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Bracketology: NCAA Wrestling

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Okay, Okay, so yet again our basketball team didn't make the dance. Tomorrow morning everyone will be talking about basketball and rightfully so. The NCAA Basketball tournament is arguablly the best sporting event of the year, and I will be following along closely as well.

Something that I will also be following closely, and I hope Cyclone fans will be as well is the Wrestling team. Although, Iowa is the strong favorite to repeat as NCAA champs, our Cyclones could very well compete for the title. I certainley think we have enough talent to do it. The main problem with the Cyclones in my mind is the little things they haven't quite done to get over the hump to surpass Iowa. It seems like some of our guys mentally breakdown a bit while the going gets tough; at least they have in the past.

Regardless, I am hopeful that we will do well. I'd really like to celebrate something this year with Cyclone-Nation, and I am hoping that it's a very strong showing for the NCAA Wrestling Tournament.

The Event goes from March 19th - March 21st. It's in Saint Louis, which has been a decent venue in the past. ISU is the only contending team that qualified all 10 of their wrestlers. Having an extra guy can be huge, but you have to take advantage of it.

Team scoring in these tournaments can be a bit complicated for a casual fan, but this is how a team is crowned National Champion. Really how it works is this: each wrestler wants to try to get into the top 8, mainley for two reasons. First, this is the cutoff to be named an All-American. Secondly, this is where teams start getting points. Now, from there you want your guys getting bonus points. This can come from pins, tech falls, and major decisions. The name of the game is to get all of your guys as far as possible, picking up as many bonus points as possible.

It really is a team effort to win a National Championship. In 2001, the University of Minnesota won the National Championship by having all 10 of their guys finish in the top 8, yet none of them finished higher than 3rd place. A lot of people put emphasis on individuals NCAA titles, and those are nice, but what the Gophers did in 2001 shows how important having a strong overall showing from your team is.

Now that I've given you some background info on the tournament, I want to talk about each weight class. I'll list where our guy is seeded, how I think he'll do, and who I think will meet in the finals.  We'll look back on Saturday night, and see how I did (probably horrible) and how the Cyclones did (hopefully better).

  • 125
    • ISU Wrestler: Tyler Clark #9
    • Predicted Finish: 8th. Clark will first face Garnet from Navy, which I think he'll win. Later on Thursday night, he'll likely face Peterkin from Penn, whom I am a big fan of. I think Clark has what it takes to get past him, but I am not 100% sure. I think he falls to Peterkin, but is able to wrestle back into the 8th spot.
    • Predicted Finals: Nickerson (Cornell) over Donahoe (Edinboro)
  • 133 
    • ISU Wrestler: Nick Fanthorpe #7
    • Predicted Finish: 3rd. Fanthrope will first face Dillashaw from CSU-Fuller. He would then likely face Strayer from Penn State. If he were able to get past him, I think he'd probably face Humphrey from Ohio State. I could see Fanthrope beating Humphrey. I would put him as a sleeper to get into the finals, but I'll stop short and pick him to finish 3rd. Fanthrope is getting back into it, and I think he'll have a great weekend
    • Predicted Finals: Hochstrasser (Boise State) over Kennedy (Illinois)
  • 141
    • ISU Wrestler: Nick Gallick #6
    • Predicted Finish: 2nd. I'll put it like this. He has the potential to reach the finals, and I am hoping that he will realize this potential. He'll face Sulzer (NWU) in the first round, and would likely face Cleveland (Chatanooga).
    • Predicted Finals: Russell (Michigan) over Gallick (ISU)
  • 149
    • ISU Wrestler: Mitch Mueller - not seeded
    • Predicted Finish: N/A. I don't think he's going to place in this tournament. We would need Mueller to get in the top 8 in order to really have a shot at winning the overall title. I just think his potential matchup with Palmer from Ohio State will be much too tough. Who knows what can happen in the wrestle-backs, but I feel like there are at least 12 guys in this bracket wrestling better than Mitch right now. I hope I'm wrong
    • Predicted Finals: Metcalf (Iowa) over Caldwell (NC-State)
  • 157
    • ISU Wrestler: Cyler Sanderson #9
    • Predicted Finish: 8th. Cyler wrestles Deutsch (North. Ill) and potentially has to rematch Adam Hall (Boise State). I think this is a very tough field and I just hope that Cyler can be an All-American again. I think he has a tough draw.
    • Predicted Finals: Gillespe (Edinboro) over Leen (Cornell)
  • 165
    • ISU Wrestler: Jon Reader #8
    • Predicted Finish: 1st. I think Reader has a great draw. He likely will face two beatable guys in Headlee (Pitt) and Mason (Oklahoma State). From there he could potentially face #1 Lewnes whom Reader lost to by only 1 point. If Reader gets past him I think he gets to the finals. If Marabale is right there in the semis, I'd be a bit worried, but it would determine the National Champion at this weightclass. The bottom half of this bracket doesn't scare me at all.
    • Predicted Finals: Reader (ISU) over Morningstar (Iowa)
  • 171
    • ISU Wrestler: Duke Burk - unseeded
    • Predicted Finish: N/A. I don't like Burk's draw at all, but honestly I consider him lucky to even be there. He faces Lucas (Hofstra) and if he were to win, he'd likely face Jordan (Mizzou). Not exactly the greatest. Perhaps he'll wrestle like he's got nothing to lose (because he doesn't) and he'll just go off. Or perhaps he'll go 0-2. I guess we'll see
    • Predicted Finals: Luke (Michigan) over Cannon (American) in a battle of unbeatens.
  • 184
    • ISU Wrestler: Jerome Ward - unseeded
    • Predicted Finish: 8th. I believe Ward is a bit of a sleeper in this weight class. He faces #4 Smith from Boise State, but only lost to Smith by 2 points when they faced before. If he could advance past Smith, he could face Henderson from Missouri, someone he's picked off before this year. I just could see Ward sneaking in the top 8, because that's what he does. He wrestles too close for his own good sometimes, but it keeps him in matches. I think he could pull off a couple of upsets and have a nice showing.
    • Predicted Finals: Herbert (NWU) over Keddy (Iowa)
  • 197
    • ISU Wrestler: Jake Varner #2
    • Predicted Finish: 1st. No need to get into all the specifics here. I think he's finals bound. The only person that will beat Varner is Varner. I actually think him losing in the Big 12 tournament was a good thing as he won't take anyone lightly now (which is actually very easy to do when you're as good as he is).
    • Predicted Finals: Varner (ISU) over Brester (Nebraska). Varner gets his revenge
  • HWT
    • ISU Wrestler: David Zabriskie #1
    • Predicted Finish: 2nd. Big Z has had a couple of close matches. He's a very talented wrestler. It would've taken only a couple small things for him to be seeded 3rd-5th in this tournament. I think he gets to the finals, but I worry. He's good enough to win it all, but you can say that about the top 4 guys in this weight class. It's going to be a tough one.
    • Predicted Finals: Porter (Kent State) over Zabriskie. 

Summary: I am predicting 8 All Americans, 2 NCAA Champions, and 1 Runner-Up. Overall, I think it will go Iowa, ISU, Cornell, Michigan, Nebraska. It would take some serious bonus points and/or 9 All Americans for ISU to pull it off. Anything is possible, and we'll be reporting it here this weekend!