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NCAA Roundup: UCLA, Nebraska, Florida claim crowns

Samanta Mewis and UCLA won the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2008. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

Nebraska clinched their first Big Ten title in Week 11, despite being picked to finish ninth in the preseason polls, while Texas A&M and Florida split a share of the SEC Championship, their first and 13th, respectively. Meanwhile, the ACC concluded its regular season on Thursday and eight teams immediately proceeded to the tournament semifinals on Sunday in a round which saw all four away sides eliminated. On the Pacific Coast, UCLA cruised to their first Pac-12 title since 2008 with a pair of weekend wins and Stanford, winner of the last four conference championships, stumbled again with their fourth loss of the year.

Virginia (No. 1, 20-0-0, ACC Champions) – The Cavaliers capped their perfect ACC regular season on Thursday, defeating in-state rivals Virginia Tech 2-0, then hosted the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament on Sunday, trouncing Maryland 6-1. If Thursday’s victory over Va Tech didn’t satiate their appetite for turkey, the Cavaliers get another bite on Friday, drawing the Hokies in the ACC semifinal in Cary as Virginia aim to hang on to the ACC tournament trophy they took home last year.

UCLA (No. 2, 16-1-2, 8-0-2 Pac-12) – In her first season in L.A., head coach Amanda Cromwell and the Bruins finally pried the Pac-12 trophy out of Stanford’s hands after Friday’s 3-0 shutout of Oregon State and 2-0 victory over Oregon on Sunday returned the championship to Westwood. UCLA have one final game in their Pac-12 campaign before Selection Monday and a win on Thursday over USC should guarantee a No. 1 seed, ensuring the Bruins will stay in Los Angeles until the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Florida State (No. 3, 15-1-3, ACC Runner-up) – FSU came back from a goal down to win a dramatic ACC season finale over Notre Dame 2-1 in double-overtime, then beat Duke 2-0 in the ACC quarterfinals. FSU will now head to Cary, N.C., to play the semifinal round against the Tar Heels on Friday.

North Carolina (No. 4, 17-3-0, ACC 3rd Place) – A 3-0 thumping of arch-rivals Duke on Halloween in Chapel Hill marked the end of the Tar Heels’ ACC regular season and UNC advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament with a slim 1-0 defeat at home to Boston College. North Carolina get a chance to avenge their early conference defeat at the hands of FSU in Friday’s semifinal round.

Virginia Tech (No. 5, 15-3-2, ACC 4th Place) – Lost 0-2 away in Charlottesville to Virginia, but rebounded with a 2-1 double-overtime win against Notre Dame on Sunday. For their reward, the Hokies now get the honor of facing the best team in the country for the second time in eight days, meeting Virginia in the conference semifinal on Friday.

Florida (No. 6, 15-3-1, SEC Champions)A 5-1 victory in Athens over Georgia wrapped up the Gators’ 13th conference title, splitting the prize with Texas A&M. Florida will enter the SEC Tournament on Wednesday as the No. 1 seed and will face the winner of Monday’s first round match between Missouri and Arkansas.

Stanford (No. 7, 13-4-1, 6-3-1 Pac-12) – It’s been a season of record-ending performances this season for the Cardinal and Stanford saw another string of consecutive victories snapped after Sunday’s 0-1 loss at Washington State marked the first time in five years the team had lost away in conference play. After splitting their tour of the Northwest corner, winning Thursday in a 1-0 victory over Washington before Sunday’s loss in Pullman, the Cardinal still sit in third place overall going into the final match week of the season and a victory on Wednesday over Cal would do the Cardinal’s spirits a world of good heading into the NCAA Tournament next week.

Michigan (No. 8, 14-2-1, Big Ten Runner-up) – Saturday Michigan shutout conference rival Ohio State 2-0 for their eighth-straight win. The defense and freshman keeper Taylor Bucklin have yet to allow more than one goal against all season as Michigan roll into Champaign, Ill., to play Iowa in the second game of the Big Ten Tournament’s quarterfinal round on Wednesday.

Santa Clara (No. 9, 13-3-1, 7-0 WCC) – The Broncos beat Loyola Marymount 2-0 on Friday and shellacked Pepperdine 9-2 on Sunday, improbably scoring all nine after going down by two goals in the first half, to make up their game in-hand and move into first place ahead of BYU and Portland . A nationally-televised match on Thursday in Portland could ultimately decide the conference champion, then Santa Clara have one final game against Gonzaga on Sunday to conclude the WCC season.

South Carolina (No. 10, 15-2-2, SEC 3rd Place) – Came back from a goal down to beat Kentucky 2-1 on Thursday in Columbia. South Carolina have a bye in the opening round of the SEC Tournament and on Wednesday will hope to punish No. 6-seed Georgia for a season-opening loss.

