A lot to talk about here, but first of all lets run down the expected field of 43:
Pool A (The winning team from each of the 30 conferences who have automatic bids to the tournament):
Allegheny Mountain- PSU-Behrend
Old Dominion-W & L
Pool B (The top 6 teams from conferences who don’t have an automatic bid to the tournament or independent teams)
1. UC Santa Cruz
6. The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)
Pool C (The top 7 teams from conferences who have automatic bids and don’t win their conference)
4. Cal Lutheran
6. Wash U
Quick note on this: I don’t see how Redlands gets in anymore. They had so many golden opportunities and blew all of them. I think Pool C is set after the Bulldogs loss to CLU yesterday and I think both the Bobcats and Bears won’t have to sweat much tomorrow. I’d be shocked to see Redlands in the tournament.
I’m going to count down from Region 8 all the way to Region 1 and provide a brief explanation of how I came up with each region. I will note that I don’t have all of the information necessary to make a perfect bracket, meaning I don’t have info on flight costs and who put in a bid to host.
I am going to put the teams in order of seeding within their regional and an asterisk (*) denotes the host team. As a reminder, in the quarterfinals, the winner of 1 plays the winner of 8, 4 v 5, 3 v 6 and 2 v 7.
Whitman, Johns Hopkins, Mary Washington*, PSU-Behrend, Wilkes, Elizabethtown
As the highest ranked #2 seed, outside CA of course, Hopkins should get the right to play the lowest ranked #1 seed, especially when Whitman is flexible in where they can fly. I would have had Hopkins hosting this regional, however I know their facilities have not been approved as a host site in the past. In 2010, Hopkins put in a bid to host at nearby Goucher College and were granted the right to do so. I’m not sure if they are going to this again, but I assumed no. If this region somehow moves from Mary Wash to Hopkins, the teams won’t change at all, it really doesn’t make a difference. In fact, Hopkins has to have some very bad memories from the Goucher site. This region would present the Blue Jays with a golden opportunity to qualify for the Final 8. If Mary Wash somehow gets grouped with Emory, then this region may move elsewhere (TCNJ?).
Trinity (TX), Wash U *, Kalamazoo, Coe, Grinnell
Similar situation as Region 8 with Wash U, Midd and Bates being the next three highest ranked #2 seeds. Bates and Midd will obviously drive to 1 of the 3 Northeastern host sites, so the obvious solution is for Wash U to host Trinity (TX) here. Trinity got a bit screwed when Bowdoin beat Williams yesterday, because the Tigers were in line to be the #6 overall seed instead of the #7, therefore avoiding Emory in the quarters. It is possible that Trinity (TX) will remain ahead of Bowdoin in the seeding due to their direct win over them, but I think that’s doubtful because they have losses to Skidmore and Cal Lutheran, both of which don’t look great anymore, and Bowdoin has a better overall resume. Kalamazoo probably travels here to be the 3 seed rather than to Whitewater, because that region will already have Gustavus and Whitewater. The region is filled out with 2 very solid Iowa teams, both of whom would test Trinity (TX) in the round of 32. Coe is fresh off a dramatic win over Luther in their conference tournament and Grinnell took 2 matches from Chicago in last year’s NCAAs.
CMS*, Pomona-Pitzer, UC Santa Cruz, Cal Lutheran
Fairly self-explanatory. CMS has been by far the best of these teams the past 6 weeks and that’s why I think they get the top seed and will host despite their direct loss to Cruz. The only other potential host site is Cruz, but I think their loss to PP, a team CMS has beaten twice, lost them their hosting privileges. Whoever gets the 2 and 3 seed doesn’t really matter, because they will play each other anyway. CLU is almost definitely the #4 here and they have an uphill battle to get out of this region. CMS is obviously the favorite, but they have been volatile and if Cruz sneaks by PP and then plays great doubles against the Stags, anything can happen. I really see Cruz as the only threat to beat CMS here, I don’t think PP has quite enough even if they play their best match.
