What's the third largest crop produced in Iowa, behind corn and soybeans? Cauliflower (ear). And that, besides the fact that he's smart and funny, is the reason we keep talking wrestling with man of The Pants, RossWB. You can check out 125 - 157 over at Black Heart Gold Pants. Below you'll find 165 - fatties. Enjoy.
1. Can Yates, Caldwell or Monk ruin ESPN's grand finale?
BSCAFF: I have witnessed exactly zero Steven Monk matches in my lifetime, though his 33-2 record suggests he's an ass kicker. I have seen Taylor-Yates. Yates is tough. It took Taylor nearly the full 7 minutes to tech fall him. I've seen Taylor-Caldwell. Caldwell held him to a 10-2 major. And I've seen Dake-Caldwell. I think those two could wrestle for 3 hours, and I'm not sure Caldwell could get a takedown.
ROSS: No, no, and no. I have also never seen a Steven Monk match -- I'm not even sure they have the interwebs in North Dakota, frankly -- but nothing about the resumes of these guys suggests that they can hang with Dake and Taylor. Taylor already beat both of them and as far as Dake goes... every single thing Caldwell does, Dake does better. Yates is fun to watch, but I don't see him getting through Dake's defense. The only chance Dake or Taylor get beat before the finals is if they get Bubba Jenkins'd by someone and get caught in a freak pinning predicament.
2. How great would it be if Conrad Polz wrestled 157, or Jesse Dong wrestled 165, and these two made the finals against each other?
BSCAFF: Especially if ESPN staggered the draw so that they went last. I can hear Tim Johnson laughing through his call now. Penn State's radio announcer, Jeff 'Ironhead' Byers, would be the best, though.
ROSS: Quick, tell Donger to start chowing down to get up to 165. Because, yes, that would be pretty fantastic.
3. First round upsets - who you got?
BSCAFF: True story - Rider's Ramon Santiago had a takedown and a 2-point lead against Taylor a couple of weeks ago. The match didn't finish that way, of course, but #7 Conrad Polz needs to be ready. And #12 Massa could pretty easily drop his match against the younger Wilps. One more? How about #8 Sulzer vs. Lewandowski.
ROSS: Ramon Santiago sounds like a name that the AI would come up with in MLB THE SHOW if it was auto-generating a name for a new Latin American prospect. Anyway. How about John Staudenmayer (UNC) over David Tayl-- ok, no. I like Lewandowski over Sulzer and I could definitely see Massa losing because he's been hot and cold this year. I also wouldn't rule out Cody Yawn losing because it feels like he could lose every match when he steps on the mat. There is no one less impressive.
4. If Dake wins, does the Iowa crowd boo him? Or do they have enough distaste for Taylor that it would outweigh last year's antics?
BSCAFF: Even though he and Taylor respect each other quite a bit, I can't picture Dake reacting with humility. Ten bucks says Dake pulls some sort of dickish move if he wins. Double the wager if he loses. And that's not cool among Iowans, unless your dickish move is in response to the other guy's dickish move, ala Metcalf - Caldwell.
ROSS: A lot of the Dake-hate last year had to do with the fact that he just beat an Iowa guy -- and that he did so in somewhat unimpressive fashion, getting on his bike for a good chunk of the last two periods. Since he wouldn't be beating an Iowa guy this year, I think the reaction would be much more respectful. Iowa fans have a pretty healthy appreciation for wrestling history, too, and seeing Dake win a fourth national title -- in a fourth different weight class, no less -- would be something that they would respect. Unless he did something really douchey like the D-X "Suck it!" motion in their general direction -- that would probably piss them off. And while I doubt the team title race will be on the line in that match, if it was then Iowa fans would sure as hell be cheering for Dake.
1) This weight has been dominated by the Big Ten this year, but the Big Ten Tournament was a completely chaotic event for this weight -- is that going to be the case again here?
ROSS: Yes, at least if we judge this weight by seeding. I mean, Logan Storley is the goddamn #6 seed here, but is there a soul out there who doesn't think that he can win it? Heflin is tough as hell to score on and he lost a very narrow decision to Perry last year, but he's an #8 seed that I could see making a mess of things. Evans and Kokesh are very good #3 and #4 seeds, too. I do not expect a lot of chalk at this weight.
