Projecting The 125lb Seeds At NCAAs

Doug Schooner-USA Today Sports Nathan Tomasello

Once the NCAA Division I season starts, everything becomes about seeding. The regular season matters because wins in November and December turn into an edge after the conference tournaments end.

I have been clamoring to do these seeding projections for weeks now, because seeds are such a huge and fascinating part of our sport. Instead of the regimentation of the NFL or NBA in which we know where everyone stands as soon the regular season ends, we have to get a committee together in a room, hash out a set of criteria, and hope you can standardize it across 10 weights.

We start as we do all things in wrestling at 125 pounds, which might just be the most interesting weight to seed. Nathan Tomasello is ranked first, but he has yet to wrestle this season, and hasn’t made 125 on a same day weigh-in since March of 2016. He also could see Nick Suriano, Ethan Lizak and possibly even Spencer Lee as many as two times. Lizak already has a loss from CKLV, and Sean Fausz just lost to Daton Fix. That leaves Darian Cruz with the safest path to the 1 seed.

Here's the way I see the NCAA seeds shaking out as of today, and these are very likely to change based on the events of the next two months.

1) Darian Cruz, Lehigh

If there’s one thing the seeding committee values, it’s going undefeated. Cruz only has one guy currently ranked in the Top-10 left on his schedule, which is #9 Louie Hayes if they happen to meet at the Southern Scuffle.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Feb. 9 vs. #13 Ryan Millhof, Arizona State

Feb. 16 vs. #19 Christian Moody, Oklahoma

2) Nick Suriano, Rutgers

If anyone goes undefeated and wins the Big Ten, they will be the top seed. Suriano, Tomasello and Lee (if his redshirt gets pulled) are all capable of going undefeated. But the potential for them to pick each other off, not to mention Lizak in the mix, is too great for me to see one of them coming out completely unscathed.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Jan. 7 vs. #1 Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State

Feb. 2 vs. #16 Sebastian Rivera, Northwestern

Feb. 4 vs. #17 Travis Piotrowski, Illinois

Feb. 9 vs. #3 Ethan Lizak, Minnesota

3) Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State

Again, Tomasello is ranked first and entered NCAAs undefeated last year, so the top seed is more than reasonable. But how will he bounce back from his injury? How will his body handle making 125 two days in a row? Can he withstand the barrage of talent the Big Ten throws his way? I think he splits with Suriano.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Jan. 7 vs. #2 Nick Suriano, Rutgers

Jan. 12 vs. #3 Ethan Lizak, Minnesota

Jan. 28 vs. #10 Luke Welch, Purdue

Feb. 11 vs. #11 Drew Mattin, Michigan

Feb. 18 vs. #8 Sean Fausz, NC State

4) Ethan Lizak, Minnesota

The loss to LaMont hurts him quite a bit, because it leaves him very little room for error in his Big Ten schedule. However, his comeback win over Nick Piccininni could override that if Picc goes on to win Big 12s.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Jan. 12 vs. #1 Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State

Jan. 14 vs. #17 Travis Piotrowski, Illinois

Jan. 21 vs. #11 Drew Mattin, Michigan

Jan. 28 vs. #16 Sebastian Rivera, Northwestern

Feb. 9 vs. #2 Nick Suriano, Rutgers

5) Nick Piccininni, Oklahoma State

The loss to Lizak hurts Picc more than anything, but winning out would means he ends the season with 1 loss, a conference title, and wins over Taylor LaMont, Sean Fausz and Sean Russell. Even then, he would need all the Big Ten guys to have at least two losses to move from the top half of the bracket to the bottom.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Jan. 5 vs. #8 Sean Fausz, NC State

Feb. 3 vs. #12 Jay Schwarm, Northern Iowa

Feb. 9 vs. #7 Sean Russell, Edinboro

Feb. 11 vs. #19 Christian Moody, Oklahoma

6) Sean Fausz, NC State

At this point, the seeds bear a pretty strong resemblance to the rankings, which may not be the case as we move forward in weight. His win over LaMont will be extremely valuable, as well as a schedule light in landmines. If he beats Hayes twice and wins ACCs, he should be seeded ahead of guys like Mattin and Luke Welch who will finish low in their own conference with more than five losses.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Jan. 5 vs. #4 Nick Piccininni, Oklahoma State

Jan. 26 vs. #9 Louie Hayes, Virginia

Feb. 18 vs. #1 Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State

7) Taylor LaMont, Utah Valley

LaMont can really mess things up by winning Big 12s. Otherwise his wins over Russell and Lizak should keep him in the range of being seeded Top-8.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Feb. 2 vs. #19 Christian Moody, Oklahoma

8) Sean Russell, Edinboro

Winning a conference title, and holding a win over likely MAC champ Jay Schwarm should allow Russell to grab the last All American seed. He'd probably have a case to be over Fausz if hadn't suffered losses to LaMont and Drew Mattin.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Feb. 9 vs. #4 Nick Piccininni, Oklahoma State

Feb. 10 vs. #19 Christian Moody, Oklahoma

A few guys who could break into this group of eight are Spencer Lee, pending a redshirt pull, Jay Schwarm if he gets some help from guys above him losing, and Louie Hayes if he can beat Sean Fausz.

Coaches Poll And RPI Rankings In Context

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The NCAA released its tournament automatic qualifying allocations for each conference on Thursday, setting the stage for the postseason. Those allocations were determined using three components: winning percentage, the coaches poll, and RPI rankings. 

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