1) Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State (SO, 22-0)
2) Joey Dance, Virginia Tech (JR, 28-1)
3) Nico Megaludis, Penn State (SR, 27-3)
4) Thomas Gilman, Iowa (JR, 24-1)
5) Ryan Millhof, Oklahoma (SO, 21-6)
6) Eddie Klimara, Oklahoma State (SR, 27-5)
7) Darian Cruz, Lehigh (SO, 28-5)
8) Barlow McGhee, Missouri (SO, 22-7)
R1: Gilman vs UN Brent Fleetwood, Central Michigan (SO, 19-11)
R2: Gilman vs likely #13 Tim Lambert, Nebraska (JR, 23-9)
QF: Gilman vs likely #5 Ryan Millhof, Oklahoma (SO, 21-6) or #12 Paul Petrov, Bucknell (SR, 31-6)
SF: Gilman vs likely #1 Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State (SO, 22-0)
FIN: Gilman vs likely #2 Joey Dance, Virginia Tech (JR, 28-1) or #3 Nico Megaludis, Penn State (SR, 27-3)
Gilman and Fleetwood have never wrestled before. Fleetwood has lost 11 times this year, but never via bonus points. He also hasn't wrestled any of the Big 4 at 125, either. Gilman should get the win and I think he should have an excellent opportunity to get bonus points.
Gilman is 3-0 against Lambert and the wins have been getting increasingly lopsided: he won 2-1 in 2014, 11-4 earlier this year, and 12-4 at the Big Ten Tournament two weeks ago. I like Gilman to win again and he should have a decent chance to get bonus points.
Gilman has never faced Millhof or Petrov before. Gilman should beat either man and he may be able to get bonus points (Millhof lost via major decision to Tomasello) if things click.
Gilman is 1-1 against Tomasello, beating him 2-1 at the dual meet last year and losing to him 3-2 in the Big Ten Tournament final. He'll be an extremely tough opponent if they square off in the semis and that match may come down to which man is able to get the first takedown. Gilman will need to wrestle smart and aggressively to win.
Gilman is 1-0 against Dance, grabbing a thrilling 7-5 comeback win against him in the NCAA quarterfinals last year. He's 0-2 against Nico, losing 4-1 at the dual in 2014 and losing 4-3 at the Big Ten Tournament semifinals this year. Like Tomasello, a match with Dance or Nico will be very tough and Gilman will need to wrestle smart and get to his offense first. If he's able to do that, he should have a great chance to win.
PREDICTION: GILMAN OVER MEGALUDIS
I believe in Gilman, I really do. He's come so close in his most recent matches against Tomasello and Megaludis. I think he gets over the hump in his matches against them at this tournament. If he can get the first takedown on Tomasello and get the win there, I think he'll have all the confidence he needs to finally beat Nico in the final.
1) Nahshon Garrett, Cornell (SR, 32-0)
2) Cory Clark, Iowa (JR, 22-1)
3) Zane Richards, Illinois (JR, 23-1)
4) Cody Brewer, Oklahoma (SR, 21-2)
5) Jordan Conaway, Penn State (SR, 26-5)
6) George DiCamillo, Virginia (JR, 27-3)
7) Eric Montoya, Nebraska (JR, 24-8)
8) Earl Hall, Iowa State (SR, 29-7)
R1: Clark vs. UN Jade Rauser, Utah Valley (SR, 20-6)
R2: Clark vs. likely #15 Josh Alber, UNI (RS FR, 26-10)
QF: Clark vs. likely #7 Eric Montoya, Nebraska (JR, 24-8) or #10 Johnni DiJulius, Ohio State (SR, 17-7)
SF: Clark vs. likely #3 Zane Richards, Illinois (JR, 23-1) or #6 George DiCamillo, Virginia (JR, 24-8)
FIN: Clark vs. likely #1 Nahshon Garrett, Cornell (SR, 32-0) or #4 Cody Brewer, Oklahoma (SR, 21-2)
Clark has never wrestled Rauser before. Rauser has lost via bonus point to the two best opponents he's faced this year (#4 Brewer tech falled him and #3 Richards beat him via major decision), so bonus points are definitely possible if Clark gets off to a fast start and keeps pushing for more points.
