The Patriots were once a perennial top 20 team, but they’ve been clinging to their national ranking for the last couple years. They lost it briefly last year after losing to McMurray and Rhodes, but got it back and held onto it by the end of the year by beating Whitman. This year, however, I think they’re going to drop pretty hard. They lost their top 3 players to graduation, and, while they brought in a decent recruiting class for a 20-30 ranked team, it’s usually not good for a team to rely too much on freshmen. They’re probably still good enough to win their conference and give some team a decently hard time in NCAAs (if they’re not shipped off to California), but that’s about it.
Where They’ll Win
This preview is going to be both really short and really harsh, because they seem like they are by far the worst team in the top 30. Last year’s team probably deserved the ranking, but graduation left this team in tatters, and I really don’t think they can win anywhere. Just based on their results from last year, they were deeper than Cal Lu and Whitman, but that really doesn’t mean anything if their 4 and 5 players have to move to 1 and 2. Still, if the new freshmen are about as good as Wright and Singer, they will probably be better deeper in the lineup than they will be at the top.
Where They’ll Lose
The Patriots basically have no chance to win at the top two singles spots against a ranked team this year. Any team that has a solid 1 player can walk into the match knowing they have that spot pretty much locked up, and basically the only way a good team can lose to Tyler is if they come in totally flat and get swept in doubles. Again, I don’t see that happening.
The Patriots’ play matches against Redlands and Cal Lu, but I think their big ones will be Rhodes and Whittier. Whittier isn’t ranked, but they’re on the rise, and Rhodes narrowly beat them next year. I’m sure the Patriots will want some revenge, but they probably don’t have it in them to beat the Lynx this year, even if Rhodes isn’t very deep. That match is probably their only chance to beat a ranked team, and there’s no guarantee Rhodes will be ranked by the time they play.
I think you can see this one coming. Tyler will get crushed by Redlands and Cal Lu, lose to Whittier and Rhodes, and drop completely out of the rankings. If they want to return, they will have to really develop these four freshman and start pulling in more recruiting classes like it. Tyler is a program with a considerable amount of tradition, so it would be a shame to see it fall by the wayside, but they might be another victim of the prestigious-liberal-arts DIII landscape.