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BSD Wrestling’s NCAA Tourney Roundtable Part I

The squad has weighed in, and aggressively attacks weights 125 - 157 of this weekend’s NCAA National Championships

NCAA Wrestling: DI Wrestling Championships Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

4:35 updated with new 125 pound bracket, which was redrawn when Arizona State’s Ryan Milhof withdrew due to an injury sustained in practice yesterday.

With the Big Ten Conference Tourney crown returned to its proper residence atop Cael Sanderson’s shiny head, it’s time to focus on the National Championships, where Penn State seeks to win its 4th title in a row, and 8th in the past nine years.

To help provide you dear readers with all the dope postseason content you earned by grinding through this season with us, our quartet of wrestling writers came together to give you their thoughts on this weekend’s tournament.

Today’s piece will cover the first five weight classes (125-157), while the second part of the series will run on Wednesday and detail the back half (165-285).


Here is ESPN’s post on their planned coverage.

Session I: Thursday, March 21, 12 p.m. EST

  • Cable TV: ESPNU, mat rotation they select
  • Webstream: ESPN3, all 8 mats, you select
  • Championship R1 (1 Advancement Point, 2 Bonus Points available for each bout)

Session II: Thursday, March 21, 7 p.m. EST

  • Cable TV: ESPN Main, mat rotation they select
  • Webstream: ESPN3, all 8 mats, you select
  • Championship R2 (1 Advancement, 2 Bonus)
  • Consolation R32 (.5 Advancement, 2 Bonus)

Session III: Friday, March 22, 11 a.m. EST

  • Cable TV: ESPNU, mat rotation they select
  • Webstream: ESPN3, all 8 mats, you select
  • Championship Quarterfinals (1 Advancement, 6 Placement, 2 Bonus Points available)
  • Consolation R24 (.5 Advancement, 2 Bonus)
  • Consolation R16 (.5 Advancement, 2 Bonus)

Session IV: Friday, March 22, 8 p.m. EST

  • Cable TV: ESPN Main, mat rotation they select
  • Webstream: ESPN3, all 6 mats, you select
  • Championship Semifinals (1 Advancement, 6 Placement, 2 Bonus)
  • Consolation R12 (.5 Advancement, 3 Placement, 2 Bonus)
  • Consolation Quarterfinals (.5 Adv. 3 Placement, 2 Bonus)

Session V: Saturday, March 23, 11 a.m. EST

  • Cable TV: ESPNU, mat rotation they select
  • Webstream: ESPN3, all 3 mats, you select
  • Consolation Semifinals (.5 Adv, 3 Placement, 2 Bonus)
  • 3rd, 5th, 7th Place (1 Placement, 2 Bonus)

Session VI: Saturday, March 23, 7 p.m. EST

  • Cable TV: ESPN Main
  • Webstream: ESPN3, “Off the Mat” pregame show and additional comment during. (Jp note: I watched this in 2017 when I stayed home, and it was really good. They had Kevin Dresser & David Taylor doing commentary then. Could be a nice additive option for those interested).
  • Championship Finals (4 Placement, 2 Bonus)

Story Lines to Watch

Clay: In the words of UFC announcing great Bruce Buffer, iiiiiitttt’sssss tiiiiiimmmmeee for your maaaiin event of the season. We are officially in nationals week and ya boy (that’s me!) is pumped up. Penn State looks set to cruise to yet another team championship but there’s still plenty of intrigue throughout the field. How will Spencer Lee respond to adversity? Can RBY get on the podium? How many individual finalists will PSU have? Title winners? How badly will Tom Ryan melt down if OSU misses the podium? This week in Pittsburgh should be awesome and those of you who will be there with me (as well as JP and Cari) should make it a point to seek us on and join in the revelry!

Cari: The tournament is back in Pennsylvania for the first time since PSU’s first title under Cael, and this year we’re looking to set more records – scoring records, that is. There was talk that the Nittany Lions could break the record (set in 1997 by Iowa) last year, but they only scored 141.5 points, less than the previous year and almost 30 below the record. Do I think they will? No, probably not – getting no points at 125 and RBY drawing DeSanto in the second round kinda does not bode well for the record. But considering the Lions will likely have the team title all but locked up before the calendar flips to March 23, this is another record to root for.

Bscaff: Based on seeds, there aren’t many points separating contenders 2-Ohio State, 3-Oklahoma State, 4-Michigan, and 5-Iowa. But only three of those four go home with a trophy. With Penn State likely locking up the big trophy by Friday night, watching which team is left without a seat at the table when the music stops should be an interesting scene.

