Kevin Smith Earns At-Large Bid to NCAA Tournament
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Redshirt Junior Kevin Smith became the sixth Buffalo Bulls wrestler to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament this season after earning an at-large bid during the selection process held Wednesday night. The draw was for the 50 possible wrestlers who did not earn an automatic qualification. The six Buffalo national qualifiers were the most since the Bulls joined the Mid American Conference.
The at-large selections were made by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee using the following selection criteria without priority order: head-to-head competition, qualifying event placement, quality wins, results against common opponents, winning percentage, rating percentage index (RPI), coaches ranking and number of matches contested at that weight class. The Mid American Conference earned five of the at-large bids and, in total, will send 23 wrestlers to the national tournament, to be held in Philadelphia, PA.
Smith led the team with 34 wins this season and will be making his second straight trip to the tournament. In his first round match up, he will face Thomas Mitchell of Liberty. Mitchell - a fellow redshirt junior - finished the season with a 15-10 record. The winner of the match will then face either number two overall seed Andrew Hochstrasser of Boise State or Missouri's Nathan McCormick.
At 141 pounds, Andrew Schutt earned his first trip to the national tournament after winning his bracket at the MAC championship. Coming in unseeded, the sophomore will face a tough first-round opponent in third-seeded Borislav Novachkov of Cal Poly. A redshirt junior, Novachkov lost only one match all season and finished with a 27-1 record. The winner of the match will face the winner of Lock Haven's Matthew Bronson or the winner of a play-in match between Levi Jones of Boise State or Hicks Manson of Cornell.
In the 149-pound bracket, Desi Green was rewarded with the twelfth seed by the committee and will look to use his high draw to make the All-American round in what will be his third straight appearance in the national tournament. He will first have to face Eric Terrazas of Illinois, who is a true junior who finished 24-9 for the season. The winner of that match will then take on either fifth seed Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State or Daniel Zilverberg of Minnesota.
Mark Lewandowski will try to maintain his recent hot streak in to the NCAA tournament after winning the 157-pound championship at the MAC championship. In the first round, the redshirt sophomore from Depew, NY will face Josh Condon of Chattanooga. A fellow redshirt sophomore, Condon went 24-6 during the regular season. The winner will face either Alex Medved of Gardner Webb, or fourth seeded Bubba Jenkins of Arizona State.
Fresh off a championship at 165 pounds and the honor of Most Outstanding Wrestler at the MAC Championship, junior John-Martin Cannon will need to keep his intense offensive productivity going in to the national tournament, his second appearance in as many years. After wrestling a challenging schedule in the regular season, it appears that Cannon could be ready to take the next step up on the national scene. Standing in his way will be Lehigh's Brandon Hatchett, a redshirt junior who was 17-9 overall this year. The winner will face either second seed Andrew Howe of Wisconsin or Ryan DesRoches of Cal Poly.
The final Bull making the trip to Philadelphia will be heavyweight Brett Correll, who earned one of the MAC's automatic qualifying bids after placing fourth at the conference tournament. As a whole, the MAC will send five of the six starting heavyweights to the national tournament. Correll will square off against eleventh seed Tucker Lane of Nebraska in the first round. Lane, a redshirt sophomore like Correll, finished the regular season with a 29-7 record.
The NCAA tournament will begin Thursday, Mar. 17 with the opening rounds in the morning before the second round is wrestled in the evening of that day. It will be a double-elimination tournament.