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Previewing the Big Ten wrestling tournament: The Big Boys!

165, 285, and all the fun in between as the Big Ten bring four Number Ones in the back five weights

NCAA Wrestling: DI Wrestling Championships Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

One more day! Below, we’ll preview the heavier weights for the Big Ten tournament. Click here to see yesterday’s previews of the lighter weights. Also, if you haven’t already, click here for our pick’em contest! Who knows, you might be a wrestling savant! Or lucky! Either is good!

Also, preseeds are out! Click me!

How to watch:

The Big Ten Network always does a great job of covering the tournament, and this year appears to be no exception. If you only have BTN, you can tune in at 9AM on Saturday for the start of whip-around coverage. That will run from nine until 1PM for the first session. The Big Ten Network won’t be picking up any consolation coverage, so you’ll have to wait until 6:30PM for the start of the semifinals. On Sunday, the championship bouts begin on BTN at 3:30PM.

Now, if you (like me) don’t live in the Midwest and don’t have access to BTN, but DO have BTN+, you can check out the quad box or individual mat coverage for session 1 on Saturday and the wrestlebacks starting at 4:30. On Sunday, you can start at noon with the consolation semifinals, and stay on BTN+ for 3rd and 5th place matches.

If you have both, my suggestion would be to start on BTN+ for the quad box and the start of consolations, make your way over to the Big Ten Network at 6:30 on Saturday night for the semifinals, watch the consi semis on BTN+ Sunday at noon, and then watch the finals on your TV while streaming all the other matches on your phone or laptop. I’m gonna try to find a bar in Houston that has BTN for the championship bouts (paging Dr. MNW) (no really, he actually is a doctor) (well, not actually a doctor, but you know what I mean)

165 Pounds:

Kind of...: This is the most interesting weight of the entire weekend. Neither national #4 Cameron Amine nor #12 Carson Kharchla wrestled enough matches to count toward the allocation total, so the B1G only has 8 auto bids to hand out despite featuring 10 guys who are ranked. Amine beat Dean Hamiti on a late takedown to earn the 1-seed, but it’s not much of an advantage. Hamiti will probably face Patrick Kennedy in one semi and Amine would have the winner of Kharchla and Alex Facundo in the other. There’s no advantage to be had, as regular season results—Amine > Hamiti > Kennedy > Facundo > Amine—indicate.

I’m going to go ahead and call for Hamiti to hold off Kennedy, then avenge his loss to Amine (after Amine avenges his loss to Facundo), but this is all guesswork. Give Kennedy 3rd and Facundo 4th, but go ahead and assume Facundo is going to do some damage at the NCAA’s. Kharchla needs one consolation win to lock up a bid. The real drama will be who gets 8th and who misses out. I like Caleb Fish and Danny Braunagel to get through, but for Andrew Sparks to slide past Maxx Mayfield, who will wait on—and get—an at-large bid. Bubba Wilson will be waiting as well and, though less confident, I bet he’ll end up in the NCAA draw, too.


Who wins 165?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Patrick Kennedy
    (11 votes)
  • 40%
    Alex Facundo
    (24 votes)
  • 13%
    Dean Hamiti
    (8 votes)
  • 21%
    Cam Amine
    (13 votes)
  • 6%
    Someone else?
    (4 votes)
60 votes total Vote Now

174 Pounds:

HWAHSQB: Carter Starocci is the clear favorite in this weight class. He’s not a Spencer Lee class Death Star, but he hasn’t lost since 2021 and the only active guy to beat him, DJ Washington, he majored 11-3 this year. Mr. Starocci is 16-0 with 13 bonus point wins. 7 seed Nelson Brands was the closest to beat him, losing 2-1.

Outside of the Nittany Lion, this weight class is freaking loaded. Across from him will likely be #2 ranked Cornhusker Mikey Labriola, who beat #3 seed and #5 ranked Buckeye Ethan Smith in the last dual of the year. Bailey O’Reilly (Minn 8) Edmond Ruth (ILL 9) DJ Washington (Ind 10) Nelson Brand (iowa 12) Troy Fisher (Nern 15) give the B1G 8 of the top 15 wrestlers in the country and they are fighting over a mere 7 auto qualification slots.

