by Bobby Knight
We are less than 24 hours away from the start of the Round of 16 and within a few days we’ll be down to the Championship match with the University of Georgia hosting this action packed tournament.
14 of the 16 seeded teams made it through the regional rounds with Tennessee and California being the 2 unseeded teams that both went on the road to beat Duke and Texas A&M respectively. Columbia was the only seeded team that didn’t get to host its own regional but they still managed to find their way to Athens and to the Round of 16 for the first time in school history by beating Vanderbilt in Nashville.
The conference breakdown of the final 16 is as follows: SEC - 4 (Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee), ACC - 3 (Virginia, North Carolina, Notre Dame), Pac 12 - 3 (USC, UCLA, Cal), Big 12 – 3 (Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas), Big 10 – 2 (Ohio State, Illinois), and Ivy League – 1 (Columbia).
Let’s go ahead and look to Friday’s Round of 16 matches with the projected singles lineups listed as well. I’ll make my predictions and as an FYI DNF stands for Did Not Finish since the match will be halted once the winning team gets a 4th point. Last weekend I went 42-6 picking the 1st and 2nd round matches so let’s see if I can put together an 8-0 day.
USC (1) vs. Columbia (16) – 9am EST – USC shut out Idaho and knocked off Oklahoma State 4-1 while Columbia went to Nashville and shut out East Tennessee State and beat Vanderbilt 4-3. USC went 25-4 in doubles while Columbia went 16-7 so you’ve got to think USC will have the upper hand and will take the point to start the match. I think Columbia has a better than average shot on 3 courts but most likely USC will slam the door shut before Columbia is able to register a point.
1. Yannick Hanfmann vs. Winston Lin – Hanfmann went 15-4 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Lin was a perfect 16-0 playing every match at #1. Prediction: DNF with Lin (COL) leading.
2. Ray Sarmiento vs. Max Schnur – Sarmiento went 14-7 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Schnur went 12-4 splitting time between 2, 3, and 4. Prediction: Sarmiento (USC) in 2.
3. Roberto Quiroz vs. Dragos Ignat – Quiroz went 22-1 playing primarily at 3 while Ignat went 13-5 splitting time between 2 and 3. Prediction: Quiroz (USC) in 2.
4. Max De Vroome vs. Ashok Narayana – De Vroome went 15-4 playing primarily at 4 while Narayana went 14-3 splitting time between 3 and 4. Prediction: DNF with match even after 2 sets.
5. Eric Johnson vs. Bert Vancura - Johnson went 20-3 playing at 4, 5, and 6 while Vancura went 15-3 playing mostly at 5. Prediction: Johnson (USC) in 2.
6. Michael Grant vs. Mike Vermeer – Grant went 11-2 playing 8 of those matches at 6 while Vermeer was a perfect 18-0 with 15 of those wins at 6. Prediction: DNF with Vermeer (COL) up a set.
Prediction: USC 4-0
Texas (9) vs. California (17-32) - 9am EST – Texas shut out Marist and beat Mississippi State 4-1 while Cal shut out Texas Tech and beat Texas A&M 4-3. These two met once during the regular season with Texas defeating Cal 4-2 in a consolation match at the National Indoors so they are both familiar with each other. In that first meeting Cal won the doubles point and at #3 singles while Texas won at 1, 2, 4, and 5. Texas went 16-10 in doubles while Cal went 17-7 so the doubles point is a near toss-up but I think Cal can take it. Texas is a heavy favorite at 1 and 2 singles but the other 4 could really go either way. Nick Naumann did not play against Mississippi State in the 2nd round so if he isn’t available for this one that could tilt the match in Cal’s favor.
1. Soren Hess-Olesen vs. Ben McLachlan – Hess-Olesen went 18-2 while McLachlan went 8-8 with each playing every match at #1. Hess-Olesen won the previous meeting 6-2 6-3 and has won 9 straight. Prediction: Hess-Olesen (TX) in 2.
