Christian Pyles, Flo College Analyst
My favorite week of the year! NCAA’s. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last few, and am sorry that I wasn’t able to swing the trip this year (wife due in like 2 weeks). I love the energy of the crowd and all the great matches.
Some of what makes this tournament so exciting is the ever-looming possibility of an upset. Seeing a Top 3 seed fall, or an unseeded guy crash the semi’s or earn All American honors is always a dramatic and enthralling moment.
The fact is that this tournament is extremely talent-rich. While the seeded guys have done the things to separate themselves, the difference between an unseeded wrestler and a seeded one at times is not as vast as we might think.
Going through each weight, I’m going to give you both darkhorses (unseeded guys or very low seeds who can crash the party and make a nice run) and letdowns (highly seeded guys who I think could potentially enter the backside a bit early and/or not place).
As a disclaimer, do not consider my “potential letdowns” as any sort of sign of disrespect towards these guys. I admire how great all of these guys are. This is simply my opinion of a number of factors they will be up against (draw, health, experience in competitive matches) and how I think they could possibly lose.
Starting with 125
Darkhorses: This is a pretty deep weight so I’ve got a few.
Christian Cullinan-CMU: Here’s a guy who’s been top 10 much of the season for us. He had an atrocious conference tournament and lost his seed. Cullinan is a big 125 who relies on his riding and counters to beat guys. His bad conference tournament cost him a seed, but honestly, I like his draw. Should win his first match with little trouble. When he get’s sent to the consolations by Nico, he has a very manageable path to the round of 12 and I believe he will have a beatable opponenet there.
Sean Boyle-Michigan: Had a decent season and had a great Big 10 tournament. Beat Triggas and Thorn both last week. His draw isn’t amazing since he has Rappo (probably) first then Waters. So I’m not sure if he has the necessary path to make the medal stand, but he will be a tough match for nearly anyone he faces.
Nick Soto-UTC: He’s a guy I’ve had my eye on much of the year. Has a few good wins(Jarrod Garnett being the best one by far), but those wins happened early in the year, and he’s had mixed results since then. If he can get by Tyler Cox(who is fairly inconsistent in his own right), he’ll get a rematch with Garnett. Not that I’d favor him, but that’s a pretty decent situation for an unseeded guy. Even if he loses to Garnett, he’ll have a decent draw afterwards.
David Thorn-Minnesota: This guy came into this year with really high expectations from many wrestling fans. He hasn’t quite lived up to the billing we heard about coming into this season, but he’s solid and dangerous. Has a brutal draw of Waters first, then probably Mark Rappo or Sean Boyle. So it’s a distinct possibility he doesn’t win a match. His talent is better than 0-2, so I see him not going down without a fight and battling back through the wrestle backs.
A few others to watch, but don’t feel as strongly about are Mark Rappo, Edward Klimara and Steve Bonanno. Like I said. Deep weight.
125 Potential Let Down:
Alan Waters-Missouri: Many may think that this pick is due to Waters past NCAA struggles. While that is something in my mind, it is obvious that Waters is an improved wrestler. So I don’t see the let down necessarily for that reason. The 1 seed (in my opinion) wasn’t too terribly kind to Alan. He’s going to Have Thorn, Boyle/Rappo, Snyder/Sprenkle then Nico. Now don’t get me wrong, Waters is a prohibitive favorite in the first 3 matches. But let’s say he’s 85% to win against Thorn and Boyle/Rappo, and a 75% to win over Sprenkle/Snyder, law of averages suggests he’s going to have a tough match in there and as I mentioned earlier, anything can happen here. So just by the numbers, it’s a very tough road, the more challenges he faces, the more likely he is to have a misstep. That is just to get to Nico, where he is 50/50 in my mind, and I think I actually like Nico to win this match. Not that Alan getting 3rd(should he lose in the semis and wrestle back) is a real “let down” considering the strength of this weight, but he’s got a tough path to match his seeding, and I think it’s a real possibility he doesn’t.
I’m keeping it real here, 133 has some awesome guys, but this is not a great weight if you look beyond the first few guys. It has been a tough to rank much of the year as this weight has continued to cannibalize itself. This list won’t be nearly as extensive as 125.
