College golf preview: Spring 2012

Patrick Cantlay, of UCLA, and Austin Ernst, of LSU

Patrick Cantlay, of UCLA, and Austin Ernst, of LSU

It’s never too early to focus on the spring college season, right?

Starting Monday, Jan. 9, our college golf experts will break down each of the conferences that awards automatic bids to this year’s NCAA regionals.

You know the heavyweights, like Texas (men) and UCLA (women), but which teams will be vying for the automatic spot from the Colonial Athletic Association? Or the SEC? Or the Big East? We’ve got you covered . . . for the next 35 days.

Want to follow our college gurus on Twitter? Here are some quick links:

• You can follow blogger Asher Wildman here

• You can find Lance Ringler's college Twitter feed here

• Check out Ryan Lavner's witty commentary here

• Follow women's college golf with Julie Williams here

• And follow all of college golf on Facebook by clicking here

• • •

MEN'S

Day 1: America Sky Conference

Conference preview: Three years ago, Matt Smith struggled to even make Hartford's lineup. Now, coach Pete Stankevich can't keep him out of it. Preview & capsules. Plus: Wildman's Corner on the America Sky Conference features a famous, if unknown, face in Mason Casper. Story.

Day 2: Atlantic 10 Conference

Conference preview: Former Auburn star and coach Ryan Cabbage has Charlotte on the way back to the days of NCAA success in 2007-2008. Preview & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner on Xavier trying to get in the way Charlotte winning its seventh straight conference title. Story.

Day 3: Atlantic Coast Conference

Conference preview: To make some noise in the conference, Virginia will be leaning on Ben Kohles and Denny McCarthy during the spring. Preview & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner visits with Florida State's Brooks Koepka. Story.

Day 4: Atlantic Sun Conference

Conference preview: The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles are riding a four-event winning streak heading into the spring. Can they give North Florida a run at an NCAA bid? Preview & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner says Northern Kentucky has been a perennial power at the Div. 2 level, but its move to Div. 1 and the Atlantic Sun Conference will certainly test the Morse. Story.

Day 5: Big 12 Conference

Conference preview: Missouri junior Jace Long, with the help of coach Mark Leroux, has fixed his biggest problem – short putts. Story & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner visits with Texas standout Dylan Frittelli. Video.

Day 6: Big East Conference

Conference preview: South Florida and coach Chris Malloy are making noise despite a deep conference and running into plenty of competition on the recruiting trail. Story & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner says that St. John's is growing as a program with Keegan Bradley's success on the PGA Tour. Story.

Day 7: Big South Conference

Conference preview: LIberty and senior Robert Karlsson are looking to start their own streak in a conference once dominated by Coastal Carolina. Story & capsules.

Day 8: Big Ten Conference

Conference preview: Purdue senior Tyler Duncan used last summer to his advantage and has returned to the success he saw in his freshman season. Story & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner chats with Wisconsin, who will open a new indoor facility in October. Story.

Day 9: Big West Conference

Big West Conference men's golf preview: The goal of any player is to improve with each season and Chris Russo of Cal State Northridge is a great example of that, earning his first collegiate win this fall. Story & preview. Plus, Wildman's Corner provides a "Did You Know?" package on the Big West, including what school coaching and broadcast legend John Madden went to. Story.

Day 10: Colonial Athletic Association

Conference preview: UNC-Wilmington coach Matt Clark is creating a tradition in some untraditional ways, including putting his team through the Iron Hawk Tough Man Competition. Story & capsules.

Day 11: Conference USA

Conference USA men's preview: Ricardo Gouveia and Jose Joia lead a UCF squad that has separated itself from the conference pack and into national contention. Story & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner visits with UCF coach Bryce Wallor to talk about his strong Knights squad. Video.

Day 12: Horizon League

Preview: Cleveland State looks to atone for collapse at last year's NCAA Southwest Regional, and coach Steve Weir thinks he has the squad to do it. Story & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner says that the Horizon League has found a postseason home at Mission Inn in Florida. Story.

