Virginia Tech Wrestlers Going for Third Straight ACC Championship

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Ryan Blees ACC Wrestling Championship
The ACC Wrestling Championship is expected to come down to Virginia Tech and NC State, but anything can happen in tournament wrestling. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

The 2019 ACC Wrestling Championship is this Saturday in Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech is aiming for something that hasn’t been done in 20 years: three ACC championships in a row.

From 1997-2000, North Carolina won four straight championships, but no other school has won more than two in a row since then. The Hokies have won the last two (2017 and 2018) and four out of the last six (including wins in 2013 and 2014), but they’ll have to fight off some stout competition, particularly from North Carolina State, to win their third in a row.

2019 ACC Wrestling Championship

Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019 (one day)

Location: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg

Tickets: $10 (buy tickets here), free for kids 18 and under (students free with ID

Seating: General admission seating, exit and re-entry allowed

More information: ACC Wrestling Championship Home Page, theacc.com

Brackets with Seeds: Click here

WatchESPN: Mat 1 stream | Mat 2 stream

Schedule:

Structure of the Tournament

Here’s how the tournament works: There are ten weight classes, and each of the ACC’s six schools gets one entry per weight class (60 wrestlers total).

Wrestlers in each weight class are seeded 1-6. Interesting note: the seeding was done by the ACC coaches.

As an example, here’s the 165-pound bracket, where Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis is the No. 1 seed:

Seeds 1 and 2 get a first round bye.

In the first round, seeds 4 and 5 wrestle, and seeds 3 and 6 wrestle. The winners advance to the semi-finals to face seeds 1 and 2 respectively. The losers drop down into a consolation bracket.

From there, each bracket (winner’s bracket and consolation bracket) wrestles in elimination format. The two wrestlers in the final of the winner’s bracket place No. 1 and No. 2 in their weight class, and the winner of the consolation bracket finishes No. 3.

All ten weight classes wrestle in this fashion, crowning champions and consolation bracket winners.

There will be two mats on the Cassell Coliseum floor, with matches going on simultaneously. There will be a total of 81 matches on the day, and that determines the order in which the matches will occur. In the 165-pound weight class example above, the round 1 matches are 11 and 12 in the 11 AM session, with the semi-finals occurring as matches 31 and 32 in the 1 PM session. The 165-pound final will be match No. 71, and it will happen during the 7 PM session.

Here’s the entire bracket in PDF form, with all 81 matches listed.

David McFadden Virginia Tech
David McFadden is one of three top-seeded Virginia Tech wrestlers. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Seeding Breakdown

Here’s where the Hokie wrestlers are seeded for the 2019 ACC Wrestling Championship:

  • 125-pound class: Joey Prata, No. 3
  • 133: Korbin Myers, No. 4
  • 141: Mitch Moore, No. 2
  • 149: Ryan Blees, No. 4
  • 157: B.C. LaPrade, No. 3
  • 165: Mekhi Lewis, No. 1
  • 174: David McFadden, No. 1
  • 184, Zack Zavatsky, No. 1
  • 197: Tom Sleigh, No. 2
  • 285 (Hwt): Billy Miller, No. 3

In the ten weight classes, Virginia Tech has three No. 1 seeds, more than any other school. Here are the No. 1 seeds:

  • 125-pound class: Jack Mueller, UVA
  • 133: Micky Phillippi, Pittsburgh
  • 141: Jamel Morris, NC State
  • 149: Mitch Finesilver, Duke
  • 157: Hayden Hidlay, NC State
  • 165: Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
  • 174: David McFadden, Virginia Tech
  • 184, Zack Zavatsky, Virginia Tech
  • 197: Jay Aiello, UVA
  • 285 (Hwt): Cory Daniel, UNC

Here’s a table showing all seeds in all weight classes, by school.

2019 ACC Wrestling Seeds by School
Weight1 Seed2 Seed3 Seed4 Seed5 Seed6 Seed
125
133
141
149
157
165
174
184
197
285/Hwt

The Hokies have five wrestlers seeded No. 1 or No. 2, more than any other school.

You can see that Virginia Tech is seeded higher at the higher weight classes. Since the lower weight classes wrestle first, the Hokies will tend to run behind in team scoring, then gain points as the higher weight classes wrestle in each session.

