Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What The NCAA Wrestling Brackets Mean For Iowa

It's time for all of you amateur bracketologists to take a break, as the real brackets are here for March Matness. Yes, I realize that most people care about the hoopyball more than the grind at Takedown Town, but college wrestling is seriously awesome and you are dumb if you think otherwise. Here are my thoughts on each weight and how things stack up for the Hawkeyes.

125 - Cory Clark gets the 8 seed, which is not ideal. I definitely did not want him on the same side of the bracket as Jesse Delgado, as that guy has been a monster and really raises his game in important matches. Cory Clark still has the talent to beat anybody, but the consistency is his issue. Consistency is key in the NCAA Tournament, and my hope is that he bounces back from a loss against Delgado to become an All-American. And hey, if he beats Delgado, he's got a great shot at making the finals.

On the other side, it is likely to come down to Garrett and Megaludis, and if you're a Hawkeye fan, cheer for Garrett.

133 - Tony Ramos gets the 3 seed, and it really couldn't have worked out much better for him. AJ Schopp did beat him earlier in the year, but this is a loss that I see Tony redeeming himself from. Ramos was heavily favored to win the title before this season began, and I still have confidence in him doing so. Beckman is no pushover, but I don't see him beating Ramos. Quiroga wrestled very well against Ramos at the conference tournament, so he may be able to give Schopp a run for his money.

The other side of the bracket has a lot of tough wrestlers. Joe Colon is the 1 seed, and he absolutely hossed Ramos earlier this season. But he has a tough road. There is a good chance that he faces Thorn who is likely to slow down the match and could take advantage of a mistake. After that, he has the winner of Morrison or Graff, both of which are tough guys to score on and will not be pushovers. I think it is far more likely that Colon trips up than Ramos does before the finals.

141 - Josh Dziewa is unranked and takes on the 13 seed, Stephen Dutton. Dutton really took it to him at the Big Ten Tournament, but only lost 3-2 at the dual meet. Still, his only losses have come to Retherford, Steiber, and a tiebreaker loss to Dardanes, so it's going to be a tough matchup. Unfortunately, I see him doing most of his work in the consolation bracket. The good news is that the consolation bracket sets up nicely for him as long as Devin Carter and Zain Retherford take care of business.

149 - Brody Grothus got the 13 seed? What does that mean? Haha, nice try. It means nothing. Brody Grothus could do anything at this tournament, and I wouldn't be surprised. He has beaten ranked guys like Tsirtsis, Kindig, and Habat and also managed to lose to Caleb Ervin who had only one other win against Big Ten competition this year. In fact, 149 has been insane all year, but I feel like things have calmed a little at the end of the season. Still, Grothus could do anything; seed doesn't matter.

157 - Derek St. John got the 2 seed, and things seriously could not have worked out better for him. The 3 seed is Alex Dieringer who always pushes St. John but can never seem to get the better of him. DSJ is going to have close matches, but the people that have given him trouble this year are all on the other side of the bracket.

And man, I would not be happy if I were a Nebraska fan. James Green has his work cut out for him as the 1 seed. The big dogs from the Big Ten are all on that side, and he could have to deal with the funk of Dylan Ness who is capable of beating anybody (and is also possibly the most exciting wrestler in the tournament, because anything could happen in his matches), and then have to deal with the one guy who beat him, Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin. This side could have a lot of upsets.

165 - Nick Moore got the 5 seed, which is not great. First it means that he is on the same side of the bracket as David Taylor, so he has no chance of making the finals. He also has Steven Monk as the 4 seed, who did beat Moore earlier in the year. I think Moore has actually progressed a lot through this season, so I do like him to make the semis against Taylor, but it'll be tough.

174 - Mike Evans got the 4 seed, and it's a nice spot for him. His big threat in the quarters is Matt Brown who beat him earlier in the year but lost at the Big Ten Tournament. That match, like all matches among the top six seeds could. If he gets past him, he likely faces Chris Perry, the 1 seed who Evans lost 5-4 to earlier in the year. Again, close matches, anything could happen.

On the other side of the bracket, is Howe at 2, Kokesh at 3, and Storley at 6. Howe is definitely the favorite as he beat Kokesh 3-2 earlier this year, but Kokesh has really been wrestling well at the end of this season. Don't count out Storley either who isn't always consistent but is capable of competing with anybody.

184 - Ethen Lofthouse got the 5 seed, and this is probably the second most favorable draw for a Hawkeye after DSJ's. The 4 seed is Thomusseit from Pittsburgh, who I will admit to not knowing much about, but he did lose twice to Sheptock and didn't really face any other top level guys. Sheptock is the 1 seed, and he beat Lofthouse in sudden victory in their only meeting this season. That is a match that could go either way, and it is not hard to see a situation where Lofthouse makes it to the finals.

Ed Ruth is on the other side of the bracket, which is a little surprising. I know Sheptock went undefeated, but Ruth is clearly the best wrestler at this weight. He did lose to Gabe Dean who is at the 3 spot, so maybe Dean can pull off a little more Cornell magic. Although I don't think Steinhaus is going to beat Ruth, it is nice that he is on the opposite side from Lofthouse.

197 - Nathan Burak received the 11 seed. He wrestled really well at the Big Tens, so he may start wrestling to his potential. He should get past his first round opponent from Wyoming. After that, he faces the 6 seed from Bloomsburg, Richard Perry. Perry's only loss came to 7 seed Travis Rutt, who he managed to pin later in the year. Outside of that, he didn't face a lot of top competition. Out of any of the top 7 seeds to wrestle into, this is probably my pick as he may be overrated because of his lack of competition. He also may be underrated, but that wouldn't really matter, because I can't see Burak getting by any of the other top guys.

HWT - Bobby Telford is a 5 seed, which is totally fine. The heavyweight division is insane. There isn't a guy in the top-8 that couldn't win this whole thing. Tony Nelson at 1 is still the favorite, because he always seems to turn it on when it matters, but Telford finally got a win over him this year, so anything is possible. He'll have to get through super freshman Adam Coon to get to Nelson, and their first match was a close loss for Telford but could certainly go the other way this time.

I would have rather seen Telford on the other side of the bracket, but that is just because I am very afraid of Tony Nelson. Anyone can beat anyone. Everything means nothing; nothing means everything.

Overall - I would say things worked out fine for the Hawkeyes. St. John is their top ranked guy at 2, but Ramos is their best chance at a national title at 3. Although I projected out a few rounds, anything can happen in wrestling, and they could lose to guys they are projected to beat and beat guys they are projected to lose to. Penn State's still the favorite to win it, but if Iowa or Minnesota get a couple upsets, either team could win the championship. I am so pumped. 

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