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WHO: the best wrestlers from across the country
WHEN: Thursday, March 19, 11 AM CT
WHERE: Scottrade Center; St. Louis, MO
RADIO: AM 800 KXIC (local), Hawkeye All-Access (non-local; $) or the expanded radio network
TV: ESPNU (select matches)
ONLINE: ESPN3 (all matches, all mats)

BRACKET: Click here (or use these excellent brackets with live updates from Penn State Wrestling Club)

I have not been enthused to preview the NCAA Tournament this year -- apologies for that.  But the direction college wrestling is going -- stall, stall, stall some more -- is disillusioning and Iowa's performances under the spotlight recently (the National Duals final versus Missouri, the Big Ten Tournament final session) have been hugely underwhelming.  Iowa is again a contender at the NCAA Tournament, but if they're going to try to win by wrestling the way they did in so many matches at National Duals or the Big Ten finals -- with escapes, ride-outs, and copious amounts of stalling -- well, that's not a win I'm interested in celebrating.  Because that style of wrestling is bullshit, regardless of the colors of the singlets of the winners.

But, for the hell of it, here are my predicted finalists (and winner) at each weight:

125: #1 Alan Waters (Missouri) over #3 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
133: #1 Chris Dardanes (Minnesota) over #3 Cory Clark (Iowa)
141: #1 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) over #2 Mitchell Port (Edinboro)
149: #2 Jason Tsirtsis (N'western) over #1 Drake Houdashelt (Missouri)
157: #1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) over #3 Dylan Ness (Minnesota)
165: #1 Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) over #3 Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin)
174: #1 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) over #2 Matt Brown (Penn State)
184: #1 Gabe Dean (Cornell) over #2 Max Thomusseit (Pitt)
197: #1 J'Den Cox (Missouri) over #2 Morgan McIntosh (Penn State)
285: #2 Mike McMullan (N'western) over #1 Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State)

Iowa's path to a potential national championship is likely going to come down to its performance in the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday -- and the consolation round matches on Saturday morning.  The strategy for Iowa to win a national championship involves getting points from everyone on the team and getting as many All-Americans as possible (and getting them to finish as high on the podium as possible).


125: #6 Thomas Gilman (SO, 27-4) vs. UN Evan Silver (Stanford; JR; 16-10)
133: #5 Cory Clark (SO, 26-5) vs. UN Ronald Perry (Lock Haven; SO; 30-9)
141: #5 Josh Dziewa (SR, 27-7) vs. UN Kevin Jack (NC State; FR, 27-8)
149: #4 Brandon Sorensen (RS FR, 34-4) vs. UN Kyle Langenderfer (Illinois; RS FR; 21-13)
157: UN Mike Kelly (SR, 23-10) vs. #6 Josh Demas (Ohio State; SR; 16-7)
165: UN Nick Moore (SR, 22-9) vs. #7 Pierce Harger (N'western; SR; 28-6)
174: #3 Mike Evans (SR, 27-2) vs. UN Ethan Smith (Utah Valley; SR; 14-12) or UN Nate Jackson (Indiana; SO; 27-11)
184: #9 Sammy Brooks (SO, 14-4) vs. UN Jack McKeever (Binghamton; JR; 27-16) or UN Ben Stroh (Wyoming; SO; 22-9)
197: #6 Nathan Burak (JR, 20-5) vs. UN Vince Pickett (Edinboro; JR; 17-16)
285: #3 Bobby Telford (SR, 27-3) vs. UN Spencer Myers (Maryland; SR, 7-5)

I'll update the results in the comments.  Feel free to join in and follow along with all the action.

The usual rules apply.