devils in NCAA competition. With No. 16 seed Southern Cal losing Sabrina Santamaria from the top of their lineup this spring, they must be considered vulnerable to No. 17 Michigan. No. 19 Georgia Tech also has a chance to keep No. 9 seed Vanderbilt from advancing.

For the men, Memphis and Cal were the party-crashers last year, and this year has seen even more parity, but I can't pinpoint an obviously vulnerable seed, unless it's No. 16 Columbia, who must face a good Vanderbilt team on the road.


Sonny Dearth, Daily Press

The Clemson men, who took U.Va. to 4-3 and have spent much of the year ranked among the seeded group, could be a big threat at Kentucky. The Wildcats will need to be on their A-game to advance.


Rick Limpert, College Contributor

This is tough. While there is parity at the top of both the men's and women's fields, there is what one might call a divide once you dive past the top 16 or so teams. For the men, I like a battle-tested Mississippi to win at Notre Dame. For the women, it's back to Los Angeles where those Michigan women have a better than 50% chance to upset the Lady Trojans.


Granger Huntress, Texas College Tennis

I'm going to stay away from Vandy-Columbia, as that one is obvious. If I have to pick just one, then I think the Lexington Regional might be the most susceptible for an upset. Clemson definitely has the opportunity to beat Kentucky.

For the women, I would pick Michigan at USC, but the Wolverines are going to have to prove it outdoors. I also think Rice will have a shot at Baylor.


Dave "Koz" Kozlowski, Inside Tennis With The Koz

There are a few unseeded teams I think can make some noise in the tournament and end up in Athens. Vandy, who knocked off Georgia in the SEC Tournament, is unseeded but hosting the first and second rounds. Columbia is the high seed there, but I like Vandy's chances at home. I wouldn't be shocked to see Tennessee get past Elon and Duke.

Another interesting regional is in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois is the top seed, but you have a very dangerous Memphis team that is led by five seniors and upset Ole Miss last season to make the Sweet 16. Memphis will first have to get by Drake - who actually upset the Tigers during the regular season.


Ross Greenstein, Scholarship for Athletes:

Vandy on the mens side and Michigan on the women's side have the best chances as unseeded teams.


Tony Minnis, Inside College Tennis host:

I would have to say on the men's side it's Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt men have the fortune of being an unseeded team and hosting this year with Columbia being the top seed. Vanderbilt also hosted the SEC tournament and knocked off the top seed University of Georgia two weeks ago and has a lot of momentum going into the tournament.

On the women's side, I am going to pick the University of Michigan in the USC region. Michigan has had another solid year and just barely missed hosting by losing a heartbreaker in the Big 10 tournament. USC has also had numerous injuries this year.


Julie Wrege, TennisRecruiting.net

The Florida men will have a challenge in both of the first two rounds they host. And Vanderbilt could well get through to Athens with Columbia as the 16th seed in their foursome.

On the women's side. Michigan could well come out of the first two rounds.


Marc Lucero, Co-founder and Director of Tennis, RAMP Tennis Academy:

The Vanderbilt men at home get through against the 16 seed Columbia.


Bobby Knight, College Tennis Online author:

I think Vanderbilt, who is hosting its own regional as a No. 2 seed, will knock off both Virginia Tech and Columbia and make it to the Championship Rounds for the second year in a row. I don't think any other top 16 seeds will lose though, the two with the best chance to go down at home would be #14 Florida at the hands of Florida State or #11 Duke at the hands of Tennessee. A year ago, Florida was stunned in the first round by Denver in a rare 4 over 1 upset, so I'm sure that Coach Shelton is reinforcing the point to his team that they can't be looking past St. John's and ahead to a possible second round match with either South Florida or Florida State. Two of Duke's six losses this year came to the teams in the 2 vs. 3 matchup (Tennessee/Elon) so they'll need to stay focused to pull through over either one of them.

Over on the women's side I think Michigan has more than a puncher's chance against USC in the second round. The Wolverines had their 13 match winning streak snapped in the Big 10 Tournament Finals against Northwestern in a match that saw Northwestern win three tight third sets. USC I think all other seeds will advance to the final 16 in Athens.

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Page updated on Sunday, October 06, 2019
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