We don't like to not send a full team to the big dance. In fact it really really sucks. Is it impossible to win a team title without a full team? No of course not. We did it in 2009 when we were not able to send someone at 157. We also didn't have an individual champion. 2009 was kind of an odd year, I'll admit. No team had more than one champion, and a lot of non-dominant squads did real well. We also barely won that year. We also did it in 2008, where we had a pretty large margin of victory. We had some pretty damn good wrestlers who did quite well and picked up some great BP wins in addition to the advancement points. I'm not going to go back and find the last team to win a team title with less than 9 people. I am sure it has been done at some point.
To the point though. It makes winning a team title hard. Especially when we have some guys who should qualify but are in danger of scoring on the real low side. In addition, (and I won’t make predictions) there are teams who can make a claim to have multiple potential champions this year.
Back to the point. We are going to need EVERY point we can get EVERYWHERE. And this means getting AS MANY people to the tournament as possible. Even if it means they go to the wrestlebacks and just scratch out a few wins (optimistic). The reality of not sending a full team is pretty much here. The reality of sending just 8 wrestlers is also becoming an increasing possibility. Were not really in danger anywhere else although (knocks on wood) it is possible we just flop somewhere in the lineup.
So lets take a deeper look.
The way I set this up is kinda random, just give you some random match ups of guys who we might see. I am not really concluding anything based of any one match. I want more to just get a general sense of the field and where we might stand, and give you some info about some of the other guys and how they have done against Big Ten guys. Obviously tournaments are not just 1v1 and that may be a fail way to analyze our chances. It seems the easiest way though, and most accessible to everyone. It also allows you to draw your own conclusions.
149--There is little to no reason to think that Mike Kelly won't get the nod here. Everyone else is sitting out this season, and I don't see Brands burning a redshirt at the end of the season. What is the good news, the Big Ten should send a pretty large amount of wrestlers at this class. I could easily see the number match the 8 set aside last year. Of course that is also the bad news. The Big Ten has 7 wrestlers ranked in the top 20 and although I don't care too much for rankings it would be hard to say to a guy like Terrazas or Ness that they don’t get a spot.
Kelly was unable to get it done this weekend against Illinois' Eric Terrazas (3-2 DEC). He also wasn't able to get it done against Indiana's Walsh. He also has had not so good showings against Ness. So as far as ranked guys go he empirically has not done to great. Also, Terrazas and Walsh are at the lower end of guys based on how they have done this year. But those are the guys we would be looking to slip in past. Those and the guys below.
Nebraska has a variety of guys at 149 and I am sure one of them will be in contention for one of the last spots. They all have ok records, against sub-par opponents and have similar results as Kelly against the better guys.
Wisconsin doesn't have much at 149 they most recently have gone with a RSFROSH who is 0-3, they forfeit against us sooooo, count them out?
jNW--Friedley edged out Kelly in the dual meet. That is about all I have to say here. It was real close.
MSU-Dan Osterman has done good against not so good competition, but has been free game and has been eaten up by most Big Ten opponents. He pinned Terrazas (fast really random)? Won a narrow decision against one of Nebraska's 149er. I don't see him doing much damage. I think this is a guy Kelly could handle.
So Kelly hasn’t gotten taken apart by anyone he has seen this year (other then the pair of MD from Ness). When we wrestle who will be a huge factor. The lesson at 149 I think is don't count us out. If the Big Ten gets 7 or 8 places we have a shot. Kelly would need to see just a small improvement from his matches against guys like Terraza and Walsh and get it done against the guys from the other schools listed above. He goes with a ton of heart and gives a lot of effort, against the better guys that probably isn't enough, but with his back against the wall against a guy like Walsh, he might have just enough.