Jp: My favorite story line at Nationals is the convergence of such varied fanbases. Since my first trip to Oklahoma City in 2014, I’ve enjoyed people-watching in the arena almost as much as the action on the mat. I love the localized seating arrangements and how a whole section will erupt when their guy does something cool. From that same perspective (of enjoying observing human behavior), the opposite reactions are also really cool to behold. When one squad has multiple disappointing performances or results below a wrestler’s seed, I find watching that team’s section super compelling.

So I’m going to be focusing on the back half of the top-ten. Teams like Cornell, Missouri, Lehigh, NC State and Virginia Tech will all have large representative fanbases and will be battling for that top-ten finish. It’s gonna rock so hard.



Clay: Any one of five guys could come out of this weight, which is something I would not have told you prior to the season. Spencer Lee coming back to earth has opened this field right up and it’s suddenly one of the most intriguing weights to watch. That being said, the kid up there in Evanston, Illinois appears to be on his own vision quest and I just can’t pick against him.

Pick: Sebastian Rivera, Northwestern.

Cari: Last year, Spencer Lee came out of nowhere, and I’m not ashamed to say that I unabashedly rooted for him in Cleveland after hearing his choice of run-out music. I think he peaks at the right time for the second year in a row, and avenges his Picc pin and second loss to Rivera. This weight should be really exciting on Friday and Saturday.

Pick: Spencer Lee, Iowa.

Bscaff: This weight class has gone nothing like I expected it to go, all year long. I see no reason for it to suddenly snap back to August 2018.

Pick: Nick Piccininni, Oklahoma State

Jp: Spencer was in control for most of that Big Ten rematch against Rivera. I feel like he’s a good guy to stick with and he’ll reward those who stubbornly ride like it’s August 2018.

Pick: Spencer Lee, Iowa

Dark Horse

Clay: Jack Mueller, UVA. It seems almost unfair to call an undefeated former All-American a darkhorse, but I think the committee will allow it. Mueller, who got a late start to his season after he had previously decided to redshirt, is undefeated on the year but only gets the five seed do to that late start. His ability on top makes him a problem for everyone else in the field and I truly believe he can win it all.

Cari: RayVon Foley, MSU. He’s the Spartans’ highest seeded wrestler in a number of years, and could very easily make it to a Friday morning matchup with SeaBass – and I could easily see him wrestling for fifth (or even third!) on Saturday morning.

Bscaff: 15-Sean Fausz, NC State.

Jp: 7-seed Pat Glory, Princeton.

Our Guy

Clay: Welllllp.

Cari: Heart U, Schnupp.

Bscaff: Nico went 2-0 at the World Cup for Team USA on day 1. Jordan Conaway kilt a bunch of dudes in Fortnite.

Jp: I’ve loved that Sam Janicki gave us permission to use his beautiful photos, but every time I browse his 2019 Southern Scuffle pics, I’m haunted by the what could have beens in the team photo.

Sam Janicki Photos

That’s former Penn Stater Gavin Teasdale that Roman Bravo-Young is resting the trophy on.



Clay: It was all going to plan at 133 until it wasn’t. I had picked Stevan Micic to win this weight even before Seth Gross went out and after Gross did I felt even more confident. Micic rolled through the regular season undefeated before being bit by the injury bug at the worst possible time. Because of that, my pick has shifted to the guy I feel is wrestling better than anyone else right now.

Pick: Nick Suriano, Rutgers.

Cari: The bottom side of the bracket is waaay tough, and Daton Fix’s only challenge on his side is the only wrestler who’s beaten him this season – but Phillipi could easily be bumped to the consis early. I would not be surprised if any of Suriano, Micic, Lizak, DeSanto, RBY, or Wilson wins the other side and faces Fix on Saturday night – and coming out of that side will be an accomplishment in and of itself. But it won’t be enough.

Pick: Daton Fix, Ok State.

Bscaff: When 2-Micic default from B1Gs with a bad wheel, there went the straight-forward, logical choice.

Pick: Daton Fix, Okie State

Jp: Yeah, Suriano’s my pick too.

Dark Horse

Clay: It doesn’t feel right to pick Austin Desanto because we all know how dangerous he can be. So I’ll pick the true freshman in the blue singlet with the white stripe. Roman Bravo-Young looked a bit outgunned in his match with Desanto at Big Ten’s. But as JP showed, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he turns that result around in Pittsburgh. Do so and he could be primed for the semifinal run if Stevan Micic has a bum wheel.

