2024 NCAA Championships Watch Party

Complete 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships Preview & Predictions

Complete 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships Preview & Predictions

A full preview and predictions for every weight class at the 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Mar 19, 2024 by JD Rader
Complete 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships Preview & Predictions

The 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships will take place in Kansas City, Missouri from March 21-23. This tournament is the pinnacle of college wrestling featuring the top 33 wrestlers in the country at every weight class. ESPN will live stream the action across multiple of their networks. You can follow along with FloWrestling's watch party where we will be giving our live on-air takes, reactions, and analyses as well as all the written content you can handle on www.flowrestling.org. 

Below is a preview and prediction of each weight class.

125 Pounds

2023 All-Americans

  1. Patrick Glory, Princeton
  2. Matt Ramos, Purdue
  3. Brandon Courtney, Arizona State
  4. Anthony Noto, Lock Haven
  5. Liam Cronin, Nebraska
  6. Spencer Lee, Iowa
  7. Eddie Ventresca, Virginia Tech
  8. Killian Cardinale, West Virginia

2024 Top 8 Seeds

  1. Braeden Davis, Penn State
  2. Luke Stanich, Lehigh
  3. Drake Ayala, Iowa
  4. Matt Ramos, Purdue
  5. Jore Volk, Wyoming
  6. Troy Spratley, Oklahoma State
  7. Jakob Camacho, NC State
  8. Richard Figueroa, Arizona State

The Favorites

  • Braeden Davis, Penn State
  • Luke Stanich, Lehigh
  • Drake Ayala, Iowa
  • Matt Ramos, Purdue

Because of the chaos at 125 this year, there really isn’t any TRUE favorite. However, the top 4 seeds have are likely the best bets to make the finals based on their mostly consistent results this year. True freshman Braeden Davis is coming off an impressive performance at Big 10s where he defeated three All-Americans Patrick McKee, Eric Barnett, and Michael DeAugustino to win the title. Davis will need to replicate that type of performance at NCAAs considering his path could include Dean Peterson in the second round (who Davis defeated in overtime earlier this year), Patrick McKee/Richard Figueroa in the quarters, and Matt Ramos in the semis. 

Braeden Davis' win over Tristan Lujan at the 2023 Black Knight Invite (potential first round match at NCAAs):


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Another true freshman who has put together an incredible season is Lehigh’s Luke Stanich. As the #2 seed in this bracket, Stanich didn’t receive any favors with his draw and will face the winner of Caleb Smith and Michael DeAugustino in the second round. If he makes it to the quarters he’s set up with a potential match against former #1 ranked Jakob Camacho or All-American Eric Barnett. Stanich has stingy defense, rides hard on top, and has notable wins this year over Barnett, Cooper Flynn, and Brett Ungar. It will be fascinating to see how he performs in his first NCAA Tournament.

Luke Stanich's win over Brett Ungar in the finals of the 2024 EIWA Tournament:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Drake Ayala earned the #3 seed after taking third at Big Ten’s losing only to Michael DeAugustino but recording wins over Dean Peterson, Matt Ramos, Eric Barnett, and Brendan McCrone. Ayala has been as consistent as anyone at 125 with wins over Braeden Davis, Jore Volk, Troy Spratley, and several other highly-ranked guys while only losing matches to Michael DeAugustino, Matt Ramos, and Brandon Kaylor. Ayala is as complete a wrestler as they come in this bracket and has a great chance to make the finals.

Then there’s Matt Ramos. Many were picking Ramos as the favorite at the beginning of the season before he lost four matches in November and December to Marcus Blaze, Jakob Camacho, Caleb Smith, and Nico Provo. However, Ramos then went on to win 14 straight matches before finishing 4th at Big Ten’s while losing to Dean Peterson and Drake Ayala. While on that winning streak, Ramos defeated Caleb Smith, Patrick McKee, Eric Barnett, and Dean Peterson. On top of those wins, Ramos’ upset over Spencer Lee at last year’s NCAA Tournament proves he’s capable of wrestling his best when it matters most.

Matt Ramos' win over Spencer Lee in the semifinals of the 2023 NCAA Tournament:


The Contenders

  • Everyone Seeded 5-21

With the results this year at 125 pounds, we shouldn’t be surprised if anyone seeded #5-#21 wins a title this year…that’s not hyperbole. To show just how much parity there’s been at 125 this year, check out these stats:

  • There were 7 different wrestlers ranked #1 this year - #1 Braeden Davis, #2 Luke Stanich, #3 Drake Ayala, #4 Matt Ramos, #7 Jakob Camacho, #12 Anthony Noto, and #14 Nico Provo.
  • There were 12 different wrestlers ranked in the top 3 - #1 Braeden Davis, #2 Luke Stanich, #3 Drake Ayala, #4 Matt Ramos, #7 Jakob Camacho, #8 Richard Figueroa, #10 Eric Barnett, #12 Anthony Noto, #13 Noah Surtin, and #14 Nico Provo, #15 Caleb Smith, and #20 Stevo Poulin
  • There were 17 different wrestlers ranked in the top 5 
  • There were 20 different wrestlers ranked in the top 8
  • There are 6 past All-Americans in the weight but only 1 of the top 8 seeds is a past AA (#4 Matt Ramos). The rest of the All-Americans in the weight - #9 Patrick McKee, #12 Anthony Noto, #21 Brandon Kaylor, #10 Eric Barnett, #18 Michael DeAugustino.

The 20 different wrestlers ranked in the top 8 are all seeded in the top 20 except Brandon Kaylor - he’s the #21 seed. The #19 seed, Jett Strickenberger is the only wrestler we didn’t have ranked in the top 8 this year but has ranked wins over Brandon Kaylor, Stevo Poulin (two), and Kysen Terukina. However, Strickenberger’s mid-season losses to Tyler Klinsky and Ethan Spacht kept him from rising too high in the rankings this year. We could spend a lot of time detailing the parity of the top 20 in even more detail but it might take 10,000 words to show just how many wrestlers have traded wins and losses this year. However, the top 21 wrestlers have all put together strings of matches this year where they have wrestled like All-Americans. 

Sleepers & Landmines

  • Everyone Seeded 22-33

Again, this isn’t an exaggeration - no one is safe at 125 pounds and we should expect big upsets in the first round. In case you haven’t been following the results at 125 pounds closely this year, I’ll give you some quick insight into the victories of some of the wrestlers seeded #22-#33. The #33 seed, Tristan Lujan lost in overtime against #18 seed Michael DeAugustino at Big 10s and Lujan defeated #29 seed Brendan McCrone twice this year. McCrone has wins over #7 Jakob Camacho and #15 Dean Peterson. Going deeper, the #32 seed Michael Joyce defeated #28 Diego Sotelo at EIWAs to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Sotelo lost in overtime against Matt Ramos and defeated Anthony Noto this year. We’ve never seen anything like the chaos at 125 pounds this year and I expect that chaos to continue at the NCAA Tournament. This is a weight class where literally anything can happen in the first round and I wouldn’t be surprised.

If you're looking for two wrestlers in this category to make a run, my money is on Kysen Terukina or Tanner Jordan. Terukina was ranked as high as 10th this year while Tanner Jordan peaked at 13th in the rankings. Terukina's best wins on the season came over Eric Barnett and Stevo Poulin. Jordan also had impressive wins over Patrick McKee, Troy Spratley, and Jore Volk. I'm not picking either to make the finals, but I wouldn't be shocked if Terukina or Jordan went on a "Cinderella" run in Kansas City to reach the podium.

Kozak's 125 Pound Predictions

Matt Ramos shocked the world when he pinned Spencer Lee last year and I'm predicting he finds more of that magic at the NCAA Tournament this year to win an NCAA title. Ramos will likely be tested by Stevo Poulin and Jore Volk/Anthony Noto on his way to the semifinals. However, if Ramos makes the semis, I like how he matches up against Braeden Davis, Patrick McKee, or Richard Figueroa. Making predictions at this weight feels a bit like picking names out of a hat but I'm rolling with Ramos to come out on top in Kansas City.

Full All-American predictions with round of 12 finishers:

  1. Matt Ramos, Purdue
  2. Drake Ayala, Iowa
  3. Braeden Davis, Penn State
  4. Jakob Camacho, NC State
  5. Luke Stanich, Lehigh
  6. Patrick McKee, Minnesota
  7. Jore Volk, Wyoming
  8. Michael DeAugustino, Michigan

Round of 12 finishers - Eric Barnett (Wisconsin), Jett Strickenberger (West Virginia), Anthony Noto (Lock Haven), Troy Spratley (Oklahoma State)

133 Pounds

The NCAA Championship 133-Pound bracket is headlined by two seventh-year seniors and one redshirt freshman challenger. We'll talk about that trio below, followed by other contenders, sleepers and landmines, then cap things off with some humble predictions. 

Seeds are in parentheses after each wrestler's school. Rankings are from the latest national top 33


  • #1 Ryan Crookham, Lehigh (2)
  • #2 Vito Arujau, Cornell (6) 
  • #3 Daton Fix, Oklahoma State (1)

Daton Fix is the prototypical Oklahoma State Cowboy. Originally from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, Fix stayed in his home state throughout his collegiate career, one that began with a redshirt season 2017-18 season. 

Daton has been a fixture (sorry, couldn't help myself) on both the national and international scene since his high school days. A full list of his accolades would take up this entire preview but some highlights include: five-time Big 12 champ; four-time NCAA All-American, three-time NCAA finalist, three-time U20 world medalist, two-time senior world team medalist, 2017 U20 world gold medalist, and 2021 senior world gold medalist. And those are just the highlights!

