March Matness is finally here.
Session I: Begins Thursday, March 16th, at 11 a.m. on ESPNU & WatchESPN
Session II: Begins Thursday, March 16th, at 6 p.m. on ESPN & WatchESPN
Session III (Quarterfinals): Begins Friday, March 17th, at 10 a.m. on ESPNU & WatchESPN
Session IV (Semifinals): Begins Friday, March 17th, at 7 p.m. on ESPN & WatchESPN
Session V (Medal Rounds): Begins Saturday, March 18th, at 10 a.m. on ESPN & WatchESPN
Session VI (Finals): Begins Saturday, March 18th, at 7 p.m. on ESPN & WatchESPN
Day 1 Weight-By-Weight Breakdown
Hall earned the #13 seed and opens the tournament against US Pat D’Arcy of Princeton (16-14, unranked in the Coaches Panel) in a match where he’ll be the heavy favorite. Assuming he wins that he gets the winner of US Connor Schram of Stanford (14-4, #20 in the coaches panel) or #4 seed Cory Clark of Iowa (15-3, #4 in the coaches panel) in the second round. Hall has wrestled Clark multiple times over his career and the script has almost always been a close match through the first two periods with Clark pulling away in the third. Clark has been hampered by a shoulder injury for much of this season, including missing the Cy-Hawk dual in December, but looked to be back on form at Big Tens. So the big question will be whether his conditioning will be back for yet another dominant third period. A win isn’t out of the question but most likely this will be the point where Hall gets sent to the Friday morning wrestlebacks.
If Hall pulls a Hall against D’Arcy then he’ll have the loser of the Schram/Clark match in the first round of consolations on Thursday evening. Hall would be favored against Schram but has lost several matches this season to wrestlers of a lower caliber so if Hall is wrestling poorly he could easily see his season end with an 0-2 performance.
Best Case: 2-0 and in to Friday’s quarterfinals
Most Likely: 1-1 and facing a rematch with Rico Montoya in the consolations on Friday morning to stay alive.
Weatherspoon earned the #14 seed and will open up against US Peter Galli of Stanford (26-6, 22 in the coaches panel). Galli is a solid wrestler and Spoon will only be a slight favorite. However, Lelund has always performed well when the lights are bright so look for him to start off his tournament strong with a convincing win. That win would set up a second round matchup with #3 seed Bo Jordan of Ohio State (14-1, #3 in the Coaches Panel). Lelund will be a heavy underdog in that match and short of another performance like he had in the first round last year to defeat the #2 seed he too will likely end the day by being sent down to the wrestlebacks.
If Weatherspoon gets upset by Galli in the first round he’d likeky have US Josef Johnson of Harvard (29-11, #30 in the Coaches Panel) in the first round of wrestlebacks on Thursday evening. He’d be a heavy favorite in that match.
Best Case: 2-0 choo-choo mother fucker in to Friday’s quarterfinals.
Most Likely: 1-1 and facing US Ryan Christensen of Wisconsin in the consolations on Friday morning.
Marcus Harrington is unseeded and drew the Big XII champion, #6 seeded Preston Weigel of Oklahoma State (18-5, #6 in the Coaches Panel) for his opening match. Anything can happen in March but an upset here is pretty unlikely. A loss will send Harrington to a consolation match against (likely) US Benjamin Honis of Cornell (27-13. #24 in the Coaches Panel). This is a much more winnable match - Harrington has beaten wrestlers of similar or better caliber before. But he’ll still be an underdog and will need an upset to avoid going 0-2 in his first NCAA appearance.
Best Case: 1-1 and alive in to Friday.
Most Likely: 0-2 and hitting the buffet line.
It’s tough to get excited about upside given how this season has played out but Hall and Weatherspoon both have realistic paths for a return to the AA podium. And Harrington has a legitimate chance at scoring a point or two to gain some confidence going in to next year. It would be nice to see these three guys end the season with a bang but even if they don’t hope is just over the horizon with the arrival of a new coaching staff and some key recruits coming out of redshirt next season.
We’ll have a preview up for Friday’s matchups up sometime late tonight or tomorrow morning before Session III kicks off. Including an update on everyone’s fantasy pool scores.