Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend Recap and the Next Few Days

Before I get into Saturday's results, today in Baltimore Hopkins beat Carnegie Mellon 9-0. This was most likely a little bit of CMU being terrible and Hopkins being tough. The doubles were not close and clearly set the tone for the match, although there were a few close singles matches. For a real rivalry match, this was disappointing. Concerning Hopkins, they seem to have rebounded nicely after their loss to NCW. The bad news for the Blue Jays is that the NCAA regional top seed isn't coming this year. They don't have any top 20 teams on the remainder of their schedule, so they have to hope for a nice regional. I could see a potential Sweet 16 match between them and Williams, but it's really too early to tell. They aren't in a great spot, but to their benefit, I think they will go into NCAAs somewhat unnoticed and they could sneak up on a top 10 opponent on the right day. Carnegie continues to disappoint. I made a statement in their season preview that they are going to prove that you have to recruit every year or you'll fall off. That is certainly proving true. While they still have opportunities on their schedule that would put them in NCAAs, they have shown nothing post-Indoors to prove that they are a top 20 team, let alone a potential Pool C qualifier. Final 8 to missing the tournament is not good, and this embarrassing loss may have put the icing on the cake for this lost season.

A quick note on a Saturday match, Brandeis finally got a win against a ranked opponent and upset Bates in a 6-3 win. The Judges looked tough in this and I think they could be dangerous against some of the top NESCAC teams as well as in the UAA tournament. Bates needs to rebound, because I still they have a shot to beat Trinity (CT), which would be a big win for them. Really good win for Brandeis and it's good to see them meeting their potential this year. Next up on Saturday, Pomona-Pitzer hung on and beat Redlands in another thriller for the Hens. Both of these teams have played some very close matches this season and this was no exception. The difference is the Hens have had that mental toughness and winning edge, whereas Redlands hasn't. PP has been so tough in close matches all season, you could just sense they were going to pull this out even after a 2-1 deficit in doubles. Another great win for PP; this has to be the first time in a while that they've beaten Redlands. I would expect these 2 to meet again in the SCIAC semifinal in a couple week, but both need to put their attention on the other conference foes in front of them. PP is safely in the tournament and the Bulldogs are certainly on the outside looking in after Chicago's win against Wash U.

Wash U never comes into a match unprepared. I believe this is no exception. Chicago just beat them. Marty Perry, and the rest of the country for that matter, have been waiting for this result for the past 4 years. I don't believe Chicago has ever beaten a team in the top 10, and to do it against Wash U is a fantastic accomplishment. The flip side is that I can't remember the last time Wash U lost to a team outside the top 10. The Maroons had been struggling with doubles all season, and finally they came to life at the right time and jumped on a Wash U team who just wasn't ready for the level that Chicago brought. Their talent finally showed, and they managed to get the 2 singles wins they needed for the win. Looking at Chicago's overall resume, it's actually quite impressive. Their only losses are to Emory and Kenyon, and at the moment, I see them at 8 or 9 in the country, which not only puts them in the tournament, but puts them in line to be a top seed in their NCAA regional. Now, it looks to me like 5 Pool C spots could be filled, leaving only 1 spot for several teams. This win kind of shifts the power away from the NESCAC, as they don't really control their own destiny anymore. I'll be interested to see what the UAA seeding looks like, because there's a massive difference between the 2 and 3 seed. 2 gets an easy match against NYU, whereas 3 most likely has to play a very dangerous Brandeis team, who also happens to be hosting the tournament. Wash U has to be a little shocked, but there's nothing to worry about for them. I don't see their ranking being hurt by this, and everyone still knows they are a great team. This will probably make them hungrier heading into the last third of their season, and I'm really looking forward to a potential UAA semifinal rematch between these 2. Chicago has the opportunity to derail a 6th straight Emory-Wash U UAA final, but I'm sure the Bears have other ideas.

This is a slow week, so Monday and Tuesday I'll be doing mid-season report cards for the top 25 teams. I'll try to knock off 13-25 Monday and 1-12 Tuesday. For Wednesday, I'm going to make an attempt at a first issue of bracketology, and on Thursday, I'll have a preview of the weekend. I've been focusing a lot on big picture stuff and NCAAs the last few weeks, but for these midseason report, I'll try to piece together some interesting statistics and look at where each team is strong and weak.