College golf conference championship winners and losers

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College golf conference championship winners and losers

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College golf conference championship winners and losers

It’s been a busy 10 days in college golf, as more than 30 conference championships combined on the women’s and men’s sides have been completed. There are still some important championships that remain, but several spots in NCAA regionals have been locked up via conference titles, and there have been upsets.

Where do we stand? Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers so far from the conference championship season:

Winners

Texas-San Antonio

The Roadrunners entered the women’s Conference USA Championship ranked 73rd by Golfweek and 75th by Golfstat. With Golfweek’s Lance Ringler projecting the magic number (the threshold Golfstat ranking for an at-large bid) for regionals at 57, Texas San-Antonio was going to see its season end unless it pulled out a conference title, and the squad pulled off that feat. The group cruised to an upset 13-shot victory, earning the Roadrunners an automatic spot into regionals.

Arkansas

The Razorbacks, Golfweek’s No. 2 team, were the favorites entering the women’s SEC Championship. But the SEC offered the same mix of stroke play and match play as will be found at NCAAs, and anything can happen in match play. Arkansas didn’t seem fazed, as the team earned the No. 3 seed from stroke play and won three matches, including the final over top-seeded South Carolina for the conference title. It was Arkansas’ first SEC title.

Prairie View A&M

The Panthers were one of the favorites entering the men’s SWAC Championship, but they hadn’t earned a conference title since 1979. That nearly 40-year drought is over. Prairie View A&M dominated for a 31-shot victory in Louisiana. The triumph earned the Panthers a regional bid. Sure, this wasn’t out of nowhere. But anytime a slump this long is broken, it’s a worthy achievement.

Idaho

The Vandals needed to win the women’s Big Sky to earn a regional bid, and they pulled off the upset. A 5-under final round ensured a 10-shot victory over favored Sacramento State. Idaho entered the week as Golfweek’s No. 90, and an at-large bid was never on the horizon. So the Vandals went out and snatched an automatic spot.

Losers

Old Dominion

A year after earning its first conference title, Old Dominion was in for disappointment. The favored Monarchs were four back entering the final round in the Conference USA Championship, but they couldn’t challenge Texas-San Antonio and dropped to third. Old Dominion was ranked No. 47 by Golfweek and No. 53 by Golfstat entering the week. The team could still earn an at-large regional bid, but it is on the bubble.

Sacramento State

As noted above, Idaho pulled off a Big Sky upset. With that, favorite Sacramento State likely saw its season end. The Hornets were No. 61 in Golfstat and No. 53 in Golfweek entering the tournament. A sizable loss to a lower-ranked squad likely will keep Sacramento State north of the magic number and out of luck for an at-large bid.

What could have been

Maryland

The Terrapins were so close to pulling off something special. They entered the final round of the women’s Big Ten Championship leading by one and were clinging to a tie for the top spot down the stretch. But Michigan State was too strong and pulled out a four-shot win. Maryland may have been the ninth-best team in the Big Ten this year, yet it was on the precipice of a conference title and an auto bid into regionals before settling for a T-2. After entering the week ranked 70th or worse in both standings, there’s a faint possibility the strong finish boosts the Terrapins’ ranking enough to sneak in as an at-large, but in all likelihood, this underdog run at regionals is over. Gwk

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