Thursday, May 16, 2013

College Championship Weekend: RR Picks and Predictions, Coast to Coast



The coming weekend marks one of the most important dates in U.S. collegiate rowing, with a tremendous number of championship titles on the line all over the country. Here are our thoughts, opinions, and educated guesses as to just what will transpire when oars meet water at the Pac-12, Ivy League, Eastern Sprints, Conference USA, Big East, and Big Ten Championships—let's take a look, shall we?


Pac-12s

Women's Varsity Eight:
USC
California
Washington

While California has struggled to match USC's top-end speed thus far in 2013, the Bears made some adjustments following the Lake Natoma Invitational, and reaped the rewards at the Big Row against rival Stanford. Also, the Bears suffered their first loss to Washington in the Simpson Cup since 2003 last month. What does it all mean? Look for a very tight race in the varsity eight in Sacramento this weekend. 

Women's Second Varsity Eight:
California
USC
UCLA

Women's Varsity Four:
California
USC
UCLA

Men's Varsity Eight:
Washington
California
Stanford

Though we're giving the edge to Washington for Pac-12s, California has a deep team this year, and, as they made clear on the Montlake Cut at the Cal v. Washington Dual earlier this year, they're going to do everything they can to take the race to the Huskies. Also, while Stanford enjoyed great success in the varsity eight against Cal at the Big Row, we feel that Cal's greater depth will help them to reverse that result in Sacramento this weekend.



Men's Second Varsity Eight:
Washington
California 
Stanford

Cal lost to Washington by less than a length on the Huskies' home water, so look for the Bears to be pressing Washington all the way down the course on Lake Natoma. 

Men's Frosh Eight:
Washington
California
Oregon State

The Beavers have a strong freshman class, and will be looking to push their way onto the podium ahead of Stanford in order to share the limelight with perennial Western Sprints/Pac-8/Pac-10/Pac-12 powerhouses Cal and Washington (yeah, these programs have been battling it out for supremacy on the West Coast for a very long time). 


Ivy League Championships & Eastern Sprints

Women's Varsity Eight:
Princeton
Harvard-Radcliffe
Yale

The Columbia Lions will also be gunning to earn an AQ spot—the automatic qualifier from the Ivy League Championships is the winner of the varsity eight, and likely the Lions' only shot will be in their top boat, though catching the Tigers will be a very tall task.  

Women's Second Varsity Eight:
Princeton
Harvard-Radcliffe
Brown

It's difficult to know what to do with Brown here—the Bears' lineups have changed significantly over the course of the year, from race to race—but based on the talent within their program, it's hard not to pick them for a podium finish. 

Women's Varsity Four:
Princeton
Yale
Brown

Harvard-Radcliffe's varsity four may also be in the hunt, as former junior national team standout Rosie Grinalds has been stroking the boat for most of the year, though it's not clear which crew she'll be in this weekend. 

Men's Varsity Eight:
Harvard
Brown
Northeastern

Harvard's riding an undefeated streak this spring, and will be looking to make good on a solid season this weekend when it matters most. While the Huskies took down Brown in Providence by 0.4 seconds earlier this year, we're giving the Bears the edge for silver in Worcester. 



Men's Second Varsity Eight:
Harvard
Princeton
Brown

Men's Frosh Eight:
Brown
Harvard
Cornell


Conference USA

Women's Varsity Eight:
Oklahoma
Texas 
Tennessee

The Sooners are having their best season to date, having recently defeated rival Texas at the Big 12 Championships for the first time, and they'll be looking to continue that momentum at the Conference USA Championships this weekend. We're taking the Sooners to sweep the NCAA events in Oak Ridge. 

Women's Second Varsity Eight:
Oklahoma
Kansas
Tennessee

Women's Varsity Four:
Oklahoma 
Texas
Kansas State


Big East

Women's Varsity Eight:
Notre Dame
Louisville
Syracuse

While we ranked Syracuse ahead of Notre Dame earlier this year, the Irish have been better than advertised, and the Orange haven't yet shown the speed we expected this season. Look for a close contest for silver between Syracuse and Louisville, and for an Irish sweep of the NCAA events on Mercer Lake en route to their 10th straight Big East title. 

Women's Second Varsity Eight:
Notre Dame
Syracuse
Louisville 

Women's Varsity Four:
Notre Dame
Louisville
Syracuse


Big Ten



Women's Varsity Eight:
Ohio State
Michigan
Minnesota

The Buckeyes have had a tremendous season, and will very likely be among the top teams competing for an NCAA title in Indianapolis later this month. Look for Ohio State to sweep the NCAA events as they cap off a strong campaign and build toward the finishing touch. Minnesota has also had very solid late season, defeating then No. 14 Wisconsin on the Badgers' home course on May 5. 

Women's Second Varsity Eight:
Ohio State
Wisconsin
Minnesota

Women's Varsity Four:
Ohio State
Michigan
Wisconsin

There you have it! Rostradamus has spoken! But seriously, it's all in the name of banter and a bit of fun heading into one of the most exciting weekends in U.S. collegiate rowing—good luck to all crews!

-RR

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