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NCAA Wrestling Brackets: Seeds, Sleepers, Predictions

We teamed up with Iowa blog BlackHeartGoldPants to get quick reactions to the NCAA Wrestling Championships Brackets.


Last night the NCAA released the 2016 Wrestling Championship brackets.  Today we teamed up with RossWB, BlackHeartGoldPants' mat guru, to get quick reactions to all 10 weight classes.  We asked (each other) 4 questions:

1) Which wrestler got a seeding gift from the committee?

2) Who got cursed with his seed/draw?

3) Who is your sleeper pick (must be someone outside the top 8)?

4) What are your impressions of the bracket for your guy (Hawkeye or Nittany Lion)?  Do you love it, hate it, or shrug and move on?

Below you'll find our thoughts on the big boy weights, 165 - 285.  RossWB will post our thoughts on 125 - 157 over at BHGP.  Let's get to it.

165 LBS

The Top 8 Seeds

1) Alex Dieringer, Oklahoma State (SR, 28-0)
2) Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin (JR, 25-0)
3) Bo Jordan, Ohio State (SO, 16-2)
4) Daniel Lewis, Missouri (RS FR, 25-4)
5) Max Rohskopf, North Carolina State (JR, 15-2)
6) Steven Rodrigues, Illinois (SR, 25-3)
7) Anthony Perrotti, Rutgers (SR, 21-3)
8) Chad Welch, Purdue (SR, 30-7)

Seeding Gift

BHGP: #12 Connor Brennan, Rider -- Brennan rode an EWL title win all the way to the #12 seed, which is quite a jump for a guy who's a fringe Top 20 guy per the most recent Intermat and Flo rankings.

BSD: #7 Anthony Perrotti, Rutgers.  Default from Big Tens, and he's beaten 1 ranked opponent in calendar 2016.  Still managed to grab the 7-seed.

Seeding Curse

BHGP: #15 Clark Glass, Oklahoma -- There weren't any particularly egregious screw-ups here, but Glass is ranked 12th by Intermat but just a #15 seed here.  I'm sure he'd rather not be staring at a R2 match-up with Ike Jordan if he could help it.

BSD: Unseeded Ryan Preisch, Lehigh.  He was creeping toward the top 10 Intermat rankings in January.  Injured in Feb, an upset loss at EIWAs, and now he's unseeded. Woof.


BHGP: #10 Austin Wilson, Nebraska -- Outside of a head-scratching pair of losses to American's Mitchell Wightman at Midlands, almost all of Wilson's losses this year have been against Top 10 165ers from the Big Ten (I Jordan, Rodrigues, Perrotti). If he can avoid those guys, I think he can make the podium.

BSD: #12 Connor Brennan, Rider.  Good opening draw for him, and then it's low scoring #5 Rohskopf  (round 2) and #4 Lewis (quarterfinals), where one mistake/move can win the match.

Love It / Hate It / Shrug

BHGP: Love.  I couldn't have asked for a much better draw for Rhoads, honestly.  It was a given that he would be unseeded at this weight and he managed to get a friendly draw (#13 Jim Wilson from Stanford) rather than a top-8 guy who could have sent him immediately to the consolation bracket. Wilson is ranked in the mid-to-low teens by Intermat and Flo and hasn't blown any doors off this year (or in the past), so I think Rhoads has a better-than-average shot at pulling off the upset.

BSD: Love it.  Geno made the tournament, which was slightly miraculous; and then he drew a winnable opening opponent.  You can't ask for more than that.

