Sunday, the ACC wrestling Tournament will take place. This year's event will have a different feel for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, the Panthers are hosting the event at The Pete. I vowed nothing would keep me from attending this year as soon as it was known that it would be held here, but try telling that to an uncompromising wife and a trip out of town.
The other thing of note is that last year, Pitt entered as the hunted, winning the ACC regular season title. This year, the Panthers weren't nearly as fortunate, stumbling their way through an 8-8 campaign that included a losing conference record at 2-3. Pitt's only conference wins came against Duke and North Carolina, but way back on January 11th. Since then, the Panthers went just 2-6 the rest of the way.
Safe to say they are a bit of an underdog this year.
That said, I'm still interested to see how they perform. Despite the bad record this year, the Panthers faced some really stiff competition. Pitt also has at least three guys with very strong opportunities to win their respective weight classes - and with only ten such classes, that could still place them in contention for the overall title.
Mike Racciato was undefeated in the regular season in ACC bouts and is the No. 1 seed at 149 pounds. Tyler Wilps and Max Thomusseit both also check in as the No. 1 seeds at 174 and 184 pounds, respectively. Thomusseit, of course, was the slam dunk as the No. 2 wrestler in the nation at that class. In all, the Panthers will enter the event with three of the ten top seeds.
It's not just those three that will win a team title for Pitt, obviously. If the Panthers are to have any hope of doing that, they'll need guys in other classes to go fairly deep into the tournament and add some points along the way. Pitt winning the conference title is a long shot, but those three aforementioned wrestlers could help make things interesting.