Wildman looks ahead: March 25-27
As the regular season winds down, so do the chances for bubble teams to climb the rankings. With a few weeks to go before conference championships begin, here are a few tournaments to tune in to over the weekend.
Bryan National Collegiate (women)
Date: March 25-27
Field: Duke, Virginia, Tennessee, Wake Forest, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Florida State, Ohio State, South Carolina, Washington, Northwestern, Louisville, College of Charleston, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Wilmington, N.C. State.
The scoop: Year-in and year-out, Wake Forest hosts one of the top fields in the country, and the Demon Deacons are doing it again this year. Several top-30 teams are in the field, including sixth-ranked Duke. The Blue Devils will be the favorite to win this tournament and will also be in search of their first team title of the year. The ACC is extremely competitive this year, and this tournament might give us a sneak peek of the ACC Championship. Virginia, which is eighth in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, plus 15th-ranked Wake Forest and 19th-ranked North Carolina, will look to come out on top in this one. Don’t be surprised if this tournament has three ACC schools battling it out on the last day.
Wildman’s Pick: Duke. It’s hard to believe that Duke has yet to win a tournament this year. Coach Dan Brooks’ squad has arguably one of the toughest schedules in the country. However, Duke is the highest-ranked team in the field this weekend, and I think this may be the week the girls get their first win of the season.
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Mountain View Collegiate (women)
Date: March 25-26
Field: Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Colorado State, Gonzaga, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon State, San Jose State, Texas State, Texas Tech, Wyoming
The scoop: Two of the hottest teams of the spring will face off in this 18-team field. Iowa State and Arkansas have been climbing the rankings this spring and will try to continue that trend. For a few teams in the field, this event could make or break their season. Indiana is ranked 65th and cannot afford a poor finish. Colorado State comes in ranked No. 82 and can jump off a bubble spot with a strong performance this weekend. Also, Kansas, ranked 64th, can’t afford a bad showing as the Jayhawks might see their ranking take a dip if they were to fall to some of the teams in the field ranked outside the top 100.
Wildman’s Pick: Iowa State. So far this spring in three stroke-play tournaments, the Cyclones have finished second, first and, at a tough Lady Gator Invitational, T-6. Everything has seemed to go right for Iowa State as the Cyclones have established themselves as the team to beat from the Big 12 this year. I think almost sneaking out a win in Puerto Rico to start the spring proved to these girls they can compete with the best. That’s why as the second-highest-ranked team in the field, they are a favorite and I think the team to beat.
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FAU Spring Break Championship (men)
Date: March 25-27
Field: Connecticut, DePaul, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Minnesota, Murray State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State, South Florida, Wisconsin
The scoop: Over 200 volunteers head to Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., to make these 17 schools feel at home. Only two schools ranked in the top 50 are playing: Ohio State and Northwestern. This is the type of tournament that the Buckeyes and Wildcats cannot afford to take lightly, because lower-ranked schools will be ready to compete.
Wildman’s Pick: Northwestern. The last time I picked Northwestern, the Wildcats won the Big Ten Match Play Championship, so I’ll try my luck with them once again. Northwestern has had more than a month to prepare for this tournament since its disappointing 13th-place finish at the Puerto Rico Classic. I think with that much time to relax and prepare, the Wildcats should be ready to go and eager to win.