Clark has also never wrestled Alber. Albert's lost three matches via fall this year, so Clark may be able to put him on his back. That's probably his best shot at getting bonus points in the match.
Clark is 1-0 against Montoya, beating him 2-0 at the dual earlier this year. He'll need to get to his offense a bit more in a rematch to get a more comfortable win. Clark is 3-1 against DiJulius, losing to him 7-5 last year at the dual, before beating him 2-0 and 2-1 at the Big Ten Tournament last year and 7-3 at the Big Ten Tournament this year. Both opponents could be tricky match-ups for Clark, but he's certainly capable of beating both if he gets to his offense early in the match.
Clark is 3-2 against Richards, beating him 4-2 at the Midlands Tournament last year, 8-2 at the Big Ten Tournament last year, and 2-1 in overtime at the Big Ten Tournament this year (to lock up a Big Ten Championship). He lost to him 6-5 at the dual last year and 5-3 at the dual this year. I'd expect another tight, nervy match if they face off again, although hopefully Clark is able to get something going on offense earlier in the match. Clark is 1-0 against DiCamillo, beating him 12-3 at a dual meet last year.
Clark is 0-1 against Brewer and has never wrestled Garrett before. Brewer, of course, beat Clark via 11-8 decision in the NCAA Tournament finals last year. Both Brewer and Garrett are strong, quick, explosive athletes and would be tremendous challenges for Clark. He'd need to have some very tight defense and make the most of his offensive opportunities when they presented themselves.
PREDICTION: GARRETT OVER CLARK
I really want to pick Clark. But Garrett has looked like an absolute monster up at 133 this year and I think his combination of strength, quickness, and explosiveness will be too much for Clark to overcome.
1) Dean Heil, Oklahoma State (SO, 27-1)
2) Joey McKenna, Stanford (RS FR, 22-2)
3) Kevin Jack, NC State (SO, 23-3)
4) Anthony Ashnault, Rutgers (SO, 29-3)
5) Matt Manley, Missouri (JR, 27-6)
6) Micah Jordan, Ohio State (RS FR, 25-2)
7) Solomon Chishko, Virginia Tech (RS FR, 26-4)
8) Joey Ward, North Carolina (JR, 19-4)
Iowa did not qualify a wrestler at this weight. Hopefully we'll see Iowa back in action at this weight at next year's NCAA Tournament.
PREDICTION: ASHNAULT OVER MCKENNA
This is a topsy-turvy weight, so I think a non-scratch prediction seems to be in order. I like Ashnault to bring home a national championship for Rutgers in New York City with a tight win over Stanford super-frosh McKenna in the final.
1) Zain Retherford, Penn State (SO, 29-0)
2) Brandon Sorensen, Iowa (SO, 25-1)
3) Lavion Mayes, Missouri (JR, 26-2)
4) Matthew Cimato, Drexel (JR, 34-5)
5) Alec Pantaleo, Michigan (SO, 24-5)
6) Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern (JR, 13-7)
7) Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska (SR, 27-6)
8) Evan Henderson, North Carolina (SR, 22-5)
R1: Sorensen vs. UN Nick Barber, Eastern Michigan (JR, 18-9)
R2: Sorensen vs. likely #15 Daniel Neff, Lock Haven (SR, 26-8)
QF: Sorensen vs. likely #7 Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska (SR, 27-6) or #10 Mike DePalma, Kent State (SR, 23-7)
SF: Sorensen vs. likely #3 Lavion Mayes, Missouri (JR, 26-2) or #6 Jason Tsirtsis, Northwestern (JR, 13-7)
FIN: Sorensen vs. likely #1 Zain Retherford (SO, 29-0)
Sorensen has never wrestled Barber before. Barber doesn't have a great record, but most of his losses are very close (including a 2-0 loss against #3 Mayes), so while I expect Sorensen to win here, it may be closer than expected and it may be hard for Sorensen to get bonus points.
