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The Syllabus: Is it April yet?

By Ryan Herrington

Maybe it's because I've been watching the NCAA basketball tournaments, but I'm getting antsy for college golf's postseason to finally get here. I feel like we've gotten good glimpses at all the main contenders on the men's and women's sides. Not to diminish any of the remaining regular season events left on the schedule, but lets start playing conference championship and get things rolling. Who's with me?

That said, there is still some housekeeping to do in the next few weeks, specifically on the men's side where the .500 rule may become a factor for some programs moving forward. As of March 26, here are some notable schools that are hovering around the bubble.

SCHOOL, WINS ABOVE/BELOW .500 (Golfstat Rank)
Arizona, +9 (69)*
Texas A&M, +7 (22)**
San Diego State, +4 (55)**
North Carolina, +1 (47)*** 
Virginia +1 (65)****
San Diego, -2 (82)**
Augusta State, -16 (56)

*Arizona has previously been a victim of the .500 rule.
**A&M, San Diego State and San Diego have all made match play at NCAA (or better) since 2009.
***Been to NCAA Regionals only once in last four years.
****Played at NCAA Nationals four of last five years; 


All these schools have multiple events left to improve their records, save Augusta State, which just has the Insperity Augusta State Invitational currently left on its schedule.

If this feels a little like deja vu for ASU, that's because they were faced with a similar predicament a year ago.


Losing in a playoff in their home event last April, however, gave them enough wins to sneak above the .500 mark a year ago and earn a bid to regionals. That doesn't appear possible this year, though, unless they invited a few more schools to the tournament. The field is right now at 15 teams, including one Division II opponent (USC Aiken). Even if Augusta State won the tournament, that would only give them a 13-0 mark, which wouldn't be enough to overcome their -16 deficit. 

THE FAB FIVE
My look at the top five teams in the country right now

Cal logo.gif1. California (Last week: 1)
I think Cal fans should like the way the schedule is breaking for the Golden Bears. The chance to rest a little after the busy week with the Fresno State and Southern Highlands events should help guard against burnout as the squad heads toward the postseason. Just another reason why Steve Desimone has already locked up coach-of-the-year honors in my mind.     
Next event: Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational, ASU Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz., April 5-7
 
Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (2)
Sure Cal is having a historic season. But don't let that cause you to overlook just how solid the Crimson Tide have been this spring. Three wins in four starts and a T-2 in the other leave them with a overall record of 53-1-1 (.972). Cal's spring winning percentage? (.966, 56-2)
Next event: Aggie Invitational, The Traditions Club, Bryan, Texas, April 6-7

New Mexico logo.gif3. New Mexico (4)
Raise your hand if you thought, deep down inside, that after taking the title at the Arizona Intercollegiate and ending Cal's win streak to start the spring, the Lobos would have a slide.              That gap in my type was me putting down my hand. With a win at the Don Puckette N.I.T., UNM looks to be in it for the long haul this year.  
Next event: Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational, ASU Karsten GC, Tempe, Ariz., April 5-7

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif4. UCLA (3)
Derek Freeman continues to have a "problem" that many coaches would die for: trying to whittle down a starting five when you've got eight different players that currently carry 72.6 or lower stroke averages.  
Next event: Aggie Invitational, The Traditions Club, Bryan, Texas, April 6-7

Washington 2012-13.jpeg5. Washington (5)
Maybe they haven't had the finishes they'd like at Bandon Dunes and the Duck Invitational, coming in third in both events. There is still too much talent on the Huskies squad to sleep on this group. In particular, Chris Williams hasn't finished outside the top 10 all spring. This is still a dangerous group. 
Next event: Aggie Invitational, The Traditions Club, Bryan, Texas, April 6-7


Women
USC logo.gif1. USC (1)
No women's team has proved to be more consistent than the Trojans, who haven't finished worse than second since last October. With the competition inside the team heating up, this group looks poised to make a title run.     
Next event: SDSU Farms Invitational, The Farms of Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., March 31-April 2

Alabama logo.gif2. Alabama (2)
A second-straight come-from-behind victory at the SunTrust Gator Women's Invitational shows that this group isn't going to give up. That's a pretty nice quality to have this time of the year. Now if they could get rid of that dig-yourself-a-hole habit.
Next event: Ping ASU Invitational, ASU Karsten Course, Tempe, Ariz., April 12-14

UCLA logo 2008-09.gif3. UCLA (3)
Following the Bruins and some of their players on Twitter, I felt like I was able to take a vicarious trip to Hawaii with this group as they competed—and won—the Anuenue Spring Break Classic. (Love the sunset photos, ladies!) But the working vacation was a good one for the squad, as their final-round 12-under 276 tied a school record for low 18-hole team score.
Next event: Ping ASU Invitational, ASU Karsten Course, Tempe, Ariz., April 12-14

Oklahoma logo.gif4. Oklahoma (4)
The Sooners' runner-up showing at the Gator Invite was significant considering it's the best field they'll play against this spring, helping prove that wins at the Alamo Invitational and Clover Cup weren't merely a byproduct of playing slightly lesser competition.          
Next event: SMU/Dallas Athletic Club Invitational, Dallas Athletic Club, Dallas, April 5-7

Duke logo.gif5. Duke (5)
I'm happy for senior Courtney Ellenbogen to see her in the lineup this week for the Blue Devils, her first start of the 2012-13 season. Could be a pretty neat story to see her play well and perhaps give her team a spark entering the postseason.
Next event: Bryan National Collegiate, Bryan Park GC (Champions), Greensboro, N.C., March 29-31



STAT OF THE WEEK
990

Total number of brackets out of 8.15 million filled out for ESPN's Bracket Challenge that correct picked the four teams that advanced to the Elite Eight during Thursday's regional semifinals.