174 LBS

The Top 8 Seeds

1) Bo Nickal, Penn State (RS FR, 29-1)
2) Brian Realbuto, Cornell (JR, 33-3)
3) Blaise Butler, Virginia (SR, 20-3)
4) Ethan Ramos, North Carolina (SO, 22-3)
5) Zach Brunson, Illinois (JR, 20-3)
6) Bryce Hammond, CSU Bakersfield (SR, 19-3)
7) Cody Walters, Ohio (SR, 26-4)
8) Zach Epperly, Virginia Tech (SO, 10-2)

Seeding Gift

BHGP: #3 Blaise Butler, Missouri -- Butler is ranked 6th by Intermat and 5th by Flo, so getting a top-3 seed is a nice little bump for him. This weight does get muddy after Nickal and Realbuto, but Butler was definitely the big beneficiary.  And a shoutout to #14 Nate Kee from App St, who managed to get a seed despite not being ranked by either Flo or Intermat.

BSD: #9 Chandler Rogers, Okie State.  This seems a little high for a backup (to injured Kyle Crutchmer) with a loss to a JuCo on his resume.

Seeding Curse

BHGP: #8 Zach Epperly, Virginia Tech -- Epperly is ranked 4th by Intermat and Flo, but got bounced to the #8 seed by the committee, which sets him up for a quarterfinal match-up with Bo Nickal.  I'm not sure how much better a potential semifinal match with Nickal would have been, but still -- that's rough.

BSD: #8 Epperly, VaTech.  He spent the entire season ranked in the top 5.  Now he's the 8-seed, and drew previously seeded (in past years) Casey Kent in the opener.


BHGP: #11 Myles Martin, Ohio State -- Martin has taken a few lumps this year, but he has plenty of talent. He got a pretty nice draw (#6 Bryce Hammond from CSU Bakersfield isn't all that scary and neither is #3 Butler) and Ohio State always seems to have one guy who wrestles out of his gourd at the NCAA Tournament -- my money's on Martin being that guy this year.

BSD: #11 Martin, Ohio State.  Bracket sets up pretty nicely for a guy who seems to have found his stride in the Big Ten wrestlebacks.

Love It / Hate It / Shrug

BHGP: Shrug. I knew Meyer wasn't going to get a very good seed (nor did he deserve one) and he didn't.  That said, his draw as the #13 seed isn't that bad.  He got a soft-looking R1 opponent (Lehigh's Gordon Wolf is 13-10) and while #3 Ethan Ramos (North Carolina) is tough, he's not quite as scary as some other 174ers. Still, Meyer's tournament is going to be defined by what -- if anything -- he can do in the consolation bracket.

BSD: Shrug.  Not a great setup for bonus points here, but whatever - Bo's the 1-seed.   Hard to complain about that.

184 LBS

The Top 8 Seeds

1) Gabe Dean, Cornell (JR, 29-1)
2) Sammy Brooks, Iowa (JR, 24-4)
3) Vic Avery, Edinboro (SR, 13-1)
4) Domenic Abounader, Michigan (JR, 23-2)
5) Zachary Zavatsky, Virginia Tech (RS FR, 23-5)
6) Blake Stauffer, Arizona State (SR, 23-2)
7) T.J. Dudley, Nebraska (JR, 20-6)
8) Nolan Boyd (JR, 28-6)

Seeding Gift

BHGP: #2 Sammy Brooks, Iowa -- I mean, wow.  In fairness, I think there are a lot of ways to parse things at 184 after Dean at #1 so Brooks at #2 might not be the most bonkers thing ever, but still... he was the ranked 7th by Flo and Intermat and no one (not even Iowa fans) imagined he'd be seeded this high.  #ThePowerOfTheMullet, y'all.

BSD: #2 Brooks, Iowa.  He lost to the 7- and 13-seeds in the last few weeks, but grabs the 2-seed with his BigTen title.  (Who would I put at #2?  I dunno - about 10 different dudes had a reasonable argument.)

Seeding Curse

BHGP: #8 Nolan Boyd, Oklahoma State -- Boyd is ranked 4th by Intermat and 5th by Flo, so falling down to a #8 seed after winning the Big 12 Tournament is a rough blow.  It also sets up a possible quarterfinal match-up with #1 Dean... although Boyd is the only guy to hand him a loss this season.  Intrigue!

