2013 NCAA Wrestling Tournament Preview

Andrew Carpenean-US PRESSWIRE

One last breakdown...

I had planned to write even more to preview the NCAA Tournament, but... time got away from me. So you'll have to make do with the previews I've already posted and this, which contains some tables I spent way too much time on and some predictions for All-Americans at every weight.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_125_medium

1) #2 Jesse Delgado, Illinois
2) #1 Alan Waters, Missouri
3) #3 Matt McDonough, Iowa
4) #5 Jarrod Garnett, Virginia Tech
5) #4 Nico Megaludis, Penn State
6) #7 Nathan Kraisser, North Carolina
7) #6 Nahshon Garrett, Cornell
8) #8 Matt Snyder, Virginia

It pains me to pick McD there, but I just don't see how he gets by Delgado if they meet in the semis. Nothing I've seen from McD in his two matches against Delgado this year gives me any confidence that he could beat him. To get to 3rd, I have McD beating Nico and Garnett in the consolation round and, honestly, I'm not even sure he can do that.

NOTE: In order to pick all eight All-Americans at this weight (and every other weight), I went ahead and picked every match at each weight. In doing so, I am almost certainly very, very wrong with many of these picks and almost certainly did not pick nearly enough upsets. But it was an honest attempt, at least -- we'll see how I do

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_133_medium

1) #1 Logan Stieber, Ohio State
2) #2 Tony Ramos, Iowa
3) #3 Tyler Graff, Wisconsin
4) #5 Chris Dardanes, Minnesota
5) #4 A.J. Schopp, Edinboro
6) #7 Jon Morrison, Oklahoma State
7) #8 Cody Brewer, Oklahoma
8) #9 Levi Wolfensperger, UNI

I was very tempted to pick Ramos over Stieber and I continue to believe that he will beat Stieber at some point, but for now Stieber just appears to have Tony's number. Like 125, my picks here were very chalky, although I feel better about it here than I did at that weight -- mostly because there aren't many interesting unranked guys at 133.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_141_medium

1) #1 Hunter Stieber, Ohio State
2) #3 Michael Mangrum, Oregon State
3) #2 Kendric Maple, Oklahoma
4) #4 Mitchell Port, Edinboro
5) #7 Mark Ballweg, Iowa
6) #5 Evan Henderson, North Carolina
7) #8 Nick Dardanes, Minnesota
8) UN Steven Keith, Harvard

5th might be a little high, but my picks didn't involve Ballweg beating any of the top 141ers to get there (except perhaps Henderson in the 5th place match) -- I actually have him losing to Maple (in the quarters) and Port (in the consos match to determine who wrestles for 3rd and who wrestles for 5th). The draw just seems to break pretty nicely for him, frankly.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_149_medium

1) #1 Jordan Oliver, Oklahoma State
2) #6 Dylan Ness, Minnesota
3) #2 Jason Chamberlain, Boise State
4) #3 Donnie Vinson, Binghamton
5) #9 Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska
6) #4 Cole VonOhlen, Air Force
7) #7 Scott Sakaguchi, Oregon State
8) #10 Ivan Lopouchanski, Purdue

Before I went ahead and picked every match, I had imagined VonOhlen not making the podium, but he has a pretty friendly draw. It still wouldn't shock me to see him flame out early on, though, or lose to someone he "shouldn't." I'm not hugely confident in Loopy sneaking onto the podium, but again as I picked every match, it just sort of fell into place that way.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_157_medium

1) #2 Derek St. John, Iowa
2) #1 Jason Welch, Northwestern
3) #5 James Fleming, Clarion
4) #8 Dylan Alton, Penn State
5) #3 Joey Napoli, Lehigh
6) #7 Jesse Dong, Virginia Tech
7) #4 James Green, Nebraska
8) UN Josh Demas, Ohio State

My Demas appreciation may be a touch excessive, given that he does have 10 losses on the year and the fact that his close matches against DSJ hasn't necessarily translated into a lot of success against everyone else. But to hell with it: he's my sleeper pick to make the podium and I'm sticking with it. (I also like #10 Pena, but as I filled out the bracket, I couldn't find a way to get him in the top-8 with my results.) The DSJ pick involves him beating guys he's had success against in the past (Napoli, Welch), so I feel OK about that. And I have the Donger making the podium because -- c'mon. It's the Donger!

