Three major amateur wrestling websites – D1CollegeWrestling.com, InterMat, and TheMat.com – weighed in with their predictions Wednesday for individual and team champions at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City starting Thursday.
A total of ten selections were posted -- one by D1CW.com, while six writers from InterMat and three communications specialists from TheMat.com. In terms of predications for individual champs, there was considerable consensus among the wrestling journalists in the 141, 165, 184, and heavyweight weight classes… while other weights had more divergent opinions. In addition, eight of the ten predicted that Penn State would win its fourth straight team title.
Forecasts for individual champions
Here’s a weight-by-weight analysis of the wrestling website predictions:
125 pounds: Three different wrestlers were selected as winning this title. Defending champ Jesse Delgado – the top seed – was the top pick of two of InterMat’s writers. No. 2 seed Nahshon Garrett of Cornell University was named champ on four ballots, as was third-seeded Nico Megaludis from Penn State.
133 pounds: University of Northern Iowa’s Joe Colon may be the No. 1 seed, but he was the No. 1 pick of only one of the ten writers, T.R. Foley of InterMat. Second-seeded A.J. Schopp of Edinboro earned the vote of TheMat’s Richard Immel… while Iowa’s Tony Ramos, seeded third, was the favorite of eight wrestling writers to win the title at 133. (Last year’s champ, Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, moved up to 141.)
141 pounds: Despite being named the second seed by the NCAA, the Buckeyes’ Stieber was the pick of all ten writers to win a third NCAA title, this time at 141. The NCAA’s top seed, Mitchell Port of Edinboro, received no votes. (Last year’s titlewinner at 141, Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple, is now wrestling at 149.)
149 pounds: Another weight class where the writers disagree with the NCAA seeding. The top seed at 149 is Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt, but only three writers predicted he would leave Oklahoma City as champ. Six writers picked the fourth-seeded Maple as winning a second straight title… while InterMat’s Andrew Hipps liked Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern, the No. 5 seed.
157 pounds: Exactly half of the writers selected top-seeded James Green of Nebraska as the man to be crowned champ in this weight class. Four picked No. 3 seed Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State, while one – Tom Franck of InterMat – chose second-seeded Derek St. John of Iowa, who, in case anyone forgot, is the defending champ at this weight.
165 pounds: Top-seeded David Taylor – known by his Twitter ID as @psu_magicman – hopes to work some more of his magic at Chesapeake Energy Arena by winning his second title for Penn State. The grad student originally from St. Paris, Ohio apparently has cast a spell on the predictor panel; all ten writers think Taylor will be crowned the champ.
174 pounds: Another divergence between the NCAA’s top seed, and the picks of the panel. The NCAA named Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry the No. 1 seed. However, only one writer – TheMat’s Craig Sesker – thought the defending champ would have his arm raised in victory Saturday night. The other nine chose Perry’s cross-state rival, Andrew Howe of the Oklahoma Sooners, the No. 2 seed.
184 pounds: An even stronger case of NCAA and the writers disagreeing. The top seed at 184 was Maryland’s Jimmy Sheptock… while all ten writers made Penn State senior Ed Ruth their choice for champ. If Ruth wins, he will become the first three-time NCAA champ in the long, storied history of Nittany Lion wrestling.
197 pounds: Yet another example of wrestling writers questioning the NCAA pick for top seed. Ohio State’s Nick Heflin was the No. 1 seed… but none of the panelists picked the buff Buckeye to win it all in Oklahoma City. Second-seeded J’Den Fox – a freshman for University of Missouri – was the selection of six writers to be the next champ at 197. Two from TheMat.com picked Iowa State’s Kyven Gadson (seeded fifth) to win the title, while InterMat’s Josh Lowe was partial to Minnesota’s Scott Schiller, the No. 4 seed.
Heavyweight: Two-time defending champ Tony Nelson has had a rugged season, losing four matches (more than he did in the previous two seasons)… but he was named the top seed by the NCAA, and top pick of eight writers to become Minnesota’s first three-time heavyweight champ. Northwestern’s Mike McMullan – last year’s NCAA runner-up to Nelson, and No. 6 seed this year – was the favorite of TheMat’s Richard Immel, while InterMat’s T.R. Foley selected freshman phenom Adam Coon of Michigan, the No. 4 seed.
Team title predictions
Eight of the ten writers picked Penn State as winning yet another team title (fourth in a row; fifth overall). TheMat's Craig Sesker chose the Iowa Hawkeyes as team champs, while TheMat's Richard Immel picked Oklahoma State. Among the teams which received votes for top-five finishes (in addition to PSU, Iowa, and Oklahoma State): Minnesota, Cornell, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Get prepped for the 2014 NCAAs with Mat Bracketology: See College Wrestling Examiner's weight-by-weight analysis of seeded wrestlers by clicking on the Mat Bracketology link.
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