Cari: Roman Bravo-Young. JP had an excellent breakdown (so good that two of us had to link to it!) of what the young PSUer did in his last outing vs DeSanto, and he seemed to figure it out near the end. I’m betting on him figuring it out this time, then wrestling for fifth after being bounced to the consis by Micic on Friday morning.

Bscaff: 11-Tariq Wilson, NC State

Jp: The consis are gonna be a bloodbath, way before they even reach the bloodround at this weight. I’ll join Scaff with the Wilson pick.

Our Guy

Clay: What to make of Roman Bravo-Young? I wish I could answer that for you. It’s abundantly clear how gifted he is physically, but is he mature and technical enough to make the podium in a loaded weight class? The back side isn’t too tough on him the way I have front side matches playing out. I think he takes advantage of that path on the back and finishes sixth.

Cari: See above. He could beat anybody, or be pinned in the first round like Lee last year. It’ll be fun to watch.

Bscaff: I dunno. This is a loaded weight class, featuring a ton of experienced, battle tested veterans. On the other hand, RBY looks like a killer. I’m prepared for anything from 3rd place to round of 16.

Jp: Man o day. Boosted by my colleagues’ confidence and my own re-watch of each of those gifs, then re-looking at the size of the knee brace Micic rocked on Saturday morning at B1Gs, I’ve talked myself into RBY advancing to the Semifinals!

I really should know better. But, but ... Cael Magic.



Clay: Some people go to symphonies. Others art shows. I watch wrestling. What Yianni Diakomihalis does on a wrestling mat is nothing short of art. He’s a savant who sees things coming before they even begin to develop and for that reason I refuse to pick against him.

Pick: Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell.

Cari: Yianni is taking no one by surprise this year, and the title is his to lose. Lee and McKenna will face off again on Friday night, this time to face the defending champ – who has a distinct advantage and will likely come off on top.

Pick: Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell.

Bscaff: Yianni D, Cornell.

Jp: Yianni only has to beat one of Nick Lee or Joey McKenna. Both of them have to beat the other just for the chance to beat Yianni D.

For this reason, Yianni is also my pick.

Dark Horse

Clay: This weight, like 133, is quite deep. Last year, Lock Haven’s Ronnie Perry made waves when he went from the 15th seed to the finals. This year, it’s Kyle Shoop’s turn to make an impact. I have Shoop knocking off Josh Alber of Northern Iowa in the second round to reach the quarters before falling to Kaid Brock in the blood round. It wouldn’t shock me, however, if Shoop were a semifinalist.

Cari: Chad Red, Nebraska. He benefited from a weak side of a bracket in Minneapolis, and as such gained confidence. He’ll end up on the podium after losing a decision to Yianni in the second round.

Bscaff: 15-Kaid Brock, Okie State

Jp: Ian Parker, Iowa State 17-seed.

Our Guy

Clay: It can (and will) be argued that Nick Lee’s path to semifinals is easier than that of Joey McKenna who is seeded above him. If Lee is on, as he has been all year save for a loss to Tristan Moran, he should roll to the semifinals where he will once again meet McKenna in a match with margins that are paper thin. Penn State usually wins those in big situations, why should this time be any different? I like Lee to finish as the runner-up to Yianni D.

Cari: Lee will avenge his loss to McKenna on Friday night, wearing him down again – for the fourth time in a row, McKenna will get up early and Lee will play catch up. But much like the dual in Columbus, Lee will be feeling it in Pittsburgh – and he’ll get the winning takedown with less than a minute to go in the third. Then he’ll fight hard and long (Ed. note: nice) against Yianni on Saturday in front of a distinctly pro-PSU crowd, but ultimately come up just short.

Bscaff: I think Nick’s floor is 4th.

Jp: If Nick Lee can’t get past Joey McKenna in Friday night’s Semifinals, he won’t lose again on Saturday morning.



Clay: Today I learned than my pick is looking to become a four-time All-American. Which is funny because it didn’t seem like it when I thought about his history in the NCAA tournament. It’s a good thing my memory has no bearing on the outcome.

Pick: Anthony Ashnault, Rutgers.

Cari: I don’t have a confidence pick or anything, I just think Ashnault peaked at the Big Tens and Micah Jordan is no Logan Stieber. I doubt he’ll make it to the finals, and wouldn’t be completely shocked if he was bounced to the wrestle backs before Friday night. So if not the Jersey boy or OSUer, then who? One of the eight twins here, of course!

