By Bobby Knight. Pictured Tennessee Men's
We’re down to the final 16 teams and by next Tuesday evening we’ll be down to just 1 as play resumes on Thursday morning in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. It was an interesting first 2 rounds of play as 2 hosts were bounced with Ole Miss going down to Memphis in the 2nd round and Florida getting upset in the 1st round by Denver.
I went 36-12 in my 1st and 2nd round predictions with the Gainesville regional shutting me out with Florida and Florida State getting kicked to the curb by Denver and Cal. One of my upset specials, Michigan, didn’t even make it out of the first round which put an end to what was once thought to be a promising season for the Wolverines. Below are some highlights and lowlights of the opening 2 days of the NCAA Tournament.
- Biggest Upset: Unranked Denver over #15 Florida in Gainesville and the Pioneers did it by sweeping 1, 2, and 3 singles.
- Most Lopsided Win: UCLA over UMKC. Bruins only dropped 6 games in singles play.
- Most uninspired effort: South Carolina. The Gamecocks, who posted its most wins (18) since 2005, were whipped by UNC Wilmington 4-0 in a match that would have probably finished 6-1 if played out.
- Best 1st Round Match: San Diego over Alabama 4-3. The doubles point in this one lasted just short of 2 hours with San Diego rallying from a break down at both 1 and 3 to push each into a tiebreak which they would ultimately pull out. After the draining doubles point, 4 of the 6 singles matches went 3 with Clarke Spinosa clinching it for the Toreros 6-1 in the 3rd at #2 singles over Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey. Other tight 1st round matches included Washington defeating Notre Dame 4-3 which saw Marton Bots come back from 3-1 down in the 3rd set to win the deciding match 6-3 at #2 singles. The match had been halted at 3-1 in the 3rd due to rain and was moved indoors. Northwestern beat Wake Forest 4-3 as Chris Jackman edged out Morgan Mays 7-5 in the 3rd at 6. Mays served for the match up 5-4 30-0 but was unable to close it out. As already mentioned Denver came back from 3-1 down to beat Florida 4-3 with Max Krammer defeating Bob van Overbeek 7-5 in the 3rd at 3. Minnesota beat VCU 4-3 as Rok Bonin held off Max Wennakoski 6-4 in the 3rd at 1 and Clemson beat Boise State 4-3 as CU’s Dom Maden came back from a set down to win 6-1 in the 3rd at 4.
- Best 2nd Round Match: Texas A&M over Texas 4-3. The match between these hated rivals came down to a 3rd set tiebreaker at #2 singles and it was Texas A&M’s Junior Ore that pulled it out. Just a few weeks earlier Ore was involved in another match deciding 3rd set tiebreak against Georgia in the SEC Semifinals and in that one Ore came up short after having a match point so it was a tremendous mental effort to not have that repeat itself. Another match that came down to the final court was Tennessee and Clemson. With the match tied at 3, Tennessee’s Brandon Fickey got a late break and then served it out to knock off Clemson’s Gerardo Meza 6-4 in the 3rd at 3.
The SEC had the most teams in the field with 12 but that number has been trimmed in half to 6 with Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, and South Carolina departing. The state of California has the most remaining teams with 4 (USC, UCLA, Pepperdine, Cal) though Tennessee is 2nd with 3 teams left (Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Memphis), and Texas (Baylor, Texas A&M) is the only other state with multiple teams.
Now that we’ve put the 1st 2 rounds in the past let’s look ahead to Thursday’s Round of 16 matches with the projected singles lineups listed as well. Live scoring and Live Streaming Video of each match will be provided at the Host Site
so if you can’t make it out in person I suggest you follow along online.
NCAA Men's Bracket PDF
| NCAA Women's Bracket PDF
(1) vs. Vanderbilt
(16) – 7pm CST – Vanderbilt advanced to the Round of 16 for only the 3rd time in program history and their reward is a meeting with #1 UCLA. There are a couple of spots in the lineup where Vandy has a shot but not enough to get to 4 points.
- Dennis Novikov vs. Ryan Lipman – Novikov went 13-7 on the year and 9-5 at 1 while Lipman went 17-6 at 1. This is one of the courts where Vandy has a shot if Lipman plays to his potential. Prediction: DNF with Lipman (Vandy) up a set.
