2023 NCAA Championships Watch Party

The Toughest Half Of A Bracket At The 2023 NCAA Championships

The Toughest Half Of A Bracket At The 2023 NCAA Championships

Which half of the ten 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championship brackets was the toughest? We endeavor to answer that question in this blog.

Mar 25, 2023 by Andrew Spey

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Bracket reveals are a special time for wrestling fans. All potential paths to a title are laid out in exquisite detail. And the more special the tournament, the more special the reveal, hence the reverence for the NCAA Wrestling Championship bracket reveal. 

But all title paths are not created equal, and one aspect that most urgently grabs the attention of rabid wrestling fans when they first clamp their eyes on a bracket is the discovery of a particularly loaded half of a bracket. To notice a lopsided bracket is to identify an arduous journey -- perhaps even an injustice -- or might be to discover a comparatively easy journey -- a gift. 

More NCAA Championship Coverage: By the Numbers

But that’s if you’re feeling dramatic. It's also just fun to see if a bunch of really good wrestlers have to wrestle each other in the earlier rounds. 

To get a handle on which sides of the 2023 NCAA championship brackets were the most taxing for the qualifiers, we first had to make note of which half of the bracket each qualifier was in. That was simple enough, as the NCAA has seen fit to seed all the way out to 33. And because each bracket is constructed with the seeds in the same place, it was quite simple to add a 'T' for 'top side' or 'B' for 'bottom side' in our spreadsheet of data on each qualifier. 

We then figured that the toughest bracket would probably be the one with the preponderance of accomplished wrestlers. As such, we did our best to account for every podium placement represented by 330 qualifiers in the 2023 brackets. 

Now we were ready to add up the number of AA awards represented in each side of the bracket in all 10 weights. A few clicks later and a pivot table yielded the following. 


The bottom half of 133 had Daton Fix (3 AAs), Vito Arujau (2 AAs), Lucas Byrd (2 AAs), Sam Latona (1 AA) and Taylor LaMont(1 AA), for a total of nine AA honors, the most of any half of any bracket. 

We could also use our trusty pivot table to spit out results of brackets halves with the total number of previous All-American wrestlers in it. A sum of entrants who earned any amount of All-American honors, one, two or three would all just count for one in this instance. 

Probably would've made more sense to do this calculation first but, alas, I have already started doing it in this order and getting those tables to format correctly is a pain in the haunches, so we shall soldier forth with the blog staying as is!

Anyway, here are those numbers.  


Here we see that the bottom half of 165 now has the preponderance of All-Americans. Those competitors are Keegan O'Toole, Dean Hamiti, Cam Amine, Carson Kharchla, Peyton Hall and Wyatt Sheets

But those All-American honors are all in the past. And as Timon and Pumbaa would say, you gotta put your past behind you. But no worries! We have a way to account for the bracket half that was the toughest on the third weekend of March 2023 in Tulsa.

By keeping a tally of the advancement and placement points of each wrestler, we can tally the team points scored (minus bonus points) of each wrestler. We can then add up the tallies for all the wrestlers in each half and discover which half did the best against their counterparts in the other half. 

That calculation yields the following table. 


For reference, assuming everyone wrestles to seed would result in wrestlers from the top side earning 57 total points and the bottom side scoring 54. 

Thus, the top side of the 157-pound bracket looks to be the toughest of all the half-brackets, at least according to this calculation. The champ (Austin O'Connor), third place (Josh Humphreys), fourth place (Jared Franek), fifth place (Ed Scott), and eighth place (Will Lewan) all came from the top half of 157. 

Not that the bottom half didn't have its share of hammers (it's the NCAAs, all the brackets were loaded on both halves), just that the top side of 157 was particularly loaded. 

At least that's what the numbers say. There's always more room for debate. What, dear reader, do you say? What was the toughest half of any bracket at the NCAAs? Agree or disagree that the bottom halves of 133 and 165 and the top half of 157 were the toughest? Use whatever justification you like, there are no rules!