(EDIT: This is also the open thread for the tournament today.)
The NWCA National Duals finally announced seeds and and brackets earlier this week for this weekend's event. The location of the finals will be announced at the end of the weekend as well as the bracket for the semifinals and finals -- there's no indication, for instance, that the Ames regional winner will face the Piscataway regional winner in the semifinals. My guess is that they'll seed the finals based on the four remaining teams and then use that to set up the matchups.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no TV coverage of this event planned. According to this link, there will be a live video stream available, as well as a live webcast from The Open Mat. AM 800-KXIC and Hawkeye All-Access will also have Grace and Ironside calling the action. Competition starts at 11am tomorrow, although Iowa won't wrestle until 1pm. (If they win, they'll wrestle again at 3pm.) I imagine Andy Hamitlon will have a liveblog on Hawk Central.
Ames, IA regional (Feb. 12)
1) Iowa (#5)
2) Oregon State (#16)
3) Iowa State
4) Virginia Tech (#23)
First round: ISU vs. Wisconsin, Va Tech v. UNI; Iowa and Oregon State receive byes
Semifinals: Iowa vs. Va Tech/UNI, Oregon State vs. ISU/Wisconsin
On paper, Iowa certainly got the easiest regional of the four. There are only three ranked teams here, and only one (Iowa) is ranked in the top ten. The inclusion of Wisconsin, one of the worst teams in the nation this year, points out the flaws of using an invitation-based system rather than a merit-based system, though. Literally any other Big Ten team would have been more worthy of a spot here than the Badgers. Oh well. Iowa is the decided favorite and should win this regional.
Piscataway, NJ regional (Feb. 11)
1) Minnesota (#4)
2) Michigan (#11)
3) Missouri (#13)
4) Kent State (#14)
6) Cal Poly
First round: Missouri v. Cal Poly, Kent State v. Rutgers; Minnesota and Michigan receive byes
Semifinals: Minnesota v. Kent State/Rutgers, Michigan v. Missouri/Cal Poly
Minnesota earns the top seed here and will likely battle it out with Michigan or Missouri for the available semifinal spot. They beat Michigan in a dual earlier this season, 23-15, and it's difficult to see either Michigan or Missouri having the top-to-bottom depth to upset the Gophers.
Ithaca, NY regional (Feb. 12)
1) Cornell (#3)
2) Illinois (#7)
3) Oklahoma (#12)
4) Central Michigan (#25)
6) American University
First round: Oklahoma v. American, Central Michigan v. Purdue; Cornell and Illinois receive byes
Semifinals: Cornell v. Central Michigan/Purdue, Illinois v. Oklahoma/American
Cornell is the top seed here and their top challengers appear to be Illinois and Oklahoma. They haven't wrestled either team yet this season. Oklahoma likely doesn't have the overall depth to topple either team, but Cornell-Illinois could be a very intriguing battle. Edge to Cornell slightly, but this appears to be the regional most likely to see one of the top seeds lose.
Stillwater, OK regional (Feb. 12)
1) Oklahoma State (#1)
2) Nebraska (#8)
3) Ohio State (#6)
4) Wyoming (#10)
6) Boise State
First round: Ohio State v. Boise State, Wyoming v. Chattanooga; Oklahoma State and Nebraska receive byes
Semifinals: Oklahoma State v. Wyoming/Chattanooga, Nebraska v. Ohio State/Boise State
So much for getting any perks as the top seed. Oklahoma State is the top-ranked (dual meet) team in the land, but all that gets them is the toughest of the four regionals, with four top-ten teams. The Pokes beat Wyoming earlier in the year, 24-17, but didn't face Nebraska or Ohio State. Nebraska owns a pair of close wins over Wyoming (19-15) and Ohio State (18-16), which is probably why they earned the 2-seed despite Ohio State's higher overall ranking. It's hard to see Oklahoma State getting knocked off with their strong top-to-bottom depth, but the final three meets of this regional (the semis and the finals) should be very close.
