Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Charting this year’s teams and their odds to win the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship, to be held May 26-30 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio:
BEST BETS (3-1)
Oklahoma State: Cowboys have what it takes to join Clemson (2003) as the only team to win conference, regional and NCAA titles in the same season
Georgia: SEC champion Bulldogs are experienced, talented and can go low at any time
USC: Struggled a little late this spring, but if Lovemark is healthy and can get untracked, the Trojans have a solid chance
Washington: Huskies won four times this spring, including the Pac-10 Championship, and for some reason always seem to elevate their game in the postseason
Florida: Gators would like nothing better than to have Billy Horschel’s stellar career end with a championship ring.
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SOLID PICKS (5-1)
Stanford: Cardinal have won only once and had a bit of a scare at the Southwest Regional, but have the talent to bring home the gold.
Alabama: Young Tide finally put it together in winning the Northeast Regional, but still may be a year away from being a top contender
Georgia Tech: ACC champion Yellow Jackets have been up and down all season and will need to hit on all cylinders in Toledo
Arkansas: Razorbacks have finished second in their last five outings; they might just be ready to kick it up one more notch
Illinois: Big Ten champions won four in a row before finishing third at Northeast Regional, and Inverness should be right up their alley.
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DON’T COUNT ’EM OUT (10-1)
Texas A&M: Another young team with plenty of potential, but much will hinge on how well senior Bronson Burgoon, who had a final-round 64 at regionals, plays.
UCLA: Defending NCAA champs almost fell under the .500 mark, but definitely showed championship form in winning the Central Regional.
Central Florida: Knights defeated No. 1 Georgia by 11 shots at the Southeast Regional and also are looking to join the exclusive club of being conference, regional and NCAA champions in same season
South Carolina: Gamecocks have run hot and cold, but they come in on the verge of boiling, so watch out.
Arizona State: Nine-shot victory at the West Regional should give Sun Devils plenty of confidence and momentum.
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OUTSIDE CHANCE (20-1)
Texas Tech: A second place at the Southwest Regional might just be the wake-up call the Red Raiders needed.
Oregon: Second-place finishes at Pac-10 and West Regional have Ducks waddling in the right direction.
Tennessee: Vols still looking for their first victory of season but have four seconds, including Northeast Regional and the Fall Preview at Inverness.
TCU: Horned Frogs come in under the radar, but have three wins and only one finish outside the top 5.
Chattanooga: Mocs appear to have regained the form that gained them two victories to start the fall.
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STRETCHING IT A BIT (30-1)
Texas: Longhorns’ best showings this spring have come on their home course and Inverness doesn’t fall into this category.
Wake Forest: Demon Deacons probably have been the most unpredictable team in the country, so who knows?
Arizona: Wildcats, who finished ninth at the Pac-10 Championship, finally showed some teeth with a T2 at Southeast Regional.
Duke: After struggling much of the spring after the unexpected departure of coach O.D. Vincent, Blue Devils seem to be back in the groove.
Ohio State: What a story it would be if the unheralded Buckeyes gave retiring Hall of Fame coach Jim Brown his second national title.
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LONGEST OF LONG SHOTS (50-1)
Northwestern: Other than the Wildcats themselves, not many believed they would even make regionals, let alone the NCAA finals.
Michigan: After a gallant effort just to make it here, Wolverines will need a monumental performance to make match play.
Virginia: Cavaliers haven’t won this season and there’s little reason to believe that will change at Inverness.
Iowa: Hey, if the Hawkeyes somehow make it to the Elite 8, it would be the Cinderella story of the season.
San Diego: As the lowest-seeded regional team (12th in West) and lowest-ranked program (No. 63 in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings) at Inverness, the Toreros are just happy to be here.