2. Lloyd Glasspool vs. Campbell Johnson – Glasspool went 15-7 while Johnson went 8-8 with each playing every match at #2. Glasspool won the previous meeting 6-2 6-3. Prediction: Glasspool (TX) in 2.
3. Adrien Berkowicz vs. Filip Bergevi – Berkowicz went 17-6 splitting time between 3 and 4 while Bergevi went 13-7 playing primarily at 3. Bergevi beat Goldhoff in straights at #3 in the previous meeting while Berkowicz knocked off Goransson in straights at #4. Prediction: Berkowicz (TX) in 3.
4. George Goldhoff vs. Andre Goransson – Goldhoff went 11-13 starting the year at 3 and finishing at 4 while Goransson went 9-6 at #4. Prediction: Goransson (Cal) in 3.
5. Nick Naumann vs. Greg Bayane – Naumann went 20-3 playing all but 2 matches at #5 while Bayane went 14-5 playing all but 4 matches at #5. Naumann won the 1st meeting 6-5 6-4 and has won 9 straight coming into this one. Prediction: Naumann (TX) in 3.
6. Clement Homs vs. Nikhil Jayashankar – Homs went 12-3 while Jayashankar went 3-1 with 10 additional matches going unfinished. Prediction: DNF with Jayashankar (Cal) leading in the 3rd.
Prediction: Texas 4-2
Virginia (4) vs. Notre Dame (13) – Noon EST – Virginia shut out Army and beat Penn State 4-1 while Notre Dame shut out Green Bay then squeezed past Ole Miss 4-2. This will be the 4th meeting this year between these two ACC foes with Virginia winning all 3 by scores of 4-2 (NTI), 6-1 (@ UVA) and 4-0 (ACC Semis). Of those 3 previous meetings the only one that was close was the first one at the National Indoors when Notre Dame took the doubles point and forced 4 3rd sets. The Irish went 19-10 on the year in doubles while Virginia went 22-4 including 2-1 against Notre Dame. I expect Virginia to take the doubles point and then cruise through singles play.
1. Alex Domijan vs. Greg Andrews – Domijan went 25-1 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Andrews went 17-12 playing every match at #1. Domijan beat Andrews 6-3 6-4 in the ACC Semis. Prediction: Domijan (UVA) in 2.
2. Mitchell Frank vs. Ryan Bandy – Frank went 13-3 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Bandy 13-9 splitting time between 2 and 3. Prediction: Frank (UVA) in 2.
3. Ryan Shane vs. Quentin Monaghan – Shane went 18-2 playing primarily at 3 while Monaghan went 13-8 playing primarily at 2. Prediction: DNF with Shane (UVA) leading.
4. Mac Styslinger vs. Josh Hagar – Styslinger went 10-1 splitting time 4 and 5 while Hagar went 17-6 splitting time between 3 and 4. These two met 3 times during the season with each winning once and the third going unfinished. Prediction: DNF with Hagar (ND) leading.
5. Thai-Son Kwiatkowski vs. Eddy Covalschi – Kwiatkowski went 19-1 splitting time between 4 and 5 while Covalschi went 14-10 playing primarily at 5. These two met 3 times during the season with Thai-Son winning 2 of them and the 3rd going unfinished. The last meeting in the ACC Semis was won Thai-Son 6-1 6-0. Prediction: Kwiatkowski (UVA) in 2.
6. Justin Shane vs. Eric Schnurrenberger – Shane went 15-4 playing at 4, 5, and 6 while Schnurrenberger went 15-9 playing primarily at 6. Shane won the only meeting between the two in the ACC Semis by a score of 6-2 6-4. Prediction: DNF with Shane (UVA) leading.
