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Old 03-14-2019
ChiefIllini1 ChiefIllini1 is offline
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The ILLINI NCAA Preview





125. Travis Piotrowski


If you have a minute, do a google search of images of Travis Piotrowski. He has grown from a shaggy-haired boy into a man. He has also earned the #11 seed in this year's Big Dance. His first-round opponent creates a bit of controversy. Wrestlestat.com, which hates the ILLINI, has picked Northern Iowa's Jacob Schwarm to win that bout by a score of 7-6. Thing is, Pio is 2-0 against the Purple Panther.

About 70 days ago, at the Midlands, Pio beat Schwarm by the score of 5-1. Back in 2016, he beat him for the first time 5-0. Moreover, the ILLINI is 16-12 against common opponents, while the Purple Panther is 11-16.

This is the second time that the Panther has qualified for the NCAA tournament. In his first and only year at the Big Dance, Jacob Schwarm got pinned twice out of the gate, by CSU Bakersfield's Sergio Mendez and Michigan's Drew Mattin. Piotrowski finished 2-2 at last year's tournament. He was 1-2 in 2017 as a true freshman. The winner of this match gets Minnesota's Sean Russell, and both of these guys have given Russell a tough match in the past.

You might recall the ILLINI giving up a 0-2 decision to Russell early in the season at the Cliff Keen Invitational. Most recently, at the BTT, Russell gave up a medical forfeit to Pio. Is he healthy enough to beat him now?


My Dark Horse in this bracket is Virginia's Jack Mueller. He placed 5th as a freshman, made the Round of 12 as a sophomore at 133, and is now back at 125 and undefeated at 17-0 with an 88.24% bonus rate. When he finished 5th, his bonus rate didn't crack .600. He's on the top side of the bracket, and he represents a Spencer-Lee-type threat to Sebastian Rivera. My predicted winner is Spencer Lee, unless Brando screws something up!
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Old 03-14-2019
ChiefIllini1 ChiefIllini1 is offline
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133. Dylan Duncan


You can try the point-at-his-feet-and-laugh trick, or the booger on the hand ruse, which history tells us is how the Romans defeated Hannibal and his Elephants. What the ILLINI coaches will probably do to game plan for the #3 seed Nick Suriano is work on the basics, work on making Dylan a tough out, and work on motion. Guys like Suriano will try to keep good position, and they will, unless you can force them out of it. Maybe throw in some emergency Greco, which is an advantage that ILLINOIS school boys have.

Duncan has had a rough couple of years due to injuries. Still, he's the most dangerous #30 seed in the history of sport. After finishing third in the BTT last year, he was favored with a first-round match at last year's Big Dance against Kaid Brock, who was a #4 seed. This year, the injuries and time off the mat have been worse, and now he gets to face a #3 seed.

Suriano and Duncan have not met in college. Dylan is 7-12 against the same guys the Rutgers fellow has a 15-3 record. This would be an upset that would shock the wrestling community. Here's how it could happen: Duncan gets fit and healthy, and proves to Suriano in the first minute that he's gonna be a tough out. Suriano would then wrestle a very conservative match, perhaps something like his 3-2 win over John Erneste of Missouri at Cliff Keen this season. With the weight of Rutgers-never-having-a-champion on his shoulders, it is a one takedown match in the third period. Duncan vigorously moves him around and then shoots in for a low single....

If the ILLINI loses to the Scarlet Knight, his next match would be against the loser of the match between #32 Devan Turner (20-9) of Oregon State or #33 Zack Trampe 15-4 of Binghamton. Duncan has never wrestled either of those fellows. That would be a pig-tail consolation match. The winner there would likely see a tough opponent in either Josh Terao from American or Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech. Duncan has not faced Terao, but he lost to Korbin Myers at this year's Cliff Keen by a 3-4 score. Please note that that was Duncan's first time back on the mat for the year.

A win there, and then ILLINOIS fans would likely get what they want to see: Austin Gomez versus Dylan Duncan.


My first thought for a Dark Horse in this bracket was Ethan Lizak. He has surprised in March with 4th- and 2nd-place finishes. Sure, that was at 125, but his ability to ride is always key in March. But, then, I thought, I would give Dylan Duncan a great chance to beat him, and he also lost his last match to Suriano 9-2, and they're on the same side of the bracket. In fact, there are a bunch of guys who can play the takedown game against him on that side of the bracket, including Tariq Wilson, Austin DeSanto or Stevan Micic. In fact, because of Micic giving up an injury forfeit at the BTT, I'm going with Tariq Wilson as my Dark Horse. He missed out of a lot of the season, but came back for the last dual before the ACC tournament.

