NCAA Wrestling Tournament: Seed Projections

By RossWB on March 6, 2018 at 8:15 pm
Brandon Sorensen



The NCAA released the at-large selections for this year's NCAA Tournament earlier today, so now we know the 330 wrestlers that will be competing in Cleveland in a little over a week. (SPOILER: to no one's surprise, Paul Glynn did not make the cut for an at-large selection at 133 lbs, so Iowa will be sending nine wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament. In related news, Iowa State did not receive any at-large selections, either, so they will be sending just one wrestler -- Jarrett Degen at 149 lbs -- to Cleveland.) In 24 hours, we'll now the official seeds for the Top 16 guys at each weight as well.

But where's the fun in waiting? Here are my seed projections for all ten weights. I'm only doing the Top 8 at each weight; it's hard enough to parse between 7/8, let alone between 15/16. My projections are also probably wrong, but so it goes. 


1 Darian Cruz Lehigh SR 26-0
2 Nathan Tomasello Ohio State SR 11-1
3 Nick Suriano Rutgers SO 21-0
4 Spencer Lee Iowa FR 17-2
5 Sean Fausz NC State JR 14-2
6 Ethan Lizak Minnesota JR 26-5
7 Nick Piccinnini Oklahoma State SO 23-3
8 Ronnie Bresser Oregon State SR 19-4

Cruz is the undefeated defending national champion; it's hard to see him anywhere but the top spot. Suriano is the tricky one here, as he technically hasn't lost all year, but he's also only wrestled one match since February 2 and medically forfeited after one match at the Big Ten Tournament. I can't see him being too low, but I'm not sold on him as a top-2 seed, either; #3 seems about right. Tomasello gets ahead of him for winning the Big Ten Tournament and beating Lee and Lizak in the process. #4 seems about right for Spencer after his 3rd-place finish at Big Tens; he still has an excellent resume with wins over several guys ranked below him. Fausz has a win over Piccinnini and I figured his ACC title gave him a slight tiebreaker over Lizak, the Big Ten runner-up. Lizak also has a win over Piccinnini. Bresser won the Pac-12 and has a win over Lee, but overall his resume doesn't have many wins of note. 


1 Seth Gross South Dakota State JR 24-1
2 Stevan Micic Michigan SO 22-2
3 Luke Pletcher Ohio State SO 26-2
4 Scott Parker Lehigh SR 18-3
5 Kaid Brock Oklahoma State SO 25-3
6 John Erneste Missouri JR 24-2
7 Dennis Gustafson Virginia Tech SR 23-7
8 Dom Forys Pitt SR 21-4

Gross and Micic are no-brainer picks at #1 and #2 at this weight; past that, it's a bit of a mess because there were several upsets at the conference tournaments last weekend. Both of Pletcher's losses are to Micic (who he also has a win over from earlier in the season), but the main reason I have him at #3 is that I didn't see anyone else with a compelling argument to be ahead of him. Parker just won EIWAs and has wins over Brock and Gustafson -- but also has some head-scratching defeats. Brock's only losses are to Gross, Parker, and Wyoming's Montorie Bridges (which he avenged at Big 12s). The ACC was kind of a mess this year, as Forys and Jack Mueller (not listed here) were the top guys all year, but Virginia Tech's Dennis Gustafson won the conference tournament. I used that to bump him into the Top-8, but I don't feel great about that. 


1 Bryce Meredith Wyoming SR 29-1
2 Jaydin Eierman Missouri SO 28-1
3 Yianni Diakomihalis Cornell FR 29-1
4 Joey McKenna Ohio State JR 16-1
5 Kevin Jack NC State SR 18-3
6 Dean Heil Oklahoma State SR 23-5
7 Brock Zacherl Clarion JR 27-1
8 Mike Carr Illinois RS FR 17-5

Meredith's only loss was to Yianni D, Yianni D's only loss was to Eierman, and Eierman's only loss was to Meredith. What a knot! Most rankings have them Meredith, Eierman, Yianni D and since they weren't upset at their respective conference tournaments, I'm going to say that order holds in the seeds. Jack got upset at ACCs and lost to McKenna in a dual, so McKenna ahead of him seems like a no-brainer. Heil is the two-time defending NCAA champion at 141, but he's had a rough season (he had one loss total as a sophomore and junior; he had three in January alone this year), including losses to Jack, Eierman, and Meredith (x2). Zacherl was working on a perfect season until he got upset at the EWL Tournament; he also has no wins of note outside of an early season victory over Penn State's Nick Lee. Carr had a mildly surprising run to the Big Ten finals (beating Nick Lee along the way), which was enough for me to slide him in at #8, although I freely admit that's probably too high. 