* * *
Aside from team superiority, though, the National Duals will be very useful in setting up seeds at the upcoming conference and NCAA Tournaments. Here's a weight-by-weight look at things.
125: 12 of InterMat's top 20 are competing here. If Missouri and Minnesota face each other, we could see #2 Zach Sanders (Minnesota) vs. #3 Alan Waters (Missouri). McD doesn't figure to get too challenged in the Ames regional, but he could see Sanders, #5 Frank Perrelli (Cornell), or #7 Jesse Delgado (Illinois) in the semis or finals. A match with Delgado would, of course, provide the opportunity for McD to avenge his lone loss this season.
133: This has been a topsy-turvy weight class this season and National Duals could further shake it up. 14 of InterMat's top 20 are at Nationals Duals and we could see a lot of one-on-one match-ups between those guys over the next few weeks. Ramos should face top-ranked Devin Carter in the second round of the Ames regional. Okie State's Jordan Oliver could face Ohio State's Logan Stieber in the finals of the Stillwater regional and the winner of that match could face Ramos in the semis or finals next week. Illinois' B.J. Futrell and Minnesota's Chris Dardanes could also get cracks at those top-four guys if their teams makes it to the semis/finals, too.
141: 13 of InterMat's top 20 are here. The top potential showdowns appear to be Marion (#6) vs. Mike Mangrum (#4) of Oregon State, Hunter Stieber (#5) of Ohio State vs. Jake Sueflohn (#9) of Nebraska, and Kellen Russell (#1) of Michigan vs. Nick Dardanes (#8) of Minnesota. The semifinal and final showdowns aren't quite as exciting, unless there are some upsets and Michigan or Ohio State get through; assuming they lose the best potential match appears to be Marion v. Dardanes.
149: 11 of InterMat's top 20 are at National Duals, but just one of the top five. The best matchups here might be Eric Grajales (#6) of Michigan vs. Dylan Ness (#10) of Minnesota and Ness vs. Jamal Parks (#2) of Oklahoma State.
157: Only 9 of InterMat's top 20 are in action at National Duals, but there are a few potentially intriguing matches in play like Kyle Dake (#1) of Cornell vs. Ganbayar Sanjaa (#3) of American and Dake vs. DSJ (#5) in the semis or finals, as well as DSJ vs. James Green (#7) of Nebraska.
165: 11 of InterMat's top 20 are in action at National Duals, with the potential for some very interesting matches. This weekend we could get Mike Evans (#8) vs. Peter Yates (#7) of Virginia Tech and Evans vs. Andrew Sorenson (#4) of Iowa State (and, for that matter, we could also get Yates vs. Sorenson), while #11 Ben Jordan (of Wisconsin) will face at least Soresnon. We could also see Shane Onufer (#3) of Wyoming vs. Robert Kokesh (#6) of Nebraska. The semifinal/final matchups aren't quite so enticing; the best possible matchups there look like Evans against Conrad Polz (#12) of Illinois, Dan Yates (#13) of Michigan, or Cody Yohn (#14) of Minnesota.
174: 11 of InterMat's top 20 are at National Duals, with a few potentially intriguing matchups on tap. Chris Perry (#3) of Okie State could face Nick Heflin (#7) of Ohio State, while Ethen Lofthouse (#9) could face Chris Spangler (#5) of Iowa State. Ryan DesRoches (#4) of Cal Poly could take on Logan Storley (#6) of Minnesota or Justin Zeerip #8) of Minnesota and Zeerip and Storley are likely to face each other as well. If the favorites make it to the semis and finals, there are a few different combinations of Perry, Lofthouse, and Storley we could see -- and if Illinois upsets Cornell in that regional, #11 Jordan Blanton could face one or more of those guys, too.
