Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sweet 16 Results and Brief Thoughts

Emory d. NC Wesleyan 5-0
Emory did what they had to do and got through the regional, but at the same time I'm disappointed in NCW's doubles. They were just outclassed in doubles and an interesting stat is the last 5 times they stepped on the court with a top 10 opponent, they are a combined 1-14 in doubles. That's just not going to get it done, no matter how strong your singles play is. They will never get above that 9-12 range playing doubles like this, so their coaches and players have to go back to the drawing board for next season. Obviously they hung with Emory in singles which was a good accomplishment, but no one in the country can come back from a doubles sweep against Emory this year. As a final note, W&L's Will Hall played in the regional semifinal against NCW and won his doubles match, giving W&L it's only point in a 5-1 loss. An unbelievable performance and comeback from Hall. Emory moves on to the Final 8 and is certainly a top 3 favorite, if not the top favorite.

Middlebury d. Bowdoin 5-2
Another case of two even teams and Midd getting the doubles sweep. You can't win after getting swept in doubles and even though Bowdoin played tough in singles, Midd hung on for the win. Certain programs just know how to win no matter who's on their team, and Midd is one of them. Bowdoin has their typical season, as they just can't manage to get over the hump. Steve Sullivan had a fantastic career, but Peters one upped-him in this match and made the score 4-2 instead of 3-3, a very big difference. Coach Barr did a good job with this year's Midd team, although they would need an incredible effort to top Emory. I liked Bowdoin's chances in the round of 16 after they crushed a good MIT team, and I bet the Engineers wish they were put in a different regional. Midd gets the job done to return to their 10th straight Elite 8.

Kenyon d. Mary Wash 5-1
As expected, not too much mystery here. A good win for Mary Wash against Kalamazoo to get them back the the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008, but they just didn't have enough to beat Kenyon. The Lords swept doubles and things were just about over after that. Kevin Ye lost twice for Kenyon which was uncharacteristic, and they can't afford that to happen in the quarterfinal against Wash U. Kenyon was rewarded for their fantastic season with this easy regional and they have a great shot to make their first ever Final 4. On another note, I personally thought Coach Thielke got robbed, as Marty Perry won Central Region Coach of the Year. Thielke did an unbelievable job putting Kenyon as high as #6 this year and I thought he not only deserved regional honors, but also national.

Wash U d. Whitewater 5-1

Wash U was just a little too talented for Whitewater and that showed, although I think the Warhawks should be very proud of what they accomplished in this regional. A win over Whitman and a Sweet 16 appearance was a wonderful accomplishment. They also had to be pleased taking a point from Wash U in doubles. A disappointing end to an interesting season for Whitman, who got their wish to be shipped out of California and didn't take advantage of it. The inability to attract top recruits shows when Whitman plays talented teams, but I feel as though Whitewater is a team they should be beating. I'm not quite sure what happened to them in that match, but I'm sure that had to be a very tough loss. For Wash U to really make a splash in NCAAs, they will need to play great doubles, as their flaws have shown this year. They come in as the 4th seed, but I don't see them as a serious threat to win it all.

Trinity TX d. Chicago 5-2
I criticized the Tigers singles, but this is what got them through to the Final 8, which is exactly where they belong. They had a real war against Gustavus which they were lucky to get through, but that can be expected against a team that fights as hard as the Gusties. I was worried about their singles heading into the Sweet 16 match because they struggled against a Gustavus team that hasn't done much in singles this year. Chicago went down 2-1 in singles against Grinnell, but I attributed that to first time NCAA nerves. They showed their muscles in singles and I liked their chances heading into the regional final after Trinity's grueling match. Seeing Chicago take 2 of 3 doubles against Trinity was a shocker, and I honestly thought they were well on their way to victory after the doubles points. I think Trinity found that will that Chicago didn't have and took it to another level. They were able to use their experience of being there before to propel them to easy wins before Chicago could get on the board. Trinity enters the Final 8 much like last year: with nothing to lose. Chicago has to be happy with their season because this was a step in the right direction.

Amherst d. TCNJ 5-0
Amherst rolls without dropping a point as expected. Not too much else to say. The Jeffs are very focused heading into the Final 8 and have their eyes on the prize. I really like Amherst's chances and I'm sticking with my preseason pick. A great win for TCNJ against Skidmore and it was actually the only 5-4 match all weekend. They got revenge for a loss to Skidmore a couple weeks ago and had to learn a lot after playing Amherst. TCNJ's second Sweet 16 in 4 years and that's a great accomplishment for a program that doesn't get much national attention. Skidmore is up there when it comes to most disappointing teams this season. I thought they had a lot of talent but they were never able to put it all together. They did take back the conference from Vassar, but they have to expect much more from themselves than that.

Williams d. Johns Hopkins 5-0

Hopkins disliked the speed of the indoor courts at Williams, but you have to deal with what's thrown at you and Hopkins couldn't do it in the postseason as usual. Another solid season and poor ending for Hopkins who turns in their usual performance. They didn't just lose in this match, they got crushed. A really good win for Williams to get back to the Final 8. I would like their chances if they weren't playing CMS. The Ephs took care of business and hope to extend their season in a tough environment.

CMS d. Cruz 5-3
Unbelievable stuff from both teams. Cruz took that 2-1 doubles lead as I expected, but CMS used their advantage in talent to come back and win the overall match. Robbie Erani and Alex Johnson were the real heroes today, as they both came back from huge holes to turn the match in the Stags favor. It's the 2nd year in a row when Cruz has blown match points in the regional final. Last year I believe it was a doubles match. The Stags showed a ton of mental toughness and I love their chances at the Final 8 now after this confidence boost. Cruz has to be disappointed with this loss, especially on their home court, now having CMS go to the Final 8 2 years in a row out of the West.

Analysis on the way...