Sorensen is 1-0 against Neff, beating him 4-3 at the NCAA Tournament last year. All of Neff's losses this season came with him down at 141 lbs; he bumped up to 149 in December and has gone 19-0 since then. He's also wrestled no top 149ers in that span, though. Sorensen should win, although again, it could be tighter than desired.
Sorensen is 3-0 against Sueflohn, beating him 7-4 at Midlands this year, 6-5 at the dual meet, and 5-2 in the Big Ten Tournament. I'd expect Sorensen to make it 4-0 if they meet again, although it could be another fairly tight match. Sorensen and DePalma have never wrestled one another, but DePalma was the surprise champion at 149 lbs and seems to be wrestling at his best right now.
Sorensen has never wrestled Mayes before and is 3-2 versus T-shirt, beating him 3-2 at the dual last year, 3-1 at the Midlands Tournament this year, and via injury default at the dual this year (although Sorensen was leading the match prior to T-shirt's injury). Tsirtsis beat him 2-1 at the Big Ten Tournament last year and 3-1 at the NCAA Tournament last year. Another match with T-shirt would likely be a close, nervy match, possibly decided by a lone takedown. Mayes would present an intriguing challenge with his quickness and athleticism, although he might also be dealing with an injury that he suffered in the MAC Tournament.
Sorensen is 0-1 against Retherford, losing to him 4-0 in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament a few weeks ago. Sorensen looked like he had very few answers against Retherford, so hopefully he's devised some new tricks if they meet again on Saturday night.
PREDICTION: RETHERFORD OVER SORENSEN
I wish I could predict something different, but I didn't see anything from their match in the Big Ten Tournament final to make me think another outcome looks plausible, let alone likely. Sorensen will need to prove that he can actually score on Zain before I have any confidence in picking him to win a match over him.
1) Isaiah Martinez, Illinois (SO, 27-1)
2) Thomas Gantt, NC State (SR, 24-0)
3) Jason Nolf, Penn State (RS FR, 29-1)
4) Ian Miller, Kent State (SR, 20-1)
5) Dylan Palacio, Cornell (JR, 13-1)
6) Joseph Smith, Oklahoma State (FR, 31-3)
7) Cody Pack, South Dakota State (SR, 27-3)
8) Nick Brascetta, Virginia Tech (SR, 7-3)
13) Edwin Cooper, Jr., Iowa (SR, 17-9)
R1: Cooper vs UN Tyler Berger, Nebraska (21-11)
R2: Cooper vs likely #4 Ian Miller, Kent State (SR, 20-1)
QF: Cooper vs likely #5 Dylan Palacio, Cornell (13-1) or #12 Brian Murphy, Michigan (9-7)
Cooper is 1-0 against Berger, beating him 7-6 at the dual meet earlier this year. Cooper got off to a fast start in that match but was almost literally just hanging on for the win at the end. If he wrestles like he did at the start of that match for 7 minutes against Berger on Thursday, he should win comfortably. Anything else and things could be dicey.
Cooper could see Miller in R2 and that match-up will likely depend a lot on Miller's health -- he was forced to default out of the MAC Tournament a few weeks ago, possibly due to concussion concerns. If he's still limited in any way, Cooper may have a chance to score a huge upset here. If Miller is 100% full go, though, it's hard to see Cooper being able to stop Miller's offense often enough to get the win.
If Cooper gets by Miller, he'll likely see either Palacio or Murphy in the quarterfinals. He's never wrestled Palacio before and he's 0-1 against Murphy, losing to him 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament a few weeks ago. Palacio has lost just once since returning from injury in January (he tore up his knee at last year's NCAA Tournament), but has looked very solid in his comeback. Murphy edged Cooper a few weeks ago in a match largely decided by riding ability.
In the unlikely event Cooper won that match, he'd likely get #1 Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) in the semifinals. IMar smashed him via 21-5 technical fall earlier this year and I don't forsee a rematch going much better for Coop.
