BIG TEN TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS ROUNDTABLE: 125-157

Big Ten

Picks, picks, and more picks...

The Big Ten Tournament gets underway tomorrow and it's time to put our money where our mouths are and lay down our markers on how things are going to shake out.  We've got picks from myself and twade70 to represent BHGP, picks from bscaff and jtothefp to represent Black Shoe Diaries, and picks from Dan Vest to represent Land Grant Holy Land.  (Our Blogfrican scouts are still hunting for a Minnesota fan to offer his or her insight.)

We'll post the picks from 125-157 on BHGP and bscaff has the 165-295 picks on BSD.  So without further ado...

125

Ross

1) Nico Megaludis, JR, Penn State
2) Jesse Delgado, JR, Illinois
3) Cory Clark, RS FR, Iowa
4) Ryan Taylor, RS FR, Wisconsin
5) Tim Lambert, RS FR, Nebraska
6) Conor Youtsey, RS FR, Michigan
7) Nick Roberts, RS FR, Ohio State
8) Sam Brancale, RS FR, Minnesota

I'd really like to pick Clark here, but I just can't bring myself to pull the trigger, even though he does have a win over Delgado (at the 2012 UNI Open) and Delgado has been looking less bulletproof than I imagined he would this year. I still think Delgado will be a little too much for Clark right now. I do think Nico finally gets his first Big Ten title, though.

twade70

1) Megaludis
2) Clark
3) Delgado
4) Taylor
5) Lambert
6) Roberts
7) Eppert
8) Youtsey

Clark gets the upset over Delgado. I really think the one month benching got Clark's head on straight and I expect him to really come out on fire at B1Gs getting another win over Delgado. Nico proves to be too much in the final, though.

bscaff

1) Megaludis
2) Delgado
3) Clark
4) Youtsey
5) Taylor
6) Lambert
7) Roberts
8) Brancale

I haven't seen Clark in a match since The Dapper Dan Classic, but his results certainly indicate that this is a 3-man race. Nico has the easiest path to the final of the three. I think Nico gets his first Big Ten title this year.

jtothefp

1) Megaludis
2) Clark
3) Delgado
4) Youtsey
5) Lambert
6) Taylor
7) Roberts
8) Eppert

There was some dubiousness in Nico's 5-4 (TD calls with the Gumbies are often questionable) win over Delgado in the dual, but I think Nico's got him figured out. For that matter, the blueprint is out there for how to beat Delgado in neutral: muscle him in the tie-ups, approach steadily but cautiously, and be wary of his rope-a-dope retreat-n-shoot. I think Clark knows it, will employ it and will advance to the final, where Nico will be too much for him. I'd love to see a Lambert-Youtsey rematch (2-0 Youtsey), but Delgado will prevent it. Brutus over #ThePurdue for 7th.

Dan Vest

1) Megaludis
2) Clark
3) Delgado
4) Taylor
5) Lambert
6) Roberts
7) Youtsey
8) Brancale

As others have mentioned, there are three real contenders at 125. Nico Megaludis is the clear favorite to make it out of his half of the bracket. The other side should feature an intense semifinal matchup between Clark of Iowa and defending national champion Jesse Delgado. Clark is a wildcard with a very small sample size this season, but I have him in a close one over Delgado. The final, though, will belong to Nico.

133

Ross

1) Tony Ramos, SR, Iowa
2) David Thorn, SR, Minnesota
3) Tyler Graff, SR, Wisconsin
4) Cashe Quiroga, SR, Purdue
5) Zane Richards, RS FR, Illinois
6) Johnni DiJulius, SO, Ohio State
7) Jimmy Gulibon, RS FR, Penn State
8) Rossi Bruno, SO, Michigan

A healthy Graff probably is a legit #2 to Ramos at this weight, but he's missed several weeks lately, so his health does seem to be a question mark. With that in mind, I'm taking Thorn to slip past him in the semis here and set up another Ramos-Thorn showdown in the finals.

