NCAA Men's Regionals: Predictions for teams that could break into the top five
11 May 2024
by Sean Melia of AmateurGolf.com

Chattanooga, Clemson, Ohio State, and Baylor look to reach Nationals.
Chattanooga, Clemson, Ohio State, and Baylor look to reach Nationals.

The Men’s NCAA Regionals will be held from May 13 to 15 at six venues across the country. After the 54-hole event, five teams will advance from each venue to the National Championship. The lowest individual who is not on one of the advancing teams will also play at La Costa.

Every year there are teams outside the top 5 seeds that play great golf bump out one of the top seeds and punch their ticket. 

Let’s examine each region and identify some teams that could surprise the field and steal a top-five spot, as well as who they might replace.

2024 NCAA Div. 1 Men's Regionals Preview and How to Watch

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Region

Over the course of the spring, Duke has been hovering around the fifth-place spot in all its events. Their best finish was third place in the Stitch Intercollegiate, and they recently placed sixth in the ACC Championship. They are the fifth seed in the region. Ethan Evans, William Love, and Luke Sample all have some experience, and Bryan Kim is the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion. 

Ohio State feels like a very possible team to jump into the top five. They are the sixth seed and have some serious talent. Neal Shipley is riding the high of winning Low Amateur at The Masters and Maxwell Moldovan has played in two U.S. Opens. They’ve had an up-and-down spring, but it’s a senior-laden team. Jackson Chandler will be a pivotal performer if the Buckeyes punch their ticket. 

A possible sleeper in the region is Lipscomb. The 11 seed won the ASUN Conference by 17 shots and co-medalists Ford Goldasich and Will Holan would need awesome weeks and some support, but they could be in the hunt for a spot late in the tournament.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina Region

Alabama, the two-seed in the North Carolina Regional, has had an inconsistent spring. It’s hard to blame the team for the highs and lows after they lost their best player, Nick Dunlap, in February. They are talented; fifth-year seniors Canon Claycomb and Thomas Ponder provide leadership, and sophomore Jonathan Griz has some serious horsepower. He won the Linger Longer but has struggled since. 

While picking a six-seed to reach nationals isn’t going too far out on a limb, Baylor has been playing some good golf lately. They finished fourth in the Big 12 Championship behind the trio of Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. They also won the Aggie Invitational in April. 

Going a bit farther down the seeding, Clemson could be an interesting team to watch. They are the 10 seed, but when travel comes into play, they aren’t going too far to tee it up at Chapel Hill.  They won the Battle at Briars Creek in February. An 11th-place finish in the Goodwin might seem pedestrian, but it’s a superb field of 31 teams. 

West Lafayette, Indiana 

This might be the most interesting region because of where the teams are coming from. The top four teams are Vanderbilt, U. of Arizona, Florida, and New Mexico. Purdue rounds out the top 5 and has a nice advantage as the host school. 

Purdue seems like the most vulnerable of these five teams, but that home course advantage should help them stay in the top five. Arizona is the pick here. Why? Their Pac-12 performance was alarming. They have two wins this spring, but their last two events haven’t been great. They finished fifth in the Western Intercollegiate and then ninth in the Pac-12 Championship. The travel and style of golf might throw the Wildcats off their game. 

A bit of midwestern comfort could come in handy for the Indiana Hoosiers. They have two wins in their last three events - The Robert Kepler and the Hoosier Intercollegiate. They also finished fourth in the Seminole Intercollegiate. They are the 8 seed in the region. 

San Diego, California

Seeds 2-5 should be on alert this week in San Diego. Washington, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and California could find themselves on the outside looking in come Wednesday afternoon. Will all four miss out on the National Championship? No. However, it does feel like two of them could miss out.

Since finishing 14th in the Cabo Collegiate, Oklahoma State has been hovering in the second-to the sixth-place window all spring. They didn’t win a tournament, and their worst finish to close the season was on the West Coast in Oregon. They finished sixth. The travel could catch up with OSU.

The host team doesn’t make it through as often as one might think. They hover around 50%. That means the nine seed, San Diego, could possibly climb the board. Considering seeds 6-8 are North Florida, Chattanooga, and South Florida are also traveling. San Diego won the WCC Conference. It feels like they have a strong home course advantage, given where the other teams are coming from. 

Chattanooga might also have something to say down the stretch on Wednesday. With two wins this year, they have a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde to them. They also finished 20th in the Prestige and 11th in the Mizzou Tiger Intercollegiate. They finished second in the SoCon Conference championship, two shots behind East Tennessee State.

Stanford, California Regional

The four-seed Texas A&M Aggies have had a yo-yo spring. Nearly every other result was strong, while the other event was mediocre. They finished tenth at the Southern Highlands, won the Louisiana Classics, were seventh at the Valspar, were second at the Aggie Invitational, and were seventh in the SEC Championship stroke play. Heading west to Stanford might be a challenge for Texas A&M.

The two seed in the region, Ole Miss, is coming off a disappointing ninth place in the SEC. In the three tournaments leading up to the SEC, they had lost to just two teams. Stanford is fortunate to have a home game here, as they have some firepower and should clinch a spot. 

It feels like UCLA might be the team to move into the top 5. The six seed isn’t traveling too far, and the West Coast golf course will be comfortable for the Bruins. Aside from a runner-up in the Thunderbird, UCLA’s spring has been lackluster. However, their knowledge of the course and the easy travel should give the Bruins a leg up on either Ole Miss or Texas A&M.

Austin, Texas Regional

This seems like the most stable group of top 5 seeds. All of them come in playing very good golf. Texas might have been the team under the microscope, but the home course advantage and the momentum of a Big 12 Championship make them a near lock to advance. 

Top-seed Tennessee is coming off back-to-back wins. Second-seed Arkansas hasn’t finished outside the top 4 in any tournament this spring. Georgia, the four seed, has finished 10th once, and that was in February. A fifth place in the Calusa Cup and a fourth in the SEC Championship puts them on the watch list because Wake Forest has played nicely heading to Texas, also. 

Of the teams seeded 6-12, Notre Dame and UNC-Greensboro come in playing well. The Fighting Irish didn’t impress in the ACC Tournament, but leading up to that event, they lost to four total teams in four events, including a win at the Johnnie O. The seven-seed UNC-Greenboro is an intriguing team to watch. In seven events, they’ve finished outside the top five just once and won the Dorado Beach in February. 

This is the region that could most likely go chalk and see the top five seeds reach La Costa.

Check back for daily recaps following each day of the NCAA Regionals.

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