On Wednesday night, the NCAA announced seeding for the 2016 NCAA Championships and unveiled the brackets for the national tournament, which begins next Thursday at Madison Square Gardens in New York City.
Brett Pfarr is the highest-seeded Gopher going into the tournament, landing on the three line at 197 pounds. He will open against Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State). In the dual against the Cowboys earlier this year, Pfarr and Weigel did not wrestle. Instead, Pfarr defeated Jordan Rogers, 16-5. Taking a wider view of the Pfarr’s bracket, he holds a robust 14-3 edge against his competition for the 197-pound title this season, a record that includes six wins over top-ten seeds.
Last season, Michael Kroells earned his first career All-America honor after beginning the NCAA Championships seeded ninth at heavyweight. Kroells will start his 2016 tournament from the same position – the ninth seed. He has never previously wrestled opening round opponent, Mauro Correnti (Rider). A win in that bout could set up a rubber match in his series with Max Wessell (Lehigh). Wessell defeated Kroells, 10-9, at Northeast Duals last November, a defeat Kroells avenged with a 6-4 win in sudden victory overtime in a consolation semifinal match at the Southern Scuffle. Including that split with Wessell, Kroells is 10-7 against the 285-pound field.
Tommy Thorn is the only other seeded Gopher for next week’s competition. He’s seeded 11th at 141 pounds and will take on unseeded Nicholas Gil (Navy) in the opening round. Thorn defeated Gil, 3-2, in the third round of the Southern Scuffle earlier this season. A victory over Gil could set up a rematch of the third-place bout from last weekend’s Big Ten tournament, where Thorn took on Micah Jordan (Ohio State). Against the entirety of the 141-pound field, Thorn posted a 13-8 record this season.
Nick Wanzek is unseeded and will wrestle out of the bottom half of the 174-pound bracket, beginning 11th seed Myles Martin (Ohio State). Wanzek was combined 5-6 against the wrestlers across the 174 field, but has only one match against any of the competition in his quadrant of the bracket, an 8-4 win over Phil Bakuckas (Rutgers). If both unseeded wrestlers have the same result (win or loss) in the opening round, they will face each other again in New York City.
Minnesota’s lone at-large entry into the field, Jake Short, will open his tournament against Big Ten rival and fifth seed Alec Pantaleo (Michigan). Short and Pantaleo have met once during their collegiate careers, an 8-4 win for Pantaleo last year during a dual in Minneapolis. Not counting an injury default that began a nearly one-month absence from the lineup, Short posted a 5-6 mark against the rest of the 149-pounders in this year’s NCAA tournament.
2016 NCAA DI National Championships Brackets
The NCAA Championships will begin at 11 a.m. Central on Thursday (March 17) with pigtail and opening round matches. The tournament will continue through Thursday, Friday and into Saturday, when the competition will end with the championship finals, starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
ESPN will broadcast every match of the 2016 NCAA Championships. Fans can choose any mat to stream live via the WatchESPN app. Traditional broadcast coverage for Sessions I, II, III and V will be available on ESPNU, while Sessions IV and VI will be televised on ESPN on Friday and Saturday night.
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