A look ahead: Women's East Regional

It’s the most exciting time of the year, postseason time! With the NCAA Women’s Regionals teeing off Thursday, it’s time to take a closer look at each regional. Today, we start with five things to watch from the East Regional.

EAST REGIONAL

Site: LPGA International, Daytona Beach, Fla.

1.) Alabama or Purdue needs to win to be considered a national championship contender. The Crimson Tide enter the regional with the No. 1 seed, and is the third-ranked team in the country (Purdue is fourth in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings). On the year ’Bama has played exceptionally well, winning four tournaments on the year and having three runner-up finishes. Alabama also finished T-3 at the LSU Golf Classic and was sixth at the Mason Rudloph back in the fall. Purdue is the defending champion, and has also won four tournaments on the year. However, it was a bit shocking that both Purdue and Alabama failed to win their respective conference championships. These two teams are clearly the cream of the crop in the East Regional, and if one were to win would be a favorite to win it all in College Station. Traditionally, teams that play well at nationals arrive with momentum, – and that doesn’t mean just being happy to make it there.

2.) Can the West Coast teams play out East? Both California and Arizona State may be at a disadvantage despite being the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively. California has played on the East Coast just once so far this year, and the Sun Devils have yet to play east of the Mississippi as a team all year. Traditionally, ASU plays a lot of desert golf, and Cal had an up-and-down spring. Just because the Pac-10 has been strong all year doesn’t mean that both of these teams are locks for nationals. Both teams will be outside their comfort zone on the east coast and playing a different type of golf course, but if they want to move on, they’ll have to just go out and play for 54 holes to make sure they get the job done.

3.) This tournament will be a Florida shoot out. Three teams in this regional are from the Sunshine State and there is a good chance that one or two of them can finish in the top eight. Florida, Florida State and Florida International all enter with a top-50 ranking in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and should feel comfortable with their surroundings. At one point during the season, FIU was the highest-ranked team in the state. Last year down the stretch FSU was one of the hottest teams in the country, and Florida failed to make it out of the East Regional for the second-straight year after winning the East in 2008. This tournament may not just be a chance to crack the top eight, but it may just be for bragging rights and recruiting battles in the state.

4.) Pressure should be on teams with losing records. There are three teams in this regional that earned a spot in the postseason despite having losing records; Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas Tech. Perhaps the biggest surprise was No. 57-ranked Kentucky, with a head-to-head record of 47-104-0, which is a winning percentage of just 31 percent. Kentucky earned their way in with a decent ranking, but should a team that performed poorly all year be rewarded with an invite to the postseason? If Kentucky, as well as the other two teams can’t at least compete for a spot in the top eight on the leaderboard, then maybe talks of a .500 rule in the women’s game could start to emerge. Otherwise teams that failed to play well in the regular season will continue to be rewarded for a strong schedule and not their performance on the golf course.

5.) This regional will contain the most upsets. Fans of the East Regional have to be excited, because this one will not be settled until the last putt drops on the very last hole. On paper this seems to be the deepest regional top to bottom, and a few of the top teams could stumble. Teams with seeds of nine to 14 (Florida, Florida State, Colorado, TCU and Louisville) all could play their way into the top eight. Rarely do we see the top eight seeds all advance, but this regional has the make-up for several Cinderellas to emerge. Everyone loves the postseason, but if you’re a top team at the East Regional, then come ready to play, because this tournament is deep with talent.

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