NCAA regional breakdown: Raleigh (N.C.) Regional
Georgia Tech is the top seed for the NCAA Raleigh Regional, which is set for May 15-17 at Lonnie Poole Golf Club in Raleigh, N.C.
The Yellow Jackets, who advance to match play last year at the NCAA Championship, are ranked second in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. Washington, the second seed, is the only other top-10 ranked team at No. 9.
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.
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WINNING TEAM: Wouldn’t it be fun to see Georgia Tech play Washington in match play to advance to the NCAA Championship? These two teams have had outstanding years, but the edge to win this regional is to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, have won three in a row and five tournaments in all this year. Don’t be surprised to see Washington make a run. The Huskies have placed second in three consecutive starts.
SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): Certainly have to take a hard look at Minnesota. The Gophers had to win the Big Ten Conference championship just to get into NCAA regional play. Sure, they have not played the toughest schedule this spring, but they have posted three wins, a second and a third in five spring starts. Have to say they are playing better than a 10 seed.
MEDALIST CONTENDERS: The clear favorite is Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans, who is entering the postseason with three consecutive wins and making a run at player of the year honors. Others to watch: South Florida’s Chase Koepka, Washington's Cheng Tsung Pan, Texas A&M’s Ben Crancer and Florida State’s Jack Maguire.
INTRIGUING STORYLINE: If this were a normal tournament, where winning was what it was all about, it would be the Georgia Tech/Washington watch. However, since this is all about finishing in the top five – the storyline is Mercer. Can they cap off possibly the best season in program history with a trip to Prairie Dunes?
THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Georgia Tech, Washington, Florida State, Mercer and I really want to pick Minnesota, but let’s go with a team that hardly anyone has talked about all year: Kentucky.
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WINNING TEAM: Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets return arguably their two top players from last year's squad that made match play at the NCAA Championship in Ollie Schniederjans and Anders Albertson, as well as a few other pieces. This is undoubtedly Georgia Tech's region to lose.
SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): It's likely that the top five seeds will all advance, but I'll go with Minnesota, which is fresh off a victory at the Big Ten Championship.
MEDALIST CONTENDERS: Florida State freshman Jack Maguire has won a golf tournament and also shot 62 this season, so he's got the talent to medal in this region. Also don't rule out Mercer's Trey Rule (pun intended).
INTRIGUING STORYLINE: Mercer is making the first NCAA regional appearance in school history, but the Bears have more than enough talent to earn the program's first NCAA Championship berth, as well.
THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Georgia Tech, Washington, Mercer, Florida State, Texas A&M.
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WINNING TEAM: With plenty of experience in the line up, Georgia Tech seems to be poised for greatness this year. Led by Ben Hogan Award finalist Ollie Schniederjans, the Yellow Jackets have picked up five wins on the season and are looking for two more this postseason. NCAA champions anyone?
SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): Minnesota just upset Illinois at the Big Ten Championship and is still riding high heading to Raleigh. The team hasn’t advanced to the NCAA Championship since 2007, but with momentum on their side, this Gophers team seems to be ready for greatness.
MEDALIST CONTENDERS: Junior Ollie Schniederjans is heading into the postseason with three consecutive victories and is arguably the best player in college golf at the moment. Others who can contend: Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan and Florida State’s Jack Maguire.
INTRIGUING STORYLINE: Texas A&M. The Aggies have been ranked inside the top 15 in the Golfweek team rankings all season long, but have fought off a rough ending to the season with a ninth-place finish at the SEC Championship. With Ty Dunlap turning pro in April, All-SEC selections Ben Crancer and Greg Yates will have to take on the leadership role both on and off the course in order for this team to advance to the NCAA Championship.
THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Georgia Tech, Washington, Florida State, Texas A&M and Minnesota.