Events to watch: Sugar Bowl, D-II, John Hayt

As the spring season begins to pick up steam, here are three interesting tournaments to watch:

Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate (women)

Date: Feb. 27-March 1

Field: Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Denver, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, North Carolina, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tulane, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia

The scoop: When you look at this field, the only team that seems to be missing is UCLA. This one will be an amazing tournament to watch as 16 of the 17 teams in the field are ranked inside the top 50 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. Seven of the entrants are among the top 10. Could you call this a national-championship preview? Might as well, because this tournament has nine of the past 12 NCAA champions. This will be a great chance for a team such as Alabama to prove to everyone it is worthy of its No. 1 ranking.

Wildman’s pick: Arizona State. I can’t believe this pick myself! However, ASU seems to have everything going for it, as well as nearly winning both of its tournaments this spring. In only two tournaments all year (both in the spring), ASU already has faced top-notch competition and hasn’t been intimidated one bit. The third time will be the charm for the Sun Devils.

• • •

Golfweek Spring Invitational (D-II men)

Date: Feb. 27-March 1

Field: Lynn, Abilene Christian, Barton College, Indianapolis, CSU-Monterey Bay, Nova Southeastern, Queens-Charlotte, Lander, Coker, St. Mary’s (Texas), Carson-Newman, St. Edwards, Mount Olive, Washburn, Northern Kentucky, Eckerd, St. Andrews Presbyterian

The scoop: When it comes to finding a major field at a Division II tournament, look no further than the Golfweek Spring Invitational. Seventeen schools from across the country will play at Reunion Resort for bragging rights. It’s not often that a D-II tournament has 11 schools ranked inside the top 50, but at this marquis event several teams will be looking to add a very impressive win to their resume. 

Wildman’s pick: Lynn enters the event as the highest-ranked team in the field, at No. 3 in the country. Lynn has won three times this year. The Fighting Knights held their own this past fall at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate, finishing 10th out of 17 schools. All three tournaments that the Fighting Knights won this year also took place in Florida, so when you see a stat like that it’s hard to pick against an in-state favorite.

• • •

John Hayt Collegiate Invitational

Date: Feb. 27-March 1

Field: Alabama-Birmingham, Arkansas, Auburn, Central Florida, Coastal Carolina, Florida, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville, LSU, Mercer, Mississippi, North Florida, Tennessee, TCU, Tulsa

The scoop: The John Hayt Collegiate traditionally is one of the best tournaments of the spring, with an extremely competitive field. This year, the tournament will have three teams from the top 10, all of which are from the SEC (Florida, Auburn and LSU). Florida is coming off an impressive win at its home Gator Invitational, and host North Florida is the defending tournament champion. Florida’s Bank Vongvanij has been playing lights out all year and will be looking for his third individual title of the year.

Wildman’s pick: Florida. It’s hard to pick against the Gators, who have won three events and are on a two-tournament winning streak. Four of the five starters for Florida are ranked inside the top 30, and Andres Echavarria is coming off a win of his own at the Gator. Everything seems to be going right for UF, and its worst finish this year was a T-3 at Isleworth.

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