FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas opens the NCAA Tournament Saturday when it takes on Michigan at1 p.m., central time,in the opening round of the Columbus Regional at the Stickney Tennis Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Arkansas and Michigan will be the second of two matches Saturday. Top-seed Ohio State takes on fourth-seed Butler at10 a.m.
The Razorbacks (17-10) are making their fifth appearance in six years in the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas is the region’s No. 2 seed, and is ranked 25th in the nation. The Hogs finished the regular season third in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division with a record of 6-5.
Michigan (13-11) is the region’s No. 3 seed after finishing fourth in the Big Ten. The Wolverines, ranked 39th nationally, lost to the region’s host and top-seed, Ohio State, in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament in April. Michigan is led by sophomore Matko Maravich, a first-team All-Big Ten selection and the nation’s 43rd-ranked player. Maravich also teams with Brian Hung to form the nation’s 12th-ranked doubles pair.
Arkansas enters the regional with four ranked singles players. Seniors Adrians Zguns (24-10), Matt Roberts (27-9) and Rohan Gajjar (21-8) are ranked 17th, 74th and 118th, respectively. Freshman Blake Strode (26-6) also checks in the rankings at No. 121.
Earlier in the week, Zguns was selected to participate in the NCAA Individual Draw Singles Championships May 22-29 in Palo Alto, Calif. It is the second time in Zguns’ career he will play in the Singles Championships.
Razorback Coach Robert Cox, who has 246 career wins at Arkansas, will use Zguns in the top spot this weekend. Zguns has played in the No. 1 slot 19 of 27 matches this year. After Zguns will be Gajjar at No. 2, Roberts at No. 3, Strode at No. 4, sophomore Colin Mascall at No. 5 and freshman Austin King at No. 6. Sophomores Michael Jung and Jimmy Khougassian are also possibilities for the Hogs. Cox will debut three new doubles teams in the NCAA Tournament. At No. 1, Gajjar will team with Strode, while Roberts and Mascall will man the No. 2 spot, and Zguns and King forming the No. 3 pair. All three doubles teams will be playing their first match together.
The Razorbacks and Wolverines have met twice on the tennis courts, with the series even at 1-1. Arkansas won the schools’ only meeting in postseason play, knocking off the Wolverines in the 1980 NCAA Tournament, 5-0, in Athens, Ga.
The winner of the UA-UM contest will advance to face the winner of Saturday morning’s Butler-Ohio St. matchup Sunday at 1 p.m. Butler (14-9) is the champion of the Horizon League, while Ohio St. (25-1) is the champion of the Big Ten.
Arkansas has faced Ohio St. twice in its history, with the Buckeyes winning both, including a 4-0 decision in the opening round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky. The Razorbacks have never faced Butler in tennis.
Saturday’s Arkansas-Michigan match is scheduled to begin at noon, central. Fans can log on to www.hogwired.com to follow live stats and updates from Columbus.