George DiCamillo-UVA: Considering I live about 30 minutes from UVA, I was pretty excited when they pulled DiCamillo’s redshirt. He has had a nice year for a True Freshman, and earning a seed and winning the ACC is a nice start to his career. I like his draw and his potential path to All American status. George should face Nathan McCormick in round 2. If you saw their CKLV semi-final, you’d know these two are not separated by too much and that a few things would have potentially shifted that match for DiCamillo. Should he drop down to the consolation he should cruise to the round of 12 where he will face (in my opinion) Cody Brewer, a guy I’ve been high on for quite some time. Two Freshman matching up in the round of 12 and you know anything can happen. Should DiCamillo beat McCormick and make the semi’s, he will have an even more favorable match up in the round of 12.
Shelton Mack-Pittsburgh: I expected Shelton to have more of a break out season this year. He hasn’t entered the top 10 like I once thought he might. However, he’s been tough, and I like his potential draw. Will run into Stieber early, put his path to the round of 12 is workable. I wouldn’t necessarily predict him to place this year, but the skills are there and the path seems to be manageable.
Aaron Schopp-Edinboro: AJ has been great this year, but I think Dardanes gets him in the quarters. After watching their All Star match, I really felt like Dardanes would be ready next time around. Looks like the next time around will be the NCAA quarter-finals. Dardanes had a few tactical errors(went for a reversal instead of taking the escape costing lots of riding time and no reversal) last time, and I see him turning the tides this match. When AJ drops into the round of 12 I believe he will run into Scott Sentes. Sentes, is not the guy he was 2 years ago when he placed 4th, but his skill set is still there and that’s a very scary match up for anyone. It’ll be one worth watching as both make their living scrambling and punishing on top. I’m not picking AJ to lose to Sentes, but it’s tough scenario for the 4 seed to face.
Jon Morrison-Oklahoma State: Number of factors at play here that lead me to include Jon. Like Waters, it’s not based necessarily on his previous NCAA shortcomings, it’s simply a difficult draw. Right out of the gate he faces Mackenzie McGuire. Not exactly a household name, but Mackenzie handed Jon a loss this year. Not exactly an ideal first match to get the NCAA’s rolling. Should he win, he gets the aforementioned Sentes, if he navigates that one, Ramos. So you can see, it’s a tough road. He’s a 7 seed, so it’s not like he’s a super-high seed, but I can see this getting really tough for Jon if he doesn’t have it all together from the get-go.
Some good ones here in a very interesting weight.
Zach Neibert-VT: Maybe it’s a little VA bias showing, but I think he’s a pretty scary match up for an unseeded guy. He’s battled injuries this year, and it’s hard to say how healthy he will be for this one. He looked pretty tough at ACC’s even though he fell Henderson. He’s a creative and skilled wrestler who can score in a variety of ways. He’s got Nevinger first, and I really think he can win that one right away, he’ll then face Ugi, who beat him earlier, but tends to keep matches very close. The more Ugi does that, the more likely it is to catch up with him. Neibert could very well find himself in the quarters. Let’s say he does drop in rd 1 to Nevinger, he has a very nice path to make the round of 12. So really, he isn’t just banking on pulling up the upset early, he has multiple paths that can lead to the podium.
Joey Lazor-UNI: This guy has been tough as nails this year. Really solid record and he’s really only lost to elite guys for the most part. He’s the spark plug for the upstart UNI squad and he is a very tough unseeded guy. He’ll have two winnable matches before he faces Maple. Once he’s sent to wrestle-backs by Kendric, he will probably see Feikert then Cobb to make the Round of 12. Tough guys, but guys Joey can beat. In the R12 he will see Henderson, who has been great this year, but in the blood round, anything can happen.
Steven Keith-Harvard: Who knows with this guy, he’s really up and down, but he knows how to get on the podium and his draw is good on the consolation side. He’s tough on top, but needs to stay off his own back as well to make it happen. I like his match ups on the consolation side with Pearsall and then Durso.
141 Potential Let Downs:
Ugi Khishignyam-Citadel: As I mentioned earlier, Ugi is a real talent, but he tends to wrestle very close and controlled matches. He also came into this year as a relatively unknown commodity. Previously there was very little film on him but as the season goes on and coaches get more footage, it’s possible to figure out tendencies and patterns. Ugi could potentially be a victim of this. I like his talent and see him on the podium, but Ugi falling short would not surprise me either. Wrestling close matches makes upsets more likely. That’s just science.
