2021 NCAA Wrestling: Weight-By-Weight Previews

By RossWB on March 17, 2021 at 4:51 pm
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@Hawks_Wrestling (Twitter)

The 2021 NCAA Tournament gets underway tomorrow in St. Louis, MO. Let's break down each weight and see how things might shake out.

NOTE: The official seeds are listed below, not predicted order of finish. The full brackets are available here


1. Spencer Lee, Iowa
2. Sam Latona, Virginia Tech
3. Brandon Courtney, Arizona State
4. Drew Hildebrandt, Central Michigan
5. Brody Teske, UNI
6. Jakob Camacho, NC State
7. Taylor LaMont, Utah Valley
8. RayVon Foley, Michigan State

PREDICTED FINALS: Lee over Courtney
IOWA FINISH: 1st (champion)
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #11 Dylan Ragusin, Michigan
OTHER: Can anyone stop Lee? Maybe a better question is: can anyone prevent Spencer Lee from getting bonus points? I don't think so. There are some interesting fresh match-ups for Lee in this bracket, though, at least after the quarterfinals (which should be a rematch against a familiar face: either Purdue's Devin Schroeder or Michigan State's RayVon Foley). He could see UNI's Brody Teske (5-seed) in the semis, which would be interesting; Teske was a four-time Iowa state champ who went to Penn State out of high school before transferring back to UNI. Whoever Lee faces in the finals would be a fresh face, too -- the top seeds are freshman Sam Latona (Virginia Tech) and junior Brandon Courtney (Arizona State), neither of whom Lee has faced. 


1. Daton Fix, Oklahoma State
2. Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State
3. Korbin Myers, Virginia Tech
4. Austin DeSanto, Iowa
5. Micky Phillippi, Pitt
6. Matt Schmitt, Missouri
7. Lucas Byrd, Illinois
8. Chris Cannon, Northwestern

PREDICTED FINALS: Fix over Bravo-Young
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #13 Zach Redding, Iowa State
OTHER: I would have been nervous about picking DeSanto over Fix even if DeSanto was 100% healthy... but the DeSanto we saw at Big Tens was anything but 100% healthy as he dealt with a hand injury. It's unclear what the state of his hand is now, but I don't see him beating Fix in the semis right now -- and he's likely going to have a very tricky match with Phillippi in the quarters. I think he's likely to see Byrd and Myers in the consolation bracket, but the only two wrestlers at 133 I have serious doubts about DeSanto beating are RBY and Fix. It might not always be pretty this week, but I think Austin will grind out a strong finish. 


1. Jaydin Eierman, Iowa
2. Nick Lee, Penn State
3. Sebastian Rivera, Rutgers
4. Tariq Wilson, NC State
5. Dom Demas, Oklahoma
6. Allan Hart, Missouri
7. Ian Parker, Iowa State
8. Chad Red, Nebraska

PREDICTED FINALS: Eierman over Lee
IOWA FINISH: 1st (champion)
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #21 Real Woods, Stanford
OTHER: This bracket should be all kinds of fun from the quarterfinals on. Eierman and Red have had two pretty thrilling matches this season and could meet in the quarters here. Wilson and Demas could throw bombs for seven minutes in the other quarter on that side of the bracket. On the other side of the bracket, Ian Parker has serious upset potential at the #7 seed and could be a land mine for Nick Lee in the quarters. If Lee doesn't get upset, though, a potential Lee-Rivera rematch could be a scorcher, based on their showing in the Big Ten semis. Eierman vs Demas or Wilson could also be pretty fun. If we do get a chalk final, Eierman-Lee could be another thriller as well, although I feel good about Eierman's chances to extend the margin of victory as he did in his rematch with Chad Red a few weeks ago. The top half of the bracket also has a serious potential monkey wrench in the form of 21-seed Real Woods, who is a legit All-America candidate if he's healthy and fit. This bracket should be all kinds of fun. 


