NCAA tennis: Men's bracket breakdown
Can USC make it five in a row? Will rival UCLA spoil the fun? And who knew Memphis was a tennis school? Here’s our look at the 16-team men’s bracket:
Baylor, the 2004 NCAA champion, is making its 12th straight Sweet 16 appearance. The 13th-ranked Bears have won 12 of their last 13 matches. Their roster includes talented freshman Julian Lenz of Germany, named the Texas Region Rookie of the Year and Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year.
The Bears are glad to have back senior co-captain Riki McLachlan, sidelined by injury from Feb. 8 through the Pac-12 Championships. He played at No. 6 singles in the NCAA first and second rounds. Cal, led by 20-year coach Peter Wright (Class of ‘91), was one of 14 schools with both its men’s and women’s teams ranked in the May 2 ITA poll.
Duke is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the Round of 16. Senior Henrique Cunha holds 21 school records, including most career singles (147) and doubles (143) victories. This season, Cunha is unbeaten in dual matches (18-0).
Six-time NCAA champs are making their 35th appearance in the NCAA Championships — and 30th straight. The Bulldogs won the SEC regular season title in addition to the SEC tournament. Georgia enters the Round of 16 on a 15-match winning streak and has won 19 of 20 since Feb. 24.
Led by first-year coach Cedric Kauffmann — a native of France — the Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season, a program first. Today’s match against No. 9 Duke will be Kentucky’s 11th this season against the current ITA top 10.
The Cinderella Tigers, one of two unseeded teams in C-U, are making their first appearance in the Round of 16. Coach Paul Goebel told his Tigers if they won a Conference USA championship, he wouldn’t shave. He is now sporting a playoff beard dating to April 18. He had never grown his beard out before.
The Rebels, led by sixth-year coach Per Nilsson, are in the Round of 16 for the first time since 2001. The Bulldogs have four true freshmen who have played key parts in the lineup, led by SEC Freshman of the Year and All-SEC first-team member Romain Bogaerts.
The Big Ten’s only men’s qualifier, the Buckeyes are best known for having won 172 consecutive matches in Columbus, Ohio, the longest active home win streak and longest in the history of any NCAA Division I sport. The Buckeyes are in the Round of 16 for an eighth consecutive season.
The Sooners are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010 and the second time under four-year coach John Roddick. They are led by senior Costin Paval, who was named Big 12 Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, and Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year Axel Alvarez Llamas.
The Waves, who won it all in 2006 under veteran coach Adam Steinberg, have won a remarkable 40 West Coast Conference tournament titles and haven’t lost a dual at the conference championship in more than 20 years. They are led by two-time WCC Player of the Year Sebastian Fanselow.
Four-time defending NCAA champs — only one other team has won as many in a row under the current format — are seeded fourth. The Trojans were seeded No. 1 last year, No. 2 in ‘11, No. 5 in ‘10 and No. 8 in ‘09. USC leads the nation with 20 NCAA titles and is 86-29 in tournament play.
Vols have the No. 1 ranked player in both singles and doubles: sophomore Mikelis Libietis, a native of Priekuli, Latvia. Libietis and fellow sophomore Hunter Reese form the top-ranked doubles team. Tennessee, which advanced to the finals in 2010, has reached at least the Round of 16 in five of Sam Winterbotham’s first seven seasons in charge.
The Aggies have faced nine of the 15 teams to reach the Round of 16 in the regular season, including first-round opponent Ohio State (A&M won 4-3 in College Station). They are 4-9 against the field, also beating Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi State.
For the first time since 1999, the Bruins are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. UCLA, which won the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles, is seeking the program’s 17th NCAA championship and first since 2005. Coach Billy Martin grew up in Evanston, eventually attending Oak Park River Forest High.
The Commodores, who gave Craig Tiley’s unbeaten Illini a scare in the 2003 title match, are making their third appearance in the Sweet 16. They are led by All-SEC first-team honoree Ryan Lipman. Lipman is only the second Commodore to be named to the All-SEC first team three times.
The ACC champs — led by all-conference performers Alex Domijan, Mitchell Frank, Jarmere Jenkins and Mac Styslinger — finished second to USC in 2012 and ‘11. Making its 10th consecutive Round of 16 appearance, the No. 2 seed is the only team to be a top-four seed each of the past seven years.