IF ‘its,’ ‘ands,’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts…

Posted: March 17, 2012 in March Madness
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Yes, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.

So imagine what it would be like if we did have odds on the Division I College Wrestling Finals, to generate more popularity toward the sport, to generate revenue and income for sports books and to create exhilaration for sports bettors. I mean, if the Kentucky Derby is “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” these college championship matches could very well be “the most exciting 9 seconds-to-seven minutes in sports.”

So let’s play dress-up before Saturday night’s championship matches, which will be televised on ESPN at 4:30 p.m. pacific. Let’s pretend there is betting on the sport; these would be my betting previews/projected odds/picks for the 2012 Finals.

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Enjoy:

125-pound championship 1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. 10 Nico Megaludis (Penn State)

McDonough is in his third straight national final, and is looking to win for a second time. He last year he was on the losing end of one of the biggest stories in sports for 2011, as Anthony Robles stole the hearts of America when he entered the arena on one leg and his crutches. Now Robles is in the broadcast booth, and McDonough is back in the finals. He faces 10th-seeded Megaludis, a freshman who wrestles with tenacity that can’t be taught. This kid has been stellar all week turning around a rather mediocre season regular season. Megaludis ignited Penn State’s run this week, with upset triumphs in both the quarters and semis. An oddsmaker wouldn’t know any better, and would likely make McDonough a -200 favorite, but Megaludis has the potential to be the first national champion of the night.

MY PICK – I am a lover of the underdog, and as impressive as McDonough’s approach has been throughout this event, as a gamblin’ man, I’d take a shot with this underdog for a major upset to kick off this event.

133-pound championship 1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State) vs. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State)

In what could very well be ‘thee’ match of the evening, Oliver is going after his second straight title, looking to duplicate the same feat UFC welterweight contender Johny Hendricks did at the 165-pound class for Oklahoma State six years ago. Oliver has been impressive all week, reecording three first-round pins in his first three matches. He’ll meet No. 2 seed Logan Stieber, another freshman phenom that has made headlines all week. Though Oliver has already beaten Stieber once this year, roughly one month ago, and you’d think he has the psychological edge, Stieber has made it too far to collapse at this point. Oddsmakers would likely make Oliver a -160 favorite, but Stieber isn’t going to be taken down that easily.

MY PICK – In what I think will be one of the three best matches of the night, I have to side with Oliver in this one, thinking he will be able hold off Stieber in a close match that goes right to the end.

141-pound championship 1 Kellen Russell (Michigan) vs. 3 Montell Marion (Iowa)

A couple of familiar names meet in this national championship, with Russell looking to defend his title. It won’t be easy against a three-time, final-four qualifier in Marion. While it’s true Russell has beaten Marion three times during their collegiate careers, including a battle in last year’s tournament, the revenge-factor kicks in with this one. You really never know what to expect from Marion, and when he’ll come alive. He’s a thoroughbred that loves to close down the backstretch, saving everything for the 3rd round. The odds-on favorite, no doubt, is Russell – probably a -125 favorite – as he’s looking to bring back to back championships back to Ann Arbor, but if he doesn’t score a lot of points, or take care of Marion early, look for an eventful two minutes in the third period.

MY PICK – Marion scares me, I’m not going to lie; this kid takes so long to get going, yet his methodical approach gets him through every time. My money would be on the underdog here, hoping he comes alive in the 3rd peroid, in true Montell fashion.

149-pound championship 1 Frank Molinaro (Penn State) vs. 7 Dylan Ness (Minnesota)

Kudos to Ness for getting this far, he’s been impressive over his first four wins, specifically his quarterfinal-upset of Oklahoma State’s Jamal Parks, seeded second in this weight class, and expected to challenge Molinaro for the title. Ness had other plans and took a 3-2 decision to get into the semis, where he took care of Pittsburgh’s Tyler Nauman. But now that he’s gotten three-quarters of the way up this steep hill, this is where he hits rough terrain. Penn State’s Molinaro improves every time he competes in this event, progressing from 9th place as a freshman, 7th place as a sophomore and 2nd place last year. This year he’s in the final match and is undefeated. And if you haven’t watched him yet, he’s a beast. Ness has already lost three times to Molinaro this season alone, oddsmakers would make Molinaro a -400 favorite in this one.