1 Zain Retherford Penn State SR 26-0
2 Brandon Sorensen Iowa SR 21-2
3 Grant Leeth Missouri JR 22-2
4 Justin Oliver Central Michigan JR 25-5
5 Troy Heilmann North Carolina SR 28-4
6 Ryan Deakin Northwestern RS FR 30-6
7 Ke-Shawn Hayes Ohio State SO 27-5
8 Matthew Kolodzik Princeton SO 24-5

Zain is the obvious choice at #1; Sorensen's only two losses on the season are to Retherford. Leeth doesn't quite have the resume to move past Sorensen in my estimation, although there obviously isn't much difference in being the #2 or #3 seed. Oliver got upset in the MAC Tournament and had a few other weird losses along the way, but he has wins over Deakin, Heilmann, and Kolodzik. Heilmann has some odd losses, but also has wins over Hayes and Max Thomsen (not listed here). Honestly, 5-8 are all kind of knotted up and picking between them was a bit tricky. 


1 Hayden Hidlay NC State RS FR 22-0
2 Jason Nolf Penn State JR 21-1
3 Joey Lavallee Misouri SR 29-1
4 Michael Kemerer Iowa SO 22-1
5 Josh Shields Arizona State SO 29-2
6 Alec Pantaleo Michigan JR 17-5
7 Micah Jordan Ohio State JR 22-6
8 Archie Colgan Wyoming SR 32-7

This might be the trickiest weight to seed, after Kemerer and Nolf both basically medically forfeited out of the Big Ten Tournament and shared sixth place. I think Hidlay gets the #1 seed thanks to his perfect record and ACC title; he also has wins over Lavallee and Jordan. I can't see Nolf being any lower than #2, since his only loss was due to injury and he looked pretty good in the two matches he wrestled before sitting out the remainder of the Big Ten Tournament. I think Kemerer's loss drops him to #4; had he won the Big Ten, I think he probably could have been #1, but, unfortunately, he didn't win. Lavallee won the MAC and his only loss is to Hidlay, although he doesn't have many signature wins, either. Shields' only losses are to Jordan and Kemerer, but he also has wins over Jordan and Pantaleo. Jordan and Pantaleo were the surprise Big Ten finalists after injuries curtailed Nolf and Kemerer (though in fairness to Jordan, he beat Kemerer straight-up), but their overall resumes aren't good enough to move them any higher for me. Colgan won a Big 12 title, which was enough to push him to #8 in my book. 


1 Isaiah Martinez Illinois SR 14-0
2 David McFadden Virginia Tech SO 31-0
3 Vincenzo Joseph Penn State SO 20-2
4 Chad Walsh Rider SR 24-1
5 Richie Lewis Rutgers SR 18-4
6 Logan Massa Michigan SO 16-6
7 Alex Marinelli Iowa RS FR 16-3
8 Chance Marsteller Lock Haven JR 40-2

IMar's Big Ten title makes the top seed pretty cut-and-dried. McFadden has an undefeated record and an ACC title, which helps offset the fact that he doesn't have many big wins. Joseph has wins over Lewis and Massa. Walsh's only loss was to Marsteller, which he avenged at the EWL Tournament, but he doesn't have many quality wins. Lewis-Massa-Marinelli were seeded that way in large part because of their Big Ten finish. Marinelli had a disappointing Big Ten Tournament, but he still has a strong overall body of work. Marsteller has a boatload of wins, but like Walsh, he lacks quality wins, which keeps him behind the Big Ten trio for me. I strongly considered Oklahoma State's Chander Rogers for the #8 spot as well. 


