A quick note before the weekend preview is a match I actually didn't make a note about and I didn't have on the calendar. Must have missed it when I was putting in all the matches pre-season. Williams traveled to Hartford to take on Trinity (CT). This was the last chance for the Bantams in the regular season to prove that they belong in the tournament. This was one of the closest matches of the year. The box score is here. I don't know if I've ever seen a match where the winner of the first set ended up losing the match in 5 of 6 singles matches. This match really came down to the wire and this was quite close to being a 6-3 victory for Trinity (CT). In the same breath Williams probably could have won 8-1 just as easily. The bottom line is that Bowdoin will meet Trinity (CT) in the first round of the NESCAC tournament next weekend. To make the tournament, I see Trinity needing not just 1, but 2 wins, and that would include beating Middlebury. Bowdoin has out of conference wins against Redlands and Salisbury and Trinity (CT) can only boast a win over Pomona-Pitzer. With this result on Wednesday, I think Bowdoin has all but locked up the 6th spot in Pool C for the tournament and Trinity will be left out for the 2nd year in a row.
Washington & Lee @ Carnegie Mellon
Despite the fact that this is #8 versus #25 in the country, I think it could be close. CMU has been so up and down in doubles so anything can happen. Carnegie can lock up a #1 seed and hosting for NCAAs and at the same time I don't really think W&L could benefit even if they end up winning. Doubles is so unpredictable but I'll give CMU a 2-1 lead heading into singles. The Generals will have a hard time keeping up in the bottom of the lineup and I don't see how they can possibly get anymore than 3 singles wins. I think 1 or 2 singles wins is actually more realistic. The only real chance for the Generals here is to sweep the doubles and that hasn't happened to CMU all season. I'll take CMU in a somewhat close 7-2 tomorrow to give them confidence heading into NCAAs. The Generals did what they needed to do and should be pleased with their season after taking back the conference title.
DePauw @ Wash U
The Tigers should be playing with a lot of desperation in this match. They lost their conference, but a huge upset would probably catapult them into the tournament through Pool C. That being said, I just don't know if there are 5 wins for DePauw in this match. The Tigers would somehow have to get up after doubles and although unlikely, this is possible. DePauw nearly swept Emory in doubles at the Indoors so the potential is there but they would need to play 3 perfect doubles matches. Even if this happens, I still think it would take a big effort to get 2 singles wins. They are the underdog at every spot in the lineup. I think they have an outside chance to win at 2, 3 and 6 and after those the Bears should dominate. I'm taking Wash U 7-2. I think the Bears may be playing with a chip on their shoulder after moving from 2 to 7 in the national rankings. I suspect DePauw will get a singles win and a doubles win. A tough season for the Tigers and they will miss the tournament for this first time in several years.
Middlebury @ Williams
Williams is one of the few teams in the country who I believe can play with Midd in the bottom of the lineup. Where Williams will fall short is Midd's strength - the top 4 spots. I think the Panthers will come out and dominate there top 4 spots and the only place where I'd say Williams has a chance is probably 2. Williams hasn't been good in doubles this year and this is where you need to get Middlebury if you want to stay in the match heading into singles. Results point to this being a blowout and I'm not going to argue otherwise. Midd just has too much firepower at the top of the lineup and I'll take them in a 7-2 victory. Williams played close with Trinity just a few days ago so they have a lot of work to do if they want to qualify for the final 8 this year.
Middlebury @ Amherst
#1 vs #2 in the NESCAC and finally Amherst has moved into the top 5 in the country after being out of the top 10 for a bit. The Jeffs are playing to their potential and they seem to have found the form that got them to the national championship match last year. The one thing I'm still not sold on is Amherst's doubles. They miss Jung in the #3 spot a lot I think. At the same time, they could have arguably the best #2 doubles team in the country in Kahan/Koenig. Amherst has to play a pretty perfect match to win against Middlebury and their 5 and 6 guys really need to step up. 3 and 4 singles are pretty much a lost cause for Herst. I think they will get either 1 or 2 and 2 doubles. That means they need to find 3 points within the other 2 doubles spots and 5 and 6 singles. I just don't think they can pull it off. Herst will be pumped up on their homecourts with a nice crowd, but I think Midd will be too much. 6-3 Middlebury.