The Big Ten Tournament was a resounding successful for the Hawkeyes and one that ended in our first outright B1G championship in one decade.
However, there was one prominent black-eye that came from the weekend and that was our former All-American and #2 seeded Kaleb Young going 0-2 and failing to auto-qualify for the NCAA’s; the only Hawkeye to do so.
We knew there was a strong possibility that Young would garner an at-large bid, but that was certainly no guarantee and it made for a strenuous 48 hours as we sat around waiting for the remaining names to drop.
The NCAA’s announced the rest of the field this afternoon and thankfully Kaleb Young’s name was on that list. With his addition, the Hawkeyes are now fielding their entire lineup and sending all 10 starters to the big show. This is the first time we’ve done that since 2015.
To be considered for an at-large berth, Young needed to meet at least two of the following criteria: 70% winning percentage, top 33 of RPI rankings, top 33 of coaches’ ranking, and at least one win over another qualifier. Young can checkmark all those boxes.
- Record 15-5 (75.00%)
- #5 RPI (prior to B1G’s)
- #6 Coaches (prior to B1G’s)
- And wins over national qualifiers: Will Lewan (Mich), Jacob Tucker (MSU), Peyton Robb (Neb), Kendall Coleman (Pur), to name a handful.
Despite the solid record and winning the Midlands Championship, KY hasn’t looked particularly sharp this year and hasn’t recorded a bonus point win since the Midlands. That’s a lengthy stretch of time to go without racking up offensive points and has made several of his matches much closer than they had any right to be.
With that said, KY has been gifted a second chance and is now playing with house money. While we had high expectations coming into the season, even some of us claiming him to be a title contender (by some of us I mean me) we should probably temper those high hopes now. While I still think he can finish on the podium, he has to catch fire to do it and wrestle at a level he has yet to do this season. Especially if he’s coming from a low seeding standpoint.
We can look back to Sam Stoll’s at-large bid last year to gauge where KY might land. Stoll went 1-2 in the B1G’s and was sitting at a 9-5 record going into the NCAA’s and wound up with a #28 seed. While I’d be incredibly shocked if KY fell that low, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the mid teens. Failing to even place in his own conference tourney is going to be the biggest knock to his seed, but he does have a solid ranking still in front of his name that’ll keep him from drifting too far down the board. Regardless of where he goes, he’s going to have tough matchup in the 2nd round and has unquestionably made his road to the poidum more difficult.
The important thing is, he made it and he has another chance to prove he belongs. We need all 10 guys to execute if we want to bring a title back to Iowa City. This includes Young and he knows it. Now, he needs tap back into that swagger that made him an All-American last year and find his groove.
The tournament brackets and seeding will be released Wednesday, March 11 at 5:00PM CT.