A little NCAA wrestling bracketology...
The NCAA Touranment isn't until next week (Thursday, March 21-Saturday, March 23), but we can still try to project the seeds for all ten weights.
The actual seeds (and brackets) will be released later tonight.
So let's give it a try...
Alan Waters (Missouri) is going to be the top seed. He's 29-0 and won the MAC Championship last weekend. Even if his competition was often less than stellar, the NCAA loves undefeated records, so he'll be #1. The Big Ten's trio of top guys will probably be next and after the Big Ten Tournament, there's a pretty clear order there too: Delgado, McDonough, Megaludis. The question mark is whether they're 2-4 or if Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech) can edge into the picture there. He's 27-2, with his lone losses being to fellow top-10 wrestler Nathan Kraisser of UNC (though he also has two wins over Kraisser this year) and fringe top-20 wrestler Nick Soto (Chattanooga). Most importantly, he has a win over Delgado. My hunch is that he'll be at the back of the line, behind the Big Ten trio, but I also won't be surprised if he moves ahead of one or more of them, too.
In terms of McD, an ideal draw would be one that didn't involve having to beat both Delgado and Waters, but that's a lost cause at this point. Waters will be the #1 seed and Delgado should be at, worse, the #3 seed (if Garnett is able to jump him and take the #2 seed on the back of his h2h win and ACC crown). At this point, McD's path to another title likely involves a lot of upsets of other top-seeded 125ers.
My guess at the top-8 here:
1) Alan Waters, Missouri (29-0, MAC champion)
2) Jesse Delgado, Illinois (22-3, B1G champion)
3) Matt McDonough, Iowa (20-3, B1G runner-up)
4) Nico Megaludis, Penn State (24-3, B1G 3rd)
5) Jarrod Garnett, Virginia Tech (27-2, ACC champion)
6) Nahshon Garrett, Cornell (37-4, EIWA champion)
7) Nathan Kraisser, North Carolina (31-5, ACC runner-up)
8) Matthew Snyder, Virginia (20-7, ACC 3rd)
This weight looks pretty cut-and-dried, frankly. Stieber will get the top seed. Tony will get the #2 seed. Graff will get the #3 seed. And Schopp will probably get the #4. Things get a little messy after that, but honestly this weight is such a two-man race that it doesn't seem worth it to spend too much energy wondering about the guys seeded 5-8.
In terms of Tony, I'd much rather see Schopp at the #3 seed than Graff. Tony beat Schopp 8-0 and squeaked by Graff, 3-1. Unfortunately, Graff beat Schopp earlier this year, 6-0, so it would be quite a shock if he was seeded below Schopp here.
My guess at the top-8 at this weight:
1) Logan Stieber, Ohio State (22-0, B1G champion)
2) Tony Ramos, Iowa (26-1, B1G runner-up)
3) Tyler Graff, Wisconsin (28-4, B1G 3rd)
4) A.J. Schopp, Edinboro (29-3, EWL champion)
5) Chris Dardanes, Minnesota (17-5, B1G 4th)
6) Jon Morrison, Oklahoma State (25-6, BXII champion)
7) Nathan McCormick, Missouri (31-4, MAC champion)
8) Cody Brewer, Oklahoma (19-5, BXII runner-up)
9) Levi Wolfensperger, UNI (23-8, MAC runner-up)
This weight was remarkably upset-free over the course of the conference tournaments; it probably helps that few conferences sport more than one top-10 wrestler at this weight. So ranking this weight seems pretty straightforward.
As far as Ballweg goes, I'm not sure how much his seed matters. He's going to be a fringe top-10 guy and he should be OK until the quarters, when he's matched up with a higher-seeded opponent (although the round of 16 could also be tricky for Ballweg). At that point, he'll probably lose and he'll need to do his damage in the consolation bracket.
