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NCAA Sleepers 165-285

VMI’s Neal Richards will be one of the very dangerous off the radar guys looking to make noise in Pittsburgh.

VMI’s Neal Richards will be one of the very dangerous off the radar guys looking to make noise in Pittsburgh.

Sorry that first article was getting long, so I have broken it up. Let’s keep rolling.

165: #20 Tyler Marinelli (Gardner-Webb)

The 5th year senior won his second SOCON title in a row. Last year, he dropped down to 157 but came back up this year and has posted a 26-2 record. He is originally from Georgia, and history tells us that these southern guys usually take a little bit longer to make a splash, but it doesn’t mean they can’t reach a high level. Also, the draw puts him potentially wrestling #4 Evan Wick (Wisconsin) if he can get by #13 Fogarty (North Dakota State). Last year, Wick was putting up a ton of points but didn’t look the same down the stretch and at the Big Ten tournament.

Other potential surprises: #9 Demetrius Romero (Utah Valley) is the real deal. This is such a tough and deep weight class, but don’t discount him. #17 Jonathan Viruet (Brown) had a tough EIWA tournament, but is very good and very dangerous.

174: #17 Neal Richards (Virginia Military Institute)

Richards is a 4th year Junior out of Virginia who was 190-7 in high school. He was 25-8 as a true sophomore, but missed out on an at-large bid. After a redshirt year, Richards lost three times at Hokie Open in November. Since then, his only loss is a 5-0 defeat to #1 Mark Hall (Penn State) giving the Keydet a 26-4 record on the season. He also was awarded SOCON Most Outstanding Wrestler. The #17 seed isn’t the best draw, but expect Richards to make some noise in this tournament.

Other potential surprises: #16 Brandon Womack (Cornell) was an All-American two years ago at 165, which makes him one of the rare Alabama natives to accomplish the feat. He has had some up and down results, but there’s something to be said for a guy who has done it before. #11 Dylan Lydy (Purdue) has been overshadowed in the Big Ten, but don’t be surprised to see him on the podium, maybe even top six.

184: #13 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh)

Something for the home town fans to get pumped for, the redshirt freshman is a blue chip recruit with no bad losses on the year. Intermat even has him ranked 8th so maybe the 13 seed is a value bet here. There really are no great draws here, but a 2nd round match with #4 Emery Parker (Illinois) could be interesting. Maybe Parker will have some butterflies after falling in the first round last year.

Other potential surprises: The top 9 seeds are very tough, but #11 Lou Deprez (Binghamton) is another tough freshman. Plus, that will give Billy Baldwin to whistle about if he makes a deep run. Also, with Oklahoma State’s late lineup shuffle, Dakota Geer is all the way down at #26.

197: #12 Rocco Caywood (Army)

Caywood stumbled at the EIWA’s to 7th, which really hurt him in the seeding process. The senior had a really good season up to that point and is a difficult opponent. If it was just a bad tournament and not a health issue, Caywood should make noise in Pittsburgh. He is a Toledo native who was a state champion for Perrysburg High School and their quarterback.

Other potential surprises: #18 Jake Woodley (Oklahoma) is a freshman blue chip recruit who had a rough start to the season, but has come on strong down the stretch. He beat #16 Josh Hokit (Fresno State) for 3rd at the Big 12 tournament. Hokit was getting carries in December as a running back before having a good season. His Big 12 4th place finish knocked him down from potentially a top 12 seed. Both of these guys will be dangerous match-ups.

285: #20 Zach Elam (Missouri)

Elam is a blue chip recruit who looked to be a top ten guy when he battled all the way back to 3rd at the CKLV after losing in the second round. Turns out though, odd losses would continue throughout the season including a MAC semifinal upset to #30 McKiernan (SIUE). Elam finds himself matched up #13 Voss (George Mason), and the winner will face the winner of #29 Stoll (Iowa) and #4 Wood (Lehigh). Stoll could pull that off and the agile Elam would be a bad match-up for him. After that he would face the winner of the #5 Parris (Michigan) and #12 Jennings (Northwestern) debacle. So Elam could be in the semis without having to beat a top ten guy with this mess. However, Elam does have the talent to beat top ten guys anyways. He’s definitely value at #20.

Other potential surprises: #15 Tate Orndorff (Utah Valley) was on the Greco world team last year. He has some good wins this year as a older (Mormon Mission) freshman.