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NCAA Preview – Oklahoma

Link to Brackets

After their low Big 12 finish the Sooners unfortunately didn’t get any luck with At-Large bids. I thought wrestlers like Cael Carlson and Tate Picklo had a good shot at getting one but the best spot is Carlson at the first alternate spot for if someone drops out of the bracket. The team has Stephen Buchanan in the top eight and Josh Heindselman with a chance to make the bloodround. If they can get some points from their lower seeded wrestlers then the team could push back into the top 25 for the first time since 2021.  Here’s a look at the team’s draws, projections, and opportunity to find upsets. 

133lbs: 29 Seed – Jace Koelzer (15-12)

First Round Match: 4 Seed; #6 Dylan Shawver (22-5) (Rutgers)

After getting some upsets at Big 12’s Koelzer has found himself in his second NCAA tournament with a tough draw. His first opponent is Big 10 champ Dylan Shawver, who is in his first year at 133 after making the round of 16 in 2022 at 125. 

I have Koelzer dropping that match and seeing the loser of 13 seed Kurt Phipps (Bucknell) vs 20 seed Tyler Wells (Minnesota). Phipps was 4th at EIWA’s while Wells DNP’d at Big 10’s with a medical forfeit. Wells is a true freshman who hasn’t always been consistent and Koezler could potentially make something happen there but Phipps tends to be relatively consistent. If Koelzer can get even one win, that’d be a plus for the Sooners. 

Prediction: DNP

149lbs: 21 Seed – #17 Willie McDougald (14-8)

First Round Match: 12 Seed; #10 Ethen Miller (17-7) (Maryland)

McDougald had a great seed headed into Big 12’s but a disappointing finish and inconsistent season has him outside the top 16 this season. His first match is a tough one with Ethen Miller, a two-time qualifier who finished 4th at Big 10’s. Miller is a physical wrestler who will be ready for McDougald’s underhook and pressure. He can fade at times late in matches but McDougald hasn’t necessarily shown the offense this year to push as hard as needed. 

I have him dropping that match and immediately seeing the loser between Logan Gioffre (Missouri) and Ty Watters (West Virginia). Gioffre beat him in overtime in the dual this season while McDougald beat Watters early this year but Watters is looking like one of the hottest freshmen of the year. McDougald is a veteran and can certainly flip a result here, but the odds are against him. I have him going…

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