Overtime

Story by Ashley Hofer and Nick Gourdoux

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.

As the semester winds down, Ashley and Nick are again tied in the Overtime standings. Nick was fairly successful last weekend, failing only on how many games softball would win. Ashley was not as lucky, managing to get only two picks right. But with a clean slate this weekend, both columnists look to get the ‘W’ to take control of the game.

First Quarter – How many runs will the softball team score in the doubleheader against UW-Superior? (A) Seven or more (B) Six or less

Ashley: After early struggles, the Blugolds have now won six straight games against WIAC opponents – but all at home. Going back to stats, the Blugolds average about 4.3 runs per game, while Superior allows only 2.6 runs each game. Given the Blugolds’ 5-10 away record and the fact that the games are in Superior, I’m going to go with the low-end run prediction. My pick: (B) Six or less.

Nick: As Ashley mentioned, the Blugolds have won six straight games and seven of their last eight. The team is finally showing why it was picked so high in the preseason polls. While the majority of the team’s wins have come at home, it is still a formidable foe on the road. The Blugolds are 5-5 in their last 10 road games – a stat that looks more impressive when you realize they are a dismal 7-15 overall on the road. It leads me to believe that the Blugolds will score more than six runs in their two games. My pick: (A) Seven or more.

Second Quarter – How many matches will men’s tennis win against St. Scholastica? (A) Seven or more (B) Four to six (C) Three or less

Ashley: Though the men dropped the match against UW-La Crosse last weekend, they still boast a 22-5 record. This is significantly better than St. Scholastica’s 10-9. Thought the Saints have won their last five matches, they also have lost – sometimes badly – to teams the Blugolds have done better against. While St. Scholastica lost 1-8 against the Eagles, Eau Claire only lost 4-5. When the Saints lost 4-5 against Hamline University, the Blugolds won 9-0.

I think Eau Claire will win this matchup, and by a decent margin. My pick: (A) Seven or more.

Nick: The men’s tennis team is playing phenomenally this season. A 22-5 record is pretty good, and I honestly see no reason for them not to win at least seven matches. My pick: (A) Seven or more.

Third Quarter – How many wins will softball have during the doubleheader against UW-Oshkosh? (A) Two (B) One (C) None

Ashley: While the softball team now has an even 15-15 record, they have been unstoppable at home. They are undefeated when the games are in Eau Claire, and I don’t see any reason for this pattern to end with the Titans. UW-Oshkosh is 12-16 overall and a mediocre 5-10 on the road. I think the Blugolds will do just fine at Gelein this Saturday. My pick: (A) Two.

Nick: As I mentioned earlier, the Blugolds are finally turning things around. After an incredibly slow start to the season, Eau Claire is on a tear. Ashley brings up a good stat that the Blugolds are undefeated at Gelein Field – the site of Saturday’s games. I think the Blugolds will sweep this doubleheader against a team currently below .500. My pick: (A) Two.

Fourth Quarter – Will the women’s tennis team win the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament? (A) Yes (B) No

Ashley: This weekend, the Lady Blugolds will play in the WIAC team tournament to see which team is automatically guaranteed a spot in the national tournament. During the first set of matches, Eau Claire faces UW-La Crosse. The Eagles beat the Blugolds 5-4 last October, but I think Eau Claire is a better team now. While La Crosse still has a 17-2 record, they have played fewer matches in 2010, and I think the Blugolds are more prepared. Eau Claire would then face Whitewater, assuming the Warhawks can move past the Pointers. Whitewater won the WIAC competition last fall but has dropped five matches already this spring, albeit against nationally ranked programs. I think the Blugolds stand a good chance of winning the qualifier, but I think they will ultimately succumb to the 18th ranked Warhawks. My pick: (B) No.

Nick: As Ashley points out, the Blugolds will have a tough road ahead of them. La Crosse and Whitewater are very, very good teams. I think the Blugolds are definitely talented enough to beat them, but I think expecting them to win both matches is a bit of a stretch. While they may not win the automatic bid, I still think the Blugolds will help represent the WIAC in the national tournament. My pick: (B) No.

Overtime – Who will win Saturday’s playoff game between the Bucks and the Hawks? (A) The Milwaukee Bucks (B) The Atlanta Hawks

Ashley: Though Atlanta has won the last two playoff games against the Bucks – and by a 10-point margin each time – it’s going to be a different story on Saturday. This time, the game is in Milwaukee, and I think it will make a world of a difference. During the regular season, the Bucks were 28-13 at home, while the Hawks boasted an impressive 34-7 record at home. But on the road, it’s a different situation for Atlanta. They are less than .500 on opposing courts. I think home court advantage will give Milwaukee the boost it needs to get back into the game. My pick: (A) The Milwaukee Bucks.

Nick: This series would be so much better had Andrew Bogut not suffered that freak season-ending injury against Phoenix in the waning weeks of the regular season. As it is, the Bucks are without their defensive cornerstone and key offensive cog and are playing like it. They’re currently facing a 2-0 deficit in the series, and it doesn’t look like they will be advancing. Still, the Bucks are a good home team, and they did play well in their final regular season games without Bogut. I think they can win at least one game in this series, and I think it will be this one. A 3-0 deficit would pretty much ensure their playoff elimination – that’s practically an insurmountable lead. The Bucks will have all the determination in the world, while the Hawks may underestimate the Bucks after a pair of easy wins. My pick: (A) The Milwaukee Bucks.