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The Loop

The Loop

Alabama gets another chance at NCAA title

June 01, 2013

__By Ryan Herrington

MILTON, GA.—__No rest for the weary is the best way to describe the situation for Illinois. Having beaten the No. 1-ranked team in the country in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship, the Illini get to come back Sunday and face the No. 2-ranked school, Alabama.

Oh, and I might add a hungry Alabama squad. The Crimson Tide suffered a painful 3-2 defeat to Texas in the final round of the 2012 NCAA Championship, a loss that has been a rallying cry for the team even if it hasn't been spoken about since the 2012-13 season began.

"I'm pretty overwhelmed," said Alabama coach Jay Seawell after his squad beat the host school, Georgia Tech, 3-0-2 in their Saturday semifinal tilt. "It has been 365 days of answering questions and thinking about last year. And to do it again, it's really hard to do. I'm really proud of our guys. … I'm very thankful and excited for the opportunity tomorrow.

Leading the charge was junior Cory Whitsett, the SEC player of the year, who claimed a convincing 3-and-2 victory over Georgia Tech's__Ollie Schniederjans__. It was his second straight bogey-free round in match play; over his 30 holes Friday and Saturday he has also made 11 birdies.

Justin Thomas, the 2012 college national player of the year, knocked off Seth Reeves, 3 and 1, while__Trey Mullinax__ beat Shun Yat Hak, 4-and-3.

"They're awesome," Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said. "Those three guys [Whitsett, Thomas and Bobby Wyatt] at the front may be three of the best eight or nine players in the country. They all may be on the Walker Cup team. Trey played very well today and Scott [Strohmeyer] has been around a long time. That's a really good team."

With the Crabapple Course being only four hours from Tuscaloosa, the anticipation of a sizable Crimson Tide contingent being in attendance Sunday might provide an interesting intangible.

That said, Seawell's squad might not need any intangibles. This spring, the team won five out of six tournaments, the only blemish being a T-2 at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas. It was a performance overshadowed by California's historic 2012-13 campaign, but one that might come to full light if the team can avenge last year's NCAA final loss and claim the title tomorrow.