We Must Break You Is All About Pre-Seeds

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The Big Ten announced pre-seeds for this weekend's Big Ten Tournament this week and, for the most part, they aren't too dissimilar than the projections our friend twade70 had in his excellent projections last week. But we'll go over things weight-by-weight in a moment.

But first, coverage notes! For the first time, every session of the Big Ten Tournament will be televised in some capacity. Sessions I-III (Saturday morning, Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon) will be streamed on the Big Ten Digital Network/Hawkeye All-Access, while Session IV (the finals) will be televised live on BTN on Sunday afternoon. BTDN/All-Access will cost you, but still: hooray! AM-800 KXIC will cover the action on the radio, too. As for the schedule...

Session I: Saturday, 9am CT
Session II: Saturday, 4pm CT
Session III: Sunday, 12pm CT
Session IV: Sunday, 2pm CT

Onto the pre-seeds...

125 (6 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Matt McDonough, Iowa (7-1)
2) Zach Sanders, Minnesota (7-1)
3) Nico Megaludis, Penn State (5-3)
4) Jesse Delgado, Illinois (6-2)
5) Levi Mele, Northwestern (6-2)
6) Jonni Dijulius, Ohio State (4-3)
7) Camden Eppert, Purdue (3-4)
8) Brenan Lyon, Michigan State (1-0)

Analysis: Some changes at the bottom of the seeds, but the only significant difference between these pre-seeds and our projected seeds from a few days ago is Megaludis and Delgado flipping at the 3/4 seeds. Megaludis and Delgado didn't wrestle this year, but Megaludis beat Mele, who beat Delgado. The more relevant issue is that this now sets up a a third McD-Delgado match in the B1G semis; they split the first two matchups and Delgado might be the trickiest matchup for McD in the entire league. Still, McD beat him two weeks ago, so there's no reason to be too fearful. McD-Sanders III still looks like fait accompli here.

Winner: Matt McDonough def. Zach Sanders

Route to Title: Lyon (quarterfinals), Delgado (semifinals), Sanders (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Lyon: 0-0 this year, 2-0 overall (2 pins in 2009-10)
Delgado: 1-1 this year (lost 11-7 decision in SV, won 6-3 decision)
Sanders: 2-0 this year, 6-0 overall (7-1 and 7-4 decisions this year; 10-3 decision in 2010-11; 6-4 decision and 13-2 and 8-0 major decisions in 2009-10)

Bonus Point Potential: High against Lyon, low against Delgado and Sanders

NCAA Qualification Notes: If Iowa, Penn State, and Minnesota wrestle to seed, they'll have no difficulty qualifying here. I don't expect them to have any trouble.

133 (7 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Logan Stieber, Ohio State (7-1)
2) Tony Ramos, Iowa (7-1)
3) B.J. Futrell, Illinois (7-1)
4) Chris Dardanes, Minnesota (5-2)
5) Cashe Quiroga, Purdue (4-3)
6) Zac Stevens, Michigan (4-4)
7) Ridge Kiley, Nebraska (4-4)
8) Frank Martellotti, Penn State (3-4)

Analysis: These pre-seeds are identical to twade's projections from the other day; hooray! Barring any freak upsets, this weight really comes down to three questions:

1) Can Ramos beat Futrell for a fourth time this season?
2) Can Stieber avenge his earlier loss to Dardanes?
3) Can Ramos manage to get a takedown against Stieber?

My guesses to those questions? Yes, yes, and... definitely maybe. But until I see it, I remain a little skeptical.

Winner: Logan Stieber dec. Tony Ramos

Route to Title: Kiley (quarterfinals), Futrell (semifinals), Stieber (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Kiley: 1-0 this year, 2-0 overall (7-4 decision in 2010-11; 10-3 decision this year)
Futrell: 3-0 this year, 4-1 overall (13-5 major decision and 6-2 and 5-2 decisions this year; 9-6 decision loss and 6-2 decision win last year)
Stieber: 0-1 this year, 0-1 overall (7-0 decision loss this year)

Bonus Point Potential: Decent against Kiley, poor against Futrell and Stieber

NCAA Qualification Notes: If they wrestle to seed, Iowa and Minnesota will be fine at 133. Penn State will need Martellotti to pull an upset to get into the top-7. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to beat any of those wrestlers when he faced them earlier this year, so it's not going to be easy for Martellotti to grab a spot here.

