The NCAA released the brackets for all 10 weights at the NCAA Tournament last night, so let's break them down. Overall, some of the brackets were more favorable for Iowa wrestlers and some brackets were... less so. It's hard to get a read on the NCAA's governing principles in setting up brackets and seeding wrestlers based on this year's brackets, though. In some cases, weak schedules were punished -- but in several other cases, they weren't. In some cases, injuries were punished -- but in some cases, they weren't. In some cases, rematches were avoided -- but in many cases, they weren't. So what are the committee's governing principles when creating these brackets?
The full brackets are available here.
|2||Nathan Tomasello||Ohio State||SR||11-1|
|5||Sean Fausz||NC State||JR||14-2|
|6||Nick Piccinnini||Oklahoma State||SO||23-3|
|7||Taylor LaMont||Utah Valley||RS FR||25-3|
|9||Ronnie Bresser||Oregon State||SR||19-4|
|10||Sebastian Rivera||Northwestern||RS FR||26-5|
|12||Louie Hayes||Virginia||RS FR||29-6|
|13||Zeke Moisey||West Virginia||JR||22-9|
|15||Ryan Millhof||Arizona State||JR||15-5|
In general, the seeding committee didn't seem to look kindly on most of the medical forfeits at the recent Big Ten Tournament. And I understand that medical forfeits are frustrating, but do you really want to be incentivizing guys to wrestle when hurt? That seems like a bad course of action. In any event, Nick Suriano was the victim of their medical forfeit cynicism here as he dropped to the #4 seed. That elevated Spencer Lee to the #3 seed and sets him up for a possible semifinal showdown with #2 Nathan Tomasello, which would be the rubber match between them after they split a pair of matches earlier this season.
That would be far from the only rematch on Lee's docket, too -- in fact, outside of his first round match (against either Sergio Mendez of CSU Bakersfield or Alonzo Allen of Chattanooga), he's likely to see a familiar face wall the way up to the finals (if he can make it to Saturday night, that is). In the R16, he'll likely see #14 Luke Welch (Purdue), who he just demolished via 16-0 technical fall in a hair over three minutes in the 3rd place match at the Big Ten Tournament. If he beats Welch, he'll likely get #6 Nick Piccinnini (Oklahoma State) in the quarterfinals. Lee got off to a fast start against Piccinnini in their dual meet match, but had to settle for a 10-5 win after seeming to gas a bit in the third period and conceding a few takedowns to Piccinnini. Lee's gas tank has seemed to improve over the course of the season, though, and I think he'll be just fine in a rematch. And, as noted, we're likely to get Lee-NaTo III in the semifinals on Friday night. All in all, not a bad path for Lee.
|1||Seth Gross||South Dakota State||JR||24-1|
|3||Luke Pletcher||Ohio State||SO||26-2|
|4||Kaid Brock||Oklahoma State||SO||25-3|
|8||Montorie Bridges||Wyoming||RS FR||32-4|
|9||Dennis Gustafson||Virginia Tech||SR||23-7|
|15||Ali Naser||Arizona State||JR||21-11|
133 is the lone weight at the NCAA Tournament without an Iowa wrestler, which also means that Iowa's impressive five-year run of having an NCAA finalist at this weight (and two NCAA champions) will come to an end. The seeding here seems fine and pointing to a likely Gross-Micic final, which would be quite fun. Micic has been on a tear the last two months and Gross has been excellent all season. The #7 seed, Austin DeSanto, is the wrestler who handed Spencer Lee his only high school loss, in the Pennsylvania state finals last year.
|4||Joey McKenna||Ohio State||JR||16-1|
|5||Kevin Jack||NC State||SR||18-3|
|6||Dean Heil||Oklahoma State||SR||23-5|
|8||Nick Lee||Penn State||FR||27-5|
|10||Mason Smith||Central Michigan||SO||31-5|
|11||Mike Carr||Illinois||RS FR||17-5|
|13||Luke Karam||Lehigh||RS FR||20-7|
Turk was drawn into the pigtail match at this weight, where he'll face Lock Haven's Kyle Shoop. Shoop has been a fringe Top 20 guy this year so he probably wasn't too far from getting a seed here. 8 of his 12 losses this year were against seeded wrestlers, but he also lost to a guy from Wheeling Jesuit University (!), so he's not immune from the occasional inexplicable loss. That said, if the Turk who showed up at Big Tens and in the final few duals turns up here, he wouldn't need to do anything "inexplicable" to beat Shoop.