Zack Zavatsky Virginia Tech
Zack Zavatsky (184 pounds) is one of the top wrestlers in his weight class in the country, not just the ACC. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Scoring

We won’t get into the intricacies of scoring in this preview, but based solely on seeding, the Hokies are the tournament favorites.

If there are no upsets and no major decisions or falls/pins (which lead to extra points), the final scoring would be (per “nvpbrown” on our Wrestling Message Board):

  • VT 77.5
  • NCSU 69.5
  • UNC 46
  • Pitt 42.5
  • UVA 36.5
  • Duke 28

For nvpbrown’s full breakdown of scoring, see this post on the wrestling board. Note that we don’t vouch for the correctness of the data in the post (and there’s more discussion later in that thread), but if you’re a novice, the post is a good general guide to how scoring works.

The key for any team is to avoid upsets, wrestle to your seed, and try to pull off an upset or score bonus points (via major decision, tech fall, or fall/pin) along the way.

Billy Miller Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech’s Billy Miller should qualify for the NCAA’s, but he’ll have to at least wrestle to his seeding (No. 3) at the ACC Wrestling Championship to get an auto-bid. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

NCAA Tournament Berths Up for Grabs

In an interesting wrinkle that adds excitement to the affair, some wrestlers in each weight class will automatically qualify for the upcoming NCAA Wrestling Championships, based on where they finish in the weight class.

For example, the top four wrestlers in the 133-pound class will receive automatic NCAA bids. So, though Virginia Tech’s Korbin Myers is “only” seeded fourth in that class out of six wrestlers, he needs to wrestle to his seeding in order to earn the automatic NCAA bid.

The NCAA will hand out at-large bids to round out the field, but much like in NCAA basketball, it’s best to just qualify automatically, and not leave it up to a committee to decide your fate.

Here’s a table showing the number of NCAA auto-bids per ACC weight class, and the seeding of the VT wrestler in that weight class:

ACC Wrestling NCAA Auto-Bids
Wt Class (# of Bids)VT Seed
125 (2 bids)No. 3, Joey Prata
133 (4 bids)No. 4, Korbin Myers
141 (4 bids)No. 2, Mitch Moore
149 (4 bids)No. 4, Ryan Blees
157 (4 bids)No. 3, B.C. LaPrade
165 (4 bids)No. 1, Mekhi Lewis
174 (3 bids)No. 1, David McFadden
184 (5 bids)No. 1, Zack Zavatsky
197 (4 bids)No. 2, Tom Sleigh
285/Hwt (3 bids)No. 3, Billy Miller

Based strictly on seeding, if there are no upsets, Virginia Tech should automatically qualify nine wrestlers for the NCAA Championship. Joey Prata will need an upset or two to automatically qualify.

We’ll see you Saturday in Cassell Coliseum! If you’re not going to be there, remember to use the WatchESPN links for Mat 1 and Mat 2 to follow the action, and check out the discussion our Wrestling Message Board.

 

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6 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. One thing to note here is that my scoring excludes bonus points, but you can earn up to 2 points per match for beating your opponent badly. The best opportunity for those points is for the #3 seed going up against the #6 seed (i.e., worst wrestler in the ACC). NCSU has five #3 seeds while we only have two. Bonus points there could be significant.

  2. Another helpful piece of information regarding auto-bids. Generally the NCAA grants 27 to 29 autobids across the conferences for allocations. With 33 in each weight class going to NCAAs, that means that there are 4 to 6 left over for at-large selections after conference tournaments end —- very few. So if you do not wrestle to seed (Myers and Miller examples above) and you are not one of the best out there, you are at risk.

  3. Thanks for the recap. I was wondering about the strength of the team since it seemed like the lower weight classes weren’t doing as well.

    1. The lower weights have been inconsistent. Myers (133) beat the #2 wrestler in the Country (#1 in the ACC) handily but then has lost more than his fair share of head scratchers. M. Moore is a true freshman and has shown glimpses of greatness mixed with inexperience. At 125, we knew this would be a weakness and it started out that way but Prata has been impressive the past 4-6 weeks.

      I expected more from Blees at 149. Again, inconsistent and has tended to wrestle to the level of his opponents at times instead of dictating the pace and being more offensive.

      BC at 156…just needs to get over that hump. He has wrestled very good this year and has had his chances against higher ranked guys but needs to win a few more consistently and finish out the 7 minutes.

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