First let's answer your questions about the NCAA wrestling tournament
Where is it? The Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa
When is it? The tournament will be wrestled over three days, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the 21-23 of March. Wrestling will take place over six sessions, two per day, over the three days.
(all times are Central)
Thursday, March 21
• Session I at 11 a.m.
Session I will feature pigtails and the first round of the tournament, a ten mat orgy of wrestling with upsets galore.
• Session II at 6:30 p.m.
Session II includes the second round of the winners bracket.
Friday, March 22
• Session III at 10 a.m.
In this session you see the quarterfinals, where the rubber meets the road.
• Session IV at 6 p.m.
The best part of the tournament. This session consists of the semifinals and the round of 12, or blood round, which determines whether a wrestler achieves All American status.
Saturday, March 23
• Session V at 10 a.m.
Everyone who survives to day three is an All American (top eight in their weight). Session V wrestles out the consolation bracket and resolves places 3-8.
• Session VI at 7 p.m.
The finals, where champions are made.
ESPN3.com will provide live streams of sessions I-V. The first four sessions are contested on eight mats, the ESPN coverage will film four, which is pretty nice. Sessions III-V will also be aired on ESPNU. Lastly, ESPN, the mothership, will broadcast the finals on your television.
The NCAA championships feature ten weights, each with a 32 man bracket. The Tournament is double elimination, those who lose drop from the championship bracket to the consolation bracket. Those in the consolation bracket wrestle to the consolation finals, for third and fourth place. All those who lose in the consolation semifinals will wrestle for fifth and sixth place, and those who lose in the consolation quarter finals will wrestle for seventh and eighth place. If a wrestler loses twice before the consolation quarters, he is then eliminated.
I will not go into details about how team points are awarded, but each wrestler earns a certain number of team points based by winning, advancing, pinning, tech falling (winning by 15 or more match points), or majoring (winning by eight or more match points).
Matches consist of three periods, the first is three minutes, the second two are two minutes. Two points for a take down or reversal, one point for escape, 2-3 points at a time for prolonged back exposure (nearfall). Pins and technical falls end the match. Tied matches go to overtime and then ride-out tie breakers. I'm not going to discuss the tie breaker procedures for brevity's sake.
Penn State wrestling club has some sort of numbers whiz among them who runs a nifty little service which tracks the team scores in the tournament, determines the maximum possible team points for a team throughout the tournament, and determines whether a team had been mathematically eliminated from championship contention. This is awesome and can be found here. This site also provides live brackets as well as calculations of team points accrued by each individual wrestler. In short, it is a statistical dream.
Scores and matches will also be tracked in real time on Trackwrestling here. Use this to figure out which wrestler will be coming up on each mat.
Old fashioned, boring brackets in PDF form can be found here.
This year, due to the anticipated finals match between Kyle Dake and David Taylor, the NCAA has seen fit to hold the 165 pound last in this finals. The finals will start at 174, run through heavyweight, resume at 125, and then hopefully end at 165 in a climactic clash of wrestling titans.
174-Wide open weight where anything can happen.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Oklahoma State's Chris Perry and Penn States Matt Brown will almost certainly wrestle a nail biter of the match with lots of head clubbing and little shooting.
Keep an eye on: Minnesota's Logan Storley looked like he would be the 1st seed until he was derailed by a bad day at the Big Ten tournament. He's dropped to the 6th seed, but has pinned both top seeds this season, he's dangerous.
184- A weight where the winner is a foregone conclusion.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Penn State's Ed Ruth will lay a comfortable beating on Central Michigan's Ben Bennett.
Keep an eye on: I'm really impressed with Maryland's 7th seeded Jimmy Sheptock, he's damn good, and built like a brick shithouse.
197- Two national champions on a collision course.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: One of the greatest stylistic match ups ever. My favorite wrestler maybe ever, Penn State's Quinten Wright will bring his enormous bag of zany moves to bear against Dustin Kilgore. Kilgore, Unfortunately for Wright, is a monster and will probably prove too much even for Wright's ingenuity. Both these guys were previously national champs.
Keep an eye on: Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez, he is the only wrestler to threaten Kilgore this year and will probably see him in the semis.
285- Oh please let there be a little bit of offense.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Not much. Minnesota's Tony Nelson and Missouri's Dom Bradley will probably hold a glorified staring contest.
Keep an eye on: Exciting , fun to watch heavyweights like Northwestern's Mike McMullan and Oklahoma State's Alan Gelogaev.
125- Don't blink, these kids are fast.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Missouri's Alan Waters and Illinois Jesse Delgado will do plenty of shooting, but little scoring. Expect lots of dogfights from a head inside low lift and scrambling a plenty.
Keep an eye on: 2 time champ and and 3 time finalist Matt McDonough of Iowa has taken some tough losses this season, but he is still a champion and he lurks as the third seed. In an odd series of coincidences, he was mentioned twice on Deadspin in the last week. I know, weird...right?
133- Two wrestlers stand head and shoulders above the pack.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: High levels of respect between Ohio State's Logan Stieber and Iowa's Tony Ramos. Expect Stieber to earn national title number two by hitting the deciding take down a bit earlier than he did in their Big Ten finals match, which ended in overtime.
Keep an eye on: Central Michigan's Scotti Sentes, he hasn't looked amazing this year, but he placed high two years ago and is capable of serious bracket busting.
141- One thing is for certain at this weight, a new champion will be crowned.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Expect some incredible, majestic wrestling from Oklahoma's Kendrick Maple and Ohio State's Hunter Stieber. Both wrestle with offense and grace.
Keep an eye on: The Citadel's Ugi Khishignyam, the Mongolian sensation looking to become his school's second All American.
149- Looks like an old champion will retake his throne.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Pure, clean, and clinical wrestling from Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver. He's one of the most fun wrestlers to watch in the nation and he'll get a good go from the very classy Jason Chamberlain of Boise State.
Keep an eye on: Another Minnesota Golden Gopher who is under-seeded. Big Ten champ Dylan Ness looks to do some damage from the sixth seed.
157- Another weight where anything could happen.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Lots of fingers to the face from Iowa's Dan St, John, with neither he nor Northwestern's Jason Welch doing much until late in the match.
Keep an eye on: Penn State's Dylan Alton hasn't had a banner year, but he found a nice spot in the bracket to make a run from.
165- Featuring possibly the most meaningful match in college wrestling history.
What we'll see if the two top seeds meet: Not much scoring, but the greatest achievement in college wrestling history as Cornell's Kyle Dake edges Penn State's David Taylor to become the first to win four national championships without a red shirt, and the first to do it in four weight classes.
Keep an eye on: not much else to see here.
Probable Team Score
Penn State will win the team championship, Minnesota will get second, and Oklahoma State and Iowa will duke it out for third.
Proper Beverage Selection For The NCAA Wrestling Finals
I was thinking a big and snappy IPA, I might go with my old stand by, Torpedo. It never lets me down and really is a great value considering its grain build. If something else jumps out at me on the shelves, I might go a different direction. I'm open to suggestions, seeing as it's a special occasion, I'd be willing to splurge on a more expensive six pack.