This season Fix has been a perfect 17-0 en route to earning the number one seed. He's rarely been challenged all season long, with his closest match being when he bumped up to 141 and defeated Missouri's 14th-ranked Josh Edmond. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Fix's only losses in his career at the NCAA Championships were to Nick Suriano in the finals, to Roman Bravo-Young in the finals twice, to eventual champ Vito Arujau in the semis, and to Michael Mcgee in the third-place bout. Could this be his year Fix finally summits the top of the podium? He'll have the substantial Cowboy community plus many others cheering him on in Kansas City. 

The aforementioned Vito Arujau will be a fellow favorite. Though only the sixth seed, Vito is coming off one of the most impressive years of competition of any American wrestler ever. Originally from Syosset, New York on Long Island, Vito deferred eligibility in his first year out of college, then took fourth in 2019. He deferred eligibility for two more seasons after that (thanks to the stupid novel coronavirus), then took third in 2022. 

2023 was Vito's annus mirabilis. He blitzed through the EIWA, then won the most loaded bracket at the 2023 NCAAs, beating both Daton Fix and Roman Bravo-Young by significant margins. 

Arujau then deftly switched to freestyle, winning the US Open over Austin DeSanto, then triumphing in Final X over fellow Cornell national champ Nahshon Garrett. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Next stop was Belgrade, Serbia, where he once again wrestled his way to the top of the podium, matching the highest finish of his father, Vugar Orujov, who won a 1991 world gold competing for the Soviet Union. 

You may remember learning about all this from such hits as Vito: Out of the Shadows

Then there is local Lehigh Valley product and redshirt freshman Ryan Crookham, competing for his hometown team, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Crookham was one of the top recruits in the high school Class of 2022

Crookham has since burst on to the D1 scene when he defeated Vito in the Journeymen Classic 8-4 in November of 2023. That catapulted Crookham into the number one spot in the polls, as Crookham>Vito>Fix, at least that went the ranker's logic. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Crookham followed that up with an undefeated season and a second win over Arujau in the EIWA finals, this time by the score of 10-6. 

Those two losses, plus a lack of a full season, dropped Vito all the way to the #6 seed, but there are rules for seeding, and a matrix that must be followed. And these rules put Vito and Crookham on the same side of the bracket, setting up a potential round three in the semifinals, though they'll both have to get by a host of worthy contenders first. 


  • #4 Dylan Shawver, Rutgers (4)
  • #5 Dylan Ragusin, Michigan (5)
  • #6 Kai Orine, NC State (3)
  • #7 Nasir Bailey, Little Rock (7)
  • #8 Aaron Nagao, Penn State (10)
  • #9 Evan Frost, Iowa State (8)
  • #10 Jacob Van Dee, Nebraska (14)
  • #11 Brody Teske, Iowa (15)
  • #12 Nic Bouzakis, Ohio State (16)
  • #13 Sam Latona, Virginia Tech (12)
  • #15 Dominick Serrano, Northern Colorado (9)

There is a vast array of talent outside the top 3 in this bracket. Two of the next toughest contenders are pair of Dylans, Shawver and Ragusin. The Dyalns have wrestled thrice already this season, Ragusin winning at Midlands and the dual meet, while Shawver got the dub in the Big Tens finals. That gave Shawver the first Big Ten title for the Scarlet Knights since Anthony Ashnault in 2019. 

Few wrestlers are entering the tournament on a hotter streak than, Shawver who vanquished Ragusin in the B1G finals via tech-fall. Shawver and Ragusin could potentially see each other two more times at the NCAAs, which would continue what has rapidly become one of the best rivalries in college. 

Wolfpacker Kai Orine is not to be overlooked either, as the Missouri native earned the #3 seed thanks to a stellar season, including a win over Evan Frost in the CKLV finals. This is Orine's fifth season on the campus of NC State.


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Injecting some youthful vibrancy into the bracket is Little Rock's true freshman phenom Nasir Bailey, who is helping write history for the Arkansas program which has barely existed for half a decade. 

Four other Big Ten hammers in Nagao, Van Dee, Teske, and Bouzakis will also be contenders. Teske has come on strong late in the season, while Nagao slightly slipped in the rankings partly due to a low match count. 

Van Dee and Bouzakis, both freshmen, are going in opposite directions, as Van Dee had an excellent Big Ten tournament whereas Bouzakis would sooner forget his 1-2 performance in College Park. 

Louisiana's own Evan Frost will look to make some waves in Kansas City in his first varsity season at Iowa State. Sam Latona, the veteran from Alabama, will look to get back on the podium for the third time and notch another accolade for Southern wrestlers. Dom Serrano of North Colorado rounds out our coterie of contenders. 

Sleepers & Landmines

  • #17 Julian Chlebove, Arizona State (24)
  • #32 Maximilian Leete, American (31)
  • #33 Gable Strickland, Lock Haven (27)

Chlebove, the Sun Devil by way of eastern Pennsylvania, is far more dangerous than his #24 seed would imply.

Leete gave his EIWA opponents, including Arujau, difficult matches in both victory and defeat. He will be a tough out no matter who he matches up against. And Strickland is a MAC champ looking to prove himself in a loaded field. 

Potential Matchups to Watch

#14 Braxton brown and #12 Nic Bouzakis is an insanely good first-round bout between two Big Ten rivals. Below them in the bracket is #15 Dom Serrano vs #17 Julian Chlebove, which is another ridiculously good round 1 bout. They're all in the top quarter of the bracket, so they have Daton Fix to look forward to if they make it that far. 

#7 Nasir Bailey and #8 Aaron Nagao could see each other in the second round, which is silly. That bottom quarter is crazy deep, as it contains Nasir, Nagao,Teske, and Crookham. Assuming those four make the second round, one of them is going to lose in the round of 16 and not even make the bloodround. That's bonkers. 

Spey's 133 Pound Predictions

1) Daton Fix, Oklahoma State

2) Ryan Crookham, Lehigh

3) Vito Arujau, Cornell

4) Dylan Shawver, Rutgers

5) Dylan Ragusin, Michigan

6) Kai Orine, NC State

7) Nasir Bailey, Little Rock

8) Evan Frost, Iowa State

R12) Aaron Nagao, Penn State

R12) Jacob Van Dee, Nebraska

R12) Sam Latona, Virginia Tech

R12) Nick Bouzakis, Ohio State

I'm doing my best to pick with my head and not my heart. Fix's body of work and success this season is all the evidence I need to forecast his first NCAA title in his final year of eligibility. That such an objectively reasoned prediction happens to line up with what I would personally like to see is a coincidence. At least that's what I'm telling myself. 

I contemplated -- but only briefly -- penciling in Vito for a semi-slide, i.e. making the semifinals and then losing his next three matches to finish sixth, based on the premise that he is not 100% healthy. But the last time I did something like that, Cory Clark embarrassed me and won a title, so I'm splitting the difference and writing him in for third, with Crookham winning in round three of their collegiate series in the semis. 

I'm also picking Shawver to win in the quarters over Ragusin, although obviously Ragusin has the ability to beat Shawver, something he's done twice already this season. 

The consolation round will be a bloodbath, and it's tough to have much confidence in any picks when they will inevitably entail predicting that so many talented wrestlers will take losses. But that's how brackets work! And that's what I came up with. Now it's up to the athletes to make a fool of me by proving me woefully incorrect! 

141 Pounds

Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez took an Olympic redshirt, so there will be a new 141-pound NCAA champion. The field is wide open with no clear favorite and a handful of front runners. 

Ohio State’s Jesse Mendez and Penn State’s Beau Bartlett split 4-1 matches this season, but Mendez won in the Big Ten finals, which gave him the top seed over #2 Bartlett. The two could settle it in the finals if all goes according to seeds.

Iowa’s Real Woods, who fell to Alirez in last year’s finals, is seeded third after losing to Mendez and Bartlett during the season. 

Check out all the brackets below, including 141 pounds. 

2023 Place Winners

1. Andrew Alirez, Northern Colorado
2. Real Woods, Iowa
3. Beau Bartlett, Penn State
4. Lachlan McNeil, North Carolina
5. Clay Carlson, South Dakota State
6. Brock Hardy, Nebraska
7. Parker Filius, Purdue
8. Dylan D`Emilio, Ohio State

2024 Top Eight Seeds

1. Jesse Mendez, Ohio State, 25-2
2. Beau Bartlett, Penn State, 19-1
3. Real Woods, Iowa, 18-3
4. Ryan Jack, NC State, 18-3
5. Anthony Echemendia, Iowa State, 18-4
6. Lachlan McNeil, North Carolina, 21-6
7. Cael Happel, Northern Iowa, 20-7
8. Sergio Lemley, Michigan, 18-7

The Favorites

  • #1 Jesse Mendez, Ohio State
  • #2 Beau Bartlett, Penn State

Mendez and Bartlett have established themselves as the favorites following strong seasons. The two traded wins and Mendez had a 4-2 loss to Pitt’s Cole Matthews on Dec. 10, but these two Big Ten rivals have slightly separated from the pack. 

The Ohio State star moved up from 133 where he finished sixth at nationals last year, while Bartlett began his career at 149 and placed third at 141 in 2023. They could meet in the finals for the third time this season for college wrestling’s top prize. 

Bartlett has a deliberate style that makes him difficult to score on. Many of his matches are close, but he finds ways to win when it matters most. He has four losses since his move to 141, so there’s every reason to believe he will reach the finals — especially since Alirez is momentarily out of the picture. 

Mendez showed off his technical range with his match-winning takedown over Bartlett in the Big Ten finals. He transitioned from a foot sweep to a double-leg in the final 10 seconds for a 4-1 win. 

