Five Things: The NCAA women’s regionals
No thumbs up/thumbs down today, kiddies, because it’s postseason time and The Wildman is fired up. Let’s take a look at five key things regarding the NCAA women’s regionals.
Asher Wildman and Lance Ringler break down the NCAA women's regional bids, and try to identify a few potential Cinderellas.
1. The No. 1 seeds: Alabama, USC and UCLA all had outstanding seasons and all deserved the No. 1 seeds they received. All spring, the rivalry of the Bruins and Trojans has been intense, with those teams flip-flopping the No. 1 spot in the ranking seemingly every week. However, the Crimson Tide have a golden opportunity to steal some headlines of their own if they can win the East Regional at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. Alabama doesn’t have to win the regional to be considered a national-title contender, but if it could win, then it would send a clear message that the Crimson Tide are ready to compete for a championship in College Station. Defending NCAA champion Purdue is also in the East Regional and will try to show to everyone it shouldn’t be forgotten, either.
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2. East Regional: What’s interesting about the East is that you have two top Pac-10 teams heading three time zones ahead. California and Arizona State will be the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively, and the LPGA International course could provide a challenge to the West Coast teams. ASU has played a lot of desert golf this spring, and the Bears have only been East once all year, which was back in the fall, at the Mason Rudolph. Some teams struggle in different surroundings, so we will have to see how these two West Coasters do on the other side of the Mississippi. This regional is extremely deep, with other teams such as Auburn, Michigan State, North Carolina and Vanderbilt, but then there’s three Florida teams that should be able to play well on the course (Florida, Florida State and Florida International). TCU traditionally is a team that plays well in regionals and enters as the No. 12 seed. I also would not be surprised if the No. 17 seed Coastal Carolina or 18th-seeded Augusta State made a run at one of the top 8 spots. This is a very deep regional, and one that could have several upsets.
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3. Central Regional: The toughest part about the Central this year won’t just be the Warren Golf Course, but whether or not Mother Nature cooperates. It could be extremely windy or rainy in South Bend, and that could make an already tough golf course even harder. This regional isn’t as deep as the East, but does have an interesting field. UCLA and Duke headline this one and should have no problem advancing. However, the next six spots could go to about 10 teams. If we have seen one thing from LSU this year, it is that if its star, Megan McChrystal, plays well, then the team plays well. But if she struggles, then the Bayou Bengals could be in trouble. Arkansas has had flashes of greatness, along with finishes that were rather disappointing for their standards. Wake Forest will be determined to play well after failing to advance from the East Regional a year ago. Texas enters the tournament coming off a win at Big 12s and will hope to carry that momentum, and Tulane will look to rebound after losing the Conference USA Championship to a then-97th-ranked UTEP. After those seven teams is where it gets even more interesting. Stanford is the eighth seed and knows it’ll be battling with ninth-seeded Notre Dame on its own course. Both Ohio State and Kent State have played the Warren Course earlier in the year and will have a big advantage there. Lastly, keep an eye on Chattanooga, which always finds a way to make its way to nationals. This year, the team is a No. 12 seed, but easily could finish in the top 8 on the leaderboard.
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4. West Regional: Perhaps the most straight-forward regional is the one being held at Washington National Golf Club. The top seven seeds (USC, Virginia, Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee, Pepperdine and Iowa State) all are in the top 20 of the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. Now, several odd things always happen at regionals, so the chances of the top seven teams finishing in the top seven are unlikely. What makes this regional intense is that pressure will be on Texas A&M, which is hosting this year’s NCAA Women’s Championship. The Aggies enter as the No. 9 seed, right behind UC-Davis. However, Washington will be playing on its home course as the No. 13 seed, and will try to move up the leaderboard, past teams such as Oklahoma, Oregon and South Carolina, who may not be too familiar with the Huskies’ home turf. This one seems straight-forward, with at least six of the top seven teams advancing, which means you’d have about seven teams battling for two spots.
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5. Last year’s numbers: In 2010, a total of eight teams that had a seed in the top eight failed to advance. The highest seed that failed to advance last year was in the East Regional, and it was the third-seeded Wake Forest, which came in after winning the ACC Championship. Two four seeds from last year also failed to advance: Michigan State and Ohio State. The lowest seed to crack the top 8 on a leaderboard a year ago was 14th-seeded San Jose State. Both the West and Central regionals had three of the top eight teams failing to advance, whereas the East only had two. Two 11 seeds advanced to nationals last year: Tulane in the East, Oregon in the Central. All in all, it is clear that just because you are a top-seeded team doesn’t mean you are moving on to NCAAs. Let the craziness begin!