184: 10 of InterMat's top 20 are in action here, and there's a strong possibility of some very meaningful matchups taking place. Joe LeBlanc (#1) of Wyoming could face Josh Ihnen (#8) of Nebraska, while Ben Bennett (#4) of Central Michigan should take on Steve Bosak (#5) of Cornell, too. We could also see C.J. Magrum (#11) of Ohio State against either LeBlanc or Ihnen, too. And if Iowa advances to the finals, we could see Grant Gambrall against Kevin Steinhaus (#7) of Minnesota.
197: 11 of InterMat's top 20 are participating in National Duals, but most of those guys are from the bottom half of the rankings. The best possible matches this weekend might be Sonny Yohn (#6) of Minnesota vs. Brent Haynes (#7) of Missouri and Blake Rosholt (#8) of Okie State vs. Alfonso Hernandez (#9) of Wyoming. If Minnesota and Cornell advance to next weekend, we could see Yohn vs. Cam Simaz (#1) of Cornell.
HWT: 10 of InterMat's top 20 heavyweights are at National Duals, but the way they're distributed across the regions may make it difficult to see too many h2h showdowns. The best matchups this weekend might be Alan Gelogaev (#2) of Okie State vs. Tucker Lane (#9) of Nebraska and Tony Nelson (#4) of Minnesota vs. Ben Apland (#10) of Michigan. Bobby Telford or Blake Rasing could see Clayton Jack (#5) of Oregon State and Matt Gibson (#12) of Iowa State. Next weekend could be more interesting, though, with a potential Nelson-Gelogaev match looming.
* * *
I'm not going to bother previewing Iowa-UNI for a few reasons. One, I don't think UNI will beat Virginia Tech in their first-round matchup. Two, I see little reason to expect a result different than what we saw at the dual earlier this season when Iowa dominated them, 38-4. There would be two particularly intriguing matchups in an Iowa-UNI bout: Ramos vs. #11 Joe Colon (Colon wasn't healthy when Iowa and UNI wrestled in December) and Gambrall vs. #6 Ryan Loder (although it's highly unlikely we'd even get that match since Gambrall apparently isn't cleared to compete at 184 yet).
#5 Iowa (11-3) v. #23 Virginia Tech (7-4)
125: #1 Matt McDonough (JR, 23-1) v. UN Ty Mitch (RS FR, 10-3) or UN Erik Spjut (SO, 25-9)
This would be slightly more interesting if McD was facing Jarod Garnett (a potential All-America at 125 who's redshirting this year), although he did pin him in 4:02 at Midlands. McD also faced Spjut at Midlands and beat him 11-5. McD is wrestling much, much better now.
McD MAJ DEC Spjut/Mitch (Iowa, 4-0)
133: #4 Tony Ramos (SO, 22-2) v. #1 Devin Carter (SO, 27-1)
And here's the highlight match of the meet and possibly the entire weekend. Carter beat Ramos 6-4 in SV in the Midlands finals and his size and defense presents a formidable challenge for Tony. Has Tony figured out a way to beat him since December? Call me a homer, but I think he has.
Ramos DEC Carter (Iowa, 7-0)
141: #6 Montell Marion (SR, 20-2) v. #19 Zach Neibert (SO, 16-7)
As always, the question becomes: do we get good Montell or bad Montell? Let's hope for the former. For all our hand-wringing, Marion still has just two losses, each to a very solid opponent (Maple and Stieber).
Marion DEC Neibert (Iowa, 10-0)
149: UN Michael Kelly (RS FR, 13-8) v. UN Nick Brascetta (FR, 4-2)
Kelly has generally looked pretty good of late, even if that hasn't always translated into wins. Hard to pick him without seeing him actually win a few more matches, though.
Brascetta DEC Kelly (Iowa, 10-3)
157: #5 Derek St. John (SO, 12-1) v. UN Cameron Hurd (JR, 11-10) or Matt Stephens (FR, 4-7)
DSJ's return last weekend (and the fact that he didn't aggravate his knee injury) suggests that he'll be handed the baton here as well. But DSJ or Moore, it shouldn't matter here -- either guy should be able to beat Hurd or Stephens. This, of course, should have been our long-awaited match with an Iowa wrestler facing JESSE DONG, but alas the Donger was injured earlier in the season and is taking a redshirt. Perhaps next year...
