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Big Ten Wrestling Championships Preview— 197 lbs.: Seeds, Picks, Bracket

Go with the #1? Or the #1 at 184 who moved up? Or chaos?

4th in ‘17; 3rd in ‘18; 3rd in ‘19. Is the fourth time the charm?

3/2: This article was written before the Big Ten released pre-seeds. The Big Ten’s pre-seed order is: Schultz (NE), Amine (MI), Warner (IA), Caffey (MSU), Davison (NW), Penola (PU), Beard (PSU), Wroblewski (ILL), Hoffman (OSU), Janzer (RU), Joles (MN), Smith (MD), Willham (IN), Salemme (WI)

Compared to most other weights, 197 is fairly straightforward. There are some interesting calls, but they are of the “either this guy OR that guy” type for the most part. There are only six auto bids to give out and seven guys in Intermat’s top 20 (including 1-2-3). So, if things break predictably an at-large should rescue whoever finishes 7th, but if there are upsets—and that is certainly possible—somebody’s season could end early.

Eric Schultz (Nebraska Cornhuskers) is Intermat’s #1, but Wrestlestat will tell you Myles Amine (Michigan Wolverines) is the best at 197. Amine recently bumped up from 184 (and never wrestled at the weight, having been at 174 his first three years), and Schultz is 8-0 this year (with three high quality wins), so Schultz should get the seeding nod.

After that, Jacob Warner (Iowa Hawkeyes) seems the clear choice for #3. He’s 4-1 with only a 3-2 setback to Schultz marring the record. Cam Cafffey (Michigan State Spartans), at 5-2, with losses only to Schultz and Amine, should nab the #4 seed.

#5-#7 is tough. None of them have faced each other. None have beaten anybody in the top four. And none have lost to anybody below them. That said, it’s wrestling. You earn it on the mat, and Thomas Penola (Purdue Boilermakers) has wrestled more matches that the other two combined. So, his 7-2 gets him the #5 seed. Lucas Davison (Northwestern Wildcats) and Michael Beard (Penn State Nittany Lions) are both 3-1. Intermat has Davison #14 and Beard #15, but Beard has scored more dual points and against slightly better competition, so give him the #6 (and look out Jacob Warner) and Davison the #7.

Matt Wroblewski (Illinois Fighting Illini) isn’t going to beat Schultz, but is good enough to pull an upset in the consolation bracket and should get the nod at #8. He’ll be followed by Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State Buckeyes) and Billy Janzer (Rutgers Scarlet Knights), neither of whom are pushovers, but both of whom have yet to notch a win over anybody above them.

The rest slot pretty easier and are not threats to make noise: 11) Garrett Joles (Minnesota Golden Gophers, 12) Jaron Smith (Maryland Terrapins), 13) Nick Willham (Indiana Hoosiers), 14) Andrew Salemme (Wisconsin Badgers)

As for what to expect, the Amine or Schultz argument is a fun one. Schultz has been at 197 his whole career and, after a couple of Round-of-16 exits in ‘18 and ‘19, looked to have broken through last year, sitting at 23-4 when the season ended and having finished 2nd at the B1G tournament to national #1 Kollin Moore. He’s waited his turn and he’s now the top dog at 197.

Amine has three top-four finishes to his name in from ‘17 through ‘19 (he took an Olympic redshirt last year), but that was at 174, and he’s wrestling up two weights (just like 174 #1 Michael Kemerer). The argument for him is that he has wins over Caffey and Beard so far this year to show that he can handle this weight and his pedigree is clearly better than Schultz’s (who has yet to find the podium).

As the photo selection above would indicate, I think Amine will take the title. I don’t know if I really believe Beard will put a 6 vs. 3 upset over Warner in the quarters, but let’s pair that with Caffey knocking off Schultz in the semis so that there’s some excitement.

1) Amine, 2) Caffey, 3) Schultz, 4) Beard, 5) Warner, 6) Penola, 7) Davison, 8) Wroblewski, with Davison snagging an at-large bid to the NCAAs, but Wroblewski not being chosen.