Portland (No. 11, 14-2-1, 6-1 WCC) – Portland picked up a win in their lone game of the week, defeating St. Mary’s 3-1 on the road on Thursday, to rebound from last week’s heartbreaking loss to BYU and host the aforementioned showdown with WCC top-dog Santa Clara this coming Thursday. Saturday the Pilots conclude their season-ending homestand with a match against lowly San Francisco.

Texas Tech (No. 12, 16-1-2, Big 12 Runner-up) – A 1-0 victory at home over Texas marked the end of the Red Raiders’ Big 12 campaign and sees the team continue an unbeaten run stretching back to their September 1st loss to Long Beach State. TCU awaits TTU in the conference tourney on Wednesday.

Denver (No. 13, 16-1-1, Summit League Champions) – Taking a week off heading into this weekend’s Summit League Tournament, the Pioneers look to continue their inaugural-season destruction of their Summit foes with a semifinal game against host Fort Wayne, a team they beat 4-0 last month.

Marquette (No. 14, 16-3-0, Big East Champions) – The Golden Eagles ended their Big East regular season undefeated as they beat Butler 2-1 in Milwaukee. Marquette will stay at home to host the Big East Conference Tournament, playing in the semifinal on Friday against the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between St. John’s and Butler.

Georgetown (No. 15, 14-1-2, Big East Runner-up) – A 2-0 win on Saturday against Seton Hall coupled with DePaul’s loss to St. John’s earned the Hoyas a second-place finish in the Big East, behind Marquette. Georgetown will sit out the opening round of the conference tournament, meeting the winner of the Tuesday’s fixture between DePaul and Villanova.

West Virginia (No. 16, 13-3-2, Big 12 Champions) – The Mountaineers were inactive this week following last weekend’s loss to Texas Tech. West Virginia head to Kansas City as the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday and open the tournament against eighth-seeded Kansas.

UCF (No. 17, 16-2-2, AAC Champions) – The Knights are hosting the AAC Tournament in Orlando and defeated SMU 3-0 in the quarterfinal round on Sunday. Friday, Central Florida will play a semifinal match up against in-state rival South Florida with the winner playing the victor of the Memphis v Rutgers match for the tournament trophy.

Nebraska (No. 18, 15-3-1, Big Ten Champions) – A 3-1 home win over Indiana on Friday locked up the conference championship for Nebraska, completing a remarkable run in only their second season in the Big Ten. Top-seeded going into Wednesday’s Big Ten quarterfinal, the ‘Huskers will face No. 8 seed Minnesota.

Notre Dame (No. 19, 11-7-1, ACC 5th Place) – The Fighting Irish went down fighting, but lost both their ACC season-ender against Florida State and their ACC quarterfinal match against Virginia Tech in double-overtime by 1-2 margins to conclude their inaugural season in the conference.

BYU (No. 20, 12-4-1, 6-1 WCC) – A 1-0 victory on Friday over San Diego did just enough to keep the Cougars relevant in the WCC title race. They’ll conclude their conference season next weekend with a pair of home matches against Pacific and St. Mary’s, two teams in the bottom half of the WCC table.

Cal (No. 21, 10-4-5, 3-4-3 Pac-12) – Stanford wasn’t the only Pac-12 team the Cougars claimed this weekend as Cal were pegged with a 1-3 loss at Washington State on Friday. Sunday, the Golden Bears beat Washington on the road 1-0 for the team’s first win over a seven-game stretch. Cal’s poor run of form has them all the way down in ninth-place in the Pac-12 standings with the final game of the season against Stanford in Palo Alto.

Penn State (No. 22, 13-5-1, Big Ten 3rd Place) – PSU’s conference season ended in East Lansing on Friday with a 3-0 win over Michigan State. The Nittany Lions go into the conference tourney as the No. 3 seed and face No. 6 Wisconsin on Wednesday in the quarterfinal.

Wake Forest (No. 23, 10-6-2, ACC 9th Place) – Suffered a shocking 1-2 loss to NC State on Thursday, dropping the Demon Deacons out of ACC postseason contention. Wake’s RPI should be enough to get them into the NCAA bracket, but their confidence can’t exactly be sky-high after dropping their season finale to a team that had won only one other conference match this season.

Texas A&M (No. 24, 14-4-1, SEC 2nd Place) – A narrow 3-2 win in College Station over former SEC front-runners LSU earned the Aggies SEC co-champion honors in only their second season in the conference. Bypassing the opening round of the SEC Tournament, A&M will play the winner of Monday’s match between Auburn and LSU.

Ole Miss (No. 25, 14-4-2, SEC 4th Place) – A 5-1 pounding of bottom-of-the-totem-pole Mississippi State boosted the Rebels to 4th in the SEC to conclude the season. Ole Miss will have a bye in the first round of the SEC tourney and face No. 5-seeded Kentucky on Wednesday.


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