Here are your 2023 NCAA wrestling brackets!
And here are your “writers’” reactions:
Kind of...: Spencer Lee (Iowa) is the overwhelming favorite and that means, 9-seed Eric Barnett’s (Wisconsin) path to the podium goes through the consolation round. A Lee-Ramos semifinal would be great, but Ramos (Purdue) will need to ease by 5-seed Caleb Smith (App. St.). Don’t know that any non-Lee B1G wrestler can beat Pat Glory (Princeton), but 3-seed Liam Cronin (Nebraska) should have a chance if he keeps his current form.
Atinat: Obviously this is Spencer's weight, and they couldn't draw this any way that wouldn't make me think that. So let's talk about other guys! Lots of tough draws here for Big Ten guys. DeAugustino gets Jore Volk off the bat, who is was a U20 team trials champ in freestyle. Braxton Brown gets Noah Surtin, who wrestles high-intensity, streaky matches. Obviously Medley would see Spencer round 2, but somebody has to. I think Pay Glory got about as tough of a draw as you could expect, with his path (if chalk) being Witcraft-Ungar-Kaylor-Cronin-Lee.
Kind of...: 2-seed Daton Fix (Okie St.) is a three-time runner-up, but there’s little reason to think he’s solved 2-time champ—and 1-seed—Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State), who looks better than ever. Brody Teske (Iowa) got hosed with a 24-seed. And that the 9-seed, his first round opponent, is Mickey Phillippi (Pitt). He’s the only other active wrestler to have beaten Fix, for crying out loud. 13-seed Chris Cannon (Northwestern) has a reasonable shot at beating 4-seed Michael McGee (Az. State). Lucas Byrd (Illinois), didn’t quite break out this season, but his draw as the 10-seed is probably better than Aaaron Nagao’s (Minnesota) as the 8-seed, despite Nagao beating Byrd at the B1G’s. Expect Byrd, Nagao, and Jesse Mendez (Ohio State) to be in the hunt for All-American honors.
Atinat: Yeah, Teske got hosed. But this (and a couple other guys down the line) shows that the NCAA thinks the regular season DOES matter, and guys should try to wrestle more matches. And that's good for wrestling. Anyways, Kai Orine of NCSt has a tough draw with LaMont then Ragusin. I think Byrd is a lot better than 10, but I also think he has a good path to the quarterfinals.
HWAHSQB: I think Nagao having a great B1G probably got him overseeded, but maybe he’s just got things figured out. Byrd at the 10 seed is probably a little underseeded in my mind. His likely second round opponent is Michael Colaoccio from Penn, who lost to Byrd in the NCAAs last year, but beat him earlier this year. I like Byrd in that matchup and think he probably gets sent to the consolation bracket by Fix. I have seen nothing this year to make me think RBY won’t beat Fix in the finals again.
Kind of...: Real Woods (Iowa) grabbed the 1-seed over Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez, who was also undefeated. The likeliest obstacle in the way of a finals show down is probably 3-seed Cole Matthews, of Pitt. But that’s Alirez’s half. Woods can’t complain too much about his draw. He’s already beaten 4-seed Brock Hardy (Nebraska). Beau Bartlett (PSU) wound up at 6, and a quarter with Matthews should be fun. Can’t say I’m a fan of any other B1G wrestler’s All-American chances, but squint hard enough, and maybe 12-seed Parker Filius (Purdue) can make a run?
Atinat: I don't know if I think Real should be the one, but I'm certainly not complaining. Look for Jakob Bergeland to score the round 1 upset over Carter Young, who injury-defaulted out of Big 12s. I'm of the opinion that every 6 or higher is a contender at this weight, but there's a steep dropoff after that.
Kind of...: Austin Gomez’s (Wisconsin) injury still cuts me to my core. And now he’s the 15-seed, i.e., looking at 2-seed Sammy Sasso (OSU) in the second round. Yianni Diakomihalis looks primed to win his fourth title, but the draw will pose some challenges. I think 9-seed Jonathan Millner (App. St.) will get by 8-seed Max Murin (Iowa) to meet Yianni in the quarters, and thus Murin will need to work through the consolation round if he wants to make All-American for the first time. And 5-seed Paniro Johnson (Iowa State) could catch Yianni on the right day. But probably not. 11-seed Michael Blockhus (Minnesota) vs. 6-seed Brock Mauller (Mizzou) should be a dynamite second round matchup. If 13-seed Shane Van Ness (PSU) gets past 4-seed Caleb Henson (Va. Tech), then you will know Cael’s black magic still works. Finally, while Sasso is favored to make the finals, 7-seed Yahya Thomas (NW) took him to TB-3 in February, so keep an eye out.
