Projecting The 157 Seeds For The 2018 NCAA Tournament

Courtesy NC State Athletics Hayden Hidlay

As we enter February, seeding for the NCAA tournament starts to come to the forefront of every coach's mind. We've had #1-ranked guys go down this year, but none as drastically as Jason Nolf did against Rutgers on Sunday.

Since we don't know much about the junior's injury other than Penn State coach Cael Sanderson saying it is minor and won't require surgery, I am operating under the premise that Nolf injury-defaults out of the Big Ten tournament.

Please note that, while I predict conference finish to project these seeds, I do not include the respective tournaments in ranked opponents remaining.

Projected Seeds: 125133 | 141149

1) Michael Kemerer, Iowa

Nolf's injury makes the second-ranked Kemerer the favorite; however, the question must arise as to why he didn't wrestle this week. If Kemerer is also hurt, that leaves the door open for a potential loss and Hayden Hidlay to nab the top seed. However, he won't see any ranked guys until Big Tens.

2) Hayden Hidlay, NC State

Based on Hidlay's performance this year, he has to do is beat Micah Jordan in the Wolfpack's final dual of the year and he'll be undefeated heading into the national tournament. That's easier said than done, but it would nail him into a top two seed.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Friday, Feb. 9: #14 Kennedy Monday, North Carolina

Sunday, Feb. 18: #5 Micah Jordan, Ohio State

3) Jason Nolf, Penn State

Again, it is impossible to predict where Nolf will be seeded. But with potentially two official losses on his resume (injury defaults against Rutgers and at Big Tens), it would be unprecedented for him to be the top seed if two other guys go undefeated. For reference, here is our article last year on Nick Suriano getting the three seed.

4) Joey Lavallee, Missouri

I'm honestly not sure where the coaches will rank Nolf, but he'll have a lower conference placement and lower winning percentage that Nolf. However, I still think Nolf will get a better coaches rank and possibly RPI as well. He has no ranked opponents left on his schedule and is 2-0 against No. 13 Colin Heffernan of Central Michigan. He'd likely face Heffernan, who has been injured most of this season, at the MAC championships.

5) Josh Shields, Arizona State

It again gets dicey here, as Shields has split with Mickey Jordan, losing their most recent matchup. However, Shields will have a higher conference placement and better winning percentage than Jordan. Seeding them will likely come down to the coaches rankings.

6) Micah Jordan, Ohio State

Jordan is in a good spot to raise his stock, because he can get another shot at Alec Pantaleo and could knock off Hidlay. The best-case scenario for all the Big Ten 157s could actually be to end up on the same side as Nolf at the conference tournament if he doesn't end up wrestling.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Sunday, Feb. 11: #7 Alec Pantaleo, Michigan

Sunday, Feb. 18: #3 Hayden Hidlay, NC State

7) Alec Pantaleo, Michigan

No one at this weight can help or hurt their case for a seed more than Pantaleo with his remaining dual schedule. Even then, the conference tournament will have a lot to do with how much his losses to Andrew Crone and Shields come back to bite him.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Friday, Feb. 2: #8 Tyler Berger, Nebraska

Sunday, Feb. 11: #5 Micah Jordan, Ohio State

Sunday, Feb. 18: #13 Colin Heffernan, Central Michigan

8) Tyler Berger, Nebraska

Outside of Nolf, no spot is harder to designate than the eighth seed. Berger will be helped by his RPI and coaches rank, but this spot could also be taken by North Dakota State's Clay Ream.

Ranked Opponents Remaining

Friday, Feb. 2: #7 Alec Pantaleo, Michigan

Friday, Feb. 9: #19 Andrew Crone, Wisconsin

Friday, Feb. 16: #18 Paul Fox, Stanford

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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