The University of Illinois Fighting Illini Men's Golf team solidified a place in the final 8, as they finished stroke play at 1155 (+3). This will seed the Illini as the top overall team in the final 8 match play bracket. Here's what the overall bracket looks like:
"How does this whole thing work?"
Fair question, as the whole NCAA Golf Championship can be a bit confusing. So allow me to break it down for you, starting with the team competition...
To start, 6 sites host a 54-hole (3 round) stroke play event to determine the qualifying teams for the NCAA Championships. The 5 teams with the lowest individual combined scores from each site earn a spot in the final tournament, the NCAA Championship, creating a 30 team event (with me so far?). From there, those 30 teams face off in a 72-hole (4 round) stroke play event to seed the Top 8 overall teams based on the lowest combined score*.
*- It should be noted that half of the field (15 teams) is cut after 54 holes based on lowest combined team score, so the final day of play only consists of 15 teams fighting for 8 spots
Once the final 8 teams are determined, they are seeded based on how they finished in the 72-hole (4 round) event. Those seeds are bracketed into an 8 team match-play event, that is held over two days (two rounds the first day, and the final round the second day). Any further questions can be sent to @brepp310 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"But what about the individual championship? Didn't our guy win that a few years ago?"
As a matter of fact, they did! Scott Langley ('10) and Thomas Pieters ('12) both won the NCAA Individual Golf Championship as Illini, and both are now playing professional golf. In order to determine the individual champion, the scores taken from the 72-holes (4 rounds) of stroke play are added together (lowest overall score wins). It must be noted that the best individual players from each regional event have the opportunity to play for a championship, regardless of their team's standing in the overall competition, so the field is WIDE open. This year, junior Thomas Detry finished the highest for the Illini with a T-3 (-6), only 2 shots away from the eventual champion.
"So how did we do this year?"
Good question. After the stroke play round, the Illini were able to claim the #1 seed and will face the #8 seed UCLA Bruins in the quarterfinal round. Each player will face an opponent in a best-of-five round. The team that wins three matches or more will advance to the semifinal round this afternoon, and await the winner of the #4 Texas Longhorns and the #5 USC Trojans.
"How can I watch/track the Illini?"
Another good question! Not only can you track the team during today's play by clicking this conveniently placed hyperlink, but you can also catch the coverage on Golf Channel today starting at 9:30am CT.