Day 13: Ivy League

Preview: Despite its previous success, Columbia is forced to use local courses instead of an on-campus facility that would allow it to continue to grow the program. Story & capsules.

Day 14: Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference

Preview: Loyola will look to extend its dominance of the MAAC this spring, having won the previous four conference titles and NCAA automatic qualifying bids. Story & capsules.

Day 15: Mid-American Conference

Conference preview: Kent State coach Herb Page led the Golden Flashes to the top of the conference in the fall, and that isn't anything new for the hall-of-famer. Story.

Day 16: Missouri Valley Conference

Conference preview: Wichita State's Hunter Sparks won twice in the fall and his coach says there is still untapped potential in the junior standout. Story & capsules.

Day 17: Mountain West Conference

Conference preview: UNLV won three times in the fall - including two record-setting performances - and will rely on Derek Ernst to lead the Rebels into their 24th straight NCAA Regional appearance. Story & capsules.

Day 18: Northeast Conference

Northeast Conference men's golf preview: It has been a struggle for Kevin Farrell and Mount St. Mary's, but a win and a runner-up finish gave the team some hope for the spring. Story & capsules.

Day 19: Ohio Valley Conference

Ohio Valley Conference men's golf preview:David Lawrence once dreamed of being a big-league baseball player, but after a pair of high school injuries, Eastern Illinois has benefited from his new passion: golf. Story & capsules.

Day 20: Pac-12 Conference

Pac-12 Conference men's golf preview: Washington will push conference-favorite UCLA behind its tandem of Chris Williams and Cheng-Tsung Pan. Story & capsules.

Day 21: Patriot League

League preview: Only a season removed from a league title, Army is experiencing a sophomore slump under second-year coach Brian Watts. Story & capsules.

Day 22: SEC

Conference preview: Ole Miss senior Joe David might be small in stature, but his game is plenty big off the tee. If he can get his putter going, he'll be a player to be reckoned with in the spring. Story & capsules.

Day 23: Southern Conference

Conference preview: Chattanooga senior Stephan Jaeger has moved into the spotlight behind his drive to fix his short game. Story & capsules.

Day 24: Southland Conference

Conference preview: Lamar's M.J. Daffue had a brilliant start to 2011, but his fall season started lackluster before a surprise coaching move spurring Daffue back into the winner's circle. Story & capsules.

Day 25: Summit League

League preview: Michael Davan is one of a trio of seniors that led IUPUI to a career fall season. The Jaguars won three times in a hectic seven starts. Story & capsules.

Day 26: Sun Belt Conference

Conference preview: Led by Carlos Ortiz, North Texas has turned around its program into a legitimate contender this spring. Story & capsules.

Day 27: West Coast Conference

Conference preview: Zac Blair doesn't have to look far to see his model of success, as the BYU junior's dad is a former Utah Open champion. Story & capsules.

Day 29: Western Athletic Conference

Conference preview: San Jose State picked up three wins in the fall and is poised to make an unexpected run toward the NCAAs. Story & capsules.

• • •

WOMEN'S

Day 1: Atlantic Coast Conference

Conference preview: North Carolina's deep roster has coach Jan Mann in awe as the Tar Heels set out to earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAAs. Preview & capsules.

Day 2: Atlantic Sun Conference

Conference preview: A bit of seasoning for a pair of freshman has Kennesaw State more optimistic about a potential NCAA bid at the end of the spring season. Preview & capsules.

Day 3: Big 12 Conference

Conference preview: Texas is rewarding Martha Richards' patience, riding Nicole Vandermade and Madison Pressel to the role of favorites for the NCAA automatic bid. Story & capsules.

Day 4: Big East Conference

Conference preview: Christina Miller has made her change in scenery count, leading South Florida with two individual wins in the fall, making the Bulls a tough team to contend with. Story & capsules.