1. Sammy Sasso, Ohio State
2. Austin O'Connor, North Carolina
3. Brock Mauller, Missouri
4. Boo Lewallen, Oklahoma State
5. Ridge Lovett, Nebraska
6. Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech
7. Jonathan Millner, Appalachian State
8. Jaden Abas, Stanford

PREDICTED FINALS: O'Connor over Sasso
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #17 Kyle Parco, Fresno State 
OTHER: I think Sasso will be difficult to beat, but I also don't want to pick just #1 seeds to win. Plus, O'Connor has a lot of experience and has experienced the grind of an NCAA Tournament before, which might give him a slight edge. The surprise All-American category here could go in several directions as there are a lot of talented wrestlers seeded in the teens. As for Iowa, I don't know what to expect from Murin. He looked pretty good in the regular season, but that 0-2 showing in the Big Ten Tournament was alarming. In both losses he gave up a big move and struggled to claw his way back into the match. Can we avoid that in a rematch with Lovett in the second round? How would he match up with Lewallen if he does beat Lovett? I'm going to pick him to edge Lovett in a rematch but lose to Lewallen, but I think he can do enough in the consolation bracket to sneak onto the podium.


1. Ryan Deakin, Northwestern
2. Hayden Hidlay, NC State
3. David Carr, Iowa State
4. Jesse Dellavecchia, Rider
5. Kaleb Young, Iowa
6. Brayton Lee, Minnesota
7. Jarrett Jacques, Missouri
8. Jared Franek, North Dakota State

PREDICTED FINALS: Deakin over Hidlay
IOWA FINISH: Round of 12
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #12 Brady Berge, Penn State
OTHER: Deakin looks like a heavy favorite at this weight -- but Hidlay (who nearly beat Jason Nolf a few years ago) and Carr are very very good as well. Either opponent would be Deakin's toughest test of the season by far. And, needless to say, a Hidlay-Carr semifinals should produce some fireworks. As for Young, I just don't have a great feeling about his chances this weekend. #12 Berge (Penn State) has serious upset potential against Young in the second round and if Young does win that match, I think he'll struggle with Dellavecchia in the quarters. I think there will be some close, frustrating losses in this tournament for Young. 


1. Alex Marinelli, Iowa
2. Anthony Valencia, Arizona State
3. Jake Wentzel, Pitt
4. Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
5. Zach Hartman, Bucknell
6. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri
7. Ethan Smith, Ohio State
8. Shane Griffith, Stanford

PREDICTED FINALS: Marinelli over O'Toole
IOWA FINISH: 1st (champion)
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #10 Travis Wittlake, Oklahoma State
OTHER: The Bull did not get a friendly draw by the selection committee. Griffith went 28-0 last season and was the #3 seed; this year his only loss was to Pac-12 champion Valencia but he tumbled to the #8 seed -- that's a dangerous quarterfinal opponent. Marinelli could get a rematch with Lewis in the semis; Lewis knocked him off (as a #8 seed) in the NCAA quarters two years ago. Lewis has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the last month, though, and it's anyone's guess what sort of condition he'll be in this week. Marinelli looked more cautious than normal at Big Tens and we don't really know what version of The Bull we'll see here. That said... I just can't quite him. I think he'll get to the finals and find a way to win. I think the other half of the bracket could see some upsets -- Wittlake had a hiccup at the Big 12 tournament, but he's still a very dangerous wrestler and O'Toole was a blue-chip recruit who tore up the scene for Mizzou this year. I think he'll ride some upsets into the NCAA finals. 