DSJ DEC Hurd/Stephens (Iowa, 13-3)
165: #8 Mike Evans (RS FR, 20-4) v. #7 Peter Yates (JR, 18-4)
The second-best match of the dual and another big-time test for Evans. He's been wrestling great of late, pinning a pair of ranked wrestlers in back-to-back matches, but Yates is a formidable threat in his own right. He's the sort of guy Evans needs to beat if he wants to be an All-America. I believe in the power of the 'stache.
Evans DEC Yates (Iowa, 16-3)
174: #9 Ethen Lofthouse (SO, 16-6) v. UN Chris Moon (SO, 15-11)
Lofthouse has been up and down this year, but he's generally been fine against overmatched opponents, so he shouldn't have too much difficulty here.
Lofthouse DEC Moon (Iowa, 19-3)
184: UN Vinnie Wagner (SR, 7-8) v. UN John Dickson (JR, 14-15)
Wagner should have one last hurrah this weekend (it sounds like Gambrall will be cleared to wrestle at this weight next weekend), and he should have a great shot at getting a win here.
Wagner DEC Dickson (Iowa, 22-3)
197: UN Tomas Lira (SO, 11-8) or UN Grant Gambrall (JR, 7-7) v. UN Nick Vetterlein (SO, 22-8) or Angelo Malvestuto (RS FR, 19-9)
Do I have any faith in Iowa winning a match at 197 right now? No, I do not.
Vetterlein/Malvestuto DEC Lira/Gambrall (Iowa, 22-6)
HWT: #14 Bobby Telford (RS FR, 19-4) or UN Blake Rasing (SR, 13-6) v. UN Chris Penny (JR, 11-5)
Telford and Rasing have had their ups and downs and heavyweight bouts are often difficult to call, but this should be an Iowa win.
Telford/Rasing DEC Penny (Iowa, 25-6)
This is an awkward-looking matchup for Iowa, mainly because two of Iowa's top wrestlers (Ramos and Evans) aren't heavily favored. This might be a dual where the rest of the team has to pick up the slack. There are also several fairly close matchups here, so it wouldn't shock me if the final result was closer than my prediction of 25-6.
#5 Iowa (11-3) v. UN Iowa State (2-12)
125: #1 Matt McDonough (JR, 23-1) v. #12 Ryak Finch (RS FR, 12-6)
McD beat Finch 6-0 at the dual in December. Finch is a solid wrestler a fringe All-America candidate, but McD has also been wrestling much better of late; I think he gets bonus points here.
McD MAJ DEC Finch (Iowa, 4-0)
133: #4 Tony Ramos (SO, 22-2) v. UN Shayden Terukina (FR, 4-6) or UN RJ Hallman (RS FR, 6-13)
Ramos pinned the Flyin' Hawaiian (Terukina) in 4:32 in their meeting earlier this year and I see little reason to expect anything other than another dominant Ramos win here if Terukina again gets the nod. Hallman hasn't been any better, either. Ramos may not get the pin here, but he should get bonus points easily.
Ramos FALL Terukina/Hallman (Iowa, 10-0)
141: #6 Montell Marion (SR, 20-2) v. #17 Luke Goettl (RS FR, 10-9)
Marion majored Goettl earlier this year, 17-5. Goettl's claim to fame this year is handing former-#1 Kendric Maple his lone loss of the season, but taken in the context of Goettl's entire season, that result seems more like a fluke than a harbinger of things to come. Goettl isn't a bad wrestler and if "bad Montell" shows up here, Goettl could absolutely win. But I think Marion takes care of business.
