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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    2022 NCAA DI National Championships Preview (133 lbs)

    The top three seeds at 133 lbs Roman Bravo-Young (center), Daton Fix (left), and Michael McGee (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    The 2022 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships are less than a week away! In a few short days, 330 wrestlers will make the trek to Detroit, Michigan, with hopes of a national title on their minds. In addition, fan seating will be at 100% capacity for the first time since Pittsburgh in 2019. Now it's in an area that hasn't hosted nationals since 2007 and even that tournament was not held downtown; it was way out in Auburn Hills.

    Before the action on the mat starts, InterMat will go through each individual bracket and highlight the favorites, top matches to watch, and much more.

    Here's the 125 lb preview

    We'll move on to the 133 lbers as we release two of our weight class previews for the next five days:

    The Top Seed: Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)

    After the dust settled in Lincoln, the Penn State wrestler with the longest active winning streak is their 133 lber, Roman Bravo-Young, who has won 31 straight bouts. His most recent defeat took place in the 2020 Big Ten finals against Sebastian Rivera, then of Northwestern. Bravo-Young doesn't get the attention that some of his PSU teammates have received; however, he's perhaps the heart and soul of this squad.

    The unflappable national champion is just as capable of cooly stymying a winning takedown attempt from DeSanto in the waning seconds of the Big Ten finals, as he is displaying highlight-reel offense. However the match plays out, RBY can find a way to win.

    A clutch takedown over Daton Fix in sudden victory gave RBY the 2021 national championship, which led into a top-ranking this year. He's never relinquished that position and become more dominant in 2021-22. Bravo-Young's bonus-point percentage has crept up to almost 59%, which represents the highest mark of his career. While generally not considered a "pinner," RBY has three this year, the highest total during his tenure in State College.

    Speaking of his time with the Nittany Lions, RBY's days in a Penn State singlet could be numbered. At times, he's hinted that he would not use another year of eligibility he is entitled to because of the "Covid Year." So, don't take for granted what could be the last collegiate tournament for this Penn State star.

    The Contenders: #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State); #3 Michael McGee (Arizona State); #4 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech); #5 Austin DeSanto (Iowa)

    The Conference Champs:

    ACC: #4 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech)

    Big 12: #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)

    Big Ten: #1 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)

    EIWA: #9 Michael Colaiocco (Penn)

    MAC: #30 Richie Koehler (Rider)

    Pac-12: #3 Michael McGee (Arizona State)

    SoCon: #21 Codi Russell (Appalachian State)

    Top First-Round Matches

    #16 Josh Koderhandt (Navy) vs. #17 Haiden Drury (Utah Valley)

    #9 Michael Colaiocco (Penn) vs. #24 Ramazan Attasauov (Iowa State)

    #14 Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa) vs. #19 Brayden Palmer (Chattanooga)

    #15 Kai Orine (NC State) vs. #18 Joe Heilmann (North Carolina)

    This bracket looks a lot like the 2021 version and for good reason. The top-seven finisher at the weight are returning and still at 133 lbs. In 2021, this was one of the rare brackets that didn't explode. The eight All-Americans came from the top-ten seeds and the top four advanced to the semifinals. I'd expect chalk to generally prevail again here. Most fans will probably pick an RBY/Fix NCAA finals rematch and with good reason. Bravo-Young hasn't lost since 2020 and Fix's only collegiate loss in that time period came to the '21 finals to the Nittany Lion star.

    One way the rematch could get interrupted is by #5 Austin DeSanto. The high-energy Hawkeye has been extremely close to both Fix and RBY in the recent meetings. He doesn't have problems getting to either's legs, but the issue has been securing a takedown. Before the brackets were released on Wednesday evening, we all probably had a Fix/DeSanto semifinal mentally penciled into our brackets. That didn't happen as DeSanto was saddled with the fifth seed, rather than the three. At the end of the day, it just means we could see RBY/DeSanto "Ocho" rather than a meeting with Fix. Either could be entertaining.

    Fix is undoubtedly looking for another crack at Bravo-Young after his sudden victory in the 2021 finals. He came into the tournament last year as the top-seed and crushed the field, before edging DeSanto. We'll probably see a different version of Fix mentally, after the high of making the Senior World Team and coming away from the World Championships in Oslo with a silver medal. Against most opponents, Fix has opened his offense more; however, it's likely that we'll see at a tactical, chess match, were he and RBY to meet again.

    Maybe the most significant test for Fix pre-finals, would come in the quarters in the form of Lucas Byrd. In each of the last two Big Ten semifinals, Byrd has lost one-point bouts to DeSanto. Byrd is one of the few wrestlers who doesn't wilt under the constant pressure of DeSanto. It should make for an intriguing match with Fix.

    Some familiar faces will help round out the list of contenders and have a strong case to make the podium. Surprise third seed, Michael McGee, gets his billing perhaps due to an 8-7 win over Korbin Myers at the Collegiate Duals. It ended up being the only blimp on the radar for the Hokie. Both Myers and McGee are returning top-six finishers from a year ago. The tenth seed is returning All-American Chris Cannon. Provided he can get by #23 Tony Madrigal, in round one, Cannon will see Byrd for the fourth time in two years. Byrd has taken the first three and hasn't surrendered a takedown in any of their matches.

