It’s almost here. The Big Ten Wrestling Championships start Saturday, March 6th at 9 AM God’s Time, 10 AM Eastern. That session will go through quarterfinals, and end around 1 PM. Semifinals will start at 6:30 PM. The next morning, at 11 AM, will be consolation matches up through the consolation semifinals, and then, at 3 PM, we will start crowning champions (and 3rd and 5th place finishers). Get. Pumped. Good on BTN for picking up nearly the whole damn thing.
I projected the scores thanks to this tournament scoring guide from BlackHeartGoldPants a whole ten years ago, which is helpful if you’re new to the sport or trying to project scores in this confusing-ass tournament. Basically, first place is 3 points from advancements and 16 points from placement, so 19 points. Every seed has some projected value, then, and put ‘em together for the scores below. This does not take into account bonus points, which will favor Iowa, and obviously some guys are going to wrestle above their seed, which will favor Penn State. This was based on the pre-seeds. Official brackets should come out soon, so check the comments.
- Iowa Hawkeyes: 146
- Penn State Nittany Lions: 94.5
- Nebraska Cornhuskers: 89
- Minnesota Gophers: 85.5
- Michigan Wolverines: 83
- Ohio State Buckeyes: 66.5
- Illinois Fighting Illini: 57
- Northwestern Wildcats: 53.5
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights: 44.5
- Purdue Boilermakers: 44
- Michigan State Spartans: 44
- Wisconsin Badgers: 40.5
- Indiana Hoosiers: 9.5
- Maryland Terrapins: 2.5
First 1-seed to lose? -HWAHSQB
HWAHSQB: So, my thought process is to look at weight classes with the smallest gap between the 1 and 4-5 seeds. If Micic were wrestling, 133 would be on the list, but that’s not happening. Two weight classes stand out to me in this regard; 174 and 197. Michael Kemerer (Iowa) is a fantastic wrestler and pound for pound as good as many # 1s this year, but the 4 will either be Logan Massa, who has finished 3rd at NCAAs and been a B1G finalist previously or superstud freshman Carter Starocci from Penn State, who are very strong 4 seeds. At 197, Eric Schultz is looking like the 1 and Cameron Caffey is a very capable 4 seed who was runner-up at B1Gs and lost by a single point to Aaron Brooks. If I’m picking one, it is 174 simply because they wrestle before 197.
Kind of…: HWAHSQB’s logic is compelling, but Kemerer (92% career win pct; 65% bonus rate) is just better than Schultz (77% and 27% respectively). Schultz has three different one-point victories on the season and it’s going to catch up with him in the semis. In fact, if that doesn’t happen, then I think you’ll see all ten 1-seeds make the finals. It’s going to be pretty chalky on the top half of each bracket.
Atinat: Okay, let me start by saying that I think every 1-seed is the best wrestler in the conference from what we’ve seen. Yes I think DeSanto could beat RBY, but not from what we’ve seen. We are going to have to see something new from him. So, anyways, looking through all their paths, I notice a few tough semifinals. Marinelli could see Cameron Amine at 165, and Michael Kemerer will likely see Logan Massa at 174, and those are probably my favorite 4-seeds. However, those are also my favorite 1-seeds, and I doubt either loses. Aaron Brooks is obviously very good, but who he faces is a total crapshoot, and I could see a semifinal upset happening. Schultz may not be perfect, but I don’t know if Caffey has what it takes. So, I’ll say every 1-seed makes the finals. Then RBY, Eierman, and Schultz will likely all have very tough finals. Let’s say it’s RBY. Why not.
What to expect from Kerkvliet? -Kind of...
HWAHSQB: I don’t know, but I know what I don’t expect. Ain’t nobody beating Steveson.
Kind of…: Quickness? Tony Cassioppi is a really good wrestler. He is not just a slab of meat laying on other slabs of meat. He’s won 33 straight matches against people not named Gable Steveson or Mason Parris. And his chance of ever winning a B1G or NCAA title is probably negligible. I guess he could make use of this free season and come back for a sixth-year in ‘23-’24, hoping Kerkvliet takes an Olympic redshirt, but Kerkvliet is the king-in-waiting. I expect him to take 3rd at the B1G this year, and his path depends on his seed. If he runs into Parris or Gable in the quarters, he’ll have to do more work in the consolations rounds. But this really feels like the release date got moved up on a big budget movie where the ending is pre-ordained. In the meantime, appreciate the present. Enjoy watching Steveson set the pace before worrying about if Kerkvliet will beat it.