Atinat: Is this where I mention that Paniro took Yianni to SV in New Orleans? Speaking of New Orleans, looking back at my notes from the ISU-PSU dual, and my comment from Johnson-Van Ness was "I could watch that match ten more times." It's a potential quarterfinal. Millner is a helluva draw for Murin. But so is 10-seed Jaden Abas for Yahya. Miller-Blockhus for a shot at Brock Mauller should be fun. This is a fun weight, but I don't really see any good shots to take.
Kind of...: Austin O’Connor (UNC) is a worthy 1-seed, but here comes PSU frosh Levi Haines as the 2-seed. Haines better not sleep on 7-seed Bryce Andonian (Va. Tech), a potential quarterfinal opponent, and Nebraska’s Peyton Robb, the 3-seed, will be eager for revenge if they meet in the semis. 9-seed Will Lewan will have a significant challenge in NC State’s Ed Scott, the 8-seed. And 12-seed Kendall Coleman fell to a 12-seed, and a second round matchup with 5-seed Josh Humphreys. Ouch. Iowa’s Cobe Siebrecht wound up at 14, opposite 19-seed Garrett Model, of Wisconsin. Siebrecht could make a run in the westlebacks, as he’s probably not beating Robb. 11-seed Chase Saldate (Michigan State) does has a fighting chance to make the quarters.
Atinat: Jacques-Artalona in round one? That'll be fun. Gimmie the Quaker. Keep an eye on Derek Holschlag, as I'm a fan of his and not terribly impressed with Chase Saldate. 4-seed Jared Franek lost to Robb in his first match of the year and has won 22 straight since. Look for him to take out O'Connor. Oh man, I checked to see if Derek Gilcher could do damage on the backside, and if he loses to Haines, his first consolation match would be against the Jacques/Artalona loser. Tough luck for a wrestler in good form.
Kind of...: My favorite weight, hands down. And only partly because of 3-seed Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin). David Carr (Iowa State) the 2021 champ at 157 is your 1-seed, fresh off defeating defending champ, and 2-seed, Keegan O’Toole (Mizzou) twice in the last three weeks, most recently with a pin in sudden victory (!!!). 6-seed Patrick Kennedy (Iowa) just beat 11-seed Cameron Amine (Michigan) at the B1G’s, and he’s going to have to do it again if he wants another crack at Hamiti in the quarters. Damn, that’s a tough quarter. 13-seed Alex Facundo (PSU), can’t be complaining too much, as 4-seed Julian Ramirez is not a bad second round option, especially given that 2021 champ (and 2022 runner-up) Shane Griffith (Stanford) fell to the 9-seed (and a second round matchup with 8-seed Matthew Olguin (Ore. St.), Griffith’s recent nemesis). I like Facundo to pull that upset, but 5-seed Quincy Monday (Princeton) to beat Facundo in the quarters.
Atinat: This is probably my favorite weight, too. I'm a big fan of David Carr and Keegan O'Toole both, and this weight also has Shane Griffith, Dean Hamiti, Patrick Kennedy, Quincy Monday, Cam Amine, Peyton Hall (a 14 seed at 23-4??)... man. Don't forgot your heart pills. There's so much I could talk about here. Good thing we're doing full previews later.
Kind of...: PSU’s Carter Starocci is your 1-seed and prohibitive favorite. No reason to think 2-seed Mike Labriola (Nebraska) is ready to beat him (and he better look out for 7-seed Peyton Mocco (Mizzou) in the quarters), so maybe cheer for 3-seed Mekhi Lewis (Va. Tech) to get a chance to run back last year’s classic final. Really good 8/9 matchup possible with Baillee O’Reilly (Minnesota) and Edmond Ruth (Illinois) likely to renew acquaintances. We all want good things for Indiana’s Donnell Washington, but a 17-seed and second round showdown with Starocci is NOT good. 11-seed Nelson Brands (Iowa) and 6-seed Ethan Smith (Ohio State) have never met, but they might in the second round. If Brands wins that, the podium is not out of the question.
Atinat: You know, Washington is the only active wrestler with a win over Starocci... Okay I'll stop. Yeah, this is Starocci's weight to lose. But he still has to wrestle five matches, just like everyone else. I don't hate Brands's draw. If Fisher beats Pasiuk, Mekhi would probably need to beat five Big Ten guys to win a title. That's poetic.