Both are a product of a strong freestyle background with World and Olympic aspirations. Bartlett was a 2021 Junior World bronze medalist, and Mendez was a 2023 U20 World silver medalist.  


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Jesse Mendez posted a semifinal win over Brock Hardy at the 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational


  • #3 — Real Woods, Iowa
  • #4 — Ryan Jack, NC State
  • #5 — Anthony Echemendia, Iowa State
  • #6 — Lachlan McNeil, North Carolina
  • #7 — Cael Happel, Northern Iowa
  • #8 — Sergio Lemley, Michigan
  • #9 — Brock Hardy, Nebraska
  • #10 — Tagen Jamison, Oklahoma State
  • #18 — Cole Matthews, Pittsburgh

Woods reached the national finals last year but is seeded #3 behind Mendez and Bartlett after losses to both. The Iowa star avenged his 14-2 loss to Michigan’s Sergio Lemley with an 11-8 win at the Big Ten Championships. Other quality wins this season include Echemendia, McNeil, Hardy, and Jamison. 

Much has happened since the 2021 NCAA Championships, but Woods has an interesting first-round match-up against South Dakota State’s Clay Carlson — an opponent he lost to 11-4 during his final match of the tournament. Woods should feel confident if he wins against Carlson. He could meet North Carolina’s Lachlan McNeil in the quarterfinals and Bartlett in the semis. 

Although he has a 7-2 loss to Bartlett this season, he also had a 6-4 win last year and defeated McNeil 8-4 at Soldier Salute. 

McNeil has wrestled a mixed folkstyle and freestyle season and is seeking an Olympic berth for Canada at 65 kg. He won the Canadian Olympic Trials but did not qualify for the weight at the recent Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier. He has an additional opportunity to become an Olympian at the last-chance qualifier. 

The Tar Heel star is 21-6 on the season but lost four of his last eight, and has a pair of losses to Matthews and a 4-2 loss to Jack. 

Matthews is 16-10 but has won eight of his last ten matches. He has wins over #1 Mendez and #4 Jack but took several puzzling losses — like a 12-4 setback to Maryland’s Kal Miller on November 12. 

Jack has a pair of losses to Mendez and a loss to Matthews that he vindicated at the ACC Championships. The Wolfpack junior would meet Mendez in the semis if the seeds hold. 

Echemendia continues to prove he’s a factor by winning the Big 12 Championships with a win in the finals over Happel. Happel notched a 9-3 win over Echemendia at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite but the Cuban-born star has two wins since the December loss. 

The Cyclone sophomore will win and lose on his feet. He has explosive shots and finishes quickly. Look for him to choose neutral in close matches so he doesn’t have to score from underneath. Echemendia has all the tools to make a deep run and win the tournament. 

Lemley put college wrestling on notice with his 14-2 win over Woods in the dual, and he’ll need to rely on his high-octane pace to win matches at nationals. He should face #9 Brock Hardy in the second round in one of the best day-one matchups of the championships. 

The two exchanged victories to close the season, with Hardy winning 13-9 during a February 9 dual and Lemley winning 4-2 at the Big Tens. The Nebraska sophomore finished sixth at the 2023 NCAA Championships and has a shot at the podium again this year. 

Happel has seven losses on the season but, like all the contenders in the weight, has a nice collection of wins. His hit list includes #5 Echemendia, #8 Lemley, #9 Hardy, and #10 Jamison. 

The same goes for Jamison. He has wins over #5 Echemendia, #8 Lemley, #9 Hardy, and #18 Matthews.

This weight isn’t as chaotic at 125 pounds, but it’s wide open after the top three. Don’t be surprised if a lower seed reaches the podium or places high. Parity equals excitement — and this should be a 141-pound party. 


Watch highlights from Real Woods' quarterfinal win over Allan Hart at the 2023 NCAA Championships

Sleepers And Landmines

  • #12 — Wyatt Henson, Lock Haven
    #30 — Clay Carlson, South Dakota State

The entire weight is a landmine, but here are two worth mentioning. 

Henson enters with a 35-2 record but doesn’t have the signature wins like those seeded above him. He has 24 combined falls and tech falls and can score points in bunches. We’ll find out soon if he can make the magic happen at the NCAA Championships. 

Carlson has a win over Woods from three years ago. He is a two-time All-American, placing eighth in 2021 and fifth in 2023. His 13-7 record isn’t indicative of what he can do.


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Clay Carlson had a 10-7 shootout with Garrett Kuchan of Air Force during a Jan. 26 dual in Brookings

Klingman's 141 Pound Predictions

Mendez, Bartlett, and Woods have separated themselves from the pack this season and all three should place high. Matthews placed fifth at the 2022 NCAA Championships and has taken double-digit losses this season, but expect him to right the ship as the 18th seed. 

McNeil and Hardy have a proven track record that will make them a tough out regardless of who they face.

1. Beau Bartlett, Penn State
2. Jesse Mendez, Ohio State
3. Real Woods, Iowa
4. Lachlan McNeil, North Carolina
5. Brock Hardy, Nebraska
6. Ryan Jack, NC State
7. Sergio Lemley, Michigan
8. Cole Matthews, Pittsburgh

149 Pounds

Without 4X NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis no longer in the field, 149 has opened up into quite an entertaining weight class this season. 

2023 All-Americans

  1. Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell
  2. Sammy Sasso, Ohio State
  3. Shayne Van Ness, Penn State
  4. Kyle Parco, Arizona State
  5. Caleb Henson, Virginia Tech
  6. Max Murin, Iowa
  7. Brock Mauller, Missouri
  8. Michael Blockhus, Minnesota

2024 Top Eight Seeds

  1. Ridge Lovett, Nebraska
  2. Kyle Parco, Arizona State
  3. Jackson Arrington, NC State
  4. Caleb Henson, Virginia Tech
  5. Ty Watters, West Virginia
  6. Austin Gomez, Michigan
  7. Tyler Kasak, Penn State
  8. Casey Swiderski, Iowa State

The Favorite

  • #1 Ridge Lovett, Nebraska

Ridge Lovett was rightfully given the #1 seed. He went 24-1 this year with wins over #4 Caleb Henson, and #6 Tyler Kasak and won the CKLV bracket that had #2 Kyle Parco, #3 Jackson Arrington, and #8 Casey Swiderski. He did suffer a 4-3 loss to Parco less than a month ago in the last dual of the year. However, with Parco’s losses to Ty Whalen, Caleb Henson, and a medical forfeit to Kannon Webster, Lovett has had the best season from start to finish.

Lovett is solid on his feet, but his real X-factor is his top game. He might be the best wrestler from the top position in Division I wrestling this year. Against Austin Gomez in the dual, Lovett picked up multiple sets of back points and over four minutes of riding time for a dominant 11-4 victory. That being said, Gomez looked much better in the Big Ten finals where the score was 5-4 and Lovett only had 15 seconds of riding time.


  • #2 Kyle Parco, Arizona State
  • #3 Jackson Arrington, NC State
  • #4 Caleb Henson, Virginia Tech
  • #6 Austin Gomez, Michigan

Outside of Lovett, it feels like four guys have a legitimate shot at winning. Parco, who already beat Lovett this year. Gomez, who narrowed the gap a lot from the dual to Big Tens, and the two ACC boys - Jackson Arrington and Caleb Henson. Caleb Henson wrestled Lovett super close in the CKLV finals this season. They both got takedowns, but the difference was Lovett got an escape and Henson didn’t. 

Watch Lovett and Henson’s super close CKLV final below.


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Jackson Arrington is already showing great progress at NC State. After finishing in the bloodround last season, he only suffered two non medical forfeit losses this season. Both of which he avenged. He lost 9-8 to Dylan D’Emilio of Ohio State at CKLV, but then defeated him 5-3 in the dual and he lost 4-1 to Caleb Henson in the dual but then defeated him 4-1 at ACCs. Somebody like Lovett doesn’t seem like a great match up for Arrington, but luckily for him, he’s on the opposite side of the bracket.

Sleepers And Landmines

  • #20 Jordan Williams, Oklahoma State
  • #26 Jaden Abas, Stanford

You’re not going to see too many 149 brackets that don’t predict the top eight seeds finishing in the top eight in some order. The top guys just feel too established and separated from nine seed Ethan Fernadez to fall too much. In my bracket, however, I do have 20 seed Jordan Williams and 26 seed Jaden Abas making it to the round of 12. Abas was an All-American at this weight back in 2021. He’s failed to repeat that performance the past two seasons, but if he can channel that version of himself again, he’s capable of sneaking on the podium. Williams had his rough patches this year as a true freshman. However, he was the #12 overall recruit in 2022 ahead of guys like Jackson Arrington, Mitchell Mesenbrink, Daniel Cardenas, Bennett Berge, TJ Stewart, Clayton Whiting, Jore Volk, and others, and is coming off of a runner-up performance at Big 12s where he defeated 8 seed Casey Swiderski.

Early Round Matches To Watch

Caleb Rathjen vs Caleb Henson

Classic Caleb battle. Both of these dudes wrestle super hard, so this match is sure to be an entertaining scrap. Henson is a heavy favorite, and rightfully so based on their college career results. And while they have never met in their college careers and this is slightly said tongue in cheek, Rathjen did beat Henson at UWW Cadets in 2018 and 2019.

Jackson Arrington vs Dylan D’Emilio

The rubber match. D’Emilio won at Vegas and Arrington won in the dual. If there’s one guy outside of the top 10 seeds who can get on the podium, I think it’s D’Emilio. He’ll need to win this match to do it.

