Some interesting matches in this region, but obviously Wash U is the heavy favorite. An interesting note is that 4 of the 6 teams begin with W. Just thought that was a little funny.
I think Whitewater wins their first round easily. The other first round is an interesting match. Earlham ended Transylvania's 8 year streak of conference titles and is a team on the rise. They take on Luther, who won their 5th consecutive conference title and has previous NCAA experience. Luther's coach is in his last year, so they will definitely be playing for him. The Norse had what I consider a disappointing NCAA result last year also in St. Louis, when they lost to Kalamazoo 5-1 in a match that I thought was winnable for them. I'm sure they will have some built up fire after that result and take out Earlham by a 5-1 score.
Luther has the potential to give Wash U a hard time at some spots, but I think the Bears re-focused after getting destroyed by Emory in the UAA Final. They just crushed a very solid DePauw team and are looking to make a 4th consecutive run to the Final 4. Luther will give a great effort and make the Bears work, but I don't see them getting a match. Wash U will win 5-0 and advance to the round of 16. The Whitman-Whitewater contest is interesting. Whitman is up and down. They have a win over Trinity and loss to Tyler this season, and those happened within 5 days of each other. WC has a lot of talent on their team and is always a tough team to play. Whitewater beat Kalamazoo this year and gave Chicago a hard time. Both of those were early in the season and they haven't done a whole lot since. Even though they haven't had great results, Whitewater is a tough team and will make Whitman work for every match. The Whitties should be a little too solid and I see them beating Whitewater 5-3 in a match that features very close doubles matches and a couple 3-setters in singles.
Whitman has the personnel to play with Wash U, but winning matches and being close are 2 very different propositions. Wash U's whole team played NCAAs last year, and they remember their struggles in their round of 16 match against Kalamazoo when they went down 2-1 after doubles. Wash U is not a team that gives away anything, and as I said previously, I think the UAA loss to Emory really motivated them to get better. Whitman will hang, but they won't win. Both teams have solid doubles lineups and 2 of the 3 spots will probably come down to a few points here or there. I like Wash U to win those on their home court though. Whitman has solid players at the top of their lineup and this is also where Wash U is beatable. The Bears depth will pay off though and lead them to a victory. I expect a somewhat similar result to Whitman's match with Kenyon earlier this year. 5-1 Wash U and they advance to the quarterfinals.