THE BLOGGER ROUNDTABLE: NCAA WRESTLING TOURNAMENT CHATTER

Just dudes. Talkin' wrestlin'

I pulled together a bunch of blog bros to chat about the NCAA Tournament -- JtotheP (@jtothemfp) from Black Shoe Diaries, Dan Vest (@_VestDJ_) from Land Grant Holy Land, and our old friend oldocho (aka @maxwasserman), a champion of all things Cornell.  We had fun.  I hope you have fun reading it.

125

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: The biggest question about Clark has less to do with his talent (which is considerable) or his draw (which is difficult, but not impossible); it has everything to do with his mental game and his ability to handle the cut down to 125 over multiple days. He's struggled to rebound from losses earlier this year and physically hasn't looked the same on the second day of multi-day tournaments -- will those be problems for him again this weekend? Iowa needs Clark to be at his best in this tournament because they're relying on him to get big points -- even if he drops into the consolation bracket.

JP: Pretty good. As good as the past two years? I'll say Nahshon will prevent him from the finals this year. Nico's great at learning and adjusting, so there's still a lot to reasonably hope for, but...3rd will be disappointing, but anything worse will be disastrous.

DAN: Nicky Roberts has exceeded expectations this season. For a guy who convincingly lost his wrestle-off to Nathan Tomasello, he has put together an impressive season that culminated in a sixth place finish at big tens and a NCAA berth. That being said, when he's faced top competition, he hasn't shown enough for me to believe he has a realistic shot at the podium. He should win a match or two in the consis, though.

MAX: Nahshon Garrett is Cornell's best hope for a national champion this year. He's 30-1 this year including 2 wins over near-certain semifinal opponent Megaludis. However, that one loss was to likely finals opponent and 1 seed Jesse Delgado, and it wasn't a close loss either. I'm less disappointed that Megaludis ended up on Garrett's side and more that Mega didn't end up on Delgado's side, thereby decreasing the likelihood that Delgado gets taken out before the finals. I will say that last season, Garrett went into NCAAs carrying one loss to Matt McDonough and two to Alan Waters, and Nahshon ended up beating both of them en route to a 3rd place finish as a freshman. He's shown the ability to adapt and perform on the big stage, and I think he's certainly the favorite for the title. But if he comes up short, it'll likely be Cornell's first year without a national champion since 2007.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: My homer pick is Delgado-Clark in the quarterfinals to see if Clark can get over that particular hump this year, but my non-homer pick is seeing Dylan Peters in the semifinals on Friday night. He's kind of quietly had a dynamite redshirt freshman season and I think he'll make the semis -- and give Delgado or Clark all they can handle. Last year Clark beat Peters 14-10 at the UNI Open, so there could be some big-time fireworks when they meet.

JP: Quarterfinal between Nahshon and AU's David Terao, who might actually be as quick as Nahshon. Probably not nearly as strong, but he's really well-coached and has improved through the season, including a very narrow 2-1 loss to Nahshon in the EIWA finals a week ago. Runner-up is R1 Nathan Kraisser vs probably-over-seeded Josh Martinez of Air Force.

DAN: n/a

MAX: Delgado-Clark on Friday morning. (FYI Garrett is 3-0 against Terao this year, 4-0 all time)

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: I'm high on Dylan Peters, but a #5 seed isn't really under the radar... so give me Nebraska's Tim Lambert. He's got a tough draw in the Round of 32 (against my guy Peters), but I think he'll make some noise in the consolation bracket and sneak onto the podium.

JP: I'm going with Terao again. He's a 10-seed, so if that's not far enough under the radar, look for OkSt's 14-seed Eddie Klimara to battle back through the consis after Nico bumps him in R2.

DAN: n/a

MAX: I'll agree with Terao. Just hope he doesn't do THAT well, you know.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: Am I cashing in half of my homer chips at the first weight? Damn right I am! I think Clark solves the Delgado riddle in the quarters (i.e., he actually finishes a takedown this time), beats Peters in the semis and faces Garrett in the finals... where he loses a tough match. I think this is Garrett's year.

JP: Unless Cory Clark's got something big up his sleeve, I don't see Delgado getting bumped before the finals. Nahshon over Delgado.

DAN: I picked against Delgado at nationals last year. I picked against him again at Big Tens. I'm done. Until someone knocks him off in a big tournament, I'm going with him. Delgado over Nico in the finals something like 5-3.

