Some fancy people are all up in arms about the Big Ten conference being disrespected in by the NCAA tournament selection committee. They want to watch our conference compete in some big money made for TV monstrosity and forget where they came from.
Those who know what the Big Ten ought to be about, however, should be tuned in to the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland this weekend. Here’s the official site, but there’s more you should know.
The Big Ten is the only all-sport Division 1 conference whose members all rassle.
Nine teams from the Big Ten are in InterMat’s latest top 25 for tournament results. Looking through the brackets, I’ve discovered that no team managed to place qualifiers in all 10 weight classes, but four teams from the Big Ten sent 9 (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa). Oklahoma State and Missouri also sent 9, so realistically those are the six teams with the best shot at winning the team title. Of course, the last 11 titles have been won by Big Ten teams. Illinois football has gone to the Rose Bowl since the last time a Big Ten team didn’t win.
Schedule and TV Info
There are six sessions which are as follows:
Session 1: Thursday 3/15 at 11AM Central Time: ESPNU
Session 2: Thursday 3/15 at 6PM: ESPNU
Session 3: Friday 3/16 at 10AM: ESPNU
Session 4 (Championship Semifinals): Friday 3/16 at 7PM: ESPN
Session 5: Saturday 3/17 at 10AM: ESPNU
Session 6 (Championship Finals): Saturday 3/17 at 7PM: ESPN2
The brackets can be found here.
Qualifiers by School
Illinois (5): Travis Piotrowski (125), Dylan Duncan (133), Mike Carr (141), Isaiah Martinez (165), Emery Parker (184)
Indiana (4): Elijah Oliver (125), Cole Weaver (149), Bryce Martin (165), Devin Skatzka (174)
Iowa (9): Spencer Lee (125), Vincent Turk (141), Brandon Sorenson (149), Michael Kemerer (157), Alex Marinelli (165), Joseph Gunther (174), Mitchell Bowman (184), Cash Wilcke (197), Samuel Stoll (285)
Maryland (3): Ryan Diehl (141), Alfred Bannister (149), Youssef Hemida (285)
Michigan (9): Drew Mattin (125), Stevan Micic (133), Malik Amine (149), Alec Pantaleo (157), Logan Massa (165), Myles Amine (174), Dominic Abounader (184), Kevin Beazley (197), Adam Coon (285)
Michigan State (1): Rayvon Foley (125)
Minnesota (7): Ethan Lizak (125), Mitch McKee (133), Thomas Thorn (141), Steve Bleise (149), Jake Short (157), Nicholas Wanzek (165), Brandon Krone (184)
Nebraska (7): Jason Renteria (133), Chad Red (141), Colton McCrystal (149), Tyler Berger (157), Isaiah White (165), Taylor Venz (184), Eric Schultz (197)
Northwestern (4): Sebastian Rivera (125), Ryan Deakin (149), Johnny Sebastian (174), Conan Jennings (285)
Ohio State (9): Nathan Tomasello (125), Luke Pletcher (133), Joey McKenna (141), Ke-Shawn Hayes (149), Micah Jordan (157), Te’Shaun Campbell (165), Myles Martin (184), Kollin Moore (197), Kyle Snyder (285)
Penn State (9): Corey Keener (133), Nick Lee (141), Zain Retherford (149), Jason Nolf (157), Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (184), Shakur Rasheed (197), Nick Nevills (285)
Purdue (7): Luke Welch (125), Ben Thornton (133), Nate Limmex (141), Jacob Morrissey (165), Dylan Lydy (174), Christian Brunner (197), Shawn Streck (285)
Rutgers (6): Nick Suriano (125), Scott Delvecchio (133), Eleazar DeLuca (149), John Vanschenkbrill (157), Richie Lewis (165), Nick Gravina (184),
Wisconsin (7): Eli Stickley (141), Cole Martin (149), Andrew Crone (157), Evan Wick (165), Ryan Christensen (174), Ricky Robertson (184), Hunter Ritter (197)
In total, 87 of the 330 qualifiers are from the Big Ten.
