Top-seeded 174 lber Mekhi Lewis (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
2023 ACC Conference Preview
64 total allocations/58 in 2022
Where: Raleigh, North Carolina (NC State University)
How to Watch: ACC Network/ACC Network Extra
It's our final preview! The ACC Tournament will take place on Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina. This tournament has become one of my favorites because of the excitement that it routinely generates. Though the tournament only consists of six teams, it features teams that continue to improve. Three of the conference teams are in InterMat's top-15 tournament rankings (#5 Virginia Tech, #10 NC State, and #15 Pittsburgh).
This tournament tends to be so exciting because of its small nature. A first-round upset can change the course of the rest of the tournament. The ACC tournament also rarely goes as expected. We'll see how this theory fares since there were fewer seeding conundrums than usual.
The home team, NC State, will be shooting for their fifth straight ACC Championship. The Wolfpack feature a lineup with no holes from top to bottom. Despite losing a large senior class in 2022, Pat Popolizio's team continues to chug along.
Virginia Tech also has a team that features all ten wrestlers in the national rankings. As of now, it looks like the Hokies have more big-tournament firepower. Can it hold up at a six-team tournament?
Pittsburgh shocked Virginia Tech in dual action and has a pair of wrestlers that have been ranked #1 nationally during the 2022-23 season. This is their time to shine with a high-octane senior class.
North Carolina was expected to challenge the top-three teams in the league, but have been hit hard with injuries. The Tar Heels still have perhaps the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the conference and a handful of wrestlers that could do damage at NCAA's.
Virginia also has been bitten by the injury bug. The Cavaliers have plenty of young talent and should be a factor for the title in the very near future.
Duke has struggled inside and outside of the ACC, but they do have the top seed at heavyweight.
Below is our weight-by-weight preview of the action, along with predictions for top-four finishers at all ten weights and a team race projection. Wrestlers bolded are the ones we have pegged to receive automatic qualifying bids at their respective weight classes.
This is a bit of a weird weight for the ACC. Two NCAA bids are available; however, none of the wrestlers competing are currently ranked higher than 22nd. That is Jarrett Trombley (NC State) who takes the top seed. Trombley started the year off slowly, losing his first three bouts, but adjusted to the new weight and hit his stride in conference dual season. He's the only wrestler in the ACC without a conference loss, though he did not face UNC's Jack Wagner. Wagner is a graduate transfer from Northern Iowa who has thrived at what has been a difficult-to-fill weight class for the Tar Heels. Wagner has a pair of losses to both of Virginia Tech's options at the weight. Eventually, it was Eddie Ventresca who will get the call for the Hokies and gets the second seed. Ventresca's only conference loss was in sudden victory to Trombley.
Pittsburgh veteran Colton Camacho spent time in the rankings and was the spark behind the Panthers upset win at Virginia Tech. His : 44-second pin over Cooper Flynn set the tone for Keith Gavin's team. Camacho was on the negative side of a pair of shootout losses to Trombley and Wagner, but he did demonstrate the ability to score points. Camacho will see two-time NCAA qualifier Patrick McCormick (Virginia) in the opening round in the 4 vs. 5 matchup. McCormick held a 6-4 record heading into the Midlands but has struggled ever since.
Meeting Wagner in the opening round is Duke's Ethan Grimminger. The two did not meet in the regular season, but Grimminger is 0-8 having surrendered bonus points in seven of those matches.
With five at-large berths available nationally, I'd expect the third-place finisher to get a berth, barring some sort of crazy weekend at the other conferences. Maybe two, but that may be pushing it.
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