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NCAA Wrestling Championships preview: 125-141 Pounds

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Looking at the Big Ten guys who look to find their way to the podium this week

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

125 Pounds

Big Ten Qualifiers: 1. Nick Suriano (MICH) | 6. Eric Barnett (WIS) | 8. Pat McKee (MINN) | 9. Devin Schroder (PUR) | 10. Michael DeAugustino (NW) | 12. Malik Heinselman (OHST) | 13. Drake Ayala (IOWA) | 16. Drew Hildebrandt (PSU) | 23. Dylan Shawver (RUT) | 27. Justin Cardani (ILL)

Atinat: Sure is sad to see a 125 bracket without Spencer Lee. In his stead, though, Nick Suriano has taken place as the favorite at the weight. He’s followed closely by two EIWA guys, though, with Cornell’s Vitali Arujau and Princeton’s Pat Glory, who are a combined 30-2 (being each other’s losses). Probably every Big Ten guy has an outside shot at All-American honors though, so let’s get into their paths.

Starting with the toughest path, Cardani draws Barnett in round one. The two have not wrestled this year, and split their series last year. Winner moves on to face likely the eleven-seed Brandon Kaylor of Oregon State, who I honestly know nothing about. He’s got good losses though, twice to Courtney and twice to other NCAA qualifiers. Dylan Shawver, the 23-seed, gets Michael DeAugustino in round one. Somehow, those two haven’t met either! The winner gets either Trevor Mastrogiovanni (OkSt) or Kysen Terukina (IaSt), two tough-but-beatable customers. Drew Hildebrandt draws Anthony Noto of Lock Haven, who is 29-1 with his only loss coming to 4-time NQ Gage Curry. This could be a tough draw, or it could be super easy, because the MAC competition is tough to judge against. CMU-transfer Hildebrandt knows that, though! Noto is a freshman, so the two didn’t overlap in the MAC. Winner probably gets Nick Suriano, who awaits a pigtail winner for his round one bout.

Drake Ayala gets Fabian Gutierrez of Chattanooga, and Malik Heinselman gets Taylor LaMont in two round one matches that absolutely should not be slept on. LaMont hasn’t wrestled to his potential this year and is still dangerous, and we don’t know how Ayala’s shoulder will look. If Ayala wins, he’ll probably get 4-seed Brandon Courtney (last year’s runner-up to Spencer Lee), and if Heinselman wins, he’d see 5-seed Killian Cardinale of West Virginia. Pat McKee gets Caleb Smith of App State, and Devin Schroder gets Sam Latona of Virginia Tech. Latona started this year ranked in the top ten, but is 12-7 on the year. If both B1G guys win, they’ll meet in the quarterfinals.

I’d be pretty shocked if anyone but Suriano, Vito, or Glory won this weight, but you never know. Certainly this weight is more open than it was with Spencer at the helm. Heinselman, Ayala, and Barnett strike me as guys with outside chances at semifinal appearances, but anyone running though Suriano or Arujau’s brackets is going to have to make their run in the consolation side.

133 Pounds

1. Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) | 5. Austin DeSanto (Iowa) | 6. Dylan Ragusin (Michigan) | 7. Lucas Byrd (Illinois) | 8. Rayvon Foley (MSU) | 10. Chris Cannon (Northwestern) | 13. Brock Hudkins (Indiana) | 22. Joey Olivieri (Rutgers) | 26. Matt Ramos (Purdue) | 29. Jake Gliva (Minnesota) | 31. Kyle Burwick (Wisconsin)

HWAHSQB: At 133, the B1G qualified a whopping 11 wrestlers, including four grapplers who earned All-American honors last year. Last year’s national champ, Roman Bravo-Young (RBY) is undefeated and a clear #1 seed. Austin DeSanto, who has lost 5 matches in the last two seasons, but they were all against the #1 and #2 ranked RBY and Oklahoma State Cowboy Daton Fix earned the 3 seed by beating the ACC and Pac-XX champions in last years NCAA by scores of 10-6 and 19-4 tech fall to place third. Hold up a minute, seriously??? ADS got the fifth seed behind the two guys he smoked in last year’s tournament despite not taking any losses this year except to the last year’s finalists? Do you know just how bad it has to be for me of all people to say Iowa got hosed? Well, Austin DeSanto got hosed. Rounding out the returning All-Americans, we’ve got Lucas Byrd at the 7 and Chris Cannon at the 10. Slotting in ahead of those two based on wins against them in the B1G tourney are Dylan Ragusin at 6 and Rayvon Foley at the 8.

We’ve only got one B1G on B1G matchup in the first round as Byrd and Ramos square off to open things up. Byrd handled Ramos easily with a 5-0 victory in the dual and I expect he’ll do something similar again. The winner there likely gets Chris Cannon next. Byrd beat Chris Cannon 8-2 for his third win in three tries against the Wildcat. Other probable B1G bouts would be RBY-Foley in the quarters and RBY-ADS in the semis.

Last year’s NCAA went chalk at the top and I think we will see a rematch in the finals this year with RBY toeing the line against Fix. I think DeSanto repeats his third place finish as well. I’ll predict Byrd, Ragusin, and Foley to take home All-American honors and Cannon to fall just short in the blood round. I’ve got Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech, Michael McGee of Arizona State to place and 12 seed Mickey Phillippi of Pittsburgh to finally break through and earn All-American status after falling in the blood round twice previously.

141 Pounds

1. Nick Lee (PSU) | 2. Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) | 3. Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers) | 10. Jakob Bergeland (Minnesota) | 17. Dylan D’Emilio (MSU) | 19. Chad Red (Nebraska) | 20. Parker Filius (Purdue) | 24. Stevan Micic (Michigan) | Frankie Tal Shahar (Northwestern) | 27. Joseph Zargo (Wisconsin)

HWAHSQB: First thing that pops out at me here beyond Surprise! there’s another Nittany Lion undefeated Nittany Lion returning champ at the 1, is that the B1G claimed three of five possible at-large slots. The B1G didn’t earn as many auto qualifying spots due to some good wrestlers missing time, but the NCAA did get the right guys in the tournament at the end of the day.

Diving a little deeper, there are FOUR! 4X All-Americans from the B1G in this bracket. The COVID year is giving people a shot at a fifth time on the podium and this weight class is loaded with them. The top three seeds are all four time AAs as well as 19 seed Chad Red and 24 seed Stevan Micic is a 3X All-American. Giving a 4X AA a 19 seed and 3X AA a 24 seed seems a little disrespectful, but neither of these guys have looked the part of All Americans thus far. Micic graduated high school in 2014 and is still wrestling. He took a redshirt year as a Wildcat in Evanston, took an Olympic redshirt, then wrestled as Wolverine for three years placing 4, 2, and 3rd at 133, took another Olympic redshirt, took a medical redshirt last year and he’s back at it this year. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

No B1G on B1G violence in the opening round here and not really any likely B1G matchups until the semis where Seabass and the Riddler could go and the winner of that seeing Lee in the finals.

Hopefully, Jaydin Eierman’s knee is fully healthy and the Riddler is ready to go 100%, because I would absolutely love to see another Eierman-Lee final. Both those guys compete at such a high level. Eierman has finished 5, 4, 3, and 2nd in his four NCAA tournaments. Clearly, the logical progression says he takes the title this year. However, I’m taking Lee as the health questions for the Riddler give me pause. I’ll take Seabass for third and Micic making a run to the blood round and falling short and no other B1G AAs.

Have you entered our pick’em challenge? If not, make sure to do so before action kicks off on Thursday!