Previews By Weight Class
125: There’s a lot of intrigue here with two past national champions. Defending champ Darian Cruz of Lehigh is the 1 seed while 2015 champ Nathan Tomasello is the 2 seed. They’re not necessarily destined to meet, however, as Iowa’s spectacular freshman Spencer Lee is the 3 seed at 17-2 and Big Ten champ Nick Suriano, the Penn State-to-Rutgers transfer, is the 4 seed despite his 21-0 record. For my boys, Travis Piotrowski faces Nick Piccininni (22-3) from Oklahoma State and if he managed to win the opening round, it would be a big upset. My pick: Suriano over Tomasello.
MNW: Redshirt frosh Sebastian Rivera is seeded 10th and in Nathan Tomasello’s quarter. Thus, it becomes a race to see if he can get past #7 seed Taylor Lamont of Utah Valley (25-3). Against their one common opponent (CSU-Bakersfield) that I can readily find, Rivera has a tech fall to Lamont’s major decision. Thus, Rivera wins in a 7-4 decision before falling to Tomasello, with an outside shot at an Top 8 finish.
Stew: I love watching Spencer Lee wrestle. He’s a machine. He’s going to take you down, and he’s going to turn you. The dude is aggressively aggressive. Still, as a true freshman, he doesn’t quite have the tank of other studs like Suriano and Tomasello. I think Lee does beat one, though, and ends up as the runner up this year to Suriano.
133: Though San Diego State’s Seth Gross is the top overall seed here, there’s the potential for an OSU-Michigan final as Wolverine Steven Micic occupies the two spot and Buckeye Luke Pletcher takes a 26-2 record to the 3 seed. Missouri’s John Erneste could also make a run from the 5 spot. My pick: Gross over Pletcher
141: This is going to be one of the more intriguing brackets, but maybe not for Big Ten fans. Two time defending champion Dean Heil from OkState has dropped 5 matches this year, including two to top seed Bryce Meredith, and has found himself in the 6 seed. However unlikely it is, there’s potential for an upset as Heil will likely face Illinois’ surprising upstart freshman Mike Carr in the second round. Penn State’s Nick Lee is seeded 8th, but the Big Ten wrestler to watch is Big Ten champ Joey Mckenna of Ohio State in the 4 spot. My pick: Meredith over Eierman
149: This bracket certainly looks like 26-0 two time defending national champion Zain Retherford’s to lose, as Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen hasn’t been able to defefat him. However, there’s a very interesting storyline here:
Stew: Sorensen is a fantastic wrestler, one of the best at this weight in Iowa history. He’s lost 15 times in his career (he’s a senior, now). Of those 15 losses 6 are to Retherford, and another 6 were when he was a redshirt freshman (those losses don’t overlap at all). He’s lost to Retherford every time, and he’s clearly the 2nd best wrestler in the weightclass. It’s very, very frustrating. No, I do not see this changing, either.
MNW: HO HO HO WE GOT DRAMA. Redshirt frosh Ryan Deakin (30-6) is the 7-seed in Brandon Sorenson’s quarter, but the 10-seed looking back at him? WHY, IT’S JASON TSIRTSIS! Here’s hoping T-Shirt has gotten past whatever led to his departure from Northwestern a couple years back. Deakin won a 5-3 decision over Tsirtsis at the Midlands, and if we get a rematch, it’s appointment TV for ‘Cats fans. Would it be our luck to get a third Deakin-Sorenson match, I remain steadfast in my belief that eventually Deakin will breakthrough--he lost a 5-4 sudden victory decision in February, then 7-2 at the B1G Championships. Deakin’s another who should be in Top 8 contention.
