Overtime

Story by Ashley Hofer and Nick Gourdoux

Danielle Ryan

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.

It’s official: for the first time this semester, Nick has taken complete control of the Overtime lead. Ashley and Nick differed on only one question about softball runs against UW-Superior, but it was enough to knock Ashley back into second place. With only a couple of weeks remaining in the competition, who will be on top at the end of the semester?

First Quarter – Will women’s golf win the Blugold Spring Invitational? (A) Yes (B) No

Ashley: Not only has women’s golf been strong this year, they are traditionally strong at Eau Claire courses. For the last three years of the Blugold Spring Invite, the Blugolds have finished first twice and third. With the Blugold Spring Invitational held at Wild Ridge, I think the Blugolds will be once again very tough for the competition. My pick: (A) Yes.

Nick: I tend to overstate the value of playing at home. Basketball courts are the same. Football fields and soccer fields, generally speaking, are the same. Usually, there isn’t much of a difference between the teams other than the psychological advantage of staying in your own beds as opposed to staying in a hotel. Golf, however, is different. The Eau Claire golfers know the Wild Ridge golf course much better than their opponents, and that will give them an advantage. They know where to aim, when to be aggressive, and how the greens roll. My pick: (A) Yes.

Second Quarter – How many matches will the men’s tennis team win against Luther College? (A) Seven or higher (B) Four to six (C) Three or less

Ashley: Two excellent tennis teams are going head-to-head this weekend. The Blugolds will face Luther College this weekend at home. Seventh-ranked in the region as of an April 13 poll, Luther has a 28-8 record while 10th-ranked Eau Claire sports a 23-5 record. Looking at their recent matches, both teams seem to have similar outcomes against teams they both play. Though the Norse suffered a worse loss to UW-La Crosse, I think this is going to be a pretty close match. My pick: (B) Four to six.

Nick: These are two very, very good tennis teams – as their top-10 rankings would suggest. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a lopsided game, meaning the most likely outcome – win or lose – will be in the four to six win range. My pick: (B) Four to six.

Third Quarter – Will the men’s golf team finish higher than UW-Stout at the Edgewood College Invitational? (A) Yes (B) No

Ashley: Two weeks ago, team coach Jim Maguire said doing well in this meet and beating Stout was going to be critical to making the berth to the NCAA tournament. But doing so is going to be difficult. This season, the Blugolds and the Blue Devils have competed in five meets together, with Stout coming out ahead three times. As silly as it sounds, the two rivals tend to alternate on who finishes better. Guess what? It’s Eau Claire’s turn. My pick: (A) Yes.

Nick: Earlier this month, the Blugolds traveled to Menomonie to compete in the UW-Stout Spring Invitational. They took first place. Winning in Menomonie against a rival like Stout shows that the Blugolds can win the big, pressure-filled matches. While they may not win the Edgewood Invitational, I think they can beat Stout. My pick: (A) Yes.

Fourth Quarter – How will Blugold softball do in a doubleheader against UW-La Crosse? (A) Win two (B) Win one (C) Win zero

Ashley: Though 17-17 on the season, the Blugolds have been stout against their WIAC rivals and boast a 9-3 conference record, making them second in the standings. But who’s atop the chart at No. 1? The Blugolds’ next opponent, UW-La Crosse. The Eagles are undefeated in the conference and an impressive 28-6 overall. Eau Claire has had tremendous success at home, but because this is in Eagles’ territory, I see La Crosse stealing the show. My pick: (C) Win zero.

Nick: The Blugolds have an impressive 9-1 home record and, as Ashley mentioned, a 9-3 conference record. Heading into this game, they have one thing in their favor: it’s against a WIAC rival. Still, UW-La Crosse is an incredibly tough team, and it’s hard to pick against them at home. Still, just to differ with Ashley, I’m going to predict a win for the Blugolds. My pick: (B) Win one.

Overtime – Who will advance in the Eastern Conference playoffs? (A) The Atlanta Hawks (B) The Milwaukee Bucks

Ashley: After winning 91-87 over the Hawks on the road in Atlanta Wednesday night, the Bucks have taken a 3-2 lead in this series. Just one more win, and they will advance to the next round. The Bucks have been great at home most of the year. Because tomorrow night’s game six is in Milwaukee, I’m thinking the Bucks win the series. My pick: (B) The Milwaukee Bucks.

Nick: Heading into this series, I seriously doubted the Bucks ability to win a game. Without Andrew Bogut, I figured the Bucks would lose badly to the much more talented and experienced Hawks. In game one, that’s exactly what happened. The Hawks jumped out to a 20-plus point lead. While the Bucks made a valiant attempt at a comeback, it fell short. Game two ended with the same result – a Bucks loss. Then, things switched to Milwaukee. The Bucks were the ones who blew out their opponents in game three, and in game four they won a close one. It’s really hard to say which Bucks team and which Hawks team will come to play. I think the series will last seven games, with the home team winning every game of the series. My pick: (A) The Atlanta Hawks.