Coop's tournament is mainly about whether he can earn a top-8 finish and All-American honors. If he can get by Miller and make it to the quarterfinals, he'd only need one more win from that point to lock up a spot on the podium. If he loses in the quarters, he'd likely get #7 Cody Pack (South Dakota State), #10 John Boyle (American), or #15 Chad Walsh (Rider) in his Round of 12 match. Coop hasn't wrestled Boyle or Walsh but he went 0-1 against Pack this year, losing a 6-5 decision at the dual meet. If he loses to Miller in the second round, Coop would need to win three matches in the consos just to assure himself All-America honors, which could involve beating Palacio or Murphy in a match just to get to the Round of 12 match. That's tough sledding.
PREDICTION: MARTINEZ OVER NOLF
Martinez appeared to have a good gameplan in his rematch with Nolf and appeared more prepared than in their first match. Both men had scoring opportunities in that rematch, although Martinez seemed a bit closer to scoring on a few of his. That makes me think he can win the rubber match by a slim margin.
As for Coop, it's hard to effectively project his results without knowing Miller's health. Still, I'm predicting that Coop goes 2-2, going 1-1 in both the winners bracket and the consolation bracket. He finishes outside of All-America spots.
1) Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State (SR, 28-0)
2) Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin (JR, 25-0)
3) Bo Jordan, Ohio State (SO, 16-2)
4) Daniel Lewis, Missouri (RS FR, 25-4)
5) Max Rohskopf, North Carolina State (JR, 15-2)
6) Steven Rodrigues, Illinois (SR, 25-3)
7) Anthony Perrotti, Rutgers (SR, 21-3)
8) Chad Welch, Purdue (SR, 30-7)
UN Patrick Rhoads, Iowa (SR, 13-11)
R1: Rhoads vs #13 Jim Wilson, Stanford (JR, 24-6)
R2: Rhoads vs likely #4 Daniel Lewis, Missouri (RS FR, 25-4)
Rhoads has never wrestled Wilson before. Wilson is a solid opponent, but Rhoads definitely caught a good break drawing him in the first round. As an unseeded wrestler, he could have been drawn against any of the seeded wrestlers, including someone like Dieringer or the Jordans. I would have given him basically no chance at winning those matches. He's still an underdog versus Jordan, but he's got a fighting shot at least -- hopefully he wrestles with no fear and just goes for it .
Rhoads has also never wrestled Lewis, but I don't feel too optimistic about that match. Lewis is very good and, worse, he's an absolute monster on top. Rhoads has struggled mightily to get escapes in several matches this year, so that could be a really terrible match-up for Rhoads.
In order to sneak onto the podium, Rhoads is likely going to need 3-4 wins in the consolation bracket -- that seems like too much to ask for, frankly.
PREDICTION: DIERINGER OVER I. JORDAN
Dieringer is a beast and I think he'll make it three titles in a row this year. (Fun fact: if he does that, then Derek St. John will go down as the only wrestler to beat him in the NCAA Tournament.) The other side of the bracket should come down to another Jordan Bowl and Cousin Ike has won the last two and I don't see a reason to pick against him yet.
As for Rhoads, I think he goes 1-2 or maybe 2-2 with some good fortune, but I can't see him doing any more than that.
1) Bo Nickal, Penn State (RS FR, 29-1)
2) Brian Realbuto, Cornell (JR, 33-3)
3) Blaise Butler, Virginia (SR, 20-3)
4) Ethan Ramos, North Carolina (SO, 22-3)
5) Zach Brunson, Illinois (JR, 20-3)
6) Bryce Hammond, CSU Bakersfield (SR, 19-3)
7) Cody Walters, Ohio (SR, 26-4)
8) Zach Epperly, Virginia Tech (SO, 10-2)
13) Alex Meyer, Iowa (JR, 23-4)
R1: Meyer vs UN Gordon Wolf, Lehigh (RS FR, 13-10)
R2: Meyer vs likely #4 Ethan Ramos, North Carolina (22-3)
QF: Meyer vs likely #5 Zach Brunson, Illinois (JR, 20-3) or #12 Nate Jackson, Indiana (JR, 31-7)
SF: Meyer vs likely #1 Bo Nickal, Penn State (RS FR, 29-1)
Meyer has never wrestled Wolf before. That should be a winnable match for Meyer and he might even be able to work for bonus points if he's able to get some near fall points on the mat. (But I wouldn't exactly bank on any bonus points from Meyer.)
