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Forecasting NCAA Women's D-I Regionals

By Ryan Herrington

Crystal-balling what's going to take place this weekend at the three NCAA women's regionals— specifically identifying the eight teams that will advance from each site—requires a combination of four elements:

* Basic knowledge of the teams competing
* Historical understanding of how top seeds have done in previous years
* Willingness to let gut-instinct win out over reasonable logic
* Luck

I'm not 100 percent sure which of these four is the biggest factor, but I'm more than 10 percent sure it's not in the above order.

Nevertheless, I will go ahead and make my annual stab … uhh, I mean, well-researched … attempt at predicting who will succeed and who will struggle at Auburn University Club, Jimmie Austin OU GC and Stanford GC.

If you are thinking of trying to do this at home, I offer you one statistic that might be a nice nugget to take into account. In 2010, eight schools not among the top eight seeds at the three regionals pulled off "upsets" and advanced to the NCAA Championship. In 2011, eight schools not among the top eight seeds also and advanced to the NCAA Championship. In 2012, seven schools not among the top eight seeds advanced to NCAA.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Picking chalk isn't necessarily the best method to this madness. You've got to make some bold choices.

Or you can follow what I did here.
EAST REGIONAL
Auburn University Club, Auburn, Ala.
   For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat

Winner: Alabama
Locks to advance: UCLA
Shouldn't have a problem: Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State
On the good side of the bubble: Virginia, Notre Dame, Texas State
On the bad side of the bubble: Tulane, Texas, Northwestern
Will play respectably: Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, UCF, Penn State, East Carolina, Chattanooga
Just happy to be there: Florida International, Mississippi, East Tennessee State, James Madison, Eastern Kentucky, Alabama State
Individuals who advance: Maribel Lopez Porras, Tulane; Kelly Shon, Princeton

In the glow of Alabama's NCAA title last year, it's easy to forget the Crimson Tide finished T-4 at the East Regional (albeit only six strokes out of first). Having won five of their last six starts, Mic Potter's team is poised to advance to nationals for the eighth straight year and be in good position to defend its crown. … UCLA found its way this spring with the return of senior Tiffany Lua to the lineup. A third-straight Regional title will be a challenge, but this confident bunch of Bruins knows how to get to nationals. … Surprisingly Arkansas' best finish at Regionals is a fourth-place showing in 2001. This group of Lady Razorbacks have the talent to beat that mark. … North Carolina hasn't finished better than T-5 since February but this is the same team that won the NCAA Fall Preview so there's enough talent to get the job done. Something tells me the now-or-never scenario will inspire the Lady Tar Heels. … Alan Bratton leads an experienced Oklahoma State squad looking to avenge last year's 11th-place showing at the East Regional and advance to nationals for the first time since 2010. … Virginia had finished fourth at nationals the last two seasons and Kim Lewellen has the team, led by ACC POY Brittany Altomare, trending well of late. … Notre Dame starts two sophomores and two freshmen, but don't let the youth fool you. Rookie Lindsey Weaver is ready for the postseason spotlight. … Mike Akers' Texas State squad is built for this season, with talented seniors Valdis Jonsdottir and Krista Puisite and junior Mara Puisite. The Bobcats are underdogs but not necessarily long-shots.


CENTRAL REGIONAL
Jimmie Austin OU GC, Norman, Okla.
   For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat

Winner: Oklahoma
Locks to advance: Duke, Washington
Shouldn't have a problem: Florida, Arizona State
On the good side of the bubble: Texas Tech, N.C. State, Michigan State
On the bad side of the bubble: UC Davis, Iowa State, SMU, Campbell
Will play respectably: Coastal Carolina, Wake Forest, TCU, Gonzaga, Indiana
Just happy to be there: Texas-San Antonio, Mississippi State, Wisconsin, Lamar, Illinois State, Detroit, Butler
Individuals who advance: Demi Runas, UC Davis; Brittany Henderson, Coastal Carolina

