It’s finally here. This Saturday, the Big Ten Wrestling Championships kick off at 10 AM GTZ as we look to crown ten individual champions, a team champion, and send at least 88 guys to NCAAs. We don’t have seeds just yet, so this is just a quick look at who the players are, and what they’re playing for. Namely, in wrestling there exists something called pre-allocations, which is basically how many guys automatically qualify for NCAAs based on their conference tournament results. In the Big Ten, it’s usually a lot. In fact, at 184 pounds this year, it’s 12. Of 14. Wrestlers who fail to automatically qualify have to hope to get one of the four or five at large bids, which usually go to guys who had good regular seasons and lost a couple upsets at their conference tournaments.
10 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Suriano (MI), #5 Hildebrandt (PSU), #6 Barnett (WI), #7 Schroder (PU), #9 Heinselman (OSU), #10 McKee (MN), #11 Ayala (IA), #13 DeAugustino (NU), #21 Cardani (ILL), #27 Shawver (RU)
This is consistently one of the most chaotic weights in wrestling, especially in the middle tiers, and this year is no exception. The good news is that if you wrestle at 125 pounds in the Big Ten, you’re probably going to be wrestling at NCAAs. There are 10 allocations for the 14 starters, so each wrestler can guarantee a spot in the championships with just a win on the championship side or two wins on the consolation side. Those who fail to finish top eight will wrestle a secondary bracket for 9th and 10th place in order to determine NCAA qualification.
Michigan’s Nick Suriano is the obvious favorite here. The national champion is undefeated on the year, and despite a relatively low sample size, owns wins over key players at the weight. That includes likely #2 Drew Hildebrandt, a Central Michigan transfer who is wrestling for Penn State. The bottom of the weight is more interesting than the top, honestly, as Suriano is a pretty big favorite and those bottom spots are still worth something. Zach Spence (MD) and Jeremiah Reno (NE) are both long shots, but everyone else has a chance to finish just about anywhere from second to twelfth. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say Suriano-Hildebrandt-Heinselman as your 1-2-3, and Cardani, Moran, Reno, and Spence as those unfortunate enough to miss automatic qualification. McKee, Schroder, Ayala, and Barnett are all certainly capable of breaking into that top three with good draws.
Who misses out?
This poll is closed
10 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) #3 Austin DeSanto (IA) #6 Lucas Byrd (ILL) #7 Rayvon Foley (MSU) #8 Dylan Ragusin (UM) #9 Chris Cannon (NU) #11 Brock Hudkins (Indy) #15 Joey Olivieri (RU) #23 Matt Ramos (PU) #29 Jake Gliva (Minn)
The top three in this weight class are as cleanly delineated as in weight class in the B1G. RBY is returning national champ and Iowa’s ADS has never lost to any of the guys below him and Illinois Fightining Illini’s Byrd hasn’t either so you have to expect them to finish 1-2-3.
Beyond that, it’s a bit of a crap shoot. Here at 133, there are 10 ranked spots and 10 auto spots so that works out. I think the ranked guys probably all grab those 10 spots, but it wouldn’t shock me if King Sandoval snuck in there and grabbed a spot. I’ll predict Rayvon Foley as the other semi-finalist and finishing fourth, followed by Cannon and Ragusin. I’ll put Ramos next, wrestling above his ranking, then Olivieri 8th. In the extended bracket, put me down for Gliva 9th and Hudkins 10th grabbing the final spot. None of the unranked guys have the resume to garner at large consideration.
Any unranked guys steal a spot?
This poll is closed
Yes, Sandoval (rank him, cowards)
Yes, someone else
7 Automatic Qualifiers | #1 Nick Lee (PSU) #2 Jaydin Eierman (IA) #3 Sebastian Rivera (RU) #10 Chad Red (NU) #15 Stevan Micic (UM) #16 Dylan Duncan (ILL) #17 Dylan D’Emilio (MSU) #18 Jake Bergeland (Minn) #22 Joey Zargo (UW) #31 Parker Filius
First of all, only 7 auto-qualifiers is bullshit for a group of wrestlers this good. Part of the problem for the B1G though is two of those guys didn’t wrestle enough matches (Duncan & Micic) to count for the auto qualifying calculation, but that means some good guys are going to miss the cut. In addition to those ranked guys above, Rooks for Indiana and Tal-shahar for Nern are capable of winning matches against the guys above them.
Lee is a heavy favorite, but Eierman and Rutgers’ Seabass are capable of beating him. Either of those two against Lee in the final is must-see TV. I think Micic will turn it on and be the fourth semi-finalist and Red, D’Emilio, and Bergeland will round out the top 7. Duncan just hasn’t had it since he returned. Hope I’m wrong, but if he can’t finish matches in duals, he is going to falter wrestling multiple times in a day. Filius and Zargo finish 8th and 9th and sweat it out, but end up getting at large bids.
Who’s your winner?
This poll is closed