There is an obvious reason the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournament is played on different days: The NCAA wants to maximize the coverage. That has not been the case the past two years in college golf, as Division I men’s regionals have been played during the same week as the Division I women’s championship. That will change next year.
The dates of the postseason are set according to the calendar and for the next five years we will see the postseason return to a staggered schedule where each segment gets its own week.
2012 NCAA Division I postseason
• May 10-12 – Women’s regionals
• May 17-19 – Men’s regionals
• May 22-25 – Women’s championship
• May 29-June 3 – Men’s championship
Since I spent the past week at the women’s championship, I had some time today to take a closer look at what happened at the six men’s regional sites.
NCAA South Central Regional
The Story: We know Oklahoma State is the top team in college golf. There is no questioning that, but for the Cowboys to fire a 31-under team total and finish 18 shots better than runner-up Colorado State simply reinforces that Oklahoma State really is that good.
Biggest Surprise: Colorado State was the No. 11 seed in this 13-team field and the Rams managed a second-place showing to qualify for the national championship. Colorado State has had a very good program the last few years, and while a few of head coach Jamie Bermel’s recent teams have been expected to advance to the national championship, this team wasn’t necessarily one of them. This will be the first time Bermel has taken a Colorado State team to the NCAA finals. He took his Drake team in 1997 when the Bulldogs were led by current PGA Tour player Zach Johnson.
Biggest Disappointment: Auburn was a top-10 team in the country and placed eighth. Auburn had recorded 10 top-5 finishes this year posted its worst finish of the year at the South Central Regional. The Tigers stood in second place after the opening round, but struggled the final two days to finish four shots of the qualifying number.
Random Thought: Northwestern posted a 12-under 276 – the best score in the final round – to finish third and qualify for the NCAA Championship. The Wildcats are one of five Big Ten schools who will be participating in the championship.
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NCAA Southeast Regional
The Story: Augusta State will be back at the finals to defend its national title. The Jaguars shot a 2-over 290 in the opening round, but bounced back with a Southeast Regional-best 13-under 275 to finish second behind Florida.
Biggest Surprise: This has to be No. 8 seeded Kennesaw State. The Owls have quickly climbed the college golf ladder under the direction of second-year head coach Jay Mosely. Led by Jeff Karlsson, the Owls have two players ranked inside the top 100. Don’t be too surprised if Kennesaw State has a good showing at the finals.
Biggest Disappointment: Entering the season, Oregon was expected to be a team challenging once again this year for a national title, but after finishing T-10 in the regional, the Ducks failed to advance. Oregon advanced to the semifinals at the 2010 national championship.
Random Thought: Missouri’s Jace Long nearly guided the Missouri Tigers to a top-5 finish, but Long’s final round 10-under 62 was not enough. Missouri finished two shots behind Arkansas, which placed fifth. Long advances to the championship as an individual and is a player to keep on the radar.
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NCAA Southwest Regional
The Story: Arizona, which was the No. 11 seed and playing on one of its home courses, finished in the top 5 and advanced to the national championship. The Wildcats had flirted all season with a sub-.500 record, and it wasn’t until late in the year when the Wildcats improved enough in the rankings to be safe as an at-large bid. Arizona tied for fourth place to advance to the NCAA Championship for the 23rd time in the past 25 seasons.
Biggest Surprise: Arizona also qualifies as the biggest surprise here. The Wildcats were the No. 11 seed and for much of the season,any talks about the Wildcats centered around whether the squad would even make it to regional play, not about the Wildcats playing in the NCAA finals.
Biggest Disappointment: Take your pick here: Texas Tech or Washington. Texas Tech was the No. 3 seed and placed ninth. As for Washington, we are so used to that Husky magic this time of year and it won’t be the same without a Matt Thurmond-coached team to talk about.
Random Thought: San Diego State’s banner year continues with another first: winning a regional. The Aztecs, ranked 10th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, won the Mountain West Conference Championship for the first time a few weeks ago and will play in the national championship for the first time as a top-10 team.
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NCAA East Regional
The Story: Oklahoma comfortably finished inside the top 5 to advance to the national championship. Led by sophomore Abraham Ancer’s individual win, the Sooners are back at the finals for the first time since 2006.
Biggest Surprise: For me, it’s Duke winning this regional. Not that Duke is not good enough, but the fact that Georgia Tech was in the same field. The Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, were 2-1 this year against Duke and up 55 shots. Georgia Tech was coming off a 20-shot victory over Duke at the ACC Championship.
Biggest Disappointment: It would have to be Virginia. This is a program that I selected a year ago as a sleeper to crack the top eight in stroke-play qualifying at The Honors Course. Virginia nearly pulled it off missing a playoff by one shot. The Cavaliers were the No. 3 seed and finished eighth. The good news here is Ben Kohles is just a junior and we will see him one more year at Virginia.
Random Thought: Kent State continues to get the job done. Herb Page and his Golden Flashes just continue to roll along and make noise. Can John Hahn led his teammates to bigger things at Karsten Creek?
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NCAA East Regional
The Story: Big advantage for the Big Ten teams with three advancing and the ninth-seeded Michigan Wolverines winning. Wolf Run Golf Club is a familiar place to the Big Ten schools, with Indiana hosting a long-running regular season tournament at this venue.
Biggest Surprise: With a victory, the Wolverines were the surprise team here and were also a surprise team at the Inverness Club two years ago when they knocked off USC in match play. Can they make another run this year?
Biggest Disappointment: Stanford failing to advance. The Cardinal have not had the type of year many expected and the Cardinal roster includes a few big-name players that did not come together as a whole this season.
Random Thought: A very tough place for several schools. I look for all five of these schools to fare well at Oklahoma State. Wolf Run might have been the closest in similarities to Karsten Creek. This regional could have more in the top 8 next week than any other regional spot.
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NCAA East Regional
The Story: UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay, with a six-shot victory, moved back into the No. 1 spot in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Cantlay reached double-digit-under-par numbers with rounds of 69-67-67 to finish atop the leaderboard for the fourth time this season.
Biggest Surprise: The fact that there were no surprises. The top 5 seeds – UCLA, Texas, USC, San Diego and Ohio State – all advanced.
Biggest Disappointment: I thought Middle Tennessee was going to have a better showing. The Blue Raiders appeared to be peaking and fell a little flat with a 23-over total and 10th-place finish. However, we will see senior Jason Millard at the championship as an individual.
Random Thought: Two years ago this position got a lot of attention, and it looks like Ohio State got the right guy for the job. In just his second-year Donnie Darr appears to have the Buckeyes on the right track as they finished fourth in regional play and enter the NCAA finals as a top-30 team. With Darr being a former assistant at Oklahoma State, he should know the lay of the land. Could Ohio State turn a few heads next week?