Myles Martin after advancing to the NCAA finals as a true freshman (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The 51st annual NWCA All-Star Classic takes place this Saturday night at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center. The event, which features several of the nation's championship contenders, will stream live on Trackwrestling.com beginning with showcase matches at 6 p.m. ET and the main event matches starting at 7 p.m. InterMat will also have a live blog for fans to follow the action and interact.
The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the event.
The predicted outcomes are partially influenced by a proprietary statistical model developed by StrikeScoreMMA.com called Wrestler's Pythagorean Expectation (WPE). The model has been previously used to predict the finals of the Midlands Championships and the Oklahoma State vs. Missouri dual meet. In those two instances, the model correctly predicted the winner in 89 percent of matches. The WPE based on last season's performance for each competitor is list below in parentheses.
125: No. 6 Barlow McGhee, Missouri (80.70) vs. No. 14 Nathan Kraisser, Campbell (89.25)
Last season McGhee reached the round of 12 before falling to Conor Youtsey (Michigan) and missing out of All-American status. During the season, he picked up impressive wins over 2015 NCAA finalist Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) as well as 2016 NCAA All-Americans David Terao (American) and No. 2 Dylan Peters (Northern Iowa).
Kraisser will drop down to 125 after spending last season at 133. His WPE is inflated due to his ability to pick up bonus point. In his 2016 campaign, he scored 25 bonus point victories and 10 falls. However, he only faced two All-Americans and went 0-2 in those bouts.
McGhee normally enjoys a size advantage. It will be interesting to see how that plays considering he is facing a competitor who spent the last season up a weight. With that being said, the Missouri wrestler should be able to slow the match down and win a close decision.
Prediction: McGhee (Missouri) dec. Kraisser (Campbell)
133: No. 2 Zane Richards, Illinois (94.15) vs. No. 4 Eric Montoya, Nebraska (82.46)
Richards had a very impressive junior season last year. He finished fourth at the NCAA tournament and only lost to Cody Brewer (Oklahoma) and No. 1 Cory Clark (Iowa). At the Big Ten tournament, he scored a 5-1 decision over Montoya. Richards also defeated All-Americans Jordan Conaway (Penn State) and Jade Rauser (Utah Valley).
Montoya finished right behind Richards at the NCAAs, in fifth place. During the season, he was not as consistent as his opponent, but he did defeat Conaway, Rauser and fellow All-American No. 5 Earl Hall (Iowa State).
Against high-level competition, Richards relies on his defense. That should be able to carry him to a victory here. Montoya failed to score more than a point in their last match, and he will likely struggle on offense in this bout as well.
Prediction: Richard (Illinois) dec. Montoya (Nebraska)
141: No. 2 Bryce Meredith, Wyoming (91.61) vs. No. 4 Anthony Ashnault, Rutgers (91.36)
Fans will be talking about Meredith's run through the NCAA tournament for years to come. After entering the bracket as the 14th seed, he defeated the likes of No. 6 Kevin Jack (NC State), Micah Jordan (Ohio State) and No. 3 Joey McKenna (Stanford) to reach the finals.
Ashnault was on the other side of the bracket. He fell to eventual champion No. 1 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) in the semifinals before finishing fourth. During the season he also defeated fellow All-Americans Chris Mecate (Old Dominion) and No. 9 Randy Cruz (Lehigh).
This might end up being one of the closest matches of the event. Their WPEs are extremely close, and the statistical similarities do not stop there. Meredith went 13-5 in decisions, while Ashnault went 15-5. The Wyoming wrestler's average point differential in those matches, 1.78, which was only slightly better than Ashnault's 1.40.
Prediction: Meredith (Wyoming) dec. Ashnault (Rutgers)
149: No. 3 Lavion Mayes, Missouri (87.81) vs. No. 4 Anthony Collica, Oklahoma State (92.87)
These two wrestlers are very familiar with each other. They wrestled three times last season and six times overall. At the NCAA tournament Collica defeated Mayes 3-2 in the quarterfinals before falling to No. 2 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) in the semifinals. In the third place match, Mayes returned the favor and defeated Collica 3-2.
Mayes and Collica are clearly evenly matched. In their six career matches, they are both 3-3 with a fall. Collica has the edge in terms of WPE since he is a much more offensive wrestler. Of his 29 wins last season only nine came via decision, while Mayes picked up 19 decisions in 32 wins.