Here's my guess at the top-8 seeds at this weight:
1) Kendric Maple, Oklahoma (24-0, BXII champion)
2) Hunter Stieber, Ohio State (31-0, B1G champion)
3) Michael Mangrum, Oregon State (36-4, P12 champion)
4) Mitchell Port, Edinboro (30-3, EWL champion)
5) Evan Henderson, North Carolina (33-6, ACC champion)
6) Ugi Khishignyam, The Citadel (38-4, SoCon champion)
7) Richard Durso, Franklin & Marshall (11-2, EIWA champion)
8) Mike Nevinger, Cornell (41-9, EIWA 3rd)
As Iowa fans, this weight is dead to us, but it could produce some pretty entertaining wrestling at the NCAA Tournament. Okie State's Jordan Oliver is the no-brainer #1 seed, but after that things start to get a little more interesting. Ness is the wildcard here, frankly. He won the B1G this year and was the NCAA runner-up last year, but he missed a lot of action this year due to injury and he had a bad loss to Illinois' Caleb Ervin this year. VonOhlen injury defaulted out of the finals in the WWC tournament; I'm not sure how that will impact his seed.
Here's my guess at the top-8 seeds at this weight:
1) Jordan Oliver, Oklahoma State (32-0, BXII champion)
2) Jason Chamberlain, Boise State (26-1, P12 champion)
3) Donnie Vinson, Binghamton (29-1, CAA champion)
4) Steve Santos, Columbia (30-1, EIWA champion)
5) Cole VonOhlen, Air Force (25-3, WWC runner-up)
6) Dylan Ness, Minnesota (14-3, B1G champion)
7) Nick Brascetta, Virginia Tech (27-4, ACC champion)
8) Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska (22-5, B1G runner-up)
This is a messy weight, thanks to some key upsets at the conference tournaments (most notably, James Green beating Derek St. John, but Dylan Alton also entered ranked in the top-5 nationally and finished 6th at the B1G Tournament).
My guess at the top-8 seeds at this weight:
1) Jason Welch, Northwestern (30-1, B1G champion)
2) James Green, Nebraska (20-4, B1G runner-up)
3) Derek St. John, Iowa (26-2, B1G 3rd place)
4) Joey Napoli, Lehigh (21-2, EIWA champion)
5) James Fleming, Clarion (30-3, EWL runner-up; inj def)
6) Jesse Dong, Virginia Tech (23-3, ACC champion)
7) Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State (30-2, BXII champion)
8) Walter Peppelman, Harvard (22-5, EIWA runner-up)
That would certainly not be my preferred bracket for St. John, given his struggles with Green. I would much prefer to see him go against Napoli and then Welch. ALTHOUGH... this projected bracket would set up the DSJ-DONG match we've all wanted to see for years...
This weight is straightforward at the top: Dake, then Taylor. And, honestly, it probably doesn't really matter how things are seeded beyond that because they're so far ahead of the rest of the field at this weight.
From an Iowa standpoint, Nick Moore's loss to Cody Yohn in the 3rd place match last weekend might prove to be very costly. The NCAA seeds 12 wrestlers at each weight (I'm only going to 8 because parsing between the wrestlers at 9-12 is too hard; parsing through the guys at 5-8 is difficult enough) and Moore was probably right on the cusp of cracking the top-12. That's relevant because if you're not seeded 1-12, you can be drawn against anyone in the first round, meaning that he could draw a very unfavorable R1 opponent like Dake or Taylor.
1) Kyle Dake, Cornell (36-0, EIWA champion)
2) David Taylor, Penn State (26-1, B1G champion)
3) Peter Yates, Virginia Tech (30-1, ACC champion)
4) Tyler Caldwell, Oklahoma State (30-4, BXII champion)
5) Steven Monk, North Dakota State (33-2, WWC champion)
6) Bubby Graham, Oklahoma (20-4, BXII runner-up)
7) Nick Sulzer, Virginia (24-8, ACC runner-up)
8) Conrad Polz, Illinois (22-6, B1G runner-up)
Much like 157, this is another weight that's tricky to seed, thanks to upsets at the conference tournaments. The Big Ten ruled this division all season, but chaos reigned at the Big Ten Tournament, with the #5 seed (Matt Brown) winning it all, the #3 seed (Robert Kokesh) crashing out before the semifinals (though he did bounce back to finish 3rd anyway), and the #1 seed (Logan Storley) tumbling all the way to 7th place. Storley had an excellent resume and the inside track to the #1 seed at this event, but now? Who knows. The biggest beneficiary of all the upheaval in the Big Ten figures to be Maryland's Josh Asper, who went right on winning while the Big Ten tore itself apart.