JD's 149 Pound Predictions

1. Ridge Lovett, Nebraska

2. Austin Gomez, Michigan

3. Caleb Henson, Virginia Tech

4. Kyle Parco, Arizona State

5. Tyler Kasak, Penn State

6. Casey Swiderski, Iowa State

7. Jackson Arrington, NC State

8. Ty Watter, West Virginia

R12. Chance Lamer, Cal Poly

R12. Jordan Williams, Oklahoma State

R12. Caleb Rathjen, Iowa

R12. Jaden Abas, Stanford

157 Pounds

The 2024 NCAA Tournament is set to go down March 21-23 in Kansas City, Missouri, and will feature the best college wrestlers in the country. The 157-pound weight class is arguably the deepest of any weight with 10 All-Americans in the bracket and several new contenders vying for the title. Check out the below article to see the full 157-pound bracket and a complete preview with predictions for this incredible weight at the NCAA Tournament.

2023 157 Pound All-Americans

  1. Austin O’Connor, North Carolina
  2. Levi Haines, Penn State
  3. Josh Humphreys, Lehigh
  4. Jared Franek, ND State
  5. Ed Scott, NC State
  6. Peyton Robb, Nebraska
  7. Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech
  8. Will Lewan, Michigan

2024 157 Pound Top 8 Seeds

  1. Levi Haines, Penn State
  2. Jacori Teemer, Arizona State
  3. Meyer Shapiro, Cornell
  4. Ed Scott, NC State
  5. Ryder Downey, Northern Iowa
  6. Daniel Cardenas, Stanford
  7. Peyten Kellar, Ohio
  8. Peyton Robb, Nebraska

Past All-Americans in the 157-Pound Bracket

  • #1 Levi Haines, Penn State
  • #2 Jacori Teemer, Arizona State
  • #4 Ed Scott, NC State
  • #8 Peyton Robb, Nebraska
  • #9 Will Lewan, Michigan
  • #10 Jared Franek, Iowa
  • #11 Brayton Lee, Indiana
  • #12 Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech
  • #13 Michael Blockhus, Minnesota
  • #16 Brock Mauller, Missouri

* Numbers listed are seeds at the NCAA Tournament

The Favorite

  • #1 Levi Haines, Penn State

Other weight classes at the NCAA Tournament have 2 or more front-runners contending for the title. However, at 157, Levi Haines is the clear favorite entering the tournament with an 18-0 record and wins over many of the challengers in the field. On top of being the returning NCAA runner-up, this season Haines has defeated Will Lewan (twice), Jared Franek, Peyton Robb, Chase Saldate, Trevor Chumbley Isaac Wilcox, and Michael North. He’s done this all while accumulating a 61% bonus rate with 11 of his 18 wins coming by either fall, tech, or major - 4 pins, 3 techs, and 4 majors.

Despite taking an undefeated record into the tournament, and his relative dominance, it hasn’t been easy for Haines. He had overtime wins against both Chase Saldate and Will Lewan this year and needed to mount a substantial comeback against Isaiah Crosby to win 10-8 (Crosby notably did not qualify for the tournament). To make the finals, Haines will have to wrestle one of Lewan, Saldate, or Peyton Robb in the quarters. Then in the semis Haines’ likely opponents are either Ed Scott, Ryder Downey, or Bryce Andonian. While he might not be fully healthy, Andonian notably almost pinned Levi Haines in the quarterfinals before Haines got the third-period fall over Andonian. It won’t be easy for Haines to reach the finals, but he’s a proven winner and should be considered the favorite over this deep field. 

Watch Levi Haines win over Peyton Robb from the semis of the 2023 NCAA Tournament:


The Contenders

Tier 1

  • #2 Jacori Teemer, Arizona State
  • #3 Meyer Shapiro, Cornell
  • #4 Ed Scott, NC State
  • #5 Ryder Downey, Northern Iowa
  • #6 Daniel Cardenas, Stanford
  • #8 Will Lewan, Michigan
  • #9 Peyton Robb, Nebraska

Tier 2

  • #7 Peyten Kellar, Ohio
  • #10 Jared Franek, Iowa
  • #11 Brayton Lee, Indiana
  • #12 Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech
  • #13 Michael Blockhus, Minnesota
  • #14 Cody Chittum, Iowa State
  • #18 Vinny Zerban, Northern Colorado

157 might have the most legitimate contenders of any weight class in the country. The above group of 13 wrestlers have all either earned All-American honors in the past or have victories over All-Americans this year. The depth that exists at the weight class can not be overstated. Because of this depth, I chose to do something slightly different and divide the group of contenders into two separate tiers. The wrestlers in tier 1 are those I believe have the best chance of making a run to the finals or upsetting Levi Haines. The wrestlers in tier 2 are those I believe can earn All-American honors but are unlikely to make the finals.

Of the tier 1 wrestlers, Jacori Teemer, Meyer Shapiro, and Daniel Cardenas all sit on the bottom half of the bracket - opposite top-seeded Levi Haines. These three wrestlers were also all at the CKLV in December where Jacori Teemer reached the finals by defeating Daniel Cardenas by major decision 14-6. Since then, Cardenas and Teemer have wrestled two more matches, both won by Teemer but the margin of victory has narrowed each time. Teemer won 7-5 in the dual and 5-4 most recently in the PAC-12 finals. Things are trending in the right direction for Cardenas so if they meet again, it will be interesting to see if Teemer can take out Cardenas for the fourth time this season. Regardless, Teemer is already a two-time All-American and possesses a high-powered offense capable of defeating anyone in the country at 157 pounds. 

Jacori Teemer's win over Daniel Cardenas at the 2023 CKLV:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

One wrestler stands in the way of that fourth meeting between Cardenas and Teemer - the #3 seed Meyer Shapiro. The Cornell freshman entered the season with incredible hype coming off a U20 world title over the summer. Then Shapiro looked unstoppable when he dominated Bryce Andonian at the CKLV with a 16-4 major decision. However, Shapiro came back to earth when he lost to Daniel Cardenas (8-5) in the quarter finals at the CKLV before dropping a surprising match to Trevor Chumbley (2-1). Was the hype too much? I don't think so considering Shapiro has rattled of 17 straight wins since the CKLV including victories over All-Americans Ed Scott (7-2) and Brock Mauller (14-4). The hype is back for Shapiro and he looks like a title contender again entering the NCAA Tournament. 

Daniel Cardenas' win over Meyer Shapiro at the 2023 CKLV:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Meyer Shapiro's win over Bryce Andonian at the 2023 CKLV:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Ed Scott, Ryder Downey, Will Lewan, and Peyton Robb are all tier 1 contenders in my opinion. I believe they all have a similar chance at making the finals from the top side of the bracket and taking out Levi Haines. As mentioned above, Lewan has wrestled Haines tough with an overtime loss in the Big 10 finals. On top of the overtime loss, he also lost 2-1 to Haines in their dual meeting with a late stall call against Lewan the difference for Haines. Lewan’s defense obviously makes him a tough match for Haines but he’ll have to get by Saldate and Robb to get another shot at taking out the favorite.

Robb is notably 2-0 against Lewan this year, and while beating a guy like Lewan 3 times in one year is a challenge, Robb should be considered the favorite to meet Haines in the quarters. While Robb is a favorite to make the quarters, he's a considerable underdog against Haines considering the Nittany Lion holds a career record of 3-0 over Robb. Haines dominated Robb in a 10-3 match this year in their dual meeting in February but the two had much closer decisions last season. 

It's also worth mentioning Robb's up-and-down year. He looked like a title contender in the first half of the season when he won a deep field at the CKLV by defeating Jacori Teemer in the finals. However, Robb has struggled in the second half of the year with an 8-6 record while suffering a four-match losing streak in January. Will we see Robb back to his November-December form or will Robb struggle against some of the better guys in this weight? We’ll find out the answer to that question soon but I expect Robb to wrestle his best in his last NCAA Tournament. 

Peyton Robb's win over Jacori Teemer in the 2023 CKLV Finals:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Ryder Downey and Ed Scott are the last two wrestlers in tier 1 and the most likely wrestlers to meet Levi Haines in the semi-finals. Scott is a returning All-American but has had a roller-coaster year recording wins over Ryder Downey (twice), Bryce Andonian (twice), Will Lewan, and several other ranked wrestler. However, Scott has also suffered losses to Sonny Santiago, Joey Blaze, Teague Travis, Peyten Kellar, and Meyer Shapiro. Because of that inconsistency, it’s highly unlikely we see Scott make a run to the finals but I expect Scott to reach the podium again this year.

Hear from Ed Scott after his recent ACC title:


Downey has been one of the biggest surprises this season with a 21-4 record and is currently riding a 14-match winning streak. Downey has wrestled a tough schedule with ranked wins over Peyton Robb, Cody Chittum (two), Cael Swensen, Teague Travis, Trevor Chumbley, and Jared Hill. Downey will be challenged early with a potential second-round match against the always dangerous Bryce Andonian, but if Downey gets by that test, he’ll be fascinating to watch against the best guys in this bracket. 

Hear from Ryder Downey after his recent Big 12 title:


To save time, we won’t go deep into the guys I have listed as tier two contenders but as I mentioned, I think the wrestlers in this tier are All-American contenders but unlikely to make the finals for one reason or another. Andonian and Blockhus have questions surrounding their health. Kellar, Franek, Lee, Chittum, and Zerban all have brutal paths to the finals. These guys can all pull off an upset but I’d be surprised to see them in the finals.

