By Bobby Knight. Pictured Ohio State's Blaz Rola
8 remain after Thursday’s Round of 16 and even though there were a few close calls all those that I expected to advance to the quarters did so. For recaps of Thursday’s matches you can visit the NCAA Host Site
NCAA Men's Bracket PDF
| NCAA Women's Bracket PDF
Let’s look ahead to Saturday’s Quarterfinal matchups which should provide some spectacular hitting by some big time schools. Live scoring and Live Streaming Video of each match will be provided at the Host Site.
(3) vs. Pepperdine
(11) – Noon CST – This will be a rematch of last year’s Quarterfinals which Pepperdine took in a 4-3 thrilling upset against the host Bulldogs. Both team’s starting lineups are vastly different this year with Pepperdine having 3 new faces while Georgia has 4 and none of the individual matchups will be repeats from a year. Going into the Round of 16 I thought this was a match Pepperdine would win going away but after the way they looked against Memphis and after the way Georgia looked against Oklahoma I think this one could be a real barnburner that is basically a toss-up. I think Georgia will take the doubles point which is something they couldn’t do a year ago against Pepperdine. In singles play:
- Ben Wagland vs. Sebastian Fanselow – Wagland played an excellent match against Paval on Thursday and even though he was on the verge of losing he had his chances in the 3rd set to put it away and the fact that he went toe to toe with someone of Paval’s caliber has to help his confidence. Fanselow on the other hand put together a workman like straight sets win over Connor Glennon and has been a beast all year at 1. I think Sebastian gets in done in straights though Wagland will have his chances. Prediction: Fanselow (Pepp) in 2.
- Nathan Pasha vs. Alex Sarkissian – This should be another great match between these 2 as both played well on Thursday. I’m going to take Pasha in straights but they’ll both be close sets. Prediction: Pasha (UGA) in 2
- Austin Smith vs. Finn Tearney – Smith was taken to the woodshed on Thursday by Axel Llamas and will be looking to rebound but Finn Tearney is a solid 3 for the Waves. I see Finn taking this one in straight sets 6-4 6-3. Prediction: Tearney (Pepp) in 2.
- Hernus Pieters vs. Francis Alcantara – Pieters is coming off an impressive win over Dane Webb while Alcantara was on the verge of losing before Pepperdine clinched. This is a 50/50 match that will go back and forth and will likely go 3. Prediction: Pieters (UGA) in 3.
- Garrett Brasseaux vs. Mousheg Hovhannisyan – Both of these guys had big wins on Thursday with Garrett clinching it for Georgia and Mousheg putting Pepperdine up 3-1. This should be another one of those matches with wild swings back and forth but I see the Pepperdine senior pulling it out. Prediction: Mousheg (Pepp) in 3.
- Marco Nunez vs. David Sofaer – Nunez picked up a straight set win over OU’s Papac while Sofaer was taken out by David O’Hare in straights. Nunez is playing with a ton of confidence at the moment and I think he’ll pull through in straights. Nunez (UGA) in 2.
(2) vs. Tennessee
(7) – Noon CST – This matchup will pit 2 of the best programs over the last several years though Virginia is on a different level right now than Tennessee. The Vols must take the doubles point to have a shot in this one but I don’t see them getting it. In singles play Virginia has too much firepower and will overwhelm UT at several spots
- Jarmere Jenkins vs. Mikelis Libietis – Jenkins beat Libietis 6-3 6-3 in the quarters of the National Indoors back in November but Libietis has really upped his game since then. Libietis is ranked #1 and Jenkins is ranked #3 so this should be a great match to watch. Prediction: DNF with Libietis (UT) up a set.
- Alex Domijan vs Hunter Reese –Both of these guys have had great years and this match will likely not reach the finish line. Prediction: DNF with Reese (UT) up a set.
- Mitchell Frank vs. Brandon Fickey – Fickey has come on strong over these last 2 matches but Mitchell Frank is as good as they get. Prediction: Frank (UVA) in 2.