141 (5 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Kellen Russell, Michigan (8-0)
2) Hunter Stieber, Ohio State (5-1)
3) Montell Marion, Iowa (6-1)
4) Nick Dardanes, Minnesota (5-2)
5) Jake Sueflohn, Nebraska (5-2)
6) Daryl Thomas, Illinois (5-3)
7) Matt Ortega, Indiana (3-4)
8) Bryan Pearsall, Penn State (3-4)

Analysis: The only difference between these pre-seeds and the earlier projections is Ortega and Pearsall flip-flopping -- that's pretty good. Since this is 141, there's one key question at work: will we get Good Montell or Bad Montell? Good Montell should have an excellent opportunity to make the finals and get a long-awaited rematch with Russell. Bad Montell will be out in the semis.

Winner: Kellen Russell def. Montell Marion

Route to Title: Thomas (quarterfinals), Stieber (semifinals), Russell (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Thomas: 2-0 this year, 2-0 overall (10-2 major decision and 6-2 decision this year)
Stieber: 0-1 this year, 0-1 overall (4-2 decision loss this year)
Russell: 0-1 this year, 0-1 overall (9-5 decision loss in SV last year)

Bonus Point Potential: Decent against Thomas, poor against Stieber and Russell

NCAA Qualification Notes: With only five spots, it behooves the top-5 here to avoid upsets; Marion and Dardanes should have little trouble. Pearsall will really need to pull some upsets to crack the top-5, though. I don't look for him to make it.

149 (9 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Frank Molinaro, Penn State (8-0)
2) Eric Grajales, Michigan (5-2)
3) Dylan Ness, Minnesota (5-3)
4) Ivan Lopouchanski, Purdue (6-2)
5) Cam Tessari, Ohio State (4-1)
6) Taylor Walsh, Indiana (5-2)
7) Eric Terrazas, Illinois (5-3)
8) Kaleb Friedley, Northwestern (3-4)
9) Dan Osterman, Michigan State (2-6)
10) Mike Kelly, Iowa (2-5)
11) Skylar Galloway, Nebraska (0-2)
12) Frank Baer, Wisconsin (0-1)

Analysis: Tessari and Lopouchanski swap spots, but otherwise this looks identical to the projected seeds from a few days ago, although these go out to 12 (presumably because there are 9 NCAA qualifying spots in play here). If everyone wrestles to seed here, Mike Kelly will be left out in the cold. He's going to need to win a match or two to get in the top-9 and he's likely going to have to beat at least one wrestler seeded higher than he is.

Winner: Frank Molinario dec. Eric Grajales

Route to Title: ??? The problem is I don't know how they'll handle the guys seeded 9-12 here. I couldn't find an example of where they had seeded guys past 8 in the past. The guys who are seeded 9-12 here would have been unseeded in the past and those guys would have been randomly drawn against the 1-8 seeds in pigtail matches. I'm not sure if they'll be doing that here or if they'll be seeding them like a typical 12 team bracket (1-4 get byes, 5-12, 6-11, etc.). Until we see the brackets, it's difficult to chart a path for Kelly. Also, the odds of Kelly winning a title this weekend are preposterously small unless he's possessed by the spirit of Brent Metcalf.

Record Against Likely Opponents: n/a

Bonus Point Potential: n/a

NCAA Qualification Notes: Penn State and Minnesota should have little trouble qualifying guys. Iowa is up in the air and it really depends on what the bracket looks like for Kelly.

