OSU’s Colleen Boyd Has To Be In Top Form For The Beavers to Spring An Upset Against Stanford
(All times listed are Eastern.)
Stanford vs Oregon State (11:00 PM)
Pac-10 title match. 16-0-2 vs 15-1-1. Press and Taylor vs Buckland and Richardson. Possible seeding on the line for Oregon State. A chance at killing Stanford’s undefeated streak that stretches a whole season. Is that big enough for you? I hope so. The Pac-10 proves you don’t need a tournament to have a big title match on this night. The Oregon State defense has held strong against all comers this year, but they haven’t faced a team like Stanford. The Cardinal will be looking to lift the league title with champagne football and blazing offense that has set the country alight. An OSU win would truly announce the arrival of Linus Rhode’s team on the national stage…and possibly earmark them as national title contenders in December. Get ready for potentially one of the matches of the season to greet the weekend in Palo Alto on Friday night.
UConn vs West Virginia (5:00) (Big East Semi-Finals in Piscataway, NJ)
UConn are sitting pretty after beating Notre Dame in the quarterfinals in that shocking streak ender. But why stop there? The Huskies are plenty good enough to win the Big East Tournament when on their day. But they’re also bad enough to lose going away on an off day. West Virginia are plenty good enough to cause many off days for many teams. The Mountaineers have done well after a shaky start and have a good chance at a seed with another win. Morgantown is not a fun place to play in in the winter, meaning WVU may just hit big time sleeper status with a win here.
Memphis vs Houston (5:00) (Conference USA Semi-Finals in Orlando, FL)
Memphis are within touching distance of an NCAA Tournament berth and would likely get there with a win over a desperate Houston team. The Cougars’ rough patch of three winless matches in CUSA play hurt their at-large hopes, and Houston needs to win to keep themselves on the bubble. It’s just step one for UH though, even a win wouldn’t likely be enough by itself to get in the field. A loss by Memphis would make for a nervous wait until Monday.
North Carolina vs Wake Forest (5:00) (ACC Semi-Finals in Cary, NC)
North Carolina rumbled past Virginia Tech despite conceding two late goals to the Hokies. Wake Forest played Florida State’s reserves in a controversial match whose aftershocks are still being felt around the nation. More to the point, these two teams met less than a week ago, and UNC put Wake through their paces in an easy win that clinched the ACC title. Has Wake found an answer to the Heels’ in that short span of time? I doubt it, but with Katie Stengel leading the line for the Demon Deacons, they’ve always got a puncher’s chance. UNC looks like they’ll be a #1 seed win or lose, so it’s trophy cabinet filling time for the Heels this weekend.
Loyola Marymount vs San Diego (5:30)
Can you say bubble eliminator? Both these schools are right on the edge of the bubble and a win may be all that’s needed to push one into the field. Loyola Marymount looked like at-large pretenders until their stunning triumph over Santa Clara last weekend. Now the Lions aim for the greatest escape in getting another win after their hopes looked dead and buried after a loss to Gonzaga earlier. San Diego would also like breathing room despite being higher than LMU in the RPI. The Toreros have a good profile, so a loss isn’t a death sentence. But a win would provide a lot of bubble security for Monday.
Cal vs Oregon (6:00)
Don’t laugh, but Oregon could possibly sneak in with two wins over Cal and Stanford…that’s a tough ask though. In reality, this match is all about Cal. The Bears are winless in three and sliding back towards the bubble at a really bad time. They cannot afford defeat to Oregon if they want to avoid massive pressure against Oregon State in their finale. A loss here means the Bears may have to win their last match to make it in.
Texas A&M vs Oklahoma (6:30) (Big XII Semi-Finals in San Antonio, TX)
The Aggies may have the Big XII title in the trophy case, but they’re still playing catchup with Oklahoma State and others in the RPI. Being dragged to a shootout by Colorado isn’t exactly a way to impress the computers either. The A&M offense fell quiet in an inopportune time, almost resulting in a disastrous exit to the Big XII Tournament. The Sooners won their second Red River Shootout against Texas in the opening round as they climbed to #40 in the RPI. They look in a good position to make it in the Big Dance but would be locked in if they can upset the Aggies in the semi-finals on Friday.