MAX: I believe in Garrett over Delgado

133

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: Tony finally got the "can't win a title" monkey off his back with the win over Tyler Graff in the Big Ten finals, but I don't think he'll be any less hungry for an NCAA title -- that's the real prize he's coveted since he got to Iowa. This year hasn't been the coronation for him that we might we might get after Logan Stieber moved up to 141 -- Joe Colon proved that he's a whole lot more than a bad-ass ‘stache and A.J. Schopp is pretty good out east -- but I'm still on #TeamTony. I think having the Big Ten title will end up freeing him a bit -- he's seemed really tense in tournaments the last few years and I have to think that part of that is the pressure he felt to get to the top of the podium. I also think he's got a solid draw and I think he's privately licking his chops at the chance to avenge his two losses this year, to Schopp and Colon.

JP: Not too good. Gulibon's got the barrel-chested Morrison in R1 and the consis will be no picnic in this gauntlet of a weight. I'll say he wins 2 consi matches based on tournament memory alone, and finishes Round of 16.

DAN: Johnni has a shot at making the podium if he wrestles a good tournament, but it won't be easy. He proved that he can hang with the best when he won the CKLV tournament, defeating Colon and Brewer along the way, but has struggled to keep his offense consistent througout the season. I'll have more on Johnni below.

MAX: I was honestly surprised Mark Grey got seeded at all. He was highly touted coming in this year, but he's fallen well short of those expectations. It also seems that he has some of the same problems that plagued his brother (former Cornell All-American and current Cornell Assistant Coach Mike Grey) of being unable to ride well, but Mark hasn't really shown the ability to score from neutral either yet. (It's possible injuries may be a factor, though.) He doesn't have any good wins and has a couple of losses to unseeded EIWA guys, so I was surprised that he ended up seeded at all. I'm expecting him to go 2-2, but even winning his first match against Rosario Bruno is far from guaranteed.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: There are a few too many guys at 133 that are content to slow matches to a crawl and do nothing (I'm lookin' at you, Tyler Graff and Mason Beckman), but two guys that aren't that way are Ramos and Colon. I'd love to see them tussle in the finals on Saturday night. Beyond that, I want to see Quiroga wrestle Schopp -- Quiroga isn't afraid to try lots of weird shit and he'll take it to Schopp.

JP: Hooboy, where do I start? 3 of the 4 quarterfinals should be amazing. I think Quiroga's pulling it all together here his last run and A.J. Schopp could be in trouble. Beckman-Ramos II should be good. I'll pass on Morrison-Graff, thanks, but Joe Colon vs. the winner of the Big Ten's Thorn vs. DiJulius should be fun as well.

DAN: AJ Schopp versus Cashe Quiroga in the quarterfinals. The Boilermaker has been on quite a run the last few weeks and I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull off an upset.

MAX: Ramos-Beckman.

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

JP: Man. I think this weight goes almost all chalk. But, back to the wall, I'll go with the winner of Cornell's #15 Mark Grey & Michigan's Rossi Bruno to upset Schopp.

ROSS: I'm with JP -- I really think this is a pretty chalk-y weight. But if I gotta pick someone... I'll go with Mango -- dude is a two-time All-American, so he might be able to make some noise this weekend.

DAN: Johnni DiJulius. Wait, wait. Before you call me a homer, hear me out. Johnni has wrestled two incredibly close matches with his second-round opponent, David Thorn. Say he beats Thorn this time, that sets up a quarterfinal matchup with Joe Colon. DiJulius already has one win over Colon this season, a second is certainly a possibility. That would put Johnni in the semifinals and secure at worst a fifth-place finish.

MAX: I only just realized from Dan's post that DiJulius's first name is spelled that way. What is it with Ohio State wrestlers and weird J names? Like, "J". You can't call yourself "J" (unless you're Will Smith). You gotta throw some other letters in there. Also DiJulius makes me think of Orange Julius. And speaking of citrus, Ryan Mango is my choice.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: It's tough to beat Tyler Graff three times in one season, but I think Joe Colon will get the job done there, while Ramos will avenge his earlier loss to Schopp in the other semi. As for the winner? C'mon, you think I'm betting against Tony now? Heck no.

JP: It's gotta be Ramos-Colon redubbed for the finals, and there's no way Tony gets horsed like he did at Midlands. He's got it all peaking now, and his first B1G title was just a precursor to the whole enchilada. Couldn't happen to a more deserving wrestler.

DAN: Ramos over Colon. Tony is too good to finish his career without a title.

MAX: Vamanos Ramos. He'll get revenge over Colon.

141

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: Jeva had a rocky end to the season, so it's a good thing he gets an easy first round match. Wait, he gets to wrestle a guy who's already beaten him twice in the last month? Good times! Dziewa is probably the biggest x-factor for this Iowa team and he got a nasty draw -- Dutton (who's beaten him twice) and, if he manages to win that match, probably the returned (and resurgent) Devin Carter in the second round. Jeva's gonna have to make his hay in the consolation rounds.

