(Ed: bumped for awesomeness--I'm still riding the Z-Pain train high!--CG)
Only one of the 6 major college wrestling ranking services have yet to update their rankings this week (D1CW), but the other five have. With zPain Retherford's stunning upset over 2x brutus champ Logan Stieber and Ed Ruth battling back from his ill-advised tangle with the late-night Taco Bell, the numbers are beginning to bring Penn State into a more realistically likely light. While I enjoyed some of your suggestions for inserting Bonus Point estimation methodology, I abstained, choosing to focus instead on aggregating others' estimations of wrestler resumes. To honor the age-old biter spirit of the internet I guess. See also: lazy. I've treated the average as if they were tourney seeds and projected Placement & Advancement Points as if the wrestlers were to indeed finish in the places their rankings average indicates. So here's Penn State's:
So, notice anything new? zPain's average has climbed into the Top 5, but nobody has ranked him as the new number 1. Why is that? A couple reasons, but mostly because rankers call rankings rankings (AND NOT PREDICTIONS). Seriously, they go out of their way to emphasize this. It's all resume, resume, resume. Now, with an undefeated record and a win over the 2x champ, why isn't Zain's resume worthy of the number one slot, you might ask? The short answer his body of work remains too small still. Flo's Christian Pyles puts the most explanation into each weight's changes each week and he reminds Penn State fans how early it still is:
Zain gets a huge jump but doesn't pass undefeated AA's in Dardanes and Port. Yet. Can't be too reactive, but he'll have his chances when Big 10 duals keep rolling and Scuffle goes down.
Ruth's average & projected points are no longer skewed as AWN has moved him from the rankings bench and back into the top spot. 149 & 157 are still messy, as Intermat, Flo & WinMag continue to rank the Altons, who have not yet competed. And Zach Beitz debuts in GAH's rankings at number 31! And even though Sanderson has appeared to be leaning toward Gulibon at 133, WinMag & D1CW are still ranking Conaway there. McIntosh's elbow made him miss a nice chance to climb by holding him out against Top-6 Nick Heflin, but he'll have all the opportunity he'll need to show he's the man when the Southern Scuffle finally gets here over New Years. Intermat seems to be the highest on Penn State as all 8 of our AA-ranked wrestlers are in the Top-5; they're followed closely by WinMag, who also have 8 Penn Staters ranked as AAs and an average rank of 5.9.
Let's take a look at Iowa's table, to see whose positions are most at stake in the head-to-head matchups this weekend:
You can see Iowa's point total is 2 points better than Penn State's at the moment, but their lineup is far more solidified right now. Their 197-pounder Burak has been held out of competing the past few duals, so their totals are affected by GAH, AWN & D1CW opting not to rank him. But other than that and whatever juggling Tom Brands may continue to try to solve their Brent Metcalf jinx, the lineup in that table is most likely the one Iowa will bring to B1Gs and Nationals. Josh Dziewa (pronounced--and often phonetically spelled because of that pronunciation, 'Jeeva') has one of the widest disparities of any wrestler on the top four teams; Intermat ranks him #9 and Flo's CP has him unranked. His lone loss was getting decked by new number one Mitchell Port, but he'll have chances to prove himself as the dual season winds on. Starting with this weekend! So how bout those matchups:
125: These two are unlikely to move much in the event of a Nico win, but could definitely swap places with a Clark win.
133: Ramos looks like he's been unfairly punished for that close loss to #1 A.J. Schopp, but his rank would really tumble if he slips up again against the Lions on Saturday (hint: not likely). It sounds like Sanderson is going with Gulibon, whose bumpy Top-20 ranking would get a serious boost with an upset over T-Ram.
141: Penn Staters know a little more about what we've got at this weight now, but the season rolls on, and it's still early. Jeeva's a funky wrestler who can score from unorthodox positions. A win over zPain would change things, but a loss probably wouldn't for either wrestler.
149: Rankers pretty much know what they've got in Mike Kelly by now. His dedication to the sport and to that weight cut are admirable, but he's still got a lot of work to do to qualify for Nationals this year. A win for him over Beitz won't be enough for any of the services to jump him into the Top-20, and the same goes for a Beitz win. No real national implications in this match, but it could be a very critical one to the result of the dual.
157: Like all number one's, the only place DSJ can go is down. Vollrath has been very close against Napoli & Taffur and an upset win over DSJ in Carver would surely convince GAH, AWN & D1CW to boost him maybe into the Top-10. 157 is a pretty tight class, though, so a DSJ stumble probably wouldn't drop him out of the Top-5.
165: The rise in the rankings of Nick Moore is a development Penn Staters should keep an eye on, as a Top-4 finish by Moore will bring vital team points to Iowa's hopes of ending the Lions reign of tourney domination. He's already been tech'd twice by David Taylor, most recently at B1Gs in March (in the first period!) and he's got a nice win over Iowa State's Moreno, so another mopping by DT is unlikely to affect him much. If he's able to upset Tyler Caldwell in the Okie State dual, though, look out!
174: The Brown-Evans match in last year's dual was the most thrilling in a slew of thrilling matchups, and this year's is likely to be similar. After Evans pulled out the gutty win at CHA, Brown returned the favor at B1Gs. Brown's the returning B1G champion and national finalist, but these guys are very, very close. A win by Brown wouldn't change anything, but an Evans win would again reshuffle the Top-6.
184: Ed Ruth hasn't lost since March of 2011. If he does on Saturday, to most service's #2, Ethen Lofthouse, it would be an upset akin to zPain over Stieber last week. If that DID happen, the two would probably switch places. Otherwise, likely status quo.
197: I haven't read yet who the Hawks expect to compete at this weight on Saturday night. If Burak is ready to go, he can definitely climb with a win over McIntosh, who would probably fall outside the Top-10. A McIntosh win won't change his own ranking much, and probably won't affect Burak much either.
HWT: Pretty much the same thing here. If Lawson is ready to take the next step, facing Telford is the time to show it. Heavyweight is loaded again this year, though, so an upset win might only boost him a few slots--and he might not even pass Telford who would be on the way down. If chalk prevails, there will be little effect on either's rank.
Since this is getting long & I'm getting bored, here's Minnesota's chart presented with hasty comment:
It's the climb of Minny's middle weights that forced my change of tune as to the criticality of the Altons to PSU's fourpeat hopes. Their 7 All-Americans--their averages--are all in the Top-5. It's going to take an awful lot of Penn State Bonus Points to fend off a Minnesota finish in those placements. Oklahoma State clocks in at 75 team points, so I left them off. It's going to be a 3-team race in March--for both B1Gs and Nationals.