Indulge me on this non-golf stat, because it has a golf-related point. Folks always talk about how difficult it is to fill out a bracket for the WGC-Accenture Match Play event. Well it's not that easy to do it for NCAA hoops either.

Additionally, did you notice that Indiana, a No. 1 seed and many experts choice to win the entire championship, lost last night in the third round? I don't anticipate anyone writing in the next few days that the NCAA Championship is a mess because one of the perceived favorites didn't win the title. Sometimes, favorites lose. Hope people will understand this when the NCAA men's golf championship comes around in June should California, the top-ranked team in the country this season, stumble at some point.  



TWEET OF THE WEEK
Tweet of the Week (Mariah Stackhouse) 3-29-2013.jpg—Stanford freshman Mariah Stackhouse. Hope you gave yourself
a good treat after shooting that 61 earlier this spring. 




RANDOM THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
The key to a happy marriage/relationship is knowing when your partners questions are real and when they're rhetorical.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR
* Seven played with collegiate ties—USC's Doris Chen, Duke's Lindy Duncan, Florida's Camilla Hedberg and Isabelle Lendl, Alabama's Stephanie Meadow, UCLA signee Alison Lee and Clemson signee Ashlan Ramsey—will be competing next week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major of 2013.

If history holds form, don't be surprise is at least one if not more make the cut at the tournament. At least one amateurs has made the cut in the event every year since 2000 and multiple players have played four rounds every year except 2011.

Kraft Nabisco Amateur chart (335).jpgLydia Ko and Georgia Hall are the other two amateurs in the field without college ties. Given Ko's track record in LPGA events, you have to think she'll make the cut and perhaps even contend. From the college ranks, my best guess is that Meadow (who has played in two majors already) is the most likely to play 72 holes, with Duncan, Lee and Hedberg my next three choices.


TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
MEN
U.S. Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif.
March 28-30
Host: Stanford
Defending champion: Oregon (+1/841) by one stroke over USC; Oregon's Daniel Miernicki (-6/204) by five strokes over UCLA's Jay Hwang and Pedro Figueiredo
Field: Colorado, Hawaii-Hilo, Iowa, Lamar, Minnesota, Nevada, Northwestern, Oregon, Pepperdine, Saint Mary's (Calif.), San Diego State, San Francisco, San Jose State, Stanford, TCU, UC Davis, USC
Skinny: The host Cardinal was starting to build a little momentum before the tournament began. A one-stroke lead after 18 holes on their home course doesn't guarantee they'll be the victors tomorrow, but it's a nice way to kick things off.

BancorpSouth Intercollegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Reunion G&CC, Madison, Miss.
April 1-2
Host: Mississippi
Defending champion: Wichita State (-11/565) by two strokes over Central Arkansas; Memphis' Jonathan Fly (-8/136) by two strokes over UCF's Brad Schneider
Field: Central Arkansas, Chattanooga, Jackson State, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri-Kansas City, Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Texas State, Troy, UNC Greensboro, Western Kentucky
Skinny: So much for home-course advantage. The host Rebels have never finished first or second in their home event at Reunion and only once have they had a golfer finish first or second in the individual race (Jonathan Randolph, 2nd, 2008)


WOMEN
Bryan National Collegiate
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Bryan National (Champions course), Brown Summit, N.C.
March 29-31
Host: UNC Greensboro/Wake Forest
Defending champion: Tennessee (+18/882) wins in playoff over Duke; Duke's Lindy Duncan (-4/212) by two strokes over UNC Greensboro's Fanny Cnops
Field: Arkansas, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina, Tennessee, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest 
Skinny: Defending champion Lindy Duncan will not be in the field as she prepares to compete in next week's LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship

San Diego State Farms Invitational
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Farms of Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
March 31-April 2
Host: San Diego State
Defending champion: USC (+14/590) by two strokes over Arizona State; USC's Sophia Popov (-2/142) by two strokes over Texas A&M's Patricia Garcia
Field: Arizona, California, Long Beach State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, New Mexico, Northwestern, Pepperdine, San Diego State, Texas, Texas A&M, UNLV, USC, USF, Wyoming
Skinny: Tourney has a new home this year after being held at Rancho Bernardo GC in 2012

Challenge at Onion Creek
   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)
Onion Creek, Austin, Texas
April 1-2
Host: Texas State
Defending champion: Texas Tech (+34/874) by four strokes over Michigan and UT-San Antonio; Texas Tech's Gabriella Dominguez (+2/212) by one stroke over UT-San Antonio's Fabiola Arriaga and Michigan's Linda Luo
Field: Arkansas-Little Rock, Eastern Michigan, Gonzaga, Idaho, Iowa, IUPUI, Kennesaw State, Seattle, South Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin State, Texas State, Texas Tech, Washington State
Skinny: Tournament moves after five years from its previous spot on the fall calendar.
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