197--Soooo last year 6 slots were put aside for 197. Let's assume that Wagner gets the nod at 197 based on the fact that he wrestled this past weekend. Lira has just not been able to get it done, and I'm not saying Brands is into rewarding guys for being a senior/personal sacrifice (cause he isn't) but this would be the place where it would happen. Anyways, The Big Ten isn't really stacked at this weight. 6 would be a reasonable expectation, might be less. Lots of parity in the lower half of the Big Ten. Which (and I am not sure how about they go giving seeds) would be a reason to give less auto-bids in my opinion. I don’t think they want a bunch of middle of the road Big Ten wrestlers who have just beat up on each other, and that is mostly what the lower half of the Big Ten this year is.
Indiana--Minn--PSU--Michigan--Illinois all have ranked guys. I would say the top three are pretty secure. McIntosh from PSU has generally got the job done. The other two (Powless and Yohn should get it done pretty easily). Wagner kept it close against Yohn this weekend, but I don't really see that as being a sign he can beat him at the Big Tens. Everyone else in the Big Ten I think has a chance to not make it. The question is will Wagner be a guy who can slip in. Huntley from Michigan has slipped up a couple times this year, but has also had close matches against guys ranked ahead of him. Gonzalez from Illinois just beat Wagner this weekend (11-6). It looked like a not so good match, and I think this was the match that Gonzalez “let” Wagner get a TD at the end
So everyone else--
Wisconsin--Hein Jackson doesn't look too promising. He barley beat Lira at 197. He doesn't have any real big wins, but has kept it close against Yohn and Gonzalez. Which is surprising, cause he has been beat by other guys in this lower part. His matches that are close to me look more like Yohn and Gonazalez not being able to push the gap farther not Jacksons ability to hang with them.
jNW--John Schoen is 1-1 against GG in two close matches. He has beat Hein Jackson and also an upset of Gonzalez. However he hasn't been consistent at all, and has lost to some pretty not good guys. He does however have close matches against McIntosh and and Michigan's Huntley. Looks like a guy Wagner could handle if he puts it together, winning against Grant early in the season doesn't say much...
Ohio State--Andrew Campolattano--Another around .500 wreslter who beat GG. I think this is the guy that Ohio State will send. I think he is a guy we would struggle against. He has beaten most guys he should and lost pretty closely to the better guys in the conference. Not sure why he came on so late.
Purdue--A.J. Kissel--A guy who has gone recently but not sure if he will be the one. He is 5-3, beating Jackson and Schoen (fall against Jackson). He also kept it close against Powless. This guy might be a sleeper who could shake up the situation and take a spot.
Nebraska--James Nakashima--17-7 wrestler who got a lot of wins against lesser competition. Beat Kissel and also Jackson. Beat MSUs guy which isn't saying a lot. He lost to GG in overtime when we went to Omaha. He has won 5 of the last 6 (one of them a forfeit). So he has been showing up and maybe is building towards something.
MSU--Nick McDiarmid--.500 wrestler. Not very impressive against the Big Ten, he has been wrestling a lot of number 2 guys from other squads. Wagner could make some ground here.
So I think most of our gut feelings are probably right. 149 will be tough but not as bad as 197. If Kelly can put something together I think he has a pretty decent shot at grabbing an auto-bid especially if 149 grabs as many bids as last year. If anyone’s coaching staff can get a fringe guy into the tournament it is Iowa’s. 197 seems to be a little more trouble and somewhat less predictable. A couple late season guys have broken through. It is also yet to be seen how Wagner will do at 197 generally. His hard-wrestling style generally doesn’t suit moving up a weight class where you have to be pickier about when you take shots. That being said, an active 197 guy might throw a few of these guys off their game. If I went with my gut I would have to say we have a chance at 149, but probably not a great chance at 197. Never know though, Wagner’s heart, effort, and hard wrestling may break through at a tournament and may work in his favor as the tournament goes on.
184 just sorta floats in my head, but Grant looked better this weekend then he looked at 197, and hopefully will get it in gear.
I'm sorta a newish wrestling fan. If I blew something totally wrong I apologize. I could also be missing who certian teams are sending but based on who we have seen late in the season these look like the guys.
Of course the chance also lingers that something not so good happens at another weight. Outside of a freak accident at some of our proven weights, the chance of certian weight classes busting is a possibility but not a huge risk.