- Marcos Giron vs. Gonzales AJ Austin – Giron went 18-7 on the year and 12-4 at 2 while Austin went 16-9 and 14-7 at 2. If Giron plays up to par he’ll win this one going away. Prediction: Giron (UCLA) in 2.
- Adrian Puget vs. Jeff Offerdahl – Puget went 17-3 on the year and 13-2 at 3 while Offerdahl went 8-13 overall and 3-9 at 3. Puget will roll in this one 6-2 6-1. Prediction: Puget (UCLA) in 2.
- Dennis Mkrtchian vs. Kris Yee – Mkrtchian went 18-4 overall and 12-4 at 4 while Yee went 19-2 overall but just 1-1 at 4. There will be a lot of long rallies in this one and the match will go unfinished. Prediction: DNF with Mkrtchian (UCLA) up a set.
- Clay Thompson vs. Marc van der Merwe – Thompson went 22-2 overall and 15-1 at 5 while van der Merwe went 12-11 overall and 5-2 at 5. Thompson will take this one in under an hour. Prediction: Thompson (UCLA) in 2.
- Karue Sell vs. Rhys Johnson – Sell went 23-3 overall and 15-3 at 6 while Johnson went 10-9 overall and 6-3 at 6. Sell will have the upper hand in this one and the match and if it finishes Sell will take it. Prediction: DNF with Sell (UCLA) up a set and near the finish line.
Prediction: UCLA 4-0
(8) vs. Duke
(9) – 7pm CST – Both teams have been a tad banged up with Duke’s Chris Mengel sitting out last weekend while Kentucky saw Grant Roberts return after missing the last month. If Mengel does play he would fit in at the 4 spot which would slide Hemmeler down to 5 and Tahir to 6. I think Duke wins this regardless of who is in the 4-6 spots.
- Anthony Rossi vs. Henrique Cunha – Rossi went 25-5 at 1 while Cunha went 18-0 so this should be a good one. Cunha hasn’t dropped a set in almost 2 months and I don’t see him dropping one here. Prediction: Cunha (Duke) in 2.
- Tom Jomby vs. Fred Saba – Jomby went 23-7 on the year at 2 while Saba went 13-3. Jomby is the better player and he’ll get the win. Prediction: Jomby (UK) in 2.
- Charles Minc vs. Michael Redlicki – Minc went 11-13 on the year and 3-7 at 3 while Redlicki went 14-5 at 3. Minc is a grinder and will want to keep the points long but Redlicki will shorten them where possible and pull away. Prediction: Redlicki (Duke) in 2.
- Kevin Lai vs. Raphael Hemmeler – Lai went 15-6 overall and 4-2 at 4 while Hemmeler went 24-3 on the year and 4-0 at 4. Hemmeler will take this one 6-3 6-1. Prediction: Hemmeler (Duke) in 2.
- Grant Roberts vs. Jason Tahir – Roberts went 16-8 overall and 9-2 at 5 while Tahir went 22-1 overall and 4-0 at 5. Roberts just returned from an injury last week that kept him out for almost a month though he picked up a pair of wins last weekend. Prediction: DNF with it early in the 3rd set.
- Beck Pennington vs. Josh Levine – Pennington went 13-2 on the year and 3-2 at 6 while Levine 6-0 at 6. Prediction: DNF with Levine (Duke) up a set.
Prediction: Duke 4-1
(3) vs. Oklahoma
(14) – 9am CST – Georgia may be the higher seed but the departure of KU Singh makes this an almost even matchup with Oklahoma considered the favorite by some. The doubles point will be crucial for each with several of the singles matches considered toss-ups. I think this will be the most compelling and close match of the day with several 3rd sets expected and it could easily hit the 4 plus hour mark.
- Ben Wagland vs. Costin Paval – Wagland went 17-4 on the year and 3-0 since moving up to 1 while Paval was 17-4 at 1. Wagland, who is a freshmen, started the year playing at 4 and has slowly crept his way up the lineup with his strong play. Paval, who is a senior, definitely has the edge in experience but Wagland is playing loose with nothing to lose. Prediction: Wagland (UGA) in 3.