Sleepers & Landmines

  • DJ McGee, George Mason
  • Joey Blaze, Purdue
  • Chase Saldate, Michigan State
  • Sonny Santiago, North Carolina

The above four wrestlers are all seeded outside the top 20 but are dangerous competitors to anyone in the field at 157 pounds. Chase Saldate has Will Lewan in the first round and notably defeated Lewan from last season. On top of that, Saldate lost to Levi Haines in overtime this year but was milliseconds (literally) away from defeating Haines. Joey Blaze has wins over All-Americans Peyton Robb and Ed Scott this year. Sonny Santiago also defeated Ed Scott this season. DJ McGee lost in overtime to Jacori Teemer and defeated Michael Blockhus this year, 4-2. In any other weight, every one of these wrestlers would be a top 10-16 seed but at 157, these competitors are dangerous landmines to top 10-seeded wrestlers in the first round!

Joey Blaze's win over Ed Scott from Journeymen's Wranglemania this past November:


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Kozak's 157 Pound Predictions

Levi Haines has been the best guy in this weight class from the beginning of the year and he’s my pick to leave Kansas City with the title. Haines will be tested by this deep field and I expect him to wrestle close matches from the second round to the finals. I have Haines taking out Shapiro in the finals in what is the match I most want to see in this bracket. Shapiro might have the best pure technique of anyone at 157, but in the end, I think Haines is a more complete wrestler and will use his mat wrestling and conditioning to come out on top Saturday night. 

Full All-American predictions with round of 12 and round of 16 finishers:

  1. Levi Haines, Penn State
  2. Meyer Shapiro, Cornell
  3. Jacori Teemer, Arizona State
  4. Ed Scott, NC State
  5. Peyton Robb, Nebraska
  6. Ryder Downey, Northern Iowa
  7. Will Lewan, Michigan
  8. Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech

Round of 12 Finishers - Vinny Zerban (Northern Colorado), Cody Chittum (Iowa State), Jared Franek (Iowa), Daniel Cardenas (Stanford)

Round of 16 Finishers - Chase Saldate (Michigan State), Brayton Lee (Indiana), Michael Blockhus (Minnesota), Brock Mauller (Missouri)

165 Pounds

The semifinals and finals at this weight could be some of the most talked-about matches from this tournament for years to come. NCAA champs Keegan O'Toole and David Carr just might have the greatest current rivalry in college wrestling, and they're scheduled to hit in the semis. On the other side of the bracket sits O'Toole's former high school teammate and Askren Wrestling Academy training partner Mitchell Mesenbrink. Throw in a bunch of returning All-Americans and high-impact newcomers, and baby, you got a stew goin.

2023 All-Americans

  1. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri
  2. David Carr, Iowa State
  3. Quincy Monday, Princeton
  4. Cam Amine, Michigan
  5. Shane Griffith, Stanford
  6. Dean Hamiti, Wisconsin
  7. Michael Caliendo, NDSU
  8. Izzak Olejnik, Northern Illinois

2024 Top 8 Seeds

  1. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri
  2. Mitchell Mesenbrink, Penn State
  3. Julian Ramirez, Cornell
  4. David Carr, Iowa State
  5. Dean Hamiti, Wisconsin
  6. Michael Caliendo, Iowa
  7. Izzak Olejnik, Oklahoma State
  8. Antrell Taylor, Nebraska

The Favorites

  • Keegan O'Toole, Missouri
  • David Carr, Iowa State
  • Mitchell Mesenbrink, Penn State

A year ago, David Carr's 2-0 record against returning NCAA champ Keegan O'Toole might have made him the favorite to win 165 lbs. Since that time, O'Toole has taken over favorite status with two straight victories over Carr in the finals of last year's NCAA Championships and this year's Big 12 Championships. Being the favorite in this bracket is no guarantee of victory, but it is an honor as this weight includes two NCAA champions, three U20 World champions, and an incredible amount of depth.

O'Toole's match-winning takedown against David Carr from the Big 12 finals

Iowa State's David Carr may have lost his last two contests against Keegan O'Toole, but he still belongs in the favorite category. He sits at the #4 seed due to losses to both O'Toole and Cornell's Julian Ramirez, but he's proven that he has what it takes to both beat O'Toole (twice) and win NCAAs. Don't count out this Cyclone.

Penn State freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink is the third favorite at 165 lbs. After transferring to Penn State from Califorinia Baptist, he spent his first year as a Nittany Lion climbing the ranks at 165 lbs like levels of a video game. He was undefeated in November and December this season but didn't face top flight competition. The Big Ten dual meet season brought him opportunities to face tougher competition, and he rose to the occasion. He majored #10 seed Cam Amine then beat both #6 seed Michael Caliendo and #8 seed Antrell Taylor by decision. At the Big Ten Championships, Mesenbrink teched Caliendo then defeated #5 seed Dean Hamiti in a wild 13-11 contest. He's proven that he's ready to take on all-comers in the bottom half of the bracket. Should he make the finals, he'd likely see one of the two previous NCAA champs in this weight, former high school teammate Keegan O'Toole or Iowa State's David Carr. Mesenbrink has yet to compete against either wrestler.

Highlights from Mesenbrink's comeback over Hamiti in the Big Ten finals


  • Julian Ramirez, Cornell
  • Dean Hamiti, Wisconsin
  • Michael Caliendo, Iowa
  • Izzak Olejnik, Oklahoma State
  • Peyton Hall, West Virginia
  • Cam Amine, Michigan

Not only does 165 lbs have three U20 World champs at the top of the favorite list, it has no shortage of contenders. Cornell's Julian Ramirez may be chief among them. The Big Red middle weight finished in the round of 12 in both 2022 and 2023, but his hit-list suggests he might be ready for a big performance in Kansas City. In addition to beating David Carr at CKLV this season, Ramirez has also defeated Iowa's Patrick Kennedy, Penn State's Alex Facundo, last year's 3rd place finisher Quincy Monday (twice), Michigan All-American Cam Amine, and Stanford NCAA champ (now Michigan 174-pounder) Shane Griffith. Ramirez is for real.

Oklahoma State's Izzak Olejnik finished on the podium last season then followed that up by starting his season with an unofficial victory over Dean Hamiti and a CKLV title with wins over Cam Amine and Julian Ramirez. Olejnik has also taken losses this season, but his nasty low-single and savvy defense keep him in just about every match. He's set up for a rematch with Amine in the second round followed by a potential quarterfinal with Mesenbrink. He certainly has the leg-attacks to score on Mesenbrink, but his ability to endure the Nittany Lion's break-neck pace could be the deciding factor in that match.

Highlights from Izzak Olejnik's NWCA All-Star Classic performance

Wisconsin's Dean Hamiti is looking to finish on the podium for the third time in as many attempts. His last match was a Big Ten finals shootout with Penn State freshman Mitchell Mesenbrink that he lost 13-11. His only other loss this season came against former NCAA champ David Carr via 2-0 decision. To make a deep run in this bracket, Hamiti would likely need to flip the result of that match against Carr in the quarterfinals. Carr has had the answers for Hamiti in the past, but Hamiti's furious pace and relentless leg-attacks just might keep him in the match.

Michael Caliendo was an All-American for NDSU last season, but now he's the #6 seed for Iowa. Should seeds hold to the quarterfinals, he could see Cornell's Julian Ramirez, another contender in this weight. Caliendo is capable of winning that match, and if he does, he'll need to figure out how to overcome Mitchell Mesenbrink. The Penn State freshman has widened the gap against Caliendo in their two previous meetings. Mesenbrink won their first 12-6 but followed that up with a 23-7 tech fall at Big Tens.

Former All-American Peyton Hall holds the #9 seed in this bracket. That means that, if he gets past Nebraska's Antrell Taylor in the second round, he could see top-seeded Keegan O'Toole in the quarterfinals. Normally, matchups against top seeds are cause for concern, but Hall has been close to cracking the Keegan O'Toole code for a while. After falling by major to O'Toole two seasons ago, Hall narrowed the gap to a decision at Big 12s. Last season, he held the two-time NCAA champ to a 3-0 decision in the West Virginia vs Missouri dual, and this year, Hall took an early lead in their matchup before ultimately falling 8-7. While Hall certainly isn't a favorite in this weight, he's definitely a factor. 

Michigan's three-time All-American Cam Amine has more pre-NCAA losses this year than in any previous college season, but he also has a way of performing his best when it matters the most. As the #10 seed, Amine won't have an easy path through the bracket, but he's certainly capable of making some noise. In the second round, Amine is likely to see Izzak Olejnik of Oklahoma State. Amine had two tight victories over Olejnik in previous seasons before falling to him at CKLV this year. If he can best Olejnik, he'll probably need to find an answer for Penn State's Mitchell Mesenbrink who majored him earlier this year. Amine will have an uphill battle in this bracket, but he's proven in the past that he's capable of a deep run.

Sleepers & Landmines

  • Caleb Fish, Michigan State
  • Noah Mulvaney, Bucknell
  • Gunner Filipowicz, Army
  • Giano Petrucelli, Air Force

Michigan State's Caleb Fish, Buckenell's Noah Mulvaney, Army's Gunner Filipowicz, and Air Force's Giano Petrucelli are all potential factors in this already-deep field at 165 lbs. Fish has been in plenty of competitive matches with top athletes at the weight and knocked off three-time All-American Cam Amine earlier this season. Freshmen Mulvaney and Filipowicz met twice this season and split in those contests. Both were Southern Scuffle finalists and have proven to be ready to compete at this level. Air Force's Giano Petrucelli could also have an impact here. He already has victories over #8 seed Antrell Taylor and Mulvaney this season.