157 (6 NCAA Qualifying Spots)
1) Jason Welch, Northwestern (8-0)
2) Dylan Alton, Penn State (6-2)
3) James Green, Nebraska (7-1)
4) Anthony Jones, Michigan State (5-3)
5) Josh Demas, Ohio State (4-3)
6) Derek St. John, Iowa (2-1)
7) Tommy Churchard, Purdue (4-6)
8) Jackson Morse, Illinois (3-5)

Analysis: Seeds 1-6 match twade's projections from a few days ago, but Churchad and Morse slide into the bottom of the seeds. 6 is a rough seed for DSJ since it means he's going to have to beat the three best wrestlers at 157 in the Big Ten to claim a B1G title. Green is an explosive and dangerous wrestler, but he's also the sort of wrestler that DSJ could probably beat easily if he was 100%: his gas tank is questionable and he's not a particularly strong rider. Unfortunately, DSJ isn't 100%, although he did look a bit better at the National Duals semis and finals a few weeks ago. This will be a very difficult opening match for him, though. If he looks good against Green and wins, I think he has a good shot to win a title: Alton is a good wrestler but not a bad matchup for DSJ and Welch is a guy who DSJ has owned in the past. On the other hand, if he doesn't look good against Green, hold your breath: simple qualification could be an adventure at that point (although DSJ should be able to finish in the top-6).

Winner: James Green def. Jason Welch

Route to Title: Green (quarters), Alton (semis), Welch (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Green: 0-0 this year, 0-0 overall
Alton: 0-0 this year, 0-0 overall
Welch: 0-0 this year, 3-0 overall (4-2, 5-2, and 6-1 decision wins in 2010-11)

Bonus Point Potential: Slim to none.

NCAA Qualification Notes: Penn State should have no trouble qualifying at this weight. Iowa should be fine as well if DSJ is healthy. Minnesota is unlikely to qualify anyone here.

165 (8 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) David Taylor, Penn State (8-0)
2) Mike Evans, Iowa (6-2)
3) Robert Kokesh, Nebraska (6-2)
4) Ben Jordan, Wisconsin (3-3)
5) Conrad Polz, Illinois (6-1)
6) Dan Yates, Michigan (4-3)
7) Cody Yohn, Minnesota (2-5)
8) Derek Garcia, Ohio State (4-4)

Analysis: Another set of pre-seeds that perfectly match the projections from a few days ago; huzzah! We've said this a lot (this year and in this preview) but it's true because Iowa's wrestlers have had such split personalities this year: when the good side shows up, they notch wins over big-time opponents and even dominate foes, but when the bad side shows up they lose to opponents they should beat. So it goes for Mike Evans, too. Evans has two losses in B1G dual meet competition, a 9-4 decision loss to #1 seed (and national favorite) David Taylor... and a 6-5 loss to #8 seed Derek Garcia. Huh? He also has a pin over Yohn... and a 5-3 decision loss to him in sudden victory. Wha? Consistent results haven't always been easy to come by for Evans. If the "good Evans" shows up -- the one that steamrolled Jordan and Yohn and beat Kokesh fairly handily, he has an excellent shot to make the finals. If the "bad Evans" shows up -- the one who lost to Garcia and Yohn, he could find himself having to do work in the consolation round in a hurry. Right now, I don't have faith in him getting by Kokesh a second time.

Winner: David Taylor def. Robert Kokesh

Route to Title: Yohn (quarters), Kokesh (semis), and Taylor (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Yohn: 1-1 this year, 1-1 overall (Fall in 6:02 and 5-3 decision loss in SV this year)
Kokesh: 1-0 this year, 1-0 overall (7-3 decision win this year)
Taylor: 0-1 this year, 0-1 overall (9-4 decision loss this year)

Bonus Point Potential: Possible against Yohn, very unlikely against Kokesh and Taylor

NCAA Qualification Notes: Penn State will have zero difficulties qualifying here and Iowa shouldn't have any issues, either. If things go according to seed, Minnesota will be fine as well. But if the bad Cody Yohn shows up, they could find themselves on the outside looking in.

