News & ToursMay 7, 2008

Pre-season men's picks revisited

After reviewing my preseason predictions on the women's side, I was starting to feel a little confident. Then I evaluated my men's picks and, as you'll see below, there were some hunches that just didn't, well, hunch out right if you will.



Predicted champion: Clemson (Florida State)

Predicted player of the year: Webb Simpson, Wake Forest

Predicted freshman of the year: Drew Kittleson, Florida State (Kevin O'Connell, North Carolina)

NCAA Regional bound: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Virginia Tech (missed: Virginia, N.C. State)

Team on the rise: Florida State (Won first conference championship)

Biggest question mark: North Carolina (Tar Heels have had a solid, if not spectacular season and have a decent chance of advancing to nationals.)

Wouldn't surprise me to see: Virginia Tech's Drew Weaver, the reigning British Amateur champion, use the confidence built this past summer to be an all-ACC selection. (Weaver had four top-10s but missed out on the all-ACC team.)

Would shock me to see: Duke, with new coach O.D. Vincent, not win at least two team titles. (The Blue Devils won a share of the title at their home event and the River Landing Intercollegiate.)




Predicted champion: Alabama

Predicted player of the year: Billy Horschel, Florida (Michael Thompson, Alabama)

Predicted freshman of the year: Arnond Vongvanij, Florida (Harris English, Georgia)

NCAA Regional bound: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt (missed: Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, LSU)

Team on the rise: Alabama

Biggest question mark: Georgia (The Bulldogs had an impressive season, despite the loss of two first-team All-Americans, and look like they're among the contenders for the NCAA title.)

Wouldn't be surprised to see: Five different Alabama players--Joseph Sykora, Michael Thompson, Gator Todd, Mark Harrell and Matthew Swan--win individual titles. (Do I get partial credit as only Todd failed to win?!?)

Would be shocked to see: Florida's Billy Horschel average wind up higher than a 72.0 come the NCAA Championship. (It hasn't been a lights-out season for Horschel, but he's at 71.52 entering next week's NCAA regionals.)



BIG 12

Predicted champion: Texas A&M (Oklahoma State)

Predicted player of the year: Rickie Fowler, Oklahoma State

Predicted freshman of the year: Rickie Fowler, Oklahoma State

NCAA Regional bound: *Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor *(missed Colorado and Kansas State)

Team on the rise: *Texas A&M *(While the Aggies were a disappointment in the fall, and they were looking for better than fourth place at Big 12s, they're still an improving team.)

Biggest question mark: Oklahoma State (After losing four All-American caliber players, Cowboys come back and win 51st conference title and are contenders for the national title.)

Wouldn't surprise me to see: At least one of the top six teams not be eligible for the post-season because of a sub-.500 record. (Texas was nip and tuck there until early April, but the ".500 rule" didn't hurt anyone in the conference.)

Would shock me to see: Oklahoma State freshman Rickie Fowler win fewer than two individual tournaments. (Has wins at Olympia Fields and the Big 12 Championship.)




Predicted champion: Stanford (Arizona State)

Predicted player of the year: Jamie Lovemark, USC (Kevin Chappell, UCLA)

Predicted freshman of the year: Philip Francis, UCLA (Sihwan Kim, Stanford)

NCAA Regional bound: Stanford, USC, UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State (missed: Oregon, Oregon State, California)

Team on the rise: USC

Biggest question mark: Arizona State (The Sun Devils have showed some life of late but entering April this looking like more fact than fiction.)

Wouldn't be surprised to see: Arizona State actually fail to make it to NCAA regionals. (The Sun Devils just snuck above the .500 mark at season's end, then made it moot with their Pac-10 title making them an automatic qualifier.)

Would be shocked to see: The Cardinal not back up their 2007 NCAA title with another run at a national championship in 2008. (Stanford hasn't been as strong as it was a year ago, but it could still make some noise at Purdue come month's end.)