- Nathan Pasha vs. Guillermo Alcorta – Pasha went 14-9 overall and 4-4 at 2 while Alcorta went 18-5. I’ll give the slight edge to Alcorta though Pasha is more than capable of winning. Prediction: Alcorta (OU) in 3.
- Austin Smith vs. Axel Alvarez Llamas – Smith went 16-5 overall and 4-1 at 3 while Llamas went 19-6 overall and 7-1 at 3 so both freshmen have performed very well this year. Llamas has won 10 of his last 11 and has knocked off some big time players and I think he’ll be too much for Austin. Prediction: Llamas (OU) in 2.
- Hernus Pieters vs. Dane Webb – Pieters went 12-7 on the year and 3-3 at 4 while Webb went 19-6 and 6-0 at 4. Webb has been the more consistent of the 2 and has won 11 of his last 12 so I can’t see this not going his way. Prediction: Webb (OU) in 2.
- Garrett Brasseaux vs. Leonard Stakhovsky – Brasseaux went 15-3 on the year and 4-1 at 5 while Stakhovsky went 10-7 overall and 7-5 at 5. This is a court Georgia must win to stay in the match and I think Garrett will find a way to get it done in 3. Prediction: Brasseaux (UGA) in 3.
- Marco Nunez vs. Nick Papac – Nunez went 8-0 overall and 5-0 at 6 while Papac went 4-3 overall and 3-2 at 6. Neither of Papac’s 1st and 2nd round matches finished while Nunez won his 1st round match and had a DNF in the 2nd. Both of these players picked up playing time later in the year due to injuries from others so neither is the most battle tested. Prediction: Nunez (UGA) in 3.
Prediction: Georgia 4-3, Winner: Georgia 4-1
, Release UGA
(11) vs. Memphis
(17-32) -9am CST – Memphis is making its first ever trip to the round of 16 after winning in Oxford (Ole Miss) for the 1st time since 1982. Pepperdine will be a much tougher test though as the Waves come into this one having won 16 of its last 17. Pepperdine would have to have a major letdown to give Memphis a shot at an upset but I see the Waves rolling in under 2 ½ hours.
- Sebastian Fanselow vs. Connor Glennon – Fanselow went 21-6 on the year while Glennon went 10-7. Glennon injured his wrist late in the year but was able to play against Ole Miss though he came up short. Fanselow is too strong to let Glennon hang around in this one. Prediction: Fanselow (Pepp) in 2.
- Alex Sarkissian vs. Joe Salisbury – Sark went 20-4 on the year including 9-0 at 2 while Salisbury was 6-9 overall and 5-8 at 2. Sarkissian has won 8 straight and I look for him to push that to 9. Prediction: Sarkissian (Pepp) in 2.
- Finn Tearney vs. Lukas Vrnak – Tearney went 20-5 on the year and 6-1 at 3 while Vrnak went 10-6. Tearney will take care of this one in 6-2 6-2 fashion. Prediction: Tearney (Pepp) in 2.
- Francis Alcantara vs. Johnny Grimal – Alcantara went 21-8 including 17-5 at 4 while Grimal 8-6. Prediction: DNF with Alcantara (Pepp) up a set a close to a win.
- Mousheg Hovhannisyan vs. David O’Leary – Mousheg 12-9 at 5 while O’Leary went 8-4. This one will likely be in the 2nd set when the Waves clinch. Prediction: DNF with Mousheg (Pepp) up a set and a break.
- David Sofaer vs. David O’Hare – Sofaer went 14-5 at 6 while O’Hare went 7-2. Prediction: DNF with Sofaer (Pepp) up a set and close to the win.
Prediction: Pepperdine 4-0, Winner: Pepperdine 4-2
, Release Pepperdine
(2) vs. California
(17-32) – Noon CST – Cal played a slew of matches this year against Top 10 teams so the Bears won’t be intimidated by the undefeated Cavs; however Virginia is a on a mission this year and won’t let off the gas for anyone.
- Jarmere Jenkins vs. Ben McLachlan – Jenkins is 20-2 overall and 15-2 at 1 while Ben went 11-11 at the top of the lineup for the Bears. Prediction: DNF with Jenkins (UVA) up a set.