Williams*, Middlebury, Vassar, TCNJ, Stevens, Nichols
Bowdoin’s win over Williams yesterday threw a curveball at the overall seedings for the tournament and I’ll address that here. One thing that I think is for sure is that Kenyon moves up to #3. They have been nothing but solid all season and have a direct win over Bowdoin. The 4-5-6 can really go any way between Bowdoin, Williams and California. 4 will end up playing 5 so those don’t really matter, but whoever gets the 6 will be in line to play Kenyon in the quarters, and frankly at the moment I’d rather play Kenyon than Williams, CMS or Bowdoin, so in my mind whoever gets that 6 (I’m giving it to Cali), is a little lucky. Trinity, as I said above, has too many losses to move up to 5 or 6, I think they’re stuck at 7. With that tangent aside, there is a huge short-term advantage to getting the 4 overall, and that is you avoid Middlebury in your regional. After Amherst, there are two other NESCAC hosts (Bowdoin and Williams) and two highly ranked #2 seeds (Bates and Midd). I see Midd as a much more dangerous opponent than Bates, and whoever ends up the #4 overall between Bowdoin and Williams most likely draws Bates in their regional (the lower ranked #2), a much more appealing scenario.
Bowdoin*, Bates, MIT, Drew, UMass Dartmouth
See Region #5 for further explanation, but whoever comes out the higher overall seed between Bowdoin and Williams almost certainly gets Bates as their #2 seed as opposed to having to face Middlebury. Bates is a dangerous team, but I’d sleep a lot easier knowing that I have to play a team with 3 strong players versus a more experienced deeper team coached by Bob Hansen. Because of the recent win, Bowdoin may jump ahead of Williams, however if you compare overall resumes Williams probably has the stronger case for the #4 seed since they beat CMS. The point is both Bowdoin and Williams have an excellent argument for this spot and whoever does end up getting it is lucky. The third possibility is California takes the #4 overall, and Bowdoin and Williams get pushed down to 5 and 6, and the same scenario arises with the 5 drawing Bates and 6 drawing Midd.
Kenyon, Gustavus, Whitewater*, Baldwin-Wallace, Concordia (WI)
The fact that Gustavus is in the tournament causes Kenyon to have to drive 8 hours and that’s unfortunate, but with that, Kenyon probably has the weakest bracket of any of the 8 top seeds, so it’s a blessing in disguise. Gustavus is just so limited in where they can travel, they either host or go to Whitewater, and the way the seedings have worked out with Trinity and Whitman, them traveling to WW is the most obvious scenario. Case and Carnegie are absent from the tournament, so there is really no obvious #2 seed who can go to Kenyon besides Wash U, and they are ranked a bit too high for that and I’m not exactly sure what happens to Trinity (TX) then. W&L almost definitely has to stay down in the Mid-Atlantic region to take on Emory and NCW, and while there’s an outside chance Kenyon hosts a regional with Mary Wash as their #2 seed for the second year in a row, I think that’s unlikely as well due to the fact that Whitewater almost has to host a regional so Gustavus has somewhere to drive and doesn’t have to fly. It’s possible that Whitman or Trinity (TX) could get flown to Gustavus to be grouped with Gustavus and Whitewater, but that’s just too easy of a region for a #7 or #8 overall seed.
Emory, NC Wesleyan, Washington & Lee*, Earlham, PSU-Harrisburg, Grove City
I’m still iffy on whether Emory will host or not. Mary Washington went to a regional at Emory in 2009 and I’m not exactly sure how that happened, but for my purposes I’m going to have W&L host a region that is nearly identical to last year. NCW is ranked surprisingly low after a very good season, so this actually makes sense rankings wise too. Unfortunate for both Emory and NCW, but geography mandates this. If Emory ends up hosting, most likely NCW and W&L will travel there and UT-Tyler will fly there to fill out the bracket. I played it safe though with this and had W&L host, something I know will work.
Amherst*, Skidmore, UT-Tyler, Baruch, Farmingdale St., Marywood
Not much to say here. Amherst will definitely host a regional and I see Skidmore or MIT as their #2 seed. If Amherst somehow loses to Bowdoin today in the NESCAC final this could get messed up, but that’s unlikely.
Brackets will be released sometime between 4PM and 7PM EST on Monday May 7th and d3tennisguy and I will both have our thoughts posted sometime this week. Best of luck to all the teams in selection and your matches.