My pick for champion is Daton Fix. That's because of Micic's uncertain status and the fact that the upper half of the bracket is a relative cake walk. Fix won't be seriously challenged until the semi-finals.
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Old 03-14-2019
ChiefIllini1 ChiefIllini1 is offline
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141. Mike Carr

Love the bracket. Love the respect the seeding committee gave to Mike Carr for the work he did throughout an injury-plagued season. In terms of talent and results, I think they got it right. In terms of pure talent--throwing out one bad tournament--he could be even higher. I also appreciate the fact that the coaches on the seeding committee see what we see in the sophomore ILLINI.

This is Carr's second year at the Big Dance, hitting the Round of 12 last season. His first-round opponent is Binghamton's Anthony Sparacio. (I had thought that Binghamton was a hotel chain, but it is apparently a university.) Sparacio is a squat, strong little fellow, but not as short or strong as say, Luke Pletcher. He's a New Yorker who takes shots with very little set-up from Suffolk County all the way into Manhattan. Carr can use front headlocks to wear him down and Emery-Parker-like go-behinds to score. Also, Carr's double will be effective against him.


Sparacio had a 16-match win streak snapped by Yianni Vowels during the EIWA championships. He lost that match by major 2-14. He's lost to Kaid Brock (1-6) and Chaz Tucker from Cornell (2-8), but he gave Josh Alber a close 2-3 match.

Get past Sparacio, and Carr will face one of two old nemeses: Tristan Moran or Max Murin. He's 1-1 against the former; 1-2 against the latter. Then, it would likely be Nick Lee, who he has a winning record against. This is a sweet bracket for Carr if he is healthy and ready to go. A titanic clash in the semis with Joey McKenna could await him.


As for my Dark Horse and Champion, I would pick Carr for both! But I won't do that now. Instead, I'm going with Missouri's Jay Vowels as my Dark Horse. It was tempting to pick Chad Red because he's just so frustrating to wrestle, and he did AA last year. But only a fit Jay Vowels can beat Yianni Consonants in the top bracket. As for the overall champion, it will be the winner of the Carr-McKenna match. Then, after the wrestling match, Carr and McKenna will have a Science Bee for all the marbles.
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Old 03-14-2019
ChiefIllini1 ChiefIllini1 is offline
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157. Eric Barone

Hypothetical question: Say you have two wrestlers, and wrestler #1 is ranked higher in the coaches’ poll (#10 versus #21), higher in the RPI (#16 versus #29) and has a much better record against common opponents than wrestler #2. You would expect any logical computer program to predict a win for wrestler #1, right?

On top of all that, wrestler #1 wrestled in the toughest conference in the country, had the higher NCAA seed (#15 versus #18), and had NCAA tournament wrestling experience, whereas wrestler #2 had none. Well, send your hate mail to wrestlestat.com. That service predicts Logan Parks 8, Eric Barone 6.

Wrestlestat.com hates the ILLINI.

Barone has shown a great deal of confidence this year. Some astute pundits have even said he might have what it takes to reach the podium at the Big Dance. His first-round opponent, Logan Parks of Central Michigan, has a 22-12 record. He is 3-4 against the same guys that Barone has beaten at a 6-2 clip.

The Chippewa is tatted up like a German porn star and is a somewhat lanky fellow, but with some meat on his bones. He wrestled 165 the last two years, so an early morning match should benefit the ILLINI. This will be Parks’ first NCAA tournament. On offense, his go-to move is a front headlock throw-by. (Keep an eye on it coaches, at least one wrestler on video seemed to indicate the hold was illegal).

He will also try sweep singles to either side using his longish arms. On top, he will shuttle back and forth from a claw ride to a leg ride. Didn’t seem to have any tilts, other than a suck back. Parks’ big win this year was in the dual against Larry Early. Early got his revenge in the conference tournament. Parks also beat Zander Wick this season, but you could tell that Wick was a shell of his former self.

The winner of this match will almost certainly face Tyler Berder in the next round. Barone and Berder had an epic battle in Lincoln before the Cornhusker got the fall. The loser of the first-round match will face Benjamin Barton (11-3) of Campbell. Barton had to beat the #119- and #166-ranked wrestlers to win the SoCon championship. Last year, he had a 10-9 record at 149 pounds.

I don’t think there’s a Dark Horse at this weight that can unexpectedly make the finals, but if I had to pick one, I’d pick Kaleb Young. (Besides Barone, natch.) If PapaBearSlim got on here and told me that Larry Early was sick during the CMU dual, I might pick him as well. Nolf will win, but he’s a trash person. You don’t **** with somebody’s knees!
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  #5  
Old 03-15-2019
ChiefIllini1 ChiefIllini1 is offline
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165. Joseph "Guns" Gunther


I think it is cool that Guns is popping the "I" on his singlet in that picture. He's been a super successful transfer from Iowa, who has earned a spot in the Big Dance. He has qualified for Nationals each year he has been in a starting lineup. As a freshman, he made it to the Round of 16 at 165. Last year, he did the Hawkeyes a solid and earned an NCAA slot at 174.