David Habat-Edinboro: Habats been much of the same guy he was last year. He’s got a decent draw even after he loses in rd 1 to JO. He’ll have challenges from Villalonga, Lester and Lopouchanski probably along the way, but he’s got the pedigree to hit the round of 12 where he will hit one of our potential letdowns in Cole Von Ohlen.
Nick Lester-Oklahoma: Came somewhat out of nowhere last year, and history has been known to repeat itself. He finds himself on the same track to AA status as Habat provided he loses to Chamberlain. He’s good on top and I think the world of Mark Cody’s ability to get guys to perform when it matters most.
Drake Houdashelt-Missouri: Got a good test right away in Alton, and at this point I have no idea what to expect from Andrew. Drake could pull the upset, and if he loses to Ness he will probably hit Paddock then Brascetta in the blood round. He beat Tessari at National Duals so he’s shown he can hang with 149’s elite.
Ian Paddock-Ohio State: Still a bit of an unknown at this weight, but he has shown he’s someone to be reckoned with even if he’s undersized. He’s got a tough first match with Vinson in a pig tail but I see him cruising through his first 3 matches in the consolations where I believe he will hit Alton, who, as we’ve mentioned is a real wildcard in this weight. If he wins that one he’s got Brascetta.
Cole Von Ohlen-Air Force: A number of factors lead me to choose CVO in this spot. He’s always been someone that I’ve thought got ranked a bit high in the past and never thought he would place in years past, and he hasn’t. He’s made some improvements on his feet coming into this year that I thought would be necessary as he tended to be a bit too top reliant. Now the issue for him seems to be his health. He’s medically forfeited a few times this season including his conference finals. In a vacuum I think it would tough for him to place. Considering the health questions as well, I think it’s very likely he doesn’t live up to his 4th seed.
Steve Santos-Columbia: Homer alert here, I’m a big time Santos fan. I’ve been following him for awhile and think it is awesome that he’s had as great a season he’s had. I actually think he’s got a great shot at the semi’s personally. So why am I saying he’s a potential let down? Well for starters he’s got a tough round 2 match with Grajales(who knows what we will get from him) then Von Ohlen. Should he lose to Grajales, he could have Houdashelt, Osterman, then Sakaguchi in the round of 12. If he makes it to CVO and loses, I like his chances in the blood round against Lopouchanski.
Josh Demas-Ohio State: I’ve been high on Josh for sometime now, even before his awesome OT win over Alton, he had been on the precipice of so many big wins, it was only a matter of time before he broke through. He has made some real strides on the mat between last year and know. He’s improved(but still struggles) from underneath. He has elite speed to get in deep, but struggles to have the power behind it to finish on the best guys. His path is tough on the topside. Pena is great on top, a weakness of Josh’s. It’s possible Josh could exploit some of Pena’s neutral problems. If he somehow got by Pena, he has another tough match up against Dong(sidenote: both went to Westerville High School in Ohio). I don’t think I like him necessarily in that match either. However, even if Demas loses in round 1, I like his draw to the round of 12. He will have better match ups, and will face someone like Dieringer in the round of 12. Dieringer has been tough this year, but I’m not sure he really earned his 6 seed. Dieringer has made a living beating the 15-20 ranked guys all year, but is yet to notch a win against a top 10 guy. So yeah, I like Demas to turn heads, and another year of seasoning and another year under J Jaggers tutelage can only help someone as talented as Josh.
Danny Zilverberg-Minnesota: This guy has been coming on lately. A few years ago he had some serious hype when he beat both Alton’s in Freestylee. He has always been a guy who could compete with anyone due to his great positioning and pesky riding. His draw is not especially favorable considering he has a very tough Ivanov in round 1. If he wins that he gets Napoli, who wrestles a similar style, but is probably a bit better from neutral. Should he lose to Napoli, he will probably have guys like Kyle Bradley, Peppelman and Alton in the Rd of 12. Considering he just beat Alton at Big 10’s, this is a pretty exciting scenario for Minnesota fans who didn’t know who would be their starter much of the year.
Jedd Moore-UVA: No. This isn’t just because I’m a VA guy, I think Jedd has a real shot to make some noise here. It’s not just that he’s got a necessarily amazing skill set, but he’s experienced, and knows who he is in all positions. Most of my thinking is based on his path. He’s got Fleming in rd 2. The two have never met, which may or may not be a factor(adjusting to Fleming’s Snapper isn’t something you want to “learn on the fly”). However, Fleming has been relatively untested much of the year wrestling only a handful of ranked wrestlers, and Medical Forfeited his conference final. So there’s a conceivable path to the quarters where he’d face a familiar foe in James Green(he beat Green at Vegas). Not predicting a repeat of that result, but that’s a decent situation for Jedd. If he drops the match to Green, he’ll have Pena which will be a winnable match.
