For our NCAA Tournament preview series, we are analyzing the paths for all nine of Penn State's NCAA qualifiers. On Monday, we reviewed Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee and Brady Berge's NCAA Tournament paths. On Tuesday, we looked at Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph and Mark Hall's projected NCAA Tournament matchups. Through 174 pounds in our projection, Penn State has 92 team points, and will be looking to score more than the 141.5 they totaled in the 2018 tournament. Can Shakur Rasheed, Bo Nickal and Anthony Cassar get Penn State to break the 150 mark?
No. 2 Shakur Rasheed - 184 pounds
- First Round - No. 31 Kevin Parker (Princeton)
- Second Round - No. 15 Chip Ness (North Carolina) or No. 18 Tate Samuelson (Wyoming)
- Quarterfinals - No. 7 Nick Reenan (North Carolina State), No. 10 Samuel Colbray (Iowa State) or No. 26 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State)
- Semifinals - No. 3 Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech) or No. 6 Drew Foster (Northern Iowa)
- Finals - No. 1 Myles Martin (Ohio State)
Perhaps the most controversially seeded wrestler in the entire NCAA Tournament is Shakur Rasheed. Despite Rasheed's talents, he does not have a lengthy resume at 184 pounds, and has not beaten a number of top guys that others behind him have. However, there's no doubt that Rasheed easily could be the second best guy at this weight, and he will have his chance to show it in Pittsburgh. Rasheed's been good this season, although he does not have any standout results. His best win is over No. 9 Taylor Venz (Nebraska), and while it's clear he's an All-American candidate, just how far can he go? Also, how healthy is he entering the NCAA Tournament?
His first round match against Kevin Parker will give Rasheed an opportunity for bonus points. If Rasheed is on top of his game, you'd probably fancy a crossface cradle here and a pin. In the second round he could face either Chip Ness or Tate Samuelson. While it's unclear who has the edge in this matchup, Rasheed will be favored over either, and could even score bonus points. However, once he gets to the quarters the draw gets interesting.
Nick Reenan has not been able to carry over his momentum from the freestyle season, and it's in large part due to injuries. He comes into the NCAA Tournament clearly hindered, and he could be a very vulnerable target for a first round upset. Enter 26-seed Dakota Geer, who competed for most of the season at 197 pounds, but cut down to 184 due to a late reshuffle in the Oklahoma State lineup. Geer could be a game changer in this quarter. Then there's also Sam Colbray, who Rasheed has crossface cradled earlier this season, but has every chance to get out of this section. I think it's fair to say Rasheed will be favored against any of these three, but if it's Geer, get ready for a nail biter.
If Rasheed would lose this match, he could end up falling into the Round of 12 against a second round loser in the Max Dean-Emery Parker bracket. If there is an upset and Parker or Dean drop down, it could make even earning All-American status that much more difficult. Still, I would pick Rasheed over either, but he could have a difficult path.
In the semifinals, Rasheed could see either Zack Zavatsky or Drew Foster. Zavatsky is very seasoned at 184 pounds, as he's a three-time ACC champion and finished sixth in last season's NCAA Tournament. Foster is another seasoned veteran of 184 pounds, a two-time Big 12 champion and 2017 All-American. Northern Iowa has never had a finalist, so it would be pretty cool if they could get one here, even if it is at Penn State's expense. I think either Zavatsky or Foster poses a difficult matchup for Rasheed, but I think Rasheed has just a bit more talent, and I'm going to take him to win. That's not to say that I think Rasheed is much better, but I think he's got enough about him to beat either.
Then, a potential final with very familiar nemesis Myles Martin. Martin should storm through his side of the bracket, as he has dominated one of the toughest schedules in the country. Martin has seemingly butted heads with Penn State wrestlers in high profile matches throughout his career, and this year could be no different against Rasheed. Despite Rasheed's talent, I'm going to pick him to just wrestle to seed here and lose to Martin. I think Martin is just too fast and explosive for Rasheed, and Martin's dominant season is likely going to end with a national title. Rasheed has been good, but Martin has been on another level.
Prediction - 2nd place, 19 team points contributed
Total Team Points Through 184 Pounds - 111
This could arguably already be enough points for Penn State to wrap up the team title. If Rasheed ends up falling to the consolation bracket and into the 3rd or 5th place matches, this could drastically reduce the number of points he could earn. However, it just shows the room for error Penn State has considering Bo Nickal has not even contributed anything to this point total yet, and the Nittany Lions probably already have enough to win.
If you wanted to pick a weight that could potentially give us the most chaos, 184 pounds has to be in the discussion. There is not a lot of separation behind Myles Martin, and that could lead to some crazy results.