Meyer has also never wrestled Ramos before and Ramos is very tough -- only two of his losses this year were at 174 (he moved up from 165 in January) and he has bonus points in 88% of his wins this year. It will take Meyer's best match of the year to beat him. If Meyer re-discovers some of the late-match mojo that carried him to wins over Brunson and Blaise Butler last year... maybe? (Again, don't bank on it, based on recent results.)
If Meyer does somehow manage to win, he'd likely see either Brunson or Jackson in the quarterfinals. Meyer is 1-1 against Brunson; he beat Brunson with a pin in the final seconds at the dual meet last year, but got pinned himself in the first round at the Big Ten Tournament a few weeks ago. Meyer is also 1-1 against Jackson, beating him 8-7 at the dual meet this year, but losing 11-7 at the Big Ten Tournament. Either match-up would be very difficult for Meyer.
If Meyer is able to get by them, though, he'd likely face #1 Nickal in the semis. And it's too far-fetched for me to envision Meyer beating him on top of Ramos and Brunson/Jackson.
If Meyer loses to Ramos, he'll likely face either Brunson or Jackson in his second match in the consolation bracket. He'd need to win that match to get to a Round of 12 match, which could be against #7 Cody Walters (Ohio ), #10 Michael Ottinger (Central Michigan), or #15 Brian Harvey (Army). Walters blanked him 7-0 at the Midlands Tournament earlier this year.
If he can upset Ramos, but then loses to (likely) Brunson/Jackson, he'd likely face one of Walters, Ottinger, or Harvey in the Round of 12 match to make the podium. Any way you slice it, Meyer's odds of earning All-America honors don't look very good unless he discovers a vein of form that we simply haven't seen from him pretty much this entire season.
PREDICTION: NICKAL OVER REALBUTO
I was all primed to go for some slightly left-field results here and pick Hammond to beat Realbuto before losing to Nickal in the final... but then I looked at the records and saw that Hammond lost an 11-1 major decision to Realbuto earlier this season. Ouch. That took the starch out of my upset sails. I don't have enough confidence in Butler to pick him over Realbuto, either. So chalk it is. Bah.
As for Meyer... which Meyer will we get? Good Meyer could make some noise at this weight and maybe be a very pleasant surprise for Iowa fans. On the other hand, Bad Meyer could be a reminder of what we've seen from Meyer most of the season. I think 2-2 and no spot on the podium sounds about right for him here.
1) Gabe Dean, Cornell (JR, 29-1)
2) Sammy Brooks, Iowa (JR, 24-4)
3) Vic Avery, Edinboro (SR, 13-1)
4) Domenic Abounader, Michigan (JR, 23-2)
5) Zachary Zavatsky, Virginia Tech (RS FR, 23-5)
6) Blake Stauffer, Arizona State (SR, 23-2)
7) T.J. Dudley, Nebraska (JR, 20-6)
8) Nolan Boyd (JR, 28-6)
R1: Brooks vs UN John Lampe, Chattanooga (SR, 21-5)
R2: Brooks vs likely #15 Nick Gravina, Rutgers (SO, 21-9)
QF: Brooks vs likely #7 T.J. Dudley, Nebraska (JR, 20-6) or #10 Nate Brown, Lehigh (SR, 21-4)
SF: Brooks vs likely #3 Vic Avery, Edinboro (SR, 13-1) or #6 Blake Stauffer, Arizona State (SR, 23-2)
FIN: Brooks vs likely #1 Gabe Dean, Cornell (JR, 29-1)
Brooks and Lampe have never wrestled before; Lampe lost an 11-6 decision to Nick Moore at the dual last year when he was down at 165 lbs (!). Lampe has a nice record, but he hasn't wrestled many top guys (the best he's faced is #8 Boyd). I think Brooks beat him, although bonus points may be harder to come by than expected.