Bray's 165 Pound Predictions

Missouri's Keegan O'Toole has won this weight twice before, and he's capable of doing it again, even if he needs to defeat former high school teammate Mitchell Mesenbrink to do it. In the end, this is likely to be one an ultra-tough top eight that wrestling fans remember for a long time.

Full All-American predictions with round of 12 finishers:

  1. Keegan O'Toole, Missouri
  2. Mitchell Mesenbrink, Penn State
  3. David Carr, Iowa State
  4. Dean Hamiti, Wisconsin
  5. Izzak Olejnik, Oklahoma State
  6. Michael Caliendo, Iowa
  7. Julian Ramirez, Cornell
  8. Peyton Hall, West Virginia

Round of 12 Finishers - Cam Amine (Michigan), Caleb Fish (Michigan State), Noah Mulvaney (Bucknell), Antrell Taylor (Nebraska)

174 Pounds

Questions about Carter Starocci's health have occupied much of the conversation around 174 lbs from the time he suffered an apparent knee injury in Penn State's final dual meet of the season, and they will continue to occupy that conversation until the end of the NCAA Championships. If the three-time NCAA champ is healthy, he's one of the clearest favorites in the country regardless of weight, but if he isn't, this weight could be wide open.

2023 All-Americans

  1. Carter Starocci, Penn State
  2. Mikey Labriola, Nebraska
  3. Chris Foca, Cornell
  4. Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
  5. Nelson Brands, Iowa
  6. Dustin Plott, Oklahoma State
  7. Ethan Smith, Ohio State
  8. Peyton Mocco, Missouri

2024 Top 8 Seeds

  1. Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
  2. Cade DeVos, SDSU
  3. Edmond Ruth, Illinois
  4. Shane Griffith, Michigan
  5. Philip Conigliaro, Harvard
  6. Rocco Welsh, Ohio State
  7. Lennox Wolak, Columbia
  8. Adam Kemp, Cal Poly

The Favorites

Scenario 1: Starocci is close to 100% healthy

  • Carter Starocci, Penn State

Scenario 2: Starocci isn't close to 100% healthy

  • Carter Starocci, Penn State
  • Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
  • Shane Griffith, Michigan

If Carter Starocci is healthy, he's proven to be unbeatable, or at least unbeaten in the last 64 matches he wrestled before suffering two injury default losses at the Big Ten Championships. In his 12 victories this season, 11 were by bonus points including six techs and three falls. He also beat #1 seeded Mekhi Lewis by tech in an unofficial match at the NWCA All-Star Classic. If he's healthy, he's the clear favorite to win his fourth NCAA title.

Carter Starocci's dominant victory over Mekhi Lewis at the 2023 NWCA All-Star Classic


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

If Starocci isn't close to 100%, he still might be the favorite, but he also might not. This is the first season that injury default losses count as official losses, and Starocci's two injury defaults impacted his seed in a big way. He sits at the #9 spot on the same side of the bracket as two former NCAA champs, Mekhi Lewis and Shane Griffith. Starocci is undefeated against Lewis, once in the 2022 NCAA finals, and twice at the NWCA All-Star Classic. He has yet to face Griffith. Lewis is incredibly stingy and strong. He'd be a tough opponent to face with a serious injury. Griffith, like Lewis, appears to be injured. He didn't compete in the Big Ten finals due to an injury he sustained in the semis. If he's healthy, don't count him out in this bracket.


  • Cade DeVos, SDSU
  • Edmond Ruth, Illinois
  • Rocco Welsh, Ohio State
  • Lennox Wolak, Columbia

While all the favorites and former NCAA champs are on the top half of the bracket, there are plenty of contenders on the bottom half of the bracket. In fact, the bottom half of the bracket is somewhat up for grabs. The only returning All-American in the mix is #22 seed Peyton Mocco of Missouri.

SDSU's Cade DeVos has put together a rock solid season to take the second seed in this bracket. He's 21-1 against D1 opponents and just earned a Big 12 title with his second victory of the season over Missouri All-American Peyton Mocco. His lone loss this year was a sudden victory defeat against former NCAA champ Shane Griffith.

Edmond Ruth of Illinois was a Big Ten champ which helped earn him the #3 seed. Ruth finished in the round of 12 at NCAAs last year, but he's been even better this season. He was multiple victories over #6 seed Rocco Welsh, his quarterfinal opponent if seeds hold. His two losses this season came against Patrick Kennedy of Iowa and two-time NCAA champ Keegan O'Toole (who bumped up from 165 lbs for the Missouri vs Illinois dual).

Ohio State true freshman Rocco Welsh can't be counted out. The Buckeye does have four losses on the season, including two to Ruth, but he's been in position to win every match he's entered. His four losses this season were all decisions either in sudden victory or by two points or fewer in regulation.

Columbia's Lennox Wolak is coming off an EIWA title. His position in the bracket and dangerous offensive arsenal makes him a contender here. Wolak's judo skillset gives him serious threats from ties that can be especially challenging to competitors facing him for the first time. #2 seed DeVos, #3 seed Ruth, and #6 seed Welsh have yet to see Wolak which could give him an edge. It's worth mentioning that Wolak could need to get past #10 seed Nick Incontrera in the second round. Incontrera owns two victories over Wolak, but Wolak won their last contest by 16-6 major decision at EIWAs.

Lennox Wolak shows off his upper-body prowess

True freshmen can be unpredictable, and that's the kind of season Oklahoma State's Brayden Thompson has had. Just look at this three matches against Oklahoma's Tate Picklo. Thompson won by major in December, lost in sudden victory in February, then won in sudden victory at Big 12s. Thompson's record is just 12-9 this season, but at his best, he's beaten All-Americans like Peyton Mocco. It's unclear which version of Thompson will show up in Kansas City, but he's capable of finishing on the podium.

Sleepers & Landmines

  • Peyton Mocco, Missouri
  • Patrick Kennedy, Iowa
  • Danny Wask, Navy
  • Luca Augustine, Pitt
  • Brayden Thompson, Oklahoma State

It may seem like cheating to list Mocco, an All-American last season, as a sleeper, but this season he's the #22 seed, so he qualifies. He's 12-6 so far this season, and five of his losses have occurred in his last 8 matches. That might mean he's not ready to replicate his All-American form from a year ago, but wrestlers in his path would be foolish to overlook him. He's the lone returning All-American on the bottom half of the bracket which allows him to avoid the three NCAA champions on the top half. Keep your eyes on the #22 seed in this bracket.

Iowa's Patrick Kennedy was a 165-pounder earlier this season, but he's proven to be a legitimate factor at 174 lbs this year. He's the #12 seed in Kansas City, but he's capable of more than that. If he can get past #5 seed Conigliaro (who took two losses at EIWAs), he could see Michigan's Shane Griffith. While Griffith has two victories over Kennedy this season, he also suffered an injury at the Big Ten Championships that could limit his ability to perform at 100%. Whether Kennedy needs to get the job done for Iowa on the front or back side of the bracket, he seems prepared to put in the work in competition.

Former Blair Academy star Danny Wask has 11 losses this season, so labeling him a sleeper might sound absurd, but he starts his tournament with true freshman Rocco Welsh, a guy he beat at the U20 US Open his senior year and out-placed at Powerade the same season. Wask has had his moments this season, but he's waiting for a breakout tournament. This could be the one.

Luca Augustine is a furious hand-fighter who keeps himself in nearly every match. His tournament starts Penn's Nick Incontrera who has earned at top-ten seed with a solid season that included a victory over Iowa's Patrick Kennedy. Augustine won't be favored there, but if he can get a win, he could see Lennox Wolak, a guy he lost two by one and two points a season ago. It's possible that Augustine goes on a run on the front side of this bracket, but if he loses early, he could prove difficult to beat on the back side. Keep your eyes on the Pitt Panther.

Thompson's sudden-victory win over AA Peyton Mocco

David Bray's 174 Pound Predictions

Full All-American predictions with round of 12 finishers:

  1. Cater Starocci, Penn State
  2. Edmond Ruth, Illinois
  3. Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
  4. Rocco Welsh, Ohio State
  5. Shane Griffith, Michigan
  6. Cade DeVos, SDSU
  7. Lennox Wolak, Columbia
  8. Nick Incontrera, Penn

Round of 12 finishers - Patrick Kennedy (Iowa), Peyton Mocco (Missouri), Justin McCoy (Virginia), Adam Kemp (Cal Poly)

184 Pounds

The 184-pound class will crown a new NCAA champion for the first time since 2021. Penn State’s Aaron Brooks had a lockdown on the weight for three straight seasons but moved up to 197 for his senior year. 

Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster won the title in 2019 and was the last wrestler other than Brooks to win this weight since the tournament was canceled in 2020. Parker Keckeisen — another Panther wrestler — is the top seed following national finishes of 3-3-2. 

2023 Place Winners

1. Aaron Brooks, Penn State
2. Parker Keckeisen, Northern Iowa
3. Kaleb Romero, Ohio State
4. Trent Hidlay, NC State
5. Marcus Coleman, Iowa State
6. Trey Munoz, Oregon State
7. Will Feldkamp, Clarion
8. Gavin Kane, North Carolina

2024 Top Eight Seeds

1. Parker Keckeisen, Northern Iowa, 26-0
2. Isaiah Salazar, Minnesota, 21-1
3. Dustin Plott, Oklahoma State, 27-3
4. Trey Munoz, Oregon State, 19-3
5. Lenny Pinto, Nebraska, 22-4
6. Bernie Truax, Penn State, 14-4
7. Thomas Stewart, Virginia Tech, 10-2
8. Sam Wolf, Air Force, 18-4

The Favorite

  • #1 Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa)

Keckeisen seems destined to win this year after finishing third, third, and second at the NCAA Championships. He has five career losses with three to Brooks, one to NC State’s Trent Hidlay, and one to Penn State’s Bernie Truax, who was with Cal Poly then.