Dylan Alton-PSU: Ok, he’s an 8 seed, so I’m only listing Alton because he has a realistic shot at the finals. Hickman(1-0), Welch(2-1) and Green(3-0) are the most likely opponents he will face, and as you can see he’s a combined 6-1 against those three. Not a bad situation for an 8 seed to be in. Alton has shown a way to neutralize Welch’s offense and has been able to score off his attacks without getting into the positions where Welch thrives.
157 Potential Letdowns:
Jason Welch-Northwestern: Congrats, you earned the 1 seed. Your prize: Dylan Alton in the Quarters. Now there are a few factors at play here. Alton has some tough customers in route to the quarter finals in Ohara and Hickman. He’s beaten Hickman before, and I don’t see that being a huge issue. Welch is 1-2 against Alton as I mentioned earlier. Should Welch lose to Alton, he should cruise in the Rd of 12 and earn a decent place. Still a 1 seed losing in the quarters would be a pretty big let down.
James Fleming-Clarion: I alluded to some questions I had about Fleming coming into this tournament earlier, and I think those questions are legitimate. He will be challenged right away in rd 2. Should he lose, the road to placing is long and full of tough guys culminating possibly with a Round of 12 match with Jesse Dong. I’m wary of picking success for anyone who relies on such a specific hold and specific position. NCAA’s is not always about who is the best, rather who’s the best that day. Fleming has health questions at a bad time of the year, and that’s one reason I foresee some problems. Fleming has old-school grit and determination that you hear in his interviews and see in his wrestling. If it’s simply a question of guts, he will place without issue. Sometimes it takes more than that though.
Alex Dieringer-Oklahoma State: As I mentioned earlier, I felt his seed rewarded a fairly weak schedule. I had my eye on Dieringer coming into this season as a Freshman All American based on his Freestyle success. While he hasn’t had any bad losses(though the Vollrath loss did not instill too much confidence), he has yet to really notch a good win. He’ll have Peppelman early, and even if he gets by there, he’ll probably have Demas or Hickman in the round of 12. Both are beatable, but both would easily be the best win of his career. He’s a Freshman, and it is tough to say how they will react to the big stage. I don’t think that will be a factor as much as the aforementioned lack of competition, but it still bears mentioning
Not many jumped out at me like in other weight
Mike Moreno-ISU: He’s really the only one that stands out to me as far as an unseeded guy who could be dangerous. Moreno has 7 losses. Each guy is not only a seeded wrestler(Graham x3, Polz, Caldwell,Monk, Moore) but I’d be surprised if the first 4 didn’t wind up on the podium. He seems to be peaking at the right time and he beat Caldwell just 2 weeks ago. Good momentum coming into the tournament, so keep your eye out for him. He will probably have a tough Round of 12 opponent either way, regardless if he wins his 1st round match, so placing will be tough, but this weight has a pretty well defined top 8, so breaking through will be tough.
165 Potential Letdown:
Tyler Caldwell-Oklahoma State: There have been times this year when Tyler Caldwell has been mentioned in the discussion with Dake and Taylor. There are other times when you wonder if he will be able to get himself on the podium. Caldwell is much of the same guy he was in years past: A guy who hand fights hard, picks his spot on his feet and occasionally get a tough ride going on top. He has had a few head scratching losses this year: One to Corey Lear, who didn’t even qualify and another to Mike Moreno. Now, considering Caldwell’s history at NCAA’s(placing as an unseeded True Freshman, and beating Howe to make finals against Burroughs) it may be dumb to suggest a letdown from Caldwell who has shown he can be great when it matters most. I think Monk can give him a serious fight and send him to the round of 12. If he loses that he will probably have someone like Nick Moore, who he should beat. Not a profound prediction, but as I said earlier, The top 8 is pretty tight, and the other guys are on the outside looking in for a reason. So that makes it pretty tough to pick anyone to have a let down. In all likelihood Caldwell makes the semi’s, but the possibility of trouble looms if he lays an egg as he has earlier this year.