MY PICK – Steep price to pay, but all Molinaro here. This guy has worked way too hard to not pull this one off, and he should be able to get Ness, possibly even by pin.

157-pound championship 1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. 2 Derek St. John (Iowa)

Call me naive, but Dake should be considered a leading candidate for Most Outstanding Wrestler. The 5-foot-9 junior from Cornell – yes, he has another year left for the Big Red – is another undefeated top seed who has run roughshod through the competition with ease. Three pins and a 4-0 decision in the semis. Now he’s on the verge of winning three straight D-I titles in three different weight classes, and he’s the odds-on favorite after winning the 141-pound division as a freshman, the 149-pound division as a sophomore and now has his sights set on the 157-pound division. Only one person stands in his way, and that is Iowa’s St. John, who has muddled his way to the finals after majoring his first opponent, 9-1. From there it was an 8-4 decision, a 3-1 overtime win and a 5-1 decision in the semis over third-seeded Jason Welch. All that being said, this may be a clash of the top two seeds, but Dake is in a class of his own, and oddsmakers would easily make him a -190 favorite.

MY PICK – Another great match that could be one of the top three of the night, but I have to side with Dake. This kid is a beast, and just wears you down on the mat. Dake will win here.

165-pound championship 1 David Taylor (Penn State) vs. 11 Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh)

Talk about an uphill battle, Hatchett is going to have to dig down deep into his basketball-counterparts’ underdog prowess to pull this one out. Just because Lehigh upended Duke on the basketball court last night, doesn’t mean it’s possible when you’re taking on a kid like Taylor, who is out to avenge last year’s loss to Arizona State’s Bubba Jenkins. Though Hatchett has been one of the surprises of the tournament, and is the biggest seed to make it to the finals, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to finish this fairy tale. I’ve spoken highly about several wrestlers, but arguably the most impressive wrestler of the tournament so far has been Penn State’s Taylor, who has been on the mat a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds to defeat his four opponents – all by pins. I’m not going to say it’s impossible for Hatchett – after all, he’s outscored his four foes by a cumulative final of 26-9, including a 7-3 decision over Iowa State’s Andrew Sorenson, the No. 3 seed – but Taylor has been labeled as a “future Olympic champion.” Oddsmakers would easily have Taylor installed as a -350 favorite.

MY PICK – Another big price to pay with another Penn State wrestler, but Taylor is not going to get stuck for a second year in a row, like Jenkins did to him last year. Hats off to Hatchett, but the Cinderella run ends here.

174-pound championship 1 Edward Ruth (Penn State) vs. 3 Nick Amuchasteg (Stanford)

A battle of unbeatens in this one, in what should be a scrap to the very end. Many people tune in from the start and start to veer by the time the 165s roll around. True wrestling fans know these later weight classes can be brawls, and this is a match you should be glued to. Top-seeded Ruth was dominant through his matches to get here, scoring first-round pins in his first two matches, then an 11-4 decision in the quarters and a 17-1 tech-fall victory over Minnesota’s Logan Storley. Talk about dominating, the Golden Gophers were ranked No. 1 as a team for some time, and are No. 2 in the team standings, but Ruth blew through Storley very easily. As for Amuchastegui, he’s here after an emotional 3-2 overtime win versus highly touted Chris Perry, from Oklahoma State. And make note, Amuchastegui fell one win short last year, but did defeat Ruth on his way through the bracket. So even though the Nittany Lion is the top seed, Amuchastegui will consider anything less than a championship a failure to the season. Ruth, on the other hand, is not only looking for Gold, but revenge as well. Oddsmakers would make Ruth a slim 115 favorite here.