As far as Evans is concerned, I don't know that there is an ideal path to a title here for The 'Stache. Any path is going to involve a lot of tough matches against a lot of very good wrestlers.
Here's my best guess at how the top-8 seeds for this weight might look:
1) Chris Perry, Oklahoma State (31-2, BXII champion)
2) Josh Asper, Maryland (19-1, ACC champion)
3) Logan Storley, Minnesota (24-3, B1G 7th)
4) Matt Brown, Penn State (24-4, B1G champion)
5) Mike Evans, Iowa (19-4, B1G runner-up)
6) Robert Kokesh, Nebraska (33-3, B1G 3rd)
7) Jordan Blanton, Illinois (21-10, B1G 4th)
8) Nick Heflin, Ohio State (15-5, B1G 5th)
Yes, the B1G really owns this weight.
This weight divides neatly into tiers. On the first tier, there's Ed Ruth, an army of one. Below him, there's Bennett, Bosak, and Steinhaus (plus Hamlin, if he's healthy). And below them, there's everyone else. The wildcard here is Hamlin, who was in line to grab a top-3 seed before he suffered an injury in the EIWA Tournament and had to default out of his last three matches.
As for Iowa, Ethen Lofthouse finds himself in much the same situation at this weight as Nick Moore does at 165. Did he do enough to crack get a seed at this weight, or will he be one of the unseeded masses? The latter would not be preferable.
1) Ed Ruth, Penn State (28-0, B1G champion)
2) Ben Bennett, Central Michigan (28-0, MAC champion)
3) Steve Bosak, Cornell (20-2, EIWA champion)
4) Kevin Steinhaus, Minnesota (26-2, B1G runner-up)
5) Robert Hamlin, Lehigh (22-5, EIWA 6th; inj def)
6) Ryan Loder, UNI (25-4, MAC runner-up)
7) Jimmy Sheptock, Maryland (35-3, ACC champion)
8) Chris Chionuma, Oklahoma State (27-8, BXII champion)
Kilgore, the champion here in 2011, should again be the #1 seed after rolling to a 39-0 record this season. Quentin Wright should be an easy choice as the #2 seed. After that things get a bit trickier. And, yes, that is Micah Burak, the older brother of Iowa's own Nathan Burak, showing up at #8 there.
As for Nathan Burak, he has no hope of snatching a seed here, unlike Moore or Lofthouse. It's going to be the luck of the draw for him; let's hope it smiles on him.
Here's my guess at the top-8 seeds for each weight.
1) Dustin Kilgore, Kent State (39-0, MAC champion)
2) Quentin Wright, Penn State (27-0, B1G champion)
3) Matt Wilps, Pittsburgh (19-2, EWL champion)
4) Alfonso Hernandez, Wyoming (31-1, WCC champion)
5) Taylor Meeks, Oregon State (33-5, P12 champion)
6) Kyven Gadson, Iowa State (21-2, BXII champion)
7) Nathan Schiedel, Binghamton (26-2, CAA runner-up)
8) Micah Burak, Penn (16-2, EIWA champion)
The heavyweight division works out pretty nicely at the top, thanks to the events of the National Duals tournament a few weeks ago, where Gelogaev beat Bradley and Nelson beat Gelogaev. That sets up the top-3 pretty nicely, although things do get a bit muddled after that.
There's no particularly ideal pathway for Telford here; until he proves that he can beat one of the top-3 guys at this weight, there's always going to be a ceiling on how high he can climb here.
1) Tony Nelson, Minnesota (28-1, B1G champion)
2) Alan Gelogaev, Oklahoma State (24-3, BXII champion)
3) Dom Bradley, Missouri (35-1, MAC champion)
4) Chad Hanke, Oregon State (33-3, P12 champion)
5) Mike McMullan, Northwestern (18-3, B1G runner-up)
6) Bobby Telford, Iowa (18-5, B1G 3rd)
7) Jarod Trice, Central Michigan (22-4, MAC runner-up)
8) Zac Thomusseit, Pittsburgh (24-2, EWL champion)
Again, the official seeds and brackets are released later tonight. I'll have a full post up about those, of course.
And a big shout-out to commenter twade70 for his assistance with these seeding projections. Thanks!