NCAA Bracket Breakdown

With the release of the NCAA Wrestling Championships brackets, Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan discuss, debate, and breakdown their thoughts on what will go down next weekend. Last week when the NCAA Championship brackets were released, Ben Askren was traveling to London to watch UFC Fight Night 147. After an extremely busy visit in London, Askren had an 8-hour flight home to evaluate the brackets and seeding.

Supposed Seeding Criteria (1:16)

With so much to talk about Askren gives himself only 2 minutes to express his feelings on seeding choices by the committee as well as analyze what is wrong with the current process. Askren doesn’t appreciate that the seeding committee gives criteria that would define where a wrestler falls but then later neglects to stick to that criteria or applies it differently to different wrestlers. What upsets Dernlan, as well as the community at large, is the seeding committee not releasing the final RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) or Coaches panel. If the committee is stating that the RPI is used to influence their decisions, then they should be able to release the information. Then there would be an understanding from the community for their decisions. Another point Askren brings up is the importance of seeding. There is the argument that seeding doesn’t matter because the best wrestler will always come out on top, but Askren looks at this from a program perspective. Receiving an undeserved lower seed could cost a program a finalist, which is what promotes program growth.

Heavyweight 285 lbs (7:05)

Askren doesn’t have a problem with the seeding choices for the top wrestlers at heavyweight. For his semi-finals picks, Askren has Derek White vs Mason Parris with White the victor and Gable Steveson vs Anthony Cassar with Steveson winning. Then Askren has Steveson succeeding White in the finals. Dernlan has White beating Lehigh’s Jordan Wood in the top half semi-finals and Cassar beating Steveson on the other side. Overall he has Cassar getting the best of White in the finals. Askren didn’t realize Parris would have to compete against Conan Jennings in the quarterfinals, who he has already lost to 3 times this year.

197 lbs (12:48)

Dernlan has Bo Nickal vs Pat Brucki and Kollin Moore vs Preston Weigel in his semi-final matchups with Nickal and Weigel making it to the finals. Askren actually picked the same semi-finals but has Moore beating Weigel to put him up against Nickal for the third time this year. Overall, Askren and Dernlan agree neither Weigel or Moore has what it takes to get past Nickal for the NCAA Championship.

184 lbs (17:09)

At 184 lbs Askren and Dernlan, both have Maxwell Dean getting past Emery Parker to go against Myles Martin in the semi-finals of the top half. They also agree Martin will go on to beat Shakur Rasheed in the finals. Both had Zack Zavatsky making it to the semis but Dernlan says he almost went with Lou Deprez from Binghamton to beat him. With Dernlan’s history at Binghamton, it’s hard to pick against Deprez when the level of work he’s been putting in behind the scenes every day is apparent.

174 lbs (22:29)

In the semi-finals, Dernlan has Virginia Tech’s David McFadden facing off against Mark Hall, and Daniel Lewis vs Zahid Valencia. Dernlan quickly realizes this impossible with Mcfadden being the No. 6. He then changes his pick to Myles Amine vs Hall and Lewis vs Valencia. Both Askren and Dernlan have Lewis beating Valencia, but not having enough stamina to beat Hall in the finals.

165 lbs (27:28)

Bringing some controversial picks to the table, Askren says Evan Wick will beat Alex Marinelli in semis and then go on to succeed Vincenzo Joseph in finals. Dernlan goes with Marinelli beating Joseph in the finals. There is no doubt Marinelli’s path to the title will be very difficult. Askren and Dernlan agree Joe Smith will win the pigtail but, with limited recovery time, Smith’s past conditioning, and Marinelli’s riding style and pace, there is no doubt Smith will lose to the bull.

157 lbs (34:34)

This weight class gave Askren a hard time understanding how the committee decided to seed. Specifically, Ryan Deakin seeded at the No. 3 spot. Deakin beat No. 4 seed Alec Pantaleo 11-9 and then lost to Pantaleo 10-4 at Big Ten. He then went on to lose to No. 11 Steve Bleise 10-1 in the wrestle backs. Askren says this should put Pantaleo over Deakin. Overall, Jason Nolf shouldn’t have a problem beating either Deakin or Tyler Berger.

149 lbs (37:15)

At 149 lbs Askren predicts Anthony Ashnault vs Brock Mauller and Micah Jordan vs Austin O’Connor. He has Ashnault securing another victory over Jordan to become Rutgers first NCAA Champion. Dernlan also has Ashnault beating Mauller but has Jordan beating Campbell’s, No. 11 seeded Josh Heil. Dernlan then has Jordan upsetting Ashnault to bring a 149 lbs title to Ohio State.  

141 lbs (39:42)

Dernlan picks Yianni Diakomihalis to beat Jaydin Eirmann in the semis and Joey McKenna to beat Nick Lee in their semis. He then has Diakomihalis over McKenna. Askren picks another Badger to make it the finals with Tristan Moran going up against McKenna. He doesn’t see this as far fetched with one win and one loss to both Nick Lee and Mike Carr during the season. Askren also has Diakomihalis over McKenna in the finals.

133 lbs (41:05)

In the most anticipated weight class of the tournament, Askren picks Daton Fix vs Micky Phillippi and Nick Suriano vs Roman Bravo-Young. He thinks Fix avenges his only loss of the season to Phillippi and goes against Suriano in the finals. This means Askren has RBY beating Austin DeSanto 2nd round and Stevan Micic in the quarters. He believes RBY and Penn State have figured DeSanto out. He has also heard Micic is dealing with an injury and not nearly himself. Due to this injury rumor, Dernlan also picks RBY over Micic. Askren and Dernlan agree Suriano beats RBY but loses to Fix in the finals. Dernlan has Fix vs Montorie Bridges in the top half semifinals.

125 lbs (41:18)

This was a hard pick for Dernlan. Overall he believes Sebastian Rivera continues his dominance and beats Ronnie Bresser in the semis. He then has Spencer Lee losing to Nick Piccininni in their semis. He thinks Rivera gets it done against Piccininni in the finals. Askren has Patrick Glory beating Piccininni in the quarterfinals but losing to Lee in the semis. Then he has Rivera beating Lee in the finals.

Stay tuned for Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan going live on YouTube after every session of the NCAA Tournament. They will keep you up to date on all the action and excitement as well as their takeaways from Pittsburgh.


RUDIS Gear in this Episode Ben is wearing the RUDIS Wrestling Chance T-Shirt in Graphite/Blue:

Matt is wearing a USA Merit Men’s Cadet Soft Shell Jacket in Navy:

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Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan host the RUDIS Wrestling Podcast. Askren, World Champion, and Olympic Wrestler joins in official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from years of experience in D1 college coaching at Binghamton, Clarion, and Penn State University.

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