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Mizzou Wrestling: NCAA Preview and Big Time Wrestling Live Thread

We finish up our two-day preview of the NCAA Wrestling Tournament

The Beef - Alright, so Shaffe was buying Barnes at 157.  Let's switch to BST to see how much he is buying Lewis at 165

BST - Lewis is the 4 seed. Hes only lost this year to 3 guys that are in the NCAA tournament. The only one of those 3 on his side of the bracket is #1 Dieringer of Okie State. The NCAAs can do crazy things to guys, upsets happen. Its a lot of pressure for a freshman, but Lewis has shown that he is not a normal (RS) frosh. I think he rolls into the Semis against Dieringer, puts up yet another effort against the returning champ, but does end up falling. I really think the hardest thing for an underclassman at this tournament is once you lose, realizing that its not all over, there is still an awful lot to wrestle for, and sometimes its a pretty quick turnaround. If Lewis wrestles like he is capable and keeps his head on, I think hes a top 6 All American, and could finish as high as 3rd.

Also, Lewis is one of those guys that just knows how to get pins. Team bonus points are how you get on to the podium as a group, and having multiple guys racking up MD's, Tech Falls, and Pins is huge. If Lewis finishes like he has shown he can, he could be a huge boost to the team race for Mizzou as well.

Shaffe - I can’t disagree with much of what BST said regarding Lewis. His upside is tremendous even as a freshman and I think the bracket is set up well enough for him to manage a top 6 finish. If he does face Dieringer in the semifinals I’m looking forward to actually being able to watch that match since the Oklahoma State dual was audio only. I still can’t believe that Lewis rode Dieringer for 4 freaking minutes and I’d be super interested to see what happens in a rematch with everything on the line.

The Beef - All Lewis needed was a cheap tilt, which I realize is asking a lot against someone the caliber of Dieringer, who really is trending as one of the great all-time Okie State wrestlers…which is obviously saying something.

Anyway, on to 174 and Blaise Butler.  Surprised here to see that seed?

Shaffe - I was very surprised to see Butler garner the #3 seed. I’m not really sure his resume supports it, but the 3/6 seed line is my favorite spot in a bracket so I’ll take the good break. With the way that Blaise wrestled down the stretch I’d look for him to cruise into the quarterfinals and probably make the semis as well where he might get a crack at Cornell’s Brian Realbuto. I don’t think he’s one of the two best wrestlers at this weight by any means but the bracket fell exceptionally favorably for him and I wouldn’t be completely shocked at a finals appearance if Butler is at his peak game. Somewhat more realistically though I’d say he’s likely to match Lewis with a semifinal appearance and top 6 finish with a chance at making the consolation final depending on who’s waiting for him in the wrestleback bracket whenever he drops down there.

BST - Yeah, #3 was too high for Butler, without question. Am I going to gripe about it, hell naw. I think Blaise can wrestle to that seed and his side of the bracket sets up well for a march to the Semis. Shaffe has it right on I think for a top 6 finish after a loss to Realbuto, and being a Sr. I believe Butler is gonna lay it all out there to finally capture an AA before hes done in college.

The Beef - We’ve got a few more to go and we move on to Willie Miklus, who did still end up with a national despite a tough injury/loss filled end to his season.  I think all of us BELIEVE Willie is trending up health-wise, but now is the time to lay the prediction down.  How does the early bracket line up for him?

BST - Miklus has an extremely interesting 2nd round match up looming against #3 seeded Vic Avery of Edinboro. Avery is only 13-1 on the season, so he missed a good chunk of time as well. The two have never met, which throws things even more up in the air. IF Willie is healthy and can take this match, he would most likely face #6 Stauffer of Arizona St, who beat Miklus at the NCAA's last year.

This bracket doesn't set up great overall for Miklus. We all know that he can tear up some wrestlebacks if he does drop to that side early, and maybe thats his best scenario for making another AA run.

Shaffe - I can’t complain too badly about where Miklus was seeded, but his draw does him no favors. I think he’s healthy enough and I know he’s skilled enough to get by his opening opponent but unless Avery gets upset I’m not sure Willie will last very long in the championship bracket. I think once he’s in the wrestleback bracket he’ll be able to navigate his way into that Friday evening round of 12 and he’ll have a good shot at repeating his freshman year All-American performance. However with what is likely to be an early trip into the meat grinder that is the wrestleback bracket it’s tough to project just who he’ll run into before he can break into that top 8 range. Mark me down as pleasantly surprised at, but not expecting, a repeat All-American year from Willie Miklus.

The Beef - And finally, most likely the best for last.  Can J’Den Cox navigate the bracket from the bottom, perhaps benefitting from the fact that Burak from Iowa somewhat inexplicably got a 4 seed and Pfaar from MN (who Cox beat this year 4-1) got a 3, even though Burak beat him recently?

