Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Season Preview #24: DePauw

General Team Discussion - The Tigers have been up and down the past few years, but for the most part they are always a consistent top 15 team and very dangerous once they get to the NCAA tournament. They have turned the tables on Trinity (TX) the past few years and won 3 consecutive conference titles. They reached the Final 8 in 2007, but the past two years they fell in the Sweet 16 to a stronger Wash U team. Last year's DePauw team quietly had a very good season with only 3 losses, all of those coming to top 8 teams and they had several strong wins to go with it. They got a bit unlucky with their NCAA draw though. This year's team loses Swanson and Heck, both of whom were very valuable players, but the Tigers bring in a strong freshman class and judging by fall results it looks like at least 2 if not 3 freshmen will be in the starting lineup for DePauw this upcoming year. While I don't expect a top 10 finish from the Tigers, I would be very surprised if they dropped below #15 and I think they will hover at 13 or 14 for most of the season. They have an unlucky draw at Indoors. If my power rankings hold, they should sneak into the tournament as the #6 Pool C team and should be a tough out once they get there. They will look to make it 4 consecutive SCAC titles as well.

Where They'll Win - As is the case with most years, the Tigers are pretty solid everywhere with no real holes in their team. They probably overachieved slightly at the ITA Regional. If I had to pick a few spots to me that stand out, the first is #1 doubles. The Gates/Sandager team finished 2nd in the Regional and I think they have a great chance to be an NCAA Qualifier in 2010. Sandager also had some impressive singles results last year so he could be a potential force at #2. Their middle of the lineup looks to be very tough and Schouweiler didn't play the Fall, but if he plays the spring they are solid 3 through 5. #2 doubles should be a tough team as well.

Where They'll Lose - As I said, the Tigers are pretty good everywhere. One thing that bothers me is they played a freshman at #1 in the Fall. I don't think this is such a great strategy and when they get into big matches it may backfire. I would doubt he's so much better than everyone on their team that they can't move him back to #3. I'm not sure what their 3 doubles team will look like either, but they need to come up with something pretty good to take down Trinity (TX) in doubles at all 3 spots.

Schedule Analysis - A very tough Indoors draw. Emory 1st round then probably Hopkins. They should find themselves playing for 7th and 8th against a Gustavus team which they will easily beat. Chicago comes to town 2 weeks later and this is a must-win for DePauw for NCAAs. They have beaten Chicago the past few years and they need to do it again. They travel to Emory before having a pretty easy Spring Break trip. The GLCA is always tough and a potential semifinal with CMU could have NCAA implications. The biggest match of the season will be the SCAC finals against Trinity (TX) where DePauw hopes to lock up an NCAA spot.