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174 lb. NCAA Championship Preview

By Brenan Lyon , 03/13/17, 8:00PM EDT

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Photo: Tony Rotundo (www.wrestlersarewarriors.com)

Brenan  Lyon

Brenan Lyon

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#1 Zahid Valencia (ASU) – 33-0 [24 bonus wins]

  • PAC 12’s – 1st  | Midlands – 1st  | CKLV Invitational – 1st
  • Notable wins:
    • Zach Brunson (ILL) – twice
    • Ethan Ramos (UNC) – twice
    • Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU) – twice
    • Brian Realbuto (COR)
    • Myles Amine (UM)
    • Nick Wanzeck (MINN)

#2 Brian Realbuto (COR) – 23-1 [14 bonus wins]

  • EIWA’s – 1st | CKLV Invitational – 2nd
  • Only loss to Valencia (ASU) 2-1
  • Notable wins:
    • Ryan Preisch (LU) – twice
    • Bo Jordan (OSU)
    • Casey Kent (PENN)
    • Kyle Crutchmer (OSU)

#3 Bo Jordan (OSU) – 14-1 [10 bonus wins]

  • 2X All American
  • B1G’s – 1st
  • Lost to Realbuto (COR) 3-2
  • Notable wins:
    • Mark Hall (PSU)
    • Myles Amine (UM)
    • Alex Meyer (IOWA)

#4 Zach Epperly – 19-1 [10 bonus wins]

  • ACC’s – 1st
  • Lost to Ryan Preisch (LU) 3-1
  • Notable wins:
    • Ethan Ramos (UNC) – twice
    • Taylor Lujan (UNI)

Zahid Valencia is rightly the #1 seed coming into this tournament, not having surrendered a loss on the season, while besting the #2 seed earlier in the season.  Realbuto gets the nod as the two seed, having taken out Bo Jordan in their dual meet, 3-2.  We’ve seen Mark Hall of Penn State get better after every loss this season, and I believe that streak continues. 

A darkhorse outside of the top ten for me is Casey Kent of Penn. Kent worked his way back in the wrestle backs of the 2016 NCAA tournament to snag a fourth place finish as an unseeded wrestler.  Does he have the magic to do it again?  We shall see.

First round matchups:

  • Nick Reenan (NCST) vs. #4 Zach Epperly (VT)
    • Epperly won their first matchup 5-3, but Reenan was right there, nearly pancaking the fourth seed Epperly.  I like Epperly in this bout, but definitely a match and a wrestler (Reenan) to keep your eye on.
  • Jordan Pagano (RUT) vs. #6 Ryan Preisch (LU)
    • Pagano won this match in their dual 10-4, can he make it two in a row against the sixth seed?

Second round matchups:

  • #9 Myles Amine (UM) vs. #8 Ethan Ramos (UNC)
    • Amne has been on a tear as of late, while placing third at B1G’s.  I like him to keep it going against the former NCAA Championships semi-finalist.

Quarter-final matchups:

  • #1 Valencia (ASU) vs. #9 Amine (UM)
    • I think this ends up being a closer match than most fans expect.  Don’t forget, Amine and Valencia battle earlier this year at the CKLV Invitational, with Valencia edging Amine 4-3.  I like the Sun Devil to reach his first national semifinal.
  • #5 Hall (PSU) vs. #4 Epperly (VT)
    • Epperly’s positioning and top work might cause fits for Hall, but as we saw at B1G’s, Hall can takedown just about anyone, I.e. Bo Jordan. 
  • #3 Jordan (OSU) vs. #6 Preisch (LU)
  • #7 Crutchmer (OSU) vs. #2 Realbuto (COR)
    • If we see the Crutmcher that we saw last year, this could very well be an upset for the Cowboy.  He did beat Realbuto at the Southern Scuffle last year 4-3…  However, Realbuto won their only matchup this year, and I like the Big Red wrestler to stamp his ticket to the semis.

Semifinal matchups:

  • #1 Valencia (ASU) vs. #5 Hall (PSU)
    • I think this is a close match, but Hall is able to pull away in the third period against the freshman from Cali.
  • #3 Jordan (OSU) vs. #2 Realbuto (COR)
    • We saw a different Bo Jordan at the B1G’s than what we saw in their past dual.  Jordan avenges his only loss on the season.

Finals:

  • #5 Hall (PSU) vs. #3 Jordan (OSU)
    • Hall, Bo-Jo 2.0.  This is as exciting of a match as their B1G finals, but I think Cael preps the true freshman phenom to hold on to this match.  I don’t think Hall’s getting reversed on top and his takedowns and scrambling prove to be the difference in the match. 

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