BSCAFF: As a reminder, Ed Ruth tech falled everyone here last year. That's not really relevant to the question, but I did want it entered as part of the record. But with that out of the way, I'm with you on the chaos, dog and cats living together...mass hysteria notion. This weight has 10 - 12 very good competitors who, to a certain degree, are all seemingly content to win a match 3-2. I don't think any one of them is head-and-shoulders better at a certain aspect than the others, except for Nick Heflin at stalling. Gonna be a lot of tight matches.
2) Other than Chris Perry, are there any non-B1G wrestlers that can make some noise at this weight?
ROSS: This really comes down to how much you like Josh Asper (#5, Maryland) or Nathaniel Brown (#9, Lehigh), right? I don't think there's anyone else outside of Perry or the B1G guys who can do damage this weight. I thought Asper would benefit from the topsy-turvy results at Big Tens more than he did -- the #5 seed isn't much of a reward for a guy that went 19-1 and won the ACC, especially behind two guys who finished 2nd and 3rd at Big Tens. But that's why the B1G is king at this weight, I guess. But anyway, to answer my question: no. Asper's lone loss was to Blanton, who's like the 5th or 6th best 174er in the Big Ten. He hasn't wrestled any of the top guys at this weight. Brown has more experience against the B1G guys -- but also more losses. Plus, he has a tough road, with Heflin looming in the second round and Perry in the quarters.
BSCAFF: I don't like Nathaniel too much. But I'll give you two, for first round noise, at least. Bakersfield's Bryce Hammond vs. #6 Storley, and freaking Todd Porter vs. #2 Brown (that's some mother **&^!!%&%&*^, right there). Storley better be more ready for Hammond than he was for Dan Yates 10 days ago, or he's bouncing to the loser bracket pretty quickly. And though Brown handled Porter earlier this year without too much difficulty, Brown can also, at times, look like he's been on a Morman Mission for 2 of the last 3 years, instead of in a wrestling room.
3) How many All-Americans does the Big Ten get at this weight?
ROSS: Seven. Brown, Evans, Kokesh, Storley, Blanton, and Heflin are all seeded to make the podium and they will, although not in the order of their seeds. Yates bumps out Asper for the seventh Big Ten All-America slot.
BSCAFF: Yates over Asper is a nice pick. But I'm keeping Asper on the podium. I might even put him in the final over Kokesh and Perry. Probably not. But whatever. Asper and Perry prevent the Big Ten from hogging the entire podium.
4) OK, who wins?
ROSS: Much as it pains me to admit it, I think Storley shows that Big Tens were a fluke and makes the finals from the #6 seed -- before losing his rubber match with Perry in the finals.
BSCAFF: I think Storley's going down, and not just because of his crap-tastic Big Tens. He piled up a statistically improbable amount of razor thin victories in the regular season. Time for that shit to even itself out, and the Big Tens only took him about 60% of the way there. I'm taking Hulk Hands to win, because he can, on occasion, actually take and convert shots from neutral. And except for Bob Kokesh (and not when he's wrestling Evans), Matt Brown probably does it more consistently than much of the field. Plus, I'll allow myself at least one total homer pick.
1. Is this the Edward Ruth, So Fresh So Clean show?
BSCAFF: Yes. Yes it is. He's wrestled #3 Hamlin twice, and is 2-0. He wrestled #4 Bosak at the Southern Scuffle and cruised to a 4 or 5 point win. He had a tough one against #5 Herr Steinhaus at Big Tens, but was never in danger. And in 2011, he pinned #2 Bennett during wrestlebacks in 47 seconds. Granted, that was a while ago. But that works both ways, too. Ruth's a lot better than in 2011, which is the last time he's ever lost (a whopping twice that season).
ROSS: There are some really good wrestlers at 184 and this would be a hell of a race... if Ruth wasn't there. I'm curious to see how he does against Bennett and Hamlin, if only because I haven't yet seen him slice through them (at least at 184 lbs.), but yeah: if Ruth is on his game, no one is touching him at this weight. Everyone else is playing for silver.
2. Give me someone from #6 or lower who breaks into that Top 5.
BSCAFF: I like #7 Jimmy Sheptock. JEBUS - I look back over my answers and I think I've picked every low seeded PA prep but Mitchell Port in response to this type of question. So scratch Sheptock (not really). Also give me #11 Mike Larson. I actually like #12 Lofthouse the Younger, and #8 Ihnen better than Larson - but they get to wrestle Herr Steinhouse and Ruth in the second round, instead of a slightly gimpy Vermonster.