Keeping it real here. This weight has been talked about plenty, and for good reason. There are some real quality guys here that are separated by pretty narrow margins: Perry, Storley, Evans, Brown, Heflin, Kokesh ,Blanton and Asper are the 8 best guys in my opinion and I think they have separated from the rest of the field. While it’s possible(and actually pretty likely) that one of these guys doesn’t place and someone seeded lower will, I am having a hard time finding that particular guy.
So my first and only Darkhorse:
Logan Storley-Minnesota: NCAA seeding people completely dropped the ball here in my opinion. Storley has wins over the 1, 2,3,4,5 and 7 seed. He had a bad tournament and he careens to the 6 seed. A guy like Hamlin was able to Medically forfeit to 6th place in his conference and he earned a higher seed than Bosak who wrestled and won the whole tournament. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I feel like the NCAA openly rewarded a medical forfeit in this instance. On the other hand, a clearly not 100% Storley guts out some matches and loses(only to ranked guys) and the clear number 1 is now the 6? Just not a fair representation of the entire season. Ok, I’m off my soap box. I fully expect Storley to be recovered from whatever was bothering him at Big 10’s. I think he beats Evans(for the 3rd time) and Brown(for the 2nd time) and makes the finals as a 6. He will face Perry who he has a 50/50 shot at in my opinion. He’s not really a darkhorse, but at the 6 seed, I see him majorly surpassing that numerical ranking.
174 Potential Letdown:
Josh Asper-Maryland: Ok, back on my soapbox for a moment. Asper faced 2 seeded wrestlers this year. He lost to number 7 seed Blanton, and beat the 12 seed Miller. He is seeded ahead of Storley. Please let that sink in for a moment. Please don’t misconstrue this as some sort of slight against Asper, an All American and high quality wrestler. He simply has not faced much competition at all this year, and his results against tough competition have been muddled at best. The seeding committee was simply not consistent in how they reward bodies of work in this instance. All that being said, I believe Asper is plenty good enough to place. However, it is pretty concerning how little competition he’s faced. When the intensity rises, I tend to favor more battle tested wrestlers. If Asper gets by Miller again(was only a 2 point match last time), he will have Kokesh, who is the definition of battle tested. I don’t see him winning there. He’ll drop down to a workable round of 12 match against Yates(in my opinion), who has faced some tough guys this year. Asper’s a favorite there, but Yates can make it interesting.
184, like a few other weights has a pretty well defined upper echelon. There aren’t many guys I see coming out of nowhere for a top 5 type finish but there are some that I could see outwrestling their seed, or an unseeded guy who could make a nice run. Ruth, Bennett, Hamlin, Bosak, Steinhaus are a very tough top tier that I would be surprised to be penetrated. They’ve separated themselves from the field. They have only beaten each other. Nobody outside of the top 5 has beaten any of these guys.
Mike Larson-Missouri: This is more about the draw than anything. Whether he wins or loses his round two match I see him making the round of 12 and having a winnable match in that spot. Should he beat Loder, he would probably have Ihnen in the round of 12. Ihnen has not looked himself recently, and I’m unsure as to whether he will be clicking on all cylinders at NCAA’s. If he loses to Loder on the top side, he will have Chionuma, someone he has beaten(though Chionuma is 2-1 against him). Not a bad situation for the unseeded Tiger.
Ethen Lofthouse-Iowa: It’s been a roller coaster for Ethen, up a weight, mixed results, mid-season wrestle off with Gambrall, and a great Big 10 tournament. He’s been mediocre most of the year, but he’s putting it together when it matters most. I also think he’s got a pretty nice draw for himself. Though he hits Steinhaus in the 2nd round, who is a bad matchup for him, his wrestleback route is nice, he will likely have Jimmy Sheptock in the round of 12, someone he beat last year in this exact round to attain All American status. Not only do I see him winning that match, but he could beat Loder(by my predictions) in the next round and may find himself wrestling for 5th when it’s all said and done. He may not place, but I’d be surprised to see him outside the round of 12.
184 Potential Letdown:
Not really seeing one at this weight in a vacuum. However..
Robert Hamlin-Lehigh: You never like to see guys medically forfeiting in their conference tournament. While I think all things considered Hamlin is the 2nd best guy at this weight, the body doesn’t always hold up through the grind of the college season. Perhaps his forfeiting was merely a precautionary measure taken by Pat Santoro, I truly hope that is the case. If it’s not, it could be a tough conclusion to a fine career. He faces tough opponents every step of the way. Newburg and Magrum are quality, and Loder in the quarters is always dangerous.