JP: I'm still really skeptical about Retherford's draw of returning 4th-place finisher Ugi in round freakin one, but zPain's an uncommonly mentally tough young person, and Ugi's wins aren't nearly of his caliber. Everybody was right in predicting Logibear to win the rematch, but I think a third go round is going to be tougher for him. Stieber's still got too much offense, though, and Zain will finish 3rd. A fine accomplishment in his true freshman season.

DAN: I expect Logan Stieber to bring home a third consecutive NCAA title along with the arms of at least two of his opponents.

MAX: Mike Nevinger is Cornell's only unseeded wrestler out of the eight that qualified. That is weird, because he's also a two-time All American, finishing 5th in 2013 by peeling off 5 solid wins in wrestlebacks after dropping his opening match. Health issues have been a concern for him once again, as is his inability to score from neutral. I can't remember the last time an opponent picked the down position against him, and I wouldn't expect anybody to do the same at nationals. That said, he could certainly repeat history by AAing one more time, but I'll be conservative and say he'll come up one round short. Nevinger is also in a very unfortunate position in the bracket in that he could go 2-0, meet Logan Steiber in the quarters, lose, and then face either Retherford or Khishignyam in the round of 12. Profound sadness.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: I want to see Ugi versus Retherford in round one -- that's a hell of a way to kick off the tournament for both guys. I'm curious to see Stieber-Retherford III in the semifinals (if they both make it there) and I'm really curious to see how Port matches up against some of the big dogs at this weight.

JP: R1 Nevinger vs Horan. Horan's a Sophomore who's been steeled with experience at PIAA's and Nevinger's a savvy old goat. Beyond that, Port-Carter in the semis.

DAN: I expect a lot of chalk in this bracket, which means that the semifinals are going to be outstanding.

MAX: If last year is any indication, anything involving Nevinger in wrestlebacks should be exciting.

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: Oh man, there are like three lower-seeded or unseeded guys I really like at this weight. First and foremost is Ugi, an All-American last year who got screwed over by the NCAA for part of the year. Even if Retherford knocks him off in round one, I think Ugi can blaze a trail through the wrestlebacks and make the podium. Aside from him, I think UNI's Joey Lazor could get hot and I think Okie State's Collica is a tough guy who could rise to the occasion in front of his home crowd.

JP: I'll go with PA's Joey Spisak, wrestling out of UVA. He's not terribly exciting, but he wrestles tough and stays close with his superiors. He's also my winner for Best Tweet From a Wrestler this year.

DAN: I think that Steve Dutton is underseeded at 13. He'll probably fall to Carter in the second round, but I could see him making a run in the consolation bracket.

MAX: I fell that Richard Durso will finally get to bring home a medal to Lancaster, PA after falling just short last year.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: Carter made a miraculous recovery, but I don't think he can make the finals and I don't see Stieber losing to Retherford in their rubber match So give me Port and Stieber in the finals, with Port being the bridesmaid at 141 again and Stieber making it 3 for 3 in national title shots.

JP: Stieber over Port

DAN: Mitchell Port is the Wichita State of the NCAA Wrestling championships. He's undefeated and the #1 seed by virtue of wrestling an easier schedule than the other top (B1G) contenders. That being said, it doesn't mean that he's not the best guy in the weight class. I don't think he is, but he could be. He'll get his chance to prove it, but ultimately I think Logan Stieber avenges his brother's loss to Port in last year's tournament and earns his 3rd straight title.

MAX: Stieber over Port.

149

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: Can we get a time machine and bring back the Brody Grothus from late December/early January? That Grothus beat Josh Kindig and Jason Tsirtsis and looked pretty damn good. He could turn some heads at this weight. But the Grothus that we've seen of late is going to have a hard time getting things going at this weight, which is an underrated meat grinder. So I'm hopeful, but not super-confident.

JP: I think ok. James English is 58-23 in his long Penn State career, including a 3-2 5th-place finish at the Big Ten Tourney with his postseason opportunity--the only such one of that long career--clearly on the line. He was *this* close to upending 2-seed Nick Dardanes, in a 3-2 R1 loss. He did also got majored by the mercurial Eric Grajales, though. His R1 draw is really pretty good for his unseeded status, as he faces App State's 12-seed Dyllan Cottrell. The brackets indicate he's 26-1, but they seem to be ignoring his medical forfeiting out of the Southern Scuffle. He's only wrestled five matches since then, and only two of those were against guys with winning records. English can beat this guy. It's too hard to pick him in the following round vs the winner of Busler-Tsirtsis, but in this wide-open weight James English has the skills and mental toughness to navigate the consolation bracket. I'm picking him to bow out in the Round of 12, but won't be surprised at all if he beats the quarterfinal loser of the Houdashelt/Grajales/Habat pod and caps his amazing career with an All-American medal. Yessir, I would like that very much.