Brooks and Hidlay moved up to 197 this season, leaving Truax as the only wrestler in the weight to defeat Keckeisen. The former Mustang star secured a 6-5 victory over Keckeisen during the 2022 NCAA Championships quarterfinals but Keckeisen returned the favor with a 6-4 win in the third-place match. Keckeisen secured a 7-5 win over Truax during the 2023 All-Star Classic on November 21, but it doesn’t count on his official record since it was an exhibition. 

The Panther junior is 26-0 on the season and is peaking at the right time. He blitzed through the Big 12 Championships, including a 14-5 finals win over third-seeded Dustin Plott of Oklahoma State. Keckeisen also has wins over #2 Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota (2023 NCAA tournament quarters, 3-2) #4 Trey Munoz of Oregon State (2023 NCAA tournament semis, 5-1), and Lenny Pinto of Nebraska (twice at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite). 

Keckeisen could meet All-American Will Feldkamp of Iowa State in the second round assuming Feldkamp, seeded #17, gets by #16 Nate Duggan of Princeton. Feldkamp fell to his in-state counterpart, 14-4, at the Cliff Keen-Las Vegas Invite, but Keckeisen needs to be ready for his big moves. Truax is on the opposite side of the bracket so the two wouldn’t meet until the finals or in a consolation round. 

Parker Keckeisen At The NCAA Championships: 15-3

2021 - 4 seed (finished 3rd)2022 - 4 seed (finished 3rd)2023 - 1 seed (finished 2nd)
W - Sam Colbray (ISU), 2-1W - Christopher Weiler (WIS), 13-4W - Anthony Carman (WVU), 12-3
W -  David Key (NAVY), 16-5W - Kyle Cochran (MD), 9-3W - Tate Samuelson (LEH), 4-2
W - Hunter Bolen (VT), 4-2 SV-2L - Bernie Truax (CP), 6-5W - Isaiah Salazar (MINN), 3-2
L - Aaron Brooks (PSU), 6-4W - Taylor Venz (NEB), 7-5W - Trey Munoz (ORST), 5-1
W - Brit Wilson (NIU), 6-2W - Jonathan Loew (COR), 7-6L - Aaron Brooks (PSU), 7-2
W - John Poznanski (RUT), 5-4W - Trent Hidlay (NCST), 7-5 TB-1

W - Bernie Truax (CP), 6-4


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Watch Northern Iowa's Parker Keckeisen and Penn State's Bernie Truax wrestle at the 2023 NWCA All-Star Classic.


  • #2 — Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota)
  • #3 — Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State)
  • #4 — Trey Munoz (Oregon State)
  • #5 — Lenny Pinto (Nebraska)
  • #6 — Bernie Truax (Penn State)

Truax is the only wrestler in the field with a win over Keckeisen, and Salazar kept it close during his 3-2 loss at nationals. Salazar is trending upward after his recent Big Ten title including an 8-1 sudden victory win over Truax in the finals. His lone loss this season was an 11-5 setback to Missouri’s Colton Hawks on December 2. 

Plott has a pair of losses to Keckeisen and a 12-10 setback to Pinto during the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite quarterfinals — a loss he avenged a day later with an 11-7 win in the third-place match. 

Munoz has a 4-2 loss to Plott but was pinned by Feldkamp at CKLV, which is the red flag warning for anyone in the bracket. The Cyclone star has nine losses this season but has big move potential. 

Pinto is seeded fifth but his losses are to #1 Keckeisen, #2 Salazar, #3 Plott, and #6 Truax; however, he has wins over Plott and Truax during the season. 

Truax is a man of many weights. His college career began at 149 and peaked last season at 197. The former Cal Poly star transferred to Penn State and moved back down to 184 following fourth-place finishes at nationals each of the past three seasons. 

Salazar, Plott, Munoz, Pinto, and Truax have a game of musical chairs with wins and losses to each other. Keckeisen is the favorite in the top half but Salazar, Plott, and Truax can reach the finals. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Lenny Pinto defeated Dustin Plott, 12-10, in the quarterfinals of the Cliff Kee Las Vas Invitational


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Dustin Plott defeated Lenny Pinto, 11-7, for third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

Sleeper And Landmines

  • #9 — Bennett Berge (SDSU)
  • #14 — Chris Foca (Cornell)
  • #17 — Will Feldkamp (Iowa State)
  • #18 — Ryder Rogotzke (Ohio State)

It feels like Berge is ripe for a breakthrough after a pair of losses to Air Force’s Sam Wolf at the Big 12 Championships and a sudden victory loss to Plott in the dual. 

Foca finished third last year at 174 but has six losses this season. He has added incentive to perform since Cornell is in trophy contention.

Feldkamp, a returning All-American, is dangerous — as mentioned above. 

Rogotzke has 15 falls on the season, including a win by pin over Truax in the dual. That makes him especially dangerous if he loses and goes on a pinning spree on the backside of the bracket. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Will Feldkamp showed how dangerous he can be during his match against Trey Munoz at the 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

Division III vs Division I

Before transferring to Wisconsin this season, Shane Leigel spent three seasons at Division III Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Leigel placed first (2021), fourth (2022), and second (2023) at D3 nationals and is seeded #24 in his first D1 national tournament. 

Kyle Klingman's 184 Pound Predictions

This is Keckeisen’s weight until proven otherwise. His three-season track record and recent Big 12 performance make him the favorite. 

Truax could reach the finals but he’s a sentimental favorite to finish fourth to keep the streak alive. Salazar is on a hot streak but his recent matches have been close. Oklahoma State needs Plott to place high after the team's 18th-place finish last year. Keep an eye on Rogotzke. His dangerous style makes him. This weight should be fun and the matches competitive. 

1. Parker Keckeisen, Northern Iowa
2. Isaiah Salazar, Minnesota
3. Trey Munoz, Oregon State
4. Bernie Truax, Penn State
5. Lennie Pinto, Nebraska
6. Dustin Plott, Oklahoma State
7. Sam Wolf, Air Force
8. Ryder Rogotzke, Ohio State

Check out our 184-pound rankings here.

197 Pounds

And here are those wonderful brackets for your perusal before we properly dig into the 197-pound division. 

Just scroll through in the window below, they're all there!

The NCAA Championship 197-Pound bracket is headlined by two undefeated, Hodge Trophy contending seniors, Aaron Brooks and Trent Hidlay. We'll take a longer look at that duo below, followed by other contenders, sleepers and landmines, then cap things off with some humble predictions. 

Seeds are in parentheses after each wrestler's school. Rankings are from the latest national top 33

The Favorites

  • #1 Aaron Brooks, Penn State (1)
  • #2 Trent Hidlay, NC State (2)

Brooks is a three-time national champ and one of the leading contenders to win the 2024 Hodge Trophy, college wrestling's Heisman Award. He has just three losses in his five-year NCAA career.

The Nittany Lion senior has been bonusing opponents all season long, including an 11-2 major decision of 2023 NCAA finalist Tanner Sloan at the NWCA All-Star Classic in November. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Brooks also has a history with his top contender for the 197-pound crown, Trent Hidlay. Both bumped up to 197 this offseason after competing at 184 for the last three seasons. Hidlay is, like Brooks, a three-time All-American who was unable to compete in the 2020 NCAA Championships because of the stupid novel coronavirus. They both grew up not too far from each other, with Brooks being from Western Maryland and Hidlay calling central Pennsylvania home. 

They also have impressive freestyle resumes as well. Brooks is a U17 champ in 2017, a U20 silver medalist in 2018, and a U23 gold medalist in 2023. Hidlay has two age-level medals to his name and recently won the 2023 Bill Farrell Memorial in New York City. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Brooks, however, has gotten the better of Hidlay over the last few seasons, owning a 3-0 record over Trent, with all three wins coming in the NCAA championships. Their rivalry even goes back to high school, where Brooks was victorious in the finals of Fargo. 

Will this be the year Hidlay finally defeats his nemesis and climbs to the top of the NCAA podium for the first time? It would be quite the story if he did!

The Contenders

  • #3 Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State (3)
  • #4 Michael Beard, Lehigh (4)
  • #5 Jacob Cardenas, Cornell (5)
  • #6 Lou DePrez, Binghamton (6)
  • #7 Rocky Elam, Missouri (12)
  • #8 Stephen Buchanan, Oklahoma (8)
  • #9 Stephen Little, Little Rock (9)
  • #10 Zach Glazier, Iowa (7)
  • #11 Silad Allred, Nebraska (10)
  • #12 Jaxon Smith, Maryland (11)

The rankings and seeds lineup (perhaps surprisingly) closely at 197. Everyone in the top 12 of the rankings is also in the top 12 of the seeds, making for a neat dozen favorites + contenders. 

Tanner Sloan has the highest career NCAA finish of the #3 through #12 ranked and seeded contenders, having reached the finals of the 2023 NCAAs, where he was defeated by Pitt's Nino Bonaccorsi. Sloan was also runner-up in the 2022 U23 world championships in freestyle. 

A trio of EIWA wrestlers (at least they are all in the EIWA for one more week, after which Cornell and the rest of the Ivies split and form their own wrestling conference), are next on the list. Beard beat Cardnenas in the 2024 EIWA finals, 6-3, while Cardenas beat DePrez 4-1 in the semifinals. All three have earned All-American status in the past. 


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

Missouri's Rocky Elam has missed some time this season due to injuries, though he is still hoping to continue his march up the podium, having finished, 5th, 4th and 3rd at his three previous trips to the NCAAs. The Missouri native has one more year of eligibility after this season, and can still have a career that goes 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, which I think would be cool. 