- Alex Domijan vs. Christoffer Konigsfeldt – Domijan went 21-3 overall and 14-2 at 2 while Konigsfeldt went 9-10. Alex will take care of business and win going away 6-2 6-3. Prediction: Domijan (UVA) in 2.
- Mitchell Frank vs. Campbell Johnson – Frank went 20-1 overall and 14-1 at 3 while Johnson went 18-6 overall and 15-6 at 3. Mitchell is just too good and will wear Campbell down 6-4 6-0. Prediction: Frank (UVA) in 2.
- Mac Styslinger vs. Gregory Bayane – Styslinger went 18-3 overall and 9-3 at 4 while Bayane went 15-5 at 4. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bayane take this one but it will likely not reach the end. Prediction: DNF with Bayane (Cal) up a set.
- Justin Shane vs. Mads Engsted – Shane went 11-2 overall and 4-1 at 5 while Engsted went 9-10 at 5. Shane will take this one 6-3 6-2. Prediction: Shane (UVA) in 2.
- Julen Uriguen vs. Riki McLachlan – Uriguen went 11-0 at 6 while Riki went 3-0 on the year after sitting out most of it with an injury. Prediction: DNF with Uriguen (UVA) up a set.
(7) vs. Mississippi State
(10) – Noon CST – The Vols took the regular season meeting in Starkville 4-2 with the top 3 spots all going the distance though both teams have changed their 3-6 spots since that last meeting. I like Tennessee in doubles and see singles going this way:
- Mikelis Libietis vs. Romain Bogaerts – Libietis has been on fire this year going 22-2 and he’ll be the #1 seed in the NCAA Singles Tournament while Bogaerts has had a nice freshmen year going 13-6. In the regular season meeting this match was the only one not to finish though it was on serve deep in the 3rd set at 7-6 4-6 4-3. I can’t see Mikelis dropping this one and think he’ll get it done in straights. Prediction: Libietis (UT) in 2.
- Hunter Reese vs. Malte Stropp – Hunter Reese, who went 14-4 on the year, took the regular season meeting 3-6 6-3 6-4. Stropp went 13-7 on the year but dropped his last 4 of the regular season all in straight sets. Prediction: Reese (UT) in 3.
- Brandon Fickey vs. James Chaudry – Brandon battled injuries most of the season and went 13-8 though he was just 3-7 at the 3 spot. He picked a good time to snap a 7 match losing streak in the 2nd round against Clemson by winning the deciding match 6-4 in the 3rd. James went 11-4 on the season at 3 and is currently riding a 4 match winning streak. In the regular season meeting Chaudry played at 4 and lost in straight sets to Jarryd Chaplin but I think he is playing better than Fickey and will take this one. Prediction: Chaudry (MSU) in 2
- Jarryd Chaplin vs. Jordan Angus – Chaplin went 13-8 on the season including 6-4 at 4 while Angus went 17-5 including 11-3 at 4. Chaplin won in straight sets at 4 in the regular season meeting while Angus played at 3 and beat Fickey in 3 sets. This could very well be the match that decides who wins or loses. Prediction: DNF in a 3rd set.
- John Collins vs. Zach White – Collins went 12-6 on the season and found his groove at 5 going 7-3 while White went 8-9 on the year and 6-5 at 5. Collins has won 7 of 8 while White has dropped 4 of his last 6. Collins should win this one going away. Collins (UT) in 2.
- Ed Jones vs. Pedro Dumont – Jones went 10-11 on the season including 2-3 at 6 while Dumont went 14-5 and 12-2 at 6. Dumont has won 7 straight and 9 of 10 and I think he’ll take this one rather easily. Prediction: Dumont (MSU) in 2.
Prediction: Tennessee 4-2, Winner Tennessee 4-2, Release Tennessee
| Miss State
(4) vs. Baylor
(13) – 4pm CST – USC beat everyone on its schedule not named UCLA or Virginia while Baylor avenged one of its regular season losses in the 2nd round against Tulsa. Baylor is probably a year away from competing with a big time opponent like USC on a neutral court but the experience will do them wonders for the future.
- Emilio Gomez vs. Patrick Pradella – Gomez went 16-4 on the year including 13-1 at 1 but finished the year nursing an injury while Pradella was 20-5 overall and 12-3 at 1. If Gomez isn’t 100% he’ll have a really tough time in this one. Prediction: Pradella (BU) in 2.
