3/2: The Big Ten official pre-seeds were released after this article was published. For this weight, in order, they are: Bravo-Young (PSU), DeSanto (IA), Alvarez (RU), Byrd (ILL), Cannon (NW), Medley (MI), Dryden (MN), Decatur (OSU), Rundell (PU), Burwick (WI), Sjomeling (NE), Hamdan (MSU), Luigs (IN), Cockrell (MD)
133 is another strong weight for the B1G, although a little bit topheavy. Three of the top six national spots go to B1G wrestlers and if Michigan’s Stevan Micic returns to action, it will be four of seven. This would be a pretty clear cut weight to project if it weren’t (like so many things in life) being screwed up by Michigan men. There are three groupings of wrestlers in this class that are pretty close so we’ll preview in tiers rather than 1-10/14. The Big Ten has 8 auto bids in this class. Let’s get on with it.
Top Tier: Roman Bravo Young (Penn State Nittany Lions), Austin DeSanto (Iowa Hawkeyes), and Sammy Alvarez (Rutgers) are 2, 5, and 6 ranked nationally. They were all bumped down a spot when cheater Daton Fix of Oklahoma State returned from a suspension for doping. They are a contrast in styles as RBY might be the quickest wrestler in the nation, DeSanto is strong and relentless on offense, and Alvarez is tall and lanky and excels on top and scrambling. I think the rankings have it right and they will finish in that order, but it will be close. None of these guys have wrestled each other in a dual this year. Thanks a lot, COVID! In previous head to head meetings, RBY has beaten Alvarez twice although the first one was in sudden victory two. RBY and DeSanto have split four matches, but DeSanto’s wins were two years ago and RBY won both meetings last year and DeSanto doesn’t appear to have any answers for Roman now.
Middle Tier: See, this is where the Michigan Wolverines muck things up. They list Olympic veteran Stevan Micic on their roster at 133, but he hasn’t wrestled. If he does, he would join the three grapplers in the top tier. Jack Medley and Dylan Ragusin have both wrestled duals for Michigan at 125 and 133, so who is going where come tournament time? If it is Ragusin, he’s probably at the top of this middle tier and Medley would be near the bottom. At this point, Ragusin wrestled 133 the last two duals so we can probably assume that’s the route they’re going with.
#13 Lucas Byrd (Illinois Fighting Illini), #14 Chris Cannon (Northwestern Wildcats), #20 Jordan Decatur (Ohio State), and #21 Boo Dryden (Minnesota Gophers) are the other wrestlers that should qualify. Cannon has missed a couple duals and may be dealing with an injury. Boo Dryden is a freak of nature. If you want to see an air dancer wrestle in the B1G tourney, here’s your chance. I like Lucas Byrd and Ragusin to take the 4th and 5th place spots. Byrd is like DeSanto-lite and Ragusin reminds me of Alvarez. Decatur, Dryden, and then Cannon should take the final NCAA auto qualifier spots. These guys are all good, but none of them will challenge any of those top three grapplers.
Last Tier: If any of the middle tier guys fall early or can’t compete, Alex Thomsen or Tucker Sjomeling (Nebraska Cornhuskers) or Jake Rundell (Purdue Boilermakers) will likely claim the final bid for NCAAs. Jordan Hamdan (Michigan State), Kyle Luigs (Indiana Hoosiers), Kyle Burwick (Wisconsin Badgers) and probably someone from Maryland will also compete in the tournament. Maybe I should give the Maryland Terrapins Jackson Cockrell a little more credit than that. The kid was 0-7 and going against the # 3 guy in the nation in PSU’s RBY and put up a full seven minutes of fight. He was outclassed, but I admire the gusto and heart.