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.

It’s all on the line this week. After Ashley claimed the 4-3 victory last week, the Overtime standings are once again tied. This is the last installment of Overtime this semester, and the winner this week will be crowned champion. In the title spirit, questions about playoffs and championships will challenge the staffers’ predicting skills.

First Quarter – Will the men’s tennis team make it through the third round in the NCAA tournament? (A) Yes (B) No

Ashley: While earning the berth into the tournament was a feat in itself, the men will have to fight on Friday to make it into the next level of competition. The team will play UW-Whitewater first, and the Blugolds beat them 7-2 earlier this year. Of all the teams the Blugolds could face this weekend, Eau Claire has the best record at 24-6. The Blugolds have also beaten Carleton College – a 19-3 competitor and possible opponent – earlier this year. It’ll be tough, but I think the Blugolds are up to the challenge. My pick: (A) Yes.

Nick: The fact that the men’s tennis team had to rely on an at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament implies that they are somewhat of an underdog. I disagree. The men’s tennis team has played phenomenally this season, and I expect that play to continue in the national tournament. In my five semesters on staff, I’ve covered plenty of sports, and it always seems like one team makes a deep playoff run each semester. The softball team won the national title two years ago, and the women’s cross country team won the national title this fall. I think the men’s tennis team will be the one to make a deep playoff run. My pick: (A) yes.

Second Quarter – Where will the women’s golf team finish in the NCAA tournament? (A) Top five (B) Sixth through 10th (C) 11th through 15th (D) 16th or worse

Ashley: The Blugolds are ranked third in the latest NCAA coaches’ poll going into the championships, and I see the team finishing right around there. The team has been successful all season – from winning the WIAC championship last fall to finishing no worse than third all year, this is a team to watch. That being said, Methodist University (N.C.) has won the event the last 12 years; Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) is also going to be pretty tough, but the Blugolds might give them a run for it. My pick: (A) Top five.

Nick: As I write this, the team has already finished the first day of competition, tying with Gustavus Adolphus for second place. I think this is a reasonable expectation for the team to finish overall – in the top three, but not necessarily first overall. With that said, I fully expect the team to stay in the top five, so I’m afraid I have to agree with Ashley on this one. My pick: (A) Top five.

Third Quarter – Where will the men’s golf team finish in the NCAA tournament? (A) Top 12 (B) 13th through 24th (C) 25th or worse

Ashley: While Eau Claire has been terrific all season, they will be going against 36 other top teams – some of which are simply outstanding. Methodist University – yes, the same school the women’s team is going to have to battle – is top-ranked and took first place in eight of the 10 events in which it competed this year. Rival Stout earned a bid to the event as well, and judging by the way those two teams have swapped finishes all year, I think the Blugolds will finish pretty close to the Blue Devils. With such tough competition, I’m predicting a mid-pack finish. My pick: (B) 13th through 24th.

Nick: After day one of competition, the men are currently in 26th place overall. The men’s golf program is historically strong – the team missed the national tournament only once from 1998-2008, and won the national title in 2001 – but they seem to be rebuilding. The team missed the tournament last year, and this season they’ve performed admirably, but inconsistently. I’d like to be proven wrong on this one, but I’m going to have to predict the worst. My pick: (C) 25th or worse.

Fourth Quarter – Who will win the NBA Western Conference title? (A) Los Angeles Lakers (B) Phoenix Suns

Ashley: While both teams swept their opponents last round, it might be a different story for one of the teams this time. In the regular season, the Lakers beat the Suns three of the four times they met. The Lakers have also won the Western Conference title the last two years. I don’t think they’re going to give it up quite yet. My pick: (A) Los Angeles Lakers.

Nick: I’d love to see the Suns win. I’m sick of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and I’ve always been a Steve Nash fan. The Lakers, however, are playoff proven. Coach Phil Jackson is perhaps the best post-season coach of our generation thanks to his 10 championship rings, and there’s a reason the Lakers have been to the finals two years in a row. While I don’t think this series will be a sweep, I think the Lakers will win in 6 games. My pick: (A) Los Angeles Lakers

Overtime – Who will win the weekend series between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees? (A) Minnesota Twins (B) New York Yankees

Ashley: While the Yankees had a rough patch of games last weekend – they lost three games in a row – don’t be fooled. The team rebounded last night with a 8-0 victory and I think they’ll be looking to make it up with a good series against the Twins. The teams have nearly identical records – they both have 22 wins – but I think the defending World Series champions are going to pick up the series win. My pick: (B) New York Yankees.

Nick: Look at this: I picked a question that wasn’t related to Wisconsin sports! The Yankees are defending World Series champions, and one of the best teams in all of baseball, and their +66 run differential and 21-10 record back that up. The Twins, on the other hand, are having a very good year, too. The team is 22-12 despite the fact that reigning AL MVP and team leader Joe Mauer has missed significant time. I hate the Yankees, and actually kind of like the Twins, so I’m going to go with the local team on this one. My pick: (A) Minnesota Twins.