ROSS: Call me a home stater, but I think UNI's Ryan Loder has a good chance to do it for UNI, especially with Hamlin possibly being a little gimpy -- he defaulted out of his last few matches at the EIWA Tournament. If that's anything serious, I could definitely see him making an early exit at this tourney, which could easily pave the way for Loder to make the semis and if he does that the absolute worst he could do is finish 6th.
3. I've lived my entire life without watching Jacob Swartz wrestle. Am I missing out?
BSCAFF: I have to default on this question since I asked it. So instead, I'll talk to myself about Stone Brewing Company. They're based near San Diego, which is probably the coolest place in the world to live, assuming you could weather the taxes. They make an 'oaked' Arrogant Bastard Ale that is pure heaven. Plus, with its high ABV, you can go Molly Brown after less than a 12-pack. So that's a great benefit.
ROSS: I have also never seen Jacob Swartz wrestle. I have to say, some of these small-school or west-coast wrestlers absolutely confound me when it comes to projecting their performance. I know it's not really entirely their fault, but a lot of them have just wrestled NO ONE. I mean, call me crazy, but I don't think mollywopping CAA competition is great preparation for the NCAA Tournament. Anyway.
4. Does Iowa need Lofthouse to make the podium to win the team title?
BSCAFF: It certainly wouldn't hurt their chances, and I don't think it's that much of a stretch. Assuming he drops his 12,000th match to Steinhaus in the second round, he can easily bounce back to the Round of 12. There he's probably staring at a Bennett-Sheptock loser. But that's not an impossibility. If he clears that hurdle he could just as easily make the consolation semis (though, Steinhaus/Bosak are both probably a bridge too far).
ROSS: Iowa needs to maximize points out of pretty much all of their guys in order to have a shot at the team title, so I think it's fair to say that he needs to be an All-American if Iowa is going to have a chance to bring home a trophy. I think it's possible, too -- cracking the top 5 or so looks daunting, but I think the other spots on the podium (especially 7th and 8th) are very reachable for him.
1) While Dake-Taylor gets all the hype and hullabaloo, could Kilgore-Wright actually be the stealth match of the tournament?
ROSS: If we get it (and it's not nearly as much of a sure thing as Dake-Taylor), I think it will be a lot of fun -- much more fun than Dake-Taylor, actually. Q is rarely boring to watch and Kilgore usually bring it, too. I don't think these two guys will be content to sit back and wait for the other guy to make a slight mistake -- they're much more likely to just go for broke and, as a wrestling fan, that's something I'd very much like to see.
BSCAFF: Agree, on all parts. There have been occasions where Q is content to not try much of anything - the Campo semi-final at Big Tens is probably the worst match of the entire season - but that's the exception instead of the rule. And Kilgore will go and go, from every postion. Should be a great one - and like you, I hope we get it, because it's far from a certainty.
2) This often seems to be an unpredictable weight -- do you think we'll see some craziness this year?
ROSS: I think it's possible. Kilgore and Wright are the obvious (and deserved) headliners here, but I think the guys seeded 3-6 -- Wilps, Hernandez, Meeks, even Gadson -- could make it to the finals. Kilgore is a beast and all, but his wins over Wilps and Hernandez were tight, Q doesn't always blow guys out, Meeks has some decent wins (and close losses), and Gadson has a lot of talent. So we could see things get a little skewed here.
Also, is it wrong if I just want to see Kilgore take on Campolattano again? I don't think beating him FOUR TIMES already this year was enough. Maybe they're working a best-of-nine series.
BSCAFF: Not too much. I think the top 4 guys are a notch above. (NOTE: I have no idea what Wyoming's Hernandez can do, but I see he's wrestled Kilgore closely.) Wait a second....Christian Boley is unseeded?
3) Give me an upset special.
ROSS: Speaking of Camp... he can definitely beat #8 Micah Burak (Penn) in round one and it would not surprise me in the least if he did so. I also think Mario Gonzalez could give #6 Gadson (Iowa St) a run for his money -- if Gonzalez gets by his pigtail match, that is.
