Fantasy vs. Reality: The NCAA Championship
The Wildman is back from his week-long road trip to Tallahassee and Augusta, and what a week it was! I saw some great golf and also got to hang out with Augusta State, the defending NCAA champions.
Josh Gregory’s squad hasn’t been getting a lot of attention this year, and it posed the question, ‘Should they be?’ Let’s look into that and a few other debates in this edition of Fantasy vs. Reality.
Augusta State is a national contender this year: Reality. People would have to be naive to think that Augusta State couldn’t win the title again this year. The Jags have all five of their starters back this year after winning it all last year. Earlier in the year Augusta State proved it could handle Karsten Creek with a T-4 at the Golfweek/Ping Preview. Since teams aren’t playing for first, the Jags should feel confident knowing they can at least finish in the top eight. If Augusta State can get in to match play once again, they at least have a one in eight chance of winning back-to-back national titles.
Match play tournaments are good for college golf: Fantasy. Let me make this clear by saying I love match play. Seeing teams go head-to-head with one another will create rivalries within the sport. However, what is the point of doing a match play tournament like the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship? This tournament once again will provide a winner that isn’t the best one in the field and never really finished one of its matches. Georgia Tech advanced to the second round because their hole differential was greater then Washington State’s by a score of 5-2. Can you imagine Washington State coach Walt Williams telling his underdog Cougars, “Guys you gave it your all, but we can’t try to win it because we lost the tiebreaker.” When do you ever hear of a match in match play being decided by a tiebreaker? If a match play tournament can’t provide fans with a complete match then why bother? It just doesn’t seem right that a team like Washington State was denied a chance to complete a major upset. The national championship is the only complete way of doing match play, but if that’s the only place we are going to see it then why bother doing it at all?
Duke will win another Women’s NCAA Title this year: Fantasy. The sixth-ranked Duke women have had a good year, but it hasn’t been great. As it stands right now, Duke has yet to win a tournament this year and its best finish on the season has been three third-place finishes. Teams like USC, UCLA, Alabama and even Arizona State have all won at least one tournament this year. In a year where the top three teams in the country have separated themselves, it’s hard to believe Duke can win a title when they have yet to win. Duke always shows up ready for championship week, but it may not matter how ready the Blue Devils are, because other teams are just flat out better . . .this year, at least.
One of 25 teams could win a men’s national title this year: Reality. When teams get to Karsten Creek later this year, the first thing we need to do is throw out the rankings. No longer will it matter how the season went, because we’ll see 30 of the best teams in the country. I say 25 teams have a chance because typically a handful struggle during championship week. The other 25, however, are competing for a spot on the match play bracket, and after that is settled it’s game on. With match play, the possibilities are endless. Everyone will remember the match between Augusta State and Oklahoma State that occurred last year, but how much longer will people recall the Texas A&M vs. Arkansas showdown? Or, the fact that it was A&M over Michigan in the Final Four? The point is that if a team can crack the top eight and make it in to match play they have a legitimate chance of winning a national championship. Oklahoma State will be tough to beat on its home course, but people said that about the Cowboys the last two years heading into the match play portion of the championship. What do the Cowboys have to show for it? Zero national championships, but two other teams had a chance and walked away victorious from it. All they need is that one in eight chance.