Missed anything from yesterday? Check out Shaffe checking out 125-157
All right, all right, ALL RIGHT!
Its NCAA championship week. We finally made it. And holy crap we made it with the #1 ranked team in the country and about half the prognosticators out there predicting a Mizzou title. I honestly do not know what to think about all this right now so I'll just continue on with Shaffe's thoughts about each weight class.
We start at 165lbs and the Sr. Mikey England. Mikey has not had the easiest road to the NCAAs this season. He started the year at 174, but had to move down once Miklus emerged at 184 and knocked Eblen down a weight class. It took him a while to get his weight in order and be healthy but he finally made it there and was able to qualify for the NCAAs, which is really all we were asking for. Mike drew a bit of luck by getting seeded into the pigtail match at 165 and will square off in his first match against Tyrel White of Columbia. The two have not faced each other before that I can tell so I have zero clue how this opening match will go. I'd have to think that England will at least be fired up and has a good shot at winning this one. After the opening match however things get dicier, England would see #11 Warner of ODU and most likely drop the consolations. I think a good tournament for England is 2-2 and maybe picking up one match with some extra team points.
NEXT! Its 174lbs and yet another top 4 seeded Tiger, Johnny Eblen. Eblen is 27-5 on the season and got about as good a draw as we could have hoped for after he fell to Evans of Iowa and Watlers at the MACS. Eblen won't have to face a wrestler he has lost to this year until at least the Semis and should have as good a shot as anyone at picking up extra team points in those first 2-3 matches. While Johnny has ran a bit hot and cold this year, especially lately, he can turn it on and get those big team points. He has 2 pins against tournament competition and a 7-3 overall record against the field (those 3 losses are his only on the season at 174). My prediction is Eblen rolls to the Semis, drops a tough match to the undefeated Kokesh and ends up in the 3rd place match where he'll most likely face one of about a dozen Big10 wrestlers that are AA worthy.
We're moving, we're moving.... on to 184 and the wild man, Willie Miklus. Seriously, Willie is as wild and raw as anyone in the country. Dude can be really good in a few years if he just puts it all together, wrestles the full match (no more last second take downs given up) and shores up his technique. It wasn't a total surprise that Miklus wasn't seeded but I am a little intrigued about how this division did get seeded. Willie is 28-7 on the season and 3-6 against the seeded wrestlers at 184. Nolan Boyd at #12 lost twice to Miklus including an 18-10 MD while Miklus split 2 matches with #4 Dechow 9-7, 4-6. Miklus' first match two possible matches are against EIWA opponents (Thomas, Brown) whom he absolutely can beat. Will he though? I have zero clue. Beef and I have talked about Willie before and if he gets over into the consolation side and puts together a few pins or runs through guys MD'ing everyone, he could be HUGE for a possible title run. This is exactly the kind of guy that Penn State has had in past years that doesn't win a title but is as big to the team title as a champion that wins 5 matches by a total of 5 points.
So then, we're at 197lbs, the home of one J'Den Cox. Returning National Champion J'Den Cox. Winner of 53 in a row, J'Den Cox. The toughest match Cox has in the first 3 rounds is against #9 seed Jace Bennett. J'Den MD'd Bennett 11-0 AT Cornell earlier this year. We should see pins or TF's the first 2 rounds with at least another MD in the Quarters. The Semis are where things get seriously interesting. 197 is pretty loaded. Its much deeper than last year and this is where you're going to start seeing it. Kyle Snyder of tOSU is 26-3 and seeded 4th, Scott Schiller of Minnesota is 26-4 and seeded 5th. One of these two will face J'Den in the Semis. J'Den hasn't seen either one this year and frankly, both could beat him. I'm more afraid of Snyder as these two have a history dating back to High School National Title matches and Snyder won the majority of those matches. If J'Den makes it to the finals he'll most likely get a rematch against Morgan McIntosh of Penn State whom he beat 2-1 at the Scuffle finals back in January. This is without a doubt a tougher field than the one Cox ran through last year. Hes going to have to earn this title in the Semis and Finals. I think he can do it, I know he can do it, I just don't know that he will.
OK, so here we finally are. The big man, #11 seed, Devon Mellon. Mellon had to sit out a good portion of the first semester with some eligibility issues and I really think that hurt his game. He is without a doubt capable of hanging with and beating top 10 seeds and making a possible run at an AA to finish off his career at Mizzou. Devon has faced 5 of the top 10 seeds this year an dhas a 1-7 record against them. The worst of those losses was to #6 seed Adam Coon of Michigan, and of course Mellon is set up to face Coon in the 2nd round. This was not a great draw for Mellon but it does set him up well for a good run on the consolation side. I can certainly see Mellon going on a run in the consolations and earning a top 8 finish. He is one of those fringe guys, along with Lavallee & Miklus that can really be the difference for this team winning the whole thing and not. Devon making the podium at the end and earning a couple of MD's or Falls along the way would be huge.