On Wednesday, the NCAA wrestling tournament brackets were released. Here are my five thoughts on how the seeding and brackets played out.
1. Fix and White’s Brackets Went OSU’s Way
At heavyweight the Cowboys got the 1 seed. This places Derek White opposite his lone loss on the season Gable Steveson, and Big Ten champion Anthony Cassar, who White beat at the Southern Scuffle earlier this season. That’s incredibly big for Derek White and the Cowboys. There are guys that can test him on his way to the final, but he’ll be as heavily favored as anyone to at least make the final. Fix is still at a really tough weight, but his draw and path to the final is so much better than all of his rivals. He may run into the wrestler who beat him this year in the semifinal. Here’s a list of who he won’t hit in that path though. All these guys are on the opposite end of the bracket.
Three past finalists (Stevan Micic, Nick Suriano, Ethan Lizak) plus Tariq Wilson, Austin DeSanto and Roman Bravo-Young all on the bottom side at 133.
— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) March 13, 2019
2. Preston Weigel Got a Better Draw than Nick Piccininni
Nick landed the No. 2 seed at 125 while Preston got the No. 3 at 133. Here’s a list of who Nick may have to go through to get to the final. Sean Fauz (NC State), Pat Glory (Princeton) or Big 12 runner up Brent Fleetwood, and defending NCAA champ Spencer Lee of Iowa.
Nick has beaten every single one of those guys, comparative to other wrestlers in his bracket it’s certainly a tough draw though. Fauz is good, Glory is a superstar freshman that really pushed Nick in the dual, Fleetwood I think could beat Glory and is not an easy out, and Spencer Lee is the defending champion. Weigel, on the other hand, has had bonus point wins over most of the guys in his path with the exception of Kollin Moore who he could meet in the semifinal if the seeds hold up.
3. Penn State Got Great Draws Which Will Make It Tough on OSU
Outside of 285, where OSU got the prized 1 seed — and there were strong arguments for all three guys — PSU should have really no complaints about where they landed in the their brackets. They got a lot of really good seeds and really good paths at each weight. That obviously doesn’t do much for OSU’s chances at unseating them for the team title. Based on how that played out, the Cowboys will have to wrestle a bit over their head for any shot to take down PSU.
4. OSU’s in a Good Spot to Beat Everyone Else
PSU may have an edge on the field but OSU is in a great spot to beat all of the other contenders. Iowa and Ohio State got pretty standard draws at most weights and you could reasonably argue that they have worse ones than Oklahoma State. The Cowboys also match up with a lot of them early where OSU is seeded fairly low. If Joe Smith knocks off Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, if Kaid Brock takes out Ohio State’s Joey McKenna, or Kaden Gfeller beats Micah Jordan, then the Cowboys are suddenly in a very prime position. Ultimately, if they just get three to four in the finals and a few extra All-Americans they should have a pretty strong team finish.
5. Kaden Gfeller, Jacobe Smith, and Dakota Geer Could Be Dangerous Here
The Big 4 that the Cowboys need to push into the finals are Piccininni, Fix, Weigel and White. I feel with what we saw at the Big 12 tournament and the draws the Cowboys received that these three are the dark horses that could make a run.
Gfeller just has an energy about him that makes you think he could shock a lot of people. Geer is a low seed at 26 but his matchup with a hobbled Nick Reenan in the first round is intriguing. If he can pull that upset who knows what he’ll do? Jacobe Smith is a guy that we’ve seen very little of when he’s 100 percent healthy and at his best weight. He was undersized when wrestling at 184 this year and beat up most of last season where he still managed to be an All-American. He actually has a win from a few years ago over the top seed he could see en route to the finals in Daniel Lewis.
The potential for all of these guys to shock some people is definitely there.