NCAA Brackets Are Out!! (no, not those brackets)
Overall, there isn’t a ton of drama at the top of these brackets. With the exception of 133 and 149, the Big Ten Champ is unquestionably the top guy in that weight class. That happens when the Big Ten goes nearly chalk and the only “upset” was an Olympian at # 2 in the 197 class who was only behind Schultz because of his recent change in weight classification. Overall, the Big Ten was very well respected by the seeding committee with only a few exceptions. The interwebz thinks Cardani and Bartlett got snubbed on at large selections, but the seedings reflected the Big Ten’s status as the premier wrestling conference.
Iowa is one of three schools (Lehigh, Missouri) that qualified a wrestler in all ten weight classes. Penn State Nittany Lions, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Minnesota Gophers each grabbed nine spots. Purdue Boilermakers, Michigan Wolverines, and Michigan State Spartans were next with 8 participants. A University in the state of Ohio and the Northwestern Wildcats had seven. Illinois Fighting Illini and Rutgers got five guys into the dance. The Wisconsin Badgers got four and Indiana Hoosiers three. Let’s see, that’s thirteen teams. I feel like I’m forgetting someone, but surely there is not a Big Ten team so crappy they didn’t qualify a single wrestler. Oh well, moving along.
125: Zero drama here about who gets the 1. This is Spencer Lee’s world, but he’s kind enough to share it with us. With no championships held last year, we don’t have a ton of returning champs, but Lee is seeking his third title. The other 32 guys are hoping they are on the other side of the bracket so they can fight for second place. I expected Drew Hildebrandt, the 10-0 MAC champ to get the 2, but the NCAA chose Sam Latona, the 10-0 ACC champ from Virginia Tech instead in a slight surprise.
133: Daton Fix, fresh off his suspension for doping, takes the #1 seed here. Don’t worry though. Greg Gard says that he is a really great kid who works his ass off. Next up is the B1G champ Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State. I’m happy to see DeSanto at the 4 seed which puts him on the opposite side from RBY.
141: Jaydin Eierman, the Missouri transfer, who now wrestles for the Iowa Hawkeyes, gets the nod here. His unconventional style makes for must see TV. Nick Lee, the #2 seed in the Big Tens, will be the #2 seed again at nationals. Rivera gets the three, so same top seeds as B1G.
149: Sammy Sasso from Ohio State University takes the #1 seed. You would think Sasso was a little confused and thought he was committing to Oklahoma State from his wrestling style, but he is going to be tough to beat despite constantly having close matches. The #2 is Austin O’Connor from UNC. Missouri Tiger Brock Mauller got the three seed here, but he gets the 2 overall seed in the best wrestling name tournament to bROCK HARDy from Lincoln.
157: Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin cruised to the B1G title and a #1 seed. Hayden Hidlay is the #2 from the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Throw in David Carr and Jesse Dellavechia from Iowa State and Rider and you have undefeated champs from the Big Ten, ACC, Big XII, and MAC at the top of this bracket. Kaleb Young and Brayton Lee are 5-6 seeds.
165: Alex Marinelli will attempt to avoid getting upset as the #1 seed again like he did in 2019. Mekhi Lewis of VT, who upset the Bull in 2019, was in the running for a 1 until he was upset in the dual with Pitt. Anthony Valencia from Arizona State has the 2 seed and will try to follow in his brother’s footsteps. (I mean by winning a title, not getting suspended for recreational drug use)
174: Michael Kemerer will again be the favorite in a loaded field. But really, the toughest guys he will face are the ones he already beat at the Big Tens. Demetrius Romero of Utah Valley got the 2 seed, but there are at least four lower seeded guys from the Big Ten I would pick in a match against him. Let’s not forget how kindly the Big Ten treated Tate Orndorff, the highly ranked HWT from Utah Valley went from top 5 18-4 last year to unranked 7-8 this year. Penn State’s golden child is feeling snubbed I’m sure, but Carter Starocci will have to go earn it from the 3 spot. Labriola, Massa, and Romero claimed the 4, 5, and 7.
184: Aaron Brooks is really, really good and that’s why he gets the #1 spot. We have another Hidlay, this time it’s Trent for the #2 spot. At this point, I have no idea what to expect from 184, except for #CHAOS. I wish Venz wasn’t the 8 so he would potentially get a rematch with Brooks later than the quarters.
197: Myles Amine from Michigan by way of San Marino takes the #1 spot here. He had a fourth and two third place finishes at 174 in 2017-2019, took 2020 off to wrestle in the Olympics for his homeland before that didn’t happen and came back to finish up his collegiate career at 184. Except he came out at 197 and then still took the title there. Eric Schultz was the runner up at the Big Ten and got the 2 seed. That’s a small surprise as some expected Pac (number I can’t keep up with) champ Kordell Norfleet from ASU to get that seed.
Dad Bod: Gable Steveson is a gawdamm national treasure and you need to appreciate him despite the fact that he foolishly chose to wrestle for Minnesota. He’s the 1 and poor Mason Parris who is a fine wrestler who had the misfortune of sharing his career with Steveson gets the 2. He reached the final easily and was clowned at the Big Ten and I fully expect the same result at NCAAs. My wife was in the room when I was watching the finals and she noted that Parris looked like the biggest arrogant douche in the world. I replied, I don’t know, he looks like every other guy that goes to school at michigan to me. Maybe Cass is a little undervalued at 5, but he can still go as far as meeting one of the top two and then lose no matter his seed. I think he’s a solid bet to place third though.
Overall, a pretty solid job by the NCAA (choke, gasp, damn it hurts to say that) Expected team points have Iowa winning in a landslide, garnering nearly as many points as 2nd and 3rd combined.