The calendar shows a very full weekend ahead of us however only a few of these matches will have implications on the national rankings. I'll go over 3 Saturday matches which I feel are the most important of the weekend.
Salisbury at Johns Hopkins
I was quite impressed with Salisbury until yesterday. This has happened before, but one good hour of tennis made Salisbury into a legitimate team and this can happen with the 9 point system. Play great doubles on your home court against a good team and suddenly people take you seriously. This worked for Salisbury but obviously their season comes down to whether or not they can win their conference. The match this weekend is as simple as who will recover better after recent poor results? Hopkins was blown out twice last weekend but they are now on their home courts against a team who is significantly less talented than them. Salisbury was on a high and riding a win streak but now they are sweating about making the tournament. I don't see how Salisbury can win more than 2 singles matches in this one. Hopkins is just better everywhere. The Gulls need a doubles sweep, and that's going to be difficult on the road. I also wouldn't be surprised if Hopkins makes some adjustments to their doubles lineup after being swept two days in a row by teams they are equivalent to. I'm taking Hopkins in a 7-2 win on Saturday because I'm just not a believer in Salisbury right now.
Four contenders are competing this weekend. Kenyon is the host and top seed followed by CMU, Kalamazoo and DePauw. Weird things have happened at this tournament in the past so I'm not going to speculate about the finals, but I will take a look at the potential semis. DePauw hasn't seen any serious D3 action in a while and they know they are out of Pool C if they don't win this tournament. They actually match up decently well against Kenyon, but the problem is I don't know how DePauw is going to get ahead in doubles. Both teams have strong teams 1 through 3 but you have to like Kenyon. I think Kenyon will manage to get a 6-3 win, but they could potentially get in trouble if DePauw wins 2 or 3 doubles. In the other semi, Kalamazoo has been struggling since losing Patrick Boyd, who played 1 doubles and 4 singles. He was a key to their wins against DePauw and Chicago. Even with him, I don't know if they can beat a hot Carnegie team. CMU has been great in singles and I see Kzoo winning two matches max of the 6. If Kzoo wants to win, they need to sweep doubles. I don't know if the CMU doubles sweep of Hopkins was a fluke, but if CMU plays doubles like they had been in previous matches, a sweep isn't out of the question. I'll take CMU 6-3.
Cal Lutheran at CMS
I've been looking forward to this match for about two weeks now and it's time to determine who the best in the West is. The thing I actually just realized is that these teams will meet again the following Saturday in their conference tournament finals. With rankings out next Tuesday, I don't see how CLU could possibly be denied the #2 ranking in the country if they win this match. They are hungry to make something happen, but can they bring that intensity into Claremont and beat their bitter rival on the road? Despite the excellent top of the lineup for CMS, you have to like CLU to get 1 dubs as well as 1 and 2. I know this is harsh, but Giuffrida and Ballou have both passed test after test. Erani beat Giuffrida in the fall so that's one thing he has going for him. The question is can CMS get 5 points in the remaining 6 matches? I certainly like the Stags at the 4 and 5 positions. The Keiffer/Lim team is a question mark and this could be a huge swing point. CLU has also been rock solid at 3 singles so this could be a 4th point for them. Basically, if Cal Lu wins those 3 automatic spots I gave them, they will win. If CMS manages to steal 1 dubs or 1/2 singles, then I like the Stags.