Day 5: Big Sky Conference

Conference preview: Carleigh and Chelsea Silvers are just one of the four pairs of sisters that have played for Northern Colorado over the past six seasons. Can they help dethrone two-time defending champs Portland State? Story & capsules.

Day 6: Big South Conference

Conference preview: Campbell, led by senior Michelle Koh, overcame a rash of injuries and sickness to lead the conference in the fall. Will the Fighting Camels continue their stellar play? Story & capsules

Day 7: Big Ten Conference

Conference preview: Led by a handful of seniors - including standout Nora Lucas - the Illinois women have reached a higher-than-normal ranking and have eyes on the postseason. Story & capsules.

Day 8: Big West Conference

Conference preview: UC Davis, led by Demi Runas, is quietly becoming a perennial contender for the postseason and will try to advance to the NCAA Championship for the second straight season. Story & capsules.

Day 9: Colonial Athletic Association

Conference preview: Georgia State will introduce three new players into its lineup in the spring, but still finds itself as the favorite for the NCAA automatic qualifying spot. Story & capsules.

Day 10: Conference USA

Conference preview: Tulsa is looking to return to its glory days of the 1980s, and might just have the team to make a serious run in 2012. Story & capsules. Plus, Wildman's Corner says that the Horizon League has found a postseason home at Mission Inn in Florida. Story.

Day 11: Horizon League

Preview: Butler will ride the coattails of Michele Nash for one more spring season. Can the Bulldogs make it a spring to remember? Story & capsules.

Day 12: Ivy League

League preview: Yale's Seo Hee Moon is a winner to the tune of seven victories in her college career - and she is only a sophomore. Story & capsules.

Day 13: Mid-American Conference

Conference preview: Kent State has survived the graduation of Martina Gavier with the standout play of three seniors, including Mercedes Germino. Story & capsules.

Day 14: Missouri Valley Conference

Conference preview: Missouri State felt like they were best in the conference last year, but didn't get it done. That has left it with a chip on its shoulder, and will rely on Kelsey Weber and others to advance to the NCAAs. Story & capsules.

Day 15: Mountain West Conference

Conference preview: Leslie Spalding has made an immediate impact with San Diego State, with standout Christine Wong and the Aztecs giving her a win in her first season at the helm. Story & capsules.

Day 16: Northeast Conference

Conference preview: Ann Colligan of St. Francis (Pa.) made an immediate impact as a freshman and has not shown any signs of a sophomore slump. Story & capsules.

Day 17: Ohio Valley Conference

Conference preview: In only four years, Morehead State has built not only a program, but also the expectation of winning and the postseason. Story & capsules.

Day 18: Pac-12 Conference

Conference preview: Colorado might be new to the conference, but the Buffaloes aren't experiencing growing pains with their top-20 ranking. Story & capsules.

Day 19: SEC

Conference preview: Georgia has ridden the coattails of Marta Silva Zamora in season's past, but will need to rely on the rest of the squad as Zamora tries to find her form. Story & capsules.

Day 20: Southern Conference

Conference preview: Behind Leigh Whittaker and some much-needed health, College of Charleston might provide the biggest challenge to perennial power Chattanooga this spring. Story & capsules.

Day 21: Southland Conference

Conference preview: Texas State as a bubble team that never got the NCAA invite last season, so the Bobcats are aiming to take doubt out of it with a good spring. Story & capsules.

Day 22: Sun Belt Conference

Conference preview: Behind sophomore Shelby Coyle, Florida International is poised to make a run at a berth in the national championship. Story & capsules.

Day 23: Summit League

League preview: Oral Roberts has the kind of core that Summit League opponents should envy. With five seniors on the roster, the Golden Eagles hardly lack in experience - especially experience winning. Story & capsules.

Day 24: West Coast Conference

Conference preview: Behind Grace Na, Pepperdine is the heavy favorite heading into the spring season. Story & capsules.

Day 25: WAC

Conference preview: Idaho's Kayla Mortellaro has helped put the Vandals on the map, and will leave a lasting mark on the program as a whole. Story & capsules.

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