Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Regional Preview: Kenyon

As I discussed briefly yesterday, Kenyon could not have drawn up this bracket better. This is really a gift for them, but I won't say that it's not well deserved after their great season. The Lords are a heavy favorite to reach the quarterfinals, but they do have to get through 2 matches first. This bracket is eerily similar to the one Carnegie hosted last year with Mary Wash as a somewhat weak 2 seed and UT-Tyler as the 3 seed after a down year. Coincidentally, CMU was also the #5 overall seed in last year's tournament.

In the round of 32, Kenyon will most likely play Ohio Northern, who is actually a solid team that played a decent match against Denison early this season. I expect Kenyon to come out with a 5-0 win, but make a note that ONU is a team on the rise and could be flirting with the top 30 in a couple years if they keep improving at their current pace. The bottom half of the region is an interesting match between Mary Washington and Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo hasn't had anything resembling an impressive result all season, but all they have to do is beat Mary Washington, who wasn't too impressive themselves this season. The Eagles have shown nothing since the middle of February and ended their season gutting out a close win against a Salisbury team who was very weak this year. Denison was the only ranked team they beat since Indoors, so the story in this match is a battle between 2 teams that had really bad seasons. I think it will be a very close match and I'll take the Eagles in a 5-4 win. Mary Wash was the favorite in their round of 32 match the past 2 years and lost both times, so I wouldn't be too surprised with a Kalamazoo win.

Mary Wash can really make up for the last 3 years by winning this regional. I haven't changed my opinion that the talent is there, it just might be a matter of heart and mental toughness. The problem is that if they make the Sweet 16, they are up against Kenyon on the road, a team with as much heart and mental toughness as anyone. This could be a close match in Fredericksburg, but at Kenyon it's no contest. Mary Wash is losing to teams outside the top 20 and Kenyon is beating teams inside the top 10. On paper these two are close, in reality they are not. Kenyon wins 5-0 with absolutely no problems and advances to the Final 8.