125: Nahshon Garret (Cornell) over Jesse Delgado (Illinois)
Garrett has been hot since his encounter with Delgado (a 6-2 loss on Dec. 21). He has shown he can beat Megaludis and will do so again in the semifinals before avenging his loss to Delgado in the finals.
133: Tony Ramos (Iowa) over Tyler Graff (Wisconsin)
I know what the naysayers will wonder: how can you bet against Joe Colon of Northern Iowa or A.J. Schopp of Edinboro after the seasons they've had? My logic is based upon two fundamental theories:
Head coach Tom Brands will have Ramos ready, and Graff has been wrestling well as of late. Ramos tops Graff in a rematch of the Big Ten finals.
141: Logan Stieber (Ohio State) over Mitchell Port (Edinboro)
There is no doubt that Port has had a solid season, but Stieber is in a different class than anyone else at this weight class, if not the entire tournament. Stieber has shown he can compete on the big stage, and will do so again this year to earn his third national title.
149: Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) over Chris Villalonga (Cornell)
Anything can happen in this weight class, but I think Maple comes out on top after knocking off Drake Houdeshelt of Missouri in the semifinals and winning the rubber match against Villalonga in the finals. He's found his groove after moving up from 141 pounds where he won a national title last year. Maple wins his second title.
157: James Green (Nebraska) over Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State)
Green's explosiveness will be hard for anyone to handle. Expect fireworks in the quarterfinals if he happens to meet Dylan Ness of Minnesota again. Derek St. John of Iowa will try to defend the title he won last year at this weight class, but his performance this year has been streaky. Dieringer has been hot since losing to St. John in early January. I expect him to make the finals before falling to Green. My dark horse pick in this weight class is Isaac Jordan, the freshman from Wisconsin. He handed Green his only defeat of the season a month ago and given the chance in the semifinals on Friday night may have a chance to repeat that effort.
165: David Taylor (Penn State) over Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State)
Perhaps the biggest sweepstakes in the tournament this year will be who the runner-up is at 165 pounds. David Taylor's numbers have been gaudy all year. There's nothing creative or otherwise insightful in predicting him to continue his dominance throughout the tournament. He is as much of a lock as anyone I've seen since Cael Sanderson. The bookmakers will make this weight class unbettable, unless you are Tyler Caldwell's mother and hope he can slow down Taylor enough to steal the victory. I don't see it happening. Taylor wins comfortably for his second title.
174: Andrew Howe (Oklahoma) over Chris Perry (Oklahoma State)
This weight class is perhaps the deepest in the tournament, with a handful of talented wrestlers who have traded wins/losses throughout the year. However, I think Andrew Howe is the top dog. Expect him to complete his long comeback after taking a redshirt last season after transferring from Wisconsin. Perry's road to the finals will most likely go through either Matt Brown of Penn State of Mike Evans of Iowa -- either wrestler could beat Perry in a close match. Perry is the returning NCAA champion at this weight class so he knows how to win on the big stage. But so does Howe as a two-time NCAA finalist and one-time champion. I expect Howe to avenge his loss to Perry in the Big 12 finals and take home his second NCAA title as his swan song.
184: Ed Ruth (Penn State) over Ethan Lofthouse (Iowa)
Disregarding the fact that somehow Ruth is not the top seed, he is a close runner-up to David Taylor as the biggest lock of the tournament. In simple terms: the guy is absolutely dominant. His lone loss to Gabe Dean of Cornell at the Southern Scuffle is either an anomaly or Ruth stayed out too late celebrating the New Year. Lofthouse has as good a shot as anyone to make the finals, but stands little chance to win -- especially if Ruth feigns any interest in winning his third NCAA title.
197: Kyven Gadson (Iowa State) over Morgan McIntosh (Penn State)
Flip a coin when predicting this weight class. I did. See my chart. Any one of the top eight seeds could win the title.
285: Tony Nelson (Minnesota) over Adam Chalfant (Indiana)
Another tossup weight class that could see any one of the top five seeds emerging as the champion. Nelson carries the Minnesota heavyweight pedigree and seems to be peaking at the right time. In any case, there is no doubt that the championship will be decided with no less than seven minutes of hugging and pushing. Can't wait!
1. Penn State
3. Oklahoma State