We've gone through every weight class, broken down every bracket, made our predictions, and even let fans of the top teams have their say. There is just one major question left to answer about the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships which start Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio. Who will win? All season it has looked like a battle between Penn State, winners of six of the last seven national titles, and Ohio State, who won the other one in that span, taking the crown in 2015. The last time two schools combined to win eight consecutive DI championships it was Minnesota ending a six-year Iowa run from 1995 through 2000 by claiming titles in 2001 and 2002. Just as they did last season, the Buckeyes claimed the Big Ten tournament title. A year ago in St. Louis, the Nittany Lions were able to flip that result behind five national champions, three of whom did not win conference titles two weeks prior. A lot can happen over three days in March. We'll go weight-by-weight looking at projected points from seeds, expected points, including bonus, based on our predictions, and look at the key spots where the championship could be won or lost.
The two keys for Tomasello are score bonus early and beat Spencer Lee (Iowa) in the semifinals. His opening round opponent, Gabe Townsell (Stanford), can be stingy on defense, not having given up more than seven points since moving back down to 125. However, he hasn't faced an opponent like Tomasello during that stretch. If the three-time national top three finisher can get rolling in that one and separate from either Ryan Millhof (Arizona State) or Christian Moody (Oklahoma) in round two, he should head to the quarters with at least two bonus points. With a Hawkeye likely looming in the semifinals for the third year in a row, it is important to note the difference between first and third is six placement points and half a point in advancement. The impact of a semifinal loss can be lessened somewhat by extra bonus points in the early rounds or on the back. It is even possible for a third-place finisher to outscore a champion. Still, with bonus unlikely in the consolation semifinals and third-place matches due to the level of competition, Ohio State needs Tomasello in the finals with some bonus.
Seed – Ohio State 16, Penn State 0
Predictions (including bonus) – Ohio State 23, Penn State 0
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