- Ray Sarmiento vs. Julian Lenz – Sarmiento went 15-4 overall and 8-0 at 2 while Lenz went 16-5 overall and 8-2 at 2. If Sarmiento is on his game he’ll win but he’s coming off a loss in the 2nd round that was fairly lopsided. Prediction: DNF with Lenz (BU) leading.
- Yannick Hanfmann vs. Mate Zsiga – Hanfmann went 19-1 overall and 6-1 at 3 while Zsiga went 16-5 and 5-2 at 3. Hanfmann has been on a tear lately while Zsiga has struggled a bit. Prediction: Hanfmann (USC) in 2.
- Roberto Quiroz vs. Tony Lupieri – Quiroz went 18-5 and 6-1 at 4 while Lupieri went 18-3 overall and 9-1 at 4. Lupieri has won 11 straight and has a real shot in this one though it’ll probably go unfinished. Prediction: DNF with Lupieri (BU) up a set.
- Eric Johnson vs. Diego Galeano – Johnson went 18-4 on the year and 8-2 at 5 while Galeano went 19-3 overall and 14-0 at 5. I think Johnson will hand Galeano his first loss of the year at 5 in a 6-4 6-4 type of match. Johnson (USC) in 2.
- Max de Vroome vs. Marko Krickovic – de Vroome went 12-5 on the year but was injured for the last few months and is just coming back while Krickovic went 12-6 on the year. Max played well against San Diego in the 2nd round and I see him playing well here and winning a 6-3 6-2 match. Prediction: de Vroome (USC) in 2.
Prediction: USC 4-1, Winner: USC 4-1
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(5) vs. Texas A&M
(12) – 4pm CST – Texas A&M stunned Ohio State 4-3 earlier this year in one of the biggest shockers of the season. Unlike that previous match this one won’t be in College Station and I don’t think it’ll be anywhere as close. I like the Buckeyes in doubles and see singles going the Bucks way as well.
- Blaz Rola vs. Jeremy Efferding – Rola went 24-1 on the year and beat Ore at 1 in the previous meeting. Efferding, who went 16-9 and 7-5 at 1, fell at 2 in straights. Rola will not be denied. Prediction: Rola (OSU) in 2.
- Peter Kobelt vs. Junior Ore – Kobelt went 18-4 and 11-3 at 2 while Ore went 12-14 and 7-5 at 2. Ore is coming off a huge win against Texas and could push Kobelt in this one. Prediction: DNF though Kobelt (OSU) up.
- Connor Smith vs. Harrison Adams – Smith went 26-3 on the year including 9-0 at 3 while Adams went 16-8 and 13-5 at 3. Adams beat McCarthy in 3 sets in the previous encounter. This one will have a lot of long points and will probably not finish. Prediction: DNF with Adams (A&M) up a set.
- Devin McCarthy vs. Shane Vinsant – McCarthy went 26-2 on the year including 6-0 at 4 while Vinsant went 16-8 at 4. Vinsant beat Diaz in straight sets in the previous meeting. This should be a grind and I see Devin taking it in straights. Prediction: McCarthy (OSU) in 2.
- Chris Diaz vs. Jackson Withrow – Diaz went 23-3 on the year including 16-1 at 5 while Withrow battled a few injuries this year and went 10-5 and 9-3 at 5. Withrow upset Connor Smith in straight sets in the regular season meeting but I don’t see another upset here. Prediction: Diaz (OSU) in 2.
- Constantin Christ vs. Jordan Szabo – Christ went 16-0 at 6 while Szabo battled some injuries all year and went 12-9 overall and 5-4 at 6. Szabo fell to Hunter Callahan in 3 sets at 6 in the previous meeting. Prediction: DNF with Christ (OSU) up a set.
Prediction: Ohio State 4-0, Winner: Ohio State 4-0
, Release Ohio State
Check back on Friday for a preview of the 4 Quarterfinal matches which will take place on Saturday. We could have a blockbuster day with potential matches between Ohio State/USC, UCLA/Duke, Georgia/Pepperdine, and Virginia/Tennessee.
NCAA Round 1 & 2 Release
NCAA Men's Bracket PDF
| NCAA Women's Bracket PDF