NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the official Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout bracket unveiled earlier this week, fans and followers of the sport have been able to see which riders are facing off against each other in Friday night’s first round.
Fans can also have an idea of potential scenarios if their favorite rider is able to advance through the 36-rider tournament.
In fact, Nathan Schaper joked with J.W. Harris in Biloxi, Mississippi, about how it would be fun for the two of them to face off.
“You think they would match me and J.W. up against each other?” Schaper asked with a big smile.
Harris replied after laughing, “You would like that wouldn’t you Schaper?”
Schaper (5) and Harris (10) could meet in the Final 4 if they win their respective brackets.
PBR.com takes a look at an additional seven hypothetical matchups that would be fun to see happen.
1. Joao Ricardo Vieira (1) vs. J.B. Mauney (2)
The sport of professional bull riding very rarely pits rider against rider. Most riders will explain that is never them against another rider, but it is them against a bull. Well, Nashville features a different element with riders facing off against their bovine opponent, as well as another rider in their pairing.
What better way to test the merits of the two men currently competing for the 2015 World Championship than to see them square off in the championship round on Saturday night? 400 points will be on the line and the world No. 1 ranking.
Mauney has been on an absolute tear since returning from his torn left ACL in mid-April. He concluded the first half with a victory in Des Moines, Iowa, and two Top 3 finishes before winning the first two events since the BFTS resumed in August.
If Mauney were to reach the championship round he would face off against Percolator, who he just rode for 92 points for the victory in Biloxi.
Vieira would be paired against Sasquatch.
Vieira has only gone 2-for-5 since the resumption of the BFTS this August, and he has to be aware of Mauney’s march.
How would each rider react to the moment?
2. J.B. Mauney (2) vs. Silvano Alves (9)
Mauney is no stranger to the heat or pressure of competing against another rider for $1 million at the World Finals, and his 2013 World Championship performance was one that left many clamoring for more.
Mauney and Alves went blow for blow at the Thomas & Mack Center in one of the most exciting World Finals in PBR history.
Alves needs to start gaining points toward the world standings if he wants to make a run at a record-setting fourth world title, and what better way to earn it than by eliminating the hottest rider on the BFTS right now in a Final 4 matchup?
3. Kaique Pacheco (4) vs. Silvano Alves (9)
For Alves to have a chance at going against Mauney, he will have some tough work to potentially take care of in Round 3 on Saturday night. There is a scenario that Alves could face standout rookie and the No. 4 bull rider in the world – Kaique Pacheco.
Alves has been very keen of the 20-year-old from Itatiba, Brazil, and has taken him under his wing this season. Pacheco is having a memorable rookie year and is in pursuit of trying to become the first PBR rookie to win the World Championship.
To help his case, he will possibly have to eliminate his mentor in Nashville.
4. Gage Gay (23) vs. J.B. Mauney (2)
Gage Gay is very aware of how much of an impact a rookie can have in a bracket-style event. Gay eliminated three World Champions on his way to a runner-up finish at the 2014 Iron Cowboy.
One of those World Champions was Mauney and the two can potentially have a rematch in Round 2 on Friday night if Gay defeats Kasey Hayes (26).
Last year at Iron Cowboy, Gay lasted 4.20 seconds on Compact, while Mauney was bucked off by Altercation in 2.79 seconds.
5. Tanner Byrne (16) vs. Aaron Roy (23)
This should be labeled the Battle for Canada if this matchup comes to fruition in the third round of Bracket C.
There is a friendly battle beginning to brew between Byrne (the 2014 Glen Keeley Award winner) and Roy (a five-time Glen Keeley Award winner) for who will win the 2015 Glen Keeley Award.
Every year, the top ranking Canadian-born bull rider in the world standings receives the honor.
Byrne and Roy are the top two Canadian riders in the world standings and are separated by just 217.5 points.
A strong showing by Roy, who arrived on Wednesday in Nashville for a series of PR appearances, can help him close the gap on Byrne and continue his comeback season from his 2013 back injury at the Calgary Stampede.
6. Gage Gay (23) vs. J.W. Harris (10)
You can’t change the past, but why not pit the 2014 Rookie of the Year winner – J.W. Harris – against arguably 2014’s top rookie until the Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Harris used a 4-for-6 showing in Las Vegas to snatch top rookie honors and overcame a 3,428.12-point deficit in the old points system.
Gay, who we mentioned earlier, has a knack for eliminating World Champions, and he could get an opportunity to eliminate the four-time PRCA champion in the Final 4.
7. Reese Cates (8) vs. Chase Outlaw (25)
There was a time earlier this season when Reese Cates and Chase Outlaw were standing side-by-side on the back of the bucking chutes as Top 5 bull riders in the world standings.
A torn rotator cuff and right shoulder surgery derailed Outlaw’s career-year and took Cates’ best friend off the BFTS tour for six months.
The two are happy to be back on tour together with Outlaw returning just last weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But what would happen if the two were to meet in the championship round on Saturday evening?
Which Arkansas, native, would come through and win the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout?
A win by Cates would help him crack the Top 5 of the world standings and an Outlaw win would potentially place him back inside the Top 15.
They are all hypothetical matchups, but are certainly fun to think about and secretly wish for.
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