2013 NCAA Prediction: PSU, Iowa, OSU, Minnesota

Updated: March 15, 2013

By Bryan Van Kley

Editor’s Note: The following column first appeared in WIN, Volume 19, Issue 7 and printed March 13, 2013


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict … this one is going to be fun!                                                            I’ve never looked forward to an NCAA tournament as much as this year’s big dance. It could be both dramatic in the team sense and historic if Kyle Dake is able to defeat Penn State’s returning champ and Hodge winner in David Taylor in the NCAA finals for his fourth title.

Now it’s time for my usual, risky but fun, team predictions.

Penn State will win it, but it will be very close; much closer than it was looking on paper earlier in the year. Penn State has the potential of four finalists, but I think they’ll only end up with three in David Taylor (165), Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197). The key to the Nittany Lions repeating as team champs is how many other All-Americans do they have and where do they place?

If they’re able to peak and wrestle their best under the NCAA lights like they’ve done the last two years, they’ll win it. However, coach Cael Sanderson’s Nittany Lions will need guys like Matt Brown (174) and the Alton twins (Dylan at 157, Andrew at 149) to wrestle well when the heat is on.

Penn State will be performing in the second-most hostile environment (to the Feb. 1 dual in Iowa City) they’ve seen to date. The Iowa-biased crowd will be cheering against them loudly, as will the normal group of NCAA fans who are always going to cheer against the team who’s on top.

How is Penn State susceptible with all their numbers of potential All-Americans and high-placing ones at that?

Take a look at where they’re going to likely get drawn into the brackets. WIN has Andrew Alton ranked No. 12. If he gets that seed, he’ll have an extremely tough Thursday night and potential Friday morning match-ups against possibly returning NCAA finalist Dylan Ness of Minnesota. Ness just pinned his way to a Big Ten title.

I think Iowa will provide the biggest threat for the Nittany Lions, followed closely behind by OSU.

What makes Iowa so dangerous is their potential of four finalists in front of a rowdy crowd. Wells Fargo will provide a home-mat feel and momentum for the Hawks. If Matt McDonough (125), Tony Ramos (133), Derek St. John (157) and Mike Evans (174) all wrestle up to potential, there could be four Hawks in the finals. That’s a big “if”.

But look at those brackets too. Ramos is probably the most solid finalist lock the Hawks have right now. Two-time champ McDonough will likely get put down on the bottom side of the bracket as the No. 3 seed with talented Illinois sophomore Jesse Delgado wrestling out of the No. 2 seed, having just beaten the Iowa senior 10-4 in the Big Ten finals.

St. John, a 2012 runner-up, and Evans certainly have the talent and are each ranked No. 3. Even if one of two of these Hawks slip up prior to the finals, there’s still enough points for them to take the team title back to Iowa City as well.

Heavyweight Bobby Telford, a 2012 All-American, and 141-pound senior Mark Ballweg are both ranked No. 7. They’re critical to Iowa’s team effort. If both place, Iowa will be in good shape.

Oklahoma State’s team looks a lot on paper like Iowa’s and Penn State’s. They have three guys you could easily see on the raised platform on Saturday night in Jordan Oliver (149), Chris Perry (174) and Alan Gelogaev (Hwt). But John Smith’s Cowboys will need those three guys to place top three and will likely need a couple champs for them to win it.

I think Oliver and Perry will win NCAA titles, but Gelogaev has been inconsistent at times and will most likely need to avenge a loss to Missouri big-man Dom Bradley in the semis for his finals ticket.

The key for Oklahoma State, like both Penn State and Iowa, is who else? Tyler Caldwell (165) is the other likely top-three finisher for the Cowboys. But they’ll absolutely need those third-place points.

Smith will then look to youngsters like sophomore Jon Morrison (6th at 133), freshman Alex Dieringer (6th at 157) and junior Blake Rosholt (No. 11 at 197) to come through for them. If the Cowboys place four in the top four, have two champs, and get two other All-Americans, there could be a gold trophy going back to Stillwater as well.

The last team with a legitimate shot in the race is Minnesota. Ness and defending champ Tony Nelson (Hwt) must both be back in the finals again, with one of them getting a title for them to contend.

Then J Robinson’s squad will also need top-four, big-point performances out of previously top-ranked Logan Storley at 174 (he slipped to No. 6 after his seventh-place Big Ten finish) and also No. 5 Kevin Steinhaus. Steinhaus will need to put together several big wins as well in a strong 184-pound bracket.

The keys for the Gophers will likely be their twins, in the same way Penn State is relying on twins for All-American points.

Chris Dardanes (5th at 133) and brother Nick (7th at 141) need to get momentum early in each session for the Gophers to spark some other key wins.                                     Minnesota has the numbers and the talent to win as well. But like the other teams, they’ll just need their best performance of the year and will need to get momentum early as a team to be in the hunt on Saturday night.

Like always, it will be a lot of fun and a fitting end to another great college season.