Brian Finley's NCAA Preview/Predictions

The Iowa Hawkeyes are in St Louis this week at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Check out what Brian Finley thinks is going to happen, with previews and predictions for all nine Hawkeye competitors at the tournament.

125 - #5 seed Falck found himself in a pretty favorable slice of the bracket.  In his half, he'll likely have to get through #12 Anthony Robles of Arizona State, #4 Brandon Precin of Northwestern, and Paul Donahoe.  He avoids some tough names like Angel Escobedo, Troy Nickerson, and Zach Sanders.   Donahoe transferred from Nebraska after some naughty photos surfaced, now he's the #1 seed, undefeated out of Edinboro.

Prediction: Charlie finishing #2 or #3.  I think he'll be able to beat Donahoe or Escobedo (who is the other wrestler I have in the finals) but not both. 

133 - Dennis's draw looks a lot like Charlie's, out of the #4 spot.  He's got a rough first match against Chris Notte of Okie State, who he beat by only one earlier in this year.  In his half of the bracket, the only extremely stressful player would be Franklin Gomez, who he wouldn't see until the semis.  He avoids Jimmy Kennedy, Jayson Ness, Nick Fanthorpe, and Reece Humphrey, who are all in the bottom half of the bracket.

Prediction: Dennis will have a tough first match, but assuming he makes it through, he should be able to get on a roll heading into the semifinals, likely against Gomez of Michigan State.  I think that match is more dangerous for Dennis than Humphrey, Kennedy, or Ness, the other three I could see heading to the finals out of the lower half of the bracket.  If he beats Gomez, which I think he will, he'll snag a title.

141 - It seems like a broken record, but the top half of the bracket seems to be a little nicer than the bottom half.  Tsirtsis won't see a seeded wrestler until the quarterfinals, and even then it will be at best the #5 seed Marcus Hoehn of Missouri, most likely.  Tsirtsis will have a chance to get into his offense, which will be the key.  If he's winning his first few matches by 1 or 2 points, it's going to be a rough ride.  Tsirtsis will be wrestling a lot of guys he hasn't seen much of this year, and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Prediction: I have Tsirtsis wrestling in the third place match, likely against a Nick Gallick/Chris Drouin type.  If he can keep his head on straight, he'll win that match.

149 - There is only one wrestler in the field at 149 that Metcalf hasn't scored bonus points on this year, and that's the #11 seed Steven Brown.  Coincidentally, he's also the last person to score a takedown.  This bracket looks a lot like last year, with Metcalf at the top along with Palmer of OSU, and Jenkins of PSU and Caldwell of NC State as the top seeds in the bottom half.  Last year, Caldwell collapsed late against Jenkins in the semifinals.  I think things will break down pretty similarly to last year, except I have Caldwell beating Jenkins, giving the fans something new to watch.  Remember, Caldwell  is the only person to have scored an official collegiate victory over Brent Metcalf.  Metcalf avenged the loss with a tech fall at the All-Star meet, but that isn't counted toward official NCAA titles.

Prediction: Metcalf with the title, again. I just hope it's not another destruction of Jenkins 

165 - Morningstar has only lost to one wrestler in his half of the bracket, that being #2-seed Andrew Howe of Wisconsin.  I think Morningstar has the ability to defeat Howe, as he's shown by taking him into double overtime twice this season.  It's just a matter of getting in on that shot and finishing it inbounds and with time left on the clock.  If he can do that, I think Morningstar has a shot at winning a national title at one of the weakest weights in the country.  I feel a little shocked saying that, but I just 'have a feeling'. 

Prediction: I'll go out on the limb there and give Morningstar the title. It's as good a guess as any, I suppose.

174 - Borschel, like most Hawks in the top half of the bracket, drew a pretty nice run.  His opponent in the first dual meet has wrestled a staggering 51 matches this year, compared to Jay's 30.  No clue how that's possible, but we'll go with it.  The big tests for Jay are going to come from Raymond Jordan in the quarterfinals, and the big dog, Steve Luke in the semifinals.  The two have not met this year, in collegiate competition, but they met at the All-Star meet. Luke won 3-2. 

Prediction: I think Jay gets to Luke and has a toss-up match, putting himself into the finals agains, in my opinion, Brandon Browne of Nebraska.  Jay lost a close decision, 5-4 against Browne at National Duals.  Jay came up big late in the tournament both at Big Tens and NCAAs last year, I think he gets it done this year.  No potted-plant third place trophy for Borschel, he's going home with the bracket.

184 - Keddy snagged the #2 seed away from mike Pucillo with a win at Big Tens.  They're on a collison course again, likely in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, with the winner facing Jake Herbert, again. 

Prediction: I think it'll go down exactly the same way as Big Tens, with Keddy scoring a close win, but Herbert is just too much for anyone to handle at this point, which is disappointing, because Keddy seems to be as close as anyone's been this year.

197 - This is probably the toughest to predict.  Beatty gets a seeded wrestler right out of the gate, with #8 Clayton Foster from Oklahoma State.  If he gets past him, I could see Beatty making it out to the quarterfinals, but will probably drop back down to the consolations after that. 

Prediction: I think Beatty will make All-American, which considering the injuries he's had bugging him all year and re-occuring at Big Tens, is a great step for him.  Hopefully a healthy senior season is on the horizon for Chad.  I have him winning the fifth place match.  Beatty's conditioning is going to be tested here, as he'll be wrestling a ton of matches this weekend.

285 - Dan Erekson wrestled to seed, winning a Big Ten title, which was only good enough for a #7 seed in the national tournament.  When was the last time that happened?  He'll have a rough quarterfinal match against Mark Ellis of Missouri.  I think his style of wrestling will be helpful though.  Ellis hasn't scored more than 6 points in a match since December, and Erekson's definitely more offensive-minded than most of his opponents. 

Prediction: I could see him getting past Ellis.  From there it's a toss-up.  I think he'll eventually drop to the consolations, taking third place, maybe even against David Zabriskie, if things roll right.

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