There's some real dark horse potential with Ricahrds, DiJulius, and Gulibon, too; I could see any of those three getting by their quarterfinal opponents and making a little noise.

twade70

1) Ramos
2) Graff
3) Thorn
4) Richards
5) Gulibon
6) Quiroga
7) DiJulius
8) Bruno

The time off is going to hurt Graff. Tony gets his first B1G championship. Dijulius had a tremendous start to the season (including a win over #1 Colon at Cliff Keens in Las Vegas), but has faded a bit once the B1G dual season started up. I don't expect him to wrestle to his seed. The two super freshman (Richards and Gulibon) will wrestle above their seed.

bscaff

1) Ramos
2) Graff
3) Thorn
4) Quiroga
5) Gulibon
6) Richards
7) DiJulius
8) Bruno

Ramos and Graff are a cut above everyone else here, but I don't know if Graff is healthy. If he isn't, he could lose to either Gulibon or Thorn before facing Ramos in the final. With the rest of the pack, I think Gulibon outperforms his seed, and DiJulius underperforms his seed.

jtothefp

1) Ramos
2) Thorn
3) Quiroga
4) Richards
5) Gulibon
6) DiJulius
7) Shawn Nagel, SR, Nebraska
8) Bruno

I'm guessing Graff's health (or weak tank from questionable health) will have him wrestling less like 2011 Andrew Howe and more like 2010 Dustin Schlatter. He'll bow out to Gulibon in some fashion and will MFF out from there, either hoping for an extra 10 days of healing and an at-large, or ending his season (or both if he totally mimics Schlatter). I'm real high on Quiroga's comeback, but not high enough for him to topple T-Ram. Gulibon will lose rematches to Thorn & Richards, and Nagel and Bruno will split 1-1 in some order.

Dan Vest

1) Ramos
2) Graff
3) Thorn
4) DiJulius
5) Quiroga
6) Richards
7) Gulibon
8) Bruno

Johnni DiJulius is one of the most likeable guys on the Ohio State team, and I really wanted to pick him to go far. Unfortunately, he sees Thorn in the second round and the memory of their matchup at the National Duals is still too fresh in my mind. Obviously, Ramos is the favorite in this weight class, but 133 has been unpredictable all year long. Still, I'm going to stick with the favorites here; Ramos and Graff in the finals, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Thorn made some noise.

141

Ross

1) Logan Stieber, JR, Ohio State
2) Zain Retherford, FR, Penn State
3) Chris Dardanes, JR, Minnesota
4) Steve Dutton, JR, Michigan
5) Steven Rodrigues, SO, Illinois
6) Josh Dziewa, JR, Iowa
7) Danny Sabatello, SO, Purdue
8) Jesse Thielke, RS FR, Wisconsin

Before we realized that upsets were going to be the dominant theme of this year, one of the most jaw-dropping moments of the season was Stieber falling to true freshman Zain Retherford early in the season. But Retherford's proved that win was no fluke - he's beat multiple top 20 guys since then. I can't see either guy getting upset before a much-anticipated rematch in the finals... and I also can't see Stieber losing to Retherford a second straight time.

twade70

1) Stieber
2) Retherford
3) Dardanes
4) Dziewa
5) Dutton
6) Sabatello
7) Thielke
8) Colton McCrystal, FR, Nebraska

No way is Stieber losing again to Retherford. Logan didn't wrestle the smartest match in their previous matchup and it cost him. This weight is going to look pretty close to chalk - other than Rodrigues failing to place. Since returning from injury he's 2-4.

bscaff

1) Stieber
2) Retherford
3) Dardanes
4) Dziewa
5) Sabatello
6) Dutton
7) Rodrigues
8) Thielke

Only six bids for this weight, despite 8 or 9 of these guys having carried a Top 20 rank at one point or another. But after four months of wrestling, Retherford and Stieber separated themselves from the pack -- particularly when Stieber demolished Dardanes at National Duals. I don't want to pick Stieber, but I kinda have to. Sabatello has been wrestling very well, and I think he makes a nice run thru the consolations.