Prediction: Virginia 4-0
Baylor (5) vs. Illinois (12) – 12pm EST – Baylor shutout Texas A&M Corpus Christi and beat Tulsa 4-1 while Illinois shutout Ball State before coming back from 3-0 down to beat Memphis 4-3. These two met in the regular season out in Indian Wells with Baylor shutting out the Illini 4-0 though Illinois’s #1 Jared Hiltzik did not play in that match due to injury; also of note is that doubles was not played in that previous match. With Hiltzik back in the lineup none of the matchups on Friday will be repeats of the March 17th encounter. Illinois went 16-13 on the year in doubles while Baylor went 23-5 and in a match that I expect to be much closer than the first meeting that doubles point could be the decider.
1. Julian Lenz vs. Jared Hiltzik – Lenz went 23-3 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Hiltzik went 17-5 primarily playing at 1 except for a brief period at 2 following his injury. Hiltzik is riding an 11 match-winning streak while Lenz has won 15 of 17. Prediction: DNF with Hiltzik (ILL) leading.
2. Patrick Pradella vs. Farris Gosea – Pradella went 12-5 and Gosea went 23-4 with both splitting time between 1 and 2. Gosea had a 12-match winning streak snapped in the 2nd round when he fell to Memphis’s Joe Salisbury. In the first meeting Gosea played Lenz at 1 and lost in straights while Pradella beat Kopinski in straights at 2. Prediction: Pradella (BU) in 3.
3. Diego Galeano vs. Tim Kopinski – Galeano went 15-7 playing primarily at 3 while Kopinski went 21-6 at 2 (7-2) and 3 (14-4). Galeano trailed Bazarnik 5-2 in the 3rd in the first meeting while Kopinski lost to Pradella in straights. Prediction: Kopinski (ILL) in 2.
4. Michel Dornbusch vs. Blake Bazarnik – Dornbusch went 13-6 at 4, 5, and 6 while Bazarnik went 20-6 splitting time between 4 and 5. Dornbusch beat Guignon in straights at #4 in the first encounter while Bazarnik was up 5-2 in the 3rd on Galeano at #4. Prediction: Bazarnik (ILL) in 3.
5. Mate Zsiga vs. Alex Jesse – Zsiga went 19-6 at 3, 4, and 5 while Jesse went 9-5 splitting time between 5 and 6. Jesse lost to Lupieri at #5 in the first meeting while Zsiga was in a 3rd set against Julian Childers on #6. Prediction: Zsiga (BU) in 2.
6. Tony Lupieri vs. Ross Guignon – Lupieri went 17-5 at 4, 5, and 6 while Guignon went 14-7 playing mainly at 4 and 6. Prediction: Lupieri (BU) in 2.
Prediction: Baylor 4-2
North Carolina (7) vs. Georgia (10) – 4pm EST – Georgia shutout Jacksonville State before sliding past NC State 4-1 while North Carolina shutout South Carolina State before beating South Carolina 4-1. Georgia was without its #2 Nathan Pasha for the NC State match after he tweaked his knee during practice on Friday so we’ll see on Friday if he is able to go. If Pasha isn’t able to play, Georgia will have its back against the wall and the big crowd may not be enough to pull them through. Until I hear differently I’ll assume he’ll play and will make my predictions based off that fact. Both teams excelled in doubles this year with Georgia going 19-5 while North Carolina went 25-6 and they have both won the doubles point in 12 of their last 13 matches. I think Georgia rides the roar of the big crowd and picks up the doubles point with tight wins at 1 and 3.
1. Brayden Schnur vs. Austin Smith – Schnur went 17-4 with all those wins at #1 while Smith went 17-5 splitting time between 1 and 2. This should be a fantastic match that will probably go 3 sets. Prediction: DNF with match tied in 3rd set.
2. Ronnie Schneider vs. Nathan Pasha – Schneider went 21-5 playing primarily at #2 while Pasha went 9-8 splitting time between 1 and 2. If Pasha was 100% he’d have a shot but with him a tad banged up I see Schneider winning with ease. Prediction: Schneider (UNC) in 2.