DAN: After an uninspiring performance in the B1G tournament that left Ian Paddock needing an at-large bid to qualify for the NCAA tournament, my hopes aren't the highest. Best-case scenario is that he scores some important points in the consolations.

MAX: It's crazy that Chris Villalonga is the three seed, but given the variability at this weight, he probably should be. He actually looked solid in EIWAs (i.e. no matches went to sudden victory), so I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll keep it up. You know, up until his first round match enters the second round of tiebreakers. I think he's got a rather favorable draw as well. It's his last year so it's AA or bust, but I think he'll get it done on Friday morning.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: I always enjoy seeing what crazy shit Eric Grajales might do in a match (until he gases out anyway), but I'm really curious to see T-shirt versus Maple in the quarters if they make it. Maple was a guy expected to wreck shop after moving up a weight, but it hasn't quite worked out this way; T-shirt looks like a guy who's going to be in the thick of the title chase for the next four years.

JP: My two favorites are both Round 1. Tsirtsis-Busler is gonna be close. Tshirt has always been sound, and he looked very impressive in the B1G tourney last week, but Busler's gonna give him a match. The other one is Max's boy Chris Villalonga vs Pitt true freshman, Mikey Racciato. It'll be a real clash of styles.

DAN: n/a

MAX: I dunno about you but I like cheering for Eric Grajales. I feel that he's the people's wrestler in the vein of John Daly and Bartolo Colon. His match against Andrew Alton in the dual against Penn State was the best worst match I've ever seen. I'm looking forward to seeing him take on Houdashelt in the quarters. Also, I appreciate JP for his restraint in mentioning Villalonga without using the word "clownfraud".

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: Josh Kindig has been kind of underwhelming this year, but I think the home cooking will do him well and he'll sneak onto the bottom of the podium.

JP: It seems odd to suggest a 2x AA who's finished 7th & 5th the past two years is under the radar, but Oregon State's Scott Sakaguchi is a 14-seed who has struggled to a 29-9 record. He's spent most of the year outside the top-ten and has losses to almost all the top guys at the weight. I could see him either beating Villalonga in R2 and or making a consi run to placement. Second choice is Lehigh's Mitch Minotti, who I could see upsetting Dardanes in R2.

DAN: n/a

MAX: James English because of that Penn State X-Gene.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: The T-Shirt Era begins now. I've got him making the finals and knocking off Villalonga for his first title.

JP: Maple over Sueflohn.

DAN: Villalonga over Maple in a rematch of their classic at the National Duals

MAX: [rolls dice] [all the dice say "Brent Metcalf"] Well damned if I know.

157

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: He's gonna wrestle a bunch of matches that give Iowa fans heart attacks, but he'll probably win a lot/most/all of them -- same ol' DSJ, in other words. He got a nice draw, with all three of the guys who beat him this year on the top half of the bracket. Hopefully they can beat up on each other and stay away from him. Joey Napoli is a sneaky-tough first round match, but I think DSJ will be OK until he sees Dieringer in the semis. I'm already settling in for the tie-breaker rounds in that match.

JP: Who freakin' knows? If I had any faith that the info we've gotten on his health was valid, I maybe could pick this better, but as it is, and given his 1-3 performance (including getting majored 13-4 in his last match by a guy he beat fairly convincingly in the dual a few weeks earlier), it's hard to have any faith in Dylan right now. He and coach talked a good health game this week, but the 2012 run to 3rd is too far away for me to confidently pick a similar run.

If he is healthy, beyond the R1 rubber match with Michigan's tough Brian Murphy, his draw isn't too terribly bad. And I could remember back to last year's nationals where, with a torn labrum, he so very nearly beat 1-seed Jason Welch in the quarterfinals, then could possibly picture wins over Ian Miller and Ike Jordan to reach a semifinal match with James Green, but I won't pick it. I'm gonna pick his worst-case scenario where he loses in R1 to Murphy and then has to battle back but only reaches the R12.

DAN: He will provide excellent moral support from the stands.

