After a final coaches' meeting to debate seeds and whatnot, the Big Ten released the official bracket for the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament. As I predicted the other day, there was little (if any) movement in the seedings from the released pre-seeds. Tony Ramos remains a 3-seed at 133 despite being the only competitor undefeated during the dual meet season and the only man to beat the 1-seed. C'est la vie.
Unfortunately, the brackets didn't bring much in the way of good news for Iowa -- and certainly not in comparison to Penn State. Iowa has four guys wrestling in the first round (or "pigtail" round); we knew Mark Ballweg would be one of them at 149, but the hope was that a few of our guys most likely to score bonus points (i.e., McD, Ramos, Marion) would be the other guys who got the bonus matches. Nope. Instead, DSJ, Ethen Lofthouse, and Luke Lofthouse will be the ones out there trying to secure some much-needed bonus points for Iowa.
Penn State has five wrestlers in the first round, although two of them are unseeded (Vollrath at 165, Ruggear at 197). And, on the bright side, two of their bonus point machines (David Taylor and Ed Ruth) weren't picked to wrestle in the extra matches. But Andrew Long, Quentin Wright, and Brad Pataky were and they could add bonus points for PSU.
As far as what Session I looks like for Iowa:
125: McD gets a bye in the first round and will face (8) Thomas Kelliher (Wisco) or Logan Arlis (Illini) in the quarterfinals. He hasn't faced either guy this year or in his career.
133: Ramos gets a bye in the first round and will face (6) David Thorn (Minny) in the quarterfinals. As mentioned before, these two have a rivalry dating back to high school; he beat Thorn via decision (7-3) in the dual earlier this year.
141: Marion gets a bye in the first round and will face either (7) Jake Fleckenstein (Purd) or Mitchell Richey (Ind) in the quarterfinals. Marion beat both Fleckenstein and Richey via major decisions (16-5 and 13-5, respectively) earlier this year.
149: Ballweg faces (6) Eric Grajales (Mich) in the first round. Grajales beat him via major decision (13-3) at the dual earlier this year and looked far bigger and stronger than him in the match. Needless to say, this is not a good draw for Mark. Should he beat Grajales, he'll face (3) Kurt Kinser (Ind) in the quarterfinals. Kinser beat Ballweg's brother, Matt, via decision (2-0) earlier this year. If he loses to Grajales, he'll face either (5) Cole Schmitt (Wisco), (4) Eric Terrazas (Illini), or Sam Patacsil (Purd) in the conosolation bracket. Remember: Ballweg must win one match at Big Tens to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
157: DSJ faces Sean Nemec (OSU) in the first round. He beat Nemec via decision (9-3) earlier this year. Win and he'll face (7) Sean McMurray (MSU) in the quarterfinals. He hasn't faced McMurray this year.
165: Janssen gets a bye in the first round and will face (4) Conrad Polz (Illini) in the quarterfinals. He beat Polz via decision (6-5) at Midlands earlier this year.
174: Lofthouse the Younger faces Ben Friedl (Illini) in the first round. He hasn't faced Friedl yet this year. Win and he'll face (4) Luke Manuel (Purd) in the quarterfinals. Manuel beat him via decision (6-5) at the dual earlier this year.
184: Gambrall gets a bye in the first round and will face (6) AJ Kissel (Purd) in the quarterfinals. He hasn't faced Kissel this year, although he did beat his brother via major decision (12-3) earlier this year.
197: Lofthouse the Elder faces John Schoen (jNW) in the first round. He hasn't faced Schoen yet this year since Lofthouse sat out the jNW dual meet, although he did beat him via decision (4-3) last season. Win and he'll face (7) Joe Barczak (Illini) in the quarterfinals. He hasn't faced him before.
HWT: Rasing gets a bye in the first round and will face either (6) Eric Bugenhagen (Wisco) or Pat Walker (Illini) in the quarterfinals. He hasn't faced either guy before.
So a tough draw for Ballweg and lots of new faces among the opponent lists -- not exactly an ideal arrangement, frankly. Session I begins at 10am (CST) tomorrow morning; we'll see you in the open thread.