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B1G Wrestling Championships preview: 149-165 pounds

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Quick looks at what to expect from the middleweights at Big Tens

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

149 Pounds

7 Automatic Qualifiers | #2 Sasso (OSU), #5 Gomez (WI), #6 Lovett (NEB), #10 Murin (IA), #11 Thomas (NU), #15 Van Brill (RUT), #17 Bartlett (PSU), #29 Kanzler (ILL), #30 Blockhus (MINN)

Not quite the outrage that 141 is, but there are still nine ranked wrestlers and only 7 auto bids. Plus, Kanen Storr (Michigan) only fell out of the rankings last week. Ohio State’s Sasso is the solid favorite, but wrestles close matches and is far from a sure thing. A possible semifinal with Iowa’s Murin would be a rematch of an exciting dual bout which Sasso won 3-2 on a reversal late in the third. An equally compelling semifinal would be a Gomez/Lovett rematch. Gomez pulled an at-the-time upset 4-2 when they met in January. Yahya Thomas appears to be the only wrestler who could crash the semis. He has a wonderful run to 3rd nationally last year as the #25 seed (!), and is looking to gear up again. His only losses on the year are to each of the top four seeds, and all were by one or two points.

Van Brill and Bartlett look like good bets to get the last two auto bids. Kanzler has a head-to-head win over Blockhus, but I actually expect Storr to find his form a bit and finish eighth, putting him first in line for an at-large bid. And there’s no guarantee the B1G gets more than one of those.

Picking Sasso is boring, so I’m going full homer and calling for Gomez to get the upset title. And, if it’s not Gomez, I’ll pick Lovett to knock off Sasso.

Poll

Who wins this weight?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Sasso
    (29 votes)
  • 40%
    The field
    (20 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now

157 Pounds

7 Automatic Qualifiers | #2 Deakin (NU), #9 Young (IA), #10 Lewan (MI), #11 Robb (NE), #12 Coleman (PU), #13 Berge (PSU), #16 Saldate (MSU), #31 Model (WI)

There’s a few questions at this weight, but none at the top. Ryan Deakin is clearly the best guy in the Big Ten, and probably only second to David Carr in the country. Expect him to roll to another Big Ten title. Past that, though, there’s quite a fight in the middle of the weight. With only seven pre-allocations and eight ranked wrestlers, someone is going to get left out and have to hope for an at-large bid. By ranking, that’d be Garrett Model, but Model is the seven seed according to the Big Ten preseeds released yesterday. The likely spot-stealer is Penn State’s Brady Berge, who is just a ten-seed because of his limited sample size at 157 pounds. However, it’s his natural weight, and he’s very talented, so he’s favored to finish top seven (potentially as high as second). This could have obviously large implications for the team race, not just at Big Tens but at NCAAs as well.

Two names on the preseeds are a bit new. Bryce Hepner is getting the nod over Jashon Hubbard despite not wrestling for the Buckeyes in a conference dual this year, and Sebas Swiggum will be replacing the injured Brayton Lee for Minnesota. I don’t think either has a chance to steal a spot, though. Ultimately, I have Berge in at the expense of Garrett Model, but I’d be thrilled to be wrong.

Poll

Who’s left out

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Model
    (11 votes)
  • 12%
    Berge
    (4 votes)
  • 27%
    Saldate
    (9 votes)
  • 27%
    Someone else
    (9 votes)
33 votes total Vote Now

165 Pounds

7 Automatic Qualifiers | #4 Kharchla (OSU), #5 Marinelli (IA), #6 Hamiti (WI), #9 Amine (MICH), #23 Edsell (PSU), #27 Braunagel (ILL), #30 Wilson (NEB)

Seven auto bids are more than enough for one of the B1G’s weaker weights. Weaker at least in terms of depth. The three at the top are far from weak. Kharchla didn’t wrestle Hamiti this year, but did beat Marinelli 3-2 with a late 3rd period takedown. Marinelli’s 8-5 win over Hamiti settle the top 3 seeds. In each of these bouts the wrestler that lost looked uncharacteristically hesitant so hopefully we’ll see more aggression this weekend.

Amine is the clear #4, but it would be a real upset if he knocked off Kharchla. So, let’s call for a Kharchla/Marinelli rematch for the title. My love for Hamiti is profound and well-known, but Marinelli is a senior with a big bag of tricks, and I think he’ll add a FOURTH B1G title to his trophy case (though I’m sure he’d trade them all for a first NCAA title).

Below the top 4, it gets really interesting. Check the Intermat rankings above, then know that on the recently announced pre-seeds, unranked Caleb Fish (MSU) is 5th, unranked Hayden Lohrey (PUR) is 7th (Braunagel is 6th, Wilson 8th), and Edsell is all the way down at 10th. Go ahead and expect Edsett to beat Lohrey though, and for the auto bids to look closer to the Intermat rankings than the pre-seeds. In fact, I expect Wilson and Braunagel to wrestle for 7th, and for Braunagel to snag the last autobid. Sorry, but chalk is chalk for a reason sometimes. Epsecially in wrestling.

Poll

Chalk?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Chalk
    (9 votes)
  • 65%
    Not chalk
    (17 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now