MAX: Gets 4th place at EIWAs → Gets 7 seed at nationals. Wait, what? Seriously? Above Dylan Ness, who pinned him in 1:13? I think that arrow needs to be checked. Anyway, Brian Realbuto has had a strong freshman season, but he's fallen off a bit since the Las Vegas tournament in early December where he nearly upset James Green in the finals. If he gets it together, he can finish top 8, but based on recent form I'll say he goes out in the round of 12.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: Dylan "Ride my Elevator" Ness versus SPARTY CHINOOOOOOOOOOO. OK, that might not be much of a match, but I couldn't resist giving Spartak Chino some love with a name like that. Dylan Ness is the guy to watch if you're a neutral fan, though -- he'll try moves from anywhere, at any time. They won't always work -- and he might get pinned himself -- but he's definitely a goer. Which is worth a lot at a weight where guys like Jordan, Murphy, Alton, Dieringer, and St. John could wrestle for ten minutes and take MAYBE one decent shot. So give me Ness-Green in the quarters and let's see how Ness' elevator fares against Green's freight train double.

JP: Joey Napoli vs Derek St. John in R1! Is Napoli healthy? Doubt it, but if he is, hooboy what a drag of a draw for the weight's returning champ. Second choice is Alton-Murphy III, just to see what to expect there.

DAN: I'm always interested if Dylan Ness is wrestling and he has two potential good ones against Pena and Green. Should it happen, Jordan v. Miller should be another good one.

MAX: I'm excited for Nestor Taffur to take on Taylor Walsh. This is in spite of the popular Cornell mantra "Screw BU."

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: I think this is another chalk-y weight, but I like Virginia's Blaise Butler to break the #goacc trend and sneak onto the podium.

JP: I'm gonna say Brian Murphy. I've really liked what I've seen of him this year. Very DSJ-esque: long, great balance, tough as nails. Beyond that, I'll go with Cornell's Brian Realbuto. A lot of people think he's overseeded at #7 (I do), but I liked his work at National Duals.

DAN: It's hard to consider Dylan Alton "under the radar" but I think he will wrestle much better than his 13th seed, provided he's out of whatever funk he was in during the B1G tournament that saw him almost lose to Randy Languis.

MAX: Maybe there's a chance that Joey Napoli is healthy and can perform well at nationals. And maybe there's a chance this pie I have is apple. [cuts into pie] [spiders come pouring out]

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: I think DSJ gets a late takedown/reversal/escape to eke out a win over Dieringer. Unfortunately, I think he sees James Green again in the finals -- and I think DSJ still doesn't have any answers for Green's double leg. Alas.

JP: I'm still a bit dubious about whether James Green is finally ready to do this, but the rest of the weight seems only tepidly inclined to go out and snatch it. So I'm going with Green over Alex Dieringer.

DAN: Chalk is so boring, but I really see James Green making the final against DSJ. It probably ends the same way as their last meeting.

MAX: James Green over Derek St. John. (Also he's not related to Jill St. John is he? Can he introduce me to her?)

165

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: Well, I don't think Nick Moore is gonna go 1-2 and be toast as early as he was last year. That's a good thing. I think he avenges his loss to Steven Monk in the quarterfinals, but facing David Taylor in the semis... I mean... we know how that story ends. I think Moore finishes in the top 4 at this weight, though.

JP: Hmmm, let's see. I'll put him down for going 5-0, with 5 bonus wins, 28+ team points, his second National Championship and second Hodge Trophy. Oh, he'll also get at least 3 pins to tie Josh Moore for the Penn State most career pins record of 53. And he'll ride out of the Chesapeake Energy Arena on his magic unicorn and will ascendeth into the heavens, where he will henceforth bless this great sport with all his beneficence until time's flat circle once again rounds up.

DAN: All-American at the absolute worst. What? You're not talking about Bo Jordan next season? Nevermind.

MAX: Dylan Palacio was the unheralded freshman but he's performed well. However, losing to Joe Booth of Hofstra in the EIWA final likely cost him big in NCAA seeding. As the 14 seed, Palacio has a second-round matchup with Nick Sulzer. All-American is still a possibility though, so I'll stick my neck out and say 8th place for him.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: I want to see Moore's revenge match with Monk, but the match I'm most curious in seeing is Taylor vs. Sulzer in the finals. I don't know if we'll get it because Caldwell might stymie Sulzer in the semis, but Taylor-Sulzer would be fun because I don't think Sulzer would pull a Caldwell and turtle up against Taylor in the finals.

JP: Any one NOT involving Tyler Caldwell please. I've really taken a liking to Nick Moore as this season has progressed. Dude takes his beatings from Taylor like a classy champ and has doled out beats on everybody else in the weight. Except one. The mysterious and seldom seen in the wild Steven Monk from North Dakota State. Their Midlands final was a tight one; I'd like to see Moore get another shot at the Funky Monk in the quarters.