jtothefp

1) Stieber
2) Retherford
3) Dardanes
4) Dutton
5) Thielke
6) Rodrigues
7) Dziewa
8) Sabatello

Heavyweight and 174 are certain to be great battles finales, but Stieber-Retherford II will be the best match Sunday afternoon. Steebler took zPain down easily in p1 last time. Zain's improved in neutral a lot since then, but Streebler will do it again. Additionally, his bravado will be Molinaro-esque and he'll choose to go under, but he'll block the boots and get out before the riding time clock (which we won't be able to see) gets over a minute. Zain will also get out and will come close to a match-tying TD, but Steoplechaseler will hold him off for the win. Then we'll all hold our breath watching the seeding committee's decision. Dutton-Dardanes could be interesting. Can't trust Jevva or Rodriguez, so I went with Thielke's (albeit non-folkstyle) tourney experience. Would love to pick McCrystal to place, but absent his actual draw, decided to abstain.

Dan Vest

1) Stieber
2) Retherford
3) Dardanes
4) Dutton
5) Dziewa
6) Sabatello
7) Rodrigues
8) Thielke

I think that we can agree that this is probably a two-horse race with Zain Retherford and Logan Stieber leading the rest of the field by a significant margin. This week I went back and rewatched the first meeting between the two and it left me even more confident in my prediction. I expect Stieber to score first again and I don't think that he will lose the lead this time. In fact, I expect him to create separation early and win something like 7-2. That being said, if Zain scores first all bets are off.

149

Ross

1) Jake Sueflohn, JR, Nebraska
2) Nick Dardanes, JR, Minnesota
3) Jason Tsirtsis, RS FR, Northwestern
4) Eric Grajales, SR, Michigan
5) Brody Grothus, SO, Iowa
6) Ian Paddock, SR, Ohio State
7) James English, SR, Penn State
8) Caleb Ervin, SO, Illinois

149 is an incredibly difficult weight to predict, given how evenly matched the competitors are at this weight. Sueflohn has been the most consistent guy at this weight, but Dardanes and Tsirtsis are very much capable of beating him and Grajales and Grothus could get hot, too. Sueflohn seems like the safe pick, though, so I'll go safety first here.

twade70

1) Tsirtsis
2) Sueflohn
3) Dardanes
4) Grajales
5) Grothus
6) English
7) Brandon Nelsen, JR, Purdue
8) Paddock

I'd like to put Grajales in the final, but he's on the wrong side of the bracket for it. Both Sueflohn and Grothus have the gas tanks to beat Grajales and both wrestlers are undefeated vs. the Wolverine this season. Tsirtsis has really been wrestling well lately and I expect to see the freshman come out on top in Madison.

bscaff

1) Sueflohn
2) Tsirtsis
3) Dardanes
4) Grajales
5) Grothus
6) English
7) Ervin
8) Paddock

Flip a coin. Scratch that - roll a Dungeons and Dragons die. I think any of the top 7 seeds could walk home with the title. I have the two most consistent wrestlers, relatively speaking, in the final. And Sueflohn avenging last year's finals loss to the Ness elevator. Penn State's English, who hasn't wrestled a Big Ten match since December 2012, qualifies for NCAAs in his final shot.

jtothefp

1) Sueflohn
2) Tsirtsis
3) English
4) Dardanes
5) Grothus
6) Ervin
7) Grajales
8) Paddock

Too bad Ness isn't still here, because this one's gonna be wild. Well, wild with upsets, but only about half of it will be wild with action. Grajales - Brothus II alone will be worth the ticket price-and it's also messing with my bracket! When in doubt, though, you gotta go against the guy with the history of gassing. Sueflohn's too tough and skilled for this field, so I've got him winning. Dardanes isn't nearly as good as his record. I can't believe he beat Tsirtsis, the ref gave him the win over Beitz and if Villalonga would actually decide to wrestle, he'd have two losses to him as well. But, hey, credit the kid for maximizing his upside. Thing is, English is going to be as hard to score on as Villalonga-but he'll also attack and get out from bottom. I think English knocks him off to qualify, but loses the ensuing bore-fest to Tsirtsis. In the consis, I'm going with Ervin to knock Grajales out of auto-qualification (he'll still get an at-large-but he'll have to beat Paddock for 7th to earn it) and English beating Dardanes again for third. Brothus over Ervin for 5th.