Shaffe - He most definitely can. I’m expecting at a minimum for J’Den to make his way, likely fairly easily, to the semifinals of this bracket. The way that Cox has been wrestling these last few weeks I really don’t see Pfarr beating him either. Despite McIntosh getting the better of their last matchup I don’t really think anybody will stand in the way of Cox and his second national title this year.

BST, do you think Cox can live up to my lofty expectations?

BST - I agree. J'Den appears to be a man on a mission. 197 is a better overall weight class than it was when J'Den won it 2 years ago, but Cox is also a much superior wrestler than he was 2 years ago. He has stayed on the offense as much as anyone not named Nolf or I-Mar this year. I think Cox wins the title this year, and I think he gets extra team points in each of the first 3 matches as well.

The Beef - Finally, from a team standpoint, I believe all of us are in agreement that not only is Penn State likely to win, but it is not likely to be terribly close.  The battle for positions within the rest of the top 5 is likely to come down to a solid handful of schools (Iowa, Okie State, NC State, Va Tech, Ohio State, Mizzou, Cornell and maybe Illinois).  Certainly appears like Mizzou has a great shot to finish in the top-10, but is top-5 a bridge too far this year?

BST - If Mizzou gets a champ and 4 other AA's, I'd say that there is every reason to think a top 5 team finish is possible. As we've seen many times before, its all about getting those extra team points at every opportunity. Cox, Miklus, Lewis, etc. need to be looking for the pin in each match, and if its not there, cut your guy and get another TD. I don't think a top 10 team finish is a let down, but the expectation going in should be a top 5.

Shaffe - I’m not sure if Mizzou will actually finish in the top 5, but if they’re outside of it they won’t be very far back. I think we’ll see Penn State have the team title wrapped up before the finals begin and a moderately close grouping from second all the way down as far as seventh. One team that I wouldn’t sleep on is Nebraska, who has put together a very solid year and is taking all 10 wrestlers to NYC. They don’t have any champion caliber wrestlers but they may ride the quantity not quality approach that can sneak a team higher than one would expect.

As for Mizzou as a team I look for one finalist, possible champion (Cox). Two guys contending for a spot in the consolation finals (Lewis, Mayes). Two other guys easily making All-American status (Manley, Butler). And finally one surprise All-American breakthrough (McGhee/Miklus/Barnes). If all that does happen I agree with BST that Mizzou is quite likely to find themselves in the top 5 and possibly even matching last year’s 4th place performance. Not too shabby for a rebuilding/reloading year, eh?

BST - One more thing I thought of and wanted to ask you two. If you had to pick 1 Mizzou wrestler to exceed expectations, and 1 to fall short of them, what would your picks be?

Shaffe - I’d peg Barnes as likely to exceed his unseeded expectation. As for falling short of expectations I don’t see Butler finishing 3rd, but I think we all agree the expectation for him isn’t anywhere near 3rd place. Instead I’ll go with Matt Manley who has a pretty tough road just to make it to the quarterfinals for a 5 seed. A tough draw combined with any lingering leg issues could possibly see him in quite a struggle to break through to be an All-American.

The Beef - I too would have said Manley for most likely to fall short, simply because of the draw (in terms of how I perceive it) and potential for injury.  And I will say McGhee for exceeding expectations in being the one from that group who will work his way into an AA-status finish.

Welcome to the 2016 NCAA Wrestling championship tournament.

Here is the schedule for today's action:

12 - 4 p.m. (Eastern) First Session- Eight Mat Configuration, Pigtails and First-Round Competition

7 - 11 p.m. (Eastern) Second Session- Eight Mat Configuration, Wrestle-Back First Round. Champ Second Round, Consolation Round

You can follow all the action on ESPNU,   ESPN3, (where they will have all 8 mats available), or  TrackWrestling.

All brackets updated live HERE.

Beef, Shaffe, and BST will keep the individual standings, next match opponent, and group standings up to date here as well. So grab some drinks, snacks, and get ready for an awesome 3 days!

Wt. Wrestler Round 1 Result Round 2 Result Round 3 Opponent
125 #8 Barlow McGhee 3-2 W 3-1 L Bentley (Pitt)
133 Zach Synon 13-7 L 9-4 L ---
141 #5 Matt Manley 17-2 L 12-3 L ---
149 #3 Lavion Mayes 3-2 W 5-3 W #11 Collica (Ok St)
157 LeRoy Barnes 7-3 L 4-3 L ---
165 #4 Daniel Lewis Fall 5:39 5-1 W #12 Brennan (Rider)
174 #3 Blaise Butler 16-9 L 13-2 W Wolf (Leh)
184 #14 Willie Miklus 15-6 W 9-1 W #11 Thomas (Penn)
197 #2 J'Den Cox Fall 1:17 14-4 w #7 Harner (Prin)