Atinat: Fourth, I hope. He’ll get Parris in the quarterfinals, presumably, and I don’t think he can win that, so then it’s a matter of can Cass get through Parris (no), and can Kerkvliet beat the loser in the 3rd place match? Hope not.
If you could only watch one final, not knowing who would go, what weight would you choose? -Atinat
HWAHSQB: There’s a lot of different ways to go here. 125 or HWT is an okay answer because every chance to watch Lee and the Son of Steve are worthwhile uses of your time, but the drama is low. I would want 174. Kemerer is the favorite, but Labriola, Massa, Starocci, and maybe even Romero are capable of giving him a hard fought match. 174 semis are going to be finals level quality and whoever survives those is going to battle in the finals. Honorable mention to 141.
Kind of: 141. Eierman/Lee HAS TO happen. And if it doesn’t, it’s probably because Rivera ruined it and is looking for a 3rd B1G title at a 3rd different weight, which would be its own great story. [HWAHSQB makes a good argument for 174 and, as we noted above, 197 presents a similar level of parity with the added variable of Amine having moved up a weight late in the season. Plus, while Starocci and Kerkvliet are getting the “PSU frosh sensation” headlines, I continue to think Michael Beard is gonna be heard from sooner rather than later.]
Atinat: Yeah I wrote this one and I’m not sure how to answer it. If I just get to watch one, Spencer Lee gives us our best chance at a Big Ten champ (at 95%+, compared to just 85%+ from Marinelli). However, from a more neutral standpoint, 141 and 174 are loaded fields, and 133 projects a very fun final. We’ve seen Steveson-Parris enough to know what we’ll get. I hinted at it above, but I think the best match at 174 happens in the semis, as I think Kemerer rolls Labriola, and probably Starocci, too. So, I’ll pick 141.
What is the most “can’t miss” round one matchup, and what matchup has the biggest potential for a bracket-breaking upset? -HWAHSQB
HWAHSQB: My can’t miss round one matchup is a fairly easy choice for me personally, but there is a lot to choose from in 125 and 184 especially. Braunagel-Brands III should be fun. The first two matchups were great for wrestling purists. Low scoring, but lots of hand fighting and working for position. Braunagel won them both 3-2 and 3-1 in SV.
My bracket buster upset special is Smojeling against Medley. The Nebraskan has looked tough at times and Medley is undersized bumping up to 133 from 125 just last month.
Kind of: I’ll say the Max Lyon/Rocky Jordan 7 vs. 10 matchup at 184. To throw-in with HWAHSQB, these two first round matchups at 184 are huge, but what comes next is even more important. If the pre-seeds hold, both first round losers will get byes in the consolation bracket and then next face...likely whoever won the opposite match. [Brands/Braunagel winner probably loses to Brooks and drops to consolation bracket against Lyon/Jordan loser. Lyon/Jordan winner probably loses to Weiler—though much more upset potential here—and drops down to consolation bracket against Brands/Braunagel loser. 184 is no joke!]
In terms of upset special, as a UW fan, I am really lamenting Eric Barnett getting the 6-seed at 125 with PSU’s Robert Howard waiting, but I think Barnett will win a tight one. But I think the biggest “upset” will come from a different PSU grappler, with Beau Bartlett taking down Minnesota’s Michael Blockhus in the 11-6 matchup at 149. And 3-seed Griffin Parriott (Purdue) would be susceptible in the quarters, too.
Atinat: Brands-Braunagel could be fun, though I don’t mind a little more action. I’m curious what Omania-Lovett will look like. I’m gonna go with DeAugustino-Ragusin though. Ragusin has looked good all year, but definitely was punching above his weight at 133. Winner gets Lee. If that’s not your style, Barnett-Howard should also be fun.
Bracket buster… alright, taking a big shot here. I haven’t seen much from Dylan Shawver, Aguilar’s ringer at 125, but I’ve seen enough from Pat McKee to know not to bet on him. McKee’s inconsistency, plus the unknown factor, equals a 13-4 upset in the first round.