Big Ten Wrestling Tournament 2013: Breaking Down the Bracket

The official bracket is out -- let's break it down.

The official seeds -- and bracket! -- for the 2013 Big Ten Tournament were released this afternoon, so let's break them down. As expected, not much changed in the way of the seeds from the pre-seeds on Monday. I'll also call out the bonus point potential at each weight, paying particular attention to Iowa, Penn State, and Minnesota, since those three teams figure to be the ones vying for the championship on Sunday.

125

WHAT CHANGED
Nothing.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Neither McD nor Megaludis got a pigtail match, so neither team will have a shot to get a major decision, tech fall, or pin there. This is probably a slight edge to Iowa; given the state of the bottom of the barrel 125ers in the Big Ten (Wisconsin has a guy who's 3-17 and Nebraska has a guy who's 2-15), I would expect both McD and Megaludis to get bonus points from a match with those guys (even with McD's struggles this year), but given McD's occasional issues with stamina this year, it might be for the best if he doesn't have to wrestle three matches on Saturday.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: none
QF: vs. #8 Dom Malone (Northwestern)
SF: vs. #4 Sean Boyle (Michigan) OR #5 Nikko Triggas (Ohio State)
F: vs. #2 Nico Megaludis (Penn St) or #3 Jesse Delgado (Illinois), probably

133

WHAT CHANGED
Chris Dardanes (previously the #7 seed) and Cashe Quiroga (previously the #6 seed) swapped places, so Dardanes is now the #6 seed and Quiroga is now the #7 seed.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Tony Ramos got a pigtail match against UN Brandon Fifield (12-16) of Michigan State. Neither Jordan Conaway (Penn State) nor Chris Dardanes (Minnesota) has a pigtail match, so: advantage Iowa. Ramos beat Fifield via 15-4 major decision earlier this season, so I'd certainly expect him to get bonus points in the rematch as well. Could be a good chance for a pin, given Ramos' recent pinfall streak. The seeding flip-flop for Dardanes and Quiroga means that Ramos will now see Quiroga in the quarterfinals. He and Quiroga have never wrestled. While Ramos has two pins over Dardanes in their last three matches, all three matches were also pretty close to being run-of-the-mill decisions, so I'm willing to let Ramos take his chances with bonusing Quiroga.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: vs. UN Brandon Fifield (Michigan State)
QF: vs. #7 Cashe Quiroga (Purdue)
SF: vs. #3 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin), probably
F: vs. #1 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State), probably

141

WHAT CHANGED
Zip.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Ballweg gets Indiana Alex Gregory (5-12) in the pigtail round. This should be a perfect confidence-builder match for Ballweg. He was easily bonusing guys like this earlier in the season; hopefully Ballweg can recapture that form here. Ballweg's quarterfinal opponent will be Ridge Kiley (Nebraska) if he gets by Gregory; Ballweg only beat him 6-1 earlier this season, so I'm not brimming with confidence at his ability to get bonus points here. Pearsall (PSU) gets Wisconsin's Thomas Kelliher (11-14) in the pigtail round; he pinned Kelliher in 1:22 earlier this season. Let's hope that doesn't happen again. Dardanes (Minnesota) has no pigtail opponent.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: vs. UN Alex Gregory (Indiana)
QF: vs. #6 Ridge Kiley (Nebraska)
SF: vs. #2 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota), probably
F: vs. #1 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State), probably

NOTE: Assuming Ballweg doesn't beat Dardanes in their rubber match in the semis, there's a good chance that he could run into Pearsall in the consolation bracket on Sunday morning; if that happens, it will be crucial for Ballweg to beat him and prevent Pearsall from finishing any higher than 5th.