- Mac Styslinger vs. Jarryd Chaplin – Both guys cruised in straight sets on Thursday so each will try to keep up with their winning ways. Styslinger has the bigger game but Chaplin will put up a fight. Prediction: Styslinger (UVA) in 2
- Justin Shane vs. John Collins – Shane was the only Hoo to trail in his match on Thursday as he was down 7-6 3-1 while Collins had a disappointing loss against Zach White. These 2 met last year in the regular season when Collins was a member of the University of Maryland and in that match they were on serve in the 3rd set when the match was stopped. Prediction: DNF with Shane (UVA) up a set
- Julen Uriguen vs. Edward Jones – Uriguen has been dismantling his opponents lately and Jones is a weak 6. It’ll be hard to top his 6-0 6-1 performance from Thursday but Julen will do his best. Prediction: Uriguen (UVA) in 2
Prediction: Virginia 4-0, Winner: Virginia 4-0
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(1) vs. Duke
(9) – 4pm CST – UCLA took it to Vanderbilt on Thursday shutting out the Commodores 4-0 while Duke edged Kentucky 4-2 in a match that was in doubt for much of the night. Duke has the firepower to give UCLA all it wants but there isn’t going to be much margin for error as UCLA is a decided favorite in few spots (2, 3, and 5 to a lesser degree). If Duke drops the doubles point again, as it did against Kentucky, then a slow start in singles could spell doom for the Devils. I’ll take the Bruins in doubles to jump out to the 1-0 lead then singles will go the following:
- Dennis Novikov vs. Henrique Cunha – Cunha is coming off an impressive straight set win over Anthony Rossi while Novikov had a DNF against Ryan Lipman with the match even at a set a piece. These are 2 of the top players in the game and while Novikov can beat just about anyone I don’t think he’ll be able to take out the Duke senior. Prediction: Cunha (Duke) in 2
- Marcos Giron vs. Fred Saba – Giron was close to a win on Thursday but had his match halted with a 6-1 6-5 lead while Saba was outmuscled in straights by UK’s Tom Jomby. Saba has really struggled as of late with his last win coming back on April 21st and since then he’s lost 2 (including last night) and had had 3 DNFs though he was down in those 3. Marcos will take this one in straights. Prediction: Giron (UCLA) in 2.
- Adrian Puget vs. Michael Redlicki – Puget had an easy 2 & 1 win on Thursday over Jeff Offerdahl while Redlicki was down 4-2 in the 3rd in his match when it was halted. Redlicki has struggled a bit as of late and I look for his struggles to continue as Puget will win in 2. Prediction: Puget (UCLA) in 2.
- Dennis Mkrtchian vs. Chris Mengel – Mengel returned to the singles lineup and won in straight sets over Kentucky’s Kevin Lai while Mkrtchian was up a set in his match before it was halted. Prediction: DNF with it going to a 3rd set.
- Clay Thompson vs. Raphael Hemmeler – Thompson was the 1st off the court against Vandy while Hemmeler clinched Duke’s win over Kentucky. This is the court that Duke has to win if they want to pull the upset and while Raphael will have a shot I don’t think he can get past Clay. Prediction: Thompson (UCLA) in 3.
- Karue Sell vs. Jason Tahir – Tahir got Duke on the board with a straight set win over Beck Pennington while Sell provided the clincher for UCLA. I’m leaning towards Tahir in this one because Sell has come up short a few times against bigger name opponents. Prediction: Tahir (Duke) in 2
Prediction: UCLA 4-2, Winner: UCLA 4-0
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(5) vs. USC
(4) – 4pm CST – Both teams were pushed on Thursday with Ohio State advancing with a 4-0 win over Texas A&M in a closer match than what the final score indicated and USC held off Baylor 4-1 in a match where the Trojans dropped the doubles point then found themselves down a break on multiple courts early on before rallying for the win. USC has dominated the series with Ohio State as of late but I think this is the year the Buckeyes get over the hump against the Trojans. I like Ohio State in doubles and then look for singles to be a war.
- Blaz Rola vs. Emilio Gomez – Rola struggled a bit on Thursday against Texas A&M’s Jeremy Efferding in a match that was a DNF with Rola up 1-0 in the 3rd while Gomez rolled over Baylor Patrick Pradella in straight sets. Both of these guys will likely be on the ATP Tour next year so expect a slug fest. Prediction: Rola (OSU) in 2.
- Peter Kobelt vs. Ray Sarmiento – Kobelt won in straights over Junior Ore while Sarmiento had a DNF in his match against Julian Lenz though Ray trailed 3-1 in the 3rd. The big hitting Kobelt will have enough to get past the crafty Sarmiento in a tight one. Prediction: Kobelt (OSU) in 2.
- Connor Smith vs. Yannick Hanfmann – Smith clinched the Buckeyes win over Texas A&M while Hanfmann did the same in the Trojans win over Baylor. This too should be a great match but Yannick is the better player and he’ll find his way to a W. Prediction: Hanfmann (USC) in 2.
- Devin McCarthy vs. Roberto Quiroz –Devin had a DNF against Shane Vinsant though he led 7-6 6-5 while Quiroz came back from a 5-2 2nd set deficit to knock off Tony Lupieri in straight sets. As with the previous match I think Roberto is the better player and he’ll find his way through. Prediction: Quiroz (USC) in 3.
- Chris Diaz vs. Eric Johnson – Diaz was the first Buckeye off the court against Texas A&M while Johnson came back from 5-3 down in the 2nd to win in straight sets over Diego Galeano. This one will likely go 3 and very well could be the decider if it finishes. Prediction: DNF with Diaz (OSU) leading in the 3rd set.
- Hunter Callahan vs. Johnny Wang – Both of these guys weren’t initially expected to play on Thursday but they both saw action due to lineup changes. If this matchup stays the same I’ll go with Callahan in a tight 3 setter. Prediction: Callahan (OSU) in 3.
Prediction: Ohio State 4-2, Winner: Ohio State 4-3, Release Ohio State | USC