Beautiful Indiana University will be playing host to the 2017 Big Ten Wrestling Championships this Saturday and Sunday. The pre-seeds have been released and of course the brackets will not be finalized until at least Friday night. This gives media and fans plenty of time to debate over who is going to make a splash at Assembly Hall Saturday night.
Every tournament in the world has favorites, this one is no different. I personally will be making my perfect picks made public tomorrow in a different article. I have picked two bracket busters in each weight class that could cause some chaos. What would March be without somebody making a run at a post season tournament? March Madness goes beyond just basketball, and it gets proven a B1G's and NCAA's every year.
Ethan Lizak (Minnesota): He blew one a huge opportunity against Gilman in their dual when he was "gassed from bottom" as some people would say. Lizak comes in as the 4 seed and could run into #VillanGilman in the semis.
Connor Youtsey (Michigan): One of my first Bloodround articles was a warning to all the 125lbers. That warning simply stated that Connor Youtsey steps up come tournament time, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do it again.
Zane Richards (Illinois): I'm sure you might be laughing right now. How can a 4 seed be a dark horse? Well when you have NCAA Champion Nathan Tomasello on your side of the bracket, you have to be a bracket buster to get through to the final. I like Richards because he is always game, and can give anyone in the country a hard time.
Stevan Micic (Michigan): The second Michigan dark horse in as many weight classes? I must be listening to the podcast too much. The 3 time Indiana state champion has already made waves on the freestyle circuit, and has had some big wins already this season. What would be a great way to announce yourself to the average fan other than making the NCAA finals? Making the B1G finals of course.
Luke Pletcher (Ohio State): Luke Pletcher, or as he's known in Indiana "The kid that Chad Red choked out with a cradle." Is probably wrestling in a weight class a little higher than he would have liked, but is having a good freshman season none the less. Could the 5 seed pull a few upsets here and there? We all know Ohio State's track record with true freshman.
Topher Carton (Iowa): Just going to go on record and say that, I think Topher is a cool name. I don't know why I think that, but it's just like my opinion man. Carton has wrestled everyone tough in this weight class, and to boot, he is on the bottom side of the bracket as the 6 seed. He'll have to run through Thorn in the Quarters and then Gulibon in the Semis, its an uphill battle, but totally doable.
Micah Jordan (Ohio State): You know you are in a tough weight whenever you are the 3 seed and are being talked about like a massive underdog. That's because of a couple of reasons really. 1. He gave up a tech fall to the Zain Train. 2. Got ridden out and couldnt get anything going on his feet vs Sorensen. It's going to take a big performance for the Buckeye to get to the final, let alone win. But that's what makes this tournament so darn exciting.
Andrew Crone (Wisconsin): Before Jordan can take his shot in the semis vs Sorensen, he will have to take on a very game Andrew Crone from Wisconsin. Crone is a guy that does a lot well and suffer a bit from being in a very tough weight.
TJ Ruschell (Wisconsin): Ruschell comes in as a major underdog, as does the rest of the field. The seeding didn't do him any favors as he may have to take on #1 Jason Nolf of Penn State in the Quarterfinals. If there ever was an opportunity, this would be the time to do it.
Jake Ryan (Ohio State): Jake Ryan, son of Head Coach Tom Ryan has quietly put on some good performances and some not so good performances. After finishing 6th at last years B1G tournament, Ryan looks to make some noise as the 11 seed.
Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State): This Penn State Nittany Lion comes in seeded 4th for this weekends festivities. That of course puts him on the same side as 2 time defending NCAA Champion Isaiah Martinez of Illinois. What a great opportunity for Joseph to try and give Martinez a second loss to a Penn State wrestler in his career. Under the lights of the semis, anything can happen.
Drew Hughes (Michigan State): Drew Hughes might be the toughest dude on top in the country, and he's only a true freshman. The Lowell, Indiana native will try and upset Isaiah Martinez before Vincenzo Joseph gets the chance in the semi's. Folks, this would be madness at its highest form.
Alex Meyer (Iowa): Alex Meyer showed what Carver Hawkeye Arena was all about when he spoiled wonder-kid Mark Hall's debut in a PSU singlet. In that match Meyer showed the Iowa grit and determination he will need to bust this bracket coming in as a number 5 seed. He could possibly see Bo Jordan in a very interesting semi final that would more than likely set up a rematch vs Mark Hall in the finals.
Jacob Morrissey (Purdue): This Boilermaker has put on some very impressive performances in this very wide open weight class. Morrissey comes in as the 7 seed, and will more than likely face off with Mark Hall in Saturday mornings first session. Morrissey is tough enough to put the Junior World Champion Hall on upset alert a little earlier than many think.
TJ Dudley (Nebraska): Okay, I know how silly this sounds. But this weight is ridiculous. TJ is going to have to wrestle lights out like he did at last years NCAA tournament to have a shot at upsetting the powerhouse that is Bo Nickal of Penn State. He will have to beat returning NCAA champ Myles Martin in the Quarters just to even get a shot at Nickal.
Myles Martin (Ohio State): Myles Martin is on the same side as TJ Dudley and Bo Nickal, like I said above, ridiculous. Martin is the NCAA champ for a reason, he turned it on last March. And if the B1G ten has taught us anything over the years, it's anyone can beat anyone and then lose to someone else any day of the week. Martin is a dark horse simply because he has such a tough road to even make the final, let alone win.
Matt McCutcheon (Penn State): This guy is ready to his part to make sure the Nittany Lions leave the Hoosier State as B1G Champions. What would seal the deal? A win over #1 seed Brett Pfarr in the semi finals. The Sanderson magic may do its thing here Saturday night.
Ricky Robertson (Wisconsin): "On Wisconsin" as they say in Wisconsin (I think) Ricky Robertson, or as I call him "Double R" could also be that dude, and spoil Brett Pfarr's championship hopes if he can get by McCutcheon in the Quarters. All of them want to be on the opposite side of J'Den Cox in St. Louis, beating Pfarr would be how to accomplish that.
Collin Jensen (Nebraska): What if a 5th seeded Husker, put the Olympic Champion, Kyle Snyder to his back and pinned him? I don't think Assembly Hall could handle the explosion of minds that would take place in that (unlikely) scenario.
Brooks Black (Illinois): Brooks Black seems like a guy that's been around forever. He's seasoned, tough, and could possibly set himself up for a finals run if he can best Nick Nevills of Penn State in the Quarterfinals. This could be the coming out party Black has been waiting for, but the defending World and Olympic Champion will most likely be waiting for him in the finals.
This weekend is going to be incredible.
Follow me on twitter @airearly for thoughts, videos, and live reactions about this weekend. And if you're lucky, maybe some videos of Tommy and Kevin singing karaoke.