3. Brett Clark vs. Garrett Brasseaux – Clark went 20-6 (6-0 at 2 & 14-6 at 3) while Brasseaux went 10-2 spending most of the season at 4 before moving up to 3 and 2 in early April. Prediction: Clark (UNC) in 3.
4. Oystein Steiro vs. Ben Wagland – Steiro went 13-9 splitting time between 3, 4, and 5 while Wagland went 5-7 playing primarily at 3 before moving to 4 in April. Wagland also had 11 matches go unfinished and in fact when he beat Nick Horton on Sunday it was only his 2nd win since March 7th with 4 losses and 8 DNFs. Prediction: Wagland (UGA) in 3.
5. Jack Murray vs. Nick Wood – Murray went 19-7 splitting time between 4 and 5 while Wood went 14-3 playing primarily at 5. Prediction: Wood (UGA) in 3.
6. Nelson Vick vs. Hernus Pieters – Vick and Pieters both went 14-5 splitting time between 5 and 6. Prediction: Pieters (UGA) in 2.
Prediction: Georgia 4-2
Oklahoma (2) vs. Kentucky (15) – 4pm EST –Oklahoma cruised through its regional blanking Montana and Harvard while Kentucky shut out Denver then came back from 3-1 down to beat Clemson 4-3. Unfortunately for Kentucky, its #1 Tom Jomby had to retire early in his match against Clemson after hearing a pop in his knee and as of this minute his status for Friday is unknown. Without Jomby in the singles and doubles lineup Kentucky stands no chance so hopefully for its sake Tom can go. These two met back on February 20th in Norman and OU came away with a 5-2 in a match that saw Kentucky take the doubles point before OU won 4 matches in straight sets to seal the victory. Kentucky’s only singles win came from Tom Jomby at #1 singles when he won a 3rd set supertiebreak. Kentucky went 18-11 in doubles while Oklahoma went 20-8.
1. Guillermo Alcorta vs. Tom Jomby – Alcorta went 19-5 including 11-5 at 1 while Jomby went 20-8 with all his matches coming at #1. A healthy Jomby would have a good chance in this one but if he’s not 100% then Alcorta will roll. Prediction: Alcorta (OU) in 2.
2. Axel Alvarez vs. Alejandro Gomez – Alvarez went 19-4 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Gomez went 16-7 including 10-6 at #2. Alvarez won the regular season meeting over Gomez 6-3 6-2. Prediction: Alvarez (OU) in 2.
3. Dane Webb vs. Beck Pennington – Webb went 22-2 splitting time between 3 and 4 while Pennington went 14-11 including 11-7 at #3. In the regular season meeting Webb beat Lopez 6-2 6-2 while Pennington lost to Harris 6-4 6-4. Prediction: Webb (OU) in 2.
4. Andrew Harris vs. Jerry Lopez – Harris went 18-4 splitting time between 3 and 4 while Lopez 16-8 including 11-8 at #4. Prediction: DNF with Harris (OU) leading.
5. Austin Siegel vs. Kevin Lai – Siegel went 12-7 splitting time between 5 and 6 while Lai went 11-5 including 8-5 at #5. Neither of these two played in the previous meeting. Prediction: DNF with Lai (UK) leading.
6. Alex Ghilea vs. Grant Roberts – Ghilea went 9-5 splitting time between 5 and 6 while Roberts went 10-7 splitting time between 5 and 6. Ghilea won the regular season meeting winning a 3rd set supertiebreak. Prediction: DNF with Roberts (UK) leading.
Prediction: Oklahoma 4-0
Ohio State (3) vs. Florida (14) – 7pm EST – Ohio State posted a pair of shutouts last weekend over Bryant and Wake Forest while Florida did the same with St. John’s and South Florida the victims. These two met in the 1st round of the National Indoors back on February 14th and even though Ohio State won 4-1 it was a fairly tight match with Florida leading or tied on the unfinished courts. Only 2 of the individual matchups will be the same with those coming at #2 and #4 singles. The Gators went 16-10 in doubles while Ohio State went 27-8. The Gators seem to be peaking at the end of the year so taking 3 singles courts wouldn’t be too far-fetched though to have any shot at an upset they must take the doubles point.