Brooks is 1-0 against Gravina, beating him 11-5 at the dual earlier this year. Gravina is tough, though, and has improved throughout the year; on the other hand, he also lost 8-2 to Dudley and 11-0 to Abounader at the Big Ten Tournament, so there does seem to be a gap between him and the top guys at 184. I think Brooks is one of the top guys at 184, so I expect him to get a win, although probably more in the "comfortable decision" category than "bonus points" category.
Brooks is 2-1 against Dudley, beating him 6-4 at a dual in 2014 and also 6-4 at the Big Ten Tournament final a few weeks ago, but losing via first period pin at the dual earlier this year. He's never faced Brown, who's probably a bit under-seeded at #10. Either match will be very tough for Brooks.
If he makes it to the semis, Brooks will likely face Avery or Stauffer. He's 1-0 against Avery, beating him 7-6 in overtime at Midlands last year. He's 0-1 against Stauffer, losing to him 7-2 at the NCAA Tournament last year. Again, either match will be very tough for Brooks if he gets there.
And if he makes it to the finals, Brooks would probably face Dean, who he's 0-2 against. He lost to him 6-2 at National Duals last year and 3-2 at the NCAA Tournament last year. Once again: another very tough match.
PREDICTION: BROOKS OVER BOYD
184 is such a brutally difficult weight to predict. There are returning All-Americans up and down this weight class -- and that doesn't even include guys like Brooks (who just missed A-A status last year) or Zavatsky (who's been excellent this year). There are landmines everywhere. So, no, Brooks didn't get a particularly easy draw... but I'm not sure what an easy draw would even look like at this draw. I'm going to cash in all of my homer chips and bank on #ThePowerOfTheMullet to carry Brooks through this weekend. But, seriously, literally almost any of the Top 10 guys at this weight have a legit shot at winning it.
1) Morgan McIntosh, Penn State (SR, 28-0)
2) J'Den Cox, Missouri (JR, 28-1)
3) Brett Pfarr, Minnesota (JR, 35-3)
4) Nathan Burak, Iowa (SR, 23-2)
5) Conner Hartmann, Duke (SR, 26-1)
6) Jared Haught, Virginia Tech (SO, 17-7)
7) Brett Harner, Princeton (JR, 33-3)
8) Aaron Studebaker, Nebraska (JR, 21-9)
R1: Burak vs UN Trent Noon, Northern Colorado (SR, 24-8)
R2: Burak vs likely #13 Jacob A Smith, West Virginia (SO, 30-10)
QF: Burak vs likely #5 Conner Hartmann, Duke (SR, 26-1) or #12 Michael Boykin, North Carolina State (SO, 17-9)
SF: Burak vs likely #1 Morgan McIntosh, Penn State (SR, 28-0)
Burak has never wrestled Noon before. Noon has a solid record but little experience against top 197ers. If Burak gets off to a good start, I think he can pick up a win here, although I don't feel confident about bonus points.
Burak has never wrestled Smith before, either. He has more experience against top guys than Noon, though, albeit of the "close loss" variety for the most part. Burak will need to be sharp to avoid the upset, but I think he can do that.
Burak is 0-1 against Hartmann, losing to him 4-2 in sudden victory at the NCAA Tournament two years ago. He's 2-0 against Boykin, beating him 8-2 at the Midlands Tournament this year and 9-4 at the dual this year.
Burak is 0-5 against McIntosh, losing to him 3-2 at the Big Ten Tournament in 2014, 3-1 at the NCAA Tournament in 2014, 7-1 at the dual meet in 2015, 6-3 at the NCAA Tournament in 2015, and 3-2 at the Big Ten Tournament two weeks ago. He has, infamously, never scored a takedown on McIntosh. Bit of a problem, that.
PREDICTION: MCINTOSH OVER COX
I wish I could say that I saw Burak finally getting over the hump against McIntosh -- and what a time this would be to do that -- but I just can't see that. Burak will have a difficult time just getting to the semis. I think the other half of the bracket comes down to Cox and Pfarr; Cox beat him 4-1 earlier this year and seems to have the edge there.
