8 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Starocci (PSU), #2 Massa (MI), #3 Labriola (NE), #4 Kemerer (IA), #7 Smith (OSU), #18 O’Reilly (MN), #21 Nijenhuis (PU), #30 McNally (WI)
Labriola’s season-ending upset of Kemerer sure threw a wrench in this one. With Kemerer and Starocci now on the same side of the bracket, it’s pretty unlikely for Kemerer to get the two-seed at NCAAs. But anyways, we have 8 allocations and 8 ranked wrestlers, and a really good top 4. Starocci manages to win all his matches without any dominance at all, so his record is really good but I’d never feel confident picking him. McNally is the 11-seed in the pre-seeds, giving him a first round matchup with Bailee O’Reilly (who majored him in their dual matchup), so there’s a chance he doesn’t qualify for NCAAs and leaves the door open for Fisher, Solic, or Shannon. The other seven ranked guys are pretty confidently in, according to me I guess. Idk, weird things can happen in March.
12 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Brooks (PSU), #2 Amine (MI), #6 Romero (OSU), #8 Cochran (MD), #9 Poznanski (RU), #16 Washington (IU), #17 Braunagel (ILL), #19 Venz (NE), #20 Assad (IA), #22 Salazar (MN), #23 Malczewski (MSU), #27 Weiler (WI), #28 Lyon (PU)
HWAHSQB: Whoa! This weight class is just a damn meat grinder. Twelve auto qualifiers is a lot, but there will still be at least one ranked B1G wrestler sweating out the NCAA at large selections. 13 ranked B1G guys. Jack Jessen of Nern, what are you doing? C’mon.
Ok, so the top two guys are pretty clear cut. Brooks and Amine are awesome and they will be the finalist. Their match earlier this year contained the best scramble of the entire season in my opinion. Seriously, watch this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlAza6PcxAc I thought Amine was going to score about four times in that final scramble even after I’d seen it a half dozen times.
After that though, the waters get murkier than the tap water in Flint in a hurry. There is no other weight class that comes close to this. What other weight class has the 12 and 13 preseeds (Braunagel and Lyon) owning wins over the 4 preseed (Venz) A guy who beat last year’s champ at 174 is the 9th preseed. It’s going to be wild. Put me down for Romero as third and anyone except Jessen wouldn’t surprise me at 4th. I suppose I have to pick someone so I’ll call Poznanski 4th and Washington 5th. As far as the ranked guy waiting for an at large, I’ll go with Salazar.
11 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Dean (PSU), #3 Schultz (NE), #4 Warner (IA), #5 Caffey (MSU), #11 Brucki (MI), #12 Bulsak (RU), #13 Penola (PU), #20 Amos (WI), #23 Hoffman (OSU), #28 Davison (NU), #29 Smith (MD)
Kind of...: 11 auto bids makes for a bit less drama, but this is fairly wide open. Dean’s loss to Caffey means Schultz is the likely 1-seed, which gets him a semifinal against Warner, who seems destined to lose 3-2. That also means Caffey and Dean are on target for a rematch in the other semifinal. Brucki or Bulsak could crash the party, but it’s unlikely, especially for Bulsak who struggled late against quality opposition.
In terms of qualifiers, it wouldn’t be shocking if the 11 ranked guys grab the bids, but don’t sleep on Michial Foy (MINN). He banked an early season win over #6 Tanner Sloan, and he knocked off Hoffman last time out. He’s has a reasonable argument for an at-large bid in any event. As would any of the ranked guys if Foy grabs an auto bid. Not so much Willham (IND) and Wroblewski (ILL).
Anyway, I like Dean to avenge his defeat to Caffey but fall to Schultz in the title match. The top four guys are likely to get four of the top 5 seeds at the NCAAs (Stephen Buchanan of Wyoming, who defeated Schultz) will get the other one. With A.J. Ferrari out of action, somebody is going to seize the moment in a couple of weeks. The Big Tens may give a glimpse.
9 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Steveson (MN), #3 Parris (MI), #4 Cassioppi (IA), #5 Kerkvliet (PSU), #10 Davison (NU), #11 Lance (NE), #12 Hillger (WI), #13 Orndorff (OSU), #17 Luffman (ILL)
Can anyone beat Gable Steveson? HA! The story this year was Kerkvliet beating Mason Parris, then losing to Tony Cassioppi to send Parris to the 4-seed. Second place is a big prize this year, as it likely means the 3-seed at NCAAs and no semifinal matchup with the Destroyer of Worlds.
Elsewhere, we have 9 ranked wrestlers and 9 bids, and the gap between 9-seed Luffman and 10-seed Bullock is fairly large. In fact, the preseeds are incredibly straightforward, with the only upsets being that 13-seed Wilton beat 10-seed Bullock, and 5-seed Davison and 6-seed Lance split their two matches this year.
Accordingly, I have this pretty chalky, though the 2-4 seeds promise a lot of fun with a Cassioppi-Kerkvliet rematch and a potential match with Parris for the loser.