DAN: There is one storyline that I'm interested in at 165: Can David Taylor earn bonus points in all five of his matches?

MAX: Moore vs. Monk should be good. Also David Taylor will earn bonus points in all five of his matches.

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: Illinois' Jackson Morse is the #12 seed, but he's got the skill to do work in the wrestlebacks and make the bottom of the podium. I mean, dude took down David Taylor earlier this year -- that ain't easy.

JP: I've been itchin for this one. This better not be Ocho subliminally converting me into a closet Cornell fan, but Dylan Palacio is making the podium this year from his 14-seed. Mark it down. Dude wrestles wide open, but he hasn't been decked this year. His matches are high-scoring, but close, and he's got the attitude of a winner. Loved him in this February interview.

DAN: n/a

MAX: My work here is done.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: David Taylor and unfortunately I think Caldwell gets the better of Sulzer. Hopefully Taylor gores Caldwell in the finals. (Unless those bonus points would give Penn State the team title over Iowa, in which case -- stall away, homie!)

JP: Taylor over Caldwell, where he will punish the cowboy poseur.

DAN: The Unicorn gores Sulzer

MAX: Twilight Sparkle will earn his cutie mark with a magical victory over Sulzer. (Really wanted to pick Chris "Nightmare" Moon though to keep the pony thing going.)

174

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: He's wrestling well now, so I'm optimistic. For a while, he couldn't beat any of the other Top 6 guys at this weight. Then he beat Storley, but he couldn't get a takedown. Then he beat Brown AND got a takedown. Then he lost to Kokesh, but he got another takedown. See -- progress! Evans' offense from neutral has been the biggest thing holding him back, so if he's getting that in order, he has a real shot to do damage at this weight. He also got a decent draw, with Brown in the quarters (a guy he's beaten a few times) and Perry in the semis (a guy he's been close to beating a few times). I like that more than Kokesh (a guy he's really struggled with lately) or Howe (a guy who I still think is probably the best wrestler at this weight, recent loss be damned).

JP: Pretty well, I think.The top-six at this weight are absolutely brutal. But Matt Brown is smart. Sometimes he looks like a bit of an automaton, as he looks over to the corner for instructions on which flavor of pain he is expected to inflict, but he's also proven that he can mentally relax, stay within himself and make a deep run in these tourneys. He's also strong and has Hulk Hands. Kokesh has Storley and Howe in his path to the finals and Brown has Evans (who he's beaten) and Perry (who he's not). Perry is incredibly (and annoyingly--thanks, John Smith, Once-Great God of Offense!) savvy, but he plays it soo close that he's still vulnerable to a Brown upset. I'm also curious to see if the referees react in any way to Cael Sanderson's very vocal and very public castigation of the ref in the Big Ten Tourney last week. A single correctly applied stall call could be a tide-turner for the Chris Perry's of the world. I haven't used my homer card yet, so I'm gonna throw it down here in dramatic fashion and call for Brown to best Evans in the quarters and finally solve the Cunning Cowboy in the semifinals, and in so doing will put Penn State's fourth straight title in the proverbial bag. DOMINO MOTHERFUCKER!

DAN: At this point, you pretty much know what to expect from Mark Martin. I think he will wrestle to his 14 seed, winning in the opening round and maybe one or two more in the consis.

MAX: Wait, this is a weight class? I have no memory of this.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: Brown-Evans and Storley-Kokesh are the big ones -- those guys will definitely bring it against one another. I'm also curious to see Kokesh-Howe in the semis to see if Kokesh's increasingly slick offense can get through Howe's ironclad defense.

JP: Like, every single quarterfinal. Which will be all chalk, you know. Cody Walters will push Perry to a snorefesty 2-1 win; Evans-Brown V is gonna be a blast. Storley will give Kokesh a run, and you best believe Tyler Wilps is capable of upsetting Andrew Howe! Friday morning is probably gonna be the best session.

DAN: I'm going to go with the crowd and say Evans/Brown; the rubber match for the season with a semifinal berth on the line.

MAX: Evans vs. Brown will be exciting. Also Wilps would probably be more successful if his name wasn't so similar to "welp".

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

JP: The top-six are locks, so that leaves only two spots. I'm going with Mike Ottinger, the 10-seed from CMU, or Mathew Miller, the 16-seed from Navy.

DAN: Brian Harvey of Army, because he's going to be all that he can be.

MAX: Billy Curling because that's my favorite sport.

ROSS: The top-6 is super chalk, but after that I think things are pretty wide open. So call me crazy, but I'm going to take Mark Martin to claim that sixth and final spot on the podium. Also, Max totally stole my Curling pick.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: Howe-Perry III: The Search for Stalling. Howe wins.

