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Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's On: The Weekend

Part 1:
Conference Championships!
It's conference championship weekend in college cross country.

Flotrack has an XC Conference Central page, as does the coaches' association.

Major conference action follows, in chronological order.  Click on a team for a race preview.

Mountain West Conference
hosted by Wyoming at Jacoby Golf Course
Meet preview show on MountainWest Sports Network at 9 AM Friday (MT)
Meet website
Women: Noon EDT (10 AM local)
Ranked teams: #10 New Mexico
Analysis: New Mexico is the prohibitive favorite. But the location, 7200 feet of elevation at Laramie WY, means literally anything can happen.
Men: 1 PM EDT (11 AM local time)
Ranked teams: #12 New Mexico, #13 BYU 
Analysis: Obviously a two-team race, and a complete toss-up between them. The Lobos are the defending champions, but BYU has won eight out of the last ten. Expect this to be decided by two points or less. The sixth man for each knows he'd better run like hell.

Atlantic Coast Conference
hosted by Boston College at historic Franklin Park
Meet website -- Live results
Men: 10 AM
Ranked teams: #8 Florida State, #14 Duke, #16 NC State, #19 Virginia, #25 North Carolina
Analysis:  I'm calling it for Duke and Bo Waggoner!  This is not an "upset" pick, because I see no reason for FSU's men to be ranked higher than Duke.  The Blue Devils won the Roy Griak Invitational and have stayed out of the spotlight since, leading the poll voters to forget about them.  The meet is deep, with five ranked teams, and that alone will make things very interesting.
Women: 11 AM
Ranked teams: #3 Florida State, #12 Duke, #17 North Carolina, #24 Virginia, #25 Boston College, #28 NC State
Analysis: FSU should win.  Five more ranked teams make t a dogfight for second.

Big East Conference
hosted by Syracuse at Jamesville Beach Park
Meet website -- Live results
Women: 10:30 AM
Ranked teams: #1 Villanova, #5 Georgetown, #8 Syracuse, #13 Providence
Analysis: Villanova is a strong #1 in the national poll and it would be a big surprise if they lost.
Men: 11:15 AM
Ranked teams: #17 Syracuse, #21 Georgetown, #23 Notre Dame, #28 Louisville, #29 Villanova
Analysis: Syracuse is the top-ranked team and has the added advantage of being at home.  But this one looks wide open.

Big XII Conference
hosted by Oklahoma State at OSU Cross Country Course
Meet website
Women: 11 AM EDT (10 AM local)
Ranked teams: #4 Texas Tech, #7 Colorado, #11 Iowa State, #15 Texas, #27 Oklahoma State
Analysis: We'll find out if Colorado has been playing a waiting game, or just not up to the task.  Rarely can you tell with the Buffaloes until championship season arrives.  The Red Raiders are strong favorites to win their third straight title.
Men: Noon EDT (11 AM local time)
Ranked teams: #2 Oklahoma State, #5 Oklahoma, #9 Colorado, #30 Texas
Analysis: Oklahoma State is one of the two favorites for the national title, and it would be a very big upset if they lost. The Sooners are riding a big victory at Pre-Nats, but if Colorado follows their usual late-season improvement curve they may be able to bump Oklahoma for the runner-up spot.

Pacific-10 Conference
hosted by Washington at Jefferson Park
Live pre-race show on Flotrack at 6:30 PM EDT Friday (3:30 PM local time)
Live coverage on Flotrack beginning at 11:30 AM EDT Saturday (8:30 AM local time)
Meet website
Women: 1 PM EDT (10 AM local time)
Ranked teams: #2 Oregon, #6 Arizona, #9 Stanford, #20 Washington, #22 California
Analysis: Oregon is expecting to win. There are two more top-ten teams in the race, so it's not assured.  Washington is a real question mark, as they'll have Christine Babcock back from injury and Mel Lawrence in better shape. This is going to be a wild one.
Men: 11 AM
Ranked teams: #1 Stanford, #3 Oregon, #22 California
Analysis: War.  Stanford is a very good team, likely the best in the nation, led by three standout runners.  An unusual lack of depth in the Pac-10, though, opens the door for the Ducks.  This is because going 1-2-3 in a dual meet--which is what this will more or less be--doesn't provide as much of a points advantage as it does in a big meet.  And if A.J. Acosta can break up that triple-threat of Chris Derrick, Elliot Heath and Jack Riley, it gets much closer.  The weather is predicted to be wet, adding another question mark to the race.  Rest assured that over a thousand Duck fans plus the famous AJ Nation will be going almost literally berserk to get Oregon on top of the podium.

Big Ten Conference
hosted by Wisconsin at the Zimmer Cross Country Course (aka "Field of Dreams")
Tape-delay TV Coverage at 10 AM, November 21 on the Big Ten Network
Meet website
Women: 11:45 AM EDT (10:45 AM local)
Ranked teams: #16 Michigan State, #19 Minnesota, #21 Michigan, #29 Indiana, #30 Iowa
Analysis: There are no outstanding teams and any of four teams could win this. Minnesota has been consistently exceeding expectations all year, so maybe they're the ones to watch. Or maybe their luck will run out.
Men: 12:45 PM EDT (11:45 AM local time)
Ranked teams: #6 Wisconsin, #7 Indiana, #24 Penn State
Analysis: The Badgers are out for revenge. Indiana narrowly beat them at their home meet, the adidas Invitational. Top UW runner Mohammed Ahmed wasn't in top form yet back then, and he's much closer to it now. If the Badgers can pull it off, they'll have 12 straight Big Ten titles.

Southeastern Conference
hosted by South Carolina at Hilton Park
Meet website
Women: 10 AM
Ranked teams: None!
Analysis:  No ranked teams? In the SEC? I didn't think this ever happened in any sport.  The SEC would have nationally-ranked teams in curling.
Men: 11 AM
Ranked teams: #10 Arkansas, #26 Florida, #27 Alabama
Analysis: The Razorbacks should win their umpteenth conference title.  Arkansas coach Chris Bucknam thinks Alabama poses their biggest threat.

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