HWAHSQB: Starocci is winning this. He just is better than everyone else. For my Illini, I would really have rather seen Edmond Ruth in the 10 seeds bracket, which went to former Badger Rocky Jordan. I just don’t like Ruth against Gopher Bailee.
Kind of...: INTRIGUE!!! Two-time champ Aaron Brooks (PSU) was given the 3-seed, behind 2-seed Trent Hidlay and 1-seed Parker Keckeisen (UNI). Hidlay and Keckeisen split two matchups this year, and Keckeisen beat Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) twice, while Coleman beat Brooks, so you can see the logic. Still, I have to think Brooks is the betting favorite. 8-seed Matt Finesilver (Michigan) and 9-seed Isiah Salazar (Minnesota) are set to meet in the second round, matchup that didn’t happen after Salazar MFF’d at the B1G’s. Neither is likely to beat Keckeisen in the quarters, but stranger things have happened. 12-seed Abe Assad (Iowa) probably won’t get by Coleman in the second round, so welcome to the consolation crapshoot. Ditto 13-seed Lenny Pinto (Nebraska) who would have to get through Oregon State’s Trey Munoz, the 4-seed.
Atinat: Alright, you're not gonna hear me complain on Penn State's behalf very often, so get your screen-shooters ready. Brooks anywhere but the one is fucking ridiculous. Yes, he lost a match three months ago, but he also won a national championship twelve months ago, and another one twelve before that. Is that the only thing that matters? Of course not. But the guy only has three collegiate losses! If Keckeisen or Hidlay were undefeated, I'd get it. And yes, their losses to each other are better than Brooks's to Marcus Coleman. I don't care. It probably won't matter, but it shouldn't be this damn hard to seed this right, especially at the top. And I'm a Panther fan, ffs.
Kind of...: INTRIGUE!! Max Dean’s (PSU) loss to Silas Allred (Nebraska) sends the defending champ all the way to the 9-seed and...a second round rematch with 8-seed Allred. The winner of that is looking at 1-seed Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt). At least PSU’s title run will have a degree of difficulty to it, huh? 5-seed Michael Beard (Lehigh) vs. 12-seed Zac Braunagel (Illinois) could be pretty special, and the winner would have a real shot against either 4-seed Ethan Laird (Rider) or 13-seed Yonger Bastida (Iowa State). 2022 runner-up Jacob Warner (Iowa) checks in at a disappointing 14-seed, but 3-seed Rocky Elam (Mizzou) is far from out of reach, provided Warner can get by 19-seed Cameron Caffey (MSU). This is a wide open weight, so maybe, just maybe, 11-seed Jaxon Smith (Maryland Terrapins) can make some noise for the Terps?
Atinat: For as much as the seeds aren't supposed to be about matchups, the Griffin-Olguin and Dean-Allred draws sure are great matchups. Anyways, I just went to bat for Brooks, so Dean can kick sand. Kidding, but I do agree with the seed. This weight feels like the champion will be drawn out of a hat. So give me... 8-seed Silas Allred. I just got that from a random number generator, but are you gonna tell me that can't happen? How about... 5-seed Michael Beard? Or... 10-seed Jacob Cardenas?
HWAHSQB: I love this weight simply because about 10 guys could win it and 16 have very good chances to AA.
Kind of...: Michigan’s Mason Parris earned the 1-seed with a second win over PSU’s Greg Kerkvliet, and deserves to be tabbed the favorite. Kerkvliet fell to the 3-seed, but I doubt many expect him to lose to 2-seed Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) in the semis. 4-seed Anthony Cassioppi (Iowa) hung with Parris in February’s dual, but is 0-4 against him all-time. And 5-seed Cohlton Schultz (Az. State) will be no picnic in the quarters. Northwestern’s Lucas Davison slid all the way to the 9-seed, but expect him to find the podium. Maybe even #11 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin) too, especially if he can get by 6-seed Yaraslau Slavikouski (Harvard) in the second round.
Atinat: I figured I'd be upset no matter how this was seeded, because the top four heavies this year are all in the Big Ten, and there was NO WAY they were gonna seed it like that. That said, I'm certainly not complaining about Cassioppi's draw. The first two rounds should be a breeze, Schultz hasn't looked great this year, and Cassioppi has wrestled Parris closer than Kerkvliet this year. I expect an all-Big Ten final, and probably 5 of 8 quarterfinalists.