MY PICK – This is going to be a war, and a match I cannot wait to see. This is going to be such a good match, if there was one I wouldn’t wager on, it’d be this one. But I have to make a choice for my readers, so I’m laying the price with the revenge factor and would take Ruth.

184-pound championship 4 Steve Bosak (Cornell) vs. 6 Quentin Wright (Penn State)

It took seven matches, but here in the eighth of the championship round, we have a pair of wrestlers who aren’t seeded in the top three, as both made their way through tough competition. That alone should make this a great match, as it’s the only final that won’t involve a first- or second-seed. That beind said, we do have a defending champion taking the mat, as Wright is a returning titlist from 2011. And make note, he actually had a better regular season this year than he did last year, when he was seeded 9th in his bracket. Though he’s the sixth-seed, and Bosak if the fourth seed, I have to believe Wright might be a slight favorite here. After all, as the 9-seed last year he made his way through the bracket and won it all. This year he’s seeded sixth and he’s right back in it. Bosak finished fourth last season, so maybe that played in consideration with his seeding, after how he finished his campaign this year. He has won one more match than he did last year, and I’m sure he’s wanting to represent Big Red, but Wright is going to be not only wrestling for a title, but to put the exclamation point on a team title for Penn State. Also, Wright defeated Bosak handidly earlier this season. Revenge factor? Eh… I think the oddsmakers make Wright a -115 choice.

MY PICK – Couple of wrestlers looking to make a name for themselves, and I have to go with the lower-seed. Whenever you have – in any sport – a lower seed listed as the favorite, the oddsmakers are clearly telling you who is going to win. Wright gets the win here.

197-pound championship 1 Cam Simaz (Cornell) vs. 2 Christopher Honeycutt (Edinboro)

Our final battle that pits the top two seeds, and only one that does not involve a Big 10 wrestler. Leading the charge is Cornell’s Cam Simaz, who has finally gotten over the hump after finishing third the last two years in the collegiate championships. Simaz is 30-1 coming into the final, and is a four-time all-American out of Michigan. Honeycutt, from Edinboro, a four-year university located in Northwestern Pennsylvania, is 40-1 and avenged his only loss of the season by knocking off Pittsburgh’s Matthew Wilps, 6-3 in overtime, in the semis. After spending his entire career at 184 pounds, the redshirt senior would love nothing more than to culminate a rather fulfilling career with a championship at 197. As even as this match could be, we might be looking at a match where the oddsmakers would have their only pick’em bout, at -110 apiece.

MY PICK – You know what, I’m taking the lower seed in this one, just because he’s going to want to put his school on the map in this event. Look for Honeycutt to pull this one out for Edinboro pride.

Heavyweight championship 4 Zachery Rey (Lehigh) vs. 2 Tony Nelson (Minnesota)

In the final match, the heavyweight bout, Rey comes in as the No. 4 seed, though he is the defending champion and looked every bit like one in the semifinals, defeating top-seeded Ryan Flores, from American U., in the semis. Rey, another Lehigh-product looking to feed off some momentum from the basketball team that knocked off March-behemoth Duke last night, won close matches all the way to the semis, before dispatching of Flores, 6-2. He takes on the No. 2 seed from Minnesota, who has shown progress from a year ago, when he finished seventh. On the flipside of what Rey did in his first four matches, Nelson made quick work of his first three opponents, and then eked out a 4-3 decision over Oregon State’s Clayton Jack, the No. 3 seed. Nelson was an all-American as a sophomore in 2011, but again, Rey is the defending champ and has found a knack for winning the tough ones. The oddsmakers would lean toward Rey here, making him a -115 favorite.

MY PICK – Finally in this last match, I’m taking the favorite, which is the lower seed. I think Rey will defend his championship successfully, adding a little highlight reel for his Lehigh counterparts on the hardwood, giving them some momentum for their game tomorrow against Xavier.

Again, all information pertaining to odds/sports betting is for entertainment purposes only.

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Comments
  1. Eye Floaters says:

    Awesome games, but North Carolina looks like the best tourny team left. G’Town dissapoints again!!!

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