BSD: #10 Nate Brown, Lehigh.  Last year's runner-up lost to Gabe Dean, plus two overtime matches this year.  That's it  - and he's the 10-seed (same as last year, by the way).


BHGP: #13 Pete Renda, North Carolina State -- I'm a believer in Pete "Services" Renda after his win over Sammy Brooks in Iowa City a few weeks ago.  Brooks may have been a bit off in that match, but Renda flat took it to him and beat him fair and square. 184 is a loaded weight so making the podium from a #13 seed will be challenging, but he's got a shot.  Also, shoutout to #14 Willie Miklus from Missouri, who absolutely has the skills to make the podium here IF he's healthy, which has been an issue the last several weeks.

BSD: #10 Brown, Lehigh.  I can't picture him missing the podium.  He's too solid.

Love It / Hate It / Shrug

BHGP: Love.  I mean, what else could it be?  There are some tricky opponents looming on the bottom half of the bracket -- #15 Nicholas Gravina (Rutgers) is a sneaky-tough R2 opponent, #7 T.J. Dudley (Nebraska) or #10 Nate Brown (Lehigh) will be challenging quarterfinal opponents, and #3 Vic Avery (Edinboro) will be a tough out in the semis if both guys get that far -- but Brooks is on the opposite side of the bracket and also avoids some very dangerous wrestlers like Boyd and #5 Zach Zavatsky (Virginia Tech).  I can't complain about things here.

BSD: Hate it.  McCutcheon was ranked top-10 two weeks ago.  Now he's #16, and gets Gabe Dean in round 2 - the very last guy I'd want him to face.  Thanks a bunch.

197 LBS

The Top 8 Seeds

1) Morgan McIntosh, Penn State (SR, 28-0)
2) J'Den Cox, Missouri (JR, 28-1)
3) Brett Pfarr, Minnesota (JR, 35-3)
4) Nathan Burak, Iowa (SR, 23-2)
5) Conner Hartmann, Duke (SR, 26-1)
6) Jared Haught, Virginia Tech (SO, 17-7)
7) Brett Harner, Princeton (JR, 33-3)
8) Aaron Studebaker, Nebraska (JR, 21-9)

Seeding Gift

BHGP: #7 Brett Harner, Princeton -- Harner was ranked 9th by Flo and 10th by Intermat, but wormed his way up to the #7 seed here.  Not too shabby for a Princeton man.

BSD: #3 Brett Pfarr, Minnesota.  His dual win over Burak was questionable - and he lost to Burak at Big Tens.  But he's seeded ahead of him here.  That's a head scratcher to me.

Seeding Curse

BHGP: #9 Reuben Franklin, CSU Bakersfield -- This was a pretty straightforward weight, so there weren't too many dudes who got screwed.  Franklin was ranked 7th by Intermat (although just 10th by Flo), so his seed might be a touch low.

BSD: #4 Nathan Burak, Iowa.  Shoulda been flipped with Pfarr.  Instead, Burak gets #5 Hartmann in the quarters, who is the last of the 5 "top dudes" at this weight.  Raw deal.


BHGP: #10 Max Huntley -- I would have gone with Studebaker, but the big lug went and got a Top-8 seed and disqualified himself here. So give me another slightly under-the-radar Big Ten guy who can do some damage at this weight instead. I think he can get past Harner in the second round and while I don't fancy his odds of beating #3 J'Den Cox (Missouri) in the quarters, he's a guy who can definitely beat some dudes in the consolation bracket.

BSD: Unseeded Pat Downey, Iowa State.  It's a good story.

Love It / Hate It / Shrug

BHGP: Hate  -- Emotionally, I hate Burak's seed because he beat Pfarr (the #3 seed) at the Big Ten Tournament and because this sets him up for a match with #1 Morgan McIntosh in the semifinals and since Burak has yet to score a takedown on him in five previous encounters, let's just say my optimism isn't exactly high for that bout.  Intellectually I can understand that Pfarr did split his matches with Burak and probably has a slightly better resume overall (including a win over Hartmann). Still sucks, though.

