NCAA Women's D-I regional preview
____Ironwood CC, Greenville, N.C.
Winner: Wake Forest
Locks to advance: Duke
Shouldn't have a problem: Auburn, Pepperdine, Vanderbilt
On the good side of the bubble: Florida, TCU, North Carolina
On the bad side of the bubble: Tennessee, Tulane, Chattanooga
Will play respectably: South Carolina, Georgia State, Furman, Washington, Texas Tech
Just happy to be there: Campbell, East Tennessee State, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, College of Charleston, Stetson, Charleston Southern, Fairleigh Dickinson
Finding a favorite in the East is a challenge as all the teams seem good but they all also appear vulnerable. I'm going with Wake Forest, thinking the momentum from a second-straight ACC title will only help a squad that doesn't have to travel far either. This doesn't feel like your traditionally dominant Duke squad, but the Blue Devils have posted some impressive wins and also is playing in their home state. Auburn hasn't been playing as well as you'd like, but it would be a shock to see them fail to advance out of regionals for a second straight season. Pepperdine has to come all the way from the West Coast, but the Waves' talent will overcome any travel tribulations. Vanderbilt has been solid all year, and SEC POY Marina Alex will carry this group again. It's tough to find a more streaky team than Florida this year, but maybe finishing 10th at SECs means they're ready for a good performance this time out. TCU has been steadily improving all year. If I have to pick one school outside the top eight seeds to pull the upset, I'll got with North Carolina. Again, I think it's a huge advantage not having to travel that far, and for I feel like coach Jan Mann can get this group motivated.
Otter Creek GC, Columbus, Ind.
Winner: Arizona State,
Locks to advance: USC, Purdue
Shouldn't have a problem: Michigan State, Denver
On the good side of the bubble: Georgia, Florida State, Oklahoma State
On the bad side of the bubble: New Mexico, Louisville, Kent State, San Diego State
Will play respectably: Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oregon
Just happy to be there: Mississippi, Baylor, Tulsa, N.C. State, Indiana, Illinois State, Murray State, Detroit Mercy, Jackson State
Arizona State will be challenged a great deal—and not by viruses this time but by their competitors—but the defending NCAA champs will ultimately prevail in the Central. USC also will put the drama of Pac-10s behind. Purdue will fall only a couple strokes shy of the West Coast duo, but has the best chance of upsetting them. Michigan State impressed in the fall and has a very solid club that always seems to get the job done at regionals. I expected a lot more out of Denver this year, but they'll be ready for this week's test. I can't for the life of me get a read on Georgia, particularly after a 14th place finish at its home event, but I don't usually bet against a Kelley Hester coached squad. Florida State's impressive spring run continues and interim coach Kate Golden gets closer to getting the job fulltime. Can one player carry an entire team? If she's as good as Oklahoma State's Caroline Hedwall, perhaps. It's why I think OSU advances, even if most of the world doesn't believe in them any more.
Stanford GC, Stanford, Calif.
Locks to advance: Alabama
Shouldn't have a problem: Arizona, Virginia, Stanford
On the good side of the bubble: LSU, California, Texas A&M
On the bad side of the bubble: Ohio State, Texas, Arkansas
__Will play respectably:__UC Davis, UNLV, San Jose State, San Francisco, UC Irvine
Just happy to be there: Idaho, Iowa State, Maryland, Colorado State, Oral Roberts, Texas State, Penn, Portland State
UCLA has been the most consistent team all season and has become more confident over the past month. Ditto to Alabama, fresh off its first SEC title. Arizona's surprise victory at Pac-10s wasn't the fluke that some have made it out to be. Virginia has time to make up for a so-so season. Home course advantage will help Stanford book another trip to nationals. LSU has more talent than its record shows. California might be playing on enemy turf, but it's a course the Bears are familiar with which is critical this time of year. It doesn't say much about the Big 12 that its champion is seeded ninth in any region. Still Texas A&M's late rally to win the conference title suggests the Aggies have a little something in their bellies that can only help come the NCAA postseason.