After securing berths to the NCAA Tournament in the MAC Tournament, and after the NCAA committee decided upon the at-large bids, today the brackets for all 10 weight classes were announced and we now know who each UB grappler will be taking on in their opening round bout in the NCAA Tournament.
133 - Bryan Lantry (Buffalo) vs. #13 Cameron Kelly (Ohio)
Lantry gets a familiar face in his first bout in Ohio's Cameron Kelly. Lantry and Kelly met once during the regular season and during the consolation semifinals of the MAC Tournament. Kelly bested Lantry in both meetings, with Lantry getting out of position during the regular season bout leading to a quick Kelly pin, and the second bout during the MAC Tournament by a narrow 6-3 decision.
Kelly is one of the better young wrestlers in the MAC, but Lantry is more than good enough to pull the upset. Lantry himself is no stranger to pulling upsets, upsetting Mack McGuire, who happens to be the #9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, at the MAC Tournament. Despite the first meeting being lopsided, Lantry and Kelly are quite evenly matched and this should be an entertaining matchup between two young grapplers.
149 - Colt Cotten (Buffalo) vs. #13 Matthew Kraus (Arizona State)
Cotten is one of the most dangerous wrestlers in the nation given that he can score from just about any position and he has the reckless abandon to attempt some of the most exciting moves in the sport that lead to big time points being scored. His opponent, Matt Kraus was the runner-up at 149 pounds in the PAC-12 after being upset in the final by 2 seed Geo Martinez of Boise State. Kraus is an experienced senior that has been the runner-up in the PAC-12 the past two seasons and has been ranked in the top 15 in the nation for most of the season, so Cotten has his work cut out for him, but Major Cotten has the ability to hang with anyone in the nation and this should be a fun match to watch.
184 - Joe Ariola (Buffalo) vs. #3 Victor Avery (Edinboro)
Out of the three UB wrestlers heading to Madison Square Garden, Joe Ariola has, by far, the toughest matchup in the first round. Avery is currently 13-1 on the season and is a 4 time NCAA qualifier and is a returning All-American after finishing 3rd at 184 pounds last season. Ariola comes into the tournament after pulling some big upsets in the MAC Tournament and upsetting the #3 seed in the first round would be one of the biggest upsets, if not the biggest upset, in UB history at the NCAA Tournament. Joe is as good as any wrestler in the nation when he's in the zone so it'll be interesting to see how he attacks Avery. It is worth noting that Avery has battled through injuries throughout his career so it's worth watching to see what kind of condition Avery enters the tournament in.