JP: Kokesh over Brown

DAN: Howe over Perry in a match that, god willing, will be better than their last one.

MAX: The finalists will be Perry and Howe. To find out who's going to win, introduce yourself to a Native American.

184

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: He got a beauty of a draw, I think. That's not to say that Jimmy Sheptock (a semifinal opponent) or Max Thomusseit (a quarterfinal opponent) are pushovers (they're not), but give me #goacc all day over a path that includes Ed Ruth, Gabe Dean, and the always-challenging Kevin Steinhaus. Vic Avery is a tough first round draw, though, so Lofty better not be napping at the starting line.

JP: He's gonna win the whole damn thing and become the first 3x-Champion in Penn State wrestling history. And he'll showcase his fresh and cleanness by punishing a gauntlet of tough hombres: Jackson Hein, Ryan Loder and Kevin Steinhaus (again) will submit, before the revenge act of the season occurs. Man, it's gonna be fun to watch Ed Ruth pay Gabe Dean back. By the time the finals arrive on Saturday, his opponent will be cake.

DAN: Kenny Courts is a 10-seed with an outside shot at making the podium. He'll have to wrestle the tournament of his life, but he can do it.

MAX: He'll AA easily. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go change the Maryland team's flight itinerary so that their trip to Oklahoma now has a stopover in Lagos.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: Ruth-Dean III because I want to see if lightning can strike twice.

JP: All of Ed Ruth's. Seriously. If the Seeding Committee hadn't barfed all over every weight and screwed tens of wrestlers, I'd think this draw was some snickery Veritas-like concoction. But Penn Staters should look at it as a farewell tour, a coronation for perhaps its best wrestler ever.

DAN: The Ed Ruth farewell tour, especially if includes a rematch w/ Dean.

MAX: Ed Ruth has a ridiculously tough draw. Fortunately for Ed Ruth, he is Ed Ruth.

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: My picks at this weight are pretty much chalk, but I do think Michigan's Domenic Abounader can finish off a pretty solid freshman campaign with a spot on the podium.

JP: I'm going with Ryan Loder to pull off a return sneak to the podium. He's very well-coached and his consi brackets set up to avoid ODU RSFR nemesis Jack Dechow.

DAN: Oh, why not. Let's go with my man K.C.

MAX: Ophir Bernstein because he's on the easy side of the draw. Also I'm amused that somebody whose name is almost "Berenstein" wrestles for the Bears.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: My man Lofthouse puts together a stirring run to the finals... where he gets majored by Ed Ruth on the last stop of the Eddie Ruth Farewell Tour.

JP: Really toyed with Lofthouse in the upper bracket, but something keeps whispering in my ear (Piiiitttttt, Piiiiittttt). Not sure what that's about, but I'm going with Thommuseit to make the finals to help Ruth celebrate: Ruth over Thomusseit.

DAN: I'm picking Ed over Sheptock because I'm not confident enough in any of the potential upsets.

MAX: I picked Gabe Dean to win for my mid-season picks, but

Eai8nz0

My pick is Ruth over Lofthouse

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197

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Burak looked mighty salty at the Big Ten Tournament, especially in his almost got ‘im loss to McIntosh. I'm starting to think he's one of those "tournament guys" and I think he'll give us a little magic in this tourney -- by which I mean he upsets Richard Perry in the Round of 16, loses another close match to McIntosh, then scoots through the consos to make the bottom of the podium.

JP: I'm gonna pick McIntosh to make the semis, lose to Mizzou's crazy-athletic beast J'Den Cox for the third time, and beat the loser of Gadson-Schiller match to advance to the 3rd place match, where he'll win the rematch with Nick Heflin.

DAN: Nick Heflin calls himself the Darkhorse. I tried to respect that and not pick him to make the final, but I couldn't figure out a scenario that made sense without picking him to lose to Schiller. I've done that twice and I'm not doing it again.

MAX: Jace Bennett had what I felt was a mediocre year. Then he goes and wins EIWAs thanks in no small part to all his toughest matchups losing early on. Now he's the 10 seed at nationals which hahahahahahahahahahahaha. He goes 2-2 at best, but should pick up a pin.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing?

ROSS: Can't wait to see Heflin stall his way through a bunch more matches again... oh, wait, yes I can. I'm curious to see Missouri super-frosh J'Den Cox, though, and I'm looking forward to another throwdown between Scott Schiller and Kyven Gadson. Did Minnesota join the Big 12 or something? This would be the fourth match this year between those two bros.

