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Pac 12/SEC Showdown - Day 1
Saturday, 02/01/2014
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Ray Sarmiento Action(2).jpg
by Bobby Knight. Pictured USC's Ray Sarmiento

4 of the top programs in the country will meet this weekend at USC's Marks Stadium in the Inaugural Pac 12/SEC Showdown. USC and UCLA will welcome Georgia and Florida to town in what will be the first big test of the season for the 2 LA teams after they each breezed past their competition last weekend.   Let's dive right in to the action and look at the projected lineups for each team.  

Pac 12/SEC Showdown - Marks Stadium (USC):

#11 Florida at #2 UCLA  - 1pm est/10am pst – Both teams have a lot of depth and a lot of young firepower but UCLA is going to be too strong at the top of the lineup to drop this one.  It’s tough to tell which lineup Florida will put out because they’ve shuffled it in each of their 3 matches thus far but I just can’t see the Gators picking up 3 or 4 singles victories to get the W unless UCLA has to make a last minute lineup change due to injury.  Prediction:  UCLA 6-1  

Projected Singles Lineup

#1.  Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. Spencer Newman (Florida) –  Giron is one of the top players in the country while Newman just returned to competitive action after sitting out a year due to a transfer.   Anything other than a straight set Giron win would be surprising.  Predction:  Giron in 2

#2.  Clay Thompson (UCLA) vs. Diego Hidalgo (Florida) – Nobody has had a better year so far than Clay Thompson while Diego Hidalgo made his long awaited dual-match debut just last week against TCU (DNF-2-6, 5-5).  Clay’s hot hand will lead him to another win in this one.  Prediction:  Thompson in 2

#3.  Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) vs. Stephane Piro (Florida) – Piro has been up and down since last year and has yet to prove he can play at a high level consistently while McDonald already has a win this year over #2 Julian Lenz.  Prediction: McDonald in 2

#4.  Gage Brymer (UCLA) vs. Gordon Watson (Florida) – Brymer made his dual-match debut last week and picked up a few easy wins though Watson will be a step up in competition.  I think this will be a tight one that could come down to a 3rd set breaker.  Prediction:  Brymer in 3

#5.  Karue Sell (UCLA) vs. Florent Diep (Florida) –  Sell sat out of both of UCLA’s matches last week while Diep had little trouble in his matches.  Diep played at 1 and 2 last year for the Gators so if stays at 5 for this one I can’t see him losing.  Prediction:  Diep in 2

#6.  Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) vs. Maxx Lipman or Elliott Orkin (Florida) – Mkrtchian is playing down a few spots this year after playing very well a year ago at the 4 spot and I look for him to be just too skilled for his freshman opponent.  Prediction: Mkrtchian in 2


#3 Georgia at #4 USC - 4pm est/1pm pst – I definitely expect this to be the closer of the 2 matches on the day.  Georgia will be playing its 1st outdoor dual match of the year after getting tested indoors last week against Columbia and Stanford while USC cruised past both Wichita State and Santa Clara in its Kickoff Weekend matches which were both played outdoors.  Georgia is a stronger outdoor team so I’m sure the Bulldogs will welcome the change of scenery although it's going to take a huge effort top to bottom to pull out a win.  Even though Georgia is the higher ranked team I'd make USC the favorite and expect the Trojans to pull it out though if Georgia can find a way to get the doubles point and take 2 of the top 3 then it could be a 4-3 result for Georgia.   Prediction:  USC 5-2

Projected Singles Lineups: 

#1.  Nathan Pasha (Georgia) vs. Ray Sarmiento (USC) –Pasha has come close on several occasions against the best in the land but always seems to come up short in the 3rd set while Sarmiento is getting back in the groove after missing a few months of action with a foot injury.  Prediction:  Sarmiento in 3

#2.  Austin Smith (Georgia) vs. Yannick Hanfmann (USC) – Hanfmann has battled a knee injury that has limited his activity since the fall and had a DNF in his dual match opener against Santa Clara’s John Lamble while Smith is coming off a strong fall although he went 1-1 last weekend dropping a match in 3 to Stanford’s Maciek Romanowicz.  Anything other than a 3 setter would be a surprise.  Prediction:  Smith in 3

#3.  Ben Wagland (Georgia) vs. Roberto Quiroz (USC) – It’ll be a battle of the lefties in this one.  Wagland has come out of the gates a little slow this year and will try to regain the confidence that he played with at the end of last year but Quiroz isn’t the type to give anything away.   Roberto doesn’t have a signature win yet this year although he’s been close in a few of his losses against higher ranked opponents.   This could go either way but I’ll stick with Quiroz on his home courts.  Prediction:  Quiroz in 2

#4.  Garrett Brasseaux (Georgia) vs. Connor Farren (USC) – Farren has been on campus for less than a month though he’s shown he isn’t to be taken lightly after knocking off Stanford’s #1 John Morrissey and taking UCLA’s Clay Thompson deep into a 3rd set at the Sherwood Cup.  Brasseaux had a strong fall and has 3 wins over ranked opponents but Farren will be the best he’s seen so far this year.      Prediction:  Farren in 2

#5.  Hernus Pieters (Georgia) vs. Max De Vroome (USC) – Both players had so-so results in the fall and went 1-0 during the Kickoff Weekend with each also having a DNF.   I think De Vroome’s game is a little too big for Pieters and I look for the SC sophomore to come out on top.  Prediction:  De Vroome in 2.

#6.  Nick Wood (Georgia) vs. Jonny Wang (USC) – Both of Wood’s matches last week didn’t finish though he was up in both while Wang went 1-0 and was up in the other. Wang had the more impressive fall of the two with wins over Peter Kobelt and Nick Chappell on his resume while Wood’s best win came over Becker O’Shaughnessey.  Lots of back and forth grinding expected in this one.  Prediction:  Wood in 3