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ACC Wrestling Tournament Preview

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NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship Photo by Jay LaPrete/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Allocations

Per a release earlier this week, it was announced that the ACC earned 35 NCAA tournament allocations. While this number falls short of the likes of the Big Ten, Big 12, EIWA, and MAC, it’s important to dig deeper to get the full story.

Each of the conferences listed above have at least twice the number of wrestling schools as the ACC. Pitt, Duke, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and NC State may make up one of the smaller conferences in the country, but it could be argued that they also represent the highest concentration of talent in the NCAA. This is quite the statement, considering the Big Ten is historically recognized as the best conference in college wrestling. And I would argue that that is still the case, however the ACC has closed the gap considerably over the past decade and may continue to do so.

If you look at it, the ACC actually has the highest allocation:wrestler ratio of all of the conferences.

The Big Ten is prestigious and scary and undoubtedly the premier conference in college wrestling, but it’s important to recognize how far the ACC has come and what a great season it has been for this “basketball conference”. This only further highlights how awesome Sunday’s action in Pittsburgh will be.

Brackets

The brackets for ACCs were released earlier this week. NC State had seven of its ten entrants seeded in the top-2 of their weight class, meaning they will get a first round bye and are only one win away from the finals. The next closest team was UNC with five.

Eight of the ten Pack wrestlers are seeded in a position to earn an automatic NCAA bid, with Leitten staring down a semi-final match against Bryce Andonian of Virginia Tech to try and make it nine. I think we’ll get eight automatic bids, and Leitten should have a chance to get a wildcard if he can beat Spencer of Virginia again for third. My champion predictions are below:

  • 125: Jack Mueller, Virginia
  • 133: Micky Phillippi, Pittsburgh
  • 141: Tariq Wilson, NC State
  • 149: Austin O’Connor, UNC
  • 157: Hayden Hidlay, NC State
  • 165: David McFadden, Virginia Tech
  • 174: Daniel Bullard, NC State
  • 184: Trent Hidlay, NC State
  • 197: Jay Aiello, Virginia
  • 285: Demetrius Thomas, Pittsburgh

This should be an electric tournament with some serious intrigue in the 141, 165, & 184 pound brackets. In particular, the winner of the 184 bracket will likely be the #1 seed at NCAAs. Let’s go Hoagie!

The Pack should be the favorites for the team race, with eight serious finalist threats, but the margins are smaller this year than they ever have been. Four top-10 programs reside in this tournament and they’ve all got a shot. NC State will need more than just two champs (Tariq & Hayden) to take home their second consecutive ACC Tournament Championship.

The action begins at 11AM EST on ACC Network Extra, and will be running all day until the finals air live on ACC Network at 7PM.