BSCAFF: I don't think Goldy's Scott Schiller hangs out too long in the championship bracket. If he survives Boley - and that's a big if - #7 Schiedel awaits in the second round. That's a really tough draw for the Big Ten runner-up, particularly when the Big Ten sent 9 - NINE - to this bracket. How in the hell did that happen?
4) How much would you give for a Burak-Burak match at some point?
ROSS: That would be a fun, weird little side-story to this whole event, I think. Brother vs. brother! I don't think it's terribly likely to happen -- Burak the Younger (Nathan) would have to win at least three matches in the consos to make it a possibility (Burak the Elder would have to win at least two matches in the consos himself), which might be a bridge too far for him this year. But I can dare to dream...
BSCAFF: I'll email you my bank account and routing number, because 39-0 Kilgore losing to Nathan freaking Burak in the first round .... oh, damn. Wrestlebacks. Nevermind the bank account thing. What I'd still be interested in, though, is do they draw blood against each other? Or does one of them forfeit? We know what the answer is if the Brands brothers met. Wonder what would happen with the Burak boys?
1) Is the winner going to come from the Nelson-Gelogaev-Bradley trio or can someone break into that pack?
ROSS: I would like to say yes. I would like to say that McMullan (NW) or Hanke (OrSt) could shake up the finals and maybe prove that leg attacks aren't the work of the devil. (I would really like to say that Bobby Telford could make a stunning run to the finals, but that would likely involve him beating Gelogaev AND Nelson and... sorry, I don't own enough hallucinogens to make that possible.) But they are the top of the heap for a reason. I give Hanke a slim chance of grinding out a close win over Bradley, but these guys specialize in grinding out ugly, close hoss-style wins. I don't see any reason for that to change here.
BSCAFF: I'm completely drunk as I write this answer. But I'm thinking we see some Scooby-Doo hi-jinxs. #10 Trice, unseeded Jeremy Johnson, and unseeded Odie Delany (I think) are all returning All-Americans. And in the world of fat boy 1-point wins, anything can happen. Just last year I was fairly certain that the big boy champ would be either AU's Flores or Lehigh's Rey.
2) Suppose the over-under on takedowns in the final is 1.5: do you take the over or the under?
ROSS: Under if it's Bradley-Nelson. I'll go over if it's Gelogaev-Bradley -- he's aggressive enough to get (and/or give up) at least two takedowns. This whole conversation makes me depressed. Let's move on.
BSCAFF: See above.
3) Give me a surprise All-American.
ROSS: I'm gonna cheat a little and go with Jeremy Johnson (Ohio). I say cheat because even though he's unseeded this year, he finished 7th last year, so he does have some experience getting on the podium. But he's good enough to do some damage at this weight, although he'll probably have to do most of it in the consos since he's slated to see Gelogaev in round two. I could also see #10 Jarod Trice (Central Michigan) get on the podium, which would bum me out because a) even by heavyweight standards, he's a lethargic, boring-ass wrestler and b) he's also a punk-ass bitch.
BSCAFF: I had a friend in the Army who attended The Citadel. He told me plebe year he got so hungry that he ate toothpaste (he was a disgusting fat body out of high school, and needed to lose weight). So I'm inclined to cheer for The Citadel. Didn't they also hang their place-kicker from the goalpost one year for missing a field goal? Even if they didn't, the toothpaste thing is all the motivation I need to pull for Odie Delany, though he doesn't exactly have an easy road.
4) Which guy is crowned King of the Shaved Bears?
ROSS: Nelson. Until they stop letting him spiral ride guys into mind-numbing oblivion, he's gonna grind out bowling shoe-ugly wins over his fellow shaved bears. He's already got two wins over Gelogaev this year and while he did lose to Bradley earlier this year (2-1 in OT), I certainly think he could reverse that result. Pop your Red Bull if it's Nelson-Bradley in the finals, though -- you're gonna need it to stay awake.
BSCAFF: ALL YOUR SPIRAL RIDE ARE BELONG TO US. Six minutes and 30 seconds of spiral riding. I'm surprised Nelson hasn't started choosing top at this point. I can't remember the last time he took an offensive shot, because why the hell would you do that? You know you can get a riding time point, and you're going to get out yourself. So f*** it, dude. Just stand around for the first three minutes and hope someone's dumb enough to take a leg shot. /throws monitor across the room.
But tomorrow it starts!
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