The NESCAC tournament is being hosted by Williams, and it is single-elimination format, so there’s no opportunity for an interesting NCAA-seeding-implication-filled rematch between Middlebury and Bowdoin in a potential 3rd place match. Ironically, the most important match of the tournament is probably taking place in the quarterfinals. Here are the seedings:
6. Trinity (CT)
Bowdoin vs. Trinity (CT)
Someone mentioned in a comment that Trinity would deserve some serious Pool C consideration if they somehow managed to beat Bowdoin. That’s not even true, but it’s also just not going to happen. When the two teams met in the regular season, Bowdoin didn’t exactly dominate the match, but they won handily, 6-1. They swept the doubles comfortably, then picked up two straight-set singles victories to seal the win. The match was left incomplete because Bowdoin only has 4 indoor courts, but rest assured, Bowdoin is the deeper of the two teams and probably would have finished with an 8-1 win.
If Trinity wants a chance to win this match, they absolutely have to win at least two doubles matches. The problem with that is the Bantams haven’t won two doubles matches against a ranked team all year (they got swept by Brandeis) and Bowdoin is one of the best doubles teams in the country. At most, I would say Trinity can get one doubles match and two singles matches at the top of the lineup where they played Bowdoin closely last time. I just don’t see any way they can win this match, and I think the Polar Bears will roll to a 5-1 win.
Middlebury vs. Bates
This is arguably the most important match of the season, and who would have thought Bates would have a chance to win their way into the NCAA tournament at the beginning of the season? Middlebury has had a tumultuous couple of weeks with a heartbreaking loss to Bowdoin and another disappointing match with MIT, and the only match keeping them in Pool C at the moment is their 5-4 victory over Pomona-Pitzer, but that doesn’t change the fact that they beat Bates 7-2 earlier this season.
Bates played like the #27th ranked team in the country for the first two months of the season. After they got back from Spring Break, however, they beat Mary Washington, MIT, Trinity (CT), and, most importantly, Johns Hopkins. The ITA rankings that came out today would put Bates in the NCAA tournament over Redlands, but they still have to get this win to lock themselves in. While they’ve played well over the past couple weeks, they still fell to Williams and Bowdoin in the same way that they lost to CMS, Redlands, and Cruz at the beginning of the season: lack of depth.
Even if everything goes Bates’ way, I don’t think they can get closer than 5-4 with Middlebury. Last time the two teams met, the Panthers eked out a couple three-setters at 2 and 3 singles, but they won in straight sets at 4, 5, and 6 singles, and dominated the two doubles matches they won. I expect this match to be closer than the last one, but Midd will still win. I would bet that the Middlebury #1 doubles team avenges its early-season loss, but Bates will find a way to win one of the other two doubles matches. After that, I’m guessing Bates will win two of the top 3 singles positions, but in the end, Middlebury will dominate the bottom of the lineup and come away with a 5-3 victory (with Middlebury leading comfortably in the last match on).
That’s it for me today, I’ll preview the Semis and the finals tomorrow.
Amherst vs. Middlebury
Middlebury managed to pull out the win over Bates, but that doesn’t mean that they’re about to beat Amherst. They lost to Amherst 9-0 a week ago, so I don’t think this is much of a preview, honestly.
Jones played a big time match today, beating Berg 2 and 2, but beating Kahan is a completely different proposition. I don’t see Parower or Angle beating Chafetz or Rattenhuber. The Panthers’ best chance at a singles point is probably Lunghino at 4, as Fritz has been sort of streaky over the past two years. After that, Amherst is just too deep for Middlebury. If the Panthers come out with a lot of energy, they could win a couple doubles matches, but given the fact that Amherst swept them a week ago, I don’t think that’s going to happen either. I want to give Midd some credit for pulling out the W over Bates, but I think they’re headed to a 5-0 loss to Amherst in the semis.
Williams vs. Bowdoin
The last time these two teams met, Bowdoin gave the Ephs a fantastic battle. Even after falling down 1-2 in doubles, they fought hard and won a couple singles matches to keep the final score close. As close as that match was, I think Bowdoin probably maxed out the number of singles wins they can get. Even on a bad day, I don’t think Williams would lose more than three singles matches to Bowdoin, especially on their home courts, especially in the NESCAC semis. The one consoling factor for Bowdoin is that they definitely didn’t max out the number of doubles wins they can get. On a better day for them, they could have won at #1 doubles, and in a perfect world, they could win at 2 as well. Let’s get to the preview:
Despite what I just said, I think Williams is pretty much untouchable at #2 doubles. Bowdoin has to be favored at #3, given what happened last time and what they’ve been doing all season, but that could go either way. Williams has to be favored at #1, but that #1 doubles team has shown a little vulnerability over the course of the year. If Bowdoin is going to pull off the upset, they absolutely have to win 1 and 3 doubles. My prediction is that the same thing happens as last time and Williams takes a 2-1 lead into singles.
As much respect as I have for Bowdoin, I think Williams will pull away after that. Meyer usually responds well to a tough loss, and I think he will come back and beat Pena this time around. Sun is no longer undefeated, but he’s a pretty safe bet at 2. The next three spots are fairly even, but Williams is definitely stronger at 6, so I think that will be enough to give them a 5-1 victory, depending on how the courts are being used. If the match were played to completion, or if certain matches go on first, I can see Lord and Grindon winning for Bowdoin, but I don’t think Chow would lose to Bragg again. Accordingly, if the match were played to completion, I would pick Williams with a 7-2 or 6-3 victory this time around.
I’ll preview the finals tomorrow…