Penn State NCAA Wrestling Bracket Reactions

Penn State NCAA Wrestling Bracket Reactions

The Penn State Wrestling program has won nine NCAA team championships since Cael Sanderson took over the program in the 2009-2010 season and they are the favorites to win their 10th in the Cael Sanderson era this year. More on Penn State’s ascent under Coach Sanderson is available here, but for now, all eyes are on this year’s NCAA bracket.

Full NCAA bracket

Complete NCAA brackets are available here.

Penn State’s NCAA Tournament Draws

RBY is looking for his third straight NCAA title. His dominance over the past three seasons suggests he will be a heavy favorite to make the finals at the top of the group. He will see either NDSU’s McGwire Midkiff or American’s Jack Maida in his opener followed by Rutgers’ Joe Heilmann or UNI’s Kyle Biscoglia in the second round.

Bravo-Young’s quarterfinal matchup will likely be against either No. 8 Aaron Nagao of Minnesota or No. 9 Micky Phillippi of Pitt. RBY is 1-0 against both opponents. He defeated Phillippi 4-3 in the 2019 NCAA to earn his first All-American honor and beat Nagao 5-2 just last week in the Big Ten finals. Notably, Nagao passed RBY for the entire third period.

Roman’s semifinal opponent will be either No. 4 2-time All-American Michael McGee of Arizona State or No. 5 ACC champion Kai Orine of NC State. RBY has yet to face Orine, but beat McGee 6-2 in a dual in December last season.

Most wrestling fans expect No. 2 seed Daton Fix of Oklahoma State to come out of the bottom half of the bracket, though No. 3 seed Vito Arujau of Cornell is certainly scary. RBY is 2-0 against Fix in their collegiate career, and both previous meetings came in the NCAA finals. Roman won a 4-2 overtime match in 2021 and a 3-2 decision the year before.

RBY: Straight Outta Tucson tells the fascinating story of RBY’s upbringing and how he used wrestling excellence to overcome adversity.

Bartlett’s second trip to the NCAA Championships begins against Shannon Hanna. If he beats Campbell Cammel, he’ll see either SDSU All-American Clay Carlson or Lehigh’s Malyke Hines.

Based on the seeds, Bartlett could expect to see Pitt’s No. 3 Cole Matthews, the top returning All-American at this weight. This would be the first collegiate meeting between the two. While Bartlett is not set to win that match, it is possible and could set up a semifinal with No. 2 Andrew Alirez. The Northern Colorado star is undefeated on the season with a 74% bonus rate.

If Bartlett drops his quarterfinal to No. 3 Matthews, his most likely No. 12 seed opponent would be the loser of the second-round matchup between No. 8 Allan Hart and No. 9 Mosha Schwartz, who, like Matthews, are unfamiliar opponents for Beau. The PSU 141-pounder has several paths to All-American honors, and while none of them are easy, he’s certainly capable.

Redshirt freshman Shayne Van Ness begins his tournament with a familiar opponent in CMU’s Johnny Lovett. Van Ness won their first meeting by decision 5-3 and they are second in the fall. The road gets tougher in the second round as another highly touted freshman, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Henson, is expected to be his opponent. Coming out of high school, Van Ness probably would have been the favorite here, but Henson’s excellence this season has earned him the No. 4 title.

If Van Ness gets past Henson, he could see another tough underclassman in No. 5 Iowa State prospect Paniro Johnson. These two met at the Collegiate Duals in a match Johnson won 3-2. The semifinal opponent for the survivor is almost certain to be 3x NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis.

If Shayne falls to Henson, his path to All-American honors is seeded to include No. 12 seed Doug Zapf of Penn followed by No. 7 seed Yahya Thomas of Northwestern. If he falls to Johnson, he’ll be set to see either No. 10 Jaden Abas of Stanford or No. 15 Austin Gomez of Wisconsin. Van Ness will have to overcome the odds to reach the podium this season.

True freshman Haines stepped up well winning the Big 10s. He will be heavily favored in the first round against Lock Haven’s Ashton Eyler and against Wyoming’s Jacob Wright or Indiana’s Derek Gilcher in the second round.