Marion DEC Goettl (Iowa, 13-0)
149: UN Michael Kelly (RS FR, 13-8) v. UN Joe Cozart (RS FR, 1-10)
Virtually everyone has been beating Cozart this year. Kelly's lack of wins at 149 makes it tough to pick him... but he really ought to be able to beat Cozart.
Kelly DEC Cozart (Iowa, 16-0)
157: #5 Derek St. John (SO, 12-1) v. UN Michael Moreno (RS FR, 8-12)
DSJ pinned Moreno in 4:38 in their earlier meeting this season. Moreno has a lousy record and has lost several matches this season, but he's also been a tough out lately, losing several close decisions. This will probably be a closer match than we'd care to see, but ultimately DSJ's superior skill should give him the edge.
DSJ DEC Moreno (Iowa, 19-0)
165: #8 Mike Evans (RS FR, 20-4) v. #4 Andrew Sorenson (SR, 23-2)
Sorenson narrowly beat Evans by decision earlier this season, 4-3. Since then, of course, Evans has improved considerably, highlighted by two straight pins over ranked wrestlers (including one, Wisconsin's Ben Jordan, who handed Sorenson one of his only losses on the season) heading into this event. But Sorenson is no slouch and Evans will need to wrestle his very best to win here. I think he can do it, but for now I'll stick with the guy who won the original match.
Sorenson DEC Evans (Iowa, 19-3)
174: #9 Ethen Lofthouse (SO, 16-6) v.#5 Chris Spangler (JR, 7-2)
Spangler beat Lofthouse, 8-6, in their earlier encounter. Spangler missed a good portion of the season with an injury, but is apparently cleared to compete now. Lofthouse has had a very up and down season, but very few of the ups have happened away from the friendly confines of CHA. He can certainly beat Spangler, especially if Spangler is rusty after his injury lay-off, but here again I'll stick with the guy who won the first encounter.
Spangler DEC Lofthouse (Iowa, 19-6)
184: UN Vinnie Wagner (SR, 7-8) v. #15 Boaz Beard (SO, 7-4)
Beard beat Wagner, 10-9, in a very narrow decision most remembered for some clock chicanery at the end of the match. Wagner's gotten an A for effort in virtually all of his matches this season, but unfortunately he's struggled to convert that effort into actual wins. He came achingly close to beating Beard last time (or at least sending the match to SV), but again I'll stick with my approach of picking the guy who won the first meeting.
Beard DEC Wagner (Iowa, 19-9)
197: UN Tomas Lira (SO, 11-8) or UN Grant Gambrall (JR, 7-7) v. UN Jerome Ward (SR, 0-0)
Ward has missed basically the entire season with an injury, but the word is that he's now healthy and cleared to compete. It's not clear yet if Iowa will send out Lira here or an undersized Gambrall, but really this outcome depends on Ward's health, not who Iowa sends out. If Ward is still banged up, Iowa has a chance at the upset. On the other hand, if he's healthy, he should win easily.
Ward DEC Lira/Gambrall (Iowa, 19-12)
HWT: #14 Bobby Telford (RS FR, 19-4) or UN Blake Rasing (SR, 13-6) v.#12 Matt Gibson (JR, 18-7)
Telford beat Gibson rather convincingly in December, 9-3. Since then, of course, the wheels have kind of come off for Bobby and he struggled through a disappointing January, losing several matches before ultimately getting benched. Gibson has looked strong of late, with several convincing decision wins and even a string of major decisions in his recent results, so Telford or Rasing will need to be very sharp to win here. Again, though, I'll stick with the original winner.
Telford/Rasing DEC (Iowa, 22-12)
Iowa has a big advantage in the lower weights against Iowa State and they would do well to exploit that as much as possible and get as many bonus points as they can from those matches, because everything after 149 is pretty uncertain. There are several toss-up matches in that stretch and while they probably won't all go Iowa State's way... they could. Let's not forget that several toss-up matches went Ohio State's way in their dual with Iowa, which is how they managed to pull off the upset. Iowa should beat Iowa State if they meet again... but it's by no means a lock.