Buchanan is a two-time All-American who transferred from Wyoming to Oklahoma after the 2022 season. He has one more year of eligibility after this championship. 

Stephen Little and Zach Glazier are both at their first NCAA tournament. Little is a redshirt freshman from Kentucky, helping write the history of the Little Rock Trojans, a program in its 5th year of existence. Glazier, conversely, is part of the Hawkeyes, one of the most storied programs in NCAA wrestling history. He's wrestling in his first postseason in his fifth season in Iowa City.

Two more Big Ten contenders round out our list. Both Allred and Smith are redshirt sophomores who finished in the bloodround last season. 

Sleepers & Landmines 

  • #14 Mac Stout, Pittsburgh (21)
  • #23 Justin Rademacher, Oregon State (29) 
  • #29 Ben Smith, Cleveland State (25) MAC Champ

Stout received a pretty tough seed for a guy whose worst loss this season was to #16 ranked and #15 seed Max Shaw. He'll be trouble for anyone in the bracket. 

Rademacher is a freshman straight outta West Linn, Oregon who stayed home for college and is looking to establish himself as a perennial contender. Ben Smith is a MAC champ looking to reach the podium in his third trip to the NCAAs in his last season of eligibility. 

Potential Matchups to Watch

#7 Rocky Elam vs #14 Mac Stout is an incredible matchup in the first round of any tournament, let alone the national championships. 

Another first-round bout to keep an eye on is #19 Wyatt Volker of UNI vs Rutgers' #21 John Poznanski. Poz is a former 4th placer who's received the #14 seed. 

The second round could see all sorts of massive matchups. Little and Buchanan could be the best #8 vs #9 bout of the tournament. Cardenas and Elam are two 2023 All-Americans who could face off in the second round. Jaxon Smith vs Lou DePrez and Zach Glazier vs Silas Allred are two likely round 2 bouts where every competitor is of All-American caliber. 

Spey's Predictions

1) Aaron Brooks, Penn State

2) Trent Hidlay, NC State

3) Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State

4) Rocky Elam, Missouri

5) Michael Beard, Lehigh

6) Jacob Cardenas, Cornell

7) Lou DePrez, Binghamton

8) Stephen Buchanan, Oklahoma

R12) Silas Allred, Nebraska

R12) Jaxon Smith, Maryland

R12) Zach Glazier, Iowa

R12) Stephen Little, Little Rock 

I'm sticking with chalk for the top seeds, with Brooks once again prevailing over Hidlay. And although I would be mildly surprised, I would not be shocked to see Hidlay to beat Brooks for the first time in his collegiate career. One thing I would be shocked by, though, is if neither wrestler tries setting up their offense with underhooks. 

Another match where I could see my pick going wrong is Hidlay over Sloan in the semis. Sloan is a big 197-pounder and extremely tough. He could very well upend Hidlay's planned NCAA finals showdown with Brooks. 

As it is, I have Sloan taking third with Elam falling in the third-place bout. Then it's an all-EIWA party for the next three placements. I have Beard beating Cardenas in both the quarterfinals and the fifth-place bout, but when you wrestle someone that many times and are that close in ability, often you get different results once or twice, so don't expect that outcome to playout as I predicted. 

Then it's Buchanan at 8th for the second time in his career, and then three Big Ten wrestlers in the bloodround. As I have it, Brooks is the only Big Tenner in the top 8, although the conference could very well show up and prove me wrong by filling half the podium spots.

And that's what predictions from the so-called wrestling media are all about: getting proven hilariously wrong when it comes time for the actual wrestling to take place. We'll see it all unfold in a week. Let's all enjoy seeing just how wrong I can be!

285 Pounds

#1 Greg Kerkvliet vs #2 Yonger Bastida is one of the most anticipated matches of the NCAA tournament. However, this entire weight from the quarterfinals on will be must-see TV! Before diving deep into this weight class preview, I encourage you to go check out all of the awesome preview content surrounding the NCAA Championships HERE.

2023 All-Americans

  1. Mason Parris, Michigan
  2. Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State
  3. Wyatt Hendrickson, Air Force
  4. Tony Cassioppi, Iowa
  5. Lucas Davison, Northwestern
  6. Zach Elam, Missouri
  7. Cohlton Schultz, Arizona State
  8. Trent Hillger, Wisconsin

2024 Top Eight Seeds

  1. Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State
  2. Yonger Bastida, Iowa State
  3. Wyatt Hendrickson, Air Force
  4. Cohlton Schultz, Arizona State
  5. Nathan Taylor, Lehigh
  6. Zach Elam, Missouri
  7. Taye Ghadiali, Campbell
  8. Owen Trephan, NC State

The Favorites

  • #1 Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State
  • #2 Yonger Bastida, Iowa State

Greg Kerkvliet and Yonger Bastida are two of the 11 (10 if you include Mekhi Lewis' loss at the NWCA All-Star Classic) undefeated wrestlers going into the NCAA Championships. As they say in the business - somebody’s O has to GO. Greg Kerkvliet is the #1 seed and the odds-on-favorite to win. While Yonger Bastida went 17-9 and failed to All-American last year while competing at 197 lbs, Greg Kerkvliet made the national finals and only lost to one man - Dan Hodge Trophy winner Mason Parris. However, the move up to 285 has proved to be the right one for Bastia. This season the Cuba native has gone 24-0, has a 70% bonus rate and has wins over #3, #4, #6 (X2), #9, #10, #11, and #12.

I have previously incorrectly stated that Bastida should have gotten the #1 seed in the matrix over Kerkvliet.

Neither path is super easy though. Kerkvliet will have to go through the man he defeated in the Big Ten finals - Nick Feldman in the quarters and then Cohlton Schultz in the semis. The last time Schultz and Kerkvliet met was in the 2021 NCAA consi quarters. A bout Schultz won 14-8.

Bastida will have to go through Lucas Davison in the quarters and then Wyatt Hendrickson once again in the semis. Bastida isn’t lacking confidence though.

The Contenders

  • #3 Wyatt Hendrickson, Air Force
  • #4 Cohlton Schultz, Arizona State
  • #5 Nathan Taylor, Lehigh

As mentioned above, Hendrickson has already suffered losses this season to the two top seeds. However, there is a caveat to give Air Force fans hope. When Kerkvliet dismantled Hendrickson 18-2 in November, Hendrickson was coming off of an injury and not 100%. 

Watch Kerkvliet and Hendrickson’s NWCA All-Star match below.


Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Sign Up

Already a subscriber? Log In

When Bastida defeated Hendrickson 10-7 in the Big 12 finals two weeks ago, five of Bastida’s points came off of one exchange. This fact even led to both Christian Pyles and Ben Askren picking Hendrickson over Bastida in their official NCAA predictions.

Cohlton Schultz is coming into NCAAs with a very limited schedule as he has been focusing on his Greco-Roman Olympic aspirations. He has a 9-1 record with the lone loss being a 4-3 loss to Bastida in January in his first match of the season. If you’re an ASU fan, there is still hope. Cohlton’s loss to Bastida was his first match of the season and he was still focusing on Greco + the last time he and Kerkvliet wrestled, he won.

Nathan Taylor is a slight tier below Hendrickson and Schultz, but I included him because he’s tough. He’s 23-3 this year, but two of those losses came to Kerkvliet and the other was to a fully healthy Dayton Pitzer. He hasn’t lost since December 3rd. The last time Taylor and Schultz met, which was in 2023, it was a one-point match.

Sleepers & Landmines

  • #10 Lucas Davison, Michigan
  • #14 Boone McDermott, Oregon State
  • #15 Lewis Fernandes, Cornell

Sleepers and landmines are hard to predict at heavyweight as it is often one of the more chalk weights at NCAAs hence why I have three top-15 seeds as “landmines” - something I would not normally consider a landmine. Here’s my rationale, however. Very few people outside of Ann Arbor or Indiana (Davison’s home state) are giving him a chance against Bastida in the quarterfinals. I am also picking Bastida to win, but this is a classic trap match. Bastida can’t overlook Davison with Hendrickson and Kerkvliet looming in the semis and finals.

Although I’ve got Boone McDermott and Lewis Fernandes both losing in the second round, I like their backside draws and have them both making the bloodround - where anything can happen. If you’re looking for a double-digit AA pick - they're both decent options alongside Davison.

Early Round Matches To Watch

Nick Feldman vs Owen Trephan

This is a rematch from December in which Trephan won 8-6. However, Feldman has looked a lot better as his freshman year as gone on, hence why he is a higher seed. Can the Young Buck flip the result from the dual?

Taye Ghadiali vs Lucas Davison

A 2X All-American, Davison has the past accolades advantage over Campbell’s Taye Ghadiali. He is also 1-0 against him in his career. However, Ghadiali is wrestling better than he ever has in his career and is now seeded higher than Davison. Can the Camel prove the seeding committee right and make a push to bring home Campbell’s second-ever All-American honors? Nathan Kraisser was the program’s first and only in 2017.

JD's 285 Pound Predictions

1. Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State

2. Yonger Bastida, Iowa State

3. Wyatt Hendrickson, Air Force

4. Cohlton Schultz, Arizona State

5. Nick Feldman, Ohio State

6. Lucas Davison, Michigan

7. Nathan Taylor, Lehigh

8. Zach Elam, Missouri

R12. Lewis Fernandes, Cornell

R12. Boone McDermott, Oregon State

R12. Yaraslau Slavikouski, Rutgers

R12. Owen Trephan, NC State

Mar 21-23, 4:00 PM UTC