Lance Ringler breaks down the 2011 Men’s NCAA Championships, slated to begin on Tuesday at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., the home course of Oklahoma State:
The field of 30
The NCAA Championship field, in order of Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking:
- 1. Oklahoma State
- 2. Georgia Tech
- 3. Alabama
- 4. UCLA
- 5. Florida
- 6. Texas A&M
- 7. Illinois
- 8. Augusta State
- 9. LSU
- 10. San Diego State
- 11. Texas
- 13. Duke
- 14. Georgia
- 15. Arkansas
- 17. USC
- 18. Iowa
- 19. California
- 23. Oklahoma
- 24. Tennessee
- 25. San Diego
- 28. Ohio State
- 29. North Carolina State
- 30. Arizona State
- 33. Kent State
- 34. Pepperdine
- 36. Michigan
- 44. Kennesaw State
- 49. Northwestern
- 57. Colorado State
- 60. Arizona
Ringler’s Fab 5
1. Oklahoma State: Best college golf team this season, no matter how you look at it. Add in the home-course advantage, and the Cowboys are the heavy favorite.
2. Georgia Tech: Even with the Yellow Jackets being ranked No. 2, this squad still does not get the respect it deserves. Hard to believe this program is still in search of its first NCAA title.
3. Augusta State: The Jaguars are better than their ranking suggests because of a last-place finish after a scorecard error to end the fall. The defending national champs should be in the mix all week.
4. Alabama: The Tide certainly are talented enough to challenge but must believe they can win the title. If coach Jay Seawell can make his players believers, watch out for ’Bama.
5. Texas A&M: The Aggies have quietly improved all season. J.T. Higgins won’t let his players forget A&M’s upset victory two years ago at Inverness, and this program always will be hungry to win it again.
Kennesaw State: Who had the Owls among the 30 teams advancing to Karsten Creek? Just two Kennesaw players are ranked in the top 400.
Iowa: It’s what coach Mark Hankins does. He gets the most out of his players, no matter whether it’s Texas-Arlington, Michigan State or now the Hawkeyes.
San Diego: Tim Mickelson’s program now has been to three consecutive NCAA Championships. Mickelson’s expectations always have been high, but the Toreros have risen faster than anyone would have predicted.
Arizona: Simply put, when talking about college golf, more is expected out of the name Arizona.
USC: Incredible ending to the spring for the Trojans begs the question: Where was this all season?
California: A very talented group of Bears was expected to be pushing into the top 10, rather than barely staying in the top 20.
• The Southeastern Conference leads the way with six teams advancing to the finals, but the surprise here is that the Big Ten advanced five schools to equal the total of the Pac-10. These three conferences represent more than half of the 30-team field.
• Who said you have to play against the best to beat the best? Kennesaw State entered the postseason with a strength-of-schedule ranking of 134, yet the Owls have found their way to Karsten Creek.
• With Washington failing to advance to the NCAA Championship, Oklahoma State is the only team in the NCAA field that has made it to the match-play Elite Eight the past two years.