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_165_medium

1) #2 David Taylor, Penn State
2) #1 Kyle Dake, Cornell
3) #4 Tyler Caldwell, Oklahoma State
4) #3 Peter Yates, Virginia Tech
5) #6 Bubby Graham, Oklahoma
6) #9 Josh Veltre, Bloomburg
7) #7 Conrad Polz, Illinois
8) #10 Nick Moore, Iowa

Taylor over Dake? Yep. I went there. The NCAA Tournament has been set up in a way to potentially crown Dake as one of the very best the sport has ever seen (although he might rank there anyway, win or lose on Saturday night) and cap off his amazing career with one final win... but I think Taylor could (and will!) spoil that ending. He's obviously a very (very very) talented wrestler in his own right and his loss to Dake earlier this year was due in part to a sketchy refereeing decision... so, yeah, I think he takes the rematch. My picks have Moore on the podium without beating any high seeds except #5 Monk, but I don't trust Monk all that much. His gaudy record (33-2) is very much built on an unimpressive schedule.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_174_medium

1) #1 Chris Perry, Oklahoma State
2) #6 Logan Storley, Minnesota
3) #3 Mike Evans, Iowa
4) #8 Nick Heflin, Ohio State
5) #2 Matt Brown, Penn State
6) #4 Robert Kokesh, Nebraska
7) #7 Jordan Blanton, Illinois
8) #10 Dan Yates, Michigan

Seven Big Ten guys at this weight might be excessive -- but it also might not be, given the Big Ten's strength at this weight. I couldn't pull the trigger on Evans over Storley, but even if Evans does lose in the quarters, the bracket could set up very nicely for him to make the 3rd place match -- as it stands, he could see Blanton and Kokesh in the consos before that, two guys he's had a great deal of success against.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_184_medium

1) #1 Ed Ruth, Penn State
2) #3 Robert Hamlin, Lehigh
3) #4 Steve Bosak, Cornell
4) #5 Kevin Steinhaus, Minnesota
5) #2 Ben Bennett, Central Michigan
6) #6 Ryan Loder, UNI
7) #12 Ethen Lofthouse, Iowa
8) #8 Josh Ihnen

I don't feel good about that Hamlin pick at all, given his potentially injured status, but I made it under the assumption that his health was pretty good. I went back-and-forth on a lot of the matches involving Bosak, Steinhaus, Bennett, and Hamlin. Picking Lofthouse on the podium didn't involve him beating anyone ridiculous -- the top ranked guy I have him defeating is #7 Sheptock, which seems plausible.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_197_medium

1) #1 Dustin Kilgore, Kent State
2) #2 Quentin Wright, Penn State
3) #3 Matt Wilps, Pitt
4) #5 Taylor Meeks, Oregon State
5) #7 Nathan Schiedel, Binghamton
6) UN Christian Boley, Maryland
7) #6 Kyven Gadson, Iowa State
8) UN Andrew Campolattano, Ohio State

Boley is good for an unseeded guy and I think he can ride all the way to the podium. The Camp pick is a little bit more of a stretch, given his inconsistency, but he certainly has the ability. As for Burak, I think he has a chance to go on a mini-winning streak in the consos if he can his first one against Bennett or Gonzalez -- either of those two guys might be the trickiest opponent he sees for a few rounds down there. That said, 0-2 is also a very real possibility for him.

2013_ncaa_tournament_preview_-_285_medium

1) #2 Tony Nelson, Minnesota
2) #4 Chad Hanke, Oregon State
3) #3 Alan Gelogaev, Oklahoma State
4) #1 Dom Bradley, Missouri
5) #6 Bobby Telford, Iowa
6) #5 Mike McMullan, Northwestern
7) #10 Jarod Trice, Central Michigan
8) UN Jeremy Johnson, Ohio

Bradley falls in my picks because, dammit, I needed a few more upsets and, hell, if you wrestle a bunch of 2-1 or 3-2 matches, eventually one is going to go against you. I have Bobby getting to 5th, but the only seeded guys I have him beating are #11 Felix, #10 Trice, and #5 McMullan -- not too much of a stretch, I think.

Assuming I did the math right (a big if), before any bonus points were factored in, these would be the team standings for Iowa, Penn State, Oklahoma State, and Minnesota, based on my picks.

1) Iowa -- 96
2) Minnesota -- 93
3) Penn State -- 92.5
4) Oklahoma State -- 83.5

Now, again, those points are just advancement and placement points -- not bonus points. So even if things went exactly as I projected (ha!), Penn State would still only need to score 4 more bonus points than Iowa to ultimately top us in the standings (well, and 2 more bonus points than Minnesota, also). Given their ability to get bonus points... and given Iowa's ability to get bonus points... well, I'd still favor them to end up on top of the final standings.

My picks have Iowa with eight All-Americans, which on the face of it seems a bit too positive. But again, when I broke it down match-by-match, it didn't really seem that insane or homerish -- I didn't pick Iowa guys to upset higher-seeded wrestlers very often, for instance. But by the same token, a lot of my predictions are also reliant on Iowa guys not getting upset themselves. And that's certainly no sure thing, given what we've seen out of guys like Ballweg, Moore, Lofthouse, and Telford at times this season.

So yeah: my predictions will be wrong. They might even be laughably wrong. There will be upsets that I didn't see coming. (Probably a lot of upsets I didn't see coming.) But, on the other hand, I feel slightly better about Iowa's chances of contending after doing this exercise. Like I said: none of the results for Iowa are anything outlandish. And if Carver Magic moves a little bit west and there are some upsets that break in Iowa's favor... hey, who knows. It's a long shot, but the next two days are the two best days of the year to be an underdog, right?

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