174 (9 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Ed Ruth, Penn State (8-0)
2) Logan Storley, Minnesota (7-0)
3) Ethen Lofthouse, Iowa (5-2)
4) Justin Zeerip, Michigan (4-3)
5) Nick Heflin, Ohio State (3-2)
6) Curran Jacobs, Michigan State (5-3)
7) Tyler Koehn, Nebraska (4-4)
8) Jordan Blanton, Illinois (3-2)
9) Lee Munster, Northwestern (3-5)
10) Ryan LeBlanc, Indiana (2-5)
11) Drake Stein, Purdue (2-7)
12) Frank Cousins, Wisconsin (0-6)

Analysis: The top three pre-seeds match the projections we had earlier, while Heflin and Zeerip flip spots, as do Jacobs and Koehn. Ethen has been wrestling well lately and he needs to carry that momentum into this tournament: he dominated lesser competition in Ames during the first weekend of the National Duals and he bested a pair of ranked wrestlers (Blanton, Storley) in Stillwater during the second weekend of the Duals. Right now he's set up for a rubber match with Storley in the B1G semis. Of course, to get there he'll need to avenge a loss to Jacobs from last year. Ethen is wrestling well now, which is good, but there's also not a lot of separation between the guys seeded 2-6, so he'll need to be on guard to avoid any costly upsets.

Winner: Ed Ruth def. Ethen Lofthouse

Route to Title: Jacobs (quarters), Storley (semis), Ruth (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Jacobs: 0-0 this year, 0-1 overall (6-5 decision loss in 2010-11)
Storley: 1-1 this year, 1-1 overall (4-3 decision win and 5-3 decision loss this year)
Ruth: 0-1 this year, 0-3 overall (10-1 major decision loss this year, 10-3 and 3-2 decision losses in 2010-11)

Bonus Point Potential: Very little.

NCAA Qualification Notes: The Big Ten qualified nine wrestlers at this weight and Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa have the top three wrestlers in the Big Ten at this weight -- they should have no trouble qualifying guys here.

184 (7 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Kevin Steinhaus, Minnesota (8-0)
2) Quentin Wright, Penn State (7-1)
3) Josh Ihnen, Nebraska (6-2)
4) Grant Gambrall, Iowa (0-0 at 184)
5)C.J. Magrum, Ohio State (3-0)
6) Braden Atwood, Purdue (6-2)
7) Tony Dallago, Illinois (6-2)
8) Ian Hinton, Michigan State (2-4)

Analysis: A pleasant surprise here with Gambrall grabbing the #4 seed, rather than the #6 seed that we had in the earlier projection. Gambrall's move up to #4 moves Magrum and Atwood each down a notch. The good news is this sets up a quarterfinal match between Gambrall and Magrum, who he cruised against last year (Ihnen, his quarterfinal opponent if he had remained a #6 seed, beat him 4-2 in OT last year). The bad news is that it sets up a potential semifinal matchup with Steinhaus, who Gambrall has yet to beat. On the other hand, a semifinal matchup with Wright didn't look any less daunting. The top two guys at this weight are very, very good and Gambrall will have his hands full with either of them.

Winner: Quentin Wright def. Kevin Steinhaus

Route to Title: Magrum (quarters), Steinhaus (semis), Wright (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Magrum: 0-0 this year, 1-0 overall (10-3 decision win in 2010-11)
Steinhaus: 0-1 this year, 0-3 overall (3-1 decision loss this year, 4-1 and 5-4 decision losses in 2010-11)
Wright: 0-0 this year, 1-1 overall (8-3 decision win and 3:53 pinfall loss in 2010-11)

Bonus Point Potential: Nil.

NCAA Qualification Notes: The Big Ten qualified 7 spots at this weight and, per the pre-seeds, Minnesota, Penn State, and Iowa have three of the top four wrestlers at the weight. Steinhaus and and Wright should have little trouble qualifying Minnesota and PSU and, if Gambrall wrestles as well as he did in Stillwater two weeks ago, he should be just fine, too.