If he beats Shoop, he'll face #16 seed Weaver, who beat him 8-3 at Midlands. Again, Turk is wrestling better than he was then, so there's reason for optimism. If he gets by Weaver, though, he'd face top seed Meredith in the R16; my optimism doesn't extend that far. If he loses that match, he could see some familiar Big Ten faces in the consolation bracket (Wisconsin's Eli Stickley, Nebraska's Chad Red, Minnesota's Tommy Thorn). Turk could have gotten a much worse draw, in my opinion.
The bracket itself looks pretty solid in terms of seeding. I nailed the top seven seeds at this weight with my projections.
|1||Zain Retherford||Penn State||SR||26-0|
|4||Troy Heilmann||North Carolina||SR||28-4|
|5||Ke-Shawn Hayes||Ohio State||SO||27-5|
|6||Justin Oliver||Central Michigan||JR||25-5|
|7||Ryan Deakin||Northwestern||RS FR||30-6|
|8||Boo Lewallen||Oklahoma State||SO||26-5|
|10||Jason Tsirtsis||Arizona State||SR||17-6|
|12||Ryan Blees||Virginia Tech||JR||22-7|
|14||Beau Donahue||NC State||SR||19-6|
To no one's surprise, Retherford and Sorensen got the #1 and #2 seeds here, setting up the potential for Retherford-Sorensen VII in the finals on Saturday night. My projections were pretty off after Leeth at #3, though, as the committee shuffled around Heilmann, Hayes, Oliver, and Deakin a bit.
Sorensen's path features a mix of familiar faces and new opponents. In the first round, he's set to get Navy's Jared Prince, who's #16 in the most recent InterMat rankings and the highest-ranked unseeded wrestler. If he gets by Prince, he'll likely face Lehigh's Ronald Perry, the #15 seed (and #13 via InterMat). The quarterfinals should bring a familiar face -- likely either a third match this year against Northwestern's Ryan Deakin (#7 seed) or a seventh career match against former Northwestern wrestler (and current Arizona State wrestler) Jason Tsirtsis (#10 seed). Sorensen is 2-0 lifetime against Deakin and 4-2 lifetime against Tsirtsis, but the matches are often agonizingly close. If he makes it to the semifinals, he may get #3 seed Leeth (Missouri).
|1||Hayden Hidlay||NC State||RS FR||22-0|
|3||Jason Nolf||Penn State||JR||21-1|
|4||Josh Shields||Arizona State||SO||29-2|
|7||Micah Jordan||Ohio State||JR||22-6|
|11||Clayton Ream||North Dakota State||SR||23-4|
|13||Luke Zilverberg||South Dakota State||SR||30-8|
|15||John Van Brill||Rutgers||JR||20-12|
This weight is a) a hot mess and b) a debacle of seeding. Lavallee got the #2 seed despite a schedule that was as soft as 10,000-thread count sheets, while Nolf was seemingly punished mildly for medically forfeiting out at the Big Ten Championships. More puzzling is Kemerer at #6, behind Shields and Pantaleo. Kemerer didn't beat Pantaleo (who did win the Big Ten Tournament, albeit without wrestling either Kemerer or Nolf), but he did beat Shields at Midlands. They might as well have not wrestled that match, apparently.
Kemerer gets CSU Bakersfield's Coleman Hammond in R1, who has been hammered in most of his matches against quality 157ers. He's likely to get #11 seed Clay Ream (SDSU) in the R16, who he demolished via 17-2 technical fall earlier this season. If he beats Ream again, he'll likely face #3 Jason Nolf in the quarterfinals. Yes, Nolf-Kemerer could really be a quarterfinal match, just a few weeks after it looked like the likely NCAA final at this weight. If Kemerer gets by Nolf, he'd likely face #2 Joey Lavallee in the semis; they've never wrestled before.
