As expected, the Big Ten today announced the pre-seeds for the 2015 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament, taking place this Saturday and Sunday in Columbus. There weren't too many surprises and the ones that were generally led to Iowa wrestlers being seeded higher than I had expected. So that was nice. More exhaustive previews of this weekend's tournament will be coming later in the week, so for now let's just go with quick and dirty breakdowns.
As for why there are only 8 pre-seeds at some weights and 14 at others, here's the explanation from the Big Ten:
The pre-seeds, as voted on by the conference's coaches, rank the top eight wrestlers in two weight classes, along with all 14 starters in eight weight classes due to the Big Ten receiving eight or more NCAA Championships qualifier allocations in those classes.
Just two weights -- 125 and 149 -- received fewer than 8 automatic qualifier spots for the NCAA Tournament. However, while the other weight wrestlers were seeded out to 14, I do not believe that this means that the brackets will necessarily be formatted as a traditional 16-team bracket (i.e., with the #1 and #2 seeds receiving byes, the #3 seed facing the #14 seed, the #4 seed facing the #13 seed, etc.), as this could unfairly skew the bonus point potential for some teams (Iowa and Ohio State each have three #1 seeded wrestlers and they would be favored to get bonus points in those first round matchups; if they get byes in the first round instead, they wouldn't have a chance to score bonus points). But we'll have to wait and see how the brackets are drawn up when they're released on Friday.
|3||Nathan Tomasello||Ohio State|
|5||Jordan Conaway||Penn State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: Gilman earning the #1 pre-seed is a nice surprise, but it seems to reflect that fact that he wrestled a full Big Ten schedule and went undefeated, while Jesse Delgado only wrestled a partial schedule (while recovering from injury). Getting the #1 seed for Gilman is extra-nice because it keeps Delgado and Tomasello on the opposite side of the bracket and ensures that Gilman will only have to beat one of them to win a Big Ten championship.
|3||Jimmy Gulibon||Penn State|
|4||Johnni DiJulius||Ohio State|
|13||Garth Yenter||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: Clark also got a higher-than-expected pre-seed, as the coaches looked past his so-so record in Big Ten dual meets to give him the #5 pre-seed. That gives him a chance in the quarterfinals to avenge his loss to DiJulius from earlier in the season, although it also means he could get a very tricky-looking semifinal matchup with #1 Chris Dardanes. I would have preferred to see Clark on Taylor's side of the bracket instead. Alas.
|1||Logan Stieber||Ohio State|
|9||Kade Moss||Penn State|
|11||Javier Gasca III||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: The good news? Dziewa is on the opposite side of the bracket from human steamroller Logan Stieber. The bad news? He'll have to go through #3 Anthony Abidin (undefeated in the Big Ten) and #2 Nick Dardanes (who ragdolled Jeva earlier this season) to get to the finals. Dziewa better be prepared to do work in the consolation bracket.
|3||Hunter Stieber||Ohio State|
|6||Zack Beitz||Penn State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: As expected (and deserved), Sorensen got the top pre-seed here; he beat the wrestlers seeded 2-6 during the regular season, so he damn well better have been the #1 seed here. The wildcard at this weight was always going to be Hunter Stieber, given his health concerns. The Big Ten gave him a huge benefit of the doubt and gave him a #3 pre-seed. That said, that's good news where Sorensen is concerned -- I'm all for letting Tsirtsis and Stieber beat themselves up on the opposite side of the bracket. This bracket sets up very nicely for Sorensen.
|6||Josh Demas||Ohio State|
|9||Luke Frey||Penn State|
|14||Travis Curley||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: We had Kelly's projected seed pegged for #10, so yeah seeing him at #7 instead is quite a surprise. If Kelly can avenge a loss to Mascala from earlier in the season, he'd probably get another shot in the quarterfinals at Dylan Ness -- who Kelly took to the limit in a memorable match in Minneapolis earlier in the season. I think it's still going to be a tall order for Kelly to grab one of the 8 automatic qualifer spots at this weight, given the depth of quality here, but just wrestling to seed would get the job done.
|1||Bo Jordan||Ohio State|
|6||Garett Hammond||Penn State|
|13||Roger Wildmo||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: This would be one of the few weights where our pre-seed was too high rather than too low for an Iowa wrestler; we had Nick Moore pegged for #5 seed and the Big Ten gave him a #7 seed. It's hard to be too aggrieved by that given Moore's inconsistent form all season, though. A potential quarterfinal matchup with #2 Isaac Jordan doesn't look very fun, so Moore, like Dziewa, may need to do most of his damage in the consolation bracket to lock up an automatic qualifier.
|2||Matt Brown||Penn State|
|6||Mark Martin||Ohio State|
|13||Nick Proctor||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: No shocks here, although that's no surprise -- 174 has been one of the more predictable weights all season long. Evans has a potential quarterfinal matchup with #6 Mark Martin, one of several potential Iowa-Ohio State showdowns that could have a big impact on the team championship race.
|5||Kenny Courts||Ohio State|
|8||Matt McCutcheon||Penn State|
|9||John Rizqallah||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: Brooks earned the top seed, as expected, but there were some shake-ups below him. McCutcheon and Pfarr/Courts is a decent path to the finals for Brooks, although it won't be a piece of cake, either.
|1||Kyle Snyder||Ohio State|
|2||Morgan McIntosh||Penn State|
|10||Nick McDiarmid||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: No surprises. To get to the finals, Burak will have to beat STUDEBAKER~! and Snyder (for a second time this season). In all honesty, that's a pretty decent draw for Burak -- avoiding McIntosh and Schiller is good and Burak has beaten Snyder once already this season (albeit in semi-bizarre fashion).
|5||Jimmy Lawson||Penn State|
|9||Nick Tavanello||Ohio State|
|12||Chris Nash||Michigan State|
SNAP JUDGMENT: No surprises here, either. While #4 feels low for Telford after the strong season he's had (and the fact that he has wins over #1 Medbery and #3 McMullan), I maintain that this is actually a very nice draw for Bobby. McMullan and Coon have given him plenty of trouble over his career (although not as much the happily departed Tony Nelson did), so having them on the other side of the bracket is good news indeed.
So how do the projected points look for Iowa based on these pre-seeds? Good... although not necessarily good enough.
That's a slim lead for Iowa over Ohio State -- but those projected points also don't factor in bonus points. I would favor Ohio State to score more bonus points than Iowa (mainly because they have Logan Stieber, but Nathan Tomasello, Bo Jordan, and Kyle Snyder could also rack up some points for them), which would mean that Iowa would need to out-perform their seeds and/or have Ohio State under-perform their own seeds. Those are both very possible, though -- there are a few weights where Iowa certainly could do better than expected (133 and 285 seem most likely) and Ohio State is no guarantee to wrestle to seed, as anyone who watched them slump to an upset loss against Lehigh at National Duals can attest. Outside of Stieber, Tomasello, and Snyder, the form of their remaining wrestlers this season has been very haphazard. It should be a hell of a race to the finish line -- and the Big Ten Championship that really matters -- on Sunday.