Dan Vest

1) Dardanes
2) Sueflohn
3) Grajales
4) Tsirtsis
5) Grothus
6) English
7) Paddock
8) Ervin

If we were assigning confidence points to our predictions, this one would be a 2 or a 3. There is very little separating the top guys in this division and they've all taken turns beating one another during the season. I'm picking Nick Dardanes to win the weight, but I also think that Eric Grajales is a very serious upset threat despite his #5 seed.

157

Ross

1) Derek St. John, SR, Iowa
2) Dylan Ness, JR, Minnesota
3) James Green, JR, Nebraska
4) Isaac Jordan, RS FR, Wisconsin
5) Dylan Alton, JR, Penn State
6) Taylor Walsh, JR, Indiana
7) Brian Murphy, FR, Michigan
8) Zac Brunson, RS FR, Illinois

Jordan rode a fantastic weekend a few weeks ago -- back-to-back wins over James Green and Derek St. John to the #1 seed at this weight, but the fact that St. John is the #4 seed here tells you all you need to know about the crazy depth at this weight. 1-4 are all legit chances to win here and Alton and Walsh are no slouches, either -- in a less brutally competitive weight, they'd likely be favorites. I think DSJ avenges his loss to Jordan, while Green struggles with Ness' funk in the other semifinal.

twade70

1) Green
2) St. John
3) Alton
4) Ness
5) Jordan
6) Walsh
7) Murphy
8) Brunson

Walsh-Ness in the Qtrs should be highly entertaining - I'd almost guarantee whoever wins it is going to do it by FALL. I think Walsh is going to pull the upset there.

bscaff

1) St. John
2) Green
3) Alton
4) Murphy
5) Ness
6) Brunson
7) Jordan
8) Walsh

I might look like a giant idiot after these picks, but I have top seed Ike Jordan placing 7th. Derek St. John is the beneficiary of that, and he counters a Green shot in the first period of the final to stake an early lead, and ride his way to a title. In other news, the NCAA's 5th "most dominant" wrestler, Walsh, places 8th. What a crazy deep weight class.

jtothefp

1) St. John
2) Ness
3) Jordan
4) Green
5) Alton
6) Walsh
7) Murphy
8) Brunson

This one will be actually wild. Like on the mat. I'm still really trippin on Iowa's 149 pounder and its healthy defending national champ earning the same seed at B1Gs. Brunson's a little boring, but the other three quarterfinal matchups could all be fireworks. I can't tell yet how ready Alton is to make a run like in 2012, so I went with the champ. Since getting tech'd by Pena and then quitting the Scuffle, Ness has looked sharp. Like, not sloppy. And always dangerous. I'm taking him over Green, who can still get sloppy, but figure he won't have enough for a once-again-savvy St. John. My confidence level in the consis is much lower: Alton could lose to Murphy or beat Green; Walsh could pin Jordan. I went with Jordan for 3rd probably based on recency, but who knows? But it sure looks like fun.

Dan Vest

1) Green
2) St. John
3) Ness
4) Murphy
5) Alton
6) Brunson
7) Jordan
8) Walsh

If I gave 149 a 2 or 3 on the confidence scale, then 157 is probably a 1. Jordan has had an incredible season and is deserving of his one seed, but I worry he might come crashing back down to earth this weekend. St. John and Green are probably the two most consistent guys at this weight, and that's why I picked them as finalists. Still, Dylan Ness is liable to put a guy or two on the elevator and win the whole thing himself. Anything can happen, which is what makes tournament season so great.

CLICK HERE to read the 165-285 picks.

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