Frustration about seeding aside, Kemerer's performance in this tournament is likely going to be determined by his health, which is mired in uncertainty right now. He hasn't looked quite the same ever since appearing to injure his knee in a match against Micah Jordan at the Iowa-OSU dual meet and he obviously medically forfeited out of the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. There hasn't been much word on what his injury is or its severity, which makes it hard to project outcomes for Kem. If he's close to healthy, he could go on a nice run, even with this unfavorable draw. But if he's banged up, this could be a quick and disappointing tournament.
|2||David McFadden||Virginia Tech||SO||31-0|
|3||Vincenzo Joseph||Penn State||SO||20-2|
|5||Alex Marinelli||Iowa||RS FR||16-3|
|8||Chandler Rogers||Oklahoma Staet||JR||20-3|
|9||Chance Marsteller||Lock Haven||JR||40-2|
|10||Evan Wick||Wisconsin||RS FR||23-6|
|13||Te'Shan Campbell||Ohio State||JR||17-10|
|15||Anthony Valencia||Arizona State||SO||25-8|
You can't directly compare seeds at one weight to seeds at a different weight, but from a certain perspective, it does look as though Kemerer was punished more harshly for not wrestling (due to injury) than Marinelli was for actually losing three matches at the Big Ten Tournament. That said, it's not fair to compare 157 to 165. And Marinelli did have an excellent regular season, full of several big-time wins (Joseph, Massa, Lewis, Rogers).
Funny but true: Marinelli probably has a more favorable draw to get to the NCAA semifinals than he did the Big Ten semifinals. Marinelli draws Purdue's Jacob Morrissey in R1; they didn't wrestle during the regular season, but Morrissey did lose 18 times (!) in the regular season. Marinelli is likely to get #12 Nick Wanzek in the R16; he went 2-0 against Wanzek this year, beating him 5-1 at the dual and 11-4 at the Big Ten Tournament. In the quarters, Marinelli could see #4 Chad Walsh, whose only loss this year was to #9 Marsteller, but who also didn't face many top guys at this weight during the season. He narrowly beat (5-4) Kaleb Young at the Iowa-Rider dual earlier this season. If Marinelli does make it to the semis, his luck is likely to run out -- he should see #1 Isaiah Martinez there. Still, this is a pretty nice draw for The Bull, all things considered.
|1||Zahid Valencia||Arizona State||SO||27-0|
|2||Mark Hall||Penn State||SO||28-0|
|6||Bo Jordan||Ohio State||SR||23-5|
|10||Ethan Ramos||North Carolina||SR||17-4|
|11||David Kocer||South Dakota State||SR||24-6|
|12||Forrest Przybysz||Appalachian State||SR||24-7|
|13||Jacobe Smith||Oklahoma State||JR||18-5|
|16||Christian Brucki||Central Michigan||JR||23-11|
This is another weight were I nailed the Top Seven with my seed projections. [toots own horn] I don't have any real gripes with the seeding here. Choosing between Hall and Valencia at #1 and #2 is extremely difficult -- assuming you ignore last year's results, which you should -- but I would slightly lean Valencia at #1 over Hall.
As for Iowa, Gunther drew #13 seed Smith from Okie State. Good news: that's better than drawing one of the top 6-7 seeds at this weight. Bad news: Smith did already beat Gunther (3-1) at the dual earlier this year. As with most Gunther matches against guys outside the elite class, it's likely to come down to a 1-2 points and who can score the decisive takedown (or, uh, the takedown, as in the only takedown). If he gets by Smith, he'd likely face #4 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh). Like Gunther, he's also a specialist in low-scoring, "tactical" matches, so a showdown between them might not be the most scintillating viewing. If Gunther falls into the consolation bracket after either the first or second round, he's likely to face some 1-2 other opponents seeded in the low teens, which wouldn't be the worst draws. He could even get Appalachian State's Forrest Przybysz, aka, the man vowels forgot.
|1||Bo Nickal||Penn State||JR||26-0|
|2||Myles Martin||Ohio State||JR||27-2|
|4||Pete Renda||NC State||SR||21-2|
|6||Zack Zavatsky||Virginia Tech||JR||28-5|
|7||Taylor Venz||Nebraska||RS FR||23-7|
|15||Canten Marriott||Missouri||RS FR||25-6|
|16||Jordan Ellingwood||Central Michigan||SR||25-10|
Another weight where my seed projections nailed the Top 7. Hooray! This weight is all about the Top Two guys, unless Preisch is able to lure Martin into a low-scoring slog and get the upset.