197 (7 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Sonny Yohn, Minnesota (6-1)
2) Matt Powless, Indiana (7-0)
3) Morgan McIntosh, Penn State (5-1)
4) Max Huntley, Michigan (3-3)
5) Mario Gonzalez, Illinois (6-2)
6) Andrew Campolattano, Ohio State (5-3)
7) James Nakashima, Nebraska (4-3)
8) A.J. Kissel, Purdue (2-3)

Analysis: Some differences from the projections here, with Campolattano dropping from a #4 seed to #6 (with Huntley and Gonzalez consequently each moving up a slot) and Kissel replacing Nick Diarmid at the #8 seed. It's all pretty meaningless for our purposes, though. For Iowa, this weight comes down to a few things: what does the draw look like for Vinnie Wagner (I'm assuming he will get the nod here over Tomas Lira, since Wagner wrestled at 197 in Stillwater two weeks ago) and can he pull an upset or two? Ideally, he would get drawn against Nakashima or Kissel in the pigtails, since he might have a decent shot at upsetting one of them.

Winner: Matt Powless def. Sonny Yohn

Route to Title: n/a

Record Against Likely Opponents: n/a

Bonus Point Potential: lol

NCAA Qualification Notes: Minnesota has the top-ranked guy here, so it would take an epic fail by Sonny Yawn to fail to qualify. Assuming he's healthy, Penn State's McIntosh shouldn't have much difficulty grabbing one of the seven available spots here, either. As for Vinnie... again, it comes down to what his draw looks like. The fact that the Big Ten qualified seven here is reason for a little more optimism, but it's still going to be a tough road to hoe.

HWT (10 NCAA qualifying spots)
1) Tony Nelson, Minnesota (8-0)
2) Cameron Wade, Penn State (7-1)
3) Ben Apland, Michigan (6-2)
4) Tucker Lane, Nebraska (5-3)
5) Mike McMullan, Northwestern (5-3)
6) Bobby Telford, Iowa (2-2)
7) Adam Chalfant, Indiana (3-3)
8) Roger Vukobratovich, Purdue (4-4)
9) Peter Capone, Ohio State (2-6)
10) Steve Andrus, Michigan State (1-3)
11) Pat Walker, Illinois (2-6)
12) Cole Tobin, Wisconsin (0-8)

Analysis: McMullan moves up from the #7 seed in the projections to the #5 seed here, which moves Telford down a spot. Vukobratovitch moves from #6 to #8 and Chalfant bumps up to #7 from #8. The move to #6 actually isn't a bad one for Bobby, though -- he's now staring at a quarterfinals matchup with Michigan's Apland, who has been somewhat beatable this year. Telford faced Lane earlier this season and couldn't do much against him. Regardless, this is another weight where it matters a lot which version shows up: "Good Telford" could make a little noise here, but "Bad Telford" will be scraping by at the bottom of the Big Ten's qualifiers. Hopefully Bobby's ready to go.

Winner: Tony Nelson def. Cameron Wade

Route to Title: Apland (quarters), Wade (semis), Nelson (finals)

Record Against Likely Opponents:
Apland: 0-0 this year, 0-0 overall
Wade: 0-0 this year, 0-0 overall
Nelson: 0-1 this year, 0-1 overall (4-0 decision loss this year)

Bonus Point Potential: haha

NCAA Qualification Notes: With 10 (!) qualifiers, it would be absolutely gobsmacking if Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa didn't qualify with ease here. If Telford fucks around so much that he doesn't even get one of the automatic qualifying spots at this weight, then frankly he doesn't deserve to go to the NCAA Tournament anyway -- and it's not likely that he would be able to do much for Iowa if he did get a wildcard. Telford needs to win his way impressively -- for our sake, but mainly for his own sake. He needs some wins to start feeling confident again.

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