    New blood into the ranks of podium threats include Dylan Ragusin and Michael Colaiocco. Ragusin was a national qualifier last year at 125 lbs. He pulled out a 3-1 victory in extra time against Byrd in the Big Ten third-place bout, which put him ahead of the Illini AA in the seeding process. Colaiocco was 11th seed at the 2020 tournament, but obviously didn't get to wrestle. Since the Ivy League wiped blocked their members from competing last year, Colaiocco will be making his national debut. He hasn't lost since the calendar turned to 2022 and is riding an 11-match winning streak.

    Veteran mainstays #11 Devan Turner, #12 Phillippi, and #13 Brock Hudkins (Indiana), all could push for the podium. Phillippi and Hudkins have both advanced to the NCAA Round of 12 in prior trips, while Turner won two bouts last year, his third trip to the Big Dance.

    Quadrant to Watch: Like 125, we'll stick with the second quadrant, the one that includes the four and five seeds. We've already mentioned that it was shocking to see Austin DeSanto as the fifth seed. That placement in the bracket leads to some potential interesting matchups. In 2021, DeSanto and Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh) met in the 4 vs. 5 bout. This time it could be in the round of 16. Normally, Phillippi is able to slow down his opposition, but not in that meeting with DeSanto. The Hawkeye showed his normal, frenetic pace and worked to a 13-5 major decision. Should DeSanto replicate his 2021 performance or merely win, he'd likely see the fourth seed, Korbin Myers. DeSanto and Myers clashed in the NCAA third-place bout last season and DeSanto prevailed 10-6. Getting out of this quarterfinal probably books another bout between DeSanto and Bravo-Young.

    Darkhorse All-American Contender: #14 Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa)

    This weight class had been odd all year in that there are no obvious wrestlers from 13-20 that look like they will go on a run towards the podium. One that started unranked, and slowly made his way into the top 15 was Kyle Biscoglia. This is Biscoglia's first crack at the postseason for UNI. After starting the year 8-6 (with one loss not officially counting, as it came to a teammate), Biscoglia has been a model of consistency. His only two losses from late-December until today have come to Daton Fix. One in a dual and the other in the Big 12 finals. During that time, he's picked up wins over six national qualifiers and seen his stock rise significantly.

    While Biscoglia has a difficult match with #3 Michael McGee looming in the second round, his path to the medal stand is not too brutal. Barring significant upsets, he'd have to go through #11 Devan Turner (Oregon State) and the probable winner of #8 Michael Colaiocco/#9 Rayvon Foley. Certainly no walk in the park, but doable.

    Extreme (+20 seed) Darkhorse All-American Contender: #23 Tony Madrigal (Oklahoma)

    Before the Big Ten Championships, who was responsible for the only loss on Lucas Byrd's record? How about the 133 lbs champion at the Michigan State Open? The answer to both questions is Tony Madrigal and it didn't stop with Byrd. The Sooner senior also posted wins over Rayvon Foley and Dylan Ragusin at that same tournament. Three wins like that were better than many resumes for an entire season. It was enough to immediately catapult Madrigal into the top ten.

    Since he left East Lansing, Madrigal's results have been ok, at best. He's 7-10 if you exclude those wins. But, what they show is Madrigal is capable of beating almost anyone at the 133 lb weight class. Perhaps he gets hot and reels of three of those caliber victories?

    Right off the bat, the 2022 Big 12 sixth-place finisher, is paired with returning All-American Chris Cannon (Northwestern). A win would put him through to Byrd, again. Last year, we saw Sooner Jake Woodley make an unlikely run to the semis, could Madrigal be the one this time around, who picks up some big wins?

    The Team Race: The fifth seed for DeSanto put him in line for a semifinal collision with top-seeded RBY. In their last two meetings, DeSanto has been ever-so-close to the returning champion, but hasn't been able to convert a takedown. Could he do it here, when stakes are the highest? If he does, that would surely provide a huge boost to his team's hopes, while striking a crushing blow to Penn State.

    For Michigan, Dylan Ragusin could see #3 Michael McGee in the quarterfinals in a rematch of their neutral-site dual in Texas. If Ragusin is able to make the necessary adjustments to reverse a 10-0 major decision, he'd secure a place in the top-six, something that could be difficult otherwise.

    Projected Quarterfinals

    #1 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) vs. #8 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State)
    #4 Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech) vs. #5 Austin DeSanto (Iowa)

    #3 Michael McGee (Arizona State) vs. #6 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan)
    #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) vs. #7 Lucas Byrd (Illinois)

    Projected Semifinals

    #1 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) vs. #5 Austin DeSanto (Iowa)
    #2 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) vs. #3 Michael McGee (Arizona State)

    Projected All-Americans

    1st) Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)
    2nd) Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)
    3rd) Austin DeSanto (Iowa)
    4th) Michael McGee (Arizona State)
    5th) Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech)
    6th) Michael Colaiocco (Penn)
    7th) Lucas Byrd (Illinois)
    8th) Kyle Biscoglia (Northern Iowa)

    Round of 12 Finishers: #10 Chris Cannon (Northwestern); #8 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State); #12 Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh); #6 Dylan Ragusin (Michigan)

    Consolation Round of 16: #17 Haiden Drury (Utah Valley); #11 Devan Turner (Oregon State); #19 Brayden Palmer (Chattanooga); #16 Josh Koderhandt (Navy)

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