2021 NCAA Wrestling Championship Watch Party

NCAA 149-Pound Preview: Which Top Seed Breaks Through?

NCAA 149-Pound Preview: Which Top Seed Breaks Through?

Bratke breaks down everything you need to know about 149 at the 2021 NCAA Championships and makes his All-American predictions.

Mar 16, 2021 by Kyle Bratke
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The longest anyone has ever had to wait for an NCAA Tournament since World War II ended is finally over. The competitors have made their way to St Louis, and we are going to crown ten new champions for the first time since 2019.

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The longest anyone has ever had to wait for an NCAA Tournament since World War II ended is finally over. The competitors have made their way to St Louis, and we are going to crown ten new champions for the first time since 2019.

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The majority of weights this season have a heavy favorite, and in some cases, like 125 and 285, have a wrestler who is head and shoulders above the rest of the field. However, 149 is not one of those weights. I wouldn't say it's wide open, but I believe that all four top seeds can stand on top of the podium on Saturday night.

The numbers you'll see below are not our rankings, but what each wrestler is seeded. 

Title Contenders

#1 Sammy Sasso, Ohio State

#2 Austin O'Connor, North Carolina

#3 Brock Mauller, Missouri

#4 Boo Lewallen, Oklahoma State

All four of this year's top seeds were title contenders last year and were top-five seeds before the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. This year they have a combined record of 53-1. Boo Lewallen has the only loss of the season and it came to Brock Mauller in tiebreakers. Going back to last season, outside of Lewallen's two losses to Mauller, they haven't lost to anyone else in this bracket. 

Watch Lewallen beat fellow All-American Max Thomsen last season.

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All-American Threats

#5 Ridge Lovett, Nebraska

#6 Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech

#7 Jonathan Millner, App State

#8 Jaden Abas, Stanford

#9 Legend Lamer, Cal Poly

#10 Mike Van Brill, Rutgers

#12 Max Murin, Iowa

#14 Michael Blockhus, Minnesota

#15 Griffin Parriott, Purdue

#16 PJ Ogunsanya, Army

There are plenty of other wrestlers you could add to this list, but I'm not going to list every wrestler in the bracket. These are just the wrestlers that I have either placing, in the bloodround, or on the cusp of being in the bloodround.

Ridge Lovett and Bryce Andonian are two that stand out as wrestlers that are dangerous from everywhere and will get shots at #4 Boo Lewallen and #3 Brock Mauller potentially in the quarterfinals. Lovett would need to get by Max Murin again, who until after the Big Ten Championships, was ranked in the top-five all year long.

Jaden Abas and Legend Lamer have split this season and could meet again in the second round before a potential match with top-seeded Sammy Sasso. Jon Miller and Mike Van Brill could also be another really fun round of 16 matchup. The winner of that would get Austin O'Connor in the quarterfinals. 

PJ Ogunsanya is undefeated on the year, but has a tough draw with Kyle Parco in round one, and potentially Sasso in the round of 16. 

Watch Jaden Abas beat Andrew Alirez in the 2020 Southern Scuffle finals.

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Sleepers And Landmines

#17 Kyle Parco, Fresno State

#18 Jarrett Degen, Iowa State

#19 Casey Cobb, Navy

#20 Josh Heil, Campbell

#25 Yahya Thomas, Northwestern

It's rare to see a former All-American seeded this low, but that's what you have in Jarrett Degen. The Cyclone is clearly battling injuries and fell twice to Kyle Parco at the Big 12 Championship. Parco has just one setback on the year and was third in Tulsa. 

Casey Cobb also has just one loss on the year, and in my opinion, has a tossup match in the first round with Michael Blockhus. Josh Heil also has a match I believe he can win first around Mitch Moore. This is Heil's fourth NCAA Championship, pushed Andonian in the first match of the season, and lost 2-0 to the #7 seed Millner in the Southern Conference finals.

Finally, Junior world team member Yahya Thomas at the #25 feels crazy. He's beaten Griffin Parriott, Michael Blockhus, and taken Sammy Sasso to the brink at last year's NCAA Championships. Every match he wrestles will be close and he'll at least have a chance to win late. 

Watch Sasso beat Thomas in a thriller in the 2020 Big Ten quarterfinals.

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Anticipated Matchups

#5 Ridge Lovett, Nebraska vs #12 Max Murin, Iowa

Can Lovett do it again? We'll likely find out in the round of 16. This is one of the few areas where Iowa can gain unexpected team points based on seed.  

#3 Brock Mauller, Missouri vs #6 Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech

Bryce Andonian has picked up a fall or scored double-digit points in half of his matches this season. The most points Mauller has allowed is 5. What will give if they meet in the quarterfinals? 

#1 Sammy Sasso, Ohio State vs #4 Boo Lewallen, Oklahoma State

Both of these guys are good on their feet and tough on top but in very different ways. Sasso can be counter-reliant where Lewallen is more offensive with ankle picks, singles, and doubles. Which style will prevail?

#3 Brock Mauller, Missouri vs #2 Austin O'Connor, North Carolina

I believe Mauller will be able to get by the dangerous Andonian and setup another massive showdown to see who punches their ticket to the finals. At the 2019 NCAA Championships, O'Connor edged Mauller 4-3 in the consolation semifinals. What will happen this time around?

Watch the last matchup between Mauller and O'Connor.

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Predictions

1. Sammy Sasso, Ohio State

2. Austin O'Connor, North Carolina

3. Brock Mauller, Missouri

4. Boo Lewallen, Oklahoma State

5. Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech

6. Ridge Lovett, Nebraska

7. Jaden Abas, Stanford

8. Max Murin, Iowa

I went completely chalk with the top four. Sue me. I just believe they have established their own tier from the rest of the field. Sasso and O'Connor is a total toss-up, but for whatever reason, my gut is telling me Sasso. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it was O'Connor standing on top of the podium on Saturday night.

Bloodround Results

Lovett over Griffin Parriott, Purdue

Abas over Michael Blockhus, Minnesota

Murin over Mike Van Brill, Rutgers

Andonian over PJ Ogunsanya, Army

Lovett and Parriott haven't hit this season, but I went with the hot hand. Blockhus and Abas is a toss-up, but I choose the wrestler who I believe has a little more offense. 

While Van Brill beat Murin at the Big Ten Championships, I would be surprised if it happens again. It was 1-1 with 40 seconds to go when Murin tried to scramble from the bottom. I think this time around he pushes hard for a takedown, and maybe even avoid s going underneath. 

In my bracket Ogunsanya has a tough road back after falling to Sasso, but I think he is able to navigate Degen and Lamer to make the bloodround, but ultimately fall to the wild Andonian.

Let me know how you see this weight going on Twitter @Kbratke.