149

WHAT CHANGED
A lot. #5 Cam Tessari was ruled out for a violation of team rules. Purdue's Ivan Lopouchanski moved from #3 to #2 for some reason. Andrew Alton (PSU) moved from #6 to #5. Caleb Ervin (Illinois) moved from #7 to #6. Dan Osterman (Michigan State) moved from #8 to #7. Ohio State's Ian Paddock replaces Tessari as OSU's representative and slides in at #8. Josh Dziewa's #9 pre-seed proves to be meaningless, as he's matched up with #5 Andrew Alton in a pigtail match.

BONUS POINT WATCH
We should probably just focusing on plain WINNING a match here, right? Dziewa is in a pigtail match, but Alton is a rough draw in the first round for a newbie to 149. Still, if Dziewa can pull off the upset, it would be huge for Iowa and a potentially big blow for Penn State.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: vs. #5 Andrew Alton (Penn State)
QF: vs. #4 Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska)
SF: vs. #1 Eric Grajales (Michigan), probably
F: vs. #2 Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue) or #3 Dylan Ness (Minnesota)

NOTE: That's... a lot of very wishful thinking. If Dziewa loses his pigtail match to Alton, he'll face the loser of the #3 Ness vs. #6 Ervin quarterfinal match, which does not sound promising. Dziewa is facing a VERY uphill battle to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, frankly.

157

WHAT CHANGED
Not a thing.

BONUS POINT WATCH
St. John has a pigtail match against Michigan's Collin Zeerip; DSJ racked up a 22-7 tech fall against Zeerip earlier this year, so this seems like a good opportunity for him to earn Iowa a few bonus points. He was very close to getting a major decision over Zilverberg at National Duals, too, so perhaps he can add another bonus point to Iowa's tally in the quarters. Dylan Alton (PSU) has a pigtail match with Wisconsin's Kalvin York (5-13); they have not wrestled before.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: vs. UN Collin Zeerip (Michigan)
QF: vs. #8 Danny Zilverberg (Minnesota)
SF: vs. #4 James Green (Nebraska) or #5 Taylor Walsh (Indiana), probably
F: vs. #2 Jason Welch (Northwestern) or #3 Dylan Alton (Penn State), probably

165

WHAT CHANGED
Nada.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Moore has no pigtail match, so no particularly good chances for bonus points for him. #5 Cody Yohn (Minnesota) has a pigtail match with #12 Nick Proctor (Michigan State); Yohn pinned him in 1:24 earlier this season, so hopefully history doesn't repeat itself at the Big Tens. The best news is that #1 David Taylor (Penn State) does NOT have a pigtail match, which means one fewer match for him to pummel guys into submission and earn bonus points.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: none
QF: vs. #5 Cody Yohn (Minnesota), probably
SF: vs. #1 David Taylor (Penn State), probably
F: yeah, never mind

NOTE: Assuming Nick Moore beats Yawn and loses to the Unicorn, he'll drop into the consolation bracket for Sunday's action. There's a good chance he would face either #6 Pierce Harger (jNW) or #7 Ryan LeBlanc (Indiana) in his first match there; Moore hasn't faced either guy before.

174

WHAT CHANGED
Zilch.

BONUS POINT WATCH
174 works like a traditional bracket featuring 12 seeded objects, so the 1-4 seeds all sit out the pigtail round, including Storley (Minnesota) and The 'Stache. Penn State's Matt Brown has a pigtail match against #12 Cheney Dale; he pinned Dale in 6:40 earlier this year. Don't let that happen again, Dale. Beyond the pigtail round, though, the competition at this weight looks so fierce that I don't really expect to see many bonus points, outside of the shock pinfall variety.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: none
QF: vs. #7 Lee Munster (jNW) or #10 Chad Welch (Purdue)
SF: vs. #3 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska), probably
F: vs. #1 Logan Storley (Minnesota), probably