Yep. 2014 national champion Jason Tsirtsis is in the house, this time representing Arizona State. My pick: Retherford over Sorensen
157: This is in my opinion one of the deepest brackets here. NCSU’s Hayden Hidlay and Mizzou’s Joseph Lavallee bring 22-0 and 29-1 records to the top two seeds, but there’s some intrigue further down. Defending national champion and one-time defeater of Isaiah Martinez Jason Nolf says he’s at 100% after a leg injury kept him out for several dual meets and forced a medical forfeit in the Big Ten tournament. Iowa’s Michael Kemerer was on track for a 1 seed, having not wrestled Nolf due to the latter’s injury, until he dropped his first match of the season by fall to Micah Jordan in the Big Ten semifinals. Big Ten champ Alec Pantaleo lurks as the 5 seed, and this could be a wild bracket. My pick: Nolf over Hidlay
Stew: Kemerer is a damn 6 seed?!?!? What the hell! And to top it off, he’s on the same side of the bracket as Nolf. Kemerer ends up 3.
165: Oh you know I’ve been waiting to talk about this. There’s some talent like Iowa’s Alex Marinelli and wild cards like undefeated David McFadden out of Virginia Tech, but the storyline everyone’s watching is undefeated two time national champion Isaiah Martinez and his nemesis Vincenzo Joseph. With Joseph as the three seed, they’re on a collision course for one of the most anticipated title matches I can remember, and I’m hoping IMar can win the rematch of last year’s national title bout. My pick: Martinez over Joseph
Stew: I think Marinelli can make some noise, and maybe screw up the showdown everyone wants to see. He’s already beaten Joseph once this year, unfortunately he’s on IMar’s side of the bracket, and I don’t think that’s a battle he can win right now, and he ends up 3rd.
174: What’s crazy about this bracket is the three undefeated wrestlers in it: ASU’s Zahid Valencia, PSU’s Mark Hall and Missouri’s Daniel Lewis. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s Bo Jordan has finished on the podium three times and has a chance to cap off his career with that elusive national title. My pick: Valencia over Hall
MNW: Redshirt junior Johnny Sebastian (26-10) drew a familiar foe, 15-seed Dylan Lydy (32-12) of Purdue. They split a pair of 2-1 decisions this year, but regardless of who wins, they’re going to get nuked off the face of the earth by a son of two of our wrestling foils (Apple Valley and Penn State), Mark Hall.
184: I have a hard time seeing anyone knocking off Bo Nickal. He’s 85-3 overall in his career and the defending national champ is undefeated on the season. Cornell’s Maxwell Dean lurks in the 9 seed. He’s the younger brother of Gabe Dean, with whom Nickal split the last two national championship matches. Myles Martin and Emery Parker are formidable, but Nickal is on another level. My pick: Nickal over Martin
197: With this weight class finally freed from the tyranny of J’Den Cox, this year’s favorite is Buckeye Kollin Moore. The sophomore has a loss to NCSU’s Michael Macchiavello and a puzzling loss to Penn State’s Anthony Cassar, who was filling in for Shakur Rasheed. Moore would defeat Rasheed in the Big Ten tournament. Opposite Moore at the 2 seed is 30-1 Ben Darmstadt from Cornell, who will have to avenge his loss to 7 seed Frank Mattiace to advance to the finals. My pick: Darmstadt over Moore
285: Let’s all be honest with ourselves: we know this is probably going to be Kyle Snyder vs Adam Coon for the championship. Coon defeated Snyder at their dual meet but Snyder avenged his loss in the Big Ten final. This is the headlining match that everyone’s going to be anticipating. My pick: Snyder over Coon
MNW: Redshirt junior Conan Jennings (25-10) faces 15-seed Thomas Haines (18-5) of Lehigh. Either one of them will have the pleasure of losing to Michigan’s Adam Coon in the second round. I generally do not enjoy heavyweight, so someone let me know how this goes.
Stew: Kyle Snyder should be appointment television. The dude is a world champion, while still in college. That’s really fucking hard to do, especially in the upper weights. He’s also giving up about 50 lbs to every college opponent, and still mostly dominating the field. 50 lbs!!
I will give the edge to Penn State here by virtue of the fact that they have two heavy favorites for national championships, while Ohio State only has one. Barring some shocking upsets involving Iowa, Missouri or to a lesser extent Michigan, this is going to be between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions.
Be sure to tune in and watch a real sport, Big Ten style.
Stew: Penn State wins. Eat at Arby’s.
Who wins the team title?
This poll is closed