1. Michael Kemerer, Iowa
2. Demetrius Romero, Utah Valley
3. Carter Starocci, Penn State
4. Mikey Labriola, Nebraska
5. Logan Massa, Michigan
6. Andrew McNally, Kent State
7. Kaleb Romero, Ohio State
8. Daniel Bullard, NC State

PREDICTED FINALS: Kemerer over Starocci
IOWA FINISH: 1st (champion)
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #14 Hayden Hastings, Wyoming
OTHER: Can Kemerer finally make it to Saturday night at the NCAA Tournament? And if he does -- can he win it all? I think the answer to both question is "yes," but he's likely going to have to go through a pair of Big Ten wrestlers (either Labriola or Massa in the semis and Starocci in the final) to do it. But, hey, that's exactly what he pulled off 10 days ago, right? A match with Labriola might be the most nerve-wracking; Kemerer beat him just 3-1 last year and needed a third period takedown to accomplish that. Still... in Kem we trust. This weight feels pretty chalk-y to me, all things considered, but Hastings has some fun upset potential. 


1. Aaron Brooks, Penn State
2. Trent Hidlay, NC State
3. Lou Deprez, Binghampton
4. Parker Keckeisen, UNI
5. Hunter Bolen, Virginia Tech
6. John Poznanski, Rutgers
7. Brit Wilson, Northern Illinois
8. Taylor Venz, Nebraska

PREDICTED FINALS: Brooks over Deprez
IOWA FINISH: Round of 12
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #11 Dakota Geer, Oklahoma State 
OTHER: I think this is Brooks' weight to lose... just as it was a year ago, before the NCAA Tournament was abruptly canceled. I think he might have the trickier side of the bracket, though, as Keckesian and Bolen are guys that I would pick to make the finals if they were on the other side -- and probably Venz as well. As it is, someone has to make the final from the bottom half of the bracket, and I'll go with Deprez in a coin-flip over Hidlay. (Both Hidlay brothers could be wrestling for national championships on Saturday -- wouldn't that be something?) As for Brands, he's in the top half of the bracket, which looks decidedly unfriendly. I think he'll go out to Bolen there and while I see him winning a few in the consolation bracket, I don't see him winning enough to make the podium. 


1. Myles Amine, Michigan
2. Eric Schultz, Nebraska
3. Kordell Norfleet, Arizona State
4. AJ Ferrari, Oklahoma State
5. Jacob Warner, Iowa
6. Nino Bonaccorsi, Pitt
7. Rocky Elam, Missouri
8. Stephen Buchanan, Wyoming

PREDICTED FINALS: Norfleet over Amine
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #13 Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State
OTHER: I think Norfleet has leveled up this year, with a 9-0 record and bonus points in almost 80% of those wins, and I think he rides that to a title in what seems to be a fairly wide-open weight. There are some tough guys on the top half of the bracket, but Amine's Big Ten title gives me the confidence to pick him to edge the challengers there. Warner has some tricky match-ups on the championship side of the bracket, starting with a very-game Nick Reenan in round one and following that up with the tricky Davison in the second round (though Warner is 2-0 lifetime against Davison and beat him 5-0 a few weeks ago). But the real hard work should come in the quarters, when he could face super-frosh AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State), and in the semis, when he could get a rematch with Amine. I think Warner will stumble there. But Warner has responded well in the consolation bracket in the past and I think he'll do so again this year and earn a high finish on the podium. 


1. Gable Steveson, Minnesota
2. Mason Parris, Michigan
3. Matt Stencel, Central Michigan
4. Cohlton Schultz, Arizona State
5. Tony Cassioppi, Iowa
6. Gannon Gremmel, Iowa State
7. Ethan Laird, Rider
8. Jordan Wood, Lehigh

PREDICTED FINALS: Steveson over Parris
SURPRISE ALL-AMERICAN: #14 Trent Hillger, Wisconsin 
OTHER: Steveson is the best heavyweight in the country. Parris is the second-best. The real competition this week is to see who's the best of the rest. I think it's going to be our man Tony Pins. His quarterfinal match against super-frosh Schultz will be intriguing, but until we see someone other than Steveson or Parris cause Tony problems, I'm going to pick him to beat them. If Tony loses to Steveson in the semis, he's likely to see Gremmel and Stencel in the consolation bracket; he owns past wins over them already. 

Too much chalk in these picks? Probably. Too many homer picks? Maybe! Let me know what you think in the comments. 

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