Marquette vs South Florida (7:30) (Big East Semi-Finals in Piscataway, NJ)
South Florida did a fine job of lurking in the weeds before reeling off four straight wins to end Big East play before topping Georgetown last weekend. Nothing but upside for the Bulls against Marquette who are looking like a mighty fine team after getting some of their early season wrinkles sorted out. The Golden Eagles may get a #2 seed with a few more wins, giving them likely home advantage through the Sweet 16. Do you like the prospect of playing in Milwaukee in November? Neither do a lot of potential opponents. In any event, USF would also lock themselves in with the upset.
Maryland vs Boston College (7:30) (ACC Semi-Finals in Cary, NC)
There has to be a burning revenge in Boston College to even the score against Maryland who won this fixture in the regular season at the death with a Colleen Deegan header. That announced the Terps on the national stage as big-time threats, and Maryland continued to show why they’re a team to be feared throughout the rest of the season. Both of these sides beat potential final opponent UNC in the regular season, so they know that a rare chance to beat the Heels twice in a year could be in the cards with a win. BC will be boosted by the return of Hannah Cerrone after suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Ohio State vs Michigan State (7:30)
It all comes down to this for both of these sides. Ohio State know they’ll be crowned Big Ten champs with a win. Michigan State knows they’ll be home for the winter if they don’t get a result. The Buckeyes are on the edge of ending Penn State’s long Big Ten title streak but have to finish the job against a beyond desperate MSU team. The Spartans aren’t guaranteed of anything, even with a win, but a loss would likely end their season. Can these Spartans finally seal the deal against a team of any repute? Or will Laura Heyboer and Olivia Stander be among the great talents missed in the Big Dance this season?
UCF vs SMU (7:30) (Conference USA Semi-Finals in Orlando, Florida)
Central Florida want to win the double on home turf. SMU just wants to keep their head above water in the bubble fight. A win would put the Mustangs in a good spot to make the NCAA Tournament if they don’t win the auto-bid, but a loss would put them in severe danger of missing out. A three match winless streak has really hurt SMU down the stretch, making this match a likely must win for bubble purposes. Meanwhile, UCF has an outside shot at a national seed if they win the CUSA title. While they still would likely be shipped out, they would get to avoid Florida and Florida State in all likelihood. That’s a mighty big carrot to dangle in front of the Golden Knights and plenty of motivation for them against an SMU team that needs a win in the worst way.
Florida vs Georgia (8:30) (SEC Semi-Finals in Orange Beach, Alabama)
Florida probably worked a little harder than they wanted to in taming Vanderbilt, 5-3. In particular, keeper Katie Fraine looked very shaky as she let in two horrid goals for the SEC regular season champs. That may be trouble against a Georgia side who ran the Gators close in the regular season before falling in extra time. The Bulldogs won a hard fight into extra time against bubble rivals Auburn but would like to stamp their profile with another big time win. A loss would likely keep Georgia on the edge of the bubble, albeit the right side of it at the moment. Oh, and you can bet Florida hasn’t forgotten the 2008 SEC Semi-Final at this venue. A 3-0 loss that was one of the darkest days of UF soccer in their storied history.
Oklahoma State vs Nebraska (9:00) (Big XII Semi-Finals in San Antonio, TX)
Nebraska are perched on the edge of the bubble after a first round win against Missouri which didn’t help their computer numbers much. A win against Oklahoma State would help those numbers, but that’s a tall ask against a formidable Cowgirl squad. OSU are still smarting after losing the Big XII title in a bad weekend in Texas and would like to make amends as they chase a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cowgirls have to win the Big XII Tournament to get there in all likelihood and Nebraska is just another step in that direction. The presence of Krista Lopez of OSU and Morgan Marlborough of Nebraska among others could mean fireworks in attack for these two teams.
Arizona State vs USC (10:00)
Arizona State got out to a quick start but slid backwards to the mean once Pac-10 play started. The Sun Devils aren’t in any bubble danger but hardy look a team worthy of their lofty RPI ranking. USC keeps plugging along and have three wins in a row while their RPI steadily goes up. The Trojans are in a situation where two wins this weekend will get them a likely national seed. Let’s put it this way though, the Ladies of Troy shouldn’t expect to be hosting a regional at McAlister any time soon even with that seed.