Events to watch: USF Invite, Rio Verde

Kind of a slow week coming up in college golf, but have no fear: Wildman has a couple of interesting tournaments to take note.

USF Invitational

Date: March 4-6

Field: Arkansas State, Austin Peay State, Cincinnati, DePaul, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida Southern College, Florida State, Jacksonville St., Louisville, Marquette, Middle Tennessee State, Missouri State, North Texas, Rhode Island, South Florida, Toledo, Troy, Central Florida, Villanova

Reader poll

Who will win the USF Invitational?

  • Central Florida 14%
  • Florida State 36%
  • Middle Tennessee State 14%
  • North Texas 25%
  • The field 11%

28 total votes.

The Scoop: Florida State pulled out of the John Hayt, and it appears the Seminoles have replaced it with the USF Invitational. Coach Trey Jones’ squad is in dire need of some wins, as the 48th-ranked team in the country has a head-to-head record of 32-50-1. If FSU were to win this tournament, the ’Noles would pick up 19 wins in the 21-team field. The field is relatively weak, with teams primarily ranked outside the top 110 of the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. This tournament will be gut-check time for FSU, because a poor finish at this event likely would cost the Seminoles a trip to the postseason. Also in the field is 26th-ranked North Texas, which is looking for its second victory of the season, and has yet to finish outside the top 3 in any tournament it has played.

Wildman’s Pick: North Texas. The Mean Green have played solid all season and come in to the USF Invitational as the highest-ranked team. Coach Brad Stracke has rebuilt a solid program in Denton, Texas, and UNT is no longer a surprise team or secret to college golf. UNT is a top-30 team and will start to be considered a favorite in tournaments, especially at a field like this. Anything other than a top-3 finish here for the Mean Green would be a disappointment, but I think they’ll have their eyes on the prize for this one.

• • •

Rio Verde Invitational (women)

Date: March 4-6

Field: Arkansas-Little Rock, Ball State, Bowling Green State, Bradley, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Michigan, Missouri State, Northern Arizona, Ohio, Penn State, Southern Illinois, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Toledo, Akron, Western Michigan, Xavier

The Scoop: Quick: Who’s the highest-ranked team in the field? If you said Michigan, you would be wrong. It is Arkansas-Little Rock, which enters the event at No. 51, along with its impressive head-to-head record of 54-14. This will be the Trojans’ first event of the spring, but they closed out the fall with a first and a second at the MSU/Payne Stewart Memorial and Challenge at Onion Creek, respectively. Pressure will be on Michigan, though, as the Wolverines are sliding down the rankings. The Wolverines are ranked 66th in the country and have a winning record of 36-55-1.

Wildman’s Pick: Western Michigan. I’m not a fan of picking a team that hasn’t played yet this spring, so I won’t go with Arkansas-Little Rock. Instead, I’m going with the 61st-ranked team in the country, Western Michigan. The Broncos have had a quietly strong year with victories at the Cardinal Classic and MAC Preview. In their other four starts this season, the Broncos have never finished worse than third (twice) and two other runner-up finishes. With a head-to-head record of 74-5-1, Western Michigan is sneaking its way up the rankings. A win at a tournament like this won’t give the team a giant push, but another win sure looks impressive for a postseason push. Coach Cindy Trout’s squad will be fishing for its third win of the season at their second tournament of the spring. Sorry, couldn’t resist the fishing reference.

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