Quite a few guys here, this has been a pretty bizarre weight with lots of inconsistent results in the lower half of the rankings. The top 4 is fairly impermeable, but from 5 on, I could see a pretty wide number of guys on the podium.
Andrew Campolattano-Ohio State: Camp is a big talent. Last year he turned it on at NCAA’s and just missed All American status. He hasn’t made the strides I thought he might, but timing is everything here.
Richard Perry-Bloomsburg: He’s been tough all year, only lost to tough guys this year and has notched a few solid wins. His draw is decent, and even though he has Wilps early, he has faced him twice and has lost by 1 point both times. So for having a 3 seed in rd 2 it’s not so bleak. His wrestle back path is not ideal should he lose to Wilps and making the round of 12 will be difficult.
Christian Boley-Maryland: Of the people I’ve mentioned so far, Boley may have the most high quality wins of the bunch. His draw is terrible though. He’s got Schiller right away, then he will have either Micah Burak or Jake Meredith very early in the wrestle backs. I mention him because talent wise, I see him in the same class as the previously mentioned guys(plus his first name simply emanates greatness, right?). His draw will require him wrestling exceptionally well for him to place.
Brandon Palik-Drexel: Brandon has quietly had a very solid year. 4 losses, none of them particularly bad, and he is coming off his signature win over Schiedel in the CAA finals. Not an ideal draw, but manageable. After Q sends him to the wrestle backs he will face Nathan Burak, Schiedel/Camp, then Meeks looks like his wrestle back path.
Mario Gonzalez-Illinois: He’s tough, a Big 10 champ, and talented. He hasn’t been great this year, but for an unseeded guy he’s as dangerous as anybody.
Brent Haynes-Missouri: Another really solid guy. I thought he would put himself in the top 5 discussion this year honestly. Not so much. However, he’s a guy who has notched some serious wins in his career: Scott Schiller, Campolattano, Sonny Yohn(2 times), Blake Rosholt, Joe Kennedy and Micah Burak. So yeah, he’s on the list too.
Nathan Burak-Iowa: Told you there were a lot. The Freshman very well could go 2 and bbq here, but I don’t think he will be overwhelmingly outclassed(save the nightmare Kilgore matchup) in any of his consolation matches. He has shown flashes that he’s right there with some of the better guys at this weight. It’s possible he goes on a run to the round of 12. He’s probably my biggest reach, but I believe in his talent.
197 Potential Letdown:
Nathan Schiedel-Binghamton: Tough kid, but I don’t view him as being all that much better than many of the guys mentioned above. Especially considering he is a 7 seed. He is coming off a loss to Brandon Palik, and Schiedel is another one of those guys who hasn’t been tested this year, and while he’s an absolute bonus point machine, he hasn’t been beating many elite guys save Burak. I see Schiller sending him into the wrestle backs in round 2, then he will probably face Campolattano right away, should he get by him, he’d have Palik then Meeks in the round of 12. That’s a rough draw, no two ways about it.
Not much here(especially compared to 197)
Jarrod Trice-CMU: He’s a tough guy that I think will be ready. He’s been good at NCAA’s before, and I think he surpasses his seed. I see him upsetting Medberry in round two. Even though Nelson will probably send him into the wrestle backs, he will have a very winnable match in the blood round. I could see him anywhere from 4th-8th and would be surprised to see him much lower.
Justin Grant-Bloomsburg: Solid season for the guy and I like his draw. He very well could upset Felix in the first round. Their resume’s are fairly comparable based on this season. Either way, I like his path to the round of 12 after that match.
285 Potential Letdown:
Chad Hanke-Oregon State: A lot of 4 seeds are vulnerable to losing their quarter and getting sent to the always-dangerous round of 12. This prediction is not based on any negative thing I’ve observed about Hanke. I think he’s absolutely excellent and a very skilled wrestler. The problem is he’s got McMullan in his quarter-final and he is also excellent. I consider that a 50/50 match. Should he lose, he’s got either Medberry or Trice in the round of 12. Not ideal for the 4 seed as both guys are legit. I’d be fairly surprised to see Hanke off the podium, but of the higher seeded guys, he or McMullan are the two I can see falling outside the top 8.
Thanks for reading! This thing was a beast to tackle, but it was fun. Tune in later for my complete NCAA predictions later this week.