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May Madness

That's right. It's that time of the year again, when all attention turns away from life as we know it and to the biggest, most hyped tournament of the year--the NCAA Tennis Tournament. After the first two rounds, which were held in baseball-style regionals, the remaining teams are ready to head to Tulsa, OK, for the Sweet 16. Yes, that includes Ole Miss (see the updated bracket).

Oxford Regional: I'll begin with a run-down of the Oxford Regional. The Rebs played the Marist Red Foxes in the first round of the tournament. I guess the closest basketball analogy is a 15 vs. 2 opening round game (and not one of those close ones). Demoralized fairly quickly, the Foxes were retired within two hours of play as multiple Rebels dropped only a single game or none at all. Afterwards, Vanderbilt and Indiana fought through a down-to-the-wire, four-hour-long match that finally ended when Vandy's Vijay Paul came back from three match points in the third s
et tiebreaker to live another day.

But only one more day: The Commodores moved on to face the Rebels, who won their regular season meeting 6-1, on Sunday. In doubles, Erling and Jonas just couldn't find their groove to get a break and dropped 8-6. On Court 2 after coming back from two breaks down, Matthias and Bram lost a tough tiebreaker to give Vandy the lead 1-0. The Rebels returned to the court for singles "with a little revenge" on their minds, according to Jonas Berg. The Rebs swept through the first set on every court and won on the bottom four courts with no visible struggle to advance to the Sweet 16.

What lies ahead: As it stands, the Rebs are set to play on Friday morning against
North Carolina, whom we should handle with relative ease, having already taken them down 4-1 early in the season. In their second round match against Duke, UNC won via the doubles point and courts 4, 5, and 6 in singles (i.e. the same way Ole Miss frequently operates). That won't happen with Berg, Norberg, and ten Berge rounding out the bottom half--in any order. That would pit the Rebels against the winner of Georgia and Pepperdine, both renowned tennis programs.

Overall bracket: Claiming the top five seeds were Virginia, Ohio State, UCLA, Georgia, and Ole Miss, respectively. How do I feel about these seedings, specifically that Ole Miss and Georgia have reversed positions from their actual national rankings? Well, I have no problem with the selection committee's (I'm assuming a similar entity exists for tennis.) choice of Georgia over us. They're a pretty stacked team, and we tend to have a tough time against them. In fact, I'd prefer a six or seven seed just to get us to the other side of the bracket so that we could avoid Georgia and Virginia until the finals. Ohio St., UCLA, and USC present no problem in my mind--all year, I've wanted a rematch against Ohio St., and I just generally have no respect for teams in the PAC-10.

So far, my bracket is panning out far better than its March equivalent, as expected. The noticeable absence of upsets makes the task far simpler. In fact, only one host team did not advance to the Sweet 16. Who is it? In the unfortunate twist of the tournament, Tulsa, the team hosting every remaining match, missed out on this incredible opportunity for home-court advantage. Isn't it ironic...don't you think?