1 Zahid Valencia Arizona State SO 27-0
2 Mark Hall Penn State SO 28-0
3 Daniel Lewis Missouri JR 29-0
4 Jordan Kutler Lehigh SO 24-3
5 Myles Amine Michigan SO 21-6
6 Bo Jordan Ohio State SR 23-5
7 Taylor Lujan UNI SO 28-5
8 Ethan Ramos North Carolina SR 17-4

There are 10 undefeated wrestlers at the NCAA Tournament; 30% of them are in this weight class. Deciding between Valencia and Hall at 1/2 is difficult because their resumes are very similar, but most rankings have Valencia ahead of Hall, so I left it that way. Valencia did beat Hall at the season-opening All-Star Classic event, although that isn't an official result, which is why Hall is still listed as undefeated on the season. Lewis' resume isn't good enough to challenge either of them for the #1 or #2 seeds, but he's the obvious pick for #3. Kutler won the EIWA tournament and his only losses are to Valencia and Hall (x2). Jordan's only losses are to Amine (x2), Valencia (x2), and Hall, so it's hard to put him any lower. Lujan won the Big 12 Tournament and has losses to Valencia (x2), Amine, Kutler, and Lewis. Ramos has some odd losses, but did win the ACC Tournament. 


1 Bo Nickal Penn State JR 26-0
2 Myles Martin Ohio State JR 27-2
3 Ryan Preisch Lehigh JR 14-2
4 Pete Renda NC State SR 21-2
5 Dom Abounader Michigan SR 23-5
6 Zack Zavatsky Virginia Tech JR 28-5
7 Taylor Venz Nebraska RS FR 23-7
8 Emery Parker Illinois JR 21-3

Nickal and Martin are in a class of their own at this weight, so I expect them to be #1 and #2. Preisch has wins over Abounader and Zavatsky and his only losses are to Nickal and an injury-induced loss to Joe Heyob. Renda won the ACC Tournament, but lost to Martin and Zavatsky (though he avenged the latter loss in the ACC Tournament). Abounader and Zavatsky round out the best of the rest of the top guys at 184, with Abounader also holding a win over Zavatsky. It's a little murky at the bottom of 184, but Venz and Parker had solid showings at the Big Ten Tournament and were ranked in that range prior to conference tournaments, hence my selection of them at #7 and #8 here. 


1 Ben Darmstadt Cornell FR 30-1
2 Kollin Moore Ohio State SO 22-2
3 Jared Haught Virginia Tech SR 26-2
4 Willie Miklus Missouri SR 22-3
5 Shakur Rasheed Penn State JR 20-3
6 Preston Weigel Oklahoma State JR 12-2
7 Michael Macchiavello NC State SR 17-3
8 Nate Rotert South Dakota State SR 28-4

I'm just gonna come out and say it: this weight is a hot mess. I have the least confidence in my picks here out of any weight in this exercise. Darmstadt has the most impressive record and just won the EIWA Tournament; he also has wins over Miklus and Rasheed. Haught was the top-ranked guy at this weight by most rankings prior to conference tourney season and he won the ACC Tournament -- but he has losses to Moore and Miklus which are hard to overlook. Moore hit a rough spot before the Big Ten Tournament, but rebounded to win that event, which gets him back to the #2 seed. Miklus has wins over Haught and Weigel, in addition to his loss to Darmdstadt (he also has a loss to Iowa's redshirting 197er, Jacob Warner). I probably have Rasheed too high -- he doesn't have a lot of notable wins -- but it was hard to make strong arguments for the wrestlers below him. Weigel got upset at the Big 12 Tournament and also lacks quality wins. Rotert won the Big 12 Tournament -- but didn't beat Weigel to do it and doesn't have man quality wins, either. Macchiavello lost to Haught and also Weigel and (once again) doesn't have a lot of quality wins. So yeah: good luck parsing this one. 


1 Kyle Snyder Ohio State SR 12-1
2 Adam Coon Michigan SR 25-1
3 Nick Nevills Penn State JR 26-5
4 Jacob Kasper Duke SR 35-2
5 Sam Stoll Iowa JR 19-4
6 Amarveer Dhesi Oregon State SR 20-2
7 Youssif Hemida Maryland JR 27-5
8 Nathan Butler Stanford SR 24-7

Snyder and Coon flip-flop at #1 and #2 after the Big Ten Tournament final. Nevills has entrenched himself as the #3 guy here after his Big Ten Tournament performance; he also has a win over Kasper from earlier in the season. Kasper seems like the logical next pick after Nevills, followed by Stoll, who's four losses have been against Coon (x2) and Nevills (x2); he also has wins over Hemida and Tanner Hall (just outside the Top 8). Dhesi won the Pac 12 Tournament, but has losses to Conan Jennings and Youssif Hemida. Hemida and Butler round things out. 

What'd I get horribly wrong? Tell me in the comments. 

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