Guns has had injuries slow him down this year. Still, I remember the beautiful takedown in overtime against Ohio State's Kaleb Romero. If he's healthy, the Libertyville native has the moves.

His opponent in the first round is another ILLINOIS native, Isaiah White, wrestling for the Cornhuskers. White has the head-to-head advantage, winning those matches 7-2 and 7-3. Against common opponents, Guns is 10-14, while White is 20-11.

This is a particularly tough bracket for the ILLINI, as the winner of his first-round match will face the winner of the match between Duke's Zach Finesilver and Wyoming's #10 seed Branson Ashworth. The loser of Guns' first-round match has to face the loser of the Finesilver/Ashworth battle.

Interestingly enough, Guns has faced the #10 seed Ashworth before, back in the 2017 NCAA tournament, and he gunned the Cowboy down, 6-3. That's their only meeting. To add even more intrigue, Isaiah White has wrestled Wyoming's Ashworth twice, splitting two-point decisions. Gunther has never wrestled Finesilver.

The winner in the quad of Guns, White, Ashworth and Finesilver will face off with Vincenzo Joseph, who doesn't appear to be as "pumped" this year as last, if you know what I mean, and I know you know what I mean.

As a side note, and before I get to my Dark Horse and Champion picks, I have to address the Joseph Smith controversy. If you think that Joseph Smith actually saw the Angel Moroni on the Hill Cumorah, and that Native Americans were actually migrated "chosen people," the Lamanites, then I have a South Park episode for you to watch.

The other Joseph Smith controversy is almost as bad. There are good reasons to have a system to seed wrestlers. I like that they have seeded out to thirty-three. I think it can make things fair. But putting Oklahoma State's Joe Smith in a pig-tail match with the winner facing the one seed is stupid. There is a principle of equity that is being ignored. Now, I hate Iowa as much as I hate Polio and The Disney Channel, but what the coaches did to Marinelli is ****ed up! There is a saying that "the Law is an ***." Sometimes, "the Rule is an ***," and you have to bend it.


As for Dark Horses, I would suggest that any of the 5-7 seeds fit the bill. That includes Marstellar, Massa and White. Whoever wins the bracket (or 133) should be OW. Marinelli has to dodge bullets starting in the first round. Joseph will have a bullet in the quarters, followed by a Massa bullet in the semis. If forced to pick, I would go with Marinelli. I guess.
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Old 03-15-2019
ChiefIllini1 ChiefIllini1 is offline
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184. Emery Parker


Like his mentor, Mike Poeta, Emery Parker wrestles the Beautiful Game. He uses quick, decisive and crisp movements to his advantage on the mat. His improvement over the years has been nothing short of astonishing. All of this while earning All-Academic and All-American honors. I would liken his shocking improvement to the meteoric rise of Japanese heavy industry after World War II.

In anticipation of a land invasion of Japan, the United States began bombing the **** out of their cities and industrial capacity. Besides the atomics, there were 160,800 tons of conventional weapons dropped on the Japanese mainland, including incendiary and high explosive charges. The incendiary devices were especially devastating because most of Japanese housing and industrial buildings were constructed from wood.

From those ashes, the Japanese rebuilt. At first, Americans laughed at them, as they made little plastic Godzillas and toy Hot Wheels. But in almost no time, they were making full-size automobiles and then televisions and game consoles. Their quality improved. Japan soon became an industrial powerhouse.

Like Emery Parker.

There is unfinished business for the ILLINI, though, and that is to win an NCAA championship. At last year's tournament, he was upset in the first round by North Carolina's Chip Ness, who would also beat Taylor Venz on the championship side before finishing 7th as an All-American. After that loss, Emery Parker, who was listed as ******* "Emory" on the bracket, went on to win six straight matches, including revenge against Ness, comfortable wins over #3-seed Ryan Preisch of Lehigh and Taylor Venz, and a nail-biter against Michigan's Abounader. Here's that bracket:


The ILLINI's first-round opponent this year is a Virginia Cavalier named Will Schany. Wrestlestat.com has predicted a victory for Parker by the score of 10-4. Emery has beaten common opponents at an 18-5 clip, while Schany is at 6-12.

Schany is a squat, powerfully-built wrestler, who is not particularly quick. He will shoot drop-down singles and high crotches on over-matched foes, but will stick to ties and go-behinds against the better wrestlers. He looks quite susceptible to leg attacks, and, in fact, his legs should provide a bountiful buffet opportunity for the hungry attacks of Emery Parker. He has FS experience and is powerful in the shoulders, so I don't see any reason to tie up with this fellow.