I like Starocci for the title and Labriola for runner-up. I’m going to take Edmond Ruth 3rd. He has the physical tools to beat anyone in the country and he’s really progressed since his early season 3-1 loss to Ethan Smith, who I’m picking 4th followed by Nelson Brands 5th, Washington 6th, and O’Reilly 7th, leaving Troy Fisher and 9 seed UM grappler Max Maylor sweating out at-large bids.

184 Pounds:

Atinat: Is Aaron Brooks a runaway favorite here? I certainly don’t think he’s as far ahead of his field as Lee or RBY are theirs. That said, it’s gonna take some huevos to pick against him. The Nittany Lion is unbeaten in the Big Ten on the year, and the only guy who should really be able to test him is Kaleb Romero. That said, I can’t shake the feeling that this is a chaotic weight, even if it settled a little bit last year. Brooks beat Romero, the likely two-seed, earlier this year in a 3-2 decision. It was one of two decision wins for the two-time national champion on the year, and the only one in the Big Ten. But he didn’t wrestle Salazar, or Malczewski, or Assad, or Pinto. In fact, he only wrestled four Big Ten starters this year.

If you want my prediction, it’s for Brooks to repeat, and Romero to runner-up. I think Finesilver probably gets third, and Assad fourth. Salazar, Malczewski, Pinto, Soldano, and Dow round out my national qualifiers from the Big Ten. But I’m less confident about this weight than any other in the Big Ten.

197 Pounds:

HWAHSQB: Finally, we get to another weight class that has some mystery about who will win. This is deep weight class, but it lacks the top end talent that the other nine weights in the B1G contain.

Nittany Lion Max Dean is the favorite, but he can be gotten. The next 8 guys have very little separation, but let’s try to figure them out, shall we?

2 seed Silas Allred beat 7 seed Gavin Hoffman who beat 4 seed Cam Caffey who beat 3 seed Zac Braunagel who beat 5 seed Jacob Warner who beat 2 seed Silas Allred who beat 3 seed Zac Braunagel who beat 8 seed Braxton Amos X2 who beat 9 seed Michael Foy who beat 5 seed Jacob Warner.........

Clear as mud, right?

I think 141 and 197 will be the most fun and have the most upsets and are the classes I will enjoy the most.

I’ve been really impressed with first year starter and RS Soph Silas Allred of Nebraska. I’m going to pick him to upset Dean in the final. Warner will right the ship and place 3rd followed by Illini Zac Braunagel, Terp Jaxon Smith, Spartan Cam Caffey, Gopher Michael Foy, Buckeye Gavin Hoffman, and the final auto bid will go to Badger Braxton Amos.

285 Pounds:

Atinat: The most straightforward weight to seed, in my opinion, and yet easily the most exciting weight in the conference. #1 Mason Parris has wins over #2 Greg Kerkvliet, #3 Tony Cassioppi, and #4 Lucas Davison this year. Kerkvliet beat Cassioppi twice this year, first unofficially at the All-Star Classic and then officially at State College. Cassioppi stayed unbeaten against Davison, though their match was a close one. Davison and Cassioppi both beat Hillger, who should be the five, Boone McDermott and Tate Orndorff could both be the six, Jaron Smith and Jacob Bullock should come next, and then we get a bunch of guys who won’t compete in this field. Except (at least) one of them will qualify for NCAAs, because we have another 9 allocations at this weight!

So, the big questions here: Can Kerkvliet get Parris back? He’s beaten him before. Can Cassioppi get Kerkvliet back? He was 3-0 going into this year. Can Davison catch Cassioppi? The Hawkeye junior hasn’t looked his best this year. My prediction, and it isn’t fun, is Kerkvliet-Parris-Davison-Cassioppi-Hillger-McDermott-Smith-Orndorff-Bullock.

Parris has looked fantastic this year, and don’t think I’m locking Kerkvliet in as an NCAA champ just yet. I just have been more impressed with the Nittany Lion sophomore the last two years. Cassioppi has looked a step slow this year, and his weight loss means he can’t compete as easily with big bodies like Davison and Hillger (who himself has gained quite a bit of mass). Please, Tony, prove me wrong. And not by losing to Hillger, because I don’t think that’s impossible.


Who’s the B1Ggest champion?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Greg Kerkvliet
    (40 votes)
  • 22%
    Mason Parris
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    Tony Cassioppi
    (4 votes)
  • 7%
    Someone else
    (5 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now

So there it is. The Big Ten Championships. Which weight are you most looking forward to?