They're here to mess things up. If I may boast for a second, my bracket buster article last year was actually quite viable. I even had Bryce Meredith featured, who ended up in the NCAA final. That makes me feel better after coming off an awful set of Big Ten picks.
Every year there are guys who aren't top seeds making deep runs, and it's really fun to try to predict who they will be.
Conor Youtsey (Michigan)
- Picking a two-time All-American is low hanging fruit, but worth noting. Youtsey came off the sofa when Michigan had no one healthy at 125 in mid-January. Now Joey Dance potentially has him as his second round opponent, the same round he was upset last year by Terao (American), and Youtsey was the guy who beat him in the Bloodround in 2015. Dance & Youtsey also seriously had a match of the season candidate during the 2016 National Duals 9-8 go to Dance in second series of rideouts. This is a recipe of horror for Va Tech fans who really hope to not see another poor NCAA final possibly failing to reach the podium for three straight tournaments despite being seeded 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd.
123 Freddie Rodriguez (SIUE)
- Another Michigan prep and the first guy to make this list twice, the 2-time SOCON champ appears to be back on track after some head scratching losses mid-season. He was a huge recruit out of high school that took a detour that found him winning a JUCO title before landing in Edwardsville. While not wanting to repeat myself, I am forced to with his 14-seed draw when the injured Suriano (Penn State) is the 3-seed. A couple wins could have him facing off with the winner of a couple unpredictables, Lizak (Minnesota) and Terao (American). It's a plausible road to the semi-finals.
133 Bryan Lantry (Buffalo)
- Lantry lost in overtime in the MAC finals, but has quietly put together a really solid sophomore season leading to the 11-seed. The 6-seed is Forys (Pittsburgh) who missed the Midlands and the rest of the ACC competition at 133 wasn't very impressive. I wouldn't be surprised to see Lantry making an odd run even thinking that Brock (Oklahoma State) has to survive the unpredictable McKee (Minnesota) to make that quarterfinal.
157 Bryant "BJ" Clagon (Rider)
- He finished 5th at 149 in 2015 and is now an unseeded Redshirt Junior. Intermat has him ranked 12th in the country though, meaning there are people out there considering the EWL Champ without a seed is certainly a snub. Clagon is largely unseeded because of a disastrous Midlands (and tournament portion of his schedule) but hasn't lost since the Midlands! He is 22-5 and looks to get back on the podium.
165 Johnny Sebastian (Northwestern)
- Two years ago, Sebastian placed at the Midlands as a true freshman but after some injuries a lot of people expected this to be his year. He started off the year strong at 174, but then dropped down to 165 and struggled. He ended up unseeded facing Imar (Illinois) in the first round leading to an electric and combative match that ended 24-13. He battled back for 7th and a birth to St Louis. He draws Walsh (Rider) who has had a really good year, but if Sebastian is finally healthy and adjusted to the weight he could be a surprise on the front and back sides of the brackets with a podium finish.
174 Casey Kent (Penn)
- Kent was unseeded last year and upset Epperly (Virginia Tech) in the first round and lost his second round match to Rogers (Oklahoma State). Kent & Epperly would wrestle for third five matches later. That's a lot of experience for this 13-seed and a big trap for Mark Hall (Penn State) in just his second ever match at the NCAA's.
285 Jere Heino (Campbell)
- The big man from Finland has taken some losses this year, but the SOCON actually boasts some solid heavyweights. Heino doesn't have a great draw with Schafer (Oklahoma State), but even if he doesn't pull off the first round upset he'll be a very tough out on the backside. With the dropoff at 285 this year, Heino is a legit candidate to make the podium even without a seed.