As for Burak... if he loses to McIntosh, he'll finish no lower than 6th, which would be a new personal best for him (he finished 8th in 2014 and 7th in 2015). If he loses in the quarters to Hartmann, he could see #10 Max Huntley (Michigan) or #15 Nate Rotert (South Dakota State) in the Round of 12 match to get onto the podium. Burak is 3-0 against Huntley, beating him 5-1 at the dual last year, 4-3 at the Big Ten Tournament last year, and 6-5 at the NCAA Tournament last year. He's never faced Rotert before. I think Burak makes the podium with a finish anywhere from 3rd to 6th. I'll say 3rd, with a win over Pfarr in the 3rd place match.
1) Nick Gwiazdowski, NC State (SR, 29-0)
2) Kyle Snyder, Ohio State (SO, 6-0)
3) Ty Walz, Virginia Tech (JR, 23-2)
4) Austin Marsden, Oklahoma State (SR, 27-1)
5) Adam Coon, Michigan (JR, 18-2)
6) Denzel Dejournette, Appalachian State (JR, 31-2)
7) Amarveer Dhesi, Oregon State (SO, 27-3)
8) Max Wessell, Lehigh (SR, 24-4)
R1: Stoll vs UN Boyce Cornwell, Gardner Webb (JR, 22-9)
R2: Stoll vs likely #6 Denzel Dejournette, Appalachian State (JR, 31-2)
QF: Stoll vs likely #3 Ty Walz, Virginia Tech (JR, 23-2)
SF: Stoll vs likely #2 Kyle Snyder, Ohio State (SO, 6-0)
Stoll has not wrestled any of those potential opponents before. Honestly, his results at this weight likely come down to how well he's recovered from his knee injury from a few weeks ago. I think a healthy Stoll beats Cornwell and could get by Dejournette; from what I understand, he's a bigger heavyweight and Stoll does pretty well against those guys. Not sure I'd pick a healthy Stoll to get by Walz in the quarters. But a Stoll that isn't 100%? Jeez, that's hard to say. I'd love to see him grit out an All-America run, but if he loses to Dejournette, that will take three wins in the consos. If gets by Dejournette but loses to Walz, he'd need just one win, likely against #8 Wessell or #9 Kroells. Some tough sledding for Sammy there.
PREDICTION: SNYDER OVER GWIAZDOWSKI
I am actually legitimately excited for a heavyweight match. Is this real life? But Snyder-Gwiz could be one hell of a thrilling heavyweight match, since they are anything but your usual shaved bears.
As for Stoll... again, I'd love to see a gritty, hard fought All-America run out of him. But unless his leg is a lot healthier than I suspect it is, I just can't see it happening. I think he goes 2-2 or so.
125: Gilman CHAMP
133: Clark RUNNER-UP
149: Sorensen RUNNER-UP
157: Cooper 2-2, no All-America
165: Rhoads 1-2, no All-America
174: Meyer 2-2, no All-America
184: Brooks CHAMP
197: Burak 3RD
285: Stoll 2-2, no All-America
Can Iowa contend for a title with 5 All-Americans? If they have five All-Americans like this -- yes. Four finalists, including two champs, would give Iowa around 80 points. A 3rd place finish would be worth another 12-15 points. The rest of the guys probably won't score much -- maybe no more than 5-10 points. That would put Iowa right around 100-105 points -- which might be enough to put them in the ballpark of the team title race.
The problem, of course, is Penn State, who I've projected for five finalists -- and three champions. And, frankly, the two guys I have losing in the finals could certainly win those matches. Nico is 2-0 against Gilman and Nolf beat Martinez earlier this season. Penn State is also likely to get bonus points from those five guys -- and this presumes that their non-finalists do little at their weights (which is possible, since they got some tough draws).
A lot needs to happen for Iowa to win a title on Saturday night -- they need their studs to wrestle about as close to the peak of their abilities as possible, they probably need at least one of Penn State's studs to stub his toe on the way to the finals and get upset, and they might still need a surprise run from someone (Meyer or Cooper seem like the best bets, pending the health of Stoll's knee). That's asking for a lot. The safe bet is still that Penn State will be celebrating a fifth title in six years on Saturday. But who knows -- maybe we'll see a truly memorable run out of the Hawkeyes this weekend.