Prediction: Collica (Oklahoma State) dec. Mayes (Missouri)
157: No. 4 Brian Murphy, Michigan (58.32) vs. No. 5 Max Rohskopf, NC State (93.36)
Last year Murphy faced a very tough schedule. Of his 21 matches last season, seven were against eventual All-Americans. In those seven matches he went 1-6. His lone victory over a 2016 All-American came over No. 2 Dylan Palacio (Cornell) in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Rohskopf will drop down to 157 after spending last season at 165. At the higher weight, he went 16-4 and picked up pair of victories over All-American David McFadden (Virginia Tech) as well as Austin Wilson (Nebraska).
While Murphy has been able to keep it close against higher level competition, he has struggled outside of his one match with Palacio. Look for Rohskopf to start the season off with a solid win.
Prediction: Rohskopf (NC State) dec. Murphy (Michigan)
165: No. 2 Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin (95.75) vs. No. 3 Daniel Lewis, Missouri (93.84)
Jordan is dominant in close matches. Of his 30 matches last season, 17 went to decision. In those matches he went 16-1 with his only loss coming against eventual NCAA champion Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State). Dieringer was the only person to score more than five points against Jordan in a decision. The Wisconsin wrestler allowed only 2.35 points per match in decisions.
Lewis ended up finishing fourth at the NCAA tournament and earning All-American status. He went 2-5 against 2016 All-Americans with victories over Austin Wilson (Nebraska) and Steven Rodrigues (Illinois).
While Lewis can put up a lot of points from the top position, scoring against Jordan is one of the toughest tasks in college wrestling. Look for Lewis to make this a fight, but in the end, Jordan will be the one with his hand raised.
Prediction: Jordan (Wisconsin) dec. Lewis (Missouri)
174: No. 5 Ethan Ramos, North Carolina (85.80) vs. No. 9 Zac Brunson, Illinois (92.90)
Both Ramos and Brunson had strong starts to last season. However, neither was able to earn All-American honors in the end. Brunson has the advantage in terms of WPE mostly due to the fact that he scored nine falls last season, while Ramos only managed three. However, in a head-to-head matchup, Ramos will probably be able to control the tempo and take the decision victory.
Prediction: Ramos (North Carolina) dec. Brunson (Illinois)
184: No. 1 Gabe Dean, Cornell (95.92) vs. No. 2 Myles Martin, Ohio State (92.52)
This match will feature a pair of returning NCAA champions. Dean captured the 184-pound crown, while Martin took the title at 174. Dean suffered only one defeat last season, against No. 5 Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State). Against 2016 All-Americans he went 9-1 with three bonus point victories.
Martin entered the final tournament of the season as the 11th seed but ended up winning it all. In the finals, he defeated Bo Nickal (Penn State) for the first time after three losses. Martin also defeated 2016 All-Americans Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State), Nate Jackson (Indiana) and Casey Kent (Penn).
Prediction: Dean (Cornell) dec. Martin (Ohio State)
197: No. 2 Brett Pfarr, Minnesota (93.12) vs. No. 4 Brett Harner, Princeton (89.63)
Pfarr is the highest returning placer at this weight behind only Olympic bronze medalist No. 1 J'den Cox (Missouri). Last season he went 7-4 against 2016 All-Americans and scored bonus in 57 percent of his matches.
Harner finished eighth at the NCAA tournament and scored impressive victories over No. 7 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State) and Max Huntley (Michigan). However, he ended up going 0-3 against 2016 All-Americans.
Prediction: Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. Harner (Princeton)
285: No. 2 Ty Walz, Virginia Tech (81.13) vs. No. 3 Connor Medbery, Wisconsin (97.46)
With Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) having graduated and Adam Coon (Michigan) taking a redshirt year, it might look like things are lining up nicely for Walz. However, No. 1 Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) is still looming and Medbery is returning from a redshirt year. During the 2015 season, Medbery defeated Walz 2-1 in their only matchup of that season.
Prediction: Medbery (Wisconsin) dec. Walz (Virginia Tech)
*Medbery's WPE is based on the 2015 season
Richard Mann currently runs the data-driven MMA blog StrikeScoreMMA.com.