Haines’ potential quarterfinal against VT’s Bryce Andonian is one of the most interesting potential quarterfinals of the tournament stylistically. Andonian’s wild, flying style presents challenges for many opponents, but he has yet to face Haines in competition. Circle that match as high priority to watch. If Haines contends for first, he will have No. 2 seed Peyton Robb in the semifinals in a rematch of the Big Ten finals. Austin O’Connor is the top seed at this weight.

Freshman Facundo is the favorite against a tough Holden Heller of Pitt in the first round, but would be an underdog against No. 4 seed Julian Ramirez of Cornell in the second round. Ramirez has put together a nice season that includes two wins over NCAA finalist Quincy on Monday. If Facundo survives his match with Ramirez, he will be set to see the No. 5 seed Monday in the quarterfinals, followed by top NCAA champion David Carr in the finals.

If Facundo loses out to Ramirez, his path on the back end could include NIU’s Izzak Olejnik, followed by No. 7 Michael Caliendo of NDSU. If he beats Ramirez but loses on Monday, he will be set to see either Carson Kharchla or Justin McCoy in the blood stream.

While Carter Starocci will be the favorite to win his third straight NCAA title, he could have some interesting matchups along the way. He could see familiar foe Donnell Washington in the second round. Washington beat Starocci in Starocci’s first season, but Starocci put bonus points on Washington this year.

Starocci is seeded to see either Bailee O’Reilly of Minnesota or Edmond Ruth of Illinois in the quarterfinals followed by No. 4 seed Chris Foca or No. 5 Dustin Plott of Oklahoma State in the semifinals. He has yet to see Plott, but has two wins over Focas. When they met in 2020, Starocci won 10-3, but their 2022 match was a one-point decision.

The top two seeds on the bottom side of the bracket are Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola, Starocci’s Big Ten Finals opponent, and Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis, his 2022 NCAA Finals opponent.

It’s strange to see 2x NCAA champion Aaron Brooks ranked third, but he, Keckeisen, Hidlay and Munoz all have one loss. Brooks’ tour starts with Chattanooga’s Matthew Waddell. Next he would see Jacob Nolan or Will Feldkamp. His quarterfinalist will be Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero, who graduated to the NCAAs last year and the Big Tens this year.

If Brooks survived all that, he would have been seeded to fight NC State’s Trent Hidlay, who he has battled in close matches at the last two NCAA Championships. Brooks won a 3-2 decision in 2021 and a 6-4 upset victory a year ago. The top seed at 184 lbs is UNI’s Parker Keckeisen, who Brooks has defeated numerous times during his NCAA and high school career.

197 lbs – Max Dean, #9 Seed

2022 NCAA champion Max Dean is sitting at No. 9 with a tough path through the bracket. After a match with Campbell’s Levi Hopkins, he is set to see Nebraska’s Silas Allred, who defeated him in the Big Ten finals. If Dean can crack the Allred code, he could see starter Nino Bonaccorsi, whom he defeated 6-0 at the 2019 NCAA Championships at 184 pounds. Since then, Bonaccorsi has reached one NCAA final.

If Dean is still struggling on the front end after the quarters, he will be set to face either Ethan Laird or Michael Beard in the semis. Both opponents beat Dean earlier this season.

If Dean falls in the second round to Allred, he will, according to the seeds, have to navigate NDSU’s Owen Pentz and then NC State’s Isaac Trumble. Dean has yet to face either opponent. If he falls in the quarterfinals to Bonaccorsi, he will be set to fight either Jaxon Smith or Jacob Warner in the blood stream.

Heavyweight Penn State has a favorable spot in the bracket. He will be heavily favored in the first two rounds, then set to see Yaraslau Slavikouski or Trent Hillger in the quarterfinals. He has not faced Slavikouski but is 2-0 against Hillger.

In the semifinals, Kerkvliet is set to fight an unknown opponent in No. 2 Wyatt Hendrickson. The Air Force big man is a clutch machine, but Kerkvliet is probably the favorite in that matchup. If he wins in the semifinals, he could see Michigan’s Mason Parris for the 7th time in his college career. They are 3-3 against each other with Parris winning their two meetings this season by a 3-1 decision in the dual and a 5-3 upset decision in the Big Ten finals.

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