Predicted champion: Michigan State

Predicted player of the year: Ryan Brehm, Michigan State (Jorge Campillo, Indiana)

Predicted freshman of the year: Chris DeForest, Illinois (Scott Langley, Illinois)

NCAA Regional bound: Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Northwestern (missed: Michigan, Illinois)

Team on the rise: Wisconsin (It was actually a flat year for the Badgers, who had no wins, just two top-three finishes yet nothing worse than a eighth-place showing in 10 starts.)

Biggest question mark: Minnesota (Failed to have a winning record, thus keeping them out of the NCAA postseason.)

Wouldn't be surprised to see: Northwestern's young team, with freshmen Ravi Patel and Josh Dupont, and sophomore David Lipsky likely getting significant playing time, make a little noise before the season is through. (Or maybe not ... the Wildcats were among the four high profile teams hurt by the ".500 rule.")

Would be shocked to see: New Iowa coach Mark Hankins lead the Hawkeyes to a Big Ten title ... this year at least. (Meanwhile, his former Michigan State team repeated as conference champs.)




Predicted champion: UNLV (Colorado State)

Predicted player of the year: Aaron Goldberg, San Diego State

Predicted freshman of the year: Ji Moon, UNLV (Matt Hoffenberg, San Diego State)

NCAA Regional bound: UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico (missed: Colorado State, TCU)

Team on the rise: UNLV (Both Rebel wins came in Las Vegas; still, they didn't finish worse than fourth from September on.)

Biggest question mark: BYU (Just two top-five finishes in 13 tournaments, and one was a runner-up in the Cougars' home event.)

Wouldn't be surprised to see: Any of a half dozen players claim MWC player of the year honors. (Really wasn't the wide-open race I figured, with UNLV's Seung-su Han being the only other golfer who really challenged Goldberg.)

Would be shocked to see: BYU bounce back in 2007-08 after losing four of their five best players, including Daniel Summerhays turning pro with one year of eligibility left, from last year's conference winning team. (Had more finishes 10th or worse [seven] than ninth or better this season [six].)




Predicted champion: Central Florida (Alabama-Birmingham)

Predicted player of the year: Nicolas Geyger, Tulsa (Zach Sucher, Alabama-Birmingham)

Predicted freshman of the year: Jhared Hack, Central Florida (Kelly Kraft, SMU)

NCAA Regional bound: Central Florida, SMU, Houston, East Carolina (missed: Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis)

Team on the rise: Central Florida (Seemed to get better after Jhared Hack's mid-season departure, posting their two wins of the season.)

Biggest question mark: Tulsa (Just two top-five finishes and eight finishes of eighth place or worse.)

Wouldn't be surprised to see: A first-time winner at the Conference USA Championship (only Houston and Tulsa have won previously). (Thank you, UAB!)

Would be shocked to see: Even with Nicolas Geyger returning, Tulsa win any more than one tournament after losing four seniors with stroke averages of 73.13 or better (Golden Hurricane won the Landfall Tradition, their only top-seven finish until a fifth at the conference championship.)




Predicted champion: Pepperdine (San Diego)

Predicted player of the year: Brian Locke, Loyola Marymount (Jake Yount, San Diego)

Predicted freshman of the year: Andrew Putnam, Pepperdine

NCAA Regional bound: Pepperdine, San Diego, Loyola Marymount, Saint Mary's

Team on the rise: San Diego (Claimed the conference title.)

Biggest question mark: Loyola Marymount (Missed out on a NCAA regional berth despite having two players qualify individually for NCAA postseason.)

Wouldn't be surprised to see: Pepperdine emerge as a more consistent team than during the past few seasons. (The Waves had seven top-five finishes this season and were never outside the top-10 compared to last year when they had four top-fives and four finishes of 12th or worse.)

Would be shocked to see: Saint Mary's senior Chadd Cocco not return to his status as one of the conference's best players after redshirting last season. (Was named to the all-WCC team.)


Conference champs:2 of 8

POY: 3 of 8

FOY: 2 of 8

NCAA regional teams: __35 correct; 17 that I failed to pick; 8 that I picked that failed to get a bid

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