184

WHAT CHANGED
Bupkis.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Lofthouse doesn't have a pigtail match at this weight. More importantly, neither does Ed Ruth, which denies Penn State a great opportunity to tack on a few more points. Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) faces Jacob Berkowitz (jNW) in a pigtail match; they've never wrestled before. Steinhaus and (especially) Ruth will have good opportunities to get bonus points beyond the pigtail round; I'll just settle for Lofthouse getting any wins in the winner's side of the bracket.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: none
QF: vs. #4 John Rizqallah (Michigan State), probably
SF: vs. #1 Ed Ruth (Penn State), probably
F: lol no

NOTE: If Lofthouse falls in the semifinals to Ruth, he's likely to see either #6 Tony Dallago (Illinois) or #7 Luke Sheridan (Indiana) in his first match in the consolation bracket. Lofthouse beat Dallago 9-5 earlier this season.

197

WHAT CHANGED
Zippo. Although I just now noticed that Indiana does not have a wrestler at this weight -- how sad.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Again, we're focused on wins here, not really bonus points. Burak beat Kolb via 3-1 decision (in OT) earlier this season, so even this pigtail round will be no gimme for Burak. Wins beyond that round will be very welcome surprises. The better news is that #1 Wright (PSU) and #2 Schiller (Minnesota) each have byes in the pigtail rounds, denying them the chance to bonus some of the B1G's lower lights at 197.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: vs. #11 Caleb Kolb (Nebraska)
QF: vs. #3 Mario Gonzalez (Illinois)
SF: vs. #2 Scott Schiller (Minnesota), probably
F: vs. #1 Quentin Wright (Penn State), probably

NOTE: If Burak loses to Gonzalez, he'll likely face #7 Jackson Hein (Wisconsin) in his first match in the consolation bracket; they didn't wrestle this year. If he loses to Schiller, he'll likely see #4 Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State) or #5 Braden Atwood (Purdue).

285

WHAT CHANGED
The only change is Kosta Karageorge (OSU) replacing Nick Tavanello (OSU) as the #10 seed. I'm not sure, but I think he might be just a little bit Greek.

BONUS POINT WATCH
Much like 174, 285 is set up like a traditional bracket featuring 12 individuals or teams, with the 1-4 seeds getting byes, including Telford, the #4 seed. That means #1 Nelson (Minnesota) also has a bye in the pigtail round. #7 Jimmy Lawson (PSU) faces #10 Karageorge in the pigtail round; they didn't wrestle earlier this year.

PATH TO THE TITLE
Pig: none
QF: vs. #5 Mike McClure (Michigan State), probably
SF: vs. #1 Tony Nelson (Minnesota), probably
F: uh, never mind

NOTE: If Telford loses to Nelson in the semifinals, he's likely to see #6 Adam Chalfant (Indiana) or #7 Jimmy Lawson (PSU) in his first match in the consolation bracket on Sunday; he hasn't faced either guy in the past.

Overall, the placement of the pigtail matches really looks to favor Iowa over Penn State and Minnesota.

IOWA: Ramos (133), Ballweg (141), Dziewa (149), St. John (157), and 197 (Burak)
PENN ST: Pearsall (141), Alton (149), Alton (157), Brown (174), Lawson (285)
MINNY: Thorn (125), Ness (149), Yohn (165), Steinhaus (184)

Minnesota only has four of their wrestlers in pigtail matches, although two of them (Ness and Steinhaus) should have good opportunities to get bonus points. Iowa has five wrestlers in pigtail matches, including their best bonus point guy (Ramos) and two guys who have been good about getting bonus points against overmatched opposition this year (Ballweg, St. John). Penn State also has five wrestlers in pigtail matches, but none of their bonus point gods (Taylor, Ruth, Wright). That said, most of the guys they have going could definitely get bonus points in their pigtail matches if things work out.

Still, on paper this is a set-up that definitely favors Iowa. Iowa will need every last point to have a shot at winning a Big Ten title, so it's imperative that Iowa's wrestlers take advantage of this situation -- and that the guys facing Penn State and Minnesota don't give up "cheap" bonus points to their opponents.

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