NCAA regional breakdown: Columbia (Mo.) Regional
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Oklahoma State will lead 12 other teams into Columbia, Mo., as the top seed for the NCAA Columbia Regional, which will contested May 15-17 at The Club at Old Hawthorne.
The fifth-ranked Cowboys are one of four top-25 teams according to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Virginia (12), LSU (17) and Arkansas (23) are the other three.
Over the next few days, our college golf experts will breakdown each of the six NCAA regionals, answering some of the most asked questions for each regional.
- Auburn (Tuesday)
- Columbia (Wednesday)
- Eugene (Thursday)
- Raleigh (Friday)
- San Antonio (Saturday)
- Sugar Grove (Sunday)
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- WINNING TEAM: Oklahoma State has been my choice to win it all for much of the year and I still think they can if they can find the top eight after 54 holes of stroke-play qualifying at Prairie Dunes, but this week LSU is my choice. The Tigers were a team with big expectations entering the season and seem to be clicking entering May. LSU won The Aggie and placed second to Alabama at the SEC Championship.
- SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): Iowa. The Hawkeyes just finished third at the Big Ten Conference Championship to cap off a spring season with a 47-3 head-to-head won-loss record. If the Hawkeyes can stay in the hunt over the first 36 holes, they have shown they have what it takes to be low team on the final day.
- MEDALIST CONTENDERS: The top player in the Columbia Regional is Wyndham Clark of Oklahoma State. Clark has yet to win a tournament this year, but has eight top-6 finishes this year. Also keep an eye on LSU’s Stewart Jolly, Virginia’s Denny McCarthy, Arizona State’s Jon Rahm and Iowa’s Steven Ihm.
- INTRIGUING STORYLINE: This might be the most competitive regional which sets up for many storylines: First, Missouri has had some good teams in the past few years and have not been able to advance to the finals. Can they do it as the host school? Second, LSU and Arkansas have had underachieving seasons, can they make up for that with a good finish here in the regional and run at Prairie Dunes? Third, if you are top-5 seed, Iowa and San Diego State are not the 6th and 7th seed you want to see in your regional.
- THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . LSU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Arizona State and Iowa
• • •
- WINNING TEAM: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys boast a very potent starting five led by redshirt freshman Wyndham Clark, who is ranked ninth in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Seniors Ian Davis and Talor Gooch provide experience while sophomore Jordan Niebrugge and freshman Zach Olsen have the talent to challenge for the medal.
- SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): San Diego State. The seventh-seeded Aztecs are playing in their 16th straight NCAA regional. Despite not advancing a year ago after losing in a playoff for the final NCAA Championship bid, San Diego State won its regional in 2011 and was second in 2012, so it knows how to play well in the postseason.
- MEDALIST CONTENDERS: There's a good chance an Oklahoma State player winds up as medalist, but also keep an eye on Arizona State's Jon Rahm and LSU's Stewart Jolly.
- INTRIGUING STORYLINE: LSU started the season off poorly, finishing seventh in their home event during the fall. But the Tigers, ranked 17th by Golfweek, have been hot lately. They won their final regular-season event of the spring before finishing runner-up at a competitive SEC Championship.
- THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Oklahoma State, LSU, Arkansas, Arizona State and San Diego State.
• • •
- WINNING TEAM: Oklahoma State. The team finished third at the Big 12 Championship, but with a solid lineup from top to bottom, led by U.S. Public Links champ Jordan Niebrugge and Golfweek’s ninth-ranked player Wyndham Clark, expect the Cowboys to bounce back in Missouri.
- SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): Iowa. The Hawkeyes have qualified for six consecutive NCAA regionals and are looking to make it to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in six years. Senior Steven Ihm will have to make a big impact for the team.
- MEDALIST CONTENDERS: Oklahoma State’s Wyndham Clark is finally going to break through and in a big way. Clark has had six top-5 finishes in 10 starts and is looking for his first collegiate win after redshirting in 2012-13. Others that will contend: Virginia’s Denny McCarthy and Arizona State’s Jon Rahm.
- INTRIGUING STORYLINE: Arkansas. The Razorbacks finished T-6 at the SEC Championship in their last outing when in reality the 23rd-ranked team should have been competing with Alabama for the title. The Razorbacks were seventh in Golfweek's preseason rankings and were on pace for a great season with two victories before March, but struggled down the stretch.
- THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Oklahoma State, Virginia, LSU, Arizona State, Iowa
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