MAC Tournament Fan Guide – Mizzou Edition

Missouri is a huge favorite to lock up there 8th straight conference championship here. Old Dominion, Ohio and Buffalo are likely battling for the second through fourth place spots here. Missouri has seven wrestlers seeded first and no one seeded outside the top four in their weight class.

March 7, 2019

125 (4 Auto Bids)

  1. #16 Michael McGee, ODU
  2. #19 Drew Hildebrandt, CMU
  3. #21 Shakur Laney, OHIO
  4. #22 Dack Punke, MIZZ
  5. #33 Kyle Akins, UB
  6. Bryce West, NIU
  7. Jake Ferri, KENT
  8. Gage Datlovsky, SIUE


Thoughts: Punke earned the fourth seed here and there are four bids for NCAAs, so he is right on the bubble. Of late Punke has wrestled pretty defensively and not really opened up his offense a bunch. This has cost Punke, as he has a bunch of overtime and one takedown losses down the stretch of his season. He really needs to commit to scoring early and controlling the tempo of matches this weekend. In Punke’s first bout he will see past NCAA qualifier Kyle Akins. Punke and Akins did not meet this season prior to this bout. Akins is a solid scrambler who keeps a pretty high pace. Punke likely has a strength and counter wrestling advantage in this bout. This bout is pivotal for Punke and I believe he will get a tight win and advance to the semis here. In the semifinal Punke would see #1 seeded McGee who he has yet to meet this season. McGee is strong on top and probably is the most fluid guy at this weight class in the conference, as far as stringing good flurries together. I expect that Punke will drop a close bout to McGee and will wrestle back and win his consi semi before meeting Hildebrandt in the third place bout. Hildebrandt defeated Punke in the dual in overtime, but Punke had the first takedown in that match. I look for Punke to drop another close one to Hildebrandt and to punch his ticket to NCAA’s with a fourth place finish here. If Punke fails to wrestle to seed or higher here he still as a shot at an at large bid, but would need other conferences to avoid big upsets.

Qualifiers Prediction:

  1. McGee, ODU
  2. Laney, OHIO
  3. Hildebrandt, CMU
  4. Punke, MIZZ


133 (3 Auto Bids)

  1. #7 John Erneste, MIZZ
  2. #23 Mario Guillen, OHIO
  3. #28 Derek Spann, UB
  4. Alijah Jeffery. NIU
  5. Tim Rooney, KENT
  6. Trevor Majette, ODU
  7. Devin Perez, CMU
  8. Austin Macias, SIUE

Thoughts: Erneste has been wrestling strong all season and is a huge favorite in this weight class. The top three or four here are a cut above the rest. Erneste will meet Macias first who he is extremely likely to tech or pin. I will say Erneste gets the first round fall here. In the second round Erneste will meet Jeffery, who he has a long history with. Erneste is 3-0 in those bouts over the past three seasons. Jeffery is the rare 133 that can match Erneste’s length, but he cannot match Erneste’s strength or top prowess. I look for Erneste to grab a controlled major decision over Jeffery here. In the finals I believe Erneste will meet the #2 seed Guillen of Ohio. Erneste did not wrestle against Guillen this season during the Ohio dual as Coach Smith smartly limited the amount of times Erneste has to make weight during the middle of the season. Guillen is 15-1 this season and his only loss is to #10 Austin Gomez, so he is very solid.

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