photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
Conference season is upon us. This week we have five DI conferences in action and each day, we’ll bring a new preview. After hitting the first four conferences in action this week, we’ll focus on the ACC. Though the ACC only has six teams in action, this tournament routinely provided the most bang for your buck. Four of its teams are ranked in the top-20 in TOM’s Tournament rankings. Perennial powers NC State and Virginia Tech are both tied for fifth. Five of the conference’s teams are listed in the top-20 in dual performance.
For those that have never attended or closely followed the ACC Tournament, please do. You’ll be in for a treat. One of the exciting things about this tournament is that since it’s so small, each match counts. One upset can swing the entire balance of the team race.
The ACC now features plenty of star power, something that seemed unthinkable over a decade ago. Thirteen wrestlers in action Sunday are currently ranked in the top ten of their respective weights. Two number-one ranked wrestlers will suit up for ACC schools, along with a past national champion.
One of the favorites to get crowned conference champion is Pat Popolizio’s NC State squad. The Wolfpack grabbed their second consecutive ACC title in 2020 by four points over a surprising Pittsburgh team. It was a total team effort for the Wolfpack, who claimed two individual titles and qualified for nationals at eight of ten weights. All eight of those national qualifiers are back for a veteran-laden NC State team that aims to three-peat. Of course, an NC State streak was already interrupted once this year by Virginia Tech. Tony Robie’s team halted the Wolfpack’s 22-match dual winning streak in perhaps the best collegiate dual of the season. This Hokie team is also built for tournaments as two of their team members have held a number-one ranking nationally, this season. Not to be overlooked is a North Carolina team that finished third at this event in 2020. The Tar Heels continue to progress under Coleman Scott and have a top-ranked wrestler of their own. Virginia and Pittsburgh each have quality teams that are capable of making things very interesting in Raleigh. Virginia comes in with eight of ten starters listed in the top-33, while Pittsburgh has five.
Below, we’ve gone through each weight class and previewed its competitors and made predictions for the finals, along with national qualifiers, and the team race.
When: Sunday, February 28th
Where: Raleigh, North Carolina
1st - #5 Sam Latona (Virginia Tech)
2nd - #7 Jakob Camacho (NC State)
3rd - Colton Camacho (Pittsburgh)
4th - Patrick McCormick (Virginia)
5th - Will Guida (North Carolina)
6th - Logan Agin (Duke)
Automatic NCAA Qualifying Spots Available (3)
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