The Cavalier is 4-8 in his last 12 matches, which include duals and the ACC tournament. He lost to both Chip Ness and Nick Reenan in that conference championship. Other notable losses on the year include 2-7 to Taylor Venz, 0-9 to Ryan Preisch, 5-15 against Zahid Valencia (quick guys especially give him problems), and three losses to Nino Bonaccorsi, who we'll talk about in the next paragraph. Schany does have one win over Chip Ness, but the Tar Heel avenged that by pin in the ACC tournament.

The winner of this match will face the winner of a match between #13 Nino Bonaccorsi from Pitt and Utah Valley's #20 Will Sumner. I'm going to assume that Bonaccorsi wins this one, as he beat Sumner by a 17-4 count about 16 months ago, is ranked higher, and has a much better record against common opponents.

Of course, wrestlestat.com ranks Bonaccorsi #7 and Emery Parker #17 because duh. The Pitt Panther has three losses and no wins against Zach Zavatsky. He also has losses to Jacobe Smith from Oklahoma State (4-7), as well as to Taylor Venz (fall), Chip Ness (5-7) and Drew Foster (6-9).

That winner would face whomever rises to the top amongst Nick Gravina, Cash Wilcke and Max Dean of Cornell. I would have to say that besides Marinelli, Wilcke has the most dangerous first-round opponent in Gravina. You just know that the Rutgers senior is going to give his all for at least one match, then possibly have to forfeit out.

As for a Dark Horse and Champion, well, we all know who that's gonna be. Of course, in the bottom half of the draw you could consider Chip Ness a Dark Horse to get to the finals. Kevin Parker might give Rasheed a few problems. Those would multiply when he faces Ness.

Last edited by ChiefIllini1; 03-15-2019 at 05:35 AM.
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Old 03-16-2019
Crystal Clearly Crystal Clearly is offline
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125 - Rivera - (again) over Lee. Pio loses to Lee in QF. Should win first WB match. 7th/8th.
133 - Micic - if he is 90% (or more), if not, Fix. Duncan makes it out of wrestle back pigtails...
141 - Yianni - wins second finals against winner of Lee/McKenna. Carr loses to Lee in QF.
* Carr should have a great match with Alber/Eierman in WB SF. 4th/6th place most likely.
149 - Ashnault over Jordan, but has tough rematch against Kolodzik in semis.
157 - Nolf majors Deakin, after close (3 pt.) win against Panteleo in semis. Barone may AA.
165 - Joseph over Marinelli in an epic rematch of BTT. Guns aren't loaded - loss, win, loss...
174 - Hall over Valencia, close. Lujan and Amine test in QF/SF, but finals should be good.
184 - Martin over Rasheed. But Parker has something for him in semis. Parker 3rd again.
197 - Nickal over Moore (again)... Is he going to be done after this year?
285 - Steveson over Parris (surprises White in SF) after colossal rematch with Cassar in SF.

PSU wins another championship.... (shocking )

Last edited by Crystal Clearly; 03-16-2019 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 03-16-2019
HuffHall HuffHall is offline
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I got Lee over Rivera this time I thought he controlled the last match all the way thru the 2nd period. I think he has enough in the tank this time to close out. To bad they meet in the semis but still looking forward to the trilogy
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Old 03-16-2019
Crystal Clearly Crystal Clearly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuffHall View Post
I got Lee over Rivera this time I thought he controlled the last match all the way thru the 2nd period. I think he has enough in the tank this time to close out. To bad they meet in the semis but still looking forward to the trilogy
Huff, they are on opposite sides.
Rivera #1 seed, Lee #3.
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  #10  
Old 03-16-2019
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Nelson*0.5 Nelson*0.5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Clearly View Post
125 - Rivera - (again) over Lee. Pio loses to Lee in QF. Should win first WB match. 7th/8th.
133 - Micic - if he is 90% (or more), if not, Fix. Duncan makes it out of wrestle back pigtails...
141 - Yianni - wins second finals against winner of Lee/McKenna. Carr loses to Lee in QF.
* Carr should have a great match with Alber/Eierman in WB SF. 4th/6th place most likely.
149 - Ashnault over Jordan, but has tough rematch against Kolodzik in semis.
157 - Nolf majors Deakin, after close (3 pt.) win against Panteleo in semis. Barone may AA.
165 - Joseph over Marinelli in an epic rematch of BTT. Guns aren't loaded - loss, win, loss...
174 - Hall over Valencia, close. Lujan and Amine test in QF/SF, but finals should be good.
184 - Martin over Rasheed. But Parker has something for him in semis. Parker 3rd again.
197 - Nickal over Moore (again)... Is he going to be done after this year?
285 - Steveson over Parris (surprises White in SF) after colossal rematch with Cassar in SF.

PSU wins another championship.... (shocking )
Parris???? He's wrestling like a true freshman who could have used a redshirt year. If you can't get past Conan Jennings in 3 attempts and you get manhandled by Cassar and lose to Jensen, you are not ready for a big-time showing in the big dance.
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