Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rankings 13-25 and Mid-Season Reports March 31, 2009

13. Carnegie Mellon - They have done what they are supposed to do so far this season. Their doubles seems to have improved, but they are losing at the 5 and 6 spots where they used to be dominant. They are very talented and have the potential to pull off a big upset, they just have to all be on the same page on the same day. They have some tough contests coming up at GLCA, which will go a long way in determining their NCAA fate. They should finish 3rd at UAA's and they have the potential to give Wash U a tough match in the semis.

14. UT-Tyler - A very up and down season for the Patriots so far. Their win against Redlands now looks great and has kept them in the top 15, but they have struggled with weaker competition such as Pomona-Pitzer and Birmingham Southern. If Tyler wants to become a fixture on the national scene they need to get more wins from the bottom half of their lineup. Phillips has been supporting this team almost by himself this year and he needs help. They have a huge match against Trinity (TX) this weekend and a win should keep them in the top 15.

15. Trinity (TX) - Their one win this year proved to not to be that strong and their easy schedule is catching up to them. They have a huge match against UT-Tyler this weekend and this is their last chance before their conference championship to show what they are made of. Their singles is questionable and I don't know if their young guys can hold up against the intensity of tougher opponents. Their two bad losses at Indoors still make them a question mark, but they can prove that they are for real with dominant victory this weekend.

16. DePauw - A great Hilton Head swing for these guys got some wins under their belt and they are ready for tougher competition now. I still think their singles could be a liability against a higher ranked team, but they have national caliber doubles at all positions. If they get healthy, they could win an SCAC championship or pull an upset against a top 15 team. A very dangerous team that has a good mix of youth and experience. We will see how tough they are at the GLCA tournament in a few weeks and this will go a long way in determining their future this season.

17. Mary Washington - I don't think anyone knows what's wrong with this team this year. They went from being a pre-season national championship contender to out of the top 15 in the matter of just over a month. James and Loden are no longer winning at the top and their once spectacular #1 doubles team is now losing. They really need to be concerned about losing to Salisbury because the way this season has gone, I can easily see it happening. They still have a chance to turn things around with a win against Hopkins.

18. Trinity (CT) - They are in a tough spot because they didn't pad their schedule with wins this year. By putting themselves in this position, they now need to upset one of the top 3 teams in the NESCAC to have a chance at the tournament. This is obviously an excellent team given their results against Bowdoin, but that was a really tough loss for them because the Bantams don't have a lot of opportunities to show their stuff. I don't expect them to beat one of the big three and I think it would take a great effort from these guys to end up making the tournament.

19. Denison - Still a real mystery because of their easy schedule, they have a few battles with Kenyon coming up. I wouldn't
expect them to really challenge Kenyon, but you never know. They had a good win early in the season against a very good Chicago team giving them their spot in the top 20, but after that they have been quiet on the national scene. They traditionally have very good doubles, but the question is if their top guys can hang with Greenberg and Piskacek and past results point to that being unlikely.

20. Chicago - On paper one of the best teams in the country. Despite good wins over Whitman and Carleton, I still have to say that they have underachieved this year with losses to Denison and DePauw. They have a tough stretch coming up where they play UT-Tyler and Wash U, so maybe their true colors will come out during these matches. I don't see them qualifying for NCAAs through the At-large pool, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be there. This is also a very young team and they have the talent to be in a the top 10 in a few years.

21. North Carolina Wesleyan - This all international team is the surprise of the year so far. They are this year's CNU and they also happen to be from the Atlantic South. I don't think they are a dominant team because they just squeaked out a win against Salisbury, but I would say that most teams don't want to see them come tournament time because they are unknown. I don't know if they have the depth to pull and upset against a good team this year, but they are very young and they also have a bright future to look forward to.

22. Washington & Lee - As we've seen so far, this is a true rebuilding year for the Generals. They are get blown out by regional foes that they usually have competitive matches with. The doubles just hasn't been there this year and they don't have a guy at the top of the lineup who can win against good teams. Their 4, 5 and 6 are solid but they don't win on a consistent basis. I doubt they will be able to pull an upset during NCAAs, but the very good news for W&L is that that future looks bright and more experience could make them a top 20 team again.

23. Bates - A pretty good team and it's a real shame they don't play in an easier conference. Their NCAA hopes went down the tubes when Shadowen left. They don't have the personnel to pull an upset against one of the top 5 teams in the NESCAC and this would be their only ticket into the top 20. They are able to beat lesser teams because they are top heavy but when they faced a real test against Middlebury they got blown out. Bates should be the last team to qualify for the NESCAC tournament and should fall easily in the first round.

24. Whitman - Whitman will dominate their conference once again and qualify for NCAAs but I think they are weaker than in past years. Their doubles is solid as always but they can't compete with top 20 teams in the middle of the singles lineup. They are losing badly in singles to teams ranked a few spots above them. This is a good team that will give the top 20 a hard time but they don't have enough players to pull a big upset. Whitman should win out and their conference and be hot heading into NCAAs but they need to get lucky to get get shipped out of the West.

25. Skidmore - They started out the season well being undefeated and they crack the top 25 because of wins over Christopher Newport, TCNJ and Vassar. They were playing well but they got demolished by Amherst this weekend showing that they really can't compete with top teams. They have one more tough match against Middlebury and they could lose their top 25 ranking if another team gets some good wins. They will make NCAA's through the Independent pool but I wouldn't expect much from them once they get there.