1. Peter Kobelt vs. Florent Diep – Kobelt went 21-5 on the year while Diep went 14-5 splitting time between #1 and #2 though Diep started off the year playing at #5 and #6 and actually played at #4 in the first meeting losing to Steinbach in straights. Prediction: Kobelt (OSU) in 2.
2. Herkko Pollanen vs. Gordon Watson – Pollanen went 11-12 with 16 of his 23 matches coming at #2 while Watson went 10-9 splitting time between 1, 2, and 3. Watson beat Pollanen 6-4 6-5 in the previous meeting. Prediction: DNF with match tied.
3. Ralf Steinbach vs. Maxx Lipman – Steinbach went 26-4 with the majority of those coming at #4 and #5 though he did go 5-0 at #3 while Lipman went 15-3 after starting the year at #6 and finishing it at #3. Prediction: DNF with Steinbach (OSU) leading.
4. Chris Diaz vs. Diego Hidalgo – Diaz went 11-15 with 15 of those 21 coming at #3 while Hidalgo went 6-6 including a 5-0 record at #4. Hidalgo led Diaz 6-5 5-3 in the first encounter. Prediction: DNF with Hidalgo (FLA) leading.
5. Hunter Callahan vs. Elliott Orkin – Callahan went 29-3 playing 23 of those at #6 then moving up to #5 while Orkin went 9-5 splitting time between #5 and #6. Prediction: Callahan (OSU) in 2.
6. Kevin Metka vs. Mike Alford – Metka went 27-4 with 16 matches at #4 (12-4), 9 at #5 (9-0), and 5 at #6 (5-0) while Alford went 12-4 splitting time between #5 and #6. Prediction: Metka (OSU) in 2.
Prediction: Ohio State 4-0
UCLA (6) vs. Tennessee (17-32) – 7pm EST – UCLA earned its spot in the Round of 16 by shutting out both Cal Poly and San Diego 4-0 while Tennessee knocked off Elon 4-1 and Duke 4-2. The doubles point should be tightly contested with Tennessee going 21-8 on the year while UCLA went 19-9 and the Bruins have now won the doubles point in 9 straight matches.
1. Clay Thompson vs. Hunter Reese – Thompson went 15-3 playing 11 of 18 matches at #1 while Reese went 13-3 starting the year at #2 but finishing at #1. Prediction: DNF with Reese (Tenn) leading.
2. Marcos Giron vs. Mikelis Libietis – Giron went 13-2 splitting time between 1 and 2 while Libietis went 16-10 starting the year at #1 but finishing at #2. Prediction: DNF with Giron (UCLA) leading.
3. Mackenzie McDonald vs. Jarryd Chaplin – McDonald went 16-4 this year while Chaplin went 12-8 splitting time between 3 and 4. Prediction: McDonald (UCLA) in 2.
4. Gage Brymer vs. Brandon Fickey – Brymer went 16-3 with all but 2 of those matches at #4 while FIckey went 5-12 with 11 of those 17 matches coming at #3. Brymer should be able to force Fickey into error after error and will roll. Prediction: Brymer (UCLA) in 2
5. Adrien Puget vs. Andrew Dromsky – After missing the fall and most of the spring with a knee injury, Puget has gone 2-0 since returning while Dromsky is 10-9 on the year though he dropped both of his matches last weekend in the Duke regional. Prediction: Puget (UCLA) in 2
6. Karue Sell vs. Bartosz Sawicki – Sell went 13-2 on the season with 10 of his 15 matches coming at #5 while Sawicki went 7-5. Sell shouldn’t have much trouble in this one and should win going away. Prediction: Sell (UCLA) in 2
Prediction: UCLA 4-1
Check back on Saturday for a preview of the 4 Quarterfinal matches which will take place on Sunday.