Pick: Mitch Finesilver, Duke.

Bscaff: Here’s a fun thought - no one in this field could keep Zain to a regular decision. And probably not a major, either. Last year’s champ would tech or deck everyone in this bracket.

Pick: Ashnault, Rutgers.

Jp: I made time to watch Ashnault - Micah I and II, and also his dismantling of Kolodzik in the dual, and he looks extremely well-balanced. I do wish this version of him had been available to receive some zPain last year.

Pick: Anthony Ashnault, Fight Club University of New Jersey

Dark Horse

Clay: This bracket really opens up a bit if you can upset one of the top two, both of whom have proven to be upset prone. Why can’t NC State’s Justin Oliver go from the nine seed to the finals?

Cari: The latest Minnesota Thorn, Thomas will be bounced to the consis early but make a play in the blood round to get to the podium.

Bscaff: Bardy Berge, Swedish Chef, Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions

Jp: Dean Heil’s little brother has been training with him and learning from the great Cary Kolat at now-upstart Campbell University. He’s an 11-seed with a path against other Southeastern opponents. Josh Heil, Campbell’s first Semifinalist?

Our Guy

Clay: Brady got beat up pretty badly by Micah Jordan in the Big Ten semifinals before forfeit out on the back side. Who knows whether that was a health issue or Micah was just that good. If he’s healthy and the weight cut isn’t an issue, I see no reason Berge couldn’t be a quarterfinalist. I don’t think he gets that far, however, and if all falls as I see it he’ll have Anthony Artalona of Penn and then Pat Lugo of Iowa to become an All-American. I think he does so, finishing sixth.

Cari: Brady Berge is gonna take down Kolodzik, if the Tiger makes it to the second round (he will). He could easily win the quarters and find himself in the semis – but Ashnault is a tough matchup for him, and I think he’ll lose a heartbreaker. But an AA finish for this future 157er is great as a freshman!

Bscaff: the Swedish Chef is set up for a run to the podium from the 12-spot.

Jp: My friends here are right about this weight this year, which is why I had higher hopes for our own post-Zain 149 performance. As it is, or, what it looks like it is ... Penn State is probably a year away from another podium finish at this weight.



Clay: Next topic.

Cari: What Clay said.

Bscaff: Jason Nolf gets to use both of his legs this year, instead of just one.

Jp: Tyler Berger, Mark Manning and Jordan Burroughs trying to solve Jason Nolf deserves a longer post, but for now check out their 5-match D1 scoring history:

Dark Horse

Clay: When he wrestled Jason Nolf tough in the dual, I had no clue who Josh Humphreys of Lehigh was. The true freshman from Kentucky has since made sure I don’t forget who he is, winning the EIWA Tournament to grab the eight seed. He’ll run into a buzz saw in Nolf on the front side, but he’s got the game to contend with anyone else in wrestlebacks.

Cari: Steve Bleise of Minnesota, will make it to the quarters, narrowly lose to Berger and become an AA.

Bscaff: 12-Taleb Rahmani, Pittsburgh

Jp: Dang, I’m lovin Scaff’s picks. Pitt is gonna be one of those squads I’m looking forward to watching in the context of my opening story lines to watch. I’m glad nobody picked Princeton’s Quincy Monday, who in 11 losses this year has not yet looked like an All-American, despite his famous pedigree.

Clay & Cari took my other dark horses, so I’m going with Mizzou’s Jarret Jacques, the 13-seed with the 27-6 record.

Our Guy

Clay: Just another in a long line of all-time greats Penn State has produced in the Sanderson Era.

Cari: What else can we say about Nolf? I’ll be looking for your favorite Nolf gifs in the comments. He’s the biggest nerd who can kick your ass twelve different ways, and come back the next day with twelve more. A special, special guy, and we’re lucky to have cheered for him.

Bscaff: Nolf’s name will be spoken around Rec Hall for the next 40 years.

Jp: Here’s a fun exercise I’ve taken to playing with Nolf & Nickal this week: flip the perspective lens and look at their performances in Pittsburgh not as denouement, but rather as their Tokyo 2020 kickoffs.

Both are set to kick it hard this Spring in the Senior World Team Trials, and did you see what Zain Retherford brought with him onto the Freestyle circuit this weekend?

We may be saying goodbye to Jason Nolf’s Folkstyle career this weekend, but I guarantee you James Green will be scouting him. And he should.