Okay, so I may have touched on this briefly before, but now is the moment of truth. Tommy and myself have made our predictions before on these sorts of match ups in the past. More often than not, with a beverage or two on the line. Off the top of my head, I believe we are 2-2 over the last couple years, with me winning our initial bet on the 2011 NCAA championships. My big picks that year were Quintin Wright winning the 184 pound championship after a disapointing regular season (I believe he was seeded 9th or so), and my love for the MAC had me pick Dustin Kilgore to win it all at 197. Those two, paired with my Robles pick (I couldn't pull the trigger on Bubba Jenkins, though I wanted to) and I had a delicious case of beverages to enjoy. Going 1-2 in the last three years has not been enjoyable, but I feel that this year will be where I turn things back around for the good guys. My understanding of how we are doing this is as follows. We pick each 10 weight classes, assigning points (1-10) based on our confidence in each wrester to win. The winner is the person with the most points in the end. Tie breaker is whoever had the most winners chosen, and the double tie breaker goes to first to get a takedown (I hope it's tied). With that being said, there have been some changes in the matches since my last predictions, so here we go.
125, Alan Waters (Missouri) vs. Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
This is going to be a bit of a change of pace from the last pick I made, but I am standing by it. I originally chose Joey Dance to get the upset over Nashon Garrett, but when I heard that Waters was going to be replacing Garrett, my whole approach to 125 changed. Admittedly, I forgot how much I enjoy watching Alan Waters wrestle, but I remember now, and I'm thinking about making him my National Champion pick. We'll have to see how this goes, but I believe that Waters has the speed to hang with Dance, and he is an incredible wrestler from the top position. My pick is Alan Waters with the win, and I honestly don't think it's going to be particularly close. I've got 4 points on Waters.
133, AJ Schopp (Edinboro) vs. Mason Beckman (Lehigh)
Despite Schopp losing to Beckman last year at the NWCA All Star Classic, I made the decision to stick with Schopp as my pick. Am I confident in it? Not as confident as I was before re-watching their match from last year, but I am still going with the number 1 ranked wrestler in the country. He's a monster on top and he will be looking for revenge from last year. My confidence isn't great, so he gets 3 points.
141, Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Mitchell Port (Edinboro)
For some reason people recently have started talking about the possibility of this upset taking place. Remember when Port wrestled Kendrick Maple? Maple won decisively for the NCAA title. Maple's next match was against Stieber (who was bumping up a weight for this event), and Stieber did what Stieber does, win matches. Every year we start thinking about who could beat some of the top dogs, and questioning their legitimacy. Every year we decide that people aren't as good as we remembered, then more often than not they remind us that they are just as good as we thought. I have more confidence in Stieber's ability to take care of business here than I can illustrate properly with words, so I'll do it with numbers. 10.
149, Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) vs. Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State)
My 1a pick last year for the National Champion (pre season at least) was Eric Grajales. My 1b prediction was Jason Tsirtsis. Had I stuck with those picks, I would have looked like a smart dude, but I didn't, and I once again look like someone who thinks they know what they are talking about. THAT'S WHY THEY WRESTLE THE MATCHES!!! Anyway, I'm looking forward to this rematch from last years finals. Kindig has badass wrestling shoes, but I believe Tsirtsis is the superior wrestler in all positions, and will demonstrate that by broadening the gap between Kindig. The big ten will be tough for Tsirtsis to get through without a blemish, but the Big Ten is going to be tough for anyone to get through without a blemish. He wins, and I'll put 7 on it.
157, James Green (Nebraska) vs. Ian Miller (Kent State)
Big Game James is James Worthy's nickname from the LA Lakers of the 80's, but I'm stealing it and giving it to my man James Green. I feel like this is going to be a special season, one where he is dominant from start to finish, and ends up with the National Championship that has eluded him throughout the years. He starts the year with a big win over the Miller, who should have his shot next year. James Green is going to approach each match like it's his last, which is why I've got 9 points for Big Game James.
165, Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State) vs. Nick Sulzer (Virginia)
This is going to be the match that wins or loses me this bet. I have a feeling that Tommy is going to pick Sulzer, which is certainly possible, but I am sticking with my faith in Dieringer. This may be newly developed faith, but it's growing, and I'm pretty confident in this choice. Remember, Dieringer won the NCAA championship in a weight class that included Derek St. John, James Green, Dylan Ness, Ian Miller. He only lost one match on the year, and dominated his way through the NCAA tournament. He is very good, and I think he will be out to prove that he should be considered amongst the elite wrestlers in the country. Lets go with an 6 for Die-Ringer.
174, Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) vs. Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon)
Ugh... I don't know. Kokesh is great, but I want to gowith the upset here. Gutches is good, and I think that he will show that, but Kokesh is better, and I know that Tommy will pick him. I want to go with the upset, but for the sake of winning, I am going with Nebraska going 2-0 at the event this year. I've got 5 points on this one.
184, Gabe Dean (Cornell) vs. Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
Lowell's finest will do what Lowell does, win wrestling matches and collect trophies. Another great matchup here for the NWCA pairing another number one and number two against each other. I just believe that Gabe Dean is one of those guys that combines talent with the willingness to work hard, and the intelligence to maximize everything he has. I don't know that Dechow doesn't have those combinations, but I do know that he lost to Dean last year, since then Dean has collected a bronze medal in his first ever international competition. Oh, and he beat Ed Ruth once. There is also that. 8 Points.
197, J'Den Cox (Missouri) vs. Scott Schiller (Minnesota)
My love for Minnesota wrestling can only go so far. It's strong, and my prediction to have them as the NCAA Champs this year remains intact, but J'Den follows me on twitter, so he's got my pick. Some might say, "But Kevin, J'Den won the NCAA championship last year as a freshman, isn't that what your pick is based on?" You would think so, but that carries much less weight than the excitement I had when I saw that he was following me on twitter. Not to diminish his wrestling skills and ability, I may have picked him even if he hadn't followed me, but we'll just never have the chance to know for sure now. J'Den get's this done. 2 points.
285, Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) vs. Mike McMullan (Northwestern)
The final NWCA All Star Classic matchup. #1 vs. #2 once more. To this point, I have stuck with the favorites in 1 vs 2 matches, but I'm flipping the script here. McMullan gets the upset over the number 1 wrestler in the country on his way to a great senior year. I only want Adam Coon or McMullan to win the title at heavyweight this year. Anyone else and it will be a dissapointment for me, so I'm jumping on the Big Ten Express to come away with another win here. 1 point, because that's the only number I had left.
Wish me luck.