Thursday, March 20, 2008

Michigan in the 2008 NCAA Tournament (No, Seriously)

Ok, so there are other NCAA Tournaments that start today in St. Louis and in Columbus.

Let's start in St. Louis where #3 Michigan will be well represented in the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Tournament. One week removed from the Big 10 Championships where Michigan was the only team to post multiple champions, Michigan surged up in the national rankings and will look to improve on last year's 6th place team finish.

Russell (25-5) will be seeded #3 in the 141# weight class after his first place finish in the Big 10 Tournament. Russell is a true freshman out of the esteemed Blair Academy in New Jersey and has spent a few weeks holding the #1 ranking earlier this season. I like Russell to win it in the future, but he is too inexperienced for this year.
Predicted Finish: 4th place

Josh Churella (21-3) is the #5 seed in the 149# class as he looks to improve on his runner-up finish in last year's tournament. Churella has battled illness and injury towards the end of the season, so hopefully the extra week of rest has him back near 100%.
Predicted Finish: 3rd place

Jeff Marsh (21-12) will be unseeded as he earned his first NCAA berth with a fifth-place finish in the Big 10 Tournament last week. Marsh has wrestled well against top competition as he creeped into the top #25 after knocking off then #1-seeded Michael Poeta of Illinois earlier this year.
Predicted Finish: Does not place

Eric Tannenbaum (26-2) earned the #1 seed in the 165# bracket and is coming off his second career Big 10 title. Tannenbaum's toughest competition will come from Iowa's #1 ranked, but #2 seeded Mark Perry. The two wrestlers have split the four previous matches against one another with Tannenbaum taking the latest by a score of 3-2 in the Big 10 title match.
Predicted Finish: 2nd place

Steve Luke (25-2) is #2 seed in the 174# bracket. Luke took sixth place in last year's NCAA Championships but missed most of the season due to injury. He's healthy this year as he just won his second straight Big 10 crown. Luke is a tough wrestler as evidenced by his 26-minute marathon match in the Cliff Keen Invitational earlier this season when he just wouldn't stop bleeding. Luke lost that match in double overtime to #1 ranked and undefeated Keith Gavin of Pitt. The bracket is set up for a rematch of that classic match and I see Luke avenging the loss to take the National Championship.
Predicted Finish: 1st place

Tyrell Todd (21-3) is the #3 seed in the 184# weight class. Todd took second in the Big 10 Championships and he looks to improve on last year's 5th place finish at nationals. Looking at the bracket, Todd has a tough quarterfinals matchup should he meet #2 seeded and undefeated Mike Pucillo of Ohio State he pinned in last year's NCAA Championship 5th place match. Pucillo has defeated Todd twice this year, both by one-point margins. Most recently, Pucillo beat Todd 4-3 on a take-down with just 12 seconds left in the title match of the Big 10's. I look for Todd to get by Pucillo and reach the championship match.
Predicted Finish: 2nd place

Predicted Team Finish: 2nd place behind Iowa

#11 Women's Swimming/Diving will also begin action today in Columbus as they are led by Seniors Elyse Lee and Katie Skendrovic. Stephanie O'Callaghan, Jillian Drow, Erica LaBonté, and Caitlin Dunphy-Daly round up the Diving qualifiers.

Michigan is coming off a successful Big 10 Championship runner-up finish. Melissa Jaeger set a conference record in the 200-yd butterfly breaking her own record with a time of 1:56.25. Emily Brunemann, who was named Big 10 Swimmer of the Year, took first place in the 1,650-yard freestyle, winning by over 25 seconds! Her time of 15:51.29 shattered her previous school record by over nine seconds.

My swimming background is not quite as strong as my wrestling background, so this preview will be much shorter than wrestlings, and I'm not going to offer any predictions here. Check out MGOBLUE for better coverage. The NCAA also provides great coverage including live stats and video for wrestling and swimming/diving.

Ok, with some non-revenue sport coverage out of the way, let's sit back, relax and enjoy the madness of March. George/Xavier tips off a little under two hours!

Michigan will have four all-americans as Josh Churella and Tyrell Todd are still alive in the consolation bracket while Steve Luke and Eric Tannenbaum advanced to the Championship match which will be televised live on ESPN tomorrow night. Both should be excellent matches as Tannenbaum has a rematch from the Big 10 finals with Mark Perry of Iowa and Luke has his rematch with Gavin (I wish I was as good with my basketball bracket as I was with my wrestling predictions). Coverage starts at 7:30, Luke and Tannenbaum should be on around 8:15 or so. Michigan currently stands in 6th Place in the team standings but could definitely move up into the top three with a strong showing from the four wrestlers remaining.


Anonymous said...

As an avid supporter of the above sports I find it insulting that you list them under "posts that no one will actually read"

Stu said...

i'm obviously an avid supporter as well and I hope that people do read prove me wrong!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for updating a wrestling fan from your home state.