March 12, 2014
2014 NCAA Championships Brackets
INDIANAPOLIS - Northern Illinois University seniors Nick Smith (Ida, Mich./Ida) and Rob Jillard (Franklinville, N.J./Delsea Regional) found out their first-round opponents Wednesday, as the brackets for the 2014 NCAA Championships were unveiled by the association.
For NIU, it marks the 43rd consecutive season in which at least one Huskie has advanced to the national tournament, a streak that dates back to 1972. Additionally, this marks the first appearance at the NCAA Championships for Smith, while Jillard returns to the meet after qualifying at Liberty University in 2011.
Smith, a native of Ida, Mich., starts the tournament at 133 with a matchup against #8 David Thorn of Minnesota. Thorn finished the year with a 24-6 record for the Golden Gophers and placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships. Win or lose, he will take on either Ohio State's Johnni DiJulius or Maryland's Tyler Goodwin in his second match. The ninth-seeded DiJulius ended the year with a 26-7 mark and a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten tournament, while Goodwin maintains a 15-8 record following his second-place finish in the ACC tournament.
Meanwhile, Jillard opens at 149 with a bout against seventh-seeded Gus Sako of Virginia. Sako enters the championships with an 18-3 record after claiming third place for the Cavaliers at the ACC Championships. The Huskie senior's second match pits him against Virginia Tech's Zach Neibert or Rutgers' Ken Theobold. Neibert, the 10th-seeded wrestler at 149, is 22-7 on the year and captured the ACC crown at 149 for the Hokies. For Theobold, he boasts a 22-12 record and ended up as the EIWA's third-place finisher.
The NCAA Championships start at 11 a.m. CT inside Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena with the opening rounds and continues through the title matches on Saturday, March 22. The ESPN family of networks will provide unprecedented coverage of the tournament with coverage on ESPN and ESPNU across all three days. In addition, ESPN3 will provide individual feeds for every mat, allowing fans to watch every match of the tournament - including wrestleback matches - with live commentary.
The NIU Matchups
133: Nick Smith (NIU) vs. #8 David Thorn (Minnesota)
Next round: #9 Johnni DiJulius (Ohio State) OR Tyler Goodwin (Maryland)
149: Rob Jillard (NIU) vs. #7 Gus Sako (Virginia)
Next round: #10 Zach Neibert (Virginia Tech) OR Ken Theobold (Rutgers)