JP: I haven't seen Travis Rutt since a back-from-the-dead Quentin Wright upset the 1-seed in R1 of the Big Ten Tourney three years ago. I hope I get to see him face Cox. Nathan Burak vs Bloomsburg's Richard Perry in R2 should be good as well.

DAN: I'm very excited to watch J'Den Cox this weekend. I haven't had a chance to see him wrestle much outside of his freestyle/greco matches with future Buckeye Kyle Snyder.

MAX: Schiller vs. Daniel Mitchell. EIWA qualified 8 wrestlers at this weight so it's us versus the world.

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: I already picked Burak to make the bottom of the podium and, dammit, I'm sticking with that call.

JP: I could see Burak doing it. Iowa sure will enjoy the points if he does.

DAN: With the way this bracket is seeded, anything is possible.

MAX: Taylor Meeks. He is the 12 seed because this bracket was made by throwing darts at the wall. While blindfolded. With the person's off hand. And the darts are actually bees.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: I'm going Gadson-Cox in the finals,with Gadson coming out on top and having a really emotional celebration afterwards.

JP: I got Gadson running his ripoff of a gauntlet: he'll take out Meeks, then Schiller, then Heflin. Then he'll lose to J'Den for the title.

DAN: I've got Cox v. Heflin. It'll be youth versus experience and i think that youth will be served. It's OK, Buckeye fans, despite not seeing a single college match from him, I'm already picking the aforementioned Snyder to avenge Heflin's loss next year.

MAX: Cox over Gadson. That was J'Den. This is J'Now.

285

1) How is your guy going to do at this weight?

ROSS: Well...
/flips coin
/heavyweight grabs coin out of air and shoves it into vending machine
/rolls 16-sided die
/a dragon eats Tony Nelson

Hmm... sounds plausible. As far as Bobby goes, I think this comes down to one thing: can he get his offense going? If he can, he can make a run. If he can't, he's gonna be wasting away in Wrestlebackville, seeing a bunch of the same B1G dudes he's seen all year.

JP: Jon Gingrich is a massive wildcard here. He can get mauled, but he can also score a takedown against the very best in the class. He owns wins over #3 Chalfant, #4 Coon and #7 McClure. He's proven. I seriously would not be surprised to see him in the semifinals. I'll pick him to get bumped by Chalfant this time, though, and his second opponent in the consi, in the R16 could be OkSt's Austin Marsden, who he can easily beat. Anything less than a R12 finish will be severely disappointing, and a podium spot is not at all preposterous in this crazy-ass weight.

DAN: Nick Tavanello's NCAA bid was a surprise. Anything out of him in the tournament would be icing on the cake.

MAX: I vote we get rid of the 285 class on the account that all the matches are incredibly dull and because Cornell can't recruit or train a good heavyweight anyway.

2) Which matches at this weight are you really looking forward to seeing? (Name 1-2 or so)

ROSS: I'm not looking forward to ANY heavyweight match because ten minutes of shaved bear dancing ain't really my thing, but if I have to pick one match... let's say Chalfant-McMullan because they might actually try to shoot more than once a lunar cycle.

JP: Chalfant-McMullan could be fun again or--ooooh, Edinboro's Ernest James vs Adam Coon in R2. Actually, wait. The best R1 match will be the 717's Dawson Peck (suck it, Kevin Dresser, 7174LYFE!) vs. the Kerry McCoy-coached Spencer Myers of Maryland.

DAN: Dude, it's the heavyweights.

MAX: This is the time when I flip over to watching basketball, curling, or competitive video games.

3) Champion an under the radar guy who could make the podium.

ROSS: Jeremy Johnsin is from Ohio, which is in the MAC, which is like B1G Lite, so I could see the B1G's heavyweight prowess rubbing off on him and letting him sneak onto the podium.

JP: I really like Wiscy's Connor Medberry, but he's a 9-seed, so I'll go with either Myers or James.

DAN: n/a

MAX: Spencer Myers will make All American to the delight of Robin Ficker and the misery of everybody within earshot.

4) OK, who are the finalists and who's winning?

ROSS: Nelson will spiral ride Chalfant to another title. Ho hum.

JP: Nelson. Of course. Yawn it out all we want, but dude's gonna spiral ride to another title and do what neither Cole Konrad, Damion Hahn, Tim Hartung nor Verne Gagne could do at Minnesota: win three National Championships. Let's go chalk and say he'll do it at the expense of Nick Gwiazdowski.

DAN: Until someone beats him in an end-of-season tournament, I'm sticking with Nelson. He beats Chalfant 2-0 with riding time.

MAX: Nelson over McMullan. His losing streak in the middle of the season was just a meta spiral ride to make people think he wasn't going to win the title. I don't know what that means either.

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