It's time for Bill Straub and the Nebraska Lady Huskers to win their fourth NCAA Championship.
What: The NCAA Women's Bowling Championship
Who: The University of Nebraska vs. Vanderbilt University
Where: Super Bowl Lanes, Canton, Michigan
Time and Channel: 7:00pm Saturday Night on ESPNU
Tournament Bracket here.
Format: Baker style, seven game match. The first team to get to 4.0 wins will win the title.
The Baker format is simple to understand. There are five bowlers that will start the match. Each bowler is scheduled to bowl 2 frames. Bowler #1 will bowl frames 1 and 6, bowler #2 bowl frames 2 and 7 and so on. You can substitute a bowler on your bench for another bowler in your lineup, but they must stay in for the remainder of that game (you start your lineup new every game).
Each team stays on the same lane for a game, alternating lanes after each game. If the match gets to game 7, the higher seed (Nebraska) will have choice of what lane they want to bowl on for the game.
If the teams finish in a tie at the end of a game, they are given .5 of a win. Hence, you have to get to 4.0 wins to win.
How Nebraska got to the finals: First in team qualifying with a 5/2 win/loss record in 5 person qualifying on Thursday with a 7210 team pinfall total. They defeated Central Missouri, Maryland Eastern Shore and Arkansas State in match play, winning each match 4 games to 1.
How Vanderbilt got to the finals: Seventh in team qualifying with a 2/5 win/loss record in 5 person qualifying on Thursday with a 6709 team pinfall total. They defeated Fairleigh-Dickinson 4 games to 2, and Arkansas State and Maryland Eastern Shore to make the finals, the last 2 matches 4 games to 3.
The lane conditions are right here. They are bowling on Brunswick Pro Anvillane, which has some friction.
What to watch for: Obviously you can make the case that Nebraska has bowled the best in this tournament, and they deserve to win. However, one true caveat of bowling a match on TV for a title is that it can be a total crap shoot. There are so many more things that come into play during the TV show (commercial breaks, lane lights, a huge scoreboard at the end of the lanes lit up, a simple noise when the whole center is quiet) that you don't have to deal with.
In that regards, Nebraska will not be the most prepared team in this final, as Vanderbilt has been to the final as much as Nebraska has recently, with their last TV appearance in 2011 when Maryland Eastern Shore won their first title.
The team that does the little things right will win this match. Things like filling frames with marks instead of open frames, getting good count on spares and such, good decisions when changing lanes and seeing transition on the lanes.
In the women's game, they simply can't overpower the lane condition, especially at 42 feet. However, Nebraska's team approach in this has been simply to keep the ball in the 1-3 pocket and keeping a clean sheet on the scoreboard. Because they tend to have similar games, the ability to line up off of each other have given them the chance to strike a lot (hence seeing Husker Bowlers Kristi Mickelson, Liz Kuhklin and Elise Bolton in the top 5 of individual averages from Thursday.)
Can they do it? I think Nebraska is the favorite. However, with only 7 games to win 4, you do need some luck. Lets see how Nebraska gets the job done and goes after their fourth NCAA title and ninth total National Championship.
GO BIG RED.