With all the NCAA tournament excitement and my twitter spaz about ‘peaking’ I almost forgot to pick my Yunderdogs! (The J in Jaroslav is a soft J, like in jogging).
I try to find seniors who are from smaller, less well known schools who have never made All American before and root for them to make podium on their last shot. Or I’ll just pick a guy for random reasons I make up on the spot.
Either way, you should totally root for these dudes because they are totally awesome dudes!
125: Paul Petrov (12 seed) – Bucknell. It’s always nice to see a Bucknell Bison do well. The program was on the brink of oblivion about a decade ago. 13th ranked Petrov is a solid dark horse candidate and media darling.
133: Mack McGuire (9) – Kent State. This Golden Flash is at his 4th consecutive NCAA without ever making it past the round of 16. I don’t see the Mighty Mack beating Garrett (Cornell) in the quarters but as the 12th ranked guy in his weight, he definitely could find the podium in the wrestle backs.
141: Todd Preston (10) – Harvard. Tough to call anyone who prepped at Blair and will soon have a Harvard degree an underdog (or Yunderdog), but T-Prez is a New Jersey man and I am a NJ homer. Plus the EIWA needs all the help it can get this year. Plus I think anything is possible in a wide open 141.
149: Matt Kraus (13) – Arizona State. Few would consider Arizona State a mid major but in the world of wrestling, anything in the Mountain Time and west is a minnow. Matty Yowzah Krausah may have an upset special waiting for Ciamat0 (Drexel) in the quarter final round.
157: John Boyle (10) – American; Cody Pack (7) – South Dakota State. Had to go with John Boyle for repping both the Garden State and Chocolate City. Had to double up with Cody Pack because this is his 4th NCAA in a row, and last year he was seeded 7th and lost in the bloodround. Unfortunately these 2 Yunderdogs will likely see it’s other in the 2nd round. Which also means at least one will make it to the quarters! And yes I can choose 2 guys in a weight class, it’s my list, I do what I want.
165: Conor Brennan (12) – Rider. I’m most stoked about how Conor is all like, “You know what, I’ve got 3 Ns in my last name. I don’t need anymore than 1 in my first name. 1 N in Conor is enough. ” Brennan is a 3X EWL champ. This is his 3rd trip to the National Championships and 1st time seeded.
174: Mike Ottinger (10) – Central Michigan; Blaise Butler (3) – Missouri. Yes I went for another twofer. Ottinger is the real Yunderdog as he is seeded outside the top 8 and Central Michigan is a directional. However, I had to include Butler, even though he is from a powerhouse program and seeded #3, because he spurned UVA’s Darden business school to transfer to and obtain an MBA from Mizzou, and I will forever hold a grudge against Darden because I am petty like that.
184: Matthew Miller (9) – Navy. There will always be a room for a Navy Man on my team. This is Miller’s third trip to Nationals, and I believe he was injured last year, after having made the round of 12 as a sophomore. 184 is also one of those WTF -who-knows kinds of weights. I wouldn’t rule out any result for the 9th ranked Midshipman, including an upset over Dean (Cornell) in the 1/8 round.
197: Reuben Franklin (9) – Cal State Bakersfield. How can you root against a Rueben? It is the tastiest of all the grilled sandwiches. The Cal State programs are also worthy of support, one of the few schools keeping D1 wrestling alive in the under served Bear Republic. This is Franklin’s first appearance in the NCAAs, and the 10th ranked Roadrunner has excellent odds of becoming an All-American.
285: Riley Shaw (US) – Cleveland State; Billy Smith (12) – Rutgers. I had to include one of the two Vikings of Cleveland State in the tournament. The program came within a whisker of being shuttered last year. Shaw is making his 3rd appearance, all of them unseeded. Finally, Billy Smitty of New Jersey University. Smith has qualified 3 other times, making the round of 16 in the last two appearances. I will be robustly cheering on Billy to at-last break through into the top 8.
To see if I missed anyone, I combed through the spreadsheet for all the 4X NQs with no AAs. Turns out, I missed quite a few potential Yunderdogs. Yikes. Here, check em out:
Wow, so many worthies. Terao (2X R12!), JMart, Rowdy Roddy Rauser, Deutsch-land, Alexander (Go Terpies), covered McGuire, Horan-so-far-away, Sparty Chino (HOF name), got Ottinger, Barnes! Wellington!! Stolfi!!!!!!11!11ones
Also a shout out to Matt Frisch (Citadel) and Mark Martin (Ohio State) who made it to the last 3 NCAAs but not to MSG. Their college careers are over, but they are still champions of extraordinary magnitude.
OK, time to pack and hit the road. Yes I am going to my first NCAA tournament, didn’t you know? And now you know who to root for as well. Do it. DO AS I SAY OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.