#5 Iowa (11-3) v. #18 Oregon State (9-2)
125: #1 Matt McDonough (JR, 23-1) v. UN Pat Rollins (RS FR, 22-11)
Rollins is unranked for a reason and his 12 losses on the season includes several lopsided beatdowns from highly ranked 125ers (Alan Waters, Nico Megaludis, Trent Sprenkle). Not much reason to expect different from the best 125er in the country.
McD MAJ DEC Rollins (Iowa, 4-0)
133: #4 Tony Ramos (SO, 22-2) v. UN Garrett Drucker (SR, 18-6) or UN James Roberts (RS FR, 13-8)
Drucker is a solid 1333er, but Tony's only lost to Carter and Stieber this year, two of the top five guys at this weight. He shouldn't have too much difficulty with Drucker (or Roberts, for that matter).
Ramos MAJ DEC Drucker/Roberts (Iowa, 8-0)
141: #6 Montell Marion (SR, 20-2) v. #4 Mike Mangrum (JR, 30-2)
Here's where things get interesting. Mangrum has a gaudy record and his only two losses are to an elite 141er, Boris Novachkov, but he also hasn't faced that many elite 141ers -- he hasn't wrestled Marion, Maple, Stieber, or Kendric Maple yet this year. This should be a very close match and I'll lean Mangrum just slightly.
Mangrum DEC Marion (Iowa, 8-3)
149: UN Michael Kelly (RS FR, 13-8) v.#16 Scott Sakaguchi (SO, 29-5)
Sakaguchi is very solid. Kelly is very scrappy. Sorry, Mike.
Sakaguchi DEC Kelly (Iowa, 8-6)
157: #5 Derek St. John (SO, 12-1) v. #18 RJ Pena(SO, 23-7)
As usual with these DSJ predictions, it really comes down to his health. If he's in shape and sharp, he should win this match fairly easily. If he's not, this could be a dogfight. I'll still side with DSJ by a hair.
DSJ DEC Pena (Iowa, 11-6)
165: #8 Mike Evans (RS FR, 20-4) v. UN Joe Latham (RS FR, 1-9)
Poor, poor Latham. I wouldn't expect The 'Stache to have any mercy if he gets a chance to take on Latham.
Evans FALL Latham (Iowa, 17-6)
174: #9 Ethen Lofthouse (SO, 16-6) v. UN Cody Weishoff (JR, 13-13)
This appears to be the rare dual where Iowa has an advantage in the upper weights. Lofthouse has generally done very well against lower-ranked opponents, so I expect him to do well here.
Lofthouse MAJ DEC Weishoff (Iowa, 21-6)
184: UN Vinnie Wagner (SR, 7-8) v. UN Ty Vinson (JR, 17-13)
A bit of a toss-up match, but I like Wagner to edge this one.
Wagner DEC Vinson (Iowa, 24-6)
197: UN Tomas Lira (SO, 11-8) or UN Grant Gambrall (JR, 7-7) v. #17 Taylor Meeks (RS FR, 17-6)
See earlier comments re: Iowa at 197. It's just a bad scene there, man.
Meeks DEC Lira/Gambrall (Iowa, 24-9)
HWT: #14 Bobby Telford (RS FR, 19-4) or UN Blake Rasing (SR, 13-6) v.#5 Clayton Jack (SR, 30-1)
Jack's lone loss this year was to Minnesota's Tony Nelson. I haven't seen anything from Telford or Rasing lately that suggests they can pull the upset here.
Jack DEC Telford/Rasing (Iowa, 24-12)
This meet looks fairly straightforward. Oregon State will be favored at HWT, 197, and 149. 141 and 184 look like toss-ups. And Iowa should be favored in every other match, often heavily. They should have a much greater ability to get bonus points as well. Should we face Oregon State in the finals, it looks like we might finally be able to get that OSU monkey off our back this year.