Story by Ashley Hofer and Rob Hanson

Overtime is a weekly prediction column where sports editor Ashley Hofer and staff writer Nick Gourdoux make their picks concerning upcoming sporting events. Questions about Blugold outcomes comprise the first four quarters, while the overtime question poses a national scenario. The staffer with the most correct picks wins the all-important bragging rights for the week.

Surprisingly, Nick and Ashley agreed on every outcome for last week. But two heads aren’t always better than one; they still managed two wrong picks, as the Bucks were able to overcome the Nuggets, and the Penguins fell to the Redwings. This week, the columnists take a look at some Blugold events over spring break and a Sweet 16 matchup.

First Quarter – Who will place higher at the UW-Oshkosh Invitational? (A) Women’s track and field (B) Men’s track and field (C) Tie

Ashley: Last year, the men and women’s teams both earned first at the Oshkosh Invite with impressive individual results. But in the indoor season, it was the women who were performing better. At the WIAC tournament, for instance, it was the women who finished second, while the men brought home fifth place. I know the outdoor season is a clean slate and will change up the situation, but I think the women will have the edge again. My pick: (A) Women’s track and field.

Nick: There really isn’t much to go off of for the outdoor track and field season. Last year, the women finished 14 places higher at the national level than the men did, so I guess I’m just going to have to go by that. Give it a couple weeks, and there will be more concrete info to make predictions. My pick: (A) Women’s track and field.

Second Quarter – How many matches will men’s tennis win while in Florida? (A) Five or six (B) Three or four (C) Two or less

Ashley: We’ve said it time and time again: the Blugold men’s tennis team is on fire this year. They are now 14-2 and haven’t lost since Feb. 20. That’s 11 matches in a row. And if you look at the way the men win their matches, it is in a pretty dominating fashion. Since Feb. 27, the team hasn’t won by “worse” than 7-2. While the team will be playing in a different part of the country, I don’t think the change in venue will change the way they play. My pick: (A) Five or six.

Nick: As Ashley pointed out, the men’s tennis team has been dominant. Yes, the team is traveling to Orlando, but that really isn’t that big of a deal. The team goes there every year, and half the teams it’s playing this year are from Minnesota, so there will be some level of familiarity. I honestly see no reason to expect less than five wins for the team. My pick: (A) Five or six

Third Quarter – How many matches will women’s tennis win over spring break? (A) All five (B) Three or four (C) Two or less

Ashley: The Blugold men are not the only tennis players shining this season. The Lady Blugolds picked up two 7-2 wins last weekend to improve to a 10-3 record for the 2009-10 season. They finished third in the WIAC championship last fall. Although they will be facing some competition from outside of the area, I think the team is still going to do well over spring break. My pick: (B) Three or four

Nick: The women’s team also makes an annual trip to Orlando, so the team should be prepared to handle the distractions. Unlike the men, however, the women have only played in a pair of meets this season. While they did win both of them, there may still be some rust for the Blugolds. I think three to four wins is completely reasonable. My pick: (B) Three or Four

Fourth Quarter – How will the softball team fare in the rematch against Central College (Iowa)? (A) Win two (B) Win one (C) Lose both

Ashley: It was Central College that delivered one of the softball team’s four losses two weeks ago at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Florida. The Dutch shut the Blugolds out, while they scored two runs. Now, Eau Claire has the chance to prove themselves, as they have a double-header against Central this weekend. But Central is still tough; they are 12-5 so far this season. And last game, the Blugolds only managed to get on base four times – twice by walking. At 2-4, I think Eau Claire will definitely improve but will still have trouble with Central College. My pick: (C) Lose both.

Nick: The Blugolds did lose to Central College already this season, but it was on just the second day of games on the season for Eau Claire. The game was close, too – 2-0, with the two runs coming in the first inning. Yes, Central is a very good team with an impressive record, but I believe the Blugolds are considerably better than their 2-4 record suggests. I think the Blugolds will win a game, but, because it’s being played in Iowa, they won’t be able to complete the sweep. My pick: (B) Win one.

Overtime – Who will win the Sweet 16 matchup of No. 9 seeded Northern Iowa and No. 5 seeded Michigan State University? (A) Northern Iowa (B) Michigan State

Ashley: Judging by the chaotic state of my brackets, I’m probably in no position to accurately predict the outcome of this game. Looking at the stats, Michigan appears to have the upper hand with its previous tournament success and higher seed. But both teams have won by less than five points during each game of the tournament thus far. With this in mind, Michigan will be playing without its star Kalin Lucas. Lucas averages nearly 15 points per game, and his absence will be a problem for the team. My pick: (A) Northern Iowa.

Nick: Michigan State barely sneaked past Maryland after almost choking away a late lead. Northern Iowa, on the other hand, upset heavily favored Kansas – which was awesome because out of the three staff members who had their predictions published last week, I was the only one who didn’t pick them to win it all. I think Northern Iowa will suffer from an emotional hangover after what was probably the biggest upset of the tournament. Michigan State, on the other hand, has one of the best coaches in the NCAA. Coach Tom Izzo sports an impressive .750 winning percentage in NCAA Tournament games. Even without Kalin Lucas playing, I think Michigan State’s experience will lead them to a victory. My pick: (B) Michigan State.