It's been awhile since I last updated these wonderful rankings. Perhaps it's time we dove back into them, yeah?
The upward trajectory continues after our Hawkeyes vaporized Indiana and Purdue this past weekend, 41-0, each. Though our individual rankings have roughly stayed the same, the team is beginning to slowly distance ourselves from the rest of the field for the projected points in March.
But please remember, projected points are exactly that, projected. They’re theorized and guessed on, it’s purely subjective (or in Wrestlestats case, algorithmic). Everyone still has to go out there and wrestle their matches. Some will wrestle above their seeds and certainly, some will wrestle below. Regardless, every major ranking seems to be on the same page that the Hawks are loaded and looking damn good at this point in the season.
*indicates overall ranking per class via Wrestlestat.com
All ten starters appear inside the top 10 in every ranking I have listed. According to Flowrestling, we have nine guys inside the top 5 with Abe Assad as the lone ranger sitting at #9. Though he does face off with #5 Taylor Venz (Nebraska) this weekend, so he’ll have an opportunity to raise his stock in a hurry.
For the most part, all the rankings per individuals are within a couple spots, but there is some discrepancy with Max Murin. Flo and Track have his sitting comfy at #3, while Intermat plugs him in at #6 and Wrestlestat has him as low as #10.
TBH, Murin could land anywhere on the spectrum. He’s wrestled incredibly well so far, as his 10-0 record would indicate, but his best win on the season is over #4 Tristan Moran, who he beat 3-2, in the Wisconsin dual. In turn, Moran recently upset former All-Americans, #8 Chad Red (Nebraska) and #5 Mitch McKee (Minnesota), which has helped to drive Mad Max up the rankings further. More or less, Max has benefited from winning the matches he should while guys above him have faulted. Right now it’s a battle of attrition and it’s playing to his favor.
Max will get a chance to prove he belongs that high because when he faces off with Chad Red this weekend.
Since my last rankings post, Cassioppi has bolted up and now checks in at #3 or #4 across all platforms. His decisive wins over former All-Americans #4 Matt Stencel (Central Mich) and #5 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin) at the Midlands, has played a large part in his ascent. Also, he’s now beaten Hillger twice on the season.
There are only three undefeated teams left in the land: Iowa, NC State, and Virginia Tech. Penn State is back up to #2 in all rankings after Nebraska had a meltdown against Wisconsin, losing 25-18.
Eight of the top ten teams are from the Big Ten. The other two that have pushed their way in is Princeton and Arizona State. Princeton isn’t a particularly strong dual team, but they have three grapplers (#3 Pat Glory, #5 Quincy Monday, and #2 Patrick Brucki), that can make a deep push in March, thus inflating their ranking. ASU is a much more rounded team, currently with seven inside the top 20 and led by the #1 ranked 184lber in the country, Zahid Valencia. I truly wish we could find a way to get ASU on our schedule on a yearly basis.
It should also be noted that the returning heavyweight champ, Anthony Cassar (PSU) is officially done for the season. He went down with an apparent shoulder injury in the US Open and never made it back to the mat. There’s also some rumblings coming from Pennsylvania that his collegiate career could be over as well.
Likewise, Penn State’s 197 pounder, Kyle Conel, is also out. As of the time of writing, I have yet to hear if he'll pursue another medical waiver or not. These are two massive setbacks for the Nittany Lions and could potentially cost them several points come tournament time. Conel was definitely struggling this season, but he was still a dangerous opponent.
#23 Shakur Rasheed is back from injury and has rejoined the team, but and is going up a weight to fill in for Conel at 197. With two vacancies to fill, Cael Sanderson opted to pull the redshirts from true freshmen Aaron Brooks and Seth Nevills, who will now be commandeering 184 and 285, respectively.
The shift in these three weights is the primary reason for PSU’s lower point total, but make no mistake about it, they’ll definitely tally more than what the projections indicate. Brooks and Nevills are the real deal and we’ll be battling them soon enough to see for ourselves, but expect them to climb the rankings, thus adding to PSU’s points output. Rasheed has struggled out of the gate, splitting his first two matches, but if he’s back to 100% and can handle the new weight, he’s a legit finals contender.
Before I wrap this diddy up, I want to jump back up and draw attention to our 149lbs and 184lbs wrestlers. We have six, yes SIX guys in Wrestlestats top 20. The depth of these two weight classes is unreal. It’s safe to say that Glosser and Turk have played a part in pushing Lugo’s improvements this year. Without these two guys in the room it’s possible Lugo wouldn’t be where he’s currently at and that’s #1.
Coaches Tom and Terry Brands, Ryan Morningstar, and Bobby Telford have these guys zero’d in at the moment, but with the heart of the Big Ten season looming only a few days away, it’s imperative we keep that momentum moving forward. Everyone, myself included, loves to obsess over rankings, but with the high-caliber competition coming up, things could, for better or worse, shake up in a hurry. These next three weeks against #10 Nebraska, #3 OSU, and #2 PSU are going to tell us a lot. Everybody, strap!
The Best Duals This Weekend:
#3 Ohio St vs #4 Wisconsin
#15 OK State vs West Virginia
#7 Arizona State vs Oregon State
#11 Lehigh vs American
#12 NC State vs Drexel
#13 Iowa State vs South Dakota State
Michigan vs Maryland
Cornell vs Rutgers
#1 Iowa vs #10 Nebraska
#8 Northwestern vs Indiana
#13 Virginia Tech vs Binghamton
#2 PSU vs Rutgers
#3 Ohio State vs Illinois
#5 Minnesota vs Michigan
#13 Iowa State vs North Dakota State