As for Iowa, Mitch Bowman drew #15 seed Canten Marriott, who, like most Missouri wrestlers, racked up a flashy record against a schedule replete with cupcakes. Bowman's own form has been pretty variable over the last few weeks, but Marriott certainly looks like one of the more viable upset targets for Bowman. If he gets by Marriott, he'd likely get #2 Martin in the R16. That would be a little interesting because while Martin did beat him via 17-8 major decision at the dual, Bowman had a dynamite third period against Martin and actually made him sweat a bit. Give us a reason to hope, Mitch.
|1||Kollin Moore||Ohio State||SO||22-2|
|3||Jared Haught||Virginia Tech||SR||26-2|
|4||Michael Macchiavello||NC State||SR||17-3|
|5||Shakur Rasheed||Penn State||JR||20-3|
|8||Nate Rotert||South Dakota State||SR||28-4|
|9||Preston Weigel||Oklahoma State||JR||12-2|
|11||Corey Griego||Oregon State||JR||21-5|
|15||Matt Williams||CSU Bakersfield||SR||28-7|
Remember when Wilcke was ranked in the Top 5 at this weight? Ah, memories. Results have not been kind to Wilcke since January and that's reflected in his seed here. Wilcke drew Eric Schultz (Nebraska) in R1, which isn't a terrible draw as far as the unseeded guys here go. (For instance, he could have gotten Jake Smith or Daniel Chaid, who are unseeded but ranked ahead of him in the most recent InterMat rankings.) Several of Schultz's losses have been close, though, so expect a tight match that induces some heartburn. If Wilcke gets by Schultz, he'll likely face #3 Haught, who he lost to via 4-1 decision at the NCAA Tournament last year. Wilcke's recent form doesn't give us much reason to be optimistic at this weight, but he was hardly on a tear at this time last year and he wound up just missing out on All-America status. We'll hope for another surprising run from Cash Money again this year.
|1||Kyle Snyder||Ohio State||SR||12-1|
|3||Nick Nevills||Penn State||JR||26-5|
|6||Amarveer Dhesi||Oregon State||SR||20-2|
|8||Tanner Hall||Arizona State||JR||20-6|
|9||Derek White||Oklahoma State||JR||23-2|
|10||Jordan Wood||Lehigh||RS FR||19-5|
|14||Michael Boykin||NC State||SR||20-6|
|15||Thomas Haines||Lock Haven||JR||18-5|
|16||Matt Stencel||Central Michigan||RS FR||28-13|
Finally, the dance of the shaved bears, where everything is very likely just preamble until Snyder-Coon III (technically Snyder-Coon IV all-time, but the third one this year) on Saturday night.
While there's one potential familiar face in Sam Stoll's path through the bracket, most of his opponent should be new. In R1, Stoll is set to face Franklin & Marshall's Antonio Pelusi, who doesn't have a lot of notable wins this year. If he gets by Pelusi, Stoll should get #12 Youssif Hemida, who he just beat 8-1 at the Big Ten Tournament. In the quarters, Stoll is likely to get #4 Jacob Kasper, who enters the NCAA Tournament on a 27-match winning streak. Kasper looks like a tricky match-up for Stoll -- he's smaller, but very quick, so it might be difficult for Stoll to overpower him. If Stoll gets by Kasper, he should get Kyle Snyder in the semis. They've never wrestled before, but that's a match-up that doesn't bode well for Slammin' Sammy if it indeed happens. That said, if Stoll makes the semis, he'll be guaranteed no worse than a sixth place finish, which would be very nice, especially after the injury-induced heartache Stoll has had with this event over the past two years.
Thoughts? Comments? Rants? Hit up the comments.