BSD: Love it.  Morg's the top dog, and looks good to the semi-finals.

285 LBS

The Top 8 Seeds

1) Nick Gwiazdowski, NC State (SR, 29-0)
2) Kyle Snyder, Ohio State (SO, 6-0)
3) Ty Walz, Virginia Tech (JR, 23-2)
4) Austin Marsden, Oklahoma State (SR, 27-1)
5) Adam Coon, Michigan (JR, 18-2)
6) Denzel Dejournette, Appalachian State (JR, 31-2)
7) Amarveer Dhesi, Oregon State (SO, 27-3)
8) Max Wessell, Lehigh (SR, 24-4)

Seeding Gift

BHGP: #14 Blaize Cabell, UNI -- Can you really say that the #14 seed got a "gift"? I mean, they're still the #14 seed, which is nothing special. But Cabell is ranked 18th by Intermat and not ranked at all by Flo, so #14 does seem a little high. But #8 Max Wesell of Lehigh also deserves attention here -- he grabbed a top-8 seed despite being ranked 10th by Intermat and 11th by Flo.  Then again, his reward is a likely quarterfinal pasting by Gwiz, so beware seeding committees bearing gifts, as the old saying goes.

BSD: #8 Max Wessell, Lehigh.  I'll be surprised if he's on the podium Sunday.

Seeding Curse

BHGP: #12 Billy Smith, Rutgers -- Despite being ranked 9th by Intermat and 10th by Flo and finishing 4th in the Big Ten, Billy Smith could only get a #12 seed by the committee.  No respect for Rutgers, I tells ya.

BSD: Unseeded Tanner Hall, Arizona State.  Midlands runner-up draws 3-seed Walz in the opener.  Finishing 3rd at PAC12s really stings.


BHGP: #12 Billy Smith, Rutgers -- That said, I still believe in ya, Billy.  He's good enough to make the podium even from the #12 seed, although he'll need to do work in the consos if he loses as expected to #5 Adam Coon (Michigan) in the second round.

BSD: #16 Nathan Butler, Stanford.  He's not beating Gwiz, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the podium.

Love It / Hate It / Shrug

BHGP: Shrug. If Stoll didn't injure his knee against Gwiz a few weeks ago... sigh. Ifs and buts and whatnot.  I didn't expect Stoll to get a very high seed after that injury and his 8th place finish at the Big Ten Tournament, so I'll take this and see what happens.  Maybe he can string together a few wins -- he does at least avoid the most fearsome top guys at this weight, although Dejournette would be a mighty solid R2 foe -- or get some pins in the consolation bracket.  That would be nice.

BSD: Nothing left for PSU here but to shrug and focus on the other nine weights.

Projected Points Based On Bracket Seeds

Here's how things look for the top teams if all 330 wrestlers across 10 weights finished according to seed, and no one scored bonus points.  (No - that'll never, ever happen.  But it gives you an idea of how the favorites stack up).

WT Penn State OkieState Iowa VaTech OhioSt Cornell NCState Mizzou
125 13.5 8.0 12.5 16.0 20.0 0.5 0.5 5.5
133 9.0 0.5 16.0 0.0 2.5 20.0 0.5 0.5
141 0.5 20.0 0.0 6.5 8.0 0.0 13.5 9.0
149 20.0 2.5 16.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 13.5
157 13.5 8.0 1.5 5.5 0.5 9.0 16.0 0.5
165 0.5 20.0 0.5 1.5 13.5 0.5 9.0 12.5
174 20.0 2.5 1.5 5.5 2.5 16.0 0.0 13.5
184 1.5 5.5 16.0 9.0 0.5 20.0 1.5 1.5
197 20.0 0.5 12.5 8.0 0.0 0.5 2.5 16.0
285 0.0 12.5 2.5 13.5 16.0 0.5 20.0 0.0
TOTAL 98.5 80.0 79.0 65.5 63.5 67.5 63.5 72.5