Inspired perhaps by teammate Chirapat Jao-Javanil's individual victory at last year's NCAA Championship, the rest of the Oklahoma squad stepped up in 2012-13 to claim three titles and three runner-ups. Playing at home allows the Sooners to see win No. 4 on the horizon. … Duke finally claimed its first team title of the 2012-13 season at ACCs after six top-five finishes. Something tells me senior Lindy Duncan is going to be heard from again in the next few weeks. … Washington's SooBin Kim (71.94) and Charlotte Thomas (72.72) have the two best single-season stroke averages in school history. This dynamic duo will lead the charge for the Huskies. … Rookie coach Emily Bastel has her work cut out for her in trying to get Florida to regroup from a disappointing 13th-place finish at SECs. If she can restore the team's confidence, there's a lot of talent in Gainesville. … Arizona State has quietly had six top-five finishes this season, including a victory at the Dale McNamara Invitational, the Sun Devils' last start in the state of Oklahoma. Noemi Jimenez's two spring wins give her confidence. … Texas Tech has played at Jimmie Austin GC for the Susie Maxwell Berning Classic each of the last two seasons (finishing second and fourth), giving the Lady Raiders some familiarity with the course that could prove crucial as they try to qualify for nationals for just the second time in school history. … A year after earning its first trip to nationals, N.C. State looks for some deja vu, having earned the eighth seed at the Central Regional for the second straight season. … Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll has a way of getting Michigan State to rise to the occasion, having led the Spartans to NCAAs eight of the last 13 years. You pick against her at your own risk. 


WEST REGIONAL
Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif.
      For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat

Winner: USC
Locks to advance: Arizona, Stanford
Shouldn't have a problem: Vanderbilt, Purdue
On the good side of the bubble: Georgia, Pepperdine, South Carolina
On the bad side of the bubble: Baylor, Texas A&M, LSU
Will play respectably: Denver, Ohio State, Oregon, UNLV, California, Florida State
Just happy to be there: Miami (Fla.), San Jose State, Harvard, Kent State, Northern Arizona, North Dakota State, LIU-Brooklyn
Individuals who advance: Amy Anderson, North Dakota State; Tonje Daffinrud, Denver

No team has been as consistently successful at NCAA Regionals as USC. The Trojans having won a record eight regional titles, including three in a row and six in the last seven seasons. Coming off an impressive Pac-12 victory, it's tough to see any reason why the No. 1 ranked team in the country won't cruise at Stanford. … Arizona hasn't been flashy this season, but it also hasn't been out of the hunt much, finishing fourth or better in eight of nine starts. … Stanford is good enough to finish inside the top eight without the advantage of playing at home. Given that perk, the Cardinal should cruise even if Mariah Stackhouse doesn't shoot another NCAA-record 61 like the one she had here earlier this spring at the Peg Barnard. … Vanderbilt plays in the West Regional for the first time in school history, although the team has competed at Stanford GC every year since 2000-01. The Commodores are the only team in the Golf World/WGCA top-10 without a win this year (and just one of two in the top 25), but that might only make them more hungry this week. … You'd be hard pressed to find a school trending better than Purdue of late, the Boilermakers having won three of their last four starts, including a share of the Big Ten title. … No school might have more motivation to succeed at regionals than Georgia, which hosts the NCAA Championship on its home course later this month. Says here the Lady Bulldogs and rookie coach Josh Brewer handle the pressure and fly home to Athens with a spot in the field at nationals. … Grace Na has the potential to left Pepperdine on her shoulders and lift them out of regionals. With the way that Liv Cheng has played of late, however, she won't need to carry the load all by herself. … Maybe it won't be victories like in 2010 and 2012, but I'm forecasting more regional magic for South Carolina, particularly after the team finished third at SECs last month. Credit Kalen Harris for having her teams prepped for the postseason.
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